The Iranian minaret differs from all others. It almost certainly stems from a very old pre-Islamic culture and was adapted for use under the new religion. Like all cultures the ancient Iranians attached an importance both the vertical and horizontal alignment of space. Thus in its earliest manifestation the minaret was a form of delimiting space, a kind of totem, known as a mil from which we derive the English word "Mile". The word must have been converted into monareh or monar which philologically means "the place where light burns" under the Zoroastrians, and this gives a special significance to the atashgah, shown above, as the precursor of Iranian minarets.
Last Updated December 03, 1998