New Compilation on Prayer and Devotional Life from the Baha’i World Centre

The Baha’i World Centre has recently released a new compilation on prayer and devotional life which can be read online at the Baha’i Reference Library here. Prepared by the Research Department of the Universal House of Justice, this compilation features extracts from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, the Bab, and Abdu’l-Baha and the letters of Shoghi Effendi and the Universal House of Justice.  Continue reading

Celebrating 200 Baha’i Blog Studio Sessions Around the World!

I am so excited to be sharing the news that Baha’i Blog has just hit the huge milestone of publishing our 200th Studio Session, yes that’s right, our 200th Baha’i Blog Studio Session! (And it’s also kind of cool that this happened in the year that Baha’is around the world will be celebrating the 200th anniversary of the Birth of the Bab, the forerunner to Baha’u’llah, the Prophet founder of the Baha’i Faith).

If you haven’t heard of Baha’i Blog Studio Sessions, then I encourage you to check it out, but basically it’s an initiative where we invite Baha’is and their friends around the world, to come into a studio on location, and then we film and record an original song which must be based on the Baha’i Writings or letters of Shoghi Effendi, or the Universal House of Justice (though we have made some rare exceptions to this rule such as this tribute to Mona Mahmudnizhad by Tom Francis singing a cover of Doug Cameron’s “Mona With the Children”). We then make these videos and audio recordings available weekly on our YouTube Channel and SoundCloud page for everyone to listen to and be inspired!

We started Baha’i Blog Studio Sessions about three years ago, partly inspired by a letter from the Universal House of Justice which stated: “We long to see, for instance, the emergence of captivating songs from every part of the world, in every language, that will impress upon the consciousness of the young the profound concepts enshrined in the Baha’i teachings.”

So far we’ve published songs from 36 global locations in 28 different languages, and I’m always blown away by all of the wonderful talent and songs that exist in communities worldwide! We couldn’t have come this far without the help of so many wonderful souls who have not only taken part by singing in the Studio Sessions, but to all those who have helped in so many different ways, from picking people up from a train station, to helping to edit the videos. We’d really like to thank EVERYONE who has helped so far, in making this wonderful contribution to the arts a reality!

As many of you know, music and the arts are of significance in the teachings of the Baha’i Faith, and the Baha’i Blog team has been working hard over the years to help encourage and celebrate the arts in its various forms. So it’s no wonder that we’re super excited about this achievement, and we thought a good way to celebrate these 200 songs would be to list one example of each of the 28 languages we have represented so far, and then list one example from each of the 36 locations as well. Continue reading

The Fast: A Simulated “Mini-Crisis” for Testing and Building Resilience

Recently I’ve been further wondering what spiritual effects we can expect when we refrain from food. Abdu’l-Baha tells us:

But mere abstention from food has no effect on the spirit. It is only a symbol, a reminder. Otherwise it is of no importance.

The Baha’i Teachings say food or illness do not touch the soul. So why do we fast and how does it enhance our spiritual experience? In this article, I’ll explore some main themes addressing the symbolic nature of abstaining from food, followed by some reflection questions you may find useful. These thoughts are based on my understanding of the Writings, my personal experiences, and my work as a holistic healthcare practitioner (and if you’d like to read more you may wish to check out my book, The Supreme Remedy).  Continue reading

Four Spiritual Benefits of Fasting: A Personal Reflection

As Baha’i Blog ends its seventh year, I can’t help but be amazed at the different perspectives with which a diversity of Baha’i Blog writers have approached the 19 day Baha’i Fast. For example, Kamelia wrote about fasting for love, Collis shared some health tips, Chetan wrote about conquering his fear of fasting, Amy shared her experiences fasting while caring for young children, Naysan wrote about what the Fast helps us strengthen, and I wrote about how you can partake and participate in the Fast, even when you’re eating.

