Molla Nasr od-Din′s Impact on the Iranian Constitutionalist Press


Molla Nasr od-Din was a satirical weekly which began publication in April 1906. It was an outspoken champion of those who suffered under the old order--the starving rural poor, laborers, women, inquiring young people-- and foe of the privileged estates--Tsarist officials, notables, oil millionaires, the clergy and the religious charlatans who thrived alongside them, although it promoted no specific political or economic doctrine. It appealed for good relations between Armenian and Muslim and, on the other hand, fought to establish Azeri Turkish against Russification and the elaborate Ottoman idiom which was incomprehensible to the common people.

Molla Nasr od-Din's editor, Mirza Jalil Mammadqolizade,was a bold exponent of Westernization, Azeri national culture, anti-clericalism, and bourgeois and liberal values, after the model of that giant of the Azerbaijani enlightenment, Mirza Fath 'Ali Akhundof.

Mirza 'Ali Akbar Saber Taherzade

Another outstanding talent was 'Ali Akbar ('Alakbar) Saber "Hop-hop," After the Hopoe bird, who, in Muslim legend, was King Solomon's messenger bird. (1862-1911), recognized by his contemporaries as one of the outstanding poets of the time. He was born to a prominent bazar merchant of the Caucasian Muslim province of Shamakhi who had abandoned Sunnism and embraced Shi'ism with the zeal of a convert. He had intended young 'Ali Akbar to enter a religious vocation, but the latter became devoted to poetry while studying under the modernizing educator Sayyed 'Ali Akbar Shirvani, who grounded him in classical Persian literature. His next mentor was the Westernizing literateur 'Abbas Sahhat. Under his influence, Saber embarked on an eight year career which would launch, as Sahhat would say, a revolution in Azeri literature. Sahhat eulogized him after his untimely death in the idiom of the Francophile fin de siecle intelligentsia: Recalling Napoleon Bonaparte's famous declaration to Chateaubriand, that one of his writings had done more than an army, he added, "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. Another illustrious contemporary, A. Shaeq, declared, "No poet was so loved in his time by the people as the great Saber." Adabiyatimiz Haqqinda," Maarif Ishchisi, April 1927, cited in A. Zamanov, Sabir Golor (Baku, 1981), p. 59, n. 1

Molla Nasr od-Din's Influence on Iranian Journalism during the Constitutionalist Revolution

It was inevitable, then, that this magazine would hold a certain fascination for the Iranian intelligentsia which was struggling to find its own voice as the constitutionalist movement which had begun in December 1905 unfolded. An indication of the popularity of the magazine is given by the reaction to its being banned by the Iranian Court and higher clergy. One progressive Caucasian Muslim newspaper reports:

The Iranian authorities have not been pleased with Molla Nasr od-Din's keenness and independent views and will not permit it to go to Iran; indeed, they ordered that it be burned at the Iranian border. Our Iranian brothers in Tiflis, Vladeqafqaz, and other cities have expressed the utmost anger over this autocratic measure and are telegramming the Iranian parliament; even from places within Iran, such as Khalkhal, etc., complaints are being telegrammed, but no satisfactory answer has yet been obtained. Irshad #285, December 14 1906, cited in Nazem Akhundov, p. 313.

Molla Nasr od-Din had an undeniable impact on the following Iranian magazines of the Constitutionalist period: Nasim-e Shomal (September 10, 1907-July 29, 1911) of Rasht, See Sadr Hashemi, Mohammad, Tarikh-e Jaraed va Majallat-e Iran (Esfahan, 1948), (IV), entry 1117 Azarbayjan (February 11, 1907- ), See ibid, (I), entry 72. of Tabriz, and Sur-e Esrafil(May 30, 1907-June 20, 1908) See ibid, (III), entry 752. of Tehran. One Soviet scholar lists the Iranian magazines influenced by Molla Nasr od-Din as Azarbayjan, Sur-e Esrafil, Baba Shamal, and Nasim-e Shemal. Mir Ahmadov, 'Aziz, "Molla Nasraddin Zhurnalinin Yailmasi va Ta'siri," Azarbayjan SSR 'Elmlar Akademiyasinin Khabarlari, Ejtema'i 'Elmlar Seriyasi, 1958 #1, p. 71. In addition, it apparently had ties with a group of militant constitutionalist publications in Tabriz.

Molla Nasr od-Din's impact falls neatly into two parts: Saber's impact and everything else's. In general, the impact of Saber's poetry was much greater Molla Nasr od-Din's innovations in journalistic style and substance.

Nasim-e Shomal

We have not yet been able to examine Nasim-e Shomal, but have been able to study the volume published in its writer's memory, Javedaneye Sayyed Ashraf od-Din "Gilani"; Matan-e Kamel "Nasim-e Shomal," i.e., a self-advertised complete collection of the poems of the magazine he wrote. This anthology has its problems: not only are none of the poems dated, but they are thrown together haphazardly, with poems which clearly date from Reza Khan's rule, from World War I, and from the first constitutionalist period scrambled together. Moreover, as can be seen below, some of these poems are missing. This makes it impossible to know to which period of the author's life a given theme or mood belongs. It also makes it impossible to formally determine whether it is Saber who has borrowed from Sayyed Ashraf or vice versa.

The writer of Nasim-e Shomal was Sayyed Ashraf od-Din Gilan, a province of Iran which borders on the Caspian. According to the only source of his early life available, Yahya Aryanpur, Hosein Namini (ed.), "Nasim-e Shomal," in Javedaneye Sayyed Ashraf od-Din "Gilani"; Matan-e Kamel "Nasim-e Shomal," Ketab-e Farzan; Tabriz, 1984), pp. 77-78; hereafter refered to as Javadane. his autobiography in rhyme, "Dar Tasis-e Nasim va Bagh-e Behesht," in Javadane, p. 207. he suffered an injustice at the hands of an orthodox clergyman (zahed), who devoured the possessions of this orphaned son. He then left to live a pauper's life in Karbala and Najaf, from where he returned to Iran after some years. There, in Tabriz, at the age of twenty-two, he met a mysterious pir, or mystical guide, with whom he studied both Islamic mysticism and secular topics. Thus, like Saber, he was victimized by a powerful supporter (for Saber, a father, for Sayyed Ashraf, a clergyman) of the status quo and found refuge and guidance at the hands of someone with a broader perspective. According to this poem, he returned to Rasht, where he was received extremely well.

The memorial volume for Sayyed Ashraf presents a confusing picture, in which the lack of a scholarly study of him decades after his death is repeatedly deplored. On the one hand, Dr. Bastani Parizi claims that he was a lackey of the local aristocracy. This he bases on a poem lavishly congratulating Mohammad Vali Khan Sepahsalar Khal'atbari, a powerful Qajar aristocrat, on his return to Rasht after abandoning the Shah's fight against the constitutionalists of Tabriz. He even states, with absolutely no proof, that he joined Sepahsalar in his march from Rasht to Tehran to escape the city's intelligentsia who were furious with his cozy relationship with these elements, since his protector was no longer there. Javedane, pp. 50-51.

On the other hand, Yahya Aryanpur claimed, on the basis of Soviet sources (in which he exhibits, as usual, a touching faith) that Sayyed Ashraf was a comrade of the Caucasian revolutionaries who were aiding the Iranian constitutionalists in their fateful struggle. Javedane, p. 79,

A more balanced view is held by Abul-Qasem Halat. He notes that the newspaper was patronized by Sardar-e Mansur, a member of the provincial elite. (It should be noted that Sardar-e Mansur, unlike Sepahsalar, was a consistent, if conservative, constitutionalist who played a prominent role in an attempt by the Qajar chiefs to force the Shah to come to terms with the constitutionalists and was sent into internal exile by the Shah after the 1908 coup for his efforts. As recounted in Nazem ol-Eslam Kermani, Tarikh-e Bidariye Iraniyan (Entesharat-e Agah; Tehran, 1983).) "But," he adds, "Ashraf od-Din was on the whole a free spirit and did let himself be influenced by anyone's patronage."

Sayyed Ashraf generally staked out moderate-to-conservative positions. For example, he wrote poems attacking zaheds in the tradition of Hafez and his patriotic zeal described Iran in terms reserved for Mecca and Medina, something which would scandalize religious traditionalists.

Our Great Haj is the Homeland

Our 'Arafat is the [constitutionalist] anjoman.

("Nasihat be Mojahedin-e Sar Sakht," p. 286) On the other hand, he wrote poems lauding the clergy "Salam Allah 'Ala Ahl-e Qom" (pp. 314-316) and declaiming his adhesion to Ja'fari Shi'ite Islam "Ja'fariyam, Ja'fariyam, Ja'fari," (p. 509), "Nimeye Sha'ban" (pp. 517-519), "Dar Shab-e Veladat-e Qa'em, 'Ajjal Allah Zohuruhu" (pp. 519-520) and his firmness of faith, decrying the loss of religious zeal, The latter in poems clearly from the Reza Khan period ("Nuheye Melli," pp. 402-403) he sympathized with Ayatollah Modarres, Reza Khan's mortal enemy. and advertising his enthusiasm for the cause of Imam 'Ali. "Be Manasebat-e 'Eid-e Ghadir" (pp. 249-251) This capturing of the flavor of popular Iranian Shi'ite religiosity surely helped endear him to his readership. Halat, ibid., p. 111.

On women's emancipation, another sensitive issue, he opposed polygamy "Yek Zan Bishtar Nabayad Gereft" (pp, 287-288) and campaigned for women's education and literacy. "Nasihat-e Yek Khanom be Dokhtaresh" (p. 513), "Sal Luy Il Ast" (p. 338), "Fasl-e Bahar" (pp. 309-312), "Tahdid" (p. 173), "'Aqebat-e Iran" (p. 170), On the other hand, he wrote poems on the charms of female chastity, "Dar Tahriz-e Dokhtaran Mah-e Tal'at be 'Effat va 'Esmat" (p. 515) urging women to be obedient and not to go about unveiled:

That ten-year-old girl if she were to go to class
Would be modest and chaste and stay at home. "'Aqebat-e Kar" (p. 601)

Wives talk back to their husbands
As if they think their army officers.
Some go about unveiled like men.
They are in the harams of Their Excellencies.
This shows we are in the times of Dajjal. "'Alamat-e Zohur" (p. 473); see also "In Ham Begzorad" (p. 475), "Hejhab" (p. 769), "Raje' be 'Esmat" (pp. 781-784) These are recognizably from the Reza Shah period. The Dajjal, like the anti-Christ of the Christians or the birth-pangs of the Messiah in Jewish belief, was an evil figure who would precede the advent of the Hidden Imam.

This led Aryanpur to comment (albeit very exaggeratedly) that "some of the poems, especially those which were not under the direct influence of Saber,... tended towards compromise with absolutism, conservatism, and reactionary aspects." Az Saba ta Nima, II:77.

