Some 200 years ago, misinformed Europeans traveling in the Middle East and noting a predominant Muslim faith coined a term for their arts and sciences. They labeled all sciences, literature, paintings, and architecture in the region as "Islamic arts and sciences."
This terminology is not only baseless, but offensive to the various Western Asian (Near Eastern or Middle Eastern) nations. These nations are home to people of various faiths. Its people formed the "cradle of civilization," and lived in the region centuries before Islam. Islam, a 7th century religion, expanded after its conquest of one of the two major powers in Western Asia and Europe, the Sasanian Persian Empire (224-651 AD).
The Sasanian Persian Empire was a continuation of the rich and resourceful Iranian culture that took shape with the coming of the Achaemenids (550-330 BC), the creators of the first world empire. Iranians, who had managed empires for over 12 centuries, continued to run the region under Moslem Arab overlords.
The progress of Iranian arts and sciences continued regardless of Islam or any other religious following. In other words, Islam had nothing to do with post-7th century Iranian contributions to human civilization.
Yet, 18th century European travelers, without any regard to Iranian national identity which is considered sacred by many as it dates back to at least 15th century BC, labeled Iranian artwork and sciences as "Islamic." They were unaware or uncaring as to the ramifications of such an irresponsible categorization spreading across European media and educational institutions.
Today museums and universities have "Islamic arts" as a topic of study while a predominately Christian Europe preserved each of its nations' unique heritage without labeling the entire European portfolio of arts and sciences as "Christian."
Many of the Middle Eastern artwork and sciences labeled "Islamic" are Iranian in origin. Yet, by mislabeling Iranian contributions to human civilization, its national heritage has been robbed since most people, who see the label "Islamic," mistakenly assume the subject is of Arab origin. It will take decades of research, political warfare, and funds to correct this grave error against Iranians on the part of the European "intellectuals" of 18th and 19th centuries. Of course, the fall of an Iranian nationalist, secular government in 1979 to an Islamocentric, anti-Iranian mullahcracy has perpetuated this egregious act.
The Western Civilization which was greatly influenced by Iranian heritage should not spread misconceptions about Iranian people and culture as they are both presently under attack by an Islamofascist regime in Tehran.
Sheda Vasseghi is on the Board of Azadegan Foundation and is a regular contributor to WorldTribune.com on Iran’s Affairs.
Absolutely fascinating -
With the addition of Lame Cherry's erudite expansion, we have perspective. With regard to yellow journalism, misinformation, spin, and, of course, LC's mention of Medes, where we derive the word "media" from, I would offer these realities are a symptom of the true power dynamics, globally, and in the region. Their origins are very relevant.
Col. Edward House
10:11 a.m. / Monday, May 31, 2010
I probably should apologize to World Tribune for being stunned at the brilliance of Sheda Vasseghi in noting that the Persians are of the Indo European peoples and occupy the lands once lived in by the Ayrans, so the Persians like most in the Middle East are Semitic or Shemite (after Noah's son Shem) in being Caucasian.
It is always a pleasure to visit World Tribune and read the articles by such well informed people which the world is so void of despite "experts".
While Ms. Vasseghi did not comment on the complete Persian history nor note that the great black building in Mecca once held Christian artifacts until Muhammed destroyed them all when he chose the moon diety "Allah", so Islam at source was multi-religion, nor did she, mention that the Aryan trace back to the Cimmerian or Samarian exiles from the lost 10 tribes of Israel, who would later move into northern India where they gained the title Aryan, before eventually as the Scots in the Declaration of Arbaroath that they were of these lost 10 tribes, it should be noted that the Zoroastrians are linked to the Israelites and it is reasoned that the Israelite exiles actually gave rise to the Medes and Persians.
Cyrus was in fact the instrument of God to return the tribes of Benjamin, Levi and Judah to Jerusalem after Babylonian exile.
In that small world, the British and American peoples in foundation are Josephite, whose mother was Egyptian, and all of the northwestern peoples of Europe and the Americans have Iraqi roots in Abraham when he left the area.
That is why they are termed Indo European.
The rulers of Iran now are Islamocommunists and while twistedly brilliant, they do not reflect the Iranian of the Shah's noble family as much as Mr. Obama's tear down America reflects the America God created.
The American, Judahite and Iranian peoples have so much in common from Daniel's tomb to the infusion of "western" advancement in the lost 10 tribe's infusion of civilization into this group of Persians.
It is wonderful though that the World Tribune has as a featured writer Sheda Vasseghi, along with your noted informed experts, as it is always a pleasure to read someone who actually has a command of the subject instead of needing a talking point to spin something.
8:56 p.m. / Friday, May 28, 2010