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Don't blame them
Really, is it any wonder that many Iranian women want to shun religion?


Lance Raheem
January 17, 2006

Salaam Alireza. I your article "Where are our good girls?" in which you expressed your views on the morality of Iranian women.

I must tell you, with all due respect, I felt the manner in which you expressed your opinions came across as both condescending and preachy. Perhaps, if you could step down off your soapbox for a moment you'd see that Iranian girls, whether religious or non-religious, are among the finest and most cultured ladies in the world.

I tried my best to understand your point of view, but, sadly, I was unable to see the connection between religion and morality that seems to be so very clear to you.

To my mind, the world is full of individuals who claim to be religious, but are utterly immoral. The present day rulers of Iran, for instance,  claim to be righteous men, but the only rights they seem to have understood for 27 years now, is their right to plunder Iran's oil wealth for their own benefit and their right to kill and torture anyone who has the nerve to disagree with them or anyone who demands a tiny bit of freedom.

Moreover, in light of the fact that the proud and brave women of our homeland have been relegated to the lowly status of  second class citizens in their own country under the mullahs high-flying Islamic banner, how you or anyone else have the right to question their morality seems pretty outrageous to me.

On one hand, you stated that Iranian girls are free to marry whomever they wish, on the other hand,however, you suggested repeatedly that "good religious Iranian girls" marry their "own kind." I take from this that you meant to say that Iranian men, whether good or bad, are free to marry "whatever kind they like."

This sure looks like a double standard to me, but whose counting. There have been so many cruel and unfair double standards heaped upon our nation's women by the government of the Islamic Republic, whose going to notice that you've added one more to the pile.  Really, is it any wonder that many of them want to shun religion?

Even more ridiculous is your suggestion that Iranian women are immoral for rejecting the very thing that has caused them so much harm. If I were an Iranian woman, I'd probably resist having religion shoved down my throat as well.

I was intrigued to read that you dated five different Iranian ladies, but were unable to find one that lived up to your expectations and standards. You said that none of them were compatible with you.  Have you ever considered the remote possibility that these five Iranian ladies found that you were not compatible with them?

It's difficult to fathom that all five of these ladies lacked morals. A more plausible answer is that they found you to be rigid and uncompromising in your beliefs. If any one of these five young ladies had been as immoral as you think non-religious girls are, don't you suppose that they would have been more than happy to engage in a little immorality with you?

Maybe what you are really angry about is not that these girls were non-religious, but that they were non-religious and still considered their chastity to be worth protecting. Maybe you're angry that modern Iranian women are intelligent, highly educated and possess a fiery and independent spirit which many of their Pakistani, Arabic, Afghani and Turkish sisters do not. Perhaps, you're intimidated by the inner strength of our women and this is why you publicly scorn them by questioning their morality.

Religion is a private matter of faith and Iranian women understand this. They are fed up with loud talking men who wish to use it as a means to control and dominate them. Religious faith is something that dwells in the hearts of people. It is not, as many seem to think, a yoke with which to control and dominate women, especially our wonderful women.

Whether any individual Iranian woman or man for that matter wishes to actively practice Islamic teachings or the tenants of any other faith is their own business. Whether any individual practices or abstains from the practice of Islam does not make that person any more or any less moral than any other person. Your attempt to sulley the honor of Iranian women is both misguided and uncalled for.

Whether inside or outside of Iran, Iranian ladies, among whom I count my grandmother, my mother and my sister, possess far too much class and dignity than to deserve such treatment.  Whether they have religious beliefs or not, they are Iranian women and that means that they are women of character. Really, you ought to be ashamed of yourself for impugning our fine ladies.

It was nice to read that you found your soul-mate in a non-Iranian Muslim lady. The only thing that confused me is that she is involved with a man who according to your article is not her "own kind." Do you believe that it is permissible for a non-Iranian lady to fall in love with whomever she wishes while at the same time you wish to deny this right to the lovely ladies of Iran and those of Iranian descent.

I know you said throughout your article that Iranian women were free to marry whomever they wished, but you also implied that only those who "stick to their own kind" have morals.  Which is it? You can't really have it both ways since it's impossible to have your cake and eat it too.  Either your fine lady lacks morals for dating you, someone who isn't her "own kind" or Iranian ladies can date whomever they like without having their morals questioned. Is either got to be one way or the other.

Having said all this, I am not ashamed to say that my faith and that of my parents in Islam is deep, just as it is for many other millions of Iranians and Iranian-Americans. My beliefs, no matter how deeply held, do not give me the right to impugn the character, honor and dignity of Iranian ladies as you seem to believe that your religious beliefs give you a right to do. I most sincerely believe that you should be ashamed of yourself.

Iranian girls and ladies possess beauty, charm, intellect spirit and kind of character; which is firmly rooted in the ancient traditions of our people. Perhaps, if you took time to see them as they really are, instead of criticizing them harshly and without justification, you wouldn't have to ask where are our good girls. If you took the time to really look for them you'd realize that they are everywhere... probably right under you very nose!

Whomever Iranian ladies and men choose to date and marry, whether they are Iranian or not and whether they are religious or not, is no ones business, but their own and their families. On a personal note,  I'm glad my grandfather didn't share your beliefs. Because he was a proud and progressive Muslim, he did not let xenophobic fear stop him from giving his blessing, many years ago, to the marriage of his only daughter and a man who wasn't her "own kind".

I am blessed to call that man, dad. One of the most important lessons in life that I've learned from my parents is that even if two people aren't "the same kind," that in no way stops them from being kind to each other. Surely, if non-Iranian men, like my old dad, can show kindness and respect for our wonderful Iranian women, then just perhaps, Iranian women have a right to expect to be treated with no less respect and honor from people like you, their own men!

Take care of yourself and always keep in mind that people who live in glass houses should not throw stones at others.

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