Sirus Naraqi: 30 Sept, 1942- Aug 18, 2004
Last night marked the 7th anniversary of the passing of my father, Sirus Naraqi.
Since his passing, I have been blessed to constantly meet so many people who knew him and loved him, and share with me how he touched their lives.
As I’ve gotten older, I’ve been able to look back on my parents’ lives and reflect on the experiences they had. It’s interesting how you start to see the human side of a parent as you get older, and realize that they too are ordinary people – much like you and your friends – with their own hopes and dreams, fears and regrets, trials and accomplishments.
My parents were born in Iran and they moved to the United States where they were married in 1969 in front of the Baha’i House of Worship in Wilmette, Illinois. After my father finished specializing in medicine, my parents moved from the suburbs of Chicago to Papua New Guinea (PNG). I remember spending a lot of time with my dad going to the villages and doing both medical work and visiting the Baha’is there.
My parents ended up spending 20 years in PNG, and I remember an old colleague of my father from Chicago had written to him asking why he was still in PNG after so long, and what did PNG offer that the US didn’t offer. My dad’s reply was “It’s what PNG does not have that keeps us here.” Continue reading
Baha’i music composer Tom Price recently gave a series of three talks about the Five Year Plan at the Tennessee Baha’i School. With his permission, Baha’i Blog is pleased to share with you the talks to stream from our site or to download – and best of all, it’s completely free!
The study of the 5 Year Plan is something we’ve all been encouraged to do, and we hope these talks will help you with this. We know that anyone who has ever heard Tom Price speak will be frantically clicking away at the download buttons, and for those of you who have yet to tune in to one of Tom’s talks, you’re in for a treat!
We hope you enjoy the talks and please let us know what you think in the comments section and feel free to share this post with your friends.
Happy Listening! Continue reading
As I take part in this special period of the Baha’i year, and join fellow Baha’is around the world in the Fast, I’ve been reflecting on what I’ve learned from fasting over the years. Probably the main thing which comes to mind is that even now, although I’ve been doing it every year for the last 20 years – I’m not getting any better at it.
But perhaps that’s the point. To get better at it would mean that we would potentially miss out on a significant opportunity to put ourselves to the test in order to help ourselves grow and develop into better human beings, which is what we’re encouraged to do as Baha’is every day. Baha’u’llah wrote:
We have enjoined upon you fasting during a brief period… beware lest desire deprive you of this grace that is appointed in the Book.
So, maybe it doesn’t need to get easier, as I don’t want to be deprived of “this grace”. Continue reading
Photo: Amanda Conrad (Flickr)
A few nights ago, I invited three of my friends over for dinner. At some point, the topic of religion came up and the conversation that ensued was very interesting, given the diversity of religious backgrounds represented in the room, but also incredibly challenging. Firstly, there was me, a Baha’i who had been brought up as a Christian in an Eastern Orthodox church with a strong – and very, very old – religious tradition of its own. And then there were my three friends – one of Druze heritage, another with a somewhat secular Anglican upbringing, and the last of Jewish descent. All three of them, however, are self-professed “militant atheists” with a profound disdain for religion that was only kept in check that night by their long friendship with me and their unwillingness to offend me (too much).
For the first ten minutes of the conversation, I found myself feeling incredibly relieved that my role as dinner hostess was keeping me occupied in the kitchen, where I could hear the conversation but be spared the unpleasant task of having to be the sole defender of religion! For the next ten minutes (after I ran out of dinnerware to fiddle around with), I sat with them, feeling a mixture of amusement, discomfort, defensiveness, guilt and indecision as to what the prudent thing to say was. However, as I kept listening, I felt more at ease, realising one very important thing: for the most part, I agreed with them!
It became quickly apparent, as the conversation unfolded, that my friends and I had many values in common and that much of their discomfort with religion came from a strong commitment to the very principles that I cherish as a Baha’i: justice, compassion, honesty and integrity – just to name a few. The only point of difference between us, however, was that while they felt dismayed and despondent about the problems that religion has caused in the history of humanity, I remained optimistic about the transformative power of religion. Continue reading
As the birth of Jesus Christ approaches, I reflect on Christ’s wonderful revelation and the profound impact His message of love and fellowship has had on the world.
Many of my friends and family, while busy preparing for their Christmas festivities, ask me whether Baha’is believe in Christ.
And the answer is: Yes! Indeed we do. Baha’u’llah refers to Christ as the…
Lord of the visible and invisible.
And in a letter to a Christian, Abdu’l-Baha explained that…
to be a Christian is to embody every excellence there is.
Although throughout history, individuals have often used religion for their own gain and used it as an instrument for segregation and war, one cannot downplay the beauty and profound impact the revelation of Christ has had on earth. Christ’s message of love continues to vibrate throughout the world, and one could argue that one of the proofs of His divine message is the fact that His revelation, although written down and compiled some 50 years after His passing, continues to transform the hearts of millions around the world – even today – some 2,000 years later. Continue reading
Every year, as Baha’is, we gather for eleven holy days including the festive celebratory days like Naw Ruz and Ridvan, as well as the more commemorative days that mark the Ascension of the Bab and Baha’u’llah. And like everything in the Baha’i Faith, hosting these gatherings is something that is open to one and all.
