Recent City development and urbanization in Mashhad has created a complex set of social, economical, cultural and political issues. As a result, planners and policy makers require interdisciplinary studies in city planning in order to face the current issues scientifically and accurately. So, anthropology as the knowledge of studying culture can play an important role in interdisciplinary studies in urban issues. In this regard, we did our best to arrange an interview with Dr. Ebrahim Fayyaz who is the faculty member of Social Sciences of Tehran University. The present interview aims at recognizing Mashhad anthropology components and features as well as a thorough comprehension of the city cultural capacities for fundamental studies in city planning.
_ In your opinion how anthropology studies are important in the present and future planning and policy making of Mashhad in order to recognize Mashhad culture and historical identity?
Nowadays historical and anthropological studies of different nations and tribes play an important role in recognizing civilizational, cultural, economical and political grounds for planning and policy making for nations comprehensive development. This is more important regarding Iran and especially Mashhad despite requirements and preliminaries of developments based on people tradition orientation, unbounded history and geography, presence of different tribes and peaceful life of religions and believes as well as Iranian culture fertility in Middle East, Asia and Europe. Another reason is that in case we want to have enough and accurate recognition regarding Iran and Mashhad present status in order to be able to plan and make policies for future of Iran and Mashhad, anthropological studies are inevitable. In anthropological studies two aspects of history and geography are always paid attention by Anthropologists. In case we decide to view Mashhad from these two aspects it should be said that Mashhad is the most educated city of Iran as during the history it maintained our national identity. So it can be said that is assumed to be a supporter for Iran civilization. It should be mentioned that by referring to Mashhad I mean Khorassan which nowadays it is representative of Khorassan.
_ why do you consider Mashhad or Khorassan as Iran civilization supporter?
Mashhad is assumed to be a supporter for Iran civilization due to several reasons. First of all, in historical aspect, Mashhad has always been a strategic city during the history such that in every period which a civilization is formed it has been started from Khorassan. For instance The Parthians who established their empire after Aexander attack were from Khorassan which itself is the ground for Sasanid dynasty establishment in Shiraz. Also after Islam, civilization started from Khorassan then it was handed to Samanid, Taherid and then the whole of Iran. The other aspect refers to protection from Persian language. Language has always been the most important factor in establishing, protecting and developing a civilization. Therefore, Khorassan has always supported Persian language during history. Persian language has started from Mashhad and then it was handed to Shiraz, i.e. it has been started from Ferdowsi and reached to Sa’di and Hafez, exactly the same as the Parthians which started from Mashhad then it reached to Fars and there Sasanid dynasty was found. So it can be said that Mashhad was the beginning point of civilization.
From geography point of view Mashhad is assumed to be Iran civilization supporter because the new appearance of Mashhad with regards to Eurasia is very important. Eurasia or the connection between Europe and Asia means that Germans assume their civilization origin in East, so for such a purpose they proposed Eurasia. For proving this I have found a book in Germany which was published in 1988. According to this book all those roads and airports which Germans consider important for the future of Eurasia were all placed in Mashhad. After Germans defeated in the Second World War and they became marginalized, England and other Saxon countries found the power so Eurasia plan was ended up. While nowadays due to the weakness of England and Saxons as well as the controversy between Germans and Saxons, Germans have been empowered for achieving its past civilization which is rooted in East. The West which Germans demand start from Eastern Europe and ended in Afghanistan. In case we draw a line in Iran from Tabriz to Zahedan, then the Western part ended in Middle East or Western Asia and the Eastern part ended up in Eurasia. If you pay more attention you will come up with the fact that whoever takes the office in Russia, his first trip would be Germany and whoever takes the office in Germany, his first trip would be arranged for Russia. As a result, in future Saxons will be weakened and Russian and Germany will become powerful and they will be integrated. Eastern Europe also join to Russia and Eurasia. So in case we consider the line which ended up in Eurasia (from Tabriz to Zahedan), and if we consider a triangle in this area the top of this triangle will be in Mashhad. Therefore, Mashhad is assumed to be one of Eurasia biggest city.
The next point regarding the importance of Mashhad in Eurasia is that state- nation theory which was based on geographical borders is going to be collapsed. Thus Mashhad itself will be faced to the world independently. For making this clear I narrate the story of Dubai and Emirates. Which one is more important now? Dubai or Emirates? Although Dubai is a city in Emirates and its capital is Abu Dhabi, Dubai is becoming a global city which is free of state- nation geographical boundaries. Anyway, from geographical point of view, Mashhad is a center of gravity in Eurasia and in this region there is no more prosperious city than Mashhad, a city which can play a significant role among people in Eurasia in a near future. Hence, I suggest that Mashhad can be the center of Eurasia studies in Iran with the help of Russians and/or Middle Asia.
