Our Discussions

Children and Religion
1 (a pedar)
Your web site has been forwarded to me by "ICAS", and Iranian cultural group in Seattle. The site is excellent and rich in information. I have even printed the site for my file. It was striking to me that among all the subjects and titles under discussion religion was missing. My children are already grown up and I am not worried about them. But I am keenly interested in the fate of future generations of Iranian Americans. I am deeply committed to do my best and help preserve and transfer the cultural heritage of Iran to our children. But can we separate our cultural heritage from the religious heritage? Due to multitude factors the young generation of Iranians in America have been deprived from knowledge and appreciation of a very rich religious heritage in Iran that their forefathers have painfully safeguarded for them. They have benefited from this heritage in their childhood upbringing and their family life but they have scarcely had the chance to study their religion deeply and adequately. Now they have landed in America where religion is incorporated in the culture of every day life in a peculiar way. Forty per cent of Americans go regularly to church on Sundays. An average American family makes $ 250.00 contribution to his/hers church/synagog/temple. Children of Iranian families come home and ask their parents about Islam, about their Sunday School or religious youth club. They have very little to offer them. Other religious minorities such as Iranian Jews, Armenians and Bahais have more to offer. But Muslims families are notoriously at odds with themselves when they want to talk to their children about Islam. Do you think that we , as Muslim Madar Wa Pedar, can have the luxury of raising our children in America without giving them a chance to become familiar with their religious heritage? When I talk about Islam I certainly do not associate it with any government or political ideology. If you find this discussion can be useful and doe not create emotional responses please forward it to others.
2 (a madar)
This note left me a little puzzled, I did not realize that this forum is for Muslim parents, I thought this is for "Iranian" parents. Can you please shed some light!!?
3 (a madar)
You are right. this is a forum for madar and pedars without or with any religion. There is no bias regarding the issues that we discuss. therefore, it is up to parents to decide whether they want to discuss how to impose children to religion, or keep them from being imposed to religion. I think it is appropriate to discuss different issues as long as we keep our discussoins healthy, away from judgement, and with respect to all parenting styles.
again, there are many parents in this alias with different religions or different biases towards religion. The topics are parenting issues and are chosen by parents who feel the need to learn from each other.
4 (a madar)
Dear Pedar # 1, I think the reason religion has not featured is because it's a touchy subject and brings out a lot of emotions in people. I do however think it is important and have a few points to make on the subject and your email. Before I start I just would like to say (since this is a touchy subject, specially for Iranians)I am not in favour or against any particular religion, people should be free to believe in what they like, I'm just stating some facts and personal views.
Point 1) Islam is not part of Iranian culture. Correct me if I'm wrong, but wasn't it forced upon us by the Arab invasion to our country? This therefore needs to be explained to our children as part of Iranian history, not our culture.
Point 2) Iranians have a rich religious culture of Zartoshti, we worshiped one god well before Arab, European and other nations and named him Ahooromazda. I think we as Iranians have a duty to keep this religious culture alive for our children and I personally would like to know more about the Iranian religion Zartoshti as to me Zartosht sums up all religious values (Koran, Bible, etc, etc) into three beautiful Farsi sentences:
Kerdare Neek
Pendare Neek
Goftare Neek
So far as moral values go, I think the above is all we need to teach our children.
5 (a madar)
I would like my children to learn about religions and how they all want to help people and have the same message of peace in common. The difficulty is that I don't want my children to be religious in the sense of practicing a specific ritual out of duty. I want them to appreciate the common goal of all religions as a guideline for healthy social life as a part of human "culture" that we can build on rather than as a "religion". I want to ask other parents what they tell their children if they are not religious themselvs and how they say it.
thank you,
6 (a mother)
Dear Madar/Pedar,
I am writing in reference to the subject RELIGION & CHILDREN. I have yet to see a direction for this conversation. The way I interpreted the question, was, how we, as parents, introduce and support religion in our families, allowing for the fact that many of us are not Christian, as is the majority in the United States.
I do not think the original poster had in mind that everyone was Muslim, but alluded to his/her own situation. I do not see any purpose in otherwise addressing a diverse group of parents. I am not quite sure what this statement means:
"Children of Iranian families come home and ask their parents about Islam, about their Sunday School or religious youth club. They have very little to offer them. Other religious minorities such as Iranian Jews, Armenians and Bahais have more to offer. But Muslims families are notoriously at odds with themselves when they want to talk to their children about Islam."
