Ältere Beiträge nochmals

 

Fünfzehn populär eIrrtümer zum Islam „In der Anti-Islamhetze, die immer heftiger wird, werden enorme Mengen an Desinformation verbreitet. Angesichts des weltweiten Erstarkens rechtspopulistischer und faschistischer Strömungen schadet es vielleicht nicht, Ihnen einige Korrekturen für die dunklen Jahre mitzugeben.“

Das Paradies, nach K. al-Azama „O Herr, wem gehört diese Frau?” und Gott antwortet: „Rede sie an, mein Knecht, so wird sie dir antworten.” Der Freund Gottes spricht sie an und indem er dies tut, öffnet sie die Tür ihres Zeltes, tritt heraus zu dem Freund Gottes und sagt zu ihm: „Mein Schatz, wie konntest du mich vergessen? Weißt du nicht mehr wie ich mit dir Hunger, Durst und Nacktheit, Jammer und Missgeschick ausgehalten habe? […] Ich bin deine Frau, die dir in der irdischen Bleibe gehorcht hat.”

The veil ban in Iran

Ceremony of the abolition of the veil, 1936

🇩🇪 🇳🇱 The tendency of authorities to interfere with women’s clothing is well known. Mostly they want to cover more of the female body, but sometimes it has to be less. Long before the burka and burkini bans in Western Europe, the Iranian Emperor Reza Shah decreed in 1936 that women should lay off their chador and dress in western style. And not only that, they also were supposed to socialise with men. At celebrations and public events, civil servants had to appear with their ladies in formal western dress to be a role model to others. This was supervised and penalties could be imposed. At parties, for example, women were not allowed to sit on one side and men on the other, and women should not just talk to their own husbands. In the streets, the police checked on female dress and did not hesitate to forcibly rob women of their chador. In those days, there were of course only male police officers. When women resorted to long dresses and headscarves, these were also banned.
.

Audience at the horse races

Modernist circles were pleased with the unveiling and in the North of Iran, which was influenced by Russia, it was easily accepted. For the conservative sections of the population, however, the implementation of the decree was a disaster. Women no longer dared to leave their houses, and if they did, they would be harassed by the neighbourhood boys. Apparently, nobody had thought of the consequences of the new regulations. In the south, some women fled to Iraq. Many others decided to stay completely at home; some committed suicide. But by then the houses had no bath, people went to the public bathhouse and that was no longer possible. Always having a quick wash at home is not pleasant; moreover, taking a bath is often also a religious duty. The police knew the needs of the women and therefore patrolled the bathhouses, where they might catch a veiled woman. Reza Baraheni (1935—) recounted that his father used to carry his wife and his mother to the bathhouse in a sack. One day a policeman became suspicious and asked what those bags contained. Pistachios, he answered. The policeman wanted to check it and fingered the bag. The mother, who was ticklish, could not keep her laugh and her carrier was arrested. Baraheni is a writer, so the story could well be fiction – but it’s a nice motif.
.
The mandatory parties were not really fun either, especially not on winter evenings. In the draughty, unheated halls, the women were cold in their sleeveless, décolleté dresses. Therefore, they sometimes wore a heavy winter coat over it. When a man did not want to bother his wife with all this, he might marry some other woman for the duration of the event, maybe a prostitute. A temporary marriage, even for a few hours, is a possibility offered by Iranian law—even today. In this way he could attend the party with a wife, while he left his real wife at home.
.
Prostitutes were, by the way, the only women who were allowed to completely cover themselves, or they indeed had to. In this way the government tried to make people understand how despicable the veil was.
.
The veil ban also led to diplomatic tensions with Great Britain, which defended the right of veiled ladies from British India to visit Iran.
.
In 1941 Reza Shah resigned under British-Russian pressure and then everything returned to normal. Two years later, the veil was declared a matter of personal choice.

BIBLIOGRAPHY
H.E. Chehabi, ‘The banning of the veil and its consequences,’ in: Stephanie Cronin (Hg.), The making of modern Iran. State and society under Riza Shah, 1921–1941, London/New York 2003, 193–210.

