Previous posts in this discussion:
PostWhy Muslims Pray on Parking Lots (Massoud Malek, USA, 03/08/15 12:20 pm)
In case this post will see the light of day in WAISdom, I expect to be crucified by some who try to convince us that there is no difference between saying Iran is a barbaric country and the barbaric acts committed by the government of Iran.
By the way, Iran doesn't help terrorist groups in Afghanistan.
No one blames Christianity for the barbaric acts of Hitler and his officers. The Italian Mafia terrorizes the world with its barbaric acts, but nobody says that Italy is a barbaric country. The atrocities committed by Italian Fascism and Mussolini (admired by Eugenio Battaglia) are well-known. As I wrote before, Mussolini's invading soldiers murdered thousands of civilians, bombed the Red Cross, dropped poison gas, starved infants in concentration camps and tried to annihilate cultures deemed inferior.
Trust me, the discussion about Islam in this high-minded Forum has a racist tone. In the last few days, I read that Islamic countries do not treat Christians and Jews very well or Muslims are free to pray in a parking lot in the US, but Christians would go to prison if they pray in a Muslim country! Also, there was a claim that Muslims students pray in parking lots because they want to show off.
I have two Muslim students who pray in the hall before the start of class, because they must pray before sunset. Muslims may even pray while riding a horse, but they are not allowed to wash their feet in toilet bowls before praying.
Does Luciano Dondero know that Trotsky, who barely finished high school and became Lenin's Guru, enslaved the entire populations of Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Armenia, Georgia, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Ukraine, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan with his distorted Marxism? Is there any difference between Daesh and the Soviet Union created by Trotsky?
Have you ever been to the Islamic countries of Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan (70% Muslims), Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Turkey, Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Iraq, Syria (before our involvement), Indonesia, and Iran? Do Christians who visit the Pyramids end up in prison?
I would like to invite WAISers to visit the Muslim country of Iran and see for themselves that Iranians don't hate or mistreat Christians, Jews, Hindus, or Buddhists; on the contrary, they often invite tourists on the street to their home. A small number of Baha'is may be persecuted by the government of Iran, but not by the Iranian people. I assure Vincent Littrell that he will be treated quite well by Iranians.
Iranians do not hate Americans or Israelis. Chanting death to America or death to Israel has no meaning to more than 95% of Iranians. They don't even hate Iraqis who fought against them for eight years. While America has no intention to sacrifice its soldiers on the ground in Iraq, Iranians are fighting the barbaric state of Daesh to liberate Iraqi cities like Tikrit and hopefully save some archeological sites.
JE comments: Some years ago I wrote on WAIS that I would like to visit Iran. I even "promised" to do so in 2010--but that summer worked out differently. I still plan to visit Iran someday; it's the WAISly thing to do.
Islam and Racism
(Anthony J Candil, USA
03/11/15 9:13 AM)
I deeply disagree with Massoud Malek's comments (most recently, 8 March) about the WAIS discussion on Islamism having a racist tone.
No one as far as I can recall has mentioned the word "race," and it is pretty disturbing that Massoud sees it that way.
The problem with Islam is that in the bottom of their hearts Islamists divide the world in two: Muslims and the rest. Islam as I see it is more than a religion. It is a culture, a philosophy, a way of living. It's politics, it's even a way of warfare, it's a legal system and it's a financial system too. And that's the problem.
Because Islam, no matter what Massoud says about the wonderful society in Iran, does not accept others. They tolerate others as long as they have to, but when the moment should arrive they will annihilate those others. It is written so; is it not? Is there anything more racist than this?
And that's why Islam destroys monuments and reminders of ancient cultures: to obliterate any trace of a different past. It is my belief that this is the "true" Islam.
Regimes such as the present one in Iran, or others in Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, Morocco and so forth are not truly Islamic and even if different among them, they are just trying to cope. They are what we call "Islamic moderates," but the blatant truth is that there is no such thing. There is one Islam only and that's why ISIS has arisen. To set up a new course.
Why does Iran want the bomb? (Well, I should say the Iranian regime.) Maybe to set up new course too, hence the threats against Israel.
Without entering into the debate of Mr Netanyahu and the US Congress, the truth is that Israel is like an island in the middle of a sea surrounded by enemies. And it is the sole representative of western civilization in the Middle East. That's why its enemies want to destroy it. Israel is a continuous reminder to Islam of the Jewish and Christian religions, a reminder of a God who is not theirs, no matter what we discussed recently.
