Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Liberal Islam...

Last night I spoke at the Champaign Public Library where a member of the audience told me that in Champaign Shia and Sunni pray side by side. "Well that's really American," I replied. "We forget our pasts quickly here. We don't hold centuries-long grudges."

Once again, I spoke to a really attentive and curious, albeit small, group. I am amazed by the way many Americans are trying to understand Iran.

Today, I read this great article from Borzou Daragahi, An American Muslim in Cairo. The article reinforces what the anonymous man told us last night. Here's an excerpt:

"In college we're all one big group," he said. "In the mosque we're all together. Where I come from, there's no, 'that's the black mosque and that's the Pakistani mosque.' "

Often under the tutelage of liberal-minded clerics, he was also encouraged to question the Koran and its teachings. He found himself leery of the ways of coreligionists with roots abroad, especially the older generation. Often, he said, they tried to impose their own cultural habits as religion.

"They say a tattoo is haram," or sinful, he said. "Why? Where is that in the Koran? They say, 'Well, the prophet never had tattoos.' I say, 'Oh, do you drive a car? Did the prophet drive a car? I don't see you riding around on no camel.' "


Btw... L'shana Tova and Successful fast to my readers who celebrate Rosh HaShana or Ramadan...

10 comments:

Jessica said...

That link to the LA Times goes to an article on Rafsanjani's election. The correct link to the American Muslim in Cairo article is: http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-salahudin2sep02,0,3712913.story?page=1&coll=la-home-center

Good wishes to you on Rosh HaShana.

Tori said...

Thanks Jessica... not sure how that happened. I am changing the link now.

Anonymous said...

I missed your talk in Champaign, but I read the News-Gazette article about it and bought your book: Iran: View from Here. I appreciate what you have done in presenting a mainly accurate image of Iran and the Iranian people. This is so, because we have an industry in the US that pumps out novels and memoirs that project negative images of the country and its people. Add to this the raving of propagandists like Bill O'Reilly on Fox TV, and you have substantial filler for the gaps in anti-Iranian government propaganda.
I have one disagreement with your text, though. Your postscript (or introduction, depending on how you page through the book) by Erdbrink bases his remarks on the old canard that Iran and Iranians are nearly impossible to comprehend. Sociologically considered and in principle, this old saw is not true. The routine grounds of societal members' practical actions everywhere and always are situatedly enacted and discoverable by those who can see sociologically and know both Farsi and Iranian culture. There may be some sociological literature on this approach to Iranian studies that you might consult.
In conclusion, let me say that I am eagerly looking forward to the publication of your next book.
Truly yours,
Ron Hutchison
ron.hutchison@insightbb.com

Tori said...

Ron, Thanks for your nice comment. What Thomas Erdbrink meant is this: most people do not spend the time necessary to get to know Iranian society and culture, yet they still act like experts. I have to tell you that I met people who did not speak one word of Farsi who claimed to thoroughly understand Iranian society.

Thomas has invested a lot of time into getting to know Iran and has had to deal with a lot more "experts" than I had to. It does get tiring.

Anonymous said...

yek khab ra daram ke man nazdike meydan dar khyiabane Allameh Tabatabaii saxophone ye man minavazam ba kolaham ruye zamin baraye khurde rahgozaran. enshallah

Anonymous said...

khiyaban, that is...
Truly yours,
Ron

Anonymous said...

I guess Iranians really say "khab didam ke...

Tori said...

Ron, While we were there a group of Dutch musicians did just that. Your dream is another's reality.

Anonymous said...

I neglected to mention that, in my dream of playing saxophone in a public square on Allameh Tabatabaii Street in Tehran, I was naked. This should preserve the separation of my dream and any possible reality of others. :D
ron

Tori said...

lol

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