Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Ashura: Any Relevance Today?

These days , in Tehran you see people from all walks of life , taking part in mourning ceremonies, in one way or another. You see young people wearing jeans and or other types of western gear and brands listening to MP3 or MP4 playing "nohe". "Nohe" is a type of mourning music melancholic but also influenced by pop and rap tones. Poems concerning the events in Ashura are read individually or collectively and the rhythm is usually inspiring and motivating. The inspiration however stems from the spirit of Ashura.
This is an event which occurred about 60 years after the Hejira, in Karbala ( a region currently in Iraq) . Hussein the son of Ali, the grandson of the Prophet was asked to submit to the ruling establishment of the time. Muavieh and Yazid his son ruled in the name of Islam and gave themselves the title of the Leader of the Believers, in reality however their policies and practices were in total contradiction to the egalitarian, ethical and moral standards that the Prophet of Islam had advocated. The despotic and cruel rulers were intent in preserving their control and propagating their deviant version of the religion. Their hypocrisy was deceiving ordinary people. In reality although they proclaimed their system to be abiding to Islam they used the religion as a shield for their base and selfish ambitions. It became evident that this would be a point of deviation from authentic teachings of the Religion which brought the final Message, a message for all times and a message of dignity and salvation for humanity. Imam Hussein could have comfortably given in and submitted to Yazid thereby allowing a distorted version of the Religion , and a rule of tyranny and oppression to dominate. He, however chose to resist and stand for truthfulness , for the dignity and freedom of mankind , to set an example for generations to come . How is it that more than 14 centuries later the legacy of Imam Hussein inspires millions of Muslims to follow his example and to contemplate his heroic struggle for justice and dignity?
The Islamic Revolution in Iran was profoundly inspired by the campaign of Imam Hussein and today the Palestinian people find inspiration in his struggle.
In reality Ashura is a message for all irregardless of their religion or nationality to stand up for the truth, to set aside selfish and egoist desires, to relinquish a passive and carefree attitude and react to oppression and injustices.
How relevant is the concept and legacy of Imam Hussein for us today?

In our current world today , the aggression against Palestine is the greatest symbol of injustice, a standing defiance to international law. Today Gaza is a test for all, can we remain indifferent and believe that these injustices, and crimes will not affect our livelihoods ?
As long as there is injustice in a world dominated by double standards:
Every day is Ashura and every land is Karbala.


Anonymous said...

Ive seen some footage comming from Gaza, I think Israel has done the best to erode any hope of peace and moderation. It is noteworthy to see that Israelis do not see how counterproductive their incursion into Gaza has been? Where does Israel intend to live in the future, do they think they can come to terms with the public opinion of the Muslim populations now after what they have done to children in the Holy Lands?

Anna said...

OK, here goes my LAST comment on this site, at least until I see my HOPES and DREAMS about a peaceful, free, democratic Iran being realized, and I can be sure that my almost ONE WHOLE YEAR of blogging here has not been for absolutely NOTHING!

As your most loyal readers must have already realized, I am the one who writes most of your comments, I am the one who has wasted a crazy amount of her time and energy here to (in her own mind) help the "conversation" or the noble and worthy cause of "Dialogue among Civilizations" between the Persian speaking Iranians (90% of whom happen to belong to the Muslim World) AND the English speaking people of the Western World who are desperately trying to make heads and tails out of the words and rhetoric coming out of the Islamic Republic of Iran!

I am by definition a product of this "conversation", as it has been going on inside my own mind and heart for the past 21 years (more than half of my life), having left Iran in pursuit of my own TRUTH (at age 17) and having immersed myself in the wonderfully FREE society of my beloved Canada: The Best Country in The World, without a doubt!

It wasn't easy saying Goodbye to my fatherland or motherland or homeland of my ancestors, but I remember the day I asked my most respected elder (my uncle) what he thought of me deciding to leave my country behind, and he recited this poem:

Vatan kaz bahr-e Hagh jooyee, che jaa-bolghaa che jaa-bolssaa
Sokhan kaz bahr-e Jaan gooyee, che Ebraani che Soryaani

which means:
In search of a Homeland if your journey is for finding the TRUTH, it makes no difference whether you find it in the East or in the West
In praising the glory of God if your language serves the Spirit of Man, it makes no difference whether you speak it in Hebrew or in Aramaic

So, being that perfect amalgam of cultures and understanding the language of TRUTH from the both sides (as much as I do), I took on this cause, I risked offending a lot of people (on both sides of the conversation) with my brutal honesty and frankness, and in doing so, I jeopardized the "happy go lucky" life of an anonymous Citizen of the World! Why? Because I'm an eternal optimist at heart, I'm a foolish Romanticist who hears the voice of God in Beethoven's Symphony #9 and Schiller's Ode to Joy, and ever since that amazing speech of an unknown senator from Illinois in the Democratic Convention 4 years ago, I started to think that I was not alone in my Audacity of Hope!

