Of Us and the War

Written by: Mahdi Mostafa’i

Translated by: Asqar Abutorabi

Everything has a truth and the possibility of its manifestation or concealment depends on the relationship that the human being makes with it. History is not an exception and its essence manifestation is bonded to our style of viewpoint and confrontation with it. Now how this viewpoint is and how it should be?

Some may say post-Islamic Iran has had the most complete architecture among the other nations and civilizations of the world; maybe because of their prejudice and interest in Iran. This may be true, but it is clear that Islamic architecture in Iran and following it, in countries like Egypt, Morocco and India, has been in its own kind, unique and near to utmost level. Nowadays, our historical architectural relics are main sources to attract the tourists around world and a valuable heritage of the glory of the Islamic and Iranian art history. Wherever this heritage is mentioned, everyone confirms its value and the necessity of its preservation and proudly praises the greatness of their native architects and artists. These relics are preserved carefully and costly and there is a big organization called “Iranian Cultural Heritage Organization” which is in charge of these affaires.

But, however, is it not amazing that we do not have anything that can be called Islamic Iranian architecture?! Our great ancient architectural relics are more like useless antiques which are of no use but making our home shelves decorated. Of course the enormous benefit by the of strangers’ visits, who have no comprehension of the concealed wisdom and knowledge in them should not be ignored! Since this benefit is the most important reason which has made us to preserve the remains of our glorious civilization, not its glory!   So, our modern cities have no sign of the Islamic-Iranian architecture in them. Look at constructions in Tehran; you will see even governmental and commercial buildings do not have Islamic architecture, even in their appearance, style or structure, except those that have a particular religious or national usage like mosques or Mosallas; although even they do not enjoy an independent Islamic architecture. And, in civil architecture it can be claimed that there is no architecture at all. In these constructions only one utilitarianism principle is followed which by itself is enough to destroy the architecture, no mater of being native or foreign: “the maximum use of minimum space and material”. Just in historical cities like Isfahan, there are some obligations to consider Islamic architecture, of course just in appearance and for decoration. If you think that these weak regulations have been enacted for the sake of being bond and loyal to Islamic culture or are because of intense concern for Iranian identity, you are completely mistaken.

Indeed, a city like Isfahan is valuable for tourism which is a beneficial and rich industry. Consequently, preserving Islamic elements and signs in architecture, just guarantees tourist attractiveness and popularity of the city for the tourist.

No traditional architectural method is taught in universities and there is no traditional architect to teach there. No student looks for them to learn from. Their generation is dying and their knowledge too. Which one is more catastrophic; the old Bam citadel fall into ruins or what we are doing with our heavenly heritage? Every construction is doomed to be destructed, and naturally the Bam citadel demolition is not a surprise; but how Iranian cultural heritage defenders and lovers bear this deliberate burial of the deposit and essence of Islamic Iranian culture by their own hands? I mentioned it to point out that this wrong policy is not originated from governmental or official sources alone, but it is an overall disease.

Blindly following the culture that comes along with the technology, can petrify the human being so hard that even if he astonishingly finds a more complete and better technique or knowledge in his own history, he will satisfy himself with a mere respect and transitory ceremony, but does nothing to revive and apply that knowledge and obstinately insists on his today’s weakness and imperfection.

As a matter of fact, we are not relying on our rich past culture, and if it is mentioned somewhere, this remembrance is confined to vain media slogans which does not go further than mere ceremonies and general speeches. So it is of no use, except having a loose and passing feeling about our identity, which at most will have no outcome except self-glorification against other nations. It is worth mentioning that ignoring the history, and the blind fondness to the culture coming along with the technology, is not limited to us; almost all the nations and countries around the world, especially the Asians, more or less have the same condition.

The regretful story of architecture and ancient relics is also our repeated story in social and cultural fields and among them is the story of the disaster that we are making to the most valuable capital of the contemporary Iranian history; the eight years of holy defense. With a glance at the programs and policies for the honor of the holy defense in the country and the comparison of it with what is happening to architecture, you will find out the depth of the disaster. Honoring the holy defense is just confined to some sloganeered ceremonies, along with generalities and passing speeches, and only in some especial calendar occasions of the year. Publicly speaking, the name of holy defense associates with weapons, khaki cloths, Chafyehs, headbands, flags and …. In other words, this meaningful expression has turned into a thing with material and physical derivatives. In the days of holy defense week, our national television is full of pretentious anchormen who have a Chafyeh around their neck by repeating "let’s honor the memory of the holy eight years defense martyrs", show such a disgusting behavior which no militant or martyr would have never done that in front of a camera!

