Interview with Dr. Karim Mojtahedi, Professor of Philosophy at Tehran University

The expression “revolution” is notable and searchable according to logic and also according to meaning and especially with regard to real inserted evidence in history. In Persian and Arabic the word is derived from the word “ghallob” meaning change and transformation...

□What is the meaning of constitutional Revolution and when did it become prevalent in Iran political literature?

The expression “revolution” is notable and searchable according to logic and also according to meaning and especially with regard to real inserted evidence in history. In Persian and Arabic the word is derived from the word “ghallob” meaning change and transformation and in the European languages it is derived from the Latin word “revolutio” which has a vast circle of inclusion which exceeds the political and social applications of the word to a great extent. The expression is used in different sciences including astronomy, geography, etc. and is also used for change of seasons and atmospheric conditions and about storms and natural overflows. From the political and social point of view, although its logic stays the same in any language, it can denote a vast spectrum of different events the real qualities of whichare so different depending on specific conditions of time and space, their preliminaries and results such that it is only possible to establish a literal association between them. In any case revolutions have had very different and various forms and senses regarding history, sometimes even this rate of distinction in the same country – in two different time frames of course – is entirely identifiable. For example in England the 1648 political revolution by Cromwell and the industrial revolution in the same country at the end of the 18th century were completely different. The great French revolution (1789) and what happened in the same country in 1830 or in 1848 was never entirely the same. The difference between the Russian revolution’s characteristics in 1917 cannot be forgotten with all the movements that happened before in the same country. Even in Iran – to state an unusual example – we had the Afghan riot about 300 years ago in our history which was recorded in all western resources as the “revolution in Iran” at the end of Safavi dynasty and as we know it was different with all the later developments in Iran.


□You haven’t said anything about the constitution yet.

Yes, about the term “constitution” and especially “constitutional” I have to say that it has been accompanied by many misunderstandings and complexities from the beginning and it requires exact investigation and consideration. It seems that in selection of this term a kind of deployment or maybe evasiveness from the beginning. At that time, intellectualseffective in the events wished fined an equivalent for the French term “constitution”, “constitutionnel”. This term in French is derived from the Latin word “constitution”, the first meaning of which indicates the act of organization and compilation and the second meaning of which means a nation’s constitutional law (basic, essential law) which includes a collection of judicial rules and laws supervising and ruling all the relations between the government and the people living under that constitution. The word constitution which is feminine is considered in the concrete meaning against the abstract and in the political literature of our country has a modern and new aspect. Of course this expression has been used in logic since old times and has been used under titles of special constitution or constant constitution or constant not necessary or general not constant and etc. (refer to dictionary of intellectual by Dr. Sajadi adapted from Asas-al-Eghtebas by Khaje Nasir). The word constitution is of course a coined infinitive which is probably used in Iran as an imitation of the ottomans. Some experts believe this word is derived as an Arabic past participle from the French word Charte meaning charter, command, official order and authorized and etc. But certainly this expression was never used in Farsi and Arabic in the meaning of legal government but gradually in the recent periods the equivalent of the French consti tution has prevailed which of course the French word conditionnel (meaning conditioned) was effective having the same literal and tonal similarities. Anyhow, whatever the logic of the word may be, its meaning, although always obscure in Iran, has been used in fights against oppression and one-sided and unreasonable verdicts and in return the votes of the representatives and the official statute is taken into account. Since the type of law and the criterion for its distinct identification was not made clear in the meaning of constitution from the beginning, some of the early representatives proposed the term “legitimacy” or “legitimate constitution” to bind the government with conditions conforming to the laws of Islam. It seems as though Sheikh Fazl-Allah Nouri or his followers thought of the latter expressions. Some of the ambiguities in the meaning of constitution were the cause of some underlying disagreements in the course of political reformation. In this regard one can point out the change of the expression “House of Justice” to “the National Parliament”. Anyhow, it seems that by paying attention in the semantic transformation of key expressions, one can become to some extent aware of the atmosphere of the political reforms in the last 100 years in Iran in an enclosed and concrete way.


□In your opinion, what was the effect of internal grounds and local and domestic trends in the formation of constitutional revolution?

No revolution can be bound and limited to a certain date to represent its official start and end. Since incidents and happenings are non-fractional, time frames usually raised in historical studies seem conventional inevitably and to a great extent; meaning that without considering what happened before the constitutional revolution and the results obtained afterwards, its nature cannot be accurately known nor can a valid criterion for its judgment be achieved. But one must never forget that the Shiite Iran is always ready to seek justice and the truth. This is one the main distinctions of the Shiite beliefs. During the constitution period, even the intellectuals, some of whose faith can b doubted, were fully aware of this covert force which may have been formed due to the collective unconscious and relied on it during the course of transformations. Many historical examples can be stated in this regard.


□Can discussions and exchange of ideas about the constitution be effective in the promotion of our culture?

It certainly is. Previous historical events are reviewed and assessed according to today’s needs and if such a lively relation with the past is not established in our society and the survivors do not have a real relation with their predecessors, they may not only suffer from non-description but also become unaware of their future facilities and lose their mental independence for building up a promising future. Precise familiarity of the past is not only for character preservation but also for achieving mental independence which is very important in materializing future facilities.


□Is a kind of method pathology necessary in such research?

Of course. Through finding more documents and evidence our information increases but pathology of research methods is also necessary. With the transformations in methods, our young researchers may obtain a deeper expression and provide the readers with more decent material which is not available at the moment. In any case I mean to say paying attention to the essence of the incidents and creating a motive for genuine research and away from present transfers, is without a doubt a cultural responsibility which will reveal many of the untold realities and present them to the people of Iran.

شناسه مطلب : 1982|
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