Monday, 20 June 2011

The Nature of Moral Values - Light of Islam

The Nature of Moral Values



A Study of the Views

Allamah Tabataba'i and Martyr Mutahhari


Ali Naqi Baqirshahi

The problem of the eternity of moral values is an
ancient problem traceable to the very beginning of the
history of philosophy. Thinkers from all over the world
have been interested in discussing this problem.

The origin of this subject in Muslim philosophy is
traceable to the period of Ash'arite-Mu'tazilite
controversies regarding ethical predicates.

Later on scholars of usul al-fiqh (Islamic
jurisprudence) also took up this issue at the
philosophical level. Allamah Muhammad Husayn Tabataba'i
(1902-1981), the most original thinker of the
contemporary Muslim world, inspired by the scholars of usul,
particularly the late

Shaykh Muhammad Husayn Isfahani, threw a new light on
this issue in a manner unprecedented throughout the
history of Muslim philosophy. The outcome of his
philosophical contemplation is the sixth chapter of his
book Usul-e falsafeh wa rawish-e riyalsm ('The
Principles of Philosophy and the Method of Realism').
Murtada Mutahhari, a pupil of Allamah Tabataba'i, wrote
detailed explanatory notes on this book, adding his own
views in the form of critical comments on Tabataba'i's
views. He seems to have certain basic differences with.
Tabataba'i regarding certain moral issues. Speculative
Wisdom and Practical Wisdom (Hikmat-e Nazariand Hikmate

Reality is the subject of 'speculative wisdom' while
ethics comprises a part of 'practical wisdom.' According
to Mutahhari, by reality we mean theoretical principles
and by ethics we mean practical principles. Practical
wisdom consists of normative sciences, and the study of
reality is included in speculative wisdom which may cover
theories of positive science too. It is not possible to
bring the principles of practical wisdom under the study
of reality, for speculative wisdom addresses things as
they are while practical wisdom addresses man's actions
as they ought to be.

In the texts of Muslim thinkers, speculative reason
and practical reason are regarded as two different types
of man's potentialities, but they did not discuss in
detail their features and differences. However, they did
suggest that the former potentiality is inherent in the
self, which by means of this potentiality attempts to
discover the external world, whereas the latter consists
of a series of perceptions controlled by the self, which
is the administrator of the body. Practical reason is the
physical aspect or power of the self, while speculative
reason constitutes the methaphysical aspect or power of
the self. Therefore, some thinkers are of the view that
two forms of attainments are open to man, speculative
attainment and practical attainment. Regarding the
concept of potential and practical reason they hold that
the self has a series of laws which enable it to
administrate better. This is considered to be an
elementary step towards attainment of perfection.[1]

Early Muslim philosophers defined justice in terms of
freedom. Since the self fails to attain speculative
perfection without the proper use of the body, the self
ought to establish a balance between those two
potentialities in order to utilize the body justly. The
potentiality which establishes such a balance between
self and body is an efficient or active force. In case
the balance takes place, self is not dominated by body;
contrarily body will be subordinated to self. They
considered justice to be a kind of co-ordination between
body and self in which body is controlled by self and
self is kept in check by body.[2]

Ibn Sina (980-1030), in his book Kitab al-shifa'
(The Book of Healing [of the soul]) divided philosophy
into two branches: speculative and practical. He dealt
with these issues in detail, yet there exists some
ambiguity in his approach to practical reason. Some
Muslim philosophers consider practical reason as the
self's faculty of perception.

They say that our reason is capable of two kinds of
perception. One is the faculty of perception used in
speculative sciences and the other is the faculty used in
practical sciences. But others, like Mulla Hadi Sabzawari
(1833-1910), hold that the term 'reason' is used for both
theoretical and practical aspects of the perceptive or
cognitive faculty. But it can be maintained that it is an
efficient faculty capable only of action.[3]

'Allamah Tabataba'i's Ethical Views and Mutahhari's
Critique: Allamah Tabataba'i maintained that whatever we
ascribe to practical wisdom is connected with the world
of norms or non-factual ideas, which comprise commands
and prohibitions and all those notions which are dealt
with in 'ilm al-'usul. By speculative wisdom is
meant thoughts which consist of the ideas of facts, which
are real representations of the actual things and the
objective world. He thus makes a distinction between two
types of philosophy, one which deals with "what
is" and the other that deals with "what ought
to be". Regarding the concept of 'ought' he says:
Nature has in itself some ends towards which it moves. In
the domains of inert things, plants, animals, and man,
all activities so far as they fall in the domain of
instinct, it is nature that moves towards its goal. At
the human level also, so far as they are instinctive
activities, it is nature that moves towards its goal.
There is a set of acts at the human level which takes
place by the means of volition and contemplation. In such
acts, man has his own objectives which should be attained
by volition. These ends are also the ends of nature, but
nature cannot achieve them directly; it has to make use
of man's will and thought. It is here that a need for
"ought" or values arises and they come into
existence automatically. For instance, man's nature, like
that of plants, needs food, but he should acquire it by
means of volition and contemplation. Unlike plants, which
acquire food directly through roots, and animals, which
are attracted towards food innately, man performs the
same act by volition and not by instinct only. Here
Tabataba'i says that, that the system of instinct is not
exactly defined so far. Man is unaware his ideas itself
is constructed on the system of nature, and nature uses
man as its instrument in order to achieve its goals. Man
innately possesses some systems: the system of nature as
well as the system of choice and will. The latter is
subject to the former. The natural end is reflected in
the form of a need or desire in man's soul (e.g.
inclination towards food). Tabataba'i concludes that at
the back of every voluntary act there is a hidden command
of nature as to 'what one ought to do' or 'what one ought
not to do'. It is this very 'ought to' which motivates a
person to move towards his natural objective. Mutahhari
comments that Tabataba'i has probably reduced all willed
acts to ideas or values.

Mutahhari also compares this view of Tabataba'i with
the moral theory know that Allamah Tabataba'i, of
Bertrand Russell, and is surprised to without having read
Russell, developed a theory similar to that of his, 40
years ago, probably at the same time when Russell was
developing his moral philosophy.[4]

Russell in his History of Western Philosophy
elaborates his view in the context of his analysis of
Plato's view regarding ethics. He says that according to
Plato, practical wisdom and speculative wisdom are
identical. He holds that morality means that man should
desire the good and the good is independent of the self;
therefore, good is cognizable, such as the objects of the
study of mathematics or medicine, which are independent
of human mind.[5]

Russell further says:

Plato is convinced that there is "the good"
and its nature can be ascertained; when people disagree
about it, one is making an intellectual error, just as
much as if the disagreement were a scientific one on some
matter of fact.[6]

Russell himself holds that "good" or
"bad" are relative terms whose meaning is
determined by man's relation to things or objects. When
we have a goal to achieve, we say "it is good".
Hence it is wrong to hold that "good" is an
objective quality inherent in the nature of a thing like
whiteness or roundness. Plato held a view opposed to
this, for he regarded "good" as an objective
fact. Mutahhari concludes from this discussion that
"goodness" and "badness" are not
concrete and objective qualities of objects that can be
discovered like other natural matters. If one treats
moral issues like the objects of scientific study, he
remarks, this error then gives rise to another issue:
Whether such norms are mutable or are there two types of
norms, one changeable and the other permanent? In this
issue, Mutahhari's view is opposed to that of Western
Philosophers. incidentally 'Allamah Tabataba'i is of the
view that values are of two kinds: mutable and immutable.
He has given the example of justice and cruelty and said,
the beauty of justice and the ugliness of cruelty are
self-evident. There are, hence, some values which are
immutable, while there are other values which change with

There is no doubt that some 'oughts' are particular
and individual. For example, if one needs a certain kind
of education, he might say, "I ought to study this
subject", while another who does not need that
education says, "I ought to study some other
subject." Accordingly, individual and particular
'oughts' are relative.[8]

The question in ethics is: Is there any universal and
absolute 'ought' which is generally shared by all human
beings? Mutahhari says that in case there is such an
'ought', as every ought is directed towards some goal, we
have to ascertain if there is such a common goal that may
be the basis of the universality of value. If we could
prove such universality and eternity of values, we shall
have to accept that they originate in an abstract self,
and that man is not confined to physical nature only[9] Allamah Tabataba'i holds that animate
beings and inanimate things are different in terms of
their movement towards their objectives; i.e. inanimate
things move towards their ends in one direction alone
which is predetermined. Nature, in the course of its
normal process, is equipped with the means through which
it moves towards its goal. Animate beings also, in
respect of their physical being (not as mental and
rational beings), in their own world move like plants
directly towards their end.

But as the laws and means of nature do not suffice to
direct animate beings towards their desired goals, they
employ their mental and perceptual faculties also to
achieve their goals. In fact, there emerges a kind of
harmony between physical nature (which is unconscious)
and mental processes which enable a being possessing
consciousness to attain the end desired by nature.
Consciousness directs a being to move towards certain
other ends also, which are supposed to be different from
the ends of nature. Man thinks that perhaps the harmony
between the movements towards natural and willed ends is

But Tabataba'i believes in a kind of
"pre-established harmony" between physical and
mental processes. The natural, mental makeup of man and
animals is such that, as they perceive and conceive an
object, there arises a desire for it, and they seek
pleasure in attaining it. In case they fail to do so they
feel some pain. For instance, by nature man seeks
pleasure and avoids pain.

The past experience of pleasure in eating some food
stirs his appetite for it, and he moves in the direction
of satisfying it. This act is governed by particular
mental processes, but at the same time it also serves to
attain the end of nature too, for a body requires food by
its own nature.

