Is the Baha’i Faith a “Religion”?

Perhaps you are like me. Perhaps there have been times when you have been asked what the Baha’i Faith is and the minute the word “religion” leaves your lips, your listener becomes apprehensive. Perhaps they reply that religion is an opiate for the masses, that it is an outdated fiction that does not meet the needs of today, that it is the cause of unnecessary bloodshed and war, that religion breeds intolerance for people of other religions, or that faith in something greater than ourselves shouldn’t be organized and administered. In honour of World Religion Day, I thought I’d explore what “religion” means in the context of the Baha’i Writings. Continue reading

‘What Good Will Come’: A Children’s Book by Jana Hannigan

What Good Will Come is a new children’s book written by Jana Hannigan and illustrated by Henry Warren. It shares a heartwarming story about problem solving and relying on God during times of tests and difficulties.

What Good Will Come tells the story of Pasha Dev and his beloved cat, Mustafa, who live in Delhi, India. One night Mustafa goes missing, and Pasha ends up sleeping next to his window in the hope that Mustafa will return. When Pasha wakes the following morning, he finds that he has come down with a cold and that Mustafa has not returned. Despite feeling unwell, Pasha must travel to the Baha’i House of Worship, where he will serve as the keeper of people’s shoes—a responsibility he takes very seriously. During his service, Pasha learns to put his faith in prayer and God, and comes to realize that tests and challenges can lead to some exciting, life-changing opportunities.

Jana Hannigan is the wordsmith behind this children’s book and she graciously agreed to tell us how the story came together:  Continue reading

An Interview with Ramine Yazhari About ‘Rejoice’

Ramine Yazhari has released a devotional album in honour of the bicentenary anniversary of the Birth of Baha’u’llah. The album is titled Rejoice and its melodies are soaring (you can stream it here on Bandcamp). Last year, Ramine released a single called ‘This Newborn Child’ and I listened to it over and over and over again, finding inspiration each time I heard it. You may also recognize Ramine’s voice from his devotional album dedicated to the centenary of Abdu’l-Baha’s travels to the West, Long Journey. I was glad to learn that Rejoice had been released and Ramine very graciously agreed to tell us a little about how the album came together. I hope you enjoy our conversation:

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Some Thoughts on Mutual Support and Assistance

Photo: courtesy of the Baha'i International Community

The materials prepared for the 114 youth conferences held around the world in 2013 tell us that youth have a great responsibility to contribute to the betterment of society. Their efforts are more effective if they are able to multiply their society-transforming powers by developing the capacity to create an atmosphere of mutual support and assistance among themselves and in their communities. This can complement their reliance on God’s unfailing assistance and act as a positive force that helps them overcome the negative forces in society which attempt to sap their powers and lead them astray from their purpose.  Continue reading

Earl Redman’s Latest Book: The Knights of Baha’u’llah

Interviewing Earl Redman about his two volume series Shoghi Effendi: Through the Pilgrim’s Eye was highly memorable. Have you read the interview? You can tell he’s a master story teller because he introduced himself with these words “In 1977, I fell off a mountain.” I was immediately riveted! His books are similarly captivating. I cherished every page of Abdu’l-Baha in Their Midst and I was really excited when I learned he has published a new book called The Knights of Baha’u’llah.

If you’d like to know more about who the Knights of Baha’u’llah are and their role in the development of the Faith, I wrote a short article about them which you can read here. In this book, Earl tells fascinating stories about the sacrifices, the dedication and the devotion of these selfless souls. Here’s my conversation with Earl about his newest book, I hope you enjoy it!

Baha’i Blog: What was the inspiration for putting this book together?

