False Religion

false_religionSo much hate being spread in the name of religion…

‘Abdu’l-Bahá, son of the Prophet-Founder of the Bahá’í Faith, once said:

“Any religion which is not a cause of love and unity is no religion.”

He also said, “A Bahá’í denies no religion; he accepts the Truth in all, and would die to uphold it.”

Recent events in Pakistan show the dark side of this issue:

From The New York Times: Hate Engulfs Christians in Pakistan “The attack in this shabby town in central Pakistan — the culmination of several days of rioting over a claim that a Koran had been defiled — shows how precarious life is for the tiny Christian minority in Pakistan.”

From CNN: About 200 arrested in violence against Christians in Pakistan “Seven people were killed and 20 injured Saturday when Muslim demonstrators set fire to houses in a Christian enclave…”

From Agence France-Presse: Pakistan Christian schools strike after killings “An angry mob of Muslims torched 40 houses and a church in the remote village of Gojra in Pakistan’s heartland province of Punjab…”

It’s no wonder more and more intelligent people can say things like, “I’m very spiritual but certainly not religious…”.

Spiritual Quote:

“…it is evident that the Divine religions are meant to create a bond of love among humanity, and to bind the people together for no other purpose than amity. Divine religion is not a cause for discord and disagreement. If religion be the cause of discord and difference, then no religion is preferable, for religion is meant to be life to the body politic. If it be the cause of death to humanity, then its non-existence is preferable. Therefore, in this day religion is to be sought, for religious teachings may well be likened to remedies. If a remedy be productive of worse symptoms, the lack or absence of the remedy is preferable.”
Compilations, Bahá’í Scriptures, p. 312

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Prayers Make History…

image credit
namaz7There is political foment happening in Iran but it’s not my place to comment on purely political happenings…

Yet, the underlying spiritual struggle, the human suffering, the psychological horror, the emotional drama; these I will address…

From a story on Tehran Bureau: An independent source of news on Iran and the Iranian diaspora  entitled, Prayers Make History, I want to quote various passages that set my mind and heart ablaze:

From A First-Hand Account

“As with other such days, I felt a dual sense of fear and fervor, heightened by the uncertainty of whether people would turn out or not. I arranged to go with friends, because the past month’s experiences have taught me that going alone is unsafe. I remembered to put my name and number on a piece of paper in my pocket so if anything happens to me, my family can be notified.”

“They came in all types: hipster with a rainbow-cannabis medallion resting on his open neck, a family with a ten-year-old child, women in that Islamic Iran archetype black chador, scruffy-looking men, laborers, girls in sunglasses, senior citizens.”

“…phenomenal spectacle, a first in the history of Friday Prayers in Iran (and perhaps in a large part of the Muslim world), men and women were not segregated. Thy prayed side by side. This did not appear to offend the religious-minded; they seemed to accept the situation.”

“Personally, as an atheist, I’ve always found it difficult to socialize with the religious masses. For the first time in my life, however, I really enjoyed being among my religious compatriots. I even tried to behave in such a way as to avoid causing them any discomforrt or disrespect.”

“The word online was that protests would start after prayers were over. …I was intoxicated by the boom of thousands of reverberating voices chanting in unison….We pushed forward, a deluge thickened by people spilling in from alleys on either side where they’d been praying. The drone of chanting carried over from other streets and we felt empowered in the knowledge that thousands more were on the move like us.”

“Suddenly, to our shock, they began firing tear gas in rapid succession — six, seven, eight? I don’t know how many hissing shots landed in quick succession in our midst. Panic ensued, as the crowd’s stampede-like retreat was constricted by the density of the crowd and the lack of space to expand into.”

“My eyes and throat and lungs were on fire. As I inhaled more toxic fumes, breathing became laborious. The muscles in my limbs felt numb, lax…People huddled around, and I went forth too, to get black smoke and cigarette smoke in my eyes to counter the effects of the tear gas.”

“The feeling of suffocation grew inside of me. A new awareness suddenly occurred as well: I may die. At that moment, I physically felt the possibility of death. Then I heard voices. I felt hands pulling me up, hands passing me along, and that’s the last thing I remember.”

The story continues, the man recovers, tells of help given him and his helping others, scenes of violence, bravery, human drama…

Spiritual Quote (about the early history of the Bahá’í Faith in Iran):

“Agitations, trials, woes, afflictions, and torture, arson, expulsion, plunder, beating, vilification, captivity, banishment, imprisonment, destruction of life—none of these could hinder the advancement of this beloved Cause, none could weaken the high resolve of its followers and champions in any part of the world, none could damage or disrupt the structure of its New Order, none could create a cleavage, a division, a schism or any form of sectarianism in the ranks of its embattled hosts. Nay rather, were one to observe with a discerning eye, it would become clear and evident that commotion in itself, the very succession of calamities, upheavals and hardships. and the recurrence of trials, adversities and sufferings have lent an impetus to the power latent in the Cause and reinforced its compelling force and pervasive influence. Indeed as a result of the onrushing tempests of tribulation and the raging hurricanes of tests and trials, the Faith’s scope of operation has been enlarged, its pillars have been raised to loftier heights, its foundation has become more secure, its glory more resplendent, the spread of its influence more rapid, its ascendancy and dominion more conspicuous and evident.”
Shoghí Effendí Rabbání, Fire and Light, p. 36

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18 Tir = 9 July

Cyrus the GreatThe image is of Cyrus the Great, an ancient ruler of Persia—modern-day Iran.

