The Life and Services of Dr. Masih Farhangi

The Life and Services of Dr. Masih Farhangi

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Foreword

By Behrouz Jabbari
Everlasting Memories of Dr. Masih Farhangi The best and most treasured days of my life were my childhood and youth when I lived in Rasht (A city in northern Iran). Our days consisted of spending time with a group of friends and classmates, including many Baha’i youth whose parents routinely exhibited utmost love, care, and nurturing towards all of us, as if we were their own children. They would shower us with words of encouragement when we took the lessons that we had learned in Baha’i Youth Classes on stage and performed plays and poetry recitations. Their love and graciousness towards us were undoubtedly inspired by the teachings of Baha’u’llah who said, “… with faces joyous and beaming with light, associate with your neighbor…” (Gleanings From the writings of Baha’u’llah CXLVII, page 316). Dr. Masih Farhangi was known and loved by all in the community. He always shared his wisdom and kindness with all those who had the pleasure of encountering him. The attraction of his personality and gravity of his words were such that even at that tender age, my attention would always be drawn to him when he spoke, no matter what the topic was, or whether it had anything to do with us the youngsters at all. His reputation and influence in the community, especially among the youth were primarily due to his extensive and frequent trips across the Province of Gilan, in which the City of Rasht boasts as the Provincial capital. For a variety of reasons, Dr. Farhangi’s presence in the community was considered by all an immense honor and privilege. People from all walks of life, from near and far described him as a kind soul, an impressive physician, one who with tremendous .
The Life and Services of Dr. Masih Farhangi
confidence and skill would treat anyone in need, and most important do so with a gentle and ever-present smile. His patients included not only the wealthy and the well-known leaders of the city, but also the poor and the less fortunate whom he often treated for free. Despite the pain and suffering of widespread illness and disease, the poor often could not afford the most basic services of a well-trained physician. With Dr. Farhangi around, they were well taken care of. Additionally, his talks and presentations at Friday night Baha’i gatherings were immensely popular and considered a source of inspiration, education, and pleasure for all who attended. The positive power and influence of Dr. Farhangi on those around him were particularly significant. They appeared in big and small continuous life lessons. I remember once I overheard a conversation he was having with his younger brother, an attorney. The topic was a disagreement that had arisen between two members of the community. When Dr. Farhangi learned that one party was not a Baha’i, he paused and said, “Well, in that case, I think the Baha’i should set an example and demonstrate kindness and forgiveness by letting go of his claim in deference to the other party”. Examples like this were the source of immensely valuable life lessons in humanity and kindness for those of us with the fortune of being around Dr. Farhangi. It was not uncommon for Dr. Farhangi to use gentle humor and metaphor in dealing with others. One day a friend with significant wealth and notoriety complained about his short temper to Dr. Farhangi. “I just don’t have the patience for things going wrong in my life. I often find myself easily angered.”, he said. “What do you mean,” replied Dr. Farhangi, “Can you give me an example?”. The man said, “Sure, say one of the laborers on my property comes to me and says something that just doesn’t make sense. It really gets me angry, so much so that I raise my voice to tell him off.” Dr. Farhangi paused and said, “So, let’s say if the top manager of a large organization says something irrelevant …. 
The Life and Services of Dr. Masih Farhangi
