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Pious Citizens

Reforming Zoroastrianism in India and Iran

Monica Ringer is assistant professor of history and Asian languages and civilizations at Amherst College. She is the author of Education, Religion, and the Discourse of Cultural Reform in Qajar Iran.

Publication Year: 2011

Pious Citizens explores Zoroastrian religious reform India and Iran as a window onto the transformation of the nature and function of religion that occurred in the nineteenth and early twentieth-centuries.

Published by: Syracuse University Press

Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. ix-x


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pp. xi-xii


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pp. xiii-xviii

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Introduction: Modernity, Religion, and the Production of Knowledge

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pp. 1-29

Even before the infamous reelection of Iranian president Ahmadinejad in 2009, the Zoroastrian symbol of the Fravahar enjoyed currency among opponents of the Islamic Republic, Muslim and Zoroastrian alike. Sporting the Fravahar on a necklace or pinned boldly on a chador established a certain ideological...

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1. Bombay and Murmurs of Reform: Religion as “Civilization” and “Progress"

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pp. 30-46

The Parsi community in India initiated reforms in the nineteenth century largely as a result of British impact in the region. Th e rise of Bombay as the premier port on the western littoral and the unique relationship between the British and the Parsis in that city had profound effects on the Zoroastrian community...

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2. The Protestant Challenge to Zoroastrianism

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pp. 47-70

Scholarly interest in Zoroastrianism, the developing field of linguistics, and Christian missionary activity in India combined to form a powerful challenge to Zoroastrian religious tradition. Parsis were forced to reconsider their practices and beliefs in light of new scholarly analyses of their religious texts...

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3. The Parsi Response: Rational Religion and the Rethinking of Tradition

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pp. 71-90

The impetus behind the Parsi religious reform movement derived from both the missionary debates as well as the effects of British schooling on a new generation of Parsis. Reform thus resulted from external theological attacks on existing beliefs and practices that necessitated defense and response. It also had an internal...

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4. Western Religious Studies Scholarship

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pp. 91-109

Religious studies as a “scientific” discipline originated in Europe in the nineteenth century. Max Müller, Albert Réville, E. Tylor, Émile Durkheim, and George Fraser were just some of the most prominent of the scholars who grappled with and, in so doing, shaped the discipline of religious studies. The prevalent...

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5. Parsi Religious Reform in the Second Generation: The Recovery of “True” Religion

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pp. 110-141

This chapter concerns itself with the second generation of Parsi religious scholars and the discourse surrounding religion roughly between the years 1900 and 1940. This generation was characterized by a number of features that set it apart from the earliest Zoroastrian reformers discussed previously. This new generation...

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6. The Parsi Rediscovery of Ancient Iran

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pp. 142-162

In the middle of the nineteenth century, Parsi reform-minded philanthropists took the first steps toward reestablishing ties with their coreligionists in Iran.1 What began as an effort to improve Iranian Zoroastrians’ living conditions quickly mushroomed into a full-blown operation to reorganize and reform...

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7. Iranian Nationalism and the Zoroastrian Past

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pp. 163-183

Twentieth-century Iran witnessed the fruition and intensification of nineteenth-century reform eff orts. Islamic law was largely, although not entirely, secularized, providing greater legal equality and the end of sartorial and other socioeconomic restrictions on religious minorities. Iranian nationalism was adopted as the...

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8. Kay Khosrow Shahrokh: Rational Religion and Citizenship in Iran

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pp. 184-195

Kay Khosrow Shahrokh in many ways defined his time, both as the product of new infl uences and as the agent of change himself. In addition to serving as the head of the Zoroastrian anjoman in Tehran and as Zoroastrian representative to the Majles for thirteen sessions, he was deeply engaged in religious issues. He...

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Conclusion: Religion and the Creation of Pious Citizens

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pp. 196-234

Over the course of the period 1830–1940 Zoroastrian reformers in India and Iran arrived at a remarkable consensus concerning the form and function of enlightened (that is, rational) religion. What had begun as an act of self-defense against Protestant missionaries and their claims to ownership of “true” religion...


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pp. 235-244


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pp. 245-260


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pp. 261-273

Back Cover

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E-ISBN-13: 9780815650607
E-ISBN-10: 0815650604
Print-ISBN-13: 9780815632641
Print-ISBN-10: 0815632649

Page Count: 280
Illustrations: 12
Publication Year: 2011

Edition: 1