December 31, 2012

“The greatest attainment in the world of humanity is nearness to God.” -- ‘Abdu’l-Baha explains how a human soul can become nearer to God

Nearness to God is dependent upon purity of the heart and exhilaration of the spirit through the glad tidings of the Kingdom. Consider how a pure, well-polished mirror fully reflects the effulgence of the sun, no matter how distant the sun may be. As soon as the mirror is cleaned and purified, the sun will manifest itself. The more pure and sanctified the heart of man becomes, the nearer it draws to God, and the light of the Sun of Reality is revealed within it. This light sets hearts aglow with the fire of the love of God, opens in them the doors of knowledge and unseals the divine mysteries so that spiritual discoveries are made possible. All the Prophets have drawn near to God through severance. We must emulate those Holy Souls and renounce our own wishes and desires. We must purify ourselves from the mire and soil of earthly contact until our hearts become as mirrors in clearness and the light of the most great guidance reveals itself in them.

Bahá’u’lláh proclaims in the Hidden Words that God inspires His servants and is revealed through them. He says, “Thy heart is My home; sanctify it for My descent. Thy spirit is My place of revelation; cleanse it for My manifestation.” Therefore, we learn that nearness to God is possible through devotion to Him, through entrance into the Kingdom and service to humanity; it is attained by unity with mankind and through loving-kindness to all; it is dependent upon investigation of truth, acquisition of praiseworthy virtues, service in the cause of universal peace and personal sanctification. In a word, nearness to God necessitates sacrifice of self, severance and the giving up of all to Him. Nearness is likeness.

Behold how the sun shines upon all creation, but only surfaces that are pure and polished can reflect its glory and light. (‘Abdu’l-Baha, from a talk, 26 May 1912, New York, ‘The Promulgation of the Universal Peace’) (To see the entire talk please visit Talks of ‘Abdu’l-Baha)

December 24, 2012

circa 1933: Haziratu'l-Quds of the Baha'is of Rangoon, Burma

Haziratu'l-Quds of the Baha'is of Rangoon, Burma, circa 1933. (The Baha'i World 1932-1934)

December 20, 2012

The erection of the Mashriqu’l-Adhkar in America – ‘Abdu’l-Baha explains what made it such a unique undertaking from “the Day of Adam until now”

In these times the utmost hope and wish of the friends of the West is the erection of the Mashriqu’l-Adhkar and in those regions the materials for construction and building are expensive and costly; a large sum of money is needed for the building of a residence -- then how much more is needed for the foundation of the Mashriqu’l-Adhkar which must be erected with the utmost splendor, beauty and magnificence. Therefore, the friends of God must arise in every part of the world to raise contributions and with their hearts and souls strive to gather these funds to be sent to the Occident that it may become known and evident throughout the universe that the Bahais of the East and West are as members of one household and the children of the one Lord. The Turks and the Persians, the Parsee and the Americans, the Hindu and the Africans, all of them are one army and one cohort and without any consideration they arise for the assistance and aid of each other.

December 15, 2012

What is Love? -- 'Abdu'l-Baha explains

Know thou of a certainty that Love is the secret of God’s holy Dispensation, the manifestation of the All-Merciful, the fountain of spiritual outpourings. Love is heaven’s kindly light, the Holy Spirit’s eternal breath that vivifieth the human soul. Love is the cause of God’s revelation unto man, the vital bond inherent, in accordance with the divine creation, in the realities of things. Love is the one means that ensureth true felicity both in this world and the next. Love is the light that guideth in darkness, the living link that uniteth God with man, that assureth the progress of every illumined soul. Love is the most great law that ruleth this mighty and heavenly cycle, the unique power that bindeth together the divers elements of this material world, the supreme magnetic force that directeth the movements of the spheres in the celestial realms. Love revealeth with unfailing and limitless power the mysteries latent in the universe. Love is the spirit of life unto the adorned body of mankind, the establisher of true civilization in this mortal world, and the shedder of imperishable glory upon every high-aiming race and nation. (‘Abdu’l-Baha, ‘Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Baha’)

December 10, 2012

The “comprehension of the Sacred Writings is not dependent upon scholarship or learning.”

… it is essential to recall that, as we are told in the Writings, the comprehension of the Sacred Writings is not dependent upon scholarship or learning. This should encourage every believer, no matter what his attainments, to delve into the Revelation with determination and confidence. In the Book of Certitude, Bahá'u'lláh says:

The understanding of His words and the comprehension of the utterances of the Birds of Heaven are in no wise dependent upon human learning. They depend solely upon purity of heart, chastity of soul, and freedom of spirit.

But, in addition to needing the proper spirit, it requires concentration and meditation to unravel the meanings which lie enshrined in the Revealed Word. Nowadays, however, the lives of most people are busy and crowded with distractions, so it requires great discipline to devote the time, attention and care necessary to study the Teachings in the way they deserve. Deepening is like a skill or art which must be acquired through effort. (From a letter dated 21 January 1993 written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer)

December 2, 2012

“…greed and envy becloudeth the radiance of the soul even as the clouds obstruct the light of the sun.” -- Baha'u'llah explains

O children of understanding! If the eyelid, however delicate, can deprive man’s outer eye from beholding the world and all that is therein, consider then what would be wrought if the veil of covetousness were to descend upon his inner eye. Say: O people! The darkness of greed and envy becloudeth the radiance of the soul even as the clouds obstruct the light of the sun. Should anyone hearken unto this utterance with a discerning ear, he will unfurl the wings of detachment and soar effortlessly in the atmosphere of true understanding. (Baha’u’llah, ‘The Tabernacle of Unity, Bahá’u’lláh’s Responses to Mánikchí Sáhib and Other Writings’)

November 29, 2012

The example of our beloved Master – “the path of servitude … the way of holiness”

We can prove ourselves worthy of our Cause only if in our individual conduct and corporate life we sedulously imitate the example of our beloved Master, Whom the terrors of tyranny, the storms of incessant abuse, the oppressiveness of humiliation, never caused to deviate a hair’s breadth from the revealed Law of Bahá’u’lláh.

Such is the path of servitude, such is the way of holiness He chose to tread to the very end of His life. Nothing short of the strictest adherence to His glorious example can safely steer our course amid the pitfalls of this perilous age, and lead us on to fulfill our high destiny. (Shoghi Effendi, from a letter dated April 12, 1927 to the members of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of the United States and Canada; ‘Baha’i Administration’)

November 27, 2012

“We must … try first to acquire the bounties of the Kingdom for ourselves and attain life everlasting, and then endeavor to quicken the nations and give life to the world.” – Prayer to recite every “night and day”

Unless a man acquires perfection for himself, he cannot teach others how to attain such perfection; and unless he gets life for himself, he cannot give life to others. We must therefore try first to acquire the bounties of the Kingdom for ourselves and attain life everlasting, and then endeavor to quicken the nations and give life to the world. Thus, we must constantly pray to His Holy Court and seek His eternal bounties. We must acquire pure hearts like unto mirrors, so that the lights of the Sun of Reality may shine.

Every night and day we must supplicate to Him and beg for His assistance, saying: `O Lord, we are weak, make us strong; we are ignorant, make us wise. O Lord, we are poor, give us the wealth of the Kingdom. O God, we are dead, bestow upon us everlasting life; we are in utter lowliness, exalt us in Thy Kingdom. Should Thy heavenly confirmations surround us, each one of us can be a luminous star, otherwise we become lower than dust. O God, help us; make us victorious; assist us to overcome self and desire; and deliver us from the world of nature. O God! Quicken us through the breaths of the Holy Spirit so that we may arise to serve Thee, engage ourselves in worshipping Thee and broadcast the signs of Thy Kingdom with utmost truthfulness and sincerity. Thou art the Powerful, the Mighty, the Generous and the Compassionate. (Words of ‘Abdu’l-Baha, New York, December 3, 1912; Mahmud’s Diary)

November 25, 2012

Prayer offered by ‘Abdu’l-Baha at the grave of Thornton Chase

O my God! O my God! Verily, this is a servant of Thine, who did believe on Thee and in Thy signs; verily he hearkened to Thy summons, turned to Thy Kingdom, humbled himself at Thy holy threshold, was possessed of a contrite heart, arose to serve Thy cause, to spread Thy fragrances, to promote Thy word, and to expound Thy wisdom.

Verily he guided the people to Thine ancient pathway, and led them to Thy way of rectitude. Verily he held the chalice of guidance in his right hand and gave unto those athirst to drink of the cup of favour. He presented himself at Thy lofty threshold, where he laid his brow on the fragrant soil of Thy garden and circumambulated Thy all-glorious and sublime abode, the traces of which are wide-spread and the fragrances of whose loyalty are sensed everywhere. Later he returned to these vast and extensive countries and proclaimed Thy Name amongst the people, until his respiration ceased and his outward sensation was suspended, returning to Thee with a heart throbbing with Thy love and with an eye opened to Thy direction.

