Religion in Iran

Religion in Iran

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Most Iran
Iran
Iran , officially the Islamic Republic of Iran , is a country in Southern and Western Asia. The name "Iran" has been in use natively since the Sassanian era and came into use internationally in 1935, before which the country was known to the Western world as Persia...

ians are Muslims. Around 89% belong to Shi'a
Shi'a Islam
Shia Islam is the second largest denomination of Islam. The followers of Shia Islam are called Shi'ites or Shias. "Shia" is the short form of the historic phrase Shīʻatu ʻAlī , meaning "followers of Ali", "faction of Ali", or "party of Ali".Like other schools of thought in Islam, Shia Islam is...

 branch of Islam
Islam
Islam . The most common are and .   : Arabic pronunciation varies regionally. The first vowel ranges from ~~. The second vowel ranges from ~~~...

, the official state religion, and about 9% belong to the Sunni
Sunni Islam
Sunni Islam is the largest branch of Islam. Sunni Muslims are referred to in Arabic as ʾAhl ūs-Sunnah wa āl-Ǧamāʿah or ʾAhl ūs-Sunnah for short; in English, they are known as Sunni Muslims, Sunnis or Sunnites....

 branch of Islam. The remaining 2% are non-Muslim religious minorities, including Bahá'ís
Bahá'í Faith
The Bahá'í Faith is a monotheistic religion founded by Bahá'u'lláh in 19th-century Persia, emphasizing the spiritual unity of all humankind. There are an estimated five to six million Bahá'ís around the world in more than 200 countries and territories....

, Mandeans
Mandaeism
Mandaeism or Mandaeanism is a Gnostic religion with a strongly dualistic worldview. Its adherents, the Mandaeans, revere Adam, Abel, Seth, Enosh, Noah, Shem, Aram and especially John the Baptist...

, Yarsanis, Zoroastrians
Zoroastrians in Iran
Zoroastrians in Iran are the oldest religious community of the nation, with a long history continuing up to the present day.Prior to the Islamization of Iran, Zoroastrianism was the primary religion of the Iranian peoples...

, Jews
Persian Jews
Persian Jews , are Jews historically associated with Iran, traditionally known as Persia in Western sources.Judaism is one of the oldest religions practiced in Iran. The Book of Esther contains some references to the experiences of Jews in Persia...

, and Christians. The latter three minority
Minority group
A minority is a sociological group within a demographic. The demographic could be based on many factors from ethnicity, gender, wealth, power, etc. The term extends to numerous situations, and civilizations within history, despite the misnomer of minorities associated with a numerical statistic...

 religions are officially recognized and protected, and have reserved seats in the Iran parliament. Zoroastrianism was once the majority religion, though today Zoroastrians number only in the tens of thousands. Iran is home to the largest Jewish community in Muslim World
Muslim world
The term Muslim world has several meanings. In a religious sense, it refers to those who adhere to the teachings of Islam, referred to as Muslims. In a cultural sense, it refers to Islamic civilization, inclusive of non-Muslims living in that civilization...

. The Bahá'í Faith
Bahá'í Faith
The Bahá'í Faith is a monotheistic religion founded by Bahá'u'lláh in 19th-century Persia, emphasizing the spiritual unity of all humankind. There are an estimated five to six million Bahá'ís around the world in more than 200 countries and territories....

, Iran's largest non-Muslim religious minority, is not officially recognized, and has been persecuted during its existence in Iran.

Islam




History


Islam
Islam
Islam . The most common are and .   : Arabic pronunciation varies regionally. The first vowel ranges from ~~. The second vowel ranges from ~~~...

 does not have a mechanism for the Separation of church and state
Separation of church and state
The concept of the separation of church and state refers to the distance in the relationship between organized religion and the nation state....

 and has been the official religion and part of the governments of Iran
Iran
Iran , officially the Islamic Republic of Iran , is a country in Southern and Western Asia. The name "Iran" has been in use natively since the Sassanian era and came into use internationally in 1935, before which the country was known to the Western world as Persia...

 since the Islamic conquest of Iran circa 640 AD. It took another few hundred years for Shi'a Islam to gather and become a religious and political power in Iran. In the history of Shi'a Islam
History of Shia Islam
Shī‘a Islam, also Shi‘ite Islam or Shi‘ism is the second largest branch of Islam, after Sunnism. Shi'as adhere to the teachings of Muhammad and the religious guidance of his family or his descendents known as Shi'a Imams...

 the first Shia state was Idrisid dynasty (780-974) in Maghreb
Maghreb
The Maghreb is the region of Northwest Africa, west of Egypt. It includes five countries: Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, and Mauritania and the disputed territory of Western Sahara...

, a region of north west Africa. Then the Alavids
Alavids
The Alavids or Alavians , also known as the Zaydids, were a Zaidi Shia emirate based in Mazandaran of Iran. They were descendants of the second Shi'a Imam and brought Islam to the south Caspian Sea region of Iran. Their reign was ended when they were defeated by the Samanid empire in 928 AD...

 dynasty (864 - 928AD) became established in Mazandaran (Tabaristan), in northern Iran
Iran
Iran , officially the Islamic Republic of Iran , is a country in Southern and Western Asia. The name "Iran" has been in use natively since the Sassanian era and came into use internationally in 1935, before which the country was known to the Western world as Persia...

. The Alavids were of the Zaidiyyah
Zaidiyyah
Zaidiyya, or Zaidism is a Shi'a Muslim school of thought named after Zayd ibn ʻAlī, the grandson of Husayn ibn ʻAlī. Followers of the Zaydi Islamic jurisprudence are called Zaydi Shi'a...

 Shi'a (sometimes called "Fiver".) These dynasties were local. But they were followed by two great and powerful dynasties: Fatimid Caliphate which formed in Ifriqiya
Ifriqiya
In medieval history, Ifriqiya or Ifriqiyah was the area comprising the coastal regions of what are today western Libya, Tunisia, and eastern Algeria. This area included what had been the Roman province of Africa, whose name it inherited....

 in 909 AD and the Buyid dynasty emerged in Daylaman, in north central Iran, about 930 AD and then extended rule over central and western Iran
Iran
Iran , officially the Islamic Republic of Iran , is a country in Southern and Western Asia. The name "Iran" has been in use natively since the Sassanian era and came into use internationally in 1935, before which the country was known to the Western world as Persia...

 and into Iraq
Iraq
Iraq ; officially the Republic of Iraq is a country in Western Asia spanning most of the northwestern end of the Zagros mountain range, the eastern part of the Syrian Desert and the northern part of the Arabian Desert....

 until 1048 AD. The Buyid were also Zaidiyyah Shi'a. Later Sunni Islam came to rule from the Ghaznavids dynasty, 975 to 1187AD, through to the Mongol invasion and establishment of the Ilkhanate
Ilkhanate
The Ilkhanate, also spelled Il-khanate , was a Mongol khanate established in Azerbaijan and Persia in the 13th century, considered a part of the Mongol Empire...

 which kept Shi'a Islam out of power until the Mongol ruler Ghazan converted to Shi'a Islam
Shi'a Islam
Shia Islam is the second largest denomination of Islam. The followers of Shia Islam are called Shi'ites or Shias. "Shia" is the short form of the historic phrase Shīʻatu ʻAlī , meaning "followers of Ali", "faction of Ali", or "party of Ali".Like other schools of thought in Islam, Shia Islam is...

 in 1310 AD and made it the state religion.

Although Shi'as have lived in Iran since the earliest days of Islam, and there had been Shi'a dynasties in parts of Iran during the 10th and 11th centuries, according to Mortaza Motahhari the majority of Iranian scholars and masses remained Sunni till the time of the Safavids.

However, there are four high points in the history of Shi'a in Iran that expanded this linkage:
  • First, the migration of a number of persons belonging to the tribe of the Ash'ari
    Ash'ari
    The Ashʿari theology is a school of early Muslim speculative theology founded by the theologian Abu al-Hasan al-Ash'ari...

     from Iraq to the city of Qum towards the end of the 7th century AD, which is the period of establishment of Imamī Shī‘ism in Iran.
  • Second, the influence of the Shī‘ī tradition of Baghdad and Najaf on Iran during the 11th to 12th centuries AD.
  • Third, the influence of the school of Hillah on Iran during the 14th century AD.
  • Fourth, the influence of the Shī‘ism of Jabal Amel
    Jabal Amel
    Jabal Amel or Amil is a mountainous region of Southern Lebanon.The region is named after the Banu 'Amilah, a Yemenite tribe who, along with the kindred tribes of Hamadan, Lakhm, and Judham, settled in Syria, Palestine, parts of Jordan, and Lebanon. The area was known in ancient times as Jabal...

     and Bahrain
    Bahrain
    ' , officially the Kingdom of Bahrain , is a small island state near the western shores of the Persian Gulf. It is ruled by the Al Khalifa royal family. The population in 2010 stood at 1,214,705, including 235,108 non-nationals. Formerly an emirate, Bahrain was declared a kingdom in 2002.Bahrain is...

     on Iran during the period of establishment of the Safavid rule.


