Borderless Love: The Benefits of Marrying Outside Your Social Group

Ali-Kuli and Florence Khan
Florence and Ali-Kuli Khan. (Image source)

In 1904, Florence Breed and Ali-Kuli Khan married in Boston. Breed was American and Khan was Iranian; their union symbolized East and West uniting in the Bahá’í Faith. When ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, son of the Founder of the Bahá’í Faith, visited the US in 1912, the Khans hosted a luncheon for him in Washington, D. C. There, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá defied social convention by giving Louis Gregory, an African-American Bahá’í, the seat of honor.

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The View from My Ivory Cubicle

Rey’s ambiguous head bobbling mirrors my ambivalence toward questions I have about my life in academia.

I should explain that Rey is a bobblehead of a character from Star Wars Episode VII who stands watch over my desk. I acquired her recently at a conference on digital communication technology and college writing. A keynote speaker, Allen Brizee, used Star Wars as the theme of his talk on community engagement. He has led university programs to help community members cross the “digital divide” between those with access to digital tech and those without. At the end of his speech, he had us check under our seats for a coupon for a bobblehead Rey or Finn. To my surprise, I had the coupon for Rey!

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Prisoners Of Conscience

I have been, most of the days of My life,
even as a slave, sitting under a sword hanging on a thread,
knowing not whether it would fall soon or late upon him.

Bahá’u’lláh, Founder of the Bahá’í Faith, in a letter to the Persian Shah (1868)
Ruins in the Middle East
Ruins in the Middle East | Photo by the author

Recently, my husband and I sat spellbound by The Prophet, a gorgeous film adaptation of the 1923 book of poems by Kahlil Gibran. In the film, the prophetic writer and artist, Almustafa (aka Mustafa), is a prisoner of an oppressive government, confined on a Mediterranean island called Orphalese. While the government is not named, various clues point to the Ottoman Empire. The only crime Almustafa has committed is using his faculty for words to advocate for the common folk—which endangers the authorities’ power.

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A Bahá’í Showcase

Recently, the interfaith center at my university invited religious groups to use the lobby’s display case to feature their ceremonial items for one month each. For the Bahá’í Campus Association, the project posed a perplexing challenge, because Bahá’ís don’t have ceremonial items. We avoid ritual; each Bahá’í individual, each family, each local community, can develop their own traditions to beautify and symbolize the Holy Days. But those traditions should remain flexible and never ossify.

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