August 11, 2022

Faith & Service

O servant of God! Faith is the magnet which draws the confirmation of the Merciful One. Service is the magnet which attracts the heavenly strength. I hope thou wilt attain both. 

- ‘Abdu’l-Baha  (‘Tablets of ‘Abdu’l-Baha, vol. 1’)

August 2, 2022

What is love? – ‘Abdu’l-Baha explains

Know thou of a certainty that

  • Love is the secret of God’s holy Dispensation, the manifestation of the All-Merciful, the fountain of spiritual outpourings.
  • Love is heaven’s kindly light, the Holy Spirit’s eternal breath that vivifieth the human soul.
  • Love is the cause of God’s revelation unto man, the vital bond inherent, in accordance with the divine creation, in the realities of things.
  • Love is the one means that ensureth true felicity both in this world and the next.
  • Love is the light that guideth in darkness, the living link that uniteth God with man, that assureth the progress of every illumined soul.
  • Love is the most great law that ruleth this mighty and heavenly cycle, the unique power that bindeth together the divers elements of this material world, the supreme magnetic force that directeth the movements of the spheres in the celestial realms.
  • Love revealeth with unfailing and limitless power the mysteries latent in the universe.
  • Love is the spirit of life unto the adorned body of mankind, the establisher of true civilization in this mortal world, and the shedder of imperishable glory upon every high-aiming race and nation. 
- ‘Abdu’l-Baha  (‘Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Baha’)

July 25, 2022

How to thank God for having recognized His latest Manifestation – Baha’u’llah

From amongst all mankind hath He chosen you, and your eyes have been opened to the light of guidance and your ears attuned to the music of the Company above; and blessed by abounding grace, your hearts and souls have been born into new life. Thank ye and praise ye God that the hand of infinite bestowals hath set upon your heads this gem-studded crown, this crown whose lustrous jewels will forever flash and sparkle down all the reaches of time.

To thank Him for this, make ye a mighty effort, and choose for yourselves a noble goal. Through the power of faith, obey ye the teachings of God, and let all your actions conform to His laws. Read ye The Hidden Words, ponder the inner meanings thereof, act in accord therewith. Read, with close attention, the Tablets of Tarazát (Ornaments), Kalímát (Words of Paradise), Tajallíyyát (Effulgences), Ishráqát (Splendours), and Bishárát (Glad Tidings), and rise up as ye are bidden in the heavenly teachings. Thus may each one of you be even as a candle casting its light, the centre of attraction wherever people come together; and from you, as from a bed of flowers, may sweet scents be shed. 

- ‘Abdu’l-Baha  (‘Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Baha’)

July 16, 2022

The mysterious vigor and determination of the dawn-breakers

The directive force which however unobtrusively sustained it was none other than that which flowed from the mind of Bahá’u’lláh.

  • It was caused by the unconcealed determination of the dawn-breakers of a new Age to proclaim, fearlessly and befittingly, its advent, and by a no less unyielding resolve, should persuasion prove a failure, to resist and defend themselves against the onslaughts of malicious and unreasoning assailants.
  • It demonstrated beyond the shadow of a doubt what the indomitable spirit of a band of three hundred and thirteen untrained, unequipped yet God-intoxicated students, mostly sedentary recluses of the college and cloister, could achieve when pitted in self-defense against a trained army, well equipped, supported by the masses of the people, blessed by the clergy, headed by a prince of the royal blood, backed by the resources of the state, acting with the enthusiastic approval of its sovereign, and animated by the unfailing counsels of a resolute and all-powerful minister.
  • Its outcome was a heinous betrayal ending in an orgy of slaughter, staining with everlasting infamy its perpetrators, investing its victims with a halo of imperishable glory, and generating the very seeds which, in a later age, were to blossom into world-wide administrative institutions, and which must, in the fullness of time, yield their golden fruit in the shape of a world-redeeming, earth-encircling Order.

- Shoghi Effendi  (‘God Passes By’)

July 15, 2022

The ten-part process for establishment of the Kingdom of God on earth – described by Shoghi Effendi

