Cyrus the Great and Religious Tolerance

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“Whenever you can, act as a liberator. Freedom, dignity, wealth–these three together constitute the greatest happiness of humanity. If you bequeath all three to your people, their love for you will never die.”[1]

Vision and Motivation

In 550 B.C., Cyrus, king of Anshan, founded the Achaemenid Empire by conquering the kingdom of Media. During Cyrus's reign – from 550 until 530 B.C. – the Achaemenid territory stretched from the Balkans to Central Asia.[2] The Achaemenid Empire was the largest empire by percentage of world population in history; approximately 59 million of the world’s 112 million people at that time, i.e. 44 percent of the world population, lived under its rule.[3] It was also the most diverse and pluralistic empire in the world at the time, unifying different nations, tribes, languages, cultures and religions. Tolerance was one of its most defining characteristics.[4]

One of the most important events that happened during the reign of Cyrus was his defeat of the Babylonian king Nabonidus and subsequent conquest of Babylon. This conquest was important for two reasons. First, it gave Cyrus control of strategic trade routes in the region.[5] Second, it spurred Cyrus to issue a charter, known as the Cyrus Cylinder, through which he proclaimed his views on the rights of the nations and peoples under his rule. This action has brought Cyrus fame throughout history. The Cyrus Cylinder first describes how Cyrus and his army conquered Babylon and defeated Nabonidus. It then promises freedom of religion and worship for the diverse groups of people living in the Achaemenid Empire. Lastly, the Cylinder grants permission to those who were transferred to Babylon as prisoners of war to return to their homeland. One of the groups allowed to return was the Jewish people. The emperor even gave them financial and political support to return to their homeland and rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem.[6] For these reasons, the Cyrus Cylinder is an important legal document in history that supports religious freedom and tolerance.[7]

Professor Richard Frye, a renowned expert in Iranian and Central Asian studies, notes that “[T]he figure of Cyrus has survived throughout history as more than a great man who founded an empire. He became the epitome of the great qualities expected of a ruler in antiquity, and he assumed heroic features as a conqueror who was tolerant and magnanimous as well as brave and daring. His personality as seen by the Greeks influenced them and Alexander the Great, and, as the tradition was transmitted by the Romans, may be considered to influence our thinking even now.”[8]

 

Goals and Objectives

Cyrus was far different from other kings of his time in the ways he chose to rule. He adopted tolerance and respect for other’s beliefs, traditions, and customs as the foundations of his policies. This earned him the respect and honor of all people under his rule and secured the integrity of his world empire. After his conquest of Babylon, Cyrus introduced himself as a liberator and the legitimate successor to the vanquished king rather than a conqueror. He did not force people under his rule to change their religion or beliefs. To the contrary, by undertaking actions which supported local populations such as permitting the Jews to return to Judea, their homeland, and helping them to reconstruct the Temple in Jerusalem, Cyrus sought to establish political stability, order and peace in his vast and diverse empire.[9] The most important document portraying Cyrus as “restorer of order and messenger of peace in the world”[10] is the Cyrus Cylinder:

“My vast troops were marching peaceably in Babylon, and the whole of [Sumer] and Akkad had nothing to fear. I sought the safety of the city of Babylon and all its sanctuaries. As for the population of Babylon […, w]ho as if without div[ine intention] had endured a yoke not decreed for them, I soothed their weariness; I freed them from their bonds.”[11]

In historical Hebrew and Babylonian sources, Cyrus is referred to as a reformer and liberator in territories where rulers were deemed incompetent and a source of dissatisfaction among the people and gods. Most importantly Cyrus introduced a different approach and attitude towards religious tolerance in the region.[12] Subsequent Achaemenid emperors, for example Cambyses and Darius, continued Cyrus’s policies and allowed the satrapies (provinces of the Achaemenid Empire) to maintain their own laws, and religious and cultural values. This religious tolerance proved to strengthen the political stability and success of the Achaemenid Empire.

Many scholars believe that Cyrus's policies find their roots in Zoroastrian teachings.[13] It cannot, however, be ignored that political considerations played an important role in Cyrus policy choices. Administering the vast territories of Achaemenid Empire as well as preventing rebellions required Cyrus to pursue an ideological strategy that enabled him to collaborate with local elites. His desire to do so is one of the main reasons why Cyrus pursued a policy of allowing local customs to continue without disruption and presenting himself as the guardian of all temples and sanctuaries.[14] Time and again, Cyrus successfully co-opted local clergy and elites and incorporated them into his new ruling structure. [15]Cyrus would also grant limited local political autonomy in ways that benefited him. For example, historians believe that one of Cyrus’s purposes in allowing the Jews to return to Judea was to use them as a barrier between his dominions and those of the Egyptians.[16]

Leadership

When Cyrus the Great succeeded his father Cambyses I, it was in the capacity of ruler of the Persian district of Anshan, an important Elamite region in ancient Persia, located in today’s western Fars province. Initially, he was not a fully independent sovereign but owed allegiance to the king of Media. In 553 B.C., Cyrus rebelled against Astyages, the last Median king, with the help of some Median nobles. [17] The war between the Persians and the Medes ended in 550 B.C. with Cyrus securing a final victory over his foe and becoming the King of Persia. [18] After the conquest of Lydia – an ancient Kingdom in western Anatolia, in what is today Turkey – and Babylon, the Achaemenid Empire became a great empire ruling a large part of Asia.

In the Cylinder, Cyrus introduces himself: “I am Cyrus, king of the universe, the great king, the powerful king, king of Babylon, king of Sumer and Akkad, king of the four quarters of the world, son of Cambyses, the great king, king of the city of Anshan, grandson of Cyrus, the great king, ki[ng of the ci]ty of Anshan, descendant of Teispes, the great king, king of the city of Anshan, the perpetual seed of kingship, whose reign Bel (Marduk) and Nabu love, and with whose kingship, to their joy, they concern themselves.”[19]

Cyrus is also one of the few venerated non-Jews in the Old Testament. The text refers to him as the Lord’s “shepherd” and “anointed”: “who says of Cyrus, ‘He is my shepherd, and he shall carry out all my purpose’; and who says of Jerusalem, ‘It shall be rebuilt’, and of the temple, ‘Your foundation shall be laid.’ Thus says the Lord to his anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I have grasped to subdue nations before him and strip kings of their robes, to open doors before him-and the gates shall not be closed.”[20]

Some Islamic scholars such as Abul Kalam Azad, Allamah Tabataba’i, and Morteza Motahhari believe that “Dhul-Qarnayn” in Sura Al-Kahf of the Qur’an refers to Cyrus the Great. [21] This claim is, however, controversial. The Qur’an describes Dhul-Qarnayn as a just and divinely-chosen ruler: “Verily We established his power on earth, and We gave him the ways and the means to all ends. One (such) way he followed.”[22]

Cyrus also features prominently in various historical texts. Herodotus, the great Greek historian, writes that Iranians regarded Cyrus as “The Father” because he was a gentle ruler who provided for his subjects all things good. [23] Xenophon, the Greek historian and soldier, wrote “Cyropaedia” in the early 4th century B.C. which recounts the life and beliefs of Cyrus as an ideal and tolerant ruler. He praises Cyrus: “What other man but Cyrus, after having overturned an empire, ever died with the title of The Father from the people whom he had brought under his power? For it is plain that this is a name for one that bestows, rather than for one that takes away.” [24] Cyrus's policy of “remarkable tolerance based on a respect for individual people, ethnic groups, other religions and ancient kingdoms” was revolutionary for peoples accustomed the ruthless governing styles of the Neo-Assyrian and Neo-Babylonian empires.[25]

Civic Environment

Nabonidus, the last king of the Babylonian Empire, is referred to in historical texts as a tyrant who neglected gods and religious rites.[26] According to the Cylinder his measures angered the gods of Babylon: “he brought the daily offerings to a halt; he inter[fered with the rites and] instituted […....] within the sanctuaries. In his mind, reverential fear of Marduk, king of the gods, came to an end. He did yet more evil to his city every day; … his [people ................…], he brought ruin on them all by a yoke without relief. Enlil-of-the-gods became extremely angry at their complaints, and […] their territory.”[27] Cyrus considered himself to chosen by Marduk, the god of Babylon, to save the city: “Seeking for the upright king of his choice, he took the hand of Cyrus, king of the city of Anshan, and called him by his name, proclaiming him aloud for the kingship over all of everything.”[28]

In 597 B.C., the king of Babylon Nebuchadnezzar II invaded Judea, captured Jerusalem and sent the king of Judah along with his family, commanders, and deputies as captives to Babylon. After the appointed king of Judah rebelled against Babylon, the Babylonian king attacked Jerusalem once again in 586 B.C. [29] The story of the attack is recounted in the Old Testament: “He burned the house of the Lord, the king’s house, and all the houses of Jerusalem; every great house he burned down. All the army of the Chaldeans who were with the captain of the guard broke down the walls around Jerusalem. Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard carried into exile the rest of the people who were left in the city and the deserters who had defected to the king of Babylon—all the rest of the population. But the captain of the guard left some of the poorest people of the land to be vine-dressers and tillers of the soil.”[30] These events resulted in what is called the “Babylonian captivity.”

