The Mullah and the Commissar:

Molla Nasr od-Din in the Land of the Soviets

The satirical weekly Mulla Nasr ud-Din (founded 1906, Tbilisi) was an outspoken champion of Westernization as the solution to the problems faced by Caucasian Muslims. Written chiefly by members of the class of highly assimilated Muslims who had been integrated into the Tsar's administrative apparatus, the articles in this journal expressed acute pain for the suffering of the common Muslims combined with a sense of revulsion for their brutality and backwardness. Salvation could only come from outside and above this class of people. And come it did, in the form of the Russian revolutions of 1917. This article examines the complex reactions of this journal's editor, Mirza Jalil Muhammadquluzada, to the October revolution and its impact on the fate of the Azerbaijanis/Caucasian Muslims.

Mulla Nasr ud-Din's Anti-Politics

In a another paper, Evan Siegel, "An Azerbaijani Poet's Duel over Iranian Constitutionalism" in Michael Ursinus, Raoul Motika, & Christoph Herezog (eds.), "Presse und Offentlichkeit im Nahen Osten (Istanbul: ISIS Yayinlari, 2000). we demonstrated, using the example of Mulla Nasr ud-Din's Duma politics, that Mirza Jalil and his comrades felt that political struggle was a diversion from the task of educating and morally reviving the Caucasian Muslims, since they were at present too backward to understand politics. To take just one example, the boycott of the First Duma elections called by the Polish nation is contrasted to the attitude of the Caucasian Muslims: Unsigned, "Mulla Nasr ud-Dinin Telegramlari (Dawlat Dumasina Baykot)," April 14 [27], 1906, I, 2.

Warsaw--April 13. The Poles are "boycotting" the State Duma, i.e., they are not participating in the elections. The campaigning around the elections (or, as the case may be, the boycott of same), was by now in full swing. Much of the liberal and leftist opposition was in favor of a boycott. "In Warsaw, virtually all workers stayed away from the polls." Abraham Ascher, The Revolution of 1905 (Stanford University Press, Stanford, 1992), II, 49.

Tbilisi--April 4. The Muslims are boycotting the State Duma like the Poles. They have torn the ballot boxes from the walls saying, "Why are those fools making the people's walls impure?" A reference to the Shi`ite belief that contact with the moisture of an infidel and, by extension, anything which comes in contact with an infidel, renders a believer impure. The reference to a Muslim boycott is probably a satirical fiction; although Muhammad Amin Rasulzada called for a boycott in the pages of Ä°rshad, the chief Muslim political leaders had decided to ally with the Constitutional Democrats by mid-January 1906, and six Caucasian Muslims were elected. Tadeusz Swietochowski, Russian Azerbaijan, 1905-1920, pp. 49-50.

As the weeks went by, the Duma was not covered for its own sake, but to satirize the vices plaguing Muslim society, Thus, Mulla Nasr ud-Din takes a swipe at much of the Islamic clergy's reactionary attitude towards liberalism when it reports that the Islamic judge of Jamad presented "a very important epistle" in which he "expressed the hope that since freedom and the electoral principle are impermissible according to the Muslim shariat, they not allow themselves to look at the lying press and grant the Muslims freedom." ("Telegramlar," April 21 [May 4], 1906, I, 3) or when it has the Muslim clergy praying for the defeat of the Duma just as they prayed for the defeat of "pagan" Japan during the Russo-Japanese war (Zalibeyov, "E`lamnama," June 23 [July 6], 1906, I, 12. Similarly, under "Qafqaz Khabarlari," June 14 [27], 1906, I, 15 on the occasion of the Duma's dissolution.) Again, he uses the Duma elections to satirize what he sees as Muslim apathy, misogyny, pederasty, etc. (Laghlaghi, "Dovlat Dumasina Vakil Sechgisi," May 12 [25], 1906, I, 6) or obscurantism ("Dovri-Jadid," May 19 [June 1], 1906, I, 7) or deference to authority ("Nasihat," June 16 [29], 1906, I, 11).

The most political this journal gets is to satirize the worthlessness of the Duma deputies (see the two articles on Tbilisi's `Ali Mardan bey Tupchibashi in June 9 [22], 1906.)

and its dissolution provoked a yawn and a chuckle from Mirza Jalil. "Na Ilamak?," July 21 [August 3], 1906, I, 16. The Tsar dispersed the First Duma on July 8 [21], 1906.

This apolitical attitude earned Mulla Nasr ud-Din a revealing rebuke in the pages of the formally much more conservative Taza Hayat. There, "A Mullah" argued: Bir Mulla, "Mulla Nasr ud-Din Majmu`asindan 23mji numrasinde Yazilan Hijablarasindaki Suzlara Javab," July 14 [27], 1907, I, 74. This article was a polemic against Mulla Nasr ud-Din's advanced views on women's rights, this being what the author had termed divisive. Written after the Second Duma was dissolved and the Tsar proposed the convocation of a Third Duma from which non-Russians would be largely excluded and Russian chauvinists given a built-in advantage, the author was stressing the need to rally a united Muslim force to respond effectively. And so the issue of a conflict between the struggle against a native patriarchy versus a struggle against foreign but relatively enlightened patriarchy was posed. It would not be the last time.

An editor who was a friend of the people would discuss how a people of thirty million is deprived of its rights every day and would get that people to win its rights. While all of Russia has been turned into a battlefield in which different forces clash over political rights, you fill the columns of your magazine with meaningless articles and sow dissension among the people.

Dear editor, in June [July], the Second Duma was closed and in November, it was announced that the Third Duma was to be convened. But in the new electoral regulations, it was announced that the non-Russian nationalities [line partially illegible] would have their voting rights restricted. For this reason, the wise of each nationality and each party and the leaders of each nationality gathered to discuss the Third Duma and decide what to do about it and then call on that nationality or party to act as decided. But you wrote absolutely nothing about this and, thanks to friends of the people like yourselves, we Muslims know nothing and look on in bewilderment and do not know what to do about the Third Duma.

Mirza Jalil's attitude towards the common Muslims is laid out explicitly in an answer to two letters that appeared in Mulla Nasr ud-Din in 1911.

Oh my dear brothers! I opened your letters and read them. I am utterly content with both of you. I am proud that you do not just look at the journal's cartoons and throw it away, but look at what I have written inside and even, having read it, go a little into the issues involved. But a hundred times alas, there is a problem between us and I'm very worried that it will cut us off from each other. In other words, it is very likely that your policy will change and you will stop reading our journal. Here's the reason. In both your letters, you advise Your Servant to stay away from certain matters, for otherwise, the common people [`avam jama`at] will flee from reading our journal. Even in the letter from Marv it says, "The common people show a great interest in subscribing to your journal and reading it, but what's the use? These issues prevent them!"

Let it be submitted to both our brothers that in the past, such letters have reached our office from many people. We have heard such advice from a great many friends and we have experienced the way our touching on certain topics has cooled the market for our journal. It's obvious to us that the issues we write about are not understood by the common people, nor can they be; we know this full well. But we don't know what we would write about if we didn't write about all this!

Each person has a belief, every journal has a policy, every writer has a subject. Otherwise, this work would be [for "not be"] useless. One could never tell a poet, "Don't write about this, write about that." One could not tell an editor, "Change your policy." One could not tell a thinker, "Abandon your beliefs and accept mine."

I make so bold as to tell my brothers from Marv and from [Teymur Khan] Shora that I am sorry about these same common people. I hoped that this same common people would like my journal. But, alas, this was not to be. If issues in my journal don't please the common people, this is not surprising, for at this point, a journal[ist] who would not sell his policies for a bit of money and writes what he thinks from the bottom of his heart will not please the common people. [Mirza Jalil's italics.]

We are very grateful to our brothers from Teymur Khan Shora and Marv; setting rules for our magazine for the sake of subscribers is proof of your love for us, for the problem of getting subscribers is the most important of problems for a magazine. But we once more make bold to say that it is impossible for us to change policies for the sake of subscriptions. XXXXXXXXXXXXXX We'll write the same way we've been writing for six years and we confirm a thousand times what we've written over the passed six years.

Let it be submitted to our dear brothers from Marv and Teymur Khan Shora that we have nothing to do with the common people; the common people do not read gazettes, do not read journals, do not study, do not read books.

Look here, our schools are empty, our reading rooms are empty, the common people not only don't read Mulla Nasr ud-Din, which touches on "certain" issues, but don't read gazettes which don't touch on such issues!

If a journal [adopting] sacrosanct policies would cause its subscription list to lengthen, that bunch of journals which teach Jame`-e `Abbas in their pages would have their fame reach unto Hindustan. But no, it is not so. The people's zeal [himmat] has never throughout history been good for anything.

The zeal [gheirat] of Mulla Nasr ud-Din 's two or three thousand cothinkers cannot be found among our three hundred million common brothers, and inasmuch as we have gathered around us a readership which will be true for all time, this suffices for us and this shows that our journal will survive.

We declare our hope to those like the `urafa of Teymur Khan Shora and Marv: We hope that, if a freeloader like the marsiyekhan Qasim bey dupes a few of the common people and says that Mulla Nasr ud-Din's aim is to attack the Faith, one of our friends will instantly tell those common people that Mulla Nasr ud-Din's aim is neither to attack the Faith nor to create a new religion.

Mulla Nasr ud-Din 's aim is to work to abolish savage customs.

Be well, our discerning readers! There is no hope in the common people.

Mulla Nasr ud-Din and Socialism before 1917

In spite of the plain sense of the journal's articles, much ink has been spilled trying to demonstrate that Mulla Nasr ud-Din was either a socialist journal (according to Iranian leftist historiography) or in the orbit of the Bolsheviks (according to Soviet Stalinist historiography) or both. Examples of the former can be multiplied at will. We'll suffice it to quote the following from the Persian academic journal Alef-Ba: A. Rahim, "Molla Nasr od-Din va Molla Khasr od-Din," Alef-Ba, Winter 1982-83, p. 87.

Muhammadquluzada was born in 1866 in Nakhchevan. He completed his elementary education in a mullah's school. In 1877, he was sent to an Iranian village. There is no indication that Mirza Jalil ever in his childhood set foot in Iran after his parents left with him. It was during this period that he composed his first play, The Tea Set. In 1890, he was sent By the Tsarist authorities, as a teacher. to one of the villages in Nakhchevan. The Events in Danabash, The Khan's Prayer-beads, and The Raisin Game were the fruits of this period. Mirza Jalil wrote The Khan's Prayer-beads while he was traveling from the Caucasus to Iran in 1920. (Hamida, Mirza Jalil, p. 74.) After his return to Baku, he began his political activity along with other writers as a journalist. He never "returned" to Baku because he had never lived there up to that time. After working as a village teacher, he settled in Tbilisi. There is no record he had ever engaged in "political activity." He joined the Social Democratic Party. Even Soviet sources do not claim this. He developed his plans for Mulla Nasr ud-Din in the course of the 1905 revolution and produced its first issue in February 1906. April 1906. In 1908 he went to Iran. Not true. Mirza Jalil went to Iran in 1920. He published eight issues of the newspaper in Tabriz. This occurred in 1921. His play, The Dead, was produced in that same city. His newspaper office was subject to attack under the instigation of the mullahs and by the Tsarist police. Muhammadquluzada had to take refuge underground several times. Mirza Jalil had to hide from mobs of Muslims who had been infuriated by articles challenging women's status under the shariat as then understood. There is no indication that the Tsarist police had instigated attacks on the journal's offices. Muhammadquluzada was seen at the side of the Bosheviks during the October Revolution. Mirza Jalil's articles in Mulla Nasr ud-Din as well as the memoir literature testify to Mirza Jalil's utter lack of interest in the Bolsheviks or their revolution. See, for example, his wife's memoirs of him, Hamida Mammadquluzada, Mirza Jalil Haqqinda Khatiralarim (hereafter Hamida, Mirza Jalil) (Baku, Ganjlik, 1981), p. 61, where the revolution is mentioned strictly en passant.

Prominent Soviet Azeri Mulla Nasr ud-Din scholar Aziz Mirahmadov, in his introduction to the first of a projected multi-volume collection of Mulla Nasr ud-Din, states that "Marxist-Leninist ideas and the Bolshevik press played a major role in the formation of the revolutionary-democratic social-creative intellectual current whose central organ was Mulla Nasr od-Din." "Azarbayjan Ma`navi Madaniyyatinin Boyuk Abedi" in Aziz Mirahamadov (ed.), Mulla Nasraddin vol. I (hereafter MN I) (Baku: Elm, 1988), p. 4. He then quotes the History of the Azerbaijani Communist Party (1958) as stating that "because the Caucasian Bolsheviks saw how close Muhammadquluazada's efforts were to revolutionary Social Democracy in 1905 and because he participated in the Bolshevik journal Kavkazski Rabochi Listok, they became certain that his realistic creative works would be important and valuable and so saw it necessary to draw him towards them" by, for example, striking up friendships with members of his circle. During the October Revolution, the "Mulla Nasr ud-Dinites" provided an example of those of whom Lenin said, "they accepted the Social Democratics' entire democratic program without having Social Democratic feelings."

