Iranian Society and Culture By Laurence Reeves and Arnold Kürsteiner Codes of behaviour- iran

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By Laurence Reeves and Arnold Kürsteiner

Codes of behaviour- Iran

Modernist/Patrachial/traditional behaviour

Traditional Rooted in religion – Muslim Belief – Islam is a body of values, ideas and beliefs that should apply to all aspects of life, like personal, social, economic and political relationships.

  • Traditional practicing Muslim

    • No Open dating or international relationships before marriage.

    • No exposure of female body parts or hair

    • Women may refuse to dance at mixed parties and may form social groups with people of the same gender. While, contrarily, they will be very revealing at private parties (with same gender) and behave quite wildly. Public image very different to private.

    • Women regarded as corrupt or indecent if they wear tank tops, shorts or too much makeup.

    • Boys expected to dress formally for parties and major occasions. (sign of respect)

    • Men no beards (bears are a symbol of allegiance to theocratic government)

    • Older generation may have beards as sign of mourning on religious occasions.

      • A traditional gentleman in ragged clothes, unshaven, and without any outward trapping of luxury may in fact be very rich, and as powerful as the mightiest government official; or he may be a revered spiritual leader. On the other hand a well-dressed gentleman in an Italian suit driving a fine European car may be mired in debt and openly derided behind his back.

  • Modernist

    • Strive for equality

    • Status is shown through behavior – Dress, talk, eat, drink.

  • Patrachial

    • Men have more rights (culturall and legally)

    • Less freedom for women, especially dress codes and association with opposite sex.

    • Iranian males (plus their families) demand wives to be virgins but are less concerned when it comes to males having multiple of sexual relationships while single.


  • Generally free.

  • 6 year olds obliged to go to school.

  • Teach in Fari

  • Has been reformed several times.

    • As a result of changes in socie ty, job market and the needs of the Youth.

  • Not many girl students. Not as many equal opportunities for girls.

  • Traditional teaching methods are still used.


  • People from Iran – Iranian, Persian

  • Iran inhabitants 65 milion. More than three quarters of inhabitant are under 30.

  • Half population speak first language Persian. Rest speak languages from Indo-European.

  • Rich in cultural symbolism. Only country in middle East that uses Solar Calendar.

    • Only nation on earth making the advent of the new year at the spring equinox.

    • Ancient symbol of Iran and of ancient monarchy: lion holding a scimitar against a rising sun.

    • The shah tried to make the old monarchy itself a central symbol or Iranian life.

    • He held celebrations to place this image in the public imagination.

    • This symbol vanished after shah was deposed in 1979.

    • Symbol replaced byIt has been replaced by a nonfigurative symbol that can be construed as a calligraphic representation of the basic Islamic creed, "There is no god but God."

    • Much symbolism comes from the "Twelver" branch of Shi'a Islam that has been the official state religion since the seventeenth century. There is a central symbolic importance of Imam Hassain, the grandson of the prophet Muhammad, who was martyred in Karbala in present-day Iraq during the Islamic month of Muharram in the seventh century. His martyrdom is a "master symbol" in Iranian life, serving as an inexhaustible source of imagery and rhetoric.

  • Demanding liberalization of the strict religious rule of its leaders, and a return to the historic balance of religion and secularism that has characterized the nation for most of its history.

  • Iranian population neither persecutes ethnic minorities, nor openly discriminates against them.

  • Political

    • Transitioned from monarchy to theocratic government.

    • President elected for 4 year term.

    • Legislature of 270 members elected by the people.

    • Position of speaker is important as there is no prime minister

    • Voting age is 16

    • More importantly there is a council of religious judges It was designed to implement a controversial philosophy unique to Khomeini's teachings—a "guardianship" to be implemented until the day of return of the twelfth Shi'a Imam, Muhammad al-Mahdi, who is in occultation (being hidden from view)

  • Army

    • Although there is a standing army, navy, and air force, the Revolutionary Guards organized shortly after the Revolution, dominate military activities, often coming into conflict with the standard military forces. The Revolutionary Guards either accompany or lead all military activities, both internal and international.

