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Progress in Learning in Iran

We will deal later with the state of learning and progress in this field during the Sassanids period as concerning scientific and industrial progress in the Achaeminid period in Iran, no substantial evidence is available. However, what is certain is that Darius could not have succeeded in administering such an extensive realm, without a stock of knowledge and learning. However, are particular aspect which occurs in historical evidence is that the sovereigns of Iran seemed to have cherished the idea that all the civilised lands of that time would eventually become part of Iran even though two other states existed. 27 Thus we witness that the great physician of that time is a Greek, and the renowned geographer who was sent to the Sind valley by Darius to .survey that land, and prepare a report, was, too, a Greek.

Even the best and the finest of warriors of that time were Greek, the reason being that in Darius' mind these subjects were not non-Iranians, but were regarded as citizens of the greater Iran. Therefore, it did not occure to Darius and other kings that the people of central region who lived close to the seat of the government should remain among the artisans and tradesmen of the fourth class, while physician, clerks, and warriors should be from Greece, Egypt and outlying regions! So the scholars were brought from the outer regions of the empire while locals comprised the artisans and craftsmen. It is for this reason that the history of that time fails to indicate any outstanding Iranian scholar who was not of Greek, Egyptian or Indian stock. That does not mean of course that such individuals did not exist.

Very little historical evidence is available and addedly, most of the available sources are of Greek origin, and the Greeks were not behind others in holding nationalistic prejudice - if anything, they were well ahead in this respect. Therefore, it becomes difficult to reach a verdict in this matter. Anyhow from the point of view of academic learning, no distinguished scholars in particular fields appear in Iran or in India or in Ionia, in the south of Turkey near the Mediterranean, who could equal the personalities from Phoenicia, Chaldea, Assyria, Greece and Egypt. In Phoenicia, which included a part of Lebanon, Syria, Palestine and a small portion of Jordan as well, we come across such individuals who were superior to Iran in learning. From the economic aspect, too, they enjoyed better conditions, and were richer and more prosperous than Arabia.

27. In the time of Darius, western Rome was of no significance, and the civilised lands of those days included a small Greece, and to some extent the island of Sicily and southern part of Italy and Rome which were collectively of little account.

Adapted from the book: "Background of the Birth of Islam" by: "S. T. H. Khwarazmi"

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