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Facts about Tehran

Tehran, is the capital of Iran, and one of the biggest cities in the world (in terms of population as well as surface area).

Here are a few facts that i did NOT know about my old home town:

  • 280km of highways and 180 km of loops, ramps and exchanges! unparalleled in west asia.
  • Excavatios at the site of Tehran, put earliest settlements in that region to around 6000 BC!
  • Tehran has the longest metro line in the middle East after Tel Aviv, and 6th longest in Asia.
  • Tehran has the MOST BUST STOPS of any city IN ASIA. (i didnt see that one coming)
  • 27 people die PER DAY in Tehran, due to its bad air pollution.
  • Maximum numbers of deaths in a month due to pollution: 3600!!!
  • The Tehran Stock Exchange has been one of the world’s best performing exchanges in recent yeras
  • There are nearly 50 universities and colleges in teh Greater Tehran Area.
  • Tehran’s Azadi football stadium is the biggest in middle east, 3rd biggest in Asia, 4th biggest in the world (FIFA)
  • 10 minutes drive from Tehran will get you to Tochal Ski resort, 5th highest ski resort in the world (3730 metres), and its highest 7th station.
  • The Tehran Internation Book Fair is considered by the international publishing world to be the most important  publishing event in Asia and Middle East
  • Sister cities to Tehran include: New York City, LA, Toronto (yay), London, Beijing, Moscow and New Dehli (among others)

Cool. thank you wikipedia!

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Through a twisted path i came across this quote today, attributed to the prophet of Islam, Muhammad:

‘If learning were suspended at the highest parts of heaven the Iranians would attain it.’

In fact i came across it in an excerpt of an essay by famous Iranologist Richard Frye, wherein he quotes Ibn Khaldun.  Now i did not know who he was, this Ibn Khaldun, and was much more surprised that i did not know him, after finding out who he actually is!

According to Wikipedia,

was a North African polymath — an astronomer,economisthistorianIslamic scholarIslamic theologianhafizjuristlawyermathematicianmilitary strategistnutritionistphilosopher,social scientist and statesman—born in North Africa in present-day Tunisia. He is considered a forerunner of several social scientific disciplines: demographycultural historyhistoriography, the philosophy of history, and sociology.  He is also considered one of the forerunners of modern economics …  Ibn Khaldun is considered by many to be the father of a number of these disciplines, and of social sciences in general, for anticipating many elements of these disciplines centuries before they were founded in the West. He is best known for his Muqaddimah (known asProlegomenon in the West), the first volume of his book on universal historyKitab al-Ibar.

Seems like quite a character!  Its a shame that we are so well indoctrinated on western (i.e. european) thinkers, and miss out on all the incredible other characters from the world.

Anyways, Ibn Khaldun has  a passage in his Muqaddimah, wherein he makes a reference to aforementioned hadith by Muhammad regarding Iranians:

”It is a remarkable fact that, with few exceptions, most Muslim scholars both in the religious and intellectual sciences have been non-Arabs… Thus the founders of grammar were Sibawaih, and after him al-Farisi and al- Zajjaj. All of them were of Iranian descent. They were brought up in the Arabic language and acquired knowledge of it throught their upbringing and through contact with the Arabs. They invented the rules (of grammar) and made it into a discipline for later generations. Most of the hadith scholars, who preserved the traditions of the Prophet for the Muslims, were also Iranians, or Persian in language and breeding, because the discipline was widely cultivated in Iraq and regions beyond. Furthermore, all the great jurists were Iranians, as is well known. The same applies to speculative theologians, and to most of the Qur’an commentators. Only the Iranians engaged in the task of preserving knowledge and writing systematic scholarly works. Thus the truth of the statement of the Prophet becomes apparent, ‘If learning were suspended at the highest parts of heaven the Iranians would attain it.’ The intellectual sciences were also the preserve of the Iranians, left alone by the Arabs, who did not cultivate them. They were cultivated by Arabicized Iranians, as was the case with all the crafts, as we stated at the beginning. This situation continued in the cities as long as the Iranian, and the Iranian lands, Iraq, Khurasan and ma wara-l-nahr, retained their sedentary culture. But when those cities fell into ruins,

sedentary culture, which God has devised for the attainment of the sciences and the crafts, disappeared from them. “

