As we are approaching the end of Muharram, holy month of Shia Muslims, let’s mark the end by talking Iranian paradoxes.
While mourning the martyrdom of an Imam who lived more than 1000 years ago seems to some outsiders outdated and too traditional, in Iran there is always a way to fuse the old fashions to modernity.
When I was growing up in Iran, the only way of commemorating this religious holiday was watching the marching bands which passed the streets on the 10th and 11th of Muharram. The marchers held large banners displaying Quranic verses or religious poetry which mourned the loss of Imam Hussein and his 72 soldiers. Loud music would fill the streets as a group of religious, bearded men and young boys (some even barefoot) beat their chests with heavy chains.
However, Islam, as other religions and traditions, has undergone changes....changes that reflect society. One no longer needs to be strictly devout to perform the Islamic rituals. Thanks to different interpretations of Islam, now, any one could.
Just ask yourself in a country where 70% of the people are under the ages of 30, how religious traditions could appeal to the youth? Well, I have found you a picture that sums it all up:
This French car, a Peugeot, is a common middle-to-upper class luxury possession in Iran. Here it has been decorated in the most traditional costume of Muharram to show the mournful martyrdom of Imam Hussein. That's right, now even cars can be Islamic.