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A Z, Iran Culture & People
Last Updated: October, 2009

Kharijites:  An extremist puritan sect in early Islam, entertaining the idea of establishing an Islamic community in which no one, not even the caliph, should deviate from the dictates of the Quran. They attracted many followers in Iran.

Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP): The party was founded by Mustafa Barazani in 1946 in Iraq and is dedicated to the creation of an independent Kurdistan.

Kurds (Carduchi, Cyrtii): The Kurds are mainly in northwest in Iranian Kurdistan, mountainous region of southeast Turkey, northeast Iraq, and parts of Russia, as well as Syria. They have two main languages belonging to the northwestern Iranian group of the Indo-European family of languages with many dialects.

Kurdistan: A province in Iran, it comprises the mountainous area from Kirmanshah to Lake Urmia, and contains both Turkish and Kurdish populations.

Kurmanji:  One of the two major Kurdish dialects spoken by the Kurds.  It is spoken by Kurds in all major Kurdish territories in Iran, Iraq, Syria, Turkey and Armenia. In Iran it is regarded as northern Kurdish.

Kassites: An ethnic group with a Zagros Mountain origin; the term applies to both the ethnic group, and their language. They first appeared in records in the early first millennium BC. They are related to Quti and Lullubi and the origins of the three groups are not very clear.

Land Reform Act of Iran: The program was implemented in 1962. It was intended to modernize agricultural sector. Almost 90 % of the small scale share-croppers became land owners as a result. It reduced the influence of major land owning families. The reforms were hastily done and had major problems and were poorly planned. However the small farmers benefited because of the increase in land prices.

Lazarists: A congregation of secular priests with religious vows founded by St. Vincent de Paul in France in early seventeenth century. They carried out charity work aimed at assisting the poor. They expanded and carried out missionary work in a number of countries including Iran.

Lak (Laki): A tribal group and a Luri related dialect, southern Kurdish in origin.
They live mainly in Iran. The Zand dynasty was Laki in origin.

Lullubi: Ancient group of tribes that inhabited the plains of Zagros Mountains in western Iran. A warlike people, they appeared around 2200 BC.

Luri: An archaic dialect derived from New Persian and spoken by the Luri tribes in Iran. It is closely related to the Kurdish language. The term applies to both the language and the people.

Lurs: An Indo-Iranian group, they occupy western and southwestern Iran and some still live as nomads. Their language is closely related to Kurdish, and Kurdish sources as late as 16th century names them as a Kurdish tribe.

Luristan: A province located in western Iran, the area has been home to Luri groups for thousands of years. The inhabitants are mainly Luri and Bakhtyari and the area has been home to many groups including ancient Kassites.

Mamasani: A small city west of Shiraz in the province of Fars. The area has been inhabited by Mamasani Lurs for centuries. There are still nomadic groups in Mamasani. They earn their living from animal husbandry, seasonal farming and weaving.

Manicheans: A religion founded by the Persian sage, Mani in the latter half of the third century AD. It aspired to be the true synthesis of the major religious at the time, and consisted of Zoroastrian dualism, Babylonian folklore, Buddhist ethics, and Christian/Jewish elements.

Mannians (Mannai): A kingdom in the interior of present day Armenia compromising a large part of modern Kurdistan. They shared the region with the Medes and were finally defeated by them.

Massagetae: Belonging to the Saka nation, these ancient Scythians lived between the Caspian and Aral Seas. They are referred to as Saka tigrakhauda by the Achaemenids, Cyrus the Great was killed battling them.

Mazandarani: The dialect, northwestern Iranian in origin, is used extensively in the Caspian area and the province of Mazandaran.

Mazdakites: Followers of Mazdak the founder of a socially radical religious sect challenging both the Zoroastrian clergy/doctrines, and the existing social order of the Sasanian period, in late fifth and early sixth centuries AD in Iran.

Medes: Ancient Indo-Iranian tribes who became the first Iranian rulers of Mesopotamia, and Iran occupying parts of Azerbaijan, Kirmanshah and Kurdistan. 

Media: Ancient territory of northwestern Iran generally corresponding to the modern regions of Azerbaijan, Kurdistan and parts of Kirmanshah.

