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In the Name of God بسم الله
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ShiaMan14

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I had been planning to go to Iran for a long time and finally made it a priority for me in 2016. Since I wanted to mix in sightseeing and pilgrimage in the same trip, I decided to go on my own instead of in a group.

As it turned out, getting an individual visa for Iran when traveling from the US is a real hassle. We need to get permission from the Iran Foreign Ministry and then apply for the visa at the Iran Mission housed within the Pakistani Embassy in Washington, DC. After struggling for almost 3 weeks, I was able to find Taha Ziyarat Group (tahaziyarat@gmail.com) based out of Toronto that obtained the necessary approval for me for $90.

Once I got my approval, I sent my passport off to the Iran Mission in Washington. I did have to follow up with them almost daily to ensure they processed my visa application expeditiously. I received my passport 4 days before flying out.

While I was waiting for the visa approval, I booked my flights on Qatar Airways for a bargain price of $700 return to/from US-Tehran. For in-country arrangements, I know a maulana (NAJ) there who arranged everything for me based on my budget.

Finally, the big day came and I left for Iran on Wed Mar 23rd arriving in Tehran late Thu evening (Mar 24th). NAJ had arranged for a driver to pick me up and drive straight to Qum instead of spending the night in Tehran. The drive from IKA (Imam Khomeni Airport) to Qum took about 90 minutes. The driver barely spoke English but knew where to pick me up from and where to drop me. We arrived at Qum International Hotel around 1245am (Fri Mar 25th). The hotel was about a *** US hotel, higher for Iran.

 

Day 1 (Fri):

 

We prayed fajr in our room and went back to bed. Since breakfast was included in our price, we went down for breakfast around 9a – nice long buffet.
NAJ contacted me around 10am and picked me up from the QIH around 1030a to take me to the Roza of Masooma-e-Qum. We walked to the roza and were there at 1035a. The hotel is the closet one to the roza.

NAJ showed us around the haram and provided us some background about Masooma and her roza. From 1130a – 2p, we were on our own to recite ziyarat, salah-e-jumah and dua. I wandered around the roza and made my way to the masjid adjoining the roza. It is an absolutely beautiful mosque.

They had beautiful recitations of the quran and then some speeches followed by Azaan. The Jumah khutba was recited by an Ayatollah in Farsi (of course) and then namaz-e-jumah. Although I did not understand most of the khutba, one thing that was unmistakable was the ‘marg-al-Amreeka’ chants (down with America or death to America). They were loud and boisterous.

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Shrine of Bibi Masooma Qum (as).

After salah-e-jumah, NAJ took us to the Suffrah of Masooma where were had a decent meal of rice with spinach with potatoes.

We went to our hotel after lunch for some R&R and then returned to the haram for maghribain. After namaz, NAJ took us around the bazaar outside the haram. The clothing looked like they were from the 70s and 80s. Religious paraphernalia including irani chador were well stocked and affordably priced. Almost evey other shop sold halwa-suhan.

 

Day 2 (Sat):

 

We spent most of this day driving around to the various ziarats around Qum.

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Bait Al-Noor. Musallah of Masooma (as). This is where she spent time praying.

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Shrine of an Imamzadeh (Son of an Imam).

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Shrine of Hz. Hamza bin Musa Kazim (as).

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Day 3 (Sun):

 

This was by far the most hectic day of the trip. We left around 5am to drive from Qum to Isfahan. It was about a 4-hour drive. I was surprised how much of the Iranian country was desert. The deserts in the Middle East countries (UAE, Saudi) have a lot of fine yellow sand. Iranian deserts are more rocky than sandy.

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Upon entering Isfahan, we visited the shrine of Masooma Zainab bint Imam Musa Khadim (as) – Masooma Qum’s younger sister.

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Next stop was the Jameh Mosque of Isfahan. We spent a few minutes here and then walked to Allama Majlisi’s tomb nearby. His house and surrounding are well preserved.

Next was the more secular part of the Ishafan visit.

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We went to Naqsh-e-Jahan (half of the world) which is the main plaza of Isfahan. The weather was great and since the Nawroz holidays were still going on, it was packed with people.

Within Naqsh-e-Jahan is the Ali Qapu Palace

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Panamoric View from Ali Qapu Palace Balcony of Naqsh-e-Jahan

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Since it was almost lunch time, we stopped by a street restaurant selling A’ash

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After lunch, we went to the Vank Cathedral. This Christian monastery was established in 1606. It contains some amazing art work.

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From here, we went to Khaju Bridge for some more sightseeing.

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At this point, we were too tired to do anything else so we headed back to Qum – 4 hour journey mostly spent napping.

 

Day 4 (Mon):

After a hectic day, sleep was going to be the primary thing on the agenda for this day but there was too much to do. We prayed fajr at the mosque next to Masooma-e-Qum’s shrine:

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Mosque adjacent to Masooma-e-Qum's shrine

And then went back to our hotel for more sleep. We had breakfast and got ready for another fun-filled travel day.

