Gabr – A derogatory term for non-Muslims still used by some today?

“Gabr” is a Persian word that was originally used to describe a follower of Zoroastrianism, a religion practiced in ancient Iran. Over time, the word came to have a negative connotation and was replaced by the term “Zardoshti.” By the 13th century, “gabr” was used to refer to anyone who followed a religion other than Islam, and non-Muslims who lived in restricted areas were called “Gabristans.”

Zoroaster in oil paint style
Zoroaster in oil paint style

In the Ottoman Empire, the Turkish word “gâvur” was used to refer to Christians and apparently is still used today by some in former Ottoman territories as a derogatory slur. The origin of the word is uncertain, but it may have come from the Aramaic word “gabrā” meaning “man.” During the Sasanian Empire, this word was used to describe a free peasant – that is, not a slave – in Mesopotamia. After the collapse of the empire and the rise of Islam, the word “gabr” was used by converted Persians to describe their Zoroastrian compatriots.

The theory that “gabr” may have been a mispronunciation of the Arabic word “kafir,” meaning “unbeliever,” has been rejected for both phonetic and semantic reasons.

What are you thinking?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.