A short bio of Alison Elizabeth Marshall
I have been a follower of Baha’u’llah for over 40 years. During my teenage years, I was told, first, by a man who read my tarot cards and, later, by a man who read my palm, that when I was older I would discover great religious truths. I believe I found those truths in the religion founded by Baha’u’llah.
I first learned about him in 1980, when I was 20. At the time, I had pretty much made a mess of my life. I was trapped, unhappy and lost. While hitchhiking one day, I was picked up by a couple who told me about Baha’u’llah. A few months later, I came to believe in him and began to apply his teachings to my life. In the following decades, Baha’u’llah supported me through many difficulties and steered me to my life’s purpose.
I went through a very stressful and confusing time – pulling myself together and learning to stand on my own two feet. I went to university, bought a house and raised my daughter. Ten years later, I had a Bachelor of Arts and a Bachelor of Laws. I married and began my career as a business writer, becoming a joint owner of the company I worked for. I am now retired from that, have moved to the country and am writing for myself.
None of that would have happened had I not learned about Baha’u’llah and applied his guidance to my life. I read in his writings that he believed in me, and that if I worked with him, he would help me achieve worthy things in life. So now I am writing my book about the things he has taught me, in the hope that they will benefit others too.
I am also working on creating resources that will make connecting with Baha’u’llah easy for people. For much of the 40 years that I have known about Baha’u’llah, there was no such thing as websites, YouTube, Facebook or apps. I learned everything from reading books. But now, it is possible to listen to Baha’u’llah’s words read aloud for free, or to download them for free, and to connect with others around the world who are into the same thing.
Off and on over the last 20 years, I have studied classical Arabic, so that I can read the actual words Baha’u’llah wrote and not a translation of them. It has been a gritty battle in perseverence. In the scheme of things, Arabic is one of the most difficult languages for an English-speaking person to learn. I struggled to get on top of it. My confidence was low. But then a new textbook came out, which enabled me to make progress: Alan Jones: Arabic Through the Qur’an. The Islamic Texts Society, 2005. And after that, I discovered several YouTube channels that are dedicated to teaching Qur’anic Arabic. It was the first time I had an Arabic teacher! With much care and attention, I can now translate small passages from Baha’u’llah’s writings, which I am including in my book.
In March 2000, the Universal House of Justice (head of the global Baha’i community) instructed the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’is of New Zealand (the group of nine Baha’is who administer Baha’i community affairs in New Zealand), to remove my name from the community’s membership rolls. This meant that I was no longer considered a member of the Baha’i community, and all contact with me by the community ceased. My close friends remained, but the community moved on. This experience was a turning point in my religious life, for I learned how to be a follower of Baha’u’llah in isolation from other believers. This lead to a new understanding of Baha’u’llah’s teachings, which I have tried to capture in my book Paradise of Presence. I have written about the events associated with my expulsion. The details can be found here.