Oct 19, 2016

The Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Baha – by Amin Banani

The Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Baha are the fruit of more than half a century of prolific labour from His early twenties to the seventy-eighth and final year of His life. Their full volume is as yet unknown; and much remains to be done in gathering, analyzing, and collating His literary legacy.

His Writings consist of personal correspondence, general tablets, tablets on specific themes, books, prayers, poems, public talks, and recorded conversations. Approximately four-fifths of ‘Abdu’l-Baha’s Writings are in Persian; the rest -- with the exception of a very small number of prayers and letters in Turkish -- are in Arabic. ‘Abdu’l-Baha was both fluent and eloquent in these three languages. Transcriptions of His extemporaneous speeches are often indistinguishable from His Writings. In a culture that placed a high premium on rhetoric ‘Abdu’l-Baha was recognized by friend and foe, Arab and Persian, as a paragon of distinctive style and eloquence.

It is the intent of this article to touch upon the character of that style and to present an overview of ‘Abdu’l-Baha’s Writings in various genres and categories. Discussion of the language and style is inherently limited, as it must be attempted across twin barriers of culture and tongue; the attempt at categorization is necessarily arbitrary and is meant to serve only as a catalogue. Obviously any number of criteria, such as chronological, thematic and linguistic, can provide different sets of categories. Furthermore, some works cited as examples of certain categories could easily be put under others.

‘Abdu’l-Baha was, of course, not a prophet and at no time claimed to have received direct revelation from God. But the Centre of the Covenant of Baha’u’llah, and the appointed Interpreter of His Revelation, ‘Abdu’l-Baha, Baha’is believe, was divinely inspired and guided. His Writings, therefore, constitute for the Baha’is at once a part and an interpretation of their Scriptures.

Sep 8, 2016

Education of Children -- an interview with Hand of the Cause Mr. Furutan, April 1953

Question: How can we teach values to children?

Mr. Furutan considered this a very important subject. He clarified the question by saying that this implied how to bring eternal values, not found outside of religion, to children.

"Only teach through parables and stories," he said, "like Jesus Christ." "Those that will reach the mind of the child."

In ‘Some Answered Questions’, ‘Abdu’l-Baha said, ''Wisdom must be limited to the mentality of the hearer." Mr. Furutan also reminded us of the stories in the Bible where Jesus refers to the Kingdom of God as being like a mustard seed, and the enemies of God like dead bodies. With these two He compared the right from the wrong. Mr. Furutan reiterated how Jesus used the language of the farmer and the home. He told us that Jesus used the familiar language.

In teaching these eternal values we must make use of similes that can be comprehended, such as the one of the sun and the manifestation, and the one that the faith of God is like a fountain that cleanses and purifies.

Mr. Furutan told us to recall the story in the Tablet to the Son of the Wolf when Baha'u'llah refers to His own intimations of prophethood and a maiden. How, as He was falling asleep, a feeling rushed over Him like a flood from head to foot similar to a waterfall.

"We must create a new terminology", said the Hand of the Cause." “Anyone with the talent and the time should glean stories for this use from the Holy Books." He has done this in Persia and will send us the books in order that we may translate them. Some of the methods he uses with his classes are: In teaching Bounty and Grace. He asks, "What makes us see?" They answer, "Light." "If you turn off this light can you see? You have your eyes, why then can you not see?" He then tells the students, that in this same manner if God removes His bounty from us, our souls cannot see even though we have physical bodies.

Aug 14, 2016

The Seed Sowing of the Ages - by May Maxwell

Address at the Fifth Session of the Baha’i Congress
Hotel Mealpin, New York City
April 28th, 1919
(Stenographically reported)

Beloved friends: As we have gathered here day by day and night by night in this room in the heart of this great city, we must have all realized that we are in the presence of an extraordinary event, that as the torrents of living water have poured from these great creative Tablets over our souls, we have been submerged in a realm of light and beauty and love which leaves us in great amazement. It may be that the most difficult thing for the soul is to become conscious of the greatness of events with which we are contemporaneous. We look back over the history of the human race and we see how many thousand years ago God made covenant with mankind through Abraham, and in that covenant He promised that the day would come upon this dark world when the seed of Abraham should be as the stars of heaven and the sands of the sea.

