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This is the second half of a recent letter from Vahid Tizfahm—an imprisoned Baha’i in Iran—which was sent to his son two weeks ago.
My dear son, after my father was martyred I studied diligently and although during my elementary and high school years I was the target of many insults and discrimination by some of my teachers and classmates, but most of them supported me and defended my rights as a Baha’i student. After graduation from high school I was prevented from entering university; I had to continue my education by correspondence through the Baha’i Institute for Higher Education. I was not the only one. In spite of the illegality of the ban, and in violation of the Rights of the People chapter of the Constitution, thousands of Baha’i youth have been deprived of pursuing higher education in the country’s universities. They have, however, diligently endeavored to triumph over this calamity by continuing their education through correspondence and under extremely difficult circumstances. They studied in a university that was, in fact, established as a response to this adversity. In 2002, 19 years after my father was martyred, the authorities ordered the destruction of the Baha’i cemetery in Orumiyeh. We had to move my father’s remains to another location and this was a reminder of all the bitter memories of the past.
My dear son, Samim, during all these years your father has spent his time and energies in the service of the Baha’i community and his countrymen, and he has never missed an opportunity to do so. Indeed, I am guilty of striving to assist and support others. Nothing else! Of course, many of these hardships have been endured by innumerable Baha’is in cities and villages across our country and much time is required to also tell their stories.
Iranian society has changed now and one can observe many signs of its growth and transformation. For instance, many freedom-loving and open-minded people from different social groups, including enlightened clergy, liberal writers, courageous journalists, independent and self-sacrificing lawyers, as well as social, political and cultural activists have all become aware of the truth, and they defend the rights of all their compatriots including the Baha’i community and people like me.
My dear son, with ever-growing awareness, rising social consciousness and the Iranian people’s increasing sensitivity to the human rights of all their countrymen, we can now be hopeful for a brighter future with diminishing discrimination and persecution of freethinkers, adherents of other ideologies, other racial and religious minorities, and intellectuals in this society, all of whom are a great source of honor for Iran. I am extremely hopeful that today’s adolescents and youth – and you are one of them – will be able to play a major role in bringing about awareness, progress in education, justice and equity, the eradication of poverty and promotion of morality and spirituality in the Iranian society. I hope they will resolutely and selflessly persevere in promoting the spiritual, social and economical development of our beloved Iran with the aid and collaboration of our countrymen.
The development of Iran requires the participation and cooperation of every Iranian regardless of class, race or religion. I faithfully say this prayer every night before I lay my head down:
O kind Lord! Thus Thou be the supporter and bestow strength so that they may attain their desire, be heedless to the amount of worldly possessions, and make that country an exemplar of the celestial world above. - Abdu’l-Baha, provisional translation.
Therefore, my dear son, the thoughts, objectives and beliefs of yourself and other adolescents and youth of your generation must be focused on spiritual, moral and personal growth as well as service to humanity and to your compatriots, so that when called upon, you may serve those around you by dedicating your time, energy and talents to develop their potential so that together you may continue to learn through experience, and by expanding a discourse based on love and unity, aid them in their struggle for spiritual, personal and material growth. You ardent and capable adolescents and young people are the source of love and hope among those who need help and assistance and yearn for happiness and a better life.