Bannig Hijab by Reza Khan regime

6 major atrocities by Reza Khan Pahlavi in banning hijab for Iranian women

What the evil Pahlavi regime inflicted on this country and this nation during its dark and humiliating reign, in fact, forms one of the bitter eras in our history. One of the catastrophic activities was the issue of January 8th in 1936 which took place during Reza Shah's reign. According to a plan, the enemies of Islam and Iran enjoying the assistance of the intellectuals affiliated to Pahlavi dynasty decided to separate the Iranian women from their decency and hijab and eradicate the tremendous power of faith which existed in Muslim societies owing to the decency of women.

One of the gravest crimes of the evil Pahlavi regime was the issue of January 8th in 1936. Banning hijab was removing the screen and the distance set by Islam between the two sexes. Hijab is a wholesome practice that benefits men and women as well as society. It renders the society healthy and safe. They had plans to inflict all the malicious abuse suffered by women in Western societies on Muslim Iranian women. Using strong-arm tactics, Reza Khan carried out this plan inside the country.
What the Western women achieved by plummeting into the quagmire of corruption and perversion was the destruction of the family. Those women could only advance in science and politics or in social activities by merely removing hijab was an absolute falsity. Women could do so by holding onto their hijab and decency and we have experienced the fact in our Islamic country. Banning hijab was a prelude to stripping women of their dignity and decency. It was meant to keep people busy with powerful sexual desires. They wanted to prevent people from doing other things and they were successful for some time.
But the strong faith of the Iranian nation did not let this happen. In spite of all the strictures on hijab in the past, our Muslim women resisted suppression in various ways during and after Reza Khan's reign, and during the rest of the rule of the evil Pahlavi regime. Consequently, on January 7, 1978, in Mashhad, a great procession of Muslim women sparked off a demonstration calling for "keeping hijab". I was in exile when we heard the news of the brave faithful Muslim women who had provoked the demonstration.  
What I said was only a tiny fraction of all the disasters that the Pahlavi regime had caused. They destroyed religious ideals, moral values, economic growth, our international honor, and in short, all the assets of a nation were among the acts that the dictatorial and tyrannical regime committed. Jan 9, 2008


1. The removal of the veil: a souvenir Reza Khan brought from the West

When Reza Khan, the domineering bully, wanted to introduce us to western traditions, the first thing he brought over was the style of clothing and the removal of the veil: that was accomplished by use of force through his style of bullying! Dresses needed to be short; hats needed to be a special model--they even changed the name, hats became chapeaux! If anyone dared to wear a hat different from the "Pahlavi hat," which was the name given to the style worn at the time, or wore a long dress, they were beaten and repelled.

They adopted these traditions from western culture. Women were not allowed to keep their veils. Their chadors (the Iranian hijab) were already forbidden. If they covered their hair and neck, they were beaten! Why? Because in the West women did not wear headscarves. These styles were adopted from the West. They didn’t bring what was really needed for our nation. No knowledge, no experience, assiduousness and hard-working or risk taking habits--which were the good aspects of the western culture--none, were ever introduced to us. On the other hand, the things that were brought to our nation were accepted systematically. They brought ideas, but they accepted them with no analysis. They said we had to follow them because it came from the West. The clothing, eating, speaking, and even their style of walking were like that of westerners, so they were supposed to be accepted. There was no way out of it. For a country, this is the worst kind of poison. May 02, 2001

Those who have read the history of the time when removal of hijab and indecent dressing of the women was imposed in the society by the vicious Pahlavi dynasty; or those who were present then and can remember the events, know how the removal of hijab, unrestrainedness and the uninhibited mingling of the men and women were brought to our country and imposed on the nation. Our nation did not accept this phenomenon easily. However, unfortunately, there were people who were born into that culture and never realized the indecency of it; because for two or three generations, they underwent the wicked reign of Pahlavi until the victory of the Islamic revolution. December 6, 1989


2. On the bogus pretext of improving women’s status, the Pahlavi regime took the national and traditional Iranian dress away from the women

The one who took the biggest step in favor of the Western culture—that is, in reality, the West’s hegemony over Iran—and in favor of the British colonization, was Reza-Khan. You see, this kind of action is perceived so disgraceful today if a king completely changes the national dressing culture of a country. For instance, if you travel to India or different parts of the world, nations have their proper forms of dress; and they are proud of it, and they don’t feel ashamed of it. But in Iran, they suddenly banned the [national] costumes! Why? Because, they said, it was not possible to become an academic with this type of clothing. Amazing! Our most prominent scientists -- Iranian scientists whose work is still being taught in Europe-- grew under the same culture and in the same environment. How can the clothing tradition have an impact [on their scholarly work]? This is a nonsensical remark! They suggested such a nonsensical reason, and changed the clothing tradition of a nation, removing women’s chadors.  

They argued that “a woman cannot become an academic, or a scientist, and take part in social activities while wearing a chador.” My question is: “By removing the chador, in our country, what percentage of women took part in social activities?” Were women given opportunities to take part in social activities during the reign of Reza Khan and his son?! Men were not given opportunities either, nor would women be given opportunities. When women of Iran entered the arena of social activity, powerfully raising the country in their vigorous hands, and encouraging men to follow them into the arenas of fighting, they did so while wearing chadors.  