When Moses gave the great Tablets to the Israelitish people and they gathered on either side of the mountain and took an oath of allegiance and devotion and love and loyalty to that great covenant of steadfastness and servitude to the people, another great epoch in the seed sowing was unfolded.  When we look back upon such periods in the world we realize their greatness. We understand their sublime significance, and yet we here gathered are living in a period so infinitely greater and more wonderful that we are dazzled by the brightness of the light so that we cannot see. Those Israelitish people fulfilled their covenant and were led away and found the Promised Land of God.

Jun 4, 2016

The White Silk Dress – reflecting on the life of Táhirih (The Pure One) - by Marzieh Gail

The body lies crushed into a well, with rocks over it, somewhere near the center of Tihran. Buildings have gone up around it, and traffic passes along the road near where the garden was. Buses push donkeys to one side, automobiles from across the world graze the camels' packs, carriages rock by. Toward sunset men scoop up water from a stream and fling it into the road to lay the dust. And the body is there, crushed into the ground, and men come and go, and think it is hidden and forgotten.

Beauty in women is a relative thing. Take Layli, for instance, whose lover Majnun had to go away into the desert when she left him, because he could no longer bear the faces of others; whereupon the animals came, and sat around him in a circle, and mourned with him, as any number of poets and painters will tell you - even Layli was not beautiful. Sa'di describes how one of the kings of Arabia reasoned with Majnun in vain, and how finally "It came into the king's heart to look upon the beauty of Layli, that he might see the face that had wrought such ruin. He bade them seek through the tribes of Arabia and they found her and brought her to stand in the courtyard before him. The king looked at her; he saw a woman dark of skin and slight of body, and he thought little of her, for the meanest servant in his harem was fairer than she. Majnun read the king's mind, and he said, 'O king, you must look upon Layli through the eyes of Majnun, till the inner beauty of her may be manifest.’” Beauty depends on the eyes that see it. At all events we know that Tahirih was beautiful according to the thought of her time.

Perhaps she opened her mirror-case one day – the eight-sided case with a lacquer nightingale singing on it to a lacquer rose - and looked inside, and thought how no record of her features had been made to send into the future. She probably knew that age would never scrawl over the face, to cancel the beauty of it, because she was one of those who die young. But perhaps, kneeling on the floor by the long window, her book laid aside, the mirror before her - she thought how her face would vanish, just as Layi's had, and Shirin's, and all the others. So that she slid open her pen-case, and took out the reed pen, and holding the paper in her palm, wrote the brief self-portrait that we have of her: "Small black mole at the edge of the lip - A black lock of hair by either cheek -" she wrote; and the wooden pen creaked as she drove it over the paper.

Apr 20, 2016

The signs in the heavens during the appearance of the Báb and Bahá'u'lláh - by Hand of the Cause William Sears

It is said in Scripture and Tradition that at the time of the birth or announcement of every Messenger of God, a star or a sign appears in the heavens.

Nimrod was warned of the star that told of the coming of Abraham. The soothsayers warned Pharaoh of the star in the heavens that foretold the coming of Moses. The Magi informed Herod of the new star that guided them to the throne of the "spiritual king," Jesus. The same legend is told of Buddha, Zoroaster, Muhammad and Krishna.

What were the signs in the heavens during the appearance of the Báb and Bahá'u'lláh? The holy Scriptures of all faiths had spoken of Twin-Revelations that would appear at the "time of the end." Now that the Báb and Bahá'u'lláh had appeared, fulfilling these prophecies, what were the signs in the heavens?  Signs, not for one, but for two Messengers of God, Who would appear almost simultaneously?

Some of us know the story of the great comet of 1843 which foreshadowed the coming of the Báb.

Sir James Jeans, late British astronomer and mathematician, stated in his book ‘Through Space and Time’, "oddly enough, many of the most conspicuous appearances of comets seem to have coincided with, or perhaps just anticipated, important events in history." [1]

One of the most unique stories of a comet is that told of the period during which the Báb and Bahá'u'lláh were engaging correspondence, and during which the Báb was preparing His followers for the appearance of Bahá'u'lláh. This story was told in the stars as well as on the earth.

