Tag Archives Baha’i scholar

The Alchemy of Peace: 6 Essential Shifts in Mindsets and Habits to Achieve World Peace

Sovaida Ma’ani Ewing’s latest book called The Alchemy of Peace: 6 Essential Shifts in Mindsets and Habits to Achieve World Peace, offers its readers the gift of hope for the critical crossroads which humanity finds itself. It details ways in which we can change our mindsets and our habits in order to actualize our individual and collective potential: world peace.

Sovaida Ma’ani Ewing writes and lectures in the area of global governance, peace, and international security, and she is the founding director of the Center for Peace and Global Governance, an organization aimed at raising awareness and activating political will and action to tackle global challenges. Her experience and expertise on these subjects have led her to write her fourth book, The Alchemy of Peace, and she graciously agreed to tell us about her book. Here’s what she shared with us:

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

Think of a garden that has become a wasteland overrun by weeds. Although we are excited about reviving the garden and creating a luxurious paradise of varied flowers, our efforts are being thwarted at every turn. No matter how many creative plans we make and how many seeds we plant, our efforts come to naught, because the weeds strangle all new growth. So, too, it is with our world today. Despite our best endeavors to come up with programs and action plans to create a just and peaceful world, the results always fall short or fail entirely. What’s going on is that even our most inspiring programs and plans struggle against certain unconscious filters through which we view and understand the world. These filters, or mindsets, are like the operating system of a computer: they drive us and constrain us and yet are in the background hidden from view. These mindsets in turn spawn certain dysfunctional habits. If we are to successfully build the sort of world we want, marked by peace and justice, we need to identify these mindsets and habits — the weeds overrunning our global garden — and replace them with constructive and empowering ones that will propel us in the direction of our vision. The core idea of this book is showing how to do this at the global level to propel us towards peace. I call this the “Alchemy of Peace Method.” After laying out the method in general, the book uses the method to identify six prevalent and insidious mindsets and habits that need to be rooted out and replaced by new mindsets and habits to meet the needs of humanity, as we approach maturity in our collective development.

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New Companion to the Study of the Epistle to the Son of the Wolf

Dr. Lameh Fananapazir recently authored A Companion to the Study of the Epistle to the Son of the Wolf. If you are unfamiliar with The Epistle to the Son of the Wolf (which you can read on the Baha’i reference library here) it is the last tablet of Baha’u’llah and it is addressed to a wealthy cleric who made it his life’s mission to destroy the Baha’i Faith and its followers. Shoghi Effendi translated the work into English and encouraged every Baha’i to study it.

Dr. Fananapazir’s work shares a wealth of sources from other religious texts that will help us to understand the significance of Baha’u’llah’s epistle, which Shoghi Effendi described as a library in of itself.

I am honoured that Dr. Fananapazir agreed to tell us a little bit about the companion he has put together. Here is what he shared with us:

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

I was born during a teaching trip my parents made to Zahedan, a southern eastern province of Iran and spent my youth in Africa, Gambia, Morocco, and Kenya.

I am a graduate of Edinburgh Medical School and was elected as a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh. I trained in cardiovascular diseases and specialized in electrophysiology at Duke Medical Center, following which I was recruited to study causes of sudden death in athletes and patients with familial cardiomyopathies at the National Institutes of Health where I became the chief of the section of inherited heart diseases. I spent two and half years in Haifa, Israel where I was the director of the health services at the Baha’i World Centre and a visiting professor of molecular genetics at Technion, Israel Institute of Technology.

I retired recently. Following 9/11, I authored a book Islam at the Crossroads, published by George Ronald. This examines the religious and sectarian hostilities, the many issues that Islam and its sister religions, Judaism and Christianity, increasingly face, and their potential solutions in the light of Baha’u’llah’s teachings.

