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Why Iran is NOT an Arab country
| Chris Suellentrop
Posted on 10/10/2003 12:48:34 PM PDT by Persia
Who are the Arabs? It's not a facile question. Historian Bernard Lewis devotes 14 pages to the subject in his introduction to The Arabs in History. Part of the problem, Lewis warns, is that the term Arab "may be used in several different senses at one and the same time, and that a standard general definition of its content has rarely been possible."
The easiest definition is to say that an Arab is simply someone who speaks Arabic. But that's not satisfactory. Not all Arabic-speaking peoples identify themselves as Arabs.
To those definitions, Lewis adds a more recent usage that excises religion by regarding "the Arabic-speaking peoples as a nation or group of sister nations in the modern sense, linked by a common territory, language, and culture." Arab Christians--who weren't designated that way until the 19th century--were particularly attracted to that version of Arab nationalism because it would make them full members of the state.
What territory do Arabs inhabit? The Arab conquests of the seventh century spread the Arabic language and civilization from North Africa to central Asia. Under the Islamic caliphate, Arabic became the language of scripture, government, law, literature, and science. Majority Arabic-speaking countries remain in southwest Asia, Egypt, and North Africa. The Arab League includes Algeria, Bahrain, Comoros, Djibouti, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, Oman, the Palestine Liberation Organization, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, the United Arab Emirates, and Yemen.
Note the absent country: Iran. Alone among the Middle Eastern peoples conquered by the Arabs, the Iranians did not lose their language or their identity. Ethnic Persians make up 60 percent of modern Iran, and modern Persian is the official language. (Persian also has official status in Afghanistan, where Dari, or Afghan Persian, is one of two official languages.) In addition, the majority of Iranians are Shiite Muslims while most Arabs are Sunni Muslims. So Iran fails most of the four-part test of language, ancestry, religion, and culture.
TOPICS: Foreign Affairs; War on Terror
KEYWORDS: arabs; iran; iranhistory; middleeast; persia; southasia
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posted on 10/10/2003 12:48:34 PM PDT
To: nuconvert; DoctorZIn; freedom44; RunOnDiesel; F14 Pilot
posted on 10/10/2003 12:50:17 PM PDT
posted on 10/10/2003 12:53:22 PM PDT
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Curious.. are Iranians categorized as semitic?
posted on 10/10/2003 12:56:14 PM PDT
posted on 10/10/2003 12:57:01 PM PDT
posted on 10/10/2003 12:57:24 PM PDT
Indo-Europeans and Indo-Iranians
A long standing, and still unchallenged, belief of historians is that the people of Europe, Iran, and India, with the exception of Hungarians and the Finns, have their ancestry in common. Based on historical evidence and supports from archaeology, historians propose the existence of a pre-historic tribal confederation, called theoretically "Indo-Europeans", who eventually spread out from their original homeland to cover the mass of land in western Eurasia. Their language, costumes, and cultural characteristics survived in one way or another to the historical time, and it is based on comparative studies of various Indo-European languages and cultures that the idea of a common ancestry first came to existence (see J.P. Mallory for a detailed discussion of Indo-European theory).
A considerable amount of criticism has been bestowed upon the idea of Indo-European ancestry. It has been called a racist idea, it has been challenged by those who felt "left-out" of it, and it has been linked to colonialism and the idea of European superiority. Probably the worst use of this theory has been the Nazi ideology of a pure "Aryan" race. Nevertheless, our purpose here is purely historical, and for the sake of the narrative, we assume that the idea of a common Indo-European ancestry, first and foremost in linguistic and mythological terms rather than biological, is valid and at least supportable.