In 1501, the Safavid dynasty
Safavid dynasty
The Safavid dynasty was one of the most significant ruling dynasties of Iran. They ruled one of the greatest Persian empires since the Muslim conquest of Persia and established the Twelver school of Shi'a Islam as the official religion of their empire, marking one of the most important turning...

 established Twelver Shia Islam as the official state religion
State religion
A state religion is a religious body or creed officially endorsed by the state...

 of Iran. In particular after Ismail I
Ismail I
Ismail I , known in Persian as Shāh Ismāʿil , was a Shah of Iran and the founder of the Safavid dynasty which survived until 1736. Isma'il started his campaign in Azerbaijan in 1500 as the leader of the Safaviyya, an extremist heterodox Twelver Shi'i militant religious order and unified all of Iran...

 captured Tabriz in 1501 and established Safavids dynasty, he proclaimed Twelver Shiʿism as the state religion, ordering conversion of the Sunnis
Safavid conversion of Iran from Sunnism to Shiism
The Safavid conversion of Iran from Sunnism to Shiism made Iran the spiritual bastion of Shia Islam against the onslaughts of orthodox Sunni Islam, and the repository of Persian cultural traditions and self-awareness of Iranianhood, acting as a bridge to modern Iran...

. As most of his subjects were Sunni he enforced official Shi'ism violently, putting to death those who opposed him. Thousands were killed in subsequent purges. In some cases entire towns were eliminated because they were not willing to convert from Sunni Islam to Shi'ite Islam. Ismail brought Arab Shi'a clerics from Bahrain
Bahrain
' , officially the Kingdom of Bahrain , is a small island state near the western shores of the Persian Gulf. It is ruled by the Al Khalifa royal family. The population in 2010 stood at 1,214,705, including 235,108 non-nationals. Formerly an emirate, Bahrain was declared a kingdom in 2002.Bahrain is...

, Iraq
Iraq
Iraq ; officially the Republic of Iraq is a country in Western Asia spanning most of the northwestern end of the Zagros mountain range, the eastern part of the Syrian Desert and the northern part of the Arabian Desert....

, Syria
Syria
Syria , officially the Syrian Arab Republic , is a country in Western Asia, bordering Lebanon and the Mediterranean Sea to the West, Turkey to the north, Iraq to the east, Jordan to the south, and Israel to the southwest....

, and Lebanon
Lebanon
Lebanon , officially the Republic of LebanonRepublic of Lebanon is the most common term used by Lebanese government agencies. The term Lebanese Republic, a literal translation of the official Arabic and French names that is not used in today's world. Arabic is the most common language spoken among...

 in order to preach the Shi'a faith. Isma'il's attempt to spread Shi'ite propaganda among the Turkmen tribes of eastern Anatolia prompted a conflict with the Sunnite Ottoman Empire
Ottoman Empire
The Ottoman EmpireIt was usually referred to as the "Ottoman Empire", the "Turkish Empire", the "Ottoman Caliphate" or more commonly "Turkey" by its contemporaries...

. Following Iran's defeat by the Ottomans at the Battle of Chaldiran
Battle of Chaldiran
The Battle of Chaldiran or Chaldoran occurred on 23 August 1514 and ended with a victory for the Ottoman Empire over the Safavid Empire of Persia . As a result, the Ottomans gained immediate control over eastern Anatolia and northern Iraq...

, Safavid expansion fasted, and a process of consolidation began in which Isma'il sought to quell the more extreme expressions of faith among his followers.
While Ismail I declared shiism as the official state religion, it was in fact his successor, Tahmasb
Tahmasp I
Tahmasp or Tahmasb I was an influential Shah of Iran, who enjoyed the longest reign of any member of the Safavid dynasty...

, who consolidated the Safavid rule and spread Shiʿism in Iran. After a period of indulgence in wine and the pleasures of the harem, he turned pious and parsimonious, observing all the Shiʿite rites and enforcing them as far as possible on his entourage and subjects. Under Abbas I
Abbas I of Persia
Shāh ‘Abbās the Great was Shah of Iran, and generally considered the greatest ruler of the Safavid dynasty. He was the third son of Shah Mohammad....

, Iran prospered. Succeeding Safavid rulers promoted Shi'a Islam among the elites, and it was only under Mullah Allamah al-Majlis - court cleric from 1680 until 1698- that Shi'a Islam truly took hold among the masses.

Then there were successive dynasties in Iran - the Afsharid dynasty
Afsharid dynasty
The Afsharids were members of an Iranian dynasty of Turkmen origin from Khorasan who ruled Persia in the 18th century. The dynasty was founded in 1736 by the military commander Nader Shah who deposed the last member of the Safavid dynasty and proclaimed himself King of Iran. During Nader's reign,...

 (1736–1796 AD) (which mixed Shi'a and Sunni), Zand dynasty
Zand dynasty
The Zand dynasty ruled southern and central Iran in the 18th century.- Karim Khan Zand :The dynasty was founded by Karim Khan, chief of the Zand tribe which was Lur or Lak deportees. Modern scholarships such as Wadie Jwaideh suggested his Kurdishness. He became one of Nader Shah's generals...

 (1750–1794 AD) (which was Twelver Shi'a Islam), the Qajar dynasty
Qajar dynasty
The Qajar dynasty was an Iranian royal family of Turkic descent who ruled Persia from 1785 to 1925....

 (1794–1925 AD) (again Twelver). There was a brief Iranian Constitutional Revolution
Iranian Constitutional Revolution
The Persian Constitutional Revolution or Iranian Constitutional Revolution took place between 1905 and 1907...

 in 1905-11 in which the progressive religious and liberal forces rebelled against theocratic rulers in government who were also associated with European colonialization and their interests in the new Anglo-Persian Oil Company
Anglo-Persian Oil Company
The Anglo-Persian Oil Company was founded in 1908 following the discovery of a large oil field in Masjed Soleiman, Iran. It was the first company to extract petroleum from the Middle East...

.The secularist efforts ultimately succeeded in the Pahlavi dynasty
Pahlavi dynasty
The Pahlavi dynasty consisted of two Iranian/Persian monarchs, father and son Reza Shah Pahlavi and Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi The Pahlavi dynasty consisted of two Iranian/Persian monarchs, father and son Reza Shah Pahlavi (reg. 1925–1941) and Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi The Pahlavi dynasty ...

 (1925–1979 AD). The 1953 Iranian coup d'état was orchestrated by Western powers which created a backlash against Western powers in Iran, and was among the background and causes of the Iranian Revolution
Background and causes of the Iranian Revolution
The 1978-79 Iranian Islamic Revolution was a populist, nationalist and Shi'a Islamic revolution that replaced an ancient monarchy with a theocracy based on "Guardianship of the Islamic Jurists" ....

 to the creation of the Islamic republic
Islamic republic
Islamic republic is the name given to several states in the Muslim world including the Islamic Republics of Pakistan, Iran, Afghanistan, and Mauritania. Pakistan adopted the title under the constitution of 1956. Mauritania adopted it on 28 November 1958. Iran adopted it after the 1979 Iranian...

.

From the Islamization in Iran the cultural and religious expression of Iran participated in the Islamic Golden Age
Islamic Golden Age
During the Islamic Golden Age philosophers, scientists and engineers of the Islamic world contributed enormously to technology and culture, both by preserving earlier traditions and by adding their own inventions and innovations...

 from the 9th through the 13th centuries AD, for 400 years. This period was across Shi'a and Sunni dynasties through to the Mongol governance. Iran participated with its own scientists and scholars. Additionally the most important scholars of almost all of the Islamic sects and schools of thought were Persian or lived in Iran including most notable and reliable Hadith
Hadith
The term Hadīth is used to denote a saying or an act or tacit approval or criticism ascribed either validly or invalidly to the Islamic prophet Muhammad....

 collectors of Shia and Sunni like Shaikh Saduq, Shaikh Kulainy, Muhammad al-Bukhari
Muhammad al-Bukhari
Muhammad Ibn Ismail Ibn Ibrahim Ibn al-Mughirah Ibn Bardizbah al-Bukhari , popularly known as Bukhari or Imam Bukhari, , was a Sunni Islamic scholar of Persia...

, Muslim ibn al-Hajjaj
Muslim ibn al-Hajjaj
Abul Husayn Muslim ibn al-Hajjaj ibn Muslim ibn Warat al-Qushayri al-Nisaburi was the author of the second authentic sahih collection of hadith in Sunni Islam, Sahih Muslim.-Biography:...

 and Hakim al-Nishaburi
Hakim al-Nishaburi
Abu Abd-Allah Muhammad ibn Abd-Allah al-Hakim al-Nishaburi , and also known as Ibn Al-Baiyi.) was a Sunni scholar and the leading traditionist of his age, frequently referred to as the "Imam of the Muhaddithin" or the "Muhaddith of Khorasan."-Biography:Al-Hakim, who hailed from Nishapur, had vast...

, the greatest theologians
Kalam
ʿIlm al-Kalām is the Islamic philosophical discipline of seeking theological principles through dialectic. Kalām in Islamic practice relates to the discipline of seeking theological knowledge through debate and argument. A scholar of kalām is referred to as a mutakallim...

 of Shi'a and Sunni like Shaykh Tusi
Shaykh Tusi
Shaykh Tusi , full name: Abu Jafar Muhammad Ibn Hassan Tusi , known as Shaykh al-Taʾifah was a prominent Persian scholar of the Shi'a Twelver Islamic belief.-Birth:...

