December 15, 2010

Quddus, Companion of the Bab – by Harriet Pettibone

He was named Muhammad-'Ali. He was born in the town of Barfurush in the province of Mazindaran in [northern] Persia. His mother died when he was very young. Through her he was a direct descendant of the Imam Hasan, the grandson the Prophet Muhammad. His step-mother loved him devotedly, as did everyone who knew him. When quite young he was sent to school in Mashhad and at eighteen, he had travelled all the way to Karbila, in 'Iraq, where attended the classes of the great religious teacher Siyyid Kazim [a forerunner of the Bab].

Siyyid Kazim's teachings were original and revolutionary. He was preparing his students for a Great One who was to come. In Siyyid Kazim’s classes Muhammad-'Ali appeared to be very young and very humble but Siyyid Kazim recognized his great spiritual potentialities and considered him one of his ablest pupils. At the end of his life Siyyid Kazim advised all of his followers to "quit their homes, scatter far and wide, purge their hearts of every idle desire and dedicate themselves to the quest of Him to whose advent he had so often alluded." He told them that the object of their quest was now revealed. ."The veils that intervene between you and Him are such as only you can remove by your devoted search. Nothing short of prayerful endeavour, of purity of motive, of singleness of mind, will enable you to tear them asunder. Has not God revealed in His Book: 'Whoso maketh efforts for Us, in Our ways will We guide them?'”

December 8, 2010

Satisfactory proof that Bahá'u'lláh is not a false prophet –- by Hand of the Cause William Sears

Every Prophet has been called false by his own generation. This was true of Jesus. He was considered a "false prophet."

"And there was much murmuring among the people concerning him: for some said he is a good man; others said, Nay; but he deceiveth the people." [John 7:2]

A famous philosopher named Celsus in the second century compiled an entire volume filled with terrible libels about Christ and His followers. Porphyry, one of the greatest of the Platonic philosophers, wrote a large book against Christ and the Christians, quoting the many abusive attacks against Jesus which were prevalent among the leaders and the masses. The book was later burned by order of Sydocius and Dovalantius, two Christian emperors, who after the passing of time lauded and defended Christ Whom the people of that same land had once called false and had despised.

James Murdock in his History of the Church quotes one of the great scholar-emperors of Rome, Marc Antony, as saying, "You should not ask concerning Jesus of Nazareth from these poor Romans, none of whom has seen him, but whom baseness and indolence have caused to follow him." He called them unimportant people, slaves, men and women without praiseworthy qualities. The emperor Julian, who denied his faith in Christ, said the Christians were the "enemies of the world of humanity."

November 24, 2010

Message from the Hands of the Cause Residing in the Holy Land to the Believers of East and West –- issued six months before the first election of the Universal House of Justice in 1963

Dearly beloved Friends:

Upon the horizon of the Baha’i World the splendorous light of the Most Great Jubilee is daily brightening. Six months stand between us and that occasion our beloved Guardian informed us would witness "the world-wide celebrations of the 'Most Great Festival,' the 'King of Festivals,' the 'Festival of God' Himself -- the Festival associated with the accession of Him Who is the Lord of the Kingdom to the throne of everlasting glory, and with the formal assumption by Him of His prophetic office . . . that greatest of all Jubilees, related to the year 1335, mentioned by Daniel in the last chapter of his book, and associated by 'Abdu'l-Baha with the world triumph of His Father's Faith." That time at which, the Master assured us, "a century will have elapsed from the dawn of the Sun of Truth, then will the teachings of God be firmly established upon the earth, and the Divine Light shall flood the world from the East unto the West. Then, on this day, will the faithful rejoice!"

