A year ago a friend of mine, Shabnam M., met a guy at ShabehJomeh, a monthly lounge meeting for young Iranian professionals in New York. They began talking and drinking. They shared their childhood memories in Iran and discussed the current political climate. There was a certain chemistry between them; they had a lot in common. He asked her out, and a year later they are still together.
Last weekend something happened. In a jolt of joy and enthusiasm, they allowed each other to think and talk about the future, their future. "fuck it, damn it all to hell," he finally said, "Lets get married!" And she couldn't have been happier. They immediately called Iran and informed their parents.
But as Hafez likes to remind us every once in a while, Love seems simple at first; but then pour the downfalls.
Last night we went to their semi-engagement party. Everyone was there. Champagne bottles were uncorked, and glasses were toasted. Everything was moving along smoothly until someone asked: "Well, what kindda ceremony are you guys planning to have?"
"What do you mean?" they asked.
"Are you going to get a mullah to do the--"
"Fuck no! No mullah's gonna attend my wedding," said the bride.
There was a moment of silence. "Then what?" the groom answered back, a bit confused. "You want to have a church wedding? I'm not Christian, and neither are you. I'm not having a church wedding. My mom would never attend a church wedding."
The music was stopped, and people were whisked out shortly after that.
I'm not worried about them though. They'll work it out. At one point one of them is going to "fuck it and damn it all to hell," and compromise. But it's quite evident that Religion and Politics are very much mixed not only in the state level, but in our day to day lives. To Shabnam, having a Quran or a Muslim cleric at her wedding would mean nothing but an approval of Iran's current government. This is true even though, in theory, she strongly believes in the separation of religion and politics.
Should the people change first, or should the government? That seems to be the big chicken-or-the-egg question.