[PROVISIONAL TRANSLATION FROM PERSIAN]
[Translator’s notes appear in square brackets]
[Personal information has been redacted.]
It has been one year since the clarion call for humanity’s freedom from injustice and suppression was raised, and expectant expressions of justice and fairness are being heard near and far in every corner. Meanwhile, however, the Baha’i community of Iran—which, based on the spiritual teachings of its religion, has proven its obedience to the government in both word and action, and has continually prayed and beseeched God for the success of the nation’s leaders in ministering to the affairs and advancement of the people—has been afflicted by such injustices and calamities that contemporary human history has rarely seen anything like it. Appeals to the esteemed government authorities have continued to be ineffective and fruitless, and it appears that these appeals are not reaching the authorities in charge. Therefore, once again, the continuation of these hardships compels us to look to the kind hearts of our countrymen, rely upon the conscience of each one of them, recount the story of these injustices and cruelties to our true friends, and ask them to make a judgement based on the standards of justice and what befits the spirit of equality and brotherhood of humanity in the court of their personal conscience, and to help us to attract the attention of the esteemed leaders of the country in any way possible.
Dear ones, the followers of the Baha’i Faith, since the dawn of their religion in this country and throughout their history, have passed through several consecutive decades of killings, massacres, looting, and imprisonment, and they have paved the path of their spiritual endeavours with the blood of more than twenty thousand martyrs on the expanse of religion and spirituality, even though the mission of this Faith—which is based on the oneness of the essence of God, oneness of the divine religion, and oneness of humankind—has such conformity and accord with the needs of humanity in this century that to imagine such cruel treatment of its followers is unacceptable under any criterion or standard. Nevertheless, history is a truthful spectator and an eloquent witness to these bitter truths.
Following the fall of the Qajar dynasty, the Baha’is were continually faced with various types of discrimination and pressure, and from time to time a new wave of difficulties and calamities, including looting, imprisonment, exile and killings, would come upon them. A lack of respect for basic human rights, the withholding of natural and customary freedoms―such as the freedom of assembly and worship, freedom to carry out personal matters, and freedom to express personal beliefs, and even deprivation of the right to work and employment―were severely enforced against the individuals in this oppressed and defenceless community, while the Baha’is had no opportunity at all to let their countrymen know what they think and believe. The megaphones of their detractors were engaged with complete liberty in casting doubts and presenting various allegations and baseless slanders; they raised such a sound and fury of lies and allegations that the call of the Baha’is, which consisted of inviting people to unity and friendship, did not reach anyone’s ears.
Now, let us see how it is that the Baha’is, despite all of these difficulties and misfortunes, have remained resilient, and the horrifying hurricane of these difficulties and pressures has not only failed to put out the call of the Faith of Baha’u’llah, but within a short period of time people of all races and tribes in more than 102,000 places in the world have accepted this Divine Call and have embraced its message of unity and the oneness of humanity with their hearts and souls. From the point of view of the people of faith, the answer to this question is very simple and clear in accordance with the sacred verse from the Quran: “Compares a good word to a good tree? Its root is firm and its branches reach the sky” (Sura of Ibrahim).
This is the ancient way of God, through which the creative forces of the Word of God overcome opposition and carry out the divine mission to the point of perfection, despite the fact that the opponents, who, at one time, interpreted its spiritual victories as magic and sorcery, now relegate it to the influence of various political regimes. Political influence to change the hearts of human beings and promote spiritual teachings; that is what they say about the Baha’is, for whom strict non-interference in any political system is part of their religious belief. This is a slander that the people of justice who see with their own eyes will eventually clear up. Of course, when individuals are allowed to freely hurl slanderous allegations and not bother to offer any proof for their baseless allegations, and the other side is not given an opportunity to defend itself, making baseless allegations becomes very simple and easy.
At any rate, after the success of the Islamic Revolution and the establishment of the new regime, not only was there no sign of justice with respect to the Baha’is, but this defenceless community fell under the full force of calamities of unprecedented severity and scope. The longstanding enemies who, for many years, under the protection of the previous government agents, would attack and loot Baha’i establishments and offices at random, now in their injustice and cruelty began their attacks with systematic plans and limitless and unbridled liberty.
Relying on your kind patience, we will now, with utmost brevity, tell the bitter story of their actions, which have ranged from hurling baseless allegations to inflicting various injustices, and hope that it will enlighten the minds of just individuals. The allegations hurled upon our community through mouths, microphones and the media, can be summarized as follows:
First - Just [as it happened] at the time of all previous social changes in this country after the fall of a regime, they once again considered the Baha’i community as that regime’s supporter and ally. Why? Because in the past, among the many ministers and deputies, one Baha’i had accepted a ministerial position against the teachings of his religion, notwithstanding that he was immediately excommunicated from the Baha’i community; because the names of two Baha’is were included among the thousands of capitalists who had benefited from the conditions of the economic system and amassed immeasurable wealth; because there was also one Baha’i physician among the numerous individuals who had gotten close to the court of the shah.
But dear ones, how is it that the existence of the Muslims who were at the helm of the previous regime at various levels does not indicate any relationship [in their actions] to the sacred religion of Islam and it does not besmirch the mighty religion; yet the presence of two or three Baha’is among hundreds of Muslims can cause the Baha’i community of Iran to be associated with such a cruel allegation?
Second - Another slanderous act, the hideousness of which is matched only by the above-mentioned allegation, is that some of the agents of the previous regime, who have now been condemned, continue to be erroneously associated with the Baha’i community, despite the fact that these individuals have, on numerous occasions and clearly and plainly, introduced themselves as devout Muslims and have observed all of the conditions and requirements of being a believer and a Muslim, including pilgrimage to the holy Mecca, in order to express and announce their belief in Islam. Now, judge with the eye of justice, what could the defenceless Baha’is do when faced with such powerful and unfair slanderers except to rely on the warnings in the sacred Word of God, Who said, “Woe to every sinful liar.”
Third - Another allegation that has originated from ill intentions and has been propagated in the vacuum of ignorance is the identification of the Baha’is, who are the promoters of unity of humankind, with movements and parties whose ideas are confined to racial interests. The falsity of this point is obvious and clear to anyone with eyes to see. However, we unfortunately observe that a lack of the fear of God, namely the power that protects the believers from committing lies and slanders, has resulted in using such words as Zionism and imperialism regarding the Baha’is with such ease as if there were no God, no tomorrow, and no punishment. Yes, the holy sites of the Baha’is—which the Baha’is of Iran and all other countries in the world hold in high regard with all of their hearts, lives, and consciences—have been established since the second half of the nineteenth century on the foothills of a mountain which, in the history of religion and spirituality, is known as the Mountain of God. This is a land that political geography had at one point labelled as the land of al-Sham and was a part of the Ottoman empire. Today, the country has another name. But is it not true that Muslims also respect the Al-Aqsa Mosque, which is located in the same country, with love and faith? Is such a spiritual sentiment a sign of attachment to the country of Israel?
A few months ago, newspapers reported that the renovation of the Al-Aqsa Mosque, the primary point of adoration for the Muslims of the world, will cost $600,000. Does not each and every Muslim aspire to save part of their daily expenditures and send the money to that same country to ensure the achievement of such a sacred task? Could such a noble act, which originates from the most sacred human sentiments, be interpreted as sending money to support the financial strength of Israel?
Dear friends, let us all pray to the threshold of the Compassionate God to bestow upon every soul true religion and fear of God so that they may be protected from committing such sinful acts as lies and slanders.
In the meantime, during these few months, the injustices that have been brought upon the Baha’i community in Iran have been unprecedented in their severity and scope. Baha’i offices and establishments have been looted and confiscated; our holy and historic sites throughout the country have been impounded; the House of the Bab in Shiraz, which is a point of adoration for the Baha’is, has been desecrated and destroyed with utmost cruelty and brutality; and the hospital belonging to this community, which is one of the oldest healthcare establishments of the country and the only private hospital not motivated by generating profit, has been taken out of the hands of its owners without any legitimate reason. The extent of the injustice has not stopped here. The assault upon individual rights has begun with astonishing severity and is moving forward with great speed. Well-known Baha’is are being kidnapped in the streets, Baha’i employees who have distinguished themselves for their honesty, trustworthiness, and praiseworthy service are being expelled, group after group, and their legitimate wages are withheld in their entirety. Most importantly, we have witnessed the fact that the Constitution of this country has completely ignored the existence of the largest religious minority in the country, the size of which exceeds all of the other minorities combined.
In the thunderstorm of lies and slanders that has swirled around this spiritual community, and at the harshest moment in the history of injustices and calamities that have been inflicted upon us, the only solace for the hearts of the Baha’is would be if our countrymen could know for the sake of which beliefs the Baha’is endure all of this pain and cruelty and with hope for what kind of a future they face such attacks on their lives and livelihood.
As stated in the beginning of this article, belief in the oneness of the essence of God, the oneness of all divine religions, and the oneness of humankind form the foundations of our beliefs. In promoting this heavenly message, we have relied on nothing but divine confirmations, and in the path of our spiritual life we will never stray from the straight path of honesty, grace, purity, and righteous action. In treading this path, we give praise and remain grateful for that which is ordained by God, and consider all of these events and incidents to be preparing the way for the dawn of the Golden Age in the world of humanity. Faced with all of these injustices and baseless allegations, we pray with absolute sincerity to the threshold of the Merciful God:
“O Lord! …Confirm us in service to the world of humanity so … that we may love all Thy creatures and become compassionate to all Thy people.”
Dear friends, you may not agree with our beliefs, but do you not share our goals for the world of humanity? Or, at the least, do you consider us to be deserving of so much cruelty and injustice because of these beliefs? Please pray with us so that the spiritual ears of those who are committing these injustices might be opened to the divine advice in the sacred Quran, which states: “Why do you mix the truth with falsehood and hide the truth knowingly?”
Respectfully, with expressions of love,
National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’is of Iran
Dey 1358 [January 1980]