Monthly Archives: July 2009

The emancipation of women. Tahirih, the poet.

Many women have been born into the world when the concept of the equality of opportunities for men and women are part of the common structure of society. Many women have lived through the changes and developments while many others have fought until their very last breath to see this dream come true. One of this women that to me is the FIRST woman in the world to publicly speak about the emancipation of women was Táhirih.

Born in Qazvin, a city of Iran around 1817-1820 (her exact date of birth is unknown due to the fact that her birth certificate, along with other of her possessions were burnt after she was killed), Táhirih was the daughter of one of the most prominent Mullahs of the region and was well educated in Islam and the Quran. Her father often lamented the fact that she was a woman because of her brightness and enlightenment – he thought if she had been a boy that she would have been his successor.

A painting of Ṭáhirih by Ivan Lloyd. This image was taken from http://bahaikipedia.org/Tahirih

She believed in the teachings of Siyyid Kázim thus accepting the truth that the coming of the Promised One was close. After his death, Táhirih would tell others about the coming of the promised Qa’im through a curtain (back then women were not allowed to appear in public without a veil). A few years after this, the Bab was made Manifest. The first eighteen people to believe in Him are known as the “Letters of the Living” and Táhirih was the only woman amongst them. She recognized the truth of the Bab through a dream and immediately began to teach His Cause which was the reason for many to embrace the Bab’s Faith. She was already known as one of the most learned women of the time and this made the clerics nervous. Táhirih -as well as many other believers- was arrested, insulted by the crowds and disgraced by her family.

She traveled the region delivering the Message to those who would hear and encouraging the friends to do so as well. Wherever she would go, she would fiercely defend the truth of her newly found Faith and she gained the respect and admiration of people in all social classes. After being held as a prisoner upon returning to her home, she left to Tehran. It was around that time that something amazing occurred. The conference of Badasht where Babis got together to discuss matters concerning their new Faith happened. Táhirih, Quddus and Baha’u’llah were amongst those who attended and it was there where Táhirih, that courageous poet and hero rose and unveiled exclaimed: “The Trumpet is sounding! The great Trump is blown! The universal Advent is now proclaimed!”(Memorials of the Faithful, Pages 191-204: gr27). The response from those present was as can be expected with a mix of confusion, anger and surprise but Baha’u’llah calmly managed to restore order and peace amongst them as they read Passages from the holy Writings that spoke of this day.
She was the essence of purity and courage!!

Even the new Shah of Iran was taken by Táhirih and her eloquence. He had ordered for them to leave her alone and let her be. However, this is not what happened.
After the Bab died, some years later Táhirih sensed that the time for her to finally be in the presence of her Beloved had arrived. She dressed in a very elegant white dress, bathed and put rose water perfume on as if she were going to wed. She farewell to everyone and soon a group of guards took her to a garden -without the Shah’s knowledge. Some time before she was strangled with her scarf she, with true conviction proclaimed: “You can kill me as soon as you like, but you cannot stop the emancipation of women!”. And this is exactly what happened.

Not only an outstanding woman but a wonderful poet. You can read one of her poems here.

Shoghi Effendi, the Guardian of the Baha’i Faith referred to her as the first woman suffrage martyr (God Passes By, p. 75).


BADI – The pride of martyrs

Badi was born in Iran, in a town called Nishapur near Mashhad. His name was Áqá Buzurg-i-Nishapuri and was later given the title of Badi which translated to “the wonderful”. As a young child, he was a rebellious one which made his father (a devoted and outstanding Baha’i) worry.
When Nabil Zarandi (author of the Dawnbreakers) came to Nishapur, one day he had a conversation with Badi which changed his life forever. He talked to Badi about the sufferings and tribulations of Bahá’u’lláh using a poem Bahá’u’lláh had written, Badi started to weep. The next morning Nabil told Badi’s father that the boy had lost himself and was completely given to God.
Badi insisted on accompanying Nabil on his journey to spread the Faith of Bahá’u’lláh but his father asked him to wait until he was finished with his studies. Upon completion, Badi set off to serve the Baha’i friends as a water bearer in Mosul. After Mosul he again served as water bearer for friends after they were taken away as prisoners. Badi even though was hurt badly went ahead of the group to arrive early so he could continue to serve them.

