Aug 31, 2022

The Báb's schoolmaster

The principal of the school that the Báb attended when He was almost five years old has left the following description about Shaykh ‘Abid, the Báb’s schoolmaster. It should be noted that in those years in Persia, the schools basically taught students how to read and write passages from the Qur’an.

“The honored Shaykh ‘Abid, a man of many qualities, was the schoolmaster and taught the children of the noblemen, the affluent, the merchants and other distinguished citizens. He was tall, ever-dignified man with a long beard. A follower of the late Shaykh Ahmad Ahsa’i and Siyyid Kazim Rashti, he ranked among the leading figures and divines in Shiraz. …. Those wishing for their youngster to receive tuition from him, had to come beforehand and meet with him in person. They would ask the Shaykh for a place either through a letter or through a distinguished intermediary. This was because the Shaykh did not accept the children of just anyone and was particularly reluctant to accept lads from the bazzari shopkeepers, because of all their ill manners and dirty clothing.”

Mirza Habibu’llah Afnan  ('The Genesis of the Bábi-Baha’i Faiths in Shiraz', translated by Ahang Rabbani)

Aug 30, 2022

A Baha’i Teaching: Academic schools should also train children in ethical conduct and virtuous character

… schools for academic studies must at the same time be training centres in behaviour and conduct, and they must favour character and conduct above the sciences and arts. Good behaviour and high moral character must come first, for unless the character be trained, acquiring knowledge will only prove injurious. Knowledge is praiseworthy when it is coupled with ethical conduct and virtuous character; otherwise it is a deadly poison, a frightful danger. 

- ‘Abdu’l-Baha  (From a Tablet; ‘Baha’i Education’: A compilation prepared by the Research Department of the Universal House of Justice)

Aug 29, 2022

June 17, 1975: Excavation began at site of Universal House of Justice Building

Joyfully announce commencement excavation site Universal House of Justice Building arc Mount Carmel. Contract removal forty thousand cubic meters rock and earth at cost approximately two hundred thousand dollars. Invite all believers contribute unstintingly building fund ensure uninterrupted progress historic undertaking.

Universal House of Justice

June 17, 1975 

(Baha'i News, July 1975)

Aug 28, 2022

A prayer for protection of Baha’is in Iran

O God, my God! Thou seest Thy loved ones turning their hearts to Thee, and holding fast unto the cord of Thy ordinances and laws. I beseech Thee by the waves of the sea of Thine utterance, and by Him through whom Thou didst adorn the heavens of Thy might, to graciously protect them by the aid of Thy hosts.

O God! Thou beholdest Thy lovers in Iran in the clutches of hate and enmity. I beg of Thee, by Thy mercy which hath preceded the contingent world, to raise up from the earth those who will be moved to aid and protect them, and to preserve their rights and the restitution due to them by those who broke Thy Covenant and Testament, and perpetrated such acts as made the inmates of the cities of Thy justice and equity to lament. Thou art, verily, the All-Powerful, the All-Knowing, the All-Wise.

- Baha’u’llah, (‘Fire and Light, Excerpts from the Bahá'í Sacred Writings’, prepared by the Research Department of the Universal House of Justice; The Baha’i World 1979-1983)

Aug 27, 2022

The power that is bringing peoples from the East and West together

The Báb and Bahá'u'lláh over sixty years ago proclaimed the glad tidings of universal peace. The Báb was martyred in the Cause of God. Bahá'u'lláh suffered forty years as a prisoner and exile in order that the Kingdom of love might be established in the East and West. He has made it possible for us to meet here in love and unity. Because He suffered imprisonment, we are free to proclaim the oneness of the world of humanity for which He stood so long and faithfully. He was chained in dungeons, He was without food, His companions were thieves and criminals, He was subjected to every kind of abuse and infliction, but throughout it all He never ceased to proclaim the reality of the Word of God and the oneness of humanity. We have been brought together here by the power of His Word -- you from America, I from Persia -- all in love and unity of spirit. Was this possible in former centuries? If it is possible now after fifty years of sacrifice and teaching, what shall we expect in the wonderful centuries coming? 

- ‘Abdu’l-Baha  (From a talk, 12 April, 1912, New York; ‘The Promulgation of Universal Peace: Talks Delivered by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá during His Visit to the United States and Canada in 1912’)

Aug 26, 2022

In 1844 the Báb “proclaimed God’s hidden Cause and unveiled its well-guarded Pillar”

God beareth Me witness, I was not a man of learning, for I was trained as a merchant. In the year sixty [1] God graciously infused my soul with the conclusive evidences and weighty knowledge which characterize Him Who is the Testimony of God—may peace be upon Him—until finally in that year I proclaimed God’s hidden Cause and unveiled its well-guarded Pillar, in such wise that no one could refute it. “That he who should perish might perish with a clear proof before him and he who should live might live by clear proof.” [2]

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

[1] 1260 A.H. (1844 A.D.)            

