A Brief History of Iran with Kamin Mohammadi

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A Brief History of Iran with Kamin Mohammadi 

Join tutor Kamin Mohammadi for the Idler Academy’s “A Brief History of Iran” online course.

Iranian-British journalist and author Kamin Mohammadi takes you on a whistle stop tour of the complete history of Iran.

Discover the roots of this ancient nation with agricultural pre-Persian tribes. Meet Cyrus the Great in 550BC and learn about the first, second and third Great Persian Empires. Follow the invasions of the Greeks, the Mongols and the Arabs; meet Alexander the Great and Genghis Khan and see how the Arabs brought Iran its great love of Islam.

You’ll find out about the great dynasties of the Sassanids, Safavids, Qajars, and Pahlavis. You’ll hear about the ‘Iranian Napoleon’ Nader Shah. You’ll visit beautiful palaces, read the great poets, admire Persian architecture and find stolen jewels.

And we finish the story with the last Shah, the revolution, the Islamic Republic, Iraq war and today’s protests for women’s freedoms.

The Idler Academy’s “A Brief History of Iran” is accompanied with course notes, reading list, a quiz and a live Q&A session for all students.

About the Tutor

Kamin Mohammadi is an Iranian Kurd who fled to London following the revolution in 1979.

She is a journalist, broadcaster, editor and public speaker, and has written two memoirs, The Cypress Tree: A Love Letter to Iran which is about Iran, her family and growing up there, and Bella Figura: How to Live Love and Eat Like an Italian which is about her new life in Italy.

Kamin also teaches the Idler Academy online course “How To Live and Eat Like an Italian” and is a regular tutor on Idler Retreats. She has been nominated for an Amnesty Human Rights in Journalism award in the UK, and for a National Magazine Award by the American Society of Magazine Editors in the US.

What you Get

On-demand videos: nine video lessons to watch any time

Live online session: Meet the Tutor Q&A with Kamin Mohammadi

Audio: the option to download and listen to the lessons in podcast form

Downloadable notes: in your printable notes you’ll find an overview of the course, a timeline of the history of Iran, and an extensive bibliography for further reading

Exclusive course forum: here you can chat and swap tips with fellow students from the Idler community

Quiz: test what you’ve learned with our fun multiple choice quiz

Certificate: when you pass the quiz you will be sent a personalised Idler Academy Certificate of Completion


Course Outline

Lesson One: Introduction (14 minutes)

Kamin describes the geography of this huge country with its mountain ranges, deserts, beautiful cities and varying climates. We find the roots of Iranian culture in pre-Persian Aryan and non Aryan tribes, the Assyrians, the Meads, and the Achanades – peace loving, art loving, and agricultural.

Lesson Two: The First and Second Persian Empires (25 minutes)

We visit the first great Persian Empire which stretched from the Danube to the Ganges.

Lesson Three: The Arab Invasion (18 minutes)

In this lesson, we meet Genghis Khan and Kamin tells us about the Muslim conquest of Persia and the third great Persian empire.

Lesson Four: The Shahnameh and Persian Poetry (14 minutes)

Ferdowsi’s Shahnameh is the Aeneid and the Odyssey of Persia. In this lesson we find out about the stories it tells. We learn about some of the other great Persian poets and how Persianate art, literature and architecture spread west.

Lesson Five: Safavid Iran (15 minutes)

In this lesson we find out about the fourth great Persian Empire and how Iran became Shia not Sunni. We see their beautiful city Esfahan.

Lesson Six: Nader Shah – the Napoleon of Iran (7 minutes)

Nader Shah is called the Iranian Napoleon. He conquered India and took the Peacock Throne and the “Koh-i-Noor” diamond – later stolen by Great Britain and now in the Tower of London! We see Mughal India springing from Persian roots.

Lesson Seven: The Qajar Dynasty (28 minutes)

In this lesson Kamin tells how Reza Shah Pahlavi came to power. He officially changed the name from the colonial Persia to Iran, which is what Iran has always been called inside the country. He forced the unveiling of women and admired his modernising Muslim neighbour Attaturk in Turkey.

Lesson Eight: The Pahlavi Dynasty (23 minutes)

Here we learn the story of the last Shah, Mohammad Reza Shah and his relationship with the West. We find out about Prime Minister Mossadegh, the Oil Nationalisation Crisis and Mohammad Reza Shah’s coronation, with his third wife Farah Diba as Empress. Ayatollah Khomeini is exiled. We see a new modern Iran and the affluence of its middle class. There’s a “White Revolution”, and even universal suffrage, but the changes are from top down.

Lesson Nine: The Islamic Republic (49 minutes)

Kamin explores the reasons for the revolution.  We see Ayatollah Khomeini’s return to Iran and the influence on him of the ideas of the Islamic intellectual Shariat. Kamin takes us through the 1979 referendum and the beginning of the Islamic Republic. We look at the relevance and context for women of the mandatory hijab and the repeal of the Marriage Act. Saddam Hussein attacks. The Iran Iraq war begins and lasts eight years. Kamin explains the “Green Wave”, the origin of the protests today, the one million signatures campaign by women and the morality police.

Meet the Tutor: This is your chance to meet Kamin Mohammadi and ask questions. 28 February 2023 at 5pm (45 minutes)

Everyone enrolled on this course and all Idler Academy members will receive an invitation to this exclusive event. You will find more information and a booking link on the course page.