July 24, 2017

“The prime requisites for them that take counsel together”

The prime requisites for them that take counsel together are
  • purity of motive,
  • radiance of spirit,
  • detachment from all else save God,
  • attraction to His Divine Fragrances,
  • humility and lowliness amongst His loved ones,
  • patience and long-suffering in difficulties and
  • servitude to His exalted Threshold.
Should they be graciously aided to acquire these attributes, victory from the unseen Kingdom of Bahá shall be vouchsafed to them.... 
- `Abdu'l-Bahá  (Cited in a letter dated 5 March 1922 written by Shoghi Effendi to the Bahá'ís of the United States and Canada, published in ‘Bahá'í Administration: Selected Messages 1922-1932’; The Compilation of Compilations, Vol. I, Consultation)

July 22, 2017

"The most glorious fruit of the tree of knowledge..."

The most glorious fruit of the tree of knowledge is this exalted word: Of one tree are all ye the fruit, and of one bough the leaves. Let not man glory in this that he loveth his country, let him rather glory in this that he loveth his kind. 
- Baha’u’llah  (‘Tablets of Baha’u’llah revealed after the Kitab-i-Aqdas’)

July 19, 2017

Counsellors and Auxiliary Board members “do not direct or organize the teaching work nor do they adjudicate in matters of personal conflict or personal problems”

Assemblies sometimes misunderstand what is meant by the statement that Counsellors and Auxiliary Board members are concerned with the teaching work and not with administration. It is taken to mean that they may not give advice on administrative matters. This is quite wrong. One of the things that Counsellors and Auxiliary Board members should watch and report on is the proper working of administrative institutions. The statement that they do not have anything to do with administration means, simply, that they do not administer. They do not direct or organize the teaching work nor do they adjudicate in matters of personal conflict or personal problems. All these activities fall within the sphere of responsibility of the Spiritual Assemblies. But if an Auxiliary Board member finds a Local Spiritual Assembly functioning incorrectly he should call its attention to the appropriate Texts; likewise if, in his work with the community, an Auxiliary Board member finds that the teaching work is being held up by inefficiency of national committees, he should report this in detail to the Counsellors who will then decide whether to refer it to the National Spiritual Assembly concerned. Similarly, if the Counsellors find that a National Spiritual Assembly is not functioning properly, they should not hesitate to consult with the National Spiritual Assembly about this in a frank and loving way. 
- The Universal House of Justice  (From a message dated 1 October 1969; ‘Messages from the Universal House of justice, 1963-1986’)

July 17, 2017

“The Faith of God is the sole source of salvation for mankind today.”

The Faith of God is the sole source of salvation for mankind today. The true cause of the ills of humanity is its disunity. No matter how perfect may be the machinery devised by the leaders of men for the political unity of the world, it will still not provide the antidote to the poison sapping the vigour of present-day society. These ills can be cured only through the instrumentality of God's Faith. There are many well-wishers of mankind who devote their efforts to relief work and charity and to the material well-being of man, but only Baha'is can do the work which God most wants done. When we devote ourselves to the work of the Faith we are doing a work which is the greatest aid and only refuge for a needy and divided world. 
- The Universal House of Justice  (From a message dated 8 February 1970; ‘Messages from the Universal House of Justice, 1963-1986’)

July 14, 2017

Conditions under which a Baha’i can defend his own life - the Universal House of Justice explains

From the texts you already have available it is clear that Bahá'u'lláh has stated that it is preferable to be killed in the path of God's good pleasure than to kill, and that organized religious attack against Bahá'ís should never turn into any kind of warfare, as this is strictly prohibited in our Writings.

A hitherto untranslated Tablet from 'Abdu'l-Bahá, however, points out that in the case of attack by robbers and highwaymen, a Bahá'í should not surrender himself, but should try, as far as circumstances permit, to defend himself, and later on lodge a complaint with the government authorities. In a letter written on behalf of the Guardian, he also indicates that in an emergency when there is no legal force at hand to appeal to, a Bahá'í is justified in defending his life. In another letter the Guardian has further pointed out that the assault of an irresponsible assailant upon a Bahá'í should be resisted by the Bahá'í, who would be justified, under such circumstances, in protecting his life.

The House of Justice does not wish at the present time to go beyond the guidelines given in the above-mentioned statements. The question is basically a matter of conscience, and in each case the Bahá'í involved must use his judgement in determining when to stop in self-defence lest his action deteriorate into retaliation. 
- The Universal House of Justice  (From a letter dated 10 July 1969 to NSA of Canada; ‘Messages from the Universal House of Justice 1963-1986’)

July 12, 2017

Transition of soul from this world to the next

O thou who hast eyes to see! That which thou didst witness is the very truth, and it pertaineth to the realm of vision.

The perfume is intimately commingled and blended with the bud, and once the bud hath opened the sweet scent of it is spread abroad. The herb is not without its fruit, although it seemeth so, for in this garden of God every plant exerteth its own influence and hath its own properties, and every plant can even match the laughing, hundred-petalled rose in rejoicing the sense with its fragrance. Be thou assured of this. Although the pages of a book know nothing of the words and the meanings traced upon them, even so, because of their connection with these words, friends pass them reverently from hand to hand. This connection, furthermore, is purest bounty.

When the human soul soareth out of this transient heap of dust and riseth into the world of God, then veils will fall away, and verities will come to light, and all things unknown before will be made clear, and hidden truths be understood.

Consider how a being, in the world of the womb, was deaf of ear and blind of eye, and mute of tongue; how he was bereft of any perceptions at all. But once, out of that world of darkness, he passed into this world of light, then his eye saw, his ear heard, his tongue spoke. In the same way, once he hath hastened away from this mortal place into the Kingdom of God, then he will be born in the spirit; then the eye of his perception will open, the ear of his soul will hearken, and all the truths of which he was ignorant before will be made plain and clear.

