When Nothing Is Sacred Except the Secular


Rosie T.
by Rosie T.

No matter how long I take, how hard try to research it, organize, it, write it, it'll always be inadequate. So maybe the best way to write this blog is to just copy the post I just wrote swept up by the moment to Faryarm (a Bahai) on my "Imagine a World Without War!" blog on folk singer Buffy Ste. Marie.  (As most of you know I am not a Bahai, I have no particular creed at  all).

*        *        *

To Faryarrm:

thanks, I have some thoughts going on in my head...

two articles I keep thinking about that overlap--Bahaullah and Secularism, and When Nothing is Sacred Except the Secular.  I feel Bahaullah is completely misunderstood, his vision is perfectly compatible with the Secular Enlightenment. He was one of the greatest minds of the 19th century anywhere, basically going around trying to get a League of Nations set up decades BEFORE Europe had to go blow itself up before they started one. 

Then this website, jj is a pacifist, green,  :soft left"etc., etc., his politics very similar to mine,  but the EXPLICIT preferernce of secular viewpoints here (all are published but the non-secular are tolerated rather than celebrated, this has been suggested by him in various ways in blogs, even explicitly,to my concern) is a betrayal of our mentors in the peace movement worldwide:  the Quakers, Gandhi, Dr. King being the most famous.  These were people of deep faith. They could NOT have moved the mountains they did without the language of faith to inspire others. That is the language of spirituality and poetry. You can be an ATHEIST but you need the language of faith to move mountains.

I feel our language is getting ousted here. I feel it is being restricted to literature and art threads. I feel during the days of the "Wild Wild West" due to all the passions and authenticity running around hand in hand with the hate, there was more of a place for the spiritual and poetic voices on the political threads. And people actually heard us sometimes.

I feel we are getting ostracized from these threads.  I feel without our language all is lost.


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Dear Azarin

by jamshid on

Of course I wouldn't mind you using my comparison Azarin jan! I'll be honored!

In order to clarify my points to a commentator, I expanded on my comparision of atheist/agnostic and religous people in another comment you can find below this one.



by jamshid on

Ajab rajab,

Before calling me names, let me clarify what I meant with atheists/agnostics being "more pure" than religious people. I didn't mean what you probably thought.

First let's not compare bad atheists/agnostics with good religious people, or vice versa. Let's compare good with good in both categories.

Contrary to religious pepole's view, my version of an atheist or agnostic person does not lose his/her touch with what people consider good, or as we say in Farsi, "niki". In fact, he/she can be as zealout in choosing good over evil than a religious person.

However, the choices that an atheist/agnostic makes is not based on fear of hell, or for promise of heaven. Instead, they are based on his beliefs in what his very essence should be, right here in this world and in the present for the short time that he exists.

And when he chooses good over evil, he does so only for the sake of "being good", and nothing more. For such person, "being good" is "the" reward for doing good deeds, and the "only" reward. This makes his "niki" more pure than that of a religious person whose choices are typically influenced by what will happen to him in afterlife.

That is why atheists/agnostics are liberated from fanatism, self-rightousness and the urge to impose their beliefs onto others.

Also, no matter how miserablely life treats a "nik" atheist/agnostic, he or she could never be detached from "the" reward that I mentioned above. As long as he stands his ground, his reward (i.e., being nik) is always with him in the present, not in a future afterlife.

What you read above is my view which was shaped as a result of many years of confusion, loss, pain, and thinking and more thinking for a solution that I could stand for.

I think even if there really is a God, then He would reward the good deeds done by atheists/agnostics more than He would the religious people.

Now tell me, what part of this view makes me a "crock"? Does it make me a crock because it is self-made and it is not based on some prophet's words?

Rosie T.

Ajab, you misconstrue me...

by Rosie T. on

First of all I'm not interested in who's right and who's wrong because we are all both and wrong. I only talked to you and Jamshid together to try to point this out  To repeat, syllogistic argument is NOT the language of deep faith: poetry, spirituality, allegory, myth, etc. are. It is exactly this hyperemphasis on this kind of syllogistic argumentation you are engaging me in that is dividing us all right now.  :o) And you are pulling me deeper and deeper into the quagmire. However I will try to respond to your points:--

. ...Absolutely. The language of King and Gandhi rode on the back of religion. But it was a religion based in a universal spirituality, not the kind of religion of the Khomeinists or the Christian Far Right. It ws INTERFAITH.

--due to the recent wounding many Iranians can only see religion in terms of the recent history and that is perfectly understandable.  So I think it's better to bring up the UNDERLYING values of "pure" religion--spirituality, ethics, etc. Faith. Not religion for time being for many of them except when necessary to defend it...

--many people use the language of faith as thier ONLY language practically-- who are not religious, such as agnostic poets. Great poetry is almost always the language of faith.

