Baha'i News -- The Iranian Letters

Letters

July 23, 2002

PART I



* Ignorance is in all the religions

I read your article with great interest [Heechee kam nadaaran]. First of all, I don't believe you are a Moslem! Second, I think you are obsessed with what has happened to the Iranian Bahaiis (while mostly enjoy the life in western countries) while the whole Iranian people (Yes! the Moslems) are and have been killed, tortured and suffering mentally, socially and economically under this corrupt regime. In fact in Iran you are better off to be a Christian than a Moslem, at least you know they don't throw you in jail for violating your own Moslem faith values.

I feel the pain and suffering of all the Iranians regardless of their religions. I never thought the Bahaees were the only victims of this regime. Probably for every 1000 Moslems may be one Bahaee suffered or others. This is not a Moslem regime, this is a corrupt Ghangis Khan regime. You are either with them or against them.

I personally was raised as a Moslem, but my dad's best friend's (called him Amou Ustadian) children were Bahaii because of their mom ( Hooshang, Dariush, Nader, Amir), but I never thought any differently about them, despite the fact that my dad always teased their mom for being a Bahaii, since she always would ask us when we will convert! They were my best friends and I spent many nights in their home.

Yes! ignorance is a bad thing! But, don't you think that as the Moslem kids would sing not pleasant songs about the Bahaiis, the adults would do much worse to their fellow Moslem and pure Iranians, the Kurds, by burning Omar!!? Why don't you mention anything about that? Ignorance is in all the religions. Don't you think all these conservative Christians and jews are just as ignorant by ganging up against the poor Palestinians (and yes the Iranians?) How ignorant a group of people can get, to claim a country because Moses promised them? Show me the deed for the land and let's see if it holds any validity in any US courts!

My friend, to be open minded, as you claim, you can not just take one side and condemn the others! All the religions are right and have something good to offer, and I am glad that we have many choices (31 flavors.) Please do not start creating a division among our people? It is good to bring the subject up and discuss it, but before you do that, go Iran and see all the other significant problems they all face regardless of religion, then you could see that would not be on top of your agenda. See for yourself that the new generation Iranians do not think the way you portray them. They are much more open minded than those of us who have lived abroad for more than 1/4 of a century.

Be proud of your Persian culture and the land that you came from! We have offered a lot to this world including the Christianity (search under MITHRAISM). Your religion is yours and my religion (if any!) is mine. I respect the person for his character, not religious or social affiliation. FRIENDS?

Twinky Pink



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* Are many Iranians who don't practice any religion?

You peaked my curiousity with "Heechee kam nadaaran". I don't know if you'd be up for it, but I've got some questions you might be able to answer.

I'm a Bahai who is pathetically ignorant about Islam, the Muslim culture, etc. I realized after reading your letter than I've made an assumption that most, if not all, Iranians were religious, even if only culturally (if that makes sense).

But your letter basically blew that assumption out of the water! (I love it when that happens) So maybe you can be my spokesperson for the entire Iranian population : ) and tell me if there are many Iranians who don't practice any religion? Are you an anamoly of your culture??? : )

Thanks,

Mary



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* Fundamentalists squelched blossoming scientific movement

Mr. Hoveyda, [Open your eyes]

I just read your excellent article at iranian.com and wanted to mention that the only thing that you missed was the reason why the fundamentalists squelched the blossoming scientific movement. They saw it as a clear and major threat to their grip on power over the people. Think of it! their interpretation of the Quran was the law.

And then along comes a group of scientists that claim they know other 'laws' and maybe can even refute such silly notions as 'najis' by identifying such things as germs, etc. The very foundation of their power base was perceived to be under attack. They responded as they have always responded.

This pattern of behaviour has persisted to this day (the recent article on iranian.com bringing attention to the state of the Bahais in Iran [Heechee kam nadaaran]). Whatever the clergy perceive to be potentially damaging to their ability to gain, and maintain power is swiftly dealt with in the most brutal way.

Babak



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* Maybe one day I could feel welcome

Thank you, Mr. Javid, for your beautiful text [Heechee kam nadaaran].

I am a German Bahai. My father being Persian, I have always longed to visit the roots of my family. Unfortunately, I never felt I were welcome if I had. All too often, I learned about fellow Bahais being stripped their belongings, freedom or lives.

Your article made me feel that maybe one day I could after all feel welcome!

Before I end my letter, though, I want to expound on one thing or the other which came to my attention in several readers' comments.

