January 16, 2021

1954: The Guardian’s reference about the Canadian Baha’i community and some of its distinguished members

A Community, [Canada] whose founder [1] has conferred upon it such splendid benefits and whose dust now lies on the far-off shores of the South American continent; which has been exalted by reason of the eminent services which two other members [2] Amatu’l-Bahá Rúhíyyih Khánum Rabbani (Mary Maxwell)—daughter of May and Sutherland Maxwell, became the wife of Shoghi Effendi in 1937, appointed a Hand of the Cause of God in 1952, of her family have rendered, in the Holy Land, to the world Bahá’í community; which can, moreover boast of the enduring and historic achievements of yet another Hand of the Cause [3]—the third nominated from the ranks of its members; and which, in the course of the past year, has set a further example of steadfastness and devotion through the action of outstanding members [4] [5] of its National Assembly who have forsaken their homes to settle in the African continent—such a community can well assert its capacity and determination to consummate, within the allotted time, the laborious and mighty task it has risen to shoulder.

The rapidity of its expansion, its sound development, the steadiness, the single-mindedness, the tenacity, the enthusiasm, the unity and staunchness of its members, augur well for the remarkable material and spiritual progress which the nation to which it belongs must achieve in the years to come, in accordance with the explicit promise enshrined in the Tablets of the Divine Plan by the Centre of Bahá’u’lláh’s Covenant. 

- Shoghi Effendi  (From a letter dated 15 June 1954 to the National Spiritual Assembly of Canada; ‘Messages to Canada’)

January 1, 2021

December 27, 2020

Requirements for Mashriqu'l-Adhkar sites

A site for a future Mashriqu'l-Adhkar can be as small as 8,000 square metres in area if a larger property would be too expensive. It should, if possible, be situated within the city designated or, if this is not feasible, within 25 kilometres from the city. 

- The Universal House of Justice  (From a message dated Naw-Ruz 1974 to all National Spiritual Assemblies; ‘Messages from the Universal House of Justice 1963-1986’)

December 21, 2020

‘Abdu’l-Baha’s objectives for going to North America

…he [‘Abdu’l-Baha] has returned to Egypt and hopes that during the next spring no obstacle may arise, so that with infinite joy and fragrance he may hasten to America 

  • to meet the friends,
  • to unfurl the banner of rejoicing,
  • to spread the Glad Tidings of the Kingdom of Abha,
  • to illumine the meetings and gatherings with the Rays of the Sun of Truth,
  • to perfume the nostrils with the Fragrances of Holiness,
  • to impart gladness and delight to the hearts,
  • to attract the souls to the Realms of Might,
  • to grant the outpouring of the Holy Spirit so that in this nether world the congregation of the Righteous Ones may be firmly established.

Glad Tidings! Glad Tidings! The bounties of the Most Great Name are descending.

Glad Tidings! Glad Tidings! The Lights of the Kingdom of Abha are shining.

Glad Tidings! Glad Tidings! The Doors of Heaven are opened and the call of the Kingdom is raised. 

- ‘Abdu’l-Baha  (From a Tablet; Star of the West, vol. 2, no. 16, December 31, 1911)

December 16, 2020

1911: First Persian Baha'i woman to travel to the West to continue education

Ghodsieh (Qudsiyyih) Khanum Ashraf 
(22 Nov. 1889 Tehran - 16 April 1976 Tehran)  

She saw 'Abdu'l-Baha several times in Chicago and Washington during 1912. She is the first Persian Baha'i woman to travel to the West in 1911 for the purpose of obtaining an education. She studied at the Lewis Institute in Chicago. In 1918 she graduated from Columbia University with a degree in Education. She returned to Persia in 1919 and became involved in women's movements and in education. Her brother, Ashraf Ashraf, studied in Paris during 1911-1915, and met 'Abdu'l-Baha on several occasions at 4, avenue de Camoens in 1911 and 1913. In Iran he apparently held several government positions and emigrated to Switzerland in 1953. 

