Unarmed Iranian Prophets in the Vineyard of God

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Source: www.radiozamaneh.com

Translation by Iran Press Watch

Mahmoud Sabahy

Photos from the archive
Photos from the archive

The lies about minorities, especially the least dangerous of them, are quite well-known in the world, but, isn’t the least dangerous usually the one that’s the most dangerous?

Like the Scapegoat (Azazel Goat in Jewish culture; often a devil in Christian and Islamic cultures), minorities are burdened with the intensity of an entire nation’s lost hopes and dreams, and are sacrificed in atonement for the sins of the majority. In Iran, also, minorities shouldering the heavy role of Satan (meaning they are driven out, stoned, and cursed), each has been victimized in one way or another. However, the Baha’i minority has endured and continues to suffer the most. The very word “continuous” leads me to expose some of these lies or myths that have been transformed into prejudices. I hope that through this social awareness injustice and prejudice against minorities in Iranian society will be reduced and eventually wiped out.

From the very early days, the Shi’ite clerics showed a hysterical reaction towards the Baha’i Movement; to the extent that they were able, they tried to destroy and extinguish it. They made baseless and foolish legends (and continue to do so), motivated by only one fundamental reason: full social comprehension and acceptance of the teachings of this theological movement would end the historic domination of the clergy without violence and bloodshed, once and for all. It would also crush the dominance of the clergy class system, which has disrupted and undermined the political, social and economic development of Iran, and blocked any progressive liberation movement in Iranian society by reducing the event to a mere colonial conspiracy, so that clerics could continue their historic domination and oppression.

Shi’ite clerics have a very powerful incentive for smearing and destroying Baha’i teachings; a motive psychologically rooted in an unbridled and uncontrollable horror: Horror by clerics of losing credibility, respect, security and comfort, as well as the easy treasure that they have at their disposal; this is the very root of this endless hysterical animosity. A stubborn rancor that manifests itself in the continuous and widespread production of oral and written expressions that fundamentally lack any literary or scientific value. Yes, indeed! They have instinctively discovered that he who has broken the sacred instrument with his words will then have to, instead, play the most sacred instrument! Is this not enough evidence that those who are envious will be forced to make up stories and lies?

Shi’ite clerics are expert liars and story-tellers, but an independent study without prejudice can neutralize all those insane myths and ridiculous lies. I hope that this will take place in Iranian society, so that no one will ever again need lies, myths, and fiction for their individual, social and political survival.

Below is an investigation of the three false accusations, myths, and lies that Shi’ite clerics have built up and disseminated with the help of their collaborators against the Baha’i minority:

The Legend of Israel: This false accusation claims that existence of the seat of the highest Baha’i institution, the Universal House of Justice, in Israel is a sign of their connection to the Israeli government. But what is the truth?

After the execution of his predecessor, the Bab, in its aftermath, Baha’u’llah – the founder of the Baha’i Faith – was imprisoned and exiled. It was these subsequent exiles from country to country that caused him, against his wishes, to end up very far from Iran.

At the emphatic and persistent request of the Iranian government, the Ottoman government exiled Baha’u’llah from Baghdad to Istanbul in 1863, then to Adrianople, and from there to prison in Akka, which at that time was part of the Ottoman Empire. This was not an easy exile: Baha’u’llah and his followers were imprisoned in a prison fort for two years, but after leaving the fort, they were still not allowed to leave the city of Akka.

Baha’u’llah passed away in Akka, after 40 years of exile, in 1892; in all those difficult years his son Abdu’l-Baha accompanied him. At that time, there was no country by the name of Palestine, nor a country by the name of Israel. This region was part of the Levant in the Ottoman Empire. It was just towards the end of the life of Abdu’l-Baha, Baha’u’llah’s son, at the collapse of the Islamic Ottoman Empire, that the country of Palestine was born under the protection of Britain, and 27 years after Abdu’l-Baha’s passing (in 1921), the country of Israel was formed in 1948.

