Scanned and proofread by Jonah Winters;
posted with permission of author.
Copyright 1986 by
the U.S. Bahá'í Refugee Office of
the National Spiritual Assembly of
the Bahá'ís of the United States
Table of Contents
Who are the Iranians? 3
The Persian Language 3
Cultural Heritage 4
A Brief History of Iran 4
Modern Iran 6
Persian Names 8
First Names 8
Last Names 8
Examples of Persian Alphabet and Handwriting 10
Cultural Differences 11
Rules and Regulations 12
Ritual Courtesy and Hospitality (Tarot) 13
Telephone Manners 14
Visiting Friends 14
Relatives and Family Members 15
Relations between the Sexes 16
Saving Face 18
Social Prejudice 19
Food and Hospitality 19
The Persian Calendar and Naw Ruz (No Rooz) 21
Suggested Further Readings 23
This booklet was developed in response to the need of various
organizations, institutions, local communities and individuals who deal with
Iranian refugees in the United States.
In the second half of the 1970s a growing number of Iranian students came to
this country to attend American universities. Many of these students chose to
remain here when revolution broke out in Iran, and many have now become
permanent residents. Since the beginning of the 1979 Islamic Revolution,
refugees from Iran have also been coming to this country, and although their
number does not compare to that of Southeast Asian refugees, they constitute a
significant and growing refugee population in the United States. In some
highly-impacted areas such as Los Angeles, large ethnic Iranian communities
This booklet will help to give those working with Iranians a better idea of
their history and culture and hopefully eliminate, or at least illuminate, some
of the misunderstandings that usually occur when different cultural values and
systems are first brought into daily interaction. Of course, an entire culture
can not be explained in a handbook, and what is written here should be
understood as general guidelines and salient points. It should furthermore be
remembered that we are speaking here in generalizations, and there is a
considerable amount of variation from one individual Iranian to another.
It has been the experience of the Bahá'í Community, whose 100,000
members in this country include about 7,000 Iranians, that integration takes
place more rapidly and more easily when the newly-arrived refugees are not
areas where there is already a large ethnic Iranian community (such as Los
Angeles, New York City, etc.). The more contact the new refugees have with
Americans, the more quickly they will become functioning members of the society
A companion volume is also available in Persian, which attempts to highlight
certain salient features of American culture and society for the Iranian
Who are the Iranians?
The Iranian peoples are cousins to Americans of European descent;
extremely distant cousins, but nevertheless one in origin. More than six
thousand years ago the peoples now living in Europe, Iran and India spoke one
common language. There are no historical examples of that language extant
(writing had not yet been invented), but we do know from linguistic evidence
that these people all came from one original stock and spoke one common
The Persian Language
Today, the official language of Iran is Persian, or as it is called in Persian,
"Farsi" (Persia is the old name for the country of Iran, and the words
"Iranian" and "Persian" are used here interchangeably
). Persian is an
Indo-European language, and is distantly related to English. However, it has
been heavily influenced by the spread of Islam, which brought with it the
script of the Arabs and a sizeable Arabic vocabulary. Persian is one of the
richest literary languages in the world, especially where poetry is concerned.
Many European poets like Goethe, Tennyson, Matthew Arnold and Edward Fitzgerald
(who translated the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam) were greatly influenced by
Some traces of the common heritage of the Indo-European peoples can still be
found in English and Persian, including both cognate words and loan words that
can be historically traced. For example, the English word "mother" is cognate
to the Persian word "madar." So are the words "brother" and "baradar" and the
words "daughter" and "dokhtar."
The English word "paradise" was handed down from ancient Greek (the Greeks were
also an Indo-European people), which had in turn taken the word from ancient
Persian, in which "ferdose" was used to mean an enclosed garden.