O Lord! O Lord! Submerge him in the ocean of Thy glory. O Lord! O Lord! Usher him into Thy delectable garden. O Lord! O Lord! Usher him into Thy lofty paradise and cause him to be present in Thy meeting of transfiguration. O Lord! Submerge him in the ocean of Thy lights.

Verily, Thou art the Clement! Verily, Thou are the Merciful, the Precious, the Omnipotent! (Abdu'l-Baha, Star of the West, vol.III, No. 13, November 4, 1912) (For a brief description about his life please visit 'Baha'i Heores and Heroines')

November 24, 2012

Feast given to the poor of Haifa , July 1932

Feast given to the poor of Haifa in memory of the passing of Bahiyyih Khanum, the Greatest Holy Leaf, July 1932. (The Baha'i World 1932-1934)

November 22, 2012

The “essence of thanksgiving”

O thou handmaid of God! In this day, to thank God for His bounties consisteth in possessing a radiant heart, and a soul open to the promptings of the spirit. This is the essence of thanksgiving.

As for offering thanks by speaking out or writing, although this is indeed acceptable, yet when compared with that other thanksgiving, it is only a semblance and unreal; for the essential thing is these intimations of the spirit, these emanations from the deep recess of the heart. It is my hope that thou wilt be favoured therewith. (‘Abdu’l-Baha, ‘Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Baha’)

November 11, 2012

We are dependent on God the same way that “the body is dependent upon the soul”

Furthermore, many say, `We have no need of divine Manifestations; we ourselves have direct communication with God.' They do not know that the divine Manifestations are the bright rays of the Sun of Truth and a means of educating the realities of man. Therefore, he who rejects the bounty of the Sun of Truth and thinks himself not in need of it is like the one who says he is not in need of God and rejects both God and reality, in spite of the fact that all creation is receiving incessant bounty from God and is dependent on Him, as the body is dependent upon the soul. (Words of ‘Abdu’l-Baha, New York, November 26, 1912, Mahmud’s Diary)

November 8, 2012

Meaning of a passage in the Bible: "That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit"(John 3:6)

Christ announced, "That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit," meaning that man must be born again. As the babe is born into the light of this physical world, so must the physical and intellectual man be born into the light of the world of Divinity. ('Abdu'l-Baha, The Promulgation of Universal Peace)

November 6, 2012

Question: Do we know when the Lesser Peace will come about? Why did we think it would be by the year 2000?

Answer by ‘Ali Nakhjavani: When Shoghi Effendi was asked when exactly the Lesser Peace would be established, he wrote back saying that we did not know the exact time. The speculation about the year 2000 stems from the fifth candle of unity, which is “unity of nations”, and, as you recall, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá states in that Tablet that it is “a unity which in this century will be securely established”. Since this Tablet was revealed in 1906, it is obvious that “this century” means the twentieth century, especially since the recipient was one of the friends in the British Isles. The point that was missed was that the stage of the “unity of nations” is clearly defined by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá Himself in the same Tablet. It is when “the peoples of the world [will] regard themselves as citizens of one common fatherland”. This is a reference to an awareness in the peoples of the world that the world is really one world and the planet the home of the human race. This consciousness is, of course, an important step towards the Lesser Peace but not the Lesser Peace itself. (Ali Nakhjavani, ‘Towards World Order’, Acuto, Italy, 2004, a week-long course on the study of various aspects of the World Order of Bahá’u’lláh)

November 3, 2012

1937: Baha'i pioneer teaches some under-privileged children in Brazil

Leonora Holsapple (upper left), the pioneer teacher of the Faith in Brazil, and Nelie French, on the occasion of the latter's visit to South America, March 1937. The children belong to Leonora's class for the under-privileged. (The Baha'i World 1936-1938)

November 1, 2012

Four qualities Baha’u’llah loves to see in people

The Blessed Beauty often remarked: 'There are four qualities which I love to see manifested in people: first, enthusiasm and courage; second, a face wreathed in smiles and a radiant countenance; third, that they see all things with their own eyes and not through the eyes of others; fourth, the ability to carry a task, once begun, through to its end.' (Stories of Baha’u’llah, compiled by Hand of the Cause Ali-Akbar Furutan)

October 28, 2012

Mural paintings on the walls of the Mansion of Bahji

Mural paintings on the walls of the Mansion of Bahji where Baha'u'llah spent the last years of His life. (The Baha'i World 1936-1938)

October 23, 2012

Message from ‘Abdu’l-Baha to the whole of humanity – request from a Chicago newspaper editor

From there He went to Dr. Milburn's home where a number of people met Him. Among them was an editor who asked that a message from the Master be given through his journal to the whole of humanity. The Master's message was this:

Praise be to God that the centuries of darkness have passed and the age of enlightenment has arrived!

Praise be to God that all traces of superstition and imitation have vanished and the minds and thoughts of men have broadened, inventions have gained new life, the arts and sciences have been revived, new plans have been evolved, discoveries have increased, all things have been revitalized, the rulings that regulate the world have been renewed! Thus it was necessary that the laws of God also be changed and the reality of divine religions be renewed, for divine teachings had been forgotten and there was nothing left but dogmatic imitation. The foundation of the divine religions is one and that is the truth which generates love and affection and is the cause of the unity of mankind. But imitations vary and they are the cause of disagreements and are the destroyers of spiritual foundations.

October 20, 2012

There are 75 times more cells in the human body than stars in the Milky Way galaxy

The Milky Way is a barred spiral galaxy 100,000–120,000 light-years in diameter containing 200–400 billion stars. The human body … consists of an estimated 20 to 30 trillion cells. This means there are approximately 75 times more cells in a human body than stars in the Milky Way galaxy. (Adapted from Wikipedia Encyclopedia and Encarta Encyclopedia) It reminds one of an Islamic tradition from Imam ‘Ali, quoted by ‘Abdu’l-Baha in ‘The Secret of Divine Civilization’: "Dost thou think thyself only a puny form, when the universe is folded up within thee?"

October 18, 2012

“Be at peace and make peace with all.”

Among those visiting `Abdu'l-Bahá for the first time was a man from Russia. When he was admitted into the Master's room he began to complain about Russia. The Master said to him:

"Do not speak ill of Russia. Render good to friend and foe alike. Say that you are one with all. Be a true well-wisher of people. Give up your evil thoughts and pray for all. Be at peace and make peace with all. Do not express hatred or resentment toward anyone. Be a proclaimer of peace and say, `Now I feel no enmity toward anyone.' Praise all and be mindful of the story of Christ. When everyone expressed disgust on seeing the body of a dead dog, Christ said, `What white teeth it has!'"

The visitor was so overwhelmed that he cried out, `Today I have found the way to salvation and safety.' The Master replied, `If you follow these teachings you will see things greater than this.' (Mahmud’s Diary, November 1, 1912, Chicago)

October 15, 2012

The “wisdom of trials” and the “cause of ordeals” – ‘Abdu’l-Baha explains

Consequently the Most Great Wisdom has ordained that the fire of tests shall rage and the rushing torrent of ordeals sweep tumultuously from the Mountain of Revelation, so that the untruthful may become distinguished from the truthful, the unrighteous be known from the righteous, the worshipper of self become separated from the worshipper of God, the good fruit be set apart from the evil fruit, the signs of light become manifest and the gloom of darkness be dispelled, the nightingale of trustworthiness sing the melody of love and the raven of oppression croak the discordant notes of error; the fertile soil become green and verdant and the barren ground produce its thorns and thistles; the attracted ones to the Breath of ABHA become firm and the follower of passion and desire turn away. This is the wisdom of trials and this is the cause of ordeals. (‘Abdu’l-Baha, from a Tablet, Star of the West, vol. 1. No. 3, April 28, 1910)

October 10, 2012

1936: General view of the Resting-Place of Bahiyyih Khanum, the Greatest Holy Leaf,

General view of the Resting-Place of Bahiyyih Khanum, the Greatest Holy Leaf, as it appeared in 1936. (The Baha'i World, 1934-1936)

October 6, 2012

The recipient of the book 'Fara'id' by Mirza Abu'l-Fadl

The Shaykhu'l-Islam of Tiflis, Caucasus, in reply to whose attacks on the Cause Mirza Abu'l-Fadl addressed his well-known book entitled 'Fara'id'. (The Baha'i World 1936-1938)