The Jewish people suffered greatly during their captivity in Babylon. They were persecuted both by those in authority and the masses, particularly when they first arrived in Babylon.[31] Regardless, they preserved their religious identity and spirit as a people, and hoped to return to their homeland one day. [32]

In 539 B.C., Cyrus attacked Babylon, defeated Nabonidus and placed Babylon under his rule. The Jews welcomed him as a liberator.[33]  He officially declared freedom for the Jews and allowed them to return to their homeland.[34] According to Ezra, up to 50,000 Jews returned to Judea. [35]Cyrus also allowed them to rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem and supported its reconstruction with the empire's own finances.[36] Moreover, he ordered that the valuables confiscated by Nabonidus be returned to the Jewish people.[37]

Cyrus’s edict is cited in Ezra: “‘Thus says King Cyrus of Persia: The Lord, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth, and he has charged me to build him a house at Jerusalem in Judah. Any of those among you who are of his people—may their God be with them!—are now permitted to go up to Jerusalem in Judah, and rebuild the house of the Lord, the God of Israel—he is the God who is in Jerusalem; and let all survivors, in whatever place they reside, be assisted by the people of their place with silver and gold, with goods and with animals, besides freewill-offerings for the house of God in Jerusalem.’”[38]

Not all Jews in Babylon decided to return to Judea. Many of them stayed because of their personal ties and business interests in Babylon. Under Cyrus's rule, they enjoyed freedom of religion and worship even when they remained in Babylon. [39] Cyrus’s policy of religious tolerance was not limited to the Jewish people in his kingdom. His treatment of the Jews has attracted more attention than his treatment of other peoples due to its extensive coverage in historical and religious texts, but the Cyrus Cylinder does not mention any religions by name and declares religious freedom for all people.

Outside of his religious policies, Cyrus instated a decentralized administration in his empire. He granted limited autonomy and freedom to administrative units called satrapies, which were in turn subdivided into smaller sub-units. Each of these smaller sub-units was managed by a governor. The sub-units as well enjoyed independence and autonomy in various areas including religious affairs.[40]

Message and Audience

Cyrus the Great not only established an unprecedented political system but also presented the people under his rule with a new type of relationship with their ruler: benevolence. He is remembered as a benevolent ruler for the ways he dealt with the Babylonian and Jewish peoples.[41] Cyrus’s policy of religious tolerance, recorded in the Cyrus Cylinder, allowed deported peoples to return to their homelands and restore their sanctuaries. Although the Cylinder does not mention the Jews by name, biblical accounts confirm that the Jews were among the peoples liberated by Cyrus. Cyrus ruled a vast multi-ethnic territory and sensible statecraft dictated that he allow different nations to worship their own gods and practice their own religious rites and ceremonies. His policy of religious freedom greatly contributed to his success in founding the Achaemenid Empire.[42]

The Cylinder records Cyrus's decision to allow deported peoples such as the Jews to return to their homeland: “Akkad, the land of Eshnunna, the city of Zamban, the city of Meturnu, Der, as far as the border of the land of Guti - the sanctuaries across the river Tigris - whose shrines had earlier become dilapidated, the gods who lived therein, and made permanent sanctuaries for them. I collected together all of their people and returned them to their settlements, and the gods of the land of Sumer and Akkad which Nabonidus – to the fury of the lord of the gods – had brought into Shuanna, at the command of Marduk, the great lord, I returned them unharmed to their cells, in the sanctuaries that make them happy.”[43]

In total, the Cyrus Cylinder contains three separate and important messages: it establishes racial, linguistic, and religious equality for all; it allows captives in Babylon to return to their homeland; and it permits returning gods to their sanctuaries as well as the reconstruction of destroyed temples.[44] In addition to the return of the Jews to Judea and the reconstruction of their Temple, the Cylinder also initiated the reconstruction of Babylonian temples, the return of local gods to their sanctuaries, and the removal of gods imposed on local populations from outside from local sanctuaries.

 

Outreach Activities

The Cyrus Cylinder follows a tradition that existed in Mesopotamia since before the time of Cyrus's conquest of Babylon. Under this tradition, kings began their reign with declarations of reform.[45] The reforms of Urukagina, the ruler of Lagash, circa 2350 B.C. and the codes of Ur-Nammu and Hammurabi are other examples of this tradition. The Cylinder was found during an archaeological excavation in Babylon in Iraq in 1879, and has been kept at the British Museum ever since.[46] It is often held to be the first human rights document.[47] The Cylinder has been translated into the six official languages of the UN,[48] and the Pahlavi regime gave a replica of the Cylinder to the UN as a gift. It is on display at the United Nations Headquarters in New York City.[49]

Cyrus’s policies of tolerance, justice, and religious freedom influenced many leaders during his lifetime and thereafter. Prominent leaders such as Alexander the Great, Thomas Jefferson, and Benjamin Franklin drew inspiration from Cyrus's story as recounted in the “Cyropaedia.”[50] Cambyses II, son of Cyrus the Great, followed his father’s example after gaining power and respected local gods, most notably after his conquest of Egypt. Similarly, Darius the Great used religion as a political tool to consolidate his imperial power. He respected the gods of his satrapies even though he declared himself a devotee of Ahura Mazda. Tablets written in the Elamite language found in Persepolis show that Darius allowed the followers of different religions in his territory to worship their ancestral gods and even provided them with grants from his treasury.[51] The rebuilding of the Temple in Jerusalem was also finished in the sixth year of the reign of King Darius with his financial support.[52]

Cyrus has also been a source of inspiration in the modern era. Thomas Jefferson, the third president of the United States and author of the American Declaration of Independence, and other founders of the United States adopted the progressive ideas of Cyrus the Great years before the Cyrus Cylinder was discovered. Jefferson had two copies of the “Cyropaedia,” and it influenced him to such an extent that he advised his grandson to read it; [53] this shows how important Cyrus's example was to the writers of the US Constitution. According to John Curtis, the British Museum exhibition curator, “[t]he Cyrus Cylinder and associated objects represent a new beginning for the Ancient Near East... [t]he idea of freedom of religion appealed to the founders of the United States, which was originally colonized, in part, by Europeans escaping religious persecution”[54]

Even today Cyrus the Great is considered to be one of the most influential leaders in history. In 1992, he was ranked 87 in “The 100: A Ranking of the Most Influential Persons in History,” a book written by Michael H. Hart, a Jewish American astrophysicist and author.[55] Shirin Ebadi, while accepting her Noble Peace Prize on December 10, 2003, stated: “I am an Iranian. A descendent of Cyrus the Great. The very emperor who proclaimed at the pinnacle of his power 2500 years ago that... 'he would not reign over the people if they did not wish it.' And [he] promised not to force any person to change his religion or faith and guaranteed freedom for all. The Charter of Cyrus the Great is one of the most important documents in the history of human rights.”[56]

 

Learn More

Wikipedia

Babylonian Captivity. Wikipedia. EN.

Babylonian Captivity. Wikipedia. FA.

Babylonian Captivity. Wikipedia. AR.

Cyrus the Great. Wikipedia. EN.

Cyrus the Great. Wikipedia. FA.

Cyrus the Great. Wikipedia. AR.

 

Articles & Documents

«ترجمه متن استوانه کوروش بزرگ»، ترجمه دکتر شاهرخ رزمجو، موزه بریتانیا، پاراگراف 26-24. http://www.britishmuseum.org/pdf/cyrus-cylinder_translation-persian.pdf

دریایی، تورج، «کوروش بزرگ پادشاه باستانی ایران»، ترجمه آذردخت جلیلیان، وبسایت تورج دریایی، صص 22 و 24. http://www.tourajdaryaee.com/wp-content/uploads/Daryaee-Cyrus-Persian.pdf

"The Cyrus Cylinder: Placing Law Over a Barrel." HARRIS & GREENWELL. http://www.harris-greenwell.com/uploads/HGS/Cyruscylinder.pdf

“The Cyrus Cylinder”. FEZANA Journal. 4 July 2013. http://cyruscylinder2013.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/FEZANA_Journal_2013_Summer.pdf

Netzer, Amnon. “Some Notes on the Characterization of Cyrus the Great in Jewish and Judeo-Persian Writings”. The Circle of Ancient Iranian Studies. http://www.cais-soas.com/CAIS/PDF/cyrus_charecterization_judeo-persian.pdf