--ithe white activists of the North (and Souuth) many of whom were atheists or agnostics, certainly helped to move the mountains. They enabled media and political clout that would otherwise have been lacking.  Boy you like to argue!  They risked death, some got KILLED for it--COLLEGE kids--TO REGISTER VOTERS. they did not move mountains? Okay fine so they moved hills, even anthills. What is your point in separating these "martyrs" from the black marchers? I Is this the language of faith? And then you say secular Iranians who are wounded and repelled by the recent history and current situation religion should accept religion? Is this how you are going to convince them?  :o)))

Pls! chill out! and think about what I just said...seriously...




Faith is for the faithful

by Ajab Rajab (not verified) on

Not the "faith" itself! Language of faith is for the faithful.

Ali P said this about revolution in the Bakhtiar thread and everyone cheered him on as if he had pulled a rabbit out of a hat.


He said since he was 15 he didn't know any better but if he was 45 his motivation would be different. Now which 45 year old are we talking about? That is always the question in these threads. The 45 year old who had a good life or a 45 year old who didn't?

Some people say IRI killed 9000 people in 1988 in prisons and at the same time they talk about basijis as if they are scum of earth. I'm willing to bet that given the chance they would be willing to kill 900,000 basiji to get to power. There are at least that many basijis.

The language of faith that MLK and Gandi spoke of, rode on the back of religion. It is high time the faithless understood the role of religion.

Your assertion that some civil rights activists were atheist or agonostics inspired by language of faith by MLK is not accurate. While they may have been inspired it was not them who made the difference. If they registered a dozen or so blacks they didn't move mountains. Mountains were religious blacks. Moutains were masses. How many were atheists and how many god fearing?! And don't tell me one "educated" atheist is worth dozen god fearing uneducated basiji. This has always been the case.

Your assertion that Iran's history is a good example of how religion can be abused is wrong too. I am 100% certain that this statement is going to raise eyebrows and people will jump at me as it I've said Leila was a man! But who cares?! Iran did not get here using language of faith or faith itself. It got here because of a series of events which many conveniently forget or adjust to their liking.

Once they find an audience that no longer remembers or cares they become the moral majority and authority on everything from strawberry jam to faith and religion.

Rosie T.

Ajab.... /Jamshid...............yes and no

by Rosie T. on

Jamshid said atheism is also a faith. totally agree.

I asiduously avoided the use of the word "religion" in my blog and comments . I am talking about their language of faith. "What a crock" is not the language of faith!  :o)

Religions do tend to ossify into dogma which is dangerous. Iranians don't ned to be reminded of that. Howeverr the PURE religious sensibility is not about the particular cosmology of the creed but about the human values: compassion, brotherhood (sisterhood), peace, tolerance...this is faith...that is why there are so many global INTERFAITH conferences and organizations...atheists and agnostics  do hare these values.

Jamshid has a reason to say what he's saying: what happened to Islam after the Revolution was such a grotesquet ravesty of religion that anything that can be called faith or spirituality is perceived as much more dangerous than secularism as an ideology.This is a mistake. The language of faith, spirituality, poetry belongs to everyone, every ideology, atheism included.  (Don't forget Buddhists consider themselves atheists)

However it must be conceded that the usual language of secularism as is witnessed on this website in the political blogs DOES NOT SING.

To say one i sensibility iss more pure than the other (looking beyond the box of the recent Iranian history) is not true.  Religion is a very loaded word in the Iraninan context and highly divisive. Faith is something everyonle can relate to. Faryam knows this. That is why he does not talk about religion here. (if I may be so bold as to speak for him for a moment,...)



Rosie T.

To clarify, I am a secularist, I spoke of faith, not religion, /

by Rosie T. on

and I spoke of the LANGUAGE of faith for secularists, including atheists. Mazloom is an atheist, we became friends last year because4 he understood the language of faith I used in my prose poems last year (see Salaan Iran in my trucking, please. It was underviewed because it only laxted one day on the articles..sorry cstill can't post links.)

I am simply talking about language such as Martin Luther King's I Have a Dream speech. Many atheists and agnostics, secularists all, particularly secular Jews from the North who when we are not religious believe me are more analytical and syllogistic and secularist than most, went down South to register black voters risking death (and sometimes being killed along with non-Jewish activists from the North--see the film, Mississippi Burning).  I do not believe they would've had the courage to do this without the stirring language of faith of Dr. King. They remained atheists, agnostics,. it is true as Jamshid says, atheism is also a faith. No one should change their faith just because a leader says so. But Dr. King, Gandhi, they never ASKED anyone to. They respected all faiths.

Dr./King gave political activists a language that tooched a feeling (Faryarm calls it love, I'll go along with that) that gave them courage. Courage to even die for what is right, and for OTHER'S rights. ("It is not the length of a life but its depth-_Ralph Waldo Emerson). When he said "Free at last, free at last!Thank God almighty we're free at last!" atheists did not hear the "God" part. They heard  Dr. Kings' OWN commitment to his beliefs and they heard the FREEDOM part. And they fought for it--for OTHERS.

That is what I am talking about by the language of not specifically secular faith. It is missing on the political threads. How will people have the COURAGE to embrace others of such opposing ideas WHICH THEY ARE AFRAID OF  with only syllogistic language? As I say, when syllogisms keep on butting heads with other syllogisms, perhaps it is time to find a new language.