We started off by going from Qum to Mashad-e-Ardehal. This site contains the tomb of Sultan Ali son of Imam Muhammad Baqir (as) and brother of Imam Jafar Sadiq (as). Sultan Ali was brutally killed here by his enemies.

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From here we drove to a hilltop/mountaintop with streams running down. We had to walk down about 500 meters and got a great view of a waterfall.

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The most distinct feature of this area of the smell of rose water distilleries all over the place. You could get rose water for a variety of needs including simple hot rose water tea. The other distinct item being sold was fresh bee hives dripping with honey. And yes, we tried hot rose water tea with honey.

From here, we went to the city of Kashan. Our first stop was an ancient archeological site called Tepe Sialk. The Sialk ziggurat

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Note: Entrance for most places have an Iranian Rate and a Foreigner rate (up to 3X in places). We had our driver buy the tickets and we would walk in with him talking to us in Farsi. Yes – very sneaky indeed. I excused myself by convincing myself that since both my wife and I are of Iranian descent, we qualify for the discount. :) 

 

Final stop of our day trip to Kashan was to the oldest extant garden in Iran known as the Bagh-e-Fin or Fin Garden.

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Although this was a less hectic day than the trip to Isfahan, we were still pretty tired so we drove back to Qum, had a 12-in falafel sandwich, prayed maghraibain at the haram and went to bed.

Day 5 (Tue):

The past couple of days had left us tired so we decided to take it easy.

We went to the haram for fajr then went back to bed. We woke up just in time to catch breakfast and then went to the local market (wish I took pictures). From there we went for zohrain at the mosque adjacent to Masooma’s shrine.

After a quick bite to eat, we left for the Koh-e-Khizr aka Mountain of Khizr. What was supposed to be a light day in terms of exercise became a very intense and steep climb to the top of Koh-e-Khizr. It was well worth it in the end because we got a great view of the entire city of Qum if not the whole province.

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Got more daunting as we got closer.

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For the record, the old gentleman in the pic IS NOT ME :)

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City/Province of Qum.

 

Needless to say the climb down was nowhere near as arduous as the climb up. There was a small food vendor about half from the top. On our way up, we bought some water from him and then ice cream on the way down.

After resting by the car for a few moments, we drove nearby to the Masjid-e-Jhamkaran, located on the outskirts of Qum. A brief history of this grand mosque is that it  has long been a sacred place, at least since 373 A.H., 17th of Ramadan (22 February 984 C.E.), when according to the mosque website, one Sheikh Hassan ibn Muthlih Jamkarani is reported to have met Muhammad al-Mahdi along with the prophet Al-Khidr. Jamkarani was instructed that the land they were on was "noble" and that the owner — Hasan bin Muslim — was to cease cultivating it and finance the building of a mosque on it from the earnings he had accumulated from farming the land.

As we had been told, the mosque starts getting filled up from about 5pm and gets fuller and fuller as the evening progresses. I am not sure if it was because of Nawruz season but it definitely had a very 'carnival' and festive feel to it. People had spread out their rugs all across the mosque courtyard and were reveling with family and friends. There was hot tea brewing and koobideh with naan being shared by one and all.

Quran and then different duas were being recited, followed by maghribain and then more duas. We left around 830p to go back to our hotel.

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Mosque sparely populated around 4pm.

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Crowded!!! (730pm).

 

Day 6 (Wed):

 

Today was the big day when we would finally make our way to Mashad. We had packed the previous night so we left right after fajr – and yes, I skipped breakfast!!!

 

First stop was First stop was an almost 2 hour drive to Ayatollah Khomenei’s mausoleum.   It is located to the south of Tehran in the Behesht-e Zahra (the Paradise of Zahra) cemetery. Construction commenced in 1989 following Khomeini's death on June 3 of that year. It is still under construction, but when completed will be the centerpiece in a complex spread over 5,000 acres, housing a cultural and tourist center, a university for Islamic studies, a seminary, a shopping mall, and a 20,000-car parking lot. The Iranian government has reportedly devoted US$2 billion to this development. It is definitely one of the largest and most beautiful mausoleums I have come across.

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Visitors reciting fatiha for Ayatollah Khomenei.
Please recite surah fatiha for Ayatollah Sayyid Ruhollah Mūsavi Khomeini.

 

Next stop was the Astana Bibi Shehr Bano. On the ground level there is a cave which according to legends was the place where Zuljinah brought Bibi from Kerbala, and she was there until hostile people to Bani Hashim got news of her being there, and they tried to catch her. She climbed the hillock and then vanished in a mountainous wall. Now a zarih has been constructed together with prayer rooms for men and women.

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Zarih of Hz. Shehr Bano.                                                                    View of other side of Tehran.