…the vast, the majestic process, set in motion at the dawn of the Adamic cycle… -- a process which commenced six thousand years ago, with the planting, in the soil of the divine will, of the tree of divine revelation, and which has already passed through certain stages and must needs pass through still others ere it attains its final consummation. The first part of this process was the slow and steady growth of this tree of divine revelation, successively putting forth its branches, shoots and offshoots, and revealing its leaves, buds and blossoms, as a direct consequence of the light and warmth imparted to it by a series of progressive Dispensations associated with Moses, Zoroaster, Buddha, Jesus, Muhammad and other Prophets, and of the vernal showers of blood shed by countless martyrs in their path. The second part of this process was the fruition of this tree, 'that belongeth neither to the East nor to the West,' when the Báb appeared as the perfect fruit and declared His mission in the Year Sixty [1844] in the city of Shiraz. The third part was the grinding of this sacred seed, of infinite preciousness and potency, in the mill of adversity, causing it to yield its oil, six years later, in the city of Tabriz [1850]. The fourth part was the ignition of this oil by the hand of Providence in the depths and amidst the darkness of the Siyah-Chal of Tihran a hundred years ago [1852]. The fifth, was the clothing of that flickering light, which had scarcely penetrated the adjoining territory of 'Iraq, in the lamp of revelation, after an eclipse lasting no less than ten years, in the city of Baghdad [1863]. The sixth, was the spread of the radiance of that light, shining with added brilliancy in its crystal globe in Adrianople [1863- 1868], and later on in the fortress town of 'Akka [1868-1877], to thirteen countries in the Asiatic and African continents. The seventh was its projection, from the Most Great Prison, in the course of the ministry of the Centre of the Covenant [1892-1921], across the seas and the shedding of its illumination upon twenty sovereign states and dependencies in the American, the European, and Australian continents. The eighth part of that process was the diffusion of that same light in the course of the first, and the opening years of the second, epoch of the Formative Age of the Faith [1921-1953], over ninety-four sovereign states, dependencies and islands of the planet, as a result of the prosecution of a series of national plans, initiated by eleven national spiritual assemblies throughout the Baha'i world, utilizing the agencies of a newly emerged, divinely appointed Administrative Order, and which has now culminated in the one hundredth anniversary of the birth of Bahá'u'lláh's Mission. The ninth part of this process -- the stage we are now entering [1953] -- is the further diffusion of that same light over one hundred and thirty-one additional territories and islands in both the Eastern and Western Hemispheres, through the operation of a decade-long world spiritual crusade whose termination will, God willing, coincide with the Most Great Jubilee commemorating the centenary of the declaration of Bahá'u'lláh in Baghdad. And finally the tenth part of this mighty process [1963-] must be the penetration of that light, in the course of numerous crusades and of successive epochs of both the Formative and Golden Ages of the Faith, into all the remaining territories of the globe through the erection of the entire machinery of Baha'u'llah's Administrative Order in all territories, both East and West, the stage at which the light of God's triumphant Faith shining in all its power and glory will have suffused and enveloped the entire planet" 

- Shoghi Effendi  (‘Messages to the Baha’i World’ - 1950-1957)

July 13, 2022

The "most hateful characteristic of man is fault-finding”; --> “backbiting is the cause of Divine wrath”

Thou hast written regarding thy aims. How blessed are these aims, especially the prevention of backbiting! I hope that you may become confirmed therein, because the worst human quality and the most great sin is backbiting; more especially when it emanates from the tongues of the believers of God. If some means were devised so that the doors of backbiting could be shut eternally and each one of the believers of God unsealed his tongue in the praise of the other, then the teachings of His Holiness Baha’u’llah would be spread, the hearts illuminated, the spirits glorified and the human world would attain to everlasting felicity.

I hope that the believers of God will shun completely backbiting, each one praising the other cordially and believe that backbiting is the cause of Divine wrath, to such an extent that if a person backbites to the extent of one word, he may become dishonored among all the people, because the most hateful characteristic of man is fault-finding. One must expose the praiseworthy qualities of the souls and not their evil attributes. The friends must overlook their shortcomings and faults and speak only of their virtues and not their defects.

It is related that His Holiness Christ—May my life be a sacrifice to Him! — one day, accompanied by His apostles, passed by the corpse of a dead animal. One of them said: "How putrid has this animal become!" The other exclaimed: "How it is deformed!" A third cried out: "What a stench! How cadaverous looking!" But His Holiness Christ said: "Look at its teeth! How white they are!" Consider, that He did not look at all at the defects of that animal; nay, rather, He searched well until He found the beautiful white teeth. He observed only the whiteness of the teeth and overlooked entirely the deformity of the body, the dissolution of its organs and the bad odor.

This is the attribute of the children of the Kingdom. This is the conduct and the manner of the real Baha’is. I hope that all the believers will attain to this lofty station. 

-‘ Abdu’l-Baha  (From a Tablet; Star of the West, vol. 4, no. 11, September 27, 1913)

July 10, 2022

Some Christian references to the Revelation of the Báb

The “cleansing of the Sanctuary,” prophesied by Daniel and confirmed by Jesus Christ in His reference to “the abomination of desolation,” had been accomplished… The “forty and two months,” during which the “Holy City,” as predicted by St. John the Divine, would be trodden under foot, had elapsed. The “time of the end” had been ushered in, and the first of the “two Witnesses” into Whom, “after three days and a half the Spirit of Life from God” would enter, had arisen and had “ascended up to heaven in a cloud.”… The “Man Child,” mentioned in the Book of Revelation, destined to “rule all nations with a rod of iron,” had released, through His coming, the creative energies which, reinforced by the effusions of a swiftly succeeding and infinitely mightier Revelation, were to instill into the entire human race the capacity to achieve its organic unification, attain maturity and thereby reach the final stage in its age-long evolution. 

