In the course of Iranian history, Iranian languages have been written with a number of different scripts. The last one was Avestan, which was banned along with the Persian language itself after the Islamic invasion in 642 AD. After the imposition of Islam in Iran, the Islamic invaders imposed Arabic as the only official language on Iranians. The current language appeared during the 9th Century and is written in a version of the Arabic script. Because of its strong links with Arabic, language of the Koran and Islam, nobody has ever had the right to reform or modernise the language.
Today, our superseded Persian language still continues to be Arabo-Islamic (Farsi). Farsi is a hollow name; it does not fully represent our national identity or adapt to our future. Our culture along with our crippled Farsi is now constitutionally forced to take a further Arabo-Islamic allure, a project called “The Cultural Revolution”, planned since 1980 by the Mullahs’ regime.
The long-term objective of The Cultural Revolution is to root out any aspect of non-Islamic identity from the society by introducing a greater portion of Arabo-islamisation in our culture and language. It is to promote the existing “Farsi” into a pure Arabo-Islamic language. The process aims a negation of Iranians national identity--the case which was once imposed by Muslim Arabs, when they occupied Iran about fourteen centuries ago.
The Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran considers educational institutions based on Islamic principles and norms. The constitution does not tolerate any Persian identity in form and principle. The IRI’s constitution has implied this goal by saying, “since the language of the Koran and Islamic texts and teachings is Arabic, and since Persian literature is thoroughly permeated by this language, it must be taught after elementary level, in all classes of secondary school and in all areas of study.” Therefore, lesson of Arabic language and reading of the Koran will gain more compulsory character despite abhor of an increasing majority of students.
It is highly predictable that after the collapse of the IRI, Iranians will enthusiastically develop a popular trend of both de-Arabisation and de-Islamisation of whole Iranian space, including our language. The words, names, items, numbers, symbols, and all those which remind us of the era of humiliating Arabo-Islamisation will be spontaneously replaced with Persian or internationally established words.
After the fall of the IRI, we need appropriate reforms to free our language from the long Arabio-Islamic domination. A modernised language not only can revive our ancient and civilised culture, but also can effectively stop the backward effects of Arabo-Islamic culture from creeping back into people's daily lives.
While many languages around the world can be permanently and adaptively reformed and modernised, our current language, Farsi, has been used since the invasion of Islam in Iran as a cloak for the safeguard of Arabo-Islamic culture. Not only, this culture has been a launch pad to attack our Persian identity, but also has been practically crippled our attempts toward freedom, progress, gender equality since the advent of Islam in Iran.
No wonder, in a spirit of growing civil disobedience to the representatives of this backward culture in Iran, the Mullahs, and a trend of language reform spontaneously grows in Iranian youth. It challenges the unpopular Arabo-Islamic influence in our language. As spontaneous reactions, the young generation in Iran chooses non-Islamic names for children, learns Western languages instead of institutionalised Arabic, wears T-shirts with Latin writings on them, use a Latino-Persian on the internet. All these show the trend for an adaptive language.
On the one hand, a secular state in Iran will pass legislative proposals to ensure the task that our current language will be modernised and useful to our new society. On the other hand, modern-day methods of instantaneous communication and globalisation require fundamental need in a range of modern languages in order to create and maintain vibrant activities for the Iranian society. Therefore, after the IRI, parallel to restoration of Persian, a modern international second language must be highly promoted nationwide as a solid support for advanced education, research, computer use and adaptive modernisation in Iran. Both Persian and modern international language open one door of the continuing struggle for modernisation.
Let me emphasise, the reformed language has nothing to do with disregarding a part of our classic literature. In fact, no reformed language has taken away the worth of its classic literature. After modernisation of our language, our classic literature will be respected as a patrimony of our literature, but let me emphasise again that Islamic culture behind it has little chance to resist.
It is also clear that some people with religious or traditional backgrounds will try to delay the process of language modernisation. The long period of Arabo-Islamic domination over our people has left its debris behind. The indoctrination of religious values with the aim of mental retardation, especially during the rule of the IRI, will require a complete revamping.
Those Iranians who speak modern languages know better that our current language, in its current stagnation, is scientifically poor. In many domains of modern sciences, it is not sufficiently expressive. Developing a modern language in high levels of proficiency, particularly in higher education, will require significantly greater resources than are at hand. Our experts hopefully can focus on the study of development of our modern Persian. They may change or modify the words of many names and verbs to the pre-Islamic synonyms, but at least for the use of scientific terms, it seems more practical and easier to use their most common international words.
Iranian linguistics exerts have rich sources of pre-Islamic Persian to reform the daily language, but in the field of science, they should not complicate the language. In fact, a language is not only a coding system of communication, but also a bridge between thought and action. In other words, the way we talk can in turn influence the way we think. A rich and modern language can considerably improve our cognitive faculties, memory, mental ability, emotional expressions, behaviour, and even habits. The pivotal point is how to form a useful and productive language freed from the traditional burden and unnecessary complications.
All experiences show that the language we use gives way to Western languages. For example, the Iranian communities in the US or Europe can expect that only a small percentage of their children will be fluent in Persian. It is not however the case for Westerners living in Iran-- their children would speak their original language fluently. The reason is not only due to the country's official language but the fact that our language is not adapted to modern life. For example, children can not use Persian on the internet or for their modern toys.
The goal is to introduce a Persian language more Iranian, modern, precise and easier to learn. The alphabet we use is mainly Arabic; it does not cover all the sounds we pronounce in Farsi. Apart from some regions in Khuzestan and Kurdistan, most Iranians cannot phonetically pronounce all letters of the alphabet-- this is also one of the main reasons we have so many different accents and dialects in Iran.
Furthermore, apart from some ignored signs, we have no letters clearly representing some vowels. All of which turn the language more difficult and imprecise—a great number of Iranian high school students cannot write and read correctly.
Regarding the various problems of today’s language, a reform in alphabet is necessary, one which phonetically adjusts to the language. A further needed solution seems to be the introduction of an accessory alphabet for computer which is the language of future generation for sciences, researches and a spirit of modern and secular life.
An accessory alphabet should be worked out so that it harmonises the phonetic part to the written part. That is to say, we need an alphabet which correctly relates sounds to the written words. The new alphabet must solve the problems of vowels and consonants which are not phonetically pronounceable because they have Arabic origins that cannot be pronounced by the majority of Iranians.
In essence, the new alphabet must be simple and avoid composed letters and irregularities which appear in the history of any language. It should consider two main elements:
· The modernisation and adaptation of the society to the modern needs.
· The purification of our language from the backward Arabio-Islamic culture.
During the period of transformation, the old but reformed alphabet must be kept.
One of the main reforms of the post-IRI will deal with language. Our future democratic establishments should take care in rending language modern and attractive. Meanwhile, there should be little need for speakers or writers to waste time looking for words, terms, and expressions to mean objects or ideas. What is to be made of all of this? To ensure that a language remains the predominant way of communication, learning, and development we have to accept all necessary reforms.
Apart from an expected resistance from some Iranian grass-roots, traditionalists, and those who love the classic literature more than the future of country, there are some relics of the IRI who under any guise and trick will attempt to harm the process of reform. Contrary to the first group, they have belief and interest to rescue Islam even after the collapse of the IRI. For them a fundamental reform of our language is synonymous for a sinful violation to the values of Islam.
Considering all the problems with the Islamic Republic of Iran and the reality of the origin and conditions under which Islam was imposed on the Iranian people, it is legitimate to raise the question: How do we best bring an end to Arabo-Islamic ills in Iran after the fall of the IRI? Here, the question is not only about political secularism, but about de-Arabo-Islamisation of Iranian culture.
This must be fulfilled through a democratic process. It should not only be a turn of leaf in our history, but open a whole new chapter in our evolution and free us from the long and pernicious influence of Islam. Only through democratic process would it not only signal a new beginning and bring forth a new era, but also signify the Renaissance all Islamic world needs. Our fullest Renaissance will officially start when we get rid of the plague of the IRI. However some seeds of the Renaissance have spontaneously budded. One of them deals with our or Persian language.
But since such a democratic state does not exist yet, as much as we can, we, Iranians with some sense of responsibility, should try to restore Persian in our writings and verbal conversations. The conditions are at hand for Iranians, inside or outside, to start to introduce the demanded reform into the realm of our language. Thanks to the vast internet communication, the Iranian experts can help a growing segment of their audience to modernise and Persianise our language.
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