Persian Voices: Iran’s Path to Modern Medicine


Persian Voices: Iran's Path to Modern Medicine

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: 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: Young Intellectuals during Raza Shah’s Reign


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: 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: Unveil My Scented Hair


Persian Voices: Unveil My Scented Hair

Should I unveil my scented hair

I’ll captivate every gazelle

Should I line my narcissus eyes

I’ll destroy the whole world with desire

—Tahereh (Qurrat al-Ayn)


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 92

Persian Voices: Persian is Sugar


Persian Voices: Saints and Sinners Treated Alike

In no other place on the face of the earth but in Iran are saints and sinners treated alike. Finally, after five long years of suffering and homelessness, I was returning home.

—Sayyid Muhammad Jamalzadeh, Persian Is Sugar


Sayyid Muhammad Jamalzadeh, from the collection: Once Upon a Time. Translated by Iraj Bashiri.


Editor’s Note: Persian Is Sugar is a known literary work famous for encapsulating the Constitutional Movement in Iran in which western-educated intellectuals participated in a revolution to transform Iran from autocratic rule to a constitutional monarchy with a parliament. Literary elites were often educated abroad and upon returning home could take up liberal causes though found themselves repeatedly up against larger forces from Iran’s government and conservative Islamic clergy.

Persian Voices: Moonlight


Persian Voices: Moonlight

Standing before the village

a single man

knapsack on his back, hand on the knocker, murmurs

Worry over this lot

ruins sleep in my tearful eyes.


Marcello, Di Cintio. “Moonlight” by Nima Yushij, Translated by Iraj Bashari. “Poets and Pahlevans: A Journey into the Heart of Iran”. Toronto: Vintage Canada Edition, a division of Random House of Cana Limited, 2007. Page 294. Print.


Editor’s Note: Nima Yushij is one of the first modernist poets in Iran writing in the genre known as New Poetry.

بر دم دهکده مردی تنها

کوله بارش بردوش

:دست او بر در، می گوید با خود

غم این خفته ی چند

.خواب در چشم ترم می شکند


می تراود مهتاب ، نیما یوشیج

Persian Voices: Path to Progress


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

Persian Voices: Two Irresponsible Groups


Persian Voices: Two Irresponsible Groups

I clearly remember the day when we heard that the reactionaries were busy sowing discontent among the young carpenters and sawyers. The former, angry at having been taken away from their livelihood, demanded to know what they had to gain from the whole venture. The latter, being illiterate and irrational, were reluctant to accept any logical arguments. If these two irresponsible groups had walked out, our whole movement would have suffered. Fortunately, we persuaded them to remain in bast (religious protest).

—Participant in Bast


Abrahamian, Ervand. “The Causes of the Constitutional Revolution in Iran.” International Journal of the Middle East Studies. Vol. 1 No.3 (Cambridge University Press): Page 407. Print

92-M. Heravi-Khurasani, Tarikh-I Paydayish-I Mashrutiyat-I Iran (The History of the Genesis of the Iranian Constitution) (Tehran, 1953), p.50.


Editor’s Note: In the few years leading up to the 1906 revolution, dissenters protested in both religious sites such as shrines and mosques as well as sites of foreign institutions in Iran including a Russian bank and British and Ottoman embassies. They coordinated strikes and protests using telegrams and newspapers which could be seen as an early modern form of social networking similar to today’s use of social media in resistance movements.

Persian Voices: Shrouds for the Dead


Persian Voices: Shrouds for the Dead

What are these unbecoming cloaks and veils?

They are shrouds for the dead, not for those alive

I say: “Death to those who bury women alive”

If a few poets add their voices to mine

A murmur of discontent will start

With it women will unveil

They’ll throw off their cloak of shame, be proud

Joy will return to lives

Otherwise, as long as women are in shrouds

Half the nation is not alive.

—Mirzadeh Eshqi


Milani, Farzaneh. “The Concept of Veiling.” Veils and Words: The Emerging Voices of Iranian Women Writers. London: I.B. Tauris & Co Ltd, p.29. Print


Editor’s Note: Sayed Mohammad Reza Kordestani with the pen name, Mirzadeh Eshqi was an Iranian political writer and poet.

چیست این چادر و روبنده نازیبنده؟
گر کفر نیست پس بگو! چیست این روبنده؟؟
مرده باد انکه زنان زنده به گور افکنده
با من ار یک دو سه گوینده هم اواز شود
کم کم این زمزمه در جامعه اغاز شود
با همین زمزمه ها روی زنان باز شود
زن کند جامه شرم ار و سرافراز شود
لذت زندگی از جامعه احراز شود
ورنه تا زن به کفن سربرده..
نیمی از ملت ایران مرده…
میرزاده عشقی