- Shoghi Effendi  (‘God Passes By’)

July 5, 2022

Baha’is had expressed surprise at positive reception ‘Abdu’l-Baha received from clergy in America

One of the Bahai Friends said to ‘Abdu’l-Baha, "What we expected in connection with your visit to America has not happened and what we did not expect to happen has indeed come to pass. We expected an attitude of hostility towards you by the clergy and theologians. Instead of this they have welcomed you in the spirit of fairness and sincerity. We did not expect the churches and religious societies would open their doors, but they have done so and most of your important public addresses have been delivered from pulpits of various denominations."

‘Abdu’l-Baha replied:

"According to the record of three Gospels, His Holiness Jesus Christ went into the Temple of Jerusalem, rebuked the Jews for the degeneracy of their worship into materialistic forms and delivered the Message of Divine Gladtidings. For nineteen hundred years this has been pointed out by Christians as a most wonderful event, - that His Holiness without opposition from the Jews was permitted to enter their most sacred place of worship and proclaim the 'Word of God.

“Consider what has happened in this century. During the past year we have been welcomed in churches and pulpits of Europe and America by different denominations, - upraising the Divine Standard of Unity, summoning mankind to the Glad Tidings of the Most Great Peace, proclaiming the Reality of the Kingdom of Abha. And this has been accomplished not only without opposition but by invitation, and in a spirit of the utmost love and fragrance. Consider therefore the wonderful influence and importance of this in the future." 

(From Notes by Howard MacNutt; Star of the West, vol. 4, no. 1, 21 March 1913)

July 1, 2022

Aim and benefits of Baha’i teaching conferences

Teaching conferences can have a great value for the advance of the Faith. Their aim is

  • to strengthen the bonds of unity and fellowship among the friends,
  • to increase their involvement in the teaching work and their interest in its progress, and
  • to serve as magnets to attract divine confirmations.
  • They are also
    • rallying points for the believers,
    • evidences of the vitality of their love for Baha'u'llah, and
    • potent instruments for generating enthusiasm and spiritual drive for advancing the interests of the Faith. 
- The Universal House of Justice  (From a letter dated 25 May 1975; ‘Messages from the Universal House of Justice 1963-1986)

June 24, 2022

Administering the needs of pioneers for financial assistance

Ideally, of course, a pioneer should be, or become as soon as possible, financially independent of the Fund in his chosen post, not only to husband the financial resources of the Faith but because it is a Baha'i principle that everyone should work and support himself and his family whenever possible, and there is no such profession as pioneer or teacher in the Baha'i Faith as there are professional missionaries and clergymen in other religions. Nevertheless it must be recognized that in some posts where pioneers are desperately needed there is no possibility for them to get work. Either there is no work available in the area or else the pioneer is refused a work permit because he is a foreigner. In such cases it is essential for the Assemblies to provide financial assistance to support the pioneer for as long as is necessary.

There are a number of methods of financing pioneers in areas where work is unobtainable. Believers can be found who have independent means and are willing to pioneer to the area and live on whatever income they have, however slender. There are those who, in accordance with Baha'u'llah's injunction, have been deputized by friends who are unable to go themselves. Believers may be found who are willing to go to such an area for a specific period supported by the meagre budget that the Fund can afford, with the clear understanding that at the end of that period they will return from the pioneer post and become self-supporting again; in such a way an area can be serviced with a succession of pioneers. Then there are those believers who are willing to serve in a remote and inhospitable area, but whose age or situation makes it clear from the outset that they will not be able to become self-supporting again; when the need is great and cannot be met in any other way, an Assembly would be fully justified in supporting them, but it should realize from the outset the extent of the responsibility it is incurring for an indefinite period into the future.

June 17, 2022

Ways of Pioneering

There are several ways of pioneering, and all are entirely valid and are of great help to the teaching work. There is, first of all, the pioneer who goes to a particular country, devotes the remainder of his life to the service of the Faith in that land and finally lays his bones to rest in its soil. Secondly, there is the pioneer who goes to a post, serves valiantly there until the native Baha'i community is strongly established, and then moves on to new fields of service. Thirdly, there are those, for example youth between the completion of their schooling and the starting of their chosen profession, who go pioneering for a specific limited period. 

- The Universal House of Justice  (From a letter dated 25 May 1975; ‘Messages from the Universal House of Justice 1963-1986)

June 10, 2022

The purpose of teaching the Faith

Teaching the Faith embraces many diverse activities, all of which are vital to success, and each of which reinforces the other. Time and again the beloved Guardian emphasized that expansion and consolidation are twin and inseparable aspects of teaching that must proceed simultaneously, yet one still hears believers discussing the virtues of one as against the other. The purpose of teaching is not complete when a person declares that he has accepted Baha'u'llah as the Manifestation of God for this age; the purpose of teaching is to attract human beings to the divine Message and so imbue them with its spirit that they will dedicate themselves to its service, and this world will become another world and its people another people.  Viewed in this light a declaration of faith is merely a milestone along the way -- albeit a very important one. Teaching may also be likened to kindling a fire, the fire of faith, in the hearts of men. If a fire burns only so long as the match is held to it, it cannot truly be said to have been kindled; to be kindled it must continue to burn of its own accord. Thereafter more fuel can be added and the flame can be fanned, but even if left alone for a period, a truly kindled fire will not be extinguished by the first breath of wind.

