Modernity in Iran
Modernity started in Europe in 19th century, but its aftermath affected the whole world including Iran. In this period, Qajar ruled Iran, and were responsible for the entrance of modernity to the country. The first contact of Iran with Western countries dates back to the war between Iran and Russia. By the time, Abbas Mirza, who was Fath Ali Shah’s (2nd Qajar King) Son and the Crown Prince, was the head of military, and lead the army in the war. The first loss against Russia made Abbas Mirza curious about the west and its developments. He considered the advancement of the west modern world, the reason of their success, and therefore, he dispatched merchants and students to West in order to learn science. The return of these students and merchants to Iran marks the beginning of modernity. When Amir Kabir became the Prime Minister of Naser Al Din Shah (4th Qajar King), Modernity entered a new phase. Amir Kabir is in fact the initiator of organized reformations, and the establisher of west modernity in Iran. His acts in this direction were foundation of Dar Ol-Fonoun, a college like educational place for teaching modern science and knowledge. He also sent students to Europe to learn new sciences, and ordered the publication of Vagay-e Etefagheye newspaper to increase public awareness.
When Amir Kabir became the Prime Minister of Naser Al Din Shah (4th Qajar King), Modernity entered a new phase. Amir Kabir is in fact the initiator of organized reformations, and the establisher of west modernity in Iran.
Following the trip of Naser al-Din Shah Qajar to Europe, and his being acquainted with the European culture and lifestyle, the reforms continued. He sent a group of students to Europe to learn lawmaking and establishing different ministries. In this regard, the organization or the House of Law and Legislation Studies were created that aimed to study and justify the need of written and codified law. The intellects, who went to Europe, came back greatly influenced by western culture. The presence of European in Iran intensified the matter, and Iranian began to learn more about the culture and modernity of west which was a starting point of a great evolution in Iran.
Development of cities, streets, the vehicle import, and most importantly the Iranian Constitutional Revolution are the result of Europe’s effect. After the Constitutional Revolution, Parliament was initiated, law was created, and the power of monarchy decreased. With Pahlavi Kings, came many more reformations; construction of universities, railway, and roads are among the most notable ones. The renovations lead to the development of economic and civil life of citizen, but challenged the religious beliefs as well. The Iranian with their strong Islamic belief never accept the Constitutional Revolution or the modernity completely.
For the new style of life, that stemmed from modernity, to survive in this highly religious environment, it had to be mixed with the cultural and religious beliefs of the locals. Therefore, modernity in Iran took a religious side to it and became a mixture of renovation, reformation, new system of governing, and the Islamic Shiite beliefs. When Islam became an inseparable part of this new system of thought, then the Iranian accepted it, and modernity, after years of semi-rejection, was finally accepted.