An observant traveller passing along a way will certainly recall his discoveries to mind, unless some accident befall him and efface the memory. 
- ‘Abdu’l-Baha  (‘Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Baha’)

July 9, 2017

The awesome station of the Báb

“I am the Primal Point,” the Báb thus addresses Muhammad Sháh from the prison-fortress of Máh-Kú, “from which have been generated all created things... I am the Countenance of God Whose splendor can never be obscured, the light of God whose radiance can never fade... All the keys of heaven God hath chosen to place on My right hand, and all the keys of hell on My left... I am one of the sustaining pillars of the Primal Word of God. Whosoever hath recognized Me, hath known all that is true and right, and hath attained all that is good and seemly... The substance wherewith God hath created Me is not the clay out of which others have been formed. He hath conferred upon Me that which the worldly-wise can never comprehend, nor the faithful discover.” “Should a tiny ant,” the Báb, wishing to stress the limitless potentialities latent in His Dispensation, characteristically affirms, “desire in this day to be possessed of such power as to be able to unravel the abstrusest and most bewildering passages of the Qur’án, its wish will no doubt be fulfilled, inasmuch as the mystery of eternal might vibrates within the innermost being of all created things.” “If so helpless a creature,” is ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s comment on so startling an affirmation, “can be endowed with so subtle a capacity, how much more efficacious must be the power released through the liberal effusions of the grace of Bahá’u’lláh!” 
- Shoghi Effendi  (‘The Dispensation of Baha’u’llah’)

July 6, 2017

How one’s attitude and mindset should be towards God - Baha’u’llah teaches

Praise be unto Thee, Who art my God and the God of all men, and
  • my Desire and the Desire of all them that have recognized Thee, and
  • my Beloved and the Beloved of such as have acknowledged Thy unity, and
  • the Object of my adoration and of the adoration of them that have near access to Thee, and
  • my Wish and the Wish of such as are wholly devoted to Thee, and
  • my Hope and the Hope of them that have fixed their hearts upon Thee, and
  • my Refuge and the Refuge of all such as have hastened towards Thee, and
  • my Haven and the Haven of whosoever hath repaired unto Thee, and
  • my Goal and the Goal of all them that have set themselves towards Thee, and
  • my Object and the Object of those who have fixed their gaze upon Thee, and
  • my Paradise and the Paradise of them that have ascended towards Thee, and
  • my Lode-star and the Lode-star of all such as yearn after Thee, and
  • my Joy and the Joy of all them that love Thee, and
  • my Light and the Light of all such as have erred and asked to be forgiven by Thee, and
  • my Exultation and the Exultation of all them that remember Thee, and
  • my Stronghold and the Stronghold of all such as have fled to Thee, and
  • my Sanctuary and the Sanctuary of all that dread Thee, and
  • my Lord and the Lord of all such as dwell in the heavens and on the earth!
- Baha’u’llah  (‘Prayers and Meditations by Baha’u’llah’)

July 3, 2017

True life is the life of the spirit

…true life is not the life of the flesh but the life of the spirit. For the life of the flesh is common to both men and animals, whereas the life of the spirit is possessed only by the pure in heart who have quaffed from the ocean of faith and partaken of the fruit of certitude. This life knoweth no death, and this existence is crowned by immortality. 
- Baha’u’llah  (‘The Kitan-i-Iqan’)

June 30, 2017

Functions of Regional Bahá'í Councils – described by the Universal House of Justice

The functions of a Regional Bahá'í Council and the degree of authority conferred upon it are within the discretion of a National Spiritual Assembly. However, they should not be limited to those of a national or regional committee for, in such a case, there would be no justification for bringing into being a Regional Bahá'í Council rather than appointing a national or regional committee. The functions and responsibilities generally envisaged for a Regional Bahá'í Council are as follows:
  • 1. To carry out the policies of the National Spiritual Assembly and to supervise, on behalf of the National Assembly, the smooth and efficient execution of the plans and projects for its region.
  • 2. To keep the National Spiritual Assembly regularly informed of the Council's activities and of the conditions of the Faith throughout the region. Regional Bahá'í Councils are allowed to develop their own strategies and programmes, and to carry out their day-to-day work without having to obtain further approval from the National Spiritual Assembly. However, through their frequent reports and the minutes of their meetings, the National Assembly is kept informed of their activities and maintains its overall supervision of the affairs of the Cause in all parts of the country.
  • 3. To take initiative in the promotion of the Faith in the region and to carry out its decisions within the range of authority vested in it by the National Assembly. The National Assembly allows the Council a wide latitude for autonomous action, intervening in its work only in matters which the Assembly regards as being of major importance. The main task of a Regional Bahá'í Council is to devise and execute expansion and consolidation plans in close collaboration with the Local Spiritual Assemblies and the believers within its area of jurisdiction. Its goal is to create strong Local Spiritual Assemblies which will be the focal centres of Bahá'í activity, will exercise their vitally important role in the development of the Faith and will demonstrate their ability to regulate the affairs of their local communities.

June 25, 2017

Illnesses due to physical causes and those due to spiritual causes

Illnesses which occur by reason of physical causes should be treated by doctors with medical remedies; those which are due to spiritual causes disappear through spiritual means. Thus an illness caused by affliction, fear, nervous impressions, will be healed more effectively by spiritual rather than by physical treatment. Hence, both kinds of treatment should be followed; they are not contradictory. Therefore thou shouldst also accept physical remedies inasmuch as these too have come from the mercy and favour of God, Who hath revealed and made manifest medical science so that His servants may profit from this kind of treatment also. Thou shouldst give equal attention to spiritual treatments, for they produce marvellous effects. 
- ‘Abdu’l-Baha  (‘Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Baha’)

June 23, 2017

‘Abdu’l-Baha identifies the range of topics covered in His public Talks during His Travels

Notwithstanding my bodily weakness and infirmity, I have traveled East and West for the last three years. In every temple I cried out and before every audience I raised my voice for the enlistment of their sympathy. I declared the evils of war, and explained the benefits of Universal Peace. I elucidated the causes which lead to the honor and glory of the world of humanity, and told them of the ferocity and bloodthirstiness of the animal kingdom. I showed the defects of the world of nature and made an exposition of the means whereby the illumination of the world of humanity is fully realized. I unfolded and caused the appearance of the foundation of the divine religions, and proclaimed the teachings of His Holiness Baha’u’llah. I demonstrated the existence of God by irrefutable, rational proofs, and proved the validity of all the prophets of God. I gave utterance to my inmost conviction that the reality of the religion of God is the cause of the life of the world of humanity; it is divine civilization and pure enlightenment.

