Molla Nasr od-Din and the Iranian Constitutional Revolution (Through the Constitution's Restoration)


Last year, I presented a paper on Molla Nasr od-Din and the

Iranian constitutionalist revolution up to the monarchist coup of 1908. I now continue studying the relationship between this magazine and the Iranian struggle for a constitution.

Molla Nasr od-Din, which began publication in 1906 in the

cosmopolitan Caucasian city of Tiflis, was an outspoken champion of progress as it understood it in economic relations, the status of women, education, and the development of an Azeri national culture. Its editor, Mirza Jalil Mohammadqolizade, a graduate of the Gori Seminary and a school teacher by training, was part of a social layer of Muslims cultivated by and integrated into the Tsarist administration which would go on to form the core of the Caucasian Muslim intelligentsia.

Who were the men that made up the intelligentsia? Initially these were the few Azerbaijanis who by virtue of their occupations were frequently exposed to the Russian environment....During the second half of the [nineteenth] century, as the civil service was largely purged of the native element, the intelligentsia became dominated by graduates of Russian universities and of the Transcaucasian teacher seminaries in Gori and Tiflis. Indeed, schoolteachers, some of whom took to journalism or other literary pursuits, formed on of is largest professional components by the end of the century.Tadeusz Swietochowski, Russian Azerbaijan, 1905-1920, pp. 24.

It was through this medium that he imbibed an admiration for Western values and a disgust for many of those of the culture in which he had been raised.

In my paper last year, I noted that Molla Nasr od-Din's relation with Iran has long been remarked on by scholars, particularly Soviet Azeris and Iranian left-nationalists. I present typical samples:

An early Soviet Azeri monograph on the relationship between Molla Nasr od-Din and the Iranian constitutionalist revolution has this to say.on the subject:

After the 1905 [Russian] revolution, the revolutionary movement of Southern Azerbaijan and IranIt is typical in Soviet Azeri historiography to refer to Iran in this fashion. began. Molla Nasr od-Din struggled to provide every manner of assistance to the revolution. When, with the 1908 troubles instigated by the imperialist governments and the connivance of the Tsarist military, Iranian reaction overthrew the First Majlis, mercilessly massacring hundreds of revolutionaries and the popular masses, Molla Nasr od-Din wrote the following:Mirza Ebrahimov, Boyuk Demokrat: Molla Nasreddin (Baku, 1957), p. 111.

and quotes the first and last paragraphs of the editorial "Elimination of the Unclean" translated below.The reader is now referred to the translation., appearing on page 23. Let him decide if this paragraph's meaning is not altered dramatically when put in its context.

Again, the subject is addressed in the introduction to the Soviet edition of Molla Nasr od-Din as follows:

Learning from the Russian bourgeois-democratic revolution's strengths and weaknesses, the Molla Nasr od-Dinists provided great help to their brothers on the other side of the Araz with their words of intelligent advice, news, and encouragement. Calling on them to be vigilant and fresh for battle, Molla Nasr od-Din was distributed at the barricades and increased further the greatness of the mojaheds' struggle. The famous Azerbaijani poet, 'Abbas Sahhat, wrote that Saber "provided more help than an army." These words can, without exaggeration, be applied to Mulla Nasr od-Din as a whole.Aziz Mir-Ahmadov, "The Great Servant to Azerbaijan's Character" in Molla Nasr od-Din I (Baku, 1988), p. 8.

Often drawing on Soviet Azeri sources, Iranian left-nationalism has taken the same approach. Thus, Yaya Aryanpur's compendious Az Saba ta Nima contains a lengthy discussion of Molla Nasr od-Din and its poet, Saber. Particurly pertinent to the present topic are the following passages:
....This newspaper, from 1907 on, discussed Iranian affairs in almost every issue. It expressed particular interest in the revolutionary events which were occuring in Azerbaijan.

After citing the above-mentioned quote in the same manner our Soviet historian did, discussing its impact on the Tehran liberal circles and the rage it inspired among absolutists, he continues,

Despite these problems, copies of it continued to reach Iran, particularly Azerbaijan, where the people knew its language, and became widely read. Saber's poems about Iran were repeated in Tabriz and other parts of Azerbaijan and spread about the alleys and bazars, having a good influence on the people's awakening.... These poems, in their comic tone, expressed the people's boundless rage against the Shah and the autocratic system...

He concludes with some anecdotes illustrating this point culled from Soviet Azeri scholarship.II:44-45.

Discussing Saber, he writes,

The poet, while speaking of the great social and international events, such as the Iranian and Ottoman revolutions, which arose after 1905, always kept in mind the bitter historical experiences of the first Russian revolution. He would always repeat the lessons of the revolution for his readers and keep them in mind as further events occured. In particular, the 1905 revolution had a profound and thorough-going effect on Saber's social and historical world outlook and the formation of his revolutionary and democratic views.

Our writer continues in his discussion of Saber the political sophisticate:

Saber recalled the October 1905 manifestoGranting freedom of the press to the Tsar's subjects. and the two-faced and deceptive politics of the Russian legislative assemblies. The day that the Shah of Iran signed the proclamation for a constitution, he could forsee by dint of bitter historical experience that all this was nothing but a charade to dupe the people and strangle the constitutionalist movements and that the fake freedoms which had been supposedly granted would be taken back in a day.

It is suspected that other factors were present in Saber's good judgement concerning the character of the Iranian revolution and his sound depiction of these events surrounding them. for example his acquaintance with 'Aziz Beykof,A... a leader of the revolutionary movement of Soviet Azerbaijan." (note by Aryanpur) a leader of the Hemmat Party who was in close contact with the Iranian revolution and who had a positive impact in his how he saw things.Ibid., II:52.

Again, in a book on the political poetry of Saber, we read:

Molla Nasr od-Din's publication coincided with the beginning of the Iranian constitutionalist revolution--which, after the 1905 revolution in Russia was the first revolution among the Oriental nations. Of necessity, one of the chief subjects mentioned in every issue of Molla Nasr od-Din were current events in Iran and the Iranian revolution in particular. There was hardly an issue without a mention, article, poem, or picture, about Iran and the Iranian revolution.Rahim Rezazade Malek, Hup Hup, Zaban-e Borraye Enqelab (Tehran, 1979), p. 63,

Our author then goes on to list some examples.Rather overzealously. His first example,from the first issue, according to him, represents a land transaction with "a toiling peasant." In fact, it is a cartoon satirizing the rush for guns among the people of the Caucasus in the wake of the fighting between Armenians and Muslims there.

A more spectacular example of this optimistic reading of Molla Nasr od-Din's relationship with Iranian politics appears in the Persian-language scholarly journal Alef-Ba:A. Rahim, "Molla Nasr od-Din va Molla Khasr od-Din" in Alef-Ba, Winter 1982/83, p. 87.

Mohammadqolizade was born in 1866 in Nakhchevan. He completed his elementary education in a mullah's school. In 1877, he was sent to an Iranian village.Not true. It was during this period that he composed his first play, The Tea Set.Not true. In 1890, he was sent to one of the villages in Nakhchevan.By the Tsarist administration, as a teacher. The Events in Danabash, The Khan's Prayer-beads,Written in the early 'twenties. and The Raisin Game were the fruits of this period. After his return to Baku, he began his political activity along with other writers as a journalist. He joined the Social Democratic Party.Not true. Mirza Jalil was silent about Social-Democracy in the early years of his newspaper, a silence particularly conspicuous for its being maintained in the heavily Social-Democratic city of Tiflis. The few times he did mention the Social Democrats, often as not, it was to satirize them. He developed his plans for Molla Nasr od-Din in the course of the 1905 revolution and produced its first issue in FebruaryLate April. 1906. In 1908, he went to Iran.Not true. He issued eight issues of the newspaper in Tabriz. His play, The Dead, was produced in that same city.These events occured in 1921. His newspaper office was subject to attack under the instigation of the mullahs and by the Tsarist police. Mohammadqolizade had to take refuge underground several times. Mohammadqolizade was seen at the side of the Bolsheviks during the October Revolution.This is absolutely false.

(I feel compelled to add that, despite my criticisms of the above authors, none of them can't be read without benefit. In particular, Soviet Azeri scholarship is responsible for collecting and editing material of extraordinary value. It is to be hoped that, now that the Stalinist blinders have been removed from their eyes, their scholarly output will achieve new heights.)

On reading the magazine itself and other primary material, it became clear to me that this literature is based on assumptions which must be re-examined. For the purposes of the present paper, I recall here one of them: that scholars have ignored Molla Nasr od-Din's deep skepticism about the Iranian constitutionalist revolution, a skepticism informed by the liberal Caucasian Muslim view of Iranians as their backward “country cousins” and Iran as a source of many of the vices they were struggling against.

I noted that for Mirza Jalil, and, apparently, much of the Westernizing Caucasian Muslim intelligentsia, Iran and Iranians came to represent

the source of backwardness, ignorance, superstition, and apathy--the "oriental" vices.This attitude might actually long preceed the rise of the modernizing inelligentsia. For an early version, see the poems of 'Abbasqolu Aqa Bakikhanli in Hüsein Baykara, Azerbaycan'da Yenilmesme Hareketleri (The Renaissance Movement in Azerbaijan) (Ankara, 1966), pp. 79-81. Thus, A. Bennigsen observes that

the Shi'ite clergy administered the religious schools and contributed to the maintenance of Iranian spiritual supremacy. By the end of the nineteenth century, this influence was attacked and checked by the partisans of panturkism, for whom racial and linguistic unity with Sunni Turkey would win out over Shi'ite Iran's religious patrimony. Thus, a bitter conflict opposed the conservatives and the Shi'ite clergy, the party of Iran, with the young modernists who believed that their millat could not hope to survive without a profound change in Islam's social and intellectual structure.

and again,

The other current, more radical [than the "Westernizing and liberal reformist tendency" of jadidism] was inspired both by Jamaloddin al-Afghani's extremist pan-Islam and Russian socialism.... [Its adherents were] violently antimonarchist, often free thinkers, even anticlericalist, this marking above all an opposition to Shi'ism, i.e., Iranian influence.Molla Nasreddin et la press satirique musulmane de Russie avant 1917," Cahiers du Monde russe et sovietique, 1963, pp. 505-06.

Again, Jeyhoun Bey Hajibeyli, a journalist who published in Baku while Mirza Jalil was publishing in Tiflis, complained of "the mercia-khans or the roza-khans,Marsiyekhans and rawzekhans are professional reciters of the tribulations of the Prophet's household as they were martyred defending Islam against its usurpation by the caliph Mu'awiye. It is worth noting that among Iranians, Iranian Azerbaijanis are considered the most zealous observers of these ceremonies. those 'sob-artists' whom Persia lends us so lavishly."The Origins of the National Press in Azerbaijan (I)" in Asiatic Review, XXVI:88 (October 1930)._

Even the Iranian social critic Zein ol-'Abedin Maraghei, author of the Sayahatnameye Ebrahim Bey, looked at his compatriots in the Caucasus with a shame and disgust which would rival even that of Mirza Jalil's. As he has his patriotic but naïve Iranian protaganist told,

Ebrahim Bey: Do they have no other trade? Are they all laborers?

Answer: If only they were all laborers! Most of them are also thieves and pick-pockets. A thousand disgraces have arisen from this, of which I am ashamed.p. 22.

As for Mirza Jalil himself, a colleague of his, an Armenian friend who taught alongside him in Nakhchevan after the former graduated from the teacher's academy, recalls:

Frequently, mullahs and sayyeds would smuggle themselves over to our shore from Iran. They would teach the people there all manner of nonsense and propagandize against their sending their sons to Russian schools. Once, an influential sayyed came from Iran and made propaganda against sending boys to Russian schools. The chief judge. [...] upon hearing news of this, had the sayyed imprisoned and ordered that be put under the guard of an officer and Cossack guard to be dragged to the other shore of the Araz. The officer imprisoned the sayyed and left him with the Cossacks to be brought to the border. This was in effect allowing them to beat and mock the sayyed. The pious people of the village came and threw themselves on the ground and wept, begging for him to say the word. Seeing this, Mirza Jalil pushed his way forward and asked the officer to release the sayyed from the Cossacks' mockery and leave him with a-----------------to be sent be deported. The officer acted on Mirza Jalil's request.Sombatyan, T. C., "Jalil Mammadquluzadenin Hayat ba Fa'aliyyatine Dair Khatiralar,"
On Iranian sayyeds in the Caucasus, "Ebrahim Bey" comments that the sayyeds "flock to foreign countries and disgracefully fasten themselves to the people in Christian lands, demanding khoms, until things reached the point that the Russian government forbade the entrance of anyone with a green or blue turban." p. 148.

Again, in his 1909 play, Ölülar (The Dead), the villain is the charlatan Osta Zeynal, a mullah from Mashhad.Kucherli, F., "Usta Zeynal," in Zamanof, 'Abbas et al. (ed.), Jalil Mammadquluzade (Maqalelar va Khateralar Majmu'asi (Baku, 1967), p. 6. In his 1918 play Anamin Kitabi (My Mother's Book), which depicts, through the fate of a mother's daughter and three sons, the denaturization of Azerbaijan due to the influence of its neighbors the Iranicizing son is depicted as having devoted himself to religious studies.Kazim, 'Ali, Jalil "Mammadqoluzade va Yaradijilighi," ibid., p. 60 and Sultanli, 'Ali, "Jalil Mammdquluzadenin Dramaturgiyasi," ibid., p. 154.

All this led Mirza Jalil and his circle to take a dim view of the Iranian constitutionalist revolution. This was reflected in his November 1906 satiric piece Iranda Hurriyat [Freedom in Iran]November 23, 1906. in which the Iranian people's ignorance of the principles of freedom is severely ridiculed. One quote will serve to capture the spirit of the article. He has one character, a Karbalai Reza, say,

"For someone told me that you are bringing some freedom here from [Iran]. One brings henna, one brings greens, nuts, tobacco, tea, opium, one brings such things; but, by God, I have never in my life heard of anyone bringing freedom."Mirza Jalil Mammadqolizade, Collected Works I,:118.

Molla Nasr od-Din (1): From the Constitution to the Monarchist Coup d'Etat

The Iranian constitutionalist revolution was led by a coalition of clerics and merchants, attempting to harness a Western-inspired program (setting limits on the powers of the monarch, parliamentarianism, nationalism) to Islamic zeal. Mozaffar od-Din Shah granted his subjects a constitution in December 1905 after a period of bloodless, if occasionally arduous, activity in which the Islamic clergy functioned as spokesman, rallying the masses to the cause of which they had only the dimmest comprehension:

As we have seen, a small group of people brought about the constitutionalist movement in Iran. The mass of people did not know what a constitution was and it seems that they were not demanding it. Furthermore, the leaders themselves were divided in five ways: First, there were the modernists, who had been to Europe or had heard about what it was like there, and who themselves wanted a European constitution. Of course their awareness of Europe and the meaning of constitution and law was uneven. Many had only a superficial understanding. Another, bigger, group were the mullahs, who assumed the leadership. They themselves were divided into two factions: One... was committed to the country. They saw it being annihilated under the autocratic Qajar court and thought a constitution and a consultative assembly was necessary to prevent this. However, it did not understand the constitution as it was later to be seen and understood, and did not want it in the European sense. They had only a vague idea of how to run the country, the people's progress, or such ideas. The other faction had no understanding of the constitution at all. Its adherants had no commitment to the country or the people and had entered into constitutionalism only in the hope of promulgating the shari'at and increasing their own power....

This was the state of the leadership. The mass of people were completely unaware of what a constitution was or what it meant and only became excited and went into action in order to follow their leaders.Kasravi, Tarikh-e Mashruteye Iran (Tehran, 1974), p. 259.

This must have provided a sharp contrast for Mirza Jalil to the late revolution in Russia, with its bold democratic and social demands fought for by the masses who set up their own organizations in the course of the struggle and accepted the leadership of political formations with programs which had been developed in the course of decades of vigorous debate.

Indeed, this skepticism was reflected in the pages of Molla Nasr od-Din. It should be stated at the outset that the magazine excelled in satirizing--often with real gusto--the constitution's enemies. The chief targets of its barbs were the Court, in the person of Minister of the Court Amir-e Bahador-e Jang and, of course, Mohammad 'Ali Shah, and the clericalist enemies of the constitution, particularly Sheikh Fazlollah Nuri, the Shari'atmadar of Rasht, and the Mojtahed and Friday Imam of Tabriz. This much is generally understood, and I pass now to examine this less-well studied aspect.

