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Temporary marriage contracts: Sigheh and city of Mashhad (Iran)

The author of “Walk on my eyes; welcome” wrote:

“I interviewed Samaneh, a 52 year-old woman theologian teaching in the Iranian city of Mashhad.  All the main streets in Mashhad converge to the mausoleum of Imam Rida.

The Moslem Shias sect believe that Caliph Al Maamoun assassinated Rida by poisoning around 850 AC.  Mashhad receives 20 million pilgrims (visitors of Holy places) every year (twice greater than pilgrims heading to Mecca).  Actually, most pilgrims to Mashhad combine sincere prayers with sexual pleasures:  Mashhad is renown to be the city where prostitutes flock to in Iran.  Those who can afford it contract out temporary marriage or sigheh for the duration.

I asked Samaneh: “How can you reconcile this liberty of sexual conditions in Mashhad and the observed requirements in the Koran?”  Samaneh replied:

“Islam seeks happiness for its believers.  The sigheh is a real marriage with a contract defining the conditions and amount of money paid to the wife for a duration.  In the sigheh, the man and the woman are officially married.  This contract satisfies the basic needs for feeling happy, complete, and finding peace of mind until permanent marriages are feasible.”

Samaneh resumed: “Sigheh existed during the Prophet Muhammad’s period until the second caliph Omar banned this tradition.  Caliph Ali re-instituted the sigheh contract saying: “When wives are sick or when the husbands cannot wait longer than 5 years for sexual satisfaction then sigheh is better than committing sin.”

Samaneh continued: “In general, it is the divorced women and those who lost their husbands who ask for sigheh because it is not easy to remarry permanently after the first marriage.  Virgin girls have to get the permission from the father, grandfather, or one of the brothers.”

I asked Samaneh: “Iranian Nobel laureate Shirin Abadi is demanding equal parts in inheritance because it is not fair that boys get twice the girls.”  Samaneh replied:

“Shirin has her ideas.  Personally I agree to equal shares:  Women have demonstrated to be better money managers than men.”

I asked Samaneh: “Shirin demands that the courts should accept a woman testimony as valid as man (the custom in Iran is that testimonies of two women equal one man’s testimony; In Saudi Arabia, women are not allowed to testify, period)”

Samaneh answered: “I once visited a prison and the men convicts cried sincerely telling me their stories as innocent men.  I believed that they were innocent until the ward showed me their documents.  Consequently, women are too emotional to testifying rationally in serious situations.”

I am currently reading “Three cups of tea” and the author mentioned that a Pakistani/Balti entrepreneur in Baltistan province (North Pakistan), who supplies European alpinists (mountain climbers), contract out several sigheh “zawaj Mout3a” each season with the foreign girls.

Note 1:  Sigheh is catching up in Sunni Moslem States thanks to the Saudis.  Egypt has been agreeing to contracting out temporary marriage since the establishment of the Saudi Kingdom:  The Saudi princes and the middle class in Saudi Arabia have increased their touristic trips to Egypt for easy, affordable, and lenient sexual pleasures.

The Saudi middle class cannot afford to marry 4 wives because they cannot afford equitable conditions for all wives. Thus, they seek new adventures out of borders, preferably with virgin child girls.  The Saudi royal family members prefer young boys when they travel for a change of 4 wives.

Syria is catching up on sigheh contracts since Iranians and Saudis are touring Syria more frequently than before.

Note 2:  The abridged interview and accounts are translated from the French book “Walk on my eyes; welcome” by Serge Michel and Paolo Woods.

Note 3: Are you aware of the legalized religious prostitution of one-hour sigheh contracts? https://adonis49.wordpress.com/2013/09/02/one-hour-sigheh-contract-pleasure-marriage-widely-applied-in-iran-on-underage-slave-girls/

Sigheh: Temporary marriage contracts

Mohsen married twice by temporary marriage contracts called sigheh in Iran and “zawaj mut3a” in Arabic.

Virgin girls cannot marry sigheh without prior permission from the father, grandfather, or a brother.  Mohsen married with two divorced women.

The first time, one of the friends of Mohsen asked him to marry sigheh one of his sisters who got just divorced.  Mohsen got angry:  the friendship will be altered once he becomes brother-in-law.  Then, the father of his friend called Mohsen to consider marrying sigheh his divorced beautiful daughter.  The contract was for 6 months that can be renewed for another 6 months if the parties matched.

In Iran, the people who marry sigheh are not in any obligation of revealing the new co-habitation situation:  Mohsen lived in the city of Mashhad since Mohsen’s parents were living in Teheran, and they were not informed.  Since Mohsen had no apartment, he shared a room at his “in-laws” with his wife.

