November 19, 2018

Duties of the International Teaching Centre

The duties of the International Teaching Centre, including those announced previously and those now being assigned to it, are as follows:
  • To assume full responsibility for co-ordinating, stimulating and directing the Continental Boards of Counsellors, acting also as liaison between them and the Universal House of Justice.
  • To be fully informed of the situation of the Cause in all parts of the world and, from this knowledge, to make reports and recommendations to the Universal House of Justice and give advice to the Continental Boards of Counsellors.
  • To watch over the security and ensure the protection of the Faith of God.
  • To be alert to possibilities for the extension of the teaching work and the development of economic and social life both within and without the Baha'i community, and to draw the attention of the Universal House of Justice and the Continental Boards of Counsellors to such possibilities, making recommendations for action.
  • To determine and anticipate needs for literature, pioneers and travelling teachers and to work out teaching plans, both regional and global, for the approval of the Universal House of Justice.
  • To direct the work of the Continental Pioneer Committees.
  • To administer the expenditure of the International Deputization Fund.
  • To administer an annual budget that will be provided from the Baha'i International Fund, allocating therefrom to the Continental Boards of Counsellors monies for special teaching projects and literature subvention, and, when necessary, contributions to the Continental Funds. 
- The Universal House of Justice  (From a message dated 19 May 1983, addressed to the followers of Baha'u'llah throughout the world; ‘Messages from the Universal House of Justice 1963-1986’)

November 18, 2018

“Bahá'ís may take an oath, if required, on any sacred book”

In reply to your letter of September 12th the Universal House of Justice asked us to refer you to a letter on this subject written on behalf of the beloved Guardian on July 11th, 1956 to your National Spiritual Assembly:

"Regarding taking oaths, there is nothing in the Teachings on this subject. As a Bahá'í is enjoined by Bahá'u'lláh to be truthful, he would express his truthfulness, no matter what the formality of the law in any local place required of him. There can be no objection to Bahá'ís conforming to the requirements of the law court whatsoever they may be in such matters, as in no case would they constitute in any way a denial of their own beliefs as Bahá'ís.”

The above decision makes it clear that Bahá'ís may take an oath, if required, on any sacred book. The Universal House of Justice considers that it may be preferable for them to do so on a Bahá'í book, if possible. 
- The Universal House of Justice  (From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual of the United Kingdom, September 20, 1973; compilation: ‘Lights of Guidance’)

November 15, 2018

Baha’u’llah praises Prophet Muhammad

Blessing and peace be upon Him [Muhammad] through Whose advent Bathá [Mecca] is wreathed in smiles, and the sweet savours of Whose raiment have shed fragrance upon all mankind—He Who came to protect men from that which would harm them in the world below. Exalted, immensely exalted is His station above the glorification of all beings and sanctified from the praise of the entire creation. Through His advent the tabernacle of stability and order was raised throughout the world and the ensign of knowledge hoisted among the nations. May blessings rest also upon His kindred and His companions through whom the standard of the unity of God and of His singleness was uplifted and the banners of celestial triumph were unfurled. Through them the religion of God was firmly established among His creatures and His Name magnified amidst His servants. I entreat Him—exalted is He—to shield His Faith from the mischief of His enemies who tore away the veils, rent them asunder and finally caused the banner of Islám to be reversed amongst all peoples. 
- Baha’u’llah  (‘Tablets of Baha’u’llah revealed after the Kitab-i-Aqdas’)

November 12, 2018

“…participating in the courses of an institute is not a requirement to be fulfilled by all believers.”

It is natural that any given educational program would not appeal to everyone, and clearly participating in the courses of an institute is not a requirement to be fulfilled by all believers. In no way, then, should those who do not wish to take part feel that they are disobeying the directives of the Universal House of Justice. It does ask, however, that everyone, even those not involved, support the institute process and not impede its steady progress. 
- The Universal House of Justice  (From a letter dated 26 June 2002 written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer)

November 10, 2018

November 9, 2018

A “feature of Baha'i administration unparalleled in the religions of the past”

The existence of institutions of such exalted rank, [Hands, Counsellors, Auxiliary Boards]  comprising individuals who play such a vital role, who yet have no legislative, administrative or judicial authority, and are entirely devoid of priestly functions or the right to make authoritative interpretations, is a feature of Baha'i administration unparalleled in the religions of the past. The newness and uniqueness, of this concept make it difficult to grasp; only as the Baha'i Community grows and the believers are increasingly able to contemplate its administrative structure uninfluenced by concepts from past ages, will the vital interdependence of the "rulers" and "learned" in the Faith be properly understood, and the inestimable value of their interaction be fully recognized. 
- The Universal House of Justice  (From a message dated 24 April 1972; ‘Messages from the Universal House of Justice 1963-1986’)

