[Translator’s notes appear in square brackets]

[Personal information has been redacted.]


16 Aban 1358 [7 November 1979]


This is to respectfully draw to your esteemed attention that, as Your Honour is aware, at the beginning of the revolution of the Islamic Republic of Iran, the great ayatollahs directly announced through the mass media, including the radio, television and other means, that the rights of all citizens and all religious minorities, recognized or not, are protected and safe from any attack, according to the firm and conclusive verses of the Holy Quran and the chapter [which states], “There is no compulsion in [acceptance of] the religion”[1] and “For you is your religion, and for me is my religion,[2] and “Indeed, We sent down to you the Book for the people in truth. So whoever is guided, it is for [the benefit of] his soul; and whoever goes astray goes astray to its detriment. And you are not a manager over them;”[3] and that, according to the significance of these conclusive heavenly verses, they all should enjoy the same rights.

It is clear and evident that such statements made by the fully qualified Islamic mujtahids who, as stated by Imam Sadiq, are the guardians of the Faith of God, the protectors of self, the opposers of corrupt desires, and obedient to the Lord, and whose statements were based on firm and conclusive heavenly verses, cannot be made related to political gains; inasmuch as, by the grace of God, the grand ayatollahs, whose spiritual lives are based upon divine piety, will never utter a single statement contrary to the explicit text of the Holy Quran and the Heavenly Book.

Following this necessary introduction, and wishing [illegible] and welcome to Your Honour, we add that after the establishment of the Islamic government, some individuals, for the purpose of achieving their own malicious designs, took action against some wronged and innocent people, and acted in ways that were and are in no wise according to any of the standards of Islamic justice―as, regarding the methods for justice, the Lord Almighty has revealed in His blessed Sharia: “O ye who believe! Stand fast to justice, when ye bear witness before God, though it be against yourselves, or your parents, or your kindred […]. God is nearer than you to both.”[4] 

Any Sharia judge who succeeds in implementing this method of divine judgment is surely commissioned by God and has attained His good pleasure. It is evident that divine good pleasure has always been and will continue to be in the good pleasure of His people. We cherish the hope that Your Excellency, who occupies the seat of Islamic justice, and who is the viceregent of God in this station, may pay proper attention to the letter and petition of these wronged ones, and will give careful consideration to the contents of this complaint; for no attention has been given to any of the petitions that we have sent in the past to the Islamic Revolutionary Prosecutor’s Office, and they have been regarded as insignificant scraps of paper. Considering the station of your piety, grace, and theological authority, we are certain that you will not regard this letter as a scrap of paper, and that you will receive it with approval, and will issue immediate orders for the release of our innocent and wronged husbands (Esmail Zehtab [and] Yadollah Astani) who have been detained by the Islamic Revolutionary Tribunal for the past 19 days with no legal or religious permit, and without having committed any crime, and are presently in prison without visiting permission.

Your Excellency, Mr. Mousavi! God is our witness that our husbands are completely innocent of any crime and have lived the days of their lives in piety and with righteousness and have not even harmed an ant. They are sick and are under medical care and treatment, and their continued detention in prison may have fatal consequences for them. [In addition], our children are distressed and agitated by reason of the arrest of their innocent fathers. It is not justifiable that such cruelty be heaped upon two wronged and oppressed families; for the Prophet of God, Muhammad (PBUH), says: “Dominion may endure in disbelief, but it will not remain through cruelty”. And we are certain that considering these firm divine ordinances, and in view of the innocence and meekness of our husbands, as well as the distress and anxiety created for these two families, Your Highness will issue an order for the immediate release of our husbands, free from the influence of any religious prejudice.

The sighs of the oppressed have a great effect. Since Your Highness is a devoted Muslim, cleaving tenaciously to piety and [known] for manifesting the fear of God―and it is for this very reason that you are occupied with such a post at this moment in time and in this part of the country, which has a special and important position―there is no doubt that you will act according to Islamic justice, will attend to the cries and the pleas of the oppressed, and will not disappoint our hopes and those of our children.

In any case, we and our children, who have no refuge and protection other than the Almighty Lord and those whom He has appointed to implement Islamic justice, are hopeful that our petition will be heard affirmatively, and that you will attain the good pleasure of God, more than ever before.

Respectfully submitted,

Monireh Zehtab


Nayyereh Astani



[1] Quran, 2:256

[2] Quran, 109:6 [Pikhthall tr.]

[3] Quran, 39:41

[4] Quran, 4:135 [Rodwell tr.]