The Bazaar of Wares and Religion


Iran/Persia is the torn heart of Central Asia (Asia Minor). Secular China is the body, Byzantine Russia the head, the Hindu Indian Subcontinent the limbs, and the Arab Middle East is the skin (with dermatitis). The central region is living and developing while mainly off the radar of the West. Powers attempting to squeeze Iran's life force or hobble Iran's vital health do so at their own peril. A visitor to Iran in 2017 cannot help but sense this allusion to an organism, so long as the traveller bears no political pretenses or religious prejudices.

Islam's friendlier face; Visit to Isfahan of mulla from Karbala, Iraq

Iran was the first empire on earth and this was no coincidence. The extraordinary history of Persia, extending over at least three millennia, is in part driven by its geographical location at the intersection of the silk and spice routes. The plateau provided residence for the seeds that sprouted and established, first, the conflict of good versus evil, overseen by Ahura Mazda and the prophet Zoroaster within the fabric of Zoroastrianism; and, second, the liberation from Babylon of Judaism which evolved into Christianity; and then finally, the stew of Sunni and Shiite Islam culminating in the Islamic Republic of Iran in 1978, a Shia-capitalist society. Of course, this is a complex web of intrigue and human collusion with circumstances that still are beyond full understanding. The West and East meet in the deserts of Iran, a virtually treeless, rocky plateau and mountains, guarding a few large oases that are today crowded with people tending, not sheep, but vehicles and devices.

Consumerism in Iran today is rampant, but suggestive of the probability that the lot of the inhabitants of this dry land has improved substantially in a material sense. Wealth is unevenly distributed for sure, as in most urban centers around the globe. However, a questionable but dynamic energy pervades the cities’ streets as secularism, like in Western nations, is steadily usurping the power of spiritualism-religion. The clerics of Iran remain the nation’s moral authority no doubt, but religion’s ebb and flow here seems to be moderating. The Friday mosques still collect the young men at noon for the ritual prayers, but it appears to me that many of the holy places are attended by a plurality of older citizens and tourists, just like many Christian churches/cathedrals and Jewish synagogues in Europe and the US.

Not much room to maneuver as Persians shop til they drop