Jan 16, 2016

The Greatest Holy Leaf’s unparalleled role in religious history and the significance of the Arc, the site of her resting place – by Baharieh Rouhani Ma’ani

The year 2013 marks the hundredth anniversary of ‘Abdu’l- Bahá’s return to the Holy Land from His historic trip to Egypt and the West. He left Haifa for Egypt in September 1910 and returned there three years later. The person “invested … with the responsibility” to attend “to the multitudinous details arising out of His protracted absence from the Holy Land” (‘BAHÍYYIH KHÁNUM’, A compilation from Bahá'í sacred texts and writings of the Guardian of the Faith and Bahíyyih Khánum's own letters, made by the Research department at the Bahá'í World Centre [henceforth “BK”] p. 39) was His honoured sister, Bahíyyih Khánum, [1] the Greatest Holy Leaf. In the words of Shoghi Effendi: “At the time of His [‘Abdu’l- Bahá’s] absence in the western world, she was His competent deputy, His representative and vicegerent, with none to equal her” (BK 28).

The centenary of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s return to the Holy Land after His protracted absence coincides with the fiftieth anniversary of the establishment of the Universal House of Justice. As we gather to celebrate these landmarks, we take time to ponder upon the life of a most remarkable woman in the history of religion, focus attention on the outstanding services she rendered and on the significance of the site Shoghi Effendi chose for her burial place. It was his choice of a specific spot on Mount Carmel that determined the location of the Arc, around which are built the institutions of the world administrative centre of the Faith, the Seat of the Universal House of Justice occupying its centre top.

The Greatest Holy Leaf

Born in Tihran to Bahá’u’lláh and Ásíyih Khánum in 1846, she was named Fatimih at birth. She was later called Bahíyyih. In a Tablet revealed in her honour, Bahá’u’lláh confirms that she appeared in His name. “Verily she is a leaf that hath sprung from this preexistent Root. She hath revealed herself in My name and tasted of the sweet savours of My holy, My wondrous pleasure” (BK p. v). The full text of Bahá’u’lláh’s original Arabic of the above is inscribed around the circular dome of the Greatest Holy Leaf’s monument on Mount Carmel (Ibid).

Nov 29, 2015

The Meaning of Resurrection – by Hand of the Cause William Sears

What is the meaning of the Resurrection of His Holiness Jesus the Christ? It is written that after three days He rose from the dead. How can this be explained to the logical mind?

Baha'u'llah has also unsealed the meaning of the "resurrection" of Christ and the meaning of "resurrection day". Baha'u'llah pointed out that there was a beautiful, eternal truth hidden in this inward symbol of the Resurrection, but that it had been gravely misunderstood. As a result, it became the cause of disputes between religions, as well as between religion and science. The doctrine of the Resurrection has also been the cause of preventing literal-minded people from accepting the new Messenger of God, Baha'u'llah, in this day.

By clinging to this belief in the bodily resurrection, the eyes of the people have become blinded to the truth. They have deprived themselves of the spiritual resurrection, the very basic purpose of their existence on earth. Such people are truly "dead" in the "graves" of error.

The Teachings of the Baha'i Faith say:

"The resurrections of the [Messengers of God] are not of the body ... Their parables, and Their instructions, have a spiritual and divine signification, and have no connection with material things." [1]

Sep 6, 2015

The God Who walks with men – by Hand of the Cause Horace Holley

From an older day we hear there was a time when God walked with men. That ancient belief is now a faded rose that has lost its glory, but it keeps a precious fragrance which still stirs the heart with wonder and with hope.

God walked with men! The idea seems to change the world from a great, implacable machine into a place of adoration and fulfilled love. It makes us ask, do we live in a universe of mechanical atoms, of strange, perfect stars and suns looking down without feeling or pity upon our griefs and lonely failures, or can we be actually living in the compassionate heart of God?

How could such an exalted idea ever become lost and forgotten? Was it merely a beautiful but empty dream? Or was it a sublime truth we have sold for the price to pay for personal and selfish desires?