Nasim-e Shomal and Saber: The Translations

In the words of Soviet Azeri scholar Nazem Akhundov, Azarbayjan Satira Zhurnallari, 1906-1920 (Elm; Baku 1968), p. Nasim-e Shomal "translated, adapted (eqtebas), and immitated (taqlid)... the poetry of Saber."

The first poem from Saber which is apparently borrowed from Saber had not appeared in Molla Nasr od-Din, but in Hayat, a liberal Muslim daily for which Saber wrote many important poems before he joined with Molla Nasr od-Din. #33, February 10, 1906. It appear in Saber's collected works, the Hop-hop Name (Azaerbayjan SSR Elmlar Akademiyasi Nashriyyati; Baku, 1962) I:33; the translation appears in Javedane, pp. 529-530. I present the results on the following chart. After Aryanpur in Javedane, pp. 90-91.

Saber: I call true the truthless, I'm involved in certain crimes.
Nasim-e Shomal: I am a lawyer, Majlis Represenative? I represent the whole world.

S: Without determining the illness, I cause the family to cry.
NS: I am a doctor, I practice medicine in Tehran.

S: I mix together halal and haram.
NS: I am a merchant, I trade with an empty satchel.

S: I take the Muslims' money and moisten their eyes.
NS: I get the people into heaven by making them weep.

NS: I serve God for the sake of some dates.

S: Where ever I go, I set up shop and sell lies by the thousand.
NS: I talk from morning to night about Hosein the Kurd.

S: I say "Haqq, Haqq," "Truth," an epithet for God. The irony is clear. day and night, I make a fool of everyone.
S: Every day I give a fatva and completely fool the people.

S: I've lost hope, I'm completely rid of this people.
Wise Man
NS: I invite the people to the Light of Wisdom.

S: I am delighted, I has succeeded in getting my way.
NS: I'm ignorant, I will obey whatever you command.

S: I weave lies about nightingales, love and roses.

NS: I go on about Hosein the Kurd from morning to night.

Fortune Teller
NS: I generate friendship through the fortune-teller's wisdom.
NS: I host an army of demons every night.
Sanctimonious ass
NS: I curse the constitutionalist every morning.

NS: I have always been a beggar, when can I change my ways?
The common people
S: I will never awaken; I am resting in Ignorance's bed.

S: To fill my journal, I write on and on.
NS: I try to awaken the people.

The correlation, though not perfect, is still clear.

Other translations by him of Saber's poetry are closer, and retain more of the flavor of the original. Thus:

Saber: "Soal o Javab," Molla Nasr od-Din II:40, October 26, 1907, unsigned but attributed to Saber. See Hop-hop Name, I:134.

"Don't look!" Yes master, I'll hide my eyes."
"Don't speak!" I obey; I'll stop talking.
"Don't listen to a word!" I will close my ears.
"Don't laugh!" Right, (?) I'll weep night and day.
"Understand nothing!" I won't obey! Excuse me.
Forget such an absurd command!
Is it possible for me not to understand?
Is it possible not to burn in a charcoal brazier?
Dampen your burning fire,
Leave me alone, and spare yourself, too!

Nasim-e Shomal: "Shalaq," Javedane, p. 359.
"Don't touch!" Yessir, I've bound both hands.
"Don't travel!" Yessir, I've broken both legs.
"Don't speak!" I've stopped talking.
"Don't lecture!" Yessir, I've gagged my mouth.
"Don't understand!" Don't say such a thing.
Don't ask a person not to understand.
Let me be blind, deaf, and dumb,
But it is absurd that I be a donkey.
How long will you go like a donkey under a burden?
Lift your head up like a human being.

Again, we have a quarrel between father and son in which each displays the other's worthlessness:

Saber: "Olmur, Olmasin!" Molla Nasr od-Din III:12, March 23, 1908; Hop-hop Name, I:150-151.
Dad: You loiter in the alley, boy, you have no trade, so be it.
In learning a trade or classes you have no interest, so be it.
Son: You don't go to work, dad, your time won't come, so be it.
Each day you take a girl and divorce her, you've no valor, so be it.
Dad: At night you roam the streets and don't come back 'till dawn.
What're you up to? You have no chastity, so be it.
You have no shame, so be it.
Son: At night you dye your beard with henna and go straight to you wives.
Just when you come to bed you have no power, so be it.
You have no potency, so be it.
Dad: You never wake early in the morning and glance at your lessons.
For studying, in short, you've no intention, so be it.
Son: You comb (?) your bear every morning and head for the hamam.
Don't fear that you will catch a disease. You have no health; so be it.
You have no well-being; so be it.
Dad: When you leave school, you always poke your nose into something.
When I take my hand to you (?), you don't learn your lesson; so be it.
You have no shame; so be it.
Son: As soon as you go to the courtyard and see the neighbor's daughter,
You rush to talk with her. You have no shame; so be it.
You have no fortune; so be it.
May you never be loved.
May Zoleikha never trim your beard.

Nasim-e Shomal: "Goftoguye Pedar-e Bi-adab ba Pesar-e Bi-adab," Javedani, pp. 353-355.
Dad: If you have no learning or trade, what's it to me?
You have no interest in learning, what's it to me?
You have no sense or wit, what's it to me?
You are afraid of no one, what's it to me?
Son: And if you have no valiance, what's it to me?
You don't obey God, what's it to me?
You are not content with one woman, what's it to me?
If you haven't a bit of gallantry, what's it to me?
Dad: And you, boy, loiter in the alley
Especially during the dark nights of chelle.
See your lovers everywhere, in droves.
If you haven't a bit of chastity, what's it to me?
Son: And you, dear dad, put henna on your beard
And take three girls from among your kin and kith,
And set all three of them before you,
If you have not potency, what's it to me?
Dad: Sleep, son, from morning to night at home
Eat now grapes, now melon.
If for learning once in a while
You have no enthusiasm, what's it to me?
Son: And you, o father, every morning
Go to the hamam and dye your beard with indigo.
Don't fear illness or disease.
If you have no inclination to talk, (?) what's it to me?
Dad: Dear son, when you come back from school,
Don't come home until midnight.
I don't want to find out here and now what's going on.
If you don't learn your lessons, what's it to me?
Son: No one can match you in self-indulgence.
I've never seen someone with such a red beard.
Father, you've performed a miracle here.
If you have no shame, what's it to me?
Dad: And you, son, go with the lutis.
Become a religious interceder or guide or a champion.
Become a marvel of the age for beauty,
You who have no beauty, what's it to me?
Son: How well-spoken, dad, barek Allah!
You're a fat-necked tough, barek Allah!
You've taken three girls, barek Allah!
You don't hesitate to kick someone while he's down, what's it to me?
You fear no reproach, what's it to me?
What's it to me? What's it to me? What's it to me?

Again: After Nazem Akhundov, ibid., p. 322.
Saber: "Akh!" Molla Nasr od-Din III:36, September 8, 1908; Hop-hop Name, I:179.
Ah, such days of pleasure they were
When the sons of the fatherland were stupid.
A people who didn't know their legitimate rights,
A people who'd never smiled on liberty's visage,
A people who'd never rubbed their eyes clean,
A people who'd never picked up a newspaper,
Would always listen to superstition,
Ah, such days of pleasure they were!
There was no fault in the country then.
Where ever one looked, everything was good.
The people looked to us in hope,
And we enjoyed such esteem.
It was an Islamic duty for them to revere us.
Ah, such days of pleasure they were!
While the people suffered, feasting we were.
The governor's pal, the ruler's brother were we.
The obashes' qibla which was to be obeyed were we.
Where ever there was stew, we were the boss.
Every evening, every day was a feast for us.
Ah, such days of pleasure they were!
Although everything we did was a fake and a fraud,
Although we practiced the opposite of what we preached,
Yet this was our character's measure.
We always had the final word.
The people deferred to us in their affairs.
Ah, such days of pleasure they were!

Nasim-e Shomal: Javedane, pp. 487-88.

Ah, such good days they were.
We had the final word.
There was no talk of constitution and dynasty.
There was none of the tumult of the awakening people.
There was no talk of railroads or speed.
No one had the right to be impudent.
We had such splendor and honor.
Whatever we said went, all over the world.
We wore silver and brocade of silk and gold.
The very ink in our pen put the people in fear.
Their hearts would pound at the sight of our turbans.
We had such splendor and the honor.
The people of the world obeyed us, that was that.
Heaven and earth prostrated themselves to us, that was that.
Our palaces were like the qibla, and that was that.
The world was going the clergy's way, and that was that.
We had such a ka'ba, such a Mecca.
We would climb as high as steam (?)
We would discuss lama and valu
There would be chicken stuffed with ajil under the rice
And sizzling qorme chelaw before us.
We had such a dinner cloth filled with delicacies
The word of the merchant was full of cunning.
After dinner would come melon (?)
And some delicious baqlava from Masqat
And delicate glazed fruit in the Shah's palace.
We had such good pistachios and almonds.
On the dinner cloth was khoresh after khoresh.
Fish, delight upon delight.
Ferni and spicy hen.
The people just waiting to be told, "Have a taste."
We had such good mild cows and asses.
Now the world is headed for ruin.
The new-comers are drunk on wine.
The old sheikh has become a water rat. (?)
The people have all become materialists and Babis.
We had such a good portion.
Oh talabe, what's become of our manifold favors?
Oh tradesman, what's become of the fesenjan?
Heavens, what's become of the butter and eggplants?
Oh clergy, what's become of your titles?
We had such a good Exemplar of Islam.
We clergy are like a patrol, Oh Nasim.
We are like a bell for leadership, Oh Nasim.
We gather like flies around honey, Oh Nasim.
We seek to grab gold and silver, Oh Nasim.
We had such a good trap everywhere.
We had sherbert and salty dugh.


Saber: Molla Nasr od-Din II:21, May 26, 1907; Hop-hop Name, pp. 97-98.
Worker, do you consider yourself human?
Mr. Moneyless, do you think you'll be human easily?
Your being human requires grandeur and prestige.
Your being human requires wealth and power.
Pipsqueak, do you think your tomb's been put in order?
Foolish man, do you think you'll be human easily?
Don't jump in the middle of every lordly gathering
Don't stand on your feet and say a word to the chiefs
It's not permitted to speak to the poor as if they were human.
Do you consider yourself as one with the wealthy?
Foolish man, do you think you'll be human easily?
When will there be equality between poor and rich?
They are opposites, both in form and in substance.
Who can prove the good qualities of the poor to us (?)
Do you consider such a thing possible?
Foolish man, do you think you'll be human easily?
Go, pound your hammer, get to work, because you can't avoid it (?)
If your aim is equality, give it up. (?)
What have you in common with the lords of wealth?
Do you consider you one-abbasi daily wage a million?
Foolish man, do you think you'll be human easily?
We are wealthy; surely honor is ours.
The land is ours, all three provinces, too, are ours.
The court is ours, the lords of the government, too, are ours
Does the hard-up (?) still consider himself a master, a mistress?
Foolish man, do you think you'll be human easily?
If you take a stroll to rest, it is at our expense.
If you go to the beach a bit, it is our gift.
Is this screaming and yelling your gratitude?
Do you consider your ingratitude to our generosity thanks?
Foolish man, do you think you'll be human easily?
Have you absolutely no shame?
Or have you become so abased?
Thanks, then, be to God
May you burn in hell.

Sayyed Ashraf: "Goftoguye Arbab ba Fa'leye Ranjbar," pp. 376-378
Oh worker, now you've become a human, too?
Poor fellow, how is it that now, you've become Mr. Bigshot
By God, you have no access to the lordly gathering,
For you have not brought with you silver and gold.
In your patient breast, you haven't a sigh.
Like a ninety-year-old, why have you now become bowed down?
Poor fellow, how is it that now, you've become Mr. Bigshot
Whoever has a victorious fortune is a possessor of wealth.
He has prestige and grandeur where ever he goes.
Surely wealth dominates perfection everywhere.
Fool, why have you now become determined?
Poor fellow, how is it that now, you've become Mr. Bigshot
The worker will never become equal with the boss.
The democrat will never own wealth.
For you are now confirmed in poverty.
Poor fellow, how is it that now, you've become Mr. Bigshot
Since you have no money, your word is meaningless everywhere.
Wretch, why have you now become the embodiment of an ox?
Poor fellow, how is it that now, you've become Mr. Bigshot
We have fame, learning, prestige, and splendor.
We have inherited oxen, retainers, wealth, and revenue.
We are among the grandees, magnates, and statesmen.
How have you now become our peer and companion?
Poor fellow, how is it that now, you've become Mr. Bigshot
Beat your hammer and exhaust yourself, pennyless worker.
Go to the forest and cut some fire wood, pennyless worker.
Fling that rug into the desert, pennyless worker.
For you have now fallen in love with those curly locks.
Poor fellow, how is it that now, you've become Mr. Bigshot?
We live in ease and comfort, you as toughs and beggars.
You are bare and wretched, among the poor.
You are dependent on our wealth and generosity.
Albeit you are now proud of the constitution.
Poor fellow, how is it that now, you've become Mr. Bigshot?
Don't talk about learning or speak of practicing writing.
Don't speak of schools or engineering, for fear.
Don't make fun of wine, araq, or opium.
Have you now become a firm enemy of opium or wine?
Poor fellow, how is it that now, you've become Mr. Bigshot?
We are the lords of money, and all honor is ours.
Land and shops and palaces, all are ours.
Titles, orders, and rulership is ours.
Have you now become a nuisance to the wise [world?]?
Poor fellow, how is it that now, you've become Mr. Bigshot?
At the beginning of iftar, we eat rice with butter
And sherbet, sweets, and fruit juice
Fish, fesenjan, and lamb kabab.
Have you now been allowed by the dinner cloth with us?
Have you now gone mad for prepared stews?
Oh worker, for shame! Open your eyes!
Put your hand to your heart And bend your waist to us.


Saber: "Ahvalporsanliq yakhod Qonushma," Molla Nasr od-Din V:11 (March 14, 1910); Hop-hop Name II:23.

What's new, Mashdi?"
"I'm fine!"
"Anything else, more or less?"
"Haji Ahmad bought a newspaper...."
"Pah! Him too, boy? You saw this with your own eyes?"
"They say so!"
"So who's left, by God, with me in this province?
If that happened, it's the work of those damned frauds.
He has denied the Faith, he has deviated, he's a Babi!"
"So what else is new?"
"Haj Ja'far's son, Vali,
Has let his son go to school."
"That pimp, huh?"
"Who told you this?"
"I don't remember."
"If it's true, let me say a thousand curses!
If that happened, it's the work of those damned frauds.
He has denied the Faith, he has deviated, he's a Babi!"
"Well, what else is new?"
"Do you know Ghafar?"
"Ghafar? Which Ghafar?"
"Mirza Manaf's father!"
"I know him."
"He was talking with a dubious person."
"Who said so?"
"Khan Sanam's wife's husband." (?)
"If that happened, it's the work of those damned frauds.
He has denied the Faith, he has deviated, he's a Babi!"
"Any more news?"
"Our neighbor, Karim."
"Yes, yes, yes,...."
"Yup, him, him!"
"Well, tell me what he did!"
"He bought Molla Nasr od-Din and both he and his son read it."
"Everyone's become an infidel in this country, I wish this weren't so.
If that happened, it's the work of those damned frauds.
He has denied the Faith, he has deviated, he's a Babi!"
"I heard something else like this: Samad sold
His home to send his brother to the university." Pronounced "unversat" by the speaker.
"This news is true, but you didn't know this:
He's bought boots and has put a cap on his head."
"If that happened, it's the work of those damned frauds.
He has denied the Faith, he has deviated, he's a Babi!"
"They say something like that about your Kabla Ashir:
He's with the modern school teachers night and day."
"Yes, that's true!"
"What a waste of wealth!
He's lose his wealth and stray from God's Faith.
If that happened, it's the work of those damned frauds.
He has denied the Faith, he has deviated, he's a Babi!"
"Isn't it true that Badal has let his mouth go astray (?)
And says a bunch of things about rawzekhani?" (?)
"Yes, may I be your sacrifiice, he has completely abandoned the Faith!"
"Have you ever seen such arrogance, he's turned into a real pig.
If that happened, it's the work of those damned frauds.
He has denied the Faith, he has deviated, he's a Babi!"
"That pimp Jabi pays me no respect,
They even say, here and there, that he talks behind my back."
"Yes, (?)"
"It was up to you, you haven't shown respect to me.
I pour out my curses upon him.
I have begun my campaign, I have said what I must.
I am firm in my fury, every day, every hour.
Damn them, too, for they are damned Babis."

Sayyed Ashraf: Javedane, pp. 195-198.
"Kabla Baqer!" "Yes sir, what's new?" "Nothing, sir,
What's this fuss?" "No fuss, just a puff, sir."
"Haji Balal just arrived from Halab
And talks about the constitutionalist party."
"So it is certain that dog is an atheist and his works are fraud.
Oh people! seize him, he's a Babi!"
"What else is new, aside from that?
What has what's his name said in the bazaar?"
"My dear sir, he talks of spreading education
And speaks of constitutionalism and contributing funds."
"So it is certain that dog is an atheist and his works are fraud.
Oh people! seize him, he's a Babi!"
"The doctor's little boy came back from the Franks"
"Yes sir, so he has, learned and wise."
"Tell me true, how has he come back?"
"The dust of the world on my head, with crowned head Curiously, instead of "with a cap on his head." and booted feet."
"So it is certain that dog is an atheist and his works are fraud.
Oh people! seize him, he's a Babi!"
"Kabla Baqer, a newspaper was in the hands of
Mashdi Hosein Baqqal, which he read in haste."
"My dear sir, what can I say, everyone knows.
It was a newspaper; all the tradesmen read them."
"So it is certain that dog is an atheist and his works are fraud.
Oh people! seize him, he's a Babi!"
"Kabla Baqer, 'Ali Aqa, son of Mullah 'Ali
Has just come back from London and Paris, yes indeed."
"My dear sir, what can I say, it's so plain.
He came back from Paris with a bow-tie."
"So it is certain that dog is an atheist and his works are fraud.
Oh people! seize him, he's a Babi!"
"Has Hosein Aqa a turban on his head.
Or has he removed it and go about like a Frank?"
"My dear sir, why go into that, his state is to weep for.
His hat is tiny and he will burn in hell."
"So it is certain that dog is an atheist and his works are fraud.
Oh people! seize him, he's a Babi!"
"What's up with Ja'far Aqa, son of Haji Taqi?
He's going to a modern school; what is he saying:"
"Dear sir, he's talking about mathematics.
He's complaining a lot about akhunds and qazis."
"So it is certain that dog is an atheist and his works are fraud.
Oh people! seize him, he's a Babi!"
"What did Sheikh 'Attar say to Master Mullah Hasan?
Which made him jump, fall over, and go to pieces?"
"My dear sir, this poor, sorry sheikh said,
'Where's the constitutionalist assembly, justice, and law?'"
"So it is certain that dog is an atheist and his works are fraud.
Oh people! seize him, he's a Babi!"
"What souvenirs did what's-his-name bring back from Moscow?"
"Dear sir, he brought back a bunch of misery." (?)
"What's he saying in every garbage heap and ruin?"
"He's talking about schools and libraries."
"So it is certain that dog is an atheist and his works are fraud.
Oh people! seize him, he's a Babi!"
"If a Babi makes the hamam impure,
What are my obligations, servant of the old coffee-house owner?"
"Go, drink wine, what's the fuss all about?
Ah, ah, what's all this talk, this spitting at your beard?
"So it is certain that dog is an atheist and his works are fraud.
Oh people! seize him, he's a Babi!"


Saber: Molla Nasr od-Din, V:10 (March 7, 1910); Hop-hop Name, II:19.

I have wasted sixty years of my life just like you, Ardebil!
I wouldn't be manly to think of you, Ardebil!
I used to think that in the whole world, excepting Iran
There was no place of joy, except in this land,
That there were no beautiful women except Fatima or Tukazban
There are thousands and thousands of fairy-women in Russia, Ardebil.
I wouldn't be manly to think of you, Ardebil!
Oh Homeland, I've seen houris among your women.
I've said that your houris surely belong in heaven
Now I am confounded when I look at these dolls.
Every one of them is another delight, another gift, Ardebil!
I wouldn't be manly to think of you, Ardebil!
And now, let's speak of Baku, Baku, I mean, a heavenly garden.
Especially the shore, a Tatar's land of dolls.
On all sides, white, chubby madams, each more a flower than the other.
A beautiful sweet-heart, a gift, a wonderful thing, Ardebil!
I wouldn't be manly to think of you, Ardebil!
For a thousand of us Kablais, each has given his heart to a Sonya.
For a thousand of us of the Pure Faith, each accepts a (?)'s command.
For a thousand of us Believers, each prostrates himself before who knows what.
Those in the chains of slavery have become free, Ardebil.
I wouldn't be manly to think of you, Ardebil!
Not five, not fifteen, where ever you look, there's a madam:
A house madam, a home madam, a balcony madam, a hall madam,
A syrque madam, a hotel madam, a passazh madam, a boulevard madam,
In short, I've lost my mind, oh woe is me, Ardebil!
I wouldn't be manly to think of you, Ardebil!
Although when I left Iran, I had other things in mind,
My intention being trade, and I was proud of my trade,
My pride was not content to be free of complications.
I did not have complications and children in mind, Ardebil.
I wouldn't be manly to think of you, Ardebil!
And so increased my enthusiasm every moment I looked.
Although my enthusiasm increase, my sorry did not diminish.
My sorrow was because my condition did not improve!
My condition did not help in soothing my soul, Ardebil!
I wouldn't be manly to think of you, Ardebil!
I'm afraid that when I left my country and went abroad,
I was snared by my carelessness and suffered terribly.
Now on looking at myself, I am appalled, appalled!
I left my people, alas! oh my! Ardebil!
I wouldn't be manly to think of you, Ardebil!
If only I could come back again as a youth, ah!
If only I could be a handsome youth in chic clothes, ah!
If only I could speak with those fairy-women, ah!
I've lived my five days in this life with joy and pleasure, Ardebil!
I wouldn't be manly to think of you, Ardebil!

