So last night, we were watching one of our favorite shows, which I shall shamelessly endorse: “Don’t Tell My Mother.” Diego travels to parts of the world that you wouldn’t normally visit (North Korea, Afghanistan, Siberia, Palestine…) and shows what life is really like there – not the touristy, showy side, but the real, nitty-gritty living in these places. It’s fascinating to see places that normally you don’t get images from. Last night, he went to Iran.
I was shocked by quite a few things he showed happening in Iran – things I would never have imagined, to be honest! I also had to keep pausing the show to “inform” my husband – “This ties back to the Esther study I did with Beth Moore!!” There were two things in particular I wanted to share that he showed:
1 – Instead of “American Idol” they have the “Qur’an Idol.” Thirty different Muslim nations compete. There were 1700 people in the room watching the competition (divided by men and women, of course). The judges were in a separate room. It was deathly quiet – no applause, no cheering, no noise. The competitors were given a single line from the Qur’an and then they had to complete the passage from memory. Of course, they do not merely recite – it’s all the “singing” that they do. The judges are looking at pronunciation, inflection, the actual memorization, and many other qualifications. The only breaks taken were for prayer. The competitors are revered and idolized – they feel they have many expectations to live up to. The Iranian competitor won first place and received 40 gold coins (equivalent of about $8000).
2 — There is a rather large Jewish contingency living in Iran! There are at least 20 large synagogues in Tehran, the capital. Would you have thought of that?? I wouldn’t have…until I remembered the Bible study on Esther! History lesson in case you’re lost: The Israelites (the Jews) were punished by God during the time of Daniel and carted off to what is now Iraq/Iran as prisoners. But then, 400 years later, they were allowed to return to Israel. They were encouraged to return! They were to rebuild Jerusalem and start again. Their promised land was waiting for them once again. However, many of them had kind of gotten used to life where they were. It was easy, there was no rebuilding, they were settled – why would they want to leave? The Jews that stayed behind included Mordecai and (Queen) Esther. They were not devout, pious Jews. They had really assimilated into the culture.
Fast-forward to today: That remnant is still in Iran. They are Persian Jews and see no need to return to Israel. They are not particularly pious – they showed some of them selling vodka and pornography and saying, “We could never live like this in Israel!” They like living in Iran because it’s, believe it or not, easy for them! There’s not a lot of persecution, they’re left relatively alone, and they can live however they want. What’s even more interesting – they’re represented in Parliament and they actually interviewed the Jewish representative and he is opposed to Israel! He is all for Iran attacking Israel – feels they even deserve it.
All of this stems back to that small remnant hundreds of years ago that refused to return to Israel when given the all-clear. They refused to return to the land that God had promised them.