Eating serves both the ends; the person takes pleasure
in it and at the same time nature satisfies its need
also. Hence the question arises: Are these two acts
unconnected with each other that accidently occur
together? Is it the natural urge to seek pleasure which
requires certain natural means to serve it or is it the
natural urge which makes a man feel pleasure in
satisfying an appetite? In other words, it may be asked
does pleasure-seeking serve the end of nature or does
nature serve the purpose of attaining pleasure? It is
difficult to decide which one of the two is fundamental
and which one is secondary. However, Mutahhari holds that
there is some kind of harmony between the natural and
conscious ends, and this harmony is pre-planned and not

Further, in dealing with this issue, he refers to Ibn
Sina's view according to which the purposive movement is
confined to conscious beings only. Tabataba'i says that
nature itself pursues certain ends, so all the beings
move according to those ends. Hence all movements in
nature are purposive, that is, governed by some ends.
Man's purposive activity is also a part of the general
purposive scheme of nature. But Mutahhari does not agree
with this generalization made by Tabataba'i.[10]

Tabataba'i says further that one of the values is that
of 'employment' (istikhdam), which is concerned
with man's relation to his limbs and faculties and this
relation is objective, real and creative. The power of my
hands is under my control, which is a natural matter;
that is, this power is naturally and congenitally at my
disposal. All bodily organs of man are owned by man and
form an integral part of his being and are at the service
of man. He says that all external objects may be
considered to be tools for survival used by man. Not only
inanimate beings plants, etc. are means for man, but even
other men are supposed to be at an individual's service.
In other words, all beings, including men, who fall in
the field of one's activity, are tools for a human being.
Man thus extends his limited existence to the spheres of
other beings. Mutahhari says that according to Tabataba'i
this human tendency or approach to other beings is
instinctively natural, which is not confined to non-human
beings but includes a man's attitude towards other men

Mutahhari does not agree with Tabataba'i and remarks
that the Allamah, in this respect, seems to agree with
the evolutionists and accept the Darwinian principle of
the struggle for existence. In his view, Tabataba'i has
used a more respectable term for the Darwinian idea. In
the struggle for existence every man uses others as his
tools and makes them his employees.

Perhaps both Tabataba'i and Mutahhari were
unacquainted with Heidegger's similar notion. According
to Heidegger's existential philosophy, all other beings
falling in the field of human existence are tools or
means of extending and developing one's existence. The
quality of other beings as distinguished from human
beings is their 'Handiness' that is how far they are
useful for a human being. Had Mutahhari been familiar
with this principle in Heidegger's philosophy, he would
have claimed for him an affinity with the
existentialists. It is to be noted that Tabataba'i
developed his principle of 'istikhdam' in the
course of about. twenty years unaware of a similar theory
being formulated by a European existentialist. Not only
in his major philosophical work Usul-e falsafah wa
rawish-e riyalism, but also in his scholarly exegesis (tafsir)
of the Qur'an, al-Mizan, he has referred to the principle
of employment on many occasions in the course of dealing
with various aspects of human existence. Mutahhari seems
to be more conservative on this issue, for his dubbing
the Allamah as a Darwinist shows his displeasure with the
basic idea of employment of other human beings by every
individual human being. Similarly, Mutahhari's not
accepting Tabataba'i's doctrine of relativism of certain
moral values reveals his adherence to the Platonic
tradition as well as the traditional Islamic philosophy.

Mutahhari infers the Darwinian principle of the
struggle for existence from Tabataba'i's philosophy in
the context of his view that a man has to make
adjustments with other human beings in the form of
friendship and co-operation or other means, so that he is
able to survive in the struggle in which every human
being tries to use other men as his tools. Mutahhari
remarks that though Tabataba'i has not said explicitly
such a thing, his principle of employment leads to such a

Tabataba'i regards his principle of employment as the
criterion of good and evil, right and wrong. Here two
questions arise. One is whether man has a natural
inclination towards evil, or in other words, is evil
inherent in his nature? Mutahhari answers that from
Tabataba'i's viewpoint every individual has a natural
tendency to attain his own desired ends, which makes him
treat others as if they were his employees to serve his
ends. This tendency not to treat other men as equals to
one's own ends is in Tabataba'i's view nothing but

The other question is related to the possible identity
of employment and the principle of the struggle for
existence. Mutahhari does not say that both are
identical, but holds that as both of them lead to the
same end, that is, an individual's growth (here, in the
moral sense), they may be described as having a close
affinity with each other.[13]

However, Mutahhari does not totally reject
Tabataba'i's views regarding man and. morality. What he
disagrees with Tabataba'i's is generalization of the
principle of employment. Mutahhari; while stating his own
position, says that a distinction is to be made between
inclination (natural tendency) and will. Animals act
instinctively by natural inclination, while human beings
act voluntarily. Mutahhari makes a further distinction
between two types of human acts by adding the element of
will to man's instinctive acts; man can refrain from
eating food or certain kinds of food willingly though he
has an inclination to eat. Instinctive acts are passively
done under the compulsion of nature; while performing
these acts, man's reason is suspended. Therefore they are
determined acts. On the contrary, voluntary acts are done
under the guidance of reason. He, therefore, maintains
that will is freedom. Man is free because he can act
according to his will, and his acts are not deterministic
like those of animals.

Mutahhari makes another significant point regarding
willed acts. He says that in his natural or impulsive
behaviour man is under the control of the external world,
while in willing he withdraws himself from the external
world and internalizes his being to make a choice and a
resolution. In willing, man re-collects his being
together, while in acting impulsively his being is
scattered. Regarding the question as to whether will is
totally absent while acting impulsively, or it is only
weak, Mutahhari says that will is there, but it is weak.
With the increase in impulse, will weakens
proportionately. He criticizes Mulla Sadra, Hadi
Sabzawari and Ibn Sina for considering desire and will as
one and the same thing.

Though Ibn Sina occasionally made some distinction
between the two, his criterion of demarcation is

Now the question which arises is: How can ethical
issues be demonstrated? How can we argue as to "What
is good" and "What is bad'"? 'Allamah
Tabataba'i is of the view that these are undemonstrable,
for non-factual matters cannot be proved either by
deduction or induction. We can only explain them on a
linguistic basis, and that also would be relativistic
with views differing from man to man. Moral values are
not a factual or objective matter. We can prove
rationally or empirically ideas or theories only
concerning objective reality. On this basis he regards
moral values as subjective and relativistic.

Practical philosophy is concerned with good and bad
and these concepts are inferred from 'oughts' and 'ought
nots'. These terms depend upon loving or desiring
something or otherwise. In the matter of loving or
liking, individuals differ from one another. Therefore,
moral values, which depend upon loving or hating some
objects, depend upon the individual's subjective
experience. Hence they are both subjective and relative.
Here it can be pointed out that 'Allamah Tabataba'i is
close on the one hand to G.E. Moore, who regards values
as indefinable, and is similar to Russell, on the other.

Bertrand Russell is of those thinkers who arrived at
the same conclusion in his book History of Western
Philosophy. He analyzes Plato's view regarding justice in
the following words:

There are several points to be noted about Plato's
definition. First, it makes it possible to have
inequalities of power and privilege without justice. The
guardians are to have all the powers, because they are
the wisest members of the community', injustice would
only occur, on Plato's definition, if there were men in
the other classes who were wiser than some of the
guardians. That is why Plato provides for promotion and
degradation of citizen, although he thinks that the
double advantage of birth and education will, in most
cases, make the children of guardians superior to the
children of others. If there were a more exact science of
government, and more certainty of men following its
percepts, there would be much to be said for Plato's
system. No one thinks it unjust to put the best men into
a football team, although they acquire thereby a great

At another place Russell says:

The difference between Plato and Trasymachus is very
important, but for the historian of philosophy it is one
to be noted, not decided. Plato thinks he can prove that
his idea of republic is good; a democrat who accepts the
objectivity of ethics may think that he can prove the
Republic bad; but anyone who agrees with Trasymachus will
say; 'There is no question of proving or disproving; the
only question is whether you like the kind of State that
Plato desires. If you do, it is good for you; if you do
not, it is bad for you. If many do and many do not, the
decision cannot be made by reason, but only by force,
actual or concealed.' This is one of the issues in
philosophy that are still open; on each side there are
men who command respect. But for a very long time the
opinion that Plato advocated remained almost

There are two points on which Mutahhari disagrees with
Allamah Tabataba'i.[17]

(1) Mutahhari holds that we cannot attribute
value-oriented activity to allanimate beings, as Allamah
Tabataba'i does. Consciousness of value is confined to
man, who possesses practical reason.

(2) Mutahhari rejects the principle of employment as put
forward by the Allamah. His rejection of it is based on
three arguments, which he elaborated in "Akhlaq
wa jawidanagi
." On the basis of these arguments
he proved his idea of the universality and eternity of
good and evil.

