ḤĀJJ SAYYĀḤ

, Mirzā Moḥammad ʿAli Maḥallāti (ca. 1836-1925), constitutionalist and human rights activist, the first modern Persian to tour the world and the first to become a naturalized U.S. citizen. He was among the first Persians to  actively pursued democratic political reforms in Persia, and he wrote the first modernist Persian book of travels and the first modern prison notebook in Persia.

 

ḤĀJJ SAYYĀḤ, Mirzā Moḥammad ʿAli Maḥallāti (b. Maḥallāt, ca. 1252/1836, d. Tehran, 3 Mehr 1304 Š./25 September 1925; FIGURE 1), the first Iranian-American, a world traveler, constitutionalist and human rights activist.

Life and travels. Mirzā Moḥammad-ʿAli, the son of Mollā Moḥammad-Reżā Maḥallāti, later known as Ḥājj Sayyāḥ (lit. ‘traveler’), was born in Maḥallāt in eastern central Persia. When he was 23 years old, he embarked on a journey across the world that lasted some 18 years. The precipitating factor in his departure, he records in his Memoirs (Sayyāḥ, 1967, see also Ferdowsi, 1993 and 1996b; and Maḥbubi Ardakāni, 1968) was his impending marriage with his cousin. But the Memoirs and his other published works, particularly his European Travelogue (Sayyāḥ, 1984 and 1998), strongly suggest that he left Persia ultimately because of the rising national awakening. “Indeed the cause of my departure from Iran,” he writes later, “was having witnessed these undeserved hardships and atrocities which were beyond the endurance of beasts, let alone men, inflicted upon poor, hapless and ignorant Persian subjects like myself” (Sayyāḥ, 1967, p. 473).

With no specific destination in mind, Ḥājj Sayyāḥ arrived in the Caucasus via Zanjān and Tabriz. In Tabriz, he approached merchants with contacts in Maḥallāt and falsely reported that a certain Moḥammad-ʿAli of Maḥallāt had passed away en route to Tabriz. The news was conveyed in Maḥallāt, and his father, laments Ḥājj Sayyāḥ, died broken-hearted. According to a report penned by Ḥājj Sayyāḥ for Ruz-nāma-ye Irān (6 Mehr 1304 Š./28 September 1926), he proceeded to learn sufficient Armenian, Turkish and Russian to get by, while gaining employment as an instructor in Arabic and Persian in a school in Tbilisi (Ṭeflis). From Tbilisi he moved to Istanbul where he learned French; to these languages he later added some English and German during his European and American travels. He then visited many European countries and met with many prominent figures, including Pope Pius IX, the Risorgimento hero, Garibaldi, Germany’s Otto von Bismarck, and the Russian Tsar Alexander II. He returned to Istanbul and developed a friendship with Sayyed Jamāl-al-Din Afḡāni (q.v.) before resuming his globe-trotting, which took him to many more European countries and eventually to North America (Qazvini, p. 109).

Ḥājj Sayyāḥ entered the United States at New York and spent nearly ten years traveling around the country. He repeatedly met with Ulysses Grant, the U.S. president from 1868 to 1876. Very little is known about the details of his travels and activities in the U.S., as the journal of travels in North America which he claims to have kept, and which probably formed the remainder of his published Book of Travels in Europe, has not yet been found (Sayyāḥ, 1984; see also Bineš, 1969, Reżāzāda Malek, 1971, and Deldam, 1989). What is known, however, is that Ḥājj Sayyāḥ eventually found his way to San Francisco and there, according to the decree issued by the District Court of the 12th Judicial District of the State of California, became a naturalized U.S. citizen on May 26, 1875 (United States, National Archives, Records of the Department of State,Dispatches from US Ministers to Persia 1883-1906, Sperry, Dispatch no. 18).

Shortly afterwards, Ḥājj Sayyāḥ traveled to Japan and spent about six months in that country. While in Japan he was helped by the friendship of a certain Ḥājj ʿAbd-Allāh Bušehri, who had been a resident of Japan for some forty years (Qazvini, p. 109). From Japan, he traveled to China, Singapore, Burma and India. In India, he met with his expatriated compatriot, Āqā Khan Mahallāti Sayyed Ḥasan-Šāh (q.v.), the leader of the Ismaʿili community.