That's why the Arab-Israeli conflict is a never-ending story. It transcends the Palestinian issue and goes much further. I saw recently a TV program with Anthony Bourdain about Israel, and it is very clear when an elder Arab says, "one day, my son, my grandson, my granddaughter, someone will kill them all." It is Islam against the West.
Can anyone imagine the Middle East without Israel? Would it be peaceful then? On the contrary, whenever Islam was reigning they ventured into war against the West. Think of the Turks. When they were truly Islamic, they went into the Mediterranean, the Balkans, Greece and even to present-day Austria.
Islam is to me the only "religion" that makes me uneasy. Because it's more than a religion and it threatens my way of life.
I never felt a similar situation with Hinduism, Buddhism or any other religion. And it is true what Vincent Littrell says, they prosecute not only Christians but every faith on earth that is not theirs.
It is very difficult to remain passive on this. Our founding fathers when the US Constitution was written never thought for a second about Islam as a religion to be taken into account. The United States is a Christian country, no doubt about it, and it was established as such. Our traditions are all Christian, no matter what, and it is a pity that just for some stupid misconceptions we now prefer to say "Seasons Greetings" than "Merry Christmas" not to offend others, mainly the ones who say they are Muslim.
I think there are now about 8 million Muslim people in the United States and maybe this is going to be a problem for all. Not because of "race"; no. It's just because they embrace a different culture, a different way of life, a different justice, and so on.
It is truly the clash of civilizations that Samuel Huntington was speaking about.
One quick postscript to Massoud: when he said that "Iran does not help terrorist groups in Afghanistan," this is not true. Iran clearly helps and provides support to Taliban terrorist groups in Afghanistan. It has been found that many IEDs placed against US and Allied forces in Afghanistan were either produced in Iran or had components supplied by Iran.
The US Army has plenty of evidence of what I'm saying. I believe this evidence was even presented to the House of Representatives sometime in the past.
JE comments: I'm going to distance myself from this post, as Anthony Candil presents a way too monolithic view of a complex and diverse religion/culture. However, I will second Anthony's insistence that Islam not be considered a "race" issue. The last time I checked, there are Muslims (like Christians) of every conceivable color and ethnicity.
Regarding "Season's Greetings" (in lieu of "Merry Christmas"), I always thought it came about not to offend Jewish people.
(Anthony J Candil, USA
03/13/15 3:01 AM)
A quick remark on JE's comment on my post of 11 March.
The trend towards replacing "Merry Christmas" with "Season's Greetings" is relatively modern. I will say even that it is post 9/11.
I don't think it is addressed to the Jewish community. Maybe it has a more global meaning addressed to all faiths. But certainly if there is one single community used to living for ages with Christmas celebrations, it is the Jewish community.
Jews and Christians are not so far apart as it may appear. In the end we have to take into account that "half of the Bible" is common to both. Well, I mean that the Old Testament is part of both confessions.
I won't make more comments on other confessions to avoid accusations of being "monolithic" (it's Ok), but what is obvious is obvious.
Ramadan is respected; however it is not much celebrated by non-Muslims, at least here in the US. But does anyone know a single Muslim country where Christmas celebrations are respected? No, if anything they must take place indoors and quietly and in almost complete secrecy. And for Vincent Littrell, no, we don't have to behave in the same way because they don't, but at least we Christians deserve respect and recognition.
In the end maybe Lenin was right: "religion is the opium of people." How much killing should take place in the name of God, no matter which God?
JE comments: How much killing should take place in the name of God? My naive response is "none."
I spent a few minutes on Wikipedia on Season's Greetings and the related (and even more generic) expression, Happy Holidays. It turns out that both expressions long predate 9/11, and go back further than I originally thought. President Eisenhower sent "Season's Greetings" cards in 1955, and Happy Holidays was common already by the 1942 Irving Berlin song, "Happy Holiday."
And I know Muslims who respect Christmas. Aldona and I had Christmas dinner several years ago with WAISer Muqtedar Khan, a Muslim, and I remember that the only "congratulatory" text message I received that day was from a Jordanian Muslim friend.
Muqtedar has been silent on WAIS for way too long. (I just checked: a year and seven days.) I'm going to send him a pestering e-mail and ask for an update.
