Iran Forum



Modernity, schizochronia, and Homeless texts


By; Mohamad Tavakoli-Targhi

1. Modernity and Heterotopia

          A shift towards “historical epistemology” has altered the nature of scholarship on modernity and nationality.[1]  Departing from objectivist and Eurocentric historiographies, postmodern and postcolonial scholars have began to reactivate the sedimented practices that naturalized “the nation” and instituted Europe as the original home of modernity.[2]  As the foundation of modern historical narratives, “the nation” is being revisited by scholars who view it not as a concrete and observable reality but as a modernist style of collective imagination, societal organization, and self-disciplining of citizens.[3] By the contingent deployment of territory, history, language, ethnicity, and culture, the architects of modern cosmopolitical order naturalized the nation as a serially continuous and homogeneous entity endowed with a distinct identity and characteristics.  By structuring thought-ways, patterns of identity, nations and nation-states regulated the modern time’s expanding gap between the “space of experience” and the “horizon of expectation.”[4]  In the new age of “fateful simultaneity of spring and autumn”[5] when everything seemed “pregnant with its contrary”[6] the apocalyptic expectation of the radical rupture of the time to come was transformed into an anticipated and planned “progress” towards the future. Displacing divine decree with human agency, the modernist notion of progress combined experience and expectation and thus “served the purpose of theoretically anticipating future historical movement and practically influencing it.”[7]  Revolution, development, progress, and liberation--these and other temporalized concepts--were employed to awaken a nation to “self-consciousness” and to normalize the experience of everyday-life in rapidly changing modern times. The binary opposites of these concepts--reaction, tradition, stagnation, and despotism--were often deployed against a nation’s internal ‘foes’  who were marginalized and excluded from the national-political scene.

          The reexamination of the Eurocentric definition of modernity has been at the center of recent historical reactivations of “modern times.”[8] The conventional Enlightenment story treats modernity as a peculiarly European development, as a byproduct of “Occidental rationalism.”[9] Viewed from within this hegemonic paradigm, non-European societies were “modernized” as a result of Western impact and influence.[10]  Thus Westernization, modernization, and acculturation were conceived as interchangeable concepts accounting for the transition of “traditional” and “non-Western” societies.[11] These assertions have been reevaluated by scholars examining the cultural genealogies and etiologies of modernity.[12]  Locating “the West” in a larger global context beginning with the “Age of Exploration,” Stuart Hall suggests that, “The so-called uniqueness of the West was, in part, produced by Europe’s contact and self-comparison with other, non-western, societies (the Rest), very different in their histories, ecologies, patterns of development, and cultures from the European model.”[13] Demonstrating the critical importance of “the Rest” in the formation of “Western” modernity, Hall submits that “[w]ithout the Rest, (or its own internal ‘others’), the West would not have been able to recognize and represent itself as the summit of human history.”[14]  Hall’s revised conception of modernity allows for an expanded framework of analysis encompassing what I call the formative role of heterotopic experiences for the Age of Exploration in the formation of the ethos of modernity.

          In contrast to utopias, the imaginary places in which human societies are depicted in perfect forms, Michel Foucault explored heterotopias as alternative real spaces.[15] As existing loci beyond the everyday space of experience, heterotopias “are something like counter-sites, a kind of effectively enacted utopia in which the real sites, all other real sites that can be found within the culture, are simultaneously represented, contested, and inverted.”[16] These loci of alterity served the function of creating “a space of illusion that exposes every real space . . . a space that is other, another real space, as perfect, as meticulous, as well arranged as ours  is messy, ill-constructed, and jumbled.”[17]  Calling the latter type a “compensatory” heterotopia, Foucault speculated that “on the level of the general organization of terrestrial space” colonies might have “functioned somewhat in this manner.”[18]  He offered as historical examples the regulated colonies established by Jesuits and Puritans.  Similarly sixteenth-century reports of European exploration of exotic heterotopias, deepened the Renaissance “humanists’ understanding of human motives and action” and enlarged their framework of understanding.[19]  “As late as the 18th century,” according to Stephen Toulmin, “Montesquieu and Samuel Johnson still found it helpful to present unusual ideas by attributing them to people in a far-off land like Abyssinia or Persia.”[20]  The attribution of “unusual ideas to people in a far-off land” was not merely a “literary device.”[21] For instance, the physical presence of the Persian Ambassador Muhammad Riza Bayk (d. 1717) in France in 1715-16 provided the pertinent context for the imaginary scenarios informing the “unusual ideas” and the central question of Persian Letters: “How can one be Persian?” [22]  As spectacles and as native informants of exotic heterotopias, travelers like Muhammad Riza Bayk inspired native European spectators who in turn provided them with a space of self-recognition and self-refashioning.  Considering the material significance of the “Rest” in the formation of “Western modernity,” such attributions can be considered as residues of a genesis amnesia in European historiography.   Such a historiographical amnesia has made possible the fabrication of a coherent and continious medieval and modern “Western Civilization.”  As Maria R. Menocal has demonstrated the “European Awakening” was “an Oriental period of Western history, a period in which Western culture grew in the shadow of Arabic and Arabic-manipulated learning . . .”[23] 

          By recovering the significance of heterotopic experiences in the formation of the ethos of modernity, the lands beyond Europe, instead of being the reverse image of enlightenment and modernity, served as “laboratories of modernity,” as sites of earliest sightings of “the hallmarks of European cultural production . . .”[24] This has been explored in the historiographical works of Sidney Mintz, Timothy Mitchell, Uday Mehta, Benedict Anderson, Gwendolyn Wright, Paul Rabinow, and Nicholas Dirks, among others.[25]  Summarizing the contribution of these scholars, Ann Stoler observed that, “These reconfigured histories have pushed us to rethink European cultural genealogies across the board and to question whether the key symbols of modern western societies--liberalism, nationalism, state welfare, citizenship, culture, and ‘Europeanness’ itself--were not clarified among Europe’s colonial exiles and by those colonized classes caught in their pedagogic net in Asia, Africa, and Latin America, and only then brought ‘home’.”[26]  For instance, in Imagined Communities Anderson demonstrated that Creole communities developed “early conceptions of their nation-ness--well before most of Europe.”[27] Locating Foucault’s History of Sexuality in a larger trans-European context, Stoler contends, “One could argue that the history of Western sexuality must be located in the production of historical Others, in the broader force field of empire where technologies of sex, self, and power were defined as ‘European’ and ‘western,’ as they refracted and remade.”[28]  In the following chapter, I explain how the “founding” of historical linguistics by Sir William Jones was informed by the works of Persianate scholars and scholarship in India.[29]

          In light of these recent studies it can be argued that modernity was not a homemade product of “Occidental rationality,”[30] as asserted by Max Weber and universalized by “modernization” theorists.[31]  Alternatively, modernity can be viewed a product of a global network of power and knowledge that emerged initially around the sixteenth century.  The heterotopic experiences of crisscrossing peoples and cultures provided multiple scenarios of modernity and self-refashioning.  Whereas Europeans reconstituted the modern self in relation to their non-western Others, Asians and Africans began to redefine the self in the mirror of Europe, their new significant Other. 

          What Toulman calls the “counter-Renaissance” search for certainty,[32] constituted European modes of self-refashioning as archetypically universal, rational, and modern.  This dehistoricizing universalist claim enabled European rationalists to obliterate the heterotopic context of their self-making and thus constitute themselves as the originators of modernity and rationality.  This amnesiac or forgetful assertion gained hegemonic currency and thus constituted “non-Western” modernity as “Westernization.”

          The universalist claims of European enlightenment has blackmailed non-European modernity and debilitated its historiography by engendering a tradition of historical writing that used a dehistorized and decontextualized “European rationality” as its scale and referent.  Iranian historians and ideologues, like their Indian and Ottoman counterparts, developed a fractured conception of historical time that viewed their contemporary European societies ahead of their own time. This conception of historical time parallels the time-distancing devices of European anthropologists who denied coevalness to their contemporary non-western societies.[33]  Such a schizochronic conception of history informs the nationalist historiography of Iranian modernity, a historiography that assumes the non-contemporaneity of the contemporaneous Iranian and European societies.

II. Discursive Affinities of Nationalism and Orientalism

          Recognized as the heterotopia of modernity and scientific rationality, Europe has been constituted as the horizon of expectation for the Iranian passage to modernity.  Thus European history, as the future past of the desired present, has functioned as a normative scenario for the prognosis or forecasting of the future Iran. This anticipatory modernity introduced a form of historical thinking that narrated Iranian history in terms of the European past.  By universalizing that past, historical deviations from the European norm have been misrecognized as abnormalities.  Thence, the development of feudalism, capitalism, the bourgeoisie, the proletariat, democracy, freedom, scientific rationality, and industry in the “well-ordered” Europe have informed the diagnoses of their lack, absence, retardation, and underdevelopment in Iran.[34]  In other words, alternative non-European historical processes have been characterized as the absence of change and as unhistorical history.  For instance, John Malcolm, the author of an influential Orientalist History of Persia  (1815) which was translated into Persian in 1876, observed:

Though no country has undergone, during the last twenty centuries, more revolutions than the kingdom of Persia, there is, perhaps, none that is less altered in its condition. The power of the sovereigns, and of the satraps of ancient times; the gorgeous magnificence of the court; the habits of the people; their division into citizens, martial tribes, and savage mountaineers; the internal administration; and the mode of warfare; have continued essentially the same: and the Persians, as far as we have the means of judging, are at the present period, not a very different people from what they were in the time of Darius, and the Nousheerwan.[35]

In a more concise statement, Hegel (1770-1831) similarly asserted that, “The Persians . . retained on the whole the fundamental characteristics of their ancient mode of life.”[36] This dehistoricizing assumption--that is the contemporaneity of an early nineteenth-century ‘mode of life’ with that of ancient times--informs both Orientalist and nationalist historiographies that constitute the heightened period of European colonialism and imperialism as the true beginning of rationality and historical progress in Iran.  Whereas a progressive conception of time informs the modern European historiography from the late eighteenth century to the present, the accounts of modern Iran, like that of other non-Western societies, are unanimously based in a regressive conception of history.  Thus the passage to modernity has been constituted a radical break with the “stagnant” and eternally recurring Iranian mode of life.

