Speeches

PRIVATE MEMBERS’ BUSINESS – BAHA’I FAITH - MONDAY, 16 SEPTEMBER 2019

September 16, 2019

HANSARD

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

PARLIAMENT HOUSE, CANBERRA

MONDAY, 16 SEPTEMBER 2019

PRIVATE MEMBERS’ BUSINESS – BAHA’I FAITH

I too rise to support the motion by the Member for Stirling and thank him for bringing this motion to the House. I would like to start with a quote from Baha'u'llah, the founder of the Baha'i faith:

"It is not for him to pride himself who loveth his own country, but rather for him who loveth the whole world. The earth is but one country, and mankind its citizens."

That's one of my favourite quotes, because it speaks to the universality of the human race unfettered by the imagined borders of nationhood and the constructed boundaries of race. Indeed, this quote, to my mind, embodies the Baha'i faith's core principles of inclusivity, of public service and of peacefulness, as noted in the motion of the Member for Stirling.

My first interaction with the Baha'i faith came when I was just a young university student and one of my classmates of Persian origin was a Baha'i. It was through him that I first learned about the persecution and the suffering of the Baha'i people in what is now known as Iran. A few years ago, my family were invited to attend the wedding of one of my son's best friends. At Natasha's wedding to Crawford, we witnessed firsthand and were overwhelmed by the beauty of the ceremony for its spirituality and for its community focus. I'm privileged to have an active Baha'i community in Cowan and have attended several of their functions.

In October this year, the Baha'i community will be celebrating the 200th anniversary of the birth of the Bab. It's an opportunity to learn more about this beautiful faith and of its teachings. It's also an opportunity to raise awareness of the continued suffering and persecution of Baha'is across the world. Baha'u'llah, meaning the glory of god, endured 40 years of imprisonment and exile for bringing a new revelation to humanity. And even today, the Baha'is are among the most persecuted religious minorities in the world. In Iran the universities refuse to admit Baha'i students, Baha'i cemeteries have been destroyed and the country's Supreme Leader has confiscated properties from Baha'i families. Baha'is have also been discriminated against and persecuted in Yemen and elsewhere.

But despite this, and perhaps as a testimony to the resilience and beauty of the Baha'i faith, the faith has spread across the globe. Indeed, at a function I attended in Cowan last year, I observed people from all walks of life and all backgrounds coming together in spiritual and communal harmony. There are more than 100,000 local Baha'i communities around the world, and we are all richer for them. Their commitment to peace and harmony stems from the words of Baha'u'llah. He wrote many passages and books about the spiritual and social principles needed to construct a peaceful and just global civilisation, and these writings form the scriptures of the Baha'i faith.

On 20 October, the Baha'i community of Swan will be celebrating the anniversary of their founder at the Vines Resort. I wish them all the best for their function and would like to make special mention of Rashel from the Swan Baha'i community and Margaret and Hoda of the Wanneroo Baha'i community. I would also like to acknowledge Dr Natalie Mobini and Shephali of the Australian Baha'i community, whom I have had the pleasure of meeting on several occasions and who are present in the gallery here this morning.

For those of us who are searching for guidance in this place, there are many words of Baha'u'llah that I think would serve us well. In searching for guidance in the words of Baha'u'llah, I found these wonderful words of wisdom which I'd like to share in closing:

"Be generous in prosperity, and thankful in adversity. Be worthy of the trust of thy neighbor, and look upon him with a bright and friendly face. Be a treasure to the poor, an admonisher to the rich, an answerer of the cry of the needy, a preserver of the sanctity of thy pledge. Be fair in thy judgment, and guarded in thy speech. Be unjust to no man, and show all meekness to all men. Be as a lamp unto them that walk in darkness, a joy to the sorrowful, a sea for the thirsty, a haven for the distressed, an upholder and defender of the victim of oppression."