I do not remember when I first heard the story of the life of Tahirih but once I learned it, I couldn’t forget it. Susan Hansen has created a book for children called From Behind All the Veils that introduces who Tahirih was, her remarkable qualities, and her esteemed place not only in Baha’i history, but in the advancement of all humankind. Susan graciously agreed to tell us about her book:
Baha’i Blog: Can you tell us a little about yourself?
I am a teacher of multi-lingual students at an elementary school in Texas. I am also the mother of four adult children. I was born in Iran to a Baha’i family. My ancestors on my mother and father’s side were early Babis who later became Baha’is. So I have personal connections to the stories of The Dawn-Breakers. I also lived in Venezuela as a Baha’i pioneer for twelve years and was constantly inspired by the depth of Faith and sacrifice of those who had responded on their own to the Message of Baha’u’llah.
Baha’i Blog: Can you tell us a little about your book and what inspired you to write it?
From Behind All the Veils: The Story of Tahirih is a book for children. It introduces the person of Tahirih as a rebel girl who crossed many boundaries to champion the cause of women’s emancipation. It especially focuses on the part of her life when she becomes one of the first few and the only woman to recognize the Bab and His Message. I grew up with this story, told to me by my parents who saw potential in me and cultivated my talents because I was a girl. I hope I have been able to show that a century and a half ago, without contact with the Western world, there was a woman who knew what was being done in the name of religion was not just and had to change. I also wanted to contribute in some way to the celebrations of the bicentenary of the Birth of the Bab and I am so grateful that George Ronald Publishers agreed to publish it in time for these celebrations.
Baha’i Blog: What’s something that you learned while writing this particular book?
Three summers ago, I was taking a writing course and chose Tahirih as the topic of a children’s biography book. I tried to write her story for an audience that may not be familiar with the Baha’i Faith, Iran or the time period when she lived. I was very encouraged by the response of my fellow writers and realized that Tahirih’s story symbolizes the universality of the human need for justice. In the course of my research I learned that during the summer of 1848, when Tahirih was breaking the rules by taking off her veil in Iran, a group of women and some men were gathered in Seneca Falls, New York to demand the right to vote for women in America.
Baha’i Blog: Who is your target audience?
I wrote the book to introduce the person of Tahirih and the impact of her faith in the Bab to all audiences. It is especially for children ages 8 and up of all faiths and backgrounds.
Baha’i Blog: What do you hope readers will take away with them, long after they’ve read the last page?
I hope the book will inspire curiosity to know more about the person of Tahirih and more importantly about the Message of the Faith that motivated her.
Baha’i Blog: Thank you so much, Susan!
If you’d like, you can purchase a copy of From Behind All the Veils: The Story of Tahirih here on Amazon.
If you’d like to know more about Tahirih, you might enjoy these resources found on Baha’i Blog:
- Tahirih – The Force of a Pure Heart (article)
- Badie Khaleghian’s Piano Solo: ‘Tahirih: The Pure’ (music)
- ‘The Calling’: A New Book About Tahirih (author interview)
- The Woman Who Read Too Much: A Book About the Life of Tahirih (author interview)
- Baha’is of Ireland Bicentenary Video 15 of 19: The Time Was Then, The Time Is Now… (video)