By the explanation of all these principles my object has been no other than the promotion of Universal Peace. Praise be to God that I found hearing ears, observed seeing eyes, and discovered informed hearts. Therefore, I am well pleased with this journey. 
- ‘Abdu’l-Baha  (From a Tablet to the Editor of the Christian Commonwealth, London, England, 1913; ‘Star of the West’, vol. 5, no. 8, August 1, 1914)

June 21, 2017

Baha’u’llah’s awesome reference to the Station of the Báb and His Own

Praise be unto God Who hath manifested the Point, hath unfolded therefrom the knowledge of all things, whether of the past or of the future—a Point He hath chosen to be the Herald of His Name and the Harbinger of His Great Revelation which hath caused the limbs of all mankind to quake and the splendour of His light to shine forth above the horizon of the world. Verily, this is the Point which God hath ordained to be an ocean of light for the sincere among His servants and a flame of fire to the froward amidst His creatures and the impious among His people… 
- Baha’u’llah  (‘Tablets of Baha’u’llah revealed after the Kitab-i-Aqdas’)

June 18, 2017

Wisdom of facing Akka when reciting Obligatory Prayers

He would advise you to only use the short midday Obligatory Prayer. This has no genuflections and only requires that when saying it the believer turn his face towards 'Akká where Bahá'u'lláh is buried. This is a physical symbol of an inner reality, just as the plant stretches out to the sunlight -- from which it receives life and growth -- so we turn our hearts to the Manifestation of God, Bahá'u'lláh, when we pray; and we turn our faces, during this short prayer, to where His dust lies on this earth as a symbol of the inner act. 
- Shoghi Effendi  (From a letter dated 24 June 1949 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer; The Compilation of Compilations, Vol. II, The Importance of Prayer, Meditation and the Devotional Attitude)

June 12, 2017

The “two essential mediums” through which one “can ensure the development and progress” of her/his “inner spiritual life” as well as “outer existence”

His brotherly advice to you, and to all loyal and ardent young believers like you, is that you should deepen your knowledge of the history and of the tenets of the Faith, not merely by means of careful and thorough study, but also through active, whole-hearted and continued participation in all the activities, whether administrative or otherwise, of your community. The Bahá'í community life provides you with an indispensable laboratory, where you can translate into living and constructive action the principles which you imbibe from the Teachings. By becoming a real part of that living organism you can catch the real spirit which runs throughout the Bahá'í Teachings. To study the principles, and to try to live according to them, are, therefore, the two essential mediums through which you can ensure the development and progress of your inner spiritual life and of your outer existence as well. May Bahá'u'lláh enable you to attain this high station, and may He keep the torch of faith for ever burning in your heart! 
- Shoghi Effendi  (From a letter dated 2 November 1933 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer; The Compilation of Compilations, vol. II, Youth)

June 8, 2017

The Soul of the Manifestation of God is “pre-existent”

The Prophets, unlike us, are pre-existent. The Soul of Christ existed in the spiritual world before His birth in this world. We cannot imagine what that world is like, so words are inadequate to picture His state of being. 
- Shoghi Effendi  (From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, October 9, 1947; compilation: 'Lights of Guidance')

June 6, 2017

The two wings of humanity

The world of humanity is possessed of two wings: the male and the female. So long as these two wings are not equivalent in strength, the bird will not fly. Until womankind reaches the same degree as man, until she enjoys the same arena of activity, extraordinary attainment for humanity will not be realized; humanity cannot wing its way to heights of real attainment. When the two wings or parts become equivalent in strength, enjoying the same prerogatives, the flight of man will be exceedingly lofty and extraordinary. Therefore, woman must receive the same education as man and all inequality be adjusted. Thus, imbued with the same virtues as man, rising through all the degrees of human attainment, women will become the peers of men, and until this equality is established, true progress and attainment for the human race will not be facilitated. 
- ‘Abdu’l-Baha  (From a talk, ’The Promulgation of Universal Peace: Talks Delivered by 'Abdu'l-Bahá during His Visit to the United States and Canada in 1912’; The Compilation of Compilations, Vol. II, Peace)

June 3, 2017

To remind ourselves that “though but a mere handful amidst the seething masses of the world, we are in this day the chosen instruments of God’s grace…”

Let us pray to God that in these days of world-encircling gloom, when the dark forces of nature, of hate, rebellion, anarchy and reaction are threatening the very stability of human society, when the most precious fruits of civilization are undergoing severe and unparalleled tests, we may all realize, more profoundly than ever, that though but a mere handful amidst the seething masses of the world, we are in this day the chosen instruments of God’s grace, that our mission is most urgent and vital to the fate of humanity, and, fortified by these sentiments, arise to achieve God’s holy purpose for mankind. 
- Shoghi Effendi  (Excerpt from a letter dated 14 November 1923 to the Baha’is throughout America, ‘Baha’i Administration’)

May 29, 2017

Human soul - after death, it “remains in the degree of purity to which it has evolved during life in the physical body”

As to the soul of man after death, it remains in the degree of purity to which it has evolved during life in the physical body, and after it is freed from the body it remains plunged in the ocean of God’s Mercy.

From the moment the soul leaves the body and arrives in the Heavenly World, its evolution is spiritual, and that evolution is: The approaching unto God.

In the physical creation, evolution is from one degree of perfection to another. The mineral passes with its mineral perfections to the vegetable; the vegetable, with its perfections, passes to the animal world, and so on to that of humanity. This world is full of seeming contradictions; in each of these kingdoms (mineral, vegetable and animal) life exists in its degree; though when compared to the life in a man, the earth appears to be dead, yet she, too, lives and has a life of her own. In this world things live and die, and live again in other forms of life, but in the world of the spirit it is quite otherwise.