The articles from Kavkazski Rabochi Listok referred to above called on the Muslim toilers of the Caucasus to stand in solidarity with the despised Iranian immigrants who had left their country only to feed their families. Kavkazski Rabochi Listok November 24 and December 5, 1905, Nos. 3 and 13, presented in Azeri translation in Aziz Mirahamadov and Turan Hasanzada (ed.), Jalil Mammadquluzada Asarlari (hereafter Asarlari) VI, 23-24. These earnest pieces of simple propaganda might profitably be compared with a satiric piece of Mirza Jalil's published a few weeks later, Iranda Hurriyat, November 23, 1906. Asarlari I, 109-124. . in which the Iranian immigrant protagonist is portrayed as a bounder who has fled Iran and was spending his money on a second wife.

There is no substantial evidence that Mirza Jalil was affected by socialist ideas in his ideological formation. In her memoirs of Mirza Jalil, his wife, Hamida Khanum, lists Marx as one of his influences. But the reference appears in passing and can be dismissed as merely de rigour; as we will see, the founder of scientific socialism is conspicuous by his absence in Mirza Jalil's work.

More significant is Hamida Khanum's recollection of his participation in a rally in which red banners flew. Hamida, Mirza Jalil, p. 16. This jibes with a piece which is reliably attributed to Mirza Jalil appearing in Hayat, No. 95, November 6, 1905, reprinted in Asarlari VI, 21-23. in which the author argues that an article accusing Muslims of being against the insurgent labor movement is based on prejudice and that everyone ignores the freedom-loving Muslims. He reports on a rally of Muslims supporting this movement that was followed by a march with red banners flying. However, the thrust of the article was to defend the Muslims against the charge of being in league with the Russian hooligan elements mobilized against the progressive forces.

Indeed, we can see that Mirza Jalil came under the influence of the revolutionary agitation which swept the Russian Empire while the revolution was in high tide. The first year of Mulla Nasr ud-Din carried material which reflected the class warfare of the period. Articles and cartoons championed the cause of striking workers and attacked the arrogance of bosses. A front-page cartoon and poem shows Mullah Nasr ud-Din as the protector of the poor (MND June 2, 1906 (I, 9) in MN I, 81). The brutality with which a strike is broken up is depicted in MND June 7, 1906 (I, 14) in MN I, 124, illustrating a poem written for the workers who dared raise their heads and claim their humanity. ("Baku Fahlalarina," same issue, in MN I, 126; the next page features a short but very clever satire along the same lines.) See also MND November 24, 1906 (I, 34) in MN I, 288, in which the Muslim poor of Baku are shown watching the wealth created in the oil fields and ports and MND April 21, 1907 (I, 16) in MN I, 456, in which class oppression is satirized. The idea of Muslim unity or obedience to one's "betters" is ridiculed. MND June 16, 1906 (I, 11) in MN I, 100. The Baku oil tycoon Zain ol-`Abedin Taqiev comes in for some vitriolic satire, MND June 23, 1906 (I, 12), Bashiqapazli, "Caucasian News, Baku" and anon., "Shamakhidan Maktub" and Damdamaki, "E`teraz," July 14, 1906 (I, 15) in MN I, 106-107 and 134-135, respectively. although the class aspect of this attack is mitigated by the fact that he was bankrolling Mirza Jalil's competition and, in general, had integrated himself into the old social elite which was Mirza Jalil's favorite target.

In general, Mulla Nasr ud-Din stood with the poor and the downtrodden and expressed its revulsion against the old upper classes--the khans, the beys, the mullahs, the merchants, etc. Cartoons show, for example, the piteous beggar being turned away from the wealthy reveler MND May 26, 1906 (I, 8), September 15, 1906 (I, 24), October 27, 1906 (I, 30), February 24, 1907 (II, 8), March 3, 1907 (II, 9), December 9, 1907 in MN I, 76-77, 204, 256, 389, 400, 696 respectively. or being literally ridden over by the social elite. MND November 10, 1906 (I, 32) and September 24, 1907 in MN I, 269 and 612-613, respectively. Relations between landlord and peasant are also depicted in allegorical cartoons which leave little to the imagination. MND August 4, 1906 (I, 18), March 3, 1907 (II, 9) in MN I, 160, 393, respectively. The journal campaigned for the starving Muslims left behind by the communal slaughter of the previous years. However, much of this writing has the polemical thrust of the satirizing Caucasian Muslim culture at least as much as denouncing the suffering and exploitation of the Muslim poor. Thus, the timidity of the Muslims faced with exploitation is satirized, Hambal [Porter], "Hamshahri Shobati," MND Autust 18, 1906 (I, 20) in MN I, 174-175. as is the reactionary view of the Muslims at large towards the prevailing labor and social agitation. Tarraqa, "Shakida Mo`juza," MND December 1, 1906 (I, 35) in MN I, p. 291, where strikers are ridiculed by the common Muslims, or in 1906, when Muslim deferentialness is satirized. The agitation for the relief of the starving Muslims can equally be read as an attack on the lack of public spirit in Muslim culture as compared with that of the Muslims' Armenian neighbors.

The Tsarist government's red-baiting is satirized from time to time. There is the running joke: Don't blush In Azeri, qizarmirsan, "don't turn red." or you'll get busted. Anon., "Bir Para Hikmatli Danishiqlar," MND April 28, 1906 (I, 4) in MN I, p. 47. In another piece, it is said that if one quarter of a village massacres another one, the Russians will not be upset because the people of the latter quarter are "sitsal demokrat." Muzhdachi, "Musalman Siyezdi," MND October 20, 1906 (I, 29) in MN I, p. 243. But such comments are relatively rare.

Indeed, after the 1905 Russian revolution, the subject of socialism is noticeable in Mulla Nasr ud-Din by its virtual absence. It should be recalled that the journal was published in Tbilisi, a city that had a formidable socialist workers and peasants movement before and during the revolution. Moreover, these rare references were often either used to highlight the ignorance of the common Muslims or was outright hostile towards the socialist movement.

Thus, in discussing the active boycott declared by revolutionary organizations of the elections to the Second Duma, Mulla Nasr ud-Din reports Unsigned, "Mulla Nasr ud-Dinin Telegramlari (Dawlat Dumasina Baykot)," April 14 [27], 1906, I, 2. that a band of smugglers who are boycotting the elections and have snuck into a field. There, they killed one Pristav Muhammadbeyov and some other government agents and wounded others screaming their hatred for the Duma. The news note concludes, "They say these smugglers were socialists and supporters of freedom." Again, a cartoon published in 1910 shows a man desperately running after a thief who has made off with some of his property. The caption reads (in Russian) "Social Democrat".

In one curious piece, Mullah Nasr ud-Din asks a magnate (a'yan) for whom he would vote. The reply came, "What kind of talk is this, Mullah? We're going to vote for the Social Democrats, of course." anon, "So'al va Javab," Mulla Nasr ud-Din (hereafter, MND), November 10, 1906 (I, 32) in MN I, 270. The prominence of notables or would-be notables in the ranks of Caucasian Muslim socialism would once more come in for satire in Mirza Jalil's writings under the Soviets.

As for mentions of socialism in the course of satirizing common Muslim ignorance of politics, we have a piece which pokes fun at a khan's ignorance and apathy concerning the elections. He is made to comment on some youths who were trying to give him electoral propaganda,

I asked one or two people [about them] and they said, "These are sosyal." Others say, "These are demegrand."

By God, I just don't get it.

Vulgar anti-socialism is satirized, too. In an anonymous poem, a conservative father is quoted as saying that if his son gets a secular education, "he will either become a sasal or a demokrat." Yaramaz, "Ata Nasihati," August 25, 1906 (I, 21) in MN I, 178-179. Another pokes fun at what it calls prominent Tatar journalist Isma`il Bey Gasprinskii's Tarjuman's fatwa, in which he denounces five Muslim Duma deputies for "abandoning Islam and embracing the labor faith." Mulla Nasr ud-Din, "Tarjumanin Fatvasi," MND April 28, 1907 (II, 17) in MN I, 458.

Mulla Nasr ud-Din carried only passing mentions of the Bolshevik Armenian-Turkish journal Qoch-Da`vat. In one reference, it is the source of information on peacemaking between Muslims and Armenians; Kharbarchi, "Aghdam," MND June 23, 1906 (I, 12) in MN I, 107. in the other, its demise due to a lack of funds is reported in a mock obituary. M. M., "Tahsil-e `Elm," MND August 18, 1906 (I, 20) in MN I, 170-171. Another leftist journal, Yoldash, is shown as a victim of the slaughter of the progressive press at the hands of the reactionaries. MND November 11, 1907 (II, 42) in MN I, 660-661.

The paucity of mentions of socialism in Mulla Nasr ud-Din cannot have been simply a result of police repression. Socialism and the vicissitudes of the socialist parties was constantly discussed in the Caucasian Muslim press. The "Young Turk" Irshad boasted a column by Muhammad Amin Rasulzada in which revolutionary and socialist agitation was carried out quite openly. Even the formally conservative Taza Hayat carried articles on the progress of the socialist parties and analytic pieces by authors who were clearly socialist in orientation at least through 1907, when Mulla Nasr ud-Din lost whatever interest it had in the subject. Moreover, Mulla Nasr ud-Din carried numerous articles satirizing such obnoxious figures as the powerful Piotr Arkadevich Stolypin Anon., "Ustalipin," MND March 3, 1907 (II, 9) in MN I, 398, Sharbat od-Dawla, "Khariji Khabarlar," MND April 14, 1907 (II, 15) in MN I, 447. without apparent repercusions.

In the later years, Mirza Jalil had occasion to mention socialism a few other times, before the rise of the revolutions of 1917 changed the political terrain. In 1909, he sniped at the Iranian political parties in general and, in passing, the e`tedaliyun or socialists. Iranians, he said, don't even "distinguish between mashrute and mashru`e, and it's very good that they don't, for even those who do make the distinction themselves don't know the difference." Continuing, he writes, "In Germany there was Marx. This very Marx it was who is considered the father of the doctrine of the Social Democrats [ejtema`iyun `amiyun]. Truly, what has not happened in Iran? It no way lags behind Germany!" It is this article in which, according to Ibrahimov, Mirza Jalil "mentions Marx's name with respect." Its obvious point was to satirize Iranian political pretension. See his introduction to Mirza Jalil's collected works, "Dahi Yazichinin Adabi Irsi," Asarlari I, xxiv.

There are two other mentions of socialism in this period. In the course of a series of articles about Italy's attacks on North Africa, he mentions at one point a demonstration by Italian Socialists against this aggression. Mulla Nasr ud-Din, "Qan Hamami," MND October 30, 1911 (38) in Asarlari IV, 144. In the other, in a series of satirical one-liners about the woes facing the Caucasian Muslim nobility which are driving them to drink, he says, "If the khans don't get drunk, they'll read the speeches of a handful [lut-mut]of Social Democrats in the Duma and shoot themselves dead." Mulla Nasr ud-Din, "Keyflanmak," MND November 6, 1911 (39) in Asarlari IV, 147.

Mulla Nasr ud-Din in the Age of Revolution

After several years in which Mulla Nasr ud-Din had all but disappeared, it resurfaced in February 1917, just before the toppling of the Tsar. It is interesting that in the first issue of this new series, while not himself evincing any patriotic impulses, Mirza Jalil likens the neutrals in World War I to his rivals on the language question in their lack of zeal (gheirat) Mulla Nasr ud-Din, "Gheyrat," MND February 16, 1917 (2) in Asarlari IV, 196. and, later, to a corrupt sheikh. ibid., IV, 198.

The fall of the Tsar is greeted in the next issue with the following essay: Mulla Nasr ud-Din, "Mubarakbadliq," MND March 9, 1917 (5) in Asarlari V, 201.

In short, some time ago, a group of tyrants gathered and appointed a chief for themselves and rode on the people's backs, not even giving them a chance to catch their breath. Finally, it happened that the sighs of the tyrannized reached the vaults of heaven.

Yes, times have changed. The king has been dethroned, his ministers imprisoned, and the people have chosen their own ministers and have begun to run the country according to their own tastes.

The nationalities have been liberated. I wanted to extend my sincere congratulations to all my readers, I wanted to open my mouth--and then my heart broke.

To whom shall I extend my congratulations on this occasion? As one of those who celebrate the liberation of nations, how can I speak to those who are not [free]? Yes, freedom is good, but for whom and from whom?

Our Muslim society is composed of various classes. For some of these classes, this revolution was indeed a great No Ruz. But in all fairness, we should say that these events are a very black occasion.

My brothers, let's take a look and see who our bosses are. Is it fair for the workers to put their hopes in the millionaires? Today, they installed a new chief of the bazaar. Who? Someone with not a scrap of expertise, one of God's servants I.e., a pious Muslim. whose name has been brought up among the notables (a`yan).

