For me, the privilege of handling the files of executed Bahá’ís is that it enabled me to view these believers from another time and place as part of my own life story. And though we are left with only memories, these soul scraps are more precious to me than any physical remains.
They are traces of human beings who learned to drink the bitter with the sweet. Memories of weddings, a favorite poem, and the dreams a young girl who dove headfirst into the ocean, arms and legs flying.
Andréana Lefton (@AELefton) graces our blog this week with "A Dark Privilege: Bearing Witness to Victims and Prisoners of Conscience in Iran." Bahá’í leaders in Iran are being persecuted and imprisoned — simply for their faith. From a desk in London, Ms. Lefton reflects on their circumstances and how they remind her of the sacrifice and the richness of human life.
I chose this photograph to lead A.E. Lefton’s commentary, "A Dark Privilege: Bearing Witness to Victims and Prisoners of Conscience in Iran." The image captures a rally in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, for the seven Bahá’í leaders in Iran, known as the Yaran (“Friends in Iran”), who were incarcerated by the Iranian government in 2008. It’s visually interesting and also hints at the solidarity of the global Baha’i community.
(Credit: Comunidade Bahá’í do Brasil/Flickr, cc by 2.0)
While editing a commentary on the persecution and imprisonment of Baha’is within Iran, I happened upon this interview with Roxana Saberi. The American journalist, who was accused of espionage by the Iranian government, talks about the time she spent in an Iranian prison and the relationships she developed with Mahvash Sabet and Fariba Kamalabadi, two of the seven Yaran (“the Friends”), who are sentenced to 20 years in prison because of their faith:
"I think the lessons that Mahvash and Fariba taught me in prison are universal. And they can apply to anybody, anywhere in the world. You don’t have to be in prison. We have our own prisons, are own adversities, and we can try to turn those adversities into opportunities."
~Trent Gilliss, senior editor
Baha’i Reaction to Robert Wright
Shubha Bala, associate producer
Several listeners, including Dan Haghighi, have commented on the Robert Wright show and how it reminded them of the Baha’i view towards science and religion. Dan sent us a link to the Baha’i Topics website, containing a beautiful quote by ‘Abdu’l-Baha, the son and successor of the head of the Baha’i Faith:
"Religion and science are the two wings upon which man’s intelligence can soar into the heights, with which the human soul can progress. It is not possible to fly with one wing alone! Should a man try to fly with the wing of religion alone he would quickly fall into the quagmire of superstition, whilst on the other hand, with the wing of science alone he would also make no progress, but fall into the despairing slough of materialism."
—from Paris Talks
Another listener, Bill Thompson, explained how Baha’i understanding overlaps with the Robert Wright conversation:
"Each One, limits Their revelation to what can be understood and benefit at the time. For example, look how the simple Genesis story of creation describes how the universe became, but in "seven days" (approx.: dark, light, form, water, life) and for apt for a rudimentary human understanding. No Prophet is less than or would repudiate Those before, but are Themselves dependably denied by leaders of belief of their time.
Science now tells it accurately, and a teaching today is that true science does not contradict God — unimaginable that it would. So all “errors” between them have some base to look over. Above it all, God and religion are one, and in this revelation we are told — and ordered, I guess — that man is one and the virtues, again being revivified, are this time to realize the oneness of humanity and practice it.
To avoid the man-made divisions, Baha’u’llah said we approaching the maturity of humankind, and all must be educated (girl child in preference to boy child if the resource is limited!), and each person must understand God’s will individually and now have no priests, pastors, or other interpretations. And obviously, there will be more guidance every millennium or so as God guides us out of the next deterioration of the message, and according to conditions and readiness due to our advancement.”
(“Bahai star” by pourquoitesla/Flickr)