December 31, 2011

Baha’u’llah explains what the children should be taught first

That which is of paramount importance for the children, that which must precede all else, is to teach them the oneness of God and the laws of God. For lacking this, the fear of God cannot be inculcated, and lacking the fear of God an infinity of odious and abominable actions will spring up, and sentiments will be uttered that transgress all bounds... parents must exert every effort to rear their offspring to be religious, for should the children not attain this greatest of adornments, they will not obey their parents, which in a certain sense means that they will not obey God. Indeed, such children will show no consideration to anyone, and will do exactly as they please. (Baha’u’llah, The Compilation of Compilations’, vol. I, Baha’i Education)

December 27, 2011

‘Abdu’l-Baha reminds us to “remember these things” in our hearts before entering a 19-Day Feast – and, a prayer for divine assistance

You must continue to keep the Nineteen Day Feast. It is very important; it is very good. But when you present yourselves in the meetings, before entering them, free yourselves from all that you have in your heart, free your thoughts and your minds from all else save God, and speak to your heart. That all may make this a gathering of love, make it the cause of illumination, make it a gathering of attraction of the hearts, surround this gathering with the Lights of the Supreme Concourse, so that you may be gathered together with the utmost love.

O God! Dispel all those elements which are the cause of discord, and prepare for us all those things which are the cause of unity and accord! O God! Descend upon us Heavenly Fragrance and change this gathering into a gathering of Heaven! Grant to us every benefit and every food. Prepare for us the Food of Love! Give to us the Food of Knowledge! Bestow upon us the Food of Heavenly Illumination!

In your hearts remember these things, and then enter the Unity Feast. (‘Abdu’l-Baha, The Compilation of Compilations vol. I, p. 429)

December 26, 2011

Points to keep in mind concerning eating meat – ‘Abdu’l-Baha explains

Regarding the eating of animal flesh and abstinence therefrom, know thou of a certainty that, in the beginning of creation, God determined the food of every living being, and to eat contrary to that determination is not approved. For instance, beasts of prey, such as the wolf, lion and leopard, are endowed with ferocious, tearing instruments, such as hooked talons and claws. From this it is evident that the food of such beasts is meat. If they were to attempt to graze, their teeth would not cut the grass, neither could they chew the cud, for they do not have molars. Likewise, God hath given to the four-footed grazing animals such teeth as reap the grass like a sickle, and from this we understand that the food of these species of animal is vegetable. They cannot chase and hunt down other animals. The falcon hath a hooked beak and sharp talons; the hooked beak preventeth him from grazing, therefore his food also is meat.

But now coming to man, we see he hath neither hooked teeth nor sharp nails or claws, nor teeth like iron sickles. From this it becometh evident and manifest that the food of man is cereals and fruit. Some of the teeth of man are like millstones to grind the grain, and some are sharp to cut the fruit. Therefore he is not in need of meat, nor is he obliged to eat it. Even without eating meat he would live with the utmost vigour and energy. For example, the community of the Brahmins in India do not eat meat; notwithstanding this they are not inferior to other nations in strength, power, vigour, outward senses or intellectual virtues. Truly, the killing of animals and the eating of their meat is somewhat contrary to pity and compassion, and if one can content oneself with cereals, fruit, oil and nuts, such as pistachios, almonds and so on, it would undoubtedly be better and more pleasing. ('Abdu'l-Bahá, from a Tablet; The Compilation of Compilations, vol. I, Some Aspects of Heath, Healing, Nutrition and Related Matters)

December 21, 2011

The extent of “humility and submissiveness” that we should strive for -- Baha'u'llah explains

They who are the beloved of God, in whatever place they gather and whomsoever they may meet, must evince, in their attitude towards God, and in the manner of their celebration of His praise and glory, such humility and submissiveness that every atom of the dust beneath their feet may attest the depth of their devotion. The conversation carried by these holy souls should be informed with such power that these same atoms of dust will be thrilled by its influence. They should conduct themselves in such manner that the earth upon which they tread may never be allowed to address to them such words as these: “I am to be preferred above you. For witness, how patient I am in bearing the burden which the husbandman layeth upon me. I am the instrument that continually imparteth unto all beings the blessings with which He Who is the Source of all grace hath entrusted me. Notwithstanding the honor conferred upon me, and the unnumbered evidences of my wealth - a wealth that supplieth the needs of all creation - behold the measure of my humility, witness with what absolute submissiveness I allow myself to be trodden beneath the feet of men....” (Baha’u’llah,’Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh’, Compilation on ‘Baha’i Meetigs’, compiled by the Research Department of the Universal House of Justice)

December 20, 2011

The spiritual condition of the Baha'i “teacher” affects the one being taught

The aim is this: The intention of the teacher must be pure, his heart independent, his spirit attracted, his thought at peace, his resolution firm, his magnanimity exalted and in the love of God a shining torch. Should he become as such, his sanctified breath will even affect the rock; otherwise there will be no result whatsoever. As long as a soul is not perfected, how can he efface the defects of others. Unless he is detached from aught else save God, how can he teach severance to others! (‘Abdu’l-Baha, ‘Tablets of the Divine Plan Revealed by 'Abdu'l-Bahá to the North American Bahá'ís’; The Compilation of Compilations, vol. II, Guidelines for Teaching)

December 19, 2011

Tea House and Fellowship Houses, Green Acre, 1924

Tea House, Green Acre, Maine, USA, 1924
Fellowship House, Green Acre, Maine, USA, 1924

December 12, 2011

God and His exalted Station – insights gleaned from a prayer by the Báb

• God’s “grace encompasseth all”
• “From everlasting” God has been “the Source of indomitable strength and shall remain so unto everlasting”
• To God belongs “All the kingdoms of heaven and earth and whatever is between them”.
• To God belongs “All the treasures of earth and heaven and everything between them”
• God holds “in His grasp the keys of heaven and earth and of everything between them”
• In truth, God “keepeth watch over all things”
• God is:
      o “the Powerful, the Almighty”
      o “the Lord of might and power”
      o “the Supreme Protector”
      o “a witness over all things”
      o “the Creator of the heavens and the earth and whatever lieth between them”
      o “the Lord of Reckoning for all that dwell in the heavens and on earth and whatever lieth between them”
      o “swift to reckon”
      o “Immeasurably exalted”
• In the “kingdoms of Revelation and Creation and whatever lieth between them” all “glory and majesty” belong to God
• God creates “whatsoever He willeth by His Word of command ‘Be’, and it is.”
• “the source of dominion” is in the hand of God
• The “power of authority” always belongs to God.
• Through the “potency” of His command, God “maketh victorious whomsoever He pleaseth”.
• God sets “the measure assigned to all who are in the heavens and the earth and whatever is between them”.
• God bestows “gifts” through “the power of His command” and at “His Own pleasure”.
• “Through the power of His hosts of heaven and earth and whatever lieth between them”, God protects “whomsoever among His servants He willeth” (Adapted from a prayer in 'Selections from the Writings of the Báb', pp. 171-172) (To read the actual prayer please visit Insights from Baha’i Prayers)

December 10, 2011

How the Guardian created the whole pattern of the Administrative Order – related by the Hand of the Cause Leroy Ioas

The Hand of the Cause Leroy Ioas used to relate that the Guardian had once said to him: “Leroy, did you think that, when I became Guardian I had this whole pattern of the Administrative Order laid out before me and I then began to gradually unfold it to the Bahá’ís?” And Leroy replied that, indeed, that was what he did think. The Guardian replied that it was not at all like that, he just had to take one decision after another. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá had said he would be guided and he trusted ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. So, when something needed to be decided, Shoghi Effendi, having confidence in ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s promise, would decide it. He would know it was right. He would then move on and the next stage would evolve. Moreover, he didn’t hesitate to change his mind occasionally. This is where one has to understand that the Manifestation of God and those that He leaves at the centre of His Faith are sensible people. (Excerpt from a talk given in London by Ian Semple, former member of the Universal House of Justice, 28 January, 2006) (To read the transcript of the entire talk please visit Baha’i Talks, Messages and Articles)

December 2, 2011

At what point in our lives does one receive “eternal life”? -- ‘Abdu’l-Baha explains

Thou has asked concerning the spirit and its immortality after its departure. Know thou that at the time of its translation it ascends and ascends until it reaches the presence of God, clothed in a temple (body) which will not become subject to the changes wrought by ages and cycles, nor by the contingencies of the world, nor the emanations thereof.

It will continue to exist through the eternity of the Kingdom of God -- its sovereignty, its dominion, its potency. From it will appear the signs of God and his qualities, the providence of God and his bestowal. Verily the pen is unable to move in a befitting manner in explaining this truth -- its exaltation and loftiness.

The hand of mercy shall cause it to enter into men's minds, though it cannot be grasped through any explanation, nor be described by those means which are available in the world.

