Monthly Archives: November 2009

The Baha’i Faith – ‘Abdu’l-Bahá: the Center of the Covenant 28th of November His Ascension

The following was copied from this website: and is posted here to commemorate the ascension of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá.
In a letter to His followers in America ‘Abdul-Bahá wrote:

My name is `Abdu’l-Bahá [literally, Servant of Bahá]. My qualification is `Abdu’l-Bahá. My reality is `Abdu’l-Bahá. My praise is `Abdu’l-Bahá. Thraldom to the Blessed Perfection [Bahá’u’lláh] is my glorious and refulgent diadem, and servitude to all the human race my perpetual religion… No name, no title, no mention, no commendation have I, nor will ever have, except `Abdu’l-Bahá. This is my longing. This is my greatest yearning. This is my eternal life. This is my everlasting glory.

On November 29, 1921, ten thousand people–Jews, Christians, and Muslims from all persuasions and denominations–gathered on Mount Carmel in the Holy Land to mourn the passing of One who was eulogized as the essence of “Virtue and Wisdom, of Knowledge and Generosity.”1 On that occasion, `Abdu’l-Bahá–Bahá’u’lláh’s Son and chosen successor–was described by a Jewish leader as a “living example of self-sacrifice,” by a Christian orator as One who led humanity to the “Way of Truth,” and by a prominent Muslim leader as a “pillar of peace” and the embodiment of “glory and greatness.”2 His funeral, according to a Western observer, brought together a great throng “sorrowing for His death, but rejoicing also for His life.”

Throughout the Occident and the Orient, `Abdu’l-Bahá was known as an ambassador of peace, a champion of justice, and the leading exponent of a new Faith. Through a series of epoch-making travels across North America and Europe, `Abdu’l-Bahá–by word and example–proclaimed with persuasiveness and force the essential principles of His Father’s religion. Affirming that “Love is the most great law” that is the foundation of “true civilization,” and that the “supreme need of humanity is cooperation and reciprocity” among all its peoples, `Abdu’l-Bahá reached out to leaders and the meek alike, to every soul who crossed His path.

An American commentator wrote:

He found a large and sympathetic audience waiting to greet Him personally and to receive from His own lips His loving and spiritual message…. Beyond the words spoken there was something indescribable in His personality that impressed profoundly all who came into His presence. The dome-like head, the patriarchal beard, the eyes that seemed to have looked beyond the reach of time and sense, the soft yet clearly penetrating voice, the translucent humility, the never failing love,–but above all, the sense of power mingled with gentleness that invested His whole being with a rare majesty of spiritual exaltation that both set Him apart, and yet brought Him near to the lowliest soul,–it was all this, and much more that can never be defined, that have left with His many … friends, memories that are ineffaceable and unspeakably precious.

Yet, however magnetic His personality or penetrating His insights into the human condition, such characteristics cannot adequately capture `Abdu’l-Bahá’s unique station in religious history. In the words of Bahá’u’lláh Himself, `Abdu’l-Bahá was the “Trust of God,” “a shelter for all mankind,” “the most great Favor,” and God’s “ancient and immutable Mystery.”7 The Bahá’í writings further affirm that “in the person of `Abdu’l-Bahá the incompatible characteristics of a human nature and superhuman knowledge and perfection have been blended and are completely harmonized.”

The question of religious succession has been crucial to all faiths. Failure to resolve this question has inevitably led to acrimony and division. The ambiguity surrounding the true successors of Jesus and Muhammad, for example, led to differing interpretations of sacred scripture and deep discord within both Christianity and Islam. However, Bahá’u’lláh prevented schism and established an unassailable foundation for His Faith through the provision of His will and testament, entitled The Book of My Covenant. He wrote: “When the ocean of My presence hath ebbed and the Book of My Revelation is ended, turn your faces toward Him Whom God hath purposed, Who hast branched from this Ancient Root. The object of this sacred verse is none other except the Most Mighty Branch [`Abdu’l-Bahá].”
Bahá’u’lláh’s appointment of `Abdu’l-Bahá as His successor was the means for diffusing His message of hope and universal peace to all corners of the world, for realizing the essential unity of all peoples. In referring to `Abdu’l-Bahá, Bahá’u’lláh wrote: “The glory of God rest upon Thee, and upon whosoever serveth Thee and circleth around Thee. Woe, great woe, betide him that opposeth and injureth Thee. Well is it with him that sweareth fealty to Thee.”10 `Abdu’l-Bahá was, in short, the Center of Bahá’u’lláh’s Covenant –the instrument for ensuring the unity of the Bahá’í community and preserving the integrity of Bahá’u’lláh’s teachings.

