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Friday, January 20, 2006

The country that is an enigma for outsiders: Iran

Iran's stand on the nuclear issue has once again brought the attention of world on this gas-rich Shia Muslim country.

Iran remains a mystery to outsiders. In India the right wing often sees Iran---Shia republic amind the belligerent and majority Sunni nations--with sympathy.

The Sunni Muslims are also often in awe of this country where the revolution took place under Khomeini and which was the first to issue a fatwa on Rushdie issue.

Iran remains a country that does not allow itself to be dictated by any superpower and it is this aspect of the country that is contrary to position of most of the Muslim countries.

The rightwing activists often wonder why Shia Iran remains committed to the cause of Islam as strongly. This dilemma is seen when section of RSS-BJP ideologues on one hand show a sympathy for Iran's nuclear ambitions and charge America of bullying but the rest feel insecure and warn about another 'rogue' Muslim nuclear power in the world.

It is this independnce of Iran that is termed as roguish attitude which the West does not like. Generally a sensible man, Sudheendra Kulkarni, who was once a card carryin communist and eventurally wrote speaches for Advani before being shown the door, tried to unravel the puzzle that Iran, the fascinating country of contradictions as he puts its in Indian Express. Interesting artile indeed. The few excerpts:

1. Iran inherits a glorious civilisation and therefore has a narrative that is as mysterious as the poetry of Rumi the great poet of Sufi mysiticism (Our death is our wedding with eternity). Iran is as Islamic as one can get. Ye its strong Shia identity stands out as a quiet defiance of much of Sunni Islam.

Beauty and melancholy are twins in much of Iran's art and history. One of its greatest rulers, Shah Abbas I, who established the magnificent Isfahan, killed his eldest son and gouged eyes of second son, who in turn killed his daughter.

2. Is grief Iran's self-willed destiny? Collective grieving for Imam Husainis a finely choreographed ritual in Iran. Reading Christopher de Bellaigue's book ' In the rose garden of the martyrs' is to be reminded that martyrdom is both the leitmotif of Iran and also a pointer to its perennial search for its true harmonised identity.

3."Iran's sole perceptible gain of the past quarter of a century: the liberty to take important decisions without having to consult a superpower", quotes Kulkarni from the book.