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Bazaari (Persian: بازاری ) is the name given to the merchant class and workers of bazaars, the traditional marketplaces of Iran. Bazaari are involved in "petty trade of a traditional, or nearly traditional, kind, centered on the bazaar and its Islamic culture". They have been described as "the class of people who helped make the 1979 Iranian Revolution". [1] [2]

Persian language Western Iranian language

Persian, also known by its endonym Farsi, is one of the Western Iranian languages within the Indo-Iranian branch of the Indo-European language family. It is primarily spoken in Iran, Afghanistan, and Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and some other regions which historically were Persianate societies and considered part of Greater Iran. It is written right to left in the Persian alphabet, a modified variant of the Arabic script.

Bazaar type of public marketplace

A bazaar is a permanently enclosed marketplace or street where goods and services are exchanged or sold. The term originates from the Persian word bāzār. The term bazaar is sometimes also used to refer to the "network of merchants, bankers and craftsmen" who work in that area. Although the current meaning of the word is believed to have originated in Persia, its use has spread and now has been accepted into the vernacular in countries around the world. In Balinese, the word pasar means "market." The capital of Bali province, in Indonesia, is Denpasar, which means "north market." Souq is another word used in the Middle East for an open-air marketplace or commercial quarter.

Iran Country in Western Asia

Iran, also called Persia and officially known as the Islamic Republic of Iran, is a country in Western Asia. With over 81 million inhabitants, Iran is the world's 18th most populous country. Comprising a land area of 1,648,195 km2 (636,372 sq mi), it is the second largest country in the Middle East and the 17th largest in the world. Iran is bordered to the northwest by Armenia and the Republic of Azerbaijan, to the north by the Caspian Sea, to the northeast by Turkmenistan, to the east by Afghanistan and Pakistan, to the south by the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman, and to the west by Turkey and Iraq. The country's central location in Eurasia and Western Asia, and its proximity to the Strait of Hormuz, give it geostrategic importance. Tehran is the country's capital and largest city, as well as its leading economic and cultural center.

A broader, more recent definition includes traditional merchants outside of Iran, "a social places where the society is in the midst of an awkward modernization; where the bazaar is in some stage of transition between the world of A Thousand and One Nights and that of the suburban shopping mall", an example being traditional merchants (also Muslim) who back the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. [1] However, it has also been noted that merchants in other Middle Eastern countries are predominantly minority non-Muslim populations without the political influence of bazaari in Iran. [3]

<i>One Thousand and One Nights</i> collection of Middle Eastern stories and folk tales compiled in Arabic during the Islamic Golden Age

One Thousand and One Nights is a collection of Middle Eastern folk tales compiled in Arabic during the Islamic Golden Age. It is often known in English as the Arabian Nights, from the first English-language edition, which rendered the title as The Arabian Nights' Entertainment.

Shopping mall complex of shops

A shopping mall is a modern, chiefly North American, term for a form of shopping precinct or shopping center, in which one or more buildings form a complex of shops representing merchandisers with interconnecting walkways that enable customers to walk from unit to unit. A shopping arcade is a specific type of shopping precinct which is usually distinguished in English for mall shopping by the fact that connecting walkways are not owned by a single proprietor and are in open air. Shopping malls in 2017 accounted for 8% of retailing space in the United States.

Bazaari differ from a social class as usually defined, in that they include both "rich wholesalers and bankers" as well as lower-income workers. [4] They are united not in their relation to the means of production but "in their resistance to dependence on the West and the spread of Western ways", their "traditionalist attitude", and their "close family, financial, and cultural ties" with the Shia ulama, or clerical class. [5]

Western culture Heritage of norms, customs, belief and political systems, and artifacts and technologies associated with Europe (both indigenous and foreign origin)

Western culture, sometimes equated with Western civilization, Occidental culture, the Western world, Western society, and European civilization, is a term used very broadly to refer to a heritage of social norms, ethical values, traditional customs, belief systems, political systems and specific artifacts and technologies that have some origin or association with Europe. The term also applies beyond Europe to countries and cultures whose histories are strongly connected to Europe by immigration, colonization, or influence. For example, Western culture includes countries in the Americas and Australasia, whose language and demographic ethnicity majorities are European. The development of western culture has been strongly influenced by Christianity.

Ulama class of Muslim legal scholars

In Sunni Islam, the ulama, are the guardians, transmitters and interpreters of religious knowledge, of Islamic doctrine and law.

