Sen's daily

September 23, 2016

Another Bahai business closed in Karaj

Bahai News (Facebook, Persian), September 17, 2016.

A vehicle parts shop in Karaj, run by Javid Iqaneyan ( جاوید ایقانیان ) and his son `Emad Iqaneyan (عماد ایقانیان), was closed by the authorities on September 17. The authorities had refused to renew its business licence, apparently because Mr Javad Iqaneyan is known as a Bahai and has a reputation for integrity and customer service. Three other Bahai-run businesses in Karaj were closed by the authorities on August 16 and 18 this year.

On June 23 this year, the Universal House of Justice issued new guidelines for the observance of Bahai Holy Days in Iran, which allow for various compromises between the Bahais’ desire to close their businesses on the Holy Days and authorities’ desire to reduce the visibility of Bahais in commercial centres. For example, Bahais who have businesses could close the business one day before and one day after the Holy Day as well as on the Holy Day, leave the lights of a business turned on although nobody is working, or have a worker present although no trading is done. But the guidelines reject the idea of seeking official permission to close for a day, where this is neither provided for in legislation nor imposed on non-Bahais, since this would be to accede to government interference in the freedom of conscience. Such compromises have to be worked out locally, and it is not yet clear whether fewer Bahai businesses are being shut down because of the Holy Days issue. The authorities also have a campaign — inconsistently enforced across the country — to exclude Bahais from offering personal services such as optometry to the Muslim population, because Bahais are believed to be “unclean.”

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Older items can be found in the archive, here. Even older news is here.



  1. Hi, Sen
    Wonderful work you do here.
    My comment is a general one about wording in media accounts: it seems to me that rather than say that “Baha’is are *believed* to be unclean”, which refers to an unconfirmable and possibly controversial conclusion about beliefs, it may be better to say “are *said* to be unclean”. Personally I am skeptical about the beliefs of many Iranian officials, but it’s easy to confirm what they say. A second point — perhaps minor — is that this idea of Baha’is being najes — what you are referring to as “unclean” — it is only in Shi’i theology, as far as I am aware — I do not know of Sunni Muslims ever calling a person of any religion — just for being a member of that religion — “unclean”, although for one reason or another an individual may be ritually unclean.

    Comment by petussing — September 23, 2016 @ 22:45 | Reply

    • Some people in Iran may say that Bahais are unclean, but not believe what they are saying, but such people will hardly be a problem. The clerics and officials who make policy and enforce it, to exclude Bahais from certain kinds of work, and to minimise social interractions between Muslims and Bahais, must be regarded as believing the superstition they act on, as actions are the surest demonstration of one’s beliefs.

      The notion of ritual uncleanness is part of Islam, in the formal sense that contact with certain substances such as pork or alcohol is thought to require a ritual washing before the obligatory prayers. The peculiar cultural superstition in Iran is loosely related to this, but instead of the focus being on the need for the believer to perform a ritual washing, it is turned on the object of the supposed uncleanness. It becomes a form of othering the religious minorities, and resembles the “untouchable” idea in Hindu belief more than the ritual cleanliness beliefs of Islam. So far as I know, it is more Iranian than Shiah in origin, but the two are difficult to separate in Iran since Shiah Islam teaches that one should follow the interpretations of a mujtahid, and if the mujtahid is Iranian, Iranian cultural traits will become Shiah teachings. However Shiah in Iraq and Lebanon, for example, do not appear to behave towards the religious minorities in the way that Iranian Shiah do.

      Comment by Sen — September 24, 2016 @ 00:59 | Reply

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