As many parts of the world are celebrating ‘Mother’s Day’, I find myself reflecting on the high standard in the Baha’i Writings for our youth, and I can’t help but think about the importance of moral and spiritual education during those precious first years of a child’s life. Abdu’l-Baha wrote:
You must be distinguished amidst men by your sanctity and detachment, loftiness of purpose, magnanimity, determination, noble mindedness, tenacity, the elevation of your aims and your spiritual qualities; that you may become the means of exaltation and glory for the Cause of God and the dawning places of His heavenly bestowals; that you may conduct yourselves in conformity with the counsels and exhortations of the Blessed Beauty — may my life be offered up for His loved ones — and by reflecting Baha’i qualities and attributes, you may stand out distinguished from others.
Society tends to downplay the significance of being a mother. What do you suppose attracts more interest when I answer that typical question at dinner parties: “What do you do?” Lawyer or mother? Usually, when I choose to answer, “I am a mother,” people smile and say, “Oh, that’s nice.” There is never an incredibly interested follow-up question on what kind of exciting parenting I practice. The polite ones never say it, but some of them are probably thinking, “You’re a mom? What do you do all day?” Indeed mothers, myself included, often fail to comprehend the momentousness of the work we do, when in fact, according to Abdu’l-Baha, “no nobler deed can be imagined!” Continue reading
I naively and ignorantly thought that because I had been raised a Baha’i that I knew the Writings well. It wasn’t long before I realized that while I knew many of the principles of the Faith, I barely knew its sacred texts at all. Baha’u’llah exhorts us to immerse ourselves in the ocean of His words, and I was merely floating on the surface. In a boat.
I personally find that a small part of diving into the study of a text requires that I figure out its context. Through various deepening classes, I have learned that these 3 questions can prove very useful. Continue reading
Many of us have developed addictions of one kind or another, as a way of relieving stress. Some, like drugs, alcohol and smoking are socially sanctioned. Others, like drivenness, perfection and workaholism are often highly praised in a materialistic society. Still others, like sex, pornography and gambling are so readily available on the internet, that they’ve practically become socially acceptable.
None of us are immune to addiction, and there are even several well-known Baha’is in the history of the Faith who have struggled with addictions such as alcoholism, and they’ve reported on the transformative power of the Faith for being able to overcome this addiction. Continue reading
When it comes to dating and getting to know a potential partner in the framework of the Baha’i laws and principles, many young (and not so young) people experience confusion and uncertainty. It can be hard to know how to approach this topic, and while many of us realize that the concept and practice of dating in much of society today is largely inappropriate, it can be hard to determine how to get to know a person really well, while at the same time remaining steadfast in the Cause and staying within the framework of chastity. Continue reading
Ayyam-i-Ha is coming up, and it’s important to make our holy days special. Luckily, there’s a lot of fun ideas out there online which can help us celebrate the intercalary days, and one of the places worth checking out online if you’re short of ideas or need some inspiration is Pinterest.
Pinterest is an online group board and it’s a great place for people to share their ideas, recipes, images, gifts and decorations for pretty much anything! Users not only submit (or rather ‘pin’) photos of what interests them onto their pinboards, but they can browse other pinboards and ‘re-pin’ the photos to their own page.
A few Baha’is have uploaded their own Ayyam-i-Ha ideas to their pin-boards which are really worth checking out, so here are some examples: Continue reading
I recently lost someone in my life. Someone very close to me. Someone I love very much.
You can fall in love with, and become attached to anything. A person, an object, an idea, a place, a feeling, a belief.
No matter what it is that you’re attached to and in love with – once it’s gone – letting go can be hard.
Grief is an interesting thing. Many of my friends console me by saying that things happen for a reason, and we have to count our blessings. My mother always says that things could be worse, and she tells me the parable of a man who, while walking down a muddy street, complained to God that he didn’t have shoes. His complaints turned into prayers of gratitude when he noticed a man passing him on that muddy street who didn’t have any legs… She’s right. It could always be worse. Continue reading
Junior Youth in Banting Malaysia. (Photo: Baha’i World Centre)
Most Baha’is, both young and old, can accept that the future of our community and the driving force behind its growth will be the Junior Youth Spiritual Empowerment Program – or JYSEP.
What fewer Baha’is can reconcile with is their role within this movement. There are children who become junior youth, and junior youth who become participants, and “older” youth who become the animators that accompany them.
And then there’s the rest of us.
If you’re a youth in spirit though not in reality, you may feel you are on the periphery of a phenomenon. As we are encouraged more and more to support the youth, to support this Program, it is easy to ask, “But, how?” if you are neither a youth nor part of this Program.
It is, of course, never too late to become an animator of a junior youth group, particularly if you are in a cluster, community or neighbourhood, in which the need outweighs the available resources.
If, for whatever reason, serving as an animator is not feasible for you, there are still a number of ways you are able to contribute to the JYSEP. Continue reading
When Abdu’l-Baha was asked how we could acquire perfections in the face of life’s obstacles, he gave what is my all time favourite Baha’i quote: “Little by little, day by day”. The standards that we strive towards as Baha’is are high. Mightily so. It’s all too easy to feel like a spiritual dwarf in the face of such a high bar. But as always Abdu’l-Baha has given us a most practical answer to the most staggering of questions. And in that answer is a powerful tool for sculpting oneself to become the Baha’i you want to be: Habit. Continue reading
Participants at the 2013 Sydney Youth Conference worked together on creative presentations about the themes being studied. (Photo: Baha’i World Centre)
Prior to attending one of the 114 worldwide youth conferences
in Sydney, Australia, I was grappling with the concept of coherence and what it looked like in reality to live a life that was not fragmented. I would look at all the different components in my life and wonder how it was possible for each of them to tie seamlessly together while still devoting my time to the progress of the Five Year Plan
. I saw myself as a mother, a wife, a journalist, a Baha’i – with each aspect having its own distinct purpose.
The paragraph below, taken from the youth conference participant materials, expands on this idea of coherence: Continue reading
When my husband and I married eight years ago we were given a print of an illumined prayer of Abdu’l-Baha’s. The prayer, found in Star of the West, reads:
My home is the home of peace. My home is the home of joy and delight. My home is the home of laughter and exultation. Whomsoever enters through the portals of this home, must go out with gladsome heart. 
How to create a home of peace is a subject of a lifetime’s study and meditation but these are my meager thoughts to date.
It goes without saying that a tranquil dwelling depends upon spiritual qualities: unity, consultation on all matters, kindness and consideration, a lack of backbiting, loyalty and chastity between marriage partners, respect, gratitude and obedience on the part of children, and patience, humility and generosity on the part of the parents. And the list goes on. However, I think there are also tangible elements to creating a home of peace: beauty, a space for prayer and hospitality. Continue reading