I can only state, that this has not been my experience, and maybe, that should be the purpose of this discussion...how we, as parents, introduce and support our beliefs through the traditions we have created as families. I also, see no gain in saying:
"I am not in favour or against any particular religion, people should be free to believe in what they like, I'm just stating some facts and personal views."
And, immediately thereafter, writing this:
"Point 1) Islam is not part of Iranian culture. Correct me if I'm wrong, but wasn't it forced upon us by the Arab invasion to our country? "
I do not like to be in the position of correcting anyone, but, I believe any time a religion has been a major part of a country's history for more than a thousand years, we can assume it IS in fact, a part of the Iranian culture. We can also assume, that if 95% of the population is Muslim, it is, indeed, a part of the culture.
I think, what we need to differentiate between, is the religion, and government, something, which is difficult because Iran's government is not secularized.
I believe, the most important thing with regard to this subject, we, as parents can do, is to tell our children (and live our words), that Iran is a beautiful quilt of incredible texture and diversity. The threads which hold it together are you, and they, he, she and me. It is our love for a country, our love for a language, our love for the varied traditions, costumes, incredible literature and arts, which keep that quilt together and which allows us the luxury of a security blanket which warms our souls. We must respect all parts of the whole, for we are but a sum of our parts. If we can offer our children light with which they can appreciate and more clearly see the hopes and truths of others, we are really accomplishing something as parents.
My children are being raised Muslim. I decided long ago, that my daughters would be raised to luxuriate in their abilities, opinions, traditions and curiousities. I am not their birth mother, (I am American and they are 100% Iranian beauties), and, although, they did not grow in my womb, they grew in my heart and I was determined to assuage their transition between cultures. When they became "balegh", I threw a very big party for each of their classes. I brought shol-e zard, fernee and all the handicrafts I could gather. My daughters brought their jah namaz and we gave a sampling of the prayers they practiced. You could have heard a pin drop. Our "Balegh Party " was so popular, that children often asked my younger daughter how much longer it would be before she had her "Balegh Party". One little boy, whom the teacher later told me never talked, said, "I'm Iranian and I eat shol-e zard. These are my people!" My heart glowed for days.
My daughters often commented as they grew, that the simple act of introducing them with pride and joy gave them conviction and strength. I think it is something we can do for all our children, irrespective of religious grouping. I believe, now, I am facing the most difficult years. I now have three daughters and three sons, and, while I believe you must make concessions without sacrificing pinciples, their father feels quite the other way. He is adamant and quite uncompromising in his beliefs as to how things should be, and, the harmony of any household depends on one parent supporting the other. I would love to hear the experiences of others with regard to bridging the gap between orthodox religious practices of any faith and living and raising children in the U.S.
I think this is a whole new phenomena among many emmigrees. How do we reconcile our religion with our society? I feel I have come to a peaceful place, but, we must get there together as families, as communities, as humans. Any thoughts?

7 (a madar # 4)
In reply to this dear friend # 6,
I appreciate that a great majority of Iranians are Muslims and it has long been part of Iranian life, just merely pointing out that Islam should be explained to our children as part of history and its imposition on Iranians should not be forgotten. I myself am not religious and frankly think religion has caused more problems in the world than it has solved. Having visited Shah Cherag in Shiraz recently and seeing how people kiss doors, walls of Imamzadeh reminds me of Bot-Parasti, I see absolutely no difference. Again I believe, rather than teach our children to pray 5 times a day and say words in Arabic they don't understand, teach them three principles which a great Iranian Profit wrote,
Think good (Pendare Neek)
Do good (Kerdare Neek)
Say good (Godtare Neek)
Isn't the above all that everyone requires to go to heaven that is if there is one!
I again say I respect everyone's ideas and beliefs so long as they are not imposing them forcefully on anyone...

8 (a mother # 6)
Dearest madar # 7,
Salam. I understand what you are saying, and frankly, agree with you, in that, with the fundamentalism of most any belief, comes the potential for exlusionary behavior. It is also quite easy to lose sight of the aim or goal, when the ceremony of practice overwhelms the practitioner. There are good people of all religious faiths , and , I think, intellectually, we can all distinguish between those who practice the tenets of giving and loving articles of faith, and those who abuse them. I, also agree with you, that we should never teach our children words without teaching comprehension. The two obviously, must come hand in hand. I believe pendare neek, kerdare neek, goftare neek are all mighty goals toward which to steer our lives and thoughts, but, for children, more definition is required. The first of which is the definition of "neek" (good).