October 1, 2012

Portion of a Tablet from ‘Abdu’l-Baha to the Baha’is of Seattle, USA

Through the boundless Favor, I hope that in Seattle by the endeavor of the beloved of God, certain souls may arise who may prove a radiant lamp to the world of humanity and merciful spirit to the phenomenal body; that they may be the cause of the purification of souls and the means of sanctification of hearts; that they may know this mortal world as fleeting shadow and call the rest and repose, the pleasure and blessing, the wealth and sovereignty of the earth, the waves of the sea of imagination; that they may arise in such wise to live by the Divine Teachings and Exhortations of the Blessed Beauty as to sparkle even like the morning star from the horizon of holiness. (‘Abdu’l-Baha, excerpt from a Tablet, Star of the West, vol. 2, no. 4, May 17, 1911)

September 30, 2012

The very moving visit of the Master to the resting place of Thornton Chase

After prayer and meditation, the beloved Master, accompanied by several of the friends, went to Mr. Chase's grave. The tram stopped near the cemetery, which is located a few miles from the city. The Master alighted and walked towards the grave with dignified solemnity and serenity. He went directly to the grave site without asking directions from anyone. He praised the site and the lushness of the trees and grass. He stood there for a few minutes leaning against a nearby tree. He then stood near the grave of that distinguished man and spread over it bouquets of flowers, adorning that sanctified soil with such love and affection that bystanders were astonished. Facing in the direction of the Holy Land, the Master chanted Bahá'u'lláh's Tablet of Visitation. All stood in solemn reverence behind Him. After chanting the Tablet of Visitation, He recited a prayer in Arabic for the forgiveness of the departed soul. He then gave a short account of this faithful believer's services, steadfastness and forbearance. Before He left, He placed His forehead on the grave and kissed it. Tears flowed from the eyes of the believers as they bowed before that sacred spot, each one longing to attain to that sublime and exalted station. The spot became an abode of lovers. (Mahmud’s Diary, October 19, 1912)

September 25, 2012

Speakers at the Baha'i Youth Symposium and Baha'i friends, March 22, 1936, Los Angeles, California

Speakers at the Baha'i Youth Symposium and Baha'i friends, March 22, 1936, Los Angeles, California, USA (The Baha'i World 1936-1938)

September 20, 2012

Prayer ‘Abdu’l-Baha chanted before lunch at the request of the friends

He then went to lunch. At the request of those present at the table the Master chanted the following prayer:

He is God! Thou seest us, O my God, gathered around this table, praising Thy bounty, with our gaze set upon Thy Kingdom. O Lord! Send down upon us Thy heavenly food and confer upon us Thy blessing. Thou art verily the Bestower, the Merciful, the Compassionate. (Mahmud’s Diary, October 14, 1912, Pleasanton, California)

September 17, 2012

Prophets of Israel: Abraham, Isaac, Ishmael, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Aaron, David and Solomon

Among the Prophets was Abraham, who prohibited idolatry and was a herald of the oneness of God, consequently He was banished by the people from His native land.

Let us observe how religion became an impetus towards progress. Abraham founded a family which God did bless. Owing to its religious basis the Abrahamic house progressed. Through divine benediction, Prophets issued forth from His lineage. There appeared Isaac, Ishmael, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Aaron, David and Solomon. The Holy Land was ruled by them and a glorious civilization was established. All this was due to the religion which was founded. (Words of ‘Abdu’l-Baha, excerpt from and a talk given at Temple Emmanu-El, San Francisco, California, October 12, 1912; Mahmud’s Diary)

September 15, 2012

‘Abdu’l-Baha’s conversation with the Mayor of Berkeley

October 7, 1912
San Francisco, California

Among those visiting the Master today was the Mayor of Berkeley. He questioned the Master about economic issues and received useful answers. In conclusion ‘Abdu'l-Bahá said:

We must strive until mankind achieves everlasting felicity. Laws are needed which can both preserve the ranks of individuals and secure peace and stability for them because society is like an army, which needs a general, captains, lieutenants and privates. Not all can be captains nor can all be soldiers. The grades of responsibility are essential and the differences of rank a necessity. Just as a family needs old and young, master and mistress, servants and attendants, likewise society needs organization and structure. However, all must be part of an order which will ensure that each lives in complete comfort within his own station. It should not be that the master lives in comfort while the servant is in pain; that is injustice. Similarly, it is impossible that all be either servants or masters; then there would be no order.

The mayor asked, `Will these things be realized soon?' The Master replied:

As these laws are in conformity with the demands of the time, they will unfailingly prevail, although they will be implemented gradually. Everything can be prevented or resisted except the demands of the time. The time is ripe for the governments to remedy these ills. Relief must be brought to the toiling masses. Otherwise, if these ills are allowed to become chronic, their cure will be difficult and they will precipitate a great revolution.

The Master then gave an account of the unity and self-sacrifice of the friends of the East and expounded on various aspects of the true economic laws, which He had written while in Dublin. The mayor was so impressed that he could not help expressing his sincere admiration. He then invited the Master to an important meeting to be held in the city that evening. Because this meeting had political aims as its objective, the Master tendered His apologies. (Mahmud's Diary)

September 10, 2012

List of the Báb’s Best-Known Works – identified by Shoghi Effendi in ‘The Dawn-Breakers’

1. The Persian Bayán
2. The Arabie Bayán
3. The Qayyúmu’l-Asmá
4. The Sahifatu’l-Haramayn
5. The Dalá’il-i-Sab‘ih
6. Commentary on the Súrih of Kawthar
7. Commentary on the Súrih of Va’l-‘Asr
8. The Kitáb-i-Asmá’
9. Sahifiy-i-Makhdhumíyyih
10. Sahifiy-i-Ja’faríyyih
11. Zíyárat-i-Sháh-’Abdu’l-’Azim

September 6, 2012

We can gain “an abundance of inspiration and manifold insights” by studying the “words uttered by 'Abdu'l-Baha during His travels, and the deeds He undertook with such consummate wisdom and love”

Over the next few years, Baha'is around the world will joyously call to mind the many episodes associated with 'Abdu'l-Baha's historic journey. But this anniversary is more than a time for commemoration. The words uttered by 'Abdu'l-Baha during His travels, and the deeds He undertook with such consummate wisdom and love, offer an abundance of inspiration and manifold insights from which the body of the believers can today draw, whether in their efforts
  • to embrace receptive souls,
  • to raise capacity for service,
  • to build local communities,
  • to strengthen institutions, or
  • to exploit opportunities emerging to engage in social action and
  • [to] contribute to public discourse.
We should, therefore, reflect not only upon what the Master achieved and set in motion but also on the work that remains undone to which He has summoned us. (The Universal House of Justice, message to the Baha’is of the World. 29 August 2010)

August 29, 2012

Ruins of the Bath visited by the Bab in Urumiyyih, Persia

Ruins of the Bath visited by the Bab in Urumiyyih, Persia (The Baha'i World 1934-1936)

August 26, 2012

1936: Members and delegates of the International Youth Group meet with Baha'is at Green Acre

Members and delegates of the International Youth Group which held a session in Green Acre, Eliot, Maine, USA, in order to meet with the Baha'is while on their tour of America during 1936. (The Baha'i World 1936-1938)

August 20, 2012

The station of the Letters of the Living – gleaned from the Writings by the Guardian

  • The “first Letters generated from the Primal Point”;
  • The “company of angels arrayed before God on the Day of His coming”;
  • The “Repositories of His Mystery”;
  • The “Springs that have welled out from the Source of His Revelation”;
  • The first companions who, in the words of the Persian Bayán, “enjoy nearest access to God”;
  • The “Luminaries that have, from everlasting, bowed down, and will everlastingly continue to bow down, before the Celestial Throne”;
  • The “elders” mentioned in the Book of Revelation as “sitting before God on their seats,” “clothed in white raiment” and wearing on their heads “crowns of gold”. (Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By)

August 17, 2012

“… personalities should not be made centers around which the community may revolve ” –- a “cardinal principle of Bahá'í Administration”

I fully approve and wholeheartedly and unreservedly uphold the principle to which you refer that personalities should not be made centers around which the community may revolve but that they should be subordinated under all conditions and however great their merits to the properly constituted Assemblies. You and your co-workers can never over-estimate or over-emphasize this cardinal principle of Bahá'í Administration. (Shoghi Effendi, April 11, 1933, ‘Messages to America’)

August 14, 2012

August 10, 2012

The cause of rejection and persecution of the Báb and the Christ

The cause of the rejection and persecution of the Báb was in its essence the same as that of the rejection and persecution of the Christ. If Jesus had not brought a New Book, if He had not only reiterated the spiritual principles taught by Moses but had continued Moses’ rules and regulations too, He might as a merely moral reformer have escaped the vengeance of the Scribes and Pharisees. But to claim that any part of the Mosaic law, even such material ordinances as those that dealt with divorce and the keeping of the Sabbath, could be altered—and altered by an unordained preacher from the village of Nazareth—this was to threaten the interests of the Scribes and Pharisees themselves, and since they were the representatives of Moses and of God, it was blasphemy against the Most High. As soon as the position of Jesus was understood, His persecution began. As He refused to desist, He was put to death.

