Zoroastrians in Islamic Iran
Posted by The Mindset on October 16, 2010
Zoroastrians (Parsis as they are called in India) were the original people of Iran. Their Sassanid Empire stretched from present day Iran to Iraq and up to the Arab countries. Under Zoroastrians, Iran saw its golden days. The influence of the Persian Empire and its culture can still be seen over Iran.
But it all ended with the arrival of Islam. Muslim today will say that it happened because Islam is the greatest religion, the fastest growing religion on Earth. But the truth will never change.
Arab invasions started on Persian Sassanid Empire during 7th century AD. Soon after the initial Islamic conquests (through sword & fire, not through love and peace) the Zoroastrians were given the status of kafirs (infidels). They were forced to pay jizya (religious tax) failing to which they were killed, enslaved or imprisoned (the story is more or less same as of Hindus in India). Even after paying jizya they were insulted and humiliated.
When enough number of settled in Iran the desecration, loot and destruction of Zoroastrians Fire temples started. Mosques were built in their places as usual.
Their libraries, which were treasure of great Persian literature, were either burnt or Mosques were erected in their place. When the Persian capital of Ctesiphon in province of Khvârvarân (today known as Iraq) fell to the Muslims during the Islamic conquest of Persia in 637 under the military command of Sa’ad ibn Abi Waqqas during the caliphate of Umar, the palaces and their archives were burned. According to an account in Tarikh al-Tabari by Al-Tabari, the Arab Commander Sa’ad ibn Abi Waqqas wrote to Caliph Umar ibn al-Khattab asking what should be done with the books at Ctesiphon. Umar wrote back: “If the books contradict the Qur’an, they are blasphemous. On the other hand, if they are in agreement, they are not needed, as for us Koran is sufficient.” Thus, the huge library was destroyed and the books, the product of the generations of Persian scientists and scholars were thrown into fire or the Euphrates.
Sassanid Empire fell to Arabs by 652 AD. The official language was changed from Persian to Arabic. The new converts learned this language (because Quran was written in the same language) but the Zoroastrians refused to learn. Consequently they were left out without any post in the governmental offices. Forced conversion became rampant.
The newly converted Iranians tried to establish that Islam is an Iranian religion. (It happens in all the cases; the new converts try to show that Islam is better than their ancestral religion and they insult not only their old religion but those who follow it. These new converts also try to relate themselves with the Islamic conquerors and with the passage of time lose their own culture and heritage. This happened with the Sindhis and the Afghans also). New theories were created to relate the Muslims with Iranians to facilitate the conversion of Zoroastrians.
Suck Their Blood
One of the Umayyad Caliphs was quoted saying, “milk the Persians and once their milk dries, suck their blood.
Such was the religious oppression.
Yazid-ibn-Mohalleb, a general under the Umayyad, was appointed the head of a great army to lead the Mazandaran expedition. On the way to Mazandaran, the general ordered captives to be hanged at the two sides of the road so that the victorious Arab army pass through. Upon arrival, he massacred 12,000 civilians and took 6,000 as slaves. The attack on Tabarestan (present-day Mazandaran) failed, but he established his control in Gorgan. By the orders of Yazid-ibn-Mohalleb so many Persians were beheaded in Gorgan that their blood mixed with water would energize the millstone to produce as much as one day meal for him, as he had vowed. Extent of his brutality represented itself by running watermills by people’s blood for three days and he fed his army with the bread made from that very bloody flour. But, Tabarestan remained invincible until the majority of Zoroastrians migrated towards India and the rest converted to Islam gradually.
The persecution of Zoroastrians increased during the Abbasid Dynasty which followed the Umayyad dynasty. The Abbasids came to power with the help of Iranian Muslims. During the Abbasid rule the status of Zoroastrians was reduced from dhimmi (people of the book, who are generally protected by the state & law) to kafirs (non-believers). Thus the Jews & Christians were allowed in the court & but not Zoroastrians.
Zoroastrians were considered impure and were not allowed to use the public bath places. Hardly any Zoroastrian family was able to avoid conversion to Islam when employed by the Abbasids. Because of their harshness towards unbelievers, and due to their lavish patronage of Persian Muslims, the Abbasids proved to be deadly foes of Zoroastrianism.
The community was regarded as outcast, impure and untouchable. The Zoroastrians and their food was considered impure and many public places refused to serve them. When they shopped in the bazaar, they were not allowed to touch any food or fruits. They were threatened with forced conversions and their religious sanctuaries were regularly desecrated. Harassments and persecution were the norms of daily life. Zoroastrians were often attacked and beaten by Muslims in the streets. The murder of Zoroastrians was not punished. At times, Zoroastrian girls were kidnapped and forcefully converted and married to Moslems and brought to town in fanfare.
Zoroastrians were subjected to public discrimination through dress regulations – not allowed to wear new or white clothes, and compelled by enactments to wear the dull yellow raiment already alluded to as a distinguishing badge. They were not allowed to wear overcoats but were compelled to wear long robes called qaba and cotton geeveh on their feet even in winter. Wearing eyeglasses, long cloak, trousers, hat, boots, socks, winding their turbans tightly and neatly, carrying watch or a ring, were all forbidden to Zoroastrians. During the rainy days they were not allowed carry umbrellas or to appear in public, because the water that had run down through their bodies and cloths could pollute the Moslems. Zoroastrian men in Yezd would carry a large shawl that they would place under their feet when visiting a Muslim’s home so as to prevent the carpet from being polluted. Forbidden from riding horses and only allowed to ride mules or donkeys, upon facing a Moslem they had to dismount.
On top of all the misery the Zoroastrians had to pay a heavy religious tax known as Jizya. Zoroastrian sources record the method of extracting this as designed to humiliate the dhimmi, the taxed person, who was compeleed to stand while the officer receiving the money sat on a high throne. Upon receiving the payment, the officer gave the dhimmi a blow on the neck and drove him roughly away. The public was invited to watch the spectacle. Arab tax collectors would mock Zoroastrians for wearing Kusthi and would rip it off, hanging the cord around the necks of the beleaguered faithful. Due to corruption of the tax officials, at times twice and even three times the official figure would be collected, because every intermediary had to receive his share. If the families could not afford paying the Jizya, their children were beaten and even tortured and their religious books were thrown in fire. That is how the term “the bookless” came about. Under the woeful conditions, some had to convert and there were those who declared themselves Moslems, picked up Islamic names, but in secret continued Zoroastrian practices. Today the latter group among the Zoroastrians is known as Jaddid. In response to persecution and segregation policies, the Zoroastrians community became closed, introverted, and static.
According to Dawlatshah, Abdollah-ibn-Tahir, Governor of Khorasan for the Abbasid caliphs, banned publication in Persian and by his order all the Zoroastrians were forced to bring their religious books to be thrown in the fire. As a result many literary works written in Pahlavi script disappeared. During the Abbasid reign the Zoroastrians, for the first time became a minority in Iran.
Safavid kings sought to compel them at sword point to accept Islam and rivers ran red with the blood of those who refused. Zoroastrians were also branded as impure, in addition to being infidels. Their places of worship were under the threat of being destroyed.
Many foreign visitors to Iran of the time have commented on their pitiful situation. Traveller A.V.W. Jackson notes that, Zoroastrians lived in constant fear of persecution by Muslim prejudices and their lives were in danger whenever the fanatical spirit of Islam broke out, such as the one witnessed by him in Yezd. According to Edward Browne, the wall of Zoroastrian houses had to be lower than that of the Moslems and prohibited from marking their houses with distinctive signs. Zoroastrians were forbidden from erecting new houses and repairing old ones.
Today these Muslims show their fake sympathy towards the Dalits of India. The reality is that the Muslim invaders never spared any Hindu whether he/she was a Rajput or Dalit was immaterial to them. For them they were just kafirs. Just as they used the Iranian Muslims against the Zoroastrians they are using the Dalits against the upper caste to gain advantage – kafir killing kafir is good for Islam.
——————————————————————————————————————Source: Persecution of Zoroastrians