The Evolution of Kasravi's History

The al-'Irfan Eighteen Year History of Azerbaijan

Kasravi is perhaps best known for his monumental Tarikh-e Mashruteye Iran, which has for generations formed the Iranian view of the constitutional revolution. It is not generally appreciated that this work was published in three different versions and went through a considerable evolution in the process.

The first version was the one serialized in Arabic in al-'Irfan vol. 1, nos. 1-10 between September 1923 and July 1924. It took the history up to Sayyed Zia's coup, before Kasravi stopped the serialization. The second, Tarikh-e Hejde Saleye Azarbayjan, was serialized in Kasravi's magazine Peiman from volumes II through VII, roughly January 1934 through June 1941. This edition took the story to the high point of Sheikh Mohammad Khiabani's uprising. "The first part of this second version (through the end of the fighting between the constitutionalist forces in Tabriz and the central government's forces and the Russian entry into Tabriz) was republished in corrected form and was planned for publication in early 1941 as Tarikh-e Mashruteye Iran, Vol. 6, no.:10 (Dei 1319) even while the rest of this second version was being serialized. The rest was published unedited taking the history up to Reza Khan Sardar-e Sepah's crushing of Simqo's revolt, and misnamed the Eighteen Year History of Azerbaijan. (It was more an eleven year history.)

Kasravi describes the circumstances which led him to write the History in his introduction (dibache) to the Peiman version, Vol. 1, pp. 8-12. (Peiman vol. 2, no., Dei 1313) a summary of which appears in the al-'Irfan version. This introduction seems to date back to the original work with some additional comments added in. In this piece, he recalls how in September 1921, he had left Tabriz for Tehran, weeping over the death of his young wife and the catastrophes afflicting his native province. Soon after reaching Tehran, he was sent to Mazandaran, where the news of the disastrous campaign against the Kurdish revolt, in which a dear friend of his died, reached him. After returning to Tehran in the spring of 1922, he was dispatched to Damavand, where tidings of victory over the rebels reached him, and he determined to write about these events. In his biography, he mentions Zendeganiye Man (np, Tehran, 1333/1954), pp. 141-3. that he spent his time beginning to write the Arabic digest of his history (presumably, if we accept the version of events given in the Peiman version, summarized from an already-existing work in Persian) just after having received letters about the fighting with Simqo. According to his account in the al-'Irfan, he did not have access to books or newspapers. In his introduction to the Peiman version he says that he worked for three months while in Damavand during his free time Introduction, al-'Irfan, vol. 9, no. 1 (October 1923), p. 52. on notes on the 17 years 1905-1922. He then returned to Tehran. While there, he got access to books and journals. In the al-'Irfan version, loc. cit. he lists these books as Balvaye Tabriz (BT), against which he checked his recollections, and which indeed did become his major written source, and Browne's The Persian Revolution. One passage in the al-'Irfan version and another the Peiman version show some influence from Nazem ol-Eslam Kermani's Tarikh-e Bidariye Iranian, particularly regarding the occupation of the British embassy in Tehran and its discussion of the role of secret societies in among the Tehran constitutionalists. Vol. 1, p. 14 (Peiman, vol. 2, no 1 (Dei 1313). TBI is referred to as a source explicitly on the next page. Indeed, Kasravi elsewhere mentions that he had found only that portion of this history which dealt with the period leading up to the granting of the Constitution. As late as January 1935, in vol. 2, p. 3 (Peiman, vol 3, no. 1 (Bahman 1314), p. 3, Kasravi was of the mistaken belief that TBI only went up to the granting of the Constitution. Kasravi then went to Zanjan (winter 1922-23 to the end of spring 1923), where he heard news of the central government's victories against the tribes, and so now his work became an 18 year history. In his memoirs, he recalls Zendeganiye Ma, pp. 175-6. See also 18A, Introduction, al-'Irfan, vol. 9, no. 1, October 1923, p. 52. that he spent his "idle hours" while head of the appeals court in Zanjan rewriting and improving this Arabic history "which I had written in Damavand" using newspapers for which he had sent away to Tabriz, further reworking his memoirs of the events with the aid of written sources. There is no indication in the al-'Irfan version that he had used any of the Iranian press of the period for this first version, but the Peiman version makes extensive use of Anjoman. This would have happened no earlier than the spring of 1923, and indeed the first part of the work was published in September of that year.

By the time the Peiman version is serialized it is clear that that Kasravi had read Anjoman and the British Blue Books in their Persian translation. Working on the Peiman version, Kasravi acquainted himself with David Fraser's Persia and Turkey in Revolt and the journals Naleye Mellat and Mosavat of Tabriz, Shams of Istanbul, as well as copies of many telegrams. He was also sent memoirs by about twenty sources, a list of whom I've compiled. These are particularly important in the second year of the Peiman version, roughly 1934, dealing with the Tabriz fighting He seems to have had little access to the Tehran press, above all Majlis at first, and much of this only appears in the third year of the serialization, around 1936. (Summarize the following table)

Source First Appearance Date of First Appearance Comments
Blue Book Peiman vol 2, no. 5 Ordibehesht 1314 Used throughout 18P
Habl ol-Matin (Calcutta) Peiman vol. 2, no. 4 Farvardin 1314 Used very rarely
Habl ol-Matin (Tehran) Peiman vol. 2, no. 2Bahman 1313 Used frequently, particularly in vol. II of 18P
Anjoman Peiman vol. 2, no. 7Tir 1314 Used only once in vol. I of 18P, but four times in vol. II, still far less than in TMI.
Majlis Peiman vol. 3, no. 1 Bahman 1314 Used six times, but only in the space of 15 pages.
Sur-e Esrafil Peiman vol. 3, no. 1Bahman 1314 Only referred to twice.
Mosavat Peiman vol. 3, no. 1Bahman 1314 Used mostly in the last third of vol. 2 of 18P.
Tamaddon Peiman vol. 3, no. 1Bahman 1314 Referred to once.
Shams Peiman vol. 3, no. 3Farvardin 1314 Used mostly in the last third of vol. 2 of 18P.
Sabah Peiman vol. 3, no. 8Shahrivar 1315 Referred to once.
Oqyanus Peiman vol. 3, no. 9Azar 1315 Two neighboring references.
Naleye Mellat Peiman vol. 3, no. 5Khordad 1315 Seven references
Mokafat Peiman vol. 3, no. 10Dei 1315 Referred to only once.

