About Ali-Akbar Dehkhoda

Ali-Akbar Dehkhoda

Born in Iran in 1879, Dehkhoda rose to become a prominent 20th century Iranian historical figure with an overarching distinction for his literary, scholarly, cultural, social, and political contributions in moving Iranian society towards modernism with an Iranian identity. From a universal perspective, Dehkhoda was a worldly humanitarian and a true servant leader. He never was enslaved to wealth, fame, or power. At age nine following his father’s death, Dehkhoda had to start working to maintain himself and his family, and yet throughout his life he never pursued wealth; rather, he remained steadfast to the righteous path of serving people of Iran together with an utmost respect for the people of the world. He experienced the progress of modernity in his visits and stays in Europe first as a diplomat, and later as a political exile. He believed in and exemplified an integrative view of a modern Iranian character imbued with the noble elements of Iran’s traditional and cultural identity and the progressive elements of the Western modernity, including democracy and the fundamental freedoms enshrined therein. His vast legacy for Iran is embodied in his groundbreaking Persian Language Encyclopedia, the first of its kind, known as the Dehkhoda Loghat Nameh.

In some important ways, Dehkhoda resembles Albert Einstein. Einstein is considered the most influential scientific mind of the world in 20th century. Dehkhoda is also considered as Iran’s 20th century great erudite (Allameh) for his unprecedented knowledge and grasp of Persian language and literature as well as for the breadth and depth of his understanding of social sciences. Both men have influenced the progress of knowledge tremendously in their respective realms. Neither of them pursued wealth and in turn relentlessly pursued truth. Both were concerned about the social, economic, and political well-being of their fellow human beings at large. Dehkhoda was indeed involved in political activism during Iran’s Constitutional Revolution of 1906, and yet again in support of Dr. Mohammad Mossadegh, Iran’s democratic premier, during the latter’s reign from 1951-1953. Einstein played violin whereas Dehkhoda occasionally wrote exquisite poetry. They both served humanity in noble and lasting ways.