Tag Archives: Bahai Faith

Bicentennial of the birth of Bahá’u’lláh, 22nd of October 2017

In recent years, the Bahá’í world received instructions from their administrative head (The Universal House of Justice) to start using the “Badi calendar” for the celebrations of their Holy days. This changes things…some dates now fluctuate year to year; kind of like Easter. For instance, most notably the Birth of The Báb and Bahá’u’lláh are now TWIN HOLY DAYS! That means they are celebrated on two consecutive days. These days will range over the next 10 years between mid October to mid November. Other holy days like the New Year, the Intercalary Days, the Festival of Ridván, and the 19 Day Feasts also change but they only fluctuate a little from being a day forward or a day earlier depending on when the New Year was celebrated on that year.

Now, this post is about the Bicentennial of the Birth of Bahá’u’lláh, the Manifestation of God for Today. It’s a big deal. He was born in Tehrán on November 12th 1817 – 200 years later, we are going to have celebrations ALL OVER THE WORLD!

I am just very excited about these events and I am sure lots of creative mids will be at work to make something uplifting and dignified. Make sure you check out where the celebration nearest to you will be next year 🙂

For those not yet very familiar with Bahá’u’lláh’s life, you can read about His life here and from His Pen here. He is the Manifestation of God for today and the attributes of His Blessed Person can be clearly seen and distinguished through the accounts and history of His life.

Photo credit: Adib Roy

Photo credit: Adib Roy

 


Bahiyyíh Khánum – Bahá’u’lláh’s daughter, also known as The Greatest Holy Leaf.

What a woman.

I have just finished reading a book about Bahiyyíh Khánum, the beloved heroine of the Baha’i Faith, daughter of Bahá’u’lláh and Asiyyíh Khánum (please note that the term khánum means a woman of rank or position especially in Turkey and Iran*1), and it was amazing.

When I was growing up, I would hear about this great personage and throughout my life, I have met a lot of women named after her. It seemed quite obvious that she was a special person in the Baha’i religion but it wasn’t until recently that I discovered the magnitude of her contributions to her Father’s Cause as well as her importance in the establishment of the Bahá’í Faith throughout the entire world. There is so much to be said about her and I will do my best to give a brief summary that conveys the love and admiration I feel for this incredible woman.

Young age portraitFrom a young age she suffered poverty, need, banishment, imprisonment and all the torments her Father and family were subjected to. There are lots of letters and writings of her own describing these sad and extremely difficult times. If one pays attention, she very rarely expresses her own feelings and her own sufferings. Even as a young child she was her mother’s helper, her brothers’ carer and her Father’s dedicated servant. If you have visited the Bahá’í Holy places in Israel, there are numerous relics belonging to Bahá’u’lláh that we are lucky to have thanks to His beloved daughter.

Here is an excerpt from a Tablet He wrote to her:

“Let these exalted words be thy love-song on the tree of Bahá, O thou most holy and resplendent Leaf: ‘God, besides Whom is none other God, the Lord of this world and the next!’ Verily, We have elevated thee to the rank of one of the most distinguished among thy sex, and granted thee, in My court, a station such as none other woman hath surpassed. Thus have We preferred thee and raised thee above the rest, as a sign of grace from Him Who is the Lord of the throne on high and earth below. We have created thine eyes to behold the light of My countenance, thine ears to hearken unto the melody of My words, thy body to pay homage before My throne. Do thou render thanks unto God, thy Lord, the Lord of all the world.”*2

Portrait

Servitude to her Father and His Faith was not limited and did not come to a halt after His passing. Once Bahá’u’lláh designated His eldest son ‘Abdu’l-Bahá as his successor, and the head of the Baha’is at the time, Bahiyyín Khánum dedicated all her efforts through loving support and great sacrifice to her brother. Both her Father and Brother loved and admired her dearly and held her in great esteem. Here are some quotes from letters of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá addressed to or in mention of His sister, the Greatest Holy Leaf:

“O my well-beloved, deeply spiritual sister! Day and night thou livest in my memory. Whenever I remember thee my heart swelleth with sadness and my regret groweth more intense. Grieve not, for I am thy true, thy unfailing comforter.”

“Dear sister, beloved of my heart and soul! The news of thy safe arrival and pleasant stay in the land of Egypt has reached me and filled my heart with exceeding gladness. I am thankful to Bahá’u’lláh for the good health thou dost enjoy and for the happiness He hath imparted to the hearts of the loved ones in that land.”

“To my honoured and distinguished sister do thou convey the expression of my heartfelt, my intense longing. Day and night she liveth in my remembrance. I dare make no mention of the feelings which separation from her has aroused in my heart, for whatever I should attempt to express in writing will assuredly be effaced by the tears which such sentiments must bring to my eyes.”*3

Aren’t these the most beautiful letters you have ever read a brother send to His sister? Their love trascended the limits of this world and family life. Their bond was completely spiritual, of mutual support and utmost love and respect.

