The Petitioning System in Iran
Filing petitions to the ruler was a common practice in the history of the Middle East. But despite its social and political importance, the institution of mazalim, the so called “Investigation of Complaints,” has still not been subjected to adequate investigation, neither its normative regulations and regional settings, nor the petitions themselves, as a source for political, economic, social and administrative history, the petitioning system in pre-modern and modern Iran being no exception. In contrast to royal decrees or official historiography, these petitions reflect complaints of people from all social strata, men and women, farmers, religious people and state officials, urban and rural population, including nomads. The petitions thus express the perspective of common people, their desires and grievances about tax collectors and governors, about the malfunctioning of the legal system and the royal administration. This book is based on a sample of petitions which were submitted to Nasir al-Din Shah between 1301/1883 and 1303/1886 and contains the texts of a selection of these petitions pertaining to the year 1301/1883–1884 as well as their classification and an analysis of the role and functioning of this institution.