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ZanAmu 1999: Foreign Wives of Iranians - Issues & Experiences of 1999
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ZanAmu: Foreign Wifes of Iranians - Issues & Experiences

Taking the Best and Booting the Rest

The Iranian culture is rich in history, replete with beautiful customs, stories, and arts and a glorious heritage our children may all be proud of. The American culture, while rather young in comparison, offers a diversity, joi de vive and light of hope which energizes and challenges its citizens in the spirit of invention.

We, as parents, have the unique opportunity of picking and choosing the best from both cultures and incorporating them into the traditions of our own familiy units. We can reap from the macro-societies which are Iran and America and utilize these bountiful harvests in the micro sphere of our own homes. I have found the most successful Iranian-American families, are those who have blended the attentions and generosity of the Iranian family with the independence and perseverence of the American family. I have found the husbands,wives and children of Iranian -American families who have met the challenge of holding both languages (Farsi and English) dear, able to cross a bridge which oft times seems uncrossable without the language links to culture.

I have found an acceptance of families by both sides to be of paramount importance in establishing the family as a whole. No one has to agree or relinquish all of their own beliefs to satisfy another. All of us MUST compromise and respect the beliefs of each other to be whole and healthy. If there are individuals among the group who make a harmonious family life impossible, they must be worked around. What is important is to always accept the spirit of compromise and look for the good.

Please give us your thoughts and experiences which have enabled or prevented you from being a whole and healthy Iranian-American family. Maybe, we can learn from each others victories and defeats.
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Need Muslim marriage certificate to travel to Iran!!??


MY husband and I would like to visit or possibly move to Iran next year, but on one of the applications, he says that they require a Muslim marriage certificate. We have been married for at least 5 years now in the U.S. and we have three children together. We did not have a Muslim wedding, thus no Muslim marriage certificate. Does this mean that my husband and I have to remarry only this time a Muslim marriage? And what about our children? Are they considered legitimate in the eyes of Iran? I am worried that our application for permission to visit Iran will be affected or denied. Will the children be considered legitimate, if we do have a Muslim wedding even though it is after they are born? Is there any place online that anyone knows of that has any information on this? I have searched with no results. I can find no information on a necessary Muslim marriage certificate. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thank you. (Send me Email)

I'm a 27 year old Dutch female who is about to marry an Iranian man this month!

I'm a 27 year old Dutch female who is about to get married to an Iranian man this month! We met three and a half years ago at the university, in a class where initially we were the only two students and it was love at first sight! After the first couple of weeks we discovered however that we did not only have a lot in common but had a lot of differences as well. I have to admit that I did not expect him to be so very different since he had been living in the Netherlands for quite a few years, spoke dutch very well and was living a student life similar to mine.

Especially on man-woman issues and family matters however we did not share the same views at all. And still we're getting married by the end of this month! How's this possible?

We "simply" did our very best to understand each other and learn from each other. And compromising is in fact the key word! We knew we wanted to be together and therefore HAD to compromise to make it work. This was however only possible because we trusted each other to have only the best intentions. Now we find our life in perfect balance and we have created our own culture which is, I think, unique: I love it and hope to pass it on to our own children some day. When spending time with his family I'm always aware of the fact that their ways of communicating are different than ours and much less direct. I find them (and most Iranians) very polite, generous, warm and hospitable.

His family is not a very traditional one and they're not religious at all (which, by the way, goes for almost all Iranians I've met so far). Although I keep repeating this to friends, colleagues etc. there are still some people who don't seem to believe this. I guess they think "well, he's from the middle east so he MUST be a muslem AND an Arab while he is NONE OF THESE TWO THINGS! I've also been asked a couple of times if I've seen the film 'Not Without My Daughter'and if I'm not afraid of what will happen if we would go to Iran: of course not! If I would be afraid I should not be in a relationship with him, that would just not be fair, would it? Besides, why would I be with someone I do not trust completely?

Fortunately none of our friends or relatives object to our relationship. I understand however that for instance to my mother it is a little difficult since she's not familiar with Iranians or their culture. But therefore I appreciate the fact that she has never made any objections even more! Finally I would like to add that my fiance is studying Persian Language and Culture at the university of Leiden in the Netherlands and that he is an expert in his language, literature, history and culture and that I learn a lot from him about his country and his language. Especially now that we're getting married I'm trying to learn a little more persian every day.