In its issue of May 19 (June 1), 1906, the Iranian constitution is satirized as a license to indiscipline and traditional vices:

Iranian Freedom

  1. In accordance with the manifesto given to previous shahs, there is freedom to invent religions and sects: Anyone who claims to be a prophet or an imam or divine is free to do so. There is complete freedom to be a pir,A saint subject to popular devotion, a Sufi mystic guide. a morshed,A religious guide. a rokn,Ar-Rokn ar-Rabi', or the Fourth Pillar, was the Perfect Shi'ite, exactly one of which would always exist to guide the faithful. It is a concept most closely identified with the Kermani Shiekhi off-shoot of mainstream Shi'ism. See the references to al-Rukn al-Rabi' in Abbas Amanat, Resurrection and Renewal (Ithaca and London; Cornell University Press, 1989) or a bab.The Gate, i.e., to the Hidden Imam. A concept most closely identified with the Babi schism from Shi'ite Islam. See references in ibid.
  2. Freedom of Conscience

    Making any kind of alteration in shari'at, tariqat,Say, religious policy. or haqiqat,Religious) truth. however one pleases, in the written religious traditions, however one would write them, is not to be censored. Writing and publishing thousands of books like the Hamzename, Mokhtarname,Evidently a book of dream interpretation. or FalnameA genus of books used in bibliomancy. is completely free. In particular, poets are to be given free rein in flattery and slander to the limits of the powers of their imaginations and are to praise their subjects to whatever degree they wish and claim that they possess whatever qualities or attributes they desire.

  3. Freedom of Speech

    Anyone may say anything he likes, whatever words occur to him, regardless of whether they be lies or truth, true or false. at the cross-roads, in the alley, in the bazar, at the gates, no one is to object to the dervishes, epic-narrators, snake charmers, bibliomancers, fortune tellers, zanjir-zans,People who beat themselves with chains to achieve empathy with the suffering of Imam Hosein. Ya Hu"Oh He," i.e., God. A mantra-like chant favored by dervishes.criers, etc., etc., and they are to be free to do so.

  4. Freedom of Fatvas

    The clergy is not to be compelled to issue religious decrees with any consideration of the commandments of the shari'at or in accordance with its laws. There is no harm in contradictory decrees which annul each other.

  5. Freedom of Schools

    Everyone is free to choose whatever school he wishes to study in.

    Condition: It is not to be in accordance with the policies of its superintendent.

    And one must teach whatever subject one wants.

    The issue of exams must never be raised in schools, for it conflicts with the conditions of freedom. Exams contradict freedom.

    Every student of any age who wants to study is not to be kept from staying in school. In particular, the extremely pious who want to study to the end of their lives are to remain in school and must be treated with respect.

  6. Freedom of Waqfs

    The property of waqfs are to be bought and sold and transferred without any obstruction. They are to be disposed of like any other form of property. Their title deeds are not to delimit their consumption or accumulation. Rather, this shall be done under the supervision of their superintendent or some powerful mullah.

  7. Freedom of Measures

    Nothing will be given such freedom and liberty as weights and measures. Anyone may weight anything he wishes as he wishes in any manner he wishes. Let there be a different weight for each city, nay, each shop. In short, weights and measures shall be left to each individual's sense of justice. The government must absolutely no interfere.

  8. Freedom of the Military

    Soldiers shall not be taken from places they were recruited from and other places as in days of old. There must be no training and conscription of soldiers. There is no need for guns. Soldiers may work at any trade or profession.

    Condition: The soldiers of Mazandaran and Khorasan will do nothing but portering.

  9. Freedom of Governors

    Governors, magnates, and clerics shall take whatever they please and have the absolute right to dispose of property. They shall be lords of the people's pride and honor, life and property. They shall not be challenged by anyone.

  10. Freedom of Government

    Governors shall not be appointed in anger or in lenience. It shall be done under the supervision of each office-holder or possessor of a title and he shall have veto power. Which side is correct in rivalries and conflicts between governors shall be decided by a majority of farrashes and servants.

  11. Freedom to Hoard

    Ministers, representatives, magnates, clerics, and others possessors of wealth and power shall have equal rights in hoarding barley and wheat. No one shall have the right to object to their hoarding it in storage bins for 20, 30, 40, or however many years they wish, pouring more in every year, and not selling a single grain to the people.

    Condition: Landlords who throw out their grain for bread every year should not throw it into the desert. If they have a surplus, they can sell it to the owners of public baths to be burned there at night.

  12. Freedom of Bakers

    Bakers shall no longer be compelled to bake bread out of barley and wheat only. They may pollute their bread with whatever they want and as much as they want.

  13. Freedom of Bazars

    There shall be no limits to the rise and fall of the price of any goods or their merchandizing. This shall be done in agreement with the tradesmen's chief farrashes or some farrash.Har bir farrash ya har bir kallash," literally, any farrash or any spider. Worthless things shall be sold and there shall not be any objection in all the world, this issue being reserved for the Judge of the Resurrection.

  14. Freedom of Alcoholic Beverages

    The sons of humanity shall be absolutely equal in the consumption of alcoholic beverages. The right to alcoholic beverages shall be supervised under the watchful eyes of the Masters of the Shari'at and the public bath fire stoker.

  15. Freedom of Coinage

    The government shall not compel anyone in the use of its coins. Anyone who so desires may clip them and use them. For example, one may use a tuman of 9 qrans, a qran of 18 shahis.

  16. Freedom to Be a Deadbeat

    No one will be compelled to feed his family their bread in his land. Anyone may abandon his whole family without a breadwinner and wander from town to town.

    Condition a: It is not necessary to remit money earned to one's homeland if one is dressed as an exorcist of khawfs, a harases, devils.

    Condition b: Being murdered in a foreign country is one's own problem. The government will not have anything to do with it.This is an apparent reference to the fact that many Iranians were killed in the course of the Armenian-Muslim fighting in the Caucasus which had just come to an end. The fact that the Iranian government could neither intervene and defend its subjects nor take revenue became an emotional issue among Iranian Muslims. (Ahmad Kasravi, Tarikh-e Mashruteye Iran, pp. 145-147)

  17. Freedom to Hold Offices

    An minor servant can obtain a major office.

    Condition: Those who become preachers should go outside the country, especially to the Caucasus.

  18. Freedom of Titles

    Anyone, no matter how worthless, can obtain a major title: Generals without an army and captains without troops are good examples.

  19. Freedom of Governorship

    Anyone who possesses the wealth of a province may become governor. It is not necessary that he be literate or able to write well.

  20. --Mullah HasratMullah of the Sorrowful Sighs.

Again, in the issue of September 15 (28), 1906, the newly-opened Iranian Majlis is satirized:

Foreign News

According to news received from Tehran, freedom has been granted in Iran, a constitution has been implemented, and a congress of deputies has been opened with much fanfare.The Majlis would be opened October 7, 1906. The people sent this congress of deputies a petition complaining of the public bath attendants to the effect that they shave their heads with dull razors and dry them with grimy towels so that their heads are cut in 27 places. According to the people's petition, the Assembly of Deputies decided that from now on, the public bath's water is to be changed once every nine years and, since many bald men were to go to the public bath, all of them should wash their heads in the bath's pool so that all the men's heads might be made bald by this water. Then the people might have no further use for these public bath attendants and the people's lives be protected from these dishonorable attendants.On the unhygienic baths spreading baldness, see Siyahatname, p. 27. The reference to spreading baldness via bathwater was an indirect reference to the spread of syphilis.

In the issue of September 29 (October 12), 1906, he reports the following conversation with an Iranian who took exception to this treatment:

To the Iranians

See what an Iranian friend of mine said to me yesterday:

"They say, Mullah Nasroddin, that you don't like us Iranians."

I said, "Why do they say that?"

"You make fun of us so much in your magazine."

"Dear friend, whom should I make fun of?"

"Make fun of the French, make fun of the British, write about the faults of the Americans, go after the Swiss."

"Fine, sir, I will not even mention Iranians any more."

But after my friend left, I regretted my promise, for it occurred to me that I would write about certain things, and often it was Iranians.

However much it might make my friend cross with me, there is nothing for it.

Well, let's get to the point.

In Baku, when a newly-built Iranian children's school was opened, the people there wept like children.Over the customary recital of the story of the suffering and martyrdom of Imam Hosein and his family on the plains of Karbala.

When I heard this, I was flabbergasted. I didn't know whether to believe it or disbelieve it.

When a school is opened, one should be happy, I thought, and not sorry and sad.

Most amazing! When an Iranian cries, it means two different things.By stressing that these are Iranians (as opposed to Shi'ites in general) who are doing the weeping, he is implying that such passions are somehow foreign imports

Of course, it is also possible to weep out of infinite joy. But then, one should write that "The Iranians were so happy that the school opened that they began to weep."

In fact, this would make sense.

But I can't understand why the tears came to the eye in this case.

Where were the tears over the fact that, thanks to the cowardly government, shameless ministers, and unmanly clerics, Iran is being trampled on by foreigners?

Where were the tears when widows, orphans, and the poor ate dirt in Tabriz?Due to famines induced or exacerbated by hoarding.

Where were the tears when the blood of freedom's mojaheds flowed like water in the streets of Tehran?Here, it must be said that Mullah Nasroddin is confounding Russia's Bloody Sunday with the so far practically bloodless, if often arduous, struggle for the Iranian constitution.

As for my Iranian friend who told me not to make fun of Iranians, let him come and answer so I can know where those tears were.

I don't understand you, Iranian friend! I would have expected you to say, "What a fine fellow you are, Mullah Nasroddin!

I would have thought that you'd be my friend.
That you'd be my loyalest friend in all the world.
I'd have thought that, O baradar,Persian for brother.
You'd have been sorry about Iran's sorry state.
Not understanding my concern ended badly.
And I don't know whom you shun more than I.
With your poor country lying in tatters,
You would go to others for a candle in the dark night.
I'd not have spoken to you, O offended friend,
If I'd known that you'd have been so offended.
Drunk on wine and minstrels and opium,
Sober up for once, wake up sometime.
You're arrogant, you don't know your own condition.
You wouldn't notice if you'd lost your country.
Negligence has laid you low, foreigners occupy your land.
Sleep in this negligence and you will remain low.

In the issue of December 16 (29), 1907, Mirza Jalil records this exchange with an Iranian guest:

Iranian Affairs

Today, I read letters from Iran and saw the situation with Iranian journalists and was plunged into deep thought.

I looked at Iran's condition and thought, thinking to know why it is that Iran is that way.

After much thought, I started to open the letters and read.

The first letter came from Baku. It said,

Today, the chief of the lotsToughs, debauches. of Baku gathered in Qasem Bey Mosque to find a solution to the unjust bloodshed. One or two of the masters of the clergy mounted the pulpit and recited a marsiye and made the people weep. One or two people, whose names you will read in the newspapers, spoke. They then dispersed and, God willing, in Baku, not only will people not be killed, but neither will a single chicken. And that's that.

After I read the letter, I threw it away, because it had nothing to do with Iran.

The second letter was from Tehran. It was written by a good friend of ours. He wrote:

Two anjomans, one named the Anjoman-e Khedmat, the other, the Anjoman-e Fotovvat,The Society of Service and the Society of Chivalry. This is the common understanding of these two anjomans, both recognized as indeed being creatures of the anti-constitutionalists in the Court. composed of amirs and magnates, is in the process of being organized in Tehran. They are supposedly supporters of the advancement of the aims of the constitutionalists but actually do whatever is in their power to ruin the country, disrupt the Majlis, and cooperate with the country's enemies.

I read the letter and then set it aside, but I still did not know why Iran remains that way.

I opened the third letter. This one was from Batum. It said that Iran's hajjis are sitting by the Caspian engaged in idle pursuits, casting stones into the water to exercise their arms. (The letter is very long. We will print it in next week's issue, God willing.)

I opened the fourth letter. It was from Najaf the Noble. Its author is a dear friend of ours who has been busy trading in Najaf for some years. He writes:

Some of the clergy of Najaf and Karbala are, as stipulated in sound traditions, today busy taking bribes from neighboring countries, especially the British, and are meeting privately with the British.

After I read this letter, I stopped and thought again for a half-hour.

While thinking, an Iranian acquaintance of mine, one Mirza Abol-Hasan, rang the bell wanting to see me. I let him in. My guest entered and sat down. I showed him the letter from Najaf. My comrade said that it was a lie.


"It would never occur to the clergy of Karbala and Najaf the Noble to commit such treason."

"Why not?"

"Such patriotic and loyal clerics could never commit treason against the country."

"Baradar, when since the world was created did your cleric's patriotism ever manifest itself?"

"These same clerics have written such valuable books for the sake of the nation's and country's progress."

"Such as?"

"Such as the Khabname."Book of Dreams. A book of dreams allegedly dreamt by a cleric of Iranian Azerbaijan, full of edifying tall tales.

I then went and opened the bookshelf and took down the Khabname to see whether it was indeed true that its author had written the book for the sake of the progress of nation and country. I opened the book up to its middle and looked at the 34th page. I read in it, "If someone were to see a mouse in his dream, a misbehaving wife will befall him, and if he were to see many mice in his dream, he will have a long life."

I said, "My dear friend, is this a book written for the sake of nation and country?"


"Very well, what other books of this sort have been written for the sake of the nation?"

"For example, Jame' od-Da'vat."

"Very well, and...?"


"Very well, and...?"

"Ajayeb ol-Makhluqat."

"Very well, and...?"

"Falname."A book of divination.


My comrade went on to list other such books. I said, "Enough already, I've had it."

Now I understand why Iran's people have gotten into this situation.

Any of our readers who wants to understand this matter as much as he wants, we hope that he will look up the above writers' books and look at the first page and see who their authors are.

I forgot to mention one thing.

As if the Iranians' own suffering is not enough for themselves, these MohammadovsMohammad Sa'id Ordubadi in his book, Dumanli Tabnriz, mentions a (probably fictituious) uprising by the peasants of Shoja' against their landlord, Mohammadov of Ganje. (Tabriz-e Me-Alud, I:34) are sticking to them like leeches and won't lay off the poor Iranians; I don't know what they want with them.

But other than that, the Mohammadovs are sure enjoying it!

--MozalanThe Horse-fly; the pen name of several of Mulla Nasr od-Din's staff, including that of Mirza Jalil himself.

Molla Nasr od-Din's attitude towards the Iranians led to several exchanges between Molla Nasr od-Din's poet, 'Ali Akbar Taherzade Saber, and Iranian constitutionalists, among whom he indeed had a wide following. One of them appeared in the pages of Molla Nasr od-Din. In the issue of January 19 (February 1), 1907, Mirza Jalil concluded an essay offering some particularly condescending advice to the Iranians in the Caucasus with a poem by Sabir:

It matters not how sweet-tasting is the halva of freedom.
If I eat a morsel of it, I would say, Oh my dear freedom!
How nice it was, I dreamed I was at the shore of a lake
Strewn about, end to end, piece by piece, was the lullaby of freedom.
They gathered it and put it away in bags, packing it in tight.
Stones from the mountains fell, too, the disaster, freedom.
I was so enthusiastic for this halva that I said,
"Friends, what is it to you if you'd give me a bit of freedom."
What I said did not please the distributor, he said, "Get lost,
Ask not with such short reach from the giver the sweet date of freedom.
Don't you know that this darling today belongs to Iran?
You are not permitted to witness the beauty of freedom."
With utter dejection, I despaired and stood to one side, utterly dejected.
A ship was packed to the gunnies with and bore away all the freedom.
They whistled and the ship set off, while I stood and watched.
Now it was on its way, this ship full of freedom;
When all at once a black banner was unfurled from the mast
Upon which was written words of disaster for freedom
Upon reading these words, it was clear that the captain had drowned
And now was lost the battleship of freedom.
Crashing waves assailed it from all sides
And I saw the waves spread over the ship. Alas for freedom!
I awoke on hearing this noise, looked at the clock and saw
That it was still night and I recited the lullaby of freedom.

In this poem, Saber satirizes the Iranian constitutionalist euphoria over their victory (as if, so to say, Iran had a monopoly on freedom) and prophecizes a bad end for them owing to their having lulled themselves into believing that anything had actually been accomplished. This earned him the following rebuke (based, I believe, on an incomplete understanding of the poem), published in the issue of October 2 (15), 1907:


First, Your Honor Hup Hup,Saber's nom de plume, taken from the hopoe bird. According to Islamic belief, King Solomon would have him fly around the world and report back to him what he saw. I hope that you will stop making fun of us Tabrizis and our liberals.

"Lullaby of freedom!"

I mean, what is this "lullaby of freedom?!" Hup Hup calls our freedom the "lullaby of freedom." I.e., one concludes from what Hup Hup says that our freedom is (God forbid!), so to say, asleep, or should sleep, or else, will sleep.

"Lullaby of freedom!"

We very much hope that Hup Hup will stop making fun of our freedom! In fact, our freedom has been asleep, but now the Hup Hups will not allow allow our poor freedom to wake from its sleep for an instant with their "pussy cat, pussy cat."

"Lullaby of freedom!"

I mean, one concludes from what Hup Hup says that one should sing a lullaby to our freedom, so that our freedom might go back to sleep. Isn't it enough? Our freedom has been sleeping for better than a thousand years. Isn't a thousand years enough?

I mean, what was wrong with our freedom sleeping for a thousand years? In fact, it was just as well. Of course it was just as well. Obviously it was just as well. Surely it was just as well. For if it was not just as well, why is it that for a thousand years our mojtaheds never once said that freedom is a good thing.

"Lullaby of freedom!"

For a thousand years, our clergy and scholars, scholars and clergy, have been chanting the "lullaby of freedom!" In fact, if it were necessary for freedom to have woken up, i.e., if freedom were a good thing, why is it that with thousands of thousands of outcries by the suffering, the mojtaheds and the masters of the clergy as a whole never once saw the need to write or say that freedom is necessary.