It behooves us, standing on the threshold of so mighty an event, to pause and contemplate its magnitude and to renew in our hearts the image of that "adorable and ever-blessed Beauty," the Supreme Manifestation of God. His own Words alone can adequately reveal the glory of His Station and the significance of this Day:

November 18, 2010

The World Center of the Faith: Its Supreme Administrative Importance -- Address of Hand of the Cause Paul Haney on April 30, 1963 at the World Congress in London, England

In many of his glorious messages to the Baha'i world the beloved Guardian described for us the twin spiritual and administrative World Centers existing and fixed permanently in the Holy Land, "constituting the midmost heart of the entire planet," the source of spiritual power and the object of adoration of all Baha'is. He also drew for us a clear and inspiring picture of those sacred and divinely-ordained institutions which comprise the heart and the nerve center of our Faith in the twin holy cities of 'Akka and Haifa.
Our Guardian explained to us that there are three divinely revealed charters which have set in motion three distinct processes in the unfoldment of the World Order of Baha'u'llah.

(1) The Tablet of Carmel, revealed by Baha'u'llah Himself, which is the charter for the development of the institutions of the Faith at its World Center, including the establishment of the supreme edifice of the Universal House of Justice.

(2) The Will and Testament of 'Abdu'l-Baha, the charter for the establishment of the Administrative Order throughout the world; and --

(3) The Tablets of the Divine Plan, constituting the charter for the propagation of the Faith and the spiritual conquest of the planet.

November 7, 2010

Evolution of the Baha’i Community -- by Emeric Sala

[Emeric and his wife, Rosemary, were elected to the first National Spiritual Assembly of Canada in 1948, and they continued to serve with distinction until 1953. That year they responded to the Guardian’s call for pioneers at the beginning of the Ten Year Crusade] (The Baha’i World 1986-1992)

Looking at the scene of Baha'i endeavor from the southern tip of Africa, it seems to me that the Baha'i Faith is going through a period of transition from a father-centered community to an assembly-centered community. It is an historic moment. It is also the period when personality-centered believers are transformed or replaced by idea-centered believers.

Father- or hero-centeredness is the inevitable process of growth for every adolescent and for every evolving community until maturity is reached. The Christian community was essentially father-centered around the personality of Jesus Christ. The minister of many a Christian community is still addressed as father. Kings and saints often filled the need of a father image. If we go back to an earlier age we find the patriarchal society as the established pattern. Among the Bantus even today the proper way to address an older man is baba, which means father.

For the last six thousand years leadership meant individual personal impact. Until recently it was assumed that leadership, and for that matter any accomplishment requiring skill and knowledge, let alone judgment, could come only from the individual. An organization, we assumed, could perform only simple, repetitive, regimented work.

October 29, 2010

Tribute to Shoghi Effendi – by Hand of the Cause Ruhiyyih Khanum, at Kampala Intercontinental Conference, January 26, 1958

Everybody who had the great privilege of knowing the Guardian recognized in him tremendous power; he not only had great spiritual and mental power which radiated from him, he had an electric something in his nature which was like being in the presence of a very powerful dynamo. I have been in electric plants where dynamos have generated electrical power for a whole city; the whole building shook and vibrated with the force that was being created in those generators. I have witnessed, myself, for twenty years, the strange force which emanated from Shoghi Effendi. This emanation from the Guardian was so strong that when he was not in the house, I felt less of it; when he was up on the mountain in the gardens of the Shrine, I would feel the force of it diminish; when he was in Bahji, I would feel still less of it; and if we were not in the same city, I would not feel it. It was a very extraordinary thing, and it was not my imagination.

Another thing about the Guardian, which I have sometimes wondered if those who were not closely associated with him ever realized, is that Shoghi Effendi was a very sensitive person. He was sensitive as a child. He was one of those children that, I believe in my long observation, should have always received encouragement. You know, there are children who don't need it; they are tough little plants. But there are other children who need to be told for everything they do, "My dear, you were sweet to think of it," "You are a wonderful person," "That was a wonderful idea," "How well you did it." The Guardian was like that -- he needed, not to mention what he deserved, to always be encouraged.

October 19, 2010

The Life of Baha’u’llah -- by Jinab-i-Fadil

[Please visit the Baha’i Heroes and Heroines for a brief write-up about Jinab-i-Fadil]

The province of Mazindaran in northern Persia, has played a most distinguished part in the history of that country. Reaching to the Caspian Sea, it is covered, in its northern portion, by a great forest of primeval trees where many nightingales sing their sweetest melodies, and thousands of varieties of fragrant flowers bloom in profusion. In the south are high mountains, upon whose peaks the snow never melts. This mountainous district, now the summer resort of the citizens of Tihran was in ancient times a place of retirement for the "herbod," the mystics and holy people. Here they went for meditation and prayer.

