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Iranian Identity, the 'Aryan Race,' and Jake Gyllenhaal

by REZA ZIA-EBRAHIMI in London

06 Aug 2010 13:34178 Comments

Troubling echoes in adherence to Hollywood vision of the past.

jake-gyllenhaal-prince-of-persia.jpg[ comment ] Everybody has heard about Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, the recent Walt Disney blockbuster featuring Jake Gyllenhaal in the role of...a prince of Persia. That a rather fair actor with Swedish and Ashkenazi heritage plays the lead role in a story set in ancient Iran caused a minor controversy. Some enlightened people believe that Hollywood missed an opportunity to transcend its stereotypical depictions of non-Europeans, particularly Middle Easterners, by offering the part to a brownish hero. Of course, in private discussions, many Iranians, always prompt to portray themselves as "Aryans," concurred that Gyllenhaal accurately embodies how their ancestors must have looked, before Arabs invaded and imposed both their religion and complexion at the point of the sword.

So far, nothing unusual. What is surprising and alarming, however, is that serious intellectuals condoned these views. Asked to comment on producer Jerry Bruckheimer's declaration to The Times of London that many Iranians were "blond and blue-eyed" until "the Turks kinda changed everything," American-Iranian author Reza Aslan asserted that, indeed, Iranians were Aryans. "If we went back in time 1,700 years to the mythological era," Aslan said, "all Iranians would look like Jake Gyllenhaal." This pronouncement highlights the resilience of what I call the "Aryan syndrome" in modern Iran. A historical detour is necessary to show why it is so problematic.

Aryanism is a system of thought born in early-nineteenth-century Europe that divides mankind into different "races." It deems the Aryan race to be "superior," more creative and morally upright than "inferior" races. Those Semites, "Negroes," and others were believed to be characterized by vicious simplicity, cupidity, treacherousness, and an incapacity to grasp metaphysics. It all started soon after Sir William Jones discovered in 1786 that Sanskrit and Persian were related to Latin and Greek, within what later came to be called the Indo-European family of languages.

The term "Aryan" itself is a neologism coined by a French Orientalist of the era, Abraham-Hyacinthe Anquetil-Duperron. It is synonymous with "Indo-European," although the latter has a more geographic connotation. In a Zeitgeist where nations and national cultures were given shape, where myths of genealogy were particularly appealing to intellectuals, and where some were grappling with the moral dilemma of colonizing people in far-off lands, Jones's linguistic theory was swiftly manipulated into a racial one -- linguistic similarity was assumed to denote racial kinship.

Throughout the nineteenth century, Aryanism was wrapped into the discourse of science. Racial anthropology came into being as a discipline claiming to classify humans into different racial categories with immutable psychological features by measuring noses, skulls, and ears. As we know all too well, Aryanists, in particular one Adolf Hitler, became increasingly obsessed with racial purity and elevated the opposition between Aryan and Semite to the level of paradigmatic antagonism. This opened the way for the next stage: extermination. Aryanism provided the ideological backbone for Nazi atrocities.

Today, talk of the "Aryan race" in the West is restricted to white supremacist circles in North America and neo-Nazi militants in Europe. The very concept of "race," although it is still used in political discourses, especially in the United States, is scientifically bankrupt. Leading scientific associations assert that genetic variations between human groups are so gradual that drawing lines is inevitably an arbitrary and subjective exercise. "Indo-European" today refers to languages, not to people, let alone people supposed to assume inherent characteristics. Even its now limited use has been questioned. According to prominent linguists such as Merritt Ruhlen and the late Joseph Greenberg, the theory which holds that Indo-European languages are unrelated to other language groups such as the "Semitic" is overstated, if not outright fictitious.

Despite the rather inglorious legacy of Aryanism, many Iranians still nonchalantly seize every opportunity to emphasize their "Aryanness." But how did Aryanism reach Iran in the first place? Iranian Aryanists would have us believe that we have referred to ourselves as ariya since time immemorial, and that this epithet is a racial one, used to distinguish those who are ariya from those who are not. The claim is fallacious. The term occurs only a handful of times in ancient inscriptions in the Avesta, and on the bas-reliefs of Naqsh-e Rostam and Bisotun. Absolutely no consistent meaning can be derived from these occurrences.

In spite of many attempts to force ariya into Aryanist assumptions, recent scholarship -- in particular the work of Gherardo Gnoli -- has shown that ariya was not quite a racial category. According to Gnoli, in Achaemenid times, ariya was a cultural and religious term to evoke the kings' origin, like a title of particular nobility. In its very restricted, exclusivist nature, that is quite different from a racial category. Moreover, as already mentioned, the term "Aryan" was coined by Anquetil-Duperron. The neologism is charged with modern and romantic European conceptions of "race" that did not exist in Eastern antiquity. Even more importantly, in the entire corpus of Persian literature, verse and prose, there is no reference to an Aryan race until the twentieth century.

A related myth is the one according to which "Iran" means the "land of Aryans." This myth was propagated by Max Müller, who claimed in 1862 that the term airyanem vaejah found in the Avesta is the ancestor of "Iran" and means the "Aryan expanse." This myth became so widespread that serious scholars propagate it even to this day. Suffice it to look at a dictionary.

By contrast, Gnoli contends that airyanem vaejah is not a historical land, but a legendary, cosmogonic concept in Zoroastrianism. Additionally, the "land of Aryans" would suppose that the inhabitants of the Achaemenid or Sasanian empires were racially conscious in a manner similar to nineteenth-century Europeans. This is of course highly unlikely, particularly given that the Iranian plateau already -- as it has ever since -- featured a complex mix of populations. Out of 30,000 tablets excavated in Persepolis, not one was written in Persian (most are in Elamite, and a few are in Aramean). In fact, the empire was a melting pot. To imagine that its inhabitants believed that a territory must belong to one people is an anachronistic projection of modern ideas onto the distant past. The presence of Arabs on the Iranian plateau and Iranians in the Arabian Peninsula is also attested, but somehow ignored by the prophets of Aryanism.

The now ubiquitous concept of the "Aryan race" first appeared in Iran in the 1890s. Mirza Agha Khan Kermani, one of the ideologues of a particularly bigoted version of Iranian nationalism, was the first to ever refer to it in writing. Interestingly, he spelled it àriyàn (آریان), a transliteration of the French aryen. Later, Sadegh Rezazadeh Shafagh came up with àriyàyi, the term now usually used in Persian. Hasan Priniya dwelt upon Aryans and the "science of race" in the textbooks he wrote for the first cohort of children to be mass schooled by the Pahlavi state in the 1930s.

By that point, the strange idea of Iranian-German racial brotherhood had already appeared in various writings, such as a poem dedicated to "Germania" by Vahid Dastgerdi during World War I. After the Nazis took power, the notion was actively disseminated by the German propaganda machine. The hugely popular journal Nàmeh-ye Iràn Bàstàn, the Persian-language broadcasts of Radio Berlin, the publications and lecture tours of the Deutsch-Persische Gesellschaft, and the holdings of the German Scientific Library all promoted the idea of Aryan brotherhood, as Germany sought to convince Iranians to supporting her cause against the "ugly fox" (Great Britain) and "deceitful bear" (the Soviet Union). It all worked very well. Observe how the German football team is even now welcomed in Iran, occasionally with enthusiastic collective Nazi salutes.

Why is Aryanism in Iran so resilient? Why has it never been questioned, criticized, or reevaluated? In my view, late-nineteenth-century Iran was a receptive environment for Aryanism, which came to play a crucial role in the definition of modern Iranian identity. In the nineteenth century, Qajar Iran had come into contact with Europe. This was no smooth encounter, as it first came through the defeats of the Russo-Persian wars. The Qajar elites were profoundly traumatized by the discovery of Europe's advances and Iran's backwardness. Iranian intellectuals spent decades attempting to make sense of the nation's decay.

Around the 1860s, a few intellectuals such as Mirza Fath'ali Akhundzadeh and Mirza Agha Khan Kermani pioneered a digestible and reassuring narrative, staggering in its simplicity: pre-Islamic Iran was a utopia of glory, power, refinement, and prosperity. The causes of the end of this magnificent past were to be laid entirely at the doorstep of the Arabs and their religion, Islam. Since the advent of Islam, Iranians had been miserable. If only Arabs had not brought Islam to Iran, the country would be as advanced, if not more, than France and England. The solution? Uprooting anything perceived to be "Arabic" or "Islamic" in Iranian customs and beliefs, including the alphabet, loanwords, and all religious practices. Such a project, which these intellectuals sincerely believed to be achievable, would overnight return Iran to its ancient glories. They entirely overlooked Iran's recent achievements -- of which there were more than a few -- but all this was, of course, designed to avoid examination of the nation's own shortcomings. Nationalism always needs scapegoats to protect the pristine nature of the "homeland" and its "true" people.

This was the context in which Iranian intellectuals heard, or rather read in Orientalist literature, that Iranians were members of that same superior race as Europeans. Aryanism was for them manna from heaven. It suddenly -- and, it should be added, unexpectedly -- provided them an attractive means to consolidate their fanciful theories. It is fascinating how deeply compatible Aryanism was with the emerging nationalist discourse: the opposition between Iranian and Arab fit squarely into the Aryan vs. Semite paradigm. It also came from Europe. How could the celebrated, emulated Europeans be wrong? Iranians' pride, seriously wounded by the encounter with Europe, could be assuaged with the conviction that they shared in the Europeans' racial superiority. No surprise that they adhered so tightly to the myth of the Aryan race.

Two strategies are served by this adherence. I call the first one self-Orientalization. This is a commitment to all European prejudices that regard Muslims, or generally the people of the East, as backward. The Iranian Aryan espouses these prejudices (which, in fact, also target him) and simply considers himself to be the Aryan exception. Self-Orientalization always involves an element of shame over traditional Iranian customs and features. This is patent in the justification that Reza Shah Pahlavi provided when he rendered the European chapeau (bowler hat) compulsory in 1935: "All I am trying to do is for us to look like [the Europeans], so they would not laugh at us."

The second strategy is that of dislocation, the attempt to dislodge Iran from its Eastern and Islamic reality and force it into a European one, under the claim that Iranians are members of the European family gone astray in the backward Middle East. The dislocation mentality has very deep roots in the Iranian psyche, as it was incessantly promoted by the Pahlavi state through every vehicle of education and propaganda. Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi himself was a militant of "dislocationism." He once told a journalist, for instance, "We are an Asian Aryan power whose mentality and philosophy are close to those of the European states, above all France." He confided to British Ambassador Anthony Parson that it was "an accident of history" that Iran found itself in the Middle East, a startling negation of the country's empirical reality.

128728998449020593.jpgNot only is Aryanism a relic of nineteenth-century European thought with an ignominious legacy, but its Iranian variety is a symptom of an entrenched complex of inferiority, a desperate attempt to be something other than a "mere Iranian." This complex is rooted in a traumatic encounter with Europe that took place two centuries ago. It thus alarms me that to this very day, serious Iranian intellectuals tell a wide audience that "Iranians are Aryans." Moreover, the belief that Aryans are supposed to be "fair" is rooted in a hypothesis fashionable in the 1930s according to which the cradle of the Aryan race, its Urheimat, was the Scandinavian Peninsula. It was this "Northern Hypothesis" that was at work in Nazi Germany's depictions of Aryans as a glorious blond, blue-eyed race. It is unfortunate that when people claim that we once all looked like Jake Gyllenhaal, they do not realize that they are referring to relics of the sort of thought at work in the minds of Nazi ideologues. This only highlights the urgent need for Iranians to question their identity myths and get rid of the distortional, racialist, bigoted view of their identity that they have inherited from Old Europe.

Reza Zia-Ebrahimi teaches history and politics at the University of Oxford and the London School of Economics. This article is a condensed version of his study "Self-Orientalisation and Dislocation: The Uses and Abuses of the Aryan Discourse in Iran," to be published in the Journal of Iranian Studies in early 2011. Please refer to this publication for thorough referencing of quotations and documents.

Copyright © 2010 Tehran Bureau

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178 Comments

Take a typical example of Europe, East Asia, Africa and South America, and have someone place them.

What then becomes of the PC propaganda, put forth in this article, that race does not exist?

John Kennard

John Kennard / August 6, 2010 7:53 PM

Mr. Kennard, did you really read the article? He is trying to deconstruct how the idea of Aryan ancestry came to be attractive to Iranians in the face of 19th century colonialism and domination from Europeans, and how polyethnic or racial the ancient world really was. What about that is PC propaganda?

Rebecca Church / August 6, 2010 8:43 PM

Dear Reza,


Masterful commentary.


Have you read Afshin Marashi's book, Nationalizing Iran: Culture, Power and the State, 1870-1940?


Ali from Tehran / August 6, 2010 9:57 PM

Brilliant article Mr. Zia-Ebrahimi. Well done!!!

Eskandar Sadeghi / August 6, 2010 9:58 PM

What a load of bull. Shocking to see this scholar desperately attempt to link Iranians to Arabs, where there is simply no comparison.

Arabs today have sufficient natural resource wealth to import foreign-developed culture and civilization for their own peoples, but that should not be mistaken for the actual domestic creation of either.

kshitij anarog reddy / August 6, 2010 10:07 PM

Well written article! It's about time someone challenges this ever-growing "Aryayi" racism amongst the Iranians especially the opposition abroad. This whitewashing and prejudice against people who have the most in common with us is ridiculous and dangerous!
Attention those who introduce yourselves as either "Persian" or "Eyeranian" to fit in with the westerners: read and weep.
:)

Thank you Dr Zia-Ebrahimi!

Moji / August 6, 2010 10:23 PM

Nice try agha Reza!

There is much evidence that connects people in the Iranian Plateau to European migrations back and forth. Iranians were then mixed with semitic people of Arab origins naturally because of living in an environmentally more rewarding than the southern regions of Persian gulf. This is evident by travelling through Iran and seeing the various complexions going from much lighter in the North and in higher elevations where migration was more difficult and resistance against the invaders was much easier. Among the villagers in Iran you will find much lighter complexion than City folks. Again because small villagers were more immune to attacks and migration than bigger and more populated areas. Here is a map and some info. There is much more info available if one cares to find it!

http://www.indoaryans.org/

Daryan / August 6, 2010 11:02 PM

Daryan,


Interesting.


Any clue why present-day Zoroastrians in Yazd, who presumably did not inter-marry with Arabs and Turks, are visually indistinguishable from their racially-contaminated Moslem compatriots?

Ali from Tehran / August 6, 2010 11:56 PM

Please read Zoroastrian literature where the prophet calls himself the Aryan prophet. Iranian have lost their respect to their ancestors due to influence of Islam and Arabs.
This shall pass too!

gooya / August 7, 2010 12:02 AM

Aslan wrote that? He's really become an embarrassment.

Look at the painted reliefs at Persepolis, or Roman historical paintings. We haven't changed that much. It certainly isn't like the plateau has been stagnant over the past 7000 years! And our twins from way back when, the ones that settled the subcontinent to the east, there remains something of a resemblance.

This preoccupation with the phenotype is asinine.

Pirouz / August 7, 2010 12:18 AM

Pirouz,


Reza Aslan has probably been studying history at the feet of his esteemed aunt, professor Leila Forouhar.


Why else would he consider 300 AD the "mythological era"?

Ali from Tehran / August 7, 2010 2:44 AM

This is a very interesting article, but fails to consider that in many places, especially in the West, Iranians are all too often confused with Arabs or Turks. Past Iranian achievements are also often bundled together with "Islamic" achievements, leaving behind little recognition for Iran as a nation and a people.

This racial ignorance may fuel 'Aryanism' as much as the other factor mentioned in the article. By failing to mention this side of the coin, the article reads more like an attack on a type of Iranian nationalism that promotes culture, civility and modernity (which, like it or not, is more comparable to modern Western standards than current Middle-Eastern standards). Indeed Iran has a much darker side, one which we should resolve and not ignore. But do we need to embrace it and wear it as a badge of honour? I would prefer not to boast proudly about the torture, imprisonment, stoning and murder that occurs in my country. Am I a self-hating Iranian by thinking this way?

Pak / August 7, 2010 3:22 AM

Would someone take a little time and inform Darius I that his inscription in Naqshe Rostam, Iran,

"I am Dariush, the great king, the king of kings
The king of many countries and many people
The king of this expansive land,
The son of Wishtaspa of Achaemenid,
Persian, the son of a Persian,
from the Aryan race."

dating back to the 5th century BCE is pure propaganda and that he did not know what he was talking about? Shameful.

How come all you supporters of the Barbaric Republic reside in England?

Niloofar / August 7, 2010 4:44 AM

Dear REZA ZIA-EBRAHIMI,


The most accurate way of establishing proximity of Iranian race and European race is by genetic studies.


In this phylogenetic tree a genetic evolutionary tree or sort of a family tree is drawn based on human mitochonrial DNA. In the diagram different races are grouped in clusters based human genome (not history, language, color, etc, but a protein in their DNA).


According to this study Iranians are in the same "cluster" as Europeans and N. Indians.
Base on this study, genetically Iranians and Europeans are first cousins.

**(unfortunately Arabs/Semites were not included in this study).


What is amazing is that the genome study is comletely consistant with Daryans's "Indoaryan" diagram above, and linguistic studies of Caucasion/indoeuropean languages.

You wrote that an Asian person would put us in the same group as Europeans... well apparently we are.
(I am not saying that is good or bad, or we are somehow superior because of it. It is just what our DNA is telling us.)


I do agree with your "inferiority complex" point however. You did not mention Reza Shah's reasons for changing our country from Persia to Iran.

Ali from Tehran and Pirouz,

Facial features and color of skin are poor indicators of racial proximity. For example, Australian and New Zealand aboriginies, when they originally migrated from asia to Oceania had light skin, but later developed darker skin. And this happened in a very short time.
We know that is geneticaly possible, not caused by racial mixing, but by adaptation to new climate. indeed this can happen very very quickly.


Reza Aslan's statement that Persians were at some point lighter skinned is totally plausible (although I am not sure if accurate). Genetic studies would be needed to determine that, not some statue in Perspolis.

Sorry Pirouz, as far as "embarrassing" oneself you take the prize on that one.

STUDY:

Mol Biol Evol. 1993 Sep;10(5):927-43.

'Evolutionary relationships of human populations on a global scale.'
Nei M, Roychoudhury AK.
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8412653

to see this family tree :

http://www.racialcompact.com/Race_%20Realityand%20Denial.html


Ahvaz / August 7, 2010 5:05 AM

pak, Niloofar,

well said.

ahvaz / August 7, 2010 6:18 AM

For those interested:

from National Geographic "atlas of human journey" of Human genographic project.

---people known as Kurgans, from black sea and caucuses, are believed to be the single ancestors of proto-IndoEuropean speaking people.

---These people were the first known to have domesticated horses.

---Based on archeological records and confirmed by genetics studies, these people migrated across the grassy steppes that stretch from Mongolia to deep in Europe, starting about 7000BC.

---Indo-european languages include Hindi, farsi, Turkish, Urdu, English and latin based languages.

---Arabic is not one of the Indo-european languages.

---As I mentioned the color of skin, shape of noses, and other physical features are not good indicators of genetic ancestory. Our genome is.


---for $100 you can send your epithelial cells from inside of your cheek to genographic project and find your own genetic ancestory.

https://genographic.nationalgeographic.com/genographic/atlas.html


Ahvaz / August 7, 2010 7:04 AM

Ahvaz, on another site, we discussed the recent DNA test of a fellow Iranian.

His mtDNA result was Haplogroup G (likely Central Asia) and his Y-DNA result was Haplogroup H (likely Southwest Asia). The time of origin for the groups ranges between 20,000 to 45,000 years ago.

What's characteristic of this is an Asian origin.

People have moved about Eurasia for tens of thousands of years, with some even crisscrossing in direction. Europe is really the western peninsula of Asia.

Claiming that Iranians are more closely related to European peoples than their Asian and Semitic neighbors is an exercise in false elitism. Even within the confines of recorded history, we have a mixing from all directions. Go back further, and the same applies. As such, "Aryan" becomes a cultural marker (not so much a Genetic marker), referenced to a degree through language.

If anything, Iranian people provide one of the greatest diversities of phenotype in the world, and this has likely been the case for tens of thousands of years. And don't forget, we've even possessed settlers in the region that were neither Indo-European, nor Semitic- such as the Sumerians.

Trying to match a myth with a phenotype in an effort to construct a predetermined race is mere quackery. The likes of Himmler tried it in the 1930s. Not for the intention of scientific discovery, but for a sense of ethnological elitism.

The same applies to this Iranian sense of "Aryanism". Yes, there are Aryan cultural markers in Iran's history. But the concept of race is more akin to mythology, than it is actual science.

Pirouz / August 7, 2010 8:05 AM

Fully agree with Pak, Mr Zia-Ebrahimi's article fails to address Iranian's deeply rooted anti-Arab sentiments, a trauma caused by the Arab conquest in the 7th century, followed by enforced Islamization and even the attempt to eliminate Persian language.
To me this article reads as an attempt to justify the Islamic Republic by keeping a distance to anti-Semitism at the same time - cleverly done!
Instead of being honest as a scientist, Mr Zia-Ebrahimi exploits this important subject politically. Important because even 1400 years later Iranians are still divided between being an Iranian or a Muslim, and the beloved IR has turned things worse by denying all Iranian customs and traditions, e.g. Nowrooz (which failed). In fact the mullahs have radically opposed all the Shah's efforts to westernize Iran by trying to Islamize the country. The recurrence to Aryanism and other nationalistic issues is a normal reaction to this forced Islamization, i.e. Arabization of Iranian society, also apparent in the actual Persian language.
The Iranian psyche will remain deeply torn between these two identities as long as no serious debate gets started on a national level, and as long as the subject is exploited by biased "scientists" as Mr Zia-Ebrahimi!

P.S. As Ahmad Khatami honestly said today "Iran must be sacrificed for Islam".

Arshama / August 7, 2010 8:25 AM

Interestingly my first comment was deleted. Perhaps you allow this one, a link showing Hizbollah and Hamas with a very "Aryan" gesture, the "Hitlergruss": http://democtatori.blogspot.com/2010/08/blog-post_9927.html

Arshama / August 7, 2010 3:52 PM

Ahvaz,

Very informative. Thank you.

My understanding is that Iran has always been known as Iran to Iranians if I may say so, but Europeans and Brits in particular referred to it as Persia. I have been under the impression that Reza Shah's intention was for Iran to be known to the rest of the world as it is to its own natives. However, you did mention "Reza Shah's reasons for changing our country from Persia to Iran." I take as there were other reasons? I am very curious to know those reasons, please.

Niloofar / August 7, 2010 6:43 PM

Ms. Church, I do not talk to people who seriously use the Orwellian verb "deconstruct".

John Kennard / August 7, 2010 7:12 PM

Pak, Niloufar and Ahvaz, thank you for the valid points.

It is unfortunate that you find the same passion for Iranian Nationalism in anti-nationalistic fanatics. Views which are most loudly heard from Islamo-Arab identity fans.

This article mixes historical facts from the 20th century with historical facts from 500 BC and tries to discredit the latter with the former. Iran and Parsi are not just a dream. This is a living breathing people with a language and a culture which has only formed in the past four thousand years out of fifty millions years of human existence. It has Survived the overwhelming invasions of Greeks, Romans, Arabs, Chengiz, Teymour, Ottomans, Russians, Britons and many others and some of us still stand by the same principles of our forefathers. Iranian identity has nothing to do with being European and White and everything to do with our Parsi culture and soul.

Oxford should be proud to continue the true traditional of Orientalisim. Old habits die hard.

I respect NPR's inclusion of all views. However, I think this article is a well done piece of propaganda. One thing for our American Liberal friends who find this argument so well matched with their beliefs on race to consider is that in Iran, unlike America, culture and history matter more than race.

Ali / August 7, 2010 7:36 PM

Ali,

RE "Iranian identity has nothing to do with being European and White and everything to do with our Parsi culture and soul."

I agree 100%. I think the nationalism/and "aryanism" of today's Iranians has much to do with the Arabization and Islamisation attempts by the clergy. The author failed to mention that. I dont know about you but when I read Iranian papers now, or hear a mullah give a speech, I dont understand half of it. So much of it is Arabic. They even some times pronounce persian words with the heavy Arabic HHH sound!!!
These morons never seize to amaze me. Can you imagine if a leader spoke LA persian?

naturally Mullahs want to put us in the same lot as Arabs and away from our Persian/Iranian "Pagan" heritage. They discourage Persian customs/language and push the Arab culture on us.

I am not saying Persian/Aryan is superior to Arab culture in anyway. But we do have an Iranian identity-- or Arayan identity, whatever you may want to call it-- and we ARE different from Arabs. The same way Western culture should not be imposed on people, neither should the Arabic/Islamic culture as in the case of Iran, or you will get a back lash.


Pirouz,

Is that how you come to all your conclusions? by exchanging swap sample with your friends? (was he a bassij or a Mongol?). At least you are on the right track. I would be interested in seeing a genome study of a large enough sample that sould have some meaning or any scientific validity, as in the study I posted.
Your friend's swap sample means nothing. You embarrass yourself again.

BTW, A genome study would analyse both migration patterns and racial mixing. It wold not give racial superiority or inferiority data. That kind of warped analysis is up to the reader.

I would be interested to see a large regional genome study that would include semites/Arabs and central Asians as well as Europeans.

Niloufar,

From what I understand, reza shah changed the name from persia to Iran, for two main reasons. At the time Persia was known to Europeans as an ancient (and backwards) nation and he was trying to modernize it, and he first did a proven marketing technique: "brand name" change.

Second, he hated and feared the British and their colonialism, and he was looking for an emerging world power that he could ally with for protection. He chose ze Germans who were obssessed at the time with the Aryan race, and he thought he could form a sort of a bond with them by changing the name to Iran. Unfortunately for him his gamble lead to his demise and installment of his much weaker, meaker undecisive son, as sons of many strongmen often are. Anyway that is my view of what happened, and I am open to learning more about it.

Finally I would like to add that the Japanese had similar feelings in the 30s and 40s that the aurthor may label as "inferiority complex". Japan was already a powerful and advanced world power. They were miles ahead of their Asian naighbors, and they thought of themselves as "special" or "chosen". But they did not get the respect they thought they deserved from the Americans and Europeans, mainly because of their looks/race. So they got rid of their cloths, and put on the suit and the hat, hoping that the Americans would take them more seriously.

