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.
The revolutionary 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 where.
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, Mir 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.
Q: 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 and miseries?
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, and left 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!
A couple 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 Ali, and 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 for them?
A: Of course, being smart women, you should try to get some written document or have two witnesses at the time of sigheh.
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!
P.S. Mrs. Rahnavard is now the Chancellor of Al-Zahra Univ. in Tehran, and a presidential adviser.