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Zoroastrians of Iran: A History of Transformation and Survival

Series: Zoroastrian Studies Series 6
Availability: Forthcoming
Published: 2022
Page #: xxxii + 532
Size: 6 x 9
ISBN: 978-1568593678
plates, appendix, bibliography, glossary, index, notes, references

Quick Overview

Zoroastrianism is both an ancient and still practiced religion. At its height it was the state religion of the Sasanian empire (224 to 651 AD) that ruled in the land of Persia. Arab conquest of the area destroyed that empire and a multitude eventually converted to Islam. Under Islamic rule Zoroastrians lived under severe restrictions, persecution while paying burdensome taxes. Many converted to Islam to escape these conditions and so Zoroastrian numbers dwindled. By 1850 no more than 8000 lived in their original homeland. Those who survived did see some periods of prosperity and eventually thrived under the secularizing rule of Reza Shah Pahlavi (1925-41) and his son (1941-79) who promoted an Iranian nationalism that embraced the Zoroastrian heritage. The main challenge to Zoroastrian persistence was the increasing secularism of society. With the establishment of the Islamic Republic of Iran once again the nation’s Zoroastrians found themselves subject to myriad discriminations, even their touch deemed polluting. Islam permeated Iran to a degree not seen before. The present work offers a unique socio-political history of the challenges faced by the Zoroastrian community from the 19th to 21st centuries as they confronted and adapted to the dramatic changes before them. The author, Anthropologist Janet Kestenberg Amighi lived and researched among her Zoroastrian in-laws in Iran from 1971-1978 and subsequently visited post-revolutionary Iran several times. This work is based on scholarly research as well as over 120 interviews with Zoroastrians, amusing personal experiences and the knowledge and experiences of her collaborator Bahman Moradian, an Iranian Zoroastrian scholar and community activist. Their collaboration provides varied insights and analyses of the socio-cultural and political change we see happening over the decades. The diverse Zoroastrian community perspectives are well represented.

Janet Kestenberg Amighi

Janet Kestenberg Amighi Ph.D. is author of "The Zoroastrians of Iran: Conversion, Assimilation, and Persistence," 1990. This book was based on her anthropological studies during her seven years residence in Tehran and Kerman Iran (1971-78) with her Zoroastrian husband and his family. The book is a standard reference for information on the social history of Zoroastrians, especially during the era of the Pahlavi Shahs. Janet and her family left Iran for a planned two-year visit with her American family, but the Iranian war with Iraq (1980-88) kept her from returning. She is a retired professor and lives in Pennsylvania close to nature but alas far from Iran. She hopes the book will appeal to diaspora Zoroastrians eager to connect more deeply with the social history of their homeland community.


Acknowledgments
Preface
Pronunciation Guide
Introduction

Section I
A Brief Encounter:
Popular Beliefs and Practices Among the Zoroastrians
of Iran

Chapter 1
Faces of the Zoroastrian Religion: The Gathas

Chapter 2
Faces of the Zoroastrian Religion: Divinities and
the Later Avesta

Chapter 3
From the Arab Conquest to the Qajars: 1,200 Years
in a Few Words

Section II
From the Qajar Era to the Chaos of the Mosaddegh Years

Chapter 4
Zoroastrian Life in Nineteenth-Century Yazd and Kerman

Chapter 5
Conversion to Islam

Chapter 6
The Coming of the Parsis


Chapter 7

Beyond the Parsis: Other Sources of Reform and
Progress in the Late Nineteenth Century

Section III
From Revolution to Rebellion in Tehran

Chapter 8
Early Twentieth-Century Tehran and
the Constitutional Revolution

Chapter 9
The Era of Reza Shah and Enhanced Zoroastrian Status

Chapter 10
The Mosaddegh Era: Zoroastrian Conservatism
and Rebellion, 1940–1959

Section IV
Mohammad Reza Shah and Secularism

Chapter 11
Zoroastrian Community and Family Structure
in 1960s–’70s Tehran

Chapter 12
Integration into Iranian Society and
the Threat of Secularization

Section V
Life in the Islamic Republic of Iran

Chapter 13
Revolution and the Islamic Republic of Iran:
Zoroastrians in the Khomeini Era


Chapter 14
Change under Succeeding Presidential Reigns:
1989–2021

Chapter 15
Zoroastrian Responses in the Face of Islamism
and Modernism

Chapter 16
Vitality, Persistence, Secularism, and
Concluding Thoughts

Epilogue

Color Illustrations

Tables
Table 1 :Six Key Books of the Avesta
Table 2:The Amesha Spentas
Table 3: Early History
Table 4: Zoroastrian Literacy in 1891 Iran

Appendices
Appendix A: Zoroastrian Clubs and Associations: The Pahlavi Era 1970s
Appendix B:Zoroastrian Institutions: The Pahlavi Era 1970s
Appendix C:Zoroastrian Clubs, Foundations, and Institutions in Islamic Republic Era 2016
Appendix D: Seasonal Festivals

Glossary

References

Index

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