His heart was not at ease. Suddenly he was attracted to the Mediterranean. He went to the city of Akka (Acre) in what today we know as Israel. Since he was still dressed in the humble clothes of a water bearer, he entered the city without any problems of being recognized as a Baha’i (back then the city was heavily guarded and whoever entered was seen by the guards).

Bahá’u’lláh was a prisoner in that city and Badi was blessed to meet with Him twice. During these interviews Bahá’u’lláh mentioned the Tablets He wrote to the rulers of the world of that time and the one addressed to Nasiri’din Shah of Iran. Badi humbly requested to be given the Table so he could deliver it personally to its destinatary even though he knew his life would be taken if he did so. Bahá’u’lláh agreed.

Badi traveled alone, on foot without being able to contact any of the Baha’is on his way (this was due to the risks involved in his mission) for thousands of miles for about four months! I cannot even imagine undertaking a journey of that kind! What bravery! So much love!! It is told that he would constantly stop, turn to Akka and pray for God to help him carry out his mission.

Upon arrival in Tehran, Badi went to where the Shah was on his hunting expedition. He waited on a rock for four days for the Shah and his guards to come across him. Badi was instructed that once he reached Tehran, to put on a white robe and hold the Tablet over his head so they could all see he had no weapons on him.
All these things he did and when the Shah and his train found him, the Shah requested the letter to be brought to him since he believed it was a petition from someone. Badi told him it was not a petition but a command.
Badi bravely told the Shah that His Beloved told him the Shah was going to kill him to which the Shah angrily replied: I won’t kill you so we prove your Master wrong. Immediately Badi was seized by the guards. The Shah ordered the Tablet to be sent to the clerics of Tehran for a reply to be prepared for Bahá’u’lláh. The clerics, ignoring this command suggested Badi to be executed.

For three days, Badi’s body was tortured, branded with hot irons. They wanted to get information on the Baha’is but the more they tortured Badi, the happier he looked! It was as if he knew that the time of his martyrdom was rapidly approaching. These news were taken to the Shah who after looking at a photo of Badi while being tortured ordered for him to be executed, forgetting his previous statement; and action that fulfilled Bahá’u’lláh’s promise to Badi.
After the three days, Badi’s skull was crushed with the back of a rifle and his body thrown into a pit and covered with dust and stones.
He was only seventeen years old.

After three months of this event, the Shah ordered for the Tablet to be taken to him. After reading some of it he shouted that the Tablet should be taken from him because if he read any more, himself would become a Baha’i.

Badi was a perfect example of courage, love, steadfastness and determination. His life and important mission will be remembered throughout history. Bahá’u’lláh named Badi one of his nineteen apostles and wrote: “The temple of the cause of God was adorned by Badi. His station is so exalted no pen can describe it.”

Badi with his torturers


The history of some of the Martyrs of the Baha’i Faith

In the history of the Baha’i Faith since its birth in 1844 there have been countless individuals that have arisen and joyfully given their lives for their beliefs.
In the next few posts, I will put up summaries of the lives of some of these blessed people. However, the reader must take into account that the details of the story I will write are clearly greater and victories in the course of their lives many more than I will recount. Most of my sources will be Baha’i books such as “The Dawn Breakers”, “Stories of Baha’u’llah” and several more. I will put the name of the books as needed.
Hope the readers will find these stories as uplifting and empowering as I do. You will realize the immensity of their love and devotion as you read on.
Enjoy!


July 11th – Baha’i Rights Day

So two groups (one of them, a non-Baha’i as is my understanding) after discussing about all the troubles and current trials Baha’is in Iran are going through, it was decided to make the NEW date for their trial, the formal “Baha’i Rights Day”. Therefore, today, July 11th is that day. Interesting, huh?

