30 years ago in Shiraz ten Baha’i women sacrificed their lives for their Faith

30 years ago I had just graduated from high school and every possibility of life was open infront of me. That was not the case for a beautiful girl only a year younger than me who, together with nine other innocent women, was executed in the historic Iranian city of Shiraz for their belief in the Baha’i Faith. Despite my ongoing interest in world affairs, in my post-graduation joy I had been unaware of that atrocious event. Today, 30 years later, the story of the martyred Baha’i women of Shiraz needs to be retold and shared widely as the fate of their coreligionists in Iran, the cradle of the Baha’i Faith, has not gotten any better over the past 30 years.

Baha'i Women of Shiraz hanged for their beliefs

Baha’i Women of Shiraz hanged for their beliefs

30 years ago in Shiraz ten Baha’i women sacrificed their lives for their Faith

Few incidents are more shocking — or revealing of the religious basis of the persecution against Bahá’ís and the courage with which they faced it — than the group hanging of ten Bahá’í women in Shiraz on 18 June 1983.

Their crime: teaching religious classes to Bahá’í youth — the equivalent of being “Sunday school” teachers in the West.

Ranging in age from 17 to 57, the ten Bahá’í women were led to the gallows in succession. Authorities apparently hoped that as each saw the others slowly strangle to death, they would renounce their own faith.
But according to eyewitness reports, the women went to their fate singing and chanting, as though they were enjoying a pleasant outing.

One of the men attending the gallows confided to a Bahá’í: “We tried saving their lives up to the last moment, but one by one, first the older ladies, then the young girls, were hanged while the others were forced to watch, it being hoped that this might induce them to recant their belief. We even urged them to say they were not Bahá’ís, but not one of them agreed; they preferred the execution.”

All of the women had been interrogated and tortured in the months leading up to their execution. Indeed, some had wounds still visible on their bodies as they lay in the morgue after their execution.

The youngest of these martyrs was Muna Mahmudnizhad, a 17-year-old schoolgirl who because of her youth and conspicuous innocence became, in a sense, a symbol of the group. In prison, she was lashed on the soles of her feet with a cable and forced to walk on bleeding feet.

Yet she never waivered in her faith, even to the point of kissing the hands of her executioner, and then the rope, before putting it around her own throat.

Another young woman, Zarrin Muqimi-Abyanih, 28, told the interrogators whose chief goal was to have her disavow her faith: “Whether you accept it or not, I am a Bahá’í. You cannot take it away from me. I am a Bahá’í with my whole being and my whole heart.”

During the trial of another of the women, Ruya Ishraqi, a 23-year-old veterinary student, the judge said: “You put yourselves through this agony only for one word: just say you are not a Bahá’í and I’ll see that…you are released…” Ms. Ishraqi responded: “I will not exchange my faith for the whole world.”

The names of the other women hanged on 18 June 1983 were: Shahin Dalvand, 25, a sociologist; Izzat Janami Ishraqi, 57, a homemaker; Mahshid Nirumand, 28, who had qualified for a degree in physics but had it denied her because she was a Bahá’í; Simin Sabiri, 25; Tahirih Arjumandi Siyavushi, 30, a nurse; Akhtar Thabit, 25, also a nurse; Nusrat Ghufrani Yalda’i, 47, a mother and member of the local Bahá’í Spiritual Assembly.

As we enjoy the religious freedom of this country, let us pray for the progress of these pure souls who dedicated their lives to the Bahá’í Faith.

9 Responses to “30 years ago in Shiraz ten Baha’i women sacrificed their lives for their Faith

  • once again i watched the video “Mona with the Children” about a 16 year old Sunday school teacher whose faith and love of God is more powerful than the humans who believe they have silenced her… my heart glows with an interesting mix of sadness which transforms thru love to understanding- that ignorance will give way to more powerful ideas of love, peace and justice- i strive to take up my personal call to action to work for the betterment of humanity-

  • Mitko Gerensky
    7 years ago

    Thanks for sharing this beautiful sentiment, David!

  • Allah’u’Abha! Thank you for this beautiful reminder of the sacrifice of those who have walked before us and of the gentleness and beauty of the teachings of the Bab and Baha’u’llah.

  • Je suis Mona

  • I want to use parts of your excellent article. This coming June 16 through 18, we are planning to see how many people around the world give a hand to us to celebrate the legacy of every one of these ten heroines. Shapour Daneshmand, a documentary filmmaker, is putting together a short documentary about these ten souls who gave their lives for what they believed in. Today in Iran and around the globe women stand up for their rights as the killing of these ten innocent souls has released powers in the universe to empower women to stand up everywhere for their rights as the other half of the human community.

  • Dear Foaad, feel free to use any of my text but I am pretty sure a good portion of it is from the Baha’i International Community site: https://www.bic.org/sites/default/files/pdf/iran/thebahaiquestionrevisited_final_160839e.pdf
    or https://news.bahai.org/human-rights/iran/the-bahai-question



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