Category Archives Interviews

I Love My Name: A Children’s Book about the Life of Tahirih

Author Linda Ahdieh Grant and illustrator Anna Myers have teamed up to create a moving children’s story about courage and the life of Tahirih. Titled I Love My Name and published by Bellwood Press, this book is aimed at elementary school aged children. I was able to hear from both Linda and Anna about their work, this book, and how they hope it will inspire its readers. Here’s a look at our conversation:

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

I Love My Name is the story of an 8 year old girl who one day at school discovers a previously unknown source of courage. This girl’s name is Tahirih and she loves her name very much. One day, she overhears her friends making fun of her name. This saddens her and she turns to her teacher. The teacher, instead of using his own words to cheer her up, shares the story of the heroine after whom she was named.
Continue reading

The Badi Collection: New Baha’i-inspired Planners based on the Badi Calendar

A couple of months ago, two young Baha’is based in Melbourne, Australia named Tanisha and Tina, set out to design a planner like no other. They wanted Baha’is to have access to a planner based on the Baha’i calendar (known as the Badi calendar) on a daily basis, so this month, they’ve launched their own brand called ‘Fire & Gold‘, with the 2021 Badi Collection of planners being their very first product.

I got in touch with Tanisha and Tina to find out more about Fire and Gold, and particularly about their Badi planners: Continue reading

Breaking the Chains: New Animation About Historical Role Baha’is Played in Bringing Education to Girls in 1900s Iran

We’re excited to share a new animation called ‘Breaking the Chains: The Story of the Girls School in Iran‘, an animated short film which tells the historical role Baha’is played in bringing education to girls in Iran in the early 1900s. The animation explains how in the early 1900s, only 5% of the population of Iran had access to basic writing skills, and knowledge of the sciences were kept exclusively to men. Breaking this cycle of oppression was no small feat, and that’s when Tahirih and Abdu’l-Baha come into the story.

The animation is in both English and Persian/Farsi, and it was made by my dear Brazilian-Persian friend, Director and Producer Flavio Azm Rassekh, in collaboration with PersianBMS.

I caught up with Flavio to find out more about it, and here’s what he shared: Continue reading

Illuminations – A Book of Poetry by June Perkins

In The Dawn-Breakers, the Bab quotes a well-known Islamic tradition that states, “Treasures lie hidden beneath the throne of God; the key to those treasures is the tongue of poets.” June Perkins’ book of poems, Illuminations, written in honor of the bicentenary anniversaries of the Births of Baha’u’llah and the Bab, seems to meet that description.

Illuminations contains 19 poems, one story, and is accompanied by the art of Ruha and Minaira Fifita. Some of the poems harken back to the days of The Dawn-Breakers and others are timeless in their setting but as a collection, June has deftly sewn them all together: each poem is a jewel, the collection is a well-arranged piece of jewelry.

June tells us all about her book in this interview and we hope you enjoy our conversation:

Baha’i Blog: Could you please tell us a little bit about yourself and your work as a poet?

Poetry has been a lifelong friend, through thick and thin, from my youngest brother’s acquired head injury to living through Cyclone Yasi and its aftermath and encountering the trials and joys of life.

I think of poets as canaries flying into the darkness of human experience to emerge with balls of light. Poetry, as well as being a way to make meaning of experiences, is a powerful way to pay tribute to all we might be grateful in our lives, from people to places, to a sense of the Divine, or a Great Spirit, we may call God. Continue reading

Radiant Heart – An Album by Shidan and Shadi Toloui-Wallace

A blending of cultures and a meeting point of generations is what makes Radiant Heart a special album, even before you begin listening to it. Mother-daughter duo Shidan and Shadi Toloui-Wallace, have created an album with songs in English, Persian (Farsi) and Arabic. Their respective voices, languages and the cultural heritage they draw upon complements each other magnificently.

It’s been a while since we heard from Shidan or Shadi. You may remember Shidan from our interview with her about her album Phoenix of Love, which you can read here. And we last heard from Shadi when she was a guest on our podcast, which you can check out here: Baha’i Blogcast with Rainn Wilson – Episode 27: Shadi Toloui-Wallace

So with the release of this new and unique album, we thought it was time to hear from both of them again, and here’s what they shared with us: Continue reading

Eagles in the Dust: Alcohol and Other Chemical Pastimes – A Book by Robert Cacchioni

I live in a culture very much steeped in alcohol where my choice to not drink or do drugs isn’t the norm and invites a lot of questions. We have a two articles on Baha’i Blog that talk about alcohol (this article explores a social perspective behind why Baha’is don’t drink, and this article explores a health perspective). George Ronald has published a new book that covers this topic more broadly and in more depth: it’s called Eagles in the Dust: Alcohol and Other Chemical Pastimes and it’s by Robert (Rob) Cacchioni. In this interview he tells us a little about his book:

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

I encountered the Baha’i Faith 20 years ago. As a student of comparative religion, I found its claims bold and intriguing – though questionable. After in-depth study and much debate, I was honored to join the Baha’i community in carrying out Baha’u’llah’s Vision for humanity.

