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)