Your comments are all appreciated and duly noted. Thank you and Rooz-e khosh.
9 (a madar)
Thank you mother #6, well put.
I'll like to hear more of your thoughts on this subject if you have time and wouldn't mind sharing them. How would you direct your children to be a practitioner and not get overwhelmed by the ceremony of practice? And how do you make sure they're focused on the goal? And finally how do you teach your children wards with comprehension? thank you for your time.
9 (a mother # 6)
1. How would you direct your children to be a practitioner and not get overwhelmed by the ceremony of practice?
1. What I do, is stress the goals of living, which is to go to their own true selves, to find the way to become closer to God and to use as an example, mandatory daily prayers as a means of self discipline and meditational time.
I have involved by children since very early ages in the tenets I find very important...philanthropy in the form of community outreach. In the case of Muslims-khoms and zakart...but, most all religions have philanthropic requirements or suggestion. They celebrate life by sharing. We, as a family, distribute food and blankets, involve ourselves in women's and children's issues, (Rape Crisis Centers and Book Drives to date.) I hope i have taught them that their application of good is as important as their undersatnding of it and ceremony is but the reminder.
2.And how do you make sure they're focused on the goal?
2. I hope I have done so by practicing what I preach and through example. I have always told them that best is not important, but, personal best is very important. I have told them that God is a loving God and they should live each day with that thought and with the thought that they must find the spirit and power in themselves. I believe they are focused, for I see them as very accepting of others without the need for belittling and accepting of their responsibility to the whole. I actually don't accept responsibility for making sure they are focused on "the goal", but, lay the incumbency for that on them, as much as they are able , as they are able.
3.And finally how do you teach your children wards with comprehension?
3. You make me smile. I understand from where you are coming. I guess, I came from the same place they began. I married into a very religious family. My daughters came to me at ages 3 and 4.
As they were introduced to religion through the family, I made it a point to understand each word I was saying, so, in turn, they would as well. I accepted the responsibility for two beautiful children and their religious upbringing by declaring to myself, that religion would be practiced by it's definition "submission" not force.
We have all met force along the way, but, answer that with questions, kindness and perseverence. So, in answer to your question regarding comprehension...I see it in practice, with their actions and reactions, after years of searching, questioning and implementing. They know the who, what, whens wheres and whys.
I hope I answered you satisfactorily. Thank you for your questions.
10 (a pedar)
I like to invite everyone to discuss issues as it relates to our kids very much in general, if it is specific issue, probably it could be discuss, off of the alias among interested party(s). Now having said that, it does not mean not expressing your thought, ideas, or what have you..., it just means some issues are private such as Religion!, and personally I think it should be respected and address as such. PLEASE let's not turn parenting issues and online discussions into our PRIVATE beliefs or certain practices. I love to see all others issues which ALL could relate, participate, and take benefit from, being raised and talked about here. I don't know the issues, that's why, I'm once again inviting everyone to help and participate.
Thank you for your time,

11 (a madar)
with all respect for pedar # 10, I wonder if religion is more private than sex? maybe I am not getting his point, but how come we talk here about sex and sex education and mestruation and... without mentioning that it is a private issue, then why should we consider religion a private issue?
12 (a pedar #10)
>Since, you are the list monitor, I respect your right to ask religion be
>omitted from ALL discussion.
Just to clarify:
I'm not monitoring this list. I am a member as you are. so I'm not deciding(and hope no one else does either) what issues to be discussed or "omitted".
To me, at some point in anyone's life SEX would happens in some form!, the more you're aware and knowledgeable about it you are, the more you could be in better position to provide answer for your kids, and also enjoying it more. Now, is this applicable to religion or practices?
Is menstruation and it's process a CHOICE for woman or ...? We are talking here our interpretation, personal beliefs, values,... which all could be quite different from one another. Something that you value, could be no value to me or others, and Vice verse.
