Devotees of Islam, Interview with Ahmad Shahab

Ahmad Shahab, born in 1919 is one of the first and active members of the devotees of Islam and is considered among the close friends of Sayyed Mojtaba Mir Lohi [Navab Safavi]. He has witnessed many of this group’s political and military actions and he has...

By: Morteza Rasouli Poor


Ahmad Shahab, born in 1919 is one of the first and active members of the devotees of Islam and is considered among the close friends of Sayyed Mojtaba Mir Lohi [Navab Safavi]. He has witnessed many of this group’s political and military actions and he has actively participated in a few cases such as the murder of Ahmad Kasravi (1945) and assassination of Hassan Ali Mansour (1964). He was jailed several times and spent many years of his life in prison. There are no inscribed memories from the members of the devotees of Islam up to now except in rare cases; what’s more most of them are no more. In 1994 the oral history unit of Institute for the study of Iran contemporary history was able to record his memories in several sessions after obtaining his agreement, what follows is part of the memories of the above mentioned.


It seems that Navab Safavi had met Kasravi and talked with him once and had tried to assassinate him one before he was murdered. Explain this.

In a meeting held at Kasravi’s house where a group of people including several army officers were present, Navab participated too. There he mentioned his beliefs to Kasravi but they threw him out. When Navab realized talking with Kasravi is of no use, he attacked Kasravi a while later in Ab Sardar with a knife and injured his shoulder. Kasravi was hospitalized and brigadier Saffari, then police chief, arrested Navab and sent him to prison.1 Once more Navab told Kasravi: “do something to shorten your life or you will trouble us.” In this way Navab did not give up and met with Ibrahim Daryani to obtain a pistol and said I have 3000 Rls but it’s not enough for a religious deed I have in mind, you help me get a pistol. Daryani told him that his situation is not well and he is broke. Upon hearing this, Navab left all his money in Daryani’s shop and left. Finally after a few days Daryani provided enough money for the pistol and gave it to Navab. At this time Kasravi was out of hospital and we mounted the clergies’ decree on Kasravi deserving death on the walls and distributed the decree out of cliché.


Do you mean the same decree by Najaf’s clergies and authorities or the clergies in Iran?

I mean the decree by Ayatollah Boroujerdi and that of Ayatollah Sadr, father of Imam Musa Sadr. Ayatollah Kashani was against Kasravi too but he was in exile in Lebanon at the time. After this the pressure on Kasravi increase so much that the government was forced to put him on trial. We were informed that Kasravi is going to be sentenced to only three months of imprisonment for publication of misleading books while Navab and we were after his execution. So we went to the court during the course of his trial and took a number of bazaar merchants with us. The head of bazar police station was Khansari who helped us a lot and only let those who had beard enter the court that day, on the second or third day of Kasravi’s trial a person named Javad Mozaffari came to court and shot Kasravi and his secretary, Hadadpoor. Navab had ordered another one of our men named Sheikh Mahdi Shariatmadar to wait in a car in front of the department of justice. He took Mozaffari to Lahijan. Not the king, nor the government or the people knew about this. Neither does anyone else until now.


□ In sources, Hussein Emami is introduced as the agent of this murder.

Yes, Emami’s work was to enter the court room after Kasravi’s murder and ripped his stomach out. The prosecutor who was scared had hid under the table and passed out there. When Emami left the court, he screamed Allah-o-Akbar2; while holding a bloody knife and went to the police station and said: I killed Kasravi, the man who burns the Quran! In the police station, at first they throw him out thinking he has lost his mind. Then they got news from Sina hospital than Kasravi and his secretary are there and that’s when they arrested Emami. So we had to do something to release Emami from prison. That’s why we went to Ayatollah Behbahani’s mosque from the police station. The important point was that Kasravi was shot and the police knew that was the cause of his death but why and how Emami had a bloody knife?! So a few of the system’s agents knew that Emami is not the real murderer. Anyhow, Ayatollah Behbahani was in the mosque when we got there. We told him Emami did something which his ancestor would have done if he was here. We decided to go to premiership in Ark square and request Emami’s freedom. Mr. Feiz who was a translator of Nahj-ol-Balaghe3 was in front. Shams-al-Din Abhari, the prayer leader of Imam Hussein mosque, and other clergies accompanied us. In Ark square Mr. Abhari gave a speech and said according to the decree by clergies, Kasravi deserved to be killed so the murderer must be released. Ghavam-al-Saltaneh was prime minister at the time and Mozafar Firooz was his deputy. Firooz came out on the balcony and said: “the prime minister has foreign guests.” Feiz-al-Islam answered: “You can’t do anything, tell Ghavam-al-Saltaneh to come, we don’t care about the foreign guest.” When Ghavam heard this he came out. Feiz-al-Islam told Ghavam: the clerics have ordered Emami’s release. It was the hand of Iran’s brave nation that came out of Emami’s sleeve and killed a filthy man.” Ghavam took out a card from his pocket and wrote something for the chief police officer and gave it to us to deliver. With the same people, chanting “inna fatahna lak fathan mobina4, we went to the police prison and released Emami. There was a strange uproar in the prison; the people sacrificed cows and camels. We felt as though we own the city. Then we went toKasravi’s library in front of Melli bank and turned it upside down. Hekmat-Allah Azimi, who is still alive, and I threw all Kasravi’s books out and burned them. Of course we took the good books for the children. So Kasravi’s case ended.


□ Who was Javad Mozaffari? There is no name of him in the files related to the works of devotees of Islam; did he engage in other actions?

He was a man with religious interests. His only deed was Kasravi’s murder and he didn’t engage in any other action. Martyr Navab ordered the erasing of his name. Until recently he had watch shop in Rey Streetand passed away a few years ago. His brother, who was also a clergy man, has passed away too.


