Jul 31, 2022

The Garden of Ridvan

Entrance to the Garden of Ridvan where Baha'u'llah declared His Mission in 1863 and after twelve days departed for Constantinople. ... The beauty of this garden is apparent through its service to humanity -- that is, it was a hospital then and two successive governments have used it similarly  ... [as] a center where bodily ailments are healed. 

(The Baha'i World 1926-1928)

Jul 30, 2022

“Verily, the cause of the contingent existences is one creation of God, and it is the Will. God created the Will…”

They (Mulla Sadra and the Sufis) have been mistaken. They have taken the effulgence of the Essence upon the existences to be the very being of God. That is why they have erred when they say that the realities are fixed in the essence. And this they have said to establish the knowledge of God. They say that the Reality of existence is simple to establish the causality of the essence; and they speak of the relation between the Essence and the acts and attributes, and the unity of existence between the Creator and the created. But all this, for the people of God, is naught but absolute association...Even as God hath no need for another besides Himself, likewise He hath no need in His knowledge for the existence of objects of knowledge. In truth, the Essence hath no connection with anything. Verily, the cause of the contingent existences is one creation of God, and it is the Will. God created the Will, from itself without a fire coming to it from the Divine Essence. All of the existences were created by the intermediary of this Will, and this Will always telleth of God's own being and reflecteth nothing but Him. In the contingent existences, however, there is not a single sign which demonstrateth the essence of God, for the Reality of God alienateth all of the contingent existences from His knowledge and the Essence of God rendereth impossible comprehension by all the essences. In truth, the relation of the Will with God is like that of the House (the Ka'bih) with the Supreme Being. This relation is a relation of honour for the creature, but not for the essence, for God is pure.

- The Báb  (From Risaliy-i-Dhahabiyyih, provisionally translated by Keven Brown from Nicholas' French translation in Le Beyan Arabe, pp. 10-12)

Jul 29, 2022

Attributes of those who strive for nearness to the Manifestation of God

The winds of tests are powerless to hold back them that enjoy near access to Thee from setting their faces towards the horizon of Thy glory, and the tempests of trials must fail to draw away and hinder such as are wholly devoted to Thy will from approaching Thy court.

Methinks, the lamp of Thy love is burning in their hearts, and the light of Thy tenderness is lit within their breasts. Adversities are incapable of estranging them from Thy Cause, and the vicissitudes of fortune can never cause them to stray from Thy pleasure. 

- Baha’u’llah  (‘Prayers and Meditations by Baha’u’llah’)

Jul 28, 2022

A Baha’i Teaching: “In the innate nature of things there is no evil—all is good.”

In the innate nature of things there is no evil—all is good. This applies even to certain apparently blameworthy attributes and dispositions which seem inherent in some people, but which are not in reality reprehensible. For example, you can see in a nursing child, from the beginning of its life, the signs of greed, of anger, and of ill temper; and so it might be argued that good and evil are innate in the reality of man, and that this is contrary to the pure goodness of the innate nature and of creation. The answer is that greed, which is to demand ever more, is a praiseworthy quality provided that it is displayed under the right circumstances. Thus, should a person show greed in acquiring science and knowledge, or in the exercise of compassion, high-mindedness, and justice, this would be most praiseworthy. And should he direct his anger and wrath against the bloodthirsty tyrants who are like ferocious beasts, this too would be most praiseworthy. But should he display these qualities under other conditions, this would be deserving of blame.

- ‘Abdu’l-Baha  (Table talks in Akka, authenticated by ‘Abdu’l-Baha; ‘Some Answered Questions’ – 2014 revised translation by the Baha’i World Centre)

Jul 26, 2022

One's faith embodies three degrees

In reality, faith embodies three degrees: to confess with the tongue; to believe in the heart; to give evidence in our actions. 

- 'Abdu'l-Baha  (Utterances of ‘Abdu’l-Baha, recorded by Julia Grundy during her pilgrimage, ‘Ten Days in the Light of Acca’)

Jul 25, 2022

1910: Believers assembled at the Tomb of the Báb on Mount

The person marked x at the center of the group is the aged Afnan who supervised the building of Mashriqu'l-Adhkar in Ishkabad, Russia. As soon as it was finished he was called to Acca by ‘Abdu'l-Baha to remain the balance of his days.

