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A Christmas Wish for Peace

Christmas is probably the time at which the theme of peace and goodwill seems to be most deeply embedded into society’s collective consciousness. For Christians, who celebrate it as a religious holiday, Christmas is a reminder of the biblical promise of peace found in the Old Testament.

For the many others who merely celebrate it as a cultural holiday, the story of the birth of Jesus as found in the gospels and depicted in the ubiquitous Christmas artwork captures the imagination and imbues many with a determination to practice charity and generosity.

The gospels tell the tale of the shepherds who were watching over their flocks out in the countryside, when an angel appeared to them bearing the good news of the birth of the Promised One.

And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.

And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone roundabout them: and they were sore afraid.

And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.

For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying: Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. Luke 2: 8-14, The Holy Bible

Beyond this beautiful and enchanting narrative of peace and goodwill, however, comes the stark reality of what we see in our world.

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The Baha’i Faith in Words and Images

Oneworld Publications has just released a fantastic new book called The Baha’i Faith in Words and Images.

The book combines breathtaking photography and intelligent accompanying text to produce a beautiful coffee-table book, which gives readers comprehensive coverage of the Faith’s teachings, texts, practices, community life and organization, with images reflecting its rich architectural heritage and the international diversity of its members.

Paul Slaughter spent three years travelling around the world to capture the photographs for the book, and John Danesh and Seena Fazel wrote the accompanying text. Many of you may have already seen the Youtube video where comedian Omid Djalili  has a chat with John and Seena about the book (which I’ve included at the bottom of this post).

I actually just received my very own copy of the book in the mail, and a while back, I had interviewed Oneworld co-founder Juliet Mabey about Oneworld Publications here on Baha’i Blog, so I decided to get in touch with her again to find out more about this wonderful new book . Continue reading

Innocent In Heart: An Interview with MJ Cyr

About a year ago while surfing the web for Baha’i related content, I came across an awesome Baha’i musician on gofundme.com.

Her name was MJ Cyr, and she was trying to raise money to record and launch her first full-length album which was based on the Baha’i Writings. What really got my attention at first was the video she posted up on the site (and which I’ve also included at the bottom of this post). It was a simple video of her standing in front of a mic with a guitar strapped over her shoulder, and as the song developed, she just kept adding layer-upon-layer of music and vocals until the song really came to life! Continue reading

Some Background to the Persecution of the Baha’is in Iran

The House of the Báb in Shiraz, one of the most holy sites in the Bahá’í world, was destroyed by Revolutionary Guardsmen in 1979 and later razed by the government. (Photo: Baha’i Media Bank)

An issue very dear to the hearts of Baha’is around the world is the situation of the Baha’is living in Iran. There’s been some international coverage about the persecution which Baha’is in Iran face, and many of my friends and colleagues often ask about this. Even a lot of my Baha’i friends are still not fully aware or understand what’s been happening there, so I thought it would be a good to idea to try and explain some of the background and the current situation relating to the persecution of the Bahai’s in Iran. Continue reading

When I Meet Abdu’l-Baha

Most nights, as I lie in bed drifting closer to sleep, my mind meanders through the events of the day, one random thought leading to another as my consciousness streams away toward stranger and stranger scenarios, until at last the rational succumbs completely to the emotional and symbolic.

But on some nights, I direct my thoughts, and I picture what it will be like during those first few moments in whatever that next realm is, in the afterlife.

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What Baha’is Celebrate on the Day of the Covenant

Photo courtesy: iainsimmons via Flickr

Because Abdu’l-Baha, the eldest son of Baha’u’llah, was born on the same day that the Bab declared His mission to Mulla Husayn, Abdu’l-Baha forbade Baha’is from celebrating His birthday. But when Abdu’l-Baha was travelling through the United States approximately one century ago, the American believers repeatedly expressed their desire to commemorate His life in some fashion, given the immense impact He had on the American Baha’i community.

Although Abdu’l-Baha still instructed Baha’is that only the Declaration of the Bab should be celebrated on 8 Azamat according to the Baha’i calendar, He eventually allowed the Baha’is to choose a date that was furthest away from the date when Baha’u’llah passed away and to use that day to celebrate the establishment of Baha’u’llah’s Covenant with humanity. As Baha’u’llah passed away on May 29th, 1892, (or 13 Azamat) the Baha’i community chose 4 Qawl,182 days away from the day of Baha’u’llah’s passing, as the Day of the Covenant.

But what exactly is Baha’u’llah’s Covenant, and what exactly is it that Baha’is are commemorating on this day? Continue reading

Remembering Clara Dunn

Clara Dunn 12 May, 1869 – 18 Nov, 1960 (Photo: Baha’i Media Bank)

“Oh what an enormous duck! Oh what a wonderful duck! How splendid was this great big glorious duck!”

Clara Dunn was present on the occasion that ‘Abdu’l-Baha recounted a story of a person who spoke in such a manner.

Her humility and spiritual receptivity, combined with the fact that the Master was looking directly at her throughout the story, lead her to understand that the Master was counseling her to refrain from exaggeration and to speak with honesty and accuracy.

Clearly she learnt this spiritual lesson well, and many more, for in 1939 Shoghi Effendi gifted a copy of The Advent of Divine Justice to Clara Dunn and her husband Hyde Dunn, accompanied by a personal letter written by his secretary:

The tribute so abundantly and yet so deservedly paid by the Guardian in this unique epistle to your magnificent teaching services is assuredly destined to transmit to future Bahá’í generations, and in particular to the Bahá’í teachers & pioneers of succeeding centuries, such measure of inspiration and such example of the pioneer service as cannot but inspire and guide them to follow in your footsteps and emulate your noble example.

When ‘Abdu’l-Baha asked the Baha’is of North America to travel to remote climes to spread the Faith of Baha’u’llah, Clara and Hyde Dunn’s response was immediate. On 10 April 1920, Clara and Hyde Dunn arrived in Australia with the single purpose of establishing the Baha’i Faith in an area explicitly mentioned by the Master in the Tablets of the Divine Plan. So determined were they to go despite their age and lack of funds, that when challenged on the wisdom of their decision Hyde replied that “he would sooner die than not respond to ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s call”. Continue reading

An Interview with Karim of Baha’i R’n’B Hip-Hop duo Nabil & Karim

Karim left, and Nabil to the right. (Image courtesy: Matts Vai)

What happens when two good friends living in Canada decide to get together and collaborate on creating music which brings the Baha’i Writings to life in a fresh and contemporary way? The answer is simple: Nabil & Karim.

The smooth grooves of music duo Nabil & Karim were born when Nabil (a Persian-Canadian Baha’i who was raised in Portugal), and Karim (an Egyptian-Irishman born in Haiti and raised in India and Canada) were studying audio production in Canada together, and with the encouragement of their local Baha’i community, they started working on putting the Sacred Writings to music for community events.

I’ve got both of their albums, and I know tons of Baha’is around the world who love their music too, so I was super-excited to be able to catch up with Karim and ask him a few questions about himself and the duo!

Baha’i Blog: Can you tell me a little bit about yourselves and how you guys got together?

We met in college, it was a rainy day, the sun had just fallen behind the horizon… but seriously we studied audio production at Metal Works Institute in Mississauga. The Baha’i community at Mississauga strongly encouraged us to perform at Holy Day events and that was a big reason why we started making songs together. We both come from pioneering families, Nabil’s family pioneered to Portugal and mine to Haiti and India. Nabil plays guitar and sings and I rap and beatbox. Nabil is health conscious and fit and I am the opposite of that. But we both try our best to be spiritually fit. We have very different tastes in music but when we come together… Continue reading

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