10 Most influential Iranians


10 Most influential Iranians
by ramintork

In response to BBC Persian's 6 greatest Iranians, I have made a list of 10 most influential Iranians as well as depict them in my Art work.

I was happy with the panel's chosen list and apart from one or two parallel universe moments when Mr Masoud Behnoud was trying to shove-in the despicable and insignificant Mr Khatami into the list the result was in my opinion a respectable choice of 6 great Iranians.

I made the list bigger so that I could allow 4 more and changed it to most influential rather than greatest. I will explain why I added these four.

Omar Khayyam
Khayyam laid the foundation of pragmatist philosophy in our culture. What is more, he expressed this philosophy in beautiful and comprehensible verse.

For the scientific minded, he is a significant mentor.

Abū Naṣr Muḥammad al-Fārābī os simply known as Farabi

Just as prominent as Avicenna but before him, he was another multimath but I have included him for his contribution towards Persian musical theory. His writing was in Arabic so he is mistakenly recognized as an Arab. He was born in Farab which was then part of Iran and the Greater Khorasan, and he is also claimed by Tajiks who were once Iranians.

Forough Farokhzad

Forough's poetry has laid the foundation of modern Iranian feminism. There have been many prominent Iranian women and I can't believe that for millenniums old nation a single woman was not chosen. She represents the modern Iranian woman and the Iranian woman is the most significant Iranian cultural phenomena at any time but more so in today's Iran. Our women have become the significant force against Islamic tyranny and opposition both in and outside Iran.

Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi

I have always protested that I prefer the system of republic to monarchy and by the very fact that he was the last king over a nation that was always ruled by kings he should be included.

Non-monarchists have become historically kinder to the late shah ( or at least I have!). To a great extend this is because Iranians paid a heavy price for the Islamic revolution and after 33 years many consider it as one of the worst afflictions to be bestowed on our nation and the nation could had prospered by pushing for reforms rather than bringing a regime that burns everything it touches to the ground.

Does that make Shah better? Well yes, when you review his portfolio without prejudice it does!

Shah was really a custodian rather than a king of an independent nation. The reality is that after WW2 after the allies removed his father he became a western ally that helped to keep the Russians out. He had great significance during the cold war. He was blamed for his part in the 1953 Coup against the popular prime minister Mossadegh and ironically when he rebelled against the Western leaders in OPEC and (thanks to oil wealth) he genuinely set the nation towards prosperity he no longer had the support of people.

Losing popularity from both sides and secretly being ill with cancer allowed a counter revolution to take place in an Iran that was ready to burst. Iranians forget that in his own private corner he was trying to hold a nation together, inch by inch make them more prosperous and through his last prime minister Shapour Bakhtiar let them have democracy.

About the Art work

Cyrus the great - The first Persian King. Made from his declaration of human rights on the famous Cyrus cylinder

Mohhamad Reza Shah Pahlavi - The last Persian king. Made from his speech at Cyrus the great's tomb.

Ferdowsi - Made from the end poem of Shahnameh were he states he has spread the seeds of persian speech.

Forough Farrokhzad - Made from her poem "Another Birth" were she openly professes her love and binding it to all that there is.

Avicenna - Made from a summary of his achievements in various fields of philosophy, medicine etc.

Mossadegh - Made from his speech at the Internation court of Justice defending the nationalisation of oil.

Zarathushtra - Made from Avesta words.

Hafiz - Made from his poem.

Omar Khayyam - Made from his poem.

Farabi - Made from the 12 musical main modal system.


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پرسش های یک کارگر اهل مطالعه


پرسش های یک کارگر اهل مطالعه

تیبس *ِ هفت
دروازه را چه کسانی بنیان نهادند ؟

کتاب ها می گویند پادشاهان .

یعنی پادشاهان تخته سنگ های بزرگ را روی هم گذاشتند ؟

و بابل را ، که بارها ویران شد

چه کسانی بارها و بارها آباد کردند ؟

در کدام خانه ی مطلای لیما ،

معمارش ساکن شد ؟

در غروبی که آخرین آجر دیوار چین چیده شد ،

دیوارسازان کجا رفتند ؟

رم معظّم را
طاق های نصرت انباشته .