Leading up to, and during the Fast, I like to revisit the compilation called The Importance of Obligatory Prayer and Fasting, and this year, my reading has me thinking about four spiritual benefits of fasting: Continue reading

Helping the Homeless Colorado: Working to Put an End to Homelessness

It’s not every day that you meet a teenager who co-founded an organization to help others! But that’s exactly what Matine Khalighi did when he and his friends started Helping the Homeless Colorado, a not-for-profit that works to put an end to homelessness and to assist those in need. I recently met Matine at the Grand Canyon Baha’i Conference, and his determination to take action and help people in his community is really inspiring, and I’m so glad I got a chance to hear from him about his organization, how it started, and what he’s learned in the process. Here’s our conversation:  Continue reading

What Ayyam-i-Ha Means to Me & My Family

Three years ago in February, our family was united after an arduous adoption journey. We arrived a family of four to the Democratic Republic of the Congo on the first day of Ayyam-i-Ha and left a complete family of six. That year, the days of this festival were marked with exceptional joy, fellowship and opportunities for service; and as a family, we see the days of Ayyam-i-Ha as a gift and opportunity each year to remember how thankful we are for one another, for our wonderful Faith, our community and the opportunity to be of service wherever we are.  Continue reading

Book About Robert Sengstacke Abbott for Young Readers by Susan Engle

I first collaborated with Susan Engle when we showcased her tiny prayer book and her tiny introduction on the Baha’i Faith — truly, they’re really tiny books! I was excited to see that Susan, an accomplished writer of stories, poems and songs for children, has a new book out! It’s called Robert Sengstacke Abbott: A Man, a Paper, and a Parade. I’m afraid to admit I had never heard of Robert Sengstacke Abbott so I was happy to learn a little bit about him, and to hear about the book, from Susan herself! Here’s what she shared with us:

Baha’i Blog: Hi Susan! It’s great to interview you again! To begin, what inspired you to put this book together?

A friend of mine who lives in the Chicago area, Bonnie Taylor, went to a presentation about Robert Sengstacke Abbott given by his great niece, Myiti Sengstacke Rice. Bonnie has a special passion for race unity (she compiled the book Pupil of the Eye), and when Ms. Rice hoped that someone would write a biography for young people about his life, Bonnie got in touch with me to help make Ms. Rice’s wish come true. There is a very large parade in Chicago every year that Mr. Abbott began especially for African American kids. Millions of kids have attended the parade over the years, but they don’t know much about the man who started it all. I was just retiring from work with Brilliant Star children’s magazine and was feeling in need of creative projects. I’d written several two- and three-page biographies for the magazine over the years, but not a full-length book. I felt a little nervous about taking it on. Bonnie had confidence that I could do a good job, so I said I’d give it a try.

Continue reading

Uniting the World, Two Hearts at a Time

“Each sees in the other the Beauty of God reflected in the soul, and finding this point of similarity, they are attracted to one another in love. This love will make all men the waves of one sea, this love will make them all the stars of one heaven and the fruits of one tree. This love will bring the realization of true accord, the foundation of real unity.” -Abdu’l-Baha

In 1904, Florence Breed and Ali-Kuli Khan married in Boston. Breed was American and Khan was Iranian; their union symbolized East and West uniting in the Baha’i Faith. When Abdu’l-Baha visited the US in 1912, the Khans hosted a luncheon for Him in Washington, D.C. There, Abdu’l-Baha defied social convention by giving Louis Gregory, an African-American Baha’i, the seat of honor.  Continue reading

4 Things I Am Learning About the Covenant and Families

There are many terms in the Baha’i Faith’s Teachings that are easy to read but often difficult to understand and that require life-long study and deepening. One of them is the Covenant, in this case, the Lesser Covenant (if you’d like to know more about the Greater and Lesser Covenants, you can read about them here). In its essence, it’s a mutual promise between Baha’u’llah and anyone who believes He’s brought a new message from God and strives to uphold His Teachings.  Continue reading