It is possible that Iranians had similar feelings at that time. Iran, a world and regional power for thousands of years, surrounded by nations that used to be its "subject" and perhaps considered "malakhkhor inferior", suddenly realised that it had fallen way behind the Industrial nations. Even worse it was lumpsummed with Arabs by the powerful europens! Iranians still get offended by the question, "hmmmm do you Iranians speak Arabic?"

I can imagine that was a shock to the system at the time, and required some drastic measures that "hey, we are not like them".

Ahvaz / August 7, 2010 9:56 PM

Hello everyone,

Racism goes against our deepest Iranian values of the spiritual unity of humanity. Our wisest have always advocated and taught us that Iran be a nation of tolerance, compassion, spiritual understanding of life, and love.

However, I found this article to be biased and subjective, and paternalistic. To dismiss race point blank is as ignorant and extreme as to make race an issue with which to divide humanity. To dismiss those who point to the manifest realities of race (i.e. physical differences), is to act with scientific disrespect and bias.

The challenge for modern man who aspires to a deeper understanding of life is to realize that we are all brothers and sisters, even though we are born into different-looking physical vehicles. To celebrate our differences and diversity, instead of ignoring them. And to see the unity of soul behind the veil of the physical.

Personally, I do not believe that race is such a huge factor, and those who define themselves by physical race, will inevitably face unhappiness and misery. Because it simply is not true that we humans are divided by race. In fact, if reincarnation is true (and a lot of evidence is being found for it in this age, see for example the work of Dr. Raymond Moody), then it may very well be that we experience life on earth in different races through different lifetimes...

We are divided by culture, beliefs and the inability to open our minds to breaking free from group thinking... as well, we are divided by generational "hand-me-down" belief systems and trauma-based emotional reactivity.

And I think that matters of intelligence and consciousness have ultimately nothing to do with genetics. The evidence for this is empirically available to any objective person. Some of the wisest and smartest people on this planet are not white... some of the dumbest and most destructive are. And vice versa. I do think though, that some people with certain ethnic backgrounds face a greater challenge in breaking free from their "tribe", due to entrenched belief systems and mass traumas that prevent progress. So, in a way, it is paradoxically true that race can impede one's progress in life, but it has to do with the unconscious beliefs and emotional dynamics of the tribe that are passed on to an individual in childhood... it is far more complex than blaming it on race.

For example, Swedes may have found more mental liberation from certain false beliefs (such as the nonsense of women and men not being equal before God), than Iranians, at this point in history.

The journey of progress is one of elevation of consciousness, not race - if it was an issue of race, there would be no hope for the world, and it is in large degree due to this traumatizing sense of hopelessness about the world, that racists derive their violent, angry and destructive ways. I have spoken with a former white supremacist leader about this (whose fiance now is not white).

Yet, as Iranians, we should honour our ancestors and seek to understand our cultural heritage, the good and the bad, from all epochs of our history - and just as we should seek to understand what "Islam" truly means, namely surrender of our individual will to a wiser will than our own can ever be (as opposed to what the capricious mullahs try to force feed us about this religion) we should seek to understand Zoroastrianism, and we should seek to understand what the symbolic, spiritual meaning of "Aryan" is... asking ourselves: what does it truly mean, to be a genuinely noble human being? I think being a true spiritual Aryan includes having compassion and care for all members of the human race, no matter what colour of skin or ethnic heritage.

According to that definition, there are some blacks who are more "aryan" than the most blond and blue-eyed on this planet.

Here's to the healing and progress of Iran, and all peoples of the world.

Saeed

Saeed / August 7, 2010 9:57 PM

Race had a different meaning in ancient Persia than it has today; and in particular recent research makes it inappropriate to equal the persian word Aryaee to the english word Aryan. The two are vastly different in meaning and in fact have nothing to do with each other in what they infer; first being complimentary and the second insultingly relating to the german racism of 20th century.

Aryaee at its roots refer to the nature of the people who took the same journey, who lived similarly, and who valued the same cultural norms. It simply refered to nomads who migrated and were mild-mannered and were aware of those cultural norms. It does not have any racial connotation as we have come to know in the past two centuries. None of iranian kings were consider themselves any superior to their subjects, instead they felt free to absorb any culture that they conflicted with rather than destroying it. The latter became the norm only post-islamic (by arabs and then by mongols) in iran and intensified with renaissance in europe.

Herodotus mentions that iranians are best at absorbing what is good from other cultures, and Iranian kings routinely married into cultures that they encountered. Queen Esther and Queen Shirin as well as presence of multiplicities of races and cultures in Persian army (a sensitive job) are examples of lack of racial bias as we know it today. Many nations, such as Elamites, Babylonians, Sumerians, etc. were easily absorbed into the empire; and many nations of the same Aryan race were confliced with (such as Greeks and Scythians). Shahnameh, while taking pride in iranianism, is full of intermarriages, specially between Iran and Turan, and the offsprings often representing iran in the Epic combats.

Ancient iranians were simply unaware of concept of race as we know it today. In fact the first sign of the superiority of one race over another is from the period of Arab invasion where early Shi'ite Emams justified rule of Qureish tribe over the islamic empire instead of the chosen Caliphs and to justify subjugation of iranians. Even that has mostly political, religious, and linguistic agenda. Once a person was willing to convert to islam, speak arabic, and accept domination by Emams, he/she would be considered not much different from genuine arabs.

Gloria / August 7, 2010 10:19 PM

Reza Aslan is not worthing mentioning, he said Iran was on the verge of civil war last summer. What an amateur.

Reza Aslan is no scholar / August 7, 2010 10:35 PM

@ Ali

What do you think it means to 'discredit' a historical fact? Do you think he's being anachronistic? I ask because it very much seems that he is in fact warning against a very dubious type of anachronism.

I felt like Zia rather eloquently encourages his audience, us, to re-consider the logic of a singular, static and unchanging Iran. The idea that "real" Iran was lost, and must be found; a lost 'essence' (one could substitute "soul", "culture")


Let's also remember that no one is saying Iran is the only country to have a national creation myth... but rather starting from the premise that all nations have creation myths we then look at Iran's.

Does this gesture rob us of our ability to live and inhabit a Persian/Iranian life form? Not at all, I would venture to say that it in fact enlivens it.

What really peeved me, however, are the obsession with the biological... does the chromosome create culture? Does the phenotype determine who you befriend?

I find it a bit ironic. Doesn't the recourse to an inquiry into a possible genetic connection with Europe LITERALLY PERFORM Zia's thesis?

Think about it. It's a sort of, "no, but maybe beneath it all..." type of gesture. That beneath the various connections 'Iranians' have made through the millenia with their neighbors, they're "actually" European. Not only asinine, but insane.

Pak, I think I would disagree- but your earnest argument really warms my heart. Great response, and, if I was the author of this piece, the answer to your last question is an unequivocal no.

Nosrat Borhani / August 8, 2010 1:08 AM

Saeed,

Thanks for the post. You are absolutely correct about the irrelevance of one's "race" and their intellectual abilities. There are more Intra-racial variations than inter-racial differences.
i.e. if we randomly compare two people of the same race, there are more variations than if we compare 2 people of different races. This is true both socially/intellectually and genetically.

Studies like the genographic research is useful for understanding the pattern of human migration and evolution. It is the best way to study the human evolution and adaptation. If any thing it proves once and for all that we all have a common ancestory that originated in Africa.
That is liberating knowledge, that we came from the same small group of people and that most of our differnces are superficial.

Now some take that research and put racial superiority/infersiority spin on it, but they did that with darwin's work as well. We saw how communists, Nazis and capitalists looked at scientific work of darwin, and used it to justify their own ideology.

Gloria,

Unfortunatly, it is hard for me to believe that racism did not exist in Iran prior to Arab invasion. Unfortunately prejudice is a human trait and it evolved when people formed small tribes.

If you divide a classroom of children into two groups based on a trait such as eye color and discriminate against one and spoil the other, very quickly, within hours, you will see prejudice/racism of one group form against the other right before your eyes. This was an actual research study i saw years ago.

Unfortunately PREJUDICE was an adaptation trait that evolved in order to allow us to form distinguishable tribes. It is a human trait.


Racism aside, the question here is about history and heritage of Iranian culture, and that, I would love to learn more about.

Unfortunately the author has only given one side of the story, which makes it a biased study with a possible agenda. A pro-IR agenda.

Ahvaz / August 8, 2010 1:19 AM

Dear Nosrat,


Very well articulated. Thanks.


You say that every nation has a creation myth. Ours is the Shahnameh, drawn heavily from Sassanid and Parthian court conventions of mixing history and lore.


And as Gloria has so eloquently stated above, our national creation myth is patriotic but not racist.


But when you set out to foster state ideology from the founding myth, you enter the bizzare world of pseudo-science, racism and the occult.


Given that Iran, from time immemorial, has been a melting pot of races, languages and ethnicities, a recourse to Aryanism not only severs Iran from its neighbours and the cultural continuum of its region, it also differentiates Iranians from each other.


It's even more tragic when the motivating factor for doing so is not to heal the nation, but to alleviate your personal and collective sense of inferiority with respect to the West.

Ali from Tehran / August 8, 2010 2:04 AM

Nosrat,


Re: " What really peeved me, however, are the obsession with the biological... does the chromosome create culture? Does the phenotype determine who you befriend?"

I am afraid You have missed the point completely. Please go back and read the posts again.


genographic studies determine migratory and ancestorial background. If you want to use that information to determine who is "your friend" , be my guest. but that is a rediculous assumption and conclusion about the posts, especialy the statement " does the chromosome create culture? ".

of course not, but ancestory does.

---Other factors shape culture as well, such as leadership, geography, climate, trade with neighbors/isolation, as well as trauma( s.a. natural disaster, invasion, war e.g. WWII in Germany and Hiroshima in Japan)---


Migratory patterns are significant, and eventhough 'culture' is constantly evolving, as you said, knowing where we came from IS improtant.


For example we know thru genetic studies that a handful of people from Siberia migrated to the Americas and populated it. But who were these small group of people? Do they still exist today? We know now, thru genographic studies that they do. The direct progeny of the original few who crossed into Americas now live in Arizona and they are known as the Navajo people, with a unique and proud culture. Would the information from the genetic studies offend them somehow? I hope not. But we know it is their migratory story.
Unlike history books, our DNA does not lie.

Of course politicians and ideologues handpick scientific knowledge to justify their point of view. That is nothing new.

I hope I was clearer this time and you are lless "peeved" on this fine Saturday.

Ahvaz / August 8, 2010 2:59 AM

Go back farther. And all humans are descended from Northern Africa. We are all from the same race.And all have the same ancestors. The slight variations in physical appearances are results of adapation to environmental conditions. And these differences are extremely slight. You will not find any "race" with 3 eyes. Because we are all the same race. With common ancestors. It's just a matter of how far back you want to go to make yourself feel more different than others.

muhammad billy bob / August 8, 2010 5:17 AM

Ahvaz,

Very insightful comments - thanks. It was nice to get a critique of this article and an alternate point of view for the lay reader (i.e. me) who does not know much about this field of study.

Agha Irani / August 8, 2010 6:28 AM

@ Ahvaz,

My interest lies in pushing an idea to its breaking point; to see the (hidden?) extension of an idea and to read it in its context; speech is never context-free. And One man's slippery slope is another woman's ski hill.

I'll start off quoting Reza (who deserves our applause), just to establish background.

"The very concept of "race," although it is still used in political discourses, especially in the United States, is scientifically bankrupt. Leading scientific associations assert that genetic variations between human groups are so gradual that drawing lines is inevitably an arbitrary and subjective exercise."

Let's keep that in mind. I think that's one of the crucial parts of the article.

Now, turning to what you wrote, It's important that we think about what kind of facts these studies (migratory patterns) are. Facts aren't just facts, they do things depending on their context (it is not just politicians and ideologues who handpick, we all do this in our daily lives). Indeed, I think it's important to ask ourselves how independent of our experience, our social/cultural lives, these facts really are and work.

In other words, I'm just questioning the appropriateness, or to be point blank, the felicity, of bringing up genetic studies, dna analysis and migratory patterns in this conversation.

What does an Iranian past, understood through the abstraction of DNA and phenotype, say about how Iranian nationalism was forged (in the 19th century as a response to European modernity/nationalism), and how it is being re-presented and re-created in our contemporary environment?

Side note: Reza is a brilliant historian here for he has not only provided an amazing frame from which to think about Iranian-ness and Iranian nationality, but he's also done his hw, the empirical and archival research.

If we apply your own criterion to the analogy you provided, this would mean that many Latin-Americans, whose descendants came from East-Asia across the Bering Strait, would be somehow closer linked to East Asians than to the Europe (although albeit through colonialism+) just because they yield from across and share genetic similarities. It's a little bit absurd to say that, isn't it?

This is where the question of types of facts come in. For it is indeed a fact that Latin-Americans are from Asia, yet no one would dare say that that is somehow an "origin" "authentic" or the "real" site of Latin-American-ness.

This is even more aptly understood with the example you gave from the first study. You wrote "According to this study Iranians are in the same "cluster" as Europeans and N. Indians.
Base on this study, genetically Iranians and Europeans are first cousins."

Notice your own exclusion of North Indians when talking about cousins. That's not a minor exclusion.

This seemingly neutral fact that you bring up isn't used to talk about how we are close to North Indians, but it is used to talk about how we're close to Europeans. Think about that.

You just partook in the exact same rhetorical behavior you accuse the politicians and the ideologues of, except I would never venture so far as to call you either one of those pejoratives.


Nosrat Borhani / August 8, 2010 7:07 AM

Interesting article; embarrassing comments.

Hooman / August 8, 2010 8:30 AM

what is certain is that Iranians are not a homogeneous race. Perhaps a mixture of Turk, Mongol, Gilani, Kurd, and Arab etc. Iran is truly a multicultural society. Made up of many races.

If you ask Americans of this century, what is an American race? they will say it is made of many but majority are white from Anglo-Saxon and dutch origins. Perhaps 1000 years form now there will no majority white from European origins.. Americans will look browner and browner as time goes by. But they still share a culture and be called Americans...who cares what race!

Lyla / August 8, 2010 8:42 AM

Dear Nosrat.

interesting text analysis on my speech and my omission of N. India from my "first cousin" statement. I guess you got me there! though to be fair, I did specifically name N India in the group literary just 1 line before it!

since we are on the logic of find omissions to find Freudian slip-ups, I must admit that when I named Indoeuropean speaking people, I only specifically named 5: Hindi, farsi, Turkish, Urdu, and English. My appologies to the other 137 Indoeuropean speaking people that I did not name. I did not mean to discriminate against them. I hope they do not hold me to the same rigorous standards as yourself.


Since we are on the topic of "speech contex", I wonder what kind of deviant subconscious sexual underlining thoughts Freud would find in your statement: "One man's slippery slope is another woman's ski hill". Interesting choice of words Nosrat. hmmm.... lets not go there.


back to the article, you are obviously very fond of the author, and I must admit I barely know him. First, I have said that do agree with his "inferiority comlpex" that gripped Iranians in the 19th century, and today, and I did enjoy and learn from it. but I did write my objections as well:

1. The author neglects to mention the threats of English colonial invasion, Reza shah's search for an ally for protection, and the rise of germany as rival to England. The unfortunate misunderstood, similarities of Hitler's 'Aryan' and Iranian 'Aryaee', and convenient association of the two were well explained by the author.


2. Author failed to mention Iranians' desire to be known for their rich and distinct history, cultural identity and heritage in an area where they were mixed into one "race" with other cultures in mid east.


3. Author failed to mention the recent rise of nationalism, racism and anti Arab sentiments in Iran as a direct result of Islamic republic's strict enforcement of islamic/Arab culture and its vicious attack on persian heritage and customs.


4. author implies our ancestorial connection to the Europeans and other Indo-eauropean people is false and nothing more than a "myth" created by Iranians who wanted to be more like the Europeans.
As a historian, he must be aware of the immigration patterns of the Indoeauropean people. His omission of that fact and presenting ancestorial connection of Europeans, Iranians (and N.INDIANS) as a "myth", I believe was disingenuous.


5. Re: "The very concept of "race," although it is still used in political discourses, ... is scientifically bankrupt.

I hope so. This may be true especially in sociology and may be political science classes. But I hope medical schools can come up with new innovative ways to teach their students the prevalence of sickle cell anemia in African Americans, increased risk of Osteoporosis in caucasian women, or Tay-Sachs disease in Ashkenazi Jewish population.


Regarding your question about S American natives, well, for one, 90% of S American natives were decimated by the blade and small pox. If that wasnt enough of a shock to their culture(s), enforcing christian 'values' on them finished the job.
For their migratory pattern and ancestory please refer to national geographic website I mentioned earlier.

Ahvaz

Ahvaz / August 8, 2010 4:59 PM

Agha Irani,

Thank you, but I donot want to present myself as an expert in the field of politics, socialogy or history in anyway. My interests are in evolutionary studies, particularly human evolution and migration.

I know some have attributed my citing of genetic studies as attempts to prove racial superiority. What is Ironic, is that as one studies the field of genetics and especially evolutionaly genetics, it becomes abundantly clear how similar we all are and how meaningless racial super/inferiority. Afterall we all share the same common ancestor, and they evolved in Africa.

what I would be interested in learning would be the effects of environment and events on a people's psyche and culture.

For example, in what way, if any did our conquest by Alexander and destruction of our cities by Mongholians effect who we are today? I am sure they were major shocks to our system. Are some of those feeling still with us today in form of religous rituals (e.g. Sineh Zani), view of the world and ourselves, way of thought or customs?
That I would love to learn more about.

Hooman,

thanks for contributing to our embarrassing posts. we always have room for one more.

Ahvaz / August 8, 2010 5:21 PM

This discussions reminds me of alot of Thanksgiving dinner conversations. My ex-sister-in-law is Greek. And, of course, the topic of the ill effects of the Turks on Greek identity was one often discussed at the dinner table at her Yaya's house. If there are any people who are, rightfully in most cases, proud of their past contributions to the world. It is the Greeks.

To me it all boils down to how similiar we all are. Even with regard to "culture". What is culture, anyway? Is it religion? All religions are based on the very obvious human characteristic of self-preservation in the manner that you don't mess with your neighbors wife, he'll probably end you. etc. Is it celebrations? If it's really one thing we all have in common, it is the fact that we all absolutely love to celebrate just about anything we can.

I am extremely fortunate, in that I can fly basically free to anywhere in the world, becasue my father (is now) a retired Delta airline pilot. I have been to a great many places in the world. (Not Iran, unfortunately for the majority of my life it has not been very safe for an american to travel to Iran).The one thing I've seen is that we are all very similar, yet retain differences. Even with the same family we have our little uniqueness.

muhammad billy bob / August 8, 2010 7:33 PM

Hello to all of you, and thanks for your comments. I shall make a few points and also recommend readings for those that are interested in this topic.

- On the history of the Aryan race, I recommend two books: Léon Poliakov, the Aryan myth; and Stefan Arvidsson, Aryan Idols. Both concur that it is a modern idea and thoroughly analyse its origins.
- Denying the concept of race is not a denial of physical differences between human groups. However what scientists from disciplines such as anthropology and genetics today say is that differences are very gradual, therefore placing a 'boundary' between groups (call it race or anything) can only be an arbitrary decision. Because of this, the conept of race is today concidered scientifically unsound. There is a consensus today that race is a socially constructed idea. For more on this see Michael Banton. The Idea of Race. London: Tavistock Publications, 1977, or check this: http://www.aaanet.org/stmts/racepp.htm.
- It has correctly been referred to Darius' inscription in Bisotoun in which he says 'I am ariya of ariya stock'. However what I am trying to say is that it cannot be inferred that what he means by ariya is the modern concept of an Aryan race. The idea of race is modern and is formulated in scientific terms, which did not exist in Darius' time. In fact it was significantly strenghtened by Darwinism. In his 'the Idea of Iran', Gherardo Gnoli thoroughly analyses these inscriptions.
- Regarding the international nomination change (from Persia to Iran), although it is absolutely not disputed that Iranians have called their land 'Iran' since time immemorial, it is now clear that it was suggested by Nazi officials to the Iranian ambassador in Berlin sometime around 1934. The government directive pertaining to the name change read: “because Iran was the birthplace and origin of Aryans, it is natural that we should want to take advantage of this name, particularly since these days in the great nations of the world noise has gotten out regarding the Aryan race which indicates the greatness of the race and civilization of ancient Iran”. The exact reference is in my full article.
- Regarding the supposed hatred between Iranians and Arabs, it is obvious to me that it started with Akhundzadeh and Kermani. There is very little trace of it before. Some claim that the Shahnameh is anti-Arab but it is not an argument that can be defended in my eyes. Although some of his characters describe the advent of Islam in negative terms, the whole Bahram Gur episode is pretty positive about Arabs. Also, the Shuubiyyah , that many believe was the manifestation of some sort of anti-Arab hatred, was not a political or nationalist movement, but a literary controversy on the respective qualities of Arabic and Persian, with Arabs and Persians on both sides of the argument. Once again, modern phenomena are mistaken for ancient and continuous: this is anachronism.
- Finally I will briefly comment on accusations of being a propagandist in the service of the Islamic Republic. I do not deem it necessary to prove what side I am on. I would simply say that this is a tragic manifestation of Iranian mentality, and its lack of political maturity or democratic thinking. So many Iranians, when they disagree with something, refuse to engage with the argument and instead attack the person who expresses the argument. We spend our time accusing each other of 'taghouti' or agent of the Islamic Republic, and we have a very hard time respecting individuals with whom we disagree: no surprise if people who disagree with the regime, whichever regime in place in Tehran, are imprisonned. Change starts here, in our personal interations. And seeing this sort of thinking so deeply rooted among so many Iranians, I am not very optimistic about the prospect of Iran becoming a democracy.

Peace to all of you.

Reza Zia-Ebrahimi / August 8, 2010 9:21 PM

I went through the posts again, and really, there is a lot of good feedback. Thanks again to all of you.

Reza Zia-Ebrahimi / August 8, 2010 10:11 PM

Aryan name is belong to Iranians as the name of Iran is derived from this name.
there is no racial concept behind it when Iranians call themselves Aryans. by using this name they just point to their history and culture.
Stop attacting to Iranians.

shahin / August 8, 2010 11:52 PM

Dear Reza Zia-Ebrahimi,


Thanks for responding to the comments.


I would like to know if you've read Afshin Marashi's book, "Nationalizing Iran: Culture, Power and the State, 1870-1940"?

Ali from Tehran / August 9, 2010 1:10 AM

I believe the author is wrong that the name change from Persia to Iran was a Nazi suggestion. A detailed article by the late Saeed Nafisi suggests that it was proposed by Iranian intellectuals of the time to Reza Shah to make the name of the country more meaningful with respect to many ethnicities that inhabited Iran and so on.

I agree that Arya in old scripts does not mean anything like Aryan does today. There is nothing wrong with one using terms to define his ancestral association as long as it does not lead to any sense of superiority and discrimination. That never happened in iran, or else not so many different ethnicities would have survived, and definitely no where near what we have seen in the past 200 years in europe. I should also add that at the birth of islam, some third of population of Arabian subcontinent were Jewish while today there is almost none there. They were either converted or eliminated. Arabs tried to do the same with iranians, as expressed by Khaldoun, Biruni, Tabari, and others. That feels more like racism than when one sees Cyrus the great wearing Babylonian dress and praying to babylonian god.

As for color of skin and hair, author is only partially correct. These are simply driven by geographical location. Even today, a lot of fair-skin blond children are born in central, north, and north-western iran. Many change to darker complexions as they grow up, but some remain the same. As for how iranians looked pre-islamic, the closest that we can come to see them is from pictures in Persepolis as well as in our closest living relatives who have remained "purest". Those are Kurds, Armenians, and to some extent, afghans of north-western afghanistan. There are variations amongst them, ranging from blond and fair-skinned to brunettes; but usually are not as dark as arabs of south of Persian gulf.

Finally, the attitude of iranians towards arabs is cultural not racial. iranians do not display any attitude towards arabs of North africa since there has not been any cultural clash between them. In fact iranians have a sense of envy for Egyptian civilization but resent cultural domination rooted in Arabia which has not only not led to prosperity but has held iran back and resulted in what we see today. The culture of Stoning, Execution of Infidels, Amputating body parts, Rape of virgins before execution, ... has no historical pre-islamic roots in iran and cannot adjust to a multi-ethnic multi-culture multi-religion country that iran has always been. It fits the uniform Arabia far better and iranians (rightfully) resent the imposition of those cultural norms by mullas who cherish that aspect of arab culture round the clock while putting down anything with iranians roots. Most iranians detest domination, either physically or culturally, and would like to take their own path of evolution rather than restricted by what was forced on them centuries ago at the tip of arabian sword.

Gloria / August 9, 2010 1:35 AM

To establish the fundamental structure of the democracy in Iran, it is strongly needed to see the reality of modern Iran, and to respect to all ethnics in Iran, and stop Aryanism and orientalism and attacking to the neighbours and ignoring basic human rights inside the country. Talking about race in Iran is meaningless. The reality of modern Iran shows that Persians, Turks, Turkmens, Kurds, Lures, Arabs, Balouchs, Gilaks, and Mazanis Live in this country and should have the same right.
Hereby, I thank the author for rising one of the basic problems in Iran.

Qoshachay / August 9, 2010 4:18 AM

Are we Aryans or Arabs, Zoroastrian or Muslim, winners or losers. We are problabaly all of those things and a thousand other things too, but in the end we all have what we have NOW. Make it beautiful for all of us.

You are all beautiful.

Koorosh / August 9, 2010 4:47 AM

Iran has often been propagated as the land of the "pure Aryan" race. However genetic research and historical evidence demonstrates that Iran as a cross road of different people has a very diverse genetic profile. Throughout the history, different people have coexisted in this land and they all have had their genetic impact on the population of Iran.

One of the leading research projects on the genetic map of the world is the Geographic Project orchestrated by the National Geographic Institute. By joining the project and buying the kit you will both help the science and quench your curiosity about your ancestry. This is the link to the project homepage:

https://genographic.nationalgeographic.com/genographic/index.html

my friend have participated in this project and have just received the results of his Y chromosome DNA Haplogroup which indicates his ancestry on the paternal line. According to this test he belongs to Y-DNA haplogroup G . This is another sign of the genetic diversity in Iran and suggests that his paternal ancestry goes back to a group of original inhabitants of the Caucasus and northwest Iran whose presence in the region predated the Turkic and Indo-European migrations.

