December 31, 2015

Traditional Colombian dance during the presentation of the unveiling of the temple's design

Traditional Colombian dance during the presentation of the unveiling of the temple's design on September 14, 2014, at a meeting held at the site of its construction in the small community of Agua Azul. 
(The American Baha'i, November-December 2014)

December 29, 2015

December 2015: Gathering of the Counsellors at the Baha'i World Center

Members of the Continental Boards of Counsellors pictured here with members of the Universal House of Justice and the International Teaching Centre, December 29, 2015 (Baha’i World News Service)

December 17, 2015

“collective worship of God”: An activity “essential to the spiritual life of the community”

...the flourishing of the community, especially at the local level, demands a significant enhancement in patterns of behaviour: those patterns by which the collective expression of the virtues of the individual members and the functioning of the Spiritual Assembly are manifest in the unity and fellowship of the community and the dynamism of its activity and growth. This calls for the integration of the component elements—adults, youth and children—in spiritual, social, educational and administrative activities; and their engagement in local plans of teaching and development... It involves the practice of collective worship of God. Hence, it is essential to the spiritual life of the community that the friends hold regular devotional meetings in local Bahá'í centres, where available, or elsewhere, including the homes of believers.
- The Universal House of Justice (Ridvan 1996 message; compilation: ‘Selected Guidance Concerning Devotional Gatherings’, prepared by the research department of the Universal House of Justice, 2001)

December 16, 2015

Need “to ensure that the vision of the community fully embraces its younger members”

Strategies to advance the process of entry by troops cannot ignore children and junior youth, if the victories won in one generation are not to be lost with the passage of time. It is imperative, then, that at this point in the process of systematization of the teaching work, definite steps be taken to ensure that the vision of the community fully embraces its younger members. The education of children, an obligation enjoined on both parents and institutions, requires special emphasis so as to become thoroughly integrated into the process of community development. This activity should be taken to new levels of intensity during these twelve months and then be further raised in the years immediately after. That the programmes of most institutes in the world provide for the training of children's class teachers represents an element of strength. Spiritual Assemblies and Auxiliary Board members will need to mobilize these newly trained human resources to meet the spiritual requirements of children and junior youth. 
- The Universal House of Justice  (From a message dated 26 November 1999 addressed to the Baha’is of the World)

December 13, 2015

Youth: Need to have their “intellectual as well as spiritual side equally developed”

The future of this Cause, which is so dear to us all, depends upon the energy and devotion of the rising generation. It is you who before will be called to shoulder its responsibilities and undertake its spread. To do that, however, you ought to be well equipped. You ought to have your intellectual as well as spiritual side equally developed. 
- Shoghi Effendi  (From a letter dated December 28, 1925, written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the Baha’i Youth Baltimore, Maryland, USA; The Compilation of Compilations, vol. II, Youth)

December 10, 2015

“…self-love is kneaded into the very clay of man…” – What can motivate man “to turn aside from his own selfish advantages”?

Sincerity is the foundation-stone of faith. That is, a religious individual must disregard his personal desires and seek in whatever way he can wholeheartedly to serve the public interest; and it is impossible for a human being to turn aside from his own selfish advantages and sacrifice his own good for the good of the community except through true religious faith. For self-love is kneaded into the very clay of man, and it is not possible that, without any hope of a substantial reward, he should neglect his own present material good. That individual, however, who puts his faith in God and believes in the words of God—because he is promised and certain of a plentiful reward in the next life, and because worldly benefits as compared to the abiding joy and glory of future planes of existence are nothing to him—will for the sake of God abandon his own peace and profit and will freely consecrate his heart and soul to the common good. 
- ‘Abdu’l-Baha  (‘The Secret of Divine Civilization’)

December 2, 2015

Examples of passages from the Qur’an containing “the highest levels and innermost meanings of civilization” and “excellencies of human character” – summarized by ‘Abdu’l-Baha

  • “And they enjoin what is just, and forbid what is unjust, and speed on in good works. These are of the righteous.” [Qur’án 3:110]
  • “that there may be among you a people who invite to the good, and enjoin the just, and forbid the wrong. These are they with whom it shall be well.” [Qur’án 3:100]
  • “Verily, God enjoineth justice and the doing of good ... and He forbiddeth wickedness and oppression. He warneth you that haply ye may be mindful.” [Qur’án 16:92]
  • “Make due allowances; and enjoin what is just, and withdraw from the ignorant.” [Qur’án 7:198]
  • “...who master their anger, and forgive others! God loveth the doers of good.” [Qur’án 3:128]
  • “There is no righteousness in turning your faces toward the East or the West, but he is righteous who believeth in God, and the last day, and the angels, and the Scriptures, and the Prophets; who for the love of God disburseth his wealth to his kindred, and to orphans, and the needy and the wayfarer, and those who ask, and for ransom; who observeth prayer, and payeth the legal alms, and who is of those who perform their covenant when they have covenanted, and are patient under ills and hardships, and in time of trouble: these are they who are just, and these are they who fear the Lord.” [Qur’án 2:172]
  • “They prefer them before themselves, though poverty be their own lot.” [Qur’án 59:9]
- ‘Abdu’l-Baha  (‘The Secret of Divine Civilization’)

November 29, 2015

The beginnings of European civilization and the influence of Islam – an explanation by ‘Abdu’l-Baha

The beginnings of European civilization date from the seventh century of the Muslim era. The particulars were these: toward the end of the fifth century of the hegira, the Pope or Head of Christendom set up a great hue and cry over the fact that places sacred to the Christians, such as Jerusalem, Bethlehem and Nazareth, had fallen under Muslim rule, and he stirred up the kings and the commoners of Europe to undertake what he considered a holy war. His impassioned outcry waxed so loud that all the countries of Europe responded, and crusading kings at the head of innumerable hosts passed over the Sea of Marmara and made their way to the continent of Asia. In those days the Fátimid caliphs ruled over Egypt and some countries of the West, and most of the time the kings of Syria, that is the Saljúqs, were subject to them as well. Briefly, the kings of the West with their unnumbered armies fell upon Syria and Egypt, and there was continuous warfare between the Syrian rulers and those of Europe for a period of two hundred and three years. Reinforcements were always coming in from Europe, and time and time again the Western rulers stormed and took over every castle in Syria, and as often, the kings of Islám delivered them out of their hands. Finally Saladin, in the year 693 A.H., drove the European kings and their armies out of Egypt and off the Syrian coast. Hopelessly beaten, they went back to Europe. In the course of these wars of the Crusades, millions of human beings perished. To sum up, from 490 A.H. until 693, kings, commanders and other European leaders continually came and went between Egypt, Syria and the West, and when in the end they all returned home, they introduced into Europe whatever they had observed over two hundred and odd years in Muslim countries as to government, social development and learning, colleges, schools and the refinements of living. The civilization of Europe dates from that time. 
- ‘Abdu’l-Baha  (‘The Secret of Divine Civilization’)

