Remembering Seyyed Hasan Taqizadeh

Taqizadeh is a familiar figure for those Iranologists who have read E. G. Browne's The Persian Revolution of 1905-1909. He was not only a leader of Iran's constitutional movement but a first-rate scholar and student of Iran's culture and civilization. Born and raised in his native Azerbaijan, he never abandoned his ethnic roots even after becoming a prominent national figure on the Iranian political stage.  I was a doctoral student in London University's School of Oriental Studies in late 1930's when he joined its teaching staff. One could not characterize him as a brilliant teacher, but what he lacked in the art of teaching he more than compensated by his unbounded patience, unwavering courtesy and genuine humility. Even the most glaringly ignorant comments or questions would not provoke him or affect his gentle manners. One had to be blessed with an innate curiosity and thirst for learning to be able to fathom his deep and extensive knowledge in both modern and classical Eastern and Islamic Eastern disciplines.

According to Edward G. Browne, who was in almost daily contact with him in 1908-when he was a temporary member of the library of Cambridge University- Taqizadeh was remarkable for his "honesty, truthfulness, objectivity and courage." His fearless activities in the course of the Iran's constitutional movement, his defiant stance against his foes and his continued perseverance in the face of imminent danger were all testimony to the strength of his character.

In the latter part of his life, perhaps scarred by some of his political battles and bitter experiences, he had become somewhat withdrawn. He spoke sparingly and never talked about matters he considered insignificant. Most importantly he avoided political discussions and preferred to become engaged in academic or scholarly conversations. What has remained vividly etched in my memory is my recollection of Taqizadeh as a modest, quiet and compassionate man with a highly trained scientific mind. 

Anne K S Lambton
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