Montreal, October 6, 2018 – Family and friends gathered at the Montreal Bahá’í Centre to celebrate the life of a devoted human being who passed away on September 7, 2018 in Tehran. Dr. Esmail Ghadirian was one of the founders of the Bahá’í Institute of Higher Education (BIHE), a scientist, a teacher with a lifelong service to humanity.

Esmail Ghadirian was born in 1927 in a Bahá’í family of seven children, in Sangsar, Semnan province of northern Iran. Devastating for his mother, his first twin brothers passed away in their infancy because of smallpox. Esmail had also three younger brothers (Abdu’l-Missagh, Parviz and Esfandiar) and an older sister, Ziba Khánum.  Their mother who was a teacher herself, made sure that the children received a thorough education. At a time when learning institutions were rare in Iran, this remarkable lady founded her own school for girls, both for Bahá’ís and Muslims.  All four brothers completed their doctorate degrees and all were (and still are) devoted, active believers.

Dr. Esmail Ghadirian studied first at Tehran University where he was awarded a Ph.D. in Veterinary Medicine in 1954.  Nine years later he received a Master’s degree in Microbiology and Immunology from “Institut Pasteur” and later a Ph.D. from the Faculty of Science at the Sorbonne, in France, in 1968.  Dr. Ghadirian taught at Tehran University, became a Professor Emeritus and engaged in research, specializing in Malariology. His area of research was not only in the southern part of Iran but also in the Balkans and the territories of the former Yugoslavia, Macedonia, Greece and France.  He was admitted as an expert collaborator into the World Health Organization (WHO) for the eradication of malaria, a global scourge.  He spent many years among Persian tribal populations in remote rural areas caring for the poor who were afflicted by malaria.

Dr. Ghadirian and his family lived in Montreal during 1974 to 1976.  He was involved in scientific research in the Department of Microbiology and Parasitology of the Faculty of Medicine at McGill University. During this period, his wife Fereshteh earned also a Master’s Degree in Microbiology. Their return to Iran coincided with the Islamic Revolution and consequently Dr. Ghadirian was dismissed from his employment at Tehran University due to his religious belief in the Bahá’í Faith.  Like other Bahá’í professors, he refused to deny his belief in his belief.  He was arrested and sent to Evin prison where he was blindfolded, interrogated, insulted and humiliated in an attempt to crush his determination to remain a Bahá’í.  Finally, he was released from prison in condition that he pays back his 27 years of salary for his teaching and research work at the university.  Despite all cruelty he endured, Dr. Ghadirian remained in Iran. Finally, in 1985 both he and his wife, were offered jobs working in an advanced laboratory which belonged to one of his former Muslim students. He stayed in this employment until his retirement in 2011.

During that difficult time for the Bahá’ís in Iran and prior to the formal establishment of BIHE, Dr. Ghadirian served on a five-member Board of Trustees accredited by Indiana University.  The Board started a Distance Learning Department in collaboration with that university to enable Bahá’í students who had been deprived of university education in Iran to continue their training in their field of studies.  After BIHE was founded in 1987, Dr. Ghadirian served as a member of the Medical Sciences Board in that institution. In later years, he served on the Governing Board, taught various courses in Microbiology and Immunology for almost three decades.  He and Fereshteh held many of these courses in their living room in Tehran in order to provide students with a superior quality education for the advancement of their careers. 

Many of Dr. Ghadirian’s former students are now working in the field of Microbiology or related fields in Iran or abroad.  In a letter addressed to Dr. Abdu’l-Missagh Ghadirian after the passing of his brother, Esmail, one of his former students who is currently an Associate Professor at an American university (Dr. Mina Yazdani), expressed her deep gratitude to Dr. Esmail Ghadirian and four other professors who had made it possible for her to attain her highest goal to continue her studies at Indiana University.  As students of Dr. Ghadirian, two of them who presently live in Montreal (Tolou Golkar and Mona Hashemi) spoke movingly at the commemoration; a reminiscence of his kindness, his humility and his dedication. At his funeral in Tehran, many of his former students, Muslims and Bahá’ís, paid hommage to his distinguished character, knowledge and invaluable contributions Esmail made in their lives and the life of the society in general. So great was their love for him that they insisted on carrying his casket to its resting place.

In a letter dated September 20, 2018 written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice about the passing of Dr. Esmail Ghadirian, it is stated: “Rest assured of the supplications of the House of Justice at the Sacred Threshold for the progress of his soul throughout the worlds of God.  Prayers will also be offered for his family members and other loved ones that they may find comfort and strength at this time of bereavement.”


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