Religious Debates on the Coronavirus Pandemic in Iran
Examination of their Discourses, Rationales, and Implications
Keywords:COVID-19, Islam, science, Islamic medicine, Iran
Iran was one of the first countries that was severely affected by the COVID-19 outbreak in the Middle East in February of 2020. What is unique about Iran is that religious leaders from the early stages have been involved with debates concerning its cause, preventive measures, and moral significance. Relying on textual analyses of media coverage, herein we examine religious debates in Iran that are increasingly gaining public attention amid the pandemic. Our analyses illuminate the styles of reasoning used by religious leaders to situate their understandings of the pandemic that are principally organized through the language of science. Our findings include that religious leaders are receptive to modern science, but not unquestionably. The status, application, and development of modern science is contingently shaped by the discourses and practices of Islam that religious leaders find compelling based on what they regard as a proper understanding of Islam and Islamic medicine.
Abe, Satoshi. 2016. ‘Management of the Environment (mohit-e zist): An Ethnography of Islam and Environmental Politics in Iran’, Japanese Review of Cultural Anthropology 17: 63-81.
Adelkhah, Fariba. 2000. Being Modern in Iran (New York: Columbia University Press).
Ahmed, Irfan. 2017. Religion as Critique: Islamic Critical Thinking from Mecca to the Marketplace (Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press). Doi: https://doi.org/10.5149/northcarolina/9781469635095.001.0001. DOI: https://doi.org/10.5149/northcarolina/9781469635095.001.0001
Arjomand, Kamran. 1997. ‘The Emergence of Scientific Modernity in Iran: Controversies Surrounding Astrology and Modern Astronomy in the Mid-Nineteenth Century’, Iranian Studies 30: 5-24. Doi: https://doi.org/10.1080/00210869708701857. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/00210869708701857
Asad, Talal. 1986. ‘The Idea of an Anthropology of Islam’, Occasional Paper Series 1-22.
Behrouzan, Orkideh. 2016. Prozak Diaries: Psychiatry and Generational Memory in Iran (Stanford: Stanford University Press). Doi: https://doi.org/10.1515/9780804799591. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/9780804799591
Chehabi, Houchang E. 2007. ‘How Caviar Turned Out to Be Halal’, Gastronomica 7: 17-23. Doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/gfc.2007.7.2.17. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1525/gfc.2007.7.2.17
Chelkowski, Peter. 2010. ‘Time Out of Memory: Ta‘ziyeh, the Total Drama’, in Peter Chelkowski (ed.), Eternal Performance: Ta‘ziyeh and Other Shiite Rituals (London: Seagull Books): 1-18.
Deeb, Lara. 2006. An Enchanted Modern: Gender and Public Piety in Shi‘i Lebanon (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press). Doi: https://doi.org/10.1515/9781400840786. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/9781400840786
Doostdar, Alireza. 2018. The Iranian Metaphysicals: Explorations in Science, Islam, and the Uncanny (Princeton: Princeton University Press). Doi: https://doi.org/10.23943/princeton/9780691163772.001.0001. DOI: https://doi.org/10.23943/princeton/9780691163772.001.0001
Elshakry, Marwa. 2007. ‘The Gospel of Science and American Evangelism in Late Ottoman Beirut’, Past & Present 196: 173-214. Doi: https://doi.org/10.1093/pastj/gtm006. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1093/pastj/gtm006
———. 2008. ‘Knowledge in Motion: The Cultural Politics of Modern Science Translations in Arabic’, Isis 99: 701-30. Doi: https://doi.org/10.1086/595767. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1086/595767
Esposito, John L. (ed.). 2003. The Oxford Dictionary of Islam (New York: Oxford University Press).
Fischer, Michael J. 2003. Iran: From Religious Dispute to Revolution (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press).
Gane, Nicholas. 2002. Max Weber and Postmodern Theory: Rationalization versus Re-enchantment (New York: Palgrave). Doi: https://doi.org/10.1057/9780230502512. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1057/9780230502512
Hallaq, Wael B. 2009. An Introduction to Islamic Law (New York: Cambridge University Press). DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511801044
Hamdy, Sherine. 2012. Our Bodies Belong to God: Organ Transplants, Islam, and the Struggle for Human Dignity in Egypt (Berkeley: University of California Press). DOI: https://doi.org/10.1525/9780520951747
Hirschkind, Charles. 2006. The Ethical Soundscape: Cassette Sermons and Islamic Counterpublics (New York: Columbia University Press).
