Category Archives Interviews

South-southwest of Pago-Pago: A Bible Lover’s Guide to the Baha’i Faith

Bill Hyman is a dedicated Baha’i who has been serving his community in American Samoa for decades. He has been tirelessly promoting the teachings of the Baha’i Faith in all avenues of the media and most recently this includes the release of a book that combines his profound love for the Bible and some personal anecdotes. The book is cleverly titled South-southwest of Pago-Pago: A Bible Lover’s Guide to the Baha’i Faith and Bill graciously agreed to tell us about it. Here’s our conversation:

Baha’i Blog: Can you tell us a little about yourself?

I was born in London, England in 1938, and left, at the age of 18, to work overseas for Cable and Wireless Ltd, a communications company, serving in Barbados, Brazil, Trinidad, Jamaica and Belize. I emigrated from Jamaica to Canada and first heard of the Baha’i Faith when serving in Hawaii for a Canadian communications company. I already believed in the Baha’i principles so I was not particularly impressed. My teacher was a converted Methodist minister. I had the view that if this prophet was as important as my teacher was trying to tell me He was, I would have heard about Him long ago. My first wedding was in Hawaii at the Honolulu Baha’i Center though neither my wife nor I were Baha’is at the time. We wanted a religious ceremony and considered ourselves more Baha’i than anything else. I took my bride back to Canada but the marriage did not last long and the resulting trauma made me look back at the Faith again. I needed a stable platform. After more firesides and study I decided to become a Baha’i, partially to check it out from the inside. Both my first wife and I became Baha’is after our divorce, and our second spouses were Baha’is.

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Biography of Hand of the Cause of God, Mr. Ali-Akbar Furutan

Iran Furutan Muhajir has written a biography of her beloved father Hand of the Cause of God Ali-Akbar Furutan. The US Baha’i Publishing Trust writes that to read this book, “is to read the story of the Baha’i Faith in the twentieth century and to catch a glimpse of a man who devoted himself wholly and selflessly to the service of humanity.” From his years as a youth and secretary of the first National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’is of Iran, to the loving manner in which he served as a Hand of the Cause, this book “is not merely the definitive biography of a beloved figure but a gift to the Baha’is of the world.”

It is our esteemed pleasure to share with you what Iran Furutan Muhajir told us about this book, titled Hand of the Cause of God Furutan.

Here’s our conversation:

Baha’i Blog: Can you tell us a little bit about the book and why you decided to write it?

My father, Hand of the Cause of God Mr Furutan, was reluctant to write anything about himself. Years ago he had written a short version of his biography called Hikayate Del, The Story of My Heart, which was translated into English from Farsi. However it did not reflect the vast scope of his service in Iran while serving for more than twenty years as the Secretary of the National Spiritual Assembly from the first day of its inception. For years I asked him to write a little more about his life. After his passing to the Abha Kingdom, I found a seventy page note book in his handwriting in Farsi about some of his events of his life. He had put a note on it that it should go to me after his passing and had given me permission to do what I wanted with it. It took me about three years to research about his life of service and then I sat to write his biography and translated and included his memoirs in it.

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Gate of Heaven: An Album Dedicated to the Bicentenary of the Birth of the Bab by Luke Slott

Over the last two years, Baha’is and their friends around the world have been celebrating two landmark occasions: firstly, the bicentenary anniversary of the Birth of Baha’u’llah in 2017, and now in 2019, the bicentenary anniversary of the Birth of the Bab. In relation to these two special anniversaries, the Universal House of Justice wrote that “At the heart of these festivities must be a concerted effort to convey a sense of what it means for humanity that these two Luminaries rose successively above the horizon of the world. Of course, this will take different forms in different contexts, extending to a myriad artistic and cultural expressions, including songs, audio-visual presentations, publications and books.”

Over the course of these two special years, we witnessed a wonderful response of artistic expression from around the world. One of the efforts came from singer-songwriter, Luke Slott, who decided early on to honor these two special occasions by releasing two albums: the first is called Year of the Nightingale, to honor Baha’u’llah, and the second and more recent album is called Gate of Heaven, to honor the Bab. Continue reading

Rise Then: A New Album by David Khavari

A couple of years ago while I was living in San Francisco, USA, I would occasionally attend a devotional gathering at a friend’s house, and at the very first one I attended, I met a wonderful young Baha’i named David, who would bring his guitar and sing beautiful songs based on the Baha’i Writings.

Just before I left San Francisco, we organized some Baha’i Blog Studio Sessions there, and David came and recorded two songs (which I’ve included at the bottom of this article). After the recordings, he said he wanted to record an album, and so now, in honor of the bicentenary of the Birth of the Bab, I was excited to learn that David did just that, and released a new album called Rise Then.

I got in touch with David to find out more about his music and the album, and here’s what he had to say: Continue reading

The Martyrdom of the Bab: An Oratorio by Keivan Towfigh

As Baha’is and their friends begin to celebrate the bicentenary of the birth of the Bab, artistic expressions in all sorts of media are emerging that testify to the connection between people’s hearts and the Bab, Prophet-herald of the Baha’i Faith. Keivan Towfigh’s oratorio, The Martyrdom of the Bab, is one such example in a style we don’t often see or feature here on Baha’i Blog. What’s an “oratorio” you ask? An oratorio is a large-scale musical work for orchestra and voices, like Handel’s Messiah. It usually tells a religious story and is performed without costumes or staging.

