49 Comments

What’s the difference between Arabs & Persians?

Ok, I will confess that I love learning about the Middle East.  I love learning more about Jews, Muslims, Arabs, etc.  I have so much to learn.

I’m a grad student working on some genetic studies (one of my many jobs).  As part of the genetic study we are doing, we have our study participants tell us their race.  In medical studies, different treatments can affect different races quite dramatically.

I’m designing a database to capture the information for the study.  Many people don’t identify as just one race.  Some are multi-racial, and even put percentages on their forms, such as 50% white, 25% hispanic, 25% black.  So, I was asking questions about how to properly capture the data.

I learned that there are 5 basic races:  White (Caucausian), Black, Asian, Native American, and Pacific Islander.  As I have discussed on this blog before, genetic studies show that Native Americans are related to Asian peoples.  Simon Southerton seems to have shown that peoples migrated across the Bering Strait, and settled the americas.  But according to one of the genetic specialists (I’ll call her Ann) in my office, there is still a big enough difference between Native Americans to separate them from Asians.  Same goes for Pacific Islanders.

It seems that many people often refer to the Jewish race, or the Arab race.  In some of our previous posts, we talked about the “Cohen” gene, which is a distinguishing gene among people of Jewish descent.  So I asked Ann what race Jews were, and she said “Caucasian.”  She said there is some interesting distinguishing characteristics of Jews, but not so much to call them a separate race.  I asked about Arabs?  “Caucasian.”  Ok, what about people from India?  “Caucasian.”  This one really surprised me (as if the others ones didn’t.)  I would have suspected India Indians to be Asian, but that is wrong.

Hispanic is the truly confusing one, because there are black hispanics, and white hispanics.  If a person is a black hispanic, genetically they are black.  Otherwise, they are Caucasian.

I was truly intrigued to learn all of this.  Then to top it off, I discovered Ann was from Iran.  (She told me it is pronounced ear-ron, not eye-ran, so I will endeavor to pronounce it properly from this point forward.)  Now, I just couldn’t resist asking more questions.

I told her that I had heard that Iranians are not Arabs, and that I never really understood that.  To me, it always seemed like anyone from the Middle East was an Arab.  If Iranians are not Arabs, what are they, and what distinguishes an Arab?

She told me that they refer to themselves as Persians.  I had a college professor who had told me he was Persian, and when I asked him where that was, he said “Iraq.”  So, I asked her if Iraqi’s were also Persians.  She was surprised to hear me tell her than an Iraqi claimed to be Persian, but then decided that it was possible, and then gave me a history lesson.

Persia was once much larger than it is now, and was centered in Iran.  Around 600 AD, the Arabs from Saudi Arabia expanded their kingdom and conquered Persia, converting everyone to Islam.  (Prior to that, the Persian religion was Zoroastrianism.)  Even though the Persians converted to Islam, they never liked the Arab rulers, and a few hundred years later, overthrew them and installed their own kings.

I asked about the differences between Sunni and Shiite (or Shia) muslims.  Shia muslims follow a direct lineage through to the prophet Muhammed.  Sunni’s believe that clerics do not have to be genetically related to Muhammed.  The Sunni line is larger than Shia.  Iran is really the only nation primarily Shia.  Iraq and Sadaam Hussein were ruled by the minority Sunni, but it appears that the Shiite majority is taking control of the government, so there could be a 2nd Shiite nation.  Most other Middle Eastern countries are Sunni.  Perhaps Persia is coming back into existence!

Anyway, Ann told me that Iranians hate to be referred to as Arabs, and identify much more with Europeans.  She told me that Afghanis feel the same way.  She said she knew Americans had a hard time telling the difference, but that people in that part of the world can easily tell the difference between a Persian and an Arab.

Ann has been in America for about a year.  Prior to that, she lived in France.  She said she really liked Utah, and culturally, felt that Utah was quite similar to Iran.  She said families are very important in Iran, and very important in Utah.  She said France was much more secular, and the people weren’t as nice.  (I’ve vacationed in France, and didn’t think they were very nice either.)

Anyway, it was a truly fascinating conversation!  I actually knew a little about Zoroastrianism.  For example,  the star at Jesus birth was discovered by the Wise Men from the East.  Some scholars believe that the Wise Men believed in Zoroastrianism.  (I plan a topic on this as we get closer to Christmas–it is a fascinating topic to me.)  Ann was surprised to hear this.  I also know that there is a mountain in Saudi Arabia called Jebel-Musa which means Mount of Moses.  Some muslim and christian scholars believe that this may be the true location of Mount Sinai, and I think there is some pretty intriguing evidence to support that claim.  (Ann didn’t know that either.)  Anyway, I plan some future posts on that topic as well.

