Iranian

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It is easy to stereotype Iran with religious revolutions, militancy, extreme laws, and censorship. But that is only one side of the coin. For all the bad press it generates year on year, blame it on the stringent, strange laws of the land and even stranger lawmakers, Iran is a fairly interesting country teeming with unusual culture, talent, and people. From renowned astrologer, mathematician, and poet Omar Khayyam to celebrated theologian Jalal ad-Din Muhammed Rumi and from award-winning movie director Majid Majidi to Persian composer Mohammed Reza Lotfi, Iran has produced a wad of really gifted men and women. That is right! These Iranians have contributed to make rest of the world pro-Iran with their gargantuan contribution in diverse fields of art, literature, cinema, music, religion, dance, poetry, theologian, sportsmen, and politics. Read the biographies of famous Iranians and trail their timeline, trivia, and facts to unearth everything about their lives.
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 1 
Cyrus the Great
(Founder of First Persian Empire)
Cyrus the Great
4
Birthdate: 0590 BC
Birthplace: Anshan, Iran
Died: 0530 BC

Cyrus II, or Cyrus the Great, founded the first Persian empire, the Achaemenid Empire. His kingdom extended from Western Asia to Central Asia. He advocated centralized administration, with the help of local governors. The biblical Edict of Cyrus, named after him, talks about the return of the Jews to Israel.

 2 
Avicenna
(Persian polymath the most significant physiciansand writers of the Islamic Golden Age, and the father of early modern medicine.)
Avicenna
10
Birthdate: 0980 AD
Birthplace: Afshona, Uzbekistan
Died: May 31, 1037
Renowned as father of early modern medicine, Avicenna was an illustrious Persian polymath. He is specifically distingusihed for his contributions in the fields of medicine and Aristotelian philisophy. He is best-known for his works namely, The Canon of Medicine and The Book of Healing. The corpus of his writings also include alchemy, geology, psychology, geography, physics, poetry and Islamic theology.
 3 
Omar Khayyam
(Mathematician)
Omar Khayyam
17
Birthdate: May 18, 1048
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Nishapur, Khorasan, Iran
Died: December 4, 1131

Omar Khayyam was a Persian polymath, mathematician, philosopher, astronomer, and poet. In the field of mathematics, he is best known for his work on the classification and solution of cubic equations. As an astronomer, he designed a solar calendar known as the Jalali calendar. His philosophical attitude towards life had elements of pessimism, nihilism, Epicureanism, and fatalism. 

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 4 
Mohammad Reza Pahlavi
(Shah of Iran (1941-79))
Mohammad Reza Pahlavi
41
Birthdate: October 26, 1919
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Tehran, Iran
Died: July 27, 1980

Mohammad Reza Pahlavi served as the last king of Iran from 1941 to 1979. During his reign, Iran witnessed rapid military and industrial modernization and several social and economic reforms. During his rule, Iran also enjoyed a spike in economic growth, surpassing France, England, and the US. However, the Iranian Revolution, which was unusual in many ways, overthrew the king.

 5 
Xerxes I
(King of Kings of the Achaemenid Empire (486-465))
Xerxes I
14
Birthdate: 0519 BC
Birthplace: Achaemenid Empire
Died: July 31, 0466

Xerxes I ruled the Achaemenid Empire from 486 to 465 BC as the fourth King of Kings. During his reign, Xerxes I supervised the completion of several construction projects at Persepolis and Susa. A popular ruler, his life has been adapted into several plays and films; in the 1960 movie Esther and the King, Xerxes is played by Richard Egan.

 6 
Darius the Great
(King of Persia)
Darius the Great
3
Listed In: Emperors & Kings
Birthdate: 0550 AD
Birthplace: Iran
Died: September 30, 0487

Darius the Great was a Persian ruler. He served as the third King of Kings of the Achaemenid Empire from 522 BCE until he died in 486 BCE. The empire was at the peak of its glory under his reign and included much of Western Asia and parts of the Balkans. He invested a lot in construction projects.  

 7 
Golshifteh Farahani
(Iranian Actress)
Golshifteh Farahani
31
Birthdate: July 10, 1983
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Tehran, Iran

Golshifteh Farahani is an Iranian actress renowned for her achievements on the international stage. She is one of the few Iranian actresses to have worked in Hollywood films and many of her films have received international recognition. Farahani has also been advocating for the eradication of tuberculosis in her home country and often gets involved in environmental causes as well.

