Everyday Human Rights

Just months after the sentencing of the Baha’i leaders in Iran to 20 years imprisonment, Iran has once again come under international scrutiny for its long-standing persecution of Baha’is. On 21 May, a coordinated series of raids were carried out in various locations in Iran on the homes of Baha’is who have been involved with the Baha’i Institute for Higher Education (BIHE).

The BIHE was established in 1987 as a way of providing an education to young Baha’is who have been systematically denied access to higher education by the Iranian regime. Baha’i Thought has a great article up discussing the raids and the Iranian regime’s violation of a number of universal human rights such as the right to freedom of belief and the right to education.

As Baha’is, it is only natural that the issue of the persecution of Baha’is in Iran weighs heavily on our hearts. It is always distressing to be reminded of how rampant war, persecution and injustice still is in today’s world. In this case, it’s particularly devastating to us – as Baha’is – to see the friends in Iran suffer so terribly for a faith that simply embraces all humanity and affirms the value and worth of each individual. Some of us are even friends or family of those in Iran who have been directly affected, making it all the more heart-wrenching.

A few days ago.,I came across a fantastic essay by Matthew Weinberg (published in 1997) which looks at contemporary human rights discourse from the perspective of the Baha’i Writings. I found it to be a fascinating read and it made me reflect on the way in which I – as a product of the society we live in – talk about and understand human rights.

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Using ‘The Greatest Name’

Image by Lorenia (Flickr)

A few days ago we published a post here on Baha’i Blog featuring 6 Baha’i iPhone Wallpapers, however I noticed a few Facebook and email comments pointing out that perhaps it’s not appropriate to have The Greatest Name or a photo of the door to the shrine of the Bab used in this manner. This seems sensible, so I first wanted to let our readers know that we’ve now updated the post with two fresh wallpapers featuring Baha’i quotes replacing the other two wallpapers. And second of all I thought I’d share some quotes that my fellow Baha’i Blogger Naysan found on the subject of The Greatest Name and its usage. Continue reading

Remembering the Ascension of Baha’u’llah

Every year Baha’is gather to commemorate the Ascension of Baha’u’llah on 13 Azamat according to the Baha’i calendarCustomarily (although this is not a requirement), at 3 in the morning, following an evening of prayer and reflection,  Baha’is stand and face Qiblih as one from amongst them reads the Tablet of Visitation.

It was early in the morning of May 29, 1892 (five minutes past 3, to be precise) that Baha’u’llah passed away in the mansion of Bahji outside Akka (present-day northern Israel), after a brief illness. Following His death, a vast number of mourners from all walks of life and religions, grieved with Baha’u’llah’s family and followers.

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Breaking the Choice Sealed Wine

Image by jamzi (Flickr)

“Immerse yourselves”, Baha’u’llah tells us, “in the ocean of My words, that ye may unravel its secrets and discover all the pearls of wisdom that lie hid in its depths”.

I’m not sure if you feel the same way but when I think about the numerous volumes that Baha’u’llah has revealed, I often find myself vacillating wildly between two states: firstly, awe and curiosity, having been moved by the beauty and wisdom of the Writings; and secondly, complete paralysis from feeling overwhelmed by the sheer immensity and profundity of the Writings. There’s so much to gain from studying the Writings but it’s not always easy!

The Kitáb-i-Íqán is just one of the works by Baha’u’llah that I have attempted – on numerous occasions – to read from start to finish but simply haven’t been able to. So you can imagine how thrilled I was to discover, just a few months ago, that there is now an online course on the Kitáb-i-Íqán!

Fazel Naghdy, the creator of this online course, has kindly prepared a selection of writings by Shoghi Effendi about the Kitáb-i-Íqán and has also provided some additional information on the course.

I’ve already signed up to do the course and am really excited! If you, like me, have been meaning to get around to really studying the Kitáb-i-Íqán, then this post, which compiles what Shoghi Effendi has to say about the importance of the Kitáb-i-Íqán – is  for you. (A big thanks to Fazel for preparing this for us!)

Read on!

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Waiting for the World to End

Image by krypty (Flickr)

As Baha’is, we believe that the foundation of all the divine religions is one. Ever so often, we’ll be putting up posts for our ‘Changeless Faith Series’, in which we look closer at some of the similarities between the divine religions, in an attempt to more fully understand what Baha’u’llah meant when he said “This is the changeless Faith of God, eternal in the past, eternal in the future”.

It’s certainly been an exciting weekend!

