Presenting the book In the Color of Patience, Memoirs of Fatemeh Sadr

The Nature of Saddam and the Baath Party in Iraq

The sixth volume of the Oral History Anthology, Imam Musa Sadr Cultural Research Institute

Faezeh Sasanikhah
Translated by: Zahra Hosseinian


The book In the Color of Patience is the memoirs of Fatemeh Sadr, the wife of Shahid Seyyed Mohammad Baghir Sadr and the sister of Imam Musa Sadr, was published by the Imam Musa Sadr Cultural Research Institute in September 2020.

On the back cover of the book can be read: "This book is the narration of Fatemeh Sadr about the joyousness of her father's house and the delights of Najaf along with her husband and children and the hardships of this bright city; from being rooted in the soil of husband’s homeland and immersed in his sufferings; it is a woman's biography to the point where she has remembered, and without what she has tried to forget."

This 559-page book, which was compiled by the efforts of Fatemeh Naghavi, is the result of 27 hours of interviews in the cities of Najaf and Tehran as of January 2017 to August 2019.

Due to Fatemeh Sadr's insistence, "But then, I want there will be no change in what I say; because anyone is responsible for the words they say. I told Ms. Hoora that not any word should be changed. I don’t want my words to be exaggerated or developed to more than usual...", the format chosen for transcribing the information is dialogue.

In order to present a clearer picture of Fatemeh Sadr's character to the readers, Fatemeh Naghavi sometimes presented the dialogues in the format of questions and answers about the main topics and sometimes in the format of familiar words, parts of which were included in the main dialogues.

Part of the conversations in the present book is the re-reading of the narrations quoted in the book Sadr’s Pain, so that the readers can read those memories in Persian. The Sadr’s Pain is the biography of Shahid Seyyed Mohammad Baghir Sadr and Fatemeh Sadr written by Amal al-Baghshi, which was published in Arabic in Qom and translated into Persian at the Imam Musa Sadr Institute and is currently being published.

In this book, memoirs were arranged in three chapters. The first chapter is devoted to childhood and family life until marriage and begins with the question: “Why don’t you interview, Ms. Sadr?” The second chapter deals with the life of Fatemeh Sadr and her husband. According to the interviewee's request and emphasis, little attention has been paid to private life: "I don’t want very private things to be spread in public, I don’t like details of our life to be written; because they are private, and we’re a modest and reserved family. It wouldn’t be nice to be written in a book." (P. 35)

The third chapter refers to important political events regarding the situation of Iraq and Shahid Sadr’s stance. The political activities of Shahid Seyyed Mohammad Baghir Sadr, his trip to Lebanon, the issuance of a statement by Imam Musa Sadr and Seyyed Mohammad Baghir Sadr against Saddam and the Ba'ath party, the Ba'ath party's strictness towards the ulama and especially Seyyed Mohammad Baghir Sadr, Seyyed Mohammad Baghir Sadr as a marji' taqlīd, his numerous arrests, his views and approach to the Islamic Revolution of Iran and Imam Khomeini, the bitter memories of Fatemeh Sadr about the siege time in house and the last arrest of her husband and the martyrdom of Seyyed Mohammad Baghir and Bint al-Huda al-Sadr are among the topics discussed in this chapter. "Ever since the plans of the Islamic Revolution became clear, he has been a supporter of Iran until the last moment. He said that defending the Islamic Revolution is necessary because the Shiite marji tagqlid has no purpose other than establishing an Islamic government. Now that Imam Khomeini has fulfilled my wish, I am ready to take on whatever responsibility Imam Khomeini asks me." (P. 283) This chapter gives the readers a glimpse into the nature of Saddam and the Ba'ath party. Due to the emotional reasons and the heavy atmosphere of the memories of those days, the answers here are shorter and the silences are longer. To fill these gaps, Fatemeh Naghavi turned to evidences from other documents and individuals so that there would be no point left in examining the important events in Ms. Sadr's life.

The sentences of the book are exactly the same sentences which the narrator has uttered and the missed out words, the conversion of the dates from AD to lunar or solar, were put in quotation marks and braces. Naghavi, however, has put in parentheses some of the narrator's different feelings when recounting some memories, like she took a deep breath, tapped her leg, laughed, knocked on her leg, tapped her leg twice and so on.

"It is natural that the linguistic structure of oral conversations is different from written texts," she explained in the introduction, "in this book, too, there were instances, in transcribing Ms. Sadr's speeches into written language, the sentence structure was such that it created ambiguity for the reader. But in order to remain faithful to the essence of Ms. Sadr's words, her sentences weren’t changed and only, to avoid ambiguity, the editor added words in parentheses to the original text. It is very clear that what separates the written and speech language is the tone and narrative form that the speaker adopts during the narration and through it, brings the reader more to her personal space when uttering those sentences. To fill this gap, wherever necessary, I have put parentheses in front of the sentences, in which I have expressed Ms. Sadr’s state at the moment of uttering those sentences." (P. 18) Although remaining faithful to all the narrator's statements has the advantage that the readers is sure that everything they read is literally Ms. Sadr's words, but at the same time, this method has made the audience not face a fluent and solid text. "If I begin talking in two programs, a lot is expected. I'm really trying to ... what can I say? What can I say? What can I say?" (P. 26)

Some words, names, or topics needed further explanation, which the interviewer put in a footnote at the end of each chapter.

After the dialogues, the important events in the life of Shahid Seyyed Mohammad Baghir Sadr and his wife were presented chronologically, followed by photos related to the subject of the book. The final part of the book is dedicated to various letters, including the letter of Bint al-Huda Sadr, telegrams, statements of Shahid Sadr and the message of Imam Khomeini on the occasion of the martyrdom of Bint al-Huda and Seyyed Mohammad Baghir Sadr.

The method of transcribing the narrator's memoirs in this book, regardless of its subject and content, can be considered and criticized by those interested in this field as a method in the field of memoirs and oral history.

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