Iran is a land of great cultural diversity. Although Islam is the dominant religion here, there was a time when Islam had not been born here. On your trip to Iran, you will discover the two diverse historical eras, which speak their own language and have their own specialties.
Once you reach Iran, you will be awed by the artistic architecture and learn more about Iran on your sojourn here. The two eras involved have to do with before and after the advent of Islam in Iran.
Iran before Islam
O Persian Empire: The history of Iran dates back to a long time before Persian Empire and the establishment of various large civilizations after that. The Persian Empire came into existence with the establishment of the Archaemenid Empire in Iran. They were followed by the Seleucids, Parthian and Sassanids who continued to govern Iran for almost another 1000 years. The Persian Empire can proudly claim to have given some golden years to the Iranian people.
O Ancient Religions: You will learn on your trip to Iran that there was a faith prevalent in ancient Iran called Mizda’i. Later on, Zarathustra laid the foundation of the Zoroastrian religion. Almost the whole of Iran followed this religion with a few exceptions taking interest in Mithraism and Manichaeism.
O Ancient Sites: Many old monuments have been discovered, the ruins of which suggest the great architectural splendors of the Persian Empire. The prominent ones among them are Zaghe Tepe in Qasvin plain and Tepe Sialk near Kashan. Many other monuments have been included by the UNESCO as heritage sites to preserve the great sculptures on them.
O Water supplement system: The highlight of Iranian engineering in ancient times is perhaps the water supplement system called Qanat or Kariz. This is a great innovation in hydraulics which stocks up ground water by digging canals underneath the ground, depending on the depth of the water table. Although the maintenance and distribution of water along the ground is a tedious job, it is a safe haven in the desert areas.
Iran after Islam
O Islam: When you will take a trip to Iran you will discover that after the Islamic conquest of Iran, Islam has always been the state religion here. Among the two sects of Islam, Shia and Sunni, Shia Muslims are predominant in Iran. The major difference between Iran and other Muslim countries is the fact that the absolute majority of Iranians are Shia.
O Islamic mysticism: You will discover Islamic mysticism or Sufism on your trip to Iran. Some Iranians consider themselves to be Shia or Sunni Muslims while being Sufis as well. More and more Iranians are getting attracted to this culture everyday. About five million Iranians practice Sufism today. To know more about Iran and Sufism, you can visit some Sufi groups and Sufi sessions. Some of Iranian Sufis gather around in a circle and become submerged with a feeling of divinity along to the beat of drums and music.
O Arts and Architecture: Pre-Islam Iranian arts and architecture continued in a different form in post-Islam era. Arts included excellent calligraphy, stucco, mirror work and mosaic work. Architecture includes a lot of decoration on the buildings. You can see many domes in your trip to Iran. You will learn more about Iran and its architecture when you take a look at the bazaars, mosques and other historical buildings. A lot of tile work has been done on the walls of the buildings. Terracotta or plaster has also been used on the walls. Several bridges, palaces and gardens have been built in the post-Islamic era. The deep respect that the Iranians have given to their religious leaders is evident in the arts and architecture.
When you take a trip to Iran, you will learn a lot about Iran and the culture and religion of Iran in both the eras.
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