My Name is Iran: Journal en Copyright 2010 2010-04-06T13:05:00+00:00 Iranian Youth and Women “Democratized” the Media 2010-04-06T13:05:00+00:00 Women’s Search for Justice 2007-01-27T14:06:00+00:00 A Tribute to My Spiritual Warrior 2007-01-08T19:28:01+00:00 His Name is Saied 2007-01-04T13:36:00+00:00 Iranian Satirist Takes On President Ahmadinejad 2006-12-18T13:27:00+00:00 John Oliver Smith 2006-12-16T11:04:00+00:00 ABC features Jim Bakhtiar - All American Football Player 1957 UVA 2006-12-08T14:41:00+00:00 Jahangir Razmi to claim Pulitzer Prize 2006-12-08T14:19:01+00:00 Why I wrote this book 1. To relate what it was like living through the 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran. 2. After the revolution, to decipher the sense of fear, confusion and alienation that I felt as a teenager, living in Brookline, MA, with a name like IRAN. 3. Why it was that I dated the nephew of the former King of Iran but ended up marrying the nephew of an Islamic cleric at the age of 19. 4. To understand the Islamic heritage that I carry with me in the tradition of Fatima, the daughter of the Prophet Mohammad. 5. To document the struggle of Iranian women, both religious and secular, as they demand freedom of expression and human rights. 6. To share the origins of Sufism, the mystical dimension of Islam, in Persian Architecture, as taught to me by my mother, a Sufi and Islamic scholar and my father, a Harvard-trained architect. 7. To explore the powerful Persian myths and legends that make-up the psyche of Iranians. 8. To explain how back in 1927, in New York City, my fifty-five year old Iranian grandfather mesmerized my twenty-two year old American grandmother by reading her passages from Persian poetry.  The two then went back to Iran in 1931 to start a hospital and had seven children. 9. To introduce you to my adventurous American grandmother Helen who loved Iran and Iranians. As part of President Truman’s Point Four Health Mission, she traveled by donkey, camel and her trusted Jeep through the rural villages of Iran in the 1950’s to teach the women and young girls proper healthcare. 10. To discover what a typical American man named John Smith (of Lima, Ohio) with four sons finds endearing about a woman named Iran with four children. 2006-12-03T13:10:01+00:00 Journeys I took as a child in Iran in the 1970’s * SOLOMON’S MOSQUE- Solomon’s Mosque, known as Masjid-i Sulayman in Persian, is some one hundred miles from the mouth of the Persian Gulf and is where the first modern oil wells were discovered in the Middle East back in 1908. In 1964, my father accepted a job with the National Iranian Oil Company to design housing for its workers. This barren and traditional land would become our family’s first attempt at integrating modernity with tradition, in the form of architecture.  While working as head of the oil company’s architecture department, my father began to get involved in archaeological digs in the area. A French archaeologist, Roman Ghirshman, who was working on the Achaemenid and Sassanian sites asked my father to spend weekends with him documenting his findings in the south of Iran.  There at the stone threshold of 7th century Bard-i Neshandeh, my father first noticed the care with which an archaeologist took a half-inch wide sable paint brush to the centuries of dust that covered the stone of a temple under which lay gold coins that could date the site. * TAKHT-E-SULAYMAN (Solomon’s Throne) –This sacred site was home to a community of Magi or Zoroastrian priests back in 500 B.C. Located in northwest Iran, part of the throne area was the fire temple, devoted to warriors and Kings during the Zoroastrian pre-Islamic era, and is believed to have been lit from oil in the region. In front of the fire temple is a great fathomless lake filled with overflowing limestone-calcinated water of a warm spring. My sister and I took great delight in jumping in for a dip. * NAIN – One of the most memorable trips during our time in Iran was a two-week voyage around the great Salt Desert ‘Kavir Namak’ in southeastern Iran. We had a Land Rover that seated seven—our driver and my father and my mother in front, my sister, brother and I in the back seat sitting across from each other. We all wore cowboy hats that my parents had bought in Texas. Our first stop was the historic town of Nain that in ancient times was surrounded by a 4,000-foot citadel wall, now in ruins. Nain is most famous for its carpets, so my parents found a guide to take us to a weaving studio, where, in a small, dark mud-brick room filled with two large looms, my sister and I were mesmerized by girls our age weaving intricate carpets. * ISFAHAN - We began at the Friday Mosque that had been built over many generations. I had seen mosques before, but never one as stark as this. In my father’s eyes, it was the most beautiful and truthful building of Iran, because it was an elegant construction in only one material—brick. Without anything to hide the perfect geometry of the structure, my father deemed it “pure architecture,” going on to note the way the columns and domes caught the light and refracted it onto the building. We walked the bazaar, taking in its myriad sights and sounds. Each section was devoted to a particular craft or product, such as carpet, jewelry, pottery, coppersmith, leather, spices, cloth, etc. The stalls where these were sold were aligned in rows across from each other, traversed by a hallway with high vaulted domes, at the top of which were openings where sun could filter through. A grand dome divided each section. Later my father explained that the bazaar was the model upon which western malls were based. * TUS – We visited the tomb of the great Persian poet Ferdowsi. In the late 10th and early 11th centuries, Ferdowsi wrote the Shahnameh, or Epic of Kings, where he described the mythical and historical eras of Iran. A poem seven times longer than the Illiad of Homer, the Shahnameh is an Arthurian like chronicle based on experiences of past generations of the Iranian people. Ferdowsi’s tomb has a beautiful mausoleum that you enter through a garden, with a covered gazebo structure and a statue. Famous lines and quotes from his poems are carved into stone for all to read and appreciate. My grandfather Abol Ghassem and grandmother Helen are both buried in Tus near the tomb of Ferdowsi.  Tus is also the birthplace of the famous Muslim theologian Muhammad al-Ghazzali, who played much the same role in the Islamic world as St. Thomas Aquinas had played in the Christian world. I remember it as yet another brick on brick building with a beautiful dome in the center. * MASHHAD – the holy city of Mashhad in northern Iran is the home of the shrine of the 8th Shia Imam, Imam Reza. The shrine is a place of Shia pilgrimage throughout the year. Pilgrims circumambulate the shrine seven times, while chanting prayers and tying wishes on the metal grilles. Both my grandfather Abol Ghassem and my grandmother Helen’s bodies were circumambulated around this shrine before taken to the town of Tus for burial. 2006-12-03T12:35:02+00:00