The Cultural Transformation of Divorce in Pre-Islamic and Islamic Iran
The aim of this article is a comparative analysis of cultural diachronic changes in the phenomenon of divorce in specific historical periods of the development of Iranian society. The study employs historical-genetic and historical-comparative methods, and the method of empirical observations. The materials are historical sources, works of Iranian cultural scientists, philosophers, historians, and sociologists. The culture of divorce in ancient Iran is investigated, the rarity of this phenomenon in the Achaemenid era is noted, its causes are indicated, and the social reaction to incest and polygamy is revealed. The influence of Zoroastrianism on the practice of marriage and divorce in the Sassanid Empire is studied. In this era, consanguine marriages (xwedodah) and chakar zani (divorce of a woman from a man with the subsequent adoption by him of children born by a woman in the next marriage), as well as the prevalence of polygamy in aristocratic circles, are noted. The changes in the culture of divorce that took place in Iran with the adoption of Islam (650) are considered, the established mechanism of Islamic divorce is described. The peculiarities of divorce are noted during the seizure of Iran by the Turks, the rise to power of the Khorezmshahs, the Mongol conquest, and the rule of the Timurids. Various aspects of divorce in the Safavid era are analyzed, the significance of mahr (the remuneration that a wife received upon marriage) for financial support of a woman in case of divorce is determined. An increase in the number of divorces during the reign of the Afsharids and their decrease in the era of the Qajars, who were adherents of Islamic fundamentalism, are noted. The influence on marriage and divorce of the modernization processes that took place during the reign of the Pahlavi dynasty is considered. It has been found that as these processes deepened, the number of divorces increased. The procedures for divorce and the possible consequences of divorce for a woman at that time are described. The cultural changes that affected the institution of divorce after the Islamic revolution are examined. It is determined that the attitude of society towards divorce has been progressively changing from rejection and condemnation to a widespread “divorce by mutual consent” in recent years. It is concluded that the attitude of different generations of Iranians to divorce has always been negative, but in different historical periods this attitude had its own specifics. At the same time, the Iranian family has not completely lost its traditions, which does not allow regarding the processes of transformation of divorce as detraditionalization.