The First Argument:

Man has certain motives which serve to fulfil his
individual needs and demands. Human activity is also
stimulated by another kind of motivation which is called
by Mutahhari species oriented motives. These are
different from individual oriented motives which serve
the interests of the individual only. They may be
connected with one's mate and offspring. The species
oriented motives are general and embrace the whole of
humanity. These are not confined to a particular
environment, situation or time period. Because of these
motives, one can place the welfare and happiness of his
fellow beings ahead of his own welfare. These motives may
be described as humanitarian motives, due to which one is
pained if he sees another man in pain. This kind of
motive may be also defined as gregarious or social
motivation. He commiserates with others, he rejoices at
their joy and grieves at their grief. Mutahhari says that
if we accept the role of these species oriented motives,
Allamah Tabataba'i's view is refuted,

for he believes that man's natural mental make-up acts
in accordance with his natural and biological urges.
Tabataba'i considers his theory of employment to be
applicable to all human beings as a general principle.
According to Mutahhari's view this principle conflicts
with our accepted criteria of morality. It is generally
held that egocentric or selfish motives and acts are
morally inferior, or rather evil, as compared to
altruistic motives and acts. Morality liberates man from
the confines of his selfish interests and is, therefore,
universally applicable to all cases, times and
situations. Thus he affirms the principle of the
universality and eternity of moral values. To the
question "Why righteousness is good"? the reply
is: Because it fulfils the interests of all.[18]

Second Argument:

While Mutahhari based his first argument on the
duality of motives, he based his second argument in
favour of the universality and eternity of morality on
the duality of human self. This view is similar to that
of some contemporary thinkers who hold that it is
impossible to seek a thing unless that thing is linked
with one's own self. Whatever seems to be pleasant for
the individual is ultimately accepted as good for the
whole human species. Durkheim and some other sociologists
argue on this basis that man has two selves: one is the
individual self, while the other is the collective self.
Man, from the biological point of view, is an individual,
but from the social point of view he is a social being
and has a social self also. Therefore, each man possesses
two selves. Mutahhari, with reference to Tabataba'i's
writings, says that the latter also confirms this theory
without being aware of sociological theories, and accepts
that society has a real self, which is not relative. The
sociologists also attribute a personality and self to
society, which is real, objective, and independent of
individual selves: It is not the sum total of the selves
of its individual members, but something different from
it. Every man is possessed of a social self along with
his individual self.

Mutahhari here refers to the mystical doctrine of a
universal self.

According to the Sufis and other mystics, there is an
underlying connection between human selves, of which man
becomes aware when his self is purified. Sharing a
universal self and realizing that through it all men are
related to one another leads man to attain spiritual
unity with the universal self.

Sociologists are of the view that society is
constituted of individuals who have a common social or
cultural self which is real. They say that sometimes
man's acts are motivated by individual motives, while on
other occasions his acts are prompted by social motives.
The individual and social motives belong to the
individual and the social self respectively. The former
is natural and biological, while the latter is
collective. It is here that from the duality of motives
sociologists infer the notion of the duality of the self.
Arguing from a sociological viewpoint Mutahhari concludes
that any act which stems from the social self is regarded
as morally good and is determined by a universal and
eternal value-system. Contrarily, any act that stems from
the individual self is devoid of moral good. Hence
morality cannot be relative, individual and changing. It
is governed by values which are universally and eternally

Third Argument:

Mutahhari begins his third argument with the assertion
that man does not do anything which is not related to the
universe of his self. On this basis he refutes
Tabataba'i's principle of employment, according to which
human acts are imposed upon him by some other self. In
elaboration of this argument he takes recourse to the
traditional division of human existence into two selves,
of which one is superior (spiritual) and the other is
inferior (carnal). Man is also an animal, and his
inferior self is ruled by animal desires and motives.
Morality consists in subordinating the animal self to the
higher self. Whatsoever is done for the lower self is not
moral. Moral acts have their origin in the higher self.

Animal selves are subject to nature, while the higher
self, which is universally shared by all men, is subject
to a system of higher values.

According to Mutahhari the higher self is universal
and the values to which it is subject are also universal
and eternal. He wonders why Tabataba'i forgot to refer to
this concept, though he was acquainted with it. He says
that had he referred to it, he would have accepted that
moral acts are those which are done for the satisfaction
of the higher self. In that case he would have rejected
the relativistic doctrine of morality as well as the
principle of employment.

Furthering his argument, Mutahhari says that he agrees
with Tabataba'i, Russell and others that good and evil,
'oughts' and 'ought nots' are based upon man's love for
certain ends and his dislike for other things. He asks,
"But which self's love or hate is the criterion of
good and evil?" and answers that if one says that it
is the lower or animal self whose liking or disliking an
object is the standard of morality, he is wrong, for he
negates the very spirit of morality. The interests of the
lower selves may differ from individual to individual, so
on their basis there cannot be any universal and eternal
moral value. But, on the other hand, if we believe that
it is the higher self which is the basis of morality, we
will have to concede that its values are universally and
eternally valid.

Mutahhari says at the end of his article "Akhlaq
wa jawidanagi

I would like to refer to an Islamic doctrine which is
very significant for resolving the issue of morality, and
is neglected by philosophers. That is, man has an innate
nobility and excellency which may be defined as a
spiritual faculty or a Divine spark. Every man
unconsciously experiences it. While doing certain acts he
contemplates whether they are compatible with his innate
nobility or not. Whenever he finds an act compatible with
it, he regards it as good and virtuous; if it is
incompatible with it, it is regarded as a vice or evil.
As animals know what is beneficial or harmful to them
instinctively, the human self that has metaphysical
virtues recognizes what is good and what is evil, what he
ought to do and what he ought not.... Human beings are
created alike so far as spiritual faculties and virtues
are also alike, their views are also alike. Biologically
and philosophically men may be different from each other,
and under different conditions their physical needs may
also differ. But so far as the ability to attain
spiritual sublimation is concerned they are alike and
necessarily have similar likes and dislikes as well as
similar standards of good and evil. All moral virtues,
whether individual or social, such as patience, can be
explained from this view.[20]

Mutahhari concludes that the above quoted principle
can explain in a much better way the criteria of good and
evil and social and individual virtues, as compared to
all other moral theories discussed above.

This principle also provides the most secure ground
for believing in the eternity and universality of moral


A Glimpse at the Political Philosophy of Islam - Light of Islam

A Glimpse at the Political
Philosophy of Islam




Muhammad Taqi Misbah

If we want to make a balanced comparison between
Islamic and other views in the field of polity and form
of government we should make a review of the important
issues in the philosophy of politics, and on every issue
find out what is the view of Islam, comparing it with the
other views. We must make a detailed investigation of the
basic differences between them. Very briefly, we will now
mention some issues and explain the views of Islam
pertaining to them in order that it may be possible to
make a comparison.

The first issue is the importance of social life.
Islam, like the other schools of thought, emphasizes
social life. But more than this it considers it a duty to
attend to social problems and to struggle for the benefit
of all human beings. Being indifferent to such problems
is considered in Islam to be a grave sin. This attention
is so important that it sometimes becomes necessary to
spend all of one's property and even to endanger one's
own life to save others from worldly and other-worldly
afflictions and harms, from going astray and from
spiritual corruption, and from misfortune in the next
life. It is unlikely that any school of thought other
than Islam has advanced this idea so far. Of course, we
believe that none of the heavenly religions have any
disagreement on basic principles and rules. Naturally,
they hold this view in common with Islam.

The second issue is the necessity of law for social
life, since no society can survive without rules and
social regulations, for otherwise it would soon succumb
to chaos, deterioration and destruction. The view of
Islam on this matter is also clear and does not Stand in
need of an explanation. We should however, mention two
points. The first point is that from the perspective of
Islam, the goal of law is not only to bring about social
order and discipline, but beyond this to maintain social
justice; because, firstly, without justice the order
would not be durable and the masses of the people would
not tolerate injustice and oppression for ever; and
secondly, in a society not governed by justice most
people would not have the opportunity for desired growth
and development and hence, the goal of man's creation and
social life would not be realized.

Another point is that, from the Islamic viewpoint,
social laws should be such as to prepare the ground and
context for the spiritual growth and eternal felicity of
the people. At the very least they should not be
inconsistent with spiritual development, for, in the view
of Islam, the life of this world is but a passing phase
of the entire human life which despite its short
duration, has a fundamental role in human destiny. That
is, it is in this phase that with his conscious behaviour
the human being should prepare for himself his
everlasting felicity or wretchedness. Even if a law could
maintain the social order in this world but would cause
eternal misfortune for humans, from this Islamic view it
would not be a desirable law, even if it were to be
accepted by the majority.

The third issue is how and by whom the law should be
legislated. The accepted theory in most current societies
is that the laws should be legislated and approved by the
people themselves or their representatives. Since the
consensus of all the people or of their representatives
is practically impossible, the view of the majority (even
if merely half plus one) is the criteria for the validity
of the law.

This theory, first of all, is based on the idea that
the goal of law is to satisfy the people's needs, not to
provide that which would truly benefit them. Secondly,
since it is impossible to have unanimous agreement, we
should suffice with the opinion of the majority. However,
the first idea mentioned is not accepted by Islam, for
many people wish to satisfy their bestial instincts and
temporary lusts without thinking of their disastrous

Usually the number of such people is at least one half
plus one, so the social laws would be dictated by the
desires of such people.

It is obvious that the schools which believe in a goal
beyond animal lust and base desire will not be able to
condone this idea.

With regard to the second idea, that is, the validity
of the vote of the majority in the absence of unanimity,
it should be said that only in absence of a deciding
divine and intellectual criterion can the majority be the
criterion for preferring an opinion. However, in the
Islamic system there do exist such divine and
intellectual criteria. In addition, usually a powerful
minority, by using the facilities for widespread
propaganda, has an important role in channelling the
thoughts and beliefs of others, and in fact what is
approved is only the desire of a limited but powerful
minority, not the true desire of the majority or of all
the people. Furthermore, if the criterion is that the
people's choice would be valid for themselves, why
shouldn't we also accept the choice of a minority as
valid for itself, even if it would result in a type of
autonomy? In this case, what would be the logical
justification for governments to oppose the wishes of
some social groups which they rule by force?!

