[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]
[Adapted from website:] Official Website of Abdol-Hamid Masoumi-Tehrani
[Date:] 13 Shahrivar 1392 [4 September 2013]
News: Meeting With a Group of Baha’i Compatriots
Yesterday evening Professor Masoumi Tehrani met with a group of Baha’i activists in the country.
During the meeting, which took place in the professor’s office, he listened to the audience and expressed his views on the plight of the Baha’i minority and the continuing violation of their rights.
At the beginning of the meeting, one of the participants addressed the issue of the brutal murder of a Baha’i citizen in Bandar Abbas in recent days, noting the lack of strong will on the part of law enforcement authorities to follow up on the incident.
Professor Masoumi expressed in this regard,
“The horrible and cowardly murder of the late Baha’i compatriot Ataollah Rezvani is unfortunate and deplorable, and personally, in turn, I offer my condolences to his family, friends and all his co-religionists, especially you dear ones, who took the trouble and have thought to come to see this lowly one. I hope with the spread of rationalism and the avoidance of blind religious prejudices in Iranian society, we will no longer witness such horrific events, and of course I hope one hundred times that the authorities will identify the leaders and perpetrators of such crimes and punish them, because if such inhumane crimes are not stopped, apart from the fact that it tarnishes the image of the relevant authorities in the thoughts of the world, it will cause other leaders and perpetrators to act with impudence.”
As the meeting went on, the participants described the deprivation of many of their citizenship rights, including the right to education and the right to employment and described [how they had experienced] the inquisition of their beliefs. Then, referring to the numerous and organized security and law enforcement crackdowns on the Baha’is, they complained of the government outsider’s view about the citizens of this section of the nation. They talked about the roots of these conflicts in the view of the government is the principles of this religion, and pointed out the narrow-minded attitudes towards the followers of this religion, while they act fully in accordance with the laws and established principles of legality and morality. They noted that even Islam has mentioned that people are free to choose any religion. In addition, they pointed out that we are all Iranians before being Baha’is, Muslims and Christians, and that we are all interested in our country, and we have shown this throughout history.
After these remarks, in response to this discussion Professor Masoumi Tehrani pointed out that,
“Iran is a country composed of different ethnicities, religions and faiths, all of which together have created and will create the Iranian nation. We must learn that Iran does not belong to a particular class or ethnicity, religion or faith; it belongs to all Iranians, and individuals cannot and should not be deprived of basic human and social rights due to their faith, religious and ethnic affiliations. Man is a treasure within, and his life and soul are revered. A person who has not plundered [property] or violated the individual and social rights of others cannot be harassed just because he has another religion.
“I do not know the exact thoughts and beliefs of the Baha’i Faith; but the debate over the right or wrong of religions or their misguidance or guidance is a lengthy debate that basically has had no results throughout history and has only resulted in killing of one’s kind.”
... He further mentioned,
“Everywhere on this earthly planet, the followers of every religion and creed—even the cow worshippers of India—consider their religion to be right, guided and correct, and the rest as misguided. The [sayings] of the medieval centuries that ‘I am guided and my religion is absolute truth and the rest are absolutely misguided and ungodly’, have no place in today’s age of communication and the global village, and they are irrational. A person who has not violated the life, honour and dignity of others, and is not doing so, should be respected no matter what religion he believes in. I do not think that in the present age, there can be more misguided thoughts than these [mindless], extremist Muslims who kill [casually] in the name of God, the Quran and the Prophet of Islam. In my opinion, that thought, religion and belief is misguided that deprives others of world comfort and security, and does not value human life; otherwise, arguing, accusing and fighting over the difference between right and wrong with each other throughout history, has had no other results except shedding each other’s blood and killing one’s own kind.
“I am a Muslim, and according to my religious principles I do not accept Baha’ism; give dozens of reasons and I do not accept it; I give you dozens of reasons and you do not accept mine. That much difference is natural. Problems arise when we become infected with absolutism mixed with blind prejudice in our religiosity; absolute right, absolute wrong; absolute truth and absolute falsehood; absolute guidance, absolute misguidance; this is where the religious shop gets established, and at the end it leads to takfir [cursed for committing apostasy] and fighting clubs, axes and swords. Well, is not it better to learn from historical experiences and―instead of attacking each other, indulging in absolutism and accusing each other―[choose to] live together, respect our human rights, and turn our attention to human dignity??”
Professor Masoumi Tehrani finally ended his speech by saying,
“I have understood from my research into the three religions of Judaism, Christianity and Islam that the message and summary of the teachings of these religions is that we do not harass each other, nor oppress nor plunder [property] nor violate each other’s rights; now we are free to pray to God in any language we want. Tomorrow, on the Day of the Resurrection, God Himself knows how to treat His servants, but I am sure that God will not send anyone to heaven or to hell just because one is a Muslim or a Christian or a Jew or a Zoroastrian or a Baha’i, and so on. He rewards or penalizes according to one’s behaviour, whether he has done injustice to his fellow human beings or not...
“I hope that one day in this country, women, men, Shias, Sunnis, Zoroastrians, Christians, Jews, Baha’is and even atheists will have equal rights and dignity; it is in such a society that talents flourish and the country becomes strong. Fortunately, of course, this happy event in Iranian society is expanding and institutionalizing, and God willing, it will increase day by day. May God bless the end of all of us and grant us the right to live and die as human beings, so while we live this mortal life, we do not oppress and persecute our fellow human beings, and to whatever religion and belief that we adhere, let us love, be affectionate and lend a helping hand to each other.”