A picture speaks a thousand words…

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(picture is by Rania Matar, picture taken from her website)

(picture is by Rania Matar, picture taken from her website)

I had stopped into my Universities bookstore yesterday to find a decent book on Gulf Arabic and although I could find no such book (amazon, here I come…) I stopped by their Journal sections and I saw that picture, the one above…gracing the cover of this months issue of the literary magazine Postroad (no. 17). I stopped in my tracks and said, cool…an Irani women in chador with an iPod!

Now, I am not a huge fan of fiction in general and have never really read a literary magazine but the picture was sooo beautiful, mashallah, that I picked it up and tried to find the article attached to it. Well, on page 33 was a very short 1 page blurb about the hejab called “Why Veiling” written by  Sheila Blaire and Jonathan Bloom about the hejab…I scanned it and didn’t really see anything too interesting. That blurb prefaced a series of photos in the book taken by the Lebanese born, US-based photographer, Rania Matar. The pictures were all taken in Lebanon and show Lebanese women (probably Shia’a) wearing their hejabs in a variety of locations, by the Ocean, at the University in Beirut, etc.

I ended up purchasing the magazine, I then went onto her website and found the PDF of the photos and the short blurb about hejab used for the book.

Anyway, I’m really impressed by her photographs. There are many many more on her webpage.  Although most of her photos were taken in Lebanon and focus on Lebanese women & children there are some series she did here in the USA and also, I believe in Mexico as well. She is definetly talented!

But to get back to the girl on the cover, I really thought she was Iranian wearing a Chador, when I went through the other photos she took in Lebanon I was surprised at just how much Lebanese shia’a women dress like Iranian women! They don’t wear the Iranian chador, but many seem to like the overhead abayaah which in Iran is called the “chador-ye melli”…the overhead abayah with sleeves. They also wear their hejabs in a very Iranian style, covering their chin and their over garments are similar to the longer Iranian manteau!

Take a look at this picture below, mashallah…She really looks like a pasdar in Tehran… She would fit in perfectly in an Iranian city. This style of hejab is actually my favorite and what I wear when I am in Iran, in the US I go sans overhead abayah though.

(picture taken by Rania Matar, from her website)

(picture taken by Rania Matar, from her website)

Here are some other pictures which I really, really liked. mashallah!

(Picture taken by Rania Matar, from her website)

(Picture taken by Rania Matar, from her website)

(Picture taken by Rania Matar, from her website)

(Picture taken by Rania Matar, from her website)

(Picture taken by Rania Matar, from her website)

(Picture taken by Rania Matar, from her website)

I’m so glad I stumbled upon these photographs because I really had no idea how much Iranian “hejab-eslami” impacts the way that Lebanese shia’a women and plus, to be frank…the one Lebanese girl I know who IS Shia’a definitely does NOT dress like this, so yeah. I had no idea.

Mashallah!

Now, if you want to do some reading, check out this article from a Turkish online magazine. The first half is in Turkish the second half is in English…

…”Lebanon at the Crossroad: Women and Children in the Aftermath of War

The focus of my photography is on the Middle East, on women and children especially.  Lebanon in particular is interesting to me because of its key location between the West and the Arab world, witnessing a blend of Western and Arab cultures, of Christianity and Islam, of Sunni and Shiite Islam, of modernity and traditionalism.  With the Middle East largely in turmoil, Lebanon bears the brunt of unresolved issues in the region, issues that become magnified in such a small country….”