Why do Baha’is express themselves?

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Why do Baha’is express themselves?
by alborz
05-Mar-2009
 

This is a question that has been raised many times, here on this site, and I thought to share my personal understanding on this subject at a time of increasing pressure on the Baha'i community of Iran, specifically because one of the charges against them is that they are expressing themselves!

As Baha’is in Iran face increasing pressures and the 7 leaders of their community along with another 20 or so others are imprisoned, many Iranians question the wisdom of this persecuted community in being vocal in expressing their views.

Some have suggested and indeed concluded that Baha’is express their views for the purpose of promoting their faith in the hope that they gain converts.  In Iran, the Attorney General of the country Ayatollah Dorri Najafabaadi has characterized such expression as “damaging the foundation of people’s belief” or  "تخریب پایگاههای اعتقادی مردم" and charged the Baha’is with “agitation of thought” or    "تشویش افکار"  amongst many other charges related to national security and espionage for Israel.  He goes on to state that in the Islamic Republic people are free to have their own thoughts but that its expression is not permitted!

Again, many concerned Iranians have suggested to, and at times pleaded with, the Baha’is that they should simply keep a low profile and simply put “be quiet”, in the hope that their plight may not further deteriorate.  The Baha’i community completely understands and appreciates the sincerity in these suggestions and in fact, if it was not for the many noble Iranians with understanding, compassion and empathy, the plight of the Baha’is in Iran would be far worse.  This is acknowledged by the Baha’is of Iran and expressed in every forum in which the Baha’i international community speaks of the plight of their fellow believers.

Now having dispensed with the context in which the original question is posed, it is important to start at a point where we can all agree, which means that it cannot be religion but science, or so I hope!

Is it possible to have a view or perspective and not be able to express it?  Let’s try again.  Is it reasonable to expect to have a perspective and not express it?  Scientists spend much time in research and when a discovery is made or a hypothesis is proven or disproved they publish their findings.  Now, let us examine the possible reasons why they choose to express their findings, as there are many.  One reason is that their findings and conclusions may influence the work of other researchers and thereby further enhance the state of knowledge and therefore progress in a particular field.  Another reason may be that the findings will be challenged or confirmed by others.  While other reasons exist, suffice it to say that unpublished findings serve no purpose and published findings at a minimum serve the scientist to gain confirmation if the underlying theories and hypotheses are valid.  It is this last point that hopefully can serve to make a transition to another instance where more common ground can still be found.

When people exchange views, and this exchange takes place in a spirit of openness, respect and concern for the dignity of others, then it is quite likely that the participants will learn of alternative perspectives while they also shape their own views through its expression.  How many times have you found yourself understanding something better after you have expressed it or explained it to someone else?   The act of expression is a process by which thoughts can become organized and cohesive.  Responses to these thoughts will expose its weaknesses and gaps for which the person now can further evaluate their perspective.  Whether there is agreement or not, whether a change in perspective occurs or not, is really not the point.  Participants can gain from this exchange and can consider themselves enriched if, again, the spirit of openness respect and concern for the dignity of others is maintained.

If you have read through to this point, you may by now guess where I may be heading with this logic, but please don’t.

The Baha’i Faith and its roots in the Babi Faith can be traced to “asking questions”.  At its inception, the Babi’s challenged the 19th century brand of Islamic fundamentalism.  The clerics that had a grip on the Qajar court lashed out at them leading to 20,000 deaths by many accounts.  The estimated 1 million followers of the Bab had gained confirmation in their belief not by remaining silent but by rather expressing themselves.  Note what I am saying here: “the followers of the Bab gained confirmation in their belief”.

The strength and conviction of the Baha’is in Iran is born out of that very same process of expression and confirmation.   Had they been silent and reclusive under such harsh circumstances they would not have been the vibrant community that they are today.  Expression is the animating force behind belief.  Whether it is expressed in practice, such as service to humanity, or in words, such as its mention to others, belief is examined and revitalized.  Just consider how Islam is perceived in the Islamic Republic when its expression is contrived and regulated.