Iranians are proud of their heritage. In addition to some of the world's
greatest poets, Iran has produced some of the most important figures in the
history of medieval philosophy, astronomy and medicine, like Avicenna. Algebra,
for example, was developed by Iranian mathematicians. Many fruits and flowers
found their way from Persia to Greece and Rome during antiquity (peaches,
lemons, limes). The game of Chess came to Europe through Spain and the Arabs,
who had gotten it from the Iranians. The word "Checkmate" is from the Persian
phrase "Shah Mat," meaning "the King is confounded." It came into Old French as
"eschec mat" along with the game of chess and eventually worked its way into
English. Backgammon is another game that came from Iran.
The numerals we use today are called Arabic numerals, and they were passed on
to us during medieval times from India to Iran and then to the Arab Muslims in
the south of Spain. A long tradition of mathematics still flourishes today, and
many Iranians are among the top students in universities throughout the world
in math-related fields like engineering, medicine and computers.
A Brief History of Iran
Man's earliest known civilizations flourished in the areas just east of
present day Iran, or Persia, as it was formerly known. In the 6th and 5th
centuries B.C., the great empires of Cyrus and Darius stretched from nearly one
end of the known world to the other. The Greek historian Herodotus
wrote his famous Persian Wars
as a chronicle of the long wars fought
between the Greeks and Persians, who were the two superpowers of the day.
Finally, Alexander the Great conquered the Persian empire. Gradually, however,
the Persians re-emerged as a great dynasty during the early Christian era and
fought many battles with the Byzantines over the territories of the Middle
In the 7th Century, Iran was conquered by the Arabs. The Arabs brought with
them their new religion, Islam, to the previously Zoroastrian land of Iran.
After two or three centuries, the great majority of Iranians had converted to
Islam. Soon, many local Muslim Persian dynasties began to gain power, replacing
the Arab rulers. During the Middle Ages, a long line of invaders from the east
began to sweep through Iran and the rest of the Middle East. First came the
Turkish nomads, and then the Mongol hordes of Genghis Khan, then Tamerlane.
Despite these many invasions and the damage that was done to cities and the
population, Iran was one of the most important centers of culture in the
medieval Islamic World, and the culture of that world was, until the European
Renaissance, probably the most advanced that man had ever known.
In the 16th century Iran was ruled by the Safavids, another Turkish dynasty,
which made Shi'ism the state religion of Iran, and converted the Iranians, who
at the time were mostly Sunni Muslims, to Shi'ism. Today well over 90% of
Iranians are Shi'ite Muslims.
Although it was never colonized, Iran has been dominated by foreign powers for
much of the 19th and 20th century. From 1905 to 1911 a Constitutional
Revolution took place, which forced the Iranian monarchy to rule the country in
conjunction with a Parliament. In 1979 the monarchy was abolished, and the
Islamic Revolutionary government took power.
Iran is a country of 630,000 square miles, about the same size as the
southwestern United States--California, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, New Mexico and
Arizona combined. The population of Iran is approximately 43 million people,
which is about the same as England. Iran is bordered on the east by Pakistan
and Afghanistan, on the north by the Caspian Sea and the Soviet Union, in the
west by Turkey and Iraq, and to the south by the Persian Gulf.
we have been conditioned to think of Iran and Iranians as a monolithic entity,
in reality Iran is a very diverse country. For example, in addition to the
Shi'ite majority, there are many Sunnis (especially among the Kurds and
Turkmen), about 350,000 Bahá'ís, 200,000 Christians, 70,000 Jews, and 25,000
Despite the fact that Persian (Farsi) is the official language of Iran and the
primary vehicle of Iranian culture and history, nearly half the country's
population speaks a mother tongue
other than Persian. Additional languages include Azari, Turkish, Armenian,
Arabic and several other Iranian dialects. All Iranian school children,
however, are taught in Persian.
There are many regional dialects, and regional differences of culture. To the
northwest, between the borders of Turkey and the Soviet Union, lies the
province of Azarbayjan and its capital city, Tabriz. This area is largely
populated by Azari Turks, whose mother tongue is a blend of Turkish and
The western part of Iran is populated by a large number of Kurds, who have a
strong sense of ethnic identity and have been agitating, along with the Kurds
of Iraq, for political autonomy. To the south, in the area where most of the
fighting with Iraq has been taking place, many Iranians of Arab heritage live.