Historically, what is very clear is that there is no historical connection between the emergence of Baha’ism and the inception of the Palestinian and Israeli states; both these countries were created much later than the formation of the Baha’i Faith and the Baha’i community. Therefore, this accusation was simply a very vile lie and a false propaganda tool against the Baha’i minority, to vilify it as an Israeli phenomenon.

If today the Universal House of Justice is in Haifa, it is because, after the passing of Shoghi Effendi, the grandchild of Abdu’l-Baha, who did not have any children, the Baha’i International Council was to become responsible for the religious and administrative affairs of the Baha’is of the world. The Universal House of Justice was foreshadowed by Baha’u’llah during his life, to act as a council to attend to the community’s needs: “Inasmuch as for each day there is a new problem and for every problem an expedient solution, such affairs should be referred to the House of Justice.”

Despite all this, Baha’is are interested in both Haifa and Akka not only for this reason, but also for emotional and religious reasons. Three key figures of the Baha’i Faith are buried in Haifa and Akka:

  1. After the execution of Ali Mohammad, the Bab – the pioneering figure in the formation of the new Baha’i community and one of the sacred figures of this religion – his body was kept hidden out of fear of the government, the clergy,and other Iranians who carried out the orders of the clerics, for about 50 years until finally his remains were moved from Iran and buried in Haifa on the hillside of Mount Carmel. At that time, Abdu’l-Baha lived in Haifa; after his passing, his body also was buried in one of the rooms of the Bab’s resting place, which Baha’is call the Shrine of the Bab, as one of the central holy figures of the Baha’i Faith.
  2. After the passing of Baha’u’llah, he was buried in the same city in which he had lived, which was the city of Akka. He was buried in Akka, and since then his resting place has been called the Shrine of Baha’u’llah, which is the most holy place for Baha’is and represents their Qibla (direction of prayer).

The legend of England: This false accusation is based on the argument that since the British conferred upon Abdu’l-Baha, the son of Baha’u’llah, the title “Sir”, then Baha’ism must be built by the English. But what is the truth?

During the First World War, Abdu’l-Baha saved the area from famine and starvation by using the harvest from the Baha’i farms in the Jordan Valley. After the end of the World War I, which began with the British mandate in Palestine (a part of the Ottoman Empire), the British government honored Abdu’l-Baha with the title of Sir for his humanitarian efforts during the First World War. At this time the Baha’i Faith was already established as a world religion. In particular, after the fall of the Ottoman Government, Abdu’l-Baha regained his freedom, and was able to travel to Egypt, Europe and the United States, in spite of his advanced age, from 1910 to 1913. During his travels, Abdu’l-Baha gave many lectures on various aspects of the Baha’i Faith as the “Prophet of Peace”.

The Myth of Russia: This false accusation was another attempt to defame the Baha’i minority in Iran in the 1930s. At that time, out of nowhere, suddenly a book appeared in the Iranian market, dubbed “The Confessions of Dolgoruki”: Dimitriy Ivanovich Dolgorukov was the Russian ambassador during the years of Mohammad Shah’s rule and the first years of the rule of Naser al-Din Shah Qajar.

Mahmoud Sabahi
Mahmoud Sabahy

This book, which was also published under other titles, such as “Notes of Giniaz Dolgoruki” and “The Report of the Giniaz Dolgoruki”, is a writeup most closely resembling the misconceptions and falsehoods promoted by the conservative Iranian Kayhan newspaper. In this not-very-detailed book, a person named Dolgoruki tells an imaginary story claiming that he, who had learned the Persian language earlier, and also learned the Arabic language, in his talks with Shi’ite scholars in the council of a cleric by the name of Shaykh Isa Lankarani, pre-planned the emergence of the Babi movement and the Baha’i religion as a means to create divisions among Iranian Muslims.

