Iran’s Ministry of Culture Stops Release of Album Containing Rumi Poem

By Azadeh Karimi

The poetry committee of the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance’s Office for Music has refused to issue a permit to Iranian singer-songwriter Mohsen Chavoshi for the release of his latest album titled “Gambler,” the record’s producer Hadi Hosseini has said.

According to Mr. Hosseini, the ministry has asked Mr. Chavoshi to change the name of the album and remove an entire verse which contains the word “prostitute” from a song that uses a poem by the renowned 13th-century Iranian poet and Sufi mystic Jalal ad-Din Mohammad Rumi, also known as Mowlana.

Mohsen Chavoshi. Source: Kayhan London

“We pointed out that it was a spiritual poem, but they insisted that we should delete the word,” Mr. Hosseini explained. “They, however, argued that removing a word would compromise the integrity of Mowlana’s poem, given that he was such an iconic figure, and, therefore, we must take out the entire verse from the song. Otherwise they would not let us release the album. The verse is an integral part of the song, and deleting it would change the character of the album. The council does not care about the poem, only about a few words.”

“From all of Mowlana’s poems you had to choose this one and generate so much publicity because the Ministry of Culture refused to issue a permit to release the song,” Saeed Biabanaki, of the seven members of the poetry committe of the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance’s Office for Music, tweeted on September 7. “In the past, it was called marketing, but, nowadays, it is showing off.”

Mr. Biabanaki deleted the tweet shortly after posting it.

There are unconfirmed reports that Mr. Chavoshi plans to change the title of the album to “Untitled.”

[Translated from Persian by Fardine Hamidi]