On the Great Scholar Patricia Crone and the Origins of Persian Islam

One of Patricia Crone’s achievements in her magnificent book on Iran in the aftermath of the Islamic conquest is to shed new light on sex on the Iranian plateau. Over some 50 densely argued pages toward the end of The Nativist Prophets of Early Islamic Iran, using sources, besides Herodotus, that range from hostile Muslim missionaries to Buddhist pilgrims, she establishes that polyandry, the lending of wombs, and the renting of inseminators were not uncommon and that incestuous marriage was encouraged under Zoroastrian law. Notwithstanding the physical effects of inbreeding, the consequences were not all bad; property was protected over generations and infertile couples raised children. But the Persians’ habitual detractors (the Greeks and, later on, the Arabs) ignored such practicalities in favor of shock and titillation, repeating when it suited them the Persian axiom that a woman is like a sprig of basil whose fragrance does not diminish if it is passed around. There were other analogies—to fruits, utensils, wells, roads, even ships.

The story of morally dissolute Persians is as old as Persia itself. Thus, in the fifth century B.C., we find Xanthus of Lydia (who had lived under Persian occupation) reporting that “when a man wants to take another man’s wife as his own, he does so without force or secrecy but with mutual consent and approval.” The medieval heresiographer al-Baghdadi described an Iranian religious group, the Khurramis (from khurram din, or “joyous religion”), as permitting any pleasure, no matter how abominable, provided it did not harm others. Both these statements were misleading, if not untrue. Law and custom regulated sexual intercourse; life was no bacchanal. More recently, in the 1970s, the pious Iraqis of Basra regarded Abadan, the Iranian refinery town just across the border, as crawling with sex. This, too, was an exaggeration.

via On the Great Scholar Patricia Crone and the Origins of Persian Islam

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About OyiaBrown

Please send me, as a comment to this page, any old material you have for inclusion in The Daily Joke Alert - to help enable us all to have our fancy tickled regularly! Never mind the state it's in as I tidy everything up prior to publication. Don't let good material go to waste - and so much does. In the interests of the environment we should always try to re-cycle everything, especially jokes. You know that makes sense! You may find some historical stuff here, but this does not really matter as humor is fairly timeless.

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