The al-'Irfan version was a ten-chapter work plus an introduction. The first eight chapters were ten to twelve pages in length, the last two abridged so that they covered only three pages between them. It is organized very differently than the later versions. While the later versions break off a story in the middle to resume it later, it is arranged by subject. This makes reading it simpler. In his preface, Kasravi says that the work he is presenting in Persian was the original text of the article he had summarized and translated into Arabic for al-'Irfan, Link text 18P, vol. 1, p. 4. (Peiman vol. 2, no., Dei 1313) only adding some polemics against Westernization. 18P, vol. 1, p. 7. (Peiman vol. 2, no., Dei 1313) In fact, it appears that the Peiman version was heavily reworked, and the al-'Irfan version does not generally read like a summary of it.

Some general observations on the al-'Irfan version:

  1. The author does not try to draw moral lessons from the history, as he would repeatedly in the subsequent versions. Nor is the narrative particularly heroic. Rather, it is more a recitation of the tribulations of the Azerbaijani people. More than the home of heroes, as it would become for Kasravi, Azerbaijan is the site of most of the disasters which befell Iran, especially during the last two years of the constitutional period. It was under pressure from Turkey on the one hand and Russia on the other. Introduction, al-'Irfan, vol. 9, no. 1 (October 1923) p. 51. The sufferings of the common people are depicted in much harsher and angrier terms than in subsequent versions. The recollection of mass starvation and plagues which carried off hundreds at a time and the tribal raids which depopulated the countryside were still fresh in the author's mind. Part I, al-'Irfan, vol. 9, no. 2, November 1923, p. 148. It was not the heroism of the Azerbaijani people who made them play a vanguard role in the revolution, but the depth of their suffering. Part I, al-'Irfan, vol. 9, no. 2, November 1923, p. 150. His description of it in heroic and moral terms only enters into the Peiman version. Compare 18P vol. 1, p. 255 (Peiman vol. 2, no.11 and 12, Aban and Azar 1314), where Kasravi writes of the fact that only the Tabrizis resisted, "The fact is that the people of other cities were not as ready or experienced. But for this, courage is in the character of every Iranian." But see vol. 1, p. 277, where Iranians' spirits are said to have become weak of character.

    This is not to say that the al-'Irfan version portrays the Tabrizis as passive victims. Indeed, Kasravi writes, for example, that the Tabrizis are zealous and admire courage and that these qualities have astounded the historians, who have written about it, citing as an example Sir John Malcolm. Part II, al-'Irfan, vol. 9, no. 3 (December 1924), p. 243.

  2. One consequence of this is that Kasravi's portrait of Sattar Khan, the hero of the Tabriz rebellion, is more complex than in the later version. In the al-'Irfan version, Part II al-'Irfan, vol. 9, no. 3, December 1924, pp. 255-6. we get the following mini-biography:

    Sattar Khan was the son of Haji 'Ali Khan of Qaredagh. He traveled with his son to Tabriz and settled there. He was well-known during his youth for his horsemanship and his daring and became one of the most important of the lutis.... He rose against the government more than once and killed a policeman when they tried to arrest him and fled from them. He occupied himself for a time as a brigand attacking caravans. He traveled once to Tehran and to Khorasan, and then to Karbala and Najaf. But he had recently abandoned these ways and repented and worked by buying and selling horses. He became respected among the people in this and when the mojaheds arose early in the constitutional period, he enlisted among them to the delight of the mojaheds, who showed appropriate gratitude towards him. His stature kept increasing until he became their leader: he was skilled in the military arts and in horsemanship and expert in the use of firearms. It was a sign of the purity of his character that he was not ashamed to confess the waywardness and error and crimes of his youthful days. One day, one of the clerics of the [anti- constitutionalist] Eslamiyya reproached him and he replied, "Pooh! I was an illiterate highwayman and saw no shame in it. But when I learned that our clergy in Najaf had issued a fatwa declaring it an obligation to defend the Constitution and come to the aid of the House of Consultation, I took the obligation upon myself to act in accordance with their fatwa and wage a jihad for the sake of the Constitution."

    It is strange how he believed that Abul-Fadhl 'Abbas, son of Imam 'Ali, appeared to him to give him strength and take care of him and that he would not forsake him. I've been told that he once said that "The mojaheds were dispersing from me in battle with the Kurds [of Maku--Kasravi], and no one remained before the enemy but me and His Holiness `Abbas."

    Although mention of Sattar Khan's checkered career survives into the Peiman version, vol. 1, p. 219:

    Among them was Sattar Khan, the hero of liberty, had been a luti. While Mohammad 'Ali Mirza was Crown Prince, he rebelled. When a band of soldiers went to arrest him, Sattar Khan fought a hit and run battle with him and got free. From then on he lived in the wilderness as a bandit... until after a few years he repented and returned to the city....

    Some will be surprised that I called Sattar Khan, the lion-heared hero of liberty, a bandit. But he said this himself. It is the way of the luti to not deny a crime he's committed and to consider lying and hypocrisy the worst of sins. it utterly vanishes in what we now call Tarikh-e Mashruteye Iran..

