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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

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      Taken from IRS
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      Taken from Imam Rassi society
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    • By starlight in Light Beams
         7
      I will start by giving a very simplified functional subdivision of the human Central Nervous System. Based on function, human brain can be divided into three areas
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      Higher mental functions are almost always voluntary.
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       Animals are incapable of differentiating between haram and halal. That’s why Allah(سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى) didn’t make it obligatory on them to respect these boundaries.  It is the cerebral cortex and its associated areas which give the humans the capability learn this and differentiate between the two in various life situations. But if the humans choose not to utilize the cerebral cortex for this purpose and let their limbic system(emotions) take over, they lose the differentiation and in those instances they are acting like animals. This can easily be observed in the most primal of behaviours like consuming food and copulating and also in advanced actions like earning rizq through unlawful means. Animals cannot be taught moral and ethics. If your pet dog steals a piece of meat you can arouse feelings of fear and punishment in it but you cannot teach him why stealing is wrong. This is again due to the absence of the cerebral cortex that humans possess and probably this is the reason why animals won’t get punished for misconducts in the akhirah like humans.  Animals cannot differentiate between tahara and nijasat. Again this is something which is a function of cerebral cortex. Physical purity is something which is very crucial in Islamic faith. The principles of mahram/namehram can only be comprehended by humans. Looking at the above we can see how intellect elevates humans from the level of animals to vicegerents of Allah. Maybe this is why most of things that are counted as sins in islam are in principle limbic system(emotions) overriding the cortex(intellect)
      Anger- limbic system taking charge, Zina and haram lust – limbic system taking over humans, Consuming haram food and even stuffing yourself with halal food- limbic system satiety centre gone out of control, Curiosity-  Even though the mechanism behind curiosity isn’t very well understood because it is difficult to differentiate curiosity from information seeking but what research has discovered so far is that a part of the limbic cortex is involved in both regulation and reward that is associated with curiosity(1). In Surah Hujraat (49:12) Allah forbids us from spying and ‘Tajassus’ but if limbic system is not controlled the person could be snooping around other people’s affairs, just like an animal would sniff and examine any object in vicinity. Gambling – During gambling intellectual areas of the brain like prefrontal cortex show less activity than limbic areas depicting a link between gambling and limbic system(2) What’s interesting is that in an animal study conducted on gambling ,some species of animal demonstrated the same choices and psychological behavior as pathological gamblers. So, when Allah(سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى) made gambling haram it was probably to not let humans reduce themselves to animals. Drinking –Alcohol impairs functioning on the prefrontal cortex, disrupts normal pattern of neuronal activity required for decision making and thinking and hence leads to limbic system taking over. This is manifested a as lack of inhibition in people commonly observed in people who has ingested alcohol.(3) If we look at Jihad bil nafs in medical terms it’s just a battle between limbic system and cerebral cortex.
      Looking at the lives of Ahlulbayt (عليه السلام) we won’t find any instance where we see limbic system ruling over them. There is a famous incident where in the battle of Khandaq, where Imam Ali(عليه السلام) was on Amr bin abde Wud’s chest and about to kill him but then he abused Imam Ali(عليه السلام). At this Imam Ali (عليه السلام) moved from Amr’s chest and walked away. After the battle was over people asked Imam Ali(عليه السلام) the reason why he had spared Amr’s life when he had overpowered him. At this he replied,” When I had floored him, he abused me, as a result of which I was overcome by rage. I feared that if I were to kill him in that state of anger, it would be for pacifying my anger. So I stepped away from him till my fury subsided.Then I returned to sever his head from his body only for the happiness of Allah and in obedience to Him.” (Manaqib Al Abi Talib by Ibn Shahrashub)
      In Sahifa e Sajjadiya, Imam Sajjad (عليه السلام) has described three types of worshippers
              i.  Those who worship Allah because of fear of hell
             ii. Those who worship Allah to get to Jannah
            iii. Those who worship Allah because they find Allah worthy of worship.
      He(عليه السلام) says the third is the highest form of worship. Why? Because the first two are worship of punishment and reward (limbic system worships) while the third is the worship of intellect (Prefrontal cortex). 
      So if we learn to control our limbic systems through reflection and worship gradually, we gain power over our nafs and then no amount of worldly temptation and desires can then take us away from out true purpose, that is submission to Allah(سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى).
      (1) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4635443/
      (2) https://neuroanthropology.net/2009/05/23/gambling-and-compulsion-play-at-your-own-risk/#:~:text=For gamblers%2C the gambling references,high” from an emotional response.
      https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3593065/
    • By Muntazir e Mahdi in Bayaan e Muntazir
         1
      سیاہ پوش، سفید عمل، سپاہِ الٰہی
      مقامِ حق، تو سودا دنیاوی تنہائی
       
