Ahmad Kasravi

Ahmad Kasravi

Ahmad Kasravi (Oil Painting on Canvas by Shapour Suren-Pahlav)
Native name احمد کسروی
Born Ahmad Kasravī-ye Tabrīzī
(1890-09-29)29 September 1890
Tabriz, Iran
Died March 11, 1946(1946-03-11) (aged 55)
Tehran, Iran
Nationality Iranian
Known for Ancient Languages, history, Politics, religion, and Philosophy.
Notable work The Constitutional History of Iran; The 18 Year History of Azarbaijan; The Forgotten Kings (all in Persian)

Ahmad Kasravi (29 September 1890 11 March 1946; Persian: احمد کسروی) was a notable Iranian linguist, historian, and reformer.

Born in Hokmabad (Hohmavar), Tabriz, Iran, Kasravi was an Iranian Azeri.[1][2] Initially, Kasravi enrolled in a seminary. Later, he joined the Iranian Constitutional Revolution. He experienced a sort of conversion to Western learning when he learned that the comet of 1910 had been identified as a reappearance of Halley's comet. He abandoned his clerical training after this event and enrolled in the American Memorial School of Tabriz. Thenceforward he became, in Roy Mottahedeh's words, "a true anti-cleric."[3]


It was in Tbilisi where he first became acquainted with a wide spectrum of political ideas and movements, and he soon was employed by the government of Iran in various cultural posts.

A prolific writer, Kasravi was very critical of both the Shi'a clergy and of the policies of the central government. His outspoken ways would lead him to have many supporters and critics starting from the Reza Shah period. While Abdolhossein Teymourtash was a strong supporter of his works, Mohammad Ali Foroughi is said to have taken strong exception to his literary theories and banned him from contributing to the Farhangestan or to continue publishing. Moreover, he had liberal views on religion, was a strong supporter of democracy, and expressed them in satirical pamphlets like What Is the Religion of the Hajis with Warehouses? that infuriated many readers. His views earned him many powerful enemies such as Ayatollah Khomeini.

His detailed account of the Constitutional Revolution still stands out as one of the most important sources on the events, even though Kasravi was a teenager at the time of the revolution and cannot claim the full authority of a contemporary witness that his writing at times suggests.

Works about the Old Azeri language

Kasravi is known for his solid and controversial research work on the ancient Azari language. He showed that the ancient Azari language was an offshoot of Pahlavi language. Due to this discovery, he was granted membership of the London Royal Asiatic Society and American Academy.[4]

Arguing that the ancient Azari language had been closely related to Persian language and the influx of Turkic words began only with the Seljuq invasion, Ahmad Kasravi believed that the true national language of Iranian Azerbaijan was Persian and therefore advocated the linguistic assimilation of Persian in Azarbaijan.[5] In 1927-8 Ahmad Kasravi led the way in establishing the ancestry of the Safavids dynasty with the publication of three influential articles, and disputed the validity of the 'official' Safavid family tree contained in the Safvat al-Safa, and argued convincingly that the ancestors of Shaykh Safi al-Din, who founded the Safavid Order (tariqa), were indigenous inhabitants of Iran. Today, the consensus among Safavid historians is that the Safavid family hailed from Persian Kurdistan.[6]


On 11 March 1946, while being tried on charges of "slander against Islam," Kasravi and one of his assistants named Seyyed Mohammad Taghi Haddadpour, were knifed and killed in open court in Tehran by Navvab Safavi, a Shi'a extremist cleric who had founded an organization called the Fadayan-e Islam (literally Devotees of Islam), and two of his followers.[7] The same group had failed in assassinating Kasravi earlier in April 1945 in Tehran. Ayatollah Borujerdi and Ayatollah Sadr_al-Din_al-Sadr had issued fatwas for killing Ahmad Kasravi.[8]


Some of his more famous books are:

See also


  1. V. Minorsky. Mongol Place-Names in Mukri Kurdistan (Mongolica, 4), Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, Vol. 19, No. 1, pp. 58-81 (1957), p. 66. JSTOR
  2. Iran and Its Place Among Nations, Alidad Mafinezam, Aria Mehrabi, 2008, p.57
  3. Mottahedeh, Roy (2009). The mantle of the prophet : religion and politics in Iran (Rev. ed.). Oxford [England]: Oneworld Publications. p. 104. ISBN 9781851686162.
  4. احمد کسروی؛ پژوهشگری،سرکشی و خرده نگری Khosro Naghed Archived February 9, 2006, at the Wayback Machine.
  5. Tadeusz Swietochowski, Russia and a Borderland in Transition Azerbaijan, 122-289 p. (Columbia University Press, 1995). ISBN 0-231-07068-3
  6. Savory, Roger M. (1995-03-16). "Iran Chamber Society: History of Iran: Is there an ultimate use for historians? Reflections on Safavid history and historiography". Iranchamber.com. Retrieved 2013-09-26.
  7. Ostovar, Afshon P. (2009). "Guardians of the Islamic Revolution Ideology, Politics, and the Development of Military Power in Iran (1979–2009)" (PhD Thesis). University of Michigan. Retrieved 26 July 2013.
  8. "IICHS موسسه مطالعات تاريخ معاصر ايران". Iichs.org. Retrieved 2013-09-26.
  9. al-`Irfan, Roy (1922). "اللغة التركیة فی ایران". 8 (2) (Rev. ed.). Lebanon: Translated by Evan Sigel: 121-123.


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