  3. We can see something similar in 18A's depiction of the role of Baqer Khan, Sattar Khan's comrade-in-arms, in the removal of the white flags: With Rahim Khan's tribal cavalry advancing and poised to occupy Tabriz, Baqer Khan is convinced to put up white flags indicating that the occupants were going under Russian protection and should be spared by the plundering tribesmen. But while 18P vol. 2, p. 107 (Khordad 1315). indicates (in convincing detail) that this idea was promoted by the Russian consul and his local allies, in the al-'Irfan version III, p. 327 the Russian presence is no where apparent. Instead, Kasravi gives the following explanation of what happened, which is unrecognizable in Tarikh-e Mashruteye Iran: Part III, al-'Irfan, vol. 9, no. 4 (January 1924), pp. 326-7.
    The people... were severely shaken, particularly the wealthy. Rahim Khan was famous for his the severity of his cruelty. Moreover, as we have mentioned many of the common people despised the constitution and hated it as an innovation, according to the fatwas delivered by the Islamiya's clergy, and they blamed the liberals and the mojaheds and harshly criticized them, blaming them for the catastrophe. And some of the wealthy among them Note that these wealthy were included among the common people, the `awamm; here, common was not strictly a class term, but a term indicating ignorance or a lack of refinement, as connoted by the word "vulgar.... went to Baqer Khan and ... blamed him for the destruction and bloodshed which had befallen the city and urged him to surrender and open the streets to his entering the city in peace, and they persisted until he was convinced, and he gathered some of the mojaheds' weapons and sent them to Rahim Khan and opened the way to him, and they came. The Islamiya and Co. celebrated and the white flags were put up and the mojaheds hid their weapons. Only Sattar Khan held out in Amirkhiz with a small band of followers. When Sattar Khan heard this, he became furious, and one day he and his band went out and took down the white flags. He reproached the people for their weakness and cowardice in submitting to absolutism. He then came to Khiaban and met Baqer Khan and began to upbraid him and got him to take his distance from what had happened, and he declared that he is sorry and was ashamed and apologized, but they did not part until Baqer Khan promised to prepare for war.

    The next events show a deprecation of Baqer Khan's role in the later versions as compared to the earlier. Soon after this episode comes the report of Rahim Khan's men's rout from the Northern Orchard. In the al-'Irfan version, Part III, al-'Irfan, vol. 9, no. 4, January 1924), p. 328. the Peiman version, vol. 2, p. 120 (Khordad 1315. and their apparent source, Balvaye Tabriz, pp. 32-33. the people pour out of a mosque and head for Khiaban. There, they declare to Baqer Khan their intention of driving out Rahim Khan's cavalry or being killed trying. Baqer Khan remonstrates with them, saying that it is impractical, that they are unarmed, and so takes this task up on his own shoulders, and launches a surprise attack on the enemy camp and completely overwhelms them. Tarikh-e Mashruteye Iran depicts Baqer Khan as encouraging them in their endeavor and then inexplicably stepping aside and letting them continue with their attack. TMI, p. 696. Kasravi might be correcting an interpolation of Baqer Khan into the events; another source on these events, Mohammad Taqi Jurabchi Mansure Ettehadiye, Sirus Sa'dvandian (eds.), Mohammad Taqi Jurabchi, Harfi az Hezaran Kandar 'Ebarat Amad (Nashr-e Tarikh-e Iran, Tehran, 1363 = 1984), p. 4 reports it much as TMI did, as a spontaneous movement which bypassed Baqer Khan.

  4. A similar anomaly probably has a similar explanation: In the al-'Irfan version the Two Sayyeds (Sayyed 'Abdollah Behbehani and Sayyed Mohammad Tabataba'i) are first mentioned in a footnote in this chapter II, p. 250. as being responsible for the constitution having been established. This is marked contrast with the Peiman version, where their role takes up much of the first chapter, including the memorable line, vol. 1, p. 19 (Dei 1313). "When G-d wants a people to advance, he bestows upon them skillful leaders."
  5. The al-'Irfan version contains no attempt to praise Reza Khan. The introduction lacks the encomium to Reza Khan included in the preface to the Peiman version, where he links Reza Khan's rise with the Constitutional Revolution as two brilliant end pieces in an otherwise grim period of Iranian history. The al-'Irfan version includes, in its ninths chapter, a few sentences on Reza Shah, but most of it is taken up with his closing Eqdam, a newspaper run by an Arab friend of Kasravi's, while he leaves the young Shah's reconstruction of the Iranian army to a future time, which would never come. In the tenth chapter, the crushing the tribes is credited largely to Amir-e Lashgar, while Reza Khan Sardar-e Sepah is simply credited with giving the order for this. Parts XI and XII, al-'Irfan, vol. 9, no. 10 (July 1924), pp. 920-921. This indicates to me a disappointment in Reza Khan for his arbitrary and autocratic mistreatment of friend of his.

    The Iranians' enemies were "the government, the bad clergy, and the tribal leaders." Introduction, al-'Irfan, vol. 9, no. 1 (October 1923) p. 148, 149, 150. These were the enemy throughout the al-'Irfan version. Kasravi had no compunction about criticizing the clergy. Usually, he would refer to "the bad clergy,... but often he would simply refer to "the clergy" as an estate. Thus, "To get the people to resist they denounced the clergy and ridiculed them and reminded the people what they had done in the days of absolutism, the days they ate the people's wealth and turned from God's path and ruined their religion and hoarded foodstuffs and starved the poor to death." E.g., part II, al-'Irfan, vol. 9, no. 3 (December 1924), pp. 253. See also loc. cit. p. 252, 255.

