T h e early encounter wi th the West in Iran produced a number of reformminded intellectuals whose heritage is cherished in some circles to this day; one of them was Kermani. Mirza Abdol Hosein, k n o w n as Mirza Aqa Khan Kermani , was born in 1854 to a wel l - to-do family of land-owners in the Kerman region. 1 In addition to a traditional education, he studied p re - Islamic Iranian history, religions, and languages. T h e fact that he was the grandson of a Zoroastrian judge turned Musl im must have influenced his early interest in this field of study, unusual at that t ime. His family's sufi background was another important factor in shaping his personality; it probably strengthened his anti-establishment attitudes in bo th the political and religious domains, including his early adherence to the ideas of the Babi-Azalis, a militant, reform-oriented religious movement .