Persian Voices: Modern Civilization

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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: Young Intellectuals during Raza Shah’s Reign

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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: By the Corrupt, for the Corrupt

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Persian Voices: Government of Corrupt

…a government of the corrupt, by the corrupt, and for the corrupt.

 

-Mohammad Mas’ud

 

Editor’s Note: In the history of modern Iran, it was once a practice for soldiers to go from door to door collecting taxes as wages instead of being paid a salary by the government.

Persian Voices: Paths of Progress and Advancement

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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: Habl al-Matin Newspaper

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Persian Voices: Habl al-Matin Newspaper

Our Nation, young and old women and men, have parted with their lives and anticipate that the Russians carry out their promise (to withdraw from the North) and hope for the just sentiments of other governments.”

—Habl al-Matin Newspaper

 

Habl al –Matin, 18 July 1910

Najmabadi, A. (2005). Woman with Mustaches and Men Without Beards gender and Sexual Anxieties. Berkeley, Los Angeles, London: University of California Press, p.215.

 

Editor’s Note: Russia and Britain declared zones of influence in the Anglo-Russian Entente in 1907. Later, during the American Mission of Morgan Shuster who was invited to Iran by the Iranian Parliament to set up a modern financial system in the country, Russia and Britain blocked these measures recruiting the local Bakhtiari tribe to stage a parliamentary coup in 1911 via the Russian Ultimatum. From that point on, the Russians sent 4,000 colonists to settle in northern Iran inducing by the time of WWI, the Ottoman invasion.

Persian Voices: Women Fought Like Male Lions

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Persian Voices: Women Fought Like Male Lions

You have witnessed the events of Karbala. Has your Islamic zeal been transformed into Jewish abjectness?

Shamelessly and disgrace, O you who are less than women! You have become silent and gone to sleep…. Women of Azerbaijan put on cartridge belts, breast-fed their infants in sorrow, and fought in the battlefield like male lions… But (it would seem that) our decent people were only those who murdered or imprisoned; the others have gone into a slumber of shame, like women in comfortable beds…. O you who have destroyed Islam’s honor! O you who have ruined the rights of humanity! You are shameless, less than women, nay! Less than dogs! Did you think that all Iranians are like you, women – tempered and worshipers of Antichrist?

—Night Letter

 

Afsaneh Najmabadi. (2005). Woman with Mustaches and Men Without Beards Gender and Sexual Anxieties. Berkeley, Los Angeles, London: University of California Press, p219.

Persian Voices: Muslims Have No Memory of It

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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.

Persian Voices: Doctors of Theology Reject or Repudiate

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Persian Voices: Doctors of Theology Reject or Repudiate

It is hereby declared that, it is for the learned doctors of theology (the ulema)… to determine whether such laws as may be proposed are or are not conformable to the rules of Islam; and it is therefore officially enacted that there shall at all times exist a committee composed of not less than five jujahids or other devout theologians, so that they may carefully discuss and consider all matters proposed in the Assembly, and reject and repudiate, wholly or in part, any such proposal which is at variance with the sacred laws of Islam, so that it shall not obtain the title of legality.

—Article 2 of 1907 Supplement of the Iranian Constitution

 

Edited by: John T. Ishiyama , Marijke Breuning. 21st Century Political Science: A Reference Handbook. Page 571. Thousand Oaks, California: Sage Publications, Inc., 2011. Print.

 

Editor’s Note 1: Iran’s 1906 constitution was modeled on the Belgium constitution, so the 1907 supplement limited the rule of law to conform to sharia law. This supplement was signed shortly after the Anglo-Russian Entente divided Iran into zones of influence.

Editor’s Note 2: This committee was never formally established, because Iran soon fell into civil war in 1908, but years later, the Islamic Republic of Iran established a similar panel called, the Council of Guardians consisting of 6 religious judges and 6 secular judges to determine the religious integrity of the law. This council establishes Iran’s present-day judicial review.

Persian Voices: Shaykh Fazlollah Nuri

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Persian Voices: Shaykh Fazlollah Nuri

During the revolution some naturalist intellectuals presented concepts such as constitutionalism, the legitimacy of the opinion of the majority, and soon, and because of supporting social justice, I tolerated them. But afterwards when they came to write the Constitution, I felt that there as a heresy there; otherwise, what does the deputy of the majles [parliament] mean? What is a parliamentary system? …If it aims to codify ‘orf’ [secular] law, there is no need of such a system; if it aims to interfere in religious affairs; such [parliamentary] deputies are not entitled to interfere in this area [Islamic law]. In the period of the Occultation [absence of the 12th Imam] this right belongs only to the ulema [Islamic clergy], not to people like grocers or cloth-sellers.”

—Shaykh Fazlollah Nuri, 1907

 

Enayat, Hadi. Law, State, and Society in Modern Iran Constitutionalism, Autocracy, and Legal Reform, 1906-1941. New York: Palgrave MacMilland, A division of St. martin’s Press LLC, , 2013. Print. Page 57

 

Editor’s Note 1: The shaykh was eventually executed by constitutionalists in 1909 for turning royalist, and was hailed many years later as a martyr in the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Editor’s Note 2: There are two periods of Occultation in Twelver shi’ism. The Minor Occultation begins when the Twelfth Imam disappears in 874 by the Gregorian calendar, and the Major Occultation begins in 941 which continues to present-day. Twelver Shia Muslims believe this Imam will one day return as a messiah. As centuries wore on with no return, the professional class of clergy emerged to lead the believing community and administer Islamic law.

Persian Voices: Eternal Damnation

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Persian Voices: Eternal Damnation

I am absolutely astonished at the attitude which the Majlis has adopted towards the question of the [Russian] ultimatum… At this moment, hostility and stubbornness would result in eternal damnation.

—Sayyed Hasan Taqizadeh, Telegram to the Majlis, 1911

 

Katouzian, H. (2013). Iran Politics, History and Literature. “Seyyed Hasan Taqizadeh.” London: Routledge, p.61.

 

Editor’s Note 1: Sayyed Hasan Taqizadeh sent more than thirteen telegrams to the Majles speaker, Soleyman Mirza, leader of the Democrats. The Russian Ultimatum occurred during the American mission of Morgan Shuster and ended in thousands of Russian troops entering Iran in 1911 usually argued as the close of the Constitutional Movement.

Editor’s Note 2: During Shuster’s Mission, 2 nitroglycerin labs were discovered in connection to assassination attempts linked to the anti-constitutionalist royal family who were backed by Russia.