So, did anyone know the difference between a Persian and an Arab?  Do you have any other interesting things to add?

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49 comments on “What’s the difference between Arabs & Persians?

  1. I knew there was a difference, although I believe they all trace their lineage back to Abraham, since I recently read “Islam for Dummies.” 🙂 It’s true what Ann is saying, that you can tell the difference between a Persian and an Arab. I’m no expert, so I probably wouldn’t always get it right, I guess it’s sort of like westerners seeing the difference between Japanese, Chinese, and Korean. To many, they all look the same, but really they have different facial characteristics. It’s just not always starkly obvious to us. I can’t remember who was telling me this recently, perhaps it was a Chinese friend of mine. Anyways, this person was saying that while we tend to think that Asians all look the same, they look at white people in the same way. We tend to look all the same to them.

    There is also a language called Persian. My good friend from Afghanistan’s first language is Persian. He’s therefore able to communicate with Iranians (who mostly speak Persian, I believe), but other fellow Afghans speak Farsi or any of the other Afghan languages. He showed me the Persian Book of Mormon. Very interesting. They read back-to-front.

    Interesting about Hispanics. I suppose black Hispanics would then be like the Dominican Republic and Brazil, which both have a high black population due to slaves being brought over many years ago?

    Back home in Canada, we were once talking to a native fellow who was showing us a sort of wheel that they have in their culture. He called it “The 5 Colours of Man” and it consisted of black, white, red, yellow, and brown. Red would obviously be native. Brown would have to be hispanic then? That’s what I assumed, but maybe it’s actually white. 🙂

    Ditto on France. Although we found the people friendlier than we had expected, I think it must be very difficult to be an immigrant in France. France has a big problem with lack of integration, particularly among Muslim and African immigrants. When we were in Paris, it was interesting to get off at certain stations of the metro. When you’re at “Gare du Nord,” you forget you’re in Paris. If someone blindfolded you and just put you there, you could easily guess you were in north Africa somewhere. But just a couple stops to the south, suddenly all the white people would re-appear.

    The Muslims certainly keep things challenging for staunchly secular France. There was the whole headscarf controversy back a few years ago and racism is always a problem. The ironic part is, though, that without their immigrants, France’s soccer team would probably really suck. 🙂

  2. I know Hispanics refer to themselves as brown, but I think the brown on your color chart refers to Pacific Islanders. Hispanics are supposed to choose between black or white.

    Last year, I took my family to NY for the Macy’s Thanksgiving parade. I cringed when my 5-year old son, stating the obvious, pointed at a black passenger on the subway and said, “You’re brown.” The black man thought it was hilarious. It was probably the first time my son had seen a black man.

    The official language of Iran is Farsi. Ann seemed to interchange Persian and Farsi quite a bit, and said that many Afghani’s speak Farsi as well.

  3. The name Persia was changed to Iran during WWII. It means “land of the arians”.

  4. I am assuming this is different the christian heretic Arius…can you give more background on arians?

  5. On 21 March 1935, the ruler of the country, Reza Shah Pahlavi, issued a decree asking foreign delegates to use the term Iran in formal correspondence. Some believe he made this decision in order to be closer to Germany, by trying to emphasize the Aryan connection between Hitler’s idealistic German Aryan race and the Persian Aryan race, given that “Iran” means “land of Aryans”, at a time where the German empire was slowly becoming an unstoppable superpower. Some others believed he changed “Persia” to “Iran” to present a new and modern face of the country in the world.

  6. AE, very interesting. I was not aware of that fact. It kind of puts the current Iranian president’s remarks about wiping Israel off the map in more troubling terms, wouldn’t you say?

  7. I’ve got an Afghan friend who hates when people call him Arab. He’s Persian.

  8. Please do post some on the above topics, I find very interesting. I did not know the difference at all, so thank you for the quick education lessons. lf

  9. LLF, thanks for stopping by. It looks like your comment got cut. I’d love to hear what else you had to say…

  10. yea i know i like peices of pie too ..but u know..i dojt even know .i need to know wat the distingushing characteristic of persians are and noone has it…i hate my life 😦

  11. huh? I have no idea what you’re talking about, but thanks for stopping by…

  12. I currently live in the Middle East–it’s awesome being over here. There is a differance between being Arab and Persian. I’m in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and when don’t refer to it as the Persain Gulf. My family and I are really enjoying living in the Middle East and learning about this fascinating people and culture.

  13. I currently live in the Middle East–it’s awesome being over here. There is a differance between being Arab and Persian. I’m in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and we don’t refer to it as the Persain Gulf. Here it’s called the Arabian Ocean.
    My family and I are really enjoying living in the Middle East and learning about the fascinating people and culture.

