A Baha’i Arrested in Babol

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Iran Press Watch has learned that a Baha’i resident of the town of Babol in the province of Mazandaran was arrested on Tuesday, April 14, 2009.

Agents of the Ministry of Intelligence went to the home of the parents of Mr. Mushafiq Samandari armed with court order instructing the search of residence and arrest of Mr. Samandari.  The search took place from 10 AM until about 11:30 AM on April 14.  In the process, the agents confiscated such items as two cases of computer materials, printer and scanner, in addition to a number of books, CDs, videos and cassette tapes.

Since an order for the arrest of Mr. Samandari was issued previously, he presented himself to authorities at 12 noon and is presently incarcerated.  It appears the charge against him stem from a private complaint by a family whose son is a friend of Mr. Samandari and the family has stated that “He is learning about the Baha’i Faith.”  Authorities in Iran consider any discussion of the Baha’i Faith to be illegal and arrest any Baha’i who has mentioned the Faith in public.

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29 Responses

  1. Mark Obenauer

    April 14, 2009 9:22 pm

    The Faith must indeed be dangerous for such strong responses to even the mention of the Faith! People in the United States hold various religious viewpoints and just discussing a religion with an adherent of another religion is not viewed as a crime. Some very aggressive or evangelistic sects are viewed with trepidation in the United States, but these door to door evangelists have a right to sell their religion, and I have the right to ask them questions about their religious beliefs. What is it that the authorities are so afraid about?

    Reply
  2. Mark Obenauer

    April 14, 2009 9:40 pm

    Luke 19:37-40 (New International Version)

    37When he came near the place where the road goes down the Mount of Olives, the whole crowd of disciples began joyfully to praise God in loud voices for all the miracles they had seen:
    38″Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!”[a]
    “Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”

    39Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Jesus, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples!”

    40″I tell you,” he replied, “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.”

    I couldn’t help be reminded of this passage from the Holy Bible. If the message of Baha’u’llah is of God, it will prevail despite oppression and stifling of its message. This is one of the signs that it is of God. The Pharisees were like the Divines have this mindset that believes that God’s arm is chained up and that everything has been finalized as far as God working in this world. So the question is that I would ask them if I were to meet one of the Eminences is if God exists at all and is His work finished? Forgive me for my brashness, but denying that God exists, yet wearing His banner angers me a great deal!

    Reply
  3. Dawn

    April 14, 2009 10:59 pm

    God is All Powerful, All-Knowing, All-Wise. He is in charge and He has a plan. NO ONE can thwart Him. His Will, will be done, “on earth as it is in heaven. People can kill others in the name of God, but they are fools, for one of His commandments is, “Thou shalt not kill.”” Do these ignorant ones honestly believe that they will be rewarded by the heavenly Father for denigrating His children. OH WHAT FOOLS THESE MORTALS BE!!!!!!!

    Reply
  4. Mohammad

    April 15, 2009 5:04 am

    From what I have learned, there is no clergy in the Baha’i religion. I think these Mollahs feel threateaned by this religion, b/c it questions Mollahs very existence. Communists were not able to get rid of Mollahs. I hope Baha’is can succeed in doing that.
    I wish them best of luck.
    M.

    Reply
  5. sb

    April 15, 2009 11:31 am

    While the Baha’is of Iran must obey their government in order to be faithful, even to the point of disbanding first, their administration, then their adjunct committees while enduring state-sanctioned persecution, they answer to a higher Authority which deems that every believer must speak the truth. The Baha’is of Iran actively teach the Faith to their neighbors. In addition, the Universal Hosuse of Justicce has assured them that no government can ever tell them how or what to pray. Abdul Baha taught us that no heart can ever be effectively imprisoned.

    Do the IRI align themselves against truth; can they oppose the revealed word of God? To what end . . .? The world already sees the end coming . . .so must they, hence these desperate measures against the helpless. Unknowingly, they commit what will assuredly elict the ultimate proof of God . . .the willingness to sacrifice everything in the name of His Beauty.
    ______________________

    “The source and origin of tyranny have been the divines…”

    God, verily, is clear of them, and We, too, are clear of them.”

    “When We observed carefully, we discovered that Our enemies are, for the most part, the divines.”