Jul 24, 2022

“The number nine,… symbolic of the perfection of the Bahá'í Revelation” – “the ninth in the line of existing religions”

The number nine, which in itself is the number of perfection, is considered by the Bahá'ís as sacred because it is symbolic of the perfection of the Bahá'í Revelation, which constitutes the ninth in the line of existing religions, the latest and fullest Revelation which mankind has ever known. The eighth is the Religion of the Báb, and the remaining seven are: Hinduism, Buddhism, Zoroastrianism, Judaism, Christianity, Islam and the religion of the Sabaeans. These religions are not the only true religions that have appeared in the world, but are the only ones which are still existing. There have always been divine prophets and messengers, to many of whom the Qur'án refers. But the only ones existing are those mentioned above. 

- Shoghi Effendi  (From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, dated 28 July 1936; The Compilation of Compilations, vol. I, Extracts from the Baha’i Writings on Buddha, Krishna, Zoroaster, and related subjects)

Jul 23, 2022

“the one favoured at the Threshold of the Lord”

In this day, the one favoured at the Threshold of the Lord is he who handeth round the cup of faithfulness; who bestoweth, even upon his enemies, the jewel of bounty, and lendeth, even to his fallen oppressor, a helping hand; it is he who will, even to the fiercest of his foes, be a loving friend. 

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

Jul 22, 2022

“The personality and activity of the body are due to the individuality of the soul.”

The personality and activity of the body are due to the individuality of the soul. Thus the soul is the cause of the life of the body, and the body, with all its organs, is but the vehicle of its expression.

- ‘Abdu’l-Baha  (From a talk, quoted by Lua Getsinger in her talk in San Francisco on December 17, 1911).

Jul 21, 2022

Hand of the Cause: Mullá ‘Alí-Akbar-i-Shahmirzadi, known as Haji Akhund (1842-1910) - by 'Abdu'l-Baha

Yet another Hand of the Cause was the revered Mullá ‘Alí-Akbar, upon him be the glory of God, the All-Glorious. Early in life, this illustrious man attended institutions of higher learning and labored diligently, by day and night, until he became thoroughly conversant with the learning of the day, with secular studies, philosophy, and religious jurisprudence. He frequented the gatherings of philosophers, mystics, and Shaykhís, thoughtfully traversing those areas of knowledge, intuitive wisdom, and illumination; but he thirsted after the wellspring of truth, and hungered for the bread that comes down from Heaven. No matter how he strove to perfect himself in those regions of the mind, he was never satisfied; he never reached the goal of his desires; his lips stayed parched; he was confused, perplexed, and felt that he had wandered from his path. The reason was that in all those circles he had found no passion; no joy, no ecstasy; no faintest scent of love. And as he went deeper into the core of those manifold beliefs, he discovered that from the day of the Prophet Muhammad’s advent until our own times, innumerable sects have arisen: creeds differing among themselves; disparate opinions, divergent goals, uncounted roads and ways. And he found each one, under some plea or other, claiming to reveal spiritual truth; each one believing that it alone followed the true path—this although the Muhammedic sea could rise in one great tide, and carry all those sects away to the ocean floor. “No cry shalt thou hear from them, nor a whisper even.” [Qur’án 19:98]

Jul 20, 2022

Baha'u'llah's Vision

During October 1852 “Baha’u’llah has a vision of a Maiden, who announces to Him that He is the Manifestation of God for this age. This experience compares to the episode of Moses and the Burning Bush, Zoroaster and the Seven Visions, Buddha under the Bodhi tree, the descent of the Dove upon Jesus and the voice of Gabriel commanding Muhammad to ‘cry in the name of thy Lord.’” 

(A Basic Baha’i Chronology, by Glenn Cameron with Wendi Momen)

Jul 19, 2022

New York, 1912: Being alone with ‘Abdu’l-Baha -- by Howard Colby Ives

Before nine o'clock in the morning I was there, which meant; since I lived some distance from New York, an early start indeed. Already the large reception room was well filled. Evidently others also were conscious of a similar urge. I wondered if they too felt, as I, a burning in the breast.

I remember as if it were yesterday the scene and my impressions. I did not want to talk to anyone. In fact I would not. I withdrew to the window overlooking Broadway and turned my back upon them all. Below me stretched the great city but I saw it not. What was it all about? Why was I here? What did I expect from the coming interview: indeed how did I know there was to be any interview at all? I had no appointment. Plainly all those other folk had come expecting to see and talk with Him. Why should I expect any attention from such an eminent personage?

