Hasan Taqizadeh

Hasan Taqizadeh

Sayyed Hasan [Hassan is a variant and common spelling of Hasan.] Taqizādeh [Taghizādeh is an alternative spelling of Taqizādeh.] (سيدحسن تقي زاده) (September, 1878, Tabriz, Iran — January, 1970, Tehran, Iran) [The original version of this text was extracted from the Master Thesis by "Sepehr H. Joussefi" (see References and External Links); some editorial changes had been unavoidable. In its present form, this text as yet almost entirely relies on the text by Joussefi.] was an influential politician and diplomat [Taqizadeh is also considered an eminent scholar in the field of Iranian Studies. In 1965 the celebrated Iranist M. J. Dresden wrote:

"Though "throughout his life matters of state and government have been his preoccupation", S. H. Taqizadeh, who was born in 1878, has applied his vast knowledge and sure imagination to the study of classical Persian literature, the chronology of Iran, Zoroastrianism and Manicheism. His contributions on these subjects which are listed in a brief bibliography ("A locust's leg", pp. 19-20) are of permanent value and they will remain indispensable to future students. Taqizadeh's career, a rare combination of statesman and scholar, is reminiscent of such French politicians and scholarly authors as his contemporaries Léon Blum and Édouard Herriot who were also uncommonly successful in integrating a political career and public life with a scholarly avocation."
] during the Qajar dynasty under the reign of Muhammad Ali Shah, as well as the Pahlavi dynasty under the reign of Reza Shah [Taqizadeh was one of the four Deputies who voted no on the question of the change of the Qajar dynasty to the Pahlavi dynasty in October 1925; the other three were Sayyed Hasan Modarres, the left nationalist Yahya Doulatabadi, and Mohammed Mosaddeq. A constituent assembly endorsed the dynastic change in December, only three Socialist Deputies abstaining. (Nikki R. Keddie, p. 86).] and Muhammad Reza Shah. Although in the modern political history Taqizadeh is known as a secular politician, who believed that "outwardly and inwardly, in body and in spirit, Iran must become Europeanized", ["In Berlin the Democrat leader Sayyed Hasan Taqizadeh edited two series of the important newspaper "Kaveh" (named after a legendary blacksmith who liberated Iran). The first series, published during the War, aimed largely at getting Iranians to support the Central Powers against Britain and Russia, while the second was the main organ of the new Iranian nationalist culture. In additition to supporting new young writers like Muhammad Ali Jamalzadeh, it contained striking editorial features by Taqizadeh, in one of which he said that Iran must become wholly Western in every way if it were to progress; this is perhaps the high point of the Westernist view of nationalism, which Taqizadeh himself later modified." (Nikki R. Keddie, p. 181).] he came from a traditional Islamic Sayyed-family (descendant of Muhammad). His father, Sayyed Taqi, was a clergy and when Sayyed Hasan became mullah, it seemed likely that he would follow in his father's footsteps. From an early age Taqizadeh showed interest in enlightened ideas and the Western concept of constitutionalism. This interest can be traced back to the socio-political sphere in which Taqizadeh became an adult. He grew up in Tabriz, the capital city of Azarbaijan province, which was the gateway to the modern and progressive ideas coming from Russia and especially Western Europe.


Secretly Taqizadeh studied French and English for the purpose of becoming acquainted with the Western enlightenment and modern political thoughts. Nevertheless, he became mullah and remained one until the period in which the traditional Iranian political and socio-economic system disintegrated and the modern Iranian nation-state was formed. As early as the beginning of his political career he confronted the corrupt and despotic régime of the Qajar princes, who seemed unable to prevent the decay of their dynasty. Convinced of the destructive consequences of the despotism and corruption for the political and socio-economic development of Iran, Taqizadeh actively participated in the Constitutional Revolution ("Mashruteh" Revolution), which resulted in the foundation of the Majles (Parliament - مجلس شورای ملی). From this period onwards he developed into a secular enlightened politician, who advocated the separation of state and religion.

