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the foundation of political philosophy in Iran-constitutional period

The foundation of political philosophy in Iran-constitutional period


Iranian Contemporary History No. 60


History Hall


  Mirza Agha Esfahani 


Fatemeh Moezzi


 One of the leading figures of constitutional period, Mirza Agha Esfahani was born in Esfahan, about 1867. He was engaged in the trade of oil in Tehran and so he was called Mirza Agha Nafti (oil seller). He went to Istanbul in 1886 and practiced business. His long stay in this city brought him the fame of Istanbuli. He became acquainted with modern ideas through some dailies including Akhtar and Hablolmatin in that city.

 He left for Europe in 1904. This was simultaneous with Mozaffaraddin Shah’s journey to Europe. Mirza Agha met some of the Shah’s companion’s in the journey including Nasserolmolk and Einoddowleh. He succeeded to establish friendly relationship with Sultan Abdolmajid Mirza Einoddowleh. The friendly relationship led to his return to Iran and his residence in Tehran. He wrote some articles in Hablolmatin entitled “defense of Home land”. In these articles he put stress on the importance and glory of ancient Iran. He paid attention to the roots of Iran’s backwardness and mentioned the invasion of Arabs to Iran as one of the reasons for this. He sought the path for development in following the ideas of western philosophers and separation of religion from politics. He proposed the formation of a national consultative house for solving the problems. Einoddowleh, then the prime minister asked him to prepare a constitution. However, he was so extremist in this job that the prime minister rejected his proposal.

 Upon his entrance to Tehran, he joined the secret committee, founders of which were Seyyed Mohammad Tabatabi and Nazemoleslam. They studied the newspapers, and some books including Ebrahim Beig’s Travel Book, Mostasharoddowleh’s One Word, Mirza Malkam Khan’s works, and criticized Einoddowleh’s government. He became a member of the lodge of Awakening of Iranians which was the first freemasonry lodge in Iran. He was one of the founders of Tehran National library. The other founders of the library were Mirza MohammadAli Khan Nosratossoltan, Seyyed Nasrollah Taqavi, Seyyed Jamal Vaez and Hajj Mirza Nasrollah Malek al Motekallemin who were all members of Awakening lodge and the semi masonic committee of revolution. The library was a suitable place for the gatherings of the Lodge’s members and as Seyyed Hassan Taghizadeh said, “whoever looked for trouble would join them”.

Regarding his opposition to Einoddowleh, he cooperated in the publication of some pamphlets against him. He would speak ill of him in every circle which led to his detainment with Mirza Ahmad Majdoleslam and Mirza Hassan Roshdieh and exile to Kalat. His exile was not much long. A few months later his exile was cancelled, but the new prime minister advised him not to return to Tehran. He left for Istanbul and in founding the trade union of Iranians in Istanbul; he quarreled with Iran’s embassy and was sent to Iran by the Ottoman government.

 He entered Tabriz on 26th July, 1907. His exile to Kalat on one hand his removal from Ottoman government on the other hand and Mirza Reza Khan’s cooperation created a warm welcome from the people of Tabriz. Upon his arrival at Tabriz, he joined Tabriz national society and became an active member of it. Since then he was called Mirza Agha Mojahed. His arrival at Tabriz coincided with Macou’s riot for the dispute between Macou’s governor, Eqbalossaltaneh and Khuy’s mojahedin forces. Khuy’s mojahedin were a group of extremist activists supported by the Caucasian committee of Ejtemaiun Aamiun. Mirza Agha was appointed to see into the affair. He succeeded to put an end to the dispute and release Khuy prisoners. Meanwhile he was elected a member of parliament from Tabriz. His term of membership in Majlis was not much long, as in some cases he opposed to the wishes of the societies. He was accused of receiving bribe from the governor of Macou. On the other hand he was accused of secret cooperation with MohammadAli Shah’s court. Eventually the national society of Tabriz removed cancelled his deputyship.  Shortly after he left Tehran for Europe and published an article with the title of “what happened in Iran” in London West minister garth and criticized the majlis members and societies in it. Edward Brown wrote his reply through an article. After a while he went to the holy cities of Iraq to find a solution for Iran’s question. His opponents were not satisfied with his journey to Iraq and tried to nullify his attempts. Following his audiences with the religious authorities, he returned to Iran in April 1909. He was authorized by the religious leaders to negotiate with MohammadAli Shah so that if he regarded the constitution, the clergy would support him. It is not clear whether he succeeded to meet MohammadAli Shah or not. However, upon his return, he joined Nezemoleslam’s secret society and published a secret pamphlet “the Bud of Afternoon”. He resumed his business in Tehran bazar. When the constitutional forces approached Tehran, he left for the northern parts of the capital. When he returned to his job in the city, he was imprisoned because of the animosities of Seyyed Hassan Taghizadeh and MohammadReza Mossavat for a year.  He was released in 1910. And followed his political activities by Asr daily. Five years later he joined Eetedal party against Democratic Party. He was entitled Etemadolmolk in these years and was appointed governor of Golpayegan and then for a short while of Talish. His last appointment was the head of Tobacco general office.


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