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Dari Persian

In his book “Al-Fehrest” (p. 5) Ibn Nadim quotes Ibn Moqafa’ reporting that towards the end of the Sassanian period the languages spoken by the Iranians were as follows:
i) Fahlavi or Pahlavi, which probably refers to Arsacid Pahlavi or Pahlavāni or Parthian;
ii) Farsi or Persian which is probably the same as Middle Persian, the official language of the Sassanian Dynasty and the language that was used in the Zoroastrian books;
iii) Syriac which was from among the Semitic (Sāmi) languages prevalent in Mesopotamia;
iv) Khuzi which was probably what had survived from the Elamite language spoken in Khuzestān;
v) Dari (the darbār or court language) which was the language spoken among the courtiers and the inhabitants of the capital Ctesiphon.
Although following the advent of Islam in Iran Arabic became the religious and official language, the Dari Fārsi, which was in fact the modified form of Middle Persian continued to be spoken among the masses in most parts of Iran. The freedom movements that took place in Iran in the early Islamic centuries resulted in the emergence of Iranian dynasties like the Tāherids (205-259 AH/820-873 AD) in Khorāsān and the Saffārids (253-298 AH/867-911 AD) in Sistān. The founder of the Saffārid dynasty, Ya’qub Lath, was the first person to have encouraged the Iranian poets to compose their poems in Fārsi. However, the Samānid Dynasty (263-395 AH/877-1005 AD), which ruled over Khorāsān, Transoxiania, as well as some parts of Iran and the present-day Afghanistan - and which had selected Bokhārā as its capital - was the most powerful patron of the Fārsi language and literature. From among the services rendered by the Sāmānids to Fārsi literature was the encouragement of the Iranian scholars to translate important books into Fārsi, including the “Tārikh-e Tabari” (popular as “Tārikh-e Bal’ami”) and the “Tafsir-e Tabari” both of which were translated on the instructions of Amir Mansur bin Nuh Sāmāni (ruled 350-365 AH/961-976 AD).
During the reigns of the Ghaznavids (366-582 AH/977-1186 AD) and the Seljuqs (429-552 AH/1038-1157 AD) Fārsi Dari continued to be supported by some of the courtiers to the extent that during the times of Fazl bin Ahmad Esfarāyeni, the Minister of Sultān Mahmud Ghaznavi (from 388-398 AH/998-1008 AD) as well as Abu Nasr Kondori, the Minister of Toghrol and Alp Arslan (from 448-456 AH/1056-1064 AD) Fārsi was the language of the government tribunals and registry work and was widely used for official correspondence. Later on, too, during the rule of the Khwārazmshāhis (470-628 AH/1077-1231 AD) all the major treatises and ledgers came to be written in the Fārsi language.
The spread of the Fārsi language in east and north-east Iran including the cities of Bokhārā, Balkh, Samarqand, Tus, Marv, and Herāt, on the one hand, and the adoption of this language in the courts of the Turkish-speaking Ghaznavid and Seljuq kings on the other, resulted in the permeation of certain words from the Pārthian, Soghdian, and Turkish languages into Fārsi. Nevertheless, since Arabic continued to be the language of science, learning, and religion, the permeation of Arabic words into Fārsi grew increasingly to an extent that the ratio of Arabic words in the Fārsi language which was about thirty percent in the 4th Century AH reached to about fifty percent in the 6th Century AH.
Following the death of Jalāl al-Din Khwārazmshāh in 628 AH/1231 AD and the Mongol rule over Iran, during the reign of the Ilkhānids (654-754 AH/1256-1353 AD) and the Timurids (771-912 AH/1369-1506 AD), the employment of Fārsi for all written works continued to be the trend. However, the destruction of Khorāsān and Transoxiania resulted in the transfer of the center for the Fārsi language to the central and southern cities of Iran ,and particularly Shirāz. During this period, too, a number of words from the Mongolian language came to permeate the Fārsi language, and particularly in the areas of military and administrative affairs.
On the other hand, the spread of the Turkish language in Āzarbāyjān, the capital of the Āq-Quyunlu Turkmen (ruled 800-908 AH/1398-1502 AD) was to the extent that the Safavids who were actually of Iranian origin became Turkish-speaking. Moreover, even during the Safavid period (907-1135 AH/1501-1723 AD) the Turkish language spread in Āzarbāyjān to such an extent that it managed to push aside the Āzari dialect which was one of the Old Iranian dialects. Following the Afshārid period (1148-1210 AH/1735-1795 AD) and the Zand Dynasty (1163-1209 AH/1750-1794 AD) and the emergence of the Qājār Dynasty (1193-1342 AH/1779-1924 AD) Tehran became a center for the literati, the writers, the government officials, and the statesmen and gradually the Tehrāni form of Fārsi sidetracked the other forms and became the chief language of reference. It is not exactly clear as to when the Arabic script first came to be used for writing the Fārsi language because the oldest available dated Fārsi work written in the Arabic script is the book of Abu Mansur Movaffagh Heravi entitled, the “Al-Abniyah an-Haqāyegh al-Adviyah” written in the hand of Asadi Tusi in the year 447 AH/1055 AD. The oldest written Modern Fārsi works are in the Hebrew script and are inscribed on a mountain rock in the Azāu Pass in the west of Afghanistan. The type of language that has been employed in these inscriptions is referred to as “Fārsi-Yahudi”. Two of these inscriptions have been dated (135 AH/752 AD). Similar works have been also discovered in the Hebrew language some of which are the translations and the exegeses of parts of the Torāh (The Old Testament).
Dari Fārsi was also written in the Manichean script in the 4th Century AH and for instance, reference can be made to certain parts of a Fārsi ode (qasidah) and the famous poem of Baluhar and Budāsaf that have been discovered in Chinese Turkistān (present day Xinjiang). Moreover, it has been estimated that these works were written in the first part of the 4th Century AH/10th Century AD.
From among the manuscripts that have been discovered from the Turfan Depression in Chinese Turkistān, parts of the Fārsi translation of the Psalms of David (Zabur) can also be found, written in the Syriac script. For centuries now, the Fārsi language of Iran and Afghanistan has been written in a script derived from Arabic. The Tājiks, too, used the Arabic script for centuries until it came to be replaced by the Latin script in 1928. However, since the year 1939, the Cyrillic script has replaced the Latin one. Like many other Middle Iranian scripts (Parthian, the inscriptional Middle Persian, the textual Middle Persian, the Zaburi Persian, the Manichean, the Aramaic, the Khwārazmian, and the Soghdian), the Hebrew, Arabic, and Syriac scripts have been derived from the Aramaic script. The Arabic script is a survivor of the Nabāti form of the Aramaic script which was in use in the Petra city (located in present-day Jordan) until the overthrow of the Nabataean Dynasty at the hands of the Romans in 106 AD (Fig. 5). 

* source: Rezaie Baghbidi , Hasan " Iran Entry " The Great Islamic Encyclopedia . Ed. Kazem Musavi Bojnourdi.Tehran: The Center of Great Islamic Encyclopaedia , 1989-, V.10 , pp.550- 551


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