Saturday, March 26, 2011

The Power of Prayer Impacts All

In an insightful article into the power of prayer published by Newberg Graphic, Jim Ferguson of Newberg Baha'i community writes, "I suspect that each one of us has a story, or many stories, we could share on the impact of prayer in our lives or on the lives of others we know.
These habits of prayer and accounts of their bestowals are not unique to members of only one religion. They are common to all of the great faith traditions.".

Jim then goes on to share several traditions from great world religions about prayer.

Hinduism: “Worship me through meditation in the sanctuary of the heart.” “O Lord of creatures, father of all beings, you alone pervade all that has come to birth. Grant us our heart’s desire for which we pray. May we become the lords of many treasures.”
Zoroastrianism: “The pure whom you have found worthy for their righteousness and their good mind, fulfill their desire, o wise Lord, let them attain it! I know that words of prayer which serve a good end are successful before you.”
Buddhism: “Beings possessed by carnal passions, anger, or infatuation have but to revere and remember the Bodhisattva Kuan Shih Yin and they will be set free from their passions.”
Judaism: “The Lord is near to all who call upon him, to all who call upon him in truth.” “Cast your burden on the Lord, and he will sustain you.”
Christianity: “Pray constantly.” “If anyone is a worshiper of God and does his will, God listens to him.” “But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.”
Islam: “Your Lord says: ‘Call on me, I will answer your prayers,’” “Prayer restrains one from shameful and unjust deeds; and remembrance of God is the greatest thing in life, without doubt.”
Baha’i faith: “The wisdom of prayer is this: That it causeth a connection between the servant and the True One, because in that state man with all heart and soul turneth his face towards his Highness the Almighty, seeking his association and desiring his love and compassion.” “Whoso reciteth, in the privacy of his chamber, the verses revealed by God, the scattering angels of the Almighty shall scatter abroad the fragrance of the words uttered by his mouth, and shall cause the heart of every righteous man to throb.”

Given the global state of unrest currently faced in many countries where basic freedoms we enjoy regarding freedom of speech, worship etc, it is perfect timing this week to pray for our world's leaders to uphold justice and fairness, and for freedom, dignity, honour and divine virtue to be restored to it's peoples.

Here is but one beautiful prayer spoken by His holiness the Bab;
"Is there any Remover of difficulties save God? Say: Praised be God! He is God! All are His servants, and all abide by His bidding!"

Kind regards.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Baha'i programs added to "Call on Faith" app

An article by 'The Religion World' states that a channel for the Baha'i Faith has been added to Odyssey network's "Call of Faith" App for I-Phone.

Other faiths with programs on the Call on Faith app are: United Church of Christ, First Radio Parish Church of America (“Daily Devotions” with Peter Panagore), Chicago Sunday Evening Club (“A Few Good Minutes”), Seventh-day Adventist Church (“Mad about Marriage” and “Voice of Prophecy”), the Episcopal Church, Atlanta Interfaith Broadcasters, and Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers.

Kind regards

~via BlogPress for iPhone

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Naw Ruz and Harmony Day Beffitingly Intertwine.

Dear friends,

Today two of my favourite days co-incide, Naw Ruz and Harmony Day. In Australia on harmony day one typically hears a song which is our national anthem second only to waltzing matilda (he he). It is a song by the seekers "I am Australian" played to images of Australia below.

This song has a beautiful message to it. It states;
"We are one - but we are many, and from all the lands on earth we come.
We share a dream - and sing with one voice.
I am you are, we are Australian"

Although it was made in the context of the Australian nation, it's chorus could very well easily state, "We are all Human" in the place of "We are Australian" just as neatly to fit the context of our global nationhood whereby people of all races, nations, cultures and religions who have themselves seen a great many struggles and batttles in the lead up to this great day for the establishment of the oneness of humanity. It very much reminded me of Baha'u'llah's saying, "The utterance of God is a lamp, whose light is these words: Ye are the fruits of one tree, and the leaves of one branch."

As part of Australia's contribution to International harmony day it has been reported by MICEBTN magazine that Australian harmony day has reached a new Australian record with about 5,500 events registered for Australian harmony day. Perhaps then it will not be so hard to understand why I feel truly blessed to live in such a vibrant, tolerant society as Australia.

On a closing note, below are a couple of pleasant harmony songs of youtube;

-One, a part of an Australian community service announcement.

-Another a delightful contribution by a Methodist girls school in Singapore.

Kind regards :)

(1 Baha'u'llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah, p. 288)

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Critical examination of Islam by the media - fair or not?

In various countries in the west, Islam is relatively misunderstood, and whilst this is no doubt in part due to certain elements within the media blowing the worst examples of people nominally called Muslims out of statistical proportion, It is also equally valid and important to understand that certain actions by the Islamic clergy, particularly where such clergy are prominent members of the mainstream Islamic community in the west, do also at times contribute to these misunderstandings, and for the same reason that the claims of myself or any other member of the wider community are not above subjection to a moderate degree of cynicism, neither are the claims of any Muslim clergy or scholars.

