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In Honolulu is her last resting place. As this statement is being prepared, the Bahã’is of that city, acting for all the
American believers, are preparing a beautiful monument to be the Memorial of the “foremost Hand
which the Will of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá has raised up in the first Bahã’i century,” as the Guardian described Miss Root in his
message to the American Bahá’is immediately after her death.
THE BAHA’t FAITH IN IRAN
the land consecrated by its association with the birth of the Revelation of Bahâ’u’lláh, the progress of the Bahâ’i
community has special significance. For there, as has been pointed out in previous issues of
exists a most extreme contrast between Bahá’u’lláh’s teachings and the social environment in which those teachings are
to be applied. The medievalism of Iran, indeed, with its union of civil authoritarian-. ism and a social philosophy
ignoring the doctrine of individual right—the residue of a once vigorous faith in which self-sacrifice exalted and did
not suppress human personality——resembles the type of society always produced after the mainspring of ethics has
been broken in a people and they become victim to the great exploiters who arise among them like hats in the night.
Persecution is the path by which a new faith advances under such conditions, and persecution remains for the Persian
believers their heroic hold on the true spirit of religion.
During the current period, the impact of civil persecution has taken the form of the imposition of fines and punishments
for refusal to conform to regulations concerning the marriage service which would make
necessary for Bahá’is to
deny or betray their faith. A conflict arises between the Bahá’i law or principle and the arbitrary code maintained by the
state. A Bahã’i who does not marry according to Bahá’i procedure and under Bahâ’i auspices is deprived of his voting
status in the Bahá’i community. To regain
in Iran, the believer annuls the non-Bahi’i marriage and remarries in
accordance with the Bahá’i law. Four different marriage bureaus are provided by the state, but the Bahá’is cannot use
them to obtain a license “since each of these,” as their National Spiritual Assembly states in its report, “is set
apart for one of the four officially recognized religions; recourse to them would thus be a denial of that truthfulness which is the basis
of the Bahã’i Faith.”
Fines and imprisonment have been imposed for infraction of these regulations even in the case of Bahá’is who married before the code
was adopted, which proves that the license bureaus are not simply for purposes of civil registration but for controlling belief.
The pictures presented by the Assembly are graphic:
“Up to some months ago, persons contracting Bahá’i marriage were only rarely interfered with by the Department of Justice, and such
marriages were tacitly permitted. Then, in Tihrán and the provinces as well, the severest penalties were suddenly imposed, and even
those Bahã’is who had married in previous years were summoned for trial; not only the men, but the women, too, were prosecuted,
and according to our present information, in Tihrán alone over three hundred and fifty cases are in process of being tried.
“The questions usually asked by the authorities are these: Who performed your marriage ceremony? Who read the marriage sermon?
What person drew up your marriage certificate? Why did you not appear at one of the four marriage license bureaus to contract your
marriage? The Friends answer: In Bahá’i marriage no one is appointed to perform the ceremony; the couple themselves perform the
marriage by repeating the two marriage verses. As for the marriage sermon, a chant is used to bless the occasion, but it is not a
requirement to marriage and no special person is appointed to chant it. Persons attending the marriage are witnesses and nothing
more—the presence of witnesses being a requirement. The Bahá’is cannot use the license bureaus since each of these is set apart for
one of the four offi
THE BAHA’T WORLD
Facsimile of two letters written by Professor E. G. Browne, of Cambridge University, concerning the Bahá’i Faith.
cially recognized religions; recourse to them would thus be a denial of that truthfulness which is the basis of the Bahá’j Faith. After
being questioned, the Friends are released on bail.
“The Bahá’is are summoned in an unusual way; they are almost always called in on Thursday; since Thursday afternoon and Friday
all offices are closed, they are thus imprisoned two days and two nights. From
tflmáns bail is required of each person
contracting marriage. Since other Bahá’is almost always furnish the bail and thus few persons are imprisoned for long, the authorities
now ask for cash bail. The Assembly has appointed a commission to take charge of all such cases, and these persons with great self
sacrifice stand ready to help at all times, personally attending court and smoothing every difficulty. The Assembly has likewise called
a second commission to supply the cash bail. Besides the sums pledged by this second commission, its mem her
have also offered funds for the aid of couples who have been imprisoned or dismissed from jobs as a result of the
marriage. The National Assembly has directed that all Assemblies throughout Iran reserve a special fund for this
purpose, so that imprisonment, and the suffering of families of contracting parties, will not result.