There are many legends regarding the province. It was said that here there would grow a celestial tree, with branches reaching to heaven. The fruit of this tree would be for the life of the nations. Many people traveled to this region hoping to find the wonderful tree. Another legend was that the king of war and hatred had been imprisoned in one of these high mountains. These stories were, of course, parables, describing in symbolic language the coming of the Universal Manifestation of God, whose teachings would encompass the earth and bring peace to all mankind.

In Nur, one of the districts of Mazindaran, dwelt the ancestors of Baha'u'llah. A manuscript has been found, giving his genealogy which goes back more than 1300 years, to the kings of ancient Persia. These ancestors were people of illumined mind, of great wealth and distinction. So preeminent were they among the people that they were regarded as a superior order of beings. They possessed immense estates and many cattle, and built for themselves a great palace on the side of the mountain where the magnificent view took in valley and river. In this palace they entertained in princely fashion their summer guests.

October 15, 2010

A Symbol of Victory -- excerpts from Address by 'Amatu'l-Baha Ruhiyyih Khanurn at the World Congress, May 2, 1963

Now we come to our beloved Guardian's grave and his passing. I don't want to go into detail about that because it will shatter me and I really can't bear thinking about it at this moment. But after I had gone out and visited his grave the day after his funeral, as I drove away -- it was very strange because I had no mind left, or anything at that point -- I saw before me in my mind's eye a column, and a globe, and an eagle, and the steps underneath it --the whole thing. And when I went back to Haifa and the Hands of the Cause met in such tragic circumstances with such broken hearts, in the Mansion of Baha'u'llah in Bahji, I showed them a little sketch and they were happy with it and approved, and that was what we built over Shoghi Effendi's resting-place.

Shoghi Effendi always wanted a column. And, well, he got it, evidently. But every time he saw a beautiful column: -- you know, Rome has very beautiful columns; sometimes when we passed through Rome in the old days, before there were so many Baha'is there, he used to look, and he would say, "You know, I think these columns are so beautiful. Where can I put a column on Mount Carmel?" "Well," I said, "Shoghi Effendi, I don't think you can, because you can't just stick a column up like that, you know; where would you put it?" And, well, that was that. But he didn't have a column, and he wanted one. And then he liked the Corinthian style very much. And so I think that perhaps influenced my thought that we should have a column, because he always wanted a column so much. And in the end he got one.

October 14, 2010

Sowing the Seeds -- excerpts from Address by Hand of the Cause Abu'l-Qasim Faizi at the Closing Session of the World Congress, May 2, 1963

Our thanks and gratitude to the pioneers, the national assemblies and the friends who made all these victories possible. I am sure that the pioneers who stand at their posts know the greatness of today. . . . Let us not leave all these opportunities which Baha'u'llah has left for us. Let us value and know the greatness of teaching. . . .

About a year ago I started on a world tour. Before going I was very much afraid of taking this responsibility, but one of the friends said, "Go to Latin America and just love them." . . . There was one question which was repeatedly asked me. I want to repeat it here, and the answer that I gave. In many places the friends -- having heard the news of India, of Africa, of Indonesia, of all parts of the world -- were really getting discouraged and saying, "What is wrong with us? We have been living here five years and there are only ten Baha'is. Is our method wrong? Aren't we as spiritual as those people of India? Is there anything wrong with us?"

I want to assure everybody that there is nothing wrong with the pioneers, nothing wrong with the method of their teaching, but there is this little misunderstanding. They think that India got all these results only this year -- or Africa, or Indonesia. No, beloved friends, this is the work of at least ninety years of struggle. Baha'u'llah Himself sent Jamal Effendi, who went to all the provinces of India and spoke about the Cause, and returned to Baha'u'llah apparently empty-handed. Baha'u'llah told him to go back, sow the seed -- "This is your function." The next time Jamall Effendi went to India he went to all the provinces, went to Burma, to Singapore, to Java, to the Philippines, and to some of the islands of the Pacific; and this teacher of the Cause, the most capable, died without having seen a single result of his activity.