November 22, 2015

circa 1936: Reconstructed House of Baha'u'llah's father in Takur

Exterior views of the reconstructed House of Baha'u'llah's father in Takur, Mazindaran, Iran, circa 1936 (The Baha'i World 1936-1938)

November 19, 2015

“Man has two powers”

Man has two powers; and his development, two aspects. One power is connected with the material world, and by it he is capable of material advancement. The other power is spiritual, and through its development his inner, potential nature is awakened. These powers are like two wings. Both must be developed, for flight is impossible with one wing. Praise be to God! Material advancement has been evident in the world, but there is need of spiritual advancement in like proportion. We must strive unceasingly and without rest to accomplish the development of the spiritual nature in man, and endeavor with tireless energy to advance humanity toward the nobility of its true and intended station. For the body of man is accidental; it is of no importance. The time of its disintegration will inevitably come. But the spirit of man is essential and, therefore, eternal. It is a divine bounty. It is the effulgence of the Sun of Reality and, therefore, of greater importance than the physical body. 
- ‘Abdu’l-Baha  (From a talk, 25 April, 1912, Washington, D.C.; ‘The Promulgation of Universal Peace: Talks Delivered by 'Abdu'l-Bahá during His Visit to the United States and Canada in 1912’)

November 16, 2015

Under what conditions the “divine bounties do not descend” upon a gathering of believers

… the affinity and love manifest in this meeting, the divine susceptibilities witnessed here are not of this world but of the world of the Kingdom. When the souls become separated and selfish, the divine bounties do not descend, and the lights of the Supreme Concourse are no longer reflected even though the bodies meet together. A mirror with its back turned to the sun has no power to reflect the sun's effulgence.
- ‘Abdu’l-Baha  (From talk at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Howard MacNutt, 12 April, 1912, New York; ‘The Promulgation of Universal Peace: Talks Delivered by 'Abdu'l-Bahá during His Visit to the United States and Canada in 1912’)

November 15, 2015

Can Baha’is take part in demonstrations? -- Guidance from the Universal House of Justice

As to the question of taking part in demonstrations, individual Bahá’ís in every country are, in principle, free to participate in efforts and activities, for instance in peaceful rallies, that aim to further laudable objectives such as the advancement of women, the promotion of social justice, the protection of the environment, the elimination of all forms of discrimination, and the safeguarding of human rights. However, should such activities begin to deviate from their original purpose and assume a partisan character or degenerate into violence, they must of course be avoided. 
- The Universal House of Justice  (From a letter dated 22 January 2010 written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer)

November 13, 2015

The administrative institutions of the Faith “serve as a means for channelling the energies of the believers”

The administrative institutions of the Faith are intended to serve as a means for channelling the energies of the believers and organizing the religious and social affairs of the Bahá’í community. 
- The Universal House of Justice  (From a letter dated 22 January 2010 written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer)

November 5, 2015

‘Abdu’l-Bahá elaborates on the significance of the 12 Central States, the Heart of America

These twelve Central States [1] of the United States are like unto the heart of America, and the heart is connected with all the organs and parts of man. If the heart is strengthened, all the organs of the body are reinforced, and if the heart is weak all the physical elements are subjected to feebleness.

Now praise be to God that Chicago and its environs from the beginning of the diffusion of the fragrances of God have been a strong heart. Therefore, through divine bounty and providence it has become confirmed in certain great matters.

First: The call of the Kingdom was in the very beginning raised from Chicago. This is indeed a great privilege, for in future centuries and cycles, it will be as an axis around which the honor of Chicago will revolve.

Second: A number of souls with the utmost firmness and steadfastness arose in that blessed spot in the promotion of the Word of God and even to the present moment, having purified and sanctified the heart from every thought, they are occupied with the promulgation of the teachings of God. Hence the call of praise is raised uninterruptedly from the Supreme Concourse.

November 2, 2015

The inscription on the ring to be placed on the finger of the deceased

“I came forth from God, and return unto Him, detached from all save Him, holding fast to His Name, the Merciful, the Compassionate.” 
- Baha’u’llah  (‘The Kitab-i-Aqdas’)

October 28, 2015

We are called upon to “vigorously engage in constructive public discourse”

While eschewing partisan political activity, Bahá’ís are to vigorously engage in constructive public discourse and in a wide range of social endeavours aimed at the betterment of the world and the progress of their respective nations. They undertake such activities with humility, discernment and respect for prevailing laws and social conditions, in a spirit of learning and in collaboration with like-minded groups and individuals, fully confident in the power inherent in the principle of unity in diversity and in the efficacy of mutual aid and cooperation. 
- The Universal House of Justice  (From a letter dated 22 January 2010 written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer)

October 26, 2015

Four questions and subsequent answers by ‘Abdu’l-Baha – translated by Munírih Khánum

Questions, sent by Professor Cairns, Edinburgh, 24 June 1910:

1. Is it right to speak of the Báb and of Centre as Manifestations, or as Incarnations?
2. Do the Bahá'ís teach the doctrine of reincarnation?
3. Did Bahá'u'lláh claim to supersede the Revelation of Jesus, the Christ?
4. Did Centre claim to be greater than Jesus, the Christ?

Answers of 'Abdu'l-Bahá (the servant of God), Haifa, 20 July 1910:

O daughter of the Kingdom!

Your letter has arrived. Its contents caused spiritual happiness and heartfelt gladness.

I wish to answer in detail, but at present my health is not very strong; I am fatigued, so am obliged to write in short.  When I feel better, I will write at length, for verily, you are occupied with the work of the Kingdom and are serving the world of Humanity, and therefore are worthy of correspondence.

Now I will write shortly.

October 25, 2015

Mbale, Uganda: Baha'is celebrate International Women's Day, 2000

Baha'is in Mbale, Uganda, in a parade celebrating International Women's Day, 2000 (The Baha'i World 2000-2001)

October 23, 2015

In the Baha’i community “the participation of every believer is of the utmost importance, and is a source of power and vitality as yet unknown to us.”

