April 27, 2017

A PowerPoint presentation of some teachings of the Baha’i Faith

This document was used along with some background instrumental music, as part of the First Day Ridvan celebration in one community. Readers were assigned for some quotes to make the experience more interactive.

April 26, 2017

Helping the needy

Regarding the question you raised: in the first place every believer is free to follow the dictates of his own conscience as regards the manner in which he should spend his own money. Secondly, we must always bear in mind that there are so few Bahá'ís in the world, relative to the world's population, and so many people in need, that even if all of us gave all we had, it would not alleviate more than an infinitesimal amount of suffering. This does not mean we must not help the needy, we should; but our contributions to the Faith are the surest way of lifting once and for all time the burden of hunger and misery from mankind, for it is only through the System of Bahá'u'lláh — Divine in origin — that the world can be gotten on its feet and want, fear, hunger, war, etc., be eliminated. Non-Bahá'ís cannot contribute to our work or do it for us; so really our first obligation is to support our own teaching work, as this will lead to the healing of the nations. 
- Shoghi Effendi  (From a letter dated 8 December 1947 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, published in "Bahá'í News" 210, August 1948; The Compilation of Compilations, vol. I, Baha’i Funds and Contributions)

April 23, 2017

Baha'u'llah delineates “the fundamental principles for the administration of the affairs” of humanity

Whilst in the Prison of Akká, We revealed in the Crimson Book that which is conducive to the advancement of mankind and to the reconstruction of the world. The utterances set forth therein by the Pen of the Lord of creation include the following which constitute the fundamental principles for the administration of the affairs of men:

First: It is incumbent upon the ministers of the House of Justice to promote the Lesser Peace so that the people of the earth may be relieved from the burden of exorbitant expenditures. This matter is imperative and absolutely essential, inasmuch as hostilities and conflict lie at the root of affliction and calamity.

Second: Languages must be reduced to one common language to be taught in all the schools of the world.

Third: It behoveth man to adhere tenaciously unto that which will promote fellowship, kindliness and unity.

Fourth: Everyone, whether man or woman, should hand over to a trusted person a portion of what he or she earneth through trade, agriculture or other occupation, for the training and education of children, to be spent for this purpose with the knowledge of the Trustees of the House of Justice.

Fifth: Special regard must be paid to agriculture. Although it hath been mentioned in the fifth place, unquestionably it precedeth the others...

April 20, 2017

Meaning of self-sacrifice...

Regarding the questions you asked: self has really two meanings, or is used in two senses, in the Bahá'í writings; one is self, the identity of the individual created by God. This is the self mentioned in such passages as "he hath known God who hath known himself", etc. The other self is the ego, the dark, animalistic heritage each one of us has, the lower nature that can develop into a monster of selfishness, brutality, lust and so on. It is this self we must struggle against, or this side of our natures, in order to strengthen and free the spirit within us and help it to attain perfection.

Self-sacrifice means to subordinate this lower nature and its desires to the more godly and noble side of our selves. Ultimately, in its highest sense, self-sacrifice means to give our will and our all to God to do with as He pleases. Then He purifies and glorifies our true self until it becomes a shining and wonderful reality. 
- Shoghi Effendi  (From a letter dated 10 December 1947 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer; The Compilation of Compilations, vol. II, Living the Life)

April 17, 2017

Imitations and superstitions have obscured the Reality of Divine Religion

...humanity is submerged so utterly in imitations, although the Reality of Divine Religion is ever the same. Most regrettable is it that superstitions have obscured the Reality, so that the world has become darkened and the illumination of Religion is not apparent. This darkness is conducive to differences because dogmas and rites are various and have become the cause of discord between the religious systems whereas Religion is for the unification of mankind. Religion is the cause of love amongst men, the cause of amity, the cause of the acquisition of praiseworthy qualities, but people have become submerged in the sea of imitation, and holding to these counterfeits, are utterly negligent of the Reality which unifies and are bereft of the radiance of Religion. They are holding to superstitions which are a heritage from their fathers and ancestors. To the extent that these imitations have caused darkness, they have taken away the light of Religion. That which was meant to be conducive of life has become conducive of death; that which was an evidence of knowledge has become a proof of ignorance; that which was a factor in the sublimity of human nature has proved to be a cause of its degradation. Therefore, the realm of the religionist has gradually disappeared and become darkened and the world of the materialist has daily advanced. For that which the former held to was no other than counterfeit or imitation, while holiness and sacred Reality of Religion was neglected and discarded.

April 13, 2017

Aims and ambitions of Bahá'ís...