While Haplogroup G can be found frequently as far east as among Uighurs in Eastern Turkistan, china and as far west as Sardinia and north central Italy, the main concentration of haplogroup G people is in a region which spans the whole Caucasus, north-western Iran and north eastern Turkey. This suggests that this Haplogroup probably originated in Caucasus or northwest Iran. In the southern Caucasus countries it has the largest prevalence in Georgia with about one third of the Georgian population. Its prevalence in Azerbaijan is more than 20% and is around 10% in Armenia. In Iran apart from Azeris, Gilaki people have high frequency of haplogroup G and due to the admixture of people it can also be found with lower frequencies in almost all other parts of Iran. Having mingled with Caucasian people, nomad Turk have dispersed this haplogroup and thus it can be found significantly in Eastern Turkistan, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan and all over the Turkey. It is also relatively prevalent among Ashkenzi Jews while it is almost non-existent among middle eastern Jews. This can be the influence of Khazar Turks who converted to Judaism and for sure carried much Y-DNA haplogroup G.


What does the diversity of haplogroups in Iran signify?

This diversity signifies that throughout history different groups of people have shared this land and the Iranians of today have a mixed heritage. While cultural identity is independent from the genetics, genetic mixture is an indicator of cultural mixture. As we don't have a "pure race" in the region, cultures have not remained intact either and have contributed to each other.
This has enriched our land and left us a heritage of diversity which we all should help to preserve and look after. it .The following is a link to the genetic map of the world based on DNA haplogroups: (1)

http://www.scs.uiuc.edu/~mcdonald/WorldHaplogroupsMaps.pdf

As you can see Iran has one of the most diverse genetic pools in the world. These are some of the most common haplogroups in Iran:

- Haplogroup R. This is an indicator of Indo-European ancestry. Interestingly, contrary to the common myth, only around one fifth to one fourth of the Y chromosome haplogroups in Iran are R. Haplogroup R has 2 main branches: Haplogroup R1a is shared by Indians, Iranic people, Slavs and some Turkic people. This is the dominant branch in Iran. Haplogroup R1b is shared by Celts, Germanic and Latin people. Its modest presence in Iran may be due to the Greek and Roman influence and contacts with Anatolia.

- Haplogroup J. This is a Semitic marker and contributes to about one fourth of the Iranian pool. Be aware Arab haters. We have much in common with them.

- Haplogroups C and Q are Turko-Mongolian indicators and have noticeable frequency in Iran. Interestingly almost all of native Americans belong to this two haplogroups. Genetic and historical research suggests that native Americans are relatives of Turko-Mongolian groups who crossed the Bering Strait long ago. A friend of mine from north central Iran who participated in the Genographic Project belongs to haplogroup C. (2)

- Haplogroup N is most common among the Turko-Uralic people of the North Asia such as Yakuts and Finnish People. It is a Turkic Marker in Iran.

- Haplogroup G as discussed above can be regarded as the Caucasian (3) haplogroup and has a high frequency in north-western Iran and a moderate presence in the rest of Iran.

- Haplogroup I is a Scandinavian marker but it has a noticeable presence in northern and north-western Iran. According to one theory Scandinavians migrated from what is Azerbaijan today to northern Europe.

- Haplogroup E is an African/Berber Haplogroup and has a noticeable presence in southern Iran and a moderate presence in the northern parts of the country. Its presence in Iran is a result of African contact in the Persian Gulf region and the Arab migration. Arabs shared this haplogroup due to contacts with Africa.

- Haplogroup L is a Dravidian indicator. Its noticeable presence in southern Iran may signal the influence of some ancient inhabitants.

- The modest presence of haplogroups O and K in Iran may be a result of the east Asian influence.

- There are some other minor haplogroups in Iran.


As genetic data is still scarce, further tests may shed more light on the genetic composition of Iran. I should emphasize that determining the genetic haplogroups is only out of scientific and historical curiosity and being proud of one's genes and ancestry is one of the dumbest backward things I can think of.. Basically the supremacist theories are the thing of the past. They brought nothing but disaster for people who believed in it and the rise and fall of Nazi Germany should how backward and inhuman those theories based on a pure race are. Also note that if your Y-DNA haplogroup is for instance R or J this does not mean that genetically you are totally Aryan or Arab because this only determines your paternal line (that of the father of father of father of .... your father) which is one of the thousands of your ancestry lines. Rather, Statistically speaking, if in your city or region 20% of people belong to haplogroup J, this signifies that about 20% of your genes come from Semitic ancestry.

Bearing this in mind you are encouraged to buy the Genographic kit and increase the Iranian Haplogroup database. If you are a girl, you can not find your paternal ancestry directly, because you don't have a Y chromosome. You can only Find your ancestry on your maternal line through mt-DNA testing. Therefore you'd better have your brother or father take the test for you. if you have any questions about taking the test I can help you a little bit.


-------- Footnotes

(1) Iran's presentation on this map is not precise. It seems that due to the scarcity of research, most writers refer to this article on Iran's haplogroups:

http://content.karger.com/ProdukteDB/produkte.asp?Aktion=ShowPDF&ArtikelNr=93774&ProduktNr=224250&filename=93774.pdf

Although this a a valuable research, this article has some shortcomings. Firstly, Northern Iran is underrepresented in this research. Only 35 samples were taken from northern Iran, while sample from southern Iran were more than a hundred. Secondly it's not exactly known that what is meant by the northern and southern Iran. Where exactly were the samples taken from? Thirdly ethnic boundaries have been disregarded and indeed it is not known whether non-Persians were included in the test and to what extent.

(2) I have been curious about the genetic composition of Turkic people. It seems that Turks don't represent a genetically homogeneous group. They rather represent a spectrum of hybrids. I can at least point out 3 groups: Eastern Turks, who are closer to Mongols and present a Turco-Mongolian genetic group. Haplogroups C and Q are Turco-Mongolian Markers. Northern Turks who are closer to Uralic people and together they form a Turco-Uralic genetic group. Haplogroups N is a Turko-Uralic marker. Western Turks have more mixed genetics. In addition to C, Q and N haplogroups, due to admixture with Caucasian people they share a high frequency of haplogroup G and due to admixture with Slavs and Iranic people they have a high frequency of Haplogroup R.

(3) Here by Caucasian I refer to the native people of Caucasus. This term is incorrectly used to refer to the white race. There is no evidence that all white people originated from Caucasus and genetically speaking we don't have a "White Race".

there is also another study on Iranian haplogroups which I present concisely as follows:
DUE TO ITS PIVOTAL GEOGRAPHIC POSITION, PRESENT DAY IRAN LIKELY SERVED AS A GATEWAY OF RECIPROCAL HUMAN MOVEMENTS, GENETIC STUDIES ARE USED TO EXPLAIN HUMAN HISTORY AND MOVEMENTS.
IN A STUDY FROM WHICH I REPRESENT THE RESULTS AS FOLLOWS:
IN NORTHERN IRAN, GROUP J REPRESENTS THE MOST FREQUENT HAPLOGROUP (33.33%) FOLLOWED BY GROUPS R (27.27%), G(15.15%), Q (9.09%) AND N (6.06%). SIMILARLY, IN SOUTHERN IRAN GROUP J EXHIBITS THE HIGHEST FREQUENCY (35.04%) AND IS TRAILED BY GROUPS R (25.64%), G (12.82%), E (6.84%), L(5.98%) AND K (3.42%)
Haplogroup J is found at highest frequencies in Middle Eastern and north African populations where it most likely evolved. This marker has been carried by Middle Eastern tra...ders into Europe, central Asia, India, and Pakistan. The Cohen modal lineage is found in Haplogroup J.
J1
Haplogroup J is found at highest frequencies in Middle Eastern and north African populations where it most likely evolved. This marker has been carried by Middle Eastern traders into Europe, central Asia, India, and Pakistan. The Cohen modal lineage is found in Haplogroup J*.
J2
This lineage originated in the Northern portion of the Fertile Crescent where it later spread throughout central Asia, the Mediterranean and South into India. As with other populations with Mediterranean ancestry this lineage is found within the Jewish populations.
The undifferentiated R1 lineage is quite rare. It is found only at very low frequencies in Europe, Central Asia, and South Asia. This lineage possibly originated in Europe and then migrated east into Asia.
R1a
The R1a lineage is believed t...o have originated in the Eurasian Steppes north of the Black and Caspian Seas. This lineage is believed to have originated in a population of the Korgan culture, known for the domestication of the horse (approximately 3000 B.C.E.). These people were also believed to be the first speakers of the Indo-European language group. This lineage is currently found in central and western Asia, India, and in Slavic populations of Eastern Europe.
R1b
R1b is the most common haplogroup in European populations. It is believed to have expanded throughout Europe as humans re-colonized after the last glacial maximum 10-12 thousand years ago. This lineage is also the haplogroup containing the Atlantic modal haplotyp
G
This lineage may have originated in India or Pakistan, and has dispersed into central Asia, Europe, and the Middle East. The G2 branch of this lineage (containing the P15 mutation) is found most often in the Europe and the Middle East.
G2
This lineage may have originated in India or Pakistan, and has dispersed into central Asia, Europe, and the Middle East. The G2 branch of this lineage (containing the P15 mutation) is found most often in the Europe and the Middle East.
Q
Haplogroup Q is the lineage that links Asia and the Americas. This lineage is found in North and Central Asian populations as well as native Americans. This lineage is believed to have originated in Central Asia and migrated through the Al...tai/Baikal region of northern Eurasia into the Americas.
Q3
Haplogroup Q3 is the only lineage strictly associated with native American populations. This haplogroup is defined by the presence of the M3 mutation (also known as SY103). This mutation occurred on the Q lineage 8-12 thousand years ago as the migration into the Americas was underway. There is some debate as to on which side of the Bering Strait this mutation occurred, but it definitely happened in the ancestors of the Native American peoples.

N
This haplogroup is distributed throughout Northern Eurasia. It is the most common Y-chromosome type in Uralic speakers (Finns and Hungarians). This lineage most likely originated in northern China or Mongolia and then spread into Siberia w...here it became a very common line in western Siberia.

E3a
Haplogroup E3a is an Africa lineage. It is currently hypothesized that this haplogroup dispersed south from northern Africa within the last 3,000 years, by the Bantu agricultural expansion. E3a is also the most common lineage among Afric...an Americans
E3b
This haplogroup is believed to have evolved in the Middle East. It expanded into the Mediterranean during the Pleistocene Neolithic expansion. It is currently distributed around the Mediterranean, southern Europe, and in north and east Africa.
E1 and E2
E1a and E2 are found almost exclusively in Africa, and only E1b1b is observed in significant frequencies in Europe and western Asia in addition to Africa. Most Sub-Saharan Africans belong to subclades of E other than E1b1b, while most non-Africans who belong to haplogroup E belong to its E1b1b subclade.
E1b1b
This is at once the most common Y haplogroup among Ethiopians, Somalis, Eritreans and North African Berbers and Arabs, is the third most common haplogroup in Europe. It is also common in the Near East, from where it spread into the Balkans and the rest of Europe. Eb1b1 clusters are seen today in Western Europe, Southeast Europe, the Near East, Northeast Africa and Northwest Africa.

Haplogroup K appears in West Eurasia, North Africa, and South Asia and in populations with such an ancestry. Overall mtDNA Haplogroup K is found in about 6% of the population of Europe and the Near East, but it is more common in certain of these populations. Approximately 16% of the Druze of Syria, Lebanon, Israel, and Jordan, belong to haplogroup K. It was also found in a significant group of Palestinian Arabs.[5]. K reaches a level of 17% in Kurdistan.[6]
Haplogroup L is found mainly in India and Pakistan but also in the Middle East and very occasionally in Europe, particularly in Mediterranean countries.

R1a
The R1a lineage is believed to have originated in the Eurasian
Steppes north of the Black and Caspian Seas. This lineage is believed to have originated in a population of the Korgan culture, known for the domestication of the horse (approximately 3000 B.C.E.). These people were also believed to be the first speakers of the Indo-European language group. This lineage is currently found in central and western Asia, India, and in Slavic populations of Eastern Europe,This haplogroup used to be referred to as the Aryans but this theory is abandoned by most scholars and reputed geneticists.
please do note that these haplogroups are not representatives of distinctive races. It clearly shows the path of merely the migration of homo sapiens and the distribution of groups of people through planet earth in various times and ages.

it seems to me some cannot free themselves from the racial concept. It is a pity that our people always glue themselves to the most backward ideologies and use fiction and distort facts, some even distorted the national genographic project and put references from 90thies, besides, they quote Richard MCcullogh, a crazy racist who would deport all Aryanlover Iranians from USA if he becomes a president.
I think the people who are obsessed with race issues are either racist or they just lack self esteem.
There is one planet Earth and there is one race and it is human race.
We are either bad or good .
at the end I would like to add that:
The illiterate of 21 centuries are not those who cannot read or write but those who clinch to the old fallacies. I agree with highly esteemed Dr. Zia Ebrahimi in his remark that he is not optimistic about the prospect of a dmocratic Iran, Please Dr Ebrahimi despite everything you came short to mention that there is a proverb saying people deserve what they get or you sleep where you prepare your bed . The Islamic republic or Pahalvi or Qajar dynasties are not imported from planet Mars and the future seems bleak judging from the comments.
Thank you for your effort to raise awareness and fight ignorance.


babak / August 9, 2010 4:59 AM

Please refrain from making such long-winded comments. I will have to start deleting them.

moderator / August 9, 2010 5:15 AM

Ahvaz,

I do not know Ebrahimi, but he's someone I surely would imagine having a great conversation with. I can say that I admire him because a project like this is not easy to do. I'm also a historian, albeit working almost exclusively on Modern European Intellectual History (History of Ideas in the U.K)

I am not a Freudian, in fact, I'm not sure what it would mean to be one. I am, however, a historian who takes language very seriously. Ambiguous terms are suspect; overambitious categories lead to miscegenation posing as purity (no pun intended).

So when I read something like this:

"what I would be interested in learning would be the effects of environment and events on a people's psyche and culture."

I don't understand a thing.

Who is this "people" and what makes them a "people" versus another a group of people? What does "Environment" mean here?

If your answer is simply "geography"- then you might be interested to know the history of the idea; that the connection between ways of life and geography was first asserted in Europe by Montesquieu in the 17th Century (and picked up by other notables like Rousseau in the 18th and carried on over into the 19th in anthropological discourse, especially German).


So can you say in full confidence that environment refers to a simple object that all people would immediately recognize? The influence of a river on Mesopotamian culture? The coldness of Russian climate and their "coldness" of personality? Are these not metaphors rather than ontological realities?

And "Culture" is perhaps the most problematic term. I can refer you to many interesting people who make us think differently about it's genesis and genealogy. For example, for the history of this vexed term in England, look at Raymond Williams' Culture and Society.

Put it this way, I think the importance of work such as Ebrahimi's can be realized in one of your statements:

"For example, in what way, if any did our conquest by Alexander and destruction of our cities by Mongholians effect who we are today?"

I would say the point of this work, and the type of work I try to do, is to make us re-think the "our" in that sentence. Not to rule out the possibility of saying/thinking "our", but to make us question what it, in effect, means to do so. What is the context and horizon of our understanding of "our" in that paragraph?

Unfortunately I don't find your 5 points to be provocative enough to respond to them now, but perhaps I'll find the motivation after eating this delicious cholo kabob in front of me.

What I DO find provocative is something you said much earlier:

"Unfortunately the author has only given one side of the story, which makes it a biased study with a possible agenda. A pro-IR agenda."

I try my best to resist the temptation, and it is tempting, to resort to authorial intention and sociological categorization of authors to describe the "what just happened?" moment after reading a text. So, in effect, I believe it was you, who took the "Freudian" step in trying to locate a "hidden" motivation behind these words.

I feel guilty for ending on this note, because instruction on literary theory isn't really the point. Go back and think about that "our"; and think again about categorizing the author in simple Manichaean terms of Pro-X vs. anti-Y (then again, Manichaenism is native to "our" "culture" so perhaps we are just being "authentic" to it.

Nosrat Borhani / August 9, 2010 6:22 AM

Dear Nosrat,

May I suggest you top off your "delicious cholo kabob" with a cool glass of Doogh and take a little nap? You may even come back to reality to finish Act II scene I. God almighty...

Niloofar / August 9, 2010 7:29 AM

Niloofar jan,

After reading the above posts, I see that the most labor you've put into this conversation is to allege that the author is a supporter of the IRI. Am I one too?

As for being out of touch with 'reality', yah, I think you're right. My reality is probably much different than yours. A scary concept to accept in a world with so many other people in it.

I'm a fan of Stanley Cavell's idea of criticism, that the idea of criticism is to make things available to just response. I don't think labeling the author as a supporter of the IRI does that. Nor do I have, even in the slightest bit, an idea of how you got to that idea in the first place.

But, let's see if I can try to help you/us along here.

You actually have a great point to raise: that the reference to ariya in the Darius inscription might complicate his story.

He, responded:

"It has correctly been referred to Darius' inscription in Bisotoun in which he says 'I am ariya of ariya stock'. However what I am trying to say is that it cannot be inferred that what he means by ariya is the modern concept of an Aryan race. The idea of race is modern and is formulated in scientific terms, which did not exist in Darius' time. In fact it was significantly strenghtened by Darwinism. In his 'the Idea of Iran', Gherardo Gnoli thoroughly analyses these inscriptions."


The question then turns to the idea of race: scientific fact/static vs. historical and changing (even this dichotomy may be false).

The author anticipates this objection, and wrote:

"Denying the concept of race is not a denial of physical differences between human groups. However what scientists from disciplines such as anthropology and genetics today say is that differences are very gradual, therefore placing a 'boundary' between groups (call it race or anything) can only be an arbitrary decision".

If I could revise what he said, I would add an emphasis on the arbitrary.

As a European historian, I would have to agree with the author. That "race" takes on a new meaning in the modern world. Of course physical difference exists, but the concept of race becomes is transformed, it is both accepted and contested, after 18th/19th century (scientific) discourses.

I also was trying to arrive at this point, the idea of words being transformed by their environment, by mentioning that meaning in language often depends on context and speech-situations. That the same word in one place does not mean the same in another... "Ariya" included.


Anything else?

Nosrat Borhani / August 9, 2010 8:52 AM

Dear Nosrat,


Niloofar is the Pedigreed Persian Princess of this board, the living embodiment of the Aryanist mindset Reza analyses in his article.


I hope you continue to post here.


Your comments are elegant and thought-provoking.

Ali from Tehran / August 9, 2010 9:46 AM

Reza Zia-Ebrahimi,

I don't know if you read this website regularly but this, for me, has turned out to be one of the best discussions on TB. Quite enlightening and not too many insults being thrown around - so for that I thank you.

Dear moderator - I think this has been great it would be a shame if you had to delete the longer comments especially if they shed further light on the discussion.

Agha Irani / August 9, 2010 10:51 AM

This is just to make another split in the Muslims of Asia and East were they mostly have connections with the historical Aryans who are seen as the present American duplications.

After they could not win on Persian Gulf and Arabian Gulf (American Gulf), as well as SUNNI - SHIA issues to seperate Muslims against Iran. The new wine is getting Tapped in the new bottle - Aryan - Non Aryan.

Ashiq Lukman / August 9, 2010 1:44 PM

to Ali from Tehran: thank you for your comments that I find excellent. My work is on Iranian nationalism, perhaps it will be published one day. Therefore: of course I have read Marashi and every other piece of writing remotely addressing Iranian nationalism, by necessity (and surprisingly: there isn't much). Marashi is very good I have to say.

I would also like to say that academic research must be focused in order to be sound. This short article, and the longer that it summarises, discusses the Aryan discourse in Iran. It cannot also discuss the Islamic Republic and 1001 other subjects at the same time as it would lose its consistence and become some polemic hotchpotch.

My regards to all of you.

Reza Zia-Ebrahimi / August 9, 2010 2:26 PM

Agha Irani,

You're absolutely right. But I have a feeling the cut-and-paste culprits know who I'm referring to.

moderator / August 9, 2010 6:07 PM

Reza,

I liked your last comment. It reminds me of something Gertrude Stein once said: "Not everything can be about everything".

Keep it going.

Nosrat Borhani / August 9, 2010 6:20 PM

Dear Nosrat,

Why didn't you say that in the first place?
Thank you for your input.

I have never viewed my claim for being Ariyai as racist since I do not view myself and Iranians in general as racist. However, I do claim that we are not Arabs and I resent Iran being pushed in that direction. I love my own heritage and I am very proud of it. That is my right.

Darius I inscription is a historic fact, but I would not draw a parallel between that inscription and the unfortunate modern day racist Ariyan race. There is no relevance and that is not an issue inside Iran either. In Iran as you well know the resentment is towards Arabization which has nothing to do with racism towrads the Arab people.

My last comment was not particularly about the Author. There are too many Islamists or Islamist backers posting on this website. We are a world apart and I like to keep it that way.

Niloofar / August 9, 2010 7:10 PM

This is the main issue we need to be focused on. This is what the Islamists are doing to our Iran while we are kept preoccupied with "elegant and thought-provoking comments."

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OjNydJV4Iuw

Shameful.

Wake up Iran, before it is too late.

Niloofar / August 9, 2010 7:39 PM

Reza,

No disrepsect intended, But why devote your time to Iranian nationalism?

People the world over are demanding individualism, not nationalism. Nationalism seems to be a product of the 16th-20th centuries. Almost all people are concerned with their very immediate community. These are, by far, the most important people in ones' lives.

Nationalism, in my mind, involves many detrimental effects to the individual. My most personal expierence of nationalism is the distain many of my neighbors feel for latin immigrants. I say latin, but they say, "mexican". Although, many are not from Mexico.

Anyway, many of my neighbors see this different "culture" as a threat to their "culture". I, personally, see this as a very definate plus. My neighbors claim they are "taking our jobs, and they all live together". I see this as they are hardworking and family-oriented. What is bad about that?

By trying to exclude others from your nation you are depriving your nation of the vast greatness of the humans who may have been born elsewhere. But who can provide untold greatness to the future of your nation, and culture.

muhammad billy bob / August 9, 2010 9:43 PM

Much of the professorates now publicly denies the very reality of race. Prominent anthropologist C. Loring Brace asserts, "There is no such thing as a biological entity that warrants the term 'race.'" The American Association of Physical Anthropologists announced: "… old biological concepts of race no longer provide scientifically valid distinctions…" Similarly, the American Anthropological Association proclaimed " … differentiating species into biologically defined 'races' has proven meaningless and unscientific as a way of explaining variation…”
I stick with the notion which is prevalent among most of the scientists and geneticist who say there is no race but one race, the genetic differences are small compare to the bulk of our common genome mass to make a valid division of populations into different races.
A neo-Nazi esoteric Nazi Gnostic sect headquartered in Vienna, Austria called the Tempelhofgesellschaft, founded in the early 1990s, teaches a form of what it calls Marcionism. They distribute pamphlets claiming that the Aryan race originally came to Atlantis from the star Aldebaran.

babak / August 10, 2010 12:24 AM

Dear Nosrat,

I hope you had a good weekend. To lighten the mood please allow me to start off the day by rewriting a joke I read on a T-shirt some time ago:

---Heaven is where The chef is Italian, The mechanic is German, the lover is French, the cop is English and the whole thing is ran by the Swiss.

Hell is where the chef is English, the cop is German, the mechanic is French, the lover is Swiss and the whole thing is ran by the Italian.---

I laughed for 10 minutes when I saw this T-shirt.
I hope you find some humour in it as well. I certainly wouldnt hold it against you. ;)


Your study of language as a historian is fascinating and indeed important. I think I can safely assume dissecting words like "we" and "our" has been the hot topic of many conversation with your historian friends at many fine cholo kababis.

I have to admit, I am not a historian or scholar of any kind, but rather a lowly healthcare provider. My friends and I do not talk much about the meaning of "we" or "our" or "that depends on your definition of 'is'" when we enjoy our fine persian cuisine.


By "environment", (sorry if I was too vague) i was referring to the effects of geogrophy, and climate. For example, in what way did the egyptian culture (do I dare say that word, 'culture') and religion(s) evolve and influenced by the realization that they lived in a small narrow area of fertile land surrounded by vast harsh inhospitable hot dead desert that threatened to take over and kill them any day?

Or the effects of crescent-shaped, isolated fertile valleys of parts of middle East on the cultures that evolved there.

There was a fascinating topic of conversation on NPR last year in which a panel of historian and social psychologists connected the "hello kitty" culture that covers the metros and lunchboxes of today's Japanese to the trauma of Hiroshima and defeat.

These are the connection I find fascinating, the understanding of why we are the way we are.
not so much dissecting words.


Similarly, when I asked about the possible effects of e.g. our defeat and conquest by Alexander or Mongolians and the effects of that shock on our (collective) psychology and self identity as Iranians, and wheteher those events have any effects on our today's religious rituals, world view and self-identity, I am not really asking about the definition of "we" or "our" but an actual answer or leads to a good study.


Perhaps my question should have instead been directed to a social psychologist or a historian who studies that field.


As I mentioned I am not a historian, but rather in the health field which requires mostly science classes. I was taught scientific reasoning which requires disproving hypotheysis. I am very much aware of dangers of handpicking data to justify a preconceived notion, as that work would fall victim to the presenters bias.


Historians are excellent at finding WHAT happened by/to WHOM, WHERE and WHEN. Important stuff. But history , unlike science is sometimes written by the victors and when some one reads a history article and especially an author's interpretation of history, one needs to be aware of the author's midset in their conclusion.
(Which is precisely why I find Genopgraphic studies to find migratory patterns and ancestory particularly useful. Like I said unlike our history books, our DNA does not lie)

When I read this particluar article, I did find much interesting information, and indeed did enjoy and learn from it, as I said before. But I found some of the author's (personal)interpretation and conclusion unbalanced and possibly tipped towards pro-IR agenda.
Perhaps my judgment was due to midset of someone whose country's customs and culture is under direct and constant attack by a repressive regime that wants to enforce the culture of stoning and Islamic dress code. I certainly did not intend to insult or label the author as an IR agent, and if he feels that way I do appologise. But I do feel the article was unbalanced and I hope he finds that as constructive critisism and not personal judgment.

However, My genographic citing went againt the author's hypothesis. And for that I received a toungue lashing from you (and incidently Pirouz who is a well-known mouthpiece of Ahmadinejad on this site) .
Is that how historians behave?
Instead of dicussing the migratory ancestory of Iranian people, did you not immediately judge me as a racist who implied racial superiority? Did your preconceived notion of me not lead you to your dissection of my vocabulary (which I must admit is even worse than my grammar and spelling)? Did you not "see" clues of racism in my use of the words "our" we "we"?