          Malcolm viewed Islam and “the example of the prophet of Arabia and the character of some of the fundamental tenets of his faith” as the most prominent factors “in retarding the progress of civilization among those who have adopted his faith.”[37]  These “retarding” factors explained why “every country inhabited by Mahomedans” never “attained a state of improvement which can be compared with that enjoyed by almost all those nations who form the present commonwealth of Europe.”[38]   He concluded his recounting of the Iranian past with a reflection on its future. “The History of Persia, from the Arabian conquest to the present day,” he claimed, “may be adduced as a proof of the truth of these observations: and while the causes, by which the effects have been produced, continue to operate, no material change in the condition of that empire can be expected.”[39]  Malcolm wondered whether “the future destiny of this kingdom” could be altered with  “the recent approximation of a great European power . . .”[40]  The experience of the Ottomans who “wrapt up in the habits of their ancestors and  . . . have for ages resisted the progress of that civilization with which they were surrounded” did not seem promising to him.[41]  Thus the proximity with European powers and the “consequent collision of opposite habits and faith, was more likely to increase than to diminish those obstacles which hitherto prevented any very intimate or social intercourse between Mahomedan and Christian nations.”[42] This prognosis, a forerunner of “Clashes of Civilizations,” was grounded in the epistemological differentiation of the progressive Christian “commonwealth of Europe” and the stagnant  “Mahomedan nations” of Asia.

          With the global hegemony of “the West,” this binary opposition becomes an ever more significant component of an Iranian national historiography venerating progress, development, and growth.  With these concerns, a celebratory history of Europe provided the normative manual for deciphering the abnormalities of Iran’s past and for promoting its modernization, i.e., Westernization. For instance, Ervand Abrahamian, the author of one of the most sophisticated accounts of modern Iran, offers a paradigmatic view of the nineteenth century, a view that is embedded in Persian historical writings.[43]  “Traditional Iran,” in his estimation, “in sharp contrast to feudal Europe, thus had no baronial rebellions, no magna carta, no legal estates, and consequently no representative institutions.”[44] These and other lacks constitute the foundation for explaining a series of reformist failures of the nineteenth-century Qajars: “The attempt to construct a statewide bureaucracy failed. . . . The Qajars were equally unsuccessful . . . in building a viable standing army . . . [and] even failed to recapture the full grandeur of the ancient shah-in-shahs.”[45]  By narrating a failed version of European history, this progressive historian of Iran assumes a typically Orientalist vantage: “For the nineteenth-century Europeans, the Qajar dynasty was an epitome of ancient oriental despotism; in fact, it was a failed imitation of such absolutism.”[46]  Such a characterization is a common feature of Orientalist, nationalist, and also Marxist historiography of nineteenth-century Iran.[47] The opening paragraph of Guity Nashat’s The Origin of Modern Reforms in Iran, is likewise a testimony to the centrality of Europe in the horizon of expectation for “traditional” Iran:

In 1870 a young Iranian of modest background, Mirza Huseyn Khan, was presented with an opportunity to regenerate Iran.  During the next ten years he introduced regulations that were designed to transform the country’s traditional political, military, and judicial institutions to resemble Western models.  He also attempted to introduce Western cultural innovations and Westernized modes of thought.[48]

Viewed as a “Western model” used to transform ‘traditional’ societies, “the modern,” as in the above case, is commonly understood “as a known history, something which has already happened elsewhere, and which is to be reproduced, mechanically or otherwise, with a local content.”[49]  As a mimetic plan, Iranian modernity, like its non-Western counterparts, can at best be hailed as a “project of positive unoriginality.”[50]  An eternally recurring Iranian premodernity is thus superseded by an already enacted “Western” modernity.

          Viewing modernity as belated reduplication of “Western models,” historians of Iran often invent periodizations that are analogous to standard European historical accounts.  Recognizing Descartes’ Discours sur la Méthode and Newton’s Principia as as two founding texts of modern thought in Europe, Iranian historians have the same expectations for the Persian rendering of these texts.   In a modularized periodization of the Iranian “discovery of the West” and the “dissemination of European ‘new learning’” Mangul Bayat, a historian of Qajar Iran, writes that a Persian translation of René Descartes’ Discourse was commisioned by Arthur Gobineau and published in 1862.[51]  Referring to I‘tizad al-Saltanah’s Falak al-Sa‘adah (1861),[52] she adds that only one year earlier Isaac Newton and the idea of heleocentricity had been “introduced to the Iranian public.”[53] This periodization concerning the introduction of modern European philosophical texts is similarly advanced by Faraydun Adamiyat, E. Keddouri, Nikki Keddie, Jamshid Bihnam, and Arlireza Mansfzadeh.[54]  Adamiyat, a pioneering historian of Iranian modernity, contended that Falak al-Sa‘adah and the Persian translation of Discourse provided the “context for rational transformation” (zaminah-’i tahavvul-i ‘aqlani) of nineteenth-century Iran.[55]  To dramatize the historical significance of Descartes’ translation, he speculated that all copies of an earlier 1853 edition of the text might have been burned.[56] 

          In these accounts, the Comte de Gobineau, a French diplomat in Tehran as well as an infamous anti-Semite,[57] is credited as the initiator of the rationalizing tasks of translating Descartes’ generative text of European modernity into Persian.  While Gobineau commissioned this translation, he doubted whether Iranians and other Asians were capable of absorbing modern civilization.[58]  Like Gobineau, Iranian nationalist historians of scientific modernity often assume that “the defense of geocentricism was of greatest importance for Muslim traditional scholars, just as it was for the medieval church.”[59]  In such accounts the endeavor for modernity is often depicted as a contention between the rational European astronomy and the irrational Muslim astrology.[60] For example, Bayat writes that I‘tizad al-Saltanah “rose in defence of Newton and other European scientists’ theories, and he declared obsolete the ‘knowledge of the ancients.’”[61]  Likewise, Arjomand argues that I‘tizad al-Saltanah’s work “is the first book of its kind, aimed at combating the belief in traditional astronomy and astrology and bringing what might be termed scientific enlightenment to 19th-century Iran.”[62] 

          Recounting the contentions for scientific rationality, historians of modern Iran often select scholars who endorsed astrology and opposed heleocentrism as Muslim representatives, ignoring those who did not fit into this schema. By claiming that the Persian publication of Descartes in the 1860s is the beginning of a new age of rationality and modernity, these historians provide a narrative account that accommodates and reinforces the foundational myth of modern Orientalism, a myth that constitutes ‘the West’ as ontologically and epistemologically different from ‘the Orient’.[63]  This Orientalist problematic has been validated by a nationalist historiography that constitutes the period prior its own arrival as a time of decay, backwardness, and despotism.[64]   By deploying the basic dogmas of Orientalism for the enhancement of its own political project, in this sense, Iranian nationalist historiography has participated “in its own Orientalizing.”[65]  As self-designated vanguards of modernity and national homogenization, both official and counter-official Iranian nationalists have naturalized and authenticated the working assumptions of Orientalism.[66]


III. Homeless Texts

                    In the mid-seventeenth century a purely self-congratulatory view of European civilization as the paragon of universal reason and the concurring  “blackmail of the Enlightenment”[67] had not yet been formed.  Similarly, Europe’s Oriental-Other had not yet been dehistoricized as only “traditional,” “static,” and “unchanging,” and Muslims were not viewed as “anti-scientific.”  More significantly, historical thinking had not yet been confined to the boundaries of modern nation-states.  It is during this period that an alternative account of a Persianate modernity can be retrieved.  Pre-dating the consolidation of modern nation-states and the co-optation of modernity as a state-legitimating ideology, following Foucaults, modernity may be envisaged as an ethos rather that a well-demarcated historical period:

I wonder whether we may not envisage modernity as an attitude rather than a period of history. And by ‘attitude,’ I mean a mode of relating to contemporary reality; a voluntary choice made by certain people; in the end, a way of thinking and feeling; a way, too, of acting and behaving that at one and the same time marks a relation of belonging and presents itself as a task.  No doubt, a bit like what the Greeks called an ëthos.  And consequently, rather than seeking to distinguish the ‘modern era’ from the ‘premodern’ or ‘postmodern,’ I think it would be useful to try to find out how the attitude of modernity, ever since its formation, has found itself struggling with attitudes of ‘countermodernity’. [68]


By envisaging modernity as an ethos rather than as a decisive epoch of the nation, historians of Iran and India may imagine a joint fact finding mission that would allow for reactivating what the poet Mahdi Ikhvan Salis has aptly recognized as “stories vanished from memory” (qissah-ha-yi raftah az yad).[69]  These vanished stories may be retrieved from a large corpus of texts made homeless with the emergence of history with borders, a convention that confined historical writing to the borders of modern nation-states. 

