May 30, 2015

Hand of the Cause Mr. Furutan and Dizzy Gillespie

The Hand of the Cause of God 'Ali-Akbat Furutan greets well-known musician and Baha'i Dizzy Gillespie during Mr. Gillespie's visit to the Baha'i World Centre on 17 July 1991. (The Baha'i World 1986-1992)

May 26, 2015

Yá Bahá'u'l-Abhá: The “Magnet of divine confirmations… the mighty Force which will surely attract heavenly assistance”

O ye beloved friends of God and handmaids of the Merciful!

Call ye to mind the blessed Name of our peerless Beloved, the Abha Beauty, in an uplifting spirit of unbounded ecstasy and delight, then unloose your tongues in His praise in such wise that the realm of the heart may be purged from the woes and sorrows of the world of water and clay, that the great heights of spiritual perception may be unveiled before your eyes, that the glorious signs of His Divine Unity may shine resplendent, a fresh outpouring of His grace may stream forth, and a liberal effusion of celestial confirmations may be vouchsafed unto you.

His Name is indeed the healing medicine for every illness, and imparteth warmth unto those starving with cold. It is the sovereign remedy and the supreme talisman. It is the source of life in both worlds, and of salvation unto such as have gone astray. Today this hallowed Name serveth as a shield for all mankind, and as a veritable refuge for the children of men. It is the wondrous accent of the Lord of Mercy, and His celestial melody.

Wherefore, O faithful friends, raise ye the triumphal cry of Yá Bahá'u'l-Abhá! O ye who yearn after the Beauty of the Almighty! Lift up your faces toward the Supreme Horizon. Rest not, even for a moment. Breathe not a single breath save in remembrance of His love and in recognition of His grace, in the promulgation of His Utterances and the vindication of His Testimonies.

Verily, this is the Magnet of divine confirmations. This is the mighty Force which will surely attract heavenly assistance. 
- ‘Abdu’l-Baha  (From a Tablet; in a letter sent to an individual believer in 2000 by the Department of the Secretariat of the Universal House of Justice)

May 22, 2015

Vastness of the Revelation of Baha’u’llah and our very limited comprehension of its “mysteries and potentialities”

Every true believer, if he is to deepen in his understanding of the Cause of Bahá'u'lláh must needs combine profound faith in the unfailing efficacy of His Message and His Covenant, with the humility of recognizing that no one of this generation can claim to have embraced the vastness of His Cause nor to have comprehended the manifold mysteries and potentialities it contains. The words of Shoghi Effendi bear ample testimony to this fact:

“How vast is the Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh! How great the magnitude of His blessings showered upon humanity in this day! And yet, how poor, how inadequate our conception of their significance and glory! This generation stands too close to so colossal a Revelation to appreciate, in their full measure, the infinite possibilities of His Faith, the unprecedented character of His Cause, and the mysterious dispensations of His Providence.” (Shoghi Effendi, from a letter dated 21 March 1930 published in ‘The World Order of Bahá'u'lláh’) 
- The Universal House of Justice  (From a letter dated 9 March 1965)

May 20, 2015

Becoming cognizant of the premises on which the contemporary discussion surrounding homosexuality is based on

The contemporary discussion surrounding homosexuality, which began in the West and is increasingly promoted in other parts of the world, generally takes the form of a false dichotomy, which compels one to choose between a position that is either affirming or rejecting. It is understandable that Bahá’ís would be sensitive to acts of prejudice or oppression in any form and to the needs of those who suffer as a result. But to align with either side in the public debate is to accept the premises on which it is based. Moreover, this debate occurs within the context of a rising tide of materialism and consequent reorientation of society, over more than a century, which has among its outcomes a destructive emphasis on sexuality. Various philosophies and theories have eroded precepts of right and wrong that govern personal behavior. For some, relativism reigns and individuals are to determine their own moral preferences; others dismiss the very conception of personal morality, maintaining that any standard that restrains what is considered a natural impulse is harmful to the individual and ultimately to society. Self- indulgence, in the guise of expressing one's true nature, becomes the norm, even the touchstone of healthy living. Consequently, sexuality has become a preoccupation, pervading commerce, media, the arts, and popular culture, influencing disciplines such as medicine, psychology, and education and reducing the human being to an object. It is no longer merely a part of life, but becomes the defining element of a person's identity. At its most extreme, the doctrine aggressively propagated in some societies is that it is abnormal for adolescents to restrain their sexual impulses, unreasonable for young adults to marry without first having had sexual relations, and impossible for a married couple to remain monogamous. The unbounded expression of sexuality in almost any form is thought to be natural and is accepted as a matter of course, the only limitation being to cause no harm to others, while any notion to the contrary is deemed narrow-minded or retrogressive. The question of same-sex marriage arises not simply as an appeal for fairness within a framework of existing values but as another step, presumed to be inevitable, in clearing away the vestiges of what is regarded to be a repressive traditional morality. 
- The Universal House of Justice  (From a letter dated 9 May, 2014, written on behalf of the Universal House of justice to an individual believer)

May 17, 2015

How one’s attitude should be towards scholarly activities “into the limitless meaning of the Divine Teachings”