If you have already made up your mind about someone, you can always find the clues you are looking for.
Nosrat, People who live in glass houses should not throw stones.

Ahvaz / August 10, 2010 1:26 AM

Ahvaz,

Hey, the English have Gordon Ramsey...Wait he's Scottish, but close enough. I find German cuisine more atrocious than English. But it's close!

muhammad billy bob / August 10, 2010 2:24 AM

Mr. Zia Ebrahimi,

I don't want to get into the general idea behind your piece. As a general thesis, I agree with it to some extent.

I just have a couple of factual point however:

'Aryan' is not synonimous with 'Indo-European'. Technically, it is synonimous with Indo-Iranian. Supremecists of various shades use it to denote the European branch but before the modern era there is no record of it's usage in languages other than Indian and Iranian ones.

Shu'ubiyyah was not merely a movement in literature. Literature was merely its medium. It was a reaction against discrimination by the ruling Arabs by non-Arabs (who happened to be mostly Iranians).

Pouria / August 10, 2010 2:37 AM

As a successful populist Ahmadinejad believes in two concepts: The Armageddon of imam zaman and our Aryan heritage. For those who do not know of these facts I advise them to read following text:

Ahmadinejad: "Iranians and Germans are both part of a common Aryan race"
In the April 2006, one month before he wrote his ignominious letter to Chancellor Merkel, Ahmadinejad held a press conference at the auditorium of the presidential office in Tehran. He claimed that Iranians and Germans were both part of a common Aryan race.

Leadership principle, "Providence" and the Iranian "Mahdi"
There is another remarkable similarity between Nazi Germany and Iran. Hitler's Third Reich was entirely based on the so-called "Führerprinzip" (leadership principle). Hitler had the final say in everything. Even before the Nazi takeover in 1933, everything in the Nazi party was based on strict obedience to the word of Hitler.
The Nazi leader was a kind of Ayatollah Khamenei, incapable of erring. Indeed, Hitler can very well be compared with a religious fanatic like Khamenei. Hitler, too, believed he had a divine mission, that he was the "Chosen One" and under the protection of "Providence.
The same kind of leadership principle is found in Shia Islam, the dominant form of Islam in Iran. Iranian and Iraqi Shia Muslims believe that even after Mohammed's death, other divinely inspired leaders will have to manifest themselves and interpret divine revelation.
Khomeini's successor Ali Khamenei is referred to as "Supreme Leader", often preceded by the definite article "the". The German word for "leader" is "Führer" (also spelled "Fuehrer") , and when the Nazis referred to Hitler, they, too, added the definite article "der" (the). The masses seek and find a leader who gives them a sense of direction, a megalomaniac psychopath like Hitler (or Khamenei), who says, "I will take over responsibility.
So the analogy with Nazi Germany is obvious.
Another important aspect of Iranian Shia Islam is the concept of the so-called "Mahdi". This Mahdi is an invisible and mystical – even eschatological – religious force, which inspires and protects the leaders – roughly comparable to Hitler's concept of "Providence." At the end of time this Mahdi will establish his rule on earth. (The leadership principle and eschatology also played an important role in Zoroaster's philosophy, so there is nothing new under the sun.)
Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad stressed more than once that it was his political mission "to hand Iran over to the Mahdi at the end of his tenure as president." And "at a UN General Assembly session in 2005, he warned world leaders to be ready for the 'emergence of a perfect human being which is heir to all prophets and pious men.
It is not without reason that thousands of the Iranian youth shouts and salute German football player with hail Hitler and Nazi sign. The Aryan race of Iran is the chosen one to be led by Imama zaman and free the oppressed people of planet earth.

babak / August 10, 2010 3:46 AM

Dear Ahvaz,


I'm aware of only two books that focus primarily on Achaemenid Iran's social dynamics:


1. Persian Responses: Political & Cultural Interaction within the Achaemenid Empire
(Christopher Tulpin, Ed.)


2. The Culture & Social Institutions of Ancient Iran
(Muhammad A. Dandamaev & Vladimir G. Lukonin)


Neither one discusses the impact of the Macedonian invasion on the collective psychology of Iran. If you find a book that does, please let me know.


It was most unfortunate that your post of Aug 7 @ 5:05 AM linked to Richard McCulloch's article, 'Race: Reality & Denial'. In it, he says:


'The victim of race denial is the European races, and especially the Northern European race. ... The beneficiaries of race denial, those who want to "abolish the white race" -- in the terms of Noel Ignatiev, a long-time Marxist-Jewish activist for both Marxism and the destruction of the European races under cover of the Marxist theory that races are social classes rather than biological populations -- are non-Europeans. ... In the context in which they use the term, "white" refers only to the European peoples, and especially the Northern European peoples. There always was an ethno-racial agenda behind Marxism, and the Marxist-Jewish promoters of that agenda have caused great harm to the European peoples over the last century.'


I am certain you do not endorse McCulloch's hateful views, but when one defines national essence on a racial basis, then no matter how anodyne the intention or plausibly scientific the data, this kind of defensive, segregationist mindset will naturally ensue.


Iran is a cosmopolitan society; all of the Middle East's religious, ethnic and racial diversity are well represented here. Millions of Iranians do not, by any conceivable measure, fit the Indo-European racial category, including Arabs, Turkomens, Jews, Assyrians and even descendants of Negro slaves from the Zangi period.


For this cosmopolitan society to heal, it needs a holistic definition of self that puts all citizens on a perfectly equal footing. An ideology of nationhood that denigrates any people, culture or religion neighboring Iran perforce ends up stigmatizing some of our own compatriots and alienating an organic part of Iran's cultural heritage.


The Islamic Republic forcefully denies and supresses this reality, portraying Iranians as an undifferentiated, docile mass of devout Twelver Shias. Many of its secular opponents, also reactionary and benighted in their own way, take mental refuge in a fact-averse, elitist Aryanism, spawned during the Qajar and Pahlavi periods to assuage a deep sense of inferiority towards the West.


The regime seems impervious to logic and clearly lacks capacity for self-examination and ideological reform. Reza Zia-Ebrahimi's article was likely posted here in the quixotic hope that educated secular Iranians, at least, would have the courage and discipline to examine their own received biases more dispassionately.

Ali from Tehran / August 10, 2010 5:20 AM

As someone with a scientific approach to the race and ethnic issue and with genetic as my guide I would state without hesitation that there are not different races, I base my understanding on the work of reputed scholars and centers of science and research without bigotry, People like McClough are far from bigotry and a scientific approach, I work in the health sector and know what I am talking about. This is a national characteristic of all Iranians, we all know what we are talking about and never read or think about the texts we study.
It is wrong to talk about different races based on small variations of our massive genome. These variations are merely favourable mutations in certain environments and times. Someone has it hard to believe that 35 percent of our genetic pool is most highly common with our Arab neighbors. It is hard for some to swallow the pill of science and simply shrug off and continue to consider themselves a pure super upper race. I would have bought their argument if Iran was situated in the northern pool surrounded by massive chains of mountains and totally isolated from the world.
Unfortunately, for them and fortunate for me, we were not isolated and Iran was a crossroad of civilizations and enriched with one of the most diverse genetic pools of the human kind.
Thank you dear Dr.Ebrahimi for breaking the tabu. I believe this issue is the challenge of the 21 century for our nation and whether we will be able to move towards democracy and peace with our neighbors.

babak / August 10, 2010 5:41 AM

"Another important aspect of Iranian Shia Islam is the concept of the so-called 'Mahdi'. This Mahdi is an invisible and mystical - even eschatological - religious force, which inspires and protects the leaders - roughly comparable to Hitler's concept of 'Providence.'"
(Babak, Aug 10 @ 3.46 AM)


True, and apples are "roughly comparable" to oranges. Both are round, juicy and aromatic, grow on trees and dry out or rot if left uneaten in the pantry for too long.


The Mahdi protects reckless kamikaze drivers as well as top leaders, which is why you see so many unwieldy trucks careening down the Karaj-Tehran Freeway with 'bimeye emam zaman' written on their tailgates. It's "roughly comparable" to the 'Gott Mit Uns' slogan emblazoned on the belt buckles of Wehrmacht soldiers.


Duck! Hitler Redux incoming!

Ali from Tehran / August 10, 2010 6:08 AM

Dear Mr. Zia-Ebrahimi,

Thank you for a fascinating discussion - as a student of Achaemenid history, I welcome your caution on the interpretation of "ariya" in the Naqš-e Rostam and Bisotun inscriptions. The word clearly bore some ideological significance, as suggested by its use as a common prefix in Achaemenid era personal names (Ariabignes, Ariobarzanes, Ariaios, etc.); but it remains unclear how it was understood, and it certainly would have lacked common ground with later European racial thought. I can offer one minor correction on Old Persian in the Persepolis tablets - a single tablet in Old Persian was found and published by Matthew Stolper and Jan Tavernier in 2007; here is a link to the publication: http://www.achemenet.com/document/2007.001-Stolper-Tavernier.pdf

John Hyland / August 10, 2010 6:36 AM

Reza Joon, Professor, well said!!!!

Aryanism is truely connected to Iranians inferiority complex. Those who reject your concept is partly because it would condemn the racist attitude of the Pahlavi's. Forget the Arabs, people forget that the Pahlavi's also condemned the Afgans as inferior. They promoted a policy of distancing Iran from its neighbors and promoting a policy of importation from the west. The philosophy of Aryanism served as the ideologic background that justified Iran's total dependency on the west.

Ofcourse, regardless of the facts, those who adhere to the stupidity of Aryanism always ignore the depictions of people and kings on the walls of Persepolis which shows them all curly haired and long curly bearded-just like their European counterparts. Obviously!!!

Unfortunately for Iranians, the inferiority complex does not end with Aryanism. We see many Iranians, following the lead of Jewish imigrants, have begun to call themselves "Persian." That is a self purificating idea, part of the inferiority complex, and attempting to associate one's self with something that does not exist on any map, in an attempt to avoid uttering the word "Iran." It is part of the mentality that since the current regime in Iran is detested by the west and embraced by the people of its own neighborhood, these people see it necessary to call themselves a rediculous name like "Persian." Furthermore, the dogs of war promote the idea of "Persians are Iranians," in an attempt to promote the idea that "therefore, Azeris, Baluch, Khozestani, and Kords are not Iranians." Thus, Persianism or Aryanism serves to eventually devide Iran into pieces. But these fools are too stupid to comprehend one eternal fact: Not all Iranians are Persians, but all Persians are Iranians. And I would say, so is the rest of the middle east and the caucauses. It's only a matter of time (about a century from now)!

Pouya / August 10, 2010 11:10 AM

Ali From Tehran

"Any clue why present-day Zoroastrians in Yazd, who presumably did not inter-marry with Arabs and Turks, are visually indistinguishable from their racially-contaminated Moslem compatriots?"

That is just beautfully written. Thanks again.

Anonymous / August 10, 2010 11:16 AM

Ali from Tehran

That was me who quoted you and called it beautiful.

Pouya / August 10, 2010 11:17 AM

Please please please, stop this whole "RACE" discussion for God sake. If we were all "blond" and bla bla bla is it gonna change anything in our lives? Are you gonna go back and change the history? by the way, blonds are usually known as DUMB in western world:D

Mohsen / August 10, 2010 1:06 PM

@ Ali from Tehran, quixotic but necessary. Needless to say I'm jousting with windmills too.

Ahvaz,

I think everyone talks about the "we" and the "our". It doesn't happen through having a direct conversation.

It's not an ivory tower reflection then passed to the peons by the experts. Nor is it a conversation of middle-class intelligentsia performing their social class.

Everyone does it and makes their/our boundaries every day through speaking and through a process of inclusion/exclusion. It's subtle and passive rather than direct and active.

I wasn't trying to make it seem as if my elite team has the sole authority to hand out judgment and produce verdict.

Moving on, I think this distinction you make between "sciences" and it's other (history?) ignores the fact that science isn't some extra-worldly activity done by angels, but rather done by real concrete human existences. This is to say that the scientist isn't a saint, but a sinner and sins against their own alleged neutrality. History is of course written by the victors, but science is surely wrapped up in power-dynamics as well. Just look at the history of scientific racism. Whether it was the Aryan anthropology of the 19th century, phrenology, racist-scientific discoures condoning slavery...

An interesting anecdote: In the first half of the 20th century, the left in America was very Pro- Eugenics. In something called positive Eugenics, they promoted certain people to reproduce. Negative eugenics included forced sterilization of prisoners, the homeless, and the insane.

So.. and getting to the heart of the situation:

"Similarly, when I asked about the possible effects of e.g. our defeat and conquest by Alexander or Mongolians and the effects of that shock on our (collective) psychology and self identity as Iranians, and whether those events have any effects on our today's religious rituals, world view and self-identity, I am not really asking about the definition of "we" or "our" but an actual answer or leads to a good study. "

First, you should ask yourself, why "science" would answer that question (which inevitably assumes "how"). I think if you really ask the former, the latter disappears... and that's one of the reasons why we're not discussing migratory patterns.

Second, was there even a collective (dare I say "we") for there to even be a trauma? Or was that trauma invented? If so, when? And, why?

No historian would actually study the entire field of late antiquity until now. That type of work would be the modernists work.

I never called you a racist. I just want to think about the types of questions we're asking, what kind of methods/answer's we're giving and the relationship between the two... in this case, a conversation about science.

I also don't think he was being pro-IRI at all, and I don't like that tendency to go down that path. The same way I don't like to label every critic of the IRI as a blind monarchist.. especially because I'm engaged in a sort of critique of the IRI, but I'm not blind nor a monarchist. Nuance everywhere.

Nosrat Borhani / August 10, 2010 2:30 PM

Missing was an explanation or proof as to what iranians "looked" like from a historical perspective. Coming from a "professor" you should know you simply cannot refute a statement and say, nope, that's not the case...you have to provide some form of proof of your reasoning...and another thing, mr. Professor, it's apparent you don't like the concept "aryan" perhaps your understanding of it is mullified by the modern anti-semetic interpretation of the word? I don't think there is a concept of elite aryanism the way you spin it. The idea that Persians have a commonality with indo-europeans is not any form of self-loathing, but a clear view of historical linguistics combined with geographical interpretation. Look at language, madar = mother, father = pedar brother = baradar. These similarities cannot be quantified into anomlies to aide your warped theory. This is the power of language.

whatever / August 10, 2010 4:05 PM

It's interesting to see all these comments from people whom claim to be historians and academics, while writing articles on the main article itself all fail to discuss the following facts

1. Aryan in colloquial modern English it is often used to signify the Nordic racial ideal promoted by the Nazis. As the American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language states at the beginning of its definition, "Aryan, a word nowadays referring to the blond-haired, blue-eyed physical ideal of Nazi Germany, originally referred to a people who looked vastly different. Its history starts with the ancient Indo-Iranians, peoples who inhabited parts of what are now Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India

Friedrich Schlegel, a German scholar who was an important early Indo-Europeanist, came up with a theory that linked the Indo-Iranian words with the German word pie, 'honor', and older Germanic names containing the element ario-, such as the Swiss [sic] warrior Ariovistus who was written about by Julius Caesar Schlegel theorized that far from being just a designation of the Indo-Iranians, the word *arya- had in fact been what the Indo-Europeans called themselves, meaning [according to Schlegel] something like 'the honorable people.' (This theory has since been called into question.)

This "Nordic race" theory gained traction following the publication of Charles Morris's The Aryan Race (1888), which argued that the "original Aryans" could be identified by their blond hair and other Nordic features, such as dolichocephaly (long skull). A similar rationale was followed by Georges Vacher de Lapouge in his book L'Aryen et son rôle social (1899, "The Aryan and his Social Role"), in which the French anthropologist argued that the "dolichocephalic-blond" peoples were natural leaders, destined to rule over more brachiocephalic (short-skulled) peoples.

2. As an adaptation of the Latin Arianus, referring to Iran, 'Aryan' has "long been in English language use. Its history as a loan word began in the late 1700s, when the word was borrowed from Sanskrit ā́rya- to refer to speakers of North Indian languages. When it was determined that Iranian languages — both living and ancient — used a similar term in much the same way (but in the Iranian context as a self-identifier of Iranian peoples), it became apparent that the shared meaning had to derive from the ancestor language of the shared past, and so, by the early 1800s, the word 'Aryan' came to refer to the group of languages deriving from that ancestor language, and by extension, the speakers of those languages

Following this linguistic argument, in the 1850s Arthur de Gobineau supposed that "Aryan" corresponded to the suggested prehistoric Indo-European culture (1853–1855, Essay on the Inequality of the Human Races). Further, de Gobineau believed that there were three basic races – white, yellow and black – and that everything else was caused by race miscegenation, which de Gobineau argued was the cause of chaos. The "master race", according to de Gobineau, were the Northern European "Aryans", who had remained "racially pure". Southern Europeans (to include Spaniards and Southern Frenchmen), Eastern Europeans, North Africans, Middle Easterners, Iranians, Central Asians, Indians, he all considered racially mixed, degenerated through the miscegenation, and thus less than ideal.

3. Self designation of the Indo-Iranian languages and their speakers, viz. the Iranian and Indo-Aryan peoples, collectively known as the Indo-Iranians (still in use by some in the scholarly community for Indo-Iranian languages as a whole or for both the Indo-Aryan and Iranian branches).

The name for the Sassanian Empire in Middle Persian is Eran Shahr which means Aryan Empire. In the aftermath of the Islamic conquest in Iran, racialist rhetoric became a literary idiom during the 7th century, i.e. , when the Arabs became the primary "Other" – the anaryas – and the antithesis of everything Iranian (i.e. Aryan) and Zoroastrian. But "the antecedents of [present-day] Iranian ultra-nationalism can be traced back to the writings of late nineteenth-century figures such as Mirza Fath Ali Akhundzadeh and Mirza Aqa Khan Kermani.

Wiesehofer, Joseph Ancient Persia New York:1996 I.B. Tauris

Alal / August 10, 2010 4:15 PM

Dear Mr. Zia-Ebrahimi

Well written article, I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. It brings up a lot of important points that are needed but missing from the current political discourse on Iran. I am not as negative as you are about the potential of seeing a truly democratic Iran one day, I do agree that we have a lot of learning to do, one can immediately lose hope by seeing how people drive in Iran, constantly and consistently violating each other's rights. But I think every nation, when given a chance, can quickly learn to be democratic.

But I have one complaint (I do have more, but I will only write this one!): Why do you write:

"Observe how the German football team is even now welcomed in Iran, occasionally with enthusiastic collective Nazi salutes."

What can you provide to back that up? Where were there Nazi salutes in Iran? And how prevalent were there? As we all know, all major powerhouses in football have strong following in Iran, there are definitely more fans of Brazil in Iran than supporters of Germany. I believe this statement to some extent diminishes the message of your article.

Sincerely

Vafa / August 10, 2010 5:36 PM

Nosrat,

There may afterall be a danger in dissecting a language too much. You are so hyperfocused on technicalities and meaning of words that you are not giving me any real answers. It seems Ali from Tehran understood my questions. Why can't you?

Talking to you is like driving around an English round-about over and over and over again.
I am afraid I must move on.
good luck in your studies.

Ahvaz / August 10, 2010 8:02 PM

Iranian general political, historical and social talk is often highly influenced by this emotional and passionate characteristic of Iranian mind. Because of this many Iranian individuals lose their grasp on rational, logical and factual understanding of their contemporary problems, and blame everything simply on Islam and Arabic presence in our culture. In recent years this idea has especially been surging among some youth and not too knowledgeable because of the nature and identity of current corrupt Iranian regime, which is Islamic. Those Iranians today who rant about Persian superiority and racial privileges are usually the ones who have very limited knowledge and understanding of their country's political and social structure.

Iran was occupied and forcibly made to accept Islam. But being from a rich background and heritage that it was back then, it took what the Arabs brought and mixed it with the ancient culture and made what today is known as Shaiism (originally and even before 1979 it was really the soft and open-minded version Islam stemming from soft ancient Persian identity). Racial divisions and classifications to my knowledge has never had a high place in Iranian culture even to this date. so in my opinion it is only a more-or less recent concept in Iran and amongst a minority of uneducated. if ancient Iran was a glorious multicultural global empire with soft and hard power that transcended its original borders, post-islamic Iran was the Iran of literature, poetry and science whose contribution went beyond the Middle East and Islamic world....

As the writer correctly points out, the notion of Aryanism is a lame and naive attempt to blame others and bypass much of recent Iranian/Islamic history and accomplishments that also shape today Iran's identity and only focus on the ancient and more distance Persian past. All of our 2500 years of history has contributed to us being what we are today.

Sam / August 10, 2010 8:25 PM

I don't understand the aria phobia or "Iran"phobia here?

Best proof is from the Sassanian era the country with all her demographic variety has been called "Eran(Iran) Shar"or Arian Empire (does ShahrYar - Emperor - make sense to any of you?), she has also been known as Eran(Iran) Zamin, and the people have been calling themselves Irani (Erani, Aryai)

now some sick maniac racist in Europe abused this word in context of the "Nordic" people, so what? why should that stop me to be ashamed of what i truly must call myself?

what's wrong to show the world the true meaning of it and be proud of who "we" are ( Nosrat, do i dare use this word without being attacked?) regardless of what ever religion? can't one be a Muslim Arian(Iranian)?

good or bad this is what i believe and this is what I'll be calling myself

IRANI meaning Aryaii

Alal / August 10, 2010 9:52 PM

Ahvaz,

You may be right, that dissecting a language too much can produce a sort of dizzyness. And if that's the feeling I gave you then I think it's been worth it all along because I'm perpetually dizzy and I think that's an ethical posture above all else. The risk of this, of course, is quietism in the face of an imminant danger. Yet I think we do have the luxury of dizzyness for now.

I particularly like this quotation of Franz Kafka:

"All human errors are impatience, a premature breaking off of methodical procedure, an apparent fencing-in of what is apparently at issue."

And I think I do understand your question, but at the same time, I think that the question may have tacit assumptions that need to be questioned. It may have a sort of "are you still beating your wife?" fallacy built into it.

@ Alal. I'm not sure if the way it was originally used is the "true" meaning of what it means to be Iranian; it's surely one of the meanings but I don't know how we could ever say it's the "true". I'm suspicious of "origins" and "authentics".

The idea that we've always been "Aryan" and then some maniacs took the word and warped it, and now we can't use it, is, I think an incorrect view. "Aryan", just as "Iranian" was invented just as American, French, German identity were invented.

The argument is that the re-entering of "Aryan" into our conversation happened in a messy context in the 19th century. There is a huge rupture in the way the word was used between antiquity to now.

I'm not sure that my great great great grandfather had an understanding of being Iranian the same way that my grandfather did and me and my father do.

So the question is, what was the context of this invention? As Ebrahimi has shown, it has a messy history.

What I would want to say is that history is further implicated in certain situations today that beg investigation.

I'll re-enter something I said before...

This isn't said to rule out the possibility of saying/thinking "our" ("Aryan"?), but to make us question what it, in effect, means to do so. What is the context and horizon of our understanding?

And, to think about who the intended audience of saying "aryan" is.

Just some thoughts.

Nosrat Borhani / August 10, 2010 11:04 PM

I'd also like to share another quotation with the highly intelligent readers and commenters of TB. It's by a Historian from NYU who I greatly admire and who just passed away last week after a nasty battle with Lou Gehrig's disease.

This is from an interview he conducted a few years back:

"There is a quote from Camus that particularly captures my sense of what the historian has to do in order to be honest with himself. If I can remember the quote, at one point Camus said: “If there were a party of those who are not sure whether they are right, that would be the party I would be a member of.” I admit to being an opinionated stylist, but I try to cultivate the sense that I’m not quite sure that I am right. The historian must have a measure of intellectual humility. "

-Tony Judt (R.I.P)

Dizzyness created through a serious grammatical investigation of language, is to me, belonging to a party of those who are not sure whether they are right.

Nosrat Borhani / August 10, 2010 11:08 PM

I'm also interested in what our fellow Iranians, of Jewish background, would think about this article and the comments.

I'm trying to think of what a Jewish response to this article would look like, but it's difficult to imagine.

Nosrat Borhani / August 10, 2010 11:20 PM

Dear Ali from tehran,


Thank you for the references. I will look into them.
Unfortunately I do not know of any books on the subject either, but I hope people have studied these cause and effects, the same way people have studied the environmental impact of ancient Egypt on their civilization or Hiroshima on Japan (or even US invation of Iraq). So it is a matter of finding the material and asking the right person who is knowledgable in the field, and understands the point of the question.


The only work on the topic I know is a program I saw on PBS years ago, an 8hour documentary about Alexander. It was absolutely fascinating.
But what blew me away was the historian's suggestion that Iranians and in general Shiaa's Ashoora mourning rituals, including Sineh zani, Zanjeer zani, etc is actually Iranians display of mourning of the defeat and humiliation of their empire at the hands of our archenemy, the Greeks.

He said that the shock was so traumatic, the humiliation so severe, the defeat so shockingly fast and complete, and scars left on Iranians so deep and painful, that even today Iranians mourn it annualy in form of Arbaeen Ashoora.

Now that is a shocking statement by a historian. At first I contributed it to his ignorance of Islam and Shiaa religion or his attempts to sensationalize Alexander (though I did not get that feel during any other part of the documentary).

I doubt his linkage of our empire's defeat to Iranians mourning ritual of the defeat in battle and death of Prophit Muhammad's Grandson are correct.
But I must admit he does have a point. How can such a humiliating and shocking defeat not effect Iranian psyche, world view and self-identity.

And what about our defeat and subjigation by the Monghols and Arab/ Moslems? Or British colonialism? Did those events play any role in how we Iranians are who we are today?

(elite scholars, please spare me "that depends on your definition of 'we'")?

What about the awareness that we once had a mighty empire that stretched from India to Africa? Does that knowledge somehow effect our attitude towards our current neighbors that once were part of our empire? Does that effect how we see our neighbors today and how they see us? Does it effect our foreign policy (of Shah and IR)?


These are questions I find fascinating.


Regarding the question of race, the fact that Iran today is a melting pot of many ethnicities, religions and languages, is self-evident and frankly not particularly groundbreaking.

Please note that I cited the ancestory of Indoeauropean people, including Hindi, Farsi, Turk, Kurd, Urdu and latin based speaking people as Kurgans not Aryans. In fact I never used the word Aryan.
The unfortunate reacion of some and their accusations or implications of racism and Aryaee superiority complex(no mater how much they try to backtrack) simply because I cited a factual historical and scientific study is very telling.