In 1909, under the guidance of Taqizadeh the first modern political party, the "Ferqeh-ye Demokrat-e Iran" (Democratic Party of Iran), was founded in Iran. Shortly after the outbreak of World War I, Taqizadeh allied with Germany against Russia and Britain. In Berlin he established the "Komiteh-ye Iran" (Committee of Iran), and together with other prominent Iranian intellectuals, he published the influential periodical "Kaveh" (1916-1922), which was distributed in Europe as well as in Iran. "Kaveh" was a political and literary journal which greatly contributed to the creation of the Iranian consciousness and national identity. This journal emphasized the need for national independence, and internal reforms, especially secular and educational ones.

Under the reign of Reza Shah Pahlavi (1925-1941), Taqizadeh contributed to the formation of the modern Iranian nation-state. During his political career of seventy years, Taqizadeh served as parliamentarian, governor-general of Khorasan province, minister of Roads and Transportation, minister of Finance, and ambassador to the United Kingdom and France. Although at the time of the Constitutional Revolution he opposed the formation of the Senate ("Majles-e Sena", مجلس سنا — defunct since 1979, following adoption of a new constitution), in 1950, during the imperial government of Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi (1941-1978), he became its President. Taqizadeh described his life as a "tempestous life" ("Zendegi-ye Tufani"), which he later used as the title of his autobiography.

Taqizadeh's views are not characterized by ideological continuity, but by many breaks in the course of his life, which have contributed to the difficulty of writing a consistent account of his life. Taqizadeh was a natural politician. If he was convinced that his alliance with a person or country would further interests of Iran, he often was ready to ally himself with them. Similarly, he would abandon his allies if he believed that his alliance would be detrimental to his country. The following two quotations are indicative of the divergence of views that exist concerning Taqizadeh:

"He [Taqizadeh] had won deserved fame by his fearless independence and wonderful grasp of political affairs. There is something so sympathetic in his face, so attractive, with eyes sparkling with cheerful animation. (...). If I am not mistaken he is of those whose genius is capable of inspiring great enthusiasm, great sacrifices, and whose influence leaves a lasting impression of the history of nations." (Edward Granville Browne)

"In which position was Taqizadeh true and sincere? What were the motives of that contradictory behaviour? He was not adept at political truth and honour." (Fereydun Adamiyyat)

Views vary as to the degree to which Taqizadeh served the interests of Iran and her people. Some experts believe that he made the Iranian interests secondary to that of the United Kingdom during the period of the Constitutional Revolution, and to that of Germany during the World War I. Others suggest that he allied with the United Kingdom with the intention of protecting Iran against the Russian expansionist policies. They are of the opinion that Taqizadeh was a supporter of the Iranian constitution and that during the World War I he allied with Germany to oppose the Anglo-Russian influence which was aimed at undermining Iran's independence. In addition, they believe that in 1942 Taqizadeh attempted to bring about a close relationship between Iran and the United States of America in order to guarantee a balance of powers conducive to Iran's independence.

October 7, 1906 — June 23, 1908). The central photograph is that of Mortezā Qoli Khan Sani od-Dauleh, the first Chairman of the First Majles.]

Chronology of Taqizadeh's life

September 1878: Born in Tabriz.

1896: Established the "Tarbiyat" (Education) school and a bookshop and set up a pharmacy in collaboration with his friends in Tabriz.

1898: Taught physics at "Loqmaniya" in Tabriz. Translated the book " 'Ajaeb-e Asemani" ("Astrnomie Populaire") by Camille Flammarion.

1899/1900: Studied English at the American Memorial School in Tabriz (the Presbyterian mission school in Tabriz).

January 1903 — January 1904: Published the magazine "Ganjineh-ye Fonun" (Treasure of Sciences).

1904: Travelled to the Caucasus and Istanbul for six months, to Egypt for several months and to Beirut for fifty days. Published the discourse "Tahqiq-e Ahval-e kononi-ye Iran ba Mohakemat-e Tarikhi" (Research into the contemporary condition of Iran from historical perspective) in newspaper "Hekmat" (Wisdom), in Cairo.

October 1905: Returned to Tabriz.

September 1906: Arrived in Tehran. Published some articles in "Neda-ye Vatan" (Voice of Nation).

October 1906: Elected by merchants of Tabriz as deputy to the First Majles. Published articles in "Sur-e Esrafil" (whose editor, Mirza Jahangir Khan, of Bábí background, was killed following Mohammad Ali Shah's coup d'état of June 23, 1908) and "Mosavat" (Equality).

June 1908: Was exiled from Iran by Mohammad Ali Shah; left for Europe.