The point here is, to respect our kids, let them decide for themselves and stop imposing "Tarofatt" and traditions, which honestly in this era, not only do not helps them but create a baggage for them later on. Let them enjoy their childhood, it will not happen again to them. They're not our slaves nor our 401K plan! Our most important task is to help them grow happy beings and be there for them when they need us to be, not at our term and conditions.
Thanks again, and I'm just expressing my opinion,

13 (a pedar)
I just wanted to augment madar #11's comment as she took the words right out of my mouth. Religion is no different than the "other" issues once considered private and taboo. As we provide a path for our children to enjoy their childhood and be happy, we also have the responsibility to guide them and show them the "right" choices in all subjects including sex and religion. Let's think of it this way; religion is like cigarettes or..., our children will be offered one at some point in their lives. It is best for them to be informed and believe in something. The "something" may be believing in a non structured practice.
I don't know how many of the parents in our group have teen age kids. If we don't explain our beliefs to them, I can assure you that at some point they will ask: "What is my religion?". It does not matter whether they are asking the question so that they can fill out a form for school or......
So, I think it is helpful for us to discuss this "touchy" subject by asking ourselves first: "What is my religion or belief?". I think this is a question for the first generation Iranian Americans to consider, since it will lay the ground work for our next generation and the health and happiness of them.

14 ( pedar #10)
Salaam pedar #13,
First I want to acknowledge you just for writing, it "seems" that most members of this mlist, are single parents Moms!!,(I know some really are) are only ones who write most of the time.
I don't know; Dads probably don't bother with what's going on here, anyway, it would've been more interesting to have their view too.
Now, back to this discussion, I'm agree with you, we need to discuss whatever we think is proper in path of parenting, what I was trying to say, and still have the same position, is that I don't like to be witness and hearing propaganda or expansion agenda(recruitments) or "Islam Vs. Zorastran" or "christian" or "x", to me these are private and very personal beliefs, which needs to remain as such. In previous posts, I was trying to respond to those emails which were arguing in that line. I hope it's very clear now.
It's very interesting that someone visited Web page, and later posted a message based on his observation that we lack this topic,(typical, not! usually we see things that are "missing") from all the others, this now becomes very important all of the sudden!, which is okay. Now we have two "frequent topics": How to teach farsi lang. and religion! About 80% of postings now is around this two topics and name selections! Is that all to parenting?
So, I won't take your time much more, and Again INVITE and encourage everyone to bring up issues and participate as much as they could. The other choice is, to be silent and maintain rightousness.!
Have a wonderful Day,
15 ( mother #6)
Salam, everyone.
I really must respond to several of Pedar #10's comments.
I never felt that most parents on this list were single parent moms simply because many mothers write in. Be it even so, I am in awe of any and all mothers who have time to both singlehandedly raise children, manage a home, work and offer their insights. Bravo to all. It is also nice to hear the opinions of fathers who do much or all of the same, and balance is (stealing from Martha Stewart)... a good thing. I don't think we can imply the absence of a father's opinion on a particular list as "Dad's probably don't bother with with what's going on here anyway". We may assume, one parent has found the list and either the other has not yet done so, or agrees with the philosophies of the primary poster. I would think that 'fathers simply don't bother' more self adulatory than true or productive.
I" don't like to be witness and hearing propaganda or expansion agenda(recruitments) or "Islam Vs. Zorastran" or "christian" or "x", to me these are private and very personal beliefs, which needs to remain as such. In previous posts, I was trying to respond to those emails which were arguing in that line. I hope it's very clear now. "
I never read a single post which pitted one religion against another or in any way sought to convert, engage in expansion agendas or recruitments. Where did this come from? I think we simply engaged in a convivial act of sharing ideas and you took issue with that and sought to quiet everyone with your protestations. If there is a particular topic which does not meet your criteria as a poster, you are more than able to introduce alternative topics of discussion and everyone can pick and choose, a method which seems to be the most viable form of discourse in a forum such as this.
"Now we have two "frequent topics": How to teach farsi lang. and religion! About 80% of postings now is around this two topics and name selections! Is that all to parenting? "
I believe this statement is unfair. I believe religion has only been a topic in the last week, and curtailed by someone's vehement protestations. Teaching children Farsi, a subject which has been more of a resource directory of where ,than a discussion, has played a minor role. Name selection seemed a more private matter bantered back and forth with joy and happiness of expectation.