As the authorized interpreter of Bahá’u’lláh’s teachings, `Abdu’l-Bahá became the “living mouth of the Book, the expounder of the Word.”11 Without `Abdu’l-Bahá, the enormous creative power of Bahá’u’lláh’s revelation could not have been transmitted to humanity, nor its import fully comprehended. He elucidated the teachings of His Father’s Faith, amplified its doctrines, and delineated the central features of its administrative institutions. He was the unerring guide and architect of a rapidly expanding Bahá’í community. In addition, Bahá’u’lláh vested in `Abdu’l-Bahá “the virtues of perfection in personal and social behavior, that humanity may have an enduring model to emulate.”12 As the perfect Exemplar of Bahá’u’lláh’s teachings and the Pivot of His Covenant, `Abdu’l-Bahá became “the incorruptible medium for applying the Word to practical measures for the raising up of a new civilization.”

In retrospect, it became clear that Bahá’u’lláh had carefully prepared `Abdu’l-Bahá to succeed Him. He was born on May 23, 1844, the very night that the Báb had declared the beginning of a new religious cycle in history. As a child, He suffered along with His Father during the persecutions against the Bábis. `Abdu’l-Bahá was eight years old when Bahá’u’lláh was first imprisoned for His role as a leading exponent and defender of the Bábi Faith. He accompanied Bahá’u’lláh throughout His long exile from Persia to the capital of the Ottoman empire, and ultimately, to Palestine. As He grew older, `Abdu’l-Bahá became His Father’s closest companion and emerged as His deputy, shield, and principal representative to the political and religious leaders of the day. `Abdu’l-Bahá’s extraordinary demonstration of leadership, knowledge, and service brought great prestige to the exiled Bahá’í community. He assumed His role as the Head of the Bahá’í Faith following Bahá’u’lláh’s passing in May 1892.

In 1911, after more than four decades of imprisonment and suffering, `Abdu’l-Bahá journeyed to the West and presented with brilliant simplicity, to high and low alike, Bahá’u’lláh’s prescription for the moral and spiritual renewal of society. This “Call of God,” `Abdu’l-Bahá stated, “…breathed a new life into the body of mankind, and infused a new spirit into the whole creation. It is for this reason that the world hath been moved to its depths, and the hearts and consciences of men been quickened. Erelong the evidences of this regeneration will be revealed, and the fast asleep will be awakened.”14

Among the vital truths that `Abdu’l-Bahá tirelessly proclaimed to leaders of thought as well as countless groups and masses at large were: “The independent search after truth, unfettered by superstition or tradition; the oneness of the entire human race, the pivotal principle and fundamental doctrine of the Faith; the basic unity of all religions; the condemnation of all forms of prejudice, whether religious, racial, class or national; the harmony which must exist between religion and science; the equality of men and women, the two wings on which the bird of humankind is able to soar; the introduction of compulsory education; the adoption of a universal auxiliary language; the abolition of the extremes of wealth and poverty; the institution of a world tribunal for the adjudication of disputes between nations; the exaltation of work, performed in the spirit of service, to the rank of worship; the glorification of justice as the ruling principle in human society, and of religion as a bulwark for the protection of all peoples and nations; and the establishment of a permanent and universal peace as the supreme goal of all mankind.”

El Dia de la Alianza de Dios – La Fe Baha’i: Bahá’u’lláh, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Shoghi Effendi & La Casa Universal de Justicia

Hoy 26 de Noviembre los Bahá’ís de todo el mundo celebran lo que llamamos el “Dia de la Alianza”. Como tuve el placer de asistir a una de las reuniones en una comunidad Bahá’í, voy a tratar de escribir lo que recuerdo de la fabulosa presentación que hubo.

Dios ha existido por siempre y así seguirá existiendo infinitamente. El desde el comienzo de la creación envió a Sus Mensajeros o Profetas a Revelarse ante la humanidad para hacernos saber cual era Su Guía y Voluntad. Entre estos Mensajeros de Dios se encuentran Buda, Moisés, Jesucristo, Muhammad, El Báb y Bahá’u’lláh
(el mas reciente). Dios siempre ha cumplido con Su Promesa de enviarnos guía. Aunque los nombres de estas almas santas, estos Mensajeros de Dios es diferente, el Espíritu Santo, la Verdad es la misma. Ellos vienen de tiempo en tiempo para hacernos saber la guía necesaria para progresar como civilización de acuerdo a las necesidades de nuestra época y a nuestra capacidad de entendimiento. Por ejemplo, Ellos pueden compararse con los días de la semana, los cuales a pesar de poseer nombres diferentes (lunes, miércoles, sábado) son iniciados por la luz del MISMO sol.
Ahora, el ultimo de estos Mensajeros fue Bahá’u’lláh Quien aparte de Sus Enseñanzas y 100 volúmenes de Escritos ha urgido a Sus seguidores (los Bahá’ís) a que obedezcan a Su Alianza. Aquí es donde vamos a ver de que trata eso.

