Wednesday, May 31, 2006

On Growing Up in Iran: A Baha'i High School Friend Is Remembered images/iran/peoWoman.jpg

In her comments to a post last week the blogger of Paradox shared a bit of personal history and told of her "best high school friend" back in Iran, a Baha'i.

yeah, your guess is right, i have lived in iran for most of my life and have been over-exposed to a few twisted versions of islam back there; and maybe this is the reason why i am so sensitive about religion now.

however, i have seen many muslem iranians who just have become very indifferent after they had the chance to freely choose not to follow it openly. i mean, there is a difference b/w someone who becomes indifferent and someone who takes up a critical position... i was indifferent for some time... now, though, i try to challenge those who are either indifferent or still beleive (esp. those who blindly follow it_ esp. some rituals_ like out of a habit, or out of a hidden fear!)

wow, i remember my best high-school friend (with whom i was a close friend for even some years after high-school until she got married and left for another city too busy with a kid and working full-time ...and got more distant!) was a Baha'i. i saw closely how they were under pressure, she couldn't go to university while openly preserving her faith, her brother had illegally left iran years back(during the iran-iraq war, i guess); but they were very nice people in fact; i remember when the first time i saw this photo of Baha'ollah in her room i asked who he is; when she said he is our prophet, i felt a lil' weird, becuz we had been over-repeatedly told and taught at school that Mohamd was the last prophet! then i thought how hard it should have been for her to keep silent all the time at schol when we had to read those islamic teachings...

she later said they had been taught their teachings in different classes, though. wow... how funny it sounds to me even remembering them...!

i wasn't more curious than that, becuz i (and i guess she as well) knew Baha'i was a big taboo in iran, and i was from this shi'i background; although my family weren't pushy, they were and still are sort of strong believers... !

even our mothers were friends(not close though), however, her family never wanted to try to even talk about their faith to us in an inviting way whatsoever!!

i just remember i used to ask my friend a lil' about their rituals, and she used to say (with a complaining tone) she had to also fast!!:D:D....

well, i don't want to talk of my memories, but good ol' days!! though we were always shut down about almost everything!
Country Facts - Iran
The People
Ethnic Composition
Persian 51%
Azeri 24%
Gilaki and Mazandarani 8%
Kurd 7%
Arab 3%
Lur 2%
Baloch 2%
Turkmen 2%
Other 1%
Religious Composition
Shi'a Muslim 89%
Sunni Muslim 10%
Zoroastrian, Jewish, Christian, and Baha'i 1%

On Stages of Faith: Updates from Emily and Max

Arizona State University Library, Tempe, Arizona

Readers of Baha'i Views have come to know Emily of Tempe, Arizona, blogger of an exploration in Faith. She is taking a class in Farsi this summer, she writes in "Prima":

I am taking it along side seven other people, two are middle-aged adults, and two are students who's parents are Iranian. My professor just came here from Tehran 3 years ago, it seems it will be a lovely class. She asked us to explain a little bit about ourselves and why we wished to learn Farsi, and I happily told the class that I wanted to learn Farsi because I am a Baha'i. My professor exclaimed "You mean there are non-Iranian Baha'i's? I thought they were only in Iran!" So I even more happily told the class that the Baha'i Faith is among the most widespread religions.

This is how Emily closes a recent post about visiting where she grew up:

I was able to teach the Baha'i Faith to one of my closest friends today, one from highschool. I have been talking about my Faith to many old highschool friends when I think about it, and it feels so amazing. It feels so amazing to spread the teachings of Baha'u'llah and watch a friends eyes light up and hear them exclaim "That's EXACTLY what I believe!"

I worry a lot about "pushing" my religion on other people. I know how desperately I loathed people who did that to me, yet now I can appreciate their motive. To truly love God so much and to want other people to be able to have a relationship with God as well. My friends are thirsting for God, but they are so hesitant of "religion." Many believe that they can have a relationship with God by being spiritual on their own, but clearly it isn't working (just as it never worked for me.) I hope that God guides me in my endeavor to spread his message without forcing it on anyone. I hope that people will see how much I love Baha'u'llah and be inspired and drawn to love him as well.

Here's the latest email from Max:

I really think that the Baha'i Faith is the one for me. Right away when I read about it I was immediately thinking "wow, I think this is me". Even though I am still searching and seeing if I Christianity (the whole Jesus as God thing) isn't what I really am.

On Jumping Feet First: Feeling Good as a New Baha'i

Not Matt

First entry, new blog called So Now I've Got a Blog:

Monday, May 29, 2006: jumping feet first

ok, so my life is up in the air right now. like Isaac Newton trying to prove gravity with an apple dropped from a ladder. but it's good... i can't even explain it but i'm totally cool with the fact that i don't have a clue where my life is headed. i just declared as a Baha'i and i'm going back to the school (for architecture unless i change my mind). i'm quitting a good job (for someone without a degree that is). and i feel the best that i've ever felt these last five or six years. go figure... ;)

Matt, "Jumping Feet First," So Now I've Got a Blog

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

On the Shiraz Prisoners: Blessed Are They Who Are Persecuted for Righteousness' Sake

Tiled niche at the Naranjestan, Shiraz
Shiraz - Tiled niche at the Naranjestan

Unity 19 on Yahoo 360 has posted an update on the Shiraz prisoners.

Received May 24, 2006 8:34 P.M. PST from an Aunt of 3 of the Bahai Youth Prisoners in Shiraz:

Dearly loved friends and family, Thank you so much for your prayers and for your expressions of consolation and solidarity with the young Bahá’ís recently imprisoned in Iran. We have news to share:

Many of the prisoners have been released. Most of the rest are scheduled to be released tomorrow. A few though shall remain in prison. Azadeh’s three young nieces were released today with a group of, I believe, about 40 total. 14 more are scheduled to be released tomorrow, and 3 individuals have been singled out by the authorities to remain in prison. All those released had to have bond posted by their family (e.g., deeds for home or business).