  14. Currently, anyone who is a native Arab speaker is considered Arab. Anyone who doesn’t is not.
    The Iraon- Persian dialects include Tajik (Tajkistan), Farsi (Iran and parts of Afghanistan), Dari (Afghanistan), and Azerbaijani. The Tajik, Afghan, and Azerbaijani people I know would not identify as Persian–only Iranians would.
    It really is that simple, it depends on your language–just so you know.

  15. Thanks, mmiles. Since I don’t speak Arabic or Farsi, that’s still going to be tough for me to distinguish.

    Thanks Tim, for commenting. It sounds interesting to live over there.

  16. Persians(Iranians) and Arabs are from two different races. Iranians are Aryans, Arabs and Jews are semites.

  17. Ray,

    Can you explain more about Aryans? My knowledge is weak in this area. As I recall, the Germans wanted to promote the Aryan race during World War 1 and 2. I believe that there are Aryans in Iran, but I don’t believe these are the same as German Aryans.

    I had a co-worker tell me that the Shah of Iran changed the name of the country from Persia to Iran to become closer to Germany during World War 2, as well as to come up with a more modern name. I’m not sure how much truth there is to this, but she is Iranian, so I tend to believe her. It seems to me that the 2 Aryan groups are different, but since their names are so similar, and they are both anti-jewish, it makes some sense why they would have wanted closer ties.

  18. Hello MM. You wanted to know about the relationship between German Aryans and Iranian Aryans. It should be noted that the first Aryans originated from India. This was a warlike society that called their best and corageous “Aryan” or nobleman. Therefore it is not so much a race as a system of class. Afterwards wave and wave of these “Aryans” imigrated to Mesopotamia (Currently Iran) and to IndoEurope. After centuries the name Aryan or Nobleman was exchanged for race. The reason why Iranians dont look like Germans is both because of weather and second because Aryans in Iran were integrated to the Arab kingdom in the time of Mohammad and so Aryans and Semites mixed, so thats why we look different.

    The question of Ahmadinejad and Israel also came up. Ahmadinejad never said that Israel should be wiped off the map. His sayings was taken out of context. Never in his speech did he direct his attention to the Jewishs living in Israel but the governmnet of Israel. This is a very fine distinction that however has to be recognized. To compare Hitler with Ahmadinejad is therefore a wrong comparison and potentially dangerous.

  19. Mohammed,

    Thank you for clearing up that point about Aryans. I really appreciate your input.

    I see your point trying to separate the government of the Jews from the people of the Jews. If you are correct in your interpretation, then yes it is an extremely fine line and I can understand why Ahmadinejad would be easily misunderstood. My question to you is this. Let’s say Ahmadinejad’s real problem is with the government of Israel, and not the people of Israel. If the government changed to be more accommodating to the Palestinian people, would Ahmadinejad (and the rest of the Arab world) be more accepting of the Nation of Israel even if it was still dominated by Jews?

  20. Well… Now that Israel has established itself in the region, it would be childish for any politician be it arab or Iranian to expect them to pack of and leave. Off course if Israel becomes more accomadating to the palestinians then they should be accepted. However another point should be made. Iran is the only other considerable power in the region besides Israel. By stating that they want to be kind of the protectorate of the palestinians, Iran is trying to get the sympathy and trust of the other arab nations that have been less than kind to Iran and its capabilities. I mean lets be realistic, Ahmadinejad wants to gain more power in the region and the palestinians are the perfect tool for Iran to show itsef the hero. Off course these are all complicated issues that dont have one right answer. The differnt reasons for why ahmadinejad does what he does is less than clear and so one should be cautious in deciding why he does what he does.

    p.s. my name is mohammad not mohammed

  21. Mohammad,

    Sorry for the misspelling. So, it sounds like Ahmadinejad is just manipulating the Palestinians for Iran’s personal gain. While I know every nation manipulates causes for their own good, I wonder what the Arab neighbors think of Iran’s Palestinian policy.

    I think back to Saddam offering money to Palestinian suicide bombers families, and I am appalled. Obviously, this kind of policy is destructive, not constructive. It sounds to me like you are somewhat distrustful of Ahmadinejad, though I am not completely certain of your position.

    In my view, it seems like most of the Arab neighbors all try to exploit the Palestinians, rather than try to truly help them in a constructive manner. I believe Hezbollah is an Iranian-backed organization, and that seems to be just as destructive as Saddam’s blood money for suicide bombers.

