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)

March 23, 2012

Elijah's Cave on Mount Carmel -- circa 1930

Couryard of Elijah's Cave. The rooms above were used by both Baha'u'llah and 'Abdu'l-Baha (Star of the West, vol. 21, no. 6, August 1930)

The interior of Elijah's Cave

March 22, 2012

Assignment for parents -- from ‘Abdu’l-Baha

According to Christ you are the children of the Kingdom and according to Bahá'u'lláh, the candles of the world of man, for your hearts are in the utmost purity and your spirits are sanctified. You are not soiled with the things of this world. Your hearts are pure and clean like the mirror. Your parents must bring you up with great kindness and must educate you in morals and praiseworthy attributes so that the virtues of the world of man may be exemplified perfectly in your characters and conduct, that you may progress in all fields of endeavor, may acquire knowledge of the arts and sciences, and may become the cause of the manifestation of eternal bounties and universal advancement. (Words of ‘Abdu’l-Baha to Chicago Baha’i children, May 5, 1912; Mahmud’s Diary, p. 80)

March 21, 2012

How one should view the significance of the Master’s visit to the West

‘Abdu’l-Baha's historic journeys to the West, and in particular His eight month tour of the United States of America, may be said to have marked the culmination of His ministry, a ministry whose untold blessings and stupendous achievements only future generations can adequately estimate. As the daystar of Baha'u'llah's Revelation had shone forth in its meridian splendor at the hour of the proclamation of His Message to the rulers of the earth in the city of Adrianople, so did the Orb of His Covenant mount its zenith and shed its brightest rays when He [Abdu’l-Baha] Who was its appointed Center arose to blazon the glory and greatness of His Father's Faith among the peoples of the West. (Shoghi Effendi God Passes By)

March 20, 2012

The acceptance of one’s fast is dependent on God

Since Thou hast adorned them, O my Lord, with the ornament of the fast prescribed by Thee, do Thou adorn them also with the ornament of Thine acceptance, through Thy grace and bountiful favor. For the doings of men are all dependent upon Thy good-pleasure, and are conditioned by Thy behest. Shouldst Thou regard him who hath broken the fast as one who hath observed it, such a man would be reckoned among them who from eternity had been keeping the fast. And shouldst Thou decree that he who hath observed the fast hath broken it, that person would be numbered with such as have caused the Robe of Thy Revelation to be stained with dust, and been far removed from the crystal waters of this living Fountain. (Baha'u'llah, 'Prayers and Meditations by Baha'u'llah')

March 19, 2012

The “most mysterious of the signs of God amongst men”

As to thy question concerning the worlds of God. Know thou of a truth that the worlds of God are countless in their number, and infinite in their range. None can reckon or comprehend them except God, the All-Knowing, the All-Wise. Consider thy state when asleep. Verily, I say, this phenomenon is the most mysterious of the signs of God amongst men, were they to ponder it in their hearts. Behold how the thing which thou hast seen in thy dream is, after a considerable lapse of time, fully realized. Had the world in which thou didst find thyself in thy dream been identical with the world in which thou livest, it would have been necessary for the event occurring in that dream to have transpired in this world at the very moment of its occurrence. Were it so, you yourself would have borne witness unto it. This being not the case, however, it must necessarily follow that the world in which thou livest is different and apart from that which thou hast experienced in thy dream. This latter world hath neither beginning nor end. It would be true if thou wert to contend that this same world is, as decreed by the All-Glorious and Almighty God, within thy proper self and is wrapped up within thee. It would equally be true to maintain that thy spirit, having transcended the limitations of sleep and having stripped itself of all earthly attachment, hath, by the act of God, been made to traverse a realm which lieth hidden in the innermost reality of this world. Verily I say, the creation of God embraceth worlds besides this world, and creatures apart from these creatures. In each of these worlds He hath ordained things which none can search except Himself, the All-Searching, the All-Wise. Do thou meditate on that which We have revealed unto thee, that thou mayest discover the purpose of God, thy Lord, and the Lord of all worlds. In these words the mysteries of Divine Wisdom have been treasured. We have refrained from dwelling upon this theme owing to the sorrow that hath encompassed Us from the actions of them that have been created through Our words, if ye be of them that will hearken unto Our Voice. (Baha'u'llah, ‘Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah’)

March 16, 2012

“This is the day in which only pure and chaste hearts can derive benefit from the eternal bounties and only pious souls can receive light from the ever-existent splendors.”

I am going, but you must rise up to serve the Cause of God. Endeavor to keep your hearts sanctified and your intentions pure so that you may attract divine bounties. Remember, although the sun shines equally on all things, yet in the mirror its effulgence is intense, and not in the dark stone. The cause of this intensity and heat in the glass is its purity; without purity and cleanliness, these effects would never appear in it. Similarly, if rain fall on barren land, it produces nothing, but if it fall on pure fertile land, it makes it verdant and causes it to yield a harvest. This is the day in which only pure and chaste hearts can derive benefit from the eternal bounties and only pious souls can receive light from the ever-existent splendors. (‘Abdu’l-Baha’s departing words to the Baha’is in Chicago, May 5, 1912; Mahmud’s Diary, p. 80)

March 15, 2012

1932: The Esperantists of Tomakomai, Hokkaido, Japan, welcome Agnes Alexander

Photograph taken at the welcome meeting by the Esperantists of Tomakomai, Hokkaido, Japan to Miss Agnes Alexander, August 3, 1922. Front row, from left, is Tadashi Watanabe, the promoter of the meeting, and third from left is the Mayor. (Star of the West, November 1932, vol. 23, no. 8)

March 14, 2012

Mahmud’s Diary: “a reliable account of 'Abdu'l-Baha's travels in the West and an authentic record of His utterances, whether in the form of formal talks, table talks or random oral statements.”

 . . . [the Universal House of Justice] attaches great importance to this work which, as you may know, is regarded as a reliable account of 'Abdu'l-Baha's travels in the West and an authentic record of His utterances, whether in the form of formal talks, table talks or random oral statements. Mirza Mahmud was a careful and faithful chronicler and engaged in assembling and publishing his work with the permission of the beloved Master, as he states in the Introduction. Indeed, Shoghi Effendi drew upon it for details about the Master's visit to the West in writing God Passes By . . . (The Universal House of Justice, letter dated April 30, 1984 to the  National Spiritual Assembly of the United States; Mahmud’s Diary, p. viii)

March 11, 2012

Original home of Tahirih in Qazvin, Persia

Original home of Tahirih in Qazvin, Persia, where she was born and lived (The Baha'i World 1932-1934)

March 9, 2012

The Guardian explains the meaning of the title of one of Baha’u’llah’s Writings: The Hidden Words

With regard to your question concerning the meaning of the name "Hidden Words": It is, indeed, one of the most suggestive titles of the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh. These words are called "hidden" due to the fact that men have had neither the knowledge nor a true sense of appreciation of them before they were revealed by Bahá'u'lláh. It is through Him, Who is the sole Mouthpiece of God in this age, that spiritual realities and truths have been once more reinterpreted and revealed afresh to mankind. Bahá'u'lláh's message is thus the only key to a true understanding of the mysteries that envelop man's spiritual life. (From a letter dated 1 September 1935 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer; Compilation ‘Hidden Words: References of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá and Shoghi Effendi’, prepared by the Research Department of the Universal House of Justice)

Baha’u’llah’s advice for people who are “excused from fasting”

QUESTION: Concerning observance of the Fast by people engaged in hard labour during the month of fasting.

ANSWER: Such people are excused from fasting; however, in order to show respect to the law of God and for the exalted station of the Fast, it is most commendable and fitting to eat with frugality and in private. (Baha'u'llah, Questions and Answers, The Kitab-i-Aqdas)

March 8, 2012

circa 1927: The Mosque at Haifa where 'Abdu'l-Baha frequently worshipped

Hussein Rabbani, Jean Bolles and Emogene Hoagg in the courtyard of the Mosque in Haifa where 'Abdu'l-Baha frequently worshipped (Star of the West, vol. 6, no. 6, August 1927)

March 7, 2012

A Prayer for Parents …

I beg Thy forgiveness, O my God, and implore pardon after the manner Thou wishest Thy servants to direct themselves to Thee. I beg of Thee to wash away our sins as befitteth Thy Lordship, and to forgive me, my parents, and those who in Thy estimation have entered the abode of Thy love in a manner which is worthy of Thy transcendent sovereignty and well beseemeth the glory of Thy celestial power.