“On occasion some of the authorities are brutal, and some use obscene ezpressions in addressing Bahá’is, even the
women; but others admit that the Bahá’is are innocent and say they are taking action only because they are obliged to.
Some of the questioners and judges say they know the Bahá’is are trying to achieve official recognition by this means,
but will never succeed; the Bahá’is answer that they are not trying to break the laws, as proved by the fact that they
officially register and notify the authorities of all marriages, but that they cannot in conscience use the provided legal
“The Friends, and especially the women,
j-t)M L ø/r
- U, -‘—‘-‘ “
CURRENT BAHA’i ACTIVITIES
although they have never undergone such experiences before, have stood up wonderfully in the courts, demonstrating
their sincerity and their knowledge of the teachings. In some cases the officials have been remarkably moved, and
astonished that even peasants could respond as they have. Some of the Bahá’is have said they would be proud to go to
prison for the Cause, and others, fully realizing the severe penalties, have not hesitated to contract Bahá’i marriages.
Daily the authorities see that their persecutions, far from frightening the Bahá’is have increased the number of
marriages, and the Department of Justice is being filled with talk of Bahã’I principles because Bahá’i married couples
are constantly summoned for questioning.
“From eight days to six months’ imprisonment has been the penalty so far imposed; even women have been sentenced
to imprisonment for some days. The Friends usually appeal the case; a fine can be substituted for a sentence of two
months or less. Oddly, although the act is the same, the penalty always varies according to the degree of fanaticism of
“Victims of this law constantly petition the Department of Justice, the Cabinet and His Majesty. Recently when one of
the Bahá’is presented a petition to the Royal Office, an order was sent (to Qazvin) saying that since the petitioner had
broken the law and had further had the effrontery to tell his crime to the Shah, he was to be severely punished.
“Typical individual cases follow: In Ká.shán, Hasan Násih, ‘Abbás Bayçlá’i, and Ahmad Yazdáni, were sentenced to
from three to four months’ imprisonment. In Najaf-Abád, ‘Abdu’l-IJusayn Jáni freely chose a month’s imprisonment
rather than pay the fine. In Yazd, Aqáy-i-Bayáni, in Tihrán Mu1addiqi Táliqáni, have been sentenced to four months in
prison. In Bandari-Jaz, for contracting Bahá’i marriage, Muhammad Sangi was sentenced to six months imprisonment.
Mashhad reports that among Bahá’is contracting marriage who have been persecuted recently is Aqáy-i-Yazdán-Parast,
who was questioned, sent to prison, and after some days released on
tfimáns bail. Brought to trial, he was sentenced
tflmáns bail, pending trial. Aqiy-i-áhiri was sentenced to seventy days in jail and has appealed the case. In Birj and, MuhammadRidá
Majidi wrote the Registry Office: ‘I have married Layli Khánum Majidi according to the procedure of my religion, “Bahá’i.” I request
that you designate the manner of registering this marriage.’ Following further correspondence he awaits trial.
“General reports show that whenever the Friends list their religion in a Government bureau as Bahá’i, the bureaus refuse to employ
them; those previously employed, when renewing their registration papers, are subjected to all sorts of difficulties if they describe
themselves as Bahá’is. If, however, they leave the religions column blank, the officials fill it in themselves with the word ‘Muslim’
and discharge anyone who protests.”
The more detailed report of persecution inflicted upon the Bahá’is by the government of Reza Shah Pahiavi follows this survey of
international Bahá’i activity.
PROGRESS OF TEACHING
The constructive teaching work of the Bahã’is of Iran, on the other hand, has intensified during this period. “A great wave of teaching
activity, resulting from the Guardian’s stirring and repeated messages to the Bahá’is of Iran,” we learn from the report already cited,
“is now sweeping over the country, the teaching work, carried on by women as well as by men, is winning new recruits of every type,
even from the ranks of the clergy, and the fire and consecration of the new believers recalls the earliest heroes of the Cause.