"Lullaby of freedom!"

We very much wish that His Honor Hup Hup would stop making fun of our freedom.

Have our mojtaheds not seen our suffering innocents rotting in Iran's prisons for a thousand years?! Have our mojtaheds not heard the screams of the poor subjects as they were pummelled by our khans, our landlords, our ministers, and, again, our farrashes?

"Lullaby of freedom!"

Who has been chanting to us for a thousand years the "lullaby of freedom?!"

"Lullaby of freedom!"

Now Hup Hup has started in with the "lullaby of freedom!" This shows how fortunate is poor freedom, when for a thousand years our mojtaheds on the one hand chanted the "lullaby of freedom" and now His Honor Hup Hup has started in with the "lullaby of freedom!"

"Lullaby of freedom!"

Aside from all this, we Tabrizis are all confounded by one thing: For a thousand years, our mojtaheds wrote thousands of books, thousands of theses, but no matter how we search these books and theses page by page, the word freedom is nowhere to be found.

That is, the masters of the clergy have been chanting to us Muslims the "lullaby of freedom!"

And now, on his part, Hup Hup (bless his father!) has started in with the "lullaby of freedom!"

Bless his father, he wants to put the freedom we have awoken back to sleep.

Now he's started in

"Lullaby of freedom!"


I produce here two other examples of these poetic polemics involving Molla Nasr od-Din's Saber.

The first is part of a long-standing rivalry between the Baku-based Hayat/Taze Hayat, a daily reflecting a more mainstream trend of Islamic liberalism, and the more avant-guard Molla Nasr od-Din.See, in particular, Hayat #190 and Molla Nasr od-Din, September 8 (21), 1906 for an earlier exchange involving Saber and Hayat’s “Gup Gup.” (The Braggart) by Mohammad Mohammadzade. In addition, Taze Hayat

adopted an attitude of exaggerated traditionalism due on the one hand to the mentality of its publisher and those associated with him, and on the other, to his desire for vengeance on Irshad, which had assumed leadership of the liberal and progressive Azeri youth movment.

Thus, this polemic was, quite aside from its manifest content, a proxy war on Iranian turf between the traditionalist conservatives and the liberal iconoclasts:

....[I]n a young society in the process of formation, and especially at a time when, in consequence of the Russian liberal movement, everything that was not liberal was considered "anti-social"--a newspaper which, instead of encouraging its readers in the search of new social aspirations, ridiculed the rush towards liberalism... could not fail to call down the thunder of the [new Muslims] on the head of its editor, Hashim bey.... At the instigation of a few hotheads, the intellectuals and the "socializers" declared a boycott against Hashim bey.

....Taza Heyat's circulation dropped to such an extent that its publisher, who was, nevertheless, a millionaire, decided to terminate its career.Jeyhoun Bey Hajibeyli, "The Origins of the National Press in Azerbaijan," Asiatic Review, XXVII:90 April 1931, p. 355.

This exchange is particularly well-known because it is picked up and excerpted in Ahmad Kasravi's Tarikh-e Mashruteye Iran [History of the Iranian Constitutionalist Revolution.] It appears that Kasravi was unaware that this was perhaps more of a duel between Mohammadzade and Sabir, having only read its echo as published in Azarbayjan.Just as, it should be added, Soviet Azeri scholars overlooked the articles in Azarbayjan.

AdabiyatMulla Nasr od-Din, II:19, May 12 (25), 1907. In this and the following poems, bracketed portions are those which do not appear in Kasravi's Tarikh-e Mashruteye Iran.

Say, my lad, let's see what has come of your presumption?!
Your cries have shaken the whole world to its foundation!
Perhaps now you’ll see your faults and do what should be done.
And so, my friend, here's what I say:
Was it as I said or not?

[Said you not, “I’m not ill, my body’s fit and whole?”
Said I not, “Ambition and greed afflict your soul.”
Said you not to me, “Over me spite has no hold?”
‘Till was put to the test one day!
Was it as I said or not?]

Said you not, brave fellow, that none in the Anjoman
Would e’er consent that Atabak would come to our homeland?!
What is it that made hollow the fighting Anjoman?
Same old hinges, same gateway.
Was it as I said or not?

[Did you not the Duma the font of our hopes proclaim?_
Did I not this Duma as the source of illusion blame?_
Did the Baku deputy ever to the call for justice lend his name?Taze Hayat was bankrolled by the Baku millionaire Taqiev, whose son, Isma’el, was the Duma deputy from Baku. _ To the degree that Molla Nasr od-Din discussed the Duma, it was to mock the Muslim deputies as backward, foolish, and representing the Muslim élite. (March 24, 1907, pp. 4-5, March 31, pp. 3 and 6, and April 28, p. 6) On the Muslims and the Duma, see Swietochowski, Russian Azerbaijan, 1905-1920 (Cambridge, 1985).

You’re still a kid, be on your way!
Was it as I said or not?

[Did you not say that in the Duma, our needs would be attended to?
Did I not say don’t swallow that whole, it will be the end of you?
The black clouds are gathering, what are we then to do?_
They have enveloped your Duma.As the poem was being written, the Stolypin goverment was spinning out his last in a series of provocations against the Second Duma by “exposing” the Social Democratic factions’ infiltration of the army. See Charques, Richard, The Twilight of Imperial Russia (Oxford, 1958), pp. 170-171.

What it as I said or not?

[Was it not you who said that we are united?
I for one recall I said, “Do not rely on it.”
Our zealous toil has by fractious spite been requited.
The veil has been snatched away.
Was it as I said or not?]

[Azarbayjan's Answer to Molla Nasr od-Din]

Sha'ban 22, 1325/October 1, 1907 This poem was copied with minor ammendations and a few extra verses from a poem by Mohammad Mohammadzade published in the August 29, 1907 (Gregorian) issue of Taze Hayat, as noted in the body of the article. I note the more substantive changes in the notes below. Hey, see, how everything we said has taken place!
See how God answered our prayers in every case!
He answered all our pleas with complete and perfect grace.
Now how was it, Uncle Mullah, as I said or not?

The Anjoman’s members lacked in zeal is what you said.Original to Azarbayjan.
Set aside your reckoning, Heaven’s reckoned in your stead!
Said I not,_ “A scheme is hatching in Atabak’s head?”I.e., the Tabrizis had resisted Atabak long before the other constitutionalists had.
Now how was it, Uncle Mullah, as I said or not?

[Said I not, “Do not allow just anyone into our country
Do not introduce all comers to the Sacred AssemblyLiterally, anjoman, but it is clearly the National Consultative Assembly, the Majlis, which is meant here.?”
Said I not what’d happen if you’d only wait and see?
Now how was it, Uncle Mullah, as I said or not?]This verse is original to Azarbayjan, evidently to emphasize the point made in the previous verse, that the Tabrizis had warned the Tehran politicians not to be duped by Atabak.

Just when the cry, “Woe, Homeland!” had set my soul to shaking,
A dandelion tuft lit ‘pon my ear, the glad tidings breaking:
“They’ve shot the Atabak, an end to his mischief making.”In Taze Hayat, this line reads, “Ah, what marvelous news, such food for my spirit making!”
Now how was it, Uncle Mullah, as I said or not?

[Now among us, Uncle Mullah, ‘s not a particle of spite.
We’re united and are not afflicted worth a mite.
Recall you not I said that this illness can be made right?
Now how was it, Uncle Mullah, as I said or not?Original to Azarbayjan. A verse from Taze Hayat is dropped here: Did I not say that the National Assembly was our refuge?
See how the world was covered by the smoke and sparks of our sighs!
Nor is there a drop of error in what I say.
Now how was it Uncle Mullah, as I said or not?

[With Atabak rid of and gone it is now seen where
Once more the people’s opinions all as one cohere
We are all united, our enmity does disappear.
Now how was it, Uncle Mullah, as I said or not?

[That there’s not a shred of zeal in the Anjoman was your claim.
Yet with such vigor it acted all the same!
Such a mojahed it was who beat the drum of fame!
Now how was it, Uncle Mullah, as I said or not?

[We have seen done what needs be done.
Yet we have seen you would dress the country in mourning.
Thank God for being granted such fitting recompense!
Now how was it, Uncle Mullah, as I said or not?]Original to Azarbayjan.

An Answer to Two AnswersOctober 2, 1907

You’re boasting. Ah, he didn’t see! Stop jumping up and down so!
Don’t giggle pointlessly like a childish clown so!
You haven’t pricked up your ears. Don’t show yourself around so!
Hush, don’t talk but sleep, my boy!
Your claim has not yet been met.

Are you prospering even before you’ve set up shop?_
Is it time for lunch before the sun is up?
Does a single rose blossom bring winter to a stop?
Hush, don’t talk but sleep, my boy!
Your claim has not yet been met.

You killed Atabak, indeed, I don’t contend it.
But haven’t you a thousand more, or have I misapprehended?
I don’t think the old gateway has been so_ quickly mended.
Hush, don’t talk but sleep, my boy!
Your claim has not yet been met.

Atabak’s dead, but where’s your cannon, muskets? More,
In combat’s deep ocean where is your ship of war?
The same old bath, same old washbowl, but where’s their new color?
Hush, don’t talk but sleep, my boy!
Your claim has not yet been met.

Say, is your Finance Ministry set up safe and sound?
Have you made your wide sleeves short, your tall hats short and round?
In your entire country_ is one railway to be found?
Hush, don’t talk but sleep, my boy!
Your claim has not yet been met.

[Take a trip to the Tehran hospital.
See what kind of medicine Mirza Abol-Hasan practices.Abol-Hasan Khan was a pioneer of modern Iranian medicine. This is refered to in Tarbiat/Browne, The Press and Poetry of Modern Persia (Los Angeles, 1983), p. 157.
His medicine is plain poison and has killed most of Iran.
Hush, don’t talk but sleep, my boy!
Your claim has not yet been met.

[If I were to consider the realms of Iran one-by-one
The reader would be bored and our discourse long would run.
I limit my self to this statement for precisely this reason.
Hush, don’t talk but sleep, my boy!
Your claim has not yet been met.
The water hasn’t returned to the stream.A reference to the proverb, "Water which has flowed from the stream never returns." This is indeed a pessimistic view of Iranian politics! Your old office is as it was
Its paint’s not even faded.]

[Azarbayjan's Reply]October 30, 1907. Taze Hayat's reply was published in its issue of October 12, 1907.

My merry man, were I to set off for the realm of Rey,
In just one step might one suppose I’d make it all the way?
The Turks, they say Yavash yavash, the Arabs, Showay showay.
You who are in such a rush!
Hush, don’t speak, be patient.

[You say that winter’s day must be called the first of spring.
I say that if winter does not pass, how can we be secure?
Don’t look at deceptive words, let the heart be spared.
You who are in such a rush!
Hush, don’t speak, be patient.]

Many look at us from afar and giggle as they speak.
Like an old gate’s hinges, they creak the same old creak.
Instead of waiting as the heavens turn, they themselves spin like a top.Many pen names used in Molla Nasr od-Din involve spinning, connoting insanity or jocularity, handy covers behind which one may shoot the most lethal darts of satire.
You who are in such a rush!
Hush, don’t speak, be patient.

[The weight of the enemy’s rebukes give my heart such pain.
Our friend is far away, to whom should I my pain explain?
For on one side you pull, on the other pulls my chain.
You who are in such a rush!
Hush, don’t speak, be patient.

[We’ve not yet given our precious even a hint of scolding
A suckling babe needs to be brought up and taught
I am amazed. Why are you so hasty?
You who are in such a rush!
Hush, don’t speak, be patient.

[A sleeping people for musket or cannon have no use .
The pure of heart have no need for guile and ruse.
Go, hit the road, no need to linger here, you silly goose!
You who are in such a rush!
Hush, don’t speak, be patient.

[It used to be the camel wheat to our land would bear.
We now have equality, Shah, amir and beggar.
Indeed, we wake the sleeping with the royal trumpet’s blare.
You who are in such a rush!
Hush, don’t speak, be patient.

[Do not think that no one has set our affairs to right.
The wise know a saying, and here’s the point of it.
This railroad, truth to tell, gets us no where.
You who are in such a rush!
Hush, don’t speak, be patient.

[We don’t guide the foe down the faithful’s lane but kick him out.
If an ass dozes in the creek, fear not, we’ll take up the load.
We’ll get on his feet any bathing donkey with the wave of the hand.
You who are in such a rush!
Hush, don’t speak, be patient.]

PoetryTaze Hayat, October 12 (25), 1907

O Fate, spread your sorrow, pain, and suffering.
The more uncouth the kid, the better you think of him.
What would be wrong with our sampling some of your generosity, too?
May what I said might be come true,
May what you called impossible not be so.

When we saw that we had not even begun many of these tasks,
We are proud that we swung into action. Much is not well with us,
Yet to be spring with one flower blossom will not happen under Aries.I.e., it is only the first of spring, more flowers will blossom.
Time will come we will be happy.
May what you called impossible not be so.

There was a plan for a new building; a wall was erected.
The fortress' tower was good, there was a gate.
The wayfarers must pass through, whether a thousand or a million,
The people have found the new gate.
May what you called impossible not be so.

We let these words suffice for all the people of the world.
Without patience, it is impossible to do anything to fill the void with order.
Everyone must climb the castle step by step.
There is not a river which cannot be forded.
May what you called impossible not be so.

What sort of sarcastic banner is it you raise so before the throne?
You array an army only to disperse it with abuse.
Don't hurl your raving at the world but do something yourself.
The time for this sort of thing has passed.
May what you called impossible not be so.

I have taken your trip to your Tehran hospital.
I have paid your visit to your Mirza Abol-Hasan Khan's hell.
He will not consent to medicine, even if plague spread.
Stop going on about him.
May what you called impossible not be so.

There is no need to enumerate the realms of Iran one by one.
If you enumerate them, go ahead, it will cure none of our ills.
In the dark of night, it is a flickering candle,
Not a lantern or a cane.
May what you called impossible not be so.

After the constitution was re-established, a poem/polemic appeared in Nasim-e ShomalWe have not been able to locaate the original, but have taken the text from Rezazadeye Malek, pp. 176-178, Persian translation pp. 178-180. the constitutionalist weekly published in Iran's northern province of Gilan. Its author, the magazine's poet/writer Sayyed Ashraf od-Din Hosein, prefaces the poem with the comment:

< /p>

Yesterday, I read issue 49 of Molla Nasr od-Din in which it was written, "Bad indeed is the blood of the Iranians...." This offended this son of Gilan and he took up his pen and crafted these verses in response.< /p>

Uncle MullahNasim-e Shemal, #51, August 14, 1909 The eighth and tenth verses are written in Azeri Turkish.

Do not mock Iran, Oh Uncle Mullah.
Do not undermine a ruined house, Oh Uncle Mullah.

You don't know what lions lived in this land,
What capable, active, pure-minded people,
King-makers, brave, courageous.
Do not grapple with Iran, Oh Uncle Mullah.
Do not touch the dagger's edge, Oh Uncle Mullah.

Come visit Gilan or Tehran from Tiflis.
See how nothing is left because of injustice.
You will find of the constitution nothing but the word remains.
Do not throw stones at the windows of the world-wise, Oh Uncle Mullah.
Do not touch the dagger's edge, Oh Uncle Mullah.

Was not the land of Iran heaven on earth?In Saber's poem, this statement is put in the mouth of the reactionary, thereby discrediting it.
Did not our homeland extend to Africa?
Seventeen provinces of the Caucasus were ours as well.
Do not touch QZLM or Oman, Oh Uncle Mullah.
Do not touch the dagger's edge, Oh Uncle Mullah.

What's it to you that our country lies in ruins, by God?
Or that it has become a waypost for the desert demons, by God?
Or that the Muslims have become weak and vagrant, by God?
Do not shoot an arrow at the hearts of the Muslims, Oh Uncle Mullah.
Do not touch the dagger's edge, Oh Uncle Mullah.

What's it to you that the sooth-seer and exorcist speak in error?
That the religious guide and epic-reciter speak in error?
That the jamzan is ridiculous and his chart is a joke?
Do not mock the soul and his son, Oh Uncle Mullah.
Leave off the chicken and the fesenjan, Oh Uncle Mullah.

What's it to you that the constitution has become like a radiant sun?
What's it to you that the Shah has fled in fear to Russia?
What's it to you that Zell os-Soltan has fled to Gilan?
Do not ridicule the reactionaries, Oh Uncle Mullah.
Do not touch the dagger's edge, Oh Uncle Mullah.

If the Sheikh has clothed himself in delicate brocade, what can I do?
Or if the sanctimonious dyed his beard with henna, what can I do?
Or if His Most Sacred Majesty is deposed, what can I do?
Do not prattle about shahs and ministers, Oh Uncle Mullah.
Do not touch the dagger's edge, Oh Uncle Mullah.

Although the Iranian people are terrified,
The Iranians' sons are awakened.
Good and pure is the blood of the Iranians.
Do not go on about Gilan and Esfahan, Oh Uncle Mullah.
Do not touch the dagger's edge, Oh Uncle Mullah.

Sepahdar the Magnificent has made Iran to flourish.
The Bakhtiari is the Beharestan's guard.
Do not tear at Iran's body with your teeth.
Do not damage your teeth for nothing, Oh Uncle Mullah.
Do not touch the dagger's edge, Oh Uncle Mullah.