O my God! Thou hast inspired my soul to offer its supplication to Thee, and but for Thee, I would not call upon Thee. Lauded and glorified art Thou; I yield Thee praise inasmuch as Thou didst reveal Thyself unto me, and I beg Thee to forgive me, since I have fallen short in my duty to know Thee and have failed to walk in the path of Thy love. (The Báb, Selections from the Writings of the Báb; Baha'i Prayers)

March 6, 2012

Prayer for breaking the Fast

Praise be unto Thee, O Lord my God! We have observed the Fast in conformity with Thy bidding and break it now through Thy love and Thy good-pleasure. Deign to accept, O my God, the deeds that we have performed in Thy path wholly for the sake of Thy beauty with our faces set towards Thy Cause, free from aught else but Thee. Bestow, then, Thy forgiveness upon us, upon our forefathers, and upon all such as have believed in Thee and in Thy mighty signs in this most great, this most glorious Revelation. Potent art Thou to do what Thou choosest. Thou art, verily, the Most Exalted, the Almighty, the Unconstrained. (Baha’u’llah, Compilation on ‘The Importance of Obligatory Prayer and Fasting’, prepared by Research Department of the Universal House of Justice)

March 4, 2012

Spiritual qualities needed for “harmonious co-operation among the friends”

I need not tell you how grievously he deplores the fact that there are so many negative forces prevailing in Bahá'í gatherings and particularly in such an important meeting as the Convention. The oft-repeated words of the Master concerning unity and harmonious co-operation among the friends should be carefully and thoughtfully remembered now more than ever. Nothing is more contrary to the spirit of the Cause than discord and strife, which are the inevitable outcome of selfishness and greed. Pure detachment and selfless service, these should be the sole motives of every true believer. And unless each and every one of the friends succeeds in translating such qualities into living action, no hope of further progress can be entertained. It is now that unity of thought and action is most needed. It is now, when the Cause s entering a new phase of development, when its Administration is being gradually consolidated amid the welter and chaos of a tottering civilization, that the friends should present a united front to those forces of internal dissension, which, if not completely wiped out, will bring our work to inevitable destruction. (From a letter dated 24 September 1933 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer; The Compilation of Compilations, vol. II, Living the Life)

March 3, 2012

Baha’u’llah elucidates on the station of the Báb – it's amazing!

Magnify Thou, O Lord my God, Him Who is the Primal Point, the Divine Mystery, the Unseen Essence, the Day-Spring of Divinity, and the Manifestation of Thy Lordship, through Whom all the knowledge of the past and all the knowledge of the future were made plain, through Whom the pearls of Thy hidden wisdom were uncovered, and the mystery of Thy treasured name disclosed, Whom Thou hast appointed as the Announcer of the One through Whose name the letter B and the letter E have been joined and united, through Whom Thy majesty, Thy sovereignty and Thy might were made known, through Whom Thy words have been sent down, and Thy laws set forth with clearness, and Thy signs spread abroad, and Thy Word established, through Whom the hearts of Thy chosen ones were laid bare, and all that were in the heavens and all that were on the earth were gathered together, Whom Thou hast called Ali-Muhammad in the kingdom of Thy names, and the Spirit of Spirits in the Tablets of Thine irrevocable decree, Whom Thou hast invested with Thine own title, unto Whose name all other names have, at Thy bidding and through the power of Thy might, been made to return, and in Whom Thou hast caused all Thine attributes and titles to attain their final consummation. To Him also belong such names as lay hid within Thy stainless tabernacles, in Thine invisible world and Thy sanctified cities. (Baha'u'llah, excerpt from a prayer for the Fast, ‘Prayers and Meditations by Baha'u'llah’)