Sayyed Ashraf: "Az Mosko, Bache-tajer-e Qazvini be Pedaresh Nevashte," p. 523-525.

I have happy memories of Moscow, oh father!
I'd be a fool to think of Qazvin, oh father!
I used to think that on the face of the earth,
There is no better place than Iran for lovers.
Now that I've seen thousands of cuties in Russia,
Each one more beautiful than then a houry's daughter, oh father!
I'd be a fool to think of Qazvin, oh father!
At first, I was in Qazvin a callow youth.
Bound hand and feet, eyes blindfolded as if I were blind.
Now that I have passed among the Franks via Anzali,
My eyes have opened with the speed of a minter's press.
I'd be a fool to think of Qazvin, oh father!
I was bathed day and night in sweetness and delight.
I had union with girls and busied myself with feasts and parties.
Although I was terrified day and night.
Yet love hunted me down like a hunter.
I'd be a fool to think of Qazvin, oh father!
Drunken golden (?) youths in the latest fashion
Holding umbrellas, awaiting a visit,
And on the other hand, lovely chubby white madams.
Really, bahbah, such lovely God-sends, oh father.
I'd be a fool to think of Qazvin, oh father!
A hundred thousand Karbalais astonished like me.
A hundred thousand Mashhadis dissolute by lovemaking.
A hundred thousand here bankrupt of rubles.
A hundred thousand have scattered faith and hearts to the wind, o father.
I'd be a fool to think of Qazvin, oh father!
Day and night, I say, "Kak vash, ezdrovye." "How are you, welcome."
I've spent all my money on women.
If you want to know about me, ask the madams.
I cry out loud over love every moment, oh father.
I'd be a fool to think of Qazvin, oh father!
I bring a madam on a walk to the park or the gardens.
I throw up my arms out of lovesickness (?).
I was so steeped in pleasure that I forgot about my wife.
I've forgotten about my wife and kids, oh father.
I'd be a fool to think of Qazvin, oh father!
What do I know if there is fighting in the world?
What do I know about which city has been bombarded?
My business is love, and aside from love, there is not (?).
The flames of love have risen from the foundations, oh father.
I'd be a fool to think of Qazvin, oh father!
Nicholas has been dethroned, what should I do?
The autocracy has fled in panic abroad, what should I do?
If my pension has been cut off, what should I do?
When the teacher in the school of love cries out, of father,
I'd be a fool to think of Qazvin, oh father!
Should you think about my state, where am I, what am I;
My wealth has slipped from my hands, where's my wealth, where am I?
I'm nude and don't know where my shawl is, my kerchief.
I've abandoned the faith of my ancestors, of father.
I'd be a fool to think of Qazvin, oh father!
Oh father, relate my condition to the fat and the slim.
Relate it to my uncle, Mashhadi Baqer.
Convey Your Servant's greetings to whomever you see.
Gladden me with a letter, oh father.
I'd be a fool to think of Qazvin, oh father!

The following example is suggested by Nadem Akhundof:

Saber Molla Nasr od-Din IV:23 (June 7, 1909), Hop-hop Name I:214. The editors of Hop-hop Name notes that this poem refers to the possibility that the now-deposed Mohammad 'Ali would be compelled to sell the royal jewels.

Uncle Mullah, (?)
There's no fault if we've gone and boasted
Write this announcement on a paper:
I've turned all of Rey into one big store.
I'm selling off everything at a real low price.
Hey, customers! I'm selling off the realm of Rey!
In this store is to be found every manner of thing.
Jam's Bowl, Key's subjects, Gobad's throne.
Even if our business has been slow,
And a few of the Iranian race are making efforts,
Yet I pay no heed. Hey customers!
Hey, customers! I'm selling off the realm of Rey!
It isn't necessary for you to ask me even once (?)
If my heart is without feeling.
"The Salty Pond" According to the editors of Hop-hop Name, the reference is to Fath 'Ali Shah's abandonment of the Caspian Sea to the Russians, quipping that it was "a salty pond" anyway. wasn't true to my father,
Yet I'm called a bad son and unfeeling.
I'm selling Qasr-e Shirin and the Keyanian treasures!
Hey, customers! I'm selling off the realm of Rey!
I don't want light; it is blackness I love.
I want the realm of Iran to be full of smoke,
I empty the cities, it is wasteland I love.
Enough royalty, I love being a khan.
I'm selling off Sabzevar with Mayamei!
Hey, customers! I'm selling off the realm of Rey!
Mine the final word, the house and its goods are mine.
Mine honor and virtue, pride is mine.
Property is mine, the fruits of labor are mine.
I am selling, the Qajar Dynasty is mine.
To whom does it matter if I sell something?
Hey, customers! I'm selling off the realm of Rey!
Instead of being a constitutionalist Shah,
Instead of being a Shah at the people's sufferance,
Instead of listening to the commands of the army
Instead of being a Shah who sighs in sympathy,
I'll be a khan, I'll feast, I'll sell wine!
Hey, customers! I'm selling off the realm of Rey!

and Sayyed Ashraf: This poem is missing from the Javedane. I have taken it from Aryanpur, II:68-69, who reports that it is from "#45," presumably from 1909, since it lampoons Sheikh Fazlollah Nuri who had recently been executed by the constitutionalists.

Haji, business is brisk. Where's the customer? We have a sale.
I'm selling all of Iran, The pride and honor of the Muslims,
Rasht, Qazvin, Qom, Kashan, Buy this country cheap!
Yazd and Khansar on sale, on sale.
Where's the customer? We have a sale.
I'm the enemy of the liberals The murderer of the righteous.
I am Sheikh Fazlollah, the Dealer The salesman of the Faith for my bazaar.
Illicit property on sale, on sale.
Where's the customer? We have a sale.
I am an enemy of the entire people. I am the enemy of the whole nation.
I act on behalf of the Shah To invite everyone to the sale.
The time for iftar is on sale, on sale!
Where's the customer? We have a sale.
The nation's army's shaken the city. The Cossacks have scattered to Karaj.
Even if I'm crazy, there's no problem. There's no way out except this sale.
Gold-threaded clothes on sale, on sale.
Where's the customer? We have a sale.
Who wants a drum, a trumpet, a banner? Who wants the seal of lion and sun?
Who wants Jamshid's throne? Key's crown, Jam's throne?
Horse and bridle are on sale, on sale.
Where's the customer? We have a sale.
I'll give Key's throne as a pledge. I'll give Jam's throne for Their Lords.
I'll set a bowl of khoresh before me I'll eat qeyma pilaw and qorme chelaw.
A bunch of bran flour on sale, on sale.
Where's the customer? We have a sale.
I've heard the high clergy in the 'Atabat Set up camp by the Euphrates River.
And headed for Iran with salvat Refering to mojtahed Akhund Khorasani's promise to head for Iran in defense of the Constitution. There's no way out except a sale.
I've had to put the Faith on sale, on sale!
Where's the customer? We have a sale.
If Islam is rendered ineffective And an uproar breaks out in Gilan,
And if the Aras flows over Tabriz So be it, to hell with it.
The Afshar armies are on sale, on sale!
Where's the customer? We have a sale.
My late grandfather, out of love That is, the Shah's grandfather, Fath 'Ali Shah. Gave up seventeen cities in the Caucasus.
Most of what my father kept I'm selling, come what may.
All is suddenly on sale, on sale!
Where's the customer? We have a sale.
A cry goes up one morning, The Bakhtiari calls out, elsewhere.
The people of Rasht are aboil, The Sheikh is to put up for sale elsewhere.
The Court's carpets are on sale, on sale.
Where's the customer? We have a sale.
I am a master of the art of conniving. I am the mufti of Basra and Baghdad.
I am the qazi of Saltanatabad. Strange, how I've been ensnared.
Wolf and hyena are on sale, on sale.
Where's the customer? We have a sale.

In his Az Saba ta Nima, Aryanpur provides ten other examples. II:66-67. Saber's "Barikallah" (I:149-150) and Nasim-e Shomal's "Barik Allah" (pp. 324-327) I would addI'm afraid (S:I:118). On examination, most of the poems he mentions by Sayyed Ashraf are clear adaptations of Saber's poems. Saber's (I:206) and Nasim-e Shomal's "Shekayat-e Taze 'Arus-e Bi 'Elm az Shawhar-e ba 'Elm be Khanbajiye Khodesh," p. 242 A few of them, however, have an no clear affinity with Saber's. Of the rest, none are translations or even renderings of Saber's poetry. Some of them keep the same basic thrust. Others are of similar form but have different or even directly opposite content.

The poets also both focused on certain characteristic themes. Sayyed Ashraf was interested in the darker side of Iranian festivals, both religious and secular. Thus, his poems on the evening iftar parties for Ramadan and Naw Ruz celebrations are almost always told from the point of view of the poor people frozen out (often literally), with their noses pressed to the window This social conscience is shared by Saber, who wrote a few poems on a similar theme, "Iftardan Bir Goftar, ya Majmu'adan Bir Loqma," Molla Nasr od-Din II:42, November 11, 1907; Collected Works, I:135; Untitled, Molla Nasr od-Din III:39, September 29, 1908; Collected Works I:183-184. although not with Sayyed Ashraf's obsessiveness.

This social conscience is also reflected in their poems to the workers and peasants, which are written in a similar fashion. Saber translated a poem from Sayyed Ashraf's Persian into Azeri Turkish, Sayyed Ashraf: "Tanzpareye Kutah," Nasim-e Shomal III:4, Shawwal 16, 1328; Saber: "Balaja Sahne," Yene Haqiqat I:30, February 27, 1911; Collected Works, II:178-180. The original is published in Rahim Rezazadeye Malek, Hup-hup: Zaban-e Borraye Enqelab (Sahar; Tehran, 1979), pp. 107-108. It does not appear in the Javedane. Saber acknowledged its source in a postscript. Since it is outside the topic of this paper, we do not further examine this pair of poems here, except to say that they are about an Iranian peasant who offers prayers of thanks for the constitution, only to be whipped in the most savage and piteous manner upon his master's orders by his farrashes:

Master: Beat him, beat him, the constitution has perverted him!
Peasant: Oh God, hear the cry of the peasant's heart!