"Regard the world as the human body," wrote Bahá'u'lláh to Queen Victoria. We can surely regard the Bahá'í world, the army of God, in the same way. In the human body, every cell, every organ, every nerve has its part to play. When all do so the body is healthy, vigorous, radiant, ready for every call made upon it. No cell, however humble, lives apart from the body, whether in serving it or receiving from it. This is true of the body of mankind in which God "hast endowed each and all with talents and faculties," and is supremely true of the body of the Bahá'í World Community, for this body is already an organism, united in its aspirations, unified in its methods, seeking assistance and confirmation from the same Source, and illumined with the conscious knowledge of its unity. Therefore, in this organic, divinely guided, blessed and illumined body the participation of every believer is of the utmost importance, and is a source of power and vitality as yet unknown to us. For extensive and deep as has been the sharing in the glorious work of the Cause, who would claim that every single believer has succeeded in finding his or her fullest satisfaction in the life of the Cause? The Bahá'í World Community, growing like a healthy new body, develops new cells, new organs, new functions and powers as it presses on to its maturity, when every soul, living for the Cause of God, will receive from that Cause, health, assurance and the overflowing bounties of Bahá'u'lláh which are diffused through His divinely ordained order. 
- The Universal House of Justice  (From a message dated September 1964 to the Baha’is of the World; ‘Messages from the Universal House of Justice 1963 to 1986’)

October 20, 2015

The “training institute process” versus the “many deepening classes, workshops and summer school courses”

…the House of Justice feels that it would be beneficial for you to separate in your mind the training institute process, so intimately connected with the promotion of large-scale expansion and consolidation, from the many deepening classes, workshops and summer school courses that form a fundamental part of Bahá’í community life. Their number and diversity actually seem to be on the rise as a result of the institute process. Indeed, you will be reassured to know that, as the believers gain confidence in their capacity to serve through the institute process, a much richer expression of the diverse talents of the friends is beginning to appear in the Bahá’í world—a richness that bodes well for the future progress of the Cause. 
- The Universal House of Justice  (From a letter dated 26 June 2002 written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer)

October 18, 2015

The “teachings and instructions of Baha'u'llah” – summarized by ‘Abdu’l-Baha

Thou hast inquired regarding the teachings and instructions of Baha'u'llah! Thou must instruct the people of the world in the Love of God, that they may eradicate the foundation of warfare and strife, be attracted by the Glad-tidings of the kingdom of Abha, lay the basis of love and amity, raise the melody of affinity, and the oneness of the Kingdom of humanity; transmute tyranny and persecution into love and faithfulness, efface the traces of bloodshed and carnage; construct the edifice of reconciliation, dispel the darkness of estrangement, diffuse the light of unity; change the poison of animosity into the honey of sympathetic affection; destroy the religious, national and social prejudices from the individuals of humanity; live and act, with and toward each other as though they were from one race, one country, one religion, and one kind. 
- 'Abdu'l-Baha  (From a Tablet, Star of the West, vol. 2, no. 6, June 24, 1911)

October 16, 2015

“two defining processes that unfolded during the twentieth century”

We are pleased to inform you that a Persian translation of "Century of Light", entitled "Qarn-i-Anvár", has been published at the request of the Universal House of Justice. As you kmow, this document, primarily a resource for Bahá'í study and deepening, provides a perspective on two defining processes that unfolded during the twentieth century: on the one hand, the sequence of events that made the unification of humanity the feature of modem history and, on the other, the emergence from obscurity of the Cause of God and its Administrative Order. The House of Justice is delighted that this book, rendered in Persian, will now be accessible to the Persian-speaking friends.  
- The Universal House of Justice  (From a letter dated 28 April 2002 written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to all National Spiritual Assemblies)

October 14, 2015

Seat of the Universal House of Justice

Seat of the Universal House of Justice - level of the Council Chamber with life-size portrait of 'Abdu'l-Baha on anteroom wall just outside the chamber.

October 12, 2015

“avoiding the tendency to divide the believers into categories such as deepened and uninformed.” – we are all “treading a common path of service”

Passivity is bred by the forces of society today. A desire to be entertained is nurtured from childhood, with increasing efficiency, cultivating generations willing to be led by whoever proves skilful at appealing to superficial emotions. Even in many educational systems students are treated as though they were receptacles designed to receive information. That the Bahá’í world has succeeded in developing a culture which promotes a way of thinking, studying, and acting, in which all consider themselves as treading a common path of service—supporting one another and advancing together, respectful of the knowledge that each one possesses at any given moment and avoiding the tendency to divide the believers into categories such as deepened and uninformed—is an accomplishment of enormous proportions. And therein lie the dynamics of an irrepressible movement. 
- The Universal House of Justice  (Ridvan 2010)

October 10, 2015

An astounding principle in the universe: "every created thing" is "endowed" by God with a unique "capacity"

God in His bounty has endowed every created thing, however humble, "with the capacity to exercise a particular influence, and been made to possess a distinct virtue."[1] 
- The Universal House of Justice  (From a letter dated 14 March 1985 written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer; ‘Messages from the Universal House of Justice 1963-1986’)
[1] Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah

October 8, 2015

Local Spiritual Assembly is “a channel of God's grace not only for the Bahá'ís but for the entire village, town or city in which it serves.”

First all Native American Local Spiritual 
Assembly Omaha Nation 
Macy Nebraska 1948
The development of the local community and the functioning of the Local Spiritual Assembly have been ongoing challenges to the Bahá'í world through successive Plans. At present, a few thousand Local Spiritual Assemblies have attained at least a basic level of functioning. National and regional plans will clearly have to include provision for the adoption by such Assemblies of local plans of expansion and consolidation. To ensure that local plans contribute to the advancement of the process of entry by troops, you will need to call upon your Auxiliary Board members and their assistants to work closely with these Assemblies, both in the formulation of plans and in their execution, helping them to shoulder the responsibility of systematic growth in their own communities and in localities adopted as extension goals. The community must become imbued with a sense of mission and the Assembly grow in awareness of its role as a channel of God's grace not only for the Bahá'ís but for the entire village, town or city in which it serves. 
- The Universal House of Justice  (From a message addressed to the Conference of the Continental Boards of Counsellors, December 26, 1995)

October 7, 2015

How to deal with anger - - Guidance from the Universal House of Justice

You ask how to deal with anger. The House of Justice suggests that you call to mind the admonitions found in our Writings on the need to overlook the shortcomings of others; to forgive and conceal their misdeeds, not to expose their bad qualities, but to search for and affirm their praiseworthy ones, and to endeavour to be always forbearing, patient, and merciful. Such passages as the following extracts from letters written on behalf of the beloved Guardian will be helpful:

