Baha'i News -- The Iranian: Letters August 22, 2002 (Part III) LETTERS

August 22, 2002

Part III
See Part I
See part II


*

I read with interest several of the letters regarding the Bahais. It is amazing how blatant falsehoods have come to be taken as fact by some of the letter writers. One writer characterizes the Bab as "progressive," and Baha'u'llah as "narrow-minded." If that is the case, how is it that Baha'u'llah teaches elimination of racial and religious prejudice, gender equality, consultation, no clergy, a world federation, moderation, and avoiding contention? The accusations about the Bahai Faith being equally the product of the Russians (during the time of the Bab), British freemasrony (during the time of Baha'u'llah), and Israel (after 1948) are themselves ludicrous on their face.

The 1930s clerical forgery known as the Dolgoruki Memoirs are one of the ongoing sources of these conspiracy theories. Bahais are forbidden by their own teachings to remove books from libraries, even if they are anti-Bahai (I am a librarian and pay attention to these things). So accusations that Bahais have managed to do this to eliminate a counter viewpoint seems far-fetched. Qurratu'l-'Ayn (Tahirih) was a Babi (which Bahais see as their spiritual heritage).

When she removed her veil, one Babi man cut his throat. He was, after all, recently converted from Shiah Islam and was affronted by the appearance of an unveiled woman. But Tahirih's intent was to proclaim the abrogation of the old religious law and the institution of a new era. The Babis did not articulate a standing principle about freedom of women; Baha'u'llah made this explicit - He wrote "Women and men are equal in the sight of God."

Throughout its history, Bahais and converts to the faith have come from all segments of Iranian society - clerics, merchants, scholars, laborers, farmers, middle class, etc. They are not primarily poor and uneducated. In fact, one of the often heard accusations is that they were all educated and wealthy. They have never been members of the Tudeh party - Bahais are forbidden by their religion to belong to political parties. If any Bahai does so, he is in danger of losing his Bahai rights.

This accusation that Bahais belonged to Tudeh was concocted around the time of the fall of the Shah to justify calling the Bahais traitors. Israel did not establish SAVAK. SAVAK was an Iranian invention created by the imperial throne. The accusation that Bahais had something to do with SAVAK is absurd, since SAVAK was instrumental in monitoring the Bahai community and working with the Hojjatiyah (Anti-Bahai) organization. Again, Bahais are forbidden to take political posts, and any Bahai who did so would have been deprived of the privileges of membership. Hoveyda was never a Bahai, although his father had been a member. Recent scholarly works on Hoveyda in English make this abundantly clear. The accusation of being a Bahai has long been a favorite way in Iran to attack one's enemies.

It is similar to the way in which people smeared reputations in the 1950s in the U.S. by calling their enemies "communists." The Bahai Faith didn't "move its center" to Haifa, Israel. Baha'u'llah was exiled successively to Iraq, Ottoman Turkey, and finally to Ottoman Palestine in 1868. Baha'u'llah passed away just north of Akko. His Shrine is the Qiblah (Point of Adoration for the Bahai world) and has been so since 1892 when the areas was ruled by Turkey, and during the British Mandate, and since the establishment of the state of Israel.

If a different regime took over Mecca, would Muslims abandon Mecca as their Qiblah? Did Muslims move their center to Mecca for some political reason, or was it always there because the Prophet Muhammad made it the Qiblah? Bahais do not tell people to convert first before they tell people about the religion. One cannot become a Bahai and be formally enrolled without demonstrating that one has knowledge of who and what one is accepting. One of Baha'u'llah's principles is the independent investigation of truth.

It applies to Bahais as much as to those who are learning about the Bahai Faith. One of the months in the Bahai calendar is called "masa'il" (questions). He calls for decisions to be made by consultation. These are strong counters to fanaticism, which is not a value or general characteristic of the Bahai community. Readers please investigate rather than repeating the same tired accusations and conspiracy theories.

William Collins

* How can a persecuted minority feel part of Iranian community?

Behzad Yamini [See letter: Penetrate major government and industry positions] wrote that "Unfortunately the Iranian Bahais even outside Iran have amply demonstrated that they do not really feel as part of the larger Iranian community and stick to their cliques and have a secretive nature with their mahfels."

One must ask how a minority that has been systematically persecuted for 158 years in Iran could feel "part of the larger Iranian community"? Moreover, there is nothing "secretive" about Bahai "mahfels." The letter-writer was referring to the Spiritual Assembly (Mahfil-i-Ruhani), the 9-member elected council in each Bahai community.