The Azeri translation is quite close to the Persian original. It should be stressed here that this is the sole example we have of Saber so much as acknowledging Sayyed Ashraf's presence. We cannot agree, then, with Rahim Rezazadeye Malek's claim that "The translation which Saber made of Sayyed Ashraf od-Din Nasim-e Shomal's skit [just refered to] clearly and properly confirms that Saber's and Sayyed Ashraf's translation of each others work was [a result of] a cultural and political relationship, and was in no way a matter of one side being simply the source and the other side being simply the translator." Hup-hup, Zaban-e Borraye Enqelabe (Sahar; Tehran, 1979). 111, note 5. We tend towards the position of Aryanpur, who entertains the idea that Sayyed Ashraf did not know the poet whose poems he was borrowing from.

Finally, it should be said that both poets show an interest in the mostazad form, a form perfectly designed for the ironic aside or the snappy come-back. Another curiosity: Sayyed Ashraf uses the pen-name Hop-hop in one of his poems. See, e.g., Aryanpur, II:33.

Nasim-e Shomal and Saber: Similarities and Differences

Sayyed Ashraf and Saber were products of societies which faced many of the same issues: sumptuous wealth coexisting with grinding poverty; pervasive ignorance, superstition, and apathy; female seclusion and associated evils; the Western/Christian onslaught against national/Islamic power; etc.

Moreover, the two poets started out with similar orientations. Saber's early writings reveal a writer who, like may Iranian Muslim writers, can write in a reverend and pious and politic as well as a skeptical and cosmopolitan fashion. Thus, Saber wrote a poem on the passing of Mozaffar od-Din Shah, who granted the Iranian people a constitution. Irshad #8, January 11, 1906; Collected Works, III:24. He identifies him as the Shah who, "while dying, revived Islam" (he had signed the constitution while on his death bed), and prays for a long life to his successor, while pleading with him to "strengthen the Constitution, choose equality, and be a friend of the subjects and desire freedom," something which would have called forth gusts of Homeric laughter from the editor of Molla Nasr od-Din after it was founded. Moreover, this poem was delivered by Saber himself at a funeral held for him in Shamakhi, where he was then living. He was permitted by the clergy to read a eulogy from behind the pulpit thanking the late Shah for granting his subjects freedom. Even as late as 1908, after Molla Nasr od-Din had been operating for two years, when he was accused of having insulted the qazi of his city in its pages, said qazi took him under his own protection. Mammadali Veysov, "Saber Afandinin Sargozashtindan Bir Parcha" in Abbas Zamanov (ed.), Saber Khateralarda (Ganjlik; Baku, 1982), p. pp. 14-15; originally appearing in Yashil Yarpaqlar, 1922. For the record, the editor of Molla Nasr od-Din recalls Saber hiding "our of fear of wild beasts like Qazi Haji Majid." Jalil Mammadqolizada, "Al Galdi, Molla Ami!" ibid., p. 17; originally in the introduction to Sizhimqolinama, 1927, This reveals shows Saber as a recognized member of the local establishment, even if of its liberal wing.

Again, although he was capable of attacking zaheds in general, when it came down to cases, Saber, in this period, treated the high clergy with great reverence. On the occasion of the death of a leading cleric from his province of Shirvan, he is treated with the traditional pomp and respect. "Vafat Khabari," Irshad #49, February 18, 1906; Collected Works, III:153. In his article on the first anniversary of the end of a wave of Muslim-Armenian violence which had drenched the Caucasus in blood, he gives due credit to the role the Muslim clergy played in putting an end to the bloodshed--the "beautiful Islamic and humanistic efforts of our clergy," in his words. Hayat #157, July 18m 1906; Collected Works, pp. 155-156

His treatment of the Tsarist officials--from the governors to the local police--is one of the greatest deference. Far from attacking them as an alien force occupying his country, they are typically thanked for various acts of munificence.

Saber in this period takes a cautious approach very similar to Sayyed Ashraf's. In one piece, he writes that progress should be made in accordance with Islamic values, taking into account "Islamic zeal [gheirat] and the people's chastity, and one should not progress out of the orbit of Islam, for this could not take into account Islamic chastity and the people's zeal." His conclusion is that a proper balance between worldly and religious studies should be achieved by Muslim scholars. Irshad #241, October 13, 1906; Collected Works, III:176.

Even in this period, though, Saber is less parochial than Sayyed Ashraf. A product of a mixed Sunni-Shi'ite marriage, he is unable to write real rawzekhani as a youth. Although he did make assays into this genre in school, Soltan Majid Ghanizade, "Sabir Haqqinda Kichik Bir Khatira," in Zamanov, p. 27; Originally in Adabiyyat Ghazetasi #18, July 16, 1936. Instead, he followed the pantheistic course charted by Iranian mystical poets and held that God [Haqq = The True One] could be found everywhere. This contrasts with Sayyed Ashraf's popular Shi'ite enthusiasm. Indeed, one of the poems cited by Aryanpur as a borrowing from Saber by Sayyed Ashraf is eloquent on this point:

Saber: Published posthumously; Hop-hop Name, II:188.

I bear witness before almighty God,
I am a believer, Shirvanis!
I am not a believer in any new faith,
I am an old Muslim, Shirvanis!
I'm Shi'ite, but not in your way.
I'm Sunni, but not like you.
I'm Sufi, but not in your form.
I'm a God Haqq = The True One-loving man, Shirvanis!...

The time has come to speak clearly:
I'm Ja'fari, Ja'fari, Ja'fari!
I bear witness to almighty God I am firm in the Muslim way.
These pages bear witness to my state. I am innocent of any additions.
I'm Ja'fari, Ja'fari, Ja'fari!...
My mother gave milk out of 'Ali's kindness And put Mohammad's name in my mouth.
When has that mother's task become great? Well, well, such motherly kindness.
I'm Ja'fari, Ja'fari, Ja'fari!
I've written poems on God's Oneness, The glorious of the Prophet's family
Eulogies for the Shi'ite martyrs Out of generosity and sincerity (?)
I'm Ja'fari, Ja'fari, Ja'fari!

Saber's one attempt at such eulogies is interesting for the blathsemous conclusion in which he compares his own tribulations to that of Imam Hosein. Taza Hayat #25, January 30, 1908; Hop-hop Name, III:35.

The memoirists are unclear on this point, but it seems that Saber's change in course was a result of the ability of the Muslim rabble to be stirred up against him by his enemies among he traditionalist clergy. In any case, it is clear that during his Molla Nasr od-Din years, this new course diverged still further from that of Sayyed Ashraf. Realizing now that my discussion of "Sayyed Ashraf" in general is not without diffulties particularly here; indeed, it seems to me that his constitutional revolutionary poems are much less conservative in outlook than his identifiably Reza Khan period poems. Saber would never write verses in which he calls people to be stalwarts of the Faith, nor would he ever again praise the clergy as a whole or any member thereof. On the contrary, he would furiously and persistently attack their fatwas against the liberals and intellectuals. The Muslim clergy was represented in his Molla Nasr od-Din poems as champions of ignorance, vengefulness, and charlalanry. I:226, 199, 191, 188, 181, 179, 169 Sayyed Ashraf, even at his most anti-clerical, lacked Saber's bitterness, and was, in any case, capable of writing poems in which the clergy are treated generously. I have seen no discussion of this evolution of Saber, except in a perceptive but cryptic comment by Aryanpur in his "Az Saba ta Nima:"...the effect of his studies in old-fashioned schools and his past surrounded by superstition and fanaticism prevented him from revealing his innate genius and did not permit him to be free of the chains of classical poetic tradition.... Despite this, the his spire of laughter and joy and humor and criticism of conditions were apparent." (II:46-47)

Nasim-e Shomal and Saber: The Polemics

Saber came to share the negative attitude towards Iran common to some of the Caucasian Muslim intelligentsia. This led to a number of poetic polemics against Saber and, after his death, Molla Nasr od-Din. The following poem, in which Saber satirizes the Iranian anti-constitutionalists by the usual expedient of putting words in their mouth, writes: Molla Nasr od-Din IV:29, July 19, 1909; Collected Works I:219. Rezazadeye Malek, pp. 176-178, quotes Sayyed Ashraf as as saying that it was published in #49; we have no access to Sayyed Ashraf's answer. Here, Saber employs a favorite device of speaking through an Iranian reactionary deploring the collapse of the old order.

What, now, were the Iranians' rebellions all about?
The Iranian rebels have gone begun to go into action.
The Iranians' grandees have broken their oath.
Bad indeed is the blood of the Iranians.

May the Iranians' parents burn, for my liver has been burned.
I have once more vile news of that orphan Mammadli. Mohammad 'Ali, who had just been deposed as Shah of Iran.
He says, "The throne has been abandoned and I have fled with my crowned head.
The kings of the Iranians have taken refuge in the consulate." Mohammad 'Ali Shah took refuge in the Russian consul from the constitutionalist armies when they took Tehran.
Bad indeed is the blood of the Iranians.

Why is it that the people of Iran are so ignoble?
Why are they enemies of the ways of their ancestors?
Why are they the sons of nobodies, Na khalaf. like the New Ottomans?
Lord, may Iran and the Iranians sink into my grave (?)
Bad indeed is the blood of the Iranians.

They did not let him sit in peace on his throne for three full years,
Or get his fill of pleasure or living it up
So that this nation might live in the shade of his justice
And let the Muslims of Iran live in comfort.
Bad indeed is the blood of the Iranians.

By God, what did he do to you, that orphan, that poor wretch? Lit.: "dust upon his head," refering to the deposed Shah.
What did he do that was so unconscionable?
You all cheated him, the poor, lost orphan.
He said, "Let the souls of the Iranians be released."
Bad indeed is the blood of the Iranians.

Was he not generous with you, as befits his station?
Did he not sign the decree for Iran's constitution?
Did he not kiss the Koran and swear?
Then why do not the Iranians have faith?
Bad indeed is the blood of the Iranians.

I just don't know what kind of freedom is left there
Or where they got this word from or what kind of talk this is.
Was not our country like paradise for six millenia?
And now the people are talking about blood, these Iranians.
Bad indeed is the blood of the Iranians.

Now look at the Iranians' Sepahdar!
Look at the Bakhtiar tribes and their Sardar, all arrayed.
Look, God be with you, at how they treated the Shah.
And these are the magnates and pillars of Iran.
Bad indeed is the blood of the Iranians.

Everyone has gathered a real army round himself.
And now? Mammadli fell from the throne, we have a Shah no more!
Everything has gone to pieces in the space of just three days.
The king has fled saying, "Ah, woe!", Iranians.
Bad indeed is the blood of the Iranians.

