Education Under Fire

Education is under the threat of extinction. It is alarming that such oppression is happening in 2012. Most people have trouble believing that such a thing could happen in the 21st century even. but trust me fundamental right to be educated, the under girding of any society, is denied children, male and female.

This atrocity must be exposed.

For the past thirty years, the Iranian government has made it a state policy to “block the progress” of its largest non‐Muslim religious minority. 300,000 Iranian Baha’is have faced every kind of abuse including arrest, imprisonment, torture and even execution.  Since the 1979 revolution, young Baha’is have not been allowed to attend any of Iran’s universities. Imagine a government in this day and age withholding the right to education from an entire population of its own people. This type of abuse is in violation of every international human rights charter and even Iran’s own constitution.

In 1987, the Iranian Baha’i community started an informal university, which has evolved into the Baha’i Institute for Higher Education (BIHE for short). With classes taught peacefully in the living rooms and kitchens of homes across Iran by Baha’i academics that have themselves been barred from teaching professionally as a result of their religious beliefs, the BIHE represents the only chance that Baha’i youth have for higher education.

In May 2011, the government launched a coordinated attack against the BIHE–raiding dozens of homes, confiscating computers and materials and detaining eighteen professors and administrators. Seven of those arrested have received four or five year prison terms– their only crime: educating the youth in their community.  Education Under Fire is a campaign designed to help mitigate the effects of these discriminatory policies and to raise awareness of the importance of defending Article 26 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which guarantees education as an inalienable right of every human being.

The campaign of illumination to expose their plight has produced a 30‐minute documentary, co‐presented by Amnesty International. It tells the poignant and compelling story of the BIHE. I’d like to invite you to see the film and to participate in a conversation. All across the United States people are engaged in remedying this discrimination. Please join the conversation, where ever you live (see the announcement below if you live in the Atlanta area).

                                                                         Children should be educated.

It would be great if you were to join the conversation tomorrow, Wednesday, April 25, 2012, 7:00pm – 9:00pm at the Jimmy Carter Presidential Center?   There will be a showing of the “Education Under Fire” documentary followed by a moderated conversation with a very distinguished panel of humanitarians.

Speak out, please  join the conversation.

 

Fantastic Friday: Bahai Fast

This is a Fantastic Friday for millions of Baha’is, and those who support the Faith, all over the world.   Baha’is around the world will arise for prayers before sunup on March 2, the first of nineteen days of fasting, as they begin their yearly fasting period – an annual renewal of faith.  It is a special time for prayer and also involves abstaining from food and drink between sunrise and sundown for 19 straight days. Members of the Baha’i Faith ages 15 to 70 observe the fast, which ends just before the Baha’i new year on March 21 unless you are exempt because you are traveling, nursing or ill.

Shoghi Effendi, the head of the Baha’i Faith from 1921 until his passing in 1957, described the fast in this way: “It is essentially a period of meditation and prayer, of spiritual recuperation, during which the believer must strive to make the necessary readjustments in his inner life, and to refresh and reinvigorate the spiritual forces latent in his soul.”

Baha’i fast is essentially a period of meditation and prayer.  During these days of cleansing and detachment – the essence of the fast – one is spiritually removed from the dross of this world by concentrating thoughts on peace, unity, sacrifice, service, humility, and gratitude for these days of enrichment.

Any person can participate during this fast period, in fact many people who accept these principles, join the Bahai’s during these days of serenity.

A prayer for fasting:

“This is, O my God, the first of the days on which Thou hast bidden Thy loved ones to observe the Fast. I ask of Thee by Thy Self and by him who hath fasted out of love for Thee and for Thy good-pleasure – and not out of self and desire, nor out of fear of Thy wrath – and by Thy most excellent names and august attributes, to purify Thy servants ….” (excerpt from a Baha’i prayer for fasting, page 260)

BE Thankful

“Be generous in prosperity and thankful in adversity.

Be worthy of the trust of thy neighbor and look upon him with a bright and friendly face.

Be a treasure of the poor, an admonisher to the rich, an answerer of the cry of the needy…

Be unjust to no man.

Be as a lamp unto them that walk in darkness,

Be a home for the stranger…

Be eyes to the blind….”

~Baha’u’llah

Fantastic Friday

Life is precious and wonderful. You, and what you do for others, make it fantastic!

The Habeeb’u’llah family in South Dekalb county Georgia is fantastic. For the past 18 years this Mother, Father and son have operated “Umoja Souljahs and Project Aza Nia, free of charge and without government funding, at the Baha’i Unity Center, for youth – male and female – all around the community.  Let me share a piece of their story:

Vernada Habeeb’u’llah and her husband, Nasif, and their son Anthony saw a need right where they live – they saw a desperate segment of society lacking solutions to teen drop-out rates, increased teen pregnancies, teen violence, teen suicide, and overall despair almost at their doorstep.  They responded to the urgency by creating this youth program to counter the injuries of hopelessness. The core of the program is two fold: 1.) teach these kids, regardless of race, history as African American males and females to let them know they are descendents of kings and queens and 2.) to develop virtuous character within each child.

The impact was immediate. Grades and deportment drastically improved because every Friday they huddle in a circle and talk about grades and situations in their home and at school.  If there were incidents, they sit together in counsel and come to solutions. Soon each child would keep each other in check so that the bond of respect was tight. Max and his wife, Nadia, joined in as adult leaders. Not one girl in the group became pregnant over the years and not one boy was arrested – that’s fantastic. Each child has graduated high school and college and those still in elementary or middle or high school are model students.

We can make a difference in the world, right where we are.