Una “alianza” es un convenio, un pacto entre dos o mas partes, verdad? Ahora, la Alianza, lo que celebramos los Bahá’ís todos los años en esta fecha es el acuerdo entre Dios y la humanidad que ha existido desde el comienzo de la creación. En esta Alianza Dios promete no dejar a la humanidad sin guía y a enviar a Sus Mensajeros para comunicarnos lo que El desee. Dios siempre ha cumplido con su parte en esta Alianza. Los que hemos fallado somos nosotros. Nuestra parte en este pacto es reconocer y obedecer a la Manifestación de Dios para nuestra época. Claramente en la historia de la humanidad hemos fallado en hacerlo.

Bahá’u’lláh nos urge a cumplir nuestra parte de esa Alianza y ha hecho -como signo de Su maravillosa Bondad- una Alianza menor con Sus seguidores. Esta Alianza implica que después del reconocimiento de Su Santidad Bahá’u’lláh, reconocemos a Su Hijo Mayor, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá como Su Sucesor. Asimismo, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá urgió al mundo Baha’i que después de Su muerte debíamos volvernos a su nieto Shoghi Effendi quien fue el único Guardián de la Fe Bahá’í. Después de Shoghi Effendi, los Baha’is nos volvemos a la Casa Universal de Justicia, quien es el cuerpo administrativo de la Fe Bahá’í a nivel mundial. A nivel nacional esta la Asamblea Espiritual Nacional Bahá’í y a nivel local están las Asambleas Espirituales Locales.

El propósito de la Alianza de Dios es la UNIDAD de la HUMANIDAD.
La Alianza de Bahá’u’lláh es la UNIDAD entre los Baha’is de todo el mundo.
Esto es tan claro como el agua, de modo que no queda espacio para la mal-interpretación o desviación.

Baha’i Education – Spiritual Children classes. Why is it so important?

A few days ago the training for teachers of Baha’i children classes took place in a Latin American city where I happened to be. I did not attend the whole program but did see enough to write on this post.
Let’s start with the statistics of this meeting: there were about 36 youth aged 11-15 from different communities around one of the major cities, 6 tutors (which meant each had about 6 participants in their group) and from which 3 also served as aides during the day and 2 as guardians during the night, there was one cook and her assistant and one main person who was in charge of it all; this person did all from the organization of the event, the main talks, the teaching of songs, games and crafts, as well as making sure the food was on time, the youth went to bed when told and even cleaning up at the end of the event. WOW!!

At first I was a bit skeptical about the success of the event but decided to go to help either way. There were so many things going on that I cannot write all of it. I will just highlight what to me were amazing events:

First, some of the youngest amongst the group were the most dedicated students. They read carefully, filled out the sheets and sang songs as loud as they could. I had the opportunity to help in the purchase of groceries one day and took one of the participants with me. She was happy to join me and while we drove we had a nice and long conversation. We talked about many things including life after death. I was in absolute shock when this 12 year old could so eloquently and in simple terms explain the concept of death and the nature of the soul. That is when I realized that the Word of Baha’u’llah had definitely touched her young heart and made her show all her gems and let mankind benefit therefrom.

Second, of course there were some participants that came exclusively for the socialization and they were loud, rude and careless. I was very worried for the person in charge and wanted to do something to help her. One night I told her before I was leaving that it filled me with sadness to leave her with all those youth and she said to me in the sweetest voice: “go, I am good, this is where I want to be. I am happy with my kids”. There was nothing I could say. This person was completely devoted to the education of these youth and did it with the utmost love and sincerity. Despite the mess and chaos that was created very often, she remained loving, patient and happy throughout the event. I was in awe. She is really the personification of an angel!

There were times when we had to do the study of the Ruhi Book 3 about the education of children and when it was time to go out for recess, some of the participants wanted to stay and study longer! It was lovely to see! In the same way, when it was time to go back to it, they were keen to start. Absolutely worth the time dedicated to organizing and carrying out the event.

The last day, when people were going home, different groups left on different buses. Some had to wait on the side of the road, including myself. So we did. I was the last to arrive and when I did all I could hear from the opposite side of the road was the songs they had learned in the course. It totally filled my heart with joy.