Abū Rayḥān al-Bīrūnī
11
Listed In: Scientists
Birthdate: 0973 AD
Birthplace: Beruni, Uzbekistan
Died: 1050 AD

Apart from being a pioneer of Indology and geodesy, Persian scholar Abū Rayḥān al-Bīrūnī also worked on subjects such as anthropology, math, and ethnography. It is believed he didn’t know his father. He had penned many works, such as the encyclopaedic volume The Chronology of Ancient Nations.

 9 
Esther
(Queen of the Persian king Ahasuerus)
Esther
12
Birthplace: Achaemenid Empire
Esther from the Book of Esther was a Jewish queen of the Persian king Ahasuerus. While the king’s advisor, Haman, angered by Esther’s cousin, Mordecai, planned to kill all Jews, Esther reversed the plan with the king’s permission. The Jewish festival Purim marks the day the Jews murdered their enemies.
 10 
Farah Pahlavi
(Queen Consort of the Shah of Iran)
Farah Pahlavi
21
Birthdate: October 14, 1938
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Tehran, Iran

Farah Pahlavi was the Shahbanu of Iran from 1961 to 1979, as the wife of Shah of Iran, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. Though she was not allowed to hold a political role, she worked for many charities and helped found Iran's first American-style university. She has continued her involvement in charity work even after her husband’s death in 1980. 

 11 
Maryam Mirzakhani
(First Iranian to Be Honored With the ‘Fields Medal’, the Most Prestigious Award in Mathematics)
Maryam Mirzakhani
9
Listed In: Scientists
Birthdate: May 12, 1977
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Tehran, Iran
Died: July 14, 2017

Maryam Mirzakhani was an Iranian mathematician best remembered for her innovative methods and research involving different branches of mathematics like symplectic geometry and ergodic theory. On 13 August 2014, she became the first Iranian and only woman to date to be honored with the prestigious Fields Medal. Maryam Mirzakhani died of breast cancer when she was 40 years old.

 12 
Christiane Amanpour
(Journalist, Television Host and Chief International Anchor for CNN)
Christiane Amanpour
47
Birthdate: January 12, 1958
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: London, England
British-Iranian journalist Christiane Amanpour is best known as the anchor of the CNN interview show Amanpour. She has also hosted PBS’s Amanpour & Company. She was criticized for her biased and pro-Muslim coverage of the Bosnian War. She has also been a UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador for Freedom of Expression.
 13 
Ali Daei
(Football player - Striker, Football manager)
Ali Daei
22
Listed In: Sportspersons
Birthdate: March 21, 1969
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Ardabil, Iran

Iranian football legend Ali Daei has been one of the best strikers from his country. His international record of scoring 109 goals was broken by Cristiano Ronaldo later. Apart from serving the Iranian team for 13 years, he also represented teams such as Bayern Munich. Post-retirement, he coached several teams.

 14 
Rezā Shāh
(Shah of Iran (1925-41))
Rezā Shāh
15
Listed In: Leaders
Birthdate: March 15, 1878
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Alasht, Iran
Died: July 26, 1944

Rezā Shāh was a military colonel who founded the Pahlavi dynasty and reigned as the Shah of Iran from December 1925 to September 1941. He was also the prime minister of Iran from October 1923 to November 1925. His tenure saw the introduction of many social, economic, and political reforms, and he is regarded as the founder of modern Iran. 

 15 
Muhammad of Ghor
11
Birthdate: 1149 AD
Birthplace: Ghor, Afghanistan
Died: March 15, 1206

Muhammad of Ghor of the Ghurid Empire went down in history as the man who established Muslim rule in the Indian subcontinent and set the tone for the upcoming Mughal dynasty. He ruled over a vast area, which included India, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iran, among others, along with his brother, Ghiyath ad-Din Muhammad.

 16 
Mohammad Mosaddegh
(Political Leader)
Mohammad Mosaddegh
13
Listed In: Leaders
Birthdate: June 16, 1882
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Tehran, Iran
Died: March 5, 1967
Born to an Iranian public officer, Iranian prime minister Mohammad Mosaddegh had an elite education in Switzerland. His oil-nationalization act brought about an economic crisis in the country. He was known to be an eccentric person who met visitors in pajamas, from his bed, and also cried in public.
 17 
Nader Shah
(Shah of Iran (1736-47))
Nader Shah
6
Birthdate: October 22, 1688
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Dargaz, Iran
Died: June 19, 1747

Nader Shah reigned over Iran as the Shah of Iran from 1736 until his death in 1747. He is widely regarded as one of the most powerful rulers in the history of Iran. He has also been described as the Napoleon of Persia, thanks to his military genius, which was evident in his several campaigns.

