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Little Champions of Justice – A Children’s Book Only Available for a Limited Time

Baha'i Blog - 3 hours 15 min ago

There are few things I enjoy more than sharing an armchair with my children and reading a book together. Despite access to a great public library and its incredible wealth of resources, illustrated books for children that aim to inspire change in the world are rare treasures. I was over the moon when I heard about a team of collaborators who are working on a book called Little Champions of Justice. The team consists of Shirin, Alyssa, Yas, Anjali, and Neysan and their book tells the true stories of eight remarkable girls and boys from around the world whose courage, determination and sense of justice will inspire its readers. The eight stories feature diverse protagonists, challenge gender stereotypes and racial biases, and find role models anyone can identify with.

Unlike other books that are available through a variety of outlets and over a long period of time, the team has chosen to only print their books once, and to only make as many copies as are ordered before December 12th (you can purchase a copy here).

Caught up in the joy and excitement of this book’s creation, we got in touch with the team behind Little Champions of Justice, and here’s what they shared with us:

Baha’i Blog: What inspired you to put this book together?

About a year ago a group of us took a hard look at our children’s bookshelves and found that there are simply not enough books with characters that both inspire our children and with whom they can identify. We wanted heroines and heroes who are not only strong or courageous, but who are also generous and kind, and we wanted these heroes and heroines to reflect the diversity of humanity.

So, we started digging and came across individuals from across the globe – from Samoa to Ghana to the United States – all of whom are Baha’is, and each of whom has shown, in ways big and small, how we can change the world.

Baha’i Blog: Whose stories are included and how did you choose the people you wanted to feature?

The book tells the true stories of four girls and four boys from different parts of the world, including Tahirih, astronaut Ron McNair, women’s rights activist Nhlumba Bertha Mkhize, and environmentalist Richard St Barbe Baker.

We wanted children to easily “slip into their shoes” and experience their worlds and their fears and their courage, so we were intentional in finding individuals who are diverse in ethnicity and gender. In addition, each highlights a different cause for justice, such as gender equality, standing up against racism and promoting environmental sustainability.

Baha’i Blog: How did you find these stories?

We wanted to make sure that the stories and illustrations were culturally and historically accurate. So we dove into archives, interviewed protagonists’ family members and spoke to historians. It was an incredibly inspiring and, at times, humbling process.

For example, the only individual from our stories who is still alive is Knight of Baha’u’llah Martin Manga. We wanted to make sure that the anecdote we were going to write about him was as accurate as possible, so a wonderful Baha’i friend from Cameroon undertook a risky journey, by motorcycle, through regions of conflict to meet with Mr. Manga.

Baha’i Blog: Who is your target audience?

The book is written with 5-10 year olds in mind, and it’s not just for Baha’is!

We wrote the stories in a way that we could share the book with our friends and neighbors, including those who may not know much about the Faith.

Hundreds of friends – both Baha’is and from the wider community – have already ordered the book as gifts for their children, their friends’ children, and children in their children’s classes and neighborhoods. It’s been incredibly exciting to see!

Baha’i Blog: Who makes up the team behind the book?

We’re a five-person team of storytellers, creatives and social justice advocates, scattered across the US, UK, Israel, and the Philippines. It’s been a remarkable process of learning about collaboration, often challenging the ideas of what writing and publishing a book looks like.

For example, we had a truly amazing community of parents, teachers and friends with whom we shared early ideas and stories. We also tested stories with children at our 19-Day Feasts, which gave us invaluable learning to really understand what it is that children respond to, and thus help improve the book. We are so grateful for all the support!

Baha’i Blog: What do you hope your readers will take away with them?

Stories of heroines and heroes who show courage, generosity and humility are powerful. Even more powerful is when a child can see themselves in such a character and aspires to be like them. We hope that these stories will inspire our children’s hearts and minds and, most importantly, their actions, as they themselves grow to be champions of justice!

Baha’i Blog: Where can people get the book?

The book is only available until 12 December 2019. So we invite you to order a few books as gifts for your friends, family and neighbours. You can purchase copies here.

Baha’i Blog: Thank you so much for sharing this with us, and congratulations on putting this book together!

If you’d like a copy of Little Champions of Justice you can find it here.

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Categories: Bahá'í Blogs

How to Turn Your Grief into Creativity

Baha'i Teachings.org - Thu, 11/21/2019 - 10:00am

If you’ve ever grieved over a major loss in life, you know how profoundly painful it can be – so is there a way to creatively transform that pain into...