This world, we know too well, without a God who walks with men, imprisons us in a vast loneliness where we have to live with our own discontent, our failure, lacking real purpose or aim. It is not enough to become at times part of some officially heralded movement pronounced necessary and noble if the nobility does not penetrate into our own hearts and redeem us from our unsatisfying selves. But the discontent lingers and the hope occasionally returns.

What has happened to human beings that they can be so skillful in doing great things but so helpless when they turn their wonderful powers to the greater task of ordering their own hearts?

May 17, 2015

The Baha'i Concept of God – a talk by Ali-Kuli Khan, 1956

The Baha'i concept of God is that of a Supreme Being - of course, the language of man is inadequate to describe this great reality that we call God. All that we can speak concerning God is of the Manifestations of God's attributes; but as to the inner nature of God, Rumi, the mystic poet of Persia, 800 years ago, said: "How can you, O Philosopher, dare fathom this fathomless ocean? This is a Path that none could travel by meditation or contemplation. Man can no more fathom the essence of that divine Reality than a slip of straw could sink to the depths of the sea."

This shows the impossibility for the mind of man to comprehend the Invisible Essence, as for a wisp of straw to reach the bottom of the sea. Well, then, how are we to recognize and to know God?

The answer is that man can know God only through the Manifestations of His Names end Attributes in this visible world. For example you find the skies and the seas and of the earth, and the passing of the seasons, - phenomena manifesting forth life's various phases. Life finally ends in what seems to be a state of death; and then again, when the first season of the New Year comes around, you see life anew emerging from what appeared to be extinction, manifesting itself anew as does nature pregnant with blossoms, beauty, and delicious fruits.

Apr 29, 2015

The ninth cycle of the Bahá’í calendar and its relationship to the teaching work – by ‘Ali Nakhjavani, former member of the Universal House of Justice

[‘Alí Nakhjavání, now a resident of France, served for 40 years as a member of the Universal House of Justice.]

The letter of the Universal House of Justice dated July 10, 2014, with its attachment about the Bahá’í calendar, was a great surprise to many of the friends in the Bahá’í world. To clarify several technical issues involved and to appreciate the timing and understand the implications of this message, this article is offered to the readership of this eminent journal.

In this epoch-making message that launches a unified Bahá’í calendar, the Universal House of Justice pointed out to us: “The adoption of a new calendar in each dispensation is a symbol of the power of Divine Revelation to reshape human perception of material, social, and spiritual reality. Through it, sacred moments are distinguished, humanity’s place in time and space reimagined, and the rhythm of life recast.” The same message drew attention to the fact that the launching of the new calendar will further “unite” the Bahá’í world.

Why is the Bahá’í calendar associated with a lunar calendar?

The friends in the West had always known, through books such as God Passes By and The Dawn-Breakers, that many Bahá’í historical dates were recorded and mentioned based on the lunar calendar of Islam. They had been also aware that a few Bahá’í anniversaries were being observed in some countries in the East in accordance with the lunar calendar, while the rest adhered to the dates of the solar calendar.

To provide for resolving this disparity, the Bahá’í texts stipulated that the Universal House of Justice had to determine the locality in the world that should be used as the Bahá’í meridian and the manner in which the Bahá’í calendar could be adjusted to enable the Birthdays of Bahá’u’lláh and of the Báb to occur on two consecutive days, as indicated in Bahá’í texts attributed to Bahá’u’lláh Himself.

Apr 26, 2015

Simultaneous Process of Expansion and Consolidation – an explanation by Hand of the Cause 'Amatu'l-Baha Ruhiyyih Khanum

[In 1964 Hand of the Cause 'Amatu'l-Baha Ruhiyyih Khanum spent several months in India and in the nearby countries of Ceylon, Nepal and Sikkim. While in India she participated extensively in the mass teaching program being carried on in the villages in all parts of that land. The following comments written on her return to the Holy Land give much food for thought among all the Baha'is of the world who wish to see their beloved Faith grow and expand among the multitudes not yet touched by the Word of Baha'u'llah.]

