Tag Archives: Bahais

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)


Baha’i Faith: 29th of May – Ascension of Bahá’u’lláh.

On the 29th of May, Baha’is all over the world commemorate the ascension of  the Promised One of all religions and Messenger of God for today: Bahá’u’lláh. He was a prisoner and exile for 40 years of His blessed life. Throughout there were victories and crises but the Truth of His Revelation shone even brighter after every effort to eradicate its light.

Here is the story of what happened before His Passing, extracted from God Passes By, p.222-223:

Already nine months before His ascension Bahá’u’lláh, as attested by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, had voiced His desire to depart from this world. From that time onward it became increasingly evident, from the tone of His remarks to those who attained His presence, that the close of His earthly life was approaching, though He refrained from mentioning it openly to any one. On the night preceding the eleventh of Shavval 1309 A.H. (May 8, 1892) He contracted a slight fever which, though it mounted the following day, soon after subsided. He continued to grant interviews to certain of the friends and pilgrims, but it soon became evident that He was not well. His fever returned in a more acute form than before, His general condition grew steadily worse, complications ensued which at last culminated in His ascension, at the hour of dawn, on the 2nd of Dhi’l-Qádih 1309 A.H. (May 29, 1892), eight hours after sunset, in the 75th year of His age. His spirit, at long last released from the toils of a life crowded with tribulations, had winged its flight to His “other dominions,” dominions “whereon the eyes of the people of names have never fallen,” and to which the “Luminous Maid,” “clad in white,” had bidden Him hasten, as described by Himself in the Lawḥ-i-Ru’yá (Tablet of the Vision), revealed nineteen years previously, on the anniversary of the birth of His Forerunner.

Six days before He passed away He summoned to His presence, as He lay in bed leaning against one of His sons, the entire company of believers, including several pilgrims, who had assembled in the Mansion, for what proved to be their last audience with Him. “I am well pleased with you all,” He gently and affectionately addressed the weeping crowd that gathered about Him. “Ye have rendered many services, and been very assiduous in your labors. Ye have come here every morning and every evening. May God assist you to remain united. May He aid you to exalt the Cause of the Lord of being.” To the women, including members of His own family, gathered at His bedside, He addressed similar words of encouragement, definitely assuring them that in a document entrusted by Him to the Most Great Branch He had commended them all to His care.

The news of His ascension was instantly communicated to Sulṭán ‘Abdu’l-Ḥamíd in a telegram which began with the words “the Sun of Bahá has set” and in which the monarch was advised of the intention of interring the sacred remains within the precincts of the Mansion, an arrangement to which he readily assented. Bahá’u’lláh was accordingly laid to rest in the northernmost room of the house which served as a dwelling-place for His son-in-law, the most northerly of the three houses lying to the west of, and adjacent to, the Mansion. His interment took place shortly after sunset, on the very day of His ascension.

For a full week a vast number of mourners, rich and poor alike, tarried to grieve with the bereaved family, partaking day and night of the food that was lavishly dispensed by its members. Notables, among whom were numbered Shí’ahs, Sunnís, Christians, Jews and Druzes, as well as poets, ‘ulamás and government officials, all joined in lamenting the loss, and in magnifying the virtues and greatness of Bahá’u’lláh, many of them paying to Him their written tributes, in verse and in prose, in both Arabic and Turkish. From cities as far afield as Damascus, Aleppo, Beirut and Cairo similar tributes were received.

The next paragraph illustrates the day when ‘Abdu’l-Bahá was appointed as His successor.

Thus simply and serenely did Bahá’u’lláh pass the evening of His life on earth until, after an attack of fever, He passed away on the 29th of May, 1892, at the age of seventy-five. Among the last Tablets He revealed was His Will and Testament, which He wrote with His own hand and duly signed and sealed. Nine days after His death the seals were broken by His eldest son, in the presence of members of the family and a few friends, and the contents of the short but remarkable document were made known. By this will ‘Abdu’l-Bahá was constituted His father’s representative and the expounder of His teachings, and the family and relatives of Bahá’u’lláh and all believers were instructed to turn to Him and obey Him. By this arrangement sectarianism and division were provided against and the unity of the Cause assured. (Bahá’u’lláh and the New Era p. 286)

Room where Bahá’u’lláh passed away


Naw-Ruz: the Bahá’í New Year!

Fast approaching is a significant day for the Baha’is around the world: the celebration of their new year. Each Baha’i year has 19 months and each month has 19 days. As we wrote before, the days of Ayyám-i-Há are followed by the month of Alá (loftiness) which is the last month of the Baha’i calendar and consist of the 19 days in which Baha’is observe the fast. These days are absolutely wonderful and prepare us for our new year.

This means…today, Baha’is all over the world are fasting (we might have to write about the fast on a different occasion). On the last day of the fast we celebrate the Naw-Ruz which is the first day of the year and thus of the month of Bahá (Splendour).

This new year on March 21st is not only celebrated by Baha’is but by many other groups. It is also the first day of spring in the northern hemisphere.


95 Gems. A new site of Bahá’í jewelry.

We had blogged about this site before in a very vague way.
Let’s start from the beginning…This site came about as an individual initiative after realizing the demand for funky and interestingly designed Bahá’í inspired jewelry. There was a youth conference in Australia and that’s when we realized there was a bit of demand yet to be supplied for.

 

So…95 Gems was born.

I was always drawn to crafts and making my own jewelry from a young age growing up in Latin America. As you can imagine, back in the day, there was very limited or no access to buying Bahá’í rings or Bahá’í pendants around so we either had to wait for someone to travel to the United States or Canada or Europe or Israel to get our hands on some of these pieces or just wait til we went there ourselves. I remember going to the USA as a teen and seeing tables and tables full of Bahá’í jewellery and other crafts and thinking I had never seen so many together!