I started to actually believe that it's possible for human beings - including politicians - to remember their better angels and make decisions based on higher ideals found in humanism, rationalism, and "metaphysics of morals", rather than in egoism, supremacy, and that never ending hunger for amassing the "bottom line"!

I knew Barack Obama would win on that historic November 4th of 2008, long before anybody among the most "elitist left wing media" ever came to realize it!I knew it even before he came out and announced his candidacy on the steps of Springfield's old State Capitol building, and I have been dancing and shouting and jumping up and down with immeasurable intensity of JOY and excitement during EACH and EVERY one of his rallies in the primaries and the general elections (watching them ALL online), everywhere he went, every redundant speech he gave, and finally culminating at that unbelievably HISTORIC night when my screams could be heard even from Intelligence gathering satellites in outer space, I'm sure!!!!

The next morning, on November 5th of 2008, I woke up with one song playing in my head, and oddly enough that song was not in English, it wasn't about America or anything having to do with anything "Western", but it was a song I remember clearly as one of my most vivid memories of the Iranian 1979 revolution, the song playing on the Iranian radio all day long on the Referendum Day in that Spring of Freedom after our nation had ousted a despotic king (the Shah)!

It was a song of JOY while expressing NOSTALGIA (a Persian paradox) for the "empty place" of Dr. Mossadegh among us on a day we all felt as the first day of his DREAM being realized! I figured out a few minutes later as I got up and wondered to myself why I was waking up with this song in my head, that it was due to the subconscious parallel my brain had drawn to the "empty place" of Dr. King on a day that I bet most Americans recognized as the first day of HIS DREAM being realized!

Anyway, Iranian people's HOPES and DREAMS for a FREE, DEMOCRATIC and JUST society was never fully realized, as Dr. Mossadegh became a name never to be mentioned in public again, let alone to be sung on Iranian radio or television! But on November 5th of 2008, I woke up with a renewed sense of OPTIMISM and HOPE that maybe NOW, with the help of a LEADER, a World President who believes in multilateralism, diplomacy, and RESPECT for all human beings, it can!

I allowed myself to DREAM and HOPE that with a new mindset, with a transformed policy doctrine, and with a White House administration shifting to the more IDEALISTIC side of politics, i.e. LEFT, we might finally see a world where Sovereignty and Independence of some resource-rich nations do not have to be viewed as posing a threat to the National Interests of the more powerful ones!

As the world is anxiously awaiting the arrival of Obama son of Ann Dunham, I am jubilantly dancing and thinking of the 70 million Iranians who within the next 4 years, might find themselves and their country (ensha-Allah) in a NON adversarial posture with the "Great Satan", hence FINALLY after 28 years, feeling the necessary Confidence, Audacity, and Optimism to resume the work that started in the Spring of 1979 but had to be halted and put on hold by the summer of 1980!

By the end of 1980, our NATION was faced with internal and external THREATS of Terrorism (MKO, Forghan , ...), Foreign Invasion (by Saddam Hussein the Hitler of our times), and the hijacking of our revolution's TRUE PRINCIPLES (i.e., Independence, Freedom, Islamic Republic) by the radical Shiite extremists who sounded and behaved in angry and violent ways FAR from the true teachings of Imam Ali (the morality teacher of Muslims) and unimaginable by the righteous leaders of our revolution who had been ALL assassinated by then (like shaheed Shariati, shaheed Motahhari, shaheed Taleghani, shaheed Beheshti, shaheed Chamran, ...)!

What I see in the persona of Prophet Obama, is a dedication and genuine commitment to right the wrongs of the past, to eradicate the Frankensteins created as a direct result of Neo-conservative policies, and to treat nations with other civilizations (than the Western one) with RESPECT, as opposed to contempt, dismissal, and that ever so familiar sense of SUPERIORITY exhibited by his predecessors! After all, his LIFE and the life of his wife's entire family has been a constant struggle of OVERCOMING the pressures and belittling and underestimations that existed in their paths toward success, stemming from that same sense of SUPERIORITY!