 

who was a fifth generation descendant of Hasan ibn ‘Alī and a companion of Muhammad al-Taqī. A piece of paper was found in his pocket outlining his ancestry as being: ‘Abdul ‘Adhīm son of ‘Abdillāh son of ‘Alī son of Husayn son of Zayd son of Hasan ibn ‘Alī.Shah Abdul AzeemNext stop was the Shrine of

Adjacent to the shrine, within the complex, include the mausolea of Imamzadeh Tahir (son of the fourth shia Imam Sajjad) and Imamzadeh Hamzeh (brother of the eighth Twelver Imām - Imām Reza).

 

 

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From here, we drove around the City of Tehran including the famed part known as Rey. I am fairly well traveled but I have to say that Tehran is one of the most picturesque cities I have visited. Situated in close proximity of the Alborz range and its majestic peak Mount Damavand , being the highest in Iran with a height of 18,550 feet ,it is a mega city of about Thirty Million People.

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You can see hundreds of buildings at the foot of the mountain. Not a bad view to wake up to every morning.

 

After driving around for a couple of hours, our driver dropped us of at Tehran’s Mehrabad Intl Airport which is primarily used for domestic travel. The airport is in the heart of Tehran or at least within the city.

The airport has a small cafeteria that serves hot meals of the local variety. They also have a coffee shop and ice cream parlor.

After a 2-hour wait, we finally boarded our short (1-hr) flight to Mashad. The flight was as uneventful as all flights can be. I did enjoy a small boxed-meal they offered everyone despite the short flight. It made up for the breakfast that morning J.

Naj had arranged a friend of his (Ali) to be our tour guide for the stay in Mashad. Since Ali’s English was a little weak, he brought along his sister (Afsanay) who was quite fluent in English.

We checked into our Hotel (Hotel Omid). It is definitely one of the nicer hotels in Mashad.

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View of shrine from our hotel room balcony.

We quickly refreshed and headed over to the Shrine of Imam Reza (as). Much to our pleasant surprise, the shrine was not as packed with zawar as we expected. It could have been the weather or Nawruz.

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About to enter the main hallway of the Shrine for the first time. Goose bumps.

 

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As salaam alai ka Ya Ghareeb Al Ghuraba (as)

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One of the many courtyards within the Shrine Complex of Imam Ali Reza (as).

 

Day 7 (Thu):

 

Although our intention was to go to the haram in Imam Al-Reza (as) for fajr, it was raining too hard with heavy winds to walk so we prayed in our rooms and went back to sleep.

We woke up to this view:

 

 

After a world class buffet breakfast, we met up with Ali and Afsanay to go to Nishapour. Once again, it was a very scenic drive. The mountain-desert country just has a certain serenity about it. On the way, we saw small villages celebrating nawroz in their own way.

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Our first stop was at the Qadamgah – where the footprints of the Holy Imam Al-Reza (as) can be found. Adjacent to it is a small stream said to bring benefits of all kinds to the zawar.

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Panoramic view of the building housing the footprint.
 

Just before entering the area of the qadamgah is a small caravansary which use to house people back in the day.

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There were probably abour 20-25 room like the one shown above. Very basic room with a hearth in the middle. The rooms were considered high end. Outside the caravansary, there was just the open shelter (pretend there is no room just the outer part).

Next stop was to the mausoleum of Bibi Shatitay. The legend goes that Imam himself came there and led the Namaz-e-janaza prayers for her.

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We made a brief stop at the historic Shah Abbas Inn/Caravansary which has been converted into several small shops selling jewelry or souvenirs. Nishapur is famous for its turquoise stone (firoza).

Next stop was the shrines of Imamzade Mahruq bin Muhammad Al-Baqir bin Sajjad (as) and Ebrahim bin Ahmad bin Moosa bin Jafar (as). 

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A short walk from here was the tomb of Omar Al-Khayam – one of the most influential thinkers of the Middle Ages. He wrote numerous treatises on mechanics, geography, mineralogy and astronomy.

 

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A short drive from here was the mausoleum of Abu Hamid bin Abu Bakr Ibrahim aka Attar Nishapuri - a Persian Muslim poet, theoretician of Sufism, and hagiographer from Nishapur who had an immense and lasting influence on Persian poetry and Sufism.

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If memory serves me right, next to Attar’s tomb was an archeological site from thousands of years ago. It was going through extensive renovations at the time.

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Our last stop was a very famous local restaurant called Emirat Restaurant. Undoubtedly the best lamb koobideh I have ever had!!! My wife and I had some very interesting conversations with Ali and Afsanay. They were both fascinated by our lives in America. They had no qualms about asking me my salary; the size and cost of our house; they were surprised if not shocked that it was okay for my wife to go grocery shopping by herself and it was perfectly safe. They were under the impression that any woman who stepped out of her house by herself was 'asking for it'. I thought it was hilarious. Now that I think about it, everything the Western media does to paint Muslims in a certain light happens in Iran too but backwards. The Western media takes 1 bad Muslim story and tries to apply it to all Muslims. The Iranian media takes a bad Western story and applies it to all Westerners. This was just my observation and nothing more.

We had some other interesting conversations but those are for another day and another time. 

