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Islamism is a captivating phenomenon that has been continuously visited in literature since its emergence in the 1970's. In particular, the Iranian Revolution has received curious attention in the pursuit to understand the nature, power and effects of Islamism. This essay makes a critical assessment of the opinions journalist Afshin Molavi's draws on Iran and Islamism in his journal styled compilation Persian Pilgrimages: Journeys across Iran, `Pilgrimage: The Shrine of Ayatollah Khomeini' . The discussion will explore Molavi's ideas against the historical narrative of David Reynolds' One World Divisible: A Global History Since 1945 and the opinionated informative piece Islamic Fundamentalism, `The Transcendence of Islam' by Youssef M Choueiri.

Molavi draws our attention to two main areas of thought through his descriptions of the atmosphere at the Shrine of Ayatollah Khomeini, which is situated between political power capital Tehran and ancient religious city Qom (although closer to Tehran).

Using, amongst other things, the convenience of the Shrine's position - the symbolic positioning of the Shrine to convey that `Khomeini was attracted to Tehran more than Qom', because `in Tehran, there was power...from there he could remake Iran and direct the "Islamic Revolution"' - Molavi's first observation is that `Khomeini [is] more populist politician than quietist cleric' . This view appears to be illustrated with a number of similar points. Firstly, Molavi presents the clerical opinion of Khomeini's system of government through reformist Muslim cleric Mohsen Kadivar, who `describes Islam's submission as directed at God alone... [and] criticizes clerical rule' . Molavi then informs the reader that Kadiver is not alone on t...

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...conomy occupies no thought in the Iranian mind, because clearly as humans the desire for materialism is also great. However, contrary to what Molavi appears to deem important amongst Iranians, the evidence contends that the highly civilian supported ascent of political Islam owes its greatest to the fragile foundations of secular politics and to the political vacuum that the Shah's regime effectively created. In their desire to maintain self-respect, to possess an identity not borrowed from abroad, the Iranian people chose the indigenous response; Islam. It then follows that Khomeini is both equally populist politician and quietist cleric. Populist politician as apparent through his opportunistic and manoeuvring tactics in securing power, and quietist cleric as apparent through the hope, sense of direction and ideology he implants in the minds of Iran and beyond.
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