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

Document Type : Research Paper


Institute for Humanities and Cultural Studies



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 ‘Allāma Ṭabāṭabā’ī, Muṭahharī, ‘Alī Sharī‘atī, 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 and 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 “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