Critique of Iran’s cultural heritage conveniently ignores main factor: historic role of Islamic invaders
By Sheda Vasseghi
Sunday, December 04, 2011
In his article “Iran’s Fundamental Cultural Reformations,” Davood-Rahni calls for the immediate elimination of “bad [Iranian] social and cultural traits and practices.”
Although this column will not serve to negate Davood-Rahni’s list of negative traits among Iranians or the need to reflect on them, it is a rather silly posture given a person’s characteristic or essence never changes during a lifetime let alone an entire population’s. Davood-Rahni’s concerns regarding bad characteristics leading to Iran’s current demise having roots in a typical “Iranian behavioral traits” may cause for reflection, but his overall assertions and careful censorship in damaging Iranian national identity at a critical time as this leaves one baffled.
First, Davood-Rahni highlights 2500 years of Iranian national identity by stating that Iranian continuous political presence was due to an “absolute monarchy” for the most part dating back to Cyrus the Great, the founder of the Persian Empire in 6th century BCE. Davood-Rahni should elaborate on other monarchical systems prior to 19th century European enlightenment movements and revolutions that were not “absolute.” Having monarchy and an absolute one are not necessarily Iranian governmental characteristics, but shared by most peoples with old national roots.
Davood-Rahni, who ties in Cyrus the Great with the notion of “absolutism,” and later correctly praises the great king with being the first to enact a human civil rights decree (the famous Cyrus Cylinder) gives the impression that either Davood-Rahni himself suffers from confusion or political bias. Otherwise, how is it that Cyrus the Great is associated with both absolutism and championing human civil liberties? Further, pre-Islamic Iranian monarchs as opposed to post-Islamic consulted with influential Iranians and made decisions in accordance with “the laws of the Medes and the Persians.” Davood-Rahni fails to clarify that Iran’s history is split into two distinct eras that have attributed to Iranian confusion and lack of confidence. This significant split in Iranian history is the byproduct of one thing — corruption of Aryan philosophy and way of life by a foreign ideology.
Second, no sooner has the BBC propaganda machine started on whether majority of Iranians are of Aryan stock or not that Davood-Rahni calls it a “fact.” The Iranian identity is recognized, recorded and admired by non-Iranians based on, among other things, their native beliefs which were unique and different. Crushing an Iranian sense of identity and belonging only causes confusion and undermines unity that is essential now that Iranians are at a historical crossroad.
For the past 33 years, the Iranian people have been under utter terror by an Islamist regime. Their Iranian history, culture and language are being systematically replaced by an Arab version, and Davood-Rahni jumps on the psychological warfare bandwagon between an Islamic regime and its foreign supporters versus a defenseless people holding on to their Iranian identity as their shields. Being an Aryan is more than percentage of genetics makeup given throughout centuries peoples mix. Being an Aryan depends on one’s beliefs, lifestyle and sense of belonging shared within a group. Aryans have a distinct way of life that is clearly and without a doubt different than non-Aryans. Regardless of genetic studies and theories, Iranian identification exists and will remain as best noted by the following ancestral historical record:
I am Darius the great king, king of kings, king of countries containing all kinds of men, king in this great earth far and wide, son of Hystaspes, an Achaemenid, a Persia, son of a Persian, an Aryan, having Aryan lineage….
I am of such a sort, I am a friend of the right, of wrong I am not a friend. It is not my wish that the weak should have harm done him by the strong, nor is it my wish that the strong should have harm done him by the weak.
The right, that is my desire. To the man who is a follower of the lie I am no friend. I am not hot-tempered. What things develop in my anger, I hold firmly under control by my thinking power. I am firmly ruling over my own impulses….
(Darius the Great (r.522-486 BCE) at the Naqshi Rustam)
According to historians, Iranian nationalism can be used as a model to demonstrate the following components that define “nationalism”: A previously existing state; religion; language; race; life style; shared economic interests; common enemies; and shared historical consciousness. “Race” as a component of national identity may be a tricky term for an ancient country such as Iran that has been under constant invasions, but according to some experts, Iranians have always viewed their personal appearance as distinctive. The Persian culture endured numerous invasions and political changes. The Persian way of life has been noted and admired by outsiders. Finally, no other peoples in the Mid East could match the Persian people’s strong sense of historical consciousness expressed in their arts highlighting 2500 years of being a distinct people.
Davood-Rahni may have some things right about negative aspects within Iranian society that needs to be corrected, but he conveniently leaves out the major problem within Iranian society and the main cause for such confusion, superstition, lack of empowerment, and demoralization. That is, Davood-Rahni avoids discussing Islamic teachings brought to Iran 1400 years ago by foreign invaders that were completely opposite to what Aryans believed and how they lived. Davood-Rahni leaves out the fact that after Muslim invasion, most monarchs were not of Aryan stock and were not concerned with revival and maintenance of Iranianism. They may have become Persianized in arts and music, but not in their essence or spiritual tie which is a true measure of being Iranian.
