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Ayatollah Seyyed Abol-Ghasem Mostafavi Kashani (Persian: آیت‌الله سید ابوالقاسم مصطفوی کاشانی) (born 1882 in Tehran, Iran, died March 14, 1962) was a prominent Twelver Shi'a Muslim cleric and former Parliament Minister of Iran.


Early life

His father, Ayatollah Hajj Seyyed Mostafa Kashani (Persian: آیت‌الله حاج سید مصطفی کاشانی), was a noted clergyman of Shiism in his time. Abol-Ghasem was trained in Shia Islam by his religious parents and began study of the Qur'an soon after learning to read and write.

At 16, Abol-Ghasem went to Islamic seminary to study literature, Arabic language, logic, semantics and speech, as well as the principles of Islamic jurisprudence, or Fiqh. He continued his education at the seminary in an-Najaf in the Qur'an and Hadiths as interpreted in Shia law, receiving his jurisprudence degree when he was 25.

Later life


Personal life

One of Kashani's children, Mahmoud Kashani, was head of the Iranian delegation to the International Court of Justice in The Hague, Netherlands, in Iran's case with the United States and a presidential candidate in the Iranian presidential elections of 1988 and 2005.

Kashani was also a friend and mentor to future Supreme Leader Ruhollah Khomeini[1].

Political life

Abol-Ghasem expressed Anti-capitalist leanings from early on in his career and opposed what he saw as "oppression, despotism and colonization." Because of these beliefs, he was especially popular with the poor in Tehran[2]. He also advocated the return of Islamic government to Iran, though this was most likely for political reasons[3].

Due to nationalist positions, Ayatollah Kashani was arrested and exiled by the British and Soviets. He continued to oppose foreign, especially British, control of Iran's oil industry while in exile. After he returned from exile on 10 June 1950, he continued to protest. Angered by the fact that the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company paid Iran much less than it did the British, he organized a movement against it and was the "virtually alone among the leading mujtahids in joining" nationalist Prime Minister Mohammed Mosaddeq, in his campaign to nationalize the Iranian oil industry in 1951.[4] [5] Kashani served as speaker of the Majles (or lower house of Parliament), during the oil nationalization and 1953 coup.

Political allies against the Shah and the British at first, Kashani and Mossedeq parted ways in 1953 after the emergency powers granted to Mossedeq by the Majlis were extended for 12 months and Mossedeq instituted secular reforms.[6] By withholding his support, Kashani played a crucial role in the success of the 1953 Iranian coup d'état that overthrew Mossedeq. [3] [7][8] [9] Following his break with Mossedeq, he gave support to his former adversary, Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. [8]. and even declared that Mosaddeq deserved to be executed because he had committed the ultimate offense: rebelling against the shah, `betraying` the country, and repeatedly violating the sacred law." [10] He also participated in some anti-British activities in Iraq.

Curiously, despite his assistance in the 1953 coup, Kashani is often portrayed as a victim of the coup, in the Islamic Republic of Iran today on the grounds that the coup was a prime example of American aggression in Iran, and that politically active clergy act as bulwarks of Islam against from Western predation.[11] The hard-line Entekhab newspaper, for example in 2002 anniversary story on the coup asserted the coup was launched `against Mossadegh and also Kashani`[12]

Ayatollah Kashani died in Tehran in 1962, and his death paved the way for Khomeini to gain influence.

See also


  1. ^ Faiz, Rosa. "The Coming Iranian Class Wars"
  2. ^ Dabby, Elias. "The Ayatollah and Me." The Scribe - Journal of Babylonian Jewry. Issue 70, October 1998.
  3. ^ a b Samii, A.W. "Falsafi, Kashani and the Baha'is
  4. ^ MacKay, Sandra, The Iranians, (Plume, 1998) p.198
  5. ^ Abrahamian, Ervand, Khomeinism : essays on the Islamic Republic, University of California Press, c1993. p.107
  6. ^ Abrahamian, Ervand, Iran Between Two Revolutions by Ervand Abrahamian, Princeton University Press, 1982, p.275-6
  7. ^ Donald Wilber. Clandestine Service History, Overthrow of Premier Mossadeq of Iran, November 1952-August 1953
  8. ^ a b Katouzian, Homa (1990). Musaddiq and the Struggle for Power in Iran. I.B. Tauris Publishers. ISBN 1-8606-4290-X.  
  9. ^ Kazemzadeh, Masoud. "The Day Democracy Died." Iranscope. Vol. 3 No. 34
  10. ^ Cited by Y. Richard, `Ayatollah Kashani: Precursor of the Islamic Republic?` in Religion and Politics in Iran, ed. N. Keddie, (Yale University Press, 1983), quoted in Abrahamian, Ervand, Khomeinism : essays on the Islamic Republic, University of California Press, c1993. p.109
  11. ^ Abrahamian, Ervand, Khomeinism : essays on the Islamic Republic, University of California Press, c1993. p.109
  12. ^ Stephen Kinzer, All the Shah's Men : An American Coup and the Roots of Middle East Terror, John Wiley and Sons, 2003, p.224

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