Outside the prison today, when they were released, there was a huge traffic jam. So many family members and friends had come out with flowers and other expressions of love, that people on the street were asking what this was all about.

We had a chance to speak with Martha, Maaman and Rahil on the phone at about 2:00 this afternoon. They were exhausted, but they shared a few experiences. The first thing Martha said was in English. She said it was “fun” and that she already misses being in prison.

She said all the youth (men and women separated, of course) were together singing and praying the whole time and there was an atmosphere of great spiritual joy in the place. Maaman, barely able to speak from exhaustion, said all the prayers were felt because while they were being interrogated, she felt it wasn’t her that was speaking. She felt as if Bahá’u’lláh Himself was answering all the interrogators’ questions. Rahil was exuberant.

Although she was unable to hear us well from the press of so many friends and family around her, she said that three of the five nights they were there, she dreamed we were with her in gatherings with music and dancing. The three separately asked us to thank everyone for their prayers.

Jesus said, “Blessed are they who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake.” How else can we account for such a transcendent experience? But now that so many are released, we must not forget those that remain. We should stay vigilant, keeping them in our prayers, because they’ve been selected by the clergy for special attention. I’m guessing that the tests are graver for those who must face such persecution alone, once the crowd is gone.

Thank you again to all of you for everything. I know no better way to express the meaning of all of this than simply to point how it has brought so many hearts together. Warmest love and gratitude,

Unity 19 on Yahoo 360, "May 24, 2006, 40 Bahai Prisoners Released, 14 More To Be Released Tomorrow, 3 Still Remain Imprisoned "

On the Resurection of Christ: A Baha'i Perspective

Annie with a handsome guy

Annie asked what is the Baha'i belief about the resurrection of Christ. In an article available on net, a Baha'i sociologist of religion, Mark Foster, presents the following quotes as part of his discussion of the subject:

The second usage of the term "resurrection" in the Baha'i teachings pertains to the resurrection of the Cause of God. `Abdu'l-Baha wrote:

...we say that the meaning of Christ's resurrection is as follows: the disciples were troubled and agitated after the martyrdom of Christ. The Reality of Christ, which signifies His teachings, his bounties, his perfections, and his spiritual power, was hidden and concealed for two or three days after his martyrdom, and was not resplendent and manifest. No, rather it was lost; for the believers were few in number and were troubled and agitated. The CAUSE [emphasis added] of Christ was like a lifeless body; and, when after three days the disciples became assured and steadfast, and began to serve the CAUSE [emphasis added] of Christ of Christ, and resolved to spread the divine teachings, putting his counsels into practice, and ARISING [emphasis added] to serve him,... his religion found life, his teachings and admonitions became evident and visible. In other words, the CAUSE [emphasis added] of Christ was like a lifeless body, until the life and bounty of the Holy Spirit surrounded it. -From a chapter of Some Answered Questions, old edition, pp.119-121

Finally, Shoghi Effendi, the Guardian of the Baha'i Faith, wrote through his secretary:

We do not believe that there was a bodily resurrection after the crucifiction of Christ, but that there was a time after His ascension when His disciples perceived spiritually his true greatness and realized He was eternal in being. This is what has been reported symbolically in the New Testament and been misunderstood. His eating with disciples after resurrection is the same thing. - High Endeavors: Messages to Alaska, pp.69-70

This symbolic meaning of resurrection is affirmed by the Apostle Paul:

Buried with him [Jesus] in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead. - Col. 2:12

And again: Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. - Rom. 6:4

The Cause of Christ, the resurrected body of Christ, was then incorporated into the early Christian eklesia (in-gathering or church). Paul wrote:

Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular. - I Cor. 12:27

The body of believers, in each Prophetic Dispensation, are the temple, the body of the Manifestation, who, collectively, become the earthly representation of the Manifestation of God

Mark A. Foster, "Resurrection: A Baha'i Perspective"

On Inter-Faith Dialogue: How It Is Nurtured in Portugal

What if the United States were to publish a book on comparative religion? What would the response of Americans be? How might the rest of the world view such an action?

What if the government of Iran were to publish a book on the significance of religion that included the Baha'i Faith? How would such an action change the understanding people in different parts of the world have of the country?

From Baha'i blogger extraordinaire Marco: Here are some great news from Portugal!

A book on history, holy writings and traditions of the Wold Great Religions (Hinduism, Judaism, Buddhism, Christianity, Islam and Baha'i Faith) was published yesterday in Portugal.

This single volume (with almost 900 pages) is a collective work of several religious communities in Portugal; it is also a proof of religious harmony and cooperation in our country.

The book will be a valuable resource for any student or researcher of the religious phenomena and aims to foster even greater respect and mutual understanding amongst religious communities in Portugal.

The Portuguese Government sponsored the book and the Minister of Presidency described it as "the seed of a new stage in inter-faith dialogue in Portugal". Portugal has no State religion, but the Government cooperates with religious communities.

NOTE: Yes, I was involved in this project! :-)

Congratulations, Marco!

Friday, May 26, 2006

On Christian Kindness: Holly and Sahar Exchange Gifts

This is Holly

Chance meetings can have remarkable results....

Last night was absolutely one of my favorite nights lately! I went to dinner with my friends Kimberly and Dennis, Red Robin baby! After dinner we ventured to Starbucks to talk for a while, and we saw some of my other friends there as well. Well, as Kimberly, Dennis and I were departing and going our separate ways, I drove by the friends I saw earlier to just say goodbye and noticed a girl was having trouble with her car in the middle of the lot.

