From 635-641 A.D., Iran became the target of the Muslim Arabs who were conquering the neighbouring lands. In a series of battles such as Al-Qādisiyyah, Al-Mada’in and Nahavand, Iran was defeated by the Arabs during Sassanid Empire. As the Arabs advanced across Iran, the Sassanid Empire got closer and closer to their demise as the local rulers and peasants thought of nothing but their own benefits and therefore, they made peace with Arabs. The internal conflicts, social class differences and the clash of these classes had made the idea of having new rulers much more acceptable for Iranians.
After the advent of Islam, for two centuries, Iran experienced one of the most sensitive periods of its history. Arabs entrance to the country and the encounter of their cultural, social and economic structures with the locals greatly influenced the country which can be observed in today’s history as well. It is worth mentioning that the Arabs did not insist that the Iranian shall convert to Islam and the Iranian gradually converted to it by themselves and the fire temples in central and southern areas of this land were burning for several centuries.
The fertile lands, huge wealth and Iran’s suitable geographical location appealed to the Arabs who were searching for a place to immigrate. The culture of these two nations were gradually blended and the Iranian-Islamic culture was emerged accordingly. One of the biggest impacts of Arab immigration was the development of urbanism, a tendency that began during the Sassanid time and was expanded and flourished in the Islamic time.
The first two centuries of Islam
The first two centuries of Islam in Iran is known by the slow conversion of the religion, numerous political and religious movements and the lack of an independent Iranian government. In Umayyad time, Iranian did not experience appropriate economic and cultural conditions which was because of the Arab racism who felt superior against the Iranian. These behaviours led to the establishment of Anti-Umayyad movements. In this time, many Shiite elites took refuge in Iran especially in the impassable land of Tabaristan to escape from the Umayyad rulers and that is the reason of the existence of numerous holy shrines in Iran.
At last, in 749 A.D., the Umayyad ruling over the Islamic lands came to its end by the rebellion of Abu Muslim and Abbasid Caliphs took the reign. Abbasid were not racist, therefore, the Iranian who were always good at administrative positions found their way in the court of Abbasid rulers. Having power and influence in the court were drastically led to the improvement of the conditions of Iranian. Of course, there were some movements against Abbasid Caliphate, liberation and independence which were all suppressed.
The Abbasid’s Golden Age was during the governance of Harun Al-Rashid. After Harun, Abbasid became weaker and weaker and the Caliphs had to assign some parts of Iran to their agents to provide the needed funding of their courts. One of these sections was the Great Khorasan that included Sistan as well. Finally, in 9th century, and after two centuries of silence, the first Semi-Independent government was inaugurated. Although it was a short lived government, the Tahirid Empire paved the way for the other dynasties that came with the goal of gaining freedom.
Iran After Tahirid Dynasty
After Tahirid Dynasty, 15 dynasties came to throne and each of them had a significant role in the culture, civilization and socio-political system of Iran. During some of these dynasties such as Samanid and Timurid, art and culture were greatly flourished. Focusing on architecture was observed in Ilkhanate and Safavid empires. From Safavid time, Shia (one of the two main branches of Islam) became the official religion of Iran. In Qajar Dynasty, the first instances of Iran’s encounter with modernity were formed, on the other hand Iran was influenced by Constitutional Revolution as well (which was also under the effect of European Revolutions). However, modernity and road construction reached their peak in the Pahlavi dynasty. In a religious based country, insistence on new things like modernity that is not defined for its followers, it can lead to the dissatisfactions of the people and religious figures and as a result of such dissatisfaction in Iran, in 1979 the Islamic Revolution took place and Islamic Republic of Iran was formed.