IBNA- Laleh Bakhtiar was an Iranian-American scholar who didn’t know her religion; however, at a meeting with philosopher Seyyed Hossein Nasr, she was prompted to peruse Islamic studies for the rest of her life.
an interview with IBNA, Mahshid Razavi Rezvani, the founder and CEO of Mahshid
Kherad Cultural Institute, described the life of the Iranian-American scholar
Laleh Bakhtiar. Bakhtiar wrote and translated the Holy Quran, ‘Al-Mu'jam
Al-Mufahras li alfaz al-Qur'an al-Kareem’, and tens of other interdisciplinary
books in different fields such as Islamic culture, instruction and psychology.
"I began to know Laleh (Mehri) Bakhtiar in 2013. The outset
was studying one of her books; then our meetings prolonged for two other visits
in the U.S. and I passed a traditional psychology course under the title of
"The Sufi Enneagram". The subsequent meeting took place in Iran in
2018, and I intended to introduce Laleh Bakhtiar to the Iranian academic
circles. It was accomplished on the invitation of Mahshid Kherad Cultural
Institute in Iran, which is in charge of publishing Bakhtiar's books,” She
to Ms. Razavi Rezvani, Laleh Bakhtiar was the seventh child of the first
Iranian-American generation. Her father, Abul-Qasem Bakhtiar, was the first
Iranian physician, and her mother was an American nurse. Laleh Bakhtiar was
born in Tehran in 1938. Her father was a patriot faithful to the principals and
rituals of chivalry. Abul-Qasem's father chose his son's name for his deep and
profound love for Abul-Qasem Ferdowsi. Abul-Qasem and Helen were both buried
near Tous as was mentioned in their wills. Along with her brother and sister,
Laleh Bakhtiar wrote a two-volume book and a beautiful account of their
parents' medical and health services.
added: “Laleh’s first travel to the U.S. along with her mother and two sisters
took place as the Americans living in Iran due to political and military
situations. Four other children were with Abul-Qasem Bakhtiar. The period
lasted for six years; then Helen and two daughters came back to Iran. The
second time, considering the responsibilities for Abul-Qasem and forbidding
physicians' departure, and the couple's decision for all their children have
higher educations, the next trip for Helen and six children happened.
one session from the series of the program “Nights of Bukhara”, quoted by Laleh
Bakhtiar, Razavi Rezvani says: “For their children’s education and discipline,
Helen sent them to a catholic school for them having no problem in the absence
of their father. For earning a livelihood, Helen started to work in a
non-governmental profession in real estate. During this time, Dr. Abul Qasim
Bakhtiar had always had correspondence with Helen and the children.
to Razavi, the letters and correspondences have been complied in a big
collection. They form an invaluable treasure for Iranian cultural and
added: “In the Night of Laleh Bakhtiar”, the scholar said that when she was
eight years old, she showed her first religious response in the catholic
school. However, when she was nineteen, for visiting her brother, Sirous in
Harward, she went to Boston. At that time, Seyyed Hossein Nasr’s mother
normally arranged meetings for Iranian people at the weekends. In those
meetings, Bakhtiar met Seyyed Hossein Nasr. Nasr asked Laleh about her
religion. Laleh responded that she did not know!
said regarding the fact that your father is Iranian, everyone thinks that you
are Muslim! Laleh continued and said that she did not know anything about
Islam. Nasr replied: “Then go and find out about Islam!”. That night Laleh
Bakhtiar said: “Sixty years have passed, and I am still studying about Islam”.
Rezvani adds: “Laleh Bakhtiar has a B.A. in History and M.A. in Philosophy from
marrying Nader Ardalan, she came back to Iran with him and her two daughters.
She joined the foreign-speaking students like William Chittick in the
University of Tehran to study Persian Language and Literature. However,
according to the university’s principles and codes, they impeded her higher
education. Dr. Nasr, who saw her interest, introduced Laleh Bakhtiar to
Gholamreza Avani. Bakhtiar studied Persian texts and mystical, ethical, and
literal pieces with Avani. At the time, Laleh Bakhtiar started to learn Arabic
and translated books by Shariati, Motahhari, and Suhrawardi.
first book was written with Nader Ardalan under the title of “The Sense of
Unity, the Sufi Tradition in Persian Architecture”. It was about an aesthetic
vision in Islamic architecture. She explains: “The next book was “Sufi’s
Expressions of the Mystic Quest”.