    So, while I know this post isn’t really about the Palestinians policy, I’m happy to go on that tangent. What do you think would be some constructive policies for both the American/Israeli and Arab/Iranian governments regarding the Palestinians?

  22. Hey you !
    I want to clear some pure ideas hidden behind of any Iranian thought:
    1- Iranians are racist !(joking) they say they are Arian and actually they believe only germans are Arian as well not anyone else!
    2-Iranians hates Arabs,they(Arabs) forced Iranian 1400 years ago to change their religion(Zarostarian) to Islam but Iranians ultimately found a way to push back Arabs,they invented Shii and again like their race! they say the pure Islam is Shii !!! and Sunii’s are not pure muslem.
    3- Arabs will see Iranians always as an enemy,Iranian politicians like Ahmadinejad know that they never want to help Sunni Palestinians ! they just want to attract the peace from Arab sides which are the strongest companions of Americans! also they want to change the war battlefront to somewhere outside Iranian borders and nowhere is better that Israil which they have no common border with!
    4- Shii is an Iranian version of Islam mixed with many other religions. Iranians historically and geografically had been on the way of western(Jewism,cristianity,Islam) and eastern(Hindoism,buddism,zarostarian..!) religions .the digestion of all these extremely different ideas with deep Shamanism desires of Iranians has caused a sever mental illness for them. so 50% of Iranians are thinking like modern westerns : they now want a secular system of government but other 50% suppose they are muslem but actually they are not muslem, cause as i told you shii is a Iranian-made religion: Iranians can not be hotter than Arabs where Islam originated and all of Saudi Arabians are Sunii including Osame bin laden !

    5- the most misunderestanding that westerns have about Iranians and Arabs is originated from the fonts(writing letters) Iranian use which is like Arabs,Arabs managed to force their fonts(which is from right to left) to Persian intellectual people. before Islam the letter writing was from left to right like all indio-euopian languages but Arabs were so influential that could change the persian fonts but they couldn,t change the language of normal people. so talking persian countined but the writing system changed.
    hope to be a help for you.

  23. Solivan,

    Thanks for stopping by, but I don’t think you’re accurately portraying the Shia movement when you call it an invention. The Shia movement claims that the proper leader of Islam is a descendant of Muhammad. Sunni’s say that they do not need to be a direct descendant. Shia’s claim is that they can trace leadership back to Muhammad.

    This is similar to the differences between the LDS church, and the RLDS church (now known as Community of Christ.) RLDS claim that Joseph’s son was the rightful leader, while the LDS claim that Brigham Young was the rightful leader, as head of the Quorom of the 12. So, by analogy, the Shia would be like the RLDS, and the Sunni would be like the LDS. Calling one group an invention is inflammatory, and doesn’t really tell the whole story.

    Now I will agree that there were political maneuverings, but this is not any different than the schism between the Catholic and Orthodox churches. Would you call them an invention as well? When the Roman Empire fell, the muslims took control of the eastern part of the empire, subjugating the Orthodox church. As a result, the pope became very powerful in the Western part of the empire. The Orthodox still claim to have authority from Peter, just as the Catholic church does. I think both Catholics and Orthodox would find the term “invention” insulting if you labeled them as you have the Shia.

  24. Interesting article! I currently live in Dubai (against my will). In the past I used to get insulted when someone mistook me for being an Arabic lady but nowadays I just smile and ignore, I don’t even bother to reply and correct them anymore especially here in Dubai. A Japanese person would also feel very insulted if you for example mistook them for being Taiwanese…

    “Persia was internationally renamed in 1935 to Iran, The Persians have always called their region the land of the Arians, from which the name “Iran/Aryan” comes. Their language is also referred to as Aryan (Indo-European). The early Persians were one of several Arian tribes that settled in the Iranian plateau. Arian Tribes who emigrated to the west became the ancestors of Greeks and Gernams and people who chose east as their destination came to be known as Indo-Iranians. The Persians are the most ancient known speakers of Indo-European languages. The Aryans gave Persia its historical name: Airyana. Iran/Aryan (Arian) means “noble” or “honorable”…

    quotes taken from:

    mani.tk/timeline.htm

  25. Bahar,

    Thanks for stopping by. I have to tell you that my wife’s best friend is Japanese. She’s lived here her whole life and only speaks English. Anyway, about 10 years ago (or more) they took a vacation to Korea. My wife’s friend got asked for directions constantly, because she was mistaken for Korean. Of course, she was no help at all….

  26. Persian are so different from arab. To explain more about similarity between persians and germans,fist of all, Persians was a population who were divided into 6 groups,maspian,pasargardian,mafian,…,and germanian.Germanian was one of the persian tribes .After years ,this name was changed to Kermanian.actually Kerman is a province in Iran.It is believed that Alexander forced to immigrate many of Kermanian People to Europe .These people settled in South of Germany and near Austria.Moreover,There are many evidences which approve this idea.You can compare native iranian like Kurds and zoroastrian and Lurs with Ugly arabs.

