British Muslim Forum welcomes “historic” initiative by Iranian Ayatollah

Maulana Shahid Raza, Founder Trustee of the British Muslim Forum, has welcomed the “historic initiative of goodwill and friendship” made by Iranian Ayatollah Abdul-Hamid Masoumi Tehrani, who last month gifted a calligraphy of the writings of Baha’u’llah to the Baha’is of the world.

The illuminated calligraphy of the writings of Baha'u'llah, gifted to the Baha'is by Ayatollah Tehrani

The illuminated calligraphy of the writings of Baha’u’llah, gifted to the Baha’is of the world by Ayatollah Tehrani

“The British Muslim Forum warmly welcomes the historic initiative of goodwill and friendship made by Ayatollah Tehrani. The Forum congratulates the Ayatollah for his courageous and dignified act and sincerely hopes that it will open the door of constructive inter-faith relations between the two faith communities in Iran,” said Maulana Shahid Raza.

“The Forum also extends its greetings to the Baha’i community in the UK,” continued Maulana Shahid Raza, “and hopes that they will work with their utmost dedication to respond to this initiative in a way that may result in bringing much needed understanding between the two communities in Iran and elsewhere in the world.”

Ayatollah Tehrani presented the exquisite gift particularly to the Baha’is of Iran, who he says, “have suffered in manifold ways as a result of blind religious prejudice.” He further states that this act is “an expression of sympathy and care from me and on behalf of all my open-minded fellow citizens.”

The Ayatollah’s gift has stirred a global conversation on religious co-existence, with statements being issued in support of Ayatollah Tehrani’s plea for religious co-existence.

Prominent UK Imam “proud” to endorse gift from Iranian Ayatollah to Baha’is

Ibrahim-MograSheikh Ibrahim Mogra has said he gleaned “hope and optimism” from Iranian Ayatollah Tehrani’s stand for coexistence with the Baha’i community in Iran, who are heavily persecuted.

Earlier this month, Ayatollah Abdol-Hamid Masoumi-Tehrani, a prominent Iranian cleric and scholar, took a stand for coexistence with Iran’s Baha’i minority by presenting a gift of his calligraphy of the writings of Baha’u’llah – the Founder of the Baha’i Faith – to the Baha’is of the world.

“[Ayatollah Tehrani] has reminded us that Islam is a religion of peace that recognises diversity of every kind as part of God’s design for his creation. And it all came in the form of a gift – one which I am proud to endorse,” said Sheikh Ibrahim.

“I am proud, as a Muslim and as an imam, to celebrate this enlightened gift, which has such immense spiritual significance. The faiths of the world should be united in promoting coexistence to advance human civilisation.”

Sheikh Ibrahim Mogra is assistant secretary general of the Muslim Council of Britain and serves as an imam in Leicester. His is ardent defender of the values of tolerance and coexistence, and is at the forefront of deepening interfaith relations in the UK.

Click here to read his article in full (Guardian online).

Former Archbishop praises symbolic gesture by Iranian cleric

Archbishop Rowan for Jo - 6MBs

Lord Williams of Oystermouth. Photo courtesy of Magdalene College.

Former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams has praised the “courage and generosity” of an Iranian cleric who last week presented a symbolic gift to the Baha’is of the world.

The gift, a calligraphy of a paragraph from the writings of Baha’u’llah, the Prophet-founder of the Baha’i Faith, was given to the Baha’is of the world by Ayatollah Abdol-Hamid Masoumi-Tehrani, a prominent Muslim cleric in Iran.

“[The gift] represents not only a personally gracious gesture but also a strand within the Islamic world at its best and most creative which is deeply appreciative of all that helps human beings to respond to God’s will for peace and understanding,” said Lord Williams of Oystermouth.

Ayatollah Tehrani states on his website (see translation) that he prepared the calligraphy of the verse as a, “symbolic action to serve as a reminder of the importance of valuing human beings, of peaceful coexistence, of cooperation and mutual support, and avoidance of hatred, enmity and blind religious prejudice.”

The gesture is remarkable in light of the ongoing and systematic persecution of the Baha’i community in Iran.

“Deeply touched”

“The Baha’i International Community is deeply touched by this act of high-mindedness and the sentiments of religious tolerance and respect for human dignity that prompted it,” said Bani Dugal, Principal Representative of the Baha’i International Community at the United Nations.

“This bold action by a senior Muslim cleric in contemporary Iran is unprecedented,” added Ms. Dugal.

Ayatollah Tehrani presented this exquisite gift to the Baha’is of the world, particularly to the Baha’is of Iran, who he says, “have suffered in manifold ways as a result of blind religious prejudice.” He further states that this act is “an expression of sympathy and care from me and on behalf of all my open-minded fellow citizens.”

Lord Williams added that, “along with many others of all faiths, I shall pray that this marks a turning point in Iran’s attitudes to the Baha’i community, and I give thanks for the courage and generosity which have motivated this gift.’

The preparation and dedication of Ayatollah Tehrani’s gift was undertaken at great personal risk, given that the Iranian government refuses to recognise the Baha’i Faith as a religion and has systematically persecuted Baha’is since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

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