Now, some background on this trials going on in Iran. So basically, seven people that were the ones that would be in a national committee in Iran to kind of manage the activities, etc in that country were imprisoned last year. They were put in prison and their contact with their families was very restricted. Besides the fact that they didn’t have any reason to be put in jail, they had no legal representation because the lawyer they had (Nobel laureate Shirin Ebadi) was not allowed to represent them anymore. Now, imagine, you are in a prison cell, banned from the outside world solely based on your religious beliefs…for a whole year, without a lawyer, without any solid charged! I mean, both men and women treated as criminals only because they were Baha’is seems a bit like we are going backwards instead of being a civilization in constant progress.

They have been given trial dates a couple of times and I don’t know if it is because of all the international pressure on the government (which has been great) or the lack of arguments for their imprisonment that has not allows them to get the trial. SO supposedly today, this will happen. Because the lives of these 7 people are in danger and given that now, this day has been designated as the Baha’is Rights Day in order to make a point and create more awareness, maybe you can join this movement by saying a prayer for their protection or for real justice to be made.

I am still wondering what to do but I want to make it significant. If you do something and want to post it as a reply to this post, feel free and thank you!


The Martyrdom of The Bab

The Bab was martyred in Tabriz, Iran on the 9th of July 1850. Here is a brief recollection of the events that took place that day:

While The Bab was in his prison cell, working with His secretary, an officer suddenly interrupted the conversation to take Him to the place where the execution was to happen. “Not until I have said to him all the things that I wish to say, can any earthly power silence Me” He replied. Careless of the power of these words, the officer carried out his orders and took The Bab, along with one of His followers (Anis -who begged to be martyred with His Beloved) to the courtyard where a large crowd of people were gathered to witness the event.

Both individuals were lifted from the floor and tied to a nail on the wall. 750 armed soldiers were lined on three rows of 250 soldiers each to shoot at the couple. After the order, each row shot their rifles and a large cloud of smoke filled the atmosphere. After it had cleared away, the astonished crowd and frightened army saw Anis standing, unharmed and The Bab gone. A search for Him began, having found Him back in His cell, finishing what he had to say to His secretary. Once He was finished, he told the officers that they could carry out their orders, He was ready.

Once again, He was taken to the courtyard and a new army had to be brought in for the execution (the officer in charge refused to make his men shoot once again). This time, when the order was given, the bullets found their target and the sacred body of The Bab, as well as that one of Anis were destroyed, however, their faces remained almost intact.

Before the regiment opened fire, The Bab addressed the multitude with these Words:

“Had you believed in Me, O wayward generation, everyone of you would have followed the example of this youth, who stood in rank above most of you, and willingly would have sacrificed himself in My path. The day will come when you will have recognized Me; that day I shall ceased to be with you”.

Shrine of The Báb in Haifa, Israel

Detail of the Shrine of The Báb in Haifa, Israel


The twin Manifestations of God in the Baha’i Faith

What is that about?

Well, in the history of the Baha’i Faith, there have been two Manifestations of God that made possible the birth of this new Revelation. The One to appear first was The Bab -that literally translates to “The Gate”. He had this title because He was the “Gate” or the way to Bahá’u’lláh who was to come after Him, a few years later. Now, the closeness of their appearance in the world of humanity has never happened in the past between two Manifestations of God.

To have a better understanding, here is a VERY brief historic recollection from a book called: “The Twin Manifestations” from the Ruhi Institute:

The Báb was born on October 20th 1819 in Shiraz, Iran. He was from a noble family that gave Him the name of Siyyid ‘Ali-Muhammad. Ever since He was a child, He showed signs of innate knowledge, power and greatness. The evening of the 23rd of May 1844, He declared that He was the Promised One when He was only 25 years old. Soon after, as His fame and followers increased numerously, the opposition of the clergy and the government were clearly visible. The Báb endured 6 years of constant persecution, banishment and cruelty that lead to His martyrdom only 6 years after His Declaration -exactly 59 years ago on July 9th 1850 (details of His Martyrdom will appear on my next post). The Báb’s mission was to prepare the people for the coming of “Him Whom God shall make manifest”. Among those blessed souls that recognized His position during His life was Bahá’u’lláh.

