My children have asked me this question many times in the past two years. I tell them simply, “to be able to say my name is Iran.” I have been carrying this burden for almost three decades. I dropped my first name when I came to Brookline High School in 1980. The American hostages were still being held captive in Tehran and “Bomb Iran” was a common remark. For too long, the tumultuous events surrounding Iran have made me shy away from my full identity. But today, I have worked through my fears and replaced them with love. I won’t be confined by any one ideology. I am a product of my past—American and Iranian. I am proud to say “I am Iran”. Here are some other reasons why I wrote the book:
My parents had two passions: Architecture and Sufism (the mystical dimension of Islam). Together in 1973 they wrote a book called, The Sense of Unity: The Sufi Tradition in Persian Architecture. As they researched their book, we traveled throughout Iran as a family. At the same time, my father’s career as an architect was blossoming. He was a major speaker at the 1970 First International Conference of Architects and met and became friends with legendary architects such like Louis I. Kahn, Kenzo Tange and Buckminister Fuller. My mother was equally inspiring. In 1976, she wrote SUFI Expressions of the Mystic Quest. As such, I had a magical childhood in pre-revolutionary Iran. Here are some of our travels throughout Iran.
I first learned about Shirin Ebadi in 1997. My colleague Jacki Lyden was in Tehran working on a story about the upcoming Presidential elections. This was the election that brought in Mohammad Khatami and six years before Ebadi would be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Jacki interviewed Shirin Ebadi in her law offices. I want to share parts of this interview that never aired on NPR.