Category Archives Books

Awakening: A History of the Babi and Baha’i Faiths in Nayriz

Many Baha’is are familiar with the events described in the book The Dawnbreakers, where followers of the Bab were under attack and siege by the Persian army, but aside from these descriptions in the Dawnbreakers, very little is known about the many events which took place during this turbulent period of our Faith’s early history. That is why the new book Awakening: A History of the Babi and Baha’i Faiths in Nayriz by Dr. Hussein Ahdieh and Hillary Chapman is so important.

Now for the first time, many of the gaps in the history of our Faith during that period have been filled, as one of Dr. Ahdieh’s ancestors, a young boy named Shafi, was one of the few male survivors who had witnessed the horrific events which took place around him in the Persian town of Nayriz. At the request of Baha’u’llah, Shafi documented these events in his diary, and it is this diary which played an important role in the research for this book.

Besides being a Baha’i Historian and an author, Dr. Hussein Ahdieh is also a good friend of mine and I was able to spend some time with him while I was visiting New York recently. We spoke about this wonderful new book and he agreed to tell me and our Baha’i Blog readers more about Awakening. Continue reading

A Celestial Burning: A Selective Study of the Writings of Shoghi Effendi

I recently had the opportunity to attend the 37th Annual Association for Baha’i Studies Conference in Irvine, California, and during the conference I was able to meet J.A. McLean, the author of A Celestial Burning.

This recently published work is a comprehensive study of selected writings of Shoghi Effendi, and the book won the Association for Baha’i Studies 2013 “distinguished scholarship” award in the book category, and according to the Academic Director of the Association, Dr. Pierre-Yves Mocquais, the award was a unanimous decision by the judges.

J.A. McLean spent over a decade working on A Celestial Burning, and there’s no doubt that readers will develop a deeper appreciation for the writings of the Guardian through this book.

I decided to catch-up with J.A. McLean to find out more about the book and his experience in taking on this important work:  Continue reading

WhyUnite? Introductory Baha’i Materials for Everyone

A couple of months ago I wrote a post here on Baha’i Blog called 10 Great Introductory Books on the Baha’i Faith and my aim was to showcase some of the books available for those who want to learn more about the Baha’i Faith. The reality though, is that different people learn in different ways and maybe some of those books are not for everyone, or you’re simply looking for new materials to share with your friends, so that’s why I’m happy to introduce an awesome new initiative called WhyUnite?.

WhyUnite? is series of compelling introductory materials about the Baha’i Faith and the aim is to provide individuals with a variety of options to help them in their exploration of the Faith. Based on the idea that each person learns differently, and that every individual has a unique path they must follow in order to find the truth, meaning, and purpose that will help them reach their fullest potential in the world, WhyUnite? offers a choice of books, compilations, video talks, interviews, events, and more to help introduce the Faith.

This initiative has been a labor of love for husband and wife team Nathan and Sarah Thomas, and I managed to catch up with Nathan to find out more about these wonderful new resources. Continue reading

The Seven Valleys: A Road Map for Life’s Eternal Journey

Even though, as Abdu’l-Baha says, “Every soul is fashioned after the nature of God, each being pure and holy at birth”, as soon as we are born we enter the realm of opposing forces and a lifelong spiritual journey becomes necessary to draw out the virtues and spiritual qualities within us so we can develop more fully our inner nature and potential.

This vital spiritual quest might be thought of as a process of “soul-making,” or what the English poet John Keats says we, as “sparks of the divinity”, undergo in this “World of Pains and troubles” in order “to school an Intelligence and make it a soul.” It is what English teacher and Jungian analyst Marion Woodman says happens “when time meets the timeless” as we constantly confront “the paradox that an eternal being is dwelling in a temporal body.” Soul-making is all about communicating deeply with the inner realm, being fully awake and aware as the numinous bursts forth from the unconscious; it is about experiencing the universals of life. Continue reading

10 Great Introductory Books on the Baha’i Faith

Although many of us are going online nowadays to find out more information about something we’d like to know more about, there’s still a lot of non-accurate and misleading information about the Baha’i Faith online, and I still get asked by friends whether I can suggest or lend them an introductory book about the Faith.