Blessed is the spirit which abandons the body, previously sanctified and freed from the doubts of the nations. Verily, it moves in the atmosphere of the will of its Lord, and it enters into the supreme paradise. It is welcomed by the angels of the Most High. It associates with the prophets of God, and his chosen ones, and it converses with them, and relates to them those events which have happened to it in the path of God, the Lord of both worlds.

Were one to become informed of that which is pre ordained for the spirit in the worlds of God, the Lord of the throne and the earth, he would become immediately enkindled with the fire of yearning for this impregnable, exalted, holy, and most glorious state of being.

November 27, 2011

Question: Having lived in the spiritual center can you give us a clear definition of spirituality? – Answer by Ruhiyyih Khanum, given during the question and answer portion of a talk on June 5, 1960 to the Baha’is of New York

Well, we of the West, have an image of spirituality, and mystic and metaphysical phenomena. I don’t know. You see, I wasn’t there in the days of the Master or Baha’u’llah. I was only there in the days of the Guardian…which of course itself was a bounty beyond words. All I know is that Shoghi Effendi’s spirituality came out in action. Now when I was a girl I was very dreamy. I use to love to write poetry and meditate and sit on the fence and look at the moon and think how beautiful everything was and go into all of these abstractions. I loved them. And my whole mind and temperament lay along those lines; and I found that wasn’t the least interesting to Shoghi Effendi, that he’d never even go on subjects like that. [Audience laughs.] He was too busy. All he wanted was work. Because he had a plan to accomplish and he had to get it done. And I learned from Shoghi Effendi how to work. I must have had perhaps some initial capacity for work but believe me he changed me very, very deeply. And I got away from all of that. And I, I don’t know, to me the essence of spirituality…perhaps spirituality can best be expressed at different times in different ways. But surely the most spiritual thing is to do what God wants you to. Wouldn’t you think that that was the best spiritual answer? Wouldn’t you think that perhaps you were the most spiritual when you were doing the most of what God desired of you? And there’s no mystery of what Shoghi Effendi—the sign of God—desired of us. He wanted us to go ahead and conquer this world spiritually and bring it to a certain point in view of the situation humanity finds itself in. And I believe that every time that we do that we are more spiritual and attracting to ourselves greater blessings.

November 23, 2011

The Covenant of Baha’u’llah concerning ‘Abdu’l-Baha was established at the very early stage in the ministry of Bahá'u'lláh – three examples from the Hidden Words

There are a few passages in The Hidden Words which refer implicitly to the Covenant of Bahá'u'lláh -- a Covenant which later became explicit with the revelation of the Will and Testament of Bahá'u'lláh, designated by Him the Kitáb-i-'Ahdi (The Book of My Covenant).

'Abdu'l-Bahá, Who is the Centre of that same Covenant and the appointed Interpreter of the words of Bahá'u'lláh, has explained the meaning of some of these passages. One instance is the following:

O My Friends!
Have ye forgotten that true and radiant morn, when in those hallowed and blessed surroundings ye were all gathered in My presence beneath the shade of the tree of life, which is planted in the all-glorious paradise? Awestruck ye listened as I gave utterance to these three most holy words: O friends! Prefer not your will to Mine, never desire that which I have not desired for you, and approach Me not with lifeless hearts, defiled with worldly desires and cravings. Would ye but sanctify your souls, ye would at this present hour recall that place and those surroundings, and the truth of My utterance should be made evident unto all of you.(Baha’u’llah, Persian Hidden Words, no. 19)

The 'true and radiant morn', 'Abdu'l-Bahá stated, refers to the Revelation of the Báb, the 'tree of life' to Bahá'u'lláh, and the 'hallowed and blessed surroundings' to the heart of the individual. He further explained that the gathering referred to in this verse was not a physical but a spiritual one. The call of God was raised within the sanctuary of their hearts; but they did not respond and were bewildered and awestruck.

In other Tablets, 'Abdu'l-Bahá interpreted the meaning of the gathering beneath the shade of the 'tree of life' as the establishment of the Covenant of Bahá'u'lláh. 'The Lord, the All-Glorified,' in the words of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, 'hath, beneath the shade of the Tree of Anisa [tree of life], made a new Covenant and established a great Testament...'(Shoghi Effendi, ‘God Passes By’) That this Covenant was established at so early a stage in the ministry of Bahá'u'lláh is one of the mysteries of Divine Revelation. Indeed, in a Tablet 'Abdu'l-Bahá stated that when the day-star of the Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh dawned upon humanity, the first ray which shed its light upon those gathered beneath the 'tree of life' was that of the Covenant of Bahá'u'lláh.

November 21, 2011

Prayer by 'Abdu'l-Baha for Lua Getsinger on her passing ...

Supplication for the attracted maid-servant of God, Lua, who ascended to the Supreme Concourse--Upon her be greeting and praise!

He is God!

0 Lord! 0 Lord! Verily Thy maid-servant who was attracted with the fragrances of Thy Holiness, enkindled with the fire of Thy Love, the herald of Thy Name, the spreader of Thy Signs among Thy people, ascended to Thee with humility and lowliness, trusting in Thee with all her heart, liberated from all worldly ties and attractions, hoping for Thy Universal Favour and Mercy, desiring to enter Thy radiant Presence, supplicating Thy all-encircling Bounty, and begging for the descent of Thy glorious Bestowals!

0 Lord! Exalt her station, submerge her in the ocean of Thy Compassion and establish her in the midst of the Paradise of Immortality, in the Universe of Lights, the Centre of the Beatific Mysteries.

0 Lord! She believed in Thee, chanted Thy verses, turned her face toward Thee with all her heart; her spirit was rejoiced through Thy glad tidings and her soul was purified through the fire of Thy Love. Then amidst the concourse of humanity, she arose in the promotion of Thy Word, suffered every thirsty one to drink from the goblet of Thy Guidance and healed every sick one with the antidote of Thy Knowledge. In Thy Path she travelled to distant countries and remote regions and gave the good-news of Thy Kingdom throughout vast and spacious continents -- until through the difficulties that she endured in Thy Path, her very flesh and bones were melted, diseases and sicknesses attacked her, her frail body failed her, her nerves and muscles weakened their functions and her heart became the target of conflicting ailments. Then while hoping for the immortal life, the eternal existence, she abandoned this mortal, ephemeral world.

November 12, 2011

Some of the titles of Baha’u’llah – compiled by the Guardian

He was formally designated Bahá'u'lláh, an appellation specifically recorded in the Persian Bayan, signifying at once the glory, the light and the splendor of God, and was styled

• the "Lord of Lords,"
• the "Most Great Name,"
• the "Ancient Beauty,"
• the "Pen of the Most High,"
• the "Hidden Name,"
• the "Preserved Treasure,"
• "He Whom God will make manifest,"
• the "Most Great Light,"
• the "All-Highest Horizon,"
• the "Most Great Ocean,"
• the "Supreme Heaven,"
• the "Pre-Existent Root,"
• the "Self-Subsistent,"
• the "Day-Star of the Universe,"
• the "Great Announcement,"
• the "Speaker on Sinai,"
• the "Sifter of Men,"
• the "Wronged One of the World,"
• the "Desire of the Nations,"
• the "Lord of the Covenant,"
• the "Tree beyond which there is no passing."
(Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By)

November 8, 2011

Hands of the Cause of God Amatu'l-Baha Ruhiyyih Khanum and Dr. Furutan

Hands of the Cause of God Amatu'l-Baha Ruhiyyih Khanum and Dr. Furutan with Mr. and Mrs. Nakhjavani and Mrs. Furutan

November 4, 2011

The only prayer from the Guardian currently available in English


He is God

O mighty Lord! Thou seest what hath befallen Thy helpless lovers in this darkest of long nights; Thou knowest how, in all these years of separation from Thy Beauty, the confidants of Thy mysteries have ever been acquainted with burning grief.

O Powerful Master! Suffer not Thy wayfarers to be abased and brought low; succour this handful of feeble creatures with the potency of Thy might. Exalt Thy loved ones before the assemblage of man, and grant them strength. Allow those broken-winged beings to raise their heads and glory in the fulfilment of their hopes, that we in these brief days of life may gaze with our physical eyes on the elevation and exaltation of Thy Faith, and soar up to Thee with gladdened souls and blissful hearts.

Thou knowest that, since Thy ascension, we seek no name or fame, that in this swiftly passing world we wish henceforth no joy, no delight and no good fortune.

Then keep Thy word, and exhilarate once more the lives of these, Thy sick at heart. Bring light to our expectant eyes, balm to our stricken breasts. Lead Thou the caravans of the city of Thy love swiftly to their intended goal. Draw those who sorrow after Thee into the high court of reunion with Thee. For in this world below we ask for nothing but the triumph of Thy Cause. And within the precincts of Thy boundless mercy we hope for nothing but Thy presence.