1. The Bahai celebrate Naw-Ruz, the form of the feast is simpler than the traditional form, though.

2. The Bahai have a number of holy writings, central of which are the Kitab-I-Aqdás and the Kitab-I-Iqán. These writings are not mere copies of the Quran (Trust me! I would have noticed.) but have strikingly new ideas like abolishing clergy (why else would we have been considered a threat by so many religious leaders in the last 150+ years).

3. The Bahai-Faith is 159 years old.

Thank you!

Rouven Bashir-Elahi



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* Cheh saadeh gofti

Dear Jahaanshah, [Heechee kam nadaaran]

As a child my father prohibited me from playing with my Bahai friend; he used to say "inhaa sage engelis hastand..." ("They are British dogs..."). Two of my very best friends are Bahai, my CPA is Bahai -- they have never talked about their religion to me.

I agree with you 100%. I am against all religions, but human rights is a different thing. Your words went right through my heart. Cheh saadeh gofti.

Mahnaz from Seattle




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* Through Bahaullah embraces the truth about Muhammad

I want to thank you for your comments on the Bahais and the way they are being treated [ Heechee kam nadaaran]. I was born and raised in New York and have been here 54 years. I come from a Roman Catholic backround and embraced the Bahai Faith 26 years ago. Through Bahaullah I came to recognize and embrace the truth that Muhammad was a prophet of God. As a Christian I didn't have a clue about Islam.

Every other Bahai in the world that originally came from a different backround now also accepts Muhammad! How strange it is that the Bahais are treated this way. I know Muhammad never taught this behavior and I wasn't even a Muslim! I wonder whose behavior is more acceptable to Muhammad, yours or those who persecute?

Cordially,

Vito Benenati



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* Re-examine personal beliefs and prejudices

We put our magnifying glasses against the issues of the society and find social issues that bug us, lots of them and of all sizes [Heechee kam nadaaran]. If we follow these metaphorical bugs and use our noses to find the source of the infection, we often come across one single metaphorical freezer door being left open, totalitarianism of the state. In a free society where there is respect for the rights of minorities, such minorities can wield their constituency swords to obtain their rights.

In totalitarian states such as ours however, religion plays a significant role (in our case Mullaism has played the role for the last 500 years or so i.e. since the Safavite Dynasty the fathers of Mullaite rule in Iran) and religious autocracy has gone hand in hand with the political one. Here the state shapes the beliefs of the society (or at least tries very hard to do so) and not the other way round.

In a Mullah dominated society, Bahaies have been the victim of one single Islamic belief and that is "Islam is the final religion and Mohamed the final prophet". Now that the Iranian people are beginning to wake up, and fight for the true separation of religion and the state perhaps they will begin to re-examine their personal beliefs and prejudices and one would hope that they would drop any belief which breaks their unity with Bahaies, Christians Jews, Zoroastrians or infact any other cultural or religious minorities.

Oh yes, lets not forget Agnostics and Atheists if in fact they are still the minority! It might sound too Utopian, and perhaps some day it will happen, we as a nation can transform ourselves and then we will transform our society. So get cracking.....!

Ramin Tork



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* Just a harmless Bahai

I just wanted to say thanks. I am not Iranian, but I am Bahai, and someone emailed me your article [Heechee kam nadaaran], and I enjoyed it very much. First of all, you have a refreshing writing style. And of course, I think it is extremely important for non-Bahais to be reminded that the faith I belong to is pretty darn harmless. People don't have to like us or respect us, but at least acknowlege us as fellow human beings with rights!

Love and Peace and all that other "goody goody" stuff,

Laureen Evans
Just a harmless Bahai



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* It's a sign

dear mr. jahanshah javid,

your article/ letter in iranian.com about the bahais was forwarded to me as well as to many persian (and non perisn) bahais all over the globe [Heechee kam nadaaran]. i was impressed to know that someone in iran who isnt a bahai is even talking about us. i hear a few years ago, just the word bahai was avoided like the plague. it's a sign that changes are taking place in the birthplace of the bahai faith.

its also impressive that you are such an open minded person as to believe that human rights should be given to all humans, even when the humans in question are bahais. to answer your question on "why do you treat bahais so badly?" the answer is quiet simple and is even found in the bahai teachings. "we must be lovers of light no matter from what lamp it apears. we must be lovers of the rose no matter in what garden it blooms. we must be seekers of truth no matter from what source it comes. attachment to one lamp can prevent us from appreciating the light when it shines in another. attachment to the outer forms and practices of religion can deprive us from understanding the truth of all religions. we must abandon prejudice and outmoded traditions if we are to succeed in finding the truth.