The House of Justice calls upon the members of the community of the Greatest Name, young and old, men and women alike, to strive to develop and offer to humanity a new model of scholarly activity along the lines set out in this compilation, [on Scholarship] animated by the spirit of inquiry into the limitless meaning of the Divine Teachings. This scholarly endeavour should be characterized by the welcome it offers to all who wish to be involved in it, each in his or her own way, by mutual encouragement and cooperation among its participants, and by the respect accorded to distinguished accomplishment and outstanding achievement. The spirit and approach should be far removed from the arrogance, contention, and exclusiveness which have too often sullied the name of scholarship in the wider society, and which have created barriers to the sound development of this worthy pursuit. 
- The Universal House of Justice  (From a letter dated 10 February 1995 written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to selected National spiritual Assemblies)

May 11, 2015

Certain traditions concerning the year 1260 A.H. (1844) -- the year that witnessed the birth of the Revelation of the Báb

As the year sixty, the year that witnessed the birth of the promised Revelation, had just dawned upon the world, it would not seem inappropriate, at this juncture, to digress from our theme, and to mention Imám Ja’far, son of Muhammad, when questioned concerning the year in which the Qá’im was to be made manifest, replied as follows: Verily, in the year sixty His Cause shall be revealed, and His name shall be noised abroad. In the works of the learned and far-famed Muhyi’d-Dín-i-‘Arabí, many references are to be found regarding both the year of the advent and the name of the promised Manifestation. Among them are the following: “The ministers and upholders of His Faith shall be of the people of Persia.” “In His name, the name of the Guardian [‘Alí] precedeth that of the Prophet [Muhammad]. The year of His Revelation is identical with half of that number which is divisible by nine [2520]. Mírzá Muhammad-i-Akhbarí, in his poems relating to the year of the Manifestation, makes the following prediction: “In the year Ghars [the numerical value of the letters of which is 1260] the earth shall be illumined by His light, and in Gharásih [1265] the world shall be suffused with its glory. If thou livest until the year Gharasí [1270], thou shalt witness how the nations, the rulers, the peoples, and the Faith of God shall all have been renewed.” In a tradition ascribed to the Imám ‘Alí, the Commander of the Faithful, it is likewise recorded: “In Ghars the Tree of Divine guidance shall be planted.” 
- Shoghi Effendi  (‘The Dawn-Breakers’)

May 8, 2015

The existence of some very exalted Beings in the Domains of God

Insights from a prayer by Baha’u’llah

In the Domains of God there are Beings:
  • “Who are the highest Embodiments of perception”
  • Who are known as “the Well Springs of wisdom” – They’ve been “generated through the operation” of God’s Will.
  • "Who are the inmost essence of oneness”. They are “sent down” to this world by God and “are but the evidences” of God’s “handiwork.”
  • “Who are the Quintessence of knowledge”. They are “the creation and instruments” of God’s Purpose.
Question: Should we understand that these Beings are the Manifestations of God Who appear in this contingent world or should we also assume that some belong to different worlds of God unknown to us? 

May 6, 2015

Proclamation vs. Teaching

It should be remembered that the purpose of proclamation is to make known to all mankind the fact and general aim of the new Revelation, while teaching programmes should be planned to confirm individuals from every stratum of society. 
- The Universal House of Justice  (From a message to the Baha’is of the world, Naw-Ruz, 1974; ‘Messages from the Universal House of Justice 1963-1986)

May 3, 2015

Some insights gleaned from the 2015 Ridvan message of the Universal House of Justice

Disintegrating process taking place worldwide
  • “Over the last year, it has become clearer still that, in different nations in different ways, the social consensus around ideals that have traditionally united and bound together a people is increasingly worn and spent.”
  • “… self-serving, intolerant, and toxic ideologies that feed upon discontent and resentment.”
  • “With a conflicted world appearing every day less sure of itself, the proponents of these destructive doctrines grow bold and brazen.”
  • "They hasten forward to Hell Fire, and mistake it for light."
  • “Well-meaning leaders of nations and people of goodwill are left struggling to repair the fractures evident in society and powerless to prevent their spread.”
  • “the distrust that pits neighbor against neighbour and severs family ties”
  • “the antagonism of so much of what passes for social discourse”
  • “the casualness with which appeals to ignoble human motivations are used to win power and pile up riches”
  • “the moral force which sustains society has become gravely depleted.”

Integrating process: activities taking place worldwide and those requiring “concentrated effort”
  • “a new kind of collective life is taking shape which gives practical expression to all that is heavenly in human beings.”
  • “Existing programmes are gaining in strength, many showing more clearly what it means for the Cause of God to extend further into the social landscape across a cluster and within a neighbourhood or village.”
  • “The paths that lead to sustained large-scale expansion and consolidation are being followed with firmer footsteps, valiant youth often setting the pace.”
  • “to introduce children, youth, and adults to spiritual ideas”
  • “to foster a feeling for worship through gatherings for prayer and devotion”
  • “to stimulate conversations that illuminate understanding”
  • “to start ever-growing numbers on a lifetime of study of the Creative Word and its translation into deeds”
  • “to develop, along with others, capacity for service”
  • “to accompany one another in the exercise of what has been learned”
  • “a culture of mutual support, founded on fellowship and humble service
  • “the movement of a population towards Baha'u'llah's vision for a new society”
  • “Often prompted by the demands of growth, a range of National Assemblies are building up their administrative capacity, visible in their thoughtful stewardship of the resources available to them, their efforts to become intimately familiar with the conditions of their communities, and their vigilance in ensuring that the operations of their National Offices grow ever stronger.”
  • “enabling more and more souls to be systematically brought within the pale of the community's activities”