Iran Religion and Languages

By | December 15, 2021


Properly Persian religion can be spoken of until the Islamization of the region (about 650 AD). The earliest direct documents for the Persian religion are contained in the Avesta (➔ # 10132;), sacred scripture of Zoroastrianism (➔ # 10132;); that is, they date back to a particular movement of monotheistic reform led by Zarathustra (7th-6th century BC) in opposition to the previous religion. The documentation of this most ancient religion is indirect: its characters and elements are deduced in part from the main themes of the Zoroastrian controversy (against polytheism, the bloody sacrifice, the squeezing and libation of the haoma, etc.), in part from the tenacious survival, in the Zoroastrian system, of a polytheistic background (so for example, the Yazata, the “venerables” of Avestan theology, are nothing but reshapes of the great divinities of polytheism), and finally from the comparison with the Vedic religion, which in many cases allows us to penetrate up to the Indo-Iranian phase of religious history, that is to the previous to the separation of the Indians from the Iranians. The Vedic religion and the pre-Zoroastrian Persian religion show, in fact, numerous affinities, both for the common divine figures, such as for example. Mithras, both for common ritual elements (the Iranian haoma corresponds to the Vedic soma), and for less apparent but more fundamental structural forms. The conflict between Zoroastrianism and ancient polytheism, in which the Magi must have played an essential part, although still not fully clarified, has not led to the complete liquidation of the latter. For Iran religion, please check

Zoroastrianism, with its deeply spiritual dualistic conception, retained a great vitality, so much so that it not only still survives among the countries of India, but in ancient times it decisively influenced various syncretistic religious formations, including Western Mithraism, the Manichaeism, various Christian heresies of the Gnostic type and, in Mesopotamia, Mandeism.


It belongs to the Indo-European Iranian group. The historical development of the Iranian linguistic group can be divided into an ancient phase, a middle phase and a modern phase. Ancient Persian and Avestian, as well as other less documented dialects, represent the phase of ancient Iranian; Avestic is the language of Avesta, that is of the sacred texts of the religion of Zarathustra, while ancient Persian is the language of Achaemenid cuneiform inscriptions, generally also written in Akkadian and Elamitic. The middle phase, documented mainly in the Sassanid age (226-642), is characterized by the pahlavī, in the main variants of the North-West or Arsacidic and of the South-West or Sassanidic or Middle Persian. The latter deals with the cultural and linguistic history of the Iran a place of considerable importance because it is the link between ancient Persian and modern Persian, as well as the official language of the Sassanid state and of the Mazdaic religion.

Among all the modern Iranian languages ​​and dialects, Neopersian (orfārsi), which reconnects to Sassanid pahlavī, has assumed considerable importance as a language of culture, already attested in the 9th century, thanks to the promotion of the literary use of the language indigenous to replace Arabic, later becoming the official language of Iran. This language, which was born about a thousand years ago, is today substantially the same as that of the great masterpieces of the golden age. In the modern phase, Persian uses the Arabic alphabet with the addition of four letters (eg, čim, že, gāf) and has incorporated a large number of Arabicisms into its lexicon.

Iran Religion