While reading War on Error by Melody Moezzi, I was overcome by awe for a young Iranian-American woman who is brave enough to take a chance and defend a topic that has caused much animosity. This may be the most difficult time for Muslims around the world to raise their voices, but it’s ten times more so for those in the US. In the words of one interviewee, “It has just become such a Pavlovian response in this country: if terrorism, then Islam.”
Disregarding our hostile times, Melody Moezzi takes it upon herself to clear out a few misconceptions about Islam, a religion that has received more negative propaganda than any faith deserves. Like a firefighter unafraid of flames, she is set to rescue what she can.
Moezzi is an American writer, who feels very comfortable in her Iranian not-so-white skin. Unlike those of us, who’ve either converted or forsaken religion altogether, she finds peace in the faith she was born to and shows pride in being Muslim. Mindful of the fact that every religion has its flaws, she not only practices but also rises to Islam’s defense.
I have no interest in organized religions, but from time to time make an attempt to read up on current issues. When my daughter gave me this book, I loved the cover design but could not imagine what aspect of a fact-based book about Islam might appeal to the fiction reader in me. What was left of my interest in religion had vanished decades ago with the aftermath of Iran’s Islamic revolution. Witnessing the brutality of the new regime, I abandoned what little I knew of Islam. However, I found the author’s strong prose and incredible honesty simply irresistible. Just three pages into the book she mentions, “Sometimes even words fail you . . . Still, as words are all I have, I can’t help but try.” And as she went on to “try” in her eloquent fashion, I knew I was hooked.
The book contains interviews and true stories of twelve Muslims in the US. These characters are carefully selected to represent different segments of our society. Moezzi offers her motive for writing the book with optimism. “As an American, if you’re unsatisfied with the system, you can change it . . . On top of that, you can count on the great majority of your fellow Americans to be just as curious, freethinking, kind, and open-minded as you are.” It is with such positive outlook that the author defends a subject that is ostracized by most.
She begins with sharing some of her own experiences. That alone hints at her fairness as will as valor. “I ran across only a few people who actually hated me for having this background or belief. The great majority just didn’t know what being Muslim meant.” However, further into the book her encounters reach a level of ignorance so offensive that even the non-believer in me feels the insult.
Not only is she open about her own experience, but she also includes an interview with her American husband - also a Muslim. “He is determined and patient with those who insist that he must have converted – to Islam - as a prerequisite for marrying me, and who cannot fathom that anyone in his right mind would choose to become a Muslim, any more than he would choose to become a paraplegic.”
The bitter humor carries throughout. “When people tell me that I don’t look Muslim, either because I don’t wear hijab or because I don’t fit one of their fifty present stereotypes, I usually respond by telling them that they don’t look stupid.” Still, her understanding and knowledge of the verses in the Quran open a whole new door for those of us who are influenced by the media and never take the time to gather facts. I remember when I was just a child, my grandmother told me that no one can fully understand the depth of Quranic verses, that the meaning is too deeply hidden and that it is written in such a way that a wrong analysis can easily distort its meaning. As I read Moezzi’s take on Islam, I began to realize that perhaps the harsh tone in what I had heard before was the result of such misinterpretations.
Moezzi, fully aware of the crimes committed in the name of Islam, doesn’t allow the wrongdoings of a few to rob her of her faith. “Roxana watched firsthand from several blocks uptown as total strangers managed to take her faith hostage just long enough to kill thousands of innocent civilians and tarnish the name of Islam.” And she expresses a similar sentiment in, “Today, the misguided minorities within Islam are gaining the undeserved privilege of defining Islam for the rest of the world simply because they are yelling the loudest and behaving the nastiest.”
Moezzi knows the flaw in those of us who have turned away from religion, though I’m not sure she respects it. What becomes evident throughout the text is her liberalism and understanding of man’s differences. By no means does she intend for her book to be Islamic propaganda, nor is it an attack on other faiths. Her observations clarify the huge confusion that surround a religion peacefully practiced by billions of people. Had I known these facts years ago, I might have become a true Muslim. However, at this age and with my comfortable level of spirituality, I’m not likely to change.
At a time when attacking Muslims seems to be the popular fashion, Melody Moezzi not only enlightens her readers, but she also manages to raise deep respect for a faceless, nameless majority. I have noted some of the harsh comments addressed to her by random readers on both Amazon and Huffington Post. No doubt she could foresee such reactions, but wouldn’t abandon her goal just to protect herself. In the words of Faisal - one of her interviewees, “True heroism requires actions that are not based on self-preservations, actions that will almost inevitably make you unpopular and the object of persecution.”
And so it is that I find my true hero through the written words of a writer I’ve never met and learn a lesson from someone who is young enough to be my child.
Zohreh Ghahremani is the author of Sky of Red Poppies.
|Recently by Ghahremani||Comments||Date|
|The End of An Era|
|Nov 18, 2012|
|Oct 24, 2012|
|Eating Rice with a Spoon|
|Aug 25, 2012|
|نسرین ستوده: زندانی روز||Dec 04|
|Saeed Malekpour: Prisoner of the day||Lawyer says death sentence suspended||Dec 03|
|Majid Tavakoli: Prisoner of the day||Iterview with mother||Dec 02|
|احسان نراقی: جامعه شناس و نویسنده ۱۳۰۵-۱۳۹۱||Dec 02|
|Nasrin Sotoudeh: Prisoner of the day||46 days on hunger strike||Dec 01|
|Nasrin Sotoudeh: Graffiti||In Barcelona||Nov 30|
|گوهر عشقی: مادر ستار بهشتی||Nov 30|
|Abdollah Momeni: Prisoner of the day||Activist denied leave and family visits for 1.5 years||Nov 30|
|محمد کلالی: یکی از حمله کنندگان به سفارت ایران در برلین||Nov 29|
|Habibollah Golparipour: Prisoner of the day||Kurdish Activist on Death Row||Nov 28|