The soul does not evolve from degree to degree as a law—it only evolves nearer to God, by the Mercy and Bounty of God. 
- ‘Abdu’l-Baha  (From a talk, November 3, 1911, Paris; ‘Paris Talks’)

May 24, 2017

The process of learning: --> Questions that must be addressed through exploration of the Writings of the Faith as well as through scientific analysis of patterns unfolding

Numerous, of course, are the questions that the process of learning, now under way in all regions of the world, must address:
  • how to bring people of different backgrounds together in an environment which, devoid of the constant threat of conflict and distinguished by its devotional character, encourages them to put aside the divisive ways of a partisan mindset, fosters higher degrees of unity of thought and action, and elicits wholehearted participation;
  • how to administer the affairs of a community in which there is no ruling class with priestly functions that can lay claim to distinction or privilege;
  • how to enable contingents of men and women to break free from the confines of passivity and the chains of oppression in order to engage in activities conducive to their spiritual, social and intellectual development;
  • how to help youth navigate through a crucial stage of their lives and become empowered to direct their energies towards the advancement of civilization;
  • how to create dynamics within the family unit that lead to material and spiritual prosperity without instilling in the rising generations feelings of estrangement towards an illusory "other" or nurturing any instinct to exploit those relegated to this category;
  • how to make it possible for decision making to benefit from a diversity of perspectives through a consultative process which, understood as the collective investigation of reality, promotes detachment from personal views, gives due importance to valid empirical information, does not raise mere opinion to the status of fact or define truth as the compromise between opposing interest groups.

May 22, 2017

One’s own ongoing spiritual growth and development while attempting to conduct meaningful conversations

“With greater and greater spiritual perception, they are able to sense receptivity and recognize thirst for the vivifying waters of Bahá’u’lláh’s message.” (The Universal House of Justice, 27 December 2005, to the Conference of the Continental Boards of Counsellors)

“As a person cultivates the habit of study and deep reflection upon the Creative Word, this process of transformation reveals itself in an ability to express one’s understanding of profound concepts and to explore spiritual reality in conversations of significance.” (The Universal House of Justice, 29 Dec, 2015, to the Conference of the Continental Boards of Counsellors)

May 20, 2017

How to “become a focal centre reflecting the Manifest Light” – ‘Abdu’l-Baha explains

O Friends of the Pure and Omnipotent God! To be pure and holy in all things is an attribute of the consecrated soul and a necessary characteristic of the unenslaved mind. The best of perfections is immaculacy and the freeing of oneself from every defect. Once the individual is, in every respect, cleansed and purified, then will he become a focal centre reflecting the Manifest Light.

First in a human being’s way of life must be purity, then freshness, cleanliness, and independence of spirit. First must the stream bed be cleansed, then may the sweet river waters be led into it. Chaste eyes enjoy the beatific vision of the Lord and know what this encounter meaneth; a pure sense inhaleth the fragrances that blow from the rose gardens of His grace; a burnished heart will mirror forth the comely face of truth. 
- ‘Abdu’l-Baha  (‘Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Baha’)

May 15, 2017

Talks of ‘Abdu’l-Baha – which ones form “a part of Bahá'í Scripture”?

The original of "Some Answered Questions" in Persian is preserved in the Holy Land; its text was read in full and corrected by ‘Abdu'l-Bahá Himself. Unfortunately, Abdu'l-Bahá did not read and authenticate all transcripts of His other talks, some of which have been translated into various languages and published. For many of His addresses included in "The Promulgation of Universal Peace" and "Paris Talks", for example, no original authenticated text has yet been found. However, the Guardian allowed such compilations to continue to be used by the friends. In the future each talk will have to be identified and those which are unauthenticated will have to be clearly distinguished from those which form a part of Bahá'í Scripture. This does not mean that the unauthenticated talks will have to cease to be used -- merely that the degree of authenticity of every document will have to be known and understood. (From a letter dated 23 March 1987 written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice included in a Memorandum from the Research Department of the Universal House of Justice, dated 28 March 1996 attached to a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, dated 22 October, 1996)

May 10, 2017

An example of how the wishes of the Manifestation of God are carried out regardless of physical obstacles: --> Baha’u’llah decides to send Táhirih to Khurásán

A few days after Táhirih’s arrival at Tihrán, [circa 1848] Bahá’u’lláh decided to send her to Khurásán in the company of the believers who were preparing to depart for that province. He too had determined to leave the capital and take the same direction a few days later. He accordingly summoned Áqáy-i-Kalím and instructed him to take immediately the necessary measures to ensure the removal of Táhirih, together with her woman attendant, Qanitih, to a place outside the gate of the capital, from whence they were, later on, to proceed to Khurásán. He cautioned him to exercise the utmost care and vigilance lest the guards who were stationed at the entrance of the city, and who had been ordered to refuse the passage of women through the gates without a permit, should discover her identity and prevent her departure.

I [Nabil] have heard Áqáy-i-Kalím recount the following:

April 30, 2017

One’s “good works should proceed from knowledge”

Pleasing and acceptable as is a righteous person before God's Holy Threshold, yet good works should proceed from knowledge. However matchless and exquisite may be a blind man's handiwork, yet he himself is deprived of seeing it. How sorely do certain animals labour on man's behalf, what loads they bear for him, how greatly they contribute to his ease and comfort; and yet, because they are unwitting, they earn no recompense for all their pains. The clouds rain down their bounty, nurturing the plants and flowers, and imparting verdure and enchantment to the plain and prairie, the forest and the garden; but yet, unconscious as they are of the results and fruit of their outpourings, they win no praise or honour, nor earn the gratitude and approbation of any man. The lamp imparteth light, but as it hath no consciousness of doing so, no one is indebted to it. This apart, a man of righteous deeds and goodly conduct will assuredly turn towards the Light, in whichever quarter he behold it. The point is this, that faith compriseth both knowledge and the performance of good works. 
- ‘Abdu’l-Baha  (A revised translation of a Tablet in ‘Tablets of ‘Abdu’l-Baha, vol. 3, p. 549’; included in a Memorandum from the Research Department of the Universal House of Justice, dated 28 March 1996 attached to a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, dated 22 October, 1996)

April 27, 2017

A PowerPoint presentation of some teachings of the Baha’i Faith

This document was used along with some background instrumental music, as part of the First Day Ridvan celebration in one community. Readers were assigned for some quotes to make the experience more interactive.