 18 
Al-Ghazālī
(Persian Polymath Considered as One of the Most Prominent and Influential Philosophers, Theologians, Jurists, Logicians and Mystics)
Al-Ghazālī
9
Birthdate: 1058 AD
Birthplace: Ṭūs, Iran
Died: December 19, 1111

Al-Ghazālī was a Persian Muslim polymath best remembered for his work in the fields of philosophy, theology, logic, and Sufism. Such was his popularity that al-Ghazali was awarded the honorific title Hujjat al-Islām during his lifetime itself. Among his other works, the Incoherence of the Philosophers is considered a landmark in the history of philosophy.

 19 
Mansour Bahrami
(Former Professional Tennis Player)
Mansour Bahrami
9
Listed In: Sportspersons
Birthdate: April 26, 1956
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Arak, Iran

Born to an Iranian hill tribesman, Mansour Bahrami grew up to be one of the greatest Iranian tennis players and a Wimbledon champion. The Islamic Revolution in his country later tagged tennis as capitalist, leading him to focus on gambling and backgammon, though he later returned to tennis.

 20 
Hafez
(14th Century Persian Lyric Poet)
Hafez
1
Listed In: Writers
Birthdate: 1325 AD
Birthplace: Shiraz, Iran
Died: 1390 AD

Hafez was a Persian lyric poet whose works are considered by many as an apex of Persian literature. Even today, his works are found in the homes of the Persian-speaking world and people learn his poems by heart as they find them extremely useful. Not surprisingly, his poems are used commonly among speakers of Persian as everyday proverbs and sayings.

 21 
Mehran Karimi Nasseri
15
Listed In: Miscellaneous
Birthdate: 1942 AD
Birthplace: Masjed Soleiman, Iran

Mehran Karimi Nasseri is an Iranian refugee who lived in the Charles de Gaulle Airport in France from 1988 to 2006. He claimed that he was expelled from Iran and because his entry to the airport was legal, the French authorities could not drive him away as he had no country of origin. His story has inspired films and documentaries.

 22 
Asghar Farhadi
(Iranian Film Director and Screenwriter)
Asghar Farhadi
9
Birthdate: May 7, 1972
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Khomeyni Shahr, Iran

Asghar Farhadi is an Iranian screenwriter and film director. In 2016, Farhadi became one of the few directors to receive two Oscars for Best Foreign Language Film. While his film The Salesman earned him an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film in 2016, he had previously won an Oscar for his 2011 film A Separation.

 23 
Abbas Kiarostami
(Film director, Screenwriter, Photographer, Film producer, Poet, Film editor)
Abbas Kiarostami
9
Birthdate: June 22, 1940
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Tehran
Died: July 4, 2016

Abbas Kiarostami was an Iranian screenwriter, film director, film producer, photographer, and poet. Over the course of his illustrious career, Kiarostami was honored with numerous awards such as the Jury Special Award at the Tehran International Film Festival and Best Film Award at the Iranian Film Festival for Children and Young Adults. 

 24 
Alireza Jahanbakhsh
(Iranian footballer)
Alireza Jahanbakhsh
6
Listed In: Sportspersons
Birthdate: August 11, 1993
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Jirandeh, Iran

Iranian footballer Alireza Jahanbakhsh is best known as an attacking midfielder/winger for the Dutch football club Feyenoord. Often compared to legendary Iranian player Mehdi Mahdavikia for his playing style, he gained praises from netizens in 2022, when a clip showing him helping a camerawoman get up after being knocked down went viral.

 25 
Hassan-i Sabbah
(Islamic religious leader)
Hassan-i Sabbah
3
Listed In: Leaders
Birthdate: 1050 AD
Birthplace: Qom, Iran
Died: June 12, 1124

Hassan-i Sabbah was an Islamic religious leader best remembered for founding the Nizari Isma'ili state and its infamous military group, the Order of Assassins. In the West, he came to be known as the Old Man of the Mountain and his life has inspired several works of art, including novels.

 26 
Shams Tabrizi
7
Listed In: Writers
Birthdate: 1185 AD
Birthplace: Tabriz, Iran
Died: 1248 AD

Shams Tabrizi was a Persian poet best remembered for playing an important role in the life of the popular poet and scholar, Rumi. Having served as a spiritual instructor of Rumi, Tabrizi is referenced with reverence in many of Rumi's poetic collection. An important historical figure in Iran, Tabrizi's tomb has been nominated as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.

