Tag Archives: Baha’i

Fariborz Sahba, famed Architect, to speak in Los Angeles

Hey Pasadena, here’s a rare opportunity to hear one of the most brilliant architects of our time. Fariborz Sahba, architect of the famed “Lotus Temple” Baha’i House of Worship in India will be speaking at the Los Angeles Baha’i Center on July 11th.  If you have heard him speak, you know how inspiring and thought provoking he can be as he presents his work and shows you how he interweaves his spirituality with his brilliant gift for magnificent architecture.

Bahá’í   House of Worship, New Delhi, India.

A quick bio on Mr. Sahba from the Canadian Baha’i News Service:

Mr. Sahba was born in Iran in 1948. He received a Master’s degree in architecture in 1972 from the Faculty of Fine Arts at Tehran University.

In Iran, Mr. Sahba was involved in the design of a wide range of prestigious buildings.Bahá’í House of Worship, New Delhi, India.

In 1976, the international governing body of the Bahá’í community selected Mr. Sahba to design the Bahá’í House of Worship for the Indian subcontinent in New Delhi, India. The project, on which he worked for 10 years as the architect and project manager, was described by Canadian architect Arthur Erickson as “one of the most remarkable achievements of our time, proving that the drive and vision of spirit can achieve miracles.” With over 3.5 million visitors a year, the building, commonly referred to as the “Lotus of Bahapur,” is the most visited building in the world, according to a CNN report.

In 1987, the Bahá’í World Centre assigned Mr. Sahba the task of designing 18 terraces, to serve as a majestic approach to the Shrine of the Báb, one of the most holy places in the Bahá’í world. He was also appointed project manager of the Bahá’í World Centre building projects on Mount Carmel. The Terraces of the Shrine of the Báb received the 1998 Ephraim Lifshitz Award from the Municipality of Haifa and the 1999 Magshim Award from the Council for a Beautiful Israel.

Mr. Sahba has received many international awards, among them the First Honor Award in 1987 for “Excellence in Architecture” from the Interfaith Forum on Religion, Art, and Architecture, an affiliate of the American Institute of Architects. Articles about his work have been published in almost 400 magazines and newspapers throughout the world.

View his online portfolio here: www.sahbaarchitect.com

What:

AN EVENING WITH THE ARCHITECT OF THE THE LOTUS TEMPLE,BAHA’I HOUSE OF WORSHIP NEW- DELHI ,INDIA

When:

SUNDAY JULY 11TH
6.30 PM.

Where:

LOS ANGELES BAHA’I CENTER
5755 RODEO ROAD,
Los Angeles, California, 90016

Hope to see you there!

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Speaking up for the Baha’is of Iran: April 12th, 2010

This blog has been following the situation of the unjustly imprisoned Baha’is in Iran for the past year.   Latest news from Iranian government is that the trial of the 7 Baha’i leaders will be on Monday, April 12th, 2010.  The Iranian government has postponed the trial date so many times, it’s hard to say that if there will be any trial come Monday.  In any event, these Baha’is remain imprisoned under no good reason, other than being a Baha’i.  The seven imprisoned Baha’i leaders, sometimes called the Yaran, are:  Mrs. Fariba Kamalabadi, Mr. Jamaloddin Khanjani, Mr. Afif Naeimi, Mr. Saeid Rezaie, Mrs. Mahvash Sabet, Mr. Behrouz Tavakkoli, and Mr. Vahid Tizfahm.

Remember them

To remember the Baha’i 7, we’re posting below the video of the event to support the Baha’is  held last August 12th, 2009 at the Western Justice Center.  Over 150 were in attendance.  It is in 8 parts, with a musical performance at the end.

