August 29, 2016

The Báb bestowed “the essence of power” to Mulla Husayn

Sending Mulla Husayn on his first assignment since he became a Bábí the Báb said: “Grieve not that you have not been chosen to accompany Me on My pilgrimage to Hijaz. I shall instead direct your steps to that city [Tihran] which enshrines a Mystery of such transcendent holiness as neither Hijaz [a region in Saudi Arabia containing the holy cities of Mecca and medina] nor Shiraz can hope to rival…Visit, on your way, Isfahan, Kashan, Tihran and Khurasan… The hosts of the invisible Kingdom, be assured, will sustain and reinforce your efforts. The essence of power is now dwelling in you, and the company of His chosen angels revolves around you. His almighty arms will surround you, and His unfailing Spirit will ever continue to guide your steps…” (‘The Dawn-Breakers’) 
(Adapted from ‘Robe of Light, vol. 1’, by David Ruhe) 

August 26, 2016

An attribute of “the chosen ones of God”

Happy the soul that shall forget his own good, and like the chosen ones of God, vie with his fellows in service to the good of all… 
- ‘Abdu’l-Baha  (‘The Secret of Divine Civilization’)

August 22, 2016

The Baha’i International Community

In 1947 the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the United States and Canada was accredited to the United Nations as a national non-governmental organization qualified to be represented at United Nations Conferences through a designated observer. One year later the eight existing National Spiritual Assemblies were recognized collectively as an international non-governmental organization under the title "The Bahá'í International Community." Each National Spiritual Assembly designated the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States as its representative at the United Nations. Mrs. Mildred Mottahedeh, who also served as a member of the International Bahá'í Council from 1961 to 1963, was the observer for the Bahá'í International Community for nearly twenty years. The Bahá'í International Community, which now includes at least five million believers, 165 National Spiritual Assemblies, and approximately twenty thousand Local Spiritual Assemblies, maintains offices in New York and Geneva as well as regional offices in Addis Ababa, Brussels, and Jakarta.

The Baha’i International Community registered with the UN as an NGO in 1948 and currently has consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social council (ECOSOC) and the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), as well as accreditation with the United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP) and the United Nations Department of Public Information (DPI). The Baha’i International Community collaborates with the UN and its specialized agencies, as well as member states, inter- and non-governmental organizations, academia, and practitioners. 
(Adapted from the explanatory footnotes in ‘Messages from the Universal House of Justice 1963-1986’, and website of Baha’i International Community)

August 21, 2016

Mary Maxwell, 1937

Mary Maxwell (Ruhiyyih Khanum) in the garden of the Western Baha'i Pilgrim House in Haifa, shortly before her marriage to Shoghi Effendi, 1937 ('The Maxwells of Montreal', by Viollete Nakhjavani)

August 19, 2016

Nineteen Day Feast – Excerpts from recent messages of the Universal House of Justice & the International Teaching Centre

Topics
  •  The institution of 19-Day Feast
  •  Responsibilities of Spiritual Assembly
  •  Influence of the “devotional character of a community”
  •  Limited to Baha’is
  •  Choice of language
  •  Choice of prayers and readings
  •  Factors contributing to quality improvement
  •  Participation of believers in the “conduct of the Nineteen Day Feast” is an aspect of the “collective undertakings of the Bahá’í community”
  •  The progressive unfoldment of the three components of the Feast
  •  The consultative portion of the Feast
  •  The “decentralization” of the Feast is “an inevitable consequence of the growth of the Faith”
  •  Neighborhood Feasts
  •  What to do if friends of the Faith appear unexpectedly, or the “Feast is celebrated in the home of a family with some members who are not Bahá’ís”

August 17, 2016

Attaining to the presence of God – Baha’u’llah explains its meaning

In all the Divine Books the promise of the Divine Presence hath been explicitly recorded. By this Presence is meant the Presence of Him Who is the Dayspring of the signs, and the Dawning-Place of the clear tokens, and the Manifestation of the Excellent Names, and the Source of the attributes, of the true God, exalted be His glory. God in His Essence and in His own Self hath ever been unseen, inaccessible, and unknowable. By Presence, therefore, is meant the Presence of the One Who is His Vicegerent amongst men. He, moreover, hath never had, nor hath He, any peer or likeness. For were He to have any peer or likeness, how could it then be demonstrated that His being is exalted above, and His essence sanctified from, all comparison and likeness?  (Baha’u’llah, ‘Epistle to the Son of the Wolf’)
- Baha’u’llah  (‘Epistle to the Son of the Wolf’)

