June 19, 2019

New Site: Questions & Answers - - daily exploration of knowledge

Enhancing one’s overall knowledge --> spiritual, physical, intellectual, and emotional
To “discern with the eye of oneness His [God’s] glorious handiwork, and look into all things with a searching eye.” (Baha'u'llah, ‘Tablets of Baha'u'llah revealed after the Kitab-i-Aqdas’)

June 14, 2019

Salient objectives of the Local Spiritual Assembly

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 Baha'i 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 Baha'is 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. 
  • 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 dated 30 July 1972 to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of Bolivia; ‘Messages from the Universal House of Justice 1963-1986’)

June 12, 2019

1957: Hands of the Cause residing in the Holy Land

Bahji 1957: The nine Hands of the Cause who resided in the Holy Land after the passing of Shoghi Effendi

June 7, 2019

The “two great processes...at work in the world”

We are told by Shoghi Effendi that two great processes are at work in the world: the great Plan of God, tumultuous in its progress, working through mankind as a whole, tearing down barriers to world unity and forging humankind into a unified body in the fires of suffering and experience. This process will produce, in God's due time, the Lesser Peace, the political unification of the world. Mankind at that time can be likened to a body that is unified but without life. The second process, the task of breathing life into this unified body of creating true unity and spirituality culminating in the Most Great Peace is that of the Bahá'ís, who are labouring consciously, with detailed instructions and continuing divine guidance, to erect the fabric of the Kingdom of God on earth, into which they call their fellow-men, thus conferring upon them eternal life.

The working out of God's Major Plan proceeds mysteriously in ways directed by Him alone, but the Minor Plan that He has given us to execute, as our part in His grand design for the redemption of mankind, is clearly delineated. 
- The Universal House of Justice  (From a letter dated 8 December 1967 to an individual believer; compilation ’Holocaust, the Greater Plan of God, and the Destiny of the Jewish People’, prepared by the Research Department of the Universal House of Justice; also in ‘Messages from the Universal House of Justice 1963-1986)

June 2, 2019

The Báb “revealed no less than nine commentaries on the whole of the Qur’án”

It was during His incarceration in the fortress of Máh-Kú that He, according to the testimony of Shaykh Hasan-i-Zunúzí, who transcribed during those nine months the verses dictated by the Báb to His amanuensis, revealed no less than nine commentaries on the whole of the Qur’án—commentaries whose fate, alas, is unknown, and one of which, at least the Author Himself affirmed, surpassed in some respects a book as deservedly famous as the Qayyúmu’l-Asmá. 
- Shoghi Effendi  (‘God Passes By’)

May 28, 2019

The divines of every city in Persia received Epistles from the Báb

The great bulk of the writings emanating from the Báb’s prolific mind was, however, reserved for the period of His confinement in Máh-Kú and Chihríq. To this period must probably belong the unnumbered Epistles which, as attested by no less an authority than Bahá’u’lláh, the Báb specifically addressed to the divines of every city in Persia, as well as to those residing in Najaf and Karbilá, wherein He set forth in detail the errors committed by each one of them. 
- Shoghi Effendi  (‘God Passes By’)

May 22, 2019

References to Baha’u’llah by Jewish Prophets

Of Him David had sung in his Psalms, acclaiming Him as the “Lord of Hosts” and the “King of Glory.” To Him Haggai had referred as the “Desire of all nations,” and Zachariah as the “Branch” Who “shall grow up out of His place,” and “shall build the Temple of the Lord.” Ezekiel had extolled Him as the “Lord” Who “shall be king over all the earth,” while to His day Joel and Zephaniah had both referred as the “day of Jehovah,” the latter describing it as “a day of wrath, a day of trouble and distress, a day of wasteness and desolation, a day of darkness and gloominess, a day of clouds and thick darkness, a day of the trumpet and alarm against the fenced cities, and against the high towers.” His Day Ezekiel and Daniel had, moreover, both acclaimed as the “day of the Lord,” and Malachi described as “the great and dreadful day of the Lord” when “the Sun of Righteousness” will “arise, with healing in His wings,” whilst Daniel had pronounced His advent as signalizing the end of the “abomination that maketh desolate.” 
- Shoghi Effendi  (‘God Passes By’)

May 17, 2019

Who is a “Baha’i”?

