[PROVISIONAL TRANSLATION FROM Persian]
[Translator’s notes appear in square brackets.]
[Personal information has been redacted.]
[The excerpt below is from the section of the article that pertains to the Baha’i Faith]
[Date:] 19 Ordibehesht 1334 [10 May 1955]
[Issue No.:] 36
Cover page: Picture of Tehran Haziratu’l-Quds, as a large number of military personnel have occupied it. On a corner of the picture, a photo of Falsafi is placed in a question mark; written on the picture is: The Issue of the Day]
Back page: The recent intense propaganda by clergy against the Baha’is and the occupation of the Tehran “Haziratu’l-Quds” and their assemblies by the Tehran military commander, have become the topic of the day.
Why Was the Haziratu’l-Quds Occupied?
On Saturday, the military forces occupied the Haziratu’l-Quds, the centre of the activities of the Baha’i sect. The Tehran military commander announced the reason for the occupation in a communique issued in this regard and called it “for the purpose of keeping order and public discipline and prevention of possible incidents”, since, according to this communique, “demonstrations and propaganda of the Baha’i sect have provoked the public sentiments.”
From the Ministry of Education to the Special Physician
Of course, the occupation of the Haziratu’l-Quds did not just happen. A while ago, a vast [campaign of] propaganda against this sect had started within the clerical assemblies, particularly since the beginning of the holy month of Ramadan. Mr. Falsafi was intensely engaged with this issue and had made it a focal point of his religious preaching at the Soltani Mosque. Mr. Falsafi specifically attacked the infiltration of the Baha’i elements amongst the government organs, particularly the Ministry of Education. He even asked His Majesty to remove Major General Ayadi, His [Majesty’s] personal physician, about whom rumours of tendencies towards Bahaism existed. Considering the fact that the religious speeches of Mr. Falsafi were being broadcast by Tehran Radio, this issue—meaning confrontation with the Baha’i sect—had influenced the public opinion and had led to an exhibition of sentiments which resulted in the occupation of the Haziratu’l-Quds.
The public’s animosity towards the Baha’i sect and its thoughts and operations is nothing new; since its establishment, this sect has always been subject to opposition in our country. For this reason, in spite of their vast propaganda, except for a few backward cities such as Yazd, they have not had any significant progress.
The opposition of the public to the Baha’i sect has deep historical roots, which, in order to understand this incident, we need to briefly explain. The Baha’i religion first started during the reign of Nasered-Din Shah’s; in fact, it was the result and the natural continuation of the religion of the Bab.
The Bab and Fate
During the reign of Mohammad Shah, a person by the name of Seyyed Ali Mohammad, the Bab, appeared in Shiraz, who claimed to be the Mahdi [The promised Imam of Shia]. At first, he claimed to be the Gate, meaning the harbinger of the appearance of His Holiness, the Lord of Time. Then later, when he found a number of naive followers, he claimed to be His Holiness Himself.
The public dissatisfaction, the dire situation of the state and the corruption of the government institutions caused a huge number of people to follow the Bab. When Nasered-Din Shah took over the throne, he decided to eradicate and suppress Seyyed Ali Mohammad and his followers. He arrested him, who confessed to his guilt in a gathering of religious learned and asked for forgiveness. Then he was hanged. It is said that in the process of his hanging, the rope broke and Seyyed Ali Mohammad escaped. He sought refuge in a restroom from where he was dragged out and hanged again.
How did the Bahá’í religion come into existence?
But the story of the religion of the Bab did not end there. His followers were spreading his teachings in the cities for a while. They even confronted the government forces, which resulted in war in a few instances, such as the revolt of Zanjan, and another—the incident of Fort Sheikh Tabarsi.
In Zanjan, followers of the Bab occupied the city and defeated government forces a few times, until finally, owing to the superiority of government forces, they were defeated and massacred.
In Semnan, Sheikh Mohammad Ali Boshrouyehei [sic] raised the banner of rebellion and his supporters sought refuge in Fort Sheikh Tabarsi, started their resistance and fought with government forces. When the government forces realized they could not conquer the fort, they [prevented] all food and water from entering the fort. For two months, the supporters of Sheikh Mohammad Ali [remained] in that fort without water or food. When they eventually succumbed to hunger, the soldiers invaded the fort and killed them all. When their bellies were cut open, grass and green leaves came out, showing they had been feeding on tree leaves for a while.
In Tehran, Babis were captured several times, group after group, and were severely punished in Tehran; bodies were cleft in half; burning candles were placed in holes cut in their flesh. It got to the point where an accusation of Babism became a major threat and curse. If they wanted to destroy anyone, [that person] would be accused of being a Babi.