    “O concourse of divines! Ye shall not henceforth behold yourselves possessed of any power, inasmuch as We have seized it from you…”

    “Had ye believed in God when He revealed Himself, the people would not have turned aside from Him, nor would the things ye witness today have befallen Us.”

    “They (Muslim clerics) rose up against Us with such cruelty as hath sapped the strength of Islam…”

    “The divines of Persia committed that which no people amongst the peoples of the world hath committed.”

    “…The divines of Persia … have perpetrated what the Jews have not perpetrated during the Revelation of Him Who is the Spirit (Jesus).”

    “Because of you (Muslim clerics) the people were abased, and the banner of Islam was hauled down, and its mighty throne subverted.”

    “Erelong will all that ye possess perish, and your glory be turned into the most wretched abasement, and ye shall behold the punishment for what ye have wrought…”

    – Baha’u’llah

    “Erelong, we will, in very truth, torment such as waged war against Husayn (Imam Husayn) … with the most afflictive torment…”

    “Erelong will God wreak His vengeance upon them, at the time of Our return, and He hath, in very truth, prepared for them, in the world to come, a severe torment.”

    – The Bab

    Reply
  6. Diba

    April 15, 2009 7:34 pm

    Why do Baha’is have to teach in Iran? Aren’t we supposed to be obedient to our governments? Isn’t that one of our basic principles?
    By teaching the Baha’i faith and offering Ruhi study circles we are not only being disobedient to the Iranian government, but also to the Baha’i faith.

    Reply
  7. neh

    April 15, 2009 8:04 pm

    Dilba… Just as Jesus said, “Render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s, and unto God that which is God’s”, Baha’u’llah enjoins His followers to be obedient to a “just” government… no government has the right to demand that which belongs to God alone. Bahai’s will obediently shut down their organization, but they cannot be expected to deny their Faith.

    Reply
  8. sb

    April 15, 2009 8:13 pm

    Diba,

    “Observe My commandments for love of My beauty”
    – Baha’u’llah

    No one “has” to teach . . .but once one understands the Mission of Baha’u’llah in even its barest outlines, it become impossible to hold back the magnificent news. . .

    The UJH uphold the right of Baha’is to teach their Faith in Iran.

    Reply
  9. Diba

    April 15, 2009 9:18 pm

    Neh, are you saying that we only have to be obedient of a government that is just? You don’t seem know our teachings well…
    And not teaching because it is illegal does not mean that you deny your own faith.

    Sb, Baha’u’llah said that we should be obedient to our governments. We are obedient to the Iranian government when we abstain from teaching.

    Reply
  10. Mark Obenauer

    April 15, 2009 9:46 pm

    So if someone asks you about the Faith, will you commit taqiyyah and deny it? Dissimulation has been outlawed by Baha’u’llah. If you can’t deny your Faith, you also can’t deny teaching the Faith if someone asks? People are hungry for the Message. Will you deny them spiritual food (manna from heaven), when they ask for it? So if a Baha’i’ in Iran is asked a question and answers the question, is he actively teaching the Cause? And if dissimulation is against Baha’i’ law, wouldn’t a person turning a cold shoulder to someone asking about the Faith, also be denying the Faith? I would be curious how you handle this kind of situation because it is a fine line between what is right and what is wrong.

    I would feel like I would be in a quandary trying to be obedient to what Baha’u’llah said and the UHJ says in this matter. Because as far as I know, they do not contradict each other, do they?

    Reply
  11. Ali

    April 15, 2009 9:48 pm

    In my humble opinion, under the current weather conditions across the middle east, one should offer water only to the thirsty with parched lips and NOT to every passerby. This poor man was set up and now he has no computer or Internet to even help a thirsty one that may cross his path with parched lips and tongue hanging out. That’s my opinion. Some may agree and some may not. But I think we all can agree that prudence in all matters is the key.

    Reply
  12. Mark Obenauer

    April 16, 2009 12:45 am

    I think you are correct, Ali. I can relate to what happened in a sense because I understand how traditionalist religious people respond to the Faith. My parents were very traditionalist religious people, and nothing I could tell them would change their minds that the Faith is of the Devil. It got so bad I had to become inactive in the Faith. This was an obedience issue, since obedience to parents is a stricture in the Faith. My parents would have gone to great extremes (if they legally could) to destroy the Baha’i’s who taught me the Faith. They sure did everything they could to destroy these Baha’i’s reputation through backbiting and calumny. So I can imagine that teaching even those with parched lips could be fraught with hazards. It is not just the people with parched lips, but also families that can complicate matters. And in this case a possibly traditionalist family that is terrified about something they can’t understand and may perceive as a heretical cult.