August 16, 2016

1994: Foreign Minister of Israel visits the Baha'i World Center

During his visit to the Baha'i World Center on 4 August 1994, Shimon Peres, Foreign Minister of Israel, views of the models of the Terraces Project. 
(The Baha'i World 1994-1995)

August 14, 2016

Being “a Bahá'í is essentially an inner thing, or way of life, and not dependent on fixed patterns”

It is good for the Bahá'ís to learn that being a Bahá'í is essentially an inner thing, or way of life, and not dependent on fixed patterns. Important as our organized institutions are, they are not the Faith itself. The strength of the Cause grows no matter how much disrupted its activities may temporarily be. This we see over and over again, in lands where the Faith has been temporarily banned; at times when the believers are persecuted and even killed; where they are serving all along or scattered and isolated... 
- Shoghi Effendi  (From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the Program Committee of Geyserville, November 11, 1951: Bahá'í News, No.257, p.4, July 1952; compilation: ‘Lights of Guidance’)

August 10, 2016

The site for the House of Worship in India and an ancient village named Bahapur “the Abode of Baha”

During the Ten Year World Crusade, twenty-two acres of land in New Delhi were acquired as a site for a House of Worship. In the process of demarcating the boundaries, it was discovered that the land was part of an ancient village named Bahapur, meaning "the Abode of Baha". In Hindustani, a dialect of Hindi, Baha means "a channel" or "a water course". By a happy coincidence, Baha is Arabic for "light", 'splendour", or "glory" and is a form of Bahá'u'lláh's name. Later the government requisitioned the property for use as a greenbelt area. After several years of constant negotiation by the National Spiritual Assembly of India, and upon viewing the beautiful design for the Temple, the government agreed to release the entire twenty-two acres. 
(Footnote to a cablegram from the Universal House of justice dated 13 October 1977 published in ‘Messages from the Universal House of justice 1963-1986’)

August 7, 2016

“The Bahá'í work for the reconstruction of human society” – an explanation by the Universal House of Justice

The first step in the reconstruction of human society is for individuals to accept Bahá'u'lláh as the Manifestation of God for this age and to begin to strive, as well as they can, to follow His Teachings in their individual and in their communal lives. Conversion is but the first step, yet it is the essential one. Without it no amount of expertise or scientifically based knowledge will have a lasting effect, because the fundamental motivating and sustaining power will be lacking.

As the Bahá'í community grows it will acquire experts in numerous fields -- both by Bahá'ís becoming experts and by experts becoming Bahá'ís. As these experts bring their knowledge and skill to the service of the community and, even more, as they transform their various disciplines by bringing to bear upon them the light of the Divine Teachings, problem after problem now disrupting society will be answered. In such developments they should strive to make the utmost use of non-Bahá'í resources and should collaborate fully with non-Bahá'ís who are working in the same fields. Such collaboration will, in the long run, be of far more benefit than any attempt now to treat such scientific endeavours as specifically Bahá'í projects operating under Bahá'í institutions and financed by investment of Bahá'í funds.

August 2, 2016

How to conduct a meaningful conversation to attract a soul to the Faith – advice from May Maxwell

We must first touch the heart to awaken it; if it opens and responds we must sow the priceless seed .... Prepare the soil with the warmth of your love just as the sun prepares the soil in the spring or the seed would not grow. Remove the stones and weeds ... that is to say, in a kind way try to remove prejudices.... Uproot narrow superstitions by suggesting broader, deeper ideas. Never oppose people's ideas and statements, but give them a little nobler way of seeing life. Such words and thoughts will take effect because they come from a Baha'i whose life flows from the Source of all life on earth today. . . . My great and wise teacher, Mirza 'Abu'l-Fadl, laid down these divine principles of teaching in my soul... and they have changed all my attitude. He showed me that it is the Spirit of God that is doing the work; we must wait upon the Spirit and do Its bidding only. 
- May Maxwell  (From a letter dated 1915 quoted in the 'In-Memoriam' section of ‘The Baha’i World 1938-1940’)