[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:] Iran-e Emrooz

[Date:] 5 Shahrivar 1395 [26 August 2016]

 

The Murder of Aminol-Olama Ardabili and the Murder of Ataollah Rezvani

Author: Mohammad Arasi

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The purpose of this article is to compare the judiciary resulting from the Constitutional Revolution with the judiciary created after the Islamic Revolution of Ayatollah Khomeini. In this comparison, instead of writing a lengthy analysis, I will briefly describe the murder of two Iranian Baha’is, Aminol-Olama Ardabili and Ataollah Rezvani, and leave the judgment to the awakened and justice-seeking reader.

1- About Aminol-Olama:

Mulla Abdul Azim, nicknamed Aminol-Olama, was a humanitarian and modern cleric, who, in the turbulent Qajar environs, was working hard to preserve the constitutional achievements, public progress, and enlighten the minds of the people of Ardabil.

He attached great importance to public literacy, especially the education of Ardabil girls, and endorsed and encouraged the wealthy and the constitutionalists of the city to build modern schools. Aminol-Olama was a staunch supporter of women’s liberation and opposed to any restrictions that reduced a woman to a man’s obedient servant.

He advocated new ideas, promoted religious tolerance, and strongly condemned any bigotry and sectarianism that led to sectarian-religious warfare.

Aminol-Olama, like other Iranian and Caucasian intellectuals, strongly opposed the destructive influence of the clerics as well as the tribal agitators, and spared no effort to dismantle their destructive power. In fact, while Reza Khan was serving in the army sub-division of Ardabil, it was Aminol-Olama’s modernism and progressivism that attracted Reza Shah. This led to a lasting friendship between the two great men.

Prominent National Figure, Baba Safari, Writes About Aminol-Olama:

“His name was Mulla Abdul Azim. His fellow citizens, and in general, everyone who dealt with him, knew him by the name of Aminol-Olama [the trustee of clerics]. He was a talented and humorous man who took care of the disputed matters between the people, and like the owners of the current notarial offices, he made his living by writing the clients’ transactions. At noon and evening he led congregational prayer in one of the largest mosques in Ardabil, and sometimes went to the pulpit to preach.

“Unlike other preachers, he mostly made humorous speeches, thus expressing things that others found it difficult to say, and for this reason, his listeners and those sitting at the pulpit were often, like him, delicate and witty… in Tehran and Tabriz, Aminol-Olama was acquainted with people and elders and was loved and respected. One of his friends was His Honour Ashraf, the Sardar Sepah, who knew him long before the coup and after reaching the position of army leadership of Iran, he maintained his relationship with him.” (1)

These enlightening activities of Aminol-Olama and the position he had gained socially, angered Mirza Ali-Akbar-Agha, the religious authority of Ardabil, who was considered one of the most authoritarian anti-constitutional and anti-modernist mullas. This anti-liberation and anti-progressive religious leader had built an iron wall around Ardabil and its suburbs 75 years before Khomeini’s Islamic Revolution, and ruled over them in the name of the Guardian of Muslims.

From Ardabil, the historian Baba Safari writes further about him:

“He was an intelligent, clever and seemingly simple man, who considered himself as the religious ruler. In the face of this power, he despised everyone and did not refrain from any legitimate action in humiliating the people of honour... His greatest sin was that he imagined that all by himself he could stop the scientific progress of the world in this region of the earth or build a strong fence around Ardabil and prevent it from the influence of the new civilization… The enemies of Mirza Ali-Akbar Agha were intellectuals and freedom seekers… They collected money and established a school, and they―the common people of the Agha’s disciples―by the order of the Agha, beat the teachers with sticks and dispersed the students… (2)

“…It is natural that the presence of a modern cleric such as Aminol-Olama would not be tolerated and [the Agha] would find ways to reject him and was waiting for an opportunity to pour his poison into Amin’s life. This golden opportunity came when the news of the change of the belief of Aminol-Olama and his conversion to the Baha’i Faith spread from point to point, everywhere, and shook Ardabil and its suburbs. It was then that Mirza Ali-Akbar Agha accused him of apostasy and declared that shedding the blood of Aminol-Olama was permissible.

Haji Agha-Bala Baghghal, a fanatical follower of the cleric Mirza Ali-Akbar, carried out the directive of his supreme leader.

On the dark night of 6 Farvardin 1366 [26 March 1987], the noble cleric Aminol-Olama was martyred with the stab of a dagger in his chest.

But the military judicial system of the first Pahlavi, which was more or less influenced by constitutionalism, did not allow the killer to escape justice. Agha-Bala Baghghal was arrested soon after, and during the interrogation he claimed that he had carried out the order of his marja’-i-taqlid[1]; that is, he was not guilty of anything. On the other hand, there was a general outcry from the masses and the clergy of the region that Agha Bala was a religious fighter for the sake of God and because he had killed a Baha’i, he must be released. But all these reactionary efforts were in vain. By the order of Reza Shah, General Amir Ahmadi from Tehran had strict control over the events in Ardabil. He left the trial of the murderer to the officials of the army in the City of Ardabil and ordered the exile of the cleric Mirza Ali-Akbar Agha.

Agha-Bala was tried and sentenced to execution, which was carried out immediately. On the other hand, despite the general strike in Ardabil and its suburbs, Mirza Ali-Akbar Agha was also expelled to Zanjan. More interestingly, as the mullas prevented the burial of the body of Aminol-Olama from being buried in a Muslim cemetery, the army took charge and buried his body in the place where the famous Safavi High School was built later on.”

2- About Ataollah Rezvani:

According to the information provided, Ataollah, a 53-year-old resident of Bandar Abbas, had been a polytechnic student who been expelled from that college for being a Baha’i. He was a member of the Bandar Abbas Khademin [group who served the community] and took care of the affairs of his co-religionists in Bandar Abbas.

Many years ago, he had written a letter to Gholam-Ali Naimabadi, the Friday prayer leader of Bandar Abbas, warned him against provoking the Baha’is, and asked him not to allow religious strife to be created among the people, depriving the society of its comfort.

On 2 Shahrivar 1392 [24 August 2013] (that is three years ago), Ataollah Rezvani left home, and then his lifeless body was found with bullets in his skull; the body was handed over to his family.

In the three years since the murder of this innocent Baha’i:

1- Judicial authorities of the Islamic Republic have not allowed a funeral service for Rezvani.

2- The police officer in charge of the victim’s case abandoned the investigation and refused to respond to Rezvani’s family’s questions.

3- Javid Amani, the case investigator, put pressure on the Rezvani family to withdraw the case by taking a ransom from the government.

4- Karim Mirzaie, the caretaker, who knew about the subject, has been killed.

5- Navid Aghdasi, Ataollah’s cousin, was summoned to the court because he had given an interview about Rezvani’s murder.

6- Kourosh Rezvani, the son of the victim, who has been pursuing the case of his father’s murder, has been severely pressured by the judiciary of the Islamic Republic, and by the order of Hassan Zandi, the head of the Public Places Supervision Office of Bandar Abbas. His optical shop in Bandar has been closed and sealed.

Now judgement is with you as to where we were and to where we are now.

[Persian Poem][2]

2 Shahrivar 1395 [23 August 2016], Texas

Sources:

1- Baba Safari - “Ardabil in the Passage of History” - Fifth speech

2- Ibid

 

[1] [Marja’-i-Taqlid:  Religious Jurisprudence Authority]

[2] [Divan Hafez: The original text is as follows:]

" کاغذین جامه به خونابه بشویم که فلک                رهنمونیم به پای علم داد نکرد"