Well, so this is freedom!

Brother, in fairness, the kids are crying in the streets for equality. Well, what is equality and how could any of our notables and khans tolerate it?

Now, consider these chinovniks who, when they go to mosque once a year on the Tsar's anniversary, don't want to be like the Muslims even in God's house. How can these poor people tolerate it now that they are orphaned by their dear Tsar?!

And how about the akhunds with their medals [presented by the Tsar]? What are these poor creatures to do?!

In addition, how many utterly ignorant fathers and mothers, sects and tariqas are there among us. Not only are they not to be congratulated, . No, let God make them patient, patient!

Let's say that some day, our children take them by the collar and reckon with them the same way the Russian ministers were reckoned with. But now that we've said this, our prayer to the Lord of the Universe is that on that day, He will gladden our esteemed readers and give our bosses patience.

This essay is very confused. At first, the author seems to be giving a Marxist class analysis of the revolution and complains that it has not gone far enough. But then he expresses an ironic "pity" for the Tsarist officers and their lackeys among the clergy for their sudden loss in status due to the revolution. Finally, he expresses hope that the next generation will break the power of these same people. In any case, the problem is no longer with "millionaires": the masters of wealth are mentioned only fleetingly. Rather, it is with those who spread superstition and ignorance. It is on this class of people whom Mirza Jalil would focus his wrath in the years to come.

The key to understanding Mirza Jalil's lack of enthusiasm for the February Revolution is to recall that as far as he was concerned, the tyranny that he lived under was that of the ignorance and backwardness of the common Muslims, i.e., he was struggling against the tyranny the masses exercised over the enlightened minority. In this regard, the [February] revolution did not bring freedom: the intellectuals still felt compelled to participate in the self-flagellation ceremonies of Muharram Mulla Nasr ud-Din, "Azadiyi Vijdan," MND October 18, 1917 (20) in Asarlari IV, 218-9. and practice dissimulation and demagogy. This was how the masses' ignorance was imposing its own tyranny. Ibid.

In the next issue of Mulla Nasr ud-Din, Mirza Jalil comments Mulla Nasr ud-Din, "Khoshbakhtlik," MND March 16, 1917 (6) in Asarlari IV, 202-203. on how fortunate the Muslims are: All the things the West came up with, we get for free. Continuing in this vein, he says:

Now consider this matter of the new government. There can be no doubt that from now on, we Muslim brothers will be among the free nationalities. But you will admit that the others didn't get this freedom for free. It is well known that things reached this point by thousands of people sacrificing their lives in Moscow, Petersburg, etc., with rivers of blood flowing, aside from all the other trials and tribulations suffered.

But ultimately, the fruits of this ease and freedom will reach us, and how can they not? The free nationalities of course cannot forget us, for we are the most fortunate of nationalities.

Aside from satirizing Foreign Minister Pavel Nikolayevich Miliukov's threats to attack Turkey and liberate Constantinople, Mulla Nasr ud-Din, "Boghaz Masalasi," MND March 30, 1917 (8) in Asarlari IV, 204 and "Bambililar," MND October 11, 1917 (19) in Asarlari IV, 216-7. In the latter, he exclaims that Russia cannot even defend its own borders against Germany, but eyes Turkey. most of his barbs are now aimed at his fellow Muslims. When Muslims of the former Russian Empire held a qurultai or assembly in April, Mirza Jalil held them up to ridicule. Mulla Nasr ud-Din, "Zanjir-i Muqaddas," MND May 5, 1917 (11) in Asarlari IV, 204-6. They behaved as if "it was no one but the Baku qurultai which won freedom for Russia. Hurray for the people's leaders. Hurray for the solists [socialists] of Baku and Shamakhi. Hurray for the infidel republic. Hurray for Jame`-e `Abbas-style liberty!" But, Mirza Jalil adds, he weeps for the women who have no other way to flee their husbands but to kill themselves, while their husbands can and do divorce them at will. He concludes,

Beware, beware! Careful, lest our solist comrades hear the crying of our women and girls who have been given into marriage at the age of nine.

They will ask, "Comrade Muslims, what do want with freedom? What do you have to do with equality?"

I am afraid we will be ashamed.

I am very afraid.

Mulla Nasr ud-Din after the October Revolution

In an article that appeared in the first issue of Mulla Nasr ud-Din to appear after the October revolution, Mirza Jalil chose to satirize the prevalence of beys among the Social Democrats. He pondered the issue: "should I remain a bey and give up this Social Democratic business [sosyal-demokratikligdan-zad]; this, too, is impossible, for how can I sell my politics for a phoney bey-title?" He decided to have it both ways and register for the elections as "Social Democrat Mullah Nasr ud-Din bey." After all, "not only do our writers and nationalists falsely call themselves beys and put on airs, but Social Democrats, who are the enemies of the beys and want to support the peasants against the beys also call themselves beys, rightly or wrongly, and boast about it." Mulla Nasr ud-Din, "Qondarma Baylar," MND November 20, 1917 (23) in Asarlari IV, 221.

No class issues were taken up in any of the articles Mirza Jalil published in the two issues of Mulla Nasr ud-Din which appeared between the time of the October revolution and the beginning of the journal's temporary closing later that year.

Mulla Nasr ud-Din's willful lack of attention to politics in this period did not go unnoticed by its readers. Thus, in one article, Mulla Nasr ud-Din, "Arvadbazliq," MND June 14, 1917 (14) in Asarlari IV, 211. Mirza Jalil notes that his journal has been receiving complaints from across Caucasian Azerbaijan. These

complaints are not about an unimportant matter. If this issue is not examined soon, it will go badly for the Muslims.

The critics write: A revolution has occurred and we [Mulla Nasr ud-Din] don't talk about it. Freedom of religion has been declared, and we don't talk about it. In some places, our akhunds are looked at coolly, and we don't talk about it. But everything goes according to a rule. If it doesn't, if a man doesn't understand his duty, if the obscene goes beyond bounds, then indeed it is hard to be patient.

The issue is the women question.

One of the critics writes from one of the cities that,

One week, the Tbilisi government sent to our district what they call a XXXXXXXXX. He's a big XXXXX Muslim. He's learned Russian well and speaks with us half in Russian and half in Muslim [Azeri Turkish]. But the difficulty was what I'm about to relate: Mr. Representative reported that the elders were to assemble, and so they did. The first word out of Mr. Representative to us was that we should elect a komitet and that all the women should also gather here, just as the men.

We answered Mr. Representative and told him, "Mr. Representative (his name was So-and-so bey), sure, Mr. Representative. Give us a three-day reprieve."

"Why three days?"

"It will take three days."

"What will take three days?"

We spelled it out for him. We submitted to Mr. Representative that, thank God, we're Muslims and could not allow our women to gather here. Our sense of honor would not permit it. But on one condition would we allow that they participate in the elections and vote, and that is that we should first divorce our wives. This is what will take three days, for we only have one prikhod mullah.

In short, we couldn't make the issue any more plain. The complainers have named the question well. They call it "womanizing" [arvadbazliq].

For my part, I say that any place where women are absent is a wasteland. Any place where women's voices are absent is a desert. But, to be fair, this is a kind of womanizing. What does this have to do with anything? You want to make a revolution, make one. You want to elect a komitet, elect one. Who's telling you not to? You want to elect a Duma, elect one. If you're a proper fellow, what do you have to do with women?

By God, that is womanizing.

Mirza Jalil fundamentally did not think that the common Muslims were prepared for political freedom, although this was not usually explicitly stated. A relatively direct expression of this can be found in the following passage of an article of his:

[T]he Muslim brother has enemies left and right, his neighbor, his relatives, even his own brother is his enemy. God damn the old government, it would not let a man live freely and take revenge on his enemy. You'd only have to bloody someone's nose or sink a little into someone's belly a sword or even a little knife and they'd descend on you right away and loot your pockets and seize your last shred of property and either hang you by your neck or tear down your house. But now, thank God, the new [Provisional] government's commissars are preoccupied and one has the opportunity to do what one can.

. In the village of Qarghali in Yerevan, during this year of freedom, eighteen Muslims shot and killed eighteen Muslim brothers. In the villages of Javanshir, Ganja, during this year since freedom was granted, two thousand four hundred Muslims have been wounded. In Baku, during the days of liberty, immeasurable blood has flowed over honor. The other Muslim regions have become such battlefields that the likes of it have never been seen in history.

Along these lines, when Mulla Nasr ud-Din reappeared in Tabriz in 1920 (see below), the first issue carried an article titled, "Ah, Nikolai!" about Russia's last Tsar: Mulla Nasr ud-Din, "Akh Nikolai!," MND Sha`ban 28, 1339/May 7, 1921 (7) in Asarlari IV, 250-251.

I'm quite amazed that some Iranians despise Nikolai because he was an autocratic Tsar. It is the right of free nationalities to say this: of course, Nikolai was an enemy of freedom. To speak fairly, by God, we Iranians have no right to despise Nikolai, for as it is said, "One doesn't see the spot on one's forehead, but sees the dot on the people's foreheads."

Ah, Nikolai! I swear to God that I have hope for him deep in my heart.

Well, one may ask, why should I have hope for him? Allow me now to lay the reasons out before you, one by one. Here are three reasons.

Let it be submitted before your presence that during Nikolai's reign, in a time of utter absolutism, the Russian nation was so esteemed and had such freedom [ikhtiyar] that had God granted the half of it to the Iranians, we would have thrown our papaqs in the air a thousand times.

My dear, I tell you that in Nikolai's time, when Russia had not been granted a constitution, all the Russians' land administration was in the hands of the people's representatives [vakil]; this administration was called the zemstvo. Thus a village's educational, medical, tax, road, etc. affairs, all of these were administered by the people's representatives. That's one.

The second is that in the cities, during the time of Nikolai's autocracy, all the municipal administrations were under the control of the people's representatives. That's two.

As for the third, in Nikolai's time, even before the constitution, during trials, as against the three military judges, there were twelve people's representatives who were elected from various social classes, and the official judges were forced to rule in accordance with their opinions.

But I'm afraid you don't get it, because I see you are snoring.

Ah, Nikolai! See how the time has come that even the Iranians consider you an absolutist.

Between us, Nikolai had one big fault. This was to seat a thug named Rasputin in his place. This scheming Rasputin took over from the dim-witted Tsar so that Rasputin became known as the Tsar of the Russian Empire (although he destroyed Russia).

The only other comment he made about Bolshevik Russia during this time was to urge that Iran follow its lead (and that of the Provisional Government before it) banning alcohol: Mulla Nasr ud-Din, "Mashrubat," MND Sha`ban 28, 1339/May 7, 1921 (7) in Asarlari IV, 252-253. "Now, if someone drinks himself drunk in Russia or keeps alcohol either in a shop or at home, he is severely punished." He says that this policy compares favorably to what exists among the Muslims of Tabriz.

Finally, it should be said that the coming of the revolution makes barely a ripple in Hamida Khanum's memoirs of her husband Mirza Jalil. Nor does it leave a trace in what survives of their correspondence. As published in Hamida va Jalil Mammadquluzada, Maktublar (Baku, Ganjlik, 1994).

Hamida Khanum and Mirza Jalil

It should be remembered at this point that Mirza Jalil's wife, Hamida Khanum's father, to whom she was deeply devoted, was an officer in the Tsarist army and a member of the landed gentry, owning a village, Kahriz. `Abbas Zamanov, Introduction, Hamida, Mirza Jalil, p. 3. This village passed to Hamida Khanum upon his death. According to her memoirs of her husband, her father was an enlightened landlord (there was a movement among the landed aristocracy along these lines), and she says that she followed in this tradition. She opened a school for the village children, including a girl's school, which she was able to keep going because "the villagers respected me and trusted me." Hamida, Mirza Jalil, p. 36. She set up a weaving factory for the village girls, half Muslim and half Armenian, Ibid. p. 63. that produced hand-made socks and gloves. Ibid. p. 65. She traveled to Tbilisi to learn how to inoculate her villagers against the pox. Ibid. p. 28. The other landlords of the region were upset with her educating the peasants and complained to the provincial governor that she was raising the land question. The governor, however, told her he was ignoring their charges because of her good works. These landlords, in turn, vandalized her property. Ibid. 43-44.

As Hamida Khanum recalls it, the villagers paid her back with love and respect. For example, when her Russian servant heard that she was going off to marry Mirza Jalil, "he cried and tried to get me to promise not to marry him. Some of the villagers rushed to me and asked, 'Are you going to leave us and go to the city?' To quiet them, I told them that I would go and then come right back." Ibid. p. 25. Some fifteen years later, when she returned to her village after sojourning in Iran for a year, "The villagers received me with respect. The women wrapped themselves around my body and kissed me and wept with love. Even some of the men wept. We all sat in one place and wept with laughter and couldn't speak." Ibid. p. 110.

