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Defining Religion And World Politics Politics Essay


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This chapter is to make the readers aware about how the research paper will expand. It will help them to remain focus and better understand the reading. The research work is divided into multiple chapter for the easiness so that one can be easily familiarize with it even if one don't know about politics and religion.

The research paper is broadly separated in 7 sections each having further sub topics. The research begins with the introduction of religion and world politics. This will make us aware how religion see politics and how politics uses religion for power gaining. Then there will be a brief view of International theories on world politics and its correlation with religion. Afterwards the research paper will depict a struggle between secularism and religious ideologies in influencing state affairs.

Latterly the paper will focus on the difference between Islam and the Political Islam viz a viz reference to Medina Charter. It will be further continued with implications of religion in governmental dealings. Then there will be a focus on Shiites denomination, their history and how they started their activism process. A brief introduction to Safavid dynasty and then a special case study of Iran- it's past, present. In the end their will be concluding remarks continued with the bibliography.

CHAPTER 2ƒ ƒ  Defining Religion & World Politics

Religion is derived from the Latin word religionem meaning respect for the sacred, admiration for the God and His obligation which results in the bond between man and the gods/God which represents the spiritual characteristic of homeo sapiens. Anthropologists, theologists, sociologists, psychologists, philologists Clifford Geertz, Antoine Vergote , Emile Durkheim, William James, Max Muller respectively have tried to define the word "religion", each from their own perspective lenses and relating to their particular fields. It is difficult to neglect their contribution towards defining religion but we have to define it in a more precise way. Typical dictionary definition of a religion refers to a 'the service, worship of God or the supernatural'. [i] E. B. Tylor defines religion as simply "the belief in spiritual beings". [ii] Clifford Geertz called religion as 'cultural system' while Talal Assad categorized religion as 'anthropological category'. [iii] 

Well there is no proper definition to religion but in short, we can entitle religion as 'obedience to and devotion of an eminent, commanding unseen power which is supernatural'. Religion is something which relates humanity to spirituality and moral values. Rituals, sermons, festivals, music, prayer, meditation are some of the ways through which religion is practiced. Prime motive of religion intends to give meanings to life or to explain the origin of life. Every religion has certain symbols, traditions and sacred histories. All of them appoint to derive morality, ethics, religious laws and a preferred lifestyle. In the contemporary world religion is more a socially acquired characteristic of human life. According to the survey 59% of world's population is religious, 23% is not religious and 13% are atheists. [iv] 

As the research is related to Shiites (denomination of Islam), it is necessary to have a glance at the both. Islam is a monotheistic religion which is outlined by the acceptance of submission to Allah Almighty and Muhammad as the last prophet to Allah. Islam is based on the teachings of Quran and the message of Holy Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.W). It is hinge on five pillars; Testimony (Shahadah), Prayer (Salah), Fasting (Sawm), Alms-giving (Zakat) and Pilgrimage (Hajj) respectively. The follower of Islam is known as Muslim. Muslims are categorized into two denomination Sunni and Shia which are further subdivided into different sects. Sunni accounts for 75-90% of Muslims while Shia's makes up 10-20%. [v] 

The word Shia means followers or party of Hazrat Ali (R.A).Iran, Syria, Lebanon, Qatar, Azerbaijan and Bahrain are the countries were Shiites resides in majority. Shiites constitute 38.6% of the local Muslim population of the Middle East. [vi] Iran and Pakistan compose about 37-40% and 10-15% of global Shia population. [vii] Now coming towards politics, same as religion it is difficult to elaborate politics and give a precise definition to it. Politics is derived from a Greek word 'poltikos' meaning "of, for, or relating to citizens". [viii] Harold Lasswell defined politics as 'who gets what, when and how'. [ix] In a broader sense we can define politics as the science or art of managing the governmental pursuit to formulate and apply policy for public good. The concept of world politics arose after World War 1 and it was thought that to ensure the safety of the world and to keep it safe from the curse of another world war an organization of nations is essential. However this approach got weightage in the 1970s due to extensive cross border interactions either politically, religiously or economically. Global politics wasn't bad but it got corrupted so in short it is carpet-bagger, manipulative and fraudulent in nature. One can categorize world politics into two kinds:

Leftist; concerned with egalitarianism, reforms and are progressive in character. They are secular and doesn't discriminate among the classes and gives no importance to religion in politics.

Rightist; it values tradition and social stratification. They are conservatives and regards religion as an important factor in the politics.

