The education and training of children is among the most meritorious acts of humankind and draweth down the grace and favour of the All-Merciful, for education is the indispensable foundation of all human excellence and alloweth man to work his way to the heights of abiding glory. – Abdu’l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of Abdu’l-Baha, p. 129.

[Ramin Zabaee, a Baha’i imprisoned in Iran for educating Baha’i children barred from school by the Iranian government, recently wrote this open letter to his fellow Iranians from his prison cell.]

We were both born in the same country, the same place and the same motherland. Then why should you have the right to grow and develop in this homeland while I am deprived of it?

Dear Fellow Citizen-

I am addressing you, you who see my suffering and are indifferent to them, as well as you who have empathy for my sufferings and the sufferings of others in your society. See my pain. Hear my silent laments. Reflect for a moment and respond to my question. Share your response not only with me but also with everyone, and observe where we all stand at this time in history.

So, let go of your precious melody and listen to the sad music of this broken harp. Be with me for a moment and meditate on what I say.

Do you believe you are nobler than other human beings? Do you think you were created superior to me? Is your blood thicker than mine? Do you worship God better than I do? Does God love you and not me? What do you think?

If you believe there is no difference in our creation, then what are all the other differences for?

Are you more Iranian than I am? Do you believe that you have love for your motherland and I don’t? Are you from this land and the Aryan race and I am from another land and another race? Even if that were the case, would it make a difference in our nobility as human beings?

Then if you and I are from one land and one race, what is the cause of your distinction and superiority over me? Why should you have a different space for living, have the right to develop while I don’t? Why should this right be given to you but taken away from me? What causes you to feel worthy of these rights but to think of me as undeserving of them? How is it that you are entitled to the same rights of which you deprive me?

Do you have a monopoly on happiness, success and the right to education?

We were both born in the same country, the same place and the same motherland. Then why should you have the right to grow and develop in this homeland while I am deprived of it?

Rajaee Shahr Prison

Rajaee Shahr Prison in Karaj, Iran

If you agree that there is no reason for these distinctions, then show empathy and walk along this path with me. Take advantage of your thoughts, your world view and actions to achieve justice, and realize that your feelings of superiority over me make us separate and distant from each other.

So, do not hesitate to end this discrimination with your conduct!

Have you forgotten that 14 centuries ago – at the time of Prophet Muhammad – a prisoner who educated a free man would be freed? Now it is quite the opposite: in this day and age noble men and women are imprisoned for educating others. Many centuries ago, education and knowledge were so valuable that they were cause for freedom and redemption; whereas in this progressive world and enlightened era they are cause for captivity and imprisonment.

Tell me what caused us to forget the wisdom and value of education?

Tell me, my beloved compatriot, how much longer should this discrimination continue? When will you change your world view?

It has now been three years since my coworkers and I have been imprisoned for teaching at the Baha’i university, and we have not seen even a glimpse of justice. We have sacrificed our freedom and experienced the bitter taste of captivity so that you, my dear friend, may remember how our ancestors valued knowledge and freed war prisoners in order to honor it, and that you may see how in this era, we have forgotten our glorious past.

We continue to hope for a change in your worldview.

Be assured that this will also pass, and it will pass with much honor!

On the occasion of my third year of captivity

21 May, 2014

Ramin Zibaee

Rajai-Shahr Prison

The opinions and views expressed in this article are those of the author only and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of BahaiTeachings.org or any institution of the Baha’i Faith.

1 Comment

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  • Jul 09, 2014
    A very thought provoking letter and filled with honor and dignity!! Thank you for sharing such an up close glimpse into their blessed reality!!