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Zoroastrians of Iran: 
Conversion, Assimilation, or Persistence
Janet Kestneberg Amighi

Book Review

Dr. Mehrborzin Soroushian


General Information:
Published by AMS Press, January 1990, 416pp. 
ISBN: 0404626033

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This book published in the year 1990, reflects the results of the research the author did on the history and the intricacies of the communal functioning of the Zarathushtian community of Iran. She undertook this work while living in country during the years 1972-73 in partial fulfillment of her Masters of Sociology Degree requirement.

The author interviews many Zarathushtians in Iran, including community leaders, activists, scholars, other members, as well as non-Zarathushtian scholars, and uses scientific approaches to analyze the data she had gathered to come up observations on the subject of Conversion, Assimilation, and Persistence amongst the Zarathushtian of Iran.

The book relates information on the rise and spread of Zarathushti, the fall of Zoroastrian Empire, and the intermittent persecution they were subjected to.

The author examines the state of the modern Zarathushtian community of Iran tittering almost on the verge of extinction just a century earlier and the infrastructure that evolved around its emergence in the capital city of Tehran. The inter-community politics, the perception of the people within the community of themselves, of their relationships with their countryman is studied and analyzed.

In most instances, interesting comparisons are drawn between the plight of the Zarathushtian community and the other minorities in Iran, which provides for a more complete understanding for her findings. Even more interesting are the comparison she is able to draw between the plight of the Zarathushtians in Iran and the Coptics in Egypt both of whom came under similar assault. The Copts, considered indigenous people of Egypt managed to survive in the millions compared to the Zarathushtians in Iran (indigenous people of Iran) whose strength is even below 50,000.

The author even gets into a discussion of the subtleties of the Zarathushtians of Yazd and Kerman, and their interactions.

In brief, the author has done a fine job of researching and documenting a lot of interesting facts about the state of the Zarathushtians in Iran, the circumstances surrounding the emergence of the modern Zarathushtian community of Iran and all the factors impacting its existence.

Reading this book can give the students of history and religion a good perspective on what can go wrong and right in a country/community where religion takes the center stage. To those interested in the history of the religion of Zarathushtra in its country of origin, this book provides for good perspective on the subject.