Meanwhile the consolidation of the Administrative Order continues in full force despite every obstacle
“Not a moment’s neglect is permissible. Slackness and carelessness would result in the retrogression of the community, and the
increased boldness and audacity of that heedless, tyrannical group.” This the Guardian pointed out to the Bahá’is of Iran in a message
sent after the election of their National Spiritual Assembly in 1938.
THE BAHA’I WORLD
Only a few brief citations can be made from the extensive material available on this engrossing subject:
“There are twenty-two Bahá’i administrative districts in Iran. Each of these has an appointed center, known as the
District Spiritual Assembly, which serves to coordinate all Assemblies in its area with the National Spiritual Assembly.
These District Assemblies are numbered as follows, their districts being given in parentheses: 1. 1sf ahan (I1fáhán). 2.
Tabriz (Adhirbáyján). 3. Abadih (Abádih). 4. Bandar-i-Jaz (Bandar-i-Jaz). 5. Bábul (Bábul). 6. Mashhad (Khurásán). 7.
Ahvaz (KhiSzistán). 8. Záhidán (Záhidán). 9. Sangsar (Sangsar).
10. Sari (Sari). 11. Tihrán (Tihrán). 12. ‘Iraq (‘Iraq). 13. Shiraz (Fárs). 14. Birjand, (Qã’inát). 15. Quazvin (Quazvin
and Zanján). 16. Káshán (Káshán). 17. Kirmán (Kirmán). 18. Kirmánshah (Kirmán shihán). 19. Rasht (Gilán). 20.
Nayriz (Nayriz). 21. Hamadán (Hamadán).
22. Yazd (Yazd).
“During the year 95 the following were formally-appointed teachers in the given areas:
“Samandari, Hamadán, Kirmánsháhán; ‘Alavi, Isfáhán, Yazd; Adhár-Munir, Adhirbáyján; Ishráq-i-Khavari, G ilan;
Háshimi-Zádih, Mázindaran, (Bandar-i-Jaz, Sari, Bábul); Mutlaq, Tihran (because of illness) ; Nabil-Zádih, Khurásan;
Nushábádi, Fárs; Fádil-i-Yazdi, Kirmán; Adhari, Qazyin, Adhirbáyj an; Uskfl’i, Adhirbáyj an.
“Resident teachers were:
“Málmiri, Yazd; Fádil-i-Tihrani, Káshán; Thãbit-Sharqi, Isfáhan; Zá’ir, Yazd; Sa’idi-Radavi, Hamadán; Há’i, Káshán;
Baqá’i, Gilán; Nun, Isfáhán; Shaydán-Shaydi, Kirmán.
“Among those who instantly responded to the Guardian’s message was the distinguished poet and scholar, Jináb-i-
’Azizu’llah Misbáh, who, not content with his teaching services in Tihran, and although ill and almost blind, left the
capital with Aqáy-i-Nahavi, a young, newly-declared believer, and went on a teaching circuit to Káshán, Isfáhán,
NajafAbad, Abãdih and Shiráz. He spent five months on this journey, and besides teaching the Friends, he gave the
Cause to twenty- four seekers, of whom seven, including one
of the ‘ulamá of Káshán, have thus far accepted the Faith.
“Leaving Tihran for Khurasan, Aqãy-iNflr-i-Din Mumtázi spent three months visiting thirty-five Bahá’i centers, mostly
rural communities. He went some of the way by automobile, much of it on donkey- back, and many miles on foot, and
brought back to Tihran the spiritual refreshment of these meetings. ‘Abdu’llah Fádil-Zádih, son of the late, well-known
teacher, Fádil-iShirázi, made a nineteen-day journey to Qazvin and Hamadán and their environs; he discussed the Faith
with thirty inquirers and had many meetings with the Friends. Javadi-Mahbflbi, member of the Local Spiritual
Assembly of Hamadan, and Sa’id-i-Radavi went from Hamadán to every neighboring village in which there were
Baha’is, greatly stimulating the teaching work in this area.
“Obeying the Guardian’s message, Luçfu’lláh Mawhibat determined to serve as a pioneer; he and his wife therefore
transferred their residence to the historic city of Zanján, where, in the course of a few months, they have held meetings
and study- classes, entertained travelers, assisted the local Friends and brought five people into the Faith. Háshim-i-
Ashraf I traveled from
Tihran to Kashih, 1sf ahán, Najaf-Abád and Shiráz, meeting with numbers of Friends and inquirers. The entire Spiritual
Assembly of Isfahán together with several committee members went out to Burájin, Khfllinján, Shaydan, Shah-Rida,
Jaz and Mósiy-Abád, communities in their district, and conferred with the Friends as to new teaching activities.
