Persia, Islam, and the Sheii Sunni Divide By: Mostafa Moini, Ph'D Professor of Economics Oklahoma Ci - PowerPoint PPT Presentation

1 / 78
About This Presentation

Persia, Islam, and the Sheii Sunni Divide By: Mostafa Moini, Ph'D Professor of Economics Oklahoma Ci


... rapid rise of China to the status of an industrial giant of enormous military ... realities of Iran than were their Iraqi prototypes with the situation in Iraq. ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

Number of Views:158
Avg rating:3.0/5.0
Slides: 79
Provided by: mostaf5


Transcript and Presenter's Notes

Title: Persia, Islam, and the Sheii Sunni Divide By: Mostafa Moini, Ph'D Professor of Economics Oklahoma Ci

Persia, Islam, and the Sheii / Sunni
DivideByMostafa Moini, Ph.DProfessor of
EconomicsOklahoma City UniversityCapitol
Rotary ClubOklahoma City
April 11, 2007
Persia, Islam, and the Shii / Sunni DivideApril
11, 2007All rights to this work belong to
Mostafa Moini, Ph.D. I hereby grant the right to
redistribute this work, as long as the new
distributor grants the same freedoms to others
and acknowledges the author and the Capitol
Rotary Club of Oklahoma City, where the work was
first presented on April 11, 2007.Commercial
use of any part of this work requires advance
permission from the author. Mostafa Moini, Ph.D.
Prologue INot only most ordinary Americans but
even some among those who, by virtue of their
positions in various branches of government, are
able to influence the direction of the U.S.
foreign policy in one way or another, tend to
view the Middle East as a relatively homogeneous
whole, a monolithic conceptual unit about which
unified policies may be formulated and executed.
This is very far from the reality of the
region and any policies based on such
misconception is bound to prove costly for the
U.S. as well as the various people in that part
of the world.
Prologue IIAlthough the ethnic and religious
clashes in the post-Saddam Iraq have shocked many
Americans about how little they know about the
ethnic, cultural, linguistic, and religious
diversity in that country, the American publics
knowledge of the whole region continues to remain
deplorably low. No American business would ever
try to launch a new product without an adequate
market study. Why should the American government
launch major foreign policy initiatives without
sufficient knowledge of what it is getting into?
Prologue III Some of the more informed
observers of the American policy scene (such as
Thomas Friedman) have persuasively argued that
many geo-political and cultural factors coalesce
in favor of strategic alliance between U.S. and
Iran. This implies that, far from being an enemy,
Iran is perhaps a potential friend in the region
for the U.S.The friendship could even prove
long-lasting and reliable because of the
existence of common geo-political interests
between the two countries.It is difficult to
disagree with such a position. Not only the
well-known oil resources of the Persian Gulf
region, but just as importantly, the
less-talked-about, vast natural gas reserves of
the east Caspian (Mazandaran Sea) is another
factor that raises the geopolitical stakes of the
region to being perhaps among the highest in the
Prologue IVWith the rapid rise of China to the
status of an industrial giant of enormous
military potential (with increasingly closer ties
with Japan), re-emergence of Russia as a
superpower, and the quickly developing
Sino-Russian cooperation in many areas, chances
are that a strong Iran may even prove beneficial
to the U.S. and European interests in the Middle
East and Central Asia. But it appears that Iran
is increasingly less williing to subscribe to the
kind of submissive, dependent status that
characterized its relations with the U.S. during
the Shahs years,1945-1979. Iranians are becoming
increasingly more conscious of the unique
position of their culture in the history of human
civilization, and of its significant and
sustained contributions to the humanitys
spiritual, moral, philosophical, scientific,
esthetic, and literary heritage.
Prologue VFurthermore, Iranians are
well-informed about the nature of the external,
geo-political, and internal, socio-historical
conditions that combined to cause the
19th-century collapse of their territorial span
to less than one third of the average (and one
fifth of the maximum) of what it had been during
most of the countrys 2600 years history.
Consequently, they would be reluctant to enter
into any long-term international relations that
would not be consistent with (1) their rational
(political and economic) interests and (2) their
sense of cultural and historical identity.
Prologue VI It would be a mistake to imagine
that a regime change (even if it could be pulled
off) would change anything about this sense of
moral, spiritual, and political awareness. Iran
