We’d like to share with you a little about a book titled Mirza Mihdi: The Purest Branch in honor of the 150th anniversary of his passing. Written by Boris Handal, this biography tells the dramatic story of Mirza Mihdi, the beloved son of Baha’u’llah, who fell from a skylight in the roof of the prison where he, his family and many other Baha’is were imprisoned. He was severely and mortally injured. When Baha’u’llah offered to save his life, Mirza Mihdi chose instead to sacrifice it so that the doors of the prison might open and those who longed to see Baha’u’llah could attain their hearts’ desire.
During their imprisonment in Akka (in present-day Israel), Mirza Mihdi often spent his evenings on the roof top, immersed in prayer and meditation, where one could breathe cleaner air, as well as watch and listen to the sound of the waves crashing in the bay. After twilight, Mirza Mihdi would count his steps in order to avoid the open skylight but one evening he was so enraptured by his prayers that he stumbled, lost his balance and fell onto a wooden crate on the floor below.
In the last hours of his life, Mirza Mihdi spoke with Baha’u’llah in private. And while we do not know everything that was said, we do know that Baha’u’llah offered to save him. However Mirza Mihdi wished that pilgrims might be able to attain Baha’u’llah’s presence. At that time, many of the Baha’i pilgrims who travelled on foot to see Baha’u’llah had to content themselves with the sight of His hand waving a handkerchief from the prison’s window.
At the tender age of 22, Mirza Mihdi passed away on 23 June, 1870 — 150 years ago to this day. Continue reading
Oneworld Publications has released a book detailing the persecution of the Baha’is called 175 Years of Persecution: A History of the Babis & Baha’is of Iran by Fereydun Vahman. The book recounts how Iran’s largest religious minority has been persecuted by the state since its inception to the present and such a comprehensive study has never been published before. Baha’is and Babis have been made scapegoats for the nation’s ills, branded enemies of Islam and denounced as foreign agents. Since the Islamic Revolution of 1979 Baha’is have been barred from entering the nation’s universities, more than two hundred have been executed, and hundreds more imprisoned and tortured.
Fereydun Vahman writes that Iran is now at a turning point. A new generation has begun to question how the Baha’is have been portrayed by the government and the clergy, and are calling for them to be given equal rights as fellow citizens. Continue reading
Alhan Rahimi, who you may remember from her children’s book about the Declaration of the Bab or her book about the Birth of the Bab, has just released a new work for little ones related to Baha’i history and its holy days. Her latest book, illustrated by Alina Onipchenko, is called Garden of Ridvan: The Story of the Festival of Ridvan for Young Children and it’s a fantastic resource.
Told from the perspective of one of the garden’s nightingales, this book features soft colorful images and repetition. Written with children around 5 years old or younger in mind, this book is sure to help foster an understanding of the beauty and significance of the Festival of Ridvan. Continue reading
Roshan Danesh is a lawyer, conflict resolution innovator, and educator who has devoted his career to the study of law, particularly Baha’i law. His work, as it is expressed in academic articles or essays, has been pulled together in a newly-published book called Dimensions of Baha’i Law. In recent years the Universal House of Justice has called on the Baha’is to participate in the discourses of society. An anthology such as this one, that collects essays that were published elsewhere in the wider academic sphere, is excellent for anyone interested enriching their understanding of this subject and its wider discourse. Dimensions of Baha’i Law was also recently awarded the 2019 Association for Baha’i Studies Award for Distinguished Scholarship.
Roshan shared with us a little about his book. Here’s a look at our conversation:
Baha’i Blog: Can you tell us a little about yourself?
I was born and raised in Canada. My mother’s parents, an Orthodox Jew and midwestern Catholic, were shunned by both sides of their families after they married. They became Baha’is later in life and passed away before I was born. Continue reading
I have never personally met Elaheh Bos but I am so grateful for the materials and resources she creates and produces for children. Her latest: a story book, During Ayyam-i-Ha: How We Celebrate, and an activity book, Ayyam-i-Ha Crafts. (Not sure what Ayyam-i-Ha is? Here’s a Baha’i Blog article called “An Introduction to Ayyam-i-Ha” that might help!)
With the multiple-day Baha’i festival just around the corner, I am thrilled Elaheh was able to share a little bit about her new books. Here’s what she said: Continue reading
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.
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.
There are few things I enjoy more than sharing an armchair with my children and reading a book together. Despite access to a great public library and its incredible wealth of resources, illustrated books for children that aim to inspire change in the world are rare treasures. I was over the moon when I heard about a team of collaborators who are working on a book called Little Champions of Justice. The team consists of Shirin, Alyssa, Yas, Anjali, and Neysan and their book tells the true stories of eight remarkable girls and boys from around the world whose courage, determination and sense of justice will inspire its readers. The eight stories feature diverse protagonists, challenge gender stereotypes and racial biases, and find role models anyone can identify with.
Unlike other books that are available through a variety of outlets and over a long period of time, the team has chosen to only print their books once, and to only make as many copies as are ordered before December 12th (you can purchase a copy here).
Caught up in the joy and excitement of this book’s creation, we got in touch with the team behind Little Champions of Justice, and here’s what they shared with us: Continue reading
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.