Thou art the Witness, the Haven, the Refuge; Thou art He who rendereth victorious this band of the innocent. (Shoghi Effendi, ‘Fire and Light: Excerpts from the Bahá'í Sacred Writings by Báb, The, Bahá'u'lláh, Abdu'l-Bahá and Shoghi Effendi’ Compiled by Research Department of the Universal House of Justice; The Baha’i World 1979-1983, p. 35)

October 21, 2011

First Aymara International Baha'i Conference, Juli, Peru, August 26-28, 1978

First Aymara International Baha'i Conference, Juli, Peru, August 26-28 1978. More than 200 Baha'is from Bolivia, Ecuador and Peru were present. The entire conference was conducted in the Aymara language. The event also included the formal opening of the Dr. Rahmatu'llah Muhajir Teaching Institute in Juli. (Baha'i News, January 1979)

October 14, 2011

‘Abdu’l-Baha describes a word picture of the “old” world order

Look thou with seeing eyes at the world about thee, and at the inhabitants thereof. Upon the stage of this immense theatre most spectacular plays are being enacted. On one side thou wilt see the victorious and the vanquished legions of profit and loss. On the other side thou wilt observe the waves of the sea of folly rising and falling. Cries are being raised on every side and the agonies of revolution, revolt and unrest reach unto the ears of progressive men. There is a tremendous strike and clash between capital and labor, and the war between the aristocrats and democrats is carried on relentlessly with bow and arrow, sword and javelin. The phalanxes of a great army are drawn in battle array, each division taking its position. Armed troops and artillery are to be found in every part of the field. The flash of the swords of enmity blind the eyes from even the most remote distance, the lightning effect of breastplate and lance and the sparkle of the bucklers of hatred light up the night and bewilder the sight. In short: strife, battle, slaughter and war are prepared in organized perfection.

On the other hand thou wilt hear from every house strains of music are raised, and confusing melodies of harp, lyre, cymbal and flute are heard, and mad revellers are dancing to the tunes while inebriated with the wine of vanishing pleasures. In one place thou wilt behold the wanton and soiled decorations, and in another the flimsy shows of the gilded class of creatures. On the one hand is to be seen the embellishment and luxury made possible through illicit wealth, and on the other hand, the ravishing from this mortal world of its beautiful appearance.

October 10, 2011

Tahirih was transformed by Baha’u’llah ...

Qurratu'l-‘Ayn was a Persian woman without fame and importance -unknown, like all other Persian women. When she saw Baha'u'llah, she changed completely, visibly, and looked within another world. The reins of volition were taken out of her hands by heavenly attraction. She was so overcome that physical susceptibilities ceased. Her husband, her sons and her family arose in the greatest hostility against Baha'u'llah. She became so attracted to the divine threshold that she forsook everything and went forth to the plain of Badasht, no fear in her heart, dauntless, intrepid, openly proclaiming the message of light which had come to her. The Persian government stood against her. They made every effort to quiet her, they imprisoned her in the governor's house, but she continued to speak. Then she was taken and killed. To her very last breath she spoke with fervid eloquence and so became famous for her complete attraction in the path of God. If she had not seen Baha'u'llah, no such effect would have been produced. She had read and heard the teachings of scriptures all her life, but the action and enkindlement were missing. (‘Abdu’l-Baha, ‘Promulgation of Universal Peace’, Page 251)

October 5, 2011

“The hundred years' respite having ended ..” – October 1967

Upon our efforts depends in very large measure the fate of humanity. The hundred years' respite having ended, the struggle between the forces of darkness -- man's lower nature -- and the rising sun of the Divine teachings which draw him on to his true station, intensifies day by day. (The Universal House of Justice, excerpt from a message to the Six Intercontinental Conferences; Messages from the Universal House of Justice, Messages 1963 to 1986, pp. 112-114) (To read the entire message, please visit Messages to the Baha’i World Community – by the Universal House of Justice)

October 3, 2011

Divine Verses

The King James version of the Bible has 50 authors, 66 books (39 in the Old Testament and 27 in the New Testament), a total of 1,189 chapters and 31,173 verses.

The Qur’an comprises 114 chapters (or books, similar to those of the Bible), and 6,230 verses.

The Báb’s first and foremost of all His books is known as Qayyumu’l-Asmá. It contains over 9300 verses and 111 chapters, each of which is a commentary on one verse of the Qur’an’s Surih of Joseph. The Báb Himself states in one passage of the Persian Bayán that His Writings comprise no less than 500,000 verses. (The Baha'i World 1973-76, p.576)

Bahá’u’lláh has confirmed that during His time in Adrianople “equivalent of all that hath been sent down aforetime unto the Prophets hath been revealed” by Him. (God Passes By, p.171)

October 2, 2011

Assignment for youth from the Universal House of Justice

The Nine Year Plan has just entered its third year. The youth have already played a vital part in winning its goals. We now call upon them, with great love and highest hopes and the assurance of our fervent prayers, to consider, individually and in consultation, wherever they live and whatever their circumstances, those steps which they should take now to deepen themselves in their knowledge of the divine message, to develop their characters after the pattern of the Master, to acquire those skills, trades and professions in which they can best serve God and man, to intensify their service to the Cause of Bahá'u'lláh and to radiate its message to the seekers among their contemporaries. (The Universal House of Justice, 10 June, 1966; Messages from the Universal House of Justice 1963-1986) (To see the entire message please visit Messages to the Baha’i World Community – by the Universal House of Justice)

September 30, 2011

September 29, 2011

September 24, 2011

“… the outstanding characteristics of a decadent society…”

The recrudescence of religious intolerance, of racial animosity, and of patriotic arrogance; the increasing evidences of selfishness, of suspicion, of fear and of fraud; the spread of terrorism, of lawlessness, of drunkenness and of crime; the unquenchable thirst for, and the feverish pursuit after, earthly vanities, riches and pleasures; the weakening of family solidarity; the laxity in parental control; the lapse into luxurious indulgence; the irresponsible attitude towards marriage and the consequent rising tide of divorce; the degeneracy of art and music, the infection of literature, and the corruption of the press; the extension of the influence and activities of those "prophets of decadence" who advocate companionate marriage, who preach the philosophy of nudism, who call modesty an intellectual fiction, who refuse to regard the procreation of children as the sacred and primary purpose of marriage, who denounce religion as an opiate of the people, who would, if given free rein, lead back the human race to barbarism, chaos, and ultimate extinction — these appear as the outstanding characteristics of a decadent society, a society that must either be reborn or perish. (Shoghi Effendi, ‘The World Order of Bahá'u'lláh: Selected Letters’; The Compilation of Compilations, vol. I, Divorce)

September 20, 2011

Advice from ‘Abdu’l-Baha on how we should treat each other …

How many blessed souls have longed for this radiant century, their utmost hopes and desires centered upon the happiness and joy of one such day as this. Many the nights they passed sleepless and lamenting until the very morn in longing anticipation of this age, yearning to realize even an hour of this time. God has favored you in this century and has specialized you for the realization of its blessings. Therefore, you must praise and thank God with heart and soul in appreciation of this great opportunity and the attainment of this infinite bestowal -- that such doors have been opened before your faces, that such abundance is pouring down from the cloud of mercy and that these refreshing breezes from the paradise of Abha are resuscitating you. You must become of one heart, one spirit and one susceptibility. May you become as the waves of one sea, stars of the same heaven, fruits adorning the same tree, roses of one garden in order that through you the oneness of humanity may establish its temple in the world of mankind, for you are the ones who are called to uplift the cause of unity among the nations of the earth.

