Persian Pilgrimages: Journeys Across Iran

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W. W. Norton & Company, 2002 - Travel - 315 pages
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Afshin Molavi, a young journalist and writer born in Iran and educated in the West, traveled his homeland for more than a year, encountering every facet of Iranian society--students of the right and left, bazaar merchants, Islamic clerics, pro-democracy journalists, Islamic hard-liners, reformist politicians, grumbling taxi drivers, urban slum dwellers, partying teenagers, village farmers, handicapped war veterans, and kids hooked on anything western. All opened their hearts to him, speaking candidly about a wide range of issues: unemployment, politics, freedom, religion, poetry, history, the Internet, the legacy of the Islamic revolution, the current pro-democracy movement, Iran's relations with the West, and much more. Throughout his meetings and travels, Molavi wove the tale of nearly 3,000 years of Iranian history through pilgrimages to ancient and contemporary sites, shrines, and monuments, vividly explaining the relevance of Iran's past to today's Iranian predicament. The pilgrimages ranges from the tomb of Cyrus the Great on the windswept plains of Pasargad to the splendid rose gardens at the Shiraz shrine for the fourteenth-century poet Hafez, the golden domes of Ayatollah Khomeini's vast mausoleum in Tehran, a haunting war veterans' shrine for survivors of the devastating Iran-Iraq war near the border of Iraq, and the European embassy "visa pilgrimages" of college graduates frustrated by bleak job prospects and the social and political restrictions at home. Cutting through the official rhetoric of the Islamic Republic, Molavi adds much-needed context to its political power struggle and demonstrates that the realities of today's Iran are far more complex than if often understood in the West. Through interviews with courageous journalists, students, and pro-democracy advocates who battle an entrenched conservative ruling class unwilling to accommodate popular opinion and numerous conversations with average Iranians frustrated by their deteriorating economy and the conservative stranglehold on power, Molavi chronicles a land and a people hungry for change. Few books have penetrated the soul of Iran--both past and present--as deeply as this exceptional report on one of the world's most important nations. Persian Pilgrimages is a journey to remember. "A rare and important work that examines Iranian society from a grassroots, human level while offering a taste of the grand sweep of Iranian history. I would highly recommend this book to anyone interested in contemporary Iran." --R. K. Ramazani, professor emeritus of politics, University of Virginia.
 

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Persian pilgrimages: journeys across Iran

User Review  - Not Available - Book Verdict

Iranian American journalist Molavi spent approximately one year (1999-2000) living in Teheran and exploring the country that his family had left more than 20 years before. As he traveled the well ... Read full review

Review: The Soul of Iran: A Nation's Struggle for Freedom

User Review  - Dave Lyons - Goodreads

Brilliantly written & very human introduction to the history & people of Iran, told through their lives and stories Read full review

Selected pages

Contents

PROLOGUE
xvii
Part I
3
Notes on a Pilgrimage Cyrus the Great
11
Currencies and Passports aboard Iran Air Flight 327 to Shiraz
14
What Is the Name of This Street?
18
Persepolis Celebrations and Revolutions
21
The Zoroastrian Stamp
27
Colonial Markings
30
The Case of Akbar Ganji Journalist Prodemocracy Advocate Prisoner
154
Part V
159
The Shiatization of Iran
167
Sensual Isfahan
170
The Bazaar and the Mosque
174
Pilgrimage Mullah Mohammad Bagher Majlesi and the Rise of the Shia Cleric
177
Mr Mohseni the Young Cleric
184
Part VI
191

Ancient History and Green Cards
33
Pilgrimage to the Tomb of Cyrus the Great
36
Part II
43
Mr Ghassemis Funeral
44
Islam and the Iranian Accommodation
52
The SunniShia Split
62
Mourning and Miracles
66
Pilgrimage Ferdowsi the Poet
69
Imam Alt or Rostam?
75
Global Arrogance and Green Cards at the Nader Shah Museum
79
Pilgrimage Imam Reza Tomb
82
Part III
87
A Blasphemous Play
92
Dance Party
94
Campus Politics
96
HardLiners and Green Cards
101
Elites and Masses
104
The Road to Neishapour
106
Notes on a Pilgrimage Omar Khayyam the Poet
110
The Spice Men of the Bazaar
112
The Pilgrimage Omar Khayyam Tomb
115
Mohsen the Student and Hassan the War Veteran
119
Martyrs Cemetery
122
Part IV
124
Red Lines
129
Narges and the Censoring of Milan Kundera
132
Why a FourteenthCentury Poet Speaks So Eloquently to Contemporary Iranians
134
Pilgrimage The Tomb of Hafez the Poet
145
Mrs Teimouris Wedding
150
A Murder in Kashan
194
Tabriz Student Protests 1999
200
The Case of Ahmad Batebi
206
Irans Fight for a Constitution 190611
209
An American Constitutionalist in Tabriz
215
The Strangling of Persia A Constitutional Ending
219
The Parliament of the Islamic Republic of Iran
222
Part VII
226
The International Congress on the Elucidation of the Islamic Revolution and the Thoughts of Imam Khomeini
230
A Jug of Love
237
Mr Hashemi and the ProKhomeini Oppressed
240
Reza Shah Forgotten Shrine Remembered King
244
The Khomeini Rise
248
Pilgrimage The Shrine of Ayatollah Khomeini
254
Part VIII
260
Hosseins War
264
Journey to Ahvaz
272
War Miracles
274
Pilgrimage War Martyrs Shrine
278
Haji Agha Abu Torabi and the Prisoners of War
280
Part IX
283
Children of the Revolution
285
Visas and Billboards
293
In Damascus I Can Breathe
298
The Canadian Embassy Visa Pilgrimage
302
Farewell Iran
307
INDEX
309
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About the author (2002)

Afshin Molavi holds a Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins University and has reported on Iran for Reuters and the Washington Post. He lives in Washington, D.C.

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