cannot be subdued or subjected to any kind of
heavy-handed relation for any length of time.
Even in the extremely unlikely event of any
short-term successes in this direction, the
long-term consequences would prove disastrous for
all sides.The U.S. policy makers should
exercise caution about the advices provided by
the Chalabi types among some Iranians abroad (and
about the various clicks here and there which are
anxious to offer their services for a U.S.
invasion of the Iran). These people are no more
credible and no more in touch with the realities
of Iran than were their Iraqi prototypes with the
situation in Iraq.
Prologue VIIIt is not difficult to know what
Iran perceives to be its vital interests visa vis
U.S. More than all other considerations, Iran
insists on being recognized as a regional power,
commensurate with its significant cultural and
historical weight in that part of the world. The
sooner the U.S. realizes that such recognition is
in fact quite consistent with its own interests
there, the quicker can it enter into effective
cooperation with Iran in order to search for the
ways and means of addressing the crisis that is
increasingly engulfing the whole region.A
realistic U.S. policy would realize that the days
of puppet regimes in Iran is over, regardless of
what particular strata within the society may
ascend to power. The bitter memories of the 19th
century territorial losses and political
humiliation of Iran in the hands of the colonial
powers have apparently immunized the population
at all levels against the efficacy of any kind of
power politics that may be reminiscent of the
spirit or tactics of colonialism.
Prologue VIIIFurthermore, Iran is quite
conscious of the fact that cultural, linguistic,
literary, and ideological cohesion of the greater
Iran has remained virtually intact, in spite of
the artificial political boundaries that were
imposed on her during the 19th century. The
processes of cohesion and integration appear to
be unfolding, and indeed accelerating, within the
supra-political body of the historically anchored
culture of the Greater Iran.The thrust of this
movement is a return to the deeply moral and
humanistic ethos of Zoroastrian world view (and
of one of its most significant post-Islamic
expressions, namely, Sufism). Such moral force
with its region-wide and long-standing historical
roots cannot be man-handled with short-sighted
political maneuvers.
Prologue IXShould the U.S. foreign policy
awaken to the aforesaid realities, it can
formulate a meaningful Middle Eastern and Central
Asian geo-political strategy that would help
advance its political as well as moral cause and
it would help it to win a badly needed reliable
friend in the region.
Prologue XIndeed U.S. should encourage the
development of a regional common market involving
Iran, Afghanistan, Tajikistan and other
east-Caspian states, the Caucasus, and Pakistan.
Because of the strength of the common cultural
and historical roots among the people in these
areas, such a common market could develop quite
rapidly and help eradicate poverty and other
roots of discontent and instability. An
energetic initiative by U.S. in this direction
could win it a lot of friends, help it in gaining
more credibility and in recovering from a badly
tarnished image. This could in time create a
powerful geo-political balancing factor against
the future hegemonies of China and Russia in the
Prologue XIBut exploration of such positive
potentials would entail abandonment of the
colonial-era style of politics in favor of a
vision that is based on the realities on the
ground today, and the developments that are most
likely to unfold over the coming decades. And it
would require a genuine commitment to the
politics of cooperation based on mutual interests
and mutual respect.
Prologue XIIDuring the Cold War era U.S. could
plausibly and credibly claim moral superiority in
comparison with the oppressive authoritarian
regimes in the former Soviet Union and other
communist states. The force of this relative
moral standing was sufficient to enable U.S. to
present itself to the world as a positive force
and partially neutralize the negative images that
were associated with its support and sustenance
of the Shah-like puppet regimes around the
world.There were of course important real
factors at work as well, which enhanced her
positive image, such as the creative and
constructive policies she adopted and implemented
toward Japan and Europe in the aftermath of World
War II.Following the fall of the former Soviet
Union U.S. had a golden opportunity to prove its
claim to moral high grounds in its relations with
the developing countries around the globe, by
adhering consistently to its purported objectives
of well-meaning politics and open-markets fare
Prologue XIIIBut it failed to do so and instead
