Azerbaijan, South Azerbaijan, Iran, Persia, Turkey, Orientalism and Freemasonic Historiography By: Muhammad Shamsaddin Megalommatis

Following an introductory series on South Azerbaijan, and an earlier article ("South Azerbaijan: 12 Oppressed Nations Defy the Persian Theocratic Chauvinism of the Ayatollahs" -, I intend to expand further on the main impediment to the establishment of a definite Azeri national identity supported by the respective historiography that would delineate the diachronic trends of the Azeri History, the pillars on which it is based and the axes around which it evolves.
To study the texts published by the leading Azeri intellectuals (I hereby specify that I use the terms Azeri and Azerbaijani as fully equivalent and as originating from the earlier Adhurbadhagan or Adharbadhagan), one realizes that they fail to evidently draw a line fully and convincingly separating Azerbaijan from Iran.
This unfortunate event further affects Azerbaijan’s struggle for political reunification and national consolidation. At this point, I want to specify that, contrarily to the other oppressed nations of Iran, namely the Laris, the Arabic speaking Aramaeans, the Soranis, the Hewramis and the Goranis (fallaciously regrouped as "Kurds"), the Qashqais, the Luris, the Bakhtiaris, the Lakis, the Baluchis, the Gilakis, the Mazandaranis, and the Turkmen, the Azeris are the only to possibly counterbalance the Persians in terms of either sizeable territory and numerous population or diachronic presence and historical continuity.
The latter is very critical because it is on this element whereby modern historiography is based, and this helps create consolidated nations with historical – cultural integrity and well perceived identity.
In other words, the Azeris (both those living free in Azerbaijan and those suffering in Iran) are the only among the aforementioned tyrannized nations of Iran who can be empowered in their nation building effort by the institutionalization of an Azeri National History that opposes and eclipses that of the Persians.
Azeri Prevalence over the Persians
The pledge to Azeri prevalence over the Persians throughout the plateau in the east of Zagros mountains has to become the foundation of the South Azeris’ struggle for independence and national – cultural self-determination.
To some extent, the modern Azeri historians and intellectuals have been the victims of historical developments, political interests, and ideological approaches indexed on political needs of totalitarian regimes. By this I mean first, the division of Azerbaijan between the Iranian and the Russian empires before almost 200 years (following the wars between Qajar Iran and Russia, and the subsequent Turkemenchai settlement of 1828), second, the persecution of the Azeris in both empires, and third, the rise of the Soviet regime in Russia and the territories of Azerbaijan that were occupied by the Bolshevik army.
National historiography cannot be based on the needs of political conjecture; one has therefore to delve into the historical past, and at the same time proceed with a full examination and re-assessment of the existing historiography.
Colonial Historiography: An Overview
It is critical to bear in mind that the modern historiography in its entirety is a fully colonialist product and therefore absolutely false and totally invalid; established by Western European academia at the dawn of the modern times, the Western Historiography at the times of Classicism focused mainly on Ancient Rome and Greece, in an effort to present the Antiquity as a preferable socioeconomic, political and cultural – behavioural model opposed to that of the so-called "Middle Ages". This aberration took also the form of an incredible bias, the embellishment (and therefore falsification) of the Greco-Roman Antiquity. With the rise of the bourgeoisie class, the aforementioned model was forcefully institutionalized, whereas it would have been rejected as deviate a few centuries earlier. This means that its prevalence has nothing to do with truth but is the mere result of political interest and interest clash.
Gathering information from travelers to faraway parts of Asia and Africa, and extensively referring to Greco-Roman historiography of the Ancient Orient (the term designates Asiatic and African civilizations that are at times located in the West of key parts of the Greco-Roman world, e.g. Carthage), which was indirect and posterior, and therefore inaccurate and useless, the Western academia created an embryonic Orientalism in the 18th century. With the successive decipherments of ancient Oriental scriptures, a procedure that took place in the 19th and the 20th centuries, vast, direct, contemporaneous, and therefore authoritative and accurate knowledge about the Ancient Orient became available to all; at least theoretically.
This knowledge virtually defies and demolishes all preconceived ideas of the Western academia, either they pertain to the Greco-Roman Antiquity and to its importance in the World History (which was a maximalist aphorism) or they concern the Oriental Antiquity itself, and its real significance for the World History.
These realities have been withheld by the Western academia from both, the average public of Western Europe and North America, and the Asiatic and African nations that have been one way or another progressively colonized.
