Opinion

Entries arguing a particular point of view

Simple 'thank yous' will do

St. Clair lives in Roanoke and studies graphic arts at Virginia Western Community College.

I cook lunch on Sundays for our local Baha'i's children's classes. The other day they were about to begin when I told the kids I had a little story for them before I went off to the kitchen.

I asked them if they had ever had one of those days where nothing goes right and the world seems like it's out to get you.

Several of them raised their hands. Then I asked how it made them feel. One young girl about 9 said those days made her feel mad and sad.

And I said, "Me, too. It makes me want to growl, grumble, snarl, pout, sulk and shout 'life sucks!'"

The kids laughed. I then said that I had been going through quite a few of those days lately and that it had been taking its toll. And, while I was on my way there today, I was growling and grumbling, snarling and pouting, sulking and shouting "life sucks!"

{josquote}If you have no other prayer to offer, thank you will suffice.{/josquote}

The kids laughed again. Then suddenly I remembered a quote I had read recently by a wise man from long ago, Miester Eckhart, (quoted in the cartoon strip "Mutts" over Thanksgiving) that said, "If you have no other prayer to offer, thank you will suffice."

That stopped my growling for a moment because I had to think about it. Then I smiled and whispered, "I have been truly and profoundly blessed ... I thank you," and a wave of peace and calm swept over me and I started grinning ear to ear.

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Court denies Bahais legal recognition

Since there’s been some interest in today’s protest to give Egyptian Bahais full recognition under the law, I am pasting below a press release from the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights, one of the NGOs that has campaigned on the case (they also campaign on behalf of Egyptian Shias as well as anyone else who is discriminated against because of personal belief or condition, as well as work on public health issues.)

The Supreme Administrative Court has unfortunately refused to force the Ministry of Interior to recognize Bahais, echoing the opinion of the Mufti of Egypt Ali Gomaa that Bahais do not deserve recognition — this from a supposedly more open-minded cleric. It’s sad to see such a confluence of bigotry and gestapo mentality: the sheikhs cling on to some abstract idea of what’s a religion or not while the security types are too attached to their system and too obsessed with religion to change the system. Just look how nervous this regime is about the whole Muslim-Coptic thing.

(Update: Don’t miss this story by the wonderful Jailan Zayan or this post by Hossam, who was at the demo had experience a bunch of nastiness first-hand.)

{josquote}In 1924 an Egyptian appeals court recognized the Bahai faith as independent of Islam and therefore worthy of its own categorization.{/josquote}

I think it’s worth highlighting that this is not the first time the issue goes to court. In 1924 an Egyptian appeals court recognized the Bahai faith as independent of Islam and therefore worthy of its own categorization:

“The Bahá’í Faith is a new religion entirely independent…. No Bahá’í therefore can be regarded as Muslim or vice versa, even as no Buddhist, Brahmin or Christian can be regarded as Muslim.”

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Losing their religion (Baha'i and Dry)

In Egypt, computerised ID cards are providing the latest source of discrimination against members of the Baha'i faith.

The Egyptian government - along with many others in the Middle East - requires all citizens to register their religious affiliation. It is a daft and unnecessary infringement of privacy but not a huge problem for most Egyptians.

It's a different matter, though, for about 2,000 Egyptian members of the Baha'i faith. They have suffered various forms of discrimination since the 1960s but the latest problem involves computerised ID cards.

Recently updated software allows only three options in the "religious affiliation" section: Muslim, Christian or Jewish. Attempts to enter "other", "none", or to leave a blank are rejected by the computer - with the result that no ID card can be issued to Baha'is unless they lie about their religion. Without an ID card they effectively become non-citizens.

Earlier this year, two Egyptians, Hossam Ezzat Mahmoud and his wife, took the issue to court and won the right to register themselves and their two daughters as Baha'is. This ruling - hailed by human rights groups as a step forward - upset conservatives and Islamists, so the government decided to appeal.

On Saturday, the higher administrative court overturned the lower court's decision, on the grounds that Baha'ism is not a recognised religion and that Muslims who adopt it are apostates.

{josquote}If Bahaism is officially recognised, worshippers of cows, the sun and fire will want to jump on the bandwagon.{/josquote}

. . .

Meanwhile, Muhammad Abdel Hafez, a columnist on al-Gomhouriya newspaper, has also been fulminating against the Baha'is.

"If Bahaism is officially recognised," he wrote, "worshippers of cows, the sun and fire will want to jump on the bandwagon."

{josquote}Exactly. That's what freedom of belief is all about.{/josquote}

Exactly. That's what freedom of belief is all about.

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Baha'i Camp

Well, I'm back from the Baha'i camp. It was really slack, compared to the other camps I've been to.
 
What's Baha'i?
 
I'm not too sure either, I think it's a religion of sorts where it makes all sorts of references to other religions, though it treats them all equally.
 
So, what is its main objective?
 
It has its focus on character building, and I believe it also covers the attempts to teach people of Life, the Universe, and Everything.
 
Fort--
 
Judging from the books, it doesn't involve 42.
 
Aw.
 
{josquote}...there were also study sessions where we read a book full of quotations of the Baha'i writings and attempt to interpret it.{/josquote}
During the camp, we played a bunch of games with people of all ages, and there were also study sessions where we read a book full of quotations of the Baha'i writings and attempt to interpret it.
 
Did it get boring?
 
Yes, it gets boring at some points. But that's the camp's drawback for being slack.
 
Well, there's no perfect camp.
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A religious New World Order?

Australian blogger Steve Edwards delivers an interesting indictment of, and debate about, Baha'ism.

Found via Samizdata.

{josquote}...a Baha'i told me that it absolutely rejects the reality of evolution.{/josquote}

Personally I lost respect for Baha'ism several years ago when a Baha'i told me that it absolutely rejects the reality of evolution. No ideology can make a positive contribution to human progress if it denies the most fundamental and solidly-established fact in all of science.

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