From the perspective of Islam with regard to this
problem, laws should be legislated in such a way that
they procure the benefits of the members of the society,
particularly of those who desire to improve themselves
and to gain eternal felicity. It is obvious that such law
should be legislated by one who has enough knowledge
about the real and eternal benefits of humans, and,
secondly, who does not sacrifice the benefits of others
for his personal interests and vain desires. It is
obvious that there is no one wiser than Almighty God, Who
has no need of His servants or their works, and Who has
provided divine legislation only for the sake of
benefitting them. Certainly, the social laws described in
the heavenly revealed books do not explicitly state all
the social rules which are necessary for every time and
place, but religious law does provide a general framework
for the derivation of regulations necessary for changing
conditions of time and place, and, at least by observing
the limits delineated by this framework it may be
possible to avoid falling into the deadly valley of
eternal perdition.

The fourth issue is that of who should enforce social

Islam, like most other political schools, requires the
existence of a State as a power which is able to prevent
violations of the law, and the lack of the State is
equivalent to the suspension of law, chaos, and the
violation of the rights of the weak.

It is obvious that there are two fundamental
qualifications for administrators of the law,
particularly for the one at the top of the pyramid of
power: first, sufficient knowledge of the law in order to
prevent infringement of it due to ignorance; and second,
self-control over his desires in order to prevent the
intentional misapplication of the law. Other
qualifications, like administrative acumen, courage, and
so on, can be considered as supplementary requirements.
Naturally, the ideal is that the administrator of the law
should generally be without ignorance, selfishness, and
other vices, and such a person is one who, in religious
terminology, is called ma'sum (infallible). All
Muslims believe in the infallibility of the Prophet, may
the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him and upon his
progeny, and the Shi'ites also believe in the
infallibility of the Imams, peace be upon them. In the
absence of an infallible one, these criteria should be
observed, to the extent possible, for the selection of
the leader as well as for lower positions in the official
hierarchy in a proportionate manner.

Basically, the basis of the thesis of Wiláyat-e
(lit., guardianship of the jurisprudent meeting
all the requisite requirements) is the proposition that a
person who is nearer to the station of infallibility
should occupy the position of the infallible one, i.e. on
top of the pyramid of power, in order that this position
may be occupied by one with the best knowledge of the
precepts and laws and their fundamental bases, one who
has the most piety and self-control. By means of these
two basic qualifications (jurisprudence and piety) it is
at least possible that he will be less likely
intentionally or unintentionally to transgress against
the law of Islam.

Another point which may be raised here is that from an
Islamic perspective no human has any intrinsic right to
rule over another, even if he issues valid and just
decrees, for all people, like other creatures, have been
created and are the property of Almighty God, and no one
may interfere with another's property without his
permission. A human being has no right even to use his
own bodily parts in a manner contrary to God's will and
consequently he cannot allow others to do so. Hence, the
only one Who Himself has an absolute right to govern and
to depose of anyone and anything is Almighty God. Every
authority and wiláyah should be from Him or at
least with His sanction. It is obvious that Almighty God
would never permit anyone to execute the law without
having the necessary knowledge of His laws, or without
there being a guarantee of the correctness of his deeds
and obedience to the divine laws, or without piety and
the necessary moral qualifications.

On the other hand, we know that except for the
prophets and their selected successors, no one else was
specifically designated by Almighty God to execute the
law and to govern. So, people must try to find persons
who resemble the prophets and the Ma'súmún
(infallible ones) as closely as possible. It seems that
the best way is first to select committed experts of
religion (pious jurists), and then to allow them to
select from among themselves the best one, for the
experts may more correctly identify the best.

Such selection is safer from defects of an intentional
or unintentional character.

It also has become clear that the political features
of Islam derive from the basic elements of the world view
of Islam and its view of man. That is, the emphasis on
the just character of law and its harmony with human
spiritual development derives from the view that God
Almighty created all mankind in order that people may
follow the way of development toward nearness to . God
and eternal felicity by their meritorious conduct in
life. The right of all humans to happiness and the
enjoyment of the blessings of this world exists in order
that all may advance on the way of their development in a
better and speedier manner. The legislation of the divine
laws and religious principles, whether they apply to the
individual or society, is for determining the basic
outlines of this path. The conditions of expertise in law
and piety, in addition to other necessary administrative
qualifications, is for securing the necessary conditions
for the general development of the people, for reaching
eternal felicity and for preventing intentional and
unintentional deviation from the correct way of social

We are hopeful that God Almighty will grant all of us
Ibis opportunity to thank Him for all His blessings, and
for the blessing of His law and guidance toward the life
of felicity which we seek.


The Evils of Westernization - Light of Islam

The Evils of Westernization



A Review Article


Dr. Wahid Akhtar

Jalal Ali Ahmad

Occidentosis: A Plague From the West

trans. R. Campbell; ed.

Hamid Algar;

Mizan Press, Berkeley, Contemporary Islamic Thought
Persian Series (1984), §5. 95.

Occidentosis (Gharbzadegi) is Jalal Ali Ahmad's tryst
with the infinite world of ideas, for which the scene is
set in twentieth-century Iran and the background is
provided by the vast panorama of the East faced with the
onslaughts of the Western civilization. The first draft
of the book in Persian was presented at two of the many
sessions of the Congress on the Aim of Iranian Education,
on 29 November 1961 and 17 January 1962 in the form of a
report, but it did not find a place in the proceedings of
the Congress due to its critical nature. The first
one-third part of Gharbzadegi was published in the
periodical Kitab-e Mah causing the suspension of the
journal. The author published it as a separate work
privately in 1341/1962. Since its publication the book
has been discussed, criticized and analysed heatedly both
in Iran and abroad. It is acknowledged by both admirers
and critics as a work of unique significance because of
its content as well as its approach. R. Campbell has done
a commendable service to contemporary Islamic thought by
rendering the book into English.

Hamid Algar, a specialist in the field of recent
Iranian thought and politics, has greatly enhanced the
value of the translation by adding well-researched
scholarly notes to it. The notes by Algar are both
informative and corrective, for Jalal Ali Ahmad, being
not a historian and a meticulous researcher, had
committed certain errors that needed to be pointed out
for the sake of providing readers with more accurate and
definite information about the events referred to in the

Algar has done the editorial job with superb

Jalal Ali Ahmad is one of the most eminent figures of
contemporary Persian literature, basically a fiction
writer, but nevertheless an equally important ideologue
of modern Iran. In many respects he is a precursor of Dr.
Ali Shari'ati, who, despite exercising far greater
influence than Jalal on the youth, could not surpass
Jalal Ali Ahmad in literary excellence.

Jalal Ali Ahmad (b. 1923) belonged to a family of
strong religious traditions. The famous revolutionary
Ayatullah Mahmúd Taliqani (d. 1979) was his paternal
uncle and Jalal Ali Ahmad had been always impressed by
him, but particularly during his later religious phase
came closer to him. Jalal's family was reasonably
well-off. When the clerical class was deprived of its
notarial function and the income they derived from it,
his family was put to hardship and Jalal had to give up
his education after primary school. Instead he was sent
to work to supplement the family's income. Jalal secretly
enrolled in night classes and obtained his high school
diploma in 1943. One year later he joined the Túdeh
party, and made a complete break with religion. There he
founded a literary association of Marxist writers, and
within three years was appointed director of the party's
publishing house with the responsibility of launching a
new monthly Mahanah-yi mardum. He wrote prolifically for
the party journals. In this period he was under the
influence of the nationalist, anti-Shi'i writer Ahmad
Kisrawi. In 1946, he graduated from the Teachers'
Training College in Tehran, and started his career as a
teacher and as a writer of fiction almost

His first collection of stories Did wa Bazdid (Visits
exchanged) was published in 1945, and his anti-religion
stance in those stories marked his complete break with
Islam and his father. His second collection of short
stories Az ranji ki mibarim, an exercise in socialist
realism, was published in 1947 The very same year he came
out of the Túdeh party along with a group of activists
led by Khalil Maliki as an aftermath of the party's
support to the Soviet Union's refusal to save the
communist-dominated autonomous government of Azarbayjan.
Now he devoted most of his time, except brief occasional
sojourns in politics, to literary work. Seh Tar, his
third collection of stories is product of this period. He
returned to political activity with Dr. Musaddiq's
campaign joined an alliance for the nationalization of
the Iranian oil industry and' with Hizb-e Zahmat Kashan.
In 1952, as a result of Maliki's rift with the Hizb-e
Zahmat Kashan, a new party Nirú-ye Sewwum was formed and
Jalal served it for a short time. In 1953, when the
fugitive Shah was brought back by the U.S.A., Jalal left
this party also.

Moreover, political activity was made virtually
impossible due to severe repressive measures. Jalal
turning again to literary pursuits translated Gide's Re
tour de l'URSS and brought out Zan-e ziyadi (The
superfluous woman). He dabbled in modernist poetry and
painting also for some time. But more, significant for
his intellectual development was his interest in
anthropology. Within a period of four years he published
three research monographs dealing with Iranian villages
and their age-old customs, viz. Aurazan, Tatneshinha-ye
Bulúk-i Zahra, and Jazirah-ye Khark. During this
research the contradictory nature of the Western and the
Islamic Eastern traditions dawned upon him, a realization
that paved the way for his return to Islam. The worth of
his anthropological work was immediately recognized by
both the Iranian academic circles and Western
universities. He undertook extensive foreign travels: to
Europe in early 1963, to the Soviet Union in 1964, and to
the United States in 1965. Of all these, the journey
exercising the farthest reaching impact on his psyche was
his hajj pilgrimage in 1964, which proved to be a great
leap towards Islam. During this period of great
creativity he realized the basic conflict between the
traditional Iranian social structure and the new changes
being imposed on the Iranian society in the name of

The interiorization of this awareness resulted in a
unique kind of self-realization-broadening of the field
of self-activity to the levels of national as well as
religious collective-self-realization. The
Iranian-Islamic archetypal patterns of conscious and
unconscious psychical processes were revealed to him to
be in opposition to those patterns of thought and
practice which were being imported with technology from
the West and transplanted on the Eastern soil. Jalal's
realization of the contradictory characters of the
Western and Eastern cultures caused him to write
Gharbzadegi, an analysis of the corrupting influence of
the West on the East in the historical perspective with
particular reference to the Iranian society and body
politic. In the last years of his life he produced two
major works: the novel, Nafrin-e zamin (The curse of the
land), published in 1967, a damaging criticism of the
so-called Land Reform; and a work of ideological
importance, Dar khidmat wa khiyanat-e rawshanfikran
(Concerning the service and disservice of the
intellectuals), which was posthumously published during
the peak hours of the Revolution.