The majority of members of the 1400 such Assemblies in the United States are not Iranian. These councils guide and administer the Bahai community in every locality. The members are known. Their decisions and deliberations are communicated to the Bahai community. Those councils consult with Bahai community members to learn what the community needs. They are the shepherds of the Bahai flock. In a religion without clergy, these bodies engage in pastoral care.

All adult Bahais are electors and candidates for these councils. Regarding the use of the word "cult" - every new religion from God has also been characterized as a "cult" by those who opposed it - Islam included.

Surely readers remember the verses of the Qur'an in which God tells how the beloved Prophet's critics called Him a mad poet and His religion an attack upon the established order. One must investigate to know the true from the false. One cannot do this simply by accepting the assessment of others or holding to what one has traditionally known.

Baha'u'llah claims to be God's Manifestation (mazhar) for this time, but not the last of God's Emissaries. He has not told His followers to gather in compounds with guns; He has not told His followers to commit suicide or murder others; He has not told His followers to seize power and conquer the world with armies; He has not told them to wear strange costumes; He has not told them to abandon their families; He has not told them to give all their possessions to their leaders.

What He has done is to show forth God's attributes, reveal the word of God for today, and, through spiritual power, begun the process of tearing down the barriers between religions and peoples. The characterization of the Bahai Faith as a "cult" reveals the writers' immense ignorance of the religion about which they claim to have knowledge.

William Collins

* Thinking of the heart

Enjoyed your article [Heechee kam nadaaran]... my son sent your link to me thinking I might enjoy reading it. What can I say....? I'm a Bahai in the US... and have been a Bahai for the past 35 years.

I'm thankful for your soil which gave emergence to the Bahai Faith. I'm glad you have brought up this question of why we treat human beings (our brothers and sisters) as we do.

sPerhaps it will get some thinking of the heart started.

Sincerely,

Pat

* Why don't they care?

THIS IS NOT FOR PUBLICATION OR I WILL FIND A WAY TO KICK YOUR SUSHI-EATING ASS :)

Read your article on Bahais [Heechee kam nadaaran]. So how much hate mail did you get? Cause you sure didn't post that much of it on the site. The hateful few you did post were, not surprisingly, pathetically misinformed. And, though I'll admit I don't look at the site daily, I've never seen so many letters on one topic.

I get so frustrated with how oblivious my Muslim Iranian friends are to the Bahai situation in Iran. Why don't they care? I'm floored by how little attention the so-called dissident media in Iran pays to the issue. Heck, even the mainstream global media folks are too scared to question Iranian leaders about the treatment of Bahais.

So what you did was, seriously, brave.

Thanks,

N


* Just plain silly

I read Mr. Jahanshah Javid's article [Heechee kam nadaaran]as well as most of the letters in reply . There seems to be some some confusion with respect to Eid-e-Norooz and how it is celebrated by Bahais. The 21st of March is the first day of the new year of the Bahais caleneder.

Bahais of Iranian descent recognize this day as both a national AND religious holiday. Iranian Bahais spread their 'sofreh-haft-seen' on this day just like any other Iranian, whether he be Muslim, Christian, or Jew.

One of your commentators felt Bahais were trying to expropriate Eid-e-Norooz. This is just plain silly. Iranian Bahais are just as proud of their cultural/national heritage as any other.

Thank you.

Dr. Mehrdad Saririan
Montreal, Canada

* Everyone should be treated the exact way

i was really touched by your article [Heechee kam nadaaran]. it seems that some one cares for us out there after all. you are really brave and honest. i always thought that persian's think we are not even human; that we are some sort of weirdoes. like myself i had no future if i was still living in iran.

ok i'm a Bahai, and i believe in every religion, and i also respect them. i believe that every religion has the same symbols love, unity, peace and also i believe that all the prophet are the same, they are all messangers of god and they all say the same thing "to love one another, to respect one another". i have no idea why isn't like this?

it's not fair for us not to go to university because we are bahais, everyone should be treated the exact way.

anyway thanks again for your bravary and honesty. i'm 14-years old but i think i know a lot for a 14 year old. i hope you know what i mean.

Love,

Parisa

* Beginning of good dialogue

As a member of the Bahai Faith, I really appreciated your timely and to the point article about treatment of Bahais in Iran [Heechee kam nadaaran]. Also, I wanted to thank you for your sincere concerns about the plight of Iranian Bahais. We do respect other people's religions, social or political view and we would like to be treated with the same respect.

