Regarding Iran, many people today complain about the current govt. The majority of these being Europeans, Iranian diaspora that don’t live in Iran, and a minority that lives in Iran. Many of these individuals who complain, are people that take no part in positive contribution of the system, to make the lives of people better. They tend to fixate themselves on their own material aspects of their lives and greed in general. Based on their rhetoric and misbeliefs, had Iran been a failed state, its current govt. would have fallen by now. In Iran, the theme of change, is nothing surprising, in fact, change lives up to its meaning.
Iran has had about 40 different dynasties in its entire history. After one civilization or dynasty would become weak, it would be replaced with a new one. Now one must ask themselves, if this was the case with Iran today, why hasn’t it fallen?? The answer is simply, because the time hasn’t come for Iran’s Islamic theocracy to fall, simply because “it works”. The country has provided stability, it has supported the poor as much as it can, it has unified the nation (ethnic groups) through Islamic brotherhood. It provides freedom for minorities i.e. Jews and Christians, while many so called “Islamic states” have failed. Language is a regional right for all the minorities. These are among a few strengths.
One wonders why the Sassanids fell to a bunch of Arabs. Well let us take a look at the reason. Khosrau the 2nd, had wasted many of Iran’s wealth and resources within the empire. The populatin within the empire was heavily taxed, to keep the empire going. Social unrest, a corrupt hierarchy, economic decline, exhausted resources and wealth, religious tensions, were among the main reasons which lead to the decline of the Sassanids. This made Islam an attractive force, to those who seeked “change”.
After 5 years of warfare, the Muslims lead by Omar were able to take over the Persian Empire. The Umayyads arrive, establish their caliphate. With the Umayyadds their biggest flaw was integrating the Iranian majority with the Arab ruling minority. The hierarchy of Arab rulers over Iranian native people, was a big mistake, and subsequently the Umayyads were replaced with the Abbasids. Under this dynasty, the Arabs and their Iranian neighbors, mixed at times, and got a lot more better, with many Iranians having the oppurtunity to integrate and achieve better positions. It was no longer an Arab Empire, but a transition that developed into becoming a Muslim Empire.The empires that came after, while they Islamicized Iran, they did not Arabize it. The integration of Islam and Persian and other Iranic culture, proved to be a time of prosperity, with advancements in literature, music, medicine, technology, and more.
To speed things up, we go to the first Turkic rulers. Under the first arrival of the Turkic rulers (Ghaznavid), the revitalization of Persian culture and language, was brought back to life, to integrate it within the empire much like the last few dyansties before it. Unfortunately, the early Turkic rulers were invaded and overthrown by the Mongols, that destroyed the Islamic foundations that had been built over time and replaced some destroyed and wrecked mosques, with Buddhist temples. Massive famine, starvation, disease, and destruction had taken place during the arrival of the Mongols. After a period of instability, the Mongols slowly and finally had adapted to Iran’s culture as well as its major religion, Islam. Agriculture and irrigation systems were rebuilt, and improved. Artisans and specific professions had less taxes than others. The trade routes, which were one major factor in economic progress, became stabilized and were made safer than the previous dynasties that had managed them before.
During these dynasties, Islam was dominant under the form of Sunnism. According to many scholars and sources, as many as 90% of the Iranian population practiced Sunnism, with a very small minority observing Shiitism. When the Mongols invaded Iran, Iran did not have an official religion recognized, because of a period of instability, however, the invasion ironically had no impact on the Shiite Islam.
Shah Ismail becomes king after some dynasties later, and the first one in making Shiite Islam, the official religion of Iran.This period of time involves many who are forced to accept this school of thought, others convert out of a modeling effect (look up to the words of the king and rulers), while many others accept it out of interest.
After many wars, and many dynasties later, we look to the end of the Qajar reign. During this time, the concept of monarchy as a force was falling. The Qajars were known for corruption, instability, modernization, an unfortunate series of losses especially through warfare with Russia and the United Kingdom. Bahaism, is known to be a tool created by the British, and transferred down by the Russians to Iranian Azerbaijan, to create religious tensions and instability, to deal as a weapon of division within the Qajar monarchy.