Now, after the passing of their Father, things did not come easy especially from those individuals who stirred conflict and refused to recognize ‘Abdu’l-Bahá as the Center of the Covenant as it was explicitly written by Bahá’u’lláh in His will. Both Bahiyyíh Khánum and ‘Abdu’l-Bahá made great sacrifices that included cutting ties with members of their own family. As you can imagine, this took a great toll on The Greatest Holy Leaf’s loving heart, but she endured all calamities for the love of God. During ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s travels to Europe and North America, it was her, Bahiyyíh Khanúm who was left in charge of the affairs of the Faith in Israel. During this time she did not let the conventions of her gender or the criticism of the ill wishers to stop her from fulfilling this most great task. Amazing thing is that it was the first time in the history of religion that a woman had such a responsibility, – where she is publicly and openly given the same rank as her male counterparts. Equality of men and women at its best! And during that time and in that part of the world!! Isn’t that something?

Shoghi Effendi spoke very highly of this great aunt and he loved her dearly. As you may be aware, it was him who was appointed as ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s successor after the latter’s passing. This time was one of great difficulty and several times he had to find strength in some absences from Haifa. Bahiyyíh Khánum was his support and companion in tests and difficulties, and in those moments of absence, it too was her who was left holding up the standard of the Faith and maintaining the unity of the Bahá’í world. Yes, the whole Baha’i world. Again, the individual who was temporarily holding it all together was a woman, a woman in a time and from a culture where women were not seen as equal to men; where little is known of their lives because they were spent in anonymity.

She was extraordinary. Not only did she dedicate her whole life to serve God; not only did she communicate extensively with institutions and individuals; not only did she build relationships to protect her Father, brother and great grandson; not only did she encourage the building of the Temple in Chicago, USA; not only did she manage the Holy household and hosted the pilgrims; above all, she was the archetype of every Baha’i believer.

To further show you the amount of love and admiration as well as Shoghi Effendi’s reliance on her, here is part of a letter to his great aunt:

Shoghi Effendi with Bahiyyiíh Khaánum

 

“O my sister in the spirit, and the companion of my heart!
God willing, the climate of Haifa hath proved favourable. I hope that out of the bounties of the Ancient Beauty thou wilt gain a measure of peace and health. I bring thee to mind both night and day. Just recently I had hoped to come to Haifa to visit thee, but various problems and the pressure of work have left me no time; for I want to see the travellers off, and every one of them presented a long list of names. God be thanked, I have written to them all.
Kiss the fresh flower of the garden of sweetness, Shoghi Effendi.”*4

 

After her passing, Shoghi Effendi really felt the loss. Her remains are buried on Mount Carmel, in the area called “The Arc” where Bahá’í administrative buildings exist today. Her resting place was established at the center of this significant mountain on purpose, and there is a beautiful meaning to the design of her monument. We might talk about that in another post 🙂

If you would like to know more about The Greatest Holy Leaf, you can read one of the many books written about her. The one I read is called “Prophet’s Daughter” by Janet A. Khan. There is also mention of her on Book 8 of the Ruhi Institute.

Whatever you study, I hope you enjoy, admire, thank and fall in love with her just like we did.

 

REFERENCES

*1 Definition on the Merriam-Webster dictionary

*2 Bahíyyih Khánum, the Greatest Holy Leaf: A Compilation from Bahá’í Sacred Texts and Writings of the Guardian of the Faith and Bahíyyih Khánum’s Own Letters, Bahá’í World Centre, 1982 edition, Page 231

*3 Bahíyyih Khánum, the Greatest Holy Leaf: A Compilation from Bahá’í Sacred Texts and Writings of the Guardian of the Faith and Bahíyyih Khánum’s Own Letters, Bahá’í World Centre, 1982 edition, Page 231

*4 Bahíyyih Khánum, the Greatest Holy Leaf: A Compilation from Bahá’í Sacred Texts and Writings of the Guardian of the Faith and Bahíyyih Khánum’s Own Letters, Bahá’í World Centre, 1982 edition, Page 231

 


I can’t change the world! How can I serve?

I’ve been thinking about this for some time and while it is lovely to think that our actions can change the world, if don’t see immediate results to our efforts, we can feel  demotivated. It is true that the goal of doing service and changing the world should not be for personal loathing but we are not perfect and sometimes results can help keep motivated.

We do selfless acts of service and work towards the common good and when we see the results of our collective action then we are motivated and we are filled with joy. Do you see though the key point made there was COLLECTIVE ACTION. And yes, once again we think: “I can’t change the world, can I?”. If we look at history, a lot of great things started of with the efforts on ONE single person. What we can look for is like-minded people with whom we CAN change the world…isn’t that what our beloved Universal House of Justice tells us?

