Zoroastrians - Economy

Subsistence and Commercial Activities. Until the nineteenth century, Zoroastrians were forbidden to follow any skilled trade or craft that could bring them into close contact with Muslims. The elder generation of contemporary Zoroastrians consists mostly of farmers, especially among those living in the villages. Because of educational opportunities made available during the Pahlavi dynasty, however, most Zoroastrians occupy various positions as teachers, doctors, engineers, bank clerks, private entrepreneurs, and the like. Owing to their improved economic status, Zoroastrians began to donate part of their wealth toward the construction of schools, hospitals, cultural centers, and places of worship. As in India, most Zoroastrians enjoy good reputations, owing to their honesty. Because many of Iran's professionals are Zoroastrians, their per capita income is above that of the rest of the Iranian population.

Industrial Arts. There are no specific industrial activities associcated with Zoroastrians.

Trade. Until the 1860s, Zoroastrians were not allowed to trade; they were thus forced to hide various goods in their cellars and sell them secretly. In the early 1900s they were given permission to trade in hostelries. These restrictions have been lifted, and many Zoroastrians are participating in various forms of trade.

Division of Labor. The women are mainly responsible for performing domestic duties and bringing up the children. The degree to which a woman contributes to the family income depends on the level of education of the head of the household. If the husband has had a college education, he is usually more tolerant of a woman finding a job and contributing to the finances of the household. Under the Islamic Republic of Iran, however, different means have been developed to force women to remain at home. Family-protection laws have been abolished, and abortion has been outlawed; women have been dismissed from high positions in the government and in the private sector; coeducation and coed sports have been banned; women have been prevented from participating in public tournaments; and an Islamic code of dress has been imposed on women, regardless of their religious orientation (Nashat 1980).

Land Tenure. Following the Islamic Revolution of 1979—1980, there was widespread confiscation of land, especially from those who were associated with the previous government of the Pahlavi dynasty. Private lands were seized and were to be transferred to villagers. In October 1986 the Iranian Majlis (the lower house of Parliament) approved the Temporary Cultivation Bill. This bill provides for the transfer of lands that had been seized immediately after the Revolution from owners to cultivators; however, the transfers have not been completed (Bakhash 1989).

User Contributions:

Comment about this article, ask questions, or add new information about this topic: