A poster published by human rights supporters depicting BIHE staff members detained in Iran
I am shocked by the campaign of cultural genocide pursued by Iranian authorities against the Baha’i community in Iran. The latest phase is an attempt to destroy community educational programmes set up because Baha’i youth are excluded from state-run institutions. BWNS reported on the 22nd May that
A coordinated series of raids have been carried out on the homes of several Iranian Baha’is, active in a community initiative to provide a higher education programme for young members who are barred from university. Initial reports indicate that raids took place yesterday on houses in Tehran, Karaj, Isfahan, and Shiraz. As many as 30 people may already have been arrested…All of the targets were homes of individuals closely involved with the operations of the Baha’i Institute for Higher Education…The Baha’i Institute for Higher Education (BIHE) was established in 1987 as a community initiative to meet the educational needs of young Baha’is who have been systematically denied access to higher education by the Iranian government. The BIHE has been described by the New York Times as “an elaborate act of communal self-preservation.”
I think this is one of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s most beautiful prayers with it’s theme of spiritual revival and invocation of divine protection. I particularly like the garden imagery and the references to ‘reviving breath’ and ‘spiritual springtime’.
O Peerless Lord! Be Thou a shelter for this poor child and a kind and forgiving Master unto this erring and unhappy soul. O Lord! Though we are but worthless plants, yet we belong to Thy garden of roses. Though saplings without leaves and blossoms, yet we are a part of Thine orchard. Nurture this plant then through the outpourings of the clouds of Thy tender mercy and quicken and refresh this sapling through the reviving breath of Thy spiritual springtime. Suffer him to become heedful, discerning and noble, and grant that he may attain eternal life and abide in Thy Kingdom for evermore.
On our small island in the United Kingdom we have just held elections for no less than three national assemblies- in Wales Scotland and Northern Ireland. Much as I respect the democratic process I am concerned that the current system of party politics works on the principle of divide and rule rather than bringing people together.
One of the teachings of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá which I consider particularly wise in this regard is the advice not to become involved in partisan politics. For example in ‘Paris Talks’ he says
Politics are occupied with the material things of life. Religious teachers should not invade the realm of politics; they should concern themselves with the spiritual education of the people; they should ever give good counsel to men, trying to serve God and human kind; they should endeavour to awaken spiritual aspiration, and strive to enlarge the understanding and knowledge of humanity, to improve morals, and to increase the love for justice. This is in accordance with the Teaching of Bahá’u’lláh. In the Gospel also it is written, ‘Render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s, and unto God the things which are God’s’.