From ‘Islamism’ to ‘Spiritualism’? the Individualisation of ‘Religion’ in Iran
During the Islamic revolution of 1979, Mosques became the main ‘vehicles’ for the religio-political ideology of the revolution. Unlike Maqbarahs, they embraced dissidents from a variety of social classes ranged from emigrants from rural areas to educated liberals and intellectuals. Approaching the fortieth anniversary of the revolution now, the findings of our three-year research project illustrates that whilst the religious status of Mosques is decreasing, Maqbarahs as well as other apolitical venues are increasingly becoming the main ‘vehicles’ for the expression of more individualistic and spiritual sensations, rather than the manifestation of an established and institutionalised religio-political ideology.
Taking inspiration from a social constructionist approach, participant observation and thirty semi-structured interviews in three Maqbarahs in north-west Iran, this paper aims to partly report the findings of this project by focusing on the meanings of ‘religion’ (and of course ‘non-religion’) attached to Maqbarahs and their material culture as well as the changes our informants have experienced through time and space, particularly during the last thirty years.