The media, then, fulfills a righteous obligation to report on such things fairly and without bias and the wider public have the right - and in certain cases - the moral obligation, to analyse the sayings of the Islamic clergy (as much as the sayings of everyone else). It is hoped therefore that this expression of opinion will be approached in an open mind and not merely as an anti-islamic and/or islamophobic venting.

Given that the upcoming "60 minutes" investigation into the ridiculous spectacle that is sharia4australia preacher Ibrahim Siddiq-Conlon may have been inspired by the inflammatorily entitled article published by "The Australian" newspaper PM Go and Let the Muslims Take Over (January 20th 2011), let me start by first of all speaking in favour of Australia's Muslims.

Although the article appears to report fairly on what Mr Conlon believes, it doesn't in my opinion take into account what percentage of the Australian Islamic community Mr Conlon's views are representative of. Nor does it state what percentage of Australia's Muslims belong to Mr Conlon's "Sharia4Australia" sect.
For myself I grew up in Roselands over Lakemba side and Mr Conlon is not the first hate preacher in Australian Islam, nor is he likely to be the last. Having said that, these rare groups generally seem to have tiny prayer rooms which fit barely a handful or so of Muslims. They are ususally run without connection to the wider Islamic community on premises that may be in the same suburb as the mosque, but not particularly near it. I don't believe that his views are representative in it's critical aspects of the wider Islamic community. Given that neither himself nor his sect currently even have so much as a wikipedia article on them it seems that a whole TV investigation with the appearance of being designed to alarm and frighten the general Australian public are just giving the fellow undue weight. Surely the article in the paper was more than enough.

Getting back to analysis of the views of prominent mainstream Australian Muslims, The Sydney Morning Herald, in it's article entitled, 'Muslim leader wants elements of sharia in Australia' states that president of the Australian Islamic Mission, Zachariah Matthews wants parts of sharia which he considers not to be in conflict with Australian law/values to be enforced for Muslims as part of an auxiliary legal system running in parallel to the Australian legal system.

An example he gives of a part of sharia law which could be adopted is as follows;
"Under sharia law, if a couple divorce and the mother remarries, her former husband has the right to decide whether the children will live with the new husband or not", "There is still a preference for the child to go with the mother, but the father has the ultimate decision."

This raises certain interesting questions.

How does one objectively decide what is in line with Australian values?
One way is to have elections to decide which leaders are best aligned to the will of the Australian people who then have secular laws enacted which set minimum standards to be practiced by people regardless of whether they wholly believe in the values behind such laws or not.

What happens if a Muslim man divorces a Non-Muslim woman? Which legal system takes precedence at the interface, Australian law or sharia?

How is such an evidently sexist aspect of sharia consistent with the Australian value of the equality of men and women?

How is there a preference for the child to go with the mother if an embittered father has the final decision?

Is such a verdict automatically in favour of the final decision being with the father? If not what are the exceptions?

Why should taxpayer's money be wasted on unnecessary duplication of the legal system?

Why should there be one law for Muslims and another law for others?

If certain aspects of sharia really are consistent with Australian laws/values (instead of being contradictory) why the need to have a seperate legal system in the first place given that Muslims could comply with such aspects of sharia simply by following the Australian laws which are (allegedly) consistent with it?

These questions are only a small part of a long list of potential questions which would need to be answered before a seperate sharia could even be considered properly for satire - how much longer the list in need of answer for such a suggestion to be taken seriously!

Finally I don't wish to leave you with the impression that there are no authenticly peaceful Muslims in the west. There are and it would be nice to see some media coverage for them also.

One good example of many that could be found for media coverage is the reflective introspection entitled 'A Memo to American Muslims' by the distinguished M. A Muqtedar Khan. Perhaps interviews and encouragement could be given to this distinguished leader of the Islamic community who has dedicated himself to upholding justice without holding an excessive level of regard for hypocrites just because they call themselves by a name to deceive people.

Kind regards.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Interfaith bonding in Maroondah - Local News - News - Maroondah Leader

Dear Friends,

If you are looking for an exciting afternoon spend befriending new people whilst experiencing great music, outstanding dance performances and poetry all centred around worship, tolerance and acceptance, why not meet up with the other awesome people at 3pm today at the Karralyka Centre on Mines Road at Ringwood East (Maroondah Victoria) for their exciting Interfaith bonding event reported courtesy of the "Maroondah Leader".

Kind regards.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

India's Lotus Baha'i temple reaches 25th anniversary on Sunday 25th!

The Hindustan Times reports that on this Sunday 20th of March the Lotus Baha'i temple will be turning 25.

It will be celebrated by an evening of cultural programs on Monday the 21st (co-inciding with Naw Ruz) which will be open to all.

So if you are in Kalkaji (in Delhi), India on Monday evening, why not drop by and enjoy the spectacular programme put on by some of India's 1.8-2 million Baha'is?

Kind regards.

Great Idea - Religion and Ethics Calendar

Dear friends,

If you are the kind of person who loves to be in the know about where all the good celebrations, talks and events are themed around faith and ethics, check out this excellent religion and ethics calendar put together by one of San Diego's most switched on reporters - Linda Mcintosh.

Kind regards.