February 19, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

February 16, 2017

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

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

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

February 13, 2017

Courtesy – “the prince of virtues”

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

February 10, 2017

Designer of the House of Worship in 'Ishqabád

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

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

February 8, 2017

Some human attributes that are “immortal”...

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

February 7, 2017

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

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

February 2, 2017

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

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

January 29, 2017

Definition of “Verses of God”

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

January 26, 2017

Essential Requisites for Spiritual Growth

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

January 22, 2017

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

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

January 15, 2017

January 11, 2017

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

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

January 8, 2017

Baha’i attitude concerning increasing chaos and confusion in the world

“Chaos and confusion are daily increasing in the world. They will attain such intensity as to render the frame of mankind unable to bear them. Then will men be awakened and become aware that religion is the impregnable stronghold and the manifest light of the world, and its laws, exhortations and teachings, the source of life on earth.” (‘Abdu’l-Baha, quoted by the Universal House of Justice in a message  dated 10 February 1980, addressed to the Iranian believers resident in other countries throughout the world, translated from Persian; ‘Messages from the Universal House of Justice 1963-1986’)

Every discerning eye clearly sees that the early stages of this chaos have daily manifestations affecting the structure of human society; its destructive forces are uprooting time-honoured institutions which were a haven and refuge for the inhabitants of the earth in bygone days and centuries, and around which revolved all human affairs. The same destructive forces are also deranging the political, economic, scientific, literary, and moral equilibrium of the world and are destroying the fairest fruits of the present civilization. Political machinations of those in authority have placed the seal of obsolescence upon the root principles of the world's order. Greed and passion, deceit, hypocrisy, tyranny, and pride are dominating features afflicting human relations. Discoveries and inventions, which are the fruit of scientific and technological advancements, have become the means and tools of mass extermination and destruction and are in the hands of the ungodly. Even music, art, and literature, which are to represent and inspire the noblest sentiments and highest aspirations and should be a source of comfort and tranquillity for troubled souls, have strayed from the straight path and are now the mirrors of the soiled hearts of this confused, unprincipled, and disordered age. Perversions such as these shall result in the ordeals which have been prophesied by the Blessed Beauty in the following words: "... the earth will be tormented by a fresh calamity every day and unprecedented commotions will break out." "The day is approaching when its [civilization's] flame will devour the cities." (Baha’u’llah, quoted by Shoghi Effendi in ‘The Promised Day Is Come’)

January 5, 2017

1944: Commemorative Stamp - centenary of the first official telegraphic message

The commemorative stamp, issued in 1944, honoring the centenary of the first official telegraphic message -"What Hath God Wrought" - sent on May 24, 1844, from Baltimore to Washington. (The Baha'i World 1944-1946)

January 2, 2017

A “pressing challenge”: “Our children need to be nurtured spiritually and to be integrated into the life of the Cause.”

…there is a pressing challenge to be faced: Our children need to be nurtured spiritually and to be integrated into the life of the Cause. They should not be left to drift in a world so laden with moral dangers. In the current state of society, children face a cruel fate. Millions and millions in country after country are dislocated socially. Children find themselves alienated by parents and other adults whether they live in conditions of wealth or poverty. This alienation has its roots in a selfishness that is born of materialism that is at the core of the godlessness seizing the hearts of people everywhere. The social dislocation of children in our time is a sure mark of a society in decline; this condition is not, however, confined to any race, class, nation or economic condition—it cuts across them all. It grieves our hearts to realize that in so many parts of the world children are employed as soldiers, exploited as laborers, sold into virtual slavery, forced into prostitution, made the objects of pornography, abandoned by parents centered on their own desires, and subjected to other forms of victimization too numerous to mention. Many such horrors are inflicted by the parents themselves upon their own children. The spiritual and psychological damage defies estimation. Our worldwide community cannot escape the consequences of these conditions. This realization should spur us all to urgent and sustained effort in the interests of children and the future. 
- The Universal House of Justice  (From Ridvan 2000 message to the Baha’is of the World)

December 31, 2016

Responsibilities of youth in 21st Century – “a landscape of bewildering contrast”

At the end of the twentieth century, the majority of the population of Latin America is under the age of 30. As this generation of youth assumes the responsibilities of conducting the affairs of society, it will encounter a landscape of bewildering contrast. On the one hand, the region can justly boast brilliant achievements in the intellectual, technological and economic spheres. On the other, it has failed to reduce widespread poverty or to avoid a rising sea of violence that threatens to submerge its peoples. Why - and the question needs to be asked plainly -- has this society been impotent, despite its great wealth, to remove the injustices that are tearing its fiber apart?

The answer to this question, as amply evidenced by decades of contentious history, cannot be found in political passion, conflicting expressions of class interest, or technical recipes. What is called for is a spiritual revival, as a prerequisite to the successful application of political, economic and technological instruments. But there is a need for a catalyst. Be assured that, in spite of your small numbers, you are the channels through which such a catalyst can be provided.

December 30, 2016

The “conduct and the manner of the people of Bahá” – The “foundation of the most high pathway”

O ye friends of God! Show ye an endeavor that all the nations and communities of the world, even the enemies, put their trust, assurance and hope in you; that if a person falls into errors for a hundred-thousand times he may yet turn his face to you, hopeful that you will forgive his sins; for he must not become hopeless, neither grieved nor despondent. This is the conduct and the manner of the people of Bahá. This is the foundation of the most high pathway! Ye should conform your conduct and manners with the advices of 'Abdu'l-Bahá.  
- ‘Abdu’l-Baha  (‘Tablets of Abdul-Bahá Abbas’, vol. 2; The Compilation of Compilations, vol. 1, Excellence in All Things)

December 29, 2016

Louis Bourgeois: Canadian architect of Chicago Baha'i Temple

An early picture of Louis Bourgeois, the French Canadian architect of Chicago Baha'i Temple

December 28, 2016

Attributes of the Spiritual World

… the spiritual world … is the Kingdom of complete attraction and affinity. It is the Kingdom of the One Divine Spirit, the Kingdom of God. Therefore, the affinity and love manifest in this meeting, the divine susceptibilities witnessed here are not of this world but of the world of the Kingdom. When the souls become separated and selfish, the divine bounties do not descend, and the lights of the Supreme Concourse are no longer reflected even though the bodies meet together. A mirror with its back turned to the sun has no power to reflect the sun’s effulgence. Praise be to God! The purpose of this assembly is love and unity. 
- ‘Abdu’l-Baha  (From a talk on 12 April 1912 at Home of Mr. and Mrs. Howard MacNutt; ‘The Promulgation of Universal Peace: Talks Delivered by 'Abdu'l-Bahá during His Visit to the United States and Canada in 1912’)

December 26, 2016

Purpose of Man’s Creation

The purpose of the creation of man is the attainment of the supreme virtues of humanity through descent of the heavenly bestowals. The purpose of man's creation is, therefore, unity and harmony, not discord and separateness. If the atoms which compose the kingdom of the minerals were without affinity for each other, the earth would never have been formed, the universe could not have been created. Because they have affinity for each other, the power of life is able to manifest itself, and the organisms of the phenomenal world become possible. When this attraction or atomic affinity is destroyed, the power of life ceases to manifest; death and nonexistence result. 
- ‘Abdu’l-Baha  (From a talk on 12 April 1912 at Home of Mr. and Mrs. Howard MacNutt; ‘The Promulgation of Universal Peace: Talks Delivered by 'Abdu'l-Bahá during His Visit to the United States and Canada in 1912’)