Category Archives Opinion

Opinions, thoughts and ideas

When Religion Becomes the Cause of Terror

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If religion becomes the cause of enmity and bloodshed, then irreligion is to be preferred. For religion is the remedy for every ailment, and if a remedy should become the cause of ailment and difficulty, it is better to abandon it. – Abdu’l-Baha

As a non-Muslim living in the West I am expected to bash Islam whenever another paradise-bound youngster shouts “Allah-u-Akbar” whilst unleashing his Kalashnikov in a crazed fit against innocent bystanders. In solidarity to the victims I should at least quip sarcastically about “the religion of peace” once again carrying out “business as usual”. Continue reading

Happiness Even When Things Fall Apart

Uzbek-Donkey-BoysThe glowing smiles of poorly-clad children in the winter of the Hindu Kush have penetrated indelibly into my consciousness. The radiant faces of one-toothed grandfathers in Ethiopia and Kenya have stayed with me for years.

In the West we pride ourselves in our “high” standard of living. Clean running water, electricity and a general semblance of order ensure a level of comfort which the emperors of bygone ages would have begrudged. But has it all come at the expense of smiles? Beamy-faced selfies are no doubt the fad for presidents and celebrities alike. But what’s with the polished faces, the bleeched teeth and the seductive poses if they lack heart and soul? A sincere smile is a many-splendored thing. The kind that is radiant and innocent rather than pretentious and pasted on the face. Continue reading

So Powerful is the Light of Unity: World Unites after Sydney & Pakistan Tragedies

A girl with a teddy bear in Sydney's Martin Place overlooking the flower memorial dedicated to the victims of the Lindt Café siege by a lone gunman, where Tori Johnson and Katrina Dawson were killed on Tuesday 16 December, 2014. (Photo courtesy: JAM Project via Flickr and adapted from original).

A girl with a teddy bear in Sydney’s Martin Place overlooking the flower memorial dedicated to the victims of the Lindt Café siege by a lone gunman, where Tori Johnson and Katrina Dawson were killed on Tuesday 16 December, 2014. (Photo courtesy: JAM Project via Flickr and adapted from original).

After 17 hours of uncertainty and distress the heart of my country broke. Every Australian was touched by the hostage crisis that took place in Sydney’s Martin Place where two of the hostages were killed. Less than 24 hours later, 141 people lost their lives, including 132 children in an attack on a school in Pakistan. Amidst the horror of innocent lives being lost, our world community came together in peace and love. As you read this, thousands of souls are gathering to offer up prayers of consolation and healing for those affected by these events as well as the ongoing conflicts all over the world.

Out of so much grief came a brilliant beacon of hope for the worldwide community, for people of every race and religion that we will unite with peace in the face of every attempt to bring us down. #I’llridewithyou started as a single act of kindness towards one individual who would have denied their beliefs and identity for fear of backlash towards the Muslim community following the event in Sydney. One woman offered to accompany another and stand up for her so she could wear her religious attire without fear. From one to another became something that is, in it’s purest form, an act of love in the spirit of unity. A simple hashtag on social media became that beacon of hope and inspired the many to become one. Continue reading

The Baha’i Faith and Human Rights

Four clenched fists raised against blue skyOn December 10, the world commemorated Human Rights Day to honor the 66th anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by the United Nations General Assembly on December 10, 1948. This is an appropriate time, then, to reflect on the concept of human rights from a Baha’i perspective.

When I was a young Baha’i, the teaching of the Prophet-Founder of the Baha’i Faith, Baha’u’llah, that most touched my heart was the unity of humankind and of people of all religions and races. Baha’u’llah said: “Ye are the fruits of one tree, and the leaves of one branch. Deal ye one with another with the utmost love and harmony.” And He declared: “The earth is but one country, and mankind its citizens.” Continue reading

Why Cluster Reflection Meetings Are So Important

A Cluster Reflection Meeting in Greater London, United Kingdom. (Photo: Baha'i World Centre)

A Cluster Reflection Meeting in Greater London, United Kingdom. (Photo: Baha’i World Centre)

Cluster Reflection meetings are an important part of Baha’i community life now, but depending on the community you live in, attendance can sometimes be low and it’s still something many communities are learning about, so I thought it would be interesting to look at the importance of these meetings and why we should make an effort to attend. Continue reading

