When Middle Eastern students were sent to study medicine in Europe, one of the unexpected outcomes was the introduction to Iran of the fashionable occult movements that flourished in the West amid the decline of traditional Christianity. Using the scientific language of laboratory-like seances, Iran’s occult impresarios presented their methods as a modernized route to reliable religious knowledge. As Muslim clerics responded in similar terms, even Ayatollah Khomeini drew on occult ideas in his early writings. Following this imported ‘metafizik’ as it gave shape to new expressions of Iranian spirituality, in this podcast we’ll explore how many Iranian citizens have circumvented the official religiosity of the Islamic Republic. Nile Green talks to Alireza Doostdar, the author of The Iranian Metaphysicals: Explorations in Science, Islam, and the Uncanny (Princeton University Press, 2018).

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