“Please … Call Me an
Iranian, Not a Moslem!”
"This is my simple religion. There is no need for temples; no need
for complicated philosophy. Our own brain, our own heart is our
temple; the philosophy is kindness."
By Farhad Mafie
P.O. Box 51330,
Irvine, CA 92619
Hold on to Your Hat!
Some days the Persian
Gulf is referred to as the Arabian Gulf.
Some days Rumi–the great Iranian poet and philosopher—is
referred to as a poet from Afghanistan or a poet from Turkey.
Some days Sina or Avicenna, Rāzi, Farabi, Birouni—the
great Iranian scientists—are referred to as Arab scientists.
Some days Iranian arts are referred to as Islamic arts in
famous European galleries.
Why, then, should we be
surprised to hear that European officials and the European media are
referring to Ms. Ebadi, the Iranian Nobel Peace Prize winner, not as
an “Iranian” but as a “Moslem”?
Has she lost her nationality?
Consider this: If
a German or a Canadian (or anyone else for that matter) wins the
Prize, does the media refer to the winner as a “Lutheran” or as a
“Methodist”? No! Why,
then, are Europeans bestowing Iranians with the new title
The title “Moslem”
pleases only the Islamic Republic of Iran (IRI) and others who are
promoting the notion of Western Civilization vs.
The Moslem World. Strategically,
this renaming is a significant gift to the Islamic government of Iran
because since the establishment of this antediluvian system in Iran
its leaders have done their best to replace the notion of Iranian
Identity and Nationality with Moslem
Identity and Nationality both inside and outside Iran. Ayatollah Khomeini has emphasized this goal in several of his
speeches, for example, on Dec 1980 (as published in Kayhan):
say that we want nationality, they are standing against Islam. . . .
We have no use for the nationalists. Moslems are useful for us. Islam is against nationality.
. . .”
“These issues that exist among people that we are Iranian and
what we need to do for Iran are not correct; these issues are not
correct. This issue, which is perhaps being discussed everywhere,
regarding paying attention to nation and nationality is nonsense in
Islam and is against Islam. One
of the things that the designers of Imperialism and their agents have
promoted is the idea of nation and nationality.”
Maintaining an Iranian
identity and nationality has been an on-going
struggle for Iranians since the seventh century Islam-Arab
attack on Iran. This struggle, as well as the new European strategies
for collaboration with the Islamic government of Iran, requires much
insight and understanding. And it should be taken very seriously by
all Iranians and those who are interested in long-term world peace.
Persian Empire Existed Long Before
not forget that Iran was a great empire long before the existence of
Let’s not forget that:
Great (580–529 BC), the first Achaemenian Emperor of Persia, issued
a decree that was later hailed as the Charter
of Human Rights for all nations. Inscribed on a clay cylinder,
this first declaration of human rights is now kept at the British
Museum. A replica is also on display at the United Nations in New
By the time
of his death in Battle, Cyrus had conquered the whole of Asia Minor,
Babylonia, Syria, and Palestine, and made Persia the world’s leading
nation. Four years later his son Cambyses had conquered Egypt and
ruled an empire bordered by India in the east and the Mediterranean
Sea in the West.
post-exilic books of the Hebrew Bible often reflect this perception of
the Persian conquests of the sixth century BCE as a fulfillment of
God’s purpose. This comes out most strongly in Isaiah (44:28 and
45:1), when the Persian King
Cyrus is spoken of as God’s shepherd and even as God’s
anointed (Hebrew mashiab).”
(522 BC) the king thus says: In the protection of Ahuramazda, I am of
such a character: What is right I love and what is not right I hate. .
. Of the man who speaks
against the truth, never do I trust a word.”
end of his life Darius continued to express his pride in his Ordinance of Good Regulations. His reputation as a lawgiver survived
him. To Plato, Darius was the lawgiver whose laws had preserved the
Persian Empire to the Philosopher’s own day.” 
