Persian Voices: 53 Marxists


Persian Voices: Bozorg Alavi

Old trees were fighting with one another. From woods the cry of a tortured woman could be heard. The blowing gale had unbounded the silent songs. Chains of rain had fastened the murky sky to the muddy ground. Rivers were revolting and the flowing of water was pouring everywhere.

—Bozorg Alavi, Gilemard


Edited by Scott Slovic, Swarnalatha Rangarajan and Vidya Sarveswaran. “Zahra Pasrpour (Bozorg Alavi Gilmard).” Ecocritism of the Global South. Lanham: Lexington Books, 2015. Page 242. Print.


Editor’s Note: Bozorg Alavi was one of the 53 marxists convicted and sent to prison in the show trial of 1938. He originated the new literary genre called, Prison Literature in Iran. Prior to that he published a journal called, Peykar and co-published another journal called, Donya. The surviving prisoners were freed after the Allied Invasion in 1941, and eventually Alavi wrote propaganda for the Tudeh Party. Later, he exiled to Germany.

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.

Persian Voices: Survival of Islam


Persian Voices: Survival of Islam

Because the survival of Islam today is subject to the sacred constitution, based on Islamic Sharia law these people are like the ones who were gathered in Karbala and attempted to murder innocent Imam (Imam Hossein), each arrow towards Muslims look like it was shot into the body of the Imam Sayed Shohada (Imam Hossein). If these communities cause fear and insecurity for Muslims, these communities like those who gave fear in Karbala to Imam Hossein’s family.

These people and their successors will fail in the world and be rejected. In the hereafter the martyrs of Hussein, will be resurrected. Those who took money in Kufa to fight Sayyid al-Shuhada (Hossein) were the same as these people.

—Fatwa of Ulema of Isfahan, In the name of God, Mohammad Taghi Najafi, Sheikh Noor Allah, Abu al-Qasim Mosavi, Hassan Mousavi, Abul al-Hasan Tabatabai, Muhammad Baqir al-Tabatabai, Muhammad Ali golestani, Ismail Tabatabai, Ahmed al-Husseini, Nasreddin Shaykh al-Islam, Mohammad Reza Husseini, Dai Ismail.


Nazem Al-Islam, Kermani. The History of Iranian Awakening. No.3. Tehran: Agah & Louh, 1978. Page 557. Print.

Persian Voices: Women of Islam


Persian Voices: Women of Islam

There is no religious objection to such gatherings, and women of Islam have always and everywhere come together. Also, according to the Constitution, this is not objectionable. When it (the Constitution) says an Iranian, the word is inclusive of men and women both. So long as gatherings are not disruptive of religious and worldly affairs, there is no harm and no prohibition.

—Hasan Taqizadeh


Afsaneh, Najmabadi. Women with Mustaches and Men Without Beards: Gender and Sexual Anxieties of Iranian Modernity. Page 209. Berkeley, Los Angeles, London: University of California Press, 2005. Print.

Persian Voices: Don’t Cry


Persian Voices: Don’t Cry

Dust on my head! The child has woken up!

Go to sleep my pet; the Bogey man is coming!

Don’t cry! The ogre will come and eat you up! The cat will come and take away your kiddy!

What ails you, my pet? I am hungry [you say]? May you burst! You have eaten all this: is it too little?

Go out, dog! Pussy, puss, puss, come here! Hushaby, darling! You are my rose! Hush, hush!

“Mamma! I am ready to die with hunger!”

Don’t cry!

O dear, Mamma! My life is ready to leave me!”

Don’t cry! The pot is just on the boil!

“O my hand! See, it is as cold as ice!”

Fie, fie, my Soul! See, the breast is dry!

“Why does my head spin so?” [Because} the lice are digging holes in your head!

Akh-kh-kh! What ails you, my Soul?

Haq, haq! O my Aunt! Why are its eyes turned up to the ceiling?

Come here! Alas, see its body also has become cold!

Dust on my head! Why has its color turned so pale?

Woe is me! My child is gone from my hands!

Alas, alas! To me there remain but sighs and grief! Alas, alas!

—Charand Parand, Sur-IIsrafil, 27 Feb 1908


Partly Based on the Manuscript Work of Mírzá Muhammad ʻAlí Khán , Tarbiyat and By: Edward Granville Brown. The Press and Poetry of Modern Persia: Partly Based on the Manuscript Work of Mírzá Muhammad ʻAlí Khán . Page 249-250. London: Cambridge University Press , 1914. Print.


Editor’s Note: The writer of the poem likens the inexperienced constitutionalists of the time who are unable to immediately remedy the sufferings of the Persian people to a new mother incompetent to care for her infant.


The other Translation:

Oh, Bother! The child has woken up!

Go to sleep, pet-the boogeyman’s coming!

Don’t cry, or the ogre will come and eat you up!

The cat will take away your bunny!

Boohoo, boohoo-What is it, sweetie? -I’m hungry!

May you burst! All that food you ate isn’t enough!

Get out, dog! Nice kitty, here, kitty, kitty!

Hushaby, darling, my flower, hush, hush!

Don’t cry; the pot’s just coming to a boil.

But see, my hand is as cold as ice!

Tsk, tsk, pet; my milk is all gone.

Why is my head spinning so?

The lice are digging holes in your scalp.

Akh-kh-kh…Darling, what’s the matter with you?

(Convulsive sobs)

God help me! Why are his eyes rolled up toward the ceiling?

Oh come and look, his body is cold as well!

Why, oh woe, has he gone so pale?

Oh, woe! My child has slipped away! Alas, alas!

And I am left with only sighs and sorrow.

Persian Voices: Women Fought Like Male Lions


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: Gathering of Women


Persian Voices: Gathering of Women

First, we must ascertain whether from the beginning of Islam to the present day, the gathering of women in one place has been religiously prohibited. This name, association (anjuman) [secret society], is of course a new expression. What harm would it ensue if some women got together and learned good moral behavior from each other? Of course, if it became evident that some corruption of religious or worldly matters is caused by them, then it should be stopped; otherwise, in principle, this should not be a bad development.

—Vakil al- Ru’aya, 12 March 1908


Afsaneh, Najmabadi. Women with Mustaches and Men Without Beards: Gender and Sexual Anxieties of Iranian Modernity. Page 209. Berkeley, Los Angeles, London: University of California Press, 2005. Print.


Editor’s Note: Here parliament debates the legality of women’s associations as women based anjomans organized efforts to raise funds for girls’ schools, the National Bank, and the victims of battles in Azerbaijan.

Persian Voices: Muslims Have No Memory of It


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: Shaykh Fazlollah Nuri


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.