Monthly Archives: April 2012

Ridván is here! What is it and why is it celebrated by Bahá’ís all over the world?

 

The “Most Great Festival” (Ridván) is the biggest celebration for Baha’is. This festival marks the Declaration of the Founder of the Baha’i FaithBahá’u’lláh.

It is written in the Most Holy Book (p.254) that: …the Festival of Riḍván, which commemorates Bahá’u’lláh’s Declaration of His Prophetic Mission in the Garden of Riḍván in Baghdád during twelve days in April/May 1863 and is referred to by Him as “the King of Festivals”.

Bahá’u’lláh spent most of His Blessed life in prison and exile. When He got exiled once again, He stayed for 12 days in a garden outside Baghdad. This garden is known as the Ridvan garden. It was there where He announced to those present that He was the One, the Messenger of God they had all been waiting for, and the One that The Báb had been preparing them for. Here is a more accurate explanation by Shoghi Effendi in the book God Passes by (p.412):

The arrival of Bahá’u’lláh in the Najíbíyyih Garden, subsequently designated by His followers the Garden of Riḍván, signalizes the commencement of what has come to be recognized as the holiest and most significant of all Bahá’í festivals, the festival commemorating the Declaration of His Mission to His companions. So momentous a Declaration may well be regarded both as the logical consummation of that revolutionizing process which was initiated by Himself upon His return from Sulaymáníyyih, and as a prelude to the final proclamation of that same Mission to the world and its rulers from Adrianople.

All the Messengers of the past had been announcing His coming and in diverse Holy Scriptures we can find mention of Bahá’u’lláh’s Dispensation. For instance, Jesus Christ said He would return in the Name f the Glory of the Father – see how Bahá’u’lláh means “The Glory of God”. Shoghi Effendi in God Passes By (p.412) wrote:

He Who in such dramatic circumstances was made to sustain the overpowering weight of so glorious a Mission was none other than the One Whom posterity will acclaim, and Whom innumerable followers already recognize, as the Judge, the Lawgiver and Redeemer of all mankind, as the Organizer of the entire planet, as the Unifier of the children of men, as the Inaugurator of the long-awaited millennium, as the Originator of a new “Universal Cycle,” as the Establisher of the Most Great Peace, as the Fountain of the Most Great Justice, as the Proclaimer of the coming of age of the entire human race, as the Creator of a new World Order, and as the Inspirer and Founder of a world civilization.

To Israel He was neither more nor less than the incarnation of the “Everlasting Father,” the “Lord of Hosts” come down “with ten thousands of saints”; to Christendom Christ returned “in the glory of the Father,” to Shí’ah Islám the return of the Imám Ḥusayn; to Sunní Islám the descent of the “Spirit of God” (Jesus Christ); to the Zoroastrians the promised Sháh-Bahrám; to the Hindus the reincarnation of Krishna; to the Buddhists the fifth Buddha.

Baha’is all over the world not only celebrate the 20th or 21st of April as the beginning of this 12 day festival but the 9th day and the 12th day also are observed as Holy Days which means we take permission from work/school and celebrate this momentous occasion. Furthermore, it is then when the Local and National Spiritual Assemblies are elected every year and when the Universal House of Justice is also elected.

So, if you are a Baha’i, you are already celebrating. If not, join us in celebration!! For this is a day of joy and gratefulness to God for all the bounties He constantly showers upon us.


Centenary of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s visit to the United States of America

This year marks the 100th anniversary of ‘abdu’l-Bahá’s visit to North America. Given that He was a prisoner until a very mature age, undertaking this incredible journey in the early 1900s really shows his love and dedication.

The Master (one of  ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s many titles) travelled between August and December 1911 through Europe, visiting France, Switzerland and England. He then boarded a ship bound to New York city where He arrived on the 11th of April 1912. Baha’is in the United States are celebrating this year the 100th year since this historic event.

-He was supposed to board the Titanic but instead chose a more modest ship, which delivered Him safely to the friends in the USA. You can read more about ‘Abdu’l-Bahá and the Titanic HERE.-

‘Abdu’l-Bahá visited the United States for 239 days which include 10 days in Canada. Here is also a map of the cities He blessed with His presence:

The following if from THIS website:

By the time of His arrival, 19 years had elapsed since, by fortuitous circumstances not involving any Bahá’í, the name of Bahá’u’lláh was publicly mentioned for the first time in the Western Hemisphere. It happened in Chicago on September 23, 1893, almost a year and a half after the ascension of Bahá’u’lláh, at the World’s Parliament of Religions which was connected with the Columbian Exposition commemorating the four hundredth anniversary of the discovery of America. Thus began the first episode in the history of the Bahá’í Faith in America. By February 1894, a Syrian doctor who had accepted the Faith in Cairo arrived in Chicago and began a vigorous effort to teach the new religion. Within two years hundreds professed their belief in it; additional conversions took place in other major cities to which he traveled. The laying of the foundation of the American Bahá’í community had begun. The enthusiastic members of the newly born community lost no time in initiating correspondence with ‘Abdu’l-Bahá while He was still a religious prisoner in the fortress at Akka in Ottoman Palestine.