Long live Mohammad's Law upon the earth.
Long live our King Ahmad, enthroned on the constitution.
Long live the land of Iran for all eternity.
Do not hurt the narcissus or basil, Oh Uncle Mullah.
Do not touch the dagger's edge, Oh Uncle Mullah.

The poem referred to, again by Saber, was in fact, a satire of the monarchists and the offending phrase had been put in the mouth of one of the dethroned Shah's supporters, a favorite devise of his. This response shows that even when Molla Nasr od-Din published poems sympathetic to the Iranian constitutionalists and their cause, the weight of its mockery of Iran and the Iranians led the reader to sense that it was more of the same.

Molla Nasr od-Din (2): The 1908 Coup

In June 1908, Mohammad 'Ali Shah took a series of steps culminating in a coup against the constitution, the bombardment and dissolving of the Majlis, and the arrest and execution of leading constitutionalist activists.

The magazine's initial response to the coup had a certain "we told you so" quality about it, something which rather outweighed its anger against the coup and its engineers. This will be clear on reading the following articles by the editor:

The Elimination of the UncleanJune 16 (29), 1908.

We, along with our Iranian brothers, are grief-stricken by Iran's disasters and prostrate ourselves before the writers and other pure-spirited mojaheds who were martyred at the command of the cowardly butchers. We wish from the bottom of our hearts that your Iran will pass from these calamities into prosperity.

You did not think it was necessary for Molla Nasr od-Din to have uttered his witticisms or written his satirical pieces all this time. I.e., that there was no substance to all this writing. If you would ask me again about the reason for this, I would repeat what I said in the first place:

That the first and last reason Iran is in this state is that now in Iran, every single Muslim, before doing anything, says, "Who is your religious guide?"

I conclude my remarks by addressing my Iranian brothers with two pieces of advice:

My first piece of advice is that surely, a thousand times surely, those subjects of foreign nations living in Iran be treated in such a way that none one of them be offended, both out of humanitarianism and so as not to give enemies an excuse.This strikes me as rather oracular advice. If he is being ironic, he switches tone in the next paragraph; if serious, what can he mean?

My second piece of advice is that in the age of Mohammad 'Ali Shah, it has become difficult for those living in the land of Iran and they should consider ridding themselves of Mohammad 'Ali Shah as a form of the elimination of the unclean, for it has become well-nigh impossible to breath in such a fetid atmosphere.

--From the Editors

Mirza Jalil cannot resist taking the opportunity to shoot more satiric barbs at the Tabrizi Muslims:

BabisJune 30 (July 13), 1908.

There is at this very hour a famine in Tabriz. People are pining for their bread. The water has been cut off from those living in the villages so that they might burn. Horsemen prowl the city and loiter. On the part of the constitutionalists, girls are dying and they are taking refuge in the Armenian quarter. Baghmishe, Bilmisku, Puransku, Khiaban, Bazar-e Chai, and Maralan are all scattered and looted.

There is something behind all this.

Those who are not in the know might imagine that the fighting in Tabriz is a political fight, i.e., they might imagine that the constitutionalists are few and have been overcome and the royalists are many and have won.

This is not so.

In Iran, Mohammad 'Ali Shah is supported only by those who are out for their own interests, i.e., have been bribed and have thus promised to help the Shah. For example, in Tabriz, Mojtahed Hajji Mirza Hasan,The Mojtahed of Tabriz, a pillar of the Islamic Anjoman of Tabriz, the rallying point of the city's anti-constitutionalist forces, a landlord accused of being a grain-hoarder. the Friday Imam,Mirza Karim, a relative of the Mojtahed and a landlord long notorious for hoarding grain. (Kasravi, various pages) Mir Hashem,A leader of the impoverished Devechi borough of Tabriz. After the constitutionalists repudiated his bid for leadership of the local constitutionalist movement, he led his borough in the fight against it. (Kasravi, various pages) Hajji Ebrahim Sarraf,A member of the anti-constitutionalist Islamic Anjoman which he saw as a force for stability and an obstacle to anarchy. (pp. 124-5, 182, 185, Nasrollah Fathi, Zendeginameye Shahid-e Nikname Seqat ol-Eslam Tabrizi (Tehran, 1973) Bankrolled this anjoman and was an intimate of the Shah since his years as Crown Prince. (p. 492, Kasravi) Hajji Mir Manaf,A sayyed of Devechi and an ally of Mir Hashem (Kasravi, various pages). His Honor Nezam od-Dawle,A former governor of Tabriz and a landlord member of the Tabriz Anjoman who began breaking with the constitution after the Majlis began attacking land entitlements. He led an attempt to drive out the more militant constitutionalist agitators such as Sheikh Salim, in league with the Mojtahed of Tabriz. He left Tabriz when the Mojtahed was driven out. (Fathi, various pages.) Shoja'-e Nezam,From Marand. Led an outlaw band of cavalry in terrorizing Azerbaijan. His services to the monarchy included leading an army against the constitutionalist boroughs of Tabriz. (Kasravi, Fathi, various pages.) Their Honors [Hajji] Faramarz and Zargham[-e Nezam],Two tribal cavalry leaders who terrorized the villages of Azerbaijan in league with another outlaw cavalry band, that of Rahim Khan (who seems to have been forgotten by our author!) Luti Kazem, Luti Hasan and Luti Asghar,Tofangchis of Devechi. (pp. 34, 59, 95, 133, and 150, Hajji Mohammad Baqer Vijuyei, Balvaye Tabriz. ed. 'Ali Katebi (Tehran, Ketabhaye Simorgh, n.d.) This book remains the most straightforward and complete chronicle of these events.) Taherzadeye Behzad, in his Qiam-e Azarbayjan, records the nicknames of Nayeb Hasan (Dali = Crazy) and Nayeb Asghar (Qolaqhi Kasik = Cut-Eared). "Kazem Davatgaroghli and Hasan Kababpaz lived in the borough of Devechi and were very brave and renown. They were enemies of Sattar Khan." (p. 491, Kasravi) i.e., in all of Tabriz, only 11 people.

But now, see how all of Tabriz has attacked the constitutionalist boroughs, torn them to pieces, and drunken their blood!

Let no one say that the aim of the attackers was to wipe out the Shah's enemies and restore the old order. No; aside from the above 11 people, not one person can be found in all of Tabriz who would want this.

So what is this tumult about?

If we look at this matter a bit closely, we will see that there is a commandment involved.

His Honor Mirza Hasan's flock of zealous Muslims have been convinced that the constitutionalists are all Babis.

And that settles that.

Daddy said to me, "Son, don't let them get away, grab that Babi son of a bastard. Beat him! Grab him! Hey, don't let him get away! Come on, get him! Cut those Babis! Hurrah! Hurrah!"

This is what the fighting in Tabriz is all about.

At first, I didn't now about this myself. For example, I would be told that someone or other was a Babi, i.e., an apostate. I, for my part, knew that killing him was a religious obligation. And that settles it. Otherwise, I would have taken the trouble and gotten into an exchange with him, asking, "Is it true that this guy was a Babi?" or raise the issue of freedom of conscience. I even thought a bit.... What does Devechi have to do with freedom of conscience? This sort of thing would never happen in our province.

And that's that.

This is what the Tabriz fighting is over.

Mojtahed, yes, Mojtahed.

In Mojtahed Hajji Mirza Hasan's eyes, if one Muslim's boy does something wrong, it's an offense against the Laws of Islam.

A thousand Muslim girls fled to the Armenian quarter to take refuge in the homes of foreigners right in front of Mojtahed Hajji Mirza Hasan's eyes.

But the Russian bank president Bidolovich spent 5000 tumans and gave the hungry, abandoned Muslim girls bread so that they would not die of starvation.

We have written in the past the mojtaheds ride on the backs of porters.

They were offended at us.Rather more than offended. According to his wife's memoirs of him, several Mashhadis came from Iran on a mission to murder Mirza Jalil over the cartoon which appeared on the front page of the issue of January 20 (February 2),1908, in which the mojtaheds of Najaf are depicted as navigating the muddy streets there on the backs of Arab porters. (Hamide Mohammadqolizade, p. 30)

Now I hope that they look at Mojtahed Hajji Mirza Hasan Aqa.

They will see that such lutis and qoldors can exist in the world.


The Very Same ManJune 30 (July 13), 1908.

Mohammad 'Ali Shah sent a letter to Tabriz on the fourth of this Jamadi IIJuly 4 (17), 1907. as follows:

Oh people of Tabriz!

Oh people of Azerbaijan who are unhappy with me! I hear that you are angry with me for having sworn by the Koran not to betray the government and the nation every again and rally the enemies around me and destroy the country.Mohammad 'Ali Shah had sworn a number of powerful oaths on the Koran to uphold the Constitution.

Oh people of Tabriz, let anyone else say that all these words were the truth and let them saw what they want this time around, but I cannot understand what you are saying and what you want from me and what you expect from me. By God, by God, I am amazed at you. If it was someone from any other province who was complaining about me, they had the right, but I cannot understand what you people of Tabriz expected of me.

I mean, don't you know me? Let others say what they will, but, well, my son, you who know me, you who are so well-acquainted with me, who know from the egg of what species of bird I am hatched, you who are aware of what I did!

Oh people of Tabriz! Remember again that it wasn't so long ago, only a year ago, when I was the Crown Prince, that you watched me throw away my promise to you and you didn't say a single word.

Once again, recall the Prince's Park! No doubt you all recall what I was doing there, how respectable people would bring their boys to that park and how I indulged my pleasures. How they sent those pretty girls to that park on my command before your very eyes. And you remember well how, when I was Crown Prince, such boys and girls were sacrificed for my dear person.

Well, you never had any objection in those days, so what are you going on about today?

From whom did I hear that what I was doing in those days in the Prince's Park were not nice things?

When did any of my mojtaheds or other scholars of mine give any indication of the vileness of my deeds?

One month, the masters of the clergy published a treatise on how many times it is necessary to cough, or how many times it is necessary to rub (?), or else, "Any woman who puts on her underwear standing up, her wishes will not be answered for three days, and when she puts them on, she should say the following prayer."In Persian.

Oh people of Tabriz!

After my training as Crown Prince was finished, you hailed me as your king, and with what pomp you sent me off to Tehran!

Well, what did you want from me?

I am that same man, but "the saddle has changed"In Persian. a little bit.

Let the people of some other province see me as a human being and seek royal qualities in me.

Well, what are you going on about? You understand me.

Don't you remember what went on in the Prince's Park?

So what are you going on about?


A more compassionate tone is struck for the first time in the following poem, by Mashhadi Habib Zeinalof:

Mammadeli'sMohammad 'Ali Shah. ReveleJuly 24 (August 6), 1908.

What happened!!! Was your Majlis destroyed, upon my life?The refrain is actually, "May I die for you," an expression of great devotion. Its sarcastic use here only underlines the savagery of the Shah's murderous deeds.
Was the home of your hopes razed to the ground, upon my life?
Did the foreigners foil your mojaheds!!!!
Were they victims of cannon and musket fire?
Were their bodies laid low by the shots of my cannon?
Did their red blood course through the streets, upon my life?
Were the houses bombarded? How many thousand were killed
Of the innocent children and the female sex, upon my life?
Where are the legislators? Where are the constitutionalists?
Some are in prison, some soaked in their blood, upon my life.
Those representatives who would set limits on me
I have made those dogs once more my guests, upon my life. (?)
Will memories of liberty come to you in the future
And a wish for some order for the nation, upon my life?
You will remember the Fundamental Laws
While Iran is filled with more injustice than ever, upon my life.
What have you to do with constitutions, anyway? Isn't it nothing?
Are not the Muslims to live in thrall, upon my life?
Is it said here, "Let what the Shah wants not be,
Let him not take five boys to his side every day," upon my life?
Rather, let him get bloated on the nation's wealth
And let the workers go vagrant and naked, upon my life.
And now remember the constitution in your dreams
Like a starving chicken dreaming of a barn, upon my life.

--Qizdirmali”Enraged," the pen-name of Mashhadi Habib Zeinalof, a staff-poet of Molla Nasr od-Din.

Molla Nasr od-Din (3): Sattar Khan's Uprising

With the entire country at the feet of the Shah and his Russian protectors, Sattar Khan rallied his followers during the first week of July 1908, to expel the constitutionalists' enemies and their Russian backers from his borough of Tabriz. In the ensuing weeks, he chased these forces and the pillaging tribal cavalry they had unleashed on them from the more prosperous boroughs of Tabriz.p. 28-30, Vijuye, Balvaye Tabriz.,

After almost three months of desperate, bloody street-fighting in Tabriz led by Sattar Khan, his name appears for the first time in the pages of Molla Nasr od-Din in the following curious piece:

SatanSeptember 15 (28), 1908.

Satan, Satan, Satan....

In his whole life, a Muslim cannot take one step, cannot do one thing, in which Satan is not present. There is not a place in the world in which and not a people among whom Satan is so à la mode as among us Muslims. In every task, in every place, from our mosques and pulpits to our houses and alleys, the name of Satan fills each of our hearts.

Well, it seems we have entered Ramadan. Our preachers mount the pulpit. They begin by reciting their thanks to our khans our wealthy, our QWLY ChMAQLY, and our QWChY and will conclude by saying, "May God curse Satan."


On top of that, like our children who fear the khortdanDemon. and damda baja, the fear of Satan is instilled in Muslims during their childhood so that they won't kill each other or steal each other's chickens.

On top of that, when children get restless at night and the mothers do not want to arise from their sweet sleep to give the child milk or to see why the child is crying or if the child has been bitten by a bedbug or is suffering from something else, the lazy mother makes the child afraid of khortdan so that he pipes down and sleeps. Sure, the child quiets down, but until he is a fifteen-year-old boy, he still believes that there is a khortdan in the world who comes at night and takes crying children to the dark MYShEs.....

Same for our adults....

For century after century, each Muslim believed that in Satan's name he had an enemy who was always trying to pervert him from the Path. The Muslim imagined that this Satan was the trickster of creation, that there is a on his head like, for example, what they put on children's heads in Nakhchevan. On top of this, is a board and from this board is hung and this Satan has children's clothes and Satan has a tail , and from one of his eyes, cleverness pours out, and one eye is blind. One day, this blind Satan wanted to pervert a pious man named one of the Children of Israel, from the Path. He thought and thought. He made a girl sick and told the girl's people that the cure for this girl's illness was in the hands of that same pious man. They brought this girl before that pious man and the Muslim and Satan perverted the pious man from the Path.

It is also said that the Iranian and Caucasian liberals gathered £500 to send to the poor of Tabriz and wanted to have it sent by a Roman merchant named Castelli,A French company, Nearco Castello et Frères, based in Tabriz, wrote a letter dated November 8, 1908, expressing confidence in the Tabriz Anjoman's ability to protect foreigners. See Browne, The Persian Revolution, [Frank Cass & Co., Ltd., 1966), p. 255.but blind Satan came in the clothes of two people, one of the two being Dastmalchi,the other being Hajji Hasan 'Ali. Yes, he came and went in the clothes of these two and secretly told Castelli that he was sending this money to Sattar Khan to buy guns and ammuniton. We will report this and Rahim Khan will burn down your home and (?) in Tabriz Thus, blind Satan did not let the money gathered to be sent to Tabriz.

Other peoples are wary of their enemies. Muslims fear Satan. Others are wary of bears. Muslims think of devils. In the deserts, one fears the call of a wolf; the Muslim fears the Desert Ghoul. Other peoples fear nothing in the world but a wolf. A thirty-five year old Muslim man is afraid of jinns, of J'L, of Siah, of HNAJE, of TRFAN, of Th'LB.... the Muslim is afraid of the entire universe.


The Muslim always calls for God's help, saying, "Oh, Creator, save me from Satan."

Let not those people from Tareqqi imagine that by this Satan here is meant the Qaradagh or Nakhchevan Satan.

By Satan here is meant that very same blind Satan from whose TSKLAH hangs ZNQRW, that same blind Satan who is described in all the Muslim books, that same blind Satan who now, at this very time, in the village of Qara Yazi, has provoked a "mullah's war" which ended in two of the mullahs coming to Tiflis and both of them carrying off three sugar cones, one of them taking the sugar to the Consulate, the other to the Sheikh ol-Eslam's office.

May God curse Satan!


Well, it's gone on too long....

The Sattar Khan story clearly forms the core of this front-page piece, and yet, note how deep in another polemic Mirza Jalil buries it. This, and the piece's timing, would seem to indicate a strong hesitancy, the cause of which can only be guessed at with the information available.

In any case, this hesitancy was replaced by fervent praise for Sattar Khan as it became clear that he was waging a serious and determined effort to defend Tabriz from the constitution's enemies. As if to make up for this article, a notice is printed at the top of the front page of the issue published two weeks later:

HailOctober 6 (19), 1908.

When a human accomplishes something overwhelmingly great, it is often that it is as if one's tongue is caught. At first, one doesn't know what to say.

After the Shah's cowardly army was overcome, we now know what to say:

Hail Sattar Khan!