was an era that lasted 24 years for Laleh Bakhtiar, and she came close to
spiritual experiences, culture, ethics, and mysticism. In 1987, for the third
time, Laleh Bakhtiar came back to the U.S. inevitably. She pursued her
education in the fields of counseling and educational psychology. When she was
55, she worked on her Ph.D. thesis on studying the roots of an approach in
counseling under the title of “Enneagram”, which is rooted in ethics,
mysticism, and the School of Chivalry.
research findings were compiled and published in a book series under the title
of "God's Will Be Done" by looking at the Enneagram's roots. Kazi
Publication published the book series. Two of the series have been translated
and published by Mahshid Kherad Institute. The three-book series is the expression
of ethics and elaborates on the framework and paradigm of personality and
ethical virtues and vices.
to Mahshid Razavi Rezvani, among other works by Bakhtiar is the compilation of
the Sublime Quran by employing the critical thinking method for educating
American Muslim youth.
reminds me that the series consists of 30 volumes, and one work is for the
teacher's instruction. Laleh Bakhtiar pursued the translation of the Quran from
Arabic to English with a new approach and based upon clarifying different terms
and concepts such as battery and blasphemy.
to several books written by Bakhtiar, Razavi Rezvani says: "In the
translation of Quran from Arabic to English, Laleh Bakhtiar uses the Quranic
words of Al Mu'jam Al Mufahras, while preserving the correct sounds. Besides
having the capability to understand the roots of the words and comparing
different verses, she presents a clear picture of Islam to the west for them
having a fair view towards human rights.
also notes that Laleh Bakhtiar’s other project was supervising and translating
the Arabic version of Avicenna’s “The Canon of Medicine” into English in
invaluable five volumes. Laleh Bakhtiar and her team’s work for explaining and
commenting on the Canon of Medicine will be published in English by Kazi
Publication. Unfortunately, this comprehensive and precious work has been
published by Iranian publishers without obtaining permission from the authors
and the leading publisher.
to Rezvani, in addition to Bakhtiar’s activities in interdisciplinary fields in
the paradigm of traditional psychology, she also took steps to found an
institute of psychology and counseling in Chicago at the same time she was
conducting researches and writing books with Kazi Publication. She also gave
lectures at the university. After publishing the series of “God’s Will Be
Done”, Bakhtiar conducted researches and wrote another book on the knowledge of
the Enneagram to make distinctions between the Sufi Enneagram and the American version.
Rezvani reminds us “Laleh Bakhtiar’s efforts are the Sufi Enneagram (The
Persian Enneagram), which seeks Enneagram's roots and would present a native
knowledge which I was searching for like Ms. Bakhtiar. Finally, I met her in
Chicago in 2016. She accepted me and started to train me. In the last days of
2016, while accompanying me to the airport, she told me: “Tell anything you can
about the Enneagram!”.
continues: “This acquaintance led to our activities in Iran and having her
agency in my country. Before that, Bakhtiar also tried to develop her training
and educational programs on the Sufi Enneagram website. Through this, she
continued to train students, and Mahshid Kherad Institute also held other
Webinars domestically and overseas for spreading the Knowledge of Enneagram
from its traditional perspective.
Pointing to Bakhtiar’s
book “The Sufi Enneagram: A Symbol of God’s Presence”, which was translated
into Persian and published in 2018, Razavi Rezvani says: “Laleh Bakhtiar came
to Iran by Mahshid Kherad Institute’s invitation. After holding meetings and
sessions in February 2018 in two weeks, she went back to the U.S. and started
to work on her two-volume book “The Psychology of Soul in Quran”. The first
volume examines Mulla Sadra’s philosophical viewpoints, and the second volume
refers to the psychology and the science of mind in Quranic verses.
adds: "After publishing the series, she is going to devote her time to
write her last book about the comprehension of Imam Ali's words about the
status of women in Nahj al-Balagha. Bakhtiar says that the writer of Nahj
al-Balagha is a just person in the eyes of the School of Chivalry and is fair
about women's rights. This book will be published while it comparatively
examines both the holy Quran and Ali's speeches, sermons, and letters.
Like her mother and
father, despite all pressures and difficulties, Laleh Bakhtiar was a true
seeker of God and an untiring master, a humble and wise woman committed to her
ethical values in her words and deeds. She followed her way based on justice
and humanity. Without paying attention to modern human beings' clamors, she was
following her divine path and finally joined God. After a few months of
battling with cancer, she finally surrendered to God's will on October 18,
2020. She was laid to rest in the presence of her children and grandchildren in
IBNA News Agency