the Salman Rushdie of music" and the death threats against him have sent him into hiding in Germany. And yet, the words of Shahin Najafi's brief, satirical rap, which earned him the title of apostate, are hard to come by in a satisfactory English translation. "Naghi," which is structured as a prayer addressing the 10th Imam, Ali al-Naghi, is a string of sardonic observations on a diverse public issues and allusions to recent events in Iranian society. Najafi himself has insisted that the piece was not intended to insult Islam or Ali al-Naghi.
Since I cannot grasp the Persian version, I spent the day discussing the lyrics with an Iranian friend and searching for good translations. The best I've seen is this one by Azadeh Azad. Taking this as a starting point, I've adjusted a bit to make it more idiomatic. One thing I'm still puzzling over is whether "For the sake of" or "I swear on" or some other phrase best captures the repeated petitionary form of address. Suggestions are most welcome.
by Shahin Najafi
Naghi, I swear on your wit
On this man, exiled far from the ring of battle
On life's big dick waiting menacingly behind us
On the width and length of sanctions and the rising dollar and the humiliation
Naghi, I swear on the cardboard cutout Imam
On the newborn who came out of the womb saying "O, Ali"
On Islamic jurisprudence lessons in the nose-job operating room
On The Leader, prayer beads and prayer rugs made in China
Naghi, I swear on Sheys Rezaei's thumb
On the absent religion and the religious soccer
Hey, Naghi! As the Hidden Imam is sleeping, we are calling you
Hey, Naghi! We are in our shrouds and ready to be buried
Hey, Naghi, Rise!
Naghi, I swear on love and Viagra
On spread legs and chakras
On bread, chicken, meat and fish
And silicon breasts and striped virginity
Naghi, I swear on Golshifteh's boobs
On lost honor that we never had
Naghi, I swear on Airya's race
And the pendants hung around the neck
Naghi, for Farnood's wee-wee
And the three thousand billion dollar fairy tale
Fictional like the Persian Gulf and Uromieh Lake
By the way--what was the name of the leader of the Green Movement?
On the fart-rending demise of the nation's Imam
On the fossilized pundits far from homeland
On the widows roaming in discos
On the intellectual discussions in chat rooms
On the honor of dissolute men
On the women defenders of men's rights
On the TV color revolution
On the three percent of people who read
On the insipid and hollow slogans
Naghi, I swear on this fickle crowd
Who say "long live" in the morning and "death to" at night
On the heroes of fiction