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Nusrat Yalda’i, a mother of four children three sons and one daughter, was executed for her hospitality.
In 1983, this 46 year-old wife and mother was an elected member of the Local Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’is of Shiraz. She loved offering her home as a center of activity for the Baha’i community. Her neighbors, prejudiced against the Baha’i gatherings, harassed Nusrat and her family and finally filed a complaint with the police on the pretext that they were “disturbing the peace.”
When the police suggested she quit hosting Baha’i functions:
… she refused on the grounds that it was her religious obligation to be hospitable, and to open her doors to friends and strangers alike. – Persecution of the Baha’i Community of Iran, 1983-1986, compiled on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, in Baha’i World, Volume 19, p. 186.
Nusrat followed this injunction in the Baha’i teachings:
Make your home a haven of rest and peace. Be ye hospitable and let the doors of your home be open to the faces of friends and strangers. Welcome everyone with a smiling face and let them all feel that they are in my home. – Abdu’l-Baha, Star of the West, Volume 6, p. 20.
In spite of a lack of formal education—she hadn’t gone to high school but had studied the Baha’i teachings—Nusrat developed excellent public speaking skills, which she employed as a Baha’i travel teacher. Thus, the prison guards accused her of lying about her lack of education.
May your faces, being steadfastly set towards the Divine Light, become so luminous that all your thoughts, words and actions will shine with the Spiritual Radiance dominating your souls … – Abdu’l-Baha, Paris Talks, p. 98.
In prison, Nusrat was subjected to almost constant torture. Twice she endured beatings consisting of as many as 200 lashes:
Those who saw her after those beatings testified that the strips of her blood-soaked clothing were embedded in the weals that covered her body. Her wounds, an eyewitness recounted, were still visible after she was hanged. – Persecution of the Baha’i Community of Iran, 1983-1986, compiled on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, in Baha’i World, Volume 19, p. 186.
The authorities’ attempts to coerce Nusrat into a public recantation of her belief in Baha’u’llah, and their preposterous hope that she would then encourage her fellow prisoners to follow her example, were all for naught. Nusrat unequivocally refused, telling them “I am but a drop compared to the ocean of the Cause of Baha’u’llah. Do you think that you can stop the sun from shining? Do you think I was a member of the Baha’i Assembly when this religion was established? You should understand that the light of the Cause of God will not disappear even if I and others were to recant.”
… I say unto you that no calumny is able to prevail against the Light of God; it can only result in causing it to be more universally recognized. If a cause were of no significance, who would take the trouble to work against it!
But always the greater the cause the more do enemies arise in larger and larger numbers to attempt its overthrow! The brighter the light the darker the shadow! Our part is to act in accordance with the teaching of Baha’u’llah in humility and firm steadfastness. – Abdu’l-Baha, Paris Talks, p. 105.