Tehran by Kashif Ali

I visited Tehran, the capital of Islamic republic of Iran for few days in September 2009. It was an exciting experience. It is an official Shia state. It is evident from the billboards showing slogans about Ali RA, Fatima RA & family. Talking about billboards, there were very few of them and none had any woman on them. Before coming to Iran I had the impression that it is a deeply religious society. The image is shattered now after spending few days here. Most people seem to be uninterested in Islam. Respect for Ramzan (month of fasting) wasn’t there. Many people were eating in public. Restaurants were closed during day but fast food type places were selling food almost openly right in the middle of city.
 There are only few mosques in Tehran city. You don’t hear azaan, it is probably banned on speaker. I was looking for masjid for jumma prayer and ended up in Valli Asar maidaan, the town centre. The masjd there was locked. But I saw many people going in one direction, mostly in traditional shia black dress. There were extra ordinary security arrangements with police, fire brigade, ambulances present. It can not be an ordinary jumma prayer, I thought. So I didn’t dare going any close. Next day I found out through media that it was the supreme leader Kohmenei addressing in juma prayer at Tehran University campus with the whole government present including Ahmede Nejad.
Youth is quite modernized. Boys fashion like west. All girls wear jeans with a tight coat on top, & a symbolic scarf at the back of head, hair dyed in Golden. Islam appears to be enforced by authorities. Society seem superficial, a bit similar to Pakistan. Actually there are a lot of similarities with Pakistan, for example, laungaue (40% similar) food (kebabs, roti, chai, sweets, etc), living and the habits (I mean the bad ones at least!).
Besides, people are polite & good looking, especially women. Very few could speak English, and that was broken too. Young like to talk to foreigners. Not me though because they considered my Irani. When I said I am not, they said oh Indian! No I am Pakistani I would notify. Continue reading

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