Persian people
Total population
Regions with significant populations
Iran Iran 50,629,000 [1]
Afghanistan Afghaistan 14,917,696 [2]
Tajikistan Tajikistan 6,094,132 [3]
Minority Populations
Uzbekistan Uzbekistan 1,406,430 [4]
Iraq Iraq 500,000-1,000,000 [5]
United States United States 331,000 [6]
United Arab Emirates United Arab Emirates 238,250 [7]

Persian, Pashto, Dari, Tajik, Uzbek, Arabic


Predominantly Shia Islam, with some Sunni followers, Bahá'í Faith, Christianity, Zoroastrianism, Judaism

The Persian people (Persian: ايرانيان) are an Indo-Iranic ethnic group that is native to the Middle East and Central Asia, mostly in what is now Iran, Afghanistan, Tajikistan and historically in Iraq. They were an important role player in the Islamic Golden Age and influenced their Arab counterparts. They also spawned the spiritual movements known as Zoroastrianism and the Bahá'í Faith. Today, the native people of Iran and Afghanistan are appreciated for their dazzling and elabrote artistic and architectural feats. The city of Esfahan in Iran is home to many beautiful and colorful mosques, palaces and complexes. The Persians are also notorious for adopting large Hellenic (Greek) culture while going to war against Greeks at the same time before the arrival of Islam in which they adopted Arab, Indian and later, Turkish culture.


The people of what is now Iran were first called "Persians" by the Greeks, which became the official term in all western languages until 1935 when Persia was renamed Iran. The term Persian originates millennia when the ancient tribes referred to themselves as Parsa. Assyrian inscriptions found in 9 B.C. referred to them as Parsua and Parsuash.


Early History 4395 B.C.-644 B.C.Edit

Iran is home to human remains as old as 10,000 B.C. The earliest remains of a permanent civilization in Iran is named Susa, which dates as far back as 4395 B.C. Another remains is located in the Iranian city of Sistan.
Proto-elamite statue

A proto-Elamite statue

Historians call his the Jiroft civilization, not much is known about it other than artifacts that archeologists and historians have found. Despite these, the first successfully recorded civilization of Iran were known as the Elamites, who prospered from approximately 2700-539 B.C. Their kingdom was mainly based in western Iran, in what is now Khuzestan and the Ilam Province, as well as some of Iraq's southern regions. The Elamite people were polytheists, who made artifacts from copper. The Elamites were also one of the first civilizations of Iran to have a writing system. Their language reflected much of Mesopatamian influence, their language was written in what historians refer to as cuneiform, where inscriptions are done by pressing hot wedges on wet clay. The Elamite language was unrelated to the languages of the surrounding regions such as the Semitic languages or the Akkadian. Although women had less rights, they were able to enjoy simply rights such as economic activity. The Elamites eventuall fell under Mesopatamian invasions from Assyria and Babylon. In 1,000 B.C., the first true wave of Iranic people arrived in what is now Iran, these are the ancestors of the Persians in Iran today. In 616 B.C., the Assyrian kingdom fell. This allowed, a group known as the Medians unified their independent state with Egypt, Babylonia and Lidya. The religion practiced by the Medians would prove the foundation for the latter religion known as Zoroastrianism which would play a crucial role in Iran's history. In 550 B.C., a man by the name of Cyrus the Great conquered the Medians and established a legendary kingdom in Asia, encompassing Iran conquering the other kingdoms such as Babylonia, Summer, Akkad and Anshan. Under Cyrus, the tribes of Iran were unified into one state, known as the Achaemenid Empire which was the first ever unified Persian kingdom.

Confederation of Medes 678 B.C.-549 B.C.Edit

The first recorded confederation of the Persian tribes is in the region of Media, north of Assyria. This confederation formed after the fall of the powerful Assyrians, an Mesopatamian empire that ruled what is now Iraq. Artifacts have been in northwestern Iran including ram-shapped rhytons and various structures. According to Babylonian contexts, the confederation's first dynasty was ruled by a man by the name of Deioces who reigned fro maround 700 or 678 B.C. to 647 B.C. and its last emperor was Astyages from 585 B.C. to 549 B.C.

Achaemenid Empire 550-330 B.CEdit

In 549 B.C., Median was conquered by an army led by a man known as Cyrus. Little is known about his early life, but few sources claim that Cyrus was born in 599 B.C. or 575 B.C., accounts of his early life are main through legends which resembles to how Rome was found. According to the Greek historian Heredotus, Cyrus was of Median royal descent but was abandoned at child birth. Astyages, the Median king of the time had a dream of a rebellion by his grandson because of astrological correlation and ordered the infant to be killed. The steward instead sold Cyrus to a group of bandits who actually took Cyrus as their own child. His upbringing is in a matter of dispute among historians. In 559 B.C., Cyrus took his father's place in the throne, but faced a Median feudal system that required him to recognize other lords over him. Cyrus despised this type of system and according to Heredotus, Harpagus, Astyages's steward, urged him to rally a Persian revolt against his Median superiors. In 549
Ancient relief of Xerxes

An ancient relief of King Xerxes

B.C., their combined army took Ectabana, an important Median capital which assumabely the starting of his reign. After conquering Medes, he conquered Asia Minor, Lydia, and Babylon which brought a great period of expansion for the kingdom.