 27 
Abdul Qadir Gilani
3
Listed In: Miscellaneous
Birthdate: March 23, 1078
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Gilan Province, Iran
Died: February 14, 1166

Abdul Qadir Gilani was a Sunni Muslim ascetic, mystic, preacher, theologian, and jurist. He is best remembered for founding the Qadiriyya tariqa of Sufism, which is named after him. Abdul Qadir Gilani was famous for his preaching and is credited with converting numerous Christians and Jews.

 28 
Al-Razi
(Polymath)
Al-Razi
1
Listed In: Physicians
Birthdate: 0854 AD
Birthplace: Ray
Died: October 15, 0925
 29 
Marjane Satrapi
(Graphic Novelist Known for Her Works 'Persepolis' and 'Chicken with Plums')
Marjane Satrapi
8
Birthdate: November 22, 1969
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Rasht, Iran

Marjane Satrapi is a graphic novelist, illustrator, cartoonist, children's book author, and film director. Satrapi achieved international recognition in the early-2000s after releasing her critically acclaimed graphic novels. She is best known for writing and directing an animated biographical drama film titled Persepolis, which received nominations at prestigious award ceremonies, such as the Academy Awards, BAFTA Awards, and Golden Globes.

 30 
Roxana
(Wife of Alexander the Great)
Roxana
11
Listed In: Miscellaneous
Birthdate: 0340 BC
Birthplace: Sogdia
Died: 0310 BC

Roxana was a Bactrian or a Sogdian princess who married Alexander the Great after the latter defeated Darius and invaded Persia. Roxana played a significant role in the life of Alexander. Hence, she is often included in the tales and stories that narrate Alexander's greatness and valor. In the 2004 epic historical film Alexander, Roxana is portrayed by Rosario Dawson.

 31 
Darius III
4
Listed In: Emperors & Kings
Birthdate: 0381 BC
Birthplace: Iran
Died: June 30, 0330

Darius III was the last Achaemenid King of Kings of Persia. He reigned from 336 BC to his death in 330 BC. Alexander the Great began his invasion of the Persian Empire in 334 BC and subsequently defeated the Persians in several battles. He then pursued Darius III. Before Alexander could reach him, Darius was killed by his relative Bessus. 

 32 
Mandana Karimi
(Actress, Model)
Mandana Karimi
14
Birthdate: May 19, 1988
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Tehran, Iran
 33 
Jabir Ibn Hayyan
12
Listed In: Writers
Birthdate: 0721 AD
Birthplace: Tous, Iran
Died: 0813 AD

Eighth-century alchemist and physician Jabir Ibn Hayyan has been credited with too many written works. Experts believe his vast works may not have been written by a single person. The Jabirian corpus, a collection of his works, is known for its "method of the balance" and its focus on chemistry.

 34 
Soraya Esfandiary-Bakhtiari
(Former Actress, Second wife of Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi)
Soraya Esfandiary-Bakhtiari
12
Listed In: Miscellaneous
Birthdate: June 22, 1932
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Esfahan, Iran
Died: October 26, 2001
 35 
Cambyses II
0
Birthdate: 0559 BC
Birthplace: Unknown
Died: June 30, 0522

Cambyses II was the second King of Kings of the Achaemenid Empire. He ruled from 530 BC to 522 BC. He was the son of Cyrus the Great and Cassandane. Before claiming the throne, he served as the governor of northern Babylonia under his father. His reign was relatively brief and marked by his conquests in Africa, notably Egypt. 

 36 
Artaxerxes I of Persia
(King of Kings of the Achaemenid Empire (465-424))
Artaxerxes I of Persia
0
Birthplace: Susa, Iran
Died: 0424 BC
Son of Xerxes I, Artaxerxes I of Persia, ascended to the throne after commander Artabanus killed his father. When he came to know of the crime, Artaxerxes killed Artabanus in a fight. He was also known as Longimanus, or long-handed, due to right hand being longer than his left.
 37 
Zoroaster
(Founder of Zoroastrianism)
Zoroaster
8
Zoroaster, also known as Zarathustra, was an Iranian spiritual leader who founded the religion Zoroastrianism, which challenged the traditional religious ideas of Ancient Persia. There is no record that states the exact period of his existence with certainty. He is said to have authored the Gathas and the Yasna Haptanghaiti.
 38 
Shohreh Aghdashloo
(Numerous starring roles on the stage)
Shohreh Aghdashloo
17
Birthdate: May 11, 1952
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Tehran, Iran
 39 
Ferdowsi
(Persian Poet and One of the Most Influential Figures of Persian Literature)
Ferdowsi
0
Listed In: Writers
Birthdate: 0940 AD
Birthplace: Tous, Iran
Died: 1020 AD

