I repeat.. ‘THIS IS THE BIOGRAPHY OF THE AUTHOR’s MOTHER’. The incidents detailed in this book are NOT imaginary and fictitious. I’m sure this book would have been criticised immensely if it was fiction.
Author says, “Religious ideologies can justify even the most horrible crimes against humanity by claiming that such acts are warranted in order to serve their God.” Extremely well said.
I’m at loss of words after reading this book. I know there are plenty of such women around us and the things they put up with breaks my heart. The book is about Majid’s mother who is born in Syrian family, various incidents of her life and her struggle to give decent life to her kids.
Author says that girls are taught from early age that marriage is the sole purpose of a girl and they have no say in choosing their partner. “A girl, my mother and her sisters had been repeatedly told, should always be grateful when a man—no matter who he was, what he looked like, or how old he was—agreed to take her as his wife. Nothing could blemish a man. “Just being a man and having that male sexual organ makes men irreproachable,” my grandmother had often joked.” – quotes the author.
I will mention a simple situation that deeply implies the insignificance of the girl child. “In the Arab world, people usually refer to a person not by the name given to them, but through their children. Therefore, a person will be either ‘the mother of—’ or ‘the father of —’ and it is generally the name of the oldest son that is used to establish this indirect form of reference. In cases where the oldest child is a girl, the name of the younger son is used, and if the person doesn’t have any sons, then people use the name of a boy which the father desires to have in the future.” Imagine.. an unborn son is worth more than an alive girl, according to them.
Talking about the so-called religious women who think low of the fellow women who go to universities and work alongside men, author says, ” Whether these women truly believed in what they were saying is something open to questioning, but when indoctrination starts at the womb, then it is difficult to weed out the truth from an acquired belief. Were these women expressing honest opinions or were they simply repeating words which the male-dominated society around them had drilled into them?” How true!
There is an incident in this book I would like to quote in my own words.
‘A 7 yr old kid sneaks into school without his father’s knowledge. When he excels at academics, the principal comes to talk to his father to suggest that he goes to a better school. But the father after finding out that the son was going to school without going to work, that too a school that teaches western information, he beats the kid and orders him to stop going to school. The kid begs to let him go to school. The father then asks the kid, ‘How does sun rises and sets?’ The kid with the knowledge he acquired at school tells explains about the axis, earth’s rotation and all. The father grows angrier and beats the kid more saying, ‘This is what those westerners teach. They are infidels. The sun raises because 70000 angels push the sun up and sets because 70000 angels bring it down.’ That day, that kid’s heart breaks and decides he won’t believe in a religion that stopped him from going to school.’ This simple scene speaks volumes.
Many such scenarios are described in this book. Denial of education and basic rights for girl child, child marriages, polyamory, lack of birth control, domestic abuse, rape culture, etc. You can also find many number of facts about the situation in Iran and Syria, poverty, civil war, repression, prisons, refuge camps and many more. I recommend everyone to read this book.
Author of this book, Dr Majid Rafizadeh is half Iranian and half Syrian. He graduated from Harvard and is now a renowned Iranian-American political scientist and president of the International American Council on the Middle East. He serves on the board of Harvard International Review of Harvard International Relations Council.
He accredits all his success to his mother’s sacrifices and hard work to provide food and other basic needs.