Our Discussions

Living as a Minority
1 (a pedar)

Teaching Farsi or celebrating Christmas does is just two aspects of living as a minority group. I suggest that we should learn from other successful minority groups. For example Jewish people have learned how to be a successful minority over some 2000 years. They definitely do not celebrate Christmas and they do teach their own language.

I personally have taught my two daughters to celebrate other people's happiness but not to celebrate birth of the god as son of the god who is created by god in the form of holly ghost (The holly trinity)!!!

2 (a mother)


As a Roman Catholic and Hispanic, I grew up back in my country of origin, celebrating Christmas as the birth of Jesus, yes, the god as a Son of God who is created by God in the form of a Holy Ghost (Holy Trinity!). Coming to Canada, I continue to celebrate the way I grew up, passing along "the happiness" of this season, to my own children. Last year, when we went to church on Christmas day, my then 6 year-old daughter asked to approach the Nativity to sing the Happy Birthday song to Jesus, and I didn't mind, we -my children and I- went. On Nooruz, I prepared a beautiful table with all the "si" things (which I would have to go back to my book where I wrote the list to name them for you). The kids loved it and enjoyed very much so, to learn about how mommy and daddy used to celebrate different festivities, holidays, customs, traditions, whatever you want to call them. As the "new" generation of a family from two different roots (Persian and Hispanic) and speaking both languages that might help them later on in life or simply to communicate with the family backhome, growing up in a society where English customs are most of the times the norm, and attending French (no French immersion, but Francophone) school, my children have had the opportunity to value the different ways that people around the world do things, and I would most importantly say they, as we,-my husband and I- are blessed to be HUMAN BEINGS that can view the world from different perspectives. And that to tell you the truth, is one of the best opportunities, I am sure, we have experienced in life. Being "a visible minority" to the catching eye, doesn't necessarily makes us "different" because, the bottom of most of the cultures around the world, are based on one single platform: Respect and love to others like you would like them to do to you.

I actually think that we here in Toronto, are lucky, to have the opportunity to visualize the entire world, right here in our own city. We work with people that have come from different backgrounds, from each corner of the world that I never when I was a kid, thought I would work with, i.e. a manager from Japanese ancestors, and colleagues of a variety of backgrounds, British, Polish-Italian, Ukranian, French, Jamaican, Russian, Indian, Tanzania, Italian. I do think that "being different" to the catching eye, and this is the way I feel, makes us "specials". Some of us emigrated from our countries of origin, many years before the rest of people that work with us, and that might be the only difference. We can actually share and enjoy the different ways we do one same thing. I don't see each of my colleagues, neither myself, as a minority (now those that came before me, their population might be majority that my ethnic group, which I don't bother in consider that). I consider myself and rest of the "different ethnic groups" I work, socialize, live with, as HUMAN BEINGS. That is what I teach my kids to respect, every single human being, and put themselves in their shoes all the time. I know that in some parts of the world the way we live here in Toronto might not be experience the same way. I understand that.

For now, let's have a feast with the ones that want to have a feast. Let's seat with the one that needs to talk. Let's be one of the same, sharing what we all have in common: a heart that feels and love to share.

Happy holidays to everyone, khosh begzare!

3 (a madar)

I would like to share an experience with all the parents .

My parents moved to Tehran when I was 2 years old . I was not born in tehran but Tehran is the only city I remember . I went to elementary school , high school , had tehrani friends . Went to tehran's coffee shops, Tehran's parks , All my memories are from tehran . But the whole time I was told that I am not Tehrani . I felt left alone at school . I always thought I don't belong to this city . It is so bad to feel garibeh in your life . I remember I asked for several foods or special ceremonies and my mother always said that belongs to Tehrani people . Now I ask myself why , I was tehrani too . Why they made me to feel separate .

I decided not to do that with my kids . my kids are born here . They have iranina/american names . We celebrate Christmas because we live here and we are a part of this society . And we celebrate Norooz because we are originally Iranians . I tell them this is the benefit of being immigrant . You get toys for Christmas and Money for Norouz . ( They are 4 and 1) Please do not separate your kids from others . I agree with betty . We all believe in same God . We all want happiness and share the same country . Why don't share their holiday and happiness too . They were good enough to accept us to their country to have a better life . But not good enough to be happy with them and celebrate with them.

4 (a madar)

With all the respect to everyone there are certain scientific facts found in this regard that I need to share with you.

In Quoran there is a mathematical code found that proves all holy books are sent by God. And just recently by the help of computer they found that all the initialed suras are actually mathematical code of that section. Meaning that if one word were to change the whole mathematical code would colapse. (everything in Quoran is divisible by 19)

The point is in that book as well as all other holly books "Idle Worship" has been condemned by God. All messengers (Moses, Aoron,...,Gesus,...,Mohammad,...) they had one message: "Worship God Alone". Nowhere in any of the holly books you can find that a messenger is saying worship me and ask me I will give it to you. They have always said Worship Only God and Obey me. Always they said: Give all praises to God Alone.