          The convention of history with borders has created many homeless texts that have fallen victim to the fissure of Indian and Iranian nationalism.  Although abolished as the official language of India in 1837, the intellectual use of Persian continued and Persian publications in nineteenth-century India outnumbered those produced in other languages.  Publishers in Calcutta, Bombay, Lucknow, Kanpur, Delhi, Lahore, Haydarabad, and other cities in the Indian subcontinent also published more Persian books than their counterparts in Iran.  Many of the literary and historical texts edited and published in India achieved canonical status in the neighboring Iran.  Rammahan Roy, the acclaimed “father of modern India,” was in fact the editor of one of the first Persian newspapers, Mir‘at al-Akhbar (1822).  This Indo-Iranian intellectual symmetry continued until the end of nineteenth century when a Persian newspaper, Miftah al-Zaffar (1897), campaigned for the formation of Anjuman-i Ma‘arif, an academy devoted to the strengthening of Persian as a scientific language.[70]  Whereas the notion of Western Civilization provided a safety net supplementing European national histories, no common historiographical practice captures the residues of the colonial and national conventions of historical writing that separates the joint Persianate literary culture of Iran and India--a literary culture that is irreducible to Islam and the Islamic Civilization. A postcolonial historiography of Indian and Iranian modernity must began to reactivate the concurring history that has been erased from memory by colonial conventions and territorial divisions.


          The conventional account of Persianate acquaintance with the Cartesian notion of ‘I think, therefore I am’, differs radically from an account retrievable from the Travels of Francois Bernier (b. 1620), a French scholar who resided in India for a few years.  Approximately two hundred years prior to Arthur de Gobineau, Danishmand Khan Shafi‘a Yazdi (1578-1657), a Mughal courtier and Iranian émigré who was aware of current intellectual developments in Europe, dared to be wise (in Kant’s sense of sapere aude) and commissioned Bernier to translate into Persian the works of René Descartes (1560-1650), William Harvey (1578-1657), and Jean Pecquet (1622-1674).[71]  Bernier, a student of the philosopher Gassendi and a recipient of a Doctor of Medicine in 1652 who is also considered as a founding figure of modern Orientalism,[72] was an employee of Mirza Shafi‘a, who was granted the title “Danishmand” (scholar/scientist) for his intellectual endeavors.  He reported of "explaining to my Agah [master] the recent discoveries of Harveus and Pecquet in anatomy . . . [and] discoursing on the philosophy of Gassendi and Descartes, which I translated to him in Persian (for this was my principal employment for five or six years) . . .."[73] Illustrating the intellectual courage and curiosity of Danishmand Khan, Bernier wrote:

[M]y Navaab, or Agah, Danech-mend-khan, expects my arrival with much impatience.  He can no more dispense with his philosophical studies in the afternoon than avoid devoting the morning to his weighty duties as Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs and Grand Master of the Horse.  Astronomy, geography, and anatomy are his favourite pursuits, and he reads with avidity the works of Gassendi and Descartes."[74]

Danishmand Khan who is known to have espoused and “disseminated many of the innovating principles of that [European] community” (aksari az ahkam-i tahrifat-i an jamahat tikrar minimud)[75]  desired to know “European sciences” (‘ilm-i ahl-i farang) at a time when Europe was still plagued with religious wars.[76]  His sustained interest in European intellectual developments is evident from his securing of a promise from Bernier “to send him the books from ferngistan [Europe].”[77] It was within the dynamic intellectual community around Danishmand Khan that Bernier became familiar with Persian translations of classical Sanskrit texts, including the Upanishads, which he brought back to Paris.[78]  But the writings of Danishmand Khan and his cohorts who trained Bernier--this pedagogue of the “educated society in the seventeenth century” Europe--have remained virtually unknown.  This is in part because of the stereotypical perception of the period of the Indian Mughal Emperor Aurangzayb’s rule (1658-1707) as the age of Muslim bigotry and medieval decline.  Confined within the grand narratives of “historical stages” and colonial Hindu nationalism, historians of “medieval” India have mostly found facts of decline, all too often the only facts that they have searched for.  During the same period Francois Martin, a friend of Berneir who visited Iran in 1669, observed that Persians “love the sciences, particularly mathematics.”  Contrary to received ideas, Martin reported: “It is believed that they [the Persians] are not very religious.”[79]  Likewise the Pietro della Valle (1586-1652) could still confide in        that the Persianate scholar Mulla Zayn al-Din Lari, who has remained unkown to historians of Iran, “was comparable to the best in Europe.”[80]  

          The scholarly efforts of Raja Jai Singh (1688-1743) provide another precolonial example of Persianate scholars’ engagement with the modern sciences.  Jai Singh built the observatories of Delhi, Banaris, and Jaipur, and based on new observations prepared the famous Persian astronomical table Zij-i Muhammad Shahi of 1728.[81]  After the initial draft of his astronomical calculations, he sent a mission to Portugal in 1730 to acquire new observational equipment and to inquire about recent astronomical findings. The mission included Father Emmanuel de Figueredo (1690?-1753?) and Muhammad Sharif and returned with an edition of Phillipe de La Hire’s Tabulae Astronomicae from 1702.[82]  Mubashir Khan provides a brief account of Jai Singh’s scientific mission in his Manahij al-Istikhraj, an eighteenth-century guide for astronomical observation and calculations.  Mubashir Khan reported that Mirza Muhammad ‘Abid and Mirza Khayr Allah were two “Muslim engineers” who assisted Raja Jai Singh in the building of observatories.  He had met Mirza Khayr Allah, who explained to him how Jai Sing with the assistance of “Padre Manuel” acquired European observational equipment and a copy of de La Hire’s Tabulae.  La Hire’s calculations were used by Jai Sing in a revised edition of his Zij-i Muhammad Shahi.[83]  This astronomical table, which was well known to eighteenth-century Iranian scholars, has remained virtually unknown to Historians of Iran.[84]  It is significant to note that almost a century earlier Shah ‘Abbas II (1642-1666) also had sent a mission to Rome to learn European painting techniques. The delegation included Muhammad Zaman “Paulo” who joined the ranks of the artists of the royal court and left a long lasting imprint on representational art in both India and Iran.[85]

          Works of Tafazzul Husayn Khan (d. 1800), well known to his Iranian friends and associeates, are among other homeless texts that are elided from both Indian and Iranian annals of modernity. Hailed as an ‘Allamah (arch-scholar), he was an exemplary figure of the late eighteenth century who interacted closely with the first generation of British Orientalists in India and actively promoted local inquiry into modern science.  In the 1780s he translated Sir Isaac Newton’s Principia, Emerson’s Mechanics, and Thomas Simpson’s Algebra.[86]   In his obituary in 1803 The Asiatic Annual Register remembered Tafazzul Husayn Khan as “both in qualities and disposition of his mind, a very remarkable exception to the general character of Asiatic genius.”[87]  Taking an exception to William Jones’s assessment that “judgment and taste [were] the prerogative of Europeans,”[88] the obituary stated, “But with one, at least, of these proud prerogatives, the character of Tafazzul Husayn[89] unquestionably interferes; for, a judgment at once sound, clear, quick, and correct, was its indistinguishable feature.”[90]  To document the accomplishments of this ‘Asiatic’ who had “cultivated ancient as well as modern European literatures with ardour and success . . . very uncommon in any foreigner,”  The Asiatic Annual Register published letters received from Ruben Burrows (1747-1792),[91] David Anderson,[92] and Lord Teignmouth.  Lord Teignmouth remarked that for Tafazzul Husayn Khan, “mathematics was his favourite pursuit, and perceiving that the science had been cultivated to an extent in Europe far beyond what had been done in Asia, he determined to acquire a knowledge of European discoveries and improvements; and with this view, began the study of the English language.”[93]  He further noted that in two years, Tafazzul Husayn Khan

“was not only able to understand any English mathematical work, but to peruse with pleasure the volumes of our best historians and moralists.  From the same motives he afterwards studied and acquired the Latin language, though in a less perfect degree; and before his death had made some progress in the acquisition of the Greek dialect.[94] 

Tafazzul Husayn Khan’s knowledge of classical Indo-Islamic sciences were utilized by the British Orientalists William Jones, Richard Johnson, and Ruben Burrows, with whom he was aquatinted.[95]

          Mir ‘Abd al-Latif Shushtari (1172-1220/1758-1806), a close associate of Tafazzul Husayn Khan who traveled to India in 1788, provided a synopsis of European modernity, modern astronomy and new scientific innovations in his Tuhfat al-‘alam (1216 H/1801).[96]  Shushtari constituted the year 900 of Hijrah (1494/1495 CE) as the beginning of a new era associated with the decline of the caliphate (khilafat) of the Pope (Papa),[97] the weakening of the Christian clergy, the ascent of philosophy, and the strengthening of philosophers and scientists.  Referring to the English Civil War, he explained the decline of religion. While both philosophers and rulers affirmed the unity of God, they viewed “as myths” (hamah ra afsanah) prophecy, resurrection, and prayers.[98]  He also explained the views of Copernicus and Newton on heliocentricity and universal gravitation.[99] Shurshtari rejected the astrological explanations of “earlier philosophers” (hukama-yi ma taqaddam) and found affinities between the contemporary British scientific views and the “unbounded rejection of astrologers in the splendid Shari‘ah” (kah hamah ja dar Shari‘at-i gharra’ takzib-i munajimin varid shudah ast).[100] Critical of the classical explanation of tides, as recounted by ‘Abd Allah Jazayiri (d. 1173/1760) in Tilism-i Sultani, he offered a Newtonian account relating the tides to gravitational actions of the sun and moon on oceanic waters.[101] Accordingly, he explained why the magnitude of the high tides in Calcutta differed from that of the coastal cities of the Persian Gulf.  Shushtari viewed Newton as a “great sage and distinguished philosopher” (hakim-i a‘zam va filsuf-i mu‘azzam) and ventured that in view of Newton’s accomplishments all the “the golden books of the ancients” (gawharin namah’ha-yi bastaniyan) are now “similar to images on water” (nimunah-’i naqsh bar ab ast).[102]  Shushtari’s critical reflections on European history and modern sciences was appreciated by Fath ‘Ali Shah who assigned the historian Mirza Muhammad Sadiq Marvazi Vaqayi‘ Nigar (d. 1250/1834) the task of editing an abridged edition of Tuhfat al-‘Alam, which is known as Qava‘id al-Muluk (Axioms of Rulers).[103]  Given Shushtari’s competence in both classical and modern astronomy, a periodization of Iranian “scientific modernity” that lionizes I‘tizad al-Saltanah’s Falak al-Sa‘adah (1861) as the harbinger of scientific modernity needs serious reconsideration.  This is particularly important since I‘tizad al-Saltanah was familiar with Qava‘id al-Muluk.[104]