…a Bahá'í is one who embodieth all the perfections, that he must shine out like a lighted taper — not be darkness upon darkness and yet bear the name "Bahá'í". 
- ‘Abdu’l-Baha  (‘Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá’; The Compilation of Compilations, vol. I, Excellence in All Things)

May 13, 2019

Our physical world is a “shadow” of the world of the Kingdom

Know thou that the Kingdom is the real world, and this nether place is only its shadow stretching out. A shadow hath no life of its own; its existence is only a fantasy, and nothing more; it is but images reflected in water, and seeming as pictures to the eye.
- ‘Abdu'l-Baha  (‘Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Baha’)

May 9, 2019

Ancient Persia – ‘Abdu’l-Baha describes her glorious past…

Persia was verily the heart of the world and shone among the nations like a lighted taper. Her glory and prosperity broke from the horizon of humanity like the true dawn disseminating the light of knowledge and illumining the nations of the East and West. The fame of her victorious kings reached the ears of the dwellers at the poles of the earth. The majesty of her king of kings humbled the monarchs of Greece and Rome Her governing wisdom filled the sages with awe, and the rulers of the continents fashioned their laws upon her polity. The Persians being distinguished among the nations of the earth as a people of conquerors, and justly admired for their civilisation and learning, their country became the glorious centre of all the sciences and arts, the mine of culture and a fount of virtues. 
- ‘Abdu’l-Baha  (Quoted by Shoghi Effendin in the ‘Introduction’ section of ‘The Dawn-Breakers’)

May 6, 2019

A “twofold Manifestation” expected by both Shi’ah and Sunni sects of Islam

Important as these differences are, both sects agree, however, in expecting a twofold Manifestation. The shí’ahs look for the Qá’im, who is to come in the fulness of time, and also for the return of the Imám Husayn. The sunnís await the appearance of the Mihdí and also “the return of Jesus Christ.” When, at the beginning of his Mission, the Báb, continuing the tradition of the shí’ahs, proclaimed His function under the double title of, first, the Qá’im and, second, the Gate, or Báb, some of the Muhammadans misunderstood the latter reference. They imagined His meaning to be that He was a fifth Gate In succession to Abu’l Hasan-‘Alí. His true meaning, however, as He himself clearly announced, was very different. He was the Qá’im; but the Qá’im, though a High Prophet, stood in relation to a succeeding and greater Manifestation as did John the Baptist to the Christ. He was the Forerunner of One yet more mighty than Himself. He was to decrease; that Mighty One was to increase. And as John the Baptist had been the Herald or Gate of the Christ, so was the Báb the Herald or Gate of Bahá’u’lláh. 
- Shoghi Effendi  (‘Introduction to ‘The Dawn-Breakers’)

May 3, 2019

Wisdom of receiving parental consent in Baha’i marraige

This great law He has laid down to strengthen the social fabric, to knit closer the ties of the home, to place a certain gratitude and respect in the hearts of children for those who have given them life and sent their souls out on the eternal journey towards their Creator. We Bahá'ís must realize that in present-day society the exact opposite process is taking place: young people care less and less for their parents' wishes, divorce is considered a natural right, and obtained on the flimsiest and most unwarrantable and shabby pretexts. People separated from each other, especially if one of them has had full custody of the children, are only too willing to belittle the importance of the partner in marriage also responsible as a parent for bringing those children into this world. The Bahá'ís must, through rigid adherence to the Bahá'í laws and teachings, combat these corrosive forces which are so rapidly destroying home life and the beauty of family relationships, and tearing down the moral structure of society. 
- Shoghi Effendi  (From a letter dated 25 October 1947, written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States; compilation: ‘Consent of Parents to Marriage’, prepared by the Research Department)

April 30, 2019

A “new stirring throughout all created things” – as a result of Baha’u’llah’s Declaration in the Garden of Ridvan

Thou didst wish to celebrate the Day of Ridvan with a feast, and to have those present on that day engage in reciting Tablets with delight and joy, and thou didst request me to send thee a letter to be read on that day. My letter is this:

O ye beloved, and ye handmaids of the Merciful! This is the day when the Day-Star of Truth rose over the horizon of life, and its glory spread, and its brightness shone out with such power that it clove the dense and high-piled clouds and mounted the skies of the world in all its splendour. Hence do ye witness a new stirring throughout all created things.