  27. For the record, the “Ray” in comment #16 is not me.

  28. Emad,

    Is “Ugly arabs”, a slang term like “ugly american”, or is there more to the definition?

    For the record, this is one of my most popular posts (when viewed by page visits, not comments). The comments continue to trickle in, and I really appreciate it when people comment and let me know more about Middle Eastern cultures. Thanks to everyone for input here.

  29. […] 1.       whats the difference between arabs persians […]

  30. Hello dear friends. I found this article very interesting so I thought maybe I should give my own opinion. It is true that persians have many similarities in terms of their physical features with Arabs, but they dont like it when they are mistaken with Arabs. I would know because I am Persian. Persians are very proud of their history and their rich culture and overtime once Arabs invaded Persia in the battle of Ghadesiyeh 1428 years ago, they forced Islam and their culture to persians. It is important to know that Persians were Zoroastrians at first. Zoroastrianism is believed to be one of the first monotheism religions in the world and even before Arabs believed in Allah, persians believed in one and only God, “Ahura” (God of love and the creator of the universe). The symbol that was most often represented with Zoroastrianism is fire which represents the warmth and the light of God (Einstein recognized its importance). Though Arabs claimed that persians worshiped fire years later when they became the followers of Allah. Another important matter to take into account is the fact that by studying history, Persians have a very different history than Arabs and they are truely proud of it. Persians had the first queens, and women rulers in their land in the time when Many Arabs did not give much rights to women and even stoned them to death. Under the rule of Persian empires women were highly respected and pregnant women were payed. Pehaps to know about the persian history that was way ahead of its time, it requires more research. Oftentimes the Persian empire is believed to be “forgotten” because once people are reminded of ancient history, they’ve only been thought about ancient Egypt, Greeks, Roman, or Chinese. Our culture and inventions had huge influence to the world today (ex. firt charter of human rights declared by cyrus the great or the first tax system). So clearly it is understandable to feel annoyed when we are called Arabs because we are totally different in every aspect. Equally important is the fact that The Achaemenid Persian Empire (550–330 BC) was the largest empire of the ancient world and therefore extended far beyond the modern day Iran. For a 15 year old I still have alot more to research and learn about my country so I put my best effort into proving my point. Thank you.

  31. Artemis, thanks for stopping by and giving your input. The more I learn about Persia, the more interesting it becomes to me.

    I did a post about Astrology in the Christmas story a while back. I’d be curious for you (and others) to stop by and see if you can add any input there. I did mention Zoroastrianism briefly there. I find Zoroastrianism a very interesting religion.

  32. I am persian and i see less than zero percent relationship between persians and arabs cultures. Yes, there is islam in between but that is different story. It is same as after WWII aliance powers force germans to be jewish. That happened to Iranian after arab invation 1400 years ago to be muslems.

  33. Cyrus, welcome. I find Islam and Iran very interesting topics, and I hope you click on the “Muslim” category to add additional insights to my Abraham posts, Esther, or my Wise Men posts. (The Biblical stories of Esther and the Wise Men seem to have originated in Iran.)

    “It is same as after WWII aliance powers force germans to be jewish.”

    What are you talking about? That sounds like propaganda, unsupported by any facts. If you have facts to support this allegation, please indulge me. Such a comment strikes me as just as uninformed as Americans who believe Persians and Arabs are the same thing. I aim to break down stereotypes, not reinforce them.

  34. Hispanic is NOT a race, it is an ethnicity.

  35. Pardon my first comment, you mentioned this ahead.

  36. Interesting post. I’ve always been fascinated with the Middle East, particularly Iran, whose people and culture I strongly admire and whose women I find quite attractive.

    Genetically, there are five races. These are the Caucasoid, Mongoloid, Negroid, Amerind, and Australoid.

    The Caucasoid Race includes the peoples of Europe, the Middle East, and North Africa. Their characteristics include: skin colour that ranges from pale white to brown; hair texture ranging from straight to wavy; thin lips; and narrow noses.

    The Mongoloid Race inhabits East Asia. Like Caucasoids, their skin tone can be anything from very light to dark. Their hair is almost always very straight. One of their main distinguishing features would be the epicanthic fold of the eye which gives their eyes a “slanted” appearance. The Pacific Islanders are also generally Mongoloid, although, depending on what island you are talking about, some can have Australoid, Amerind, and even Caucasoid admixture.

