Date on Senior Honors Thesis


Document Type

Senior Honors Thesis

Degree Name




Author's Keywords

women; Iran; Persia; Zoroastrianism; Islam; Transition Period


This paper explores the various ways in which the roles and lives of women changed and continued in the transition from Zoroastrian majority Iran[1] to post-conquest Islamic ruled Iran during the 7th and 8thcenturies. This paper mostly utilizes secondary sources due to the author’s inability to read the languages of the primary sources. Through the various sources, the paper discusses the background of the time period in the sections on Sassanian Persia, women in Sassanian Persia, the Arab Conquest of Persia, women in early Islam, and the Transition Period. Then it explores the ways in which women’s lives were possibly impacted: the effects of conversion, ceremonies/rites, marriage, land ownership, veiling, menstruation practices, slavery, and homes. Finally, in the conclusion the paper is summarized and the implications are discussed. The findings of this research is that women’s lives did not change very drastically but the ways in which women’s lives were significantly altered were social, and not socio-economic or religious. This is largely due to the fact that Zoroastrians did not convert in large numbers, and Muslims did not force them to, so conversion was quite a slow process in Iran. However, this did not stop the society from changing, and the people in it adopting different cultures.

[1] Note that I will use Iran and Persia interchangeably throughout this paper.

Lay Summary

The Islamic Conquest Period brought about new rulers to a very vast stretch of the world. These rulers brought a new religion with them: Islam. The conquest movement reached Sassanian Iran around the mid-7th century CE. The Sassanian Dynasty was the last dynasty of Iran, which was predominantly a land of Zoroastrians, or those who followed the ancient Iranian religion Zoroastrianism. The Muslim conquerors were not on a mission to convert people to Islam however, and instead they allowed people to pay a tax and keep their religions. While much research has focused on the masculine military characteristics of the period, this research focuses on how women's lives and roles were changed during the transition from a largely Zoroastrian to Islamic society in Iran. This paper shows that while women's lives did not change dramatically, the changes that were made were primarily in religious practices, legal institutions, bodily and personal practices, and within their domestic lives.