Iranian Islam: The Concept of the Individual

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Despite this decline, the Islamic Republic has gone a long way toward fulfilling some of its key promises, such as reducing poverty. In the s, urban households received a far larger share of the oil bounty than disadvantaged rural households. For example, in , the share of urban households with access to piped water rose from As a result, poverty has been reduced substantially, from over 20 percent in the early s to less than 10 percent in This accounts for the lack of sufficient jobs: Unemployment among university-educated youth, which was non-existent in the s, has surged to 30 percent for men and 50 percent for women.

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Moreover, while post-Revolution Iran has improved equity in some areas, it has been less effective in reducing income inequality. The Gini coefficient a common measure of income inequality, with zero representing maximum equality has remained above 0. Of course, when it comes to quality of life, economic indicators do not tell the whole story. And, while living standards for average Iranians are in many ways measurably better under the Islamic Republic than they were under the Shah, that does not make up for high unemployment, let alone the social restrictions that have been imposed since Foreign Policy.

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The situation in rural areas and individual regions may have been quite different, but the overall pattern is consistent with what can be deduced from traditional historical sources. In several areas individuals from the local Persian elite also converted to Islam fairly quickly, primarily in order to preserve their existing privileges or to gain entry into the new Muslim ruling elite.


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These early converts probably formed an influential core around which other converts would coalesce, as is known to have happened in conversion to other religions. There Qotayba b. Frye, pp.

Iranian Islam: The Concept of the Individual

Frye, p. Virtually all the purported texts of treaties with conquered Persian cities contain guarantees of protection for the existing religious communities and for the free exercise of their customary religions e. There may, however, have been sporadic use of force, not so much to compel conversions as to weaken the hold of Zoroastrianism over the population. As the Zoroastrian establishment had already been weakened by popular discontent as manifested in Mazdakite upheavals and the spread of Christianity and Buddhism in the late Sasanian period, even limited Muslim attacks on the clergy and temples may have helped to create a religious vacuum, which Islam gradually filled.

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As the spread of Islam placed greater and greater barriers to full participation by non-Muslims in the political, economic, and social arenas of life, the pressures for conversion would naturally increase. As suggested above, deliberate proselytization was also important.

However, it could also be the result of simple fraternization between Muslims and non-Muslims. That was likely the case in Khorasan, where large numbers of Arab settlers, converts, and Persians lived in close proximity. Finally, the importance of individual spiritual experiences leading to conversion should not be underestimated.

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The conversion of Iranians to Islam was thus an extremely complex historical process. It varied considerably from region to region and in the motivations and forces behind it.

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Levtzion, ed. Iran IV, pp.

The Concept of the Individual

Submitted tags will be reviewed by site administrator before it is posted online. If you enter several tags, separate with commas. Topic select a topic Of Iranians to Islam Iranians were among the very earliest converts to Islam, and their conversion in significant numbers began as soon as the Arab armies reached and overran the Persian plateau.

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