Greco-Persian WarsEdit

Darius I succeeded the throne, and in 500 B.C., he invaded Greece. He conquered Thrace and Sardis. However, in 490 B.C., his army failed to capture the city-state of Athens, the great arsenal of Hellenic society and the naval power of the Balkans which ended the Persian invasion. Darius I prepared for a second invasion of Greece, but passed away in the midst of it. He left the job of invading Greece to his son, Xerxes I (Persian: خشايارشا دوم‎) who would become involved in one of the greatest military rivalries of the ancient world. While Athens was the naval power, its rival, another Hellenic city-state known as Sparta contained the most skilled and disciplined ground forces of the Greeks. Under Xerxes I, the Persians recovered from their military loss in Marathon and remained the military juggernaut of the Middle East. The Persians eventually threatened the Athenian and Spartan armies into uniting. The Spartan king, Leonidas led a coalition force of not only Spartans but other Greek armies as well, such as the Athenians and Locrians. Leonidas was a brutal military leader, although kind-hearted he proved himself unstoppable. The Persians dealt with an extremely feisty Greek army who used a style of warfare known as the phalanx. In 480 B.C., King Xerxes threatened to "send a rain of arrows" against the Spartans if they didn't submit to Persia. This did happen, due to the heavy armor and shieldery of the phalanx, his arrows did not penetrate the shields and proved to be useless against the tiny Spartan army consisting of only 300 men. The two armies met in Thermopylae, a coastal pass. Because of phalanx warfare, the tiny Spartan force was able to hold off the Persians for months. Every Spartan fought to the complete death which resulted in many Persian retreats and failed attempts to re-invade Greece. Eventually, the Xerxes' army defeated the Greeks, only thanks to extreme overwhelm and attrition rather than a true tactical military victory of any means. Despite winning the battle, the Battle of Thermopylae slowed the Persians down enough to give the Athenian navy time to prepare, it also made Sparta's threat to Xerxes to be obvious. Athen's king, Themistocles arranged a naval only consisting of about 378 ships at the most, the Persian navy had roughly 1,200 ships at the most. Persian naval forces entered the Strait of Salamis to try choking the Greek land forces. Despite this, the Persians were crushed by the Athenian navy, losing 300. In 479 B.C., a reinforcement of more than 100,000 Spartans and their allied Greek brethren defeated Persian armies in the Battle of Platea. After the Salamis and Platea defeat, King Xerxes I finally fled and retreated back to Asia Minor.

Parthian Empire 247 B.C.-224 A.D.Edit

In wake of the third century, a tribe known as the Parni led by Arcases I conquered the region known as Parthia in Iran today. The Parthians adopted elements of other civilizations, Persian and Greek alike as well a latter Latin and
Mithridates coins

Two drachma coins of Mithridates

Chinese. These people felt that they where Achaemenid heirs and restored the glory and the traditions of the Achaemenid Empire. Aracases I chose many capitals for the central government of his new kingdom. The Parthians also considered other Persian tribes such as the Seleucid and Scythian civilizations to be their enemies. Their unit of currency were silver drachma coins. The Parthian kingdom began its period of high expansion under the reign of Mithradates I (Persian: مهرداديکم), who conquered the Bactria kingdom, the region of Media and waged war against Seleucids, descendants of Alexander the Great. Mithdradates stood generally, until a man by the name of Demetrius II tried to defeat him, and failed to. After Medes was captured, the Greek influence on the Persians heightened, the Parthian royalties were Greeks who adhered to native Persian traditions to comply with the people - the native language was even written in Greek. Thanks to Aracases for the establishing of many capitals, the Romans found it hard to capture the Parthians, only capturing the capital of Ctsesiphon three times. Parthian met its downfall due to invasions from Roman and Armenian forces.

Sassanid Empire 224-651Edit

Main Article from Iran Chamber Society

The Sassanids established an empire roughly within the frontiers achieved by the Achaemenids, with the capital at Ctesiphon. The Sassanids consciously sought to resuscitate Iranian traditions and to obliterate Greek cultural influence. Their rule was characterized by considerable centralization, ambitious urban planning, agricultural development, and technological improvements. Sassanid rulers adopted the title of shahanshah (king of kings), as
Ctesphon ruins

Ctesiphon ruins

sovereigns over numerous petty rulers, known as shahrdars. Historians believe that society was divided into four classes: the priests, warriors, secretaries, and commoners. The royal princes, petty rulers, great landlords, and priests together constituted a privileged stratum, and the social system appears to have been fairly rigid. Sassanid rule and the system of social stratification were reinforced by Zoroastrianism, which became the state religion. The Zoroastrian priesthood became immensely powerful. The head of the priestly class, the mobadan mobad, along with the military commander, the eran spahbod, and the head of the bureaucracy, were among the great men of the state. Rome, with its capital at Constantinople, had replaced Greece as Iran's principal Western enemy, and hostilities between the two empires were frequent. Shahpur I (240-272 CE), son and successor of Ardeshir, waged successful campaigns against the Romans and in 260 CE even took the emperor Valerian prisoner. Between 260 andAnushirvan the Just 263 CE he had lost his conquest to Odenathus, and ally of Rome. Shapur II (ruled 309-379 CE) regained the lost territories, however, in three successive wars with the Romans. It isn't until an Marcus Philippus, an Arab, became became Roman Emperor in 249, and made peace with Sassanids. Khosro I (531-579
Anushirvan the Just

