Iranian Personalities

Ahmad Kasravi

Ahmad Kasravi
Ahmad Kasravi, born on September 29, 1890 in Tabriz, Iran. While still in his teens Kasravi warmed to the principles and ideals of the Iranian Constitutional Movement in spite of his ultra conservative religious background and the atmosphere of the poor, backward section of Tabriz in which he grew up. Having reached the status of mullah [priest] at the age of twenty, Kasravi flatly repudiated all that he considered to be unenlightened and repressive in the education, precepts and practices of the Shia branch of Islam and turned wholeheartedly to the pursuit of knowledge, truth and social justice. He taught Arabic at the Presbyterian-run American Memorial School in Tabriz, contributed to the liberal journals in Egypt and Syria, wrote an Arabic grammar book for the Ministry of Education in Azarbaijan.

From 1921 to 1933 Kasravi was a Judge in the Ministry of Justice, serving in Damavand, Zanjan, Khorasan, and Khozestan where he tried to establish legal authority in face of the power of the British minion in the Iranian oil field area, Sheikh Khaz'al the Amir of Mohammareh. In mid 1920's at the time of Ali Akbar Davar's reorganization of the ministry, he rose to be chief of the Courts of First Instance in Tehran. In that position he constantly annoyed Davar with his manner of administering justice and frequently ruling against the interests of the power elite. Eventually he ran afoul of the Royal Court which wanted to confiscate some villages near Tehran (Evin), to hand over to a fractious mullah. The farmers sought judicial assistance and Kasravi ruled against the Royal Court of Reza Shah, going the same day to Evin to make sure that his decree was enforced. Kasravi published almost one hundred books and essays between 1932 and 1946, all of them dealing primarily with Iran except for a history of America, a translation of Plutarch selections from English to Persian, and an essay entitled "A Message to the Scholars of Europe and America", written during the second World War. He published PaymAn, for seven consecutive years and for one year he printed a daily newspaper Parcham (Flag), which also appeared in weekly form.

According to Kasravi, in present-day Islamic societies two diametrically different Islams coexist. One is Islam that was brought by the Prophet Muhammad and which was practiced during Muhammad's leadership of the Ummah. That was a pure and unadulterated faith based on the principles of unity, loyalty to the cause of Islam, and defense for the faith or jihad. The zeal for truth and justice that had unified the disparate Arab tribes and propelled them into conquests in the name of truth and justice, Kasravi argued, has vanished. It vanished, according to Kasravi, soon after the death of the Prophet.

The other Islam is the one that is practiced today; an Islam created by the clergies. Disunited, he said, present-day Islam is plagued by factional strife among Sunnis, Shi'is, Zaidis, Isma'ilis, Shaykhis, Ali Allahis, and many other factions on the one hand and burdened by regionalism, nationalism, and tribalism on the other hand. Once a unified ummah (Islamic Nation) during the time of the Prophet, the community is now divided into Iranian Shi'ites, Iraqi Sunnites, Saudi Wahhabis, and the like. The unity has gone the way of the purity with which the faith had graced the world at its birth.

Among his most famous historical books are: History of the Constitution of Iran, History of 18 years in Azarbaijan, Azari, Ancient Language of Azarbaijan, Little History of the Lion and the Sun, Bahaism, Sofism and Shi'ism.

It is obvious that a figure like Kasravi could not have lived but among enemies. His friends, although dedicated to his cause, were comparatively few and scattered all over the country. He was attacked vehemently by the Shi'ite clergy for his liberal ideas and by the court for his anti-monarchical statements. And he defended himself where the law and the courts were involved. There were two attempts on his life. The first, in April 1945, the year during which he had published his most scathing works, was unsuccessful. But the next year in 1946 by the Fada'iyan-e Islam assassinated him in the court chamber where Kasravi was defending himself against anti-Islamic charges.

  1. Concerning Reason, 1936
  2. History of the Iranian Constitutional Revolution, 1940
  3. Education or Deception?, 1943
  4. What Is Education?, 1943

  5. "The books below are in Persian, unfortunately we do not have any English version yet."

  6. Bahaism, 1944
  7. Shi'ism, 1944
  8. Sufism, 1944

  9. About Islam, 1944
  10. God Is with US, 1944
  11. On Literature, 1944
  12. The Government Must Answer Us, 1944

  13. The following books or articles are in PDF You need Acrobat Reader to view this file, Please click on this icon to obtain it from the site of Adobe. format.

  14. Vocabulary of Pure Language (Vazhehname Zaban-e Pak), 1944; (1415 KB, in Persian)
  15. What Does Hafiz Say? 1944
  16. Dialogue, 1945
  17. History of the Pipe and the Hooka, 1945
  18. In Response to the Malevolent, 1945
  19. Let Them Read and Pass Judgment, 1945
  20. My Life, 1945
  21. Our Daughters and Sisters, 1945
  22. Sheikh Safi and His Family, 1945
  23. The History of the Lion and the Sun, 1945
  24. Five-Hundred-Year History of Khouzestan, 1950
  25. Eighteen-Year History of Azerbaijan, 1967