Monday, November 06, 2006

Freedom of Choice

On the board of the so-called Ma'aref Department (the department which provides the mandatory Islamic courses for all the students in the university), I saw a list of the new courses available as well as a few comments including the following funny note:

"The students of minority religions can take the courses of their choice freely from the provided list of available courses of the Islamic Knowledge (Ma'aref-e-Eslami) department, without any limitations."

(Notice that in Iran you have to be either Muslim or a follower of one of the three recognized minority religions. The Islamic Republic does not believe any other case is possible!)

It's worth taking a look at the list those students can freely choose from: Islamic Thoughts 1, Islamic Thoughts 2, The Human Kind in Islam, Social and Political Rights in Islam, The Philosophy of Morality (of course in Islam!), Islamic Morals, The Islamic Revolution of Iran, Getting Familiar with the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Emam Khomeini's Political Way of Thought, The History of Islamic Civilization and Culture, The Analytic History of the beginning of Islam, The History of Emamat (the way of the Shi'ite imams), Topical Interpretation of the Koran, Topical Interpretation of Nahj ol-Balagheh (a book containing the speeches and letters of Ali, the first Shi'ite Imam).

Really that's a diverse list! Each student has to take six of these courses.


Jeremiah said...

Reading about the mandatory Islamic courses, and the Basij (in the last post), made me think of this C.S. Lewis quotation:

"Of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end, for they do so with the approval of their own conscience."

That said, things could always be worse. The "moral" busybodies in Iran could require you to take courses about how everything you think and do is racist, sexist, and heterosexist. They could try to indoctrinate you into believing that some combination of Marxism, relativism, and nihilism is the only acceptable worldview for an "educated" person. That is what the average (i.e. left-leaning) American university teaches; albeit, not with as much coercion as Iran uses to teach Islam.

As a Christian, if I had to "choose" between being forced to learn about Islam and being forced to learn about the typical leftist secularism in the U.S., then I would probably choose to learn about Islam. Of course, I would prefer not to be forced to do either.

Alas, the Christian libertarian society I strive for may never exist!

Anyway, do you have to take, or have you taken, any of the courses you listed?

Homayoon said...

I have not taken any of those courses yet, but I have to, and even starting from the next semester is a little late.

Your quote from C.S. Lewis reminded me of Kamal Tabrizi's movie, Marmoolak (The Lizard), in which the chief of the prison tells Reza Marmoolak that he's going to have him enter the paradise even if that's going to be by force!