[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:] Kayhan Newspaper
[Date:] 10 Shahrivar 1387 [31 August 2008]
The Baha’i Organization and The Iranian Intellectuals
According to Fars News Agency, by studying and researching the political, economic, social and cultural developments of Iran during the Qajar era, we witness the Qajar intellectuals’ rapid and bold criticism of the perverse Babi and Baha’i sects.
Among the religious intellectuals was Seyyed Jamaloddin Asadabadi, and the intellectuals influenced by Western culture and civilization are Akhundzadeh, Talibov, Mirza Aqa Khan Kermani (although he was originally Babi Azali, but later under the influence of the West, became a serious critic of this sect). In the meantime, even the reformers of the Qajar government, such as Amir Kabir, Sepahsalar, Etezad al-Saltaneh, etc., were among those who considered the perverse Babi sect and the Baha’i sect as obstacles to Iran’s development. During the period when the independence of this land was endangered by the two Russian and British colonizers, Amir Kabir dealt severely with this sect.
During the Iranian constitutional movement, the cooperation of the perverse Baha’i sect with the Russians and Mohammad Ali Shah will never be forgotten by Iranian innovative thinkers. While the land of Iran was under the influence of foreigners, the Baha’i sect chanted the slogan of cosmopolitanism, and in order to serve the sinister goals of foreigners, challenged two important elements of the Iranian identity, which were Islam and nationalism. The first was to abrogate Islam and the latter the slogan of forming a world government.
In the Pahlavi period, the perverse Baha’i sect was severely criticized by intellectuals and even by the Westernized intellectuals such as, Fereydun Adamiyat, Homa Nategh and … others. This perverse sect has even been introduced by left-wing intellectuals, such as Ehsan Tabari and Mohammad Reza Fashahi, as the henchmen of the bourgeoisie.
But what must be noticed today is that the perverse Baha’i sect, with its missionaries, is seriously seeking to close this gap between itself and the Iranian intelligentsia. In this regard, people such as Touraj Amini, Shapour Rassekh, Nader Saiedi, and Kavian Sadeghzadeh Milani, in the field of political and intellectual history of Iran, have started a new reading of Baha’ism and are trying to gain a slice of the Iranian constitutional movement for themselves and create a role for themselves in the Iranian national identity. On the other hand, with a hermeneutic reading, they seek to reduce their distance from religious intellectuals. In fact, in their interpretations of God, man, and the Prophet, and in their relation to the modern world, they attempt to find their place among religious innovative thinkers.
It is noteworthy that today the reformists have become a tool for the perverse Baha’i sect in designing such a historical reading and gaining a place in the intellectual history of Iran. Today, according to the Baha’is themselves, the reformists have shifted the Baha’i community in Iran from the margins to the centre of gravity of contemporary thought, and the reform movement and the religious intellectuals in Iran have accepted the Baha’is as members of Iranian civil society.
In this regard, Saeed Hajjarian, another reformist, in his new definition of the relationship between the nation and the state, analyzes the Baha’i community in Iran, and believes that the improvement of relations between the Baha’is and the state can only be achieved in a secular society. He believes that these relations can only be improved in the shadow of human rights and civil rights, not in the light of Shiite jurisprudence. In this regard, Hassan Yousefi Eshkevari, one of the other reformists, even criticizes the fatwa of Ayatollah Montazeri, who also, within the same Shiite jurisprudential context, firstly, does not consider the Baha’i as a religious minority, and secondly, deprives the Baha’is of their fundamental rights and confers only citizenship rights on Baha’is and expresses hope that in the future, when younger clergymen take the lead, this problem of the Baha’i community of Iran will be solved. Therefore, from Hasan Yousefi Eshkevari’s point of view, one of the main obstacles to the acceptance of the Iranian Baha’i community as a member of the Iranian civil society is Shiite jurisprudence.
Ahmad Ghabel, another reformist, believed that with the change in Shiite jurisprudence, by eliminating the common sensitivities of the society towards the Baha’is, correcting Iranian society’s view about the Baha’i’s foreign dependencies, the means for acceptance of the Baha’i community in Iran as a member of Iranian civil society will be provided. Ahmad Zeidabadi, another reformist, offers suggestions for the acceptance of membership of the Baha’i community in Iranian civil society: 1- eliminate the sensitivity of high-ranking Shiite clerics to any sympathy or defense of the Baha’is; 2- clear Iranians’ views about the Baha’i community’s dependence on Russian, British, and American colonialists, especially Israel; 3- create effective factors, first, to change the views of high-ranking Shiite jurists, and second, in the regime of the Islamic Republic of Iran; 4- based on the new era’s principles of nation-state relationship, a new definition of the relationship between the Baha’is and the state can be achieved, in the framework of which, the Baha’is will achieve their fundamental rights and citizenship rights.
But the goals pursued by the Baha’i organization through the reformists are: 1- the issue of Baha’ism should be removed from the agenda of the marja’-i-taqlid [Religious Jurisprudence] authorities and the clergy; 2-provide the ground for the acceptance of the Baha’i community as a member of Iranian civil society; 3- the issue of Baha’ism should be removed from the agenda of the intelligence-security organization and become a purely cultural and social issue; 4- deleting the historical record of the Baha’is who served the colonialists and turning them into ordinary citizens; 5- today, one of the important goals of the Baha’i organization through the reformists within the Iranian society is to enter into the issues of human rights and civil rights, which is currently the only way for the Baha’i community of Iran to enter the Iranian civil society, and it is precisely in this direction that the role of people like Shirin Ebadi is highlighted; 6- another important goal of the Baha’i organization is that it is not necessary for the Iranian people to become Baha’is on a large scale in the early stages, but it is enough to accept the Baha’is alongside other members of Iranian society. Is this role left to the reformists today?
The last point is whether today the reformists are the hidden layers of the Baha’i organization, meaning their supporters under the pretext of human rights and religious freedom.