In another brave gesture, senior cleric calls for justice

December 21, 2015

BAHA'I WORLD CENTRE — Ayatollah Abdol-Hamid Masoumi-Tehrani, a senior Muslim cleric in Iran, has courageously called on his nation's people to uphold a higher standard of justice and dignity for all of their countrymen and women.

In a recent article on his website, he has dedicated a new piece of calligraphy—a passage from the writings of Baha'u'llah—to the Baha'is who were arrested on baseless charges in November of this year. The extract chosen by Ayatollah Tehrani, taken from "The Hidden Words", speaks to the undaunted response of the Iranian Baha'i community to ongoing and systematic persecution.

This symbolic action follows on his gift to the Baha'is of the world in April 2014 of an illuminated calligraphic rendering of a verse from the Baha'i writing that says, "Consort with all religions with amity and concord".

His recent article (available here in Persian) expresses the hope that his act "may raise the conscience of my fellow countrymen by considering increasing their respect for human dignity and not focusing their attention on different ethnicities, languages and religions".

He also challenges his compatriots to examine the chasm between the values espoused by their religion and the acts of oppression perpetrated in its name.

A calligraphic work by Ayatollah Abdol-Hamid Masoumi-Tehrani, containing the words of Baha'u'llah Slideshow
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A calligraphic work by Ayatollah Abdol-Hamid Masoumi-Tehrani, containing the words of Baha'u'llah

Ayatollah Tehrani has also posted a statement on his Facebook page (available here in English) in which he calls upon "progressive people of Iran to advance the topic of civil rights for all Iranians, irrespective of religion, sex, race, and ethnicity.

"National identity and not religious differences should be regarded as the unifying agency for all citizen of that country. Aggrandizing differences instead of accentuating similarities results in nothing but oppression and corruption," the statement continues.

Ayatollah Tehrani's voice is raised together with the voices of a growing number of Iranian intellectuals and artists, both within and outside Iran, who are promoting a culture of justice and coexistence and speaking out on behalf of Baha'is and other groups facing oppression in Iran. See 'other stories' below.