November 8, 2018

The station of the Letters of the Living

…the Letters of the Living, the Báb’s chosen disciples, whose station is ten thousand times more glorious than any which the apostles of old have attained… 
- Baha’u’llah  (Quoted by Shoghi Effendi in a message dated 8 February 1934, printed as ‘The Dispensation of Baha'u'llah’ in ‘The World Order of Baha'u'llah’)

November 5, 2018

Will “human souls continue to be conscious one of another after their separation from the body?” – Baha’u’llah explains

And now concerning thy question whether human souls continue to be conscious one of another after their separation from the body. Know thou that the souls of the people of Bahá, who have entered and been established within the Crimson Ark, shall associate and commune intimately one with another, and shall be so closely associated in their lives, their aspirations, their aims and strivings as to be even as one soul. They are indeed the ones who are well-informed, who are keen-sighted, and who are endued with understanding. Thus hath it been decreed by Him Who is the All-Knowing, the All-Wise.

The people of Bahá, who are the inmates of the Ark of God, are, one and all, well aware of one another’s state and condition, and are united in the bonds of intimacy and fellowship. Such a state, however, must depend upon their faith and their conduct. They that are of the same grade and station are fully aware of one another’s capacity, character, accomplishments and merits. They that are of a lower grade, however, are incapable of comprehending adequately the station, or of estimating the merits, of those that rank above them. Each shall receive his share from thy Lord. Blessed is the man that hath turned his face towards God, and walked steadfastly in His love, until his soul hath winged its flight unto God, the Sovereign Lord of all, the Most Powerful, the Ever-Forgiving, the All-Merciful.

November 4, 2018

Circa 1953 - The group that formed the second Local Spiritual Assembly in Japan in 1954

Baha'i Group in Hyogo-ken, Osaka, Japan, in front of their Baha'i Hall, the gift of Mr. Nonreddin Momtazi, second from right, front row. Miss Agnes Alexander, early pioneer to Japan, seated third from right. This group formed the second Local Spiritual Assembly in Japan on April 21, 1954. 
(The Baha'i World 1950-1954)

November 2, 2018

Prophets before Adam; changes in language, speech, and writing; God’s creation and His Manifestations; ancient natural disasters – Baha’u’llah explains

And now regarding thy question, “How is it that no records are to be found concerning the Prophets that have preceded Adam, the Father of Mankind, or of the kings that lived in the days of those Prophets?” Know thou that the absence of any reference to them is no proof that they did not actually exist. That no records concerning them are now available, should be attributed to their extreme remoteness, as well as to the vast changes which the earth hath undergone since their time.

Moreover such forms and modes of writing as are now current amongst men were unknown to the generations that were before Adam. There was even a time when men were wholly ignorant of the art of writing, and had adopted a system entirely different from the one which they now use. For a proper exposition of this an elaborate explanation would be required.

Consider the differences that have arisen since the days of Adam. The divers and widely-known languages now spoken by the peoples of the earth were originally unknown, as were the varied rules and customs now prevailing amongst them. The people of those times spoke a language different from those now known. Diversities of language arose in a later age, in a land known as Babel. It was given the name Babel, because the term signifieth “the place where the confusion of tongues arose.”

October 31, 2018

The “very essence of the principle of independent investigation of truth”

It is hoped that all the Bahá'í students will ... be led to investigate and analyse the principles of the Faith and to correlate them with the modern aspects of philosophy and science. Every intelligent and thoughtful young Bahá'í should always approach the Cause in this way, for therein lies the very essence of the principle of independent investigation of truth. 
- Shoghi Effendi  (From a letter dated 6 August 1933, written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer; compilation: ‘Science and Technology’, compiled by Research Department of the Universal House of Justice and attached to a Memorandum from the Research Department of the Universal House of Justice, dated 13-August 1997)   

October 26, 2018

A major objective of training institutes

A major object of the recent emphasis on establishing training institutes is to increase the capacity of individuals to teach the Cause effectively. Study circles, which are local extensions of an institute, are intended to serve this purpose. While it is highly desirable to include seekers in study circles wherever possible, the individual believer retains the inescapable duty to teach the Faith on his or her own initiative. 
- The Universal House of Justice  (From a letter dated 31 October 2002 written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer)

October 23, 2018

To aim for “unanimity in all things” during decision-making consultations of Local and National Spiritual Assemblies

Indeed it has ever been the cherished desire of our Master 'Abdu'l-Bahá that the friends in their councils, local as well as national, should by their candour, their honesty of purpose, their singleness of mind, and the thoroughness of their discussions achieve unanimity in all things. Should this in certain cases prove impracticable the verdict of the majority should prevail, to which decision the minority must under all circumstances gladly, spontaneously and continually submit. 
 - Shoghi Effendi  (From a letter dated 29 January 1925 written to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, published in 'Bahá'í Administration: Selected Messages 1922-1932'; also in The Compilation of Compilations vol. II)