For reasons exactly parallel, the Báb was from the beginning opposed by the vested interests of the dominant Church as an uprooter of the Faith. Yet, even in that dark and fanatical country, the mullás (like the Scribes in Palestine eighteen centuries before) did not find it very easy to put forward a plausible pretext for destroying Him whom they thought their enemy. (George Townshend, Introduction to ‘The Dawn-Breakers’)

August 5, 2012

The twofold nature of a believer’s task – the Guardian explains

Let every believer, desirous to witness the swift and healthy progress of the Cause of God, realize the twofold nature of his task. Let him first turn his eyes inwardly and search his own heart and satisfy himself that in his relations with his fellow-believers, irrespective of colour and class, he is proving himself increasingly loyal to the spirit of his beloved Faith. Assured and content that he is exerting his utmost in a conscious effort to approach nearer every day the lofty station to which his gracious Master summons him, let him turn to his second task, and, with befitting confidence and vigour, assail the devastating power of those forces which in his own heart he has already succeeded in subduing. Fully alive to the unfailing efficacy of the power of Bahá'u'lláh, and armed with the essential weapons of wise restraint and inflexible resolve, let him wage a constant fight against the inherited tendencies, the corruptive instincts, the fluctuating fashions, the false pretences of the society in which he lives and moves. (Shoghi Effendi, in a letter dated 12 April 1927 to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, published in "Bahá'í Administration: Selected Messages 1922-1932"; ; The Compilation of Compilations, vol. I, Excellence in All Things)

August 1, 2012

‘Abdu'l-Baba’s prediction concerning the future of Green Acre – Tablet to Sarah Farmer, Founder of Green Acre

O Maid-servant of God! Be rejoiced at this glad tidings, whereby the hearts of the people of the Kingdom of Abha are moved with joy. Verily, I beseech God to make Green Acre as the Paradise of Abha, so that the melodies of the Nightingales of Sanctity may be heard from it, and that the chanting of the Verses of Unity may be raised therein, to cause the clouds of the great Gift to pour upon it the rains falling from heaven, to make those countries become verdant with the myrtles of Truth and Inner Significances, and to plant therein blessed trees, with the Hand of Providence, which may bring forth pure and excellent fruits wherefrom the Fragrances of God may be diffused throughout all regions. These signs shall surely appear, and these lights shall shine forth. (The Baha’i World 1936-1938)

July 21, 2012

Hands of the Cause of God animated “love”, “wisdom” and “the spirit of dedication” – a note of appreciation by the Universal House of Justice

… for the Hands themselves to extend the range of their individual services beyond the continental sphere, thereby making universally available to the friends the love, the wisdom and the spirit of dedication animating the Guardian's appointees. (From Ridvan 1969 message of the Universal House of Justice) (To read the entire message please visit Messages to the Baha’i World Community – by the Universal House of Justice)

July 19, 2012

In what way we can thank God for the blessings we received to recognize Baha’u’llah

O ye peoples of the Kingdom! How many a soul expended all its span of life in worship, endured the mortification of the flesh, longed to gain an entry into the Kingdom, and yet failed, while ye, with neither toil nor pain nor self-denial, have won the prize and entered in.

It is even as in the time of the Messiah, when the Pharisees and the pious were left without a portion, while Peter, John and Andrew, given neither to pious worship nor ascetic practice, won the day. Wherefore, thank ye God for setting upon your heads the crown of glory everlasting, for granting unto you this immeasurable grace.

The time hath come when, as a thank-offering for this bestowal, ye should grow in faith and constancy as day followeth day, and should draw ever nearer to the Lord, your God, becoming magnetized to such a degree, and so aflame, that your holy melodies in praise of the Beloved will reach upward to the Company on high; and that each one of you, even as a nightingale in this rose garden of God, will glorify the Lord of Hosts, and become the teacher of all who dwell on earth. (‘Abdu'l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu'l-Baha)

July 16, 2012

Tablet revealed by Baha’u’llah “on the Anniversary of the Birth [of the Báb] that thou mayest recite it in a spirit of humility and supplication and give thanks unto thy Lord …”

All praise be to Thee, O my God, inasmuch as Thou hast adorned the world with the splendour of the dawn following the night wherein was born the One Who heralded the Manifestation of Thy transcendent sovereignty, the Dayspring of Thy divine Essence and the Revelation of Thy supreme Lordship. I beseech Thee, O Creator of the heavens and Fashioner of names, to graciously aid those who have sheltered beneath the shadow of Thine abounding mercy and have raised their voices amidst the peoples of the world for the glorification of Thy Name.

O my God! Thou beholdest the Lord of all mankind confined in His Most Great Prison, calling aloud Thy Name, gazing upon Thy face, proclaiming that which hath enraptured the denizens of Thy kingdoms of revelation and of creation. O my God! I behold Mine own Self captive in the hands of Thy servants, yet the light of Thy sovereignty and the revelations of Thine invincible power shine resplendent from His face, enabling all to know of a certainty that Thou art God, and that there is none other God but Thee. Neither can the power of the powerful frustrate Thee, nor the ascendancy of the rulers prevail against Thee. Thou doest whatsoever Thou willest by virtue of Thy sovereignty which encompasseth all created things, and ordainest that which Thou pleasest through the potency of Thy behest which pervadeth the entire creation.

July 12, 2012

To immortalize one’s memory in God’s “glorious and exalted heaven”

Make thou every effort to render service unto God, that from thee may appear that which will immortalize thy memory in His glorious and exalted heaven.

Say: Glorified art Thou, O my God! I implore Thee by the Dawning-Place of Thy signs and by the Revealer of Thy clear tokens to grant that I may, under all conditions, hold fast the cord of Thy loving providence and cling tenaciously to the hem of Thy generosity. Reckon me then with those whom the changes and chances of the world have failed to deter from serving Thee and from bearing allegiance unto Thee, whom the onslaught of the people hath been powerless to hinder from magnifying Thy Name and celebrating Thy praise. Graciously assist me, O my Lord, to do whatever Thou lovest and desirest. Enable me then to fulfil that which will exalt Thy Name and will set ablaze the fire of Thy love. Thou art, in truth, the Forgiving, the Bountiful. (Baha’u’llah, Tablets of Baha’u’llah revealed after the Kitab-i-Aqdas)

July 9, 2012

1928: Haifa and Mount Carmel

Haifa and Mount Carmel 1928 (Star of the West, vol. 18, no. 11, February 1928)

July 7, 2012

“There are two ways of healing sickness, material means and spiritual means… Both means should be used and practiced.”

There are two ways of healing sickness, material means and spiritual means. The first is by the treatment of physicians; the second consisteth in prayers offered by the spiritual ones to God and in turning to Him. Both means should be used and practised.

Illnesses which occur by reason of physical causes should be treated by doctors with medical remedies; those which are due to spiritual causes disappear through spiritual means. Thus an illness caused by affliction, fear, nervous impressions, will be healed more effectively by spiritual rather than by physical treatment. Hence, both kinds of treatment should be followed; they are not contradictory. Therefore thou shouldst also accept physical remedies inasmuch as these too have come from the mercy and favour of God, Who hath revealed and made manifest medical science so that His servants may profit from this kind of treatment also. Thou shouldst give equal attention to spiritual treatments, for they produce marvellous effects.