"Religion is the Opium of the People"
(Timothy Brown, USA
03/16/15 2:09 AM)
Regarding Marx's famous dictum (see Anthony Candil, 13 March), I once heard a faculty colleague say, sotto voce, in a riposte to another colleague's use of this quote, "and Marxism is the cocaine of the intelligentsia."
JE comments: I am reminded of a men's room graffiti from my Dartmouth days. Forgive me if I posted it before:
"God is dead." --Nietzsche
"Nietzsche is dead." --God
"Nietzsche is God." --The Dead (as in the Grateful Dead)
Tuition dollars at work.
- Islam and Prejudice (Massoud Malek, USA 03/14/15 3:40 PM)
Happy Birthday to John E! [Thank you, Massoud, and thanks to the dozen or so other WAISers who have written today--JE]
When I joined WAIS, I never expected that my faith, my culture, and my way of life would be considered the most disgusting faith, culture, and way of life on the planet. Now I realize that as a wild-eyed enraged bull, I could open the road to Armageddon. I am told that I was born for only one purpose. To annihilate over six billion people.
On 11 March, Anthony J Candil, who is uneasy about Islam because it threatens his way of life, wrote:
"Because Islam, no matter what Massoud says about the wonderful society in Iran, does not accept others. They tolerate others as long as they have to, but when the moment should arrive they will annihilate those others. It is written so; is it not? Is there anything more racist than this?"
Isn't the above statement extremely prejudicial toward Muslims? Anthony calls the entire Muslim population in the world racist and intolerant! He tells us that it is a fact that Muslims want to annihilate others!
[AC]: "Why does the Iranian regime want the bomb? Maybe to set up new course too, hence the threats against Israel."
Soon after its founding in 1948, Israel with French support secretly began building a nuclear reactor and reprocessing plant in the late 1950s in Dimona. Israel is alleged to have built its first nuclear weapon in December 1966. In 1986, Mordechai Vanunu, a former Israeli nuclear technician, provided explicit details and photographs to the Sunday Times of a nuclear weapons program in which he had been employed for nine years, "including equipment for extracting radioactive material for arms production and laboratory models of thermonuclear devices." It should be noted that the Israelis are developing the kind of codes which will enable them to make hydrogen bombs." Estimates as to the size of the Israeli nuclear arsenal vary between 75 and 400 nuclear warheads.
The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute estimates that Israel has approximately 80 intact nuclear weapons, of which 50 are for delivery by Jericho II medium-range ballistic missiles and 30 are gravity bombs for delivery by aircraft.
Does Anthony really believe that Iran is working on a nuclear bomb to annihilate Israel? I guess Israel obtained its nuclear weapons just to spread peace on Earth.
[AC]: "Israel is the sole representative of Western civilization in the Middle East. That's why its enemies want to destroy it."
Israel is not the sole representative of Western civilization in the Middle East. It is actually violating all the principles of Western civilization. What Israelis are doing to Palestinians is far from the teachings of Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle.
Since the inception of Israel, Palestinian people became their slaves. Contrary to the Jews of Egypt, Palestinians could not cross the Red Sea to free themselves from the Israeli chains. Palestine is their homeland. They are not occupying their own land.
[AC]: "It is true what Vincent Littrell says, they [Muslims] prosecute not only Christians but every faith on earth that is not theirs."
The Baha'i faith is rooted in Persian Shi'ism and philosophy. Many of the institutions of Shi'ism were carried forward into the Baha'i faith.
On 12 March, Luciano Dondero brought to WAISers' attention an article by Daniel Pipes, someone who feels the same way about Muslims as Anthony does.
Pipes made it his life's work to convince the Western world that there can be no bargaining with Muslims. As a major proponent of the Iraq invasion, he said:
"I think contrary to the deposing of the Taliban regime with few implications, the deposition of Saddam Hussein will have vast implications on every sort of level. On militant Islam, the energy market, the Israeli conflict, the general problem of the Arab states modernizing, you name it, it'll be a large event."
According to the Council on American-Islamic Relations, Pipes "has exhibited a troubling bigotry toward Muslims and Islam" and possesses a "history of hostility toward Muslims in general and to the American Muslim community in particular." In response, Pipes told Salon: "David Duke looks nice, presents himself well, but as soon as he opens his mouth, you see he's a wild-eyed maniac. Well, so are these people."