There are qualities in everyone which we can appreciate and admire, and for which we can love them; and perhaps, if you determine to think only of these qualities which your husband possesses, this will help to improve the situation… You should turn your thoughts away from the things which upset you, and constantly pray to Bahá'u'lláh to help you. Then you will find how that pure love, enkindled by God, which burns in the soul when we read and study the Teachings, will warm and heal, more than anything else. Each of us is responsible for one life only, and that is our own. Each of us is immeasurably far from being perfect as our heavenly father is perfect" and the task of perfecting our own life and character is one that requires all our attention, our will-power and energy... 
- The Universal House of Justice (From a letter dated 17 July 1979 written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer; The Compilation of Compilations, vol. I, Preserving Baha’i Marriages)

October 5, 2015

Expanding our appreciation of what constitutes a deepening activity -- those in which “study and service are joined and carried out concurrently”

To read the writings of the Faith and to strive to obtain a more adequate understanding of the significance of Bahá’u’lláh’s stupendous Revelation are obligations laid on every one of His followers. All are enjoined to delve into the ocean of His Revelation and to partake, in keeping with their capacities and inclinations, of the pearls of wisdom that lie therein. In this light, local deepening classes, winter and summer schools, and specially arranged gatherings in which individual believers knowledgeable in the writings were able to share with others insights into specific subjects emerged naturally as prominent features of Bahá’í life. Just as the habit of daily reading will remain an integral part of Bahá’í identity, so will these forms of study continue to hold a place in the collective life of the community. But understanding the implications of the Revelation, both in terms of individual growth and social progress, increases manifold when study and service are joined and carried out concurrently. There, in the field of service, knowledge is tested, questions arise out of practice, and new levels of understanding are achieved. In the system of distance education that has now been established in country after country—the principal elements of which include the study circle, the tutor and the curriculum of the Ruhi Institute—the worldwide Bahá’í community has acquired the capacity to enable thousands, nay millions, to study the writings in small groups with the explicit purpose of translating the Bahá’í teachings into reality, carrying the work of the Faith forward into its next stage: sustained large-scale expansion and consolidation. 
- The Universal House of Justice  (Ridvan 2010)

October 4, 2015

A dance about equality of the sexes - by Malaysian Baha'i youth

Baha'i youth in Malaysia perform a dance about equality of the sexes as part of a presentation for "Wanita 2000" in Kuala Lumpur in August 2000. 
(The Baha'i World 2000-2001)

October 2, 2015

The “demarcation line between the shadow and the light” -- “the inner reality of man”

…the inner reality of man is a demarcation line between the shadow and the light, a place where the two seas meet; [1] it is the lowest point on the arc of descent, and therefore is it capable of gaining all the grades above. With education it can achieve all excellence; devoid of education it will stay on, at the lowest point of imperfection. 
- ‘Abdu’l-Baha  (‘Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá’)
[1] Qur'án 25:55, 35:13, 55:19-25

October 1, 2015

Wisdom of encountering dire difficulties in the path of God

How numerous the souls raised to life who were exposed to dire humiliation in Thy Path for exalting Thy Word and for glorifying Thy divine Unity! How profuse the blood that hath been shed for the sake of Thy Faith to vindicate the authenticity of Thy divine Mission and to celebrate Thy praise! How vast the possessions that were wrongfully seized in the Path of Thy love in order to affirm the loftiness of Thy sanctity and to extol Thy glorious Name! How many the feet that have trodden upon the dust in order to magnify Thy holy Word and to extol Thy glory! How innumerable the voices that were raised in lamentation, the hearts that were struck with terror, the grievous woes that none other than Thee can reckon, and the adversities and afflictions that remain inscrutable to anyone except Thyself; all this to establish, O my God, the loftiness of Thy sanctity and to demonstrate the transcendent character of Thy glory.

These decrees were ordained by Thee so that all created things might bear witness that they have been brought into being for the sake of naught else but Thee. Thou hast withheld from them the things that bring tranquillity to their hearts, that they might know of a certainty that whatever is associated with Thy holy Being is far superior to and exalted above aught else that would satisfy them; inasmuch as Thine indomitable power pervadeth all things, and nothing can ever frustrate it.

Indeed Thou hast caused these momentous happenings to come to pass that those who are endued with perception may readily recognize that they were ordained by Thee to demonstrate the loftiness of Thy divine Unity and to affirm the exaltation of Thy sanctity. 
- The Báb  (Selections from the Writings of the Báb)

September 30, 2015

Prayer Christ said while on the cross

O My beloved Lord, how long wilt Thou abandon Me to them? Lift Me up unto Thee, shelter Me close to Thee, make Me a dwelling by Thy throne of glory. Verily art Thou the Answerer of prayers, and Thou art the Clement, the Merciful. O My Lord! Verily this world with all its vastness can no longer contain Me, and I love this cross, out of love for Thy beauty, and yearning for Thy realm on high, and because of this fire, fanned by the gusts of Thy holiness, aflame within My heart. Help me, O Lord, to ascend unto Thee, sustain Me that I may reach unto Thy sacred Threshold, O My loving Lord! Verily Thou art the Merciful, the Possessor of great bounty! Verily Thou art the Generous! Verily Thou art the Compassionate! Verily Thou art the All-Knowing! There is none other God save Thee, the Mighty, the Powerful!' 
- Jesus Christ  (Quoted by ‘Abdu’l-Baha in 'Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu'l-Baha')

September 28, 2015

The “object of life to a Baha'i is to promote the oneness of mankind”

The object of life to a Baha'i is to promote the oneness of mankind; Our aim is to produce a world civilization which in turn will react on the character of the individual.
- Shoghi Effendi (Remarks by Shoghi Effendi, recorded by Ruhiyyih Khanum, ‘The Priceless Pearl’)

Ruhiyyih Khanum:
I remember in the  course of a conversation Shoghi Effendi had with a former teacher  of his at the American University in Beirut, how beautifully he  answered this man's question as to what was the purpose of life to a Bahá'í. The Guardian answered that the object of life to a Bahá'í was to promote the oneness of mankind. He then went on to point out that Bahá'u'lláh had appeared at a time when His Message could and should be directed to the whole world and not merely to individuals; that salvation today was through world salvation, world change, world reform of society and that the world civilization resulting from this would in turn reflect upon the individuals composing it and lead to their redemption and reformation.