Now, why I was compelled to write this last comment:

I was recently accused of something utterly comical by a dear fellow reader of this site whom I consider a friend, but who had clearly misunderstood my reasons for having tried to give the more rational and seemingly enlightened men of IRI, the "Benefit of the Doubt" in some of my past comments! I have always been clear about NOT subscribing to the rather simplistic, and black or white opinion that most expatriates have of Iran's ENTIRE clerical class, as if it was ONE homogeneous community, but I think my new friend (not knowing me enough) did not believe my sincerity, which is OK! ... Thank God one can always set oneself "Free" through complete and most naked expression of "TRUTH", and I have always lived a life MOST transparent and HONEST, such that it's hard for anybody to know me and not believe in my sincerity! ... anyway, this dear friend had suggested that the reason I don't verbally bash EVERYBODY in IRI is that I was perhaps "applying for a job with IRI"!!!!!! :-) How amusing, once one gets over the original shock of how insulting that was!!! :-)

I'm neither a poor unemployed Canadian who needs to go back to Iran (after nearly 22 years) in search of a job, nor a suicidal maniac who would come and spend almost a year on the weblog of a prominent IRI politician, criticizing, prosecuting, and condemning so many of IRI's men, not only in the current government, but also writing comments just as critical as those ones about a number of so-called Reformist personalities and "Grand Ayatollahs" (except that some of those comments never got posted)!!!
If I was looking for a "job with the IRI regime", I sure as heck would NOT have been so BRUTALLY honest with my comments, and would not have said so many controversial things that are sure to put me in the "mortadd" (death-sentenced) column of a whole lot of Iran's Grand Ayatollahs!!!!
Now, this little misunderstanding prompted me to come and write this LAST comment here, in which I want to explain more thoroughly where my natural OPPOSITION to the common practice of GENERALIZATION comes from.

I may have grown up dancing to ABBA and BeeGees in the 70s, and then touched by the sound of the Islamic Azaan and Noheh or Marssyeh (which are what Dr. Ebtekar has described here in this post) in my early teen years (10, 11, 12, 13) before I heard the voice of my own God in the heavenly sounds of Beethoven's or Mozart's or Carl Orff's or Tchaikovsky's music, but I can say that in my most informative teenage years (16, 17, 18) the poet or musician who spoke the MOST to my consciousness, and hugely influenced who I became, was (believe it or not) Alan Parsons! and the song that I listened to over and over and over and over again as if his words were verses in a Holy Book (astaghforellah, zaboonam laal), was this song:

(Ammonia Avenue)

Is there no sign of light as we stand in the darkness?
Watching the sun arise
Is there no sign of life as we gaze at the waters?
Into the strangers eyes

And who are we to criticize or scorn the things that they do?
For we shall seek and we shall find Ammonia Avenue

If we call for the proof and we question the answers
Only the doubt will grow
Are we blind to the truth or a sign to believe in?
Only the wise will know

And word by word they handed down the light that shines today
And those who came at first to scoff, remained behind to pray
Yes those who came at first to scoff, remained behind to pray

When you can't hear the rhyme and you can't see the reason
Why should the hope remain?
For a man will be tired and his soul will grow weary
Living his life in vain

And who are we to justify the right in all we do?
Until we seek until we find Ammonia Avenue

Through all the doubt somehow they knew
And stone by stone they built it high
Until the sun broke through
A ray of hope, a shining light Ammonia Avenue

... and why not enjoy listening to it?! ...


So, you see? The reason I try to NEVER give myself the RIGHT to GENERALIZE and bundle people up in ONE stereotypical category of EVIL "mullahs" or DECADENT "westerners" (gharbi) and "West-struck easterners" (gharbzadeh) which is what I would be called by the followers and supporters of Mr. Ahmadinejad, is that many years ago, when I was shaping my own INDIVIDUAL philosophy and ideology, I took Alan Parsons' words soooooooooo seriously!!! I would not want to be discriminated against by any form of stereotyping, therefore I sure would not want for others what I don't want for myself, i.e. to be dismissed in ONE brush stroke of PREJUDGEMENT!!!