Since everyone knows that Bible was not sent down in English and it was translated. If you research you'll find that the word that was translated to Father was "Patriak" (I may have misspelled it) which means Owner. Gesus also says my father and your father. He never ever meant biological father. Gesus and all other messengers where HUMAN like us. GOD says in Quoran: Creation of Gesus was like creation of Adam...

How come we don't call Adam Son of God?

The only SIN that will not be forgiven in the day of Judgment is IDLE WORSHIP. GOD says I only send down one religion with different rituals for different communities. The Only religion that will be accepted by GOD is religion of submission to GOD ALONE.

Now most followers off ALL the religions around the world had made their own idles and they are praying to humans and worshiping humans besides GOD.

You can find more Info on:


5 (a madar)

Regarding this difficult-to-understand email about religion: the phrase is "IDOL WORSHIP", not "IDLE WORSHIP", which would suggest lazy worshippers.

6 (a pedar)

re: scientific evidence.

The fact that the essence and purity of all Messanger's messages, have been lost in translations is acceptable. But as long as we accept the essence and the message, the way we accept it does not matter. I think before we question practices of others we may want to research our own as to:

1) What is inside the House of Ka'beh and why general public is prohibited to see the inside?
2) What did Mohammad mean when he said: Laa Elaaha Ella Allah. The translation is: There is no God other than Allah. The translation is NOT: There is no other god other than God.

Do we know who or what was Allah?

It is unfortunate that most people get stuck in the WAY and MANNER in which spirituality is practiced, rather than bypass all of it and reach the Spirituality itself. Those who take the structured path (religion), no matter which shape or form, also get there if they ignore the trivia of way and manner. In Islam, these are separated in the Osool'e Din as the basis and Frou'e Din as ways and means. Christianity has it's own ways and means. It should be noted that not all branches of Christianity believe that Jesus was Son of God. For those who do, it is their belief and is their way and mean for reaching God. I respect that.

As in our house, we celebrate the coming of the American New Year seven days in advance and continue until the day of New Year. In Spring we celebrate the Iranian New Year at the beginning of the new year and continue for thirteen days. I think the tradition of having an evergreen tree in the house before the start of winter was started by the Nordics before there was Christianity as part of celebration of Winter. Much the same as the tradition of Haft-Seen was there before Islam as celebration of Spring..

Scientifically, it is now an accepted fact that Jesus was not born on December 25th. The fact that his birthday was set at exactly seven (a holy number in both Persian and Roman cultures) days before the start of Roman New Year is very interesting, isn't it?

7 (a pedar)

Can those who claim Iranians are a minority please explain what makes us a minority?

It can't be our number, because there are less people from Luxamburg in US and they are not a minority!

It can't be our race, because our race is caucasian and caucasians are not a minority!

It can't be our looks, because we look like the Greek and Italians and ....., and Greek and Italians and..... are not a minority!

It can't be our language, because speaking English as a second language does not make a French, Greek, Italian, German or..... a minority!

So what is it that makes us a minority? I really don't know and would like to find out.

8 (a madar)

Baa Salam

Every once a while we get an e-mail about religion. I don't usually comment on them.

I believe that it is very personal. Most of us need to believe in something. There are various ways of worshiping God. It is not "my way or no way" But I cannot close my eyes to all the crimes committed by the name of God and religion.

Try to be a true "ensan" and you will never hurt another person no matter how different they or their believes are from you .

May our hearts be filled with kindness

9 (a madar)

A "minority" refers to a large group of people who challenge the "majority". The reason people from Luxembourg are not a minority is due precisely to the fact that their numbers are too small to make a difference in the majority vote. While the word "minority" is often used to refer to groups of people who come from a certain race or religion or political affiliation, it has come to mean much more. In a broad sense, being part of a minority group is a good thing because it implies that this particular group of people has become influential enough to be making an impact on the mainstream, whether culturally or politically. In the political and social arenas, race is not always a factor in naming a when considering groups whose ideas, opinions, and involvement in the community have a strong impact, the word "minority group" is commonly used. In our case, I think this means that Iranians, as a cultural unit, have become visible in the community. This is something to cheer about.

On the other hand, in the history and traditions of America, a minority has usually denoted a person who does not come from the majority white, Anglo-Saxon, Christian majority --traditionally, these people have enjoyed the privileges of American "democracy" far more than others. However, this is changing rapidly. In a few decades, this "majority" will no longer have the numbers to call themselves a "majority" -- finally.


10 ( pedar # 7)

I think the definition of "minority" is a bit broader. I agree that, "minority" challenges the "majority". However, the reason for the "challenge" is because "minorities", do not enjoy the same rights and privileges afforded to the "majority". Therefore, the challenge to aquire the same rights and previleges as the majority is a healthy challenge and a much needed one.

The reason people from Luxamburg are not a minority is due to the fact that they enjoy all the same rights and previliges as any other person.

