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)