The Qajars and their Ottoman neighbors, both had been punished, through revolts and revolutions, that lead to their downfall. It was during this time, where Islam was misused and seen as a tool to control large populations of people, and to create a hierarchy based on the innocent religion.
Ataturk had been the successor of the Ottoman Empire, and had influenced the citizens of the modern Turkish Republic, to look forward to a new system, that would not follow the ways of the Ottoman Empire, and in turn create a new republic based on his own school of thought known as Kemalism. In Iran, the constitutional revolution had taken place, to create a new society and govt. that would not represent monarchy, and give more rights and oppurtunities to its citizens. Unfortunately, with the betrayal of Yeprem Khan assassinating Sattar Khan, with the aid of Armenian and Bakhtiari tribesman, Iran was still at a period of instability. The remaining monarch forces had also killed Sheikh Khiabani some years later. Reza Shah whohad once been a defense minister during the Qajar empire, took advantage of the constitutional revolution along with Tabatabaee and launched a coup, to rule the empire.
Reza Shah brings many changes, he opens up schools in Iran, builds new roads, cracks down hard on corruption, these were among many of his strengths. Iran had transformed from a monarchy to a military dictatorship. An admirant of Ataturk, Reza Shah launched many reforms in attempts to imitate Ataturk’s kemalism and reforms, but in turn failed miserably and many of the reforms were not ready yet and created a lot of economic difficulties. His modernization of Iran was too fast as many would say. His crack down on mosques, and observant Muslims, did not garner him many supporters. After a fall out in personal differences, and the direction of where Iran was going. The British and Soviet Union, deposed Reza Shah in favor of his son. Some even say that Reza Shah was poisoned to death, for refusing to give up some of his power during the time he ruled Iran, and not following the British or Russian interests in every specific matter they had demanded of him.
Mohammad Pahlavi, was no different from his father. If anything, he was even worse. Pahlavi attempted to bring a so called “white revolution” which was supposed to be a series of agrarian, economic, and social reforms, to improve the miserable situation of the country. During this time, many Iranian locals, referred to the white revolution, as the black revolution, since the effect of these reforms took for worse. Farmers had such little land divided among them, that they couldn’t manage to grow enough crops to survive and keep their lives going. Profits from farming was not lucrative at all. Unemployment had gone up to 40% during his reign. Brothels were opened, and supporters of the shah were many who worked in his govt. and those that supported complete westernization and opportunism. The death of wrestler Gholamreza Takhti, journalist Khosrow Golsorkhi and famous writer Sammad Behrang,were among many signs of challenges to his rule and oppression.
Islam, Communism, Socialism, and many other schools of thought, were among ideas that attracted many of the youth and civilians alike, as an answer to their problem. Ethnic separatist movements were on the rise as many of Iran’s ethnic minorities, created movements to rebel against the shah’s brutal authority. With all the problems present, change was needed. Finally in 1979, the Islamic Revolution had taken place. A revolution neither western (capitalist) nor eastern (communist), first of its kind in the modern era had taken place. Up until this day, the current government the Islamic Republic of Iran, has survived for 31 years, and has an unemployment rate of approximately 13-15%, half that of the Shah’s. The nation has rebuilt many homes. Electricity, water, and gas have been distributed in many areas that were left unintended to. Ethnic separatism was cracked down upon, and unity was brought through identity as Muslim Iranians. Infrastructure, science, sports, and technology have taken great leaps in making Iran a modern force. The nuclear energy program, is among the most recent contribution in making Iran a stronger and progressive nation with great achievements.
The question remains, will Iran continue progressing under theocracy and play a major role in the world, or will it fall and become replaced with a new form of govt. or ideology. Until then, the IRI is here to stay, and contribute to Iran, and bring new days of glory and struggle, to make Iran a better place, and make it a name to never forget and always remember.