Persian Voices: Foreigners’ Control

If thou wilt not arise to help this people, and wilt not unite them in purpose, and pluck them forth, by the power of the Holy Law, from the hands of this sinner, verily the realms of Islam will soon be under the control of foreigners, who will rule therein as they please and do what they will.

—Letter from Sayed Jamal al Din Afghani to Mirza Hassan Shirazi


Amirahmadi, Hooshang. The political economy of Iran under the Qajars: society, politics, economics and foreign relations, 1796-1926. I.B. Tauris, 2012. Page 203

Persian Voices: Law and More Law

By what law have the people of Iran died that the government is auctioning away their inheritance?

Dear Merchant,

The government has mistaken our inaction for our death. It is time for the mujtaheds and other knowledgeable persons to arise and save the people of Iran. We propose two simple remedies to save Iran: law and more law. You may well ask, “where will this law come from?” the answer is again simple: the shah should call at once one hundred mujtaheds and other learned persons of the country into a national consultative assembly (majles-i shawra-yi melli); and this assembly should have full authority to formable laws that would initiate social progress.

—Malkum Khan, A Letter from Qazvin, Qanun, No. 6 (July 1890)


Abrahamian, Ervand. Iran between two revolutions. Princeton University Press, 1982. Qanun No.6 (July 1890) “A Letter from Qazvin” Malkum Khan page 69


Editor’s Note: Malkum Khan was one of the foremost proponents of constitutional government, but his old age prevented him from actively participating in revolution. He died in Europe a few days after the outbreak of the civil war in Iran in 1908. During his life-time, he published the newspaper called, Qanun (Law).

Persian Voices: Weak-Minded and Immoral

I offer this letter with the appeal of Islam’s nation to the great leader who has taken the lead of the nation in his hands.

You are a successor of the lord of time, …and God gave you control of the nation… and the task of dispelling doubts from the hearts of the people.

…God gave you the task of protecting Islam and the Islamic nation. This task is on your shoulders in so far as you may become a martyr in this way. All of the muslim nations rich or poor, from city or desert, low or high level believe you and kneel in-front of your magnitude.

…The king is weak-minded and immoral. He can’t control the country, and he gives power to an evil man who insults prophets… He insults Mohammad’s ancestors, and acts cruel with preachers. He came back from European countries, and lost his prudency. He became hard-mouthed, drank alcohol, and made friends with non-Muslims and became an enemy of good people.

He has done so many things against Muslim rights and to enemies of the country he has sold parts such as:

1- Mines and all roads from mines to important cities in the country.

2- Carvan-Saras which are around roads (Shuseh) and farms and gardens around these roads.

3- Karoun River and motels around this river and all lands which are related to this river.

4- Road from Tehran to Ahvaz and all building, motels, gardens and farms around this road.

5- Tobacco and every thing is necessary for this product include : house of protectors, transit, sellers and everything related to this item sold.

6- Collecting grapes for making wine and all equipment of making this in the whole country.

7- Soap, candles, sugar, and factories make these items.

8- Banks: Banking is a way to give the control of society to the enemy and make us servants of non-muslins.

This betrayer and foolish king says they are temporary contracts and won’t be longer than 100 years.

…Mujtahid Ali Akbar was in Basreh and asked me to write a letter for a leader of Islam, and explain about these corruptions. I accepted his request, and I wrote this letter and I know God with your hand will solve our problems.

— Letter from Jamal- al Din Asad Abadi Al Hosseini Afghani in the Ottoman Empire to Mirza Hassan Shirazi, marja in Iran.


Kirmānī, Nazim al-Islam., and Seyed Taghi. Barakchian. An annotated translation of Nazim al-Islam Kermani T̲a̲r̲i̲k̲h̲-̲i̲ B̲i̲d̲a̲r̲i̲-̲i̲ I̲r̲a̲n̲i̲a̲n̲ (History of Iranian awakening) vol. III. 1983. Page 88


Editor’s Note: Translation of a historical letter of Sayed Jamal Al Din Afghani to late Haj Mirza Hasan Shirazi (May Allah Guide Him) from Basreh to Samereh.

Persian Voices: By What Law

God has blessed Iran. Unfortunately, His blessing has been negated by the lack of laws. No one in Iran feels secure because no one in Iran is safeguarded by laws. The appointment of governors is carried out without laws. The dismissal of officers is done without laws. The monopolies are sold without any laws. The estate finances are squandered without laws. The stomachs of innocent citizens are cut open without laws. Even the servants of God are deported without laws.


Everyone in India, Paris, Tiflis, Egypt, Istanbul, and even among the Turkoman tribes, knows his rights and duties. But no one in Iran knows his rights and duties.


By what law was this mujtahed deported?

By what law was that officer cut into pieces?

By what law was this minister dismissed?

By what law was that idiot given a robe of honor?


The servants of foreign diplomats have more security than the noble princes of Iran. Even the brothers and sons of the shah do not know what tomorrow will bring – whether exile to Iraq or flight for dear life to Russia.

—Malkum Khan, 1890


Ervand, Abrahamian. “Qanun No.1 (February 1890)” God Has Blessed Iran” Malkum Khan.” Iran Between Two revolutions”. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1982. Page 68. Print.

Persian Voices: Bread Riot

The prices of grain and victuals went up at Shiraz and in the districts of Fars. The merchants and inhabitants of Shiraz together with the widows, orphans, and gossipy women complained and crowded together on the Meidan and at the entrance of the government buildings, demanding Hosam os-Saltana to lower the price of bread and to increase provisions.


Amirahmadi, Hooshang. The Political Economy of Iran Under the Qajars. I.B. Tauris, 2012. Page 194


Editor note: In the winter of 1866-7, prices of bread had risen from 70 to 150 percent, causing a riot and hunger revolt.