Translation by Iran Press Watch
Introduction (by Iran Press Watch): Baha’is have been persecuted in Iran since the Faith was initiated in 1844 by the delaration of the Bab that He was revealing a new religion which was a successor to Islam, a religion in which there was no clerical class 1. The Bab was executed in 1850. The primary reason for opposition to the Babi religion was the refusal of the clergy to accept that there could be any religion after Islam, especially one which denied their right to act as designated (and paid) interpreters of religion to the rest of the believers. This established a pattern which has been followed from then until now. Baha’u’llah in 1863 declared that He was the successor to the Bab, and reiterated the ban on clergy. In turn Shi’ite Muslim clerics developed a doctrine that Baha’is were apostates from Islam, inasmuch as all Baha’is agreed that Muhammad, the 7th century Islamic Prophet, was a Messenger of God, though they considered that He had been succeeded as God’s spiritual Teacher for humanity, first by the Bab, and then by Baha’u’llah. In the Qur’an the punishment decreed for apostasy is death. When Khomeini declared Baha’is to be “apostates”, then, he was saying that they are not protected by Islam’s laws against murder and oppression, and may be killed or oppressed with complete impunity. The second accusation, of “uncleanness”, has to do with Islamic notions of ritual uncleanness or impurity 2. In Sunni Islam, animals which are not killed in accordance with Islamic law are innately ritually impure, as are certain animals, as well as bodily fluids ‒ this means contact with them in turn will make a Muslim temporarily ritually impure, until they are able to purify themselves using certain rituals. Among Shi’ite Muslims, this has been extended to dead bodies and non-believers. Ayatollah Khomeini in 1979 issued a famous religious ruling that Jews and Christians should be protected in revolutionary Iran, but excluding Baha’is from that protection ‒ thus, Baha’is are treated as “unclean” ‒ they are not to be touched, and everything they touch is in turn not be touched, which effectively shuts them out from any occupation which has any contact with the Muslim public altogether. Later the Faith has been accused of being a creation of foreign powers: first Russia, via forged documents purporting to link the Bab to Russian agents 3. During the period of the 19th-century so-called “Great Game” competition between Russia, Britain and the Ottomans for Central Asia, Baha’is were also often accused of being British agents. The effect of this narrative became strong enough that frequently to this day, one’s political opponents could be discredited by associating them with Baha’is ‒ thus, foreign influence, which was particularly hated by the clerical class, became associated with Baha’is, who were often interested in the modernization of the country. Baha’u’llah was exiled from Iran; eventually, at the request of Qajar Persia, He and His family were sent to the prison city of Akka in then-Ottoman Palestine. Baha’u’llah died in exile, and was buried there. The location of Baha’u’llah’s burial site became the center of the Baha’i world religion and its nascent administrative organs. Subsequently this area became part of the British protectorate of Palestine, and later still, part of the new State of Israel. A nonsensical constant of Iranian clerical opposition to the Baha’i Faith is that Baha’is are, in some never-explained manner, agents of Israel. It is precisely as rational as stating that because the third most holy site of Islam is in Jerusalem, all Muslims must be Israeli agents, or that because the center of Islam is in Saudi Arabia they must all be Saudi agents. An even more far-fetched theory is that because there is support for the human rights of Baha’is emanating from United States government bodies, this (again nonsensically and without proof) must mean that Baha’is in Iran are American agents.
The Article (by anti-Baha’i site ghatreh): Imam Khomeini in 1964, in response to inquiries about the misguided Baha’i sect, said: “This sect comes from apostates and is unclean.”
According to the Daneshjou News Agency’s political group, quoting the Islamic Revolution Documents Center: since its creation, the deviant Baha’i sect has always served foreigners, including Russians, Americans, and British. The well-informed “Shi’ite Sources of Imitation” 4 who are alert and vigilant protectors of the Identity and honor of Islamic Iran (Shi’ite Islam) have always been pioneers in a continuous struggle with this political sect and with the Zionists’ fifth column (the spying arm).
In Ayatollah (Seyyed Hossein) Borujerdi’s era, at his behest, Hojjat al-Islam Mohammad Taqi Falsafi 5 disclosed the nature of this political faction. He opened a significant front against these Zionist mercenaries for the Pahlavi regime which protected the “Haziratu’l-Quds” (referring to the domed Tehran Baha’i Center). This turned into a military siege, which so to speak put a few holes in its dome.
In addition to the struggles of Ayatollah Borujerdi, Imam Khomeini in 1964, in response to the religious edict of this cherished Ayatollah about the deviant Baha’i cult, explicitly called them apostates and unclean.
Also, Imam Khomeini elsewhere, in response to the US support of the Baha’i sect, said: “Mr. (US President) Reagan says that these Baha’is ‒ poor people ‒ are calm and quiet, they are praying on their own and performing their own religious orders, and Iran has convicted them because their belief is contrary to Shi’ite beliefs. If they had not been spies, you would not have raised your voice. You are defending them because they are a favored group for you. Otherwise, we know who you are. We also know the United States. Their humanitarianism has not all of a sudden flourished for 22 Baha’is, who now, as they call it, have fallen captive in Iran; all of a sudden they are making such a noise, shout and scream for humanitarianism and beseeching the whole world to pay attention to their plea. People know you. If we did not have a reason to suppose that they were US spies, Reagan’s defense was enough to prove it. We have no doubt that Baha’is are spies and conspirators.” 6
- See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Persecution_of_Bah%C3%A1’%C3%ADs
- See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Najis
- In Arabic and Persian, “marja’ al-taqlid“: see http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/marja-al-taqlid
- See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mohammad_Taghi_Falsafi, and also https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hojjatieh
- See http://www.nytimes.com/1983/05/29/world/khomeini-assails-us-over-appeal-on-bahais.html