Speaking to the website of the Strategic Council on Foreign Relations about the impact of Persian language on better understanding Iranian culture and civilization and attracting the attention of world public opinion, Dr. Mohammad Shoja Khani noted: The phenomenon of globalization is recognized as one of the most prominent features of the contemporary period due to its complex nature. It has had a great impact on all nations and societies. In the meantime, language as a communicative phenomenon, an element of identity in national and international arena has not remained unaffected by globalization and has undergone many changes in the light of political, social, economic and cultural developments.
Language Education & Influence Is Culmination of Cultural Authority
He stated that Persian language and literature as a document of identity and the most important cultural backdrop enjoys numerous capacities, adding: The real authority in today’s world is cultural authority and such authority can be reached with education and influence of language and literature in the world. Therefore, the spread of Persian language and literature in the world is one of the most important cultural strategies of the country in the international arena.
Shoja Khani considered Iran’s literary works and its spiritual assets one of the most valuable artistic heritages of Iranian identity. This precious legacy contains the richest philosophical, mystical, verbal aesthetic ideas, and is rich in the most delicate mystical reflections and feelings.
Shoja Khani who has served as Iranian cultural adviser in Zimbabwe, referring to the Supreme Leader’s remarks that scientific progress in the country should be used to expand Persian language influence and the Persian language should be expanded, said: “This rich language had expanded and influenced Afghanistan, Pakistan, the Indian Subcontinent and as far as the borders of China, Central Asia, Transoxiana, Turkey and even the Balkans and has been an important means of cultural communication between the various nations of the East. The Persian language along the Silk Road and other communication routes has created a history of cultural exchange and regional cohesion.
Persian as Iran’s Bridge with Regional States
He also said that today in the cultural ties of the countries of the region, Persian language is the bridge of communication with countries such as Pakistan, India, Turkey, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Afghanistan. Prominent figures such as Ghazi Nazar al-Islam, national poet of Bangladesh, Allameh Iqbal Lahori of Pakistan, Amir Khosro Dehlavi of India and many others are the fruit of this cultural connection.
Iranian Culture & Civilization Domain One of the Most Important Strategic Areas in the World
Shoja Khani added: Iranian culture and civilization is one of the strategic and important areas in the world and historical and cultural studies indicate that despite the geographical boundaries the culture, civilization and language of its people originated from the Persian language of Iranian culture.
Director General of Scientific and Academic Cooperation of the Organization of Islamic Culture and Communications, stating that the people of the region were once part of Iran in terms of sovereignty and politics and are now in the domain of Persian language in terms of culture and civilization, added: The people of the region have always had something in common with Iran as a whole. In these very lands we have many Persian speaking poets who are the co-creators of Persian poetry all of whom feed from the clear spring of empathy.
He emphasized the necessity of using such capacities and said: Iran enjoys many advantages among its neighboring countries, such as ritualism, geographical proximity, cultural and historical commonalities, and linguistics similarities with some ethnic groups, such as Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan and noted the presence of Iranians.
Shoja Khani also talked about the causes of the declining power of the Persian language: In the current situation, since there is an economic justification for everything, there are rarely people who want to learn Persian just because they love it. They often look for languages that can help them economically, and Persian doesn’t have that appeal to those who want to do business.
Persian Language A Tool to Strengthen Foreign Relations
Concerning how to use Persian as a tool to strengthen Iran’s foreign relations, he noted: Holding joint conferences in the field of Persian language and literature between countries where the Persian language was or is still present, as well as encouraging those interested in the field of civilizations of ancient Iranian history to learn Persian in order to gain more information resources in this field can be effective in this direction.
In response to the question of how to develop and maintain Persian language, Shoja Khani explained: Strengthening and institutionalizing educational and research activities related to teaching Persian language such as training of teachers and lecturers and native translators, examining capacities and damages existing in the development of the Persian language and formulating a strategic plan for the development of the Persian language regionally or nationally as well as utilizing native capacities including educational, research, media and cultural centers to promote and expand Persian language and literature can be very effective in this regard.
He emphasized the necessity of developing research and study centers of Persian language regionally, as well as developing standard scientific methods and up-to-date teaching of Persian and Iranian studies to foreigners and said: Consider the potential of cyberspace to develop Persian and Iranian studies. The development of educational resources and educational software appropriate to different linguistic and cultural areas and the optimal use of cyberspace capacity for the development of Persian and Iranian studies should also be on the agenda.
Reasons for Failure to Develop Persian Language
Director of Scientific and Academic Cooperation of the Organization for Culture and Communication on the reasons for Iran’s failure in the past stated that there are no specialized Persian language teaching resources in foreign universities. Unfortunately, insufficient funds are allocated in this field and the parallelism of its institutions and administrators and the need for interaction and overlap between trustees and institutions must also be taken into account. In addition, employment is also essential for Farsi-speaking graduates in the country.
Shoja Khani said countries that are politically hindering Iranian influence also adopt the same policy toward developing Persian language in their country and even filter Persian-language websites.
“I remember the European Iranian Studies Association held a course on Iranian studies at the Open University of Berlin but they did not even invite anyone from the Iranian embassy in Germany for political reasons. Unfortunately, this view creates obstacles in this direction and they want people to pay less attention to Persian.”
Learning Persian Language an Obstacle in the Way of Iranophobia
He said that in their view, if their citizens learn Farsi and want to use it, they can have direct access to Persian resources, which is not very pleasing to politicians.
Former Iranian cultural advisor in Zimbabwe, saying that we had many people who had changed their mindset after traveling to Iran and would no longer accept dominant propaganda in this regard, added: “They found the Iranian people peaceful and hospitable and said they had a different image about Iran because the Western media are giving a wrong picture of Iran with an aim to propagate Iranophobia.
Referring to the publication of a book entitled “Searching for Hassan,” he said: “This book is a story about a family that had been in Iran before the (1979) revolution and left Iran after the revolution. Years later, they returned to Iran with their servant “Hassan” and were so impressed that they wrote a book of their memories that was all praise for the Iranian people.