Essay on Iranian Revolution

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Evaluate the role of Islamic fundamentalism in the 1979 Iranian revolution (1200)

Various factors influenced the 1979 Iranian revolution, but at the core of this significant event was Islamic fundamentalism. The Iranian religious leader, Ayatollah Khomeini, led this movement to end the thirty-seven-year reign of Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi, also known as the Shah of Iran (Diller 1991, p.152). The revolution was a combination of mounting social, economic, political and religious strains. The nation of Iran was never colonized, unlike some of its bordering countries, making its people intolerant of external influences. The Shah had gradually westernized and secularized his country, creating a strong American presence that was being felt
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This continued to exacerbate the gap between the social classes of Iran. The main reason for the Shah’s confidence in bringing his people prosperity was the mass amount of revenue Iran was generating from Oil. The nationalization of Iran’s oil in the fifties meant increased profits for the nation. Iran’s economy was growing exponentially; its GDP was five times higher in 1976 than it was in 1960 (Clawson, p.15). Islamic modernists, such as Marxist Mujaheddin-e-Khalq, opposed the Shah’s capitalist economic policies (Diller 1991, p.152). There were several other groups that were not pleased with the Shah’s growing focus on economic growth, including the ulemas (councils composed of local Mullahs or respected religious leaders) (Sanders 1990, p.66). These ulemas possessed considerable local influence, as they were in charge of the educational systems and had influence over the urban poor and bazaar merchants (Diller 1991, p.152). In the midst of all that was going on in Iran, Khomeini lived in exile in Paris. The Ayatollah however, was well informed, and managed to sneak tapes into the country to his supporters and the local ulemas. These tapes spread the word of Islamic fundamentalism to these groups that opposed that Shah, and gave them a binding power that eventually would be the revolution of February 1979. Not long, Khomeini had

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