The aim, therefore, of all Baha'i institutions and Baha'i teachers is to advance continually to new areas and strata of society, with such thoroughness that, as the spark of faith kindles the hearts of the hearers, the teaching of the believers continues until, and even after, they shoulder their responsibilities as Baha'is and participate in both the teaching and administrative work of the Faith. 

- The Universal House of Justice  (From a letter dated  25 May 1975; ‘Messages from the Universal House of Justice 1963-1986)

May 31, 2022

December 24, 1951: Hands of the Cause of God appointed by Shoghi Effendi

William Sutherland Maxwell
Mason Remey

Amelia Collins

Leroy Ioas
Valiyu'llah Varqa
Ugo Giachery

George Townshend
Horace Holley
Tarazu'llah Samandari

Ali-Akbar Furutan
Hermann Grosmann
Dorothy Baker

(The Baha'i World 1950-1954)

May 20, 2022

Baha'i historical events associated with the House of ‘Abdu’llah Pasha

4 March 1975

To all National Spiritual Assemblies

Dear Baha'i friends,

Immediately after sending the cable announcing the joyful news of the acquisition of this property [the house of 'Abdu'llah Pasha], the Universal House of Justice had the enclosed article prepared at the World Centre, and it is sent for you to disseminate as you see fit.

With loving Baha'i greetings,

Department of the Secretariat

 The House of 'Abdu'llah Pasha

Some of the most poignant, dramatic and historically significant events of the Heroic Age of our Faith are associated with this house, which derives its name from the Governor of 'Akka who built it and used it as his official residence during his term of Office, from 1820 to 1832. It stands just inside the north-western corner of the sea wall of 'Akka in the close neighbourhood of the citadel where Baha'u'llah was confined. The main building is L-shaped, facing south and cast on its outer prospects. The structure, though chiefly on two stories, is irregular and on the inside angle has balconies, uncovered stairways, a bathhouse and a well. The entire property comprises large courtyards and is bounded on the west, or seaward, side by a wall, which turns due east at its southern angle and continues towards the heart of 'Akka, forming after a few yards, the wall of a narrow street; at the eastern terminus of this wall, and within the property, is an imposing house which was occupied by that Governor of 'Akka whose incumbency coincided with 'Abdu'l-Baha's residence in the main building, and whose northern windows permitted him to maintain a constant surveillance of 'Abdu'l-Baha's activities. Beyond this house is a small mosque. The eastern boundary of the property is a row of houses giving directly, on its western aspect, to the courtyard and offering many additional vantage points for observing the Master. A similar row of houses extends from the north-eastern corner along the northern boundary until they terminate at the longitudinal wing of the main building which, at this point, projects northwards into several conjoined buildings, making a large irregular outcrop on the northern boundary. The western end of the northern boundary is a short stretch of wall completing the enclosure at the north-western corner of the west wall. Large stables, coach houses and storerooms line the southern boundary.

May 10, 2022

“The principal cause of… suffering” that humanity is experiencing – and ways in which help can be rendered by Baha’is

19 November 1974

The National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of Italy

Dear Baha'i friends,

In your letter of 11 September you say that the questions of how to help the Third World or the poor who are suffering under calamities are much discussed in your community and you wish to know whether to create a special fund for such needs, to ask for special contributions from time to time, or whether there are other ways in which you could help.

It is understandable that Baha'is who witness the miserable conditions under which so many human beings have to live, or who hear of a sudden disaster that has struck a certain area of the world, are moved to do something practical to ameliorate those conditions and to help their suffering fellow-mortals.

There are many ways in which help can be rendered. Every Baha'i has the duty to acquire a trade or profession through which he will earn that wherewith he can support himself and his family; in the choice of such work he can seek those activities which are of benefit to his fellowmen and not merely those which promote his personal interests, still less those whose effects are actually harmful.

There are also the situations in which an individual Baha'i or a Spiritual Assembly is confronted with an urgent need which neither justice nor compassion could allow to go unheeded and unhelped. How many are the stories told of 'Abdu'l-Baha in such situations, when He would even take off a garment He was wearing and give it to a shivering man in rags.

May 3, 2022

A “world beset by ills and groaning under the burden of suffering”

When viewing the conditions of our society we see a world beset by ills and groaning under the burden of suffering. This suffering, Baha'u'llah has Himself testified, is because the "body" of the world, "though created whole and perfect, has been afflicted, through divers causes, with grave ills and maladies," and "its sickness waxed more severe, as it fell under the treatment of unskilled physicians who have spurred on the steed of their worldly desires and have erred grievously." Baha'u'llah's statement in this passage concludes with the assertion that the "sovereign remedy" lies in turning and submitting to the "skilled," the "all- powerful," and "inspired Physician. This, verily, is the truth, and all else naught but error.