Over and over Shoghi Effendi made it clear in his writings and talks that the two processes must go on together -- reform of society, reform of personal character. There was never any doubt that individual regeneration, as he wrote to a non-Bahá'í in 1926, was the "sure and enduring foundation on which a reconstructed society" would develop and prosper. But how could one create a pattern for future  society, even a tiny embryo of the future World Commonwealth of Bahá'u'lláh, if all around its fringes it was still interwoven with the fabric of that society which was dying out, must die out, to make way for the new? 
- Ruhiyyih Khanum  (‘The Guardian of the Baha'i Faith’)  

September 26, 2015

January 2001: The new International Teaching Centre, Haifa, Israel

Members of the Universal House of Justice, The International Teaching Centre, the Continental Boards of Counsellors, and the Auxiliary Boards, assembled in front of the new International Teaching Centre Building, January 2001 (The Baha'i World 2000-2001)

September 23, 2015

How to create a “culture” in which “teaching is the dominating passion of the lives of the believers”

When training and encouragement are effective, a culture of growth is nourished in which the believers see their duty to teach as a natural consequence of having accepted Baha'u'llah. They "raise high the sacred torch of faith," as was 'Abdu'l-Baha's wish, "labour ceaselessly, by day and by night," and "consecrate every fleeting moment of their lives to the diffusion of the divine fragrance and the exaltation of God's holy Word." So enkindled do their hearts become with the fire of the love of God that whoever approaches them feels its warmth. They strive to be channels of the spirit, pure of heart, selfless and humble, possessing certitude and the courage that stems from reliance on God. In such a culture, teaching is the dominating passion of the lives of the believers. Fear of failure finds no place. Mutual support, commitment to learning, and appreciation of diversity of action are the prevailing norms. 
- The Universal House of Justice  (From a message dated January 9, 2001, addressed to the Continental Boards of Counsellors)

September 22, 2015

What qualities must one gain through tests to be considered a “chosen one” or “first fruit”?

In this day everyone must be tested, as the time of the ''chosen ones" to prove their worth is indeed very short. The day of attainment is drawing to a close for them. The "first fruits" must be ripened in spirit, mellowed in love, and consumed by their self-sacrifice and severance. None other are acceptable as first fruits, and all who fail to attain to the standard through the tests, are relegated to the "many who are called." 
- 'Abdu'l-Baha  (Words of ‘Abdu'l-Baha in answer to questions asked by Dr. Edward C. Getsinger during a few brief meetings at Haifa, January 26 to February 5, 1915, and recorded by Dr. Getsinger at the time; Star of the West, vol. 6, no. 6, June 24, 1915)

September 20, 2015

'Abdu'l-Baha explains what to do when: “one is in the right in a case in dispute, and his minority prevents him from establishing this rightful matter”

Blessed are they who are the means of making unity among the friends, and pity on those who in the right or wrong are the cause of discord. For instance: When one is in the right in a case in dispute, and his minority prevents him from establishing this rightful matter, instead of agitating the subject, if he will humbly submit to sacrifice his position for the sake of unity and peace, God will accept that sacrifice and ere long the rightful matter will be established without any farther dispute, by the Divine assistance; whereas without such sacrifice and submissiveness great harm might ensue. 
- 'Abdu'l-Baha  (Words of Abdu'l-Baha in answer to questions asked by Dr. Edward C. Getsinger during a few brief meetings at Haifa, January 26 to February 5, 1915, and recorded by Dr. Getsinger at the time; Star of the West, vol. 6, no. 6, June 24, 1915)

September 18, 2015

The mystical reality of the Manifestation of God

Magnified be Thy name, O Lord my God! I know not what the water is with which Thou hast created me, or what the fire Thou hast kindled within me, or the clay wherewith Thou hast kneaded me. The restlessness of every sea hath been stilled, but not the restlessness of this Ocean which moveth at the bidding of the winds of Thy will. The flame of every fire hath been extinguished except the Flame which the hands of Thine omnipotence have kindled, and whose radiance Thou hast, by the power of Thy name, shed abroad before all that are in Thy heaven and all that are on Thy earth. As the tribulations deepen, it waxeth hotter and hotter.

Behold, then, O my God, how Thy Light hath been compassed with the onrushing winds of Thy decree, how the tempests that blow and beat upon it from every side have added to its brightness and increased its splendor. For all this let Thee be praised. 
- Baha’u’llah  (‘Prayers and Meditations by Baha’u’llah’)

September 15, 2015

Human “mind… has no place, although it is connected with the brain.”

Where then can one find in man this mind that resides in him and whose existence is beyond doubt? Were you to examine the human body with the eye, the ear, or the other senses, you would fail to find it, even though it clearly exists. The mind, therefore, has no place, although it is connected with the brain. 
- ‘Abdu’l-Baha  (Table talks in Akka, authenticated by ‘Abdu’l-Baha; ‘Some Answered Questions’ – 2014 revised translation by the Baha’i World Center)

September 12, 2015

Conduct of the believers in meetings

The believers of God must assemble and associate with each other in the utmost love, joy and fragrance. They must conduct themselves (in the meetings) with the greatest dignity and consideration, chant divine verses, peruse instructive articles, read the Tablets of 'Abdu'l-Baha, encourage and inspire each other with love for the whole human race, invoke God with perfect joy and fragrance, read the verses of glorification and praises of the Self-Subsistent Lord and deliver eloquent speeches. 
- 'Abdu'l-Baha  (From a Tablet; Star of the West, vol. 2, no. 6, June 24, 1911)

September 8, 2015

The Universal House of Justice explains the "continual aim" of these Baha'i institutions - the summer schools, training institutes, Nineteen Day Feasts and the National Conventions

The continual aim of the institutions of the Bahá’í community—whether it be through the operation of summer schools and training institutes, through the development of the Nineteen Day Feasts and National Conventions, or through day-to-day interaction among the friends—is to empower the individual believers so that they will learn how to live their lives with increasing knowledge, wisdom, unity and fruitfulness in conformity with the Teachings of Bahá’u’lláh. 
- The Universal House of Justice  (From a letter dated 18 July 2000 written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer)

September 3, 2015

A “significant enhancement in patterns of behavior” is needed at “the local level” – The Universal House of Justice explains

...the flourishing of the community, especially at the local level, demands a significant enhancement in patterns of behaviour: those patterns by which the collective expression of the virtues of the individual members and the functioning of the Spiritual Assembly are manifest in the unity and fellowship of the community and the dynamism of its activity and growth. This calls for the integration of the component elements—adults, youth and children—in spiritual, social, educational and administrative activities; and their engagement in local plans of teaching and development. It implies a collective will and sense of purpose to perpetuate the Spiritual Assembly through annual elections. It involves the practice of collective worship of God. Hence, it is essential to the spiritual life of the community that the friends hold regular devotional meetings in local Bahá'í centres, where available, or elsewhere, including the homes of believers. 
- The Universal House of Justice  (Ridvan 1996 message; compilation: ‘Selected Guidance Concerning Devotional Gatherings’, prepared by the Research Department of the Universal House of Justice, 2001)

August 27, 2015

Conduct of Spiritual Assembly members

But regarding teaching the Truth: One must teach with wisdom, amiability, good-naturedness and kindness. And should anyone circumscribe conditions (for teaching the Truth) it will become rare.

