published in Contemporary Review of the Middle East, 6:1, pages 58-74 2019
Abstract: Since the inception of the Baha’ism as an independent faith in Persia, its adherents came under attack from the religious clergy which perceived the growing popularity of this new faith as a threat to their monopolistic position in the society. Education and economy were the two dominant fields where the Baha’is prospered in pre-revolution Iran, thereby contributing to the modernization of Persia. However, being a post-Abrahamic faith in its origin, the Islamic clergy viewed the Baha’is as apostates and an enemy of Islam, which led to the persistent targeting and attacks on the Baha’is over the faith’s origin and as an essentially incompatible and contradictory disposition in the Baha’i–ulema relations. While the pre-revolution Iran shows an ulema–monarchy convergence in their attack on the Baha’is, the post-revolution Iran witnessed the same through consolidation of state–ulema powers in the form of the new Islamic Republic. The discrimination and persecutions of the Baha’is in the post-1979 Iran increased considerably, and one can witness a deviation of the homogenous perception on the Baha’is by the religious clergy class. The conservative reformist faction of the ulema has given rise to newer and opposing perspectives on the Baha’is, the largest non-recognized religious minority in Iran.