A while later, one of the supporters of the Babi religion, by the name of Mirza Husayn Ali Nouri, brought a new religion named Baha’i. Mirza Husayn Ali first claimed that [he was] the manifestation of the King of the Martyrs, [Imam] Husayn, the son of [Imam] Ali, Peace be upon Him. But later on, he claimed to be God, and that was why he called himself Baha’u’llah—the name Baha’i comes from that. Mirza Husayn Ali, unlike Seyyed Ali Mohammad, did not succeed, and no more than a limited number gathered around him. Later he was prosecuted by the government, and after being in hiding for a while, he escaped to the Ottoman country and took residence in Haifa, where, by the assistance of foreigners, he could find some devotees for whom he constantly issued tablets and revelations.
From Baha to Shoghi
After Baha’u’llah, his son Abbas Effendi, or Abdu’l-Baha, took over the leadership of the Baha’i sect. He had the same claim as his father. And now the son of Abbas Effendi, namely Shoghi Effendi, is the leader of this sect, meaning the God of the Baha’is. Survival of this sect in the conditions it is in, its continuation and progress in some backward countries, is a puzzle, the true reason for which is still unknown. But the opponents of Baha’is claim that this is related to special politics and continuation of the above-mentioned religion is needed for some benefits of those politics.
Cause of the opposition of the public opinion
In our country, in spite of the complete freedom that the Bahá’ís have had after the Constitutional Revolution, they could never have any perceptible progress, and they were always rejected by public opinion—particularly the behaviour and tragic action of Bahá’ís in some cities, added to this is public opinion opposition, such as the murder of a woman and some children in Abarghou last year. Their trial took place in a criminal court and the murderer was sentenced to death.
In spite of this, the matter of occupation of the Hazirat’ul-Quds is significant. Public opinion opposition and disagreement of public sentiments existed during all of the past thirty years; nevertheless, the Bahá’í sect has always had absolute freedom and there was no prohibition against them. But now that the military forces have occupied the Hazirat’ul-Qods for the first time, people ask themselves what caused this.
Why have the activities of Bahá’ís increased?
The definite point is that Mr. Falsafi’s speeches are certainly related to the opinion of some important religious assemblies and it can be said that Mr. Falsafi is, in fact, the mouthpiece of those assemblies in this matter.
On the other hand, informed sources state that the activities of Bahá’ís after 28 Mordad [19 August], and especially in the recent several months, has increased extraordinarily. This was a cause of alarm for the religious assemblies which appeared in the form of Mr. Falsafi’s speeches, as there was fear of public provocation resulting in dangerous consequences.
However, what caused the increase in activities and influence of Bahá’ís in recent months is unknown and we cannot express any definite statement in that regard.
Is Baha’i religion official or unofficial?
In the meantime, following the occupation of the Haziratu’l-Quds, a noteworthy legal and social discussion has occurred. On one hand, Baha’i sect assemblies claim that according to the Constitution and other laws of the country, there is freedom of religious belief, and followers of any religion can freely observe their ceremonies, and they should not face any deterrence.
In response to this objection, the religious and legal assemblies say that according to the first principle of the Constitution, Iran’s official religion is Twelfth-Imam Shiite, and Baha’i belief is completely against our official religion. At the same time, freedom of religions, which is mentioned in the Constitution, cannot include Bahaism because this freedom is for official religions which have holy books, such as Christianity and Judaism, whereas the Baha’i religion is not official and is totally rejected.
Therefore, since occupation of the Baha’i centre, meaning the Haziratu’l-Quds, needed a legal warrant, the authorities, following consultation, came to the conclusion that in order to prevent the activities of this sect and for the occupation of their centre, they must only use the religious route. As mentioned, since the Baha’i sect is not one of the official religious minorities of our country, the government is not obliged to protect it. For the same reason, prevention of its activities is not against the United Nations Charter. On the other hand, there was no other way than this to occupy their centre. Therefore, the Haziratu’l-Quds is presently occupied by military officers and, as reported, this location will be bought from the Baha’is.
Also, in order to prevent any [conflict] in the cities between the Baha’i sect and the city residents, the necessary orders have been issued by the authorities to prevent any confrontation. It is possible that the Haziratu’l-Quds will be converted into a mosque after the necessary alterations.
It should be also said that this conflict will be taken to the Parliament, and it is possible that in the Consultative Assembly, Mr. Seyyed Ahmad Safaie, Qazvin representative Mr. Shushtari, and in the Senate, Mr. Zahirol-Eslam will speak on this subject and request the banning of the Baha’i sect’s activities.
[Photo] A few Baha’is who were in the Haziratu’l-Quds
[Photo] Inside the Haziratu’l-Quds, General Bakhtiar and a few military personnel are seen under the portrait of Abdu’l-Baha. The caption under the portrait of Abdu’l-Baha is illegible.