An Analytical-Critical Reading of the Confrontation of Religion and Human Sciences in Contemporary Iran

Document Type : Research Paper


Assistant Professor, Institute for Humanities and Cultural Studies, Tehran, Iran.


Serious considerations of the relationship between religion and human sciences, and the formulation of human sciences as adapted to the cultural context of Islamic Iran, should be traced back to the intellectual context prior to the Islamic Revolution (1979) and in the thoughts of intellectuals such as ʿAllāma Ṭabāṭabāʾī, Muṭahharī, ʿAlī Sharīʿatī, and others. In the Seminary of Qom, efforts have been made in 1960s and 1970s to confront the ideas in modern Western philosophy and human sciences from the perspective of the Islamic culture and philosophy. In the post-revolutionary strands, however, there is no consensus on the possibility and necessity as well as methodology of indigenization (or Islamization) of human sciences. Even those who advocate the Islamization of sciences do not agree over the grounds, the method, and the strategy. The relationship between religion and human sciences can be studied at three levels: 1. The epistemological level: considering human sciences as epistemic fields—this can be referred to as an epistemological-propositional conception of human sciences.‌2. The institutional level: The institutional level is concerned with sociological studies of the institution of science as a major and crucial institution of a society. Émile Durkheim (1858-1917), as a key intellectual in human sciences, refers to sociology as a “science of institutions, their genesis and their functioning” (Durkheim 1964, 45). This level can be referred to as the academic conception of human sciences. 3. The discursive level: how human sciences have been experienced and understood by intellectual, cultural, social, religious and even political currents, what actions and reactions it has provoked, and how effective it has been in the field of policy-making and development plans. This level can be referred to as the discursive‌‌ conception of human science. The main issues in contemporary Iran have been epistemic and conceptual, whereas institutionalization and discourse were not equally appreciated. In recent years, there have been attempts, particularly by the Council for Transformation in Human Sciences, to tie the epistemic level to both institutional and discursive levels. This article provides an analytical-critical review of this experience and concludes with suggestions for improving the experience.


Alston, William.1376 Sh. Religion and New Perspectives. Translated by Ghulāmḥusayn Tavakkulī. Qom: Islamic Propagation Office Publications.
Alipour, Mahdi and Hassani, Sayyed Hamidreza. 1389 Sh. Paradigm-hayi ijtihadi-yi danish-i dini. Qom: Research Institute of Hawzeh and University.
Ashouri, Daryoush. 2011. “On human sciences.” Accessed March 8, 2020.
Durkheim, Émile. 1964. The Rules of Sociological Method. Translated by Sarah A. Solovay and John M. Mueller. Glencoe: The Free Press.
Ensafnews. 1393 Sh. “Stop the Change.” Accessed March 8, 2020.
Foucault, M. 1991. Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison. Harmondsworth: Penguin.
Foucault, M. 1978. The History of Sexuality. Volume 1: An Introduction. Translated by Robert Hurley. Harmondsworth: Penguin.
Freund, Julien. 1386 Sh. Les theories des sciences humaines. Translated by ‘Alī Muḥammad Kardān. Markaz-i Nashr-i Danishgāhī .
Haddad-Adel, Gholam Ali. “On  Transformation of Human Sciences.” Accessed March 8, 2020.
Hassani, Sayyed Hamidreza et al. 1390 Sh. ‘Ilm-i dini, didgah-ha va mulahizat. Qom: Research Institute of Howzeh and University.
Irna. 1393 Sh. “Changing the Course Syllabus of Political Science in Dialogue with Two For and Against.” Accessed March 8, 2020.
Javadi Amoli, Abdullah. 1389 Sh. Manzilat-i ‘aql dar hindisi-yi ma‘rifat-i dini. Edited by Ahmad Vaezi. Qom: Isra Publications.
Kafi, Majid. 1379 Sh. “Bawar-hayi ‘Ilm-i Dini.” Ravish-shenasi-yi ‘ulum-i insani 6 (2): 42-43. 1430 AH. “Statements in a Group Meeting of Women Quran Researchers in the Country.” Accessed March 8, 2020.
Malekian, Mostafa. 1378 Sh. “Ta’ammulati chand dar bab-i imkan va zarurat-i islami shudan-i.” Naqd va nazar 5 (3):  216-33.
Mesbah Yazdi, Mohammad Taqi. 1389 Sh. Justar-hayi dar falsafi-yi ‘ulum-i insani az didgah-i Ayatollah Mesbah Yazdi. Qom: Imam Khomeini Education and Research Institute Publications.
Mirbagheri, Seyyed Muhammad Mahdi. 1391 Sh. “Jaryan-shinasi-yi tawlid-i ‘ulum-i insani-yi islami” In Majmu‘ih maqalat-i hamayish-i tahavvul dar ‘ulum-i insani (Proceedings of the Conference on Transformation of Humanities). Qom: Ketabe Farda Publication.
Muṭahharī, Murtaḍā. 1381 Sh. Collected works, vol. 2. Tehran: Sadra Publications.
Movahhed Abtahi, Seyyed Mohammad Taqi. 1395 Sh. Tahlili bar andishi-hayi ‘ilm-i dini dar jahan-i Islam. Qom: Al-Mustafa International Center for Translation and Publication.
Paya, Ali. 1386 Sh. “Mulahizati naqqadanih darbari-yi du mafhum-i ‘ilm-i dini va ‘ilme bumi.” Ravish-Shenasi-yi ‘Ulum-i Insani 3 (10-11):  39-76.
Qāni‘īrād, Muḥammad Amīn. 1382 Sh. Nāhamzamānī-yi dānish: ravābiṭ-i ‘ilm va niẓām-hāyi ijtimā‘ī-iqtiṣādī dar Īrā. Tehran: National Institute for Research in Scientific Policy of Iran.
Qurashī, Sayyid ‘Alī Akbar. 1371 Sh. Qāmūs-i Qur’ān. Qom: Dar al-Kutub al-Islamiyya.
Shojaei Jeshvaghani, Malek. 1394 Sh. The Iranian Confrontation with Modern Humanities. Unpublished research. Tehran: Institute of Humanities and Cultural Studies.
 Strategic Campaign of Executing the Comprehensive Scientific Plan of Iran. 1396 Sh. The Trend of Developments in Indexes of Science and Technology in the Islamic Republic of Iran (1380-1393). Tehran: Supreme Council of Cultural Revolution publications.
The Ministry of Science. 2020. “List of Former Scientific-Research and Scientific-Promotional Journals until May 2019.” Accessed March 8, 2020.
The Office of the Supreme Council of Cultural Revolution. 1392 Sh. Guzarish-i ‘amalkard-i shawra-yi takhassusi-yi tahawwul va irtiqa-yi ‘ulum-i insani. Tehran: Supreme Council of Cultural Revolution publications.
Zākir Ṣāliḥī, Ghulāmriḍā. 1389 Sh. Sinkh-i dīdgāh-hāyi nivīsandigān-i Īrānī dar bāb-i ‘ulūm-i insānī. Tehran: Research Proposal, Institute for Research and Planning in Higher Education.