Dhu as-Suwaiqatain: eine Ergänzung

Am Ende der Zeiten wird ein komisches Kerlchen aus Äthiopien die Ka‘ba vernichten. Es wird Dhū as-Suwaiqatain genannt und hat rote Beinchen, einen dicken Bauch und bedrohlich schillernde Augen. Vor sieben Jahren schrieb ich hier über diesen Menschen und verwunderte mich über sein Aussehen. Wo haben die Erzähler diese merkwürdige Erscheinung her?
Einige Klarheit gab mir jetzt die Lektüre von Manfred Ullmann, Der Neger in der Bildersprache der arabischen Dichter, Wiesbaden 1998. Ullmann hat Hunderte altarabische Verse gesammelt, in denen ein Ding, Tier oder Mensch mit einem Äthiopier oder einem anderem schwarzem Menschen verglichen wird. In 23 Gedichtfragmente wird ein Vogelstrauß mit einem Äthiopier oder einem Inder verglichen (S. 30–44). Die gemeinsame Eigenschaft, auf der das Vergleichen beruht, ist meistens das Schwarz der Flügel und Deckfedern, aber es können auch die Beine sein.
Ullmann zitiert S. 30 ein Fragment des vorislamischen Dichters Ṣalā’a ibn ‘Amr, auch genannt al-Afwah al-Audī (gest. 570?). In seiner Übersetzung lautet es:

  • „Ein [Straußenhahn] mit rotgefärbten Beinen1 … Er gleicht einem schwarzen Abessinier mit dünnen Schenkeln, dem schwarze, unverständlich plappernde [Kinder] folgen, die Ringe in den Ohren haben.“2

Nach der Lektüre dieses Verses wird der Hadith von Hudhaifa ibn al-Yamān

  • „Es ist, als ob ich einen Äthiopier vor mir sähe, mit roten Beinen und bedrohlich schillernden Augen, mit einer platten Nase und einem dicken Bauch. Er hat seine Füße parallel auf die Ka‘ba gesetzt; er und einige Kumpane von ihm reißen sie Stein nach Stein ab und reichen einander die Steine weiter, die sie letztendlich ins Meer werfen.“3

um die Hälfte verständlicher: der Erzähler wollte wohl einen Äthiopier beschreiben, aber dann kam ihm der aus der Poesie bekannte Vergleich mit dem Vogelstrauß in den Sinn, schwarz und mit roten Beinen, der mit ihm durchging. Bei ihm wird nicht der Vogelstrauß mit einem Äthiopier verglichen, sondern umgekehrt.

Früher meinte ich das Dhū as-Suwaiqatain „der mit den kurzen Beinen“ bedeutete, aber es muss sich doch auf dünne Beine beziehen: sowohl Strauße als Äthiopier sind ja bekannt um ihre dünne Beine. Der „dicke Bauch” ähnelt wohl dem dicken, dunklen Körper des Straußes, der mit seinen dünnen Beinen und Hals kontrastiert. Die schillernden Augen sind von einer anderen Endzeitfigur geliehen, dem daǧǧāl (± Antichrist), der sie auch hat.

So werde ich meinen Text zu Dhū as-Suwaiqatain neu schreiben müssen; das dürfte noch etwas dauern.

ANMERKUNGEN
1. Manche Straußarten bekommen während der Balz rote Beine.
2. خَاضِبٌ … كَالأسْوَدِ الحَبَشِيِّ الحَمْشِ يَتْبَعَهُ سُودٌ طَمَاطِمُ فِي آذَانِهَا
3.

كما ورد في حديث حذيفة مرفوعًا، كأني أنظر الى حبشي أحمر الساقين أزرق العينين أفطس الأنف كبير البطن وقد صف قدميه على الكعبة هو وأصحاب له ينقضونه حجرًا حجرًا يتداولونها حتى يطرحرها في البحر.