The entire Baha'i world is watching the progress being made in India. Her teaching activities and the remarkable rate of increase in the number of believers in that country during the last five years, are the envy and admiration of her sister communities. But I feel a word of advice is in order here. Often, the active workers inside a community, who are bearing the full weight of teaching, administering and supporting it, get the idea that they should slow down on 'expansion' and 'consolidate.' This is a dangerous idea - a very dangerous idea.

It was our beloved Guardian, Shoghi Effendi, who first used these terms; we learned them from him; but he never separated the two things. To him expansion was constant teaching, according to the express command of Baha'u'llah, like an army that is marching to conquer, never losing an advantage, never ceasing to go on. Consolidation is what comes behind the army; the food supply, the education of the conquered people, the establishment of garrisons. It would be a sorry army indeed that sat down to enjoy the luxuries of inaction when it had the advantage! There are other armies on the march in these days, ominous, terrible, destructive armies, not only physical ones (perhaps the least dangerous of all) but ideological ones; materialism is on the march at a terrifying rate, godlessness is advancing with frightening swiftness, inadequate political ideologies, whether from the East or from the West, are seeking to conquer the minds of men.

Apr 12, 2015

The Passing of ‘Abdu’l-Baha – from a letter by Emogene Hoagg to Nellie French dated January 2, 1922

[Emogene Hoagg was an early believer who made her way from Italy to Haifa soon after she received a cable announcement of the ascension of ‘Abdu’l-Baha. For a very brief account of her life please visit We are Baha’is]

Haifa, Palestine
2nd January 1922

My dearest Nelly:

Your letter of December 14th has just reached me here in this blessed spot. Needless to say why I am here, for you will have realized that no other thought could have possessed me after getting the cable of the ascension of our beloved Master.

As you said you felt, I also felt. The world seemed to have lost its axis, and I seemed to be living without a support. I had planned to go to Genoa, but had no heart nor strength to continue the work at that time. I left Torino, from where I wrote you, returned to Milano and took the first steamer from Trieste which was on December 16th. The trip was a calm one and I arrived here on the 21st.

You may imagine the grief of the Holy Family. All was so sudden, so unexpected, that the shock to them as well as to all the friends was extreme. For the first week after getting here I had no head to use for anything, but since then have been very busy helping in the translation of some important Tablets. This has left no time for letter writing, which accounts for your not hearing from me before, as well as other friends whom I am sure are anxious for details. There is so much to tell it would take days to write it all, but later a full account is to be sent to all. Lady Bloomfield is here and is now compiling an accurate account of the few days prior to the Beloved's departure, of the cortege up the mountain to the Tomb of the Bab, and the fifth, ninth and fortieth days after the ascension.

Apr 7, 2015

Interview of Sachiro Fujita, - by Sylvia Ioas, 1975

Fujita 1971
Note: Sachiro Fujita was born in Yanai, Japan, April 15, 1886, and died in Haifa May 7, 1976. He is buried at the Bahá'í cemetery at the foot of Mt. Carmel. The following is inscribed atop his grave (from a photo taken by Robert Stauffer in 1978):

"Thou wilt render a great service and this will become the cause of thy everlasting glory."
— 'Abdu'l-Bahá

Mount Carmel, November 24th, 1965

Would you like to know something about my life? I, I left Japan 1903, and, ah, landed in San Francisco November 9th, 1903, and, ah, remained in San Francisco about a year. Then I happened to meet Mrs. Kathryn Frankland in Oakland. There I received Message, Bahá'í Message.

("You were how old?")

Fujita 1928
About 17. In Oakland about 5 years. I finished my, ah, high school in California, then I went from there to Cleveland, Ohio. From there I, ah, wish to attend, ah, University of Michigan, but, ah, 1912, 'Abdu'l-Bahá came to United States. From, uh, then I went to Chicago to meet Him. That's when really my Bahá'í, ah, life began.