, Al-Ghazali
Al-Ghazali
Abu Hāmed Mohammad ibn Mohammad al-Ghazzālī , known as Algazel to the western medieval world, born and died in Tus, in the Khorasan province of Persia was a Persian Muslim theologian, jurist, philosopher, and mystic....

, Fakhr al-Din al-Razi
Fakhr al-Din al-Razi
Abu Abdullah Muhammad ibn Umar ibn al-Husayn al-Taymi al-Bakri al-Tabaristani Fakhr al-Din al-Razi , most commonly known as Fakhruddin Razi was a well-known Persian Sunni Muslim theologian and philosopher....

 and Al-Zamakhshari
Al-Zamakhshari
Abu al-Qasim Mahmud ibn Umar al-Zamakhshari. Known widely as al-Zamakhshari . Also called Jar Allah was a medieval Muslim scholar of Chorasmian-Iranian origin, who subscribed to the Muʿtazilite theological doctrine, who was born in Khwarezmia, but lived most of his life in Bukhara, Samarkand, and...

, the greatest Islamic physicians, astronomers
Islamic astronomy
Islamic astronomy or Arabic astronomy comprises the astronomical developments made in the Islamic world, particularly during the Islamic Golden Age , and mostly written in the Arabic language. These developments mostly took place in the Middle East, Central Asia, Al-Andalus, and North Africa, and...

, logicians
Logic in Islamic philosophy
Logic played an important role in Islamic philosophy .Islamic Logic or mantiq is similar science to what is called Traditional Logic in Western Sciences.- External links :*Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy: , Routledge, 1998...

, mathematicians
Islamic mathematics
In the history of mathematics, mathematics in medieval Islam, often termed Islamic mathematics or Arabic mathematics, covers the body of mathematics preserved and developed under the Islamic civilization between circa 622 and 1600...

, metaphysicians
Metaphysics
Metaphysics is a branch of philosophy concerned with explaining the fundamental nature of being and the world, although the term is not easily defined. Traditionally, metaphysics attempts to answer two basic questions in the broadest possible terms:...

, philosophers
Early Islamic philosophy
Early Islamic philosophy or classical Islamic philosophy is a period of intense philosophical development beginning in the 2nd century AH of the Islamic calendar and lasting until the 6th century AH...

 and scientists
Islamic science
Science in the medieval Islamic world, also known as Islamic science or Arabic science, is the science developed and practised in the Islamic world during the Islamic Golden Age . During this time, Indian, Iranian and especially Greek knowledge was translated into Arabic...

 like Al-Farabi
Al-Farabi
' known in the West as Alpharabius , was a scientist and philosopher of the Islamic world...

 and Nasīr al-Dīn al-Tūsī
Nasir al-Din al-Tusi
Khawaja Muḥammad ibn Muḥammad ibn Ḥasan Ṭūsī , better known as Naṣīr al-Dīn al-Ṭūsī , was a Persian polymath and prolific writer: an astronomer, biologist, chemist, mathematician, philosopher, physician, physicist, scientist, theologian and Marja Taqleed...

, the Shaykhs of Sufism
Shaykh of Sufism
A Shaykh , , of Sufism is a Sufi who is authorized to teach, initiate and guide aspiring dervishes. The shaykh is vital to the path of the novice sufi, for the shaykh has himself travelled the path of mysticism...

 like Rumi
Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Rumi
Jalāl ad-Dīn Muḥammad Balkhī , also known as Jalāl ad-Dīn Muḥammad Rūmī and popularly known as Mevlānā in Turkey and Mawlānā in Iran and Afghanistan but known to the English-speaking world simply as Rumi was a 13th-century Persian Muslim poet, jurist, theologian, and Sufi mystic...

, Abdul-Qadir Gilani - all these were in Iran or from Iran. And there were poets like Hafiz who wrote extensively in religious themes. Ibn Sina, known as Avicenna in the west, was a polymath
Polymath
A polymath is a person whose expertise spans a significant number of different subject areas. In less formal terms, a polymath may simply be someone who is very knowledgeable...

 and the foremost Islamic physician and philosopher of his time. Hafiz was the most celebrated Persian
Persian people
The Persian people are part of the Iranian peoples who speak the modern Persian language and closely akin Iranian dialects and languages. The origin of the ethnic Iranian/Persian peoples are traced to the Ancient Iranian peoples, who were part of the ancient Indo-Iranians and themselves part of...

 lyric poet and is often described as a poet's poet. Mowlānā Rumi's importance transcends national and ethnic borders even today. Readers of the Persian language in Iran
Iran
Iran , officially the Islamic Republic of Iran , is a country in Southern and Western Asia. The name "Iran" has been in use natively since the Sassanian era and came into use internationally in 1935, before which the country was known to the Western world as Persia...

, Afghanistan
Afghanistan
Afghanistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, is a landlocked country located in the centre of Asia, forming South Asia, Central Asia and the Middle East. With a population of about 29 million, it has an area of , making it the 42nd most populous and 41st largest nation in the world...

, Tajikistan
Tajikistan
Tajikistan , officially the Republic of Tajikistan , is a mountainous landlocked country in Central Asia. Afghanistan borders it to the south, Uzbekistan to the west, Kyrgyzstan to the north, and China to the east....

 and Uzbekistan
Uzbekistan
Uzbekistan , officially the Republic of Uzbekistan is a doubly landlocked country in Central Asia and one of the six independent Turkic states. It shares borders with Kazakhstan to the west and to the north, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan to the east, and Afghanistan and Turkmenistan to the south....

 see him as one of their most significant classical poets and an influence on many poets through history. In addition to individuals, whole institutions arose - Nizamiyyas were the medieval institutions of Islamic higher education established by Nizam al-Mulk
Nizam al-Mulk
Abu Ali al-Hasan al-Tusi Nizam al-Mulk, better known as Khwaja Nizam al-Mulk Tusi ; born in 1018 – 14 October 1092) was a Persian scholar and vizier of the Seljuq Empire...

 in the 11th century. These were the first well-organized universities in the Muslim world
Muslim world
The term Muslim world has several meanings. In a religious sense, it refers to those who adhere to the teachings of Islam, referred to as Muslims. In a cultural sense, it refers to Islamic civilization, inclusive of non-Muslims living in that civilization...

. The most famous and celebrated of all the nizamiyyah schools was Al-Nizamiyya of Baghdad
Al-Nizamiyya of Baghdad
Al-Nizamiyya of Baghdad was one the first Islamic universities, established in July of 1091 when Nizam al-Mulk appointed the 33-year-old Al-Ghazali as a professor of the school....

 (established 1065), where Nizam al-Mulk appointed the distinguished pilosopher and theologian, al-Ghazali
Al-Ghazali
Abu Hāmed Mohammad ibn Mohammad al-Ghazzālī , known as Algazel to the western medieval world, born and died in Tus, in the Khorasan province of Persia was a Persian Muslim theologian, jurist, philosopher, and mystic....

, as a professor. Other Nizamiyyah schools were located in Nishapur
Nishapur
Nishapur or Nishabur , is a city in the Razavi Khorasan province in northeastern Iran, situated in a fertile plain at the foot of the Binalud Mountains, near the regional capital of Mashhad...

, Balkh
Balkh
Balkh , was an ancient city and centre of Zoroastrianism in what is now northern Afghanistan. Today it is a small town in the province of Balkh, about 20 kilometers northwest of the provincial capital, Mazar-e Sharif, and some south of the Amu Darya. It was one of the major cities of Khorasan...

, Herat
Herat
Herāt is the capital of Herat province in Afghanistan. It is the third largest city of Afghanistan, with a population of about 397,456 as of 2006. It is situated in the valley of the Hari River, which flows from the mountains of central Afghanistan to the Karakum Desert in Turkmenistan...

 and Isfahan
Isfahan (city)
Isfahan , historically also rendered in English as Ispahan, Sepahan or Hispahan, is the capital of Isfahan Province in Iran, located about 340 km south of Tehran. It has a population of 1,583,609, Iran's third largest city after Tehran and Mashhad...

.

While the dynasties avowed either Shi'a or Sunni, and institutions and individuals claimed either Sunni or Shi'a affiliations, Shi'a - Sunni relations were part of Islam in Iran and continue today when Ayatollah Khomeini also called for unity between Sunni and Shi'a Muslims.

Shi'a Islam


Today Islam is the religion of 98% of Iranians of which approximately 89% are Shi'a
Shi'a Islam
Shia Islam is the second largest denomination of Islam. The followers of Shia Islam are called Shi'ites or Shias. "Shia" is the short form of the historic phrase Shīʻatu ʻAlī , meaning "followers of Ali", "faction of Ali", or "party of Ali".Like other schools of thought in Islam, Shia Islam is...

 - almost all of whom are Twelvers. The next largest Shi'a group are the Nizari
Nizari
'The Shī‘a Imami Ismā‘īlī Tariqah also referred to as the Ismā‘īlī or Nizārī , is a path of Shī‘a Islām, emphasizing social justice, pluralism, and human reason within the framework of the mystical tradition of Islam. The Nizari are the second largest branch of Shia Islam and form the majority...