Darius the King: This land Parsa, which Ahuramazda has granted me,
which is beautiful, possessing good horses and good men, by the favor
of Ahuramazda and of me, Darius the king, it has no fear of an enemy.
Darius the King: May Ahuramazda bring me help with all other gods, and
may Ahuramazda protect this land from a hostile horde, from the
evildoer, and from the Lie.”
inscription of 260 CE proclaiming his victory over the Romans, the
Persian ruler Shapur I described himself as follows:
‘I, Lord Shapur, worshipper of Mazda, King of Kings of Iran
and of non-Iran, of the race of the Gods, son of the worshipper of
Mazda the Lord Ardashir, King of Kings of Iran, of the race of the
Gods, grandson of Papak . . . I am the ruler of the land of Iran.’
The First Islam-Arab Attack and the Iranian Struggle to Maintain Our
The history of Iran
shows that the Iranian ethnicity, nationality, and culture have proven
over and over again that—despite lost wars at the hands of
Islam-Arabs, Mongols, etc.—Iranians have been able to survive by
assimilating the imposed new cultures into the Iranian culture and by
overwhelming them with the rich Iranian ethnicity and nationality.
and removing the influences of the seventh century Islam-Arab attack
on Iran due to its strong entanglement with Islam have been an on-going
struggle for Iranians throughout the centuries. This struggle
started very early in every aspect of Iranian cultural, political, and
For example, after the
Islam-Arab invasion of the seventh century, Iran was the first
and the only country that
recovered its distinct Iranian identity from its victorious enemy.
Iran alone retained its Persian language, which it still uses, while
the rest of the countries that were conquered by the Arabs lost their
original language, and today they speak Arabic. Although many Iranian
scholars, poets, writers, and scientists contributed greatly to
enriching the Arabic language and culture, they nevertheless
maintained their own distinct Iranian identity. For example, one of
the most important contributions of Iranian scholars to the Arabic
language was the development of the Arabic grammar by the Iranian
retained a strong awareness of their homeland as something much more
than just a physical place. The reason is very obvious. Iran
was NOT just another place that Arabs subjugated. Iran was a political
entity (the Persian Empire) centuries prior to the creation of Islam
or the formation of the Arab countries. And memories of that
independence and greatness were very much fresh in Iranian’s
cultural memory. Sigmund
refers to this memory as the collective or cultural memories of a
nation or a group of people. This collective and cultural memory has
helped Iranians to maintain their nationality and not adopt the Arab
identity despite the fact that many of them were forced to adopt
today, if someone mistakenly calls an Iranian an “Arab,” the
speaker will be informed very politely and promptly that he or she is
not an Arab but an Iranian (or a Persian).
Iranian Poets and Thinkers Leading the Struggle . . .
As part of restoring
Iran’s identity and sense of nationality after the seventh century
Islam-Arab attack, Iran’s greatest poet of all time, Ferdowsi,
tells the courageous, noble, and heroic deeds of ancient Iran and
Iranians in his masterpiece Shahnameh
(Book of Kings). In this beautiful poem Ferdowsi uses poetic
rhymes so simple that every Iranian, regardless of his or her
literacy, can memorize these stories and be proud of his or her
Iranian identity and past. Many of the Shahnameh stories have served to strengthen and to reinforce the
sense of Iranian identity and Iranian nationality within the Islamic
and Arab folds. Thus Shahnameh became Iran’s national epic and for many Iranians more
important than their holy book.
Due to Ferdowsi’s
great contribution to Iranian identity and ethnicity, the Islamic
clergies of the time did not allow his body to be buried in a Moslem
cemetery, forcing Iranians to bury their poet in his private garden.
Finally, after many centuries, the great Reza Shah Pahlavi in the
twentieth century built a beautiful, well-deserved tomb for this great
patriotic poet of Iran.