The only obligation was for Mohsen to dine on Friday’s nights with his in-laws.  Mohsen got used to joining his new family around the “sofreh” eating on the floor over a white cover.

Well, a cousin of his wife landed from the Netherlands and she decided to marry her cousin and not renew the sigheh after 18 months of temporary marriage.  Mohsen could not eat for an entire month and was depressed.

One day, a friend bought tickets for a bus trip to the Caspian Sea, north of Iran.  Since they could not join their girl friends on the bus, they decided to marry sigheh. The registration office of the contract was helpful and inscribed the marriage on their ID (giving the illusion that the marriage is permanent) so that they could get joint rooms in hotels.

Mohsen fell in love with his new wife and got very chatty and recounted their troublesome lives.  His wife says with a smile: “I don’t want to have more children.  Mohsen wants children.  Thus, I won’t be able to marry him permanently.  Anyway, Mohsen has better opportunities than me to building a stable family life.”

Note 1:  Permanent marriages in Iran are costly.  First, there are not enough apartments to rent. Second, the dowry fixed by the Koran is currently equivalent to $7,000 in Iran (100 camels, or 200 cows, or 1,000 head of sheep)

Note 2:  The abridged interview and accounts are translated from the French book “Walk on my eyes; welcome” by Serge Michel and Paolo Woods.

Welcome, “walk on my eyes”: Iran

“Walk on my eyes” or (Qadamet ro cheschm) is an expression of politeness in Iran to welcome someone home.  The Swiss journalist Serge Michel and the photographer Paolo Woods have been covering Iran, on and off, since 1998, every time the Iranian government felt the urge to be kept alive in world public eyes.  Serge and Paolo were asked to leave, a few weeks after the latest election in June 2009.  They witnessed the upheavals during and after the Iranian Presidential election.

Serge and Paolo realized that the Iranians are fundamentally a happy people, well comfortable in their environment and their culture.  They had the idea of “Happy Iran” as title.  Serge did some historical search and discovered that the Iranians or Persians (as the Syrians ans Lebanese) were not warriors, but merchants, artisans, traders, mariners, poets, and peasants: They hired war mercenaries during the successive Persian Empires. Warrior empires such as the Moguls, Afghans, Macedonians, Romans, Turks, and central Asian people conquered Iran since antiquity and ended up meshing with the Iranian culture and blend nicely within Iran.

This article is the first installment in reviewing the book and I will focus on the eye-witness accounts of the journalists prior, during, and after the election process.

It would be useful for a gross brush of the conditions In Iran before the June 2009 election.

The opposition candidate, Hussein Moussavi, had for allies the urban upper and middle classes, the bazar merchants, and the urban clerics or mullahs:  The urban mullahs wanted to weaken the Rahbar (Supreme Guide) Kamenei in order to regain lost power and re-dip freely in the treasury.  President Ahmadinejad had for allies the countryside, the poor clerics in the countryside, the bassidjis (Revolution Guards), and the majority of the lower middle class (the patriots aghast with western powers’ pressures) residing in the poorer quarters in urban centers.  It is to be noted that urban centers dwellers are as populous as countryside people in Iran.  The army had no interest supporting the opposition since Iran was embarking on self-sufficiency in manufacturing the military hardware:  The army was in no mood of renegotiating the defense budget.

Teheran June 3, 2009 (A week before election):  I listened to the televised debate Moussavi/Ahmadinejad with friends.  Over 50 million Iranians must have been watching this first in 30 years. Ahmadi exhibited an illegible document proving the wife of Moussavi got her teaching job at the university by fraud; he challenged Moussavi to declare the sources of his campaign funds (Ahmadi could draw from the government treasury).  Moussavi replied: “Your foreign policies are humiliating the dignity of the Iranians.  You are an exhibitionist, superstitious, and extremist President.”

In front of the TV station on Vali-Asr street, hundreds of Ahmadi’s supporters are chanting and beating their chests as during Ashura. They have converged from the poorer southern parts of Teheran.  The richer classes are concentrated in the northern parts.

Shiraz June 5:  Moussavi’s supporters, wearing green attire, are driving in private cars, in a long caravan for miles, waving green posters and honking all the way; a first in Iran in the last 30 years.  I am interviewing a Pasdar (revolutionary guard); as we passed a shop selling western DVD movies the Pasdar said: “As the election is over, these kinds of shops will be closed.”