August 21, 2010

Twenty-five Years of the Guardianship – by Ruhiyyih Khanum, 1946

Twenty-five years ago the Baha'i world was shaken by a great earthquake, 'Abdu'l-Baha, the Center of the Covenant, the greatest Mystery of God, had suddenly passed away, with no premonitory illness to prepare his friends and followers for this tragic shock. Stunned, the Baha'is of East and West tried to rally their faculties. We knew great tasks lay ahead of us; we believed in this new Faith and in its Manifestation and in the World Order that He had come to establish, but we felt terribly alone and the responsibility for the future lay heavily upon our already grief-filled hearts. Where was the shepherd? The familiar voice, that had spoken with an authority vested in it by the Prophet of God Himself, was stilled. We had the teachings; like a wonderful laboratory, equipped for every purpose, they were there -- our priceless treasure. But where was the alchemist who transmuted base metals into gold? Where was the listener who answered our questions and guided us in the use of all that great laboratory possessed?

Then came the reading of the Master's Will, and with an infinite sense of relief we realized that, though the seas of tribulation and separation had risen about us, 'Abdu'l-Baha had not left us alone, He had given us the mighty Ark of His own Covenant which we could enter into in peace secure. With what grateful hearts we turned to the youthful figure that had suddenly been revealed to us in that Will as our priceless legacy, described by 'Abdu'l-Baha as the fruit of the Twin Lote Trees, the pearl of the Twin Surging Seas, this new creation, vested with a unique function, the hereditary office of Interpreter and Protector of the Faith and life-head of the International House of Justice.

July 30, 2010

The Races of Men - Many or One? –- by Louis G. Gregory, published 1929

(For a brief write-up about Louis Gregory please visit Baha'i Heroes and Heroines)

The world today is making many discoveries in the realm of phenomena. The greatest of these concerns man himself, the laws which relate to his being and those which govern his relations with his fellow beings. Although many glooms and shadows still sway the minds of men, yet two great lights are shining with increasing splendor. One is science and the other religion. Through these luminous orbs men are coming to know each other much better than in past ages.

A century or more ago men with few exceptions accepted the dogma of eternal division and separation between various human stocks, which were regarded as distinct human species. This gave to any one of them the right by virtue of its material might to claim a station of inherent superiority conferred by Divine Power.

A few men of genius saw differently. One of these rare souls was Thomas Jefferson, author of the Declaration of Independence. It is altogether remarkable that writing at a time when special privilege was enthroned and human slavery was sanctioned by the laws of all lands, he should have declared it to be self-evident that all men were created free and equal. Was this statement an accident? Was it not his intention to imply that all white men were created equal? No, that the great principle declared by the American Commoner was not on his part fortuitous is indicated by a further statement as well as by his personal attitude toward Benjamin Banneker, the Negro astronomer, who was his contemporary and by him was appointed as one of the surveyors of the site of the city of Washington. Writing about this colored scientist to one of his foreign friends, President Jefferson said:

July 16, 2010

The Role of Women – by Hand of the Cause Ruhiyyih Khanum

A talk given at Women’s Teacher Training College, Tamale, Ghana, 15 February, 1971

I am very honoured to be here. This is an unexpected pleasure. I didn't know that I was going to have the honour of addressing the girls in this school, and I can't think of any audience that I would rather speak to than young people, and especially young women, and I am very grateful for this opportunity.

The role of women is something that is very important in the Baha'i Faith and it is a subject that interests me very much. We say nowadays that men and women should be equal, and in the Baha'i Faith we say that humanity is like a bird, that a bird flies with two wings, one wing is men and one wing women. If the two wings don't fly evenly together, the bird cannot soar, it cannot go high in the sky. So we attach the greatest importance to women having an equal position in society with men.