What negative effect can chador have?! How can clothing prevent a woman’s or a man’s activity? The important thing is how a person’s heart is; how their mind is, how their faith is, how their personality is, what motivations are created for their social or scientific activity.

This ignorant bully --Reza Khan-- came to power and yielded to the enemies. He suddenly changed the dressing culture of the country, he changed many of the traditions, and he banned the religion! He did actions that we all have heard--which took place during the Pahlavi regime, through coercion and bullying. He became popular in the eyes of the Westerners—that is the colonizers. August 12, 1992 


3. Women were oppressed in the monarchical society

Women were truly and in all dimensions underprivileged in the society of the self-surrendered evil monarchical regime. If a woman wanted to enter the academia, she was obliged to relinquish her religion, piety and decency. A Muslim woman could not easily retain her hijab, decency and dignity in the universities, academia, scientific and cultural centers. It was impossible! A Muslim woman could not, in the streets of Tehran and some other cities, walk with Islamic dignity and decency, even with a partial hijab, without being harassed and molested by some vulgar people obsessed with the corruption and immorality brought to us from the West. They had created a situation in which it was generally impossible for women to acquire knowledge.

 There existed some exceptions. But generally speaking, women could not enter the academia, except by removing their veil and relinquishing Islamic piety and dignity! The same was true in the social sphere. If a woman wanted to acquire a position in the society or politics during monarchical Iran, she had to relinquish hijab, dignity, decency and grace of a Muslim woman. Yet, it also depended on her innate qualities and essence. If she was very weak-spirited, she would slide down to the depth [of indecency]. If she was self-restraint, she could preserve herself to some degrees, but she was constantly facing increased pressures from the social environment. Our society was like that. January 16, 1990 


4. Falsely characterizing women by forcing them into flaunting themselves to men

In the previous regime, a great number of women were illiterate and ignorant of social affairs—that is, they would not be allowed to obtain information. Women had grown indifferent toward the fate of the country, as they didn’t even know that women could play a role in the future of the country. Nevertheless, they looked like European women in their appearances and some had even surpassed European standards [in dressing revealingly]. When you saw them you would think they had just entered Iran from a European country and a Western environment. However, if you started to speak with them, you could readily notice they were not very educated if literate at all. They forced women to create a false identity for themselves by attracting eyes toward themselves and flaunting. This was a deviation for a woman; not an advancement. Is there a bigger crime against a woman, than to make her preoccupied with makeup, fashion, clothes, gold and other accessories and take advantage of her as a means for achieving various goals, not letting her enter arenas of politics, ethics, and education? This is what was being done in the previous regime with precise planning. January 16, 1990     


5. The biggest oppression against women is preoccupying her with consumerism and show-off

After all the calamities that were inflicted on women in the past, in Eastern, Western, Iranian and non-Iranian cultures, (I don’t need to mention them, you all know) Islam gave a new life to women. In our Iranian society, the woman is not still at the level that Islam requires, neither in social rights, nor in the individual rights to property, or the related laws. In some parts of our society women are badly treated, which is not something that happens only in Iran. Unfortunately, throughout history, women have been under oppression, which is mainly due to the fact that the status and value of a woman is not accurately understood. Of course, this has existed in different parts of the world, in different forms and continues to exist; it does not only happen in our society. However, in our society, it should be as Islam requires.  

The woman should find her true position; she must not be oppressed simply for being a woman. It is heartbreaking to see so much oppression is put on women—oppressions we do recognize as oppressions; and there are so many forms of oppression that are not even recognized as oppression, while they are indeed acts of oppression; such as, leading women to ostentation, show-off, consumerism and flamboyant adornments, extravagant expenses and changing into a consumer good. This is major oppression to women. We can say that no other oppression is worse, because it will make her completely negligent about her ideals and purposes toward perfection, and will make her busy with trivial matters. This was done during the oppressive monarchical regime, which was put an end to. January 6, 1991


6. Were there more intellectual women during the Pahlavi era or during the Islamic Revolution?

We did not have so many outstanding women during an era of taghut [in this case, the Pahlavi era]. This is my claim and I’m sticking to it. Today, the absolute and relative number of female researchers, professors, scientists, intellectuals--who work in different areas and who are experts in those areas--poets and artists, such as fictional writers, poets and painters, is far larger than the number of such women during the time of taghut. The time of taghut [Pahlavi era] was a period of time when they had destroyed hijab and the belief in the necessity of distance between men and women, and they used to promote decadence on a daily basis. Additionally, in certain cases, their actions were more excessive and worse than European countries.

Today, in the Islamic Republic, we have such a large number of scientific and political personalities, and cultural and artistic experts, who wear hijab, chador, or headscarves. At that time [taghut], we did not even have a small number of such great women. There were very few women who practiced this way of life. This proves a theory, which is the exact opposite of one they were trying to establish. This theory reveals that not only does promotion of such decadence not help women strengthen their spirituality and develop their capacities, but it also keeps them so occupied with such matters as outward appearances and the trouble this brings about. This prevents women from moving towards perfection and transcendence. July 4, 2007


  • Banning Hijab
  • Hijab
  • Islam
  • Pahlavi dictatorship
  • Pahlavi regime
  • Veil
  • Women in Hijab