I specially enjoyed your article about Bahais not being bitter or not having a huge chip on their shoulder. I can say with all sincerity that I feel no malice toward others and specially toward our Moslem Friends (after-all most of us either have been Moslem or our parents or grand-parents were Moslems).

Again a note to say thanks for your concerns and may this will be a beginning of some good dialogue between us all.

Best,

Farahmand Ziari

* Guys, guys, guys!

Dear page editor.This letter is a reply to "You frustrate me". You're right on the money sister. Oooh you've stirred a hornets nest with those comments allright!.

What you complained about, what you personally experienced, what you wrote about was familiar to me.Yes there are some (I say SOME) Iranian men out there-be it in the US or in Iran-who suffer from over-inflated egos, who operate with a sense of entitlement.

They say "women belong to men, loose women are to be had, I should have a cuddle when ever and with whom ever I fancy". You tell them "buzz-off" and they take that as a compliment and they press on. "Who does she think she is telling ME off?. Every body else has had her!. I'm not Bee Orz'e. I should have her too. I don't care what she says. I must have her now. I'm the man."

Guys, guys, guys! (and a few over-sensitive dols); Don't go around tearing my limbs off.I'm an Iranian man too.I've witnessed, on more than one occasion, in streets of Tehran an unchaperoned (by definition a loose!) girl, walking down the street,being hussled by a guy who reaches out, cups a feel, shouting Okh Jun in her face, his friends loughing in delight.

Later, another talented guy further down the street runs into the same "loose" girl, casually probes her orifice using his index finger(Angulak). This time its Oof jun.I can't blame any girl feeling traumatised afterwards.

No I didn't participate in these sports.No I didn't help the girl either. Shame on me.So folks take it easy on this American(?) lady.Be fair.

Some Iranian men(again SOME) are ignorant buffuns and dererve to be called "assholes". And why is it that no Iranian woman uses that colorfull word against a deserving Iranian soul?

All women deserve respect.All are entitled to their dignity.That's ALL women whether they be American college students or Bahaiis.

Regards,

Parviz'e Shushtari


* 'O son of...

Dear Mr. Jahanshah Javid

Congratulations for your article, "Heechee kam nadaaran".

'O SON OF SPIRIT !

The best beloved of all things in My sight is Justice;

turn not away there from if thou desirest Me,

and neglect it not that I may confide in thee.

By its aid thou shalt see with thine own eyes

and not through the eyes of others,

and shalt know of thine own knowledge

and not through the knowledge of thine neighbour.

Ponder this in thine heart; how it behooves thee to be.

Verily justice is My gift to thee and the sign of My loving kindness.

Set it then before thine eyes.


-- Bahá'u'lláh (1817 - 1892)

With loving regards,


Mohiman Shafa,
Brasil.


* What's so outrageous

When I first read your letter [Ignorance in all religions] I was convinced that you had come up with a very important point: The fact that all (well, not 100% all) Iranians in one way or the other suffer under the clerical regime, not just the Bahais. You even did the math, one Bahai suffering compared to 1000 Muslims', it all made perfectly sense until I remembered a discussion that I came accross some time ago about a comparison between Stalin and Hitler and which one of the two was killed more people.

The quintessence of that discussion was that there had been one fundamental difference in the way these two men chose who was to live and who was to die. Whereas Stalin, at least most of time, made people disappear who in some way crossed his plans (obviously that is not a justification), Hitler sent people to die because of their race, no matter how they behaved. See where I'm getting at?

If an Iranian Muslim decides to to whatever it takes, to do whatever his corrupt government aks him to do, then he has a good chance to be left alone. A Bahai however may behave the exact same way as his Muslim counterpart and still end up being chastized. That's what's so outrageous about it: Just as Hitler never gave any reasons, not bad, false, stupid, hypocritical reasons, no, NO REASONS AT ALL about why six million Jews had to die, Bahais in Iran are treated differently for no reason; religion in my opinion is as much a reason as race.

Kian Ramezani


* The cure from a Divine Physician

Thank you for your article on the Bahais in Iran [Heechee kam nadaaran]. It seems you are unknowingly doing some of God's work and not giving credit to yourself( which is why humbleness is a virtue) and is very praiseworthy. Your point of view expressed is highly praiseworthy and it is wonderful to see someone who is in a position to express his views to the public via a newspaper, be so fair and kind and unprejudiced.