 Ismailism Shi'a, sometimes called Sevener
Sevener
Seveners are a branch of Ismā'īlī Shīʻa. They became known as "Seveners" because they believe that Ismā'īl ibn Jaʻfar was the seventh and the last Imām . They believed his son, Muħammad ibn Ismā'īl al-Maktum, would return and bring about an age of justice as al-Mahdi...

s, some of whom fled Iran
Iran
Iran , officially the Islamic Republic of Iran , is a country in Southern and Western Asia. The name "Iran" has been in use natively since the Sassanian era and came into use internationally in 1935, before which the country was known to the Western world as Persia...

 to South Asia, especially Mumbai
Mumbai
Mumbai , formerly known as Bombay in English, is the capital of the Indian state of Maharashtra. It is the most populous city in India, and the fourth most populous city in the world, with a total metropolitan area population of approximately 20.5 million...

, in the 1840s after a failed coup against the Shah of the Qajar dynasty. Many still remain scattered throughout Iran,The Shi'a groups have distinctions between Fiver, Sevener and Twelver, derived from their belief in how many divinely ordained leaders there were who are descendants of the Islamic prophet
Prophets of Islam
Muslims identify the Prophets of Islam as those humans chosen by God and given revelation to deliver to mankind. Muslims believe that every prophet was given a belief to worship God and their respective followers believed it as well...

 Muhammad
Muhammad
Muhammad |ligature]] at U+FDF4 ;Arabic pronunciation varies regionally; the first vowel ranges from ~~; the second and the last vowel: ~~~. There are dialects which have no stress. In Egypt, it is pronounced not in religious contexts...

 through his daughter Fatimah
Fatimah
Fatimah was a daughter of the Islamic prophet Muhammad from his first wife Khadijah bint Khuwaylid. She is regarded by Muslims as an exemplar for men and women. She remained at her father's side through the difficulties suffered by him at the hands of the Quraysh of Mecca...

 and his son-in-law ‘Alī
Ali
' |Ramaḍān]], 40 AH; approximately October 23, 598 or 600 or March 17, 599 – January 27, 661).His father's name was Abu Talib. Ali was also the cousin and son-in-law of the Islamic prophet Muhammad, and ruled over the Islamic Caliphate from 656 to 661, and was the first male convert to Islam...

. These Imams are considered the best source of knowledge about the Qur'an
Qur'an
The Quran , also transliterated Qur'an, Koran, Alcoran, Qur’ān, Coran, Kuran, and al-Qur’ān, is the central religious text of Islam, which Muslims consider the verbatim word of God . It is regarded widely as the finest piece of literature in the Arabic language...

 and Islam, the most trusted carriers and protectors of Muḥammad's Sunnah
Sunnah
The word literally means a clear, well trodden, busy and plain surfaced road. In the discussion of the sources of religion, Sunnah denotes the practice of Prophet Muhammad that he taught and practically instituted as a teacher of the sharī‘ah and the best exemplar...

 (habit or usual practice) and the most worthy of emulation. In addition to the lineage of Imams, Twelvers have their preferred hadith collections - The Four Books
The Four Books
The Four Books is a Twelver Shiʿa term referring to their four best known hadith collections.The books are:Shi'a Muslims use different books of ahadith than Ahl al-Sunnah's Six major Hadith collections...

 - which are narrations regarded by Muslims as important tools for understanding the Quran and in matters of jurisprudence. For Twelvers the lineage of Imams are known as the Twelve Imāms. Of these Imams, only one is buried in Iran - at the Imam Reza shrine
Imam Reza shrine
Imām Reza shrine in Mashhad, Iran is a complex which contains the mausoleum of Imam Reza, the eighth Imām of Twelver Shi'ites. It is the largest mosque in the world by dimension and the second largest in capacity...

, for Ali ar-Ridha who lived from 765 - 818 AD, before any Shi'a dynasties arose in Iran. The last Imam recognized by Twelvers, Muhammad al-Mahdi
Muhammad al-Mahdi
Muḥammad ibn al-Ḥasan al-Mahdī is believed by Twelver Shī‘a Muslims to be the Mahdī, an ultimate savior of humankind and the final Imām of the Twelve Imams...

, was born in 868 AD as the Alavids spread their rule in Iran while in conflict with Al-Mu'tamid
Al-Mu'tamid
This article is about the Abbasid Caliph al-Mu'tamid of Baghdad. For the Andalusi Arabic poet who was also the Abbadid king of Seville, see Muhammad Ibn Abbad Al Mutamid...

, the Abbasid
Abbasid
The Abbasid Caliphate or, more simply, the Abbasids , was the third of the Islamic caliphates. It was ruled by the Abbasid dynasty of caliphs, who built their capital in Baghdad after overthrowing the Umayyad caliphate from all but the al-Andalus region....

 Caliph
Caliph
The Caliph is the head of state in a Caliphate, and the title for the ruler of the Islamic Ummah, an Islamic community ruled by the Shari'ah. It is a transcribed version of the Arabic word   which means "successor" or "representative"...

 at the time. Several Imams are buried in Iraq, as sites of pilgrimage, and the rest are in Saudi Arabia. In addition two of the Five Martyrs of Shia Islam
Five Martyrs of Shia Islam
The Five Martyrs were five ulema of Shi'i Islam, living in different spans of history, who were executed by the Sunni regimes. The Shia remember them by the term Five Martyrs, and Grand Ayatollah Muhammad Hussain Najafi wrote a book Shuhada-e Khamsa kay Halaat-e Zindagi "Biographies of the Five...

 have connections to Iran - Shahid Thani
Shahid Thani
Zayn al-Din al-Juba'i al'Amili was the second martyr .- Career :Thani was one of the greatest shi'a scholars. He studied under famous Sunni and Shi'a in Jabal 'Amel, Damascus, Cairo, Jerusalem among many others. He was known and respected by sunnis in Baalabeck for this...

 (1506–1558) lived in Iran later in life, and Qazi Nurullah Shustari
Qazi Nurullah Shustari
Qazi Nurullah Shustari also known as Shaheed-e-Salis was an eminent jurist and scholar of his time, 1542 A.D.-1610/11. Qazi Nurullah Shustari also known as Shaheed-e-Salis (third martyr) was an eminent jurist (faqih) and scholar (alim) of his time, 1542 A.D.-1610/11. Qazi Nurullah Shustari ...

 (1549–1610) was born in Iran.
The predominant school of theology, practice, and jurisprudence (Madh'hab) in Shi'a Islam is Jafari
Ja'fari jurisprudence
Jaʿfarī school of thought, Ja`farite School, Jaʿfarī jurisprudence or Jaʿfarī Fiqh is the school of jurisprudence of most Shi'a Muslims, derived from the name of Jaʿfar as-Ṣādiq, the 6th Shi'a Imam...

 established by Ja'far as-Sadiq.

Sunni Islam


Sunni Muslims are second largest religious group in Iran Specifically Sunni Islam came to rule in Iran after the period Sunni were distinguished from Shi'a through the Ghaznavids from 975 AD, followed by the Great Seljuq Empire
Great Seljuq Empire
The Great Seljuq Empire was a medieval Persianate, Turko-Persian Sunni Muslim empire, originating from the Qynyq branch of Oghuz Turks. The Seljuq Empire controlled a vast area stretching from the Hindu Kush to eastern Anatolia and from Central Asia to the Persian Gulf...

 and the Khwārazm-Shāh dynasty until the Mongol invasion of Iran. Islam returned to rule when Ghazan converted but he soon converted specifically to Shi'a.

In recent times about 9% of the Iranian population are Sunni Muslims - mostly Turkomen
Turkmen people
The Turkmen are a Turkic people located primarily in the Central Asian states of Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, and northeastern Iran. They speak the Turkmen language, which is classified as a part of the Western Oghuz branch of the Turkic languages family together with Turkish, Azerbaijani, Qashqai,...

, a minority of Arab
Arab
Arab people, also known as Arabs , are a panethnicity primarily living in the Arab world, which is located in Western Asia and North Africa. They are identified as such on one or more of genealogical, linguistic, or cultural grounds, with tribal affiliations, and intra-tribal relationships playing...

s (mainly in Hormozgan Province
Hormozgan Province
Hormozgan Province is one of the 31 provinces of Iran. It is in the south of the country, facing Oman. Its area is , and its provincial capital is Bandar Abbas...

), Baluchs, and Kurd
Kürd
Kürd or Kyurd or Kyurt may refer to:*Kürd Eldarbəyli, Azerbaijan*Kürd Mahrızlı, Azerbaijan*Kürd, Goychay, Azerbaijan*Kürd, Jalilabad, Azerbaijan*Kürd, Qabala, Azerbaijan*Qurdbayram, Azerbaijan...

s living in the southwest, southeast, northeast and northwest.