The overall procedure had great political effect but mainly France and England benefited from this because these two countries prevailed as colonial powers. All the other European academia, who successfully competed with their English and French colleagues (i. e. Austrians, Germans, Italians, Swiss, Poles, Belgians, Dutch, Scandinavians, Russians, Czechs), merely contributed to the political benefits leveraged by the Anglo-French because their countries either were not colonial powers (Austria – Hungary, Switzerland, Poland, Czechoslovakia, and the Scandinavian countries) or lost their colonies (Germany) or colonized unimportant territories (Indonesia, Congo, Siberia controlled respectively by Holland, Belgium, Russia).
The Collapse of the Oriental Historiography
It is essential to understand that the victims of the second phase of Western European colonial expansion (the first phase mainly concerned the discovery of America and the colonial rise of Spain and Portugal) were three vast countries that before just 260 years controlled the entire area between Morocco and Indonesia: the Ottoman Empire, the (post-Safevid) Iranian Empire, and the (post-Aurangzeb) Mughal Indian Sultanate (totaling an area of more than 20 million km2).
Many historians focused on the reasons of the socioeconomic and political demise of the aforementioned three empires; but no one analyzed the fact that, along with them, collapsed and disappeared forever earlier, non-Western, models, systematic schools, functional libraries and diachronic depositories of Oriental Historiography that had helped establish completely different models of education, culture, knowledge and theoretical endeavour.
The Oriental nations today must bear always in mind that all the existing systematic knowledge of their own past is foreign, alien, Western, and non-Oriental, and that as such, it is indexed on Western sociopolitical needs, preconceived schemes, theoretical misperceptions, and disastrous biases. In other words, Western Orientalism, before being erroneous in thousands of specific points, is false as a general concept and approach. Worse, it consists in a biased system that mobilizes authoritative institutions in order to impose the acceptance of a fallacy as reality in thousands of particular cases, because simply each fallacy is per case necessary for the Anglo-French socioeconomic, political, cultural and academic interests.
Orientalism: the Supreme Stage of Colonialism
The interconnectedness between Western Orientalist historiography and Western political interference in parts of Asia and Africa is absolute. The fallacies diffused as History were all premeditated; they helped promote conceptions, impose political systems, and form various states that would never threaten the economic and political interests of the West in each case.
In fact, the History of Iran as conceived and expressed through the voluminous Cambridge History of Iran, and similar leading publications, represents a very false contextualization of the historical data. Worse, the final outcome was beforehand indexed to the English colonial interests in South and South-Western Asia. In fact, with the same data, one could compose a completely different History of South-Western Asia. This is critically important for the Azeri intellectuals and historians, theoreticians and politicians.
Historical "Iran" is a Fake.
With the same easiness with which colonial historians call the historical developments in the area in question as "History of Iran", a non colonial historian can name them "History of Adhurbadhagan" (or Azerbaijan or Atropatene).
I will limit my references to pre-Islamic times precisely because the presence of Turkic nations and dynasties during the Islamic Ages is accepted as overwhelming.
In fact, the division of the pre-Islamic times into Achaemenid, Macedonian (Alexander and Seleucid), Arsacid Parthian, and Sassanid Iranian eras, after the various dynasties, help establish a very ill-conceived historiography that evolves around persons and not ideas or beliefs. Yet, every person’s participation in, and contribution to, the historical developments hinges on that person’s ideas and beliefs.
However, the prevalence of provinces, capital cities, faiths, and major social – religious – political practices is fully revealed as the seminal reality that shapes the historical developments. This is deduced through a proper study and unbiased research, as it is the ultimate and pertinent reflection of the historical sources.
The Prevalence of Atropatene in Pre-Islamic Times
Trying to draw a suggestive diagram of an alternative historiography of the Pre-Islamic South-Western Asia, we have to take into consideration several key factors.
Azerbaijan – Atropatene – Adhurbadhagan was identified as land of civilization and culture before the political rise of Fars (Persia).
Azerbaijan’s current political situation is not the beginning point for the elaboration of a National Historiography of Azerbaijan; it is the end, it must be the outcome of the whole process.
More specifically, Azerbaijan, as an independent state does not and should not play any role in the delineation of the historical borders of Azerbaijan as High Place of Culture and Religion in Western Asia.
