About Sen

Bio

I am interested especially in Bahai theology (theology is what Bahais usually call ‘deepening,’ but conducted in a systematic and self-critical way) and, within that, in political theology (which Bahais call ‘the social teachings’). I wrote my MA dissertation on Church and State in Islam and the Bahai Faith, and am now working on a study of the institutions of the Bahai community, which is intended to become a PhD thesis

Languages

Dutch, English, Persian

Areas of Expertise

Bahai theology

Comments & conversations

116307
Sen McGlinn
Posted about 4 years ago
A TASTE of IRAN
Sometimes Someone said, "Even if you're hypothesis is true,and the politician was a Baha'i what does it have with the religion as a whole? " Hoveida was not a Bahai. Even if he was, why should Bahai children today be banned from universities, why should Bahai adults today be banned from most forms of employment, why should the cemeteries of the Bahais today be vandalised - not with a spray can here or there, by systematically with loaders and bulldozers - because one man years ago was a Prime Minister? Perhaps "some, not all," of the Bahai corpses were spies? The "thinking" SR exhibits is truly beyond belief. In any case, Hoveida was not a Bahai. In a biography of Hoveida, "The Persian Sphinx," Abbas Milani cites Amir-Abbas Hoveida’s brother – Fereydoun Hoveida – writing (p47) “I was fourteen years old when I first heard the word ‘Baha’i’ and learned what it meant from a friend.” So he grew up in a non-Bahai family, even though his grandfather had been a Bahai. His parents had chosen not to be Bahais, and not tell their children about the Bahai Faith. Hoveida himself became a freemason and engaged in party politics, neither of which is compatible with being a Bahai. Hoveida was repeatedly forced to deny he was ever a Baha’i. Yet, the rumors persisted and, after he had become Prime Minister, Hoveida began persecuting the Bahais to prove he was not a Baha’i himself. Documents from the Shah’s secret police (SAVAK) confiscated and made public after the 1979 revolution revealed that in 1967 he ordered the firing of Baha’is from the Ministry of Petroleum. In the same year, Hoveida also ordered termination of all Baha’i students who were studying nursing and were affiliated with Iran’s Ministry of Petroleum. (Velveleh Dar Shahr, p. 105. Online at: http://www.velvelehdarshahr.org/ ) Because loyalty to one's government is a Bahai principle, naturally Bahais cannot engage in spying against their government. In any case, they are under constant surveillance in Ira
116307
Sen McGlinn
Posted about 4 years ago
A TASTE of IRAN
Dear Muhammad Aizat, Many of the Bahais, and the other oppressed people of Iran, do leave, but most stay. There are many reasons, first, many want to stay. - They have families in Iran (many families are part-Bahai, because becoming Bahai is a matter of conviction, not of birth), - they are farmers with land (because of the exclusion of Bahais from most forms of employment, Bahais are generally labourers, small shopkeepers, or farmers). - Perhaps they hope that things will be better next year, or soon. - They feel a religious obligation to Iran, as the cradle of the Bahai Faith (it is our 'Holy Land', as Palestine is the Holy Land for Christians), and patriotic attachment. The Bahai writings speak of a great future for Iran as a modern nation regaining its former glory (eg http://reference.bahai.org/en/t/ab/SDC/sdc-1.html#pg9 ) - They know from contact with Iranians who have left to settle in other countries that it is often very difficult to settle in a new country among strangers. Will the new country ever feel like home? Will the people accept me? Second, they may be unable to leave. The government makes it difficult. To give one example, the Human Rights Activists' News Agency reported in June 2010 (http://tinyurl.com/shiraz50) that 50 young Baha'is from Shiraz, whose suspended sentences on charges of tutoring underprivileged children were coming to an end, had their sentences modified to include a travel ban. If they wish to leave, they have to post a bond of about US $50,000, forfeit if they do not return. (At one time Bahais would cross the border into Afghanistan, more recently it seems that the Turkish border has been more popular. Some can take the train and leave officially (see http://tinyurl.com/bahairefugees), but if they have no passport or they fear for their families in Iran, they leave illegally. This is physically difficult; it means walking through mountains and crossing rivers (see http://tinyurl.com/pouyas-story for an example).
116307
Sen McGlinn
Posted about 4 years ago