... I've said it before, and I'll say it again:
Not ALL Ayatollahs are fanatics, fundamentalists, and unenlightened extremists!!!! The mere fact that one wears a turbine and a robe, is not indicative of him being a blind ideologue (zaahed-e moteasseb), as for example, I'm sure no one in the world would call "Grand Ayatollah" Seyyed Mohammad Khatami an EVIL "mullah"!!! ... btw, that's a title I have given him, by the authority vested in me by God Almighty who loves me and considers me as one of those ONLY 3 human beings in a sea of beasts and animals, as seen by Imam Mohamad Bagher, going around the Kaba in Mecca at Hajj! ;-)
... but he's not the only one! A number of those Ayatollahs Iran lost in 1979 and 1980 by the hands of terrorists and hypocrites, Ayatollahs like Morteza Motahhari, Seyyed Mahmoud Taleghani, Seyyed Mohammad Beheshti, ... and some who are still alive like Hossein-Ali Montazeri and who knows? maybe even Seyyed Ali Khamenei, can be considered ENLIGHTENED (in the Islamic sense) because if NOTHING else, by the mere fact that they may have studied the life and thoughts of OUR Persian Imam Mohammad Ghazzali, it means they have studied the same thoughts and philosophy as that of René Descartes, and if that does not qualify one as ENLIGHTENED, then what will?!!!

Now, the question might arise as to:
If Ayatollah Khamenei is ENLIGHTENED, then why has he not straightened his rather extremist, fundamentalist, blind followers who take his words as words of God and worship him as if he was another Prophet (astaghforellah!, aoozobellahe mana sheytaane rajim!), by telling them that they NEED to use their brains and think and be rational beings if they want to be considered as good Muslims by God Almighty? ...

and the answer I can think of is:
Iran's Sovereignty, Independence, and Territorial Integrity is still being THREATENED, and as much as he might be tormented by the thought that he has become the source of heresy "sherk" for some of his most ardent supporters and "bassiji" followers (who offer him their blood as gift), but as Commander in Chief of a country of 70 million, most of whom are Shiite Persian speaking "ajam" people, surrounded by a sea of hostile, jealous, old rivals in the Sunni Arab world, he knows that the best soldiers Iran can have in defending itself against any aggressions by outside forces, are these same Valiye Faghih worshippers who vow to give their lives for him and him alone!!!! This is where a Moral Dilemma occurs, and a religious Man of God realizes why it was a very bad idea to mix politics with religion, because now the POLITICIAN in him might say that "The End Justifies The Means", while the CLERIC in him might remind his consciousness that "There Is NO God But GOD"! (laa-elaaha ellallah)

ONE LAST word to President of the World, my beloved Barack Hussein Obama:

Sir, take away the threat, and you will see these same extremist Iranian bassijis NATURALLY turning into benevolent volunteers of "jahaad-e saazandegi" in construction and agriculture projects, building the world's most economically sound Biofuel Fields, Solar Panels, Wind Farms, Gas Pipelines and Hydro Dams, to benefit both Iran and USA through investments in a population of 70% under 35 years old, educated, dedicated, and motivated to do what's considered SERVICE to God Almighty! Iran's extremists and fundamentalists are not of the same part and parcel as their counterparts in other countries of the region, they are NOT suicidal terrorists and murderers seeking the expansion of Islam into the lands of "infidels", they are just blinded by piety and will do whatever their Valiye Faghih tells them is God's work!

Black Chador said...

I would like someone to deny this report. I would like someone to tell me and others how hard IRI is working toward peace agreement between Israel and Palestine.
For those of you who believe in god maybe this report should wake you up and maybe you should demand some answers from your leaders. I don’t care if you are Jew, Christian or Muslim if you believe in god and your Holy books then peace should be high on your list while you pray to your god.


Black Chador said...

At least few of these Iranian Mullahs haven't lost their roots and They kept their dignity.


Anonymous said...

Gosh!!!! ...


Iran's gonna do and say NOTHING to dispute this WRONG claim that "Tehran was driven only by a theological commitment to destroying Israel"??????!!!!!! ...

is IRI ready to send the ENTIRE Islamic Nation "ommah" of the Middle East to "heaven"?????? how many of your own 70 million are actually qualified in your Grand Ayatollah's eyes as "pious enough" to be considered "martyrs" (let alone the rest of the people of other countries in the region who will be destroyed in this supposed nuclear war with Israel)???? ... even if you say 20 million, then what about the other 50 million? is IRI ready to send them to "hell" just so that those 20 million would get to their "heaven"?????

No!!! this is the WRONG picture Hillary has of Iran!!! I can't understand why she wouldn't be better informed than this??? To say the same things that the cowboy John Bolton says????? It's beneath you Hillary, come on, you should know better!!!!!