Afterall wouldnt some one poopoos the Arabs and pushes for Aryan or Ariayian superioity not want to also attemptto distant himself from Afghans and Hindis, other Indoeauropean speaking people?

I only hope that they use better critical reasoning and logic in their field of study.

Again thanks for the references. I do enjoy our conversations.

Ahvaz / August 10, 2010 11:49 PM

Nosrat jan,

I am sorry to hear about your "perpetual dizziness".
The funny thing about vertigo, is that we think the world is spinning around us, but in fact it is us who is aimlessly spinning.

Just ask anyone who is perpetually chasing their own tail.


Ahvaz / August 11, 2010 1:05 AM

Most words are culturally and politically loaded and they tend to change meaning in time and by context. It happens a lot that words that belong to a specific historic context, are taken out and reused to reevaluate a completely different situation. This is where the confusion begins! Being 'Irani', or in another dialect, 'Aryan', has different meanings for different social groups and has had different meanings for people over the ages. Perhaps we can never learn the internalised meaning that being an Aryan had for Darius I in the context of the society of that time. Ferdowsi,though, doesn't seem to be so conflicted by the concept of what being an Irani means.
In present time, when the divisive culture of accentuation of ethnicity and difference is so widespread, I try not to be too hard on a group of people, who, feeling oppressed, misplaced and dispossessed because of the IR, try to assert themselves by digging out this problematic word and reuse it. After all words are just conventions to convey meanings to all. When such a Loaded and ambiguous word is being recycled, I can only look at the sentiment it tries to convey. And I don't find racism, or feelings of superiority, only an attempt at assertion of the self and identity. Misguided, yes, maybe, controversial, apparently, but, racist I don't think so.

wanderer / August 11, 2010 1:11 AM

Dear Ahvaz,


I believe the PBS series you refer to is "In the Footsteps of Alexander", originally a BBC production.


It's only 4 parts:


Ep1: Son of God
Ep2: Lord of Asia
Ep3: Across the Hindu Kush
Ep4: To the Ends of the Earth

Ali from Tehran / August 11, 2010 2:17 AM

Excellent post Wanderer.

Any ideas of of what that sentiment is and what it's trying to convey? That is, what is the self and the identity that it is trying to say?

Nosrat Borhani / August 11, 2010 2:31 AM

Dear Wanderer @ 1:11 AM,


In the Naghsh-e-Rustam inscriptions, Darius the Great refers to himself as "an Aryan, having Aryan lineage."


In the Behistun inscription, he says: "Besides, it was in Aryan, and on clay tablets and on parchment it was composed."


So, presumably, Aryan referred to both a lineage and a language which is now called Old Persian.

Ali from Tehran / August 11, 2010 2:34 AM

Ahvaz,

I see you're a fan of a history channel version of history, one that's catered more to an audience who wants the awe of pondering without the difficulty of questioning. An audience who is more in it for the entertainment rather than living the ethical implications. If it's really history that you're after, then you'd be dizzy.

You're much dizzier than you think. By even being here, you're granting yourself the opportunity of becoming dizzy.. but perhaps dizzy isn't the best metaphor. No, not all. I don't think it conforms with an upper-middle class aesthetic of stability. A vision where stability is the only place where real knowledge is produced.

Doctors need to be stable to operate. A shaking of the hands is bad. But a shaking of assumptions is what makes inquiry like this even possible. Please keep your techno-instrumental linear view of the world in the workplace. Out here, in the real world, we realize that life isn't so stable at all. Whether it's students in Tehran universities or Uyghers in China.

In any event, you don't have to apologize for my dizzyness. It's only when we come to a full stop of thinking that we move into a dangerous comfort; at best, reaffirm the status quo, or at worst, violently force our ideas on others.

Nosrat Borhani / August 11, 2010 3:15 AM

Ali from Iran.

Thanks for the clarification.
If you come across any books or works on that topic I would love to hear it.


Ahvaz / August 11, 2010 4:54 AM

@ Nosrat

""...The idea that we've always been "Aryan" and then some maniacs took the word and warped it, and now we can't use it, is, I think an incorrect view. "Aryan", just as "Iranian" was invented just as American, French, German identity were invented...""
hows that?
that's what I'm trying to say all along, the people from a certain area are called by that area,

""...The argument is that the re-entering of "Aryan" into our conversation happened in a messy context in the 19th century. There is a huge rupture in the way the word was used between antiquity to now. ..""
yes i know and agree, again why should this stop me as referring myself to the ethnic name my ancestors used to, which in particular through time has changed to the pronunciation of "Irani"

Haven't you read my first comment?
seems you haven't, or you're just replying just because you like to see yourself comment, the reason I'm opposing to this article is not that i believe in aryan as a racial term, or the blond,
blue eyes of Nazi propaganda, but because of how he judges his fellow country men by one's comment, (Reza Aslan's). how can one be so sure (right or wrong), without doing a major genetic research?

by the way i find your sarcasm towards other people especially ahvaz extremely annoying, good for you and your academic studies, seems you have no idea how to debate other then picking on words..!! and don't forget to update us on your irritating food menu...!!

@wanderer
it seams you haven't read my first comment either, please do so, you'll get your answer

@all

maybe the following explanation can help to explain my definition of what i see as "Irani", the new pronunciation of what is believed to be "Ariyayi" (aryan in english, arianus in latin and ...)

The Old Iranian term has solely an ethnic meaning.[1] and there can be no doubt about the ethnic value of Old Iran. arya (Benveniste, 1969, I, pp. 369 f.; Szemerényi; Kellens)[2] The name Arya lives on in the ethnic names like Alan, New Persian Iran, Oss. Ir/Iron[3]
The name Iran, Iranian is itself equivalent to Arya/Aryan, where Iran means “land of the Arya” The name Iran has been in usage since Sassanid times[4]

The Avesta clearly uses airya as an ethnic name (Vd. 1; Yt. 13.143-44, etc.), where it appears in expressions such as airyāfi; daiŋˊhāvō “Iranian lands, peoples,” airyō.šayanəm “land inhabited by Iranians,” and airyanəm vaējō vaŋhuyāfi; dāityayāfi; “Iranian stretch of the good Dāityā,” the river Oxus, the modern Āmū Daryā.[2] Old Persian sources also use this term for Iranians. Old Persian which is a testament to the antiquity of the Persian language and which is related to most of the languages/dialects spoken in Iran including modern Persian, Kurdish, Gilaki and Baluchi makes it clear that Iranians referred to themselves as Arya.

The term "Ariya" appears in the royal Old Persian inscriptions in three different context:

1) As the name of the language of the Old Persian version of the inscription of Darius the Great in Behistun;

2) as the ethnic background of Darius in inscriptions at Naqsh-e-Rostam and Susa and Xerxes in the inscription from Persepolis and

3) as the definition of the God of Arya people, Ahuramazda, in the Elamite version of the Behistun inscription

The Old Persian and Avestan evidence is confirmed by the Greek sources”.[2] Herodotus in his Histories remarks about the Iranian Medes that: “These Medes were called anciently by all people Arians; “ (7.62). In Armenian sources, the Parthians, Medes and Persians are collectively referred to as Aryans.[5] Eudemus of Rhodes apud Damascius (Dubitationes et solutiones in Platonis Parmenidem 125 bis) refers to “the Magi and all those of Iranian (áreion) lineage”; Diodorus Siculus (1.94.2) considers Zoroaster (Zathraustēs) as one of the Arianoi.[2]

Ref
1. G. Gnoli,“Iranic Identity as a Historical Problem: the Beginnings of a National Awareness under the Achaemenians,” in The East and the Meaning of Histoy. International Conference (23-27 November 1992), Roma, 1994, pp. 147-67
2. G. Gnoli, "IRANIAN IDENTITY ii. PRE-ISLAMIC PERIOD" in Encyclopedia Iranica.
3. Schmitt, Rüdiger (1989), "Aryan", Encyclopedia Iranica, 2, New York: Routledge & Kegan Paul
4. D.N. Mackenzie, "ĒRĀN, ĒRĀNŠAHR" in Encyclopedia Iranica
5. R.W. Thomson. History of Armenians by Moses Khorenat’si. Harvard University Press, 1978. Pg 118, pg 166




Alal / August 11, 2010 6:15 AM

Nosrat stated ""
I'm also interested in what our fellow Iranians, of Jewish background, would think about this article and the comments. I'm trying to think of what a Jewish response to this article would look like, but it's difficult to imagine..""

??... what part of my comments did you misunderstand?...

just to make it clear, this ethnic back ground (Aria) has nothing to do with religion, including Judaism.! when it's mentioned in history those people happened to be Zoroastians, so i find it absolutely wrong to mix religion with ethnics, which Jews happen to do repeatedly; some one has to remind them they are Semitic people just like their brothers whom hate so much, yes i mean Arab Muslims and in particular the Palestinians..anyhow this is another topic and i don't intend to enter.

Alal / August 11, 2010 9:07 AM

Nosrat stated ""
I'm also interested in what our fellow Iranians, of Jewish background, would think about this article and the comments. I'm trying to think of what a Jewish response to this article would look like, but it's difficult to imagine..""

just to make sure, this ethnic back ground has nothing to do with religion including Judaism.! but just in the case when is mentioned those people happened to be Zoroastians, so i find it absolutely wrong to mix religion with ethnics, which Jews happen to do repeatedly some one has to remind them they are Semitic people just like their brothers whom hate, yes i mean Muslims and in particular the Palestinians..well this is another topic.

Alal / August 11, 2010 10:21 AM

So an Iranian moves to Westwood and greets his next door neighbor.

Conscious of being nouveau riche and a social climber, the first time he sees his neighbor, and before even introducing himself, he says:

"We are equal, you have a Mercedes and so do I. We are equal"

The second time he sees his neighbor he says:

"We are equal, you have a masters degree, I have a masters degree. We are equal."

The third time he sees his neighbor, he walks up to him in with a strut. With a skip. Happy and delighted with a smirk across his face. And he says to him:

"We are not equal my friend"

"How do you figure"? Replies the neighbor.

"Your neighbor is Iranian, my neighbor, however, is American".

It's kind of like that.


Nosrat Borhani / August 11, 2010 11:03 AM


Dear Moderator
please print this comment too, i really don't understand why when it comes to discuss Jews we always end up in censorship ??

I happen to be from a Jewish family living aboard and i want my comments for all to see, please

Nosrat states: ""
I'm also interested in what our fellow Iranians, of Jewish background, would think about this article and the comments.

I'm trying to think of what a Jewish response to this article would look like, but it's difficult to imagine.""

well just a to make it clear ethnic background has nothing to do with religion, as also for the Jewish religion, those people from Israel are from the Semitic family of humans, like Arabs, Assyrians and Aramaeans,

which the Arabs happen to be mainly Muslims(Sunni) and Assyrians(Christians)...but all are the same ethnic

so what does religion has to do here I don't know..?!...anyhow this is not a topic to be discussed here so I will not continue

Alal / August 11, 2010 11:09 AM

Are we, too, guilty of the same sins we are attributing to others?! Are we hooked on the idea of Aryans being blonde and blue-eyed, too? but, surely isn't that a part of Nazi propaganda and a political construct with specific aims at a specific time?
I'm not an anthropologist nor a linguist. Has it been established that the Aryan migrating tribes were blonde and blue-eyed? I've never come upon literature with definitive proof. If you have, please inform me. For all I know, in all Persian poetry the ideal of beauty has always been, hair the colour of 'shabgh' and complexion the colour of the moon. Being so preoccupied with colour is a sign of mild racism and lack of self confidence. Isn't it?!
In a scholarly work, published in Iran around 2 or 3 years ago the author's hypothesis was that the Aryans were not migrating tribes, but, were the native people of the plateau. How about that?!
I have not noticed 'Aryanism' a major concern of people in Iran; generally they see themselves different to Arabs; and the differentiation is, I suspect, more cultural than racial. Racial stance is found more outside of Iran as an 'explanation', and I suspect, a reaction in the face of general ignorance of Iran's heritage, especially post IR.
I guess if the country had adopted Arabic language 1400 years ago, we would have been called Arab now, too. Were Egyptians or Lebanese Arabs? No! But, they are now! Iranians are particularly proud of their heritage and the only time they felt completely conquered, not just physically, but, culturally too, was by Islam, and hence, the grudge.
Dear Alal
I'm entirely too private to need to see my comments anywhere, and surely too new to this debate to deserve snides! The only attraction was the quality of the debate!

wanderer / August 11, 2010 1:31 PM

@ Wanderer
if you had read my first comment, which i asked you to, you could have saved yourself of commenting, and me of assuming you're either unable to understand what I've written or ignorant

copied from mu first comment

""...1. Aryan in colloquial modern English is often used to signify the Nordic racial ideal promoted by the Nazis. As the American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language states at the beginning of its definition, "Aryan, a word nowadays referring to the blond-haired, blue-eyed physical ideal of Nazi Germany, originally referred to a people who looked vastly different. Its history starts with the ancient Indo-Iranians, peoples who inhabited parts of what are now Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India..""

Alal / August 11, 2010 3:40 PM

@Nosrat

meaningless as usual, what are second and third generations of Iranian migrants in US? or anywhere else?

who are Americans? Anglo Saxon migrants or Native Americans?

as i said meaningless as usual..!!

Alal / August 11, 2010 3:45 PM

I feel there is alot of under achieved people who can't understand what I'm saying

so :

1. Aria, Ayan, Arianus, Airya, Erani, all refer to Irani. or Indo-Iranian people

2. Th words Stated above are NOT, again insist are NOT blond with blue eyes, the Nazi Germans cheated...used the word, interpreted it into the "noble Race" and defined the NORDIC race as the ideal/noble race..

3. I believe this is the fact and must be introduced as the proper meaning of that word, and reintroduced, as self identifying solely to reflect our IRANIAN, culture and history REGARDLESS of ANY religion

i can't say it any easier..!!

Alal / August 11, 2010 6:31 PM

The only way to truly tell, rather than hypothesize and be verbose to the n^th degree, is to conduct a genetic sampling of people of Greater Iran and the region to compare and contrast with those living in NW Europe. That will be the QED. Until that time, everyone has their own theory. And you know what they say about theories?

Alireza / August 11, 2010 6:41 PM

"American-Iranian author Reza Aslan asserted that, indeed, Iranians were Aryans. "If we went back in time 1,700 years to the mythological era," Aslan said, "all Iranians would look like Jake Gyllenhaal.""
(Extract from article above)


Indeed, and Iranian-Iranian know-it-all [and TB gadfly] Ali from Tehran added, "if we went even further back in time 1,900 years to the MIUAYGA (Make-It-Up-As-You-Go-Along) era, all Iranians, girls included, would look like Andy Dick."

Ali from Tehran / August 11, 2010 8:06 PM

Dear Alal,

No, I dont think you can make it any easier that your August 11, 2010 6:31 PM post.

But undoubtedly, some will still label you. But you are not too worried about that, are you?

Thanks for the posts. Very informative.
I am relieved I can safely say "I want to raise my American-born children aware of their Aria, Ayan, Arianus, Airya, Erani, Irani heritage" without being called a biggot by some elitist scholar.


I also donot intend to hide my Ariaii, Ayanii, Arianus, Airyaii, Erani, Irani heritage because of some D----bag in 1930s. If someone wants to do that, go ahead. But instead of hiding our heritage in fear of using a "loaded word", (as Wanderer suggested) we should be concerned about educating the public about the BIG difference between Irani Ariaee and Nazis Aryan nation.


Finally, the motivation of anti-Aryaee'sm of some in light of the current anti-Aryaee/anti-Irani and islamification/Arabization by Iranian regime should be examined and discussed.


Ahvaz / August 11, 2010 9:46 PM

http://www.scs.uiuc.edu/~mcdonald/WorldHaplogroupsMaps.pdf
The above mentioned map of the genetic clearly shows that Iran is one of the richest sources of human genome. Talking about Iranians as a mono ethnic society is not consistent with science or reason. It is hard for some to believe this very obvious fact. However, genetic studies and the current composition of Iranian society clearly erase any doubt that Iran is a cosmopolitan society. Categorizing Iranians into an Aryan race paves only the road to future ethnic conflicts. We live in 21 centuries and the free flow of information and science will not allow some to define faked identity for the Iranian society. The most abundant haplogroup is the J haplogroup which has its origin in the middle east, J2 is found abundantly in Iran. You do not need to be a geneticist to look at the map and draw the obvious conclusion. We have much in common with our neighbors and among ourselves.

Babak / August 11, 2010 9:53 PM

@ alal (6:31 PM)

"3. I believe this is the fact and must be introduced as the proper meaning of that word, and reintroduced, as self identifying solely to reflect our IRANIAN, culture and history REGARDLESS of ANY religion

i can't say it any easier..!!"

I just want to repeat that this way of thinking rests on the assumption that the correct way ("proper") to approach this word is to look at how it was used in antiquity. All other meanings are discarded and/or ignored.

I'm not denying that original meaning. However, we need to look at its history and transformation and what it means in different contexts. If we do so, the most proximate definition (hard to approximate however) arising in the 19th century takes precedence in, and has more weight on, our understanding of it's use today than the usage in antiquity.

Elevating an "original" and discarding its subsequent transformations over time is not only ignoring history (one's own history) but also a suspect rhetorical strategy.

I'll make one final post later, in a final bombast of self-immolation, and bid adieu.

Nostrat Borhani / August 11, 2010 10:49 PM

RE SKIN color,


I think the comments some make about facial features and skin/eye pigmentation of people is partly caused by their (understadable, but unfortunate) lack of understanding of gene expression.


e.g. There are genes that determine eye pigmentation (eye color) and there are other genes that control how those genes are expressed, and they can sort of "turn it on or off" depending on the new physical environment. This is called adaptation and can happen very very quickly, as in the case of aborigines of Australia I mentioned whose skin turned from light to dark when they migrated to Oceana.


It is totally possible that Indoeuropean ancestors had DARKER skin and eye color and the ones that migrated to Europe became lighter and expressed pigmentation differently.
Or it could have worked the other way around; they had LIGHT color and blue/green eyes and the ones that moved South became darker.
May be both. Probably both.

Attribution of skin color or facial and physical features of people to their ancestory or genetic make up is a mistake. Is that not the same thing Nazis did when they linked skull shape, skin/eye color, nose shape, and ear location to "purity" of a certain race?

Genetic studies disprove the whole notion of race based on physical features. That is the beauty of genetics and genography. The more we study it, the more we learn how unimprotant, trivial and irrelevant CURRENT expression of color and facial features are.


So it is ironic that SOME are threatened by science and geneographic studies, and want to bury scientific knowledge in fear of potential ramifications. Perhaps they are afraid the findings will be inconsistant with their ideology.


Thanks Ali from Iran,

that statement from Aslan "all Iranians would look like Jake Gyllenhaal" is truely laughable.
Be weary of some one who says "ALL IRANIANS".

It is very telling that he did not say 1700 years ago, 'Jake Gyllenhaal would look like All Iranians'. Some kind of racial inferiority complex perhaps? Not sure. Ignorance of gene expression. For sure.


Alireza,

I agree.

National Geography "your genetic Journey":

https://genographic.nationalgeographic.com/genographic/index.html

Or see babak / August 9, 2010 4:59 AM

Ahvaz / August 11, 2010 11:03 PM

For those who would like to know the opinion of a Jew on this subject, Gore vidal's "Creation" might be an answer. It could possibly appease almost everybody!
The only thing I said was trying too much to assert one's ethnicity and race in this world of ours is divisive, and I agree with Babak, that it's also not so much scientific in this case. We need more integration and harmony.
Of course, we should teach our children about their heritage, but should also be careful not to fall into the trap of equation of identity with race; there's much more to identity. We can't bypass 23 centuries to connect ourselves directly to Darius. If Darius I claimed to be an Aryan, and perhaps rightfully so, we should now know better not to do the same after the passage of so many different peoples through his land!

wanderer / August 12, 2010 12:17 AM

Dear Wanderer @ 12:17 AM,


Excellent points in your post above, but I must nitpick (by nature):


1. Gore Vidal is eminently knowledgeable, a no-nonsense iconoclast and a fantastic wordsmith. In my mind, he's a cross between Irving F. Stone and H.L. Mencken. But Vidal isn't Jewish, so how can he provide the perspective we seek?


2. If you go back 23 centuries only, you are far more likely to "connect directly" with the business end of a Macedonian sarissa than with Darius the Great. Better be safe than sorry; go back a full 25 centuries to meet Darius - and give him my very best regards.

Ali from Tehran / August 12, 2010 2:12 AM

I don't understand what you still consider to be the significance to the first piece Alal?

All you did is quote. Quotation itself is not enough. Weave your facts into a narrative and then we might get somewhere.

Before I continue, let me say that I don't like that kind of speech either. As I said, I like the idea of criticism as an activity that "makes things available to just response". That type of speech between Ahvaz and I makes me feel disingenuous. But ethos is ethos, and sometimes the mask of the jester must be worn. Especially when your interlocutor presents themselves as the voice of middle class Iranian reason. I have no way of emulating the social position of monsieur doctor in my language. So when middle class Iranian reason attacks, and then puts on the facade of a street fighter, I'll become a little creative with my style.

Look, I read your response very carefully Alal... and I think I anticipated that objection from the beginning. I think that you misread my argument, because the weight of what I was saying isn't in what you quoted, but actually the line directly after until the end (@ 11:04), although I've also said it earlier.

Boiling things down into analytical propositions isn't my style, but I suppose I'll try:

I encourage a few gestures:

1) don't assume that time is non-stop linear motion and flows from some imagined beginning until now (yes, imagined). Think about the idea that there are breaks in history. This is my main problem with Ahvaz's idea that somehow events in antiquity effect today in a nice neat motion. That somehow Alexander's conquest has an effect on the Shah's foreign policy?! Maybe you can play with that through metaphor, but that's it- it would be poetry. Anything else is laughable. It's like that Pascal quotation that ""Cleopatra's nose, had it been shorter, the whole face of the world would have been changed". Again, breaks in history.

2) These breaks can often highlight that words are used differently in different places and have different meanings in different places.

3) For our conversation, when the word comes back, it comes into a messy moment where it was mired in racist discourses.

Reza seems to stop here. And when he does, he allows you to ask, "why would that stop me from using the same word as my ancestors?" (which is a great question and a good point of interrogation).

For Reza, it's very presence in that moment in 19th century taints our understanding and usage today. I know he presented a paper at a conference in LA recently, so I'm sure he elaborated more there. He's being a good historian. I'm not. I'm trying to have it cast down on our present in a stronger way. He hints at it when he connects the self-orientalization of yesteryear with the inferiority complexes of today, but I don't think the implications of it are fleshed out..

They aren't fleshed out because it's not just that it was abused in the 19th century and WWII but it's all fine now. It hasn't stopped being a messy word.... and NOT just by Neo-Nazis, but also by educated middle class Iranians. THIS is the heart of the issue. I repeat, the issue isn't the fact that it's abused by some people and we want to reclaim it's neutrality. It's that we want to claim it's neutral but there is something much more insidious happening.

4) So then, let's not stop in the 19th century. What does it do now? What is our context of understanding ourselves as "Aryan"?

I think whereas in the early 20th century it was merely self-orientalization (inferiority). Now, it's a self- orientalization coupled with a deep and violent message.

That the term Aryan re-appeared in language and was fundamentally transformed in an unholy alliance with that racist German discourse excludes Iranian-Jews from our history. Something I find repugnant.

But let's continue. It's also anti-semetic in the broader sense in that it's pitted against a general "arabness". This excludes Iranian-Arabs (those in Ahvaz as it so happens), but also constructs Islam as something simply Arab and non-Iranian. It ends up excluding all of the religious Iranians (those who may be on the other side, as unpleasant of a prospect as it is)… more on this later

If we subscribe to this view of history, they are considered treasonous; working with the "other". It should not be forgotten that many countries execute for treason. This is a serious point. A more lighter point is that all of the accomplishments and fine points of Iranian history between the 7th and 21st century are also excluded… as are OUR ancestors. Something I think Wanderer stressed on.

The arab ends up representing the "brown" whereas we, exalted Iranians, demand inclusion into the "white". However, the "brown" is extended and excludes the rest of central Asia, excludes the "otherness" of Pakistanis, of Afghanis, etc. We have no relationship with them. We are European. We have come to believe this myth SO STRONGLY that we now lash out at the "primitives" now…just as the Europeans did. Iranian racism towards Afghans is one of the most disgusting things I've ever witnessed.

When we do think about our central asian neighbors, it's always as vassals in our "mighty empire". Let's face it. Iranian racism needs to be a discussion that we never stop having as we continue to construct our modern identities.

In a sense, it seems that the Aryan therefore is far from neutral, and becomes so overdetermined, that it ends up cannibalizing itself and destroying that inclusive/universalism that we allege that other indicators don't possess.

To ask for genetic testing, migratory patterns, and cite linguistically categories to say that Iranians are closer to Europeans is ridiculous. And a passing comment... are we really using antiquity as a model for nationalism? Using antiquity as a model for responding to modern questions is just as stupid as the medievalism of Islamic theocracy.

One of my points for bringing up the anti-Islam is that we are creating no room for reconciliation at all. Iranians (diaspora and vatan) are so divided and heading in two different trajectories. Democracy in Iran is far far away and not just because of the alleged lack of enlightenment of our religious compatriots. Yes, there are many many many problems with the thinking of the theocrats and their supporters. But I entertain the idea that our way of thinking, our cunning of reason, can be quite dangerous because our shosteshoo is trying to present itself as a benevolent goftegoo.

I do not say this to imply that anyone here is a racist "person", but that when we say these things, we are in fact drawn into racist categories of thought and we are effectively poisoning the well of any future understanding of what it may mean to be who we are. Which, to me, forecloses many possibilities of democracy in Iran, amongst many other things.

And let me conclude by apologizing for that aforementioned spewing of verbiage (namely between Ahvaz and I). It is simply a posture to drive a point, it's felicity is to be determined.

Good commenting people. Keep it going.

Nosrat Borhani / August 12, 2010 3:01 AM

@ Ahvaz

Thank you for your August 11, 2010 9:46 PM post..
I totally agree that it is our (Iranians) responsibility to educate/inform the public as you mentioned by defining the difference of what we believe Aryan means/comes from and the Nazi Aryanism racism;
also to pass on this knowledge to our next generations where ever on earth we live, and regardless what ever passports we hold, it's after all who we are now/today, surly after a generation or two it will be irrelevant...(this is completely a personal matter and i wish all to keep it to ourselves), ..American/Italians are the best sample but eventually after two, most three generations they're "Americans" and can't even find Italy on the map..

