By Hana Ashchi, Better Together @ UNF President, Interfaith Center Student Assistant
Better Together and the Interfaith Center hosted yet another Coffee and Conversation welcoming the humble Dr. Ed Larbi; a professor here at UNF who just so happens to be a member of the Baha’i Faith. With the safe space guidelines intact, Dr. Larbi proceeded to share his wonderful story, for the first 15-20 minutes, of how he had heard about the Baha’i Faith back in his homeland of Ghana, West Africa.
Being a Baha’i myself, I am always curious to hear about how other Baha’i’s share how they became a part of the faith and what sparked their interest. Being part of the Faith my whole life, I didn’t have a story to share about how “I was once a Christian and then decided to become a Baha’i,” or “I was never sure what to believe in until I heard about the faith.” So listening to Dr. Larbi speak, I could feel his passion and warmth when he shared his story. He talked about how he was born into a Christian family and was not really interested in the Faith when he first heard about it. His wife’s aunt and her husband were both Baha’is but that didn’t really catch Dr. Larbi’s attention.
It wasn’t until he had to translate for a Malaysian man, when he really understood what the Faith was about and its core principles. He began to agree with this religion and found an interest in the values and morals the Baha’i Faith had to offer. My whole life I grew up in a household where we carried these morals and beliefs very strongly. I was so excited about the opportunity for other students and faculty to not only understand this religion and Dr. Larbi and who he was, but a better understanding for me to figure out who I am and what it actually means to be a Baha’i.
Following the story, the floor was opened up for an interesting Q & A portion for this week’s guests. Everyone had interesting and in-depth questions and seemed to get a general understanding of this somewhat “unknown” religion. They showed acceptance and curiosity within our Safe Space Guidelines which made the environment much more pleasant for us to speak and carry on great discussions.
My most favorite topic to talk about, Life after Death, was brought up and it is always interesting to hear other points of view. Larbi states that all of us are born with a soul. What we do in this world prepare us for the life we have afterwards. No one is clear as to where our souls go after death. The only evidence of heaven and hell is what we experience on earth. When we do positive things in our life, we feel as if we are in a heaven, and when we do negative things in our life, we feel as if it is a place of hell we are living in. If you think about it, Dr. Larbi makes an interesting point. Who are we to know for sure what is held in the after life? I believe we can only rely on our deeds and actions that we do in this lifetime to hope for a better life after death.