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Ambassador to Humanity – A New Book of Tributes to Abdu’l-Baha

Baha’is around the world are drawing closer to Abdu’l-Baha through their prayers, reflections and actions during this centennial anniversary of His Passing. In honor of this unique year, Robert Weinberg has complied a book of selected testimonials and tributes to Him. Titled Ambassador to Humanity, it is hoped that this paperback George Ronald publication “will serve to increase devotion to Abdu’l-Baha and aid reflection on the qualities to be emulated.”

I’m grateful to Robert Weinberg for taking the time to tell us a little bit about this new book. Here’s what he shared:

Baha’i Blog: Can you please tell us a little bit about this book? For example, whose testimonials and tributes are included?

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The Coming of the Glory – A Trilogy by Eileen Maddocks

We heard from Eileen Maddocks when she wrote 1844: Convergence in Prophecy for Judaism, Christianity, Islam and the Baha’i Faith (you can read all about it on Baha’i Blog here) and she is currently hard at work writing a new trilogy called The Coming of the Glory: How the Hebrew Scriptures Reveal the Plan of God. Eileen generously shared with us about the first volume that’s been published, what the whole trilogy will cover, and she shed some light on the process of writing these books. Here’s what she said:

Baha’i Blog: Could you please tell us a little bit about this book? What is it about?

From the opening chapters of the book of Genesis, the Hebrew Bible hints at the challenges that will face our species–– using the tree of the knowledge of good and evil as a symbol for the pitfall of materialism, and the tree of life the station of the Word of God. As we progress through its pages, rich detail is revealed, through its multifaceted allegories, history, hymns and stories, which detail a further succession of Divine Messengers, right down to the present day.
Through the teachings of Jesus and the spread of Christianity, most people have at least passing familiarity with Adam, Noah, Abraham, and Moses. Some might be familiar with Elijah, Isaiah, Jeremiah, and other prophets who worked within their traditions to carry forward and reinforce their teachings. These teachings and prophecies were carefully preserved, and guided millions of believers for 2,500 to 3,000 years.
In our modern age, is the study of these ancient writings of interest only to believers, historians and scholars, or could the teachings of such messengers have direct relevance to everyone alive today? I believe that the Hebrew Bible and the messages of its prophets are very relevant to this day.
Revealed in those ancient pages is a God who declares that the end is known from the beginning (Isaiah 46:10), and that He has made it known to His servants, the prophets. The mission of those prophets was clear. It was to address the problems of their time––idolatry and disobedience to the Mosaic Dispensation––and to call the people to obedience to the Divine Covenant brought by Moses. They also foretold a time of Glory in what was to them the distant future – a time when after much tribulation their descendants would inherit the promises associated with that Covenant. Their prophetic vision reached across thousands of years, announcing an age of global peace and the unity of humankind.

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Varqa and Ruhu’llah: 101 Stories of Bravery on the Move

Boris Handal has penned a tribute to two outstanding heroes of Baha’i history. Titled Varqa and Ruhu’llah: 101 Stories of Bravery on the Move, this book shares an intimate portrait of an incredible relationship between a father and son, and other members or descendants of their family. The legacy they have left the Baha’i community will undoubtedly inspire greater efforts and sacrifices in contributing to the betterment of the world, and Boris’ book will help share their stories.

I am grateful to Boris for agreeing to tell us a little about his book and the acts of bravery it describes. Here’s what he shared with us:

Baha’i Blog: Firstly, can you tell us a little bit about the book?

Varqa and Ruhu’llah: 101 Stories of Bravery on the Move is the story of a father and a son that arose in the 19th century to spread the Faith of Baha’u’llah throughout Iran with great strength and resilience. Varqa, the father, was a physician and a talented poet, and his gifted junior youth son, Ruhu’llah, taught the Baha’i Faith with zeal and courage to a country sunk in the most dire fanaticism, corruption and bigotry. Varqa and Ruhu’llah were able to teach both the rich and the poor, the prince and the commoner, the scholar and the illiterate, the clergy and the laic, in freedom or in prison.

