February 28, 2015

circa 1920's: Shiraz Qur'an Gate

Northern gate to the city of Shiraz as it appeared in 1920's. This sketch shows a view from inside the city. (source: 'A Persian Journey', by Fred Richards)

February 26, 2015

“service to the Cause should not produce neglect of the family”

In considering the problems that you and your wife are experiencing, the House of Justice points out that the unity of your family should take priority over any other consideration. Bahá'u'lláh came to bring unity to the world, and a fundamental unity is that of the family. Therefore, we must believe that the Faith is intended to strengthen the family, not weaken it. For example, service to the Cause should not produce neglect of the family. It is important for you to arrange your time so that your family life is harmonious and your household receives the attention it requires… Family consultation employing full and frank discussion, and animated by awareness of the need for moderation and balance, can be the panacea for domestic conflict. 
(From a letter dated 1 August 1978 written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer; The Compilation of Compilations, vol. II, Women)

February 24, 2015

To remember our parents while praying

It is seemly that the servant should, after each prayer, supplicate God to bestow mercy and forgiveness upon his parents. Thereupon God’s call will be raised: ‘Thousand upon thousand of what thou hast asked for thy parents shall be thy recompense!’ Blessed is he who remembereth his parents when communing with God. There is, verily, no God but Him, the Mighty, the Well-Beloved. 
(The Báb, excerpt from Persian Bayan; ‘Selections from the Writings of the Báb)

February 22, 2015

National Haziratu’l-Quds of the Baha’is of the United States

The national Haziratu’l-Quds of the Baha'is of the United States is located in Wilmette, Illinois, directly across Sheridan Road from the House of Worship, overlooking Lake Michigan. Construction of the building was begun in 1923 by Louis Bourgeois, architect of the House of Worship, who intended to use it as a private studio and residence. However, Mr. Bourgeois died before the structure was completed, and it was purchased by the National Spiritual Assembly in September 1930.

For nearly a decade the building was used to assist the temple construction and maintenance. In June 1939, at the Guardian's direction and in an effort to consolidate its internal functions and symbolize its responsible character, the National Spiritual Assembly decided to move its national office from West Englewood, New York, to Wilmette, Illinois, and thereby establish a national Haziratu’l-Quds. The Haziratu’l-Quds , whose name means literally "the Sacred Fold," is complementary in its functions to those of the Mashriqu'l-Adhkar (Baha'i House of Worship, whose name in Arabic means "Dawning Place of the Praise of God"). The Guardian envisioned a time when the Haziratu’l-Quds will encompass at both local and national levels a wide spectrum of social institutions including a secretariat, treasury, archives, library, publishing office, assembly hall, council chamber, and pilgrims' hostel.

February 19, 2015

Capacity Building -- some excerpts from recent messages of the Universal House of Justice

Capacity building is the current “watchword” of the global plans issued by the Universal House of Justice
The overall direction of the process of learning that the Baha'i community is pursuing is guided by a series of global plans, the provisions of which are established by the Universal House of Justice. Capacity building is the watchword of these plans: they aim at enabling the protagonists of collective effort to strengthen the spiritual foundations of villages and neighbourhoods, to address certain of their social and economic needs, and to contribute to the discourses prevalent in society, all while maintaining the necessary coherence in methods and approaches. (The Universal House of Justice, 2 March 2013)

“[E]very Bahá’í institution must energetically engage” in the capacity-building process
What is essential for every National Assembly to acknowledge in this connection is that, if mutual love and support within the community, important as it is, becomes the only focus, a stagnant environment engendered by an insular mentality will develop. The worldwide Bahá’í community is charged with an historic mission. It must acquire capacity to address increasingly complex spiritual and material requirements as it becomes larger and larger in size. The 28 December 2010 message of the House of Justice indicated: “A small community, whose members are united by their shared beliefs, characterized by their high ideals, proficient in managing their affairs and tending to their needs, and perhaps engaged in several humanitarian projects — a community such as this, prospering but at a comfortable distance from the reality experienced by the masses of humanity, can never hope to serve as a pattern for restructuring the whole of society.” The current series of global Plans sets out provisions for gradually building individual and collective capacity for the community’s mission. The institutions of a Bahá’í community that has been allowed to become complacent will find it difficult to protect the younger members from the forces of gross materialism, with the accompanying moral decay, that are assailing society. This, then, points to the nature of the capacity-building process in which every Bahá’í institution must energetically engage. (From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, 23 April 2013)

February 17, 2015

The “best way… [we] can serve interests of humanity and hasten the day when at least the Lesser Peace will become a reality”

He cannot urge upon you all sufficiently, and through you the American believers, the importance of Baha'is realizing that direct, concentrated and efficiently carried out Baha'i work is not only their supreme duty but the best way they can serve interests of humanity and hasten the day when at least the Lesser Peace will become a reality. We must always bear in mind that Baha'u'llah's Order is the sovereign remedy, and all other measures, inaugurated by the United Nations or various governments, are in the nature of palliatives, however sound and progressive they may be. We must concentrate on perfecting our characters as individual Baha'is and on maturing our still embryonic, and as yet imperfectly understood World Order; on spreading the Message, according to the provisions of the Divine Plan; and on building a tightly-knit, world-wide Baha'i community. We are relatively few in numbers, and have such a precious, unique and responsible task to carry out, we must concentrate our full forces upon it. 
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, Canadian Baha'i News, No. 232, August 1969)