there is a difference between dogma, superstition and prejudice on the one hand, and truth on the other. if we understand this, we will be able to see that the Divine light of Truth shone in all the Manifestations of God - in Krishna, Moses, Zoroaster, Buddha, Jesus, Mohammed, the Bab and Bahaullah.

in seeking the truth we must free ourselves from all our opinions and preconceived ideas. we must give up our prejudice and trivial notions. an open receptive mind is needed. if our cup is full of self, there is no room in it for the water of life. the fact that we think we are right and everyone else wrong is the greatest obstacle in the path to unity, and unity is necessary if we are to reach the truth, for truth is one."

so if one wants to know whether the bahais are right or wrong, one needs to empty one's mind from preconceived ideas and cleanse one's soul of prejudice. likewise, if you want iran to be recognized as a great nation and part of the global village and the 21st century, you shouldnt make such racist comments like the one you made about Prophet Mohammad being an arab.

for despite being an arab, he was a great man of God, a mesenger of God who brought a great religion. islam, its culture and teachings were the basis on which the western civilization is now built. if only all muslims would free themselves from prejucices and preconceived ideas put into their heads by religious and "spiritual" leaders whose purpos has nothing to do with that of God, they will see all religions in their true and pure form. they will realize that it is the way to bring about love, peace and unity to the human race.

i will give you a url for a message sent by the international governing body of the bahais to all the religious leaders of the world. i hope this gives you an insight on what the bahai faith calls for. and what made it spread to each and every corner of the earth wasnt because it started in iran, its beacuase it embraced all races, religious backgrounds, ethnicities, and colours. prejudice gets no one any where and the proofs are out there for all to see. the url is in farsi too.

yours,

manar hassan



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* Thanks for thinking of my brothers and sisters

I am a Bahai in Washington, U.S.A. Northwest. I was a Methodist till I read the writings and spoke to people in Germany, as a Fulbrighter in 73-74. I joined the Bahai Faith because it's tenents said, serve the world, be a good person and remember, men and women are equal in the sight of God. Justice is a big one in the Bahai Faith. IT is right up there with gender equality.

Anyway, as a school teacher in a high school, I have seen the need for spirituality and virtues to help people get along. After 33 years as a teacher of German, French, Russian, multi-cultural studies and ESL, I have seen thousands of kids who really need a spiritual basis to their lives to give them direction and help them serve humanity.

Thanks for thinking of my brothers and sisters in Iran [Heechee kam nadaaran]. I am German-American, but mostly feel like a world ciitzen these days.

Good luck in your future endeavors and I hope you get a chance to read the writings of Bahaullah.

Sincerely yours,

Thom Rohm
Renton, Washington



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* Refreshing perspective

I'm a reporter up here in McCall, Idaho, and by trade I appreciate reading unbiased commentary [Heechee kam nadaaran]. What a refreshing perspective you have presented.

Lucia Knudson




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* Recognizing our humanity

Thank you for your July 3rd article [Heechee kam nadaaran]. Bahais, Iranian or not, consider Iran a sacred land. Mahalo nui loa (thank you very much - in Hawaiian) for recognizing our humanity.

Tuckers




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* Is it because...?

You have not listed "Payame Doost" a Persian radio from Washington D.C. Is it because it is a Bahai station?

Thank you

Alavicheh

REPLY: I don't care if it's a Bahai station or not. The station has been listed -- Jahanshah Javid




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* Writing style

I really like your writing style, and how you preseted all of the facts. [Heechee kam nadaaran]

Great job.

Bahman




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* Found Bahai Faith in Hawaii

Great article. [Heechee kam nadaaran]

Iran is a very blessed country and will be held in high esteem by the rest of the world in the future. Just think, you have, through such figures as Zoroaster, brought into being one of the worlds great civilizations, the Assyrian empire, the Sassanian kings, the monotheistic leaders like Darius, Cyrus, and Artaxerxes, who ordered the rebuilding of the Jewish temple in Jerusalem, etc, etc.. You also supplied the first believers in Jesus Christ, the three Magi, whom most Christians haven't the foggiest idea that they were Iranian Zoroastrian high priests.

I am an American of Spanish origin. I grew up in Colombia, South America and found out about the Bahai Faith years later in Hawaii. My problem was that after 6 years as an emerald miner in the mountains of Colombia, I hated anything to do with politics or religion. When I arrived in Colombia as a young American I got into a fight because I was told that America had stolen Panama from Colombia (yes we did). When I would return to the States I was told, "Hey Spic, go back where you came from!"

Not until I heard Bahais words "The earth is one country and mankind its citizens" did I find expression to my always known certainty that mankind was one, and that nationalism had to be a bridge to internationalism or else it was a dead end. When you look down from an airplane you don't see any lines between countries. The concept of the oneness of all religions ends forever the divisiveness of human religiosity and sectarianism.