See how, in this day, the scope of sciences and arts hath widened out, and what wondrous technical advances have been made, and to what a high degree the mind's powers have increased, and what stupendous inventions have appeared.

April 23, 2019

The "'Dawn-Breakers' of Nabil'": one of the three books every “Bahá'í should master…and be able to explain their contents to others”

... Shoghi Effendi hopes that you will exert all your effort to deepen your knowledge of the literature of the movement, until you become fully acquainted with its spirit and tenets. Unless you do obtain such a firm hold you will never be able to teach others and render real service to the promulgation of the Faith. Of special importance is the Book of the Íqán which explains the attitude of the Cause towards the prophets of God and their mission in the history of society. Besides this there is Some Answered Questions of the Master and the 'Dawn-Breakers' of Nabil. Every Bahá'í should master these books and be able to explain their contents to others. Besides their importance, they are interesting and most absorbing.
- Shoghi Effendi  (From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, February 9, 1932; compilations: ‘Lights of Guidance’)

April 18, 2019

“All calamities and afflictions have been created for man so that he may spurn this mortal world…”

O thou servant of God! Do not grieve at the afflictions and calamities that have befallen thee. All calamities and afflictions have been created for man so that he may spurn this mortal world—a world to which he is much attached. When he experienceth severe trials and hardships, then his nature will recoil and he will desire the eternal realm—a realm which is sanctified from all afflictions and calamities. Such is the case with the man who is wise. He shall never drink from a cup which is at the end distasteful, but, on the contrary, he will seek the cup of pure and limpid water. He will not taste of the honey that is mixed with poison.

Praise thou God, that thou hast been tried and hast experienced such a test. Be patient and grateful. Turn thy face to the divine Kingdom and strive that thou mayest acquire merciful characteristics, mayest become illumined and acquire the attributes of the Kingdom and of the Lord. Endeavour to become indifferent to the pleasures of this world and to its comfort, to remain firm and steadfast in the Covenant and to promulgate the Cause of God.

This is the cause of the exaltation of man, the cause of his glory and of his salvation. 
- ‘Abdu’l-Baha  (‘Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Baha)

April 15, 2019

Ways in which a Baha’i can help improving the conditions of humanity - The Universal House of Justice explains

It is understandable that Bahá'ís who witness the miserable conditions under which so many human beings have to live, or who hear of a sudden disaster that has struck a certain area of the world, are moved to do something practical to ameliorate those conditions and to help their suffering fellow-mortals.

There are many ways in which help can be rendered. Every Bahá'í has the duty to acquire a trade or profession through which he will earn that wherewith he can support himself and his family; in the choice of such work he can seek those activities which are of benefit to his fellow-men and not merely those which promote his personal interests, still less those whose effects are actually harmful.

There are also the situations in which an individual Bahá'í or a Spiritual Assembly is confronted with an urgent need which neither justice nor compassion could allow to go unheeded and unhelped. How many are the stories told of 'Abdu'l-Bahá in such situations, when He would even take off a garment He was wearing and give it to a shivering man in rags.

April 5, 2019

Bahá'u'lláh’s “influence permeates all living beings”

Bahá'u'lláh found the world in a "strange sleep". But what a disturbance His coming has unloosed! The peoples of the earth had been separated, many parts of the human race socially and spiritually isolated. But the world of humanity today bears little resemblance to that which Bahá'u'lláh left a century ago. Unbeknownst to the great majority, His influence permeates all living beings. Indeed, no domain of life remains unaffected. In the burgeoning energy, the magnified perspectives, the heightened global consciousness; in the social and political turbulence, the fall of kingdoms, the emancipation of nations, the intermixture of cultures, the clamour for development; in the agitation over the extremes of wealth and poverty, the acute concern over the abuse of the environment, the leap of consciousness regarding the rights of women; in the growing tendency towards ecumenism, the increasing call for a new world order; in the astounding advances in the realms of science, technology, literature and the arts -- in all this tumult, with its paradoxical manifestations of chaos and order, integration and disintegration, are the signs of His power as World Reformer, the proof of His claim as Divine Physician, the truth of His Word as the All-Knowing Counsellor. 
- The Universal House of Justice  (From a Tribute to Bahá’u’lláh on the Centenary of His Passing, May 1992; ‘Messages from the Universal House of Justice, 1986-2001)