If you have something of value, the natural impulse is to show it to others.  In the same token, Baha’is express their views because they believe that it is of great value and that it should be shared.  This is the essence of Baha’i expression and confirmation.

The Islamic Republic recognizes the real possibility of “change in opinions” or  "تغییر اذهان" and so chooses to charge the Baha’is with “agitation of thought” or "تشویش افکار".  Its concern therefore becomes immediately evident as it recognizes the fact that expression will lead to questions, the arch enemy of fundamentalism.

So when the Baha’is of Iran engage in the expression of their faith through their deeds of service to humanity, such as serving impoverished communities in the suburbs of Shiraz, or by speak of their beliefs in the context of a discussion, they are “changing opinions” or "تغییر اذهان" against a back-drop of much baseless accusations, to which they have no forum for response.  This is a threat to the regime and therefore the full force of that un-civil society is brought to bear on them.

On this site, with its primarily Iranian readership, the process is somewhat the same.  The expressions made by Baha’is are primarily informational and the questions and challenges provide a venue for confirmation.  Where there are attacks, as distinguished from questions and challenges, it can be traced to the very seeds of Islamic fundamentalism, fearful of its legitimacy in the face of questions.

In conclusion, a belief or an idea that is expressed will have a chance at confirmation and that which is not expressed is likely to turn into dogma.

 

Alborz

      

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alborz

Agha Reza...I just found your reply here...

by alborz on

... and thought that I provide you with a short reply.

The problem with your logic is that you think you know everything about the situation of the Baha'is in Iran.  The fact is that is that you cannot know because you can only know what the Iranian government says and prints in newspapers.

The Baha'is of Iran have been obedient to the government of Iran from the beginning and continue to be obedient.

 1) When they were asked to stop their religious administration, 26 years ago, they did.  No more administrative institutions based on Baha'i laws.

2) The Yaran group was formed with the full knowledge of the Iranian government and has met with the officials over the past 20+ years since their formation. 

3) The government of Iran preferred to have an organized Baha'i community vs a non-organized Baha'i community because all of the communications were copied and provided to the government.

4) The Baha'is did not break any laws in Iran when they served their fellow countrymen.  There is a difference between a law and an allegation.

5) Since the government of Iran cannot charge the Baha'is with breaking a law, when they are serving their communities, it charges them with espionage.   The Baha'is have not been charged with breaking a law because of teaching their Faith, which they have not.

5) The Baha'is are obedient to the Universal House of Justice also, because the UHJ has never asked the Baha'is to do anything that is against the laws of Iran or any other country in which the Baha'is live.

Your opinion is based on information from the Iranian regime which has a world wide reputation for making news.  To see the world clearly I suggest that you read other sources also.  Is it possible that you have made a mistake and the rest of the world has not?

Anyway, the Baha'is remain obedient even to this regime, which is more than what anyone can say for the Shiites living in Iran.

If Iranians could leave the rule of the Velayat Faghieh, they would do what you have done, which is to live somewhere else.  Perhaps  you should ask yourself why.

Alborz


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Bahai institute are they real cinsere 3