Van Der Spek, R. J. “Cyrus the Great, Exiles and Foreign Gods: A Comparison of Assyrian and Persian Policies on Subject Nations”. Published in Wouter Henkelman, Charles Jones, Michael Kozuh and Christopher Woods (eds.), Extraction and Control: Studies in Honor of Matthew W. Stolper. Oriental Institute Publications. Chicago: Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago. 2014. http://dare.ubvu.vu.nl/bitstream/handle/1871/50835/Stolper_FS_22_VdSpek_Cyrus.pdf?sequence=1

News & Analysis

«اسرائیل: آشنایی با «حضرت کوروش منجی یهودیان»»، ایران­وایر، 29 سپتامبر 2013. http://iranwire.com/blogs/6264/2867/

«چرا کوروش کبير ذوالقرنين است؟»، عصر ایران، 25 فروردین 1390. http://bit.ly/1wBpTmF

«سرگذشت یهودیان ایران – نمایشگاهی در تل آویو»، دویچه وله فارسی، 20 ژانویه 2011. http://dw.de/p/QtJX

ترهون، لیا، «جفرسن و دموکراسی ایالات متحده از فرمانروای ایران باستان تأثیر پذیرفتند»،  IIP Digital ، وزارت امورخارجه ایالات متحده، 13 مارس 2013. http://iipdigital.usembassy.gov/st/persian/article/2013/03/20130313144082.html#axzz3Q2c9FZIE

"Cyrus Cylinder." British Museum Website. http://www.britishmuseum.org/explore/highlights/highlight_objects/me/c/cyrus_cylinder.aspx

  "Cyrus the Great". New World Encyclopedia. http://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Cyrus_the_Great#cite_note-15 

"The British Museum lends the Cyrus Cylinder to the National Museum of Iran." British Museum Website. 10 Sep. 2010. http://www.britishmuseum.org/about_us/news_and_press/statements/cyrus_cylinder.aspx

“Babylonian Exile”. Encyclopædia Britannica. 25 Nov. 2014. http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/47693/Babylonian-Exile

“Cyrus Cylinder: How a Persian Monarch Inspired Jefferson”. BBC News. 11 Mar. 2013. http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-21747567

“CYRUS iii. Cyrus II The Great”. Encyclopædia Iranica. 10 Nov. 2011. http://www.iranicaonline.org/articles/cyrus-iii

“History of Iran: Cyrus The Great”, Iran Chamber Society. http://www.iranchamber.com/history/cyrus/cyrus.php

Chiacu, Doina. “Cyrus Cylinder, Ancient Decree of Religious Freedom, Starts U.S. Tour”. Reuters. 7 Mar. 2013. http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/03/07/us-usa-cyrus-idUSBRE9260Y820130307

Ebadi. Shirin. “Nobel Lecture”. Nobelpriz.org. 10 Dec. 2003. http://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/peace/laureates/2003/ebadi-lecture-e.html

Eduljee, K. E. “Cyrus the Great Liberator”. Heritage Institute. http://www.heritageinstitute.com/zoroastrianism/achaemenian/cyrus.htm

Ferguson, Barbara G.B. “The Cyrus Cylinder—Often Referred to as The “First Bill of Human Rights”.” Washington Report on Middle East Affairs. May 2013. http://www.wrmea.org/2013-may/the-cyrus-cylinder%E2%80%94often-referred-to-as-the-first-bill-of-human-rights.html

Frye, Richard N. “Cyrus II | Biography - King of Persia”. Encyclopedia Britannica. http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/148758/Cyrus-II

Ghasemi, Shapour. “History of Iran: The Cyrus the Great Cylinder”. Iran Chamber Society. http://www.iranchamber.com/history/cyrus/cyrus_charter.php

Hassani, Behzad. “Human Rights and Rise of the Achaemenid Empire: Forgotten Lessons from a Forgotten Era”. The Circle of Ancient Iranian Studies. June 2007. http://www.cais-soas.com/CAIS/History/hakhamaneshian/human_rights.htm

Horne, Charles F. “History of Iran: The Kurash Prism Cyrus the Great; The decree of return for the Jews, 539 BCE”. Iran Chamber Society.  http://www.iranchamber.com/history/cyrus/cyrus_decree_jews.php

Largest empire by percentage of world population. Guinness World Records. http://www.guinnessworldrecords.com/world-records/largest-empire-by-percentage-of-world-population

Price, Roger. “What if Cyrus had not freed the Jews?”. Jewish Journal. 24 Sep. 2013. http://www.jewishjournal.com/judaismandscience/item/what_if_cyrus_had_not_freed_the_jews

Stephan, Annelisa. “Why the Cyrus Cylinder Matters Today”. The Getty Iris. 3 Oct. 2013. http://blogs.getty.edu/iris/why-the-cyrus-cylinder-matters-today

The First Global Statement of The Inherent Dignity and Equality of All, United Nations, 10 Dec. 2008. http://www.un.org/en/events/humanrightsday/2008/history.shtml

 

Books

عهد عتیق، کتاب اشعیا، مرکز پژوهش­های مسیحی. http://www.farsicrc.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=category&id=153&Itemid=170

عهد عتیق، کتاب دوم پادشاهان، مرکز پژوهش­های مسیحی. http://www.farsicrc.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=category&id=142&Itemid=159

عهد عتیق، کتاب عزرا، مرکز پژوهش­های مسیحی. http://www.farsicrc.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=category&id=145&Itemid=162

قرآن، ترجمه مهدی محیی‌الدین الهی قمشه‌ای، سوره کهف.

گزنفون، کوروش نامه، ترجمه رضا مشایخی، تریبون زمانه. https://www.tribunezamaneh.com/archives/24942

هرودوت، تاریخ هردوت، ترجمه غ. وحید مازندرانی، تهران: مرکز انتشارات علمی و فرهنگی، 1362.

Abbott, Jacob. Cyrus the Great. New York: Harper & Brothers, 1900. Print.

Aharoni, Yohanan. The Land of the Bible: A Historical Geography. Philadelphia: Westminster, 1979. Print.

Boardman, John. The Cambridge Ancient History, Volume 10: Persia, Greece and the Western Mediterranean, C. 525 to 479 B.C. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1988. Print.

Boyce, Mary. Zoroastrians, Their Religious Beliefs and Practices. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1979. Print.

Briant, Pierre. From Cyrus to Alexander: A History of the Persian Empire. Winona Lake, IN: Eisenbrauns, 2002. Print.

Dandamaev, M. A. A Political History of the Achaemenid Empire. Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1989. Print.

Farrokh, Kaveh. Shadows in the Desert: Ancient Persia at War. Oxford, U.K.: Osprey, 2007. Print.

Finkel, Irving. The Cyrus Cylinder: The King of Persia's Proclamation from Ancient Babylon. London: I. B. Taurus, 2013. Print.

Forbes, Steve, and John Prevas. Power Ambition Glory: The Stunning Parallels between Great Leaders of the Ancient World and Today -- and the Lessons You Can Learn. New York: Crown Business, 2009. Print.

Herodotus. The History of Herodotus. Trans. G. C. Macaulay. McLean, VA: IndyPublish.com, 2002. Print.

Pasachoff, Naomi E., and Robert J. Littman. A Concise History of the Jewish People. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2005. Print.

Slatyer, William. Life/death Rhythms of Ancient Empires - Climatic Cycles Influence Rule of Dynasties: A Predictable Pattern of Religion, War, Prosperity and Debt. PartridgeIndia, 2014. Print.

The Captivity of the Jews: And Their Return from Babylon. London: Religious Tract Society, 1840. Print.

Xenophon, and Larry Hedrick. Xenophon's Cyrus the Great: The Arts of Leadership and War. New York: Truman Talley /Saint Martin's, 2006. Print.

Multimedia

 «اهمیت و نقش آزادی­های مذهبی در موفقیت سیاسی کوروش کبیر»، بی بی سی فارسی، 27 اوت 2013. http://www.bbc.co.uk/persian/iran/2013/08/130827_l93_cyrus_book

«نیل مک گرگور: 2600 سال تاریخ در یک شی»، تد، ژوئیه 2011، http://www.ted.com/talks/neil_macgregor_2600_years_of_history_in_one_object?language=fa

 

[1] Xenophon, and Larry Hedrick. Xenophon's Cyrus the Great: The Arts of Leadership and War. New York: Truman Talley /Saint Martin's, 2006. 119. Print.

[2] Ferguson, Barbara G.B. “The Cyrus Cylinder—Often Referred to as The “First Bill of Human Rights”.” Washington Report on Middle East Affairs. May 2013. http://www.wrmea.org/2013-may/the-cyrus-cylinder%E2%80%94often-referred-to-as-the-first-bill-of-human-rights.html

[3] Largest empire by percentage of world population. Guinness World Records. http://www.guinnessworldrecords.com/world-records/largest-empire-by-percentage-of-world-population

[4] Barbara G.B. Ferguson. Ibid.

[5] Forbes, Steve, and John Prevas. Power Ambition Glory: The Stunning Parallels between Great Leaders of the Ancient World and Today -- and the Lessons You Can Learn. New York: Crown Business, 2009. 34. Print.

