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: 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: 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 bed

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: Fires of Norwuz


Persian Voices: Badr ol-Moluk Bamdad

Two or three years after the admission of girls to the university, some boy and girl students clubbed together in the days before Nowruz (the Iranian New Year on 21 March) and worked long and hard to organize a convivial celebration with the traditional bonfire on Chaharshanbe-ye Suri (the Wednesday before Norwuz). The bonfire symbolizes the end of dark days and the burning away of past evils. It was arranged that the bonfire should be lit in a certain large courtyard, and that the girl students, whose number had now risen, should form a ring round the fire and the boys should stand behind them and all should sing a Nowruz song. Probably at the suggestion of an agitator outside the university some boy students acting in concert stationed themselves just behind the girls and joined hands and all at once, pushed, with the intention of driving the girls so close to the fire that they would get scorched or burned.

—Badr ol-Moluk Bamdad


Farzaneh Milani, (1992). Veils and Words: The Emerging Voices of Iranian Women Writers, Contemporary Issues in the Middle East (Syracuse, N.Y.: Syracuse University Press, 1992). Page 26

Persian Voices: Peacock of Paradise


Persian Voices: Peacock of Paradise

She would decorate her assembly room like a bridal chamber and her body like a peacock of Paradise. Then she summoned the followers of the Bab and appeared unveiled in front of them. First she ascended a throne, and like a pious preacher reminded them of Heaven and Hell and quoted amply from the Qur’an and the traditions She would then tell them: “Whoever touches me, the intensity of Hell’s fire would not affect him.” The audience would then rise and come to her throne and kiss those lips of hers which put to shame the ruby of Ramman, and rub their faces against her breasts, which chagrined the pomegranates of the garden.

Mirza Muhammad Taqi Sepehr


Farzaneh Milani,(1992). Veils and Words: The Emerging Voices of Iranian Women Writers, Contemporary Issues in the Middle East (Syracuse, N.Y.: Syracuse University Press, 1992). Page 81


Editor’s Note: The writer describes Tahereh Qorratol’Ayn, a modern female writer cursed for her involvement in the Bahai’s Babi Movement.

Persian Voices: Afraid are the Cabinet, the Maglis, and the Army


Persian Voices: Afraid of The Shah

He has created an atmosphere of uncertainty and fear. The Cabinet is afraid of the Majles (parliament); the Majles is afraid of the army; and all are afraid of the [Reza] Shah.


The Iron Fist of Reza Shah


Editor’s Note: A British diplomat in Iran reported in 1926 that Reza Shah appeared to be working towards a military autocracy. By the end of the shah’s reign, he had purged Iran of many of the constitutionalists he had started out with until his authoritarianism began to drive his paranoia of an internal coup. He abdicated the throne during WWII under western pressure and a second constitutional period was ushered in between 1941 and 1953 which brought about renewed vigor towards communism and militant Islam.

Persian Voices: Paths of Progress and Advancement


Persian Voices: Paths of Progress and Advancement

Oh, my zealous children! In the present epoch there remain on the historical scene no traces of the signs of savagery and other barbarity, and today, when even the blacks and beasts of Africa have elected the paths of progress and advancement, it in neither permitted nor appropriate that the sons of the ancient land of Iran, with its resplendent historical tradition and civilization, should still roam and wander like savage beasts across the deserts and mountains. All of the you must abandon this wandering and nomadic existence and resume once more that mode of life of your illustrious forebears who caused cities to flourish and prosper.

—Reza Khan, Commander – in – Chief of the Armed Forces,14 February 1925


Potts, Era D. T. “From World War I to Present.” NOMADISM IN IRAN From Antiquity to The Modern Era. New York: Oxford University Press, February 14,1925. Reza Khan, Commander-in -Chief of the Armed Forces.2014. Page 374. Print.


Editor’s Note: In ancient Persia, the tribes on the plateau eventually encountered the urban civilization of the Elamites from Elam in Western Iran who constructed fixed buildings and practiced farming. In the 1920s and 30s, Reza Shah used Iran’s modern army to settle the tribes by force desiring the tribes to live as their ancient ancestors, the Elamites.

Persian Voices: From Isfahan to Shushtar


Persian Voices: Settle On The Land

If a strong state were created, the reprisal of law would spread among the tribes and in the mountains, places that are now far from the manners and culture of the cities. In fact, their condition is completely contrary to that of the city. The Bakhtiyari tribes are spread from the mountains of Isfahan to the Shushtar… and it can be said that they, and other tribes, have never been fully under the rule of any sultan. In the impenetrable and lofty mountains, they still live according to their own customs and ways. They pay little heed to the central government and its representatives, only providing some soldiers and paying scant taxes for the portions of land they hold in the foothills. To the point that it has been able, the state has followed a policy of urging these tribes to settle on the land mostly because if they settled on the land, perhaps with the passing of time they would become assimilated to adjacent lands that had always been exposed to their gallop and attack

—Muhammad Taqi Khan Hakim, 1880s


Arash, Khazeni. “Conclusion.” Tribes and Empire on the margins of Nineteenth-Century Iran. Washington D.C.: University of Washington Press, 192. Print.

Persian Voices: Duties of Islam


Persian Voices: Long Live The Anjuman

Long live the anjuman [secret society]… The acquisition of the knowledge of jihad, … is one of the duties of the Islam.

—Speech, Member of Tabriz Anjuman


Vanessa, Martin. Iran Between Islamic Nationalism and Secularism: The Constitution Revolution of 1906. Page 128. London: I.B. Tauris, 2013. Print.