Prayers Make History…

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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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East and West Embrace { tentatively }


NEW YORK, Jul 16 (IPS) – “Despite opposition from some hardline factions in Iran, the government of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has responded positively to a proposal by the United States that it open a U.S. Interests Section in Tehran — its first formal diplomatic presence since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.”

WASHINGTON (CNN) — “The Bush administration has decided to break with previous policy by sending one of its most senior diplomats to engage Iran’s top nuclear official, the White House announced Wednesday.”

So…

Will anything of substance happen?

Will a war be averted?

~~~~~~~~~

I’m always more positive about world events then the events themselves may seem to warrant. I have an abiding faith in the future of humanity. I feel that the slow climb our human family has made—from the savannas of Africa, to the lush kingdoms of Babylonia, to the riotous global adventuring from the 15th to the 17th Century, to the bleeding and war-torn world we now have—this laborious climb is too important for a few human leaders or a few thousand bombs to stop.

I’ll pray for the leaders gathering in Switzerland and I’ll keep this quote in mind:

A world federal system, ruling the whole earth and exercising unchallengeable authority over its unimaginably vast resources, blending and embodying the ideals of both the East and the West, liberated from the curse of war and its miseries, and bent on the exploitation of all the available sources of energy on the surface of the planet, a system in which Force is made the servant of Justice, whose life is sustained by its universal recognition of one God and by its allegiance to one common Revelation—such is the goal towards which humanity, impelled by the unifying forces of life, is moving.”
Shoghí Effendí , The World Order of Bahá’u’lláh, p. 204

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Woman / Man / Art

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I found a wonderful site, Scribd, that lets you up and download documents.

I cruised around, uploaded five documents of my own, and ended up at a Shakespeare area. I immediately remembered my spiritual pleasure when I read Venus and Adonis, an epic poem.

The introduction starts this way (it was the 16th Century):

TO THE RIGHT HONOURABLE HENRY WRIOTHESLEY,
EARL OF SOUHAMPTON, AND BARON OF TICHFIELD.
RIGHT HONOURABLE,
I know not how I shall offend in dedicating my unpolished lines
to your lordship, nor how the world will censure me for choosing
so strong a prop to support so weak a burthen: only, if your
honour seem but pleased, I account myself highly praised, and vow
to take advantage of all idle hours, till I have honoured you
with some graver labour.

And this was a man who began this work with these splendid words:

EVEN as the sun with purple-colour’d face
Had ta’en his last leave of the weeping morn,
Rose-cheek’d Adonis tried him to the chase;
Hunting he lov’d, but love he laugh’d to scorn;
Sick-thoughted Venus makes amain unto him,
And like a bold-fac’d suitor ‘gins to woo him.

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Another very strong woman I’m familiar with is Táhirih.

Here’s some of what Wikipedia has to say about her:

While in Karbala in Iraq, Táhirih started teaching her new faith. After some of the Shi`ah clergy complained, the government moved her to Baghdad.[3] There she started giving public statements teaching the new faith, and challenging and debating issues with the Shi’a clergy. At this point the authorities in Baghdad argued with the Governor that since Táhirih was Persian she should instead be arguing her case in Iran, and the authorities escorted Táhirih and a number of other Bábís out of Baghdad to the Persian border….

After the Báb’s arrest in 1848, Bahá’u’lláh made arrangements for Táhirih to leave Tehran and attend a conference of Bábí leaders in Badasht. She is perhaps best remembered for appearing in public without her veil….

She was in her early to mid 30’s and was killed in the garden of Ilkhani in Tehran. A prominent Bábí, and subsequently Bahá’í, historian cites the wife of an officer who had the chance to know her that she was strangled by a drunken officer of the government with her own veil which she had chosen for her anticipated martyrdom. Afterwards her body was thrown into a well located in the garden.[5] One of her most notable quotes is her final utterance,

“You can kill me as soon as you like,

but you cannot stop the emancipation of women.”

Human Rights Abuse That’s Closest To My Heart…

Carl Jung, a respected psychologist, wrote a lot about synchronicity: the meaningful relationship of events that appear to have no causal connection.

I felt the meaningful relationship between

1: my blogging (on May 14 & 15) about human rights and

2: the facts of the following story.

The “closest to my heart” part of the title of this post is due to my belonging to the Baha’i Faith, as do these persecuted people…

~~~~~~~~~

Personal diary of John Barnabas (aka Barney) Leith

Baha’is arrested in Iran – grave news

The six of the seven members of the Friends in Iran, the informal group that coordinates Bahá’í activities in Iran in the absence of the formal Bahá’í administration, were all arrested in the early hours of this morning (14 May).

The Universal House of Justice, the world governing council of the Bahá’í Faith, has just sent a message advising us of this grave and distressing news.

Officers of the Intelligence Ministry in Tehran entered the homes of Mrs Fariba Kamalabadi, Mr Jamaloddin Khanjani, Mr Afif Naeimi, Mr Saeid Rezaie, Mr Behrouz Tavakkoli, and Mr Vahid Tizfah, conducted extensive searches and took them to the notorious Evin Prison in Tehran.

The seventh member of the group, Mrs Mahvash Sabet, Secretary of the Friends in Iran, has been held in custody since 5 March 2008.

Such dire action on the part of the government has not been witnessed since the heart-rending events in 1980 and 1981, when all nine members of the National Spiritual Assembly (the national Bahá’í governing council) of Iran were abducted on 21 August 1980 and disappeared without a trace, following which the reconstituted National Assembly was again ravaged by the execution of eight of its members on 27 December 1981.

Since that time, the Bahá’ís in Iran have not been able to elect their Assemblies and their activities have been coordinated by small informal groups, known as Friends.

This is yet more evidence, if evidence were needed, that the government of Iran is determined to extinguish the Bahá’í Faith in the land of its birth.

You can read more about the ongoing persecution of the

Bahá’ís in Iran here.

~~~~~~~~~

Here’s a bit of response from the U. S. State Department:

Arrests of Leadership of Iranian Baha’is
We strongly condemn the May 14 arrest of six leaders of the Iranian Baha’i community– Mrs. Fariba Kamalabadi, Mr. Jamaloddin Khanjani, Mr. Afif Naeimi, Mr. Saeid Rezaie, Mr. Behrouz Tavakkoli, and Mr. Vahid Tizfahm–by Iranian authorities and the continued imprisonment of a seventh leader, Mrs. Mahvash Sabet. This is a clear violation of the Iranian regime’s international commitments and obligations to respect international religious freedom norms. We urge the authorities to release all Baha’is currently in detention and cease their ongoing harassment of the Iranian Baha’i community.