New Album: MANA ‘Teaching the Cause’ & Free t-shirt Giveaway

I’m super happy to announce the release of MANA’s latest album Teaching the Cause, which is based on the passages found in the sixth book of the Ruhi sequence of books.

MANA is a Baha’i inspired music and cultural performance group made up of young Pacific Islanders (mainly based in Australia), and over the last 10 years they’ve been putting the passages found in the Ruhi sequence of books to music.

Teaching the Cause is MANA’s fifth album, and their catchy tunes make the memorization of the passages easy and fun. As with all of MANA’s albums, the songs are predominantly in English, but they’re infused with various Pacific Island languages, rhythms and chants, something MANA has become well known for.

Over the last 10 years I’ve had the privilege of being heavily involved with the group, and sadly, this will be MANA’s last album, as the members of MANA are busy with other Baha’i initiatives and the group has spread out even more geographically, making it logistically more and more difficult to work on an album. Continue reading

Recognizing the Pattern of Transformation in Our Lives

How do we know when transformation is about to happen to us?

The Writings of Baha’u’llah state that,

Adversity is the oil that feedeth the flame of this Lamp! Such is God’s transforming power.

Psychologist C.G Jung also wrote that,

There is no balance, no system of self-regulation, without opposition.

It would seem, from the above, that it is when we consciously experience the adversity that comes from opposites clashing in our lives. But being aware of these life-changing moments is one of our greatest challenges. We do, however, have some very useful tools to help us recognize and welcome such changes.  Continue reading

The Shrine of the Bab and its Significance


On July 9th, 1850, the Bab, the forerunner to Baha’u’llah, the Prophet founder of the Baha’i Faith was executed in Tabriz, Persia by a firing squad of 750 men. The Bab, which means ‘the Gate’ in Arabic, was a Messenger of God, whose role can be likened to that of John the Baptist (who told of the coming of Christ) in heralding the coming of the latest Manifestation of God: Baha’u’llah.

Baha’is around the world commemorate the Martyrdom of the Bab as a holy day where work should be suspended, and for those Baha’is who are able to go on pilgrimage to the Holy Land in their lifetime, they have a special opportunity to pay their respects and say prayers at the Shrine of the Bab where His remains are buried. Continue reading

Taking Account: What Do You Reckon?

I once asked someone what their biggest fear was and they answered that they were most afraid of going to Hell. Basically, they were afraid of missing the mark, not trying hard enough in their life, getting to judgment day and then being told they had a one way ticket to the Netherworld. And the sad thing is, I don’t think that is a rare fear. I think it is an extremely common one.

As Baha’is, we don’t believe in a literal hell, but we definitely believe that we should try our best to live our lives in accordance with Baha’u’llah’s teachings. In the Hidden Words, we are commanded to take stock daily on how we’re doing… Continue reading

Phoenix of Love: An Interview with Shidan Toloui-Wallace

I’m excited to introduce Baha’i Blog’s readers to Shidan Toloui-Wallace, one of the most admired contemporary Persian and Arabic chanters in the Baha’i world. Now ‘chanting’ is not to be confused with singing – although Shidan does that beautifully as well – but as she explained to me, chanting is a form of improvised singing usually based on Holy Scriptures or poetry, and a person chanting may chant the same piece of scripture differently every time.

Shidan Toloui-Wallace recently released her second album titled Phoenix of Love, which features Baha’i prayers and poems chanted in Persian and Arabic, as well as English collaborations with her daughter Shadi Toloui-Wallace, whom we interviewed here on Baha’i Blog as well.

Shidan’s reputation was established during the time she was a volunteer at the Baha’i World Centre in Haifa, Israel from 1991–1997. She was regularly asked to chant on special occasions such as Holy Day observances, and it was during her time in Haifa that she recorded her first album entitled The Call of Carmel with her dear friend Taraneh Rafati, and Shidan’s uncle, the late Masood Missaghian played the Persian Santoor (also called a Hammer Dulcimer) on the album.