[6] «اسرائیل: آشنایی با «حضرت کوروش منجی یهودیان»»، ایران­وایر، 29 سپتامبر 2013. http://iranwire.com/blogs/6264/2867/

[7] "The Cyrus Cylinder: Placing Law Over a Barrel." HARRIS & GREENWELL. http://www.harris-greenwell.com/uploads/HGS/Cyruscylinder.pdf

[8] Frye, Richard N. “Cyrus II | Biography - King of Persia.” Encyclopedia Britannica. http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/148758/Cyrus-II

[9] “History of Iran: Cyrus The Great”. Iran Chamber Society. http://www.iranchamber.com/history/cyrus/cyrus.php

[10]  دریایی، تورج، «کوروش بزرگ پادشاه باستانی ایران»، ترجمه آذردخت جلیلیان، وبسایت تورج دریایی، صص 22 و 24. http://www.tourajdaryaee.com/wp-content/uploads/Daryaee-Cyrus-Persian.pdf

[11] “Translation of the text on the Cyrus Cylinder”. Translation by Irving Finkel. The British Museum. para. 24-26. http://www.britishmuseum.org/explore/highlights/articles/c/cyrus_cylinder_-_translation.aspx

[12]  دریایی، پیشین، صص 21 و 22.

[13] Hassani, Behzad. “Human Rights and Rise of the Achaemenid Empire: Forgotten Lessons from a Forgotten Era”. The Circle of Ancient Iranian Studies. June 2007. http://www.cais-soas.com/CAIS/History/hakhamaneshian/human_rights.htm

[14] Briant, Pierre. From Cyrus to Alexander: A History of the Persian Empire. Winona Lake, IN: Eisenbrauns, 2002. 79. Print.

[15] تورج دریایی، پیشین، ص 24.

[16] Abbott, Jacob. Cyrus the Great. New York: Harper & Brothers, 1900. 222. Print.

[17]  ر.ک. هرودوت، تاریخ هردوت، ترجمه غ. وحید مازندرانی، تهران: مرکز انتشارات علمی و فرهنگی، 1362، صص 103-97.

[18] Dandamaev, M. A. A Political History of the Achaemenid Empire. Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1989. Print.

[19] “Translation of the text on the Cyrus Cylinder”. op. cit. para. 20-22.

[20] Old Testament. Isaiah. 44: 28 – 45: 1.  http://bible.oremus.org/?passage=Isaiah

[21]  «چرا کوروش کبير ذوالقرنين است؟»، عصر ایران، 25 فروردین 1390. http://bit.ly/1wBpTmF

[22]  The Qur’an. Translation by Abdullah Yusuf Ali. 18:84-85.

[23] Herodotus. The History of Herodotus. Trans. G. C. Macaulay. McLean, VA: IndyPublish.com, 2002. 3.89. Print.

[24] Xenophon.  The Cyropaedia: Or, Institution of Cyrus, and the Hellenics, Or Grecian History.  Trans. J. S. Watson and Henry Dale. London: H.G. Bohn, 1855. Book VII. 2.7. Internet.

[25] Boardman, John. The Cambridge Ancient History, Volume 10 : Persia, Greece and the Western Mediterranean, C. 525 to 479 B.C. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1988. 42. Print.

[26]  تورج دریایی، پیشین، ص 22.

[27] “Translation of the text on the Cyrus Cylinder”. op. cit. para. 7-9.

[28]  Ibid. para. 12.

[29] Pasachoff, Naomi E., and Robert J. Littman. A Concise History of the Jewish People. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2005. 43. Print.

[30] Old Testament. 2 Kings. 25: 9-12. http://bible.oremus.org/?passage=2Kings

[31] The Captivity of the Jews: And Their Return from Babylon. London: Religious Tract Society, 1840. 74. Print.

[32] “Babylonian Exile”. Encyclopædia Britannica. 25 November 2014. http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/47693/Babylonian-Exile

[33] “History of Iran: Cyrus The Great”, op. cit.

[34] Farrokh, Kaveh. Shadows in the Desert: Ancient Persia at War. Oxford, U.K.: Osprey, 2007. 45. Print.

[35] Old Testament. Ezra. 2: 64-65. http://bible.oremus.org/?passage=Ezra 

[36] Farrokh. op. cit. 45.

[37] Ezra. op. cit. 1:7.

[38]  Ibid. 1: 2-4.

[39] Farrokh. op. cit. 45.

[40] Aharoni, Yohanan. The Land of the Bible: A Historical Geography. Philadelphia: Westminster, 1979. 411. Print.

[41]  دریایی، پیشین، ص 22.

[42] «اهمیت و نقش آزادی­های مذهبی در موفقیت سیاسی کوروش کبیر»، بی بی سی فارسی، 27 اوت 2013. http://www.bbc.co.uk/persian/iran/2013/08/130827_l93_cyrus_book

[43]  “Translation of the text on the Cyrus Cylinder”. op. cit. para. 31-34.

[44] Farrokh. op. cit. 44.

[46] “The British Museum lends the Cyrus Cylinder to the National Museum of Iran”. British Museum Website. 10 Sep. 2010. 2015. http://www.britishmuseum.org/about_us/news_and_press/statements/cyrus_cylinder.aspx

[47] The First Global Statement of The Inherent Dignity and Equality of All, United Nations, 10 Dec. 2008. http://www.un.org/en/events/humanrightsday/2008/history.shtml

[48] Ghasemi, Shapour. “History of Iran: The Cyrus the Great Cylinder”. Iran Chamber Society. http://www.iranchamber.com/history/cyrus/cyrus_charter.php

[49] Finkel, Irving. The Cyrus Cylinder: The King of Persia's Proclamation from Ancient Babylon. London: I. B. Taurus, 2013. 82. Print.; “The Cyrus Cylinder”. FEZANA Journal. 4 July 2013. 62. Internet. http://cyruscylinder2013.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/FEZANA_Journal_2013_Summer.pdf

[50] Chiacu, Doina. “Cyrus Cylinder, Ancient Decree of Religious Freedom, Starts U.S. Tour”. Reuters. 7 Mar. 2013. http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/03/07/us-usa-cyrus-idUSBRE9260Y820130307

[51] Boyce, Mary. Zoroastrians, Their Religious Beliefs and Practices. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1979. 56. Print.

[52] Ezra. op. cit. 6: 1-15.

[53] Lea Terhune. “Ancient Persian Ruler Influenced Thomas Jefferson, U.S. Democracy”. IIP Digital. 13 March 2013. http://iipdigital.usembassy.gov/st/english/article/2013/03/20130312143982.html#axzz3Wpu2oEDY

[54]  Ibid.

[55] “Cyrus the Great”. New World Encyclopedia. http://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Cyrus_the_Great

[56] Ebadi. Shirin. “Nobel Lecture”. Nobelpriz.org. 10 Dec. 2003. http://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/peace/laureates/2003/ebadi-lecture-e.html

Did You Know?

