Familiarization with the show "Night of Memory"

Face to face with Sacred Defense narrators

Ehsan Qadami
Translated by M. B. Khoshnevisan


"Night of Memory" is one of the few continuous cultural shows on the Sacred Defense narration and memory-telling which is held regularly and monthly in the Art Center of the Islamic Propaganda Organization. The program is aimed at recognizing, collecting and publishing the oral memoirs of the eight-year Iraqi imposed war against Iran as well as the transferring of the concepts and values of the Scared Defense. The war veterans of the Sacred Defense years take part in this show every month, telling their memoirs of the days of epic and defense.

One of the features of this cultural program which has been organized by the Office of Resistance Literature and Art of the Art Center since 1992, is the direct and face to face connection of the war narrators with the audience in this gathering in a way that the telling of narrations and memoirs happen without any media mediation and new connections tools and in a fluent and unaffected way. 

So far, "Night of Memory" has received various cultural, artistic, military, political, and social personalities. Individuals like Ebrahim Hatami Kia, Rasoul Molla Qoli Pour, Ensieh Shah Hosseini, Ali Shah Hatami, Nasser Palangi, Hessameddin Seraj, Ashraf al-Sadat Mosavat (narrator of Beside Khayen River), Seyedeh Zahra Hosseini (Narrator of Daa), Seyed Nasser Hosseini Pour (narrator of The Foot that Left Over), Ali Sayad Shirazi, Seyed Ali Akbar Nouraee, Alireza Panahian, Issa Jafari, Ahmad Ahmad, Mahmoud Rafiee, Ali Asghar Fani, Masoumeh Ebtekar, Mohsen Rezaee, Hossein Mozaffar, Ali Fazli, Mehdi Chamran, Alireza Rahimi, Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf, Ali Shamkhani, Morteza Qorbani, Golali Babaee, Saeed Qassemi, Mohammad Hasan Qadiri Abianeh, Seyed Javad Hashemi, Reza Iran Manesh, Bijan Nobaveh and many others have told their memoirs in this program. 


Structure and performance

The word "Night" in the combination of night of memory does not mean the dark night but tumultuous and period and resembles the compositions of night of poet or night of story. Memory and memory-telling signify quotation and narration (2).[1] The name was chosen by Morteza Sarhangi the founder of the Office of Resistance Literature and Art of the Art Center.

The audience of the show is comprised of different strata and groups of the people especially the ones who have not realized the war years and are interested in seeing the war veterans closely and hearing the events and incidents of the resistance years from their own language without intermediaries.

The main core of the "Night of Memory" consists of the memory-tellers and narrators of (war veterans). Photos and documentaries are also used while the program is performed for better confirmation and realization. Various artistic, literary, and dramatic pieces are also used according to the subject and occasions.

After the war narrators are recognized and introduced to the Department of Night of Memory in the Art Centre, their memoirs are evaluated by the experts during several sessions. At the same time, the narrators who enjoy good memories as well as oratorical skill and the skill of verbal communication are selected as the memory-tellers of the program. After taking part in the meetings during which they retell their memoirs, the memory-tellers are introduced to the colleagues in the Office of Resistance Literature and Culture for conducting oral interviews and the written printing and publishing of their memoirs. Many collections of memoirs from memory-tellers have so far been released by the office. The memoirs of Mrs. Ashraf al-Sadat Mosavat (Sistani) the narrator of the book "Beside Khayen River" was the first guest whose collection of memoirs was released by the Office of Resistance Literature and Culture after retelling her memoirs about her martyred son. This office and the Office of Islamic Revolution Literature of the Art Center have also published the memoirs of other narrators of the show including Seyedeh Zahra Hosseini, Seyed Nasser Hosseini Pour, Marzieh Hahdidchi (Dabbaq), Mohsen Rafiq Doost and others by Sooreh Publications.

Night of Memory is a model of economical cultural program; it just needs a microphone and a soldier who comes and says what he or she has seen in the war fronts.[2] Due to the participation of families and presence of different age groups in Night of Memory, alongside the main section, another section named Children and Teens have been organized in which various cultural, educational and entertaining activities and programs for the children and teens in the forms of playing games, telling stories, reading poems, making handicrafts and so on are performed.                   


Necessities, goals, aspirations

Sacred Defense is one of the most important periods in the history of Iran and one of the main characteristics of the national culture and identity of our country. For having a correct conception of the period of the Iraqi imposed war against the Islamic Republic of Iran and the sacred Defense, we need individuals who have been present in the real scenes of that time and are able to narrate the events of those days in a correct way and understandable for all. In view of the slow process of written media in the transfer of message, and for more and faster influence of the war memoirs on the audiences, an activity was needed that these individuals are exposed to these memoirs without intermediaries. The "Night of Memory" was shaped with this aim and as an introduction for using other cultural productions in this area by the audiences.

The goal of "Night of Memory" has been the collection and publication of the oral memories of the eight-year war and the aspiration of the program is to preserve ad extend the culture and values of the Scared Defense period. Other goals and aspirations are audience-building and making the individuals interested in the Sacred Defense memoirs and narrations, increasing of information and knowledge regarding the facts and events of the impose war, establishment of relations between today's generations with those of revolution and the sacred Defense, increasing sense of honor and pride toward the Islamic country, preserving and spreading the spirituality of the scared Defense period, keeping alive the name and memory of the martyrs as the national heroes and making them as role models, respecting and commemorating the martyrs and Janbazan (disabled war veterans) and their families, promoting the culture of resistance in different domains of life, creating and boosting the revolutionary and anti-oppression morale, creating and boosting the morale of patriotism and national defense, creating and boosting the morale of self-sacrifice and martyrdom-seeking, creating and boosting spiritual faith vitality, increasing self-confidence and self-belief morale, and strengthening religious and national beliefs.  

In view of the span of the dimensions and historical significance of the Sacred Defense, the general policy of the Night of Memory is to hold regular and continuous gatherings which is able to keep and transfer the culture and ethical, human and spiritual values of the Sacred Defense through inviting the war veterans and expression of their memoirs among different strata of people as well as enjoying the best methods for establishing a correct and influential connection with the audiences. Thus, Night of Memory has missions which are: recognition and introduction of the narrators and memory-tellers of the war, audience-building and making the individuals to be interested in the Scared Defense narration and memoirs, making different strata of people familiar with the culture and values of the sacred Defense, registering and recording the war memories from the language of the war veterans (collection of the oral memoirs of the Sacred Defense) and production of various cultural products from the Scared Defense memoirs (audio, visual written, and …)

The criteria for selecting the narrators (memory-tellers) for Night of Memory are presence in the defense frontlines, important events and operations, having a good memory and remembering the details of the events, oratorical skill and verbal power and having pure, nice and influential memoirs.

The historical significance of the memory, documentation of memory (existence of photos, films, and …), being complete of the memory (in terms of the details of events) and attractiveness and effectiveness of memory are the criteria for selecting memoirs.

Advertising and information about Night of Memory are carried out through producing and broadcasting TV teasers form different channels of Islamic Republic of Iran’s Broadcasting (IRIB), the release of news in the news website of the Art Centre and the news agencies, announcement from social networks (Telegram and …), sending of the show’s SMS to the audiences, sending of posters and flyers to different institutions and centers, and universities and announcement through the podium of the Friday Prayer. The advertising text of the Night of Memory is as follows: The night of bitter and sweet memories, the notes of ascension and Qonoot Mountains, memory of silent buttercups behind bulwarks, whispers of Komeil (supplication), the night of the rule of barbed wires and long walls of captivity; Night of Memory; we invite you to Andisheh Hall to hear these memories of resistance and standing.[3]



Telling memoirs of the war and its events started from the war itself; during the war and in the context of an event. This memory-telling continued after the termination of the war; in more varied forms and broader domain. Narrating and writing of memories escalated after the war; everyday more than yesterday; some of the memories were screened on the silver screen; some others turned into scenarios for dramas; a number of others were released in the form of memory books in story and novel forms.

The Office of Resistance Literature and Art made a new innovation regarding telling the memoirs of the Sacred Defense and that was the call of the war veteran –from every strata and class - for expressing their memoirs in the ceremony of Night of Memory which is held monthly at the gathering of the lovers and fans of memoirs of war and front. The current interpretation of Night of Memory became common afterwards.[4]

The Office of Resistance Literature and Art started its activity in the collection of the Art Center in December 1988. It started its cultural activities and book publication with the motivation of collecting, compiling, and writing literary, artistic, and research works and memories remained from the period of the eight-year defense of the Iranian people against the imposed war. The importance of registering, recording and transferring of narration of the war events was put on the office’s agenda in various forms since its inception. One of these forms was the regular holding of the Night of Memory shows which came into existence in an initiative and spontaneous way by the colleagues of the office. In view of the significance of the program and its special status among the people and authorities, later, an independent department named the Department of Night of Memory was set up in the Office of Resistance Culture and Art of the Art Center.

The idea of shaping the program was the results of a collective decision with the consultation of Morteza Sarhangi, Heayatollah Behboudi, and Mohammad Hossein Qadami the old colleagues of the Office of Resistance Culture and Art of the Art Center in the early years of the office’s establishment. Later, Mohammad Hossain Qadami who himself was a war veteran and a writer in the area of the Sacred Defense took the responsibility of the program.[5] The initial form discussed for the show was the creation of a meeting for the periodical gathering of the war veterans for telling and hearing the memoirs of the war time. The next goals of the policy-makers of the Night of Memory were the registration of the war history, and preventing from its distortion, the transferring of the Sacred Defense memoirs to the posterity and those who are not well-informed of the events of those days. The initial structure of the show included the presenter’s speech, memory-telling, performance of interludes and the playing of a feature film at the end of the program which has continued until now. The show starts two and a half hours before the evening prayer[6] and ends with the playing of a feature film with the subject of the sacred Defense or social and cultural ones.

The first program of Night of Memory was held in the Art Center on 24th of December 1992. It was presented by Ali Reza Moeeni and attended by personalities such as Ahmad Azizi (poet), Fatemeh Nahidi (freed POW), Seyed Amir Abdollahi (a janbaz), Mujtaba al-Hosseini (an Iraqi physician), Hojjat al-Eslam Seyed Ali Akbar Aboutorabi Fard (freed POW), and Sadeq Ahangaran (eulogist). It was warmly welcomed by the audiences and had a considerable media recation. The Sacred Defense movie “Hour in fire” directed by Azizollah Hamid Nejad was played at the end of the show.  

The activities of the Department for Night of Memory include the regular holding of the monthly program of Night of Memory, recognition of the war narrators and holding of meetings for introduction of persons to each other and the memoirs’ evaluation, introduction and dispatch of memory-tellers to organizations, universities, provinces and different parts of the country, cooperation in holding Night of Memory in different centers and areas of the country, conducting oral memoirs interviews with the narrators and memory-tellers, the release of selected memoirs in the cyber space or in the form of books, brochures and so on, and the introduction of the memory-tellers to the colleagues in the Office of Resistance Culture and Art for book compilation.

The Night of Memory have so far presented different products which include: production and presentation of audio and visual CDs, the printing and release of more than 50 brochures from the selected programs of the show, the printing and release of three books out of the selected collection of memoirs of the show.

The statistical information of the Night of Memory (as of the end of 2016) is as such: the holding of 277 programs of Night of Memory in the central Art Center, the memory-telling of 630 Sacred Defense narrators in these shows, narration of more than 900 Sacred Defense memoirs in the shows, the recording of some 620 hours audio and visual programs, the production and broadcasting of 320 radio programs (in Radio Iran in the years 2009 and 2010), production and broadcasting of 53 TV programs (IRIB Channel 5 in 2009). 

Another program of the Night of Memory is its performance in the house of the Leader of the Islamic Revolution. The Night of Memory of the Leader's House was held in 2005 concurrent by the first day of the Sacred defense Week. It was attended by a number of the show's narrators and memory-tellers in Imam Khomeini Hosseinieh in the presence of the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution. While images from the Scared Defense era were shown in the meeting, some of the present individuals in the images explained about the registered moments and a number of male and female war veterans and freed POWs narrated their memoirs of the Scared defense era and captivity days. The program was presented by Bijan Nobaveh (a Sacred Defense correspondent). Fatemeh Nahidi (freed POW), the late Mahmoud Rafiee (janbaz), Saeed Tajik (war veteran), Hossein Kana'ani (janbaz), Mohsen Qeisari (Sacred Defense cameraman) and Farid Mohammad Salehi (janbaz) narrated their memories. And finally the program ended with the statements by the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei. This show once again was performed in the Leader's presence on 21st of October 2006. 

The special program of Night of Memory was held on 24th of May 2017 concurrent with the anniversary of the liberation of Khorramshahr. At the beginning of this meeting, misters    Morteza Sarhangi – the Head of the Office of Resistance Literature of the Arts Center,   Abolfazl Kazemi – the author of “Koocheye Naqashha” (The Painters’ Alley), Asghar Naqizadeh – war veteran and Sacred Defense movies actor, Mehdi Tahanian – war veteran and the narrator of the book “Sarbaz-e Koochak-e Imam” (Imam’s Little Soldier),  Masha’allah Shahmoradi – war veteran and director for “Rojan” TV series, Mamousta Molla Qader Qaderi – The Friday Prayers’ leader of the town of Paveh, Ali Khoshlafz – war veteran and the narrator of the book “Vaqti Mahtab Gom Shod” (When the Moonlight Went Missing), Alireza Moradi – retired army colonel, Ebrahim Hatami-Kia – director of Sacred Defense movies, and Ms. Maryam Katebi – an aid worker in the Sacred Defense era and a comrade of missing commander, Ahmad Motevasselian recited memories of the exploits and epic-creating deeds of the warriors and war veterans. In continuation, Ayatollah Khamenei in his speech considered the recitation of memoirs of the eight-year imposed war and using of new literary, artistic methods for their transfer to the new generation as a valuable and significant work.

