Prof. Richard Foltz: Canadian Iranologist says that Iranian people have historically attached high importance to love and beauty, and gives his view on Iranian contributions to science

Prof. Richard Foltz: The Importance of Love Is at the Center of Iranian Spirituality

Prof. Richard Foltz is a specialist in the history of Iran and the history of religions. He has extensively studied Islam and Zoroastrianism and teaches at the Department of Religion at Concordia University, Montréal, Canada. He holds a Ph.D. in Middle Eastern history from Harvard University and also has a degree in Persian language from the University of Utah.

Q: Which of the great Iranian poets fascinate you the most?

A: I admire Ferdowsi for the purity of his language, Mowlana (Rumi) for his emotional intensity, Sa’di for his wit, and Hafiz for the richness of his expression.

Q: How did the emergence of Islam contribute to the progress of science, arts and culture in Iran? We already know that people such as Al-Farabi, Avicenna, Al-Khawrizmi and Rhazes rose to prominence in the post-Islamic era. What’s your viewpoint regarding the impact of Islam on the scientific and artistic achievements of the Iranians?

A: I would put it the other way around, and say that Iranians had a major impact on the development of Islamic civilization. The academy at Gundeshapour, which was the most important academic institution in the world during Sassanid times, is a prime example of this; it simply became Islamicized after the Arab conquests. Iranians were an advanced nation before the coming of Islam and they were central to the emergence of the civilization we refer to as Islamic. The great cultural achievements of the Abbasid period were largely due to Iranians, but these ideas did not emerge suddenly out of a vacuum; they were built on ideas that already existed in the past.

Q: And finally, what’s your viewpoint regarding the contribution of Iranian artists, scientists and scholars to the international community?

A: I can say that here in Canada Iranians are statistically the second most highly educated immigrant group, after the Germans. I guess in the US the situation is similar. In most fields there exist prominent Iranians, as one would expect from such a rich and long-established culture.

Read the whole interview here:

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Tabriz, one of the historical capitals of Iran and the capital of East Azerbaijan Province

Tabriz (تبریز ) is the fourth largest city and one of the historical capitals of Iran and the capital of East Azerbaijan Province. The estimated population of the city is around 3,000,000; the fifth most populous city in Iran.

With a rich history, Tabriz contains many historical monuments, but repeated devastating earthquakes and several invasions during frequent wars have substantially damaged many of them. Many monuments in the city date back to the Ilkhanid, Safavid, and Qajar periods,among them is the large Tabriz Historic Bazaar Complex which is inscribed as a World Heritage Site in 2010. The oldest signs of the civilization in the city is an excavation site and museum in the city center with a history that dates back 2500 years.



Grand Bazar

Iran to hold first Intl. Shakespeare conference October 23, 2014 in Tehran

Organized by the Faculty of Foreign Languages and Literatures, the University of Tehran, the conference will run from October 22 through October 23, 2014 in Tehran.

William Shakespeare is considered the world’s greatest playwright. He is survived by 38 plays, 154 sonnets and two long narrative poems.

His plays have been translated into every major living language and are frequently staged all around the globe.

Leading Shakespeare scholars as well as the admirers of the Bard will be attending the conference.

The event will be chaired by Dr. Maryam Beyad and Dr. Ismail Salami, the two Iranian Shakespeare scholars and professors at the University of Tehran.

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High-flyer: Iranian stunt woman Mahsa Ahmadi – with others awarded for stunts in the James Bond movie “Skyfall”

Remarkable people with Iranian roots

She fights, she drives cars at breakneck speed, she jumps out of planes and helicopters … these are just a few of the talents of Mahsa Ahmadi, the best stunt woman in Iran.

Woman in a male-dominated world: the stunt scene in Iran is a male-dominated world:

She had already done a number of dangerous scenes in 21 Iranian films when she shot to world fame in 2012 in the most recent James Bond film, “Skyfall”. […]

Gymnastics champion: Mahsa Ahmadi is now 24 years of age, but her career began when she was a young child. As a gymnast, she spent eleven years on the Iranian national team, winning numerous competitions in the process. When she had to leave the national team at the age of 18, she found a new challenge in the group “Stunt 13”. She is also a qualified sports teacher. […]

Woman in a male-dominated world: the stunt scene in Iran is a male-dominated world: “most of the time…

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How I visited every country in the world – without a single flight – cites on Iran

On the morning of January 1 2009 I took a ferry from Buenos Aires to Colonia in Uruguay. This would be the first of many border crossings as I embarked on what I knew would be the biggest adventure of my life: the Odyssey Expedition, the first surface journey to every country in the world. It would take me to more than 200 countries, 60 islands and six continents. I thought I could do it in a year. It took the best part of four.

One place that will always stick in my mind is Iran. Instead of the stern, joyless place I expected, it turned out to be the warmest and most hospitable nation in the world. I was treated like an honoured guest by everybody I met. On an overnight bus, an old Persian grandmother smiled at me and passed me her mobile phone. I took it from her, a little nonplussed, and put it to my ear. The guy on the other end told me in perfect English that I was sitting behind his grandmother and she was concerned about me. When I asked why, he told me that the bus got in very early the next day and she was worried that I wouldn’t have anything to eat. She wanted to know if she could take me home with her and cook me breakfast.

What I have learnt from this adventure is that there are good people all over the world; people who will go out of their way to help out a stranger in need. I have learnt that people wherever they live are not that different: we all just want a fair deal. My faith in humanity has been restored, although my faith in politicians is even lower than it was when I started.