How Iran's Revolution Created 'Muslim Lite'

About five days before the start of Ramadan, in anticipation of a long month of abstinence, my upstairs neighbor's kid threw a house party. Car after car unloaded young men with spiky, gelled hair, and young women in tight jeans and spiky heels. The sound system, I believe, must have been imported from an Ibiza nightclub, because no household stereo could produce such volume. Of course by 11 p.m., plainclothes police officers — well, we at least like to assume that the men in street clothes who raid parties and take bribes are actual agents of the law — had arrived and broken up the terrified crowd. But that's not the interesting part. Once the month of fasting began, I spotted many of these very same young people around the neighborhood, piously reincarnated with austere hairstyles and headscarves. I recognized one of the girls at the local square, as we stood in a pre-iftar [the Ramadan evening meal] line for halim, and asked her if the was actually observant, or just happened to like the seasonal wheat and turkey stew. "Oh, I adore fasting!" she said, as though professing to love truffles or the beach.


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