See also: http://www.danielpipes.org/971/special-report-talks-to-the-experts
[AC]: "It is truly the clash of civilizations that Samuel Huntington was speaking about."
Daniel Pipes: "The idea of the Muslims as the outstanding threat to Western civilization is not entirely new. As early as 1984, Leon Uris explained that his purpose in writing The Haj, a novel, 'was to warn the West and Western democracies that you can't keep your head in the sand about this situation any longer, that we have an enraged bull of a billion people on our planet, and tilted the wrong way they could open the second road to Armageddon.'"
[AC]: "I think there are now about 8 million Muslim people in the United States and maybe this is going to be a problem for all. Not because of 'race;' no. It's just because they embrace a different culture, a different way of life, a different justice, and so on."
Muslims place a high value on education; many are highly educated with Master's degrees and PhDs; and many Muslims speak multiple languages. Forty percent of American Muslims hold a college degree; they're the second most educated group after Jews.
In 1990, Pipes wrote in the National Review that given European attitudes they "are unprepared for the massive immigration of brown-skinned peoples cooking strange foods and maintaining different standards of hygiene ... Should Muslims fail to modernize, their stubborn record of illiteracy, poverty, intolerance, and autocracy will continue, and perhaps worsen."
Muslims must wash their face, head, arms, and feet, five times a day. Soon after a sexual act, Muslims must wash their entire body. Fourteen centuries ago, Muhammad told his followers to brush their teeth daily.
JE comments: Re: Pipes's prediction about the 2003 invasion of Iraq: "It'll be a large event." He got that right.
- Islam and Racism; on the "Sword Verses" (Vincent Littrell, USA 03/16/15 6:30 AM)
On March 11 Anthony Candil stated that "Islam does not accept others. [Muslims] tolerate others as long as they have to, but when the moment should arrive they will annihilate those others. It is written so; is it not? Is there anything more racist than this?"
My response: Islam is a universal religion that recognizes the beauty and spiritual nature of all human beings, no matter their religion. In Islam all human beings must be seen through the lens of God's all-encompassing reality and thus as being from God. Being creations of God, no matter their choice of belief, the station of the human being is one of tremendous importance in Islamic theology. For this reason, tolerance and non-compulsion in belief are strongly set forth in the Qur'an and traditions of Islam. (This doesn't mean political equality necessarily, though "the pact of Medina" in early Islamic history might point to that as well.)
Very many Muslims view the revelation of the Prophet Muhammad as the final revelation until the day of resurrection, and consider that the Qur'an supersedes past "books of God." However, Muslims are enjoined to not compel other peoples of other religions to become Muslim and are to live in harmony with them until "the end of times" when, in the belief of many Muslims, the truth will become apparent to all.
Here are some Qur'anic quotes that point to an acceptance of diversity of religion:
"And if God had pleased He had surely made you all one people; but He would test you by what He hath given to each. Be emulous, then, in good deeds. To God shall ye all return, and He will tell you concerning the subjects of your disputes." (The Qur'an (Rodwell tr), Sura 5 - The Table)
"But if thy Lord had pleased, verily all who are in the earth would have believed together. What! Wilt thou compel men to become believers? No soul can believe but by the permission of God: and he shall lay his wrath on those who will not understand." (The Qur'an (Rodwell tr), Sura 10:99-100 - Jonah)
"We know best what the infidels say: and thou art not to compel them." (The Qur'an (Rodwell tr), Sura 50:45 - Kaf)
"Let there be no compulsion in Religion." (The Qur'an (Rodwell tr), Sura 2:256 - The Cow)
Back in 2006 I wrote the following on this subject:
[VL-2006]: Muslim scholars utilize the Qur'an to show that Islam is not adverse to interfaith dialogue [or "religious others" VL-2015]. Despite the verses of the Qur'an that enjoin Muslims to fight others, including peoples of the book (but such verses have to be read with historical context in mind and even esoterically), there are a large number of Qur'anic verses that enjoin tolerance, spirituality, and even interfaith dialogue according to many interpretations.* I did state in a past posting that the entirety of the Qur'an, according to one eminent Muslim scholar whose lecture I attended, cannot be understood without understanding the first line of 113 of the 114 Surahs which states, "In the Name of God, The Compassionate, The Merciful."
