Bahá'ís of Ottawa come from a variety of backgrounds, brought together
by a common belief in the oneness of humanity and the unity of
religion. We work alongside others to become a force of positive
change, applying insights from the Bahá'í teachings to bring about a
more just, peaceful and unified community.
Bahá'ís participate in successful Reddit “Ask me Anything” discussion Q&A
session about Bahá'í principles finds a receptive online
The Bahá’í community on Reddit,
a popular social media website, broke new ground recently when it
hosted an online question-and-answer session known as an AMA (“Ask Me
Anything”) on May 13th. Several Ottawa Bahá’ís participated in the
event, which attracted a substantial amount of interest and
wide-ranging discussion about the Bahá'í Faith.
AMAs are one-time events featuring an individual or group of
individuals who field questions from Reddit's userbase. Any user can
ask and vote for their favourite questions, which may range from the
profound to the mundane. The person, or people, giving the AMA then
answer those questions to the best of their ability. Many AMAs focus on
a certain topic, but others, most often ones involving famous people,
are completely open. Those who have given especially well-received AMAs
include U.S. President Barack Obama, naturalist Sir David Attenborough,
Microsoft founder Bill Gates, and astronaut Col. Chris Hadfield.
The Bahá'í AMA took place in a section
of Reddit devoted to religion, as part of a series to allow its users
to discover different faith traditions through discussions with
individual believers. A number of Bahá'ís from around the world
participated, fielding questions from members of many different faith
and non-faith traditions. A wide variety of topics were covered:
Bahá'u'lláh's vision in the Siyáh-Chál; the Bahá'í view of sexuality
and gender identity; progressive revelation; universal auxiliary
language; the unique station of the Báb; Bahá'í beliefs about the
after-life; Bahá'í Holy days; the persecution of Bahá'ís in Iran and
Egypt; and many more.
Those who attended called the event an excellent learning experience.
One Reddit user noted, "I certainly learned quite a bit about Bahá'í
beliefs that I wasn't aware of. My knowledge of the faith was rather
general prior to reading through the explanations. I learned about [the
Bahá'í Faith's] beginnings, the concept of a uniting religion for all
people... I certainly didn't know everything about the different faiths
as much as I thought I did."
Many of the Bahá'ís who attended found that the AMA was an excellent
way to engage in public discourse, and a wonderful way to spread
knowledge of the Faith. Indeed, not long after the AMA was complete, an
article appeared in the Huffington Post
summarizing its contents, entitled "Eight Things We Learned About
Bahá'ís From The Reddit AMA", generating even more interest. Overall,
this event provided a wealth of shared experience that should greatly
advance the Bahá'í community's ability to engage in public discourse on
Approximately 100 youth aged
15-30 gathered on March 1st at the Richelieu Vanier Community Centre
for a full day of consultation, reflection and planning. The energy was
palpable and appropriately accredited to more than just the sheer
number of participants.
The youth came from diverse backgrounds, but had a united vision – to
learn how to become an agent of material and social
transformation. Many of the youth present had participated in
the Toronto Youth Conference in July
2013, one of 114 world conferences organized by the Universal
House of Justice with the aim of building the capacity of
youth to contribute to the development of their communities.
Grouped geographically, the youth had the opportunity to go through
workshops that explored concepts such as what defines a true friendship
and how service can lead to the advancement of society. The last
session was dedicated to planning specific community building
activities that would be carried out in various neighbourhoods across
Ottawa. Participants came together from a number of
neighbourhoods across the City including Barrhaven, Mannotick,
Downtown, Centretown, Sandy Hill, Gloucester, Greenboro, Heatherington,
Kanata, Stittsville, Fairfield Heights, Nepean, and Orleans.
At the end of the day, the youth shared their plans along with artistic
presentations reflecting what they had learned during the day with the
larger group. Examples of activities that the youth planned include:
initiating and strengthening existing Junior Youth Empowerment groups
and children’s classes; holding Arts nights; and extending an
invitation to other youth to join the efforts.
One participant described the day as “a remarkable reminder of the
capacity we have as youth to help transform our community.” Another
noted that she “looks forward to carrying out the plans made and
Award for the Study of Peace and Conflict
For the past several years, the
Local Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of Ottawa has sponsored the
Bahá'í Award for the Study of Peace and Conflict at Saint Paul
University. This award is granted on an annual basis to a deserving
full-time student entering their second
year in the Master of Arts program in Conflict Studies at St. Paul’s.
The Award recognizes academic excellence and a personal and
professional commitment to understanding the root causes of conflict
promotion of non-violent conflict resolution.
This year, Husam Alsousi was chosen to receive this award for his
thesis research entitled “Diverging Perceptions of Palestinian Youth
for the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict.” Mr. Alsousi traveled to
Palestine to conduct his research with groups of university aged
in two different areas. He presented each group with the open ended
question “What is the Palestinian- Israeli conflict?” and from this
question gathered a great amount of information on the opinions of
young people both on this question and also on political affiliation.
The Award was presented by Mr. Fu’ad Foroughi on behalf of the
Spiritual Assembly on Thursday, February 27 at a noon hour seminar.
Following the award presentation, Mr. Alsousi presented his research
and responded to questions.