Now an equal position does not necessarily mean that they have to do the same things. You know, I come from the United States and Canada and in our part of the world we have the idea that anything that a man does, a woman can do. If a man is going to drive a truck, a woman can drive a truck; if a man is going to be President of the United States, the woman says: why shouldn't I be President? Every single thing that a man does nowadays, a woman wants to do too. Well, all right, if a woman like Indira Gandhi is the Prime Minister of a great country like India, or like Golda Meir of Israel - whom I have met and who is a wonderful woman, a very distinguished woman – that’s fine, but it doesn’t mean every single one of us has to be a Prime Minister or has to be a truck driver or has to be a President! Equality is not in doing exactly what your husband does, equality is that your husband should consider that you are a human being with exactly the same rights that he has, this is real equality. And women have a part to play in society that we Baha'is believe is perhaps more important than men's, and in a moment I will tell you what that is.

July 12, 2010

Hidden Words of Baha’u’llah – A Reflection, by George Townshend

Here the world's religions meet and are fused into one by the fire of a great love. "This is that which hath descended from the realm of glory, uttered by the tongue of power and might, and revealed unto the prophets of old. We have taken the inner essence thereof and clothed it in the garment of brevity,"

In an age of compendiums there is no other compendium such as this. No other pen has attempted to make a summary which shall be so concise and so complete as to contain in less than eight score brief Words of Counsel the vital substance of the world-religions. In the newly printed version of Shoghi Effendi, the "Hidden Words" makes a small pocket volume of fifty-five pages.

Yet for all its terseness it bears none of the marks of a digest or an abstract. It has the sweep, the force, the freshness of an original work. It is rich with imagery, laden with thought, throbbing with emotion. Even at the remove of a translation one feels the strength and majesty of the style and marvels at the character of a writing which combines so warm and tender a loving kindness with such dignity and elevation.

The teaching of the book throughout is borne up as if on wings by the most intense and steadfast spirituality. With the first utterance the reader is caught away to the heavenly places, and the vision is not obscured when the precepts given deal with the details of workaday life, with the duty of following a craft or a profession and of earning a livelihood to spend on one's kindred for the love of God. The picture given of man and of human nature is noble and exalted. If he be in appearance a "pillar of dust," a "fleeting shadow", yet he is in his true being a "child of the divine, and invisible essence," a "companion of God's Throne." The created worlds are designed for his training. The purpose of all religious teaching is to make him worthy of the love of God and able to receive his bounties.

June 15, 2010

The Servant of God -- An address by Albert Vail, April 30th, 1919

Delivered at the Ninth Session of the Baha’i Congress, held in Hotel McAlpin, New York City, Wednesday evening, April 30th, 1919. Stenographically reported.

“The doors of the Kingdom are open; the Sun of Truth is shining upon the world; the daysprings of mercy have appeared." What does this mean? Evidently it means that this little world in which we live, in the sight of God is like a tiny ball floating in a universe of infinitely wonderful light. In the sight of God, this handful of dust, the world, is but one home and all the prayer of the eternal world is that this world may be in unity. Now when the darkness and the storm spread over the earth, it seems very dark to us who are underneath the clouds. But if we can rise a little in the altitude of the spirit and see the Sun of Truth eternally shining from the heaven of God's presence, no cloud which ever came over the world would be more than a temporary passing mist.

The God who made this little world also made all the heavenly and divine worlds. He evidently has a clear purpose for this world on which we dwell, and that purpose is that, after the thousands of years of war, it should enter into a millennium of peace. The world could have no other meaning than that this strife and confusion would at last prepare the hearts of men for the sweetness of the kingdom of universal peace.

Now, when the King begins to send His light into the world the people catch only a few rays of the dawning Sun of Reality as it rises over the horizon of man's limitation and breaks through the clouds of his suspicion, his ignorance and his prejudice. The first few rays in this new day, are the desire for a League of Nations, the longing for democracy; the prayer for woman's suffrage, for equality between men and women, the longing for universal education, for science, for civilization, for new arts, that great yearning that touches the hearts of all men all over the world and, stirring in their hearts, tells them that the new day is here, the divine world is breaking into the human world.