(1929-2000) believed that the reason that Ferdowsi started Shahnameh with the story of creation (similar to the structure of
many holy religious books) was to make Shahnameh
as important as a holy book in the mind of Iranians. Naderpour
believed that Ferdowsi was successful in achieving this noble and
gallant objective. Incisive
as always, Naderpour also felt that Book
of Kings should be translated as The
Best Book. His reasoning is well founded:
In Farsi the prefix shah-
means “best” (for example, shahroud
means “the best river”), and nameh
means “book” (it has other meanings too). Therefore, Shahnameh
also be translated as “The
In this endeavor,
Ferdowsi was not alone. In
different eras many others tried to recover the past glories and also
restore Iranian national identity (to replace the religious identity),
including great Iranians poets and thinkers such as Khayyām
, Hedayat, and Naderpour. Iranian Constitutional
such as Âkhundzadeh
Mirza Agha Khan Kermani,
and Mirza Jahangir Khan Shirazi
supported this endeavor as well by contributing to Iranians’
progress toward modernity and secularism in Iran’s 1906
all supported and advocated Iran’s greatness prior to the Islam-Arab
attack of the seventh century and tried their best to inform and
educate Iranians of their pre-Islamic past as a vehicle to create a
patriotic sense in people as well as to limit and stop the power of
the Islamic clergies over people’s lives, thus personalizing the
notion of religion and separating it from the governing elements of
Iran’s societies—for good.
“Islamic Republic of Iran” or “Second Islamic-Arab
Attack on Iran”?
From the first days of
the Islamic Revolution of 1979, one of the key objectives of the
Mullahs (Moslem clergymen) and the ruling Islamic government of Iran
has been the promotion of the idea of having one great Islamic Nation
(called “omat-e Islam”) among Iranians and other Shiite-based
countries in the region. Ayatollah Khomeini, in order to completely
deny Iran and its past history, continuously discussed the idea of
“omat-e Islam” and continuously emphasized that Iranians are part
of the Islamic “omat-e” and that the Iranian nation and Iranian
identity have no meaning. According
to Khomeini, Westerners, in order to divide Moslems, created the idea
of nation, nationality, and identity.
To advance his ideology, even during the eight years the
Iran-Iraq war, one of Khomeini’s ridiculous objectives was to
advance his Shiite-centered Islamic Revolution all the way to the holy
sites in the heart of Israel—thus destroying Israel!
To promote the Islamic
identity, and at the same time disparage and destroy the Iranian
identity, the Islamic government of Iran has been using every possible
means, such as:
Cutting off fingers, right hands, left legs (or vice versa).
Gouging eyes. All
are now commonly practiced in Islamic Iran.
Deemphasizing the notion of
Iranian nationality in every official government statement.
In many government documents even the name “Iran” is
Destroying thousands of
Iranian historical places and important ancient artwork (or selling
them for personal gain). At the beginning of the Islamic Revolution,
the infamous Khalkhali (Khomeini’s right hand and the famous butcher
of thousands of Iranians) tried to destroy Persepolis,
which is one of the most important historical places in the world.
He was stopped by the local
people who risked their lives in confronting this maniac.
Renaming many Iranian
streets from, for example, “Cyrus the Great” to “Dr. Shariati,”
an Islamic-Marxist promoter.
Commemorating the murder of
Anvar Sadat by naming a street in Tehran after his murderer, Khaled
Trying to replace the
Iranian New Year Noerouz
(literally “new day”) with a Moslem New Year and preventing
Iranians from celebrating all the festivities associated with New
Year. They failed big time! Iranians
have been celebrating Noerouz and its associated festivities more than
ever before as an instrument to show their Iranian independence and
even during the eight-year Iran-Iraq War, Iranians under Iraqi attack
in the southwest provinces still celebrated Noerouz to show their
resentment toward their external Arab oppressors and their internal
Islamic-government tormenters. Proof
indeed that Iranians were willing to fight the imposed ideologies and
to protect their rich Iranian ethnicity and nationality.
Incorporating many new
Arabic words and phrases into the Persian language in a deliberate
attempt to further damage and weaken the Persian language.
Destroying many Iranian
symbols and replacing them with Islamic signs.