October 22, 2018

2016: Features of “an evolving framework for action” – identified by the Universal House of Justice

During this period, the adoption of an evolving framework for action has enabled the friends to
  • progressively nurture and refine essential capacities, giving rise to 
    • simple acts of service at first,
    • leading to more elaborate patterns of action, which in turn demanded
    • the development of capacities still more complex. 
  • In this way, a systematic process of human resource development and community building has been started in thousands of clusters—and, in many of them, become far advanced.
  • The focus has not been solely on the individual believer, or the community, or the institutions of the Faith; all three inseparable participants in the evolution of the new World Order are being stimulated by the spiritual forces released through the unfoldment of the Divine Plan.
  • The signs of their progress are more and more apparent:
    • in the confidence that countless believers have acquired to share accounts of Bahá’u’lláh’s life and discuss the implications of His Revelation and peerless Covenant;
    • in the growing contingents of souls who, as a result, have been attracted to His Cause and are contributing to the achievement of His unifying vision;
    • in the ability of Bahá’ís and their friends, at the very grassroots of the community, to describe in eloquent terms their experience of a process capable of transforming character and shaping social existence;
    • in the significantly larger numbers of those indigenous to a country who, as members of Bahá’í institutions and agencies, are now guiding the affairs of their communities;

October 19, 2018

The effect of the love of God on the world of humanity

Were it not for the love of God, the contingent world would be plunged in darkness. Were it not for the love of God, the hearts of men would be bereft of life and deprived of the stirrings of conscience. Were it not for the love of God, the perfections of the human world would entirely vanish. Were it not for the love of God, no real connection could exist between human hearts. Were it not for the love of God, spiritual union would be lost. Were it not for the love of God, the light of the oneness of mankind would be extinguished. Were it not for the love of God, the East and the West would not embrace as two lovers. Were it not for the love of God, discord and division would not be transmuted into fellowship. Were it not for the love of God, estrangement would not give way to unity. Were it not for the love of God, the stranger would not become the friend. Indeed, love in the human world is a ray of the love of God and a reflection of the grace of His bounty. 
- ‘Abdu’l-Baha  (Table talks in Akka, authenticated by ‘Abdu’l-Baha; ‘Some Answered Questions’ – 2014 revised translation by the Baha’i World Centre)

October 17, 2018

“The source of all evil”

The source of all evil is for man to turn away from his Lord and set his heart on things ungodly. 
- Baha’u’llah  (‘Tablets of Baha’u’llah revealed after the Kitab-i-Aqdas’)

October 14, 2018

Freeing “the souls from the gloom of nature, which is the animal kingdom”

I hope that in this nether world thou shalt attain unto heavenly light, thou wilt free the souls from the gloom of nature, which is the animal kingdom, and cause them to reach lofty stations in the human kingdom. Today all people are immersed in the world of nature. That is why thou dost see jealousy, greed, the struggle for survival, deception, hypocrisy, tyranny, oppression, disputes, strife, bloodshed, looting and pillaging, which all emanate from the world of nature. Few are those who have been freed from this darkness, who have ascended from the world of nature to the world of man, who have followed the divine Teachings, have served the world of humanity, are resplendent, merciful, illumined and like unto a rose garden. Strive thine utmost to become godlike, characterized with His attributes, illumined and merciful, that thou mayest be freed from every bond and become attached at heart to the Kingdom of the incomparable Lord. This is Bahá’í bounty, and this is heavenly light. 
- ‘Abdu’l-Baha  (‘Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Baha’)

October 9, 2018

To behold the “shining countenances” of the believers of God is “a divine gift”

O thou who art rejoiced by the Divine Glad tidings! Verily I have received thy last letter, and thanked God that thou didst reach Paris protected and guarded by Him. Thank thou God that He assisted thee to behold the brilliant faces of the believers of God, and favored thee to meet them in American countries; for verily, beholding those shining countenances is a divine gift. By it, the hearts are dilated, the souls are rejoiced, and the spirits are attracted toward the Supreme Concourse. 
- ‘Abdu’l-Baha  (From a Tablet; Star of the West, vol. 5, no. 19, March 2, 1915)

October 8, 2018

“Eternal Life” – do all souls partake of it?

Concerning thy question whether all the souls enjoy Eternal Life: Know thou, those souls partake of the Eternal Life in whom the Spirit of Life is breathed from the Presence of God; and all beside them are dead, without life as Christ has explained (this matter) in the texts of the Gospel. Any person whose insight is opened by God, sees the souls in their stations after the disintegration of the bodies Verily, they are living and are subsisting before their Lord and see also the dead souls submerged in the gulfs of mortality. 