Even the borderline of the territories currently inhabited by Azeris in South Azerbaijan (in today’s Iran) plays a limited role in defining where the importance of the diachronic center of Azerbaijan lies.
A Rivalry Among Monotheists and Polytheists
For approximately 1500 years before the arrival of Islam (642 CE), socioeconomic, political, and cultural – behavioural developments in the vast area delineated by the rivers Tigris, Aras, Oxus and Indus were characterized by the clash between monotheistic and polytheistic concepts. One of the most significant persons who defined these developments was Zoroaster; undoubtedly, he established the most referential system of faith and values for all the different peoples and nations of the aforementioned area.
Zoroaster’s identification with Azerbaijan – Atropatene – Adhurbadhagan was undeniable in the Antiquity and the Islamic Ages. The land was considered sacred due to Zoroaster’s birth, and Adhar Ghushnap (rather known as Praaspa in Ancient Greek and Latin, today’s Takht-e Suleiman) was the holiest place for the entire empire that we call Iran but perceive – very mistakenly – as an extension of Fars (Persia).
Adhar Ghushnap; the Diachronic Religious Capital of Atropatene / Azerbaijan
With the imperial capital at either Persepolis, Ctesiphon or Istakhr, the religious center of the multi-ethnic empire of the Achaemenids, the Arsacids or the Sassanids was always at Adhar Ghushnap. As the monotheistic center par excellence, Adhar Ghushnap opposed the rise of Mithraism (at the end of the Achaemenid era, 550 – 330 BCE) and the rise of Manichaeism (at the dawn of the Sassanid times, 224 – 651 CE).
Zendism, as an adaptation of Zoroastrianism at the level of moral and political philosophy of the Arsacid Parthian times (250 BCE – 224 CE), must have also emanated from Adhar Ghushnap.
Mazdeism, a religious system that succeeded the tolerant Zendism of the Parthians and became the nationalistic political ideology of the Sassanids, became valid because it bore all the insignia ascribed to the Throne of the Peacock by the priesthood of Adhar Ghushnap.
On Foot from Ctesiphon to Adhar Ghushnap…
We know very well that every Sassanid emperor, once coronated, had to walk with his custody and move on foot (never riding) from Ctesiphon to Adhar Ghushnap in order to get the religious corroboration of his rise to the throne.
In fact, the entire Iranian empire evolved around Atropatene, and the overstressed importance of Fars relates merely to modern colonial historiography that had to establish an "Indo-European" empire in the place of a non – racist imperial institution that was preponderantly of monotheistic religious character.
Beyond its religious significance, Atropatene comprised the most illustrious Antiquity of the plateau, namely Mannaean (centered at Hasanlu in the southern confines of the Lake Uumiyeh) and Median (evolving around Hangmatana, Ecbatana – Hamedan, which retained its great importance during the Achaemenid and the Arsacid times as parallel capital of the empire).
Tasks for Modern Azeri National Historiographers
It would therefore be necessary for the posterior foundation of a comprehensive National History of Azerbaijan to first rewrite the entire pre-Islamic History of the plateau in order to
1. de-Persianize its flawed contents
2. re-orientate its altered prerogatives
3. reflect properly the historical sources
4. establish a History of ideas, concepts, faiths and ideologies, instead of a mere succession of socio-economic and political events, and
5. reveal the focal role played by Atropatene for no less than 15 centuries before the arrival of Islam.
This would help re-baptize the fake "History of Pre-Islamic Iran" into "History of Pre-Islamic Atropatene / Azerbaijan", and rename the plateau as Atropatene / Azeri Plateau (instead of Iranian Plateau).
When Fars will be reduced to its real level of historical veracity, and perceived as of secondary importance when compared to the Achaemenid, Arsacid and Sassanid times’ Atropatene, the modern Azeri historiography will offer Azerbaijan its true History and diachronic Identity that incorporated all the peoples and nations that happened to inhabit it, sharing the same 3000-year old Heritage.
Note -- An interesting video demonstrates the modern Azeris’ thirst for a true reassessment of their past and a fair development of national historiography:
About The Author: Dr. Muhammad Shamsaddin Megalommatis - is Orientalist, Assyriologist, Egyptologist, Iranologist, Islamologist, Historian and Political Scientist. Dr. Megalommatis, 52, is the author of 12 books, dozens of scholarly articles, hundreds of encyclopedia entries, and thousands of articles. He speaks, reads and writes more than 15, modern and ancient, languages.
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