Anushirvan the Just

CE), also known as Anushirvan the Just, is the most celebrated of the Sassanid rulers. He reformed the tax system and reorganized the army and the bureaucracy, tying the army more closely to the central government than to local lords. His reign witnessed the rise of the dihqans (literally, village lords, (Persian: دهقان) the petty landholding nobility who were the backbone of later Sassanid provincial administration and the tax collection system. Khosro was a great builder, embellishing his capital, founding new towns, and constructing new buildings. He rebuilt the canals and restocked the farms, which had been destroyed in the wars. He built strong fortifications at the passes and placed subject tribes in carefully chosen towns on the frontiers, so that they could act as guardians of the state against invaders. He was tolerant of all religions, though he decreed that Zoroastrianism should be the official state religion, but he was not unduly disturbed when one of his sons became a Christian. Under his auspices, too, many books were brought from India and translated into Pahlavi. Some of these later found their way into the literature of the Islamic world. The reign of Khosro II (591-628 CE) was characterized by the wasteful splendor and lavishness of the court. Toward the end of his reign Khosro II's power declined. In renewed fighting with the Byzantines, he enjoyed initial successes, captured Damascus, and seized the Holy Cross in Jerusalem. But counterattacks by the Byzantine emperor Heraclius brought enemy forces deep into Sassanid territory. In the spring of 633 CE a grandson of Khosro called Yezdegerd ascended the throne, and in that same year the first Arab squadrons made their first raids into Persian territory. Years of warfare exhausted both the Byzantines and the Iranians. The later Sassanids were further weakened by economic decline, heavy taxation, religious unrest, rigid social stratification, the increasing power of the provincial landholders, and a rapid turnover of rulers. These factors facilitated the Arab invasion in the seventh century.

Islamic Conquest 636 A.D.-644 A.D.Edit

In the wake of the seventh century, a new monotheistic religion was forming in Arabia, from a man named Muhammad from the Quraish tribe in the Mecca-region and would forever change Persian history. Muhamamd's early followers already knew of Persia's existance and sent letters to Persian leaders notifying them of the coming of his new religion. In 633 A.D., an Arab general by the name of Khalid ibn Walid led an invasion to Persian-held territories in Iraq, but failured due to fierce Persian resistance. The Sassanids did have Arab allies, the Ghassanids
Battle of qaddisha

A Perso-Arabic illustration of the Battle of al-Qadisiyyah

and the Lakhmids who were Arab Christian vessel kingdoms of the Byzantines that allied with the Sassanids to resist the Muslim invasion of Persia. A caliph (relative of Muhammad) by the name of Umar chose Saad ibn Abi Waqqas instead to carry out a second invasion of Persian territories in Mesopatamia. Vahan, a Persian soldier for the Byzantine ruler Heraclius attacked the Muslim garrison in Yarmouk when he was told not too, allowing Umar to take advantage of this poor timing. Despite the vast manpower advantage of the Persians, Saad still defeated them the Battle of al-Qadisiyyah. After several more Muslim raids into Persian Mesopatamia, the Tigris and Euphrates river had fallen under Muslim control in which Umar finally was determined to give the final blow and an all-out conquest of Persia. Commander Abdullah ibn Uthban conquered Isfahan and Tabaristan and most of the central region of Persia. Despite fierce Persian resistance, Uthban still captured central Persia and key cities such as Hamadan, Qumas and Amol. Eventually the Persian rulers submitted and agreed to pay tributes and taxes to the caliph. A commander by the name of Maja’a ibn Masood led the campaign in southern Persia, and sieged the city Sabur and the ancient historic city of Persepolis. Suhail ibn Adi later conquered southeastern Persia, and ended Umar's new acclaimed territory north of the Indus River. Sistan was Persia's largest known territory, at least to the Muslim intelligence. Asim ibn Amr, who had fought in the Battle of al-Qadisiyyah carried out this mission and successfully took Sistan by force. Armenia and Azerbaijan was later captured as well. Yazdegerd III, the last of the Sassanid kings, was finally defeated in the Battle of the Oxus River.

Islamization and Arabization 637-1258 A.D.Edit

The treatment of non-Muslims in Persia varied from region to region, coming under the rule of the Umayyad Caliphate, a vast Muslim kingdom that would later become Persia's Islamic successor as the Middle Eastern power. Since almost all of Persia was Zoroastrian at the time, the new conquered ethnic group had to pay the jizya (non-Muslim tax) to the caliph. However, not all Persians converted to Islam and according to historian Richard Bulliet, only ten percent converted to Islam. Most of these Persian converts were those who willingly submitted to the Arab Muslim invaders. The Umayyad caliphs didn't like the Persian language, and worked to replace Persian with Arabic as the language spoken in Persia. The Umayyad caliphs did use some non-Muslims to their advantage, and used a tactic of discouraging the conversion of non-Arabs to get the Persians to comply. In 750, the Umayyads were overthrown by the Abbasids to become the big caliphate of the Middle East, which including all the territories that the Umayyads held. The Abbasids had believed the Umayyads to be too secular, and it is during this era where the Persians experienced mass-conversions to Islam due to the harsh religious policies of the Abbasids. In 930, the Abbasids required that all bureaucrats are Muslims. In the cultural side, the Abbasids and Arabs did adopt, absorb and became influenced by Persian culture. For example the architecture in Iraq, which came from Persian influence rather than Arabic arhictecture and Baghdad was the new Abbasid capital since it was close to Persia. The Arabic language also had a dominating influence on Persian literature and linguistic. Since Arabic was the litrugical language of Islam, it was tought in most Persian schools and the language of the high and elite classes in Persia. The Arabic script also became the new system of writing for the Persian language. Along with their Arab counterparts, the Persians became prolific philosaphers, astronamers, doctors, politicians and linguists. Ibn Khaldun, an Arab sociologist noted this phenominon of impacting Muslims, who were non-Arabs in 1377. He said,

