[Ayatollah Masoumi’ website: www.amasumi.net, sources: http://www.amasumi.net/index.html]
[news.gooya.com, 13 Shahrivar, 1392]
Report of the meeting between Ayatollah Abdolhamid Masoumi Tehrani and a group of Iranian Baha’i activists
In this meeting that was held in Ayatollah Masoumi Tehrani’s office, His Eminence expressed his personal opinion, while listening to the difficulties and constant violation of human rights experienced by the Baha’i community of Iran.
At the beginning of the meeting, one of the participants referred to the heinous murder of a Baha’i citizen in the city of Bandar Abbas, and the lack of strong will on the part of law enforcement agencies to investigate this crime.
In response, Ayatollah Masoumi made the following remarks:
The heart-wrenching and unfair murder of the late Mr. Ataollah Rezvani is a cause for grief and sadness, and I offer my condolences to his family and friends, and particularly those of you who have troubled yourselves to come and meet with me. My ardent hope is that with the spread of rationalism and avoidance of blind religious fanaticism in Iranian society we will not witness such horrifying crimes any more. I also hope that the authorities identify and punish those responsible for these crimes. If such crimes are not stopped, not only will the image of the Iranian authorities be hurt in the world, but also those responsible for these murders will be encouraged to repeat their crimes.
Later, the participants described the lack of basic citizenship rights, including the right to higher education, employment, and the questioning of the beliefs of the Iranian Baha’i community. They also complained about the security forces’ organized and continuous attacks on the Baha’is. The participants believed that the root cause of these attacks is the adverse opinion and suspicion of many members of the government regarding the origin of this religion. They also remarked that these short-sighted attacks are occurring, even though based on all legal and moral principles which even Islam refers to, choosing a religion is a personal decision. In addition, they mentioned, we are all Iranians before being Muslim, Christian or Baha’i, we love our country and have proven that throughout history.
In response to these issues, Ayatollah Masoumi Tehrani said the following:
Iran is a country made up of various ethnic and religious groups, which together create the Iranian nation. Iran does not belong to a particular ethnic or religious group. It belongs to all Iranians – we cannot and should not deny or limit our citizenry’s basic human rights because of their religious beliefs or ethnicity. All humans are noble at their core, and their livelihood has to be respected. An individual who has never violated the personal and social rights of others should not be harassed purely because of his belief in another religion. I don’t have an accurate knowledge of the Baha’i beliefs, but arguments over the legitimacy or misguided nature of various beliefs is time-consuming, and has resulted in nothing but the killing of our fellow citizens throughout history.
Referring to blind religious conflicts throughout history and their ineffectiveness in eliminating of other beliefs, he added: according to Jewish thoughts and beliefs, Jesus Christ was a liar and was crucified for his claim. Even today, the Jewish clergy present many reasons for the misguided nature of Christianity. Christians were also harassed and persecuted during the Roman Empire. During the reign of Emperor Nero, a huge fire was intentionally set, Christians were blamed, the masses were provoked and Christians were massacred. What was the result of these actions? Did Christianity die?
Later on, the Jewish and Christian clergy presented many reasons to pronounce Islam and its prophet misguided, which brought nothing to humanity but violence and bloodshed. Also, in the Muslim world several sects have been created, each accusing the others of being erroneous and misguided, even though they all believe in the same book and same prophet. Meditating on these facts, we notice that the followers of the three large Semitic religions consider each other’s beliefs either misguided, or distorted and outdated. Each of them has tried to annihilate the roots of the other beliefs. None has yet succeeded in eliminating the others, or in convincing them to change their beliefs. The only outcome has been the loss of scores of human lives just because one did not agree with the other. These are experiences we have obtained from the history of religion.
Ayatollah Masoumi further remarked that these religious conflicts may have been justified in the past, but with the advancement of human rights concepts and the cultural growth of various societies, such conflicts can in no way be justified in this day and age. Such violations of life, property, honor and the dignity of others due to religious views were justified in previous centuries because humanity did not have a true understanding of its personal and social rights. However, modern people, who are aware of personal and social rights and are laboring toward recognizing them, do not have a logical justification for the violation of human rights based on religion, ethnicity, race and gender. We have no right to violate or limit the personal and social rights of those who have not violated the life, property, honor or dignity of others. In today’s world, personal and social rights, and in essence citizenship rights, are not defined based on religious, ethnic or racial secondary qualities. Man in his essence, regardless of these accidental qualities, has basic human rights, and no one has the right to violate the rights of those who have not interfered with the rights of others. Moreover, every government is responsible to defend the personal and social rights of all citizens without any exceptions and in an impartial manner, and to prosecute anyone who violates the rights of others for any reason, or due to subscribing to any opinion.
Ayatollah Masoumi further commented: it is not the name of a religion, but the actions of the followers and the message and teachings of religions that are proofs of an ideology’s misguided trend. In every corner of the world, the followers of every religion – even those who worship cows – consider their own beliefs to be the absolute truth, and the beliefs of others to be absolutely wrong and misguided. Such medieval claims of possessing the absolute truth and pronouncing the rest of humanity to be misled and wrong have no reasonable value in today’s global village. An individual who has not interfered with another’s life, property, honor and dignity must be respected regardless of his religious views. I believe that in the modern era you cannot find any ideology more misled and misguided than what is practiced by those fanatical and extremist Muslims who calmly murder other human beings. In my opinion, those ideologies that deny the rest of the world their comfort and security and do not value human life are the true misguided ones. Otherwise, accusations and arguments over right and wrong have resulted in nothing but bloodshed and the killing of fellow human beings.
Ayatollah Masoumi Tehrani finished his talk with the following remarks:
My understanding from the research I have done into Judaism, Christianity and Islam and the essence of their principles is that we should not harm, oppress or violate the rights of one another, regardless of how we worship God. God knows how to deal with his servants on the Day of Judgement. But I am confident that God does not send anyone to heaven or hell solely because he is Muslim, Christian, Jewish, Zoroastrian, Baha’i or…… but rewards and punishes all based on their actions and behavior. No one will be placed in another man’s grave and every individual is responsible for his own actions.
As said by the Iranian national poet Hafiz Shirazi:
Don’t find fault with others, oh pious one;
God will not blame you for the sins of others;
If I am well behaved or not, you watch your own actions,
Each person will face the result of his own actions;
The alert and the drunk are both looking for the beloved;
The mosque and the temple are both the home of love;
Do not disappoint me in the history of eternity;
What do you know about the unseen and what is good or bad?
I hope that one day in this country Shiites, Sunnis, Zoroastrians, Christians, Jews, Baha’is and even atheists may have equal rights, and may be accorded the same respect. It is in such a society that talents flourish and the country is strengthened. Thankfully this positive trend is spreading in Iranian society, and it is becoming institutionalized. Hopefully it will continue.
Translation by Iran Press Watch
Ayatollah Masumi’ website: www.amasumi.net, sources: http://www.amasumi.net/index.html