Persian Voices: Submission, Slavery, and Ignorance

O Iranians! O Brethren of my beloved country! Until when will this treacherous intoxication keep you slumbering? Enough of this intoxication. Lift up your heads. Open your eyes. Cast a glance around you, and behold how the world has become civilized. All the savages in Africa and negroes in Zanzibar are marching toward civilization, knowledge, labor, and riches.

Behold Your neighbors the Russians, who a hundred years ago were in much worse condition than we. Behold them now how they possess everything. In bygone days we had everything, and now all is gone. In the past, others looked on us as a great nation. Now we are reduced to such a condition that our neighbors of the north and south already believe us to be their property and divide our country between themselves.

We have no guns, no army, no secure finances, no proper government, no commercial law. All this backwardness is due to autocracy and to injustice and to want of laws. Also your clergy are at fault, for they preach life is short and worldly honors are only human vanities. These sermons lead you away from this world into submission, slavery, and ignorance.

The monarchs, at the same time, despoil you … And with all this come strangers who receive from you all your money, and instead furnish you with green, blue, and red cloth, gaudy glassware, and luxury furniture. These are the causes of your misery.

—Tehran sermon, 1906 or 1907


Abrahamian, ErvandA History of Modern Iran. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008. Print. Chapter 2,page 34.