Despite nationalist personalities in Iran’s history, majority of post-Islamic monarchs were too busy maintaining the throne and furthering a form of Islam in order to do so. Davood-Rahni not only leaves out the fact that it was during the Pahlavi Dynasty (1925-1979) that Iranians began to make real efforts in reverting to their ancestral ways because of nationalist, secular rulers, but instead lumps it with the murderous and brutal Islamic Republic regime based on foreign Sharia laws and anti-Iranian agenda. Davood-Rahni correctly encourages Iranians to leave medieval mindset behind for progress, but without pointing to the cause of this demise — the same cause that the Pahlavis’ inability or unwillingness to tackle attributed to the fall of Iran and the rise of an Islamofascist government in 1979. With the exception of a minor reference to a belief in a hidden Imam as Shiite Muslims, in his seven-page article, Davood-Rahni completely bypasses the damages caused by Islamic teachings to Iranian psyche.
Davood-Rahni has no problem criticizing Iranian monarchy and social behavior while questioning Iranian race and stock, but he does not discuss Islam at all. He refers to Zoroastrianism, the native Aryan philosophy and way of life, in passing as if it was a utopian theory.
Since Davood-Rahni is appalled by how modern Iranians treat their environment, let’s take this subject as an example. Polluting was a crime in Aryan philosophy. If modern Iranians lack respect for the environment, it is because under Sharia policies there is no consideration for environmental care. Islam has numerous laws and rules about putting restrictions on private lives, but it has no capacity or solutions for modern social issues. Hence, in 1945, an Iranian enlightened thinker Ahmad Kasravi, who was murdered by Islamists, wrote “the political institutions of Islam were not meant for today’s world. It is not possible to run a country with them.”
Iranian teachings from which Iranians have been kept in the dark are the complete opposite. In an 1871 article published by the weekly magazine THE NATION (America’s oldest continuously published weekly journal), Zoroaster is referred to as “the great Persian legislator.” The article is concerned about America’s lack of proper forest preservation plans, and as reference states that Zoroaster was very wise in his teachings that planting trees is one of the most admirable acts (a policy that was actively implemented by Achaemenid kings some 2500 years ago).
Contrary to Davood-Rahni’s claims, Iranians did not “accommodate” invaders. They were forced to submit by terror followed by centuries of brainwashing. They fought for centuries and tried to keep their traditions hidden at home. In the process, they lost many of their nationalist heroes such as Babak Khorramdin to these anti-Iranian invaders and usurpers of power which gave birth to many myths as they lamented the golden past. Tens of thousands of Iranians fled their country after the Muslim invasion and were given sanctuary in India. Known as the Parsis, they have kept their Aryan identity and way of life despite centuries of turmoil. A people’s memory of a golden past is not based on exaggeration or superficial knowledge, but aspects of reality passed on from generation to generation. Majority of Iranians today especially millions of refugees and those living in exile because of an Islamic regime in Iran view the Pahlavi era as the “modern golden age” backed by recorded evidence readily available to general public.
The Islamic Republic clearly shows how Iranians are forced to lie and live double lives which affects their psyche. At home they dress and speak freely, but in public they have to be otherwise. When Muslims in general travel outside of their own countries run by medieval Islamic policing, many drink, dance and engage in what would otherwise be considered crimes by Sharia laws. Even 7th century Chinese records note that Arab Muslims loved drinking Persian wine. Dr. Davood-Rahni missed the big picture — it is Islamic teachings that forces people to lie, cheat and live by double-standards, not Iranian characteristics!
Aryans believed in Free Will and responsibility. That is, they have the right to choose and live by the consequences. Since the time of the Achaemenids in 6th century BCE, Iranians were famous for being tolerant and law-abiding. Contrary to Davood-Rahni’s claims, because Iranians were inclusive and tolerant, they did not have a caste system as seen in Indian society. A form of caste system in Iran was created after Islam, because non-Muslims including Zoroastrians (which is inseparable from being Iranian) are regarded and treated as second class citizens. It is with the coming of Islam that non-believers were forced to live in the ghettos. It was not until the secular, nationalist Pahlavi monarchs that Parsis were invited to return to their Motherland, and other religious minorities were finally released from centuries of Islamic prejudices and cruelty.
The process of demoralization is best achieved from within. Davood-Rahni’s paper, intentionally or unintentionally, is a perfect example of demoralization at a time when Iranian identity and native beliefs are their only weapons against ethnic extermination by the regime in Tehran and threats of a possible attack by foreign powers given the dangerous policies of mullahcracy and lack of true leadership in the West.
In short, Davood-Rahni may have correctly described Iranian psychology and social behavior and his ideas for improvements, but he failed to teach or clarify what it means to be Iranian. Iranian philosophy includes respect for others, optimism, inclusivity, environmentalism, modernism, universalism, assimilation, flexibility, and the freedom to pursue happiness. Contrary to genetic experts and the BBC, Iranians may return to a better and brighter future if they re-learn their ancestral Aryan ways.
Sheda Vasseghi is on the Board of Azadegan Foundation, and is a regular contributor to Freepressers.com and WorldTribune.com on Iran’s affairs. Join The Official Site of Sheda Vasseghi on Facebook.
This article also published on Free Pressers