This Divine Physician has assured us in His Writings that God is All-Seeing and All-Knowing and has willed to establish in this Day and among men His everlasting Kingdom. "The whole earth," Baha'u'llah has stated, "is now in a state of pregnancy. The day is approaching when it will have yielded its noblest fruits, when from it will have sprung forth the loftiest trees, the most enchanting blossoms, the most heavenly blessings." In order to achieve this purpose God sent us the spirit and message of the New Day through two successive Manifestations, both of Whom the generality of mankind have rejected, and have, alas, preferred to continue in their own blindness and perversity. Commenting on such a world spectacle, Baha'u'llah wrote: "soon will the present-day order be rolled up, and a new one spread out in its stead." "After a time," He further wrote, "all the governments on earth will change. Oppression will envelop the world. And following a universal convulsion, the sun of justice will rise from the horizon of the unseen realm."

April 23, 2022

“A unity in diversity of actions”: - “each person cannot do everything and all persons cannot do the same thing”

An expansion of thought and action in certain aspects of our work would enhance our possibilities for success in meeting our aforementioned commitments. Since change, ever more rapid change, is a constant characteristic of life at this time, and since our growth, size and external relations demand much of us, our community must be ready to adapt. In a sense this means that the community must become more adept at accommodating a wide range of actions without losing concentration on the primary objectives of teaching, namely, expansion and consolidation. A unity in diversity of actions is called for, a condition in which different individuals will concentrate on different activities, appreciating the salutary effect of the aggregate on the growth and development of the Faith, because each person cannot do everything and all persons cannot do the same thing. This understanding is important to the maturity which, by the many demands being made upon it, the community is being forced to attain. 

- The Universal House of Justice  (Ridvan 1990 message)

April 18, 2022

The title of 'Hidden Words' and its meaning

"... The title 'Hidden Words' was given by Bahá'u'lláh because there is a tradition in Islam, that Fatimih, Muhammad's daughter, grieved greatly over the Martyrdom of her son, and God sent Gabriel to speak encouraging words to her. These words were 'hidden', only she having heard them, and in these latter days the Promised One has revealed them, thus fulfilling a tradition." (From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, December 20, 1949)

"With regard to your question concerning the meaning of the name 'Hidden Words'. It is, indeed, one of the most suggestive titles of the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh. These words are called hidden due to the fact that men have had neither the knowledge nor a true sense of appreciation of them before they were revealed by Bahá'u'lláh. It is through Him, Who is the sole Mouthpiece of God in this age, that spiritual realities and truths have been once more reinterpreted and revealed afresh to mankind. Bahá'u'lláh's Message is thus the only key to a true revealed afresh to mankind. Bahá'u'lláh's Message is thus the only key to a true understanding of the mysteries that envelop man's spiritual life." (From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, September 1, 1935)

(Compilation: ‘Lights of Guidance’)

April 14, 2022

1955: First Asia Teaching Conference in Nikko Japan

Besides Japan, participants were from Caroline Islands, Formosa, Guam, Hong Kong, Korea, Macao, Iran and the United States (Baha'i News, December 1955)

April 12, 2022

1955: Group of Baha'is of Abaiang, Gilbert Islands

The Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of Tuarabu, Abaiang 
was incorporated on September 24, 1955
(The Baha'i World 1954-1963)

April 10, 2022

1848: The “inauguration of the new Dispensation was sounded” at Badasht by Tahirih, “the noblest of her sex in that Dispensation”

A little over four years had elapsed since the birth of the Báb’s Revelation when the trumpet-blast announcing the formal extinction of the old, and the inauguration of the new Dispensation was sounded. No pomp, no pageantry marked so great a turning-point in the world’s religious history. Nor was its modest setting commensurate with such a sudden, startling, complete emancipation from the dark and embattled forces of fanaticism, of priestcraft, of religious orthodoxy and superstition. The assembled host consisted of no more than a single woman and a handful of men, mostly recruited from the very ranks they were attacking, and devoid, with few exceptions, of wealth, prestige and power. The Captain of the host was Himself an absentee, a captive in the grip of His foes. The arena was a tiny hamlet in the plain of Badasht on the border of Mázindarán. The trumpeter was a lone woman, the noblest of her sex in that Dispensation, whom even some of her co-religionists pronounced a heretic. The call she sounded was the death-knell of the twelve hundred year old law of Islám. 

- Shoghi Effendi  (‘God Passes By’) 

April 6, 2022

Introduction to 'The Dawn-Breakers' by Shoghi Effendi - A descriptive list

April 5, 2022

Three kinds of persecution ‘Abdu’l-Baha had to bear

All who stand up in the Cause of God will be persecuted and misunderstood. It has always been so; it will always be so. Let neither enemy nor friend disturb your peace, destroy your happiness, prevent your accomplishment. Fix your soul upon God. Then persecution and slander will make you the more radiant. The purposes of your enemies will be reflected upon themselves. They will be injured instead of you. Oppression is the wind which fans the fire of the love of God. Welcome persecution and bitterness. A soldier may bear arms, but until he has faced the enemy in battle he has no right to a place in the king's army. Let nothing defeat you. God is your helper. God is invincible. Be firm in the Heavenly Covenant. Pray for strength. It will be given you, no matter how difficult the conditions.