Then know thou, verily, all the souls arc created according to the nature of God, and all are in the state of (unconscious) purity at the time of their birth. But afterward they differ from one another in so far as they acquire excellencies or defects. Nevertheless, the creatures have different degrees in existence in so far as the creation goes; for capacities are many, but all of them are good and pure (in their essence) then afterward they are polluted and defiled. 

Although there are different states of creation, yet all of them are beneficial. Glance thou over the temple of man, its members and its parts: Among them is the eye, the ear, smelling and taste, hands and fingers. Notwithstanding the differences between these organs, all of them are useful in their proper sphere. 
- ‘Abdu’l-Baha  (From a Tablet; Star of the West, vol. 5, no. 19, March 2, 1915)

October 7, 2018

Membership in Non-Baha’i Religious Associations

Concerning membership in non-Baha’i religious associations, the Guardian wishes to re-emphasize the general principle already laid down in his communications to your Assembly and also to the individual believers that no Baha’i who wishes to be a wholehearted and sincere upholder of the distinguishing principles of the Cause can accept full membership in any non-Baha’i ecclesiastical organization. For such an act would necessarily imply only a partial acceptance of the Teachings and laws of the Faith, and an incomplete recognition of its independent status, and would thus be tantamount to an act of disloyalty to the verities it enshrines. For it is only too obvious that in most of its fundamental assumptions the Cause of Baha’u’llah is completely at variance with outworn creeds, ceremonies and institutions. To be a Baha’i and at the same time accept membership in another religious body is simply an act of contradiction that no sincere and logically minded person can possibly accept. To follow Baha’u’llah does not mean accepting some of His teachings and rejecting the rest. Allegiance to His Cause must be uncompromising and wholehearted. During the days of the Master the Cause was still in a stage that made such an open and sharp dissociation between it and other religious organizations, and particularly the Muslim Faith, not only inadvisable but practically impossible to establish. But since His passing events throughout the Baha’i world, and particularly in Egypt where the Muslim religious courts have formally testified to the independent character of the Faith, have developed to a point that have made such an assertion of the independence of the Cause not only highly desirable but absolutely essential.” 
- Shoghi Effendi  (From a letter dated 15 June, 1935, written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi; Baha’i News no. 93, July 1935)

October 4, 2018

“True civilization”

True civilization will unfurl its banner in the midmost heart of the world whenever a certain number of its distinguished and high-minded sovereigns -- the shining exemplars of devotion and determination -- shall, for the good and happiness of all mankind, arise, with firm resolve and clear vision, to establish the Cause of Universal Peace. They must make the Cause of Peace the object of general consultation, and seek by every means in their power to establish a Union of the nations of the world. They must conclude a binding treaty and establish a covenant, the provisions of which shall be sound, inviolable and definite. They must proclaim it to all the world and obtain for it the sanction of all the human race. This supreme and noble undertaking -- the real source of the peace and well-being of all the world -- should be regarded as sacred by all that dwell on earth. All the forces of humanity must be mobilized to ensure the stability and permanence of this Most Great Covenant. In this all-embracing Pact the limits and frontiers of each and every nation should be clearly fixed, the principles underlying the relations of governments towards one another definitely laid down, and all international agreements and obligations ascertained. In like manner, the size of the armaments of every government should be strictly limited, for if the preparations for war and the military forces of any nation should be allowed to increase, they will arouse the suspicion of others. The fundamental principle underlying this solemn Pact should be so fixed that if any government later violate any one of its provisions, all the governments on earth should arise to reduce it to utter submission, nay the human race as a whole should resolve, with every power at its disposal, to destroy that government. Should this greatest of all remedies be applied to the sick body of the world, it will assuredly recover from its ills and will remain eternally safe and secure.

September 28, 2018

Serving in teaching and administrative spheres of Baha’i work

Regarding the statement made by the Guardian in his letter to Mr. Willard Hatch concerning the fact that believers can serve both as teachers and administrators. Shoghi Effendi would approve your Assembly making this fact known to all the friends. For although it is essential for the believers to maintain always a clear distinction between teaching and administrative duties and functions, yet they should be careful not to be led to think that these two types of Baha’i activity are mutually exclusive in their nature, and as such cannot be exercised by one and the same person. As a matter of fact, the friends should be encouraged to serve in both the teaching and the administrative fields of Baha’i service. But as there are always some who are more specially gifted along one of these two lines of activity it would seem more desirable that they should concentrate their efforts in acquiring the full training for that type of work for which they are best suited by nature. Such a specialization has the advantage of saving time, and of leading to greater efficiency, particularly at this early stage of our development. The great danger, however, lies in that by so doing the friends may tend to develop a sort of class consciousness which is fundamentally contrary to both the spirit and actual teachings of the Faith. It is precisely in order to overcome such a danger that the Guardian thinks it advisable that the friends should be encouraged to serve from time to time in both the teaching and the administrative spheres of Baha’i work, but only whenever they feel fit to do so. 
- Shoghi Effendi  (From a letter dated July 29, 1935, written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi; Baha’i News, no. 95, October 1935)

