Persian Voices: Muslims Have No Memory of It

Muslims of Iran have been speaking of constitutionalism openly for a year and a half and secretly for thirty to forty years, and as we have observed, they are willing to risk their lives and property to achieve this worthy end. But without a doubt, as the knowledgeable ones (‘Oqala) among them attest, they still have not realized the importance of this desire, nor its substance, prerequisites, and implications, such that we are compelled to explain today that the transformation form a despotic to a constitutionalist monarchy is not, for example, like the simple exchange of authority from one leader to another in a village. Constitutionalism is a particular construct which has forsaken the Islamic world since the period of the first four caliphs; for over one thousand and two hundred years, we have forgotten the fundamentals of constitutionalism. We have lost and abandoned its name in all Islamic history, let alone the principles, conditions, and knowledge associated with it.

A constitutional monarchy has a different set of characteristics, principles, structures, and body of knowledge that set it apart from a despotic monarchy. Even though it[s precepts are] in harmony with the commands of the Qur’an and the just precepts of Islam, because of the time factor, and the fact Muslims have no memory of it, we are compelled to use terms from foreign languages, since they have engaged in developing them for a long time.

—Ali Akhbar Dehkhoda, Sur-e Esrafil Newspaper


Dehkhoda, Ali Akbar. “Charand-o Parand.” Sur-e Esrafil [Tehran] 1907-1908 Print.

H.E., Chehabi and Vanessa Martin. Iran’s Constitutional Revolution: Popular Politics, Cultural Transformations and Transnational Connections (International Library of Iranian Studies). 2015. Print. Pages 196-197


Editor’s Note: This newspaper was closed under pressure from the Tullab, religious students, which pronounced Dehkhoda a heretic.