IRI is NOT made of suicidal maniacs at the top! yes it has a lot of blind idiots following the "leader" to wherever he might "lead" them, but at the top and in the decision-making circles of IRI there's as much "love for life" as there is in Israel!!! ... nobody wants to destroy Israel in order to get "martyred"!!!!!! don't say such neocon-sounding things Hillary, it's NOT you!!!!

I love you Hillary, I hoped you would run in 2004 instead of Kerry and you didn't! :-( but this year, with these statements and your "obliteration" threat, I must say you REALLY disappointed me sister!

You need to become America's FIRST EVER woman president in 2016, please don't jeopardize that by becoming indistinguishable from the neocons!!! otherwise, Chuck Hagel will look much better to most Americans than you by then! If the SMARTEST woman in America does not become America's first ever woman president, then you think there will be any other woman worthy of that position anytime soon????!!!! ... Please say things that are indicative of how smart you REALLY are!!! PLEASE!!! ...

Anonymous said...

I'm telling you IRI, if you do NOT let these women get out and appear at this Feminist ceremony in France to get their well-deserved prize,



then Israel (as surely as it's doing what it's doing to Gaza's women and children today) will make sure that it will be YOUR regime saying goodbye to the "map of the world", not the Zionist regime!!!!
Have MERCY on your fellow Iranian sisters and brothers!!!

Do the RIGHT thing and honor these Muslim Feminists of Iran, as Prophet Mohammad encouraged his Nation to do (at the time Arabs of "jaaheliyat" were killing their new born baby-girls) when he kissed the hands of the world's FIRST ever Muslim Feminist, Fatemeh Zahra (aleyhe salaam)!

These are all GOOD women:



They don't have to ALL look like this to be considered GOOD Muslims:



These women from these videos or from these pictures, they are ALL sisters in both HUMANITY AND RELIGION!!!

And don't worry, the ONLY way they will turn into Britney Spears, is by YOU oppressing them soooooooo much that they would get "oghdehee" and lose their Eastern values handed down through 2500 years of civilization!!!

Girl Power! (be ayye zanben ghotelat)

Anonymous said...

This is what matters in Iran's 10th presidential elections! The Reform Agenda!

and not just who gets nominated or even who wins? but what is the VISION of Iran's Reformists in the future, which is what Grand Ayatollah Seyyed Mohammad Khatami, the Leader of Iran's Morality Drive (to be developed soon) has just written and announced for ALL Iranian politicians, Reformist and Principlist alike, to adhere to:


Even those "rational" men (oghalaa) of the rival camps CANNOT refuse to vote for a Reformist candidate now!!!!

PLEASE Reformists, make sure this man becomes Iran's 3rd Seyyed to lead the country toward its ideals, as the ONLY Valiye Faghih who can be considered a 21st Century Modern, Democratic, Liberal, and Progressive Supreme Leader of IRI.

and I think you should start by lobbying for him to become the LEADER of Iran's Morality Drive, as suggested by this great man here

وزير کشور دولت مهدي بازرگان در پاسخ به سوالي مبني بر اينکه چگونه مي‌‏توان از ظرفيت‌‏هاي خاتمي در جامعه استفاده کرد؟،گفت: وضع اخلاق جامعه بسيار نگران کننده به نظر مي‌‏رسد و يک نوع ناراحتي اخلاقي در جامعه پديدار شده است و جامعه نياز به يک معلم اخلاق دارد.
وي با تاکيد بر اينکه به دليل برخي شرايط خاص کشور نمي‌‏توان از ظرفيت‌‏هاي خاتمي در محدوده مسائل حکومتي استفاده کرد، تصريح کرد: تشکيل يک "نهاد ملي اخلاق" در جامعه ضرورت دارد و خاتمي مي‌‏تواند در راس اين نهاد قرار گيرد و معلم اخلاق جامعه شود

Khatami doosset daarim

p.s. just one little thing I wish was different about this text, and that's at the end when he says "Akhlaagh-e Mohammadi"!! but Prophet Mohammad was less of a morality teacher, I think it was Imam Ali who is considered the "Morality Teacher" of Islam, no? Isn't Imam Ali the Jesus Christ of Islam? just a question, that's all!

Anonymous said...

Listen and LEARN IRI, listen and learn!!!


Long Live Iran!

Anonymous said...

I'm sure Iranian feminists WERE indeed offended by this nonsense!!!



Anonymous said...

Dear sister
Salaam on Alaikom
Please write Ali (AS) in your article, when you write Ali with out anything ,Ali was a man but you write Ali with (AS) we know he is emam Ali.