          Aqa Ahmad Bihbahani Kirmanshahi(1777-1819), an Iranian Shi‘i scholar and a friend of Shushtari who visited India between 1805 and 1810, devoted a chapter of his travelogue, Mir‘at al-Ahval-i Jahan Nama (1810), to “the classification of the universe according to the school of the philosopher Copernicus.”[105]  In the introduction he explained that “eminent philosophers are so numerous in Europe that their common masses [avvam al-nas] are inclined philosophically and seek mathematical and natural sciences.”[106] Like many other Muslim scholars, Bihbahani linked the “new views” (ara’-i jadidah) of Copernicus to those of ancient Greek philosophers but emphasized that “most of his beliefs are original”  (mu‘taqidat-i u aksari tazigi darand).[107] He explained favorably the heliostatic system, the sidereal periods for the rotation of planets around the sun, the daily axial and annual orbital revolutions of the earth, and the trinary rotations of the moon. This Muslim theologian found no necessary conflict between Islam and modern astronomy.[108]

          The corpus of homeless texts of modernity includes Maulavi Abu al-Khayr’s concise account of the Copernican solar system, Majmu‘ah-’i Shamsi (1807),[109]  which appears to have been known in Iran.[110] Like the works of Tafazul Husayn Khan, Majmu‘ah is a product of dialogic interaction between Persianate scholars and the British colonial officers. Among topics discussed in the Majmu‘ah are the movements of the earth, the law of inertia, the planetary motions, and universal gravitation. In the introduction Mawlavi Abu al-Khayr noted that his book was based on English language sources and was translated “with the assistance” (bi-i‘anat) of Dr. William Hunter (1718-83).[111]  It is significant to note that Hunter had introduced Raja Jai Sing’s Zij-i Muhammad Shahi to the English reading public in an article appearing in Asiatic Researches (1799).[112]  It is rather likely that Mawlavi Abu al-Khayr had assisted Hunter in understanding and translating this highly technical Persian text.

          During the first three decades of the nineteenth century numerous other texts on modern sciences were written in Persian that do not appear in accounts of Iranian and Indian modernity.[113]  Muhammad Rafi‘ al-Din Khan’s treatise on modern geometry and optics, Rafi‘ al-Basar (1250 H/1834),[114] was one such text.   The author was informed by English sources brought to his attention by Rev. Henry Martyn (1781-1812),[115] a renowned Christian missionary and a translator of the Bible into Persian.[116] With an increased mastery of modern science, Persianate scholars can be seen as becoming active themselves in the production of scientific knowledge.  In A‘zam al-Hisab, a treatise on mathematics completed in 1814, Hafiz Ahmad Khan A‘zam al-Mulk Bahadur (d. 1827) took issue with the Scottish astronomer James Ferguson on reckoning the difference between the Christian and the Muslim calendar.[117] Aware of the self-congratulatory views of Europeans, “particularly among the people of England,” A‘zam al-Mulk Bahadur wrote a treatise on astronomy, Mir‘at al-‘Alam (1819) in order to “disprove” the assertion that Muslims were “uninformed of  mathematics and astronomy.”[118]  Based on Copernican astronomy and informed by the most recent observations and discoveries at the Madras Observatory, this treatise likewise remains homeless and among those not yet included in the Indian and Iranian nationalist accounts of modernity.

          This familiarity of the Persianate world with the modern sciences was commonly reported by European travelers.  The British Orientalist James Fraser reported of meeting in December 1821 Fath Ali Khan Saba (d. 1822), the Qajar poet laureate, whom he viewed as “singularly well informed in, and has a great taste for, mechanics; having constructed several complicated pieces of machinery of his own invention, in a very ingenious manner, and even succeeded in making a printing press, from the plates of the Encyclopaedia Britannica.”[119]  In  February 1822 in Mashhad, Fraser met Amirzadah Nasir al-Din Mirza, whose “observations upon astronomy were pertinent and good; and the solutions he had devised for various difficulties that met him in his way, were ingenious and often perfectly just.”[120] Mirza Abd al-Javad, son of Mirza Mahdi the Mujtahid of Mashhad, was also acquaintanted with modern sciences. Reporting on his conversation with Mirza Abd al-Javad, Fraser wrote:

He asked me many very pertinent questions relating to geography and astronomy; and he pushed me so hard on subjects connected with the theory of optics, and the nature of the telescope, that I found I had neither language nor science sufficient to satisfy him.  He was particularly well skilled in mechanics, and produced several very ingenious articles of his own construction, with others of European fabric, as dials, dividers, and other mathematical instruments, such as I never expected to find  in Khorasan; and the uses of which he so well understood, that he had contrived to repair some of them which had accidentally been broken.[121]

Mirza Abd al-Javad’s interest in modern astronomy is evident from a Persian manuscript, Tufah-’i Muhammadiyah (1610)[122] which was copied for him.  The manuscript included an appendix on Europe, modern scientific instruments, the solar system, and notes on Newton, Calvin, and George Sale,[123] who translated the Qur‘an into English in 1734. Mulla Aqa Abu-Muhammad, another acquaintance of Fraser in Mashhad, was so keenly interested in astronomy and Fraser’s telescope that he invited the non-Muslim Fraser to dine with him.  Fraser believed that “I owed this invitation entirely to his wish to see my large telescope, and to view the stars through it, rather than to any desire for its master’s company.”[124] 

          Many Persianate travelers to Europe who were familiar with scientific astronomy added visits to observatories to their itinerary.  Mirza Abu Talib who traveled in Europe from 1799-1802 visited an observatory managed by Mr. Walker in London and attended the weekly scientific gatherings organized by Sir Joseph Bank and Captain James Cook, where he met the leading scholars of his time.[125]  In 1819 Mirza Salih visited Sir William Herschel, the German-born British astronomer and renowned maker of telescopes, and his observatory.[126]


III. Conclusion

          The preceding synopsis of Persianate familiarity with the modern sciences and its dialogic relations with Europe calls for the decolonization of historical imagination and the rethinking of what is commonly meant by South Asian and Middle Eastern modernity.  By anticipating a period of decline that paved the way for the British colonization, historians of Mughal India have searched predominantly for facts that illustrate the disintegration of this empire. Mughal historiography in this respect has a plot structure similar to the late Ottoman history.  In both cases, the dominant  themes of “decline” and “disintegration” are based on a projection  about the rise and progress of Europe.  In a similar manner, historians of modern Iran inherited historiographical traditions that militate against the construction of historical narratives about the pre-Constitutional and/or pre-Pahlavi times as anything but an age of ignorance (bikhabari), stagnation, and despotism.  Anticipating the coming of the Constitutional Revolution  of 1905-1909, historians of the revolution crafted narratives of intolerable conditions that instigated the coming of the revolution.[127]  Written by a participant of the revolution between 1910-12, the title of Nazim al-Islam Kirmani’s (1864-1919) paradigmatic account of the revolution, Tarikh-i Bidari-i Iranian (The History of the Awakening of Iranians), reveals this prevalent assumption of pre-revoluytionary dormancy.[128]  To legitimate the Pahlavi dynasty (1926-1979) as the architect of Iranian modernity and progress, Pahlavi historians likewise depicted the Qajar period as the dark age of Iranian history. These two Iranian historiographical traditions have been informed by and in turn informed Orientalist accounts of Qajar Shahs as the absolute Oriental despots and Islam as only a fetter to rationalization and secularization.  Inscribing the history of Europe on that of India and Iran, both Indian and Iranian historians have deployed a regressive conception of time that constitutes their respective histories in terms of lacks and failures. 

          These bordered histories have rendered homeless texts that yield a different account of Persianate modernity.  Historians of modern India often view Persian as a language only of the “medieval” Muslim Mughal court and thus find it unnecessary to explore the Persian texts of modernity.[129] Viewed as solely Iranian language, historians of Iran also consider unworthy Persian texts produced outside of the country.   The conventional Persian literary histories, moreover, regard poetry as a characteristically Iranian mode of self-expression.  With the privileged position of poetry in the invented national mentalité, the prose texts of the humanities are devalued and the scholarly efforts are infrequently spent on editing and publishing non-poetic texts.  Thus a large body of historicaly significant prose texts have remained unpublished.  This willful marginalization of prose is often masked as a sign of the prominance of poetry as an intrinsically national mode of expression. These factors account for the elision of texts produced in India, which are stereotypically considered as either linguistically faulty or as belonging to the corpus of the degenerate “Indian style” (sabk-i Hindi) texts. Consequently, Persian language texts documenting precolonial engagement with the modern sciences and responding to European colonial domination have remained nationally homeless and virtually unknown to historians working within the confines of modern Indian and Iranian nationalist paradigms. This has led to several historiographical problems.  Exclusion of these homeless texts from national historical canons, on the one hand, has contributed to the hegemony of Eurocentric and Orientalist conceptions of modernity as something uniquely European. On the other hand, by ignoring the homeless texts, both Indian and Iranian historians tend to consider modernity only under the rubric of a belated “westernization.” Such a conception of modernity reinforces the exceptionality of “Occidental rationality” and corroborates the programmatic view of Islamic and “Oriental” societies and cultures as static, traditional, and unhistorical.  This historiocal imagination is simultaniously grounded on two problematic conception of historical time.  On the one hand it is grounded in the presupposition of the non-contemporaniety of the contemporaneous Western and “Oriental” societies and on the other hand it is based on the dehistoricizing supposition of the contemporaneity of the non-contemporaneous early nineteenth-century and ancient modes of life. With the onset of westernization, consequently, the premodern repetition of ancient modes of life is replaced with the repetition of Western modernity. 



