How does "Islamic revolution" resemble other waves of revolution (Communist peasant rebellions in the 20th century, national revolutions in Europe in the 19th century, democratic revolutions in the 18th and 19th century)? How does it not? What accounts for the differences? 

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The term "Islamic Revolution" has been used to describe various phenomena of recent times, including the Palestinian intifada, the overthrow of the Shah in Iran, the Taliban, the Arab Spring, al-Qaeda, and ISIS. It's inaccurate to lump all of these movements together. There is also debate about how much any of these tendencies are a specifically Arab happening as opposed to one encompassing Muslim people in general (or in the case of Iran, another specific national group). A common element, however, would appear to be a desire to recover or reestablish the perceived or actual greatness of the people engaging in revolutionary activity. This is our key to a likening of it to the other revolutions named in your question.

Much of nineteenth-century European nationalism was, in fact, grounded in a sense of loss and betrayal, and a wish to recapture a purported past national glory. It was, especially, the Germans, Italians, and several of the Slavic peoples who felt this way. It is not a coincidence that these ethnic groups began the nineteenth century without having unified nation-states of their own. The Germans, in particular, had felt humiliated by Napoleon's having made client states of them, as well as the ongoing frustration of seeing their individual principalities being governed by petty, reactionary leaders who had kept themselves insulated from the liberalism dominating the mindset of intellectuals since the Enlightenment. The unification of Germany in 1871 did not defuse the feeling of resentment Germans held toward foreigners, and the resulting Great War of 1914-1918, and the settlement after it, intensified both German anger and nationalism. The latter in the interwar period developed into a genocidal hatred of the Jews, and a desire for expansion and the subjugation of other peoples to the east (the Slavs) whom the Germans considered inferior.

The breakup of the multiethnic, Islamic Ottoman Empire after World War I resulted in a somewhat analogous situation in the Middle East. The Arab peoples, now no longer connected to an empire dominated by the Ottoman Turks, wished to create their own vast nation-state that would unite the Arab people and reinstate their past greatness. But like pre-unification Germany, the Arabs, in their case partly as a result of European control, were unable to create a single country. The European mandate system first made quasi-colonies out of Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Jordan, and other territories. When independence was granted these countries still felt themselves dominated and controlled by Britain and France. Added to this were new global cultural influences that weakened the absolute authority of Islam. The result was that activists and ideologues in the Arab and broader Islamic world developed the intention of expelling Western influence entirely from the Middle East and North Africa, and of attacking the West itself. The latter was focused, and spectacularly so on 9/11, upon what was regarded as a symbol of Western economic power, the World Trade Center. Thus the movement had an anti-capitalist dimension as well. Ethnocentrism, religion (though in what many have contended is an extremist form that does not stand for true Islam), resentment of foreign control and of despotic leaders at home such as Mubarak and Assad, and a form of socialism have all thus been components of what has been somewhat simplistically labeled the Islamic Revolution.

Of course, the analogy with nineteenth-century Germany can only be taken so far. Religion, for instance, played little role in the German unification movement. And while Germany was at first largely successful in unifying (and then re-unifying when the Communists were expelled in 1990) the initial intention of the Arab peoples to develop a single nation-state in the aftermath of the Ottoman breakup in 1918 has not been sustained and does not appear to be a major part of their thinking today. The other, more important thing is that the violent revolutionary goals of al-Qaeda and later, ISIS, have not been embraced by the Arab or Islamic peoples as a whole. They represent fringe movements which most people in the Middle East see as a danger to them (shown in the massive destruction in Syria carried out by these terror groups) as well as the Western powers the terrorists wish to defeat.

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The Islamic Revolution of 1978–1979 was a turning point in the history of modern Iran, and its repercussions are still felt forty years later. Although it had some similarities with other national revolutions, it was different in many respects.

First of all, the Islamic revolution overthrew a government that had been established by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) of the United States. In 1953, the CIA was responsible for the overthrow of the government of Mohammad Mosaddeq. Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi (1919–1980), a pro-western ruler, was put on the throne of Iran. The Shah of Iran did not enjoy wide popular support and his government was dictatorial. The fact that the U.S. had installed the Shah and continued to support him led to intense anti-American sentiment in Iran. The enmity between America and Iran has continued for forty years.

In addition, the Islamic Revolution established a religious state. Most other national revolutions in modern history were secular in nature. Mustafa Kemal Paṣa, the creator of modern Turkey, founded a secular state after World War I. Vladimir Lenin, Mao Zedong, and Ho Chi Minh established Communist states in the twentieth century after winning their revolutionary struggles. On the other hand, the regime that emerged in Afghanistan after the Soviet occupation of that country was Muslim.

The Islamic Revolution presaged events in other Middle Eastern countries. Specifically, the overthrow of secular dictators in Egypt and Iraq fueled religious factions in those countries. In modern times, Muslim factions have often been the most potent forces in their nations during periods of political upheaval.

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I would argue that Islamic revolution is fairly similar in important ways to the other types of revolution that you mention in this question.  There are, however, some important differences.

The major similarity is that all of these are revolutions that have been interested in changing their societies in profound ways.  This is something that is common to all true revolutions.  The revolutions begin with the idea that there is something that is fundamentally unjust about the society as it is.  They then try to do away with that injustice.

Another major similarity is that all of these revolutions were popular revolutions that were controlled (or at least led) by elites.  In the communist revolutions, for example, there were “vanguard parties” that organized and focused the revolutionary energy of the common people.  Similarly, in Iran there was Ayatollah Khomeini who acted as the leader of the masses of common people who were unhappy with the Shah’s rule.

Thus, we have revolutions that were similar in fundamental ways.  They all were driven by deep dissatisfaction with the status quo.  They were all made up of masses of common people who were led by elites. 

At the same time, however, there are differences between these sorts of revolution.  The major difference is in how inclusive the revolutions have been.  Some of the revolutions have been very inclusive.  A national revolution will welcome anyone who is of the correct nationality.  A democratic revolution will welcome anyone who is willing to accept the ideas of democracy.  These revolutions do not necessarily exclude anyone.  By contrast, revolutions like the Islamic revolutions and the communist revolutions are more exclusionary.  Communists will never accept members of the capitalist class and will often act very violently towards them.  Islamic revolutions have tended to be very intolerant of other religions or even of other interpretations of Islam.  These differences come about because of the nature of the ideologies that drive the revolutions.

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