[2] Qur’án 8:44

Aug 24, 2022

“Love is… the Holy Spirit's eternal breath”

Love is heaven's kindly light, the Holy Spirit's eternal breath that vivifieth the human soul.

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

Aug 23, 2022

“The children must, from their infancy, be raised to be spiritual and godly Bahá'ís.”

O thou teacher of the children of the kingdom! Thou hast arisen to perform a service which would justly entitle thee to vaunt thyself over all the teachers on earth. For the teachers of this world make use of human education to develop the powers, whether spiritual or material, of humankind, whilst thou art training these young plants in the gardens of God according to the education of Heaven, and art giving them the lessons of the Kingdom. The result of this kind of teaching will be that it will attract the blessings of God, and make manifest the perfections of man. 

Hold thou fast to this kind of teaching, for the fruits of it will be very great. The children must, from their infancy, be raised to be spiritual and godly Bahá'ís. If such be their training, they will remain safe from every test.

- ‘Abdu’l-Baha  (The Compilation of Compilations, vol. I, Baha’i Education)

Aug 21, 2022

“in this age the speech of the believers of God must be the soul entrancing melody of the Kingdom of Abha”

How long are ye silent and speechless! Although ye are speaking, yet in this age the speech of the believers of God must be the soul entrancing melody of the Kingdom of Abha and the harmony of the Supreme Concourse! Therefore 'Abdu'l-Baha is not satisfied with a meek voice and depressing lamentation! He seeks the passionate tumult and joyous clamor and he roars and cries at the top of his voice so that the realities of things may stir into movement and action and the Beloved of Bounty unveil her Countenance in the world of creation! Those friends must, like unto the stars in heaven, shine and gleam in the horizon of Truth with the Light of Guidance so that the realities of the existent beings and the spirit of humankind may find joy and happiness!  

- ‘Abdu’l-Baha Abbas  (From a Tablet; Star of the West, vol. 1. No. 5, June5, 1910)

Aug 20, 2022

Story for children: Baha’u’llah receives His Mission from God

Baha'u'llah lived in Persia. He was a wonderful person. His hair was black and His beard was black. He had happy, laughing eyes, and He made everybody happy because He loved them so much. He rode on horseback and He was brave and strong. He was just like a king.

His wife was called Navvab. Her hair was black and her eyes were dark blue. She was very beautiful. Her heart was so pure and she was so gentle. She loved everybody and she made them happy too.

Baha'u'llah and His wife were very rich. They had three children. The eldest was a boy named 'Abbas Effendi, and He was nine years old. When He grew up He was called 'Abdu'l-Baha. The next was a little girl named Bahiyyih Khanum, and she was six. When she grew up she was called the Greatest Holy Leaf. And the smallest was a little boy named Mirza Mihdi, and he was two. When he grew up he was called the Purest Branch.

They all lived in a big house that looked like a palace and had many servants. One maid-servant was black. One man-servant was named Isfandiyar. The black maid-servant and Isfandiyar loved Baha'u'llah and His family more than all the others did.

The house was full of beautiful things. There were Persian rugs, and gold ornaments and fine hangings. When Navvab had married Baha'u'llah her wedding treasures were so great that it took forty mules to carry them to the house. Her clothes were so pretty, even the buttons were of gold set with precious stones. The children wore beautiful clothes too.

In those days all the men in Persia wore a special sort of coat, it was called an 'aba, and Baha'u'llah wore an 'aba. He wore a turban too.

In those days all the ladies in Persia wore veils and big, dark cloaks that covered them all up. When Navvab went visiting she wore one of those big cloaks and a veil, and she travelled in a covered seat on the back of a mule. A mule is like a big donkey.

Aug 19, 2022

Book: Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Baha

In the preface to this book, which was published by the Universal House of Justice in 1978, we read:

‘Abdu’l-Baha’s exposition of the Baha’i Revelation is recorded in His written works, in the many compilations of His recorded utterances, and in His correspondence. The written works such as The Secret of Divine Civilization, A Traveller’s Narrative, the Will and Testament, are available in English translations. Likewise many compilations of His recorded utterances, among which may be mentioned Some Answered Questions, Memorials of the Faithful, Paris Talks, are kept in print. Not for sixty years, however, has any large compilation, in English, of His innumerable letters been made; the three volumes of Tablets of ‘Abdu’l-Baha published the United States between 1909 and 1916, although running into second editions, have long been out of print.