Jalal died on September 9, 1969 in a village in Gilan,
and was buried near the Firúzabadi mosque at Shahri Ray.
Thus came to end an intellectual career, apparently
chequered with swift shifts in political and
philosophical position, but in reality depicting the
journey of a restless soul in search of its true
identity, a quest for the roots. Jalal's psychological
and intellectual biography is not different from those of
many others who underwent similar radical upheavals and
transformations in the post-Second-World-War period of
disillusionment with almost all the modern ideologies
causing a deep sense of rootlessness.

Jalal traced back the roots of his own existence along
with the roots of Iranian culture and soul to Islam-a
diagnosis of great relevance to the Muslim world in
general. Hamid Algar's introduction to the translation of
Gharbzadegi furnishes all necessary information about
Jalal's literary and political life.

Algar's following observation provides the key to
understanding the real nature of Occidentosis:

It is important to remember that its author was
neither a historian nor an ideologue. He was a man who
after two decades of thought and experimentation had
discovered an important and fundamental truth concerning
his society-disastrous subordination to the West in all
areas-and was in a hurry to communicate this discovery to
others. He had neither the time nor the patience to
engage in careful historical research, and at some points
in the book he even enjoins his readers to dig up the
historical evidence for a given assertion. (p. 14).

A more important observation made by Algar concerns
the nature of Jalal's rediscovery of the soul of Islam.
In his view, Jalal's return to Islam is not
straightforward, because, firstly, he could not
completely free himself from the Orientalist influence,
and secondly, there was an unmistakably nationalist
colour to Ali Ahmad's proud claim that

"Islam became Islam when it reached the settled
lands between the Tigris and the Euphrates, until then
being the Arabs' primitiveness and Jahiliyyah" Jalal
in Occiden tosis blames Orientalists for inflating the
Iranian ego by causing them to believe that they are the
people with a great past and consequently making them
think that they did not need learn anything new from the
West except the use of machine. Then taking advantage of
this false pride and complacence, in his view, Western
scholars changed the moulds of Iranian thought
substituting them by their own measures. It is strange
that an intellectual of Jalal's calibre, who was aware of
the Western scholars' conspiracy, fell so cheaply into
their trap and explained the origin of Islam in terms of
"a kind of delayed response to the call of Mani and
Mazdak" or, using Marxist jargon, "a new call
based on the needs of the urban populations of the
Euphrates region and Syria". These and many other
false notions and criteria are fabrications of the
Western mode of thinking imported to the East in the name
of "scientific tools of socio-historical

And our intelligentsia is so allured by the temptation
of being considered modern that a conscious writer like
Jalal, fully aware of Western intellectual conspiracy,
applies them to the realities of Islam and the Eastern
culture unhesitatingly. Unfortunately all intellectuals
who have been and are in the vanguard of political and
intellectual movements in the third world have been using
Western concepts and criteria to interpret and solve the
complexities of their own traditions.

Modernism, liberalism, scientism, secularism,
sociologism and many other 'isms' were evolved and
developed in the West according to the changing
conditions of the Western society and polity, which were
confronted with a fundamental contradiction between new
scientific modes of thinking and Christian-dominated
medieval ways of life and thought that caused an
unbridgeable breach between sacred and profane, spiritual
and physical, worldly and otherworldly, religion and
social existence, or the church and the state. So-called
Eastern intelligentsia in general, and Muslim
intellectuals in particular, without applying their
intellect to the fundamental opposition between Oriental
and Occidental milieu, accepted Western notions as if
they were universally true and applicable to various

Nationalism is also such a category having little
relevance to the realities and ideals of Islam. Iranian
Islam, Indian Islam, Malaysian Islam, Pakistani Islam,
Turkish Islam and Arab Islam as terms have become so
current in contemporary writings that even the most
cautious and meticulous of Muslim scholars brought up
under the Western educational system use them as valid.
Undoubtedly Islamic teachings due to their immense
potential of adaptability could fit in different environs
without being altered basically, but it did not mean that
Islam could be variously interpreted. Since such a wrong
conception of Islam became current, Muslim Ummah as a
whole began to lose political and economic power and
became stagnant intellectually and scientifically.
Jalal's pride in an Islam which became Islam after
settling in what is presently known as Iraq, Syria and
Iran stems from a similar nationalist oriented
misconception. Surprisingly enough Jalal is critical of
the Safawid Iran for playing into the hands of
anti-Muslim Eastern and Western powers by stabbing the
Ottoman Muslim empire in the back which proved to be the
last stronghold of Muslim resistance against the world
supremacy of the West. Granted that his criticism is not
justified concerning all the points, nonetheless his
analysis, though defective, reveals his keen desire for
Muslim unity. He is also aw are that the breaking up of
the Ottoman empire into small states and principalities
was engineered by Western imperialist designs. This
awareness should have led him to understand the true
nature of the movements of nationalism in the Muslim
world. The seeds of nationalism were sowed in the hearts
of the Muslims by a well-planned conspiracy of Western
imperialism, intellectually supported by Orientalists and
Western educators with a view to break Muslim unity.

The Arabs who are still serving their Western masters,
with their overemphasis on Arab nationalism fail to
realize that the differences within their own fold are
due to themselves and are offshoots of the spirit of
nationalism cultivated in their minds by the vested
Western interests. The divisive role of nationalism does
not stop at alienating Arab Muslims from the rest of the
Muslim world, but it goes further and deeper by causing
subdivisions among themselves making them even more
dependent on the West. Like many modern and so-called
progressive writers of the past generation Jalal Ali
Ahmad, in his diagnosis of the evil effects of Western
influence, could not smell the danger of the
West-inspired nationalism. Thus he, whose messianic
mission was to liberate Iranians from the clutches of
Westernization, fell an easy prey to the Occidental trap
not realizing the ideological pitfalls in Western
thought. This is how Orientalists consciously coin
certain notions with ulterior motives and our Eastern, or
more precisely Muslim, intellectuals imitate them
unconsciously subscribing to their views and serving
their motives.

Algar, quoting Simin Danishwar, Jalal's wife,
concludes that Jalal's "relative return to religion
was a means to preserving national identity and a path
leading to human dignity, mercy, reason, and
virtue." All these terms are ambiguous, rather
emptyclichés, confusing "Islamic identity"
with a particular kind of "national identity."
Jalal's return to Islam is dubbed as incomplete by Algar,
for, even in Khassi dar Miqat, Jalal's travelogue of his
hajj pilgrimage, despite his occasional emotional
outbursts, he is more concerned with the human and
material surroundings than with his own inner experience.
On the one hand, it may be explained in terms of a
hangover from his Marxist past, and on the other, it can
be deciphered "as an attempt to flee from the
mosque" The last phrase occurs in Khassi dar Miqat
(Tehran: 1345/1966, p. 74) on the occasion of his visit
to the tomb of the Prophet (S) in Medina.

In the morning when I said, 'peace be upon you, O
Prophet,' 1 was suddenly moved. The railing surrounding
the tomb was directly in front of me and 1 could see the
people circumambulating the tomb ... I wept and fled from
the mosque. (Occidentosis, p.18)

However, this incomplete return to Islam in itself is
significant, because it paved the way for the coming of
many an intellectual in the fold of the Islamic
Revolution. Ayatullah Taliqani remarked of him: 'Jalal
was very good toward the end of his 'life.' Had he lived
till the victory of the Islamic Revolution, most probably
he would have been on the side of the 'ulama'. This is
not a shallow conjecture, but can be supported with ample
evidence. He was the first member of the intelligentsia
to lament the killing of Shaykh Fadl Allah Núri, the
chief opponent of Western-style constitutionalism. .Jalal
reevaluated his positive role in blocking the smooth
sailing of the Western interests in Iran in the following

... The martyred Shaykh Núri was forced to mount the
gallows not as an opponent of constitutionalism, which he
had defended early on, but as an advocate of rule by
Islamic law (and as an advocate for Shi'i solidarity).
This is why they all sat waiting for the fatwa from Najaf
to kill him-this in an age when the leaders among our
occidentotic intellectuals were the Christian Malkum Khan
and the Caucasian Social Democrat Talibov. Now the brand
of occidentosis was imprinted on our foreheads. I look on
that great man's body on the gallows as a flag raised
over our nation proclaiming the triumph of occidentosis
after two hundred years of struggle. Under this flag we
are like strangers to ourselves, in our food and dress,
our homes, our manners, our publications, and, most
dangerous, our culture .... (Occidentosis, pp. 5657)

Ali Ahmad was probably the lone litterateur who
recognized the significance of the 15 Khurdad 1342 (6
June 1963) uprising, and could see how decisive a role
the 'ulam a' were to play in shaping the destiny of Iran.
He also went to see Imam Khumayni, who was quoted as
saying: I once saw Jalal Ali Ahmad for a quarter of an
hour. It was in the early part of our movement. I saw
someone sitting opposite me, and the book Gharbzadegi was
lying near me. He asked, 'How did you come by this
Nonsense?' and I realized it was Ali Ahmad.
Unfortunately, I never saw him again. May he enjoy the
mercy of God. (Commemorative supplement to Jamhúri-ye
Islami, p.10)

The first chapter of Occidentosis deals with the
nature of the disease. It is said that the division of
the world in two blocs, East and West, or communist and
non-communist, has become redundant. In fact there exist
two blocs, and they are: producers of the machine and
buyers of the machine. It makes all the difference who
exports and who imports machines. Economy, politics,
sociology, psychology, and every other thing including
prosperity, mortality and birth-rates, social welfare,
nutrition, culture, and socio-political structure depend
upon this single fact. The West or the exploiter owns the
machine, and the East or the oppressed, or in more
respectable terms the developing countries, need the
machine. The boundaries of the East and the West are also
floating and shifting. Sometime the East overlaps the
West, and vice versa.