When we think about community service or plans for development what most commonly comes to mind is leaving everything and relocating to a place where socioeconomic issues are quite apparent but the thing is that although those places are indeed full of opportunities for service, we can always start in our own backyard.

It doesn’t matter where you are! Service opportunities and people willing to help change the world are everywhere. Through our interactions with the community we can establish fruitful friendships and determine what the needs of the community are and how our individual and collective capacities can fulfil these needs.

Now, we’ve made a list of just some of the things a person can do in the event that the thought of making a long-term commitments or undertaking a mighty project makes them feel overwhelmed. These are things that WILL and DO have an impact on the lives of others and are things that most of us can easily do in a group or by ourselves:

  1. Support your local core activities – children’s classes, the junior youth empowerment program, study circles, devotional meetings
  2. Host or help hosting a fireside or deepening on elevated topics such as spiritual and material development, the importance of education and the purpose of life
  3. Give your time to a charity of choice – can be weekly or monthly or perhaps even a one-off thing. Charities are often looking for volunteers for events or to help them with admin tasks.
  4. Donate blood at your local health centre
  5. Support a local nursing home by having regular visits to their residents – nothing fancy! Sometimes you will find that people are just happy to talk 🙂
  6. Be a source of happiness to the children’s ward at your local hospital. You can share songs and prayers with them and talk to their and  their families…you’d be surprised at the results.
  7. Find out some collection charities and give what you can to them. With the current world situation, there are many of these organizations you can get involved with.
  8. Offer your services to a neighbour who requires special assistance for grocery shopping.
  9. Be a friend. In our communities there are individuals who either live by themselves or their families tend to be more isolated from the community for one reason or another -sometimes this reason being age-; being a true friend to them can mean more than you can imagine.
  10. Help plant new trees near you
  11. Support your local core activities – children’s classes, the junior youth empowerment program, study circles, devotional meetings
  12. Host or help hosting a fireside or deepening on elevated topics such as spiritual and material development, the importance of education and the purpose of life
  13. Become a “big brother” to a child in need. Several charities set this up and you can get involved if you like working with children and youth. Remember, they are the future and lean the most from example.

…the list can go on but I’ll stop here…happy serving! 🙂

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Contact us! We want to know what you would like to see us write about here!

Dear all;

We haven’t been as active here as we would like but we want to make it up to you all so…we are asking all of you to help us come up with new topics. If there has been something on your mind or if you have heard something and want to know more, shoot us a line and let us know. We would love to do some research for you and do our best to expand on the topic for everyone’s knowledge.

We can’t wait to see if we get any brave replies. Thank you!!

P.s. Here is a sneak peak on what we have been working on this week:

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The 19 Nineteen Day Feast. Baha’i meeting. What is it?

Many of us have heard of or attended what Baha’is call the “nineteen day feast”. While to some of us it isn’t only food for our spirit but also for our hearts when sharing with our fellow friends, it would be helpful to see what this meeting is all about as well as to read some paragraphs from the Holy Writings.

The Nineteen Day Feast consists of various parts: devotional, administrative, consultation/suggestions and social. Let’s explore each one:

1. The devotional part is where readings and prayers from the baha’i Writings written by Bahá’u’lláh, The Báb and ‘Abdu’l-Bahá are shared. Some music and other forms of adoration may be incorporated into the program as well.

2. Administrative. It is here where the Local Spiritual Assembly gives the community a run down of events from the past Baha’i month, they also provide responses to previous suggestions given at Feast, announce upcoming events and bring the treasurer’s report to share and consult.

3. Consultation is as its name suggests, a time where the whole community can discuss pending subjects and suggestions. Everyone is entitled to share their opinion and it is a space where people share their thoughts. After this, some suggestions are given for the Local Assembly to consult at their own meetings.

4. The social part is where we all gather together and mingle and when possible, share refreshments (nothing fancy, something simple is sufficient). A spirit of unity and love should fill the atmosphere not only amongst long time friends but also welcoming the new faces into our communities.

So, what do the Writings say about Feast. What is it and why is it so important? ‘Abdu’l-Bahá says:

“It is my hope that this feast will be given on one day out of every nineteen, for it bringeth you closer together; it is the very well-spring of unity and loving-kindness.”  “As to the Nineteen Day Feast, it rejoiceth mind and heart. If this feast be held in the proper fashion, the friends will, once in nineteen days, find themselves spiritually restored, and endued with a power that is not of this world.” Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, p. 89, 91.

In the Kitáb-i-Aqdas (the Most Holy Book), it says:

In the Arabic Bayan the Báb called upon His followers to gather together once every nineteen days to show hospitality and fellowship. Bahá’u’lláh here confirms this and notes the unifying role of such occasions.

