One Word - Yak Kaleme
One Word - Yak Kaleme
19th Century Persian Treatise Introducing Western Codified Law
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15.6 x 23.4 cm
Asian Studies
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The Essence of Modernity
One word
Index of the references to the Quran
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Reviews and Features

“This clear, well-expressed English translation will provide many new readers with the opportunity to judge the issues for themselves.” Vanessa Martin, Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies (2008), Cambridge University Press

One Word - Yak Kaleme

19th Century Persian Treatise Introducing Western Codified Law

One Word - Yak Kaleme was one of the first treatises in the Middle East to demonstrate that Islam is compatible with the introduction of modern western forms of government, and specifically that the principles of the sharia can be incorporated in a codified law comparable to that found in European countries. This was a daring argument in the late 19th century, when it was extremely difficult to convince the rulers and religious class that a civil code of law was needed: would it not diminish the status of the ruler, and would it not be an admission that the religious law, the sharia, was deficient?

The author, Mirza Yu¯suf Kha¯n Mustashar al-Dawla (d. 1895), was a liberal-minded bureaucrat campaigning for reform of the absolutist system and the creation of one based on European principles of government. He held several posts abroad including St Petersburg (1854-62), and Paris (1867-71), as well as carrying out administrative duties in Iran itself.

In One Word he argues that the principles underlying constitutional government can be found in Islamic sources, particularly in the Quran and traditions of the Prophet. Unlike some Oriental travellers to Europe at that time, he observed that European dominance was not derived from a few technological advances, but primarily from the organisation of society, on the basis of codified law. One Word was a significant text in the lead-up to the Iranian Constitutional Revolution of 1906, but its message is relevant today.
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Sen McGlinn

S. McGlinn is an independent scholar who writes and translates in the fields of Bahai studies, Iranian studies and Islamic studies.

Asghar Seyed-Gohrab

Asghar Seyed-Gohrab is Professor of Iranian and Persian Studies at Utrecht University in the Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies, and member of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW). He has published extensively on Persian literature, mysticism and religion. His publications range from Persian poetry to Sufism and the role of religious and mystical motifs and metaphors in Iran-Iraq war (1980-1988) and how peaceful religious injunctions are used to justify violence. Currently, he is the Principal Investigator (PI) of an ERC-Advanced Grant entitled Beyond Sharia: The Role of Sufism in Shaping Islam (, examining Islamic non-conformist movements.

Faustina Doufikar-Aerts

Faustina Doufikar-Aerts is researcher at the Leiden School of Middle Eastern Studies.