The East includes Asia, Africa, and Latin America,
while the West comprises Europe, America, Japan, South
Africa and Israel. In such a division ideological
compartmentalization becomes superfluous. Jalal
discovered this radically new reality in the early
sixties. In the past the area from the Eastern
Mediterranean to India (and China), presently called by
the West 'the East' was the advanced and civilized part
of the world, whereas the present West then led a
semi-barbaric life. Now the balance is tipped in favour
of the other side. It was success in trade and
advancement in machinery and technology that vested the
West with superior authority in all respects. With the
process of civilization, or rather Christianization, the
worst forms of deprivation, exploitation and
dehumanization encroached upon the lands of Asia, Africa
and Latin America. Religion, culture, economy, social
structure and the old value systems were destroyed by the
colonizers. It was only Muslim unity that obstructed the
onward march of imperialism. With the elimination of
Islamic Andalusia the last battle scene was set in the
Ottoman empire, the last citadel of formal or real
Islamic unity.

When the Ottoman empire was disintegrated as an
aftermath of the first world war, its provinces, formed
as independent states, but virtually Western satellites,
fell an easy prey to the ever-increasing lust of the
West. Iran was a part and parcel of this scheme, where a
dictator of the West's choice was crowned emperor. This
entire process was facilitated by importing into Iran the
machine and its Western experts along with all its
paraphernalia. The post-war period witnessed the
all-embracing tentacles of occidentosis rapidly taking
into their deadly embrace the entire Iran and all the
aspects of its religious, cultural, social and economic
life. This was the end of a national identity.

The next three chapters describe the earliest signs of
the illness, the wellsprings of the flood, and the first
infections. In these chapters Jalal gives an account of
the historical events leading to the ultimate surrender
of the East to the West. The villain of this long drawn
drama is the machine-a substitute for Fate, the villain
in the classical Western play-as a tool of the demigods
of money and political power in Iran.

The delayed reaction on the part of the East, like
that of Shakespearian hero Hamlet, comes to the surface
at the end of the nineteenth century, in the form of
constitutionalism, which also proved to be inspired and
manoeuvred by the Britishers. It is in this perspective
that the martyrdom of Fadl Allah Núri is assessed as a
sacrifice of great significance by the author. Before
that Jalal had analysed the vital role of Iran-Turkey
conflict as an instrument of strengthening the forces of
the West.

In the fourth chapter, "The First
Infections", among other things, Jalal evaluates the
nature and character of Western education. The first
point he makes out is that the entire Western education
is based upon and modelled according to Christianity. In
the East it aims at alienating the Eastern people from
their culture, religion, and social structure. It is an
irony of events that an educational system more advanced
than that of the medieval Christian system was put aside
as being obsolete and retrogressive in the name of modern
science and technology. This type of education alienated
the so-called elite from their people, soil, and their
traditions, without bestowing upon them the slightest
spark of expertise in modern science and technology. In
the Iranian context, Jalal makes note of the following

This estrangement came about because the two
generations that have cropped up here since the
Constitutional Era to become professors, writers,
ministers, lawyers, general directors, and so on, only
the doctors among them having any true specialized
competence ... they all went astray in opting for
"adoption of European civilization without Iranian
adaptation".... (p. 58)

Westernization is not an isolated phenomenon confined
to Iran.

All colonies of the West in the East had to meet this
challenge. For instance, the Indian subcontinent, which
remained under the British colonial rule virtually for
about two centuries, underwent a process of
Westernization, but it could affect a minority of civil
servants and upper ruling class only, and failed to
engulf the vast majority of the Muslim and non-Muslim
population. The Western education system was thrust upon
the subcontinent partly due to needs of the British
rulers for efficient functionaries for their
administration, and partly because a few far-sighted
leaders considered the old Muslim and Hindu systems of
education out-dated and felt that the Indians'
acquaintance with modern sciences was the only means of
rescuing them from total destruction. A section of
orthodox Muslim 'ulama' and staunch champions of Hindu
culture put up some resistance to the Western influence.
This resistance, though not lasting long, served as a
warning as well as a safety measure and effective
restraint in checking complete surrender of India to the
W est. Thus, the Indians were enabled to master modern
scientific knowledge and its tools without being totally
alienated from their own cultural traditions. Only a
negligible minority of timeservers took pride in
Anglicizing themselves, but the majority of the Muslims,
Hindus, and other communities, including even new
converts to Christianity, retained and preserved their
traditional style of life. As a consequence of firm
adherence to their native traditions, Indians learnt
modern sciences and proved themselves to be the equals,
in specialized fields, of the Westerners, but at the same
time they retained their "Indianness".
Contrarily, in Iran, after the early resistance against
Westernization by the clergy was repressed by force,
there was no check against Westernization. It is more
tragic that instead of trying to specialize in modern
sciences they remained content in imitating Western ways
of dressing, living and eating, and they forcibly
unveiled their women without initiating them into modern
spirit. Another factor that accelerated superficial
Westernization was affluence, which came in the wake of
the oil money. Jalal repeatedly uses the phrase "the
ugly head of oil" for referring to the negative
consequences of the oil. Though the lion's share of oil
revenue was usurped by the Western powers and companies,
yet the remnant of it was enough to ensure Iranians that
they could buy all they needed from the West. They became
accustomed to the use of the machine without having
technical know-how. Gradually they became more and more
easygoing and comfort-loving, and surrendered their
social, cultural, political, and economic freedom to the
despotism of the machine. When Jalal curses the machine
and holds it responsible for Iran's slavery to the
machine-producing West, his criticism issues from a
realization that the machine played the key role in
subjecting Iran to occidentosis. The imported machine and
technology required expertise, which was not available in
the country, and hiring of foreign experts meant
importing the necessary paraphernalia. which was
accompanied by all sorts of foreign cultural influence,
including that of the Orientalists, sociologists,
political analysts, functionaries of cultural exchange
programmes, etc. With all this, Iran's subjection to
occidentosis was complete. The same process took place in
the Arab countries also with some minor differences. But
probably the pre-Revolution Iran had become much more
Western in its life-style than any other Muslim or
Eastern country. All diseases produce corresponding
antibodies. Similarly the plague of occidentosis produced
from within writers like Jalal and a combating resistance
force in the form of the 'ulama', who untiringly fought
against all forms of Western supremacy. This concerted
struggle ultimately culminated in the movement led by
Imam Khumayni. Jalal witnessed its beginning and
anticipated correctly its far-reaching socio-political

The fifth chapter '"The War of
Contradictions", brings out the main contradictions
of the Iranian society caused by the machine
transformation. The logic of machine consumption
compelled premature urbanization, as a consequence of
which villages were deserted and agriculture destroyed.
This change forced Iranian consumers to be dependent on
foreign food grains and frozen or tinned food products.
The entire Iranian economy collapsed. The figures which
are supplied and analysed by Jalal concern the years
1331-1340 (1952-1961), which marked just the beginning of
Iran's dependence on the West, and particularly the
U.S.A. Desertion of the countryside and total collapse of
agriculture in the coming years turned Iran into a
country spoon-fed by the West. Oil reserves were drilled
and exported with an alarmingly fast rate. No long-term
planning was even conceived at any level. The White
Revolution did nothing except darkening the conceivable
future of the nation. Urbanization and occidentosis
everywhere and always go hand in hand:

First, the new urban resident attends initially to the
wants of his stomach and then to those of the region
beneath his stomach, and for the sake of the latter, to
his grooming. (p. 66)

In this period, as compared to the most advanced
cities of the world, Tehran had 2200 licensed men's
barbers and women's hairdressers and 2500 unlicensed
ones. Comparing this with London's 4300 barbers and
hairdressers, or Moscow's 3900, one can appreciate how
much the people of Tehran devoted themselves to
maintaining their appearance. Similarly the number of
cinema houses and other places of refuge from urban
anxiety, home and family, school, and sexual and other
deprivations increased stupendously. The bank accounts of
the Hollywood film-makers were incessantly fed from the
pockets of lower and middle class Third World citizens.
The amounts spent and earned in this business were
staggeringly high. Secondly, the problem of security grew
serious day by day. Thirdly, traditional industries and
handicrafts were ruined.

Fourthly, a whole course of time is needed to accustom
people to the use of the machine. In the West, the
people's consciousness and mode of living developed with
the evolution of the machine, whereas in Iran its
introduction on a large scale was so sudden that people
in general lost the sense of all proportion. A simple
villager came to the city and w as astounded to such a
degree that he fell an easy prey to all sorts of
temptations, which led him to a life of easy-money and

In this process corruption was logically accepted as a
way of life.