So, I backed up to her and asked if she needed help. Justin came over and we pushed her car to the side so she wasn't blocking traffic (no worries, I only used one arm, my other arm was perfectly safe and not strained at all!). Anyway, when she tried to call her roadside assistance, she found she wasn't covered - though she said specifically asked to be covered. So, Justin called AAA to get a tow back to her house. While he was speaking with AAA, Amy and I were trying to get to know her a little (al biet I wanted to make sure she knew I wanted to stay and help her). She is currently studying for her Chemical Engineering degree and will be transferring to UC San Diego this fall. When Justin finished his call, he went with Amy and Kamy back to Starbucks and I stayed with the girl. We decided to walk and talk while we waited for the tow truck.

Her name is Sahar, she came here from Iran 6 years ago because she wasn't allowed to continue her education past high school due to her faith. She and her family are not Muslim, and they were persecuted immensely for that fact. They had to practice their faith "underground" because of the turmoil the Iran government placed on them. She also, is not Christian. In fact, most people haven't ever heard of her faith. I have heard of it though because I like to study that stuff. She is from the Baha'i faith. I don't know a whole lot about Baha'i, but I wanted to hear so I probed. She was actually extremely open about answering my questions (I wonder if she thought she had a potential convert on her hands - that'd be funny). Baha'i is a new faith, only 800 years old compared to the other major religions of the world. She said that basically, they believe that ALL religions are true and ALL prophets are true. When asked how she can believe that the Qur'an AND the Bible both portray the same Truth when they are both so distinctly different, she told me this analogy:

As times change, so does the human mind. Therefore, different prophets must proclaim the Truth as it is needed for that time period. Though Jesus and Muhammad said different things, it's because the minds of the people needed to hear that Truth at that time. She then explained their religion's practices regarding prayer, fasting, feasts, etc. When the tow guy came, I decided that I wanted to spend more time with her, so I gave her a ride home (she didn't really want to ride in the tow truck) and I was able to pay for the tow for her because he couldn't accept a check - paying her bill for her was an added bonus, I loved being able to serve her in these ways!

When he was finished and about to take off, she invited me into her home. So, I took my shoes off before entering and was able to spend about an hour with her, talking about my faith and her faith. On the walls of her living room, were no pictures of family but instead a huge picture of the Baha'i Temple in Haifa, Israel and on the opposite wall were portraits of the family of the Baha'i Prophet (Bahá’u’lláh) or "the Messenger of God for this day and age". She wanted to see my Bible - I have a compact one I always keep with me - and she showed me her prayer adn meditation books for Baha'i. She told me about her ordeal in Iran, and the process of coming to America (amazing story! But too long to share now), and her family. We drank Persian Tea and ate carmel and just had a great time talking.

As I was leaving, she asked me to pray for her brother Sahid, who is currently stuck in Turkey in his process for coming to America. She told me a little about him and his life and said she would be honored if I would pray for him. I joyously agreed! She also said she wanted to see me again before I move - I told I would love to and hopefully we can find a time in our schedules to do so! It was such a wonderful night of service and discussion with her! I then immediately called Justin, Amy AND Kamy to see if they wanted to come with me... of course, they were still at Starbucks so I joined them so I could tell them personally.

It was such a fun night! And to think, I wanted to just go home adn get thigns ready for my move, do some laundry and go to bed early - God totally had other plans for me and I'm so glad I was available and willing to do it! He blesses us so much when we walk in obedience to His Word and truly place ourselves available to those who don't know Him! It was awesome!

Holly, "All Inclusive (this is long but worth it!) " Standing at the Microphone

Thursday, May 25, 2006

On Sexuality, Self, and the Shape of Society: A Baha'i Alternative to Materialistic, Body-centered Cultural Values

Holly Hanson

In a comment to a recent post on Baha'i Views, Tan Ya refers readers to a talk on "Sexuality, Self, and the Shape of Society" by Holly Hansen which was delivered to the "Building the Kingdom Conference" in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, June 29, 2001. It is a fascinating analysis. Here is an excerpt from it.

Our current way of thinking, that divides people into heterosexuals and homosexuals, came into being about one hundred years ago. It is real: we both shape and are shaped by the societies that we live in. Since these categories are so firmly established, it makes sense that we experience our own reality as defined by desire. Sexual identities are very comforting to people - both people who identify themselves as homosexuals and people who identify themselves as heterosexuals.

However, if we look at how we have arrived at the conception that people are defined by desire and find happiness in possessions and a romantic partner, we may ask ourselves whether we really want these ideas shaping us, whether this is the best we can do for ourselves. We have come to this pattern of thought through a long process that involved an increasing focus on the human body and the loss of a consensus about humanity's spiritual reality. It followed a drastic reduction of the richness of people's social relationships. It accompanied a profound anxiety about the direction of social change, which led to intensely rigid gender roles, a narrowing of the realms of activity considered acceptable for women and for men. After several hundred years of this process, we experience ourselves as bundles of needs which can be satisfied through consumption. We are so accommodated to the degradation of human beings as objects of the desire of others that it seems normal. We objectify ourselves, and whole industries exist to help us do it. We have commodified every conceivable social relationship: we pay people to talk to us and to take care of our aging relatives, we have learned to express our emotions in purchases. As a result, we live with material excess whose results will be inscribed on the planet for generations. The set of beliefs and practices we have about sexuality are less than useless. The theories are pernicious, the standards are false, the claims are hollow, the habits are perverse, and the excesses are sacrilegious. This was my first point.

Mentioned in the Hanson talk is the Bahá’í Network on AIDS, Sexuality, Addictions and Abuse, a committee appointed by and under the guidance of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of Canada. Their website is a valuable source of information around the subject of sexuality, including homosexuality, from a Baha'i perspective, and has information regarding addictions and abuse as well.