This type of attitude toward the holy defense and making some clichés in the mind of society by choosing some elements and limited symbols is a "metamorphosis of the holy defense" not honoring it. As if you have dried a juicy and sweet fruit and eat its crumpled remaining which is too much sweet and disgusting and also make others eat it too.

What our sagacious leader has told about the possibility of taking advantage and preservation of war treasures is so deliberative:"…I want to say this war is a treasure. Do we want to extract this treasure or not?" Reviewing what has been done for this treasure up to now reveals that this doubtfulness in not in vain. Because understanding the value of this treasure is an art by itself. The art that observes war like this: "Now there is no war, and we do not want to make one by ourselves to become the arena of the revolution, but that eight years of war should feed our history".  We should have learned from the history of holy defense how to open a crusade arena in scientific, economical and political fields. We should have learned, the education delivered in our universities, schools and religious seminaries would lead to what kind of human being. We should have learned that insistence on revolutionary and religious slogans would do miracle in any area and passes behind the retardations and deprivations, and travels the distance of hundred years just in one night. The war was a strong support for the inexperienced officials and agents of the state to learn how to go through hard roads of the revolution and delicate stages of the country growth with bravery, honesty, and trust in God, planning, simplicity, stalwartness, compassion, and lovely binding to the leadership. If annihilation of deprivations, education and learning, industrial and scientific construction, diplomatic relations and foreign policy, cultural and artistic endeavors and … were decorated with these virtues and attributes, each one was another arena of the revolution. Revolutionary arena means where the rites and philosophy of the Islamic revolution are objectified and the results, effects and incarnated and visible samples are presented. In this way, the "feeding of the history" in the leadership expression ascertains. But no one can claim these areas have become the arena of Islamic Revolution, since if it was true, today, we could look at each of them like another holy defense.

In the past two decades we should have been fed by holy defense, just like the sons of revolution who were fed by the history of Ashoura and then cold make the demolition of tyrannical kingdom and the victories of the imposed war possible. Basiji was the one who identified his present time with the past of Imam Hossein’s (AS) companions and learned from them how to fight and how to live in fight. Actually the history of Ashoura in its relation with the mankind of the Islamic Revolution is in its justified position. "The past" teaches "the present" how to make "the future".  Rather, "the past" is unified with "the present", as if it is repeating, and the concept of "All the days are Ashoura and all the lands are Karbala" is its interpretation. This past, is that history, but live and running. Our sagacious leader also has said: "It is an art of ours to exploit the war. Imam Sadjad (AS) could extract the treasure of Ashoura during those limited hours. Imam Bagher (AS) and other Imams, could also extract that and caused this ebullient spring to flow so that it is still running and has been a source of blessing in the life of people, it has always waken up, has always taught, and has instructed what to do."(3) In holy defense and also the revolutionary events, Ahsoura has been the ebullient spring of the history that could saturate the people and now whatever we have from glory, pride and magnificence during this period of 28 years, is indebted to this role of the history of Ashoura.

Quran and Nahj-ol-Balagheh and the traditions of innocent Imams (AS) have taught us where the history court is standing. The history is the stand to look and learn. The present human being learns from history how to build the future. History is the material for making the future. History is the same humane experiences and lessons which are made under the God’s customs and his decree and will. So the most explicit role of it is the feeding role that our leader mentioned.

Have we kept the revolution and holy defense history in this position and have we extracted such an advantage from the history of war by holding remembrance nights, television feasts, setting up large advertising billboards, artificial films, memory congresses, taking pilgrimage camps to war regions, memoir recitations and so on? Or have we put a beautiful antique behind the window of the media and are describing and praising it? Any way whatever we see is not the continuity of the holy defense culture. We do not deny that in many places there are people who have done their duties by truly following this history; we are talking about the social collective route and its cultural management.

We should not forget that history, in contrast to its philosophy of existence, can take a stagnating and stupefying usage; when it is metamorphosed from its essence, and a manger is made from this corpus for fruition, the truth negligence, disregarding the duty, justification of seeking welfare and an introduction for deviation from reality.

But it should not be unmentioned that the era of those who wished the history of revolution to go this way and took revolutionary virtues and slogans to the museums by force, is passed and a new era has begun by the name of revolution and for the reviving and practicing the ideological rites. Although some vein of going to extremes is visible in this era, but it has been able to shine the ray of hope on peoples' hearts and renew the hope of release from the hook of superficiality, imitation and modernist petrifaction. Be those attached to the revolution, comprehend this new opportunity and help those who like Basijies do their holy fight (Jihad) to achieve the truly "Islamic Society and Government".

Soureh Monthly Magazine/ No.36/ Jan, Feb, March 2008

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