We have talked on peer pressure, gun control, cultural differences and assimilations, social conscience, No Rooz, work (all under the umbrella of child/parent)....and on and on. I am very sad if anyone has missed this delightful balance of topics, and invite you to peruse the board for all that you have missed.
I personally can say from my experiences with Madar/Pedar, that I have met many wonderful people and exchanged ideas with some, who, although our philosophies are different, have been very, very interesting and it has been my pleasure to make the net acqaintance of. I hope that we may continue to speak on ALL subjects without fear of jabs or pressures to maintain a conformist stance or else. I feel only privilege and enlightenment to hear the diversity of thought on subjects which concern my parental duties, from such a wonderful group of caring parents.
Thank you all for the opportunity to share thoughts.

16 ( pedar #10)
most of us who were "born" moslem are very much familiar with preaching, and here is no place for advertisement. Even with different masks.
Iranian as a nation and it's community in broad, have paid and still paying at this very moment, heavy toll for preachers.
Feel free to reply, because I do not mind.
17 ( a madar )
Hello to all,
This is simply a sincere sharing, it is not a response to anyone's argument, please read it just as an experience.
Today I can say I am not a religious person, I zigzagged from being a fanatically religious person to not being quite satisfied with the answers that religion was offering me all throughout my early teen ages.
Sometimes ago, I did have a dilemma with this subject, I knew that I ultimately did not care for our children to be introduced to a particular religion, but I remembered when I was growing up, religion was sometimes only available reassuring answers for my curiosities and wondering thoughts! So I thought maybe I am depriving my daughters from this resource, this occupied my mind for sometimes until I came to a realization that I resist to offer religion as a tranquilizer to my children, yes it was hard for me to vision my dear daughters to be lost at times looking for answers, but that was my problem! I learned to see the need for myself to trust that they would go through their path using their uniqueness to become who they will become.
Who knows perhaps they will develop in areas that I did not get a chance to develop on time, maybe they will discover other resources within themselves, maybe they will not feel as helpless as I did. And maybe, I should come out of my comfort zone and take a challenge to empower our daughters in different ways unfamiliar to me. Just because I went through certain experience (and that's all I know) I have no right to impose it on my children in spite of my belief today. We intend to have ideas and idealize issues and as parents sometimes to use those as controlling tools over our children unconsciously and hoping for dutiful (but lifeless children)!
I have found constant struggling to remind myself often that I do not own these creatures, our (their father's and my) responsibilities are to provide them with possibilities within our abilities and principals for them to find their way which may or may not align with our values, belief, dreams, desires, ^ I have promised myself to support them in their choices in every area without living their lives for them, it is easier said than done, I know it, I catch myself, I think these tendencies come from love base, but if not carefully caught, they can be harmful to our love ones.
Now, my gathering about discussing subjects such as religion on this alias, I think if some parents have already decided that they want their children to believe and practice certain religion, frankly there are other resources than this alias to give them better guidelines, however, honestly if I feel this alias is becoming another vehicle for some participants to "fish for lost soul" and witness to us, I will practice my right of using DELETE key! That is to say that although I believe choosing a religion is a personal matter, I think if majority on this alias feel needs for discussing it, then they should do so, even if majority do not feel need for it and it is an issue for a parent in need for support, it should be discussed. Luckily we live in a resourceful area information wise and we have so many choices to interact and educate ourselves on various subjects, let us keep this alias as parenting support source and empower each others in this journey.
I could not agree more with (Vonderings@aol.com) regarding Soheila's efforts to give us a chance to exchange information and hear each other, I am grateful for this opportunity and truly appreciate Soheila's wonderful work and other parents input, yet another motivation to attempt to participate in making this alias alive and productive.
I thank you for listening.
18 ( madar #2)
Dear madar #17,
Your comments were very useful and I think I will take the route that you have taken with my daughter.
As a mother, I would like to extend my support for the students in Iran and express our deepest condolence for Shahid student's mothers and fathers and their families. Also It has been confirmed by Iran's government that the students who have been arrested will not be released and will be put on trial as "Zede Engelabs". God help them and hope every Iranian gets out to stop the mass slaughter of Iran's best children.
19 ( pedar #1)
Related to comments of Madar No.6
Regarding your statement "I would love to hear the experiences of others with regard to bridging the gap between orthodox religious practices of any faith and living and raising children in the U.S.".