The present compilation attempts a much wider selection than was made for those early volumes, and its perusal will give some indication of the vast range of subjects dealt with by the Master in His correspondence. Included are a number of Tablets translated by a Committee at the World Centre using early drafts made by Shoghi Effendi during ‘Abdu’l-Baha’s lifetime, and a large number by Marzieh Gale, sent to her from the World Centre’s collection of more than 19,000 original and authenticated copies. Some famous Tablets, such as the correspondence with Auguste Forel, or the greater part of the Tablet to the Hague, have been omitted since they are available in separate publications.

The happy and blessed recipients of the vast majority of the Tablets here included were the early believers of the east and west, whether individuals, groups, organized committees or assemblies of the friends, and their value to the nascent communities of the west in those days when Baha’i literature in English was meagre in the extreme, cannot be overestimated.

It is believed that publication of these writings of the Master will serve to increase the fervour of His lovers in responding to His call and add to their perception of that wondrous harmony of the human and divine which He, the Mystery of God, so perfectly exemplified.

Aug 18, 2022

Not “to show kindness to a person who is a tyrant, a traitor or a thief”

The foundation of the Kingdom of God is laid upon justice, fairness, mercy, sympathy and kindness to every soul. Then strive ye with heart and soul to practice love and kindness to the world of humanity at large, except to those souls who are selfish and insincere. It is not advisable to show kindness to a person who is a tyrant, a traitor or a thief because kindness encourages him to become worse and does not awaken him. The more kindness you show to a liar the more he is apt to lie, for he thinks that you know not, while you do know, but extreme kindness keeps you from revealing your knowledge. 

- ‘Abdu'l-Baha  (‘Baha'i World Faith’)

Aug 17, 2022

Spiritual mother of the Canadian Bahá’í community

May Ellis Maxwell -- spiritual mother of the Canadian Bahá'í community became a believer in 1898, visited ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in Haifa in 1899 and returned to Paris to found the First Bahá’í centre on the European continent, married Sutherland Maxwell and settled in Montreal in 1902, achieved “the priceless honour” of a “martyr’s Death” in Argentina in 1940. 

(Footnotes in ‘Messages to Canada’)

Aug 16, 2022

Human soul is God’s Sanctuary -- reason is God’s Throne

The soul is the Sanctuary of God; Reason is His Throne. 

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

Aug 14, 2022

Two references from Jesus concerning continuation of divine Revelation after Him

To them that are endowed with understanding, it is clear and manifest that when the fire of the love of Jesus consumed the veils of Jewish limitations, and His authority was made apparent and partially enforced, He the Revealer of the unseen Beauty, addressing one day His disciples, referred unto His passing, and, kindling in their hearts the fire of bereavement, said unto them: “I go away and come again unto you.” And in another place He said: “I go and another will come Who will tell you all that I have not told you, and will fulfil all that I have said.” Both these sayings have but one meaning, were you to ponder upon the Manifestations of the Unity of God with divine insight. 

- Baha’u’llah  ('The Kitab-i-Iqan [The Book of Certitude])

Aug 13, 2022

October 1896 - last month 'Abdu'l-Baha and family stayed in House of Abbud

After Baha’u’llah left the barracks (4 November 1870), He lived in a succession of houses in various parts of the city [of Akka] (the houses of Malik, Khawwam and Rabi'a) before moving into a house belonging to ‘Udi Khammir, a Christian merchant (also the owner of the mansion of Bahji) in September 1871. It was here that ‘Abdu’l-Baha was married and the Kitab-i-Aqdas revealed. The larger adjoining house of 'Abbud was later rented and openings made to join the two houses together, the whole complex becoming known as the House of 'Abbud. 'Abdu'l-Baha and His family remained resident until about October 1896. The room of Baha'u'llah became a place of pilgrimage during His lifetime. With the marriages of 'Abdu'l-Baha's daughters (1896 onwards) the House of 'Abbud was no longer adequate for the growing family, and parts of the complex of buildings known as the House of 'Abdu’llah Pasha were rented. This is where Shoghi Effendi was born (March 1897) and the early Western pilgrims met 'Abdu'l-Baha (from December 1898). After ‘Abdu’l-Baha moved to Haifa the house was no longer in Baha’i hands, and eventually fell into disrepair. It was purchased by the Baha'is in 1975, and after extensive restoration was opened to Baha'i pilgrimage in 1983. 