[1] Lorraine Daston defines historical epistemology as “the history of categories that structure our thought, pattern our arguments and proofs, and certify our standards for explanation. . . . Historical epistemology not only transcends the history of ideas, by asking the Kantian question about the preconditions that make thinking this or that idea possible; it also drastically curtails the chronological scope of the history of ideas as traditionally conceived, for it radically challenges the assumption of resemblance between ideas advanced by thinkers working within different conceptual categories.”  See her “Historical epistemology,” in Questions of Evidence: Proof, Practice, and Persuasion across the Disciplines, eds. James Chandler, Arnold Davidson, and Harry Hartootunian (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1991), 282-289, quotes on 282-283.

[2] “Husserl calls the routinization and forgetting of origins ‘sedimentation’, and the recovery of the constitutive activity of thought reactivation.”  See Ernesto Laclau, New Reflections on the Revolution of Our Time (London: Verso, 1990), 34.

[3] For instance see: Benedict Anderson, Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origins and Spread of Nationalism (Revised Edition; New York: Verso, 1983); Partha Chatterjee, Nationalist Thought and the Colonial World: A Derivative Discourse (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1986); idem, The Nation and Its Fragments: Colonial and Postcolonial Histories (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1993).

[4] According to Reinhart Koselleck “during the Neuzeit [modern time] the difference between experience and expectation has increasingly expanded; more precisely, that Neuzeit [modernity] is first understood as neue Zeit [new age] from the time that expectations have distanced themselves ever more from all previous experience.”  See his Futures Past: On the Semantics of Historical Time, trans. Keith Tribe (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1985), 276.

[5] Friedrich Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil, trans. Marianne Cowan (1955; Gateway, 1967), 210-211, 146-50.

[6] Analysing the contradictory trends of modern times, Karl Marx wrote, “On the one hand, there have started into life industrial and scientific forces which no epoch of human history had ever suspected.  On the other hand, there exist symptoms of decay, far surpassing the horrors of the latter times of the Roman Empire.  In our days everything seems pregnent with its contrary. . . All our inventions and progress seem to result in endowing material forces with intellectual life, and stultifying human life into a material force.”  See Karl Marx,

[7] Koselleck, Futures Past, 287.  According to Koselleck, “Progress is the first genuinely historical concept which reduced the temporal difference between experience and expectation into a single concept” (Koselleck, Futures Past, 282).

[8] For instance see, Enrique Dussel, “Eurocentrism and Modernity,” Boundary 2 20/3 (1993): 65-76; idem, The Underside of Modernity: Apel, Ricoeur, Rorty, Taylor, and the Philosophy of Liberation, trans. Eduardo Mendieta (New Jersey: Humanities Press, 1996).

[9] Max Weber, The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism (New York: Scribner, 1958), 25; Jürgen Habermas, The Philosophical Discourse of Modernity: Twelve Lectures, trans. Frederick G. Lawrence (Cambridge, Massachusetts: The MIT Press, 1987), 1.

[10] For instance see Bernard Lewis, “The Impact of the West,” in The Emergence of Modern Turkey (2nd edition; London: Oxford University Press, 1961), 40-73.  Also see Leonard Binder, “The Natural History of Development Theory, with a Discordant Note on the Middle East,” in Islamic Liberalism: A Critique of Development Ideology (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1988), 24-84. According to Habermas, “The concept of modernization refers to a bundle of processes that are cumulative and mutually reinforcing; to the formation of capital and the mobilization of recourses; to the development of the forces of production and the increase in the productivity of labor; to the establishment of centralized political power and the formation of national identities; to the proliferation of rights of political participation, of urban forms of life, and of formal schooling; to the secularization of values and norms; and so on.”  See Jürgen Habermas, The Philosophical Discourse of Modernity: Twelve Lectures, trans. Frederick Lawrence (Cambridge: MIT Press, 1987), 2.

[11] According to G. E. Von Grunebaum, “Acculturation, or more precisely Westernization, in the Near and Middle East has gone through distinct typical phases.  After the shock caused by the discovery of inadequacy, there followed an almost complete surrender to foreign values and (not infrequently misunderstood) aspirations; then with Westernization partially realized, a recoiling set in from the alien, which however, continues to be absorbed greedily, and a falling back on the native tradition; this tradition is restyled and, in some instances, newly created with borrowed techniques of scholarship to give respectability to the results.  Finally, with Westernization very largely completed in terms of governmental reforms, acceptance of the values of science, and adoption of Western literary and artistic forms, regained self-confidence expresses itself in hostility to the West and in insistence upon the native and original character of the borrowed product.”  See G. E. von Grunebaum, Modern Islam: The Search for Cultural Idenity (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1962), 248-288; quote on 248.

[12] Stuart Hall, “The West and the Rest: Discourse and Power,” in Modernity: An Introduction to Modern Societies, eds. Stuart Hall, David Held, Don Hubert, and Kenneth Thompson (Cambridge, MA: Blackwell Publishers, 1996), 184-227; J. M. Roberts, The Triumph of the West (London: British Broadcasting Corporation, 1985), particularly 194-202.

[13] Hall, “The West and the Rest,” 187.  The dichotomy, the West and the Rest, was originally formulated by Marshall Sahlins in his Culture and Practical Reason (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1976),       

[14] Hall, “The West and the Rest,” 221.

[15] According to Foucault, “There are also, probably in every culture, in every civilization, real places--places that do exist and that are formed in the very founding of society--which are something like counter-sites, a kind of effectively enacted utopia in which the real sites, all other real sites that can be found within the culture, are simultaneously represented, contested, and inverted. . . . Because these places are absolutely different from all the sites that they reflect and speak about, I shall call them, by way of contrast to utopia, heterotopias.  I believe that between utopias and these quite other sites, these heterotopias, there might be a sort of mixed, joint experience, which would be the mirror.  The mirror is, after all, a utopia, since it is a placeless place.  In the mirror, I see myself there where I am not, in an unreal, virtual space that opens up behind the surface; I am over there, there where I am not, a sort of shadow that gives my own visibility to myself, that enables me to see myself there where I am absent: such is the utopia of the mirror.  But it is also a hetrotopia in so far as the mirror does exist in reality, where it exerts a sort of counteraction on the position that I occupy.  From the standpoint of the mirror I discover my absence from the place where I am since I see myself over there.  Starting from this gaze that is, as it were, directed toward me, from the ground of this virtual space that is on the other side of the glass, I come back toward myself; I begin again to direct my eyes toward myself and to reconstitute myself there where I am.  The mirror functions as a heterotopia in this respect: it makes this place that I occupy at the moment when I look at myself in the glass at once absolutely real, connected with all the space that surrounds it, and absolutely unreal, since in order to be perceived it has to pass through this virtual point which is over there.” (“Of Other Spaces, 24)

[16] Foucault, “Of Other Spaces,” 24.

[17] Foucault, “Of Other Spaces,” 27.

[18] Foucault, “Of Other Spaces,” 27.

[19] Stephen Toulmin, Cosmopolis: The Hidden Agenda of Modernity (2nd edition; Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1992), 28

[20] Toulmin, Cosmopolis, 28.

[21] For instance see Judith Shklar, Montesquieu (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1987), 30.

[22]The first edition of The Persian Letters was published in 1721.  In Letter 91, documenting this evocative pertinent context writing about the Muhammad Riza Bayk, Montesquieu noted: "There has appeared a personage got up as a Persian ambassador, who has insolently played a trick on the two greatest kings in the world."  See his Persian Letters (1721; New York: Penguin, 1973), 172-173.  For an interesting interpretation of Persian Letters see: Josué V. Harari, Scenarios of the Imaginary: Theorizing the French Enlightenment (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1987), pp. 67-101. Also see: Adam Vartanian, "Eroticism and Politics in the Letters persanes," Romantic Review  LX:1(February 1969): 23-33; Morris Herbert, Muhammad Riza Bayk: Safir-i Iran dar Darbar-i Lu’i-i Chahardahum, trans. ‘Abd al-Husayn Vujdani (Tehran: Guzarish-i Farhang va Tarikh-i Iran, 1362/1983).

[23] Maria Rosa Menocal, The Arabic Role in Medieval Literary History: A Forgotten Heritage (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1987), 2. Explaining the scholarly resistance to this view of European awakening, Menocal writes, “The tenor of some of the responses to the suggestion that this Arab-centered vision might be a viable historiographical reconstruction for the West has occasionally been reminiscent of the reaction once provoked by Darwin’s suggestion (for son was the theory of evolution constructed) that we were ‘descended from monkey.’” Ibid., 3.

[24] Ann Stoler, Race and the Education of Desire: Foucault’s History of Sexuality and the Colonial Order of Things (Durham: Duke University Press, 1995), 15.

[25] For example see: Mitchell, Timothy, Colonising Egypt (Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press, 1988); Uday Mehta, Liberalism and empire : a study in nineteenth-century British liberal thought (Chicago : University of Chicago Press, 1999); Benedic Anderson, Imagined communities : reflections on the origin and spread of nationalism (London : Verso, 1983); Paul Rabinow, Reflections on fieldwork in Morocco, with a foreword by Robert N. Bellah (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1977).