Sierra Leone is a beacon of religious tolerance in West Africa. With a Christian president elected by a roughly 70% Muslim nation, both groups pray alongside each other with conversions and intermarriage commonplace. Some Sierra Leonian citizens even practice both religions; known as ChrisMus, they attend regular prayers at the mosque while faithfully attending church on Sundays.
In the late 19th century, thousands of South Asian migrants flocked to East Africa to construct a railway network throughout the British Protectorate of Uganda. Over the following century, many of these laborers and their descendants secured lucrative positions in the growing domestic economy. However, the rise to power of President Idi Amin in 1971 brought trouble. Playing on the nationalistic feelings of native Ugandans, he denounced the entire South Asian community as “bloodsuckers” and decreed their immediate expulsion under threat of imprisonment. The United Kingdom attempted to intercede with Amin, but eventually accepted almost 27,000 refugees, decimating the Indian and Pakistani community in Uganda.
With more than 200 different ethnic groups, the landlocked East African nation of Chad is one of the world's most diverse. Although Arabic and French – legacies of Islamic conquest and European colonialism – are the two official languages, over a hundred languages are spoken within the country's borders. Islam, Christianity and various forms of animism and tribal ritual are widely practiced, and Christian holidays like Christmas, All Saints Day and Easter are public holidays alongside Islamic ones such as Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha.
In the early 20th century, the Ku Klux Klan was responsible for the deaths of thousands of African-Americans, and symbols of the Klan – like the burning cross – inspired terror nationwide. But in 1946, the Klan was dealt a significant blow by a single concerned citizen. Activist and author Stetson Kennedy infiltrated the Klan over a period of months, gathering key information on the group's secret rituals and code words. Kennedy then shared his knowledge with the writers of a Superman radio serial, leading to the broadcast of The Adventures of Superman: "Clan of the Fiery Cross,” which over a two-week period exposed the Klan’s best-kept secrets. By trivializing the Klan, the broadcast helped strip the Klan of its mystique. Over time, the group declined rapidly and only a few thousand members are active today.
In the spring of 1994, Hutu militants murdered up to one million Rwandans, mostly from the Tutsi ethnic group. However, the sharp ethnic distinction drawn between Tutsis and the majority Hutus is a recent phenomenon; originally, the term “Tutsi” denoted a person rich in cattle, while a "Hutu" was a grower of crops. It wasn’t until the advent of Belgian colonial rule that Rwandans were forced to carry identity cards denoting their ethnicity. That measure, along with the ban on Hutus seeking higher education and other discrimination sowed the seeds of genocide.
On July 8, 1985, school children in a small Indian town rose to sing the national anthem, "Jana Gana Mana," but one 15-year old boy and his sisters did not join their classmates. As Jehovah’s Witnesses, they believed singing the anthem constituted idolatry, and could not bring themselves to violate their beliefs. This behavior was condemned as unpatriotic by school employees and became a local scandal, eventually resulting in the expulsion of the children. Their family sued, and the case eventually rose to the Supreme Court where the children were exonerated, with Justice O. Chinnappa Reddy reiterating “Our tradition teaches tolerance; our philosophy preaches tolerance; our constitution practices tolerance; let us not dilute it.”
The heady days of the Arab Spring brought glimpses of what a more tolerant Middle East could look like. As pro-government soldiers threatened to disperse protesters in Tahrir Square in early 2011, Christians formed a ring around worshipping Muslim activists. Those Muslims later returned the favor by gathering protectively around praying Christians. Although religious tensions in Egypt have consistently run high in its modern history and Coptic Christians face persecution, those civic gestures in Tahrir Square showed that another Egypt is possible.
Despite his sharp criticism of organized religion, Voltaire, one of the Enlightenment's greatest thinkers, resolutely defended religious tolerance. The most famous example of this defense was sparked by a tragedy. In October 1761, Marc-Antoine Calas, a young man from a Protestant family living in Catholic France, was found dead in his father’s shop in Toulouse, most likely by suicide. Public opinion quickly settled on his father, Jean, as the prime suspect – it was supposed that he had killed Marc-Antoine to prevent him from converting to Catholicism. Jean was repeatedly and inhumanely tortured and eventually executed. Outraged by the blatant injustice of the case, Voltaire succeeded in securing Jean a posthumous pardon, and went on to write his famous treatise on religious tolerance.
Members of the Iranian Baha'i faith have been persecuted since the founding of the religion in the mid-1800s. This persecution severely intensified after the Islamic Revolution in 1979, and continues to this day. At roughly 300,000 adherents, they are the largest non-Muslim religious group in Iran, but are not among the recognized religious minorities in the country's constitution, and cannot count on its protections. Today Baha’is are regularly subjected to intimidation, arbitrary arrest, destruction of property, denial of employment and access to higher education. The leadership of the Baha’i faith in Iran continues to be imprisoned.
Even as Hitler rose to power in Germany, Baghdad was a haven of religious and ethnic tolerance with Arabs, Kurds, and Turkmen, Muslims, Christians, Yazidis and Sabeans living in a land where “the mosque stands beside the church and the synagogue.” Hebrew was one of Iraq’s six languages and about 120,000 Jews lived in the country. Today, after decades of intermittent war and repression, it is estimated that fewer than ten Jews remain, while more Yazidis and Christians flee every day.
In an attempt to forcibly transform the Soviet Union into a socialist paradise, the Communist Party declared the elimination of religion to be an ideological imperative. Even though the Orthodox Church was deeply interwoven in pre-revolutionary Russian society, the state forbade public expressions of faith, demolished hundreds of places of worship, and executed hundreds of priests. However, the Orthodox faith remained rooted in Russia - as communism collapsed in the late 1980s and early 90s, millions rushed to be baptized and thousands were ordained as priests. Despite attempts to eliminate religion, today the majority of Russians identify themselves as Orthodox Christian.
Although Hindi is India’s most widely spoken language, over 780 languages exist throughout the subcontinent. However, 220 have disappeared over the last 50 years, as their last speakers pass away and young children do not learn them. With English and Hindi often associated with education and development, incentives to preserve less-common languages are low, and their worlds and cultures are vanishing. In reaction to this trend, a movement to preserve the country's linguistic heritage has emerged throughout India, with activists using online talking dictionaries, YouTube videos and social media to save these languages from extinction.
The United States of America has a formal policy commitment to protect religious freedom globally. In 1998, Congress passed the International Religious Freedom Act, establishing the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF). The Commission monitors the status of religious freedoms throughout the world and makes policy recommendations to the US government, including on the designation of serious repeat violators as "Countries of Particular Concern" (CPCs).
In March 2012, Tel-Aviv based graphic designer Ronny Edry uploaded an unconventional Facebook photo. The picture showed a smiling Edry holding his young daughter, with the caption “Iranians, we will never bomb your country. We love you.” The photo struck a chord on Israeli and Iranian social media, and thousands of citizens in both countries quickly followed Edry's example. One Iranian Facebook user posted a picture in response that proclaimed: “Dear Israeli Friends and World! Iranians love peace and we hate hate! And we don't need any Nuclear Power to show it!”
Appalled by the scourge of slavery across the United States, Harriet Beecher Stowe called attention to its horrors and impact on American society by publishing Uncle Tom’s Cabin in 1852. Selling 10,000 copies in its first week and becoming the second best-selling book of the century after the Bible, the graphic horrors of slavery portrayed in the book ignited social consciousness and fierce public debate. This debate carried through into the U.S. Civil War, which in turn led to Congress passing the 13th amendment to the U.S. Constitution, prohibiting slavery throughout the country. Uncle Tom's Cabin prepared the way for one of the biggest social shifts in American history.
In 1920, the anti-Semitic business magnate Henry Ford published excerpts from the Protocols of the Elders of Zion as part of a disparaging series of leading articles in his private newspaper, the Dearborn Independent. The public was unimpressed, with the New York Times condemning the Protocols as the “strangest jumble of crazy ideas that ever found its way in print.” However, his dissemination of the Protocols did contribute to the spread of anti-Semitic thought in modern America, and Ford’s propaganda was later applauded by Goebbels and Hitler.
Before the first British colonists arrived in Botany Bay in 1788, there were well over 350 different Australian Aboriginal groups, speaking a myriad of indigenous languages and with a wide range of cultural traditions. Diseases imported from Europe decimated native populations. Those that survived were legally marginalized throughout much of Australian history, with the 1901 Australian Constitution denying them Commonwealth citizenship rights. It was not until 1962 that legal reform granted the dwindling number of Aboriginal Australians voting rights.
The magnificent Hagia Sophia was constructed by the Byzantine Empire as a Christian basilica in the 6th century CE, and has stood the test of time for almost 1500 years. When Sultan Mehmed II’s armies conquered Constantinople in 1453, he could not bring himself to destroy the beautiful building and instead added minarets, converting it into a mosque. Since its repurposing as a museum in 1935 the Hagia Sophia has served a physical reminder of the intertwined relationship between Islam and Christianity, with Islamic calligraphy and Christian mosaics adorning the same structure.
Afghanistan was once rich with pre-Islamic artifacts, but the Taliban and other marauding groups have destroyed many of these beautiful relics in the brutal struggles that have gripped the country. However, some concerned Afghans have acted to preserve the country's heritage. As the Soviet Army withdrew in 1988-89 and the country collapsed into bitter civil war, National Museum of Afghanistan curator Omara Khan Massoudi worked to save some artifacts from pillagers. Burying ancient Bactrian gold and ivory sculptures under the Presidential Palace and the streets of Kabul in 1989, he finally retrieved many the priceless artifacts unscathed 14 years later and presented them to then Afghan President Hamid Karzai.
In January 1959, Mildred and Richard Loving were sentenced to a one year suspended jail for the crime of interracial marriage under the Virginia State Racial Integrity Act (1924). The judge for the case, Leon M. Bazile, wrote in his opinion that “Almighty God created the races white, black, yellow, malay and red, and he placed them on separate continents... The fact that he separated the races shows that he did not intend for the races to mix.” Although it seemed that bigotry had won, the U.S. Supreme Court later ruled the Act unconstitutional in the landmark case Loving v. Virginia. The decision also struck down similar legislation in 15 other states.
In 1935, the infamous “Protocols of the Elders of Zion” were branded a forgery by a Swiss court. “I hope that one day there will come a time,” the judge concluded, “when no one will any longer comprehend how in the year 1935 almost a dozen fully sensible and reasonable men could for fourteen days torment their brains before a court of Berne over the authenticity or lack of authenticity of these so-called Protocols…that for all the harm they have already caused and may yet cause, are nothing but ridiculous nonsense.” Sadly, the Protocols are still in circulation today, and are held up as "proof" for anti-Semitic theories.
Although branded as the transcript of a Jewish plot masterminding world domination, a large portion of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion is copied directly from a political satire by French writer Maurice Joly. Joly’s protagonist warns, “Like the God Vishnu, my press will have a hundred arms and these arms will give their hands to all the different shades of opinion throughout the country." The Protocols attribute an almost identical statement to a “sinister” Jew. This plagiarism is just one of the many holes in the Protocols' so-called indictment of world Jewry.
In 2012, online hate speech from Burma’s Facebook users exploded as some from the country's majority Buddhist population accused minority Muslims of a plot to dominate the country. With online vitriol stoking real-world conflicts, the Panzagar movement arose to combat the trend. Panzagar translates to "flower speech" in English, and the movement intervened through designing a series of “flower speech” Facebook stickers to post under offensive material. The stickers are cheerful and cartoonish, and seek to defuse heated arguments through lighthearted reminders to practice respect and tolerance.
Although branded as the transcript of a Jewish plot masterminding world domination, a large portion of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion is copied directly from a political satire by French writer Maurice Joly. Joly’s protagonist warns, “Like the God Vishnu, my press will have a hundred arms and these arms will give their hands to all the different shades of opinion throughout the country," and the Protocols attribute an almost identical statement to a “sinister” Jew. This plagiarism is just one of the many holes in the Protocols' so-called indictment of world Jewry.
Across the United States there are over five hundred distinct tribes of Native Americans speaking more than two hundred indigenous languages, and very few of them have a word for "religion." Despite having a myriad of spiritual beliefs and rituals, Native American tribes view the issue to be intermingled with every aspect of community and family life. “We don't have a religion”, some Native Americans insist, “we have a way of life.”
The shooting down of Rwandan President Habyarimana’s plane over Kigali in April 1994 provided a spark that set already high ethnic tensions alight. Across the country, Hutu extremists murdered their Tutsi neighbors in the hundreds of thousands – often with machetes – in what is known as the Rwandan genocide. There were, however, small acts of humanity in the midst of mass killings. Hutu hotel manager Paul Rusesabagina took in everyone he could, turning his hotel into a refuge from the violence. He ultimately managed to save the lives of over 1,200 people, including his Tutsi wife and children, through the ingenious bartering of luxury items in the hotel and the influence of his international contacts - a story later captured in the movie “Hotel Rwanda.”
In Canada, freedom of religion is strongly protected at the national, provincial, and local levels. The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, part of the country's constitution, forbids discrimination by the state on religious grounds and guarantees the fundamental right of freedom of conscience and religion. The various provincial human rights codes go further and require employers, service providers and other private individuals to provide reasonable accommodation to all, regardless of religious belief.

