Persecuting Baha'is on the basis of the "Cult Scenario"


[Mr. Saburi is a diligent essayist; with simple language he reveals the current policy of the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran to portray the Baha’i Faith and Baha’is in Iran as members of a “cult”, and therefore to deal with what it terms the “Baha’i Question” under the false designation of a “cult scenario”. The Government of Iran now always uses the term “cult” to refer to the Baha’is of Iran, thus completely misrepresenting the Baha’i Faith to the population, and at the same time justifying their oppressionof Baha’is. Mr Saburi, using simple logic and referring to documented examples, shows the contradictions between statements by Government officials, the baselessness of this false portrayal of the Baha’i Faith as a cult, and the inconsistency between the Government’s own statements now and its past declarations. The article has extensive end notes and references for your pursual.

The Editor
Iran Press Watch]

by Hamed Saburi (15 Sep 2010)

The Cult scenario is a new trick by anti-Baha’i theoreticians of the Islamic Republic in Iran, intended to justify the past 32 years of atrocities against Baha’is and to create a legal rationale for future atrocities. For example, in passing 20-year sentences against the seven [former] leaders of the Baha’i community [editor’s note: now commuted to 10 years], instead of acknowledging that they were prisoners of faith, they were branded by baseless accusations of “cult” activities against national security, spying and opposition to Islam, in order to justify the regime’s own atrocity.

Sayyed Kazim Moosavi, the expert activist against(!) the Baha’i faith, further revealed this scenario in an interview entitled “Baha’ism was involved in the Ashura 88 events” (1), by repeating his earlier falsehoods and calumnies (2) which had been repeatedly refuted by the Baha’is (3). The goal of this scenario is the justification and legality of the repression of Iranian Baha’is. This is the same scenario presented by Mohammad Javad Larijani in Geneva against the Baha’is (4) [at a February meeting of the UN Human Rights Council, to which Larijani is the Iranian delegate]. Using the space of the Western dialogue about the difference between the concept of official religious “sects” versus unofficial “cults” (5), some of which are despised and considered dangerous and illegal, he declared the past 32 years of repression and deprivation in the Islamic Republic against Baha’is to be a consequence of the “cult-like” activities of the Baha’is, rather than accepting that they were belief-based. (6)

Now, Mr Moosavi, who like Mr Larijani is among the theoreticians attempting to justify repression against Baha’is, says:

“Today, in the political language of the West the word ‘sect’ is used for a branch of a religion and ‘cult’ is used for a following. In the Oxford dictionary, the word ‘cult’ is used for those who are enamoured of and are loyal to an individual. This word entered Western literature in the ’60s. At any rate, today we are facing a cult phenomenon in our country… I must say that up until the time of Shoghi [Effendi, the Head of the Baha’i Faith from 1921 to 1957], Bahaism was a ‘sect’, but we saw that during Shoghi’s time it gradually changed into a cult. During this time, Baha’ism entered a period of serious administrative circles and set up a destructive organization.” (7)

But this trick and the new approach of the likes of Larijani and Moosavi has not only been unable to justify their systematic oppression of Baha’is over the past 32 years, it has also confronted them with contradictions and admissions that reveal the falsity of their earlier lies and claims about Baha’is, as well as showing the hollowness of their new scenario.

Among the contradictions, one is that for the past 167 years the likes of Mr Moosavi have portrayed the Baha’i faith as a misguided sect of Islam. Yet now, in a complete about-face, in order to prove their new scenario of showing the Baha’i faith as a ‘cult’, they have been forced to say that “the Baha’i sect is also one of the non-Islamic sects because they essentially have no belief in Islam” (8); whereas actually the Baha’i faith is neither a sect nor a cult but a religion. Baha’is, as testified in their holy books, are the only religious group apart from Muslims themselves who accept Islam as a religion (9). The interesting point is that he says “…during Shoghi’s time, we saw Baha’ism gradually changing into a cult”. Even if we were to accept Mr Moosavi’s fantasies, according to the definitions of the political language of the West that he uses, some cults become sects if they prevail, not the reverse. (10)

In another place, based on his assertion about the Baha’i community being a cult because it has an administration, Mr Moosavi makes a strange admission which is of interest to Iranian and international human rights organizations:

“Although there are several centers for dealing with and confronting these phenomena, only the security element has succeeded fairly well. However, confrontation by the security element alone is no longer effective, and unfortunately we have acted very weakly in the cultural arena.” Moosavi called the legal vacuum one of the main reasons for not seriously confronting deviant sects and added: “…apart from clarifying and disseminating information, the only effective approach in dealing with the Baha’i sect is to cut off the connection between the Baha’i administration and the Baha’i community.” (11)

Another admission related to the “legal vacuum”, that reveals the “cult scenario” of his kind and of Mr Larijani as a basis on which to legalize the repression and deprivation heaped upon Iranian Baha’is is his statement in the 29 April 1989 closed session of “Reviewing the issues on Irfan and semi-religious elements”, conducted by the Strategic Research Center of the regime’s Circle for Determining Propriety:

“Bearing in mind that in neighbouring countries like Pakistan and India there are laws against sects/cults which we lack it in our country, and so are deprived of their benefit, we see that in serious cases a judge needs a fatwa [religious ruling] from [religious] authorities.” (12)

His admission means that it has now been 32 years during which Shi’a sources and judges in the Islamic Republic have illegally been heaping all kinds of repression on Baha’is while lacking “anti-sect laws”! Now, in the new scenario, imitating the West and countries like India and Pakistan, they intend to portray the Baha’i religion as a “cult” and “legalize” repression and cruelty against Baha’is. For 32 years they have repressed illegally(!); now that the world has become aware of their cruelty toward Baha’is – as well as the noble people of Iran – they want to legalize the cruelty! Having failed in their plan to eradicate Baha’is by castigating them as “the misguided sect”, they now try to eradicate Baha’is from history by portraying them as a cult.

Please note the following:

“This expert on Baha’ism, highlighting the Baha’i sect’s administration, identifies an effective way of confronting it — a break between the Baha’i community and its administration. At this juncture it is the administration of the Baha’is that threatens the regime; if the administration is removed from the community, the sect will be history.” (13)

The question that needs to be asked is if, as he says, “Baha’ism” (14) developed its administration during Shoghi Effendi’s time, and changed into a “cult”, and the reason for not “becoming history” was the existence of the administration, then why during the preceding seventy-seven years (1844 to 1921) was it that the same community — without an administration and in spite of 20,000 of them being killed, with many thousands in jail and under torture, and facing large amounts of anti-Baha’i propaganda, along with other pressures and deprivations — not only survived, but actually bloomed, thundered on proudly and took on the task of building the administration which still survives in spite of all the repression, but has NOT been removed from the pages of history?!

For Mr Moosavi’s better understanding, we should also add that during the 29 months during which you have cruelly thrown in jail the innocent seven leaders of the Baha’i community and dozens of others, who attended to the affairs of the Iranian Baha’i community in the absence of the usual Baha’i administration of the community, did you not notice the clamor with which leading Iranians arose to defend their Baha’i fellow citizens?! For instance, did you not see the “We are Ashamed” statement?! (15) Are you still not aware that the primary and total reason for the continuation of the lively Baha’i community is not its administration but the penetrative power of the force of the divine Words of His Holiness Bah’u’llah? It is this divine force which flows in the New World Order and in the Baha’i administrative system, which in the fullness of time, and with the cooperation of all world citizens, will establish global peace and the unity of humanity on earth.

Alas! that the likes of Mr Moosavi, motivated by their hate, have forgotten that, contrary to other religious communities, the Baha’i spiritual administrative system did not come from the minds of ulama [Islamic clerics] or outstanding personalities, but emanated from the pen of Baha’u’llah Himself, and are contained in His Writings. They are not the kind of administrative structures that are imagined in Mr Moosavi’s mind (16). This administration and the Baha’i community have for decades been officially recognized — by the United Nations, by Western countries, and even by the India and Pakistan which Mr Moosavi identifies as having anti-cult laws — not only as a religious community, but also praised for its useful and constructive force for morality, cultural and social activities in areas such as human rights, education, equality of rights beween women and men, world peace, unity of the human race and socio-economic development at the national and international level. (17)

The likes of Mr Larijani and Mr. Moosavi, faced with world opinion, are attempting to justify and operationalize the eradication and gradual repression of Iranian Baha’is with the same trickery that the tribe of Qoraish utilized with the king of Ethiopia against Ja’far and the Muslim refugees (18) [editor’s note: this is a reference to opponents of Islam in its early days]. In front of the United Nations and world human rights tribunals, they refer to anti-cult laws in the West, in India and Pakistan, yet they deliberately ignore the views, acknowledgements, praise and official recognition [of the Baha’i religion] of these same sources and governments, that see Baha’is as members of a “religion” and not a “cult”.

For instance, the Supreme Court of Germany has decreed: “The nature of the Baha’i cause as a religion, and the Baha’i community as a religious community, is evident and without a doubt — whether in its daily life or in its cultural tradition, in the public perception or in the science of comparative religions.” (19)  With respect to India, it is enough to know that Mahatma Ghandi, in contrast to the political and religious leaders of the Islamic Republic, stated that “Belief in Baha’ism is soothing to the world of humanity” (20); that a group of thinkers in India has recently issued a statement opposing the 20 year sentence of the seven Baha’i leaders who are incarcerated in Raja’i prison (21). For years the government of India has officially recognized the Baha’i religion; Baha’is have innumerable socio-economic projects aimed at the betterment of the material and spiritual conditions of the nation, and that the government of India has praised and thanked them, instead of throwing them in jail for three years, as Iran did to three youth in Shiraz who had undertaken similar projects (22). As for Pakistan, it is enough to know that Professor Mohammad Lahouri, a Muslim, says “All the lines and evolution of diverse thought in Iran is once again seen as a complete compilation in a great religious movement of the new Iran, i.e. the Babi and Baha’i religion.” (23)   It is not necessary to remind the likes of Larijani and Moosavi, who are anti-Baha’i “experts”, of the Baha’i faith’s official recognition by the United Nations as a religious and non-political body since 1949, and of the many declarations of that agency in defense of Baha’is in Iran. (24)

