Fedaʾiyan-e Islam

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A small religious terrorist group active in Iran between 1945 and 1955.

Fedaʾiyan-e Islam (Devotees of Islam) was founded by Sayyed Mujtaba Mirlavhi, a theology student, who adopted the name Navab Safavi. His followers were mostly youngsters employed in the lower levels of the Tehran bazaar. The group interpreted the Qurʾan literally, demanded a strict application of the shariʿa (Islamic law), and called for the physical elimination of the "enemies of Islam." Despite ideological affinity with the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, the two groups had no organizational links. The Fedaʾiyan-e Islam's victims included Ahmad Kasravi, the iconoclastic writer, and General Ali Razmara, Iran's prime minister in 1951. It also tried to assassinate Husayn Fatemi, Mohammad Mossadegh's foreign minister, and Hoseyn Ala, the prime minister in 1955. After the last attempt, the government destroyed the organization by executing Safavi and his three closest colleagues. Immediately after the Iranian Revolution of 1979, some members tried to revive the Fedaʾiyan-e Islam, but others sabotaged the attempt, arguing that there was no need to resurrect the organization. Other members, however, channeled their activities into an influential right-wing group named the Coalition of Islamic Societies. Consequently, some surviving members of the Fedaʾiyan can now be found in the majles, in the cabinet, in the Council of Guardians, and, most noticeably, in the Tehran Chamber of Commerce.

See also Muslim Brotherhood.


Kazemi, Farhad. "The Fedaʾiyan-e Islam: Fanaticism, Politics, and Terror." In From Nationalism to Revolutionary Islam, edited by Said Amir Arjomand. Albany; State University of New York Press; London: Macmillan, 1984.

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