But concerning the established (organized assemblies), altogether outside conversation must not be introduced therein. Nay, rather, conversation must be limited to the reading of verses, the perusing of Words and affairs which pertain to the Cause of God, such as explaining proofs and evidences, delivering clear and irrefutable arguments and announcing the signs of the Beloved of the creatures.

Those souls who are in that assembly before their entrance therein must be adorned with utmost purity, turn their faces toward the Kingdom of Abha and enter with infinite humility and meekness, and when someone reads Tablets they must be silent and attentive.  Should anyone desire to speak, he must do it with the utmost courtesy and with perfect eloquence and fluency by the consent and permission of the people of the assembly.

Upon thee be greeting and praise!

(Signed) 'Abdu'l-Baha Abbas
(Star of the West, vol. 2, no. 6, June 24, 1911)

August 26, 2015

Teachings and Instructions of Baha’u’llah – a summary by ‘Abdu’l-Baha

Thou hast inquired regarding the teachings and instructions of Baha'u'llah! Thou must instruct the people of the world in the Love of God, that they may eradicate the foundation of warfare and strife, be attracted by the Glad-tidings of the kingdom of Abha, lay the basis of love and amity, raise the melody of affinity, and the oneness of the Kingdom of humanity; transmute tyranny and persecution into love and faithfulness, efface the traces of bloodshed and carnage; construct the edifice of reconciliation, dispel the darkness of estrangement, diffuse the light of unity; change the poison of animosity into the honey of sympathetic affection; destroy the religious, national and social prejudices from the individuals of humanity; live and act, with and toward each other as though they were from one race, one country, one religion, and one kind.
- 'Abdu'l-Baha Abbas  (Star of the West, vol. 2, no. 6, June 24, 1911)

August 24, 2015

The “divine perfections are manifested and reflected” in “the most perfect being” --> “the Divine Manifestations of God”

Man… on the plane of the contingent world is the most perfect being. By man is meant the perfect individual, who is like unto a mirror in which the divine perfections are manifested and reflected. But the sun doth not descend from the height of its sanctity to enter into the mirror, but when the latter is purified and turned towards the Sun of Truth, the perfections of this Sun, consisting of light and heat, are reflected and manifested in that mirror. These souls are the Divine Manifestations of God. 
- ‘Abdu’l-Baha  (‘Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Baha’)

August 20, 2015

There are “stages of mortality” in the world of existence

In the world of existence—that which is comprehensible—there are stages of mortality: the first stage is the mineral world, next is the vegetable world. In the latter world the mineral doth exist but with a distinctive feature which is the vegetable characteristic. Likewise in the animal world, the mineral and vegetable characteristics are present and in addition the characteristics of the animal world are to be found, which are the faculties of hearing and of sight. In the human world the characteristics of the mineral, vegetable and animal worlds are found and in addition that of the human kind, namely the intellectual characteristic, which discovereth the realities of things and comprehendeth universal principles. 
- ‘Abdu’l-Baha  (‘Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Baha’)

August 18, 2015

The Seat of the Universal House of Justice – “a visible expression of the majesty of the divinely ordained institutions of the Administrative Order of Bahá'u'lláh”

…a building that will not only serve the practical needs of a steadily consolidating administrative centre but will, for centuries to come, stand as a visible expression of the majesty of the divinely ordained institutions of the Administrative Order of Bahá'u'lláh. 
- The Universal House of Justice  (From a message dated 5 June, 1975; Messages from the Universal House of Justice, 1963-1986’)

August 16, 2015

“Existence is of two kinds: one is the existence of God… The second kind of existence is the human existence.”

Existence is of two kinds: one is the existence of God which is beyond the comprehension of man. He, the invisible, the lofty and the incomprehensible, is preceded by no cause but rather is the Originator of the cause of causes. He, the Ancient, hath had no beginning and is the all-independent. The second kind of existence is the human existence. It is a common existence, comprehensible to the human mind, is not ancient, is dependent and hath a cause to it. The mortal substance does not become eternal and vice versa; the human kind does not become a Creator and vice versa. The transformation of the innate substance is impossible. 
- ‘Abdu’l-Baha  (‘Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Baha’)

August 14, 2015

International Deputization Fund

We renew our plea to individual believers, as well as to National and Local Spiritual Assemblies, to give generous support to the International Deputization Fund, which will not only be an essential factor in the speedy settlement of this urgently needed army of pioneers, but will also stimulate and assist the flow of travelling teachers, whose labours will provide strong reinforcement to the work of the followers of Bahá'u'lláh in all parts of the world.
-The Universal House of Justice (From a message dated 13 January 1975 to the Baha’is of the World; ‘Messages from the Universal House of Justice 1963-1986’)

August 12, 2015

Democratic principles embedded in the Baha’i system versus those exhibited in modern democracies – an explanation by the Universal House of Justice

In general one can say that modern democracies have been established as the outcome of attempts to limit the power of absolute monarchy, of dictatorships, or of certain dominant classes. This may have come about gradually through the centuries, or tumultuously by a series of revolutions. Thus, even when democratic constitutions and structures have been established, there remains a suspicion of authority as such, and a tension between the degree of freedom accorded to individual citizens and the imposition of sufficient public discipline to protect the weak against the selfish pursuits of the strong among the citizenry. The operation of transparency, accountability, freedom of the press and critical dialogue is thus imbued with a spirit of partisanship that easily descends into the merciless invasion of personal privacy, the dissemination of calumny, the exaggeration of mistrust, and the misuse of the news media at the hands of vested interests. The reaction of those who attempt to protect themselves against such distortions of the system produces secretiveness, concealment of uncomfortable facts, and reciprocal misuse of the media—in all, a perpetuation of disharmony in the social fabric.