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Categories: Bahá'í Blogs

At BIC, Bicentenary Celebrations Explore Peace, Oneness of Humanity

Baha'i Teachings.org - Thu, 11/21/2019 - 8:00am

Baha’i International Community offices brought together dignitaries and leaders of international organizations for celebrations of the historic 200th anniversary of the birth of the Bab earlier this month.  The gatherings,...

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Categories: Bahá'í Blogs

Painting the Canvas of the Soul with Our Lives

Baha'i Teachings.org - Wed, 11/20/2019 - 10:00am

Although I’ve read this passage from the Baha’i teachings many times, one day the phrase “the human heart, which is the recipient of the light of God” caught my eye...

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Categories: Bahá'í Blogs

The Story of the Bab and His Radical New Faith

Baha'i Teachings.org - Wed, 11/20/2019 - 8:00am

I love stories, and I suspect most of us do – so I’d like to share some stories about the Bab with you. Even if you know very little about...

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Categories: Bahá'í Blogs

The Farmer: the First Active Agent in Human Society

Baha'i Teachings.org - Tue, 11/19/2019 - 12:52pm

I have worked in agricultural development and agricultural extension in South Africa for four decades, and I’ve learned something profound: it’s the farmer, not the farm.  I started in the...

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Categories: Bahá'í Blogs

Finding Organizations that Fit Your Values

Baha'i Teachings.org - Tue, 11/19/2019 - 8:00am

How can I find organizations or teams that fit with my values?  Similar to the struggle of finding friends and a significant other who complement my beliefs and aims, it...

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Categories: Bahá'í Blogs

Rise Then: A New Album by David Khavari

Baha'i Blog - Mon, 11/18/2019 - 6:20pm

A couple of years ago while I was living in San Francisco, USA, I would occasionally attend a devotional gathering at a friend’s house, and at the very first one I attended, I met a wonderful young Baha’i named David, who would bring his guitar and sing beautiful songs based on the Baha’i Writings.

Just before I left San Francisco, we organized some Baha’i Blog Studio Sessions there, and David came and recorded two songs (which I’ve included at the bottom of this article). After the recordings, he said he wanted to record an album, and so now, in honor of the bicentenary of the Birth of the Bab, I was excited to learn that David did just that, and released a new album called Rise Then.

I got in touch with David to find out more about his music and the album, and here’s what he had to say:

Baha’i Blog: Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your musical background?

My name is David Akhtar Khavari and I’m 26 years old and heading into the last year of my MBA at Stanford University. I sing, play guitar, and write music.

I was born in Northern California and took an interest in music at an early age. Guitar was my first love. For whatever reason, at eight years old I decided guitar was the coolest thing in the world. I started playing around that time and eventually found my way to jazz. After studying jazz guitar for several years, I started to see what it would take to reach a professional level. At that time, I looked around and noticed none of my friends were listening to jazz. I’m pragmatic by nature, so I toned down the intensity of my jazz studies and decided to take up singing because I thought it would be more accessible for and appreciable by others.

In contrast to my experience with guitar, I never had formal singing lessons, but like my experience with guitar, I fell in love with singing early and hard. I learned what I know now mostly through watching YouTube videos and practicing for thousands of hours. It was challenging and it took years for my older brother (also a singer) to find my voice tolerable. It was a great moment when it finally happened.

I recorded my first album at 18, collaborated with an artist signed to Universal over in Europe, and briefly entertained the idea of trying to make it as a professional but ultimately decided against it. As I grew older and got better, it became increasingly apparent that music could be a fulfilling and useful avenue of service.

Baha’i Blog: What is the main idea behind this album and what inspired you?

Post-college, I performed a lot in the Baha’i community and started consistently hosting and playing at musical devotionals. I had set several prayers and Writings to music and ended up performing at gatherings across California. People started to ask me where they could hear my music and I didn’t have a lot of material out there at the time. Around that time, I recorded with Studio Sessions and started to increasingly feel the desire to make my own Baha’i album.

There’s a lot of great Baha’i music available, but one thing I noticed is that it trends toward the extremes. Most of it is either slow and devotional or more akin to standard pop or hip-hop but with Baha’i-inspired lyrics. I felt that there room to create music that feels classic and reverent yet also energizing and accessible.