And anyway,  who brought up RELIGION on this thread?





by Ajab Rajab (not verified) on

What a crock! "...atheists and agnostics are more "pure" than religious people."

Are you planning another religion called Atheists-allah or Jamshid-ollah?!

Religion is not a mix and match or cherry picking. You don't make religions as you go along!

Rosie is right, MLK and Gandi moved mountains because of their faith which WAS/IS a religion. You can't move a wheelbarrow because you think some are more "pure" than others.


Dear Faryam!

by Saraamin on

Im using firefox and my OS is Vista !anyhow , thanks for the tip!

Azarin Sadegh

Dear Jamshid,

by Azarin Sadegh on

Excellent point Jamshid Jan!

So well written and so true! I hope you wouldn't mind if I use this idea (comparing the atheist and the religious) in one of my scenes?



Bravo Jamshid

by Mojgan- (not verified) on

I totally agree with everything you said in your last comment.

Thank you!


Jamshid Khan

by faryarm on

Forgive me but I am not attacking anything...

perhaps i should have used the term materialist instead of secularist . 

My only point, pure and simple is that as "human Beings" we have a dual nature as we are spiritual animals;

The future happiness of mankind under any system is surely a balance of the two.





کوته پيام از

nashenas (not verified)

کوته پيام از ناشناس خطاب به خامنه ای:
آقای خامنه ای واقعا درس خوبی به همه مسلمانان جهان دادی:
گفتار بد رفتار بد و کردار بد
این بود اسلام ناب محمدی؟ قتل بیگناهان و غارت بی نوایان برای ادامه حکومت؟



by jamshid on

You wrote, "Secular thinking relies only on the intellectual, incapable of understanding the spiritual capacity of mankind"

I think you are making two mistakes here. 

First, atheism is a faith and contrary to your opinion, an atheist or an agnostic individual could be as spiritual as a religious person. The only difference is that atheists and agnostics are more "pure" than religious people.

Contrary to many religious people, when an atheist chooses to be a decent and clean person, it is "only" for the sake of being decent, unlike religious people who are motivated by future rewards in heaven, or fear of hell in after life.

I think there are more religious people who are evil than people who are atheist or agnostic. Just look at Iran.

Additionally, you are mixing atheism/agnostism with Secularism. These two are entirely different things. Secularism has nothing to do with one's faith. It is only a political movement and a form of government which favors separation of church and state. Both a religious person and an atheist could be seculars. A secular state better protects the religious rights of its citizen than a theocracy. Again, or own country is proof of this.

If you are a Bahai, then you should be first in line to promote secularism in Iran, instead of attacking it.


I find the following

by Seagull (not verified) on

I find the following relevent to your blog Rosie.
best regards

We must strive with heart and soul until
we have the reality of unity in our midst, and as we work, so will strength be given unto us." --Abdu'l-Baha


The Language of faith is..Love

by faryarm on

The Language of faith is Love... and Love is the Language of the "Heart" and soul..

and everything that can not be fathomed by the physical senses, but  felt by the receptive human "Soul", i guess if the Soul is ignored and  malnourished, it dies...one can not blame those whose logic is solely based on the physical and mental powers ignoring the deeper spiritual sense..what can be called the inner reality .

Secular thinking relies only on the intellectual, incapable of understanding the spiritual capacity of mankind.

This poem expresses it beautifully: 

for the the *th time :


I strongly recommend this //reference.bahai.org/en/t/ab/SAQ/saq-55.html

for anyone interested in the logical explanation of the relationship between mind and The Soul




by faryarm on

Dear  Saraamin

i think you update your internet explorer browser from version 4 (2001) to version 7 (2007); you will be more succesful in posting to blogs..



"You can be an ATHEIST but

by Mojtaba (not verified) on

"You can be an ATHEIST but you need the language of faith to move mountains."

This is called DECEPTION!

I rather be HONEST.

Rosie T.

Clarify: "BETRAYAL"/ & this blog is NOT just about the Bahai!!!

by Rosie T. on

BETRAYAL: I wanted to change the line about betrayal but the blog got featued so I can't or it will unfeature.  What I meant to say is that THOSE OF US IN THE PEACE MOVEMENT BETRAY OUR MENTORSWHEN WE PRIVLEGE THE SECULAR OVER THE SPIRITUAL Me too. I've done it too.  I don't mean to say that jj or this website betrays anyone, anything. I am talking about a tendency in the movement especially among Iranians who have an "allergy" to the spiritual due to the recent history.

BAHAI  this blog is not specifically about the Bahai. Of course it is an excellent place for you to talk about it but please don't miss the larger point of what I'm trying to say:  that the false dichotomy between secular and spiritual is dangerous for the peace movement. And thus this website.



bahaii is a taboo for

by Atoosa (not verified) on

bahaii is a taboo for us,Iranian, and it must be broken.let them talk, and do not prohibit them form expressing their words.
i do not get offended by them.actually i kinda like them.