New Publication | God and Man in Tehran: Contending Visions of the Divine from the Qajars to the Islamic Republic

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In God and Man in Tehran, Hossein Kamaly explores the historical processes that have made and unmade contending visions of God in Iran’s capital throughout the past two hundred years. Kamaly examines how ideas of God have been mobilized, contested, and transformed, emphasizing how notions of the divine have given shape to and in turn have been shaped by divergent conceptualizations of nature, reason, law, morality, and authority.

The book analyzes official government policies, modern textbooks, and university curricula; popular beliefs and ritual practices; and philosophical and juridical attitudes toward theological questions in traditional institutions. Kamaly considers continuity and change in religiosity under the Qajar and Pahlavi dynasties; the significance of outbreaks of messianic expectations; why a modernizing nation took a sudden turn toward state religiosity; and how the Islamic Republic deploys visions of God against foreign enemies and domestic critics. Beyond the majority Shia Muslim population, the book includes minority and suppressed voices. With a focus on the diversity of ideas of the divine, God and Man in Tehran offers a novel perspective on the intellectual movements that have shaped Iranian modernity.

Hossein Kamaly is a scholar of the Middle East, focusing on the history of ideas. He has taught at Barnard College and Columbia University and lives in Larchmont, NY.