Salman Rushdie’s stabbing is part of an American phenomenon
By Parnaz Foroutan, author of “Home Is a Stranger”
On the first day of school, my first grade teacher instructed us that if we heard our parents playing music at home, if they had certain books of poetry on their shelves, if they drank wine, if they danced, if they invited friends over, if our mothers dressed immodestly, if our fathers listened to unsanctioned radio stations, if we saw our school friends at the park without hijabs, we should report these things to her immediately. A good student followed the rules of Islam.
I wanted to be a good student. I wrote my alphabet with meticulous handwriting in my state-issued notebook so that she might give me a star. I stood in the school line on cold autumn mornings and swore my allegiance to Islam and the supreme leader of Iran, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. I recited the names of the 12 imams of Shia Islam in front of the class. I walked straight home from school passing young men with guns who volunteered their time to police morals and arrest dissidents.
In the evenings, my parents spoke in whispers while I did my homework, until one afternoon they told me I wouldn’t return to school the following day, that we were leaving Iran. I worried about missing class and not learning how to read. My father assured me that I still would as he packed my notebook in the single suitcase we were taking. In the lining, he also hid two volumes of poetry, a book by Sohrab Sepehri, another by Forough Farrokhzad.
In America, I practiced my cursive on worksheets. My father listened to the radio each evening. My parents invited friends over. Sometimes they danced. Sometimes they read poetry. There was always music. By and by, I learned to write words, and then, in one moment, I learned to read. I sounded out the same paragraph, over and over, until suddenly the words opened themselves for me and there I was, in an attic with a girl named Anne, hiding.
Epigraph: And if you are in doubt as to what We (Allah) have sent down to Our servant (Muhammad), then produce a Chapter like it, and call upon your helpers […]
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To Know more how you can benefit from the Muslim Times, go to our Homepage or About Us page Written and collected by Zia H Shah MD, Chief Editor of the Muslim Times As the internet […]