"It is a remarkable fact that, with few exceptions, most Muslim scholars…in the intellectual sciences have been non-Arabs, thus the founders of grammar were Sibawaih and after him, al-Farsi and Az-Zajjaj. All of them were of Persian descent they invented rules of [Arabic] grammar. Great jurists were Persians."

Contact and Interaction with Turks 1037 A.D.Edit

Following centuries of Islamic expansion, West Asia and Asia Minor became skyrocketed with large Muslim populations. The Turks were one the biggest Muslim groups of the Middle East. According to Turkish legend, a Khazar Turk by the name of Seljuk migrated to the Khwarez region of Central Asia, where he converted to Islam. His grandons, Tughril and Chaghri took control and power from a Persian empire of Turkish-slave dynasty known as the Ghaznavids who had a capital in the city of Lahore, in what is now Pakistan. Mahmud, the Ghaznavid ruler repulsed their attacks but they later retaliated after Mahmud retired. In 1040 A.D., the Turks conquered Dandanaqan after defeating a Persian army led by Mas'ud I supported by the Abbasids.

Seljuk & Mamluk Sultanates 1037-1290 A.D.Edit

Alp Arslan, a descendant of the two mention Turkic rulers annexed Georgia and Armenia to Seljuk's new kingdom. In 1068, he invaded the Byzantine empire and took Anatolia. He took the city the city of Manzikert in a decisive victory against the Byzantine rulers and quelled down threats that came from them. Malik Shah became Arslan's successor,
Islamic calligraphy on a Seljuk Silver art

Islamic calligraphy on silver-gold Seljuk vase

his viziers, Tāj al-Mulk and Nizām al-Mulk were Persians and extended the empire's borders near China. The capital of the Seljuks was moved to Isfahan. The two established a university at Baghdad, was referred to as a "Sultan of East and West" by the Abbasid caliphs. The dynastic empire met its downfall in a typical manner which came at the quarelling of his descendants over succession. One of the Malik's hostages, Kilij Arslan I, succeeded the throne and the Sultanate of Rum and his brother established a sovereign state in Syria. Arslan I also faced European Christian armies for control of Jerusalem during the Crusade Wars. The Persians saw their extent into the Indian Subcontinent through another Turkic general by the name of Qutb-ud-din Aybak. In India, Aybak built an Islamic complex, the Quwwat Al-Islam and the Qutub Minar which today are still popular Islamic landmarks in India. The term "mamluk" means "slave" in Persian, because the kingdom was found by Sultan Mamluk, who was a slave and convert to Islam and his latter slaves who broke the kingdom into different parts. In 1211, Iltutmish became the sultan and established diplomatic ties with the Abbasid Caliphate. The Mamluks of India are not to be mistaken with the Egyptian sultanate of the same name.

Safavid Empire 1501-1736Edit

In the sixteenth century, the Persians slowly began to move towards their independent indentity. As a result of Shia (a section of Islam) orders, Persians adopted their own term "Shah" which was a word for a supreme Persian ruler. Ismail I, leader a Shia Islamic militant Ismail Igroup known as the Safaviyya invaded Azerbaijan in 1500 to avenge his father's death, which came at hands of battle in Azerbaijan. In 1510, he conquered Uzbekistan. In 1514, the Ottomans tried to attack the Safavids which resulted from a heated dispute between the two. Although the Ottomans defeated Ismail's army at the battle of Chaldiran, the Safavids were able to fend for themselves and prove to the Ottomans that they could fight back. The Ottomans achieved their victory simply due to a large manpower. Despite being a fighting hero, Isamil was mentally weakened by the loss and suffered binge drinking
Ismail I

Ismail I

problems. Ismail eventually did recover his kingdom and was renowned for being a prolific poet. He also born as a bilingual, in both Azerbaijani and Persian. The Safavids once more went to war with their Turkic counterpart when Tahmasp I became the Shah of Persia. The Ottomans generally enjoyed offensive advantages, forcing Tahmasp I to resort to other solutions to the Ottoman threat. As Ottoman forces advances, the Safavids used the tactic of scored-earth policy, leaving nothing useful for the enemy and destroying all possible resources that could be booties and loots for enemy invaders. The scorched-earth policy inflicted large causalities against Ottoman Sultan, Suleiman and abandoned his mission when his army reached the Zagros Mountains. Thamsp also created an alliance between himself and another Muslim civilization in India known as the Mughal and created a military legacy, by escalating the shambled Safavid military, defeating the Ottomans and beating the Uzbeks when odds were against the Safavids. Persia sustained a stabilized society and relations with other kingdoms were softened. But when Thamsp died in 1576, civil war broke out once more over succession of the throne, which was taken by his grandson Shah Abbas in 1587. In 1590, he made diplomatic peace agreements with the Ottomans in exchange for territory and rebuilt the military into well-organized ranks. in 1599, Abbas also opened up relations with European kingdoms using the "enemy of my enemy is my friend", and that one enemy was the Ottoman Turks. It is the Safavid dynasty that contributed to the golden age of Persian culture, which was during Tahmasp's reign in art, architecture and pottery.