چه کسانی آنها را برافراشته اند ؟

قیصرها بر چه کسانی نصرت یافتند ؟

بیزانس که بسیار در
ترانه ها ستایش شده ،

همه ی ساکنانش در قصر زندگی می کردند ؟

حتی در آتلانتیس افسانه ای ،

شبی که اقیانوس بلعیدش ،

مغروقان همچنان سر برده ها داد می کشیدند .

اسکندر جوان ، هند را تسخیر کرد .

کسی همراهش نبود ؟

قیصر، گال ها را در هم کوبید .

حتی یک آشپز هم همراهش نبود ؟

فیلیپ ، شاه اسپانیا ، ناوگانش که غرق شد
گریست .

فقط او بود که گریه کرد ؟

فردریک دوم ، جنگ های هفت ساله را بُرد .

کس دیگری هم با او پیروز شد ؟


هر صفحه ، یک پیروزی .

ضیافت این پیروزی ها را چه کسانی سامان داده اند ؟

هر ده سال ، یک بزرگمرد .

چه کسانی هزینه اش را پرداخته اند ؟


شهرت های بسیار

پرسش های بسیار .

Bertold Brecht, Translation by //rostamamani.persianblog.ir 


Thank you Mr Tork

by anglophile on


Obviously you have a "different" view of Mossadegh and nationalism than some people have. Ironically, and in an equally amusing sort of way, if you extend the concept of culture to political dimensions and social justice there are a few equally, if not more, suitable candidates to fill in Mossadegh's place in your list including one Mahmoud Ahmadinejad! Although Ahmadinejad was not born early enough to "resonate" with Mashruteh there is historic evidence that Mossadegh didn't either! Maybe you would like to read some of these references.




Mohamamd Mossadegh

by ramintork on

It was a nationalistic cultural influence and he was a statesmen that had the resonance of the Constitional revolution.

He also carried Global concepts of social justice just as many of us who consider themselves Iranian (but type their text in English) do. Concepts that though universal they were carried back to us via the age of enlightenment.


Very entertaining arguments gentlemen!

by anglophile on

But I am afraid that's where it stops. Beyond an entertaining value one cannot find any other features in debating where Rumi belonged to. Let me see, if we can use Bambi's basis of Iranianess (i.e. present day borders this is will be a typical outcome:

Khosro Anushirvan was an Iraq king!!

Avicenna was an Uzbek

Biruni had a dual nationality of Uzbek and Turkman

Nezami was a one time Sovietic poem who later took became a citizen of Republic of Azerbaian

Khaghani was from Caucausus (aka Republic of Azerbaijan)

and ... LOL


But I would like to ask Mr Tork to detail the cultural influences of Mohamamd Mossadegh. 





Lets define the parameters

by ramintork on

I would rephrase "area that belonged to the Persian empire" and say at the time he was born on Iranian soil.

Rumi was the product of Greater Khorasan culture which then became the kernel Iranian culture and on that basis he is Iranian.

As I mentioned we have our cultural DNA from Greater Khorasan so it was more than just a land that happen to be in the Persian empire.

But the parameter is cultural identity and heritage, not faith, race, not even language ( as many of our Kings spoke their own language of the time) nor religion although all these elements make the man. 

The parameters of the BBC selection took into account the Greater Iran i.e. included nations that at the time were sharing the same culture and Rumi was on the list of 100 which was then narrowed down.




by bambi on

Of course most borders, specially in that area, are artificially set, and do not necessarily reflect a separation in culture, language, etc.  One cannot genuinely claim Molavi as being Iranian, notwithstanding that at some point , he was born in an area that belonged to the Persian empire or as you wrote, to the greater Iranian people.  Molavi can be claimed by all Persian speaking people, and if one wants to get  specific,  depending on if you believe more in nature vs nurture, he can be claimed by many people, but attributing him to Iran solely, it not very sincere.


