Category Archives Holy Days

Reflections on the Ascension of Abdu’l-Baha

The house of Abdu’l-Baha located in Haifa, Israel where He passed away at approximately 1:00a.m. on November 28, 1921. More than 10,000 mourners, representing all the diverse religions and ethnic communities in the Holy Land attended His funeral. (Photo courtesy Baha’i Media Bank)

At the commemoration of the centenary of Abdu’l-Baha’s visit to Montreal in 2012, I witnessed something profound at an event organized at St. James Methodist Church – the last place where the Master spoke publicly during His brief sojourn in Montreal. The current minister talked about the admirable qualities of Abdu’l-Baha and the unifying impact of His visit. I have never seen a person of authority of another religion lovingly praise this Cause at such length in their own place of worship. A feeling of unity between the congregation of the church and all the visiting Baha’is was palpable. I thought, this is what it must have been like in 1912!

Historical accounts of the life of the Master are bursting with similar exaltations and expressions of amity. Everywhere He went, notable religious leaders praised Him publicly and people were united in their love for Him. Perhaps most moving, is the symphony of tributes after His passing on November 28th, 1921 and the common grief everyone felt over losing Him. In his biography on the life of the Master, Hasan Balyuzi writes:

In the land we know as the Holy Land, in all its turbulent history of the last two thousand years, there had never been an event which could unite all its inhabitants of diverse faiths and origins and purposes, in a single expression of thought and feeling, as did the passing of Abdu’l-Baha. Jews and Christians and Muslims and Druzes, of all persuasions and denominations; Arabs and Turks and Kurds and Armenians and other ethnic groups were united in mourning His passing, in being aware of a great loss they had suffered.

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The Bab: The Harbinger of the Most Great Light

The Bab The Harbinger of the Most Great LightI hold in my heart two memories that moved me deeply from my visit to the International Archives Building during my Pilgrimage in the Holy Land. The first was the handful of pebbles that was found in the pocket of the Purest Branch, Mirza Mihdi, after his tragic and fatal fall from the skylight of a rooftop in the prison-city of Akka; and the second was the exquisite, hand-stitched clothing of His Holiness the Bab. The latter captured my attention and imagination because of its delicate beauty and ornate craftsmanship, the elaborate attention given to detail and the painstakingly fine stitching. In my mind I could only imagine how each single stitch must have been sewn with such love and precious care for the Owner of the attire.

The Bab was born on October 20, 1819 in Shiraz, Iran, and whilst we know very little of the early days of the Person of the Bab, Shoghi Effendi describes Him as:

…infinite in His tenderness, irresistible in His charm, unsurpassed in His heroism, [and] matchless in the dramatic circumstances of His short yet eventful life.

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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

The Significance of the Shrine of Baha’u’llah

The Shrine of Baha'u'llah (Photo: Baha'i World Centre)

The Shrine of Baha’u’llah (Photo: Baha’i World Centre)

At the hour of dawn on May 29th in 1892, Baha’u’llah, “transcendental in His majesty, serene, awe-inspiring, unapproachably glorious”, passed away in the Masion of Bahji in what is present-day northern Israel. Shoghi Effendi describes the events that followed in God Passes By:

The news of His ascension was instantly communicated to Sultan ‘Abdu’l-Hamid in a telegram which began with the words ‘the Sun of Baha has set’ and in which the monarch was advised of the intention of interring the sacred remains within the precincts of the Mansion, an arrangement to which he readily assented. Baha’u’llah was accordingly laid to rest in the northernmost room of the house which served as a dwelling-place for His son-in-law, the most northerly of the three houses lying to the west of, and adjacent to, the Mansion. His interment took place shortly after sunset, on the very day of His ascension.

With His burial, the home of His son-in-law became the most precious spot, the holiest of places, for Baha’is all around the world – a place to which we turn to daily when we recite our obligatory prayers and which we aspire to visit as a pilgrim at least once in our lifetimes. Continue reading

An Introduction to the Bayan

Pictured above is the House of the Bab in Shiraz, Iran, where the Bab revealed His message. His House is considered one of the holiest sites for Baha'is and it was destroyed by Revolutionary Guards in the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

Pictured above is the House of the Bab in Shiraz, Iran, where the Bab revealed His message. This house is considered to be one of the holiest sites for Baha’is and it was destroyed by Revolutionary Guards in the 1979 Islamic Revolution. (Photo: Baha’i Media Bank)


On May 22nd, Baha’is around the world will celebrate the anniversary of the Declaration of the Bab, the forerunner of Baha’u’llah. In honour of that joyous holy day, let’s take a look at the Bayan, a priceless gift the Bab bequeathed to mankind.

