Reception of Islam in Iran

Reposted on the occasion of the volume’s publication:

Crone, Patricia. 2016. The Iranian reception of Islam: The non-traditionalist strands (Islamic History and Civilization 130). Collected Studies in Three Volumes. Vol. 2 edited by Hanna Siurua. Leiden; Boston: Brill.

Patricia Crone’s Collected Studies in Three Volumes brings together a number of her published, unpublished, and revised writings on Near Eastern and Islamic history, arranged around three distinct but interconnected themes. Volume 2, The Iranian Reception of Islam: The Non-Traditionalist Strands, examines the reception of pre-Islamic legacies in Islam, above all that of the Iranians. Volume 1, The Qurʾānic Pagans and Related Matters, pursues the reconstruction of the religious environment in which Islam arose and develops an intertextual approach to studying the Qurʾānic religious milieu. Volume 3, Islam, the Ancient Near East and Varieties of Godlessness, places the rise of Islam in the context of the ancient Near East and investigates sceptical and subversive ideas in the Islamic world.

Continue reading “Reception of Islam in Iran”

Greater Khorasan

41rpR0iDDoLRante, Rocco (ed.). 2015. Greater Khorasan: History, geography, archaeology and material culture (Studies in the History and Culture of the Middle East, Volume 29). Walter de Gruyter.

The modern sense of “Greater Khorasan” today corresponds to a territory which not only comprises the region in the east of Iran but also, beyond Iranian frontiers, a part of Afghanistan and Turkmenistan. In the past this entity was simply defined as Khorasan. In the Sassanid era Khorasan defined the “Eastern lands”. In the Islamic era this term was again taken up in the same sense it previously enjoyed. The Arab sources of the first centuries all mention the eastern regions under the same toponym, Khorasan. Khorasan was the gateway used by Alexander the Great to go into Bactria and India and, inversely, that through which the Seljuks and Mongols entered Iran. In a diachronic context Khorasan was a transit zone, a passage, a crossroads, which, above all in the medieval period, saw the creation of different commercial routes leading to the north, towards India, to the west and into China. In this framework, archaeological researches will be the guiding principle which will help us to take stock of a material culture which, as its history, is very diversified. They also offer valuable elements on commercial links between the principal towns of Khorasan. This book will provide the opportunity to better know the most recent elements of the principal constitutive sites of this geographical and political entity.

Sasanian Persia and the Silk Road

Alram, Michael. 2015. The cultural impact of Sasanian Persia along the Silk Road – Aspects of continuity. e-Sasanika 14.

The paper focuses on the Sasanian Empire’s impact on its surrounding world and explores the question of why its cultural achievements had such a long-lasting influence far beyond the borders of the Iranian lands, even after the decline of the dynasty. This relates to the role of the Sasanians in international trade and their political aim of controlling the land and maritime trade networks that connected Iran with the Mediterranean world, Central Asia, China, India, and the Arabian Peninsula.

Direct link to the article is Alram Sasanian Persia.

Persian kingship and architecture

I haven’t seen the ToC of this book, but know that Matthew Canepa has a chapter here, entitled Dynastic sanctuaries and the transformation of Iranian kingship between Alexander and Islam, focusing on the ‘Middle Iranian’ period. It is an excellent article and will hopefully be available soon.

Babaie, Sussan & Talinn Grigor (eds.). 2015. Persian kingship and architecture: Strategies of power in Iran from the Achaemenids to the Pahlavis. I.B.Tauris.

Since the Shah went into exile and the Islamic Republic was established in 1979 in the wake of the Iranian Revolution, the very idea of monarchy in Iran has been contentious. Yet, as Persian Kingship and Architecture argues, the institution of kingship has historically played a pivotal role in articulating the abstract notion of ‘Iran’ since antiquity. These ideas surrounding kingship and nation have, in turn, served as a unifying cultural force despite shifting political and religious allegiances. Through analyses of palaces, mausolea, art, architectural decoration and urban design the authors show how architecture was appropriated by different rulers as an integral part of their strategies of legitimising power. They refer to a variety of examples, from the monuments of Persepolis under the Achamenids, the Sassanian palaces at Kish, the Safavid public squares of Isfahan, the Qajar palaces at Shiraz and to the modernisation and urban agendas of the Pahlavis. Drawing on archaeology, ancient, medieval, early and modern architectural history, both Islamic and secular, this book is indispensable for all those interested in Iranian studies and visual culture.

