Sweet enchanting stories

One of the Iranian traditions has been storytelling and recitation. In teahouses, professional storytellers have long practiced this tradition. Gradually, the practice was picked up by families who would pass the time telling stories around the family Kursí, (a traditional Iranian heating system. A charcoal heater is placed under a low table and a huge quilt is draped over the table with seats placed around the table. This serves as a favourite gathering place and the centre of activities on cold evenings) with a grandmother or grandfather assuming the role of storyteller.

When Bahá’u’lláh was in Baghdád, He would often visit teahouses at the riverside, where storytelling took place, in order to promulgate the Cause of God. In my childhood, my grandmother would come from Sháhrúd to Tihrán to visit us once or twice a year. Whenever she came, storytelling around the Kursí was a favorite pastime and she would mesmerize us with fairy tales and stories about the beautiful princess, and stories from the Book of Kings and One Thousand and One Nights. During her stay, the stories would be repeated several times as she would tell them so enchantingly that we would insist upon it even though it was repetitious.

Storytelling has a respected position in Iranian culture; often kings would have court storytellers to keep them entertained in the evenings. Sháh ‘Abbás, the Safavid, would sit in an upper chamber in the Chihil Sutún Palace among his courtiers listening to storytellers’ recitations in a special room down below, equipped with special sound-conveying pipes, carrying the sound to his chamber. Most stories would be epic poetry, often conveying moral messages.

When my sisters, brother and I were older and married and had children, my children would often ask me to tell them stories on long winter evenings. Being weary after the day’s work and concerned that the children attend to their school work I would not usually agree to their request, but on holidays and weekend evenings I would consent and entertain them. Whenever I found Bahá’í story books I would utilize them for this purpose. Time passed; the children grew up and got married and had their own children, blessing me with twelve grandchildren. In 1969 we immigrated to Canada. Now it was the grandchildren who would ask me to tell them stories. As they did not know Persian well, I would often have to use very simple language in telling them stories. Mostly these were Bahá’í stories. Once, a Victoria area Local Spiritual Assembly organizing a gathering asked me to tell a few stories. My presentation was warmly received. Similarly, at a gathering in the presence of Amat’ul-Bahá Rúhíyyih Khánum, I was honored to tell a short Bahá’í story, which received her warm encouragement.

On a trip to the South of France I met a dear old friend, Mr. Amír Farhang Ímání, and shared with him my wish to put together a collection of stories. He encouraged me and gave me a copy of an eight hundred page memoir of Dr. Zíá Baghdádí in Arabic, containing many stories. Dr. Baghdádí had spent some ten years in ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s presence recording his memoirs daily. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá was wont to relate wonderful stories during His conversations and discourses, lifting the spirits of His audience. Dr. Baghdádí recorded these stories. I was much obliged to Mr. Ímání to receive a copy of such a wonderful book.

When I returned to Canada, I asked a few friends to get together once a week, reading and translating stories from these memoirs. When the translation into Persian was nearing completion, it occurred to me to have them translated into English as well, which was accomplished with Ehsan Erfanifar’s assistance. My thanks to him and to Mr. Akbar Fana’ian and Mrs. Naghmeh Rahmánían who assisted with the Arabic-Persian translation, and to Mr. Enayat Bahrami for copy transcription of the stories. It should be noted here that some of the stories have previously appeared in other books but such stories are still enjoyable even repeated. I hope the reader will view this book with forgiving eyes; I am not a writer and my profession entailed working with construction material.

Aziz Rohani

Victoria, Canada

File download: rohani_sweet_enchanting_stories.pdf

Advancing in Baha’i-inspired Education, by SONA FARID-ARBAB

In order to advance significantly in Bahá’í-inspired education, we need to keep in mind Bahá’u’lláh’s extraordinary vision of the human being who will walk this earth in the fullness of time. While being respectful of accomplishments in the field of education, we need to remember that in its present state, it is incapable of cultivating such an individual. Humbled by the realization of the magnitude of the work ahead, a growing number of us, together with other like-minded individuals, have to labor in diverse cultural and ecological settings, identifying educational needs, developing elements of a coherent pedagogy, and creating a series of teaching-learning experiences in which these elements are given practical expression. The experience of the Junior Youth Spiritual Empowerment Program is offered as an example of an endeavor to advance Bahá’í-inspired education in which modest contributions accumulate and lead to significant progress.

Si nous voulons véritablement progresser dans le domaine de l’éducation d’inspiration
bahá’íe, nous devons garder à l’esprit cette vision extraordinaire qu’avait Bahá’u’lláh de ce que deviendra l’être humain ici-bas dans la plénitude des temps. Tout en respectant les réalisations accomplies, souvenons-nous que le système d’éducation actuel n’est pas en mesure d’engendrer un tel être humain. Prenant humblement conscience de l’ampleur du travail à accomplir, nous sommes de plus en plus nombreux à collaborer avec d’autres personnes animées des mêmes valeurs et à œuvrer dans divers contextes écologiques et culturels pour cerner les besoins en matière d’éducation, mettre au point les éléments d’une pédagogie cohérente et créer une série d’expériences d’enseignement/apprentissage qui permettent de concrétiser ces divers éléments. L’expérience du programme d’autonomisation spirituelle des pré-jeunes est présentée comme exemple d’une démarche pédagogique d’inspiration bahá’íe dans laquelle de modestes contributions s’accumulent et mènent finalement à d’importants progrès.

Read the article here: 1143.pdf

Humor: Laachen ass gesond

Ass dat witzeg?

E Grupp vu Wëssenschaftler sinn zu der Konklusioun komm, dass elo de Mënsch sou vill Fortschrëtter gemaach huet an dass Gott net méi gebraucht gëtt.

Ee vun hinnen huet sech e RDV mat Gott geholl a sot: ‘Gott, merci fir alles wat s du fir eis gemaach hues. Mee elo kënne mir de Mënsch klonen a mir maache sou vill wonnerschéi Saachen, dass mir dech net méi brauchen.’

‘Wann der mengt’ äntwert Gott ganz léif. Komm mir maachen eng Kompetitioun fir ze kucken, wien de besche Mënsch maache kann.’

‘An der Rei’ seet de Wëssenschaftler. ‘Wann s de d’accord bass, maache mir dat sou wéi fréier mam Adam’.

‘Kee Problem’ seet de Wëssenschaftler, béckt sech an hëlt eng Handvoll Stëbs.

‘Ah nee’ seet Gott zu him. ‘Sou net, huel du däin eegene Stëbs’.