      گریہِ شاہ پیشِ نظرِ اُلٹ، مگر حملہ
      تو حاضر شاہِ فردوس اور استقبالِ غازی
       
      آنسو و لہو باہم عطا سرِ مصلّیٰ
      اطمینان تآ اختتام، کہ راہ ہے نورانی
       
      ظالم کی صدا صرف پھونک، نہ سدا
      شرط کہ وقت بعدِ ایامِ کمائی
       
      واسطہِ عظیم، مصروفِ سجدہِ دعا
      حاجتِ منتظر ہو قبول یا الٰہی 
    • By Haji 2003 in Contemporania
         0
      This is a comment often made by the apologists for European slavers.
      Their defence is that the Europeans simply entered into a pre-existing tradition of slaving that existed in Africa and indeed all they did was provide an outlet for people who had already been taken into slavery by their fellow Africans.
      I won't go into the obvious rebuttal that providing a demand for something is obviously going to increase its supply. The latter is the logic for making various goods illegal in consuming countries - so as to dry up the supply.
      My interest is with another issue. 
      If slavery were so prevalent in Africa and the Middle East and after all you'd expect a larger number of slaves in those countries compared to North America, given their geographic proximity, why don't those countries have the same level of social and ethnic unrest as the United States does?
      Or indeed if there was even institutional racism in Muslim countries, you'd expect to see the riots that flare up in the banlieues of Paris?
      Surely we should have an underclass based on race in countries such as Libya, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and so on?
      My assessment is that there was a distinct difference in the nature of slavery as practiced in Africa/Arabia and what was undertaken in the western Hemisphere. In the former countries slaves would be members of a household. They lived worked and worshipped with their masters. In the Western Hemisphere the owners were typically enjoying the proceeds of slavery in countries many thousands of miles away. The slaves were simply machines for industrial production in a pre-industrial era. They were disenfranchised and dehumanised. The basis for this was the ideology of their masters which held that they were inferior.
       

      As I have previously said, it's difficult to assess historical morality from a modern lens, given that we do not really have much idea about the, social, economic, demographic and other factors that were relevant at the time.
      Here's one attempt to add some flesh to that point, sorry no URL. I'll see if I can add more in due course. The quotations that follow, come from the following article and I've tried to keep them short to protect copyright.
      Shatzmiller, M Economic Performance and Economic Growth in the Early Islamic World Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient 54 (2011) 132-18
      The impact of plagues was not helped by what I presume was an increased control over reproduction, by women in Muslim countries:
      p.150
      Now we come to the issue of the supply of slaves. Here's one explanation:
      p154
      She adds:
      p.154
       
      OK here's another one. It's a review of the following book: 
      Islam and the Abolition of Slavery. By WILLIAM GERVASE CLARENCE-SMITH. London : Hurst & Company, 2006. Pp. xxvi+293. £26.40 (ISBN 1-85065-708-4). 
      The review is written by Ehud Toledano of Tel Aviv university and was published here: Journal of African History, 48 (2007), pp. 481–5.