Modern-Days 1925-presentEdit

The Pahlavi Dynasty was a modern-dynasty found in 1925 again, by those of Turkic origin and Persian by cultural
Reza Shah

Reza Shah

means. Persia was in the middle of a struggle between the British and the Soviets, and the Qajars, the ruling-dynasty at the time was unable to stop them. Ahmaed Shaq Qajar, the leader was overthrown in a military coup. Reza Shah Pahlavi took control of Persia and dealt with issues over oil with Brtain. His son, Muhammad Reza Pahlavi became the "Shah" of Iran in 1941 and banned pro-Soviet parties from Iran following an assassination attempt connected to the Tudeh Party. In 1979-1980, the last Shah of Iran was overthrown by Ruhollah Khomeni, also referred to as the "Ayatollah" (a Shia title) Khomeni in which Iran was turned into an Islamic Repbulic. The United States was a supporter of the Shah, as a result on November 4, 1979; angry Muslim demonstrators raided an embassy in Tehran and overpowered the guards. The United States air force attempted to rescue these diplomats but the mission ended up in a failure. In all the history of the Persian people, their nationalism was able to resist Arabization. The Arabic language never became an official language in Iran, as did Persian.

Iraq-Iran War 1980-1988Edit

Iraq and Iran had been at odds over a waterway known as the Shatt al-Arab. The revolutions in these two nations, with Iran's Islamic revolution and Iraq's Arab nationalism also fueled enmity between the two countries. Because most Iraqis were Muslims, the Ba'athists were generally open to Iran's Islamic revolution since they too, were not font of the Shah. The trouble also began to point out a physical rivalry between adherents to the Shia and Sunni sections of Islam. In 1980, Iraqi forces invaded Iran. Iran later invaded Iraq as a result of Iranian repulsing of Iraq's invasion. The war ended up in a stalemate, the U.N. passed Resolution 598 to quell down armed hostilities between Iran and Iraq, both countries signed and accepted the deal.

Iran-Israel Proxy-ConflictEdit

The modern-day Islamic republic of Iran has been known for its anti-Israel sentiment, and most Iranian politicians have wished to wipe Israel off from the maps. Iran and Israel have been involved in a cold war, supporting militant groups. Iran is a supporter of a well-trained Lebanese Shia militant group known as the Hezbollah (Arabic: حزب الله), that carried out operations and attacks against the Israeli army. Iran was also a supporter of the Palestinian Sunni militant group known as the Hamas (Arabic: حماس), although because of the religious strife caused between Sunnis and Shiites during the Syrian Civil War, Iran has since-then stopped much support for Sunni militant groups, since they also form the majority of the Syrian rebels attempting to topple the regime of Bashar al-Assad. Iran and Israel's possessions of nuclear weapons facilities has also heightened a fear of a nuclear war between the two countries in the near future.


Most Persians speak an Indo-Iranic language known as Farsi or "Persian language". Persian is the official languages of Iran, Afghanistan and Tajikistan. The official language of Afghanistan is a dialect of Persian known as Dari and Tajik in Tajikistan. Most of the Persian-speakers residing in Uzbekistan are Tajik-speakers. The Persian language and most of its variants are written in a cursive version of the Arabic script known as Perso-Arabic or Nastaʿlīq (also spelled as Nastaleeq). Since Tajikistan had been a former Soviet state, Tajiks have adopted Russian influence and the Tajik language is written in the Cyrillic script, an alphabet mainly used for Slavic languages. A lot of Persian people (mostly Tajiks) also speak Russian as a second or third language since the Russian language is still a language of interethnic communication in Tajikistan and Uzbekistan long after the dissolution of the Soviet Union.


Persian history is marked by a melting pot of religions. From the Pagan ancient gods, to the influence of the Greek gods. Monotheism has been one aspect of Persian religion, starting with the movement known as Zoroastrianism which simplified the existance of all the gods into two main opposing forces along with the introduction of Judaism and Christian to the Islamic conquest.


Most Persian people today are devout adherents to the monotheistic religion of Islam, with the Twelvers branch of the Shia section having the highest adherents. Only eight percent at the most belong to the traditional Sunni section of Islam. Islam's followers are known as Muslims (Arabic: مسلم‎) and worship in buildings known as mosques. The Muslims of the Twelvers branch are known by the same name (Twelvers), and believe in the teachings of Twelve ordained divine leaders who are Muhammad's successors (known as imams, the word for a Muslim preacher), a reminiscent of the Twelve Apostles of Christianity. Believers of Twelvers Islam believe that the twelfth Imam would be the Madhi (Arabic: مهدي), who in Islamic prophecy would accompany Jesus (who is a prophet in Islam rather than the son of God) to battle ad-Dajjal (Arabic: المسيح الدجّال) or the Antichrist in Islam prophecy. Ismāʿīlism or Ismailism (Arabic: الإسماعيلية) (Persian: اسماعیلیان) is another branch of Shia Islam, and unlike Twelvers Islam, followers of Ismailism (known as Ismailis) who trace their teachings to Isma'il ibn Jafar, the oldest son of Jafar al-Sadiq, a descendant of Ali - the cousin and son-in-law of the Islamic prophet Muhammad. Sunni Muslims are generally embracive of outside influences, however Shia Muslims such as those that dominate Iran and Afghanistan's politics are very conservative and believe that only relatives and descendants of Muhammad (Islam's prophet) can be imams. Shia Islam is the state religion of Iran and Afghanistan. It is the predominant section of Islam practiced in Iraq, the only Arab nation of a Shia majority which was under high Persian influence.


