Before Safavid conversion of Iran to Shia religion in 1501 and established Twelver Shiism as the official religion of their empire, Persians were indeed Islamised, but it was not Arabised. Persians remained Persians. And after an interval of silence, Iran reemerged as a centre of Islamic studies and Islamic civilisation, producing scientists, Scholars and intellectuals, such as :
1. Ali Ibn Sina (Avicena), a polymath and the father of modern medicne
2. Ibrahim al-Fazari, Father of Modern astronomy
3. Jabir bin Hayyan, the first to prepare Sulfuric Acid (H2SO4)
4. Al-Khwarizmi, who introduced the decimal positional number system to the Western world, who presented the first systematic solution of linear and quadratic equations
5. Jalal ud din Rumi, the great Islamic sufi poet
6. Banu Musa, who wrote the Book of Ingenious Devices on automata (automatic machines) and mechanical devices
7. Al-Farabi renowned scientist philosopher, a cosmologist and logician
8. Ibn al-Haytham, nicknamed Ptolemaeus Secundus (“Ptolemy the Second”)
9. Ahmad Al-Biruni considered the “first anthropologist” and father of Indology
Culturally and politically the Iranian contribution to this new Islamic civilization is of immense importance. The work of Iranians can be seen in every field of cultural endeavor, including Arabic poetry, to which poets of Iranian origin composing their poems in Arabic made a very significant contribution. through out their history, Persians stood againsts the non-Muslim invasions, chased away their enemies and never let western powers to submerge it’s people.
It was this Persians, Not the Arabs, that was brought to new areas and new peoples: to the Turks, first in Central Asia and then in the Middle East in the country which came to be called Turkey, and India. The Ottoman Turks and Berbers of North Africa brought a form of Iranian civilization to the walls of Vienna and Spain.
Ibn Khaldun, the most respected Tunisian Sunni Muslim theologian and economist narrates in his Muqaddimah:
It is a remarkable fact that, with few exceptions, most Muslim scholars…in the intellectual sciences have been non-Arabs, thus the founders of grammar were Sibawaih and after him, al-Farsi and Az-Zajjaj. All of them were of Persian descent they invented rules of (Arabic) grammar. Great jurists were Persians. Only the Persians engaged in the task of preserving knowledge and writing systematic scholarly works. Thus the truth of the statement of the prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) becomes apparent, “If learning were suspended in the highest parts of heaven the Persians would attain it”…The intellectual sciences were also the preserve of the Persians, left alone by the Arabs, who did not cultivate them…as was the case with all crafts…This situation continued in the cities as long as the Persians and Persian countries, Iraq, Khorasan and Transoxiana (modern Central Asia), retained their sedentary culture.
In conclusion, I’d like to state that Arabism and Islamism are two different topics and we need to balance the Arabisation of Islam in that we maintain a comprehensive understanding and expression of Islam as it relates to our culture and language, just like our medieval Persian muslim counterparts.
We also need to understand that Arabic is not the language of Islam, rather it is the final language in which Islam was revealed and preserved.
If we were to say that Arabic is the language of Islam then we would be saying the great Noah, Abraham, Moses and Jesus (peace be upon them) were not true Muslims since they didn’t speak or know Arabic!