September 17, 2011

1972: A New Baha'i Center in Micronesia

Partial group of the friends attending the dedication of the first Baha'i Center in Mwalok Village, Sokehs, Ponape, Micronesia, in 1972. Hand of the Cause Featherstone is the back row. (Baha'i News, August 1972)

September 11, 2011

Proclamation “must become part of our regular work” – in countries where we are free to publicize our religion

… in those countries where we are free to publicize our religion, this activity must become part of our regular work, included in budgets, assigned to National and Local Committees for study and implementation and above all for co-ordination with the programmes operating to achieve the goals of the Nine Year Plan. Every effort of proclamation must be sustained by teaching, particularly locally where public announcements should be related to such efforts. This co-ordination is essential, for nothing will be more disheartening than for thousands to hear of the Faith and have nowhere to turn for further information. (The Universal House of Justice, Ridvan 1967; Messages from the Universal House of Justice, 1963-1986) (To see the entire message please visits Messages to the Baha’i World Community – by the Universal House of Justice)

September 10, 2011

Comparison of the Revelations of the Báb and Bahá’u’lláh – the Báb explains

… He Who will shine resplendent in the Day of Resurrection is the Revelation of the inner reality enshrined in the Point of the Bayan -- a Revelation more potent, immeasurably more potent, than the one which hath preceded it. (The Báb, Selections from the Writings of the Báb)

September 9, 2011

The implication of the Baha’i principle of the “Oneness of Mankind”

The principle of the Oneness of Mankind" he[Shoghi Effendi] writes, "implies an organic change in the structure of present-day society, a change such as the world has not yet experienced." Referring to the "epoch-making changes that constitute the greatest landmarks in the history of human civilization," he states that "... they cannot but appear, when viewed in their proper perspective, except as subsidiary adjustments precluding that transformation of unparalleled majesty and scope which humanity is in this age bound to undergo." In a later document he refers to the civilization to be established by Bahá'u'lláh as one "with a fullness of life such as the world has never seen nor can as yet conceive." (The Universal House of Justice, excerpt from a message dated Ridvan 1967, ‘Messages from the Universal House of Justice, 1963 to 1986’) (To read the entire letter please visit Messages to the Baha’i World Community—by the Universal House of Justice)

September 6, 2011

Under what conditions a Baha’i teacher will become inspired with “knowledge and wisdom” so “his words will have effect”

If one teaches one whom he loves because of his love for him, then he will not teach one whom he loves not; and that is not of God. If one teaches in order to derive the promised benefit to himself, this too is not from God. If he teaches because of God's Will that God may be known -- and for that reason only -- he will receive knowledge and wisdom, and his words will have effect -- being made powerful by the Holy Spirit -- and will take root in the souls of those who are in the right condition to receive them. In such a case the benefit to the teacher in growth is as ninety percent compared to the ten percent of gain to the hearer, because he becomes like a tree bearing fruit through the power of God. ('Abdu'l-Baha, cited in Star of the West, vol III, no. 19, 2March 1913)

September 3, 2011

The place where 'Abdu'l-Baha stayed during His first nine days in New York

The Ansonia, Broadway and 73rd Street, where 'Abdu'l-Baha stayed during His first nine days in New York. The Master occupied a 2-bedromm, 1 drawing room suite on the 7th floor. This building is now designated as a landmark and is a condominium. ('Abdu'l-Baha in New York The City of the Covenant, by Elaine Lacroix-Hopson)

September 1, 2011

It is one’s “inner temple” that “takes delight in joy or is saddened by pain”

As this physical frame is the throne of the inner temple, whatever occurs to the former is felt by the latter. In reality that which takes delight in joy or is saddened by pain is the inner temple of the body, not the body itself. Since this physical body is the throne whereon the inner temple is established, God hath ordained that the body be preserved to the extent possible, so that nothing that causeth repugnance may be experienced. The inner temple beholdeth its physical frame, which is its throne. Thus, if the latter is accorded respect, it is as if the former is the recipient. The converse is likewise true.

Therefore, it hath been ordained that the dead body should be treated with the utmost honour and respect. (The Báb, Selections from the Writings of the Báb)

August 17, 2011

Prayer for a better harvest


O God! Grant Thy favour, and bestow Thy blessing. Vouchsafe Thy grace, and give a portion of Thy bounty. Enable these men to witness during this year the fulfillment of their hopes. Send down Thy heavenly rain, and provide Thy plenteousness and abundance. Thou art the Powerful, the Mighty. (‘Abdu’l-Baha, from a Tablet to a group of believers; The Compilation of Compilations, vol. III, Economics, Agriculture, and Related Subjects)

August 15, 2011

The benefits of “true consultation” versus the “futility” of other means through which decisions are made

In this field Bahá'í youth may demonstrate the efficiency, the vigour, the access of unity which arise from true consultation and, by contrast, demonstrate the futility of partisanship, lobbying, debate, secret diplomacy and unilateral action which characterize modern affairs. (The Universal House of Justice, 10 June, 1966; Messages from the Universal House of Justice 1963-1986) (To see the entire message please visit Messages to the Baha’i World Community – by the Universal House of Justice)

August 14, 2011

The “theme” we should “pursue in our efforts to deepen in the Cause”

Dearly loved friends, this is the theme we must pursue in our efforts to deepen in the Cause. What is Bahá'u'lláh's purpose for the human race? For what ends did He submit to the appalling cruelties and indignities heaped upon Him? What does He mean by "a new race of men"? What are the profound changes which He will bring about? The answers are to be found in the Sacred Writings of our Faith and in their interpretation by 'Abdu'l-Bahá and our beloved Guardian. Let the friends immerse themselves in this ocean, let them organize regular study classes for its constant consideration, and as reinforcement to their effort, let them remember conscientiously the requirements of daily prayer and reading of the Word of God enjoined upon all Bahá'ís by Bahá'u'lláh. (The Universal House of Justice, excerpt from a message dated Ridvan 1967, ‘Messages from the Universal House of Justice, 1963 to 1986’) (To read the entire letter please visit Messages to the Baha’i World Community—by the Universal House of Justice)

August 13, 2011

The reward of writing down “with true faith” just “one letter” of Baha’u’llah’s Writings – the Báb explains

Better is it for a person to write down but one of His verses than to transcribe the whole of the Bayan and all the books which have been written in the Dispensation of the Bayan. For everything shall be set aside except His Writings, which will endure until the following Revelation. And should anyone inscribe with true faith but one letter of that Revelation, his recompense would be greater than for inscribing all the heavenly Writings of the past and all that has been written during previous Dispensations. Likewise continue thou to ascend through one Revelation after another, knowing that thy progress in the Knowledge of God shall never come to an end, even as it can have no beginning. (The Báb, Excerpts from the Persian Bayán, ‘Selections from the Writings of the Báb)

August 12, 2011

Mount Carmel as of 1926

Looking up the slope of Mount Carmel, circa 1926. The Holy Tomb of the Bab and 'Abdu'l-Baha is seen behind the large white building in center. (The Baha'i World 1926-1928)
Another view of the Sacred Shrine as seen from the main street of Haifa leading up to the terraces below the Tomb (The Baha'i World 1926-1928)

August 10, 2011

The “Supreme Tribunal” -- ‘Abdu’l-Baha explains how its members should be universally elected and the impact of its ruling


For example, the question of universal peace, about which Bahá'u'lláh says that the Supreme Tribunal must be established: although the League of Nations has been brought into existence, yet it is incapable of establishing universal peace. But the Supreme Tribunal which Bahá'u'lláh has described will fulfil this sacred task with the utmost might and power. And His plan is this: that the national assemblies of each country and nation -- that is to say parliaments -- should elect two or three persons who are the choicest of that nation, and are well informed concerning international laws and the relations between governments and aware of the essential needs of the world of humanity in this day. The number of these representatives should be in proportion to the number of inhabitants of that country. The election of these souls who are chosen by the national assembly, that is, the parliament, must be confirmed by the upper house, the congress and the cabinet and also by the president or monarch so these persons may be the elected ones of all the nation and the government. The Supreme Tribunal will be composed of these people, and all mankind will thus have a share therein, for every one of these delegates is fully representative of his nation. When the Supreme Tribunal gives a ruling on any international question, either unanimously or by majority rule, there will no longer be any pretext for the plaintiff or ground of objection for the defendant. In case any of the governments or nations, in the execution of the irrefutable decision of the Supreme Tribunal, be negligent or dilatory, the rest of the nations will rise up against it, because all the governments and nations of the world are the supporters of this Supreme Tribunal. Consider what a firm foundation this is! But by a limited and restricted League the purpose will not be realized as it ought and should. This is the truth about the situation, which has been stated.... (‘Abdu’l-Baha, ‘Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Baha’)

August 9, 2011

The Teachings of the Faith place the “obligation of deepening in the Cause” on every believer

The beloved Guardian wrote, "To strive to obtain a more adequate understanding of the significance of Bahá'u'lláh's stupendous Revelation must, it is my unalterable conviction, remain the first obligation and the object of the constant endeavour of each one of its loyal adherents," a statement which places the obligation of deepening in the Cause firmly on every believer. (The Universal House of Justice, excerpt from a message dated Ridvan 1967, ‘Messages from the Universal House of Justice, 1963 to 1986’) (To read the entire letter please visit Messages to the Baha’i World Community—by the Universal House of Justice)

August 8, 2011

The charm of music and its influence in the hearts of children

What a wonderful meeting this is! These are the children of the Kingdom. The song we have just listened to was very beautiful in melody and words. The art of music is divine and effective. It is the food of the soul and spirit. Through the power and charm of music the spirit of man is uplifted. It has wonderful sway and effect in the hearts of children, for their hearts are pure, and melodies have great influence in them. The latent talents with which the hearts of these children are endowed will find expression through the medium of music. Therefore, you must exert yourselves to make them proficient; teach them to sing with excellence and effect. It is incumbent upon each child to know something of music, for without knowledge of this art the melodies of instrument and voice cannot be rightly enjoyed. Likewise, it is necessary that the schools teach it in order that the souls and hearts of the pupils may become vivified and exhilarated and their lives be brightened with enjoyment. (‘Abdu’l-Baha, ‘The Promulgation of Universal Peace: Talks Delivered by 'Abdu'l-Bahá during His Visit to the United States and Canada in 1912’; The Compilation of Compilations, vol. II, Music)