One of the most serious problems for all adherents to the common ancestry theory is the location of the original homeland of Indo-Europeans. Nineteenth century historians proposed an Eastern European homeland (lately revitalised by new archaeology), others saw Northern Europe more plausible, and in the Twentieth century, steppes of Southern Russia have won the most favour. Archaeology in the steppes shows the coexistence of many tribes during the proposed time of the start of Indo-European migrations (ca. 3000 BCE). These cultures show varied anatomies, and strengthen the idea that a common biological ancestry might not have been the case. Since no written evidence is available from this era, our only points of reference are their pottery, tool use, and burial habits, based on which they have been called the "Kurgan" people (from Russian word for grave). Their graves were built in a mount shape, and the body was buried in chambers, along with personal belongings and animals such as horses (in case of more prosperous members of the society). It is generally accepted now that Indo-Europeans as a historical reality were most likely a collection of tribes spread from Central Asia to Eastern Europe, and they all migrated in different time periods due to climactic and demographic reasons.
An eastern branch of these tribes, theoretically called proto-Indo-Iranians, lived probably in Central Asia and belonged to a branch of Kurgan people called the "Andronovo Culture" by archaeologists. These people, who called themselves Aryans (Indo-Iranian for noble, wellborn), migrated towards south into present day Afghanistan and Eastern Iran sometimes around 2000 BCE. There, they seem to have been split into two branches, the eastern one called Indo-Aryans by historians, and the other one proto-Iranians. Based on their later literature, we might assume an inter tribal war or ideological disagreement might have initiated the split. In any case, their languages, or what has been preserved of their oldest forms (Vedic Sanskrit and "Avestan" respectively), show remarkable similarities in linguistic and mythical tradition terms. These people were supposedly nomadic, they had domesticated horses, probably as early as their time in Central Asia, and had a complex pantheon of gods and natural forces. It has been suggested that prior to the first phase of their migration, Indo-Iranians have had a communal social system, but by the time of their split, they had formed into a patriarchal class system society. These changes, along with their complex belief system, leads some to believe that the proto-Indo-Iranian society was not as simplistic and nomadic based as currently assumed. Furthermore, archaeological evidence such as excavations in the Bactro-Margian Archaelogical Complex (BMAC), point out to a very early formation of settlements and commercial centres in Central Asia. Artifacts from BMAC show pottery very similar to the ones found in Mohenjudaro/Harrapan culture of Indus Valley, and Uruk culture of Sumer. Although the BMAC excavations show more influence from Dravidians of Indus Valley than Indo-Iranians, they also show an early contact of proto-Indo-Iranians with civilisation, and thus a much earlier formation of class society and complexity believed up to now. Also, the discovery of some pottery with what seems to be an early form of writing might challenge the accepted theories of the development of civilisations and cultural formation.
In any case, the branching of proto-Indo-Iranians to Indo-Aryans and proto-Iranians happened at the dawn of history, ca. 2000-1800 BC. Indo-Aryans apparently moved to the Indus Valley region, with which they might have been familiar by their contacts with BMAC traders. There they faced the challenge of an established civilisation. The traditional story would tell us that the superior military power of Indo-Aryans, especially their use of horses, left no chance for the local Dravidians, who were conquered, massacred, absorbed into the Aryans society as "untouchables" or driven to the south of the Indian peninsula. However, new studies whose scope is out of the capacity of the present paper, suggest that the conquest of the Harrapan culture and the establishment of an Indo-Aryan lead society did not happen as easily and took more time and included a higher degree of influence from the Dravidians on conquering Aryans.
posted on 10/10/2003 12:58:38 PM PDT
"Curious.. are Iranians categorized as semitic? "
Based on their repeated comments about nuking Israel and funding Hezbollah, I would say that they are classified as "anti-semetic". At least there clerics are.
posted on 10/10/2003 12:59:12 PM PDT
(Note left on my door by a pack of neighborhood dogs.)
I worked with a Iranian women, she HATED Arabs and was very offended if anyone mistook her for one. Also, she referred t herself as "Persian". She was very nice and loved living in the US. She later became a American Citizen.
Why Iran is NOT an Arab country
It's a sandmaggot terrorist country.
posted on 10/10/2003 1:00:20 PM PDT
(40% of Californians are as dumb as a sack of rocks.)
