[‘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.