Azar Nafisi: How has your relationship to Islam changed?

Azar Nafisi: You know for me religion was not something that I had . . . I mean my preoccupations were different. My obsessions were literature. Religion’s obsessions have been imposed on me because of the situation. When I was younger the Islam that I was offered was a very gentle and liberal version. Both my parents were Muslims. My mother went to the pilgrimage in Mecca, but she never wore the veil. She was a very modern woman. My father would tell me that the most important thing in Islam is that do unto others as you do . . . have them do unto you. Serving the people is . . . That is how . . . And my grandmother on my father’s side . . . My grandmother on my mother’s side died very young. I never saw her. But on . . . My paternal grandmother who always wore the veil, she was a very orthodox woman. She was the gentlest of all women. She never told me because I wore a bikini and went swimming I was not a Muslim; or I was dirty; or I was, you know . . . So I was brought up with a very tolerant view of religion. It was after the . . . And then I turned into a Marxist, which was as bad as . . . Not being a Marxist or a variance of Marxism, but I turned into a Stalinist mainly, which is as bad as being a fundamentalist for a while. Although I don’t think I was as bad. I had . . . I was constantly being called bourgeois by my other .... So it was the revolution that brought up for me the question. And I feel that what is happening in my country in many ways is interesting, because many of the ...Islamists like ...or many of the dissidents we have now; at the beginning of the revolution they were so fundamentalists. And now they’re quoting ... and ... And I think there is a movement going on within Iran that because it was the first theocracy in 20th century, I think it’s also bringing out the reform to reform; to bring religion up to date. Within the clerics, people like ...; and within the militant Islamic . . . you know the younger people . . . And I think that that is what should happen – that there should be the change. We need to be self-critical and interrogate ourselves rather than constantly interrogate the world. Recorded on: 2/22/08

Nafisi's passion was always literature. Religion was an externally imposed reality.

LinkedIn meets Tinder in this mindful networking app

Swipe right to make the connections that could change your career.

Getty Images
Sponsored
Swipe right. Match. Meet over coffee or set up a call.

No, we aren't talking about Tinder. Introducing Shapr, a free app that helps people with synergistic professional goals and skill sets easily meet and collaborate.

Keep reading Show less

Space toilets: How astronauts boldly go where few have gone before

A NASA astronomer explains how astronauts dispose of their, uh, dark matter.

Videos
  • When nature calls in micro-gravity, astronauts must answer. Space agencies have developed suction-based toilets – with a camera built in to ensure all the waste is contained before "flushing".
  • Yes, there have been floaters in space. The early days of space exploration were a learning curve!
  • Amazingly, you don't need gravity to digest food. Peristalsis, the process by which your throat and intestines squeeze themselves, actually moves food and water through your digestive system without gravity at all.
Keep reading Show less

A world map of Virgin Mary apparitions

She met mere mortals with and without the Vatican's approval.

Strange Maps
  • For centuries, the Virgin Mary has appeared to the faithful, requesting devotion and promising comfort.
  • These maps show the geography of Marian apparitions – the handful approved by the Vatican, and many others.
  • Historically, Europe is where most apparitions have been reported, but the U.S. is pretty fertile ground too.
Keep reading Show less

Can the keto diet help treat depression? Here’s what the science says so far

A growing body of research shows promising signs that the keto diet might be able to improve mental health.

Photo: Public Domain
Mind & Brain
  • The keto diet is known to be an effective tool for weight loss, however its effects on mental health remain largely unclear.
  • Recent studies suggests that the keto diet might be an effective tool for treating depression, and clearing up so-called "brain fog," though scientists caution more research is necessary before it can be recommended as a treatment.
  • Any experiments with the keto diet are best done in conjunction with a doctor, considering some people face problems when transitioning to the low-carb diet.
Keep reading Show less