  6. Similarly, in 18P, Kasravi, after spending a year trying to woo the clergy to unite with him in the struggle to defend Islam against Westernization, he writes that "the clergy" of Tabriz rallied in the Mojtahed's house. (II:329) Even though he did reserve room for praising the constitutionalist clergy, the Two Sayyeds and the Three Mojtaheds are marginalized. Part II, al-'Irfan, vol. 9, no. 3 (December 1924), p. 243. This is in stark contrast with the Peiman version and even Tarikh-e Mashruteye Iran.
  7. In the al-'Irfan version, Kasravi took a dim view of the revolution's prospects. Troubles began before the people could be enlightened and brought to a new life. "The constitution was given before its time, and so there was much chaos and tragedy as a result." "It was said well by some that the Iranian people built the roof before it butressed it with columns or walls and they had to support it with one hand while raised its coumns or walls with the other." Part I, al-'Irfan, vol. 9, no. 2, November 1923, p. 153. Thus, only a few days after the constitution was established in Tabriz, fighting broke out with Mir Hashem, who, along with "some of the clergy" incited the common people against the constitution by declaring it an "innovation."
  8. Along these lines, Kasravi seems to make a distinction between the common people (al-'ama) and the people as such (ash-sha'b). The former were under the clergy's sway, while the latter supported the liberals. See, for example, Part II, al-'Irfan, vol. 9, no. 2, (November 1923), pp. 154 and 155, where these two different terms are used within the space of a page. See also Part III, al-'Irfan,vol. 9, no. 4 (January 1924)
  9. In another paper, I demonstrated how Kasravi expressed strongly Azerbaijanist views in articles which appeared in al-'Irfan just before the al-'Irfan version of the History did, and somewhat weaker Azerbaijanist views appeared in his writings, for example, in the al-'Irfan version and even Tarikh-e Mashruteye Iran. Indeed, traces of this appear in the al-'Irfan version of the History. Thus, the National Consultative Assembly is referred to as the Persian Anjoman in Tehran. Part I, al-'Irfan, vol. 9, no. 2, November 1923, p. 152.
  10. In one passage in 18A, Part II, al-'Irfan, vol. 9, no. 2 (November 1923, p. 158. Kasravi writes of the Iranian response to the Ottoman invasion that "This was not expected of their Turkish brothers." Many believed that this was the Shah's scheme, hatched with his elder brother, the Sultan, to make the people believe that the constitution meant chaos and encouraged the foreigners to invade. The Iranian press published articles showing the harm it was doing to the Muslim world. Al-'Umran of Egypt carried an article, "ad-Dawla ul-'Uthmaniya wa Iran" on this. It said that the Iranian people did not want war with a Muslim government. The Iranian Foreign Minister sent a telegram to the Ottoman Sublime Porte. This note was never sounded in subsequent versions of the History.
  11. In the al-'Irfan version, Kasravi mentions in a matter-of-fact way that some Majlis representatives who were fleeing persecution after the Majlis was bombarded took refuge in the British embassy. Link text Part II, al-'Irfan, vol. 9, no. 3 (December 1924), p.:251. This would became a major objection of Kasravi's to his political foes centered around Sayyed Hasan Taqizade. See, for example, 18P, II:32-3, 74.

    In the Peiman version, vol. 1, p. 74 (Farvardin 1314). by way of contrast, Kasravi insists that the Iranians were ready for freedom and, indeed, there was no disorder. vol. 1, p. 89 (Ordibehesht 1314). The success of Mir Hashem's agitation among the common people is downplayed. vol. 1, p. 56 (Esfand 1314). (We note that these comments were made in the context of a polemic with unnamed Iranian Europeanizers who held that Iranians had to Westernize themselves in order to be prepared for emancipation, these being the main focus of Kasravi's wrath in the period the first volume of 18P was published.)

  12. There is not talk at all about Social Democrats in 18A. Indeed, Social Democracy only makes its appearance late in the Peiman version. Mirza Kuchek Khan, the hero of the Jangali rebellion in Rasht, is referred to sarcastically as Sadiq ol-Bulashiva, the Friend of the Bolsheviks, in this first version. In contrast, the Peiman version does not make much of Mirza Kuchek Khan's ideology, only that he was one of the heedless revolutionaries like Sayyed Mohammad Khiabani, who were sapping the central government's power.

We now proceed to review these chapters.

The Introduction

Reads very much like a summary of the introduction to 18P, except as noted above.

Chapter I

This chapter covers the rise of the constitutional movement in Tabriz. We note the following:

  1. The account of the rise of the constitutional movement in Tabriz is not significantly different from that found in 18P. One difference is interesting: In 18P vol. 1, p. 41 (Esfand 1313). it is said that when Mohammad `Ali Mirza heard about the constitutionalist agitation, he ordered the price of bread be reduced. In 18A, the detail is added that the constitutionalists sent people to the bazaar to declare that bread would be sold at the old inflated price! I:152. Compare TMI, ---.
  2. There are some surprising omissions.
    1. Mohammad 'Ali Shah's death is passed over with a few words. Compare Part II, al-'Irfan, vol. 9, no. 2 (November 1923), p. 154 and 18P, vol. 1, pp 67-73 (Farvardin 1314).
    2. Most of the names of the activists go unmentioned, in stark contrast to the later versions, in which preserving the memory of these fighters becomes one of the history's goals.
    3. The departure of the Majlis representatives for Tehran is not mentioned, although it is treated almost like an epiphany in 18P. vol. 1, p. 62-66 (Esfand 1313-Farvardin 1314).
    4. Atabak, whose premiership was said in later versions to have turned Iran's politics in a baleful direction, See, for example, 18P, vol. 1, pp. 114-22 (Khordad 1314). is passed over in silence.

b and c can be understood in the context of the lugubrious quality of the narrative in 18A in contrast to the heroic orientation of the subsequent versions.

Chapter II

This chapter discusses the rise of the mojahedin, the fighting squads who would take on the constitution's foes both within and without Tabriz.

  1. Like 18P, Kasravi places the religiosity of the Tabrizi constitutional agitation front and center. The first two of the fifteen pages of this chapter report how the Muslim clergy called on the people to arm themselves and learn the military arts. This is all the more surprising since the religiosity which pervades the first volume of 18P is very much a function of his polemic of the day against the Westernizers, in which he was trying to ally himself with the Muslim clergy. Thus, in 18P, he presents a labored defense of the anti- constitutional mojtahed of Tabriz. vol. 1, chapter 11. From this we can see that his declaration in 18P vol. 1, p. 106 (Ordibehesht 1314). that it was the clergy who brought about the constitutional revolution in Iran was not just a matter of convenience.
  2. Kasravi reports that the anti-constitutionalists ridiculed the mojaheds--the constitutionalist fighting squads--s "a rabble, a flock of noisy crows who would scatter when fired upon." II, p. 244. In this passage, Kasravi reports that the mojaheds were called bazzaris and craftsmen, and he accepts this characterization, throwing "merchants" in for good measure. In 18P, Kasravi goes to some lengths to show that mojaheds were actually from the respectable classes. vol. 1, p. 101 (Ordibehesht 1314). It seems that subsequent versions of the history omit this mocking of the constitutionalist fighters because it would interfere with their heroic narratives.
  3. Also along sociological lines, this chapter has an interesting discussion II, pp. 245- 7. about lutis, their fractiousness, and the roll they played in setting off the civil war in Tabriz. They were brutal, vulgar, loud, and had no respect for order. The people's hearts filled with terror at the sight of them. They would rob, but not steal, and tended to live on brigandry. They were fiercely loyal to their boroughs, taking them more seriously than Europeans took the defense of their countries. They are portrayed in an entirely negative light, in contrast to discussions of them in later versions, which somewhat romanticizes them, possibly with an eye to softening Sattar Khan's image. vol. 2, p. 148 (Tir 1315).
  4. The Qaracham Affair, which led the constitutionalists to exile the Mojtahed of Tabriz, is not mentioned, apparently because Kasravi had not yet studied Anjoman.
  5. As noted above, Kasravi is comfortable with stressing the ease with which the common people could be wooed by the Muslim clergy, II:252. something which is downplayed in the later versions. But see the observation in 18P, vol. 2, p. 106 (Khordad 1315) that most Tabrizis were not constitutionalist.
  6. The details of the conflict which led to the death of Sayyed Hasan Sharifzade, the constitutionalist orator, are spelled out in 18A. II:253. Compare 18P, vol. 2, p. 99 (Farvardin 1314). The story is murky in the later versions. It appears from 18A that he had launched into a diatribe against the clergy which offended many of his listeners.
Chapter III

This chapter discusses the civil war in Tabriz.