March 29, 2019

The “elasticity of the Administrative Order”

Now that your Assembly is formed, and is embarking on its independent existence as a National Body, he wishes to emphasize a point which he is constantly stressing to other National Bodies: you must avoid issuing rules and regulations. The fundamentals laid down in the Bahá’í Administration must, of course, be adhered to, but there is a tendency for Assemblies to constantly issue detailed procedures and rules to the friends, and he considers this hampers the work of the Cause, and is entirely premature. As far as is possible cases which come up should be dealt with and settled as they arise, and not a blanket ruling be laid down to cover all possible similar cases. This preserves the elasticity of the Administrative Order and prevents red tape from developing and hampering the work of the Cause. 
- Shoghi Effendi  (From a letter dated 4 November 1948 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the NSA of Canada; ‘Messages to Canada’)

March 25, 2019

The Báb had sent “Gates” to prepare humanity for His appearance in 1844

O ye peoples of the earth! During the time of My absence I sent down the Gates unto you. However the believers, except for a handful, obeyed them not. Formerly I sent forth unto you Ahmad and more recently Kázim, but apart from the pure in heart amongst you no one followed them. What hath befallen you, O people of the Book? Will ye not fear the One true God, He Who is your Lord, the Ancient of Days?… O ye who profess belief in God! I adjure you by Him Who is the Eternal Truth, have ye discerned among the precepts of these Gates anything inconsistent with the commandments of God as set forth in this Book? Hath your learning deluded you by reason of your impiety? Take ye heed then, for verily your God, the Lord of Eternal Truth, is with you and in very truth is watchful over you.… 
- The Báb  (From Qayyumu’l-Asma; ‘Selections from the Writings of the Báb)

March 22, 2019

Tests from other Baha’is – Some Baha’is “are still to a certain extent affected by the society from which they have sprung”

He was very sorry to hear that you have had so many tests in your Bahá'í life. There is no doubt that many of them are due to our own nature. In other words, if we are very sensitive, or if we are in some way brought up in a different environment from the Bahá'ís amongst whom we live, we naturally see things differently and may feel them more acutely; and the other side of it is that the imperfections of our fellow-Bahá'ís can be a great trial to us.

We must always remember that in the cesspool of materialism, Bahá'ís - that is some of them - are still to a certain extent affected by the society from which they have sprung. In other words, they have recognized the Manifestation of God, but they have not been believers long enough, or perhaps tried hard enough, to become 'a new creation'.

March 20, 2019

A powerful proof of the truth of this “most resplendent Dispensation”: - The enrollment of “a number of illumined divines, of men of consummate learning, [and] of doctors of mature wisdom” during the days of the Manifestation of God – Baha’u’llah explains

Amongst the proofs demonstrating the truth of this Revelation is this, that in every age and Dispensation, whenever the invisible Essence was revealed in the person of His Manifestation, certain souls, obscure and detached from all worldly entanglements, would seek illumination from the Sun of Prophethood and Moon of Divine guidance, and would attain unto the Divine Presence. For this reason, the divines of the age and those possessed of wealth, would scorn and scoff at these people. Even as He hath revealed concerning them that erred: “Then said the chiefs of His people who believed not, ‘We see in Thee but a man like ourselves; and we see not any who have followed Thee except our meanest ones of hasty judgment, nor see we any excellence in you above ourselves: nay, we deem you liars.’” They caviled at those holy Manifestations, and protested saying: “None hath followed you except the abject amongst us, those who are worthy of no attention.” Their aim was to show that no one amongst the learned, the wealthy, and the renowned believed in them. By this and similar proofs they sought to demonstrate the falsity of Him that speaketh naught but the truth.