The predominant school of theology and jurisprudence (Madh'hab) among Sunni in Iran is Hanafi
Hanafi
The Hanafi school is one of the four Madhhab in jurisprudence within Sunni Islam. The Hanafi madhhab is named after the Persian scholar Abu Hanifa an-Nu‘man ibn Thābit , a Tabi‘i whose legal views were preserved primarily by his two most important disciples, Abu Yusuf and Muhammad al-Shaybani...

 established by Abu Hanifa an-Nu‘man
Abu Hanifa an-Nu‘man
Nuʿmān ibn Thābit ibn Zūṭā ibn Marzubān , better known as Imām Abū Ḥanīfah, was the founder of the Sunni Hanafi school of fiqh ....

.

Sufi Islam


The Safaviya sufi order, originates during the circa Safavid dynasty circa 700AD. A later order in Persia is the Chishti
Chishti Order
The Chishtī Order is a Sufi order within the mystic branches of Islam which was founded in Chisht, a small town near Herat, Afghanistan about 930 CE. The Chishti Order is known for its emphasis on love, tolerance, and openness. The doctrine of the Chishti Order is based on walāya, which is a...

. The Nimatullahi
Nimatullahi
The Ni'matullāhī or Ne'matollāhī is a Sufi order originating in Iran. According to Moojan Momen, the number of Ni'matullāhī in Iran in 1980 was estimated to be between 50,000 and 350,000. Following the emigration of Dr...

 are the largest Shi'i Sufi order active throughout Iran and there is the Naqshbandi
Naqshbandi
Naqshbandi is one of the major Sufi spiritual orders of Sufi Islam. It is considered to be a "Potent" order.The Naqshbandi order is over 1,300 years old, and is active today...

, a Sunni order active mostly in the Kurdish
Kurdish people
The Kurdish people, or Kurds , are an Iranian people native to the Middle East, mostly inhabiting a region known as Kurdistan, which includes adjacent parts of Iran, Iraq, Syria, and Turkey...

 regions of Iran. The Oveyssi-Shahmaghsoudi order is the largest Iranian Sufi order which currently operates outside of Iran.

Famous Sufis include al-Farabi, al-Ghazali, Jalāl-ad-Dīn Rūmī and Hafiz. Rumi's two major works, Dīwān-e Šams and Maṭnawīye Ma'nawī
Masnavi
The Masnavi, Masnavi-I Ma'navi or Mesnevi , also written Mathnawi, Ma'navi, or Mathnavi, is an extensive poem written in Persian by Jalal al-Din Muhammad Rumi, the celebrated Persian Sufi saint and poet. It is one of the best known and most influential works of both Sufism and Persian literature...

, are considered by some to be the greatest works of Sufi mysticism and literature.

Since the 1979 Revolution, Sufi practices have been repressed by the Islamic Republic
Islamic republic
Islamic republic is the name given to several states in the Muslim world including the Islamic Republics of Pakistan, Iran, Afghanistan, and Mauritania. Pakistan adopted the title under the constitution of 1956. Mauritania adopted it on 28 November 1958. Iran adopted it after the 1979 Iranian...

, forcing some Sufi leaders into exile.

While no official statistics are available for Sufi groups, there are reports that estimate their population between two and five million.

Other faiths



There are several major religious minorities in Iran
Iran
Iran , officially the Islamic Republic of Iran , is a country in Southern and Western Asia. The name "Iran" has been in use natively since the Sassanian era and came into use internationally in 1935, before which the country was known to the Western world as Persia...

, Bahá'ís
Bahá'í Faith
The Bahá'í Faith is a monotheistic religion founded by Bahá'u'lláh in 19th-century Persia, emphasizing the spiritual unity of all humankind. There are an estimated five to six million Bahá'ís around the world in more than 200 countries and territories....

 (est. 300,000-350,000) and Christians (est. 300,000, with one group composing over 200,000) being the largest. Smaller groups include Jews
Persian Jews
Persian Jews , are Jews historically associated with Iran, traditionally known as Persia in Western sources.Judaism is one of the oldest religions practiced in Iran. The Book of Esther contains some references to the experiences of Jews in Persia...

, Zoroastrians
Zoroastrians in Iran
Zoroastrians in Iran are the oldest religious community of the nation, with a long history continuing up to the present day.Prior to the Islamization of Iran, Zoroastrianism was the primary religion of the Iranian peoples...

, Mandaeans, Yarsan (Ahl-e Haqq), as well as local religions practiced by tribal minorities
Ethnic minorities in Iran
This article focuses on ethnic minorities in Iran and their related political issues.-Overview:Iran is an ethnically diverse country, and interethnic relations are generally amicable. Persians form the majority of the population...

.

Zoroastrians
Zoroastrians in Iran
Zoroastrians in Iran are the oldest religious community of the nation, with a long history continuing up to the present day.Prior to the Islamization of Iran, Zoroastrianism was the primary religion of the Iranian peoples...

, Jews
Persian Jews
Persian Jews , are Jews historically associated with Iran, traditionally known as Persia in Western sources.Judaism is one of the oldest religions practiced in Iran. The Book of Esther contains some references to the experiences of Jews in Persia...

, and Christians are officially recognized and protected by the government. For example, shortly after his return from exile in 1979, at a time of great unrest, the revolution's leader, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini
Ruhollah Khomeini
Grand Ayatollah Sayyed Ruhollah Musavi Khomeini was an Iranian religious leader and politician, and leader of the 1979 Iranian Revolution which saw the overthrow of Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, the Shah of Iran...

 issued a fatwa ordering that Jews and other minorities be treated well.

Contemporary status


The constitution of the Islamic Republic
Islamic republic
Islamic republic is the name given to several states in the Muslim world including the Islamic Republics of Pakistan, Iran, Afghanistan, and Mauritania. Pakistan adopted the title under the constitution of 1956. Mauritania adopted it on 28 November 1958. Iran adopted it after the 1979 Iranian...

 of Iran recognizes Islam, Christianity, Judaism, and Zoroastrianism as official religions. Article 13 of the Iranian Constitution, recognizes them as People of the Book
People of the Book
People of the Book is a term used to designate non-Muslim adherents to faiths which have a revealed scripture called, in Arabic, Al-Kitab . The three types of adherents to faiths that the Qur'an mentions as people of the book are the Jews, Sabians and Christians.In Islam, the Muslim scripture, the...

and they are granted the right to exercise religious freedom in Iran. Five of the 270 seats in parliament are reserved for these three religions.

On the other hand, senior government posts are reserved for Muslims. All minority religious groups, including Sunni Muslims, are barred from being elected president. Jewish, Christian and Zoroastrian schools must be run by Muslim principals.
Compensation for death paid to the family of a non-Muslim was (by law) less than if the victim was a Muslim. Conversion to Islam is encouraged by entitling converts to inherit the entire share of their parents' (or even uncle's) estate if their siblings (or cousins) remain non-Muslim. Iran's non-Muslim population has fallen dramatically. For example, the Jewish population in Iran dropped from 80,000 to 30,000 in the first two decades of the revolution.

Reserved Parliament seats


After the Persian Constitutional Revolution, the Constitution of 1906 provided for reserved Parliamentary seats granted to the recognized religious minorities, a provision maintained after the 1979 Iranian Revolution
Iranian Revolution
The Iranian Revolution refers to events involving the overthrow of Iran's monarchy under Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi and its replacement with an Islamic republic under Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the leader of the...

. There are 2 seats for Armenians and one for each other minority: Assyrians
Assyrians in Iran
Assyrians in Iran was a thriving community, but was diminished from around 200,000 prior to the Islamic Revolution in Iran to a mere 50,000....

, Jews
Persian Jews
Persian Jews , are Jews historically associated with Iran, traditionally known as Persia in Western sources.Judaism is one of the oldest religions practiced in Iran. The Book of Esther contains some references to the experiences of Jews in Persia...

 and Zoroastrians
Zoroastrianism
Zoroastrianism is a religion and philosophy based on the teachings of prophet Zoroaster and was formerly among the world's largest religions. It was probably founded some time before the 6th century BCE in Greater Iran.In Zoroastrianism, the Creator Ahura Mazda is all good, and no evil...

. Given that the Bahá'í Faith is not recognized, they do not have seats in the parliament. Sunni Muslims have no specific reserved seats, but can take part in the ordinary election process at all constitutional levels. Sunni members of parliament are mostly from areas with strong Sunni ethnic minorities like Kurdistan and Baluchistan.

List of minority MPs in the last three Majlis:
Armenians Assyrian Jewish Zoroastrian
1992 unknown unknown unknown Parviz Ravani
1996 Vartan Vartanian, Artavaz Baghumian Shamshoon Maqsudpour Sir Manuchehr Eliasi
Manuchehr Eliasi
Manuchehr Eliasi or Manouchehr Eliasi is a Jewish former member of the Iranian Parliamentwho was succeeded by Maurice Motamed in 2000.-See also:*Reserved Majlis seats...

Parviz Ravani
2000 Levon Davidian
Levon Davidian
Levon Davidian , an Iranian-Armenian politician, was a former Iranian parliament member. He died when Caspian Airlines Flight 7908 crashed killing all passengers on board. He was a psychiatrist and professor of university ....

, Georgik Abrahamian
Younatan Betkolia Googtapeh Maurice Motamed
Maurice Motamed
Maurice Motamed or Morris Motamed was elected in 2000 and again in 2004 as a Jewish member of the Iranian Parliament , representing the Jewish community which has by Iran's constitution retained a reserved seat since the Persian Constitution of 1906.- Career :In Parliament, he has been active in...

