Region of Khorasan: Cultural capital of Persia

Middle East Contributor
Region of Khorasan
Friday Mosque in Kashan. Iran. Ancient Persia. © Mikhail Makeev |

Khorasan… this region of Afghanistan/ Iran is often related to controversy and unrest. But very little is known about its rich history of religious tolerance along with a passion for art.

The locus of the rich region of Khorasan

According to the Geographers, the ancient region of Khorasan is actually a large area that includes northern Afghanistan along with Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan. But the oral historical tales have extended the location to the Southern and Central sectors of the country.

According to a hadeeth of our beloved Prophet Muhammad(PBUH), Khorasan is very much important in the past and future of Islam. The Hadeeth says,

“A Nation will come from the east with black flags and they will ask for some goodness (authority) but the people will not give them, then, they will fight and win over those people. Now the people will give them what they asked for but they will not accept it until they will hand it over to a person from my progeny who will fill this earth with justice just as it was previously filled with oppression and tyranny. So if anyone of you finds this nation (i.e. from the east with black flags) then you must join them even if you have to crawl over ice” [Al-Barzanji in Isha’ah li Ashrat Al-Sa’a]

But unfortunately, it is used in the wrong way now. Our beloved Prophet never supported terrorism. Islam is a peaceful religion and it will be forever.

The cultural importance of Khorasan

The poets and the authors:

Khorasan was of great cultural importance in the ancient era. The new Persian language developed in this region which displaced the Parthian language. As a consequence, the new age of Persian literature flourished. Khorasan was the birthplace of many great Islamic scholars and litterateurs. The early Persian poets such as Shahid Balki, Abu al-Abbas, Abu Hafez Sugdhi were born in Khorasan. It is said that the great poet Rumi and Ferdowsi were also born in this region.

The science warriors:

Until the plunder by the Mongols in the 13th century, Khorasan was the cultural capital of Persia. Apart from the authors, it was the hotbed for the scientists such as Avicenna, Al-Farabi, Al-Biruni, Omar Khayyam, Abu Wafa, and so on. These eminent scholars were largely known for their important contributions in mathematics, astronomy, medicine, physics, and earth science.

The ancient engineers and architects were also there in Khorasan. It is related to artefacts, textile engineering, and zoomorphic metal objects. The famous “singing bowl of Asia” might be invented in ancient Khorasan, claims some of the scholars.

The Hadith collectors of Khorasan:

A number of scholars of Islamic philosophy and religion studies come from the ancient region of Khorasan. Imam Bukhari, Imam Muslim, Abu Dawood, Al-Tirmidhi, Al-Ghazali and so on. They dedicatedly collected what our beloved Prophet (PBUH) said and guided the Muslims of the world.

The religious tolerance and Sufism in Khorasan

The Islamic tradition of Khorasan was always peaceful. Throughout history, the Afghans of Khorasan respected other religions and lived peacefully. For centuries, it was one of the most spiritual countries with religious repute. You will find a lot of Hindus and Sikhs in Khorasan, and they are well respected by the native Muslims. Islamic and Sufi Scholars are considered the real originator of Afghan society.

The famous Sufi poems and writings, strictly related to society and religion give the Afghan people hope and courage. Afghan people love Sufi poems, they use birds as metaphors for life. It was derived from the poem of the great 11th-century Sufi saint Iman Ghazali, he wrote,

“The body was my cage, but I have flown leaving it as a token.”

It is said this is the last poem he wrote before he died.

The spiritual aesthetics shaped and characterized the existence of Khorasan from the ancient age, the passion for learning, the logical minds, and love for works of literature can be felt in the region every day, in every person.