Video 1:

9th Court of Appeals Judge Dorothy Nelson opens this special program to raise awareness of the plight of the Baha’is in Iran on August 12, 2009 at the Western Justice Center in Pasadena, California. Over 150 concerned citizens in attendance. As of April 7th, 2010, the 7 Baha’i friends (5 men, 2 women) mentioned in this series of videos have still not been released by the Iranian government, despite international pleas. Standing up for the Baha’is are US Congressman Adam Schiff, Pasadena Mayor Bill Bogaard, and Fire Chief (now in the Obama administration) Bernard Melekian. Sylvian Castel de Oro reads the opening prayer at the end.

Video 2:

Brief YouTube movie gives an overview of the situation of the Bahai’s in Iran. Pasadena Mayor Bill Bogaard speaks afterwards.

Video 3:

Judge Dorothy Nelson introduces Congressman Adam Schiff, of California’s 29th district, overseeing Pasadena. Congressman Schiff speaks knowledgeably about the situation in Iran.

Video 4:

Congressman Adam Schiff talks about the situation of the Baha’is in Iran and Iran in general. US Congress House Resolution 175 has passed condemning the Iranian government false imprisonment of the Baha’i leaders in Iran. Congressman Schiff also discusses Iran’s recent election, nuclear proliferation, and more.

Video 5:

Police Chief Bernard Melekian (now in the Obama administration) speaks about his support for the Baha’is. Judge Dorothy Nelson invites audience to ask questions. Congressman Adam Schiff is recipient of all questions.

Video 6:

Congressman Adam Schiff answers more questions from the public about the repression of the Baha’is in Iran and other questions.

Video 7:

Iraj Kamalabadi, brother of falsely imprisoned Baha’i in Iran, Fariba Kamalabadi, speaks up on behalf of the Baha’is at the Western Justice Center in Pasadena, California. 9th Court of Appeals Senior Judge Dorothy Nelson concludes the program.

Video 8:

Grammy nominated musical artist Tierney Sutton and Jamie Findlay perform “Skylark” at the conclusion of an event to support the Baha’is of Iran. Held at the Western Justice Center in Pasadena, California. 9th Court of Appeals Senior Judge Dorothy Nelson offers final remarks.

Supporters

Event Participants:   Senior Circuit Judge Dorothy W. Nelson of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, US Congressman Adam Schiff representing California’s 29th District,  Pasadena Mayor Bill Bogaard, Pasadena Fire Chief Bernard Melikian (now appointed to a position in the US Department of Justice in the Obama administration), brother of one of the Baha’i’s in Iran — Iraj Kamalabadi, Grammy nominated jazz artist Tierney Sutton, guitarist Jamie Findlay, and Local Spiritual Assembly member and Faculty member at Cal Poly Pomona, Sylvian Castel de Oro.

Many other officials, religious groups, and non-profit organizations were present, including District 7 Pasadena Councilmember Terry Tornek, former Executive Director of the Western Justice CenterNajeeba Syeed-Miller, Assistant Director of Interreligious & Intergroup Relations for the American Jewish Committee Randy Brown, Catholic Diocese of Los Angeles, IDF Executive Director and Pasadena community activist Dorothea Bradley, and more.

A Day of Service: Saturday, February 20, 2010

This past Saturday a number of members of the Pasadena Baha’i community and their friends came out in the rain to serve the community at the 28th Annual Black History Parade and the Pasadena Marathon Health & Fitness Expo.

Black History Parade & Fair

Each year, Pasadena Baha’is support the Annual Black History and Parade with volunteers.  Marching in the Parade were students from Pasadena City College Ujima Program, headed up by PCC counselor and community member Chiara Thomas

Also supporting at the Fair, held at Jackie Robinson Park, was community member Scott Phelps, VP of the Pasadena Unified School District Board of Education.  He was promoting the passing of the parcel tax to increase financial support for Pasadena Public Schools in the wake of an impending budget gap facing school districts statewide.

Also representing at the Fair was the City of Pasadena’s Neighborhood Connections department, whose booth was staffed by this blog’s dear friend and community dynamo, Tania Flores.  She was passing out information and promoting the Pasadena Neighborhood Leadership Institute, of which two of the Pasadena Baha’i community members are graduates, Dorothea Bradley in 2007, and Al Cadena in 2009. 

