Damn the Bearded Woman Who Killed the 11th Emam


Damn the Bearded Woman Who Killed the 11th Emam
by Faramarz

لعنت بر زن ریش دار که کشت امام یازدهم را

When I was very young, my mom and my aunt took a few of the kids on a summer trip to Mashad. It was on that trip that I learned a lot about Shia Islam and those who preach it. Those lessons are still with me decades later.

On the Tehran – Mashad train, we had a compartment all to ourselves. There were double-decker bunk beds on each side that got us all excited. We immediately started arguing about who should sleep on the top beds and who should be on the bottom beds. What got my attention was the red emergency brake that had a warning sign next to it. “There will be a fine for an unauthorized use of the emergency brakes.” My aunt warned us not to go near the emergency brake. But I was thrilled by the thought that you could actually stop the big train with all the passengers by pulling on the brake!

The train made several stops along the way. At every stop, there was enough time for the passengers to get out and shop or pray and then quickly get back on. In Semnan, we bought the famous bread and in Damghan we got a jar (Koozeh) of yogurt. My mom kept warning us not to get too far away from the train because if the train left we would be lost for ever in a strange and dangerous place; something like the Oliver Twist story. At each stop, after ten or fifteen minutes the conductor would shout, “All pilgrims on board!” And everybody would rush back in.

زوار ها سوار شن

On the first day after our arrival in Mashad, my mom and my aunt put their mandatory black chadors on and we all headed to Emam Reza Shrine for a visit. At the door we took our shoes and sandals off. Parting with my new light blue plastic sandals was hard, but leaving them next to some old and smelly shoes was even harder. I complained to my mom that some kid may steal my sandals. But she gave me a stern look and said nobody dares to do such thing in this place. Emam Reza was looking over my plastic sandals!

We held each other’s hands so nobody would get lost in the big crowd and approached the tomb. Right then a man with a big voice shouted, “Damn the bearded woman who killed the 11th Emam!”

لعنت بر زن ریش دار
که کشت امام یازدهم را

The crowd chanted, “Damn the bearded woman!” The women wept and the men beat their chests. I was horrified! The mental image of a bearded woman was too much to handle at that young age! I later learned that the 11th Emam, Hasan Askari was killed on the 8th of Rabi-ul-avval by a bearded woman!

The next day we were invited to a women-only Sofreh; a religious theme party for women and children where a Molla will do a sermon before the dinner is served. The hostess had spread a few carpets in the yard and placed pillows all around the large white tablecloth on top of the carpets. As soon as the Molla in black turban arrived and took his sandals off, every one was seated on the carpet. The dress code was more casual. The host put the younger women with light color chadors around the Molla. The older and married women were further away, and the kids sat on the opposite side of the carpet.

The Molla after drinking some Sharbat and having some fruits started the sermon. My mom and aunt have already told us to sit quietly and not to cause any troubles. As he was describing the scene at Karbala and how Emam Hosain was deprived of water and was suffering for all of us, the women started weeping and gently beating their chests. The whole scene was choreographed by the Molla hitting his own head! My young cousins and I were just looking at the incredible scene with our mouths wide open.

As women were getting more emotional and weeping, their chador would slide down which got the immediate attention of the Molla! Finally, at the climax of the sermon during the battle between Emam Hosain and Shemr (his cousin) the button of the blouse of one of the women around the Molla opened and her white breast was half exposed!

The Molla, as he was telling the story, and crying and hitting his head kept staring at the half exposed breast of the woman who was almost fainting from the emotional sermon!

آخونده همینطوری که از امام حسین میگفت و تو سرش میزد، شش دونگ حواسش تو سر و سینه نیمه عریان خانومه بود

After the sermon the dinner was served. The hostess brought trays of saffron rice and several whole roasted chickens. As they presented the first rice tray to the Molla, he brought the big tray on top of his plate, put his thumb upside down in the middle of the rice, and with a quick movement of his wrist emptied half the tray into his plate! He then grabbed a whole chicken by the two drumsticks and put it on top of his rice. He didn’t use any forks or spoons; he just brought the plate close to his mouth and shoved the food in!

I couldn’t believe that he was getting the whole chicken. In our house, whenever my mom made a whole roasted chicken, my father always got one of the drumsticks and the rest of us had to lobby for the second one! But my mom usually remembered who had the drumstick the last time and tried to be fair.

