Thursday, January 19, 2006

Celebrate Good Times... come on.

Eid-e-Ghadir Mubarak to everyone! The tradition is to buy sweets the night before (which is actually a common tradition for most holidays, to go buy sweets on the eve of the holiday), and on the day of, we’re supposed to go visit Sayyeds, people who are descendants of the Prophet and they give you money. It's also a day to do good works and all that.

These are the sweets AliBob brought home yesterday afternoon… I had the last one for breakfast today. By the time I took this picture, 10 minutes after he brought them home, I had already eaten a roll. I think I have found my hidden talent… the ability to find junk food anywhere in the world and fatten myself up on it.

I went to teach my class as usual last night, and while I was gone, AliBob said there were fireworks and he tried to get a few pictures of those. I thought I''d heard weird booms all day and I just assumed it was construction or something. Fireworks make more sense. I think there may have been some fireworks for last week's Eid too, now that I think about it. Anyway, I’m putting up the most decent one. We liked the shape of it, and it looks much like Islamic calligraphy, with long parallel staffs shooting out of a cloud of loops and curls that could be script. The two parallel squigglies at the top look like they could be almost spelling out "Muhammad" in Arabic. They're not, but they look like it anyway.

After class, the girls and I decided that we would go visit my student Sedigheh’s place this afternoon, since her mother is a Sayyed, which makes her a Sayyed. Interestingly, Sedigheh said she’s only a half Sayyed, since it is her mother and not her father who is the Sayyed. So while she is a Sayyed, her children will not be, unless their father is a Sayyed.

I found it very odd since, especially in this case, lineage and blood should be passed on through the mother as much as the father and also the Shia tradition holds the Prophet’s daughter Fatimah to be in an extremely revered position in Islam. I told AliBob this and he said that although Islam traces lineage through the father, the case of the descendants of Muhammad is very interesting as they are traced through the daughter, since he had no sons that survived infancy.

My student, Sedigheh, stayed up late last night wrapping up coins in little decorative paper and folding currency into accordions and wrapping those up with ribbon. It’s not a lot of money, just a token gesture. They give those to all their visitors and, from what her father told AliBob as he visited with the men, some people keep the money for a whole year because it gives you “barakat” or blessings.

So we went to visit today with Fatemeh. They had sweets and snacks and tea waiting, as they had been having visitors since 11am. We had arranged to go at 3pm. Sedigheh also told me her younger brother had been practicing the few words of English he knows all morning so he could say them to AliBob. Cute. They also had the prettily wrapped money on a tray and they offered it to us, along with all the other snacks.

Fatemeh said you try not to spend this money, but if you do, it’s usually on something for a good cause. That this token money brings you blessings seems to be a unanimous conclusion, since it comes from the descendants of the Prophet.

I told Mrs. H and Sedigheh that they must feel so special, being Sayyeds, but Mrs. H, humble and gracious as all the others have been so far, said that it means nothing if her own actions aren’t good. She may have had good forefathers, but she doesn’t benefit from it... it's up to her to do good herself and to be a better person. Her father has their family tree, which traces them all the way back to Imam Moosa Kazim, the 7th Imam. That's over a thousand years of geneology. Impressive.

I know I’ve said it before, but it's amazing how these people have such good character and humility and they really don’t rest on their laurels at all, be they academic, social, ancestral, or spiritual. Their husbands tend to be clerics, having achieved at least the lowest rank, Hojjat-ul-Islam, before going off to pursue their secular education. They all accept their humble lifestyles with joy and gratitude for the blessings they have in their lives. I've seen it reflected in all the ladies here, in the way they speak and carry themselves. I hope something of it all rubs off on me... some patience and contentment and humility and simplicity.

Anyway, here’s the picture of the money AliBob and I got, a coin and a bill. It was a special day today and I was glad to be able to be a part of it.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

lally...i miss you....i like reading your posts because it feels like you're talking to're an amazing writer....


6:26 AM  
Blogger huma said...

i agree -- i can hear you know

3:11 AM  

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