There are also nomadic tribes of Turkish ancestry like the Qashqa'i, who live
in the central areas of the country.
Tehran, on the other hand, is a sprawling urban metropolis, in many ways like
any large modem city of the west. It is the capital of the country, and with a
population of about 6 million, has about as many inhabitants as Chicago and Los
Angeles combined. Most Iranians probably spent at least some time in Tehran
before coming to the United States.
Urban refugees from the major cities
in Iran like Tehran, Shiraz,
Abadan, Tabriz and Isfahan will not have as much difficulty adjusting to life
in the United States. They will be well-accustomed to western goods and some
western customs. Refugees coming directly from small towns and villages,
however, may need some kind of orientation to western products and appliances,
etc. However, the literacy rate for Iran is high for the Third World, so the
overwhelming majority of the
refugees will be literate in Persian, and may have at least some familiarity
with English (in the case of younger Iranians) or French (usually in the case
of older Iranians), both of which were taught in the schools as a second
During the nineteenth century in Iran, male children were often named after the
revered heroes of Shi'i Islam; Muhammad (after the Prophet), 'Ali (after the
son-in-law of the Prophet and the first Imam of the Shi'ites), Husayn (after
'Ali's martyred son), Reza (after the eighth Imam) were common names. Girls
were often named after Shi'ite heroines like Fatimeh (the daughter of
Muhammad). Many of these names are still popular, and are often used in
combination, as in the boy's names Muhammad-Ali and Muhammad-Reza. Frequently
the attributes of God are used as first names, as in Rahmatollah (the Mercy of
God) or Qodratollah (the Might of God).
Nowadays Persian names tend to be chosen from ancient Iranian history and
mythology. Some of the favorite men s names are Manuchehr, Farhad or Bahram,
legendary historical figures from pre-Islamic Iran. Some popular women's names
include Roya (dream or vision), Naheed (Venus), Mozhdeh (glad-tidings), Forough
(splendor) and Ferdows (paradise).
Until about sixty years ago when Reza Shah (the father of the late Shah) passed
laws requiring all Iranians to adopt a first and last name along western lines,
Persian last names were often derived from the name of the city where the
individual was born or the city where he lived. Let's take, for example, the
famous poet Omar Khayyam Nayshaburi. His given name is Omar; Khayyam, which
means "tent-maker," refers to the profession of his father (as in the English
family names Baker, Smith, Shoemaker, etc.); finally, he was from the city of
Nayshabur in eastern Iran, and hence, Nayshaburi (of Nayshabur) is added to his
name (as in some medieval European names, like Julian of Norwich, St. Francis
of Assisi, etc.).
Many modern Persian last names were derived from this principle, after the city
where someone was born. For example, the following names are common: Kirmani,
Tehrani, Shirazi, Sanandaji, Isfahani, Tabrizi, Yazdi, etc.
Other modern Persian family names were derived from the father's first name,
along the same pattern as the English surnames Johnson, Jackson, Peterson, etc.
The Persian suffixes "Zadeh" and "Pur" mean "born of'
or "son of' and
are used in connection with a male ancestor's name, as in the last names
Alizadeh, Hassanzadeh, Radpur, Behzadpur, etc.
Iranians will generally expect those who don't know them personally to
address them by their last names (e.g., Mr. Jamalzadeh, Mrs. Deilamian,
Because Persian is written in a different script, the English spelling of
Persian names may vary. For example, Isfahani/Esfahani, Mohammed/Muhammad,
Roohani/Rouhani/Ruhani etc. are simply different ways of transliterating the
same Persian names.
Example of Persian Alphabet
The transliteration table which follows has been approved by the American
Library Association and the Library of Congress.