So I was somewhat withdrawn from the others when my attention was attracted by a rustling throughout the room. A door was opening far across from me and a group was emerging and 'Abdu'l-Baha appeared saying farewell. None had any eyes save for Him. Again I had the impression of a unique dignity and courtesy and love. The morning sunlight flooded the room to center on His robe. His fez was slightly tilted and as I gazed, His hand, with a gesture, evidently characteristic, raised and, touching, restored it to its proper place. His eyes met mine as my fascinated glance was on Him. He smiled and, with a gesture which no word but "lordly" can describe, He beckoned me. Startled gives no hint of my sensations. Something incredible had happened. Why to me, a stranger unknown, unheard of, should He raise that friendly hand? I glanced around. Surely it was to someone else that gesture was addressed, those eyes were smiling! But there was no one near and again I looked and again He beckoned and such understanding love enveloped me that even at that distance and with a heart still cold a thrill ran through me as if a breeze from a divine morning had touched my brow!

Jul 18, 2022

Dr. Furutan - One of the Principals of Tarbiyat School, Secretary of Iranian National Spiritual Assembly for 24 years, One of the Nine Custodial Hands of the Cause

In the face of sustained persecution, Dr. Furutan's family left their native city of Sabzivir in Khurasan, Persia, in 1914 and settled in Ashkhabad, Russia. As a youth he became an active member of the local Baha'i community and, whilst still in his teens, became a teacher in its school. In 1926 he won a scholarship to the University of Moscow to study education and child psychology. In 1930 he returned to Iran where he established a school for Baha'i children in one of the villages. Dr. Furutan was appointed as principal of the Tarbiyat school for boys until its closure in 1934, and wrote study books for Baha’i children’s classes which are still in use. In April 1934 he was elected to the newly formed National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’is of Iran and served as its secretary until the passing of Shoghi Effendi in November of 1957. Dr. Furutan was appointed a Hand of the Cause by Shoghi Effendi, in the first contingent of Hands, in December 1951. In 1957 he became one of the nine custodial Hands of the Cause in Haifa. Dr. Furutan’s Persian publications are extensive, and several have been translated into English. 

(Adapted from ‘A Concise Encyclopedia of the Baha’i Faith’, by Peter Smith)

Jul 17, 2022

Good Deeds to be Distinguished By

Did you know that there are 22 “good deeds” that the beloved Guardian summarized from the Kitab-i-Aqdas – deeds by which “one's self” should be distinguished? They are:

“To be truthful; To be trustworthy; To be faithful; To be righteous and fear God; To be just and fair; To be tactful and wise; To be courteous; To be hospitable ; To be persevering; To be detached; To be absolutely submissive to the Will of God; Not to stir up mischief; Not to be hypocritical; Not to be proud; Not to be fanatical; Not to prefer one's self to one's neighbour; Not to contend with one's neighbour; Not to indulge one's passions; Not to lament in adversity; Not to contend with those in authority; Not to lose one's temper; and Not to anger one's neighbour.” 

- Shoghi Effendi  ('Synopsis and Codification of the Kitab-i-Aqdas'; included in 'The Kitab-i-Aqdas')

Jul 16, 2022

The “erudite, the twenty-two year old Quddus” – “in rank the first of these Letters [of the Living]

The last, but in rank the first, of these Letters to be inscribed on the Preserved Tablet was the erudite, the twenty-two year old Quddus, a direct descendant of the Imam Hasan and the most esteemed disciple of Siyyid Kazim.

- Shoghi Effendi  (God Passes By)

Jul 15, 2022

"...nineteen per cent of one's capital is payable as Huqúqu'lláh..."

This Law [Huqúqu'lláh] of the Aqdas stipulates that nineteen per cent of one's capital is payable as Huqúqu'lláh when such capital has reached an amount of at least "nineteen mithqáls in gold".... In determining the amount a believer should pay, he should first deduct any debts and expenses he may have, and pay nineteen per cent of the remainder of his capital if it is equal to at least nineteen mithqáls of gold.

- The Universal House of Justice  (From a letter dated 21 January 1973; The Compilation of Compilations, vol. I, Huququ’llah)

Jul 14, 2022

Holy Land 1919: 'Abdu'l-Baha with His three grandsons and some believers

Seen in the picture are three of 'Abdu'l-Baha's grandsons: Shoghi Effendi (sitting row, second from right), Ruhi Effendi (sitting row, second from left), and Soheil Effendi (standing, second from right).

Jul 13, 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].

Jul 12, 2022

The Center of the Covenant

When the ocean of My presence hath ebbed and the Book of My Revelation is ended, turn your faces toward Him Whom God hath purposed, Who hath branched from this Ancient Root.

- Baha'u'llah  (The Kitab-i-Aqdas)

Jul 11, 2022

Ethel Rosenberg: "England’s outstanding Baha’i pioneer-worker"

She was born in Bath England, and spent her early childhood there and came to London to study art under Legros at the Slade School. Her specialty was portrait painting, and her red chalk heads were quite remarkable, of which several were in academy; also portraits in the style of Dowman. Although she had painted many beautiful landscapes she practically abandomed this side of her art when she specialized particularly in miniatures. She came into the movement [the Baha’i Faith] in the summer of 1899 and went to ‘Akka soon after.

