No country in the Islamic Middle East presents as unique and distinguished a history and culture as Iran, which has managed to maintain its inherent characteristics--some of them from pre-Islamic times--over the course of centuries of changing dynasties and rulers. The Shiite faith, the official religion of Persia/Iran since 1501, stands in contrast to the Sunni Arabs who dominate the greater region. Although in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries,Iran endured ongoing political, military and economic pressure from European powers, Shiism and Persian culture remained intact and it escaped colonialism. And, following the revolution of 1979, Iran became the first Islamic Republic.
Monika Gronke presents the history of this country from the Islamization of the 7th century to the present in a clear and lively style, and describes the cultural, social, and religious developments that shaped Iran and the Iranian self-image.