Of course, there are large variations of culture and custom among the
different peoples and regions of Iran, and there is, in addition to this,
always considerable variation from person to person, as there is among
Americans or any other people. However, the following observations can be
considered general tendencies and characteristics, which, although not
necessarily true for every individual, should be remembered in interactions
Generally speaking, western industrialized cultures emphasize schedules
and the planning of events around separate and distinct blocks of time. Such a
system tends to place great value in task completion, accomplishment,
productivity, individuality and order. Iranian culture, conversely, emphasizes
people, human relationships, family ties, togetherness and attending to things
based on priority of importance rather than according to schedule.
For example, a typical American will try very hard to meet an important
deadline. If family or personal matters arise, he may not deal with them until
after the work is completed. For a typical Iranian, on the other hand, if his
uncle falls ill, he may very well ignore the deadline and spend time with his
uncle until he recuperates. This is typical and expected behavior for most
Iranians, and they do not feel as if they are shirking their duties in such
Also, the Iranian attitude toward time is different from the Western one. These
differences are due to the cultural
relativity of time, not to laziness on the part of Persians, or excessive
rigidity on the part of Americans. Persians typically practice a kind of
flex-time when visiting friends or going places, and do not expect to be
anywhere at a precise hour. For example, if an Iranian is invited to a friend's
home for dinner, he will usually show up late, at least in part to avoid the
impression that he is overly eager to eat.
This may sometimes create problems or misunderstandings in the work place,
and it might be good to emphasize that in America for business purposes and
formal social occasions, people are expected to arrive exactly on time.
Rules and Regulations
Americans tend to hold official rules and regulations as inviolable and
in most cases try to observe them. Middle Eastern culture, however, does not.
Among Iranians, in many cases, one's ability to circumvent the system by
personal connections or cleverness is taken as an indication of his social
skill or his influence and stature within society. As an illustration, in the
Middle East commercial transactions are commonly based on bargaining. In the
U.S., if an American sees a listed price in a grocery store, he will decide
whether it is a good buy or not and act accordingly. In the Middle East, if a
shopper sees something in a store and thinks the advertised price too high, he
will typically attempt to negotiate with the vendor until he gets a suitable
price. Consequently, Persians in this country will often get better deals when
purchasing automobiles, cameras, stereo equipment etc., than the average
However, Iranians may also try to circumvent some systems in a way that is
offensive to Americans, and this can sometimes make them
seem overly aggressive. It is important to realize, though, that such
behavior is not intended disrespectfully. To the average Middle Easterner, it
is simply the conventional means for getting results in society.
Ritual Courtesy and Hospitality (Tarof)
Persian culture involves an elaborate system of ceremonial politesse.
This system is known in Persian as Tarof. Typically, it dictates, for example,
that when Iranians meet friends and acquaintances, proper greetings must be
exchanged, including enquiries after the health of not only the individuals
speaking, but also their family members. In social gatherings Iranians
typically greet and acknowledge everyone present individually, and even after
many years of friendship, adult Persians often address one another formally to
show respect (Dr. Farrokhi, Mrs. Edalati, etc.). Also, for community events and
large gatherings everyone is expected to be present. At weddings, for instance,
even those who may barely know the bride and groom may be expected to attend,
and their absence can be taken as an affront.
Iranians are usually very hospitable and will offer guests tea, fruits and
sweets. As part of the ritual politesse, the guest generally declines the first
offer or two, and finally graciously accepts, amid expressions of the host's
kindness. Friends who drop by for a visit are also often asked to stay for
Therefore, Iranians may be somewhat surprised if an American host offers
them food and takes their first polite refusal at face value. Of course, the
degree to which Tarof is practiced varies from individual to individual, and
young people may not stand on ceremony as much as their elders.
On the other hand, it is not unusual for some Persians to ask personal
questions of others, such as how much money do you make, how much is your rent,
why don't you get married, etc. This can sometimes seem pushy to Americans,
though it often indicates friendship on the part of some Iranians.
Tarof demands a certain kind of ritual courtesy on the phone, too. When
calling others, even for business reasons, it is customary for Persians to
inquire after the other party's health and to address them with ceremonial
honorific titles and polite compliments. The Straight-to-the-Point and
business-like telephone manners of some Americans may seem rude to some
Iranians, and may be taken as a lack of care for them as individuals.
