[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:] Rasekhoon

[Date:] 25 Shahrivar 1395 [15 September 2016]


7- Active Baha’i Elements in the Cultural Area

Written By: Maryam Sadeghi

1-Lily Ahi

One of the Baha’is who played an important role in education and culture was Lily Ahi (Ayman), the daughter of Majid Ahi. She was born in 1308 SH [1930] and was the wife of the famous Baha’i, Iraj Ayman, the technical advisor to the General Directorate of Studies and Programmes of the Ministry of Defence. She was the founder of the section for publishing children’s books in Persian, at the invitation of the Book Translation and Publishing Company, and also a member of the Elementary Textbook Review Group, at the invitation of the American Franklin Institute.

After a trip to the United States, and having passed a special course, Lily Ahi was the technical secretary and technical advisor of the Ministry of Education, and founder, member and secretary of the board of the Children’s Book Council from the beginning of its establishment in 1341 [1962/1963] to 1359 [1980/1981].

The main task of this council was to study children’s literature; selecting the children’s yearbook was one of its tasks. During this time, at the invitation of the Department of Pre-Primary [Kindergarten] Affairs, she taught kindergarten literature to kindergarten teachers. In collaboration with a British psychologist, she also set up an institution called the Office of Vocational Guidance and Training Services, as well as classes for training tutors.

2-Mehri Ahi

In addition to Lily Ahi, her sister Mehri Ahi was also very active in the cultural field and participated as a representative of Iran in many international forums. She was: A professor at the Faculty of Literature, University of Tehran in 1344 [1955/1966]; one of the founders and vice president of Rah-e Noo [New Way] Society in 1334 [1955/1956]; one of the founding members and the first secretary of the International Commission of the Supreme Council of Iranian Women; the representative of Iran in the conference on women’s rights organized by the United Nations in 1336 [1957/1958]; a member of the Iranian delegation to the UN Commission on the Status of Women in 1341 [1962/1963], and the head of this commission in 1343 [1964/1965]. She was the founder of the Book Association and the head of its library in 1336 [1957/1958] and was also a member of the Advisory Board for Book Guide and the Book Review Group of the year.

3- Ali-Akbar Foroutan

Another active Baha’i in the field of culture and education was Ali-Akbar Foroutan. He was the son of Mohammad-Ali Foroutan and was born in 1281 [1903] in Sabzevar. Foroutan is an author of educational books and has prepared educational booklets for children, adolescents, young people and beginners and has provided them to the Assembly [of the Baha’is]. The Baha’is, who had infiltrated all educational and cultural spheres, tried to propagate and attract Muslim youth to the Baha’i Faith with the help of university officials.

Among the Baha’is who had a great deal of influence in the universities, we can mention Dr. Zabihollah Ghorban, Houshang Seyhoun, Engineer Ghasem Eshraghi, Dr. Houshang Nahavandi, Parviz Taslimi, etc.… we will introduce some of these Baha’i elements below.

4- Zabihollah Qorban

One of the most influential Baha’is in the university is Dr. Zabihollah Ghorban, who was a Baha’i of Jewish descent and was educated at the American University of Beirut. In the section on removal of the hijab, we introduced Dr. Ghorban as one of the promoters of the removal of the hijab. Dr. Ghorban was the most powerful man in Fars Province and the president of Shiraz University; even the governors of Fars, who were chosen from among those close to the [royal] court, could not confront him. Apart from being the president of Shiraz University, he also held fifty jobs and key positions in this province.

5 Abbas Amanat

In addition to Yarshater, another Baha’i who is one of [Ehsan] Yarshater’s senior associates and an active Baha’i-affiliated cultural figure in compiling the Encyclopaedia Iranica is Abbas Amanat. He was born in Iran in 1326 [1947] and in 1971, coinciding with the year 1348, he received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Tehran and then continued his education at the University of Oxford, receiving a doctorate in 1981. It is worth mentioning that in one of his articles in [Encyclopaedia] Iranica, entitled “Intellectual Backgrounds of the Constitutional Revolution”, he clearly praised the role of Babism and Baha’ism at this time.

6- Parviz Taslimi

Another prominent Baha’i in this field is Dr. Parviz Taslimi, son-in-law of Ezzatollah Alaie (one of the Baha’i leaders). He is a chemical engineer from the University of Tehran who was the president of Gondishapur University in the second half of the reign of Mohammad Reza Pahlavi.

7- Ghasem Eshraghi

Another Baha’i who can be mentioned in this field is Ghasem Eshraghi, a professor at the Faculty of Architecture. He was educated in Germany and France, was the deputy CEO of the Planning Organization during the presidency of Abol-Hasan Ebtehaj, and minister of posts and telegraphs in the cabinets of Razmara, Hossein Ala and Manouchehr Eqbal.