There are three views about global politics namely REALISM, IDEALISM and MARXISM. Realism focuses on survival through military buildup and neglects other factors to determine politics. For realist politics is just a power game in which states are rational actors and according to them there is anarchy internationally; each state pursuing its own goals and objectives. Idealism is just opposite to realism, the focal point is democratic peace theory and coexistence of civilization. They believe in religious freedoms and gives prime importance to ethical and moral considerations. While Marxism calls for equality and classless society through the struggle of proletariat (working class) against bourgeoisie (ruling elite). For them religion has no preponderance in politics.

The gist of this chapter is that we came to know about religion and politics which will help us understand the next chapters. We became familiar with the words which has great importance in this research paper. This chapter also made us familiar with different statistics on religion. In the next chapter we will have a look on the involvement of religion in world politics and its consequences.

CHAPTER 3 ƒ  Religion VS Secularization

Religion, secularization and politics is a contested triangle in which religion and secularism tends to surpass each other in order to motivate politics. It is important to have a proper knowledge relating the word secularization and on what grounds it promotes itself. Secularization is a descriptive term which implies no value judgment and it's a step to describe a process of change. [x] Secularization is falsely known as antireligious but this is not true. Secularization is a theory which is based on modernization. It calls for religion as a private phenomenon rather than a public. Its assumption is based on the grounds that with the trend of modernity and industrial development there is a decline in religiosity. For instance, Turkey abolished the Ottoman Empire and separated the state and the religion. This theory is flawed as religion continues to have a specific role in world politics in the countries which are highly developed.

Religion and secularization can't exist together at the same time as the end of one ensures the survival of the other. If religion has to enjoy the privilege religious pundits should encounter the propaganda of the secularist practitioner. It is interesting that both religion and secularization goes to extreme end to have their influence on politics. Politics cannot function without these two determinants. The focus should be to find a parallel way to both religion and secularism. Religion should be channelized properly so that no one can use religion in order to accomplish unjust means and similarly too much secularization will corrupt the politics. Secularization not only damages values, traditions, and customs but also gives a blow to different religious believes.

In the contemporary politics both religion and secularization should set their limits. Both of them checks and holds the misuse of each other. Religion should be used in politics:

to promote morality and ethics

to promote peace and harmony

to help protect the environment

to promote coexistence and cooperation

Same goes for secularization, it should help promote:

to have a check on misuse of religion

calls for human rights

world free from discrimination

freedom of religion and expression

the democratic form of governments

Secularization got birth during the Enlightment era in Europe. Its major aim was to help states achieve an industrial revolution and make them economically progressive. They were critical of religion and state working together and termed that religion kept people conservative which is responsible for backwardness both politically and economically. Religion in politics helped only monarchy and kingdom type political system. So secularization got an air and it spread like a wild fire in European continent.

The dilemma the world is facing now a days is the struggles between religious political systems or the secularized political system. Both have their own pros and cons respectively. States should be more rational in using any of the two phenomenon. One should is for sure religion is more dominating in politics than any other determinant.


The branch of science which deals with the study of influence that religion has over politics and vice versa is known as political science of religion or the politicology of religion. Critical issues concerning stem cell, cloning, death penalties and environmental degradation has made politics and religion intertwined in the contemporary world. The question arise can religion and politics together brings peace? Religion can be associated with governmental policies in number of ways; as it legitimize regimes and yields support for social movements. Religion can be regarded as the social political actor. There is a divergence in political decisions with regards to religious axiom which they purport to entreat. Religion is exploited and misused by political hegemons to maintain power. Realists like Thomas Hobbes terms religion as vital for politics while Niccolo Machiavelli argues that religion was the foundation of state and society. Future role of religious leaders is significant due to global neighborhood. Global Civil Society should encourage steps for the rejection and prevention of politicization and wrong application of the religion.

Religious difference has fueled bitter power struggles for political control of the land in the recent past. Arab-Israel, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, Nigeria, Sudan and the 1979 Iranian revolution all were due to the politicization of religion. 2004 French law over the banning of veil for Muslim Women, 2009 Swiss referendum on the outlawing of building minarets of Mosques, 2010 rejection by the US government for Muslim Cultural Centre in Manhattan (Ground Zero Mosque) and no freedom to non-Muslim publications and privilege of practicing their religion in full swing by the Muslim states shows religion is a powerful source in world politics. [xi] With the Arab Spring, Islam has again emerged as the political force around the world.

Religion and politics are the two sides of the same coin. The duo has a direct relationship as religion is used to legitimize the regime and politics is used to safeguard the religion. Both can't be separated from each other, still there is a need to draw a line between the two.