There is a minority that follows the ancient religion known as Zoroastrianism (Persian: زرتشتی), which was a religious movement in Persia that long-predates Islam which contains some elements of monotheism and bears striking resemblance to the belief systems of today's Islam and Christianity. The religious was found by a philosapher by the name of Zoroaster from eastern Persia, who simplified the existance of the ancient Persian gods into the two forces that opposed one another - one, known as Ahura Mazda carried the good vibes of the earth and the other, Angra Mainyu carried destructive and negative evils of the world. Ahura Mazda is considered the main "un-created" diety of the faith. Like Christians and Muslims, followers of Zoroastrianism also believe in a paradise or a hell after death in which every soul goes to, depending on their earthly deeds. They also believe in a final judgement, where good and evil will fight one last battle and an arising savior by the name of Saoshyant who would be impregnated into a virgin woman. Although the religion originated from Iran, India contains the largest followers who are mostly descendants of refugees who refused to convert to Islam.

Bahá'í FaithEdit

The Bahá'í Faith (Persian: دیانت بهائی) is a post-Islamic creation, and originated as an off-shoot from Shia Islam known as Bábism (Persian: آئین بابی), and teaches in a unification of all humans beings. It is also a monotheistic faith. In Bábism, people believed that Siyyid `Alí-Muhammad of Shiraz was the Twelfth Imam of Shia Islam or "the Báb". While Siyyid `Alí-Muhammad's new movement was seen as precursor, the movement known as the Bahá'í Faith was found by one the Báb's followers, Mírzá Ḥusayn-`Alí Núrí or later known by Bahá'u'lláh ("glory of God" in Arabic) broke the movement away from Islam and taught that humans were one single nation that needed to be united under a one-world government. His son Abdul-Bahá, later spread the faith. While adherents to this religion do not consider themselves to be Muslims, the Qur'an, Islam's holy book is considered sacred along with the Christian Bible. Mysticism and numerology are also elements of this faith, and since it is an off-shoot of Islam, it retains the use of the Arabic language as a liturgical language. In Islam, God has ninety-nine names and the Bahá'í Faith claims to have the "hidden" 100th name, which is Bahá’ (Arabic: بهاء>) which means "glory" in Arabic. The pentagram, the nine-pointed star is the symbol of the faith which is known as the Haykal (Arabic: هيكل) which means "temple". Israel is home to many shrines of the Bahá'í Faith, which include the Shrine of the Báb in the Israeli city of Haifa and the Shrine of Bahá'u'lláh near the Israeli city of Acre. Both of these sites are the holiest sites of the Bahá'í Faith since they house the tombs of both prophets.

Christianity and JudaismEdit

Christianity and Judaism have existed in Persia and like Zoroastrianism, predates the existance of Islam. The presence of Jews in Iran can be traced back to the reign of Cyrus the Great, when he invaded Babylon and freed the Jews from the Babylonian captivity. According to the Book of Esther of the Hebrew Bible, the Persian king Ahaseurus's wife was Jewish, the book is named after her. Persian Jews continued to live in Iran, until 1948 when the State of Israel was created and many emigrated to Israel in mass migrations known as Aliyahs (Hebrew: עֲלִיָּה). Despite this, unlike other Mizrahi Jews (Jews of Middle Eastern origin outside of Israel), Persian Jews are very proud of their Iranian heritage and continue their national solidarity with Iran. Many of them were nationalistic enough to stay in Iran, and have solidified their Iranian identity over the mainstream desire to emigrate to Israel, rejecting offers of funded migrations by and to Israel.[8][9] As for Christianity, Persians were one of the earliest groups in West Asia to have converted to Christianity according to Acts 2:9 of the Bible. Many of the early Christian missionaries were Persians, who were tasked with spreading Christianity to modern-day European nations such as Georgia and Armenia, where Persian dynasties had ruled. They were subsequently persecuted and beheaded. In the seventh century, Christians were at first protected by the new Muslim conquerers but began to face trouble with them. At least 600 churches operate in the Islamic Republic of Iran.[10] The Jama'at-e Rabbani (Persian: جماعت ربانی) is the Iranian section of the Assemblies of God, a group of autonomous churches around the world.

Art and ArchitectureEdit


The people of Iran and Afghanistan usually enjoy having one of the world's richest arts, which contribued to Persian involvement in the Islamic Golden Age. Persian art is highly characterized by the making of rugs and other woven-works. Most Persian rugs use elaborate floral designs, as well a animal tessellations of birds. In 2002, Iran was said to have imported $517 billion worth of rugs throughout the world. Also, Persians and Turks also created a distinct style of paintings. While conservative Muslims or Arabs don't embrace paintings of religious events, many of those that do were Persian artists who depicted events in the Qur'an. This golden age of Persian art came from the Safavid era. Pottery is also a popular form of art in the Persian world which are known as "kuzer gar" in Persian. They are not only a piece of clay, but play symbolistic roles in the literature and history of the Persian people. Like the Arabs, the Persian alphabet, which is an Arabic script plays a very ideal role that complements the elaboracy of drawn-art in Iran and Afghanistan which created a very distinct Indo-Persian culture to that of the Persians' Arab counterparts.