When ‘Abdu’l-Baha was sent to Akka, he experienced three kinds of persecution. Two kinds were easy to bear. When he arrived in Akka they placed chains upon his limbs and circlets of steel were locked around his ankles and knees. While the guards were doing this ‘Abdu’l-Baha laughed and sang. They were astonished and said, "How is this? You are laughing and singing. When prisoners are ironed in this way, they usually cry out, weep and lament." ‘Abdu’l-Baha replied, "I rejoice because you are doing me a great kindness; you are making me very happy. For a long time I have wished to know the feelings of a prisoner in irons, to experience what other men have been subjected to. I have heard of this; now you have taught me what it is. You have given me this opportunity. Therefore I sing and am very happy. I am very thankful to you."

April 1, 2022

How to introduce teachings of the Faith to our friends - learning from ‘Abdu’l-Baha

In my talks with the reverend doctors of religion and men of the peace societies I have spoken the Glad-tidings of Baha’u’llah, but always according to their varying need and capacity. As capacities differ, the purpose must be to satisfy the degree of hunger, destroy all possible antagonism and establish a point of agreement. We cannot induce men to lay clown their arms by fighting with them. War intensifies the spirit of strife. War begets war. We are peacemakers, not destroyers of peace. Therefore ‘Abdu’l-Baba finds the note of harmony which vibrates in every human heart. This is our subtle basis. Build upon it. Follow no other method. Talk about things upon which we agree and say nothing about things upon which we differ. We must disorganize humanism in order to construct a spiritual edifice in the world of humanity. This edifice is heavenly but its foundations are planted in the unity of human hearts. 

- ‘Abdu’l-Baha  (Utterances of 'Abdu'l-Baha recorded by Howard MacNutt; Star of the West, vol. 4, no. 1, 21 March 1913)

March 30, 2022

“it is to overcome the problems of humankind that the Bahá’í community has been brought into being”

There are tasks to which you must now set your hands to prepare for the achievements of tomorrow. Do not permit the problems in your way to dismay you or deflect you from your goals; it is to overcome the problems of humankind that the Bahá’í community has been brought into being. Your vital task is to immerse yourselves in the study of the Teachings of Bahá’u’lláh, to enrich your spiritual lives and to discover thereby the best direction for your endeavors, to express them in your actions, and to convey them to those who thirst for guidance. You are the instruments of the purpose of God, the channels of His grace, the bearers of His Message, the holders of the key to the challenges of the age. Follow His guidance and the successes you will achieve will be an inspiration to your fellow-believers and the quickener of hope in the hearts of the people.

Be assured that as you arise for the promotion of His Cause, the confirmations of Bahá’u’lláh will surround you, and you will witness the truth of these exalted words uttered by Him in His Most Great Prison:

Verily, We behold you from Our realm of Glory, and shall aid whosoever will arise for the triumph of Our Cause with the hosts of the Concourse on high and a company of Our favored angels.

- The Universal House of Justice  (From a message dated 21 November 1990 addressed to the ‘Friends gathered at the Moscow Conference’; ‘Messages from the Universal House of Justice 1986-2001’)

March 28, 2022

Akka June 1992: “the widest diversity of human beings ever to have assembled on a Bahá’í occasion”

7 June 1992

To the Bahá’ís of the World

As we reflect on the events which a few days ago marked the commemoration in the Holy Land of the Centenary of the Ascension of Baha’u’llah, we feel impelled to express to the Bahá’í world our sense of wonderment at the exalted character of what transpired. The nature of the Anniversary was in itself awe-inspiring and evocative of profound emotion. But the gathering of some 3,000 Bahá’ís, including 113 Knights of Bahá’u’lláh, representing no less than 200 countries and dependent territories—the widest diversity of human beings ever to have assembled on a Bahá’í occasion—filled the eyes with the vision of a garden of humanity that overwhelmed the senses, inducing a spirit of beauty, joy and splendor. Bahjí was never more resplendent. And we offer prayers of thanksgiving to our beloved Lord that so fitting an assemblage could have been realized on this special Anniversary, indicating the amazing extent to which the pervasive power of His influence has triumphed throughout the world.

May the evident blessings flowing from this heavenly experience infuse the dear friends everywhere with new strength and fresh encouragement, emboldening their efforts and enlarging their capacity to proclaim the Name and promote the Cause of Bahá’u’lláh during the course of the Holy Year so auspiciously begun.

