Iranian Constitutional Movement: Struggle for Enforcement of the Law

  November 28, 2020   Read time 1 min
Iranian Constitutional Movement: Struggle for Enforcement of the Law
Although the constitution was written and endorsed by Shah, its enforcement was itself a great challenge that would haunt the whole nation. Shah and his mercenaries were all against it because it set restrictions that posed limitation to their power. However, the growing knowledge and awareness of the people worked under the activism of elite.
On December 12, 1905, following closure of the bazaar, a huge crowd gathered at Tehran’s Friday mosque to protest the mistreatment of the city’s sugar merchants by the governor of the capital and to demand that the mojtaheds of the city come out in their defense. The crowd listened to Jamal al-Din Isfahani, a middle-ranking popular preacher, who rebuked the governor for his cruelty, warned that the Iranian nation under the aegis of the deserved justice and public security, and called for the lifting of the state’s draconian price controls. Further, he declared that both the common law, as enforced by the state, and the Islamic law, as practiced by the mojtaheds, must comply with “the law” (qanun), a notion new to Iranian audiences that implied the Constitution. If the shah is a true Muslim, he stressed, he too must comply with the people’s wishes. The demands epitomized the predicament of a revolution that his sermon served to inaugurate.These bold claims were bound to agitate the pro-state ulama. In the midst of Jamal al-Din’s sermon, the government-appointed Imam of the Tehran Friday Mosque, outraged by the preacher’s outspokenness, ordered him forcefully pulled from the pulpit and expelled. Subsequently, the clubwielding government guards rushed into the mosque and drove out the protesting crowd. The next day, some of the ulama who had been present at the gathering and were offended by the government’s overreaction left the city in symbolic protest and took sanctuary (bast) in the local shrine of ‘Abd al-‘Azim south of the capital. The shrine soon became the center of protest, and the population of Tehran came in droves to sympathize with the protesters (Source: Iran a Modern History, Abbas Amanat).