Teheran, June 8: A night manifestation by Moussavi’s supporters at Palestine Square.  They are chanting “Death to the little dictator”.  They are university students of Amir Abad:  In 1999, the bassidjis killed several students and a week-long of riots ensued.  The march ends at 4 am.

Teheran June 9:  Big gathering of Moussavi’s supporters at the Vali-Asr Square.  Everything is in color green: T-shirts, baseball caps, veils, flags, and ribbons.  Ahmadi had recently distributed potatoes to the needy quarters in Teheran.  The masses of Moussavi are chanting “Potato government.  I don’t want” and “Ahmadi bye-bye.”  It was a march of two hours.

Teheran June 10:  The election campaign is to end at midnight, but Moussavi’s supporters are enjoying a victory carnival.  Sound tracks are blasting and people are dancing in the streets.  A couple of female teenagers are chanting: “A week, two weeks that Ahmadi had not taken a shower.”

Teheran 12:  Election Day.  Moussavi’s supporters are joyous and confident in victory.  Long files on voting booths in the northern parts of Teheran.  In the evening, F calls me crying: “I am in Moussavi headquarter. The bassidjis attacked us with sticks and destroyed our computers.  They arrested the managers.  The police has sealed our center. It is a State coup.”  The bassidjis have clamped down on the Moussavi daily on Zartocht Street.  Columns of military trucks are celebrating.  Moussavi had declared at 11 pm: “The minister of the Interior told me that I won the election”

Teheran June 13:  The forces of order are massively present in front of the ministry of the Interior where the voting polls are counted.  The forces had disbanded a demonstration in the morning and arrested 20 people. A violent combat is taking place on Vanak Square and tear gas are used.  People burn newspaper sheets to counter the effects of tear gas. The night is witnessing pockets of resistance; buses are burned and grandmothers are burning waste bins on the streets.  A friend tells me a joke: “Ahmadi split his hair in two parts:  the right part for male lice and the left for the female counterparts.”

Teheran June 14:  Ahmadi delivers his victory speech at Vali-Asr Square; he lambasted his opponents as detritus and bad losers; hooligans after football games.

Teheran June 15: Maybe two million are marching from Enkilab (Revolution) Square toward Azadi (Liberty) Square.  Balconies are empty: everybody descended to the streets chanting: “Who voted for this monkey?”; “Yo, atomic athlete, you must be tired, Go home.”

Teheran June 16:  A young girl enters the fast food establishment and changes her green veil to a black one.  She told me: “I managed to escape the bassidjis”  After she ate her roasted chicken she paid with a 5,000 toumans  ($4) bill; the bill had a poem scribbled in a green ink: “The detritus is you; the passion is me.  Cruelty is you; impetuouss is me.  Iran is mine.”  Ahmadi’s manifestation took place at 3 pm and the Moussavi demonstration at 5 pm at the Vanak Place.

Teheran June 17:  Moussavi’s manifestation is marching from Haft-e Tir to the university.  The timing of the march is set 30 minutes after the portable phones are disconnected and the gathering place is known by word of mouth.  It seems that the Iranians rekindled old-time communication habits after the government began shutting down phone lines. A banner inscribed a poem by Hamid Mossadegh: “denounce the dishonests. Rekindle oriental solidarity.  If I get up and you get up, everyone will get up.”

Teheran June 18:  Moussavi is acclaimed as a rock star at the Ferdowsi Place.

Teheran June 19, a Friday:  Kamenei deliver a speech at the mosque.  Everyone already know what is the message and that England will be the target.  Ahmadi leaves in a 4*4 and briefly waves: a thunderous acclaim greets him.

For a month, the “green movement” never missed an occasion or an event to gather on mass.  In Iran, every week has major events to celebrate or to remember: religious dates, anniversaries of martyrs, Jerusalem Day… During Ashura, Moussavi’s supporters chanted “Mir-Hossein” instead of “Ya Hussein.”  Every night, chanting emanate from rooftops “Death to the dictator” and “Allah Akbar”.  For the anniversary of the revolution in Feb. 2010, the TV was asked not to show sections of demonstrations against the Shah: they reminded the people of the current furors.

Adonis49 opinion:  Ahmadi won the election.  The small margin was not appreciated by the Rahbar Kamenei.  The crackdown on the Moussavi’s “green movement” at the eve of the result counting and the following weeks was mainly a preemptive show of force meaning: “We have won.  Do not count on us to negotiating sharing power”.  More precisely, the Rahbar Khamenei was sending the strong message: “You, mullahs and Ayatollahs of urban centers in Teheran, Shiraz, Mashhad, Tabriz, and Isfahan, you go to hell.  I am the Supreme Guide and I won’t be sharing power.””


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