Politics of Piety: The Basij and Moral Control of Iranian Society

Saeid Golkar*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


This article aims to analyze the role of the Basij militia in asserting moral control over Iranian society, with a particular focus on the Basij's elevated stature following the end of the Iran–Iraq war. The article examines how and why the Basij became involved in enforcing the principle of Amr be Maruf va Nahy az Monkar (commanding the right and forbidding the wrong), a critical component of the Iranian regime's strategy to create a “pious society” and enforce moral behavior. Of the few publications on morality control within Iran, none consider the paramount contributions of the Basij. Given the Basij's ongoing expansion and its influence in Iranian society, however, further study of this force's functions is vital to understanding Iran's internal security and control mechanisms. This article seeks to shed greater light on the Basij militia and its role in morality control in postrevolutionary Iran.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)207-219
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of the Middle East and Africa
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 1 2011


  • Amr be Maruf va Nahy az Monkar
  • Basij militia
  • Iran
  • Moral control
  • Social control

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • History
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Political Science and International Relations

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