    The Negroid Race is native to Sub-Saharan Africa. They have skin colour ranging from brown to black. Their hair is kinky; their lips are thick and their noses are flat and wide. Their jaws jut out noticably(prognathism).

    The Amerinds are the native inhabitants of the Americas. They are closely related to Mongoloids, and were once classified as a branch of the Mongoloid Race; but, as you mentioned, they are genetically distinct enough as to be considered separate.

    The Australoids dwell in Australia, New Guinea, and neighbouring regions. They share a number of features with the Negroids, including black skin and wide noses. One of the main features distinguishing them from Negroids is their wavy hair texture, which, believe it or not, sometimes comes in blond or reddish shades.

    The so-called “Hispanics” can be any race; however, most are Mestizoes, or people of mixed Caucasoid and Amerind ancestry. Those from Brazil and the island regions usually have a good bit of Negroid blood, as well.

    East Indians are a mixture of Caucasoid, Australoid, and sometimes Mongoloid ancestry.

    Each of the races is divided into smaller “subraces”. In the past, the Caucasoid race was divided into Nordics(the tall, blond, blue-eyed folk of Northern Europe), Alpines(mostly Central and Eastern Europe) and Mediterraneans(which included Southern Europeans, North Africans, Near Easterners, and certain peoples of the British Isles). Genetics tells a somewhat different story.

    Genetically, all of the peoples of Europe cluster remarkably close together, including the European “Mediterraneans”. Near Easterners and North Africans form another, separate cluster. The European Jews, despite significant European and even Mongoloid admixture, cluster closely with the Near Eastern/North African group.

    What’s interesting about Persians/Iranians is that, despite heavily mixing with their Near Eastern neighbours, have a strong relation to the European group.

    This makes since considering history. The Persian civilization was founded by Indo-European, or Aryan speaking people, who are believed to have originated in the area that is now Ukraine, Russia, and the Caucasus Mountain range. The ancient monuments of the Persian civilization show people with European looking features. Ancient Greek records indicate that the Persians of that time were relatively indistinguishable from the Greeks, although the Greeks were tanner due to training out in the sun all the time.

    Over the centuries, the Persians conquered and mixed with many peoples, and in turn were conquered by and mixed with other groups(namely, Arabs, Mongols, and Turks), so that Iran today is somewhat of a mixed region.

    Approximately 10% of Iran’s population(or about 1/5th of all Persians, since Persians are about 51% of the population) can still “pass” as full blooded Europeans, and a few(mainly in the North) even have blue eyes and blond hair.

    So, yes, Persians are not, and never have been, Arabs, although many have varying levels of Semitic/Near Eastern(not necessarily Arabic) ancestry.

  37. Thanks Random Dude. I appreciate the scientific explanation. This post continues to generate interest, and I am always surprised how long-lasting it is.

  38. Wish genetic dude with the answers would explain how native americans are related to asians but are a separate race, while “hispanics” are white??? No way – mexicans & south americans are a mix of native, black & white, but, the main ancestory is native & black. how can they be considered caucasion? the people with the most indigenous ancestory are obvious directly descended from asians or pacific islanders. the idea that ALL peoples living in north & south america came through the berring straight has been proven wrong. artifacts found in south america (10,000 years old) show the pacific islanders and asians came to south america on boats.

  39. and in reply to “just_another…” there is a population in IRAN with blonde hair, blue eyes and pale green eyes – the remnants of the peoples from the Caucasus mountain area (caucasions)- I kinda get tired of people looking at old artifacts and saying “european looking” or “almost look Caucasian” seems to be alot of people around today who think that modern day map borders show where whites/blacks/asians have lived forever in distinctly separate areas,and thats just not true. Caucasians lived in northern africa through what is now the middle east and up through europe. Also “fact dude” don’t forget the aboriginal peoples of australia – race now called australod, since it was proven they are not african & are more closely related to whites, as basically a proto-caucasian race that remained unchanged for over 25,000 years. That was cool.

  40. I am not “genetic dude.” If you want to participate here, please work on your manners, or I will spam future comments. Who are you? Are you “genetic dudette”?

    Please refer to my “About” page. It says, “This blog will hopefully be a thoughtful and respectful forum.” You are far from respectful.

    If you’re so intelligent in genetics, feel free to enlighten us without the attitude. Otherwise, please leave.

  41. i am a persian boy if you want know different between we persians and arabs you should go to ahvaz city. arabs call we persians ajam that means a person that can not speak arabic and is not arab

  42. hi…WOW… Its one of the best way to know more about Persian….. I’m from India, living in Kashmir…. most recently fallen in love with an Iranian Persian lady…. I’m alway enthusiastic in knowing more about Persian culture…& this web-page is like a nectar of Persian knowledge to me… Thanks Mr MH…

  43. Interesting subject – a lot what you mentioned seem to be a difference in culture not race like Hispanic is a culture not a race so I don’t think that you really identify what the difference from an Arab versus a Persian outside of the cultures.