August 10, 2015

The association of the resting-places of the Greatest Holy Leaf, the Purest Branch and Navvab with the “emergence… of some of the brightest gems of Baha’u’llah’s World Order”

“For it must be clearly understood, nor can it be sufficiently emphasized, that the conjunction of the resting-place of the Greatest Holy Leaf with those of her brother and mother incalculably reinforces the spiritual potencies of that consecrated Spot which, under the wings of the Báb's overshadowing Sepulchre, and in the vicinity of the future Mashriqu'l-Adhkar which will be reared on its flank, is destined to evolve into the focal centre of those world-shaking, world-embracing, world-directing administrative institutions, ordained by Bahá'u'lláh and anticipated by 'Abdu'l-Bahá, and which are to function in consonance with the principles that govern the twin institutions of the Guardianship and the Universal House of Justice. Then, and then only, will this momentous prophecy which illuminates the concluding passages of the Tablet of Carmel be fulfilled: ‘Erelong will God sail His Ark upon thee (Carmel), and will manifest the people of Baha who have been mentioned in the Book of Names.’”

“To attempt to visualize, even in its barest outline, the glory that must envelop these institutions, to essay even a tentative and partial description of their character or the manner of their operation, or to trace however inadequately the course of events leading to their rise and eventual establishment is far beyond my own capacity and power. Suffice it to say that at this troubled stage in world history the association of these three incomparably precious souls who, next to the three Central Figures of our Faith, tower in rank above the vast multitude of the heroes, Letters, martyrs, hands, teachers and administrators of the Cause of Bahá'u'lláh, in such a potentially powerful spiritual and administrative Centre, is in itself an event which will release forces that are bound to hasten the emergence in a land which, geographically, spiritually and administratively, constitutes the heart of the entire planet, of some of the brightest gems of that World Order now shaping in the womb of this, travailing age. 
- Shoghi Effendi  (From a message dated December 21, 1939; ‘Messages to America’)

August 7, 2015

An example of ‘Abdu’l-Baha’s packed daily schedule while in USA in 1912

An example of a day’s diverse activities is April 23, in Washington, D.C. ‘Abdu’l-Baha addressed a gathering of parents and children at Studio Hall concerning the education of children; attended a reception in His honor and addressed government officials and international representatives at the home of the socially prominent Parsons family; spoke on the “nature of life and death” in one of the ghetto areas of the city; and proceeded about 9:00 p.m. to address an audience of scientists and friends personally invited by Alexander Graham Bell to his home, where, after speaking and answering questions until midnight, ‘Abdu’l-Baha remained as a guest. 
- Allan Ward  (‘Abdu’l-Baha: Speaking in America; World Order magazine, Winter, 1971-72)

August 5, 2015

We are “better known to the inmates of the Kingdom on high” than we are known to our own selves – Baha’u’llah affirms

I swear by Him Who hath caused Me to reveal whatever hath pleased Him! Ye are better known to the inmates of the Kingdom on high than ye are known to your own selves. Think ye these words to be vain and empty? Would that ye had the power to perceive the things your Lord, the All-Merciful, doth see—things that attest the excellence of your rank, that bear witness to the greatness of your worth, that proclaim the sublimity of your station! God grant that your desires and unmortified passions may not hinder you from that which hath been ordained for you. 
- Baha'u'llah  (‘Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah’)

August 3, 2015

Man “is not in need of meat, nor is he obliged to eat it”

Regarding the eating of animal flesh and abstinence therefrom, know thou of a certainty that, in the beginning of creation, God determined the food of every living being, and to eat contrary to that determination is not approved. For instance, beasts of prey, such as the wolf, lion and leopard, are endowed with ferocious, tearing instruments, such as hooked talons and claws. From this it is evident that the food of such beasts is meat. If they were to attempt to graze, their teeth would not cut the grass, neither could they chew the cud, for they do not have molars. Likewise, God hath given to the four-footed grazing animals such teeth as reap the grass like a sickle, and from this we understand that the food of these species of animal is vegetable. They cannot chase and hunt down other animals. The falcon hath a hooked beak and sharp talons; the hooked beak preventeth him from grazing, therefore his food also is meat.

August 1, 2015

Health and sickness are both contagious

…in reality both health and sickness are contagious. The contagiousness of disease is rapid and violent, whereas that of health is exceedingly slow and weak. If two bodies are brought into contact with each other, it is certain that microbial particles will be transmitted from one to the other. In the same way that disease is rapidly and violently transmitted from one body to another, the strong health of a healthy person may also alleviate a very slight condition in a sick person. Our meaning is that the contagiousness of disease is rapid and violent, while that of health is very slow and of limited effect, and it is only in minor ills that this modest effect can be felt. In such cases, the strength of the healthy body overcomes the slight weakness of the sick body and brings about its health. This is one kind of healing. 
- ‘Abdu’l-Baha  (Table talks in Akka, authenticated by ‘Abdu’l-Baha; ‘Some Answered Questions’ – 2014 revised translation by the Baha’i World Centre)

July 28, 2015

Why Baha’u’llah bore all the ordeals and calamities – ‘Abdu’l-Baha explains

…the Blessed Perfection bore all these ordeals and calamities in order that our hearts might become enkindled and radiant, our spirits be glorified, our faults become virtues, our ignorance be transformed into knowledge; in order that we might attain the real fruits of humanity and acquire heavenly graces; in order that, although pilgrims upon earth, we should travel the road of the heavenly Kingdom, and, although needy and poor, we might receive the treasures of eternal life. For this has He borne these difficulties and sorrows. 
- ‘Abdu’l-Baha  (From a talk, New York, 18 April 1912; ‘The Promulgation of Universal Peace: Talks Delivered by 'Abdu'l-Bahá during His Visit to the United States and Canada in 1912’)

July 27, 2015

The birth of Rúhu'lláh Varqa and Tablets from Baha’u’llah - by Martha Root

Alí Muhammad Varqá [who was later designated as one of the Apostles of Baha’u’llah] was an ardent Bahá'í of Tabríz, Persia, in the days when Bahá'u'lláh was a Prisoner in 'Akká, Palestine from 1868 until His passing in 1892. He was exiled and imprisoned because His Teachings which are now being studied by some rulers, many statesmen and millions of other people, were, like those of other World Teachers, very far ahead of His time.

To begin at the beginning, 'Alí Muhammad Varqá had one son, 'Azízu'lláh, two years old, when one day in April another little son was born in his home, and he and his wife named the child Rúhu'lláh which means "the Spirit of God".

There was glad rejoicing when Bahá'u'lláh from 'Akká sent these parents a Tablet (a letter) about this new babe and in it the reader with insight will discern the introduction to this thrilling story which follows. Bahá'u'lláh wrote:

"O Varqá! It is for thee to chant in both ears of this little one three times:

"Verily, thou hast come by the Command of God! Thou hast appeared to speak of Him, and thou hast been created to serve Him Who is the Dear, the Beloved!"

