Forever Under Construction

Healing The World …

Posted in Art, Iran, Islam by homeyra on July 10, 2007

… With Art


The Khalili Collections

Meet Professor Nasser D. Khalili, the owner of the most comprehensive private collection of Islamic art: more than 20.000 objects documenting the range of artistic production of the Islamic lands over a period of some 1,400 years. Khalili collections also include a Japanese, a Spanish and a Swedish Collection

Collections Slideshow
The Islamic collection Slideshow

Excerpts from N. Khalili’s homepage: “[…] born in Iran in 1945. A scholar, collector and benefactor of international standing, he was described by the former Foreign Minister and the Iranian Ambassador to London as ‘a cultural ambassador of Islam’. After completing his schooling and national service, he left in 1967 for the USA where he continued his education. In 1978 he settled in the United Kingdom […]

Professor Khalili is a longstanding and committed believer in the vital contribution of inter-faith understanding to the creation of a cohesive society. He is the co-founder and chairman of the Maimonides Foundation, which promotes peace and understanding between Jews and Muslims. He was one of the founders of the Iran Heritage Foundation which was established in 1995 to promote and preserve the cultural heritage of Iran […]” read more

Relevant links:

July 10, 2007 — Nasser’s “Art” to building bridge
July 07 — Articles of faith: A collection of Islamic art on show in Sydney is breathtaking in its beauty.
WHEN you get past the crudities of political rhetoric and the stereotypes of newspaper headlines, the world is nothing short of marvelous…”

July 3 — Nasser David Khalili, catapulted into the top five of the U.K. rich list by the soaring value of his Islamic art, said the jump in prices for old works by Muslim artists has barely begun … read more

May 31 — Islamic art market makes miraculous recovery (or does it?)

2004 — Islamic art gallery to rival Saatchi

1994 — Nasser D. Khalili was born to collect. As the son and grandson of dealers in carpets, lacquerware and other art in Isfahan […]

The Khalili Collection houses the finest celestial globes in existence …
Khalili’s Islamic coins number over 8000, forming one of the most voluminous numismatic collections in private hands …

An unparalleled collection of 12th- and 13th-century Afghan pottery
Through the 300 pre-Islamic and Islamic pieces, one can trace the entire story of glass-making. The collection’s cut glass and cameo vessels dating to the 10th and 11th centuries are unequaled. With walls as thin as a tenth of a millimeter (0.004″), it seems miraculous that such pieces have survived the centuries at all …

The largest collection of lacquer objects in the world […] read more

Fred, Muslims & Other Stuff

Posted in Fun, Islam, Middle East, Society by homeyra on March 28, 2007

Enough serious stuff, here is a refreshing and tonic article. I was searching something else – I have forgotten by now what it was – and ended up there. This happens occasionally.

I didn’t know Fred till 15 mn ago. Just a few quotes to give you a taste of it:

The steps limned below will facilitate disaster without imposing the burden of reinventing it … … Besides, comprehension would only lead to depression… … Remember that doctrine and optimism should always outweigh history and common sense … … the complementary halves of a migraine headache … … If the population falls we must import Mexicans or North Africans or somebody because the purpose of a country is to build suburbs …”

Here is his last article, The War on Muslims: “Methinks we don’t – think, I mean, about anything outside our immediate visual horizon. Thinking is a poor way of understanding the world, which is too complex to be thought about effectively. That leaves hormones and unfortunate limbic wiring … ” read more

Other politically incorrect reads:
Reflections of a Misplaced Pagan
The Hangmen of the Arts
Sex and Discrimination at Fred on Everything
Archives at LewRockwell

Polls & Pins

Posted in Bangladesh, Indonesia, Islam, News, Pakistan, Things by homeyra on February 25, 2007

The following is an excerpt from an article in The Christian Science Monitor: The myth of Muslim support for terror, by Kenneth Ballen, founder and president of Terror Free Tomorrow:

“According to a 2006 survey, conducted by the University of Maryland’s Program on International Public Attitudes:

usa.jpg46% of Americans think that “bombing and other attacks intentionally aimed at civilians” are “never justified”
24% believe these attacks are “often or sometimes justified”

2006 polling results by Terror Free Tomorrow from the world’s most-populous Muslim countries – Indonesia, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Nigeria:

pin-indonesia.jpg74% of respondents in Indonesia
86% in Pakistan
81% in Bangladesh agreed that terrorist attacks are “never justified

… nearly half of Westerners associate Islam with violence and Muslims with terrorists. Given the many radicals who commit violence in the name of Islam around the world, that’s an understandable polling result.


But these stereotypes, affirmed by simplistic media coverage and many radicals themselves, are not supported by the facts – and they are detrimental to the war on terror … it perpetuates a myth that has the very real effect of marginalizing critical allies in the war on terror.

Terror Free Tomorrow‘s 20-plus surveys of Muslim countries in the past two years reveal another surprise:

Even among the minority who indicated support for terrorist attacks and Osama bin Laden, most overwhelmingly approved of specific American actions in their own countries.


71% of bin Laden supporters in Indonesia
79% in Pakistan, thought more favorably of the USA as a result of American humanitarian assistance in their countries – not exactly the profile of hard-core terrorist sympathizers. For most people, their professed support of terrorism/bin Laden can be more accurately characterized as a kind of “protest vote” against current US foreign policies, not as a deeply held religious conviction or even an inherently anti- American or anti-Western view …
“… Our surveys show that not only do Muslims reject terrorism as much if not more than Americans, but even those who are sympathetic to radical ideology can be won over by positive American actions that promote goodwill and offer real hope.
America’s goal, in partnership with Muslim public opinion, should be to defeat terrorists by isolating them from their own societies … build on our common humanity …” here is the article.

australia.jpg“Those who crusade, not for God in themselves, but against the devil in others, never succeed in making the world better, but leave it either as it was, or sometimes perceptibly worse than what it was, before the crusade began. By thinking primarily of evil we tend, however excellent our intentions, to create occasions for evil to manifest itself.” Aldous Huxley
Thx PpGg

World flag label pins
Label Pin Collection
…. much more


Posted in Islam, Somalia, USA by homeyra on January 5, 2007

The Return of Warlords: An essay on the urgent situation in Somalia by Amina Mire. Full version posted at Ben Heine’s site …Read more



Somalia profil at National Geographic

Somalia blog


Posted in American-Iranians, Fun, Iran, Islam, USA by homeyra on December 24, 2006

Stand up comedian Tissa grew up in a traditional Iranian family in a predominantly white suburb of Boston. She holds Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in international affairs from Ivy League universities. Her parents are thrilled that she is using her expensive education to pursue a career in comedy.

People who disapprove of her act will be taken hostage. Tissa Hami’s website


When Tissa walks onstage in black pants, a thigh length black coat and a head covering, the audience is often stunned and silent. Some wonder whether she might be the cleaner who has wandered into the wrong place. Then she starts her routine:

I really should be wearing a long coat but, well,” and her voice suddenly turned valley girl, “I was feeling kind of slutty today!”

Tissa’s parents, pursuing scholarships, came to the United States in 1978, when their daughter was just five. They planned on returning to Iran until the revolution and war with Iraq intervened. The family then moved to Lexington. Tissa attended school and became “one of those kids who does everything” from chorus to yearbook. In 1991, she graduated from Lexington High School.

She studied hard and gained acceptance to Brown.”I grew up in an immigrant family. There were a lot of expectations heaped on me of what I should do with my life. I was not involved in anything comedy related. I did what was expected of me as a proper Iranian girl.”

She followed the good daughter path getting degrees in international relations from Brown and Columbia. Eventually she landed a “proper job”. Tissa moved to Manhattan. She worked for a couple years as a legal assistant and a half year as an investment banker on Wall Street.

Then September 11 hit and Muslims were all over the news — visible, but in all the wrong ways, she says. “After 9/11, I wanted to use my voice. One thing I always had was being funny. After that, my friends said, ‘Do it — now.’”

“… the emotional level was much more charged and I just didn’t know if America was ready to see a veiled woman cracking jokes about airport security, about these things that we are all scared about, and I was worried for myself and about my safety … but I was determined to do it … With the anti-Muslim sentiment around, I had no idea how people would react,” she says. “I was terrified.”

She left Wall Street, got a job at the admissions office of the Kennedy School of government at Harvard University, and signed up for a comedy class at the local adult education center. Her new job lets her remain close to what she studied while allowing her time to pursue comedy.

Tissa’s family are what she calls typically Iranian. Her parents have seen her perform on stage. “They think it’s not too late for me to go to medical school.” Her mother pointed out that her own Islamic cleric grandfather “would roll over in his grave if he knew that his great granddaughter was onstage talking about lesbian harems.”

