Resilience in the face of persecution
175 Years of Persecution: A History of the Bábís and Bahá’ís of Iran by Fereydun Vahman
Great works of history are themselves history-making, because they transform distant occurrences from the past into a narrative about our current struggle to build a better future.In reading this gripping, meticulously documented historical narrative, the reader is struck by the continuity between past and present. 175 Years of Persecution is a comprehensive and heart-breaking, infuriating but incisive, eloquent yet scholarly account of a virulent, obsessive hatred that has profoundly shaped the construction of Iran’s modern identity. The surfacing, at long last, of this dark and despicable past, and the awakening of enlightened Iranian leaders of thought to this grave injustice, embody an aspiration to live in a just society in which all Iranians enjoy equal rights, irrespective of belief.The original Persian edition of Professor Vahman’s book is now widely considered the authoritative historical source on the persecution of Iranian Bahá’ís. It has become a focal point for understanding the catastrophic consequences for all Iranians of systematic inhumanity against a peaceful and progressive community in their midst. What is perhaps most remarkable is not the more than a century-and-a-half of relentless cruelty and oppression, but the astonishing resilience of the Bahá’í community in the face of such hatred and violence. Despite so many years of unceasing efforts, the clerical establishment has failed to extinguish either the existence or the spirit of the Bahá’í community. On the contrary, the purveyors of religious hatred are confronted today with the manifest failure of their efforts, in view of an unprecedented outpouring of sympathy and support for Bahá’ís.The book is at once a historical epic, a labour of love, and a moral challenge. Professor Vahman’s dignified contribution to historical knowledge is a poignant demonstration of scholarship as resistance against oppression, a reminder that a new and better world begins with the power of words and enlightenment of minds. In this ground-breaking work, he has given us a gift for generations to come: a window into a dark past, but also a door to a bright future.In sum, this book is a history-making work of history, an exceptional book written in an exceptional time in the modern evolution of an ancient nation. Against the backdrop of a grave, historical injustice, it is a narrative rooted in the search for redemption against overwhelming odds.