Looking at Baha’i Scholarship

Looking at Baha'i ScholarshipWhen we try to define Baha’i scholarship, we naturally encounter preconceptions from our cultural surroundings. These arise from how scholarship has affected us over our varied histories of colonisation, conquest, enlightenment, enslavement, liberation, revolution, and materialistic consumerism. Scholarship, in part, refers to the systematic and disciplined study of any subject with the goal of deeper and shared understanding, and has often included appropriate personal characteristics, though these vary by culture and era.

Scholarship starts with assumptions about reality, which it simultaneously tests and pursues by a strict, but ideally not narrowing, set of rules. If done in the spirit of uncovering more of the mysteries of reality with a mix of humility and wonder, its results are ever-changing and open to challenge. It is worth identifying, unedited, our private lists of qualities and processes we ascribe to scholarship before considering scholarship in light of the Faith’s Teachings. In a workshop at the 2013 conference of the Association for Baha’i Studies, such an exercise revealed a fascinating list of praise, contempt, hope, and frustration, often from the same person, and from scholars, themselves. Continue reading

Why is the Baha’i World Centre in Israel?

Pictured to the right is the Seat of the Universal House of Justice and on the left is the International Teaching Centre building. Both are located on Mt. Carmel in Haifa, Israel. (Photo: Iain Simmons via Flickr)

Pictured to the right is the Seat of the Universal House of Justice and on the left is the International Teaching Centre building. Both are located on Mt. Carmel in Haifa, Israel. (Photo: Iain Simmons via Flickr)

For centuries, the Holy Land has been recognised as sacred for Judaism, Christianity and Islam.

Moses and Jesus established their religions there, and Muhammad visited on His night journey and ascension.

But how did this land on the shores of the Mediterranean come to be associated with the Baha’i Faith, a religion born in Persia, more than 1500 kilometers away? Continue reading

Faizi – A New Book about the Life of Hand of the Cause Abu’l-Qásim Faizi

Faizi - May Faizi-Moore 360x549When I was about four years old a very special person visited our home in Papua New Guinea and met with the Baha’i community. I recall my parents being so enamoured with him, and like so many of the Baha’is who met him, they were taken by his wisdom, his humor and his humility.

The visitor was Hand of the Cause Abu’l-Qásim Faizi.

I was actually even named after his son Naysan, and my parents were just one example of the many Baha’is everywhere who loved him. I actually have a picture with Mr. Faizi from that time and I wish that I was older and could have known him, so whenever I would hear stories about him, I would listen attentively, so the moment I saw the release of a new book entitled Faizi by his daughter May Faizi-Moore, I bought a copy straight away!

I managed to get in touch with May Faizi-Moore to ask her some questions about this wonderful new biography about her father:
Continue reading

New Letter from the Universal House of Justice regarding the Baha’i Calendar

Universal House of Justice letter regarding Badi Calendar 864x648In a new letter dated July 10, 2014, The Universal House of Justice has called upon the Baha’is of the world to universally adopt the Baha’i calendar — known as the Badi calendar — effective from the upcoming Naw-Ruz.

Rather than paraphrase or quote certain parts of the letter, I’ve decided it would be best to include this significant and exciting new letter below. The letter can also be viewed on the official website of the Universal House of Justice here.

Here is the letter: Continue reading

The Bab – What was He like?

green background abstract cloth wavy folds of textile textureAs Baha’is around the world gather on 9 July, they will focus on the Bab’s martyrdom in Tabriz in 1850, ponder its spiritual significance, and offer their supplications to the Divine.

On that holy day commemorating the horrendous event of His execution, it is also probable that many will wonder what it would have been like to encounter the One who was the Prophet-Forerunner of Baha’u’llah, the Founder of the Baha’i Faith. Continue reading

Ugo Giachery: A Spiritual Hero with Practical Feet.

Dr. Ugo Giachery 1896-1989. (Photo: Baha'i World Centre)

Dr. Ugo Giachery, May 13, 1896 – July 5, 1989. (Photo: Baha’i World Centre)

When we think of spiritual giants, we may fall into the trap of picturing them deep in prayer or meditation without a care for the practical world in which they live.