Tissa on stage

I should tell you a little bit about myself. I am originally from Iran. Thanks. We have a few Axis of Evil fans in the audience.

I was actually talking to a reporter recently and he asked me, “Now, as a Muslim woman, is there anything you wouldn’t talk about on stage?” [pause] My dick.

You see I’ve noticed that people are always fascinated, they’re simply fascinated by my name. They’re like, “Tissa, Tissa, Tissa, that’s such an unusual name. Does it mean anything in your language?” Yeah, it’s an ancient Persian word meaning, “Ohhhhh, we’re so disappointed it’s not a boy!” Now my little sister – she was born here in America – and her first name is Melody. That’s Persian for “Lucky bitch got an American name.”

“It’s hard being Muslim in this country, I have to put up with a lot of weird comments like ‘Go home!’” She pauses and scans the crowd.

“Go home? What? Lexington?”

“We’re not just Muslims. Dammit, we’re New England Muslims.”

“Sometimes I hate being Muslim, especially at airports,” She makes light of her burning anger at full body searches “I was hoping to save that for the honeymoon”.

She even mocked her own slacker approach to Islam: “During Ramadan, I skip lunch.”

At mosques, women pray in the back, behind the men, something that Americans might view as oppression of Muslim women. But actually, Tissa explained, “we just like the view“.

When asked why there aren’t more female Muslim stand-up comics, she says, “I didn’t want the competition, so I stoned them.”

Halfway through her act, she ripped off her hijab and threw it on the stage. “I’m not making a political statement,” she said. “I just wanted to show off my hot body.”

“People ask whether Middle Eastern Muslims live in tents. They do, but only after Bush bombs their houses.”

Not everyone is welcoming her act.

A consortium of Muslim student groups in the Northampton area canceled Tissa’s appearance at the last minute after visiting her website and deciding that her material was inappropriate for their audience.
Her set does cause tension among some confused crowds. “There have been times when the audience … don’t know whether they’re supposed to be laughing or not. Most people get over it and start laughing.”

For Tissa becoming a comedian was a professional and personal choice. “I do see it not only as comedy but as a form of activism … I’m up there and I’m speaking up. I’m speaking out. I’m showing that a Muslim woman can use her voice, that she’s not just an oppressed woman”.

“Nothing is sacred … The great thing about stand-up is you can say anything about anything — as long as it’s funny.”

“It’s subversive activism, a get-’em-while-they’re-laughing strategy”

My goal as a comedian is to make people laugh. But if I can also make them think, then that’s an added bonus“.

Sources: Press links in Tissa Hami’s website

Update: Next performance 6 January
March 30 2007

Xmas In England

Posted in Christmas, England, Fun, Islam by homeyra on December 9, 2006

Shirin wrote: This year in an attempt to build bridges between Christians and other faiths, celebrating Christmas openly has been frowned upon.
Oh yeah, that ought to do it! That is going to build bridges between faiths alright. Bridges that they can then cross to reach the people of other faiths…and kick their heads in!

Why aren’t we having a Christmas tree this year Mummy?

Well little Johnny, you know what a Muslim is?… read more

Double Life

Posted in Books, Iran, Islam, Jihad by homeyra on October 27, 2006

For the curious here is a review of Lisptick Jihad by Azadeh Moaveni which provides a glimpse at the contradictions of Iranian life.

[…..] Sandwiched between two violent ridden countries – Iraq and Afghanistan – the people of Iran live a schizophrenic existence. The women might be cloaked with black chadors but the hottest new shop was a fake Victoria’s Secret outlet selling silk negligees and lace underwear. The country might be officially an Islamic state but everybody cheat during the fasting season of Ramadan by secretly chomping off energy chocolates or discreetly smoking cigarettes. The patriotic people might breathlessly chant Death to America slogans in public rallies but throng to McDonald’s-type fast food joints rumored to procure their buns from American burger franchises in the Persian Gulf. The Muslims of this land might be expected to bow to west towards Mecca but its Yoga-minded citizens like to turn east for seeking refuge in Indian spiritual gurus. The country is no IT superpower but was ranked the world’s number three in the number of blogs in 2003.Iran is akin to a transvestite – a bearded man during the day and a powdered lady in the night […..]

Here is an interview with Azadeh
Here, her interview with the […unifying force amongst Iranians of all class…]

Update: A moving review by Karen and another one in California Literary Review.