Teachers and preachers
Below are excerpts from Jalal Al-e Ahmad’s writings, a “central figure in the construction of the Islamic authenticity discourse in Iran” (1) prior to the 1979 revolution. Al-e Ahmad was, earlier in his life, involved in and a leader of secular socialist political movements, retreating, after the 1953 CIA-backed coup that overthrew Mosaddeq’s secular democratic government and reimposed the Shah as absolute ruler, to creative work founded upon Iran’s rural communities. His later writings helped inspire many of the foundations of a new Islamic political movement that sought to master modernization while challenging the Shah’s authority.
“There is a difference between a teacher and a preacher. A preacher usually touches the emotions of large crowds, while a teacher emphasizes the intelligence of a small group. The other difference is that a preacher begins with certitude and preaches with conviction. But a teacher begins with skepticism and speaks with doubt… And I am professionally a teacher. Yet I am not completely devoid of preaching either. I don’t know what I am.”
— Jalal Al-e Ahmad, “Karnamahi Sih Salah,” (Tehran: Revagh Publisher, 1979), p. 159.
“One must have the machine, one must build it… the machine is a means, not an end. The end is to abolish poverty and to put material and spiritual welfare within the reach of all…Thus 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 and impress it with human will.”
— Jalal Al-e Ahmad, “Occidentosis.”
(1) Ali Mirsepassi, “Intellectual Discourse and the Politics of Modernization: Negotiating Modernity in Iran,” (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2000), p. 97. The above quotes are found in this same book.