No doubt, apart from religious teachings Islam also gives information about how to run a state through parliament (Shura), make treaties and conduct economic and business affairs. This doesn't mean that Islam is more about politics then religion. The main motive of Islam is to have a fair distribution of wealth, equality, accountability, independent judiciary to have peace and harmony among the masses. Islam is more politicized after the Iranian Revolution in 1979 due to the shift in balance among Middle Eastern States. The concept of political Islam is just to have an Islamic Society based on social order of justice, fair play, and peace. One can get an extract from the MADINA CHARTER about Islam and politics. Islam is a religion of peace and harmony among people. It has following characteristics:

Security of community

Religious freedom

A proper tax system

Judicial system for resolving disputes

It also ensured equal political and cultural rights to the minorities

It was a treaty between 3 religions namely Muslims, Christians and Jews. It was a step towards the formation of a multi religious society for peaceful coexistence. It was signed in 622 Hijra and it resulted in the formation of 1st Islamic State.

The rule of Hazrat Umar (R.A) is the best crux of the concept of Islam as a religion and political system. He introduced the concept of police force to keep a civil order. Public ministry system which held the official records were also introduced by him. The financial institution was established for the welfare of the poor and deprived people. This shows Islam is a religion as well as a political movement. It is more a religion than politics but for the implementation of Islamic laws its use as politics is justified.

The above explanation represents that Islam like any other religion is also political in nature. But the basic aim of Islam is to have a socially integrated and peaceful society. The 21st century is the return of religion from exile. Even in the so called secular states religion tends to play a decisive role in formulating domestic and international policies.

Muslim countries want Islam to have a major influence in politics. Most in Pakistan, Jordan and Egypt believe their laws should strictly follow the Quran. While pluralities in Tunisia and Turkey say their laws should at least adhere to the values and principles of Islam. Shia Muslims (57%) prefer the law to follow the principles of Islam. Egyptian religious political life grew from 47% in 2011 to 66% today.


With the passage of time the implications of religion on world politics has varied. In the contemporary world political system, politics is more governed by religion despite the secularization theory and modernization. In the beginning religion played an extensive role in politics, King and Church was in collaboration. Soon with the Westphalian treaty state was separated from Church due to 30 years of war between Catholic and Protestarian Christians. The end cold war again saw history repeating itself as religion got its due status again in world politics more by controversial issues which can only be dealt with religion.

"Liberty cannot be established without morality, nor morality without faith", Alexis de Tocqueville. This quote shows that to have freedom on must have morality and morality in turn is achieved through certain religious faith. Hence, there is correlation between religion and politics. One see this through one's own perspective so it is debatable whether religion should have a role in politics or not. Keeping it aside we can safely say it's an unhappy marriage between religion and world politics. Both wanted to work independently but there is always some hidden hand.

Religion have an influence on politics as long as religion remains strong in the minds of individuals. When religion gets priority all other activities are viewed through religious glasses and every other thing has a zero sum value. State formation and policy decisions represents that a state is influenced by religion or not. 19th century separation of Holland from Belgium was to a greater extent had religious significance. Creation of Pakistan and Israel was purely based on religious motivation on politics. Malaysia began as a secular state but soon it declared itself as an Islamic Republic. Religion and state are unified in Middle Eastern Countries and they make their laws according to Islamic jurisprudence. US paper currency has an imprint 'In GOD We Trust' signifies the preponderance nature of religion on politics despite states being secular.

It's sad the political gurus use religion as a trump card. It is up to the state how it pursues religion in its states affair. Like US is more a religious country at societal level still religion has no impact on state policies. While in Pakistan the whole constitution revolves around Islamic principles still there is no proper implementation. So in a society like Pakistan religion in politics brings bad consequences like a strife between different communal groups. Either there should be a complete role of religion in politics or it should be kept aside from political activities. With goods, one also have some bad, same is the case of religion in politics. It should also be noted that 1980s recognize religion as an important factor in world politics as it seen Iranian Revolution in 1979 and Ronald Reagan's election victory with the support of religious right

In this chapter the research paper explained the relation among religion and politics and tried to confine the impact of religion in world politics. Politics with the blend of religion has brought some good results still there is need to pay heed to pending issues. Limits should be decided up to where religion can influence politics as one misjudgment can lead to destruction of the world as referred by Samuel Huntington's "Clash of Civilizations". Politics itself is a slippery road and when it is combined with religion it becomes a slippery road with a fog present as well.


If we evaluate the history, we will come to know that the Shia denomination got their separate identity as early as 680 AD. The difference among Muslims aroused soon after the death of Prophet of Islam Hazrat Muhammad (S.A.W.W) over the issue of the caliph. Sunni believes the successor should be through a consensus (ijtima) while Shiite are of the view that Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.W) chose Hazrat Ali (R.A) as the heritor. This is the one side of the picture, the other side is that Shia soon separated themselves and remained politically inactive for centuries to come until 1960s. The only main empire was the Safavid dynasty which followed the Shia believes and had a separate territory.

Islam was not only limited to spiritual realm but it also encircles the political aspect of the society. So is the Shia Islam which was primarily a religious movement latter it encompassed politically. As described in the previous chapters' politics cannot function without the spice of religion and religion cannot be secured without a political authority. Both have the relation of bait and fish; until there is no bait you cannot catch a fish.

Shiites accounts for 20% of the Muslims and they are in majority in Iran 90%, Azerbaijan 80%, Bahrain 75%, Iraq 60%, Yemen 40%, Pakistan 17%, and Saudi Arabia 15%. Although the history didn't see a huge clash among Sunni and Shia religion still the past is full of hostility, tensions and suppression of weaker by the strong.

Shia's are more concerned with politics and they call for a religious government. This assumption will be explained it the next sub-chapter.


Firstly one should be clear of the term religious government. It means to have a type of government which is religious in nature. Majority of the laws, if not all, should be based on religion. According to Shiites religion cannot be set aside from politics. They are of the view that Islamic law should be followed at every cost and for this the there is a need to have a state for its application. So in this way Shia's quest for an independent political territory is justified. Aim of the religious government is to form an Islamic society in which social relationship has got worth. Everybody is responsible for the functioning of the state and all are equal in the eyes of law. According to the Shia school of thought state should be ruled by Islamic clerics under Islamic laws.

Since 1979 Iranian Revolution, Shiites are on the rise continuously politically as well as religiously. But this activism has severe consequences around the world particular in Middle East states. The revolution of 1979 ensured a separate political entity for the Shia branch of Islam. Iran became the Islamic republic and this was the beginning of the shift in politics among Muslims themselves. Since then Iran is supporting Shiite ideological parties in the Persian Gulf, for instance, supporting and funding Hezbollah the anti-Israel party in Lebanon.

In 2004, Noor-ul-Maliki became the Prime Minister of Iraq, he belonged to the oldest Shia Political Party. This showed Shiites awakening in the region, this of course didn't happened over the night. There was the struggle throughout the history by Shiites to have a separate political identity. King Abdullah of Jordan mocked this by titling it as a "Shia Crescent".

In the year 2012 Egypt's Shia announced their intention to form a political party and to contest elections under the party Unity and Freedom. This shows that Shia's political nexus is reaching in all countries even their where they are in minorities. Continuously there is a rise from Shiites minorities for more representation in their respective countries across the Middle East.

Pre-1979 revolution Shia were the non-state version of Islam. There was heightened ethno-political and religious tensions among Sunni-Shiites. Now since Shiites are on the high both religiously and politically there is a shift in balance of power between Iran and Saudi Arabia. History bears witness that Shiites revivalism is more a concern for the Sunni authoritarian regimes in Middle Eastern countries and much less for the West and the US. This resulted in sectarian strife in different parts of the Muslim World for example Pakistan and Afghanistan both being played by the two Oil banked countries struggling to become the hegemon in Middle East.

Hosni Mubarak termed Shia residing outside Iran as the agents of Iran and working for Iran and its political game. Sometimes Shia's struggle is termed as the awakening against Sunni and mocked by title like 'Shia Crescent'. This does not hold any authencity because during the Iraq-Iran war the Shiites of Iraq remained royal to their land rather for Iran.

Iraqi and Bahraini Shiites struggle was violently suppressed in 1991 and 1992-94 respectively. The present scenario is very different and Shiites are more aware and are no longer the 'Forgotten Muslims". The Iraq war will decide the dynamics of politics in Middle East. Iraq is now another political state for Shiites after Iran. The Iraq war is promoting more Shiite political culture than democracy in Middle East. One thing is clear that West is manipulating this scenario and is trying to make conflicts among the Muslim countries. The propaganda's are meant to give air to ethnic and religious differences among Muslims.


In this chapter the research paper will cover up the reasons of political rising of Shiite's both as group and against the Sunni and other sects. This chapter will be divided into 2 subunits. First phase will be concerned with the finding the main cause of Shia's political awareness. Second stage will focus on giving recommendation to minimize the rift between Shia and other communal groups.

Historically ordinary Sunnis and Shias have lived peacefully. Shia recoiled principally to a politically quietist position, as advised by the 6th Shiite Imam Jaffar Sadiq. In the history of Sunni-Shia affinity, there are no parallels to the 30 years' war between Roman Catholicism and Protestantism.1960s reconciliation between two groups resulted in the recognition of Ja'afari as another school of Fiqah in Islam.

Gradual rise in sectarian strife began in early 1970s and intensified following the Iranian revolution and latterly by Afghan war. This had to do with politics and competition for influence and power, notably between a triangular states namely Iran, Iraq and Saudi Arabia. This power game contributed to a sharp rise in sectarian tensions, especially in Pakistan and Afghanistan as both sides tried to use religion as an instrument of policy and both acted as proxies.

Twelve Shia are no longer "Forgotten Muslims". The 3 interwoven developments has enhanced the role of Shia's more in Middle East ; strengthening of Iran's geopolitical position after fall of Taliban and Saddam Hussein. Secondly, increase in Shia awareness, precipitated by the US power in Iraq. Finally, decline of US power in Iraq and Afghanistan.


Following are the few findings which express the causes of uprising of Shi'a community against other sects particularly Sunni.

The socially and economically disadvantaged position of the Shia's in Sunni majority countries- as was the case of Iraq and now Bahrain along with inter-state rivalry.

Shia's sense of alienation due to political and economic backwardness which resulted in their quest for enfranchisement and legitimacy. For instance, Shia revival movement in Lebanon by Ayatollah Musa Sadr, is the best example of Shiite quest for equality and recognition

There is a western strategy to have a divide among Muslims so that they face no retaliation and pursue their goals and objectives in this part of the world easily. Also the US wants to forge an alliance against Iran so it is giving air to sectarian issues.

There are many other reason behind their uprising since 1979. It is well observed that whenever there is a new ideology its prime focus is to expand to ensure its survival. Religions as well as the political system followed the same trend; for instance Christianity and Islam spread throughout the world while the political structure of capitalism and communism also spread different corners of the world. Same is the case with Shia school of thought. If it were only limited to Iran its values and beliefs could have been at stake. Shia denomination and political ideology in no time reached Syria, Bahrain, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq and the state having critical view of this branch Saudi Arabia as well. It is growing and extensively followed.


Some salient proposal for peace among different sects of Islam and other religions are expressed as:

Prosperity, democracy and sustained efforts at interfaith dialogue and reconciliation can help overcome differences.

Governments should respect the rights of citizens irrespective of their religious beliefs and there should be freedom of carry out one's belief without any discrimination.

Countries should not use religion as an instrument of security and foreign policy. States focus should be on practical ways of resolving conflicts and promotion of peaceful relations.

Great Powers should not play a power game of sectarian divisions in the pursuit of their interests. History bears witness, every short term gain is latterly accompanied by long term trouble and loss.

If these along with other assumptions are followed in full letter and spirit then the world can have a prosperous and peaceful future. There is a need to promote the concept of global cooperation and interrelation among the masses. One has a right to rise up and protect its beliefs and values but not at the expense of harming others. Every religion on earth promotes morality and ethics so we all should device such a political system which gives priority to moral concepts.


This chapter will make the readers aware about Persia Empire journey towards Iran and latterly Islamic Republic. It has been about 3P's Power, Privilege and Prestige than about Religion. Presently 98% of Iran is Islam; 89% being Shia and 8% Sunni. Almost all Iranian Shia's are twelver.

Persian Empire was conquered under the rule of Hazrat Umar (R.A) the 2nd Caliph of Islam from 637-651 AD. Although Islam didn't spread that fast. In 11th century Islam got its root deep in Persian civilization. Safavid dynasty emerged and made Shia Islam the state religion. Bernard Lewis said, "Iran was indeed Islamized, but it wasn't arabized. Persians remained Persians". [xii] The Islamization of Iran saw the blossoming of philosophy, medicine, art, science and technology. This period is known as the Islamic Golden Age. [xiii] Ibn Khaldun a sociologist of Medieval Islam observes, 'most Muslim scholars in intellectual sciences were non Arabs and of Persian descent', for example Imam Ghazali, Imam Bokhari, Shaikh Sadiq, Al-Razi, Al-Farabi. [xiv] 


The Iranian revolution transformed Iran from the monarch to an Islamic Republic. This made Islamic fundamentalism a political force…….from Morocco to Malaysia as observed by Vali Nasr. [xv] There were many reasons behind this revolution one being the search for a religious-political identity. This wasn't digestible by Sunni Monarch which were ruling the Middle Eastern Continent as it altered the power gaining structure. Iran has been regarded as a threat not only by West but also the Muslim states like Saudi Arabia being it's one of the archest rival. Shia have been always treated as minority outside Iran. This suppression has led the recent Shia activism culturally, politically, economically and religiously.

Iran as a state is in close contact with the Shia's of other countries. From Lebanon to Pakistan Shiite are 80% in the in-between territory. This obviously is alarming and Iran has the key to oil supply with the territory Of Hormuz. Iran is well aware of the fact that the sudden change in balance of power can bring some serious repercussions for it as well. There is no such pan-Shia's movement in the Middle East as it is propagated by so called rights snatching government of Middle Eastern States.

Since 1979 Iran is a kind of isolated which was even more pushed towards a wall due to its nuclear issue in 2003. Iran has a political structure but the final decision is of the Ayatollah which is the supreme leader. This clearly shows that religion plays a vital role in the politics of Iran.


Traditionally, Iranians have much concern over the foreign intervention in their country, pointing to such events as: the Russian occupation of northern parts of the country, the tobacco concession, the British and Russian military control over Iran in ww1 and ww2, and the CIA operation to overthrow Prime Minister Mohammed Mosadiq.

Following the 1979 Iranian Revolution, the newly-born Islamic Republic, reversed the pro-Western foreign policy of the Shah of Iran, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, under the leadership of Ayatollah Khomeini. Since then the country's policies have hovered between the two opposing tendencies of revolutionary ardor, which would avoid Western and non-Muslim influences while promoting the Islamic revolution abroad, which would advance economic development and normalization of relations.


Iran and Saudi Arabia developed their diplomatic relations in 1928. In 1966, king Faisal of Saudi Arabia visited Iran for harmonizing the relations in order to have peace of the region as a result of that visit shah of Iran Reza Shah Pahlavi also paid visit to Saudi Arabia. There had been the friendly relations between the two from 1968 to 1979. In 1968 when Great Britain vacated the Persian Gulf then both Iran and Saudi Arabia collectively took the responsibility of the security and peace of the region. After the Iranian Revolution in 1979, Khomeini and other Iranian leaders openly attacked and criticized the character and religious legitimacy of the Saudi regime. From then onwards both have Islamic aspiration still different vision of regional order and religious values. In a 1987 public address Khomeini declared that "these vile and ungodly Wahhabis, are like daggers which have always pierced the heart of the Muslims from the back," and announced that Mecca was in the hands of "a band of heretics." [xvi] 

Due to the Islamic revolution of 1979 and the emergence of Shiite regime in the Iran the tension between Iran and Saudi Arabia started and both tried to cut down the influence of each other and to take power and influence not only in the middle east but also to the whole Muslim world. The differences between the two sects Sunni and Shiite continued to increase and now these differences are at peak and perceived as hindrance to the peace of the Middle East. Both countries have now different outlook and perception about each other. Iran since revolution is pursuing anti-US policy and sees Saudi Arabia as agent of the US in the region while Saudi Arabia's concerns about Iran on the other side are mainly due to its plans of expanding influence to other parts of the Persian Gulf region, notably in post-Saddam Iraq, and the call to build its own nuclear armory.

Saudi Arabia and Iran are the two religiously influenced states in the region. Both the countries have been into the cold war for a long time to gain relative supremacy over each other. Since both have the common Islamic history but divided into the linguistic, ethnic and importantly on sectarian differences. Saudi Arab shows a lot of concerns about the Iran's nuclear program and tried to threaten Iran to roll back her nuclear program sometimes unilaterally and sometimes with the cooperation of the western countries. King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia has been permanently preaching United States of America to attack and destroy the nuclear arsenals of the Iran in order to cut the head of the snake and to bring and maintain the peace and stability of the Middle Eastern region. [xvii] 


During the Pahlavi dynasty Iran and Israel had close ties but after the Iranian Islamic revolution in 1979 the relations shifted the other way and converted into hostility between the two under the hardcore religious ideology.

After the birth of Israel, Iran was the second Muslim majority country to recognize the Israel as sovereign state after Turkey. Since Iranian revolution of 1979, Khomeini declared Israel an "enemy of Islam" and 'The Little Satan' [xviii] - the United States was called 'The Great Satan'. Under Khomeini Iran broke all official relations with Israel and adopted the knifelike anti-Zionist stance. Iran declared Israeli government as "Zionist regime" and Iran referred that land as "occupied territories". Due to recent hot air between Iran and Israel, development of nuclear technology, and funding of the groups (Hamas and Hezbollah), tensions have risen between the Israel and the Iran especially after the election of the hard line Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in 2005.


The Iraq and the Islamic Republic of Iran share a long border and a religious heritage and ancient cultural. In the wake of the Islamic Iranian revolution 1979, Saddam Hussein launched an encroachment of Iran over border disputes and intended to acquire control of oil-rich areas in Iran. The conflict lived for eight years and under the resolution of UN in July 1987 which demanded the unconditional ceasefire, both the countries accepted the resolution and ended up the war in dead lock in August 1988. Chemical weapons were used in the war and it also involved the ethnic violence against the Iraqi Shiites who were accused of assisting Irani Shias.

The US led operation over Iraq in 2003 and the fall of Saddam Hussein's regime led to the regularization of the relations between the two countries. Since 2003, the two countries have signed over 100 economic and cooperation agreements; Shia Muslims from Iran are allowed by Iraq to make pilgrimage to holy Shia sites in Iraq. Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad paid a visit to Iraq in March 2008 and became the first Iranian president to visit Iraq since Iranian revolution 1979. Iraqi Prime Minister (Noor-al-Maliki) also paid several visits to Iran.


Bahrain is a Sunni monarchic state and has been pursuing the policy of having good relations with the outside actors as for her stability and security. But it sees Iran's nuclear program with a lot of suspicion and perceived Iran as pursing the hegemonic and sectarian policies as for that reason Iran is looking for the nuclear weapons.

The relations between the United Arab Emirates and Iran have been very complex and contradictory since the Islamic revolution of Iran. On one side UAE sees Iran as hegemonic power and on the other hand, it sees Iran as trade partner. As Iran is highly ideologically driven, UAE strongly controverts the nuclear ambition of Iran and is likely to seek the help of the gulf cooperation council for her security.

Iran's relations with Kuwait has been governed more by the threat of Iraq as faced by Kuwait in 1980-90s. Many strategists in Kuwait city does not see Tehran as threat to their sovereignty. During that era, Kuwait supported the Shiites not only in Iran but also the pro-Iranian Iraqi-Shiites to subvert Saddam's regime. When it comes to nuclear question, Kuwait shows no hard concern about the Iran's nuclear program and overlooks the hegemonic intentions of Iran. Kuwait has not publicly accused Iran of supporting Kuwait's Shiites, which are about 30% of the total population, to ensure maximum support for Iran.

History tells us that Iran and Egypt have been cutthroat rivals, and tried to undermine each other to gain influence. During the cold war time, Iran was the ally of United States while Egypt was Soviet Union's partner. Difference of attitude led to hostile attitude of these countries against each other. Currently, Egypt is concerned about Iran's support for Palestinian militants, particularly Hamas, Iran's influence in Iraq, and Iran's nuclear program. Egypt is the signatory of the NPT and has called for the "nuclear free zones" in the Middle East. So it strongly opposes the Iranian nuclear program and so the Israel's nuclear arsenals.


There has been the number of ideological clashes among the countries in the Middle East which not only causes instability and muddiness in the Middle East, but also the root cause of the mistrust and hostility among the nations in the region. Countries differ in their ideology and have different meaning for the religious values which leads to disrespect for each other.

Iran has ideological hostility towards the Jewish state Israel as Iran rejected her occupation of Palestine and other holy places of Muslims and is allegedly funding or arranging Hezbollah, Islamic jihad and Hamas organizations. In august 2012, Hezbollah Member of Parliament (Lebanon) Wallid Sakariya said that Iran's nuclear program was designed to "create a balance of terror with Israel" and "finish off the Zionist enterprise

The major shift occurred in the Iranian thinking after the Islamic revolution of 1979, this revolution entirely change the Iranian decision making and paved the way of the ideology clashes not only with the Jewish state, but also with Arab world as they are Sunnis by sect and Iran after revolution has the Shiite's ideology.

The relationship between the Iran and Saudi Arabia has been pretty much uncertain due to the difference in religious perception. Majority population in Saudi Arabia is Sunnis, while in Iran majority population is Shiites. Leaders of both the states see each other as having incorrect religious beliefs, and so always remain hanker to demolish each other religious values. Based on ideological difference Saudi Arabia contemplate Iran's nuclear program with great security threat to her existence. According to le Figaro, on June 5, 2010, king Abdullah of Saudi Arabia told hervé Morin, the Defence Minister of France that: "there are two countries in the world that do not deserve to exist: Iran and Israel.'

We have witnessed the ideology driven wars between the secular Jewish state Israel and the Islamic Arab world in 1948, 1956, 1967, 1973.These wars can be better analyzed from the ideological spectacle where Arabs acted aggressively against the Jewish and had inimical approach toward the existence of Israel, and also the Israeli aggression was also based on their ideology and religious creed.

