The Politics of Zoroastrian Philanthropy and the Case of Qasr-e Firuzeh

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Stewart, Sarah (2012)

In Iran and India religious philanthropy has been a feature of Zoroastrian piety as well as providing the means by which both communities have prospered throughout their respective histories. In Iran an elaborate structure for the regulation of charitable donations was already in place during the Sasanian period and laid the foundation for the laws governing pious foundations, awqāf, after the Islamic conquest. The increased interaction between Iranian Zoroastrians and Parsis from the mid-nineteenth century\ud onwards led to the expansion of the Tehran Zoroastrian community and the rise of a wealthy merchant class which in turn enabled philanthropic activity to flourish. This\ud development will be discussed here with reference to a particular vaqf, that of the first ārāmgāh or Zoroastrian cemetery to be established in Tehran in the early twentieth\ud century. The case of Qasr-e Firuzeh spans three successive governments in Iran and gives an insight into the management of a charitable endowment within different political contexts.
  • References (45)
    45 references, page 1 of 5

    17For patterns of growth, see the charts given by John Hinnells, “The Flowering of Zoroastrian Benevolence,” Zoroastrian and Parsi Studies: Selected Works of John R. Hinnells (Aldershot, 2000), 215-17.

    18J. Hinnells, “Authority and Parsis in British India,” in J. Hinnells and A. Williams, eds, Parsis in India and the Diaspora (Oxford, 2007), 101-02.

    19See Susan Styles Maneck, The Death of Ahriman: Culture, Identity and Theological Change among the Parsis of India (Bombay, 1997), 165-70.

    20V. B. Moreen, “Jezya,” Encyclopaedia Iranica XIV: 643-44.

    21Janet Kestenberg Amighi, The Zoroastrians of Iran: Conversion, Assimilation, or Persistence (New York, 1990), 130. Although the jizya was intended to protect dhimmis during wartime, in practice this did not always happen. One popular story tells of the Afghan raids on Kerman perpetrated by Mahmud Khan Ghilzai between 1719 and 1724. Zoroastrians, who were obliged to reside outside the city walls, were slaughtered in such numbers that a makeshift dakhmeh had to be constructed. See J. Choksy, “Despite Shās and Mollās: Minority Sociopolitics in Premodern and Modern Iran,” Journal of Asian Studies, 40, no. 2 (2006): 139.

    22See Michael Fischer, Zoroastrian Iran Between Myth and Praxis (Chicago, 1973), 1: 97-98.

    23See Choksy, “Despite Shās and Mollās,” 143-44.

    24Daniel Tsadik, Between Foreigners and Shi'is: Nineteenth-Century Iran and its Jewish Minority (Stanford, CA, 2007), 118.

    25See Eliz Sanasarian, Religious Minorities in Iran (Cambridge, 2000), 49. British officials exerted considerable effort to improve the rights of all dhimmis. As Tsadik notes, as a predominantly Christian nation, Britain was predisposed to support Christian minorities in Iran (Between Foreigners and Shi'is, 43-44). The Foreign Office minister in Tehran appointed in 1881, R. F. Thomson, entered into discussion with the shah and his minister for foreign affairs with respect to Nestorian Christians and Jewish as well as Zoroastrian communities (Between Foreigners and Shi'is, 113-15).

    26For example the repair of the Yazd Ātash-Bahrām (1855), and the Kerman Ātash Bahrām (1857). By 1864 Hataria had replaced the existing dakhmehs in Yazd, Kerman and the village of Sharifābād-e Ardakān-e Yazd, and the following year he had a small dakhmeh built at Qanāt-ghesan, near Kerman. See Mary Boyce, “Manekji Limji Hataria in Iran,” in K. R. Cama Oriental Institute Golden Jubilee Memorial Volume (Bombay, 1969), 23.

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