The Universal House of Justice

(Messages from the Universal House of Justice 1986-2001)

March 26, 2022

1991: Affirmations of “the emergence of the Faith from obscurity” – “a distinctive feature of the advancement of the Faith in the fourth epoch of the Formative Age”

  • Another illustration of the rising authority of the Cause of Bahá’u’lláh in the public mind emerges from Germany, where the Federal Constitutional Court, the highest legal authority in the land, rendered a decision of capital importance to the recognition of the Faith. A series of lower courts had refused to register the by-laws of a Local Spiritual Assembly on the grounds that the authority granted to the National Spiritual Assembly in that document violated the legal principle requiring the autonomy of all legally incorporated associations. The issues involved are indeed complex and cannot be elaborated here. Suffice it to say that the Federal Constitutional Court upheld the appeal of the Local Spiritual Assembly in a long, closely reasoned decision in which, among other things, it affirmed the right of the Bahá’í community to gain legal capacity in the very shape ordained in the scriptures of the Bahá’í Faith and stated that its nature as a recognized religion was unquestionably confirmed by its inherent character, by public knowledge, and by the testimony of scholars of comparative religion. So significant was the verdict in the Court’s own estimation that it took the rare step of issuing a statement to the press explaining its decision. This outstanding act will have implications for the Bahá’í community far beyond the borders of a united Germany.
  • Yet another instance of the growing public appreciation for the penetrating perspectives of the Cause involves the Republic of South Africa, where the National Spiritual Assembly, taking advantage of the initiatives of the Government towards resolving the decades-long problem of apartheid, decided to submit its views for the drafting of a new constitution for the country. The President of the South African Law Commission, the judge acting on behalf of the Government, who received the National Spiritual Assembly’s submission from a delegation appointed by it, commented that the Bahá’ís were the only group thus far whose ideas had provided a spiritual and moral foundation for a constitution.

March 23, 2022

1996-2021: Some of the undertakings of Baha’i community "inspired by framework for action"

  • “raised aloft the banner of firmness and constancy and charged forth in the arena of servitude and built new capacities for service to the world of humanity.
  • The spirit of learning born of action, reflection, and consultation became the axis of endeavours. 
  • Systematically and earnestly the younger generation was made the focus of special attention by the community.
  • Children learned virtues and spirituality, and junior youth developed spiritual and moral attributes and eagerness for service.
  • The youth, through the acquisition of a deep appreciation of their spiritual mission and a broad vision of the implications of the divine teachings for this new age, rushed to the fields of service and attained their rightful place in the vanguard of a vibrant and purposeful community.
  • The unity and solidarity of all the members of the community was, through the pulsating force of the Covenant and Testament, increased, and cooperation and mutual support reached a high level.
  • Through profound reflection on the Writings, attention to the guidance, and adherence to the foundational principle of consultation, perspectives became harmonized, the different endeavours of the community became coherent, and the various labours of the believers in the path of service yielded abundant fruit.
  •  The outward-looking culture of the community was strengthened to a considerable degree and led to a level of participation, greater than ever before, by the believers in the constructive discourses of their society.
  • The valuable lessons acquired by those much-loved friends in the course of an entire century of determined endeavour in the path of building a dynamic community were with great sincerity shared selflessly with others.
  • The experience gained as a result of efforts to apply Bahá’u’lláh’s teachings in this radiant age for the achievement of the equality of women and men, social justice, the eradication of extremes of wealth and poverty, unity among different ethnicities, the empowerment of younger generations, and the refinement of character was offered to interested individuals without making any claims to perfection or superiority.
  •   And the friends, to the extent possible, became involved in consulting and collaborating with their fellow citizens in order to address various social ills. 
- The Universal House of Justice  (From a message dated 20 March 2021 addressed to Baha’is in Iran; authorized translation from Persian)

March 17, 2022

Bahá’u’lláh’s reference to the Báb, Quddús, and Mullá Husayn

All praise, O Lord my God, be unto Him Who is the Manifestation of Thine Essence, the Dayspring of Thy oneness, the Mine of Thy knowledge, the Source of Thy Revelation, the Repository of Thine inspiration, the Seat of Thy sovereignty, and the Dawning-Place of Thy Divinity—He Who is the Primal Point, the Most Exalted Countenance, the Ancient Root, and the Quickener of nations; and glory be upon him[1] who was the first to believe in Him and in His verses, whom Thou didst make a throne for the ascendancy of Thy most sublime Word, a focal-point for the manifestation of Thy most excellent names, a dayspring of the radiance of the Sun of Thy providence, a dawning-place for the appearance of Thy names and attributes, and a treasury of the pearls of Thy wisdom and Thy commandments.  And all honor be upon him [2] who was the last to come unto Him, whose arrival was like His arrival, and Thy manifestation in him [3] like Thy manifestation in Him,[4] except that he was illumined with the lights of His face and prostrated himself before Him and testified to his servitude unto Him; and glory be upon those who were martyred in His path and who offered up their lives for love of His beauty. 