*[VL-2015]: These are the "sword verses," which of course many Islamophobic writers and anti-Islamic polemicists seem to put great focus on without an attempt at holistic understanding or historical contextualization of the entirety of the Qur'an. Such critics seem to accept the extremist viewpoints on the concept of "abrogation of verses," which some extremist Muslims believe put the "sword verses" in a hugely inappropriate if not utterly divisive exaggerated place of importance. Moreover, they are in turn used by the anti-Islamic polemicists to further their own attacks on all of Islam.
[VL-2006] Muslim scholar Dr. Reza Shah-Kazemi is one of many who presents Qur'anic verses that support the notion of interfaith dialogue and Islam's tolerance towards other religions. In his article "The Metaphysics of Interfaith Dialogue: A Qur'anic Perspective" (See: http://www.iis.ac.uk/view_article.asp?ContentID=101259 ; I also highly recommend a perusal of Dr. Shah-Kazemi's other research and writing on tolerance and pluralism in Islam.)
Dr. Shah-Kazemi quotes the following Surah as representative of Islam's inherent tolerance:
"O mankind! We created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that ye may know each other (not that ye may despise each other). Verily the most honored of you in the sight of Allah is (he who is) the most righteous of you. And God has full knowledge and is well acquainted (with all things)." (Surah 49:13)
Dr. Shah-Kazemi presents the above Surah as proof of Islam's tolerance, divine ordainment of human diversity, necessity for dialogue, and the principle of peaceful co-existence.
"To God belongs the East and the West; whithersoever ye turn, there is the presence of God. For God is All-Pervading, All-Knowing." (Surah 2:115)
"He is with you wherever ye be." (Surah 57:4) "Is He not encompassing all things?" (Surah 41:54)
"He is the first and the last, the outward and the inward." (Surah 57:2)
Dr. Shah-Kazemi points out that the above Surahs have deeply spiritual connotations that at one level may be interpreted as emphasizing the absolute unity of God. Thus a metaphysical unity that transcends any notion of religious pluralism exists. God is in all things and beings. Thus the principle of God's unity alone requires man to look beyond the surface and to recognize the divine in all. Muslims are therefore to have a profound respect for the other, as the divine is present in that other. Dr. Shah-Kazemi says that it is in the above verses that the spiritual foundations of courtesy are to be found, that "tolerance is organically related to the divine presence in all things, an apprehension of the inner holiness of all that exists."
See my original 2006 post at: http://www.waisworld.org/go.jsp?id=02a&objectType=post&o=10173&objectTypeId=4423&topicId=1
An 2015 postscript: Here is a quote from Letter 53 of the Nahj al-Balaagha, thought by many to have been written by Ali, Muhammad's son-in-law, who is the first Imam and spiritual successor to Muhammad in the Shi'a belief and the fourth "rightly guided" Caliph of Sunni Islam. This excerpt is thought to be from a letter from the Caliph Ali to his governor of Egypt on the ethics of governing:
"Maalik! You must create in your mind kindness, compassion and love for your subjects. Do not behave towards them as if you are a voracious and ravenous beast and as if your success lies in devouring them. Remember, Maalik, that amongst your subjects there are two kinds of people: those who have the same religion as you have; they are brothers to you, and those who have religions other than that of yours, they are human beings like you. Men of either category suffer from the same weaknesses and disabilities that human beings are inclined to, they commit sins, indulge in vices either intentionally or foolishly and unintentionally without realizing the enormity of their deeds. Let your mercy and compassion come to their rescue and help in the same way and to the same extent that you expect Allah to show mercy and forgiveness to you."
JE comments: Might the Quranic "sword verses" be comparable to the "smite and smote" passages of the Old Testament? My question for Vincent Littrell: how do we determine when a specific scriptural passage is being given "exaggerated" importance? More precisely: who gets to make this judgment?
- An Iranian Song; from Gary Moore (John Eipper, USA 03/18/15 1:57 PM)
JE: Our reader Gary Moore (Memphis, Tennessee) sends this question for Massoud Malek:
I'd like to respond to the admirable challenge posed by Massoud
Malek on 8 March, when he urged that discourse look at the real Iran, and not
just its government.
I'd like to try opening such discussion through a song--a vibrant fragment of the
secular Iran that refuses to die.
Written in the early 1950s, the song has become a standard, called by some the most
beautiful song ever written in Persian. Moreover, it's surrounded by an interesting nebula
of underground belief. The song is "Mara Beboos" ("Kiss Me"). As preamble, before I get
to the underground belief, I have a theory based on the striking similarity of theme and
phonetics in this song to another which was, shortly beforehand during World War II, called
the most popular song in the world. That one, from quite a different culture, was "Bésame
Mucho," the lovers' farewell song in a time of departing troops--written by a female composer,
pianist Consuelo Velazquez of Guadalajara and Mexico City. This forms only a background
echo as we move to the beliefs surrounding "Mara Beboos," half a world away, and written
in a melody distinctly Persian, which, at least on the surface, was not at all like the melody
of "Bésame Mucho."
The beliefs can be tested in conversation with many Iranians, who can explain that,
secretly, this sad Persian song of lovers' farewell was written by an Iranian general
in the early-1950s political tragedies, at a shocking moment. The general was said
to be in prison and about to be executed for complicity in a Communist coup. Supposedly
he wrote the song not to a lover but to his small daughter.
Music experts tend to say there is no evidence for this, and that the song, as always officially
reported, was simply the product of two talented commercial collaborators, Majid Vafadar and Heidar Raghabi (as originally performed by Hasan Golnaraghi). Yet the belief is so strong that it seems to successfully carry a message of some sort, a cross-cultural beacon, in the way that Freud said dreams were disguised messages. Could Massoud help me out here, and enlighten my abysmal ignorance of the specifics?
Is the message simply that the experts are wrong, and that the song really was connected to political troubles? Or is there something deeper that insists on the song as a nostalgic reminder of roads not taken, of the secular (or even anti-religious) Iran that might have been? Is the appeal of the myth--or of the buried truth--simply that of melodrama and intrigue? Or does it encode a mist-enshrouded bridge between theocracy and elemental secular romance?
Okay, too many abstracts. Simply put: What are the real origins of this great Iranian song?
And if they are unspectacular, then why do so many people firmly believe otherwise, reciting
the story about the doomed military man as unquestionable fact? I hope Massoud can help me out in this adventure, the crossing between worlds.
JE comments: And I'll add a question: is "Mara Beboos" still as popular under the Islamic Republic? I'll confess to not knowing the song, but here's Hasan Golnaraghi's rendition on YouTube.
It's a gripping, mournful melody. "Bésame mucho," I believe, is my Polish father-in-law's favorite song.
Golnaraghi's "Mara Beboos"
(Massoud Malek, USA
03/19/15 2:50 AM)
In response to Gary Moore (18 March), Hassan Golnaraghi had an antique shop in the Bazaar of Tehran and never sang in public. He became an overnight success by singing his first and only song, called "Mara Beboos." He sang the song right after the CIA coup that removed Prime Minister Mossadegh from power and brought back the Shah.
It was rumored that Mohammad Ali Mobasheri, a lieutenant colonel of the artillery and a leader of the Tudeh (Communist) Party, wrote the song in his last meeting with his daughter, the night before his execution in October 1954.
Several years later, in an interview, Golnaraghi said that the song was written by a professor of Persian literature by the name of Heydar Reghabi who admired Mossadegh. But most people didn't believe him, including my parents.
Mara Beboos was popular in the '50s and '60s. Golnaraghi died in 1993. He was 68.
Here are some of the lyrics:
Kiss me, kiss me
For one last time
Our spring has passed
The bygones are bygones
I am in search of destiny
In the midst of storm, among boatmen
One must move forward, at the risk of life
In the dark of the night I meet with my beloved
To light up the mountains with fire
I am your guest tonight
I will stay with you
To press your lips against mine
Kiss me, Kiss me, my pretty flower
For one last time
May God be with you
For I go toward my destiny
JE comments: Beautiful lyrics; beautiful song. Here, once again, is the link to Golnaraghi's performance. Massoud: given its supposed communist (and very un-Islamic) origins, is "Mara Beboos" tolerated in Iran today?
How many of you would be inspired to compose music on the eve of your execution?
Music Across Cultures: "Mara Beboos"; from Gary Moore
(John Eipper, USA
03/20/15 11:09 AM)
JE: Gary Moore responds to Massoud Malek (19 March):
My thanks to Massoud for his considerate reply to my question on the Iranian song "Mara Beboos." Moreover, John Eipper's postscript helped to pinpoint the underlying questions: Is this very secular song still popular in Iran today?
I've never met an Iranian expat who didn't know it (and some know both stanzas by heart, and sang it with me), but this doesn't define its standing within Iran, which could help show the size of the breathing space allowed to secular culture--perhaps larger than the stereotypes suppose.
Very helpful in Massoud's reply were the specifics on the song's origins, and how it came to be surrounded by a story that seems diametrically opposed to theocracy--that is, that the song was secretly written by a Tudeh (communist party) martyr, and hence its beloved sentiments came from the most secular of sources. In other explanations I had heard less specifically about the prior obscurity of the 1950s singer, Hassan Golnaraghi, in comments like: "He had a bakery or something. He had never been a singer before. He came out of nowhere with this song."
I hadn't realized that a key link was in the author credit at the beginning. When the song was originally presented, and became a smash hit, was its authorship left vague, or presumed to be by Golnaraghi himself? I had assumed that the lyricist's name on the record had always said Heidar Reghabi (plus the musical composer), but if there was a hiatus of a few years before Golnaraghi added this information, it would help explain an aura of mystery that the story about secret authorship would address. I wonder if Massoud can direct me toward sources where I might try to explore those early days, and perhaps the song's recording history.
The English renderings in the song are various, but if I'm not mistaken, the phrase "dokhtare ziva" can be rendered not as "pretty flower" but as "pretty daughter"--adding credence to the stories about secret authorship, claiming that there was a hidden layer of meaning--in a song not really to a lover but to a beloved little daughter on a condemned man's last night. Also the line about boatmen in a storm, in some renderings, more strongly suggests the communist ideal of New Men pulling together through stormy sacrifice.
Maybe it would be instructive to hear more about how Massoud's parents viewed the song, and on what context they formulated their conviction, as he pointed out, that the story of secret authorship was true.
It's frustrating that these questions require so much context and sound so abstruse. They aim at something very simple.
JE comments: Although our discussions are not as frequent as before, I've learned an enormous amount about Iran during my eight years at WAIS. Many of our Iranian correspondents have stressed that there is significantly more cultural wiggle room than Westerners commonly believe. Incidentally, WAIS receives a number of "hits" from within the IRI. (If any of you are reading this post, please drop me a line. I'd love to hear from you.)
Gary Moore's question begs a more politicized one: what is the current regime's take on the Mossadegh years? I would assume there's ambivalence. Mossadegh was a secular communist (bad), but also staunchly against Western imperialism.
Music Across Cultures: "Mara Beboos" and Mossadegh
(Massoud Malek, USA
03/22/15 6:39 AM)
In response to Gary Moore (20 March), I don't think there is much to add about "Mara Beboos." The song was popular in the 1950s and '60s, and now is almost forgotten. Young Iranians don't even know about the song, so the Mullahs have nothing to do with it. There are infinitely many Iranian songs with more beautiful lyrics. Some are from the poems of Hafez, Rumi, and other great poets.
Khomeini wrote some beautiful poems about love and wine. Here are two poems:
I will be a moth, burning,
burning all my life in her candle.
I will be drunk with wine,
marveling at her beautiful face.
For love's sake the veil
of chastity I'll tear.
Infamy, should the friend's path
entail is the loveliest thing to bear.
By the way, Mossadegh was not a communist. He actually had problems with them. Mossadegh is known in the West for nationalizing Iranian oil, but he did more for Iran than any other man. He was one the greatest reformers; his goal was to make Iran both economically and politically independent from the West and the Soviet Union. He gave more power to the ordinary people by curtailing the power of landlords, the military, and the Shah.
When he resigned in 1952, the whole Iran became paralyzed with strikes and street demonstrations. Five days later, the Shah was forced to reappoint him as the Prime Minister.
JE comments: How do we explain Khomeini's erotic poetry? His collection (in English) is called The Wine of Love. We don't associate erotic love, and much less wine, with the Ayatollahs.
- Music Across Cultures: "Mara Beboos" and Mossadegh (Massoud Malek, USA 03/22/15 6:39 AM)
- Music Across Cultures: "Mara Beboos"; from Gary Moore (John Eipper, USA 03/20/15 11:09 AM)
- Islam and Prejudice (Massoud Malek, USA 03/14/15 3:40 PM)
- "Religion is the Opium of the People" (Timothy Brown, USA 03/16/15 2:09 AM)
- Season's Greetings (Anthony J Candil, USA 03/13/15 3:01 AM)