Tania Flores, from the City of Pasadena's Neighborhood Connections

Scott Phelps, VP of the Pasadena Unified School District Board of Education

 The Baha’is were also there at the Fair.  Despite the rain, many people came up to our table, asking profound questions and wanting to know the Baha’is relationship with Jesus (he is the Son of God), where the Faith was founded (Iran), where is its world center (Haifa, Israel), key principles like the equality of women and men, abolition of all forms of prejudice, and the unique role and contributions that African Americans have made to the Baha’i Faith over the years.

Seen at the Pasadena Baha’i booth were Bill DeTally and Esther Bradley-DeTally, stalwart volunteers in the community in regards to Race Unity, America’s most vital and challenging issue.   Both have volunteered extensively with the San Gabriel Valley Interfaith Council and the YWCA’s Racial Justice Committee.  Esther teaches a writing workshop, “Courage to Write,” at La Pintoresca library, located in Northwest Pasadena, and whose workshop will be featured at the All Saints Women’s Community’s Lunch of Compassion, on Sunday, March 7th, 2010. 

Renee Dixon and Mattie McCrae at the Baha'i booth

Also representing at the booth were Renee Dixon, longtime volunteer for the Black History Parade and member of the Altadena Interfaith Group, and Mattie McCrae, newest member of our community.

Pasadena Marathon | Health and Fitness Expo

Later that afternoon at the Pasadena Convention Center, the Pasadena Neighborhood Leadership Institute (PNLI) Class had a booth to promote their class project: how to improve the community perception of Pasadena Public Schools, especially in light of all the recent improvement in test scores and other statistics.

PNLI have created an advertising campaign, “Yes!  Pasadena Public Schools” which was prominently featured at the booth.  Visitors to the booth were given business-card sized calendars with a fact about Pasadena Public Schools on the reverse.  Quite a number of people came up and chatted with us. Al Cadena, Baha’i and PNLI Class of 2009 remarked:  “People want to hear good things about the school district and are surprised and informed when they learn about the facts that we’re sharing with them.”

Michaun Irby, PNLI Class of 2009 grad at booth

Pasadena supports the release of the Baha’i prisoners in Iran on January 12, 2010

The Pasadena Baha’i Community is sponsoring a prayer gathering on Monday, January 11th at 7:30pm to pray for the release of the seven Baha’i prisoners facing trial in Iran.  Location will be at a private home:  3330 San Pasqual, Pasadena, 91107.  For more info please contact  John 626-298-1603.

The trial of the seven leaders of the Baha’i Faith in Iran is currently scheduled for Tuesday, January 12th in Tehran.   To summarize, these individuals have been held in the notorious Evin prison in Tehran for well over a year without access to their lawyer, Nobel Laureate Shirin Ebadi.  The Iranian government’s charges against them are trumped up:  “espionage for Israel, insulting religious sanctities, and propaganda against the Islamic republic” and “spreading corruption thoughout the earth.”  This is patently ridiculous and part of the insiduous pattern of persecution that have followed the Bahai’s in Iran since the Faith’s inception in the 19th century.

We have been very fortunate to be supported by our national government, but also our two Calfornia Senators, Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer who supported Senate Resolution 71 condemning this persecution, Congressman Adam Schiff who actively supported House Resolution 175 here in Pasadena along with Pasadena Mayor Bill Bogaard on August 12th, 2009.

We also have been fortunate to have received support from the media, both national in Time Magazine, and local, in the Pasadena Star-News.

Dear Pasadena: please support the Baha’is of Iran on Wednesday, August, 12th 2009

ALL ARE WELCOME

ALL ARE WELCOME

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

We’re writing you because seven of our dearly loved Baha’i brothers and sisters in Iran are in grave danger, and possibly face execution. They have been held in Tehran’s Evin prison for over a year with no access to their lawyer, Nobel Laureate Shirin Ebadi. Their crime: being Baha’is.

