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The following are some excerpts of the article at www.iranicaonline.org/articles/constitutional-revolution-i which mention the Baha'i Faith.

Constitutional Revolution:
Intellectual Background

by Abbas Amanat

published in Encyclopaedia Iranica, 6, pages 163-176
New York: Columbia University, 1992
... That the Constitutional Revolution was the first of its kind in the Islamic world, earlier than the revolution of the Young Turks in 1908, can be partly explained by the situation in Persia in the latter half of the 19th century. Between 1264/1848 and 1268/1852 the state and the religious establishment were able to stifle both of the available options for fundamental change. On one hand, the millennarian and revolutionary Babi movement (1260-68/1844-52; see Babism) was crushed by military force, though its agenda of opposition to the Qajar monarchy and the clerical establishment survived within the amorphous body of Persian dissent. On the other hand, to the extent that the administrative, military, educational, and economic reforms of the celebrated premier Mírzá Taqí Khan Amír(e) Kabír (q.v.) were implemented, they contributed to the exposure of Persia to Western institutions and ideas but at the same time inadvertently helped to sustain the Qajar monarchy and to prolong through inertia the coexistence between the state and the clergy during most of Náser-al-Dín Shah’s reign (1264-1313/1848-96), often against the forces of popular dissent (Eqbál; Ádamíyat, 1348 S./1969; Amanat, 1989). Although advocates of political reform were isolated in the following decades and all moves toward opening the political system were resisted, dissent was never completely uprooted. The protest over the Tobacco Régie (q.v.) in 1309-10/1891-92 should thus be seen as the first sign of popular revolt against the prevailing order. It was almost a rehearsal for the Constitutional Revolution, creating a tacit anti-imperialist and antimonarchist coalition of clerics, mercantile interests, and dissident intellectuals. During the reign of Mozaffar-al-Dín Shah (1313-24/1896-1906) the new intelligentsia used the press and modern education to win the support of this tacit coalition for a secular agenda of material and moral rejuvenation, patriotism, and political reform.

...

Ákhúndzáda (Russ. Akhundov; 1812-78) was the forerunner of a secularist school with manifest anticlerical views; many themes of the constitutional period—secular education, moral reconstruction, hostility to superstition—can be traced to his writings. Ákhúndzáda, who spent all his adult life in the Russian civil service, was anti-Islamic and an atheist (1963; Algar, 1973, pp. 86-99). He sought a cultural awakening based on disengagement from Islam and the Arab element associated with it, a goal that he shared with the Qajar prince Jalál-al-Dín Mírzá (Náma-ye khosraván II, pp. 3-18). As early as 1279/1863, in his Maktúbát, he attacked Náser-al-Dín Shah for his “ignorance of progress,” love of luxury and flattery, failure in war, and misgovernment and cautioned him that, unless he adopted modern laws, he would face another threat like the Babi revolt. He called on “the Persian people” (ahl-e írán) to throw off the yoke of submission, to unite in the “houses of oblivion” (farámúsh-khánahá, political groups patterned after the lodges of the Freemasons) and “societies” (majámeʿ), and to liberate themselves from the oppression of the “despot” by means of progress and free thought (1364 Š./1985, pp. 22-64). Ákhúndzáda’s contribution to the Constitutional Revolution should, however, be seen primarily in his social criticism, presented through the new media of drama and colloquial language, transplanted from the Russian tradition with some success. Translations of his Azeri Turkish plays were the first to be read and appreciated by a larger circle of the Persian intelligentsia (1273/1856; cf. Ádamíyat, 1349 Š./1970; Altstadt-Mirhadi; Alieve; see vii, below).

Kermání (1270-1314/1854-96), a writer and activist in the Istanbul expatriate circle with socialist leanings, also advocated the need for a constitutional regime and a secular culture and even anticipated the occurrence of a popular revolution. He came from a peripheral Sufi background and was influenced by Babism. He was a disciple of Afḡání and a supporter of Malkom, but above all he shared Ákhúndzáda’s critical assessment of the Islamic past as the chief cause of the decline of Persia. Kermání’s emphasis on pre-Islamic Persian roots as the source for a national reawakening exerted some influence on the writings of the constitutional period (see his accounts of pre-Islamic history, 1324-26/1906-08, 1316/1898; cf. Ádamíyat, 1346 Š./1967, pp. 241-87; Bayat, 1982, pp. 157-75). Executed after the assassination of Náser-al-Dín Shah, he was remembered as a martyr to Qajar oppression, holding a prominent place in the intellectual genealogy of the Constitutional Revolution.

...

