Seeking Untapped Potential: An Expanding Nucleus in North York

Sara Louie Daliran came to Canada from Iran 15 years ago. Early in her university education, she married her husband, Reza, who is from a Muslim family. Soon after they were married, the couple began studying the books of the Ruhi Institute, and two years later he enrolled in the Faith. Since that time, and now with their two children who are 7 and 10, Sara and Reza have been systematically engaging in the activities with the Iranian diaspora in North York. Their efforts to always widen their circle of friends bring to mind the Universal House of Justice’s description of the process of an “outward-looking orientation”. [1]

Though many friends were coming to their home to study the courses of the Institute and pray together for some time, Sara began praying very earnestly to grow their circle of friends at the time of the 2019 Bicentenary.

“I had been praying for a long time, and I was hopeless. I was thinking, we need to get new people in our group. So after several days of prayer, I saw this woman, Parisa, at the children’s school…When I saw her, I remembered ‘Abdu’l-Baha, and I thought: I have to talk to her.”

The two neighbours exchanged phone numbers and informally texted until Sara invited Parisa and her husband, Babak, to come to their home for refreshments and to learn more about the Baha’i Faith. Six months later, the couple had completed a study of Ruhi Book 1 and with Sara and Reza’s accompaniment, began tutoring their own study circle with other friends of the Faith. 

Throughout the pandemic, the group of friends, who now see themselves as part of an expanding nucleus, continued to study Book 6: Teaching the Cause of God, and the Dawnbreakers. As the couples became closer, Parisa and Babak shared that they believed in God but had been so dismayed by the events in Iran that it was hard to find a faith to connect to. Parisa shared that when she met Sara, she had been actively searching for a religion in which to raise her children. In May of 2020, both Parisa and Babak wrote to request enrollment in the Baha’i Community. These are Parisa’s words:

“It is now my duty to do my best to promote the divine command to those who have been deprived of hearing the truth. Therefore, I request to join the Baha’i community so that I can participate more and more to make a better community.” 

Sara and Reza were very intentional in the way they saw their friends from the outset. Their approach brings to mind the way the Universal House of Justice describes how, in time “there forms a nucleus of friends in a cluster who are working and consulting together and arranging activities. For the process of growth to advance further, the number of people sharing this commitment must rise…”. Sara describes their approach to expanding their nucleus:

“Of course, it was Reza and I at first, but then we tried to add more friends of the Faith to the team. This has always been my tendency. From the beginning, we talked to them about this process of learning, being and doing. When Babak and Parisa started Book 1, we told them we will be expanding this and bringing this to more and more people. I don’t see only Reza and myself as the heart…we are helping others to get empowered. It’s helping us too.”

In January, for her daughter’s tenth birthday, Sara was reflecting on the House of Justice’s directions to draw on any “untapped potential”[2] waiting to be released. With the pandemic, there are so many restrictions, but what potential has yet to be released? This is when she thought of the possibilities before her daughter. Through consulting with her mother, Leili had the idea that perhaps she could start her own children’s devotional, with Parisa and Babak’s children and other schoolmates. Leili’s seven-year-old brother Anis, who is naturally outgoing, often pipes up in the devotionals, asking the group, “What should we talk about with this prayer?” Sara’s searching questions sit at the heart of the efforts of this family and the expanding nucleus around them: “How can I advance myself, without my neighbours or my husband becoming better too? And, what does it mean that our communities are full of untapped potential?”

[1] Universal House of Justice, November 25th, 2020

[2] Universal House of Justice, November 25th, 2020

Get in touch with the neighbourhood team in this story, or share your own learning with Ontario Baha’i here.

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