We drove back to Mashad and spent the evening the haram of Imam Al-Reza (as).

Day 8 (Fri):

We prayed fajr at the haram and went back to bed; then woke up to this beautiful view.

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Beautiful view of Roza of Ima Ali Reza (as).

Since it was Friday, we stayed in our room until 11a or so and then headed to the haram again. Good thing we went early because it was fuller than we had seen since we got there.

So I got a good spot in the mosque adjacent to the haram. I heard the Friday sermon (understood bits and pieces) and the “Death to American” chants, then prayed juma followed by Asr.

 

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Mosque adjacent to Imam Ali Reza's (as) shrine.

Next was one of the most essential parts of the trip. One may not get this opportunity all the time. We had to take our passport to the office of Pilgrims situated in the Haram of Imam Ridha’s (as). They marked our passport and gives us a ticket for the meal. At the restaurant, they feed almost 4000 Zuwar each day. Thousands of Iranians must wait for years before they get a chance to have a meal at this restaurant.

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Lunch at Imam's restaurant (dastakhawan)

Following lunch, Ali and Afsanay picked us up for some sightseeing. We drove around Mashad, saw her university and then went to ziarat nearby

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Ziarat near Mashad

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Iranian country side. Notice the marked difference in scenery from the previous pictures.

On our way back, we stopped at an ice cream parlor for some traditional Persian ice cream. The last stop was a nearby pewter mountain. I was amazed to see people climbing it without any concern for safety. It was rainy and slick. Mrs ShiaMan14 bought a very nice souvenir.

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We came back, rested for a bit and then went to the haram for salah.

Day 9 (Sat):

This was the day to head back to Tehran. We spent the entire night at the haram until fajr. Then came back to get some rest. We got up after a couple of hours, had some breakfast and packed. We took all our luggage downstairs and went back to the haram for zuhrain. We also did the farewell ziarat, rushed back to the hotel since Ali was waiting for us.

We got to the Mashad International Airport around 245pm for a 530p flight - plenty of time.

Just as Ali left us, NAJ gave me a call informing me that my flight had been cancelled so he booked me on the last flight to Tehran (happened to be the cheapest option). This is when panic set in. If the last flight got cancelled, I  would miss my flight from IKA to Doha and the subsequent flight to US.

I could see on the monitors that there were several flights from the time now until my new flight time although all of them were on a different airline than mine. I called NAJ to ask if my ticket could be changed and he said it would not be possible. So I saw the flight I wanted about 1.5 hours later and went to their sales office. First, they couldnt understand why I wanted another ticket when I already had one. My farsi and their english were too awful to understand each other but nevertheless they allowed me to buy 2 tickets. 

Next problem - I did not have any Iranian Rials on me and the INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT did not have a Money Exchange! So I had to call Ali back to see if he had any rials that he could give me in exchange for dollars. By this time, he was about 20 minutes away so we had to wait for him to come back. In the meanwhile, the Sales Agent agreed to take my dollars at a fairly decent exchange rate. Basically, I bought 2 one-way tickets from Mashad to Tehran for about $100. Just as we finalized the transaction, Ali came back and I had to explain the whole thing to him as well. He, too, was confused as to why I would buy another ticket when I already had one. 

Anyway, we finally put all that behind us, checked-in and were on our way to Tehran.

After an uneventful journey to Tehran, we drove all the way to Qum to sepnt about 3-4 hours in Qum at NAJ's house. We freshened up, ate a really nice meal and got ready to leave.

Day 10 (Fri):

We left Naj's house around 1am and reached IKA by 215am. Since this was the last or day after Nawruz holidays, the airport was jam packed. It took an hour to check-in, the security lines were considerably shorter so in another 15 minutes, we were at our gate. Boarding started just around fajr, so we prayed quickly and boarded our Qatar Airways flight to Doha.

I was a bit nervous about returning to the US from Iran but had no problems whatsoever.

A very placid end to a very hectic but thoroughly enjoyable trip.

Summary:

Iranians are a very joyous and happy people. There was no patch of grass where we didn't see a family setting up a picnic be it as a roadside or a courtyard of a shrine. I really wish relations between Iran and the West improves so the people can really experience the rich, colorful and impressive history, geography and culture Iran has to offer.

Our entire 10 day trip cost about $1,600/pp. It was money well spent.

 

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  • Advanced Member
22 hours ago, shiaman14 said:

Salaam,

This was March 2016.

Inshallah next time. 

 

Shiraz is the host of one of the most ancient sites of Iran and the world, which is called takhte jamshid in Persian and Persopolis in English, and also there's a shrine for the older brother of Imam Rida(as), Hazrat Ahmad ibn Musa(as) or as we call him shah cheragh (the king of light) in Shiraz, and many other shrines too

There's also the tombs of two of the greatest Persian poets here in Shiraz, one is Hafez who was shia and the other one is Sa'di who was sunni.

