It is a fundamental teaching of Baha’u’llah to be obedient to the government of the land. ” The one true God, exalted be His glory, hath ever regarded, and will continue to regard, the hearts of men as His own, His exclusive possession. All else, whether pertaining to land or sea, whether riches or glory, He hath bequeathed unto the Kings and rulers of the earth. From the beginning that hath no beginning the ensign proclaiming the words “He doeth whatsoever He willeth” hath been unfurled in all its splendor before His Manifestation. What mankind needeth in this day is obedience unto them that are in authority, and a faithful adherence to the cord of wisdom. The instruments which are essential to the immediate protection, the security and assurance of the human race have been entrusted to the hands, and lie in the grasp, of the governors of human society. This is the wish of God and His decree.” (Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 206, c 1870s)
In 1938, the leader of the Baha’i Faith, Baha’u’llah’s Great Grandson, Shoghi Effendi, reasserted this obligation, “Theirs is the duty to demonstrate, on one hand, the nonpolitical character of their Faith, and to assert, on the other, their unqualified loyalty and obedience to whatever is the considered judgment of their respective governments.” (Shoghi Effendi, The World Order of Baha’u’llah, p. 63)
To this ends, the Baha’i Faith has, at the behest of the government of the day, obeyed any imposition upon the community. The reason for Baha’u’llah’s teachings on loyalty are inextricably bound to the basic virtues of trustworthiness and truthfulness. The Baha’i community has proven this obedience even when this has meant disbanding the Baha’i governance system. The Indonesian Baha’i community had their governance system banned for 30 years until 2000. It stands to reason then that, by virtue of that same adherence to trustworthiness and truthfulness, Baha’is cannot dissemble their faith even under government direction. Likewise the Baha’i discipline to this ends means that all the allegations against the Baha’i community about espionage for the British, USA, or Israel, is anathema to the Baha’i Faith. These allegations speak more about the mindset and typical actions of the accussers.
The Baha’i International Community, therefore, has issued an open letter to Iran’s prosecutor general outlining the tragic history of the persecution of Baha’is in that country, explaining their innocence in the face of accusations made by the government, and asking for fairness in any upcoming trial of seven Baha’i prisoners.
Sent late yesterday by email to Ayatollah Qorban-Ali Dorri-Najafabadi, the letter also suggests that the government’s continued oppression of Baha’is will ultimately have a wide impact on Iranian society as a whole.
“Your Honor, the decisions to be taken by the judiciary in Iran in the coming days will have implications that extend well beyond the Baha’i community in that land – what is at stake is the very cause of the freedom of conscience for all the peoples of your nation,” said the six-page letter, dated 4 March 2009.
“It is our hope that, for the sanctity of Islam and the honor of Iran, the judiciary will be fair in its judgment.”
The letter comes after a series of statements from Ayatollah Najafabadi quoted in the Iranian news media leveling charges at the Baha’is and stating that the ad hoc arrangements that tend to the spiritual and social affairs of the Baha’i community of Iran are illegal..
“The Islamic Republic of Iran will not allow any movement to harm the national security through illegal and unauthorized organizational activities,” he said, referring specifically to Baha’is, according to an account published by the Islamic Republic News Agency.
The seven members of the group that had been coordinating the affairs of the Baha’is at the national level and who have been in prison for some 10 months, responded to the declaration from their prison cell. They stated that if the current arrangements for administering the affairs of the Baha’i community are no longer acceptable to the government, to bring them to a close would not present a major obstacle. They said this is now being done, to further demonstrate the goodwill that the Baha’is have consistently shown to the government for the past thirty years.