Monday, March 2, 2015

Muslims had satire years before Charlie Hebdo

Molla Nasraddin was an eight-page Azerbaijani satirical periodical published in Tiflis (from 1906 to 1917). The magazine was “read across the Muslim world from Morocco to Iran.” It was edited by the writer Jalil Mammadguluzadeh (1866-1932), and named after Nasreddin, the legendary Sufi wise man-cum-fool of the Middle Ages. Wikipedia

The Azerbaijani weekly magazine Molla Nasreddin was revolutionary for its time, bravely ridiculing clerics and criticising the political elite as well as the Russian Tsar and the Shah of Persia.
Founded in 1906, it pulled no punches in tackling geopolitical events and also promoted women's rights and Westernisation. The magazine's title, Molla Nasreddin, came from the name of the naive but wise mullah, famous throughout the Middle East for his anecdotes.
Mullahs in Persia issued a fatwa calling for Mirza Jalil's death. He was attacked in the Georgian capital, Tbilisi, where the magazine was published, and constantly threatened. The city was then the cultural capital of Russia's South Caucasus.  BBC
This map is from the magazine Molla Nasreddin, an early 20th century satirical magazine from Baku that's gotten a some attention recently.  The caption reads "The States of the Nations of the World in the Twentieth Century." Like much of the magazine's content, it represented an appeal to the Asian, Islamic and colonized peoples of the world to wake up and reform themselves so they could compete with the West. The cartoon shows pair of Indians are pulling a whip-wielding Englishman in a rickshaw,  Greece is doing something to a bent-over Turkey, and China fast asleep. Uncle Sam peaks up over the globe on the right, while a polar bear watches alertly from above. This map turned up on Zerkala, a site that looks like it would be amazing if you knew Russian.
The cartoon describes a child, dogs and other creatures treated as dirt unlike the Koran in people's hand
This 1909 cartoon, Pilgrimage to Hajj, had a pretty clear message


Students enter an "Asian school" and leave as donkeys
Students enter a European school and leave as educated adults
In the top cartoon a boy is born, while below the father responds to the birth of a girl (1909)
This 1929 shows the "English Consul and his wife: in England (L) and in Iran (R)
“Son, hit your mom and I will admire you.”
“A member of the Young Turks leads old clerks and members of the Ottoman Empire’s security apparatus away by a leash.” “Enough!” he tells them. “You’ve ruled us for 32 years.”

“It doesn’t hurt to always bear arms…as it is necessary for both praying and for fighting.” The editors note slyly: “Yet another position upon which fundamentalist Muslims and Evangelical Christians could get together and share best practices.”
The captions for the left and right pages, respectively, are “According to the book, the world of the devil,” and “According to the book, the world of believers.” “With the bicycles, cars, bridges and buildings, the world of the devil is modern and developed,” the editors write. “The world of believers is full of ethereal illusions and idleness.”

“Listen, son, go buy a copy of Molla Nasreddin but don’t tell anyone.” “In a show of bravado,” the editors write, “the illustration demonstrates that despite the religious establishment’s disapproval of Molla Nasreddin, the clerics still read it, if secretly.”

“A biting critique of the role of clerics in the newly formed Iranian Majles (Parliament): the ‘Sina’ (literally: chest) refers to the self-flagellation of the Shi’ite Ashura-Tasua ceremonies.”


"Moslem journalists". Caricature from "Molla Nasraddin" magazine (№ 34, 1910)