"A work of provocative and historical depth. It offers an accessible and coherent analysis of Iranian politics and religious discourse by Khurasani and other politically involved clerics during the Constitutional Revolution."—International Journal of Middle East Studies
"Farzaneh provides an innovative and original approach to the thought of a renowned cleric Mohammad Kazim Khurasani, who played a significant role in the Iranian Constitutional period of 1906–11."—Vanessa Martin, Vanessa Martin, author of Iran between Islamic Nationalism and Secularism
"By providing an exhaustive reading of Khurasani’s work, Farzaneh has done a great service to students of Iranian history and has shed light on the life and work of an important religious leader of the constitutional period."—American Historical Review
"Farzeneh's exploration of the theological debates in which Khurasani engaged with competitors and detractors may also be critical to understanding the future possibilities of Islam. Parallel discussions of the interplay between Islam and democracy today can help illuminate a path to modernity, simultaneously showing one and all just how complicated Shiite religious figures can be."—Middle East Forum
The Iranian Constitutional Revolution was the twentieth century’s first such political movement in the Middle East. It represented a landmark in Iranian history because of the unlikely support it received from Shi‘ite clerics who historically viewed Western concepts with suspicion, some claiming constitutionalism to be anti-Islamic. Leading the support was Muhammad Kazim Khurasani, the renowned Shi‘ite jurist who conceived of a supporting role for the clergy in a modern Iranian political system.
Drawing on extensive analysis of religious texts, fatwas, and articles written by Khurasani an other pro- and anti-constitutionalists, Farzaneh provides a comprehensive and illuminating interpretation of Khurasani’s religious pragmatism. Despite some opposition from his peers, Khurasani used a form of jurisprudential reasoning when creating shari‘a that was based on human intellect to justify his support of not only the Iranian parliament but also the political powers of clerics. He had a reputation across the Shi‘ite community as a masterful religious scholar, a skillful teacher, and a committed humanitarian who heeded the people’s socioeconomic and political grievances and took action to address them. Khurasani’s push for progressive reforms helped to inaugurate a new era of clerical involvement in constitutionalism in the Middle East.
Mateo Mohammad Farzaneh is assistant professor of history at Northeastern Illinois University.
6 x 9, 352 pages, 10 black and white illustrations, 2 maps