Women in Iran

  • Womans movement began in 1848, when the daughter of a famous religious person ripped her veil off and demanded emancipation. She was executed for this in 1852, yet this shocked the nation and led to following of these actions. Women of high birth were in the 19th century generally well educated and able to write books etc. and were included in social struggles

  • A constitution for more rights for women ratified in 1906, however they were still seen in the mother role and not allowed to participate in politics. Schools for women started to open up at fast pace, prominent women started to emerge. By the 1920s, there were some magazines for women, even though there was much resistance from the more religious guys

  • In 1931, women were able to ask for divorce

  • In 1934, Reza Shah gave women political power. In 1936, unveiling was made compulsory and boys and girls were allowed equal education, and entered university.

  • By 1978 ( before the revolution) 33% of university students were women

  • Islamic Republic formed, and initially much progress was undone. Women’s wedding age reduced from 18 to 13, the veil was made obligatory once more.

  • However, the movement was not entirely undone, and women were still part of politics and university enrolment of women increased. They could never, however, overwhelm their last obstacle to equality, the Islamic Shari’a

Link 2 is broken and useless

Opinion of a music teacher on life in Iran:

  • 2009 is the 30th anniversary of the Islamic revolution that brought Ayatoll ah Khomeini to power

  • Hamid Reza Taherzadeh, music teacher:

    •  I believed that [Khomeini’s] return would be a benefit to the country and that he would install a democratic system of government, as he had promised to do while in exile in Paris. Sadly, he dashed the hopes of the Iranian people. Not only did he not stick to his promises, but much worse, he arrested, tortured and executed thousands of Iranian men and women. Musicians did not escape this crackdown.

    • Khomeini declared music the tool of the Devil, musicians were attacked by secret police on the street, and Amir Nasser Aftitah, Iran’s greatest percussionist, got all his fingers broken by them. For singing in public, a government permit is required

    • There will be no change whatsoever in June, because it will be the same person, the Ayatollah, holding on to the reins of power. What have Khatami and Rafsandjani done in the eight years they have been at the country's helm? Absolutely nothing. This is a regime that refuses to hear messages of peace from other countries. It is a barbarous system closer to the middle ages than the modern world.

Different opinions on life Iran, from different people

  • Mahmout Sardari, retired government employee, says: "[Before the 1979 revolution] I had a 150 square meter apartment then and I could afford to travel abroad with my two daughters and my wife. But now with this high inflation I feel poorer every passing day." Official inflation rate at 15%. “Under the Shah, the middle class constituted a majority of Iran's population, said Sardari. "But now Iranians are mainly lower income people."

  • Someone else, architect Alireza Naghshband, disagrees: "Since 1979, we weathered international sanctions, diplomatic isolation, and the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s," he said. "Still, people like me have much better living standards than before the revolution. Under the Shah most Iranians were poor except those linked to the royal family. But since 1979 Iran has become the land of opportunities for all Iranians."

  • Since the revolution, Washington cut its diplomatic ties with Iran. Iranians do not see the same respect abroad that they used to see, and it is extremely hard for Iranians to get visas to the US

  • Before the revolution, women were more respected if they were not covered from head to toe. Now, women are forced to veil themselves, and face fines or jail sentences if not doing so.

  • Since Ahmadinejad won the presidency in 2005, promising a return of the values of the revolution, hardliners have pressed for tighter controls on the Islamic dress code

  • Under the Shah (before the revolution) criticism of the system publicly was extremely dangerous because of his secret police, the Savak, says 60y.o. Iraj Nemati. Today, there is much more freedom of expression, and people are heard criticizing the government and its policies much more often

  • However, rights groups and western diplomats say the Islamic Republic has, since Ahmadinejad came to power, led a crackdown on dissenting voices

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