""...Genetic studies disprove the whole notion of race based on physical features. That is the beauty of genetics and genography. The more we study it, the more we learn how unimportant, trivial and irrelevant CURRENT expression of color and facial features are..""

couldn't have said it better
thank you


@all
also agreeing with Alireza and Babak, if the "what did they actually look like?" , is so important there should be a major genetic study, ...

so it seems after a couple of bumps everyone has come to the same page

nice knowing you all

Regards

Alal / August 12, 2010 3:50 AM

Dear nosrat

finally i read something from you that i wished have read earlier, yes i do agree with what you're saying and i hear your message, but from my nature i like to find practical ways to challenge and solve these issues, the only way i know is not by ignoring or criticising the people whom unknowingly or knowingly use the "word" "Aryan" , or to label people whom you don't know as "middle class" (which also i find extremely discriminating, and at the same extend of racism). but to educate people with mutual respect

one of my main obligations(personal) is also the racism towards afghans in Iran, (i happen to be in humanitarian to help them refuge in Australia). they also see Iranians in the very same way they see and blame Americans for all their misfortunes, they have been refugees in Iran for almost 30 years, but unfortunately the current government has taken all the basic rights from them even education..don't you think if the Iranian government had educated them and also our own people, we wouldn't have the racism issue towards them today?
sad to mention, Afghanistan was part of Iran and has been divided away less then a 150 years ago (Abbas Mirza hadn't passed away on the way to herat, might have still been part of the Khorasan province)...so they are one of the major Indo-Iranian families...see we all have forgotten, and you as a historian should know that better then anyone else.

or if Iranian Government hadn't insisted and oppressed the public towards strict Islamic teachings the people wouldn't hate religion this much and look for principles and identities in other places, example Aryan, to replace the governmental propaganda....why is it that Iranians are digging it out again and looking for it in the first place? why not what has caused it?

so instead of suppressing it we need to educate people in the right direction, the very first step that I believe our great ancestors Cyrus or Darius, if were alive would have done, the manner of greatness and forgiving, the manner of respect towards all religions, races and classes, that's what i see Aryan was about, and should be about

lets encourage that instead of fire walling against something that the majority of the Iranians need to re identify themselves into a brighter future

why kill it? Iranians are in desperate need of something today...lets give it to them, ( and our self)

as said we need to learn to communicate and educate our self in a respectful environment, not to criticise and humiliate each other, the current government is already doing that..we have along way to go too...

i look forward to a free democratic Iran where all of us can meet, express our self and live freely :)

Alal / August 12, 2010 4:39 AM

@Babak
yes i have seen that map

PE for Persian has R1a and R1b which is supposing the Aryan one but yes obviously what I'm trying to say is we should not involve genes and race with Aryan/Aria.. :)

Alal / August 12, 2010 4:57 AM

as for jews

lets remind them of who Cyrus and Darius were by their own book:


"In the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, in order to fulfill the word of The Lord spoken by Jeremiah, The Lord moved the heart of Cyrus king of Persia to make a proclamation throughout his realm and to put it in writing: "This is what Cyrus king of Persia says: "The Lord, The God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth and He has appointed me to build a Temple [see Temples] for Him at Jerusalem in Judah. Anyone of his people among you - may his God be with him, and let him go up to Jerusalem in Judah and build The Temple of The Lord, The God of Israel, The God who is in Jerusalem." (Ezra 1:1-3)

Daniel in the Den of Lions
by the order of King Darius

When the king heard this, he was greatly distressed; he was determined to rescue Daniel and made every effort until sundown to save him. Then the men went as a group to the king and said to him, "Remember, O king, that according to the law of the Medes and Persians no decree or edict that the king issues can be changed." So the king gave the order, and they brought Daniel and threw him into the lions' den. The king said to Daniel, "May your God, whom you serve continually, rescue you!" A stone was brought and placed over the mouth of the den, and the king sealed it with his own signet ring and with the rings of his nobles, so that Daniel's situation might not be changed. Then the king returned to his palace and spent the night without eating and without any entertainment being brought to him. And he could not sleep. At the first light of dawn, the king got up and hurried to the lions' den. When he came near the den, he called to Daniel in an anguished voice, "Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you serve continually, been able to rescue you from the lions?" Daniel answered, "O king, live forever! My God sent his angel, and he shut the mouths of the lions. They have not hurt me, because I was found innocent in his sight. Nor have I ever done any wrong before you, O king." Daniel 6:14-22

The king was overjoyed and gave orders to lift Daniel out of the den. And when Daniel was lifted from the den, no wound was found on him, because he had trusted in his God. At the king's command, the men who had falsely accused Daniel were brought in and thrown into the lions' den, along with their wives and children. And before they reached the floor of the den, the lions overpowered them and crushed all their bones. Then King Darius wrote to all the peoples, nations and men of every language throughout the land: "May you prosper greatly! "I issue a decree that in every part of my kingdom people must fear and reverence the God of Daniel. "For he is the living God and he endures forever; his kingdom will not be destroyed, his dominion will never end. He rescues and he saves; he performs signs and wonders in the heavens and on the earth. He has rescued Daniel from the power of the lions." So Daniel prospered during the reign of Darius and the reign of Cyrus the Persian. Daniel 6:23-28

Alal / August 12, 2010 6:28 AM

I like how no one seems to have pointed out the completely ridiculous and erroneous statements made here:

"---Indo-european languages include Hindi, farsi, Turkish, Urdu, English and latin based languages.

---Arabic is not one of the Indo-european languages."

Neither is Turkish, or any other Turkic language! Ahvaz is either an idiot who hasn't done his most basic research, or an idiot who cites other idiots who haven't!

Daniel / August 12, 2010 10:21 AM

regarding 7th-21st centuries

as you you surly know, after the Islamic conquest there has been different kingdoms and caliphates ruling over what we are defining as Iran Zamin, (reminder Iran is a third it used to be even until 150 years ago, been losing land to Russians and English); the only true Iranian kingdom which raised to power were the Safavid (Safavian), at that time the only way to distinguish there boundaries was not through ethnic values, which you know has never been an agenda in Iranian history, but was by introducing Shi'ite as the main religion; this when the Iranians were born again into one nation. know almost 300 years after that and the downgrading which this nation has faced comparing to the developed world there has the need for reborning has emerged in every and each one of us ( referring to this very debate and the effort that we all are giving in).

now i want to start this argument, why can't we this as an Iranian Renaissance? like the European Renaissance, where the abusive governing of the church made the elite "class" look for other values and when they rediscovered their ancient Rome and Greece, and their ancient way o republic?

remember what was " majles mehrestan? bahrstan? (can't remember what it was called that elected the Parthian kings)"? ...why can't we investigate and research back to the way Achaemenid Empire governed all those nations? do you know their tax and welfare systems was as sophisticated and advanced as today?

again referring to my previous comment, i believe (not only me but 70 million and more Iranians across the world) that now is time fr change, lets start this change by re-identifying the Iranian culture by educating and communicating, Iranian values and history and not the democracy based on western culture, unfortunately the current government has already noticed this and started by changing history book in schools...

that's what needs to be done, and can not be done through one night or one person, and i think that baby has been born and it's happening already just needs now it's just a matter of time to see it grow and flourish

PS: I've been thinking about this article and your comments that's why i keep coming back and posting, i hope to get feed backs from all of you too

Alal / August 12, 2010 11:30 AM

Dear Alal,

If I may quote you:

..."instead of suppressing it we need to educate people in the right direction, the very first step that I believe our great ancestors Cyrus or Darius, if were alive would have done, the manner of greatness and forgiving, the manner of respect towards all religions, races and classes, that's what i see Aryan was about, and should be about

lets encourage that instead of fire walling against something that the majority of the Iranians need to re identify themselves into a brighter future"...

Beautifuly written . thank you.


Our country is controlled by men who are not only intolerant of different religions, but also ethnic groups such as our Baluch, Kurdish and Afghan friends.
The message you convey, which is the message of our Ariaee forefathers is a message of tolerance and acceptance. That message is a dagger in the heart of the culture of ignorance, intolerance and racism perpetuated by the Islamic Republic.


I am glad young Iranians are reconnecting to their Ariaee roots. They need no encouragement. The IR is unknowingly pushing them in that direction daily. No article can stop this wave, this Iranian Renaissance.

Ahvaz / August 12, 2010 12:36 PM

Dear Nosrat,


great post. I can finally see where you are coming from. there is a great deal one can learn from you, especially about ramifications of language. I must say though respectfully, your tactics (re our previous conversations) were rather unproductive, if not distracting.


We have a saying in our field "dont assume. when you assume, you make an a** out of u and me."

I said I was a healthcare provider, you assumed I was a doctor, which I am not.


--You assumed I was "middle class" (was that insult or sarcasm?!!!cant tell), which I am not.

--You assumed I used genetic studies in order to prove Aryan racial superiority, which I did not.

--You assumed that Iranians calling themselves Ariaee or Aryan leads to racism or Islamophobia.......well, I am beginning to see a pattern here.

How is that for linear thinking! Just some food for thought my friend. We all need that time to time.

It is great to see fellow Iranis excell in so many diverse fields of study. We cant all be doctors, right ;)
Good luck in your continuing research. God bless.

Ahvaz / August 12, 2010 1:12 PM

my apologies everyone; when i started writing, i didn't check my grammar nor spelling, so it might sound ridiculous especially regarding my last comment which i typed quickly without checking it before sending, hope you all forgive me

Alal / August 12, 2010 8:08 PM

Daniel,

Thank you for the correction of my inclusion of Turkish in the Indoeuropean languages. My mistake. I will check my sources better in the future.


Now if you would like to contribute to or discuss the essence of the topic, I am sure we could all learn a lot from your wisdom and grace.
keep it classy my friend.

Ahvaz / August 12, 2010 8:24 PM

There are many errors regarding the root of the "Aryan" word if he had read for instance "arda viraf nameh" or Karnameye Ardashire Babakan" he would have never said such a nonsense that this is a "new word invented by Europeans", I have studied "Farhang va Zabanhaye Bastan" so I can say for sure that what he is saying is totally nonesense. There are many other erros for instance in Persepolis the writings are in Cuneiforms Inscriptions in Old Persian (Farsi Bastan), Old Babylonian, and akkadian and not Elamite and Aramean!!! there are various other "assumptions" which COULD be compatible with the "MODERNIST" school of nationalism but these are long outdated ideas, the dominant school of Nationalist studies are now heavily influenced by the Ethno-Symbolist notions which totally contradicts all assumptions drwan in this article. Anyway I suppose it would still be impressive for people who have no knowledge of this field.

Io / August 12, 2010 8:35 PM

Daniel you're the idiot picking up something that is not worth of mentioning ...

Alal / August 12, 2010 8:42 PM

Dear Alal,


I agree with so many things that you are saying, as is evident in our mutual reference to the word "Renaissance".


Deep in the "dark ages" of Europe, all someone had to do was look at the old Roman and Greek monuments, architecture and art ( as ancient to them then as it is to us now), to realize that they had had a better past that somehow had gotten lost in the cloud of ignorance, intolerance and persectution so characteristic of a theocrocy.

That realization, I believe was the first step, towards enlightenment and "Renaissance"/rebirth.

Perhaps that is why today Iranians are flocking to Perspolis in record numbers. They see that they used to be better than this. That they can do better than this.


At the same time, I can see the point of Reza Ebrahimi and others regarding misplaced ideology and abuse of the word Aryan/Aryaee as bl/grn eye light skinned people. perhaps a good example would be Mussolini who wanted to restore Italy to its "Glorious ancient Rome" but instead led his country down the path of persecution and destruction.


This makes it even more urgent to define and educate what being "Aryaee" truely means.
That it is not Aryaee vs. Islam, or Aryaee vs. Arab, Hindi or Turk. As you have said, once we understand that someone can be an Aryaee and at the same time a devout Moslem, or Jew or Christian, that speaks Urdu, Baluch, Turkish, Farsi, Arabic or English (in case of my children), we lose our Aryaee-phobia.


Lets hope our Iranian friends find the path that leads out of this fog of 'medival' ignorance and intolerance and onto the path to a new "Golden Age" of Iran. I believe the seeds are already planted. I only hope it comes to bloom in my lifetime.


Alal, Good luck in your humanitarian work and God bless.

Ahvaz / August 12, 2010 10:35 PM


Ayatollah Mohammad Taghi Mesbah Yazdi, head of the Imam Khomeini Education and Research Institute, strongly criticized those who are "promoting the school of Iran instead of the school of Islam,"

in a gathering of Iranian army and revolutionary guards commanders and officials. He added:

"These people are not our comrades; we have no permanent friendship to anyone, but to those who are following Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei and Islam."

Anonymous / August 13, 2010 7:30 AM

Truth is truth,and the truth is that the Iranians are in part the descendents of the ancient people known to us and to some degree themselves as the "Aryans" (see the Vedic sources also),that is the Indo-Iranian branch of the Indo-European peoples.Nazi extremism has nothing to do with it on this level-ie historical and cultural fact.The Iranian languages still are in their base Aryan or Indo-European languages,the way English is Germanic,but with a great infusion of Semitic,as English has much Latin/Romance.And of course the Iranian people has also very substantial Semitic,Turkic,Elamite and possibly other components as well.And the modern culture is a fusion of these also,primarily Islamic religiously.So it's not truthful to either deny or assert exclusively the (non-extremist) "Aryanness" of the Iranian people,it's true in fair part,not true in fair part too.Personally as a non-Iranian westerner with an interest in Iran I find the Indo-European link (especially linguistic) more readily "relateable to" than the other aspects,and in some ways though not all) more interesting.Without this aspect Iran would be simply one of over 20 "Arabic" nations say rather than one of only 2 or 3 "Iranic" nations (perhaps a reason to underplay it of course-to stress links with those 20-but it's at the cost of links to many others).Iranians should neither hide nor over exaggerate the Aryan/Indo-European component of their make up,it's there in fact (genetically also by haplogroup analysis),along with the others.This is a plus not a minus-a way to share something with more peoples and nations than otherwise.But the more the current regime tries to deny this the less sympathy I have for them,to deny your own roots and heritage (even if a part) is neither truthful nor beneficial,especially when they played a positive role in their day and provide a basis of kinship and friendship with many nations and peoples.And given due observance of Islam,I don't recall ever hearing of the Prophet demanding nations cease to know their descent and make up,as a matter of fact.

Steve / August 13, 2010 6:14 PM

Dear Steve, I am not denying any root, I am just saying Iran is a multi-ethnic country based on reason , science and current composition and history . If somebody does not believe this very obvious fact, so be it. . In a free society, everyone is entitled to define his own identity.
If everyone here believes he or she is an Aryan, so be it. However, if they try to distort a fact and make up history for me, I would say stick to what you want to be. I stick with the science, genetic and reason.

babak / August 14, 2010 1:54 AM

ARYANISM is a European dogma, but Iran and Aryan are not as evidenced by Hakhamaneshi, Sassani inscriptions and later in Ferdowsi's Shahnameh.
Persia is one state (ostan) within Iran which was the seat of power for Hakhamaneshi kings.
As for how ancient Iranians might have looked like, you only need to look at Persepolis carvings. The prominent NOSE and Curly hair are there to see! Also, those statutes had eyes which can be seen at museums and they are BROWN. I don't know the hair and skin color of those ancient Iranians and haven't seen the movie, but from the picture posted here, the actor may pass for one :)
BTW, Aryans of Iran were certainly not racist nor antisemitic. Cyrus freed the Jews of Babylon and Darius had a Jewish wife.

Maziar / August 14, 2010 8:35 AM

Babak

who's making up history? isn't it more like that you and reza ebrahimi are denying it?

what part of our definition of Aryan you did not understand? what part of education you do not understand?

"""If everyone here believes he or she is an Aryan, so be it. However, if they try to distort a fact and make up history for me, I would say stick to what you want to be. I stick with the science, genetic and reason."""

and what are they?

NO you better stick to your ignorance and intolerance

Iranian/Aryan is like American, a bunch of people living in a certain area sharing the same culture and language or linguistic roots..!!

how hard is that?

it's a disappointment to see after all these discussions you are still unable to think and understand what has been discussed here

now once again..FORGET ABOUT GENES..!!!

AGAIN READ:
The term Iran (ایران) in modern Persian derives from the Proto-Iranian term Aryānā, first attested in Zoroastrianism's Avesta tradition. Ariya- and Airiia- are also attested as an ethnic designator in Achaemenid inscriptions. The term Ērān, from Middle Persian Ērān (written as ʼyrʼn) is found on the inscription that accompanies the investiture relief of Ardashir I at Naqsh-e Rustam. In this inscription, the king's appellation in Middle Persian contains the term ērān (Pahlavi ʼryʼn), while in the Parthian language inscription that accompanies it, the term aryān describes Iran. In Ardeshir's time, ērān retained this meaning, denoting the people rather than the state.

Notwithstanding this inscriptional use of ērān to refer to the Iranian peoples, the use of ērān to refer to the geographical empire is also attested in the early Sassanid period. An inscription relating to Shapur I, Ardashir's son and immediate successor, includes regions which were not inhabited primarily by Iranians in Ērān regions, such as Armenia and the Caucasus. In Kartir's inscriptions the high priest includes the same regions in his list of provinces of the antonymic Anērān. Both ērān and aryān come from the Proto-Iranian term Aryānām, (Land) of the (Iranian) Aryas. The word and concept of Airyanem Vaejah is present in the name of the country Iran (Lit. Land of the Aryans) inasmuch as Iran (Ērān) is the modern Persian form of the word Aryānā.

The rules and ethics emanating from Zoroaster's teachings were strictly followed by the Achaemenids who introduced and adopted policies based on human rights, equality and banning of slavery. Zoroastrianism spread unimposed during the time of the Achaemenids and through contacts with the exiled Jewish people in Babylon freed by Cyrus, Zoroastrian concepts further propagated and influenced the Abrahamic religions. The Golden Age of Athens marked by Aristotle, Plato and Socrates also came about during the Achaemenid period while their contacts with Persia and the Near East abounded.

The peace, tranquility, security and prosperity that were afforded to the people of the Near East and Southeastern Europe proved to be a rare historical occurrence, an unparalleled period where commerce prospered, and the standard of living for all people of the region improved

so it seems you better stop calling yourself IRANIAN too...!!

Alal / August 14, 2010 12:34 PM

Anti-Arabism (caused because of the arab attitude towards AJAM "Iranians" )

After the fall of Sasanian dynasty in 651, the Umayyad Arabs adopted many Persian customs especially the administrative and the court mannerisms. Arab provincial governors were undoubtedly either Persianized Arameans or ethnic Persians;

Biruni (Abu Reyhan Biruni):
"When Qutaibah bin Muslim under the command of Al-Hajjaj bin Yousef was sent to Khwarazmia with a military expedition and conquered it for the second time, he swiftly killed whomwever wrote the Khwarazmian native language that knew of the Khwarazmian heritage, history, and culture. He then killed all their Zoroastrian priests and burned and wasted their books, until gradually the illiterate only remained, who knew nothing of writing, and hence their history was mostly forgotten."

Biruni. الآثار الباقية عن القرون الخالية, p.35,36,48
وقتی قتبیه بن مسلم سردار حجاج، بار دوم بخوارزم رفت و آن را باز گشود هرکس را که خط خوارزمی می نوشت و از تاریخ و علوم و اخبار گذشته آگاهی داشت از دم تیغ بی دریغ درگذاشت و موبدان و هیربدان قوم را یکسر هلاک نمود و کتابهاشان همه بسوزانید و تباه کرد تا آنکه رفته رفته مردم امی ماندند و از خط و کتابت بی بهره گشتند و اخبار آنها اکثر فراموش شد و از میان رفت

In the 7th century AD, when many non-Arabs such as Persians entered Islam were recognized as Mawali and treated as second class citizens by the ruling Arab elite

The Abbasid army consisted primarily of Khorasanians and was led by an Iranian general, Abu Muslim Khorasani. It contained both Iranian and Arab elements, and the Abbasids enjoyed both Iranian and Arab support. The Abbasids overthrew the Umayyads in 750.

One of the first changes the Abbasids made after taking power from the Umayyads was to move the empire's capital from Damascus, in Levant, to Iraq. The latter region was influenced by Iranian history and culture, and moving the capital was part of the Iranian mawali demand for Arab influence in the empire. The city of Baghdad was constructed (by remainings of on the Tigris River, in 762, to serve as the new Abbasid capital. The Abbasids established the position of vizier like Barmakids in their administration, which was the equivalent of a "vice-caliph", or second-in-command. Eventually, this change meant that many caliphs under the Abbasids ended up in a much more ceremonial role than ever before, with the vizier in real power. A new Persian (Iranian) bureaucracy began to replace the old Arab aristocracy, and the entire administration reflected these changes, demonstrating that the new dynasty was different in many ways to the Umayyads

Islamization was a long process by which Islam was gradually adopted by the majority population of Iran.

Richard Bulliet's "conversion curve" indicates that only about 10% of Iran converted to Islam during the relatively Arab-centric Umayyad period. Beginning in the Abassid period, with its mix of Iranian as well as Arab rulers, the Muslim percentage of the population rose. As Iranian Muslims consolidated their rule of the country, the Muslim population rose from approx. 40% in the mid 9th century to close to 100% by the end of 11th century. Seyyed Hossein Nasr suggests that the rapid increase in conversion was aided by the Persian nationality of the rulers

Although Iranians adopted the religion of their conquerors, over the centuries they worked to protect and revive their distinctive language and culture, a process known as Persianization. Arabs and Turks participated in this attempt

In the 9th and 10th centuries, non-Arab subjects of the Ummah created a movement called Shu'ubiyyah in response to the privileged status of Arabs.

According to Bernard Lewis:

"Iran was indeed Islamized, but it was not Arabized. Persians remained Persians. And after an interval of silence, Iran reemerged as a separate, different and distinctive element within Islam, eventually adding a new element even to Islam itself. Culturally, politically, and most remarkable of all even religiously, the Iranian contribution to this new Islamic civilization is of immense importance. The work of Iranians can be seen in every field of cultural endeavor, including Arabic poetry, to which poets of Iranian origin composing their poems in Arabic made a very significant contribution. In a sense, Iranian Islam is a second advent of Islam itself, a new Islam sometimes referred to as Islam-i Ajam. It was this Persian Islam, rather than the original Arab Islam, that was brought to new areas and new peoples: to the Turks, first in Central Asia and then in the Middle East in the country which came to be called Turkey, and of course to India. The Ottoman Turks brought a form of Iranian civilization to the walls of Vienna..."

Iran (Persia) underwent a revival under the Safavid dynasty (1502–1736), the most prominent figure of which was Shah Abbas I. Some historians credit the Safavid dynasty for founding the modern nation-state of Iran. Iran's contemporary Shia character, and significant segments of Iran's current borders take their origin from this era

The Safavids were an Iranian Shia dynasty of mixed Azeri and Kurdish origins, which ruled Iran (Persia) from 1501/1502 to 1722. Safavids established the greatest Iranian empire since the Islamic conquest of Persia, and established the Ithnā'ashari school of Shi'a Islam as the official religion of their empire.

.........
seems i know more than history then these so called historians.. what a disgrace

Alal / August 14, 2010 12:53 PM

Anti-Arabism (caused because of the arab attitude towards AJAM "Iranians" )

After the fall of Sasanian dynasty in 651, the Umayyad Arabs adopted many Persian customs especially the administrative and the court mannerisms. Arab provincial governors were undoubtedly either Persianized Arameans or ethnic Persians;

Biruni (Abu Reyhan Biruni, Asaar Al'Baghiyeh En Al'Ghorun Al'Khaliyeh, P34, 35, 36, 48):
"When Qutaibah bin Muslim under the command of Al-Hajjaj bin Yousef was sent to Khwarazmia with a military expedition and conquered it for the second time, he swiftly killed whomwever wrote the Khwarazmian native language that knew of the Khwarazmian heritage, history, and culture. He then killed all their Zoroastrian priests and burned and wasted their books, until gradually the illiterate only remained, who knew nothing of writing, and hence their history was mostly forgotten"

In the 7th century AD, when many non-Arabs such as Persians entered Islam were recognized as Mawali and treated as second class citizens by the ruling Arab elite

The Abbasid army consisted primarily of Khorasanians and was led by an Iranian general, Abu Muslim Khorasani. It contained both Iranian and Arab elements, and the Abbasids enjoyed both Iranian and Arab support. The Abbasids overthrew the Umayyads in 750.

One of the first changes the Abbasids made after taking power from the Umayyads was to move the empire's capital from Damascus, in Levant, to Iraq. The latter region was influenced by Iranian history and culture, and moving the capital was part of the Iranian mawali demand for Arab influence in the empire. The city of Baghdad was constructed (by remainings of on the Tigris River, in 762, to serve as the new Abbasid capital. The Abbasids established the position of vizier like Barmakids in their administration, which was the equivalent of a "vice-caliph", or second-in-command. Eventually, this change meant that many caliphs under the Abbasids ended up in a much more ceremonial role than ever before, with the vizier in real power. A new Persian (Iranian) bureaucracy began to replace the old Arab aristocracy, and the entire administration reflected these changes, demonstrating that the new dynasty was different in many ways to the Umayyads

Islamization was a long process by which Islam was gradually adopted by the majority population of Iran

Richard Bulliet's "conversion curve" indicates that only about 10% of Iran converted to Islam during the relatively Arab-centric Umayyad period. Beginning in the Abassid period, with its mix of Iranian as well as Arab rulers, the Muslim percentage of the population rose. As Iranian Muslims consolidated their rule of the country, the Muslim population rose from approx. 40% in the mid 9th century to close to 100% by the end of 11th century. Seyyed Hossein Nasr suggests that the rapid increase in conversion was aided by the Persian nationality of the rulers

Although Iranians adopted the religion of their conquerors, over the centuries they worked to protect and revive their distinctive language and culture, a process known as Persianization. Arabs and Turks participated in this attempt

In the 9th and 10th centuries, non-Arab subjects of the Ummah created a movement called Shu'ubiyyah in response to the privileged status of Arabs.

