Peyman Rahbari Hagh
In the Qajar era Iranian Economy was not satisfactory. The national economy was in rare stagflation and the foreign goods were flooding into Iran markets. Once Iran was the exporter of textile in high quality particularly silk cloth had been turned into the importer of textile. Ozhen Felander the French archaeologist as visiting Isfahan in 1840 says, “There’s no news from textile industry and gun smiting, brocade and Iranian velvet which once their products exported to all eastern countries and all have been destroyed. Iranian products have been vanished and being adjacent to the Britain Yield it an ominous result because a large number of products are sold much cheaper than its total price in Iranian markets.
Gorge Curzon, the English politician in his work’’ Iran’s book and the issue of Iran" writes,’’ Beside the western luxury goods the upper class addicted to them, all Iranian clothes, men, or women, are imported from the west. Silk , Satin, broad cloth for the upper class and the Linen and Catton cloth for all classes a simple villager garment comes from Manchester or Moscow and the azure which his wife uses is imported from Bombay. In fact from the highest to the lowest social class are certainly dependent to the western goods.
Clergymen and the learned understood the hazard of perishing the national economy and the political independence of the country so took practical measures such as establishing “Esslamieh Company.” Mr. Najafi Isfahani with the assistance of his brother Agha Norollah and Mirza Abolghasem Zanjani accompanied by merchants like Hossein Agha Aminol Zarb Isfahani, Mohammad Hossein Kazeruni, Soleyman Khan Roknol Molk Shirazi, Kakoo Hossein Kazeruni and Malek O Tojar established Esslamieh Company in 1898 and its main aim was supply the required fabric for Iranian people and standing against dependence to overseas. The company president was Haji Mohammad Hossein Kazeruni who had the experience of management of Masoodieh Company and four of Isfahan merchants were selected as managing board of the headquarter in Isphahan.
This company managed as common stocks, the stock was 150 thousand Tomans divided into 15 thousands /ten -thousand -Toman. Share sold to the shareholders. The company faced with the extensive popular acclaim in purchasing stocks and its products and gradually established branches in many cities and abroad as well. The headquarter was in Isfahan but started branches in Tehran, Shiraz, Bushehr, Mashhad, Tabriz, and even sales agents in abroad (London, Calcutta, Bombay, Istanbul, Baghdad, Moscow and Baku). This national firm was the first core of large factories in modern style in Isfahan and other cities and limited Iran need to foreign countries to a large extent. The establishers explain the goals of the association articles as so:
Gaining more profit through starting the company.
Getting rid of needing to foreign goods.
Boosting and stabilizing home trade against foreign trade.
Preventing home wealth exit to abroad against consumer goods.
Preventing the future generation immigration to abroad for hireling and laboring for foreigners and job creating for Iranian youth.
Facilitating earning a living because of being cheaper the internal textile and food stuffs vis-à-vis their foreign counterparts.
Suggesting a trade model for the future of Iranian state & people.
Establishing a company to support domestic jobs.
Systematizing the torn strand of Iran home trade.
Country reconstructing and blooming and flourishing the industries.
Getting rid of consumerism and utilizing foreign goods.
Building graveled road and railroad to facilitate the transportation.
Preventing hoarding and black market.
In the 21st article of the association we read, “The Company totally imposed a ban on trading foreign goods and just tries his best for advancement of the domestic goods and providing machineries and the useful factories. For transportation of the domestic goods to abroad will make graveled road and railroad as it necessitates “. Also in the article 24 it says,” All staffs from the chief to the white – collars and the managing board have to apply and consume home textiles “.
For the establishment of Esslamieh Company a great celebration was hold in Kashan and the company declared in a leaflet,” Thanks God, for the bounty of the company a large number of people in Iran, particularly in Isfahan more than one thousand, businessmen have made their own business, mean while consignments of goods, fabric, soft textile, pure &precious dress dispatched to Kashan, and Mr. Seyyed Nasrollah Mojtahed for service of Islam and Muslims held a celebration on 17th Rabi-al-Avale 1318 A.H. at his home .
Esslamieh Company besides textile industry was thinking to improve economical and independence status in various fields such as establishing national industries and factories and tries to force further concessions from the government for the development of the country and urge it to the new fields of activities. As we read in one of those days press ,” As we get informed, Isfahan Esslamieh company tries to force concessions for railroad for Isfahan and its suburbs from the high ranking officials and it is certain that the state wouldn’t support this claim.
