Religious and Secular Attitudes Towards Death: The Study of a Sample of University Students in Tehran

Thursday, 14 July 2016: 16:30
Location: Hörsaal 21 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Seyed Hossein SERAJZADEH, Kharazmi University of Tehran, Iran
Masoud ZAMANIMOGHADAM, Kharazmi University of Tehran, Iran
Death is an inevitable phenomenon for all human beings and one of their main concerns and anxieties. However, people’s thoughts and concerns about death are constructed in a social context; and religious traditions are one of the main sources for answering the question of death and overcoming unpleasant experiences associated with it. Meanwhile, with the growth of non-religious meaning systems in the modern world, new non-religious interpretations of death have accrued. Iranian society has had a strong religious tradition which has greatly influenced people’s way of thinking about everything, including death. Nevertheless, with the emergence of modern ideas and philosophies, similar to many other societies, attitude towards death is getting more diverse, particularly when youth and educated people are concerned. This article tries to explore the diverse thoughts and understandings of a sample of Iranian students regardingdeath. Its main concern is to compare the ideas of religious and non-religious students about death. Regarding religious commitments, four categories of students were recognized, that is, atheists, agnostics, passive religious, and active religious. The datawere collected from a sample that were chosen both purposive and theoretically, through open-ended questions and in-depth interviews. They were analyzed by the application of grounded theory method. The religious and secular interviewees’ thoughts about death are compared in eight major categories, and the concluded core category is “life oriented thoughts of death”. These categories are explored and discussed in the paper.