‘Why are you celebrating Iran’s Independence Day?’

‘Why are you celebrating Iran’s Independence Day?’

Today is the 22nd of Bahman (Feb. 11) and it’s the anniversary of the Iranian Revolution. Today marks 37 years that a country took back their land from the claws of monarchy. 

As a family we took part in the rahpaymah, or procession, celebrating Iran’s independence from the rule of the Shah. It was an interesting Independence Day celebration, to say the least. 

In America I remember Independence Day to mean parades, floats, and relaxation. But here in Iran, it’s a time to declare independence from oppressors. 

Some might argue that the chants are outdated. Why “Death to America?” Why “Death to Israel?” Why be so hostile? 

It’s not easy for a country to forget the meddling of America in its business. When Iran’s democratically-elected leader was overthrown, with help from the CIA, how can one not be hostile? When the Shah was put in and essentially turned the country to fit his desires, how can a people forget? 

Sure Iran has its own domestic issues. What country doesn’t? But by refusing outside meddling it has essentially declared its sovereignty. 

After leaving the procession we stopped by to get some food, and the owner asked my husband if we attended the procession. 

When my husband said ‘yes,’ the owner asked, “Why? You’re a foreigner and this is for Iranians.” 

My husband told him that outsiders see the fruits of the revolution more clearly than Iranians. You don’t appreciate what you have here, he said. 

There are plenty of outside forces trying to dismantle the Iranian government. And, no surprise, some are funded by Western regimes. 

The owner was surprised and said “Really? Is our revolution that important?”

Sanctions might have hurt Iran, but they forced Iran to build from within. They are doing pretty much everything on their own, even with sanctions. Look at other countries who are under the influence of the West? They aren’t very far ahead. 

This proves that self-reliance and faith in God will help you keep your dignity. I for one can definitely see the effects of this loyalty. 

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Celebrating freedom

Celebrating freedom

Today is the 12th of Bahman, the day Ayatollah Khomeini returned back to Iranian soil after 15 years in exile. The country celebrates today and the 10 days leading up to the Iranian Revolution, the 22 of Bahman, as Dey Fajr. 

Our school had posters and flags up and brought out newspapers from the time of the Islamic Revolution. My Farsi is still not perfect, but thanks to my trusty dictionary app I sat down and tried to read the articles. 

One thing that amazed me were all the pictures of the huge crowds protesting the regime of the Shah or gathering to catch a glimpse of Ayatollah Khomeini in Tehran. In one article it said the group of people waiting to welcome Ayatollah Khomeini measured 33 kilometers. 

And of course there were stories of the shaheed, or martyrs. Those of the Iranian Air Force who were killed while fighting the Shah’s army. There were pictures of Iranians killed while protesting, pictures of students abducted by the SAVAK. Stories of parents who pleaded to the newspaper to please find out what happened to their children.

While growing up in America I always heard that we should thank our soldiers for fighting for our freedom. But of course I never understood it. Maybe because the soldiers were always fighting in some faraway land. They weren’t fighting on our homeland with some invading force. 

But I see a whole new appreciation for those who literally signed up to give their lives for Iran’s freedom from monarchy. Pictures of teenagers smiling as they boarded trains to the war front. Stories of mothers who sent four sons to war, and wished they had more to send. I’ve read letters written by  soldiers to their families and in them is a beautiful conviction that cannot be described. There is no fear, just love for Allah, and Islam.

There is a strength in Iran that comes from the blood of these martyrs. The way they honor their shohada renders one speechless. In Tehran under every overpass I saw signs signifying each bridge named for the martyrs of different cities. It brought tears to my eyes to just think about how many left their families to fight for freedom with the intention of not coming back. 

Our last Farsi class book had a story of Ayatollah Syed Ali Khamenei visiting the home of a Christian shaheed who fought for Iran. 

All these stories make me appreciate what Iranians have. This country no doubt has faced, and is still facing tough times, but they are better off than many others because they can back up their resilience. 

Iranians gave their own so they could live. They didn’t invade other countries for their freedom, they earned it. 

With a role model like Imam Hussain, it’s no wonder that Iranians, young and old, were inspired to serve their country. May we all honor those who sacrifice themselves for Allah and Islam.