According to Bernard Lewis:

"Iran was indeed Islamized, but it was not Arabized. Persians remained Persians. And after an interval of silence, Iran reemerged as a separate, different and distinctive element within Islam, eventually adding a new element even to Islam itself. Culturally, politically, and most remarkable of all even religiously, the Iranian contribution to this new Islamic civilization is of immense importance. The work of Iranians can be seen in every field of cultural endeavor, including Arabic poetry, to which poets of Iranian origin composing their poems in Arabic made a very significant contribution. In a sense, Iranian Islam is a second advent of Islam itself, a new Islam sometimes referred to as Islam-i Ajam. It was this Persian Islam, rather than the original Arab Islam, that was brought to new areas and new peoples: to the Turks, first in Central Asia and then in the Middle East in the country which came to be called Turkey, and of course to India. The Ottoman Turks brought a form of Iranian civilization to the walls of Vienna..."

Iran (Persia) underwent a revival under the Safavid dynasty (1502–1736), the most prominent figure of which was Shah Abbas I. Some historians credit the Safavid dynasty for founding the modern nation-state of Iran. Iran's contemporary Shia character, and significant segments of Iran's current borders take their origin from this era

The Safavids were an Iranian Shia dynasty of mixed Azeri and Kurdish origins, which ruled Iran (Persia) from 1501/1502 to 1722. Safavids established the greatest Iranian empire since the Islamic conquest of Persia, and established the Ithnā'ashari school of Shi'a Islam as the official religion of their empire.

.........
seems i know more than history then these so called historians.. what a disgrace

Alal / August 14, 2010 1:01 PM

Biruni. الآثار الباقية عن القرون الخالية, p.35,36,48
وقتی قتبیه بن مسلم سردار حجاج، بار دوم بخوارزم رفت و آن را باز گشود هرکس را که خط خوارزمی می نوشت و از تاریخ و علوم و اخبار گذشته آگاهی داشت از دم تیغ بی دریغ درگذاشت و موبدان و هیربدان قوم را یکسر هلاک نمود و کتابهاشان همه بسوزانید و تباه کرد تا آنکه رفته رفته مردم امی ماندند و از خط و کتابت بی بهره گشتند و اخبار آنها اکثر فراموش شد و از میان رفت

Alal / August 14, 2010 1:03 PM

dear Alal,

informative as usual. and absolutely right on.


one of my favorite books is 'In Search of Zarathustra: Across Iran and Central Asia to Find the World's First Prophet' by Paul Kriwaczek


From this book:

“New converts don’t just give up their former spiritual and ethical world-view; they usually bring them along, transferring the old wine into the new bottle.” The Persians accepted the simple purity of Islam as their new faith but nevertheless found ways to preserve their heritage. “Just as in Europe the Holy Roman Empire—‘neither holy, nor Roman, nor or an empire,’ as Voltaire said—was actually a way for baptized German warlords to repackage their pagan traditions in Christian wrapping, so Iranian Islam came to incorporate Iranian national consciousness, Iranian national pride and, yes, Iranian Zoroastrian beliefs.”

'Kriwaczek illustrates this point with examples drawn from Persian architecture and poetry. To show, for example, how Persian arts, culture, and science quickly infused Iranian Islam, he compares two pairs of religious buildings—the first and earlier pair a staid and pious structure (Orthodox Islam holds that it is a sin to depict any living thing), the second a structure of perfect geometry resplendent with animal and bird carvings. Kriwaczek also shows that Iranian literary traditions, as personified first by the 12th-century poet Ferdowsi—author of the Shah-nameh, or Book of Kings, the national epic of Iran—and later by the mystic poets Hafez, Sa’adi, and Rumi, are unabashedly pre-Islamic, both in treatment and content. In Shah-nameh Ferdowsi writes that

---Zardosht (Zarathustra), the prophet of the Most High, appeared in the land . . . And showed the people a new faith . . . He reared throughout the realm a tree with beautiful foliage. Men rested beneath its branches . . . (and) became perfect in wisdom and faith.

Islamists still struggle to understand how a good Muslim like Ferdowsi could say that another prophet than Muhammad could make men “perfect” in faith.

The poems of the mystics were so influential that they helped to initiate an entirely new branch of Islam, Sufism, which added to the earlier split between Iranians and Arabs into Shi‘ite and Sunni Islam. Expectedly, many Sunnis saw Sufism as heresy and to this day it remains banned in Saudi Arabia. '


Ahvaz / August 14, 2010 9:02 PM

Again some confuse the rise of Aryaeesm in Iran to rise of racial superiority of Aryan nation. It is not about racial superiority.
I can see why an Islamist would be threatened by Aryaeesm and want to connect "Aryaees" to the racist Aryan nation of Europe.


From Boston Review 2004... review of 'In search of Zarathustra':

“A loss of faith with the mullahs [in government] has led to a loss of faith in the religion,” ..... “When the government does not respect the [line] between religion and state how can people?”
Numerous surveys, including one by the magazine Asr-e Ma (“Our Era”), have shown that most Iranians under the age of 25—who make up 50 percent of the overall population—consider themselves agnostic. Many young Iranians are cynical, even derisive, about their religion. Epithets like “mad mullahs” and “this thing Islam” are not uncommon.

At a time when many Iranians feel violated by the religious and political extremism inflicted upon them, but remain powerless to act against it, romantic allusions to ancient Persia offer hope. Evidence of popular fascination with Iran’s Persian heritage is everywhere. Stone carvings, paintings, and pictures of Persepolis adorn the walls of many homes, office buildings, and restaurants. In dusty bus stations across Iran’s desert towns, transport companies have painted Farohars on the sides of their sandblasted buses. Savvy marketers have also begun to tap into the trend. The newest model of the locally made Peugeot sedan in Iran has been branded Pars (Persepolis) and consumer products with names like Parsian line the shelves of Iran’s tiny street stores.

“Iranians are trying to discover who they really are,” ........ “They feel shamed by their government and let down by their religion . . . they want something to believe in.” What remains mostly unsaid—not least because saying it could invite a death sentence—is that the increasing interest in Iran’s pre-Islamic past is also fueling an interest in its ancient Zarathusti religion.

“If we were allowed to convert religions, millions would convert [back] to Zarathusti,” a middle-aged Muslim man in Tehran told me. “I challenge the government to allow conversion out of Islam for even one day.”

TB continued.....

Ahvaz / August 14, 2010 9:20 PM

cont'd from Boston Review....

'...... there is growing evidence that at least one disenfranchised group in the region has indeed been turning towards Zoroastrianism—the Kurds.
There are reports, mostly unconfirmed, that in the face of persecution from both Shias and Sunnis and their growing political independence, some Kurdish tribes have begun to embrace Zoroastrianism. In a rare interview on the subject, Mahir Welat—representative of the National Liberation Front of Kurdistan (ERNK) and the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) to the Russian Federation—said that “For a time the Kurds forgot about their Zoroastrianism roots but now it is our intention to return and to educate ourselves.”

It is not completely coincidental that it took a person in Welat’s position to make these comments. Since the fall of the Soviet Union, many people in southern Russia and the newly independent Central Asian republics of Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, and Azerbaijan, historically part of the Persian Empire, have openly embraced Zoroastrianism.

As these republics struggle to reimagine themselves as sovereign states, they are drawn to their ancient ethnic roots. Leaders of the republics, especially President Imomali Rahmonov of Tajikistan, support the resurgent interest in Zoroastrianism, which they hope might counter the radical Islam that the Saudis and others are trying to export into the region.....

Ahvaz / August 14, 2010 9:32 PM

"Since the advent of Islam, Iranians had been miserable" - the only statement in this article that made sense.
To suggest that Persians are Nazi sympathisers is complelty absurd(Observe how the German football team is even now welcomed in Iran, occasionally with enthusiastic collective Nazi salutes.)

Aryayee / August 14, 2010 9:42 PM

So can I use the same logic that "'aryan' is a 'loaded word' and should not be used because of its possible association with racist 'Aryan nation'" on describing Iran as a "Moslem country" because "Moslem" is such a "loaded word", and is now associated with suicide vests, stoning women and religious persecution?

Ahvaz / August 14, 2010 10:20 PM

Finally 'Renaissance' or 'rebirth' has a long history and significance in Aryaee culture and literature.


Simurgh (Persian: سیمرغ), also spelled simorgh, simurg, simoorg or simourv, also known as Angha (Arabic: العنقاء‎), is the modern Persian name for a fabulous, benevolent, mythical flying creature. The figure can be found in all periods of Greater Iranian art and literature, and is evident also in the iconography of medieval Armenia[7], the Byzantine empire [8], and other regions that were within the sphere of Persian cultural influence.

The name simurgh derives from Middle Persian Pahlavi sēnmurw[9][10] (and earlier sēnmuruγ), also attested in Middle Persian Pāzand as sīna-mrū. The Middle Persian term derives in turn from Avestan mərəγō Saēnō "the bird Saēna", originally a raptor, likely an eagle, falcon or sparrowhawk, as can be deduced from the etymological cognate Sanskrit śyenaḥ "raptor, eagle, bird of prey" that also appears as a divine figure. Saēna is also a personal name which is root of the name. Please note Simurgh and Phoenix are two separate mythical birds, and should not mixed up with one another.

In Persian mythology, Simurgh, (Persian: سيمرغ, Middle Persian: senmurv) was a winged, bird-like creature that was very large and extremely ancient with a long tail. The Simurgh appears in many Iranian literary classics such as Farid ud-Din Attar's Conference of the Birds as instructor and birds leader, and in Ferdowsi's epic Shahnameh (The Book of Kings); Simurgh raised up and cherished Zaal or Zal, father of Rostam.

have a great weekend...

Ahvza / August 14, 2010 10:29 PM

More power to you, Alal. Biruni knew what he was talking about. The problem with many of our modern "scholars"--Iranian or otherwise-- is that they are not familiar with classical and ancient literature. When was the last time Zia-Ebrahimi lived in Iran and for how long?
--kamjoon

kamjoon / August 14, 2010 10:34 PM

Reza Zia-Ebrahimi claims about Iran are outright fictitious.

Anyone who has studied Persian and European languages knows that they are related. Zia-Ebrahimi’s claims against this relationship are baseless. The relationship between Persian and European languages is not accidental. The people who speak these languages are related.

The word Iran has been used by Iranians for many years. Ferdowsi used Iran and related words many times in his great Shahnameh.

Reza Zia-Ebrahimi’s nonsense is similar to the absurd claim: “Hassan and Hussein are the three daughters of Yazid.” He has zero credibility.

Anyone at University of Oxford and the London School of Economics who believes Reza Zia-Ebrahimi’s absurd claims is condemned to be misinformed about Iran.

Reza Zia-Ebrahimi’s irrational claims are similar to the propaganda that has been promoted by members of the anti-Iranian mullah regime.

Sohrab / August 15, 2010 3:56 AM

Rumi:

Whoever you may be, come
Even though you may be
An infidel, a pagan, or a fire-worshipper, come
Our brotherhood is not one of despair
Even though you have broken
Your vows of repentance a hundred times, come.

Anonymous / August 15, 2010 8:07 AM

Sohrab, Are you Reza Zia-Ebrahimi’s irate ex-wife? Such emotional statements with no factual references sure support everything that the author claims!

Iran o iraniyan che goli be sare ma zadand ke shoma inghadr sangeshun ra be sine mizanid?

Before being an Iranian or a muslim or anything else we are all human beings...that's the only thing that we know for sure that we all share.

So let's take it easy on all the flag waving and "treat others the way we want to be treated" (including in the way we respond to their hard work of writing an article like the above).

Bahman / August 16, 2010 12:53 AM

Bahman, maybe you have a crush on Reza Zia-Ebrahimi. Your emotional comment is completely baseless. If you agree with Reza Zia-Ebrahimi irrational claims, that should not cause you to become so emotional. You obviously don’t understand the issues that have been discussed. Therefore, you are simply supporting the propaganda that is promoted by agents of the mullah regime.

It seems that you like mullah propaganda. Fortunately, everyone does not like the nonsense that the anti-Iranian mullahs are promoting.

Sohrab / August 16, 2010 6:06 AM

@Sohrab and Bahman
stop that nonsense and try to be respectful towards eachother and the rest of people whom have cooments here

@All
Iranian/Aryan People whom I said share the same culture and linguistic roots

the most significant culture shared and common is the celebration of NOWRUZ

Persians
■Tats
■Huwala
■Tajik
■Hazaras
■Aimaqs
■Ajam

Pashtuns
■Durrani
■Ghilzai

Kurds
■Goranis
■Kermanshahis
■Feylis

Baluchis, Gilakis & Mazanderanis, Lurs & Bakhtiaris, Laks, Talysh, Ossetians, Zazas (Turkey), Parsis (India), Yaghnobi (Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, Zerafshan region), Kumzari (Oman , Musandam)

Pamiri people
■Sariqoli
■Wakhi
■"Tajiks of China"
■Shughni

Although Azeris speak a Turkic language (modern Azerbaijani language), they are believed to be primarily descendants of ancient Iranians and Caucasians. Thus, due to their historical ties with various ancient Iranians, as well as their cultural ties to Persians


BAGHDAD, (Just for your INFO)
Baghdad was constructed on the Tigris River, in 762
Baghdad eclipsed Ctesiphon (Tisspfoon), the capital of the Sassanid Empire, which was located some 30 km (19 mi) to the southeast.

(meaning Ctesiphon was destroyed and the it's builidung material were used to build Baghdad.)

Today, all that remains of Ctesiphon is the shrine town of Salman Pak (TAGH KASSRA), just to the south of Greater Baghdad.

There have been several rival proposals as to the specific etymology of the name Baghdad. The most reliable and most widely accepted among these is that the name is a Persian compound of Bağ "garden" + dād "fair", translating to "The fair Garden", or Persian compound of Bag "god" + dād "given", translating to "God-given" or "God's gift",


AS FOR THE NAZI SALUTE

please check this website and judge for yourself:

http://www.uncommondescent.com/off-topic/off-topic-hezbollah-militants-practicing-a-familiar-salute/

Alal / August 16, 2010 8:46 AM

Great article. Having browsed through the comments, I'm sorry that so many things were misunderstood and so many allusions were misinterpreted and filled in, in the wrong way. That's an unfortunate injustice to the author of this learned and serious article.

A correction to the commenter "Alal" is in order here: Hizbullah is an organization that's under heavy Iranian influence because of the Twelver Shiite creed that both Iranians and the southern Lebanese believe in. Unfortunately, in this case, they seem to have received the wrong kind of example from the Iranians, a grossly non-Islamic and non-Shiite one, one that actually stems from the anti-Islamic, Aryanist ideology of some Iranian readers of Western orientalist literature.

But the Lebanese Shiite Muslims shouldn't be blamed too much for that, as they received a murderous and insolent invasion from Israel only a few years ago. They are angry and actually I don't think that they know much about what is an anti-semitic, European, racist, "Nazi" symbol and what is not, just as I don't know myself. Unlike the indigenous or immigrant people in the west, in the Muslim world we haven't had a painfully race-conscious history nor a tragically racialist one. We are largely unfamiliar; excuse our "ignorance" on this issue... By the way, anti-semitic symbols? The real Semites are the Arabs and the Nazis saw the Jews as extensions of the actual Semites who lived in SW Asia...

I hope this helps and cheap corporate media demagoguery does not continue misleading some people.

Asianus / August 17, 2010 6:39 AM

Dear Asianus

I'm Iranian, I know well enough who Hezbollah are and how they're been fed and all the history behind them.

The reason i put that website is to oppose to authors absurd statement of "..Observe how the German football team is even now welcomed in Iran, occasionally with enthusiastic collective Nazi salutes..", which is absolute baseless and pathetic in my opinion...as one of the comments above the Brazilian football team has much more supporters then the German one

one other thing to make clear i see the Israeli/Zionist government equivalent to the Islamic republic a fundamentalist religious government, intolerant of other cultures..


Reza Zia Ebrahimi

"..A related myth is the one according to which "Iran" means the "land of Aryans." This myth was propagated by Max Müller, who claimed in 1862 that the term airyanem vaejah found in the Avesta is the ancestor of "Iran" and means the "Aryan expanse." This myth became so widespread that serious scholars propagate it even to this day. Suffice it to look at a dictionary."

i find your article extremely provocative, a myth?? how do back your claim? how do you explain the names that Sassanian and Parthian used to call themselves? how do you explain my previous comment (August 11, 2010 6:15 AM) on Greek, Armenian, and other sources?

.."The Old Persian and Avestan evidence is confirmed by the Greek sources”.[2] Herodotus in his Histories remarks about the Iranian Medes that: “These Medes were called anciently by all people Arians; “ (7.62). In Armenian sources, the Parthians, Medes and Persians are collectively referred to as Aryans.[5] Eudemus of Rhodes apud Damascius (Dubitationes et solutiones in Platonis Parmenidem 125 bis) refers to “the Magi and all those of Iranian (áreion) lineage”; Diodorus Siculus (1.94.2) considers Zoroaster (Zathraustēs) as one of the Arianoi.."

not only it's not based on actual facts but on your personal assumptions, and by one's ( Aslan's) misspoken statement, or some random comments by people whom have hardly read more then "Tin Tin" comic books

"..Not only is Aryanism a relic of nineteenth-century European thought with an ignominious legacy, but its Iranian variety is a symptom of an entrenched complex of inferiority, a desperate attempt to be something other than a "mere Iranian." This complex is rooted in a traumatic encounter with Europe that took place two centuries ago. It thus alarms me that to this very day, serious Iranian intellectuals tell a wide audience that "Iranians are Aryans."

how can you pretension such a serious matter, by failing (or ignoring) to study and research on the language and it's linguistic roots? even Nazi Germans were trying to explain it by linking it linguistic Indo- Iranian history, reasons, where in your article have you pointed this out?

even the SS symbol or the "Hakenkreuz" , or Swastika in sanskrit a sacred symbol in Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, Mithraism and Shamanism; religions with a total of more than a billion adherents worldwide, making the swastika ubiquitous in both historical and contemporary society

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Swastika_iran.jpg
( a wikipedia reference is more then enough for this article)

how can you ignore all these facts? how can you judge a nation just by your personal assumptions? or if you have solid reasons please do share with us, please enlighten us!

I find it deeply disappointing to see such dangerous and misinforming theories are being spread about one of the oldest civilizations that has contributed so much to human history, in an academic environment such as Oxford, that is Whats alarming!!

I hope to see your answer

Alal / August 17, 2010 11:08 AM

AT Asianus,

" Unfortunately, in this case, they [Hizbullah youth doing the Nazi salute] seem to have received the wrong kind of example from the Iranians, a grossly non-Islamic and non-Shiite one, one that actually stems from the anti-Islamic, Aryanist ideology"

....So, Hizbullah's youths' Nazi Salute is "anti-Islamic" and "Aryanist"?
Is that because Prophet Muhammad freed the jews in babylon and allowed them to worship their own God, while Cyrus closed the water supply on the Jewish neighborhood in Medina, burned their farms and ordered their towns sacked?

Is that how you remember your history?

Anonymous / August 17, 2010 8:12 PM

@Alal
Get it straight, I do not share your ARYAN MUMBO JUMBO, neither I nor millions like minded would accept your faked identity for us. Yesterday's racial supremacists are today talking about cultural superiority and nobleness. Iran is a land of cultural diversity, it is consisted of so many cultures, which enrich our country.
The shift from biological racism to cultural racism is an understandable move considering how a biological racist is perceived nowadays, since there is no scientific evidence of different races so you go on one step further and introduce the concept of cultural superiority.
According to these approach Racist discourses are now metamorphosed through the ideology of minimization and cultural supremacy, . Of course you are not even acknowledging the existence of any minority in Iran either. You see Iran as one culture one nation. I see Iran as one nation with many ethnics and cultures.
What peace and tranquillity you are referring to, Islamic Republic provides the same kind of peace and tranquillity that the kings provided people. A reign of terror and subjugation of oppressed people. No wonder Arabs conquered Iran without any major difficulties. The land was handed over without any major resistance to the foreign invasion.
People were tired of their so called masters who used to cut noses and hands off, in your opinion probably out of cultural nobleness. They used to torture people. The message of justice and equality brought down the tyrants, you wish to portray as noblemen.
Ignorant unaware people see the contemporary Iran as an Aryan nation. They do not hear the voice of the change towards a multi ethnic multicultural pluralistic society.

babak / August 18, 2010 6:49 AM

@Babak
your ignorance is not worth of replying anymore, this will be my final reply to you; if you don't understand that for investigating the roots of "words" you need to understand and research the language and it's linguistic roots then we have nothing to argue about...

.." The peace, tranquility, security and prosperity that were afforded to the people of the Near East and Southeastern Europe proved to be a rare historical occurrence, an unparalleled period where commerce prospered, and the standard of living for all people of the region improved "...

was a direct quote from :
"Historical perspective on Zoroastrianism", Reproduced from Âtaš-è Dorün — The Fire Within, Jamshid Soroush, Soroushian Memorial Volume II, 1st Books Library, Bloomington, IN, 2003. Retrieved 1 October 2007

go study some books you might find a new way in your life....

.." Get it straight, I do not share your ARYAN MUMBO JUMBO neither I nor millions like minded would accept your faked identity for us..."...
i know, because your as ignorant as the people who rule you, millions? the 24 million who voted for your president? ...i guess you deserve the Islamic fascists...

.." Yesterday's racial supremacists are today talking about cultural superiority and nobleness"...
??? where did you get that? did i say that?

NO, as usual you blocked head hasn't understood what I'm saying, but lets review:

.."so instead of suppressing it we need to educate people in the right direction, the very first step that I believe our great ancestors Cyrus or Darius, if were alive would have done, the manner of greatness and forgiving, the manner of respect towards all religions, races and classes, that's what i see Aryan was about, and should be about.."... Alal / August 12, 2010 4:39 AM

.." @Babak
yes i have seen that map, PE for Persian has R1a and R1b which is supposing the Aryan one but yes obviously what I'm trying to say is we should not involve genes and race with Aryan/Aria.. , Alal / August 12, 2010 4:57 AM.."...

...."..According to these approach Racist discourses are now metamorphosed through the ideology of minimization and cultural supremacy, . Of course you are not even acknowledging the existence of any minority in Iran either. You see Iran as one culture one nation"...

i don't know what part of my comments made you THINK I'm talking about any sort of supremacy...but lets assume that's what your ignorance made you THINK,
1) i am simply saying the word "IRANIAN" has it's roots from the ancient word "ARYAN"....and that's what a group of people used to call themselves for more then a thousand years due to their common culture and language, NOWRUZ is a great example of that shared culture which is still alive and common between the descendants of those people, now living in separate countries;....whats superior about that?....
2) I'm trying to say, German Nazi's where the ones whom in need of some sort self made legend abused the actual meaning of the WORD "ARYAN" and caused the tyranny...why should we pay for their mistake by ignoring our heritage?..does this mean to you that Iranians are superior?

well use those grey cells in your head (if available) and think again..!!

i guess that's too much for you to understand..

.." No wonder Arabs conquered Iran without any major difficulties. The land was handed over without any major resistance to the foreign invasion.
People were tired of their so called masters who used to cut noses and hands off, in your opinion probably out of cultural nobleness. They used to torture people. The message of justice and equality brought down the tyrants, you wish to portray as noblemen"..

on what reference this statement is based on? if you interested to know go back and read my "August 14, 2010 1:01 PM" comment..

look, I don't give a damn about your personal opinion..if you want to comment, you need to provide references..i have provided enough references for every comment i have made..now it's up to you to learn or stay in your current ignorance state of mind...don't bother to reply because this is my final comment here, I'm tired of all this ignorance...i have given up on the country which i was born in and it's ignorant people long time ago...

Alal / August 18, 2010 5:58 PM

آن کس که بداند و بداند که بداند
اسب شرف از گنبد گردون بجهاند
آن کس که بداند و نداند که بداند
بیدارش نمایید که بس خفته نماند
آن کس که نداند و بداند که نداند
لنگان خرک خویش به منزل برساند
وان کس که نداند و نداند که نداند
در جهل مرکب ابدالدهر بماند

Alal / August 18, 2010 6:05 PM

@ babak

.." No wonder Arabs conquered Iran without any major difficulties. The land was handed over without any major resistance to the foreign invasion.
People were tired of their so called masters who used to cut noses and hands off, in your opinion probably out of cultural nobleness. They used to torture people. The message of justice and equality brought down the tyrants, you wish to portray as noblemen"..


hmm..that does sound familiar..o, now i remember, the great followers of Islam are doing that across the Islamic countries..TODAY..!!!

Alal / August 18, 2010 7:28 PM

look, I don't give a damn about your personal opinion..if you want to comment,alal says
Alal , chill out, calm yourself, read late Abolqassem Ferdowsi poesi., Buy something nice for yourself. Good luck with your Aryan history and culture. A culture of cutting heads and nose, so noble it is.

babak / August 19, 2010 1:57 AM

Babak

I dont know what is more pethatic,
ignorance of one's own history ("Arabs conquered Iran without any major difficulties. The land was handed over without any major resistance to the foreign invasion")

or self-hatred fueled by ignorance and propaganda ("Good luck with your Aryan history and culture. A culture of cutting heads and nose, so noble it is.") Is that what you think of your own culture and ancestory?

Either way, you need to take some of your own advice and pick up a book or two. learn, educate yourself, instead of trying to get some attention on TB.

Ahvaz / August 19, 2010 8:26 PM

Ahvaz, I do not know what is more pathetic than disguising yourself , come on, admit it, you wrote the following:
Ahvaz / August 7, 2010 5:05 AM:
The most accurate way of establishing proximity of Iranian race and European race is by genetic studies.
In this phylogenetic tree a genetic evolutionary tree or sort of a family tree is drawn based on human mitochonrial DNA. In the diagram different races are grouped in clusters based human genome (not history, language, color, etc, but a protein in their DNA).
According to this study Iranians are in the same "cluster" as Europeans and N. Indians.
Base on this study, genetically Iranians and Europeans are first cousins.
**(unfortunately Arabs/Semites were not included in this study).
What is amazing is that the genome study is comletely consistant with Daryans's "Indoaryan" diagram above, and linguistic studies of Caucasion/indoeuropean languages.
You wrote that an Asian person would put us in the same group as Europeans... well apparently we are.
(I am not saying that is good or bad, or we are somehow superior because of it. It is just what our DNA is telling us.)

