Two hundred years of silence

Two Centuries of Silence
For anyone who wants to know more about today's relationship between Iranians and Arabs, a 60 year old book is highly recommended.


"Where are you from?" "I'm from Iran." "So you speak Arabic?" "No, we're talking Farsi. Iranians are not Arabs. We are Persians. ”This is a common conversation for Iranians in meeting people with insufficient knowledge of their culture and history.

In the beginning, the Iranians were Zoroastrians. But then, in that 7. century, the Arabs conquered Iran in the time of the Persian Empire, and the Iranians converted to Islam. The book Do Qarn Sokut"Two Hundred Years of Silence," written by Iranian literary critic Abdollhossein Zarrinkoub (1923 – 1999), is a well-crafted depiction of the very first years of this historic, political, and cultural defeat. The book was already published in 1957, but is still very significant and worthwhile. Book publishing and reading have, as you know, certain challenges in Iran. Unfortunately, an Iranian reads on average only 13 minutes per day, and the average price of a book is almost four dollars.

Post-traumatic silence. Abdollhossein Zarrinkoub was an expert on Iranian literature and Persian culture and history, and held positions at universities such as Oxford, Sorbonne and Princeton. During his life, he wrote over 25 books and translated at least six, in addition to publishing seven scientific works. Zarrinkoub's books are widely read in academic circles and are considered the main sources in studies of mysticism and the mystical anthropology of Persian Mowlavi. Mowlavi was a Muslim scholar, a lawyer. lyricists and Sufi mystics who lived in the 1200th century. He is also known as Rumi.

The English translation of Two hundred years of silence contains ten chapters describing the different decades of the period, focusing on the challenges, wars and invasions that the Iranians faced. The Zarrinkoubs call the years "the era of silence" due to the Arabs' shock ownership over the Iranians, who had traditionally been culturally productive and even the Roman Empire's rivals. The silence was a reaction to the extensive cultural and political changes the Persians underwent.

Iran's hatred of Arabs does not necessarily stem from Arab cruelty, but from the hatred of their own weakness against an even weaker enemy.

The seed germ was sown. The Arabs invaded Iran in 641, during the Sasanid era of the kingdom (224–651). The weak government, decay, dissemination of ideas, holiness, lies, bribes and spiritual deprivation generally contributed to the conquest of the Persian Empire by simple Arab nomads. Prophet Muhammad's peaceful message was based on equality, kindness and brotherhood – thoughts that united the Arabs and gave them strength. The Zoroastrian priests lost power and influence. When the Arabs struck, the Persians experienced the ravages of war with brutality and murder. The germ of Iran's hatred of Arabs was sown, and was further nourished by the racial prejudice of the Arab powers towards the Iranians. This reached a peak during the Umajjad caliphate (up to about 900 AD).

Under the rule of the Arabs, Arabic became the official language of Iran. The Arabs insisted that the Iranians use Arabic; they burned books written in Farsi and forced the Iranians to speak Arabic. But the Iranians resisted using pahlavi in ​​daily life.

Iraq, which was the focal point of Iranian and Arab attention, was the core of the Abbasid Caliphate (762–1258) and the cradle of A thousand and one night-the stories, which are largely about looting Iranian areas. As Zarrinkoub points out Two hundred years of silence, many reacted strongly that a drunken caliph could throw jewels over poets and musicians who entertained during his banquets. The hatred in some places led Arab-married Iranian women to "take a deadly hold on their husbands" and deliver them to the rulers to have them killed.

Contempt for one's own weakness. The Tahirid dynasty (821–873) was the first Iranian dynasty after the Arabs were overthrown and Iranian independence regained. The reluctance between the two groups of people was strong and mutual, and both allowed themselves all the noble qualities while the counterpart was lousy. During the centuries of Arab rule, many religious sects were founded, but none of them survived. Ever since the Arab defeat was a fact, the conflict between Arabs and Iranians has been religiously characterized, which has continued to this day.

When you look at the story through Two hundred years of silence, one becomes aware that Iran's hatred of Arabs does not necessarily spring from Arab cruelty. The deep-rooted conflicts are also linked to Iranians' hatred of their own weakness, facing an "even weaker enemy". As mentioned earlier, Iran was an empire, but an empire weakened by the Sasanid rulers' mistrust. So underwhelming, unstable and vulnerable was it that a moderate attack by Arab nomads was enough to sweep it over. Zarrinkoub quotes one of the Arab rulers: "I am surprised that the Iranians, who ruled here for thousands of years, never needed us, while we ruled for a hundred years and depended on them every hour of the day." What the Iranians lost was the belief in themselves.

Zarrinkoub's portrayal is neither anti-Arab nor pan-Iranian, but tells the story of early Iranian and Arab relations in a sober and fact-oriented way. Zarrinkoub re-edited and adjusted the book in later editions, showing that he is flexible and without prejudice. For anyone who wants to know more about today's relationship between the two parties, is Two hundred years of silence highly recommended. And remember: Iranians are not Arabs but Persians.

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