[26] Stoler, Race and the Education of Desire, 16.

[27] Anderson, Imagined Communities, 47-65; quote on 50.  Emphasis in original.

[28] Stoler, Race and the Education of Desire, 195.

[29] The use of “Persianate” instead of “Persophone” was suggested to me by Carl Ernst.  In a personal correspondence on March 20, 1996, he wrote: “I would suggest Hodgson’s term Persianate rather than Persophone, since for many who used the language for literary or scientific proposes, it was what Jack Goody called a ‘father tongue’ learned in schools rather than a mother tongue, whether we have in mind residents of Kerman, Gilan, Multan, or the Decan; this also has the advantage of obviating national identification with the term ‘Persian’.”

[30] Weber, The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism,

[31] According to Jürgen Habermas, “The theory of modernization performs two abstractions on Weber’s concept of ‘modernity.’  It dissociates ‘modernity’ from its modern European origins and stylizes it into a spatio-temporally neutral model for processes of social development in general.  Furthermore it breaks the internal connections between modernity and the historical context of Western rationalism, so that processes of modernization can no longer be conceived of as rationalization, as the historical objectification of rational structures.”  See Jürgen Habermas, The Philosophical Discourse of Modernity: Twelve Lectures, trans. Frederick Lawrence (Cambridge: MIT Press, 1987), 2. 

[32] According to Toulmin, “In four fundamental ways . . . 17th-century philosophers set aside the long-standing preoccupation of Renaissance humanism.  In particular, they disclaimed any serious interest in four different kinds of practical knowledge: the oral, the particular, the local, and the timely” (Cosmopolis, 30). 

[33] Johannes Fabian defines the denial of coevalness as “a persistent and systematic tendency to place the referent(s) of anthropology in a Time other than the present of the producer of anthropological discourse [emphasis in original].  See his Time and the Other: How Anthropology Makes Its Object (New York: Columbia University Press, 1983), 31.

[34] For instance see, Ahmad Ashraf, “Historical Obstacles to the Development of a Bourgeoisie in Iran,” in Studies in the Economic History of the Middle East: from the Rise of Islam to the Present Day, ed. M. A. Cook (London; New York: Oxford University Press, 1970), 308-332.

[35] John Malcolm, The History of Persia from the Most Early Period to the Present Time, 2: 621; For the Persian translation see, Tarikh-i Iran, trans. Mirza Isma‘il Hayrat (Bombay: Matba‘-i Datparsat, 1886).

[36] George W. F. Hegel, The Philosophy of History, trans. J. Sibree (Buffalo, NY: Prometheus Books, 1991), 188

[37] Malcolm, The History of Persia, 2:622.

[38] Malcolm, The History of Persia, 2:623.

[39] Malcolm, The History of Persia, 2:623.

[40] Malcolm, The History of Persia, 2:624.

[41] Malcolm, The History of Persia, 2:6234.

[42] Malcolm, The History of Persia, 2:624.

[43] For instance see Ahmad Ashraf’s renowned work, Mavani‘-i Tarikhi-i Rushd-i Sarmayahdari dar Iran: Dawrah-’i Qajariyah (Tehran: Zaminah, 1359).

[44] Ervand Abrahamian, Iran Between Two Revolutions (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1982), 35.

[45] Abrahamian, Iran Between Two Revolution, respectivly  38, 39, 40.

[46] Abrahamian, Iran Between Two Revolution, 47.

[47] Homa Katouzian, The Political Economy of Modern Iran: Despotism and Pseudo-Modernism, 1926-1979 (New York: New York University Press, 1981), pp. 7-26, 298-300; idem, “Arbitrary Rule: A Comparative Theory of State, Politics and Society in Iran” British Society for Middle Eastern Studies 24: 1 (1977), 49-73; Ervand Abrahamian, "Oriental Despotism: the Case of Qajar Iran," International Journal of Middle Eastern Studies 5 (1984): 3-31;  idem, Ervand Abrahamian, "European Feudalism and Middle Eastern Despotisms," Science and Society  39 (1975): 135; George Curzon, Persia and the Persian Question (London: Logmans, 1892), 1: 433.  For a review of various views of "Oriental Despotism" see: Perry Anderson, Lineage of the Absolutist State, p.462-549; Karl A. Wittfogel, Oriental Despotism: A Comparative Study of Total Power (New York: Vantage Books, 1981); Mariam Sawer, Marxism and the Question of the Asiatic Mode of Production (The Hague: Nijhoff, 1977); Stephen P. Dunn, The Fall and Rise of the Asiatic Mode of Production (London: Rotledge and Kegan Paul, 1982); Lawrence Krader, The Asiatic Mode of Production: Source, Development, and Critique in the Writing of Karl Marx (Assem: Van Gorcum, 1974).

[48] Guity Nashat, The Origins of Modern Reform in Iran, 1870-80 (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1982).

[49] Chakrabarty, “Postcoloniality and the Artifice of History,” 17.  See also, Meagan Morris, “Metamorphoses at Sydney Tower,” New Formations 11 (Summer 1990), 10.

[50] Morris, “Metamorphoses at Sydney Tower,” 10; cited in Chakrabarty, “Postcoloniality and the Artifice of History,” 17.

[51] Mangol Bayat, Iran’s First Revolution: Shi‘ism and the Constitutional Revolution of 1905-1909 (Oxford: Oxfored University Press, 1991), 36

[52]‘Ali Quli Mirza I‘tizad al-Saltanah, Falak al-Sa‘adah (Tehran: Dar al-Taba‘ah-’i Aqa Mir Muhammad Tihrani, 1278/1861).

[53] Bayat, Iran’s First Revolution, 37.

[54] Elie Kdourie, Afghani and Abduh: An Essay on Religious Unbelief and Political Activism in Modern Islam (London: Cass, 1966), 44-45; Nikki Keddie, Sayyid Jamal al-Din “al-Afghani”: A Political Biography (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1972), 197-99; Jamshid Bihnam, Iraniyan va Andishah-’i Tajaddud (Tehran: Farzan Ruz, 1375/1996), 32-34; Alireza Manafzadeh, “Nukhustin Matn-i Falsafah-’i Jadid-i Gharbi bah Zaban-i Farsi,” Iran Nameh 9:1 (Winter 1991), 98-108.

[55] Faraydun Adamiyat, Andishah-’i Tarraqi va Hukumat-i Qanun: ‘Asr-i Sipahsalar (Tehran: Khwarazmi, 1351/1972), 17.

[56] Adamiyat, Andishah-’i Tarraqi va Hukumat-i Qanun, 18.

[57] On Gobineau’s anti-semitism see Peter Pulzer, The rise of political anti-Semitism in Germany and  Austria (New York, Wiley [1964]).

[58] Comte de Gobineau, Religions et philosophies dans l‘Asie centrale (1979), 98, 110-114; idem, Toris ans en Asie, Voyage en Persian (1980), 322-323, 330-336.

[59] Kamran Arjomand, “The Emergence of Scientific Modernity in Iran: Controversies Surrounding Astrology and Modern Astronomy in Mid-Nineteenth Century,” Iranian Studies 30:1-2 (Winter/Spring 1997), 15.

[60] Arjomand, “The Emergence of Scientific Modernity in Iran, 5-24;

[61] Bayat, Iran’s First Revolution, 37

[62] Arjomand, “Emergence of Scientific Modernity,” 17.

[63] According to Edward Said “Orientalism is a style of thought based upon an ontological and epistemological distinction made between ‘the Orient’ and (most of the time) ‘the Occident.’ Thus a very large mass of writers . . . have accepted the basic distinction between East and West as the starting point for elaborate theories, epics, novels, social descriptions, and political accounts concerning the Orient, its people, ‘mind’, destiny, and so on.”  See his Orientalism, 2-3.

[64] Reevaluating the depiction of the Qajar period a an epoch of decadence, A. Bausani argued that “[t]he Qajar period suffered especially from sharp criticism levelled against it by two trends, very important in the West, Baha’i cirticism and Pahlavi criticism.”  See his “The Qajar Period: An Epoch of Decadence?” in Qajar Iran: Political, Social, and Cultural Changes, 1800-1925, ed. Edmond Bosworth and Carloe Hillenbrand (Costa Mesa, CA: Mazda Publishers, 1992), 255-260, quote on 256.

[65] Writing about the Post World War II developments in the Middle East, Said observed, “despite its failures, its lamentable jargon, its scarcely concealed racism, its paper-thin intellectual apparatus, Orientalism flourishes today in the forms I have tried to describe.  Indeed, there is some reason for alarm in the fact that its influence has spread to ‘the Orient’ itself: the pages of books and journals in Arabic (and doubtless in Japanese, various Indian dialects, and other Oriental languages) are filled with second-order analyses by Arabs of ‘the Arab mind’, ‘Islam’, and other myths.”  See Edward Said, Orientalism, 322.

[66] Elaborating the function of intellectuals in self-Orientalizing, Said wrote, “Its role has been prescribed and set for it as a ‘modernizing’ one, which means that it gives legitimacy and authority to ideas about modernization, progress, and culture that it receives from the United States for the most part.  Impressive evidence for this is found in the social sciences and surprisingly enough, among radical intellectuals whose Marxism is taken wholesale from Marx’s own homogenizing view of the Third world . . . So if all told there is an intellectual acquiescence in the image and doctrines of Orientalism, there is also a very powerful reinforcement of this in economic, political, and social exchanges: the modern Orient, in short, participates in its own Orientalizing.” Said, Orientalism, 325.

[67] Michel Foucault, “What is Enlightenment,” in Ethics: Subjectivity and Truth, ed. Paul Rabinow (New York: New Press, 1994), 303-319; quote on 312.