The revolution meant that the central government was weakened and the region was thrown into chaos. First, the Dashnaks and the Musavat, then the Turkish and British armies, and finally the Bolsheviks fought their way into the region. Although Hamida Khanum had only a negative relationship with the Armenian militias See especially her gratitude that the British had swept Andronik's militias out of the area, ibid., p. 65. and the Musavat, she had friendly ties with the regular armies. A British commander congratulates her and compares her to the British suffragettes, (ibid., p. 65), a Turkish commander expresses his admiration for Mirza Jalil's Mulla Nasr ud-Din, (ibid., pp. 62-63). Mirza Jalil, in a letter, expresses his willingness to join the Turkish army to fight against the Armenian militias. (Letter dated September 14, 1917 in Hamida va Jalil Mammadquluzada, Maktublar (Baku, Ganjlik, 1994), pp. 38-39.) Ultimately, it was the rumor that the Bolsheviks were withdrawing that threw the area into chaos and led her to flee the Caucasus for Tabriz.

After the Bolsheviks reestablished order in the area, she settled back in her village and restored it to a measure of prosperity. But Hamida Khanum still had much to complain about in the Bolsheviks' methods. In a letter dated March 22, 1923, she Hamida, Mirza Jalil, pp. 115-116.

During the year I was not running Kahriz [while she was in Iran], it was torn apart and ruined, water was cut off and communicable diseases spread. Peasants have been given responsibility who are unable to make use of the people of Kahriz.

It was for this reason, she continues, that local Soviet Executive Committee "returned the village to its former owner." The village was leased to her for five years, an arrangement she accepted reluctantly.

The Silent Years

Early in 1918, Mirza Jalil retired to his wife's estate in Aqdam, where he would remain until well into 1920. Aziz Mirahmadov, "Dahi Yazichinin Adabi Irsi," Asarlari I, xxxi. Although he published nothing in this period, we do have some of posthumously published writings of his. Moreover, his later writings give us an inkling of his situation during these silent years.

In an undated (and,apparently, unpublished) short story cum memoir, "Balka da Qaytardilar," Asarlari, I, 223-230. Mirza Jalil himself recalls an encounter he had with a group of four expropriated former men of wealth who befriended him because they knew that he had lost his family estate (apparently from his wife's family) of 4000 desiatins of arable land. In a postscript to this story, he recalls watching them pour over the newspapers for signs of hope that the British would force the Bosheviks to restore their property and comments, ibid., pp. 228.

I've already lost hope, and many there are who have, like me, despaired and, gradually, started looking for work. But there was a time when I and my four companions would await evey day, every hour, and cock our ears to see if that morning matters would be resolved and the 4000 desiatins of arable land would be returned to me and my family and my four friends from the boulevard would have their millions and their oil wells restored.

We watched and waited and ultimately nothing happened.

Internal inconsistencies in this story aside (the postscript has him being in league with the counter-revolutionaries at first, but in the body of the story, he views their dreams of a restoration as pathetic and does not share them from the beginning of their acquaintance), it appears that he entertained such hopes and frequented such circles during these silent years.

Also from this period might was Mirza Jalil's play, Danabash Kandinin Maktabi, the Danabash Village School. Asarlari, II, 108-137, where the date is not given. In `Ali Sultanli, "Jalil Mammadquluzadanin Dramaturgiyasi" in Jalil Mammadquluzada, pp. 128 and 149 ff, where it is discussed in the usual rigid categories of Stalinist scholarship, it is dated at 1921. In this play, the unexplained arrival of officials from the Center escorted by armed retainers casts a village into a panic. When they find that the new arrivals are particularly interested in their children, their fears that they are trying to dragoon their children into the army is heightened, and they hide their children. Pandemonium breaks out, and the Muslim officer attached to this mission responds, to the dismay of his Russian comrades, by brutally beating the villagers with his knout. ibid., II, 119. In fact, the Russians are in Danabash to open a village school. Once the children's whereabouts are discovered, they are hauled before a Tsarist official, who harangues them about how they are to be delivered from their present benighted state into enlightenment. They are then taught by a Russified Muslim teacher who spouts liberal platitudes. Alas, underneath his enlightened exterior, he is an arrogant monster, full of irrelevant pedagogical "wisdom" and utterly ignorant of how to deal with the villagers. The villagers, who were at first amused and intrigued by the newcomer, are eventually provoked to rage by his high-handedness and downright meanness. ibid., II, 133. The play is formally set in 1895, when young Mirza Jalil himself was teaching there (Danabash is his pseudonym for the village in which he taught for ten years, Nahram See, e.g., Rzaqulu Najafov, "Mirza Jalil Mammadquluzada (Mulla Nasraddin) Haqqinda Khatiralarim" in Jalil Mammadquluzada, p. 287.). The play may reflect his own experiences, possibly a characteristically self-deprecating auto-satire, and indeed is a reworking of a short story that could well have been written before the Soviet period. Asarlari, I, 258-274, where it goes undated. It opens with the comment that the events transpired "seven years after the Russians took Kars," i.e., 1885 (and not 1895, as in the play), at which point the narrator was still a child. If the narrator was ten at the time, he would have been in his early forties by 1917. Mulla Nasr ud-Din scholar Mirza Ibrahimov says it was written between 1889 and 1904. Boyuk Demokrat (Baku, Azarbayjan SSR Elmlar Adademisi Nashriyati, Baku, 1957. But the trope of an arrival from the Center spreading panic among the villagers reoccurs through his Soviet work. It is hard not to see this as a parable for the Soviet government's relationship with the hinterlands. The combination of the positive intentions on the one hand and the arrogance and brutality on the other of the local Muslim officials allied with the government--all these would make prominent appearances in Mirza Jalil's writings on the Soviet period.

Mulla Nasr ud-Din after the Bolshevik Consolidation of Power

In May 1921, Mirza Jalil and his wife, Hamida Khanum, who was with him in Tabriz, were invited back to Iran by his admirers among the Azerbaijani Bolsheviks. In June 1922, Aziz Mirahmadov, "Dahi Yazichinin Adabi Irsi," Asarlari I, xxxii. after a year of idleness, he was invited to come to Baku, where he began writing for a journal called Yeni Yol (September) and then reissued Mulla Nasr ud-Din (November).

The Survival of Azeri Turkish Culture

One of Mirza Jalil's concerns since Mulla Nasr ud-Din was founded was the survival of Azeri Turkish culture. It was to truly be the ana deli, the mother's language, spoken by those who, like one's mother's idiom, were untainted by outside influences and affectations. Precisely as Yiddish was called the mama loshen. Russified Muslims who forgot their mother tongue, panturkists who affected the sonorous Ottoman idiom, or the believers who felt more at home in Persian were ceaselessly ridiculed in Mirza Jalil's pre-revolutionary works, both in the Mulla Nasr ud-Din and in one of his plays, which was devoted to this theme. See Anamin Kitabi (Asarlari, II, 62-100) among his plays. The articles on this are too many to cite. See, for example, Mulla Nasr ud-Din, "Papaslar," "Bismilla Khiragima Nirragim," and "Pek Eyi" in MND August 9, 1909 (32), November 15, 1909 (46), January 13, 1912 (2) in Asarlari IV, 52-54, 76-78, 165-167.

It is not surprising, then, that Mirza Jalil's first articles upon his return to Soviet Russia called for the revival of Turkish and alphabet reform Mighmigha, "Mulla Nasr ud-Din," Yeni Yol, September 28, 1922 (2), Mulla Nasr ud-Din, "Kurk," Yeni Yol, October 28, 1922 (6). Some of these articles (such as "Kurk") focus on the mishaps which can befall the reader of Turkish written in Arabic script. A particularly amusing one concerns a rumor being passed around in the bazaar that one Shotor-e Zaman (The Camel of the Age) had become prime minister in Germany. It transpired that this was actually Gustav Stresemann, the German People's Party Foreign Minister who, along with a French colleague, won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1926 for his work with the League of Nations. Jirjirama, "Shotor-i Zaman," MND, November 17, 1923 (37) in Asarlari V, 7, 11-12. and for Azeris to use their own language and not Persian or Russian. anon., "Mohkam Iplar," Yeni Yol, October 21, 1922 (5) V, 10-11.

Mirza Jalil was also critical of a lack of attention to Turkish in the schools. Having used Mulla Nasr ud-Din to further the cause of Turkish elementary education in the aftermath of the 1905 revolution, he continued by criticizing the inadequacy of Turkish textbooks published under the Soviets as unreadable and useless, particularly for their Ottomanizing tendencies. Of one textbook, he said, "Its language is not our language." Mulla Nasr ud-Din, "Dars Kitablarimiz," MND, December 15, 1923 (40) in Asarlari, V, 66-7. Regarding an article in which the Azeri journal Ma`arif va Madaniyat promised to write in a way which would be useful for teachers, he sneered Mulla Nasr ud-Din, "Sharq Qadini," MND, January 8, 1924 (2) in Asarlari, V, 68-9. that it has "in the year 1923, in the center of the Soviet Azerbaijani Republic, Baku, in the age of the workers and peasants government, entered the arena in such a way that not only now, but in twenty five years, indeed, a hundred years from now, neither the Azerbaijani workers and peasants nor their grandchildren nor their great-grandchildren will ever want to touch Ma`arif va Madaniyat."

He was harshly critical of the village newspapers that the Soviet government had organized: anon., "Hadar," Yeni Yol, November 4, 1922 (7) in Asarlari, V, 14-15

[T]he publishers of these magazines and those who finance and work for them don't want to know if anyone reads them or not.

We say boldly and openly that all of these magazines are written for no good reason and are thrown out, for neither villager nor city-dweller can read them.

This is not to be considered a simple matter: It is obvious that it is endlessly difficult to read a magazine written in Arabic script. It is obvious that reading our old authors and understanding them requires great learning and experience. Well, how is it possible for the villagers, whose level of literacy is low, to [make out] that chicken-scratching?

Do these magazines spring up like mushrooms? Isn't it a waste of the toil of thousands of workers and editors?

For example, let's take Yerevan's Ranjbar's sixth issue. What is it? Who will be able to read it? Is it fair to cover a big sheet of paper with chicken-scratching and call it a magazine? Is its editor so illiterate that he doesn't see how many errors it contains? What villager will be able to extract anything from this onion garden?

These complaints were related to the monopolization of power, at least at the local level, by autocratic and ignorant but ruthless individuals. Mirza Jalil complained about the lack of freedom of the press. "[A]ll the Baku press has been taken over by a clique [dasteye ashkhas] which does what it wants with the publishers of newspapers and books." Mulla Nasr ud-Din, "Matba`alar," MND, May 12, 1923 (23) in Asarlari, V, 41-2. Again, after reading articles in the Russian press about the preparations being made by Russian teachers in Baku, he comments, Mulla Nasr ud-Din, "Mu`allim," MND, May 12, 1923 (23) in Asarlari, V, 42-43.

But we have no so many things to worry about concerning our Turkish teachers. For all our schools and teachers issues are under the control of two managers who don't know the Turkish language.

And so what? See how these educators who know nothing about Turkish have brought things to such a fine state that indeed there is no longer a need to have the teachers measure up to standards?

Another concern our author expressed in his early articles was over the withering away of the Turkish theater, something which, as a playwright, deeply concerned him. Thus, in his second article published under the Soviets, anon., "Teatr Ishlarimiz," Yeni Yol, September 28, 1922 (2) in Asarlari, V, 9. he complained that to look at the theater posters posted around Baku, one would not imagine that there was such a thing as Muslim theater; it appears here that most of the blame must go to the Muslims themselves. In another, Mulla Nasr ud-Din, "Iki Khabar," MND, January 20, 1923 (10) in Asarlari, V, 30-1. he objects to the termination of government support to the Turkish press and theater in Baku, as if these matters were of no benefit to society, while billions are spent on various bureaus. He was particularly pained by how the Turkish Theater in Baku was sold off to a foreigner on the fiftieth anniversary of its opening. Why, he asks, couldn't the ballet troupe, "which is completely unnecessary" be cut instead?

Mirza Jalil's Difficulties

Along these lines, Mirza Jalil had his own difficulties with dogmatic or unappreciative hostile officials. Although he left Tabriz for Baku in hopes of finding freedom, Hamida, Mirza Jalil, p. 105. he hovered in limbo for a year for reasons that remain unclear. Ultimately, the Soviets were glad to have someone with his prestige in their corner. In November 1924, the government sent him on tour of the Soviet East to promote the new alphabet. Ibid. p. 121.

But although this period represented a public turn towards supporting the new order, Mirza Jalil was privately deeply unhappy with it. In 1925, it was decided that Mulla Nasr ud-Din would be edited by a committee and would no longer publish articles over his signature. It was soon after this decision, as his wife recalls it, that he dreamed that he had been condemned by a court to be flung into a dark dungeon. First the door was bricked over and then the windows. He cried out that he was suffocating, to no avail. Ibid. p. 122.