Hoodbhoy, Pervez. 1991. Islam and Science: Religious Orthodoxy and the Battle for Rationality (London: Zed Books).
Khosrokhavar, Farhad. 2004. ‘Report on Science in Post-Revolutionary Iran—Part I: Emergence of a Scientific Community?’, Critical Middle Eastern Studies 13: 209-24. Doi: https://doi.org/10.1080/1066992042000244335. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/1066992042000244335
Lotfalian, Mazyar. 2004. Islam, Technoscientific Identities, and the Culture of Curiosity (Lanham, MD: University Press of America).
Mahmood, Saba. 2005. Politics of Piety: The Islamic Revival and the Feminist Subject (Princeton: Princeton University Press).
Mansouri, Reza. 2013. ‘The History of Science in Iran from a Physicist’s Perspective’, in Abdol S. Soofi et al. (eds.), Science and Innovations in Iran: Development, Progress, and Challenges (New York: Palgrave): 15-38. Doi: https://doi.org/10.1057/9781137030108_2. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1057/9781137030108_2
Mireshghi, Elham. 2019. ‘The Unsettled Morality of Kidney Sales’, Science and the Human Person 2019 Series Articles, University of Notre Dame.
Najmabadi, Afsaneh. 2014. Professing Selves: Transsexuality and Same-Sex Desire in Contemporary Iran (Durham: Duke University Press). Doi: https://doi.org/10.2307/j.ctv11vc8md. DOI: https://doi.org/10.2307/j.ctv11vc8md
Nasr, Seyyed Hossein. 1997. Man and Nature: The Spiritual Crisis of Modern Man (Chicago: ABC International Group).
Palmie, Stephan. 2002. Wizards and Scientists: Explorations in Afro-Cuban Modernity and Tradition (Durham: Duke University Press). Doi: https://doi.org/10.1515/9780822383642. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/9780822383642
Pandolfo, Stefania. 2008. ‘The Knot of the Soul: Postcolonial Conundrums, Madness, and the Imagination’, in Mary-Jo DelVecchio Good et al. (eds.), Postcolonial Disorders (Berkeley: University of California Press): 329-58.
Quijada, Justine. 2019. Buddhists, Shamans, and Soviets: Rituals of History in Post-Soviet Buryatia (New York: Oxford University Press). DOI: https://doi.org/10.1093/oso/9780190916794.001.0001
al-Qur’an. 1984 (trans. Ahmed Ali; Princeton: Princeton University Press).
Ragab, Ahmed. 2012. ‘Prophetic Traditions and Modern Medicine in the Middle East: Resurrection, Reinterpretation, and Reconstruction’, Journal of the American Oriental Society 132: 657-73. Doi: https://doi.org/10.7817/jameroriesoci.132.4.0657. DOI: https://doi.org/10.7817/jameroriesoci.132.4.0657
Ringer, Monica. 2001. Education, Religion, and the Discourses of Cultural Reform in Qajar Iran (Costa Mesa: Mazda Publishers).
Schayegh, Cyrus. 2009. Who is Knowledgeable is Strong: Science, Class, and the Formation of Iranian Society, 1900–1950 (Berkeley: University of California Press). DOI: https://doi.org/10.1525/california/9780520254473.001.0001
Stolz, Daniel. 2018. The Lighthouse and the Observatory: Islam, Science, and Empire in Late Ottoman Egypt (New York: Cambridge University Press). DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781108164672
Tsing, Anna. 2005. Friction: An Ethnography of Global Connection (Princeton: Princeton University Press). Doi: https://doi.org/10.1515/9781400830596. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/9781400830596
Van der Veer, Peter. 2001. Imperial Encounters: Religion and Modernity in India and Britain (Princeton: Princeton University Press). Doi: https://doi.org/10.1515/9781400831081. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/9781400831081
Vinea, Ana. 2018. ‘An Emergent Affliction in Today’s Egypt: Islamic Healing, the Psy Sciences, and What Lies in-between’, Medical Anthropology Theory 5: 50-77. Doi: https://doi.org/10.17157/mat.5.1.518. DOI: https://doi.org/10.17157/mat.5.1.518
Walbridge, John. 2011. God and Logic in Islam: The Caliphate of Reason (New York: Cambridge University Press).
Weber, Max. 1946. ‘Science as a Vocation’, in H.H. Gerth and C.W. Mills (eds.), From Max Weber: Essays in Sociology (New York: Oxford University Press): 129-56.
How to Cite
© Equinox Publishing Ltd.
For information regarding our Open Access policy, click here.