[68] Michel Foucault, “What is Enlightenment,” in Ethics, Subjectivity, and Truth, trans. Robert Hurley and others (New Yiork: The New Press, 1994), 303-319; quotes on 309-10.

[69] Mahdi Ikhwan Salis, “Akhir-i Shahnamah” in Akhir-i Shahnamah (8th edition; Tehran: Intisharat-i Murvarid, 1363 [1984]), 79-86, quote on 85.

[70] “Anjuman-i Ma‘arif,” Miftah al-Zaffar 2:12 (22 March 1899), 182-183.

[71] Francois Bernier, Travels in the Mogul Empire AD 1656-1668, trans. Archibald Constable, revised by Vincent Smith (Reprint; New Delhi: Atlantic Publishers & Distributers, 1989), 324-325. Danishmand Khan, also known as Muhammad Shafi‘ was born in Iran and went to Surat, India, in 1646.  Shah Jahan appointed him as a Bakhshi (military paymaster) and granted him the title of Danishmand Khan.  Alamgir appointed him as Governor of Shah Jahan Abad or New Delhi, where he died in 1670.  William Harvey was a lecturer at the Royal College of Physicians and discovered the circulation of blood.  Jean Pecquet was born in Dieppe, France, and discovered the conversion of chyle into blood.

[72] Raymond Schwab, The Oriental Renaissance: Europe’s Rediscovery of India and the East, 1680-1880, trans. Gene Patterson-Black and Victor Reinking (New York: Columbia University Press, 1984), 142-146.

[73] Bernier, Travels in the Mogul Empire AD 1656-1668, 324-325.

[74] Bernier, Travels in the Mogul Empire AD 1656-1668, 352-353.

[75] Shahnavaz Khan, Ma’asir al-Umara, 2: 32.

[76] Shahnavaz Khan, Ma’asir al-Umara, 2: 30-32; quote on 32.

[77] Francois Bernier to M. Caron (10 March 1663) in Francois Martin, Francois Martin Mémoires: Travels to Africa, Persian & India, trans. Aniruddha Ray (Calcutta: Subarnarekha, 1990), 546-566; quote on 548.

[78] This Persian translation of the Upanishads was rendered into French and Latin by Anquetil-Duperron in 1801-2.

[79] Martin, Francois Martin Mémoires, 441-442.

[80] Pietro della Valle, Viaggi di Pietro della Valle (Brighton, 1843), 326-28; cited in Arjomand, “Emergence of Scientific Modernity,” p. 7.

[81]On the Zij-i Muhammad Shahi see: William Hunter, "Some Account of the astronomical labours of Jaha Sinha, Raja of Ambhere, or Jayanagar," Asiatic Society 5 (1799), 177-210.  This article includes the preface of the Zij and its English translation.  Also see: G. R. Kaye, The Astronomical Observatories of Jai Singh (Calcutta: Archaeological Survey of India, 1918); Eric Forbes, "The European Astronomical Tradition: Its Transmission into India, and its Reception by Sawai Jai Singh II," Indian Journal of History of Science 17:2 (1982), 234-243; Virendra Nath Sharma, "Jai Singh, His European Astronomers and its Copernican Revolution," Indian Journal of History of Science 18:1 (1982), 333-344; Raymond Mercier, “The Astronimical Tables of Rajah Jai Singh Sawa‘i,” Indian Journal of History of Science 19 (1984), 143-171; S. A. Khan Ghori, "Development of Zîj Literature in India," in History of Astronomy in India, ed. by S. N. Sen and K. S. Shukla (Dew Delhi: Indian National Science Academy, 1985), 20-47.

[82] Phillipe de La Hire (1460-1718), Tabulae astronomicae Ludovici Magni jussu et munificentia exaratae et in lucem editae. Adjecta sunt descriptio, constructio & usus instrumentorum astronomiae novae practicae inservientium, variaque problemata astronomis geographisque perutilia. Ad meridianum observatorii regii Parisiensis in quohabitae sunt observationes ab ipso autore Philippo de La Hire (Parisiis, Apud Joannem Boudot, 1702).  This was oringinally published in 1687.

[83] Muhammad ‘Ali Mubashshir Khan, Manahij al-Istikhraj (Unpublished manuscript: Kitabkhanah-’i Astan-i Quds-i Razavi, #12302).  On the influence of De La Hire see, Virendra Nath Sharma, "Zïj Muhammad Shahi and the Tables of De La Hire," Indian Journal of History of Science 25:1-4 (1990), 36-41.

[84] Many copies of Zij-i Muhammad Shahi are available in Iranian libraries.  On of the earliest editions is reported “to be extant” in the library of Madrasah-’i ‘Ali-i Sipahsalar, which was renamed after the 1979 Revolution as Madrasah-’i ‘Ali-i Shahid Mutahhari.  See S. M. Razaullah Ansari, “Introduction of Modern Western Astronomy in India During 18-19 Centuries,” in History of Astronomy in India, eds. S. N. Sen and K. S. Shukla (New Delhi: Indian National Science Academy, 1985), 363-402; quote on 364.  Astan-i Quds-Razavi’s copies are dated 1240/1824 in Yazd and 1242/1826.

[85] ‘Abbas Mazda, “Nufuz-i Sabk-i Urupa’i dar Naqashi-i Iran” Payam-i Nau 2:10 (1325 [1946]), 59-72, particularly 61; Ardakani, Tarikh-i Mu‘assasat, 1: 234.  The claim of Muhammad Zamman’s travel to Europe is refuted by the Russian Orientalists Igor Akimushkin.  See Abolala Soudavar, “European and Indian Influences,” in Art of the Perian Courts: Selections from the Art and History Trust Collection (New York: Rizzoli International Publications, 1992), pp 365-379, particularly f.n. #16, p. 379.  For a critical evaluation of the controversy over Muhammad Zaman’s career see, A. A. Ivanov, Nadirah-’i Dawran Muhammad Zaman,” in Davazdah Rukh: Yadnigari az Dawazdah Naqash-i Nadirahkar-i Iran, trans. Ya‘qub Azhand (Tehran: Intisharat-i Mawla, 1377/19998), 313-328.

[86]Mir ‘Abd al-Latif Shushtari, Tuhfat al-‘Alam va Zayl al-Tuhfah, ed. Samad Muvahhid (Reprint; Tehran: Tahuri, 1363), pp. 363-367.  See also: "An Account of the Life and Character of Tofuzel Hussein Khan, the Vakeel, or Ambassador, of the Nabob Vizier Assof-Ud-Dowlah, at Calcutta, During the Government of Marquis Cornwallis," The Asiatic Annual Register, or, A View of the History of Hindustan, and of the Politics, Commerce and Literature of Asia for the Year 1803 (London: Cadell and Davies, 1804), Characters, p. 1-8, quote in p. 1.

[87]"An Account of the Life and Character of Tofuzel Hussein Khan," Section on Characters, p. 1.

[88]Quoted in "An Account of the Life and Character of Tofuzel Hussein Khan, Section on Characters," Section on Characters, 1.

[89] Spelled as Tofuzzel Hussein in the original.

[90]"An Account of the Life and Character of Tofuzel Hussein Khan," Section on Characters, 1.

[91]Ruben Burrows was supposed to write "notes and explanations" to Tafazzul Husayn Khan’s translation of Newton's Principia.  According to the Asiatic Annual Register, "The translation was finished, but it has not been printed; and we believe Mr. Burros never added the annotations he mentions." See "An Account of the Life and Character of Tofuzel Hussein Khan," Section of Characters, 7.  Mir ‘Abd al-Latif Shushtari noted that Tafazzul Husayn Khan aquired his knowledge of European philosophy (hikamiyat-i farang) from Mr. Burrows. (Tuhfat al-‘§lam, 371)  On Ruben Burrows see Asiatic Researches 2 (1790), 489. 

[92]Tafazzul Husayn Khan, who "wrote the Persian language with uncommon elegance,"  had been appointed by Hastings to accompany David Anderson to Mahajee Scindiah.  According to David Anderson, Husayn Khan learned English from "my brother, Mr. Blaine . . . " and European mathematics and astronomy "from his communication with the learned Mr. Broome." In 1792, upon a friend's request, Anderson had asked Tafazzul Husayn Khan to inquire about "the ancient astronomy of the Hindus." All quotes are from a letter by David Anderson published in "An Account of the Life and Character of Tofuzel Hussein Khan," Section of Characters, 2-3.

[93]"An Account of the Life and Character of Tofuzel Hussein Khan," Section on Characters, 8.

[94]"An Account of the Life and Character of Tofuzel Hussein Khan," Section of Characters, 8.

[95]For Husayn Khan's acquaintance with William Jones and Richard Johnson see: "An Account of the Life and Character of Tofuzel Hussein Khan," Section on Characters, 4.

[96] According to Juan Cole, Shushtari “emigrated to Hyderabad around 1790 and during that decade took notes on which he based his Tuhfat al-‘Alam (Gift to the World), written in 1800-1801.”  See his “Invisible Occidentalism: Eighteenth-Century Indo-Persian Construction of the West,” Iranian Studies 25:3-4 (1992), 3-16; quote on 6.  But Shushtari himself notes that he he boarded a British ship on 14 Shavval 1202/July 1788 from Basrah.  His stay in Decan lasted no more than five days.  Shushtari reports that he reached Calcutta on 9 Muharram 1203/October 10, 1788.   He visited Hyderabad  on 24 Zihajjah 1214/April 1799 and remaind there for only one and half years.  See Shushtari, Tuhfat al-‘Alam, respectively 234, 237, and 453.

[97] Shushtari, Tuhfat al-‘Alam, 252.

[98] Shushtari, Tuhfat al-‘Alam, 255.

[99] Shushtari, Tuhfat al-‘Alam, pp. 36-40, 299-315.