September 26, 2018

“Prayer… transcends all ritualistic forms and formulae”

The important thing that should always be borne in mind is that with the exception of certain specific obligatory prayers, Baha’u’llah has given us no strict or special rulings in matters of worship, whether in the Temple or elsewhere. Prayer is essentially a communion between man and God, and as such transcends all ritualistic forms and formulae.” 
- Shoghi Effendi  (From a letter dated June 15, 1935, written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, Baha’i News, no. 93, July 1935)

September 24, 2018

Variations in the three versions of the Bible – two examples

…the Torah, held to be the most ancient of histories, existeth today in three separate versions: the Hebrew, considered authentic by the Jews and the Protestant clergy; the Greek Septuagint, which is used as authoritative in the Greek and other Eastern churches; and the Samaritan Torah, the standard authority for that people. These three versions differ greatly, one from another, even with regard to the lifetimes of the most celebrated figures.

In the Hebrew Torah, it is recorded that from Noah’s flood until the birth of Abraham there was an interval of two hundred and ninety-two years. In the Greek, that time-span is given as one thousand and seventy-two years, while in the Samaritan, the recorded span is nine hundred and forty-two years… Refer to the commentary by Henry Westcott, for tables are supplied therein which show the discrepancies among the three Torahs as to the birthdates of a number of the descendants of Shem, and thou wilt see how greatly the versions differ one from another.

September 22, 2018

1953: Ruhiyyih Khanum at the grave site of her father, William Sutherland Maxwell

Ruhiyyih Khanum at the grave site of her father, William Sutherland Maxwell, Hand of the Cause of God, in Mount Royal Cemetery, Montreal. Floral spray sent by the Guardian of the Baha'i World Faith from Haifa, in foreground. Mrs. Amelia Collins stands to the right of Ruhiyyih Khanum, and others include National Spiritual Assembly members and Montreal Baha'is. May, 1953. 
(The Baha’i World 1950-1954)

September 20, 2018

“Material and spiritual science” - “the two wings of human uplift and attainment”

Scientific knowledge is the highest attainment upon the human plane, for science is the discoverer of realities. It is of two kinds: material and spiritual. Material science is the investigation of natural phenomena; divine science is the discovery and realization of spiritual verities. The world of humanity must acquire both. A bird has two wings; it cannot fly with one. Material and spiritual science are the two wings of human uplift and attainment. Both are necessary – one the natural, the other supernatural; one material, the other divine. By the divine we mean the discovery of the mysteries of God, the comprehension of spiritual realities, the wisdom of God, inner significances of the heavenly religions and foundation of the law. 
- ‘Abdu’l-Baha  (From a talk, 23 May 1912, Cambridge, Massachusetts; ‘The Promulgation of Universal Peace’; the Compilation of Compilations, vol. III, Scholarship)

September 19, 2018

“The principle of the Oneness of Mankind – the pivot round which all the teachings of Bahá'u'lláh revolve”

Let there be no mistake. The principle of the Oneness of Mankind – the pivot round which all the teachings of Bahá'u'lláh revolve – is no mere outburst of ignorant emotionalism or an expression of vague and pious hope. Its appeal is not to be merely identified with a reawakening of the spirit of brotherhood and goodwill among men, nor does it aim solely at the fostering of harmonious co-operation among individual peoples and nations. Its implications are deeper, its claims greater than any which the Prophets of old were allowed to advance. Its message is applicable not only to the individual, but concerns itself primarily with the nature of those essential relationships that must bind all the states and nations as members of one human family. It does not constitute merely the enunciation of an ideal, but stands inseparably associated with an institution adequate to embody its truth, demonstrate its validity, and perpetuate its influence. It implies an organic change in the structure of present-day society, a change such as the world has not yet experienced. It constitutes a challenge, at once bold and universal, to outworn shibboleths of national creeds–creeds that have had their day and which must, in the ordinary course of events as shaped and controlled by Providence, give way to a new gospel, fundamentally different from, and infinitely superior to, what the world has already conceived. It calls for no less than the reconstruction and the demilitarization of the whole civilized world–a world organically unified in all the essential aspects of its life, its political machinery, its spiritual aspiration, its trade and finance, its script and language, and yet infinite in the diversity of the national characteristics of its federated units.