August 7, 2011

The seal of the first Baha'i Assembly of the United States and Canada, 1897

The seal of the first Baha'i Assembly of the United States and Canada, 1897 (The Baha'i World 1932-1934)

August 4, 2011

The house of 'Abdu'l-Baha in Haifa, as it appeared in His days

The house of 'Abdu'l-Baha in Haifa, as it appeared in His days (The Baha'i World 1954-1963)

August 3, 2011

“… proclamation … complements(s) and reinforce(s) the twin processes of expansion and consolidation”

World-wide proclamation, the unknown sea on which we must soon sail, will add another dimension to our work, a dimension which will, as it develops, complement and reinforce the twin processes of expansion and consolidation. This pattern of teaching, emerging so soon after the completion of the framework of the Administrative Order, may well be the means of advancing the vital work of consolidation and of rendering more effective the teaching wisdom which has been gained in a hundred years, and more particularly since the beloved Guardian called us to systematic and planned activity. Therefore, in those countries where we are free to publicize our religion, this activity must become part of our regular work, included in budgets, assigned to National and Local Committees for study and implementation and above all for co-ordination with the programmes operating to achieve the goals of the Nine Year Plan. Every effort of proclamation must be sustained by teaching, particularly locally where public announcements should be related to such efforts. This co-ordination is essential, for nothing will be more disheartening than for thousands to hear of the Faith and have nowhere to turn for further information. (The Universal House of Justice, excerpt from a message dated Ridvan 1967, ‘Messages from the Universal House of Justice, 1963 to 1986’) (To read the entire letter please visit Messages to the Baha’i World Community—by the Universal House of Justice)

July 28, 2011

The “Bahá'ís must increasingly stand out as pillars of righteousness and forbearance”

First, the foundation of all their other accomplishments is their study of the teachings, the spiritualization of their lives and the forming of their characters in accordance with the standards of Bahá'u'lláh. As the moral standards of the people around us collapse and decay, whether of the centuries-old civilizations of the East, the more recent cultures of Christendom and Islam; or of the rapidly changing tribal societies of the world, the Bahá'ís must increasingly stand out as pillars of righteousness and forbearance. The life of a Bahá'í will be characterized by truthfulness and decency; he will walk uprightly among his fellowmen, dependent upon none save God, yet linked by bonds of love and brotherhood with all mankind; he will be entirely detached from the loose standards, the decadent theories, the frenetic experimentation, the desperation of present-day society, will look upon his neighbours with a bright and friendly face and be a beacon light and a haven for all those who would emulate his strength of character and assurance of soul. (The Universal House of Justice, 10 June, 1966; Messages from the Universal House of Justice 1963-1986) (To see the entire message please visit Messages to the Baha’i World Community – by the Universal House of Justice)

July 27, 2011

To “resist the natural tendency to let our attention dwell on the faults and failings of others rather than on our own”

If we Bahá'ís cannot attain to cordial unity among ourselves, then we fail to realize the main purpose for which the Bab, Bahá'u'lláh and the Beloved Master lived and suffered. In order to achieve this cordial unity one of the first essentials insisted on by Bahá'u'lláh and 'Abdu'l-Bahá is that we resist the natural tendency to let our attention dwell on the faults and failings of others rather than on our own. Each of us is responsible for one life only, and that is our own. Each of us is immeasurably far from being "perfect as our heavenly father is perfect" and the task of perfecting our own life and character is one that requires all our attention, our will-power and energy. If we allow our attention and energy to be taken up in efforts to keep others right and remedy their faults, we are wasting precious time. We are like ploughmen each of whom has his team to manage and his plough to direct, and in order to keep his furrow straight he must keep his eye on his goal and concentrate on his own task. If he looks to this side and that to see how Tom and Harry are getting on and to criticize their ploughing, then his own furrow will assuredly become crooked. On no subject are the Bahá'í teachings more emphatic than on the necessity to abstain from faultfinding and backbiting while being ever eager to discover and root out our own faults and overcome our own failings. If we profess loyalty to Bahá'u'lláh, to our Beloved Master and our dear Guardian, then we must show our love by obedience to these explicit teachings. Deeds not words are what they demand, and no amount of fervour in the use of expressions of loyalty and adulation will compensate for failure to live in the spirit of the teachings. (From a letter dated 12 May 1925 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer; The Compilation of Compilations, vol. II, Living the Life)

July 23, 2011

We should never imagine that “youth must await their years of maturity before they can render invaluable services to the Cause of God”

From the very beginning of the Bahá'í Era, youth have played a vital part in the promulgation of God's Revelation. The Báb Himself was but twenty-five years old when He declared His Mission, while many of the Letters of the Living were even younger. The Master, as a very young man, was called upon to shoulder heavy responsibilities in the service of His Father in 'Iraq and Turkey, and His brother, the Purest Branch, yielded up his life to God in the Most Great Prison at the age of twenty-two that the servants of God might "be quickened, and all that dwell on earth be united." Shoghi Effendi was a student at Oxford when called to the throne of his guardianship, and many of the Knights of Bahá'u'lláh, who won imperishable fame during the Ten Year Crusade, were young people. Let it, therefore, never be imagined that youth must await their years of maturity before they can render invaluable services to the Cause of God. (The Universal House of Justice, 10 June, 1966; Messages from the Universal House of Justice 1963-1986) (To see the entire message please visit Messages to the Baha’i World Community – by the Universal House of Justice)

July 18, 2011

How to “develop the wonderful skill of Bahá'í consultation”

Consultation is no easy skill to learn, requiring as it does the subjugation of all egotism and unruly passions, the cultivation of frankness and freedom of thought as well as courtesy, openness of mind and wholehearted acquiescence in a majority decision. (The Universal House of Justice, 10 June, 1966; Messages from the Universal House of Justice 1963-1986) (To see the entire message please visit Messages to the Baha’i World Community – by the Universal House of Justice)

July 17, 2011

The Mansion of Bahji as of 1900s

The Mansion of Baha'u'llah at Bahji as it appeared during the time of the first pilgrimage of the Western believers in the early 1900s. (Baha'i News March 1976)

July 16, 2011

A Baha’i should always relate “what he hears to the Bahá'í teachings”

The Teachings of Bahá'u'lláh throw light on so many aspects of human life and knowledge that a Bahá'í must learn, earlier than most, to weigh the information that is given to him rather than to accept it blindly. A Bahá'í has the advantage of the divine Revelation for this Age, which shines like a searchlight on so many problems that baffle modern thinkers; he must therefore develop the ability to learn everything from those around him, showing proper humility before his teachers [addressed to youth when taking courses], but always relating what he hears to the Bahá'í teachings, for they will enable him to sort out the gold from the dross of human error. (The Universal House of Justice, 10 June, 1966; Messages from the Universal House of Justice 1963-1986) (To see the entire message please visit Messages to the Baha’i World Community – by the Universal House of Justice)

July 15, 2011

The Ten Year Crusade “completed the structure of the Administrative Order of Bahá'u'lláh”

During the Ten Year Crusade -- the ninth part of that majestic process described so vividly by our beloved Guardian -- the Community of the Most Great Name spread with the speed of lightning over the major territories and islands of the globe, increased manifoldly its manpower and resources, saw the beginning of the entry of the peoples by troops into the Cause of God, and completed the structure of the Administrative Order of Bahá'u'lláh. (The Universal House of Justice, 10 June, 1966; Messages from the Universal House of Justice 1963-1986) (To see the entire message please visit Messages to the Baha’i World Community – by the Universal House of Justice)

July 10, 2011

The commander of the Persian regiment that executed the Bab in 1850

Aqa Jan Khan-i-Khamsih who carried out the order for the execution of the Bab (Refer to Dawn-Breakers, Ch. XXIIL) (The Baha'i World 1932-1934)