A less widely acknowledged work by an early expatriate was al-Resála al-madaníya, written in 1292/1875 by Mírzá ʿAbbás Núrí ʿAbd-al-Baháʾ, who developed themes from the writings of his father, Mírzá Hosayn-ʿAlí Núrí Baháʾ-Alláh (qq.v.). He proposed creation of representative institutions not unlike those envisioned by the Young Ottomans, some of whom were in exile with the Bahai leaders in ʿAkká, Palestine. ʿAbd-al-Baháʾ criticized the ʿolamáʾ for their rigidity and proposed the establishment of “councils” (majáles) and “consultative assemblies” (maḥáfel-e mashwarat) of devout and learned “elected representatives” (aʿżá-ye montakhaba).

...

Themes expounded by expatriates often reached Persia through dissident circles with radical aspirations. The small but influential circle of Azalí Babis and their sympathizers included at least six major preachers of the Constitutional Revolution. By the beginning of the 20th century the separation of the Bahai majority and the Azalí minority was complete. The Babis, loyal to the practice of dissimulation (taqíya), adopted a fully Islamic guise and enjoyed a brief revival during the reign of Mozaffar-al-Dín Shah. As they broadened their appeal beyond the Babi core, a loose network of assemblies (majles) and societies (anjomans) gradually evolved into a political forum in which both clerical and secular dissidents who favored reform were welcome. These radicals remained loyal to the old Babi ideal of mass opposition to the conservative ʿolamáʾ and Qajar rule. An example of their approach is Roʾyá-ye sádeqa, a lampoon in which the notorious Áqá Najafí Esfahání is tried on Judgment Day; it was written by Nasr-Alláh Beheshtí, better known as Malek-al-Motakallemín, and Sayyed Jamál-al-Dín Wáʿez Esfahání, two preachers of the constitutional period with Babi leanings. Such figures as the celebrated educator and political activist Mírzá Yaḥyá Dawlatábádí; Moḥammad-Mahdí Sharíf Káshání, a close advisor to Sayyed ʿAbd-Alláh Behbahání and chronicler of the revolution; and the journalist Mírzá Jahángír Khan Súr-e Esráfíl shared the same Babi background and were associated with the same circle (Malekzáda, 1328 Sh./1949, II, pp. 236-44). A reform-oriented critique of the clerical establishment, Taḥrír al-ʿoqaláʾ by Shaikh Hádí Najmábádí (d. 1320/1902), epitomized the dissent even among senior mojtaheds. As a response Sayyed Moḥammad-Sádeq Ṭabáṭabáʾí called for his excommunication (takfír; Browne, Persian Revolution, p. 406). Although these men were barred from the First Majles, on the ground of their suspected “corrupt belief,” their influence is evident in the Constitution and its provisions for civil liberties. What Sayyed Jamál-al-Dín and Malek-al-Motakallemín expounded from the pulpit to their large and enthusiastic audiences, what the newspaper Súr-e Esráfíl presented to its readers, was a call for patriotism and political awakening, for radical change and ultimately revolution, in language accessible to the masses (al-Jamál 135, Moḥarram 1325-Rabíʿ I 1326/February 1907-April 1908, passim; for Sayyed Jamál-al-Dín’s sermons, see Yaḡmáʾí). Even before the revolution these popular preachers had recognized the benefits of acquiring the backing of high-ranking mojtaheds who were supportive of constitutional reforms. Having their blessing made constitutionalists immune from charges of ill belief and allowed them to voice their criticisms with greater liberty. The proconstitutional mojtaheds, on the other hand, sought such alliances with activists not only because of their own liberal convictions but also because they found in their preaching a channel to augment their own popular standing. This informal alliance was supported by the merchants of the bázár and the reform-minded nobility. In the coup d’etat of June 1908 Moḥammad-ʿAlí Shah (1324-27/1907-09) succeeded in eradicating the Babi core of this group, which he and the conservative religious leader Shaikh Fażl-Alláh Núrí blamed for radicalism inside and outside the Majles.

...

During the debate on the supplement (motammem) to the Constitution in 1325/1907, supporters of mashrúʿa, led by Núrí, criticized the Majles on three grounds. First, they argued that laymen with no training in jurisprudence, and often with secularist tendencies, were unqualified to legislate in accordance with the Sharíʿa. In response, the Majles was obliged to reaffirm the express commitment to Islam in the Constitution and to acknowledge the ascendancy of the Sharíʿa over its own legislation. After much acrimonious debate the Majles also agreed to a committee of five mojtaheds with authority to veto legislation incompatible with the Sharíʿa (Art. 2), though in practice the Majles never consented to its convening. Second, supporters of mashrúʿa denounced the Majles for adopting the principle of equality before the law. Núrí argued that equal rights for religious minorities, implicit in the supplement to the Constitution, were in open contradiction to the inherent legal and civil privileges of Muslims over recognized religious minorities (ahl-e ḏemma) and warned of the ascendancy of Babis and atheists in the Majles and the country.

...

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