In this most resplendent Dispensation, however, this most mighty Sovereignty, a number of illumined divines, of men of consummate learning, of doctors of mature wisdom, have attained unto His Court, drunk the cup of His divine Presence, and been invested with the honor of His most excellent favor. They have renounced, for the sake of the Beloved, the world and all that is therein....

March 18, 2019

The “true nature of Baha'u'llah's revelation”: “as the sole hope for the pacification and unification of the world”

The entrance of the Cause onto the world scene is apparent from a number of public statements in which we have been characterized as "model citizens," "gentle," "law-abiding," "not guilty of any political offence or crime" -- all excellent but utterly inadequate insofar as the reality of the Faith and its aims and purposes are concerned. Nevertheless people are willing to hear about the Faith, and the opportunity must be seized. Persistently greater and greater efforts must be made to acquaint the leaders of the world, in all departments of life, with the true nature of Baha'u'llah's revelation as the sole hope for the pacification and unification of the world. 
- The Universal House of Justice  (Ridvan 1984 message)

March 15, 2019

What can a Baha’i do if he/she notices “fellow believers violating Bahá'í laws or engaging in conduct inimical to the welfare and best interests of the Faith” – The Universal House of Justice explains

While it can be a severe test to a Bahá'í to see fellow believers violating Bahá'í laws or engaging in conduct inimical to the welfare and best interests of the Faith, there is no fixed rule that a believer must follow when such conduct comes to his notice. A great deal depends upon the seriousness of the offence and upon the relationship which exists between him and the offender.

If the misconduct is blatant and flagrant or threatens the interests of the Faith the believer to whose attention it comes should immediately report it to the Local Spiritual Assembly. Once it is in the hands of the Assembly the believer's obligation is discharged and he should do no more than pray for the offender and continue to show him friendship and encouragement - unless, of course, the Spiritual Assembly asks him to take specific action.

Sometimes, however, the matter does not seem grave enough to warrant reporting to the Spiritual Assembly, in which case it may be best to ignore it altogether. There are also other things that can be done by the Bahá'í to whose notice such things come. For example he could foster friendly relations with the individual concerned, tactfully drawing him into Bahá'í activities in the hope that, as his knowledge of the teachings and awareness of the Faith deepens, he will spontaneously improve his patterns of conduct. Or perhaps the relationship is such that he can tactfully draw the offender's attention to the teachings on the subject - but here he must be very careful not to give him the impression of prying into a fellow-believer's private affairs or of telling him what he must do, which would not only be wrong in itself but might well produce the reverse of the desired reaction.

If a believer faced with knowledge of another Bahá'í's misconduct is unsure what course to take, he can, of course always consult his Local Spiritual Assembly for advice. If, for some reason, he is reluctant at that stage to inform his Spiritual Assembly, he can consult an Auxiliary Board member or Assistant.

Whatever steps are taken, it is vital that the believers refrain from gossip and backbiting, for this can only harm the Faith, causing perhaps more damage than would have been caused by the original offence.
- The Universal House of Justice  (From a letter dated 20 February 1977 written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer; compilation: ‘Removal of Administrative Rights’, prepared by the  Research Department of the Universal House of Justice, 1993)

March 13, 2019

Baha’u’llah validates an Islamic tradition which mentions “four signs from four Prophets” to be appeared in the Qá’im (the Báb)

In the “Bihár” it is recorded: “In our Qá’im there shall be four signs from four Prophets, Moses, Jesus, Joseph, and Muhammad. The sign from Moses, is fear and expectation; from Jesus, that which was spoken of Him; from Joseph, imprisonment and dissimulation; from Muhammad, the revelation of a Book similar to the Qur’án.” 
- Baha’u’llah  (‘The Kitab-i-Iqan’)

March 1, 2019

Value of intuition

With regard to your question as to the value of intuition as a source of guidance for the individual: implicit faith in our intuitive powers is unwise, but through daily prayer and sustained effort one can discover, though not always and fully, God’s will intuitively. Under no circumstances, however, can a person be absolutely certain that he is recognizing God’s will, through the exercise of his intuition. It often happens that the latter results in completely misrepresenting the truth, and thus becomes a source of error rather than of guidance. 
- Shoghi Effendi  (From a letter dated 29 October 1938 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer; compilation: ‘Prayer and Devotional Life, prepared by the Baha’i World Center February, 2019)