THOSE AFOREMENTIONED REMARKS ARE YOURS AND NOT MINE.
and you referred a link to a racist called Richard McCulloch . I find you elusive by your remarks,You are elusive or ignorant because you distort genetic facts and data pretending that genetic studies SUPPORT YOUR PREMISES WHICH are NOT.
What amazes and amuses me is how on earth you put forward genetic data and pretend it supports your premises.
I have only one thing to say to you:
The illiterate of 21 centuries are not those who cannot read or write but those who clinch to the old fallacies deliberately or unintentionally.

you need to take a proper course of science,meet a geneticist to teach you some basic and keep away from people such as Richard McCulloch.
I do not believe in Aryan myth and I do not consider this myth to be my culture or ancestry.
Iran is a multi ethnic society, that is what I believe , It is so naive to think as you do. read your comment again from August 7, 2010 5:05 AM

babak / August 20, 2010 6:33 AM

babak

what are you talking about.
Now what makes you think I am "disguising" myself? You can clearly read my name Ahvaz on all my posts. so what on earth are you talking about? every thing I have written is there for every one to see. if you had taken some time and read the follow up comments and conversations(and there are many) you would better understand my perspective and mindset. and wouldnt now be wasting every one's time.


I dont know or care who Richard McCulloch is. I cited a 1993 genetic study and the phylographic tree that was drawn from their study, which unfortunately happened to be within the text of Mcculloch. I cited the diagram not the author.
instead of being so cynical, had you bothered to read more of the follow up posts, instead of throwing such temper tantrums, you would understand (as others did) that I do not endorse racial superiority.

I do however find interest in human evolution, migration patterns and genegraphic studies as in national geographic project I cited.


The multiethnicity and multicultural nature of Iran that you keep bringing up, as if it is such ground shaking information, really is not terribly cerebral. All one has to do is take a couple of weeks to travel around Iran and see that Iran is made up of many ethnicities, languages, and religions. This fact is self-evident and not disputed. so please stop repeating it like it is some kind of a revelation. WE ALREADY KNOW! We have always known.

But that is NOT the point. You are missing the point. You are not getting the point. instead You keep bringing up the obvious multiethnicity of Iran. try to look past your nose instead. and read.


ahvaz / August 20, 2010 8:30 AM

@Ahvaz

it's weird none of these guys understand that Iranian(Aryan) is the cause and reason, all these multi ethnicity, multicultural and multi religious variety and diversity are united under one banner..

Alal / August 20, 2010 6:18 PM

Alal,

I think some of these guys are still stuck on bl/green eyes blond hair 'Aryan nation' and immediately put up a wall, and cite the multiethnicity of Iran as if it was not already obvious.
(I for one am on one side part Armanian, and on the other Turkish and Kurdish, and to top that off a "seyed" (whatever that really means!). So I need no lecture on Iran's multiethnicity multicultural nature from some one who is confused about their own ancestory)

What these guys need to understand is that being "Aryaee" or Irani/Aryan means accepting and tolerating others' religions, culture and languages as opposed to the current intolerrant, sexist, racist Islamic Republic.

It means accepting all Iranians (regardless of their origin, religion, or language) as our ancestors did as opposed to the current gov't policy of throwing Bahaiis in jail for 20 years and discriminating against Sunnis, baluch, Kurds, etc.

Ahvaz / August 20, 2010 8:06 PM

Good for you that you are both Aryans, you have something in common with Ahmadinejad, In the April 2006, one month before he wrote his ignominious letter to Chancellor Merkel, Ahmadinejad held a press conference at the auditorium of the presidential office in Tehran. He claimed that Iranians and Germans were both part of a common Aryan race.
Alal and Ahvaz, you make a good team, please
make yourself at home and do not forget to offer each other cold beverages while discussing and making contradictory remarks. Your comments are inconsistent but I am glad that at the end you have come to realize that Iran is a multi ethnic society ,
not on racial bases, , but on various cultural entities, which make Iran a beautiful mosaic to behold. If we read history, we come across organizations such as SUMKA, who were honest people advocating the cause of the myth. However, I think they would also adjust themselves to the tide of history and soften their language until they could seize the power.
I see no point to discuss with you Aryans as you also made the remark that you do not give a damn for my opinion. Your problem is that you are tainted with Antiquarianism and breath and live in antiquity and ancient times . The quintessence of Iranian culture is its diversity . Iran consists of many ethnics and these ethnics together make up the country we call Iran.


babak / August 20, 2010 11:06 PM

..ahmadinejad also said england is a small island west of africa...

try and see what "IRAN" means.. ;)

Alal / August 21, 2010 6:23 AM

Iran or Islam? In Tehran That is the Question.
Right now. Today. Again.

Amir Taheri writes this piece for Asharq Alawsat's English edition.

Does Iran have an identity of its own? In fact, could anything called Iran even be imagined outside of Islam? ..... Read on:
http://aawsat.com/english/news.asp?section=2&id=22025

Catherine / August 21, 2010 3:51 PM

...."The late Ruhallah Khomeini was no philosopher. But he, too, made the mistake that only philosophers can make. He took Marx’s advice about changing the world rather than interpreting it and tried to de-Iranise Iran. However, despite his boundless hatred for the idea of Iran, the agitator from Khomein, the luckiest adventurer in our history, also failed"....

...."This time, Iranians are emphasising the concept of Iran in opposition to a regime that wrongly claims Islam as its source of legitimacy.

This time, too, the fight is against despotism, not religion.

In other words, nothing has changed in Iranian politics. The schizophrenia continues as does the despotism
"....


Catherine
True, but what I'm saying here, is this time the opposition should be assisted with education, instead of basic extreme fundamentalism of any sort (cause of despotism) just to oppose blindly, that's when you put a stop to this defective cycle once for all...

Alal / August 22, 2010 1:00 PM

Human societies may get sick as individuals can become ill. A large section of Iranian society has become sick after 80 years of rule of the despotic chauvinism. Part of this society really believes that it is the centre of the universe and above all. It despises and feels hatred towards Arabs and Turks since it thinks these two nations have deprived it from its rightful place above every other culture. Arabs and Turks are to be blamed for the shortfalls of the Iranian society since Iran was occupied of these two nations according to historians. They argue that the glamour of the antiquity and the fall of Persian empire is due to the invasion of Iran by first Arabs and then Turks. Without these foreign invasions Persia would have been a vast empire and the centre of the civil world according to their belief. The depth of ignorance and unawareness is shocking and manifest itself in disastrous racial abuses of other ethnics residing in the geographical area we all recognize as Iran. In other words, this group is suffering from a superiority inferiority complex and narcissism. When we want to discuss narcissism in the context of the nations, we have to realize that loving your nation is not a bad thing, it is actually a good and noble thing to love and care for your nation and country. When this love turns into an obnoxious worshiping and hatred and superiority complex, then it becomes dangerous and self destructive. Chauvinism and fascism may result as the end products of this excessive preoccupation and superiority complex.
Characteristics of the narcissist disorder include:
I versus others' mentality, excessive competitiveness, tit for tat retaliations, striving for spotlight and attention, a sense of superiority, inappropriate and inapplicable language in front of others,
It glorifies and falsifies achievements past and present, extreme sensitivity to criticism, feels powerful when creating powerlessness in others, pathological lying, overtly or subtly arrogant, exhibitionistic, vain, manipulative, and greedy for admiration, grandiosity.
As you can see, Iranian society and the rulers of this society exhibit many of these characteristics. They perceive the world as the enemy and consider neighbors hostile.
.
Another part of Iranian society displays also characteristics of narcissism and racism after 80 years of cultural genocide and humiliation in the hands of the rulers and the prevalent chauvinistic approach against them. This part of the society is distancing itself from the Iranian identity and is seeking a new identity to define itself with. It becomes hateful towards its own individuals when they mention Iran as their own country. They hate Iran and exhibit obnoxious behaviour towards others. As the first group they also try to impose their own perceived identity on others, and they are also preoccupied with the sense of superiority and narcissism.
The majority of ordinary Iranians are preoccupied with neither of the above mentioned groups. They desire peace and prosperity, justice and equality but the current regime is paving the way for the abhorrent afore mentioned groups to spread the message of hatred and intolerance
Is there any cure for sick sections of our society? will the time heal the wounds and reason prevail or are we heading towards the abyss of ethnic wars and conflicts in the future?

babak / August 22, 2010 2:01 PM

who's talking about superiority that you keep mentioning so much??

who is talking about anti-Arab and anti-Turkish hatred, that you keep bringing up??

.."A large section of Iranian society has become sick after 80 years of rule of the despotic chauvinism. Part of this society really believes that it is the centre of the universe and above all. "...

.."Another part of Iranian society displays also characteristics of narcissism and racism after 80 years of cultural genocide and humiliation in the hands of the rulers and the prevalent chauvinistic approach against them."...


yes that is true and i also igree...


now for once try and understand what I'm saying :

1) I do not believe in that legacy either, as i do not believe in any sort of superiority, should it be race, religion or culture.....i also am against it..!!

2) the word ARYAN does NOT mean NOBLE....if you look it up it's simply the name of a group of people living in an area called ARIA in ancient times...now through linguistic evolution those words and names today are known as IRANIAN and that area is called IRAN

3) Ze NAZI Germans looking to make a false legacy and identity ( to justify their own warmongering and inferiority complex - read German history) looked back into history and put a self made interpretation of "nobleness" on that WORD and related it to the NORDIC race ( blonds with blue eyes)


now my argument starts here
by knowing these facts and also the fact that alot people don't know the actual meaning of ARYAN, and meanwhile in search to distant themselves from the tyrannical regime today, are confused with that myth that you keep pointing to, we all know it..!!
but it must be educated so the public know and understand the actual history behind it, just to unify them under the name IRAN, not to oppress it or deny it as reza has done in his article

that's all

now before repeating all you keep repeating...think a minute about what I'm saying...!!


Alal / August 22, 2010 6:29 PM

Alal,
Thanks for all the points you've made in this discussion. I have a question for you. In 2008 I spent a month travelling throughout Iran and our guide was then 64. So he spent the first 33 years of his life under the Shah and was therefore educated in the scool system of that time. When he explained the origin of the name Iran, he said it came from 'Aryan' - the name of the people who migrated into the gegraphical area of the ancient Persian empire. He said the Aryans originally came from Siberia and migrated westwards in three prongs: one went through the Caucasus into Iran, the other went into Turkey and I forget where he said the third ended up. All I know is that his explanation didn't sound at all like the Nazi myth of the pure Aryan race. Would this sort of explanation be more or less what Iranians were and are still taught at school?

Catherine / August 23, 2010 10:56 AM

Dear Alal
Whatever you believe or not, it is a fact that there is a hard core of intellectuals and ordinary people who stick to the notion of Aryan as the noble race or culture, Even the current regime is trying to catch fish from troubled waters and emphasize the Aryan myth. It is not only Ahamdinejad but also people from all strata of Iranian society, which claim to be from the Aryan race. Aryan concept is doomed among Turks and Arabs, who comprise a large section of the Iranian society, It will not bring a unity, on the contrary, it will divide our nation. If you hint on that Aryanism will bring unity and gather all Iranians around the flag you are totally mistaken. The only thing that may gather Iranians around the same flag and unify all, regardless of the ethnic or geographical area, is democracy based on reason and human rights, the universal view of human rights and minority rights. There is another way to unify Iranians too, and it is through repression and oppression, which are exactly what Reaza shah and his son did and Ahmadinejad and IR are doing. The moment this oppression is removed, and we know it will, We will face the challenge of our time. This challenge can be solved easily by adopting the universal declaration of human rights and minority rights or lead to devastating conflicts in an illiterate racially driven society with megalomania and grandiosity complex. Many people tend to accuse foreign powers to implant seeds of discord among us, but I think it is better to blame so called intellectuals of our country who are affected with antiquarianism and racial prejudices. I am not accusing you as such since in your last comment you are saying that you are not a supremacist. I admire honourable Mr. Ebrahimi to bring up this discussion, since I personally believe that it is important to sort this concept out before this regime is gone. Imagine this regime goes away tomorrow, and we witness large demonstrations in Azerabijan crying, we are Turks and demonstrations in Persian speaking areas, we are Aryans, combine it with chants such as d... Turks or Perisan d... in a stadium, and you have a second Yugoslavia at your hands, and I abstained from mentioning Arabs, Baluchs and Kurds and Turkmen. One last thing to mention is that Kurds are not buying the Aryan concept either and are demanding their rights. As I previously mentioned the only thing that will bring all these groups together is implementing human rights and a
government rule based on reason and human rights.

babak / August 23, 2010 12:30 PM

Babak jan

there is no argument that "we" all want a democracy based on human rights, the very human rights that is believed to be first announced by Cyrus, when freeing the Jews in Babylon..

..."Whatever you believe or not, it is a fact that there is a hard core of intellectuals and ordinary people who stick to the notion of Aryan as the noble race or culture"..

yes i agree with you on that, as we all admit this phenomena unfortunately does exist in our society, but the way you want to approach it i disagree; it is wrong to label all who do support it (as iranians, not nazi aryanists), it's against the very democracy you talk about... it must be educated to everyone that:
yes ...Irani means aryaii (aryan in english) and this term was abused by german nazis to create a false legacy (nazi aryanism) and it does not mean "noble" but simply is the name of the people, it must be educated that kurds are aryaii(aryan) themselves as baluchs, lors, ...etc

we cant turn a blind eye, or deny the history of the word and it's linguistic roots or even the fact that the SS symbol or the "Hakenkreuz" is actually a sacred symbol in Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, Mithraism and Shamanism, even today and is known as the Swastika...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Swastika_iran.jpg
(A 3000 years old Iranian golden swastika necklace from Marlik, found in Rasht, Iran. Preserved at the National Museum of Iran)

babak jan we need to educate people, not to humiliate them or mark them as racists or ignorants or what ever...


Catherine
The aryaii people did migrate but not as that simple, don't expect a simple old man understand the journey of "y" chromosome as an genealogist, or to be teached that in primary school 50 years ago.. hopefully thanks to the Islamic fanatics they have changed the history books, so that Iran has never had kings, and history starts with adam and eve..!! that's another story

but what i remember from 3rd grade history book (28 years ago - ketab tarikh sevom dabestan), was that Iranians (aryaiis or aryans) were a people who migrated to the plateau of Iran 6000-5000 years ago from central Asia or southern Siberia, at the start of ice age in search of fertile land and warmer climate, it didn't say about other migration waves, it was never mentioned "noble"

but if you're interested to learn the complete scientific fact behind these human migrations, which is much more complicated then what you want an 8 year old to learn at school, please visit the website attached..you can see it for yourself

https://genographic.nationalgeographic.com/genographic/lan/en/atlas.html

Alal / August 23, 2010 7:52 PM

Hi Alal,
Thanks for the answer. What you learned at school seems to be the same as our guide, who, by the way, was anything BUT a "simple old man". Don't know where you got that from. Anyway, I should have said high school because I was thinking more along the lines of what people would be taught when they could absorb and think about more complicated information. But yeah, good to hear it was none of that "noble or pure race" shit - just as I thought.
I'll check out your link. I'm fascinated by this stuff, too.

Catherine / August 24, 2010 10:52 AM

Hi Catherine
"simple old man" must have come out of my imagination, when trying to picture your guide..don't know why.. haha

Just to let you know we don't study ancient history in high school, Iranians have a passion for their ancient history that's why almost everyone studies it out of their own interest...well in this case a guide should know it :)

I've looked into those three parts you mentioned. i think its the three major Iranian tribes whom settled Iran, known as Persians, Medes and Parthians

nice to see you have enjoyed your trip to Iran

all the best
A

Alal / August 24, 2010 5:35 PM

I think there is a good understanding of the politics that created this monster. To create a propaganda and fear you need enemies. Ataturk did it. Nasser did it and Reza Pahlavi did it. No one has done it better than Hitler. It is the eternal us and Them.

Here is the part that creates the losing battle for the Iranian "nazi" front. 1) is what I like to call the cult of depression. Inta-Ashari Shiaism is tied at the Naval to the Arabian Pedigree Ali. I think it makes no sense but if your clerical status is based on the color turban you wear then wtf. 2) if every other word out of your mouth is Arabic or derived from some derivative Arabic...I would think it's time to figure out a new plan. for example "yek fenjun eh qahfe" Fenjun is Arabic, qahfe is not but most likely is from the Arabic because where did coffee come from? granted it is not as similar as French and Latin.Yet We don't see the french on a campaign to eliminate latin or there germanic influences. It's diversity and the Persians played political football in Arabia. When the Arab tribes filled the power vacuum how many people really died in battle? lol not many people accepted the change because they wanted it. Also these people who "conquered and destroyed" are my ancestors 3) No one gives a .... except people so desperate to Europeanize themselves. I am sorry I like my color, I m brown skinned and my lips are thick. I know I have arab, african and persian ancestry. I find it so repulsive that I have to live up to some kind of "look". It is not Just the Iranians, the Turks, the Arabs of bilad al sham and most of the light skinned arabs do it as well.

I am sorry. I had it. I am proud of my diversity and your national identity and falsification of history to fuel division and conflict is bullshit. The people of southern Iran, Iraq and eastern arabia look interchangeable. Oman and Hormoz, Basra and Al-Ahwaz(yes i said Al-Ahwaz), Bahrain and Abadan. Abusher and Muscat? Come on!

If Islam came to Iran in the late 700s? why are you still practicing it? So you are telling me that 1400 years go by and you were dupped. The hell is that?

preplexed / September 7, 2010 10:10 AM

Wow,
This article made me smile. This is what I have been talking about from the minute I heard about this movement among some Iranians. Thank you sooo much for this article.

Goli K / September 7, 2010 11:03 AM

this is exactly what i think

http://www.iranian.com/main/2010/sep/prince-persia-strikes-back

Alal / September 9, 2010 10:29 AM

I don't agree with this guy, especially about bigotry in Iran, since most of the ethnic groups get along fine and even intermarry eachother all the time in Iranian cities.

First of all, aryan just means noble and was refered to the Persian people cause they were considered as a noble people during the times of the Persian empires by others and ourselves also, second, We can't build nationalism on such an identity, since it's not an actual identity, but by using this to refer to our identity you're just making people more confused. I'm not saying don't use it at all, if you have to use then do but atleast use Persian or Iranian to refer to your main identity and base your nationalistic ideologies on that and build upon it, rather than "Aryan", since Iranians-persians aren't the only supposed "Aryans" so that sort of nationalism would be not only weak and divided but also fragile on many levels, on the other hand the Iranian/Persian identity is in the hearts of all Iranians no matter their ethnic background. Even though Persian are 66% of the population including sub-groups, most Iranians consider theirselves persian no matter their background, they celeberate our holidays, customs, traditions, culture, play and listen to our music, dances, have persian names, eat our food, marry us with no problem and so on.... Plus, Iranian/Persian nationalism is much more specific since it refers to mainly Iranians or ethnic Persians outside of Iran while Aryanism refers to 400 million people who most are not Persian.

Btw, you wanna see how Iranians looked during the old days? just take a look at the statues in Perspolis and pasargad, they look like your average Iranians today with the same features, how hard is that? if anything, the arabs probabely have more persian blood then them since we ruled the mid-east for a thousand years, and don't you think in all that time our kings and soldiers didn't marry Arab women and other mid-eastern folks? Just look at Pakistan, there's a reason why they are light skinned even though most of them are from the same racial group as the Indians (Dravadians)

Further more, I left many things out cause I wrote this reply in a hurry.

Iranian/Persian nationalist / September 11, 2010 3:46 AM

I am an Aryan, at least culturally speaking. My model is Cyrus, not Muhammad-e Tazi.

Ashkan / September 12, 2010 2:39 AM

Thanks Niloofar. You are a great lady. Mr. Ebrahimi failed to reply to your outstanding, intelligent question that why barbaric republic supporters chosen to reside in western world and not chosen to live in arabian or muslim countries. I am still waiting to hear the responce.
There is an expression in Farsi saying death is good for the next door neighbore child, not for my child.
Unlike nomadic tribes of Arabs, we had a great civilalization. Once messenger of Mohammad approached our king Yazdegard III in hope to convert him to Islam and our king said aren't you the same people who burying your own daughters alive in the graves?
Our civilalization is dating back to over 2500 years. Arabs are still stonning their own sisters, cousins to death. This law has also been practiced by criminal Islamic gangs who occupied our Aryan land for last 31 years. This savage law attracted to these criminals who are decendant of lizard eater arabs.
No one in rational mind and enough intellect can compare the Great civilalization of Greek or Roman empire with bed ragged, nomad, lizard eater Arab tribs? If I am creek or Italian one can accuse me being racist, but I am not and I can freely say this fact. That is true history and has nothing to do with being superior or inferior.
As Mr. Ebrahimi might know, We lost the war in battle of Ghadesayeh. The result was half breed arab bastards. In order these illegitimate children to be accepted in our Perisan community, we call them Sayyid claiming somehow they are related to prophet or God, but in realtiy they were illegitimate children of arabs like Sayyid Ali Khaminie.
Our history has been initimated with mornorchy, kingdom and shahanshahi. Either some people like it or dislike it.That is a fact and that is our heritage that we must proud of it.

Siavash / September 14, 2010 8:37 AM

MR. Ebrahimi falsely misquotes Gheraldo Gnoli.

Gheraldo Gnoli is clear:
http://www.iranica.com/articles/iranian-identity-ii-pre-islamic-period
There can be no doubt about the ethnic value of Old Iran. arya (Benveniste, 1969, I, pp. 369 f.; Szemerényi; Kellens)."." I quote him again: "this evidence shows that the name arya “Iranian” was a collective definition, denoting peoples (Geiger, pp. 167 f.; Schmitt, 1978, p. 31) who were aware of belonging to the one ethnic stock, speaking a common language, and having a religious tradition that centered on the cult of Ahura Mazdā
[http://www.iranica.com/articles/iranian-identity-ii-pre-islamic-period]

Sir wouldn't it be better to read what Gheraldo Gnoli wrote before attributing to him your own ideas?

Pesar-e Irani / September 16, 2010 12:49 AM

I would like to add that term itself has been used continously by Iranians as "Iranian" itself is a distinct ethnic group from Romans, Greeks, Berbers, Turks, Arabs, Indians..in classical Persian/Kurdish literature. However, this is what happens when scholars who lack competence want to make "politically correct" points and do some "khod-zani" (beating up their own heritage) as they say in Persian.

Perar Irani / September 16, 2010 12:05 PM

Haplogroup J, is not a Semetic marker, and it is thought to have formed in Iran, near the Caspian region (See Quintana-murci). Haplotype J1 is a semetic marker, which formed in Northern Africa, and it's frequency peaks at 9% i SW Iran (suggesting ~20% male 'Arab' admixture in modern iranans). Haplogroup I and J (once linked as IJ) are early neolithic markers that iranians (via turkey) spread into Europe, with agriculture. The IJ peoples may have been darker caucasoids, that established small populations all over Europe. But a lot of that J is believe to have disappeared due to the fact that it was related to retinal myopathy in the earlier European populations (based off Basque remains, J was a lot more common in the early days). Thus, the modern distribution of J in Europe has been misleading. There is considerable evidence that haplogroup R, is Iranian in origin. And R1*, which is the direct ancestor to R1a, and R1b, and derivates most common throughout Europe, shows it's highest frequency/diversity in Iran. R1 descendents are often thought to be Indo-European markers. This would make sense.

ztect / September 23, 2010 9:24 AM

IRAN simply means AryanLand. The color of your hair doesn't matter, it is in the blood. ARYAN of course are Master Race.
Shame on those ones who support nonsens articles against Aryan and IRAN. The best words here I got was mentioning the great words of Dariush I, ... Aryan from Aryan race.
When you don't have pure Iranian Aryan blood of course you talk against it.
IRAN, the Aryan Land is the glory of the world ever.

Ariamehr / November 27, 2010 9:20 PM

Eastern Iranians carry the rarest and earliest forms of Haplogroup R (R1* R1a*), which clearly is not present in Central Asian, Caucasian, and SouthEast Asian Populations. In fact, Kivislid and Reguiro, have already suggested that Haplogroup R formed in Iran, and through several movements, drifted and expanded throughout Eurasia. The idea that hordes of people came dropping down from a Post-Glacial European Refuge, is one of the greatest, and long-standing fabrications in history. Put quite simply, Indo-Europeans (or at least, late proto-Indo-Europeans) came from a span of land between Eastern Iran, and western Afghanistan. And moreso, R1 derivatives have a marked prescence throughout Europe, not to mention Haplgroup I, whose earliest form, I* is plentiful in regions of northern Iran (and not mention Haplogroup G, the Caucasian haplogroup, which has been linked to Iran as well. And given the unusual phylogenetic proximity of Iranian peoples to the theoretical Caucausoid root, as revealed by autosomal studies, one can only conclude that Iran was 'the' major site of Caucasoid evolution.

ztech / November 28, 2010 7:15 AM

Honestly this article has me conflicted. On one hand the author is wrong, and Iranians do in fact have a link to what he terms "Aryans."

On the other, they're so bastardized through intermixing with arabs since the conquest of old Persia that it's largely irrelevant. Yes, they're still more caucasoid than arabs, more intelligent. But unless they implement some sort of eugenics program in the next few decades then they're just going to be looking through a mirror.

To any Iranians reading this - don't take it as a criticism, it's not like we Europeans are doing any better - inviting hordes of semites and negroids into our countries. Disgusting, really.

"If only Arabs had not brought Islam to Iran, the country would be as advanced, if not more, than France and England."

I would also be interested to know why it is that the author seems so sure that the above statement is false. I would dearly love to take a ride in his time machine. Anyone who argues that Islam is anything but a backwards and barbaric cult invented by some primitive semite in a cave is a delusional fanatic of the highest order.

Mike / December 30, 2010 11:22 AM

There is nothing new in this phenomenon. As a Puerto Rican American living in the states, I see this subtle internalized racism all the time, between my own people, in how we make fun of darker Puerto Ricans and hear constant remarks about how us "lighter folks" have ancestors who are Spaniards and thus European and we are better because we have "good" hair, versus the darker islanders with their negroid features and bad hair. And if you look at the ones telling you this: 9 times out of ten they have HAVE OBVIOUS NEGROID FEATURES, even if their skin tone is whiter. Nothing wrong with that. I am just pointing out how a lot of latinos will deny to their death that they have any native blood, whether indian or black. Same goes for Dominicans, who will deny to you that they have anything in common with Haitians (even though most of the DR has 80 percent dark skinned folks with "bad" hair). Sure, Dominicans might be lighter skinned than the rest of Haiti, because of the Spanish conquest and intermarriage/sex between slaves and whites, but that doesn't mean they are "less black" than Haitians, but they will have you believe that they are anything but black. They will say they are "dark indian", but NEVER (GOD FORBID) BLACK. This is nothing new and will continue until people start looking into history and accepting facts instead of their own revisionist version.

and Mike, you sir, are a bigot. If you dislike semites and negroids invading Europe, then I suggest you move onto a deserted island and start your own nationalistic "Aryan" nation.

Chris / January 22, 2011 8:29 PM