Ḥājj Sayyāḥ’s travels, which included nine pilgrimages to Mecca and several visits to Egypt and other countries, did not end there, but he finally returned to Persia on 14 Rajab 1294/26 July 1877. Shiraz was the first major city that Ḥājj Sayyāḥ entered. Prince Moʿtamed-al-Dawla, the Governor General of Fārs, summoned him to admonish him “not to speak of civilization in Persia. It can cost you your life” (Sayyāḥ, 1967, p. 20). In Isfahan, he had a similarly disappointing audience with Ḥājj Shaikh Moḥammad Bāqer, “the chief of the ulama of Isfahan” (Sayyāḥ, 1967, p. 45). The themes of corrupt, arrogant and tyrannical government officialdom and hypocritical, backward and self-serving clergy form the central preoccupation of Ḥājj Sayyāḥ’s Memoirs, and are the sources of his suffering throughout his life.

Ḥājj Sayyāḥ arrived in Tehran on Ḏu’l-qaʿda 27 1294/4 December 1877. All sought to see him, including His Majesty Nāṣer-al-Din Shah himself, who summoned him almost immediately and asked him to compare the Shah of Persia with other rulers and countries. One of the first people to benefit from Ḥājj Sayyāḥ’s global experience was Ḥājj Ḥosaynqoli Khan Ṣadr-al-Salṭana (Ḥāji Vāšangton; q.v.), head of the first Persian delegation to the U.S., who was briefed by Ḥājj Sayyāh before leaving Persia to assume his post (Deldam, p. 84).

Hardly six months after his arrival in Persia, Ḥājj Sayyāḥ embarked on a tour of the country that took him from Tehran to Mašhad, then to Sistān and Kermān, then via Yazd to Shiraz, Isfahan and finally back to Tehran. Ḥājj Sayyāḥ’s first internal journey lasted nine months. For the next decade, his life is an alternation between periods of residence in Persia, building up into a suffocating sense of the prevailing corruption and oppression, then giving way to spells of release from this tension through traveling within and outside of the country.

Political activities and travails. Almost a year after Ḥājj Sayyāḥ moved to the court of Ẓell-al-Solṭān in Isfahan—perhaps on the recommendation of Mirzā Āqā Khan Kermāni to Malkom Khan, that he send Ḥājj Sayyāḥ to impress “the sacred intent of the fellowship of humanity [aṣḥāb-e ādamiyat]” on the “most suitable prince [for this purpose] in Persia” (Ājudāni, pp. 516, 513). Sayyed Jamāl-al-Din Asadābādi (Afghani; q.v.; there is ample proof in Ḥājj Sayyāḥ’s Memoirs, if any were needed, that Sayyed Jamāl is from Asadābād of Hamadān), the famous revolutionary cleric, stopped at Bušehr on the Persian Gulf, on his way to Najd, in August 1887. Ḥājj Sayyāḥ sent him two telegrams and invited him to visit Isfahan (Sayyāḥ, 1967, pp. 286-303; Qazvini, p.109; for their close relationship see Raʿnā Ḥosayni, 1967; Kermāni, 1967, pp. 78-85; Mahdawi and Afšār, 1963, and Mirzā Reżā Kermāni’s deposition in Ḥakim Ḵosrowi, 1983, pp. 77-122).

Ḥājj Sayyāḥ hosted him and provided him with some financial support, as did Sayyāḥ’s patron Ẓell-al-Solṭān (Mahdawi and Afšār, p.123 and Ḥakim Ḵosrovi, p. 90). Sayyed Jamāl then went to Tehran and shortly thereafter was forced to leave Persia. Ḥājj Sayyāḥ’s troubles were soon to follow, partly because he was the host of Sayyed Jamāl (Sayyāḥ, 1967, pp. 339-43; and Sayyāḥ in Ẓahir-al-Dawla, 1972, pp. 7-13; reprinted in Ḥakim Ḵosravi, pp. 25-33). The tyrannical prince Nāyeb-al-Salṭana Kāmrān Mirzā, the Governor General of Tehran and Ẓell-al-Solṭān’s rivalrous brother, was the major instigator of Sayyāḥ’s troubles, in this and other episodes to follow.