Zurück zum Inhalt

Erzwungene Entkleidung in Iran

🇬🇧 🇳🇱 Die Neigung von Behörden, sich mit Frauenkleidung einzulassen, ist allgemein bekannt. Meist geht es darum, mehr vom weiblichen Körper zu bedecken, aber manchmal soll es auch weniger sein. Lange vor den Burka- und Burkiniregeln in Westeuropa dekretierte der iranische Kaiser Reza Schah 1936, dass Frauen ihren Tschador ablegen und sich westlich kleiden sollten. Und nicht nur das; sie sollten sich auch ungezwungen mit fremden Männern unterhalten. Bei Feiern und öffentlichen Veranstaltungen mussten Beamte mit ihren Damen in formeller westlicher Kleidung erscheinen um anderen ein Vorbild zu sein. Das wurde beaufsichtigt und bei Versäumnis konnten Sanktionen aufgelegt werden. Auf Festen durften Frauen nicht auf der einen und Männer auf der anderen Seite sitzen und Frauen sollten nicht nur mit ihren eigenen Ehemännern reden. Auf der Straße kontrollierte die Polizei und scheute nicht, Frauen gewaltsam ihres Tschadors zu rauben. Das waren natürlich männliche Polizeibeamte; weibliche gab es noch nicht. Als Frauen zu langen Kleidern und Kopftüchern griffen, wurden auch die verboten.
.
Modernistische Kreise freuten sich über die Entschleierung und im Norden Irans, der von Russland beeinflusst wurde, wurde sie leicht akzeptiert. Für die konservativen Bevölkerungsschichten war die Umsetzung dieser Dekrete jedoch eine Katastrophe. Frauen wagten sich nicht mehr auf die Straße, und wenn sie es trotzdem taten, würden sie von den Jungen aus der Nachbarschaft beschimpft oder belästigt. Anscheinend hatte niemand an die Konsequenzen der neuen Regelungen gedacht. Im Süden flohen Frauen in den Irak, andere entschieden sich, ganz zu Hause zu bleiben. Aber damals hatten die Häuser kein Bad, die Menschen gingen zum öffentlichen Badehaus und das war jetzt nicht mehr möglich. Immer nur eine Katzenwäsche zu Hause ist nicht angenehm; außerdem ist Baden oft auch eine religiöse Pflicht. Die Polizei kannte die Bedürfnisse der Frauen und patrouillierte deshalb gerne bei den Badehäusern, wo sie vielleicht eine verschleierte Frau erwischen konnten. Der Schriftsteller Reza Baraheni (1935 —) erzählte, dass sein Vater seine Frau und seine Mutter in einem Sack zum Badehaus zu tragen pflegte. Eines Tages wurde ein Polizist misstrauisch und fragte, was in diesen Säcken stecke. Pistazien, antwortete er. Der Polizist wollte es überprüfen und griff in den Sack. Die Mutter war kitzlig, konnte ihr Lachen nicht halten und beide wurden bestraft. Baraheni ist Schriftsteller, also könnte die Geschichte sehr wohl Fiktion sein — aber es ist ein schönes Motiv.
.
Auf den Festen war es auch nicht wirklich lustig. In den zugigen, ungeheizten Sälen froren die Frauen in ihren ärmellosen, dekolletierten Kleidern. Deshalb trugen sie darüber zum Beispiel einen schweren Wintermantel. Manchmal wollte ein Mann seiner Frau all dies nicht antun. Dann heiratete er für die Dauer der Veranstaltung eine Frau, der es alles egal war; vielleicht eine Prostituierte. Eine Ehe auf Zeit, auch für wenige Stunden, ist eine Möglichkeit, die das iranische Recht (noch immer) bietet. Auf diese Weise konnte er mit einer Gattin erscheinen, während seine eigentliche Frau zu Hause saß.
.
Prostituierte waren übrigens die einzigen Frauen, die sich vollständig verhüllen durften, ja sogar mussten. So versuchte die Regierung den Menschen einzuprägen, wie verachtenswert der Schleier war.
.
Das Schleierverbot führte auch zu diplomatischen Spannungen mit Großbritannien, das das Recht der Damen aus Britisch Indien verteidigte, Iran verschleiert zu besuchen.
.
1941 trat Reza Schah unter britisch-russischem Druck zurück und alles wurde wieder normal.