Fifthly, in a medieval social set-up that did not
provide women with respectable work and valued their
labour much cheaper than that of men, women were
superficially emancipated. Without being trained in any
trade of social significance, they had no other job but
to freshen and exhibit themselves as objects of sex.
Sixthly, ninety per cent of the people of Iran have
deep-rooted faith in the return of the Twelfth Imam (A),
"all awaiting him, each in his own way; because none
of the Iranian governments ever lived up to the least of
its promises; for oppression, injustice, repression, and
discrimination had been always pandemic." In such a
clime of waiting for a just government, propagation of
the idea of a national government with all its tools and
institutions of oppression, the SAVAK and the torture,
and an alien system of education could cause only a wider
breach between faith and practice. Such a system could
breed either cynics and rebels or timeservers and
hypocrites. Another contradiction to which Jalal attracts
attention is that in this age of shrinking international
boundaries with all the affluence that provides every
Iranian an opportunity for travel, Iranians remained
usually ignorant of their immediate neighbours and their
cultures :

But if the Afghan and I, united in our religion,
language, and racial stock, know nothing of each other or
if to travel to Iraq Or India is harder than to penetrate
the iron Curtain, it is because we are within the sphere
of influence of one corporation and the Afghan in that of

Jalal's conclusion is that the world is
compartmentalized according to the interests of our
masters who pull our strings from behind the scene and we
submit like puppets to them. In Jalal's view, the most
dangerous of all the contradictions arising from
occidentosis is our ignorance of our own situation in
that part of the world in which significant events are
taking place. The locus of threat has been transferred to
the Middle East.

The sixth chapter contains some positive suggestions
as to how we can break the spell of occidentosis. Jalal
says that the road Iran has so far followed is to remain
only a consumer of the machine, to submit utterly to this
twentieth-century juggernaut.

... First we need an economy consistent with the
manufacture of machines, that is, an independent economy.
Then we need an educational system, then a furnace to
melt the metal and impress it with the human will. Then
we need schools where these skills may be practically
imparted. Then we need factories to convert the metal
into machines and other industrial goods. And then we
need markets to make them available to the people in the
towns and villages.

To achieve control of the machine, one must build it.
Something built by another-even if it is a charm or a
sort of talisman against envy-certainly carries something
of the unknown, something of fearsome "unseen
worlds" beyond human access. It harbors a mystery.
The one who carries that talisman does not possess it but
in a sense is possessed by it in living under its aegis,
in taking refuge in it and living in constant dread of
giving it offense. (pp. 79-80)

According to Jalal, the main reason for Iran's
occidentosis is the mode of thinking which says:
"Now that we are an oil-producing country and the
European brings us everything from soap to nuts on a
silver platter, why should we go to the trouble of
building factories, heavy industry, with all the
attendant problems...." (p. 81) It is due to this
way of thinking that almost the entire oil income goes to
the West:

The Westerners extract, refine, transport, and compute
the cost of the oil themselves and figure our annual
share at, say, forty million pounds sterling, given us as
credits toward purchase of their manufactured goods and
deposited in their own banks in our accounts. We are
necessarily compelled to return these credits by buying
from them. Who are they? Forty percent is America and its
satellites, 40 percent England and its adherents, and the
rest, France, the Netherlands, and other Western European
nations. In return for the oil they take, we must import
machines, and in the wake of the machines, specialists in
the machines, dialectologists, ethnologists,
musicologists, and art historians. (pp. 83-85)

In this context Jalal refers to the under-the-counter
transactions, which sometimes involve estimable
Orientalists like Peter Avery, a fellow of the reputed
Cambridge. It came as a revelation to Jalal that people
are similarly small around the world. In 1962 Iran had
thirty thousand foreign experts, engineers and
specialists. This number multiplied in the coming years
under de facto American rule.

The seventh chapter entitled "Asses in Lions
Skins, or Lions on the Flag" is a vivid description
of occidentotics, and is relevant to all countries and
nations under the spell of Westernization.

The term Gharbzadegi was actually coined by Ahmad
Fardid, as Jalal himself acknowledged, but it would have
.lapsed into obscurity were it not for Jalal's book. This
chapter forms the core of the book. I quote liberally
from this chapter because of another reason also, that
is, the passages quoted are the best examples of Jalal's
powerful style, which is retained to a great extent by

Campbell, in his foreword, explains the difficulties
of translating Ali Ahmad's style which "has a
certain rough and uneven quality, marked by great
informality and a deliberate disregard for the syntax of
conventional literary expression." The translator
has made an attempt to convey not only the ideas of the
original text but also something of the tone in which
they were presented. The following account of the
Westoxicated Iranian is equally true of all Westernized
people of different Eastern nations who are infected by
the epidemic called rootlessness. They have been uprooted
from their native soil, alienated from their own culture,
society, people, past, heritage and are even estranged
from their present. They live in a vacuum, lead the life
of parasites and feed their lust with exported luxuries.
Ideas and fashionable trends in arts also form a part of
their mental luxury. Here follows Jalal Ali Ahmad's
portrayal of this class:

The occidentotic is a man totally without belief or
conviction, to such an extent that he not only believes
in nothing, but also does not actively disbelieve in
anything-you might call him a syncretist. He is a
timeserver. Once he gets across the bridge, he doesn't
care if it stands or falls. He has no faith, no
direction, no aim, no belief, neither in God nor in
humanity. He cares neither whether society is transformed
or not nor whether religion or irreligion prevails. He is
not even irreligious. He is indifferent. He even goes to
the mosque at times, just as he goes to the club or the
movies. But everywhere he is only a spectator. It is just
as if he had gone to see a soccer game.

He is always to be seen off in the grandstands. He
never invests anything of himself-even to the extent of
moist eyes at the death of a friend, attentiveness at a
shrine, or reflection in the hours of solitude. In fact
he is not accustomed to solitude at all; he flees it.
Because he is in terror of himself, he turns up
everywhere. He offers opinions, if it is appropriate, and
particularly if it is fashionable to offer opinions, but
only to someone from whom he hopes to gain some further
benefit. Never do you hear from him any outcry or
protest, any but or why or wherefore. He will explain
everything with the utmost gravity and grandiloquence. He
will feign optimism.

The occidentotic seeks ease. He lives in the moment,
although not in the sense the philosophers intend. If his
car is running and he looks debonair, nothing troubles
him. If in some distant age, concern for offspring,
bread, clothing, and provisions held Sa'di back from
spiritual wayfaring, the occidentotic, with his head
submerged in his own fodder, will do nothing for the sake
of anyone else. He doesn't go looking for any headaches
for himself, and he easily shrugs things off. Because he
has figured out just what his job is, because he doesn't
take an unconsidered step, because he sees every action
as the product of an equation, he doesn't stick his nose
into others' affairs, let alone feel concern for their

The occidentotic normally has no specialty. He is
jack-of-all-trades and master of none- But because he is
schooled, literate, and perhaps educated, he knows to use
polysyllables and to bluff his way into every company.

Perhaps once he had a specialty, but he has seen that
in this country one cannot, with a single specialty,
grasp the horn of plenty. Therefore he necessarily has
involved himself in other lines of work. He is just like
the old women in a household who in the course of
lifetimes of experience have learned a little about
everything, although their knowledge is limited by the
perspective of illiterate women. The occidentotic too
knows a little about everything, and his knowledge is
limited by the perspective of the occidentotic. He has
tabs on the topics of the day-what will be useful on
television, what will be useful on the educational
commission and at the seminar, what will be useful for
the mass circulation newspapers, what will be useful for
talks at the club.

The occidentotic has no character- He is a thing
without authenticity. His person, his home, and his words
convey nothing in particular, and everything in general.
It is not that he is cosmopolitan, that the world is his
home. He is at home nowhere rather than everywhere. He is
an amalgam of singleness without character and character
without singularity. Because he has no security, he
dissembles. In the very act of being so polite and
sociable, he mistrusts whom he is speaking to. And
because suspicion dominates our age, he must never open
his heart to anyone. The only palpable characteristic he
has is fear. In the West individuals' characters are
sacrificed to their field of specialization, but the
occidentotic has neither. He has only fear: fear of
tomorrow, fear of dismissal, fear of anonymity ...

The occidentotic is effete. He is effeminate. He
attends to his grooming a great deal. He spends much time
sprucing himself up. Sometimes he even plucks his
eyelashes. He attaches a great deal of importance to his
shoes and his wardrobe, and to the furnishings of his
home. It always seems he has been unwrapped from gold
foil or come from some European "maison." He
buys the latest prodigy in automotive engineering every
year. His house, which once had a porch and a cellar, a
pool, awnings, and a vestibule, now looks like something
different every day. One day it resembles a seaside villa
with picture windows all around, and full of fluorescent
lamps. Another day it resembles a cabaret, full of gaudy
junk and bar stools. The next day all the walls are
painted one color and triangles of all colors cover every
surface. In one comer there is a hi-fi, in another a
television, in another a piano for the young lady, in
others stereo loudspeakers. The kitchen and other nooks
and crannies are packed with gas stoves, electric
washers, and other odds and ends.

Thus the occidentotic is the most faithful consumer of
the West's industrial goods. If he should rise one
morning and find that the hairdresser, the tailor, the
shoeshiner, and the repairman have all closed up shop, he
would turn to the qibla in desperation (that is, he would
do so if he knew where the qibla was).

All his preoccupations and Western products are more
essential to him than

any school, mosque, hospital, or factory. It is for
his sake that we have an architecture with no roots in
our culture....

The occidentotic hangs on the words and handouts of
the West. He has nothing to do with what goes on in our
little world, in this comer of the East.

