A very innovative way of showing your hatred for the historical figures who waged war on prophet Mohammad's grand son, Hussein in this photo displays the words, "Yazid, I F*$k your mother."
"Is this a party or mourning ceremony?" a Facebook user ask about this photo. While religious ceremonies are gender segregated, a young couple is posing for the camera. What I personally like about this image is the hookah. As I often argue on I Heart Iran, nothing seems to be holy for the younger generation of Iran.
Now, let's ask the critical question. Are Iranians religious or are they hungry?
One of the traditions of honoring the Shia historical martyrs who fought for Islam while hungry and thirsty is sharing food. There are quite a few who believe if free food was not involved in these religious holidays, only a small group of people would show up. These two images leave me wondering if the pleading hands are in search of food for the stomach or for its blessing.
One of the things you'll pick up after living in Iran is how to judge people's religious devotion by their clothes. It is a wrong judgment, I admit that no book should be judged by it's cover. But since the Hijab is forced on Iranian women, it makes it easier to detect one's religious position by how far they push the fashion boundaries around this requirement. For example, a religious woman would be less likely to wear an overcoat above the knees. So, why are these two young women (walking with donated food in hands) really here? For food or for the religious rituals?
This picture is disturbing, isn't it? Don't worry he is not cutting the baby in half. He is just acting out what Shia Muslims believe to be the martyrdom of Ali Asghar, the youngest martyr of Battle of Karbala. What I find noteworthy was the comments this image had received on Facebook. Many went as far to call it child abuse while others just endorsed it as an act. (See more images of children participating in Muharram ceremonies here)
Finally, the last and formost criticism was about the cost of these ceremonies:
"Cost of eulogist per night:
Sibsorkhi, 2 million Tooman. Mahmoud Karimi, 2.5 Million Tooman. Reza Halali, 2 million Tooman. Saeed Hadadian, 2.5 million Tooman.
May Imam Hossein grant his blessing [on these men] Please don't ever think they sing eulogies for the sake of money."
Right now, 3500 Iranain Riyal is traded for one U.S. Dollar. You do that math to figure out how much these men get paid and how much the photo's sarcastic caption make sense.
I do not denounce any tradition mentioned above and I do not judge anyone who participates in it-- whether for religious or non-religious purposes. What interests me about studying these behaviors is how the Iranian government uses the attendance numbers to justify its own legitimacy regardless of why, how, or in what attire Iranians participate in the ceremonies. And, no one mentions of how Iranians might negotiate between their Iranian, Muslim, and modernist identities.