So, we can claim that Mashhad or Khorassan is Iran civilization and re- civilization area. Therefore, in case Mashhad faces a trouble, Iran civilization will be faced to a trouble since Iran loses its civilization supporter. In contrast, in case here become active, Iran civilization supporter will become active. In other words, all todays changes and developments whether positive or negative originated in Mashhad.
In case we assume Mashhad as Iran civilization supporter, in your opinion what anthropological features and components have led to such an importance in Iran?
At first it should be mentioned that Khorassan identity should not be imagined without Mashhad, Chabahar, Zahedan, Eshghabad and Herat. Once more I emphasis that in recent decades Mashhad has been representative of Khorassan from historical, geographical and ideational aspects. If we are to talk about Mashhad people anthropological features, I have to talk about it from different angles.
One of the most important cultural and anthropological components of Mashhad is its cultural capacity in digesting different cultures. For instance in different cities immigration takes place but the point is that immigrants in different cities try to maintain their identity in the region for example Sistanis in Golestan province assume themselves as a different nationality in different aspects but in Mashhad it is different. For example Arabs, Afghans and Sistanis who have immigrated to Mashhad first of all assume themselves Mashhadi. The reason is that Mashhad is capable of digesting culture diversity in itself due to its diverse historical foundation.
The second anthropological feature of Mashhad is its communication-orientation. Accordingly Mashhad can be assumed as Iran communication arena. In other words, Mashhad language and expression system occupied a high level comparing to the whole Iran. This has a direct relationship with critical thinking in this city. In this regard Mehrzad Borojerdi has written a book about Iranian and Western intellectuals. He assumes Mashhad as a small sample of the whole of Iran when he wants to study Iranian intellectuals in 1340s and 50s and in his opinion the reason is that all Iran intellectual forces have gathered in Mashhad. Mashhadi people are more cultural and scientific people rather than political that’s why in the past and the present many experts in thinking as well as communication are from Khorassan and Mashhad. We can refer to the late Kafi, Shahid Motahari, the late Dr. Sharia’ti, the late Dr. Mo’tamed Nezhad, Ayatolah Khamene’e and et al. We can also refer to The Kutub al-Sittah that four of whom were from Khorassan. The historical reason can be the fact that during history in Umayyads, and Abbasid dynasties, Khorassan was a city which was far from their ruling center and it was on the way of commerce, so people from different places came there whether due to an escape motivation from the ruling system power or the scientific or economical motivations. There these people could have discussions in different ruling and religious issues. If you notice you will find out that Imam Reza (May peace be upon him) discussions after an exile to Khorassan had occurred in this area. Also Khorassan could not be recognized as governments’ political capital due to that critical thinking and theorizing during the history.
The other anthropological feature of Mashhad is that people are strongly sense- oriented and they enjoy commercial rationality. This feature dates back to Mashhad historical record since Khorassan was located in the path of Silk Road which was assumed to be the connecting circle of middle Asia and Far East. It also connected Samarkand, Bukhara and Herat in to Iran, I.e. Rey. The presence of Khorassan in this highway on one hand led to merchants and thinkers presence in the region and on the other hand it had been the goal of yellow- skinned attacks. So, merchants in the region as well as lack of political stability has always resulted in Khorassan and Mashhad people inclination toward commercial rationality.
According to Mashhad people anthropological features what do you suggest for making its cultural capacities practical which is in line with urban policy making?
As I mentioned earlier in case we assume Mashhad role in Eurasia future and Mashhad capacities in three domains of communication, thinking as well as commercial rationality, strategic policies should also be based on foresight and enhancing Mashhad historical and cultural features. So, in policy making as well as future studies we must pay attention to Mashhad commercial, thinking and communicative capacity and we should do our best for improving them.
One of Mashhad potentials these days is pilgrimage. So as Mashhad is a transnational city I suggest that we should think transnational. UNESCO, ISESCO and Islamic Development Bank can afford it, it means that Mashhad needs global budget. According to what have been mentioned due to its communication, thinking and pilgrimage capacity, Mashhad can be the center of Shia parliament. Hereupon, according to Shias economics it can be very effective.
Also as Mashhad people enjoy commercial rationality, as a result commercial culture is highlighted among them. Accordingly Mashhad can be the center of world and Iran Shia commercial studies center. In this regard the three directional relationship of commercial economic, transportation and pilgrimage is a very important issue because the most important issue in developing commercial economic is the formation and development of transportation and communication paths.
As a result, Mashhad must focus on educating middle class so that their capacity is escalated.