Dear Bambi

by ramintork on

Balkh culturally and Geographically counts as part of then the Greater Iran. The Greater Khorasan was in fact culturally where our cultural DNA survived. Most of our science, Sufisim only survived because of it.

Rumi was indeed in the selection list of the program but was not picked. Being a question of influence and I suppose (that implies influence on us living Iranians) I would say the list of the six picked by the BBC panel is accurate. If you allow more then of course Rumi would be on that list.


Yes the Iranian worker should not be forgotten

by ramintork on

The Iranian worker should not be forgotten and I was considering adding Mansour Osanloo as one of the influential Iranians ( if the numbers became larger).

Please check my proposal in the main section. 

My own father now 85 was a worker in the Iranian oil company and he started when he was 11. At least in the old regime ( which he disliked but now regrets that he did!) he put himself through evening school and raised himself to a senior management role. He and many like him build Iran with their blistered hands only to watch it all go to ruin.

Today an Iranian worker simply can not make ends meet. The income does not match the astronomical cost of living. They can't even protest peacefully. 




by bambi on

"One mind bogglingly absentee from both your and the BBC's selection is the most internationally famous Persian of spiritual order and mystic poetry, Rumi."  anglophile

Molavi  was born in Balkh ,  where it was controlled by the Persian Empire at the time and soon fell from its control,  and was brought up and educated in present day Turkey.  Since the documentary is about Iranian greats, and NOT Persian speaking greats, it would not have been accurate to  claim him as Iranian.  The others were either born or resided in what is present day Iran.

Avicenna:  born in Bukhara, raised & resided in present day Iran.

Hafez, born & raised in Shiraz.

Mossadegh, born & raised in Iran.

Zartosh & Cyrus,: much less is known about their birthplace, but generally are considered to be born & raised in Persia, in what is part of present day Iran.


To ramintork....Enjoyed your artwork. Thanks for sharing.


Who built Thebes of the seven gates ?

by radius-of-the-persian-cat on

Bertolt Brecht


Questions from A Worker Who Reads


Who built Thebes of the seven gates?
In the books you will find the name of kings.
Did the kings haul up the lumps of rock?
And Babylon, many times demolished.
Who raised it up so many times? In what houses
Of gold-glittering Lima did the builders live?
Where, the evening that the Wall of China was finished
Did the masons go? Great Rome
Is full of triumphal arches. Who erected them? Over whom
Did the Caesars triumph? Had Byzantium, much praised in song,
Only palaces for its inhabitants? Even in fabled Atlantis
The night the ocean engulfed it
The drowning still bawled for their slaves.

The young Alexander conquered India.
Was he alone?
Caesar beat the Gauls.
Did he not have even a cook with him?
Philip of Spain wept when his armada
Went down. Was he the only one to weep?
Frederick the Second won the Seven Years' War. Who
Else won it?

Every page a victory.
Who cooked the feast for the victors?
Every ten years a great man.
Who paid the bill?

So many reports.
So many questions.


Yes I agree

by ramintork on

It was very subjective and accept your comments about all the characters you mentioned. In fact I had a similar thinking process. The choices were also centred around our age and negative influences were exluded but in reality the dark side of our culture is driven by those very forces we tend to brush aside.


Still subjective but much better than the Persian BBC's

by anglophile on


Good work Mr Tork but you have opened the floodgates and yet have only chosen a narrow stream out of a huge body of water that is gushing through. " Most influential" is a much more accurate term to be used than the political term "greatest" as used by the stooges in the BBC Persian. It covers a much wider selection of candidates but that is where you have dug yourself into a hole. I wish you wouldn't have included the political figures into your list and now that you have at least you would have included both extreme of the influential spectrome. When Mohammad Reza Shah is symbol of modernity then you should have included his exact opposite, Khomeini as the symbol anti-modernity. One mind bogglingly absentee from both your and the BBC's selection is the most internationally famous Persian of spiritual order and mystic poetry, Rumi. Though I have no problem with Mossadegh's presence as the symbol Iranian absurdity, I am suprised that Reza Shah is forgotten as the founder of modern Iran.


The full blog and the 10 images

by ramintork on