Baha’is Lend $1.4m through Kiva

Photo by hodag

In the days before the internet, being a Bahai and trying to help the poor could be a little bit more challenging than it is today. If you want to help struggling families on the other side of the world, but don’t know where to start or how to go about it, then consider the web-based microloan service Kiva.

Kiva is a non-profit organization that helps the less fortunate via loans given by people such as yourself to help them purchase whatever they need to maintain their livelihood. You can loan as little as $25 to make a big difference in someones life. Loans eventually get paid back, and then you can re-loan the money again. Kiva has a How it Works page which explains more about the mechanics of loaning via the service.

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New New Zealand Baha’i Website Launched

New Zealand Baha'i WebsiteThe Bahá’is of New Zealand have launched a new website for the friends and members of the wider community to access.

The chic new look came in mid 2012 and has drastically improved the accessibility of information and Baha’i activities that are happening in New Zealand. On the home page for example, there are quick links to read a few simple prayers, how to become a Baha’i or even how to go about attending a Bahá’í event.

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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.

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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-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