(Adapted from “Abdu’l-Baha in the West, A biographical guide of the people associated with His travels”, by Jan Teofil Jasion)

December 10, 2020

“There are two kinds of cooperation: material and spiritual”

There are two kinds of cooperation: material and spiritual. Cooperation in the material world will insure happiness and fellowship, and will facilitate the progress of humankind; but the ideal, the most real and virtuous cooperation is spiritual. That is realized when people gather together to investigate and discuss principles impartially, to talk over the divine and philosophic principles of the age and to assist each other in pursuit of divine knowledge and wisdom. This real cooperation and mutual assistance is the foundation on which the super-structure of material reciprocity is based. Through this spiritual inter-assistance the prosperity of the world of man is unveiled. 

- ‘Abdu’l-Baha  (Words of ‘Abdu’l-Baha at a Nineteen-Day Feast in London, December 29, 1912; Baha’i News no. 33, July 1929)

December 1, 2020

How the “grace of God” becomes “revealed” in “the human heart”

…love of God and spiritual attraction do cleanse and purify the human heart and dress and adorn it with the spotless garment of holiness; and once the heart is entirely attached to the Lord, and bound over to the Blessed Perfection, then will the grace of God be revealed. 

- ‘Abdu’l-Baha  (‘Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Baha’)

November 25, 2020

2020: - Attitude to maintain during current state of world conditions

For the present hour, we urge you to recommit your energies, keeping your focus on the mission immediately before you. We are immensely gratified to see the assured composure with which the community of the Greatest Name has sought to offer the divine remedy under all conditions, especially during this period when society’s established patterns of life have been disrupted and risks of different kinds are being faced by so many. Withal, the friends must guard against being drawn into the ultimately futile conflict and strife that characterizes so much of the discussion of the affairs of society, or—heaven forbid—allowing interaction of this type to permeate, even fleetingly, the conversations of the community. Yet such vigilance on your part in avoiding discord and in not becoming entangled in society’s controversies should under no circumstances be construed as aloofness from the many pressing concerns of this time. Far from it. You are among the most active and earnest of humanity’s well-wishers. But, whether through deeds or words, the merit of your every contribution to social well-being lies, first, in your resolute commitment to discover that precious point of unity where contrasting perspectives overlap and around which contending peoples can coalesce. 

- The Universal House of Justice  (From a message to the Baha’is of the World dated 25 November 2020)

November 19, 2020

New Site: Kindling Our Spirits - Zoom sessions: - Exploring Baha’i Writings on various themes


Downloadable compilations from the Baha’i Writings used in various zoom sessions:

Happiness

Forgiveness

Love & Compassion

Humility

Patience

Praiseworthy Character

Connecting our hearts to Baha'u'llah

October 28, 2020

The incredibly awesome significance of this “Day” and the exceptional priviledge of those who have ecognized God’s latest Manifestation

This is the Day whereon the Most Great Spirit was embodied in the most comely of forms, and, proceeding from the Realm on high, approached the Scene of transcendent glory with such radiance as to delight the Maid of Heaven, until she paused, suspended in the air before Our presence, with such an adorning as to seize with longing the hearts of the Messengers of God. Blessed, then, be God, Who hath created this noble angel!

Thereupon the inmates of Paradise, and beyond them the inhabitants of the retreats of holiness and the realms of communion, and beyond them they that dwell within the habitations of heaven and they that abide beneath the tabernacle of concealment, stepped forth one and all from their lofty mansions, and, conversing in hushed tones, apprised one another of that which had come to pass upon the earth. It was as though the Ancient King had revealed Himself unto Himself, and then, with undisputed sovereignty, unto His servants and His creatures in the realm of creation. Blessed, then, be God, Who bringeth forth whatsoever He pleaseth through the potency of His all-compelling command!

Then the Most Great Spirit raised a call that resounded through the entire creation, saying: “Solaced be your eyes, O ye inhabitants of earth and heaven, O ye manifestations of the divine names and attributes, and O ye who are immersed beneath the oceans of grandeur that lie beyond the worlds of intimation and allusion! This is the Day whereon God Himself, the Most Exalted, the Most High, through His own sacred and glorious Self, beareth round unto every soul, high and low alike, the cup of nearness and reunion.” Blessed, then, be God, Who hath revealed Himself in all His manifold grace on this greatest of all days! 