For their teaching activities, they were imprisoned more than once. Both attained the presence of Bahaʼu’llah and Abdu’l-Baha. Their saga ended with their tragic martyrdom in the royal prison of Tehran in 1896 but has continued to live like a legend inspiring Baha’is around the world to serve humanity.

The book describes four generations of the Varqa family starting in 1846 when Mulla Mihdi, Varqa’s father and a perfume-maker, accepted the Faith of the Bab with great zeal in the city of Yazd. Varqa was posthumously elevated to the rank of Hand of the Cause. Born Mirza Ali- Muḥammad, he was given the designation Varqa (Dove) by Baha’u’llah because of his eloquence as a poet and a Baha’i speaker and travel teacher. Varqa’s son and grandson, Valiyu’llah Varqa and Dr. Ali-Muḥammad Varqa, respectively, were appointed Hands of the Cause by Shoghi Effendi.

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The Chosen Path: Tahirih of Persia and Her Search for God – A Book For Junior Youth

Not that long ago Hussein Ahdieh and Hillary Chapman wrote a scholarly work about Tahirih, the poetess and Baha’i heroine, called The Calling: Tahirih of Persia and Her American Contemporaries (you can read all about it here). They have now created a work about her for young readers. It is titled The Chosen Path: Tahirih of Persia and Her Search for God and it includes the artwork of Ivan Llyod and Simina Rahmatian (whose work you can see here on Baha’i Blog). We are much obliged to Hussein for taking the time to tell us about his new book. Here’s what he shared:

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

Tahirih has been an inspiration for me all my life and for as long as I can remember. Learning more about her and sharing what I learn with others has been a big part of my life.

Tahirih, the Pure One, was a gifted teacher and was at the vanguard of spreading the Bab’s teachings. She was the only female Letter of the Living. She unceasingly proclaimed the Babi Faith and brought a deeper understanding of its teachings to the rapidly growing number of followers. Her courageous act at the Conference of Badasht signaled a break with the past and is a key moment in the history of our Faith.

She wrote vibrant poetry that eloquently and powerfully gave voice to her spiritual longing and reflected the vitality of the new spirit of her age. She emerged as the only woman and the most outspoken of the Babi leaders. The authorities responded by having her murdered in the middle of the night. The memory of her life survives in her poems.

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A Life of Acquiescence to the Divine: A Tribute to Farzam Arbab

It is hard to put into words all that Dr. Farzam Arbab has done. Who can accurately estimate the far-reaching impact of a man whose entire life was devoted to the upliftment of the peoples of the world? Who can summarize the life of one who gave particular attention to those populations most marginalized and written off by the upper echelons of society? When Baha’u’llah advised us to regard human beings as mines rich in gems of inestimable value, Dr. Arbab did not consider it merely a pretty metaphor. He gave his whole life to uncovering those gems.  Continue reading

175 Years of Persecution: A Book About the History of the Babis & Baha’is of Iran

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

Dimensions of Baha’i Law: A Book by Roshan Danesh

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

Materialism: A Book by Dr Abdu’l-Missagh Ghadirian

Abdu’l-Missagh Ghadirian’s book, Materialism: Moral and Spiritual Consequences, is now in its second edition! Examining psychological, sociological and spiritual perspectives and substantiated by extensive scientific research, this book focuses on the moral and social consequences of materialistic mindsets. It advocates for a sensible balance between the spiritual and material aspects of life as two pillars of an equitable civilization.

The book is thorough and beautifully marries empirical scientific and economic concepts with spiritual principles and ideas. It is both an ethical guidebook and a thoughtful analysis. The first edition of this book received the Distinguished Scholarship award of the Association for Baha’i Studies in 2011 and I’m really thrilled that it is now in its second edition.

Dr Ghadirian kindly agreed to share a little about his book. I hope you enjoy our conversation:  Continue reading