Ferdowsi was a Persian writer and poet best remembered for authoring Shahnameh which is considered the greatest epic in Persian speaking countries. Shahnameh is also one of the longest epic poems ever composed by a single poet. One of the most celebrated figures of Persian literature, Ferdowsi is also counted among the greatest in the history of literature.         . 

 40 
Ismail I
(sovereign, poet, writer)
Ismail I
5
Birthdate: July 17, 1487
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Ardabil
Died: May 23, 1524

Ismail I was the originator of the Safavid dynasty and ruled as the Shahanshah of Iran from 1501 to 1524. His reign is considered one of the most vital in Iranian history and his empire is regarded as one of the greatest in the history of Iran and one of the most powerful empires of the world during its peak. 

 41 
Navid Negahban
8
Birthdate: June 2, 1968
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Iran
 42 
Sardar Azmoun
(Association football player)
Sardar Azmoun
14
Listed In: Sportspersons
Birthdate: January 1, 1995
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Gonbad-e Qabus

Known as the Iranian Messi, Sardar Azmoun is one of the most popular Iranian footballers. While he spent his youth career playing for influential Iranian clubs such as Sepahan, he began his senior career with Russian clubs such as Rubin Kazan and later also represented the German club Bayer Leverkusen.

 43 
Tomyris
(Ruler)
Tomyris
6
Birthplace: Iran

A legendary figure, Tomyris was the fabled queen of the Massagetai, an Iranian tribal population. She is perhaps best remembered for her campaign against Cyrus II the Great of Persia, whom she attacked and killed, thus defending her forces. She has been the subject of many literary and artistic creations.

 44 
Nasir al-Din al-Tusi
3
Listed In: Architects
Birthdate: February 18, 1201
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Tous, Iran
Died: June 26, 1274

Persian polymath Nasir al-Din al-Tusi lost his jurist father in childhood and then went around as a scholar, learning subjects such as math and philosophy. He made invaluable contribution to astronomy and later served as a scientific advisor of the Mongols. One of his notable written works was Akhlaq-i Nasiri.

 45 
Saadi Shirazi
0
Listed In: Poets
Birthdate: 1210 AD
Birthplace: Shīrāz, Iran
Died: 1291 AD

Saadi Shirazi was a Persian prose writer and poet of the medieval period. He is often counted among the greatest poets who explored the classical literary tradition. Nicknamed the Master, Shirazi has also been quoted in the Western traditions. One of his best known works Bustan has been named by The Guardian in its 100 greatest books of all-time list. 

 46 
The Iron Sheik
(Professional Wrestler Best Known for His Crippling Camel Clutch Maneuver)
The Iron Sheik
14
Listed In: Sportspersons
Birthdate: March 15, 1942
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Damghan, Iran

Legendary Iranian wrestler Hossein Khosrow Ali Vaziri, better known as The Iron Sheik, scripted history by becoming the only Iranian with a WWE championship win. Known for his signature suplex and Camel Clutch tactics, he later also forayed into showbiz, acting in movies such as Operation Belvis Bash.

 47 
Maz Jobrani
(Comedians)
Maz Jobrani
13
Birthdate: February 26, 1972
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Tehran, Iran
 48 
Googoosh
(Singer)
Googoosh
15
Listed In: Singers
Birthdate: May 5, 1950
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Tehrān, Iran
 49 
Reza Pahlavi, Crown Prince of Iran
(Founder and leader of the self-styled National Council of Iran)
Reza Pahlavi, Crown Prince of Iran
15
Listed In: Miscellaneous
Birthdate: October 31, 1960
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Tehran, Iran

Reza Pahlavi is the oldest son of Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, the last Shah of Iran, and his wife Farah Diba. He was the crown prince before the Iranian Revolution overthrew the Pahlavi dynasty in 1979. He is the founder of the self-styled National Council of Iran and a prominent critic of Iran's Islamic Republic government. 

 50 
Shahnaz Pahlavi
(First child of the Shah of Iran, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi)
Shahnaz Pahlavi
9
Listed In: Miscellaneous
Birthdate: October 27, 1940
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Tehran, Iran