- Baha’u’llah  (‘Days of remembrance’)

October 21, 2020

The results of the Báb’s isolation and incarceration in Ádhirbáyján

Mah-Ku, circa 1935 
And yet, the foolish and short-sighted Hájí Mírzá Áqásí [Persia’s Prime Minister] fondly imagined that by confounding the plan of the Báb to meet the Sháh face to face in the capital, and by relegating Him to the farthest corner of the realm, he had stifled the Movement at its birth, and would soon conclusively triumph over its Founder. Little did he imagine that the very isolation he was forcing upon his Prisoner would enable Him to evolve the System designed to incarnate the soul of His Faith, and would afford Him the opportunity of safeguarding it from disintegration and schism, and of proclaiming formally and unreservedly His mission. Little did he imagine that this very confinement would induce that Prisoner’s exasperated disciples and companions to cast off the shackles of an antiquated theology, and precipitate happenings that would call forth from them a prowess, a courage, a self-renunciation unexampled in their country’s history. Little did he imagine that by this very act he would be instrumental in fulfilling the authentic tradition ascribed to the Prophet of Islám regarding the inevitability of that which should come to pass in Ádhirbáyján. Untaught by the example of the governor of Shíráz, who, with fear and trembling, had, at the first taste of God’s avenging wrath, fled ignominiously and relaxed his hold on his Captive, the Grand Vizir of Muhammad Sháh was, in his turn, through the orders he had issued, storing up for himself severe and inevitable disappointment, and paving the way for his own ultimate downfall. 

- Shoghi Effendi  (‘God Passes By’)

October 15, 2020

Some references to the Báb in previous religions

He the “Qá’im” (He Who ariseth) promised to the Shí’ahs, the “Mihdí” (One Who is guided) awaited by the Sunnís, the “Return of John the Baptist” expected by the Christians, the “Ushídar-Máh” referred to in the Zoroastrian scriptures, the “Return of Elijah” anticipated by the Jews, Whose Revelation was to show forth “the signs and tokens of all the Prophets”, Who was to “manifest the perfection of Moses, the radiance of Jesus and the patience of Job” had appeared, proclaimed His Cause, been mercilessly persecuted and died gloriously. The “Second Woe,” spoken of in the Apocalypse of St. John the Divine, had, at long last, appeared, and the first of the two “Messengers,” Whose appearance had been prophesied in the Qur’án, had been sent down. The first “Trumpet-Blast”, destined to smite the earth with extermination, announced in the latter Book, had finally been sounded. “The Inevitable,” “The Catastrophe,” “The Resurrection,” “The Earthquake of the Last Hour,” foretold by that same Book, had all come to pass. The “clear tokens” had been “sent down,” and the “Spirit” had “breathed,” and the “souls” had “waked up,” and the “heaven” had been “cleft,” and the “angels” had “ranged in order,” and the “stars” had been “blotted out,” and the “earth” had “cast forth her burden,” and “Paradise” had been “brought near,” and “hell” had been “made to blaze,” and the “Book” had been “set,” and the “Bridge” had been “laid out,” and the “Balance” had been “set up,” and the “mountains scattered in dust.”

- Shoghi Effendi  (‘God Passes By’)

October 9, 2020

Baha’u’llah’s “best counsel”

Lay not on any soul a load which ye would not wish to be laid upon you, and desire not for anyone the things ye would not desire for yourselves. This is My best counsel unto you, did ye but observe it. 

- Baha'u'llah  (Suriy-i-Muluk [Tablet to the Kings], The Summons of the Lord of Hosts)

October 1, 2020

Birth of Baha’u’llah

O concourse of ardent lovers! By the righteousness of God, this is a night the like of which hath never been witnessed in the world of creation. And this, verily, is from the grace of God, the All-Glorious, the Most Bountiful.