  1. The following is an amusing report not included in the later versions: Since the anti-constitutional forces were being told that the constitutionalist Tabrizis were Babis and had abandoned Islam, the constitutionalist Tabrizis called the azan at all hours. 18A includes the clergy's response to this: They issued a fatwa declaring all who call the azan at any but the appointed hours a non-Muslim. III:330; compare the account in 18P, II:145.
  2. On a grimmer note, the death in combat of the constitutionalist hero Karbala'i Hosein Khan is reported differently in 18A than in the later versions. In 18P's account, vol. 2, pp. 235-6 (Shahrivar 1315). the anti-constitutionalist forces mourned his death along with the constitutionalists. In 18A, III:336-7. however, the anti-constitutionalists celebrated his death, and this provoked the constitutionalists into attacking the anti-constitutionalist stronghold of Devechi, an attack which never materialized because the enemy surrendered first, thus ending the civil war in Tabriz.
  3. The report on the negotiations with 'Ein od-Dawle leading up to the resumption of fighting with the government forces is reported along the lines of BT, particularly the rhetorical tours de force of the liberal negotiators. Compare part III in al-'Irfan vol. 9, no. 4 (January 1924), p. 330 with , as well as with 18P vol. 2, pp. 165-166 (Tir 1315) and TMI, p. 723. This did not survive into 18P, and TMI's report is concise to the point of being curt. Kfsasravi possibly thought that BT's account was too fanciful.
  4. On the other hand, Kasravi's account of the death of the mojahed hero Hosein Khan Baghban is much more gritty than the one which appears in the subsequent versions. In 18A, the mojaheds' fury at having lost this hero is what ignited the final assault on the reactionary outpost in Tabriz, Devechi. In the subsequent versions, we are treated to a chivalrous salute to the dead hero by his admirers on the opposite side, and the assault on Devechi is attributed to other causes. Compare part III in al-'Irfan vol. 9, no. 4 (January 1924), p. 330 with 18P vol. 2, pp. 165-166 (Tir 1315) and TMI, p. 723.
  5. 18A reports that villagers and others came to help the liberals. This is not mentioned in the parallel passages of subsequent versions. Compare part III in al-'Irfan vol. 9, no. 4 (January 1924), p. 336-337 with 18P vol. 2, p. 236 ff. (Shahrivar 1315) and TMI 786 ff.

Chapter IV

This chapter discusses takes us from the end of the civil war in Tabriz through the siege of this city to the relief of the city by the Russian forces. It generally corresponds to the narrative presented in 18P, vol. 2, pp. 245-338 (Shahrivar 1315). with some more or less interesting differences in the detail:

  1. 18A but not 18P tells us IV:429. that the tribal forces attacked foreign as well as Iranian merchants. This would become an important excuse the Russians would use to intervene and militarily occupy much of northern Iran.
  2. We note that Esma'il Yekani, an important source for Kasravi, is used at this point in 18A, the only oral source acknowledged by Kasravi in this version. 18A, IV:429. Compare with 18P, vol. 2, pp. 255-9 (Shahrivar 1315). In 18P, vol. 3, p. 62 (Mordad 1316), footnote 1, he is identified as Sattar Khan's secretary and confidant, as well as the mojaheds' paymaster.
  3. Sattar Khan's saving Hokmavar from the invading Kurdish forces which had occupied it is presented in a characteristically more sober light than the heroic depiction in the later versions. In 18A, Link text IV:434. Sattar Khan, on having heard of the borough's fall, raced to Homavar, dressed down the deserters, and ordered them to pass on to the attack, only joining the fighting himself towards evening. In 18P, vol. 2, pp. 306-7 and 327-8 (Dei 1315). he is depicted as single-handedly rushing into battle and driving the invaders into a rout.
  4. After the Kurdish forces were driven out, the Kurds left stranded in Hokmavar were rounded up and slaughtered. This is reported in 18A IV:434. as having been done by the mojaheds and is mentioned on without comment. In 18P, Kasravi deplores this massacre. vol. 2, p. 328 (Dei 1315). It can be imagined that with Simqo's crimes fresh in mind, Kasravi had little sympathy for the fate of these murderers and robbers.
  5. 18A reports that the sheikh whom the mojaheds killed in Maraghe, Haji Kabir Aqa, was the leader of a Sufi order, something not mentioned in the subsequent version. See part II in al-'Irfan, vol. 9, no. 3 (December 1924), p. 245 and part IV in al-'Irfan vol. 9, no. 5 (February 1924), p. 430, as well as 18P vol. 1, p. 74 (Farvardin 1314).
  6. 18A's reference to Tabriz as "the Marseille of Iran," Part IV in al-'Irfan vol. 9, no. 5 (February 1924), p 245 though surviving into 18P, 18P, I:74 (Farvardin 1314). is dropped in TMI.
  7. An mojahed attempt at wiping out Samad Khan's base is reported as a major fiasco, with the mojahed band being ambushed by Samad Khan's men, who were aware of the attack and massacring them as they fled. TMI p. 886 (p. 886) is much more phlegmatic about the whole affair, saying in passing that some mojaheds

    suspected that perhaps Qara Malek was defenseless and so attacked it from the city and hoped they would accomplish something. But Samad Khan had released some detachments to protect it. For example, a band of Cossacks with a sixty-shooter and cannoneers with cannons were at their post and fired as soon as the mojaheds approached. The mojaheds fought a little but when they saw that nothing would be accomplished, they turned back.