7 Baha'i Leaders imprisoned in Iran

7 Baha'i Leaders imprisoned in Iran

The US State Department, the UK Foreign Office Minister, Amnesty International and others have roundly condemned the imprisonment and trial of the Baha’is: http://iran.bahai.us.

Support from our Congresspersons

On February 13th, 2009, a bill was introduced in Congress, H. Res. 175, “Condemning the Government of Iran for its state-sponsored persecution of its Bahá’í minority and its continued violation of the International Covenants on Human Rights.” Our Congressman, Adam Schiff, supports it. S. Res. 71, a concurrent resolution to H. Res. 175 regarding the persecution of the Baha’is in Iran, was introduced into the U.S. Senate on March 9, 2009, receiving support from our Senators Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein.

Why should you care?

The Baha’i Faith is a peaceful religion that seeks to promote the unity of mankind. Our principles are in alignment with American values: http://www.bahai.org.

We may be small in number (about 6MM worldwide), but we are spread out across almost every country in the world and are trying to be of service to humanity. Baha’is have been in Pasadena since the early 20th century.

We need your help

You were probably unaware our situation until now, but we need advocates beyond the Baha’i Community:

  • Please let your friends, neighbors, and coworkers know about our situation.  Share this video with them:  http://vimeo.com/5548864
  • Come meet us on Wednesday, August 12th at the Western Justice Center (55 S. Grand Ave., Pasadena 91105).  Attending and/or speaking will be US Congressman Adam Schiff, Pasadena Mayor Bill Bogaard, Police Chief Bernard Melikian, and the Hon. Dorothy Nelson, 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.

Your friends and neighbors,

The Baha’is of Pasadena, California

Newsweek again: Let’s Talk about God editorial

Hi Lisa!

Hi Lisa!


So I received my latest issue of Newsweek–June 8th–today in the mail. The Take, a regular editorial by Lisa Miller Newsweek’s religion editor, featured a book with an interesting title, “The Evolution of God” by Robert Wright.

Miller’s article was well-written, and I’m dying to read Wright’s book when it’s released next week. Wright’s book has a premise–that the idea of God has evolved through history–that resonates strongly with me and correlates closely with a Baha’i perspective.

However, reading the user comments was an eye opener. A lot of really angry people. Of course, I had to put in my $.02:
Debate

“Posted By: alyosha19 @ 06/04/2009 12:00:29 AM
It’s interesting how many of the themes discussed on the comments seem to cover similar refrains: that traditional, organized religion has caused many problems in the world and that atheists seem flabbergasted at why people believe in religion at all.

To the first point, I agree. Religious leaders can be very intolerant and have caused many unspeakable, horrible and criminal things to happen. If a religion’s efforts is not uniting people and bringing them together, then it’s not doing it’s job. A wise Persian man, Abdu’l-Baha, put it more eloquently: “Religion should unite all hearts and cause wars and disputes to vanish from the face of the earth, give birth to spirituality, and bring life and light to each heart. If religion becomes a cause of dislike, hatred and division, it were better to be without it, and to withdraw from such a religion would be a truly religious act.”

To the second point, I would like to offer some advice to those people who don’t believe in God and are proud of it: you kind of come across as insulting and unlikeable. I totally understand your grievances and I’m with you most of the way, but if you want to enlighten people with your reason–and you make great points–then can you at least try to win us over with some honey? Say something nice occasionally. That’s smart marketing.

Lastly, I noticed on the comments a lot of misunderstandings about religion, namely that religion is frozen in the past, observing literal interpretations of the Old Testament, etc. Yes, some practitioners do this–and they are wrong. Actually most people’s understanding about the psychology of relgion is wrong. Closer scrutiny of newer religious traditions–namely, the Baha’i Faith–may bring you a different insight:

–That science and religion are in harmony. Scientific discoveries expand our consciousness and propel humanity forward; (true) religion–aiming to promote the betterment of all humanity (e.g. medical breakthroughs)–keeps science grounded so that it doesn’t veer off into materialism or other bad things (e.g. eugenics).