Around the world, on May 22, Baha’is celebrated the anniversary of the Declaration of the Bab. The Bab was a Messenger of God whose mission was to prepare humanity for the message of Baha’u’llah. The story of the Bab’s life and mission is dramatic and emotion-stirring – filled with persecution, difficulty and, ultimately, triumph. The Bab foretold the coming of a Divine Teacher with a message even greater than His own. Although the Bab’s faith was a religion in itself, the Declaration of the Bab reminds Baha’is of the exciting and remarkable historical events that provided the context for the mission of Baha’u’llah.

The other remarkable historical event that happened this 22 May – or was meant to happen but didn’t – is one that has captured the imagination of many since time immemorial: the end of the world.

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Designing the Faith: Film

Creative design has an important part to play in the Faith. There’s a small army of creative Baha’is who labour hard to communicate the message of the Faith on screen and paper. The Designing the Faith series showcases some of their ingenious work in film, fashion, the internet, architecture and more.

Let’s kick off this series with the moving picture. Films can tell stories; they can inspire; they can educate. So we’ll let them do the talking.

Backbiting

Swedish youth and Malaysian filmmakers Amy Lim and Roshan Ravi got together to bring back the light of the heart. Continue reading

6 Accomplished Baha’is in Film and Television

With some five to six million Baha’is in the world it’s no surprise that some of the most accomplished people in any discipline are bound to be Baha’i. Being a bit of a television and movie junkie I decided to find out if there were any famous Baha’is in Hollywood. Sure enough shows like Heroes and the Office have featured Baha’i actors, as have movies like the Interpreter and the Godfather! Continue reading

Off-Center: An Interview with Aaron Kreader and Dave Rouleau

I’ve always loved the book by Hand of the Cause, William Sears, called “God Loves Laughter“. Something about the statement has just always seemed so right to me. So, I was delighted to stumble on the work of two talented American Baha’is working together at the Baha’i National Center in the US. Dave Rouleau and Aaron Kreader are – respectively – the creator and artist behind a long-running comic strip called Off-Center.

I caught up with Dave and Aaron to learn a bit more about the comic strip, their inspiration and what advice they have for other aspiring Baha’i artists. And for those of you (like me) who aren’t in the US and don’t receive The American Baha’i magazine, we’ve got a few editions of Off-Center to view embedded here in the post. Continue reading

Contemplating Death

Image by birdeye (Flickr)

On one occasion the Buddha asked several of the monks, “How often do you contemplate death?”One of them replied, “Lord, I contemplate death every day.””Not good enough,” the Buddha said, and asked another monk, who replied,”Lord, I contemplate death with each mouthful that I eat during the meal.””Better, but not good enough,” said the Buddha, “What about you?”The third monk said, “Lord, I contemplate death with each inhalation and each exhalation.” Mahaparinibbana Sutta

Last Saturday night, I was out for dinner with an old friend who was visiting from out of town. It was a typical Saturday night at the end of an even more typical week. I’d gone from one weekend to the next without even realising that a whole week had gone by – going from one thing to the next; trying to cross as many tasks off a to-do list as possible; scheduling in new appointments while waiting for Melbourne’s notoriously unreliable trains. Even dinner at a new restaurant seemed old and familiar – I’ve come to know this city like the back of my hand.

But then, I received a call from home that violently pulled me out of my comfortably predictable, routine-filled world in a second – a family member had passed away. In the hours and days that followed, I found myself in unfamiliar territory.

Death isn’t generally something we – as humans – tend to think very much about until life forces us to by confronting us with the reality and inevitability of death. Following that phone call, I rushed to cancel all my appointments and to catch the earliest flight back home. Much of the next 84 hours was spent shuttling to and from airports, waiting to board flights and trying (unsuccessfully) to get some sleep in between the turbulence and captain’s announcements. These long, empty hours and my need to make sense of a very emotional situation forced me to do something that I’ve realised we – as a society – simply don’t do enough: contemplate death.

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Representing the Baha’i Faith in Style

As a designer, I strongly believe that visual aesthetics go a long way to creating an impression. There’s a reason companies and brands go to such lengths to control the visual elements of how they are represented, in television, advertising, products and materials. The effect can be huge.

As Baha’is wanting our Faith to have its broadest impact and reach, I think it’s important we try to make sure everything we do looks its best. While not every invitation for a devotional meeting or flyer for an event is going to warrant or afford a professional designer, it’s always worth putting some effort in to making things look attractive. And in the cases where we can get a professional in, whether paid or volunteer, it’s important to do so.

DesignTheFaith is an online showcase of great design in Baha’i projects from around the world. Featuring not just graphic design, but photography, film, fashion, web design and more, the site is a fantastic resource for inspiration.

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