Book Review:

The Oral History of How the Islamic Society of Students Was Formed and Established

Mina Kamaei
Translated by: Zahra Hosseinian

2020-12-01


The Oral History of How the Islamic Society of Students Was Formed and Established, is a collection of interviews, which were conducted by the author, Majide Pournajmi Irangh, with members of the founding board of this society, and has published by the Cultural and Artistic Institute and Publications of the Islamic Revolution Documentation Center in 280 pages in 2017.

Aiming to collect the memories of the students who worked in this Student Organization, the Oral History of the Islamic Society of Students has been compiled. This book seeks to explain why and how the Islamic society of students was formed and also to study its performance.

Pournajmi gets acquainted with the founding board members by reviewing a special issue entitled "How We Became We" written by Dr. Shahab Esfandiari, an active member of the Students' Islamic Society. In March and May 2004, he conducted full interviews with Dr. Nasr Esfahani, Mehdi Fazaeli, Dr. Moradian, Assadollah Badamchian, Ali Sahlani, Amir Hossein Derakhshan, and Morteza Rahimi Yeganeh. In the foreword, the author pointed to some points in relation to the project "The Oral history of How the Islamic Society of Student was formed":

 

1- The interviews were carried out in two periods; the first stage in 2003-2004 and the second stage in 2011-2013.

2- The text of interviews has been reviewed and edited by the interviewees.

3- In compiling the content of the book, more interviews have been used to preserve the citation of its oral history.

4- According to the different narrations of the founding board members about the formation of the Islamic society of students, all the narrations were organized in the related part.

5- The book is organized in four chapters and a special title has been selected for each one.

 

"Popular" is the title of the first chapter, which was chosen due to the popularity of The Office for Strengthening Unity in universities at 1980s. The second chapter, "Birth" deals with a complete oral history of the emergence of the Islamic society of students. "Struggle for Survival", the third chapter, is about the efforts made to maintain the new institution of the Islamic society of students. Finally, the fourth chapter, "Maturity", tells about the flourishing and maturity of the Islamic society of students.

The political situation in the country during the victory of the Islamic Revolution, the general situation of the country's universities in 1980s, student’s idealism, the impact of war and religious atmosphere in universities, the totalitarianism of the Office for Strengthening Unity, the dismissal of opponents from the Office for Strengthening Unity, the closure of the Islamic Republic Party, the formation of first Islamic society of the students, etc. are  dealt with in the first chapter, which covers the years between 1979 to 1987. Ali Sahlani, a founding member of the Islamic Society of Students and an active member of the student branch of the Republican Party, says about the establishment of the Islamic Society of Students: "The Islamic Society of Students was perhaps the third organization to be formed by a number of key members of the student branch of the Islamic Republic Party. Given that the university space was in the hands of the Strengthening Unity, it was very important for the traditional right-wing groups to be present in the universities as an intellectual organization."

The topics of the second chapter, which covers 1988-1990, are: the condition of universities in the last years of Imam's life, the dissolution of the Islamic Republic Party, the stagnation in the activities of the first student Islamic society, the demise of the Imam, the formation of the Islamic student society, compilation of the articles of association, fluidity of the members of the organization, etc. Morteza Rahimi Yeganeh, another member of the Islamic Society of Students, states about the formation of the Islamic Society of Students: "I shared the initial idea to Mr. Emami Kashani and he said: ‘Talk to Mr. Badamchian, because he is of the Republican Party and the organizations.’ And after a conversation with Mr. Badamchian, finally the Islamic Society of Students with the presence of the founding board members was established."

Drafting the articles of association of the Islamic Society of Students is one of the members’ concerns, which was compiled based on the articles of association of the Republican Party and other organizations. "One of the main concerns was that," Mohammad  Nasra Isfahani says in this regard: "it would continue in line with the interest of the founders to maintain the article of association and our whole view to the society and student activity, so these points were fully included in the article of association."

Announcement of official existence, financing of the Islamic Society of Students, 'was the Islamic Society of Students independent?', and the like, are the topics of third chapter, "Struggle for Survival", which covers 1989 to 1995. In the fall of 1989, the members of the founding board agreed on the activities of the Islamic Society of Students and determined to attend universities and sought to officially announce their existence. In December of the same year, this opportunity arose and the members of the founding board of the Islamic Society decided to hold an election meeting at the University of Tehran, in which four candidates were invited to speak and introduce their plans. These meetings led to the introduction of the Islamic society of students.

The fourth chapter, which covers 1995 to 2001, explains various topics such as: the first congress of the Islamic Society of Students, the 1997 elections and the conditions of universities, the period of society reconstruction, the Iranian student protests of July 1999, the maturity time of the Islamic society and etc.

About holding congresses, which is in fact the maturity period of the Islamic society of students, Shahab Esfandiari says: "The congress was held in a very tense atmosphere and full of disputation, accusations, conspiracies and destruction, especially among the friends in the headquarters. I think the main problem was due to mistrust and misunderstanding and lack of proper distribution of responsibilities in the headquarters. The congress was convened in such a tumultuous atmosphere and unexpectedly, the Supreme Leader sent a three-page written message to the congress which was unexampled in the history of society. He had explicitly emphasized the reduction of internal and external organizational differences."

Majid Pournajmi finalized the book with four appendices: A review of the history of the university narrated by Assadollah Badamchian, confidential documents from the US Embassy, Tehran to the State Department, Washington D.C., the full text of the Supreme Leader's message on the occasion of the Islamic Students' Congress, the approval of the Supreme Council of the Cultural Revolution, and the regulations of Islamic organizations in universities.

 

 



 
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Book Review:

The Oral History of How the Islamic Society of Students Was Formed and Established

The Oral History of How the Islamic Society of Students Was Formed and Established, is a collection of interviews, which were conducted by the author, Majide Pournajmi Irangh, with members of the founding board of this society, and has published by the Cultural and Artistic Institute and Publications of the Islamic Revolution Documentation Center in 280 pages in 2017.