Friday, February 20, 2009

The Bakeri Brothers

The people of my generation who lived through the 8 year war that Saddam imposed on Iran can catch the feeling of what I am about to say. Younger generations and those living abroad might feel the distance in time and place. Its now likened to a myth for many. They ask: could such noble and altruistic people really have existed ?
Last night I attended an important commemoration ceremony for two martyrs who were courageous commanders during the war. The Bakeri brothers, Hamid and Mehdi were both renown for their leadership during the different stages of the war and their unrivalled bravery. The speaker at this session was Eng. Mir Hossein Mousavi the nation's Prime Minister at that time(1983-1989). Mr. Mousavi has refrained from appearing in public for the past two decades. But he is back now, and this is very meaningful in the dire political circumstances we face. Rumours say he might also run for Presidency. Mr. Khatami and many other high level political figures from the reformist camp attended as well. He spoke about the relevancy of the concept of martyrdom and the last wills of these martyrs for young people of this generation. He read parts of the will: We consider martyrdom as a great salvation from God and reserved for His dearest people....
He spoke on the importance of bridging the gaps with the youth who have not witnessed those days.
I think the concept of martyrdom in Islamic tradition is quite fascinating since it has proved to be a major mobilizing power for defending the faith in face of devastating circumstances such as the Crusades or in Palestine and the 8 year aggression of Saddam. The legacy of Imam Hossein remains as the major inspirational motive in this regard. It exhibits a universal message of sacrifice for Truth , Righteousness and ultimately the Creator.
There is alot of misunderstanding and abuse of this concept during our era. Some take the aspiration for martyrdom to be synonymous with suicide or some have abused the concept to promote violence and terrorism like Taliban and related organizations. Others have politicised the concept in favor of their particular political tendency.
Actually, the intention involved is the defining line. Mehdi and Hamid Bakeri like thousands of Iranian martyrs fought for freedom, independence and dignity for Iran . They however, set an example worldwide for all those who have chosen not to remain indifferent.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Joseph, The TV Series in Iran

Iranians, are now for the past few months ,entertained every Friday night with a new TV series on Joseph, the Prophet. Created according to the Quranic tradition and benefiting from common roots from Judaic and Torah teachings, the film is an attractive entity by all means.
Joseph, the son of Jacob , the son of Isac, the son of Abraham is the star of the film. Betrayed by his jealous brothers Joseph is brought up far from his family by an Egyptian aristocrat who realizes his talents and capabilities. His wife however, falls in love with Joseph and facing his refusal to betray her husband, she plots to throw him in prison for eight years. Known as Juzarsif among the Egyptians , he later becomes a key minister and advisor to the Pharoh and saves Egypt during eight years of drought.
This Quranic narration is one of the most attractive and enlightening stories of the Prophetic tradition and there is an analogy made in Islamic and Iranian literature and mysticism between the separation of Joseph from his father and the separation of the spirit from its creator. But more interesting is the analogy with the occultation of the last Imam, Mahdi. We are waiting , as Jacob was, for the appearance of the Saviour . Its also interesting to note that a film about the Children of Israel ,or Jacob is being screened on national TV at a time when Iran is accused of having an anti-Semitic approach at the global stage.
Iranian film makers have produced several successful series on Quranic tradition and Islamic history during recent years. The Virgin Mary and the Men of Angelos were films both based on narrations from the Quran ,yet related to Christian belief. It is surprising for many Christians and Jews to learn that the Holy Quran presents such detailed and vivid narrations related to their faith so firmly and proudly without any prejudice.
The direction of the film is criticised by many viewers, I also feel there are alot of weaknesses in the way Mr. Salahshour has presented the dialogues and the chain of events. The Director is also renown for his sympathy and support for the policies and line of thought of President Ahmadinejad and some people believe he is trying to draw an analogy between the President's economic plans and Joseph's policies as a propaganda strategy for the current government. We have fallen in the habit of waiting for text messages joking about Joseph and Ahmadinejad once every week.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Khatami and A Nostalgic March

I was marching in the nostalgic Azadi Avenue this morning along with millions of Iranians nationwide commemorating the 30th anniversary of the Islamic Revolution. Thirty years on the Revolution is still viable and moving forward in spite of all the pressures, obstacles and sanctions. The streets were filled with people from all walks of life, men, women ,young and old, had all taken part on the basis of their beliefs and aspirations for the future of Iran. The march was a display of the diversity that the Iranian nation harbors when it comes to defending their revolution.

The weather was mild in Tehran and everyone enjoyed the walk. We had marched this avenue during the Revolution and these demonstrations were probably the most effective method to topple the pro-American monarchial regime in 1979. Among the slogans that millions chanted under the threats and gunpoint of the Shah's regime, was " Independence! Freedom! Islamic Republic!".

Facing pressures from all corners of the country, former President Khatami has now indicated that in spite of his reluctance , he cannot remain indifferent and has decided to run for the third term. From what I know about his psyche , Khatami has no personal ambition or interest in running for Presidency. He has come to the conclusion that he should make a sacrifice to come once again for reform. A reporter from a Chinese satellite asked me what if Khatami did not win the elections. I told him Khatami had come to stand for the elections but he also had a religious and cultural agenda to bring back to life to the authentic values of the Revolution.