January 30, 2012

The 1983 graduating class of the Rabbani Baha'i School in India

The 1983 graduating class of 21 students at the Rabbani Baha'i School in Gwalior, India. (Baha'i News June 1983)

January 28, 2012

Participation in Bahá'í elections is “a spiritual obligation”

The aim should always be so to educate the friends during the year that they consider their participation in Bahá'í elections not only as a right they exercise, but as a spiritual obligation which, when discharged in the proper Bahá'í spirit, contributes to the health and growth of the Bahá'í community. (The Universal House of Justice, from a memorandum dated 18 June 1980 to the International Teaching Centre; The Compilation of Compilation, Vol. III, Sanctity and Nature of Baha’i Elections)

January 27, 2012

Historic worldwide travels of Hand of the Cause Ruhiyyih Khanum

Perhaps it can be stated that Ruhiyyih Khanum’s world travels for the Faith started with her appointment as a Hand of the Cause. She attended the Intercontinental Teaching Conference in Chicago-Wilmette, Illinois, April-May 1953 as Shoghi Effendi's representative. After the Guardian’s passing, she fulfilled his wish by acting as his representative in attending the second Intercontinental Conference in Kampala, Uganda, in January 1958.

A year after Shoghi Effendi's passing she supervised the construction of the monument at his grave in the New Southgate Cemetery, London. During this period she began to attend a series of meetings as representative of the World Centre of the Faith: conference of European Hands of the Cause, Copenhagen, 1959; conventions of United States and Canada, 1960; dedication of Baha'i Houses of Worship, Kampala, in January and Sydney, Australia, in September 1961. She toured centers in Uganda, Kenya, and Tanganyika, in January-February 1961, and centers in Australia, Malaya, Indonesia, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, and Burma, in September-October 1961. She attended the European Hands of the Cause conference in Luxembourg, December 1962.

January 23, 2012

Baha’u’llah identifies the “attributes” that “constitute the hall-mark of the spiritually minded” individual

... O my brother, when a true seeker determineth to take the step of search in the path leading to the knowledge of the Ancient of Days, he must, before all else, cleanse and purify his heart, which is the seat of the revelation of the inner mysteries of God, from the obscuring dust of all acquired knowledge, and the allusions of the embodiments of satanic fancy. He must purge his breast, which is the sanctuary of the abiding love of the Beloved, of every defilement, and sanctify his soul from all that pertaineth to water and clay, from all shadowy and ephemeral attachments. He must so cleanse his heart that no remnant of either love or hate may linger therein, lest that love blindly incline him to error, or that hate repel him away from the truth. Even as thou dost witness in this day how most of the people, because of such love and hate, are bereft of the immortal Face, have strayed far from the Embodiments of the divine mysteries, and, shepherdless, are roaming through the wilderness of oblivion and error. That seeker must at all times put his trust in God, must renounce the peoples of the earth, detach himself from the world of dust, and cleave unto Him Who is the Lord of Lords. He must never seek to exalt himself above any one, must wash away from the tablet of his heart every trace of pride and vainglory, must cling unto patience and resignation, observe silence, and refrain from idle talk. For the tongue is a smouldering fire, and excess of speech a deadly poison. Material fire consumeth the body, whereas the fire of the tongue devoureth both heart and soul. The force of the former lasteth but for a time, whilst the effects of the latter endure a century.

January 22, 2012

1898: 'Abdu'l-Baha's House in 'Akka

'Abdu'l-Baha's House in 'Akka: where in 1898 He received the first pilgrims from the West -- Lua and Edward Getsinger. Photo by Effie Baker (1925). (Star of the West, vol.16, no. 5, August 1925) (Please visit Baha'i Talks, Messages and Articles for a very interesting explanation of the significance of this House)

January 19, 2012

How we should view the role of meditation and prayer in our spiritual growth and development

… the core of religious faith is that mystic feeling that unites man with God. This state of spiritual communion can be brought about and maintained by means of meditation and prayer. And this is the reason why Bahá'u'lláh has so much stressed the importance of worship. It is not sufficient for a believer to merely accept and observe the teachings. He should, in addition, cultivate the sense of spirituality, which he can acquire chiefly by the means of prayer. The Bahá'í Faith, like all other Divine religions, is thus fundamentally mystic in character. Its chief goal is the development of the individual and society, through the acquisition of spiritual virtues and powers. It is the soul of man that has first to be fed. And this spiritual nourishment prayer can best provide. Laws and institutions, as viewed by Bahá'u'lláh, can become really effective only when our inner spiritual life has been perfected and transformed. Otherwise religion will degenerate into a mere organization, and become a dead thing. (From a letter dated 8 December 1935 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, published in "Bahá'í News" 102 (August 1936), p. 3; The Compilation of Compilations, Vol. II, The Importance of Prayer, Meditation and the Devotional Attitude)

January 14, 2012

Qualities by which a Baha’i community should be distinguished

Wherever a Bahá'í community exists, whether large or small, let it be distinguished for its abiding sense of security and faith, its high standard of rectitude, its complete freedom from all forms of prejudice, the spirit of love among its members and for the closely knit fabric of its social life. (The Universal House of Justice, message to the friends attending the First Bahá'í Oceanic Conference in Palermo, Sicily, August 1968) (To read the entire message please visit Messages to the Baha'i World Community -- by the Universal House of Justice)

January 9, 2012

1924: The northern flower gardens around the Shrine of Baha'u'llah at Bahji, Akka

The northern flower gardens around the Shrine of Baha'u'llah at Bahji, Akka, 1924 (Star of the West, vol. 18, no. 7, October 1927)

January 8, 2012

Baha’u’llah brings to our attention an amazing point concerning “obligatory prayer and fasting”

Be not neglectful of obligatory prayer and fasting. He who faileth to observe them hath not been nor will ever be acceptable in the sight of God. Follow ye wisdom under all conditions. He, verily, hath bidden all to observe that which hath been and will be of profit to them. He, in truth, is the All-Sufficing, the Most High. (Baha’u’llah, Compilation on ‘The Importance of Obligatory Prayer and Fasting’, prepared by Research Department of the Universal House of Justice)

January 7, 2012

The time when the harmony of science and religion will become manifest in society -- Mashriqu'l-Adhkar and its accessories

When these institutions, college, hospital, hospice and establishments for the incurables, university for the study of higher sciences and advanced educational courses, and various philanthropic buildings are built, the doors will be open to all the nations and all religions. There will be drawn absolutely no line of demarcation. Its charities will be dispensed irrespective of color and race. Its gates will be flung wide to mankind; prejudice toward none, love for all. The central building will be devoted to the purposes of prayer and worship. Thus for the first time religion will become harmonized with science and science will be the handmaid of religion, both showering their material and spiritual gifts on all humanity. (Written by ‘Abdu’l-Baha, quoted in ‘The Christian Register’ of Boston, Mass.; Star of the West, Vol. 13, No. 10, January 1923; Star of the West, Vol.21, No. 1, 1930)

January 2, 2012

The incredibly audacious Zaynab ...

Artist's depiction of the peasant girl Zaynab, who disguised herself as a boy to join in the defense of the Babi community in Zanjan, Persia, and died in the seige. (The Baha'i World 1994-1995)

January 1, 2012

View at Akka from barracks, 1927

View at Akka from barracks, 1927, showing Carmel and Haifa in the distance (Star of the West, vol.18, no.9, December 1927)