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Posts Tagged ‘baha’i faith’

Today, on the 9th of July, 2009, the Times of London has printed an article by Cherie Blair, wife of ex British Prime Minister Tony Blair, herself one of the U.K’s top lawyers.

In the article, she outlines the case of the leaders of the Bahá’í Faith in Iran, who are due to stand trial on charges of ‘espionage’ amongst others, where the penalty of death is a likely punishment.

Cherie Blair draws our attention to the fact that Nobel Prize winner Shirin Ebadi has been trying to defend them (whilst receiving death threats) and that we mustn’t lose sight of human rights violations against the largest religious minority in Iran, the Baha’is, who number around 300,000 and stand on the brink of possible religious genocide…

The article is here.

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Nineteen days, much like the last initiative I was involved in, ‘morn and eve,’ is a photoblog collaboration.

Taken by Amy Sahba

However….the difference with nineteen days is that it is one specifically for the nineteen day long Baha’i Fast.

Starting on the 2nd of March and ending on the 20th March, ‘nineteen days’ will feature 3 photographers (and 3 photos) everyday. Two photographers will always be the same. Amy Sahba and Leila, whilst everyday will feature one new ‘guest’ photographer.

I am one of these ‘guest’ photographers, and my slot is on Wednesday the 4th of March.

Check it out here

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Originally written for Bahá’í Perspectives:

Continued from Part 1

Classical scholar Alexis de Tocqueville differentiated between three types of revolutions.

1) political revolutions

2) sudden and violent revolutions that seek not only to establish a new political system but to transform an entire society

3) slow but sweeping transformations of the entire society that take several generations to bring about (ex. religion).

The revolution I am about to describe is mainly the third, with elements of the second. However, like all revolutions, the spark was lit by an enigmatic figure; the revolutionary.

Che Guevara once said this about revolutionaries:

At the risk of seeming ridiculous, let me say that the true revolutionary is guided by a great feeling of love. … We must strive every day so that this love of living humanity will be transformed into actual deeds, into acts that serve as examples, as a moving force.

Whether or not Che himself lived up to this ideal is a question to be answered by historians. During the 19th century, one individual not only fulfilled Che’s statement but exceeded it in ways we will never fully understand. His name was His name was Siyyid `Alí Muḥammad Shírází­, known more commonly by his title ‘The Báb,‘ or the ‘Gate’.

His character was described as “the gentle, the youthful and irresistible person of the Báb, matchless in His meekness, imperturbable in His serenity, magnetic in His utterance, unrivalled in the dramatic episodes of His swift and tragic ministry.”

Born on October 20th, 1819, in Shiraz, Persia (Iran) and belonging to a noble family, the Báb was a descendant from Muhammad through the Imam Husayn through both his parents. The Báb was endowed with innate knowledge, and had little schooling.

During his childhood he dumbfounded his teacher, who sent him home, realising he had nothing to teach this extraordinary child. The Báb later joined his uncle in the trade of being a merchant. Soon after marrying, the beginning of the ‘revolution’ began, on the 23nd May 1844, in Shiraz.

So why did this revolution start in 19th century Persia (Iran)?

The ancient Greeks saw revolution as a possibility only after the decay of the fundamental moral and religious tenets of society.

Persia of that time was a place which was seen to be one of the worst in the world. The country was in ruins spiritually and materially, through neglect and extreme corruption as well as religious hypocrisy and fanaticism:

The people among whom He appeared were the most decadent race in the civilized world, grossly ignorant, savage, cruel, steeped in prejudice, servile in their submission to an almost deified hierarchy, recalling in their abjectness the Israelites of Egypt in the days of Moses, in their fanaticism the Jews in the days of Jesus, and in their perversity the idolators of Arabia in the days of Muhammad.

Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By, p. 3

This portrayal of Iran by Shoghi Effendi, the Guardian of the Baha’i Faith, was not the only one at that time.

In the London Times Newspaper, dated December 26th 1845, Persia correspondent ‘Trebisonde’ wrote an article called ‘The State of Persia.’ He opened the article with the following sentence;

The state of Persia has never been more miserable, more unhappy, or more gloomy, than at present.