These developments must have delighted and gratified ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, but could hardly have been wholly unexpected by Him. Shoghi Effendi, the Guardian of the Bahá’í Faith appointed by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá as His successor, indicates that in 1893, sometime before the Chicago happenings, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá had revealed a verse that had “already foreshadowed” His Western journey, “an auspicious event which posterity would recognize as one of the greatest triumphs of His ministry, which in the end would confer an inestimable blessing upon the Western world.” It was with this great expectation inspired by the Revelation of Bahá’u’lláh, that He, Who had for fifty years been subjected to imprisonment and exile for His religion, undertook, at the age of 68, the long journey from the Holy Land to the Western world.

I was lucky to be able to visit the Baha’i temple in Wilmette, Illinois. There lays the cornerstone which ‘Abdu’l-Bahá laid marking where the temple should be built. He called it the “Mother Temple” since it would become the first of its kind to be built in the West. Here are some pictures of a new exhibition set up especially for this occasion at the this Temple’s visitor’s centre.

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Some of the commemorative events held in different cities across the United States include:

CHICAGO: Saturday, April 28, 2012. Chicago Theatre, 175 N State Street.

WILMETTE: Sunday, April 29, 2012. Bahá’í House of Worship, 100 Linden Avenue.

WASHINGTON: Saturday, May 12, 2012. Omni Shoreham Hotel, 2500 Calvert Street NW (@ Connecticut Ave).

NEW YORK CITY: Saturday, June 16, 2012. Lehman Center, 250 Bedford Park Blvd. West.

 SAN FRANCISCO: Sunday, September 9, 2012. War Memorial Opera House, 301 Van Ness Avenue.

The poor. A real treasure amongst us.

I recently had the opportunity to visit Central America where I was born and try to visit often. As you can imagine, poverty is quite obvious in that part of the world and the extremes of poverty and wealth are visible every day. I was lucky enough to be able to stay  in an community where the neighbours know each other, help each other and usually don’t expect anything in return. The Baha’i community is particularly happy and united and people consider each other family.

While there I spent a lot of time with friends who do not possess much materially speaking. Their radiance and joy was truly from the heart and they I can certainly say were amongst the generous both with material things as well as their time and attentions. I cannot emphasise enough how being loving and caring towards the poor is a source of joy and how our problems are so insignificant compared to what they go through. Materialism really has taken over our lives and we must be ever vigilant that we don’t get trapped in its claws.

The Baha’i writings say that blessed are the poor for their lives are full of tests and difficulties, thus their hope and trust relies entirely upon God rather than themselves.

In “The Promulgation of Peace” ‘Abdu’l-Bahá said that “we must be the servants of the poor, helpers of the poor, remember the sorrows of the poor, associate with them; for thereby we may inherit the Kingdom of heaven… the poor are very dear to God. The mercies and bounties of God are with them. The rich are mostly negligent, inattentive, steeped in worldliness, depending upon their means, whereas the poor are dependent upon God, and their reliance is upon Him, not upon themselves. Therefore, the poor are nearer the threshold of God and His throne.”

‘Abdu’l-Bahá further reminded us that Jesus Himself was poor and those who first believed in Him and followed Him were poor as well. We can therefore see how the poor have been and are nearer to God and their souls are cleaner and more deprived of mundane attachments.

He also wrote:

No deed of man is greater before God than helping the poor. Spiritual conditions are not dependent upon the possession of worldly treasures or the absence of them. When physically destitute, spiritual thoughts are more likely. Poverty is stimulus toward God. Each one of you must have great consideration for the poor and render them assistance. Organize in an effort to help them and prevent increase of poverty. The greatest means for prevention is that whereby the laws of the community will be so framed and enacted that it will not be possible for a few to be millionaires and many destitute. One of Bahá’u’lláh’s teachings is the adjustment of means of livelihood in human society. Under this adjustment there can be no extremes in human conditions as regards wealth and sustenance. For the community needs financier, farmer merchant and laborer just as an army must be composed of commander, officers and privates. All cannot be commanders; all cannot be officers or privates. Each in his station in the social fabric must be competent; each in his function according to ability; but justness of opportunity for all.

Foundations of World unity, p.112.

I love that one of the teachings of Bahá’u’lláh is the abolition of the extremes of poverty and wealth and the fact that He has given us such direct and undoubtedly clear instructions is a precious gift. Let us all  pray that we will live to see the day when this teaching will be made reality.

Baha’i New Year celebration in Corozal, Honduras