- Baha’u’llah  (compilation: The Importance of Obligatory Prayer and Fasting, prepared by the Research Department of the Universal House of Justice)

[1] Mullá Husayn

[2] Quddús

[2] Quddús

[4] The Báb

March 10, 2022

Long Obligatory Prayer: Repetition of the Greatest Name & Raising hands – explanation by the Research Department of the Universal House of Justice

Repetition of the Greatest Name in the Long Obligatory Prayer

The National Spiritual Assembly observes that in the Long Obligatory Prayer, there are three occasions on which one has to repeat the Greatest Name three times. While it is clear that, on the first occasion, the believer has to raise his or her hands once and repeat the Greatest Name three times, the National Assembly enquires whether it is also necessary to raise one's hands on (1) the other two occasions.

In relation to the first of the three instances, the Universal House of Justice stated on 22 April 1991 that, in following the instruction "Let him then raise his hands, and repeat three times the Greatest Name", the believer is required to raise his hands once and to repeat the Greatest Name three times in conjunction with that act. In relation to the second and third occasions, the Research Department has not, to date, been able to locate any specific guidance. It is, however, informative to consider the wording of the instructions:

"Let him then repeat the Greatest Name thrice, and bend down with hands resting on the knees, and say..." "Let him then repeat the Greatest Name thrice, and kneel with his forehead to the ground, and say..."

In contrast to the first occasion where the raising of the hands forms part of the explicit instructions, in the second and third instances no mention is made of raising the hands.

Raising hands twice in supplication

The National Spiritual Assembly refers to the instruction to stand and raise one's hands twice in supplication, and say the words that follow. It enquires "whether one should say each (of the two) phrase(s) each time one raises one's hands". While the intent of the question is not exactly clear to the Research Department, we provide the following extract from the letter dated 22 April 1991 written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice. The letter addresses a question about the performance of this particular part of the Long Obligatory Prayer:

Regarding the direction "Let him then stand and raise his hands twice in supplication, and say; ...", the believer does not have to read twice the paragraph which follows. Whether the believer raises his hands twice before the reciting of the passage, or commences the reciting after having raised his hands once, and raises them a second time soon thereafter, is left to his choice.

(Memorandum from the Research Department of the Universal House of Justice dated 28 November 2000 re: ‘Questions about Obligatory’; Baha’i Library Online)

(1) Bahá'í Prayers: A Selection of Prayers Revealed by Bahá'u'lláh, the Báb, and 'Abdu'l-Bahá (Wilmette: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1993), p. 10; 14 and 15.

March 2, 2022

Some of the Heroines and Heroes of the Faith...

February 26, 2022

The effects of unfaithfulness and Covenant-breaking on the Guardian – recalled by Hand of the Cause Ugo Giachery

Of all the characteristics that Shoghi Effendi possessed, the one that I believe was at the very core of his personality and was deeply rooted in his soul was the immense faith he had, his complete reliance on the efficacy of Bahá'u'lláh's Revelation. He clung to His Teachings with a tenacity that cannot be likened to anything. His whole being was permeated with the power of the Revelation, and this is the reason that all who came near him or in contact with him felt so safe, so assured, so regenerated. For the same reason, scheming individuals who inclined towards evil-doing or deceit could not remain long in his presence and went away frightened, bewildered and chastened. During my years of association with Shoghi Effendi I experienced, over and over again, the power emanating from his belief, a power that removed difficulties, brought unexpected happy solutions and paved the way to better and greater achievements.

Counterbalancing this characteristic there was a tremendous aversion to unfaithfulness and Covenant-breaking. During one of my longer stays in Haifa, from the end of March to July 1952, the 'old' and 'new' Covenant-breakers, emboldened by the end of British administration in Palestine, devised a plan to wrest from the hands of the Guardian all the possessions of the Faith in the Holy Land, by challenging the authority conferred upon him in the Will and Testament of 'Abdu'l-Bahá. Their machinations were intended mainly to harass Shoghi Effendi in the hope of bringing him to Court, where they could inflict on him publicly all kinds of humiliations through the use of legal cavils and the like. The affair lasted about three months, and of course ended with full victory for him, but what he suffered it is impossible to describe. The sacredness of the Institution of the Guardianship was not only challenged but was attacked for the purpose of creating confusion and turmoil in the rank and file of the believers. His great suffering was for the sacrilege being committed against this Institution of the Faith. It was so abhorrent to him that he felt physically ill, as if 'a thousand scorpions had bitten him'. During the most crucial days of this sorrowful experience, one night after dinner he spoke to me alone for several hours. His indignation was immense. He reviewed the tragic history of all that had happened since the days of the Bábí Dispensation, the sufferings inflicted on Bahá'u'lláh by Subh-i-Azal (Mirza Yahya), the perfidy of Muhammad-Ali against the Master, the situation that arose in 'Abdu'l-Bahá's immediate family in the years which followed His passing, and all the acts of treachery and disobedience perpetrated by infamous followers in whom both the Master and himself had aforetime placed their trust. Often visibly grieved and filled with anxiety, he would say to me: 'You must know these things'; 'I want you to know these things'. These phrases he repeated several times during the course of the conversation.