So for those of us who still like to read books or get asked to suggest an introductory book about the Baha’i Faith, I thought it may be useful to list some for you to read or share with your friends. I’ve purposefully left out books which only focus on the Baha’i Faith and a specific religion (such as Thief In The Night by William Sears, which is a wonderful book, but is focused on the Baha’i Faith from a Catholic perspective) and I’ve tried to keep my choices general, but I’d love to hear about any other introductory books on the Faith you’d recommend and if any of these in particular have resonated with you.

Here are the ten introductory books about the Baha’i Faith in no particular order:  Continue reading

Of Wars and Worship – The Extraordinary Story of Gertrude and Alvin Blum


Alvin Blum reached out and shook the hand of the Solomon Islander.

This simple act said it all about Alvin’s very real belief in the oneness of humanity.

The everyday greeting of shaking hands was not practiced between Europeans and locals in the Solomons in the 1950s. There still existed an insidious “master-boy relationship” produced by colonialism.

But Alvin, like his wife Gertrude, was a true Baha’i and was having none of it.

Not only did Alvin shake the man’s hand, but he invited him home for a meal where Gertrude’s delicious stew and hot tea accompanied discussions of spiritual things in an atmosphere of love, laughter and equality.

“The news of this event soon spread through the village networks,” writes Keithie Saunders in Of Wars and Worship, her emotionally gripping biography of her parents, who were named Knights of Baha’u’llah for introducing the Faith to the Solomon Islands.

The man Alvin greeted with a handshake, Bill Gina, became the first Baha’i in the Solomons.

As the book recounts, over the decades to come – in their everyday spontaneous acts of kindness as well as in their planned activities in business and for the Baha’i Faith – the Blums demonstrated their heartfelt commitment to the fundamental principle of Baha’u’llah, that all people are equal members of one human family. Continue reading

The Baha’i Faith in Words and Images

Oneworld Publications has just released a fantastic new book called The Baha’i Faith in Words and Images.

The book combines breathtaking photography and intelligent accompanying text to produce a beautiful coffee-table book, which gives readers comprehensive coverage of the Faith’s teachings, texts, practices, community life and organization, with images reflecting its rich architectural heritage and the international diversity of its members.

Paul Slaughter spent three years travelling around the world to capture the photographs for the book, and John Danesh and Seena Fazel wrote the accompanying text. Many of you may have already seen the Youtube video where comedian Omid Djalili  has a chat with John and Seena about the book (which I’ve included at the bottom of this post).

I actually just received my very own copy of the book in the mail, and a while back, I had interviewed Oneworld co-founder Juliet Mabey about Oneworld Publications here on Baha’i Blog, so I decided to get in touch with her again to find out more about this wonderful new book . Continue reading

The Fellowship Farm Book Series: An Interview with Melanie Lotfali

It’s not often you hear about Baha’i inspired novels aimed at children, and so when I heard that there was this great series of  books called The Fellowship Farm series, I had to find out more.

The Fellowship Farm books are a series of ten novels for primary school aged children. Readers follow the Fitzgerald family who live on a farm in Tasmania, Australia as they go about their daily life. The Fitzgerald family experience crisis and victory, seize and neglect opportunities to develop their virtues, achieve (and on occasion fail to achieve) unity, as they go to school, work on the farm, go camping, find abandoned puppies, live through bullying and a even a snake bite, build a tree house, host Holy Days and so on. In an engaging way their stories offer a model of a healthy, loving family striving to practice the Teachings of Baha’u’llah.

The feedback from everyone who’s read the books has been fantastic, so I decided to catch up with Melanie Lotfali, the author of these wonderful books, to find out more. Continue reading

Tiny Seeds – Children’s Book of Prayers and Colouring

Parenting is a huge weighty responsibility and as Baha’i parents it’s important that we nurture and nourish our children spiritually. Since I am the very lucky and rather proud father of a nine-month old, I’ve been on the lookout for Baha’i materials for children. So I was very pleased to come across a gorgeous children’s prayer book called Tiny Seeds by mixed media artist Misha Blaise.

Tiny Seeds is a book of prayers and writings from the Baha’i Faith and comes with a 10 page colouring book on CD (so you can print it out over and over again!) It’s got some very bright and cute illustrations and is perfect for little ones the world over!

The book is up for sale on Etsy, a site where you can also find lots of Baha’i Jewellery and Handcrafted Goodies! If you’ve got a little one in your life or teach a children’s class, head over and Buy a Copy of Tiny Seeds and support this talented artist by buying a copy. Continue reading