Date of Award


Document Type

Union College Only

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Political Science

First Advisor

Clifford Brown




persian, history, iran, tradition, events, tradition, religion


This thesis explores the forces of tradition and religion throughout the history of Persia and current day Iran. The origins of Islamic law and their place in Persian history began a rich evolution over 1500 years ago, carrying the revelations of Muhammad to the government and policies of Iran today. The most prominent example of ancient Persian forces coming to play in modern times is the Iranian Revolution, and tied directly to this, the Iranian Hostage Crisis. These events of 1979‐1981 were decisively shaped by the rise to power of Ruhollah Khomeini, and his attempts to institute pure rule by Islamic law. Islamic tradition in Persia is politically active in two ways. First, it contributes to identity and cultural attitude, shaping and influencing current events. Additionally, when this tradition is invoked, it can be used to justify authority and its actions. A striking example of how the concurrence of tradition and religion drastically shaped recent history was the Iranian Revolution of 1979 and the succeeding events that led to the Iranian Hostage Crisis (1979‐81) and the beginning of the Iran‐Iraq War (1980). These events were heavily influenced by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, among the most remarkable actors in Persian history. The Revolution that brought him to power was the first mass Islamic revolution in which an unprecedented 10 % of the population was actively involved in the violent demonstrations that denounced the Pahlavi regime. I will examine the structure of Khomeini’s arguments and the allure that enabled him to arouse one of the most successful revolutionary overthrows in history. In order to comprehend the importance and God‐like status that Khomeini commanded in Iran, one must consider his background in the Persian context. Khomeini was lifelong scholar, devoting years to the study and contemplation of Persian and Islamic tradition. Although it is impossible to reproduce the lifetime of Khomeini’s studies, my research depicts a flavor of the events and influences working within Iran since Before Christ. Due to extensive research and a profound comprehension of the Iranian psych, Khomeini understood the capabilities of ancient Persian forces. By arousing these inner pulses in the people of Iran, Khomeini’s words assured security and comfort as well as a call for action. In my research, I will investigate the ancient Persian forces that have developed throughout history, starting in about 1000 BC. At this time, Persia was a tribal society who worshipped many pagan gods. Over the next century and a half, Persia underwent several changes: tradition developed amidst a cycle of invasions and it became a largely monotheistic culture with the famed Prophet Zoroaster. Zoroaster was the first known Prophet to preach of a single, almighty god, an idea that was later reflected in Judaism, Christianity, and ultimately, Islam.