Now, if thou wishest to know the true remedy which will heal man from all sickness and will give him the health of the divine kingdom, know that it is the precepts and teachings of God. Focus thine attention upon them. (‘Abdu'l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu'l-Baha)

July 5, 2012

A sample of contexts in which the phrase “Fear ye God” is used by Baha’u’llah

“Fear ye God, and be not of them that have denied Him.” [His Manifestation] (Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, p. 38)

“Fear ye God, and be not of the foolish.” (Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, p. 49)

“Fear ye God, and turn not away disdainfully from His Revelation.” (Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah, p. 38)

“Fear ye God, and be not of those who perish.” (Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah, p. 104)

“Fear ye God, and contend not with Him as the people of the Qur'án have contended with Me.” (Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah, p. 146)

“Fear ye God, and take heed not to outstrip the bounds of moderation, and be numbered among the extravagant.” (Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah, p. 250)

“Fear ye God, and withhold not yourselves from recognizing the One Who is the Object of your creation.” (Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah, p. 314)

June 20, 2012

Becoming “imbued with the spirit and truths of the Bahá'í Writings”

Your accomplishments have prepared the way for even more spectacular successes in the years immediately ahead. Now as never before should you strive mightily to free yourselves from the obstacles of apathy, attachment to worldly pursuits, and lethargy, which stand in the way of so glorious a realization. As the people around you yearn increasingly for a society in which rectitude of conduct prevails, which is animated by a nobility of moral behaviour, and in which the diverse races are firmly united, your challenge is to demonstrate the efficacy of the Message of Bahá'u'lláh in ministering to their needs and in recreating the very foundation of individual and social life. The whole of North America stands in desperate need of the inspiring vision, the dynamic sense of purpose and the idealism, which can be provided only by those who are imbued with the spirit and truths of the Bahá'í Writings. (The Universal House of Justice, Ridvan 153, 1996 - To the Followers of Bahá'u'lláh in North America: Alaska, Canada, Greenland and the United States)

To imbue: To inspire or influence thoroughly

June 18, 2012

Calligraphic arrangement of part of the opening sentence of the Will and Testament of 'Abdu'l-Baha

Calligraphic arrangement of part of the opening sentence of the Will and Testament of 'Abdu'l-Baha: 'All Praise to Him Who, by the Sheild of His Covenant, hath gaurded the Temple of His Cause'. (The Baha'i World 1976-1979)

June 16, 2012

The “human world will adapt itself to a new social form” as a result of the “manifestation of spiritual forces” brought forth by Baha’u’llah

Still today, can anyone claim to have glimpsed anything but an intimation, distant and indistinct, of the future society to which the Revelation of Baha'u'llah is destined to give rise? For let none suppose that the civilization towards which the divine teachings impel humankind will follow merely from adjustments to the present order. Far from it. In a talk delivered some days after He laid the cornerstone of the Mother Temple of the West, 'Abdu'l-Baha stated that "among the results of the manifestation of spiritual forces will be that the human world will adapt itself to a new social form," that "the justice of God will become manifest throughout human affairs". These, and countless other utterances of the Master to which the Baha'i community is turning time and again in this centennial period, raise awareness of the distance that separates society as it is now arranged from the stupendous vision His Father gifted to the world. (The Universal House of Justice, Ridvan 2012 message to the Baha’is of the world)

June 14, 2012

1989: The "Peace Chariot"

1989: The Baha'i Mobile Deepening Institute in the State of Uttar Pradesh, India, is drawn from village to village on a bullock cart. The Institute has become known as 'The Shati-Rath' (Peace Chariot). (Baha'i News, December 1989)

June 12, 2012

Baha’u’llah identifies “the highest and most laudable” virtues that each human being should strive for

• “trustworthiness,”
• “truthfulness,”
• “purity of heart while communing with God,”
• “forbearance,”
• “resignation to whatever the Almighty hath decreed,”
• “contentment with the things His Will hath provided,”
• “patience, nay, thankfulness in the midst of tribulation, and”
• “complete reliance, in all circumstances, upon Him[God]”

June 10, 2012

Evidences of “moral decadence, invading both the East and the West …”

Not only must irreligion and its monstrous offspring, the triple curse that oppresses the soul of mankind in this day, be held responsible for the ills which are so tragically besetting it, but other evils and vices, which are, for the most part, the direct consequences of the "weakening of the pillars of religion," must also be regarded as contributory factors to the manifold guilt of which individuals and nations stand convicted. The signs of moral downfall, consequent to the dethronement of religion and the enthronement of these usurping idols, are too numerous and too patent for even a superficial observer of the state of present-day society to fail to notice. The spread of lawlessness, of drunkenness, of gambling, and of crime; the inordinate love of pleasure, of riches, and other earthly vanities; the laxity in morals, revealing itself in the irresponsible attitude towards marriage, in the weakening of parental control, in the rising tide of divorce, in the deterioration in the standard of literature and of the press, and in the advocacy of theories that are the very negation of purity, of morality and chastity — these evidences of moral decadence, invading both the East and the West, permeating every stratum of society, and instilling their poison in its members of both sexes, young and old alike, blacken still further the scroll upon which are inscribed the manifold transgressions of an unrepentant humanity. (Shoghi Effendi, "The Promised Day is Come", The Compilation of Compilations, vol. I, Divorce)

June 7, 2012

A “dynamic coherence between the spiritual and practical requirements of life on earth” -- Mashriqu’l-Adhkar and its dependencies

The oneness of mankind, which is at once the operating principle and the ultimate goal of His Revelation, implies the achievement of a dynamic coherence between the spiritual and practical requirements of life on earth. The indispensability of this coherence is unmistakably illustrated in His ordination of the Mashriqu’l-Adhkar, the spiritual centre of every Baha’i community round which must flourish dependencies dedicated to the social, humanitarian, educational and scientific advancement of mankind. (The Universal House of Justice, ‘Letter to the Baha’is of the World,’ Haifa, Israel, October 20, 1983)

June 5, 2012

Baha’u’llah identifies “the king of all acts”

The first and foremost duty prescribed unto men, next to the recognition of Him Who is the Eternal Truth, is the duty of steadfastness in His Cause. Cleave thou unto it, and be of them whose minds are firmly fixed and grounded in God. No act, however meritorious, did or can ever compare unto it. It is the king of all acts, and to this thy Lord, the All-Highest, the Most Powerful, will testify.... (Baha'u'llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah)

June 2, 2012

Some praiseworthy qualities exhibited by Baha’i youth -- identified by the Universal House of Justice

  • zeal,
  • enthusiasm,
  • steadfastness,
  • devotion,
  • good character,
  • selfless service, and
  • determined effort
(Extracted from a message dated 9, 1968 from the Universal House of Justice to the “Baha’i Youth in every Land”; Messages from the Universal House of Justice, 1963-1986) (To read the entire message please visit Messages to the Baha'i World Community - by the Universal House of Justice)

May 31, 2012

International Deputization Fund can be used on national level

We announced at the Conference that the International Deputization Fund, so far used to aid pioneering and travel teaching on an international level, will henceforth be available to assist such projects on the national level in those areas where support is vitally important to the winning of the goals of the Nine Year Plan. (The Universal House of Justice, 8 September 1968 To the Bahá'ís of the world, Messages from the Universal House of Justice, 1963-1986, pp. 140-141)

May 29, 2012

Haifa 1928 -- Looking up Carmel Ave. toward the Shrine of the Bab

Haifa 1928: looking up Carmel Ave. toward the Shrine of the Bab. (Star of the West, vol. 19, no. 3, June 1928) 

May 27, 2012

In the Bahá'í Faith “marriage, and family life, in particular”, are viewed as “a social function of highest and indeed vital importance”

He has noted the question you had asked concerning the problem of marriage, and its infrequency among the believers in general. It is indeed a matter of deep regret to him that some of our young believers do not attach due importance to the question of marriage, and seem, as you state, to be under the impression that marital life has been discouraged in the Cause. This is certainly an erroneous conception, and whosoever takes the pain to carefully and intelligently read the words of Bahá'u'lláh, and to ponder over their implications, cannot but be convinced of the truth that in the Bahá'í Faith marriage, and family life, in particular, are both not only commendable, but constitute a social function of highest and indeed vital importance, as through them alone the human race is perpetuated.

The believers should well know that whereas Bahá'u'lláh has not made marriage a binding obligation, He has nevertheless attributed to it such spiritual and social significance as no individual believer, under normal circumstances, can well be justified in disregarding it. In fact, in His Book of Laws (the "Kitáb-i-Aqdas") He emphatically stresses its importance, and defines its essential purpose, namely the procreation of children and their training in the Religion of God, that they may know and adore Him, and mention and praise His Name. (From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, dated 17 February 1940; The Compilation of Compilations, vol. I, Preserving Baha’i Marriages)

May 25, 2012

How to “derive fresh inspiration and added sustenance” as we labor for the Cause

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 endeavor of each one of its loyal adherents. An exact and thorough comprehension of so vast a system, so sublime a revelation, so sacred a trust, is for obvious reasons beyond the reach and ken of our finite minds. We can, however, and it is our bounden duty to seek to derive fresh inspiration and added sustenance as we labor for the propagation of His Faith through a clearer apprehension of the truths it enshrines and the principles on which it is based. (Shoghi Effendi, ‘The Dispensation of Baha’u’llah)

May 23, 2012

How we can increase our “ability and capacity”

During thy supplications to God and thy reciting, “Thy Name is my healing," consider how thine heart is cheered, thy soul delighted by the spirit of the love of God, and thy mind attracted to the Kingdom of God! By these attractions one's ability and capacity increase. When the vessel is enlarged the water increases, and when the thirst grows the bounty of the cloud becomes agreeable to the taste of man. This is the mystery of supplication and the wisdom of stating one's wants. (‘Abdu’l-Baha, quoted by J.E. Esslemont in ‘Bahá'u'lláh and the New Era’; The Compilation of Compilations, Vol. II, The Importance of Prayer, Meditation and the Devotional Attitude)

May 20, 2012

Fifth Continental Indegenous Council, South Dakota, USA, August 1-5, 1988

Counsellors Jacqueline Delahunt (left) and Lauretta King congratulate Lakota hoop dancer Dallas Chief Eagle, who declared his belief in Baha'u'llah shortly after performing at the fifth Continental Indegenous Council which was held in South Dakota, USA, during August 1-5, 1988. 