it allowed its policies to slide into
short-sighted positions, which were influenced
heavily by special interests which, as usual,
tended to be in conflict with the countrys
long-term position as a pre-eminent global power.
In this way U.S. lost the opportunity to earn
long-lasting credit and respect for herself by
demonstrating that it was fully capable of
providing the world with economic as well as
moral leadership. Even more damaging than the
loss of opportunities to earn credit have been
the massive losses that U.S. has suffered in
terms of reputation capital and political
credibility. This is a bottom-line reality that
no amount of linguistic gymnastics and sophistry
can cover up. Just as no merchant or banker can
call losses of capital and credit anything but
bankruptcy, a realistic assessment of the recent
U.S. international policy cannot be called
anything but capital-eroding and
Prologue XIVChances are that once the country
passes through the present ordeal and overcomes
the shock of the confusion it finds itself in due
to its engagements in Iraq and Afghanistan, and
once it is able to make a full assessment of the
material and moral damages it has suffered in the
course of such ventures, the U.S. congress will
search for institutional and constitutional
safeguards that would make the occurrences of
such hemorrhages less likely in the future.This
is a truly tragic event in the unfolding of the
worlds contemporary history because, all its
errors and shortcomings aside, Americas lead in
economics, entrepreneurship, and science has
given so much to the world in tangible results
and, even more importantly, in terms of a model
of social organization.
Prologue XV Therefore, it is quite unfortunate
that just as, following the fall of communism,
the world was hoping that the American Model
was going to help each country to overcome the
problems of poverty, injustice and political
oppression, America itself came to loose the
moral credibility that laid at the very
foundation of such hopes. The purpose of this
presentation is to provide a brief overview of
one aspect of the diversity in the Middle East,
namely, the Sheii Sunni divide and its
historical background. Every step , no matter how
small, toward a better knowledge of the reality
of the world situation around us would count as a
credit entry on the ledger of a more rational
geo-political strategy.
Persia or IranPersia, conventional European
designation of the country now known as
Iran.This name was in general use in the West
until 1935, although the Iranians themselves had
long called their country Iran. (Guisepi,
2004)In this presentation Persia refers to
the Persian Empire until the Arab conquest in the
7th century AD , and Iran refers to the country
since then
Present Day Iran (Central Figure)
Present Day Iran (Central Figure)
Land Area of Iran at Present
625,000 sq mi 2.4 times Texas (262,000 sq mi)
About 18 of Continental U.S. For most of its
2600 years history Persias size has varied
between 45 to 75 of the size of the Continental
Territorial Losses, 1812-1905 (Surrounding
Colored Areas)
Iran, 1723-1735 AD (Afshar Dynasty)
Iran, 1299-1523 AD (Safavi Empire)
19th Century Collapse I
1813 Gulestan Treaty Iran loses control over
large areas of the Caucasus. 1828 Turkamanchay
Treaty Signed by Fath Ali Shah. Imperial Russia
gains sovereingty over the Caucasus. 1857 Paris
Treaty Iran loses Herat and parts of Afghanistan
in exchange for the evacuation of Iran's southern
ports by Great Britain.
19th Century Collapse II
1881 Akhal Treaty Signed by Nasereddin Shah.
Iran loses Merv and parts of Khwarazmia in
exchange for security guarantees from Imperial
Russia. 1893 Iran further loses regions near
the Atrak river that were entitled to it from the
Akhal Treaty
20th Century
1907 Persia was to be carved up into three
regions, according to the Anglo-Russian
Convention of 1907. It appears that U.S. played
a role in preserving the territorial integrity of
Iran (to be researched)
Iran at Present After Territorial Losses of
Iranian plateauFrom Anatolia in the West to
Himalaya in the East
Persian empire, 521-486 BC (Achamenid)
Iranian plateauFrom Anatolia in the West to
Himalaya in the East
(No Transcript)
Iran , 226-652 AD (Sasani Empire)
Background of the Fall of Persian EmpireI
In the course of Roman-Persian Wars from 612 to
622 the Persian king Khusrau II had succeeded to
defeat the Byzantine enemy repeatedly.
Background of the Fall of Persian
EmpireIIThe Persian borders were extended
eastward to where they were under the Achaemenids.
Background of the Fall of Persian EmpireIII
The Byzantines regrouped and defeated Persia in
627, taking back all of Syria and penetrated far
into the Persian provinces of Mesopotamia.
Background of the Fall of Persian EmpireIV
Shah of Persia Khusrau was assassinated in
628.There were numerous claimants to the