Deemphasizing the roles of
great Iranian poets and thinkers who were free thinkers or were
against Islamic rule in Iran.
Removing the Lion and Sun
symbol (which has nothing to do with the Pahlavi Dynasty) from the
Iranian flag and, instead, adding the symbol of Hindu-Sikhs.
Changing the symbol of the
Iranian Red Cross to an Arabic version.
Killing, torturing, or
jailing anyone who is against the Islamic system.
And much more.
That is why Nader
Naderpour, in his famous article “In Hope of a Third Movement,”
describes the Islamic Revolution
1979 as the second Islamic invasion on Iran.
In Naderpour’s opinion, since the seventh century Arab
attack, Iranian thinkers tried twice—unsuccessfully—to rid
themselves of Islamic governmental rule. In his article he describes
how the Constitutionalists (in Iran’s Constitutional Revolution
1906) tried to separate religion and state, and to replace
“religious identity” with “national identity” in Iran for
One More Time . . . The
Challenge Is On!
days the Islamic government of Iran is getting direct and
unprecedented support from its European friends to reach its past-due
objectives. Direct support from European countries is a win-win model
for both Europe and the Islamic government of Iran—but of course the
unfortunate losers would be Iran and the Iranian people … but
only if Iranians allow it.
European-promoted and -supported strategy of bestowing Iranians with
the new title “Moslem” is part of a much bigger vision, part of a
planned strategy that has became apparent since Khatami started his
dog-and-pony reformist show more than six years ago.
These days, the
European cheerleaders are labeling the collaborators and associates of
the Islamic government of Iran with ridiculous slogans such as
“Modern Islam,” “Modern Islamic Women,” “Modern Islamic
World,” “Modern Islamic Civilizations,” and “Gentler Islam,”
all in an effort to extend the life of the Islamic government of Iran
for a couple of more decades with
a different image. A softer and a gentler radicalism! A true
They are doing their
best to destroy the notion of Iranian identity and to promote Islamic
fundamentalism as the cultural identity for Iranians—of course, a
softer version of Islamic fundamentalism—to further distance
Iranians’ struggle toward modernity and Western Civilization.
The objective of
European countries, G8, China, etc., is very clear:
They all know very well that a religious government in Iran is
the best instrument to distance Iran and Iranians from Western
Civilization and from individualism, social freedom, democracy, and
secularism. These countries know that only a chaotic and oppressive
system in Iran continues to bring them financial benefits such as:
Low-cost oil and gas prices
(actually below actual production cost)
Weapon sales (the result of
local conflicts and wars)
Increased business resulting
from war-damaged infrastructures
And much more
We Have a Choice: We Can Fight Back and Stop This Nonsense!
We Iranians who live
either forced or self-imposed lives in exile need to use the freedom
that we have along with every possible legal and democratic means
available to us to FIGHT BACK and not allow this anti-Iranian movement
to become Iran’s next default alternative and Iran’s political
scenario for the next few decades.
Every newspaper, every
TV and radio station, every government official that substitutes
“Moslem” for “Iranian” should be bombarded with phone calls,
faxes, emails, and letters against this “Islamic identity.”
The same way that the
collaborators and associates of the Islamic government of Iran, the
leftover Iranian leftists, and their European cheerleaders are using
the media to label us “Moslems,” we must to the same extent show
our disapproval by voicing our opinions and expressing our strongest
resentment. How else can we end this dark anti-Iranian campaign?
With Pride and Honor, We Have One Simple Message for the
“Call Me an Iranian, Not
This is the time to
resign once and for all from the “silent majority” and join all
those Iranians who care for Iran in this praiseworthy and commendable
endeavor. Just say
NO to this pro-Islamic and anti-Iranian campaign.
Let us be the last generation of Iranians who
experience either a self-imposed or a forced life in exile. Iran deserves much more! So do you! And so do all of us!
Copyright © 2003 by
Farhad Mafie. All rights reserved. Any reprint of this article must
bear this notice. For
information, contact Farhad Mafie at Mafie@att.net or at (949) 851-1714.