 Is discord going to show itself while we are still fighting, is the Jew once again worth less than another? Oh, it is sad, very sad, that once more, for the umpteenth time, the old truth is confirmed: "What one Christian does is his own responsibility, what one Jew does is thrown back at all Jews."

- Anne Frank (1929-1945), author of The Diary of a Young Girl, 1942-1944, entry dated as May 22, 1944

 Each person must live their life as a model for others.

- Rosa Parks (1913-2005), African-American civil rights activist

 Whenever you're in conflict with someone, there is one factor that can make the difference between damaging your relationship and deepening it. That factor is attitude.

- William James (1842-1910), American philosopher and psychologist

 WHAT is tolerance? it is the consequence of humanity. We are all formed of frailty and error; let us pardon reciprocally each other's folly--that is the first law of nature.

- Voltaire (1694-1778), French Enlightenment writer, historian, and philosopher, 1764

 No rational argument will have a rational effect on a man who does not want to adopt a rational attitude.

- Karl Popper (1902-1994), Austrian-British philosopher, The Open Society and its Enemies, 1945

 If our goal is to be tolerant of people who are different than we are, then we really are aiming quite low. Traffic jams are to be tolerated. People are to be celebrated.

- Glennon Doyle Melton, Carry On, Warrior: Thoughts on Life Unarmed, April 2, 2013

 We must plan for freedom, and not only for security, if for no other reason than only freedom can make security more secure.

- Karl Popper (1902-1994), Austrian-British philosopher, The Open Society and its Enemies, 1945

 I don't believe in charity. I believe in solidarity. Charity is vertical, so it's humiliating. It goes from the top to the bottom. Solidarity is horizontal. It respects the other and learns from the other. I have a lot to learn from other people.

- Eduardo Galeano (1940-present), Uruguyan journalist, writer, and novelist, 2004

 Freedom of judgment must necessarily be permitted and people must be governed in such a way that they can live in harmony, even though they openly hold different and contradictory opinions.

- Baruch de Spinoza (1632-1677), Dutch philosopher, Tractatus Theologico-Politicus, 1670

 You may choose to look the other way but you can never again say you did not know.

- William Wilberforce (1759-1833), English abolitionist, 1791

 Parents can only give good advice or put them on the right paths, but the final forming of a person's character lies in their own hands.

- Anne Frank (1929-1945), author of The Diary of a Young Girl, 1942-1944

 Judging others makes us blind, whereas love is illuminating. By judging others we blind ourselves to our own evil and to the grace which others are just as entitled to as we are.

- Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906-1945), German Lutheran pastor, theologian, anti-Nazi dissident, 1995

 I like the religion that teaches liberty, equality and fraternity.

- Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar (1891-1956), Indian jurist, economist, politician and social reformer

 No man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship or ministry or shall otherwise suffer on account of his religious opinions or belief, but all men shall be free to profess and by argument to maintain, their opinions in matters of religion.

- Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826), Author of the Declaration of Independence and Third President of the United States, Virginia Statute of Religious Freedom, 1786

 And if we want to achieve our goal, then let us empower ourselves with the weapon of knowledge and let us shield ourselves with unity and togetherness.

- Malala Yousafzai (1997-present), Pakistani activist for female education and Nobel Prize laureate, July 12, 2013

 It is a worthy thing to fight for one's freedom; it is another sight finer to fight for another man's.

- Mark Twain (1835-1910), American author and humorist, June 17, 1898

 My country is the world, and my religion is to do good.

- Thomas Paine (1737-1809), English-American political activist, philosopher, and revolutionary, The Rights of Man, 1791

 At every level of society, familial, tribal, national and international, the key to a happier and more peaceful and successful world is the growth of compassion.

- 14th Dalai Lama (1935-present), The Compassionate Life, 2001

 We recall our terrible past so that we can deal with it, to forgive where forgiveness is necessary, without forgetting; to ensure that never again will such inhumanity tear us apart; and to move ourselves to eradicate a legacy that lurks dangerously as a threat to our democracy.

- Nelson Mandela (1918-2013), South African anti-apartheid revolutionary and first black president of South Africa, February 25, 1999

 You must not treat others with cruelty and that much harshly, you must fight others but through peace and through dialogue and through education.

- Malala Yousafzai (1997-present), Pakistani activist for female education and Nobel Prize laureate, October 10, 2013

 Where justice is denied, where poverty is enforced, where ignorance prevails, and where any one class is made to feel that society is an organized conspiracy to oppress, rob and degrade them, neither persons nor property will be safe.

- Frederick Douglass (1818-1895), African-American abolitionist and U.S. minister to Haiti from 1889 to 1891, Speech on the twenty-fourth anniversary of Emancipation in the District of Columbia, Washington, D.C., April 1886

 How many paths are there to God? There are as many paths to God as there are souls on the Earth.

- Jalaluddin Rumi (1207-1273), 13th-century Persian poet, jurist, theologian, and Sufi mystic

 I believe in God who made of one blood all races that dwell on earth. I believe that all men, black and brown and white, are brothers, varying through Time and Opportunity, in form and gift and feature, but differing in no essential particular, and alike in soul and in the possibility of infinite development.

- W.E.B Dubois (1868-1963), African American sociologist, historian, civil rights activist, Darkwater: Voices from Within the Veil, 1920

 All of us have this commandment at heart: do good and do not do evil. All of us.... this ‘closing off’ that imagines that those outside, everyone, cannot do good is a wall that leads to war and also to what some people throughout history have conceived of: killing in the name of God.... And that, simply, is blasphemy.

- Pope Francis (1936-present), May 22, 2013

 Religion must mainly be a matter of principles only. It cannot be a matter of rules. The moment it degenerates into rules, it ceases to be a religion, as it kills responsibility which is an essence of the true religious act.

- Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar (1891-1956), Indian jurist, economist, politician and social reformer

 I was heartened that people everywhere want certain basic freedoms, even if they live in a totally different cultural environment.

- Aung San Suu Kyi (1945-present), Nobel Peace Prize laureate and leader of the National League for Democracy in Burma, 2012

 I am a lover of truth, a worshipper of freedom, a celebrant at the altar of language and purity and tolerance. That is my religion.... My belief in my religion is strong and I know that lies will always fail and indecency and intolerance will always perish.