BIBLIOGRAFIE
H.E. Chehabi, „The banning of the veil and its consequences,“ in: Stephanie Cronin (Hg.), The making of modern Iran. State and society under Riza Shah, 1921–1941, London/New York 2003, 193–210.

Zurück zum Inhalt.

The Orient

In 1931, the aviation pioneers Charles and Anne Lindbergh flew from Maine in in north-westerly direction over Canada, Alaska, and the Kurile Islands to reach the Orient, i.e. Japan and China. Anne wrote a book about it that became famous: North to the Orient (1935). For most European travellers, the Orient was Turkey, Syria, Palestine and Egypt. In academic circles the name has fallen into disuse. Nowadays that latter area is no longer called Orient, but Near East, Middle East, Islamic world, Islamic world, Islamicate world, le monde arabo-musulman, MENA (Middle East and North Africa) and the like. However, some googling shows that the name Orient still survives in popular use.
.
The Orient seems to have been the part of the world that stretches from the Turkish border to Japan. Its southern borders are the Sahel and the Indian Ocean. In the Russian Empire, the Islamic territories belonged to the Orient; the Russian parts did not. Tibet is part of it; Mongolia is perhaps a case of doubt.
There always was something problematic about the name. To begin with, the Turkish border, which is apparently important for the definition, shifted quite a bit in recent centuries. Around 1800, modern Greece, Cyprus, Bosnia, Serbia, Montenegro, Albania, Macedonia, Bulgaria and parts of Romania still belonged to the Ottoman Empire and thus to the Orient. Nowadays they are in Europe and in part even belong to the European Union. And does modern Turkey belong to the Orient? On entering the country one has the strong feeling it does not. The true nature of the word Orient is already evident there: it is not a geographical concept, but rather a feeling.
Moreover, Orient has something to do with Islam: Israel is not Orient, is it? And with old and old-fashioned: Singapore, Hong Kong or Tokyo one can hardly call Orient. And with exotic: camels, turbans, water pipes, strange smells, music, and clothing; narrow alleys in old cities where a Westerner would never find his way without a guide; luxurious palaces where cruel despots rule at their whim of the moment, surrounded by harem slaves. The Orient is incomprehensible, or if you prefer: mysterious. In the 19th century, to the very prudish Europe the Orient was also sensuous and erotic. The mood changed in the 20th century: nowadays Europe considers the Islamic world as prudish and itself as sexually liberated.
Everyone fills in the Orient as he wants; the most important thing is: the Orient is different from ‘our’ world.

Just some random quotes:

“Oh, East is East, and West is West, and never the twain shall meet. (Rudyard Kipling)

“The average Oriental regards the European traveller as fair game, and feels justified in pressing upon him with a perpetual demand for bakshish (baḳshīsh), which simply means ‘a gift’.” (Karl Baedeker, Egypt and the Sûdân. Handbook for travellers, Leipzig/London/New York 1914).

“In the Orient, friendship is a rarity, and selflessness most of all.” (Karl Baedeker, Ägypten, 1928).

“Tea, like a steady, introverted and reserved hermit with charming temperament that inspires people like a spring breeze, originates from the mysterious orient five thousand years ago.”

“In the Orient, the stomach is the seat of the soul. That is why spices in Arabia have been beloved ingredients in fine cuisine and drinks for centuries.”

“Its political system was apparently seeped through with the kind of Oriental cruelty that was characteristic of the East – notably, the Ottoman and Chinese empires.”

“There’s a touch of smoky Oriental cruelty in Ms Marlohe’s eyes that reminds us of Eva Green in Casino Royale.”

“‘Monsoon’ Coffee Mug. Part of our ‘The Mysterious Orient’ collection, our mug depicts the sudden downpours that are the hallmark of the monsoon season …”

“The oriental ritual is deeply cleansing, detoxifying and pleasant for the body. The skin will become silky-smooth and muscular tensions are eased. The entire treatment is accompanied by the scents of Moroccan Atlas cedar, cinnamon and eucalyptus.”