In this sloppy story both from the aspects of style and content, the name of Dimitriy Ivanovich Dolgorukov, a Russian diplomat and senator who came to Iran as a minister in 1845, is used. This Russian diplomat, according to reports from Baha’i sources (for example, Shoghi Effendi’s book God Passes By), made a serious effort to free Baha’u’llah, or Mirza Hussein Ali, who at that time was imprisoned as a Babi. This later became a delightful starting point for the imagination of the author or authors of the Dolgoruki notes. It is as if they had forgotten that in a lawless society such as Iran, reaching out and begging embassies and imams was an ordinary undertaking that desperate people embarked upon in order to save their lives or to convey their protest, as Amir Kabir did at the end, when, as his efforts and proofs for his case fell on deaf ears, he reached out for help to the British and Russian embassies. The Russian embassy even intervened to rescue him. And he was not just a simple Babi by the name of Mirza Hussein Ali; Amir Kabir was the prime minister of the Iranian regime – the great prey – whose rescue from the short sleeved, long hands of the Qajar Dynasty was not so simple.

In fact, in this fruitless Shi’ite story, any incident in the life of the people was portrayed as part of a pre-determined plan by Mr. Dolgoruki. It is as if this Russian man were the Omnipotent Himself, Who has come down to earth to say: “Be!” And then whatever he wills happens! Oh! What an unappealing myth!

The problem of the mind that fabricated this book is not merely the hallucinations, clearly produced from the depths of idiocy and ignorance, with the delusion of maintaining the unity of Iran under the unifying force of Islam and the Aryan race by serving its audience a great potion of Shi’ism and Iranian patriotism. Its greatest problem is that it ignorantly uproots that Novel Seedling which is destined to pull Iranian culture from its stagnancy by relying on its intellectual and emotional faculties, replacing that autocratic unison and repression which has so far been the biggest factor in our cultural narrow-mindedness and lack of self-control with a welcoming diversity.

The creator or the creators of this irrational tale and story that they have come up with are conflict with respect to their goals: it reflects the ignorance of that sector of Iranians who use claims of patriotism to block the greatness and bounteous potential of Iran to pull itself free of the historical and social deadlock due to a belief in a stagnant, definitive and final identity. These Iranians view flexibility, variation and diversity as division and separation, and therefore betrayal. However, a more humane and superior political and social life is not rooted in sameness and homogeneity, but is realized through diverse and differing voices.

The point is clear: a sign of development and personal and social distinction is when differences of opinion and dissent are not the cause of divisions, enmity, and disunity, but is the cause of progress, prosperity, creativity, and even friendship. At the same time, the emphasis on unity and sameness by forcing out differences, distinctions, heterogeneity and dissimilarities is representative of a backward mind, and most of all a tribal mindset: a mentality that views others who are different to be tribes and communities that must preeminently be attacked and plundered first, before they can invade.

Anyway, vilifications are abundant, but these three examples are amongst the most commonly used slanders that have long been linked to a specific social group within Iranian society and are being continuously repeated, uninterrupted. In the midst of all this, what is so dreadful is not that human beings are forced to live with the pain and wounds of such smears and insults and continue to be harmed, but that Iranian society is deprived of the creative force and the latent power of this minority or other minorities as part of its own body, merely because one segment of the society is worried about losing its standing and social status in the society’s class structure – a group or class that, with little reflection on the depth of affairs, could clearly discover that in a new social circumstance,  built by innovative minority forces, there is a different kind of distinction, a more real and humane distinction compared to the old standing, in the waiting; that is, they can regain their previous prestige and privilege in society in new and more beneficial social roles, without the necessity to put themselves in the clutches of disadvantageous and harmful social and economic trickery to gain themselves profits.

Long story short: an in-depth look reveals that it is not the minority that is ultimately held back from progress by these smears and accusations; it is Iranian society that is kept from achieving the ultimate realization of its novel and latent values and potentialities – the values ​​that have come to life and were lived by Arvin and Arvand in the Land of Iran over centuries and reveal themselves through individual consciousness and social awakening; the consciousnesses and awakening that appear in the veins of special individuals and the social movements of minorities, which demonstrate ways and conduct of a more worthy and more fulfilling life. With the hope of a day when the majority will step up to the threshold of such a way of life.


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