Before this people lived in this beautiful country,
Such nice old men and young men of renown.
And dear khans who believed that the Shah was God's shadow on earth.
Now it's the Yefrems The Caucasian Armenian who commanded the constitutionalist forces. who are Iran's khans.
Bad indeed is the blood of the Iranians.

By God, why should the people meddle in the Shah's affairs,
Open their eyes and take a close look first at him, then at his affairs?
It is the one who is Shah and he alone who should be aware of his affairs.
Or else every (?).
Bad indeed is the blood of the Iranians.

The Shah knows whatever is done in the country.
He empties your pockets or fleeces you, when and as he pleases
Or cuts off heads, burns down houses, kills, or plucks out eyes.
Even if a thousand sighs float to heaven from the Iranians.
Let the souls of the Iranians burn in hell.
The people of Iran are the Shah's servants.
Bad indeed is the blood of the Iranians.

This poem called for the following response, in the mistaken view that the phrase, "Bad indeed is the blood of the Iranians" was not meant as part of a satire. In it, he treats the progress of Iran, from a country which had lost everything to a proud, constitutionalist nation:

Uncle Mullah By Sayyed Ashraf od-Din Hosein Nasim-e Shemal, published in his Nasim-e Shemal, #51, Sha'ban 7, 1327. The eighth and tenth verses are written in Azeri Turkish. Although this poem is, as noted above, not an attack on Iranians, but a satire on anti-constitutionalist Iranians. He introduces it as follows:
Yesterday, I read issue 49 of Molla Nasr od-Din in which it was written, "Bad indeed is the blood of the Iranians," i.e., [etc.] This offended this son of Gilan and he took up his pen and fashioned these verses in response.
This response shows that even when Molla Nasr od-Din published poems sympathetic to the Iranians and their political struggles, the weight of its attacks on Iran and the Iranians led the author to the immediate reaction that it was just another attack.

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, vigorous, pure-minded people,
King-makers, brave and 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?
Did not our fatherland 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 way post 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 everyone 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 he 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 harm the narcisus or basil, Oh Uncle Mullah.
Do not touch the dagger's edge, Oh Uncle Mullah.

Another poem objects to Molla Nasr od-Din's baiting of Iran and Shi'ism: "'Atab o Khatab be Molla Nasr od-Din-e Tiflisi," pp. 214-218. According to Nazem Akhundov, it appeared in Nasim-e Shomal #28, 1908, i.e., in mid- to late-1908. (p. 321)

Although you are an exemplar for the liberals, Oh Mullah,
Your poem are pearls fit for a king, Oh Mullah,
Your fame has reached every province, Oh Mullah,
Despite all the sweetness of your writing, Oh Mullah,
Don't wag your tongue so pointlessly, Oh Mullah
In a corner of the Caucasus you are a candle, a beacon.
In Tiflis, you are like a singing nightingale.
But you are like a crow for the reactionaries.
You peck at everyone so much, Oh Mullah.
Don't wag your tongue so pointlessly, Oh Mullah
What's it to you what that self-made spiritual guide did,
Or what that foolish mourner did,
Or what the fortune-teller or the jinn-master did?
How long will you harass the haji, Oh Mullah?
Don't wag your tongue so pointlessly, Oh Mullah
Don't you know that that guide and the story-teller are poor,
That the jinn-master and the fortune-teller are poor,
That that holy sheikh who tells fortunes is poor?
The do this because of poverty, Oh Mullah.
Don't wag your tongue so pointlessly, Oh Mullah
If you're a praying man, where is your mid-night grieving?
If you're from Hejaz, where is your Arabic accent?
Where is your turban or your (?)?
How long will you say those disturbing things, Oh Mullah?
Don't wag your tongue so pointlessly, Oh Mullah
Regarding ta'ziye, it seems you consider it rajaz. Ta'ziye is poetry mourning the Shi'ite martyrs. By contrast, rajaz is a form of poetry associated with braggadoccio of a particularly vulgar sort.
This isn't a fine dyer, it's Hasan the Painter.
This isn't Shemr, it's Qolli the Sheep's Head Cooker. In other words, these are simple folk, lighten up. A theme of an earlier stanza.
So, would you deny the Shi'ite martyrs' eulogy, Oh Mullah?
Don't wag your tongue so pointlessly, Oh Mullah
Beware, do not doubt the turbanned ones.
Don't belittle the beards of the Muslim scholars.
The shoes of the Muslim clergy are not to be derided.
A doubter from among the ranks of the infidels, Oh Mullah.
Don't wag your tongue so pointlessly, Oh Mullah
Sometimes you deny this man and sometimes his son.
You mock Qazvin and then mock Zanjan.
All you talk about is chicken and fesenjan.
As if you are one who eats his fill, Oh Mullah.
Don't wag your tongue so pointlessly, Oh Mullah
Sometimes you make much of mathematics
Or geometry for the sake of dividing up land.
Your writing denies the akhund and the qazi.
God forbid, you are a pious believer, Oh Mullah.
Don't wag your tongue so pointlessly, Oh Mullah
Mullah, say how to take ablutions after intercourse.
Tell the jinn-smitten how to be healed.
Or say how prayers are to be written.
Write something to summon demons, Oh Mullah.
Don't wag your tongue so pointlessly, Oh Mullah
The ship of Iran has passed danger in peace.
Don't write any more reproaches about Iran.
For the sign of constitutionalism has appeared in Iran.
We have been suddenly spared death, Oh Mullah.
Don't wag your tongue so pointlessly, Oh Mullah
Let the poison of the tyrant pass from us from now on.
Let the Shah come in kindness and treat the people well.
For no more of this can be tolerated.
All this killing has not been for the good, Oh Mullah.
Don't wag your tongue so pointlessly, Oh Mullah.
Oh Mullah, don't make so much fun of our Shah.
Don't make so much fun of our Khosraw, of Jam's station.
You're the son of a bounder, don't make fun of the tent and donkey's stables.
Don't abase this people in your journal, Oh Mullah This verse in Azeri Turkish up to here.
Don't wag your tongue so pointlessly, Oh Mullah.
Come from the Caucasus to Tabriz just for a moment.
Put your finger to your teeth in astonishment at this land of gallantry.
The goblet of the zealous is brimming with patriotism.
The people are aroused, beware, Oh Mullah.
Don't wag your tongue so pointlessly, Oh Mullah.
And then, from Tabriz, take a look at Gilan.
Take a look at their lofty enthusiasm.
Take a look at this flock of lions in Rasht.
Take heed in your magazine, Oh Mullah!
Don't wag your tongue so pointlessly, Oh Mullah.
Rasht is a plain where lions lie in wait.
A second Arzhne, A known world round.
Adored by all people and envied by kings,
By the grace of God, the world's Ruler, Oh Mullah.
Don't wag your tongue so pointlessly, Oh Mullah.
Don't be angered by this poem, for these are your qualities.
Your words are like sugar, crystalized in words.
Your poems are like rock candy.
But refrain a bit from mockery, Oh Mullah.
Your loyal friend, Ashraf, Oh Mullah.

And again,

"Javab-e Molla Nasr od-Din," Javedane, pp. 292-294.

Despite Sayyed Ashraf's complaints, many of his poems reflect a mood of pessimism towards Iran and the Iranians which parallel Molla Nasr od-Din's attitude on these matters.

A Comment on the Politics of the Discussion

The study of the relationship between Saber and Nasim-e Shomal has become the subject of a politicization which ranges from delusional to deceitful. Aryanpur has Saber, whom he had just declared to be in the chains of superstition and fanaticism, acting as a revolutionary theoretician, striving mightily to impart the lessons of the failure of the 1905 Revolution in Russia to the toiling Azerbaijani masses. Az Saba ta Nima, II:51. He later states that Sayyed Ashraf and Saber had "a single political and propagandistic agenda," Ibid.,II:64. which forces him to label as "taking liberties" the wholesale gutting of the critical intent of some of Saber's poems.

Nazem Akhundov is typical of Soviet scholarship on such subjects and makes similarly problematic claims. Thus, he considers Nasim-e Shomal's opening verse

Good news, Oh Nasim-e Shomal

For the time of unity [vasal] has arrived.

to be an indication of his "deriving inspiration from the revolutionary struggles of the people Russia, particularly those of the Caucasus."

p. 320.

Later, he completely distorts the meaning of the two poems which Sayyed Ashraf had sent to Molla Nasr od-Din, citing only the lines in which Molla Nasr od-Din is praised for its sweetness and covering up the whole point of the poem. The second poem refered to in the above section receives similar treatment.


Azarbayjan was published in Tabriz weekly for twenty-two from mid-February, 1907. It was financed by the wealthy Tabriz merchant Haj Mirza Aqa Tabrizi Boluri, a man who had financed constitution activities from the very begining. In addition to his economic interests being hurt by the weakness of the Iranian state relative to its Northern Neighbor, his position as a merchant apparently made him open to Western political ideas. Raoul Motika, Die Zeitung Azarbayjan (Tabris, 1907): Inhalt, Umfeld, Hintergrund. (Munchen, 1992), pp. 42-43. In alliance with him was the radicalized intellectual Sayyed Mohammad Shabestari "Abuz-Zia" who, through his editorship of Mojahed, we can trace ties with the Tabriz Social-Democratic organization. Someone who was both a (former) merchant and a radicalized intellectual was its later editor, 'Aliqoli Khan Safarof, who had fallen in with Mirza Aqa Khan Kermani and Jamal od-Din "Afghani"'s free-thinking, pan-Islamic and Iranian nationalist circles in Istambul. Through these names, we can trace a relationship between Azarbayjan and the group of Tabriz intellectuals around Mirza Mohammad 'Ali Khan Tarbiyat, a circle which featured the firey Majlis representative from Tabriz, Sayyed Hasan Taqizade. Ibid., p. 53. This circle can be located more precisely in the spectrum of Tabriz politics by the fact that it was in a state of permanent, if generally unspoken, tension with the more moderately constitutionalist Tabriz Anjoman, composed of the pillars of Tabriz society.

Ibid., p. 54.