Persian people also enjoy a very rich type of architecture, as well as a proud architectural history that goes back as far as 5000 B.C. The city of Sistan and Persepolis are filled with many ancient Achmaenid and Parthian temples. The city of Hatra in Iraq is also home to remains of a large ancient Persian temple and capitol, since it was a major trading center. The city of Naqsh-e Rustam in Iran houses the tombs of the King Darius I and Xerxes as well as two other Achaemenid kings. Many of these were Hellenic and Greek-influenced temples. Modern-day architecture in Iran reflects its art and embraced symmetrical patterns. Many modern-day Persian complexes include beautiful gardens, pools and fountains. Even churches in Iran embrace this type of architecture over the traditional Anglo-Christian architecture. Esfahan is filled with many beautiful and historical mosques such as the Jameh Mosque of Nain and the Jameh Mosque of Isfahan. These traditions were later adopted by Indian Muslim kingdoms such as the Mughal Empire and led to the construction to such building like the Taj Mahal and the Red Fortress. The Qutub Minar in India was also built by Persian imperials of Turkish descent. The Naqsh-e Jahan Square is located in the center of Esfahan, and is a remaking jewel of Perso-Islamic architecture. The Persians are also credited with the use of the dome, which is a central theme to many mosques which the Arabs later invented. The distinctness of Persian mosques to its other counterparts become visible through its domes, which are usually given a shining turquoise color.


Main Article: Iranian Cuisine

Situated in the Middle East, the Iranian culinary style is unique to Iran, though has historically both influenced and has been influenced by Iran's neighboring regions at various stages throughout its history. Specifically, these have been mutual culinary influences to and from Mesopotamian cuisine, Anatolian cuisine, and especially the Central
Chelow kebab

Chelow kebab

Asian cuisine. Many foods famously associated with Middle Eastern, and indeed World cuisine have their origins in Iran, such as kebab and ice cream. It includes a wide variety of foods ranging from chelow kabab (rice served with roasted meat: barg, koobideh, joojeh, shishleek, soltani, chenjeh), khoresht (stew that is served with white basmati or Iranian rice: ghormeh sabzi, gheimeh, fesenjān, and others), āsh (a thick soup: for example āsh-e anār), kuku (vegetable souffle), polo (white rice alone or with addition of meat and/or vegetables and herbs, including loobia polo, albaloo polo, sabzi polo, zereshk polo, baghali polo and others), and a diverse variety of salads, pastries, and drinks specific to different parts of Iran. The list of Persian recipes, appetizers and desserts is extensive. Fresh green herbs are frequently used along with fruits such as plums, pomegranates, quince, prunes, apricots, and raisins. Typical Persian main dishes are combination of rice with meat, lamb, chicken, or fish and some onion, vegetables, nuts, and herbs. To achieve a balanced taste, characteristic Persian flavorings such as saffron, dried
Persian ice cream

Persian ice cream

limes, cinnamon, and parsley are mixed delicately and used in some special dishes. Dessert dishes range from Bastani-e Za'farāni (Persian ice cream, also called Bastani-e Akbar-Mashti or Gol-o Bolbol) to faludeh (a frozen sorbet made with thin starch noodles and rosewater). Persian ice cream is flavored with saffron, rosewater, and includes chunks of heavy cream. It is commonly served as a sandwhich, between two hot waffer waffles. There are also many types of sweets, divided into two categories: Shirini Tar (lit. moist sweets) and Shirini Khoshk (lit. dry sweets). The first category consists of French-inspired pastries with heavy whole milk whipped cream, glazed fruit toppings, tarts, custard-filled éclairs, and a variety of cakes. Some have an Iranian twist, such as the addition of saffron, pistachios, and walnuts. The second category consists of more traditional Iranian sweets: Shirini-e Berenji (a type of rice


cookie), Shirini-e Nokhodchi (clover-shaped chickpea flour cookies), Kolouche (a large cookie usually with a walnut or fig filling), Shirini-e Keshmeshi (raisin and saffron cookies), Shirini-e Yazdi (small cakes originating from the city of Yazd), Nan-e kulukhi (a kind of large thick cookie without any filling), and others. Other popular sweets include Zulbia, Bamieh and Gush-e Fil. Bamieh is an oval-shaped piece of sweet dough, deep-fried, and then covered with a syrup traditionally made with honey. Bamieh is similar to tulumba, but much smaller, 2 or 3 centimeters wide at most. Zulbia is made of the same sort of batter, also deep-fried, but poured into the oil in swirls, then covered with the same syrup (or with honey). Goosh-e Fil (lit. elephant's ear) is also made of deep-fried dough, in the shape of a flat elephant's ear, and then covered with powdered sugar. One of the classics, Halvardeh (Tehrani for halvā-arde, from halvā, an Arabic loan word meaning 'sweet', plus arde, the Persian word for tāhini). Halvā comes in various qualities and varieties, from mainly sugar to sesame seed paste (the aforementioned Persian arde), and pistachios.