Ḥājj Sayyāḥ tried to avoid further troubles by withdrawing to his hamlet, but troubles followed him in the person of the cunning Mirzā Jaʿfar Khan from Isfahan. Ḥājj Sayyāḥ’s attempts to appease him failed. His pleading with Tehran was useless too, as the whole ordeal was instigated in Tehran by Nāyeb-al-Salṭana Kāmrān Mirzā. In Tehran he was told to leave for Mašhad. Eʿtemād-al-Saltana, referring to this turn of events, gleefully wrote in his journal entry for Wednesday 5 Moḥarram 1306/12 September 1888 that “Ḥāji Sayyāḥ Maḥallāti, who was one of the devotees of Ẓell-al-Solṭāŋwas disgracefully kicked out of Tehran by lowly officials [farrāš] and the police” (Eʿtemād-al-Salṭana, p. 675). The order for Ḥājj Sayyāḥ’s exile may have been issued by the Shah himself (Sayyāḥ, 1967, p. 300).

Ḥājj Sayyāḥ’s agonizing exile to Mašhad lasted for fourteen months. Soon after his return to Tehran, Sayyed Jamāl made a second visit to Tehran, this time by royal invitation. But his presence proved too much, and in the end he was dragged out of his asylum (bast) and escorted out of Persia (Modarresi Čāhārdehi, pp. 271-84).

The disgraceful expulsion of Sayyed Jamāl was followed by a period of heightened political agitation in Persia, which led to the famous Regis Incident (Āda-miyat, 1981). This period was also marked by intensified pamphleteering, including the distribution of what are usually referred to as “newspapers.” Two of these periodicals, Malkom Khan’s Qānun and Sayyed Jamāl’s Abu-neẓāra, Ḥājj Sayyāḥ received regularly and passed on to trusted acquaintances to read and distribute. Mirzā Reżā Kermāni, the future assassin of Nāṣer-al-Din Shah and an anguished devotee of Sayyed Jamāl, was one of them.

In early Ramażān of 1308/April 1891, with Ḥājj Say-yāḥ’s encouragement and participation, hundreds of clandestine letters were sent to the Shah, the top officials, and urban notables and the clergy in different regions of the country. Several days later Mirzā Reżā Kermāni was arrested. The fear and anxiety sweeping Tehran court circles after this event was quite palpable (see, for instance, Eʿtemād-al-Salṭana, pp. 744-56), but the Shah himself was too caught up in his infatuation with a twelve-year-old Lolita to interfere in the political situation. “Amidst all of this commotion and so many country-destroying enemies,” writes princess Tāj-al-Salṭana in her memoirs, “my hapless father was drowned in love and domestic afflictions” (Tāj-al-Salṭana, p. 49).

Under torture, Mirzā Reżā implicated Ḥājj Sayyāḥ and others, who were all arrested (for a contemporary analysis of the events that led to their arrest, see the memoirs of prince ʿAbbās Mirzā Molk-Ārā, Nāser-al-Din Shāh’s half brother, pp. 105-20). To confound the charges, two innocent Bābis were also rounded up. Mirzā ʿAli Khan Amin-al-Dawla, a long-time friend of Ḥājj Sayyāḥ (Say-yāḥ, 1967, p. 451) and a future prime minister (Ājudāni, pp. 263-73), also refers to the religious reputation of Ḥājj Sayyāḥ and his co-arrestees: “Contrary to everyone’s expectation, these individuals who were accused of impiety and ungodliness [bi-dini wa ḵodā-nāšenāsi] did not become the instrument of affliction and destruction of innocent people” (Amin-al-Dawla, 1962, p. 154). He had every reason to be grateful, for as the Chief of the Persian Postal Service, he had knowingly allowed Abu-neẓāra and Qānun to be received in Tehran (Dowla-tābādi, p. 24).

The detainees were in one way or another related to and influenced by the Persian modernist and Freemason Mirzā Malkom Khan (for supportive evidence see Malkom Khan, p. 10 and Farid-al-Molk Hamadāni, 1975, pp. 2 and 87). Later, in Qazvin prison, they were joined by Mirzā Yusof Khan Mostašār-al-Dawla, the author of the influential Yak kalema, and another friend and follower of Malkom Khan (Malekzāda, p.178), and a Freemason (Ājudāni, p. 244 and Rāʾin, 1978, I, p. 477) who was also arrested for his correspondence with Malkom (Eʿtemād-al-Salṭana, p. 761). This and other evidence makes it very likely that Ḥājj Sayyāḥ was a Freemason. Malkom Khan (Qānun, no. 28, p. 3) names Ḥājj Sayyāḥ as the Secret Harbinger (Monādi-e Ḡayb) of his Humanist (Ādamiyat) movement. According to Moʿayyer-al-Mamālek, Nāṣer-al-Din Shah’s son-in-law and a long- time friend of Ḥājj Sayyāḥ, “Ḥājj Sayyāḥ was considered to be a Freemason. He had friendly relations with Malkom Khan on account of this fellowship” (Moʿayyer-al-Mamālek, p. 37). Ḥājj Sayyāḥ’s name appears in all three lists of early Masonic Lodges in Tehran (Rāʾin, 1978, I, p. 75; the year 1287 given as Ḥājj Sayyāḥ’s year of birth in one of the lists is certainly inaccurate).

