Little boy contemplates coming out in Hamadan's coldest winter in decades. Icicles shine. Be careful my young Hamadani friend! More photos here.

To have lived as long as I have, one comes face to face with his or her own identity more than once. I told you a long time ago how in search of my identity, knowing myself first as a Tehrani born and raised in Tehran, then as an Iranian when I moved to US, and later as an American when I had lived here a long time, sometime in the early 1990's I became a Hamadani, where my parents had originally emigrated from in the 1940's. (Part 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5). Today I want to tell you the story of how I became a Moslem.
I grew up in a home which had not one, but two Haji's as heads of household. Looking back, and remembering thousands of Iranian Moslems I have met in my life, I would say that my parents were probably the happiest Moslems there ever was. They prayed, fasted, paid their khoms-o-zakat and fetrieh, sacrificed not one, but two lambs every Eid-e-Ghorban, celebrated Moslem eids, and mourned the Imams.
Nothing about the way they were Moslems was ever overbearing or imposing to us, the children who were growing up in that happy household. We lacked nothing in religious training if we showed an interest in it, and could participate in all religious ceremonies and requirements. We also could choose not to participate, as some of us chose. There was no pressure and no reprimands. What we learned was completely elective and through observation of those who were loving us unconditionally, providing for us, and raising us as the most loving parents in the world. Whereas a micro mini skirt was not terribly appreciated by my father, no other appearance requirements were ever set for me and my sisters. The way I knew I was a Moslem was to watch the two of them enjoy being Moslems, so comfortable with the rituals and requirements, so generous to others, and so serious and reflective during their prayers.
I remember my father used to work very long days and almost all days of the year, except for our family holidays and twice a year, once during the mourning days of Ramadan and again during Tasooa and Ashoora in Moharram. He wore a black shirt and abstained from shaving, sitting with us in the house, while he reflected. The biggest requirements of those mourning days were for us not to listen to music and not to have parties. That was it. Even religious mourning days, therefore, though quiet, were good days during which our household stayed together, getting busy preparing special foods such as Sholeh Zard, for delivery to our neighbors' homes, celebrating the sense of family and community as Moslems. I remember how my mother poured the hot, delicious smelling Sholeh zard into china gol-e-sorkhi bowls, decorating it lovingly and expertly with cinnamon and pistachio slivers. I remember how neighbors would later return each other's china bowls, leaving a gorgeous flower from their garden inside to thank each other.
I have been through my many stages of belief and spirituality in life. I have read about other faiths and beliefs, and have attended other religions' ceremonies and places of prayer. In the end, if someone asks me today if I believe in God, I would wholeheartedly say "yes." If they asked me what my religion is, I would say "Islam." I know I may not be a very good Moslem, but a long time ago I stopped fighting the urge to pray my Moslem protective prayers for my children and those I love as I see them off, and a fateheh for the deceased every chance I get. I know that to those who make religion a chore, an imposition, a must, with hundreds of requirements and do's and don't's, I am not a very good Moslem at all. But I believe that in the way I live and choose to be, being a moslem has played an integral part of my identity and demeanor. I don't fight it anymore like I used to do during my younger years. Learning from the two best Moslems I have ever known, I couldn't be anything but a Moslem. I celebrate and cherish that piece of my identity in the ways in which I worship my God.
(I will tell you another story on this subject soon.)


Anonymous said...

نازی جان
من همه پستت رو نخوندم ولی پستهای قبلی را داشتم نگاهی میکردم عکس مرحومه مادرتون رادیدم...خدا رحمتشون کنه. که انشالله با فرزندانی چون شما

رحمت شده هستند


Anonymous said...

سلام نازی خانم
تو آدم متعادلی هستی و همین تعادل موجب ایجاد تفاهم
با همه میشود.حتی آنها که خیال می کنند تو در اشتباهی
برخی ایده آل هاشان را نزد تو می یابند.خداوند پدر و مادر
خوبت را رحمت کند.محرم میراث گرانسنگ بشریت است
نه تنها مساما نان.چرا که فرمود:اگر دین ندارید لااقل
در دنیایتان آزاده باشید.عاشورا بر همه تسلیت باد

از دوستی با تو خوشحالم

massod rasti

jeerjeerak said...

i have many memories from the Moharram mournings as a kid. those where the only days that i would wear a chador and go to the Hoseiniye for the noon prayer with my father's family. we would go to Lavizan in the morning and watch the many "Dasteh"'s with their mourning songs, their big flags and signs, their heavy "Alam"s and the men shaking under the huge weight of those.