      My own strong impression, however, is that a huge and frustrating disconnection exists between serious scholarship and the stuff we see on the Internet ...
       
      1. If Muslim countries historically faced population devastation due to plague and women not having enough kids AND there was also a possible supply of slaves e.g. European countries wanting to buy Muslim products but having nothing to sell them except people - then buying slaves would seem to me to be a legitimate exercise. Couple that with the idea that in Islamic law, manumission (freeing of slaves) was an important element of slavery, then that makes the deal better still. 
      2. But the reality of slavery was that Muslims would often not follow Islamic laws (as in your Khaleej example) and often cultural and other non-Islamic beliefs would drive their behaviour. For example, in Africa, Muslim slaveowners would prefer that their slaves DID NOT become Muslims because of the rights that this would give them. I don't think you can blame the religion for the non-observance of believers.

      Some people may find this text to be useful, if you are too impatient to read it all, the summary is one page long and is on page xxiii. For the really time poor here's a snippet:

      http://books.google....slavery&f=false
      It's a book called, 'The structure of slavery in India, Africa and Asia', it was published in 2004 and although Google restricts how many pages you can see for free, there's more than enough to inform anyone who is interested.
      My take away from what I have read so far and which also reinforce my pre-existing opinions, is that:
      definitions of slavery vary,
      practice of slavery varies between different Islamic schools;
      Muslims often practice slavery NOT in accordance with sharia;
      slavery was at certain times considered preferable to other forms of control e.g. corvee
      one of the reasons for Islamic trade in slaves was the high levels of manumission, which enabled slaves to be freed, and also the relative lack of racial prejudice in Muslim societies which allowed slaves to integrate into society
      But most importantly of all it explicitly reinforces the idea that I have been presenting in all these slavery discussions on Shiachat that if your image of slavery is based Kunta Kinte, you're basically starting off on the wrong premise.
      To have a rational discussion referring to facts can be helpful. From the book I referred to earlier in the thread (emphasis my own):
      "During catastrophes people often entered slavery either voluntarily or propelled by their kin group as a survival strategy p. xxiv...the British in 19th century India even described types of slavery as a form of poor relief" pxxii.
      Perhaps the Muslims on this board who question how Imams ((عليه السلام).) could have held slaves, may reflect on that answer given by non-Muslims?
      To have a rational discussion you also need to be clear about the terms you use and what they mean, as I have repeatedly shown, this can be problematic, as this quotation underlies:
      "In sum, conventional western notions of 'slave' and 'free' are not particularly helpful tools of historical analysis in most of the IOW" p. xxvi
       
      If I think back to the earliest debates on SC that I took part in, on slavery, I could see the hypothetical benefits. My posts are in the archives.
      For this thread I did some digging around amongst academic studies undertaken by Westerners and found evidence backing up my hunch. So there's the quotation I found and posted earlier in this thread that the British colonial rulers who encountered one form of slavery in India considered it to be a form of social welfare.
      These threads go in circles.
      My original hunch and based on actually reading the Islamic materials posted by others and the historical material I have found, my conclusion is that slavery (like any other contract) can be done fairly and it can be done badly. All the critics ever do is give examples of the most abusive kinds of slavery. Similarly it would be easy to find examples of exploitative employment - does that mean anyone who has ever held a job in Human Resources will automatically go to hell?
       
      Another little snippet, to show that some people may not really know the concept that they think they are talking about, this is from one study dealing with a Muslim country:
      Polly Hill. From Slavery to Freedom: The Case of Farm-Slavery in Nigerian Hausaland, Comparative Studies in Society and History, Vol. 18, No. 3 (Jul., 1976), pp. 395-426
      Anyone at university should be able to get the above free, or you'll have to pay US$30, here:
      http://journals.cambridge.org/action/displayAbstract?fromPage=online&aid=4409608
      BTW Polly Hill is an interesting academic in her own right, here is her obituary:
      http://www.guardian....highereducation
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