Wow, i did not know that! That arabic grammar was basically systematized and formed by Persian scholars after the arabic conquest.
Professor Edward G. Browne summarizes the extent of Iranian’s contribution to Arabian science as follows:
Take from what is generally called Arabian science from exegesis, tradition, theology, philosophy, medicine, lexicography, history, biography, even Arabic grammar the work contributed by Persians and the best part is gone. (Ed Browne, Vol. I, p. 204)

Wow, i did not know that! That arabic grammar, in its modern form, was basically systematized and formed by Persian scholars after the arabic conquest, namely one named Sibawayh.  Once again according to Wikipedia:

Abu Beshr ʻAmr ibn ʻUthman ibn Qanbar Al-Beşrey (aka:Sibawayh) (Sibuyeh in Persian, سيبويه Sîbawayh in Arabic, سیبویه) was alinguist of Persian origin born ca. 760 in the town of Bayza (ancient Nesayak) in the Fars province of Iran, died in Shiraz, also in the Fars, around 180 AH (796797).

He was one of the earliest and greatest grammarians of the Arabic language, and his phonetic description of Arabic is one of the most precise ever made, leading some to compare him with Panini. He greatly helped to spread the Arabic language in the Middle East.

Of interest also is the motivation for such work:

Much of the impetus for this work came from the desire for non-Arab Muslims to understand the Qur’an properly and thoroughly; the Qur’an, which is composed in a poetic language that even native Arabic speakers must study with great care in order to comprehend thoroughly, is even more difficult for those who, like Sibawayh, did not grow up speaking Arabic

The other named by Ibn Khaldun is:

Kamal al-Din Abu’l-Hasan Muhammad Al-Farisi (1267-ca.1319/1320[1]) (Persianكمال‌الدين ابوالحسن محمد فارسی) was a prominent PersianMuslim physicistmathematician, and scientist born in TabrizIran. He made two major contributions to science, one on optics, the other on number theory. Al-Farisi was a pupil of the great astronomer and mathematician Qutb al-Din al-Shirazi, who in turn was a pupil of Nasir al-Din Tusi.

Now, we all know (or perhaps dont know), that a great number of the so called “islamic scientists/philosophers” were in fact Persians, but who – forcibly – spoke, wrote and published in arabic.  These include – but are not limited to – the likes of :

  • Avicenna: “father of modern medicine”, “father of geology”, (first to introduce the notion of momentum in physics, 500 years before galileo), among a ton of other things
  • Zakaria Razi: considered by many to be the greatest of the “islamic” scientists, “father of pediatrics”, discoverer of ethanol and its refining, author of first treatise on infectious disease, pioneer in neurosurgery and ophtamology
  • Khayyam: one greatest mathematician of his age, one of the greatest poets of all time, possibly the first person to have proposed a heliocentric astronomic model (500 years before copernicus), and philosopher
  • Biruni : one of first exponents of experimental scientific method (the first to introduce experimentation to the study of mechanics, mineralogy, sociology, pscyhology), ‘first’ anthropologist, critic of astrology and alchemy, (not to mention having the great fortune as sharing the same birthday as me!!!)
  • Kharazmi: the founder of modern algebra
  • Farabi: (philosopher, physicists, logician, … )

just to name a few  (here is a more exhaustive list).

Professor Edward G. Browne summarizes the extent of Iranian’s contribution to Arabian science as follows:

Take from what is generally called Arabian science from exegesis, tradition, theology, philosophy, medicine, lexicography, history, biography, even Arabic grammar the work contributed by Persians and the best part is gone. (Ed Browne, Vol. I, p. 204)

Now i admit, a good part of my motivation for this ‘rant’ of sorts is that damn Iran Nationalism which I can’t seem to rid myself of, peppered with a small but omnipresent dose of begrudgement against arabs (i truly am tryign to get rid of that, and have done a fairly good job in the past years),

But here is my point: anytime you look up any of these names, in almost any encyclopedia ESPECIALLY in the west, they are identified as “islamic” scientists, or philsophers, or poets, or…whatever!

That is the the equivalent of calling Isaac Newton, Rene Descartes, Christian Huygens, and James clerk Maxwell, simply as “christian scientists”.

It makes no sense! What does religion have anythign to do with it.

Either you dispense with the qualifying adjectives before the name, be it religious, or nationalistic, or you stick to the ethnicity/nationality of the thinker.  What does religion have anythign to do with it.

