Had Iran remained Sunni...?

Jul 2012
1,942
Bahrain
Isn't it that national forces in Iran and Turkey face a similar problem? In both countries, there are parties in power which emphasize the Islamic heritage over the national culture. The only difference is that in Turkey the Islamocentrists claim the imperial (Ottoman) past for their aims, whereas in Iran the glory of past dynasties is invoked by the nationalists against the Islamists.
Turkey and Iran aren't the same even today (as in your perspective)....Turkey has entrenched secularism PLUS strong muslims roots, both drives are directing the country...that's not the case with Iran...
 
Jul 2012
1,942
Bahrain
In my opinion, even if Iran remained Sunni the Empire and later nation would have still found a way to differentiate itself. I mean take a look at Sufiism, Persians found a way to take their rich, poetic, and romantic culture and transfer it into religion.

Although you're right about the Sunni sect not demanding obedience to religious figures, I feel like the reason Shia Iranians look up to their holy religious figures like Imam Ali is not due to the religion but due to the fact that in Iran's history, The population was always very generally Patriarchal. From the times of Cyrus to Nader Shah to Reza Pahlavi, Iranians love a strong powerful ruler to look up to and admire. The fact that Iranian Shias are so passionate about their religious idols is a very Persian trait.

Egypt is the FURTHEST thing from a secular state. I mean on paper it is, but what many people fail to realize is that the majority of the population is very religious. I mean just look at who won the election.
I agree to the point that Iran's tradition having an effect....but I believe the religious drive/reasons in that regard is much stronger....We don't necessarily have to take the figure of Ali which is held in similar high regard with Sunnis....but the "Actual" Shiite Emam in contemporary time...Shiism implies a strong fellowship for what the Emam says or instructs....that by the way includes Arab Shiites (where Shiism originated), they're non-Iranian but resemble the same patriarchal trait...(I believe its a Middle Eastern trait by the way, not just Iranian)...

Sunnis on the other hand don't hold their Emam at similar status as Shiite, and therefore doesn't imply similar fellowship...

Yeah...it would be a secular state "on paper" for which a party would hold power and dominate...
 
Jul 2012
1,942
Bahrain
I can't understand the violent conflicts between Sh'ia and Sunni Muslims. I suppose it's much like the religious wars between Protestants and the Catholics some 500 years ago. But that was then! Why can't Sunni and Sh'ia simply agree to disagree and get on with life?
Its because in the West, democrasies have served to lessen the conflicts between the two sects, and secular ideas gained more power than religion...

In the Middle East, religious drives are still strong PLUS democrasies are only a fasade PLUS some countries still have ambitions....
 

WeisSaul

Ad Honorem
Mar 2012
2,836
New Amsterdam
IIRC there were many Sufi groups in Iran at the time of religious shift towards Shia Islam. IIRC the Safavids started out as a Sufi group but became shiite as a means of distinguishing themselves from the Ottomans and ending any kind of vassalage.

Odds are the country would have more in common spiritually with the peoples of central Asia where many Sufi orders were also present. Perhaps we'd see southern Iraq being dominated by Iranian Sufi orders as well.

We'd probably see some kind of means for a Persophilic distinguishing of Islam.

Its because in the West, democrasies have served to lessen the conflicts between the two sects, and secular ideas gained more power than religion...

In the Middle East, religious drives are still strong PLUS democrasies are only a fasade PLUS some countries still have ambitions....
I would think that Democracy would lead to more divisiveness not less. If I had to guess I would say that it was nationalism that pacified the Protestant-Catholic divide. People focused on national identities over religious ones.
Meanwhile you still have the Catholic-Protestant friction in Ireland.
 
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M.S. Islam

Ad Honorem
Jul 2012
3,333
Dhaka
There are two aspects if Iran remained Sunni, one religious and the other geopolitical.

On the religious side, Shias would have been an insignificant fringe group, and the Islamic world would have been more united. Safavid Iran was what separated western (middle-eastern) Muslim world, and the eastern half.

Safavid-Shia Iran kept separate two preeminent Muslim empires - the Ottomans & the Mughals. If Iran had been Sunni as part of, or allied with the Ottomans, there could have been greater interaction and alliance between those two empires. Ottoman military machine coupled with Mughal wealth could have given rise to a true global superpower in 17th century.
 