Khosrow Dabestani
2004
Iranian Majlis election, 2004
The Iranian parliamentary elections of February 20 and May 7, 2004 were a victory for Islamic conservatives over the reformist parties. Assisting the conservative victory was the disqualification of about 2500 reformist candidates earlier in January.-Background:...

Gevork Vartan, Robert Beglarian Younatan Betkolia Googtapeh Maurice Motamed
Maurice Motamed
Maurice Motamed or Morris Motamed was elected in 2000 and again in 2004 as a Jewish member of the Iranian Parliament , representing the Jewish community which has by Iran's constitution retained a reserved seat since the Persian Constitution of 1906.- Career :In Parliament, he has been active in...

Kourosh Niknam
2008
Iranian legislative election, 2008
Legislative elections for Majlis of Iran were held on 14 March 2008, with a second round held on 25 April 2008. Conservatives loyal to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad were considered the victors of the election, at least in part because "all the most prominent" reformist candidates were disqualified...

Gevork Vartan, Robert Beglarian Younatan Betkolia Googtapeh Siamak Morsadegh Esfandiyar Ekhtiyari

Bahá'í Faith



The Bahá'í Faith
Bahá'í Faith
The Bahá'í Faith is a monotheistic religion founded by Bahá'u'lláh in 19th-century Persia, emphasizing the spiritual unity of all humankind. There are an estimated five to six million Bahá'ís around the world in more than 200 countries and territories....

, Iran's largest non-Muslim religious minority, is not officially recognized, and has been persecuted during its existence in Iran. Since the 1979 revolution the persecution of Bahá'ís
Persecution of Bahá'ís
The persecution of Bahá'ís is the religious persecution of Bahá'ís in various countries, especially in Iran, where the Bahá'í Faith originated and the location of one of the largest Bahá'í populations in the world...

 has increased with oppression, the denial of civil rights and liberties, and the denial of access to higher education and employment. There were an estimated 350,000 Bahá'ís in Iran in 1986. The Bahá'ís are scattered in small communities throughout Iran with a heavy concentration in Tehran
Tehran
Tehran , sometimes spelled Teheran, is the capital of Iran and Tehran Province. With an estimated population of 8,429,807; it is also Iran's largest urban area and city, one of the largest cities in Western Asia, and is the world's 19th largest city.In the 20th century, Tehran was subject to...

. Most Bahá'ís are urban, but there are some Bahá'í villages, especially in Fars and Mazandaran. The majority of Bahá'ís are Persians
Persian people
The Persian people are part of the Iranian peoples who speak the modern Persian language and closely akin Iranian dialects and languages. The origin of the ethnic Iranian/Persian peoples are traced to the Ancient Iranian peoples, who were part of the ancient Indo-Iranians and themselves part of...

, but there is a significant minority of Azarbaijani Bahá'ís, and there are even a few among the Kurds
Kurdish people
The Kurdish people, or Kurds , are an Iranian people native to the Middle East, mostly inhabiting a region known as Kurdistan, which includes adjacent parts of Iran, Iraq, Syria, and Turkey...

. Bahá'ís
Bahá'í Faith
The Bahá'í Faith is a monotheistic religion founded by Bahá'u'lláh in 19th-century Persia, emphasizing the spiritual unity of all humankind. There are an estimated five to six million Bahá'ís around the world in more than 200 countries and territories....

 are neither recognized nor protected by the Iranian constitution.

The Bahá'í Faith originated in Iran during the 1840s as a messianic movement out of Shia Islam. Opposition arose quickly, and Amir Kabir
Amir Kabir
Amir Kabir , also known as Mirza Taghi Khan Amir-Nezam , also known by the titles of Atabak and Amir-e Nezam; chief minister to Naser al-Din Shah Qajar for the first three years of his reign and one of the most capable and innovative figures to appear in the whole Qajar period...

, as prime-minister, regarded the ordered the Bábis as a threat and ordered the execution of the founder of the movement, the Báb
Báb
Siyyid `Alí Muḥammad Shírází was the founder of Bábism, and one of three central figures of the Bahá'í Faith. He was a merchant from Shíráz, Persia, who at the age of twenty-four claimed to be the promised Qá'im . After his declaration he took the title of Báb meaning "Gate"...

 and killing of many Babis. As another example two prominent Bahá'ís were arrested and executed circa 1880 because the Imám-Jum'ih
Khatib
Khatib or khateeb is an Arabic term used to describe a person who delivers the sermon , during the Friday prayer and Eid prayers....

 at the time owed them a large sum of money for business relations and instead of paying them he confiscated their property and brought public ridicule upon them as being Bahá'ís. Their execution was committed despite observers testifying to their innocence.

The Shia clergy, as well as many Iranians, have continued to regard Bahá'ís as heretics, and consequently Bahá'ís have encountered much prejudice and have sometimes been the objects of persecution. The situation of the Bahá'ís improved under the Pahlavi shahs when the government actively sought to secularize public life however there were still organizations actively persecuting the Bahá'ís in addition to there being curses children would learn decrying the Báb and Bahá'ís. The Hojjatieh
Hojjatieh
Hojjatieh — also called Hojjatieh Society — is a semi-clandestine traditionalist Shia organization founded in Iran in 1953 by Shaikh Mahmoud Halabi with permission of Ayatollah Seyyed Hossein Borujerdi...

 was a semi-clandestine traditionalist Shia organization founded by Muslim clerics on the premise that the most immediate threat to Islam was the Bahá'í Faith. In March to June 1955, the Ramadan
Ramadan
Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, which lasts 29 or 30 days. It is the Islamic month of fasting, in which participating Muslims refrain from eating, drinking, smoking and sex during daylight hours and is intended to teach Muslims about patience, spirituality, humility and...

 period that year, a widespread systematic program was under taken cooperatively by the government and the clergy. During the period they destroyed the national Bahá'í Center in Tehran, confiscated properties and made it illegal for a time to be Bahá'í (punishable by 2 to 10 year prison term.) Founder of SAVAK
SAVAK
SAVAK was the secret police, domestic security and intelligence service established by Iran's Mohammad Reza Shah on the recommendation of the British Government and with the help of the United States' Central Intelligence Agency SAVAK (Persian: ساواک, short for سازمان اطلاعات و امنیت کشور...

, Teymur Bakhtiar
Teymur Bakhtiar
Teymur Bakhtiar was an Iranian general and the founder and head of SAVAK from 1958 to 1961, when he was dismissed by the Shah. In 1970, SAVAK agents assassinated him in Iraq.-Early life:...

, took a pick-ax to a Bahá'í building himself at the time.

The social situation of the Bahá'ís was drastically altered after the 1979 revolution. The Hojjatieh group flourished during the 1979 revolution
Iranian Revolution
The Iranian Revolution refers to events involving the overthrow of Iran's monarchy under Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi and its replacement with an Islamic republic under Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the leader of the...

 but was forced dissolve after Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini speech on 12 August 1983. However there are signs of it reforming circa 2002-4. Beyond the Hojjatieh group, the Islamic Republic does not recognize the Bahá'ís as a religious minority, and they have been officially persecuted, "some 200 of whom have been executed and the rest forced to convert or subjected to the most horrendous disabilities." Starting in late 1979 the new government systematically targeted the leadership of the Bahá'í community by focusing on the Bahá'í National Spiritual Assembly (NSA) and Local Spiritual Assemblies (LSAs); prominent members of NSAs and LSAs were either killed or disappeared. Like most conservative Muslims, Khomeini believed them to be apostates, for example issuing a fatwa stating:
It is not acceptable that a tributary [non-Muslim who pays tribute] changes his religion to another religion not recognized by the followers of the previous religion. For example, from the Jews who become Bahai's nothing is accepted except Islam or execution.


and emphasized that the Bahá'ís would not receive any religious rights, since he believed that the Bahá'ís were a political rather than religious movement.
the Baha'is are not a sect but a party, which was previously supported by Britain and now the United States. The Baha'is are also spies just like the Tudeh [Communist Party].


Allegations of Bahá'í involvement with other powers
Allegations of Bahá'í involvement with other powers
Opponents of the Bahá'í Faith, especially certain Iranians, have accused the faith's followers of dual loyalty and of being involved with foreign or hostile powers. These accusations are used to justify persecution of this religious minority....

 have long been repeated in many venues including denunciations from the president.

During the drafting of the new constitution the wording intentionally excluded the Bahá'ís from protection as a religious minority. More recently, documentation has been provided that shows governmental intent to destroy the Bahá'í community. The government has intensified propaganda and hate speech against Bahá'ís through the Iranian media; Bahá'ís are often attacked and dehumanized on political, religious, and social grounds to separate Bahá'ís from the rest of society. According to Eliz Sanasarian
Eliz Sanasarian
Eliz Sanasarian is a professor of political science at the University of Southern California. She is best known for her expertise and books on ethnic politics and feminism, particularly regarding the Middle East and Iran.-Bibliography:...

 "Of all non-Muslim religious minorities the persecution of the Bahais has been the most widespread, systematic, and uninterrupted.… In contrast to other non-Muslim minorities, the Bahais have been spread throughout the country in villages, small towns, and various cities, fueling the paranoia of the prejudiced."

