Destruction of Baha'i Holy Sites

August 3, 2004

The persecution of the Bahá'ís of Iran continues: recent months have seen the wanton destruction of two holy sites in Iran. In April, it was learned that the grave of Quddús had been secretly razed over a period of several nights, despite local protests against the government's actions. This weekend the sudden destruction of the house of Mírzá Buzurg-i-Núrí in Tehran was brought to light. It is unknown (to me) how many holy places are left in Iran and Iraq; these were undoubtedly two of the most historical.

Quddús ("The Most Holy"), whose given name was Mulla Muhammad-'Alí Báfurúshi, was also called "El Báb'u'l-Báb" ("Gate of the Gate"), the gateway to the imprisoned Prophet known to history as the Báb. He was the Báb's chief disciple, helping to spread the young Prophet's teachings and explicate His laws. He was slain most cruelly by the mob of Bárfurúsh, the 19th century Persian equivalent of a brutal lynching. Thanks to the efforts of a sympathetic clergyman, the ruin of his body was buried at an old Madrasa (school or college). It was this building that was torn down, after standing as a shrine to this holy soul for over 150 years.

To a Christian, this would be akin to the sack and pillage of the tomb of the Apostle Peter. The other destruction I speak of requires no such analogy: for it is of the house of Bahá'u'lláh's father.

Mírzá Buzurg was of the provincial aristocracy and had been a close adviser (vazír) to the Shah in the first half of the 1800's (a post said to have been offered to Bahá'u'llá Himself after His father's death). Mírzá Buzurg was a beloved figure both in the King's court and amongst his countrymen, and his house had stood amongst non-Bahá'ís as a reminder of Persia's great past and Islamic tradition (the latter being a striking irony of course). But in one fell swoop, the authorities in Tehran brought its walls down. Unfortunately I can find no English-language source to confirm the details.

All I can hope is that these events will only strengthen the collective resolve of the hundreds-of-thousands of Bahá'ís still living under the shadow of persecution in Iran. I would hope for the world's attention, but that would be a vain hope indeed.