It was also around this time that Saber found his voice and began writing his famous odes to the fighters of Tabriz in Molla Nasr od-Din (as discussed below). That it is Saber who leads Molla Nasr od-Din's writers in enthusiasm stems from his more traditionalist background:

Mirza Jalil was a product of the Teacher's Seminary of Gori, Georgia, and had been educated in Russian language and culture. Through this, he had picked up at least smatterings of Western revolutionary ideas.

Saber, on the other hand, was steeped in Iranian culture. While Mirza Jalil was reading John Stuart Mill and Chernechevsky, Saber was translating Sa'di into Turkish. His mentor was Sayyed 'Azim Shirvani, a cleric who raised the banner of the reform of Muslim education under the slogan of resisting Russian education.Sayyid Hoseyn, "Mirza Alakbar Sabir Tahirzade" in Abbas Zamanov, H. Arasli (ed.), Masirlari Sabir Haqqinda , p. 107. This, though evidently dissembling a certain taste for it. He had translated Pushkin into Persian. See Aziz Mir Ahmadov, Sabir (Baku 1958), pp. 13-14. Although he would next fall in with the openly Europeanizing circle of 'Abbas Sahhat, a memoirist recalls Saber as clinging to classical (i.e., Persian-style) literatureIbid., p. 118. One scholar comments,

The fact is that Sabir was a pious Muslim throughout his life. He prayed and fasted. The fact is that he his remaining within the bound of religion had its effect, although the author then continues that it is impossible to believe that he could have been completely unaware of Western and Russian culture.Ali Nazim, Introduction, M.A. Sabir, Maqalalar Majmuasi (Baku, 1962), p. 10.

As the fighting in Tabriz continued, Mirza Jalil, too, became caught up in the enthusiasm. In one article, he even castigates the people of Baku for being left behind by... the people of Tabriz:September 1 (14), 1908. This would not be the first time he did this, nor the last. See "Laughing" in the isue of May 19 (June 1), 1907 and "The Progress of Ideas in Iran" translated below. Indeed, in the latter, the Iranian liberals are (grudgingly) given credit for making genuine progress and truly overtaking the Caucasian Muslim liberals.

So, When?

Lately, certain of our writers have reported in certain newspapers that the Russian and Caucasian Muslims are the most advanced and open-eyed Muslims on the face of the earth.

I'm not kidding! I've read this in a number of places.

Looking at it superficially, from a distance, it would seem that what they're writing is true. For example, so many of our youths have graduated from our academies, so many of our girls have gone to our schools, there are our reading rooms, Benevolent Associations, private schools, seminaries, and such. Indeed, seen from afar, we have made such progress that we even have doubts about the miracle of God's Spirit in the BZWTA village's blackberry tree.

But is it true what they write? I mean, is it true that we have advanced relatively further than our other brothers-in-faith?

I'm afraid that we .

Now, leave aside Egypt, the Ottoman Empire, Afghanistan, etc., and let's look at God's own Iran, which we see as having arisen from her sleep.

Let's see now where in the world we are.

Whenever we hear the name Iran mentioned, we are always reminded of the expression, "the sleep of negligence." I.e., we consider the Iranians as sleeping and ourselves as having arisen from our slumbers.

But now, come, let's see what the Iranian are doing and what we are doing.

Have we, after a hundred years, reached the point where we could, for example, shove aside Friday Imams? In which of our cities is the likes of Tabriz's Mir Hashem not to be found? Half of Tabriz was ready to drink Mir Hashem's blood, but we elect our Mir Hashems to the very top of our new Duma.

If we in Iran, Ordubad's White sayyed's sons come to the villages and fool the mute and utterly ignorant villagers with a thousand schemes and stole and made off with everything they had--the Iranians would not allow such lutis to remain among them, but we consider such "master" among us to be the most dear and revered personages.


We have, thank God, Mojtahed Hajji Mirza Hasan Aqas amongst us, but each issue of our newspapers say terrible things about Mojtahed Hajji Mirza Hasan Aqa which our Mojtahed Hajji Mirza Hasan Aqas would never see.

They hurl a thousand curses at Khorasan Majlis representative Aqa Mirza 'Ali Aqa in Tehran and Khorasan.

They hurl ten thousand curses at Khoy's Friday Imam.The Friday Imam of Khoy was a champion of constitutionalism.

They hurl one hundred thousand curses at Shiraz Majlis representatives Hajji Sayyed Ja'far Aqa.

They hurl a thousand thousand curses at Tehran Majlis representatives Sayyed Ebrahim Aqa.A Majlis representative. We have no information about his politics.

These masters over whom we've done this reckoning are among the most revered clerics and sayyeds. A year ago Their Honors were dispensing the keys to paradise to the people of Iran. But now, no one answers their greetings.

How many hundred years will it take for us to reach the point where our eyes are opened enough to distinguish friend from foe?


On the one hand, the Mir Yahya Aqas fasten themselves to the mass of our brothers and such their blood like leaches. On the other hand, say, in the SLYAN ShYLL borough guest house (if you'll pardon me), our white-bearded old men go to the balcony, looking out. Finally, pretty, well-dressed young boys come, one after another, and go to this one or that one.

Well, what shall I say about that. May God respond to my cry.

Another example of this is the following piece:


(Between a Bakui and an Iranian)

Bakui: Well, why do you shut your eyes and fight with your Shah? Isn't he suffering? Don't you rest a single hour from your aggression? What about this infernal engine, this bomb? What about them? Don't you know that this is the Shadow of God? Tell the truth--Is it right to be fighting each other? Hiding and scheming and fighting over what? I rub the dust under his feet over my eyes....


(To be continued.)Signed, Geveze. November 24 (December 7), 1908.

A striking expression of this, as well as Mirza Jalil's aroused enthusiasm for Tabriz's fight is found in the following editorial:

"How the stones weep blood today.

See how a thousand heads are cut today."

Yes, they are beginning to cut heads.To induce a flow of blood and thus share in the suffering of the martyrs of Shi'ism who perished on the plains of Karbala.There is no space in the barber shops. On 'Ashura, two hundred and seventy million heads will be wounded.

But this is all old news. But there is a subject here of which our readers have possibly not heard of. So we consider it necessary to talk about it a bit.

Something strange is happening on the face of the earth. Europe's technical societies are spending large sums to send people who learn about the latest developments in science and technology and then teach them to the people.

And so, science and technology are advancing in Europe. For example, in America, in some city, everyone is busy all day (?). Immediately, every geographical society sends teams of scholars to that city to learn well the secret of how it is that everyone might be busy all day. For example, in Italy, some earthquake erupts. Again, scholars rush there to learn as much as they can about the earthquake.

Our 'Ashura activities are strange and important matters to the Europeans in regard to which volumes of books have been written. In the big Muslim cities of Iran and the Caucasus during Moharram, members of European societies always assemble before-hand and fill their pockets with pen and paper on 'Ashura day, climb up on the walls and write in detail about what they see and hear. They send photographs of what they see.

One of this sort of traveler came to our offices yesterday. This gentleman was a member of a society in Lisbon. He had come to the Caucasus to learn three things:

First, if wounding the head is necessary according to the shari'at, why is it that not a single wounded head is to be seen on a turbaned mullah?

Second, why is it that Muslim "intellectuals" who always spend their time in gambling and drinking parties, fall in behind the daste on 'Ashura and wipe off the blood of their head wounds with handkerchiefs?

Third, why is it that those with head wounds are all little boys, grocers, and predators, and that no educated person is seen amongst them?

We were not able to answer these questions and our guest got up to leave. Just then, an occult voice spoke to him:

"These days, there is a bitter struggle in Iran between justice and tyranny. A great nation's religion, honor, rights, and nationhood is dying. The side of justice will be defeated if it is abandoned. These days, the cries of millions of suffering wretches rises to the heavens. The children, dying and begrudged a sip of water, the women and girls with their guts slashed open--this is not less than a Karbala!"

Today, the field of Karbala is in the nation-nurturing fields of Azerbaijan. Whoever has a speck of feeling for religion, honor and nation in his heart, let it not be forgotten. Whatever our flowing blood, our donations of money, before our eyes is the heart-rending funeral of Azerbaijan.

Today, the greatest act of worship, the very first act of providing for Faith and Country, is to help them, so that both God and His Eminence Hosein might be pleased. Otherwise, going around yelling and screaming in the alleys of Tiflis and Baku and wounding our heads and letting a trickle of blood flow is not good and fitting for the sons of Hosein and the offspring of Rostam.

Today, the field of Karbala is the field of Azerbaijan.January 11 (24), 1909

Meanwhile, as noted above, Saber in found his voice and began singing the praises of Sattar Khan. These were widely reported to have been popular with the constitutionalist fighters. Indeed, Saber's second mentor, 'Abbas Sahhat, said in a eulogy for him on the occasion of his untimely death in 1911, in the idiom of the Francophile fin de siècle intelligentsia (a specimen of which he was), recalling Napoleon Bonaparte's famous declaration to Chateaubriand to the effect that one of his writings had done more than an army, would declare, "I say that Saber Effendi's works, too, have done more than an army during these five years of Iran's constitutionalism.""Sabir," Yeni Irshad, September 5, 1911, cited in H. Arasli (ed.), Sabir Moasirlari Haqqinda (On Saber’s Contemporaries) (Baku, 1962), p. 45.

To [Sattar] Khan

I am enthralled, Reader! Don't say I'm mad.
Don't take this cry of enthusiasm for a fantasy.
I'm a poet. If my feelings are an ocean, my poem is a mere drop.
I'm all aboil with pleasure, joy, glee.
Hurrah for the lofty zeal of [Sattar] Khan.

As long as the National Assembly in Tehran lies in ruins,
The Turks have bound an oath with [Sattar] Khan.
They have declared their hatred of injustice and tyranny.
They sacrifice life and wealth for nation and nationality.
They sacrifice, hurling forth the verse, "The Great Sacrifice."Koran, 37:107. Refering to Ebrahim's obedience to God in sacrificing his son, this verse reads, "We ransomed his son with a noble sacrifice." In the Koranic version, Ebrahim tells his son he is to be sacrificed, and his son offers himself up: "Father, do as you are bidden. God willing, you will find me faithful." This adds a poignance to the version found in the Torah, a poignance supplied by rabbinic speculation.
Hurrah for the lofty zeal of [Sattar] Khan.

May the True One be the succor to the Azerbaijani Turks' struggle.
They "protest" the House of Qajar and its Zahak.The legendary evil king of the Shahname.
May the pure souls of the first martyrs rest in peace.
He who sheds his blood on the soil of Tehran or Tabriz,
Is his home in Paradise or is it not?
Hurrah for the lofty zeal of [Sattar] Khan.

As for [Sattar] Khan, you have done many things.
You're not a vazir or a Shah! You've astonished the whole world.
You've exalted Islam's stature and the country's honor a hundredfold.
You've solidified the nation's respect and character.
You've now made Iran the focus of world attention.
Hurrah for the lofty zeal of [Sattar] Khan.

As for [Sattar] Khan, your has revived Iran.
You have done your Turkish and Iranian duties.
Some training and some skill have been brought to bear in battle.
Some eye of the dynasty'Ain od-Dawle. has been disgraced before the world.
If the moth doesn't flee the flame, it's a moth, after all.
Hurrah for the lofty zeal of [Sattar] Khan.

Hurrah Tabrizis, how true you've been true to your pledge.
Friend and foe applaud you with a hundred salutations.
Live long, happy [Sattar] Khan! Sir! Live long!
From high heaven the Prophet prays for you.
For this has been done to serve all Islam and humanity.
Hurrah for the lofty zeal of [Sattar] Khan.October 20 (November 2), 1908.

In this poem, the name Sattar is left blank in the original and is supplied by the translator, possibly a play on his name (sattar = The Hider, one of the ninety-nine Muslim attributes of God), his name is also not mentioned in the next poem (where he is referred to simply as "the Khan") and possibly something more sinister (as discussed below.) Continuing with Saber's poetic efforts, we read the following poem:


My Shah, my Crowned One
Glory of the Realm, Lofty as Heaven.This line is problematic. The poem is actually told from the perspective of the commander of the seize of Tabriz, 'Ain od-Dawle.
If you'd be so kind as to ask about me
I will tell you my story in this poem.
That day when I steered the bridle from Your Presence,
I sallied forth to Tabriz.
With this mission, to fight like a lion
And back the mojaheds into a corner,
Kill the fedais along with the Khan
And splatter the deserts with their blood.
'Neath my stirrups was a charger who ran like the wind
And unfurled over my head, the golden standard
To the left and right, my commanders
Such commanders, Rostams in battle.
The army like a flood charged forth
The company pouring in from all sides.
Over every shoulder was slung a band of bullets
Revolvers in hand, rifles on their backs.
Blowing the bugle and pipe
A cry rising from the host: "Hurrah!"
Drawing on the cart the cannon
While drums boomed their boasting.
Aye, I was so fortunate
So splendid, so grand, so glorious.
We all sallied forth, great and small together
So that when we'd reach Tabriz, we'd kill many.
We ordered, "Blow the pipe and bugle
And smuggle spies into the city."
I thought no one would shirk this task.
I asked everyone, but no one went.
I got enraged and ordered the army
"Open fire on the city from three sides."
When they opened fire I thought
That the whole world had suddenly burst into flame.
The fedais were in dire straights.
They all died then and there except for nine men.
When Sattar Khan saw how things were
He let loose a lion-like roar of woe:
"Mojaheds! You in whose blood runs zeal!
Consider such a field of combat an opportunity.
Our lives have reached their final hour.
Dear is the price of this final hour.
It is not just that you will perform a service to your nation--
Everything depends on this very hour."
This speech had such an effect on the mojaheds
That they all said at once from the bottom of their hearts:
"What is it to die? We are ready to die!
Though we die, we give thanks for this order!"
Saying this, they left the city
It arose out of their purity.
Such was the mojaheds' movement
One would say that it was the very resurrection day.
They prostrated themselves in sincere prayer
Praying in special earnest.
They stood up and went, some right and some left
And launched a surprise attack against us.
From left and from right they crushed us and beat us
They smashed and crushed and shredded us.
I said, "Woe! What kind of fighting is this?
Even from afar, it takes my breath away!
And is this, then, the Khan?
Is that terrible power the man of the battle-field?
My eyes stared at this sight,
That army from hell, and I was myself slain!
I said, "It would be good to ascend a mountain
And remain there, that my head be spared."
I ran and valiantly scaled the peak.
And looked out from there, both left and right.
What did I see but the flight of the army
You yourselves saw it and were glad!
"Hey!" I insisted, "Oh woe, help, don't flee!"
But you kept on going, not stopping for a minute!
I didn't stop saying to the army,
"Oh, Oh! That's the end of your wealth, Eye!"Refering to the "author's" title, 'Ain od-Dawle (Eye of the Dynasty, or Wealth.)
The army fled, abandoning the filed of combat.
All the guns and cannon went for booty.
When I saw that my position had been ruined,
I took refuge with twenty cossacks.
It was as if the burning of my heart had been doused with water
And then I left that place and I, too, fled.
This, then, is my story.
This is my war against the mojaheds!
Might and Glory One, what do you now command?
Command, I stand ready, what's my head, what's my life?
Although I have exhausted my horse by fleeing,
I will not turn from whatever you command.January 4 (17), 1909

The coy and gingerly way Mirza Jalil first approached the issue of Sattar Khan and his uprising and the peculiar absence of his name in Saber's first ode to him might be an indication that the magazine had been coming under pressure, e.g., from the Tsarist administration not to mention the fighting in Tabriz and Sattar Khan's role in it. Molla Nasr od-Din often carried empty frames in its pages with the explanation that it would have been to dangerous to have tried to print the cartoon scheduled for publication in that space, or simply that permission had not been granted to print that picture..

Indeed, one possible reason for Mirza Jalil's reticence regarding Sattar Khan was that his brother, Mirza 'Ali Akbar, seems to have played a role in providing material assistance to the constitutionalist cause. The exact nature of his activities remains obscure. In her memoirs of her husband Mirza Jalil, Hamide Khanum assigns Mirza 'Ali Akbar an unspecified "leading role" in the fighting in Tabriz, adding that he spent some six years of his life in prison for these activities.Mammadqolizade, Hamide, Mirze Jalil Haqqinda Khatiralerim (transl., Zamanof, 'Abbas) (1981, Baku), pp. 9, 34. His first arrest was around April 1910,Ibid., p. 41. evidently in Tabriz by the Russian forces which were occupying the city. On his return to Tabriz [in 1917], he "had, as a comrade-in-arms of Sattar Khan, many friends in the city."Ibid., p. 85. Soviet Azeri scholarship has made a great deal of this single phrase. Thus, in Mohammad Sa'id Ordubadi's historical fiction, Dumanli Tabriz, he has Mirza Jalil's brother leading the street-fighting against the central government's armies. (pp. 226-8 of the Persian translation by Sa'id Moniri, Tabriz-e Me-Alud). That Iranian authors, who have no hesitation mentioning the role of revolutionaries from the Caucasus, simply do not mention the alleged role of such a distinguished personage as the brother of the editor of Molla Nasr od-Din puts a rather large question mark over this view. Indeed, when Kasravi does get around to mentioning him (p. 693, Tarikh-e Hejde Saleye Azarbayjan ) it is as an incidental but rather shady character in a sordid tale of murder and intrigue. during the period of the Second Majlis. Even Hamide Khanum's memoirs, when read carefully, reveal that Mirza 'Ali Akbar had friends in high places occupying many different points of the political spectrum, including the Constitution's enemies. It seems likely that he was caught up in the sweep of Russian subjects made when the Tsar's troops occupied Tabriz in 1909, regardless of any role he played in Iran's struggle for a cosntitution. However, Sattar Khan's name is regularly mentioned explicitly later, including the raising of funds for him.