The Orient, then, is apparently a large but vague area, about which all conceivable nonsense can be claimed.
.
Sometimes the word only indicates a vague origin somewhere in the East. Many Chinese, Indonesian and Thai restaurants have something with Orient in their name, as do carpet shops. The Orient Express drove to Constantinople, present-day Istanbul. Cookbooks and restaurants offer Oriental cuisine. Martial arts are usually called Asian and come from the Far East: Japan, China, Korea, Thailand, Indonesia. Those who are injured in practising them can take advantage of oriental medicine. Oriental or oriental art objects, furniture and lamps are widely available. Interestingly enough, in Arabic belly dance is called raqṣ sharqī, ‘oriental dance’: a case of a western designation adopted in the ‘Orient’. Oriental philosophy and wisdom have been at home in the area between Japan and India, with an offshoot to Gibran Kahlil Gibran (1883–1931, Lebanon/USA), who on his own spread a lot of oriental wisdom in The Prophet and several other writings.
.
What did the Europeans do with their Orient?
– Fight it, as long as there was a strong hostile force in the East: Arabs, Ottoman Turks.
– Forget and/or deny that almost everything worthwhile in European culture, the Bible and Christianity included, originated from there.
– Trade with it: on the Silk Road and by sea after the European discovery of the major shipping routes. East India Companies, Tea clippers.
– Conquering and controlling it, especially from ± 1800–1950.
– Fantasise and dream about it.

Further reading:
Orientalism and Oriental Studies: the concepts.
The sword of Islam.
Orientalising the Dutch East Indies, or: Pimp your princes. Dutch colonial rulers imitating Javanese princes.
Dreaming of the OrientOrientalist painting.

Orientalist painting

Before I continue to discuss Orientalism, I will quickly show you some pictures by orientalist painters, so that you get an impression. In the period from roughly 1830–1914, the East was supposed to be picturesque, colourful, exotic, beautiful, rich, and above all sensual. The fabrics were expensive, the architecture was impressive. The supposed arbitrariness and cruelty of Eastern despots is a favourite subject (Cormon, Regnault), as is the cruelty of slavery, although the painters show little concern for their fellow human beings; they rather enjoy the sight of a nearly naked woman or boy. Poverty or misery is hardly ever a subject matter.
.
For many a painter an oriental scene was the pretext for portraying nudity, as representations from the Bible or Antiquity had been in the past. The sensuousness of the Islamic world, the bathhouses and the harems appealed to the imagination in a Europe that by then was very prudish. Only a few knew about life in those harems, but at a time when European ladies were hidden under poke bonnets and crinolines and almost fainted in their tightly laced corsets, their husbands‘ imagination was stimulated by oriental fantasies.
.
Orientalist painters did not have to travel to the Orient. Ingres spent his life between France and Italy. Lewis painted a very colourful Cairo, while that city actually consists of fifty shades of pale yellow and grey.
.
The famous painting showing a dirty-looking slave trader who just reveals a new virgin is by Fabio Fabbi. The copy here below is poor, but if you want to see more oriental soft porn by him you may click here or you google: fabbi slave market. The man must have become rich by painting such trash.
.
Orientalist painters did not have to have been to the Orient. Ingres never got further than Italy. Lewis paints a very colourful Cairo, although that city actually consists of fifty shades of pale yellow and gray.
.
The work of Alma Tadema, who painted classical antiquity, is related to that of the Orientalists. When he dealt with ancient Egypt, he was also an orientalist.

Further reading:
The OrientOrientalism and Oriental Studies: the concepts.
The sword of Islam.
Orientalising the Dutch East Indies, or: Pimp your princes. Dutch colonial rulers imitating Javanese princes.
Dreaming of the Orient.