Trebisonde also goes onto describe the ‘avaricious’ character of the Vizier (Prime minister) of the Shah, who was so cruel that peasants have abandoned their villages and fled to the mountains and to the deserts, where they “prefer to suffer from hunger and misery rather than to be beaten to death” due to the greed of their governmental masters.

He then goes on to say:

none but an idiot like Mohammed Shah, the reigning King of Persia, would suffer his Grand Vizier to act as he pleases, and close his eyes against the sight of ruin of the kingdom. The feeble Shah regards his former precipitor as a saint, and interferes not in State affairs.

Thus an all too familiar scenario has been painted, a place where injustice, oppression and fear have reared their ugly heads. Persia of 1844 was a place ripe for revolution.

The world was an interesting place at this time. In Iran, people (Shaykhis) were waiting for the ‘Promised Qa’im’ or the ‘Mahdi‘, whilst in the western world, chiefly the U.S.A., thousands of Christians known as ‘Millerites’ (now know known as 7th Day Adventists) were waiting for the Second Coming of Christ, all in 1844.

On the 23nd May, 1844, the Báb declared himself to be that Promised one to both had been waiting for. His ministry lasted only 9 years, during which he composed hundreds of letters and books (often termed tablets) in which he stated his claims and proclaimed his teachings, which constituted a new sharí’ah or religious law. The mission of the Báb was to make way for one even greater than him, Baha’u’llah, the founder of the Baha’i Faith in 1863.

The Báb’s ideas were so new and revolutionary, they created other smaller revolutionaries. One such ‘revolutionary’ was the famous poetess known as Tahirih, who at the Conference of Badasht, in 1848, threw off her veil signifying a break with Islam and heralding in the new Faith, a heretical act unheard of in entire the Islamic world. She was seen to be one of the first emancipators of women.

Azar Nafisi, a famous Iranian (and not a Baha’i) author and scholar said in an interview on PBS “The first woman to unveil and to question both political and religious orthodoxy was a woman named Tahireh who lived in early 1800s, you know. And we carry this tradition.”

The Bábi movement eventually acquired tens of thousands of supporters, was virulently opposed by Iran’s Shi’a clergy, and was suppressed by the Iranian government leading to thousands upon thousands of his followers, termed Bábis, being persecuted and killed in the most horrific manner. In 1850 the Báb was executed by a firing squad of 750 men in Tabriz.

Whilst the detailed story of the Báb, and his 9 year Ministry are epic in scope, and on par with the miracles, tragedy and brilliance of the stories of the ministry of other Manifestations like Moses, Christ and Muhammad (albeit concentrated into 9 years), they are likewise beyond the capacity of this blog entry. An extremely brief summary can be read here: http://info.bahai.org/babi-faith.html

This revolution was different to any other revolution previously experienced:

In sheer dramatic power, in the rapidity with which events of momentous importance succeeded each other, in the holocaust which baptized its birth, in the miraculous circumstances attending the martyrdom of the One Who had ushered it in, in the potentialities with which it had been from the outset so thoroughly impregnated, in the forces to which it eventually gave birth, this nine-year period may well rank as unique in the whole range of man’s religious experience.

(Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By, p. 3)

The Bábi Faith, however, stands unique, because it was a religion in its own right, lasting 9 years and paving the way for Baha’u’llah to found the Baha’i Faith.

Thus from a small room in Shiraz, to the creation of a Faith spanning the entire planet within 100 years is certainly a revolution. Especially as it has shaped, given vision and hopes to everyone of its members.

The Baha’i Faith was listed in The Britannica Book of the Year (1992-present) as the second most widespread of the world’s independent religions in terms of the number of countries represented. Britannica claims that it is established in 247 countries and territories; represents over 2,100 ethnic, racial, and tribal groups; has scriptures translated into over 800 languages; and has seven million adherents worldwide [2005].

It is not just the spread of this Faith that is truly revolutionary, in such a short period but also the fact that it is one of the fastest growing religions in the world.