  8. The episode of the fifty year old Haj 'Ali rushing into battle is reported in 18A without reference to his chief act of heroism, according to TMI, i.e., his reaching a cannon which had been abandoned by the mojaheds and turning it on the absolutists. Compare Part IV in al-'Irfan vol. 9, no. 5 (February 1924), p 434 with TMI, p. 866 -867.
  9. The arrival of the Russian into Iran is said to have given rise to despair, very much along the lines their reported arrival did in all subsequent versions.
  10. Kasravi ends his story with a parable, something he would do again later in 18A. Part IV in al-'Irfan vol. 9, no. 5 (February 1924), p 436. He says that Tabriz never sheathed its sword, even when it was losing strength and it would not have been long before it would lie prostrate. It was like a group of travelers who were seized by giants or demons and only one of whom would strike them all down with the weapon in his hand. He kept fighting and struck them until he suffering from many wounds, but never broke off the fight or sat for a moment to rest until he saw some of his companions cast down on the earth rise from their swoon and recover and have their strength restored and attack the demon. This sort of parablizing would become common in his religious polemics, but it never appeared in the other versions of his History.
  11. This section ends with a brief summary of the Majlis' restoration. Kasravi objects that Tabriz's contribution went unrecognized. Part IV in al-'Irfan vol. 9, no. 5 (February 1924), p 436.

The Peiman Eighteen Year History of Azerbaijan

The version of the History published in Peiman shows the following features:

  1. Kasravi's Peiman was launched as a religious mission. After leaving his position in the Judiciary, Kasravi went into a personal crisis. What saved him, he wrote, was the discovery of a mission, to preserve religion against Western materialism. The first product of this mission was his pamphlet A'in in 1932, in which he argued for a revival of Islamic martial and moral virtues and expressed his concern about the baleful influence of Westernized intellectuals on them. The East was the home of religion, morality, and justice, while the West, aside from its technology, was the home of materialism, immorality, and militarism.

    In his introduction, Kasravi notes that he added to the original manuscript material about Europeanism and the errors of some liberals. What becomes clear in reading 18P is that the material in the first volume has been greatly reworked to Islamicize it and criticize some of the liberals' errors. vol. 1, p. 7 (Dei 1313).

    1. We see for the first time the Two Sayyeds extolled in the following terms: "When God wants a people to progress, he grants them competent leaders. In this movement, too, God raised up competent leaders, particularly the Two Sayyeds, who behaved with tremendous sagacity. On the one hand, they stood by their word, while on the other they never showed haste or extremism or cut off relations with the Court." vol. 1, p. 19 (Bahman 1313). This is linked to the idea that it was the clergy who led the Constitutional Movement, to the extent of identifying the movement with them. vol. 1, p. 19-20 (Bahman 1313), where Ehtesham os-Saltane is described as "supporting the clergy" instead of supporting reform. Compare the parallel passage in TMI, p. 80. However, he is openly critical of their illusions in the Mohammad 'Ali Shah, particularly when they criticized the Tabriz Anjoman's behaviour. vol. 1, p. 72 (Farvardin 1314). Compare TMI, p. 186 and 199.
    2. In the story of the execution of Mirza Aqa Khan and his two comrades in Tabriz, Kasravi exposes his admiration for their program of instrumentalizing Islam, writing,
      Poor Mirza Aqa Khan! After all his childishness and confusion of his early youth, he found the way to fight ... and became a zealous Muslim. They memorized the Koran and the flames of love of Iran and Islam rose inside him .... Alas, oh zealous youth, alas! Alas, oh heavenly angel, alas! ... Alas that you have left so soon and have not seen Iran's days of joy!
    3. Kasravi praises the "proud Tabriz clergy." This includes Haj Mirza Javad Aqa, the leading mojtahed of the pre-constitutional generation, whom he portrays as a hero for standing up to the Court, ultimately being poisoned by Naser od-Din Shah. vol. 1, p. 29 (Bahman 1313). This should be compared with the parallel passage in TMI, where this mojtahed is portrayed as an ignoramus. pp. 128-129. However, when the constitutional movement actually arose, Kasravi conceded that the Tabriz clergy were his tools vol. 1, pp. 33, 38 (Bahman 1313). and that they were weak. vol. 1, p. 34 (Bahman 1313). They only reluctantly went along with the constitutional movement in Tabriz. vol. 1, p. 39 (Bahman 1313).
    4. Kasravi vouches for the character of Haj Mirza Javad Aqa's successor, Haj Mirza Hasan Aqa, saying that although his reputation had been besmirched by his sons' reputation as a grain hoarder, "but those who knew him personally considered him a good man," vol. 1, p. 29 (Bahman 1313). He later says that although the Haj Mirza Hasan Aqa did not come to the aid of the liberals at first, but then he "cooperated with the constitutionalists and always worked with them." He goes so far as to credit Haj Mirza Hasan Aqa for putting the grain of the villages he owned at the constitutionalists' disposal, while it is well known that he had been pressured into doing this. He insisted that "It can be said that at that time, he had nothing but love for the Constitution and desire for his progress in his heart," although there were "very corrupt" clergy who opposed the Constitution. vol. 1, p. 104-106 (Ordibehesht 1314). Compare with TMI, p. 200.

      But this ambiguous position could not be maintained long, as the constitutionalists and the Mojtahed of Tabriz collided over the Qara Chaman affair. 18P's report on it does not differ seriously from that of TMI's Compare TMI, p. 239 with 18P, vol. 1, pp. 108-112 (Ordibehesht 1314). But the conclusion could not be more different. In 18P, Kasravi writes, . See also vol. 1, p. 150 (Tir1314), where the participation of the clergy in the constitutional movement is viewed as a plus.

      To the degree that the clergy, who were involved in the constitutional movement, served as an anchor to save it from capsizing, they served to save it from Europeanism. However, it should not be hidden that this was the Mojtahed's and the clergy's fault.

      In TMI, Kasravi concludes, p. 247.

      As we have said, this disturbance was unavoidable, and itself the result of the Constitution's success. Because [247] of this success, the interests of the mass of people diverged from that of the mullahs and village owners, particularly in Tabriz, where liberal ferment was more effective than anywhere else.