    If I try putting myself in the shoes of an Iranian Baha’i’ , the whole issue is a great complex of issues. The issues one the one side of being kind to people, even strangers; and being honest about one’s identity (not dissimulating); and being obedient to one’s government. And add to this complex the Iranian society, a very close-knit family based culture, closed to new or different ideas, and you have an idea that it would be a very difficult place to be different. And an extreme kind of different would be the Baha’i’ Faith. And add onto this being a person without any government insured rights in the society where you were birthed and live.

    So what is the answer to this complex situation? This is a very tough problem that is hard for me, a Westerner, to imagine.

    Reply
  13. Glenn Franco Simmons

    April 16, 2009 3:54 am

    Mohammad,

    Although I cannot speak for the Faith or other Bahais, I do not believe that Bahais want to get rid of Mullahs or any Islamic authorities, as that would require coercion, which is forbidden.

    Bahais only desire the freedom to practice their religion. Although the Faith does assert progressive revelation and that Bahaullah answers Christian and Islamic prophecies, from my personal view, this does not mean I have a motivation to rid the world of Christians or Muslims.

    Quite the contrary. Abdul Baha and Bahaullah advocated as a founding princple of the faith the independent investigation of reality (sometimes interpreted as truth).

    This would mean the Mullahs have their own free will to determine how they believe.

    Reply
  14. Ali

    April 16, 2009 3:56 am

    I think you’ll find your answer in http://bahaiprayers.org/fire.htm I had read it several times to understand a little of it. No wonder Baha’u’llah made education mandatory. His writings are very high level. I have read the Arabic, Persian and English ones. I must confess that these tablets and prayers were not written by no ordinary human. The writers were trained by God Himself. Nothing like them has ever existed before in the history of humankind.

    Reply
  15. Glenn Franco Simmons

    April 16, 2009 4:05 am

    Ali,

    I admire your multilinguistic capabilities. I would love to read the Bahai Writings in Arabic and Persian. Thank you for the link on the Fire Tablet. It’s been a while since I read it.

    Reply
  16. Glenn Franco Simmons

    April 16, 2009 4:15 am

    Ali,

    Upon read the Tablet again, this really struck me:

    “Greed hath made captive all mankind: Where are the embodiments of detachment, O Lord of the worlds?”

    My retirement is gone due to losing my job but a huge chunk was lost in the economic catastrophe that was caused by unadulterated greed.

    Bahaullah is calling us to action in this Tablet, and it means even we will be touched by tribulation, but it is our duty to respond with joy in our hearts.

    Again, thank you for posting the link. The Fire Tablet could be read a thousand times and you could still continue to ponder its meanings.

    Reply
  17. Irani

    April 16, 2009 9:08 am

    We must remember that the Bahais in Iran have lived under these difficult conditions for the past 30 years. They are fully aware not to actively teach the faith in Iran, not to shout about their faith in the streets and so on. They know all these and they know about their faith’s rules and regulations, dos and don’ts as far as obedience to government is concerned and a vast majority follow these rules in Iran and other countries similar to Iran. However, not denying ones faith is the most basic principle of the Bahai faith (and other religions). The mullahs are just exploiting any excuse to pressurise the community and it has nothing to do with Bahais teaching their faith to the public.

    Reply
  18. Ali

    April 16, 2009 11:28 am

    Hello Glenn, no doubt this is a prophetic tablet. But I think the key to understanding it is not in reading it from the begining of the journey forward, but from the end of the journey.where at the presence of the Beloved, looking back at the events that took place all along the route. I think it encompases a trip of give or take two centuries from the begining to the end.

    Reply
  19. Mark Obenauer

    April 16, 2009 11:35 am

    Then it is possible that the mullahs are causing the Faith to be taught through their persecution of the Faith? And like the Pharisees, they are are trying to suppress the Good News, and in their earnest attempts to suppress it, the Message is getting out there anyway. It is figuratively like the stones are crying out. What a tough way to teach the Faith.