In 2007, Foreign Policy magazine said it was the second fastest growing religion in the world. Islam being the first.

So why has this revolution been largely ignored?

The answer is, as Gill Scott Heron sings, because the ‘revolution will not be televised.’

He ends his poem with ‘The revolution is live’.

We miss out on the big picture and lack from the power of hindsight. Some of us are blinded by our own egos, others are not even aware, asleep on our couches.

The Bible says:

But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in

which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the

elements shall melt with fervent heat…

II Peter 3:10.

So maybe this revolution came like a thief in the night…

a thief that evaded closed-circuit cameras.

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‘every morn and eve’ is a photoblog founded by an old friend of mine from my university days at Queen Mary, University of London (2000-2003).

Now in New York, Amy Sahba is a journalist for CNN and founded this blog with her friend Leila.

Not only am I drawing your attention to it because it is a great idea, with beautiful photos by two very talented photographers……I’m also doing so because for the last few weeks she has asked a few of her friends’ to be ‘guest photographers.’

This week I am the guest photographer.
Day 7-morn

Here is the project in her own words:

every morn and eve is a collaborative project between friends and fellow bloggers amy and leila.

We are both members of the Bahá’í Faith—a world religion that has as its fundamental purpose the unification of all the peoples of the world. You can learn more about the Bahá’í Faith here.

As Bahá’ís we are enjoined to pray and meditate every morning and evening.

Recite ye the verses of God every morn and eventide…

Pride not yourselves on much reading of the verses or on a multitude of pious acts by night and day; for were a man to read a single verse with joy and radiance it would be better for him than to read with lassitude all the Holy Books of God, the Help in Peril, the Self-Subsisting.

Read ye the sacred verses in such measure that ye be not overcome by languor and despondency. Lay not upon your souls that which will weary them and weigh them down, but rather what will lighten and uplift them, so that they may soar on the wings of the Divine verses towards the Dawning-place of His manifest signs; this will draw you nearer to God, did ye but comprehend.

Bahá’u’lláh

Inspired by beautiful collaborative photography projects like 3191 as well as our experience in documenting our fasting dawns and dusks with nineteen days, we decided to share with each other and all of you moments of our meditative mornings and evenings for each day of the year.

Whether before or after breakfast or before or after dinner, twice a day we will be sitting down to pray, reflect, and spend time nourishing our souls.

One of us will include an inspirational passage from the Bahá’í Sacred Writings in our daily postings, which will come from a text that has been the subject of the day’s reflections.

Amy lives in Brooklyn, NY. Her photos are on the left.

Leila lives in Seattle, WA. She is in Sydney, Australia, at the moment, but will return to the Pacific Northwest shortly. Her photos are on the right.

The top row of photos is always mornings; underneath them are our evening photos.

Without much further ado, here is the blog.

My pics are the right column ones, 2nd-8th Feb.

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Fox

fox at night, originally uploaded by martin.gallagher24.

I see you Fox, you try and hide, when I come running

I see you Fox, scurry into the darkness when I come gunning

or driving, my point home.

However, when my values are shifted into neutral, and my hand break is on,

you rear your head and come crawling back with a menacing grin.

Because feeling satisfaction is being lulled into a false sense of security.

I lock the door, unwittingly leaving my valuables on display.

You, Fox, yes you. Know how to pick every lock I use

you, Fox, yes you, are waiting till my defences are down, till I am fast asleep

before you pounce.

However Fox, I outwitted you.

My flood lights illuminate the scene when you come in my path.

The alarm bells are regularly checked and put me in a constant state of vigilance

I feel safe

or not.

A deterrent such as this is of little use.

Prevention is better than cure.

I remove my valuables and buy a rottweiler

Fox doesn’t come around these parts any more.

However, he will be back, in some other form.

-a poem about the human ego

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Note: I posted this originally on ‘Baha’i Perspectives’ today:


With a new film about Che Guevara about to hit cinema screens shortly, the idea of revolution and the revolutionary will be thrust upon us yet again.

