Iran’s attack on Bahá’í educators has also struck a strong chord with me for a number of reasons.
The BIHE is an online university and it was established in 1987 for Bahá’ís in Iran. Bahá’ís in Iran have repeatedly been denied access to a higher education ever since the 1979 Iranian Revolution. A leaked confidential Iran memo in 2006 (from Iran’s Ministry of Science, Research and Technology) exposes a government-level policy to deny Bahá’í students university education.
I’m a Bahá’í, and I’ve had the opportunity to go to university, graduate, and now specialise in adult education – but hey, I don’t live in Iran. To be honest, I never thought going to university was such a big deal. I just saw it as a natural continuation from my schooling years. My only source of stress during my university years was waiting to see if my marks were good enough to get into the course of my choice, as well as some of the last minute study cramming I used to do for my exams. In fact, my years at university were some of the best years of my life, so far! This is why I find it confusing and unthinkable that Bahá’í students in Iran are repeatedly denied the opportunity to pursue a further education, and even be arrested for trying!
More than 40 years ago, the world’s nations, speaking through the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, asserted that “everyone has a right to education”.
There are some amazing quotes from the Bahá’í Writings on education and its importance in achieving material and spiritual progress. What I love about the Bahá’í teachings is that it exalts the concept of knowledge and promotes free inquiry and self-reflected learning. The Bahá’í teachings talk of the importance of creating a career for yourself and striving towards perfecting your skills. I’m sure you would have also heard the common phrase ‘work is worship’.
Bahá’u’lláh so eloquently professes that acquiring knowledge and expertise will promote human prosperity – long before the Universal Declaration of Human Rights even came into existence! Two of my favourite quotes about education are from the pen of Bahá’u’lláh:
Arts, crafts and sciences uplift the world of being and are conductive to this exaltation. Knowledge is as wings to a man’s life, and a ladder for his ascent. It’s acquisition is incumbent upon everyone. Bahá’u’lláh – Epistle to the Son of the Wolf
Regard man as a mine rich in gems of estimable value. Education can, alone, cause it to reveal its treasures, and enable mankind to benefit therefrom. Bahá’u’lláh- Gleanings from The Writings of Bahá’u’lláh
Every human being in this world has a right to grow their ‘wings’ and reveal their ‘treasures’ to one another.
There is currently a campaign underway which has been going viral. It advocates for the right of young Bahá’ís in Iran to an education, but it’s not a Bahá’í campaign. It’s been organised by a group of young people of different nationalities and religious backgrounds who believe that everyone has the right to an education. If this is something you agree with and you want to get involved, you can voice your support by checking out their website: www.can-you-solve-this.org
Check out their video too!