But if we have such a view of them, then it is likely to be far too narrow and therefore inaccurate.

In this regard, have a look at the life of Ugo Giachery, a man born into an aristocratic family in Palermo, Sicily in 1896. Dr. Giachery was deeply spiritual, yes, but also immensely practical.

His life could have been one of waltzing about in elite circles or retreating into the academic world making a career out of his doctorate in chemistry.

However, he chose another path. After becoming attracted to the world-embracing teachings of the Baha’i Faith, he set about implementing them the best he could. World peace was no abstract notion for him. He had been wounded in World War I and so he knew the horrors of global conflict. It was perhaps inevitable that he would find appealing a religion promoting a practical path to peace. Continue reading

Who Were the Hands of the Cause?

The Hands of the Cause with Counsellors of the International Teaching Centre, 1973: (front row, left to right) Mr. Ali-Akbar Furutan, Mrs. Florence Mayberry, Madame Ruhiyyih Rabbani, Mr. Abul-Qasim Faizi, (back row, left to right) Mr. Paul Haney, Mr. Aziz Yazdi, Mr. Hooper Dunbar. (Photo: Baha'i Media Bank)

Some of the Hands of the Cause with Counsellors of the International Teaching Centre, in 1973: (front row, left to right) Mr. Ali-Akbar Furutan, Mrs. Florence Mayberry, Madame Ruhiyyih Rabbani, Mr. Abul-Qasim Faizi, (back row, left to right) Mr. Paul Haney, Mr. Aziz Yazdi, Mr. Hooper Dunbar. (Photo: Baha’i Media Bank)

The Hands of the Cause of God were Baha’is appointed by Baha’u’llah, Abdu’l-Baha or Shoghi Effendi, as the “Chief Stewards of Baha’u’llah’s embryonic World Commonwealth.”.

What is a chief steward? A steward is similar to a manager, or director, and so the ‘chief stewards’ of the Faith managed and directed the global activities of the Baha’i Faith. Shoghi Effendi clearly defined their work as “the propagation and preservation of the unity of the Faith of Baha’u’llah.”.

Abdu’l-Baha also described the duties of the Hands of the Cause. He stated that they…

…are to diffuse the Divine Fragrances, to edify the souls of men, to promote learning, to improve the character of all men and to be, at all times and under all conditions, sanctified and detached from earthly things. They must manifest the fear of God by their conduct, their manners, their deeds and their words.

Baha’u’llah appointed four Hands, four were posthumously named by the Master, and 42 were given this station by Shoghi Effendi. Little is known about the Hands from the early days of the Faith and the Guardian stated that little will be known about them until the history of the Cause in Iran and the near East is written and available – a time which the Universal House of Justice has said has yet to come. Furthermore, as the study of letters and archives are conducted, we may even learn about other Hands from that time period. Continue reading

I have Returned to Thee: An Interview with Jamey Heath

Jamey Heath 864x444Once-in-a-while you meet someone who’s able to pick up any instrument and play it, and Jamey Heath is one of those extremely talented musicians, who can not only play just about everything, but who also has a beautiful voice – and boy can he sing!

I keep bumping into Jamey at different events and conferences throughout the years, and most often he’s behind a piano or with guitar in hand singing a song based on a Baha’i prayer or the Writings.

If you’ve seen the Baha’i How Are You episode of Soul Pancake’s ‘Have a little Faith’ series, well he’s in that. Yep, that’s him singing and playing the guitar in the gathering. Continue reading

New Video on Baha’i International Community Approach to Sustainable Development


The U.S. Baha’i Office of Public Affairs has just released a video on the Baha’i International Community’s United Nations Office in New York and its approach to sustainable development.

The Baha’i International Community (BIC) is an international non-governmental organization with offices in New York, Geneva and Brussels, with representation to the UN and the European Union, and affiliates in over 180 countries, which together represent over 5 million members of the Baha’i Faith. Continue reading