There is a saying in the Bahai Faith about people who are in tune with "the Spirit of the age" and act according to principles that they deem just " natural" and do not credit a higher power for giving it to them - we refer to these people as "Bahais - they just don't know it yet." The strive fo equality of woman in the world and especially in Iran, doesn't come from George Bush - it comes from Baha'u'llah's teachings - it is one of the fundamental principles in achieving unity and world peace.

The elimination of prejudices of all kinds (religious) has never been called for so strongly before in the history of mankind - who proclaimed it to the world and it's leaders and people? Baha'u'llah! Who are trying to live out according to those "new principles or commandments" - Bahais - people who come from all the religions of the world, from every race and ethnic background - we are trying to build the Kingdom promised by all the messengers of the past - promised by God. It takes hard work and be prepared to die for your beliefs - especially if you live in Iran.

We don't pick up guns and bombs and kill people to prove " our religion" is better or " our messenger" is God or his chosen one - that is why independent investigation of the truth is again one of the principles of the faith. One , that you as a writer can identify with. You wouldn't report something that you heard from someone that heard from someone 's cousin's uncle twice removed - no you would investigate it for yourself so that a fair and honest opinion and TRUTHFUL one could be assessed.

Why do people think Bahais are weird, wrong,crazy and whatever else that is said? Maybe the world is not used to equality, love, justice, investigating the truth for themselves instead of having it rammed down their throats by the all powerful clergy, the concept of unity - that we were created by One Power, that we all belong to this planet , that there does not need to be war and poverty and bloodshed.

How ironic and tragic to see the religions fighting and killing each other like wild animals yet labeling themselves to be of God's children - somehow even atheists know that if there was a God he certainly wouldn't be educating and raising his children to be doing the things they are doing today in the name of religion. Unfortunately the people who get the message from the Messengers of the past and who truly apply the spiritual principles of their particular religion are caught up in the midst of the chaos and suffer terribly.

Why is the Bahai faith made up of Muslim,Christian, Jew, Buddhist, Hindu, Zoroastrian etc - there must be something there related to Baha'u'llahs teachings and biblical prophecy don't you think - does " one shepherd one fold" ring a bell, " and in that day his name shall be One" - unity of religions - " the Earth is but One country and Mankind it's Citizens" I don't know but it seems to me that my powers of simple reasoning and intellect are telling me something. Then as I further investigate the words and the teachings my heart starts to realize things. The Big Picture just got clearer, the final piece of the Big Jigsaw puzzle suddenly just appeared. Wow - I now have a view from outside the fracas and Chaos that is ailing the world and can see the sickness clearly.

The cure is attainable for mankind through the teachings from a Divine Physician. Simple math can solve this one - it's like putting 2 and 2 together - you just have to break away from the stigma that has pervaded society - open your "eyes" and "ears" and see and hear through them through your will and not someone elses. Things always seem strange and alien to us humans when we have never seen or heard of them before but sooner or later the more we see or hear of them they no longer seem out of place but take a place in normal society - wow - just think - the more love, respect and unity that starts to take place between the religions of the world (Baha'u'llahs message) what the fruits shall be!! didn't Christ say that we shall know them by the fruits they bear ie.if they were false prophets or not?!

Oh well I guess as someone who has accepted the message of Baha'u'llah( the Glory of God) I must be crazy and weird and a lost soul. The funniest thing occurs to me every time I read in the Bible regarding Christ's second coming - there wasn't English in Biblical times - that here we are all waiting for his return to deliver us from our woes and establish God's Kingdom on Earth and we search for the " New Name " he shall have when he returns.Yet as we read in the Bible everywhereit says "

I shall return in the Glory of the Father' we read in Arabic the name BAHA'U'LLAH. But alas we are told otherwise by our priests that this is not so and are not encouraged to search for the truth and answers ourselves. Oy vey I could go on and on but I will not. I just wanted to thank you for what you have done - you have championed for the people of this world - not just Bahais - for we are simply brothers and sisters of the same world as you. Your heart must be filled with love and compassion my friend - I KNOW IT! Ya Baha'u'llabha!

Carl Schutze

PS not bad for a white South African to pronounce and speak all this Persian and Arabic stuff, hey? I look forward to seeing you on the other side.




August 22, 2002
See Part 1
See Part 2


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