The Soviet literature reflects some of the turbulence which characterized the relationship between Mulla Nasr ud-Din and the central government. His agent in `Ashqabad recalls Ghulam Muhammadli, "Tavazokarlighin Janli Timsali," in 'Abbas Zamanof et al. (ed.), Jalil Mammadquluzada (Maqalalar va Khateralar Majmu'asi) (hereafter, Jalil Mammadquluzada) (Baku, 1967), p. 442. how "during the last years of his life, cultural leftists sought to 'modernize' Mirza Jalil and the journal" by, for instance, changing it to 'Allahsiz,' "The Atheist." Indeed, according to one of his sons, when the Party finally forced this move through, it caused a precipitous decline in its readership. Allahyar Javanshir, "Sada, Mudrik, Qayghiksh Insan" in Jalil Mammadquluzada, p. 413. A close collaborator of his, certainly during the Soviet period, Muhammad Sa`id Ordubadi recall that "due to the meddling of certain hostile elements, I was withdrawn from the magazine after working with it for twenty years." Ultimately, he added, "the enemies of the people took the magazine away from him." Muhammad Sa`id Ordubadi, "Boyuk Adibla Gorushlerim" in Jalil Mammadquluzada, p. 349. When the journal closed and on its twenty-fifth anniversary, the Soviet press kept silent about the anniversary celebrations. Ghulam Muhammadli, p. 443. A glimpse of Stalinist officialdom's attitude towards Mulla Nasr ud-Din can be gleaned from an essay by `Ali Nazmi's "Boyuk Zhurnalist" in Jalil Mammadquluzada. Shorn of the obscurantist diamat jargon, he argues that the journal, having paved the way for the victory of socialism, had outlived its usefulness, that its purely critical spirit was not appropriate for the new stage ushered in by this victory. This, of course, is nonsense; the objects of the journal's satire in pre-Soviet times were alive and well in the Soviet Union and outlived Mirza Jalil. What was difficult for the dogmatists and the Stalinists to bear was the fact that it was subjecting them, too, to the same satire it had previously reserved for the old Muslim social elite. See op. cit., especially pp. 66-69.

The Survival of Religion in Public Life

Even before the Bolsheviks came to power, Mirza Jalil protested the persistence of publicly recognized religious observances. He protested how Christian holidays continued to be observed as state holidays, comparing it to the times of the rule of religious obscurantism under the Tsar. Mulla Nasr ud-Din, "Bayramlar," MND May 12, 1917 (12) in Asarlari IV, 206-207.

Resisting any accommodation of the government with religion was an early theme in Mirza Jalil's writings. As early as 1922, he wrote an article in Mulla Nasr ud-Din objecting to the government's allowing pilgrims to take 300 rubles out of the country when going on pilgrimages to the Shi`ite shrines. Mulla Nasr ud-Din, "Ziyarat," MND December 24, 1922 (7) in Asarlari IV, 24-25. The next week, he pointed to the prevailing illiteracy in the countryside, blamed it on the mullahs, and asked the local officials just what they planned to do about it. Mulla Nasr ud-Din, "Gozal Yerlar," MND December 31, 1922 (8) in Asarlari IV, 25-26. There followed a pair of articles on the subject, Mulla Nasr ud-Din, "Muqaddas Vatanim," MND January 27, 1922 (11) in Asarlari IV, 32-33, Mulla Nasr ud-Din, "Shikayat," MND February 3, 1923 (12) in Asarlari IV, 33-34. the second of which accused the party functionaries of Nakhchevan of complicity in the survival of Muharram processions. The Soviet policy of permitting these processions within the confines of the mosque is not acceptable to Mirza Jalil, who is for confronting the people squarely on the matter Mulla Nasr ud-Din, "Muharramlik," MND August 11, 1923 (29) in Asarlari IV, 52-53. or simply sending them to a madhouse. Mulla Nasr ud-Din, "Muharramlik," MND August 6, 1923 (24) in Asarlari IV, 52. He publishes a "petition" from a group of believers Mulla Nasr ud-Din, on behalf of Believing and Illiterate Muslims, "Bist o Hashtom," MND October 17, 1923 (35) in Asarlari IV, 59-60. expressing gratitude to the Commissar of Labor for permitting Muslims to observe the twenty-eighth of Safar and to take the day off, surpassing even Tsar Nikolai. When Party press published a letter from the Orthodox Katholikos in Tbilisi congratulating the Soviet government, it drew a sarcastic attack from Mirza Jalil. Dali, "Bayramlar," MND March 14, 1925 (11) in Asarlari IV, 87-88.

Exposing the Corruption of Soviet Azerbaijani Life

The corruption and brutality that had taken hold of Soviet Azerbaijani life found in Mirza Jalil an outspoken critic. I present the following examples:

The Shaki Worker timidly published an article on the last page expressing astonishment at how the village-dwelling Azerbaijani oil workers live in darkness, not being able to obtain oil. Our author comments, Mulla Nasr ud-Din, "Qaranliqda," MND, November 24, 1923 (38) in Asarlari, 63-64.

The reason this journal from Shaki printed this item about oil on the last page is that it brings up unavoidable issues [an article about] which he has printed on the third page.

And so, Mulla Nasr ud-Din hails this journal and is very happy to print an article about the oil problem. Be well, you who would write about this.

Now for the reasons why villagers remain in darkness. They are two merchants who have both settled in Yevlakha and are reaping tremendous amounts of money. One of them is named Karam Hajiyev, the other's name is said to be Huseynov. The first oversaw the plunging into darkness of the villagers of Qarabagh. The second supervised the plunging into darkness of the villagers of Shaki. What kind of a deal did these two merchants strike in Baku so that from Baku to Yevlakha, if one wanted oil from anyone but them, the government's militia would grab them, throw them to the ground, and give them such a kick in the balls that they'd turn red?

The Shaki Worker writes about this on page 4. This is because it maintains that there are more important matters which had to be put on page 1.

But Mulla Nasr ud-Din writes about this darkness problem on the front page because for the Mullah, there is no more pressing problem. This is because the Mullah is the villager's old friend.

Another example is the following: Mulla Nasr ud-Din, "How," MND, September 6, 1924 (13) in Asarlari, 76-77.

"Ho"--In the old days, someone would cry, "Ho!" and yell out to the people. This is only done in the villages. When it was seen that it was time to help out the down and out villagers, they'd send a bunch of men to the village to go from house to house and cry out: "Ho, people! Take a little seed from each house so that Hasanqulu can have one or two bags to sow his lot so that the poor man won't die of starvation next year."

During these three summer months, I went to tour the villages of Qarabagh to see the beautiful electric railroads they're installing there and the clean streets and the new school construction in order to ease my heart.

Well, that's not what I wanted to talk about.

Having looked at the crops, I saw that a large portion of them, whether foodstuff or cotton, is with the village soviet workers.

For example, how many villages are there under the rule of the soviet village members and how much of a cotton crop and a food crop is in each village there from which these born tyrants get so many tractors and livestock, how is it that they come to own so much property?

Well, let the truth of the matter be told openly: These gentlemen have made a fuss, i.e., they have sent an officer [strazhnik] into each village and have ruled that to every village soviet worker, a bag of seed must be taken from every house, enough to cover 15 desiatins.

I'm going to leave this aside. I have no intention of speaking ill of anyone. In fact, among the people, there is some whispering that this is not simply an announcement, this is a threat of force, but be that as it may, the goodness of this deed is from God.

Once it was that the flocks pasturing in the summer pastures of Qarabagh were all the property of the khans and the beys. Now, as God and His servants witness, the flocks pasturing are still the same flocks. The difference is their masters.

But I have nothing to do with either of them, and I have no intention of criticizing anyone. All I wanted to do was to explain what "ho" means, and that's what I've done.

Note the mischievous irony with which Soviet propaganda about progress is treated by the author. When he returns to the rather grittier reality, it is with a palpable thud.

In another piece, Mulla Nasr ud-Din, "Qaza Mukhbiri," Kandli, May 10, 1926 (26) in Asarlari, V, 130-134. he gives the story, as reported in the Azerbaijani journal No Bahar, of the corruption of an ordinary worker by the corruption of the local soviet system. An ordinary worker in Aghdam in Qarabagh saw how

the villagers bow their heads to the president of the soviet and obey him and, moreover, how he takes every opportunity to take a little gift into the bargain. Weighing his options, he determined that being the president of a soviet is more profitable than being a farmer in every way: It involved neither trials nor tribulations nor thirst nor waiting your turn for weeks and suffering for your hungry beasts, waiting to see when your turn came to put your cotton on the scales and sort it out, removing the heavy stones.

After considering all this, Comrade Akbar Qurbanov went to the village toughs as election time came around realizing that without toughs, nothing will be accomplished. After getting some "support" from each village, Akbar Qurbanov got to work. With [his crony] Kazim Muhammadoghlu's help, from God's one and only Kahrizli village The village formerly owned and managed by the author's wife. he called to Akbar that the presidency of he soviet was Akbar Qurbanov's.

And thus Akbar Qurbanov became president of the village soviet.

After becoming soviet president, Comrade Akbar Qurbanov looked and saw that he was no longer a nameless worker, no, he was a great big man. On every side, people respected and obeyed him. Every day there were petitioners at his door, and even a goose or a chicken, and money. A favor was required in exchange for these gifts, one ought not throw out a good deed, for these deeds are not pointless. Friends like Kazim Muhammadoghlu should not be forgotten from one day to the next. One should not be untrue.

One day, brother Qurbanov, after his work, went to Kahrizli and drove his horse straight to Kazim's home. Talking sweetly over tea and bread, it became known that Kazim had a new baby boy.

After making small talk about the boy, Qurbanov convinced Kazim to hold a feast in honor of the boy's birth. After describing the preparations for the party, the party itself is described:

Hand-clapping, yelling, jumping, laughing, feasting, cries of "Hurrah! Hurrah!" reached the heavens. And a goodly sum was gathered, for everyone knew that this celebration was run by Brother Ispalkom Qurban, and they were afraid of him and so no one refrained from giving lots of money, for it would not be lost. Money was also gotten by imposing fines. For example, `Abdul-Karim was fined ten rubles for not binding someone's wounds correctly. Fath `Ali Kishi was fined five rubles for not sending [the baby] any kaymak. Alish was fined ten rubles for using shahad in milling wheat flour for the party. So and so was fined fifteen rubles, this poor person was fined five rubles and that one, three, and from the very poor one, two, a half ruble, depending on their circumstances.

Within three days, 561 rubles and 14 kopeks were gathered.

God bless! Considering the villagers' economic condition, no government taxes have ever been so well collected, and gathering such a sum was hard work.

After this article was published, Comrade Ispalkom and his crony Kazim Muhammadoglu began to hunt down its author to settle accounts. Suspicion fell on one or two people. First was the village teacher, and they began to persecute him. For example, they didn't allow water into his wheat field. They complained to the school principal about him: "Hurry and send him to Aghdam." Then, some members of Muhammadqulu's clan stopped sending their children to that school (i.e., they boycotted it). But when they asked No Bahar's staff who wrote the article, they were told that he was a qazi [Islamic judge]. The qazi was the son of an old landlord family who was now a commissar. He, however, swore that he knew nothing about the piece.

In any case, it was too late, the article had been written and whether or not its author had been found out, i.e., whether or not it was the qazi, is of no importance to us. What we want to say is that, whatever reporter takes pen in hand and wants to write about village life should never forget two principles:

First, not to write slander.

Second, not to criticize your betters.

As for going to Kazim's celebration, we think that there is no reason to publish the particulars of such an event in the press and for two reasons: First, individuals such as the Ispalkom and Kazim Muhammadoghlu are respected people. Second, even if the report about this celebration were true, it is nothing to criticize, for taking five or ten rubles from everyone makes a guy wealthy, and there's no fault in that, it's a law of economics.

Mirza Jalil also expressed his contempt for smug and ignorant bureaucrats: Mulla Nasr ud-Din, "Pambiq," MND, March 17, 1923 (17) in Asarlari, V, 37-38.

Now that it is spring, my path crossed a large bureau and I saw a man seated there. Around him were gathered other men, and they were consulting with each other. I realized that they were talking about cotton and were discussing what to do so that cotton would be sown in the upcoming year.

Well, I knew that not a thing would come of these men's consultations, for I saw that these men had not a clue about the cotton industry. After all, I saw that one of them was an ironmonger another, a tailor's apprentice, another had abandoned his studies half through, and the other was of this sort.

I told them plainly that they would not be able to get the people to sow cotton and this for two reasons:

First because they neither know anything about the science of sowing cotton and second because the farmers don't talk with them so that they might agree with their advice.

Ultimately, what I said bore fruit: By now, the cotton farmers will have had to have prepared their land, gotten cotton seeds and sown them, and afterwards, get some gold coins from the government as an advance to get to work with enthusiasm.

But everyone now knows that all this talk is empty words.