June 29, 2011

The “greatest opportunities … challenges, and … tests” that Baha’i youth face

For any person, whether Bahá'í or not, his youthful years are those in which he will make many decisions which will set the course of his life. In these years he is most likely to choose his life's work, complete his education, begin to earn his own living, marry and start to raise his own family. Most important of all, it is during this period that the mind is most questing and that the spiritual values that will guide the person's future behaviour are adopted. These factors present Bahá'í youth with their greatest opportunities, their greatest challenges, and their greatest tests -- opportunities to truly apprehend the Teachings of their Faith and to give them to their contemporaries, challenges to overcome the pressures of the world and to provide leadership for their and succeeding generations, and tests enabling them to exemplify in their lives the high moral standards set forth in the Bahá'í Writings. Indeed the Guardian wrote of the Bahá'í youth that it is they "who can contribute so decisively to the virility, the purity, and the driving force of the life of the Bahá'í community, and upon whom must depend the future orientation of its destiny, and the complete unfoldment of the potentialities with which God has endowed it." (The Universal House of Justice, 10 June, 1966; Messages from the Universal House of Justice 1963-1986) (To see the entire message please visit Messages to the Baha’i World Community – by the Universal House of Justice)

June 24, 2011

We should never imagine that “youth must await their years of maturity before they can render invaluable services to the Cause of God”

From the very beginning of the Bahá'í Era, youth have played a vital part in the promulgation of God's Revelation. The Báb Himself was but twenty-five years old when He declared His Mission, while many of the Letters of the Living were even younger. The Master, as a very young man, was called upon to shoulder heavy responsibilities in the service of His Father in 'Iraq and Turkey, and His brother, the Purest Branch, yielded up his life to God in the Most Great Prison at the age of twenty-two that the servants of God might "be quickened, and all that dwell on earth be united." Shoghi Effendi was a student at Oxford when called to the throne of his guardianship, and many of the Knights of Bahá'u'lláh, who won imperishable fame during the Ten Year Crusade, were young people. Let it, therefore, never be imagined that youth must await their years of maturity before they can render invaluable services to the Cause of God. 
- The Universal House of Justice  (From a message dated 10 June, 1966; Messages from the Universal House of Justice 1963-1986) 

June 21, 2011

Ruhiyyih Khanum visits the President of India, 1974

The Hand of the Cause Ruhiyyih Khanum visits with President V.V.Giri, of India, in the presidential offices in New Delhi, on June 14, 1974. Amatu'l-Baha was in New Delhi to represent the Universal House of Justice at the National Baha'i Convention. (Baha'i News, April 1975)

June 11, 2011

'Abdu'l-Baha's bedroom, Plaza Hotel, Chicago, Illinois, USA, April, 1912

'Abdu'l-Baha's bedroom, Plaza Hotel, Chicago, Illinois, USA, April, 1912 (The Baha'i World 1932-1934)

June 10, 2011

The International Deputization Fund

For the first time in Bahá'í history, an International Deputization Fund has been established at the World Centre under the administration of the Universal House of Justice. From it supplementary support will be given to specific pioneering projects when other funds are not available. All friends, and particularly those who are unable to respond to the pioneer call are invited to support this Fund, mindful of the injunction of Bahá'u'lláh, "Centre your energies in the propagation of the Faith of God. Whoso is worthy of so high a calling, let him arise and promote it. Whoso is unable, it is his duty to appoint him who will, in his stead, proclaim this Revelation, Whose power hath caused the foundations of the mightiest structures to quake, every mountain to be crushed into dust, and every soul to be dumbfounded." (The Universal House of Justice, Ridvan 1965 message)

June 7, 2011

Baha’u’llah “is the Revelation of the inner reality enshrined in the Point of the Bayan”

For in the forthcoming Revelation it is He Who is the Remembrance of God, whereas the devotions which thou art offering at present have been prescribed by the Point of the Bayan, while He Who will shine resplendent in the Day of Resurrection is the Revelation of the inner reality enshrined in the Point of the Bayan--a Revelation more potent, immeasurably more potent, than the one which hath preceded it. (The Báb, ‘Selections from the Writings of the Báb; The Compilation of the Compilations, Vol. II, The Importance of Prayer, Meditation, and the Devotional Attitude)

June 6, 2011

Good “attributes and virtues which are the adornments” of the “reality” of a human being

Then it is clear that the honour and exaltation of man must be something more than material riches. Material comforts are only a branch, but the root of the exaltation of man is the good attributes and virtues which are the adornments of his reality. These are the divine appearances, the heavenly bounties, the sublime emotions, the love and knowledge of God; universal wisdom, intellectual perception, scientific discoveries, justice, equity, truthfulness, benevolence, natural courage and innate fortitude; the respect for rights and the keeping of agreements and covenants; rectitude in all circumstances; serving the truth under all conditions; the sacrifice of one's life for the good of all people; kindness and esteem for all nations; obedience to the teachings of God; service in the Divine Kingdom; the guidance of the people, and the education of the nations and races. This is the prosperity of the human world! This is the exaltation of man in the world! This is eternal life and heavenly honour! (‘Abdu’l-Baha, ‘Some Answered Question’, pp. 79-80; The Compilation of Compilations, vol. I, Conservation of the Earth's Resources)

June 2, 2011

Prayer “transcends all ritualistic forms and formulae”

Prayer is essentially a communion between man and God, and as such transcends all ritualistic forms and formulae. (From a letter dated 15 June 1935 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States; The Compilation of Compilations, vol. III, Service in Baha’i Temples)

May 28, 2011

Queen Marie of Romania visits America in 1926

Queen Marie of Romania (second from left) and her royal family with U.S. Secretary of State Frank Kellog (with cane) and her government officials during the Queen's visit to America in 1926 (Baha'i News, November, 1973)

May 22, 2011

Hand of the Cause Ruhiyyih Khanum with Swaziland Princess

Amatu'l-Baha Ruhiyyih Khanum, Princess Gcinaphi and Violette Nakhjavani dressed in the national costume of Swaziland before leaving the home of the princess to attend the traditional Reed Dance. (Baha'i News, July 1973)

May 21, 2011

Revealed healing prayers “apply both to physical and spiritual healing”

O handmaid of God! The prayers which were revealed to ask for healing apply both to physical and spiritual healing. Recite them, then, to heal both the soul and the body. If healing is right for the patient, it will certainly be granted; but for some ailing persons, healing would only be the cause of other ills, and therefore wisdom doth not permit an affirmative answer to the prayer.

O handmaid of God! The power of the Holy Spirit healeth both physical and spiritual ailments. (‘Abdu’l-Baha, ‘Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá’; The Compilation of Compilations, Vol. II, The Importance of Prayer, Meditation and the Devotional Attitude)

May 18, 2011

"The teachings of Bahá'u'lláh are the light of this age and the spirit of this century."

The teachings of Bahá'u'lláh are the light of this age and the spirit of this century. Expound each of them at every gathering.

The first is investigation of truth,
The second, the oneness of mankind,
The third, universal peace,
The fourth, conformity between science and divine revelation,
The fifth, abandonment of racial, religious, worldly and political prejudices, prejudices which destroy the foundation of mankind.
The sixth is righteousness and justice,
The seventh, the betterment of morals and heavenly education,
The eighth, the equality of the two sexes,
The ninth, the diffusion of knowledge and education,
The tenth, economic questions, and so on and so forth.

Strive that souls may attain unto the light of guidance and hold fast unto the hem of Bahá'u'lláh. ('Abdu'l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of Abdu'l-Baha, p. 107)

May 15, 2011

One of the places Baha'u'llah stayed during His period of retirement

Takyiy-i-Mawlana Khalid in Sulaymaniyyih, Iraq, where Baha'u'llah stayed during His period of retirement. (The Baha'i World 1932-1934)

May 14, 2011

Entry by Troops - excerpt from a talk by Adib Taherzadeh

A brief explanation about the meaning of entry by troops is provided by Adib Taherzadeh at a gathering of the European Auxiliary Board Members, Italy, 1997.

May 7, 2011

Baha’u’llah delineates “the fundamental principles for the administration of the affairs of men”

Whilst in the Prison of 'Akká, We revealed in the Crimson Book that which is conducive to the advancement of mankind and to the reconstruction of the world. The utterances set forth therein by the Pen of the Lord of creation include the following which constitute the fundamental principles for the administration of the affairs of men:

First: It is incumbent upon the ministers of the House of Justice to promote the Lesser Peace so that the people of the earth may be relieved from the burden of exorbitant expenditures. This matter is imperative and absolutely essential, inasmuch as hostilities and conflict lie at the root of affliction and calamity.

Second: Languages must be reduced to one common language to be taught in all the schools of the world.

Third: It behoveth man to adhere tenaciously unto that which will promote fellowship, kindliness and unity.

May 5, 2011

Martha Root and Marion Jack with Governor and Mayor of Adrianople

29 October 1933: Martha Root (front, third from the left) and Marion Jack (front, far right) with Governor and Mayor of Adrianople, Turkey.