  • Pity and good-will towards all mankind.
  • The rendering of service to humanity.
  • To guide and enlighten hearts.
  • Each member must try to be kind to everyone and to show forth great affection towards every living soul.
  • Humility towards God and constant prayer to Him so as to be enabled to grow daily "Nearer God".
  • Always in every word and action to be faithful and sincere, so that each member may be known to the world as embodying the qualities of Sincerity, Faith, Kindness, Love, Generosity and Bravery. That we may be detached from all that is not God, attracted by the Heavenly Breath, divine beings - so that the world may know that a Bahá'í is a perfect being.
- ‘Abdu’l-Baha  (Notes of words of ‘Abdu’l-Baha, 6 November 1911, Paris, France: compilation: ‘Discourses of ‘Abdu’l-Baha in London and Paris’; Star of the West, vol. 2, no. 19, March 2, 1912)

April 11, 2017

The Pathway of Religion…

The… pathway… of religion… is the pathway of the Divine realm. It involves the acquisition of praiseworthy attributes in the world of humanity, heavenly radiance and commendable actions. This pathway is conducive to the progress and upliftment of the world. It is the source of the illumination of the world of humanity; the cause of human training and ethical improvement. It is the magnet which attracts the love of God, because of the knowledge of God it bestows. This is the foundation of the Holy Manifestations of God, for they are in reality the foundation of the Divine Religion of Oneness. There is no change or transformation in this pathway. It is the cause of human betterment, the acquisition of heavenly virtues, and illumination of human kind. 
- 'Abdu'l-Baha  (From a talk, June 9, 1912, Baptist Temple, Philadelphia; Star of the West, vol. 5, no. 7, July 13, 1914)

April 9, 2017

"What is a functioning Local Spiritual Assembly"?

The first Bahá’í Local Spiritual Assembly in Samoa, 1957
In reply to your letter of July 14th asking guidance as to what is a functioning Local Spiritual Assembly, we offer you the following comments:

Local Spiritual Assemblies are at the present newly-born institutions, struggling for the most part to establish themselves both in the Bahá'í community and in the world. They are as yet only embryos of the majestic institutions ordained by Bahá'u'lláh in His Writings This is also true of National Spiritual Assemblies. In the following passage written by the Secretary of the Guardian on his behalf this point is elucidated:

The Bahá'í Administration is only the first shaping of what in future will come to be the social life and laws of community living. As yet the believers are only just beginning to grasp and practise it properly. So we must have patience if at times it seems a little self-conscious and rigid in its workings. It is because we are learning something very difficult but very wonderful -- how to live together as a community of Bahá'ís, according to the glorious teachings."

April 5, 2017

Our “vain imaginations have been split asunder” by the “most exalted Word” of God brought to humanity by Baha’u’llah

Do Thou, then, ordain for them that which Thou didst ordain for Thy chosen ones and for the righteous among Thy creatures, whose constancy in Thy Cause the tempests of trials have failed to shake, and whom the tumults of tests have been powerless to hinder from magnifying Thy most exalted Word—the Word through Which the heavens of men’s idle fancies and vain imaginations have been split asunder. Thou art, verily, the Almighty, the All-Glorious, the All-Knowing. 
- Baha’u’llah  (Extract from a prayer; ‘Prayers and meditations by Baha’u’llah’) 

April 2, 2017

Divinity can only be approached through the Manifestations of God – a brief compilation by Hand of the Cause Mr. Furutan

The Báb has stated in the Persian Bayan:

“Verily, whatsoever hath been revealed by God about attaining His presence or that of the Lord, is intended to be a reference to none other than Him Whom God shall make manifest [Bahá’u’lláh] inasmuch as God Himself cannot be seen.” (III, 7.)

“Whatsoever hath been mentioned in the Holy Books about attainment unto His Presence, referreth to the Presence of Him Who appeareth in His Manifestation; that is, He Who is the Point of Truth, Who is and hath been the Primal Will. (ibid.)

“And those people whom thou seest calling upon God, and who, between themselves and God, think of themselves as virtuous, are, one and all, lost in the realms of their idle fancies and vain imaginings. They call upon One Who is unknown to them. (The Báb, Kitáb-i-Panj-Sha'n)

And the Blessed Beauty has said:

March 27, 2017

“one way every Bahá'í can spread the Faith”

Not all of us are capable of serving in the same way, but the one way every Bahá'í can spread the Faith is by example. This moves the hearts of people far more deeply than words ever can.

