The Baha'i Faith & Religious Freedom of Conscience

Universal Religion, Jenabe Fazel Mazandarani

Brief Quotations - Professor Juan Cole     Selected Messages

From: Juan Cole <>
To: Dagur Nordberg <>
Cc: <>; <>
Subject: Re: uniting Talisman and Irfan
Date: Thursday, June 11, 1998 7:29 PM
Dear Dagur:
I know it is hard to hear that one's religious leaders are human beings who
have foibles, since for most people religion is about creating a fantasy
world that serves as an alternative to the real world.  In the 'real world'
people can make mistakes.  But, of course, the Shi`ite ayatollahs, the
popes, the hands of the cause and the members of the house of justice, the
televangelists, the Hindu gurus, the Buddhist monks--these are not ordinary
human beings, don't have prejudices, are pure and kind and angelic.
For anyone who believes such a thing, of course, it is almost impossible to
supply evidence to the contrary.
Let us take Furutan, for instance.  When Fadil Mazandarani published the
third volume of his monumental history of the Babi-Baha'i religions in Iran
in the 1940s, Furutan was on the Iran NSA and he hit the roof.  This book,
he said, contained reprinted Babi primary sources that contradicted the
accounts in Nabil's narrative.  This could not be allowed.  Furutan
organized an assault on Mazandarani, made him withdraw the book from
circulation, and made him sign a prepared confession that it was wrong of
him to have published those sources that contained discrepancies with
Nabil.  Mazandarani was permanently silenced in Iran, and his children are
not Baha'is.  His massive 9-volume history of the faith has never been
allowed to be published.
Now, Furutan may love children and dogs and be able to summon a kind smile
when greeting pilgrims.  But he is an Inquisitor.  He ruined Fadil
Mazandarani's life and destroyed the foundation of Baha'i historiography in
the twentieth century.  Why?  A) Because he had this moronic, narrow-minded
idea that Nabil's Narrative should be canonized as an unchallengeable piece
of scripture and that all other Babi historical texts should therefore be
suppressed (even if earlier and more reliable) and B) because he had gained
the power to do so by virtue of the transformation of the Baha'i
institutions into Leninist vanguards in the 1930s and 1940s.
I repeat that this man is a bigot, and by his anti-intellectualism and
fundamentalism contributed to the destruction of the Baha'i faith as a
religion for thinking people in this century.  Of course, perhaps now he is
sorry for what he did to Fadil Mazandarani, whose shoes he is not good
enough to have shined.  Perhaps he has changed for the better.  I don't
know.  I know he's never publicly apologized for his inquisition or his
destruction of Baha'i intellectual life.
The comforting thing is that if the Baha'i faith hasn't dwindled into
nothingness in 500 years (a real possibility if its leaders go on in the
present direction), people will still be reading Fadil Mazandarani's
histories, and Furutan will be remembered only as a footnote in that great
man's biographies, rather as the cardinal who persecuted Galileo is now
known for nothing else that he did.
So is this enough evidence for you?
cheers   Juan