April 26, 2017

Helping the needy

Regarding the question you raised: in the first place every believer is free to follow the dictates of his own conscience as regards the manner in which he should spend his own money. Secondly, we must always bear in mind that there are so few Bahá'ís in the world, relative to the world's population, and so many people in need, that even if all of us gave all we had, it would not alleviate more than an infinitesimal amount of suffering. This does not mean we must not help the needy, we should; but our contributions to the Faith are the surest way of lifting once and for all time the burden of hunger and misery from mankind, for it is only through the System of Bahá'u'lláh — Divine in origin — that the world can be gotten on its feet and want, fear, hunger, war, etc., be eliminated. Non-Bahá'ís cannot contribute to our work or do it for us; so really our first obligation is to support our own teaching work, as this will lead to the healing of the nations. 
- Shoghi Effendi  (From a letter dated 8 December 1947 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, published in "Bahá'í News" 210, August 1948; The Compilation of Compilations, vol. I, Baha’i Funds and Contributions)

April 23, 2017

Baha'u'llah delineates “the fundamental principles for the administration of the affairs” of humanity

Whilst in the Prison of Akká, We revealed in the Crimson Book that which is conducive to the advancement of mankind and to the reconstruction of the world. The utterances set forth therein by the Pen of the Lord of creation include the following which constitute the fundamental principles for the administration of the affairs of men:

First: It is incumbent upon the ministers of the House of Justice to promote the Lesser Peace so that the people of the earth may be relieved from the burden of exorbitant expenditures. This matter is imperative and absolutely essential, inasmuch as hostilities and conflict lie at the root of affliction and calamity.

Second: Languages must be reduced to one common language to be taught in all the schools of the world.

Third: It behoveth man to adhere tenaciously unto that which will promote fellowship, kindliness and unity.

Fourth: Everyone, whether man or woman, should hand over to a trusted person a portion of what he or she earneth through trade, agriculture or other occupation, for the training and education of children, to be spent for this purpose with the knowledge of the Trustees of the House of Justice.

Fifth: Special regard must be paid to agriculture. Although it hath been mentioned in the fifth place, unquestionably it precedeth the others...

April 20, 2017

Meaning of self-sacrifice...

Regarding the questions you asked: self has really two meanings, or is used in two senses, in the Bahá'í writings; one is self, the identity of the individual created by God. This is the self mentioned in such passages as "he hath known God who hath known himself", etc. The other self is the ego, the dark, animalistic heritage each one of us has, the lower nature that can develop into a monster of selfishness, brutality, lust and so on. It is this self we must struggle against, or this side of our natures, in order to strengthen and free the spirit within us and help it to attain perfection.

Self-sacrifice means to subordinate this lower nature and its desires to the more godly and noble side of our selves. Ultimately, in its highest sense, self-sacrifice means to give our will and our all to God to do with as He pleases. Then He purifies and glorifies our true self until it becomes a shining and wonderful reality. 
- Shoghi Effendi  (From a letter dated 10 December 1947 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer; The Compilation of Compilations, vol. II, Living the Life)

April 17, 2017

Imitations and superstitions have obscured the Reality of Divine Religion

...humanity is submerged so utterly in imitations, although the Reality of Divine Religion is ever the same. Most regrettable is it that superstitions have obscured the Reality, so that the world has become darkened and the illumination of Religion is not apparent. This darkness is conducive to differences because dogmas and rites are various and have become the cause of discord between the religious systems whereas Religion is for the unification of mankind. Religion is the cause of love amongst men, the cause of amity, the cause of the acquisition of praiseworthy qualities, but people have become submerged in the sea of imitation, and holding to these counterfeits, are utterly negligent of the Reality which unifies and are bereft of the radiance of Religion. They are holding to superstitions which are a heritage from their fathers and ancestors. To the extent that these imitations have caused darkness, they have taken away the light of Religion. That which was meant to be conducive of life has become conducive of death; that which was an evidence of knowledge has become a proof of ignorance; that which was a factor in the sublimity of human nature has proved to be a cause of its degradation. Therefore, the realm of the religionist has gradually disappeared and become darkened and the world of the materialist has daily advanced. For that which the former held to was no other than counterfeit or imitation, while holiness and sacred Reality of Religion was neglected and discarded.

April 13, 2017

Aims and ambitions of Bahá'ís...

  • Pity and good-will towards all mankind.
  • The rendering of service to humanity.
  • To guide and enlighten hearts.
  • Each member must try to be kind to everyone and to show forth great affection towards every living soul.
  • Humility towards God and constant prayer to Him so as to be enabled to grow daily "Nearer God".
  • Always in every word and action to be faithful and sincere, so that each member may be known to the world as embodying the qualities of Sincerity, Faith, Kindness, Love, Generosity and Bravery. That we may be detached from all that is not God, attracted by the Heavenly Breath, divine beings - so that the world may know that a Bahá'í is a perfect being.
- ‘Abdu’l-Baha  (Notes of words of ‘Abdu’l-Baha, 6 November 1911, Paris, France: compilation: ‘Discourses of ‘Abdu’l-Baha in London and Paris’; Star of the West, vol. 2, no. 19, March 2, 1912)

April 11, 2017

The Pathway of Religion…

The… pathway… of religion… is the pathway of the Divine realm. It involves the acquisition of praiseworthy attributes in the world of humanity, heavenly radiance and commendable actions. This pathway is conducive to the progress and upliftment of the world. It is the source of the illumination of the world of humanity; the cause of human training and ethical improvement. It is the magnet which attracts the love of God, because of the knowledge of God it bestows. This is the foundation of the Holy Manifestations of God, for they are in reality the foundation of the Divine Religion of Oneness. There is no change or transformation in this pathway. It is the cause of human betterment, the acquisition of heavenly virtues, and illumination of human kind. 
- 'Abdu'l-Baha  (From a talk, June 9, 1912, Baptist Temple, Philadelphia; Star of the West, vol. 5, no. 7, July 13, 1914)

April 9, 2017

"What is a functioning Local Spiritual Assembly"?