 This quote is also listed in Mehregan Magazine, Volume 12, Numbers 1 & 2, Spring & Summer 2003, p 16.
 Lewis, Bernard, The Multiple Identities of the Middle East. New York: Schocken Books, p. 87.
 Olmstead, A.T., History of The Persian Empire. Chicago: The University of the Chicago Press, p. 125.
 Olmstead, A.T., History of The Persian Empire. Chicago: The University of the Chicago Press, p. 130.
 Olmstead, A.T., History of The Persian Empire. Chicago: The University of the Chicago Press, p. 175.
 Lewis, Bernard, The Middle East. New York: Scribner, p. 135.
 Freud tried to demonstrate how nothing that has been formed in mental life can perish—despite the depredations of memory. He believed that everything is somehow preserved and can, in suitable circumstances, once more be brought back to light.
 Ferdowsi , Hakim Abuol Ghasm (940–1020; dates approximate), He undertook his epic Book of Kings (More than 60,000 verses long), a history of Persia that begins with the arrival of the Persians and ends with the arrival of the Arabs, in an effort to glorify Persia’s past. Variant spellings: Firdausi, FirdawsI, Ferdusi, and Firdousi.
 Âkhundzadeh , Mirza Fath-Ali (1812–1878), He edited and wrote many books, including The Story of the Deceived Stars (Dastan-e Setaregan-e Farib Khordeh), The Story of Pushkin’s Death (Dastan-e Marke Pushkin), and The Russian Poet (She‘r-e Rousi).
 Talebof Tabrizi, Abdol-Rahim (1834–1911), He is one of the first Persian writers who encouraged Iranians to write science fiction and plays and to translate books, and he stressed writing in simple language. He wrote and edited many books, including Ahmad’s Book (Ketab-e Ahmad), Physics, and A Brief History of Islam (Tarikh-e Mokhtasar-e Islam).
Mirza Agha Khan Kermani (1853–1896;
dates approximate), Born
in Kerman (in southeastern Iran), Kermani studied mathematics,
natural sciences, and English and French. He was a writer of the
Iranian enlightenment and sought to associate the Iranian people
with the "advanced, Aryan" Europeans.
 Mirza Jahangir Khan Shirazi (1875–1908), Publisher of the newspaper Soresrafil during the Constitutional movement. His name became synonymous with his famous newspaper. Because of his newspaper editorials, he was hanged by Mohammad Ali Shah Ghajar .
 Brown, Edward G. The Persian Revolution 1905–1909, Mage Publisher, 1995.
 The magnificent ruins of Persepolis are located about 400 miles south of Teheran. The exact date of the founding of Persepolis is not known. It is assumed that Darius I began work on the magnificent platform and its structures between 518 and 516 BC, visualizing Persepolis as a showplace and the seat of his vast Achaemenian Empire.
 Jamshid, one of the most important and most famous kings in Iranian mythology, started Noerouz (literally “new day”), the Iranian New Year celebration at the beginning of Spring.
An English translation of this article is available in:
Mafie, Farhad, Nader Naderpour (1929-2000): Iranian Poet, Thinker, and Patriot. New York: Mellen
Press, 2002. The
original Persian version of this article is available on: www.Naderpour.org.
In his article “In Hope of a Third Movement,” Naderpour explains why two historical Iranian “thinker movements,” as he calls them, failed, and he describes how a third movement is needed to help Iran and Iranians rid themselves, once and for all, from the tyranny of Islamic domination. Understanding Erfan , the first “movement” that Naderpour addresses in his article, is key to appreciating Naderpour’s position. Erfan is often incorrectly associated simply with Sufism . Naderpour makes clear that Erfan was a product of Iranian thinkers and that it was a philosophical ideology, not a religion or a branch of Islam. The second “movement,” according to Naderpour, was the Constitutional Revolution of 1906, when Iranian thinkers tried to separate church and state, that is, to end Islamic rule over Iran.