Altogether I think my life has been enriched since I met my fiance and I'm very excited to share experiences and ideas with other women, married to Iranian men. So don't hesitate to contact me! - Elke

It is not easy to marry an Iranian man in Malaysia !!!

Salam again to all my beloved ladies.

Firstly I should pay my respects to ZanAmu for giving this great oppotunaty for us to voice out our opinion/ideas/problems etc. Few months ago, I wrote to Zan amu explaining about my problem with the title "What is the procedure for marrieage". Well, I got many feed many ladies(my respects for them) and we shared views.

As an Iranian wife myself, I would like to explain the procedures that a Malaysian woman will have to go through before she holds the hands of her dream prince.

Firtsly, if you are not a moslem, you should convert. You should go to the Islamic centre (PERKIM) that is in Kuala Lumpur(capital). This process takes about 2-3 weeks. Well ladies, my personal advice is PLEASE do not convert for the sake of converting..but PLEASE accept the religion and the teachings of Mohammad by your heart and sincerely. At that will feel better because you got engaged into a way of life that will take you faster to god.

Then, you will have to go for a Marriage Course(Kursus Perkahwinan). That will be about a day's course and at the end of the day you will abtain a certificate enabling you to get married. You should produce this certificate(sijil) to the Syariah court. and get a wali. A "Wali" is a person representing your father. If your parents are not against your wedding, then everything goes on well. But if the situation is the opposite, then the court will have a standby Wali. After the marriage is over, then your husband who is an Iranian should take you to the Iranian Embassy which is in Jalan Ampang and show them the Marriage Certificate. Then, the Embassy will produce a passport for you. But there are cases where they will put your name in your husband's passport. That means, in the column where it says..."Persons accompanying the bearer"...your name will be printed out there.

This is the way a Malayisan woman has to go through to be legally announced as husband and wife. So, I hope that you women have a clearer vision now about the procedures. And once again, thanks to Zan-amu..because without her, there will be no advice seekers, advisors and gainers.

Ghoda hafeez. Ghorbanet, Gowri Rastgoftar

Dating an Iranian man for a year and engaged to be married...

I have been dating an iranian man for a year and we are engaged to be married this november. He is not a practicing muslim and I am a christian (not just born in america, but a believer in the Christ). His parents and sibling live in Tehran, he also has family in the US. I love this man dearly and look forward to spending the rest of my life with him. We have been through a lot this past year, including the tragic death of a young cousin. I was thrust into his culture in the midst of terrible tragedy and grieving. I had to learn a lot very quickly, and made many mistakes. He realized that there were certain things about his culture that he needed to share with me, not just assume I knew. We have learned to communicate the hard way.

I was very moved by some of the experiences shared, and felt a little relieved that some of the things we have had to work through are sometimes related to cultural differences. I would like to see the responses of the letters I have been reading, how do you access these? We have talked about my fiance becoming a US citizen, I understand he can have a dual citizenship right now, do you know if this is correct?

I would like to travel next year with him to Iran. He will only allow it if the political climate is peaceful (well, as peaceful as it can get between US and Iran). Do you think it is wise to visit Iran? Do I travel under his passport or mine? I see women who wear chador on T.V. and in movies, but I have never seen this on any of the women in his family in Tehran. All I see in pictures and home video of his mother and sister wear a scarf and long jacket. My fiance says I do not have to wear chador, who does wear this in Iran and what makes the difference who does and does not. I have seen the movie Not Without My Daughter. This movie and what I see through my fiance are extremely opposite. Is the gap in Islamic religion that opposite, are the divisions liberal, moderate, and fanatical or do I have it all wrong? I look forward to hearing from anyone on these subjects. Thank you, Melissa

They don't call them foreigners for no reason!

I am an American in South Florida married to an Iranian man for the last 15 years. We have a beautiful 14 year old daughter. My husband came to this country to study at the University during the end of the Shan's reign and planned to return to his country as a successful Architect. The revolution changed all that for him and many other people. We met several years later, after we both were divorced and he already had his green card. We both were 28 at the time. There is no question that he was the BEST boyfriend I ever had, and trust me I had my share and maybe a few other peoples as well! He is very "together" "GQ" "suave" and "classy".