What is commonly referred to as ‘the Bayan’ are in fact two distinct and separate texts: the Persian Bayan and the Arabic Bayan. The word “bayan” means ‘exposition’ or ‘utterance’ in Arabic, and there are also instances in the Writings where it refers to the entirety of the Bab’s revelation. Continue reading

Naw-Ruz: The Baha’i New Year

cloudy sunset over field with sunflowers
The Baha’i New Year, or Naw-Ruz, which means “new day” in Persian, is celebrated by Baha’is around the world each year on March 21, and it is the only Baha’i Holy Day with no direct relation to the life of a Messenger of God.

Naw-Ruz marks the end of the 19 day month of fasting, and it’s a joyous time of celebration. It’s also one of the Baha’i Holy Days on which work is to be suspended.

Naw-Ruz is also celebrated by Zoroastrians and often in parts of countries where branches of Shiite Islam can be found – though there’s a difference between the Baha’i Holy Day of Naw-Ruz and the the Persian holiday of Naw-Ruz, the theme of celebrating a new day remains the same. The Jewish festival of Purim is also said to have been adopted from the Persian New Year, and Naw-Ruz is celebrated a lot like the Christian Easter, with many symbols indicating spring and renewal.

The Bab called the first day of His new 19 day calendar “the Day of God”. The remaining eighteen days of the first month were associated with the eighteen Letters of the Living (the first 18 individuals who recognized the station of the Bab), hence the Bab’s apostles imagined a celebration that would last nineteen days. Baha’u’llah adopted the new calendar proposed by the Bab, and the use of Naw-Ruz as a festival for those who observed the fast. Continue reading

‘Happy Ayyam-i-Ha’ Album by William Sears and the Ayyam-i-Ha Kids Available Again

Ayyam-i-Ha Album Cover 350x350A lot of my friends are always telling me that we really need more resources to support our Baha’i holy days and celebrations.

So, to help with your Ayyam-i-Ha celebrations, I am absolutely delighted to let everyone know about the digitally restored and remastered re-release of the Happy Ayyam-i-Ha album by William Sears and the Ayyam-i-Ha Kids!

For those of you who have never heard of it – the Happy Ayyam-i-Ha album is simply a classic. It blends the wonderful storytelling of Hand of the Cause of God Mr. William Sears with sing-a-long songs performed by children.

Released in 1979, the album received the 1979 Christian Angel Award for the ‘Best Children’s Album of the Year’, and it was the first time in the association’s history that the Angel Award had been given to a non-Christian group. Continue reading

Awesome Ayyam-i-Ha Ideas on Pinterest

Awesome Ayyam-i-Ha IdeasAyyam-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

Abdu’l-Baha: Unique

Baha'i Abdu’l-Baha Unique

Abdu’l-Baha (23 May 1844 – 28 November 1921). On November 28, members of the Baha’i Faith throughout the world commemorate the passing of Abdu’l-Baha, the eldest son and successor of Baha’u’llah, the Prophet founder of the Baha’i Faith. Abdu’l-Baha passed away in His home in Haifa, Israel at the age of 77 and there are no prescribed ceremonies but gatherings usually involve prayers and devotional readings. (Photo: Baha’i Media Bank)

One of the most common mistakes in English usage is the term “very unique,” and its close cousins, “most unique” and “so unique” — as in, “that is a very unique painting” or “that is one of the most unique songs I have ever heard.” We all commit this error from time to time because we mistake the word “unique” for the word “unusual.” In fact, “unique” means there is nothing else like it in existence. Like pregnancy, something either is unique or it is not; there are no degrees of uniqueness, as there are with unusualness.

Tonight, on the anniversary of His passage from this world to the next, we turn our thoughts and hearts toward Abdu’l-Baha, one who actually was in fact unique. Baha’u’llah wrote:

When the ocean of My presence hath ebbed and the Book of My Revelation is ended, turn your faces towards Him Whom God hath purposed, Who hath branched from this Ancient Root.

And again:

…refer ye whatsoever ye understand not in the Book to Him Who hath branched from this mighty Stock.

Abdu’l-Baha Himself wrote,

In accordance with the explicit text of the Kitab-i-Aqdas Baha’u’llah hath made the Center of the Covenant the Interpreter of His Word—a Covenant so firm and mighty that from the beginning of time until the present day no religious Dispensation hath produced its like.

Though there is no greater love on earth than that of a father for his son, the rapturous feeling that Baha’u’llah held for His eldest son far surpasses even that, as we read in this extraordinary passage from a letter from Baha’u’llah while Abdu’l-Baha was away from Akka on a visit to Beirut: Continue reading