Mesopotamia: The word means between two rivers, and the area is referred to the farmland located in a narrow strip of land between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers in present day Iraq. It is known as the cradle of civilization. due to the emergence of the earliest urban civilizations in this area.

Middle Persian: Both a script and a language, it became the dominant script of the Sasanian Empire (224-651 AD), and was developed from the Aramaic script. This language derived from Old Persian, and was extensively in use from third century BC to ninth century AD, before evolving into New Persian.

Mihregan Festival: The coming of seasons was celebrated by the ancient Iranians through No Ruz and Mihregan (Mitrakana). Dedicated to the deity Mihr (Mithra), originally, it has been an ancient harvest festival. It is celebrated by the modern Iranians to commemorate knowledge and learning and it coincides with the beginning of the school year.

Mithra (Mihr): An ancient Indo-Iranian deity, Mithra became a significant cult with major temples in Iran and Roman territories.  In Zoroastrian tradition it was the deity protector of the covenant and of loyalty. In modern Persian it means love and kindness.

Modern Persian: Language spoken principally in Iran, Afghanistan and Tajikistan. Persian belongs to the Iranian branch of the Indo-European language.

Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi (1919-1980): The second and the last Pahlavi ruler. He introduced many economic reforms and improved the military strength of the country. His political actions, dissolving all political parties and forming a one party system were opposed by many. His social reforms with respect to women were also opposed by the clergy. His popularity has grown tremendously in Iran two decades after the Islamic Revolution.

 Mohammareh (Khoramshahr, Khoninshahr): This prosperous southern port was developed in the nineteenth century when steam navigation started in the area. The name was changed in 1920, when Reza Khan, defeated Shaikh Khazal. It was heavily damaged in the Iran-Iraq war. Khoramshahr means happy/prosperous city. After the current war, its name was changed to Khoninshahr, meaning the bloody city.

Mongols: Pastoral nomadic tribes from inner China originated in the region around Lake Bajkal, north of present-day Mongolia.

Muharram: The month (in Arabic) when Imam Hussein was killed by the armies of his rival Yazid, the son of the founder of the Umayyad dynasty. The period is a month of mourning for Shiites. Historically the Muslims are not supposed to wage wars in this month.

Mukri Kurds: A major Kurdish tribe. The majority live in Iran and their language is Surani in origin.

Mujahedin: A number of militant Islamic groups use the name. During the constitutional revolution it was applied to local militia defending the constitution and did not necessarily implicated an Islamic association.

Mujahedin Khalq: A militant underground Muslim group in Iran. The group was formed in the 1960s and they were labeled as Islamic Marxists by the Iranian authorities. They emerged as the most serious opposition to the Islamic government. They were violently persecuted by the Islamic authorities and thousand were executed. They went to Iraq and were supported by Saddam Hussein. They are labeled by the American administration as terrorists, but recently were granted some amnesty by the Americans, following the occupation of Iraq.

Musaddiq, Muhammad (1882-1967): The leader of the popular movement that resulted in nationalizing the oil industry in Iran. He became the Prime Minister, was opposed by the Shah, and was eventually overthrown with help from CIA and Great Britain. 

Muzaffar al-Din Shah Qajar (1853-1907): The Qajar king who was forced to ratify the provision for a constitutional monarchy in Iran. He only reigned from 1896 to 1907 and died five days after her signed the ratification.

Nasir ad-Din Shah (1831-1896): He started his reign in 1948 and almost bankrupted the treasury and the court with his expensive trips to Europe and luxurious life style. His autocratic rule resulted in his assassination in 1896.

Nestorianism: Followers of Nestorius the patriarch of Constantinople in 5th century.  Nestorians believed in the doctrine of the two natures of Christ (human and divine), faced persecution, and their bishops fled to Iran. From 488 the Persian Church adopted Nestorianism.

No Ruz (New Year): The Iranian New Year is a celebration of spring equinox and has been celebrated since Achaemenid times from around 500 BC. It has been influenced by ancient Mesopotamian festivals amongst others. Its current form is closely related to the New Year celebrations during the Sasanian period, 7th century AD. It is the most important national festival in Iran.

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