□ Did Ayatollah Kashani play a role in these events? When did the devotees become related to him?

No, he wasn’t in Tehran. The reason was that a person named Naser Fakhraraei shot the king in University of Tehran with a journalist card for Setareye Islam5 newspaper which was issued in his name by Ayatollah Kashani’s order and Teimoor Bakhtiar immediately kills him on the spot.6


□ But this incident is related to February 4th 1949.

Yes. I mean to answer your question regarding the start of our relation with him. Since the king presumed Ayatollah Kashani had a hand in this incident, brigadier Daftari, then chief of police, arrested Kashani at night. First they took him to Khoram Abad’s Falak-al-Aflak and then he was exiled to Lebanon, until a while later in the 16thelection he was chosen as Tehran’s representative7 and came to Tehran with formalities. That day Tehran was officially closed and a large crowd had gathered to welcome him. The devotees accompanied his car. His welcoming was such that he reached home at 10 pm.


□ How did Abdul Hussein Hajir die?

The reality was that the late Hussein Emami was chosen by Navab Safavi to assassinate Abbas Masoudi, editor of Etela¢at Newspaper. You know that Hajir was prime minister for a while but he was forced to resign due to Ayatollah Kashani’s opposition and the people’s protests. Some days later, the king made him the minister of court. One day in Moharram(November), Haj Abulghasem Rafiei, Sayyed Hussein Emami and I were walking. Emami said: I have to go after cash and left. We asked where are you going? He said to Sepahsalar mosque. We went together. Mr. Falsafi was giving a speech and Hajir was standing in the mosque corridor giving robes to every eulogist. As soon as Emami entered the mosque, he got Hajir by the throat and shot him once. The people were frightened and Falsafi was disturbed and started to leave but they were told that it was the sound of explosion of a light bulb. The people were calmed down and sat down again. Emami thought Hajir is still alive and he shot him two more times and he fell on the floor.8 Hajir was taken out through the mosque’s back door and we took Emami out from the same door but a big shot named Ghahremani who was an employee of the ministry of post and telegraph captured Emami and we were not able to release him. Other officers came too and dispersed the people. Emami was taken to an ice cream shop in front of the mosque and closed the doors. He was kept in that shop until 9 pm. Then he was taken to the police station and tortured him, they even pulled his nails out but he did not confess. Then they didn’t know what to do. Finally they let the news reporters talk to him in order to find something. Among the reporters who talked with Emami was Asiaye Javan’s editor. He was waiting from morning until 2 pm. Emami asks for a cigarette then takes his notebook and on a blank page writes: “I am to blame for Hajir’s death and no one else was engaged in this matter. Do not annoy anyone.” When the editor wants to leave prison, the officers take the pages related to the interview from him but don’t notice Emami’s writing among the white pages. When the man reaches his office he finds Emami’s writing and prints the handwriting in his newspaper the next day. This caused the people to buy that newspaper for up to 500 Rls that day. The day after Hajir's death Sayyed Hussein Emami was hanged and martyred during the night in Toopkhaneh square.9 To stop people’s gathering huge water pipes were placed in the surrounding streets but I got there with difficulty on a bike. When I reached there, they were bringing him down. I asked constable what had happened. He said: “He was the only person I have seen reciting the Quran until the last minute. He recited the Quran when they were bringing him here in the car and he especially recited this verse: و لا تحسبن الذین قتلوا فی سبیل الله امواتاً بل احیاٌ عند ربهم یرزقون. When he stood by the gibbet he said: I talk with real men and not jerks. You men be aware, there are pages of Quran under your feet. Save these pages.” The corpse of martyr Emami was buried at night in a well near Imamzadeh. We went there and took the corpse out and buried him in Ibn Babouyeh with ceremonies and chanting La Elaha ela Allah10. Of course the police came and arrested a few but I escaped and a few days later the others were released.


□ From what you explain it seems as though Hajir’s assassination was not in your work order…

As I mentioned before opposition against Hajir was serious. Ayatollah Kashani also opposed his premiership. Most of his supporters in the parliament had turned against him. On the other hand, the rumor on those days was that Hajir is Baha’i. Near the end of his premiership a group walked towards the parliament from Ayatollah Kashani’s house to state their opposition. When the crowd reached the parliament the late Sayyed Hashem Husseini came forward while holding the Quran saying: we are here to announce our opposition against Hajir because he is not worthy of ruling over Muslims. There the police got involved and one of our brothers named Khaghani was injured in the leg. He was taken to hospital and one month later he was martyred. After us, the teachers protested too and the chief police came to Baharestan square again an opened fire. As a result of these protests Hajir resigned and left but he was appointed as the court’s representative a few days later. The devotees, who objected this appointment, sentenced him to death in their revolutionary court of justice.

1. The first attempt on Kasravi’s life took place in May 1945 on Heshmat-al-Doleh Street and the chief police at the time was brigadier Ibrahim Zarabi. Brigadier Saffari became chief of police on March 2th 1946.

2. God is great.

3. A book of Imam Ali’s words and statements

4. A verse from the Quran meaning: “we gave you victory, a manifest victory!”

5. The newspaper in mind is Parcham Islam (Flag of Islam) whose editor was Dr. Faghihi Shirazi

6. It seems as though the interviewee has mistaken Teimoor Bakhtiar and Yazdan Panah.

7. Ayatollah Kashani was a representative in the 17th national parliament.

8. Abdul Hussein Hajir was shot three times in Sepahsalar mosque during a court religious service on November 4th 1949 and died on the 5th.

9. Sayyed Hussein Emami’s death sentence was executed a few days after Hajir’s death on November 8th.

10. There is no God except Allah.

شناسه مطلب : 1977|
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