I remember the moment I decided to make this album like it was yesterday. I was sitting on my couch in Palo Alto a few months before starting graduate school when this feeling rose up inside of me. I shot up from the couch and actually said out loud that I was going to make the album – I know, kind of embarrassing, but it was awesome and cathartic at the same time. This huge realization had suddenly hit me that I’d been putting this off unwittingly for a while and I just felt this massive sense of conviction that I was going to do it.

The goal, from the outset, was to do this as a service. I wanted to serve with my music. I wanted people around the world to listen to this album and to feel uplifted, to feel inspired to be the best versions of themselves. The title of the album, “Rise Then,” which alludes to one of the Hidden Words of Baha’u’llah, is about that. I want people to hear this music and to feel spiritual, to feel magnetically drawn to their highest calling, which I would describe as spiritual and material excellence in the context of the twofold moral purpose. Ultimately, that’s the inspiration for this album.

Baha’i Blog: What has the process of producing this album been like for you personally, and why was it important for you to do it?

Painstaking but fulfilling. I made a commitment at the start that I wanted this album to reach a certain level of quality. I spent about a year working on it on and off.

I recorded in a professional studio in San Francisco and went through over ten rounds of revisions with my producer. I worked with an amazing Baha’i photographer and creative in San Diego, Mobin Maalirad, to create the original album art, which is layered with multiple Baha’i metaphors. I’m in love with it.

To create the cover art lettering, I worked with a Baha’i designer from Vancouver, Saba Taghvai. We also went through probably 20 designs in the process of finding the exact look we wanted, but I’m also really happy with how it turned out.

Personally, I think I experienced a lot of growth making this album. Baha’u’llah loved when people finished what they started, and even though it felt like a big mountain to climb at the beginning, I feel proud that it’s ready now.

Baha’i Blog: What do you hope listeners will walk away with after hearing your music?

I want them to feel uplifted and inspired to live their lives as true Baha’is: as the best and noblest versions of themselves, serving and striving.

Baha’i Blog: What advice do you have to others who want to produce Baha’i-inspired music?

Have a clear vision for what you want to accomplish, prepare to put in a lot of effort, be ready to spend money, and be the arbiter of quality – resist the urge to finalize your music before it’s ready and take the time needed to create what you envision.

Baha’i Blog: Is there anything else you’d like to share?

I’m so happy to share this album with the world. If it positively affects your life in any way, please share it with someone you think it could also help. Much love!

Baha’i Blog: Thanks so much for taking the time to do this interview, David! And thanks so much for the wonderful album!

You can get your copy of ‘Rise Then’ using the following links:

* Spotify
* Apple Music
* Amazon Music
* YouTube

Also, here are the two Baha’i Blog Studio Sessions by David Khavari:

1) “I Adjure Thee by Thy Might” by David Khavari
2) “Repair for Refuge” by David Khavari

Enjoy!

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Categories: Bahá'í Blogs

You Are Who Your Friends Are, So Choose Wisely

Baha'i Teachings.org - Mon, 11/18/2019 - 8:00am

Humans are social creatures, and we learn from observation. We’re designed to imitate who, and even what, we’re surrounded by. The Baha’i Writings explain that humans grow according to the...

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Categories: Bahá'í Blogs

A Thousand Paper Cranes – and Blogs – for Peace

Baha'i Teachings.org - Mon, 11/18/2019 - 8:00am

In August of 1945 an atomic bomb crushed the city of Hiroshima, Japan, and the impact instantly incinerated 80,000 inhabitants, leaving tremendous devastation behind.  Sadako Sasaki was only two. Still...

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Categories: Bahá'í Blogs

Creating the Ultimate Social Change: Inside Ourselves

Baha'i Teachings.org - Sun, 11/17/2019 - 10:30am

Ultimately, the institutions of society, no matter how well-conceived, will fail to function as intended if the people within them are self-serving, dishonest or corrupt. On the other hand, even...

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Categories: Bahá'í Blogs

What Will We Do In the World Beyond?

Baha'i Teachings.org - Sun, 11/17/2019 - 9:16am

Growing up as a Christian child, I used to think that angels sat around all day in heaven plucking and strumming their celestial harps. I thought they had nothing better...

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Categories: Bahá'í Blogs

Milestone for Vanuatu Temple uplifts, galvanizes island

Bahá'í World News Service - Sat, 11/16/2019 - 6:00pm
The people of Tanna, joined by government officials, gathered for a historic groundbreaking celebration for one of the first local Baha’i Houses of Worship in the world.

