Original Persian book information
Author: Qasem Soleimani
Title: Az chizi nemitarsidam: zendegi-nameh-ye khodnevesht-e qāsem soleimāni, 1335 ta 1357
Editor: Mohammad Mehdi Bagheri
Publisher: Tehran: Qasem Soleimani Library, 2021
You are holding in your hands an English translation of the first-ever book published by the Haj Qasem Library. It is an autobiography of Qasem Soleimani, former commander of the Qods Force; an elite branch of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). Of course, if you are reading this, then you are likely already familiar with this man and his life’s work.
This autobiography is an incomplete one, to be sure. The author began writing the book late in his life, and was assassinated before it could be completed. Thus, the book only covers his early life: his childhood in rural Kerman, his migration to the city as a teenager in search of work, and his involvement in the protest movement against the Pahlavi monarchy.
Soleimani is viewed primarily as a military leader; by his lovers and haters alike. However, this work is not a story of the life of General Qasem Soleimani – the commander, the strategist, and America’s public enemy no. 1 – so much as it is an account of the exceedingly simple and modest lifestyle of rural (and more specifically, tribal) Iran prior to the Islamic Revolution in 1979.
What we see through the lens of Soleimani’s early life is, in some ways, not too far removed from what the novelist Jalal Al-e Ahmad said of rural Iran: that ‘half of its fifty thousand villages still do not know what a match is.’ Indeed, rural Iran was – by and large – a realm that had been untouched by time; regally indolent to the rapid changes that had been taking place in the world (and, indeed, within Iran itself).
Thus, this autobiography can be described as an origin story: a first-hand look into the humble beginnings of a man who would end up shaking the world to its core.
It may be beneficial to mention a few technical points about this translation. Transliteration of Persian words has been done according to the guidelines defined by the Association for Iranian Studies. Exceptions are made for the names of people and places, where instead the most prevalent English spellings are used (e.g. Kerman rather than Kermān).
The Persian language is not bereft of honorifics, and the author uses them on more than a few occasions in this book. English equivalents are used where possible; however, where it became necessary to use the original Persian honorifics, please refer to the footnotes for additional information.
The author writes in a stream of consciousness style. This style has been preserved as best as it could; however, some of the non-sequiturs (namely, those which do not translate well into English) have been ironed out in the interest of preserving the narrative flow.
As for the original manuscript, there were some challenges the Haj Qasem Library faced in transcribing and publishing it. The author’s handwriting was unique, and thus the publisher enlisted the author’s relatives to help identify certain letters and words. In spite of their best efforts, 25 words in the text were not identified with absolute certainty, and thus the publisher used their best estimation as to what these words were.
The parenthetical phrases you see throughout the book are all written by the author himself, with the only exception being those that contain translations of Persian words. The footnotes, however, are all by the translator, and mostly serve to offer contextual information that can hopefully serve to improve the reader’s understanding.
In the interest of thoroughness, the original introduction to the book has also been translated. This introduction was written by none other than the author’s daughter, Zeinab Soleimani, who – for all intents and purposes – has inherited her father’s will.
25th of April, 2022