If perchance he is interested in politics, he is
cognizant of the faintest right or left tendencies in the
British Labour Party and is more familiar with the
current U.S. senators than with the ministers in his own
government. And he knows more about the staff of Time or
the News Chronicle than about some nephew way off in
Khurasan. And he supposes them more veracious than a
prophet because all these have more influence on the
affairs of his country than any domestic politician,
commentator, or representative. If he is interested in
letters, his only concem is knowing who won this year's
Nobel Prize or who was awarded the Goncourt or Pulitzer
Prizes. And if he is interested in research, he folds his
hands and closes his eyes to all the problems within the
country that could be studied. He seeks to learn only
what some orientalist has said and written about the
questions within his field. If he is one of the ordinary
people who read the weeklies and the pictorials, we have
seen what a sorry lot they are.

If there used to be a time when one could silence
opponents and end all arguments by citing one verse of
the Qur'an or one tradition transmitted in Arabic, now
one does so by relating one sentence by some European,
whatever the subject under discussion. (pp. 94-98).

As the five preceding chapters are a prelude to the
main theme of occidentosis elaborated in the seventh
chapter, the remaining four chapters, from the eighth to
the eleventh, form a sequel to it. "A Society in
Collapse" is again an account of the tyranny of the
machine, in the wake of which the armed forces emerge as
the final arbiters. Jalal has described various wings of
the armed forces in terms of their utility for the
oppressive regime and its subservience to its Western

The ninth chapter gives an account of the pitfalls of
the West-oriented educational system and its irrelevance
to Iranian society and people.

The educated class was a typical breed of
occidentotics; all its activities and products lacked any
sense of purpose and direction. Some passages from this
chapter can be quoted to serve as an index for the study
of the occidentotic elite of other similar countries:

With very few exceptions, the sole output of these
colleges over the last twenty or thirty years has
consisted of distinguished scholars, all of whom know the
language, know some biography, are scrupulous workers,
write marginalia in others' books, resolve tough problems
in language or history, determine which graves lack
tenants or which figures lack graves, explore the
mysteries of Sura an-Nahl, know who is citing or
plagiarizing from whom as much as a thousand years ago,
and write treatises on the poets of the tenth century of
the Hijra, whom one could count on the fingers of one's
two hands. Worst of all, most of them become teachers of
literature, educational directors, or civil judges. Bless
this last group, whose members have given some
underpinnings to the Justice Ministry and some meaning to
the idea of the independence of the judiciary and who
well distinguish truth from falsity, if conditions allow.
But what of the others? All in all, what benefit have we
realized from them, besides a deeper plunge into

All these professors and their carefully trained
pupils, with their ears stopped like Seven Sleepers',
have retreated so far into the cave of texts, textual
variants, and obscure expressions that even the roar of
the machine cannot awaken them. Rather, they have
plastered these texts to their ears to avoid hearing
these most loathsome of sounds. The encroachments of
foreign tongues day by day are undermining the importance
of the mother tongue and making a sound command of it
less necessary. Defections to scientific and technical
fields further thin the ranks of those pursuing these
fields. With things in such a state, the nation's centers
for letters, legal studies, and leaning, the Colleges of
Letters, Law, and the Religious and Philosophic Sciences
have retreated into the cocoons of old texts, content to
train pedants, just as the clergy have drawn into their
cocoons of fanaticism and paralysis in the face of the
West's onslaught. These days, just as the clergy
languishes in the toils of doubt between two and three
and explication of ritual purity and impurity, such
centers of Iranian, Eastern, and Islamic letters, law,
and learning languish in the toils of whether the
decorative be should be joined to the following word or
whether the silent should be written.

Those exiled from the world of universals will clutch
at minutiae. When the house has been carried off in the
flood or has collapsed in an earthquake, you go looking
for a door in the debris to bear the rotting corpse of a
loved one to the graveyard.

As we speak of educational questions and questions of
the university, we meet with another major question, that
of the army of returnees from Europe and America, each of
whom has returned at least a candidate for a position in
a ministry and who collectively form the bulwark of the
:nation's organizations. Each of these educated persons
is a boon-something like finding one shoe in the desert.
For look closely. See, after returning and finding a post
in an organization and getting entrenched there, what
each of these boons turns into. They haven't the
authority or the competence to do the job. They are
illiberal, apathetic, and for the most part lacking in
concern, mostly because they see themselves and their
opinions as amounting to nothing next to the Western
advisors and consultants who dominate the scene.

Contrary to the widespread view, the greater the army
of returnees from Europe, the less their power to act and
the greater the distress of the institutions that absorb
their impact- Because there has never been a plan for
where to send these youths and what specialty, what
trade, what technology they should study, they have gone
each to some part of the world to study or experience
something completely different from others' experiences,
on their own choice and initiative, to their own taste.
As they return, each having to join some group in one of
our country's organizations, it becomes obvious how
dissonant they are and how at a loss to carry out
anything. Consider the French-educated Iranian, or the
English; German; or American-educated one :

each tunes up and plays in a distinct style.

If I have hope for the future of intellectuals in
Iran, however, one reason is this very diversity of
methods by which our European-educated have studied, of
their fields of study and places of study. This is the
wellspring of the wealth of Iran's intellectual
environment. Look at the intellectual environment of
India, at how English its majority of Oxford-educated
intelligentsia have made it. Under present conditions in
this country, these youths generally resemble the lovely
tulips, daffodils, and hyacinths we import as bulbs from
Holland and grow in the Tehran greenhouses. When they
bloom, we put them in exorbitantly priced flowerpots and
give them to friends or acquaintances to set in a hot
room under the sun where they will survive a week at
most. These flowers at the top of society's basket also
wither in this society's climate. Or if they don't, they
generally fade to the color of the society.
Notwithstanding all the propaganda cranked out to lure
back students from abroad in Europe, I do not believe
that their return promises to be a service to the country
so long as no environment suited to their future work is
provided. Who is to provide this environment? In this
intense cold, those can prepare it who have been both
baked in the furnace and acclimated to the icehouse....

Although many young men return with European or
American wives, very few of the young women return with
European or American husbands. This constitutes an
additional problem. As we watch crumble the foundation of
the Iranian family, an intimate relationship of husband
and wife of the same stock, the responsibility of these
incongruous households is obvious. The saying, "the
pigeon of two towers" means these youths with their
families-the firsthand human products of occidentosis.
(pp. 117-119)

Under the heading "Mechanosis" the
distinguishing factors of a transitional period of
society are discussed, which are : advance of science;
transformation of technique, technology, and machine, and
some semblance to Western type of democracy. In all cases
these factors cause crises, which are in proportion to
the speed of transformation of a society. Iran sought to
make up for a two-hundred-year lag within two decades,
which naturally gave rise to social aberrations and
psychological disturbances. In the West, mechanization of
socioeconomic structure produced gangsters, brigands,
killers, adventurers, and deportees at the social level,
and militarism and fascism at the political level. Jalal
holds that the Iranian society has its own rogues, who
are sometimes exported to the West under imperial
patronage. He regards African and Asian countries raped
and transgressed, and put to pressures, humiliations, and
killings as the victims of the same abnormal phenomena.
In a democratic set-up, political parties also help
technocracy and bureaucracy to iron out individual
differences and to mould all individuals in one and the
same shape. This is again a byproduct of the machine
which demands total conformity to its dictates.

"Conformity in the work place", in Jalal's
words, "culminates in conformity in the party and
union, which in turn culminates in conformity in the
barracks-that is, before the war machine." The
yardstick of standardization is not only applied to
dress, form, and manners, but also to thought and inner
make-up. Out of this come the Blackshirts, the
Brownshirts and the Fascists of all sort. In such
deterministic and standardized society, psychosis and
neurosis, personality split and dissociation,
schizophrenia and melancholia become the order of the

Jalal has enumerated three specific forms of
melancholia common in Iranian society. the melancholia of
grandiosity, the melancholia of glorifying the nation's
remote past, and the melancholia of constant pursuit.

The last chapter, "The Hour Draws Nigh",
gives a brief account of some Western thinkers and
writers who predicted the end of the road taken by the
pursuers of the machine. First of all he refers to Albert
Camus and his masterwork The Plague, then to Eugene
Ionesco's Rhinoceros, Ingmar Bergman's film The Seventh
Seal, Sartre's Erostratus and other similar works and
characters. After translating The Plague one-third, a
realization came to him that "the plague"
symbolized mechanism, murder of beauty and poetry, spirit
and humanity.

And now I, not as an Easterner, but as one like the
first Muslims, who expected to see the Resurrection on
the Plain of Judgement in their lifetimes, see ... that
all these fictional endings raise the threat of the final
hour, when the machine demon (if we don't rein it in or
put its spirit in the bottle) will set the hydrogen bomb
at the end of the road for humanity. On that note, I will
rest my pen at the Quranic verse: "The hour draws
nigh and the moon is split in two." (The Quran,
54:1) (p.137)

In Iran the occidentosis-demon has been reined and put
in the bottle by the Islamic Revolution, and
"Mechanosis" has been controlled to some
extent. Watch out! The danger has not vanished, it still
lingers on in some of the darkest corners of the society.
The hour to relax has not arrived as yet.

At the end, it can be pointed out that some of the
translations of the titles of Jalal's books are not
accurate, which are modified in this review. It is feared
that such errors might have crept into the text of the
book also.


*Gharbzadegi, a literary event in modern Persian
literature, was published in 1962. The author Jalal Ali
Ahmad is one of the most eminent writers of Iran, whose
importance was not diminished by the Islamic Revolution
but was rather enhanced. The English translation of
Gharbzadegi by Campbell is reviewed by Dr. Wahid Akhtar,
an eminent Urdu writer and poet. Dr. Akhtar is a
professor of philosophy at Muslim University A