On "I Am the Way, and the Truth, and the Life": What Does It Mean to Baha'is?

A coptic Christian image of Christ

Here is a question from dear Annie, referring to one of my answers to "Max's Good Questions" : You said...that the "core of God's religion never changes." The core and foundation of true Chrisianity though is that Jesus is the only way to God. Jesus says this Himself many times in the Bible. I was just wondering why Bahai's include Christianity in their religion when Christ teaches that He is the ONLY way to God?

Here is the commentary of Robert Stockman on this subject.

Modern Christians sometimes use passages from the New Testament as titles or descriptions of Jesus. Perhaps the best example would be John 14:6, '1 am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but by me'. Bahá'í would not reject this passage from the Gospel of John, but they would interpret it differently than most Christians. Two possible approaches come to mind. One would be to examine the word 'I'; to whom is Jesus referring? To Himself, certainly, but could He not be referring to all Manifestations in general, since, as Bahá'u'lláh explains, one of the stations of the Manifestations is 'pure abstraction and essential unity' (Gleanings 51)? Thus, Jesus's statement would never have been meant to exclude the other Manifestations, especially not Himself when He returned – that is, in the person of Bahá'u'lláh. A Christian theologian, John Cobb, has also recognised the ambiguity of 'I' and has suggested that the 'I' refers not to the historical Jesus, but to the eternal logos manifested in Jesus.In Bahá'í terms, Cobb is suggesting that the 'I' refers to the Holy Spirit common to all the Manifestations, or to their station of unity.

One could also examine the word 'am'. The verb to be has many uses – the Oxford English Dictionary lists twenty four – some of which are normally distinguished from each other only by context. One grammatical usage is the universal present, which is used to make statements that are always true, such as 'triangles are three-sided'. Another usage applies to the present, but may not apply to the future as well, such as 'I am young' or 'I am alive'. Christians usually understand the statement 'I am the way, and the truth, and the life', as a universal present, but could it not be meant to apply only to some period of time in the past? Could not Abraham have been the way, truth, and life for the peoples of the Middle East from 2000 BCE to respect in the English language that is applied the time of Moses; then Moses was the way, truth, and life until the time of Jesus; then Jesus was the way, truth, and life until the time of Muhammad; and so on? Similarly, Bahá'u'lláh is the way, truth, and life until He will be superseded by another Manifestation, which He assures us will occur after a thousand years (Gleanings 346).

Robert Stockman, "Jesus Christ in the Baha'i Writings"

On the Personal Stories of Real Baha'is: A Story from Katherine

Image: Being "a brilliant star", one interpretation

Excerpts from Katherine have graced these pages before. Here is some of her recent personal reflections.

I wasn't raised as a Baha'i. As a newly-declared 15 year old, I deepened myself in my spiritual mother's basement by reading years of back-issues of Brilliant Star, because none of the youth classes were covering the basics. In my rush to catch up, I was constantly in a hurry to read more, to learn more stuff, because then people would accept me as a real Baha'i. As I got older, I felt that the standard of acceptance was to be more involved, to do more stuff, and so I taught children's classes, served on committees, planned conferences and retreats and helped with unit conventions. Then there was this Institute process to think about, and I got trained in Core Curriculum and became a Ruhi facilitator and pushed myself to get through the sequence of courses.

It's been good. I'm glad I did it all. I'll keep doing most of that, too.

But allow me a moment to reflect on the needs of my own soul.

"One hour of reflection is preferable to seventy years of pious worship." -Tablets of Baha'u'llah

I need Baha'u'llah back, not as the focus of my thoughts, which He has been, not as the driving force behind my actions, which I try to make Him,

but as the Love of my life.

Katherine, "I Prayed for Changes," A Thousand Paper Craniums

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

On the Arrest of 54 Baha'is in Shiraz: The News Is Out

The news is out.

54 Baha'is arrested in Iran

NEW YORK, 24 May 2006 (BWNS) -- Iranian officials have arrested 54 Baha'is in the city of Shiraz, the Baha'i International Community has learned
. [Read the entire article]

For the commentary of one blogger to this news read this post.

On Religious Ramblings: Max's Good Questions

First, Max's post on Religious Ramblings. He wrote:

So here's how it goes… I've been a Catholic my whole life and of course I don't believe everything that a "true" Catholic would but I guess I believed the basics (e.g. Jesus is the savior and the basics like that). But now I'm older and I guess I've grown out of the songs that they teach in Bible School to get that stuff etched inside your brain and I'm not the gullible little 6-year-old I once was. The point is that I don't think that I'm actually a Catholic. What's more, I don't even know if I'm even a Christian!

I could just go ahead and say "I'm not a Christian" but that's harder than it sounds. Saying that is like throwing away everything I've been. And everyone around me. The only people who aren't Christian around here are Atheists and I'm not an atheist. Every week I go to a group thing, a "club" of sorts, where people get together and talk about Christianity. Like learning about your faith. "Thinking Like a Christian" is the book we read from, so you get the idea. Anyway, I've gone to these meetings for about a year and I've known from the start that I don't agree with almost everything they say. The book and all the people say that Christianity is the cornerstone of life and everything has sprouted from Christianity. The human race couldn't have got as far as it is now without Christianity. I didn't agree then, I'm not agreeing now. ...

So in my "self-search" to find what religion I really am I took the "Belief-O-Matic" quiz (which can be found here: ) and I didn't get Roman Catholic as the religion that best fits me, big surprise, I got Orthodox Quaker. Interesting but unrealistic. I'm no Quaker, sorry. A little down the list, about 5 or so I saw "The Baha'i Faith" so I clicked on it and the description was interesting so I did a little more research and I found out the Baha'i Faith is very interesting. ...