May 18, 2012

Lua presented a petition to the Shah of Persia in 1902

Lua Getsinger (sitting) with Mariam Haney in Paris in 1902, when Lua presented a petition to the Shah of Persia pleading the cause of the persecuted Baha'is in that country.

May 16, 2012

The “most distinctive feature of the Bahá'í Dispensation” – the “twofold station ordained for the Báb by the Almighty”

There can be no doubt that the claim to the twofold station ordained for the Báb by the Almighty, a claim which He Himself has so boldly advanced, which Bahá'u'lláh has repeatedly affirmed, and to which the Will and Testament of 'Abdu'l-Bahá has finally given the sanction of its testimony, constitutes the most distinctive feature of the Bahá'í Dispensation. It is a further evidence of its uniqueness, a tremendous accession to the strength, to the mysterious power and authority with which this holy cycle has been invested. Indeed the greatness of the Báb consists primarily, not in His being the divinely-appointed Forerunner of so transcendent a Revelation, but rather in His having been invested with the powers inherent in the inaugurator of a separate religious Dispensation, and in His wielding, to a degree unrivaled by the Messengers gone before Him, the scepter of independent Prophethood. (Shoghi Effendi, ‘The Dispensation of Baha'u'llah)

May 14, 2012

Becoming aware of an amazing spiritual principle: how a small number of believers could have an “influence over all the earth”

One consecrated soul is preferable to a thousand other souls. If a small number of people gather lovingly together, with absolute purity and sanctity, with their hearts free of the world, experiencing the emotions of the Kingdom and the powerful magnetic forces of the Divine, and being at one in their happy fellowship, that gathering will exert its influence over all the earth. The nature of that band of people, the words they speak, the deeds they do, will unleash the bestowals of Heaven, and provide a foretaste of eternal bliss. The hosts of the Company on high will defend them, and the angels of the Abhá Paradise, in continuous succession, will come down to their aid. (‘Abdu’l-Baha, ‘Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu'l-Bahá’; compilation: ‘Baha’i Meetings’, prepared by the Research Department of the Universal House of Justice)

May 12, 2012

The Faith’s statement on nature

In September 1986 the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) launched its Network on Conservation and Religion, bringing religious leaders representing Buddhists, Christians, Hindus, Jews and Muslims together with environmental leaders in Assisi, Italy. Each of the five religions represented there issued a declaration on nature. In October 1987 the Baha’i’ Faith became the sixth major religion to join the new alliance, and put forward this statement in support of the Network’s goals.

“Nature in its essence is the embodiment of My Name, the Maker, the Creator. Its manifestations are diversified by varying causes, and in this diversity there are signs for men of discernment. Nature is God’s Will and is its expression in and through the contingent world. It is a dispensation of Providence ordained by the Ordainer, the All-Wise.”

With those words, Baha’u’llah, the Prophet-Founder of the Baha’i Faith, outlines the essential relationship between man and the environment: that the grandeur and diversity of the natural world are purposeful reflections of the majesty and bounty of God. For Baha’is, there follows an implicit understanding that nature is to be respected and protected, as a divine trust for which we are answerable.

May 11, 2012

The Shrine of the Bab on Mt. Carmel and a part of the beautiful terraced gardens, 1928

The Shrine of the Bab on Mt. Carmel and a part of the beautiful terraced gardens, 1928 (Star of the West, vol. 19, no. 3, June 1928)

May 10, 2012

Divine verses to recite 19 times daily when seeking God’s assistance to solve a personal problem

While Baha’u’llah was in Baghdad, in about 1861, the Governor was wrongfully dismissed from his position, placed under house-arrest and cut off from all association with anyone outside. A personal friend of the dismissed Governor (Vali) by the name 'Abdu'llah Pasha, found himself prevented from meeting him. As he too was threatened, he realized that he stood in great danger. He had no one to turn to but Bahá'u'lláh, Who received him graciously and kindly, advising him not to grieve. He instructed him on how to go about seeing the Vali. 'Go and tell the Vali from Us,' He told 'Abdu'llah Pasha, 'to put his trust wholly in God, and repeat every day, nineteen times, these two verses: "He who puts his trust in God, God will suffice him" and "He who fears God, God will send him relief."' This, the Vali did, and after three days the conditions in the Ottoman Capital changed drastically, and the Governor of Baghdad was returned to his position.

This Governor, Mustafa Nuri Pasha, who owed his rescue from disgrace to Bahá'u'lláh, remained firmly devoted to Him to the end of his life, although in Baghdad he had not been able to attain His presence. When Bahá'u'lláh reached Constantinople in 1863, Mustafa Nuri Pasha was also there. Ignoring all restraints, he had his respects conveyed to Bahá'u'lláh, Who sent the Most Great Branch and Aqay-i-Kalim to meet the Pasha. After that, Mustafa Nuri Pasha himself came several times, and his heart's desire was fulfilled. (Adapted from ‘Baha'u'llah -The King of Glory’, by Balyuzi)

May 7, 2012

‘Abdu’l-Baha explains that there is “a Universal Power” -- a “Director”, or a “Coordinator” – that directs and regulates “all the parts of this infinite creation”, “this endless universe”

It is obvious that all created things are connected one to another by a linkage complete and perfect, even, for example, as are the members of the human body. Note how all the members and component parts of the human body are connected one to another. In the same way, all the members of this endless universe are linked one to another. The foot and the step, for example, are connected to the ear and the eye; the eye must look ahead before the step is taken. The ear must hear before the eye will carefully observe. And whatever member of the human body is deficient, produceth a deficiency in the other members. The brain is connected with the heart and stomach, the lungs are connected with all the members. So is it with the other members of the body.

And each one of these members hath its own special function. The mind force -- whether we call it pre-existent or contingent -- doth direct and co-ordinate all the members of the human body, seeing to it that each part or member duly performeth its own special function. If, however, there be some interruption in the power of the mind, all the members will fail to carry out their essential functions, deficiencies will appear in the body and the functioning of its members, and the power will prove ineffective.

Likewise, look into this endless universe: a universal power inevitably existeth, which encompasseth all, directing and regulating all the parts of this infinite creation; and were it not for this Director, the Coordinator, the universe would be flawed and deficient. It would be even as a madman; whereas ye can see that this endless creation carrieth out its functions in perfect order, every separate part of it performing its own task with complete reliability, nor is there any flaw to be found in all its workings. Thus it is clear that a Universal Power existeth, directing and regulating this infinite universe. Every rational mind can grasp this fact. (‘Abdu’l-Baha,’Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá’; compilation ‘Nature’, prepared by the Research Department of the Universal House of Justice)

May 4, 2012

Toronto Daily Star, May 4, 1926, prints Queen Marie’s testimony concerning the Baha’i Faith

“It is a wondrous Message that Baha’u’llah and his son 'Abdu'l-Baha have given us. . . . It is Christ's Message taken up anew, in the same words almost, but adapted to the thousand years and more difference that lies between the year one and today. . . . I commend it to you all. If ever the name of Baha’u’llah or 'Abdu'l-Baha comes to your attention, do not put their writings from you. (Toronto Daily Star, May 4, 1926; quoted in ‘The Baha’i Faith, the Emerging World Religion’, by William Hatcher and Douglas Martin)

April 30, 2012

Interior view of the bath the Bab went to when a child

Interior view of the bath the Bab went to when a child (The Baha'i World 1934-1936)

April 23, 2012

The high ideals of Baha’i Administration

Its[Baha’i administration] high ideals are "to improve the characters of men; to extend the scope of knowledge; to abolish ignorance and prejudice; to strengthen the foundations of true religion in all hearts; to encourage self-reliance, and discourage false imitation; ... to uphold truthfulness, audacity, frankness, and courage; to promote craftsmanship and agriculture; ... to educate, on a compulsory basis, children of both sexes; to insist on integrity in business transactions; to lay stress on the observance of honesty and piety; ... to acquire mastery and skill in the modern sciences and arts, to promote the interests of the public; ... to obey outwardly and inwardly and with true loyalty the regulations enacted by state and government; ... to honour, to extol and to follow the example of those who have distinguished themselves in science and learning"....”to help the needy from every creed or sect, and to collaborate with the people of the country in all welfare services.” (‘Abdu’l-Baha, quoted by Shoghi Effendi in a letter dated 30 January 1926, to the Local Spiritual Assemblies of Iran, translated from the Persian; compilation ‘Agriculture and Rural Life’, prepared by the Research Department of the Universal House of Justice)

April 21, 2012

First Day of Ridván: while not revealing “the hidden secrets of that Day,” Baha’u’llah explains its significance to a degree that we can strive to comprehend

Arise, and proclaim unto the entire creation the tidings that He Who is the All-Merciful hath directed His steps towards the Ridvan and entered it. Guide, then, the people unto the garden of delight which God hath made the Throne of His Paradise. We have chosen thee to be our most mighty Trumpet, whose blast is to signalize the resurrection of all mankind.