- Stephen Fry (1957-present), English comedian, actor, writer, presenter, and activist, 1993

 [W]e are all guilty in some Measure of the same narrow way of Thinking... when we fancy the Customs, Dresses, and Manners of other Countries are ridiculous and extravagant, if they do not resemble those of our own.

- Joseph Addison (1672-1719), English essayist, poet, playwright, and politician, 1711

 I can imagine nothing more terrifying than an Eternity filled with men who were all the same. The only thing which has made life bearable…has been the diversity of creatures on the surface of the globe.

- T. H. White (1906-1964), English author

 Laws alone can not secure freedom of expression; in order that every man present his views without penalty, there must be spirit of tolerance in the entire population.

- Albert Einstein (1879-1955), German-born theoretical physicist, 1940

 Christian, Jew, Muslim, shaman, Zoroastrian, stone, ground, mountain, river, each has a secret way of being with the mystery, unique and not to be judged.

- Jalaluddin Rumi (1207-1273), 13th-century Persian poet, jurist, theologian, and Sufi mystic

 There can be only one permanent revolution — a moral one; the regeneration of the inner man. How is this revolution to take place? Nobody knows how it will take place in humanity, but every man feels it clearly in himself. And yet in our world everybody thinks of changing humanity, and nobody thinks of changing himself

- Leo Tolstoy (1828-1910), Russian novelist, playwright, and philosopher, 1900

 There is only one good, knowledge, and one evil, ignorance.

- Socrates (469 BC-399 BC), Greek philosopher

 I do not want my house to be walled in on all sides and my windows to be stuffed. I want the cultures of all lands to be blown about my house as freely as possible. But I refuse to be blown off my feet by any. I refuse to live in other people’s houses as an interloper, a beggar or a slave.

- Mahatma Gandhi (1969-1948), leader of Indian independence movement, 1927

 Give to every other human being every right that you claim for yourself.

- Robert Green Ingersoll (1833-1899), American lawyer, May 8, 1888

 Being all equal and independent, no one ought to harm another in his life, health, liberty, or possessions.

- John Locke (1632-1704), English philosopher, Second Treatise of Government, 1689

 The golden rule of conduct... is mutual toleration, seeing that we will never all think alike and we shall always see Truth in fragment and from different angles of vision. Even amongst the most conscientious persons, there will be room enough for honest differences of opinion. The only possible rule of conduct in any civilised society is, therefore, mutual toleration.

- Mahatma Gandhi (1869-1948), leader of Indian independence movement, 1927

 It is my inmost conviction, Badshah Khan said, that Islam is amal, yakeen, muhabat – selfless service, faith, and love.

- Badshah Khan (1890-1988), Pashtun independence activist

 How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.

- Anne Frank (1929-1945), author of The Diary of a Young Girl, 1942-1944, March 26, 1944

 I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities.

- Nelson Mandela (1918-2013), South African anti-apartheid revolutionary and first black president of South Africa, I am Prepared to Die, Statement in the Rivonia Trial, Pretoria Supreme Court, April 20, 1964

 We all know we are unique individuals, but we tend to see others as representatives of groups.

- Deborah Tannen (1945-present), linguist and author, You Just Don't Understand, 1990

 I think... if it is true that there are as many minds as there are heads, then there are as many kinds of love as there are hearts.

- Leo Tolstoy (1828-1910), Russian novelist, playwright, and philosopher, Anna Karenina, 1877

 Many of our problems are created by ourselves based on divisions due to ideology, religion, race, resources, economic status or other factors. The time has come to think on a deeper, more human level and appreciate and respect our sameness as human beings.

- 14th Dalai Lama (1935-present), The Compassionate Life, 2001

 If all mankind minus one, were of one opinion, and only one person were of the contrary opinion, mankind would be no more justified in silencing that one person, than he, if he had the power, would be justified in silencing mankind.

- John Stuart Mill (1806-1873), British philosopher, political economist and civil servant, On Liberty, 1859

 I have striven not to laugh at human actions, not to weep at them, nor to hate them, but to understand them.

- Baruch de Spinoza (1632-1677), Dutch philosopher, Tractatus Theologico-Politicus, 1670

 Tolerance is the positive and cordial effort to understand another’s beliefs, practices, and habits without necessarily sharing or accepting them.

- Joshua Loth Liebman (1907-1948), American rabbi and best-selling author, Peace of Mind: Insights on Human Nature That Can Change Your Life, 1946

 The scientist is free, and must be free to ask any question, to doubt any assertion, to seek for any evidence, to correct any errors. Our political life is also predicated on openness. We know that the only way to avoid error is to detect it and that the only way to detect it is to be free to inquire. And we know that as long as men are free to ask what they must, free to say what they think, free to think what they will, freedom can never be lost, and science can never regress.

- Robert Oppenheimer (1904-1967), American theoretical physicist

 Hate. It has caused a lot of problems in this world, but it has not solved one yet.

- Maya Angelou (1928-2014), American poet and author

 I respect Muslims, Jews, Christians, Zoroastrians, Buddhists, Bahá’ís, etc., even non-believers who believe in the principles of humanity. I love them dearly and kiss the hands of each and every one of them.

- Masoumi Tehrani, senior Iranian cleric

 Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars.

- Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968), American Baptist minister and leader of the American Civil Rights Movement, Loving Your Enemies, 1957

 Compassion is sometimes the fatal capacity for feeling what it is like to live in somebody else’s skin. It is the knowledge that there can never really be any peace and joy for me unless there is peace and joy finally for you too.

- Frederick Buechner (1926-present), American writer and theologian

 God's dream is that you and I and all of us will realize that we are family, that we are made for togetherness, for goodness, and for compassion.

- Desmond Tutu (1931-present), South African social rights activist and retired Anglican bishop, April 26, 2005

 The test of faith is whether I can make space for difference. Can I recognize God's image in someone who is not in my image, whose language, faith, ideal, are different from mine? If I cannot, then I have made God in my image instead of allowing him to remake me in his.

- Jonathan Sacks (1948 - present), rabbi, philosopher and scholar of Judaism, The Dignity of Difference, 2002

 To build a future you have to know the past.

- Otto Frank (1889-1980), Holocaust survivor who was a German-born businessman and father of Anne and Margot Frank, 1967

 It is thus tolerance that is the source of peace, and intolerance that is the source of disorder and squabbling.

- Pierre Bayle (1647-1706), French philosopher, 1686

 Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.

- Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968), American Baptist minister and leader of the American Civil Rights Movement, Strength to Love, 1963

 Human nature is not simple and any classification that roughly divides men into good and bad, superior and inferior, slave and free, is and must be ludicrously untrue and universally dangerous as a permanent exhaustive classification.

- W.E.B Dubois (1868-1963), African American sociologist, historian, civil rights activist, Evolution of the Race Problem, 1909

 Intolerance is itself a form of violence and an obstacle to the growth of a true democratic spirit.

- Mahatma Gandhi (1969-1948), leader of Indian independence movement

 The life of the nation is secure only while the nation is honest, truthful, and virtuous.

- Frederick Douglass (1818-1895), African-American abolitionist and U.S. minister to Haiti from 1889 to 1891, Speech on the twenty-fourth anniversary of Emancipation in the District of Columbia, Washington, D.C., April 1885

 More dangerous than bayonets and cannon are the weapons of the mind.

- Ludwig Van Mises (1881-1973), leader of the Austrian School of economic thought, Liberalism, 1927

 I have always strenuously supported the right of every man to his own opinion, however different that opinion might be to mine. He who denies another this right makes a slave of himself to his present opinion, because he precludes himself the right of changing it.

- Thomas Paine (1737-1809), English-American political activist, philosopher, and revolutionary, Age of Reason, 1794

 Tolerance implies no lack of commitment to one's own beliefs. Rather it condemns the oppression or persecution of others.

- John F. Kennedy (1917-1963), 35th President of the United States, October 10, 1960

 From the saintly and single-minded idealist to the fanatic is often but a step.

- Friedrich Hayek (1899-1992), economist and philosopher, 1944

 No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.

- Nelson Mandela (1918-2013), South African anti-apartheid revolutionary and first black president of South Africa, Long Walk to Freedom: The Autobiography of Nelson Mandela, 1995

 I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal."

- Martin Luther King Jr. (1929-1968), American Baptist minister and leader of the American Civil Rights Movement, "I Have a Dream", August 28, 1963

 We call upon all communities to be tolerant, to reject prejudice based on caste, creed, sect, colour, religion or agenda to ensure freedom and equality for women so they can flourish. We cannot all succeed when half of us are held back.

- Malala Yousafzai (1997-present), Pakistani activist for female education and Nobel Peace Prize laureate, July 12, 2013

 It is the enemy who can truly teach us to practice the virtues of compassion and tolerance.

- 14th Dalai Lama (1935-present), Ocean of Wisdom: Guidelines for Living, 1989

 I believe we are here on the planet Earth to live, grow up and do what we can to make this world a better place for all people to enjoy freedom.

