May 28, 2014

Hand of the Cause Dr. Varqa shortly before his passing in 2007

Hand of the Cause Dr. Varqa (sitting at the center) with members of the Universal House of Justice, 2007

May 27, 2014

Some of the principles that Baha’is “espouse and live by” – principles “which are the means for the rehabilitation of every society”

…the sanctity of human dignity; the oneness of humankind irrespective of tribe, race, or belief; the equality of men and women; freedom from prejudice; commitment to knowledge and learning; the abolition of extremes of wealth and poverty; the containment of greed; the harmony of faith and reason… 
(The Universal House of Justice, from a message to the Baha’is of Iran, 13 May 2014)

May 25, 2014

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 Shield of His Covenant, hath guarded the Temple of His Cause.' (The Baha'i World 1976-1979)

May 18, 2014

The “bonds of love and of service’ between the wife and husband “can be truly and strongly maintained” through children

The new child which will soon be given to you by God is, indeed, a divine blessing, of which you should feel proud, and of the manifold responsibilities and obligations which it necessarily entails you should become fully aware. It is now that you can truly say that you have a family life. Without a child there can be no family, and through him the bonds of love and of service can be truly and strongly maintained between the wife and husband. 
(From a letter dated 4 November 1933 written on behalf of the Guardian; Compilation on “The Naming of Babies”, prepared by the Research Department of the Universal House of Justice)

May 14, 2014

Socrates and Hippocrates: both had journeyed to Palestine and Syria – ‘Abdu’l-Baha explains

O thou handmaid of God! It is recorded in eastern histories that Socrates journeyed to Palestine and Syria and there, from men learned in the things of God, acquired certain spiritual truths; that when he returned to Greece, he promulgated two beliefs: one, the unity of God, and the other, the immortality of the soul after its separation from the body; that these concepts, so foreign to their thought, raised a great commotion among the Greeks, until in the end they gave him poison and killed him.

And this is authentic; for the Greeks believed in many gods, and Socrates established the fact that God is one, which obviously was in conflict with Greek beliefs.

The Founder of monotheism was Abraham; it is to Him that this concept can be traced, and the belief was current among the Children of Israel, even in the days of Socrates.

The above, however, cannot be found in the Jewish histories; there are many facts which are not included in Jewish history. Not all the events of the life of Christ are set forth in the history of Josephus, a Jew, although it was he who wrote the history of the times of Christ. One may not, therefore, refuse to believe in events of Christ’s day on the grounds that they are not to be found in the history of Josephus.

Eastern histories also state that Hippocrates sojourned for a long time in the town of Tyre, and this is a city in Syria. 
(‘Abdu’l-Baha, ‘Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Baha’)

May 11, 2014

Sources of “guidance and inspiration”

Surely, the believers, no matter how qualified they may be, whether as teachers or administrators, and however high their intellectual and spiritual merits, should never be looked upon as the standard whereby to evaluate and measure the divine authority and mission of the Faith. It is to the Teachings themselves, and to the lives of the Founders of the Cause that the believers should look for their guidance and inspiration, and only by keeping strictly to such a true attitude can they hope to establish their loyalty to Bahá'u'lláh upon an enduring and unassailable basis. 
(From a letter dated 23 August 1939 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer; included in a compilation on ‘Issues Concerning Community Functioning’, prepared by the Research Department of the Universal House of Justice’, February 1993; also in Compilation of Compilations, vol. 3)

May 9, 2014

Most Great Spirit and Holy Spirit and their relations to Baha’u’llah – an explanation by the Research Department of the Universal House of Justice

Mr. ... makes reference to Mr. Taherzadeh's "The Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh", vol. IV, (Oxford: George Ronald, 1987), pp. 133-134, where mention is made of the fact that the Most Great Spirit "animated and sustained" Bahá'u'lláh. In light of this section, he enquires about the difference between the Holy Spirit and the Most Great Spirit.

The Research Department has, to date, not been able to locate a comprehensive definition of the term "Most Great Spirit" in the Writings or the letters of Shoghi Effendi. The discussion in Mr. Taherzadeh's book appears to be based, on part, on an extract from the Súriy-i-Haykal which states:

The Holy Spirit Itself hath been generated through the agency of a single letter revealed by this Most Great Spirit, if ye be of them that comprehend. (As translated and cited by Shoghi Effendi in "The World Order of Bahá'u'lláh: Selected Letters", p. 109)

Shoghi Effendi has provided an interpretation of this extract in a letter dated 23 July 1936 written on his behalf to an individual believer in response to a series of questions about the relationship between the Holy Spirit and Bahá'u'lláh and His relationship to the other Manifestations of God. The letter states:

May 8, 2014

“The progressive clarification of the details of the laws concerning membership of the Houses of Justice”

The progressive clarification of the details of the laws concerning membership of the Houses of Justice has been accompanied by a gradual implementation of their provisions. For example, based on the texts available to the believers at the time, membership of local Houses of Justice was initially confined to men. When the Master began to elaborate on the difference between the levels of this Institution, He clarified that the exclusion of women applied only to the Universal House of Justice. Thereafter, women became eligible for service as members of Local and National Spiritual Assemblies. Women in the West, who already enjoyed the benefits of education and opportunities for social involvement, participated in this form of service much sooner than, for instance, their Bahá'í sisters in Iran who were accorded this right only in 1954, "removing thereby the last remaining obstacle to the enjoyment of complete equality of rights in the conduct of the administrative affairs of the Persian Bahá'í Community". It is important to note that the timing of the introduction of the provisions called for by the interpretations of 'Abdu'l Baha and the Guardian in relation to the Local and National Spiritual Assemblies, rather than constituting a response to some external condition or pressure, was dictated by the principle of progressive implementation of the laws, as enjoined by Bahá'u'lláh Himself. 
(The Universal House of Justice, from a letter dated 31 May 1988)

May 5, 2014

Prayer for Guidance (provisional translation)

O my God!

Thou seest me detached from everything save Thee and clinging to Thee. Guide me then in my doings in a manner which profiteth me for the glory of Thy Cause and the loftiness of the state of Thy servants.

A memorandum dated 6 August 1997 from the Research Department of the Universal House of Justice indicates that:

“No authorized translation of this prayer has been issued. A provisional translation of this prayer was provided a few years ago for a member of the Bahá'í World Centre staff, who was told that he could share it with friends and that it could be used pending the publication of an authorized translation…

This prayer was revealed by the Blessed Beauty for Jináb-i-Samandar [Shaykh Kázim Samandar], the father of the Hand of the Cause of God Tarázu'lláh Samandarí, to assist him in making a difficult decision. The prayer was to be recited nineteen times, followed by meditation on the problem, the formulation of a solution, and the implementation of the conceived solution.”

May 2, 2014

Serving the Cause “no matter what our occupation is”

We can all serve in the Cause of God no matter what our occupation is. No occupation can prevent the soul coming to God. Peter was a fisherman, yet he accomplished most wonderful things; but the heart must be turned always toward God, no matter what the work is; this is the important thing; and then the power of God will work in us. We are like a piece of iron in the midst of the fire which becomes heated to such a degree that it partakes of the nature of the fire and gives out the same effect to all it touches -- so is the soul that is always turned towards God, and filled with the spirit. 
(‘Abdu’l-Baha’s remarks to a group of pilgrims, 1899; ‘An Early Pilgrimage’, by May Maxwell)