Quran, ass, duct tape and I

I’m in the 4th grade of primary school. 8 in the morning, in the schoolyard. We are all in lines waiting for a student to start his tilawat of Quran. You see, in Iran, at schools, it is mandatory to start the day with tilawat of a surah of Quran. Usually done by a student or a teacher who’s a qari. They recite a short surah in a microphone to annoy the neighbours while students stay in lines silently, and pretend they listen to the words of Allah.

Well…I couldn’t! As a kid I always found it difficult to stay at one place or concentrate on one thing, particularly when that thing was Quran, which I did not understand, neither did give a shit about. My whole life was focused on how many Panini cards I had or what my best score in Sonic the hedgehog was! Mostly earthly matters just like other nine year olds I assume.

So, the student is reciting the Quran into a microphone and I am talking and laughing with my friends. Then, the qaari says “kun” which is both an Arabic and a Persian word with very different meanings! In Persian it means a butt. As a kid, it was hilarious to hear “kun” in that serious tone of the qari reciting the word of Allah. I start giggling and am trying not to laugh too loudly when something hits the back of my head hard and my eyes go black! After a few seconds, I realize that it’s the principal’s hand. A chubby hairy hand as big as a shovel. Then, he kicks me in the leg as I try to dodge, but I fail and his black boot hit my hip bone like a ramming train. It was so painful that made his other hits quite insignificant . The whole school’s watching as I am getting absolutely destroyed by the principal’s rage. Apparently, he has some sort of an MMA fighter inside him that he decided to unleash upon me. Throwing his hands and feet at me with utter disgust and hatred, he forces me out of the line into his office.

-“You little clown! What is it that you think is funny? Do you know it’s a sin to laugh while Quran is being recited? What’s your name you ass?” I will never forget his disgust towards me. My whole body is pain from the kicks, my ears are ringing from the smacks, and I am already planning my revenge on him, which would never happen of course! I mumble “Bozorgi” while I try to focus on any sudden movement so I can evade.

“Well… Mr. Bozorgi, you won’t be able to talk today!” He says with a grim which is hardly noticeable under that bush of a beard on his dirty ugly face, takes a roll of black duct tape out of his desk drawer, cuts a big piece, and duct tapes my mouth! Like a hostage! Then, he presses his big fat smelly fingers, which looked like Frankfurters that have gone off, on the edges to make sure it won’t come off “If you remove it, I will call your parents, now you can go to class.”

I am petrified, don’t know what to do, if I leave his office with that duct tape on my mouth, everyone will laugh at me forever! And if I remove it, they will call my parents which is even worse! (It wasn’t) So I cry ,a lot of course. Principal is quite content with his disciplinary action and he escorts me back to class triumphantly. I enter the class and am greeted the way I expect, with a wave of laughter. However, my classmates are more empathetic than my teacher. My teacher and the principal exchange a smile and a proud look as they have arrested the most notorious criminal of Iran.

Fun times! Having told you the story, I want to pinpoint how sacred Quran is Iran. Quran is the most important artifact of Islam. It is considered as divine and sacred. Not only the meaning and what it says, but the book itself. The book as a physical object and the words that have been printed by a photocopy machine. Everything is sacred about Quran in Islam. To the extent that you have to be “clean” while you handle the Quran. So, since I’m an atheist and considered as “unclean” in Islam, I cannot touch the Quran. A woman going through her period is not allowed to touch the Quran as she is “unclean” and the list goes on. Recently, I have seen a challenge started by some Iranians. It’s called burning the Quran challenge. Although, I don’t agree with burning a book, I totally understand the symbolic value of this movement which is to break the bubble of sacredness around this book. This book is an idol. We take it with us to our new house and car to bring us good fortune. We kiss it and touch it, when we are going on a journey to keep us safe. We all have one in our home. However, we have never questioned it!

I am the atheist Seyyed

Since I remember I have always had problems with my name! Particularly since I have become an atheist! Not my first name though, but the religious title of “Seyed” which follows me everywhere I go in all official documents!