Chakameh Azimpour said...

This is how every day I long for your post, and every single of them makes me happier. I am so happy that I know you. Even as a cyber-friend I am very happy that I took that moment and introduced myslef to not be an Unknown person marching your blog, but indeed Chakameh, the one who loves your posts and has a great respect for you. This recent story of yours with a very little drift is my story. Thanks for writing it.

nima said...

من نکردم امر تا سودی کنم بلک تا بر بندگان جودی کنم
هندوان را اصطلاح هند مدح سندیان را اصطلاح سند مدح
من نگردم پاک از تسبیحشان پاک هم ایشان شوند و درفشان
ما زبان را ننگریم و قال را ما روان را بنگریم و حال را
چند ازین الفاظ و اضمار و مجاز سوز خواهم سوز با آن سوز ساز
آتشی از عشق در جان بر فروز سر بسر فکر و عبارت را بسوز
موسیا آداب‌دانان دیگرند سوخته جان و روانان دیگرند
خون شهیدان را ز آب اولیترست این خطا را صد صواب اولیترست
در درون کعبه رسم قبله نیست چه غم از غواص را پاچیله نیست
تو ز سرمستان قلاوزی مجو جامه‌چاکان را چه فرمایی رفو
ملت عشق از همه دینها جداست عاشقان را ملت و مذهب خداست
لعل را گر مهر نبود باک نیست عشق در دریای غم غمناک نیست

nima said...

hi there
you can read the whole poem here:

Daisy said...

Salam Nazy jon, very interesting and insightful post I must say. Although I've not been raised in a family as religious as yours but I also had the option to choose weather I wanted to practice Islam or not. I think that was really important especially for my generation who grown up after the revolution. It was really hard to not end up with two different identities- one belonged to the home and the other to the outside world. But I think I've pulled it off in finding my own way. I would also say I believe in God and I've fate in God. According to some people standards I might not be a good Muslim either.
I agree with you that the purpose of religions is to make individuals better people and help them to achieve happier lives. I don't need to be meticulous in practicing Islam in order to be a Muslim- and definitely I shouldn't impose my own believes and what is right and what is wrong to others. What is important is in my heart.
anyway I hope you're well. take care

Leva said...

A religion is a believe that bring you peace in mind and joy in life. Whatever it is we respect it and I believe that it should be.

Nazy said...

Salam Bar Marzieh-ye Aziz:

Thank you for your blessings for my mother. I do miss her, my beautiful friend and my confidant. I hope your lovely mother lives to be a hundred, giving you and your beautiful family joy and support. Thanks again.

Nazy said...

Salam Bar Masoud in Ahvaz:

Thank you for your kind complement, though I don't agree with it 100%! Thank you for blessing my parents. My father told me while he was still alive that he felt his life couldn't have been better than this. I don't know of that many people who would say something like that.

Thank you for sharing your sentiments about Moharram, too. Whatever it is and whatever it means to everyone, I believe it is a part of our identity and must be accepted and respected as such.

Have a good day my friend.

Nazy said...

Jeerjeerak Jan:

Why do I want to smile when I envision you in a chador? You must have looked so cute!

Thank you for understanding my point. What makes those occasions really special is how they have been woven into the very fabric of our existence through our memories.

Be happy azizam (and come visit soon.).

Nazy said...

Salam Chakameh Jan:

I have really missed you! I, too, am glad that you came to talk to me the day you did! It is a pleasure and an honor to know you through your blogs and your comments, my beautiful scientist friend.

I think our paths converge and we realize we have similar experiences, because most people search for meaning and direction all through their lives. Some find it in spirituality and some understand it better through science, but the search remains the same and equally essential for everyone.

Do share your stories sometime, Chakameh Jan. I can just sense how interesting they are. Be good and take good care of yourself.

Nazy said...

Nimaye Azizam:

Thank you so very much for sharing that beautiful poem with me. I am very touched by it. Thanks again.

Nazy said...

Salam Daisy Jan:

Your comment is very thoughtful and interesting. Thank you for sharing your experience in searching and choosing your spiritual beliefs. You are right. Others in our lives, including our parents, can only point to a direction, but the road to spirituality and faith is a road everyone must travel by him or herself. Very nicely put my friend. Thank you as always for coming and saying your piece Daisy Jan.

Nazy said...

Salam Leva Jan:

I couldn't have said it better myself. Thank you.