- Peter Smith  (‘A Concise Encyclopedia of the Baha’i Faith’)

Aug 12, 2022

How to become free from material attachments

Question: How must we cut our hearts from the World?

‘Abdu’l-Baha: “The hearts that are directed towards God, the love that burns in them, that love will separate them from all other things; that love will be the wall that will come between them and every other desire.”

“The nearer to God the farther from the world; the nearer to the fire, the farther from the cold; the nearer to life, the farther from death. This is the balance, this is the balance!” 

- 'Abdu'l-Baha  (Utterances of ‘Abdu’l-Baha, recorded by Anne Apperson Flint during her pilgrimage, February 1899, Akka)

Aug 11, 2022

Virtues a teacher of the Cause should strive for

The aim is this: The intention of the teacher must be pure, his heart independent, his spirit attracted, his thought at peace, his resolution firm, his magnanimity exalted and in the love of God a shining torch. Should he become as such, his sanctified breath will even affect the rock; otherwise there will be no result whatsoever. 

- ‘Abdu’l-Bahá  (‘Tablets of the Divine Plan’)

Aug 9, 2022

“Badi (Wonderful)”; “Pride of Martyrs”; Apostle of Baha’u’llah

Born Aqa Buzurg-i-Nishapuri, the son of a devoted Babi, he was later given the title Badi' (unique, wonderful) by Baha’u’llah. Reputed to be a wild, unruly youth, he had no interest in his father's affairs until, during the visit to his home of a traveling teacher, Mulla Muhammadi-Zarandi (Nabil-i-A'zam), he listened to some verses from a long poem by Baha’u’llah and was so entranced that he devoted the balance of his life to serving Him. After his conversion he set out to visit Him, traveling on foot from Mosul to 'Akka. It was during this visit that he was chosen to deliver a letter (Tablet) from Baha’u’llah to Nasiri'd-Din Shah . (‘The A to Z’ of the Baha’i Faith by Hugh Adamson)

 Shoghi Effendi describes these events in the following passage:

Aqa Buzurg of Khurasan, the illustrious "Badi" (Wonderful); converted to the Faith by Nabil; surnamed the "Pride of Martyrs"; the seventeen year old bearer of the Tablet addressed to Nisiri'd-Din Shah; in whom, as affirmed by Baha’u’llah, "the spirit of might and power was breathed," was arrested, branded for three successive days, his head beaten to a pulp with the butt of a rifle, after which his body was thrown into a pit and earth and stones heaped upon it. After visiting Baha’u’llah in the barracks, during the second year of His confinement, he had arisen with amazing alacrity to carry that Tablet, alone and on foot, to Tihran and deliver it into the hands of the sovereign. A four months' journey had taken him to that city, and, after passing three days in fasting and vigilance, he had met the Shah proceeding on a hunting expedition to Shimiran. He had calmly and respectfully approached His Majesty, calling out, "O King! I have come to thee from Sheba with a weighty message"; whereupon at the Sovereign's order, the Tablet was taken from him and delivered to the mujtahids of Tihran who were commanded to reply to that Epistle - a command which they evaded, recommending instead that the messenger should be put to death. That Tablet was subsequently forwarded by the Shah to the Persian Ambassador in Constantinople, in the hope that its perusal by the Sultan's ministers might serve to further inflame their animosity. For a space of three years Baha'u'llah continued to extol in His writings the heroism of that youth, characterizing the references made by Him to that sublime sacrifice as the "salt of My Tablets." (Shoghi Effendi, ‘God Passes By’)

Aug 8, 2022

The “emergence of His [Baha’u’llah’s] embryonic World Order…has ‘deranged the equilibrium of the world and revolutionized mankind’s ordered life’”

To what else can the observant eye or the unprejudiced mind, acquainted with the signs and portents heralding the birth, and accompanying the rise, of the Faith of Bahá’u’lláh ascribe this dire, this planetary upheaval, with its attendant destruction, misery and fear, if not to the emergence of His embryonic World Order, which, as He Himself has unequivocally proclaimed, has “deranged the equilibrium of the world and revolutionized mankind’s ordered life”?