The first Bahá’í Local Spiritual Assembly in Samoa, 1957
In reply to your letter of July 14th asking guidance as to what is a functioning Local Spiritual Assembly, we offer you the following comments:

Local Spiritual Assemblies are at the present newly-born institutions, struggling for the most part to establish themselves both in the Bahá'í community and in the world. They are as yet only embryos of the majestic institutions ordained by Bahá'u'lláh in His Writings This is also true of National Spiritual Assemblies. In the following passage written by the Secretary of the Guardian on his behalf this point is elucidated:

The Bahá'í Administration is only the first shaping of what in future will come to be the social life and laws of community living. As yet the believers are only just beginning to grasp and practise it properly. So we must have patience if at times it seems a little self-conscious and rigid in its workings. It is because we are learning something very difficult but very wonderful -- how to live together as a community of Bahá'ís, according to the glorious teachings."

April 5, 2017

Our “vain imaginations have been split asunder” by the “most exalted Word” of God brought to humanity by Baha’u’llah

Do Thou, then, ordain for them that which Thou didst ordain for Thy chosen ones and for the righteous among Thy creatures, whose constancy in Thy Cause the tempests of trials have failed to shake, and whom the tumults of tests have been powerless to hinder from magnifying Thy most exalted Word—the Word through Which the heavens of men’s idle fancies and vain imaginations have been split asunder. Thou art, verily, the Almighty, the All-Glorious, the All-Knowing. 
- Baha’u’llah  (Extract from a prayer; ‘Prayers and meditations by Baha’u’llah’) 

April 2, 2017

Divinity can only be approached through the Manifestations of God – a brief compilation by Hand of the Cause Mr. Furutan

The Báb has stated in the Persian Bayan:

“Verily, whatsoever hath been revealed by God about attaining His presence or that of the Lord, is intended to be a reference to none other than Him Whom God shall make manifest [Bahá’u’lláh] inasmuch as God Himself cannot be seen.” (III, 7.)

“Whatsoever hath been mentioned in the Holy Books about attainment unto His Presence, referreth to the Presence of Him Who appeareth in His Manifestation; that is, He Who is the Point of Truth, Who is and hath been the Primal Will. (ibid.)

“And those people whom thou seest calling upon God, and who, between themselves and God, think of themselves as virtuous, are, one and all, lost in the realms of their idle fancies and vain imaginings. They call upon One Who is unknown to them. (The Báb, Kitáb-i-Panj-Sha'n)

And the Blessed Beauty has said:

March 27, 2017

“one way every Bahá'í can spread the Faith”

Not all of us are capable of serving in the same way, but the one way every Bahá'í can spread the Faith is by example. This moves the hearts of people far more deeply than words ever can.

The love we show others, the hospitality and understanding, the willingness to help them, these are the very best advertisements of the Faith. They will want to hear about it when they see these things in our lives. 
- Shoghi Effendi   (From a letter dated 17 March 1943 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer; The Compilation of Compilations, vol. II, Living the Life)

March 18, 2017

Prayer for Assistance - “each one who endeavors for the erection of the House of the Lord”

1920 -- Boring commenced at the 
site of Mashriqu'l-Adhkar, Chicago
O God! O God! I implore Thee with throbbing heart and streaming tears, to aid each one who endeavors for the erection of the House of the Lord (Mashriqu’l-Adhkar), the Building wherein Thy Name is mentioned every morn and eve. Send down Thy benediction on whomsoever endeavors for the uprising of this Edifice among the sects and religions, and confirm him in every good deed of mankind; open the doors of riches and wealth unto him and make him an inheritor of the treasures of the Kingdom which perish not; make him the sign of giving among the peoples and reinforce him by the sea of Thy generosity and bounty, which is surging with the waves of grace and favor.

Verily, Thou art the Generous, the Merciful and the Bountiful!

‘Abdu’l-Baha  (Star of the West, vol. 5, no. 5, June 5, 1914)

March 14, 2017

To “realize our imperfection”

We must realize our imperfection and not permit ourselves to get too upset over the unfortunate things which occur, sometimes in Conventions, sometimes in Assemblies or on Committees, etc. Such things are essentially superficial and in time will be outgrown. 
- Shoghi Effendi  (From a letter dated 17 March 1943 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer; The Compilation of Compilations, vol. II, Living the Life)

March 9, 2017

To free oneself from “worldliness in its essence”

Say:  He from whom, in this day, the sweet savours of the remembrance of His Lord, the All-Merciful, have not been diffused, is indeed unworthy of the station of man. He, verily, is of them that have followed their own desires, and shall erelong find himself in grievous loss. Doth it behove you to relate yourselves to Him Who is the God of mercy, and yet commit the things which the Evil One hath committed? Nay, by the Beauty of Him Who is the All-Glorified! could ye but know it. Purge your hearts from love of the world, and your tongues from calumny, and your limbs from whatsoever may withhold you from drawing nigh unto God, the Mighty, the All-Praised. Say: By the world is meant that which turneth you aside from Him Who is the Dawning-Place of Revelation, and inclineth you unto that which is unprofitable unto you. Verily, the thing that deterreth you, in this day, from God is worldliness in its essence. Eschew it, and approach the Most Sublime Vision, this shining and resplendent Seat. Blessed is he who alloweth nothing whatsoever to intervene between him and his Lord. No harm, assuredly, can befall him if he partaketh with justice of the benefits of this world, inasmuch as We have created all things for such of Our servants as truly believe in God. 
- Baha'u'llah  (Tablet to Napoleon III, Suriy-i-Haykal [Tablet of Temple]; ‘The Summons of the Lord of Hosts’)

