The Iranian citizens in “Your Voice” talk about the discrimination against religious minorities that they have witnessed. They provide short stories about the suffering of millions, who have become “simple incidents” in Iran.
This is a story of Niloofar and three other 8-10 year old Zoroastrians girls, 30 years ago in the city of Yazd, who were told that they were “impure” and could not swim at the public swimming pool again.
Cleanness and Cleanliness have always been the most important principles for our family, since our Iranian ancestors have frequently underlined the importance of avoiding contamination of water, soil, air and fire; I learned many things from my family about cleanliness and dirtiness in my childhood. But I had never heard the word “Najis”, a word that means ritually impure, before middle school. I did not know how any person or citizen could be or become Najis until I found out when one day we were told that Zoroastrians were not allowed to enter the swimming pool anymore. At that time, we were too young to understand why we were Najis and should not swim in the pool like other children. We were just four 8-10 year old Zoroastrian girls who wanted to have some fun together once or twice a week, and enjoy playing in the swimming pool on hot summer days.
We always used to speak in Zoroastrian Dari and wander in a cloak. This caused curious people’s attention in the pool, and consequently we were no longer allowed to enter the pool. We were Najis because of being Zoroastrians. The next week, our families were informed that “your children are not allowed to use the pool.” I later found out that our parents had struggled hard to figure out what the problem was.
In this regard, they referred to a letter in which a college student had asked the Supreme Leader if there was any problem eating with religious minorities. The answer was that the religious minorities are not Najis in that case.
By referring to this letter and according to the fact that we Zoroastrians are also Iranian citizens, they met the representative of the Supreme Leader and the Friday Prayer Imam of Yazd to complain about this. But it was of no use as it was said that each city has an independent Sharia Ruler who has absolute authority over his own district.
Then our families wrote a letter referring to a Hadith, which said that if a Najis’ object falls in Kurr Water, i.e. the Water which fills a container whose length, breadth and depth are three and half spans each, the Water will not become Najis and make the najis object Clean as well. By virtue of this Hadith, they once again complained to the representative of the Supreme Leader in Yazd, mentioning that even if we are Najis, the pool water is more than a Kurr; we will therefore not make it Najis.
But the issue did not end here, our families were called for an answer a few days later. They were shocked when they heard the opinion that we make the pool hall and the floor Najis.
The Supreme Leader’s Representative Office confirmed the correctness of the Hadith about Kurr Water, and declared that the Water is not Najis as long as we stay in the pool, but after we leave the pool, the floor will become Najis. Thus, we realized when we are walking to the locker room, the drops of water falling from our body will make the floor and the locker room Najis.
In accordance with this religious belief, we had no choice but to accept that which we could not change, because we apparently made not the pool water but the surroundings Najis! We Zoroastrians, who once built Iran with Cleanliness, are now not entitled to enjoy the legal rights and privileges granted by the state to the people, because we have become a religious minority and not considered first-class citizens.