Religion a Social Practice, Bound to Time and Place

Religion is seen interrelated with social formations and linked to time and place (McCutcheon, 2001 and 2003).96 Religion is also mentioned as an outcome of social interaction and constructed meanings. It is related to the opinions that are formed in social processes, within their cultural, historical, and social context, and also a social way of thinking, social relationships, and social identity. In other words, religion can be called the agreement on meaning structures, a consensus, at certain time and place. The scientific approaches allow the study of religion and indicate developments. This is where, as Marie von der Lippe (2010)97 writes in her study of the youth and religion, the concept of religion is observed as it can be related to different constructions of meaning and not a given phenomenon with a fix essence (Beckford, 2003).98

The questions on what residents of Iran thought of religion in the past, which values meant to them in their choices of ideas and how they performed their choices through time requires inquiring into the past, the history of the place. Farhang Rajaee, in his book on the Problematique of Contemporary Iranian Identity, asserts that Iranians have always been monotheist, closely engaged with religion and made attempts to have the presence of God in their lives (p. 105). Massey (2005, p. 29 and 30)99 notes that “[l]ife is spatial as well as temporal . . . space is an order imposed upon the inherent life of the real. (Spatial) order obliterates (temporal) dislocation. Spatial immobility quietens temporal becoming. It is, though, the most dismal of pyrrhic victories. For in the very moment of its conquering triumph ‘space’ is reduced to stasis. The very life, and certainly the politics, are taken out of it.”

The history of religion in Iran is one more piece of the story that the young individuals can relate to as a part of their Iranian identity. Massey notes, “Space conquers time by being set up as the representation of history/life/the real world” (2005, p. 30). Some beliefs, traditions, and ideas that appeared in the realm of religion in Iran survived from the ancient written history until the present time. As the time passes, the ideas, which may initially be religious, evolve; some of them adopt cultural patterns and survive even stronger. As we observe in other societies, every culture has its own baggage with features specific to that culture and religious attributes. There are pieces of the past that travel through time and exist everywhere in our time; the words—the language we use, the ideas we use to make new ideas and the values based on which we form our will and action, they all come from the past. Meanwhile, the globalization process has been addressed as the causes of other processes and changes in the societies. Rajaee (2004) asserts that the globalization not only affects the material life but also it leaves an impact on some aspects of the spiritual life. Knowing more about other cultures and traditions is facilitated by the communication technologies today. Having information, on how other people around the world relate to and practice their religions, is a matter that engages the individual in reflection toward self and others. This reflection, on behalf of the individual, is a step in building spaces in the immediate local and also global environment.

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