How Global Governance Can Address Climate Change

Baha'i Teachings.org - Sat, 11/16/2019 - 8:59am

Imagine this – one of the world’s largest countries has a major outbreak of a dread disease, so its government orders a solution: every region of the country should treat...

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Categories: Bahá'í Blogs

Come Along on the Great American Race Unity Road Trip

Baha'i Teachings.org - Fri, 11/15/2019 - 10:30am

What in the world is a Great American Race Unity Road Trip? Like any other road trip, it includes lots of driving, gasoline, bathroom and food stops and an ever-changing...

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Categories: Bahá'í Blogs

Baha’i House of Worship Receives Prestigious International Prize

Baha'i Teachings.org - Fri, 11/15/2019 - 9:23am

The prestigious biennial Royal Architectural Institute of Canada (RAIC) International Prize is not a typical architectural award. An international jury of six highly distinguished architects has to choose a building...

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Categories: Bahá'í Blogs

The Full Religious Life Must Include Science

Baha'i Teachings.org - Thu, 11/14/2019 - 11:45am

The Baha’i Faith has several primary principles relating to science, religion, and development: Religion and Science are inter-twined with each other and cannot be separated. These are the two wings...

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Categories: Bahá'í Blogs

How We Can Build a Green Global Economy

Baha'i Teachings.org - Thu, 11/14/2019 - 8:00am

Growth cannot continue forever in any finite system. Science has shown that all systems have their inherent limits, and that exceeding them only causes overshoot and collapse. But despite our...

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Categories: Bahá'í Blogs

A Tribute to Mr. Ali Nakhjavani

Baha'i Blog - Thu, 11/14/2019 - 7:04am

On 11 October, 2019 the Universal House of Justice shared with the world the news of the passing of one of its former members, Mr. Ali Nakhjavani. The Universal House of Justice wrote:

We mourn the loss of an extraordinary figure who leaves behind a distinguished legacy of uninterrupted service to the Cause of God. In the course of a singularly remarkable life that began in the closing years of the Heroic Age and extended to the very fringes of the second century of the Formative Age, he shone in the firmament of selfless devotion to Baha’u’llah and was called upon to be involved in many a major development in the rise of the Administrative Order, whether as a member of the National Spiritual Assembly of Iran, as an intrepid pioneer to Africa in the Ten Year Crusade, as a member of the African Auxiliary Board when it was first created, as a member of the Regional National Spiritual Assembly of Central and East Africa at its inception, and as a member of the International Baha’i Council when it was first elected, a prelude to his membership on the Universal House of Justice when it was established in 1963. He brought to his decades of monumental service absolute fidelity to his beloved Guardian, an exceptional depth of knowledge of the Cause, leonine commitment to the defence of the Covenant, intense ardour for the teaching work, rare spiritual acuity, and a radiant heart brimming with love for everyone who crossed his path. His was a life of profound spiritual attainment lived at the hinge of history. May his utter consecration, his adamantine faith, and his unswerving dedication to duty inspire generations to come.

I cannot even begin to imagine the thousands of lives he has touched in 100 fully lived years. I was honoured to witness just a glimpse of the love, the respect and immense esteem which a myriad of people have for him and which we will carry throughout our lives, through our difficulties and our days of joy.

One of the interesting qualities of Mr. Nakhjavani is that he never seemed old. I started to know him better when he left Haifa in 2003 when he was already 84 years old – and yet it actually never occurred to me that he was old. There was something quite extraordinary about the way he spoke. He would literally light up, speak with so much enthusiasm, laugh with so much joy, and hug with so much strength, that one would forget everything else.

It’s amazing how even in the last few days of his life, his spirit was strong and his soul sharp, as ever before.

All the years I’ve known him he dedicated his life to young people: to nurture the youth, to strengthen them, and he would take no rest in order to be available, to encourage, support and love the youth in their services and in studying in-depth the Faith. He took this as his mission.

And it was amazing how he would attract the youth just by his presence. In the world we live in today where society easily absorbs the youth in a whirlpool of negative dynamics, it was incredible to witness how Mr. Nakhjavani had the capacity to attract the youth. I remember when he and his beloved wife, Violette, would be in gatherings for Baha’i courses in Acuto. Even after the program had finished and they would just be sitting quietly to rest in a corner of the reception, the youth would slowly, slowly trickle in and sit around them on the carpet and one by one it would become a whole group glued to every word and story, like many kids around the fire listening to the wisdom of the elderly.