‘Abdu’l-Bahá and Shoghi Effendi after Him have gradually unfolded the institutional significance of this injunction. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá emphasized the importance of the spiritual and devotional character of these gatherings. Shoghi Effendi, besides further elaborating the devotional and social aspects of the Feast, has developed the administrative element of such gatherings and, in systematically instituting the Feast, has provided for a period of consultation on the affairs of the Bahá’í community, including the sharing of news and messages.

…Shoghi Effendi in a letter written on his behalf further comments: Attendance at Nineteen Day Feasts is not obligatory but very important, and every believer should consider it a duty and privilege to be present on such occasions.

(Baha’u’llah, The Kitab-i-Aqdas, p. 202)

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Centaurea_cyanus_MichaD_light_blue.jpg

 

NOTES:

There is  a letter written by the House of Justice to the Hands of the Cause of God (Compilations, Lights of Guidance, p. 244) where it says “that the Feast is opened with devotional readings, that is to say prayers and meditations, from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh, the Báb and the Master…” This does make us think the devotional should be the first part.
We have found this Statement of the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, in Bahá’í Meetings/The Nineteen Day Feast, p. 23: “In a general letter issued to Local Spiritual Assemblies several years ago, it was pointed out that the Guardian instructs that the Nineteen Day Feast be held according to the following program: the first part, entirely spiritual in character, is devoted to readings from Bahá’í Sacred Writings; the second part consists of general consultation on the affairs of the Cause, at which time the Local Spiritual Assembly reports its activities to the community, asks for suggestions and consultation, and also delivers messages received from the Guardian and the National Assembly. The third part is the material feast and social meeting of all the friends.” (Compilations, NSA USA – Developing Distinctive Baha’i Communities).

Also, there is this Letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, dated January 23, 1985, to an individual believer, in an unpublished compilation, “The Nineteen Day Feast”: “Regarding changing the order of the Feast, it is clear from Shoghi Effendi’s instructions that the Nineteen Day Feast program should start with the spiritual part, and not with the social part, which includes refreshments, or breaking bread together. . . . However, if it is found that some sort of association among the friends or the serving of food and refreshments will be helpful, if this takes place at the outset, there is no objection to this practice, provided it is clear that it is not part of the Feast.” (Compilations, NSA USA – Developing Distinctive Baha’i Communities).

So, our understanding is that this can be done but NOT replacing the social part of the feast at the end.


Mírzá Mihdí – The most Pure Branch

Mirza Mehdi Mírzá Mihdí (Mehdí) was Bahá’u’lláh’s youngest son. Born in Iran in 1848, he was a gentle child that loved his Father very much. From a young age, he accompanied his Father on His exile without complaints or requests.

His life was the perfect example of complete detachment and unconditional love.

“To the galling weight of these tribulations was now added the bitter grief of a sudden tragedy — the premature loss of the noble, the piousMírzá Mihdí, the Purest Branch, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s twenty-two year old brother, an amanuensis of Bahá’u’lláh and a companion of His exile from the days when, as a child, he was brought from Tihran to Baghdad to join his Father after His return from Sulaymaniyyíh. He was pacing the roof of the barracks in the twilight, one evening, wrapped in his customary devotions, when he fell through the unguarded skylight onto a wooden crate, standing on the floor beneath, which pierced his ribs, and caused, twenty-two hours later, his death, on the 23rd of Rabi’u’l-Avval 1287 A.H. (June 23, 1870). His dying supplication to a grieving Father was that his life might be accepted as a ransom for those who were prevented from attaining the presence of their Beloved.

In a highly significant prayer, revealed by Bahá’u’lláh in memory of His son — a prayer that exalts his death to the rank of those great acts of atonement associated with Abraham’s intended sacrifice of His son, with the crucifixion of Jesus Christ and the martyrdom of the Imam Husayn — we read the following: “I have, O my Lord, offered up that which Thou hast given Me, that Thy servants may be quickened, and all that dwell on earth be united.” And, likewise, these prophetic words, addressed to His martyred son: “Thou art the Trust of God and His Treasure in this Land. Erelong will God reveal through thee that which He hath desired.”

After he had been washed in the presence of Bahá’u’lláh, he “that was created of the light of Bahá,” to whose “meekness” the Supreme Pen had testified, and of the “mysteries” of whose ascension that same Pen had made mention, was borne forth, escorted by the fortress guards, and laid to rest, beyond the city walls, in a spot adjacent to the shrine of Nabi Salih, from whence, seventy years later, his remains, simultaneously with those of his illustrious mother, were to be translated to the slopes of Mt. Carmel, in the precincts of the grave of his sister, and under the shadow of the Báb’s holy sepulcher.”

(Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By, p. 188)


Our newest Baha’i ring and Bahá’í pendant now with new photos!

We have now uploaded new photos of our “Rose” Baha’i ring and our “Pearl and gems” Bahá’í pendant. Check the out below and see full item descriptions on our website.