My first name is Maziar. I kinda like it! I prefer Maz though! Maziar originally belongs to a rebellion Persian freedom fighter in the 9th century AD who fought the spread of Islam (the spears wasn’t a peaceful one as you know) and the Islamic regime and eventually was killed by Abbasid soldiers. However, in my birth certificate “Maziar” is always preceded by “Seyed”. Seyed ( Sayyid, سید) is an honorific title given to people who are accepted as descendants of the prophet, Muhammad, through his grandsons Hasan ibn Ali and Husayn ibn Ali, who were the sons of Muhammad’s daughter Fatimah and his son-in-law/cousin Ali ibn Abi Talib. So, the title is common in Shia but not in Sunni, hence its popularity in Iran. So, as I have been told, my family tree shows that my ancestor was Hasan ibn Ali, although I have never seen this family tree. And Come on!… the sons of Fatima (12 Imams as they call them in Shia) fucked and created offsprings until they died and had trillions wives, they were worst than hamsters! Wherever they went, took a wife for a week, made a baby and left! How can you actually make a family tree? You will run out of paper and ink!

Now let’s see why I have had problems! Well…The problems began when my parents named me! As I was born in Islamic Republic of Iran, and my father had this title in his documents, it was mandatory to write it in my birth certificate! Then I became Seyed Maziar. Do you see the paradox too? Seyed a religious title, Maziar a man who died fighting the religion. After naming me, my grandfather went batshit crazy and had a quarrel with my father that “Maziar was a muslim killer, why have you named him Maziar?” And apparently he didn’t talk to my parents for a while. He was strictly Muslim you see! And I remember him calling me MuhammadAli or sth similar, instead of my own freaking name!

The problems didn’t end in the family though! When I was in school, I was bullied by teachers and students. My religion studies teacher always tried to avoid my first name, they either called me Seyed or by my family name! It wasn’t all bad! Once, a history teacher gave me extra mark because I was a Seyed! (Stupidity has no limit!)

When I was 19, I decided to remove the title, but I couldn’t as that would have been considered as apostasy! (WTF indeed!). Later, I moved to Australia, and guess what!?…the problem persisted in a different way! Now as the damn title is in my passport, everyone thinks that my first name is Seyed and Maziar is my middle name!! I was in VicRoads the other day, and the poor receptionist was looking for Seyed for 5 minutes, walking around yelling “SEYED” until I realised I was Seyed! She was a bit suspicious then, asked me a few tricky questions to see if I am actually the person in that passport! Seyed is everywhere, in my driver’s license, my insurance card, my bank card :(. Yep… I am the atheist Seyed! (Actually the atheist Seyed was my 2nd choice for the blog’s name). 😀

P.S. I couldn’t find a funny image for this post, if you have any idea please shoot!

International Women’s day: the Heroines of Iran

Today’s the international women’s day. Though some are celebrating or ignoring the real issues, a woman in Iran, who removed her hijab to protest the mandatory veiling during the recent protests, has been sentenced to two years in jail. Most of the feminists groups including the Women’s March have been hypocritcally silent about the women’s protests in Iran. Today’s about awareness, appreciation and support, but how much do you we know about the women who are fighting all around the world?
Women in Iran have been oppressed for the past four decades and now they are leading the protests. They risk their lives protesting for basic human rights that have been taken away from them by Islam and Islamic regime.
From 1905 to 1975, Iranian women played a prominent role in political and societal events achieving outstanding success. To mention a few, removal of mandatory hijab, ratification of family law, ban of polygamy, raise of legal age of marriage from 15 to 18, right to vote and more! However, after the Islamic revolution, things changed drastically! Women were robbed of their freedom.
After the 1979 revolution, Islamic laws took over. Family protection law was revoked, minimum age of marriage was reduced to 9(later raised to 13)! Women were forced to wear mandatory hijab and government workers were forced to follow an obnoxious dress code. Massive segregations happened. Schools were all seperated. Women were banned from going to beaches and sport events, becoming a judge and even singing! Yes! Women were and still are banned from singing in Iran.
Now in 2018, hijab is still mandatory in Iran and “bad hijab” is punishable by 70 lashes, fine or imprisonment. Women cannot marry without their father’s written permission or leave the country without their husband’s or father’s written permission. Niether, can they go to stadiums. Men has the first right of divorce, meaning that a man can divorce his wife anytime he wishes to. Siqa (temporary marriage) is still legal and being practiced in Iran, which is a very fucked-up thing in Islam. The value of a woman in Islam is seen as half as a man’s. The Diyah (blood money) of a woman is half of a man, the value of their statements in a court is half as that of a man too. So if they need one male witness to make a statement. They need two female witnesses!! Also, in degree of heirship, wife inherits 1/8, if there are any children.
I can go on and on about the injustice towards women in Iran and the rest of the Islamic world. However, one thing is unavoidable, and it’s women’s urge and power to overrule the injustice. As I said, they did it before the Islamic revolution, they can do it again! Those women who remove their hijab in the streets of Tehran are my heroines. My mom is my heroine who against all odds in that country raised us to be free thinkers, to revolt, to stand against the inequality. I am humbled by your strengths and power.