by Reza41 (not verified) on

Salam ,jenabe alborze,dooste gerami:
,Salam is offering peace ,salam salamati meavarad use it some times,for your own sake,Bahai ,believe to be, true Muslims aren't they???
هنر شيخ ازل ما اين است ×× شهد را بخورد و گفت شيرين استWhat was said , why do you think need to be reaffirm? ,pleas dont insult our respectful readers intelligence, from our conversation and questions and answers they would get to learn,what Bahai has been keeping secret or at least off of public arena like many more issues,which inshallah in our discussion we will fairly over view them and take the dust off of them ,inshallah
although ,you indirectly ,calling me unfair to your(Bahai institute)answer to my question and refering me as subjective person did not pass unnoticed.
brother,"I'm subject of no one but GOD almighty HIMSELF",
and my question was very fair question,let see what do we know of difination of "unfair": let say if there is a court and a Judge,
and a defendant ,now, if the judge covers his eyes up on any evidence which they are in favor of defendant, than rules against defendant,commonly we call that "unfair"judgment he also put it in dark by closing his eyes,therefor defendant is wronged Arabic word(zolm+ed)=darkened, which in Quran ,(inshullah if you read) always COFR=cover, it comes with Zolm=dark
therefor, who is "COFER=cover-er" is also is "ZALEM=darkener" in according to Quran.
now, back to our answers,examining to see if is a fair answers,or other way around,if is "unfair" and is "covering",in result is it you are zalem=darkener or me.
I put fair question ,if there is mutual agreement, between Bahai & Israeli government which is imposed by Israeli government, that, Bahais should keep their faith to themselves and not proselityze(tabligh)in Israel not even take residency,and bahais are obeying so(which that is straight order of Bahaullah to fully obey the host government) ,than why,do you feel that Bahai should objectively express themselves in spite of Iran government asking them not to? and why should they obey one and disobeying another?
your answer to this was not because against the Bahai law to disobey Government of government(Israel),you put it in the way, that is "The Baha'is are doing what they prefer and have chosen to do in this case"
well ,in fact that is well covering the fact by you that Bahai has no choice but accept Israelis demand (by Bahai law), when it come to obeying the host government there is Bahaullah decree and is not an option, than ,means you are covering that, which result zolm=darkening, الْكَافِرِينَ إِلاَّ فِي ضَلاَلٍtherefor,you are the one gives unfair answer, PLEAS DONT call me unfair, while you have displayed such an unfair covered up answer,
I thinks in any fair mind would agree that there is clear hypocrisy in Bahai faith in obeying Bahaullahs dcree, which they think they should obey Israel and provoke Iran law,now i end here, and will get to why all this commotions going on for Bahai in Iran only this past year or so ? peace Reza


alborz

Reza...when I post a response to you...

by alborz on

... I am not only replying to you but to any other person that reads this exchange.

My response, however you may wish to characterize it, may not change your mind, but it serves its purpose for any fair minded and objective person.

In reading our exchange, I am at peace with the conclusions reached by you and others.

Be Well,

Alborz


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Bahai institute are they real censir 2

by Reza41 (not verified) on

salam jenabe Alborz e gerami,thanks your acceptance of engagement,I hope we can have very constructive and elaborate talk,with out any "taasob" and baseless accusations look in to every issue,
as you wrote :"I am here and willing to engage in a respectful and fact based dialogue with you."
therefor, I recommend you pleas stay in your perimeter which you have drown,"FACTS AND NOT FICTIONS"
it is clear to me that you are intent to manipulate the Issue,you even are trying to manipulate essence of my question,by taking the focus off from "why after 164 years of Bahai faith birth and after 141 years in holy land, THERE IS NO BF community there? and as you said fewer than 1000 volunteer are there as a guest? pleas dont give maniplitive answer "The Baha'is in Israel are not a community, and have never been one"
who asked, there is or there was one ?
and are you joking here or are you serious saying : "None(1000 Bahai) are Israeli citizens nor can ever become one for the specific reason that the state of Israel is entirely made up of Jewish immigrants and Palestinians. I will assume, at some risk, that you now can understand,:-o, :-0 oh I thought Bahai are dardevil and dont scare, and they do danger? then what happened? who can imagine greatest of all manifestation happened, the one every religion were waiting for ,Dooms day, judgment day(Ghiamt olaa) which was warned 1000 time in Quran, Bible, torah, sky turned ,sun darkened, biggest earthquake happened, this great glory of GOD Jesus, Mahdi, moses, Imam hossin,Boda, Bahram, he came, ops... sorry not for this part of the word(center part of all problem of the world)that is, because of as you say " for specific reason that the state of Israel is entirely made up of Jewish immigrants and Palestinians.we will assume, at "some risk", that we now can understand"?:-o
that sound more like a big joke brother ,and Bahai in the jail in Iran are not laughing, that's OK in this video this "Pooh Bear" can explain a little better than you ,
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ode-Wnr5T14
please stay away from slanderous attack and speak and respond in specific,
I live rest of my answer about your "300,000" Bahai in Iran, and your zero answer to "Mehdi abad shiraz" violation and why all these happening in past yearfor next post, peace


alborz

Reza, try standing for your beliefs vs. ...

by alborz on

... sitting in judgement of the beliefs of others.