February 15, 2015

The tie between husband and wife “is none other than the Word of God”

As to thy question concerning the husband and wife, the tie between them and the children given to them by God: Know thou, verily, the husband is one who hath sincerely turned unto God, is awakened by the call of the Beauty of El-Bahá and chanteth the verses of Oneness in the great assemblies; the wife is a being who wisheth to be overflowing with and seeketh after the attributes of God and His names; and the tie between them is none other than the Word of God. Verily, it [the Word of God] causeth the multitudes to assemble together and the remote ones to be united. Thus the husband and wife are brought into affinity, are united and harmonized, even as though they were one person. Through their mutual union, companionship and love great results are produced in the world, both material and spiritual. The spiritual result is the appearance of divine bounties. The material result is the children who are born in the cradle of the love of God, who are nurtured by the breast of the knowledge of God, who are brought up in the bosom of the gift of God, and who are fostered in the lap of the training of God. Such children are those of whom it was said by Christ, "Verily, they are the children of the Kingdom!" 
(‘Abdu’l-Baha, ‘Tablets of Abdul-Bahá Abbas", vol. 3’; The Compilation of Compilations, Vol. I, Family Life) 

February 14, 2015

circa 1980's: Canadian National Baha'i Convention

Hand of the Cause John Robarts, Counselor Angus Cowan and delegates attending the Canadian National Baha'i Convention, circa 1980's.  

February 13, 2015

“clouds of light”

Say: He Who is the Unconditioned is come, in the clouds of light, that He may quicken all created things with the breezes of His Name, the Most Merciful, and unify the world, and gather all men around this Table which hath been sent down from heaven. Beware that ye deny not the favor of God after it hath been sent down unto you. Better is this for you than that which ye possess; for that which is yours perisheth, whilst that which is with God endureth. He, in truth, ordaineth what He pleaseth. 
(Baha’u’llah, from a Tablet to Napoleon III, ‘Epistle to the Son of the Wolf’)

February 10, 2015

One of the “essential purposes” of Baha’i elections: -> “the development in every believer of the spirit of responsibility.”

In describing Baha'i elections, Shoghi Effendi, through a letter written on his behalf, conveyed that "Baha'i electoral procedures and methods have, indeed, for one of their essential purposes the development in every believer of the spirit of responsibility. By emphasizing the necessity of maintaining his full freedom in the elections, they make it incumbent upon him to become an active and well-informed member of the Baha'i community in which he lives." 
(The Universal House of Justice, from a message dated 25 March 2007 to the Baha’is of the World)

February 7, 2015

Every soul should be helped to “develop and express his or her God-given talents and capacities in service to humanity.”

…the principle of the oneness of humankind, as proclaimed by Bahá’u’lláh, is inconsistent with any attempt to impose uniformity. Its watchword is unity in diversity. To accept it is to embrace the rich diversity that characterizes the human race. To promote it implies helping every soul to develop and express his or her God-given talents and capacities in service to humanity.  
(The Universal House of Justice, from a message dated 28 July 2008 to the Baha’is in Iran)    

February 4, 2015

With the coming of Baha’u’llah the human race entered a “new stage in its spiritual and social evolution” – “its oneness”

It is always important to remember that with the coming of Bahá’u’lláh the human race as a whole was summoned to recognition of its oneness, and this has launched it on a wholly new stage in its spiritual and social evolution. He has stated clearly that His message and the glorious prospects envisaged belong to every people on the planet. “The summons and the message”, He wrote, “which We gave were never intended to reach or to benefit one land or one people only. Mankind in its entirety must firmly adhere to whatsoever hath been revealed and vouchsafed unto it. Then and only then will it attain unto true liberty.”  
(From a letter dated 3 June 2007 written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer)

February 1, 2015

Cluster Reflection Meetings -- some excerpts from the messages of the Universal House of Justice and the statements of the International Teaching center

Unifying thought and action
Reflection meetings at the level of clusters have become a powerful means of unifying thought and action across institutions and localities; they have lent a potent stimulus to institutional and individual initiatives in a mutually supportive spirit. (The Universal House of Justice, Ridvan 2003)   

Reaching a consensus on short-term goals
A natural vehicle for multiplying core activities has been reflection meetings. These meetings at the cluster level have been particularly effective in well-established areas where an expanding pool of human resources exists. In such gatherings the institutions and the believers, many of whom are involved in the institute process, study the relevant Five Year Plan documents, share experiences, and consult on the achievements and strengths within the cluster. Avoiding "grandiose and elaborate plans," [29] the friends reach a consensus on short-term goals which reflect the pledges of individual initiatives and collective actions that have emerged from the consultation. These goals are generally incorporated into a calendar of activities that becomes the framework for the subsequent two-to-three-month period. In many clusters around the world, how to hold productive and enjoyable reflection meetings has - - - become an important area for learning. (The International Teaching Center, ‘Building Momentum’, 2003)

Productive and enjoyable
The ability to organize productive and enjoyable reflection meetings has also been a feature of well-developed clusters. (The International Teaching Center, ‘Building Momentum’, 2003)