Miss Ethel J. Rosenberg was one of the pioneers of the Baha’i Faith in the western world in the early days of the Cause. ‘Abdu’l-Baha knew and loved so well this devoted servant of His and had often paid priceless tribute by voice and pen concerning her devotion and untiring labours.

Known and loved by all the members of the Holy family in Haifa and Akka where she had visited for months at a time in the earlier stages of the outpouring of the Baha’i spirit from the East to Europe and America (January 1901 and 1905-6), Miss Rosenberg played no small part in the adaptation of the Baha’i Message to the western mind. Ever modest and unassuming the full value of her work in this capacity seldom appeared on the surface but those who knew her well and were in close touch with her activities were and are well aware of the great assistance she gave to the Master and how valuable was the help she rendered in the translation and transcribing of some of the outstanding works through which the truths of the Baha’i Message were made known to the peoples of the western hemisphere.

Jul 9, 2022

What one would see if God were to lift “the veil” that covers “this earthly plane" - the Báb explains

By the righteousness of Him Who is the Absolute Truth, were the veil to be lifted, thou wouldst witness on this earthly plane all men sorely afflicted with the fire of the wrath of God, a fire fiercer and greater than the fire of hell, with the exception of those who have sought shelter beneath the shade of the tree of My love. For they in very truth are the blissful.…

- The Báb  (‘Selections from the Writings of the Báb)

Jul 8, 2022

“equinox is the symbol of the divine messenger” – an explanation by ‘Abdu’l-Baha

I am extremely glad to see you on this Naw-Ruz occasion. This day is the anniversary of many historical events, among them the victory of the Persians over the Arabs who invaded Persia and were successfully repulsed.

This day in Persia inaugurates a feast which continues for thirteen days and in which all take part, rich and poor alike. They adorn themselves with new clothes and their houses are open to all. Money is distributed, music is played and the houses are decorated with flowers, for it is a fete; work is put aside and enjoyment invited. Travelers in Persia feel this transformation, for the country is in a state of complete renewal. A town which seemed dead yesterday comes to life today. People who looked anxious yesterday, today have faces shining with gladness. The poor man of yesterday, with sordid garments, is well dressed today and the whole national life is infused with joy. From time immemorial this day has been consecrated, for in this there is a symbol.

At this moment the sun appears at the meridian and the day and night are equal. Until today the north pole has been in darkness. This sacred day when the sun illumines equally the whole earth is called the equinox and the equinox is the symbol of the divine messenger. The sun of truth rises on the horizon of divine mercy and sends forth its rays on all. This is the beginning of the spring. When the sun appears at the equinox it causes a movement in all living things. The mineral world is set in motion, plants begin to sprout, the desert is changed into a prairie, trees bud and every living thing responds, including the bodies of animals and men.

Jul 7, 2022

No ‘earthbound’ souls

Question: Are there "earthbound" souls who try to have, and do have, an influence over people, sometimes taking entire possession of their wills?

'Abdu'l-Baha answered, "There are no earthbound souls. When the souls that are not good die, they go entirely away from this earth and so cannot influence anyone. They are spiritually dead. Their thoughts can have influence only while they are alive on the earth. Caiaphas had great influence during his life, but as soon as he died, his influence ceased. It was of this kind that Christ said, 'Let the dead bury their dead.'”

- 'Abdu'l-Baha  (From a table talk by ‘Abdu’l-Baha, ‘Daily Lessons Received at Akka January 1908”, by Helen Goodall and Ella Goodall Cooper)

Jul 6, 2022

Learning from ‘Abdu’l-Baha: – how He introduces aspects of the Faith to His audience

"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)

Jul 5, 2022

The path to follow by each believer when encountering situations in a locality that could potentially be detrimental to the interests of the Faith

Does not 'Abdu'l-Bahá wish us, as He looks down upon us with loving expectation from His glorious Station, to obliterate as much as possible all traces of censure, of conflicting discussions, of cooling remarks, of petty unnecessary observations that impede the onward march of the Cause, that damp the zeal of the firm believer and detract from the sublimity of the Bahá'í Cause in the eyes of the inquirer? In order, however, to insure fair and quick and vigorous action whenever such an evil activity is revealed and has been carefully ascertained, the best and only means would appear to be, for the careful observer, once he is assured of such an evil action, and has grown hopeless of the attitude of kindness and forbearance, to report it quietly to the Spiritual Assembly representative of the friends in that locality and submit the case to their earnest and full consideration. Should the majority of the members of that Assembly be conscientiously convinced of the case -- and this being a national issue affecting the body of the friends in America -- it should, only through the intermediary of that Assembly, be cautiously communicated to that greater body representing all the Assemblies in America, which will in its turn obtain all the available data from the local Assembly in question, study carefully the situation and reserve for itself the ultimate decision. It may, if it decides so, refer to the Holy Land for further consideration and consultation. 