Even though not all of them took as much as they could out of it, those who did will go back to their communities and pass it on to the children they teach Baha’i education classes to or even start their own class.
This is why Baha’i classes are so important to our community…because it is the base from which upright and spiritual individuals grow out of. Most if not all of the youth who attended the training a few years ago were the children that the now older youth taught classes to! In the same way, those children currently in classes are the ones that like their older peers will be teachers and so on. The circle grows and it is growing rapidly. It is an exciting movement!

Shoghi Effendi writes about PRAYER. The Guardian of the Baha’i Faith (March 1, 1897 – November 4, 1957)

In honour of our Beloved Guardian -who passed away today- Shoghi Effendi, who was the great-grandson of Baha’u’llah wrote many, many books and letters to believers to explain and clarify certain questions and doubts about the Writings of His Great-Grandfather and Grandfather (‘Abdu’l-Baha). One of the many amazing things written, that has been attributed to Shoghi Effendi was what we know as the Dynamics of Prayer which describes the process of decision-making when using prayer as a tool. So here it goes from the book Compilations, Principles of Bahá’í Administration, p. 90:

1st: Pray and meditate about it. Use the prayers of the Manifestations of God as they have the greatest power. Then remain in the silence of contemplation for a few minutes.

2nd: Arrive at a decision and hold this. This decision is usually born during the contemplation. It may seem almost impossible of accomplishment but if it seems to be as answer to a prayer or a way of solving the problem, then immediately take the next step.

3rd: Have determination to carry the decision through. Many fail here. The decision, budding into determination, is blighted and instead becomes a wish or a vague longing. When determination is born, immediately take the next step.

4th: Have faith and confidence that the power will flow through you, the right way will appear, the door will open, the right thought, the right message, the right principle or the right book will be given you. Have confidence, and the right thing will come to your need. Then, as you rise from prayer, take at once the fifth step.

5th: Then, he said, lastly, ACT; act as though it had all been answered. Then act with tireless, ceaseless energy. And as you act, you, yourself, will become a magnet, which will attract more power to your being, until you become an unobstructed channel for the Divine power to flow through you. Many pray but do not remain for the last half of the first step. Some who meditate arrive at a decision, but fail to hold it. Few have the determination to carry the decision through, still fewer have the confidence that the right thing will come to their need. But how many remember to act as though it had all been answered?

How true are those words – “Greater than the prayer is the spirit in which it is uttered” and greater than the way it is uttered is the spirit in which it is carried out.

Love for humanity, love for our family, love for God. What Baha’is have to say about love.

As an abstract concept, love is indeed something extremely hard for me to explain or try to understand. Recently I found myself in a situation in which my love and detachment had to be consciously put under control. Now, I will try to explain what I mean along the lines of what I have learned from the Baha’i Writings.

There are different kinds of love. The love for ourselves as creatures of God, the love for each other, and the love for and from God from and to us. The only love that is unconditional is the love of God for each one His creatures. Now, lets look at the love between two people. Once we have love for someone, it is very difficult not to mention the name of that person. All we want to do is to be with them, talk to them and serve them. If our love for another imperfect human being can be this strong and rule our actions with such power then shouldn’t our love for God -who is undoubtedly Perfect- be like a burning fire that consumes all desire of any other but Him?

This may seem like a contradictory theory, however, I have come to one conclusion: our love for others is guided and protected but our love for God. If we are united by and for the love of God then that love transcends all the boundaries of this earthly world. In other words, (and this was my latest discovery) our love must be detached from our hopes and desires. We love and give others the freedom to love us if they choose to. How often have we experienced disappointment after giving others as much love as we considered ourselves capable of giving and receiving nothing in return? To me, the key for happiness is in submissiveness to the Will of God. I have been reassured of this so many times in my life! Once we do all we can to show love to others, it is up to them to decide what they want to do with our love. Once we have put it out there, if it serves its purpose, then great! if it doesn’t, do not panic. Leave things to God and put your whole trust in Him. After all, He knows it all and knows what is best for us.

God has been telling humanity for thousands of years to love our neighbour for our love to Him, and today, this is clearly evident. For example: we are all affected when notified of the suffering of others in remote parts of the globe. Even though it may seem as it does not affect us in the least, it does. This reaction has to come from our love to God and therefore for His creation. In giving love, we cannot get picky. ‘Abdu’l-Baha said:

Do not be content with showing friendship in words alone, let your heart burn with loving kindness for all who may cross your path.

%d bloggers like this: