[PROVISIONAL TRANSLATION FROM PERSIAN]

 

[Translator’s notes appear in square brackets]

[Personal information has been redacted.]

 

The Media Statement[1] of the Baha’i Community of Iran

 

As many of our dear countrymen are aware, at times, there are false and misleading statements published in the mass media regarding the Baha’i Faith. Certain terms such as the “Heads” or “Leaders of Baha’ism” may be used but this reflects the uninformed nature or the intentions of the writers to misrepresent the administrative structure and the manner of organizing the affairs of the Baha’i community.  Given that such titles and positions do not exist within the Baha’i community, we want to bring to the attention of our dear countrymen, particularly the authors who have high professional standards and who wish to write their reports with accuracy, the following essential explanation.

Fundamental to the Baha’i World Community structure is the absence of any spiritual or administrative position, in which the holder would be more powerful, influential or have more authority, than other members of the community.  Spiritual stations as exist and are customary in other religions, and which provide special privileges to their holder, absolutely do not exist in the Bahá’í Faith.  This is because the Baha’i Faith does not have a hierarchy and, in particular, does not have a clergy class.

The fundamental belief of the Baha’i Faith is the “oneness of humanity,” which means that all individuals have equal rights as members of the community and each person provides their share of service to their fellow human beings across the globe regardless of nationality, race, belief, poverty or wealth, and according to the level of their capacity, ability, and interest.

It is appropriate to provide a brief explanation here regarding the administrative order in the Baha’i community.

We can look at the Baha’i administration structure as a pyramid, the base of which is all of the members of the community.  Wherever they reside, whether in a village or city, when the number of Bahá’ís in their community, above 21 years of age, reaches more than nine, these members will  elect, in a secret ballot, and without any campaigning, nine people from among themselves to form  their Local Spiritual Assembly for the duration of one year.  Each assembly then has independence within its local jurisdiction, and through consultation, implements programs appropriate to the local community in matters such as moral education, vocational training and education, culture, health, charitable activity, and the advancement of the conditions of the community and assistance to the community members.

 

The next level of the pyramid, in each country, is the National Spiritual Assembly, whose members are, once again, elected for one year from among all Baha’is with voting rights (above 21-years-old) in that country, through secret and free ballot and without campaigning and nominations, representing various areas.  The National Spiritual Assembly of each country is in general, responsible for the guidance, coordination and progress of the affairs of the Faith in the country.

The next level of the pyramid is the “Universal House of Justice,” whose nine members are elected by the members of the National Spiritual Assemblies through secret and free ballot and without propaganda and nominations from among the members of the Baha’i community around the world for a term of five years. (Three-level elections)

The individual members of the local or national assemblies, or the Universal House of Justice, have no privileges or special authority as individuals.  Their administrative strength is in their united decision making and implementation of the duties listed above.

The above is an accurate, if brief, explanation of the Baha’i spiritual principles and the administrative order of this Faith.

When some uninformed persons propagate what could be seen as slander and falsehood, particularly in the mass media, by using the terms “Baha’i Heads and Leaders” ,they perhaps wish to attain to the following goals:

 

  1. To pretend to care about the vigilant and faithful Baha’i community by suggesting they have been deceived by the “Heads and Leaders”.

 

  1. Because they know that many Baha’i individuals have non-Baha’i relatives, friends, and acquaintances of other faiths who are familiar with the beliefs, way of life, and manners of the Bahá’í community. Any falsehood and slander directed against the whole Bahá’í community, would not be accepted by these knowledgeable and fair countrymen.  So the slanderers make the imaginary positions of the “Heads and Leaders” the subject of their slander instead of the whole community.

We therefore humbly request that our thoughtful and fair countrymen who may not have an accurate and reliable picture about the beliefs and ideas of Baha’is, especially their wishes and efforts toward achieving the “unity of humankind,” to enquire for themselves, by directly contacting their Baha’i countrymen and considering their thoughts and beliefs.  By asking, they will find out the inaccurate and unjust statements that have been made by some of the uninformed writers and speakers, and those who have false or incomplete information.

We can only hope for relief from some of these injustices from anyone who becomes adorned with justice, knowledge, and moral courage

 

[1] [Published before 13 March 1981]