This is the night wherein the Spirit intoned such a melody as to throw into commotion the inner realities of all men, proclaiming: “Rejoice, O Concourse on high, within your retreats of Paradise!”

Whereupon did the Voice of God call out from within the Tabernacle of holiness and bounty: “This, indeed, is the night wherein He Who is the reality of the All-Merciful hath been born, the night wherein every eternal command hath been expounded by the Pen of the All-Glorious. Rejoice, then, with exceeding gladness, O concourse of the Bayán!”

This is the night wherein the Mystic Dove raised its call upon the branches and boughs of heaven, saying: “Rejoice, O denizens of Paradise!”

Say: This is the night wherein the veils of glory were parted before the eyes of the people of certitude, and the Bird of Heaven warbled its melody in the midmost heart of the celestial realm. Rejoice, then, O embodiments of sanctity in the Everlasting City!

This is the night wherein God shed abroad the splendour of all His most excellent names and established Himself upon the throne of every pure and radiant heart. Rejoice, then, O concourse of the Bayán!

This is the night wherein the oceans of forgiveness surged and the breezes of providence were wafted abroad. Rejoice, then, O companions of the All-Merciful!

 This is the night wherein the trespasses of all that dwell on earth were forgiven. This, verily, is a joyful tiding unto all who have been created in the contingent realm!

 Say: This is the night wherein the assigned measures of bounty and grace were inscribed upon the scrolls of might and assurance, that every trace of sorrow might thereby be banished forever from all things. Rejoice, then, O ye that have stepped forth into the realm of being! 

- Baha’u’llah  (‘Days of Remembrance’)

September 23, 2020

1946: National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada

Left to right: William Kenneth Christian, Amelia Collins, Edna True, Horace Holley, Paul Haney, Philip Sprague, Dorothy Baker, Elsie Austin, and George Latimer 
(Baha'i News, July 1946)

September 13, 2020

“The fruits of the human tree”: - “upright character, virtuous deeds and a goodly utterance”

Man is like unto a tree. If he be adorned with fruit, he hath been and will ever be worthy of praise and commendation. Otherwise a fruitless tree is but fit for fire. The fruits of the human tree are exquisite, highly desired and dearly cherished. Among them are upright character, virtuous deeds and a goodly utterance. The springtime for earthly trees occurreth once every year, while the one for human trees appeareth in the Days of God—exalted be His glory. Were the trees of men’s lives to be adorned in this divine Springtime with the fruits that have been mentioned, the effulgence of the light of Justice would, of a certainty, illumine all the dwellers of the earth and everyone would abide in tranquillity and contentment beneath the sheltering shadow of Him Who is the Object of all mankind. The Water for these trees is the living water of the sacred Words uttered by the Beloved of the world. In one instant are such trees planted and in the next their branches shall, through the outpourings of the showers of divine mercy, have reached the skies. A dried-up tree, however, hath never been nor will be worthy of any mention. 
- Baha’u’llah  (‘Tablets of Baha’u’llah revealed after the Kitab-i-Aqdas’)

August 26, 2020

Canada 1971: An Auxiliary Board Team Deepening Conference

(Canadian Baha’i News, no. 256, February-March 1972)

 On July 2, 3, and 4, 1971, an Auxiliary Board Team Deepening Conference was held in Brandon, Manitoba, supported by the local Spiritual Assembly of that city and by the Baha 'is of Cornwallis. Friends from six different countries and from many areas of Canada were among the 100 plus attending. 

August 20, 2020

“I want you to paint My Servitude to God."

The Master was seated in a dark corner, His black 'aba melting into the background - and again I saw Him as the Face of God - and quailed. How could I paint the Face of God?

"I want you," He said, "to paint My Servitude to God."

"Oh my Lord," I cried, "only the Holy Spirit could paint Your Servitude to God. No human hand could do it. Pray for me, or I am lost. I implore You, inspire me."

"I will pray," He answered, "and as you are doing this only for the sake of God, you will be inspired."