I was curious to hear all about this special oratorio and how it came into being, so I connected with Keivan Towfigh to find out more: Continue reading

Celebration – An Album for the Twin Bicentenary Celebrations of the Births of Baha’u’llah and the Bab

A spirit of loving collaboration really shines through the music on Celebration, an album in honor of the bicentenary anniversaries of the Births of Baha’u’llah and the Bab, Founders of the Baha’i Faith. Its 16 original tracks beautifully marry multicultural rhythms and sounds with extracts from the Baha’i Writings. The album was put together by a group of friends in Quebec, Canada, and I was able to ask Pierre Tremblay how it all came together. Here’s what he shared with me:  Continue reading

Mulla Husayn: A Book for Young Children by Alhan Rahimi

Alhan Rahimi is a lovely young mother who saw a need and filled it. She has recently written a book called Mulla Husayn: The Story of the Declaration of the Bab for Young Children. The colorful book includes soft illustrations and thoughtful text. I found myself sitting next to Alhan at this year’s ABS conference and it was wonderful to meet her. Here is what she shared about her book:

Baha’i Blog: Can you tell us a little about yourself?

My name is Alhan Rahimi. I’m a Baha’i mother of two young girls (ages three and one). I also work as a medical Arabic interpreter and live in Ontario, Canada.

Baha’i Blog: What inspired you to write this book?

My children were my inspiration. I wanted my 3-year-old to have a better understanding of the Declaration of the Bab celebration. I actually want them both to have a good understanding of all the Baha’i Holy Days!

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Coronation on Carmel by Michael V. Day: The Second Book in a Trilogy About the Shrine of the Bab

Coronation on Carmel by Michael V. Day is the second book in a trilogy that tells the story of the Shrine of the Bab, the resting place of the Bab, a Messenger of God whose revitalizing message prepared the way for the coming of Baha’u’llah, the Founder of the Baha’i Faith.

Michael’s skills and talents as a journalist and his deep love for Baha’i history make for an exciting read. I was delighted to hear from Michael about his book, the process of putting it together, and its uniqueness in the trilogy. Here’s what Michael shared with me:

Baha’i Blog: So good to talk to you about this second book in the trilogy, Michael! Can you tell us a little bit about the book?

Coronation on Carmel is the second book in the trilogy I wrote to tell the story of the Shrine of the Bab. It starts just after where Journey to a Mountain finished. It covers the period 1922 to 1963, the time when Shoghi Effendi took on and fulfilled the responsibility given to him by the Abdu’l-Baha to complete the Shrine of the Bab.
The book traces the drama from start to finish. First, it lists the problems in the early years and then shows how by drawing on spiritual resources and through careful planning and attention to practicalities, Shoghi Effendi engaged the brilliant architect, William Sutherland Maxwell, motivated the Baha’is to donate the funds, and with an acute sense of timing, achieved his goal.

The book details the design of the arcade and superstructure, and how it was built. There are lots of descriptions of events in and near the Shrine.

The story is set against the background of the economic depression, communal conflict in the Holy Land, the anxious times of World War 2, and the establishment of the State of Israel.

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With Oars and Compass – A Novel by Hamed Javaheri About Life’s Purpose

With Oars and Compass is a book I wish I had read many years ago. Written by Hamed Javaheri, it frames an exploration of the meaning and purpose of life in a narrative that is philosophical, romantic, and mysterious. We meet Jane Luwi Flynn and get to eavesdrop on the meaningful conversations she has with her friends, her growing friendship and attraction to Xavier, and her recurring dreams. The story pulls the reader along and the conversations among its characters make you pause and think. Compelling, informative, engaging, light-hearted, humorous and thought-provoking, With Oars and Compass would have been a book that I read cover to cover as a teenager and young adult when I was asking myself the same questions Jane asks. But really, it’s a novel for anyone and anytime.

Hamed graciously agreed to share what inspired him to write the novel. Here is our conversation:

Baha’i Blog: Can you tell us a little about yourself?

I was born and raised in Zambia, Southern Africa, and have lived here for most of my life, with the exception of a brief period in Montreal, Canada, where I pursued my university education. My wife and I married when we were young, and we have three children—the first of which is about to venture off for his year of service before he enters university.

As a Baha’i, I am privileged to witness the impact of the Teachings on the human mind—and on youth in particular—as they come to recognize the potential they have to contribute to the wellbeing of their communities, and to the betterment of the world.

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Daystar – A New Album by Ali Youssefi

My dear friend, Ali Youssefi. has warmed a lot of hearts with his music over the years. One of his most memorable works for me, as I’m sure it is for so many others, is his montage video of 50 voices from around the world singing “Unite”.

Among his many other musical contributions, Ali also played a critical role in helping record our Baha’i Blog Studio Sessions in Belgrade, Serbia (where he was living at the time), and of which he also sang two songs called “Jedinstvo (Unity)” in Serbian, and “Oh Mi Siervo (O My Servant)” in Spanish.

Ali’s soothing voice, his ability to collaborate with others, and his skills as a musician make it exciting when he creates anything new, so I was delighted to hear that he has released an album called Daystar.

I caught up with Ali to find out more about his new album and how it all came together. I hope you enjoy our conversation! Continue reading