Reflections on the Ascension of Abdu’l-Baha

The house of Abdu’l-Baha located in Haifa, Israel where He passed away at approximately 1:00a.m. on November 28, 1921. More than 10,000 mourners, representing all the diverse religions and ethnic communities in the Holy Land attended His funeral. (Photo courtesy Baha’i Media Bank)

At the commemoration of the centenary of Abdu’l-Baha’s visit to Montreal in 2012, I witnessed something profound at an event organized at St. James Methodist Church – the last place where the Master spoke publicly during His brief sojourn in Montreal. The current minister talked about the admirable qualities of Abdu’l-Baha and the unifying impact of His visit. I have never seen a person of authority of another religion lovingly praise this Cause at such length in their own place of worship. A feeling of unity between the congregation of the church and all the visiting Baha’is was palpable. I thought, this is what it must have been like in 1912!

Historical accounts of the life of the Master are bursting with similar exaltations and expressions of amity. Everywhere He went, notable religious leaders praised Him publicly and people were united in their love for Him. Perhaps most moving, is the symphony of tributes after His passing on November 28th, 1921 and the common grief everyone felt over losing Him. In his biography on the life of the Master, Hasan Balyuzi writes:

In the land we know as the Holy Land, in all its turbulent history of the last two thousand years, there had never been an event which could unite all its inhabitants of diverse faiths and origins and purposes, in a single expression of thought and feeling, as did the passing of Abdu’l-Baha. Jews and Christians and Muslims and Druzes, of all persuasions and denominations; Arabs and Turks and Kurds and Armenians and other ethnic groups were united in mourning His passing, in being aware of a great loss they had suffered.

Continue reading

Serving Humanity on the Job

Serving Humanity on the JobWork is no fun. It’s an almost iron law of modern life. So what should we do about it? The easy answer is “do what you love.” But many of us can testify from our own experience that life isn’t like that. Even when a job involves something a person really enjoys, the end of the workday can’t come soon enough. The excitement wears off. Things that might have once seemed cool and interesting can become tedious and stressful. Work takes up a huge proportion of our time on this earth. So its very dispiriting to see how often and how easily it can detract from attaining a sense of meaning or high purpose in life. We need ways to make it more uplifting. Continue reading

The ABC’s of Parenting

asian parent playing with baby girl in livingroomWe know in the Baha’i Writings that mothers are the first educators of the children:

To the mothers must be given the divine Teachings and effective counsel, and they must be encouraged and made eager to train their children, for the mother is the first educator of the child… So long as the mother faileth to train her children, and start them on a proper way of life, the training which they receive later on will not take its full effect.

But new mothers are often overwhelmed at knowing where to start, particularly when they haven’t had good role models to follow. Fortunately there is lots of guidance in the Writings to take us back to basics!

Let’s start with the ABC’s! Continue reading

4 Things to Help You Develop Your Relationship with God

4 Things to help you Develop Your Relationship with GodIt recently struck me that becoming more spiritual requires both effort and volition, that it isn’t something that will just happen unless I do my part for it. This realisation came while I was reflecting on the following quote from Baha’u’llah:

Love Me, that I may love thee. If thou lovest Me not, My love can in no wise reach thee.

I realised that I needed to focus more on the first part of the quote, “Love Me…”, which I had previously almost overlooked. Many of us know that at times this command requires effort, and at other times it can seem like the most natural thing in the world. However, at least for me, loving God is not always something that comes easily, and I have to consciously remind myself of it ever so often, so here are four ways.
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Can War be Eliminated?

Photo: Sergeant Steve Blake RLC (Phot) via Flickr.

Photo: Sergeant Steve Blake RLC (Phot) via Flickr.

One of the key goals of the Baha’i Faith is to help end war and achieve world peace. While this has also been the goal of many thinkers throughout history, thousands continue to die each year from war and its consequences. So what do the Baha’i Writings say about this issue?

To answer this, I use a framework developed by Kenneth Waltz in his classic text Man, the State and War, which begins by asking: “What causes war?” This is an important question because, just as one must understand cancer to cure it, war and its causes must be understood in order to reduce it. In his review of the literature on this question, Waltz finds that there are basically three answers to this question, which he calls “the three images”. These images claim that war is caused by: Continue reading