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’)