02 May 2006

From the Shahnameh

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Iranian exile Reza Aslan shares a personal memory in the Sunday Times Book Review:

I first visited Persepolis two years ago. Born in Iran but raised in the United States, I knew the place only from dusty academic books about the glories of pre-Islamic Iran. I was totally unprepared for the crowds I saw there. Busloads of schoolchildren from nearby Shiraz filed through the complex of temples and palaces. A tour guide walked an older group up a stone stairway etched with row upon row of subject nations humbly presenting themselves before the king, or shah, of Iran. Families laid out sheets and napped in the shade cast by the intricately carved walls.

Breaking away from the crowd, I noticed a boy scrawling graffiti on the side of a massive stone block. Horrified, I shooed him away. When I moved closer to see what he had written, I immediately recognized a verse, familiar to many Iranians, taken from the pages of Iran’s national epic, the “Shahnameh.”

Damn this world, damn this time, damn this fate,
That uncivilized Arabs have come to make me Muslim.

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marg bar eslam

marg bar eslam ghoraan va tamame kesani ke khodeshun ro mosalmun midunan ridam be ghoran



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