Why are burial rights being denied to a Baha’i in Iran?


Shamel Bina passed away in October 2014, but his remains are unburied because local authorities are refusing burial rights.

What should have been a period of mourning for most people has turned into a political and religious scandal in Iran. A man named Shamel Bina, a Baha’i, died in late October, but has been denied burial rights in Iran for two months, leaving his family in mourning and without the ability to put their loved one to rest. This complicated religious and political move is garnering attention around the globe, as Bina’s family simply wants to bury their relative.

The Baha’i

The Baha’i are a group of individuals that conform to a monotheistic faith that emphasizes the unity of humanity. They have fallen under severe persecution in nations like Iran because the faith does not conform to the national faith of Islam. The Baha’i have had many different run-ins with the Iranian government, with this as only the latest disrespect levied against the faith. With Shamel Bina’s body lying in the morgue for the foreseeable future, there are many people who are discouraged that there will be any allowances made for his burial rites in this case.

What Is The Cause Of This Dispute?

As most people are aware, the official religion of Iran is Islam. While they have strict laws that oversee this religion, they are considered by many to be blind to the plight of other religions. The Baha’i are one of these groups, and while there is some evidence to support that Iran is purposely seeing to their disadvantage, it definitely seems as though they are not doing anything to ease their burdens.

In fact, there are several cases that are similar to Bina’s, where the government is inflicting hardships on this particular group. For the most part, they are attempting to make the Baha’i conform to the burial rites of Islam. Many people have been refused burial in Iran until their family is willing to do so without a casket. In some cases, they are simply not allowed to be buried in specific towns across the nation.

A Desperate Plea

This latest blow to the Baha’i faith has prompted a variety of people to plead with the government to ease the legal restrictions that prevent them from burying their dead relatives. Old and young have come together to ask for the increasingly institutionalized discrimination to end. Even still, Shamel Bina’s body goes unburied while the state still denies him the burial rites that his religion sees as necessary, with no word from the government as to whether this situation can be ameliorated.


Follow the Conversation on Twitter

1 comment

  • Alison Lesley
    8:00 am

    The disagreement is a bit deeper than specific laws. The Baha’s believe that God sends a Prophet(Divine Manifestation) every thousand years or so. Some examples would be Abraham, Moses, Krishna, Christ, and Mohammed. The Baha’i Faith has two Divine Manifestations the Bab(1819-1851) and Baha’u’llah( 1817-1892). They announced that they were the Promised Ones expected by all the world religiions. By declaring this, the Baha’i Faith supercedes the laws and teaching of the Quran. While the spiritual truths are the same in all faiths, the religious laws depend on the age in which they were revealed. So, superceding Sharia law caused a first storm in Iran in the 19th century. This is why the Islamic Republic is so harsh with the Baha’is because we view the Bab and Baha’ullah as the fulfillment of the end time prophecies. Also, the Bab and Baha’ullah abolished the role of clergy, so if everyone accepted the Baha’i Faith in Iran, the clergy would be unemployed. Also the Baha’is view the worlds Holy Books in a non-literal, non-fundamentalist way, which is kind of disconcerting to other religious faiths, like evangelical Christiainity.

Leave a comment