The term Westoxification is derived from the Persian term “Gharbzadegi” refers to the complete imbibing of western culture while eroding the traditional Iranian cultural practices. Western culture permeating all walks of life including arts, culture and education and turning Iran into a ready market for western goods and services was termed as Westoxification. The term came to be first used towards the end of the 20th century to refer to the way western ideology was viewed by the Islam religion. The only redeeming factor was that the Iranian religion of Shia Islam was left untouched by westoxification. Some nations view Westoxification as a threat to their culture and adopt a war like stance to ward off western influences.
The term Westoxification finds its origins in Iran from the Farsi term Gharbzadegi. It refers to the phenomenon of non- western societies relying heavily on the west for cultural, military or financial reasons. Jalal Al-e-Ahmad, a well-known Iranian thinker and writer is credited for creating the term Gharbzadegi in his book Occidentosis: A Palgue from the West. The term when translated in English means westernstruck, occidentosis or westoxification.
According to Jalal Al-e-Ahmad, western technology and civilization was responsible for the decline of Iranian industries involved in traditional crafts such as carpet-weaving. The same view was echoed by Ayatollah Khomeini in 1971, who felt that western imperialism and westoxification, penetrating throughout the Muslim world was posing a threat to the culture of Islam. In fact this became an important ideology of the Iranian Revolution of 1979 which sought freedom from the western influence in all areas of life.
According to Al-e- Ahmad, Iran was struck by the disease of westoxification in the twentieth century. He urged Iran to become a producer and control machines rather than turning into a passive consumer. He felt that machines should not become an end by themselves and the Iranians should not be trapped by the machines but should use them as means for better development. He was of the view that western machines were responsible for the decline of the country’s traditional handicrafts making it a consumerist market driven by western technology. He went to the extent of saying that soon the Iranian villages and cities would be transformed into a junkyard of American machines.
Bilateral relations between certain Islamic nations and the US seem to be greatly affected by the phenomenon of westoxification. It may be difficult for the westerners to understand why people wouldn’t want democracy, equal rights, liberalism and other such freedom that would come with adopting western practices. But the truth is that Islamic nations value their tradition and religion and any coercion to deviate from such practices would lead to strained diplomatic relations with other nations. Any imperialist stand taken by the US in their relations with the Islamic nations would only compound the fear of westoxification in those nations leading to terrorist activities and resentment for the US