On a final note, Richard Frye, comes across as a very interesting character himself. As a world renowned scholar (prof emeritus still at Harvard), he has been one of the true champions of Persian/Iranian culture through his lifetime.  Here is an interview he had with CNN regarding his wish to be buried in Isfahan upon his death (like two other noted Iranologists Arthur Pope and Phyllis Ackerman).  I just love his comment at the end regarding the Islamic republic and how the Iranian people will get through this as they have for thousands of years:

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I just listened to Mohsen Makhmalbaf, who’s been speakign – officially according to him – on behalf of Moussavi’s camp outside of the country.

He was just on BBC Persian, and he basically said that Ahmadinejad was in Russia, in order to ensure their backing against this uprising in exchange for caspian sea territory and other things.

He then literally used the term “russian backed coup d’etat” and comparing it directly the 1953 CIA-backed Coup d’etat against the Mossadegh saying that 22nd of khordad will from now on be mentioned in the same breath as 28 mordad.

I dont know about you, but that’s huge! both as an allegation, and if it is true.

For non-Iranian readers, let me give you some context.  Iranians are by their nature and history, quite conspiratorial, paranoid and suspicious of foreign governments (due to 2500 years of history, of invasions, wars, and betrayals).  If you think they have somethign against the american government, you should know that this suspicious pales in comparison to the two main most disliked, distrusted nations: The british, and Russia.  The english due to over 100 years of meddlign in teh region for oil profits, and Russia because of the tension due their borders and years of land grabs, and self-impositions due to Iran’s strategic position connecting the caspian and the persian gulf.

This is why, it is one reason that the Russian coup d’etat comment is understandable, and ‘close’ to the heart of Iranians.  But still when i first heard it, it is outrageous i thought.  However i guess when you think about it, Russia has MUCH to gain from infiltration in Iran, as a means of takign advantage of the current turmoil.

Furthermore, with Ahmadinejad in Moscow, shaking hands with Medvedev, Russia becomes one fo the few ‘big’ states that have acknowledge Ahmadi’s “legitimacy” as the duely re-elected iranian president.

I dont know what to think about this. What do you think?

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More good news from Seymour Hersh

First watch this video:

Here is the New Yorker article “Preparing the Battlefield” mentioned.  Here is a brief excerpt:

ate last year, Congress agreed to a request from President Bush to fund a major escalation of covert operations against Iran, according to current and former military, intelligence, and congressional sources. These operations, for which the President sought up to four hundred million dollars, were described in a Presidential Finding signed by Bush, and are designed to destabilize the country’s religious leadership. The covert activities involve support of the minority Ahwazi Arab and Baluchi groups and other dissident organizations. They also include gathering intelligence about Iran’s suspected nuclear-weapons program.Clandestine operations against Iran are not new. United States Special Operations Forces have been conducting cross-border operations from southern Iraq, with Presidential authorization, since last year….

Furthermore, here is an interesting interview by teh New Yorker with Seymour Hersh:

There are several things which are interesting (which for example we see in the video), for example the fact that the Democrats are looking on purpose the other way, and accepting the money going to this operation.  Goes to show you how complicit the Democrats are with the war mongering republicans, possibly far worse, since they say one thing and give hope to people and then do the opposite.

on a possibly related news, or at least interesting at the same time as all this, is the Mujadeddin Khalgh demonstrations across Europe (who are proponenets of armed opposition to the current iranian regime), having already been removed from the “terrorist blacklist” by the UK, and well underway in other european countries such as france.

I know i’d said i didnt want to write any more politics, but with SO MUCH good news coming out all at once what can i do?

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This is a speech from Ron Paul at the house of representatives in the US, regarding the continual rise of energy cost, and tying it eventually to the situation, the continuous threats by the US and Israel against Iran.  He finally also mentions a bill about ot be passed, which would install sanctions/embargo not unlike what was put against Iraq in the 10 years preceing the illegal invasion in 2003.

While we are spreading this good news, there is this other bill.…now i’m not sure if it is the same bill or another, but here is a taste of what is being proposed:

A US House of Representatives Resolution effectively requiring a naval blockade on Iran seems fast tracked for passage, gaining co-sponsors at a remarkable speed, but experts say the measures called for in the resolutions amount to an act of war [italics added].

H.CON.RES 362 calls on the president to stop all shipments of refined petroleum products from reaching Iran. It also “demands” that the President impose “stringent inspection requirements on all persons, vehicles, ships, planes, trains and cargo entering or departing Iran.”

Analysts say that this would require a US naval blockade in the Strait of Hormuz.

