"Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed."

Friday, December 2, 2011

That "Piece of Cloth"

Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi



Mr. Bahri could not understand why we were making such a fuss over a piece of cloth. Did we not see that there were more important issues to think about, that the whole life of the revolution was at stake? What was more important, to fight against the satanic influence of Western imperialists or to obstinately hold on to a personal preference that created division among the ranks of the revolutionaries?  These might not have been his exact words, but they were the gist of his language. In those days, people really talked that way. One had a feeling, in revolutionary and intellectual circles, that they spoke from a script, playing characters from an Islamized version of a Soviet novel.


It was ironic that Mr. Bahri, the defender of the faith, described the veil as a piece of cloth. I had to remind him that we had to have more respect for that 'piece of cloth' than to force it on reluctant people.  ...

What could he think? A stern ayatollah, a blind and improbable philosopher-king, had decided to impose his dream on a country and a people and to re-create us in his own myopic vision.  So he had formulated an ideal of me as a Muslim woman, as a Muslim woman teacher, and wanted me to look, act and in short live according to that ideal.  Laleh and I, in refusing to accept that ideal, were taking not a political stance but an existential one.  No, I could tell Mr. Bahri, it was not that piece of cloth that I rejected, it was the transformation being imposed upon me that made me look in the mirror and hate the stranger I had become.  (pgs. 164-165)


"The Islamic Revolution, as it turned out, did more damage to Islam by using it as an instrument of oppression than any alien ever could have done." (pg. 109)

As I've read this book so far, I've thought of the elections coming up in 2012 in the United States.  And, of course, just recently Tunisia and Egypt held their own first post-Ali/Mubarak elections.   I like to learn from books and what I've learned from this book about a lady living through the Iranian revolution is this:  beware voting for people who would seek to oppress others in order to re-create their dreams of an ideal nation or appeal to a voting bloc with those dreams.  Beware of politicians who agree to sell the country to the devil in order to keep their power in Washington, D.C. and elsewhere.  Let's truly have freedom and justice and the pursuit of happiness for all.  Let's allow God to be God and not seek to be Him as we impose our visions of a perfect world on others.  Let's live Micah 6:8.

"He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God."

I think that's more than enough to keep us busy without meddling in others' affairs, don't you?

6 comments:

sanil said...

Well said!

Susanne said...

Thanks! :D

Wafa' said...

one of the most amazing books I have ever read...

And yes it's more than enough ..

Susanne said...

Wafa', you've read this book? Maybe I got it from you because it was on my list of books to read! I sometimes forget who recommended what. :)

I like that she pointed out the difference in wearing hijab because you want to vs. being forced to wear it by society.

thanks for chiming in! :)

Suroor said...

I found it interesting how you linked the excerpt with the current affairs :) Very well put!

Suzanne Bubnash said...

Good thoughts!