The magazine borrowed many ideas from Molla Nasr od-Din. Just as Molla Nasr od-Din labled Iran as the root of the evil of opium consumption, Azarbayjan took the same poke at the city of Maraghe. #1, p. 3, #2, p. 7, #5, p. 7, #6, p. 7, #7, p. 7, #17, p. 3, #18, p. 6. Another possibility is that he is seeking revenge on Zein ol-'Abedin of Maraghe, whose Siyahatnameye Ebrahim Beh bitterly satirized life in all the cities of Azerbaijan, but showed a certain generousity to the home town.... Phony telegrams as a tool of satire was a famous device of Molla Nasr od-Din's which Azarbayjan borrowed. Another example of this is the occasional "Hekmat" column, corresponding to Molla Nasr od-Din's "Atasozlar" column, in which (supposed) popular folk wisdom is satirized. Another borrowed satirical devise is reactionary pseudoepigraphia. #11, pp., 6-7. Other running jokes borrowed was the grotesquely-named Persian newspaper (Tamalloq, Gheflat, Khab, etc.) Finally, certain pseudonyms originating from Molla Nasr od-Din are apparently borrowed in modified form (Bi-Keyf #18, "Javab-e Maktub-e Orumiye."for Keyfsiz, Bi-Khiyal #18, letter. for Hardamkhiyal)

In addition, pieces by Molla Nasr od-Din's poets are borrowed in several places. #5, p. 3. #7, p. 7, #10, p. 7 In the fifth issue, a poem satirizing popular apathy often attributed to Saber is quoted: "Howbeit the nation be plundered, so be it, what's it to me?" "Haraj va Yaghma" Mirza Jalil, who was in a position to know and had no conceivable ulterior motives in the matter, objected that this poem was not written by him, sparking some scholarly sparring on the matter. This is summed up in Mammad Mammadov, "Bir Satiranin Mo'allifi Haqqinda" in Abbas Zamanov et al. (ed.), Jalil Mammadqolizada (Maqalalar va Khatiralar Majmu'asi), (ASSR Elmlar Akademiyasi Nasrhriyyati, Baki, 1967) A translation adapted to the perspective of Iranian patriotic passions is published in the tenth and eleventh issues

On the other hand, Azarbayjan's articles were generally not of a satiric nature, and it could not be properly called a satirical journal. Rather, long, earnest articles implored the Iranians to shake off "the sleep of ignorance" and establish the institutions needed to guarantee their prosperity or denounced the various enemies of Iranian and Islam. #1, p. 5, #11, p. 2 Such cliche articles were meat for Molla Nasr od-Din's satires.

The person of the Shah is kept beyond reproach and the writers resort to the usual device of blaming his ministers. #4, p. 2. Due reverence is shown the constitutionalist mojtaheds of Najaf and Tehran, #4, p. 3, #5, p. 3, #6, p. 2 although other clerics come in for bitter criticism as the clerical estate lined up against the constitutionalists. #12, p. 6 On the other hand, Molla Nasr od-Din skewered Iran's pudgy autocrat and lambasted even the high clergy of Najaf and Karbala.

Moreover, Azarbayjan's essays in satirical were ofter rather lame, #3, p. 7.

although, there were some specimins of real wit. #5, p. 7, several places, #6, p. 6, #8, p. 7

A comparison of Azarbayjan with Molla Nasr od-Din makes it clear that the former was much more interested in the latter than the other way around. Molla Nasr od-Din only took notice of Azarbayjan once, and without naming the magazine, in the poet's duel translated below.

Azarbayjan and Molla Nasr od-Din: The Polemics

Adabiyat Mulla Nasr od-Din, II:19, May 12, 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, "œOver 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 the source of illusion blame?
Did the Baku deputy 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 Nasroddin discussed the Duma, it was to mock the Muslim deputies as backward, foolish, and representing the Muslim elite. (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 one 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 œexposing 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, "œDo 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. Original to Azarbayjan.

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.
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,"œDo not allow just anyone into our country
Do not introduce all comers to the Sacred Assembly Literally, 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, is 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 Answers

October 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. There was an Abol-Hasan Khan who 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 MND involve spinning, connoting insanity or jocularity, handy covers behind which one may shot 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, 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, beggar, and amir.
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.]

Verses Taze Hayat, October 12, 1907

O Fortunate One, spread your sorrow, pain, and suffering.
The more uncouth the kid, the better you think of him.
What would be wrong with oursampling some of your generousity, 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 rantings 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.

The standard version as it has passed into non-Soviet Iranian studies under the influence of Ahmad Kasravi's Tarikh-e Mashruteye Iran pp. 271-272. is that this exchange was strictly with Azarbayjan. Soviet Azeri scholarship understood it as an exchange with the Caucasian Azeri magazine Taze Hayat. See the historical notes in the Soviet Azeri's annotated anthology of Saber's poetry, Hup-Hup Name, Baku, 1980, p. 421-422. In fact, the latter version is more accurate. The exchange was primarily part of a longstanding rivalry between the Baku-based Hayat/Taze Hayat, dailies reflecting a more cautious attitude towards religious matters, and the more avant-guard Molla Nasr od-Din See, in particular, Hayat #190 and Molla Nasr od-Din, September 8, 1906 for an earlier exchange involving Saber and Hayat's "Gup Gup." (The Braggart)) Indeed, the first poem by Azarbayjan was largely plagiarized from an earlier poem which had appeared in Taze Hayat by one Mohammad Mohammadzade, although the second poem in this cycle seems to have been original. In short, Kasravi is unaware that this exchange was principly a duel between Mohammadzade and Sabir. That neither the Iranian and Soviet Azeri authors seem to have been unaware of the other is shown by the fact that neither is able to explain the title of Saber's last poem in the cycle, "Iki Javablare Bir Javab," An Answer to Two Answers. Of the Iranian scholars, only Rezazadeye Malek seems aware of the Soviet side, although of the first answers as they appear in Azarbayjan and Taze Hayat, he only says "Taze Hayat published an answer of similar content." Hop-hop, p. 130.

In this connection, the above-cited Jeyhoun Bey's comment on Taze Hayat is worth quoting. It

adopted an attitude of exaggerated traditionalism due on the one hand to the mentality of its publisher [Hashem Bey Vazirof] 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 movement.

Under mature social conditions, an attitude of this kind would not be regarded as a "sin" or a "crime" ... but in 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 reader in the search of new social aspirations ridiculed the rush towards liberalism, drawing the line between "young" and "old" Muhammadans, could not fail to call down the thunder of the latter on the head of its editor, Hashem Bey, who was accused not only of defending retrograde and pedantic ideas, but of attempting to divide the Azeri people against itself and cause dissentions among the elite."

'Adalalat; Mojahed

Generally, when Molla Nasr od-Din deigned to recognize the Iranian press, it was to ridicule them as pompous, ignorant, servile, flattering, parochial, fanatical, etc., etc. Two exceptions were the newspapers 'Adalat, Mojahed, and Sohbat, all associated the pioneering Tabriz liberal journalist Sayyed Hosein Khan. Thus, when 'Adalat, which he edited, was closed down, this event rated a front-page picture of Molla Nasr od-Din contemplating 'Adalat's office's sealed door, on the curb of which is written the paradoxical expression, "In a free place, there is to be no newspaper." I:33 In addition, the following polemic from 'Adalat is translated in the pages of Molla Nasr od-Din: I:30, October 27, 1906.

Things Which Annul the Fast

[....] Let's go to Tabriz and see what 'Adalat, published in the city which is considered to Center of the Islamic World and the clergy mill, says on the matter.

In the eighteenth issue of that newspaper, it asks the following question of the Muslims:

O Muslims, upon my life, tell the truth, let me see, what annuls the fast?

First, tell me, let me see, does reading newspapers annul the fast or do murder, gambling, disturbing people, usury, devilry, robbery, or picking pockets?

If these things annul the fast, then why in ninety-nine out of a hundred ases do they bother fasting? If it does not, then why does reading newspapers do so, so that the poor journalist who writes for the sake of nation and humanity and illuminates the vision receives nothing but curses in the end?

Second, tell me, let me see, does reading newspapers annul the fast or do standing behind the pulpit and telling a thousand sorts of lies about and insulting our Prophet and the pure Imams in a thousand ways?

If these lies and insults annul the fast, then why is it that in the Muslim world, the clergy in ninety-nine out of a hundred cases bothers to fast, and if it does not, why is it that reading newspapers annuls the fast, while newspapers blow a trumpet into the ears of national and realm, these having been asleep for centuries, have informed the people of their superstitions and burdens, and have made them aware of the needs of the present day?

Third, tell me, let me see, does reading newspapers annul the fast or do seizing the property of orphans and the helpless and sucking their blood?

If these things annul the fast, then why do Iran's governors and clergy and the Caucasus' masters of the clergy vainly bother to fast? If they do not annul the fast, then of what are the newspapers guilty, always entering the political fray pen in hand, risking their lives for the sake of the country's rights, standing up for and defending their country in foreign lands.

Fourth, tell me, let me see, does reading newspapers annul the fast or violating the shari'at?

If violating the shari'at annuls the fast, then why is it that oppressors, tyrants, traitors, chiefs (sic) and scholars (sic) who go about dressed as preachers and religious scholars go to the pulpit and talk about nullifications [of the fast] and present forged traditions and sayings of the Prophet, attributing them to (God forbid!) the prophets and Imams and thus playing on the masses' ignorance.

And if violating the shari'at does not nullify the fast, then why is it that newspapers do, when their sole fault lies in their opening the people's eyes of discernment so that they might distinguish friend from foe[....]

Mojahed's closure also rated a biting bit of satire: I

Vocabulary: What is Politics? II:49, December 30, 1907.

There's no disputing that none of our readers has not heard or read in the newspapers that something is a "political affair."

So we must find out what this word means.

Politics is a Greek word. In Turkish, it means saman altina su akhitmaq. In Persian, this translates to "Ab zir-e kah," "water under the straw," an expression indicating that things are not what they seem, there is something underhanded going on under the surface.

Political acts began with the kings. For example, when Iran's Shah travels to Europe, he says that it is for a rest to restore his masculine powers a bit. But all this is politics, for the Shah's principle aim is to engage the British king's mother in sighe so that he might thus become a relative of the British monarchy and call on the British army for help when it is necessary. (There's no disputing that this is all for the sake of the country and the subjects.)

After that, political cleverness spread from the king to the ministers. For example, when His Most Noble and Sublime Excellency, Prince Mirza Reza Khan Arfa' od-Dawle and his chief qoldor brothers stuff their pockets through looting the helplessly silent people of Iran of two hundred thousand rubles on the one hand, and he gives the Yerevan Anjoman two hundred kopeks charity to shut up those wretches mouths on the other hand.

This is what they call politics in Greek.

The Anjoman members also know about political action. For example, take the members of the Tabriz Anjoman. One of them, an atheist charlatan like Basir os-Saltane A pillar of Tabriz society and the Tabriz Anjoman and a conservative constitutionalist. did not like the newspaper Mojahed. And so Basir os-Saltane drew a kerchief out of his pocket and, with his comrades at his side, started weeping, "Alas for the shari'at!" When they asked him what the matter was, he wept, "What is to become of us? Mojahed wrote something mean about one of the Najaf clerics." Although it later transpired that the cleric which Mojahed had been satirizing was actually an atheist, what good did it do?

They dragged Mojahed's editor to the Anjoman and set his feet in Mullah Shokur's falaka An instrument for bastonado; Mullah Shokur's falaka has become a running joke in Molla Nasr od-Din for a particularly clever and sadistic tool of bastonado.and did what had to be done.