throneIn the course of four years from 628 to
632 ten kings or queens ruled the empire.This
was a period of unimaginable instability
Background of the Fall of Persian EmpireV
Exhausted from years of war with Rome and
internal turmoil, both political and religious,
the stage was set for one of historys greatest
sudden changes of fortune
The Fall of Persian Empire A continent-size
empire with 1200 years of history crumbled in the
face of Arab invasion with an unbelievable
Arab Expansion and Occupation of Iran 652-820 AD
Beginnings of IslamPhase I, 622 632 Arabian
The Fall of Persian Empire
At first the caliph Umar did not wish to send
his troops through the Zagros mountains and onto
the Iranian plateau.
The Fall of Persian Empire
One tradition has it that he wished for a "wall
of fire" to keep the Arabs and Persians apart.
The Fall of Persian Empire
But the riches of Persia were too tempting o
resist and Omar eventually yielded.
Political Islam Phase II 632 - 661 Mesopotamia
and the Iranian Plateau annexed
Geographic Expansion of IslamPhase III 661 - 750
(Umayyad Caliphate) North Africa, Spain, Caspian
Shores,Eastern regions of Iranian Plateau
Phase IV End of Expansion and Emergence of Local
Centers of PowerAbbasid Provinces during the
caliphate of Harun al-Rashid, 786-809
Re-Emergence of Iran, 820-872 AD (Taherian)
Re-Emergence of Iran, 860-878 AD (Safarian)
Deilamian, 932-982 AD (A Shiite Government)
Sheiism as a political, religious and ideological
expression of resistance to Arab dominance
Re-Emergence of Iran, 1299-1523 AD (Safavi Empire)
LanguageParsi (Farsi)Member of Indoeuropean
Famiy of Languages
ParsiThe Language ofOmar Khayam Rumi
Linguistic HistoryAvestan (Preserved in
Zoroastrian holy writ -- A sister Language to
Sanscrit, Mother language to all European
languages)Middle Iranian (Pahlavi)Modern
Persian, Parsi (Farsi)
Linguistic TerritoryIran AfghanestanTajikestan
KesjmirMany areas on both east and west side of
Caspian sea and in PakestanWas the
administrative language of India until mid
1700sSpoken by about 200 million people
Zone of Cultural InfluenceThe entire Iranian
Plateau and Neighboring AreasNowrooz spring
Festival is celebrated by about 500 million
people, including many in India, Pakestan, Turkey
(all the Kurds), Syria, Iraq, Caucasus, Central
ReligionPre-Zoroastrianism1. Zurvanism2.
MithraismScholars of comparative religion have
identified many influences of Mithraism on
ReligionZoroastrianismGatha, the oldest part
of Avesta (the Zoroastrian sacred book) dates
back to about 1700 B.C., This makes it the
oldest scripture in the world, older than Indias
Rig Veda
Ethnic HistoryWho are Persians?
Ethnic History (Source Guisepi, 2004, and
Khonji) The Iranian plateau was settled about
1500BC by Aryan tribes, the most important of
which werethe Parthians, who settled in the
north and north eastthe Medes (ancesters of
Kurds and Azaris), who occupied the northwestern
portion, and the Persians, who settled the
southern region of the plateau.
Iranian plateauFrom Anatolia in the west to
Himalaya in the east
Iranian plateauFrom Anatolia in the west to
Himalaya in the east
Sample Photos from the far west to far eastern
regions of the Iranian Plateau
Iranian plateau (West Side)Little Ararat
(12,880) Great Ararat (17,200 ft)
Great Ararat
Iranian plateau (Central)Demavand (18,610 ft) 20
Miles North of Tehran
Iranian plateau (Central)Demavand (18,610 ft)20
miles N. of Tehran
Iranian plateau (East Side)Tirich Mir Hindu
Kush, Afghanestan (25,230 feet)
Iranian plateau (North Side)Peak Badakhshan,
Pamir, Tajikestan (24,1200 feet)
Persian RenaiscanceSmani Dynasty, 892-998
ADFerdowsis Epic Shahnameh (940-1020 AD)
Purification of Parsi Language from Influence of
Persian RenaiscanceZadndik MoslemsPersians
philosophize about, comment on, and interpret
the Quran just as they had always done with their
own sacred book, Avesta
Persian Renaiscance Aborted Persian Dark
Ages Begin with Ghazali, The Sunni Ideologue
(1058-1110) The Prophet of Irans Dark Ages
Mongol Invasion (1253-1291)Beginning of
Irans Dark Ages)
Safavids the Rise of Sheism to Political Power
Safavid Empire, 1299-1523 AD
Safavids 1299-1523 AD Persians use Sheism as
Political force to keep the Ottman empire at bay
Constitutional Revolution of 1906 The Fall of
Ghajar Dynasty Shei-i Clergy plays a role in
toppling the Ghajars and in shaping the outcome
of the revolution
Pahlavi Dynasty 1924-1979 The End of Monarchy in
the 2600 years history of IranSheii Clergy
plays a role in toppling the Shah
Shei-i Theocracy 1979 - A lot more pragmatic
than most observers had predicted
Sources1. Guisepi, Robert (2004) (Persia, The
International History Project, 2004Edited By
Robert Guisepi, http//
htm2. Khonji, Amir Hossein. http//
m/persia.htm 3. Circle of Iranian Studies
University of Texas Iran Resources.
Write a Comment
User Comments (0)