Tag Archives Baha’i History

Abdu’l-Baha’s Prayer for a Women’s College

At the 2017 celebration, Vida Rastegar, Mia Taylor Chandler, and Eugenio Marcano read passages from a talk by Abdu'l-Baha. (www.bahai.org/r/063559568) Credit: Ruijia (Rose) Wang

When Charlotte D’Evelyn stepped onto the bucolic campus of Mount Holyoke College in 1917, she was surely elated to join the faculty of the oldest institution for women’s higher education in the US. Looking around, maybe the hills of South Hadley, Massachusetts, reminded her of the steeper slopes of her hometown, San Francisco; perhaps the turrets of the Williston Memorial Library recalled the spires of buildings like the Bodleian at Oxford, where she had recently studied.

D’Evelyn devoted her research to the preservation and analysis of medieval English texts. Yet, she likely never suspected that 100 years hence, she would be celebrated at Mount Holyoke College for her role in preserving a letter that traveled to the United States from Palestine in 1919.  Continue reading

‘The Calling’: A New Book About Tahirih

Hussein Ahdieh and Hillary Chapman have just released an insightful and exciting new book titled The Calling: Tahirih of Persia and Her American Contemporaries. This dynamic duo was behind Awakening: A History of the Babi and Baha’i Faiths in Nayriz and have most recently worked together to produce a captivating history of women’s suffrage and the women’s rights movement in both Iran and the United States in the 1840’s. Dr. Dorothy Marcic of Columbia University has praised the book with these words:

Moving back and forth between the two struggles in such distant lands, the authors skillfully illustrate the common themes of what might otherwise seem as disparate social phenomenon. The book reads smoothly, and the reader wants to keep turning the page to find out what happens. How unusual is such writing in a work as thoroughly researched and referenced as The Calling. Writing such as this is not easy, and yet the authors make it appear as effortless as an autumn leaf blowing in a chilly wind.

Hussein graciously agreed to tell us more about his new book and the history it uncovers.  Continue reading

Edward Granville Browne: The Only European Historian Who Met Baha’u’llah

Edward Granville Browne (7 February 1862 – 5 January 1926), was a British orientalist who met Baha’u’llah.

You should appreciate this, that of all the historians of Europe none attained the holy Threshold but you. This bounty was specified unto you.

These words Abdu’l-Baha wrote to Edward Granville Browne about his interviews with Baha’u’llah in 1890. From one of these interviews emanated the description of meeting Baha’u’llah famous in the Baha’i community, which you can listen to here.

Foment in the Middle East—the Russo-Turkish War of 1877-78—pulled Browne away from the course his family had set for him. Born in 1862 in Gloucestershire, England, Browne was the eldest son among nine children. His father hoped he would pursue the family business of shipbuilding and civil engineering. But Browne’s calling lay elsewhere. In college he studied Turkish, Arabic, and Persian, and in 1882, he ventured eastward, visiting Turkey for several months to pursue his research.

On 30 July 1886, Browne discovered a movement that would absorb his attention for the decades to come: the Babi Faith. He stumbled upon an account of the revolutionary religion in Count Gobineau’s 1865 Religions et philosophies dans l’Asie Centrale. In the words of scholars Sir Edward Denison Ross and John Gurney, “He was spellbound by the story of the courage and devotion shown by the Bab and his faithful followers, and at once resolved to make a special study of this movement.” He wrote admiringly of the Bab’s “gentleness and patience, the cruel fate which had overtaken him, and the unflinching courage wherewith he and his followers, from the greatest to the least, had endured the merciless torments inflicted on them by their enemies.” In the Bab’s Revelation, he recognized, as he put it, “the birth of a faith which may not impossibly win a place amidst the great religions of the world.” Browne resolved to extend Gobineau’s account, which ended with the 1852 massacre of Babis. Continue reading

Journey to a Mountain: A New Book Telling the Story of the Shrine of the Bab

I can’t tell you how excited I was when my dear friend Michael V. Day first told me about the book he was writing! I had the pleasure of serving at the Baha’i World Centre with Michael and have long admired and respected Michael’s writing abilities and the eloquence of his pen, so when he told me what the book was about, I knew it was going to be great!

Journey to a Mountain: The Story of the Shrine of the Bab is a stunning book that provides the exciting historical background to the Shrine of the Bab like no other publication. It is the first in a trilogy and covers the years 1850-1921. Although part of a series, this George Ronald publication can stand alone and is captivating all on its own. The book has just been released and Michael agreed to tell us all about it.  Continue reading

‘Anis: The Companion’ – A Movie by Juan Carlos Nieto

Juan Carlos Nieto produced a short film about Anis Zunuzi, whom we paid tribute to here on Baha’i Blog. The 30 minute movie is called Anis: The Companion and it’s available in English, Spanish or Persian. It dramatizes events from the life of this outstanding hero of Baha’i History.