Someone else stated that Iranians are minority because we look different, we have a different religion and we speak a different language. I agree with the fact that we are different, only in the sense that every individual is different. However, being different does not make us a minority. We as Iranians are different in our looks and religion and language even amongst ourselves.

I agree whole heartedly with the person that felt "not belonging in Tehran". To promote our rich culture to our new society is the most wonderful thing we can do. However, convincing ourselves and teaching our children that they "do not belong" is not a healthy thing to do. (At least it is not in this writer's opinion.) Being different as having a second cultural background is a benefit to our children, only if, we promote it as such. By telling them they are a "minority", because their parents happen to have migrated from a place with a richer cultural value, is not to their benefit.

I think we should only consider "pushing" for Iranians as a "minority", if and only if, Iranian-Americans were afforded less rights and previliges as the "white" majority. I don't believe that's the case, since Iranians have a presense in almost every commercial, intitutional, political and educational establishment in US. I don't think that we have been given any reduced rights as a group in general. Therefore, I see us "contributing" to the society. I don't see us needing to "challenge" anything.

11 ( a pedar )

Hello all:

As an introduction, I like to introduce myself, my name is A. and I am 38 years old, left Iran, 1976.

I read a forwarded message to me about "living as a minority" with great interest. However, I think it is very important that we distinguish the celebrations and their meanings in both cultures we have adopted.

First I must say we cannot compare Christmas with Norooz, since the former is celebrating the birth of Jesus, the prophet and the latter is celebrating the changing of old with new. As we all know Norooz has no religious connotation but Christmas has. If we are to celebrate Christmas, why not celebrate Hanuka too, the argument that the original e-mail had should still be valid.

Although I am a Muslim by birth, I do not practice the religion, and it is true that we all believe in the same God, but I would like to ask you all if your Christian friends, wifes, husbands would join in the festivities of Ayde Ghorban!, or Sine Zani Ashura!! or fast during the month of Ramadan and celebrate the end of the fasting "Ayde Fetr"!! as we all know it was during this month that Koran was given to Mohamed the Prophet so shouldn't we ALL celebrate this great and momentous occasion?!

Celebrating the New Year on the other hand, i.e. December 31st @ midnight is something else.

Let us not confuse our children, but teach them about who they are and where their roots are, and when they become adults, they can decide if they want to celebrate a religious festivity outside their religious belief.

Thank you for you time.

12 ( a madar )

Hello to Everybody

I grow up in Iran and came here just 6 years ago . We celebrate Christmas because It is beautiful . I celebrate every occasion that brings happiness to our house . I won't ask my American relatives to celebrate Aid ghorban or cine zani because even myself as a Moslem Iranian do not celebrate those . As a kid I was so afraid to look at a sheep being killed . I still have same feeling . I never liked sineh zani , It was sad, everybody was crying . To me as a Kid All the men in black cloths were killing themselves with these iron tools . I wish we had more happiness associate with our religion like Christmas . All the happy celebrations that we have are coming from our Iranian culture like Noo rouz and Yalda ....

13 ( a madar )

I just like to point out that Sine Zani and all the other ceremony like that is forbidden in the true Islam.

Have you paid any attention to all the symbols they carry in front of Sine Zani groups they all Christianity symbols (cross). Also according to true Islam you are not to harm your body, you are responsible to take care of your body and all the ceremonies related to Sine Zani are hurtful to your body. Unfortunately some how over the years we lost the true meaning of Aushura. Besides as Shiite we morn during this time as Sunni you are to celebrate.

Also I like to mention that there is nothing wrong to celebrate Birth of Jesus or Hanukkah( or any other Jewish holiday) as a Muslim we do believe in the Moses and Jesus.

I am not saying to celebrate or not, everybody needs to make their own decision( and everybody else should respect their decsion). But just remember your kids. Teach them all the religions and holidays and please not to pass your prejudice to them, let try to make this world a little bit less hateful.

Thank you for listening to me

p.s. I consider myself a muslim.

14 ( a madar )

It is beautiful To share and enjoy each other's celebrations.

Love & Peace

ps I don't consider sineh zani as a celebration I personally consider it as a violent act

15 ( pedar # 1)

Great definition and good points, (refering to madar # 9) I hope that we keep our identity and respect and do not become like the one million Greek in New York who hear about Xmass only on 25th and nothing on the traditional Greek Orthodox Xmass. I believe that we have a chance of keeping our identity because we have enough concentrated number and economic power to be counted. All we need is the will to be counted, few lessons from others and a belief in our ability.

I mention the Jews because they are the only minority who has successfully kept its identity in America. Keeping your identity is a skill that they have been thought by centuries of hardship while in minority. Just look at Iranian Jews in Los Angles; they have kept more of their Iranian identity than other Iranian groups! I hope that we are open minded enough to learn more from them.

Please send your replies and/or opinions regarding this subject to madar-pedar@surya.eecs.berkeley.edu.

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