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On 3/8/2017 at 0:14 AM, Hidaren said:

Shiraz is the host of one of the most ancient sites of Iran and the world, which is called takhte jamshid in Persian and Persopolis in English, and also there's a shrine for the older brother of Imam Rida(as), Hazrat Ahmad ibn Musa(as) or as we call him shah cheragh (the king of light) in Shiraz, and many other shrines too

There's also the tombs of two of the greatest Persian poets here in Shiraz, one is Hafez who was shia and the other one is Sa'di who was sunni.

Yes I definitely need to. Due to time constraints, we had to choose between Isfahan or Shiraz but I definitely want to see Persepolis one day inshallah.

If I had the time, I would have taken a train from Tehran --> Isfahan --> Shiraz --> Mashad with 1-2 day stops in Isfahan and Shiraz but it wasnt to be.

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Re: climate

It's a shame that some Iranians are somehow ashamed of our climate? So I think they try to push the idea of Iran having a sort of European climate, which it does not. And then other people begin to get this impression, which is probably why you had the perception you did.

But it is true what you said: Iran does have sand deserts but most of the desert is rocky and mountanous. Two thirds of Iran is desert, but two thirds is also mountanous, which obviously means there is some overlap. And although much of the country has four seasons, precipitation in Iran is only about a third of the global average, and even then a lot of that is accounted for by the very rainy climate in the north.

I personally love the mountain-deserts and think they are nothing to be ashamed of. Besides: if there are a very successive days of rain those barren mountains will begin to look lush and green. That's the beauty of a climate which changes. 

Aside from the major ziyarah sites I would recommend you go to Lorestan. Beautiful nature and cultural peculiarities / lifestyle which are astounding.

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On 3/8/2017 at 4:47 PM, realizm said:

:salam:

Why did you drive back to Qum after each of your visits? Just curious.

You must have lost time and money by doing so.

:ws:

Good question.

Initially, we wanted to drive from Qum to Isfahan and stay there overnight. The next day, we would go to Kashan and then back to Qum. 

Unfortunately, since it was Nawroz season, a lot of the hotels were booked in Isfahan so we couldn't secure a good hotel. Also, our driver was from Qum so we would have had to pay for his accommodation as well. Plus traveling with luggage was a factor.

If we had traveled by train, then I would have definitely stayed overnight in Isfahan. Kashan was good for the few hours we spent there and it was only a 2-hr drive so definitely not worth staying overnight.

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50 minutes ago, baradar_jackson said:

Re: climate

It's a shame that some Iranians are somehow ashamed of our climate? So I think they try to push the idea of Iran having a sort of European climate, which it does not. And then other people begin to get this impression, which is probably why you had the perception you did.

But it is true what you said: Iran does have sand deserts but most of the desert is rocky and mountanous. Two thirds of Iran is desert, but two thirds is also mountanous, which obviously means there is some overlap. And although much of the country has four seasons, precipitation in Iran is only about a third of the global average, and even then a lot of that is accounted for by the very rainy climate in the north.

I personally love the mountain-deserts and think they are nothing to be ashamed of. Besides: if there are a very successive days of rain those barren mountains will begin to look lush and green. That's the beauty of a climate which changes. 

Aside from the major ziyarah sites I would recommend you go to Lorestan. Beautiful nature and cultural peculiarities / lifestyle which are astounding.

I was born in UAE so whenever I think of a desert, the first thing that comes to mind is the fine yellow sand of those deserts.

I, too, love mountain-deserts. They have their own beauty. It reminded me of the drive from Damascus to Halab. Very similar geography but I think Iran is more mountainous.

In our ~10 days there, we really saw all kinds of weather from really hot to freezing cold.

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Mashallah a very nice place. I hope you enjoy every bit of the journey. I am an Australian however, I come from Iraq, Najaf and whenever I visit Iraq and see the holy shrines it is very calming and a pleasant place to be in. Inshallah one day you can visit all the holy shrines of Ahululbayt in Iraq. Please make Dua for us.

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Mashallah, may Allah grant us ziyarat Imam Reza as

 

May I ask you which hotel you stayed in Mashad? And what did you pay for it?

Edited by ElAhmed
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3 hours ago, ElAhmed said:

Mashallah, may Allah grant us ziyarat Imam Reza as

 

May I ask you which hotel you stayed in Mashad? And what did you pay for it?

Sorry brother. I should have included that info.

We stayed at Hotel Omid. It was newly renovated in Feb-2016. To be honest, I don't know the rate. I worked a package deal with the person who arranged the entire trip.

I will provide the details at the end.

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3 hours ago, shiaman14 said:

Sorry brother. I should have included that info.

We stayed at Hotel Omid. It was newly renovated in Feb-2016. To be honest, I don't know the rate. I worked a package deal with the person who arranged the entire trip.

I will provide the details at the end.

No akhi, you don't need to apologize.

