About The Author
My story starts on the rough streets of a small southern Iranian town named Nayriz and ends on equally rough streets of a tumultuous Harlem in the 1960s. My Nayriz childhood and adolescence involved growing up among a persecuted but highly resilient Baha’i religious minority. Two decades later, I found myself working and somehow thriving amongst like-minded colleagues at the Harlem Prep school to guide hundreds of young African-Americans away from the streets and into college.
My Faith, along with a sense of humor, has been my saviour through all my struggles with the harsh reality of rural Iran as well as with life on the margins of American society as an immigrant.
Throughout it all and amidst misunderstandings of cultural norms (some larger than others) of a new homeland, I worked to maintain my Baha’i and Iranian identities as I gradually (and I would say successfully) settled into the American dream in New York City.
I was a Baha’i in a Shi’a Muslim country, an immigrant in a foreign land, a poor person in New York City, a middle Easterner in the West. All the while, I lived a life full of humorous moments, meeting many colorful personalities from all walks of life, and carving out a path forward filled with love and meaning.
The Calling describes Tahirih (Qurrat al- Ayn), the trailblazing female nineteenth century Iranian poet, theologian and religious-revolutionary leader in a fresh, new manner, juxtaposing and interweaving her life and work with that of her American contemporaries–Mother Ann Lee, Sojourner Truth, Susan B. Anthony, Lucretia Mott, Olympia Brown, Ellen White and Mary Baker Eddy–women whose existence she was probably not aware of, but who shared with her a spiritual bond and vision of progress and justice.
From its founding in 1967, the Harlem Preparatory School attracted the attention of educators in New York City and elsewhere for its innovative educational philosophy and process. Harlem Prep was guided by progressive education principles that promoted individual responsibility and dignity, and community engagement.
A History of the Bábí and Bahá’í Faiths in Nayríz is an inspiring account of the brutal religious persecutions that took place in 1850, 1853, and 1909 in the town of Nayríz, Iran, against its Bábí and Bahá’í residents. During this time, the town’s citizens, spurred on by a corrupt Muslim clergy and government, launched several waves of bloodshed against the Bábís – and later Bahá’ís – who lived there. This type of persecution continues today in present-day Iran toward the Bahá’ís – on a more subtle level – and the history of the Bábís and Bahá’ís in Nayríz serves as a reminder of what can happen when religious fanaticism and paranoia are allowed to replace rational thinking and tolerance.