September 1908: Organised political activities against Mohammad Ali Shah in the United Kingdom.

November 1908: Returned to Tabriz.

August 1909: Arrived in Tehran after the victory of "Mojaheds". Membership to the "Temporarily Board of Directors". Elected deputy to the Second Majles.

October 1909: Deputy to the Second Majles and parliamentary leader of "Ferqeh-ye Demokrat-e Iran" (Democratic Party of Iran).

1910: Left (forced to leave Tehran) for Tabriz after the assassination of Sayyed Abdullah Behbahani (one of two prime "Mojahed" leadres of the revolution, the other being Sayyed Mohammad Tabātabā'i). Stayed for some months in Tabriz.

October 1910: Arrived in Istanbul, staying there for almost two years.

1911: Left Istanbul for Europe.

June 1913: Left for New York, staying for nineteen months in the United States of America. Published four political articles in French about the political situations of Iran, Ottoman and Arabic countries in "Revue du Monde Musulman" (Study of the Muslim World).

January 1915: Left the United States of America for Germany (Berlin), travelling through the Netherlands.

January 1916 — March 1922: Published the periodical "Kaveh" (Blacksmith) in collaboration with such important writers as Sayyed Mohammad-Ali Jamalzadeh (son of Sayyed Jamal ad-Din Esfahani) and Hosain Kazemzadeh (who later became editor of the nationalist paper "Iranshahr" [See Ebrahim Poordavood.] ). ["Among "Kaveh's" topics were public education, equality for women, the need for a strong central government and to control the tribes, and advocay of sports and more translations from Western languages." (Nikki R. Keddie, p. 80). "The wartime issues of "Kaveh" were largely nationalist and pro-German, but also had cultural content."(Nikki R. Keddie, p. 74).]

January 1922 — July 1923: Went, as deputy of the Iranian State, to Moscow for formation of a friendship agreement. Stayed for one and a half year in Moscow.

1923: Married to his German wife, whom he called by the name " 'Atiyeh" (Gift).

July 1924: Returned to Iran. Elected deputy to the Fifth Majles. Became member of the "Ma'aref" (Cultural Affairs) Commission.

June 1926: Travelled to the United States of America as official Iranian representative to the Philadelphia Sesquicentennial Exposition of 1926. Membership of the "Council of Founders" of the "Society of National Opuses".

1927: Returned to Iran. Elected deputy to the Sixth Majles.

1928: Became Governor-general of Khorasan province.

1929: Became Iranian Minister Plenipotentiary to London.

March 1930: Returned to Iran. Accepted to become Minister of Roads and Transport.

August 1930 — August 1933: Was Minister of Finance.

April 1933: Singing of the prolongation of the oil-concession.

November 1933 — July 1934: Became Iranian Minister Plenipotentiary to Paris.

1934: Travelled to the United Kingdom for his Lecture at Royal Society of Arts about the Iranian situation. End of his duties assigned to him by the Iranian embassy in Paris. Left for Berlin, staying there for fifteen months.

1935: Was Iranian Deputy at the "International Association of Orientalists" in Rome.

1936: Went to London to teach at the then School of Oriental Studies (SOAS), University of London. Taqizadeh was a temporary member of the teaching staff of Iranian and Persian Studies alongside Vladimir Minorsky, A. J. Arberry and W. B. Henning. He briefly moved with SOAS to University of Cambridge when SOAS was evacuated to there at the beginning of the World War II.

October 1941: Became Iranian ambassador to the United Kingdom. Was Chairman of the Iranian delegation to the United Nations in connection with the case of Azarbaijan.

1945: Protest to the United Nations in connection with the Russian occupation of Tabriz.

October 1947: Elected deputy from Tabriz to the Fifteenth Majles. Was Chairman of the Iranian Board at the Congress of Orientalists (Cambridge, United Kingdom), Chairman of the Iranian Board at International Congress of Avicenna (Baghdad), Chairman of International Congress of Avicenna (Tehran).

1949 — 1967: Deputy at the Senate. Chairman of Senate.

1954: Was Scientific adviser and member of the Board of Directors of the "Translation Institution and Book Publication".

1954: Participated in the International Congress of Orientalists in Cambridge (United Kingdom).

1957: Chairman of the Iranian Board at Congress of Orientalists (Munich). Went to the United States of America for teaching at Columbia University.