Bazaari, "led by its large merchants", in alliance with ulama clergy "or important parts of the clergy", have played an important part in recent Iranian history. The alliance was "central" to the successful Tobacco Protest against a British monopoly tobacco concession of 1891–92, to the Constitutional Revolution of 1905–11, and especially to the 1979 overthrow of Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. [3] Bazaari supported victims of the anti-Shah struggles in 1978 and their families, as well as providing "financial support for the antiregime strikes that began in May 1978 among university students and teachers and in the fall [of 1978] spread to the workers and civil servants". [6]

Tobacco Protest

The Persian Tobacco Protest, was a Shi'a revolt in Iran against an 1890 tobacco concession granted by Nasir al-Din Shah of Persia to Great Britain, granting British control over growth, sale and export of tobacco. The protest was held by Tehran merchants in solidarity with the clerics. It climaxed in a widely obeyed December 1891 fatwa against tobacco use supposedly issued by Grand Ayatollah Mirza Hassan Shirazi.

Persian Constitutional Revolution

The Persian Constitutional Revolution, also known as the Constitutional Revolution of Iran, took place between 1905 and 1911. The revolution led to the establishment of a parliament in Persia (Iran) during the Qajar dynasty.

Mohammad Reza Pahlavi 20th-century Shah of Iran

Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, also known as Mohammad Reza Shah, was the last Shah of Iran from 16 September 1941 until his overthrow by the Islamic Revolution on 11 February 1979. Mohammad Reza Shah took the title Shahanshah on 26 October 1967 during his coronation ceremony. He was the second and last monarch of the House of Pahlavi. Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi held several other titles, including that of Aryamehr and Bozorg Arteshtaran ("Commander-in-Chief"). His dream of what he referred to as a "Great Civilisation" in Iran led to a rapid industrial and military modernisation, as well as economic and social reforms.

The bazaari continue to underpin the ruling elite today, [3] one example being Noor Foundation Director Mohsen Rafighdoost, whose wealth has been described by American journalist Robert D. Kaplan as likely to amount to "tens or hundreds of millions of dollars". [1]

Mohsen Rafighdoost Iranian businessman and politician

Mohsen Rafighdoost is an Iranian Revolutionary Guards military officer and politician. He is a member of the Islamic Coalition Party.

Robert D. Kaplan American writer

Robert David Kaplan is an American author. His books are on politics, primarily foreign affairs, and travel. His work over three decades has appeared in The Atlantic, The Washington Post, The New York Times, The New Republic, The National Interest, Foreign Affairs and The Wall Street Journal, among other newspapers and publications.

See also

Retail is the process of selling consumer goods or services to customers through multiple channels of distribution to earn a profit. Retailers satisfy demand identified through a supply chain. The term "retailer" is typically applied where a service provider fills the small orders of a large number of individuals, who are end-users, rather than large orders of a small number of wholesale, corporate or government clientele. Shopping generally refers to the act of buying products. Sometimes this is done to obtain final goods, including necessities such as food and clothing; sometimes it takes place as a recreational activity. Recreational shopping often involves window shopping and browsing: it does not always result in a purchase.

Social classes in Iran have been divided up into upper class, propertied middle class, salaried middle class, working class, independent farmers, and rural wage earners. A more recent source divides Iranian classes into upper, middle class, working class, and lower class. Former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad says 60 percent of his country's wealth is controlled by just 300 people in Iran. The gini coefficient was 0.38 in 2010 and the Human Development Index at 0.749 in 2013.


A souq or souk is a marketplace or commercial quarter in Western Asian, North African and some Horn African cities. The term souq goes by many alternatives in different parts of the world; in the Balkans, the term bedesten is used; in Malta the terms suq and sometimes monti are used for a marketplace; and in northern Morocco, the Spanish corruption socco is often used. The equivalent Persian term is "bazaar". In general a souq is synonymous with a bazaar or marketplace, and the term souq is used in Arabic-speaking countries.

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Grand Bazaar, Tehran bazaar

The Grand Bazaar is an old historical bazaar in Tehran, Iran. It is split into several corridors over 10 kilometres (6.2 mi) in length, each specializing in different types of goods, and has several entrances, with Sabze-Meydan being the main entrance.

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  1. 1 2 3 A Bazaari's World, Robert D. Kaplan, ATLANTIC MAGAZINE, March 1996
  2. Modern Iran: roots and results of revolution By Nikki R. Keddie
  3. 1 2 3 Better than the past, What recent history has taught Iranians, By Nikki Keddie, April 25, 2003, The Iranian
  4. Modern Iran By Nikki R. Keddie, p.226
  5. Modern Iran By Nikki R. Keddie, p.227
  6. Modern Iran By Nikki R. Keddie, p.228