Veiling: God’s fetish (Part I: Evolution)

Recently women in Iran have started to publicly protest against mandatory hijab by the help of My Stealthy Freedom, a social media campaign which encourages women to stand up against the oppressive Islamic regime. Meanwhile, in the western countries, hijab has been fetishized as a symbol of power and autonomity of women. With all due respect to individuals who have freely chosen their paths, hijab is and has always been a means of oppressing women. In this series of posts, I will discuss veiling from its evolutionary roots to its modern fetishization. Happy reading!

God seems to want all women. He is omnipotent and does not require earthly ways of reproduction, but he cloisters women away. He monitors their sex lives and takes revenge against their sexual independece. In Abrahamic religions, women’s sexuality is under male jurisdiction and God requires women to submit to men.

To understand the oxymoronic behaviours of God regarding sexual repression, let’s explain it from the evolutionary point of view. Understanding our reproductive psychology clarifies everything.

Evolution is chaotic, and gruesome. The illusion of order and intelligence design has made us see all the beauties. However, evolution has required animals to take on strategies for survival, some of which we consider as immoral in today’s world. Submission of female to male is one instance.

Survival of a male gene depends on its access to a female. Protection, jealousy and the constant effort of blocking the rivals are the main reasons of sexual repression. Whether in an ape or a modern human. Veiling is one of theses strategies. As I have discussed before in “Why God is so angry?”, religions were made by alpha males to control, rule or survive. Thus, asking their women to veil to make sure that they are exclusive to them is a survival strategy! It’s worth mentioning that another example of a grotesque fuck-up of evolution is rape which I will explain later in another

post.

“Powerful men often demand exclusivity, along with powerful non-human primates. Among these males, sexual exclusivity is of prime concern. Similarly, God’s demand for unrivaled allegiance is often framed in terms of sexual jealousy.” Hector A. Garcia, Alpha God.

Long hair, breasts and bottoms are regarded as highlights of female beauty and sign of health and fertility, thus they are instantly more attractive to men who are constantly trying to reproduce. So, an alpha male assumes that covering these parts will decrease the risk of losing his reproductive advantages. Explaining it from an evolutionary point of view makes the issue look distant and ancient. However, it happens in our modern world! I remember that some years ago, a friend of mine married a man, nice guy, but strongly muslim. My friend would never wear hijab. She always greeted us by a hug and a kiss too. After the marriage, her husband forced her to wear hijab, and stop touching However, the fetish has gove over the limits. In Saudi Arabia, in 2002, a fire broke out at a girl school in Mecca. The moral police didn’t let fire fighters to rescue schoolgirls, at the same time prevented the children to run out, because they were not covered by the traditional black veil! In Nigeria, people killed over Miss World pageant. In Iran, women are fined, sentenced to prison or lashed for not wearing hijab properly. They always wear it, but the moral police decide if it is worn appropriately or not! These are some of the top-down examples which we have access to. There are hundreds of bottom-up examples happening inside families, often include domestic violence, which we do not hear or read about!