Persians may invite friends over for an evening to have dinner and chat in
front of the television. Americans may be bored by such an evening because they
often feel they should be "doing" something -- going out somewhere or some
other type of activity. For the typical Persian, the fact that he is among
friends is what is important, not so much what is done or what happens, or even
at what time it happens. Most Persians do not like to spend too much time
alone, and are very glad to have company. Socializing is a very important
aspect of Persian culture, and pictures are often taken when friends or
relatives are together.
It is important that sponsors of refugees or others should greet the new
arrivals, visit them in their homes and invite them to tea or dinner. It is
part of their cultural expectation that newcomers
should be greeted and visited. This will help make them feel welcome and
wanted. One arrangement that has worked well in the Bahá'í community is to form
Friendship Teams, where American members of the community are paired with new
refugees as a kind of buddy system.
The refugees usually become very homesick after a short time here, but with
help and encouragement from their new friends, they are able to overcome this
to a large degree and participate actively in American society.
Relatives and Family Members
Iranians generally feel attached to their extended family members, and
will go to visit them whenever possible. If they live in the same city, they
may exchange visits two or three times a week. They will also often relocate to
be near close friends and relatives if the opportunity arises, and the friends
or relatives will assist them in getting jobs and housing, etc.
Persian children are expected to be respectful to and mindful of their parents.
Younger adults are also expected to show respect to their elders. Sometimes,
for instance, even children who are married and have their own families will
not smoke in front of their parents, as they do not wish to displease them or
show them disrespect. Children and teenagers are usually included in gatherings
of adults and will be expected to enjoy their company and behave politely. The
older generation is considered to be wiser and is accorded a certain
deferential respect, in contrast to American culture, where the emphasis is on
As a rule, Persian parents pay a great deal of attention to their children and
act sacrificially in their interests. It is very
common for full grown children to remain in their parents' home well past the
age of 18, frequently until marriage. If they are financially able to do so,
parents typically continue financial support throughout their children's life,
including putting them through college, buying a house, etc. This is in no way
taken to be a sign of the children's dependency on their parents, but as a
measure of love that the family members have for one another.
When a relative or family member passes away, the survivors will often mourn
for quite some time and wear black. They often hold annual memorial services in
honor of the deceased and feed the poor or perform other acts of charity in
In most cases, especially when they have first arrived in a strange place,
all the members of an Iranian family will want to live together. If they have
relatives who already live in this country, they will want to locate as close
as possible to them.
Relations between the Sexes
Persian culture is generally conservative in dealings between the sexes,
although many younger Iranians from major metropolitan areas like Tehran are
more likely to have adopted some Western ideas about dating, marriage, etc.
Most older Persians, however, may feel somewhat uncomfortable to be alone with
members of the opposite sex other than their spouses or relatives. This is
especially true for devout Moslems. If a young unmarried couple are seen going
out together, older Iranians will normally assume that they have marriage
plans, although this may not be true for many of the younger generation.
Iranian weddings are usually very elaborate and expensive affairs.
Affection is rarely if ever displayed in public between members of the
opposite sex, even those who have been married for some time. Physical contact
between people of the same sex is, on the other hand, more common than it is in
the United States. For example, Iranian men may kiss each other on the
cheek when greeting one another.
Men may help their wives at home when guests are over, but the woman is
usually expected to do the traditional chores of cooking, cleaning and washing
on her own, while management of finances is typically the husband's
responsibility. Child rearing is also usually the primary responsibility of the
mother, although most Iranian men like to spend lots of time with their
children. Many couples feel uncomfortable leaving their children with
babysitters. Many middle and upper-middle class Iranians also consider it
undignified for women to work outside the home (especially in restaurant jobs
or babysitting), although this is less true of the younger generation.