Do you still find yourself angry to the same level and respond the same way?”. “Why, of course not…. One would never talk to the top leader of a respectable organization like that.”. Dr. Farhangi responded with a gentle smile,” Well, my dear friend, in that case the problem cannot possibly be your ability to control your anger. It would have to be your habit of mistreating the weak and the powerless!!!” In the months immediately following the 1979 Islamic Revolution, it was common that at any time several Baha’is were under arrest and locked up in prison. Mr. Houshmand Fatheazam, member of the Universal House of Justice was routinely in contact with the families of the imprisoned with the purpose of providing moral support and guidance. In that period, much information was relayed suggesting that Dr. Farhangi, consistent with his spirit of service to others was acting as the prison physician by treating his prison mates, whom were clearly not receiving the medical care they needed by the prison establishment. There are far too many stories and anecdotes from that period and of the interactions between Dr. Farhangi and others, more than I can fit in this brief foreword. Suffice to say that all those anecdotes indicate that far from dampening his spirit of service to others, the difficult prison conditions only elevated Dr. Farhangi’s spirit and energy. That became evident when it was conveyed to the family that during the final months of his life in prison, he was widely referred to by his cell mates as the “Prison’s Angel”. When Dr. Farhangi’s life was taken away, my wife, his eldest daughter and our children were in Canada. Shortly after his martyrdom, I left Iran and brought with me Dr. Farhangi’s last will and testament, which was written in beautiful prose addressed to his wife. In a phone conversation, Mr. Fatheazam asked me to read the will to him. I will never forget Mr. Fatheazam’s reaction of tremendous sorrow combined with unstoppable tears of loss and sadness. Mr. Fatheazam was generally quite aware of the condition of Baha’i prisoners in Iran, since he was in contact with their .
The Life and Services of Dr. Masih Farhangi
immediate families. Years later when I had the honor of studying and organizing his poems, it became apparent to me that without any doubt the plight and condition of Baha’i prisoners were always on his mind as demonstrated in his poem entitled “The Prison Wall”, which is among the most beautiful works of Persian poetry describing the fortitude and the pain of the imprisoned Iranian Baha’is (For the benefit of the Persian speaking reader, the text of this poem is presented in the Appendix A of this English translation). In summary, the poem is the first-person narrative of a prisoner testifying to his innocence. He recounts the injustice that is perpetrated on him while taking consolation in knowing that he is following the wish of the Almighty. He speaks of sleepless nights while staring at the prison wall. He finally sees his Beloved appearing to him. With kind words of encouragement, the prisoner is advised not to be sad, since he is not alone. The poem likens physical imprisonment to a bird with broken wings, and equates the spiritual awakening attained from following the will of the Almighty to flight in open skies. In total, Dr. Farhangi spent 502 days in the Evin Prison before his martyrdom by facing the firing squad of the Islamic Republic of Iran. On the day of his final journey from this physical world, he was accompanied by three other brave, dedicated, and loving Baha’i souls: Mr. Badi’u’llah Farid, Yadu’llah Pustchi, and Varqa Tibyaniyan. The following day, June 24, 1981, the quadruple executions were publicly announced in the morning news broadcast of the state-run Radio Tehran. Apparently, the officials did not see it necessary to inform the families of the loss of their loved ones before publicly announcing it on national radio. In the morning of that incredibly sad and painful day, a few friends and I accompanied Dr. Farhangi’ wife to the Evin Prison morgue to receive the lifeless body of that pure and loving soul. After brief arrangements, we took the body to the Baha’i Cemetery of Tehran, which at that time was still in the hands of the Baha’i community.

The Life and Services of Dr. Masih Farhangi
Carrying the incredible weight of this immense and unexpected loss, a group of friends gathered on short notice at the Baha’i Cemetery for the burial service. I will never forget the many young people who arrived to pay their last respects. They would quietly and with ultimate reverence lean forward in turn to kiss Dr. Farhangi’s forehead for one last time as tears slowly poured down their faces. In memory of that great soul, and the loss that we all felt, I wrote a poem. The original Persian poem is presented in Appendix A of the English translation of this book. The poem lists the authentic and special traits of Dr. Farhangi’s personality which made him deeply beloved by those around him. It further laments the loss that humanity suffered when Dr. Farhangi was martyred. The poem recounts the joy and delight that took over the room when he entered, the calm and serenity that people felt when he spoke, the instructions in love and kindness that he gave, and the cure from illness and disease that he indiscriminately dispensed.
Behrouz Jabbari