June 4, 2010

The Mission of the Bab: Retrospective, 1844-1994 – by Douglas Martin

(Some relics of the Bab can be seen at:

The year 1994 marked the 150th anniversary of the declaration of His mission by the Bab (Siyyid 'Ali-Muhammad, 1819-1850), one of the two Founders of the Baha’i Faith. The moment invites an attempt to gain an overview of the extraordinary historical consequences that have flowed from an event little noticed at the time outside the confines of the remote and decadent society within which it occurred.

The first half of the nineteenth century was a period of messianic expectation in the Islamic world, as was the case in many parts of Christendom. In Persia a wave of millenialist enthusiasm had swept many in the religiously educated class of Shi'ih Muslim society, focused on belief that the fulfillment of prophecies in the Qur'an and the Islamic traditions was at hand. It was to one such ardent seeker [Mulla Husayn-i-Bushru’i] that, on the night of 22-23 May 1844, the Bab (a title meaning "Gate") announced that He was the Bearer of a Divine Revelation destined not only to transform Islam but to set a new direction for the spiritual life of humankind.

During the decade that followed, mounting opposition from both clergy and state brought about the martyrdom of the Bab, the massacre of His leading disciples and of several thousands of His followers, and the virtual extinction of the religious system that He had founded. Out of these harrowing years, however, emerged a successor movement, the Baha'i Faith, that has since spread throughout the planet and established its claim to represent a new and independent world religion.

It is to Baha'u'llah (Mirza Husayn-'Ali, 1817-1892), that the worldwide Baha'i community looks as the source of its spiritual and social teachings, the authority for the laws and institutions that shape its life, and the vision of unity that has today made it one of the most geographically widespread and ethnically diverse of organized bodies of people on the planet. It is from Baha'u'llah that the Faith derives its name and toward Whose resting place in the Holy Land that the millions of Baha'is around the world daily direct their thoughts when they turn to God in prayer.

May 9, 2010

Educating the Women of Persia – by Dr. Genevieve L Coy, Director of Girls Tarbiat School in Tihran, 1926

"A teacher is like unto a gardener. Just as a gardener sows the seeds and watches over their sprouting, looks after their growth and development, so also a teacher must watch over the education of the children and inculcate in their young lives the highest ideals of truth and justice." -‘Abdu'l-Baha.

Twenty years ago [as of 1926] there were no schools for girls in Tihran. Daughters of affluent parents were occasionally taught by tutors, but as a rule a woman was supposed to have no acquaintance with the learning that came from books. With the slow development of progressive ideas this situation has been markedly changed, and Tihran now contains both public and private schools for girls.

The Girls' Tarbiyat School, sponsored and financed by the Baha'is of Tihran, was the second school for girls opened in the city. During the nine years of Miss Lillian Kappes' work as director, the school came successfully through many difficulties, and is now one of the largest and best of the girls' schools. Three years ago a reactionary Minister of Education said to the principal of another school: "The Tarbiyat School is the best school for girls in Tihran. Alas that they are Baha'is!”

In spite of the handicap of a limited curriculum, the importance of the Tarbiyat School in the lives of her pupils can scarcely be overestimated. We will consider first some of the direct contributions made by the subjects in the course of study.

April 8, 2010

Serving the Cause through the art of storytelling -- by Mr. Kiser Barnes, A talk given at the Bahá’í World Centre

29 January 2003
Haifa, Israel

Good evening Friends. I’m delighted to be among so many lovers of stories and storytellers. In this presentation of a few stories, I’ll make some remarks about serving the Cause of God through the art of storytelling.