Now before you start dusting off that dusty Che Guevara t-shirt, let us take some time to reflect on what true revolution is all about.

The term revolution comes from the Latin revolutio’ which translates to “a turn around.”

Revolutions are usually led by a revolutionary, someone who has a major or sudden impact on society. These ‘revolutionaries’ are often iconic people; sometimes charismatic and sometimes notorious (and sometimes both).

Examples of 20th century revolutionaries range from Ayatollah Khomeini to Che Guevara, Mao Zedong to Mohandas Gandhi, Martin Luther King to Adolf Hitler.

Revolutionaries can be classified in two ways. One is according to the ideology they propose, whether religious or social, like the Islamic revolution in Iran or communist revolution in China.

Or they can be classified by the methods they use to bring about change; for example, a violent or non-violent approach (e.g. Che Guevara and Gandhi, respectively).

Many revolutions come and then, after time, dwindle. Communism and Fascism have had their fire burn fiercely but have dwindled away in a relatively short space of time, gradually being replaced by other menacing ideologies like religious fanaticism or rampant consumerism.

The ideologies promoted by some revolutionaries, especially in the 20th century, have persisted and penetrated throughout the global consciousness. These are the ideas promoted by people such as Martin Luther King (Civil Rights Movement), Mohandas Gandhi (Truth-seeking and non-violent struggle) and Emmeline Pankhurst (Suffragette movement-Women’s right to vote).

Since these luminaries have pushed their ideas forward, we have witnessed the election of an African-American President of the United States of America, a female Prime Minister of the United Kingdom (two terms no less), formation of the United Nations, creation of recognized borders for each country, and in a few days, the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

A new world order is certainly being created before our very eyes.

The question is, what is the nature of this New World Order, and where did it come from?

From my own research, the first recorded usage of the phrase ‘New World Order’ was in the Kitáb-i-Aqdas, the ‘Most Holy Book’ by Bahá’u’lláh, founder of the Baha’i Faith, in 1873.

The world’s equilibrium hath been upset through the vibrating influence of this most great, this new World Order. Mankind’s ordered life hath been revolutionized through the agency of this unique, this wondrous System — the like of which mortal eyes have never witnessed.

Baha’u’llah, The Kitab-i-Aqdas, paragraph 181

To understand the full nature of this New World Order from a Baha’i perspective would require a discussion far greater than the scope of this post.  Notwithstanding, it will be dealt with in more detail in part 2 where, for instance, the origins of this ‘revolutionizing and wondrous system‘ will be described.

Before I continue, let me just say that the New World Order Baha’is are talking about has nothing to do with U.F.O.s, reptiles masquerading as humans, the Illuminati, secret societies, or any conspiracy theory.

It has everything to do with a global spiritual civilization with community development at its grass roots.

For a New World Order to be created, an old world order would have to disintegrate in its wake.

A transition on this scale would certainly require a revolution on an extremely large scale.

Thus a revolution and a New World Order go hand in hand.

So where is this process? When did it start? Who was the charismatic leader that began this revolution?

Was there even one?

Is the author of this post completely deluded?

The revolution I am going to describe is one that does not fit neatly into any category of revolution because it transcends the material plane of existence.

One thing I can tell you now is that it began on the evening of the 22nd of May, 1844, in Shiraz, Persia. (More to follow in part 2).

From my understanding, the forces released from that momentous day are still being felt today.

Already in the space of less than a century the operation of the mysterious processes generated by its creative spirit has provoked a tumult in human society such as no mind can fathom. Itself undergoing a period of incubation during its primitive age, it has, through the emergence of its slowly-crystallizing system, induced a fermentation in the general life of mankind designed to shake the very foundations of a disordered society, to purify its life-blood, to reorientate and reconstruct its institutions, and shape its final destiny.

Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By

A revolution on this scale cannot be ignored. So why has it been?

As Gill Scott Heron sings ‘The Revolution will not be Televised’.

I’ll stop here and continue in part 2 to describe the characteristics of the ultimate revolutionary, the history surrounding this revolution and explain why this one will not be televised.

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