Iran’s Ancient & Historical characteristic
The history of Iran, commonly also known as Persia in the Western world, is intertwined with the history of a larger region, also to an extent known as Greater Iran, comprising the area from Anatolia, the Bosphorus, and Egypt in the west to the borders of Ancient India and the Syr Darya in the east, and from the Caucasus and the Eurasian Steppe in the north to the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman in the south.
Iran is home to one of the world’s oldest continuous major civilizations, with historical and urban settlements dating back to 7000 BC.
Once a major empire of superpower proportions, having conquered far and wide, Iran has endured invasions too, by the Greeks, Arabs, Turks, and the Mongols. Iran has continually reasserted its national identity throughout the centuries and has developed as a distinct political and cultural entity.
Median and Achaemenid Empire (650–330 BC)
Hellenic conquest and Seleucid Empire (312 BC–248 BC)
Parthian Empire (248 BC–224 AD)
Sasanian Empire (224–651 AD)
Caliphate and Sultanate era
Islamic conquest of Persia (633–651)
The Umayyad Caliphate and its incursions into the Caspian coast
After the fall of the Sasanian Empire in 651, the Arabs of the Umayyad Caliphate adopted many Persian customs, especially the administrative and the court mannerisms. Arab provincial governors were undoubtedly either Persianized, Arameans or ethnic Persians.The new Islamic coins evolved from imitations of Sasanian coins (as well as Byzantine)
The Abbasid Caliphate and Iranian semi-independent governments
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. According to Amir Arjomand, the Abbasid Revolution essentially marked the end of the Arab empire and the beginning of a more inclusive, multiethnic state in the Middle East.
Islamic golden age, Shu’ubiyya movement and Persianization process
Islamization was a long process by which Islam was gradually adopted by the majority population of Iran. Beginning in the Abassid period, with its mix of Persian as well as Arab rulers, the Muslim percentage of the population rose. As Persian Muslims consolidated their rule of the country, the Muslim population rose from approximately 40% in the mid-9th century to close to 100% by the end of the 11th century.
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. Most of those behind the movement were Persian, but references to Egyptians, Berbers and Aramaeans are attested.
The Samanid dynasty led the revival of Persian culture and the first important Persian poet after the arrival of Islam, Rudaki, was born during this era and was praised by Samanid kings. The Samanids also revived many ancient Persian festivals. Their successor, the Ghaznawids, who were of non-Iranian Turkic origin, also became instrumental in the revival of Persian.
The Islamization of Iran was to yield deep transformations within the cultural, scientific, and political structure of Iran’s society: The blossoming of Persian literature, philosophy, medicine and art became major elements of the newly forming Muslim civilization. Inheriting a heritage of thousands of years of civilization, and being at the “crossroads of the major cultural highways”, contributed to Persia emerging as what culminated into the “Islamic Golden Age”. During this period, hundreds of scholars and scientists vastly contributed to technology, science and medicine, later influencing the rise of European science during the Renaissance.
Persianate states and dynasties (977–1219)
In 977 a Turkic governor of the Samanids, Sabuktigin, conquered Ghazna (in present-day Afghanistan) and established a dynasty, the Ghaznavids, that lasted to 1186. The Ghaznavid empire grew by taking all of the Samanid territories south of the Amu Darya in the last decade of the 10th century, and eventually occupied parts of Eastern Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan and northwest India.
The Seljuqs, who like the Ghaznavids were Persianate in nature and of Turkic origin, slowly conquered Iran over the course of the 11th century. The dynasty had its origins in the Turcoman tribal confederations of Central Asia and marked the beginning of Turkic power in the Middle East.
Mongol invasion (1219–1221)
The Khwarezmid Empire only lasted for a few decades, until the arrival of the Mongols. Genghis Khan had unified the Mongols, and under him the Mongol Empire quickly expanded in several directions, until by 1218 it bordered Khwarezm.
The Mongol invasion of Iran began in 1219, after two diplomatic missions to Khwarezm sent by Genghis Khan had been massacred. During 1220–21 Bukhara, Samarkand, Herat, Tus and Nishapur were razed, and the whole populations were slaughtered.
Destruction under the Mongols
Before his death in 1227, Genghis had reached western Azerbaijan, pillaging and burning cities along the way.
The Mongol invasion was disastrous to the Iranians. Although the Mongol invaders were eventually converted to Islam and accepted the culture of Iran, the Mongol destruction of the Islamic heartland marked a major change of direction for the region. Much of the six centuries of Islamic scholarship, culture, and infrastructure was destroyed as the invaders burned libraries, and replaced mosques with Buddhist temples.
After Genghis’s death, Iran was ruled by several Mongol commanders. Genghis’ grandson, Hulagu Khan, was tasked with the westward expansion of Mongol dominion. However, by time he ascended to power, the Mongol Empire had already dissolved, dividing into different factions. Arriving with an army, he established himself in the region and founded the Ilkhanate, a breakaway state of the Mongol Empire, which would rule Iran for the next eighty years and become Persianate in the process.