Since its introduction three weeks ago, the resolution has attracted 146 cosponsors. Forty-three members added their names to the bill in the past two days.

In the Senate, a sister resolution S.RES 580 has gained co-sponsors with similar speed. The Senate measure was introduced by Indiana Democrat Evan Bayh on June 2. In little more than a week’s time, it has accrued 19 co-sponsors.

It might be the same bill, i’m not sure.  Where is the media coverage of somethign like this? not just in the US, i dont think ANYONE is expecting fair or real media coverage of this in the US. But elsewhere? in Europe? France?

What is also worrisome, is how the democrats are lined up behind this as readily as republicans.  But then again, are we really surprised? Does anyone thing any real change will come, even with a Barak Obama? Not really, at least not me.  did you hear his speech to AIPAC? This new bill has been endorsed by the AIPAC, and all of htis happening a couple of weeks after the AIPAC summit on june 2-4.

We/I can only hope that this nearly inevitable march to war will – somehow – be stopped in its tracks before another step is taken towards this unnecessary and criminal war.

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Ask an Iraqi

UPDATE: The original video was blocked, so i’ve found another copy of it now on Youtube.

I came across this clip by accident. It is a segment from Ira Glass’s “this american life”. I did not know of this show, but it has begun running recently on Showtime i believe, and was originally an award-winnign radio show in the US on public radio.

This particular segment, which i found beautiful and powerful, is about an Iraqi who goes around the US, with a small wooden booth titled “talk to an iraqi”, and he just sits there and lets people come and ask to him.

What you see, is fascinating on a human level, on a psychological level, and helps explain a lot. For me it recofirmed the power of words. How many of the orindary americans (as well many ordinary people of ANY country) are able to regurgitate slogans that are fed to them, over and over by their governemnt, without the least bit of reflexion on their meaning.

i just found it so well down, because it was not emotional, not manipulative, simple and moving. Enjoy (and spread it if you like it):

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… filipino “slaves”?

04:49 – July 26, 2007

[tags]embassy, baghdad, US, 592 million dollars, philippines, filipino[/tags]

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02:30 – January 28, 2007

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Finally i’ve been able to find the video of Darren Jordan’s interiew with Seyour Hersh. This was on Al Jazeera English last week. I wish Hersh didn’t have such a good track record as an investigative journalists, because there’s not much in what he says that would give an iranian (or anyone opposed to war) much hope. Enjoy:

07:08 – March 04, 2007
06:05 – March 04, 2007

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I’m sure we’ve all heard the news of the conference on Iraq security wherein Iran and Syria have also been invited along with the US. And so far Iran has not given a clear answer other than saying, it would want to attend if for no other reason than to help stablize iraq and thereby the whole region.

Some analysts are saying that Iran is trying to weigh the reason for such a quick ‘turnaround’ by the americans. And i dont blame them.

To me, this has clear meaning: the attack that will place – soon – will be undertaken by Israel.

If we think about it clearly, it makes sense. First of all this fits in with the revelation a few days ago, that the Israeli air force was seeking clearance to fly over several arab country’s airspace (i have read subsequently that they have been given this clearance.

Furthermore, think about the article by Hersh, that i wrote about in the last post. One of the main concerns by teh Saudi’s was that amerian intervention would vilify their allies byond repair and that they would prefer israel to do undertake the attacks. In addition it has become clear that there is a major resistance agains this new wary both within the population in the US, as well the high end military officials (thanks for the link, politcky).

It makes a lot of Sense for the US not to get directly involved at this point, and most importantly be the INSTIGATOR.

I would say that it would make things much more difficult for Iran. First of all they would have a hard time actually attack israel in any direct way, since as soon as their planes were over iraqi airspace on teh way to israel, they would be attacked by american forces, saying its’ a violation of iraqi airspace. Secondly, if they were to attack american interesting iraq or the pesian gulf, that would give americans an easy, legal entry into direct confrontation with Iran. They would no longer worry about justifying anythign to the american congress (not that the congress has any true power to stop ‘the decider’), nor to their own people, nor to the world. They wuold easily portray themselves as the victims.

I wouldn’t doubt that hezbollah would reach ‘on behalf’ of iran, but that is not the same thing. The other option is Iran won’t do anything (which is very unlikely) in which case no body in the world would mind, and the bully tactics of the opressors US (and their military division, i.e. Israel) would win, and who the world that force is the best way to do anythign when you’re the only superpower in the world.

I hope i am completely wrong. I truly do.

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