1958: Was Chairman of the Iranian Society of Philosophy and Humanities. Participated in the establishment of an offset printing-house.

1966: Was Chairman of the first International Congress of Iranists (Tehran).

January 1970: Died in Tehran.



* Sepehr H. Joussefi, "Seyyed Hasan Taqizadeh: a Political Biography in the Context of Iranian Modernization", Master Thesis (University of Utrecht, The Netherlands, 1998). [http://www.let.uu.nl/~Sepehr.Joussefi/personal/Political-Biography-of-Taqizadeh.htm]

* Nikki R. Keddie, with a section by Yann Richard, "Modern Iran: Roots and results of revolution", revised and updated edition (Yale University Press, New Haven, 2003). ISBN 0-300-09856-1

* A locust's leg. "Studies in honour of S. H. Taqizadeh", pp. vii and 250 (Percy Lund, Humphries & Co., Ltd., London, 1962). For a review of this work see: M. J. Dresden, "Journal of the American Oriental Society", Vol. 85, No. 2, pp. 260-262 (1965). [http://links.jstor.org/sici?sici=0003-0279(196504%2F06)85%3A2%3C260%3AALLSIH%3E2.0.CO%3B2-4]

Further reading

* Ahmad Kasravi, "Tarikh-e Mashruteh-ye Iran" (تاریخ مشروطهٔ ایران) (History of the Iranian Constitutional Revolution), in Persian, 951 p. (Negāh Publications, Tehran, 2003), ISBN 9643511383. Note: This book is also available in two volumes, published by "Amir Kabir Publications" in 1984. "Amir Kabir's" 1961 edition is in one volume, 934 pages.
* Ahmad Kasravi, "History of the Iranian Constitutional Revolution: Tarikh-e Mashrute-ye Iran", Volume I, translated into English by Evan Siegel, 347 p. (Mazda Publications, Costa Mesa, California, 2006). ISBN 1568591977
* Mehdi Malekzādeh, "Tārikh-e Enqelāb-e Mashrutyyat-e Iran" (تاريخ انقلاب مشروطيت ايران) (The History of the Constitutional Revolution of Iran), in 7 volumes, published in 3 volumes, 1697 p. (Sokhan Publications, Tehran, 2004 — 1383 .)
* Mangol Bayat, "Iran’s First Revolution: Shi’ism and the Constitutional Revolution of 1905 – 1909", Studies in Middle Eastern History, 336 p. (Oxford University Press, 1991). ISBN 019506822X
* John Foran, "The Strengths and Weaknesses of Iran’s Populist Alliance: A Class Analysis of the Constitutional Revolution of 1905 - 1911", Theory and Society, Vol. 20, No. 6, pp. 795-823 (December 1991). [http://links.jstor.org/sici?sici=0304-2421(199112)20%3A6%3C795%3ATSAWOI%3E2.0.CO%3B2-3 JSTOR]

Books by Taqizadeh

* S. H. Taqizadeh, "Old Iranian Calendars" (Royal Asiatic Society, London, 1938). ISBN 0-718-90933-X, ISBN 978-0718909338.
* Payam Nabarz, and S. H. Taqizadeh, "The Persian 'Mar Nameh': The Zoroasterian 'Book of the Snake', Omens and Calendar and The Old Iranian Calendar" (Twin Serpents, Oxford, 2006). ISBN 1-905-52425-0, ISBN 978-1905524259.

See also

* Howard Baskerville (1885-1909), the "American Lafayette in Iran".

External links

* Sepehr H. Joussefi, "Seyyed Hasan Taqizadeh: a Political Biography in the Context of Iranian Modernization", Master Thesis (University of Utrecht, The Netherlands, 1988). [http://www.let.uu.nl/~Sepehr.Joussefi/personal/Political-Biography-of-Taqizadeh.htm]
* S. H. Taqizadeh, "Old Iranian Calendars" (Printed and published under the patronage of the Royal Asiatic Society, 1938). [http://www.avesta.org/taqizad.htm]
* A short biography of S. H. Taqizadeh in Persian. [http://www.tafrihi.com/zandeginame/28.htm]
* "Images of Revolution. The Constitutionalist Revolution: 1906-1909." [http://www.irvl.net/const-gallerty.htm]

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