This, too, was political.

Finally, Sohbat's closure over the issue of women's liberation rated two editorials and a poem:

Such interest in an undoubtably interesting journalist becomes more interesting when we note what little we know of his life. Kasravi writes in an earlier draft of his history of the Iranian constitutionalist revolution: Tarikh-e Hejde Saleye Azarbayjan (serialized in Peyman), II:95-96.

Aqa Mirza Sayyed Hosein Khan had long lived in the Russian and had brought home with him a series of poisonous European ideas. When freedom arose, he took to being pointlessly outspoken and so the Anjoman closed his newspaper [Sohbat]. In those days, despite all the tumult, they knew how to deal with newspapers and not to give them a chance to talk rubbish.

Later, we learn what this "rubbish" was: Ibid., II:107. The faults refered to are evidently the mingling of women with men in public as enforced by Reza Shah.

Since Sayyed Hosein Khan had visited Russia and had enjoyed having his way with liberated women and had, with his like, mingled with some other group every time, seeking after pleasure, neglecting the consequences, as soon as the Constitution was granted and he got hold of freedom, this gentleman suddenly took up pen and wrote about women's liberation. For this reason, the constitutionalists themselves closed his newspaper and drove him from the city. We now see how it is that because of such destructive (?) talk, Iran has fallen for the foulest of faults.

Who were Sayyed Hosein's companions in Russia? Azarbayjan's comments only deepen the mystery. In returning a compliment from his journal 'Adalat, it writes: #8, p. 6

Mirza Sayyed Hseoin Khan, who spent his youth studying in foreign lands and who for some time had been comardes and on intimate terms with the renown men of culture of the Orient, the mention of whose names here is not necessary.

It seems likely that these comrades included Mirza Jalil.

Nazem Akhundov cites the memoirs of Azarbayjan editor Safarov's son forty years after the magazine had been opened and shut down. York, p. 317. A further question mark is placed over these memoirs in that the source journal, Vatan Yolu, was an organ of the Pishevari Autonomous Azerbaijan Government, and this genre of publications is rife with the most tendentious of historical interpretations. In them, he claims that his father had been a columnist for Molla Nasr od-Din under the pseudonym Khortdan (the Demon.) This is extremely unlikely: First, Azerbaijani scholarship holds that the name Khortdan is employed by Haqverdiev. Second, there seems to be no mention of any such collaboration between Molla Nasr od-Din and Azarbayjan's writers elsewhere in the scholarly or memoir literature, a rather eloquent silence. Third, in the brief passage from the memoirs cited by Akhundov, Akhundov finds another glaring error, indicating that the memoirist's memory is not particularly accurate.

Sur-e Esrafil

Sur-e Esrafil is a particularly important case because of the important role the magazine played in Iranian intellectual life. Its influence is particularly visible in the popular column written by Dehkhoda, Charand o Parand (Chitter-chatter), an influence long understood. See, e.g., the comment by Mirza Mohammad 'Ali Khan Tarbiyat as translated in Browne, The Press and Poetry of Modern Persia, p. 116: "the comic or satirical portion was inspired by the Turkish Mulla Nasr od-Din." A detailed analysis of the impact of Molla Nasr od-Din on Charand o Parand is outside the scope of this paper, but in reading over this column published in Sur-e Esrafil and comparing it with contemporaneous the material in Molla Nasr od-Din, it seems clear to me that there was very little influence in content. The cultural constraints Sur-e Esrafil's editors forced to work under would have interfered with such influence. In any case, Dehkhoda was concerned with analyzing Iranian events as they arose and when he discussed broader issues in his column, they were issues with which he himself was concerned. I could detect no clear influence from Molla Nasr od-Din in the substance of the articles.

Another investigator, A. T. Tagirdzhanof, In "Istoricheskie Korni Persidskoy Politicheskoy Satiri" (The Historical Course of Persian Political Satire), Vestnik Leningradskogo Universiteta, 1952, #8. sees more substantial similarities, but all but one of these strike me as farfetched. Of the examples he cites, I cannot accept his argument in the first that the Charand o Parand of Sur-e Esrafil #1 (May 3, 1907), which is based on a bit of Greek history Dehkhoda had picked up, demonstrates a use of folkloric material in the sense that Mirza Jalil uses it in the January 6, and March 17, 1907, issues of Molla Nasr od-Din, where he uses Turkish legends as a point of digression on a topic of social import. This is principally because Dehkhoda's reference would have been considered as obscure as Mirza Jalil's would have been considered familiar by their respective readerships. Tagirdzhanov incorrectly identifies the issues of Molla Nasr od-Din he refers to here. I would therefore tend to believe that any similarity between these two passages is superficial and reflects no similarity in technique.

Tagirdzhanof also sees the Charand o Parand of Sur-e Esrafil #16 (November 14, 1907), in which a character pokes fun at the clergy's Arabic,

as showing the influence of an exchange appearing in the May 5, 1906, issue of MND with a reader from Baku on the Russo-Tatar schools, where he parodies the Russified products of these schools. This does not convince me because the obscurity of the clergy's idiom was a common butt of the Iranian intelligentsia's jokes. Moreover, the issue of Russification is bound up with a different complex of issues.

Again, Tagirdzhanof points out that Charand o Parand lampooned the elaborate titles adorning the names of the Iranian elite in Sur-e Esrafil #20 (June 6, 1907) after Molla Nasr od-Din had done likewise in its issue of February 10, 1907. But this does not suggest a pattern of imitation. These titles had long been an object of ridicule among thoughtful Iranians. Indeed, Molla Nasr od-Din ridiculed these titles much more consistently than Sur-e Esrafil did. Titled "From Qars."

Finally, Tagirdzhanof compares the following passage from Molla Nasr od-Din, December 29, 1906:

From Marv, they write: "Thanks before God's Court that, under the protection of the soil of Iran, the peoples of our province are fortunate. We consider it necessary to report that recently from the city of Arumi came four lovely minstrels and twenty beggars, cups in hand. In addition to these, eight hundred opium addicts in felt papaks [i.e., members of the lower classes] came. The Iranian Consul disappointed the beggars and the people in the felt papaks and made those poor folk leave the city. But there was nothing to be said about the minstrels. I mean, lately, also because of Iran, all the peoples of the provinces of Turkestan have been very well-off. For example, the white-bearded people there... have a beardless boy at their side,... for God knows what purpose. But, again, God bless, they have dervishes, prayer-writers, exorcizers, diviners, and fortune-tellers."

with the following passage from the Charand o Parand of November 19, 1907:

Yes, I am worried because what I say might, little by little, be taken to mean that two hundred and twenty seven thousand pray-writers, five hundred and forty six thousand diviners, one hundred and fifty one thousand fortune-tellers, four hundred and sixty two thousand water fountain owners, professional mourners, snake-charmers, charm-readers, coffee-readers, arithromancers, and fortune-tellers might go out of business.

which he believes "touches on the same issue." He also links the above-mentioned cartoon of June 16, 1906. I do not find this comparison particularly compelling.

The matter is different when one compares influences in style of greater or lesser significance. Here, Tagirdzhanof notes that most of Dehkhoda's feuiltons in Charand o Parand are clearly influenced by those of Molla Nasr od-Din in, for example, its use of folkloric material, living dialogue in the dialect of the simple people, answering readers' letters (in Dehkhoda's case, clearly fictitious ones, in Molla Nasr od-Din, often most likely actual ones.) While I find this somewhat exaggerated, it seems clear to me that the influence is significant.

One striking example is Dehkhoda's borrowing of the names of fictitious characters. The first such is Kharmagas (The Horsefly), a clear translation into Persian of Molla Nasr od-Din's Mozalan, and Damdami, a clear borrowing Molla Nasr od-Din's Damdamaki. Islam Aqayev, "J. Mammadquluzadenin Bir Gizli Imzasi Haqqinda Ba'zi Tanqidlar" traces the use of the pen name Damdamaki in the Azeri press, which he finds was first used there in MND, 1906, issue #3, in a letter titled "Bakida Damdamakiye" (Baku to Damdamaki) in which the editor is refered to by this name while being berated by a (probably fictional) resident of Baku for his recklessness and was apparently appropriated by at least one other writer. See . It should, however, be added that Dehkhoda came up with his own characters, such as Sag-e Hasan-e Dalle (Schnorer Hasan's Dog), Gholam Gada Azad Khan 'Ali Allahi, etc. For a role-call of these characters, see #14, September 19, 1907. Sag-e Hasan Dalle, who makes his appearance in #3, June 13, 1907, might be seen as paralleling one of Molla Nasr od-Din's few passages in Persian, where a character is titled Saglar-sag (Dog of Dogs) of Rasht is mentioned in Molla Nasr od-DIn II:2:7, January 13, 1907. In any case, these characters disappear after a few issues in Charand-e Parand, while their Caucasian counterparts became mainstays of their magazine. Another difference in this regard between Charand-e Parand and Molla Nasr od-Din is that the pseudonyms in the former actually represent specific fictitious characters with distinct personalities, e.g., Sag-e Hasan-e Dalle representing a shameless mercenary. In Molla Nasr od-Din, however, the pseudonyms represent one or more writers.

Another example of this cited by Tagirdzhanov is the editorial committee meetings consisting of the members, real and fictional, of their respective staffs. The September 8, 1906, Tagirdzhanov writes that this meeting occured in issue #23 of that year, erroneously claiming that this was published in November 8, 1906. This feature appeared in other issues of Molla Nasr od-Din; see #16, July 21, 1906. issue of Molla Nasr od-Din features a round-table discussion of its staff concerning the burning issue of in what language religious education should be taught in the government-sponsored schools for Muslim boys. Charand o Parand, in Sur-e Esrafil #15 (November 6, 1907), carried a "Provisional Council of the Sur-e Esrafil Editorial Board," hitting on the issues of the day more or less at random. Here, this aspect of the style could reasonably be considered a borrowing from Molla Nasr od-Din, although again, the substance was uniquely Dehkhoda's.

He also note a few other minor similarities (comparing MND's Adabiat [Literature] column with Sur-e Esrafil's Charand o Parand and the forms of address which head letters to Molla Nasroddin himself ("Ay Molla 'Amu," "Ay Molla Dai," etc.) with the style Dehkhoda has himself addressed in (invariably "Kerblai").

Finally, there is the poem Dehkhoda composed to Molla Nasr od-DIn in the style of Saber. (See Appendix II.)

Thus, if I cannot agree with the Azerbaijani poet Shahryar's claim that Sur-e Esrafil was born of Molla Nasr od-Din, Sited in Sardarnia, Samad, Mashahir-e Azarbayjan (Tabriz, 1991), p. 559. it is clear that the latter had left its mark on the former.

Ruh ol-Qodos

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