Having said the above, no doubt Mr Larijani and Mr Moosavi and their like — who have seen the uselessness of the results of their plans, scenarios, projects and anti-Baha’i activities of the past during both the Qajar and Pahlavi periods — must know that the “Cult scenario” will also have no lasting effects in eradicating and repressing the Baha’is, and that the Baha’i community of Iran will remain steadfast and erect as it has for the past 167 years (25); that it will serve both beloved Iran and noble lranians who have often been the supporters of their Baha’i fellow citizens, for:

“They have no aim save their Beloved, they seek no perfection save attaining His presence. They soar on the wings of reliance [on God] and fly, remaining confident on Him. The bloodstained sword to them is preferable to heavenly silk, and the piercing dart more pleasant than mother’s milk… Adversity doth not overtake them, and this voyage is not traversed by feet, nor is this Face to be covered as by a veil.” (26) [from the Writings of Baha’u’llah]

Endnotes and References:

(3) See answers to his untrue comments: notes 1 and 2 of NoghteNazar site below, also see Negah and Veleveledarshahr in the links below:

Mr. Musavi’s strange behavour includes his changes to the text of the messages from the Universal House of Justice . To compare his changes with the originals see the links below and his lies will be evident.
(4) “Bahais have to answer to the courts in Iran because they engaged in cult-type activities contrary to the the most basic human rights of the people,” Mr Larijani told the UN Human Rights Council.
(5) for example see:

(6) Regarding The Baha’i Faith being a religion and not a cult or sect, see Mr. Behrooz Sabet’s article in response to Mr. Larijani’s claim: and also see:



The separating the Baha’i Community from its Administration has been in the plan of the anti-Bahai theoreticians of the Islamic Republic of Iran for many years and continues to-date. See the published book, “Dawning of Love” (Tolu-i Ishq):

Also, the goal of extermination of the Baha’i Community has been around for the last 167 years, see:

(14) The name Baha’u’llah means The Glory of God. The religion established by Baha’u’llah is referred to as the Baha’i Faith, or the Baha’i Cause, or the Baha’i Religion. The use of the term “Baha’ism” is incorrect.

(15) and and

(16) For references on “the Bahai Administration” see the following links:

And also, see the book “The Baha’i World Order” here:



(19) Statement named “The Century of Light” p. 105 [Editor: this page refers to the Persian publication]. Germany is one of the countries that has laws on cults.


(25) With regards, please read the message of the Universal House of Justice to the Baha’is in Iran regarding Iran and Iranians, dated 26 November 2009: [Editor: the message is in Persian].
(26) Baha’u’llah, in one of his Works named Shikar-Shikar Shavand [Editor: the translation of this passage in this article is by Iran Press Watch and provisional for use of this article only].

Translation By Iran Press Watch
Source: and and


8 Responses

  1. Jelle (NL)

    September 19, 2010 8:50 am

    Religion, faith, belief, creed, sect, cult, denomination, ideology … use the word you prefer, but respect the life, liberty and happiness of your fellowmen. For they have been created by God just like you!

  2. Concorde

    September 20, 2010 9:03 am

    Thanks to Mr Saburi for this excellent analysis. The European countries have clarified these issues. The French government has mandated two parliamentary investigations, both of which have classified the Bahá’í faith as a religion. Details available here:
    It should be pointed out that in French, the schismatic branches of Christianity are referred to as “églises” (churches) and the word “secte” has become synonymous with illegal activities, refered to as “cult” used by Mr Saburi. In Germany, Udo Schaefer has published on this subject. His article “The Baha’I Faith, sect or religion is available here:
    The book “Making the Crooked Straight”, (Udo Schaefer, Nicola Towfigh, and Ulrich Gollmer) makes an extensive study of such points. A review is available here:

  3. prs

    September 24, 2010 1:49 am

    We can well perceive how the whole human race is encompassed with great, with incalculable afflictions. We see it languishing on its bed of sickness, sore-tried and disillusioned. They that are intoxicated by self-conceit have interposed themselves between it and the Divine and infallible Physician. Witness how they have entangled all men, themselves included, in the mesh of their devices. They can neither discover the cause of the disease, nor have they any knowledge of the remedy. They have conceived the straight to be crooked, and have imagined their friend an enemy. – Baha’i Writings


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