The Baha’i World News Service (BWNS) explained that “To Serve Humanity explores, through the diverse voices of a few of the 80,000 young people who participated in the 114 gatherings, the ways in which young people can contribute to the spiritual and material well-being of their communities. As the young participants articulate insights on themes covered at each conference, what it means for their generation to be dedicated to the service of humanity is brought to life. Continue Reading
Besides being a part of what Shoghi Effendi calls The Spiritual Axis, Samoa is recognised as the first nation in the world where the reigning monarch, His Highness Susuga Malietoa Tanumafili II, accepted the message of Baha’u'llah and became a Baha’i. His Highness was already aware of the Baha’i Faith, however in 1968, after the “Proclamation to the Kings” by Baha’u'llah was presented to him by visiting Hand of the Cause Dr. Ugo Giachery on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, the king declared his belief in Baha’u'llah.
Recalling the early days of the Faith in Samoa, His Highness had once said:
My brother (High Chief Savea, a retired judge) knew so much about the Baha’i teachings. He was the first of us to study this new religion. During the early years of independence we witnessed many denominations being established, but the Baha’i Faith was so different, its teachings, its approach to people, its concern for the meek and lowly, its lack of interest in worldly things, its regenerating spirit. I was readily attracted.
But for me it is the place of my birth and where I heard about a different lord, a nobleman named Baha’u’llah, who founded the Baha’i Faith.
The 114 Youth Conferences currently taking place around the world has Baha’i communities buzzing with excitement and activity!
Brisbane, Australia just had theirs over the weekend, and so far 86 of the 114 youth conferences have already taken place leaving 28 still to go!
These conferences were first announced by the Universal House of Justice in February this year, and the aim of these conferences is to promote an understanding of how youth can help contribute to society in a positive and meaningful way through the Junior Youth Spiritual Empowerment Program. Continue Reading
Most Baha’is can probably relate to the frustrating fact that so much of the music we hear on the radio and on the charts right now have awesome beats and catchy tunes, but the lyrics are… well, let’s just say that they’re not very good for the soul.
Enter Karim, who’s one half of the popular Baha’i R&B/Hip-Hop duo Nabil & Karim, and he’s trying to change that!
Karim has embarked on a lyrical remix mission. His aim is to create a 10 song remix album aimed at shining new light on some of our favourite songs by recreating and rewriting the lyrics in order to make them more meaningful and ‘elevated’.
By using GoFundMe.com to raise enough money, Karim aims to have the album completed by October this year, and as he works on the tracks, he’s posting some of them on Youtube.
I decided to catch up with Karim once again, to find out more about this initiative. Continue Reading
Makhmalbaf has a long list of movies and awards under his belt including films such as Kandahar and The Day I Became A Woman, and his latest film/documentary The Gardener, has been getting a lot of attention as well, especially as it was predominantly filmed in the Baha’i gardens in Haifa and Akko, Israel.
Using the beautiful Baha’i gardens in Israel as a backdrop, from the very beginning of the film Makhmalbaf and his son Maysam set out to learn more about the Baha’i Faith and ask why the Baha’is have been persecuted in the the birthplace of their faith, Iran since the Faith’s inception. Primarily however, the film is not so much about the Baha’i Faith, but more about the power of religion in general, and its role in the world both historically and in the present, and its transformative effect on humanity, and whether we need religion at all.
Using very simple cameras in order to convey a very grassroots and simple effect, Makhmalbaf also uses a lot of symbolism throughout his personal journey of discovery. As with all artistic endeavors, the effects of an artists work on the receiver is inevitably varied, but for me personally, the film struck a certain chord. Perhaps because the main character was a Baha’i volunteer working in the Baha’i gardens from Papua New Guinea (the country where I was raised), but also because it was mainly filmed in the gardens surrounding the Baha’i Holy Places in the Holy Land, (where I’ve had the fortune of spending a number of years and which I miss immensely), but most importantly for me was the fact that I really felt that Makhmalbaf was sincere in his quest to question the purpose of religion, and that he had a sincere concern for the plight of the Baha’is of Iran and the persecution they continue to face, even though he is not a Baha’i himself. Continue Reading
Parties would be dead without it, all dancing would cease, long journeys would feel even longer and the members of glee would no longer be able to express how they feel. Yes, music is pretty essential to everything we do in life. It’s almost impossible to go even one day without hearing it on the radio, from buskers in the street, from a builder whistling while he works. But why? Why does music form such an important part of our society? In the Kitab-i-Aqdas Baha’u’llah wrote:
We, verily, have made music as a ladder for your souls, a means whereby they may be lifted up unto the realm on high…
We could glean, then, that the reason music is so powerful, whether we are conscious of it or not, is that it has an effect on our soul, and that ultimately its purpose is to uplift us.
‘Uplifted’ is how a group of friends felt while sitting in a cafe in East London when they decided to organise an open mic night where people could jam and play uplifting music together. They decided to call it Carmel Nights and five years later, Carmel Nights has become an annual concert hosted by the Waterman’s Theatre, Ealing and this year’s recent event attracted over 200 audience members. Even though over the last five years some of the specifics of the event have changed and developed, the purpose of Carmel Nights has remained the same: to bring people together to be elevated by live music. Continue Reading
As I sit in a comfortable chair and write this, I am well aware of the fact that I’m fortunate to live in a country where I’m able to enjoy the freedom to practice my religious beliefs as a Baha’i – and even run a blog about my faith – without the fear of being whisked away in the middle of the night by a group of armed men.
Unfortunately however, the luxury of religious freedom is not shared by Baha’is everywhere, and in Iran, the birthplace of our Faith, Baha’is (as well as other religious minorities) continue to face discrimination and persecution.
It has now been five years that seven Baha’is were imprisoned by the Iranian authorities, and they are serving a 20 year sentence. Yes, a 20 year sentence!
Five years behind bars is a long time, in fact it’s five years too many, especially, when you consider that these individuals were arrested and imprisoned simply because of their religious beliefs.
As I look at a picture of these seven imprisoned Baha’is, I wonder what they are like as individuals – mothers, fathers, sisters and brothers, each with their own likes and dislikes, fears and aspirations, skills and passions, humor and personalities. There’s Fariba, a developmental psychologist and a mother of three; Jamaloddin, a once-successful factory owner who lost his business after the Islamic Revolution because of his belief in the Baha’i Faith; Afif, who ran his father-in-law’s textile factory because as a Baha’i he was unable to pursue his dream of becoming a doctor; Saeid, father of three and an agricultural engineer who was running a successful farming equipment business; Mahvash, mother of two, a teacher and school principal who was dismissed from public education for being a Baha’i; Vahid, a father, an optometrist and the owner of an optical shop; Behrouz, a former social worker who lost his government job in the early 1980s, also because he was a Baha’i. Continue Reading
During the 11th International Convention, the Universal House of Justice announced plans to hold an additional 19 Youth Conferences to the already planned 95 Youth Conferences taking place this year worldwide.
In a letter addressed to the Baha’i world on May 1st, 2013, The Universal House of Justice wrote:
“So overwhelming has been the response of the Baha’i youth and their friends―indeed, of Baha’i communities worldwide―to the announcement of 95 conferences to be convened around the world between July and October, that existing arrangements now seem unlikely to accommodate the number of youth wishing to attend, and it is apparent that a further complement of gatherings is therefore required.”
The additional 19 conferences will be held in the following locations: Continue Reading