When Religion Becomes the Cause of Terror

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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

Baha’is on Instagram – Eclectic Images from Around the World

Here on Baha’i Blog we’ve highlighted a few galleries of beautiful photography, featuring Baha’i Houses of Worship, the Baha’i gardens, images of prayer and reflection and the work of professional Baha’i photographers. But with camera phones, every Baha’i is a photographer! Here’s an eclectic collection of imagery from Baha’is around the world on the social media site Instagram. You can find lots more by searching Instagram community site Iconosquare for #bahai.

From Up There: An Interview with Tom Francis

Tom FrancisAfter leaving his home in New Zealand and performing and touring around Australia for a couple of years, Tom Francis found himself arriving in the Australian coastal town of Byron Bay with a car load of instruments and a head full of new songs. After spending six days in a studio with a jazz drummer and an Aria nominated producer, Tom’s second album From Up There was born.

Tom’s new album of Indie and Soul songs were recorded live in the studio, and it really captures the warmth of his voice fused with the simplistic, yet rich sounds of guitar, vintage keyboard work, and smooth drumming which lend themselves well to the emotionally deep and thought provoking journey the album takes you on. Tom’s cover of Doug Cameron’s 1985 hit Mona with the Children, which is based on the true story of a Baha’i girl named Mona Mahmudnizhad who was hanged in 1983 at the age of 16 because she was a Baha’i, and also his song titled This Is Where I Stand, which was inspired by a poem by Mahvash Sabet and is dedicated to her and the many other Baha’is who are currently imprisoned in Iran, are definitely worth mentioning.

I’ve known Tom for a while now and I’ve always been a big fan of his music, so I decided to catch up with him to ask him a few questions about his musical journey and his new album: Continue reading

Clean Cut, Clean Start – How Nasir is Helping the Homeless

Clean cut clean start 2 - nasir sobhaniZipping through the streets of Melbourne, Australia on his skateboard, Nasir is on the lookout for Melbourne’s less fortunate and homeless population, many of whom are living on the streets. Every Monday Nasir hits the streets seeking out those who are dealing with difficult times by offering them a free haircut.

Nasir’s a barber and a Baha’i, and so he’s passionate about two things: cutting hair and serving others. He calls his initiative ‘clean cut, clean start’, and he knows first hand about what it’s like to need a clean start in life because he went through his own battle with drug addiction in his early 20’s in Canada where he was raised.

Nasir’s like a little brother to me, so you can imagine how excited I was when I caught up with him again in Melbourne and found out about his wonderful service to others. He agreed to let me ask him a few questions about it all and to share it on Baha’i Blog. His service has also been getting a lot of media attention in Australia recently, so I’ve also included a cool video made about his ‘Clean cut, clean start’ initiative below: Continue reading

Inspired Music from Latin American Musical Workshops in Ecuador

Taller de música 1I always love hearing about different Baha’i-inspired initiatives happening around the world, and a couple of friends recently told me about a wonderful musical initiative which took place in Ecuador, and so with the help of Eduardo Rioseco, one of the initiative’s participants, I thought it would be great to share this exciting experience and the music (which can be downloaded for free at the bottom of this post) with everyone! 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

Infinite Bounty: An Interview with Elika Mahony

Elika-nase-edit-864x630

Vocalist, composer, pianist, and artist, Elika Mahony has been busy! Elika loves to design and create beautiful things that bring joy to people and enhance their spiritual experience, so somewhere in between raising a family and all of her artistic projects which include things like making prayer beads from Chinese water pearls, silk prayer book covers and hand made specialty cards using her original pieces of art, as well as exquisite Japanese paper and quotations from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, she’s managed to produce seven albums!

I recently had the privilege of visiting the Baha’i Temple in Frankfurt, Germany, and while I was at the bookshop in the Visitors Centre, I saw an array of Elika’s albums displayed on the shelves and I thought to myself “I wish Elika would release a new album so I could do an interview with her about it and her music”. About an hour later when I arrived at my friends place, there was an email from Elika waiting for me about her new album Infinite Bounty… woah… 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