Some 15 years later in late 2012, Shidan decided to record Phoenix of Love, and so I thought it would be great to catch-up with Shidan to find out more about this wonderful album, which although it is predominantly in Persian and Arabic, also includes wonderful musical fusions of East and West . Continue reading

7 Things Men Can Do to Help Undo the Oppression of Women

As Baha’is we believe in Baha’u’llah’s explicit teaching of the equality of men and women, but believing in something and acting on it are two different things, and we each have to strive continually to ensure that Baha’u’llah’s teachings are translated into our everyday lives.

The reality is that we live in a male dominated world, and even though the landscape of the inequality of the sexes is currently changing to varying degrees and rates in many countries and societies, we’ve still got a long way to go as we’re products of our environment and there’s still a lot we can do as individuals to help change things.

Living in a male dominated world, as men especially, we have a lot of responsibility in regards to this inequality, so I’ve listed below seven things men can do to help undo the oppression of women – but before we get to that, it’s important to understand that we live in a materialistic society, and one definition of materialism is that it’s “a doctrine that the only or the highest values or objectives lie in material well-being and in the furtherance of material progress”. Given this definition, we clearly live in a materialistic society as success in our society is most often defined as an attainment of material advantage, whether it’s money, possessions, rank, competitiveness, or power. When people talk about what the greatest country in the world is, the greatest corporation, or the greatest sports team, these are invariably the criteria they use. This is clearly out of step with the teachings of the Baha’i Faith:

… consider how base a nature it reveals in man that, notwithstanding the favors showered upon him by God, he should lower himself into the animal sphere, be wholly occupied with material needs, attached to this mortal realm, imagining that the greatest happiness is to attain wealth in this world. How purposeless! … What an ignorance this is! What a blindness! (Abdu’l-Baha, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p 185)

Women are viewed almost exclusively through this materialistic lens. Widespread unhealthy and unchaste images, pressure to spend time and money on appearance, and the distressingly high danger of harassment and rape are just some of the damaging effects. So here are a few ideas for how men, particularly Baha’i men can address this situation:  Continue reading

Thinking About Freedom

In the United States, freedom is highly coveted and when it becomes threatened, freedom is fiercely defended. The first amendment of the Constitution promises to protect these freedoms, guarantees that the American people have the basic right to things like free speech, free press and the right to assemble. Other countries may not emphasise these rights in the same way, but people the world over want the freedom to be themselves and to be free from oppression and prejudice. Indeed, a world without those troubles would be a liberated one. However, are there other ways to think about freedom? Continue reading

Carmel Nights: Rekindle 2013

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

10 Great Introductory Books on the Baha’i Faith

Although many of us are going online nowadays to find out more information about something we’d like to know more about, there’s still a lot of non-accurate and misleading information about the Baha’i Faith online, and I still get asked by friends whether I can suggest or lend them an introductory book about the Faith.

So for those of us who still like to read books or get asked to suggest an introductory book about the Baha’i Faith, I thought it may be useful to list some for you to read or share with your friends. I’ve purposefully left out books which only focus on the Baha’i Faith and a specific religion (such as Thief In The Night by William Sears, which is a wonderful book, but is focused on the Baha’i Faith from a Catholic perspective) and I’ve tried to keep my choices general, but I’d love to hear about any other introductory books on the Faith you’d recommend and if any of these in particular have resonated with you.

Here are the ten introductory books about the Baha’i Faith in no particular order:  Continue reading

Remembrance is a Gift from the Soul

If the soul comes from God, as the world’s religions agree, why wouldn’t it have some memories of this remarkable origin? If it did, this remembrance surely wouldn’t come easy. It would require hard work to retrieve such deeply embedded memories. Remembrance of our divine origin may be deeply hidden but it is also the most rewarding of all memories to attempt to recover.

That’s why there is a great power in remembrance. Enough hard work, and remembrance can awaken us to an everlasting, changeless reality. God continues to send us his Messengers to help us remember who we are and where we came from. The world’s sacred traditions acknowledge the importance of seeking answers to the mysteries of life. This quest for spiritual understanding raises two essential questions: “Where have we come from?” and “Where are we going?” The mystery of our origin and our destiny is intricately tied to the nature of the soul.  Continue reading