- Shoghi Effendi  (Preface to ‘God Passes By’)

Aug 7, 2022

The Guardian undertook the translation of the first part of Nabil’s narrative – published in 1932 as ‘The Dawn-Breakers’

Concurrent with the period when these first illuminating letters on such major subjects were streaming from the pen of Shoghi Effendi, he undertook the translation of two books. In a letter written on 4 July 1930 Shoghi Effendi says "I feel exceedingly tired after a strenuous year of work, particularly as I have managed to add to my labours the translation of the Íqán, which I have already sent to America." This was the first of his major translations, Bahá'u'lláh's great exposition on the station and role of the Manifestations of God, more particularly in the light of Islamic teachings and prophecies, known as the Kitáb-i-Íqán of Book of Certitude. It was an invaluable adjunct to the western Bahá'ís in their study of the Faith they had embraced and infinitely enriched their understanding of Divine Revelation.

During that same year [1929-1930] the Guardian began work on the second book published during this period, a work that was neither a translation of Bahá'u'lláh's words nor one of Shoghi Effendi's general letters, but which must be considered a literary masterpiece and one of his most priceless gifts for all time. This was the translation of the first part of the narrative compiled by a contemporary follower of both the Báb and Bahá'u'lláh known as Nabil, which was published in 1932 under the title The Dawn-Breakers.

- Hand of the Cause Ruhiyyih Khanum  (‘The Priceless Pearl’)

Aug 5, 2022

A prayer for believers: - protection; receiving God's nourishment

Glorified art Thou, O Lord my God! Every man of insight confesseth Thy sovereignty and Thy dominion, and every discerning eye perceiveth the greatness of Thy majesty and the compelling power of Thy might. 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.

I beseech Thee, O my God, by them and by the sighs which their hearts utter in their separation from Thee, to keep them safe from the mischief of Thine adversaries, and to nourish their souls with what Thou hast ordained for Thy loved ones on whom shall come no fear and who shall not be put to grief.

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

Aug 4, 2022

Learning and the Evolution of the Bahá’í Community - by Paul Lample

Plenary talk given at the 32nd annual conference of the Association for Bahá’í Studies – North America

29 August to 1 September 2008

[Before change took place in the current culture of the Bahá’í community ]

“It is incumbent upon every man of insight and understanding,” Bahá’u’lláh states, “to strive to translate that which hath been written into reality and action.”[1] To be a Bahá’í, to “live the life,” means to comprehend the Word of God and act on it, individually and collectively. It is to make the reality of one’s personal life and the pattern of society at large reflect the teachings. Bahá’u’lláh Himself affirms that “the object of every Revelation” is to “effect a transformation in the whole character of mankind, a transformation that shall manifest itself both outwardly and inwardly, that shall affect both its inner life and external conditions.” Otherwise, He observes, “the futility of God’s universal Manifestations would be apparent.”[2]

Collectively, we receive the gift of the Word of God, and through its application we are to raise the Kingdom of God on earth; that is, we are to gradually contribute to the building of a new social order that is shaped by the truths of the Revelation of Bahá’u’lláh. This statement appears simple, yet implicit in it is a challenge to reflect deeply about how we are to understand and behave. Achieving Bahá’u’lláh’s intended purpose for the human race requires new morals, new ways of generating knowledge, new ways of communicating, new ways of acting, and new institutions. How do we Bahá’ís, with our diverse, sometimes conflicting, understandings of Bahá’u’lláh’s teachings, collaborate to bring about the society that reflects His will? The answer will have to be found in learning, over time, to better understand the text and translate it into efficacious action consistent with its divine intent.

Read more…

Aug 3, 2022

Children to “peruse the divine verses every morn and eve”

Teach ye your children so that they may peruse the divine verses every morn and eve. God hath prescribed unto every father to educate his children, both boys and girls, in the sciences and in morals, and in crafts and professions.... 

- Baha’u’llah  (The Compilation of Compilations, vol. 1, Extracts from the Writings concerning arts and crafts)

Aug 2, 2022

Prayer-beads and rings of Bahá’u’lláh and the Báb


Bahá'u'lláh's prayer-beads and ring (right), the Bab's prayer-beads and ring (left), Baha'u'llah's pen-case and tea-glass

Aug 1, 2022

From His childhood the Báb was unlike other children

Even as a very young child the Bab was unlike other children. Those who visited His parents' home were struck by the purity and sweetness of His character, by His serenity and His extreme courtesy. He cared little for the pastimes of other children and chanted His prayers in a melodious, enraptured voice. He was handsome and dignified and his extraordinary knowledge and wisdom astounded all who met Him, yet He was humble and gentle and tender-hearted. He was in every way a remarkable child. 

- Mary Perkins  (‘The Hour of Dawn, The Life of the Báb’, based on works of Nabil-i-A’zam, and H.M. Balyuzi)