Tobacco Protest by Saman Namazikhah

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The birth of the political fatwa The Tobacco Protest Of 1891 Presented by Saman Namazikhah March 3rd, 2010 To the members of IMAN CYPG Wednesday Night Class I.M.A.N.

What is The Tobacco Protest? : 

What is The Tobacco Protest? A Shi’a cleric-led revolt in Iran against an 1890 tobacco concession granted by the Nasir al-Din Shah to Great Britian In December 1891, a fatwa against the use of tobacco by Grand Ayatollah Mirza Hassan Shirazi was the climax of the protest.

Thoughtful inquiry… : 

Thoughtful inquiry… Do fatwa's hold more religious value or political merit? Should religious elite manipulate religion for socio/political benefits of the masses? What is the responsibility of the masses in regards to fatwa’s?

Foundation For Revolt…. : 

Foundation For Revolt…. Iran (Qajar Dynasty) is inundated by foreign presence due to losses to the Russian Empire in 1813 & 1828 as well as the British Empire in 1857. Nasir al-Din Shah is forced to grant countless concessions to Russia and Britain which lead to Iranian bazaaris being left in vulnerable situation and discontent with the Qajar Government. Later accounts by British eyewitnesses suggest that the reason why the dynasty had not been overthrown sooner in the face of widespread discontent was due to British and Russian intervention that essentially propped up the Shah.* *Keddie, Nikki. Religion and Rebellion in Iran: The Tobacco Protest of 1891-92. Frank Cass, 1966, p. 3

Foundation For Revolt…. : 

Foundation For Revolt…. In 1872, The Reuter concession granted to a British citizen, Baron Julius de Reuter. Domestic outrage in the form of local protests & Russian hostility towards the concession. Nasir al-Din Shah is forced to cancel the agreement despite financial situation.

Light Me Up…. : 

Light Me Up…. On March 20th, 1890, Nasir al-Din Shah granted a concession to Major G. F. Talbot for a full monopoly over the production, sale, and export of tobacco for fifty years. 8 months later, the concession was sold to Imperial Tobacco Corporation of Persia.

Light Me Up…. : 

Light Me Up…. A Tobacco Régie was subsequently established and all the producers and owners of tobacco in Persia were forced to sell their goods to agents of the Régie. Régie: Any kind of government monopoly (tobacco, salt, etc.) used chiefly as a means of taxation.

Light Me Up…. : 

Light Me Up…. September 1890, first round of protest ironically came from Russia and not from the people of Iran. In February of 1891 Major G. F. Talbot traveled to Iran to install the Tobacco Régie and soon thereafter the shah made news of the concession public for the first time, sparking immediate disapproval throughout the country.

Light Me Up…. : 

Light Me Up…. During the spring of 1891 mass protests against the Régie began to emerge in major Iranian cities. Affluent merchants such as Hajj Mohammad Malek al-Tojjar played a vital role in the tobacco movement by organizing bazaari protests as well as appealing to well known mujtahids for their support in opposing the Régie.

Light Me Up…. : 

Light Me Up…. The ulema proved to be a highly valuable ally of the bazaari as key religious leaders sought to protect national interests from foreign domination. The cities of Shiraz, Tehran, and Tabriz would subsequently develop into the most prominent centers of opposition to the tobacco concession.

The Removal… : 

The Removal… In May of 1891 Sayyed Ali Akbar, a prominent molla of Shiraz was removed from the city by orders of Nasir al-Din Shah due to his preaching against the concession.

The Letter…. : 

The Letter…. During his departure from Iran, Sayyed Ali Akbar met with prominent pan-Islamist activist Jamal al-Din al Afghani, and at Akbar’s request Afghani wrote a letter to the leading Shia cleric Mirza Hasan Shirazi asking the mujtahid to "save and defend the country" from "this criminal [Shah] who has offered the provinces of the land of Iran to auction amongst the Great Powers."

The Fatwa…. : 

The Fatwa…. In December of 1891 a fatwa was issued by the most important religious authority in Iran, marja’-i taqlid Mirza Hassan Shirazi, declaring the use of tobacco to be tantamount to war against the Hidden Imam, Muhammad al-Mahdi.

The Masses…. : 

The Masses…. “Most Iranians would rather forego bread than tobacco, and the first thing they would do at the breaking of the fast during the month of Ramadan was to light their pipes.”* Despite the popularity of tobacco, the religious ban was so successful that it was said that women in the shah's haram quit smoking and his servants refused to prepare his water pipe. *Gilman, Sander, and Zhou Xun. Smoke: A Global History of Smoking. Reaktion Books, 2004, p. 60.

A Fatwa for Lung Cancer! : 

A Fatwa for Lung Cancer! By January of 1892, when the shah saw that the British government "was waffling in its support for the Imperial Tobacco Company," he canceled the concession. By January 26 Shirazi issued another fatwa repealing the first and permitting tobacco use, "and Iranians began smoking again.”

Once the smoke clears… : 

Once the smoke clears… As a result of the tobacco movement, the ulama firmly established not only their religious legitimacy but also their political legitimacy. Furthermore their alliance with the bazaaris proved to be a resounding success. From 1892 onwards the clergy were seen as defending the interests of the common individual while the shah was portrayed as placing his own personal benefit ahead of the welfare of the Iranian population.

Thoughtful inquiry… : 

Thoughtful inquiry… Do fatwa's hold more religious value or political merit? Should religious elite manipulate religion for socio/political benefits of the masses? What is the responsibility of the masses in regards to fatwa’s?

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