The love we show others, the hospitality and understanding, the willingness to help them, these are the very best advertisements of the Faith. They will want to hear about it when they see these things in our lives. 
- Shoghi Effendi   (From a letter dated 17 March 1943 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer; The Compilation of Compilations, vol. II, Living the Life)

March 18, 2017

Prayer for Assistance - “each one who endeavors for the erection of the House of the Lord”

1920 -- Boring commenced at the 
site of Mashriqu'l-Adhkar, Chicago
O God! O God! I implore Thee with throbbing heart and streaming tears, to aid each one who endeavors for the erection of the House of the Lord (Mashriqu’l-Adhkar), the Building wherein Thy Name is mentioned every morn and eve. Send down Thy benediction on whomsoever endeavors for the uprising of this Edifice among the sects and religions, and confirm him in every good deed of mankind; open the doors of riches and wealth unto him and make him an inheritor of the treasures of the Kingdom which perish not; make him the sign of giving among the peoples and reinforce him by the sea of Thy generosity and bounty, which is surging with the waves of grace and favor.

Verily, Thou art the Generous, the Merciful and the Bountiful!

‘Abdu’l-Baha  (Star of the West, vol. 5, no. 5, June 5, 1914)

March 14, 2017

To “realize our imperfection”

We must realize our imperfection and not permit ourselves to get too upset over the unfortunate things which occur, sometimes in Conventions, sometimes in Assemblies or on Committees, etc. Such things are essentially superficial and in time will be outgrown. 
- Shoghi Effendi  (From a letter dated 17 March 1943 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer; The Compilation of Compilations, vol. II, Living the Life)

March 9, 2017

To free oneself from “worldliness in its essence”

Say:  He from whom, in this day, the sweet savours of the remembrance of His Lord, the All-Merciful, have not been diffused, is indeed unworthy of the station of man. He, verily, is of them that have followed their own desires, and shall erelong find himself in grievous loss. Doth it behove you to relate yourselves to Him Who is the God of mercy, and yet commit the things which the Evil One hath committed? Nay, by the Beauty of Him Who is the All-Glorified! could ye but know it. Purge your hearts from love of the world, and your tongues from calumny, and your limbs from whatsoever may withhold you from drawing nigh unto God, the Mighty, the All-Praised. Say: By the world is meant that which turneth you aside from Him Who is the Dawning-Place of Revelation, and inclineth you unto that which is unprofitable unto you. Verily, the thing that deterreth you, in this day, from God is worldliness in its essence. Eschew it, and approach the Most Sublime Vision, this shining and resplendent Seat. Blessed is he who alloweth nothing whatsoever to intervene between him and his Lord. No harm, assuredly, can befall him if he partaketh with justice of the benefits of this world, inasmuch as We have created all things for such of Our servants as truly believe in God. 
- Baha'u'llah  (Tablet to Napoleon III, Suriy-i-Haykal [Tablet of Temple]; ‘The Summons of the Lord of Hosts’)

March 3, 2017

April 1930: Martha Root with Baha'is of Shiraz, Iran

Martha Root (standing, back row, center) was the honored guest at a celebration for the Twelfth Day of Ridvan, Shiraz, Iran, 1930

March 1, 2017

The “sun” and “moon” of the “religion of God”

Verily, the religion of God is like unto heaven; fasting is its sun, and obligatory prayer is its moon.
- Baha’u’llah  (Compilation: 'The Importance of Obligatory Prayer and Fasting', prepared by the Research Department of the Universal House of Justice)

February 28, 2017

The training of girls – a broad outline by the Master

Praised be God, the women believers have organized meetings where they will learn how to teach the Faith, will spread the sweet savours of the Teachings and make plans for training the children.

This gathering must be completely spiritual. That is, the discussions must be confined to marshalling clear and conclusive proofs that the Sun of Truth hath indeed arisen. And further, those present should concern themselves with every means of training the girl children; with
  • teaching the various branches of knowledge,
  • good behaviour,
  • a proper way of life,
  • the cultivation of a good character,
  • chastity and constancy,
  • perseverance, strength,
  • determination,
  • firmness of purpose;
  • with household management,
  • the education of children, and
  • whatever especially applieth to the needs of girls—to the end that these girls, reared in the stronghold of all perfections, and with the protection of a goodly character, will, when they themselves become mothers, bring up their children from earliest infancy to have a good character and conduct themselves well.
  • Let them also study
    • whatever will nurture the health of the body and its physical soundness,
    • and how to guard their children from disease.
When matters are thus well arranged, every child will become a peerless plant in the gardens of the Abhá Paradise. 
- ‘Abdu’l-Baha  (‘Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Baha’)