Say: This is the Paradise on whose foliage the wine of utterance hath imprinted the testimony: "He that was hidden from the eyes of men is revealed, girded with sovereignty and power!" This is the Paradise, the rustling of whose leaves proclaims: "O ye that inhabit the heavens and the earth! There hath appeared what hath never previously appeared. He Who, from everlasting, had concealed His Face from the sight of creation is now come." From the whispering breeze that wafteth amidst its branches there cometh the cry: "He Who is the sovereign Lord of all is made manifest. The Kingdom is God's," while from its streaming waters can be heard the murmur: "All eyes are gladdened, for He Whom none hath beheld, Whose secret no one hath discovered, hath lifted the veil of glory, and uncovered the countenance of Beauty."

April 19, 2012

The Baha'i attitude towards ancient religions ...

The House of Justice feels that in discussion with ... you should not challenge this point, nor should you enter into criticisms of the often ruthless manner in which the followers of new religions have suppressed the old ways. It is suggested that, instead, you present the Bahá'í concepts, as expressed by 'Abdu'l-Bahá, namely that the fountainhead of all religions is to be found in God through the Teachings of His Prophets, and that all peoples have drunk at this ocean of divine Revelation; that sterile traditions and blind imitations accumulating over the centuries, exacerbated by the barriers of geography, have caused hatred and conflict where there should have been love and collaboration. These distortions have also given rise to the cruel and debased customs which are to be found in some religions. It is the Bahá'í belief that each human soul has the duty to God and the inborn capacity to seek out truth for himself. Those who do this sincerely will ultimately find themselves united, for there is only one God and Source of Truth. The Bahá'í attitude to earlier religions, therefore, is not that they are false or "heathen", but that, at root, they are all true and that these fundamental truths still persist within them. Bahá'ís encourage Indians in South America, for example, to see and reverence the profound spiritual truths which are to be found in both their pre-Christian religions and in the Catholicism which, in later centuries, has to varying degrees supplanted or overlaid their archaic faiths. Through the Bahá'í teachings, the inner conflict which many still feel between their ancient religions and Christianity is resolved and, at the same time, they are enabled to understand their spiritual unity with the peoples of other continents, such as Buddhists, Hindus and Muslims with whom they will undoubtedly come into contact with increasing frequency. (From a letter dated 22 March 1988, written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly; The Compilation of Compilations, vol. III, Cultural Diversity in the Age of Maturity)

April 17, 2012

Persia circa 1911: Some Western and Eastern Baha'is

Left to right standing: Elizabeth Stewart, N. Labib, founder of Children's Savings Bank co., Dr. Sarah Clock, Mirza F. A'zam, one of the directors of the Children's Savings Bank Co. Sitting, left to right: Lillian Kappers, preceptress Tarbiyat Girl's School, Dr. Susan Moody, Ghodsieh Ashraf, and two school children (Star of the West, vol. 17, no. 8, November 1926)

April 15, 2012

Difference between a Baha’i Center and a Haziratu’l-Quds

A Haziratu'l-Quds is a building or apartment owned by the Spiritual Assembly. If it is rented, it must be regarded as a Bahá'í Centre and not as a Haziratu'l-Quds. However, it will serve the purpose of this goal if your National Assembly will encourage Local Spiritual Assemblies in Iceland, as soon as they become sufficiently consolidated, to establish their own Centres, whether this be rented or be a room specially set aside in the home of a Bahá'í. Then, in due course, as a local community grows, it can work towards actually acquiring its own Haziratu'l-Quds which can, at first, be quite a simple property owned by the Assembly as its administrative headquarters and as the meeting place of the community for Nineteen Day Feasts etc. The time to take each of the successive steps from the initial phase of meeting in the friends' homes with occasional hiring of a hall, to renting a permanent Centre, and then to actually acquiring a Haziratu'l-Quds must be decided in the light of the needs and possibilities in each place, but the believers must always have before them the vision of the time when they will have a fully-fledged local Haziratu'l-Quds fulfilling at the local level those functions so graphically outlined for the National Haziratu'l-Quds by the beloved Guardian on page 339 of God Passes By. (From a letter dated 22 June 1981 written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Iceland; Compilation ‘Functions and Importance of the Haziratu'l-Quds’, prepared by the Research Department of the Universal House of Justice)

April 12, 2012

'The New Era Singers' in 1985

'The New Era Singers': a group of nine students and two teachers from the New Era Baha'i School in Panchgani, India, who during 1985 toured three cities in northern India -- New Delhi, Lucknow and Chandigarh. In addition to the proclamation tour, they recorded four songs for television in Lucknow and, by popular demand, recorded 14 songs on a cassette tape. The teachers are Amin Neshati (back row left) and Adrienne Stengel (middle row second from left). (Baha'i News, April 1986) 

April 10, 2012

'Abdu'l-Baha's First Talk in California: “The teachings of Baha’u’llah are …concerned with good conduct, and good conduct is the greatest effulgence of the All Glorious.”

October 3, 1912
Oakland, California
Address delivered at the home of Mrs. Helen S. Goodall
(Dr. Amin Farid, interpreter; Stenographic notes by Miss. Bijou Straun)

I am going to say, "Welcome," to you, instead of your welcoming me. I am most happy to be here with you. I am exceedingly joyous, and I offered thanks to His Holiness Baha’u’llah that the potency of His Word was instrumental in bringing about such a meeting.

In the world many people go from one country to another. Perchance they may go from here to the Orient; perchance some may come from the Orient here; but such journeys are for travel, or commercial purposes, or for some political reason, or the motive may be some scientific achievement or they go on journeys in order to meet friends. All such meetings are accidental; they are concerned with the exigencies of the world of nature.

But I have come from the Orient to the Occident -- this vast distance have I crossed with no commercial purpose in view, nor travel as an object, nor politics as a reason. It has been simply to meet you. Whereas the meeting of others is generally accidental, our meeting is real, essential -- for the hearts are connected and the souls are attracted and the spirits are exhilarated, and such a meeting is real in character, and great are the results therefrom. The results are everlasting.

Consider the bygone times. There occurred a meeting like this one -- that is to say, that meeting emanated from the attractions of the conscience. It was due to the spiritual bond. It was due to the fraternity of heaven. Regard the results which have later become concomitant! What lights have shone therefrom! What a new spirit has been breathed thereby!

Therefore, I beg of God that this meeting of ours may likewise be a spiritual meeting, may be a heavenly meeting, may be a cordial bond, may be of divine susceptibilities, may be a result of the breaths of the Holy Spirit. Thus, may its traces be everlasting, may its results be eternal, may it be an indissoluble bond and an association inseparable. May it be a love which shall be never ending. This is my hope, and you who have turned to the Kingdom of God, and you who are set aglow with the fire of the Love of God, must so earnestly endeavor that this meeting shall give forth eternal results.

And What will bring this about?

April 6, 2012

Baha’u’llah’s Administrative Order is “unique in the annals of the world's religious systems.”