WeisSaul

Ad Honorem
Mar 2012
2,836
New Amsterdam
There are two aspects if Iran remained Sunni, one religious and the other geopolitical.

On the religious side, Shias would have been an insignificant fringe group, and the Islamic world would have been more united. Safavid Iran was what separated western (middle-eastern) Muslim world, and the eastern half.

Safavid-Shia Iran kept separate two preeminent Muslim empires - the Ottomans & the Mughals. If Iran had been Sunni as part of, or allied with the Ottomans, there could have been greater interaction and alliance between those two empires. Ottoman military machine coupled with Mughal wealth could have given rise to a true global superpower in 17th century.
Why would the Ottomans and Persians align? Just because they share the same religious perspective doesn't mean they'll have the same geopolitical interest.
 

M.S. Islam

Ad Honorem
Jul 2012
3,333
Dhaka
Why would the Ottomans and Persians align? Just because they share the same religious perspective doesn't mean they'll have the same geopolitical interest.
Iran was splintered into small kingdoms, after collapse of Timurid empire. With no Safavids, those small kingdoms would have most likely been absorbed by the Ottomans. Alternately, they would have acknowledged Ottoman suzerainty, and remain independent. Since they couldn't rival the Ottomans, those two were the only options for them.
 

antocya

Ad Honorem
May 2012
5,778
Iraq
I think in Iraq besides religious there's also a political divide to it because the Sunni have historically had more control over a majority of Shia. Maybe you could compare it a little with the catholic Protestant divide in Ireland, I mean I wouldn't take that too far but a little on that its not just about religion.
 
Jan 2014
55
NJ
Arab Emams

I agree to the point that Iran's tradition having an effect....but I believe the religious drive/reasons in that regard is much stronger....We don't necessarily have to take the figure of Ali which is held in similar high regard with Sunnis....but the "Actual" Shiite Emam in contemporary time...Shiism implies a strong fellowship for what the Emam says or instructs....that by the way includes Arab Shiites (where Shiism originated), they're non-Iranian but resemble the same patriarchal trait...(I believe its a Middle Eastern trait by the way, not just Iranian)...

Sunnis on the other hand don't hold their Emam at similar status as Shiite, and therefore doesn't imply similar fellowship...

Yeah...it would be a secular state "on paper" for which a party would hold power and dominate...
As far as Arab Shias having similar obedience to their leaders. Can you name a few? Because I honestly cannot think of any. When I think of Shia Imams I mostly think of Iranians (Except for the 12 original Imams of course). Can you name for me some Arab Imams who had as much of an influence on their people as Khomeini and Khamenei had?
 

Tulun

Ad Honorem
Nov 2010
3,880
Western Eurasia
As far as Arab Shias having similar obedience to their leaders. Can you name a few? Because I honestly cannot think of any. When I think of Shia Imams I mostly think of Iranians (Except for the 12 original Imams of course). Can you name for me some Arab Imams who had as much of an influence on their people as Khomeini and Khamenei had?
Ayatollah Sistani currently, the late Khoei before, shia clerics from the Sadr family, in Lebanon also the late Musa al Sadr and Fadlallah? I don't know how is it in Bahrain? as i understood there used to be two schools within twelver shias, the "usuli" and the "akhbari", the dominant usuli school putting emphasis on following/obeying living clerics while the "akhbari" rejected it, but the latter group is minor everywhere (or extinct?) among shia communities (maybe not in Azerbaijan?).

To the OP it is really hard to predict what were the historical consequence of Iran remaining sunni except certainly Turkish-Persian, Arab-Persian relations would be better, but how would the current political system look like is unpredictable. Could end up something like Turkey but could also end up like Afghanistan (it's dari speaking = Tajik parts are in fact the remaining Sunni Persians). The Safavids with enforcing shiism created some kind of homogenity and centralisation of power there as in modern Iran also the strongest unifying factor is the shia sect in that multiethnic country (90% of the population being that). So without it there would maybe no Iran at all and it could end up like the Central-Asian sunni polities (turkic and persian/tajik) like the khanates of bukhara and khiva and kokand who were not able due to their internal weakness to resist Russian expansion.
without a centralized Iran British would colonize/puppetize southern Iranian polities, Russians north. Then who knows what post-colonial countries there would be today, the ex British ones would be conservative religious, the ex Russian ones post-Soviet secular?
 
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