Category Archives Opinion

Opinions, thoughts and ideas

Normalizing Menstruation Promotes Equality. Period.

When I was eleven, my period leaked for the first time in my sixth-grade class. It was my second period ever, and while age and experience has now confirmed what my mother said to me the day it happened (“Every single woman in the world has leaked”) I was mortified to the point of being momentarily traumatized; boys bullied me for weeks about it, and I exerted all my efforts into avoiding the memory of it. From then on, when I had my period, nothing was more important to me than making sure I didn’t leak. All my thoughts, anxieties, and concerns through the day on those dreaded moments of a month revolved around how many pads or tampons I had in my bag, and how many opportunities I would have to go to the bathroom.

It wasn’t long before I realized this was a concern all my girlfriends shared, and we spent our days in middle and high school clandestinely passing each other pads and tampons in brown bags, so no one would see, and through the sleeves of each other’s shirts like we were exchanging contraband instead of products crucial to our health and well-being. We didn’t talk about our periods above whispers and used euphemisms like “our friend from down South” if we had to talk publicly or loudly. Characters in TV shows didn’t have or refer to their periods; no one in movies seemed affected. Pop stars and models were beautiful all the time and never caved over in cramps, migraines, or nausea, so we put smiles on our faces, saved the complaining for each other when we were home in our pajamas and watching TV, accepting the silence and secrecy as givens and normalcy for menstruating women.

I’d always been passionate about my faith and spirituality, I often talked about the Baha’i Faith’s advocacy for women’s rights, but I never saw how my humiliation or secrecy regarding my period had anything to do with the principle of gender equality. Sometime in my teenage years, I was reading my own copy of the Kitab-i-Aqdas (The Most Holy Book) that my Baha’i school teacher had given me. I came across the passage:  Continue reading

Drawing Closer to the Bab in the Bicentenary Year of His Birth: Some Personal Thoughts

I was speaking recently with a cute five-year old, and our conversation turned from the TV show Paw Patrol to the bicentenary of the Birth of the Bab. I asked him his thoughts on how we could celebrate the 200th anniversary of the Birth of the Bab, and he said: “We should make a nice card for His birthday and tell Him that He is the best Bab we have ever had!”

Aside from being amusing, from the perspective of the theology of the Islamic Dispensation, I thought he was kind of right; from what I’ve learned there actually have been several “babs”, or “gates” (in Shiite Islam it is believed that several historical figures called “gates” acted as intermediaries to the Promised One). So, in this special year, how can we draw closer to the Bab who was the “King of the Messengers”, “the Primal Point round Whom the realities of all the Prophets circle in adoration”, the “Founder of the Dispensation marking the culmination of the six thousand year old Adamic Cycle, Inaugurator of the five thousand century Baha’i Cycle”, “The Primal Point from which have been generated all created things”? Continue reading

Uniting the World, Two Hearts at a Time

“Each sees in the other the Beauty of God reflected in the soul, and finding this point of similarity, they are attracted to one another in love. This love will make all men the waves of one sea, this love will make them all the stars of one heaven and the fruits of one tree. This love will bring the realization of true accord, the foundation of real unity.” -Abdu’l-Baha

In 1904, Florence Breed and Ali-Kuli Khan married in Boston. Breed was American and Khan was Iranian; their union symbolized East and West uniting in the Baha’i Faith. When Abdu’l-Baha visited the US in 1912, the Khans hosted a luncheon for Him in Washington, D.C. There, Abdu’l-Baha defied social convention by giving Louis Gregory, an African-American Baha’i, the seat of honor.  Continue reading

4 Things I Am Learning About the Covenant and Families

There are many terms in the Baha’i Faith’s Teachings that are easy to read but often difficult to understand and that require life-long study and deepening. One of them is the Covenant, in this case, the Lesser Covenant (if you’d like to know more about the Greater and Lesser Covenants, you can read about them here). In its essence, it’s a mutual promise between Baha’u’llah and anyone who believes He’s brought a new message from God and strives to uphold His Teachings.  Continue reading

Living to Do Good – A Personal Reflection

Recently my whole life has been turned around. Correction: I have turned my whole life around. Correction: I have let God guide my life in a better direction.

Just the way you phrase it changes the entire narrative. My ego can be very loud. It wants to boss me around. I feel like I have to be constantly vigilant — tweaking that inner voice, writing my true narrative. How I tell my story is powerful. It’s how I perceive my life. Where I start, what motivates me, what my goal is.

But when your ego is loud, where do you look to find perspective? To find your goal? Continue reading

5 Things I’ve Learned About God as Our True Friend

What is a true friend? Someone who is always there for us? Someone who never lets us down? Someone who is completely sincere? I think that a true friend is all of these things.

On the one hand, a true friend is someone who doesn’t need to force themselves to be your friend because friendship is about sincerity. But on the other hand, a true friend is someone who doesn’t let you down, and this does require effort – to meet, visit, and stay in touch. Inevitably, since we are only human, we will sometimes let each other down. I know I have felt let down by friends, and I’m sure that I have let my friends down too, and probably in ways that I’m not even aware of.

This can make us feel quite alone, like our friends are not really there for us. But this feeling of aloneness and abandonment is also a gift. All of us, whether we believe in God or not, must at some time face ourselves and feel our aloneness because while we do live together on this earth, we all live within the prism of our own consciousness. And if we do happen to believe in God, in that place of aloneness, we are perhaps even better able to see that God is our True Friend.

So, in what way is God our True Friend? Here are five things I’ve learned:  Continue reading

10 Questions About the Future International Auxiliary Language

Many of us may have heard about Baha’u’llah’s call for the future adoption of an international auxiliary language. However, the implementation of the idea seems so far away that most of us haven’t thought much about the specific guidance on its implementation and the role it will play in society.

What do the terms “international auxiliary language” mean? Do we pick a language or create one? Will it be an organic process or a more intentional one? My aim with this article is to look through the Baha’i Writings for guidance and clues as to how Baha’u’llah envisioned the international auxiliary language and to answer 10 questions I had on the topic. I hope you will find my exploration interesting.  Continue reading

How Visualizing Helps Me Serve Others

It’s funny, as children we have such great visions of the world. Our imagination takes precedence over the realities in which we live and we can see everything with such beauty and splendor. The world is filled with infinite possibilities. Somehow though, as we grow older, we seem to lose this light as we learn more about the difficulties of the world, and the realities of hardship that others face, with no apparent solution. We forget as adults we ever had this idealistic vision “once upon a time” and we begin to lose sight of the bigger picture.

Thankfully for us, we have been offered Messengers with a more significant vision than our own — one where mankind comes together for peace, justice and, most importantly, unity. It is a vision of a world that is fair, equal and progressive. This potent and powerful vision is for people from every race and nationality and it asks us to be inspired with what is possible. This vision is truly remarkable; it is a vision from God, as offered by Baha’u’llah, the most recent Messenger. Abdu’l-Baha explains how this vision is eternal:  Continue reading

A Personal Reflection on ‘The Prosperity of Humankind’

In 1995 the Baha’i International Community’s Office of Public Information, in Haifa, prepared a statement entitled The Prosperity of Humankind that was distributed for the first time at the United Nations World Summit on Social Development in Copenhagen. The statement, based on insights derived from the Baha’i Writings and an analysis of contemporary society, shares some important concepts and principles for building a strategy for global development. I truly loved reading it and thought of sharing my personal views on the statement in the hope it motivates others to study it if you have not done so yet (in can be read in full online or downloaded from the Baha’i Reference Library).  Continue reading