And then something amazing happened. All fear fell away from me, and it was as though Someone Else saw through my eyes, worked through my hand.

All the points, all the planes in that matchless Face were so clear to me that my hand couldn't put them down quickly enough - couldn't keep pace with the clarity of my vision. I painted in ecstasy - free as I had never been before. At the end of the half hour the foundation of the head was perfect. 
Juliet Thompson  (World Order magazine, Fall 1971)

August 14, 2020

The “true meaning of the three Persons of the Trinity”

…the reality of Christ was a clear mirror wherein the Sun of Truth—that is, the divine Essence—appeared and shone forth with infinite perfections and attributes. It is not that the Sun, which is the Essence of the Divinity, was ever divided or multiplied—for it remains one—but it became manifest in the mirror. That is why Christ said, “The Father is in the Son”, meaning that that Sun is manifest and visible in this mirror.

The Holy Spirit is the outpouring grace of God which was revealed and manifested in the reality of Christ. Prophethood is the station of the heart of Christ, and the Holy Spirit is the station of His spirit. It is thus evident and established that the Essence of the Divinity is absolute oneness and has no peer, equal, or likeness.

This is the true meaning of the three Persons of the Trinity. Otherwise, the foundations of the religion of God would rest upon an illogical proposition which no mind could ever conceive, and how could the mind be required to believe a thing which it cannot conceive? Such a thing could not be grasped by human reason—how much less be clothed in an intelligible form—but would remain sheer fancy. 
- ‘Abdu’l-Baha  (Table talks in Akka, authenticated by ‘Abdu’l-Baha; ‘Some Answered Questions’ – 2014 revised translation by the Baha’i World Center)

August 8, 2020

“True consolidation”

True consolidation is to ensure that the love of Bahá'u'lláh and devotion to His Faith are firmly rooted in the hearts of the believers; this is the essential foundation for the subsequent addition of increased knowledge of the teachings and the development of the Bahá'í way of life. 
- The Universal House of Justice  (From a letter dated November 3, 1974 to a National Spiritual Assembly, in an unpublished compilation prepared by the International Teaching Center: ‘Teaching and Commitment’; compilation: Guidelines for Local Spiritual Assemblies [Developing Distinctive Baha’i Communities], NSA of USA, 1998 edition)

July 27, 2020

A prayer for America: - Nation, Government, People

O God! bless this nation. Confirm this government. Reveal Thy glory unto this people and confer upon them life eternal. O God! illumine the faces, render the hearts radiant, exhilarate the breasts, crown the heads with the diadem of Thy Providence, cause them to soar in Thy pure atmosphere so they may reach the highest pinnacles of Thy splendor. Assist them in order that this world may ever find the light and effulgence of Thy Presence. O God! shelter this congregation and admonish this nation. Render them progressive in all degrees. May they become leaders in the world of humanity. May they be Thy examples among humankind. May they be manifestations of Thy grace. May they be filled with the inspiration of Thy Word. 

Thou art the Powerful! Thou art the Mighty! Thou art the Giver and Thou art the Omniscient!   
- ‘Abdu’l-Baha  (The prayer ‘Abdu’l-Baha recited at the close of His talk at Plymouth Congregational Church, Chicago, 1912: Star of the West [The Baha’i Magazine] vol. 15, no. 11, February 1925)

July 21, 2020

July 11, 2020

1979: Continental Board of Counsellors for North America with Hand of the Cause William Sears

Left to right: Sarah Pereira, William Sears, Edna True, Lloyd Gardner, Velma Sherrill, Angus Cowan. 
(Baha’i Canada, Vol. 2, No. 1, May 1979)

July 2, 2020

July 2, 2020: Design unveiled for first Baha’i Temple in the Democratic Republic of the Congo

The design of the national Baha'i House of Worship of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is inspired by traditional artworks structures and natural features of the DR. The House of Worship will embody the vibrant devotional spirit that has been fostered over the decades by the Baha'is of the DRC. 

