Tourist & Resident Guide to Iran

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Drug Use In Tehran

Research on Drug Use conducted by AHRN (Asian Harm Reduction Network) from People Using Drugs (PUD) in Iran

* Heroin and opium are the main drugs in Tehran

* Among questioned PUD, Opium in Tehran (n=175) is generally smoked (75%), while 37% have eaten it and 6% mention injecting

* In Tehran, more than 50% of PUD mention opium-based drugs as their drug of initiation

* In Tehran, opiate use (largely heroin and opium) is extremely common among PUD and 71% of the opiate users started their drug career with an opiate. About two thirds are PID (People Injecting Drugs) and almost a quarter of them initiated through injecting (heroin).

Courtesy of and thanks to AHRN (Asian Harm Reduction Network) for permission to publish this research.

HeroinThe Heroin User's Handbook

by Francis Moraes PhD

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Guide To Iran - IranVisitor

Guide to Tehran

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

We Are Iran

We Are IranWe Are Iran
by Nasrin Alavi

Portobello Books Ltd, 336 pp

This new book (published in 2005) by Iran-born and British-educated Nasrin Alavi (a pseudonym), and translated from the original Farsi, presents the views and musings of Iran's estimated 60,000 plus web bloggers. Topics range from the private thoughts of women behind the veil, the media, music and dancing, romance and living with the religious authorities. Blogs have exploded in Iran since 2001 when Hossein Derakhshan, a young Iranian journalist, created what was then Iran's first blog.

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Some Featured Blogs


Reviews of We Are Iran

Tehran Sightseeing Guide

Iran Book Reviews

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Child's Dress Vakil Bazaar Shiraz

Child's Dress, Vakil Bazaar, Shiraz

Photographs of Iran


Hafez: Iran’s Greatest Poet

The 13th century poet, Hafez is enshrined at the site of his former home in Shiraz, Central Iran.

These university students have come to his tomb to pay their respects and read poetry, and also to draw strength from his spirit.

To many, not only is he a literary great, but also a mystic guide. Opening his “Divan”, a collection of his works in a single volume, at a random page is practised as a form of divination somewhat akin to China’s I-Ching.

The name Hafez is a generic appellation used to address those who have memorised the Koran. Hafez the poet was able to recite the entire Koran from memory in all 14 different reading styles. He was devoted to his hometown of Shiraz, inspired as he was by the roses, the birdsong and the wine, and it is said that he never once left.

Hafez is the spiritual godfather of the city of Shiraz and echoes of his voice can still be felt in the the relaxed, philosophical and romantic hearts of its people.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Book: The Spirit of Allah

The Spirit of AllahThe Spirit of Allah

Khomeini and the Islamic Revolution

By Amir Taheri
Part biography and part political history, Amir Taheri’s “The Spirit of Allah” (a direct translation of Khomeini’s given name, “Ruhollah”) is at once a detailed examination of the revolution in Iran and a three-dimensional portrait of the man whose almost gravitational centrality to it made him one of the most important and controversial figures of the late twentieth century. Beginning with his ancestry and birth and continuing to within months of his death in 1989, the book documents Khomeini’s early struggles to establish himself as a religious teacher and his life in exile and growing influence over Iranian politics from abroad, culminating with his return to Iran and the first troubled years of the Islamic Republic.
Insights into the early life and private world of the self-proclaimed Imam paint a three dimensional picture of a religious leader who himself saw little more than black and white. Apart from a sensitivity to poetry, two of his own works being reprinted as an appendix, the bleakness of the Ayatollah’s personal life and the volcanic anger he directed against a world he saw as corrupted fed his single-minded ambition to oust the Shah. His intolerance of politicians and ignorance of economics were to be great strengths in justifying his uncompromising pursuit of this goal.
For Khomeini, establishment of the Kingdom of God on Earth was to be the aim and the responsibility of the sanctified institution of the Mullahs, in particular, those who, like him, could claim a direct line of descent from the Prophet Mohammed himself. Obedience to the law of Islam, as interpreted by his pessimistic pietism, was to be imposed from above since it was essential that the spark of the Devil, which he believed to reside in all men, be tamed.
We find in Khomeini one who was not power hungry but yet refused to allow the momentum of the multifaceted revolutionary movement to be directed by any ideology other than the radical morality that he advocated. This grim, single-minded determination was to justify acts ranging from the telling of knowing half-truths to divert his enemies to the execution of young girls.
As the emphasis of the work moves from personal history to the momentous events of the mid-1970s, Taheri documents the social, political and economic factors that were undermining the Shah’s hold on power while never losing sight of the pivotal importance of Khomeini himself. Taheri, a newspaper editor and journalist has brought together innumerable sources including speeches and documents written by Khomeini himself and numerous newspaper articles, eyewitness accounts and personal interviews to add minute detail and depth to a story which, twenty-five years on, is rapidly being distorted by discontent within Iran and ideology outside it.

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Iran Book Reviews

Books on Islam


We are currently well into the holy month of Ramadan or Ramezan as it is known in Iran. During this month it is forbidden to eat during the daylight hours and charitable donations must be made in the place of meals that would have been eaten. It is common for people to wake before dawn to eat sahar but the more devout will eat only once a day at eftar after the sun goes down.

Unlike fasts for health such as those popular in the Ayurvedic tradition, fasting Moslems are not able to drink water. Other ways in which one’s fast is broken include receiving an intravenous drip, submerging oneself in water and smelling particularly strong odours.

Many Iranians consider Ramezan as a chance to lose weight but the large compensatory meals eaten after sundown often put paid to that. During this month, eating and drinking in public places is forbidden though clandestine meals behind closed doors, at less conservatively-minded workplaces for example, are commonly eaten.

Ramadan in Qatar

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Mosque under construction Tehran

See an image of a mosque under construction in the Iranian capital, Tehran.

Mosque under construction Tehran, Iran

The Tehran Taxi Pool

Tehran Taxi PoolWith car pools now being hailed as the answer to urban traffic problems the world over some credit must be given to Iran's already long-established system of taxi-sharing.

The key difference between a private cab and a shared taxi is that complete strangers who happen to be going the same way will jump in with you. Drivers position themselves at bus stops and other major junctions and either call out a destination of their own choosing or be open to suggestions from a largely fixed set of popular nearby locations. Some travelers simply choose a strategic point on a main road and call out to passing cars – chances are one or more of them will be a shared cab.

It might be that you have to take more than one shared cab and walk a little to reach your destination but, at a fraction of the cost of a private cab, the shared taxi is a cost effective and efficient mode of transport between Tehran's major centres and a lesson waiting to be learned by the West.

Guide to Tehran

Blood On The Tracks in Tehran

To mark the purchase of a new Toyota Camry, this poor creature had its blood spilled in a private car park in Qazvin.

Having slit its throat with practiced ease the slaughterer dipped his hands in the blood and daubed all four of the car’s tyres while uttering blessings.

However gruesome this may seem, the death of this lamb was not in vain.

Meat from the animal was to be given to the local poor as part of the celebrations for the birthday of the 12th Shiite Imam – the Imam Mahdi, set to return to the world when he is most needed.