Mehraeen Mavaddat-Mottahedin’s heartbreaking account of her husband’s suffering of unspeakable persecution, imprisonment and death is now being shared in English from its original in Persian, after 34 years. Flame of Tests: The Story of Farhang Mavaddat is a love story. With courage and tenderness, Mehraeen’s memoir tells the story of her husband, a fifth-generation Baha’i and a chemical engineer respected for his intelligence and upright character, who was arrested, tortured, unjustly tried, and executed simply for his love of Baha’u’llah.
It was my honour to speak with Mehraeen about her book and to learn more about her book.
Baha’i Blog: Thank you so much, Mehraeen, for taking some time to share with us about your book. We are deeply honoured. Perhaps to begin, could you tell us a little bit about the book and what it’s about?
My book Flame of Tests, is about my experiences of persecution and imprisonment, and my observations of the trials and tribulations that dear Baha’is in Iran have been going through, especially since the Islamic Revolution. It is a brief biography of my family and my dear husband who went through imprisonment, torture, and finally was executed in Evin Prison, only because of his beliefs. Our properties were confiscated and I was homeless and in much trouble and forced to leave my homeland.
Baha’i Blog: Can you tell us a little bit about why you wrote the book?
I wrote my memoir and what happened to us, as I was asked to do, when I came out of Iran, and landed in Canada as refugee in 1982. It was very painful, but I tried to speak up for my dear friends in Iran who were all in trouble and under severe persecution, so that the world would know what they are going through. I wrote it in Persian first. I did a lot of interviews with media and different organizations defending human rights over the years and all those who heard the story asked me to publish it as a book. So I decided to do it in English for all, hoping to spread my experiences as one of those who suffered, even though it is just like a drop in the ocean of all the troubles and tortures Baha’is have suffered!
Baha’i Blog: What do you hope readers will walk away with after they’ve read the book?
My main goal is to publicize the ongoing persecution of the innocent Baha’is in Iran, since the inception of the Baha’i Faith, so that perhaps justice will be served and the whole world will be aware of what they are going through, only because of their beliefs in one God, one Faith, and the unity of mankind.
Baha’i Blog: Writing this memoir must have required a lot of courage to go back to that time of intense suffering. What gave you courage and sustained you when writing this book?
Writing this memoir was the most painful task, going through all those painful days of sufferings over and over… but maybe it is my nature or the nature of my job as a lawyer, to defend innocent people. I suffered imprisonment, lost my beloved amazing husband and all my belongings, and know how hard it must be for those friends captured by injustice and constantly in trouble and living in horror.My whole heart is with them all the time, and as a human being I feel I should do something, and this is my only way.I am a Baha’i, and Baha’is are trying to establish peace and unity. They love everybody, without prejudice. We are not allowed to take revenge or fight back. Carrying any kind of armament is forbidden and we should love all, even our enemies. Our only defence is appealing to the authorities, writing, or talking, reasoning without anger. I wrote this book, and talked about it for years, hoping and praying that the whole world would know that animosity and hatred bring more animosity, and the only solution for having peace is loving all of our differences, without prejudice of any kind and freedom of thought…
Baha’i Blog: What message do you have to others who have been through what you’ve been through or who are suffering?
I know how hard it is to suffer and be treated unjust but I think we have to be patient and tolerant. Bitterness, anger and revenge is more harmful. Prayers and meditation helps a lot. If you believe you are right and innocent, God will assist you. I believe suffering makes you stronger if you do not give up and try to be steadfast without anger.
Baha’i Blog: Is there anything else you’d like to share?
I just want to thank you for providing this system of sharing thoughts and stories, and bringing to the attention of hundreds of the people and enlightening them.
Baha’i Blog: Thank you very much for sharing this with us.
‘Flame of Tests: The Story of Farhang Mavaddat’ can be purchased from the University of Toronto here.