Or as 'Abdu'l-Baha it, "Truth is but a single point, only the ignorant have multiplied it". There is only one Creator and he's not in competition with himself.(my words) As a result of becoming a Bahai, I have accepted Muhammad as a Messenger of God, and have understood the greatness of Islamic contributions to civilization. Farsi ("the sweet Iranian accents") is going to acquire worldwide acceptance as the language of a revelation destined to bring about a Golden Age of mankind as we can only dimly envision now.

Bueno, amigo, que Dios te acompa?

Dasteh shoma dar na koneh,

Hodahafez,

Manuel Jose Marcial




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* We are killing the future



Dear readers of Iranian.com,

I was appalled recently by seeing this picture (Basijis) on another iranian website Iranmania.com introducing the following article on the revolutionary guards threatening reformers in Iran: "Revolutionary Guards issue an unprecedented warning".

I first thought like many it couldn't be possible, that it was a photo trick but had confirmation that it was indeed a real photo. I am totally appalled. I cannot concieve how backward we have become. Iran is a country of contradictions. As much as I am certain that most Iranians are far from being racist, I am trully appalled to see how far this regime has gone in mixing political issues and doing everything in its power to spread feelings of hate and xenophobia in its ranks. This is truly shocking. I am half Iranian and my Grandfather fought the Nazis during World War two and spent a number of years in German Prisons and it shocks me to see that Hitlers ideology persists to this day. Politics based on hate and racisme lead nowhere but to doom.

I could continue by saying that we are the country where Cyrus the Great established the first Declaration of Human Rights and so forth but what is the use?

Jahanshah Javid wrote a wonderful piece on the xenophobia towards Bahais in Iran [Heechee kam nadaaran]. History has proven that whenever a people start blaming other nationalities for its own problems it only creats new and unpredictable problems. For more than 23 years as a Nation we have been shouting slogans against America, Israel, burning flags and shouting "Marg bar" this or that. This is not only relative to Iran but this behaviour but we as a country certainly contributed to export this to other countries like Lebenon for which I also wrote a letter in regard to a photo essay. Racial hate should be fought no matter what the reasons and nothing can justify this.

We are killing the future each time we use racial attitudes like this. We set horrible role models for the youth who are not aware of what they do.

The Middle East is the region where Three of the greatest religions were born: Judaism, Christianity and Islam. I did not mention Zoroastrianism in our country. These religions advocate tolerance, good deeds, and the rejection of evil. Yet after thousand of years this region is still divided by war and hatred.
The Islamic Republic is not a Democratic Republic. It is not a Democracy and does not advocate it. It has never advocated nor practised any form of tolerance towards neither the Iranian people which it suppresses nor towards any nation. It merely wants to live in total independance and Autharcy from anything foreign. All this pretext of attacking Israel and pretending to sympathize with the palestinian cause is just a pretext to feed the people with a potential enemy responsible for all the regimes shortcomings.

Democracy is the only way out of this mess. This Hitler salute is not just another excentricity, it is a signal. It shows that this regime does not respect anything. It is just trying to revise history to fit its own goals: Destruction of all western values including Democracy. I am not a jew nor an Israelian, I am aware of the problems linked to the Israeli-palestinian conflict, and the excesses of the Israeli government but this does not justify anyone from adopting Nazi like values and customs. By reviving the phanthoms of the past we are killing the future. Besides what does it have to do with Iran? The IRI claims to be on the side of the Palestinian people but all they want is to promote the Islamic revolution outside Iran by supporting terrorist groups like the Hamas or the Hezbollah. What they support is at most Anarchy.

We should not allow this un-iranian regime to impose its false values to our compatriots. They have mocked Iran and Iranians for more than 23 years and continue doing so.

Iranians must refer to what they have cherished the most in their history, their great poets :Saadi, Hafiz, Rumi, Ferdowsi and Khayyaam among many others. They should take pride that their poets have always celebrated tolerance, good deeds, wisdom and love. These are the true values that have been transmitted to us over the centuries. If Democracy and its values were not part of our national vocabulary, then its high time to include it in our vocabulary. If religious and racial tolerance have been wiped out of our vocabulary for the last 23 years well we have to reincorperate it in our vocabulary again.

Regards,

Darius KADIVAR

* A bit angry

I just read your July 3rd article [Heechee kam nadaaran] about the Bahais, and enjoyed it quite a bit! It was very good, albeit a bit angry.

Nooshin Zahedi



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