–That the most important action you can do is to independently investigate the truth yourself. So don’t be a Christian, Muslim, Jew, atheist, etc. just because your parents, teachers, favorite bloggers tell you to. Do your homework–and no copying!

–That there is only ONE religion in the world, with many different chapters that you have heard of: Judaism, Hinduism, Islam, Christianity, etc. Religion is not static–it evolves, just as humanity’s collective consciousness does, and this is what Robert Wright alludes to in his book, The Evolution of God.

Yes, I’m a Baha’i. I try not to push people–that’s not cool. But since hardly anyone knows about my beliefs–and since it is relevant to the discourse of society–I want to share some basics it so that people have a wider array of choices before coming to any conclusions about religion.”

This blog cannot stop reading the mainstream press–when will it ever learn?

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Dear Newsweek magazine: Everything You Think You Know about Iran is Incomplete

Mr. Sourpuss

Mr. Sourpuss


On the cover of the latest issue of Newsweek magazine, I was faced with a sullen Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the provocative title, “Everything You Think You Know About Iran is Wrong.” Excited to think that I might discover something new about Iran in this issue, my excitement diminished after reading the same old story again: that the Iranian people are good but misunderstood; that the government is bad, but not as bad as you think, and no, it’s not a dictatoship. This might seem familiar if you followed this blogs’s reporting about Roger Cohen’s articles in the New York times earlier in the year.

So I decided to make a comment to Fareed Zakaria’s article:

“Posted By: alyosha19 @ 06/03/2009 1:54:12 AM

Newsweek should rename this article, ‘Everything You Think You Know About Iran is Incomplete.’ Especially given the fact that the most underreported large story in the West about Iran is the ongoing, unforgiving repression of the Baha’i community there.

Journalist Roxana Saberi may have drawn a lot of attention when she was recently freed in Tehran’s notorious Evin prison after a 3 month stay, however some 30 Baha’is remain incarcerated there for over a year, under false pretenses, with no due process and no access to their lawyer, Nobel Laureate Shirin Ebadi. Currently the imprisoned 7 member Baha’i leadership in Iran may be facing the death penalty soon, for the crime of simply being Baha’i. Perhaps because these Baha’is were neither American nor journalists is one reason why the Western media avoided covering this story widely.

However the facts behind why the Baha’is are being imprisoned are very important for Westerners to understand — the community’s mere presence in Iran (the largest religious minority, with over 300,000 members, much larger than the Christian and Jewish populations) can be perceived as a threat to the Iranian status quo.

So what do Baha’is believe in that is so threatening to the Iranian leadership?

–the Baha’i Faith believes in the unity of all the world’s major religions as one common faith from God, from Judaism and Hinduism up through Islam and beyond.

–Baha’is reject any clergy and they participate in an elected, spiritual democracy that shuns any form of campaigning or electioneering.

–Baha’is also believe in world peace, the equality of women and men, the harmony of science and religion, the independent investigation of truth, among some of the more famous principles.

–To boot, Baha’is also are to remain obedient to their government, no matter how bad, how corrupt, and even if they throw them in prison. Nice guys seem to finish last.

All of the above principles seemingly conflict with current designs of the Iranian government. And these principles are very appealing to a disillusioned Iranian public–which in turn has led to the severe crackdown on the practice of the Baha’i Faith in Iran.

To imagine that these principles originated in Iran in the mid-19th century, well before they were accepted in the West, may be surprising to Westerners, who may view the Middle East as “backwards” or not progressive. It’s also interesting to note how in the current reporting about all the posturing and threats of war between the East and West, that the Baha’i message–which could arguably illumine the discussion between the two sides–is being silenced amidst the noise.”

If you would have written a better reply, this blog would be grateful to hear about it!