The clerics aren't ideologically Iranian, most of their beliefs are based on historical Arab mindset. Though they're Persians their ideology is based on Arabism.
posted on 10/10/2003 1:00:43 PM PDT
I dated a Persian girl in college. Very beautiful and very smart. But she was very adamant that she was Persian, not Iranian, and she DEFINITELY was not Arab. The Persians are descendants of those from northern India who moved west and eventually populated Europe. In fact, the work "Aryan" has the same root word as "Iran." They are not Semitic peoples.
Not very nice.
I would encourage you to understand what the people are fighting for in the country and not mix what the government does with the people.
Also, invite you to join DoctorZin's ping list, maybe, you will have a better understanding of Iran.
posted on 10/10/2003 1:02:18 PM PDT
Who thought that Iran was an Arab country?
... you will have a better understanding of Iran
My experience from PERSIAN immigrants has been that they are very gracious, family-oriented people with a strong work and education ethic. I like them a lot. Heaven forbid you call one an Arab though....
The Persians are descendants of those from northern India who moved west and eventually populated Europe.
Not quite. The epicenter of IndoEuropean expansion appears to be, approximately, Ukrania. Shortly after domesticating horses, they expanded in all directions from there, mixing with other peoples along the way.
In fact, the work "Aryan" has the same root word as "Iran." They are not Semitic peoples
True. Erin (the ancient name for Ireland) also has the same root. In fact, both Ireland and Iran literally mean "Land of the Aryans".
posted on 10/10/2003 1:15:01 PM PDT
I have read elsewhere and at other times that Iranians are more related to Europeans (like Kurds and us) than any of their neighbors.
I have also read that there is a larger number Christians (an not just in name, but practice) than in any other Middle Eastern country...i.e. Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Afghanistan, Pakistan...etc.
I have also read that the Iranian Christian Church has been growing steadily since the persecution following the overthrow of the Shah and under the Mullahs.
Also, according to the Iranians ex-patriots and particularily the Iranian resistance, the Iranians love America and Americans and everything about us and want to be like us. That it won't take much to set them free...easier than Iraq even.
posted on 10/10/2003 1:15:11 PM PDT
("The weapons of our warefare are not carnal, but mighty though God for pulling down of strongholds")
I worked with a Iranian women, she HATED Arabs and was very offended if anyone mistook her for one. Also, she referred t herself as "Persian".
I know a girl like this too. She is Iranian and would always refer to herself as Persian whenever anybody asked. Nobody would ever mistakenly label her an Arab. If I had to guess from her looks alone, I probably would have guessed something along the lines of Romanian.
Oddly, after 9/11 she suddenly began describing herself as Arabic, immediately sensing that, at long last, she could find herself some victim status by claiming harassment. She is an ultra-liberal college professor (a doctor of womens studies, if you can even believe that there is such a thing, who actually introduces herself as doctor).
She immediately started organizing conferences and candlelight vigils to publicize how she and her fellow Arabs have been routinely persecuted since 9/11. You know, possible dirty looks, waiting a long time to be seated in a crowded restaurant and such.
The imaginary pain this suddenly Arabic woman has endured is incalculable!
posted on 10/10/2003 1:16:55 PM PDT
(I've got my eye out for Mullah Omar.)
I would question several of those countries on the list...Djibouti and Somalia are not really Arab even if most of their people are Muslims...and the Comoros Islands (a few specks of land between Mozambique and Madagascar) is hardly an Arab country even with a Muslim majority.
Iran has an area where Arabic is spoken--Saddam invaded it thinking the people would welcome Iraqi rule. They are probably descended from the ancient Elamites who were neither Semitic, Indo-European, or Sumerian. (Elam is mentioned a few times in the Bible, as in Genesis 14.1 and Acts 2.9.)
when i lived there the natives were called persians. there skin is white.
posted on 10/10/2003 1:20:33 PM PDT
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