Art And Culture

Iran’s Voluminous History Unveiled

Iran’s Voluminous  History UnveiledIran’s Voluminous  History Unveiled

The significant role of Iranian historians and authors in producing ‘The Comprehensive History of Iran’ in 20 volumes unveiled on Tuesday, demonstrates the ability of Iranian scholars in undertaking encyclopedic works.

A total of 168 authors and historians cooperated in compiling the work in a project that lasted 14 years and covers Iran’s history from ancient times to the end of the Qajar dynasty in three eras of pre-Islamic, Islamic and cultural and social history. Iranian authors were in majority with 143 contributors and 25 scholars came from Italy, the Netherlands, Germany, Armenia, England, Belgium and France.

The historical work is set to become a national identity document “as it will not only elevate the level of historical research but also reveal unknown and hidden aspects of history,” said Ali Jannati, minister of culture and Islamic guidance, at the unveiling ceremony at Tehran’s High Council of Science hall of the Center for the Great Islamic Encyclopedia, the publisher of the book.

Ayatollah Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, chairman of the Expediency Council, Seyyed Kazem Mousavi-Bojnordi, center director, and several well-known literary and cultural figures were present.

“Historians spend a long time on writing history - a non-profitable job - and if it was not for the love of Iran’s culture and history, such a work would not be created, Jannati said, and stressed the necessity of reading history “as the past heritage of a nation makes its future,” ISNA reported.

Rafsanjani referred to the relations between Iranians and Arabs in history, which forms a major part of the work. At the time when Islam emerged in the Arab world, Iran was hosting an important scientific center, ‘The Academy of Jondishapur’, in present-day Khuzestan Province. It was an education center during the Sasanian Empire and offered training in medicine, philosophy, theology and science.

Pointing to the interaction between Islam and Iran, Rafsanjani stressed the importance of knowledge and science in two hadiths (sayings) from Prophet Muhammad (PBUH): “Seek knowledge even in China” and “If knowledge were located in the Pleiades (a constellation of stars), the Persians would surely attain it.”

“Great scholars emerged in the Islamic world and then knowledge went to the West. While western societies progressed we went another way, not making use of our knowledge and science,” he noted.

Rafsanjani underlined that “it is time for Iran to interact with the world and refrain from blocking borders on the pretext of producing knowledge locally. “This prevents the country from developing in scientific fields.”

  Reference Work

Seyyed Sadeq Sajadi, chief editor of the Islamic era section, said the book is a complete reference work for students and researchers and also depicts an authentic image of Iran during the course of history.

Mahmoud Jafari-Dehaqi, chief editor of the pre-Islamic era section and one of the authors, said the work is a compilation of objective facts and historical documents as well as analyses and interpretation of historical facts by well-known historians.

‘The History of the Prophets and Kings’ written by Muhammad ibn Jarir al-Tabari in the 9th century, ‘History of Ancient Iran’ by contemporary historian Hassan Pirnia and ‘The Cambridge History of Iran’ published by Cambridge University Press (CUP) 50 years ago, are valuable sources on the subject. But “each book while including precious information, however, is not as detailed and in-depth as the ‘Comprehensive History of Iran’.”

“The greatest achievement for us was the valuable experience of cooperation between Iranian and foreign scholars. We hope to make use of them in preparing and compiling other similar works,” Jafari-Dehaqi said. Publishing ‘Encyclopedia of Iran’s Languages and Dialects’ and ‘Encyclopedia of Ancient Iran’ are on the agenda of the center, which has been involved in publishing Islamic and scientific encyclopedias for over three decades.