One thing about The Baha'i Faith that is unique is their belief in the "oneness of religion". They believe that all the major religions believe in the same God and that all their major prophets are "messengers" (in a sense) from God (e.g. Jesus, Abraham, Buddha, Zoroaster, Bab, and Baha'u'llah - the founder of the Baha'i Faith). This idea really struck me and when I had read over the basics of what the Baha'i Faith is about and what it believes, I was immediately sucked in. I wanted to know more about it! Some people call it a cult but I don't think so. What do you all think?

My comment on his blog led Max to raise some questions via email to me. Here are his questions interspersed with my comments.

Thanks for commenting on my "blog"! I have a few questions if you don't mind answering them.

1. Are Baha'is expected to be really peaceful and reserved? I'm not old and boring, I'm still a teenager! I have to have a social life with lots of fun, you can't tell me I would have to be a loner, right? Maybe it just seems to me like Baha'is are this way (me being stereotypical, sorry).

Baha'is are young and old, extravert and introvert, as the Baha'i community is a microcosm of the macrocosm of the people of the world. Baha'is have fun, that's for sure. If you want to check out what Baha'i youth are like, you might visit the ljbahai community at

2. The Baha'i Prophets are:
* Krishna (~3102 BC)
* Zoroaster (Unknown time range of 1300 possible birth years.)
* Abraham (~1900 BC)
* Moses (~1405 BC)
* Buddha (~563-483 BC)
* Jesus (~0)
* Muhammad (~570)
* the Bab (1819-1850)
* Baha'u'llah (1817-1892)
So how does this make sense if they all taught totally different things?
Krishna was on a different plane of reality as a Hindu told me, Buddhists don't even believe in a God, the Bab and Baha'u'llah were around in the same time frame so how does that make them both the prophet of their own era?

There are not just nine "Baha'i prophets"? Here is how one Baha'i describes it: "The Baha'i Faith is a continuation and fulfillment of the Abrahamic Judeo-Christian-Islamic religions, while for the first time within this huge stream, equally affirming the Hindu-Buddhist stream of spirituality. This is achieved by virtue of the principle of Progressive Revelation, in which the core principles of God's religion never change, but some of the outward forms and social rules evolve to fit the needs of the times. The forward momentum of Progressive Revelation is maintained by a series of Manifestations of God who further the message, which includes Abraham, Moses, Jesus, Muhammad, Gautauma Buddha, Zoroaster, and others both known and unknown."

3. Are Baha'is really expected to pray everyday?

There are three obligatory prayers from which to choose for daily prayers.

4. If Baha'is preach equality of the sexes why aren't women allowed in the Universal House of Justice, isn't that a HUGE contradiction?!

This subject can be a test for some people. It can be characterized as a mystery that will become apparent in time, although there are some very rational explanations than can be brought to bear. If you're really interested, there are some links I can refer you to.

5. Does the Baha'i Faith accept homosexuals and homosexuality? If not, why not? Don't you preach equality?

The Baha'i Faith is for everyone. If your question is, does the Baha'i Faith find acceptable homosexual behavior, the answer is no, as the proper place for the sexual act is between a man and a woman who are married. The Baha'i teachings in this matter are no different than those of any of the other world religions.

6. The photo of Baha'u'llah. It is supposed to be treated with the most reverence and what not. Do you treat all pictures of prophets that way?

There is no prohibition upon Baha'is towards viewing pictures of other Founders of Religion that I am aware of.

Here are Max's follow-up questions.

Thanks for replying so quickly, I have another question (I really hope you don't mind because if you do PLEASE tell me to stop).

If Baha'u'llah is the founder of the Baha'i Faith then why should Baha'is listen to what Abdul-Baha and Shoghi Effendi teach? They aren't the founders. Is it like Catholics listening to what the Pope says?

Baha'is listen to Abdu'l-Baha and Shoghi Effendi because each was designated as the authoritative interpreter upon the passing of their predecessor. This is a big deal in religious history, because it has been precisely the naming of Abdu'l-Baha after Baha'u'llah's passing, and Shoghi Effendi after Abdu'l-Baha's passing and the Universal House of Justice after Shoghi Effendi's passing that has prevented this Faith from being splintered into so many sects or denominations as previous religions have each experienced. The Baha'i Faith has remained unified because of these and other safeguards that Baha'u'llah addressed himself in his Writings.

Also, what does the Bab have to do with the Baha'i Faith if he had his own religion?

The Bab was the predecessor of Baha'u'llah. He is like a John the Baptist except that he is considered to have founded a new Faith. The Bab's coming marked the end of the Cycle of Prophecy. With Baha'u'lah you have the beginning of the Cycle of Fulfillment, when things long promised, such as World Peace, will finally be achieved. There are many prophecies regarding the coming of not one, but two, Manifestations of God at this time. See

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

On Five Things Found in Rebekah's Purse: The First Three

Rebekah has been tagged to reveal "Five Things" in her fridge, her car, her closet, and her purse. There a story in her purse. Here are the first three out of...

5 things in my Purse

1. My small Bobbie Brown compact holding 4 lipsticks in one compartment that slides back to reveal two eyeshadows and brown powder liner - and the perfect little application brushes. With that compact, I could make myself presentable if stranded for days.

2. A Starbucks card, loaded with lots of money so I can satisfy those needs that pop up on many occasions. You must always be prepared.

3. A brochure describing the Baha'i religion. A very sincere woman at a lovely restaurant, where my friend treated me on my birthday, gave both of us a brochure. I don't really know why, but I could not bear to deny her. I would have liked to sit down and talk with her. From our very brief conversation, it is clear that she has lived a life filled with many challenges I have not had to face. She moved here from Iran several years ago and religious freedom was just one of the things she was seeking.