May 2, 2011

The fundamental purpose of the Faith of Bahá'u'lláh is the realization of the organic unity of the entire human race

If we allow prejudice of any kind [“racial, religious, political, economic, national, tribal, class, cultural, and that which is based on differences of education or age”] to manifest itself in us, we shall be guilty before God of causing a setback to the progress and real growth of the Faith of Bahá'u'lláh. It is incumbent upon every believer to endeavour with a fierce determination to eliminate this defect from his thoughts and acts. It is the duty of the institutions of the Faith to inculcate this principle in the hearts of the friends through every means at their disposal including summer schools, conferences, institutes and study classes.

The fundamental purpose of the Faith of Bahá'u'lláh is the realization of the organic unity of the entire human race. Bearing this glorious destiny in mind, and with entire reliance on the promises of the Blessed Beauty, we should follow His exhortation:

“We love to see you at all times consorting in amity and concord within the paradise of My good-pleasure, and to inhale from your acts the fragrance of friendliness and unity, of loving-kindness and fellowship. ...” (Baha’u’llah, ‘Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah’) (The Universal House of Justice, ‘Messages 1963 to 1986)

April 30, 2011

The Tomb of Baha'u'llah in the years immediately following His ascension

The Tomb of Baha'u'llah in the years immediately following His ascension (The Baha'i World 1932-1934)

April 13, 2011

Understanding how God would “confer blessing upon a servant” or adversely “test him with the benefits of this world and of the next”

All praise be unto Thee, O Thou besides Whom there is none other God. Graciously enable me to ascend unto Thee, to be granted the honour of dwelling in Thy nearness and to have communion with Thee alone. No God is there but Thee.

Indeed shouldst Thou desire to confer blessing upon a servant Thou wouldst blot out from the realm of his heart every mention or disposition except Thine Own mention; and shouldst Thou ordain evil for a servant by reason of that which his hands have unjustly wrought before Thy face, Thou wouldst test him with the benefits of this world and of the next that he might become preoccupied therewith and forget Thy remembrance. (The Báb, Selections from the Writings of the Báb, p. 191)

April 8, 2011

The “Word of God” is “endowed with the capacity” to convert “satanic strength into heavenly power”

“… the still greater task of converting satanic strength into heavenly power is one that We have been empowered to accomplish. The Force capable of such a transformation transcendeth the potency of the Elixir itself. The Word of God, alone, can claim the distinction of being endowed with the capacity required for so great and far-reaching a change. (Bahá'u'lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh)

March 28, 2011

Attaining God’s “good-pleasure” the moment one’s soul leaves the body

All that I beg of Thee, O my God, is to enable me, ere my soul departeth from my body, to attain Thy good-pleasure, even were it granted to me for a moment tinier than the infinitesimal fraction of a mustard seed. For if it departeth while Thou art pleased with me, then I shall be free from every concern or anxiety; but if it abandoneth me while Thou art displeased with me, then, even had I wrought every good deed, none would be of any avail, and had I earned every honour and glory, none would serve to exalt me.

I earnestly beseech Thee then, O my God, to graciously bestow Thy good-pleasure upon me when Thou dost cause me to ascend unto Thee and make me appear before Thy holy presence, inasmuch as Thou hast, from everlasting, been the God of immense bounty unto the people of Thy realm, and the Lord of most excellent gifts to all that dwell in the exalted heaven of Thine omnipotence. (The Báb, Selections from the Writings of the Báb, p. 187)

March 24, 2011

Two opposing types of conduct that Baha’u’llah doesn’t approve

"In this Day, We can neither approve the conduct of the fearful that seeketh to dissemble his faith, nor sanction the behaviour of the avowed believer that clamorously asserteth his allegiance to this Cause. Both should observe the dictates of wisdom, and strive diligently to serve the best interests of the Faith." (Baha’u’llah, ‘Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh’; The Compilation of Compilations, vol. III, Issues Concerning Community Functioning)

March 19, 2011

How to properly view the Revelation of Baha’u’llah –- the Guardian explains

The Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, whose supreme mission is none other but the achievement of this organic and spiritual unity of the whole body of nations, should, if we be faithful to its implications, be regarded as signalizing through its advent the coming of age of the entire human race. It should be viewed not merely as yet another spiritual revival in the ever-changing fortunes of mankind, not only as a further stage in a chain  of progressive Revelations, nor even as the culmination of one of a series of recurrent prophetic cycles, but rather as marking the last and highest stage in the stupendous evolution of man's collective life on this planet. The emergence of a world community, the consciousness of world citizenship, the founding of a world civilization and culture -- all of which must synchronize with the initial stages in the unfoldment of the Golden Age of the Bahá'í Era -- should, by their very nature, be regarded, as far as this planetary life is concerned, as the furthermost limits in the organization of human society, though man, as an individual, will, nay must indeed as a result of such a consummation, continue indefinitely to progress and develop. (Shoghi Effendi, The World Order of Baha'u'llah, p. 163)

March 13, 2011

An amazing spiritual principle to keep in mind ...

How often the beloved Master was heard to say, should each one of the friends take upon himself to carry out, in all its integrity and implications, only one of the teachings of the Faith, with devotion, detachment, constancy and perseverance and exemplify it in all his deeds and pursuits of life, the world would become another world and the face of the earth would mirror forth the splendours of the Abha Paradise. Consider what marvellous changes would be effected if the beloved of the Merciful conducted themselves, both in their individual and collective capacities, in accordance with the counsels and exhortations which have streamed from the Pen of Glory.  (From a letter dated 12 January 1923 written by Shoghi Effendi to the Baha'is of Persia - translated from the Persian; The Compilation of Compilations, vol. II, Living the Life)

March 8, 2011

“The station of absolute self-surrender transcendeth, and will ever remain exalted above, every other station.”

… O thou who hast surrendered thy will to God! By self-surrender and perpetual union with God is meant that men should merge their will wholly in the Will of God, and regard their desires as utter nothingness beside His Purpose. Whatsoever the Creator commandeth His creatures to observe, the same must they diligently, and with the utmost joy and eagerness, arise and fulfil. They should in no wise allow their fancy to obscure their judgment, neither should they regard their own imaginings as the voice of the Eternal. In the Prayer of Fasting We have revealed: "Should Thy Will decree that out of Thy mouth these words proceed and be addressed unto them, 'Observe, for My Beauty's sake, the fast, O people, and set no limit to its duration,' I swear by the majesty of Thy glory, that every one of them will faithfully observe it, will abstain from whatsoever will violate Thy law, and will continue to do so until they yield up their souls unto Thee." In this consisteth the complete surrender of one's will to the Will of God. Meditate on this, that thou mayest drink in the waters of everlasting life which flow through the words of the Lord of all mankind, and mayest testify that the one true God hath ever been immeasurably exalted above His creatures. He, verily, is the Incomparable, the Ever-Abiding, the Omniscient, the All-Wise. The station of absolute self-surrender transcendeth, and will ever remain exalted above, every other station. (Baha'u'llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah, p. 337)

March 3, 2011

The amazing station of Mulla Husayn – the First Letter of the Living

Mulla Husayn, the first Letter of the Living, surnamed the Babu'l-Bab (the Gate of the Gate); designated as the "Primal Mirror;" on whom eulogies, prayers and visiting Tablets of a number equivalent to thrice the volume of the Qur'án had been lavished by the pen of the Bab; referred to in these eulogies as "beloved of My Heart;" the dust of whose grave, that same Pen had declared, was so potent as to cheer the sorrowful and heal the sick; whom "the creatures, raised in the beginning and in the end" of the Bábí Dispensation, envy, and will continue to envy till the "Day of Judgment;" whom the Kitáb-i-Íqán acclaimed as the one but for whom "God would not have been established upon the seat of His mercy, nor ascended the throne of eternal glory;" to whom Siyyid Kazim had paid such tribute that his disciples suspected that the recipient of such praise might well be the promised One Himself … (Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By, p. 49)

February 24, 2011

Freedom is not a matter of place. It is a condition …

When the ship came abreast of the Statue of Liberty, ‘Abdu'l-Bahá stood erect facing the Statue and held up His arms in salutation.

'There is the new world's symbol of liberty and freedom,' He said. 'After being forty years a prisoner I can tell you that freedom is not a matter of place. It is a condition . . . When one is released from the prison of self, that is indeed a release.'

'Abdu'l-Bahá waved farewell to the Statue as the ship turned towards Manhattan. To the reporters He said, 'In former ages it has been said, "To love one's native land is faith." But the tongue in this day says, "Glory is not his who loves his native land, but glory is his who loves his kind - humanity."' (An account given by a reporter who boarded ‘Abdu'l-Bahá’s ship as it entered the New York harbor, 1912; Quoted in ‘The Flame, the Story of Lua’, by William Sears & Robert Quigley)

February 22, 2011

'Akka -- May, 1967

'Akka from the air, looking west over the Mediterranean. Most Great Prison shown in center, Mosque to lower left. Photo taken in May, 1967.