  44. Well,
    Although the old persian civilization was somewhat advanced, it was ruled by savage rulers and It was a time for the greater civilization to take over, that was when the Arabs took over; medicine, mathematics, chemestery all progressed at a faster pace.
    The Islamic empire extended from Spain to the borders of China, that was a far more superior empire than any persian one.

    People please read history well, read about Andalos, and read about how savage was the old persian empire.

  45. I would like to say that i highly respect the Persian empire and how it stood and survived during history. But Persia could not stand without the help from the cradle of civalisation (Mesopotamia) aka Iraq. I am an Arab and we do have history from Nabateen to Iram of the pillars and lastely Queen of Sheba, yet we were crowned with Islam and conqured all Middle east, north africa and other parts of east africa. Yet we did not discrimante cause we have one rule “who ever spoke Arabic is an Arab” . I must say i have been mistaken if i were Persian altho i have never heard any Irani say he’s not a Persian (P.S. Persian count 35% of entire Iran) And i hated to be called Persian but i forgot a one thing we all humans and also they are our neighbors!! To end this i have to say stop living by remembering your old empire and live by loving each other and stop the hate.

  46. I’m an Iranian. And my respond is to the comment by ARAB. You are ignorant for calling the persian empire savages. The persian empire were very tolerant. In fact cyrus the great freed the jews from captivity and rebuild babylon so they can live there freely and practice their religion. Our society was very different prior to the islamic takeover by the uncivilized arabs. First of all men and women were equal. We had female warriors and female were respected in our persian culture. We have suffered from cruelity by the arabs for centuries. When the arabs toke over iran then called persia there was mass forced conversion to islam..if anyone protested they would be beheaded in a public setting.As a result a great deal of persians had to flee the place and relocate to other parts of the world like india. These immigrants are called parsi and still live in india, and practice their religion freely. Do you know freddy mercury from the queens?? Well he is parsi and in numerous interview he referred to himself as a persian. Anyway the only way I can describe the arabs murderous ways is by comparing it to when europeans came to america and completely disregarded the indians and called them savages. In fact indians had their own culture and way of life different then the european mentality. Anyway I guess persians were considered savegs by the arabs because we had our own bill of rights…yes we had the first bill of rights that granted freedom of religion and ethnic tolerance and diversity. We didnt also raped our daughters like the arabs did and still do. In arabic world and islam the consent age of marriage is 9!!!!!!!!one day iran will be free from these islamist rapist that took away our culture and identity . Right now our government is runned by “seyyed”descendes from the arab prophet mohammad …. We shall get rid of them as they dont represt the iranian identity.

  47. Since the 1979 Islamic Revolution the West has presented, with depressing consistency, a distorted image of Iran portraying it as a seething mass of islamic fanaticism. Those unaware of Iran ‘s history could be forgiven for believing that Iran knows nothing but Islam. The reality is far more complex and hopeful. Publicly most Iranians accept their Islamic identity, however, most are also aware of their pre-Islamic Persian identity. The tension between these competing identities has existed since the Arab-Islamic takeover of Iran in the seventh century AD.

    In 632 A.D., the founder of Islam, Mohammad, died but left his new Islamic state in Arabia with a clear message to conquer, convert and subdue all other faiths. The Muslim Arabs, armed with their new Islamic faith, and hungry for land and wealth, unleashed a devastating war of conquest and within 30 years they had conquered a huge empire stretching from North Africa to N.W. India. The Arab conquerors imposed Islam so successfully that the pre-Islamic history of the conquered peoples was virtually erased from the historic consciousness. The Arabs did not seek mere military conquest but also sought to conquer the culture and identity of the defeated nations. Islam was to have no serious rivals. The political nature of Islam demanded that a conquered people, such as the Iranians, not only convert to Islam but also to regard its past history as a time of darkness before the light of Islam came. In attacking Iranian identity, one of the most infamous acts of the Arab invaders was to burn Persian libraries with centuries of collected books. The Islamic logic to justify this vandalism was that if Persian knowledge agreed with the Koran, then these Persian books were superfluous and if they contradicted the Koran, then they should be destroyed. An unbeatable argument.

