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

Shapur Baktiyar: The last Prime minister appointed by the Shah. Bakhtiyar was a member of the National Front, supporting Dr. Musaddiq. He became Prime Minister on January 3, 1979 and only lasted 37 days. He was assassinated in Paris by the agents of the Islamic republic in 1991.

Shaykh al-Islam: A title in the ranking system applied to the clergy. In different countries and different Muslim sects, it has different connotations.

Shaykhism & Shaykhy School: Shaikh Ahmad Ahsai who moved from Iraq to Iran in early 1806 first introduced the doctrine. He was Shi‘ite and was equally influenced by Muslim philosophy and mysticism. He went against two dominant schools of Shi‘ite thought, was finally ex-communicated by the clergy in Iran, and was forced into exile.
Shi’i: Supporters of Ali, Prophet Muhammad’s son-in-law and cousin. The Shi‘ites believe Ali and his family are the only rightful heirs after Prophet’s death. He was not chosen as the first caliph and only became the fourth one and was assassinated by the Kharijites.

Shi‘i Jaffari Twelfth Imamate: Is the official religion of Iran. They believe in twelve Imams, direct descendents of Prophet Muhammad through his daughter Fatima. They place great emphasis on the works of Imam Jaffar Sadiq the seventh Imam as the basis of their doctrine.

Shoghi Effendi: The eldest son of Abdul Baha and the Guardian of the Baha’i faith from 1921 to 1957. The Oxford educated Effendi, transformed the Baha’i faith into the modern world religion that has become.

Sogdiana: In modern day Uzbekistan, Sogdiana was part of the ancient Persian Empire from 6th century BC. The name of the country in mentioned in Avesta and they spoke the same language as the people of Areia (Heart) and Bactria. Their language is a branch of the eastern Middle Iranian languages.

Sufism: Followers of mystical sects in Islam. Sufi believe that there is an inner or and mystical path to the discovery of God. It has many variations and many sects. Very generally the Sufi believes that they should surrender to God body and soul.

Sultan Abdulhamid: The last Ottoman Sultan. Born in 1842, he was removed by the Ottoman Senate pressured by the group called the “Young Turks”. He reigned from 1876 to 1842. He was fluent in Persian and Arabic and had extensive relations with the Qajar kings.

Sunni: The majority sect in Islam. They accept the first four caliphs as the rightful successors of the Prophet Muhammad. They do not deny Ali, but only accept him as the fourth caliph.

Supreme Spiritual Leader: Is the highest position in the Islamic Republic. The leader has extensive powers and can veto any decisions made by all other government organs in the country. Ayatollahs Khomeini and Khamenei have been the two leaders so far.

Tajiks: Predominantly Persian speaking, they live in Central Asia, in Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Afghanistan, and some in Pakistan. Culturally, they are closely related to Iran. Most are Sunni Muslims.

Taleshi: This dialect belongs to the northwestern branch of the Iranian dialects. It is

spoken in the Talesh region of Gilan and in the some parts of Azerbaijan.

Tamerlane: The Turkmen conqueror, he established an empire extending from India to the Mediterranean Sea (1336-1405). His name, a European corruption of Timur Lang ("Timur the Lame") was given to him because his left leg was partially disabled.

Tekke: A Turkmen group living mainly in Iran. From Oghuz origin, they are closely related to another major Turkmen group, Salours. They converted to Sunni Islam during the Saljuq period and emerged as significant forces in the 16th century. Their rugs are famous.

Tobacco concession: In 1890, Nasir al-Din Shah granted the concession to Major Talbot, an English citizen. This gave him monopoly on production, domestic and foreign sales of all tobacco in Iran. It was cancelled in 1892. The Iranian government was forced to pay heavy penalty after the cancellation. 

The National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC): On April 27, 1951, Dr. Musaddiq presented the parliament with a 9 point legislation prepared by a special oil committee. The new legislation was approved on April 29 and NIOC was formed with a three member provisional board of directors. Its formation created a significant international crisis.

Tranoxiana: Regions north of the river Oxus (modern Amu Darya), present day
Uzbekistan. It included the two cities of Bukhara and Samarqand, two very important medieval cities.
Transcaspia: An area of steppes and deserts that corresponds to the modern Turkmenistan in southern Russia.

Transcaucasia: a region extending from the Greater Caucasus to the Turkish and Iranian borders. It includes the Republics of Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan amongst other places.

Tudeh Party: The Soviet backed party was formed in 1941 and replaced the banned Communist Party of Iran. The party attracted many charismatic intellectuals. It’s first chairman was a Qajar aristocrat. Most of the time it was underground and survived until the Islamic revolution.

Turkistan:  Territory presently stretching from the Caspian Sea to the river Amu-Darya (Uzbek-Afghan border) and inhabited by a number of Turkic peoples. Conquered by many groups, the country became independent in 1990. The Persian influence was the longest and remained till the Mongol expansion in 13th century.

Turkmanchi Treaty:  The treaty was signed in 1828 between Iran and Russia after the defeat of Iranians. The Iranians lost all territory east of the Caspian including Erivan and Nakhchivan to the Russians.

Turkmen: From Oghuz origin, they started arriving in Iran since 8th century. There are close to two million Turkmen in Iran. They inhabit the area along the northern border of Iran close to modern Turkmenistan. Their language in Turkic in origin and they speak a number of dialects. 

Turkmen Sahra: An area in the ancient province of Gorgan (modern Golistan) in the Caspian region in northern Iran. A Turkmen stronghold, the area is very fertile and has been home to many Turkmen tribes for centuries.

White Revolution: In 1963, through a referendum, more measures were added to the Land Reform. Included were nationalization of pasture and forests. The reforms were intended to improve Shah’s image internationally. Some such as, the electoral rights for women were opposed by the clergy, including Khomeini.

William Knox D’arcy (1849-1917):  Born in England, D’arcy made a fortune in Australia. In 1900, he was approached to finance oil exploration in Iran. In 1901 he received a concession from the Iranian government and in 1908, he struck oil.

Yalda Festival (Shab i Cheleh Festival):  Yalda means birth and the festival is a celebration of winter solstice on the longest night of the year. It is Zoroastrian in origin. Some of its rituals are similar to Halloween. It is celebrated by all Iranians.

Yazidi: A minor sect, most live in Iraq and some in Iran and Syria. Their religion is a mixture of Zoroastrianism, Manichaean, Jewish, Nestorian Christian, and Islamic ideas. There are close to 100,000 Yazidi all together.

Zahidan: A city in southeastern Iran, located near the borders with Pakistan and Afghanistan. It is the capital of "Sistan & Baluchistan" province.

Zoroaster, Zarathustra (Zardosht): The ancient Iranian prophet and the founder of Zoroastrianism. Little is known about his historical origins.


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