Jalaliyyih Quinn: Who Are God’s Chosen People?

In Liberia, I was painting and sharing the meanings behind my art with whoever asked. I was completing a series of 4 paintings titled Najibiyyih¹, which was about Ridván, when I was invited to speak about my art at the college where I was teaching.
Jalaliyyih’s home from 1985-1990

The Cuttington University was part of an association of Episcopal colleges and clearly a Christian college.  I was always quiet about my beliefs, unless asked, so a number of the professors knew I was a Baha’i.  I explained to the president of the college and to our college pastor, who was a professor of theology, that it was impossible to speak about my art and not speak about my beliefs – my Baha’i Faith. They assured me that this was fine and that they were open to hearing ideas from other religions.


Cuttington University Administration Building

It was a beautiful hot Saturday afternoon and in the hall there were two stage areas: I was on one – it was level with the audience, and the other was raised at the far end of the room.  The windows had no screen or glass and a breeze was blowing. The room was packed with students and professors, and on the raised stage there were many young men students from the Catholic seminary.   My son, Jesse, and my Liberian son (of my heart, not adopted)  sat behind me where there were open doors on either side of the hall; each son took a door and were praying for my success.   I remember beginning to speak and, with no notes, told about Ridvan and all of the Baha’i principles.  It just flowed and went on and on.   Then the questions began and the President of the college asked me how we saw the Trinity. I paused, then shared my view of how Baha’is looked at the Trinity.
Example of the Style of Jalaliyyih’s Paintings in Liberia

Eventually, after more time and telling, a young man raised his hand and said in a strong voice that was both aggressive and challenging – the tone of “You are going to walk into my trap”…. he asked, “Who are God’s chosen people?”  The whole room gasped….waiting.  
I simply replied, “God’s chosen people are”…. there was total silence here….”The people who choose God.”  The people went wild with applause!  
All of this began from that painting….
In a day or so, the Catholic men studying to become priests invited me to come give a talk at their seminary…. and I did.  But, that is another story.
Want to see more of Jalaliyyih’s artwork? Visit her website https://www.jalaliyyihquinn.org
1 The title is inspired by The Garden of Ridván (literally garden of paradise) or  otherwise known as Najibiyyih Garden.
Mike Moum
Author: Mike Moum

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