I was in Cleveland, Ohio, there was a Bahá'í, Doctor Barton-Peek. She informed me 'Abdu'l-Bahá in Cleveland, and I was away. I didn't get the message the next morning. Then, immediately, I went Doctor Barton-Peek's office. I ask, message just received, I can call or not. She says, "Well, too bad that `Abdu'l-Bahá just left." I says, "Well, I'm very sorry I was away, I couldn't meet Him. When can I make contact with 'Abdu'l-Bahá?" Says, "The best thing is you can wire to Mr. Windust in Chicago, maybe he will tell you just when to come to Chicago." So immediately, I wired to Mr. Windust, he says he's waiting for any time for arrival of 'Abdu'l-Bahá. So, I took opportunity, I went to Chicago.

About 8 o'clock in the evening He arrive in Chicago. He was very nice. At the front of LaSalle Station, embrace me, "My Japanese." And then, He says, "You follow Me." He is going to, ah, Mrs. True's home. He give a lecture. We had a wonderful time in Mrs. True's home. From there to Kenosha, I went Kenosha, you know? There's some Bahá'í there. `Abdu'l-Bahá spend overnight. That's where 'Abdu'l-Bahá asked me to join His party to go to California.

Apr 4, 2015

Teaching the Cause of God: A Two-Edged Sword – by Ali Nakhjavani

In one of his letters Shoghí Effendí has explained to us that one of the distinctive features of our Faith is that we cannot separate the spiritual life of the individual from the spiritual life of the community. Mutual reactions exist between the two. Under the influence of the divine teachings, the hearts of the individual believers bring into being and shape the community. In turn, the community provides an atmosphere where the individual believers develop and grow spiritually. Our teachings are designed so that the spiritual life of the individual Bahá’í, and the collective life of the community, complement each other. Let us look at some examples:
  • Bahá’u’lláh calls on Bahá’ís to observe individual obligatory prayers, but at the same time He ordains that Houses of Worship for community prayers be established.
  • We see that Bahá’u’lláh calls on parents to be the first educators of their children, but at the same time He anticipates that every local Bahá’í House of Worship will have a school, and He praises the work of teachers.
  • He calls on the individual believer to teach His Cause and protect Its interests, but simultaneously Bahá’í institutions are given parallel assignments to provide for the teaching and protection of His Faith.
In the messages of the Universal House of Justice we read that the time has come for all Bahá’í communities to develop with greater confidence and self-reliance a culture of thinking which is fundamentally different from the community activities of other religions. Unlike other religions, there is no professional clergy in the Faith to lead the community. Leadership and authority are vested in elected institutions. Thus leadership is self-generated and home-grown through democratic methods, and every individual member of the community should be concerned with its welfare and healthy growth.

Mar 8, 2015

The Prayers of Baha’u’llah – by Ruhiyyih Khanum

Not the least of the treasures which Baha'u'llah has given to the world is the wealth of His prayers and meditations. He not only revealed them for specific purposes, such as the Daily Prayers, the prayers for Healing, for the Fast, for the Dead, and so on, but in them He revealed a great deal of Himself to us. At moments it is as if, in some verse or line, we are admitted into His Own heart, with all its turbulent emotions, or catch a glimpse of the workings of a mind as great and deep as an ocean, which we can never fathom, but which never ceases to enrapture and astonish us.

If one could be so presumptuous as to try and comment on a subject so vast and which, ultimately, is far beyond the capacity of any merely mortal mind to analyse or classify, one might say that one of His masterpieces is the long prayer for the Nineteen Day Fast. I do not know if He revealed it at dawn, but He had, evidently, a deep association with that hour of the day when the life of the world is re-poured into it. How could He not have? Was He not the Hermit of Sar-Galú, where He spent many months in a lonely stone hut perched on a hilltop; the sunrise must have often found Him waiting and watching for its coming, His voice rising and falling in the melodious chants of His supplications and compositions. At how many dawns He must have heard the birds of the wilderness wake and cry out when the first rays of the sun flowed over the horizon and witnessed in all its splendor the coming alive of creation after the night.

