Searching for the Footsteps of Abdu’l-Baha

In 1912, Abdu’l-Bahá spent from April to December touring North America. He is shown here (at center) with Bahá’ís at Lincoln Park, Chicago, Illinois, USA. [Photo: Baha'i Media Bank]

In a small breakfast restaurant in downtown Chicago I received a jolt, a surprising reminder of what was really important to me.

“That’s a nice ring,” a young African-American waiter said to me, after glancing at my Baha’i ring with its symbols of unity, the fundamental principle of the Baha’i Faith.

It was the first time that anybody had ever commented on it, and the remark came when there was strong competition for my attention.

In the final two weeks of the 2012 presidential election campaign, the media drumbeat was increasing in intensity as the people of the United States were subjected to special pleading to win their votes.

It was a fascinating and important time to be in that country, but the young man’s inquiry reminded me that the eternal realities, the things of the spirit are far more enduring and significant than current contests for political power.

The many personalities being promoted for political purposes seemed almost one dimensional in my eyes compared with one who had visited the United States in 1912.

I left the restaurant, and as planned, took the train to Wilmette where 100 years ago, the head of the Baha’i Faith, Abdu’l-Baha (1844-1921), laid the cornerstone for a Temple that is now one of the most outstanding architectural features of a city that is deservedly famous for its buildings. Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

Dementia and Ageing: A Spiritual Perspective

Dementia is a cruel disease, robbing the person who has it of their independence, their memories and their personality. What remains is only a vestige of the person known to family and friends – a sad, rather forlorn shell of what used to be.

How then should we view this process that affects more than 30 million people worldwide and will hit 115 million by 2050?

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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.

Continue reading

What Bahá’ís Celebrate on the Day of the Covenant

Photo courtesy: iainsimmons via Flickr

Because ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, the eldest son of Bahá’u’lláh, was born on the same day that the Bab declared His mission to Mulla Husayn, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá forbade Bahá’ís from celebrating His birthday. But when ‘Abdu’l-Bahá 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 Bahá’í community.

Although ‘Abdu’l-Bahá still instructed Bahá’ís that only the Declaration of the Bab should be celebrated on May 23rd, He eventually allowed the Bahá’ís to choose a date that was furthest away from the date when Bahá’u’lláh passed away and to use that day to celebrate the establishment of Bahá’u’lláh’s Covenant with humanity. As Bahá’u’lláh passed away on May 29th, 1892, the Bahá’í community chose November 26th, the date six Gregorian months (182 days) away from the day of Bahá’u’lláh’s passing, as the Day of the Covenant.

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

Celebrating the Birth of Baha’u’llah in London

Last week Baha’is around the world celebrated the Birth of Baha’u’llah, and some of the Baha’is in London celebrated this special event in a unique and creative way. The team at Media Makes Us attended the holy day celebration at Hackney and captured a taste of some of the unique artistic installations which were on show on the night!

The celebration took place in an East London artists’ studio, which was transformed into an exhibition space that aimed to tell the story of the life of Baha’u’llah by providing a multi-sensory experience for viewers. Participants were invited to discover the history and Writings of the Faith for themselves through touch, smell and taste – by becoming part of the exhibition and walking around to discover clues and to immerse themselves in the rich imagery and historical details of the Faith and its holy Scriptures.

What a fascinating way to commemorate a Holy Day. A big thanks to the folks at Media Makes Us for allowing Baha’i Blog readers from all over the world to witness this amazing celebration!

 

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