Sigheh Q & A
We knew we were all
October 20, 2004
Reading about next year presidential election in Iran, and that
Mr. Mir Hussein Moussavi has been the first choice for IRI, brought
back some memories of early revolution years.
days were over, and the Islamic Republic was established in Iran.
People were curious about the new regime.
One day the newly appointed prime minister Mehdi Bazargan, a nationalist
leader and former dean of the Engineering School at Tehran
University who had been in Shah's prison for many years, came on
TV and announced, "People, we have inherited a huge fortune.
I don't mean oil wells, I mean industries and infrastructures.
We must take care of them, and use them properly."
A few months later, he came back on TV with a grim look on his
face, and to let people know that he is unhappy with what
is going on in Iran, he announced, "Ayatollah Khomeini gave
me this job, and any day he takes it back, I will celebrate as
if it is my second marriage!"
Then, Mr. Mir Hussein Moussavi became the next prime minister
of Iran. A revolutionary young man with thick eye glasses and some
beard and mustache. Things were changing rapidly. People were alert
and curious about the changes, and had lively discussions
at work and at home. There were conferences and speeches every
One day at work, I saw an announcement that, next week there
will be a conference on "Women's Rights In Islam" by
Mrs. Zahra Rahnavard (the wife of newly elected prime minister,
Hussein Moussavi) in the Ministry of Agriculture Bldg. on Kargar
Blvd. (formerly Elizabeth Blvd.). Some of my female coworkers and
I decided to attend the conference.
When we arrived, the large conference
hall was almost full. Participants were mainly educated and working
females, as well as college students.
Soon, Mrs. Rahnavard arrived with her 2 small children. Unlike
her female Islamic colleagues, she was dressed in a long colorful
flowery dress with a colored scarf rapped around her neck. She
looked like native Mazandarani women in that costume.
She went to
the podium, read a short verse from Koran, and said, "I
started my ideology with Marx and Lenin, and ended up with Islam
and Ali." Then she gave a thirty minutes speech about Islam
and women, told us to avoid the corrupt Western culture that
commercializes women, and embrace Islamic culture. She advised
us not to wear make-ups, live simple, and be a role model for the
women all over the world.
Then she said she will answer some questions.
The following reflects some Q & A:
Q: Is it true that in an
Islamic country, a man can have 4 legal wives and any number of
sighehs (temporary marriages)?
A: In normal circumstances, No! The
Prophet Mohammad has suggested this only when there is a war and
men die, so women can be protected,
and don't die of hunger. It is like a bitter medicine given to
a patient to save her from dying. Prophet M. himself
got many wives to provide a protective umbrella to save them.
What happens to the off-springs of temporary marriages? Who is
responsible for those children?
A: If proved who the father is,
he is responsible.
Q: Don't you think it will be hard for a woman
to prove it, and it causes her and her children a lot of hassle
Q: What are some of the special rights and privileged
that Islam has brought us?
There were more such questions, and the answers did not
convince the audience. At the end, Mrs. Rahnavard became agitated,
the conference bldg. almost in tears! The discussion continued
for a few minutes after she left, and some of the participants
told us that Mrs. Rahnavard has lived in France for several years,
used to wear mini skirts in Paris, and was not so Islamist!
of days later, there was a flier in our office bldg. announcing
that there will be another conference on Women's Rights in Islam
by Ayatollah Movahhedi Kermani (AMK), the head of Family
and Civil Courts, a week later in the same bldg. So we all
went. Again, the conference hall was full, mostly with the same
crowd as the week before.
AMK started by reading some verses
from Koran, and spoke about Islam, saying Prophet M. gave
so much attention to his daughter Fatima and gave her to Imam
women have more respect and privileges in Islam.
Then he was ready
to answer questions. Here are some of Q & A:
Q: Is it true that
in Islam, having 4 legal wives and many sighehs is like a bitter
medicine, given to a patient to save her,
and only during a war is allowed to protect women and children?
A: These nonsense are made up by a bunch of communists, and are
not true. In Islam, a man has the right to get 4 legal
wives, and elaa gheirron-nahaayeh sigheh (as many temporary marriages
as he wants)! Sigheh can be for 1 hour, 2 hours, a week, a month,
a year or longer. As a matter of fact, I recommend to you, my sisters,
to consider becoming sigheh, because at this time, most our pasdaar
and bassigie brothers can not afford to get married. Fortunately,
you all are educated working women, and can support them financially.
Sigheh is a good thing for both of you!
Q: What happens to the children
of sigheh, and who is responsible
A: Of course, being smart women, you should try to get
some written document or have two witnesses at the time of
Q: Don't you think a man does take sigheh to avoid witnesses,
written doc., and any responsibility?
There were many other Q & A.
But we had to leave the conference to go back to work, knowing
that we were all doomed by IRI,
and those were the rights and privileges brought to us by them!
Rahnavard is now the Chancellor of
Al-Zahra Univ. in Tehran, and a presidential adviser.