March 3, 2017

April 1930: Martha Root with Baha'is of Shiraz, Iran

Martha Root (standing, back row, center) was the honored guest at a celebration for the Twelfth Day of Ridvan, Shiraz, Iran, 1930

March 1, 2017

The “sun” and “moon” of the “religion of God”

Verily, the religion of God is like unto heaven; fasting is its sun, and obligatory prayer is its moon.
- Baha’u’llah  (Compilation: 'The Importance of Obligatory Prayer and Fasting', prepared by the Research Department of the Universal House of Justice)

February 28, 2017

The training of girls – a broad outline by the Master

Praised be God, the women believers have organized meetings where they will learn how to teach the Faith, will spread the sweet savours of the Teachings and make plans for training the children.

This gathering must be completely spiritual. That is, the discussions must be confined to marshalling clear and conclusive proofs that the Sun of Truth hath indeed arisen. And further, those present should concern themselves with every means of training the girl children; with
  • teaching the various branches of knowledge,
  • good behaviour,
  • a proper way of life,
  • the cultivation of a good character,
  • chastity and constancy,
  • perseverance, strength,
  • determination,
  • firmness of purpose;
  • with household management,
  • the education of children, and
  • whatever especially applieth to the needs of girls—to the end that these girls, reared in the stronghold of all perfections, and with the protection of a goodly character, will, when they themselves become mothers, bring up their children from earliest infancy to have a good character and conduct themselves well.
  • Let them also study
    • whatever will nurture the health of the body and its physical soundness,
    • and how to guard their children from disease.
When matters are thus well arranged, every child will become a peerless plant in the gardens of the Abhá Paradise. 
- ‘Abdu’l-Baha  (‘Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Baha’)

February 22, 2017

Relationship of Spiritual Assembly to individual believers

In its relationship to the individual believer, the Assembly should
  • continuously invite and encourage him to study the Faith,
  • to deliver its glorious message,
  • to live in accordance with its teachings,
  • to contribute freely and regularly to the Fund,
  • to participate in community activities, and
  • to seek refuge in the Assembly for advice and help, when needed.
- The Universal House of Justice  (From a letter to the National Spiritual Assembly of Bolivia, July 30, 1972; compilation: Lights of Guidance)

February 19, 2017

An ode from Rúmí Baha’u’llah wrote for one of the believers – ‘Abdu’l-Baha narrates

When Bahá’u’lláh departed from Baghdád, and traveled to Rumelia, the friends remained behind. The inhabitants of Baghdád then rose up against those helpless believers, sending them away as captives to Mosul. Ustád [Ismá’íl] was old and feeble, but he left on foot, with no provisions for his journey, crossed over mountains and deserts, valleys and hills, and in the end arrived at the Most Great Prison. At one time, Bahá’u’lláh had written down an ode of Rúmí’s [a famous Persian poet] for him, and had told him to turn his face toward the Báb and sing the words, set to a melody. And so, as he wandered through the long dark nights, Ustád would sing these lines:

I am lost, O Love, possessed and dazed,
Love’s fool am I, in all the earth.
They call me first among the crazed,
Though I once came first for wit and worth.

O Love, who sellest me this wine, [1]
O Love, for whom I burn and bleed,
Love, for whom I cry and pine—
Thou the Piper, I the reed.

If Thou wishest me to live,
Through me blow Thy holy breath.
The touch of Jesus Thou wilt give
To me, who’ve lain an age in death.

Thou, both End and Origin,
Thou without and Thou within—
From every eye Thou hidest well,
And yet in every eye dost dwell.

February 16, 2017

Baha’u’llah’s faithful brother describes his first impression of Mulla Husayn

When Mulla Husayn arrived in Tihran [circa 1848] he was visited by many believers. Nabil, the great Baha’i historian recorded what he himself heard from Áqáy-i-Kalím, Bahá’u’lláh’s faithful brother, about Mulla Husayn:

“When Mulla Husayn arrived at Tihran, I, together with a large number of believers, went to visit him. He seemed to us the very embodiment of constancy, of piety and virtue. He inspired us with his rectitude of conduct and passionate loyalty. Such were the force of his character and the ardour of his faith that we felt convinced that he, unaided and alone, would be capable of achieving the triumph of the Faith of God.”
- Nabil  (‘The Dawn-Breakers’, translated and edited by Shoghi Effendi)

February 13, 2017

Courtesy – “the prince of virtues”

O people of God! I admonish you to observe courtesy, for above all else it is the prince of virtues. Well is it with him who is illumined with the light of courtesy and is attired with the vesture of uprightness. Whoso is endued with courtesy hath indeed attained a sublime station. It is hoped that this Wronged One and everyone else may be enabled to acquire it, hold fast unto it, observe it, and fix our gaze upon it. This is a binding command which hath streamed forth from the Pen of the Most Great Name. 
- Baha’u’llah  (Lawh-i-Dunya [Tablet of the World]; ‘Tablets of Baha’u’llah revealed after the Kitab-i-Aqdas’)

February 10, 2017

Designer of the House of Worship in 'Ishqabád

Mr. ... refers to statements concerning the designer of the House of Worship in 'Ishqabad, which are contained in "The Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh", vol. 4, p. 122, by Mr. Taherzadeh and in Mr. Balyuzi's "'Abdu'l-Bahá: The Centre of Bahá'u'lláh's Covenant", pp. 109-110. In the former, mention is made of the fact that 'Abdu'l-Bahá conceived a plan for a nine-sided building and that the main features of the design were prepared by Ustad 'All-Akbar-i-Banna, while in the second book, the general design is attributed to the Master. Mr. ... enquires whether both 'Abdu'l-Bahá and Ustad 'Ali-Akbar-i-Banna can be described as the authors of the general design of this House of Worship.