February 22, 2017

Relationship of Spiritual Assembly to individual believers

In its relationship to the individual believer, the Assembly should
  • continuously invite and encourage him to study the Faith,
  • to deliver its glorious message,
  • to live in accordance with its teachings,
  • to contribute freely and regularly to the Fund,
  • to participate in community activities, and
  • to seek refuge in the Assembly for advice and help, when needed.
- The Universal House of Justice  (From a letter to the National Spiritual Assembly of Bolivia, July 30, 1972; compilation: Lights of Guidance)

February 19, 2017

An ode from Rúmí Baha’u’llah wrote for one of the believers – ‘Abdu’l-Baha narrates

When Bahá’u’lláh departed from Baghdád, and traveled to Rumelia, the friends remained behind. The inhabitants of Baghdád then rose up against those helpless believers, sending them away as captives to Mosul. Ustád [Ismá’íl] was old and feeble, but he left on foot, with no provisions for his journey, crossed over mountains and deserts, valleys and hills, and in the end arrived at the Most Great Prison. At one time, Bahá’u’lláh had written down an ode of Rúmí’s [a famous Persian poet] for him, and had told him to turn his face toward the Báb and sing the words, set to a melody. And so, as he wandered through the long dark nights, Ustád would sing these lines:

I am lost, O Love, possessed and dazed,
Love’s fool am I, in all the earth.
They call me first among the crazed,
Though I once came first for wit and worth.

O Love, who sellest me this wine, [1]
O Love, for whom I burn and bleed,
Love, for whom I cry and pine—
Thou the Piper, I the reed.

If Thou wishest me to live,
Through me blow Thy holy breath.
The touch of Jesus Thou wilt give
To me, who’ve lain an age in death.

Thou, both End and Origin,
Thou without and Thou within—
From every eye Thou hidest well,
And yet in every eye dost dwell.

February 16, 2017

Baha’u’llah’s faithful brother describes his first impression of Mulla Husayn

When Mulla Husayn arrived in Tihran [circa 1848] he was visited by many believers. Nabil, the great Baha’i historian recorded what he himself heard from Áqáy-i-Kalím, Bahá’u’lláh’s faithful brother, about Mulla Husayn:

“When Mulla Husayn arrived at Tihran, I, together with a large number of believers, went to visit him. He seemed to us the very embodiment of constancy, of piety and virtue. He inspired us with his rectitude of conduct and passionate loyalty. Such were the force of his character and the ardour of his faith that we felt convinced that he, unaided and alone, would be capable of achieving the triumph of the Faith of God.”
- Nabil  (‘The Dawn-Breakers’, translated and edited by Shoghi Effendi)

February 13, 2017

Courtesy – “the prince of virtues”

O people of God! I admonish you to observe courtesy, for above all else it is the prince of virtues. Well is it with him who is illumined with the light of courtesy and is attired with the vesture of uprightness. Whoso is endued with courtesy hath indeed attained a sublime station. It is hoped that this Wronged One and everyone else may be enabled to acquire it, hold fast unto it, observe it, and fix our gaze upon it. This is a binding command which hath streamed forth from the Pen of the Most Great Name. 
- Baha’u’llah  (Lawh-i-Dunya [Tablet of the World]; ‘Tablets of Baha’u’llah revealed after the Kitab-i-Aqdas’)

February 10, 2017

Designer of the House of Worship in 'Ishqabád

Mr. ... refers to statements concerning the designer of the House of Worship in 'Ishqabad, which are contained in "The Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh", vol. 4, p. 122, by Mr. Taherzadeh and in Mr. Balyuzi's "'Abdu'l-Bahá: The Centre of Bahá'u'lláh's Covenant", pp. 109-110. In the former, mention is made of the fact that 'Abdu'l-Bahá conceived a plan for a nine-sided building and that the main features of the design were prepared by Ustad 'All-Akbar-i-Banna, while in the second book, the general design is attributed to the Master. Mr. ... enquires whether both 'Abdu'l-Bahá and Ustad 'Ali-Akbar-i-Banna can be described as the authors of the general design of this House of Worship.

'Abdu'l-Bahá defined the essential architectural character of the Bahá'í House of Worship as consisting of a nine-sided, circular building. All Houses of Worship, therefore, incorporate these design features and the Master's instructions guide the architects in the preparation of their unique, individual designs. The design of the first 'Ishqábád Temple, prepared by Ustád 'Ali-Akbar-i-Banná, was likewise influenced and inspired by 'Abdu'l-Bahá's archetypal design. Shoghi Effendi, in "God Passes By", p. 300, refers to the Master's intense personal interest in the construction of the 'Ishqábád House of Worship. He affirms that it was "fostered by Him at every stage in its development". 
(Memorandum from the Research Department of the Universal House of Justice dated 23 May, 1991, on ‘The Secret of Divine Civilization’, accompanied a letter dated 20 June 1991 written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer)