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’)