“It is said that, in universal history the role of the Achaemenid empire founded by Cyrus lies in its very successful model for centralized administration and establishing a government working to the advantage and profit of its subjects…”

This year, 18 Tir in Iran
(9 July in the Gregorian calendar) is said to be planned to be a day for major protest.

From Tehran Bureau : “As the atmosphere in Iran continues to thicken, with the number of arrests rising daily, and several hangings (reportedly on the charge of having been involved in protests), everyone is looking towards the anniversary of the 1999 student uprising at Tehran University on 18th Tir (9 July). Exactly ten years ago, the students of Tehran University began to protest against the regime’s policy on social freedoms. In reply, scores of Basij militia raided the university halls of residence with the sole aim of extinguishing the protest, beating students, throwing tear gas, throwing people from the third floor windows shouting ‘Ya Zahra’, and causing several deaths including Ezzat Ebrahim Nezhad who, much like Neda, became a symbol of injustice.”

[important update (9 July): unrest continues…]

Video Update:

Here’s another video… Notice the prominence of women…

Also on July 9th, the Bahá’ís of non-Middle Eastern countries will hold memorials for the Martyrdom of the Báb—a profound Holy Day. For members of the Bahá’í Faith in Iran (the country’s largest religious minority), who are being viciously persecuted, the Martyrdom of the Báb is observed this year on August 20th, due to Lunar Calendar reckoning. The Iranian Bahá’ís will most likely hold their memorial services in secret…

From Planet Bahá’í : “The Martyrdom of the Báb took place on July 9, 1850 at noon. An event with no parallel in history save the crucifixion of Jesus, it is commemorated as a solemn Holy Day by Bahá’ís around the world.”

I would love to be able to walk the streets of Iran on that day, when citizens march for their rights, Iranian Bahá’ís pray for their fellow citizens’ safety, and Bahá’ís in other countries pray for all Iranians…

Spiritual Quote:

“Thus, after the martyrdom of the Báb, Bahá’u’lláh appeared. The government arose against Him. The priesthood in Persia opposed Him, subjecting Him to severe persecution. His possessions were confiscated, His relatives and friends were killed, and He was placed in a dungeon. For a long period He was imprisoned, chained and subjected to severest suffering. Afterward, He was exiled to Iraq, or Mesopotamia, from thence to Constantinople, then transferred to Adrianople and finally to ‘Akká in Syria. He spent twenty-four years in the prison of ‘Akká, where He underwent the severest ordeals and privations without a day or night of relaxation and repose. Notwithstanding this imprisonment and suffering, He manifested utmost spiritual power and majesty. Although imprisoned, He withstood two tyrant kings and eventually overcame both.”
‘Abdu’l-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 371

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For America’s Spiritual Growth . . .

statue_of_liberty

This is not a 4th of July post.

That particular celebration commemorates the
Declaration of Independence.

That document includes this statement: “… as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War...” Also, certain traditional songs used at the celebration “recall images of the Revolutionary War or the War of 1812 [Wikipedia].

Our last post was about human rights in Iran and this one is about America’s spiritual destiny…

Many are unaware of the vastly important spiritual future of Iran and the United States and current events are certainly, to say the least, confusing on that score. One of the Spiritual Quotes  below addresses a future relation between Iran and the United States…

This video is a song about America that uses the words from the other Spiritual Quote

Spiritual Quotes:

“Some of the creatures of existence can live solitary and alone. A tree, for instance, may live without the assistance and cooperation of other trees. Some animals are isolated and lead a separate existence away from their kind. But this is impossible for man. In his life and being cooperation and association are essential. Through association and meeting we find happiness and development, individual and collective.

“For instance, when there is intercourse and cooperation between two villages, the advancement of each will be assured. Likewise, if intercommunication is established between two cities, both will benefit and progress. And if a reciprocal basis of agreement be reached between two countries, their individual and mutual interests will find great development. Therefore, in the unity of this radiant assemblage I behold the link between Orient and Occident. Such unity is the means and instrument of cooperation between the various countries of the East and West. It is evident, then, that the outcomes from this basis of agreement and accord are numberless and unlimited. Surely there will be great harvests of results forthcoming for Persia and America. In Persia advanced material civilization will be established and the doors thrown open wide to American commerce.

“Above and beyond all this, a great love and fountain of affection shall bind and blend these two remote peoples, for Bahá’u’lláh has proclaimed to the world the solidarity of nations and the oneness of humanity. Addressing all mankind He has said, ‘Ye are all leaves of one tree and the drops of one sea’. The world of humanity has been expressed by Him as a unit—as one family. It is, therefore, hoped that the American and Persian nations may be conjoined and united in reciprocal love. May they become one race endowed with the same susceptibilities. May these bonds of amity and accord be firmly established.”
‘Abdu’l-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 35

“O Thou kind Lord! This gathering is turning to Thee. These hearts are radiant with Thy love. These minds and spirits are exhilarated by the message of Thy glad-tidings. O God! Let this American democracy become glorious in spiritual degrees even as it has aspired to material degrees, and render this just government victorious. Confirm this revered nation to upraise the standard of the oneness of humanity, to promulgate the Most Great Peace, to become thereby most glorious and praiseworthy among all the nations of the world. O God! This American nation is worthy of Thy favors and is deserving of Thy mercy. Make it precious and near to Thee through Thy bounty and bestowal.”
‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Bahá’í Prayers, p. 23

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