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)

February 8, 2017

Some human attributes that are “immortal”...

‘Progress’ is the expression of spirit in the world of matter. The intelligence of man, his reasoning powers, his knowledge, his scientific achievements, all these being manifestations of the spirit, partake of the inevitable law of spiritual progress and are, therefore, of necessity, immortal. 
- ‘Abdu’l-Baha  (From a talk, 'Paris Talks’)

February 7, 2017

circa 1960’s: Saying farewell to a Baha’i family leaving Holy Land

A going-away party for a Baha’i family leaving Israel. It was held next to the woods near the family’s home in Nazareth. Some of the believers seen in the picture are:  Ali Nakhjavani, Houshmand Fatheazam, Mrs. Lutfulla Hakim, Maleha Bahai, Fujita, Hand of the Cause Mr. Ali Akbar Furutan, Malakeh Tehrani, Hand of the Cause Mr. Faizi, Mona Tehrani, Nuha Tehrani, Charles Wolcott, Mrs. Faizi, Mrs. Furutan, and Mama Bahai.

February 2, 2017

Some “salient objectives to be attained by the local Spiritual Assembly” in its relationship with the community

“Among the more salient objectives to be attained by the local Spiritual Assembly in its process of development to full maturity are
  • to act as a loving shepherd to the Bahá'í flock,
  • promote unity and concord among the friends,
  • direct the teaching work,
  • protect the Cause of God,
  • arrange for Feasts, Anniversaries and regular meetings of the community,
  • familiarize the Bahá'ís with its plans,
  • invite the community to offer its recommendations,
  • promote the welfare of youth and children, and
  • participate, as circumstances permit, in humanitarian activities.”
- The Universal House of Justice  (From a letter to the National Spiritual Assembly of Bolivia, July 30, 1972; compilation: Lights of Guidance)

January 29, 2017

Definition of “Verses of God”

Bahá’u’lláh states that the essential “requisite” for reciting “the verses of God” is the “eagerness and love” of the believers to “read the Word of God” (Q and A 68). With regard to the definition of “verses of God”, Bahá’u’lláh states that it refers to “all that hath been sent down from the Heaven of Divine Utterance”. Shoghi Effendi, in a letter written to one of the believers in the East, has clarified that the term “verses of God” does not include the writings of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá; he has likewise indicated that this term does not apply to his own writings. 
- The Universal House of Justice  (The ‘Notes’ section of the Kitab-i-Aqdas)

January 26, 2017

Essential Requisites for Spiritual Growth

Bahá'u'lláh has stated quite clearly in His Writings the essential requisites for our spiritual growth, and these are stressed again and again by 'Abdu'l-Bahá in His talks and Tablets. One can summarize them briefly in this way:
  • The recital each day of one of the Obligatory Prayers with pure-hearted devotion.
  • The regular reading of the Sacred Scriptures, specifically at least each morning and evening, with reverence, attention and thought.
  • Prayerful meditation on the Teachings, so that we may understand them more deeply, fulfil them more faithfully, and convey them more accurately to others.
  • Striving every day to bring our behaviour more into accordance with the high standards that are set forth in the Teachings.
  • Teaching the Cause of God.
  • Selfless service in the work of the Cause and in the carrying on of our trade or profession. 
- The Universal House of Justice  (From a letter dated 1 September 1983 written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly; 'Messages from the Universal House of Justice 1963-1986')

January 22, 2017

The “controlling principle in the behaviour and conduct of all Bahá'ís”

A chaste and holy life must be made the controlling principle in the behaviour and conduct of all Bahá'ís, both in their social relations with the members of their own community, and in their contact with the world at large. It must adorn and reinforce the ceaseless labours and meritorious exertions of those whose enviable position is to propagate the Message, and to administer the affairs, of the Faith of Bahá'u'lláh. It must be upheld, in all its integrity and implications, in every phase of the life of those who fill the ranks of that Faith, whether in their homes, their travels, their clubs, their societies, their entertainments, their schools, and their universities. It must be accorded special consideration in the conduct of the social activities of every Bahá'í summer school and any other occasions on which Bahá'í community life is organized and fostered. It must be closely and continually identified with the mission of the Bahá'í youth, both as an element in the life of the Bahá'í community, and as a factor in the future progress and orientation of the youth of their own country. 
- Shoghi Effendi  (‘The Advent of Divine Justice’)

January 15, 2017

January 11, 2017

Baha’u’llah quotes a Persian poem to explain “the operation of God's immutable Will”

Although the author of the following saying had intended it otherwise, yet We find it pertinent to the operation of God's immutable Will: "Even or odd, thou shalt win the wager." [1] The friends of God shall win and profit under all conditions, and shall attain true wealth. In fire they remain cold, and from water they emerge dry. Their affairs are at variance with the affairs of men. Gain is their lot, whatever the deal. To this testifieth every wise one with a discerning eye, and every fair-minded one with a hearing ear. 
- Baha’u’llah  (Quoted by the Universal House of Justice in a message dated 10 February 1980, addressed to the Iranian believers resident in other countries throughout the world, translated from Persian; ‘Messages from the Universal House of Justice 1963-1986’)
[1] Sa’di (d. 1291 A.D.)