The country of Iran unveils the heart of the Persian empire and the wealth of Iran culture.
It has played a significant role in history as a powerful empire located in a strategic position with its rich natural resources, particularly oil, which is a priceless treasure in the face of the current global economic competition.
With its remarkable history, the country stands out in the region as an ancient imperial power with remarkable Iranian culture and traditions. Truly, you will be inspired by the glory of the Persian culture enfolded in its history.
Geographically, Iran is bounded by Azerbaijan, Armenia, Turkmenistan, and the Caspian Sea on the north, Pakistan and Afghanistan on the east, the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman on the south, and Turkey and Iraq on the west.
Thus, traveling, ShiaDuring to Iran can lead you to another milestone where ancient Iran culture and traditions combined with the country’s celebrated history attract many visitors.
The Rise of a Magnificently Impressive Iranian Culture
The rich culture of Iran began in the Achaemenian period in 550 BCE, founded by King Cyrus the Great. It was noted to be the first authentic superpower. Historians agree that the Iranian culture is one of the oldest in the world and has strongly affected other nations like Italy, Macedonia, Greece, and even some parts of Asia.
Traditionally known as Persia, an empire that survived foreign invaders and immigrants, the country was later ruled by the Seleucids, Parthians, and Sasanian Empires that reigned over Persia for almost 1,000 years.
Consequently, they brought the country into the international limelight by making it a leading power in the world, both militarily and economically. Due to its power, the whole nation later became the archrival of two great empires in the ancient world: the Roman and the Byzantine empires.
As a result, Iranian culture has also been influenced by the Macedonians, Arabs, Turks, and the Mongols. Over the years, the Iranians have built their genuine identity, creating a magnificently impressive political, economic, and cultural heritage with a deep influence from the Muslim Arabs in the seventh century.
You might ask about life in Persia during the Renaissance. Interestingly, the Persian culture was reawakened during the Renaissance in the eighth century. It was a period when the Iranian Renaissance emerged out of the language spoken in the northeastern region, sealing the use of the Persian vernacular in courts and at homes.
Later on, the national language was officially changed to Arabic when Persian Islamic dynasties were born through the influence of the Tahirids. Deemed as an expressive and flexible mother tongue, Arabic was largely present in its poetry and prose.
Iran Culture and Religion in Retrospect
With the birth of Persian-based Shia clergy, the Iran religion, culture, and traditions have been influenced by the Shias since the earliest days of Islam. Based on records, there was one Shia dynasty in Iran during the 10th century, which spearheaded Islam until the 17th century.
Hence, the Safavid dynasty declared Shia Islam as the official religion of the country, leading the people to embrace the Shia faith. Turning the people’s beliefs toward the Islamic faith took a long and tedious process.
Religious practices had to harmonize with the existing Iran customs. Consequently, Islam was gradually embraced by the majority of the people. As Persian Muslims strengthened their rule of the country, Muslim believers also rose from approximately 40 percent to close to 100 percent by the end of the 11th century.
Traditions in Iran show that Shia Muslims adhere to the seven pillars of faith, which explain the corresponding acts necessary to demonstrate such faith. Shared with Sunni Muslims, the people of Iran embraced the confession of faith (shahada) or ritualized prayer (namaz), almsgiving (zakat), and fasting and contemplation (sawn) during daylight hours during the lunar month of Ramadan and a pilgrimage (hajj) to the holy cities of Mecca and Medina once in a lifetime if they are financially capable to travel.
It is a huge part of Iranian heritage to perform good works and resist all evil thoughts, words, and deeds. The majority of the people practice Islam, which generally affects their personal, economic, political, and social lives. They believe in one God, the ultimate divine power directing the lives of the people. They also follow Prophet Muhammad as the last of a line of prophets preceded by Abraham, Moses, and Jesus.
According to well-founded beliefs and Iran customs, Muhammad was chosen by God to deliver his message to mankind. Interestingly, the people believe in the resurrection of the body and soul on judgment day, and they claim that justice will be served to reward the faithful while the sinners will be punished.
Religious culture in Iran reveals a coping method used by the people to search for meaning. You can easily see the people’s connection to any religion or religious practice in their daily life. Suffice it to say that Iran customs and traditions agree with the people’s notion and practice of faith. They live by faith, and all of their hopes lie in their belief in a better and more prosperous future.
Alongside the development of the Islamic faith was Iran’s recognition of other religions, such as Zoroastrian, Jewish, and other Christian religious minorities. Although Iran is an Islamic republic, both officially and in practice, Iranians respect the continuous presence of their non-Muslim communities.
The Development of Modern Iran
Much has been written about the culture of Iran, particularly concerning its long history under various empires.
Historians acknowledge that this nation had suffered long and hard under fierce empires during the late Middle Ages and at the beginning of the modern period. The Persian culture was marred by the invasions of nomadic tribes, bringing along with them a negative impact on its history.
– The Safavid Dynasty
The Safavid dynasty was able to establish Iran as an independent state in 1501. It was also during this period when Shia Islam was recognized as the nation’s official religion, which sealed the nation’s reputation in the Muslim world. It was considered one of the most remarkable dynasties of Persia or modern Iran because it marked what is known as the beginning of modern Persian history.
The Safavid ruling dynasty was part of the gunpowder empire, along with its neighboring countries. It was founded by Ismāil or Shāh Ismāil I, who enthroned himself as the Shāh of Iran. Later on, he positioned Iran as a leading world power where the country has learned to strengthen its Iranian heritage, thereby marking the beginning of the Islamic Republic of Iran.
– The Pahlavi Dynasty
The Imperial State of Iran was a sovereign state from 1925 to 1979 when it was ruled by the Pahlavi dynasty, the last ruling house of Iran. The Pahlavis came into power when the Persian monarchy was overthrown after the Iranian Revolution. It was founded by Reza Shah Pahlavi, a former brigadier-general of the Persian Cossack Brigade. His leadership was succeeded by his son, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, the last Shah of Iran.
Following the coup d’état in 1953 supported by the United Kingdom and the United States, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi’s leadership became more autocratic and leaning toward the Western Bloc during the Cold War.
However, he declared a series of economic and social reforms that produced a growing public discontent as stirred by a cleric named Ruhollah Khomeini. Mohammad Reza Pahlavi was then sent into exile with his family. It eventually ended the state and paved the way to the birth of a modern state called the Islamic Republic of Iran on February 11, 1979.
You might want to know what happened after that. It was followed by changes in public courts, leading to improvements in the status of women. For example, the tradition in Iran where women had to wear a veil was banned. Also, the minimum age for marriage was raised, and strict divorce laws were made fair.
These reforms looked sophisticated for a young state, but the government’s efforts to modernize the country only led to nationwide unrest and dissatisfaction with their rule. The people’s support declined even though the intent was for rapid industrialization and military modernization. The people did not support reforms; hence, the Islamic Republic of Iran failed to uplift the living conditions of citizens.
Behind Modern Iran
The first steps in the modernization of Iran focused primarily on reinforcing the army through state-of-the-art training and acquisition of equipment with the assistance of foreign counterparts.
In addition, the printing press was introduced to help in the widespread use of information propagation, particularly in the areas of education and culture. Government leaders have always wanted to improve the administration system through the efficient spread of information, so they made efforts to simplify the written language.
To facilitate rapid modernization, programs were carefully designed for the sake of the country’s modern image. To do this, the government sent young men to European universities. These young men then returned to Iran and spearheaded reforms in science by applying the new scientific and technical skills they learned overseas.
– The Role of Writers in Modern Iran
Iranians strengthened their knowledge of Western languages and literature. Iranian playwrights like Mirza Ja’far Qarachaʿdaghi introduced genres unknown to classical literature. As expected, they were able to stir the mind of the intellectuals for political reforms through their criticisms of the country’s political scenario.
Modern poets have also severed their ties with the ancient traditions and culture in Iran to be independent and contribute to the modernization of Persian literature.
Young writers sought more contemporary forms of poetic expression with boldness and passion. Some poets suffered imprisonment and exile, but it didn’t hinder them from expressing their political opinions.
Women were given more opportunities to participate in modern literature. They were full of passion and determination to recount the limitations and the truth about their plight in a former empire that turned into a new state. Also, they were brave enough to share how they overcame the discrimination set upon them by predominantly Islamic society.
Modern writers took their liberty to write about the real situation in the country. They may have experienced threats and censorship, but their courage was bigger than their fear. Modern Iran is no longer quiet, and its people can find ways to express whatever they think is right and noble.
Family Relationships and Marriage
Modern families follow the tenets of Iranian heritage where the family occupies the most important role. Iranians have a rooted sense of responsibility to their family. Thus, their family comes first. Just like the typical Iranian custom, women are protected, so everyone is forbidden to ask anything about wives and female family relatives.
Marriage is sacred in Iranian culture, where wedding rituals follow two stages. The first stage, Aghd, is all about the legal aspect of matrimony in Iran. It is the time when the bride and groom sign a marriage contract at the bride’s residence. Meanwhile, the second stage, Jashn-e Aroosi, refers to the wedding reception with feasts and sumptuous celebrations with family and friends.
– Insights About the People
Iran is an ancient country with culturally diverse people. Despite coming from different ethnic, religious, social, economic, and educational backgrounds, the people show amiable personalities. Those who are known as Persians have mixed ancestral backgrounds. In Iran, you will meet people with distinctive ancestry like Turkish, Arab, Kurd, Baloch, and other minorities.
All of them make up the heritage of Iran, where the people are known for being clever, entertaining, and sociable. You should also know that Iranians are regarded as people with foresight, generosity, and respect. They may have a battered history, but Iranians remain proud of their religion, culture, and ethnicity.
Iran has a long and deep history of political, religious, and economic battles. Lying behind Iran culture is a rich tradition that you can trace back to antiquity.
You will always find yourself in awe of the complexity and beauty of this classic empire, which emerged from the heart of an impressive Persian civilization. History has unveiled much about Iran, and its formidable past speaks of its strength, resilience, and faith.