- Rosa Parks (1913-2005), African-American civil rights activist

 I have no animosity towards anyone. Whoever displays human dignity, regardless of their religion or faith, I bow my head before them and hold them dear.

- Masoumi Tehrani, senior Iranian cleric

 First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

- Martin Niemöller (1892-1984), German anti-Nazi theologian and Lutheran pastor, January 6, 1946

 A person is a person because he recognizes others as persons.

- Desmund Tutu (1931-present), South African social rights activist and retired Anglican bishop, September 7, 1986

 The open society is one in which men have learned to be to some extent critical of taboos, and to base decisions on the authority of their own intelligence.

- Karl Popper (1902-1994), Austrian-British philosopher, The Open Society and its Enemies, 1945

 The love of one's country is a splendid thing. But why should love stop at the border?

- Pablo Casals (1876-1973), Spanish cellist, 1974

 I knew that to really minister to Rwanda's needs meant working toward reconciliation in the prisons, in the churches, and in the cities and villages throughout the country. It meant feeding the hungry, sheltering the homeless, caring for the young, but it also meant healing the wounded and forgiving the unforgivable.

- John Rucyahana (1945-present), former Rwandan Anglican bishop, The Bishop of Rwanda: Finding Forgiveness Amidst a Pile of Bones, 2007

 If you want to make peace with your enemy, you have to work with your enemy. Then he becomes your partner.

- Nelson Mandela (1918-2013), South African anti-apartheid revolutionary and first black president of South Africa, Long Walk to Freedom: The Autobiography of Nelson Mandela, 1995

 For to be free is not merely to cast off one's chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.

- Nelson Mandela (1918-2013), South African anti-apartheid revolutionary and first black president of South Africa,Long Walk to Freedom: The Autobiography of Nelson Mandela, 1995

 Where they have burned books, they will end in burning human beings.

- Heinrich Heine (1797-1856), German poet, journalist, essayist, and literary critic, Almansor, 1821

 Where in this wide world can a person find nobility without pride, friendship without envy or beauty without vanity? Here, where grace is laced with muscle and strength by gentleness confined. He serves without servility, he has fought without enmity. There is nothing so powerful, nothing less violent; there is nothing so quick, nothing more patient.

- Ronald Duncan (1914-1982)

 We all live with the objective of being happy, our lives are all different and yet the same.

- Anne Frank (1929-1945), author of The Diary of a Young Girl, 1942-1944, entry dated July, 6, 1944

 I would rather be exposed to the inconveniences attending too much liberty than to those attending too small a degree of it.

- Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826), Author of the Declaration of Independence and Third President of the United States,Letter to Archibald Stuart, Philadelphia, December 23, 1791

 All major religious traditions carry basically the same message, that is love, compassion and forgiveness … the important thing is they should be part of our daily lives.

- 14th Dalai Lama (1935-present)

 Tolerance and patience should not be read as signs of weakness. They are signs of strength.

- 14th Dalai Lama (1935-present), spiritual leader of Tibet, September 21, 2012

 Even God doesn't propose to judge a man till his last days, why should you and I?

- Dale Carnegie (1888-1955), American self-help author and lecturer

 He that would make his own liberty secure, must guard even his enemy from oppression; for if he violates this duty, he establishes a precedent that will reach to himself.

- Thomas Paine (1737-1809), English-American political activist, philosopher, and revolutionary, Dissertation on First Principles of Government, July 1795

 The cost of liberty is less than the price of repression.

- W.E.B Dubois (1868-1963), African American sociologist, historian, civil rights activist, John Brown, 1909

 Compassion is not religious business, it is human business. It is not a luxury, it is essential for our own peace and mental stability. It is essential for human survival.

- 14th Dalai Lama (1935 - present), spiritual leader of Tibet

 If we are not prepared to defend a tolerant society against the onslaught of the intolerant, then the tolerant will be destroyed, and tolerance with them.

- Karl Popper (1902-1994), Austrian-British philosopher, The Open Society and its Enemies, 1945

 I am not an Athenian or a Greek, but a citizen of the world.

- Socrates (469 BC-399 BC), Greek philosopher

 The time must come when, great and pressing as change and betterment may be, they do not involve killing and hurting people.

- W.E.B Dubois (1868-1963), African American sociologist, historian, civil rights activist, Dark Princess, 1928

 Resentment is like drinking poison and then hoping it will kill your enemies.

- Nelson Mandela (1918-2013), South African anti-apartheid revolutionary and first black president of South Africa

 Everyone shall have the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. This right shall include freedom to have or to adopt a religion or belief of his choice, and freedom, either individually or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in worship, observance, practice and teaching.

- International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, December 16, 1966

 We should therefore claim, in the name of tolerance, the right not to tolerate the intolerant.

- Karl Popper (1902-1994), Austrian-British philosopher, The Open Society and its Enemies, 1945

 We need a little more compassion, and if we cannot have it then no politician or even a magician can save the planet.

- 14th Dalai Lama (1935-present)

 [Most] can seldom discern even the simplest and most obvious truth if it be such as obliges them to admit the falsity of conclusions they have formed, perhaps with much difficulty — conclusions of which they are proud, which they have taught to others, and on which they have built their lives.

- Leo Tolstoy (1828-1910), Russian novelist, playwright, and philosopher

 If we cannot end now our differences, at least we can make the world safe for diversity.

- John F. Kennedy (1917-1961), 35th President of the United States, Commencement Address at American University, June 10, 1963

 Tolerance implies a respect for another person, not because he is wrong or even because he is right, but because he is human.

- John Cogley (1916-1976), author of Religion in a Secular Age, 1968

 Anger and intolerance are the twin enemies of correct understanding.

- Mahatma Gandhi (1969-1948), leader of Indian independence movement

 It is hardly possible to overrate the value, for the improvement of human beings, of things which bring them into contact with persons dissimilar to themselves and with modes of thought and action unlike those with which they are familiar... It is indispensable to be perpetually comparing [one's] own notions and customs with the experience and example of persons in different circumstances.

- John Stuart Mill (1806-1873), British philosopher, political economist and civil servant, Principles of Political Economy, 1848

 I truly believe the only way we can create global peace is through not only educating our minds, but our hearts and our souls.

- Malala Yousafzai (1997-present), Pakistani activist for female education and Nobel Prize laureate, September 3, 2013

 While differing widely in the various little bits we know, in our infinite ignorance we are all equal.

- Karl Popper (1902-1994), Austrian-British philosopher, Conjectures and Refutations: The Growth of Scientific Knowledge, 1963

 I keep my ideals, because in spite of everything I still believe that people are really good at heart.

- Anne Frank (1929-1945), author of The Diary of a Young Girl, 1942-1944, entry dated July 15, 1944

 There's in people simply an urge to destroy, an urge to kill, to murder and rage, and until all mankind, without exception, undergoes a great change, wars will be waged, everything that has been built up, cultivated, and grown will be destroyed and disfigured, after which mankind will have to begin all over again.

- Anne Frank (1929-1945), author of The Diary of a Young Girl, 1942-1944, entry dated May 3, 1944

 Injustice, poverty, slavery, ignorance — these may be cured by reform or revolution. But men do not live only by fighting evils. They live by positive goals, individual and collective, a vast variety of them, seldom predictable, at times incompatible.

- Isaiah Berlin (1909-1997), Russo-British Jewish social and political theorist, philosopher and historian, Political Ideas in the Twentieth Century, Foreign Affairs, 1950

 To deny any person their human rights is to challenge their very humanity.

- Nelson Mandela (1918-2013), South African anti-apartheid revolutionary and first black president of South Africa, June 27, 1990

 A human being is a part of the whole, called by us "Universe," a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separate from the rest—a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. The striving to free oneself from this delusion is the one issue of true religion. Not to nourish it but to try to overcome it is the way to reach the attainable measure of peace of mind.

- Albert Einstein (1879-1955), German-born theoretical physicist, 1950

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About Tavaana

Tavaana: E-Learning Institute for Iranian Civil Society is Iran’s pioneer e-learning institute. Tavaana – meaning ‘empowered’ and ‘capable’ in Persian – was launched on May 17, 2010 with a mission to support active citizenship and civic leadership in Iran through a multi-platform civic education and civil society capacity building program. Tavaana holds a vision for a free and open Iranian society, one in which each and every Iranian enjoys equality, justice and the full spectrum of civil and political liberties.

About The Tolerance Project

The Tolerance Project aims to inspire conscience, pluralism, religious freedom, and celebration of difference. Using an array of educational materials in Arabic, Persian, and English, The Tolerance Project emphasizes the capacity of each and every individual to counter hate, and imparts the benefits of living in tolerant, open societies. The Tolerance Project educates to prevent persecution and genocide, cultivating the basis for vibrant and stable societies in the broader Middle East.

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