In this prayer it is as if the worshipper approaches the sun while the sun is approaching its daybreak. When one remembers that the sun, the life giver of the earth, has ever been associated with the God-Power, and that Baha'u'llah has always used it in His metaphors to symbolize the Prophet, the prayer takes on a mystical significance that delights and inspires the soul. Turning to the budding day He opens His supplication:

Feb 15, 2015

Shoghi Effendi: A uniquely significant figure of the twentieth century – by the 1997 editors of “World Order” Baha’i magazine

[The 1997 editors of World Order magazine were Firuz Kazemzadeh, Betty Fisher, Howard Garey, Robert Stockman, and James Stroke]

Shoghi Effendi, who was born a hundred years ago [as of 1997] in Ottoman Palestine, became a uniquely significant figure of the twentieth century. But his intrinsic importance to the history of the period is as yet generally unrecognized outside the Baha’i community. Through prodigious activity as Guardian of the Baha’i Faith, he carried out his designated responsibility as interpreter, both in literary and practical terms, of the vision of world unity advanced by Baha’u’llah, founder of the Baha'i Faith. The principal effect of Shoghi Effendi's thirty-six-year ministry as the Guardian of the Faith was to create an incomparably diverse but united global community in a remarkably short time. The potential of this community is to become a pattern for future society. Anyone acquainted with its workings will be impressed by the spirit that induces its coherence. As it expands and develops along the lines indicated by Shoghi Effendi, there emerges compelling evidence that the efficacy of his guidance is destined to obtain wide notice and, inevitably, to influence the shaping of a millennium.

No celebration will mark the centennial of Shoghi Effendi's birth: this absence of a memorial ceremony is out of respect for his clear instruction against the commemoration of any event associated with his life. Yet remembrance of his monumental achievements is irrepressible and begs for expression at every opportunity. This anniversary is a welcome occasion, then, to reflect on the nature of his work and the relevance of his thought to contemporary concerns about the state and direction of human society, especially as the century about which he offered such illuminating and proven analyses draws to a close. The sheer volume and efficiency of his output in any one of his vocations as exegete, author, translator, administrator, commentator on world trends, master planner, organizer of global undertakings, aesthete was astounding. But it was the distinction of his inspired insight that lent a singular quality to his varied occupations and that remains as a unique and potent legacy.

Dec 9, 2014

The Descent of the New Jerusalem – by Hand of the Cause George Townshend

Unnoticed by the great world, unfeared  as yet by the forces of Evil that now hold revel on the earth, the cause of Baha'u'llah  — of God in His Glory made manifest among men — confident, resplendent and irresistible, lifts its young strength amid the wrecks and ruins of an outworn and dissolving civilization.

Neither today nor at any period throughout the past has God left His people bereft of comfort or deprived of guidance. Age after age without intermission He has sent His Messengers to renew the glad tidings of the nearness and the love of God and to give to the people the help and the counsel of which they stood in need. The gates of His mercy have never been closed, and His grace has been poured down upon mankind continuously.

But the present age stands alone in the richness and in the splendor of the gifts that have been bestowed upon it. The sum of all the bounties of the past will not equal in glory the bounty which is lavished upon this dawning Dispensation. Never before has the Word of God sounded so full and clear. Never before has Revelation been so copious, or so comprehensive. Never before have all the predictions of the Scriptures concerning God's greatest advent been fulfilled in their completeness. Never has the power of the Most High been asserted with such prevailing force. And though all the High Prophets since the world began have promised that one day God's will would reign victorious over a regenerated and beatified earth, no Messenger before Baha'u'llah ever proclaimed that God's victory had been won or that the Golden Age had dawned.

Nov 29, 2014

The Synopsis and Codification of the Kitab-i-Aqdas – a talk by Ali Nakhjavani, Amherst, Massachusetts, USA, 1973

The Synopsis and Codification of the Kitab-i-Aqdas, which the House of Justice has just published, was one of the goals of the Nine Year Plan, and this goal was carried over from the Ten Year Crusade of the beloved Guardian.

The book itself consists of four main divisions. In addition to the preface, there is an introduction written by the House of Justice which I consider to be extremely important, and I think that it should be the subject of a study by the friends. Then we have passages from the Kitab-i-Aqdas translated by Shoghi Effendi. No translations were included in this section by other translators, including the House of Justice itself, which has during the past years translated certain passages from the Aqdas and made them available to the friends. This section comprises only those passages that were translated by the Guardian at different times during his ministry. The next section is the synopsis and codification itself. Then there is a fourth section consisting of notes. These notes were written by the House of Justice; they were not originally envisaged in the original goals, and they have been given to the friends as an additional bonus. The House felt that these notes would be of interest to the friends and would help to clarify certain of the laws and ordinances of the Kitab-i-Aqdas.

