Wednesday, July 25, 2007

On Being a Bridge Between the East and the West: A Grandfather's Wish for His Grandson

How is it that children of Baha'is grow up to be Baha'is? What can we learn from the stories of highly committed and devoted 2nd, 3rd, or 4th generation Baha'is? How did the flame of faith come to burn so brightly within their families? Nabil's story is illuminating. -gw

My grandfather was the strongest male figure in my family who had the greatest influence on me. He was born a Sunni Muslim in the south of Iran where he attended an Islamic school and studied the Quran. He moved from his small village in Bandar Lengeh to Bahrain and then Kuwait. In his youth in Iran he heard about the Baha’i Faith which he investigated before converting to it. He was a Muslim who was willing to choose the path of faith rather than comfort and ease, for he investigated Baha’u’llah’s claim to be a new messenger of God and accepted it regardless of the consequences which at that time in Iran could have been fatal. He was the only one in his family to become a Baha’i and his new faith strained relations with some members of his family. Nevertheless, he did not choose to simply follow the religion of his forefathers. ...

[A]t the age of 14 when I was entering into adolescence and becoming more conscious of the world, I sought during my last visit with my grandfather ... to know more about his life and upbringing. I wanted to know about his childhood, the things he enjoyed, the sufferings he endured, and most importantly, I wanted him to share with me the pearls of wisdom that he accumulated over a lifetime with regards to life and religion. Yet my wish was not to be granted for my time with my grandfather was limited as he was too weak and my Arabic nonexistent. ...

A few years later, my aunt recounted to me how my grandfather wished for me to become a bridge between the East and the West, as I am born of both worlds. As a result, the impression left on me by my grandfather; my desire to speak Arabic again with my family in Kuwait and Arabs; and the chance and hope to become a bridge between two worlds, East and West....

Nabil, "Why I Want to Learn Arabic," Expositions of Arabia: Dedicated to the illumination of reality
{Reposted with permission}

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