Need some advice and input from Iranians/Muslims please

Discussion in 'Iran' started by cussbunny, Jun 18, 2009.

  1. cussbunny Member

    Some background, but you can skip to the last couple paragraphs for the actual question for the TL;DR version.

    One of the most touching and amazing things to have come out of the turmoil in Iran, for me here in America, is the dialogue I have been having with ordinary Iranian citizens - mostly the reformists, but also some of the Ahmadinejad supporters. My conversations have remained civil and respectful even when I have spoken with the "hardliners." This is something that never would have happened a week ago - citizens of two very different countries and very different belief systems talking to one another openly, honestly, and directly, without the stain our governments and medias make on our impressions and understandings of each other as people. So I know no better people to ask than these same Iranians.

    I have been as active as I can possibly be online since Saturday, in support of the Iranian protesters. I have done everything I can think to do, and asked for help on the things I could not (which is how I came to be on this site), but it has all been on the computer, in communication with tech-savvy Iranians, in Iran and elsewhere - but aside from wearing all my green clothes this week, I have not done anything in the "real" world, as there was nothing really TO do - I live in a southern city in America, big enough to have an urban oasis of more liberal and progressive thinking than in the rural south surrounding us, but not large enough that there have been rallies in support, like there have been in places like New York and Toronto and London.

    I do not know if the small Iranian population in my city is aware of the support they have from Americans. Unfortunately, though we are more liberal as a city than the small town populations, it is still a small city in the bible belt of America. It does not enjoy the diversity and mingling of the population I have enjoyed living in larger cities and in other countries. I moved here from Chicago, where my apartment was right at the meeting point for several different ethnic neighborhoods. Next door to the animal hospital I worked in, there was an Iranian bakery that I visited at least once a week. Down the street was Little Jerusalem. A few blocks south of my apartment was Little Vietnam. My neighbors were elderly polish immigrants and young black single mothers. My corner store across the street was Korean. The diner next to it was Greek.

    I wish there was such intermingling and sense of community here, but sadly where I live, much of the image of Americans as intolerant of other cultures and religions is true. Racism is very much alive - my state was yet again headline news last week when one of our GOP activists compared an escaped gorilla at our zoo to Michelle Obama. Here, many people really do believe that the 2 billion Muslims of the world are all extremist terrorists who want to kill us at worst, take away our freedoms at best. Ignorance is rampant. Our small Islamic population keeps to itself and there is little interaction with the rest of the community - and I don't blame them for that.

    So to get to my point - I have a friend in Tehran, whom I hear from less and less as the connection gets more unreliable. I worry sick about him when I know he is marching in the streets. I worry for his wife and their beautiful little girl. I am sure many of our Iranians in our Islamic community still have family in Iran and are probably worrying and distressed as I am.

    I want the Iranians in MY community, HERE, to know they are not alone and have support. I want to start bridging that gap, opening that dialogue, in what little ways I can.

    I would like to attend prayers at a local Mosque, to pray for the safety of my friend and his family, to pray for the students and civilians who have lost their lives in Tehran and other cities this week. To give quiet but sincere support to my local Islamic and Iranian community, in a respectful manner. I am not Muslim, however. I have a basic understanding of Islam, Islamic beliefs and practices - but only basic, the complexities and details are not familiar to me.

    Would this be acceptable, to attend their prayer services? Would it be seen in the manner I intend, or would I be unintentionally disrespecting them by attending prayers with them as an infidel? That is my great concern, with the prejudices in place here, I don't want my act of solidarity and support to cause offense. I also do not know, if I went, what to do and how to act so that I remain respectful. I will certainly wear the hajib and follow Islamic rules at the service, but I do not know what all those rules are, another reason I need advice.

    What say you? Is this a bad idea? If it isn't, please tell me what I should expect and what I should do, participate in, or not participate in. I want this to be a small message from one woman of solidarity and support, not a display of Western ignorance. Thanks.
  2. as long as I know, according to Islamic law, you cannot attend a Mosque; it's sacrilege; you must first take vows and become a muslim (no big deal by the way, just a couple of arabic verses)

    but I doubt that you will find many families of protesters amongst mosque goers. Most muslim radicals support ahmadinejad and normal muslims don't usually go to mosques (atleast where I live) ..
  3. infact I think you would have a better chance by going to an Iranian Restaurant or club or especially an Iranian pop music concert in your area. there you could find Iranians of all religions and lines of thougths
  4. none given Member

    Mom and pop grocery stores often have a bulletin board; post.
  5. cussbunny Member

    Hmm. Okay. The idea was born out of the reports I heard of Mousavi calling for Thursday to be a day of prayer and mourning, and some saying he asked for people to gather at mosques.

    This is why I asked first... thanks.

    Unfortunately my favorite Iranian restaurant closed in December after Economic Apocalypse '08. :( Will see what else I can find in the area.
  6. by prayer he didn't mean the regular daily muslim prayers but lamenting and praying for the souls of martyrs; and even then people denyed going to mosques today because all mosques in Iran are officially basidj statiuons and heavy supporters of Ahmadinejad. people ever stayed clear of mosques for voting..
  7. cussbunny Member

    Oh. Speaking of displays of western ignorance... :eek:

    No wandering into mosques wearing homemade chadors with a green ribbon on my wrist, then.

    Thanks again for your input... seems I still have much to learn.
  8. lol.. you could wear your chador and pretend to be a muslim and go to the mosque. just don't wear the ribbon and if asked, say that you're a newly converted!! (ofcourse it wouldn't help with your cause)

    anyway, I'm truely happy to see someone like you care so much for our people and be so understanding, it warms my heart :)
  9. In my city we can and have gone into the mosque...we just wash... and cover our heads...we did this in solidarity with the American Muslim community that was facing such prejudice after the 9/11 bombings...women were choosing to cover their heads in solidarity for women...(trust me I hate covering my head it's a pain in the ass) to show that clothing does not show the heart.

    However that being said it is better to foster community that is working together from a common goal than it is to attend prayers you don't really believe...respect for another's religion or beliefs does not mean you have to actually attend :) try to get people to come together to work for a common goal in the community...bringing diverse groups together for a common cause is often more healing than one person attending a religious service they don't really 'feel' no matter how good the intention.

    ANON is a good example of how a collective can work together towards a common cause without the interference of personal religious beliefs. If we allowed religion to run ANON, we'd still be arguing about the best way to get started...or which religious group gets to have the first prayer...LOL no no no to religion :D
  10. cussbunny Member

    Oh god, that was awful, after 9/11. I remember. Heartbreaking.

    You make good points (again), scary. :) Cheers.

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