Only after our marriage did I learn that appearances are very important to him. We could be in the mist of a bad argument and have an interruption like someone showing up or us arriving at a gathering and he will clasp my hand and smile like nothing happened. He will show no effects outwardly of just moments before being in a heated argument. I have learned the hard way never to dispute him in public, I can disagree all I want to in private, but never in front of anyone else, not our child, not family or closest friends. Do not get me wrong, he has never struck me. But verbally in anger, it is no holds bar, he will say untrue things for a hurt factor. When his "opinions" and "suggestions" are not followed he is truly surprised and disappointed. I have never known anyone who acts so different in front of people vs in private. Is this a Iranian trait or is it just him?

For the most part he is like my other friends husbands, just more controlling (or at least he tries :) )

What is the deal with terminally long visits from Iran? When they come it is in terms of months not days or even weeks! All I ever got was non-acceptance from his mother (God rest her soul - now deceased) and his oldest sister who resides in Iran. Their visit was so bad that they are no longer welcome in my home. But I understand from all that knew them ( including his other sister who resides in Calif) they are both difficult. Besides them, his family is very supportive of me and adore our daughter.

He is a wonderful father and my daughter knows how to manipulate him into getting what she wants, as most "daddy's girls" can. She is a beauty and it does make him nervous, but he does not restrict her dress or her availability to go to social functions. At 14 she is not actively dating but she has gone out and her father did not object. I agree that a site for the children would be helpful, often her heritage has come into question and she has had to do several reports in regards to this for school. She does not act very comfortable or overly interested in her heritage yet. Neither her or I speak Farsi and he converted to Catholic about 5 years ago. He does not socialize with primarily Iranians outside of family and college days friends. He hasn't been to a Persian New Years Party in years, so her exposure is limited.

Our's is not a bliss relationship, but we have learned how to work together and in spite of everything and do truly loved each other a great deal.

I am a South African married to an Iranian man for 16 years

Greetings Zanamu,

I am a South African married to an Iranian man for 16 years. We have a teenage daughter who is the joy of our lives. We only recently got Internet and to our good foturne came across Farsinet by chance. There are very few Iranians living here, less than 20 so we have been very secluded as far as Persian culture goes. I have tried to read as much as possible but my daughter and I do not speak Farsi (yet). My husband has visited Iran twice over the past 20 years. I cant believe that there is so much going on in the Iranian community in America.

I look forward to communicating with other wives in the same situation as there are so few of us here.

Kind regards, Kay

(PS. I also get tired of having to explain that my husband is devoted to me and our daughter and that no, he is not going to kidnap her or beat me. I hope I do so with patience as it is really due to negative publicity and ignorance.)

Married to Iranian and Welcome Others Experiences

Hi everyone! I just found this site a couple of days ago and am still learning how to get around it!

I have been in a Iranian-American relationship for 17 yrs now. We have 2 Daughters 17 yrs and 12 yrs. We live in Southern California where there is a very large Iranian population.

I think it's a great idea to have a place where we can share our experiences with others in similar relationships. Americans married to Americans don't share our experiences, or understand the way we view our married lives!

I would like to have others share their experiences and maybe we can both pick up some new ideas and ways to deal with problems. Email Me

Planning to Travel to Iran - Have lots of questions, need info...

I am an American Muslim and I have been married to an Iranian man for 10 years, happily at first, but we have had severe difficulty the last few years. I have never been to Iran and he hasn't been for 20 years. I think it would benefit our marriage if I travel to Iran, perhaps I will be better able to understand him. If nothing else, at least we will be separated for awhile but on friendly terms. He said we will go visit this summer for his sister's wedding and we will stay the month of August. If I like it, I want to stay. Even if I don't like it, I will stay if I can tolerate it.

He has tried to explain some of the differences but I just can't grasp what he's talking about. If someone could please explain to me a few things, some are quite personal, I would be greatly relieved.