Map of the Zerafshan valley

Etienne de la Vaissière has kindly shared this map of the Zerafshan valley in the 7th century on academia.edu. He states:

Map drawn for my Histoire des marchands sogdiens, Paris: Collège de France, 2002, map 5. Please feel free to modify and adapt it to your needs: the layers can be modified in Illustrator. Although I have drawn it I claim no copyright, but would welcome that you mention the source.

 

Workshop: Iran and Islam

Iran and Islam: Early Encounters. Formation of Islam 
and Transformation of Iranian Religious Traditions

12 March 2015 09:00–13 March 2015 18:00, Workshop Room: FNO 02/ 40-46

Contact: Kianoosh Rezania

For more information, see the workshop schedule

Additional Information:
There is no doubt that the contact of Islam with other religions in the very homeland of Islam as well as in the conquered lands played a significant role in its formation. In contrast, the evolving Islam must have challenged the existing religions, transformed them or stimulated them to do so. A great dynamic of renovation and repositioning of religious traditions can be expected in the first centuries of Islam. Therefore, a more in-depth study of this vibrant dynamic of mutual exchange between Islamic and especially Iranian religious traditions is a desideratum which our symposium intends to address.

This workshop will be held in English.

Sasanian royalist ideology

Sasanian royalist ideology and Zoroastrian millennialism

Lecture by François de Blois, University College London, at the Ancient India and Iran Trust, Cambridge, Friday 06March, 5.30pm.

François de Blois has published widely on Semitic and Iranian languages and on the history of religions in the Near East in pre-modern times. Notably, he contributed to the multi-volume work Persian Literature, which had been initiated by C.A. Storey and published by the Royal Asiatic Society. He served as Professor of Iranian Studies at Hamburg University from 2002 to 2003. Currently he is a research fellow at University College London where he is engaged in a major project on al-Biruni’s Chronology and other Arabic texts on non-Islamic calendars. He is also a teaching fellow for Aramaic and Middle Iranian languages at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. He has been a frequent contributor to the Encyclopaedia of Islam.

All welcome. Refreshments from 5pm.

Ancient India & Iran Trust
23 Brooklands Avenue, Cambridge CB2 8BG

Persian in Yuan China

Haw, Stephen. 2014. The Persian language in Yuan-Dynasty China: A reappraisal. East Asian History 39. 5–32.

It has often been claimed that Persian was an important lingua franca in the Yuan empire. A recent article by Professor David Morgan has discussed this premise at some length, setting out what seems to be impressive evidence in its favour.[1] For some time, however, I have entertained doubts about the validity of some of this evidence. Although I have no doubt that there were a significant number of Persian speakers in the Yuan empire, of whom a number may have held important official positions, I believe that the Persian language was never a genuine lingua franca in China and Mongolia.

A cultural history of Aramaic

Gzella, Holger. 2015. A cultural history of Aramaic: From the beginnings to the advent of Islam. Leiden/Boston: Brill.

Aramaic is a constant thread running through the various civilizations of the Near East, ancient and modern, from 1000 BCE to the present, and has been the language of small principalities, world empires, and a fair share of the Jewish-Christian tradition. Holger Gzella describes its cultural and linguistic history as a continuous evolution from its beginnings to the advent of Islam. For the first time the individual phases of the language, their socio-historical underpinnings, and the textual sources are discussed comprehensively in light of the latest linguistic and historical research and with ample attention to scribal traditions, multilingualism, and language as a marker of cultural self-awareness. Many new observations on Aramaic are thereby integrated into a coherent historical framework