Another explanation for Mirza Jalil's hesitations over Sattar Khan--and this would not be the last of them--might be sought in trying to understand how he must have seen him. Here is what Sattar Khan's admirer and biographer, said of him:

We know that the late graced Sattar Khan... had never set foot in a school and studied, so he didn't know aleph from bet, and knew nothing of the benefits of constitutionalism, for he was illiterate and so could not read books and newspapers....Esma'il Amirkhizi, Qiyam-e Azarbayjan va Sattar Khan (Tehran, n.d.), p. 24.

After running afoul of the law, he spent time in prison and, after breaking out of prison, lived the life of an outlaw within, our biographer assures us, a certain code of chivalry towards the poor. In any case,

Some of the mojaheds and liberals who were not privy to [Sattar Khan's] private motivations greeted his declarations of devotion to the constitutionalist cause with skepticism, until the sad events of January 16, 1908 [?] arose and all doubts and skepticism evaporated, for Sattar Khan fought shoulder to shoulder with the mojaheds in this battle.Ibid., p. 26.

Such a person would have had little appeal to someone who had taken upon himself the task of breaking the tradition of dash mashti values among his people as part of his civilizing mission.

Molla Nasr od-Din's coverage of relief efforts taken by the Muslims of the Caucasus for Tabriz remained mixed reviews:

Telegrammed News

Tabriz: On behalf of His Honor the Learned and Perspicacious Prince Mirza Reza Khan'sArfa' od-Dawle, a habitué of royalist circles in Tsarist Russia. Despised by the more militant constitutionalists, he was a connservative reformer. aid will be given to the heaven-smitten of Tabriz, composed of 3000 rubles. It has not yet arrived. According to reports, this was either prevented by Mohtemal ot-Tojjar or, according to Mr. Dastmalchi's information, the ambassador's aid was paper money and Hajji Sheikh 'Ali read a prayer over it but in passing over the Black Sea, it absorbed moisture, since the Russians in Batum Customs would n ot rub dirt over it, they sent it back to renew the agreement. (?)November 17 (30), 1908

Another curious piece immediately followed the above one:

Istambul: The Iranians here gathered at Valede Khani and wanted to build a stature to Azerbaijan's Sardar [Sattar Khan].

But after a quarrel broke out between the Azerbaijani Turks and the Persians, work on the statue came to a halt. For the Azerbaijanis wanted to build it out of stone, the Persians, out of silver, and His Highness the Ambassador [Mirza Reza Khan], out of gold.

On the other hand, the magazine reports:

Baku: The Iranian population here will gather from the first of Moharram to the eleventh in the Benevolent Society to do something about aiding Azerbaijan. It was argued that on this year, the Moharram Ehsan be dissolved and the money sent to disaster-smitten Azerbaijan."Telegram News," January 18 (31), 1909.

and, in truer form,

Petersburg: Because of Azerbaijan's terrible condition, all the Iranians in Azerbaijan this year are dissolving the Imam's Kheirat with the intention of sending the money to Azerbaijan. If this news is true, this ehsan money would amount to millions more than any loan that the Shah had been granted or ever will be granted, so that the Shah would not be able to do a damn thing from now on.

Jolfa: On behalf of Eqbal os-Saltane,Tribal cavalry commander of Maku who terrorized Azerbaijan on behalf of Mohammad 'Ali Mirza. Played a leading role in the seige of Tabriz. five hundred brave troops lie in wait to seize the ehsan money to be sent to Sattar Khan, which amounts to several millions."Telegram News," January 23 (February 5, 1909).


Baku: On Naw Ruz, no one bought any sweets. The money for sweets was all gathered and sent to Azerbaijan to the unfortunate people suffering hunger in the villages."Telegram News," March 15 (28), 1909


Money Pickles

The Iranians living in Ekaterina have gathered four hundred and sixty rubles from among themselves and have found two mashhadis and one candidate mashhadi so that these worthies might send the money to the starving in Tabriz.

Indeed, the mashhadis were to send the money to Tabriz, but they were worried that the money would rot and become useless. And so the mashhadis pickled the four hundred and sixty rubles so that they not go bad. Whoever does not believe this, it is sworn by Mullah Shokur Akhund's being a doctor so that he could put his hands on the breasts of women who were not mahram to him that what I'm writing is not a bit false.April 19 (22), 1909.

Finally, it should be said that the old spirit of skepticism crops up once in a while:

Political Issue

Sattar Khan defeated the Shah's army, pushing it back bay by day. This has nothing to do with us. Soon, he'll be king of all Azerbaijan. This, too, has nothing to do with us. He so easily defeated Shoja'-e Nezam, 'Ain od-Dawle, 'Ezzatollah Khan,Leading figure in Maku; played an incidental role in the seige of Tabriz. etc.

But there is an issue here.

Let's grant that Sattar Khan take all of Azerbaijan and became king. Now, come, let's see how he defeats the bands of qoldars of the Sayyeds by the Aji River and impose law on the two-legged wild beast Kurds.

This is the issue.Signed Mashhadi. November 24, (December 7), 1908.


The Truth

I want to speak a little with our esteemed readers. Whoever wants to listen to what I have to say should first read the telegram in Taraqqi #132, second page, third column while I busy myself drinking a cup of tea, and then we will come and talk.


Well, that telegram says:

Tehran: Majd od-Dawle set up a demonstration in the mosque with Sheikh Fazlollah and his anti-constitutionalist cohorts. Anti-constitutionalist telegrams from mojtaheds in the provinces were read. The constitutionalists were declared infidels. The mojtaheds petitioned the Shah not to grant a constitution.This refers to a rally organized by the anti-constitution ultras who protested when the Shah attempted to end the fighting by offering a reconstituted Majlis.

That's what the telegram said.


I ask two things of our readers:

First, let no one doubt this report is true. Leave aside Sheikh Fazlollah and Hajji Mirza Hasan. The mojtaheds who consider constitutionalism a violation of the shari'at are increasing bit by bit every day.

Second, I ask our readers that everyone who reads this report and understands it should think.

Think, think, think!!! God gave humanity intellect so that they could think. Think, think!


If one day the news arrived that--God forbid--the entire population of Iran had gone mad, I would not be the least surprised. This is because one day, a telegram arrives from the mojtaheds of Karbala or Najaf the Noble saying that the constitution is in accord with the shari'at and another day, a telegram arrives from all the mojtaheds of Iran saying that the constitution is in violation of the shari'at. One says one thing, the other says the other. Who am I to believe? By God, it could drive people crazy. This one's a mojtahed and that one's a mojtahed. Which one should I believe? One day one says the constitution is a good thing and I become a constitutionalist. The next morning, the other says the constitution is a satanic thing, and I become an absolutist. So what should I do? By God, all I can do is go nuts.


We write, what do the Iranians know about what the constitution is? The mass of people are scatter-brained, as if they'd left their brains with the mojtaheds .

The truth is that exalted God gave the Muslims intellect, but then gave the intellect over to preoccupations (?).

We wrote that the Iranian, if he knows what constitutionalism was, would have left aside the mojtaheds' bickering and become either a constitutionalist or an absolutist on his own. But if I don't know what is called constitutionalism, well, what's the solution?


In ancient Greece, they believed that in the island of Sijilia, there are one-eyed people. For a thousand years, the common people continued to believe this, and if some open-eyed, thinking people wanted to convince the people that the people of Sijilia were two-eyed people, like the people of Greece, they would not listen.

Five or six hundred years before Jesus emerged from his mother, the Greeks gradually began to travel back and forth to Asia and then Italy. Finally, the Greeks came upon the island of Sijilia.

Well! They saw that the people there were two-eyed people just like themselves.


Now for Iran and the question of the constitution. What does the Iranian know about what a constitution is? And the same with Mohammad 'Ali Shah himself (?). When he sees mojtaheds and the kings of Europe demand that he ratify the constitution, Mohammad 'Ali Shah would answer that the mojtaheds would not allow it, for they have found the constitution to violate the shari'at.


There is only one truth in the world. And that truth includes the Iranian, including the mojtaheds. (?)

Whoever would put his finger to his lip and think will realize this. Whoever will not, will never, never, never. realize this.Signed Molla Nasr od-Din. December 28, 1908 (January 10, 1909).

This spirit, in tones of both mockery and genuine despair, is revived as the siege of Tabriz draws to an end. This is reflected in a poem by Saber:

The Future is Ours

Eat, my dear, then set it aside and go. Don't inhale too much the fragrance of freedom.
On our kettle, never use the ladle of freedom.

Where are those who said, "The night of tyranny has fled?"
Do you not see you are besieged all around by the forces of tyranny?
Today, Iran is completely overwhelmed by a sea of tyranny.
Alas! The filth of tyranny. has covered the world with blood.
And now Tabriz is subject to the ravenous appetite of tyranny.
Eat, my dear, then set it aside and go. Don't inhale too much the fragrance of freedom.
On our kettle, never use the ladle of freedom.

Say not, "The blade of courage can make the eye astonished stare."
Say rather, "The takfir is sharper than the tongue anywhere."
You should say, "Consider the infidel a Muslim and ."
Today, whoever speaks the truth is considered an infidel.
It's a fine age, a shortage of sense, reason, and conscience.
Eat, my dear, then set it aside and go. Don't inhale too much the fragrance of freedom.
On our kettle, never use the ladle of freedom.

The mojahed gets up and you call him the glory of the realm of Iran.
Did you not submit to being the servants of your Glorious Shah?
Did this satisfy your noble zeal and honor?
This road was a splendid slaughterhouse for your fairness and faith.
What a time of faith it was. .
Eat, my dear, then set it aside and go. Don't inhale too much the fragrance of freedom.
On our kettle, never use the ladle of freedom.

Say, "The deserts of Iran will truly be a plain of fire."
But on that fiery plain is standing one roaring lion.No doubt, Sattar Khan.
But with one trickster, fox-like, he stands confounded.Or: "But a thousand tricksters, fox-like, arise from every side."
The Iranians are sleeping and suddenly see the country lies in ruins.
Now let them say the mojahed is not a Muslim.
Eat, my dear, then set it aside and go. Don't inhale too much the fragrance of freedom.
On our kettle, never use the ladle of freedom.March 15 (28), 1909.

I believe that this poem was written in response to a rise in the optimism of the Iranian constitutionalists induced by the seizure of Esfahan by Bakhtiar tribesmen under the command of their constitutionalist chiefs in early January and the bloody coup against the anti-constitutionalists in Rasht of early February. In this case, Saber is falling back on his role assumed in, for example his exchange with Taze Hayat and Azarbayjan. Confirming this hypothesis is the vocabulary he uses; in these terms, this poem is reminiscent of his February 1907 lullaby of freedom poem. He cites as the source of Iran's troubles something which cannot be fought with guns and bullets or faced down with military courage, but the heart of Iranian culture, above all its deeply-rooted religious values.

This pessimism is expressed in clearer form in the following article:


Tattered cloth is surely worthless: If you patch it on one side, it will fall apart on the other.

Today, I see that the orphaned Iranians run to the consulate to congratulate the Consul because a constitution has once more been declared by Mohammad 'Ali Shah.

Yesterday, I saw that the foreign Ottomans were running to the consulate to congratulate the Consul because the Sultan had just been dethroned.

Seeing this, I remembered how one day, Ja'far's pants were torn: The poor boy's motherA stock character in Molla Nasr od-Din, representing an uneducated, illiterate Muslim woman. had just patched the boy's pants that day when they were torn in another place in the morning, for the cloth was simply coming apart.


Let us digress.

In the 15th issue of the honorable newspaper Tarjoman I read,

In Bokhara the Noble, there is a hospital--the doctors are Russian. There is a post office--its employees are Russian. There is a telegraph post--the operators are Russian. There is a railroad--the conductors are Russian. There are police--the nachalniks are Russian. All the while the government of Bokhara does not consider it necessary to give some hundreds of thousands of rubles of assistance to the Russian gymnasiums so that three or five might be sent to the Russian school to study. (?)

I ask my readers to not take these words lightly, for in Bokhara, there is a kind of pants.


All I want to know is, is it easy for a constitution to be started in a Muslim country or not?

I hold that none of our readers can answer this question. This is because our Muslims who do not know how to read a Russian book neither know nor have heard even yet what a constitution means. No such book has been written either in Persian or in Turkish. Some of the Muslim newspapers have written a little about this or that subject, but this has been mostly forgotten. Something has also been written in Arabic.

We've strayed from the subject.

What I want to know is, is it easy for a constitution to be started in a Muslim country or not? If everyone were to answer me that, "No, it will not be started," I would lay my pen down and stop.

But if you were to say, "Yeah," I would light a cigarette and continue speaking.


It is said that the constitution is something which originated in England several hundred years ago and spread to the countries of Europe, fell among us Muslims and those who kept saying that everything done in Europe is good said that a constitution is good nd we want to possess one, too. But we forget that the constitution is not any damned thingLit.: snake venom. which can be patched on: those who accept it must take off the decrepit pants and throw them out once and for all.


In all the world, constitution means one thing: It means that in a country, the people should gather their representatives in one place, fashion new laws, and the people, for their part, should agree not to kick these laws aside.

I ask the readers to examine two words carefully: New law. Of course, the new laws passed by the representatives must be new. And it is obvious that the new laws must take the place of the old laws.

This is not a joke. One must think a lot about this.


Whatever fair-minded person finds this matter difficult must be satisfied and certain that calling for a constitution is one of those things which makes trouble for the people. This is because some day, if the people's representatives want to gather and pass a law saying, for instance, "From now one, sister and brother must inherit wealth equally, and not the sister getting one part for the brother's two parts."

So I ask the constitutionalists, "If the people's representatives pass such a law, are they permitted? If not, then it is not a constitution. If so, why should Tehran's Sheikh Fazlollah and Istambul's Ettehad-e Mohamadi Party be upset?


According to the principles of constitution, the country's administrators are to supervise everything. One day, it is possible that the people;s representatives might write the following law: "If a twelve-year-old girl puts a book under her arm and goes to school bareheaded and a mashhadi says to her, 'Cover your head, slut,' that man must be punished, for in a free country, no one should say such a thing to a passer-by."

So I once more ask our constitutional experts, "If the people's representatives make such a law, do they have the right or not? If not, then it is not a constitution. If yes, then what claim do Hajji Mirza JavadThe father of the current Mojtahed of Tabriz was named Hajji Mirza Javad, but he did not survive into this period.and constitutionalism's turbaned enemies have on us?


Well, aside from that, the issue of "freedom of religion" will be raised. How will we answer Europe on that score?

There are still too many parasites. Which one....?


In short, let's keep from running on and on.

I heard today that Mohammad 'Ali Shah has confirmed the constitution for the nineteenth time. I heard yesterday that Sheikh [sic] 'Abdol-Hamid has been dethroned. Perhaps tomorrow morning, the Amir of Bokhara will adopt a constitutionalist policy.

But all this looks to me something like a pair of pants.

I am afraid that no matter how much one side is patched up, the other side will tear.

God forbid.

Molla Nasr od-Din (4): The Restoration of the Constitution

The restoration of the constitution in July 1909 was greeted with some skepticism. Even so, Sardar-e As'ad, the leader of the Bakhtiari tribesmen who took Tehran, and Sepahsalar, the "leader" of the forces which converged on Tehran from the north, were lionized as heroes. At the same time, Sattar Khan's name virtually disappears from the pages of the magazine. The fact that Molla Nasr od-Din made a hero of a tribal chief (Sardar-e As'ad) and a major land owner and former general in the monarchist cause (Sepahsalar) while the plebeian figure of Sattar Khan is nearly forgotten is worth pondering (although it should be said that the figure of the anonymous Tabrizi mojahed makes its appearance in the pages of the magazine, reflecting a continued sympathy for him.)