Bahá’u’lláh was born in Tehran, Iran the 12th of November 1817. His Name was Mirzá Husayn-‘Ali. Like The Báb, He was also born into a noble and very wealthy family. From His childhood, He showed signs of greatness and wisdom. He did not pay attention to the luxury and comfort He was born into but dedicated His time defending the poor and helping the needy. When The Báb declared, He was 27 years old and three months later He sent The Báb a scroll in which Bahá’u’lláh recognized His Station. As the rest of the followers of The Báb, Bahá’u’lláh endured suffering and persecution in the hands of the opposition of this new Faith that was spreading throughout the region like wildfire.

After the martyrdom of The Báb in Tabriz, Iran, the attacks on the Babis increased looking to exterminate this new religion. Bahá’u’lláh was amongst those that remained steadfast and taught this Faith fiercely. He was a prisoner for 40 years of His Blessed life and was exiled many times. However, it was not all gloomy and sadness for the Babis. During one of His exiles (from Baghdad to Istanbul) and after receiving the revelation from God, Bahá’u’lláh announced in April 1863 that He was the One, the Promised One of all ages! (Baha’is in the world celebrate this Most Great Festival for 12 days from the 21 of April to the 2 of May). Bahá’u’lláh wrote to the kings and rulers of the world during that time, proclaiming to rejoice on that blessed day where a new Messenger of God had come.

Bahá’u’lláh after years and years of imprisonment, cruelty and false accusations left this mortal world near the city of Akka (where he was last exiled to) on the 29th of May 1892.

The Báb, as well as Bahá’u’lláh wrote hundreds of Tablets, prayers and Books. A prayer revealed by The Báb that is very close to my heart is this:

“Is there any Remover of difficulties save God? Say: Praised be God! He is God! All are His servants and all abide by His bidding!”.


Why do we need a new Divine Messenger?

This questions went through my mind as I was discussing some spiritual matters with a group of friends. The Baha’i Faith is not a sect of any of the major religions of the world but it is an independent religion with its new Messenger or Prophet of God. This was the reason to ask the question of why do we need a new Messenger? Haven’t we had enough already?

So…after talking for several minutes, I realized that ever since the beginning of humanity, we have needed God’s guidance. Now, I can just start to imagine what this means…for instance, when we were cave people, our knowledge of what was good or bad came from what was good or harmful to our bodies and what cause pain and what didn’t. That was just practical knowledge based on experience. Now, we needed more than that. Disputes and fights over food, shelter, power, etc must have been common and we needed guidance later on when we were more advanced from someone enlightened who could tell us how to behave in a way that everyone was happy. And THAT kind of knowledge had to be learned from a source. Now, as we have evolved and our knowledge of the world and God, as well of religion evolves along with our capacity of understanding, our needs change and our power of questioning also changes and evolves. See, if Jesus Christ had told his people that the whole world is one and that all men from all parts of the world are the same, we wouldn’t have understood!! Jesus clearly knew all this and wanted to tell us but in His infinite mercy he told us only what we could bear to hear and saved the rest for when we were ready.

Mohammad, he came in a time when boundaries extended from tribes and cities to countries. He told us to love our countrymen. That what was we knew existed and what we could understand. And today, in this age where borders are shrinking, technology is in a stage of unprecedented history, and humankind is realizing that the current world order of things is not fit but faulty, we understand that WE NEED NEW GUIDANCE!

The Baha’i Faith explains the oneness of all the Divine Messengers of God as derived from ONE SOURCE: God. They all praise each other and speak of the next that is to come. The Messenger of God for today is Baha’u’llah. He also spoke highly of all Messengers that came before Him and foretold the coming of another in the next hundreds of years.

So…to me, the answer to the question of why? was simple: to save us from our own ignorance and to guide us towards that which can make humankind a civilization in continuous progress.