References:

Www.facebook.com/stealthyfreedom

Alpha God by Hector A. Garcia

Selfish Gene by Richard Dawkins

Cartoon by Mana Neyestani, retrieved from http://www.radiofarda.com

Lumpen-bourgeoisie: an impenetrable defence of the regime

Iran’s social classes have experienced a chaotic change after the 1979 revolution, and eventually gave birth to a new filthy group of lumpen-bourgeoisie who stand between the upper and middle class, sucking the blood of the lower class to get richer and sucking the dicks of the Islamist upper class to stay alive. Lumpen-bourgeoisie group, I don’t call it a social class, consists of a group of opportunistic, graceless and unthinking people who sees nothing but their own individual benefits. They have always stayed silent during protests and supported the regime with their wealth.

Lumpen-bourgeoisie is quite a recently made group. Before them, we had lumpen-politariats in power. Before the revolution, Iran was a capitalist country with three distinct social classes. It was not surprising that people felt the urge for a socio-democratic regime, so they revolted. However, the results were not promising. Socio-democrats were trampled by Islamists who snatched the revolution. Right after sitting on the throne, Islamists started mass murders, imprisonment, daily executions, assasinations and enforcing Sharia laws including mandatory hijab. Yet, they promised socialism. The class changes had already started. Clerics who were proletariats with no power in the former regime suddenly jumped to the upper class, started to rule the country. The classes started to form more clearly of a capitalist society. An upper-class including Islamists, particularly clerics, in power, a middle class with lawyers ,doctors, univeristy lecturers,etc. whose status defined their class, and the lower class including workers with lower incomes. However, it was not as simple as this! Another group started forming, a lumpen-proletariat group including unemployed and thugs. The upper class were defenseless against internal and external threats. The other classes had intellectual resources and man power. So, the regime (the upper class) started utilizing the lumpen-proletariat group against the middle and lower classes as protection, giving birth to Basij and the Revolutionary Guards. Basij and Revolutionary Guards were the best defence with no demand! They assasinated intelectuals, silenced people and terrorized the whole nation. Best free fearmongers the regime could get. As time went by, these groups gained more power, both economical and military, forming a wall between upper class and other classes. Although, the international sanctions and the internal and external infamy slowed their expansion.

As IRGC and Basij fell short, it was time for Lumpen-bourgeoisie group. The regime started utilizing normal people, decent people you would think, but not really! Having experienced economical issues, the middle class started disappearing. Some moved down to the working class and some moved towards the upper class, but have never reached it and will never reach it, but they got richer and richer everyday, while the lower class got poorer and poorer. This class is the lumpen-bourgeoisie, a group lingered between upper and middle classes with great dependancy on the lower class to get richer and great dependancy on the upper class to stay alive. In return, they provide protection for the upper class with their wealth. They are so pragmatic that they would follow the regime to the end of the abyss, and will not let go of the lower class either. To me, they are the most sophisticated. They don’t fight for anything, they are unthinking, yet they will cling to anything to hold their position. This group can include real estate owners, business owners, bank managers, teachers, football players. It does not have any job classification. It all depends on the people’s choice and their wealth! Some with wealth have chosen to go up and duel in this group. They don’t necessarily believe in the regimes indoctrines, nor they believe in humanity and equal rights. They would pretend they are Islamists where needed by the upper class, they turn a blind eye on the protests and never join the poeple not to risk their filthy hypocritical positions.

The situation of Iran is somewhat between capitalism and feudalism, where religion and wealth rules and people suffer under the pressure while lumpen-bourgeoisie families don’t really feel any trouble, have no boundaries and live in welfare. The first generation of lumpen-bourgeoisie are the leaders of the group with their wealth and hypocritical behaviour, while their second generation live in peace and prosperity, mostly without any jobs, with extreme wealth of their fathers they enjoy their lives in Iran.

A few meters away, the lower classes are endeavouring to survive, they risk their lives in the protests for a better future, for a secular democratic regime, a free country where everyone lives equally without fear. On their shoulders they hold the whole country, while bleeding from the lashes of Islam, and the bites of the lumpen-bourgeoisie. Still, they care about their country and their brothers and sisters. They strive but they are graceful. They will never let go of their country, and the upper class and the lumpens must rememebr that if the working class let go, they will all go down!