Rebekah, "I'm It," Rebekah's Musings

On Blog-Searching Baha'i: Little Finds of the Day

"Baha'is as a Middle East Contoversy" is a post by smkolins that provides an overview with links on He is a Baha'i from North Carolina, USA. The site has a multi-faith forum with several Baha'is participating.

"Justin Baldoni of 'Everwood' tells us about his Baha'i faith" is the subject of a podcast available on Current Question. "Everwood" is a current TV drama on WB. Justin is a second-generation Baha'i who was raised in Oregon. Last year he was also
And while we are looking at actor Baha'is, there is "Local Boy Makes Good" about Rainn Wilson on the blog "Tales of a 9th Grade Tuba Player." The blogger 's quote quotes Rainn as saying: "I give a big Baha'i shout-out to my Seattle Baha'i peeps!"
Welcome to world, bahaibaby! Hello friends! I am creating this journal to focus on my spiritual self and I made this community: bahai_rochester to encourage positive energy and interactions amongst friends.

Monday, May 22, 2006

On Why You Might Want to Become a Baha'i: Nine Reasons

Ron Stephens provides both text and podcasts on various Baha'i subjects on his website AwareTek Mash-Up. Here are his "Nine Reasons Why You May Want to Be a Baha'i":

1. Because we don't reject the foundations of your beliefs, we renew them. Bahá'ís celebrate the unity of the world religions - not by overlooking their differences, but by explaining them from a spiritual, cultural and historic perspective.

2. Because we offer a sense of Community based on acceptance, not exclusivity. Bahá'ís consider every person on earth to be members of one family. There is not "us" and "them;" there is only "us".

3. Because we give you hope for the future. Bahá'ís don't ignore the world's problems, we explain them in a way that makes sense and offer solutions that will work.

4. Because we have answers for the hard questions. If you've ever felt that your questions were unwelcome, you will be pleased to discover that the Bahá'í Writings not only encourage questions, but contain answers that you can explore for yourself.

5. Because these teachings will bring you joy. Developing your spiritual qualities, moving closer to God and working with a loving community may not bring you an easy life or lots of money, but they will bring you an inner peace and contentment that will last an eternity.

6. Because you will fall in love with the Bahá'í Writings and their Author, God's latest (not last) messenger, Bahá'u'lláh. You will also fall in love with your own highest potential as a noble reflection of God's light, and begin to love others in that same light.

7. Because you will feel good about yourself, knowing that you are doing something to make the world a better place. In the Bahá'í Community you will be working for unity and cooperation between all people. This is the first step in solving any of the world's problems.

8. Because we are successful. Spiritual principles, sensible laws and an international administrative system have united millions of members from virtually every country on earth in a community which fosters personal growth and global harmony.

9. Because it feels right. In those quiet moments when you stop to listen to your heart, there will come a time when you will know that the Bahá'í Community has what you are looking for. Until then, keep reading, keep praying, and keep coming to activities. We are always glad to see you.

Ron Stephens,"Why I am a Baha'i: A Postmodern Journey to Faith at the Dawn of a New Millennium," AwareTek, the technology of being human

Friday, May 19, 2006

On Powerful Blogs: Intimate Updates

"Each fragment is a whole" - Nevergreen

Nevergreen paints another exquisite picture with her words with "six moments," a collage of impressions that includes a description of the Baha'i Feast she attended the other night.

Jess describes how her spirit is "flickering to life" through her study of the Baha'i Faith and shares current feelings about the Christianity she was raised up in.

On Defense of the Faith: Baha'i Responses To Situation in Egypt

Here is what was written about the Faith in Al-Ahram. Here is how Baha'is responded:

"Never Heard of Him"

Sir-- There is no one named Misson who was ever made leader of the Baha'i faith ('The others' Al-Ahram Weekly 11-17 May). The head of the Baha'i community from 1921-1957 was Shoghi Effendi Rabbani. In 1963, the Baha'is elected, from among all Baha'is in the world, the nine men of the Universal House of Justice, which is the community's governing body. Those nine men come from many places including Iran, Africa, Europe, America and Asia. The Baha'i faith's world centre is in Haifa and Akko because its founder, Baha'ullah, was exiled there by the Iranian and Ottoman authorities in 1868, long before the establishment of the state of Israel.

Islam's third holiest site, called The Noble SanctuaryThe Mosque of Al-Aqsa is in Jerusalem, now ruled by Israel, yet you do not attack your fellow Muslims as being in league with Zionism because your own holy place is there. Do not Muslims send endowments to the sacred Muslim shrines in Jerusalem? Why constantly call the Baha'is "Zionists" and "spies" because our holy places are there and we send funds for their upkeep? Our funds go only to the Baha'i endowments there just as yours go only to the Islamic endowments.

Baha'is are categorically forbidden to engage in political activity, sedition, and dissension. We are not permitted to interfere with government affairs. We only seek to practice our faith without fear.

William Collins
Virginia USA
"Respected worldwide"

Map of Haifa, Israel
Sir-- There is no respectable evidence at all that the Baha'is are "Israeli spies", have "strong links with global Zionism in both theory and practice", or "were notorious for being instrumental in helping the British occupation of India". The Baha'i faith is recognised as a world religion and is respected for the contribution that it makes towards inter-faith dialogue, women's rights, and social and economic development.

Behyar Nikravan
Bedfordshire UK
"It's a religion"
Sir-- Baha'i is not a cult and it is not founded in Israel. It comes from Persia. They are not atheists. They believe wholly in God so if you want to call it a cult, then call all religions cults.

The Baha'i faith is the youngest of the world's independent religions. It is based on the teachings of Baha'ullah (1817-1892), who is regarded by Baha'is as the most recent in a line of messengers of God. Baha'ullah taught that there is only one God and one human family, that all religions represent progressive stages in the revelation of God's will, and that humanity is reaching its long-awaited stage of maturity, when a peaceful and just world order can finally be realised.

