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.