February 26, 2019

“we have no priests in this Faith to interpret or answer for us”

The friends need only read the Writings; the answers are all in them; we have no priests in this Faith to interpret or answer for us. 
- Shoghi Effendi  (From a letter dated 23 April 1957 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer; compilation: ‘Prayer and Devotional Life, prepared by the Baha’i World Center February, 2019)

February 21, 2019

Do all souls enjoy eternal life? – ‘Abdu’l-Baha explains

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 hath explained in the texts of the Gospel. Any person whose insight is opened by God seeth the souls in their stations after the disintegration of the bodies. Verily they are living and are subsisting before their Lord and he seeth also the dead souls submerged in the gulfs of mortality.

Then know thou verily all the souls are created according to the nature of God and all are in the state of (unconscious) purity at the time of their births. But afterwards they differ from one another insofar as they acquire excellencies or defects. Nevertheless, the creatures have different degrees in existence insofar as the creation goes, for capacities are different; but all of them are good and pure (in their essence) then afterwards 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 there are the eye, ear, nose, mouth, hands and fingers. Notwithstanding the differences between these organs, all of them are useful in their proper spheres. But if one of them is out of order, there is need of a remedy and if the medicine does not heal, then the amputation of that member becomes necessary. 
- 'Abdul Baha  (From a Tablet, Star of the West, vol. 6, no. 19, March 2, 1916)

February 18, 2019

“primary duties” of Local Spiritual Assemblies

A prime element in the careful and wise direction needed is the achievement of victory in the Seven Year Plan, paying great attention to the development and strengthening of Local Assemblies. Great efforts must be made to encourage them to discharge their primary duties of
  • meeting regularly,
  • holding the Nineteen Day Feasts and observing Holy Days,
  • organizing children's classes,
  • encouraging the practice of family prayers,
  • undertaking extension teaching projects,
  • administering the Baha'i Fund and
  • constantly encouraging and leading their communities in all Baha'i activities.
- The Universal House of Justice  (Ridvan 1984 message; ‘Messages from the Universal House of Justice’)

February 15, 2019

Grouping broadly how people reacted towards a new Messenger from God – Baha’u’llah explains

No sooner had He proclaimed Thy Cause, and risen up to carry out the things prescribed unto Him in the Tablets of Thy decree, than the Great Terror fell upon Thy creatures.
  • Some turned towards Thee, and detached themselves from all except Thee, and sanctified their souls from the world and all that is therein, and were so enravished by the sweetness of Thy voice that they forsook all Thou hadst created in the kingdom of Thy creation.
  • Others recognized Thee and then hesitated,
  • others allowed the world to come in between them and Thee and to withhold them from recognizing Thee.
  • Others disdained Thee, and turned back from Thee, and wished to prevent Thee from achieving Thy purpose.
And yet behold how all of them are calling upon Thee, and are expecting the things they were promised in Thy Tablets. 
- Baha’u’llah  (‘Prayers and Meditations by Baha’u’llah’)

February 13, 2019

The high ideals of Baha’i administration – ‘Abdu’l-Baha explains

…to improve the characters of men; to extend the scope of knowledge; to abolish ignorance and prejudice; to strengthen the foundations of true religion in all hearts; to encourage self-reliance and discourage false imitation; ... to uphold truthfulness, audacity, frankness, and courage; to promote craftsmanship and agriculture; ... to educate, on a compulsory basis, children of both sexes; to insist on integrity in business transactions; to lay stress on the observance of honesty and piety; ... to acquire mastery and skill in the modern sciences and arts; to promote the interests of the public; ... to obey outwardly and inwardly and with true loyalty the regulations enacted by state and government; ... to honour, to extol and to follow the example of those who have distinguished themselves in science and learning. ... to help the needy from every creed or sect, and to collaborate with the people of the country in all welfare services. 
- ‘Abdu’l-Baha  (Excerpts from some Tablets, quoted in an open letter from the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of Iran about the Banning of the Baha'i Administration; included in Messages from the Universal House of Justice 1963-1986’)