No one is thinking about sowing cotton, nor will they, and no matter how much is written and said that cotton is coming this way and the seeds are going that way--all of it is in vain.

No matter how much they keep the matter of cotton forefront in their minds, cotton will not be sown, not be sown, not be sown.

Satirizing Soviet Propaganda

Mirza Jalil's sense of irony was piqued by the contrast between Soviet propaganda and reality. For example, Yeni Yol, Jafang, "Jafangiyat," Yeni Yol, October 28, 1922 (6) in Asarlari, V, 12-13. commented on the filthiness of the streets of Baku, filled with refuse and littered with the corpses of dead cats and dogs. Plague had broken out as a result.

As the plague intensified, I would have thought that they'd clean the city. But instead, I've noticed that over the garbage of these same filthy streets, they have posted the following signs: "Chistota brag zarazi," i.e., "Cleanliness is the plague's enemy."

. These notices are very good indeed. For the plague has begun to abate and, finally, come to a stop.

Think about it. See how great the virtue of these signs is, that however putrid the streets may be, the plague has receded and there has not even been any need to gather the garbage. And by the same token, no one has done a thing about the garbage, nor is it necessary to do anything about it. For if any plague comes along (even if it were typhus), we'll just stick a bit of paper on the walls and the plague will run away on its own.

In another article, he writes, Mulla Nasr ud-Din, "Bir Nov Yazichi," MND, December 7, 1922 (5) in Asarlari, 22-23.

Recently, I came across an article.

Ay, may my soul be a sacrifice for you, author of this article! Look at this born oppressor's skill! He knows neither the language of Azerbaijan, nor its people, but come, look at his article!

He writes: In Azerbaijan, because of the regional, district, and village government, the wolf lies down with the lamb, and this for three reasons.

First, there is no bribery in the villages and the towns.

Second, in the blink of an eye, the locusts have been destroyed.

Third, in the villages and towns, education is going on all the time. There are morning classes, noon classes, afternoon classes, evening classes, even during Ramadan there are predawn classes.

. You could object that the lambs that are lying down in the villages are the poor and mute villagers and that the wolves are those very same hoodlum smuggling and bribe-taking officials, thanks to whom the Azerbaijani village population doesn't know where to take shelter. The article's author could object that he, too, complains a little about this thuggery at the end of his article as well as the people's backwardness in matters of industry.

Yes, one enjoys such literature. If literature was written only by people who haven't a clue about the world, filling five columns with nonsense, if writing consisted of confusing the common people with lies, then we could call this a species of literature.

What a waste of paper and ink!

What a waste of eyesight!

Bolshevik pieties were as distasteful to Mirza Jalil as religious ones: Mulla Nasr ud-Din, "Kamand," MND, April 21, 1923 (21) in Asarlari, 40-41.

The promises of the rivals [the article's term for the atheistic Bolsheviks] are not less sweet than those of Islam's preachers.

There, too, is the same afterlife [akherat], there too, is the same good fortune, there too, souls reach [mi`raj] the Seventh Heaven, there, too, are paradise, hell, demons, devils, devilry, charlatanry, idleness, and misfortune.

You might say that the "rivals" have given Islam's preachers a break, since the echo of their propaganda tabligh; Mirza Jalil is here stressing the similarity between Bolshevik propaganda and traditional Islamic propaganda by using the same word. One can hear the echo of the Muslim preacher's sermons in Bolshevik agitation and propaganda. are heard on all sides.

Like vermin who never leave a filthy body, these born oppressors don't leave the sacred Muslim people alone.

Greetings to all of Uncle Mullah's followers.

Yesterday, I passed in front of a school. Its sign said, "Geography, history, arithmetic, natural history, astronomy, socialism."

There were a few other words written on it, but I didn't catch a glimpse of the rivals, for all microbes are afraid of the light.

Whoever understood what I said understood it; whoever didn't, good for their conscience.

This is, indeed, a cryptic passage. It is clear that the author is satirizing the Bolsheviks by comparing them with the traditional Muslim preachers he so despises. It is interesting that the Bolsheviks, whom he had just called vermin and are now apparently being referred to as microbes, were not to be seen in the school he passed by (despite the presence of "socialism" on the billboard).

Another example of his satirizing this substitution of slogans for reality is an article fittingly titled "Heroes of the Word." Leading with the proverb, "Don't boast about yourself when going into battle," he takes issue with the Party proclamation that "a great victory has been had over the summer locusts." M[olla] N[asr ud-Din], "Soz Pahlavani," Yeni Yol, August 6, 1923 (24) in Asarlari, 51.

If Comrade Stapanov's idea of a victory is that the summer locusts have so far devoursed six thousand desiatins of cotton in Mughan, then let Comrade Stepanov not be too hasty in his celebration, for the locusts are even now flying in the air and can at any time finish off Mughan's remaining orchards and gardens and vineyards. Truly the expert in locusts Comrade Shidlovski has convinced us in his June 3 article in Bakinski Robachi that there is no longer anything to fear in the summer locusts, for they have met their fate. But most unfortunately, Iran's locusts are ignorant of Comrade Shidlovski's entimology and are now at this moment, contrary to Comrade Shidlovski's opinion, delighting in devouring the sweet wheat.

At the end of this article, after saying this, Comrade Stepanov adds some delicious words: "This year, our anti-locust operations have awakened the village population."

We confirm what Stepanov said: Surely, after three months of toil in planting wheat, the villagers' watching their wheat being devoured surely must have awoken them and it must have awoken them quite well.

Slogan vs. Reality in the "To the Village" Campaign

In the spring of 1925, the Soviets announced a campaign of sending medical and educational experts to the villages. This lofty slogan of "To the Villages!" was brought to the ground with a crash by Mirza Jalil. In one article, he wrote: Mulla Nasr ud-Din, "Qonaq Vermak," MND, March 21, 1925 (22) in Asarlari, V, 93-4.

Workers in the provinces will from now on be obliged to hurry up and go to the villages and strengthen relations with themand adequately take care of their needs every day.

But there is one issue that I want to address: do our servants of the villagers know when they rush to the village where they will stay and who will host them? This seems to be a simple and small problem, but in fact, despite its solution being necessary, it is impossible.

Our young workers must not forget the proverb, "A guest is for one day." Nor should they forget that they are not the villagers' guests, but their comrades. Every responsible worker who heads for the village must stay in a special house called the Public Workers House. In that house, they must, with their own money, obtain bread for themselves and for their horses.

Every village worker who is able to hold fast to these principles can win the people's sure and eternal enthusiasm. But whoever doesn't take these matters seriously, he should after one or two days, like a chinovnik of the past dark ages who ostentatiously settled in the village of Danabash, gather around himself a dozen cavalry and wander from village to village and be the cherished guest in the home of an oil and honey eating khan and give each of his horsemen and their horses as a guest to a villager and consider himself fortunate to thus pass the whole year. These inexperienced workers of ours must not forget that, in the end, all that will be seen for these efforts will be disappointment both on the government's and on the villagers' part.

In the issue after the next of Mulla Nasr ud-Din, Mirza Jalil writes about this campaign: Laghlaghi, "Kandlilara Javiq," MND, June 13, 1925 (24) in Asarlari, 95-97.

But I beg to differ on this matter, and firmly state that I am in no way a supporter of sending these young doctors to the villages for two reasons.

First is our new doctors' youth. I don't want to prolong my talk here, but I'll say the following: By God, it is very unfair to tell a twenty or thirty year old youth who had lived in the city "Go sit and suffer in a corner of a village and serve the people there."

As for the second reason, our young doctors, who have just completed their medical studies and are not experienced, will every one of them, upon arriving in the village, see diseases which cannot be specified. (?) I know what you're going to say: You're going to say, "Fine, both in Baku and in the provinces, there are experienced doctors, there are hospitals. Young doctors who are looking for experience can get it in the provinces as well." In response, I would say, "It would be best if we stopped the conversation here, for they call people who talk too much chatterboxes."

I wanted to end the conversation here, but then I remembered something: It is nothing new that there are few doctors in the provinces. I remember that twenty years ago when I was touring the villages of Azerbaijan, I saw how the villagers went without doctors and medicine. So, at the time my eyes opened as a child, in such big provinces of Azerbaijan as Aghdam and Qarabagh, there were only three doctors and one lone hospital. In Javanshir province, everyone was a doctor. Everyone who knows the country well knows that other provinces are still worse off and not better.

But the results were not so bad. This is because when the people of the village saw that there was neither doctor nor medicine, they had to come up with some solution. For example, when one of them got sick and they had no cure, the ill man told his sufferings to his neighbor Imam 'Ali who showed him a cure he had learned from his father and grandfather: The barber Usta Ja`far would cut the sick man's head and draw blood. Aunt Gulsum (sic) would prepare a certain herb and bring it over, Nanny Dostu would blow in his son's nose, and Jahan Bibi would put something in his wife's belly button, and so if he was not fated to die, he would be cured. If he was fated to die, he left this wretched world and reached his eternal abode.

As for me, better than medicine is Mullah Muhammad and Fazil Sheikh Ja`far's taking a copy of a prayer, putting it in water, and giving it to the sick to drink.

My point is that whether or not an academically trained doctor comes to the village, the villagers will not remain without remedies thanks to these prayers.

Again, Mulla Nasr ud-Din, "Bohtan," MND, April 10, 1926 (15) in Asarlari, V, 125-126. commenting on a report about twenty Turkish midwives being prepared to be sent to the countryside, he says:

Lately, the slander has been spread by a few mischief-makers that, so to speak, of these twenty Turkish midwives, only three are ready to go to the villages and that the remaining seventeen, so to speak, consider it more necessary that they remain in the city rather than go to the villages. To speak more plainly, they don't want to go to the villages.

I believed this, but I don't believe it now, and for a reason.

The reason I don't believe it was because I now see, every man of conscience sees, that the population of the village needs the cities in every way. In the age in which we live, all conscientious youth would of their own free will spread out to the villages to take the villagers by the hand.

So we see that upon hearing the slogan "To the Villages!" every expert rushes right this way. For instance, agronomists, mechanics, teachers, and especially young doctors (hurray!), dentists, various industrial specialists, and so forth.

If, God forbid, this esteemed group did not want to go to the village and what I've written were a lie or a joke (and it was no joke), then, of course, the Turkish midwives would have been pleased to go to the village on seeing them.

But no! These young midwives of ours do not go to the village with the enthusiasm of our conscientious workers, nor will they.

For example, Last year, comrade responsible worker was instructed to go to the provinces to serve, and this same comrade official worker cried for three days. We're sure that this comrade's tears were shed out of love for the people of the village.

I trouble my dear readers with these lines to answer those idle slanderers who, since they didn't have anything to do, would find themselves the job of discrediting and disgracing our newly-educated Turkish midwives. For no man of conscience can be content when it is said about young Turkish midwives, "They don't want to go the village and work but want to stay in the city.

Although his critical spirit faded around 1924, Mirza Jalil's old sarcastic instinct was still roused by particularly egregious pieces of proletarian silliness. Thus, he replies Mulla Nasr ud-Din, "Shadliq Khabari," MND, April 3, 1926 (14) in Asarlari, V, 119-20. to an article in Kommunist, number 63, by one Comrade A. Sharif, in which he discusses the class nature of female beauty. "For the workers and peasants, female beauty meant a firm, healthy body, powerful hands and feet--in general, the form of a creature which would aid in labor." But in bourgeois society, the ideal would be "delicate and small hands and feet, a delicate and frail body, a physique which would not be useful for labor." To this, Mirza Jalil responds,

Everyone may openly state his own opinion. We, too, would like to say a thing or two about this matter.

We confirm the ideal of beauty held by those who live within a bourgeois environment is as described in Comrade A. Sharif's article.

Aside from the bourgeois class, Comrade Sharif speaks about the worker. But it seems to us that there remain two other classes: The rural workers and the urban believers.

The urban [believers'] ideal of beauty is: chubby calves and white, greasy bodies. For thus it is declared in the shariat.

As for the villagers, they have right now exactly one ideal:

"Hey, woman, I'm afraid that we will have to stay in the dark tonight and the animals will get lost and the calves will get trampled. Bring the oil container and see if a little oil can be gotten from Huseinqulu's and if you can bring it here."

Then the villager's ideal of beauty is that the woman would go to Huseinqulu's and tell her husband from far off, "Hey, husband, thank God, I have been able to get this bit of oil."

Beauty, beauty--that's beauty.

Thus, the airy proletarian estheticism is brought crashing to the ground, with a reminder of the practical problems facing the rural poor.