The answer is you can not bridge this gap on your own easily. I would like to add the following (in reference to Islam only): Orthodox religious practices ( and intellectual basis for them) are developed by various ethnic groups in Islamic countries over long periods of time . It is safe to assume that Islam in America will also, over the period of time, interact with the local customs, spiritual values, and practices and adapt itself gradually to the environment. The question is how long this process will take and how much of the original truth will be compromised and lost during this process. Well informed and knowledgeable religious authorities on Islam, who are also thoroughly familiar with the Western culture and civilization, could guide, accelerate, and promote this process. But they are woefully scarce at the present time in America. Therefore those parents, who desire to impart Islamic religious values to their children, must take the matter in their own hands and teach the basics of religion to their children in a systematic fashion ( preferably in classes with other children) and hope for them to refine and enhance their understanding of Islam throughout of their lives. Orthodox parents have to be convinced to trust their children and allow them to remain Muslims and be a part of the American life.
20 ( madar #2)
May I suggest that we stick to the big picture on this subject. If parents are inquiring about how to teach their children "faith", we discuss how we have gone about introducing "God" and any of his "manifestations" to our children and talk about success or NOT stories, without talking about a particular religion.
This is merely a suggestion to be sure that we are talking about a concept with a big picture in mind and no personal vulnerabilities are touched.
With warm Regards,
21 ( a madar )
Thank you for the opportunity of discussing the religion of Iran. I accept that there are various religions in Iran. However, I believe that I as a parent have to be a role model for my kids. 1) I need to come in terms with my own belief structure, find out who I am. I was born in Muslim culture, where daily prayers, and other principles were practiced daily at home and reminded, reinforced, studied in school, and reminded by different special media coverage. I visited my relatives in Iran this, I had a 7 year old nephew who was observing and critiquing my saying prayers. Don't you think some Amiranian kids miss that experience.? I feel as if in America we may be somewhat ashamed of our heritage, may be, or may be some how we have abandoned , our recent past, our family and societal values, as I am guessing. No matter how much we know about others as long as we deprive ourselves of knowing about ourselves, we may just be making a choice of self denial, perhaps..
1) Would it be better to seek a mother for your future child who is well verse in the Muslim culture an tradition, even though she is not financially well off?
2) Do Iranian women transplants have a problem wearing the hejob out side Iran?
3) Do people in America look down upon women who wear scarfs, in public?
22 ( a madar )
I appreciate your comment (madar#21). But I need to tell you that due that upbringing in our country I was quite afraid of religion thinking that religion and tradition and culture they are all the same. Until recently that I recieved a good traslation of Quoran in English by RASHAD KAHALIFEH and I compared it to two other good translations and found out that tradition has nothing to do with religion and all religion came from one source and are the same with the exception that people tried to mix the God's word with their own opinions and culture and that's how we got so many branches in each religion. In the other word we tampered God's message which was nothing but to worship GOD ALONE and mixed our own traditions which God dispised it in many many verses in Quoran and that's how WE ALL BECAME IDLE WORHSHIPERS.
MUSLIM means submition to god only. And in fact God says the father of all religions was ABRAHAM and God also says that CHRIST was Muslim. Then in Quoran God says: Oh you believers, you MAY NOT distinguish among my messengers and you should accept all my messengers.
Then God in many many verses says that religion is not something you inherent from parents, but it's something you do research and study and ask God to lead you in his right way.
In Quoran God also says that people come to me from many different paths just as long as they don't idle worhsip.
Unfortuantley in Iran we used to read Quroran in Arabic and not understanding a word of it. But in all other countries they read their holly book in a language they can understand. God is not about our Physical look (hijab) but is about our inner intention (of course if you have a sincere rightous inner intention then you will dress moderately) in all the good translation of Quoran that I read Hijab is covering your body and not necessarily your hair. Whereas if you choose to do that there is nothing wrong with it.
I recommend that you go to this website and ask any questions that you may have about Quoran: www.submission.org
Hope God show us his true path which is only one and is mentioned in all his books.
23 ( a web visitor )
i really like you Madar #6. and i appreciate the beautiful way you look at things
Please send your replies and/or opinions regarding this subject to madar-pedar@surya.eecs.berkeley.edu.

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