February 10, 2019

“It is not merely material well-being that people need”

In our concern for such immediate obvious calls upon our succor we must not allow ourselves to forget the continuing, appalling burden of suffering under which millions of human beings are always groaning -- a burden which they have borne for century upon century and which it is the mission of Bahá'u'lláh to lift at last. The principal cause of this suffering, which one can witness wherever one turns, is the corruption of human morals and the prevalence of prejudice, suspicion, hatred, untrustworthiness, selfishness and tyranny among men. It is not merely material well-being that people need. What they desperately need is to know how to live their lives -- they need to know who they are, to what purpose they exist, and how they should act towards one another; and, once they know the answers to these questions they need to be helped to gradually apply these answers to everyday behavior. It is to the solution of this basic problem of mankind that the greater part of all our energy and resources should be directed. There are mighty agencies in this world, governments, foundations, institutions of many kinds with tremendous financial resources which are working to improve the material lot of human beings. Anything we Bahá'ís could add to such resources in the way of special funds or contributions would be a negligible drop in the ocean. However, alone among men we have the divinely-given remedy for the real ills of mankind; no one else is doing or can do this most important work. . . . 
- The Universal House of Justice  (From a letter dated November 19, 1974; compilation: Developing Distinctive Baha’i Communities, NSA of USA, 1998 edition)

February 6, 2019

The exalted station of the Báb – Baha’u’llah explains

It is clear and evident that, in this Dispensation wherein the banner of utterance hath been raised aloft and the candle of discernment hath been lit, there is no Lord but the Exalted One. [the Báb] He it is Who is one in His essence and one in His attributes, single in the kingdom of names and peerless in the realm of actions. It is by virtue of His blessed name that the seas of Divine Unity have been made to surge; it is through the power of His resistless command that the immutable decrees of destiny have been enforced; it is through the potency of His sovereign might that the dictates of fate have been fixed. Who hath the power to soar in that exalted atmosphere or to cherish another beloved than Him? We all abide beneath His shadow and seek our portion from the ocean of His grace. However far the gnat may fly, it can never traverse the length and breadth of heaven, and however high the sparrow may soar, it can never attain the tree of immortality. 
- Baha’u’llah  (‘From the Letter Bá to the Letter Há’ Tablet; ‘The Call of the Divine Beloved, Selected Mystical Works of Bahá’u’lláh’, published by the Baha’i World Centre, Online ‘Baha’i Reference Library’) 

February 4, 2019

Declaration of faith and the process of opening one’s “heart and mind to the reality of the Manifestation”

You have asked if the mere declaration of faith by a newcomer suffices to recognize him as a Bahá'í, and whether living the Bahá'í life should not be regarded as the basis of admission into the Faith. You should bear in mind that the signature on a card, in the sense that it represents a record of the date of the declaration and data about the declarant, is to satisfy administrative requirements enabling the enrollment of the new believer in the community. The deeper implication of the act of declaration of faith are between the individual and God. Shoghi Effendi has made several statements on this important subject, and we have been asked to share with you the following two excerpts from letters written on his behalf to individual believers:

“There is a difference between character and faith; it is often hard to accept this fact and put up with it, but the fact that a person may believe in and love the Cause -- even being ready to die for it -- and yet not have a good personal character or possess traits at variance with the teachings. We try to change, to let the Power of God help recreate us make us true Bahá'ís in deed as well as in belief. But the process is slow, sometimes it never happens because the individual does not try hard enough. But these things cause us suffering and are a test to us in our fellow-believers, most especially if we love them and have been their teacher!”

“The process of becoming a Bahá'ís necessarily slow and gradual. The essential is not that the beginner should have a full and detailed knowledge of the Cause, a thing which is obviously impossible in the vast majority of cases, but that he should, by act of his own will, be willing to uphold and follow the truth guidance set forth in the Teachings, and thus open his heart and mind to the reality of the Manifestation." 
- The Universal House of Justice  (From a letter dated 7 June, 1974, written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer; Bahá'í News of India, July/August, 1974; compilation: ‘Lights of Guidance’)