History 606

San Francisco State University


History 606: History of Iran and Afghanistan 1500-Present

Instructor: Dr. Maziar Behrooz

Telephone: (415) 338-1776

E-mail: mroozbeh@sfsu.edu

Home Page: http://online.sfsu.edu/mroozbeh/



Course Description: This course is a historical study of Iran and Afghanistan from the rise of the Safavid Empire in 1501 C.E. to the present.  The course begins with a historical background on the Iranian and Perso-Islamic cultural presence in the eastern half of the Islamic world and the geographic area known as Iranian plateau.  Then, the Safavid Empire's history and rise of Shi’ism in the region plus Safavid politics and society will be examined.  Next, Iran in the eighteenth and the nineteenth centuries and the birth of Afghanistan as a separate entity will be covered.  Here Iranian and Afghan societies will be examined in light of disruption, colonial subjugation, reform and rebellion under the Afshars, the Zands and the Qajars and Dorrani shah’s in Afghanistan.  The final part of the course will examine Iran and Afghanistan in the twentieth century.  Subjects such as the two Iranian revolutions in the twentieth century, the Oil Nationalization Movement, the Iranian Communist movement and the rise of political Islam as well as Afghanistan’s reforms, Soviet invasion, civil war and the rise of Taliban will be the main focus of this part.



Fall 2017: MW 2:10-3:25 HSS 362

Office Hours: Science 223, MW 10-11 or by appointment.


Course Outline:


Week 1: August 23

Iran in the 1400s century: what is Persia and where is Iran? Islam, Shi'ism, Sufism; nomadic way of life; Timur and Timurids; nomadic confederations in 1400s: Qara Quyunlu and Aq Quyunlu; Early Safavid State under Shahs Isma’il and Tahmasp; the Safavid Sufi Order and the Qizilbash.

Read: Reserve: Shahabi, “Roots of Shi’ism;” Savory, "The Consolidation of Safawid Power in Persia;" "The Sherley Myth;" Gholsorkhi, "Pri Khan Khanum."


Week 2: August 28-30

The Safavid Empire: the crisis of Safavid state after Tahmasp; Abbas the Great and his reforms; state, society and religion under the Safavids.

Read: Reserve: "The Safawid Empire at the Height;" & “The Safavid Synthesis”


Week 3: September 4-6 (No Class on Sep.4-Labor Day)

Iran in the 1700s: collapse of the Safavid Empire; Afshars and Zands; unification under the Qajars Emergence of early Afghan state.

Read: Keddie, Modern Iran pp.1-37 & Ewans, Afghanistan pp.1-32

Reserve: Tucker, "Nadir Shah;” Abrahamian, "European Feudalism and Middle Eastern Despotism;"


Week 4: September 11-13

Iran in the 1800s: oriental despotism; early Qajar state; military defeat and its consequences; reforms of Prince Abbas Mirza and Amir Kabir; the Babi Movement; state of Shi'i religious establishment.

Read: Keddie pp. 37-58 & Reserve: Lorentz, "Iran's Great Reformer;" Amanat, "Qurrat al-`Ayn;”



Week 5: September 18-20

Late Qajar state: Iran and European economic domination; reforms of late 19th century; "al-Afghani"; the Tobacco protest; Afghanistan in the 19th century.

Read: Keddie, pp. 58-73; Nezam-Mafi, “Qajar Iran”;  Ewans, 32-80, & Reserve: Moussavi, "The Establishment of Position."


Week 6: September 25-27

Mid-term Exam I: Wednesday September 27


Iran in the 20th century: the Constitutional Revolution of 1906; civil war of 1908-1909; intellectuals and ulama; Iran and WWI.

Read: Reserve: Abrahamian, “The Causes of the Constitutional Revolution in Iran”


Week 7: October 2-4

Iran after WWI; Anglo-Iranian agreement of 1919; the 1921 coup and fall of the Qajars; Reza khan and the Pahlavi dynasty; Iran under Reza Shah; Communist Party of Iran; Afghanistan: Reforms of Amir Amanallah Khan.

Read: Keddie, pp. 73-105; Ewans, pp. 80-99; Zia-Ebrahimi “Uses and Abuses”


Week 8: October 9-11

Iran and WW2; fall of Reza Shah; return of parliamentary "democracy"; Tudeh Party and Soviet politics; Oil Nationalization Movement; Mosaddeq and the National Front.

Read: Keddie, pp. 105- 132 & Reserve: Gasiorowski, “The 1953 Coup”


Week 9: October 16-18

The 1953 Coup and emergence of shah's dictatorship; consolidation of power and reform: "White Revolution" and the 1963 uprising.

Read: Reserve: Behrooz, “Tudeh Factionalism” ; Matin Asgari, “The Pahlavi Era”


Week 10: October 23-25

Shah's reforms: politics of uneven development; 1970s and its boom and bust economy; Iran before revolution; Afghanistan under Zaher Shah.

Read: Keddie, pp. 132-148; Ewans, pp.99-128 & Keddie, "The Roots of Ulama Power in Iran."


Week 11: October 30-November 1


Mid-term Exam II: November 1


The religious opposition: Shi'i theology and state power; Mojahedin and Ali Shari'ati; Khomeini and the ulama.