[100] Shushtari, Tuhfat al-‘Alam, 36.

[101] Shushtari, Tuhfat al-‘Alam, pp. 36-40, particularly 38.

[102] Shushtari, Tuhfat al-‘Alam, respectively 303 and 307.  For an alternative interpretation of this passage see Cole, “Invisible Occidentalism,” 11-12.   As it relates to the state of astronomical knowledge, Shushtari mentioned meeting the ninety-year-old Mir Masih Allah Shahjahanabadi who resided in Murshidabad and had spent most of his life mastering astronomy.  He reports studying Zij Muhammad Shahi, the observations of Chayt Singh, and other astronomical texts which were in the possession of Mir Masih.  It would be important to locate the works these two scholars.  See Shushtari, Tuhfat al-‘Alam, 374.

[103] Vaqyi‘ Nigar, Qava‘id al-Muluk (Kitabkhanah-’i Milli-i Iran, manuscript #F/1757).  Among other writings of Vaqayi‘ Nigar are:  Tarikh-i Jahan Ara (1225/1810), Zinat al-Madayih, Tuhfah-’i ‘Abbasi, and Zinat al-Ma‘asir.  See I‘tizad al-Saltanah, Iksir al-Tavarikh, ed. Jamshid Kiyanfarr (Tehran: Visman, 1981), 274-277; Yahya Aryanpur, Az Saba ta Nima: Tarikh-i 150 Sal Adab-i Farsi (Tehran Kitabha-yi Jibi, 1351/1972), 1:75-77.

[104] See I‘tizad al-Saltanah’s biographical note on Vagayi‘nigar in his Iksir al-Tavarikh, 274-277.  I‘tizad al-Saltanah’s description is the basis for Aryanpur’s entry on Vaqayi’nigar.  See Aryanpur, Az Saba ta Nima, 1:75-77.

[105]Aqa Ahmad Bihbahani Kirmanshahi, Mir‘at al-Ahval-i Jahan Nama, ed. ‘Ali Davani (Tehran: Intisharat-i Markaz-i Asnad-i Inqilab-i Islami, 1375 [1996]), 392.

[106] Bihbahani Kirmanshahi, Mir‘at al-Ahval-i Jahan Nama, 392.  For a different rendering see Cole, “Invisible Occidentalism,” 11.

[107]Bihbahani Kirmanshahi,  Mir‘at al-Ahval-i Jahan Nama, 392.

[108] For instance Kamaran Arjomand claims that “in the second half of the nineteenth century there were serious efforts to defend traditional Islamic cosmology against modern European astronomy.” See his “The Emergence of Modern Scientific Modernity in Iran: Controversies Surrounding Astrology and Modern Astronomy in the Mid-Nineteenth Century,” Iranian Studies 30:1-2 (Winter/Spring 1997), 5-24, quote on 10.  Muslim scholars like Aqa Ahmad Bihbahani Kirmanshahi were much more receptive to modern scientific theories than it is suggested by the mythical binary opposition between “Islamic cosmology and modern European astronomy.”

[109]Mawlavi Abu al-Khayr b. Maulavi Ghiyas al-Din, Majmu‘ah-i Shamsi: mushtamil-i bar masa’il-i ‘ilm-i hay’at mutabiq-i tahqiqat-i ‘ulama-yi muta’akhirin-i Farang (Calcutta: Hindoostani Press, 1222/1807). In the introduction Mawlavi Abu al-Khayr notes that Majmu‘ah-’i Shamsi is based on English language sources, which he translated with the encouragement and assistance of Dr. William Hunter (1718-83).  Majmu‘ah Shamsi bears the following note in English: “A Concise View of the Copernican System of Astronomy.  By Mouluwee Ubool Khuer.  Under the superintendence of W. Hunter, M. D. Calcutta.  Printed by T. Hubbard at the Hindoostanee Press, 1807.”

[110] Writing about the status of modern science, particularly astronomy, in Iran, John Malcolm observed, “Efforts have recently been made to convey better information to them upon this important branch of human sciences.  An abstract of the Copernican system, and the proofs which the labours of Newton have afforded of its truth, have been translated into Persian; and several individuals of that nation have laboured to acquire this noble but abstruse subject . . .”  Macolm then added, “but it is not probable that these rays of light will soon dissipate the cloud of darkness in which a prejudiced and superstitious nation have been for centuries involved.”  See Sir John Malcolm, The History of Persia, 2: 5536-537.        

[111] Mawlavi Abu al-Khayr, Majmu‘ah-i Shamsi, 2.

[112] William Hunter, “Account of the Astronomical Labours of Jaya Sinha, Rajah of Ambhere, or Jayanagar,” Asiatic Researches Or Transactions of the Society Instituted in Bengal 5 (1799), 177-211.

[113] Other texts on modern sciences, particularly astronomy, include Muhammad Isma‘il Landani’s Tashil al-adrak fi sharh al-aflak, available at Dar al-‘Ulum Nadwat al-‘Ulama, radif 3, no. 4; Muhammad Ayyub’s Risalah dar ‘Ilm-i Nujum (1801/1216), avaiable at the Khuda Bakhsh Oreintal Public Library, (Acc. 334); Sayyid Ahmad ‘Ali’s Muqaddamat-i ‘Ilm-i Hay’at (Calcutta: n.p., n.d.), and Rathan Singh Zakhmi Lakhnavi’s Hadayiq al-Nujum (1838).

[114]Muhammad Rafi‘ al-Din Khan ‘Umdat al-Mulk, Rafi‘ al-Basar (Calcutta: C. V. William Press, 1841).

[115] On Henry Martyn see, G. Smith, Henry Martyn (1829); C. E. Padwick, Henry Martyn Confessor of the Faith (1925); John Sargent, Memoir of the Rev. Henry Martyn (London, 1819).  Also see, Hanry Martyn, Journals and Letters. For a learned  discussion of Martyn in Persian see: ‘Abd al-Hadi Ha’iri, Nukhustin Ruyaruyiha-yi Andishahgaran-i Iran ba Du Ruyah-’i Tamaddun-i Burzhuvazi-i Gharb (Tehran: Amir Kabir, 1367), 507-545.

[116] For Martyn’s Persian translation of The New Testament see: Kitab al-Muqaddas va Huwa Kutub-i al-‘Ahd-i al-Jadid-i Khudavand va Rahanandah-’i Ma ‘Isa-’i Masih =The New Testament of Our Lord Saviour Jesus Christ (London: The British and Foreign Bible Society, 1876).

[117] Afzal-ul-Ulama Muhammad Yousuf Kokan, Arabic and Persian in Carnatic, 1710-1960 (Madras: Hafiza House, 1974), 340-344.

[118] Kokan, Arabic and Persian in Carnatic, 1710-1960, 345-348.

[119] James B. Fraser, Narrative of a Journey into Khorasan in the years 1821 and 1822 including Some Account of the Countries to the North-East of Persia; with Remarks Upon the National Character, Government, and Resources of that Kingdom (London: Longman, 1825), 152-153.

[120] Fraser, Narrative of a Journey into Khorasan, 482.  Concerning his conversation with the Amirzadah, Fraser wrote, “The subject of astronomy was very soon brought forward, and the ameerzadeh’s questions were numerous and curious: he inquired into, and appeared readily to comprehend the uses of my instruments; and he explained to me his own opinions of the motions of the heavenly bodies.  He believed that the earth performs two motions, one round the sun, the other round its own axis; but he could not account for the change of seasons without the intervention of another movement, which he could not explain in a very intelligible manner, nor could I learn from whence he had adopted his theory; he said he had been led to it from the result of his observations with the telescope; but it is difficult to conceive how any observations, in his power to make, could lead to a conclusion so decided.” See Fraser, Narrative of a Journey into Khorasan, 481.

[121] Fraser, Narrative of a Journey into Khorasan, 484.

[122] Muhammad Qazi b. Kashif al-Din Muhammad Ardakani, Tuhfah-’i Muhammadiyah, Kitabkhanah-’i Astan-i Quds-i Razavi, #583.  The manuscript was copied in 1220/1805.

[123] On George Sale’s translation see, William Montgomery Watt, Muslim-Christian Encounters: Perceptions and Misunderstandings (London: Routledge, 1991), 113-114.

[124] Fraser, Narrative of a Journey into Khorasan, 484.

[125] Mirza Abu Talib, Masir Talibi, 146.

[126]Mirza Salih Shirazi, Guzarish-i Safar, p. 356.  Mirza Salih was also familiar with views of William Harvey (1578-1657) on the circulation of blood. (Guzarish, p. 247).

[127] For instance see, Buzurg ‘Alavi, “Crtical Writings on the Renewal of Iran,” in Qajar Iran: Political, Social, and Cultural Changes, 1800-1925, ed. Edmond Bosworth and Carloe Hillenbrand (Costa Mesa, CA: Mazda Publishers, 1992), 243-254, quote on 253.

[128] For an evaluation of similarities between Bayat’s Iran’s First Revolution and Kirmani’s Tarikh-i Bidari-i Iranian see my review in International Journal of Middle Eastern Studies (February 1997).

[129] Writing on eighteenth-century Bengal, Richard Eaton has also observed, “Two stereotypes--one by students of Indian history, the other held by students of Islam--have conspired greatly to obscure our understanding of Islam in Bengal, and especially of the growth of a Muslim peasant community there.  The first of these is the notion of eighteenth-century Mughal India as a period hopelessly mired in decline, disorder, chaos, and collapse.”  See his “The Growth of Muslim Identity in Eighteenth-Century Bengal,” in Eighteenth-Century Renewal and Reform in Islam, eds. Nehemiah Levtzion and John Voll (Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 1987), 161-185; quote on 161.

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