Since the 1979 revolution, the authorities have destroyed most or all of the Baha'i holy places in Iran, including the House of the Bab in Shiraz, a house in Tehran where Bahá'u'lláh was brought up, and other sites connected to aspects of Babi and Baha'i history. These demolitions have sometimes been followed by the construction of mosques in a deliberate act of triumphalism.

Christianity




Christianity
Christianity
Christianity is a monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus as presented in canonical gospels and other New Testament writings...

 in Iran
Iran
Iran , officially the Islamic Republic of Iran , is a country in Southern and Western Asia. The name "Iran" has been in use natively since the Sassanian era and came into use internationally in 1935, before which the country was known to the Western world as Persia...

 has had a long history, dating back to the very early years of the faith. And the region is thought to have affected Christianity as well with perhaps the introduction of the concept of The Devil. There are some very old churches in Iran - perhaps the oldest and largest is Tatavous Vank ( St. Tatavous Cathedral), which is also called the Ghara Kelissa (the black monastery) south of Makou.
By far the largest group of Christians in Iran are Armenians under the Armenian Apostolic Church
Armenian Apostolic Church
The Armenian Apostolic Church is the world's oldest National Church, is part of Oriental Orthodoxy, and is one of the most ancient Christian communities. Armenia was the first country to adopt Christianity as its official religion in 301 AD, in establishing this church...

 composing over 200,000 of the estimated almost 300,000 Christians. There are hundreds of Christian churches in Iran. The Armenian church is organized under Archbishop Manukian since at least the 1980s. Unofficial estimates for the Assyrian Christian population range between 10,000 and 20,000. Christian groups outside the country estimate the size of the Protestant Christian community to be fewer than 10,000, although many may practice in secret. There are approximately 20,000 Christians Iranian citizens abroad
Iranian citizens abroad
The term Iranians abroad or Iranian diaspora refers to the Iranian people born in Iran but living outside of Iran with their children.As of 2010, there are an estimated four to five million Iranians living abroad, mostly in North America, Europe, Persian Gulf States, Turkey, Australia and the...

 who left after the 1979 revolution.
Christianity has always been a minority religion, overshadowed by the majority state religion
State religion
A state religion is a religious body or creed officially endorsed by the state...

s—Zoroastrianism
Zoroastrianism
Zoroastrianism is a religion and philosophy based on the teachings of prophet Zoroaster and was formerly among the world's largest religions. It was probably founded some time before the 6th century BCE in Greater Iran.In Zoroastrianism, the Creator Ahura Mazda is all good, and no evil...

 in the past, and Shia Islam
Islam
Islam . The most common are and .   : Arabic pronunciation varies regionally. The first vowel ranges from ~~. The second vowel ranges from ~~~...

 today. Christians of Iran have played a significant part in the history of Christian mission
Mission (Christian)
Christian missionary activities often involve sending individuals and groups , to foreign countries and to places in their own homeland. This has frequently involved not only evangelization , but also humanitarian work, especially among the poor and disadvantaged...

. While always a minority the Armenian Christians have had an autonomy of educational institutions such as the use of their language in schools. The Government regards the Mandaeans
Mandaeism
Mandaeism or Mandaeanism is a Gnostic religion with a strongly dualistic worldview. Its adherents, the Mandaeans, revere Adam, Abel, Seth, Enosh, Noah, Shem, Aram and especially John the Baptist...

 as Christians, and they are included among the three recognized religious minorities; however, Mandaeans do not consider themselves Christians.

The small evangelical Protestants Christian minority in Iran have been subject to Islamic "government suspicion and hostility" according to Human Rights Watch at least in part because of their "readiness to accept and even seek out Muslim converts" as well as their Western origins. In the 1990s, two Muslim converts to Christianity who had become ministers were sentenced to death for apostasy and other charges. An Assyrian Pentecostal Church
Assyrian Pentecostal Church
The Assyrian Pentecostal Church , in , began in villages across the Urmia region in Iran, and spread to the Assyrians living in the adjacent cities. The current church's doctrine and tradition is a continuation of the spiritual revival movements that took place in Western Iran during the 1930s...

 in Tehran was closed and there were more than 50 documented arrests of Iranian Muslim converts to evangelical Christianity in 2008. There still have not been any reported executions of apostates, but see the current Youcef Nadarkhani
Youcef Nadarkhani
Youcef Nadarkhani is an Iranian Christian pastor who has been sentenced to die in Tehran...

 case.

Zoroastrianism


See Persecution of Zoroastrians
Persecution of Zoroastrians
Persecution of Zoroastrians was the religious persecution inflicted upon the followers of the Zoroastrian faith. The persecution of Zoroastrians occurred throughout its history. The discrimination and harassment began in the form of sparse violence and forced conversions. Both Arabs and Christians...




Zoroastrians
Zoroastrianism
Zoroastrianism is a religion and philosophy based on the teachings of prophet Zoroaster and was formerly among the world's largest religions. It was probably founded some time before the 6th century BCE in Greater Iran.In Zoroastrianism, the Creator Ahura Mazda is all good, and no evil...

 in Iran
Iran
Iran , officially the Islamic Republic of Iran , is a country in Southern and Western Asia. The name "Iran" has been in use natively since the Sassanian era and came into use internationally in 1935, before which the country was known to the Western world as Persia...

 have had a long history reaching back thousands of years, and is the oldest religious community of Iran to survive to the present-day. Prior to the Muslim Arab invasion
Islamic conquest of Persia
The Muslim conquest of Persia led to the end of the Sassanid Empire in 644, the fall of Sassanid dynasty in 651 and the eventual decline of the Zoroastrian religion in Persia...

 of Persia (Iran), Zoroastrianism had been the primary religion of Iranian people. Zoroastrians mainly are ethnic Persians and are concentrated in the cities of Tehran, Kerman, and Yazd. The Islamic Republic government estimates the number of Zoroastrian is 20,000, Zoroastrian groups in Iran say their number is approximately 60,000.

Since the fall of the Sassanid Zoroastrian empire by the Arab conquest of Persia, in different periods of post-Islamic history of Iran, Zoroastrians have periodically faced extreme religious oppression including forced conversions, massacres, harassment, and other forms of discrimination.

This oppression has led to a massive diaspora community across the world, in particular the Parsis of India
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

, who number significantly higher than the Zoroastrians in Iran.

Judaism



Judaism
Judaism
Judaism ) is the "religion, philosophy, and way of life" of the Jewish people...

 is one of the oldest religions practiced in Iran and dates back to the late biblical times. The biblical books of Isaiah
Book of Isaiah
The Book of Isaiah is the first of the Latter Prophets in the Hebrew Bible, preceding the books of Ezekiel, Jeremiah and the Book of the Twelve...

, Daniel
Book of Daniel
The Book of Daniel is a book in the Hebrew Bible. The book tells of how Daniel, and his Judean companions, were inducted into Babylon during Jewish exile, and how their positions elevated in the court of Nebuchadnezzar. The court tales span events that occur during the reigns of Nebuchadnezzar,...

, Ezra
Book of Ezra
The Book of Ezra is a book of the Hebrew Bible. Originally combined with the Book of Nehemiah in a single book of Ezra-Nehemiah, the two became separated in the early centuries of the Christian era...

, Nehemiah
Book of Nehemiah
The Book of Nehemiah is a book of the Hebrew Bible. Told largely in the form of a first-person memoir, it concerns the rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem by Nehemiah, a Jew who is a high official at the Persian court, and the dedication of the city and its people to God's laws...

, Chronicles, and Esther
Book of Esther
The Book of Esther is a book in the Ketuvim , the third section of the Jewish Tanakh and is part of the Christian Old Testament. The Book of Esther or the Megillah is the basis for the Jewish celebration of Purim...

 contain references to the life and experiences of Jews in Persia.

Iran supports by far the largest Jewish population of any Muslim country. The current Jewish population of Iran is estimated by most sources to be 25,000, though estimates vary, as low as 11,000 and as high as 40,000. Emigration has lowered the population of 75,000 to 80,000 Jews living in Iran prior to the 1979 Islamic revolution. According to The world Jewish Library, most Jews in Iran live in Tehran
Tehran
Tehran , sometimes spelled Teheran, is the capital of Iran and Tehran Province. With an estimated population of 8,429,807; it is also Iran's largest urban area and city, one of the largest cities in Western Asia, and is the world's 19th largest city.In the 20th century, Tehran was subject to...

, Isfahan
Isfahan (city)
Isfahan , historically also rendered in English as Ispahan, Sepahan or Hispahan, is the capital of Isfahan Province in Iran, located about 340 km south of Tehran. It has a population of 1,583,609, Iran's third largest city after Tehran and Mashhad...

 (3,000), and Shiraz
Shiraz
Shiraz may refer to:* Shiraz, Iran, a city in Iran* Shiraz County, an administrative subdivision of Iran* Vosketap, Armenia, formerly called ShirazPeople:* Hovhannes Shiraz, Armenian poet* Ara Shiraz, Armenian sculptor...