Juan agreed to tell us more and give us a glimpse behind the production of this movie:

Baha’i Blog: Hi Juan! To begin, please tell us about yourself and your experience producing films.

My name is Juan Carlos Nieto. I was born in San Juan, but I decided to live in the city of Córdoba, Argentina where my two children were born. Because of my faith, I love saying that I am a citizen of the world. I got to know about the Baha’i Faith when I met my wife, who was born in Iran. We have a family with two children and two grandchildren.

I got to know about the Faith when I was an officer in the Air Force and I think God wanted me to quit the Air Force a few days before the beginning of the Falkland (Malvinas) War with the United Kingdom. I always had the idea that being a military pilot was incompatible with being a Baha’i.

When I retired as a pilot, my knowledge about the Cause of Baha’u’llah was more advanced. When I studied the books of the Ruhi Institute, I decided to become a Baha’i, and to start serving the Blessed Beauty, and I served in all of the positions in the institutions and committees, including the National Spiritual Assembly of my country. I often recorded home-made videos about the Faith. And I understood that it was necessary to make them better. That is why I decided to learn about cinematography. I graduated as a Director. Continue reading

‘Women Who Changed the World’: Biographical Stories of Inspiring Women.

Perhaps you’ve already heard Sarah Perceval’s enchanting voice. She has recorded several story-telling audio collections such as Ancient Beauty: Stories from the Life of Baha’u’llah, The Bag of Jewels: A Sparkling Collection of Wisdom Stories Celebrating the Virtues, The Master: Stories of Abdu’l-Baha for Children, and Illumined Youth: Stories of Spiritual Transformation. Her latest project is an album of stories called Women Who Changed the World: Biographical Stories of Inspiring Women. Interwoven with music by Kelly Snook, these audio stories share glimpses of the lives of 10 women from various corners of the world who changed our world for the better — they include Tahirih, Florence Nightingale, and Rosa Parks.

I often get to ask musicians about their albums and their creative processes, but this is my first time interviewing a storyteller. Here’s what Sarah shared with me:  Continue reading

A New Era Begins: Reflections on the Declaration of the Bab

The Baha’i Era began 174 years ago, in 1844 CE, when the Bab announced His mission to a young Shaykhi named Mulla Husayn. How exhilarating it must have been to live during a new revelation—to have been a devotee of Buddha, an apostle of Jesus, a disciple of Muhammad, a first believer in any of the Manifestations of God, attuned to the flood of spiritual power that each divine dispensation initiated!

This year, as Baha’is prepare to mark the anniversary of the Declaration of the Bab, we have new access to Baha’u’llah’s Writings on the exhilaration of the new era. In January, Days of Remembrance, translations of Baha’u’llah’s Writings on the Holy Days, was published. The compilation’s preface notes that the Declaration of the Bab and Ridvan were ordained by Baha’u’llah as the two Most Great Festivals.  Continue reading

William Sutherland Maxwell: Distinguished Architect

William Sutherland Maxwell, November 14th, 1874 - March 25th, 1952 (Photo: courtesy of the Baha'i International Community)

William Sutherland Maxwell was a distinguished soul whose life is best summarized in the words of Shoghi Effendi. The Guardian cabled the following obituary to the Baha’is of the world on March 26, 1952:

With sorrowful heart announce through national assemblies that Hand of Cause of Baha’u’llah, highly esteemed, dearly beloved Sutherland Maxwell, has been gathered into the glory of the Abha Kingdom. His saintly life, extending well nigh four score years, enriched during the course of Abdu’l-Baha’s ministry by services in the Dominion of Canada, ennobled during the Formative Age of Faith by decade of services in Holy Land, during darkest days of my life, doubly honoured through association with the crown of martyrdom won by May Maxwell and incomparable honor bestowed upon his daughter, attained consummation through his appointment as architect of the arcade and superstructure of the Bab’s Sepulchre as well as elevation to the front rank of the Hands of Cause of God.

Continue reading

Ellen “Mother” Beecher: A Sheaf of Light

Ellen Tuller Beecher known affectionately as "Mother Beecher" (1840-1932)

In 1844 Siyyid Ali Muhammad, known to the world as the Bab, spent a quiet evening in His home, with Mulla Husayn. That evening, outwardly unnoticed, signified the birth of a new dispensation, era, and cycle in humanity’s history. Four years earlier, in the United States, a woman was born who was destined to become one of the spiritual progeny of the energy released into the world from that momentous conversation.

When, at the end of the 19th century, Ellen Tuller Beecher declared her belief in Baha’u’llah as the Manifestation of God for this Day, she was nearly 60 years old. At the time she was one of only several hundred individuals in the United States who were registered members of the Baha’i community. She immediately entered into correspondence with Abdu’l-Baha. Some of the letters from Him to Mother Beecher, as she came to be known, contain many well-known passages from the Writings of Abdu’l-Baha regarding the importance of unity:  Continue reading