One nation, two worlds

November 25th, 2012  |  Published in All Posts, homines, photographia

This is one of my favorite pictures. I took it in the entrance to the Nation Park (park e mellæt) in Tehran. I like it because it shows you the difference between secular and religious people.

One nation, two worlds: Secular family vs. Islamist couple

One nation, two worlds: Secular family vs. Islamist couple

The couple on the left is religious. The easiest way to tell that would be to look at the woman. She’s wearing a tent, or in Persian – Czador (here’s a key to my transcription). If you look closely, you will see one hand holding the Czador from the inside, while the other hand shows on the outside. This woman is very religious, but not as religious as the Mollah family from a few posts ago. They wore all black and were completely covered, while she allows some of her scarf to show. The scarf is needed because the Czador is slightly open (I think it has a button or a safety pin). It serves two purposes: to hide the fact that the lady has a neck, and to add some color to the otherwise gloomy Czador. The man is wearing a long sleeved buttoned shirt, a jacket and simple tailored pants. His shirt is inside his pants,  he wears a thick ring on his finger (probably with a stone, but you can’t see it), and it’s silver colored (either silver or white gold), because a Muslim man is not allowed to wear golden-gold jewelery. You may also notice his well trimmed beard. We call these people Hezbollahis. They’re not Mollahs, that is, not religious leaders, but they follow them. You may notice that most Iranian men are either shaved or bearded. Usually the Mollahs are bearded and the Hezbollahis have a trimmed beard (compare Æhmæghi-Necjad with Chameneji). Mustache is relatively rare, as it’s associated with Arabs. And as religious as an Iranian man may be, he would still want to be properly differentiated from the Arabs.

On the right you see a secular family. The woman wears a scarf because the law obliges her to cover her hair, but look how much of it is visible. She’s wearing a long coat over her jeans, as do most secular women. We call such women Mantoji (wearing a coat), as opposed to the Czadori woman on the left. The man is wearing a T-shirt, and does not tuck it into his pants.

Both women can be said to be bæd hedjab, i.e. of bad Hejab: Achunds and their supporters would say the secular woman is bæd hedjab because she’s not covered enough. Secular people would say the Islamic woman is bæd hedjab because she’s too covered.

The secular family is very rich, if they can afford three children. Most families in Iran only have one child, because they can’t afford to raise more than one child if they want to give this child everything.

That’s for your knowledge, but what I like in this picture is the different psychology: Look  where the secular family members are looking and where the religious couple is looking. The parents are looking at their children, the older children are looking at the baby, the family members are interested in one another. The religious couple doesn’t look at each other, they look around, monitoring other people.

But you know what I like best about this picture? It says everything: Look at the men’s hands.

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