Tag Archives: Baha’i education

Work is worship and mendicity and sloth are not permitted. Baha’i Writings.

I was thinking today about the possibility of just sitting back, relaxing and doing nothing and this is what came to mind! I had read about this and continue to read year after year and I thought I would share some insights of what I get from the Writings of the Bahá’í Faith.

Firstly, Bahá’u’lláh (Messenger of God, Founder of the Bahá’í Faith) continually stressed the importace of education for all. Back then, men and women were not considered equal and if preference was to be given to only one child in the home, it would be the male. He came and said that if it had to come down to making a decision between male or female, it should be the females since they are the first educators of the world! Furthermore, in His incredible generosity, God has allowed many different ways to worship Him, work being one of them. Here is a relevant quote by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá that includes these two points:

The education of each child is compulsory…. In addition to this wide-spread education each child must be taught a profession, art, or trade, so that every member of the community will be enabled to earn his own livelihood. Work done in the spirit of service is the highest form of worship….

In addition, Shoghi Effendi explained that “Bahá’u’lláh further states that mendicity should not only be discouraged but entirely wiped out from the face of society. It is the duty of those who are in charge of the organization of society to give every individual the opportunity of acquiring the necessary talent in some kind of profession, and also the means of utilizing such a talent, both for its own sake and for the sake of earning the means of his livelihood. Every individual, no matter how handicapped and limited he may be, is under the obligation of engaging in some work or profession, for work, especially when performed in the spirit of service, is according to Bahá’u’lláh, a form of worship. It has not only a utilitarian purpose, but has a value in itself, because it draws us nearer to God, and enables to better grasp His purpose for us in this world.”

This is my understanding: if we think about work done in “the spirit of service”, we cannot limit ourselves to think only about professions such as medicine and education. For example, an artisan is worshipping God as she makes a vase in the same way a surgeon is worshipping God as he performs surgery on a patient so long as those acts are done to the fullest of their capacity and with the intention of bringing forth the attributes of God such as beauty and might. We must use our work and our talents -whatever they may be- to serve humanity. To sit around and beg in this day and age is not acceptable.

It is enjoined upon every one of you to engage in some form of occupation, such as crafts, trades and the like. We have graciously exalted your engagement in such work to the rank of worship unto God, the True One. Ponder ye in your hearts the grace and the blessings of God and render thanks unto Him at eventide and at dawn. Waste not your time in idleness and sloth. Occupy yourselves with that which profiteth yourselves and others.

From the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh.

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!

Baha’i Education of Children – what Baha’i children’s classes are about

Recently I have been more involved in teaching young children Baha’i classes. And it occurred to me that it would be a good idea to describe what these classes are about for those out there who are not familiar with this concept or have questions regarding what we do. I will try to do this to the best of my ability…So here it is:

Baha’i children’s classes are as the name states, based on the teachings and Writings of the Baha’i Faith. There are different components to each class:
1. Prayer and meditation.- this is a very important component because it not only helps children memorize prayers and learn to show reverence and respect during their own and others’ prayers but it helps children maintain that innate connection with God, as well as to get into the habit of saying prayers daily.
2. Singing.- Pretty self-explanatory. The songs we sing have higher motives such as the abolition of all kinds of prejudice, the unity of the Messengers of God, qualities and virtues we should show forth in order to fully shine as human beings. This is a very fun activity for the kids.
3. Story-telling.- This component of the class helps illustrate the topic of the day’s lesson. Usually these stories are based on the story of the life of ‘Abdu’l-Baha (the son of the Founder of the Baha’i Faith – Baha’u’llah). This is so that they can relate to an actual person; a person who was the Perfect Exemplar of what we should aim to be: kind, generous, loving, caring, detached —and the list goes on.
4. Games.- Obviously every class deserves some fun and physical activity. Children must be allowed to play, that is what their job is!
5. Arts and crafts.- Depending on the circumstances and the age of the students, the teacher picks a suitable activity for the children to express themselves artistically. Most times it would consist on colouring sheets with illustrations that reinforce the concepts studied throughout the lesson.

These are the 5 main components of a Baha’i children’s class. See? Nothing strange…just activities that encourage children to ask questions, know that they are spiritual beings and that they have been endowed with the capacity to show forth all the attributes of God such as courage, patience, respect, trust, truthfulness and love.
There are Baha’i children’s classes running all over Australia and the world. If you would like information about them, you can ask me or simply look for the website of the Baha’i community of the city you reside in. Good luck!

%d bloggers like this: