This book examines the relationship between Iranian nationalism and Islam, especially Shi'ism as the country's adopted official religion by the founder of the Safavid Dynasty in 1501 A.D. Although the study covers fourteen centuries of Iranian history, the greatest emphasis is placed on the last two where secular Western reformist ideas overlap with progressive religious thinking. The study covers selected periods in fourteen centuries of Iranian history including the efforts by the Pahlavis to establish a national identity for Iranians based on the ancient imperial history of Iran and by negating the country's Islamic connection. The research takes a fresh look at the basic principles as well as the style of governance by Mossadeq, his secular nationalism, his strong belief in democratic ideals, his temporary alliance with religious elements, and ultimate failure of his efforts. The work follows the paths of development of ideas and movements, secular and religious, leading to the Islamic revolution and the rise of Khomeini as the undisputed leader of the movement.
It also covers the development of the concept of Islamic government, its historical and religious precedents, its structure, and the institutional apparatus that keeps the system together.