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.
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
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.
I’m excited to share a short film called ‘Hope From Iran 2’ by my dear friend Flavio Azm Rassekh in collaboration with Persian BMS.
‘Hope From Iran 2‘ is a follow-up film to its predecessor ‘Hope From Iran‘, but this film takes on a slightly different angle by exploring the lives of four very talented women who have been touched, not only by the Baha’i Faith, but in particular by the life and example of a famous Persian poetess and Baha’i heroine known as Tahirih.
Flavio is a filmmaker from Brazil, and besides truly being like a brother to me, we’ve collaborated on numerous projects together over the years, and his unwavering dedication, hard work, and passion for serving the Baha’i Faith through various avenues of media and the arts is always an inspiration.
I decided to touch base with Flavio about ‘Hope From Iran 2’, and share what he had to say with our readers: Continue reading
The heroic life of Tahirih—Fatimih Umm-Salamih (1817- 1852)—has long been celebrated by playwrights, historians and Persian social reformers, especially those advocating women’s rights in present-day Iran. Though a 19th century poet of superb eloquence and variety, she is better known as a woman of dauntless faith, courage and resilience, whether by the Persian community in general or by the followers of the Baha’i religion, for whom she looms as one of the most memorable figures of the Heroic Age of the Baha’i Faith (1844-1921). Continue reading
We recently released a Studio Session by Ethan Crofts based on the words of the Bab as quoted in various passages of The Dawn-Breakers. Have you listened to it? The song is called “Arise” and I found it profoundly moving.
I was inspired to chase up some of the quotations to better understand their context, particularly as we will commemorate the Martyrdom of the Bab soon. Continue reading
I have long admired the writing style of Bahiyyih Nakhjavani. Her prose is so masterful that I often read a passage or two and then put the book down, the same way you would put down your fork in order to relish a morsel of truly flavourful food. Bahiyyih Nakhjavani is the internationally bestselling author of The Saddlebag – A Fable for Doubters and Seekers, Paper – The Dreams of a Scribe, Four on an Island, When We Grow Up, Response, Asking Questions: A Challenge to Fundamentalism, and most recently, The Woman Who Read Too Much: A Novel which is a work of creative nonfiction about the life of Tahirih.
In these early days of the Faith where we explore what it means to be a Baha’i artist, Bahiyyih has inspired me with a vision of literary excellence and I am truly honoured to ask her about her recent publication.
Baha’i Blog: Thank you so much for agreeing to this interview! To begin, can you please tell us a little bit about yourself, your work as a writer, and about your latest book ‘The Woman Who Read Too Much’?
I’m a member of an ancient tribe, a venerable race whom some now say is bordering on extinction. There are still many of us around, although like other anthropological groups whose belief system runs counter to that of the majority, we tend to be invisible. High finance ignores us. Politics barely knows of our existence anymore, although at one time it was afraid of us. We are scattered across the five continents and come from different backgrounds, different cultures and generations, but we all share one common faith, one universal cause. We call ourselves Readers. Continue reading
Force, the old standard, is losing its dominance, and intuition, insight, glimpses of cosmic consciousness and the spiritual qualities of love and service in which woman is strong are gaining ascendancy. And you see that this new epoch is an age in which masculine and feminine elements of civilisation are becoming more evenly adjusted. Man and woman are as the two wings of the bird of humanity and this bird cannot attain its highest flight until these two wings are equally strong and equally poised. One of the important teachings of the Baha’i Faith is that women should be regarded as the equals of men and should enjoy equal rights and privileges, equal education and equal opportunities. Tahirih had to die for these ideals but today our task is to live for them. – Martha Root
To commemorate International Women’s Day, which falls on 8 March, I would like to honour a remarkable woman who lived a century ago. Her radical life was not only significant then but remains profoundly relevant today. She had passion, determination, guts and grit running through her veins. A warrior for the emancipation of women. A force to be reckoned with.
A life tragically cut short at the age of thirty-six, she was the first woman suffrage martyr. Put to death by strangulation, her immortal words ring through the ages:
You can kill me as soon as you like, but you cannot stop the emancipation of women.
Her name was Tahirih – “The Pure One”. Continue reading