A Baha’i friend sent me a wonderful article, introducing me to a new hero who happens to live in Iran.

Yes, I have friends who are Baha’i, and some of them have relatives in Iran.

It’s difficult being in Iran if you’re Baha’i.

You can’t get a good paying job, or a university education.  It’s hard to get even a decent high school education.  And if you’re Baha’i in Iran, you could even go to prison.

A peace-loving religion, Baha’i has its roots in Persia, and is sometimes seen as a threat to some very conservative religious leaders in the area.  This is why Ayatollah Abdol-Hamid Masoumi-Tehrani is one of my new favoritest people.

This religious leader is an important clerical figure in Iran, and is also an accomplished calligrapher and painter.  Uncomfortable “toeing” the party line, Ayatollah Tehrani leads with his conscience and goes where he feels he will do the most good.

One of my favorite messages from the Qur’an is the declaration that God made people to be different – different nations and different tribes – so we could learn to “know each other (not that ye may (despise each other))”.  Qur’an 49:13  And Ayatollah Tehrani celebrates this declaration with his art.

His newest work shows Iran sheltered by the symbols of 8 faiths – Zoroastrians, Jews, Christians, Mandaeans, Yarsanians, Sunni and Shia Muslims, and Baha’i – all of which he declares are “essential aspects of Iran’s national culture”, without any one of which “our national identity would be incomplete”.

My favorite line from his statement on this painting?

“This piece is only complete when all the parts are put together.”

A beautiful work with a powerful message – and true for all of us.

For the complete article sent to me by my friend, please visit here.