72 His memorial building is a gigantic project, which is intended to include a madraseh, a library, etc. At the time of my staying in Tehran there was rumours that the intended new airport should be build in a way that all airplanes would have to make a turn around his shrine, which is to be understood as a sign of respect. The Haram can furthermore be seen as a symbol for the poor, simplicity, honesty, etc., as described in the historical chapter on Tehran. It should be noted that Khomeini is not considered to be a martyr.
73 In addition to Behesht-e Zahrâ I observed various cemeteries in Lorestân province, and the picture was the same all places.
and in the dark cemetery have I been singing with you
the most beautiful songs
because this year's dead
have been the most loving living (from Ahmad Shamlu: "Public Love", in She'r-e mo'âser-e Irân (Contemporary Iranian Poetry), Tehran, 1992.
75 In Lorestân I took many pictures of the visits to the cemeteries. When, on the occasion of ending the Ministry of Health project in which UNICEF participated, I showed slides taken from Lorestân the reactions were quite harsh, some even accused me of being a spy. Among my slides especially the many pictures of the cemeteries and the gatherings there aggravated the spectators: "Does he want to show us as being backward, mordeh parast?"
Rumi has a more profound understanding of the term:
biâ tâ qadr-e yekdigar bedânimkeh tâ nâgah ze yekdigar namânim
karimân jân fadâyeh dust kardandsagi bogzâr mâ ham mardemânim
gharazhâ tireh dârad dustirâgharazhârâ cherâ az del narânim
gahi khushdel shavi az man keh miram cherâ mordeh parast u khasm-e jâni
tu ba'd-e man khâhi âshti kardhameh 'omr az ghamat dar emtehâni
konun pendâr mordam âshti konkeh dar taslim mâ chun mordegânim
chu bar guram bekhâhi buseh dâdanrukhamrâ buseh deh keh aknun hamânim Come, know the worth of each otherthat you wont suddenly depart from each other
the nobles sacrificed their soul for friendshipleave the dog, we are also humans
friendship has dark spitewhy don't we separate the spite from our hearts
after me you will reconcileall your life is a test for your sorrow
now imagine that I'm dead reconcilethat in our surrender we will be like the dead
because at my grave you will offer kisseskiss my face, now when we are together
This poem was brought to my attention through a new audio cassette release of it with the famous and popular singer Shahrâm Nâzeri.
76 I witnessed generational discussions, where the younger part pointed out that the present is what should be the basis of pride, not the past. One point of agreement was that the present under no circumstances could be considered 'great'.
77 An exception to this is the hechleh which is placed in public places for people having died chaste and innocent.
78 A "living martyr" (Shahid-e zendeh) is a person who has been fatally wounded, but who survived. Ayatollah Khâmeneh'i is a living martyr. Some were very bitter that they even had to pay for medical care themselves for injuries obtained in the war. They felt that if they could have become a martyr, the family would be good taken care of. But not so now. The burden of having survived was that nobody paid attention to them or their special needs. I did not meet any official or public criticism of these conditions, everything was expressed privately.
It has former been the policy to help war veterans getting an education (scholarship to the universities), better housing (but this is most to the martyrs' families), etc. This has caused much (implicit) criticism, such as remarks concerning the falling standard of university educations.
79Honourary title, lit. God's greatest sign, used for mojtaheds. It is only occasionally that an Ayatollah achieves almost universal authority amongst Shia and is given the title of Ayatollah-ol-ozmâ (grand-ayatollah). Such authority was attained by as many as seven mojtaheds simultaneously, including Ayatollah Khomeini, in the late 1970s.
Ardebili is often ridiculed among people because of his Turkish accent (for example: Ardebili dast-e bili, Ardebili, you are the handle of a shovel).
80 Hamshari (Fellow Citizen) is the capital's most popular newspaper. The Director in Charge of this daily is Tehran's mayor Gholam Hosain Karbaschi. The paper has many pictures of daily life in Tehran, sections especially for children (every Thursday), and is thus different from the older, more established dailies. Once Hamshari even brought the European 'top-twenty', music list, which naturally caused much criticism. The paper has a circulation of 200.000, and the mayor is often accused on various points by his critics, most important for subsidizing the colourful paper, an accusation which he however rejects.
81 These tea-houses would always be open. This was even the case in the fasting month of Ramazân. People who are on a journey are exempted from the fast, and it seems that people going kuh navardi can consider themselves being travellers. The same was the case at ski-resorts, where one could eat and drink during the day, even in the presence of Komiteh. The excuse here for not obeying the fast was the same as in the tea-houses.
82 In the country side the situation might be quite different, but one should bear in mind that I speak only about Tehran.
83 To become a Mojtahed, it is necessary to complete a rigorous and lengthy course of religious studies in one of the prestigious madresehs of Qom or Mashhad or Najaf in Iraq and to receive an authorization from a qualified mojtahed. Of equal importance, however, is either the explicit or the tacit recognition of a cleric as a mojtahed by laymen and scholars in the Shia community. Thus a cleric cannot become a mojtahed if he has no popular support.