Jane Meadows
New York USA
Here is what Zeinobia wrote in her blog.
Here is how Baha'is responded:

Egypt is signatory of the Declaration of Human Rights where it is stated that "everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion". That same document states that "All are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law. All are entitled to equal protection against any discrimination in violation of this Declaration and against any incitement to such discrimination.".

Therefore, denying anyone an official document due to religious reasons is denying a basic human right. I would not be proud if my government were doing something like that.So many States and Rulers have tried to discriminate or persecute several social groups (religious minorities, ethnical groups, social strata, professional groups, etc). But what was the benefit of that? What happened to them? How do historians describe them?

As to Egyptian Baha'is using foreign passports, that reminds me the dark days of the Portuguese dictatorship, when so citizens whose civil rights were denied had to travel with foreign passports. And in those days, the authorities use to tell them: "Don't mess with the law in our country!"

By Marco ~~~~~~~~~
I am not sure where do you get your "facts" from. Egyptian Baha'is have foreign passports? Tell me which country is giving away citizenship to Egyptians whether Baha'is or not? Did you get that from the lawyer on Dream show who was shouting "they have foreign passports" in a crazy way (along with weird cockroach comments and God knows what)? The Baha'i man on Dream has an Egyptian passport as he kept on saying, but that lawyer was too loud that he couldn't even hear himself.If you want facts, let me give you facts:

- There is no "religion" entry in passports, so the issue doesn't apply here as it does for IDs

- I have an old torn ID that is missing a part from my grandfather's name so it's useless. (Torn delightfully in a police station by a stupid clerck who stapled it to other documents).

- I can't use this ID to issue a passport due to its missing information.

- No one in the vital records is willing to help in giving me any document to prove my identity. They only say "go get a computerized ID" and (quoting) "enta Baha'i malaksh 3andena 7aga". I wonder who is bending whose arm, as it was nicely mentioned on orbit that the Baha'is are bending the government arm.

- I've been stuck for more than 8 years without a passport and without a way to travel and I still didn't hear of that magic country that gives away foreign passports to Baha'is. And even if I do, I want an Egyptian passport as I am an Egyptian citizen.

Egyptian Lotus
Egyptian Blue LotusDue to not having an ID I'm unable to buy property, take loans from banks or prove my identity in government offices.

- I spent one year trying to issue a birth certificate for my daughter and during every day of which the vital records people insisted on registering her as christian when she is not. I asked them to write "other religion" or leave it blank and they refused.

Every Baha'i person in this country is going through even much more troubles than me. We suffer on daily basis due to this situation. And we are still patient and still obeying the laws of our country. But obeying the law doesn't mean I can't demand to change it if it's unjust. If the law allows only the followers of three religions to have full civil rights then it is unjust. If the constitution itself says that, then it needs to be amended.

This whole situation is based on wrong assumptions that everyone is taking as "facts". If only you people get your facts checked first.And by the way, here is an excellent blog in reply to the "facts" that you all talk about.
By Egyptian Baha'i
there shouldnt be any religious identification in documents to start with! who cares if you are muslim , bahai or christian?? we are all human beings , no one should be denied their rights based on their religion. the issue is not about the egyptian goverment recognizing officially the bahai religion, but rather that it is descriminating those citizens based on their religious beliefs, and that is just wrong.

i guess you would be ok if the united states didnt recognize islam, and oblige muslims to identify themselfes as christian?
By iuri ~~~~~~~~~
By different reasons Islam Faith didn't reach Europe in the first centuries A.H..It was even expeled from Spain and Portugal.

As a matter of fact, there are a few prejudicies in the West against Islam. But when a western (or anyone else) accept Bahá'u'lláh, The founder of Bahá'í Faith, immediatly recognizes Muhammad like a Messenger of The Almighty.The Muslims should understand this.

Something else, The Qur'an says The Day of God will return in One Thousand Years. We can't deny The Qur'an.
Dear Zeinboia, I'm afraid you're starting to make no sense. I got a vibe from you when i came across your blog that you know what you're talking about. And even in your last post when you mentioned fiction as facts i gave you the benefit of doubt that maybe you didn't know. But it seems like you are unwilling to know.

What does money have to do with suffering from not getting basic civil rights? The dentist on the show had both his kids expelled from school because he couldn't issue birth certificates for them, which is needed to be admitted in any school. No other school accepted them for the same reason. What will his money do in such a case?

Do not look at the Baha'is as one secluded group that live together and share funds. This would be the same as saying "Egyptians are not poor, look at Mohamed Nossair or Naguib Sawiras". Baha'is in Egypt come from different backgrounds. We have poor people among us and we have rich people. We don't have "filthy rich" people though (oh the suffering). They are all well educated as you might have noticed because education is obligatory in the Baha'i teachings whether you're poor or rich.

Cairo street scene
I'm still trying to get any sensible input from you so i will ask you a question and see your answer. And by sensible I don't mean agreeing with me, but something that makes "sense". Not random gloating and off-the-mark comments.

Imagine you are a Baha'i (just for the sake of the argument, imagine), you want to issue an ID and you're asked to choose one of three religions that you don't follow to be written in your document. What would you do?

Or maybe you can answer this: Imagine that you do not have an ID or a passport, when you get married your marriage is not legal, when you have a baby you can't have a birth certificate for him/her, that's beside the trouble of proving that it's a legit baby since you don't have a valid marriage certificate, you can't get them into a school, you get stopped by police in the street and you have no ID so they take you with them, you can't get a job (no ID, military paper if you are a man) and when you die (alf ba3d el shar 3aleeky) no one can issue a death certificate for you. Oh and with all that you have all the money that all the Baha'is have. What will your life be like?

