Arrested For Helping Earthquake Victims

Iranian authorities have arrested a number of Baha’is who provided education to children in a region devastated by an earthquake seven years ago. The Baha’i International Community has so far been able to confirm the arrest of four Baha’is this month in connection with the provision of kindergarten-level education in Iran’s Kerman Province, south-east of Tehran. Two other Baha’is from the city of Kerman were also arrested on Sunday 13 March. Their involvement in education projects has not yet been confirmed. “More than 26,000 people died and one in five teachers in the city of Bam reportedly lost their lives in the 2003 earthquake,” said Diane Ala’i, representative of the Baha’i International Community to the United Nations in Geneva. “These Baha’is were offering a vitally needed service to children whose education system had been all but completely destroyed.” Last week, the Iran Student News Agency, reported that the prosecutor-general of the revolutionary court in Bam announced that a “number of Baha’is” had been arrested for “promoting their programs under the guise of kindergartens in Bam, Kerman and Tehran.” Mohammad Reza Sanjari claimed that Baha’is “took advantage” of the need for cultural, social and educational measures following the earthquake. “This latest round of arrests is yet another example of the widespread, and intensifying, religious persecution being carried out by Iran against its 300,000-strong Baha’i minority,” said Ms. Ala’i. “This and other recent actions suggest that the authorities will stop at nothing to keep Baha’is away from Muslims, even when the Baha’is are providing a service to those in their society in desperate need.”  Three Baha’is from Isfahan – including two 18 year olds – were also arrested earlier this month while teaching children.  They were subsequently released.  Some 79 Baha’is are currently being held in prison in Iran.

Source: BWNS

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‘Their Union Will Endure’

I was saddened to read that Mr. Jamaloddin Khanjani- a Baha’i unjustly imprisoned for ten years in Iran’s harsh Gohardasht prison- has been refused leave to attend his wife’s funeral. Mrs. Ashraf Khanjani passed away after an illness lasting a few months. The couple had been married for over fifty years and had raised four children together. Mr Khanjani’s ‘crime’ was to be a member of an ad-hoc committee serving the needs of the Baha’i community in Iran. The dedication of this man and wife both to each other and their faith put me in mind of `Abdu’l-Baha’s description of an ideal Baha’i marriage.

When, therefore, the people of Bahá undertake to marry, the union must be a true relationship, a spiritual coming together as well as a physical one, so that throughout every phase of life, and in all the worlds of God, their union will endure; for this real oneness is a gleaming out of the love of God. In the same way, when any souls grow to be true believers, they will attain a spiritual relationship with one another, and show forth a tenderness which is not of this world. They will, all of them, become elated from a draught of divine love, and that union of theirs, that connection, will also abide forever. Souls, that is, who will consign their own selves to oblivion, strip from themselves the defects of humankind, and unchain themselves from human bondage, will beyond any doubt be illumined with the heavenly splendours of oneness, and will all attain unto real union in the world that dieth not.

Selections From the Writings of `Abdu’l-Baha, Pages 117-118: gr3

This vision of a spiritual union also has interesting parallels with the Swedenborgian concept of Marriage in Heaven’-

Marriage in Heaven is the bonding of two individuals into one mind. The essential element of marriage is the union of personalities or minds. Further, we can know from this that the intrinsic quality of the personalities or minds determines the quality of the union, and also the quality of the love between the two. Now it is possible to see from where true marriage love comes from – namely, that its first formation occurs in the minds of people who are in a married state. From there, it descends and branches out into the body, where it is perceived and felt as love. Actually, anything that is perceived and felt in the body has its original in the body’s spiritual level, because it originates from discernment and intention. Discernment and intention make up the spiritual person.

Emanuel Swedenborg, Heaven and Hell

‘Abdu’l-Bahá And The Theosophists

On his journey to the West ‘Abdu’l-Bahá addressed diverse meetings and groups-

in the city of New York alone He delivered public addresses in, and made formal visits to, no less than fifty-five different places. Peace societies, Christian and Jewish congregations, colleges and universities, welfare and charitable organizations, members of ethical cults, New Thought centers, metaphysical groups, Women’s clubs, scientific associations, gatherings of Esperantists, Theosophists, Mormons and agnostics, institutions for the advancement of the colored people, representatives of the Syrian, the Armenian, the Greek, the Chinese, and Japanese communities…

God Passes By, Pages 279-294: 289

During the course of these visits ‘Abdu’l-Bahá made a number of presentations to Theosophical societies in England, France, Austria and in the United States. He also made a presentation to Annie Besant, President of the Theosophical Society. His United States itinerary was particularly full in this regard-

25 April 1912 Talk to Theosophical Society Home of Mr. and Mrs. Arthur J. Parsons 1700 Eighteenth Street, NW, Washington, D.C.

4 May 1912 Talk to Theosophical Society Northwestern University Hall, Evanston, Illinois

30 May 1912 Talk at Theosophical Lodge Broadway and Seventy-ninth Street, New York

24 July 1912 Talk to Theosophical SocietyThe Kensington Exeter and Boylston Streets, Boston, Massachusetts

4 December 1912 Talk to Theosophical Society 2228 Broadway, New York

During his presentations ‘Abdu’l-Bahá frequently highlighted the various principals held in common by Theosophists and Baha’is- for example the oneness of religion and the oneness of humanity.

Question.—(It was remarked, Theosophy teaches that truth in all the religions is the same): Does the task of unifying all religions have ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s sympathy?

Answer.—Surely.

Question.—Can ‘Abdu’l-Bahá suggest any lines on which it could best be worked out?

Answer.—Search for truth. Seek the realities in all religions. Put aside all superstitions. Many of us do not realize the Reality of all Religions.

‘Abdu’l-Bahá in London

Oneness of the world of humanity ensures the glorification of man. International peace is the assurance of the welfare of all humankind. There are no greater motives and purposes in the human soul. As we are agreed upon them, the certainty of unity and concord between Bahá’ís and Theosophists is most hopeful. Their purposes are one, their desires one, and spiritual susceptibilities are common to both. Their attention is devoted to the divine Kingdom; they partake alike of its bounty.

The Promulgation of Universal Peace

In addition to highlighting principals held in common, when asked to elucidate a point by his audience, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá also expressed philosophical differences with some Theosophical beliefs such as reincarnation .

…observe that in the sensible world appearances are not repeated, for no being in any respect is identical with, nor the same as, another being. The sign of singleness is visible and apparent in all things. If all the granaries of the world were full of grain, you would not find two grains absolutely alike, the same and identical without any distinction. It is certain that there will be differences and distinctions between them. As the proof of uniqueness exists in all things, and the Oneness and Unity of God is apparent in the reality of all things, the repetition of the same appearance is absolutely impossible. Therefore, reincarnation, which is the repeated appearance of the same spirit with its former essence and condition in this same world of appearance, is impossible and unrealizable.

Some Answered Questions, Pages 282-289: gr10