    Islam required conquered people to scorn their own past and love their Islamic Arab conquerors by striving to imitate them. More importantly, the Koran is written in arabic and Islam’s sacred places, Mecca and Medina , are in Arabia . It was clear that the conquered and newly converted had to accept the primacy of the arabic language, arabic values and Arabia . After all, Mohammad was an arab and since Islam regards him as the best example of a human, arab values cannot be rejected, without implicitly rejecting Islam and Mohammad. Islam as an imperial culture brought deeper and more profound psychological changes to the cultures it conquered than European colonialism ever could.

    Along with Islam’s cultural demands, its political ambition was to include all Muslims in an Islamic world without borders, in which the only permissible political allegiance was to the world-wide Muslim community and Allah. There was no place in such a world for a conquered people’s pre-islamic history or national identity.

    After the arrival of Islam , Iran faced the most critical test in its history. Would its ancient Zoroastrian culture survive or would Islam and arab culture replace the unique Iranian identity. Alternatively, could Iran somehow transform Islam into a palatable Iranian form? These questions have characterized Iran since the Islamic takeover. It is true, Islam has become the dominant cultural force, yet Iranian identity, rooted in its Zoroastrian past, has never quite conceded defeat. The tension remains to this day. For example “no ruz” or the Persian new year (based on a Zoroastrian practice) is condemned by the Islamic clerics as a pagan practice, yet is widely celebrated. In addition, the achievements of the ancient Achaemenian period (whose empire was conquered by Alexander the Great in the 4th Century B.C.) and its classical civilization, have never left the Persian collective psyche. The ruins of Persepolis are a constant reminder that there was great Iranian past a thousand years before Islam as even born. Not even the mullahs can deny evidence that is carved in rock.

    During the Abbassid, Ferdowsi (b.935), perhaps Iran ‘s greatest amongst many great poets, wrote the epic “Shahnameh” (story of kings) and reclaimed the Persian past and language from arabic influence. Ferdowsi’s poetry openly proclaims the superiority of Persian culture and laments the arab invasion. He accepts Islam itself as a fact of life without directly criticizing its teachings. However, Ferdowsi has nothing but contempt for the arabs themselves and cannot forgive them. At times Ferdowsi’s poetry even condemns the imposition of Islam itself. It is paradoxical that Ferdowsi’s tomb is still revered by Iranians despite Iran being an Islamic theocracy.

    Islam’s relegation of the pre-islamic past of the non-arab peoples it conquered, to an era of “darkness” was one of the major themes of the Indian author, V.S. Naipaul’s Nobel Prize winning books, “Among the Believers’ and “Beyond Belief”. Naipaul proposes that conquered peoples, such as the Iranians and Indonesians, had been separated by Islam from their complete and true historical past, and removed again by European colonialism and this disconnect has resulted in an inner anxiety and crisis of identity. Take for example Islamist movements in Indonesia and Phillippines, in which young Asian Muslims imitate Arabic appearance and call for Israel ‘s destruction, yet they have no ethnic, cultural or historic connection with arab Palestinians. Both Islamic and subsequent western colonialism, according to Naipaul, have robbed the “conquered peoples” from their true selves, such that there is an inner loss of identity and a yearning to belong to some cause.

    There have been times when Iran has dared to remember its past. In 1926, Reza Khan was crowned the first Pahlavi King of Iran and as part of his reforms he made it clear that he regarded Islam as a foreign imposed faith that should not determine Iran ‘s identity. As part of his attack on Islam, Reza Khan connected his new Iran with the ancient Zoroastrian past. The Farsi language was purged of arabic words, architecture began to take inspiration from ancient Achaemenian styles and schoolbooks were re-written to enhance an Iranian identity. Cities were renamed with Persian names, parents were encouraged to give Persian, and not arabic, names to their children. In 1935 Persia itself was renamed Iran , as it was known in the days of Cyrus the Great. These reforms were of course reversed after the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

    It conclusion, it seems that Iranian history has swung back and forth between its Arab imposed Islamic identity and its older Zoroastrian era Persian culture. The latter simply refuses to die. Just as an individual struggles with conflicting loyalties and identities until they are reconciled, so do entire nations and cultures. As long as Iran ‘s ancient identity is denied and denigrated, Iranian public life will be dishonest and contradictory. According to Islam, all history before Islam was an era of “darkness” and should be discarded. This is a frightening Orwellian belief, that the world witnessed first hand with the Taliban’s destruction of the Bamiyan Buddha statues. If the Iran past is to regain its rightful place, it must be prepared to attack this identity-destroying aspect of Islam.

  48. I will make everything clear ! Arabs are trace back to the Semitic race, in which the Jewish people are as well. Jewish and Arabs are Semitic that is why they both have similar language and features. Persians on the other hand are caucasians. So both are very different. And to us it is easy to make a difference between Arab and a persian !

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