About Daniel Shayesteh

Dr Daniel was born into a Muslim family in Northern Iran. He became a radical Muslim leader and teacher of Islam in the militant Free Islamic Revolutionary Movement, closely supporting Ayatollah Khomeini. However, after falling out of favor with Khomeini’s political group, he escaped to Turkey where there began an amazing journey to faith in Jesus Christ.

Daniel's mission is to help others understand and lovingly respond to those who do not know Christ. He is also deeply concerned for the future of Western societies, their loss of confidence in Judeo-Christian values, and their persistent naivete about the implications of the world-wide Islamic revival.

Centralized Power Verses Freedom

Time and again, we have heard dictators and authoritarian ideologists claim that there is freedom in their countries. Yet we know from history that freedom and authoritarianism are the vessels of two opposing forces. The seventy years of centralized communist power left nothing but rubbles within every level of its societies, as did the Islamic dictatorship which not only blocked the door of progress to people but also diminished their moral character.

After the mullahs’ power broke out in Iran, they wanted to be masters over all things, even the things of which they held no knowledge. They seized businesses, made them governmental and appointed as leaders those who were loyal to them, but who also did not have the relevant knowledge or skill. For them (and Islam), obedience is primary, quality secondary. As a result, the distribution of products became government controlled, the economy failed, and the black market flourished.  People had to wait hours and days in lines in order to purchase their daily necessities. The more the mullahs gained power, the more people lost their strength for living and suffered in all aspects of life. Unemployment increased, while poverty and the daily struggle to find enough food to eat changed people’s attitudes. Corruption became widespread.

On the cultural front, things went downhill and thousands of young people were absorbed into the Revolutionary Guard (Sepah’e Pasdaran) and to the Correcting Religious Guard (Basijis), which were established to Islamize the country and ensure that everybody lived according to Islamic principles. What was envisioned before the Revolution for younger people had now become a lifestyle for many of them to persecute fellow citizens. These young religious guards terrified, tortured and killed people in public places in order to extinguish any desire for opposition. People started to think that their best days were in the past, the kingdom of the Shah, to which any hope of return was impossible.

Many pro-democratic Iranians broke down morally, and gave up the courageous life because of the mullahs’ ferocious acts of terror. Some were even gradually absorbed into the mullahs’ regime in order to secure their survival from social or political deprivations. Furthermore, they began to say that they were wrong about the mullahs; that they had found the truth and now aimed to uproot the remnants of Western culture in Iran. They themselves started to preach against their own former doctrines, blaming and persecuting democracy-minded people with words like "Zionist", "Western Agent", and so on. One of my own followers turned out to have become one of my persecutors after I was put into prison.

Due to fear, people separated themselves from any who were in opposition; even from one who was once in opposition, but still had not sought the pardon of the mullahs. Some of my followers and friends never contacted me again after the mullahs’ occupation and behaved as strangers when they came face to face with me in the street. They did not want to expose their families to risk.

This is what happens under an authoritarian and self-centered government: society’s moral characters fade away, some become persecutors of others in exchange for money or position, and other citizens forget that they need to uphold and take care of each other no matter the cost. When a country falls into the hands of a power-thirsty sect, or group, or an individual, every other thing falls into the wayside, including morality and national coherence.

None of these moral failures mattered to the dictatorship of the mullahs in Iran. Despite all the chaos, to this day they still twist the truth, defend their actions and equate their rule with "social justice", "compassion" and “freedom”, labeling others as “immoral” and “enemies of freedom”.

Jesus, who is mighty in power and knowledge, never takes advantage of His might to strip people of their choices. He is mighty, not to enslave people, but to prepare the way for them to come out of captivity, become His intimate friends (John 15:15), and build a free community. He knows that lack of choice leads communities to chaos and hostility. No leader in the world had an intimate relationship with his followers as Jesus had with His followers. He humbled Himself in order to inspire a loving leadership in those who listened to Him so that they could in turn become humble, loving, good moral examples and a blessing to others. For Jesus, the most powerful must be a servant to all:

But Jesus called [His disciples] them and said, You know that the rulers of the nations exercise dominion over them, and they who are great exercise authority over them. However, it shall not be so among you. But whoever desires to be great among you, let him be your servant. And whoever desires to be chief among you, let him be your servant; even as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many (Matthew 20:25-28).