You are already sharing this beautiful trip with us

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  • Latest Blog Entries

         9 comments
      [amended 19 August 2023 to include references to the Irish potato famine and two Bengal famines]
      Surah Yusuf
      Prophet Yusuf (عليه السلام) advised Pharoah to hoard grains during the years of plenty. I think this episode is a noteworthy one because it shows how a State can intervene in the marketplace in order to improve the welfare of the wider population.
      But as we shall see below, the government intervention that Prophet Yusuf (عليه السلام) instigated favoured some sections of the population over others - it was not neutral in terms of how it spread gains and losses across the population.
      https://www.al-islam.org/sites/default/files/singles/633-yusuf.pdf
      While there is other material in the Qur'an that deals with transactions within the marketplace between individual participants - this story stands out in terms of its focus on state intervention. 
      I'll be coming back to this issue later - but I think it informs the discussions we have about Islam and contemporary socio-economic theories. In particular, I think it illustrates that Islam does see the State as an active market participant and that in an Islamic state, the role of government is not one that is hands-off or laissez-faire.
       
      What policy options did Prophet Yusuf (عليه السلام) have?
      We should not take the story as presented 'for granted'. In reality, the Prophet (عليه السلام). had a range of choices open to him, and thinking those through helps us better understand the reasons for the policy he undertook and the reason why. 
      No government interference
      Let's start with the simplest and easiest option that Pharoah's government could have pursued once they knew that there would be seven years of plenty followed by seven years of famine (as predicted by the Pharoah's dream which was interpreted by Prophet Yusuf (عليه السلام).) .
      Pharoah could have left the entire issue to the 'market'. During the years of plenty, the price of food would have fallen and people would have enjoyed a higher standard of living. For example, the lower grain prices could have led to people rearing more cattle and their diets would have improved with more meat.
      However, during the years of famine, grain prices would have risen and those people who had accumulated assets in the years of plenty would be able to pay the higher prices in the famine years. Those who had not had such assets would have starved.
      This assumes a fairly high level of self-discipline on the part of the population, but as Milton Friedman would say, the people would have been 'free to choose'. This is not a hypothetical option. The British lack of action to the Irish potato famine has been attributed to the British government's ideological adherence to a laissez-faire approach to macro-economics:
      https://kenanfellows.org/kfp-cp-sites/cp01/cp01/sites/kfp-cp-sites.localhost.com.cp01/files/LP3_BBC Irish Famine Article for Lab.pdf
       
      The Bengal famine is another one where government policy was different to the one Prophet Yusuf ((عليه السلام).) prescribed to Pharoah. In this instance, it was lack of government restriction over the action of privateers:
      https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/mar/29/winston-churchill-policies-contributed-to-1943-bengal-famine-study
       
      Going back still further, the Great Bengal Famine of 1770 has been directly attributed to British government laissez-faire economic policy.
      https://worldfinancialreview.com/the-political-economy-of-famines-during-the-british-rule-in-india-a-critical-analysis/
       
      Light interference - provision of information
      A common policy option nowadays, where people do not want direct government intervention is to recommend improving the provision of information to the population who will then be better able to make the correct decisions for themselves. The government could have mounted an information campaign during the years of plenty and told people to hoard food themselves, hoarding when there is no shortage is allowed in Islam.
      However such attempts to influence awareness about the famine to come and changing peoples' attitudes so that they saved more than they were used to, would likely have run against increased social pressures on people to do the opposite. For example typically in societies as wealth increases there is social pressure to spend more, in this case, for example, have more lavish weddings.
      Also providing information would have been a practical benefit for the better off e.g. those with storage capacity, but not so good for the poor (who would not have room to store grain, for example).
      The government (using a bit more intervention) could have given tax breaks to people who owned granaries, to help the poor who needed such facilities. Again this solution would be to focus on market-based interventions and simply alter the working of the market using incentives. Current economic theory holds that people discount future risks very heavily i.e. they don't perceive them as much of a threat as they should. So, for example, just telling people they should save for a pension does not work. 
      So we can likely predict that the solutions described above would not have worked had they tried them.
      Heavy interference
      This is what they actually did.
      In times of plenty, Pharoah's government did not let prices fall as would have happened under free market conditions. They kept prices higher than they otherwise would have been because the government intervened and took excess stocks of grain out of circulation.
      All people (rich and poor alike) had no option but to pay the usual higher prices - effectively, the government was taxing everyone, but this was not seen as a loss by anyone because the prices were no higher than usual.
      The government stored the grain centrally and then they decided to release the grain according to their own policies.
      Assumptions made by Prophet Yusuf's government
      If you leave people to their own devices they may not make the best decisions (whether they are rich or poor), this could be due to: People do not have the resources to cater for future shocks (mainly the poor) People do not have the discipline to address future shocks (applies to both the rich and the poor) The government can make better decisions than individuals acting in their own self-interest because: The government can have access to more and better information than individuals do The government may not be as susceptible to a lack of self-discipline  
      Conclusion
      Of all the policy options open to Prophet Yusuf (عليه السلام) he advised Pharoah to pursue the most interventionist one. Some people may be tempted to call this socialist or communist, but I think those terms carry a lot of excess baggage, so I won't bring them into the discussion.
      What I think can be safely inferred from his choice of policy is a fundamental principle that could inform economic policy in any Islamic state.
      Facing an external shock to the Egyptian economy, he went for the option that would cause the least pain to the worst off in society. Other policy options would have caused more pain for the poorest but somewhat less for the better off.
       