- Shoghi Effendi  (From a letter dated March 5, 1922; ‘Baha'i Administration’)

Jul 4, 2022

The effects of “the Name of God, the Educator”

Consider ... the revelation of the light of the Name of God, the Educator. Behold, how in all things the evidences of such a revelation are manifest, how the betterment of all beings dependeth upon it. This education is of two kinds. The one is universal. Its influence pervadeth all things and sustaineth them. It is for this reason that God hath assumed the title, "Lord of all worlds". The other is confined to them that have come under the shadow of this Name, and sought the shelter of this most mighty Revelation. They, however, that have failed to seek this shelter, have deprived themselves of this privilege, and are powerless to benefit from the spiritual sustenance that hath been sent down through the heavenly grace of this Most Great Name. How great the gulf fixed between the one and the other!... 

- Baha’u’llah  (‘Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh’; The Compilation of Compilations, vol. I, Baha’i Education)

Jul 3, 2022

Book: The Báb, by Hand of the Cause H.M. Balyuzi

Here is a fascinating record of the life of the Báb, Whom Baha’u’llah refers to as “the King of the Messengers”. In the inside cover of the book we read:

"In the middle of the nineteenth century Iran, then remote from the West, was roused and convulsed by the appearance of the Marty-Prophet, the Báb, Whose brief Ministry of six years (1844-50) ended in His own martyrdom and that of thousands of His followers. The Báb was a youthful merchant Who fulfilled wide expectation in The East and West by His declaration that ‘He Whom God shall manifest” would soon arise to guide mankind into a new epoch of spiritual civilization.

The Báb and His religion were observed at first hand by Western diplomats – British, Russian, French, and Austrian, in particular – whose official reports and accounts in books provide unparalleled data for the study of the birth and rise of a faith which, in the words of a Cambridge scholar, Edward Grandville Brown, 'may not impossibly win a place amidst the great religions of the world'.

Mr. Balyuzi has made use of many official documents from governmental records, and also cites material gathered from family archives, accessible to him as a relative of the Báb. His illustrations include several items from these archives."

In the forward section of the book, Hand of the Cause of God Mr. Baluzi indicates that:

Jul 2, 2022

The extent of the suffering of Jesus – some passages from Baha’u’llah’s Writings

And when the days of Moses were ended, and the light of Jesus, shining forth from the dayspring of the Spirit, encompassed the world, all the people of Israel arose in protest against Him. (Baha’u’llah, 'The Book of Certitude')

Reflect how Jesus, the Spirit of God, was, notwithstanding His extreme meekness and perfect tender-heartedness, treated by His enemies. So fierce was the opposition which He, the Essence of Being and Lord of the visible and invisible, had to face, that He had nowhere to lay His head. He wandered continually from place to place, deprived of a permanent abode. (Baha’u’llah, 'Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah')

Jul 1, 2022

A story for children: The Rule of Thumb

Once there were four fingers on a hand. One was tall, two were medium-sized, and one was a small fellow. But aside from this they were all much alike. They faced the same way and stood in a nice row. In a word, they were "normal”.

On the other hand -- no -- on the some hand -- was a thumb. But how different he was! The fingers that were “normal" would get terribly upset at him. “You’re not a real finger! Why can’t you be a normal everyday finger like us?"

They would complain: "We face and move this way but you face and move that way.”

“But I can’t help it,” whined Thumb. "I was made this way; I grew out of the side of the hand and not out of the end like you.”

“Well, ok,” they cut in, "but we all have three joints and you only have two.”

"Now, not quite so fast,” said Thumb. "I have only two that you can see, but inside the hand is a third big joint covered with a large muscle that makes me strong. If it were not for this I wouldn't be able to move like this… and this… and even get close to you like this…”

"Oo… ooh! Go back to your place. It’s clear now that we are superior and you are inferior; we are high and you are low. We were created apart. Our ways are different than yours. You are strange and different. Now let us stay apart.”

Poor Thumb felt so lonely and left out. He cried and cried. “Why am I so different? Why must I always be left out? Surely, since I was created, I must be good for something.”