February 16, 2011

We should become more like “earth” and not like “fire”

In the Qur'án there is a little story, but a great lesson to the whole of mankind, if mankind is ever ready to take lessons from the Words of the Prophets of God. It's written that when God appointed Adam as His viceroy on this planet, He called all the angels and said, "Prostrate to this one, because He is My Messenger on earth. I have taught Him everything. He knows things which all the angels together do not know." All of the angels prostrated, except one, whose name is mentioned in the Qur'án as Eblis, and in Western literature as Lucifer. And God asked him, "Why don't you obey My command? Why don't you prostrate?" He said, "How can I prostrate? I am made of fire and this Adam is made of earth. I am a higher and more sublime element than earth." Although this one was the head of all the angels and their teacher, because of this pride, he failed in one little test of God. And ever since that time, all of humanity has been divided into two different sections separate from each other. Those who have the characteristics, the nature of earth, and those who have the sense of fire.

`Abdu'l-Bahá has explained many things in His writings, in His tablets, in His addresses, and even in His oral conversations with people, the explanation of the difference between two elements is the most excellent ever written by any pen on the pages of paper in the whole history of mankind. He says the earth is faithful, the earth is generous and the earth is very patient. These three characters of the earth are given by the pen of 'Abdu'l-Bahá. Fire is greedy. Now He explains one by one. He says that the earth is faithful because you open the earth and entrust with the most valuable treasures, and cover it, and come back after half a century, it will give you back exactly as you have given it. It will not devour it. It will not spoil it. It will give you as you have given it. It is generous, `Abdu'l-Bahá says, because you give the earth one grain and it will give you back a harvest. You plant a stem, and the earth will give you back a fruitful tree. And it is patient, because you break the breast of the earth from all sides, and it gives you more fruit, more seeds. But as to the fire, He says its devours. Its tongues are stretched on all sides, and wants more and more. Give to the fire all the oil of the world, still it says "I want more." If you don't control it, it will destroy a village within some minutes, a town within hours, and perhaps the whole world. Therefore, this is the foremost duty of every Bahá'í youth to start life with a certain discipline which will give everyone of us a nature, an attitude, that we will be like the earth, not like the fire. Fire never achieves anything. But being like earth, then we will achieve many things in life.

To do this we must walk in the path of `Abdu'l-Bahá … (Hand of the Cause Abu'l-Qásim Faizí, from a talk given at the Foundation Hall of the Bahá'í House of Worship in Chicago on the evening of August 25, 1974; ‘Conqueror of Hearts: Excerpts from Letters, Talks, and Writings of Hand of the Cause of God Abu'l-Qásim Faizí, by Abu'l-Qasim Faizi, Edited by Shirley Macias’ 2002)

February 13, 2011

The “Administration of Bahá'u'lláh's invincible Faith” is the “infallible Organ for the accomplishment of a Divine Purpose”

Out of the pangs of anguish which His bereaved followers have suffered, amid the heat and dust which the attacks launched by a sleepless enemy had precipitated, the Administration of Bahá'u'lláh's invincible Faith was born. The potent energies released through the ascension of the Center of His Covenant crystallized into this supreme, this infallible Organ for the accomplishment of a Divine Purpose. The Will and Testament of 'Abdu'l-Bahá unveiled its character, reaffirmed its basis, supplemented its principles, asserted its indispensability, and enumerated its chief institutions.... (Shoghi Effendi, ‘America and the Most Great Peace, 21 April 1933, "The World Order of Bahá'u'lláh: Selected Letters’; The Compilation of Compilations, vol. II, The Significance of the Formative Age of Our Faith)

February 12, 2011

Mount Carmel as it appeared to the first American pilgrims in 1898

Mount Carmel as it appeared to the first American pilgrims to visit 'Abdu'l-Baha in 1898. The building at the foot and on the left marks the place where Elijah, the Prophet, found shelter. On the summit is a convent. (Baha'i News, December 1971)

February 10, 2011

1969: Hands of the Cause of God Enoch Olinga and Dr. Rahmatu'llah Muhajir

Hands of the Cause of God Enoch Olinga and Dr. Rahmatu'llah Muhajir in Lagos, Nigeria, October 9, 1969.

February 9, 2011

In terms of the intensity of Their light and Its effect on the whole earth, previous Manifestations of God were like “stars”, and Baha’u’llah is like the “sun”

In cycles gone by, each one of the Manifestations of God hath had His own rank in the world of existence, and each hath represented a stage in the development of humanity. But the Manifestation of the Most Great Name -- may my life be a sacrifice for His loved ones -- was an expression of the coming of age, the maturing of man's inmost reality in this world of being. For the sun is the source and well-spring of light and heat, the focal point of splendours, and it compriseth all the perfections that are made manifest by the other stars which have dawned upon the world. Make thou an effort that thou mayest take thy place under the sun and receive an abundant share of its dazzling light. In truth do I tell thee, once thou hast attained this station, thou shalt behold the saints bowing down their heads in all humility before Him. Haste thou to life before death cometh; haste thou to the spring season before autumn draweth in; and before illness striketh, haste thou to healing -- that thou mayest become a physician of the spirit who, with the breaths of the Holy Spirit, healeth all manner of sickness in this famed and glorious age. ('Abdu'l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Baha, p. 56)

February 7, 2011

‘Abdu’l-Baha was asked if prayer was necessary since presumably God knows the wishes of all our hearts

‘Abdu'l-Baha said:

"If one friend feels love for another he will wish to say so. Though he knows that the friend is aware that he loves him, he will still wish to say so. If there is anyone that you love do you not seek an opportunity to speak with him, to speak lovingly with him, to bring him gifts, to write him letters? If you do not feel such a desire it would be that you did not love your friend. God knows the wishes of all hearts. But the impulse to pray is a natural one springing from man's love to God.

"If there be no love, if there be no pleasure or spiritual enjoyment in prayer, do not pray. Prayer should spring from love, from the desire of the person to commune with God. Just as the lover never ceases from wishing to communicate with the beloved so does the lover of God always wish for constant communication with the Deity.

"Prayer need not be in words, but in thought and attitude. But if this love and this desire are lacking it is useless to try to force them. Words without love mean nothing. If a person talks to you as an unpleasant duty with no love or pleasure in his meeting with you, do you wish to converse with him? Efforts should first be made to make attachment to God."

When asked how this attachment is to be made, how the love of God is to be obtained, since there are many people in the world who admit the existence of a Deity but without any emotion, ‘Abdu'l-Baha said:

"Knowledge is love. Study, listen to exhortations, think, try to understand the wisdom and greatness of God. The soil must be fertilized before the seed be sown." (Words of ‘Abdu'l-Baha, from an article in The Fortnightly Review, June, 1911, by Miss E. S. Stevens; Star of the West, vol. 8, May 17, 1917)

February 4, 2011

How we each can vindicate “the truth of this Cause before the eyes of enlightened people”

It is primarily through the potency of noble deeds and character, rather than by the power of exposition and proofs, that the friends of God should demonstrate to the world that what has been promised by God is bound to happen, that it is already taking place and that the divine glad-tidings are clear, evident and complete. For unless some illustrious souls step forth into the arena of service and shine out resplendent in the assemblage of men, the task of vindicating the truth of this Cause before the eyes of enlightened people would be formidable indeed. However, if the friends become embodiments of virtue and good character, words and arguments will be superfluous. Their very deeds will well serve as eloquent testimony, and their noble conduct will ensure the preservation, integrity and glory of the Cause of God. (From a letter dated 19 December 1923 written by Shoghi Effendi to the Bahá'ís of the East - translated from the Persian; The Compilation of Compilations, vol. II, Living the Life)

January 31, 2011

The Master delineates the pathway to becoming “clothed in the attributes of the angels of heaven” while we are still on this plane of existence

As for you, O ye lovers of God, make firm your steps in His Cause, with such resolve that ye shall not be shaken though the direst of calamities assail the world.
• By nothing, under no conditions, be ye perturbed.
• Be ye anchored fast as the high mountains,
• be stars that dawn over the horizon of life,
• be bright lamps in the gatherings of unity,
• be souls humble and lowly in the presence of the friends,
• be innocent in heart.
• Be ye symbols of guidance and lights of godliness,
• severed from the world,
• clinging to the handhold that is sure and strong,
• spreading abroad the spirit of life,
• riding the Ark of salvation.
• Be ye daysprings of generosity,
• dawning-points of the mysteries of existence,
• sites where inspiration alighteth,
• rising-places of splendours,
• souls that are sustained by the Holy Spirit,
• enamoured of the Lord,
• detached from all save Him,
• holy above the characteristics of humankind,
• clothed in the attributes of the angels of heaven, that ye may win for yourselves the highest bestowal of all, in this new time, this wondrous age. ('Abdu'l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of Abdu'l-Baha, p. 242)