       
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      By the fig*
      And by the olive
      And by Mount Sinai
      You have certainly created me in the best of stature.
       
                                 *********

      Angels told you: "Don't create Human.It will cause corruption in the world".
      But I had not still been born so how could they prejudge me?!
      Despite the complaints, you were determined and therefore, I was born.
      "Peace be upon me on the day I was born, on the day I die, and on the day I shall be raised alive!"
       
       
      You put me in a very great cradle. It was extremely white and bright and Holy Spirit rocked it with his fingertip. I was filled with delight and embraced by light.
      Angels all came to see me. They were amazed that I was born without parents!
      But you kept silent and then I talked in the cradle. Suddenly, they uttered a loud exclamation of surprise.
      And you, pleased with you work, said:
      "So blessed is Allah, the best of creators".
      How beautiful lovely those days were! Alas, how quickly they went by!
      I had told you about my sad memories in exile; about the day when you banished me from your heavens and I was separated from you.
      I had told you about my battles against my ownself. Everytime I fought myself, the pillars of Satan's palace started shaking. And I could hear its sound and Satan's wrathful shout.
      Ah, what a time it was! I have many things to tell you. For narrating my memories, I need a long time, as long as the history of mankind!
      Footnotes:
      * Fig tree is very strong and resistant. It can grow in nutritionally poor soils and needs little water.
      It has a high tolerance of bad situations. It can tolerate droughts, and grow in dry sunny areas and still remain productive.
      When it recieves enough water, it cools the environment in hot places, creating a fresh and pleasant habitat for many animals that take shelter in its shade in the times of intense heat.

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      در عالم حشر, تابنده رخش
      هر که نکرد گوش, بر اهریمن زشت
      کاخی است بهر او, فاخر, باشکوه
      پرده اش از حریر, وز طلایش خشت
      باغ آن پر گل, فصلش همیشه بهار
      در کنارش هیچ است, ماه اردیبهشت
      ...
      Part 2:
      This was Satan's last trick which didnt work.
      He said disappointedly: do you remember that once I gave you some helpful advice?
      I replied: yes.
      He said: so you owe me a lot! Now, ask God to forgive me!
      Gabriel appeared and told Satan: If you wish God to forgive you, prostrate before Human.
      Satan said: I will never do it. When Human was not my enemy, I didnt agree to prostrate before it. How can I do it now while it is my enemy?!
      Gabriel said: Once, when you lived in heaven, you heard that, in the near future, one of the worshippers would be punished and cast out of heaven.
      At that point, you prayed for everyone but yourself. You were so proud that you didnt think that you yourself could be the worshipper who would be cast out of heaven.
      Satan began crying.
      And I remembered him laughing while I was crying in the court.
      Satan became weaker and weaker until he died among the ruins of his palace.
      Then his corpse, as those of his followers, caught fire and burnt to ashes. And the earth swallowed the ruins of his palace.
      Satan died; on that day when I decided to never sin; on that moment when he became completely disappointed in me.

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      "Indeed Allah taught me and He taught me well"*
      *"ان الله ادبنی فاحسن تادیبی"

      During these thousands of years, God tested me frequently until I got permission to return to Him.
      Now, I am going to fly; but how can I do it without my wings?
      Everytime I committed a sin, I lost one of my feathers. I must find the feathers and restore my wings.
      I found a feather at the foot of the Rocky Mount and another feather in a rivulet, floating in the water. One feather was close to the Mirror of Truth and many feathers were around the Square House.
      I am going to fly towards paradise... Towards paradise?!... No!...Somewhere higher...much higher than paradise!
      Somewhere that even Gabriel cannot go...I need to create two wings stronger than Gabriel's.
      I am going to fly to Qab-e Qawsain...To Qab-e Qawsain and maybe closer**
       
      The final part of my book, "From Earth to Heaven" (Az Khāk ta Aflāk)
      Footnotes:
      * a narration from the prophet (s)
      ** surah Najm: 8. Then he came near, and hovered around. 9. He was within two bows’ length, or closer.
       