The Iran Iraq war 1980-1988 can be analysed as Sunni - Shiites conflict as for the better understanding of the sharp ideological clashes in the Middle Eastern countries. Saudi Arabia's role during the war was highly important as she assisted Iraq and provide support to Iraq regime led by Saddam Hussein while considering Iran's structural and ideological change of 1979 as more threatening than the dictatorship of Saddam Hussein.

Later due to the hajj incident of 1987, about 400 pilgrims died in the clashes and 2/3rd of them were Iranian nationals. This incident provoke the Iranian public to thwart the Sunnis in the Iran. The angry mob in the Tehran attacked the Saudi officials and beat him to death.so, Saudi Arabia in 1988, cut its diplomatic relations with Iran and as a result no Iranian could obtain a Saudi travel visa for performing the hajj

When Iran does get the nuclear bomb that would create the balance of terror in the Middle East instead of maintain the balance of power. Middle Eastern countries whether Israel or the Arab countries, the Sunnis, both have equally feared from the nuclear Iran because of her overzealous ideological based outlook.


As Iran's foreign policy is highly based on its Shiite's ideology, so when it does get the nuclear weapons it would be the potential threat to the Israel, and the US because Iranian officials and her leaders has been publically challenging the American and Israeli existence and showing their intentions of attacking both of these states by arguing that these two states are threats for the Muslims. Thus, the need of the hour is that all players involved in this issue proceed with caution because the devastation of one side would inevitably lead to the devastation of the other with neither side benefitting as a result. The chapter predicted that relations in Middle East is more governed on religious basis whose ultimate goal is to have supremacy over on another's sect.


Undoubtedly religion has misused in the politics to a greater extent. Still there is no way out because without the use of religion in politics one cannot bring either a revolution or have a soft image in the world. The flawed secularization theory is a blessing in disguise for the political leaders to use religion to accomplish their interests.

Wars are waged in the name of religion to legitimize it as was the case of Afghanistan. Similarly was the case of Indo-Pak and Arab-Israel wars. Becoming a proxy state in a global or regional designed power games is like inviting the hell.

Pakistan is one of the finest example in this regard. Pakistan became a proxy in US-USSR cold war. It got nothing, during the hard times US left Pakistan. It made us socially, politically and economically disintegrated. History repeated itself and Pakistan is again a proxy in Middle Eastern rivalry of '2 oiled states'. It gave a rise in sectarian killings, intolerance, and religious illiteracy. No one knows who is fighting whom, the only result is the bloodshed. The policies should be reviewed and there should be no bashing of religion for the sake of political gains.


The conclusion is based on the hypothesis that 3P's govern religion that is power, politics and prestige. This assumption is based on evaluating different historical perspective relating to the political activism of Shiites. As compared to other religions in the world Shiites are more on the rise as the modern time is more about strengthening one's culture then economy and then all the way to military to accomplish one's desired objectives. This shows religion is like a flower beneath a thorn of politics presented to your enemy wrapped in a gift to eliminate it and become a hegemon.

Religion was used by the Safavid Dynasty to legitimize itself and same continues today. Iranian Revolution was founded on the basis of religious movement. The present Shiites politics on varying issues like nuclear, Palestine-Israel, Lebanon-Israel, Syria, and Iraq is more about gaining power in the region, enjoying the privileged status among different sects of Islam through politics and prestige, getting respect and admiration resulting from achievements.

Saudi Arabia sees Iran as a threat to Sunni religion and political structure. Similarly Iran use the monopoly of religion by gathering Shiites under the one umbrella 'Iran' in Middle East to become regional power. West manipulates the propaganda to create a strife among Muslim factions to enjoy its powerful hegemonic status in the world. So all in all everyone is pursuing its own interest and goals some in the name of religion and some under the shadow of secularism.

One of the most robust ideas about societal development after WW2 was that nations would inexorably secularize as they modernized. But religion was, is and will continue to be an important factor in politics around the world. The researcher would like to conclude with a Quranic saying "waja'alnakumshu'uban waqaba'ilanli'ta'arifu" 'And I have created people and tribes so that they could get to know each other' (Surah al-Hujurat 49:13).There should neither be Westoxification, Eastoxification nor Islam phobia.

The finding of the research is that in the contemporary times there is more influence of religion in state affairs in order to enjoy political supremacy along with power and prestige over the adversary. Religion helps mobilize masses support and it is a soft power to show the world that the regime governed through religious doctrine is legitimized and it has popularity in the people.

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