Education is highly respected among Iranians, and the educational system
in Iran up through the high school level was much more difficult and
comprehensive than it is in this country. The fields of medicine and
engineering were particularly popular in Iran, as they are in many developing
countries. A larger percentage of women major in scientific fields in Iran than
in this country, at least until very recently. The humanities are less commonly
studied by Iranian university students.
Manual labor is not considered a dignified job by most middle and upper-middle
class Iranians. It may be difficult
for some to accept the fact that they have to work in manual labor jobs due to
lack of English skills, or inability to pass the American board exams or
acquire certification, or other factors. Persian culture puts great weight in
degrees, and people who have Ph.D.'s are usually highly respected and looked to
for advice, oftentimes regardless of their field of specialization. When they
have come to America, however, they are no longer particularly respected by the
society around them, due to their status as refugees and because they are often
not able to practice in their field of expertise.
Consequently, doctors, lawyers, businessmen, etc. who come from respected
positions in Iran and experience downward mobility in this country are apt to
feel a loss of self-esteem. This is compounded by the fact that parents often
become dependent on their children (who learn English better and more quickly)
as interpreters for their dealings outside of the home.
Iranian culture generally demands that individuals present a calm and
dignified exterior. Persians will try not to let domestic troubles become
apparent to those outside of their household. Usually they will not admit to
friends or acquaintances when they have financial or marital difficulties. This
is in part due to the fact that in Middle Eastern communities such news spreads
quickly and often becomes the focus of gossip.
When pressed about family or financial difficulties, Persians will often
make excuses that avoid revealing the real problem. This is done in order to
save face and maintain appearances. They will not usually say such things as "I
can not afford to do this."
Iranian culture, like most Islamic cultures, is relatively free of racial
prejudice. However, there is typically a strong sense of social prejudice among
Iranians that separates people by social class and religious affiliation.
Middle and Upper-Middle class Iranians in this country often feel a social
prejudice against poor minorities such as blacks or Latinos. This prejudice
usually stems from differences in culture and lifestyle rather than from race
Iranians will go to great lengths, sacrificing their own interests, to help
their friends and family members. However, outsiders, strangers and those who
do not belong to their social class or group will not usually receive such
consideration. This is part of the reason why Iranians often try to talk to the
head of an office or organization, because they feel once they are personally
known to the person in charge, they will be treated with "insider" status.
Food and Hospitality
As noted earlier, Persians are usually very hospitable to their guests. They
will often invite people to their home for dinner and other occasions. They
will generally go all out to make the guest feel as comfortable as possible,
serving him first, giving him the most comfortable seat, and even giving the
main bedroom to the guest (the host will sleep on the floor or sofa).
Rice is a staple ingredient of formal Persian dishes, some of which are very
elaborate and time-consuming to prepare. Yogurt is also a common food, and is
eaten with rice. Fresh vegetables and fruit are a must in any Iranian home. Hot
tea is the most popular drink. Persians adore picnics and will often go to
parks, etc., to enjoy the scenery and eat outdoors.
Iranians are typically fashion conscious and will dress up very
elegantly on social occasions and whenever going out. They are not likely to
wear such things as sweat suits, etc. in public. When relaxing at home,
however, a Persian family tends to dress very informally. In fact, the word
"Pajamas" comes to us from Iran via British India; in Iran pajamas are worn for
relaxing in as well as for sleeping.
In traditional and more rural areas in Iran, shoes are commonly removed before
entering the house. However, most Iranians from the major cities no longer
practice this custom.
Iranians typically like things to be visibly clean and will not feel
comfortable in places which are noticeably dirty. They will also not feel
comfortable to be served food or be touched by people who have handled pets or
garbage, etc. and not yet washed their hands, Cats and birds maybe kept as
pets, but typically Iranians do not like dogs, as they are considered to be
dirty creatures in most Islamic cultures. Persians prefer taking showers to
The sports popularly played in Iran include soccer and wrestling for boys and
volleyball and table tennis for girls. Iranians do not usually have any
familiarity with American football or baseball, although basketball is
Persians like big cities and enjoy seeing the famous tourist sites,
restaurants and points of interest. They also like to take pictures of
themselves at these sites. They will furthermore buy souvenirs to take back to
their friends and relatives who were not able to come with them.