I don't know why you feel that the site owner's permission is necessary to have a dialogue with me.  I am here and willing to engage in a respectful and fact based dialogue with you. No contention here, as I see no basis for it, at this time.  Also, be assured that the shortcomings of human beings is not the object of my dialogue with you. If you want to focus on that, then this will be a very brief exchange.

Given that you, like most, find judging others easier without having experienced standing for a belief, I will limit my response to the salient points of your comment and ignore any agenda that I perceive in your response.

I see these as:

Bahai's in Israel: The Baha'is in Israel are not a community, and have never been one.  They are all, I repeat ALL, there as volunteers and live within the context of either being members of administrative bodies or care-takers of Baha'i Holy sites.  In fact their status is recognized as such by the government of Israel.  They are all "guests" and have come to Israel for the expressed purpose of serving for a finite period.  None are Israeli citizens nor can ever become one for the specific reason that the state of Israel is entirely made up of Jewish immigrants and Palestinians.  I will assume, at some risk, that you now can understand, if not agree, as to why Baha'is have voluntarily chosen to limit their status to that of "guests".  This declaration was made at the time of the inception of the state of Israel and was reciprocally accepted and turned into an an agreement.  So your assertion in this regard is a matter of perspective.  The Baha'is are doing what they prefer and have chosen to do in this case.  These Baha'is all will go back to their communities in different countries and exercise the freedoms which the Baha'is of Iran are denied.

Baha'i Community of Iran: First of all this is a bonifide community that arose from within the heartland of Iran.  While there are fewer than a thousand Baha'i "guests" in Israel, there are some 300,000 Baha'is representing more than 8 generations of believers which remain peaceful and law abiding citizens.  Since you appear to have some knowledge of their plight, I recommend that you  look further into this subject by visiting:

http://question.bahai.org/

This will spare us both a lengthy debate through which I would need to provide you with much of what is very clearly presented on this site.

Abiding by laws: I find your assertion that the Baha'is of Iran are not abiding by the laws of Iran to be preposterous, at the very least.  While, no doubt, you feel that you have ample reason for such an assertion, I will simply direct your attention again to the record of what has transpired over the past 30 years in Iran. As an example, if you think that a child should be harassed and insulted in school and then later denied access to higher education then you will also agree with denial of faith, as an appropriate price for freedom from such treatments. If such is your view,  then our discussion can end right here.  But, believing that human decency can be found in all, I ask that you not sit in judgement but stand in awe and respect for the tens of thousands of the youth of our country who respectfully deal with such vulgar and inhumane treatment.

Agreements: The Baha'is of Iran have remained in compliance with  all agreements which have been reached between the government and the representatives of the community.  As a community their status, activities, including their gatherings have been with the full knowledge of the government agencies.  But please note that in order to have an agreement, you need representatives.  When the elected administrative bodies of the Baha'is were disbanded some 20+ years ago, after the execution of many of their members, the need for representatives did not go away.  The existance of the Yaran, the 7 Baha'is that attend to the needs of the community AND have represented the community to the government, has been known, acknowledged and welcomed by the government!  Why you may ask?  Well, apparently the government prefers to have the Baha'is organized when it wants to control and punish, rather than dispersed.  In the former case, it has one unified entity to deal with and in the latter it has to potentially deal with 300,000, which is a formidable number if the Baha'is were anything but law-abiding and peaceful.

One final point: Do you really believe that the recent increase in the arrests is because the government learned of something new during the past year?  Do you not think that this just another reaction to the increased pressure that Iran is under and the Baha'is are just the most convenient target? Do you also not think that present government and its alignment with the Hojjatieh groups make it more determinded to uproot the Baha'i community from Iran?  And finally, if the pressure on the Baha'is is independent of what they do, does it not make any reasonable person to then ask the question, "why now"?

I will look for reasonableness in your response and not agreement with any of my perspectives.