      Now the mullahs had to either support liberty and align themselves with the people, or turn from constitutionalism and stick with their own interests.

      When the liberals welcomed their enemies to return to Tehran, Kasravi congratulated them for "being conciliatory," but he blames the anti- constitutionalist forces for sticking to their "endless fanaticism" and sticking to their hostility. "It was hoped that the clergy (sic) would reach out for the Constitution." vol. 1, p. 290 (Aban/Azar 1314).

      But even when civil war breaks out in Tabriz between the forces allied with the Mojtahed and the liberals, Kasravi in 18A could not resist taking a final look back on the days when the liberals and the clergy were allies, writing, "Alas! Yesterday, they were in the Anjoman and beat their breasts with the stone of constitutionalism. How is it now that they were calling the constitutionalist Babis and giving fatwas justifying the shedding of their blood?!" vol. 2, p. 99 (Farvardin 1314). This is missing from the parallel passage in TMI; see page 629.

    5. He does not, however, try to defend the Tabriz Friday Imam, who is depicted as a hoarder and an agent of reaction who tried to bribe a constitutionalist preacher. vol. 1, p. 58-59 (Esfand 1313). He treats the other anti-constitutionalist clergy--particularly Sayyed Mohammad Yazdi, in a forthright manner, without any attempts at apologetics. vol. 1, p. 71 (Farvardin 1314).
    6. Unlike TMI, Kasravi sides strongly against the Caucasian mojaheds who had come into conflict with the local Tabriz mojaheds. "Although," he writes, vol. 1, p. 150 (Tir 1314). "they were more experienced than the local mojaheds, and more agile and clever, because they had lived in the Caucasus, they had become contaminated with a whole series of obsene behaviors and did not pay much attention to religion. This itself demoralized the people." Again, he reports vol. 1, p. 159-160 (Tir 1314). See also vol. 1, p. 217 (Mehr 1314). that, "[T]he leading liberals in Tabriz had realized that enemies of Islam and enemies of the Faith had been working behind the scenes so that, in the name of intervening in the struggle for freedom, to deal blows to Islam. And so they regretted their previous behavior towards the clergy and worked to make it up to them." To do this, they selected only religious people to be members of the new Anjoman and spared no honor in returning those who had left along with the Mojtahed.
    7. Surprisingly, Kasravi takes a dim view of the Court's strategy of using clerics like Sheikh Fazlollah to counter pose the shariat to the Constitution: vol. 1, p. 51, 90 (Esfand 1313, Ordibehesht 1314). Later in the narrative (vol. 1, p. 127-128, Khordad 1314), Kasravi only alludes to the use of the shariat to divide the constitutionalists. See the parallel passage in TMI (p. 226 ff). "It is clear that if this excuse were raised, the Fundamental Law would have to be abolished and a new one written, and this would inevitably have led to hundreds of conflicts and arguments among the liberals, and this is just what the Court wanted."

      This lands Kasravi in a dilemma. He later writes, vol. 1, p. 107 (Ordibehesht 1314).If the clergy had advanced the Constitution in the same way they initiated it, it would have had the very useful result that Iran would have been preserved from the damage wrought by the Europeanizers. He then launched a demagogic attack on Sayyed Hosein Khan for publishing an article on woman's liberation, having been influenced by the corrupt life of available women while living in Russia.

      Elsewhere, he summarizes the conflict between Sheikh Fazlollah and the Majlis saying, vol. 1, pp. 188-189 (Shahrivar 1314). "The matter of Europeans laws' relationship with the way of Islam cannot be solved with a simple question and answer. We let it go at writing that the Iranians' fear of some of the liberals was not without merit. As would become apparent in future years, they were above all smitten by Europe and the Europeans' waywardness. In any case, anyone who sincerely wanted the Islamic way, they ought never have leaned towards Mohammad 'Ali Mirza. The clergy's tending towards such a disgraceful man with such a reputation would doubtless give an excuse for those who have lost their hearts for Europe to insult Islam as they indeed did."