September 17, 2018

Role of the community, as one of “the three protagonists” of the divine Plan

The community… draws on everything within its power to augment its fruitful activities. As a dynamic and growing entity, it endeavours to
  • create an environment in which the inner capacities of all of its members—whether new or veteran, men or women, young or old, urban or rural dwellers, and of whatever tribe or race throughout that land—flourish,
  • and the ability 
    • to take counsel together,
    • to make decisions, and
    • to cooperate at the grassroots level is raised to new heights so that its members may serve more effectively towards the betterment of society.
  • This community learns to read effectively the reality of its environment,
    • to recognize existing opportunities,
    • to utilize its resources, and
    • to respond to present needs.

September 11, 2018

Creating a possible “to-do” list for a Spiritual Assembly based on the attributes of “an evolving framework for action”, identified by the Universal House of Justice in their Ridvan 2016 message

(Ridvan 2016 message)

  • To “progressively nurture and refine essential capacities”
  • To initiate “simple acts of service”.
  • To start “a systematic process of human resource development and community building”.
  • To inspire “confidence” in “believers…to share accounts of Bahá’u’lláh’s life and discuss the implications of His Revelation and peerless Covenant”.
  • To encourage the “friends, at the very grassroots of the community” to become more able “to describe in eloquent terms their experience of a process capable of transforming character and shaping social existence”.
  • To increase the “numbers of those indigenous” to the country who, “as members of Bahá’í institutions and agencies” will guide “the affairs” of its community.
  • To encourage “reliable, generous, and sacrificial giving to the Fund”
  • To aim for an “unprecedented efflorescence of individual initiative and collective action in support of community-building activities”.
  • To inspire “enthusiasm” in “selfless souls in the prime of youth” to bring “immense vigour” to “the spiritual education of younger generations”.
  • To enhance “the devotional character of the community through regular gatherings for worship”.
  • To “rise in capacity at all levels of Bahá’í administration”
  • To increase LSA’s “readiness” to “think in terms of process”, “to read…[its] immediate reality” and assess…[its] resources in the [place]…where they live”, and “to make plans on that basis”.
  • To encourage LSA’s committees, task forces, liaisons, to “think in terms of process”, “to read…[its] immediate reality” and assess…[their] resources in the [place]…where they live”, and “to make plans on that basis”.
  • To increase community members to “think in terms of process”, “to read…[their] immediate reality” and assess…[their] resources in the [place]…where they live”, and “to make plans on that basis”.

September 9, 2018

The right of voting in Baha’i elections – “to exercise that right intelligently and with understanding”

I feel I must reaffirm the vital importance and necessity of the right of voting -- a sacred responsibility of which no adult recognized believer should be deprived, unless he is associated with a community that has not as yet been in a position to establish a local Assembly. This distinguishing right which the believer possesses, however, does not carry with it nor does it imply an obligation to cast his vote, if he feels that the circumstances under which he lives do not justify or allow him to exercise that right intelligently and with understanding. This is a matter which should be left to the individual to decide himself according to his own conscience and discretion. 
- Shoghi Effendi  (From a letter dated April 28, 1935, addressed to NSA of United States and Canada, Baha’i News, no. 93, July 1935)

September 7, 2018

A Baha’i Principle: The “Prophets of the one, the unknowable God, including Bahá'u'lláh…[are]… all…, the channels of God's grace…the exponents of His unity…the mirrors of His light and the revealers of His purpose…”

…it is our clear duty to make it indubitably evident to every seeker after truth that from "the beginning that hath no beginning" the Prophets of the one, the unknowable God, including Bahá'u'lláh Himself, have all, as the channels of God's grace, as the exponents of His unity, as the mirrors of His light and the revealers of His purpose, been commissioned to unfold to mankind an ever-increasing measure of His truth, of His inscrutable will and Divine guidance, and will continue to "the end that hath no end" to vouchsafe still fuller and mightier revelations of His limitless power and glory.

We might well ponder in our hearts the following passages from a prayer revealed by Bahá'u'lláh which strikingly affirm, and are a further evidence of, the reality of the great and essential truth lying at the very core of His Message to mankind:

September 5, 2018

Variations in grammatical styles of the Verses of God – Baha’u’llah explains

The verses are sent down at one time in a form that is untroubled by the rules of grammarians, transcending what the minds of men have yet conceived; and at another time they are sent down in a style that conformeth to the standards of men. Thy Lord, verily, is potent over whatsoever He willeth by virtue of His words "Be, and it is." Wert thou to view them with Mine eyes thou wouldst see that they are in conformity with the most consummate rules, and wouldst give thanks to the Lord, the Almighty, the Best-Beloved. 
- Baha’u’llah  (Quoted by the Universal House of Justice in a letter dated 26 November 1986written on its behalf to a National Spiritual Assembly; ‘Messages from the Universal House of Justice 1986-2001’)

August 31, 2018

A sample of calligraphy by Mishkin Qalam

Opening passage of Baha'u'llah's 'The Hidden Words' in the calligraphy of Mishkin Qalam 
(Baha'u'llah, The King of Glory, by Balyuzi)

August 28, 2018

2005: The unfoldment of a “framework for action”

(Excerpts from a message of the Universal House of Justice to the Conference of the Continental Boards of Counsellors, 27 December 2005)

The “elements required for a concerted effort to infuse the diverse regions of the world with the spirit of Baha’u’llah's Revelation”
Over the past four and a half years, as the believers throughout the world have striven to pursue the aim of advancing the process of entry by troops, it has become increasingly clear that the close of the present Five Year Plan will mark a decisive moment in the unfoldment of the historical enterprise on which the community of the Greatest Name is embarked. The elements required for a concerted effort to infuse the diverse regions of the world with the spirit of Baha’u’llah's Revelation have crystallized into a framework for action that now needs only to be exploited. (UHJ, Dec. 27, 2005)

First step in framework for action:  “develop the human resources of the Cause through a network of training institutes.”
Our 26 December 1995 message, which focused the Baha'i world on a path of intense learning about the sustained, rapid growth of the Faith, described in general terms the nature of the work that would have to be undertaken in meeting the challenges ahead. As a first step, Baha'i communities were urged to systematize their efforts to develop the human resources of the Cause through a network of training institutes. While every national community took measures to create institutional capacity to perform this essential function, it was not until the outset of the Five Year Plan that the significance of a well-conceived programme of training became widely appreciated. (UHJ, Dec. 27, 2005)

“The introduction of the concept of the cluster” and its benefits
The introduction of the concept of the cluster made it possible for the friends to think about the accelerated growth of the community on a manageable scale and to conceive of it in terms of two complementary, reinforcing movements: the steady flow of individuals through the sequence of institute courses and the movement of clusters from one stage of development to the next. (UHJ, Dec. 27, 2005)

Harmonization of activities into one forward movement
A discernible outcome of the emphasis on capacity building has been a steady increase in the exercise of individual initiative-initiative that is disciplined by an understanding of the requirements of systematic action in advancing the process of entry by troops. Endeavours are pursued in a humble posture of learning within the framework defined by the Plan. As a result, activities that give expression to a diversity of talents become harmonized into one forward movement, and the stagnation caused by endless debate over personal preferences about approach is avoided. Commitment to long-term action grows, putting in context the initiatives undertaken by the believers at any particular moment. (UHJ, Dec. 27, 2005)

August 26, 2018

An example of the incredible ability of the Manifestation of God - Baha’u’llah explains

Thou knowest full well that We perused not the books which men possess and We acquired not the learning current amongst them, and yet whenever We desire to quote the sayings of the learned and of the wise, presently there will appear before the face of thy Lord in the form of a tablet all that which hath appeared in the world and is revealed in the Holy Books and Scriptures. Thus do We set down in writing that which the eye perceiveth. Verily His knowledge encompasseth the earth and the heavens.
- Baha'u'llah  (‘Tablets of Bahá’u’lláh Revealed after the Kitáb-i-Aqdas’)

August 24, 2018

Difference between inspiration and imagination

As to the difference between inspiration and imagination: Inspiration is in conformity with the Divine Texts, but imaginations do not conform therewith. A real, spiritual connection between the True One and the servant is a luminous bounty which causeth an ecstatic (or divine) flame, passion and attraction. When this connection is secured (or realized) such an ecstasy and happiness become manifest in the heart that man doth fly away (with joy) and uttereth melody and song. Just as the soul bringeth the body in motion, so that spiritual bounty and real connection likewise moveth (or cheereth) the human soul. 
- ‘Abdu’l-Baha  ('Tablets of ‘Abdu’l-Baha, vol. 1')

August 23, 2018

The awesome greatness of the Revelation of Baha’u’llah - 'Abdu'l-Baha and the Guardian explain

As a further testimony to the greatness of the Revelation identified with Bahá'u'lláh may be cited the following extracts from a Tablet addressed by 'Abdu'l-Bahá to an eminent Zoroastrian follower of the Faith:

"Thou hadst written that in the sacred books of the followers of Zoroaster it is written that in the latter days, in three separate Dispensations, the sun must needs be brought to a standstill. In the first Dispensation, it is predicted, the sun will remain motionless for ten days; in the second for twice that time; in the third for no less than one whole month. The interpretation of this prophecy is this: the first Dispensation to which it refers is the Muhammadan Dispensation during which the Sun of Truth stood still for ten days. Each day is reckoned as one century. The Muhammadan Dispensation must have, therefore, lasted no less than one thousand years, which is precisely the period that has elapsed from the setting of the Star of the Imamate to the advent of the Dispensation proclaimed by the Báb. The second Dispensation referred to in this prophecy is the one inaugurated by the Báb Himself, which began in the year 1260 A.H. and was brought to a close in the year 1280 A.H. As to the third Dispensation -- the Revelation proclaimed by Bahá'u'lláh -- inasmuch as the Sun of Truth when attaining that station shineth in the plenitude of its meridian splendor its duration hath been fixed for a period of one whole month, which is the maximum time taken by the sun to pass through a sign of the Zodiac. From this thou canst imagine the magnitude of the Bahá'í cycle -- a cycle that must extend over a period of at least five hundred thousand years." 
- Shoghi Effendi  (‘The Dispensation of Baha’u’llah’, included in ‘The World Order of Baha'u'llah’)

August 20, 2018

“The source of all good”

The source of all good is trust in God, submission unto His command, and contentment with His holy will and pleasure. 
- Baha’u’llah  (‘Tablets of Baha’u’llah revealed after the Kitab-i-Aqdas’)

August 18, 2018

The “double task of simultaneously building an ideal society and perfecting the behavior of individuals”

At the very core of the aims of the Faith are the establishment of justice and unity in the world, the removal of prejudice and enmity from among all people, the awakening of compassion and understanding in the hearts of all men and women, and the raising of all souls to a new level of spirituality and behavior through the vitalizing influence of divine Revelation. The course set forth by Baha'u'llah for the attainment of these aims is the double task of simultaneously building an ideal society and perfecting the behavior of individuals. For this dual and reciprocal transformation He has not only revealed laws, principles and truths attuned to the needs of this age, but has established the very nucleus and pattern of those institutions which are to evolve into the structure of the divinely purposed world society. 
- The Universal House of Justice  (From a letter dated 2 July 1996 written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer)

August 16, 2018

The date of the advent of Bahá’u’lláh from the Torah - 'Abdu'l-Baha explains

Let us now establish the date of the advent of Bahá’u’lláh from the Torah. This date is calculated in lunar years from the revelation of the mission and the emigration of Muḥammad. For in the religion of Muḥammad the lunar calendar is used, and all the ordinances regarding religious observances have been expressed in terms of that calendar. 

In Daniel 12:6 it is said: “And one said to the man clothed in linen, which was upon the waters of the river, How long shall it be to the end of these wonders? And I heard the man clothed in linen, which was upon the waters of the river, when he held up his right hand and his left hand unto heaven, and sware by Him that liveth for ever that it shall be for a time, times, and an half; and when He shall have accomplished to scatter the power of the holy people, all these things shall be finished.” 

As I have already explained the meaning of “day”, no further explanation is needed, but let me briefly say that each day of the Father is equivalent to one year, and each year consists of twelve months. Thus three and a half years makes forty-two months, and forty-two months is 1,260 days, and each day in the Bible is equivalent to one year. And it is in the very year 1260 from the emigration of Muḥammad, according to the Muslim calendar, that the Báb, the Herald of Bahá’u’lláh, revealed His mission. 
- ‘Abdu’l-Baha  (Table talks in Akka, authenticated by ‘Abdu’l-Baha; ‘Some Answered Questions’ – 2014 revised translation by the Baha’i World Centre)

August 14, 2018

Early beginnings of social and economic development projects in various countries

The growing maturity of a world-wide religious community which all these processes indicate is further evidenced in the reaching out, by a number of national communities, to the social and economic life of their countries, exemplified by the founding of tutorial schools, the inception of radio stations, the pursuit of rural development programmes and the operation of medical and agricultural schemes. To these early beginnings must be added the undoubted skills acquired, as a result of the Iranian crisis, in dealing with international organizations, national governments and the mass media -- the very elements of society with which it must increasingly collaborate toward the realization of peace on earth. 
- The Universal House of Justice  (1983 Ridvan message)

August 11, 2018

“True joy comes from the tranquility of heart, and this state comes from faith!”

Then He [‘Abdu’l-Baha] spoke at length of the "Composure of Heart," or "Tranquility of the Soul." "This", He said, "is a state of true faith which gives man such assurance and conviction of God's bounty, that all the trials and sufferings of this earth cannot affect him." Speaking of true joy and happiness. He said in part: "… True joy comes from the tranquility of heart, and this state comes from faith! Praise be to God who gave us tranquility of heart! This is why we are always happy. I pray and supplicate to the Beauty of Abha to bless all the servants and maid-servants with true happiness resulting from the tranquility of heart."
(Words of ‘Abdu’l-Baha, recorded by Ali-Kuli Khan during his pilgrimage in 1906)
(To see more pilgrim notes please visit Baha’i Pilgrim Notes)