On the other hand, Yaḥyā Dawlatābādi (Ḥayāt-e Yaḥyā, I, p. 124) suggests, as did Mirzā Reżā Kermāni earlier (Ḥakim Ḵosrovi, p. 105), that Ḥājj Sayyāḥ was the coordinator of the Tehran chapter of Sayyed Jamāl’s followers. The close relationship of Ḥājj Sayyāḥ with Sayyed Jamāl, as indicated earlier, is verified by other evidence, in particular Ḥājj Sayyāḥ’s own extant correspondence (Raʿnā Ḥosayni, 1967). Regarding this connection, Rāʾin suggests (1978, I, p. 391) that “during his stay in Persia, Sayyed Jamāl carried out his activities through Malkom Khan’s farāmuš-ḵāna.” This may further Rāʾin’s already persuasively documented claim in the same book that Sayyed Jamāl also was a fellow Freemason.

Ḥājj Sayyāḥ’s imprisonment lasted for more than twenty months, from 16 Ramażān 1308/25 April 1891 to about mid-Jomādā II 1310/early January 1893 (PLATE II). He devotes ninety pages to detailing his time in jail. These ninety pages stand as the first prison memoirs written in the history of modern Persia.

When Ḥājj Sayyāḥ was finally allowed to go home, he realized that, having been castigated by the Shah, he was ostracized by others (Sayyāḥ, 1967, p. 432). Feeling vulnerable, sometime in early January 1893, immediately after his release from jail, he asked his family in Maḥallāt for his American papers to be mailed to him. He then took the papers to the U.S. legation and obtained a receipt.

Meanwhile personal harassment and financial extortion against Ḥājj Sayyāḥ’s family intensified and his attempts to redress the matter through his repeated petitions to the prime minister went unanswered (Sayyāḥ, 1967, pp. 434-37). In a letter of last resort that he personally handed to the prime minister, he gave him one day for the settlement of the issues. Otherwise, he threatened: “Though it would be like eating carrion, or amputation under duress of destitution, I will have to go to the U.S. legation and ask for their support” (Sayyāḥ, 1967, p. 438). Hopeless, he returned home and spent a sleepless night.

In the morning an officer came to his house, gave him a letter and told him that Nāyeb-al-Salṭana urged him “to immediately appear in his office to receive His Majesty’s total benevolence.” Ḥājj Sayyāḥ, fearing malice, declined to go, retorting that being “a foreign subject” he can only be “summoned through his embassy,” and without wasting a moment he rushed to the legation (Sayyāḥ, 1967, p. 439). This was Tuesday, 21 February 1893 (for a detailed analysis of Ḥājj Sayyāḥ’s asylum at the U.S. legation see Ferdowsi, 1996a and 2001; and Yeselson, 1956, p. 45).

Watson R. Sperry’s (U.S. Minister Resident and Consul General in Tehran from January 6, 1893 to August 29, 1893) first dispatch announcing that Ḥājj Sayyāḥ “is now practically in asylum at this legation” was written on 23 February 1893, just two days after the event (United States, National Archives, Records of the Department of State,Diplomatic Instructions, 1801-1906, Persia, no. 18; and United States, National Archives, Records of the Department of State,Dispatches from US Ministers to Persia 1883-1906. For a selection of dispatches and instructions, see United States, Congress, various dates, esp. 1892-1901).

Ḥājj Sayyāḥ’s shelter in the legation received widespread attention. Many notables came to visit him (Say-yāḥ, 1967, p. 440). One of these visitors was Narimān Khan Qawām-al-Salṭana, an Armenian career diplomat, “an old friend” of Ḥājj Sayyāḥ and a close associate of Malkom Khan (Ḥāji Pirzāda, p. 51; see also Bāmdād, Rejāl III, pp. 334-35). He purportedly visited the U.S. legation to say farewell to Ḥājj Sayyāḥ en route to his post of Iranian Ambassador at Vienna, but in reality he was the bearer of a reconciliation offer worked out with the Prime Minister.

On March 29, 1893, Sperry transmitted copies of two notes issued a few days earlier by the Prime Minister to Ḥājj Sayyāḥ. Both notes were written favorably and had asked for the satisfactory resolution of most problems. This, however, was not the end of Ḥājj Sayyāḥ’s residence at the legation, as he did not feel that threats to his life had ended even after his reconciliatory meeting with the prime minister. The date of Ḥājj Sayyāḥ’s final departure from the legation is uncertain, but it was perhaps sometime during the second half of July 1893, almost five months from the time he was given shelter at the legation.

Ḥājj Sayyāḥ spent the next couple of years in relative quiet, first in Mahallāt, and then in Tehran. In the spring of 1313/1896, the fiftieth anniversary of Nāṣer-al-Din Shah’s reign, he heard of the covert return from exile of Mirzā Reżā Kermāni, his cellmate in Qazvin prison. Fearing that Mirzā Reżā was possibly about to assassinate the Shah or his Prime Minister, and worried about the vengeful and arbitrary persecution that would follow it, Ḥājj Sayyāḥ tried to alert the Prime Minister and a number of notables to the impending threat. His repeated warnings, direct and indirect, verbal and written, fell on deaf ears, and Mirzā Reżā succeeded in assassinating the Shah. Ḥājj Sayyāḥ was a prime suspect, given his earlier relations with Mirzā Reżā and the alleged instigator of the event, Sayyed Jamāl, but because of his earnest warnings, the accusations did not stick. This, however, has not deterred Khan Malek Sāsāni, who believes that the regicide was plotted by the Prime Minister Amin-al-Solṭān, from accusing Ḥājj Sayyāḥ of being an accomplice in the assassination conspiracy (Khan Malek Sāsāni, pp. 282-85 and 300-3).

Ḥājj Sayyāḥ’s political influence during the reign of Nāṣer-al-Din Shah’s successor, Moẓaffar-al-Din Shah, grew to an extent that he could meet at will with Amin-al-Solṭān, the Prime Minister, and his temporary successor, Mirzā ʿAli Khan Amin-al-Dawla. When a group of notables, mostly of Freemasonic persuasion, met to bring Amin-al-Solṭān back to the premiership, it was Ḥājj Sayyāḥ’s recommendation that was decisive, and it was he who was commissioned by the group to convey the decision to him (Sayyāḥ, 1967, pp. 497-98).

In the summer of 1319/1901, Ḥājj Sayyāḥ embarked on yet another journey that took him to Europe, North Africa, Russia, Mecca and Central Asia. In this trip, like his earlier ones, he met with many prominent figures of the time. Cholera was wreaking havoc in Arabia, causing the death of two thirds of the pilgrims, according to Ḥājj Sayyāḥ (Sayyāḥ, 1967, p. 522).

The cholera reached Persia in 1904. A group of top government officials, notables and foreign residents of Tehran organized a campaign to fight the epidemic. Ḥājj Sayyāḥ agreed to head the effort. A registration system, hospitals for the treatment of the ill, a transportation system for bringing in the stricken and taking the dead to the morgue and a system of payment to the survivors were all put together. The disease lasted for months, spread throughout the country and claimed around twenty thousand victims in Tehran alone (Sayyāḥ, 1967, pp. 535-40). When the epidemic subsided, Ḥājj Sayyāḥ agreed to act as the executive trustee of an endowed school for the orphans in Tehran (Sayyāḥ, 1967, p. 540).

Role in the Constitutional Revolution. The role of Ḥājj Sayyāḥ in the Constitutional Revolution is appreciably greater than meets the eye, in part because he preferred to act behind the scenes and with considerable caution. Several years into the reign of Moẓaffar-al-Din Shah (r. 1314-1324 Š./1896-1907), political activity to arrest the deteriorating situation of the country intensified. One of the hallmarks of this period was the formation of a flourishing number of secret societies to promote change. By all accounts, one of the first and certainly the most important of these secret societies was the one in which Ḥājj Sayyāḥ participated (Malekzāda, I, pp. 235-44; see also Rāʾin, 1976). The first convention of about sixty prominent figures who were meticulously selected for their promotion of modernity, social change and the rule of law, and were known for their steadfastness and courage, met secretly in the afternoon of 12 Rabiʿ I 1322/8 July 1904 to discuss the political situation and find ways to transform it. Ḥājj Sayyāḥ was one of those attending the inaugural meeting of what is dubbed “the true kernel of the Constitutional Revolution in Persia” (Malekzāda, I, p. 239).

Curiously, Ḥājj Sayyāḥ himself is silent on this meeting, though he alludes to many a meeting behind the scenes that he had attended in connection with the high level political machinations of this era. For instance, he is reported meeting with Mirzā Naṣr-Allāh Khan, Mošir-al-Dawla, the first Prime Minister of the constitutional era, as a member of a group that had gone to see him to promote the cause of reforms (Sayyāḥ, 1967, pp. 559-60, 570). Or he is noted attending meetings with fellow Masons to discuss current affairs. “In the afternoon, we went to the garden. Qawām-al-Dawla, Ḥājj Ḥosayn Āqā [Amin-al-Żarb?— q.v.], Ḥājj Sayyāḥ arrived,” writes prince Šoʿāʿ-al-Salṭana in his journals 14 Ṣafar 1324/9 April 1906, and “had a discussion, scheduled the [next] meeting of the Lodge in Musio [monsieur] Yeprem’s” (quoted from Ruz-nāma-ye Demokrāt-e Iran in Rāʾin, 1978, I, p. 438).

An indication of Ḥājj Sayyāḥ’s activism and stature in the Constitutional Revolution may be found in the two missions he undertook on behalf of the Nationalists (Mellatiān). When the sworn enemy of the Constitution, Moḥammad-ʿAli Shah (r. 1324/1907), decided to invite the ex-premier Amin-al-Solṭān back to Tehran from Europe, the Nationalists, fearing that his indomitable political skills might be used against them, thought of sending an emissary to him to convince him to side with the revolution. Ḥājj Sayyāḥ took on this mission and hastily departed in the early spring of 1325/1907. He finally met with Amin-al-Solṭān, discussed the matter with him, and delivered the two written messages he had brought (Sayyāḥ, 1967, pp. 571-76).

Ḥājj Sayyāḥ undertook another mission on behalf of the constitutional forces. In 1326/1908, when the revolutionaries met with a series of setbacks and the movement seemed on the verge of collapse, Ḥājj Sayyāḥ was sent on a mission to entice the Baḵtiāri tribes under the leadership of Ḥājiqoli Khan Sardār Asʿad to come to the aid of the besieged constitutionalists in Tehran. Although his mission met with partial success, the arrival of Baḵtiāri forces in Tehran a year later (24 Jomādā II 1327/ 8 July 1909) put an end to the bloody reign of Moḥammad-ʿAli Shah.

When Aḥmad Shah, the last of the Qajar dynasty, succeeded to the throne, the elderly regent Prince ʿAżod-al-Molk asked Ḥājj Sayyāḥ to be one of the tutors of the young king. Debilitated by cataracts, the aged Ḥājj Sayyāḥ could only perform his duties a few times (Sayyāḥ, 1967, p. 632; see also the picture of the young king Sultan Aḥmad Shah, his crown prince and his teachers, including a frail Ḥājj Sayyāḥ, in Shuster, p. 221). Ḥājj Sayyāḥ, unhappy with the cabinet of Reżā Khan, retired from politics shortly after this appointment. He died on the evening of Friday, 3 Mehr 1304 Š./25 September 1925.

His pioneering importance. Ḥājj Sayyāḥ merits attention mostly because he was a pioneer in a number of major developments in the history of modernity and modern Persia. He was the first Persian to visit the United States of America and, more significantly, he is the first person from Persia to have become a naturalized U.S. citizen. He was the first modern Persian to tour the world. He is also among the first Persians to have advocated and actively pursued democratic political reforms in Persia, and he wrote the first modernist Persian book of travels as well as the first modern prison notebook in Persia. He is also among the first to have formulated the issue of political rights in Persia as a case of “human rights.” As a close associate of Malkom Khan and Sayyed Jamāl-al-Din Asadābādi, and an active promoter of the Constitutional Revolution, he is among the most influential founding participants of the social movement for democracy in Persia. Through these associations and many others, Ḥājj Sayyāḥ’s activities are intricately related to the activities of Freemasonic Lodges within and outside of Persia.

 

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(Ali Ferdowsi)

Originally Published: December 15, 2002

Last Updated: March 1, 2012

This article is available in print.
Vol. XI, Fasc. 5, pp. 556-560 and Vol. XI, Fasc. 6, p. 561