All this inspired us to launch 95 Gems and create rings, pendants, necklaces and other jewellery while trying to keep their prices as low as possible so they can be purchased by a wider population. We have so far had buyers from Honduras, USA, Canada, European countries, Australia and New Zealand and hope soon we will have more items so suit the taste of friends in Africa, Asia and more Latin American countries.

Please visit our site and send us your thoughts, comments and suggestions.



How to keep calm and show love to others under all circumstances?

Lately I have been faced with some difficulties.
I usually tend to have a very easy and peaceful life thanks to all the wonderful people around me so I am not that used to being in these situations.
It is easy to be happy and show love to everyone around you when life is easy and you don’t have any worries but when the road gets rocky, that is when most of us show our not-so-pleasant side. How do we refrain from hurtful comments and actions we are most likely to regret?
How did the early believers in Baha’u’llah (and for that matter, the early believers in all the previous Dispensations) manage to show love and compassion to everyone despite their attacks and aggression towards them? I cannot begin to imagine the spiritual state in which these blessed souls tread the Earth in order to be able to do this. I turn then to the Baha’i Writings which are the source of joy, happiness and guidance in my life and search for messages that can lead me to love everyone despite what their feelings toward me are.
After some reading, these quotes really stuck with me:

…the oneness of the world of humanity shall be realized, accepted and established. When we reflect upon this blessed principle, it will become evident and manifest that it is the healing remedy for all human conditions. All mankind are the servants of the glorious God, our Creator. He has created all. Assuredly He must have loved them equally; otherwise, He would not have created them. He protects all. Assuredly He loves His creatures; otherwise, He would not protect them. He provides for all, proving His love for all without distinction or preference. He manifests His perfect goodness and loving-kindness toward all. He does not punish us for our sins and shortcomings, and we are all immersed in the ocean of His infinite mercy. Inasmuch as God is clement and loving to His children, lenient and merciful toward our shortcomings, why should we be unkind and unforgiving toward each other? As He loves humanity without distinction or preference, why should we not love all? Can we conceive of a plan and policy superior to the divine purpose? Manifestly, we cannot. Therefore, we must strive to do the will of the glorious Lord and emulate His policy of loving all mankind. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá

Easy then: God=loves us all, I love God, therefore: I love all because I love God.


The concept of God. Baha’i concept of GOD. Who is God?

The following has been extracted directly from http://www.bahai.org
You can read the whole article here.

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The Bahá’í belief in one God means that the universe and all creatures and forces within it have been created by a single supernatural Being. This Being, Whom we call God, has absolute control over His creation (omnipotence) as well as perfect and complete knowledge of it (omniscience). Although we may have different concepts of God’s nature, although we may pray to Him in different languages and call Him by different names–Allah or Yahweh, God or Brahma–nevertheless, we are speaking about the same unique Being.
Bahá’u’lláh taught that God is too great and too subtle a Being for the finite human mind ever to understand Him adequately or to construct an accurate image of Him. He wrote:

How wondrous is the unity of the Living, the Ever-Abiding God–a unity which is exalted above all limitations, that transcendeth the comprehension of all created things…. How lofty hath been His incorruptible Essence, how completely independent of the knowledge of all created things, and how immensely exalted will it remain above the praise of all the inhabitants of the heavens and the earth!

According to Bahá’í teachings, God is so far beyond His creation that, throughout all eternity, human beings will never be able to formulate any clear image of Him or attain to anything but the most remote appreciation of His superior nature. Even if we say that God is the All-Powerful, the All-Loving, the Infinitely Just, such terms are derived from a very limited human experience of power, love, or justice. Indeed, our knowledge of anything is limited to our knowledge of those attributes or qualities perceptible to us.

Thus for human beings the knowledge of God means the knowledge of the attributes and qualities of God, not a direct knowledge of His essence. But how are we to attain the knowledge of the attributes of God? Bahá’u’lláh wrote that everything in creation is God’s handiwork and therefore reflects something of His attributes. For example, even in the intimate structure of a rock or a crystal can be seen the order of God’s creation. However, the more refined the object, the more completely is it capable of reflecting God’s attributes. Since the Messenger of God or Manifestation of God is the highest form of creation known to us, the Manifestation affords the most complete knowledge of God available to us:

Whatever is in the heavens and whatever is on the earth is a direct evidence of the revelation within it of the attributes and names of God, inasmuch as within every atom are enshrined the signs that bear eloquent testimony to the revelation of that Most Great Light…. To a supreme degree is this true of man…. For in him are potentially revealed all the attributes and names of God to a degree that no other created being hath excelled or surpasssed…. And of all men, the most accomplished, the most distinguished, and the most excellent are the Manifestations of the Sun of Truth. Nay, all else besides these Manifestations, live by the operation of their Will, and move and have their being through the outpourings of their grace. -Bahá’u’lláh

Although a rock or a tree reveals something of the subtlety of its Creator, only a conscious being such as man can dramatize God’s attributes in his life and actions. Since the Manifestations are already in a perfected state, it is in their lives that the deeper meaning of God’s attributes can be most perfectly understood. God is not limited by a physical body, and so we cannot see Him directly or observe His personality. Hence our knowledge of the Manifestation is, in fact, the closest we can come to the knowledge of God.

The door of the knowledge of the Ancient Being [God] hath ever been, and will continue to be, closed in the face of men. No man’s understanding shall ever gain access unto His holy court. As a token of His mercy, however, and as a proof of His loving-kindness, He hath manifested unto men the Day Stars of His divine guidance, the Symbols of His divine unity, and hath ordained the knowledge of these sanctified Beings to be identical with the knowledge of His own Self. -Bahá’u’lláh