Persian Voices: Reza Shah Pahlavi


Persian Voices: Reza Shah Pahlavi

A soldier gives his life for his country on the battle field. You should do the same thing. You must sacrifice yourselves for the prestige of your country.

—Reza Shah Pahlavi


Edited by Albert , Hourani, Philip Shukry Khury and Mary Christina Wilson. The Modern Middle East: A Reader. Berkeley, Los Angeles: University of California Press , 1993. Page 688. Print.

Najmabadi A. (1991) Hazards of Modernity and Morality: Women, State and Ideology in Contemporary Iran. In: Kandiyoti D. (eds) Women, Islam and the State. Page 53. London: Palgrave MacMillan, A division of St. martin’s Press LLC, 1991. Print.


Editor’s Note 1: At a ceremony in 1933 for the newly established National Bank of Iran, Reza Shah demanded the bank employees to act as soldiers.

Editor’s Note 2: During Reza Shah’s reign, since national literacy levels were still quite low, many of the clerks employed across government institutions were from the religious establishment.

Persian Voices: No Medical Books at That Time in Persian


Persian Voices: No Medical Books at That Time in Persian

Until 1309 (1930) he practiced mostly old medicine [Islamic medicine]. When it was time to take the exam, he went to Tabriz. There he studied with Dr. Tofiq who had studied medicine in Switzerland. Because there were no medical books at that time in Persian, he used Istanbul-Turkish translations of European medial texts. He studied both theory and practice [modern medicine]. He learned from him how to use a stethoscope, to take blood pressure, and do examination of women. He then took the licensing exam and passed.

—Son of One Hakim


Ervand, Abrahamian. “The Iron Fist of Reza Shah.” A History of Modern Iran. Cambridge, New York: Cambridge University Press, 2008. 90. Print.

Persian Voices: Modern Civilization


Persian Voices: Modern Civilization

I told the king that modern civilization, which has become famous in the world, has two faces. One is manifested in boulevards and the other one in laboratories. I thought [Reza Shah] would get the point, but what emerged was more of the civilization of boulevards.

—Prime Minister Mehdiqoli Khan Hedayat


Farhang, Rajaee. “The Politics of Revival, 1920s-1960s.” Islamism and Modernism the changing Discourse in Iran. Austin: University Of Texas Press, 2007. 31. Print.

Persian Voices: A Fourth Power


Persian Voices: A Fourth Power

Among the powers of the state there is a fourth power which, if it should disappear would greatly harm freedom and the Constitution, for it represents public opinion… Of course, a power is required which is external, which may alert the public to current instances of both corrupt and good practices and educate people in regard to the good and the evil, and generally direct public opinion toward rightful ideas. Of course, I mean the press which represents political parties and groups and not the ideas of a single person…

—Ali-Akbar Davar, the Klub-e Mah, October 1922


H., Enayat. Law, STATE, AND SOCIETY IN MODERN IRAN Constitutionalism, Autocracy, and Legal Reform, 1906-1941. New York: Palgrave MacMillan, A division of St. martin’s Press LLC, , 2013. Page 120. Print.


Editor’s Note: Ali Akbar Davar constructed the modern judiciary under Reza Shah importing French judicial models to Iran, and even introduced a statistics division designed to improve the efficiency of the trial processes.

Persian Voices: Our Younger Intellectuals


Persian Voices: Our Younger Intellectuals

Our younger intellectuals cannot possibly understand, and thus cannot possibly judge Reza Shah. They cannot, because they were too young to remember the chaotic and desperate conditions out of which he arose.

—Ahmad Kasravi


Ervand, Abrahamian. “Chapter 3. “Ahmad Kasravi”. A History Of Modern Iran. New York, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008. Page 96. Print.

Shireen, T. Hunter. “Assessing Reza Shah.” Iran Divided: The Historical Roots of Iranian Debates on identity, Culture, and Governance the Twenty-First Century. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield , 2014. Page 49. Print.

Persian Voices: For I am Human


Persian Voices: For I am Human

With love in one hand,

Labor in the other,

I fashion the world

On the ground of my glorious brilliance,

And into a be

Of clouds I tuck

The scent of my smile,

That the sweet smelling rain

may bring to blossom

all of the loves of the world,

for a I am a woman

…for I am human.

—Partow Nooriala. Translated by Shahrzad Sepanlou

Persian Voices: Human Beings Are Members of A Whole


Persian Voices: Human Beings Are Members of A Whole

Human beings are members of a whole

In creation of one essence and one soul

If one member is afflicted with pain

Other members uneasy will remain

If you have no sympathy for human pain

The name of human you cannot retain

—Saadi Shirazi (Abu-Muhammad Muslih al-Din bin Abdollah Shirazi)


Editor’s Note: The voice of Saadi emerges from the time of the Mongol invasion and conquests within Iran, therefore speaks to the suffering of those low and high displaced and scattered across the land much like the war-torn region of today.

Persian Voices: Fever of High Prices and Hoarding


Persian Voices: Fever of High Prices and Hoarding

The problems of political and social life were reaching city squares and factories. In the civil service and the university, the young were becoming increasingly agitated. Adventures of various brands were busily enlisting the simple-minded to their own cause. The bazaar was gripped by the fever of high prices and hoarding. Everything was beyond reach—sugar, cloth, medicine, tires, rice, etc.—and everything was being greedily bought and sold. Every commodity … was being exchanged ten or twenty times a day, profit was added to profit, misery to misery. Typhus and inedible bread… were two prevailing calamities, and rationing coupons the foundation stone of windfall riches.

—A Noted Writer


Azimi, Fakhreeddin. (2008). QUEST FOR DEMOCRACY IN IRAN C: a century of struggle against authoritarian rule. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, p.122.

Persian Voices: My Face I Hide From All Eyes


Persian Voices: My Face I Hide From All Eyes

What if the rain does not stop

Until the earth sinks into the water

like a small boat?

Without you I grope in darkness, 0 my shining eyes!

Unveiling the Other

Without you tears, sorrow, regret are my guests.

My face I hide from all eyes,

—Parvin E’tesami

Persian Voices: Cursed Path Damns


Persian Voices: End of The Game

The soldiers

Passed by, shattered,


On scrawny horses,

Faded rags of ousted pride

Upon their spears.


What do you gain


To the world


Every particle of dust on your cursed path damns you?

—Shamloo, End of The Game


Shāmlū, Ahmad., Papan-Matin, Firoozeh. translated by, Land, Arthur. (2005). The love poems of Ahmad Shamlu. Bethesda, Mar.: IBEX Publishers, p.183.