عنوان مقاله [English]
The continuation of ancient Iran’s political culture and thought during the era of Islamic Iran has attracted significant attention. A large number of studies have been conducted on Andarznama (Epistles) and Siyar al-mulûk (the Lives of Kings), especially Nizam al-Mulk’s Siyasatnama (Book of Politics). Tahir’s letter to his son, Abdullah, is one of the first epistles written in early centuries of the Islamic rule. The contents of this epistle compared to the epistles of Sassanid Kings in Ferdowsi’s Shahnameh is a subject that is overlooked to date. This study is conducted using the intertextuality method with the purpose of analyzing and comparing Iranians’ political culture in Ferdowsi’s Shahnameh and Tahir’s letter to Abdullah. There are many constructs in Iranians’ political culture that suggest the presence of an intertextual relation between Tahir’s letter and Sassanid Kings’ epistles in Ferdowsi’s Shahnameh; constructs such as protecting ancient houses, paying attention to race and origins, the divinity of kingship, the tradition of covenants, moderation, condemnation of mistrust and lies, consultation with the wise, the tradition of Kings’ meeting with the public, the tradition of ‘the King’s eye and ear’, and instructing one to make use of advice.
By referring to ancient references, particularly Ferdowsi’s Shahnameh and Tabari’s History, this study seeks to provide answers to the following question: Which constructs of Iranians’ political culture can be compared between Tahir’s letter and Ferdowsi’s Shahnameh?
The present study is conducted using the descriptive-analytical approach by referring to library sources.
Tahir bin Abdullah was an Iranian commander in chief under al-Ma’mun, the Abbasid Caliph, who founded the Tahirid Dynasty in Khorasan. Many sources include information on Iranism or lack of attention to the Iranian culture of the Tahirids. Certain scholars assert the lack of attention paid to the Iranian culture of Tahirid people (see Azartash, 2017, p. 104); meanwhile, some have spoken of their focus and familiarity with the Iranian culture (Zamani, 2018, p. 97; Allahyari, Foroughi Abri, & Morsalpour, 2010, p. 16). However, by referring to Ferdowsi’s Shahnameh and using the intertextuality method, this study will reveal numerous similarities between the epistles of Sassanid Kings and Tahir’s letter. A similarity that clearly suggests the Tahirids’ profound knowledge of the Iranian culture.
Scholars are aware of the common grounds between many cultural components among various nations and ethnicities; and Tahir’s letter is no exception. Since Tahir was brought up amidst the Islamic Iran’s culture, it would be natural for him to have been influenced by both cultures. Nevertheless, certain advices from Tahir are completely incompatible with the Islamic culture and are deeply rooted in ancient Iranians’ political culture. For instance, the tradition of respecting and protecting ancient houses and paying attention to race and origins entirely stem from Iranians’ political culture which is examined in the present paper. Furthermore, in this study, the following aspects are placed under comparison with the advices of Sassanid Kings based on Ferdowsi’s Shahnameh: the divinity of kingship, condemnation of mistrust and lies, moderation, whitewashing, the tradition of covenants, renouncing gossip, supporting orphaned women and children, the tradition of Kings’ meeting with the public, the tradition of ‘the King’s eye and ear’, and instructing one to make use of advice. The present evidence suggests a conscious or unconscious relation between the contents of Tahir’s letter and Sassanid Kings’ advices in Ferdowsi’s Shahnameh. Since the entire political components present in Tahir’s letter which are also a mixture of both Iran’s and Islam’s cultures cannot be addressed here, this study focuses on the Iranian dimension of said letter and comparing it with the Iranians’ political culture in Shahnameh. Accordingly, similarities were indeed found between certain components examined in this research with Islam and other religions.
The continuation of Iranians’ political culture and thought has attracted scholars and historians’ attention. The present study is a different look at such continuity. Accordingly, eighteen advices from Tahir to Abdullah were analyzed and compared with ancient Iranians’ political culture in Ferdowsi’s Shahnameh based on the intertextuality method. Results showed that as one of the first Iranian dynasties following Islam, Tahirid people were influenced by ancient Iranians’ political culture due to being born and brought up within the Iranian culture, esp. Khorasan which used to be the origin of collecting, maintaining and transferring Iranians’ political culture. Such an influence is clearly reflected in Tahir’s letter to Abdullah. Though Tahir’s letter can be regarded as a mixture of both Iranian and Islamic cultures, the letter points out components that are completely incompatible with Islamic culture. These components include: paying attention to race and origins, maintaining blood and adhering to boundaries between classes, respecting ancient houses, the divinity of kingship, the tradition of ‘the King’s eye and ear’, and the tradition of Kings’ meeting with the public.
In addition to the above aspects, certain other components are mentioned in Tahir’s letter which are mutual between the Iranian and Islamic cultures. Yet since Tahirid people were brought up in the Great Khorasan amidst the Iranian culture, it would be more likely for them to be influenced by the Iranian culture. Particularly, evidence suggest their pride in Iranian myth and regarded themselves as decedents of Rostam; they would also reward the people of Shu'ubiyya. The following are certain components that ancient Iranians took pride in: moderation, benevolence, truthfulness, condemnation of lying, refraining from malice, condoning faults, adherence to covenants, consultation with wise, renouncing gossipers, non-compliance with the ungrateful, supporting orphans and making use of advice. These components were emphasized in both Sassanid Kings’ epistles and Tahir’s letter.