Mr. Nakhjavani was tireless. He had indefatigable strength. In all the years in Acuto, day after day, he would encourage the youth to study the Writings, to defend the Cause, but to also stand in unity, to help each other, and to delve into the details and profound ocean of the teachings of the Faith. He was always ready to answer, at any time of the day and night, any question, any query, any doubt, any hesitation to ensure that the younger generations could carry the torch of the Faith forward with certainty and dignity.

He demonstrated in his way of living, in his writing of books and in his daily life, such self-discipline, eye for detail, and meticulous precision and concentration, but also a powerful vision for the future and the capacity to analyze and see profound meaning beyond what the eye could see.

He used to connect the Writings and the spiritual reality of things with everything happening in society, whether with the news or everyday dynamics – uplifting our level of understanding and helping us to discover new meanings, encouraging us to look beyond. It was a continuous search for inner meaning throughout his whole life which really is extraordinary – it is indeed what the House of Justice called his “rare spiritual acuity.”

One of the most cherished parts of his life was spent in Africa. The 10 years he lived there, he travelled throughout the continent in various countries, he sacrificed his comforts, he loved its people, its culture, its spiritual openness, its dignified and simple but powerful response to the message of unity and faith. The years in Africa stayed with him until his last days on this earth, and the times I had the chance to visit him after travelling from Africa, I could see that the love shown to me was truly directed towards the African continent and its people. His heart was in Africa, his thoughts, his preoccupations, his pure love was for the many people he crossed paths with in his years in that torn yet wonderful continent. He loved the genuine character of the people he met, their purity, their joy and their happiness despite their difficulties. His work and tireless service in Uganda, in the remote villages and rural areas, his extraordinary travels with a small car through the crazy muddy roads to traverse various countries with his beloved wife to bring Mr. Olinga to the other side of the continent, the adventures, the crisis, the victories – all of these made his soul fall in love with Africa and created a special bond with the continent which will endure forever.

There are so many people who carry his name in Africa because, as per tradition, if you touch someone’s life, their children are given your name as a tribute, so you will find many people whose first name is Nakhjavani. Most importantly they carry his spirit: the spirit of service and dedication that he has shone forth all these years.

He smiled and laughed aloud when he was told that there are hundreds of little “Nakhjavaniens” in the Congo, at a school which carries his name. The school has even established a Nakhjavani day of rest to pay tribute to his passing into the next world. I received so many messages from friends from various African countries who had never met him, and yet are so inspired by his life.

If one wants to remember Mr. Nakhjavani, one cannot help but also think of his beloved companion throughout his life, dear Mrs. Violette Nakhjavani – together they represented an example of unity, respect and love which is rarely seen.

I still remember how all the youth were so touched when he would stand up, despite his old age, out of respect when Mrs. Nakhjavani was called to speak or would enter the room. It is these actions, demonstrated day after day and with constancy, which are the greatest lessons for all of us.

Mr. Nakhjavani would never want to be remembered without mentioning his beloved parents and his dear brother Jalal. His immense love for his father and especially for his mother is indescribable. Every service, every victory, every success of his life was not claimed by him. He would always mention the blessings of his parents and how grateful he was to them for all their love. I can only imagine the joy of reuniting with them, after so many years of longing.

I will always remember his firmness and yet loving kindness, his detachment and capacity to focus, the incredible strength and convictions. I will remember the patience and humility, the profound calmness and capacity for forgiveness, the self-discipline and tireless efforts and yet the constant encouragement towards others, especially the youth in which he invested day after day, minute after minute. He has been like a compass in my life, with his calmness and forgiveness, with his love and encouragement, to always look ahead and try to do better. He made everyone feel loved and special, despite any failures.

Mr. Nakhjavani used to say “finita la musica” at the end of every talk but as I reflect on his earthly life, so close to the celebration of the bicentenary of the Birth of the Bab, it is timely to think that he has just joined the beginning of a musical piece, a beautiful spiritual concert in the next world.

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Categories: Bahá'í Blogs

UN to Iran: End human rights violations against Baha’is

Bahá'í World News Service - Wed, 11/13/2019 - 6:00pm
Following recent reviews of Iran’s human rights record, the UN General Assembly condemns Iran for its continued attacks against religious minorities, including Baha’is.

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