. BBC
BBC
The British Broadcasting Corporation is a British public service broadcaster. Its headquarters is at Broadcasting House in the City of Westminster, London. It is the largest broadcaster in the world, with about 23,000 staff...

 reported Yazd
Yazd
Yazd is the capital of Yazd Province in Iran, and a centre of Zoroastrian culture. The city is located some 175 miles southeast of Isfahan. At the 2006 census, the population was 423,006, in 114,716 families....

 is home to ten Jewish families, six of them related by marriage, however some estimate the number is much higher. Historically, Jews maintained a presence in many more Iranian cities.

Today, the largest groups of Jews from Iran are found in the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 which is home to approximately 100,000 Iranian Jews, who have settled especially in the Los Angeles
Los Ángeles
Los Ángeles is the capital of the province of Biobío, in the commune of the same name, in Region VIII , in the center-south of Chile. It is located between the Laja and Biobío rivers. The population is 123,445 inhabitants...

 area and New York
New York
New York is a state in the Northeastern region of the United States. It is the nation's third most populous state. New York is bordered by New Jersey and Pennsylvania to the south, and by Connecticut, Massachusetts and Vermont to the east...

 area. Israel
Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

 is home to 75,000 Iranian Jews, including second-generation Israelis

Hinduism



Hinduism in Iran has a history stretching back to the Middle Ages. Out of Iran
Iran
Iran , officially the Islamic Republic of Iran , is a country in Southern and Western Asia. The name "Iran" has been in use natively since the Sassanian era and came into use internationally in 1935, before which the country was known to the Western world as Persia...

's population of 68,017,860, about 68,000 are thought to be Hindus. Prior to the Iranian Revolution of 1979, many Hindu-based missions such as the International Society for Krishna Consciousness
International Society for Krishna Consciousness
The International Society for Krishna Consciousness , known colloquially as the Hare Krishna movement, is a Gaudiya Vaishnava religious organization. It was founded in 1966 in New York City by A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada...

 and Transcendental meditation
Transcendental Meditation
Transcendental Meditation refers to the Transcendental Meditation technique, a specific form of mantra meditation, and to the Transcendental Meditation movement, a spiritual movement...

, had locations in Iran. A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada traveled to Tehran
Tehran
Tehran , sometimes spelled Teheran, is the capital of Iran and Tehran Province. With an estimated population of 8,429,807; it is also Iran's largest urban area and city, one of the largest cities in Western Asia, and is the world's 19th largest city.In the 20th century, Tehran was subject to...

 in March 1975 and August 1976. After 1979, these locations have been abandoned.

Religious freedom



Iran
Iran
Iran , officially the Islamic Republic of Iran , is a country in Southern and Western Asia. The name "Iran" has been in use natively since the Sassanian era and came into use internationally in 1935, before which the country was known to the Western world as Persia...

 is an Islamic republic
Islamic republic
Islamic republic is the name given to several states in the Muslim world including the Islamic Republics of Pakistan, Iran, Afghanistan, and Mauritania. Pakistan adopted the title under the constitution of 1956. Mauritania adopted it on 28 November 1958. Iran adopted it after the 1979 Iranian...

 and its constitution
Constitution of Islamic Republic of Iran
The Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran was adopted by referendum on October 24, 1979, and went into force on December 3 of that year, replacing the Constitution of 1906. It was amended on July 28, 1989. The constitution has been called a "hybrid" of "authoritarian, theocratic and...

 mandates that the official religion of Iran is Islam
Islam
Islam . The most common are and .   : Arabic pronunciation varies regionally. The first vowel ranges from ~~. The second vowel ranges from ~~~...

 (see: Islam in Iran
Islam in Iran
The Islamic conquest of Persia led to the end of the Sassanid Empire and the eventual decline of the Zoroastrian religion in Persia. However, the achievements of the previous Persian civilizations were not lost, but were to a great extent absorbed by the new Islamic polity...

) and the Twelver Ja'fari school
Ja'fari jurisprudence
Jaʿfarī school of thought, Ja`farite School, Jaʿfarī jurisprudence or Jaʿfarī Fiqh is the school of jurisprudence of most Shi'a Muslims, derived from the name of Jaʿfar as-Ṣādiq, the 6th Shi'a Imam...

. The constitution also mandates that other Islamic schools be accorded full respect, and that their followers are free to act in accordance with their own jurisprudence in performing their religious rites and recognizes Zoroastrian, Jewish, and Christian
Christian
A Christian is a person who adheres to Christianity, an Abrahamic, monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth as recorded in the Canonical gospels and the letters of the New Testament...

 Iranians
Demographics of Iran
Iran's population increased dramatically during the later half of the 20th century, reaching about 75 million by 2011. In recent years, however, Iran's birth rate has dropped significantly. Studies project that Iran's rate of population growth will continue to slow until it stabilizes above 100...

 as religious minorities.

Complaints about religious freedom in Iran revolve around the alleged persecution of the Bahá'í Faith
Bahá'í Faith
The Bahá'í Faith is a monotheistic religion founded by Bahá'u'lláh in 19th-century Persia, emphasizing the spiritual unity of all humankind. There are an estimated five to six million Bahá'ís around the world in more than 200 countries and territories....

 (which is headquartered and from Israel) unequal rights of non-Muslim religions, and the forbidding of conversion
Apostasy in Islam
Apostasy in Islam is commonly defined in Islam as the rejection in word or deed of one's former religion by a person who was previously a follower of Islam...

 from Islam to other religions. The Bahá'í Faith
Bahá'í Faith
The Bahá'í Faith is a monotheistic religion founded by Bahá'u'lláh in 19th-century Persia, emphasizing the spiritual unity of all humankind. There are an estimated five to six million Bahá'ís around the world in more than 200 countries and territories....

 is not recognized and is claimed by some to be persecuted. There have been reports of imprisonment, harassment, intimidation, discrimination, and murder based on religious beliefs.

Hudud
Hudud
Hudud is the word often used in Islamic literature for the bounds of acceptable behaviour and the punishments for serious crimes...

statutes grant different punishments to Muslims and non-Muslims for the same crime. In the case of adultery, for example, a Muslim man who is convicted of committing adultery with a Muslim woman receives 100 lashes; the sentence for a non-Muslim man convicted of adultery with a Muslim woman is death. In 2004, inequality of "blood money" (diyeh) was eliminated, and the amount paid by a perpetrator for the death or wounding a Christian, Jew, or Zoroastrian man, was made the same as that for a Muslim. However, the International Religious Freedom Report reports that Baha'is were not included in the provision and their blood is considered Mobah, (i.e. it can be spilled with impunity).

Freedom to convert from Islam to another religion
Apostasy in Islam
Apostasy in Islam is commonly defined in Islam as the rejection in word or deed of one's former religion by a person who was previously a follower of Islam...

 (apostasy), is prohibited and may be punishable by death. Article 23 of the constitution states, "the investigation of individuals' beliefs is forbidden, and no one may be molested or taken to task simply for holding a certain belief." But another article, 167, gives judges the discretion "to deliver his judgment on the basis of authoritative Islamic sources and authentic fatwa (rulings issued by qualified clerical jurists)." The founder of the Islamic Republic, Islamic cleric Ruhollah Khomeini, who was a grand Ayatollah
Ayatollah
Ayatollah is a high ranking title given to Usuli Twelver Shī‘ah clerics. Those who carry the title are experts in Islamic studies such as jurisprudence, ethics, and philosophy and usually teach in Islamic seminaries. The next lower clerical rank is Hojatoleslam wal-muslemin...

, ruled "that the penalty for conversion from Islam, or apostasy, is death."

At least two Iranians - Hashem Aghajari
Hashem Aghajari
Hashem Aghajari also Seyyed Hashem Aghajari is an Iranian historian, university professor and a critic of the Islamic Republic's government who was sentenced to death in 2002 for apostasy for a speech he gave on Islam urging Iranians to "not blindly follow" Islamic clerics...

 and Hassan Yousefi Eshkevari
Yousefi Eshkevari
Hojjatoleslam Hasan Yousefi Eshkevari is an Iranian cleric, researcher, journalist, reformist and former political prisoner. He has been described as "an active supporter of the revolution" who became "an outspoken and influential critic of the current Iranian version of theocracy." In 2002 he...

 - have been arrested and charged with apostasy (though not executed), not for converting to another faith but for statements and/or activities deemed by courts of the Islamic Republic to be in violation of Islam, and that appear to outsiders to be Islamic reformist political expression. Hashem Aghajari
Hashem Aghajari
Hashem Aghajari also Seyyed Hashem Aghajari is an Iranian historian, university professor and a critic of the Islamic Republic's government who was sentenced to death in 2002 for apostasy for a speech he gave on Islam urging Iranians to "not blindly follow" Islamic clerics...

, was found guilty of apostasy for a speech urging Iranians to "not blindly follow" Islamic clerics; Hassan Youssefi Eshkevari was charged with apostasy for attending the 'Iran After the Elections' Conference
'Iran After the Elections' Conference
The "Iran After the Elections" Conference was a three-day social and cultural conference on reform in Iran organized by the Heinrich Böll Foundation and held in Berlin on April 7 and 8, 2000...

 in Berlin Germany which was disrupted by anti-regime demonstrators.

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