The first time I hosted a holy day, I wasn’t totally sure what to do. There were twenty people attending and, beyond gathering some prayers, I didn’t know what else could go into a holy day celebration. Since then I’ve been compiling ideas so that next time I’ll be ready!
Listed below are sixteen ideas for your next holy day event listed below. If you have some suggestions of your own, I’d love to hear them in the comments!
Photo by Madcowk (Flickr)
1. Run a Drum Circle
A drum circle is a fun way to bring a community together. It simply entails getting everyone some sort of percussion instrument, setting a steady beat and sharing rhythm! If you have access to them, African Djembe drums will give you a real throbbing beat, but you can make do with all sorts of make-shift percussion. If you have someone with a good sense of rhythm to lead the circle, this can work well. A simple introductory activity is to have the leader tap out a beat and then have the other participants ‘reply’ with the same beat.
Baha’i music composer Tom Price recently delivered six great new talks at the 2012 Tennessee Baha’i School, called “Recreating Ourselves in the Image of the Master”.
For those of you who have yet to hear one of Tom’s talks, you’re in for a treat! Last year we posted Tom Price’s talks on The Five Year Plan and it’s still one of our most popular posts ever!
In these wonderful talks Tom Price shares six of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s attributes and looks at how we can learn from them and adopt them into our own lives.
‘Abdu’l-Bahá, (also referred to as the Master) was Bahá’u’lláh’s eldest son and appointed successor, and He is considered the perfect example of how to live according to the Bahá’í teachings. This year also marks the 100th anniversary of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s visit to North America, and Bahá’í communities across the US and Canada have been celebrating His visit.
You can listen to these talks by either streaming them or by downloading them – and best of all, it’s completely free! Continue reading
Which Baha’i musician has millions of fans and concerts that pack out stadiums? Khalil Fong – that’s who! “Who?” you ask? Well, to many of the English speaking world, the name Khalil Fong may not ring a bell, but to the Mandarin speaking world in China, Singapore and Taiwan, Hong Kong based pop-star Khalil Fong has been playing to packed-out stadiums and he continues to pump out the hits!
Besides having over six million followers on Weibo (the Chinese Twitter), six albums under his belt, and approximately 180 music awards, Khalil has also been praised by the media for his upright character and for being such a positive role model for young people.
I was first introduced to Khalil Fong’s music several years ago when a close friend of mine had given me Khalil Fong’s first album Soulboy, and even though I don’t speak Mandarin, as soon as I pressed “Play”, I was humming and snapping my fingers to the beat.
When I was in Hong Kong a short time ago, there were posters of Khalil everywhere – and I mean EVERYWHERE! I walked into a HMV music store and there was an entire display at the entrance dedicated to his latest album titled “15”, and when I took the CD over to the counter, the guy at the register nodded approvingly of my choice and said “Good album, good album!”.
I had the pleasure of meeting and hanging out with Khalil Fong, and I was really impressed by his humility and the dedication and professionalism with which he approached his musical career. It was also very obvious that being a pop-star was exhausting work, with a hectic schedule and the pressures of always being in the spotlight, so I was really pleased that he was able to squeeze in an interview for Baha’i Blog. Continue reading
I recently lost someone in my life. Someone very close to me. Someone I love very much.
You can fall in love with, and become attached to anything. A person, an object, an idea, a place, a feeling, a belief.
No matter what it is that you’re attached to and in love with – once it’s gone – letting go can be hard.
Grief is an interesting thing. Many of my friends console me by saying that things happen for a reason, and we have to count our blessings. My mother always says that things could be worse, and she tells me the parable of a man who, while walking down a muddy street, complained to God that he didn’t have shoes. His complaints turned into prayers of gratitude when he noticed a man passing him on that muddy street who didn’t have any legs… She’s right. It could always be worse. Continue reading
Photo: Morris S
Over the last 15 years I’ve had the opportunity to participate, tutor, and be involved to varying degrees in numerous Baha’i study circles in different parts of the world. I’ve experienced very good ones, and ones that could use a little work. Ones that completed the Ruhi book we were working on, and ones that fizzled out before completion. Ones that were run at an extremely intensive and accelerated pace, and ones that took over a year to complete. Ones that brought people into the Faith, and ones that weren’t very well received by some of the participants.
The fact is that no matter what you think about study circles or what your involvement has been with them over the years, study circles have and continue to revolutionize many Baha’i communities worldwide, helping to change the overall culture of the Baha’i community – and I think for the better.
Of course there’s always room for improvement, and we’re all learning through action and reflection while continuously developing and working on improving our ‘posture of learning’, but I thought it would be interesting to look at just six of the ways study circles have helped the Baha’i community, so let’s take a look: Continue reading