By Egyptian Baha'i

Thursday, May 18, 2006

On Human Rights: Egyptian Court Suspends Decision Recognising Baha'i Rights

Sad news from Egypt. Thanks to Povo de Baha for bringing this article to my attention.

CAIRO, 16 May 2006 (IRIN) - Egypt’s Supreme Administrative Court decided on 15 May to suspend the implementation of an earlier lower court ruling that allowed Bahais to have their religion recognised on official documents.

“While [we are] disappointed by the decision to suspend the administrative court ruling…it is important to note that the Supreme Administrative Court has yet to decide on the merits of the case,” read a press statement issued by the Cairo-based Egyptian Initiative for Private Rights (EIPR).

The earlier ruling, made on 4 April, was passed after a case was filed by a Bahai couple whose official documentation – on which their affiliation to Bahaism was stated – had been confiscated by the state. The ruling quickly became the epicentre of controversy in parliament, led by members of both the ruling National Democratic Party and the banned-but-tolerated Muslim Brotherhood, after which the interior ministry quickly filed an appeal to overturn the ruling.

“We have no issue with people describing themselves as followers of beliefs not recognised by Islam,” prominent Muslim Brotherhood member Abdel Moneim Abul Futouh said on 7 May. “What must be appealed is a ruling allowing followers of unrecognised faiths to describe themselves as followers of a religion in official documents when it’s not technically a religion.”

According to the EIPR statement, the Supreme Administrative Court has denied a request by the defence team for a postponement of the suspension until its members could present a written rebuttal.

Officials at the Supreme Administrative Court meanwhile declined to comment.

Informal estimates suggest that there are approximately 2,000 Bahais currently resident in Egypt. Founded in Iran in the 19th century, the movement’s spiritual and administrative homes are now respectively located in Akka and Haifa, Israel.

"EGYPT: Court suspends ruling recognising Bahai rights," IRIN, UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs

On Baha'i Identity: Material Evidence at Rahmat's Place

Photos from Flitzy Phoebie

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

On Being Brave: One Soul to Seoul and Back Again

To assist a soul to become enamoured of Baha'u'llah is one of the most thrilling experiences a Baha'i can have. To be that nurturer who is there to assist the seeker from point of initial contact through to becoming fully connected to the Faith through participation in its core activities has its own special rewards in the eyes of God. Adalia has undoubtedly had such favor.

A Korean Temple
About Me
Name: Adalia Ellis
Location: Florence, South Carolina, and South Korea
I am pretty down to earth these days. Trying not to become a cynical person but realistic. I am pretty much at peace with myself.

Shingai- "Be Brave and Of Good Courage", is my Shona name and has become the anthem of my life. I try to live a life that is balanced between the silly and the serious, though both require courage. My life is not an open book but what I do choose to share are small steps on my journey toward bravery.

Florence, South Carolina
Wednesday, May 17, 2006, Getting Antsy: I realised this morning that most of my girlfriends will be gone within the next month. I am a little sad about this. That is part of living in a country like Korea, doing the kind of job I am doing. Everything is in a state of transition...emotionally, spiritually, I know that right now I have so much to do before I leave but I can't wait to get back to the States and get the rest of my life started.

I feel like I acheived the reason I came here. I was able to introduce the Faith to one person and that person became a Baha'i...instantly involved in the devotional gatherings and study circles. He is becoming more and more deepened..his love for God is undeniable as well as the fact that he is completely enamored with Baha'u'llah. He has been teaching the Faith to his family, which within themselves they have transformed, and now his sister is coming to devotions and is interested in study circles.

On Baha'i Bloggers: Through the Eyes of a Persian-American

I have been enjoying Nizam's various posts on Scribbles of a Persian Anesthesiologist.

Nizam and his wife Shahrzad
In "Remembering Mona" he writes: Today, I found myself pondering on the life of Mona Mahmudnizhad, the teenager who was put to death in Shiraz solely on the basis of her religious beliefs as a member of the Baha'i community. The poem below by Shamlou captures what history has witnessed too many times:

مرد ِ تلخ که بر شاخه‌ی خشک ِ انجيربُني وحشي نشسته بود سری

جنباند و با خود گفت:

«چنين است آری.

مي‌بايست از لحظه

از آستانه‌ی زمان ترديد


و به قلمرو ِ جاودانه‌گي قدم بگذارد

زايش ِ دردناکي‌ست اما از آن گزير نيست

بار ِ ايمان و وظيفه شانه مي‌شکند، مردانه باش!»

حلقه‌ی تسليم را گردن نهاد و خود را

در فضا رها کرد

با تبسمي

In "The King of Festivals" he writes about what it was like for Baha'is in his homeland during Ridvan: In the post-revolution Iran, where one always worried about wiretapping and "big brother" watching the activities of the community, the code word for the Festival of Ridvan, the holiest twelve days in the Baha'i Faith, was the "festival of flowers," or عید گل Such is how we observed the festival and expressed our well wishes to other believers in public or on the phone without drawing too much attention.

Home-visiting has special meaning for Baha'is, celebrated as it is in Ruhi Book 2, but home-visiting is also associated with the Naw-Ruz holiday celebrated by Iranians generally, as Nizam describes in his post "Deed-O-Bazdeed":

In Montreal, however, with a large Iranian and Baha'i community, one still finds a flavor of how paying visits to another was observed in Iran. Since Mr. and Mrs. Saririan have been through a trying and challenging year with his illness, the community felt that the Saririans get priority to be amongst the first to be visited. In a matter of moments, the Saririan home was filled with many cheerful souls and well-wishers who had come to brighten the day. [Left and right], you may find some pictures of did-o-bazdid a la Montreal!