      -----------------------------
         0 comments
      In Bait-al Ma'mur, Azazil-later called Iblis-sitting on a white minbar and holding a tasbih in his hands, was preaching for a crowd of angels and other residents of empyrean. He was deeply happy and proud to see that he had such a special superior status and that the angels listened to him with great interest.
      After he finished his sermon, angels started asking him theological questions and he answered with full confidence. One of the angels asked:
      O God's beloved, we have worshipping God the Almighty for hundreds of years but we have not achieved a status as high as yours. Tell us, please, the secret behind your success in rising to this enormous  dignity and supereminence.
      Azazil, pleased to hear such a joyful acknowledgement but unaware of that what he thought and what he uttered would put him in a difficult imminent test, smiled and replied: "My friends! Listen to me carefully: I don't deserve the status I have been granted but let me reveal the secret behind my sucess to you.
      Of course, I am not going to boast but to offer help to those who desire to approach our Lord and make him pleased.
      Pure intentions! Friends! Pure intentions! Your problem is that you dont worship God purely for himself but you do it for the purpose of achieving a higher status. Such insincere worship is worthless and is never of any benefit to you.
      Another important point is to avoid being arrogant for it is a major obstacle to...".
      Azazil was preaching when suddenly he found some of the angels talking and not listening to him.
      He shouted :"What is up?! Why are you making so much noise?!"
      One of the angels said :"Sorry, sir! Our minds have been occupied with the recent news!"
      Azazil asked: "the recent news?!"
      The angel replied: "Yes. The news about a new unique creature which God the Almighty is going to create. It is said that no other creature will be equl to it and that God has special plans for this beloved creature-to-be".

      Azazil, surprised at what he had just heared, was lost in thought for a few moments and then said:
      "What a good wonderful news! Indeed, every decision our Lord takes, is wise and praiseworthy. Now, it is better to go and prepare yourselves for celebrating the birth of this welcome creature".
      As the angels were leaving, the purple beads of tasbih, one by one, slipped from his lap and the stairs and scattered on the ground; the tasbih that had been pressed and torn among the fingers of its angry owner who tried to show himself happy and satisfied.
       
       
      Footnotes:
      1. Bait-al Ma'mur( بیت المعمور) is a place in 4th or 7th heaven. It is a Ka'ba for angels.
      2. Tasbih( تسبیح) is a prayer beads.
      3. Minbar(منبر) is a pulpit.
      4. Azazil: عزازیل

         0 comments
      Left alone in the dark desert of ignorance,
      With wings, one broken by greed the other by arrogance,
      Do you wish for deliverance?
      The gates of the heavens are always open to you,
      You just need two restored wings, strong enough and new.
      O you lost in the complete dark,
      You could be Noah, the owner of the salvation Ark,
      The mountains and the birds will sing praises with you*,
      Just get up and create two wings for yourself, strong enough and new.
       
      *surah34/v.10

      ای رها شده در بیابان ظلمت و تنهایی
      بالی شکسته ز شدت کبر
      بالی شکسته ز فرط آزمندی
      دروازه های آسمان همواره به رویت باز
      برخیز و بالهایت را ز نو بساز
      ای ماه بی پناه افتاده در اعماق چاه
      ای کودک سپرده به امواج رود نیل
      لحظه ای گمگشته در برهوت
      لحظه ای گرفتار در دل حوت
      خسته و بیتاب, نالان و پریشان در پی آب

      کوه ها و پرندگان با تو هم آواز
      برخیز و بالهایت را ز نو بساز



         1 comment
      Summary
      Just because something is not created via the scientific method, does not mean it can't be useful - implications about how we think about religious precepts.
      Serendipity (pot luck)
      I have previously remarked upon how, in some fields of human endeavour where the scientific approach is held to be the ideal, in reality human scientific and technological discoveries has often been the results of luck and even mistakes.
      Social science 'theories'
      There is a corollary in the field of the social sciences which also emphasise the value of the scientific approach to generate knowledge. In this domain the anomalies are various frameworks and models that are widely taught and even used, but which have no basis in rigorous scientific research.
      The famous work by Abraham Maslow on motivation and his resulting 'hierarchy of needs' is very widely studied and used. He posits that human motivation at the fundamental level is driven by physiological needs, and once these are satisfied (he did qualify this in later works) people try and address safety needs and then, social needs and self-esteem and finally self-actualisation. 
      But Maslow did not come up with this through any research that would hold up to scientific scrutiny.
      Does the lack of a scientific approach invalidate a model or framework?
      Yet the Maslow hierarchy is productively used by professionals in a variety of industries, managers, MBA students and others in universities. For example, people use it to understand why consumers buy certain products.
      The same issue applies to Bloom's taxonomy in the field of learning and also Elmo's buying funnel in the area of marketing. The three laws of robotics have their basis in science fiction and in the area of web searching there is no scientific basis for the information-navigational-transactional categories that are used.
      Face validity
      The implication from this is that while ideas and knowledge may ideally be the result of the scientific approach I.e. hypothesising and then testing, there are many instances where this is not the case. In the area of the social sciences and management the value of some types of knowledge seems to rest on their 'face validity', do they make sense to the individuals who are presented with them and can those individuals make better sense of their external environment as a result of using these tools and if they can, that is good enough.
      Implications for religion
      The same principle could surely apply to various aspects of religion. There may be no scientific proof underpinning various religious ideas, but if they have face validity, if they help the individual make sense of their external environment and manage it, surely that is good enough?
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