Alborz

 


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Bahai institute, are they really sincere?

by reza41 (not verified) on

Salam doost gerami Mr,Alborz,
you wrote : Participants can gain from this exchange and can consider themselves enriched if, again, the spirit of openness respect and concern for the dignity of others is maintained.

I really appreciate you sens of hummer,I really do,
how ever I am not laughing,
my friend, why hypocrisy, why double tongue, why I hear from bahais two side faces,
in the moment I will show how much bahais are sincere to show their faith and faces, there is no problem if Bahai faith show their essence of Mr. Bahaullah ideology ,the problem is propagating some that in real truth Bahai faith they are not standing for, that is the problem,
you are talking about expression of thought? let me repeat your analogy
>"Let’s try again. Is it reasonable to expect to >have a perspective and not express it? "
that is real good question,
would you answer that for me, why ,Bahai faith obey the request of Israeli government and not express their view and their perspective to the israel public? ,and they have been obeying since birth of faith, that is why there is no Bahai community in state of Israel, although they allow them to keep their faith in themselves ?
isn't that literally same request by Iran Government?
everyone know since 1983, Iran recognize Bahai faith,only in one condition full obey of law of Iran,
which did not allow any type of organization, and proselytizing ,they should keep their faith to themselves ,you know Bahai deceitfully getting permit from city hall as NGO in "Mehdy Abad" Shiraz it was clear violation of 1983 agreement ,you know that,you know 7 yaran was cover for NSA, brother, you sound like you don't afraid of public debate, let me know, if you like, we can talk and as you said
"Participants can gain from this exchange and can consider themselves enriched "
if you really mean it.(of cours with permit of site owner)
I would show more of Bahai other faces if you want take the challenge which I doubt it. peace Reza


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IC

by A.y.m (not verified) on

قبل هر چیز باید بگم اقای جهانشاه جاوید ناشرمحترم این سایت از هموطن های عزیز ما هستند.و بنده قصد جسارت به ایشان را ندارم.

من ساکن شمال اروپا هستم.چند هفته گذشته برنامه یک اقایی که شو تلویزیونی طنز در این کشور اجرا میکنه را بستند.خدمت شما عرض میکنم چرا.این اقا در یک برنامه تلویزیونی بقول خودش مطالب خنده دار در مورد کلیمی ها گفت. البته این اقا غرضی نداشت.چند روز بعد نماینده جامعه کلیمی به تلویزیون شکایت کرد.و شکایت انها مورد قبول واقع شد و این برنامه بسته شد.به این دلیل که در این کشور قانونی هست بنام حمایت از اقلیت ها در جراید.چه قومی چه مذهبی.من در این گوشه دنیا نزدیک به سه دهه زندگی کردم .ازادی بیان و اندیشه در این کشور حاکم هست ولی در عین حال یک کنترل هم در کار هست.نه اینکه دیگه هر روز هر کارتونی ازاد باشه.و از طرفی دیگر فردی به حمایت از اولی هر دروغی را ازادانه بنویسد. کما کان اینها مواردی هست که روی اعتبار ان سایت هم تاثیر گذار هست.
.
به نظر من عده ای از این بلاگ نویس ها ارزش جواب دادن ندارن.
مخالف هم حرفش را با منطق و سند بزنه ولی نه اینکه هر روزهر کارتونی را بذاره تا برسه به عکس سگ!!!

اوقات خوبی را برای شما ارزو میکنم.


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Just received the following news

by Bahia (not verified) on

Dear friends,

The families of Yaran visited all seven of them on Monday. Mr. Sabet, Mahvash’s father, broke down in tears, but Mahvash calmed him down and assured him they are all alright and not to worry for them. Mr. Khanjani broke into tear after hearing the news of her sister’s passing which in turn made everybody emotional. They all are Fasting. They keep their dinner for next day breakfast and are given hot tea. Since they did not know the fast prayer by heart they asked friends to recite it for them. They asked all friends to say prayers for them and that all seven of them feel the warmth of the prayers said for them and sent their TAKBEER(Baha’i greetings) to all friends. They are waiting to see what will happen in the coming days.

Thank you.
With loving wishes,
Bahia