Coming out as an Iranian atheist

My deconversion was not an overnight process, just like others. However, I reached a point in my life which I could not tolerate Islam or any other religion anymore. So I started my deconversion.

When I was a child I was exposed to a paradox. On one side were my parents, siblings and relatives, and on the other side was the outside world, the government, media, school, common people. Islam almost had no place in our home. My mom never wore hijab at home, although she had to wear it outside. My family never said prayers or read Quran, except for occasions during Ramadan when my mom used to do the rituals.  However, in the outside world, everything was different. I was exposed to Islam indoctrination. At school, they gave us prizes for saying prayers, and frightened us from Hell and God’s wrath. So I grew up believing the outside world and seeing that my family were going to Hell. So I prayed every night! to save my parents! I was a 9 year old boy, and not that bright.

Anyway, I grew up and my faith out of fear started to fade. I started reading Kafka and Camus, and started listening to Metallica! Then, faith became an unfamiliar word for me. I doubted everything. By 18, I was a total agnostic atheist, although nobody knew.

Later in the university, I felt like a rebel. I needed to go against everything. And I did! I educated myself. So that you know, in Iran, even in undergraduate years, we study Islamic subjects as general subjects which must be passed and have a great impact on our overall. I failed most of them at least one. I remember failing Islamic Ethics twice! just because I didn’t believe in what they believed. Later, I was arrested and in the prison I lost my last drops of faith. When I came out, I was a new man. A man who has never again believed in a supreme being. I felt anew, I felt free and I improved in every aspect of my life.

Although, I had never come out as an atheist only until recently. The only reason was fear! I was afraid of Iranian Government. As you probably already know, deconversion/conversion is treated by capital punishment in Islamic Republic of Iran. You’ll be fine as long as no one knows but stating it publicly and writing about it as I am now, would get me in trouble.

Coming out feels great! I am telling everyone, and I get mixed responses, but that only motivates me to go forward.

So, if anybody is out there who is doubtful of coming out. I would highly recommend you to come out and state it publicly. However, if it puts you in risk, be patient. You will find your window of opportunity.

A personal journey of flourishing as a non-believer

As an Iranian, coming out was not easy. I had struggled for almost 8 years before I stated my views on god and religion publicly.

I was born and raised in “Islamic Republic” of Iran, and moved to Australia in 2013. Although I have been an atheist for a few years, I have only recently overcome my inner and outer struggles of being an atheist publicly! So here I am!

All those struggles rooted in my fear of god, hell, damnation and chastisement and the Iranian government, which is the scariest one of course.

The Iranian education system is based on the doctrine of fear of God and his punishment. So schools and media are constantly bombarding people with the pessimistic ideas of Islam.

My deconversion was not an abrupt process. As a child I believed in Allah out of fear. I remember praying for my parents and begging God not to send them to Hell. I remember crying out of fear, I remember doing rituals during Mourning of Muharram when I wore black clothes, did chest beating and swung chains onto my shoulders until they bled. Later, in high school, I started to grew out of these dogmatic ideas. I became familiar with Nietzche, Bertrand Russell, Kafka and Richard Dawkins. Then, I entered a prolonged stage of skepticism. Finally, during my undergrad years, as I was young and rebellious, I got myself in trouble. I was arrested in an arbitrary arrest after a Green movement demonstration and was taken to a secret detention centre where I was left in a solitary cell with one book, Quran. Since I had nothing to do during those 28 days, except listening to a guy crying in the ajoining room, I read The Quran more than a few times. First, I read it as a holy book, word of Allah, and begged him for freedom (ironic!) but then I read it as a work of fiction. That’s when I realized I had never believed. I had believed only to conform with others. I had believed because others told me to. Those days of my life, I learned to be a realist. Someone who doesn’t wait for an imaginary being to manipulate him. I became a rational atheist who believed in science rather than a poetry scripted by some men 1500 years ago in the Arabia.

Now, here I stand with an urge to tell my story, should it stop anyone from going through what I have.