June 25, 2020

The role that Mashriqu'l-Adhkar “as designed by Bahá'u'lláh, is destined to play in the organic life of the Bahá'í community” – “service to humanity”; “removing the ills that have so long and so grievously afflicted humanity”

House of Worship in Kenya under construction , June 2020
(Baha'i World News Service)
…however inspiring the conception of Bahá'í worship, as witnessed in the central Edifice of this exalted Temple, it cannot be regarded as the sole, nor even the essential, factor in the part which the Mashriqu'l-Adhkar, as designed by Bahá'u'lláh, is destined to play in the organic life of the Bahá'í community. Divorced from the social, humanitarian, educational and scientific pursuits centering around the Dependencies of the Mashriqu'l-Adhkar, Bahá'í worship, however exalted in its conception, however passionate in fervor, can never hope to achieve beyond the meagre and often transitory results produced by the contemplations of the ascetic or the communion of the passive worshiper. It cannot afford lasting satisfaction and benefit to the worshiper himself, much less to humanity in general, unless and until translated and transfused into that dynamic and disinterested service to the cause of humanity which it is the supreme privilege of the Dependencies of the Mashriqu'l-Adhkar to facilitate and promote. Nor will the exertions, no matter how disinterested and strenuous, of those who within the precincts of the Mashriqu'l-Adhkar will be engaged in administering the affairs of the future Bahá'í Commonwealth, fructify and prosper unless they are brought into close and daily communion with those spiritual agencies centering in and radiating from the central Shrine of the Mashriqu'l-Adhkar.

June 21, 2020

“One soul can be the cause of the spiritual illumination of a continent.”

You must not make the great mistake of judging our Faith by one community which obviously needs to study and obey the Bahá'í teachings. Human frailties and peculiarities can be a great test. But the only way, or perhaps I should say the first and best way, to remedy such situations, is to oneself do what is right. One soul can be the cause of the spiritual illumination of a continent. Now that you have seen, and remedied, a great fault in your life, now that you see more clearly what is lacking in your own community, there is nothing to prevent you from arising and showing such an example, such a love and spirit of service, as to enkindle the hearts of your fellow Bahá'ís.

He urges you to study deeply the teachings, teach others, study with those Bahá'ís who are anxious to do so, the deeper teachings of our Faith, and through example, effort and prayer, bring about a change. 
- Shoghi Effendi  (From a letter dated 30 September 1949 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer; The Compilation of Compilations, vol. I, The Importance of Deepening Our Knowledge and Understanding of the Faith)

June 19, 2020

Japan 1931: Baha'i Naw-Ruz Celebration

Baha’is and their friends, Tokyo, Japan, March 21, 1931, Feast of Naw-Ruz. Seated in the center is Dr. K. Masujima in whose garden the gathering was held; at his right Miss Agnes B. Alexander, Baha'i teacher. 
(Star of the West, vol. 22, no. 4, July 1931)

June 16, 2020

The Báb created a list of the first 361 believers – to be given to Baha’u’llah

As the Báb bade farewell to the Letters of the Living, He instructed them, each and all, to record separately the name of every believer who embraced the Faith and identified himself with its teachings. The list of these believers He bade them enclose in sealed letters, and address them to His maternal uncle, Hájí Mírzá Siyyid ‘Alí, in Shíráz, who would in turn deliver them to Him. “I shall classify these lists,” He told them, “into eighteen sets of nineteen names each. Each set will constitute one váhid.[1] All these names, in these eighteen sets, will, together with the first váhid, consisting of My own name and those of the eighteen Letters of the Living, constitute the number of Kull-i-Shay’.[2]  Of all these believers I shall make mention in the Tablet of God, so that upon each one of them the Beloved of our hearts may, in the Day when He shall have ascended the throne of glory, confer His inestimable blessings, and declare them the dwellers of His Paradise.” 
- Nabil ('The Dawn-Breakers', translated and edited by Shoghi Effendi)
[1] The numerical value of the word “váhid,” which means “unity,” is 19
[2] The numerical value of “Kull-i-Shay’,” which means “all things,” is 361, or 19 X 19.