GETTING TO KNOW THE BEAUTY
PEOPLE OF IRAN
Compiled by Nancy B. Detweiler, M.Ed., M.Div.
“Iran is one of the world’s oldest civilizations and has been among the world’s most thoughtful and complex civilizations from the very beginning. There are aspects of Iranian civilization that, in one way or another, have touched almost every human being on the planet.”[i]
IRAN = PERSIA
Iran is the political name – Persia is the cultural name.
TRADITIONAL PERSIAN TEAHOUSES
Tea House in Shiraz, Iran – the city of roses, nightingales, wine, and poets.
Wine, as is all alcohol, is banned under Islamic law.
http://www.transitionsabroad.com/listings/travel/narrative_travel_writing/saffron-and-nukes.shtml At this site, Nancy Penrose shares her story of touring Iran in 2008.
Teahouses are scattered throughout Iran.
Gardens are created as a symbol of paradise—a place for spiritual reflection. Water is a vital part of the garden as it is a metaphor for looking into one’s Soul. In the garden, an individual can meditate while feeling a sense of sacredness and tranquility.[ii]
Gardens play an important role in Iran, where much of the land is arid. Moving water—as in a waterfall or fountain–adds humidity as well as creating the sounds that enhance a meditative state.
“No one can inspire humans with hope like Mother Nature and nowhere can she playfully display the greater extent of her will than in the garden of human mind…. Persian worldview and culture does not regard humans sans Nature. Islamic teachings consider Nature as a bed of signs that display the power of the creator of this world and therefore a source of meditation and wonder. A forerunner of world gardens, the Persian garden is a sanctuary where the creative forces of humans and Nature merge into another. Building gardens is an ancient art in Iran which includes its very own traditions as a material and spiritual representation.” [iii]
Architecture can be an important part of the Persian Garden. Graceful arches play an important role. Iranian architects use to build domes on square buildings.
Garden of Eden Persian Garden
“By the … soul, and Him who perfected it and inspired it with conscience of what is wrong for it and right for it…. He is indeed successful who causes it to grow, and he is indeed a failure who stunts it.” Islam. Qur’an 91.7-10
“Train yourself in godliness; for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.” Christianity. I Timothy 4:7-8
“The Holy One gives wisdom only to him who has wisdom.” Judaism. Talmud, Berakot 55a
“Iranians speak Persian, an Indo-European language, in the midst of the Arabic-speaking Middle East…. Since the 1979 revolution, Iranian women have been subject to one of the most restrictive dress codes in the Islamic world, yet partly in consequence, Iranian families have released their daughters to study and work in unprecedented numbers. More than sixty percent of students entering university now are female, and many women—even married—have professional jobs.” [iv]
Schools are presently segregated.
School girls on a field trip to Chelhel Sotun Palace in Esfahan, Iran
Boys on a school field trip to Imam Square in Esfahan, Iran
EMPIRE OF THE MIND
“The deeper, reflective, humane Iran is still there beneath the threatening media headlines. Iranian cinema is one of the most remarkable phenomena of the country since the revolution . Banned from the themes of violence and sex regarded by Hollywood as indispensable, Iran has produced a cinema of unique poetic artistry and universal appeal that has won many international prizes. [Some of these films are] The Apple, 10, Taste of Cherry, The Circle, Blackboards, and Colour of God. Many of these films develop subjects dealing with the mistreatment of women, the vulnerability of children, the effects of war, the distortions of Iranian politics and society, and other themes critical or tending to be critical of the Islamic regime.”
“Iran and Persian culture have been hugely influential in world history. Repeatedly, what Iran has thought today, the rest of the world (or significant parts of it) has believed tomorrow. At various stages Iran has truly been an Empire of the Mind, and in a sense it still is—Iranian culture continues to hold together an ethnically and linguistically diverse nation.” [v]
PEOPLE OF IRAN/PERSIA
Old Town in Yazd, Iran
“Being American makes you the most popular kid in the village” – 2008.
Rick Steves shares his experience in Iran, where “the murals are mean, yet the people are friendly.”
“Locals – quick to smile for the camera of a new American friend” – Persepolis, Iran
“Woman in bookstore gave me a free book.”
“The most treasured souvenir of a trip to Iran: memories of its people.”
“Those who act kindly in this world will have kindness.” Islam. Qur’an 39.10
“Be kind to one another.” Christianity. Ephesians 4:32
“The world stands upon three things: upon the Law, upon worship, and upon showing kindness.” Judaism. Mishnah, Abot 1.2
“Iranians find Americans as interesting (and confusing) as we find them.”
A Charity box is on many street corners – contributions used for social needs.
“You will not attain piety until you expend of what you love; and whatever thing you expend, God knows of it.” Islam. Qur’an 3.92
“Each one must do as he has made up his mind, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” Christianity. II Corinthians 9:7
“Whether we bring much or little, it matters not, if only we fix our heart upon our Father in heaven.” Judaism. Talmud, Berakot 17a
IRAN BY DAMON LYNCH
“Iran is an extremely beautiful country in which to visit, make friends, and photograph.”
HANDMADE PERSIAN RUGS
Handmade Persian rugs and carpet are among Iran’s major exports. Persian rugs have been “woven into the fabric of Iranian history, religion, society, and culture for more than 2,500 years.” “Iran is the genesis of most motifs, patterns, and traditional colorations produced in rugs throughout the world today.” –Susie Beringer
Nomadic Life – Aghdash, Iran
Nomadic Couple in Aghdash, Iran
Nomadic Life – Tending sheep
Nomadic Life – Washing Wool – Aghdash, Iran
THUS ENDS MY TOUR OF PERSIA/IRAN
Little did I know when I decided to seek the beauty in Iran and its people what a fascinating journey it would be.
WE ARE TRULY ONE WITH ALL THAT IS!
“Open to all forms ”
(Sufi Poet, s. XII)
My heart is open to all forms:
is a pasture for gazelles,
is a cloister for Christian monks,
a temple for idols
the Kaaba of the pilgrim,
the tablets of the Torah,
and the book of Quran
We acknowledge the religion of love,
and whatever direction they move their ways;
the direction of Love
is my religion and my faith.
—-Rumi, the Poet of Love
“Djalal Rûmi ad-Din was born in September 1207, where today’s Afghanistan. Rumi is considered the greatest Persian poet of all time. His vast work, comprising 70 000 verses, is compared by scholars to the greatness of Shakespeare, Dante and Beethoven.” [vi]
[i] Michael Axworthy, A HISTORY OF IRAN: Empire of the Mind, copyright 2008, page xii.
[v] Axworthy, pages 293-294.