art ~ spirit ~ transformation

e*lix*ir #15, Special Issue on Iran
Winter 2022



“Their only crime...”

Holy Soil

Holy Soil: The Endurance of the Bahá’ís of Iran by Ighan
Hadigheh: A Bahá’í House of Worship in Tehran by Saba
The Blue Prayer Book by Hannan Hashemi
In Front of the School by Nava
The Roll-Away Pumpkin by Tanin Azadi
The Castle at Maku by Nogol Sadri

The Scent of Roses

The Scent of Roses by Nooshin Mavaddati
A Great Green Enignma by Mehrsa Mastoori
My Tiny Fruit Garden by Foad Bahrami
My Blessed Spot by Hannan Hashemi
Spring in My Grandmother’s Yard by Morvarid Ighani
The Garden of Memories by Sama Khalili

Candles in the Darkness

The Candle in My Family by Alhan
A Shower of Bullets by Daniel Sabet Rasekhi
From Thief to Benefactor by Foad Bahrami
The Green Handprint by Nava
The Kolahduz of Barfurush by Sama Khalili
An Immortal Man by Taranom
The Whisper by Andisheh Taslimi


From A Tale of Love by Mahvash Sabet
translated by Shahin Mowzoon and adapted by Sandra Lynn Hutchison

Personal Reflections on Bahá’í Texts

Calamity: The Path to Eternity by Hannan Hashemi
The Way Home by Daniel Sabet Rasekhi
The Light in the Darkness by Sama Khalili
From Your Inmost Being by Taraneh


A Small Light in a Dark Room by Andisheh Taslimi
Hope for the Future of Iran by Mehrsa Mastoori


Painting and Interview with Shahriar Cyrus by Mehrsa Mastoori
Resilience by Lynn Miller

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Soraya Tohidi

A Small Light in a Dark Room: A Letter to My Child


2 August 2022

My dearest child,

As I write this, I am in my early twenties. In many other countries around the world, young people my age can study subjects of their choice in universities. They feel safe and secure and live in peace. They can wear anything they like, speak freely about their beliefs, and enjoy the freedom to go where they please. I hope that when you read this letter, you are in the same situation. I hope you and your generation have the freedoms I do not have, for my own experience of life is far from what I hope for you.

As a Bahá’í living in Iran, I do not have any civil rights and must endure disrespectful treatment, sometimes daily. This may be difficult for you and for some others around the world to understand; you cannot feel the pain we experience every day. Every morning we wake up hearing news of Bahá’ís arrested in different cities in Iran, of the looting of Bahá’í properties, and of the closing of shops. On July 19th, 2022, Hannan Hashemi, a Bahá’í and one of my best friends, was arrested. And on July 31st, 2022, my uncle’s home and property were looted. In different cities of Iran, more than eighty Bahá’ís were attacked, arrested, arraigned. or jailed in June and July of this year.

Sometimes I tell myself, “This is the end, I cannot go on anymore,” but then I think about the reasons we Bahá’ís in Iran are so bravely enduring all these things. The Bahá’í Faith has come to bring peace and unity to the world, and it is our job to help reach this goal. My child, I believe I am living in a very important period in history. I believe all the Bahá’ís who are living in Iran and tolerating these terrible conditions are playing a crucial role in building a better future.

My professor, Dr. Hutchison, once said, “Your difficulties are history.” Her words remind me of a movie named “Freedom Writers.” It is based on a true story about the experiences of real people, disadvantaged teenagers who learn to transform their lives by writing their stories and rewriting their futures. There is a moment in the dialogue in this movie that is so meaningful to me. In the following scene, Miep Gies is explaining how she helped and sheltered Anne Frank and her family. Marcus, one of the freedom writers, stands up and comes forward:

Marcus: I’ve never had a hero before. But you are my hero.

Miep Gies: Oh, no. No, no, no young man. I am not a hero. No. I did what I had to do, because it was the right thing to do. That is all. But even an ordinary secretary or a housewife or a teenager can, within their own small ways, turn on a small light in a dark room, yes? I have read your letters and your teacher has been telling me many things about your experiences. You are the heroes. You are heroes every day. Your faces are engraved in my heart.

In my eyes, Miep Gies, Anne Frank, all the Freedom Writers, my friend Hannan, and anyone in this world who turns on a small light in a dark room, is a hero. All the Bahá’ís in Iran are heroes, for they are sacrificing their property, time, and energy. And we, the Bahá’í youth in Iran, are sacrificing the best days and years of our lives for a purpose. We are giving up the days of our youth because we hope to build a brighter future, not only for ourselves but for future generations. I am doing this for you, my child. We know that “The gloom of night is followed by the brightness of day, and autumn dust is washed away by the showers of spring. . . .”* We believe what ‘Abdu’l-Bahá has written about the future of our country: “Iran shall become a focal center of divine splendors. Her darksome soil will become luminous and her land will shine resplendent.” And so I believe I will meet you, my child, in brighter days!

Love forever,


* - Letter of the Universal House of Justice to the Bahá’ís of Iran, 20 March 2020.