[PROVISIONAL TRANSLATION FROM PERSIAN]
[Translator’s notes appear in square brackets]
[Personal information has been redacted.]
One Must Be Fair …
Baha’is do not interfere in politics. It is a matter that everyone attests to, and some people here even mock the Baha’is and call them indifferent to the interests of the country because they refrain from [interfering] in politics. The Baha’is are not addressing such people in this article, as they have explained and justified their character in this regard in dozens of articles, treatises and books, which of course can be addressed again at another time as the situation requires. What they want to say briefly now, is that they take this principle very seriously, they never violate it, their behaviour is the same covertly and overtly, and the fact is that they refrain from politics and do not accept political jobs. They leave the decision-making in the politics of the country to the government, agree to serve toward the implementation of the decision which takes the form of law or is the rule of law, and undertake such service which is operational administrative affairs, with honesty and sincerity.
The Spiritual Assemblies of the Baha’is constantly repeat this teaching, express it at every opportunity, promote and expand it among the Baha’is and keep this community away from politics in any manner they can. They seek assistance from the talks of speakers, the lectures of scholars, the books of authors, the programmes of public meetings, the written communications of the Spiritual Assemblies, and, in short, all the means of proclamation to express this teaching and to explain its necessity and importance, so that the Baha’is are always aware and alert in this regard. However, they do not limit themselves to the general and theoretical assertion of the matter, but also in practice, they are watchful of its implementation by individuals. Whenever an individual Baha’i deviates from this [principle], he/she is invited, advised, guided and asked [by the Assembly] to stop political activity, he/she is told how his/her methods differ from the Baha’i teachings and he/she is asked to express regret for having interfered in politics. If the request [of the Assembly] is not accepted and an individual insists on violating the principles of Baha’i teachings and does not abandon politics, he/she will be expelled from membership in the Baha’i administrative institutions, and he/she is removed from the community and left to God.
Many Baha’is have separated themselves from this community and have gone their own way due to their commitment to politics and insistence on [remaining on this path]. Some of them who have not intended to return have remained expelled; others, who have renounced their ways and left politics to the politicians, have returned to the community, after assurance is made of their awareness [that they have learned a lesson]. Among them, one can find individuals who accepted [membership on] legislative assemblies, which is a political job. One can find those who have become political representatives in foreign countries, and one may also find an individual who has been promoted to a ministerial position, all of whom have been expelled from the Baha’i community in the same manner and have taken their own path. Individuals can be found who have become members of political parties and started political activities in that path. The Baha’i Spiritual Assemblies have never closed their eyes to this, but have explicitly expressed that membership in political parties is in contrast to adherence to the Baha’i Faith, and have expelled members of political parties from their community and left them to God if they continued their path and refused to obey. In this respect, they have not differentiated between the parties; that is, they have considered membership in any political party equally, whether right or left, whether agreeable or opposing. For example, the Baha’is were forbidden to join the Rastakhiz Party, which, until a year ago, was considered the political ideology of the state during the powerful days of the government of the time. This insistence has reached the point where it is now certain to the Baha’is themselves and to all who know them that one must decide whether to be a Baha’i or a minister, an ambassador or a representative…, or one must choose between being a Baha’i or a member of a political party…these two contradictory paths do not merge.
However, what may need to be emphasized is that the Baha’is do not consider religion as an inherited or family matter, but rather see the belief in religions as an investigative, voluntary and personal matter. If an individual has Baha’i relatives, and, for example, his parents are Baha’is, but he personally does not identify himself as a Baha’i, does not express his belief at the age of spiritual maturity and does not register his name in the Baha’i statistical books, he is not a Baha’i. Of course, it is possible that such an individual may have been involved in politics, may have become a member of a political party, may have attained positions that are prohibited for Baha’is, such as ministerial or ambassadorship [positions] or may have worked for the political police. It is not fair to identify such individuals as Baha’is solely because at one point, one or several people in their families have been Baha’is, and to connect their activities to the Baha’is.
It should not be assumed that the purpose of expressing these matters is to acquit all individual Baha’is of any error, transgression or rebellion. Of course, with thorough research individuals may be found among them who have deviated from the right path, have gone into politics or have left their [previous] beliefs and have somehow been able to avoid losing their Baha’i administrative rights by concealing their behaviour.
But what Baha’is want people to know is that a group should not be held accountable for the transgression of one or a few individuals. For example, if four or five Baha’is can be found among the tens of thousands of Baha’is in Tehran who have acted contrary to righteousness, and, despite all the repeated insistence and warnings from the Spiritual Assemblies, they have been involved in work which can be related to politics, it would be unfair to consider this error a result of their belief in the Baha’i Faith, and to hold all Baha’is or their community’s administrative institutions accountable, guilty and at fault. Is it possible, God forbid, to accuse the noble religion of Islam of being guilty of sins because many political sinners and other sinners are part of the Muslim community?
We should pray that God Almighty will keep everyone on the straight path of justice.
The National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’is of Iran
(This is specifically for the Baha’i Community)