May 25, 2016

The First Person to Recognize Bahá'u'lláh as a Manifestation of God

Mr. ... refers to several sources in the literature of the Bahá'í Faith where the first person to recognize Bahá'u'lláh as a Manifestation of God is identified. Those named include 'Abdu'l-Bahá (see Balyuzi's book "'Abdu'l-Bahá The Centre of the Covenant of Bahá'u'lláh" (Oxford: George Ronald, 1987), p. 13), Mírzá Áqá Ján and Shaykh Hasán-i-Zunúzi (see "Bahá'u'lláh: The King of Glory" (Oxford: George Ronald, 1980, p. 109 and pp. 67-68). He asks how this apparent contradiction is to be resolved.

It is evident that the term "the first" to recognize Bahá'u'lláh had different meanings according to the context of its use. For example, given 'Abdu'l-Bahá's designation as "the Mystery of God" and His unique relationship with His Father, it is possible that the reference is to the spiritual realm, a realm which transcends time. While, in the case of Mírzá Áqá Ján and Shaykh Hasán-i-Zunúzi, the application of the term is necessarily in the context of the human plane of existence.

In relation to Mírzá Áqá Ján, Shoghi Effendi in "God Passes By", p. 115, clearly affirms that Mírzá Áqá Ján was "the first to believe" in Bahá'u'lláh, and that to him, Bahá'u'lláh, more than to anyone else, was moved to disclose, at this critical juncture, a glimpse of the as yet unrevealed glory of His station.

Hence, one possible distinction between Mírzá Áqá Ján and Shaykh Hasán-i-Zunúzi could well relate to the degree or extent of their recognition, with primacy being accorded to Mírzá Áqá Ján.
(Memorandum from the Research Department of the Universal House of Justice dated 23 May 1991)

May 20, 2016

“…this infinite universe with all its grandeur and perfect order could not have come to exist by itself.”

And as we reflect, we observe that man is like unto a tiny organism contained within a fruit; this fruit hath developed out of the blossom, the blossom hath grown out of the tree, the tree is sustained by the sap, and the sap formed out of earth and water. How then can this tiny organism comprehend the nature of the garden, conceive of the gardener and comprehend his being? That is manifestly impossible. Should that organism understand and reflect, it would observe that this garden, this tree, this blossom, this fruit would in no wise have come to exist by themselves in such order and perfection. Similarly the wise and reflecting soul will know of a certainty that this infinite universe with all its grandeur and perfect order could not have come to exist by itself.
- ‘Abdu'l-Baha  (Tablet to Dr. August Forel)

May 16, 2016

“Education of the individual Bahá'í in the Divine law is one of the duties of Spiritual Assemblies.“

In a letter to a National Assembly on 1 March 1951, Shoghi Effendi wrote:
“The deepening and enrichment of the spiritual life of the individual believer, his increasing comprehension of the essential verities underlying this Faith, his training in its administrative processes, his understanding of the fundamentals of the Covenants established by its Author and the authorized Interpreter of its teachings, should be made the supreme objectives of the national representatives responsible for the edification, the progress and consolidation of these communities.”
- The Universal House of Justice  (From a letter dated 8 February 1998 written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer)

May 12, 2016

1944: Chicago Baha'i House of Worship used as theme for stage decoration

Baha'i House of Worship used as theme for stage decoration at performance of Chicago Ladies Grand Piano Symphony Orchestra on May 24, 1944 at Orchestra Hall in Chicago. The chorus "The Voices of All Nations," sang the new musical composition, "The Making of the Temple." 
(The Baha'i World 1944-1946)

May 8, 2016

Dynamic modes of operation recommended by the Universal House of Justice

  • “action, reflection and consultation” (Universal House of Justice, Ridvan 2008, 28 December 2010, Ridvan 2015)
  • “action, reflection, consultation and study”** (Universal House of Justice, Ridvan 2010, , 2 March 2013)
  • “study, consultation, action, and reflection” (Universal House of Justice, Ridvan 2016)
 ** …the Baha'i community has adopted a mode of operation characterized by action, reflection, consultation and study - study which involves not only constant reference to the writings of the Faith but also the scientific analysis of patterns unfolding. Indeed, how to maintain such a mode of learning in action, how to ensure that growing numbers participate in the generation and application of relevant knowledge, and how to devise structures for the systemization of an expanding worldwide experience and for the equitable distribution of the lessons learned these are, themselves, the object of regular examination. (Universal House of Justice, 2 March 2013)

May 6, 2016

1994: Ninth Spiritual Gathering of the Tribes, Soto, Siberia

Participants in the Ninth Spiritual Gathering of the Tribes, held at Soto, near Yakutsk, Siberia, in June 1994, wear traditional Sakha attire. (The Baha'i World 1994-1995)

May 4, 2016

Intensive Program of Growth in a Cluster – expansion, consolidation, reflection and planning phases of a three-month cycle of activities

Sustained endeavour on the part of the individual, the community and the institutions to accelerate the institute process in a cluster, while contributing to its movement from one stage of development to another through well-proven means, culminates in the launching of an intensive programme of growth....

As currently conceived, an intensive programme of growth is straightforward, simple and effective, but implies a level of exertion that tests the resolve of the friends. Conforming well to the vision we presented five years ago, it employs a few measures that have proven to be indispensable to large-scale expansion and consolidation. It consists of cycles of activity, in general of three months' duration each, which proceed according to distinct phases of expansion, consolidation, reflection and planning.

Expansion phase
The expansion phase, often a period of two weeks, demands the highest level of intensity. Its objective is to widen the circle of those interested in the Faith, to find receptive souls and to teach them. Although this phase might include some element of proclamation, it should not be seen as a time to hold a few events for this purpose or to undertake a set of activities that merely convey information. Experience suggests that the more closely teaching approaches and methods are aligned with the capacity acquired from the study of the institute courses the more rewarding the results.

May 2, 2016

The Fire Tablet was revealed by Baha’u’llah in a special way – an explanation by ‘Adib Taherzadeh

Bahá'u'lláh revealed this Tablet in a special way in order that the mind of man, limited and finite as it is, may be able to reflect and meditate on the sufferings heaped upon the Manifestation, and at the same time see a glimpse of His All-Glorious Being. It seems as if it is His human Person, as distinct from the Manifestation of God, that recounts His afflictions and dwells on the iniquities perpetrated by His enemies. Then comes the voice of God and Bahá'u'lláh's response to it.

But in reality, Bahá'u'lláh, the Supreme Manifestation of God, cannot be divided into two. His human nature and divine spirit are so mingled together that at no time can He be regarded as a man devoid of the Most Great Spirit which always animated Him. It cannot be assumed that at times a Manifestation of God ceases to be a Manifestation and becomes purely a man. On the contrary, He is always a Manifestation of God, although He often hides His glory and appears to be like an ordinary human being. To appreciate this indivisibility, let us consider man with his two natures. We observe that whereas man combines within himself the animal and the spiritual natures, yet he is always a man and at no time can he be considered to be a pure animal devoid of the human spirit or temporarily become robbed of his powers as a man. Similarly, the Manifestation of God can never be divided into separate parts.