Satan's Stones Moniru Ravanipur's "Satan's Stones" Is Essay

Length: 5 pages Sources: 8 Subject: Mythology - Religion Type: Essay Paper: #11525272 Related Topics: Islamic Art, Religious Traditions, Koran, Object Oriented
Excerpt from Essay :

Satan's Stones

Moniru Ravanipur's "Satan's Stones" is a short story in a collection of short stories of the same name. The story is set in the remote regions of Iran where it explore facets of relationships in contemporary Iranian life, particularly ever-shifting relations that can be found in the rural villages. This story represents a literary experimentation and a new style in Persian fiction in the vein of "magical realism." The fundamentalist Iranian government has banned "Satan's Stones." Its openly frank explorations of these relationships in Iranian society offends the majority of Islamic leaders in the modern Islamic Republic of Iran.

While the literary style in "Satan's Stones" is an issue, a much deeper one is the evocation of the Iranian past, particularly a non-Islamic Zoroastrian Persian past that antedates the Islamic period and with an eclectic folk magical tradition that flourished during times in Iranian history when the Shiite society was more liberal and has went into seclusion when times are repressive. In Zoroastrian tradition, women are treated equally with men and a male is not needed to deliver the honor of the family in the next life (Jayaram).

It is this more level playing field and a more respectful male attitude toward the female half. In this vein, Maryam's relationship with the old matron is critical in translating the abstract world of the stories of the djinn into a concrete present reality that will uplift women in the eyes of Shiite Iranians. Iranians have heard such stories straight from the mouths of the mullahs which they believe in as religious dogma. It is this "kosher" entrance to the pre-Muslim Iranian heritage that Ravanipur is attempting to use. Also, selecting a figure named Maryam secures the heroine a respected place in the present world of Orthodox Shiite Islam. She is the connection with the present Iranian woman.

A. The World of Abstract Perception

1. Maryam as a Heroine in Islam

Ravanipur's magical realism is not just in the past. She moves into the Islamic era in a complete way by identifying her heroine Maryam with the one positively portrayed woman in the Koran, Maryam and her relationship with her older Aunt and matron Anna (Channah in Arabic) (Pennington). The use of Maryam as a transformative instrument directly relates back to the abstract idea of Maryam as relationship to the old tradition represented by the old matron and bringing it into the present Shiite reality to try to raise the perception of the value and role of women in contemporary Iranian society. However, there is a definite double symbolism as the old Matron chides a village woman for seeing her as a vision of the "Virgin Mary (Rav-n?

p-r, and Ghanoonparvar, 6)."

2. Pre-Islamic Tradition

Unfortunately, things become even more difficult for the matron. She is scared and shuts the windows shutters with a bang (Rav-n?

p-r, and Ghanoonparvar, 5). Like the old Zoroastrian traditions, she is locked away in a closet or behind closed doors, just as the Zoroastrians would have secluded an unclean menstruating woman. While the villagers have relied upon her in the past to combat the black djinn, they can not admit it openly.

To battle the djinn, she needs the magical bowl from which at 14 years of age divines that she must remain a virgin forever to fulfill her live mission (ibid, 6-7). The incantation bowl that the matron uses to combat the djinn is definitely a link with a pre-Islamic past with ancient folk mystical Judaism and perhaps even Mandaen traditions where the device is an important magical object. The demon they may be trying to ward off is Lilith, the fabled first partner of Adam who refuses to follow his sexual dictates and who now preys upon human infants both during and immediately after birth. It is meant to trap the evil spirit by being turned upside down over them and then made into a protective part of a house's foundation. Written on the inside...


It empowers its adherents outside of the authority of the Koran. This cross-cultural magical, religious tradition is likely still in effect as Ravanipur is relating an incident that she heard about or witnessed personally in her life in rural Iran. In this tradition, women are treated more equally with men, though they are not on a par as modern Westerners would see as proper.

Also, when a neighbor woman was in delivery, the old matron pulls a burning palm leaf from a brazier to ward off the djinns (Rav-n?

p-r, and Ghanoonparvar, 8). The belief in the djinn is confirmed among the people due to its acceptance and transmission by Islamic clerics (Donaldson 185 -- 194) . This is a definite hearkening back to the Sassanid Persian Zoroastrian sacred fires that provided light before the present Islamic nightmare came into being in the Revolution. In the opinion of this author, this is the light of enlightenment that Ravanipur is trying to bring back. In the Zoroastrian tradition, fire conveys purity and fights impurity. In the case of the woman in delivery, this the impurity brought out by the blood present at birth. In addition, in the Zorastrian tradition, pregnant women light lamps and fires as a protective measure (Beyer) .

The Concrete Shiite Reality of Maryam and the Matron's Relationship

In this case, the setting is in a village in the rural area surrounding Shiraz, Iran. The author, Ravanipur was from a village called Jofreh and raised in the Iranian provincial capital of Shiraz (""). In additon, Shiraz still retains a large Jewish community, the most observant in all of Iran, a community that Ravanipur certainly would have encountered. Therefore, "Satan's Stones" is likely at least partly biographical in content and nature.