Everything I needed to know about Shia Islam I learned on that short trip to Mashad. After we returned, any time we were playing soccer on the street and a Molla was passing by; we would aim the soccer ball at the back of his head and try to knock his turban down! And the angry Molla would turn around and curse us. The older and the more brave boys would then say, “Damn the bearded woman who killed the 11th Emam!”

لعنت بر زن ریش دار
که کشت امام یازدهم را

And we all laughed!


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Get the other one!

by Mehman on

Faramarz jan,

There is another bearded lady who is planning to kill the 12th one.

In another blog someone posted her picture (the fear of seeing which destroyed my last weekend). I asked them to inform the interpol.

Any news of what happened next?

tanx for the humorous blog!


دوستان، خیلی ممنون، خیلی زحمت کشیدن



Merci Maryam,

I am glad you enjoyed this.

Cousin Mehrdad,

Snow ball attacks on the clergy! Why didn't we think of that!


Was that you climbing the Zarih? You are good man!

COP Khan,

I saw all that money that was thrown in the Zarih. But the Zarih itself was sweaty and stinky!

Asadabad Khan,

Your friend Ali lived down the street from us!

Thank you!


This reminds me of a story

by asadabad on

My friends father named Ali used to be the water boy during Ashura.  Of course, back in the old days there wasn't any AC, so people would simply douse their face, head, and hands in water to remain cool during the sermons.  As a young boy, Ali was permitted into the womens section to offer them water from the samovar-like canister.  

As you probably know, the recitations for Imam Hosain are performed in large halls.  Usually the lights are turned off.  As you can imagine it gets pretty dark.  Anyway, this young boy had to walk around carrying this water jug and present it to any women who needed to "cool down".  A lot of the time, the women would pinch his legs in order to get his attention.  As a result, Ali got a lot of bruises on his tiny legs.  

One day he decided to get some revenge.  After the mullah began his storytellling in the dark, Ali got a bottle of black ink.  He poured all of this ink into the water canister.  So Ali begins walking around with the water and these weeping women started pinching his legs demanding water to cool themselves off.  They splashing water all of their faces, hands, arms.  Finally after the storytelling is over--which is usually a couple of hours--the lights come back on.  What a surprise they had... 

I think he got his butt beaten pretty badly for the stunt.


In early years

by Cost-of-Progress on

my father worked in a city about 2 hours away from Mashad and as result, during summer time we were visiting Mashad pretty much every weekend. However, my dad was not religious and we would only visit Reza's shrine may be once or twice a year as my mom did not mind the pillgrimage. She was mostly secular, but the plague that has infected Iran and most Iranians for the last 13 centuries had affected her albeit mildly!
I remember hating to go inside the shrine due to the smell of feet and all the arabic mumbo jumbo prayers which 99.99% of people did not understand. I particularly remember the mounds of paper money - (most of the time 2-3 feet deep) inside the shrine that the pillgrims (rich and poor) would throw in the shrine in hopes of salvation.

I guess in a way their prayers were answered....A mullah came and the country became Isssslamic.....but nobody lived happily ever after.





Did you try to climb the zari?!

by Anonymouse on

I went to Mashad when my father would take his religious siblings there along with the rest of the family.  He didn't care for it but wanted his siblings to have a "good time" so he'd take them there.

I think I must have been there 2 or 3 times and hopefully again someday.  Not just in Mashad but in other places where Zaris are present I don't know why but I get an urge to climb them!  I've even tried and my father or others who were near me would pull me down and say get down!  Aah!  Must be something about seeing everyone grabbing Zari with both hands and all fingers!

Everything is sacred


Dear cousin Framarz,

by Bavafa on

I was never happier to have been sick with Anfolanza and had to miss that trip. The thought of hanging out with my dear cousins on the train ride was too enticing but then I remembered it also involves a full week of sermon and zeearate haram and that was just too much for me to bear.

But I remember the Mullah in our neighborhood that was the target of accidental goole barfie when ever he passed our street. Oh good old days… why did we have to grow up and fuck it up.


Maryam Hojjat

Thanks Faramarz

by Maryam Hojjat on

Very funny story,  I laughed a lot.