A Turn towards Soviet Policies

A turning point in Mirza Jalil's Soviet writings occurs immediately after the Soviets published Sharq Qadini, a journal on women's affairs written in Turkish. He reviews this magazine in glowing terms, as if it were the answer to his life's work. Mulla Nasr ud-Din, "Sharq Qadini," MND, January 8, 1924 (2) in Asarlari, V, 68. The author begins by implying that the women question is the central issue in the Muslim world. He then discusses his sacrifices for this cause, including his having been driven underground by angry believers who were outraged that he published articles supporting women's liberation. He then adds:

Now we have reached the day when, in the Soviet world, the woman is also a human, that women must have freedom [ikhtiyar] like men, that women want to breath and so do men. Neither should men own women nor should women, men. They are to be comrades. This is what we say.

Sharq Qadini heard these words and went into action. Now, Islam's chains which bound her feet were powerless. Now she had no more fear of the master of the shariat's "hellfire." Now women's zeal [gheirat, usually understood to be the quintessential masculine quality] rendered impotent the "zeal" of the bullyboys. Now, the hymns [munajat] of the Women's Emancipation and Women's Welfare clubs which were opened in the memory of `Ali Bayramov spread throughout the East.

This is what we wanted and this is what we have sought. We have talked and talked about this and now we have reached our goal.

I was at the Bayramov Club yesterday evening. It was filled with Eastern women from all over the world. The women's comrade, Comrade Khavar Khanum, spoke from the stage.

What did she talk about? What did she say?

She said:

Woman of the East, read, read, read! If you read and become literate and educated, then you'll appreciate your freedom. Then you'll find the way to prosperity. If you don't read, you'll remain in darkness. If you don't read, you will be unhappy, and from your unhappiness will your children will be unhappy."

Old Mullah Nasrud-Din hails the emancipated women of the East!

Hail to those who show them the way to freedom!

This article is important in demonstrating the centrality of the Women Question in Mirza Jalil's thinking, a subject which requires a separate paper. But for the purposes of this paper, we note that this piece also represents his first open break with Islam. It is no longer, say, the mullahs who are persecuting women; it is Islam itself. This piece represents the first shot in Mirza Jalil's frontal assault on Islam. It also represents a turning of our author towards collaborating with the objectives of the Soviet government at home and abroad. Although (as we have seen) he does write some (often fierce) attacks on privilege and corruption, these recede and are overshadowed by articles which are increasingly strident in their support to Soviet policies, as we will see below. A few issues later, Mirza Jalil publicly admitted to eating during Ramadan days. Mulla Nasr ud-Din, "Orujluq," MND, April 13, 1924 (6) in Asarlari, V, 73-4. He then coyly embraced atheism, Dali, "Dinsizlik," MND, November 29, 1924 (25) in Asarlari, V, 81. using irony to attack its opponents.

This opening salvo was followed by a series of articles protesting the continued observance of religion in public life. He protested the fact that the Soviets were still recognizing religious holidays. Dali, "Qarardad," MND, May 2, 1925 (18) in Asarlari, V, 91-2. Personally, he said, he did not want his son growing up being reminded of them; this would give him the idea that, for instance, he was supposed to fast on certain days or attend prayers on certain others. The schools should therefore not close on these days.

Anti-Religious Polemics

The next years saw him writing more and more virulent atheistic polemics. He attacked the idea that God administers the world. For example, he ridiculed Laghlaghi, "Musalla," MND, June 27, 1925 (26) in Asarlari, V, 98-99. the idea that God had sent a drought to punish the Muslim youth who stopped praying or joined the Komsomol. Since the vast majority of those affected were observant Muslims, this would mean that God would punish thousands and thousands of believers to get at a small number of nonbelievers.

In the next issue of Mulla Nasr ud-Din, Mulla Nasr ud-Din, "Peyghambarlik, Ya Ki Kishmish Da`vasi," MND, June 4, 1925 (27) in Asarlari, V, 99-101. he turns his pre-revolutionary argument that the mullahs were perverting Islam completely around; he now has a mullah plead that he and his colleagues were not to blame for misleading their flocks, since

[o]ur lying mullahism is essentially the profession of the prophets and the imams, and what we say is precisely what the prophets said. If in our preaching we tell some useless superstitious fairy tales about heaven and hell, the world and the afterlife, we have only learned these superstitions from the prophets. If what the prophets said were the truth, then all the prophets would have agreed on this truth, and the number of religions would not have reached a hundred and seventy two. And the imams and the mujtaheds following them would [not] have quarreled with each other over rulership and tried to kill each other.

As the years went by, Mirza Jalil's atheistic propaganda became more and more open. In a later issue, Dali, "Munajat," MND, April 10, 1926 (15) in Asarlari, V, 125. for example, he has God answer those who pray to him, "Human, give up on me, I don't exist, don't exist, don't exist." Later that year, Mulla Nasr ud-Din, "Ingilis Madaniyyati," MND, October 2, 1926 (40) in Asarlari, V, 147-148. he published an article in which he ridiculed the supposed Shi`ite religious belief that even an evil person buried in the sacred soil of Kerbala would go to paradise,

The Muslims are a very intelligent people, for no other religion has been able to find the road to heaven. So the Europeans invented the telegraph, the telephone, and the piano, as long as they haven't discovered the way to heaven, how can they be considered more intelligent than the Muslims?

After this bit of irony, he continues,

May the people who have their stinking bones carried to Kerbala thinking they will be sent to heaven, may stones fall on the heads of such a people.

May the people who believe that by wounding their heads they can buy heaven, may stones fall on the heads of such a people.

May the people who abandon their work to follow a bunch of louse-ridden bastard mullahs to get the keys to heaven, may stones fall on the heads of such a people.

Long live the youth!

Down with the old men who search for heaven!

May the nation's education prosper! May it prosper so much that under its influence, taking the dead to Kerbala will be wiped out!

Down with both the head-wounders and all the believing asses who are searching for heaven, and down with their heaven and hell as well!

Mirza Jalil later attacks the Koran as well, referring to it as one of "the holy books revealed by a non-existent God." Source? Verses from the Koran are produced to demonstrate that it promises eternal hellfire to women who go about with their faces unveiled. Mulla Nasr ud-Din, "Shura Qadinlari," MND, October 6, 1927 (41) in Asarlari, V, 191-192. See also Mulla Nasr ud-Din, "Qiyamat, Yakhud Kandli Qadinlari," November 1927 in Asarlari, V, 201-3. This represented a dramatic reversal of his pre-revolutionary position; he had, in 1907, argued that the Koran and even established interpreters of the Koran allowed women to go about with their faces exposed. This debate is discussed in Evan Siegel, "A Debate on Women's Liberation in the Muslim Caucasus, 1907." It further cites an-Nisa, verse 36, as an indication of what a husband may do to a disobedient wife. In an-Nisa, verse 34, a simple reading of the verse would indicate that a man is commanded to beat a disobedient wife. Later that month, he attacks the Koran for protecting private property as well as male supremacy. Dali, "Din Sohbahtari," MND, October 13 & 27, 1927 (42 & 44) in Asarlari, V, 193-195. He takes the side of Pharoah, whom he describes as a proper atheist, against Moses, whom he describes as a charlatan. ibid. He further revises Koranic history Mulla Nasr ud-Din, "Asatir-I Avvalin," MND, October 27, 1927 (44) in Asarlari, V, 196-197. by praising the free-thinking Medinans for not falling for Muhammad and his Koran.

Continuing through Islamic history, `Ali b. Abi-Talib is characterized as a mass murderer. Mulla Nasr ud-Din, "Qadaghan Etmak," MND, April 5, 1928 (14) in Asarlari, V, 220-221. His murder, Mirza Jalil sneers, "is a great confirmation of God's existence; he had murdered so many people for being polytheists with his own blessed hand that they were beyond reckoning." He even "practically murdered his own brother `Aqil while the latter was in prison with his own hands and with his own sword."

A week later, Mulla Nasr ud-Din, "Risha," MND, November 8, 1928 (45) in Asarlari, V, 248-249. he said that eliminating the veil and the papaq are merely superficial changes. All holy books, not just the Koran, but "the Gospels, the Torah, the Psalms, Sahif, Literally "Leaf" of paper; it is unclear to what holy book it is referring. the Iqan, A sacred text of Bahaism, written by its founder. and the rest."

In the meantime, Mirza Jalil labels Islam as a threat to world peace. Mulla Nasr ud-Din, "Sulh-i Abadi," MND, January 13, 1928 (2) in Asarlari, V, 208-209.

There are two paths one may take to achieve eternal peace. One is that all the people living in this world worship in accordance with one sole religion. If you were to ask us which religion would we recommend so that all the peoples would unite, we would suggest our own pure Islam. Not because it is our sacred religion--God forbid! We would make this suggestion only for the sake of eternal peace. For as long as there are "infidels" and "believers," enmity, open or hidden, will be the rule. The author refers here to Muhammad, verse 3; but this verse only refers to meeting the unbelievers in battle.

One of Mirza Jalil's last words on this subject was in an article Mulla Nasr ud-Din, "Din va Millat," MND, June 11, 1929 (28) in Asarlari, V, 277-278. that raised the slogan "First religion, then nationality." This article concluded,

It is natural that as long as there is religion and religiousity in the world, to that extent will nationalism continue, until the time when humanity forgets about toys like religion and piety and abandons them. Then we will see that this nation business will also be gradually abandoned and that people will get on with their lives.

Since this is so, why should your heart bleed over it?

Believers in the Party

Part of Mirza Jalil's anti-religious campaign was directed against the survival of religion in the Communist Party and the Komsomol. Thus, news of a petition from veiled female Communists in Kommunist provoked a furious response. Mulla Nasr ud-Din, "Kovdanlar," MND, November 1, 1928 (44) in Asarlari, V, 247-248. What, he asks, if word of this article were to reach our Russian comrades in Moscow or our Armenian comrades in Yerevan? "What would they think of us, the Azerbaijani people?" And, still worse, what if news of this were to reach Iran? While some of their papers are talking about women's liberation, we, eleven years after the October Revolution, still have Communist women going on about veiled!

In another article, Mulla Nasr ud-Din, "Dindar Firqachi Yoldashlar," MND, December 27, 1928 (52) in Asarlari, V, 254-256. he expresses regret that in an election in the Party or the Komsomol between an atheist and a pious candidate, the atheist would fare very badly. Lest the Party be offended by this statement of his, he reminds the reader that Comrade Yaroslavski had said the same thing in a Party Central Committee meeting in Moscow.

Support to Soviet Foreign Policy Initiatives

As we've noted, after Sharq Qadini was founded, Mirza Jalil took a noticeably sympathetic view of Soviet foreign policy, an issue that had previously not particularly interested him before. He gave an impassioned defense of the revolution in Asia. Mulla Nasr ud-Din, "Dayirman," MND, April 2, 1927 (14) in Asarlari, V, 172. Although it bore traces of Mirza Jalil's charm, it was pretty much a set piece of Soviet propaganda. Again, an article on the British moves against the Soviet Union ends with lines like: Mulla Nasr ud-Din, "Od va Su," MND, June 2, 1927 (23) in Asarlari, V, 181-182. See also Mulla Nasr ud-Din, "Ruz-i `Ashura," MND, June 2, 1927 (23) in Asarlari, V, 181-182 and again in Mulla Nasr ud-Din, "Hikmatli Sozlar," MND, February 14, 1929 (7) in Asarlari, V, 258.

we submit to our dear readers we expect nothing will come of [British Foreign Minister Sir Austin] Chamberlain's jumping up and down and throwing daggers at the Soviets. To confirm this, I say that this "ruinous" Soviet Union has a supporter and I cannot believe that it will be easily stricken aside. The name of this supporter is the toilers of the world.

In dreary conformity with Soviet propaganda aims, Mirza Jalil portrays China as spoiling for a fight with the Soviet Union. Mulla Nasr ud-Din, "Gal Savashaq," MND, October 24, 1929 (43) in Asarlari, V, 285-286. There, he concludes, "But the Soviet toilers are patient. Fighting is bad thing, for the people who will take the blows from beginning to end are the toilers (whether Chinese or Soviet.) It is for this reason that the Soviet Union looks on the problems of war with great forbearance and patience and will continue to do so."

Again, he relates how, when he travels around the countryside, the villagers "naturally ask about international politics and the current events in China. The common villagers finally ask, 'How will it all end?'" He then cites the parable of a piece of iron that is repeatedly struck by the ironsmith's hammer. It ultimately will glow read hot.

Now, the British government and its hoodlum comrades have put the toilers of the East on an anvil and are beating them with great hammers. But they didn't think that the place they were pointlessly beating the toilers was gradually heating up and was gradually turning red.

But now I am concerned that the place on which they are unjustly beating the peoples of the East is becoming red hot and that a fire may erupt from there and seize absolutism's iron foundry and burn it down along with the ironmonger himself.

The British and Islam

Mirza Jalil's initial foray into atheism was followed immediately by a crude attack on the clergy as British mercenaries. Mulla Nasr ud-Din, "Muhibb-i Imam," MND, December 6, 1924 (26) in Asarlari, V, 81. Taking the voice of a Muslim believer, he says,

My point is: no matter how much British agents have brought disaster on the heads of the East, may I be a sacrifice to each of the bags of gold which they now disburse to the quietist preachers and marsiyakhans on Muharram so that the ta`ziyya for the Imam (May I be his sacrifice!) can be performed in splendor so that all of Iran could get completely intoxicated on the love for the Imams.

