x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Dispelling the myths of Shia Islam and democracy in Iran

A book that aims to unravel the misguided western views on Iran and reveal a process of democratisation under way in the strict Muslim country

Shi'ism and the Democratisation Process in Iran
Ibrahim Moussawi
Shi'ism and the Democratisation Process in Iran Ibrahim Moussawi

In this book, political analyst Ibrahim Moussawi details his opinion of how democracy and Islam coexist in the country while also shedding light on how the process of democratisation is impacting wilayat al-faqih, Iran's system of guardianship which calls for one person to rule as a supreme leader.

The idea of democracy and Islam existing side by side is often scorned in the West and it is Moussawi's intention to dispel myths that wilayat al-faqih is predisposed to tyranny. He argues that democracy can and does take root in the Muslim world but that it is wrong to assume "it will take the same course and produce the same results" of western democracy.

He tells of how, when the Islamic Republic of Iran was created in 1979, the first Supreme Leader, Ruhollah Khomeini, refused to include the word "democratic" in the country's name, as principles of freedom and democracy are not only compatible with Islam but, rather, are inherent in it.

Although filled with political jargon and regularly assuming knowledge of Iran beyond the scope of the casual reader, this book is rigorously researched and is at its most engaging when Moussawi contrasts Iran's processes of government with that of the West, particularly on subjects such as the impact of secularism.