'Abdu'l-Bahá defined the essential architectural character of the Bahá'í House of Worship as consisting of a nine-sided, circular building. All Houses of Worship, therefore, incorporate these design features and the Master's instructions guide the architects in the preparation of their unique, individual designs. The design of the first 'Ishqábád Temple, prepared by Ustád 'Ali-Akbar-i-Banná, was likewise influenced and inspired by 'Abdu'l-Bahá's archetypal design. Shoghi Effendi, in "God Passes By", p. 300, refers to the Master's intense personal interest in the construction of the 'Ishqábád House of Worship. He affirms that it was "fostered by Him at every stage in its development". 
(Memorandum from the Research Department of the Universal House of Justice dated 23 May, 1991, on ‘The Secret of Divine Civilization’, accompanied a letter dated 20 June 1991 written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer)

February 8, 2017

Some human attributes that are “immortal”...

‘Progress’ is the expression of spirit in the world of matter. The intelligence of man, his reasoning powers, his knowledge, his scientific achievements, all these being manifestations of the spirit, partake of the inevitable law of spiritual progress and are, therefore, of necessity, immortal. 
- ‘Abdu’l-Baha  (From a talk, 'Paris Talks’)

February 7, 2017

circa 1960’s: Saying farewell to a Baha’i family leaving Holy Land

A going-away party for a Baha’i family leaving Israel. It was held next to the woods near the family’s home in Nazareth. Some of the believers seen in the picture are:  Ali Nakhjavani, Houshmand Fatheazam, Mrs. Lutfulla Hakim, Maleha Bahai, Fujita, Hand of the Cause Mr. Ali Akbar Furutan, Malakeh Tehrani, Hand of the Cause Mr. Faizi, Mona Tehrani, Nuha Tehrani, Charles Wolcott, Mrs. Faizi, Mrs. Furutan, and Mama Bahai.

February 2, 2017

Some “salient objectives to be attained by the local Spiritual Assembly” in its relationship with the community

“Among the more salient objectives to be attained by the local Spiritual Assembly in its process of development to full maturity are
  • to act as a loving shepherd to the Bahá'í flock,
  • promote unity and concord among the friends,
  • direct the teaching work,
  • protect the Cause of God,
  • arrange for Feasts, Anniversaries and regular meetings of the community,
  • familiarize the Bahá'ís with its plans,
  • invite the community to offer its recommendations,
  • promote the welfare of youth and children, and
  • participate, as circumstances permit, in humanitarian activities.”
- The Universal House of Justice  (From a letter to the National Spiritual Assembly of Bolivia, July 30, 1972; compilation: Lights of Guidance)

January 29, 2017

Definition of “Verses of God”

Bahá’u’lláh states that the essential “requisite” for reciting “the verses of God” is the “eagerness and love” of the believers to “read the Word of God” (Q and A 68). With regard to the definition of “verses of God”, Bahá’u’lláh states that it refers to “all that hath been sent down from the Heaven of Divine Utterance”. Shoghi Effendi, in a letter written to one of the believers in the East, has clarified that the term “verses of God” does not include the writings of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá; he has likewise indicated that this term does not apply to his own writings. 
- The Universal House of Justice  (The ‘Notes’ section of the Kitab-i-Aqdas)

January 26, 2017

Essential Requisites for Spiritual Growth

Bahá'u'lláh has stated quite clearly in His Writings the essential requisites for our spiritual growth, and these are stressed again and again by 'Abdu'l-Bahá in His talks and Tablets. One can summarize them briefly in this way:
  • The recital each day of one of the Obligatory Prayers with pure-hearted devotion.
  • The regular reading of the Sacred Scriptures, specifically at least each morning and evening, with reverence, attention and thought.
  • Prayerful meditation on the Teachings, so that we may understand them more deeply, fulfil them more faithfully, and convey them more accurately to others.
  • Striving every day to bring our behaviour more into accordance with the high standards that are set forth in the Teachings.
  • Teaching the Cause of God.
  • Selfless service in the work of the Cause and in the carrying on of our trade or profession. 
- The Universal House of Justice  (From a letter dated 1 September 1983 written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly; 'Messages from the Universal House of Justice 1963-1986')

January 22, 2017

The “controlling principle in the behaviour and conduct of all Bahá'ís”

A chaste and holy life must be made the controlling principle in the behaviour and conduct of all Bahá'ís, both in their social relations with the members of their own community, and in their contact with the world at large. It must adorn and reinforce the ceaseless labours and meritorious exertions of those whose enviable position is to propagate the Message, and to administer the affairs, of the Faith of Bahá'u'lláh. It must be upheld, in all its integrity and implications, in every phase of the life of those who fill the ranks of that Faith, whether in their homes, their travels, their clubs, their societies, their entertainments, their schools, and their universities. It must be accorded special consideration in the conduct of the social activities of every Bahá'í summer school and any other occasions on which Bahá'í community life is organized and fostered. It must be closely and continually identified with the mission of the Bahá'í youth, both as an element in the life of the Bahá'í community, and as a factor in the future progress and orientation of the youth of their own country. 
- Shoghi Effendi  (‘The Advent of Divine Justice’)

January 15, 2017

January 11, 2017

Baha’u’llah quotes a Persian poem to explain “the operation of God's immutable Will”

Although the author of the following saying had intended it otherwise, yet We find it pertinent to the operation of God's immutable Will: "Even or odd, thou shalt win the wager." [1] The friends of God shall win and profit under all conditions, and shall attain true wealth. In fire they remain cold, and from water they emerge dry. Their affairs are at variance with the affairs of men. Gain is their lot, whatever the deal. To this testifieth every wise one with a discerning eye, and every fair-minded one with a hearing ear. 
- Baha’u’llah  (Quoted by the Universal House of Justice in a message dated 10 February 1980, addressed to the Iranian believers resident in other countries throughout the world, translated from Persian; ‘Messages from the Universal House of Justice 1963-1986’)
[1] Sa’di (d. 1291 A.D.)