Some of the engineers have had this dream for 3 years. Nowadays Esslamieh Company fulfills its potential. The people and the state both will benefit Isphahan Esslamieh company is progressing day by day. As if Isphahan people awoke and became the awakening cause of all Iranians. Another company called “Mahmoodieh” was established, hoped that nearly a hundred company establish in Isphahan to resolve the national requires from foreign countries moreover Tehran celebrities association is going to start schools in Isphahan, God’s willing the national schools will be started soon. Step by step all people need will be resolved. These should be known as effect of the well-known scholars. I hope so it will affect more.”
This company also involved in exchange.
Shiite grand religious authorities practically supported this company. Haj Agha Norollah and the other scholars bought their plain clothes made from Iranian fabric. Eight of the grand Ayatollah,s such as Ayatollah Akhund khorasani, Ayatollah Seyed Esmaeel son of Seyed Sadroldin Ameli, Ayatollah Haj Mirza Hosseyn Noori, Ayatollah Haj Mirza Khalili, Ayatollah Seyed Mohammad Kazem Yazdi, Ayatollah Mohammad Gheravi Sharabiyani, Ayatollah Mohammad Hossein Mamaghani and Ayatollah Sheyikh -o- Sharie Isphahani Supported the establishment of this company. Akhund Khorasani decided to support this company and wrote a letter to Mozaffaredin Shah, “How eligible it is that his Majesty, Muslim Supporter Sultan have his kingly bestowal upon Esslamieh Company which satisfies Imam of the Time and promotes the brilliant nation and the great state. His majesty provides his garment from the company products and gives the order to aid this issue to the ministers and the state senior officials to provide their dress from the company products and is ought to the public and Muslims folk to abide by their Sultan As “ people are on their governors, religion”.
Follow you and take off the inferior dress and put on respect dress made from Esslamieh Company and content Imam of the Time as (trimming the old duds of yours better than asking for stranger’s clothes). In Sorraya newspaper we read, when Esslamieh company fabric entered Najaf great religious authorities and scholars gathered and wear Muslim textile products and said we are proud of this domestic garment”.
The company financial performance in the early years shows that the value of the shares increased and the shareholders benefited a lot. Sorraya newspaper says, “ It is clear that in a short while this company had paid goodly profit to its shareholders ,therefore any of the Iranian national in that country who would like to get into the honourable company, after getting information can buy what extent and how many stocks they require. It’s possible to send them the stocks to abroad by the company president.”
The establishment of the company had many reactions. The company economic activities worried the British government and the British ambassador expresses in a letter for Amin -ol –Sultan, the Isphahan governor his complaint about retouring Agha Najafi and believes that his presence in Isphahan is inconsistent with the development of the foreign companies, and this anxiety was not uncalled – for, since in a report by Charles Marling to Mirza Hassan Khan Moshiroldolleh , Iranian foreign minister, he complains about meddling of the learned in the economical affairs and writes.” Isphahan learned are trying to prevent selling of the European goods and had warned Iranian partners to cut off their relations and calculations with the European trading Bureaus and then wants the foreign minister to issue some decrees to Isphahan against and prohibits seditious actions of these people.”
Meanwhile starting of the company confronts negative reactions of the British Embassy. The British Ambassador writes in a letter, “as we get informed, in Isphahan the learned men are against foreign trade. The learned not for their religious prejudice but for their benefit following by some senior merchants who are partners of the Esslamieh Company are doing their best to sell their goods and bounce the foreign consignments and they express explicitly in mosques and other places people not to buy foreign goods”. As we read in one of the English journals due to the establishment of the company, “It is clear that Iranians gradually awake from the neglectfulness and know the importance of the business particularly of the company and what’s important in the company is the presence of the learned people and their eager. If the company became valid there would not be only a big stroke for the British trading in Isphahan but also in the Persian Gulf. … and the merchants should behave in a way that their business market wouldn’t fail, otherwise soon we would expect to hear the closure of our business markets in Isphahan.”
Despite Esslamieh Company success, it paved a hard path for not having a program and not supporting of the home manufactures and also interfering of some benefit – seekers, however it stood for a long time and fought against consumerism and the influence of the imported goods.