Dreaming of the Orient

Both orientalism and Oriental Studies often are based on the oriental dream. Although I never get personal in these pages, for once I want to speak about my self. You have a right to know how I became an Orientalist.
.
My parental home was within walking distance of the Tropenmuseum in Amsterdam—formerly the Colonial Institute. After the mandatory church attendance on Sunday morning, I enjoyed going to that museum in the afternoon. There was often an event: Indra Kamajoyo, for example, danced there, or Javanese fairy tales were recited, about Kancil the mischievous mouse-deer, or something from the Mahabharata. The best thing was to hear the gamelan orchestra playing, possibly with wayang (puppet theatre). When I was a little older, I absorbed myself in the museum’s Orientalist bookstore.
.
After a while I knew it: I wanted to go to Java to hear the gamelan play every night. That I also would have to earn my living did not bother me. The best way to work towards it seemed to be studying Indonesian Languages and Literature. That was possible in Leiden and I didn’t want to leave Amsterdam. But to do Indonesian studies you had to do Arabic and Sanskrit first, and studying Arabic was possible in Amsterdam, so if I started with that. Then I stuck to Arabic, although the Middle East was not my dream world at all. But Arabic also included Hebrew for the candidate exam in Semitic Languages. I liked Hebrew too, so I thought it was okay. Later I did end up in Leiden, where I studied Indonesian and classical Malay for another three years. Sanskrit was no longer mandatory by then, Javanese I found too bothersome and my main subject was and remained Arabic. Egypt, where I spent a winter, was an obsession rather than an Oriental dream. But after Egypt I could never get used to the Netherlands again and I often „went back“.
.
Why that dream? It was very simple: I was not happy with my actual environment and wanted to go away. There was no question of colonial desires. I knew very well that we no longer ‘had’ the Indies and heard enough talking around me about the unpleasant mister Sukarno, who held the scepter there. But that didn’t break the dream.
.
Dreaming was not the only thing I did: I also went to school, listened to European music and lived a normal life. But the dream of the Orient was strong enough to determine a large part of my future life, although it was not focused enough to take me to Indonesia.
.
There were also Dutch people who were more focused in their dream and just went. One of them succeeded in building gamelan instruments during the Second World War, on which he and his group gave performances in the Tropenmuseum. One day he left for Indonesia, where he lived as a professor of musicology. The current professor of Javanese in Leiden was trained in Surakarta as a dalang (wayang puppeteer).
.
Of course there were countless people who did not concern themselves with the ‘Orient’ on the basis of dreams, but, for example, to trade, to conquer or to rule. Yet they too got to do with an Orient that the dreamers had dreamt together.

Further reading:
The OrientOrientalism and Oriental Studies: the concepts.
The sword of Islam.
Orientalising the Dutch East Indies, or: Pimp your princes. Dutch colonial rulers imitating Javanese princes.
Orientalist painting.

Orientalism and Oriental Studies: the concepts

I confess: I am an orientalist. But in what sense exactly?
.
Orientalism is (or was) a specialism in art that flourished especially in the nineteenth century and was inspired by what was formerly known as ‘the Orient’, the mysterious East: the beauty, the richness, the beauty of colours, the cruelty and the sensuality that people perceived there or at least imagined. A painter or architect who practices orientalism is called an orientalist or an orientalist painter.
.
Oriental studies are (or were) the scientific study of the languages ​​and civilisations of formerly called ‘the Orient’: an area that began at the steadily receding Turkish border and ended somewhere in East Asia. Someone who practises Oriental studies is also called an orientalist. That’s what I am; more specifically I am an arabist. I cannot paint.
.
This is also the case in German:
– English: oriental studies – orientalism – orientalist, orientalist painter
– German: Orientalistik – Orientalismus – Orientalist
The concepts of oriental studies and orientalism can be kept apart with the help of the above definitions; so far, confusion is only possible with the word orientalist.
.
In French, however, the confusion seems to be ingrained. Oriental studies are called études orientales, but also orientalisme. The term orientologie was probably created to create clarity, but is not widely used.
.
Outside France, confusion only came up when Edward Said’s famous—or notorious— book Orientalism was published in 1978. This author mixed up the two concepts. He did this deliberately, because he wanted to emphasise what he thought was common to both activities, i.e. the desire to create a distorted image of ‘the Orient’ with the intention of subjugating and dominating it. Said primarily had the intention of discrediting both orientalism and oriental studies.

Further reading:
The Orient.
The sword of Islam.
Orientalising the Dutch East Indies, or: Pimp your princes. Dutch colonial rulers imitating Javanese princes.
Dreaming of the OrientOrientalist painting.