The Administrative Order which this historic Document has established, it should be noted, is, by virtue of its origin and character, unique in the annals of the world's religious systems. No Prophet before Bahá'u'lláh, it can be confidently asserted, not even Muhammad Whose Book clearly lays down the laws and ordinances of the Islamic Dispensation, has established, authoritatively and in writing, anything comparable to the Administrative Order which the authorized Interpreter of Bahá'u'lláh's teachings has instituted, an Order which, by virtue of the administrative principles which its Author has formulated, the institutions He has established, and the right of interpretation with which He has invested its Guardian, must and will, in a manner unparalleled in any previous religion, safeguard from schism the Faith from which it has sprung. Nor is the principle governing its operation similar to that which underlies any system, whether theocratic or otherwise, which the minds of men have devised for the government of human institutions. Neither in theory nor in practice can the Administrative Order of the Faith of Bahá'u'lláh be said to conform to any type of democratic government, to any system of autocracy, to any purely aristocratic order, or to any of the various theocracies, whether Jewish, Christian or Islamic which mankind has witnessed in the past. It incorporates within its structure certain elements which are to be found in each of the three recognized forms of secular government, is devoid of the defects which each of them inherently possesses, and blends the salutary truths which each undoubtedly contains without vitiating in any way the integrity of the Divine verities on which it is essentially founded. (Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By, p. 326)

April 4, 2012

Preserving our “inherited cultural identities” and guarding “against two extremes”-- an explanation by the Universal House of Justice

Bahá'ís should obviously be encouraged to preserve their inherited cultural identities, as long as the activities involved do not contravene the principles of the Faith. The perpetuation of such cultural characteristics is an expression of unity in diversity. Although most of these festive celebrations have no doubt stemmed from religious rituals in bygone ages, the believers should not be deterred from participating in those in which, over the course of time, the religious meaning has given way to purely culturally oriented practices. For example, Naw-Rúz itself was originally a Zoroastrian religious festival, but gradually its Zoroastrian connotation has almost been forgotten. Iranians, even after their conversion to Islam, have been observing it as a national festival. Now Naw-Rúz has become a Bahá'í Holy Day and is being observed throughout the world, but, in addition to the Bahá'í observance, many Iranian Bahá'ís continue to carry out their past cultural traditions in connection with this Feast. Similarly, there are a number of national customs in every part of the world which have cultural rather than religious connotations.

March 31, 2012

‘Abdu’l-Baha explains what prevented the “inhabitants of America” from being “attracted to the Kingdom of God” prior to 1911

If the friends and the maid-servants of the Merciful long for the visit of 'Abdu'l-Baha, they must immediately remove from their midst differences of opinion and be engaged in the practice of infinite love and unity . . . If ye are yearning for my meeting, and if in reality ye are seeking my visit, ye must close the doors of difference and open the gates of affection, love and friendship . . .Verily, verily, I say unto you, were it not for this difference amongst you, the inhabitants of America. . . would have, by now, been attracted to the Kingdom of God . . . Is it meet that you sacrifice this most glorious Bounty for worthless imaginations? (‘Abdu’l-Baha, excerpt from a Tablet addressed to the American believers in 1911; ‘Abdu’l-Baha in Their Midst’, p. 6, by Earl Redman; Star of the West, vol.2, no. 4, May 17, 1911)

March 30, 2012

‘Abdu’l-Baha praises Americans …

On His return to New York from Washington in 1912, ‘Abdu’l-Baha said to a group of Baha’is:

The people of America are highly accomplished. They desire to acquire understanding and they wish to make progress. When one sees a tree growing, one should feel hopeful that it will give flowers and bring forth fruits. People asked questions and on hearing the answers they contended no more. Most of the ministers who came would express agreement. Those who asked us questions on important topics were delighted on hearing the answers. The religious leaders of other countries are not so inclined but are more bent on contention. We met very good ministers in Chicago. Some invited us to their churches and we had lengthy conversations with them. One of them, Dr Milburn, invited us to supper at his home. My purpose in mentioning all this is to convey that all showed agreement and acceptance. (Words of ‘Abdu’l-Baha, Mahmud’s Diary, p. 88)

March 29, 2012

The “structure of the physical world is like unto a single being whose limbs and members are inseparably linked together.”

As preordained by the Fountain-head of Creation, the temple of the world hath been fashioned after the image and likeness of the human body. In fact each mirroreth forth the image of the other, wert thou but to observe with discerning eyes. By this is meant that even as the human body in this world, which is outwardly composed of different limbs and organs, is in reality a closely integrated, coherent entity, similarly the structure of the physical world is like unto a single being whose limbs and members are inseparably linked together.

Were one to observe with an eye that discovereth the realities of all things, it would become clear that the greatest relationship that bindeth the world of being together lieth in the range of created things themselves, and that co-operation, mutual aid and reciprocity are essential characteristics in the unified body of the world of being, inasmuch as all created things are closely related together and each is influenced by the other or deriveth benefit therefrom, either directly or indirectly.

March 28, 2012

‘Abdu’l-Baha explains what the American believers had to do before He would come for a visit

Now the friends and the maidservants in America have written innumerable letters and all of them are pleading that ‘Abdu'l-Baha make a trip to that country. Their supplications and entreaties are insistent. In view of the difference among the friends and the lack of unity among the maidservants of the Merciful, how can ‘Abdu’l-Baha hasten to those parts? Is this possible? No, by God!

If the friends and the maidservants of the Merciful long for the visit of ‘Abdu'l-Baha, they must immediately remove from their midst differences of opinion and be engaged in the practice of infinite love and unity. No Baha’i must open his lips in blaming another one, he must regard backbiting as the greatest sin of humanity, for it is clearly revealed in all the Tablets of Baha’u’llah that backbiting and faultfinding are the fiendish instruments and suggestions of Satan and the destroyers of the foundation of man. A believer will not blame any soul among the strangers, how much less against the friends. Faultfinding and backbiting are the characteristics of the weak minds and not the friends. Self exaltation is the attribute of the stranger and not of the Beloved. It is our hope that the believers and the maid servants of the Merciful in America may become the cause of the union of the East and the West, and unfurl the Standard of the Oneness of the Realm of Humanity. Now, we observe that strangeness, lack of unity and the utmost difference exists among the friends and the maid servants of the Merciful. Under such a condition, how can they arise to guide the people of the world and establish union and harmony between the nations of the earth? His Highness Christ, addressing His disciples, said: ''Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt bath lost its savour, wherewith shall it be salted?''

March 27, 2012

Hand of the Cause John Robarts and Counsellors

The Hand of the Cause of God John Robarts (third from right) is shown with Counsellors for the Americas who attended a Counsellor/Auxiliary Board members Conference in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, 1985. The Counsellors are (left to right) Lloyd Gardner, Dr. Farzam Arbab, Agnus Cowan, Lauretta King and Dr. Peter Khan, a Counsellor member of the International Teaching Center in Haifa. (Baha'i News, February 1985)

March 26, 2012

Impact of the Master's visit to the West -- extrapolating what would have happen ...

How foolish are the people of the East to have incarcerated for well nigh fifty years the like of this glorious Personage! But for His chains and prison, Bahá'u'lláh by this time would have gained absolute ascendancy over the minds and thoughts of the peoples of Europe, would have made of Persia the Garden of Paradise, would have raised its sons in the esteem of mankind, nay He would have made it such that all peoples and governments would seek enlightenment from its people.

Consider and reflect upon the result of My few days stay in London and the profound effect it has had here and in the surrounding regions. Ponder then in your heart, what the coming of Bahá'u'lláh would have achieved! Had He appeared in Europe, its people would have seized their opportunity and His Cause, by virtue of the freedom of thought, would by this time have encompassed the earth. But alas! This Cause, though it first appeared in Persia, yet eventually it shall be seen how the peoples of Europe have wrested it from its hands! Take note of this and remember it in future. Ultimately you shall see how it has come to pass. And yet behold! how the Bahá'ís are still persecuted by the people of Persia! (‘Abdu’l-Baha, enclosed with a letter dated 12 January 1923 written by Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada; Compilation on ‘Europe’, prepared by the Research Department of the Universal House of Justice, published in Baha'i Studies Review, 1.1, Association for Baha'i Studies of English-Speaking Europe, 1991)

March 24, 2012

When serving the Faith: how we can avoid becoming “irritated by one another” – Advice from ‘Abdu’l-Baha

Therefore, you must gird up your loins with unswerving determination, you must be united among yourselves and you must not be irritated by one another. Your eyes must be turned always to the kingdom of God and not to the world of man. You must love His creation for His sake and not for your own. When you love one another for the sake of God you shall never be perturbed. No human being is perfect, every person has some flaw. If you look to your fellowman you will always be upset; but if you look to God it shall not be so, because the world of God is a world of perfection and endless mercy; therefore, you will love and show kindness to all for His sake. You must not look to the faults of others; you must look with the eye of forgiveness and pardon. The eye that regards faults sees nothing but faults and the eye that overlooks faults is fixed on the Creator of the souls. It is He Who has created all, has nurtured all, has endowed all with life and spirit and has given to all eyes and ears. Thus all are the signs of His power and for His sake we must love all, and show kindness to all, assist the poor, render help to the weak, heal the sick and educate the ignorant. (Parting words of ‘Abdu’l-Baha to Baha’is of Chicago, May 5, 1912; Mahmud’s Diary. P. 81)