The following is a list of their appearance in the pages of Molla Nasr od-Din:

In one curious poem, Saber has Mohammad 'Ali Mirza, the now-deposed shah, declare, after several lines of typical rajazkhani (a form of literary braggadoccio), reeking of irony,


If I wanted the city of Tehran/ I could have demolished it in two attacks.
Whether Tabriz or Salmas or Khoi or Ardebil/ Or Ormia or Marand or then again Sabzevar
Whether Qazvin or Rasht or Anzali or Esfahan/Whether Shiraz or Qom or Khuzestan:
Not BaqerAfter Sattar Khan, the most famous military constitutionalist military commander of Tabriz. or Sattar; who are they?/Not Sardar-e As'ad nor the Bakhtiaris.The question arises whether or not this line is to be understood as the conclusion of the ex-Shah's boasting or the beginning of his honest grieving.
But I myself fear something truly/ My heart won't stand but shakes like a willow.
I occupied Tabriz with the wave of a hand. With locusts, (?) , and donkeys on the ground.
Now were my calculations completely/Ensnared in the coils of disaster.
"What happened?" you will say./ There remains in my heart boundless sorrow.
My God, if these difficulties had been overcome/ I would then be so victorious.
That Tabriz, that Tabriz, lying in ruins/ Has left in a brand on my breast.
That blood-enemy, source of trouble/That guide to the Ottoman Turks [!]
That mill of the Caucasian infidels/That assembly of Babi liberals.
It left me abased throughout the world./It puts me in a pitiful state.
That constitutionalist Anjoman, Anjoman/To be a member of it was to be idle.
Azerbaijan struck my soul with fire/
That day, I learned a new word./I pricked up my ears like a donkey.
Fear seized my limbs/ It has cut me on all sides many times.
A mighty army came before me and struck me./Fedais and mojaheds, great and small.
They were all of one heart and of one mind./To sacrifice their lives for this cause, one and all.
They all at once swore an oath to me:/That they would depose me from the throne.
This so smote my breast with confusion/That the fires in my soul burst into flame.
If it were possible for this day not to have dawned,/I would have turned around and fled.
Being a Shah like this is real nice./ If I be in a place fare away.
I didn't know what would finally happen./This people had set a fire in my grave.
Oh, he brother mine, Kerbalali 'Abdol-Hamid!/You fellow-sufferer in this world of my woe;
The same pain that afflicts you now afflicts me/I have left the haram, lacking resolve....July 5 (18), 1909.

A crucial difficulty this poem presents is whether the line referring to Sattar Khan and Baqer Khan and the two liberators of Tehran mark the end of the deposed Shah's boastfulness or the beginning of his honest grieving. But since their names are mentioned in apposition to the next line, expressing his true fear, I believe that it should be understood in both ways: clearly it is ridiculous for the Shah to despise the people who defeated him. On the other hand, they are mentioned in the context of the next line, which expresses the Shah's real source of grief.

In another poem, Saber has an anonymous reactionary say,

Look at that Sepahdar the Iranians have!!
Look at that high-ranking Bakhtiari Sardar
See how they (God be with you!) treated the Shah.
So those are the Iranians' grandees and pillars.
Indeed, bad is the blood of the Iranians.July 19 (August 1), 1909.

There is no mention of the Tabriz fighters.

In a later poem, he has the Shah declare:

If I'd understood what As'ad was thinking and what Sepahdar was up to,
Would I not have killed them with a life-seeking blade?In the Mode of Fozuli," September 13 (26), 1909. A line also refers to Taqizade:
Ah, that moment when Taqizade did not give me his hand,
Was it not possible to have separated his head from his body?

A few other, more casual references to the two Liberators of Tehran appear; one of them is produced below. Sattar Khan's name is mentioned twice the rest of the year, each time in passing.One, in the poem by Dabani Chatdakh Khala translated below. The last time in a poem by Saber published in the December 20, 1909 (January 2, 1910) issue, where he stands in for, of all things, the new Majlis:

This Ottoman's Majli/This Iranian Assembly

Constitution, Liberty and all that./Anvar and Sattar Khan.

The fact that Sepahdar is made to stand in for the constitutionalist revolutionaries of Rasht is striking from another perspective. It was well-known even to contemporary observers "that Sepahdar in reality played a very subordinate and by no means eager part in the Rasht revolution, and was mainly used by the bolder and more energetic spirits as a figure-head."Browne, p. 437. It is even more striking that the one time "the moving spirits of the Rasht rising" (Browne) were mentioned, it is in the course of ridiculing Iranian rhetoric about mojaheds:

Some years ago, words would be introduced and translated one by one. We would be confounded: What is "homeland," what does it mean to be devoted to it? We never could make sense of it: Someone would write about it in a newspaper, someone would slander him, someone would praise him. It was never known why this one would slander and the other praise. And so someone would label himself, saying, I am a devotee to the homeland." One of them was 'Abbas Aqa, who killed the Prime MinisterPrime Minister Atabak. and then killed himself.And was listed as a true hero by Mirza Jalil; his portrait, among others, adorned a wall calendar printed and distributed by him. He said, "I am a devotee to the homeland."Actually, he never got much of a chance to say this. A message to this effect was found in his pockets after his suicide. Someone would sling a mauser and loot and say, "I am a devotee of the homeland." Someone would steal the people's money and say, "I am a devotee of the homeland." Some of them, like our Mo'ezzSpelled maghz (brain), the difference in spelling being a possibly accidently dot over the 'ayen. os-Soltan and his brothers, after looting Qazvin and Tehran of two million rubles in cash and valuables in ten months, say God gave it to them, and, "I am a devotee of the homeland."We have no record of this event, but it is not inconceivable that something like this occurred. The Georgian fighters led by Mo'ezz os-Soltan were needed to keep themselves supplied, and were not bashful about resorting to summary acts of violence to achieve their political ends. See Nazem ol-Eslam Kerman, Tarikh-e Bidariye Iranian, II:312-314. Sayyed Hasan Taqizade in his memoirs makes this observation:

There is no doubt that we did extremist things. At first, they [sic] siad, 'Since the government needs money, let's imprision the big-stots who have taken the people's money and get money from them. Some of this was done. This might have reached a million....

The mojaheds, too, would take money from one or another of the people.

(Zendegiye Tufani, p. 135.) Another is our crippled marsiyekhan, Afsah ol-Motakallemin, who received thirty tumans in one month and wrote in praise of Mirza Karim KhanBrother of and second to Mo'ezz os-Soltan in the Rasht rising. and slandered his enemies and said, "I am a devotee of the homeland." Another is like our Rasht Anjoman representatives who, night and day, so secretly plot the people's affairs in meetings that the devil does not find out, and says, "I am a devotee of the homeland." Another holds up Sharq in the post office and censors it, saying, "I am a devotee of the homeland."Sharq was a daily written by Sayyed Zia od-Din Tabatabai, as zealous a constitutionalist as his father, the notorious Sayyed 'Ali Yazdi, was an absolutist. It began publishing on September 30, 1909. It was outspokenly nationalistic and rather sensationalistically modernist and anti-clerical, on the model of its immediate predecessor, Iran-e Naw. It was repeatedly closed down by the government, for the first time on November 21, 1909, for insulting members of the government, and it is doubtless this event to which the author is refering.

Uncle Mullah, I very much hope that you will write that these are all devotees of the homeland, so that we, too, can obey them.November 22 (December 5), 1909. Titled "Mojahed," signed Mojahedqoli.

The city of Tabriz itself comes in for some caustic satire, rather jarring given that the struggle of its constitutionalist fighters had just been the focus of such praise:


Tabriz, such a Tabriz. No city like it is to be found in Nakhchevan. Such broad streets, as soon as I entered, our coach takes off like a bullet. Whenever a coach driver rests his horses, he screams, "Look at the horse, he has sunken into the muck." and strikes the coach once. I think that an automobile is approaching, or a (?) ; no, one looks again and sees one was foolish (?). The fine sound of about a hundred flies came to greet Your Servant. From all four directions, like a flock of crows, Muslim children come, saying, "Sir, we're hungry, give us money for bread," and scream. In short, I drove them away, again, the coach leaps forward and the scent of garbage pleases the soul.

God willing, I will present more things about Tabriz's beautiful works to your presence, that Your Honor might be favored by it.


DardmandI.e., The Sufferer. August 9 (22), 1909. An anonymous "Letter from Tabriz" appearing in the issue of November 1 (14), 1909, is similar in attitude.

Towards the end of the year 1909, Tabriz receives a visit from Mozalan Bey, whose travelog is written in the style of the Iranian liberal classic, Zein ol-'Abedin Maraghei's Travelog of Ebrahim Bey. His treatment of the city and its recent heroic history throws into clear relief the above theme:

I headed for Jolfa on the seventeenth of Shavval. I looked at the taqvim and stayed in Jolfa for fifteen days, since the hour was not propitious. On the seventh month in the twenty seventh day (?), I crossed the Aras for Iran. I took a coach. I traveled with four other passengers. We stayed the night in Marand.This might be in retribution for the soft treatment Marand received in the original Sayyahatname being the hometown of its author. We saw Shoja'-e Nezam's mansion. Marand is an example of the ruin and uncleanliness of Iran's cities. I thought that its inhabitants were blind, but I was in some doubt about their work. (?) On the twenty eighth of the month, we entered Tabriz. On the Aji Bridge, we watched (?) Qizilan Field. In the morning, the porters carried our things, since no coach was to be found. The porter and I reached a dark crossroads. We went to a caravansarai and he knocked on the door. The doorman came and gave me a room. It was no more than four parched walls. I was compelled to sleep there. I set my blankets on the ground and laid down a pillow and stretched out a quilt. In the morning, I strolled through the Tabriz Crossroads [Charsu] Bazar. This city was not like a city of the times. The Crossroads Bazar covered everything. The people of Tabriz were sad in broad daylight. This is because the radiance of freedom has blinded their eyes.

The Crossroads Bazar was filled with beggars. I would bring five qrans of change and it would be gone in an hour. But many of the beggars were women. A Ganjavi told me, "May God mete justice to Hajji Mullah Ja'far 'Arabi Khaje. I believe he's a good man. He is our neighbor. He has so far married forty girls in fifty-three places (?) Three or four months later, he divorces them. He then sends the poor things to the bazar to beg. There are seven thousand marsiyekhans in this city. Each one has at least fifty one (?) wives and divorces them. See how many beggars there are?"

I said, "So how many girls have you married?"

"They never give me any girls."


"Because they only give girls here to marsiyekhans, mullahs, and sayyeds, since they are aqas."

In short, there are many amazing things going on here. I will write them, since I am afraid of no one. This is not Ganje, where they talk about me. This is Tabriz. Who am I to anyone? When something strange happens to me, I'll report it the next week.December 6 (19), 1909. Signed, Mashdi Mozalan Beg.

The next week, "Mashdi Mozalan Beg" writes:

One day in Tabriz, I wandered through an alley and saw a bareheaded, barefooted man wandering around chanting. he was followed by many schoolboys who screamed out whatever words he recited:

I saw a barricade on the mountain/I aimed at it and fired.
"Thus it was I destroyed absolutism/My friend awoke laughing.
His eyes filled with tears./Ay, son, ay dear.
You would say I have eyes.(?)/My friend's laughter said what I had to say.
My friend's laughter was my desire.
Oh, mercy! My eyes have opened. Oh, hurray, you who have given me freedom. I want the constitution. I will eat halva. I will fly to the sky."
[I said,] "Dear brother, you say, then, 'My eyes have opened?' If your eyes are open, why don't you see those new agents of Ma'deli?Ahmad Shafai claims that Ma'deli is to be understood as man deli = "I'm crazy." ( Hup Hup Name (Baku, 1977), p. 161.)
"If they have given you freedom, then why have they condemned Sayyed Hosein Khan to 26 months in prison? You say that you have thus destroyed absolutism. If that's the case, what is Sayyed[-e] Mohaqqeq[in] up to?Sayyed Mohaqqeqin Diba, a wealthy pillar of Tabriz society. Elected to the second Tabriz anjoman after the defection of its anti-constitutionalist elements to the Eslamiye. Close to Seqat ol-Eslam. (Fathi, various places). Became a leader of the second Anjoman. Allied with Sheikh Mohammad Khiabani during his uprising, becoming a leading figure in it. (p. 863, Kasravi, Tarikh-e Hijde Saleye Azarbayjan; pp. 213-218, 313-318, Mokhber os-Saltane, Khaterat va Khatarat) A letter of October 9, 1911 to Taqizade from an Armenian comrade, Pelusyan, characterizes him as follows: He "is a mojtahed, endowed with all the bad qualities of a mullah." (p. 286, Iraj Afshar, Avraq-e Tazeyab: Mashrutiyat va Naqsh-e Taqizade.) What is Mirza Hosein the school principal doing? What is Mir QalichIt is unclear who this is; probably not the comical figure Aqa Qalich (Mr. Sword) Kasravi described in his History. He came in for steady ridicule in previous issues of Molla Nasr od-Din. after?"
"I've taken Qazvin and Tehran/ I have cast the thieves into the wilderness."
"If he is lying, may God burn down his house. If he has cast the thieves into the wilderness, don't you see the ruining, conniving, screaming, and yelling aqas? For example, the apprentice judge Moshir os-Sadat,One of a dozen new members of the Anjoman who were elected to replace renegades from the constitutionalist movement. (p. 816, Kasravi, p. 497, Fathi) Nazem od-Dawle,Nazem od-Dawle Diba. Evidently a man of considerable wealth--he is described by Kasravi as having saved many from hunger during the Russian occupation of Tabriz. (p. 301-302, Tarikh-e Hejde Saleye Azarbayjan) Later, a leader in Sheikh Khiabani's uprising. (pp. 315-319, Mokhber os-Saltane, Khaterat va Khatarat.) His Honor KDHSYNY,, Sayf ol-'Olema,A member of the second Tabriz Anjoman. (Kasravi, Tarikh-e Hejde Saleye Azarbayjan, p. 250). Fakhr ot-Tojjar,An obscure figure, the object of a barb or two launched by Molla Nasr od-Din's Tabriz correspondent. Said in one such to be a British subject. Hajji Mohammad 'Ali Chaichi (?), this aqa, that aqa, this devil, that trouble-maker."
Master Sheikh said,
"I have passed over mountains, I've shed blood.
I have burned thus the traitors.
I have torn up Absolutism's field."
I came, I saw, [?] I slept.
My mouth [?] sinking into the muck.
After that, I saw there was contention between our governor and our commander over (?) whom to pass. (?)

After a while, he said in Persian,

"If you had eyes, you would see what Sayyed[-e] Mohaqqeq[in] was nicking, what Seyf os-SadatA man of Devechi, a leader of the constitution's enemies." Kasravi, Tarikh-e Hejde Saleye Azarbayjan, p. 364, note 1. was cooking, what Mirza Hosein was tricking, and whom Mohammad 'Ali was fixing. So what was all this gunplay, canoneering, horsemanship, and crop-burning for?


After watching this uproar for a while, I went up to my comrade from Ganje and related this event to him. He said, "It was that crazing MMYSh."

I said, "Who is Sayyed[-e] Mohaqqeq[in]?"

"He has studied every discipline."

"What discipline?"

"Whatever you'd care to mention."

"For example, medicine or law?"

The Ganjevi replied, "Law is forbidden in Iran."

"Then you are no guide. Good bye."December 13 (26), 1909.

Iranian culture is seen as flawed to its very essence, and so a change in the of form of government does not excite Mirza Jalil as much as it did others. This is clear from an editorial written on the verge of the restoration of the constitution, as well as other articles we produce below.

One Cannot Hold Two Melons in One Hand

One of the things written in a volume of the one Iranian whose hope was Iran's progress, from the beginning of his life to the end, the renown wise man, Prince Mirza Malkom Khan, it says,

If we ruin Azerbaijan, the Russians will be forced to take that realm out of our hands in whatever shape it is in. If the government of Iran allows all those gifts of Gilan and Mazandaran to go unused, as they are now, it will be beyond the power of the Russian government to neglect utilizing those provinces.

Some years after those words were written, the late graced Mozaffar od-Din Shah began his journal along the new Jolfa Highway to Europe and, after he returned to Tehran, he ordered that his travelog be printed and distributed. On each page of his travelog, he would write:

Yes, in such-and-such a day and such-and-such an hour, we entered such-and-such a city. Mashallah, it was a beautiful city. Yes, as soon as we got out, the rawzekhan recited a good marsiye in a beautiful voice. We wept somewhat and won merit. Then, after some rest, we set off and toured the city.


The late graced and God-forgiven Shah didn't think about losing Azerbaijan and Gilan even nice. Had the thought occurred to him, he would have asked his chauffeur in Germany or France, "What can I do so that our neighbors not tear the country apart?" At that point, that Godsend of a chauffeur would have answered, "Establish law in the country. Free women from imprisonment, let the girls learn how to read, and repair the road so that they can be used for trade, because it is impossible for a donkey to carry bread from Tabriz to Tehran."

No, for the late graced Shah, these were not considered important matters. All he thought about was, if on the road he cried a little for the Imam, pretty girls and boys would be prepared for him in the Afterlife.

Under such circumstances, two things could not be seen at the same time: One, sitting with a marsiyekhan from dawn to dusk and then leaving; [the other,] keeping political affairs in mind. For one cannot hold two melons in one hand.


Now we come to the Iranians. Who are they? They are Mozeffar od-Din Shah's legitimate sons. After you turn over those fifteen people who have studied Frankish learning, no matter what sort of people they appear to be, they are all worshipping and earnestly praying Muslims who, as soon as they get up in the morning, cock an ear to hear where the monajats are coming from. In no other Muslim country is there a city in which a great crowd of people fill the bazar from all sides so that from one end of the bazar to the other, it is impossible to budge. If you were to ask what all this commotion is about, you would be told, "Hajji Esma'il is reciting the marsiye."


Well, despite all this, some say that it is impossible to take over Iran. They declare that it is impossible to conquer Iran. They declare that if such a thing should occur, they, the sons of Iran, ready to sacrifice for their country's sake, would give the country which attacked their country such a headache that in the end, it would regret what it had done, just like Finland, Poland, Alsace, Thuringia, etc.