In the essay, this author talk about how they understand the transformative nature of Maryam's relationship with the village matron. This will be done using the interpretative concept of moving from an abstract perception to a more concrete reconsideration of Maryam's relationship. Particularly, the incident where the elderly matron is witnessed involved in the performance of the fire purification and incantation bowl rituals mentioned above to counteract the power of the djinn (Lilith) and allow the matron to function normally as a midwife to young pregnant women in delivery. The water used in the delivery is put into the incantation bowl, linking the old pre-Islamic magical folklore with present by providing purification before, during and after the birth process. However, the Islamic regime, represented by Gholam the gendarme is opposed to the matron when he is in the village on patrol (Rav-n?

p-r, and Ghanoonparvar, 4).

Given the same cultural understandings, like Maryam, any person (even a man) can put themselves in the same place and perceive the transformation of Iranian society from the old pre-Islamic world to the new Shiite reality. Unfortunately, the transition is not smooth. However, the matron goes on with her devotion to the village, ministering to their needs without hesitation (ibid). The observer is therefore left witnessing a draw. The concrete reality is a government which is against the traditions, but powerless to completely stamp them out from a rural society that makes use of their services in their times of need.


To sum up, Moniru Ravanipur's "Satan's Stones" is a short story in her collection of short stories of the same name. This story represents a literary…

Sources Used in Documents:

Works Cited

Beyer, Catherine. "Purity and Fire in Zoroastrianism Protecting the Ritual Fire From

Desecration.", 2011. Web. 11 Nov 2011.


Donaldson, Bessie Allen. "Belief In Jinn Among The Persians." Muslim World. 20.2 (1930):

Cite this Document:

"Satan's Stones Moniru Ravanipur's Satan's Stones Is" (2011, November 11) Retrieved June 25, 2021, from

"Satan's Stones Moniru Ravanipur's Satan's Stones Is" 11 November 2011. Web.25 June. 2021. <>

"Satan's Stones Moniru Ravanipur's Satan's Stones Is", 11 November 2011, Accessed.25 June. 2021,

Related Documents
Iranian Revolution Most Americans Born
Words: 1669 Length: 5 Pages Topic: History - Israel Paper #: 88769177

Under huge amounts of political pressure, and suffering from cancer, the Shah left Iran on January 16, 1979, and on February 1 Khomeini arrived at the airport in Tehran where an estimated "three million people lined the streets" to welcome the religious leader, DeFronzo continued. Shortly, the Iranian military pledged loyalty to Khomeini The debate over what form of government would replace the Shah's fascist state did not last very

Iranian Revolution of 1979 Gave
Words: 477 Length: 1 Pages Topic: History - Israel Paper #: 4800278

Although they have failed to put an end to Iran's terrorist acts, U.S. sanctions applied to Iran since the revolution of 1979 have influenced Iran considerably. The main tool of foreign policy that the U.S. has used in the case of Iran has been financial pressure, especially through blocking International Monetary Fund and World Bank funding to Iran, which has greatly enhanced the country's debt crisis. Also, the U.S. has

Impact of Islamic Fundamentalism in the Iranian Revolution
Words: 2501 Length: 8 Pages Topic: History - Israel Paper #: 56456638

Iran and Islamic Fundamentalism For the past three decades, Iran has developed as an Islamic fundamentalist state that has constantly subdued dissent. While the various leaders have tried to establish secularization of Iran in the recent past, these attempts have always been repressed since they promote dissenting views and liberalize people's lifestyles. The development of Iran as an Islamic fundamentalist state has largely been influenced by Islamic fundamentalism during the Iranian

Iran Revolution the Iranian Revolution
Words: 863 Length: 2 Pages Topic: History - Israel Paper #: 75061164

Thus while Khomeini wanted to establish an Islamic Revolution, the Shia and the Sunni viewed his as a man wanting to attain power through the exploitation of the religious disputes between the two. At the same time however, there were strong religious Shias that considered the Ayatollah as the divine presence on Earth and they obeyed him. Even so, the religious aspect played a major role in the conflicts

Iranian Youth the Emergence of
Words: 2418 Length: 8 Pages Topic: History - Israel Paper #: 26635654

Subsequently there is a "...hunger for reforms, for more freedom and accommodation with the west." (Asghar a.) This movement of the progressive youth as well other sectors of the population, such as women, was clearly seen in the 1999 unrest in Iran where mainly university students took to the streets of Tehran in order to express their dissatisfaction with the orthodox regime. There were more than 20,000 students who took part

Iranian Cinema After Revolution
Words: 1872 Length: 7 Pages Topic: Film Paper #: 51236311

Iranian Cinema After the Revolution An introduction to Iran: Iran or Persia as it was previously known was founded more than 4,000 years ago and is thus one of the oldest surviving nations of the world. Iran had been primarily ruled by series of dynasties including such illustrious families as the Achaemenids (500-330 B.C.), the Sassanians (A.D. 226-650), and the Safavides (1500-1722). Iranian dynasties have been synonymous with victories and land acquisition