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Iran: A Country Study , 5th ed. (Area Handbook Series) by Glenn E. Curtis, Eric Hooglund

By Glenn E. Curtis, Eric Hooglund

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Additional info for Iran: A Country Study , 5th ed. (Area Handbook Series)

Sample text

Razavi Khorasan 20. Hormozgan 30. South Khorasan 10. Kurdistan Figure 1. Administrative Divisions xxxviii Introduction CONTEMPORARY IRAN is a country whose people retain memories of legendary heroes and rulers, some of whom lived more than two millennia ago. Its national language, Persian, is equally ancient as a written tongue. Some customs, such as the annual New Year’s celebrations that are observed on the spring equinox, also have their roots deep in history. The religion of at least 98 percent of Iranians is Islam, which initially was brought into Iran by Arabs in the mid-seventh century.

The later Sassanians were further weakened by economic decline, heavy taxation, religious unrest, rigid social stratification, the increasing power of the provincial landholders, and a rapid turnover of rulers. These factors would facilitate the Arab invasion in the seventh century. Islamic Conquest The bedouin Arabs who toppled the Sassanian Empire were propelled not only by a desire for conquest but also by a new religion, Islam. The Prophet Muhammad, a member of the Hashimite clan of the powerful tribe of Quraysh, proclaimed his prophetic mission in Arabia in 612 and eventually won over the city of his birth, Mecca, to the new faith.

A firm supporter of the notion of an authoritative faqih/Leader, his ideas on social jus­ tice issues, such as increasing subsidies for poor families, imple­ menting programs to end poverty, increasing government regulation of the economy, and opposing “dependence” on foreign capital and investment, were not favored by the conser­ vatives, especially those politicians with ties to the bazaar (see Glossary). Consequently, the conservative-dominated parlia­ ment succeeded in blocking most of Ahmadinejad’s economic proposals during his first two years in office.

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