Monthly Reflection – Rahmat (Mercy): On Honouring the Past and Looking to the Future

The dictionary defines mercy as compassion or forgiveness to someone who has the power to punish or cause harm. To me, mercy is defined by that well-known gesture of an innocent young girl who kissed the noose that executed her.

That sweet-singing young woman and the other nine women of Shiraz hanged 40 years ago have been close to my heart this last Baha’i month. With your permission, I would like to call them all to mind:

  • Mona Mahmoudnejad
  • Shahin (Shirin) Dalvand
  • Ezzat-Janami Eshraghi
  • Roya Eshraghi
  • Zarrin Moghimi-Abyaneh
  • Mahshid Niroumand
  • Simin Saberi
  • Tahereh Arjomandi Siyavushi
  • Akhtar Thabit (Sabet)
  • Nosrat Ghufrani Yaldaie

We attempted to briefly tell their story, and to share how we are all connected to it, in this video:

The past Baha’i month also covered World Refugee Day on June 20th and to mark that occasion, and to further lend momentum to the the #OurStoryIsOne global awareness campaign spearheaded by the Baha’i International Community, we shared Manya’s story of revolution, faith, loss and escape:

In pausing and reflecting on the killing of these innocent women, I also cannot but wonder at how far the Baha’i community has advanced and the strides that have been taken in the last 40 years. The Baha’i World News Service has released a fascinating new podcast series called “In Conversation” and we have been adding every episode to the audio section of Baha’i Blog. You can hear about how communities are contributing to social transformation, how attitudes towards women and girls are shifting, how education is being provided, how community schools are safe havens, and how youth are championing change.

Collis also shared with us what children’s class means to him and why he thinks it matters. The levity and joy of his simple animation makes me ponder how Mona was executed for teaching children’s class, and how such classes now number in the thousands, are taught by scores of friends, and take place all over the world.

In thinking about the progress of the last 40 years, it can also be inspiring to think even further back: for example, Aaron Blomeley kindly shared with us his recollections of the 1958 Intercontinental Conference in Sydney. The construction of the House of Worship in Sydney feels like a touching metaphor for other advances made but what I cherish about Aaron’s article is what has stayed the same: the joy and sustenance derived by gathering together, exchanging stories, and delighting in one another’s love for sharing the teachings of the Faith.

Image courtesy of the Baha’i International Community

This coming month of Rahmat will see the commemoration of the Martyrdom of the Bab and if you’re preparing to honour that anniversary, you might wish to explore the special collection of resources that we’ve put together.

Thank you for joining me on this monthly reflection!

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Sonjel Vreeland

In her innermost heart, Sonjel is a stay-at-home parent and a bookworm with a maxed out library card but professionally she is a museologist with a background in English Literature. She currently lives on Prince Edward Island, an isle in the shape of a smile on the eastern Canadian coast. Sonjel is a writer who loves to listen to jazz when she’s driving at night.

Sonjel Vreeland

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