With the victory of the Islamic Revolution in 1979, Iranian women, who had enthusiastically rallied to the banner of freedom hoisted by Imam Khomeini (may God bless his soul), opened a new chapter of progress. Having rediscovered their dignity and the freedom of the hijab, they whole-heartedly involved themselves in all spheres of the society, including writing of articles and books, journalism, and illustrating vivid accounts of the struggles against the Shah, as well as the memories of combatants of the war the US had imposed on the nascent Islamic Republic through its agent Saddam.
During the 8-year Holy Defence, Iranian Muslim women had been active behind the frontlines of the imposed war, as nurses and doctors. During the reconstruction phase, they took up pens to pen down accounts of the epics, thereby opening a new chapter of resistant literature. They thus provided to posterity glimpses of the various aspects of the war, from the cultural and social points of view. Let us introduce to you some of these valiant women, who have left indelible impressions of resistance.
Mrs. Mahboubeh Me’rajipour is a writer, painter and political science researcher. She has written many valuable books on different topics including historical narrations and the Holy Defence. A few years ago she visited southwestern Iran and the former war zones. The visit had such a great impact upon her that she says: A new chapter was opened in my life and since then I have lived with the consequences of war and the affected people in my books. I decided to record the narratives of those who had dedicated their time and life to the Holy Defence. One of Merajipour’s books is titled “Chapkhaneh” or Printing House which is related to the years of the Holy Defence. In this book she points to the prominent role of women during the epics of resistance against the Ba’thist enemy. The book is on the efforts of a group of women who with the help of the mother of a martyr turn an old printing house in Ahwaz into a base of support for the combatants. The readers are spellbound by these narratives.
Mrs. Raziyeh Tojjar, who is deputy manager of the “Iran Pen Association”, is a prominent author of accounts of the Holy Defence. She has written many in this field such as “Haft Band”, “The Flame and The Night”, “The Empty Place of Sunflowers”, “Do Not Assume that the Flame will die out”, and “From Earth to Heaven”. In her books “Haft Band”, and “The Empty Place of Sunflowers”, Tojjar has focused on the God-oriented personality of mothers of martyrs and wives of martyrs, who are always waiting and are happy with the lovely relationships they had developed with their loved ones. These women are often narrators who express their dreams and memories.
Mrs. Ma’soumeh Sepehri is another female writer of the accounts of the Holy Defence. Her book titled “The Blessed Division” focuses on memories of a 16 year old named Mahdi-Qoli Rezaei who voluntarily goes to the battlefront and virtually grows up on the frontlines with lots of experiences. In this book, Sepehri becomes so close to the front and the Holy Defence that like an active combatant, she illustrates the war atmosphere and the scenes of martyrdom of Iranian combatants, thereby taking the minds of the readers to the battle zones. The book starts with Mahdi-Qoli Rezaei’s volunteering to go to the battle without informing many of his dear and near ones. Mahdi-Qoli who has been seriously injured in the war refers to over four hundred of the Iranian Muslim combatants, many of whom have achieved martyrdom. In part of the book “Blessed Division”, she focuses on one of the injuries suffered by Mahdi-Qoli Rezaei, who narrates: “The leisure time was spent in Helali Qamish region on the western borders of Iran at the tactical headquarters. In winter, we would at time play with snowballs during the days of lull on the battlefield. One day, the noise of our playing colleagues dragged all of uf out of our bunkers. I too with my overcoat on my shoulder was watching the game, but suddenly something hit my chest. I put my hand on my chest and shouted: why did you hit me so hard? The game stopped and all denied throwing snowballs at me, while I writhed with pain in my chest. Suddenly I felt blood in the hand with which I was clutching my chest. All surrounded me and had no clue what had hit me, when there was no fighting going on. They realized that I had been struck by a stray bullet that had pierced my chest after tearing through my pocket.
The Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei, who is an avid readers and a keen observer, has hailed the book “Blessed Division” as full of the untold glories of the combatants.
Dr. Ma’soumeh Abbad is a lady with personal experiences of the Holy Defence and sufferings and tortures to which Iranian POWs were subjected by the Ba’thist aggressors. As a 17-year old, she volunteered to go to the war zone to serve as a paramedic. She treated the wounded combatants at the field hospital, and one day, along with three other young women serving as relief aid workers she was taken captive by the Ba’thist aggressors. For four years she languished in the worst conditions in the prison camps of Abu Ghraib and Mosul. On release and return home to Iran, this dynamic lady wrote an interesting book of her sufferings, titled “I am Alive”. She presents eyewitness accounts of her sufferings and that of her three colleagues. She writes:
“Once every 6 months our cruel captors allowed us the luxury of sunshine and open air, and that too for a mere 15 to 20 minutes, before we were pushed back into the dungeons. These brief moments of sun and fresh air were indeed our best memories. We tried by creating noise to make the other Iranian captives realize that we too as the representatives of Iranian women are suffering imprisonment and have not let them alone.
Among the other female writers with experience at the battlefronts as a paramedic during the Holy Defence is Shamsi Sobhani from Chandala village of Mazandaran Province, which is far away from the frontlines of the imposed war. On the outbreak of the war, she volunteered to serve behind the frontlines, of which she has vivid memories. Sobhani has penned down her experiences in her book titled “From Chandala to War”. For six years till early 1986 she treated the injured in the southern war zones. This book is a good example of accounts of the Holy Defence by women writers, and makes us familiar with their spirit of self-sacrifice. In part of her book, Sobhani writes:
“They brought a 24 year old injured boy. His face was all burnt and he could hardly close or open his gaping mouth. There were traces of barbed wires on his body. After we washed up his head and face, he raised his head and said: “May God bless you. I was about to die. When I fell on the barbed wires, others thought that I was martyred.”
This is all proof of the indomitable spirit of resistance of Iranian women with experiences of the unwanted war. Their message to the world and to the international circles is proof of the fact that although Iranians hate war and violence, they will not keep silent if any aggressor were to invade Iran.