    Reply
  20. Glenn Franco Simmons

    April 16, 2009 3:24 pm

    Yes, Mark, it is incredibly tough, but look at the Apostles and what they endured. It is a birth with pain, to use a metaphor. It is the dawn of a new religion that comes with sacrifice, but don’t think that there is not discrimination in the United States. There is. Just check out the lies on various Web sites, where the Faith is degraded in assorted ways. I stay away from them, as they are spiritual poison, a spiritual disease, and I don’t need such negativity in my life. If I were not convinced of the Faith as being from God, or if I had doubt, I suppose I would read those Web sites, but I am assured by Bahaullah Himself and Abdul Baha. Their words are authoratative and anyone reading them with an open mind will see that.

    Reply
  21. Glenn Franco Simmons

    April 16, 2009 3:28 pm

    Irani,

    I’ve had Bahai friends from Iran whose families “disappeared” and I don’t know if they are on the list of the missing. I agree, they know to follow what they are directed to do, and I can’t see them teaching in public. But, if you answer a question, that could be considered a violation. Similar to Nazi Germany, where children informed on parents, although I am not comparing The Holocaust to the pogrom against Bahais, as I do not want to offend my Jewish friends.

    Reply
  22. sb

    April 16, 2009 4:18 pm

    Per the earlier discussion in this thread, Baha”is use the term “teaching” when they disseminate infomation to those who are curious to learn about the Baha’i Faith. Baha’is are forbidden to “proselytize.”

    Along the lines of what Ali mentioned, discretion is always advisable because you cannot “teach” a person who does not want to learn. This is different than “dissimulation” (a concept allowed by Shi’a belief ), which is to conceal one’s belief until a situation is more receptive or tolerant. Many religious minorities have practiced this in the past to survive.

    Baha’s cannot do this. I would also like to add that “teaching” the Baha’i Faith is more than “talking” about Baha’i Teachings and belief system.
    It requires action that speak to Baha’i principles. This has been stressed again and again in the Writings of Baha’u’llah and Abdul Baha.

    Teaching the Baha’i Faith is about how one lives the Baha’si Teachings. Please allow me to share the example a friend from Iran who told me. One night a strange man knocked on the door of a house where 40 people were gathered to celebate a family occasion. The people were mostly, but not all, Baha’i. Thoses who were not Baha’is were relatives or in-laws.

    The man who had knocked asked for a match to light the pipe he was holding. No one among the 40 people in the house could offer him a match, because they did not smoke. The man who had knocked on the door was astounded and according to my friend, only accepted that no one had a match when it was explained that almost everyone at the party was a Baha’i.

    Now that’s teaching!

    Reply
  23. Glenn Franco simmons

    April 16, 2009 6:25 pm

    In terms of proselytizing, I was accused of this because of my Blog site. Here is what I put on my blog and it’s straight from the Universal House of Justice:

    Additionally, this blog is not meant to proselytize, which the Bahá’í Faith forbids.

    The Universal House of Justice said this:

    “Proselytizing implies bringing undue pressure to bear upon someone to change his faith.”

    I think that settles the questions anyone may have about proselytizing and teaching. You may find this information in Ocean, a non-official Bahai program that you can download or use online.

    Reply
  24. sb

    April 16, 2009 8:41 pm

    Glenn – I am glad that you clarified the meaning behind “proselytize.” I looked at your site and found it uplifting.

    Mark – You are correct about “stones” . . .nothing can restrain Divine Will.

    That was the point of my story (above) regarding the party of 40 people without matches . . .it happened in Iran. . . the Baha’i were not actively teaching . . .the man was not seeking . he did not believe that no one in crowd of 40 had a match . . . but it became clear to him when he learned they were mostly Baha’is. It may seem innocuous but . . .there it is, the cleanliness of these Baha’is was made . . .apparent.

    Reply
  25. Glenn Franco Simmons

    April 16, 2009 10:08 pm

    SB, thank you for your kind compliment.

    Admin, I apologize if I am the one who took this off topice. I thought that proselytizing was in keeping with what the Bahais were arrested for and I felt a need to clarify its meaning, per UHJ. Could you send me an e-mail to let me know where I erred? Again, I apologize.

    Reply
  26. Glenn Franco Simmons

    April 17, 2009 3:11 am

    I try to stay on topic, but perhaps I was off. Oh, well. Heart is in the right place, although I don’t know what I may have done that was off topic. I love this Web site. It’s so useful. I just added it to my blog today.

    Reply

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