Timurid Empire (1370–1507)
Iran remained divided until the arrival of Timur, who is variously described as of Mongol or Turkic origin belonging to the Timurid dynasty. Like its predecessors, the Timurid Empire was also part of the Persianate world. After establishing a power base in Transoxiana, Timur invaded Iran in 1381 and eventually conquered most of it. Timur’s campaigns were known for their brutality; many people were slaughtered and several cities were destroyed.
Early modern era (1502–1925)
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 (e.g. Treaty of Zuhab).
Safavid Empire (1501–1736)
The Safavid dynasty was one of the most significant ruling dynasties of Persia (modern Iran), and “is often considered the beginning of modern Persian history”. They ruled one of the greatest Persian empires after the Muslim conquest of Persia and established the Twelver school of Shi’a Islam as the official religion of their empire, marking one of the most important turning points in Muslim history. The Safavids ruled from 1501 to 1722 (experiencing a brief restoration from 1729 to 1736) and at their height, they controlled all of modern Iran, Azerbaijan and Armenia, most of Georgia, the North Caucasus, Iraq, Kuwait and Afghanistan, as well as parts of Turkey, Syria, Pakistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. Safavid Iran was one of the Islamic “gunpowder empires”, along with its neighbours, its archrival and principal enemy the Ottoman Empire, as well as the Mughal Empire.
Nader Shah and his successors
Iran’s territorial integrity was restored by a native Iranian Turkic Afshar warlord from Khorasan, Nader Shah. He defeated and banished the Afghans, defeated the Ottomans, reinstalled the Safavids on the throne, and negotiated Russian withdrawal from Irans Caucasian territories, by the Treaty of Resht and Treaty of Ganja. By 1736, Nader had become so powerful he was able to depose the Safavids and have himself crowned shah. He firmly reestablished Persian rule over the entire Caucasus, Bahrain, as well as large parts of Anatolia and Mesopotamia.
Nader’s death was followed by a period of anarchy in Iran as rival army commanders fought for power. From his capital Shiraz, Karim Khan of the Zand dynasty ruled “an island of relative calm and peace in an otherwise bloody and destructive period,” however the extent of Zand power was confined to contemporary Iran and parts of the Caucasus. Karim Khan’s death in 1779 led to yet another civil war in which the Qajar dynasty eventually triumphed and became kings of Iran.
Qajar dynasty (1796–1925)
Agha Mohammad Khan emerged victorious out of the civil war that commenced with the death of the last Zand king. His reign is noted for the reemergence of a centrally led and united Iran. After the death of Nader Shah and the last of the Zands, most of Iran’s Caucasian territories had broken away into various Caucasian khanates. Georgia was seen as one of the most integral territories. For Agha Mohammad Khan, the resubjugation and reintegration of Georgia into the Iranian Empire was part of the same process that had brought Shiraz, Isfahan, and Tabriz under his rule.
Agha Mohammad Khan invaded the Caucasus region after crossing the Aras river, and, while on his way to Georgia, he re-subjugated Iran’s territories of the Erivan Khanate, Shirvan, Nakhchivan Khanate, Ganja khanate, Derbent Khanate, Baku khanate, Talysh Khanate, Shaki Khanate, Karabakh Khanate, which comprise modern-day Armenia, Azerbaijan, Dagestan, and Igdir. Having reached Georgia with his large army, it culminated in the Battle of Krtsanisi, which resulted in the capture, and sack of Tbilisi, as well as the effective resubjugation of Georgia into Iran. Agha Mohammad was formally crowned Shah in 1796 in the Mughan plain, just like his predecessor Nader Shah was about sixty years earlier.
Iranian Revolution and the Islamic Republic (1979)
The Iranian Revolution, also known as the Islamic Revolution, was the revolution that transformed Iran from an absolute monarchy under Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, to an Islamic republic under Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, one of the leaders of the revolution and founder of the Islamic Republic. Its time span can be said to have begun in January 1978 with the first major demonstrations, and concluded with the approval of the new theocratic Constitution—whereby Ayatollah Khomeini became Supreme Leader of the country—in December 1979.
In between, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi left the country for exile in January 1979 after strikes and demonstrations paralyzed the country, and on February 1, 1979 Ayatollah Khomeini returned to Tehran to a greeting of several million Iranians. The final collapse of the Pahlavi dynasty occurred shortly after on February 11 when Iran’s military declared itself “neutral” after guerrillas and rebel troops overwhelmed troops loyal to the Shah in armed street fighting. Iran officially became an Islamic Republic on April 1, 1979, when Iranians overwhelmingly approved a national referendum to make it so.
The Islamic revolution also created great impact around the world. In the non-Muslim world, it has changed the image of Islam, generating much interest in the politics and spirituality of Islamic.