Persian Voices: Path to Progress

According to the opinions of the reactionaries … or those people who hold on to their esteemed fathers’ imaginings, no matter how sordid, and who consider it among their sacred duties to maintain them. The height of human achievement began a few years before Ya’rub ibn Qahtan” with the conquest of herds of sheep and camels and the migrations of the tribes of the Mesopotamian region, and ends with the illness, laziness, sloth, and the state of infirmity of contemporary Iran …. But according to those whose opinions respect the stature and dignity of humankind, and believe in at lease a slight advantage of man over earthworm, the point of destination … is doubtlessly connected to the endless and limitless knowledge of God …. Human knowledge and achievement cannot be limited to the opinions of Socrates, or the ideas of Aristotle or the knowledge of Spencer or Kant. … Whichever level humanity reaches, the wall of ignorance should not be an obstacle to [further] progress. The progress of humanity has no rational limit. … All the necessities and tools for the achievement of progress and completion already exist in every human being, as does the natural will to progress, improve and complete the self. The help of no sovereign, the leadership and direction of no leader, the guidance and initiative of no moral guide, is worth a pea in the quest and preparation for the means of progress and human perfection (kamal-e bashari). It is sufficient to allow each human being to pursue his/her own path to progress and self-fulfillment. The only favor that must be asked of every spiritual and corporeal leader is that from now on, it is not necessary for you to introduce us to our desired method of progress and self-fulfillment through the force of the baton, or the struggle of argument, or the whip of religion. Just allow us the right to identify and determine our own [path to progress] …. The meaning of the new word freedom … is precisely this- that the claimants to the leadership of this graveyard that is Iran should not limit [the quest for] human perfection to their definitions alone, but to grant permission for human beings to use their own innate powers to determine their path to progress and perfection and to pursue it without fear.

—Treatise, Ali Akbar Dehkhoda, 1907-1908


H.E. Chehabi / Vanessa Martin: Iran’s Constitutional Revolution Popular Politics, Cultural Transformations, and Transnational Connections (International Library of Iranian Studies). Print. Page200