Arabs and Persians

between hostility and contempt

Since ancient times, the relationship between the Arabs and the Persians has been dominated by feelings of contempt and hatred, and disdain for any race other than the  Persian race. Besides, being located at the western borders of Persia had the Arabs subjected to their ever-going contempt.

The Arabs were subjected to Persian attacks for a long time, and this resulted in the absence of a spirit of understanding and convergence between them. The prevalence of violence and force was affecting the Arabs, and ancient history is full of evidence of the brutal military campaigns against them to occupy parts of the Arab region by various means, and subject them, politically, to the rule of the Persian Empire through the imposition of force, oppression and the constant threat of invasion, or through the dissemination of deviant religious beliefs such as the Mazdaism and other beliefs that the Arabs were reluctant to follow. All of these are examples of the Persian bullying.

The nature of the relationship between the Persians and their neighbors on the western borders, both Arabs and others, especially in Mesopotamia, was characterized by enmity more than friendship, and was characterized by the support of the strong at the expense of the weak. Besides, there used to be an on- going war between the two sides. To explain, Iraq -because of its shared long border with Persia- used to witness that conflict, which took different forms every  periodof time, such as the political conflict, that aimed to impose control and laying their hands over their resources by force.

Perhaps one can look at what is included in the site of Takht Jamshid (the throne of Jamshid) or “Perspolis”, the Persian city, which is the capital of the Achaemenian Empire (550-330BC) that is about 70 km northeast of the city of Shiraz, located, currently, in the province of Fares. This site used to be called Parsa by the ancient Persians. It means “the city of Persia.” Takht Jamshid carries in its contents symbolic images that show the subordination of peoples under Persian rule, and it is the best witness to that relationship between Persians and oppressed peoples.

The contempt for the Arabs continues even after all these years, despite the fact that many of them converted to Islam after the Arab conquest of Persia. Yet, their disdain is supported by two elements: the racial intolerance, and the second: the hatred accumulated throughout the ages after the Battle of al-Qadisiyyah, which has put an end to Mazdaism.

We all know that when the Prophet- peace and prayers be upon him- sent a message to the Persians, he tore it apart; thus, prophet Mohamed said may God tear up his kingdom. Following, he was the last to rule, and Iraq was conquered under their mandate during the reign of the Caliph Omar bin Al-Khattab, may God be pleased with him. The army of Muslims was led by Sa’d ibn Abi Waqqas, may God be pleased with him. In spite of the difference between the two armies in number and equipment, the Persians were defeated in al-Qadisiyyah, terribly. This defeat ended their reign, so the Persians began to attack Muslim Arabs with a plot to kill the Caliph Omar bin Al-Khattab, may God be pleased with him.

That hatred goes on, and during a meeting with the prominent Iranian thinker and professor at the University of Tehran “Sadiq Ziba”, who explained what is going on in the minds of most of the Persians, during two recent interviews with Iranian weekly newspapers, concerning the Persian Iranians’ view of the Arabs and other peoples in general and of non-Persian nationalities in his country in particular. He aimed to reflect on the superior perception of others, especially the Arabs, and stated that many Iranians hate the Arabs, and there is no difference between the religious and the non-religious in this part. This hatred goes back to many historical reasons.