    8. Along these lines, Kasravi makes no attempt to defend Sheikh Fazlollah Nuri or soften his position in 18P. See, e.g., pp. 147-148. He cites the British Blue Book about the sheikh receiving money from the Court to further his activities. vol. 1, p. 184 (Mordad 1314).
    9. Of a piece with this courting of the clergy is a loud anti-Bahai statement about their "black deeds" and "the extent of their hatred for Iranians." vol. 1, p. 121 (Khordad 1314). In TMI, this is reversed: Kasravi talks of "the bitter hatred the Iranians had for the Babis (Bahais)" (p. 289)
  2. Shiism
    1. On Tuesday night, 12 Rajab, the constitutionalists fired 110 cannonballs into the air in celebration of Imam 'Ali's birthday; the royalists fired into the air over the constitutionalists for the rest of the day and into the night. (pp. 87) This point is taken up in P (II:145-146). This is completely omitted in TMI.
    2. 15 Sha'ban, vol. 2, p. 194, no longer identifies what the festival was.
  3. Europeanism
    1. Not all bad: Open schools in imitation of Europe. (vol. 1, p. 15)
    2. If only we had not become Europeanized. (vol. 1, pp. 55-56)
    3. Kasravi identified the Tabrizis with plain and simple vigor, while he tasked the Tehran intellectuals with trying to replay the American and the French revolutions. vol. 1, p. 88 (Farvardin 1314).
    4. Europeanization, intellectuals, women's liberation. vol. 1, p. 95 (Ordibehesht 1314).
  4. Sayyed Hasan Taqizade.
    1. His early activity in Tabriz is treated in a positive manner. (vol. 1, p. 63).
    2. vol. 1, p. 301; compare with TMI, p. 564.
    3. vol. 2, p. 7: Accuses Taqizade (without naming him) of being pardoned by the Shah.
    4. Taqizade's quarrel with Sattar Khan. vol. 2, p. 8.
    5. More Taqizade's cut and run. vol. 2, p. 61, 72, 93
    6. More Taqizade going under a foreign flag, the lesson of Sattar Khan's refusal to do same. (This is a gratuitous swipe and a sign of an obsession.) vol. 2, p. 113, footnote. Again, vol. 2, p. 264.
  5. Mozaffar od-Din Shah, who was to grant the Constitution, is credited with being a conscious supporter of the movement out of his religious sensibilities, since the leadership of the movement was in the hands of the Islamic clergy, and credits this shah with protecting the movement. (vol. 1, p. 69)
  6. In general, Kasravi's historiography becomes infused with a political purpose. In his writings around this period, Kasravi. There is, he writes in 1928, history which is to be read for its own sake. Then there is history whose depiction of the virtues of the heroes. Finally, there is history which is studied to find the way (a'in) of life. It is such historiography which can shake up the author's country. Introduction to Shahryaran-e Gomnam, cited in Hosein Yazdanian (ed.), Ahmad Kasravi Dar piramun-e Tarikh (Esfand 2536), pp. 10- 12. This is reflected in the tendency, mentioned above, to smooth out the rough spots in his heroes.
  7. The sociology of the work.
    1. The heroes of the movement are the Azerbaijani merchant class. "The Azerbaijani merchants were wise and proud and in their stays in the Caucasus, Istanbul, and Europe were always a source of pride for the Iranians. Being a merchant in those days was not a cause for greed and hoarding. A merchant was never interested in good-timing or dancing or drinking... On the other hand, his hand was always open and he never refrained from participating in any kind of good works... vol. 1, p. 51 (Esfand 1313).
    2. The liberals were from the respectable classes. vol. 1, p. 101 (Ordibehesht 1314). Most of Tabriz was royalist. Link text vol. 2, p. 106 (Khordad 1315). The mojaheds were from all classes. Even some clergy. vol. 2, p. 155-156 (Tir 1315).
    3. Most of the Tabrizis were against the Constitution. Sources in al-'Irfan.
  8. E. G. Browne makes his first appearance as a hero. He favorably quoted Mirza Hosein Khan Danesh who equated Browne's ink with Sattar Khan's sword. vol. 1, p. 11 (Dei 1313). See also vol. 1, p. 291 (Aban/Azar 1314) and vol. 2, pp. 24, 72, 87, 245 (Bahman, Farvardin 1314 and Shahrivar 1315). In TMI, Browne is portrayed as a dupe of Taqizade's clique, pp. 566-567 and 808. See also p. 635 and 655, where he is shown to have been misled by an unreliable Iranian source. See also 18P vol. 2, p. 7 (Bahman 1314). Compare with the end of Chapter 9 in TMI. i.e., Browne is the victim and Taqizade the culprit. Again, he is sympathetic to Browne, saying of him and his political allies p. 590. "that their government's behavior and supported the liberation of Iran and protested the behavior by Russia in Iran." Otherwise, he is said to have made some innocent errors. p. 596. Otherwise, he is considered a friendly witness. p. 624. In at least one case, he manipulates what Browne writes for his own ends. (p. 798)
  9. The Anglo-Russian Accord is given a full chapter, vol. 1, chapter 24. unlike 18A, where it is mentioned in passing, as we have mentioned above.
  10. The sense of Azerbaijani, and even Tabrizi, pride shines through in a way the previous version, which foregrounds Azerbaijan's suffering. "The Tabrizis' zeal and manliness astonished the Iranians." vol. 1, p. 80 (Farvardin 1314). When the Tabriz Majlis delegation arrived, the people held a splendid reception for them and the cry of "Long live the Tabrizis" went up on all sides. Link text vol. 1, p. 80, 98, 100 (Farvardin, Ordibehesht) 1314. See also vol. 1, p. 129-130 (Khordad 1314).
  11. On a few occasions, Kasravi works in mention of the corruption impact of the Sufis and kharabati poets. vol. 1, pp., 273, 275, 277, and 278 (Aban/Azar 1314) and the introduction to vol. 2, p. 9 (Bahman 1314). In the latter passage, Kasravi draws the corollary that it is the illiterate masses, who are freer of the taint of these corrupting influences, who could best be relied upon to drive the revolution forward.
  12. In the introduction to the first volume of 18P, Kasravi refers to the author of Tarikh-e Bidariye Iranian as shad raven, i.e., Blissful Soul., but he slams him as an opportunist in the introduction to the next volume for having included praise for 'Ala ol-Molk, who was the Minister of Education at the time his book was published. Link text vol. 2, p. 4 (Bahman 1314); compare with the introduction to TMI, p. 4.
  13. Could the Majlis have prevailed? vol. 2, p. 21. And Taqizade. Deeds, not words.
  14. Diatribes against taking refuge. vol. 2, p. 86-87.
  15. Omits the observation that, willy-nilly, Iranian officials in the Ottoman lands were being pro-constitutional. vol. 2, p. 163.
  16. The constitutionalist journal Shams of Istanbul was given much more in-depth treatment in 18P than in TMI. By the time Kasravi got around to writing TMI he had evidently developed a grudge against Shams' editor, for he writes there, TMI, p. 726. Compare the positive treatment of this editor in 18P, vol. 2, p. 164 (Tir 1315). "It did unworthy things and, indeed, its proprietor and writer (Sayyed Hasan Tabrizi), was gullible and, looking out for his own interests, praised whomever he wished (so that he even praised Haji Samad Khan and whitewashed his crimes.) But there was a great need in Istanbul for a Persian newspaper at the time and even this newspaper helped advance the struggle in Tabriz." Both versions object to an article criticizing "Baqer Khan's autocratic actions." Link text Compare 18P, vol. 2, p. 262 (Shahrivar 1315) and TMI, p. 807.

    In 18P, Kasravi is so lenient towards the Iranian community in the Ottoman Empire that he even writes that Iranian officials there were willy-nilly supporting the constitutionalists. vol. 2, p. 163 (Tir 1315). We note the positive treatment of Arfa' od-Dawle (see page 22).

  17. Social Democracy makes its first appearance early in the second volume of 18P, vol. 2, p. 45 (Esfand 1314). with the report of how members of the mojahed groups forged relations and then made contacts with the Caucasian Social Democrats. After this, and in a way not made clear by the author, a Secret Center was founded with controlled the mojahed groups. A list of the names of this center's members is provided and they are mentioned with great admiration. The Caucasian Social Democracts are further mentioned in passing late in the second volume. vol. 2, p. 283 (Azar 1315).
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