The Persian Calendar and Naw Ruz (No Rooz)
Although the Islamic calendar, which is lunar, was observed to some
extent for religious purposes, the official calendar in Iran was a solar
agricultural calendar. The Iranian new year is called "Naw Ruz," which
literally means "New Day." Naw Ruz is an ancient Persian celebration observed
on the spring equinox (March 21), marking the end of winter and the coming of a
new spring. This is a very festive occasion for Iranians of all religions, and
is analogous to the Christmas holiday season in America. Iranians will get
together, exchange gifts, hold picnics and celebrate.
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Suggested Further Readings
The following works should help those who are interested to know more
about specific aspects of Iranian culture and history. It is not by any means a
Elwell-Sutton, L.P. Colloquial Persian,
Routledge and Kegan Paul,
"Persian Transliteration," Bulletin 59, Cataloging Service, The Library of
Congress, Washington D.C.
Aryanpur, Abbas and Manoochehr, The Combined New English-
Persian/Persian English Dictionary,
Mazda Publishers, Lexington, Kentucky,
1986. The cost is about $36.
Haim, One Volume Persian-English Dictionary,
Farhang Moaser, Tehran,
1984. This is still the best available dictionary of modern Persian. The cost
is about $50.
Haim, One Volume English-Persian Dictionary,
Y. Beroukhim and
Sons Booksellers, Tehran, 1974. The companion volume to the above.
Abrahanijan, Ervand, Iran Between Two Revolutions,
Press, 1982. This is the most detailed book on the history of twentieth century
Iran and is written by an Iranian leftist.
Avery, Peter, Modern Iran,
Frederick Praeger, 1965. A thorough account
of Persian history from the nineteenth century through the mid-1960s, told from
a British perspective.
Bausani, Alessandro, The Persians,
Ebek Books Ltd., 1971. A short
descriptive history from earliest times to the twentieth century.
Cottham, Nationalism in Iran,
University of Pittsburgh Press, 1979. A
history of twentieth century Iran, emphasizing the development of nationalistic
Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran,
trans. Hamid Algar, Mizan
Crimes Against Humanity,
documentation of the human rights abuses in
Iran under the Islamic Republic of Iran gathered by a Muslim oppositionist
group, the Mojahedeen.
Halliday, Fred, Dictatorship and Development,
Penguin Books, 1979. A
sociopolitical history of modern Iran explaining the conditions in Iran just
before the Revolution.
Iranian Refugees: The Many Faces of Persecution,
U.S. Committee for
Refugees, December 1984. A booklet explaining the political, social and
religious dimensions of persecution in Iran since the 1979 revolution.
Mottahedeh, Roy, The Mantle of the Prophet,
Simon and Shuster, 1985. A
novel of a young cleric in Iran, woven around a social and historical account
of modern Iranian history and the events leading up to the revolution of
Rubin, Barry, Paved with Good Intentions,
Oxford University Press, 1980.
Concerning the relations between the United States and Iran and the events that
led to revolution.
Keddie, Niki, Religion and Politics in Iran,
Yale University Press,
1983. A collection of scholarly articles on the Iranian Revolution and its
relation to religion.
Rahman, Fazlur, Islam,
University of Chicago Press. An excellent
overview of the history and beliefs of Islam.
Momen, Moojan, Shi'ism: An Introduction,
George Ronald, 1985. A
theological and historical account of the development of Shi'ism from earliest
times to today.
The Bahá'ís in Iran: A Report on the Persecution of a Religious Minority and
Major Developments July 1982-July 1983,
Bahá'í International Community, New
York, 1983. A description with numerous documents and statistics of the
persecution of the Bahá'ís in Iran.
The Universal House of Justice, The Promise of World Peace,
Publishing Trust, Wilmette, 1985. A brief yet thorough description of the
beliefs of the Bah~'fs and their approach to world peace.
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