As’adu’l-Hukamf went to Khurásin, and Jinab-i-’Ubudiyyat to south Iran on teaching trips.”
“The Tihran Teaching Committee has likewise provided for teachers to spread the Faith throughout this area. Aqáy-i-
Husayn Yiganih went to Karaj and established the Spiritual Assembly there; Aqayan Rahmaniyán and ‘Ubfldiyyat have
also taught in Karaj. Aqáy-i-Mumtázi, member of this Committee, took a three months’ trip through Khurasan. Aqáy-i-
Rahmániyán, appointed by the Spiritual Assembly as circuit teacher for Tihran, was sent out to aliqan, Fashandak and
other neighboring localities to teach and meet the Friends.
CURRENT BAHA’I ACTIVITIES
“The following are at present conducting the teaching classes throughout Tihrán (others, not listed, are likewise
teaching in this city) : The men:
“Mahmfldi, Khádim-i-Mitháq, Mustawf 1, Fur&tan, Dr. Qásimi, Siná-Zádih, Avárigán, Vahid, Fidil-i-Mázindarâni,
Kayván, Darghám, Akhtar-i-Khávari, ‘Atá’u’llâh Bahji, Ishráq, ‘Abdu’lláh Fádil, Nor-i-Din Mumtázi, Shari’at-
“Khushbin Sini-Zãdih, Mihr-A’in, Bahiyyih IzadI, BarafrUkhtih, Ishráqyyih Dhabih.”
“Some flavor of all this work comes to us in the following extracts from a few of the teachers’ reports. Tarazu’lláh
Samandari writes: ‘Leaving Tihrán I spent few days in Qazvin and gave the teachings to several inquirers—then came
to Hamadán, and was sent by the Local Assembly to neighboring towns, including Bahár, Amzájird, and Láhh-Jin,
meeting Bahá’is and seekers. In Sarqumish, the devoted believer, Jináb-iNfd-’Ali, invited five prominent men to his
home, where I addressed them for about six hours in the course of their day’s visit. The result was that they became
much attracted to the teachings, and were given the Book of fqán. In Amzájird I visited and spoke with one of the town
supervisors in his home. In Hamadán the Nineteen Day Feasts, teaching meetings and Character- Building classes are
regularly held, and the Friends continually bring new inquirers to be taught. In Qurvih on the way to Kurdistan i spent
nine days, meeting fifteen new persons, and having sowed the seed here I went on to Sanandaj. Here the Friends are
very active, and in twenty-seven days I taught thirty-six persons of every type: Jews, Christians, Muslims both Shi’ih
and Sflnni, even some of the Imám-Jum’ih ‘ulamá and the sons of mujtahids, and also a number of military people. The
believers were anxious that I should stay on, but since enemies had begun to make a disturbance, I left, promising to
return, and went to Kirmánsháh. Here in this spiritual city I found great receptivity, and through the efforts of the
Friends I met and instructed a great number of people. Again, to follow up the work in Kurdistán, I returned there,
remaining nineteen days. In Kirmánsháh once more, I fell
ill with influenza and the Local Assembly directed me to stay in the city and teach. In the course of a few months I
gave the teachings to about ninety persons of every class, till the beginning of the year 96.’
“Outstanding is the work of Mirzá NabilZádih and his wife, who spent eight months around Birjand and gave the
teachings to one hundred and seventy-six persons, forty of whom have thus far become believers. They then went on to
Gunábãd, center of the Ni’matu’lláhi is and home of their leader; here they found a new Spiritual Assembly and the
believers active. They left for Firdaws, called by Bahá’u’lláh Fárán (i.e. Párán) where there were, and are today, great
Bahâ’is, and from there by way of Khayru’l-Qurá, Bushrfl’iyyih, and Turbat, they came to Mashhad. Here with the
help of the Assembly they talked with forty inquirers, nineteen of whom accepted the Faith.”