July 23, 2015

How to increase “one's ability and capacity” -- 'Abdu'l-Baha explains

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)

July 21, 2015

The “most beloved and acceptable deed” in the presence of Baha'u'llah

Today the most beloved and acceptable deed before His Highness, Bahá'u'lláh, is the union of the friends and the concord of men, and the most unacceptable is difference and disharmony. 
- ‘Abdu’l-Baha  (From a Tablet, Star of the West, vol. 2, no. 5, June 5, 1911)

July 18, 2015

1898: A group of early Baha'is in New York City

A group of early believers taken in 1898 in the studio of Arthur P. Dodge, in New York City. Left to right: Elizabeth Ann Dodge, Arthur P. Dodge, Ann Mason Hoar, W. H. Moar. (Paul Dodge on floor) (The Baha'i World 1940-1944)

July 13, 2015

A Tablet from Baha’u’llah “which causeth the souls of men to soar”

Baha’u’llah identifies this Tablet as “a door to the mercy of thy Lord.” 
We are called upon to “Commit it to memory, and recite it.” 

July 9, 2015

Similarities between Jesus Christ and the Báb

The passion of Jesus Christ, and indeed His whole public ministry, alone offer a parallel to the Mission and death of the Báb, a parallel which no student of comparative religion can fail to perceive or ignore. In the youthfulness and meekness of the Inaugurator of the Bábí Dispensation; in the extreme brevity and turbulence of His public ministry; in the dramatic swiftness with which that ministry moved towards its climax; in the apostolic order which He instituted, and the primacy which He conferred on one of its members; in the boldness of His challenge to the time-honored conventions, rites and laws which had been woven into the fabric of the religion He Himself had been born into; in the rôle which an officially recognized and firmly entrenched religious hierarchy played as chief instigator of the outrages which He was made to suffer; in the indignities heaped upon Him; in the suddenness of His arrest; in the interrogation to which He was subjected; in the derision poured, and the scourging inflicted, upon Him; in the public affront He sustained; and, finally, in His ignominious suspension before the gaze of a hostile multitude—in all these we cannot fail to discern a remarkable similarity to the distinguishing features of the career of Jesus Christ. 
- Shoghi Effendi  (‘God Passes By)

July 5, 2015

“fundamental aspects of Baha’i community life intended for all” = “acts of service”

  • Teaching the Faith
  • Initiating Children’s Classes,
  • Initiating Junior Youth Groups
  • Initiating Study Circles
  • Hosting Devotional Gatherings
  • Undertaking Home Visits
(Adapted from a message dated 5 January 2015 written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to American National Spiritual Assembly)

June 28, 2015

What are Core Activities?

Core Activities = “portals for entry by troops”
  • Study circles
  • Devotional meetings
  • Children’s classes (“to about age 11”)
  • Junior youth groups
(Extracted from messages from the Universal House of Justice dated Ridvan 2001, Ridvan 2002, Jan. 11, 2009, and Jan. 5, 2015)

June 21, 2015

The scope of the teaching work – a recent explanation by the Universal House of Justice

“The teaching work is broad in scope, encompassing
  • personal efforts as well as
  • collective projects,
  • selected neighborhoods as well as
  • sundry localities,
  • chosen populations as well as
  • chance acquaintances,
  • firesides as well as
  • core activities.” 
- The Universal House of Justice  (the Department of the Secretariat, from a message to the American National Spiritual Assembly dated January 5, 2015)

June 16, 2015

There are mysteries in the Cause of God

We are glad that you have brought to our attention the questions perplexing some of the believers. It is much better for these questions to be put freely and openly than to have them, unexpressed, burdening the hearts of devoted believers. Once one grasps certain basic principles of the Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh such uncertainties are easily dispelled. This is not to say that the Cause of God contains no mysteries. Mysteries there are indeed, but they are not of a kind to shake one's faith once the essential tenets of the Cause and the indisputable facts of any situation are clearly understood. 
- The Universal House of Justice  (From a message dated 9 March 1965; 'Messages from the Universal House of Justice, 1963-1986)

June 12, 2015

‘Abdu’l-Baha invites people to His City

I have come to your city and found tall buildings and advancement in material civilization. Now I will lead you to my own city which is the world above. Its administration is the oneness of humanity, its law is international peace, its palaces are ever shining with the lights of the Kingdom, its season is always spring, its trees are ever green, its fruits are fresh and sweet, its sun is ever ascending, its moon is always full, its stars are ever brilliant and its planets are ever circling. That is our city and the Founder is Bahá'u'lláh. We have enjoyed the pleasures of this city and now I invite you to that city. I hope that you will accept this invitation. 
- 'Abdu'l-Baha  (Words of ‘Abdu’l-Baha, 25 September 1912, Denver, Colorado, USA, recorded by Mahmud Zarqani; ‘Mahmud’s Diary’)

June 8, 2015

Our dependency on Baha’u’llah's mercy

Insights from a prayer by 'Abdu'l-Baha:
  • “we come with no provision but our sins,”, “with no good deeds to tell of, only hopes.”
  • “Unless” Baha’u’llah’s “concealing veil” would cover us and His “protection shield and cradle us, what power” do we “helpless souls” have to rise and serve” Him, “what substance” do we the “wretched ones” have “to make a brave display?”
  • We need Him to “help us”, to “favour us”;
  • “ withered as we are,” we need Baha’u’llah to “revive us with showers from” His “clouds of grace”;
  • “lowly as we are,” we need Baha’u’llah to “illumine us with bright rays from the Day-Star” of His “oneness.”
  • We need Baha’u’llah to “Cast” “these thirsty fish into the ocean of Thy mercy,”
  • We need Baha’u’llah to “guide … this lost caravan to the shelter” of His “singleness;”
  • We need Baha’u’llah to “lead... the ones who have wandered far astray” to the “wellspring of guidance”;
  • We need Baha’u’llah to “grant to those who have missed the path a haven within the precincts” of His “might”;
  • We humbly ask Baha’u’llah to:
    • “Lift Thou to these parched lips the bounteous and soft-flowing waters of heaven,”
    • “raise up these dead to everlasting life.”
    • “Grant Thou to the blind eyes that will see.”
    • “Make Thou the deaf to hear, the dumb to speak.”
    • “Set Thou the dispirited ablaze,”
    • “make Thou the heedless mindful,”
    • “warn Thou the proud,”
    • “awaken those who sleep.”
(Insights from Baha'i Prayers...)