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Quote on Persian influence on Islam

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Arnold Yasin Mol

PostPosted: Sat Sep 27, 2008 8:12 am    Post subject: Quote on Persian influence on Islam Reply with quote

"The arabic prose works were translated into Persian since the people were too lazy to read arabic, as one translator expressed it. There was no revolt against either Islam or Arabic in the new Persian literary renaissance since a new Islamic Persian culture was being created. The Zoroasterian elements in the poetry represented the mode of the time and should not be considered as expressions of true Zoroasterian belief. Nostalgia for the part existed....New Persian was now a language side by side with Arabic, and Islam had outgrown its Arabic background. It had become a multi-national, multi-lingual universal culture and faith and Iran played the leading role in this transformation. In a sense Islam had to change before the Persians accepted it, but one might also say that just as Greek civilisation served as a vehicle for Christianity, so did Iranian civilisation for Islam."

The Heritage of Persia by prof. Richard N. Frye 2004 reprint
page 289
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Arnold Yasin Mol

PostPosted: Sat Sep 27, 2008 11:48 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

"The role of Persians in the history of Arabic literature, especially philology and grammar, is too well known to be catalogued. The early writers of Arabic grammars, usch as Sibawaih, were Persians. [...] Even if the words vizier 'minister'and divan 'bureau' were not Persian in origin the instutitions at least under the 'Abbasids were Sasanian in inspiritation. Where else would the caliphs find models for the protocol and the ceremonial of their courts? After all the Arabs conquere only some provinces of the Byzantine empire, but they conquered all of the Sasanian empire with all of its imperial traditions. The association of state and religion implicit in Islam found an imperial model in the Persians books of Andars or 'counsel' derived from Sasanian originals. The list of Sasanian influences on all phases of Islamic culture and civilisation would be too long to include here. [...]

There was a literary movement in the time of the 'Abbasids which was called the Shu'ubiyya, or the nationalist school. There are several views about the Shu'ubiyya, either that it was only active among the literati with small importance for the masses, or that it was of profound social significance, a struggle to determine the destinies of Islamic culture as a whole. I believe the problem has been approached with a misleading emphasis, as though the philo-Persian literati were trying to wreck the structure of Islam when they introduced Persian ideas and instutions into Islamic culture, or Persian words into Arabic. By the time of the 'Abbasids the question at stake was not Islam or Iran, but rather a Persianised, international Islam or a narrow Arab Islam. The philo-Persians were reading the signs of the time; they were the wave of the future, while narrow Arab interests were provincials and in a sense reactionary against the real destiny or genius of Islam. HAR Gibb made an acute observation, when he said that the issue at stake was whether the new Islamic society was to become a re-embodiment of the old Perso-Aramaean culture into the Arabic and Islamic elements would be absorbed, or a culture in which the Perso-Aramaean contributions would be subordianted to the Arab tradition and the Islamic values. In the case of Persia there was no question, but that the former view should previal, while in the Arabic-speaking parts of the caliphate it would seem the later triumphed." (p. 277-279)
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