“In his letter dated 28-7-18, Aqáy-iNflshábádi reports that in the course of twenty-eight meetings held in Shiráz, he iuet
sixty-two new persons, some of whom have already accepted the Faith and started teaching activity. A discussion
group and a study-class to further instruct the newcomers have been formed in addition to the teaching meetings, and
all are cooperating in the work.”
“During a four-months’ stay in Hindiján (in the beginning of 1817) Fáçlil-i-Yazdi met and instructed many inquirers,
afterward at the direction of the National Spiritual Assembly proceeding to Rafsinján and Kirmán; in the former place
he taught eight persons and in the latter also found the Cause flourishing, with three teaching meetings a week, in the
homes of Ibráhim Bárán, Mul?ammad Káim and Jalál Hakimiyán, son of the late Dr. Sádiq-i-akimi.
“Siyyid Uasan Háshimi-Zádih Mutavaj jib writes (6-9-17) : ‘Some time ago I returned to Gurgán. Since the Friends
here were all visitors from elsewhere, and had established meetings which ceased to function as soon as they would
leave town, I made an effort to interest local people, and at present some five or six of these, most of them with their
wives and families, have accepted the Faith.’
THE BAHA’i WORLD
the National Youth Committee directed that Bahá’i Youth Day (February 24) be held all over Iran. An account of the Tihrán
youth activities on that day follows:
“The Bahá’i youth gathered in seventeen different meeting places and carried out the following program: opening chant; brief history
of International Bahá’i Youth Day and its importance as stated by the Guardian; duties of youth in this turbulent age, and their need of
unity to attract Divine confirmations; brief biographies of Bahá’i youth who died as martyrs to the Faith; music by the Youth
Orchestra; consultation on youth activities; taking of pictures and signatures of those present. Pictures, suggestions and related
documents were sent to the American Bahã’i Youth Committee.
“Bahá’i child training is going forward satisfactorily throughout the country despite current restrictions. In Tihrán every Friday
seventy-five children’s and youth classes in character building and other Bahã’i teachings, for boys and girls both in separate and
mixed groups, are held,
pupils attending. Throughout fran likewise several thousand Bahi’i children are receiving Bahá’i
teachings and character building lessons. Twelve Divisions report 2,500 students in 263 classes, and classes also meet in the remaining
Divisions. The children thus sacrifice their one free day to study the lessons in character building and other phases of the Cause, with
In 1939 the Bahá’is of Iran through their National Spiritual Assembly instituted a Bahá’i Summer School at the estate of a behever
near Tihran. The sessions conducted that year brought to the status of a formal school a series of annual teaching conferences and
discussions which had previously been held for and by the Bahá’i youth.
The News Letter issued by the East and West Committee following the sessions described this activity as follows:
“An item which we would like to dwell on at some length is the institution for the first time of a Bahá’i Summer School in Tihrán
which proved a remarkable success. The place chosen was the estate of a distin guishe
Tihrfn friend, not far from the city. The School consisted of three periods of ten days each beginning on July 6 and
ending on August 6. Those who registered their names for these periods in advance were termed regular members, and
of these there were 76 for the first period, 58 for the second period and 80 for the third. But apart from these members a
large number of friends visited the School during holidays and week-ends. The objects of the School were: to bring the
various friends together in an atmosphere of great fellowship, to discuss religious and scientific matters, and to consult
as to the progress of teaching activities. Mr. Azizullah Misbah, distinguished for his high learning and culture,
supervised the discussions and gave most valuable assistance. The daily program included prayers, conferences,
reading and entertainments. You may be interested in knowing of some of the subjects actually discussed and so we
give you the following summary: The importance of the Summer School; Bahã’i Organization; the essential purpose of
each separate Religion; the comparison of the Cause with other Religions; the life of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá; accounts of
journeys made by certain friends to Europe and America to visit the Bahá’is in those parts; the history of the building
of the Temple at Ishqabád; as well as many other similar topics. At the end of the School a telegram was sent to the
Guardian, who replied, saying: ‘Deepest joy (at this) historic achievement. Urge perseverance. Supplicating richest
(and) continued blessings.’
As has been so frequently evidenced in these biennial records, the Bahá’i community is a living organism which,
developing from stage to stage under the guidance of Bahá’u’lláh, continually produces new facilities and institutions
required for the furtherance of a unified mankind.
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