A TASTE of IRAN
Sorry to be so long in replying. I've been at a conference studying anti-Bahaism in Iran's intellectual history. The proceedings are on line now: http://www.soundofbahai.com/ but most of the presentations are in Persian. However Kamran Eqbal's talk on Abdu'l-Baha and Jewish Immigration to Palestine is in English, so are the talks by Farzaneh Milani, Homa Katouzian, Reza Afshari, Nazila Ghanea (Baha'is and the Development of Human Rights in Iran), and a few others. Certainly I do not blame Islam for the teacher's act! Bahais believe in Muhammad as the Messenger of God, and use the Quran alongside their own scripture as a holy text. And I took courses in Islamic studies at university, so I know better. The actions of that teacher are simply an example of of the effects on the minds of many Iranian people of constant anti-bahai propaganda, which the Bahais cannot contradict because the censorship prevents them from speaking in public media. So they get a one-sided view, and start to think that Bahais are some sort of monsters, or moral degenerates, or spies for Israel, or the like. This behaviour has nothing to do with Islam: it is the fruit of an authoritarian government which uses the old technique of find internal enemies to make its citizens anxious, so that it can strengthen its grip on them by "protecting" them from the imagined threat. Authoritarian governments all over the world do this, and most of these governments are not religious at all - they do it in the name of nationalism, or at one time communism, or in the name of the Dear Leader, etc.. This example, of a teacher abusing a Bahai child, was not unusual: I was writing on June 17, and simply went to the Human Rights site RAHANA to see what persecution of the Bahais had happened that day. You can get a picture of the constant violation of the human rights of religious minorities in Iran from: http://www.rahana.org/en/?cat=15 and for those who can read Persian: http://www.hranews.info/263/a23.html
116307
Sen McGlinn
Posted about 4 years ago
A TASTE of IRAN
Muhammad Aizat Zainal Alam wrote "Sorry again for my English.I thought belief=religion.I agree with you.Anything that's negative towards anyone should be fight against.They teach people to be anti-sunni as well?" Your English is good, but English is slippery. "Belief" can mean a religion, like Shi'ism, and that is worthy of respect. But belief can also mean one doctrine, or it can mean an ideology, like communist beliefs. I understand that you meant: we should respect the religion of the people of Iran, and then I agree with you. Yes, the state-supported ideological classes that teach anti-Bahaism, also teach people what is wrong (as they see it) with Sunnism. They call Sunnism Wahhabism. You can get an idea from this article in Fars new agency advertising the success of one of these seminars (NB the image is offensive): http://www.farsnews.com/newstext.php?nn=8901260159 In the picture, the blue with the star on it represents Judaism, the crown of thorns is Christianity, the red side is the Arabs/Sunni/Saudi kind of Islam, and the skull of course is death. Fars News Agency is an important one, usually called a semi-official agency (it is apparently government-funded and controlled) - see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fars_News_Agency. Here's another Fars News Agency report (very offensive image): http://www.farsnews.com/newstext.php?nn=8811190694 This one is targeted just at the Bahais, who are supposed to be spreading moral corruption among children and youth, using "my princess friends" disposable cups. You can imagine the effect on the minds of the people, when they are faced with such hateful materials every day, when children get it at school, and the mosques which should be holy places are used to spread it, and it even reaches into universities.
116307
Sen McGlinn
Posted about 4 years ago
A TASTE of IRAN
Thanks for the feedback. I hope other people see that anti-bahaism is irrational and dangerous nonsense, or should I go through all the arguments? Like - Bahai being "made in Israel." !! Bahai Faith was founded 1844 AD (in Iran); Israel was founded 1948 AD, 104 years later. - Or "Baha'i people do pray into Israel." --- but Mr. Ahmadi prays towards Saudi Arabia (Mecca), so does that make him a Wahhabi spy? - or:(his response to my saiying "Bahais are the largest religious minority." : "really? I did not know this. why they all are not arrested?" As if being a religious minority is criminal. The police are very lax if some have not been arrested yet! I know that most Iranians are not like this, but there are enough people like Mr Ahmadi to make it very difficult for Iran to become a modern country, with one law for all and human rights and civil rights. I think if one day, God willing, a government tried to make equal rights for all Iranians (women too ! ), without any discrimination, these people would try to organise a coup to stop it.