Read: Keddie, pp.148-214 & Reserve: Dabashi, "Ayatollah Khomeini."; Abrahamian, “Shariati”


Week 12: November 6-8

The secular opposition: the communist movement; the guerrilla movement; the nationalists and secular intellectuals; Coup and Republic in Afghanistan.

Read: Keddie, pp.214-240; Ewans, pp.128-138 & Reserve: Behrooz, "Iran's Fadayan";


Week 13: November 13-15

The 1979 Revolution: why has Iran been revolutionary?; the upheaval; collapse of the imperial regime; consolidation of the Islamic Republic; American hostages; the Iran Iraq War; June 1981 crisis; Afghanistan under Soviet occupation.

Read: Keddie, pp.240-263 & Reserve: Bakhash, “Iran;” Bradsher, “Daoud’s Rapublic” & “Royalists and Communists” & “The Sour Revolution”


Week 14: November 20-22 (Fall Recess: no classes)


Week 15: November 27-29

Iran after Khomeini: relations with the US; an age of reconstruction; revolutionary Islam; Iran as a regional power; Afghanistan: from collapse of communism to the reign of Taliban

Read: Keddie, 263-317; Ewans, pp.171-210 & Reserve: "Sea of Lies;" Behrooz, "The Islamic State" & “Iran after Revolution”; Paidar, “”Women and the Political Transformation;” Bradsher, “Amin’s Hundred Days”; Gohari, “The Taliban’s Islamic Theology”


Week 16: December 4-6 &  Monday11

Finishing remaining lectures and open class discussion (time permitting).





Ewans, Martin. Afghanistan: a Short History

Keddie, Nikki. Modern Iran: Roots and Results of Revolution

Hosseini, Khaled. The Kite Runner


Additional reading material will be provided by instructor.


There will be two mid-term exams (25% each) and a final exam (50%).  The mid-term exams will be taken in class, will be essay questions, and students will have options. 


Final exam will be take-home and has to be 10 to 15 pages long, typed and double space with proper citation from assigned reading material.  Your exams will be based on the required readings and class lectures. All papers must have proper citation from reading material.


Note:  Class attendance is essential in receiving the desired grade in this course. 


Extra Credit: You may write a review of The Kite Runner (1000 words) for 7 points credit toward your final grade.


Final exam and Extra Credit are due by noon December 19 (exam instructions will be emailed to students).


Important: Do not miss any exams unless you have a very good reason and have prearranged everything with me. 



Academic Senate policy #S07-244 requires that the following statement be included on the syllabus: “Students with disabilities who need reasonable accommodations are encouraged to contact the instructor.  The Disability Programs and Resource Center (DPRC) is available to facilitate the reasonable accommodations process.  The DPRC is located in the Student Service Building and can be reached by telephone (voice/TTY 415-338-2472) or by email dprc@sfsu.edu).”


Academic Senate policy #F14-257 requires that the following statement be included on the syllabus: “SF State fosters a campus free of sexual violence including sexual harassment, domestic violence, dating violence, stalking, and/or any form of sex or gender discrimination. If you disclose a personal experience as an SF State student, the course instructor is required to notify the Dean of Students. To disclose any such violence confidentially, contact:  The SAFE Place - (415) 338-2208; http://www.sfsu.edu/~safe_plc/  Counseling and Psychological Services Center - (415) 338-2208; http://psyservs.sfsu.edu/ For more information on your rights and available resources: http://titleix.sfsu.edu



Study Questions:

How had Shi'ism been institutionalized in Safavid Iran by the 17th century?

Discuss unification of Iran under Shah Isma’il.  What was the outlook of early Sfafavid state? How did it function? Provide examples.

What were the consequences of the battle of Chalderan in 1514 for the early Safavid state?

Discuss, and analyze the Safavid state (including its political, administrative, military, cultural, and religious institutions) under Shah Abbas.

What were the consequences of the reform of Shah Abbas?


What was the state of Shi'i ulama establishment in Qajar Iran in relation to reforms, the Qajar court and the population at large?

Discuss the state of reforms in nineteenth century Qajar Iran.  Provide examples of different stages of reforms and the reformers and evaluate their success.

Based on lecturers and course readings, how do you explain Iran's 1906-1909 Constitutional revolution?  Discuss the forces that provided the movement's leadership, what were their goals, what were the revolution's causes?

Reza Shah Pahlavi initiated a number of modernizing reforms in Iran.  After providing a background, discuss his reforms.  What did he try accomplish to and how successful was he?

Discuss the reforms of Amir Amanullah.  What is your assessment the reforms? Why did it fail and what kind of impact did it have on Afghan society.


How do you explain the toppling of the nationalist government of Dr. Musaddeq in Iran?  What was the significance of the oil nationalization movement in Iran?

Discuss and analyze the 1953 Coup in Iran.  What where the main issues and who were its key actors?  Why was it successful and what were the consequences of its success.

How do you explain Iran's 1979 revolution?  What were its causes, describe the forces that participated in it, who provided the movement its leadership, and why was it successful in such a brief period?

Taliban’s rise to power from 1994 onward would not have been possible had Afghanistan not descended into chaos following the collapse of the communist regime in 1992.  Who were the Taliban? Discuss the historical context within which they came to power.  How successful was the movement?

Additional reading material: Will be emailed to you