Now, what the Book is not is a codification of [all] the Laws of Baha'u'llah. That will have to come later. What this book is, is exactly what its title states: A Synopsis and Codification of the Kitab-i-Aqdas, the Most Holy Book of Baha'u'llah. In other words, it is a codification of the contents of one Book, not of the entire subject of Baha'i laws. These are two different things -- not the same. The time will come when we will have, I am sure, a codification of [all] the laws of Baha'u'llah -- the Laws of the Baha'i Faith. That is not what is here before us.

The way the Guardian had envisaged this was to present this to the friends in the West in a gradual way, and this is how it has been done. Just to give you an idea of what the codification of the laws would involve: the Kitab-i-Aqdas will have questions and answers, and, as it happens, the questions and answers have also been added in this book [not in the same format as in the 1993 edition of the Kitab-i-Aqdas, but more like notes regarding certain of the laws]. But it is not in the title. It will have to include the Kitab-i-Aqdas; the Questions and Answers; the Tablets of Baha'u'llah -- Himself elucidating certain laws -- questions that have been put to Him; Tablets of Baha'u'llah revealing subsidiary laws and ordinances to supplement the original laws; interpretations of 'Abdu'l-Baha; interpretations by Shoghi Effendi; and, any additional explanations and annotations that would be required to make the picture complete by giving background information about certain laws that relate, say, to previous Dispensations. That bigger subject requires a lot of work and research which was not envisaged from the very beginning by the Guardian, nor was it envisaged by the House of Justice when it gave it in the Nine Year Plan -- this goal of publishing the Synopsis and Codification.

Oct 26, 2014

Commentary on the Kitab-i-Aqdas -- a talk by Hand of the Cause Abu'l-Qasim Faizi, 1973

Dear friends of the United States of America. Your National Assembly has given me a special honor and privilege to talk to you about the Mother Book of the Bahá'í Faith, the Kitáb-i-Aqdas. I first give you the outline of this page with the hope that you will follow the subject matter one by one, and I pray that it will be well received by all the dear ones in that vast country.

First, the order in Bahá'u'lláh's life and His writings. Second, the revelation of the Book of Aqdas, where, in what year, how long. Third, the two gifts given to mankind through the Book of Aqdas. Fourth, this book is a gate through which mankind enters the age of maturity. There are many reasons for these, but three will be given here. Fifth, is the last one, and most important one. What is it, what exists in this Book which makes it the Mother Book of our Faith and this Dispensation?

Now we will start one by one, and before I start I pray to God that He will confirm me and strengthen me to do justice to this great subject.

Simplicity is the basis and order of Bahá'u'lláh's life. It rules throughout His ways and manners of living, including garments, residence, furniture, His approach to His friends and followers, and as a matter of fact, to all the people of the world. The same order applies to His Writings. All are easy to read, to follow and understand. Almost every Tablet starts with the praise of God, and immediately after that, He starts to answer questions put to Him by the believers. His answers are always direct, frank, to the point, and concise. There are, however, some exceptions to this rule and there are obvious reasons for such exceptional cases. I mention three of these exceptions.

The first is the Tablet to the King of Persia, Násiri'd-Dín Sháh. The language is very exalted and in some parts the vocabulary is very powerful and difficult to understand. The reason is this, that the King had been surrounded by the divines, who always boasted of their knowledge of the Arabic language. Bahá'u'lláh, Who had never been to their schools, by using elaborate words and perfect melodious sentences desired to awaken and address the King and his entourage to the source of His revelation, the greatness of His Cause, and the exceptional power with which He had been endowed. When the King received this Tablet, he sent it to the divines of his country and asked them to compose a suitable answer, but none dared to even a sentence which could be compared with the perfection of words, style and melody used by Bahá'u'lláh in that great Tablet.