Yes, it will leave the Iranians alone, like the French, the Polish, and the Finns, and go. I will bring three French laborers from Alsace and put their courage on a scale, and it will outweigh that of all of Iran. I will take three women from Poland who could answer for all of Iran. I will take three porters from Finland to Gilan and they could be professors in Rasht and Anzali.

In short, people are alike all over the world. They consider themselves human [adam] and we, too, consider them human.

But the difference for us is that we [sic] are people of worship.

But in accordance with the exigencies of the times, the worldly must lighten up on their worship a little. One who worships night and day must not love the world.

Otherwise, one (?).

The Calcutta Habl ol-Matin writes the following about Azerbaijan in its latest issue:

The starting point must be to take up the pick (?).June 28 (July 11), 1909.

The woman question comes to the fore in another expression of pessimism regarding Iranian constitutionalism. It concerns the celebrated case, of the closure of the Azeri magazine Sohbat, published in Tabriz by Mirza Sayyed Hasan, a pioneer of Iranian journalism.Its editor seems to have been particularly favored by Mirza Jalil; he was the copublisher of 'Adalat, one of the few Iranian newspapers to have received favorable mention by him. The case of Sohbat's closure is mentioned in Tarbiat/Browne's The Press and Poetry of Modern Persia.

You've gotten a constitution, oh poor Iranians.
You're voice has reached the world, oh poor Iranians.
Hungry and without water you have remained, oh poor Iranians.
You have grown alone as a plane tree, oh poor Iranians.
Though your Ma'deli has fled, the Shahsevans are in your land.
And Mullah Qorban 'Alis,A traditionalist cleric of Zanjan. He enjoyed tremendous prestige among the people, and excerized tremendous power over them. For all that, he lived a life of great simplicity. His application of the shari'at was severe and brutal, and he was a ferocious enemy of the constitutionalists. (pp. 402-406, Kasravi, Tarikh-e Mashuteye Iran) a few highwaymen,
And, poor Iranians, many Mirza Abol-Hasans.See above.
Don't talk about a good thing, or it will up and leave.
Oh house-wrecked Iranians, oh poor Iranians.
Brothers, there are not a few, but many Rahim Khans.Leader of the royalist tribal calvalry against the constitutionalists during the seige of Tabriz. In general, the terror of Azerbaijan.
They gather and bottle your body's blood.
It will not become prosperous, your country, your Iran
Until you invite to be open your women in this world.
Oh house-wrecked Iranians, oh poor Iranians....
... With the constitution, you have held a feast with pretty boys.
Hamadan and Kashan have been filled with pilgrims.
Let your khans play with dirhams and dinars.
Let the ShahsevansA tribe launched against the constitutionalists of Azerbaijan by the central government. Known for its ferocity. make war on Baqer and Sattar.
Oh house-wrecked Iranians, oh poor Iranians.November 22, 1909. This poem, although written in the style of Saber and occupying the editorial column, reserved (except for the editor himself) for Saber, is signed by one Dabani Chatdakh Khala (Aunt Heel-Stuck-On; possibly a reference to a heel being attached to the woman's house-shoes so that she can travel about).

Another "Foreign News" report satirizes the Tabriz delegation to the Second Majlis:

Tabriz: The representatives going to the Tehran Majlis sent ahead a caravan of fifty camels to Tehran bearing sighe papers, prayer beads, mohrClay baked from soil from Karbala to which the worshipper touches the forehead during his prostrations. and prayer rugs. They are sending them via Baku so that they will not come into contact the unclean Russian hands.November 15 (28), 1909.

The following comment, which inspired a front-page cartoon in Molla Nasr od-Din a few weeks later, summarizes this perspective of the meaning of the restoration of constitutional rule to Iran:

Well, some people are not happy with the constitution.

Now you've noticed that last year, there was no constitution in Iran and the roads were closed. last year, it was impossible to make the pilgrimage, or only a little of it was possible.

But this year, thank God, the constitution was restored in Iran. Thanks to this constitution, the roads are open. Now so many pilgrims are passing through Jolfa into Iran that, mashallah, seen from above and afar, the roads look like they're teeming with ants. Whoever can borrow ten rubles from his neighbor heads for Jolfa.

And they say that there is no news about the constitution.

Some nothing!October 4 (17), 1909. Signed "A Karbalai." The cartoon appears in the October 18 (31), 1909 issue.

We close this section with some articles on the politics of the politics of the period of the Second Majlis.

Two articles appear attacking Mohammad Amin Rasulzade's Iran-e Naw for what Mirza Jalil considered Islamic posturing. The following is one of them, an editorial:

Iran-e Naw

In the 23rd issue of Iran-e Naw, a feuilleton is published over the signature of Scholar Mohammad 'Ali Tehrani titled, "The Islamic World's Renaissance."

Our Iranian brothers have been graced by hearing our brother His Honor Mohammad 'Ali Tehrani's sermons, but so that our Caucasian readers not be deprived of this good fortune, so to say, we consider ourselves obliged to object to nothing but two words from that article.

First, let all our Muslim brothers hear the cheery news that His Honor Scholar Mohammad 'Ali Tehrani has increased the content of our heads with the idea that if our hajjis do not remove their tall papaqs, they will not be able to pass through the doors of the houses in Nakhchevan.

I wish to truly express my congratulations to the article's author and his step into the world of publishing, from the bottom of my heart. I recommend to my brothers at Iran-e Naw that they consider precious such a writer.

Every word of that article is wisdom, every thing it says, a revelation and a blessing. For example, its author writesIn Persian.

When Bonapart Napoleon I gave the order to write a legal code, he chose some laws from Islam and they launched him to the loftiest peak of civilization."

Write, write, my brother. Write that in Hamadan, in Zanjan, in Gilan, and in Esfahan what they know about who Napoleon is, what civilization is, and then the reader will be very happy, but they will wonder why such a scholar as Mohammad 'Ali signs his name "The Least Scholar," while if someone is going to write a history of Napoleon, he must be the best of scholars. Then he starts to talk about Japan's progress, and the author of the article wants to say that it was purely thanks to Muslim laws that the Japanese beat the Russians.

In short, if one wanted to express the principles of feuilleton-writing according to Philosopher of the Age Mohammad 'Ali Tehrani, one must write a book.In Persian. But here, I can only say that whoever has fallen asleep and wakes up, he will not choose to print such a useless magazine.

Our comrades at Iran-e Naw must wake up in this regard, or else one day, they will take the 23rd issue of Iran-e Naw to the land of Napoleon on the island of Japan (?) and read its feuilleton there, and they will smack you like the woman of Nakhhevan and say, "My suffering be upon your heart,The usual exclamation, one of great tenderness, is, "Your suffering be upon my heart." how you talk."October 4 (17), 1909.

The second is a revealing piece about a leading constitutionalist cleric, the first time his name is mentioned in the pages of the magazine:

Sayyed 'Abdollah Behbehani, who had at first made himself out to be a constitutionalist, has recently come to Tehran and submitted a petition to the new government, writing that "Lately, three base customs have been practiced in Tehran: First, women being seen in the streets. Second, the people gong to movies. Third, the installation of telephones in houses and offices and conversation by telephone."

This is the same Sayyed 'Abdollah Behbehani who, in the first days of Iran's constitutionalist period, in the name of the red flag being hoisted, turned away.

And so it is now.


What is peculiar is that there are not a few such peculiar people in Iran. For example, let's look at Ajlal ol-Molk: We have heard about "Ajlal ol-Molk the Constitutionalist," "Ajlal ol-Molk the Liberal," "Ajlal ol-Molk the Patriot."

But now?

Now, whomever you speak to says, "Ajlal ol-Molk the Absolutist," "Ajlal ol-Molk the Unjust," "Ajlal ol-Molk the Traitor."

That is, if we were to speak with a bit of fairness, this is in itself not a sin. One must take into account the effect of the soil.


Mullah 'Abdor-Rashid Afandi [Ebrahimof] comes and goes, travels around, and starts to say, "Anywhere in the world, wherever there is a people with their eyes shut, it is always the head-smitten, foot-snared, mouth smeared with date syrup, deaf-eared, KARWBYN, ruined Muslim people."

According to what Ebrahimov writes, in Bombay, the capital of Hindustan, the Muslims have more than a hundred mosques, but only a pair of schools, and those with no more than fifty students. The Muslims are very much behind the Majuses [Zoroastrians] of Hindustan, relatively speaking. There are also Hindus in the courts and government bureaucracy, but no Muslims.

After writing this, Vaqt heaves a sigh from the heart and says, "The condition of the Muslims is one and the same whether in China, India, Russia, Turkey, and Iran. There is no effect on them to be seen or heard from air or climate."

We ask 'Abdor-Rahman Ebrahimov and Vaqt that if they have anything new to say, say it. The people's ears are open. This is old news.December 6 (19), 1909. An editorial, titled, "Some Matters."

Turks, Azeris, and Persians

It remains to discuss the issue of the various pan movements and how Mirza Jalil and his friends understood them.

There is little enough to say about his attitude towards pan-Islam. he occasionally waved the banner of pan-Islamic liberalism first raised by Sayyed Jamal od-Din "Afghani," generally in order to disgrace the clergy, whom he accused of fomenting sectarian fanaticism. Otherwise, to the extent he deigned to take notice of it, it was to laugh it off. Its chief manifestation was now the Mohammadiye's resistance to the overthrow of the caliphate by the Young Turks. He and his correspondents regularly linked them with Sheikh Fazlollah Nuri, over whose execution at the hands of the victorious constitutionalists he had no tears to shed.

Nor is it necessary to discuss the issue of pan-Iranism. This movement had steadily lost ground among the Caucasian Muslims. While Iranian nationalists would regularly write poems bemoaning the loss of Iran's Caucasian provinces, it was simply beneath Mirza Jalil to discuss this theme.

While I have not studied Mirza Jalil's attitude towards pan-Ottomanism and its successor, pan-Turkism, it does not seem that it held much attraction for him. He ridiculed the sonorous poems of Namik Kamal on the glories of the Turkish nation:

We are men who loved oppression since the age of three
Fitne flows from our land, our rocks.
We loot, we extort from our brothers
This custom will never leave us.
For we are true sons of our ancestors
We are parasites on the heads of our people.August 26, 1907.

He regularly denounced Ottoman absolutism and had no patience with fellow-Azeris who looked to the Ottoman Empire. When the Iranian constitutionalist newspaper Habl ol-Matin (Calcutta) congratulated 'Abdol-Hamid II for granting a constitution, he mercilessly lambasted its naïveté. Ottoman literature only drew his scorn for its ornateness and incomprehensibility.

Molla Nasr od-Din did, however, greet the Young Turk revolution with considerably more enthusiasm than the Iranian constitutionalist revolution.We haven't had the opportunity to review Molla Nasr od-Din's articles on the issue, and so my comments are more provisional than my comments on Molla Nasr od-Din and the Iranian constitutionalist revolution. They Young Turks were people whose secularizing and modernizing ideology Mirza Jalil clearly found more sympathetic, although even here, he was prepared to fault them for a lack of resolution on the woman question.See, e.g., the cartoon on this matter in the dossier accompanying this article. It seems to me that it is for this reason, and not out of pan-Turkism, that Mirza Jalil adopted this attitude, but no conclusion is possible on this score without further study.

One article which convinces me that Mirza Jalil had not become a convert to pan-Turkism even after the victory of the Young Turks made such a political option more palatable is an editorial he wrote on their efforts to purify Turkish:


Today, our Ja'far's mother was sweeping out her house and gathering the garbage and taking it out in front. Then we saw one or two magazines stuffed into the garbage. I called out, "Hey, Ja'far's mother! Hey, negligent one, don't throw these out. Bring them because there might be something important in them."

The woman who was going to throw these words out brought the magazines over and I took them. I looked at one of them. It was Sabah #7187. I cast my eyes over this magazine from beginning to end to see if there was a single word worth reading. Otherwise, I'd give it back to be thrown out. Among the lines, it was written,

Purification of the language hurts Ottoman eloquence."This line's vocabulary is entirely Arabic and contains one ezafe and one Arabic construct form. As soon as I read this, I said from the bottom of my heart, "Is your mother in touch with the spirits, that she knew this was such garbage?

Then I said, "Let's see if there isn't anything else further on," and continued reading:

If you are to raise the level of the villagers' education, so must they acquire the loftier vocabulary of instruction. Whatever languages' vocabulary you learn in, you teach in; they are one. As long as the people's upper and middle classes' learns (?) have passed and need to further increase their learning, the vocabulary for this will be taken from Arabic and Persian. It is natural, then, that our villagers will pass along this same avenue and use the same Arabic and Persian words we did.

After reading this, I said, "Woman, take this now and throw it out and fast. But the time you get here, I will look at it again and find something else in it."

The woman came, but I had begun to read:

It is necessary to make the languages of Islam intermingled and intertwined (and drunk on wine)A play by Mirza Jalil on the Arabized vocabulary used. so that, with some changes, we can understand each other's intentions and learn from each other. In our opinion, our fathers for this very reason mixed Persian and Arabic words into our language.

I realized after reading this what the author of the above words, i.e., "words which do violence to expression,"Entirely Arabic, with one ezafe and one Arabic construct form. wrote, that he was very philosophical and believed from my heart that the author of these words truly had a profound knowledge of history and philosophy.

Well, well, son of an oppressor, who knows after how much toil he discovered that "our fathers for this very reason mixed Persian and Arabic words into our language?"

I have never heard spoken such words of truth. Look, they proclaim to us philosophicalness and a knowledge of history. Otherwise, ignoramuses like Ahmad Modhat, Najib 'Asem, and Valad Chelebi who have been writing Turkish history, have shown that,

Our fathers, in migrations, their learning the religion of Islam in the Arab language, their understanding whatever pertained to the learned in the Arabic and Persian languages, the writing of the Masnavi in Persian and its impossibility of rendering it in the language of their own people, etc., etc., were the reasons why Arabic and Persian words were integrated into our language.

So runs the argument. These are the words of His Honor J. Y., who declares that if this were not so, how could an Arab from Arabia understand Persian and how would a Shirazi make any sense out of Azerbaijani Turkish?

If this were not the case, how would the Muslims have been able to understand each other so beautifully?


After our Ja'far's mother sweeps the house clean, she always throws the garbage out front. I begged her, "Hey woman, by God, leave that alone, it's nothing. Throw it in front of Mashdi Mozalan's gate." But I couldn't get through to her. The woman didn't accept this and said, "A pack of hungry dogs and wild beasts come and find their sustenance in the garbage. Feeding them merits divine reward. What will it get me if I bring it to Mashdi Mozalan Beg? I hear that the ladies in Istambul do just like I do."

After thinking over what that woman said a bit, I gradually calmed down and came to agree with her. But the woman did not know that in the Ottoman Empire after the constitution, they want to also clean their streets as well as their language.

However much they write long, long articles about things like "purifying the language" and "eliminating foreign vocabulary,' finding oh-so-clever words and writing, the Ottomans with a little intelligence who read this think that the newspapers mean to clean the roads of garbage and purify the city's air, and not the language.

This is the Free Ottoman's business, too. But, be that as it may, it is a goodly business in God's sight. For, if they write plainly and understandably, they will be able to tell the people, "How is it you can clean your language, when you have thrown so much garbage into the street that cleaning the roads of garbage requires increasing costs and efforts so that we don't have a penny to spend on organizing conferences and writing papers on the purification of our language. So go and get it from Mssrs. "esteemed literateurs and poets, eloquent of tongue."

In short, we see no difference between our Ja'far's mother's housecleaning and the Ottoman's language-cleaning.November 1, 1909.

This editorial feuilleton brings down to human scale the nationalist slogans launched by the Turkish nationalists ideologues in Istambul. It also illustrates Mirza Jalil's philosophy of language reform: he is against the Persianization and Arabization of Azeri Turkish only insofar as it serves to clutter the language and make it incomprehensible. But he considers the Turkish nationalist program of language purification a waste of energy.

Nor did pan-Azerbaijanism seem to hold much attraction for Mirza Jalil and his comrades. For him, the great divide was the Aras River, with Western civilization beckoning on one side and Iranian barbarism on the other. The fact that the sayyeds crossing the Aras River and inciting the Caucasian Muslims against the benefits he saw in Western civilization were Azeris from Ardebil and not Persians from Tehran was of no interest to him. Mirza Jalil fought for the development of the Azeri language, a language which would be democratic and utilitarian. Its poetry would be sweet without being flowery and ornate, sophisticated yet accessible to the common people. But he was content to fight for this among the Muslims of the Caucasus. During the entire period of the First Majlis, the issue of Persians and Azeris in Iran simply was not raised in his magazine. It arose only once or twice during the absolutist interregnum, in a poem by Saber quoted above, but only as an expression of pride in the Turks' fulfilling their obligation in fighting the absolutists. Even here, no opportuity was missed in subjecting the Azeris of Iran to ridicule. The Tabrizis were often praised when praise was due, but then Sattar and Baqer's laurels were passed on to the loftier brows of Sepahdar and Sardar-e As'ad, a Qajar nobleman and a Lur.

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