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In the Mirror of Iran’s History

by Mazhar Barlas
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Mazhar barlas

You’re all quite familiar with Iran. If I were to begin presenting the history of Iran, it wouldn’t fit into a single column; it would require several books. However, let’s attempt to summarise here. Iranian history spans more than four thousand years. Several dynasties have ruled here, but Cyrus the Great transformed a small kingdom into a superpower over 600 years before Christ. After that, Iran saw the reign of many dynasties and ongoing wars among tribes. Following the Arab conquest of Iran, Sunnis were the predominant majority, but then Shah Ismail Safavi rose to power. He was a formidable ruler who not only conquered Tabriz in Iran but also annexed several regions of Russia today, such as Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Dagestan. He even conquered Herat in the Khorasan region. Yes, that Herat is where the renowned Sufi saint Alauddin Ali Ahmed Sabir Kalyari was born. Although Sunni Muslims in Iran held great reverence for Prophet Muhammad’s family, Shah Ismail Safavi declared the entire state the first Shia Muslim kingdom for his solace. Consequently, the Shia minority emerged as the majority in Iran.

Historically, Iran’s oldest religion was Zoroastrianism. After all, the Sasanian rulers were fire-worshippers. Well, we were talking about Shah Ismail Safavi, who hoisted banners of conquest from 1500 to 1510. If the Ottoman Empire’s people hadn’t come his way, he would have been a greater conqueror than Amir Timur. He defeated Shaybani Khan in Bukhara, made a cup from his skull, and gifted it to Mughal Emperor Babur, as Shaybani Khan and Babur were adversaries. After Shah Ismail Safavi, Nadir Shah’s name holds immense significance. Historians believe that if Nadir Shah hadn’t existed, Iran might not be here today. Nadir Shah was tall and had dark eyes. He was famous for showing mercy to his enemies and had a big heart for those who accepted his obedience. Nadir Shah had a massive army. His army conquered Ottoman territories in the west of Iran, including Iraq and regions of Syria, and achieved success in Delhi in the east. All these successes were credited to the commander of his army, Nadir Shah. Nadir Shah freed Iran from the Afghans’ grip, detached the Ottoman Turks from Iran, and cleared some regions from the Russians. Nadir Shah attacked several regions of the Ottoman Empire and defeated them. His victories hint that his two soldiers laid the foundation of two separate states: Afghanistan and Georgia. If Nadir Shah hadn’t been destined for Iran, Iranian territories would have been divided among Afghans, Ottomans, and Russians.

After Shah Safavi and Nadir Shah’s conquests, the Persian language also spread. Before the British occupation of the Indian subcontinent, Persian was the official language. Even today, Persian is spoken in many countries in Afghanistan and Central Asia. The Pahlavi dynasty’s name became significant in the past century. Reza Shah Pahlavi’s real name was Reza Khan, and he was a soldier by profession. In 1921, he overthrew the Qajar dynasty and established his reign. Reza Shah Pahlavi changed the name of Persia to Iran in 1925. During his tenure, the Iranian railway was established, and Tehran University was built. In World War II, Iran held friendly ceremonies with Germany. Hence, Russian and British troops entered Iran. The British compelled Reza Shah Pahlavi to abdicate and handed over the government to his son, Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi. Therefore, Reza Shah Pahlavi went to South Africa and passed away there. Reza Shah Pahlavi changed the attire of Iranians in 1935; that’s why Iranians still wear the ‘Penti Coat’. After Reza Shah Pahlavi, his son Mohammad Reza Pahlavi became king. He adopted the title of Emperor. Mohammad Reza Pahlavi took great pride in American ceremonies. He was proud that immorality and nudity were widespread in Iran. He was vehemently against religious people, but when oppression surpasses limits, nature bestows some angelic humans. For Iranians, that angelic human was Imam Khomeini. It should be clear that Imam Khomeini’s esteemed father hails from Kashmir. Imam Khomeini came to Sari Nigra, Iran, at least twice in his life. This ascetic human initiated his journey by nurturing a few students to rectify situations. In a few years, his teachings spread rapidly across Iran.

Today’s Iran is much different from the Iran of 1979.

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