116307
Sen McGlinn
Posted about 4 years ago
A TASTE of IRAN
I think that if one's beliefs are, that people of other beliefs do not deserve human rights, this belief cannot be respected, it must be opposed. Not all beliefs are equally good. Racism is a belief - it is a wicked belief, that destroys societies and harms individuals, and has no basis in fact. Antisemitism is a belief, and I do not respect it, I do not respect antisemite people. Anti-Bahaism is a belief system, I do not respect it at all. In Iran, anti-bahaism is a state-supported ideology. It is propagated from the top by institutes such as the Political Studies and Research Institute, and the Institute for Iranian Contemporary Historical Studies, and by intellectuals such as Abdullah Shahbazi, and at the lower levels there are Islamic Education institutions that give anti-Bahai courses and hold symposia and exhibitions in the major cities, and then a third tier in small cities and villages, which host things like anti-bahai evening classes for workers. Parallel to this there are anti-bahai courses taught at Qom, and teachers from there go to other centres. And there are "free lance" anti-bahai activities run by the Hojatiyyeh society. Here are some examples: an anti-Bahai (anti-sunni, anti-sufi) course in a regional town http://www.iranpresswatch.org/post/4567 the anti-Bahai section at the Tehran book fair: http://www.iranpresswatch.org/post/2661 (note the uniform of the anti-bahaists) The article on anti-Bahaism in the Encyclopaedia Iranica: http://www.iranica.com/articles/bahaism-vii which says "no convincing evidence has ever been presented for Bahai involvement with British, Israeli, or American intelligence or with SAVAK (the state security agency): the real reasons for Bahai unpopularity must be sought on deeper social and psychological levels." (this includes a bibliography of anti-bahai literature) And an article by a Bahai historian on the same topic: http://www.scribd.com/doc/17569065/F-Kazemzadeh-On-Allegations-of-Origin-and-Relations
116307
Sen McGlinn
Posted about 4 years ago
A TASTE of IRAN
Dear Muhammad, you can ask me anything. The articles in wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bah%C3%A1%27%C3%AD_Faith the BBC religions site http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/bahai/ and Encyclopaedia Iranica http://www.iranica.com/articles/bahaism-index are good. The Bahai scriptures are online, for example http://reference.bahai.org/en/ (also in Persian and Arabic) or http://bahai-library.com/ or you can download them all in a search engine, which includes many other religious sources (1000 books of 10 world religions in English), at http://bahai-education.org/ocean/ Then if you want to know about, say, incest, you choose the Bahai bookshelf in Ocean, type in "incest" and you find : "It is difficult to imagine a more reprehensible perversion of human conduct than the sexual abuse of children, which finds its most debased form in incest. (The Universal House of Justice, 1992, Violence and Sexual Abuse of Women and Children) It is difficult to keep calm with S.R.Ahmadi. I do not understand why he is allowed on TED forums. These are some of the things he has said about Bahais: - Bahai Faith is a fake religion made by Imperialism and supported by Israel for destroying Islam. - Bahai Faith always sent secret information of Iran to Israel. - they had many insults to Muslim leaders and Islamic schools. - they wish fall of Iran revolution and getting power after it. - Baha'i Faith was and still is a puppet of Israel inside Islam community for spying and destroying Islam. - they are potentially ready to become agent of Israel ... it is a pre-planned process and takes many years to a bahai be ready for this job. - marriage with daughter and sister is allowed in Baha'i faith ... - it is banned in Bahai that non bahai people know believes [beliefs] of Bahai. Anti-Bahaism should be unnacceptable, like antisemitism or racial prejudices. He believes that people with the wrong religion "have no rights as human." What useful thing could he tell us?
116307
Sen McGlinn
Posted about 4 years ago
A TASTE of IRAN
