By: Amil Imani
October 29th has been designated as the international day of Cyrus the Great, king of Persia, who declared the first charter of human rights in the world, also known as the Cyrus Cylinder. In 539 BC, Persian troops entered the city of Babylon, without encountering any resistance. On October 29th, Cyrus himself entered the city, assuming the titles of "King of Babylon, King of Sumer and Akkad, King of the four corners of the world.” The Cyrus Cylinder was placed under the walls of Babylon as a foundation deposit, following a long Babylonian tradition.
Cyrus the Great proclaimed more than 2500 years ago: “Today, I announce that everyone is free to choose a religion. People are free to live in all regions and take up a job provided that they never violate other's rights.” Cyrus the Great declared himself not a conqueror, but a liberator and the rightful successor to the crown.
Iranians are proud spiritual descendants of King Cyrus the Great, the author of the first charter of human rights. Some of Cyrus’ children live in the patch of land called Iran. The overwhelming majority—free humans with human beliefs—live in every country, city, and village of the earth.
These world-wide people, one and all, irrespective of nationality, color, or creed are Iranians because they all adhere to the Cyrus Charter; they practice and defend its lofty tenets and transfer this humanity’s precious treasure to the next generation.
The ancient world held universal admiration for the beliefs and practices of the Persians as enshrined in the Cyrus Charter of Human Rights. Even the Greeks, the traditional adversaries of the Persians, called Cyrus “The Lawgiver.” History has recorded that Cyrus did accomplish the task for which he was foreordained.
Alexander the Great plundered Persia. He destroyed and burned Persepolis, the magnificent palace complex of the Achaemenid kings in the province of Pars. Yet, Alexander paid tribute to Cyrus the Great at his tomb. This shows how much Cyrus the Great was respected, even in the eyes of his fierce enemies.
Cyrus the Great was an adherent to the faith of Zoroaster, which was based on the triad of Good Thoughts, Good Speech and Good Deeds and constituted the standard of life for the Persian. Other teachings of the faith of Zoroaster, arguably the most ancient divine religion, have inspired the teachings of other faiths.
Cyrus the Great has been given many names: Cyrus the enlightened liberator, Cyrus the benevolent, Cyrus the Law-giver, Cyrus the righteous, Cyrus the heroic conqueror, Cyrus the tolerant King, and many more. No other man so far back in ancient history had been showered with such accolades by kings and emperors who knew of him only by reputation.
Cyrus the Great is the founding father of Persia and the mighty Persian Empire— perhaps the most exemplary, magnificent and just king the world has ever seen.
An illustration of the benevolent
beliefs and practices launched by this unsurpassed historical figure
goes back to the landmark action of King Cyrus the Great of Persia. In
539 B.C., having conquered Babylon, the benevolent King Cyrus freed the
Jews from captivity and empowered them to return to the Promised Land
and build their temple.
In the book of Isaiah, Cyrus, the King of Persia, a non-Jew was called the “mash'aka” by God, according to Isaiah when he wrote: “Thus said the Lord to his 'mash'aka (anointed), to Cyrus” (Isaiah 45:1). Jeremiah also told that Cyrus was commissioned by God to go to Jerusalem and build the Second Temple.
"Who carry the vessels of the Lord" (v. 11b). Ezra tells the story of the departure of the exiles from Babylonia: "King Cyrus himself brought out the vessels of the house of the LORD that Nebuchadnezzar had carried away from Jerusalem and placed in the house of his gods" (Ezra 1:7).
"This says the Lord to his anointed, to Cyrus, whom I have seized by the right, to subdue nations before him. Yes, I will open the loins of kings, to open the two-leaved doors before him, and the gates shall not be shut. I will go before you and make hills level; I will tear apart the bronze doors and cut the iron bars in two. And I will give you the treasures of darkness, even treasures in secret places, that you may know that I am the Lord who calls you by your name, I the God of Israel" (vs.1-3 Para.).”
To Cyrus the Great, humanity was one
widely dispersed family. He believed in this tenet long before
unequivocal genetic findings clearly established that biologically there
is only one human race; that the genetic variation within a single troop
of chimpanzees, for instance, is greater than that of any two human
groupings, no matter how different they may appear physically.
But once again, human decency is rising to the challenge, this time in the voice and actions of billions of free people who proclaim: we are also children of Cyrus the Great; we meet any challenge and pay any price to defeat tyranny; and we will not rest until humanity is completely free of the despotic rule of Islamofascism.
Amil Imani is an Iranian-born American citizen and pro-democracy activist residing in the United States of America. Imani is a columnist, literary translator, novelist and an essayist, who has been writing and speaking out for the struggling people of his native land, Iran. He maintains a website at Amil Imani