May Egypt, Tabriz, Baghdad, and Kerbala be a sacrifice to the British's purses of gold, for during Muharram every year, the British secretly give gifts to Mirza `Ali Akbar Aqa in Tabriz, Akhund Mirza `Ali Akbar in Ardebil, the Friday Imam of Tehran, and the other such meritorious goons in other places.

But in that same issue, Mulla Nasr ud-Din, "Murdar," MND, December 6, 1924 (26) in Asarlari, V, 83-84. he published a piece satirizing this theory by putting it in the mouth of a merchant from Tabriz, who whispers to Mirza Jalil that "the fault" for the mounting casualties among flagellants around Muharram

lies chiefly with British money. Certain specific clerics are accepting this money from the British treasury and spend it as they will on strengthening the bloody Muharram processions with the aim that, after driving the Muslims' ignorance and foolishness to their ultimate, they might gradually take over Iran.

Mirza Jalil reflects that, if this is the British aim, they are not succeeding, since pious Muslims as exemplified by the Tabrizi are simply becoming suspicious of them despite their efforts.

Two years later, commenting on reports that "the British hand" is to be seen in the current events in Afghanistan, he says, Mulla Nasr ud-Din, "Barmaq," MND, January 24, 1929 (4) in Asarlari, V, 257-258.

For example, exalted God has never been seen with the eye, but nonetheless everyone believes in Him and no one doubts His existence.

The British hand has one feature in common with exalted God has. It is baqi [abiding].

Just as exalted God has always been in the world and always will be so, so the British hand has always been everywhere in the world and always will be so.

Historians have confirmed that when Adam's son Qabil quarreled with Habil and Qabil killed Habil, the British hand was present. Although some say that the British had not yet come into the world, I still believe this.

In any crisis which erupts into the world, I see the British hand. I might almost say that in ancient times in Egypt over the Pharaoh business, in Arabia over the right to the caliphat. It was present in Iran when thousands were slaughtered and looted over the monarchy and in the Ottoman Empire when there was fratricide over the sultanate, in the Soviet Union with the hoodlums' conniving over the electoral combinations, in Baku there was Sheikh Ghani's and in Mashtagha there was Mirza `Abdul-Karim's charlatanry among the common people--all of these were signs of the British hand.

Sometimes when something gets me mad at home, instead of saying, "Damn Satan," I say "Damn the British hand!"

But the British are accused of playing politics with Islam. Thus, Mulla Nasr ud-Din, "Latin Hurufati va Ingilislar," MND, November 13, 1926 (46) in Asarlari, V, 154-155. when the Times of India, commenting on the Turkish Republic's adoption of the Latin alphabet, allegedly said, "After this latest invention by Turkey, is there a doubt that our Muslims will also betray the caliphate and Islam?" This provokes Mirza Jalil to call the British the "world champions of devilry" and the "universal geniuses of provocation."

Again, he wonders aloud at how a people who are generally indifferent to religion could take the side of religious dogmatists in the Muslim world. Mulla Nasr ud-Din, "Va Shari`ata, Yakhud Ingilis Politikasi," MND, January 30, 1930 (2) in Asarlari, 294-295 and Mulla Nasr ud-Din, "Ingilis Hokumati va Din Sohbatlari," MND, February, 1930 (2) in Asarlari, 296.

Continued Distrust of the Common People

Mirza Jalil's old elitist view of the common people adapted and survived into the Soviet period and even became more open. In the Caucasus as so often elsewhere, atheism was a vice of the educated classes, while blind piety was a vice of the common people. Thus, Mirza Jalil reports in one piece Mulla Nasr ud-Din, "Oruj Yeyanlarin va Oruj Tutanlarin Hesabi," MND, March 26, 1927 (13) in Asarlari, V, 169-79. on a study done in an elementary school. During Ramadan, a little into the afternoon, children are invited one at a time to drink some water. The first was a ten year-old girl, and she drank a little water and sat down. Her father was a teacher in a big school. The second was her friend, a nine year-old. She also drank water. Her mother was a schoolteacher. The third was a shy eight year-old who was fasting. She told her hosts, "My mother remarried to an old man who, last year, took her with him to Kerbala." The fourth drank. His father was an administrator who had graduated from a big school. As he took his seat, he yelled, "Shame on the fasters." The fifth was a faster; her father was an illiterate mashhadi. The sixth was a nine year-old girl. Her mother was a kerbala'i and a fortune-teller. Her mother had told her, "If you eat in school, don't come home." Out of forty students, twenty six fasted: twenty girls and six boys. Of the fasting girls, none of their parents had education.

A year later, Mirza Jalil writes Mulla Nasr ud-Din, "Oruj Yeyanlarin va Oruj Tutanlarin Hesabi," MND, February 3, 1928 (5) in Asarlari, V, 211-2. about a visit to Azerbaijan by a delegation of three from the American Oriental Society as reported by the Moscow Oriental Society. In Baku, they first visited the Turkish Komsomol. Out of 280 members, only three fasted. Then they went to a doctor's club by the sea; a meeting was being held there discussing the struggle against a class of microbes. All seventeen Turkish doctors there ate during the fast. Third, they visited the Stalin Club, where another meeting was in progress. There, too, "no one in the meeting seemed to be fasting, although there was some doubt about the Tatar woman who was serving tea." Here as in the rest of the article, it will be noted that these American orientalists seemed to have been endowed with superhuman powers of observation. Fourth was a meeting of teachers discussing new ways of teaching. Out of 136 teachers, eleven were fasting. Of the rest, most secretly and the rest openly ate. Fifth, the three went to a Party meeting, where only one comrade officer seemed to have been fasting.

From there,

the members of the American society went to Bazarni Street and Qasim bey Mosque. They scrutinized the situation at the mosque saw that out of 300 people, about 200 were illiterate workers and porters. All of them were fasting. The rest were illiterate mashhadis and kerbala'is. All of these, too, were fasting. There was an old teacher and two Turkish chinovniks; these, too, were of course fasting, 32 people were also opium smokers and gamblers. These, too, were fasting.

The mosque was full of illiterate Muslim women in chadors, all of whom were fasting.

There were no fasters to be found among the Muslims of Baku who were scholars, engineers, and professors, and educated Turkish women.

Throughout the Soviet period, the common believers are regularly referred to as the "black masses" (qara jama`at) and are referred to with undisguised contempt and disgust. For example, Langaran is called Jirjirama, "Inzibati Idara," MND, June 21, 1928 (25) in Asarlari, V, 231. an `avamistan, a clearly pejorative term.

Private Misgivings

Despite the public enthusiasm for Soviet policies Mirza Jalil expressed in his later years, his posthumously published private writings show a continuing sense of disillusion with cultural and political life under the Soviet Union.

In one article, "The Proletarian Poet," "Proletar Sha`iri" in Asarlari, I, 256-257. dated February 22, 1929, two poets are waiting to talk with the author. One of them is the proletarian poet Tahsin Fawzi and the other is Shahverdi Khan Nurikhanoghlu, an old-fashioned notable. He describes one of them, whom he takes to be the khan's son, as "an 18 or 20 years old gentleman, very tastefully dressed, wearing his hair long and hanging over his brow like a woman, face as smooth as a girl's, with a long, light neck, a proper European gentleman." The other "was a simple, humbly-dressed man, thirty years old or somewhat older."

Mirza Jalil went to the second of the two and asked what he could do for him.

He got to his feet, humbly, like a poor man, and began relating to me his woes. The Soviet government had exiled him from his village to Shamakhi and condemned him to live there forever.

By now, I was sure that this must be the proletarian poet who had upset the central government buy writing things not to its liking and was therefore exiled from his homeland. And so I asked him just what work of his had so upset the government. At this, my humble, poor guest reluctantly and humbly replied that he is neither a poet nor a writer. Rather, the local government had decided to exile him from his homeland because he was a khan's son and a former landlord.

Mirza Jalil brings the story to a close without further comment on his plight.

In apparently later, undated, piece, "Helplessness," "`Ujuzluq" in Asarlari, I, 293-294. I say "apparently later" because it is included after the previous story in the Asarlari. an orphan from the author's province of Nakhichevan pleads with him to plead with the principal of the Baku Tekhnium to allow him to be admitted, being an orphan. Taking a liking to this fifteen year old, the author agrees.

The principal greets the author with both hands extended and chats amiably with him about where he was planning on wintering. He had found a resort with wonderful waters, all manner of delicacies that are practically given away. The author keeps trying to interrupt, but the principal is too busy talking about the privileges his position gives him, and, with a positively surrealist lack of concern, continues rattling on. The story closes, "We exited to the street, blind with regret. I don't know where the orphan went next, or what he was thinking of doing."

Finally, there is Mirza Jalil's posthumously published and play posthumously titled Yiqinchaq. Asarlari, II, 171-177. In his collected works, it is included as part of a sort of miscellany, not sorted in time order: a piece commonly dated as having been written during or after his sojourn in Tabriz Reference for that piece coming from the Tabriz period. comes before it while one of his first works, dating from his years as a teacher in the village of Nahram, follows it. Internal evidence indicates that it had been written at least six years after the consolidation of soviet power in Azerbaijan, i.e., after 1924. One of the characters refers to a quarrel over land (referred to below) as being a matter belonging to six years ago (Ibid. I, 173).

In this play, word that an important delegation was arriving has caused a stir in an unnamed Muslim village "around Qarabagh." The village soviet president, Hasan `Ali, was trying to assemble the people to listen to the mysterious visitor. But the people have mysteriously vanished. Hasan `Ali dresses down his flunky Zeinal, who is carrying a whip. Zeinal pleads that he did all he could, but the people just do not want to come to the meeting. "I can't drag them here by force." Hasan `Ali screams, "What do you mean you can't get them here? I'll kill you! What, the people have their own will?" When Zeinal continues his plea, Hasan `Ali screams, "The villagers ignored what the government says and want to trample on its orders--I'll kill them, too!" The yesmen around him duly agree.

The old social elite, as personified in Karbala'i Salah, is portrayed as the only break on the soviet chief's unbridled power. He approaches Hasan `Ali and says, "Son, God be with you. Stop this talk and go. I don't know what all this chatter is about. Enough already, God be with you, let's see what's going to happen to us. Let's see who's coming and why." Next enters Kalish bey, a former landlord. He is silent and sits in the corner, telling his prayer beads. The soviet chief informs him he has no right to be present. The landlord replies, "Fine, there are no elections here, there is no discussion here. What harm could it do you if I sit here in silence?" The landlord then turns to the soviet chief and pleads that the silo he had sold to the local soviet has not been paid for. The soviet chief says it was not sold when he was soviet chief, and therefore he takes no responsibility. The landlord, who is now broke, pleads, but the soviet chief's lackeys, along with the common people, take the soviet chief's side. As a parting shot, the ruined landlord declares, "OK, I'm going. But our soviet government is a just government. It will not be content that after every bit of my property, my land, and my livestock kahriz, the name of Hamida khanum's village. has been taken and given to the peasants, the money from my miserable silo, the soviet chief would throw away three or four rubles, pocket money for me. What else is new? I'm just an old landlord. Well, what's the use? Good-bye."

The villagers laugh at this spectacle, but Qorban, a servant, looks on in fear. Hasan `Ali takes his right to vote away and objects when asked why--he has no right to ask. He does the same to everyone who objects.

Finally, after mounting anxiety and speculation, two men from the Center gallop into the village. One begins to speak. He is from the Propaganda Division. He prefaces his comments by telling the villagers, "In previous ages, people lived like beasts," being led around by whomever happened to be in power, as he willed. "Now, the toilers have joined hands and no longer want to be led about like a herd of animals and will no longer bow before any king or khan or bey. In order to exploit the black masses, the kings and beys and khans tried to keep them in darkness." The irony of this statement would not have been lost on Mulla Nasr ud-Din's readers. The officer then introduces his colleague, who declares, "Listen to what I have to say or you will fail." He proceeds to lead the villagers around and stand on his absolute authority. But when it comes to saying what he had come to say, words fail him. Finally, at the villagers' urging, he says, "There is no God." The villagers ask, "What do you mean, there is not God?" "He doesn't exist! That's what I mean!" The people stare at one another in bewilderment. Then a sayyed asks, "Fine, comrade, are you serious or are you kidding?" "This is not the place for jokes! How could I be kidding?" Again, the people look on, aghast. The last word goes to Kerbala'i Alish: "Fine, comrade, if it's not too much trouble, let's see how he doesn't exist. I mean, does he simply not exist or does he have an itty-bitty bit of existence?"

And so, Mirza Jalil's career came full circle. The champion of progress against the old social classes has come to champion the ruined notables as a break on the rapacity of the apostles of progress.

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