What are the beds like? He said they are put away everyday in a closet and re-fluffed yearly. What are the bathrooms like? I can't even begin to explain what he has tried to tell me. Is there toilet paper? What kind of kitchen gadgets do they have? I love my citrus juicer, vegetable juicer, crock pot and blender. Can I take them if I have electrical outlet adaptors? (He said the outlets are not the same.) Should I just re-buy them over there? Do they have Farsi classes for foreign children in public school? Like ESL over here, I guess it would be FSL.? My 6 year old son will be 7 yrs when we go and entering 2nd grade. I want him to be enrolled in school but worry about him failing because he doesn't know the language.

Back to the home: How are the floors washed? My husband said his mother used a waterhose and the water ran out through some duct designed for that purpose, located against the wall. Do they have Farsi classes for adult foreigners?

One other matter, I have worn hijab in America for a long time but not a chador. I would like to make a chador and am fairly proficient at sewing. (I have had to be fair at sewing to wear Islamic clothing here. It's too expensive to buy custom-made clothing and hard to find clothes I was comfortable in.) If someone could send me instructions for the making of a chador, and perhaps a diagram, I would like that. I found a web site for Islamic clothing and there was a pattern for a chador. I made a miniature version to see what it looked like. It is not an Iranian chador. My husband said it was Arabic. So if someone could help, I will be grateful.

Oh one more thing, my youngest son just became 3 yrs old in May and he is not yet potty-trained. I was told that children are potty-trained early in Iran (one friend's son was only 8 months old!). How will my son and I be perceived when they discover he still won't go. Any advice? He refuses to go! I don't think travel to a new environment will be conducive to changing his mind. I think I've covered my main concerns for now. Please help with any info. You can e-mail me at; Thanks for this web site and in advance for the help.

We are both strong in our faith and neither one of us will change

To whom it may concern:

I have just become engaged to a wonderful Iranian man whom I love dearly. I am a Catholic Hispanic american while he is Muslim who was born and raised in Iran. We are very much in love and look foward to the future although we have a lot of obstacles ahead because of our differences. I am just wondering if their is any possible way to get some information and insight from others on subjects such as Children & which religon to raise them in. (We are both strong in our faith and neither one of us will change) Also we both come from very close-knit families who want a huge family(traditional) wedding I was looking for ways to incorporate both cultures into just one wedding. We have both have been given blessings from both his parents and mine, which was the biggest obstacle that we have gotten through now we both want to celebrate them and are looking for ways to do so. I thank you for your time and hope to hear from you soon.

Sincerely, Jennifer

Love A Moslem: A Support Group for Christian Women Dating or Married to Muslims

Hello, -- I am one of the moderators for Love a Muslim (LaM) at, an on-line support group for mostly Christian women either dating or married to a Muslim. I enjoyed visiting your site and I read all the letters. I find ZanAmu very interesting, useful and complementary to our site LaM.

The "Loving a Muslim" (LaM) mailing list is a forum and support group for non-Muslim women (mostly Christian) dating or married to Muslim men. The purpose is to share our experiences and questions among ourselves, learn from each other and encourage each other.

Please visit our site and join LaM mailing list to participate.

If I had a dollar for everytime someone has told me that he will take my children to Iran, abuse me, etc. I would be a rich woman.


I am an American female who has been dating a Persian man for 11 months. We are planning on getting married in January 2000. I have lived in the South my entire life and have experienced negative views about my relationship. Many people have stated that he is a wonderful person, however it is not appropriate for me to date or marry someone from the Middle East. I find myself repeatedly explaining to others about his reasons for leaving Iran (after the Revolution) and obtaining his US citizenship. Also, if I had a dollar for everytime someone has told me that he will take my children to Iran, abuse me, ect. I would be a rich woman.

He is so "Americanized" and speaks English so well that many do not realize he isn't originally from the US. However, once his birthplace becomes known, many feel it is their duty to "warn" me about dating/marrying a middle easterner. I realize that there are good and bad people of every culture, yet I am unable to convince others of this fact.

My father does not object to our marriage. He has said from the first time he met my boyfriend that this is the person I should marry. I wish that I could say the same for my mother. She has not accepted him, but she says she is trying. In regards to his family, I have met several of them and they do not object to our relationship. I will meet more of his family this summer.

I would appreciate learning about similar experiences with possible solutions. Also, any advice you can provide about dating/marrying a Persian will be greatly appreciated. Thanks. - Kim

PS. I think this website is an excellent idea!!

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