[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]
[Date:] Tuesday, 5 Esfand 1376 [24 February 1998]
[Issue No.:] 14
Ayatollah Halabi, the Face of Half a Century of Mysterious Religious Thought
Since Baha’ism looked like a major issue to Sheikh Mahmoud Halabi, he formally established an institution in 1335 [1956/1957] called the Hojjatieh Mahdaviyyeh Society.
After the coup d’état of 28 Mordad [19 August], when the regime had opened the arena for the activities of the Baha’is so as to divert the preoccupations of the people who were facing an illegitimate government after the coup to an ancillary struggle, two people were attracted to Baha’ism by a Baha’i preacher. Given that they were faced with an unknown phenomenon, they spent a few months of their time studying Baha’ism. Finally, Seyyed Abbas Alavi, because of the worldly and lustful motivations that possibly Baha’is provided him with, slipped off the path and became a Baha’i, and as a prominent Baha’i preacher, he went on to write a book trying to prove it. In view of this, Mr. Halabi identified the issue of Baha’is as a big threat, and by establishing contact with the deceived individuals and finding his way into their propaganda meetings and debates and facing off with them based on his studies, he gradually became skillful in holding such debates. Mr. Mohammad-Taghi Shariati and Mr. Amirpour were among his collaborators during this time.
After that, Mr. Halabi came to Tehran and gathered manpower and relayed his information and personal experiences to them. Since the activities of the Baha’is had become very public and extensive by then, the clergy felt very threatened. After a series of successes by Halabi, he and his friends attracted the support of the clergy, and they were given permission to use the funds from the “portion of the Imam” for carrying out their activities.
The late Halabi loved Imam e Zaman (Aj) with every atom of his being. However, his interpretation of Shia thought and the meaning of expectation [of the coming of the Imam e Zaman] was very traditional and different from the newer, revolutionary interpretations. He considered the establishment of any government during the time of [the Imam’s] absence as being against religious laws. On the other hand, he defended the belief in Mahdaviyyat [coming of the promised Imam] in opposition to the Baha’is.
Since Baha’ism had come to be viewed as a major issue by Shaykh Mahmoud Halabi, he formally established an institute in 1335, called the Hojjatieh Mahdaviyyeh Society. The most important work of the Institute was to attract talented religious youth and train them to infiltrate the meetings of the Baha’is, identify them, and try to attract them. Because under the shah’s regime any kind of gathering or organization was illegal, in order to fight against the Baha’is and not be prohibited by the government, they announced that they did not interfere in politics. Gradually, this turned into a belief and creed, and after 1342  it even became a kind of objection to the Revolutionary activities. This was also taken advantage of by SAVAK. Even though some of the Revolutionaries became members of it in order to hide themselves, and many of them would also become aware of the issues after being attracted to the Society and would make a decision about their path, one can claim with confidence that the religious administration established by Mr. Halabi was one of the longest-standing and most extensive organizations at the national level in our contemporary history.