The book is actually the conclusion to the two volumes of Shoghi Effendi: Through the Pilgrim’s Eye. Volume 2 is all about the Ten-Year Crusade. After initially attempting to include a few illustrative stories about of the Knights in that volume, it became obvious that there were too many good stories and that a separate book would be much better. That began a 4-year search for stories of the Knights. At first, it was just going to be a book of the most interesting stories, but that idea kept expanding until we were trying to find the stories of all 255 Knights. That became a huge challenge, because there were a large number of Knights for whom there were no published accounts; no books, internet stories or anything else that I could find. Continue reading

A Christmas Story: The Forced Migrations of the Messengers of God

Moses, Jesus, Muhammad, Baha’u’llah. For Baha’is, these teachers are among a series of divine Messengers, and Their teachings share a spiritual basis. These divine beings’ human lives also share certain features. Nearly all divine messengers have been rejected by most of Their contemporaries, persecuted harshly, if not killed. But for these four, Their persecutions took a particular form: forced migration. They and Their families were pushed from Their native cities into perilous journeys.  Continue reading

Circling Spirits: A New Album by Roman Orona

(Photo credit: Robert Doyle/Canyon Records)

Raised in the culture of his Apache roots, Roman Orona, also know as “Ish Hish Itsaatsu” which means “One Who Dances With Eagles” in Apache, is a Native American performer and musician whose new award-winning album of Apache songs called Circling Spirits, expresses his people’s sacred values and acknowledges the spirits of the ancestors who sacrificed their lives, families and lands, so that their tribal communities could endure.

I had the pleasure of meeting Roman while briefly living in Arizona, so I decided to catch up with him to talk about his new album and how his faith as a Baha’i and as a Native American heritage have shaped his life and his music. Continue reading

Acting with Detachment and Determination

Over a year ago I had a job interview that I had to rush to from my workplace. I’m not the most technologically savvy person but I will still blame the GPS on my phone for what happened. I looked up how to get from work to the interview, jumped on the light rail (or tram), then the train, then tapped the function on my phone to show me how to walk the rest of the way. After walking some time, I arrived back at the train station where I got on the train! With only 10 minutes until the job interview, I started to panic. But then I said to myself: “Well, what will happen if I miss the interview? I have a job anyway. It’s not the best job in the world but it helps me pay the rent and bills and feed my family. I really have nothing to lose!”

So I decided to try to get there on time but not get stressed about it. I was spurred on by a sense of detached determination. I made a second try at navigating my way and I finally arrived at the place half an hour late, my shirt soaked with sweat, and had the interview.  Continue reading

‘Economics of the Future Begins Today’: A Book by Badi Shams

Badi Shams has combined his love of economics and his ardor for the Baha’i Teachings in his book Economics of the Future Begins Today. This book explores some possible ideas for how we can implement Baha’i principles in our daily economic dealings. He gave us a little teaser in his article Practical Economic Suggestions for Everyday Use and my interest was piqued. Badi lovingly agreed to tell us more about his book.

Baha’i Blog: To begin, could you please tell us a bit about yourself and your interest in economics?

I was born in Iran and became a Baha’i at the age of 15 but I didn’t realize the importance of the Faith till at 19 I had a serious accident that almost blinded my eye but opened my spiritual eye. At the time, 1974, there was a plea for pioneering which I obeyed and went to India. There I studied, learned English and tried to serve in various capacities that I could. I made a change of direction in my education from engineering to economics because I dreamt of doing my Ph.D in Baha’i economics and that was my idea of service to the Faith. In order to do that I had first to do my Bachelors and Masters degrees. After completing those I wrote to the beloved House of Justice to request the Baha’i Writings on economics. It informed me that the Research Department did not have a compilation on economics and that maybe I should collect the Writings. It also reminded me that there is no Baha’i economic system so the best title for my research would be “Study of the Baha’i Writings on Economics.” This was the 1970’s and there was no computer or internet so I spent a few years collecting and cataloguing the Writings related to economics which was published by the Baha’i Publishing Trust of India as a compilation in 1989 called “Economics of the Future”. I couldn’t finish my academic research because I had to leave the country and so I came to Canada in 1988 after the dedication of the Baha’i Temple in India.  Continue reading