Notable Persians or People of Persian OriginEdit


The founder of the major ancient Persian religion known as the Zoroastrianism


A Median royale who rebelled and eliminated the Median feudal system and found the great Achaemenid Empire he also wrote one the earliest human declaration systems, known as The Cyrus Cylinder


Fourth King of Persia who elevated the enmities of the Greco-Persian War

Atusa Shahbanu
نواخته شهبانو

Wife of King Darius and mother of latter Persian king Xerxes I, she directed palace affairs and was regarded as "having all the power" by ancient Greek historians because of her ability to exert her influence

Mithridates II

Mithridates II
Pontian king who led the empire to great extent and introduced innovating coining for its currency

Mithridates IV

Mithridates IV
Pontian king who led the Persians to many successful battles against the Romans

Reza Shah

Reza Shah
The first Shah of Iran who introduced many influential reforms in Iran and overthrew the Qajar dynasty


Founder of the ancient religion of Manichaeism

Artemesia I
آرتميسيا من

Artemisia I
Wife of King Xerxes who was the leader of the Persian Navy, she also became the ruler of Halicarnassius, a Hellenic city-state under Persian rule, King Xerxes became her lover


An Abbasid scholar, geographer, astronomer and mathematician who is a founding father of Algebra

Hassan-I Sabbah
حسن صباح

Hassan-I Sabbah
A missionary who found the Assassins, a militant group that protected Iran from outside attackers


A poet who pioneered Modern Persian Literature

حضرت بهاءالله

His name means "glory of God" in Arabic, a religious messanger who found the spiritual movement known as the Bahá'í Faith, which originated from Shia Islam


A prominent scientific and philosapher of the Golden Age


A poet from Iran who wrote the Shahnameh, an epic that is most popular of the Persian world

ابن هيثم

A polymath who contributed a big role to the studies of optical studies

آل طوسغ

Another polymath of the Islamic Golden Era who fluent in other languages such as Greek, Hebrew, Berber and Syriac

پور سينا

A polymath who is most famous for his works in the medicinal fields and is regarded as one of the most significant figures of the Islamic Golden Age, his medical works had become a source of standard medical studies in many medial universities, remaining in use as late as 1650.

Nizami Ganjavi
نظامی گنجوی

Nizami Ganjavi
A romantic poet of Persian literature from the 12th-century, his work mostly focused on the development of the Persian epic, to which he is credited for bringing a realistic style to, he work is famous throughout Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Iran, Kurdistan region and Tajikistan


A Persian poet who is famous for his works on love and exposing hypocrisy, and influenced post 14th century Persian literature, his poems are also used in music, Persian calligraphy, art and his work is often-not translated into other languages

Nur Jahan
نور جهان

Nur Jahan
Mughal Empress who known for her strong charimastic personality as well as being well-educated, she was known to be the most powerful woman of the seventeenth-century Mughal Empire and was known to have held the real power on the Mughal throne

Mumtaz Mahal
ممتاز محل

Mumtaz Mahal
The Mughal empress consort of Indian emperor Shah Jahan, she was Shah Jahan's favorite and most-loved wife that her passing made Shah Jahan order the construction of what would become one of the World's Seven Wonders

Amir Kabir

Amir Kabir
A Qajar minister who proved to be an effeciant politican of the Qajar dynasty and regarded as the liberal reformist of Iranian history, he is currently considered Iran's "first reformer" 

Anousheh Ansari
انوشه انصاری

An Iranian American engineer, co-founder and chairwoman of Prodea Systems, a private engineering company and also the co-founder and CEO of Telecom Technologies Inc., she also became the first Iranian into outer space and first self-funded woman to board the International Space Station

Hammasa Kohistani
حماسه کوهستانی‎

A British model of Tajik-Persian descent who was the first Muslim to be crowned Miss England in 2005 to represent England in the 2005 Miss World competition

Shirin Ebadi
شيرين عبادى

Shirin Ebadi
An Iranian lawyer, former judge and a human rights activist and founder of the Defenders of Human Rights Conference, because of her works in these fields, she won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2010 becoming the first ever Iranian woman to win the prize

Aravane Rezaï
ارغوان رضایی

An Iranian-French professional tennis player who has defeated many other top tennis players, he has a career that was ranked No.15 in the world as of October 11, 2010

Sadriddin Ayni
Садриддин Айнӣ

A Tajik intellectual figure who wrote fiction, poetry, history and lexicography that is regarded to be the national poet of Tajikistan

Fawzia Koofi
فوزیه کوفی

An Afghan politician and women's rights activist, who is a Member of Parliment in Kabul and the Vice President of the National Assembly who also plans to run for the 2014 presidential elections in Afghanistan

Nasser Khalili
ناصر داوود خلیلی

Nasser Khalili
A world-renowned British-Iranian scholar, collector and philantropist. Although he is a Persian Jew, he is known for his large collection of Islamic art and is known as the "cultural ambassador of Islam".

Mohammad Reza-Shajarian
محمدرضا شجريان

Mohammad Reza-Shajarian
A well-known Persian singer and composer who is known to be a master at Persian music, he is also a world-renowned figure of humanitarian activities and Persian calligraphy

Ruhollah Khomeini
سید خمینی

A Shia imam who led the Iranian revolution overthrowing its Shah and establishing an Islamic Republic

Reza Aslan
رضا اصلان

Reza Aslan
An Iranian American writer and religious scholar and an Associate Professor of Creative Writing at California, who is well-known for writing international best-selling books, famous works include No god but God: The Origins, Evolution, and Future of Islam and Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth


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