The laws of the Bahai Faith are usually in the form of general principles, which are to be applied according to circumstances by elected councils, known as Assemblies or House of Justice. The general principle for the forbidden degrees of marriage is : “distance is nearer than nearness.” and also that non-blood relationships are equivalent to blood relationships, that is, your step-mother is the same as your mother, your wife's aunt is the same as your own aunt, an adopted child is the same as your own child. You can read about this on my blog at http://senmcglinn.wordpress.com/2010/11/22/religious-law-and-house-of-justice/ and in the Persian original at http://www.h-net.org/~bahai/areprint/ab/G-L/I/inba59/59IBA275.gif (last item on the page). I am sure that no Bahai Assembly has ever given a ruling on whether a man can marry his sister. The question is too absurd to ever arise. That you keep asking this, shows how prejudiced you are.
116307
Sen McGlinn
Posted about 4 years ago
A TASTE of IRAN
Dear Sha B, another sort-of-question SR asks is "as I know it is banned in Bahai that non bahai people know believes [beliefs] of Bahai. right?" Naturally there is no truth at all in this. Bahai beliefs are available to everyone, published in hundreds of different languages, posted on internet sites, in Wikipedia and Britannica and Encyclopaedia Iranica etc... And SR could have proven this for himself with a 30-second search. But he does not seek the truth, he seeks confirmation of prejudices. Every system of "othering" a people has to include this theme of a secret teaching or secret behaviour which, somehow, is know to the propagandists of the prejudice. For example, if you want to spread hate about red-headed people, you claim they have a secret plot to seize power, or that they have secret meetings open only to red-headed people. Of course people say to themselves, "the red-headed people I know are not like that." But then, if there was a SECRET red-headed plot to rule the world, you wouldn't know about it, would you. So perhaps it does exist. So the sowers of prejudices spread mistrust and doubt to other people. Muhammad Aizat Zainal Alam said for example: "Malaysians learn about the Baha'i faith in school.I am pretty sure they have no links with the Jews/Zionist/Israel. However, what S.R said did raise some questions.Who knows,right? anything is possible..." In this case, it is about Bahais, but it could equally well be antisemitism, or racial prejudice, or ethnic prejudice. If you start to think that the XX might have a secret plot to seize power, or secret meetings where they insult your mother, etc., you become suspicious of that group. The plot could be so very very secret, no evidence ever comes out. Nobody can prove the plot does not exist. Best to play it safe and distrust them, ban them from universities, from government work ... and so a whole society can slide in paranoia and bigotry. Fear of the "other" is a potent poison
116307
Sen McGlinn
Posted about 4 years ago
A TASTE of IRAN
Dear Sha B, Another sort-of-question from SR is this, "did you know Howeida ( prime minister before revolution) was a Bahai" The thing is, SR has heard this so many times in books and media and blogs etc., he thinks it is true. But is it? Where is the evidence? Did Hoveida have a Bahai marriage? Did he raise his children as Bahais? Was he ever elected to serve on a Bahai Assembly (elected councils that run the affairs of local Bahai communities)? Did he ever go on Bahai pilgrimmage? Did he write anything in favour of the Bahais? The answer to all these questions of course is no. But people who are deeply prejudiced do not ask themselves rational questions that might test their beliefs. They seek confirmation, whereas the rational approach is to seek dis-confirmation (see Popper's work on the philosophy of science, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Falsifiability ). There are indications that suggest Hoveida could not have been a Bahai: 1) Hoveida joined the Foroughi Lodge of Freemasonry in 1960. Bahais are not permitted to be freemasons, by Bahai rules. 2) Documents from SAVAK made public after the 1979 revolution revealed that in 1967 Hoveida ordered the firing of Baha’is from the Ministry of Petroleum, and the termination of all Baha’i students who were studying nursing and were affiliated with that Ministry of Petroleum. (see Velveleh Dar Shahr, p. 103. Online at: http://www.velvelehdarshahr.org/ ) 3) Hovedia repeatedly denied being a Bahai, and Bahais are not permitted to practice dissimulation (taqiyya), by Bahai rules. See for example Naraghi, Ehsan. From Palace to Prison: Inside the Iranian Revolution, 1994, p. 43. But these are only indicative - the strongest logical answer to this rumour is that there is no evidence to support it. It is not rational to believe things for which there is no evidence.