Jewish Identities in Iran: Resistance and Conversion to Islam and the Baha’i Faith 9780755608614, 9781845118914

For minority faith groups living in nineteenth-century Iran, religious conversion to Islam - both voluntary and forced -

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English Pages [293] Year 2011

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Jewish Identities in Iran: Resistance and Conversion to Islam and the Baha’i Faith
 9780755608614, 9781845118914

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To the Memory of Mousa Amanat

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FOREWORD

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his book is an attempt to examine the roots of conversion to Islam and the Baha’i faith among Iran’s Jews during the past two centuries, and the related question of the changing nature of religious identity during this period. Despite its continuing relevance, conversion is marked with shame and its mention is even considered “impolite” among both converts and the loyal faithful. Converts generally wish to present a homogeneous community free of past differences, while defenders of tradition see conversion as apostasy and a betrayal of age-old traditions which causes harm to their ancestral faith. Losing members to a new religion carries a negative weight and shaming nonconformists is a potent means of protecting conventions.