Night of Memory has also been held four times (during the years 2014 and 2015) in the Iranian Majlis (parliament) upon the request of the Majlis Sacred Defense Fraction. In these programs, the lawmakers who have been in the war fronts during the Scared Defense have told their memoirs for other lawmakers.

The holding of Night of Memory has not been limited to Tehran. It has been performed in different cities and provinces of the country through modeling the show in Tehran. The show has been launched spontaneously by the people or by various organizations and institutions. In some cases, the central office of Night of Memory in Tehran has provided supports and aids such as introduction and dispatch of memory-tellers or other aids to the organizers. The cities in which the show is held continuously are Shahr-e Rey, Qazvin, Zanjan, Mashhad, Hamadan, Isfahan, Ahwaz, Abadan and …

The authorities of the Night of Memory are trying to take the program beyond Iran's geographic borders, extending the domain of its influence to other countries. Thus, attempts have been made for the holding of the show in several countries; the countries which have been somehow involved in the war and experienced national defense and popular resistance, or the ones whose volunteer forces have been present in our sacred Defense. Among such measures, mention can be made of the holding of meetings and consultations with cultural officials of the countries of Pakistan, and Lebanon and meeting with the combatants of the Lebanese Hezbollah which after consultation and expression of experiences and presentation of examples of Night of Memory of Iran, it was decided that practical measures and steps are taken and followed in these countries.  

The Night of Memory has also been several times in the UAE in the years 2006, 2007, and 2008 upon the request and invitation of the Cultural Department of Iranian Club in Dubai for the Iranians residing in the United Arab Emirates. Individuals such as Hesameddin Seraj, Seyed Javad Hashemi, Reza Borji, Seyedeh Zahra Hosseini, the late Rasoul Molla Qoli Pour, Asghar Naqi Zadeh, Abdolhossein Mokhtabad, Reza Iran Manesh, and Morteza Sarhangi have narrated their memoirs of the eight-year Sacred Defense.

Special programs of Night of Memory have been as follow: the holding of 20 special programs for Rahian-e Nour (the pilgrimage to the former battlefields during Saddam’s imposed war on Iran) in the western and southern operational areas of the country (2006 and 2009), the holding of six programs of Night of Memory special for the ceremony (Asr-e Soureh) in the Art Center (2010), the holding of three program of the show special for the ceremony “The Age of Islamic Awakening” in the Art Center (2011), the holding of one program special for the ceremony “The Age of Lifestyle” in the Art Center (2013), the holding of 20 programs on the occasion of Daheh Fajr (Ten-Day Dawn) in the Art Center of the provinces organized by and with the cooperation of the Provinces’ Affairs of the Art Center (2016).


Perspective of Night of Memory

The program’s perspective is the expansion and development of the places and centers for holding the nights of memory across the country whether spontaneously by the people or through state aids in a way that the whole provinces of the country can hold a program every month so that the program’s goals are achieved in a broader level.    


*The above article is part of the MA thesis in Management of Cultural Affairs titled “The relation between the cultural activities of the Sacred Defense area and the social capital of audiences along with a case study of the programs of the Art Center’s Night of Memory”.



[1] Interview with Alireza Kamari, author, researcher in literature and history (2015)


[2] Sarhangi, Morteza, 2014, Commemoration of Mohammad Hossein Qadami, Rahavard cultural social weekly, issue 537, page 5.

[3] The invitation text was written by Hedayatollah Behboudi and Morteza Sarhangi concurrent with the first program of Night of Memory

[4] Kamari Alireza, 2002, War and Memory, first edition, Tehran: Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance, page 45.

[5] Mohammad Hossein Qadami was born in 1951 in Tehran. He got familiar with Mohammad Ali Rajaee before the revolution and was involved in cultural and educational activities upon his recommendation and persuasion. When the Iraqi imposed war against Iran broke out, he attended the war fronts, writing reports from the frontline and published them in the dailies and press. The reports caused him to become familiar with Seyed Morteza Avini and to join the TV series “Ravayat-e Fat’h” or narration of victory. In this cooperation, three parts of the series were directed by Mohammad Hossein Qadami, and produced with the cooperation of martyr Behrouz Falahat Pour in the operational areas of Halabcheh, Iraqi Darbandi Khan and Shakh-e Shemiran Altitudes. He joined the authors of the Office of Resiatnce Literature and Art of the Art Center, taking the responsibility of the show f Night of Memory since 1992.

[6] Interview with Mohammad Hossein Qadami 2016.


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