The sense of participating out of duty was felt most clearly in another event, namely the anniversary of the Revolution (22. Bahman). One of the activities on this day is a demonstration (râhpaimâi) with speeches by among others the President. A large percentage of people coming would be soldiers, or people who were working in public offices. Those not obliged to come would stay home, the ones that because of their social position would have to go, did not seem very enthusiastic about it.
84 In his speech he formally acknowledged female sexuality, and suggested that women should feel secure enough to initiate a relationship when they feel the need. This is to be done through the institution of the temporary marriage (sighe). The same should apply to young people, who should not be dis-gratified to the age of 25-30, where today most people marry. Rather they should take advantage, without shame, of the sighe. Haeri uses this incident for an exciting analysis of the discourses of modernity and Islam (Haeri 1994).
85 My experiences of the Friday sermon here described are similar to what I experienced in Lorestân's provincial capital Khorramâbâd, and in Isfahân's provincial capital Isfahân. In the latter place it was even the "Emâm's" (Khomeini's) daughter, A'zam, who had come to speak. Also the disinterest of my host family in the event indicates that it also is among the religious strata that indifference or even resentment exist.
86 Video renting is very widespread even though it is illegal. The man renting out films will likely come weekly to your workplace or to your neighbourhood with an attache-briefcase filled with videos. The rent is very reasonable (less than 1$ per film), and it is often the newest American movies one can rent. I had thus seen many film on my return to Denmark that had not yet been shown in the Danish cinemas.
As an experiment, some of the mosques started to rent out foreign video-films. It thus became possible to rent "Batman" in the mosque, with Persian dubbing, or Persian sub-titles. This has been one of the consequences of a heated debate concerning the legality of satellite antennas, which finally, in the spring of 1995, has been ruled to be illegal. With the video-clubs it is maybe hoped to counter, or rather to control, this orientation towards the Western film and entertainment.
Another measure to counter the orientation towards Western films and entertainment has been to open a new television channel which focus on sport and entertainment. At the time being it is only broadcasting some few hours each day.
87 Much of the contemporary poetry which is published or republished is surprisingly pessimistic and critical in its views on society. One example would be Mehdi Akhavân-e Sâlez' "Zamestân" (Winter) which is composed in 1956-57. It was re-released on an audio-cassette (performed with music, song by Sharâm Nâzeri, and recitation by the poet himself) in 1991 or 1992.
88 Meisami elaborates, and says that a rend also can be described as a "drinker of wine, poet, lover, and something of a philosopher as well, who embodies the virtues of independence, honesty, compassion, and total dedication to love, and who has reached the state of contentment denied to the ascetic and his ilk because of their preoccupation with the affairs of the world. The rend...celebrates life with wine." She adds: "The rends were 'brotherhoods' which practised the virtues connected with chivalry and courtesy and opposed themselves, through their assumption of the guise of libertinism, to the interests of the religious hierarchy." (Julie Scott Meisami: "The World's Pleasance: Hâfiz's Allegorical Gardens," Comparative Criticism 5 (1983); p.172 and 184 cited in Hillmann 1990; p.207-208).
89 See for example Eickelman 1981, pp.234-239, Beeman 1988, or Hillmann 1981 for a description of the importance of the Iranian ta'âruf (which roughly can be translated as "etiquette").
90 Fischer & Abedi (1993) has printed a "counter-poem" to one of Khomeini's most famous poems which clearly shows the ridicule, namely the:
Man be khâl-e labet ey dust gereftâr shodam
Cheshm bimâr torâ didam o bimâr shodam, etc. I was caught by the beauty spot about your lip
I saw your beautiful eyes, and became sick, etc.
91 From time to time demonstrations occur, but they are generally directed towards specific conditions, not towards the general setup of the society. These demonstrations are never very big, and seemingly also tightly controlled by the authorities. Also they can not qualify as a ritualized activity while they indeed are very irregular.
92 Approximately a month before Châhârshanbe Suri in 1994 the interior minister Besharati as well as the prosecutor general and the police commander held a meeting with the security council during which it was decided that producers of fireworks and hooligans would be confronted decisively by the police. They state that the reason is that every year, several people, especially children, are hurt in the celebrations and hospitals are filled with injured kids. The officials are also concerned about illegitime encounters between boys and girls during this ceremony which is indeed a suitable opportunity in this regard (Ghazi, Feb.12-18 1994, vol.7,no.7, pp.4-5).
93 Originally this was "seven shin", but wine (sharâb) was always included on the table, and the letter Shin (sh) was thus in early Islamic times changed to the letter Sin (s).
94 It could be mentioned that the project I was participating in together with UNICEF and Ministry of Health and Medical Education was delayed nearly one month because of - novruz holidays.
95 The existence today of two competing groups in the majles (parliament) also attests to the rightness of this view. Generally the two groups, competing for power, are called radicals and moderates. Both group declare themselves to be faithful and militant followers of the khat-e Emâm (Emâm's line). The radicals are mostly members of "Society of Militant Clergy", while the moderates mostly are members of the "Association of the Militant Clergy."
Today the moderates are in power, and they are trying to take all influence from the radicals. The radicals are trying to stick to the discourse as the protector of the weak, while the moderates are referring to Khomeini's statements about the right to private property (see Abrahamian 1993; pp.132-143 for a more detailed description of these circumstances).