Naw Ruz marks the end of the Fast and the beginning of a new year in the Baha’i calendar. Naw-Ruz is a celebration of a “spiritual springtime” that symbolizes both individual renewal and mankind’s revitalization.
Hello and welcome to the Baha’i Blogcast with me your host, Rainn Wilson.
In this series of podcasts I interview members of the Baha’i Faith and friends from all over the world about their hearts, and minds, and souls, their spiritual journeys, what they’re interested in, and what makes them tick.
In this episode I speak with Nader Saiedi, Taslimi Foundation Professor of Baha’i Studies in the department of Near Eastern Languages and Cultures at University of California. Born in Tehran, Iran, and having lived in the US since 1978, professor Saiedi tells me about his personal journey from being a staunch Marxist to becoming a Baha’i, and how he was humbled by the sacred Baha’i Writings and moved by the steadfastness of the Baha’is being persecuted in Iran. Among other things, we talk about slavery, historical consciousness, and the thousands of untranslated and unpublished tablets by the Bab and Baha’u’llah he’s been studying recently. Hope you enjoy the conversation!
To find out more about Nader Saiedi and some of the things we covered in this podcast, check out the following links:
* You can find out more about Dr. Nader Saiedi here.
* In the interview I mention the following excerpt from the Writings of Baha’u’llah: “O SON OF DUST! Verily I say unto thee: Of all men the most negligent is he that disputeth idly and seeketh to advance himself over his brother. Say, O brethren! Let deeds, not words, be your adorning.”
* Nader mentions an excerpt from the following quote taken from the book Epistle to the Son of the Wolf by Baha’u’llah: “Verily, We shall render Thee victorious by Thyself and by Thy Pen. Grieve Thou not for that which hath befallen Thee, neither be Thou afraid, for Thou art in safety. Erelong will God raise up the treasures of the earth—men who will aid Thee through Thyself and through Thy Name, wherewith God hath revived the hearts of such as have recognized Him.”
Naysan is passionate about using the arts and media to explore the teachings of the Baha’i Faith. Back in 2011, Naysan started up the Baha’i Blog project, channeling his experiences in both media and technology companies to help create a hub for Baha’i-inspired content online.
I just received a gold and silver medal from the Florida Authors and Publishers Association for two Baha’i-inspired genre fiction novels, part of a trilogy that addresses racism and other social issues in an epic fantasy setting. What has that to do with Dr Saiedi, you might ask. Well, a lecture he gave on peace was the inspiration for the backdrop of the stories. From the Acknowledgments page of the novel “Ansgar: The Struggle of a People. The Triumph of the Heart.” (Part I of the Windflower Saga trilogy by Aleksandra Layland):
“The main characters and general storyline of The Windflower Saga trilogy, particularly the characters of Leofric and Keridwen in Part II, Of Wisdom and Valor, first came to me in vivid dreams back in the 1970s when I was in my twenties. I started writing the story on paper several times but never got beyond a few pages. Around the year 2010, after I retired from federal civil service, the characters slowly reentered my dreams but I was still missing a key piece. What would be the backdrop against which the characters acted out their drama?
In the summer of 2012 I attended a short course at the historic Greenacre Baha’i School in Eliot, Maine presented by Dr. Nader Saiedi. The course was titled “Peace as Humanization.” As Dr. Saiedi developed this theme he touched in part on many aspects of historic peace processes. One of the documents we studied was the 1 October 1985 statement issued by the Universal House of Justice titled The Promise of World Peace (Baha’i International Community, https://www.bic.org), which noted that “prejudice, war and exploitation have been the expression of immature stages in a vast historical process,” but that these are a distortion of our human spirit. Suddenly I saw the backdrop for my story unfolding before my eyes. I was then almost sixty years old.”
It may seem very strange to combine fantasy, adventure, and romance in genre fiction books that also contain a few quotes from various world faiths and address social issues like racism, the colonial impacts on indigenous people, the preservation of indigenous cultures, and the roles of education and women in uplifting society, but what can I say? I never wrote an epic fantasy trilogy before and don’t ever expect to write another, not when I type with two fingers, but it came to me and so there it is. And I will always be grateful that I was inspired to attend Dr Saiedi’s course.
Kimberlee J Benart (August 8, 2017 at 3:16 AM)
A very inspiring personal story, including a loving reminder of how lucky I am to live where folks don’t care what religion I follow. Thank you.
Aleta Akhtar (August 8, 2017 at 2:18 PM)
Very confirming interview. Thanks so much to both of you! And I look forward to your upcoming discussion of the Writings of the Báb.
Keith J. Taylor (February 2, 2019 at 10:37 AM)
Grateful to receive the bounty of hearing the background of Dr. Saiedi life. Hopefully a discussion about the Life of the Bab can happen as well. Amazing to have history recorded to ponder and study.
Shay W Cooper (March 3, 2020 at 12:54 AM)