Since embracing Baha’u’llah’s Claim, I’ve striven to understand His Faith and aid others to do likewise. For nearly two decades, I’ve held Baha’i study classes (also known as “deepenings”) and currently run a YouTube channel: Bridging Beliefs. There and in writing projects, I share my personal understandings of Baha’u’llah’s Vision, attempt to resolve purported divides separating the world religions, examine atheist and secular thought and to show the (at times) hidden brilliance of Baha’u’llah’s Teachings.

I currently live in Vancouver, Canada with my wife Jenny and two children, Eli and Layli. I am a lover of learning and the arts – martial and musical. My life’s goal is to (one day) become worthy of the title: Baha’i. Continue reading

From Behind All the Veils: A Children’s Book About Tahirih by Susan Hansen

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.

Continue reading

4 Devotional Compilations for Mothers, Fathers, Couples & Families by Wendi Momen

Wendi Momen has compiled four devotional books perfect for couples, mothers, fathers and families. These small paperbacks with watercolor floral covers contain sacred writings, poetry and prose on universal themes. George Ronald Publishers reissued Family Worship, To be a Mother and To be a Father and released, for the first time,To Be Married.

I will shamelessly admit that I judge books by their covers and these four make a beautiful and enchanting set before you even open them for meaningful study and worship. I was eager to find out more about them and Wendi lovingly obliged. Here’s our conversation: Continue reading

Jungle of Virtues: A Book by Chelsea Lee Smith & Constanze von Kitzing

When I heard that Chelsea Lee Smith and Constanze von Kitzing had teamed up to create a board book for young children, called Jungle of Virtues, my heart sang! Sang, sang and sang some more! There are so few Baha’i-inspired materials for this age range, and Chelsea and Constanze are super talented. Among many of their other individual accomplishments, I interviewed Chelsea about her book, Garden of Virtues, and I chatted with Constanze about her illustrations for children’s prayer books. I am so delighted they have partnered to created this book and am also excited that they shared some behind-the-scenes information with me. Here’s our conversation:

Baha’i Blog: What inspired this book?

When I became a parent, I really wanted storybooks that would teach my children (and remind myself!) about the importance of practicing virtues each day. So in the past few years I have written several books for older children to share analogies about what virtues are. The first is called Mason’s Greatest Gems which was a collaboration with Elaheh Bos that shows how we each can find virtues inside us similar to mining gems. The second book is called Garden of Virtues which was illustrated by Shimone Mackie, and which uses the analogy of growing plants in a garden to share the idea of “growing” virtues in ourselves through practice. These books have been used in homes, schools and Baha’i children’s classes all around the world which has been awesome! But I really wanted to create a similarly virtues focused book which was appropriate for younger kids. I love rhyming books, and one day I began playing around with the idea of different animals showing virtues. From there I completed the poem which was the first draft of Jungle of Virtues and it sat mostly idle on my laptop for a few years before I came into contact with Constanze, who was the driving force behind getting it published.

Continue reading

In Pursuit of Hope: A Book by Arthur Lyon Dahl

Arthur Dahl is an ecologist whose latest book offers a powerful message: you can make a difference, contributing to change within your own life, the lives of those around you, and the planet as a whole. In Pursuit of Hope: A Guide for the Seeker shares a metaphorical journey to find a more purposeful life amidst the environmental, social, economic and spiritual challenges of the 21st century.

I reached out to Arthur and was delighted when he agreed to tell us about his new book, what motivated him to write it, and what you’ll find between its pages. Here’s our conversation:

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

As a Baha’i, I chose to study science because of the harmony of science and religion, and picked ecology as my specialty to understand how unity in diversity worked in nature, with coral reef ecosystems as my major focus. Originally from California, I always wanted to be a Baha’i pioneer, and have now lived and worked in the Pacific Islands (New Caledonia), Africa (Kenya) and Europe (France and Switzerland) while travelling and teaching in many other countries. Professionally, I have been a research scientist and an environmental advisor to governments and international organizations, including as a senior official of the United Nations Environment Programme. I founded the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme, helped to write Agenda 21, the action plan from the 1992 Rio Earth Summit, and coordinated the UN System-wide Earthwatch. I have collaborated closely with the Baha’i International Community, and helped to found a Baha’i-inspired organization for environment and sustainability, the International Environment Forum (iefworld.org), now with over 400 members in 76 countries. Other books I have written include Unless and Until: A Baha’i Focus on the Environment, and The Eco Principle: Ecology and Economics in Symbiosis. My most recent project is working with other Baha’is on proposals to reform global governance, with another book in press: Global Governance and the Emergence of Global Institutions for the 21st Century.

Continue reading