Turko-Persian Tradition & Iranian Civilizational Influence on The Islamic World



"The work of Iranians can be seen in every field of cultural endeavor, including Arabic poetry, to which poets of Iranian origin composing their poems in Arabic made a very significant contribution. In a sense, Iranian Islam is a second advent of Islam itself, a new Islam sometimes referred to as Islam-i Ajam. It was this Persian Islam, rather than the original Arab Islam, that was brought to new areas and new peoples: to the Turks, first in Central Asia and then in the Middle East in the country which came to be called Turkey, and of course to India. The Ottoman Turks brought a form of Iranian civilization to the walls of Vienna. [...] By the time of the great Mongol invasions of the thirteenth century, Iranian Islam had become not only an important component; it had become a dominant element in Islam itself, and for several centuries the main centers of Islamic power and civilization were in countries that were, if not Iranian, at least marked by Iranian civilization. [...] The center of the Islamic world was under Turkish and Persian states, both shaped by Iranian culture. [...] The major centers of Islam in the late medieval and early modern periods, the centers of both political and cultural power, such as India, Central Asia, Iran, Turkey, were all part of this Iranian civilization. Although much of it spoke various forms of Turkish, as well as other local languages, their classical and cultural language was Persian. Arabic was of course the language of scripture and law, but Persian was the language of poetry and literature"
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- Bernard Lewis


With the firm guidance of Islamic Scholars, the diverse native traditions of the Islamic lands were transformed to a uniform mold that crossed borders and customs. The original diverse traditions were consistently shaped to conform to specific norms embedded in the Islamic law (Fiqh & Shariah). One notable exception in the Turko-Persian tradition was the attitude to the women. 


The original attitude of respect to the mothers, and protection of the sisters and daughters (which Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, taught to the Pagan Arabs) overcame the tenets imposed by the Bedouin culture, and survived as an inherent component of the learned new society. The idea of slaughtering mothers and daughters (Pre-Islamic Arab Pagan Practice), incessantly proclaimed from the pulpits, remained a call for action, but not the action in the majority sphere of the Turko-Persian tradition (Ottoman, Safavid, & Mughal Empires). While the best of the Turko-Persian literature is venerated and admired, the respect for the women and the old traditions of equality generally survived to the present times, except for the areas where the Arab Bedouin tradition managed to entirely replace the original native traditions. 


Essentially it is Desert Islam vs. Urban Islam.  You had urbanized Arabs, Persians, Turks and Indians vs. mostly desert Arabs, steppe Turks, steppe Mongols, and other nomadic groups (who chose the Pre-Islamic Bedouin culture over that of the Post-Islamic urban culture taught by Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him).  The early Turkish Muslims accepted and embraced the pre-Islamic traditions and combined them with their own in a form of Sufi mysticism. Less prominent were the strict or rather "literal" interpretations of Islamic law (Sharia & Fiqh) and concept of waging violent external jihad against nonbelievers (defensive Jihad is different than the Un-Islamic offensive violent Jihad or what should be called "Qital"). 


Instead, as Islam was diffused into the Turkic world through Persian Sufi influences (both on Sunni & Shia Islam), it sought to establish a commonality of belief with the indigenous religious practices (which is what Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, taught). Despite a myriad of attempts to curb it, Sufism (Tasawwuf/Islamic Spirituality of Prophet Muhammad) has survived in the Turko-Persian zone (former Ottoman, Safavid, & Mughal regions) as an underlying institution of revival and alternative thinking throughout the centuries.  Persia or Iran has influenced Islam and the Islamic world as much as Greece & Rome have influenced Christianity and Christendom.  Christianity at one time was also brought to Rome from the deserts of Judea & Palestine (area fought over by the Roman and Persian Empires).  


This tug of war between Desert Islam and Urban Islam can be seen in today's Neo-Khawarij (Taliban, Al-Qaeda, etc.) vs. traditional Sunni, Shia, and Sufi Muslims.  The Pre-Islamic practices of the Taliban and Al-Qaeda are sold to people under the guise of Islam both by the culprits themselves and unfortunately through our western sensationalist media.  Here is an example of a Neo-Khawarij brainwashed convert to Pre-Islamic Desert culture in the guise of Islam: http://www.cnn.com/2010/CRIME/05/10/robertson.vinas.blog/index.html?hpt=C1

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