The Báb and Bahá’u’lláh, like the Manifestations of God before Them, told educative stories. The Manifestations are Divine Educators who often couched the most valuable lessons for humanity in penetrating stories. The use of parables by Jesus is greatly appreciated. In The Dawn-Breakers, Nabíl has recorded narratives Bahá’u’lláh related to him. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá was a superb storyteller. It would be an excellent contribution to learning if the Master’s use of stories was examined. What were His methods? What languages did He use? How did He promote the art of storytelling? What subjects did He stress? Of course, God Passes By is Shoghi Effendi’s unique account of the outstanding events that occurred in the first century of the Faith’s history. A treasure of stories for the world is found in the Guardian’s expositions and commentaries. For example, in The Promised Day is Come, he relates what happened to some eastern rulers who opposed Bahá’u’lláh. In short, storytelling has been, and remains, a powerful instrument for the Faith’s advancement.

Teaching the Oneness of Mankind

The young lady who introduced me, Jacqueline Ambe, is from Cameroon. The first Cameroonian woman who accepted the Faith was Mrs. Esther Tanyi. She told me how she became a believer. In her own way, she related how a believer taught her to believe in the oneness of mankind through his consumption of food.

After Mr. Enoch Olinga, the late Hand of the Cause of God, settled in Cameroon in 1953, the Guardian sent Mr. Alí Nakhjavání there with his request that five of the new and only Cameroonian Bahá’ís at that time should arise to establish the Faith in other parts of West Africa. The only question these new believers had was this: Who among them would gain this special honour? They had recently elected the first Local Spiritual Assembly in the city of Victoria. Therefore, they decided that the five who would become international pioneers would be selected by secret ballot. Ballots were cast. Those chosen left their homes for other lands. Thus, five Cameroonians became Knights of Bahá’u’lláh during the Ten Year Crusade. Mr. David Tanyi, Esther’s husband, established the Faith in Togo.

April 1, 2010

A talk given by Mr. Ali Nakhjavani to Local Spiritual Assembly Members of Southern Ontario, Canada

5 September 1986

Beloved friends, the fall I had was unexpected, but these meetings I have had with the friends, although unexpected, have been extremely inspiring to me -- but not this (referring to broken wrist) -- particularly when I went to Quebec. I found the friends there on fire with the teaching work and I must have met over that weekend something like 15 to 16 friends who are close to the Faith, and some of them came to me personally to express their love and appreciation for Baha'u'llah. They don't have too may proclamation activities there. They are not rich on the whole. They have far distances to traverse. But there is something which I cannot describe. Jalal is my brother. He visited Quebec and he used to write me letters about the Quebecois. He used to tell me, 'You should come here and see them and talk to them. They are a different people. They seem to understand the Faith and appreciate it. They respond to the truth enshrined in the Faith.' And one reason why I went to Quebec was to undertake this travel on behalf and in the name of my brother who loved the Quebecois so much. And the Quebecois told me that they loved him very much. In fact some of their children have been named Jalal because of him. It is really my wish that the spirit which is in Quebec will permeate the entire community in Canada. And if this is done, if you make an analysis of what has happened in Quebec, what is it that these friends are doing that, for example, we in this part of Canada are not doing -- why is that they are successful -- if you make a study of this, maybe we can get some excellent results and methods.

March 25, 2010

Recollection of a Pilgrim Talk – by Hooper Dunbar, Member of the Universal House of Justice

Haifa, Israel
Friday 5th March 2010

This is most likely the last time that I will address the pilgrims (Mr. Dunbar retires from the House on March 20). You know the pilgrims are referred to as the life blood of the Bahá’í World Centre. And the beloved Guardian used to say that there were two purposes of pilgrimage. The first was to imbibe, fill yourself with the spirit. The second was to impart – that after you leave the World Centre with your stories, memories, and photos, impart that spirit to others, because only a tiny proportion of the Bahá’í world can come on pilgrimage.

‘Abdu’l-Bahá says that no action is more meritorious than remembering and praying for loved ones in the Shrine of Bahá’u’lláh. Ask Bahá’u’lláh’s assistance and forgiveness on their behalf.

When the pilgrims go the Shrines there are all kinds of responses. You may be wondering why everyone around me is in tears and I’m not – am I some kind of dried potato? You may be in the Shrines and remember things about your life that you are not particularly proud of. It happens. What do you do? Friends, leave the things you are not proud of in the Shrines – leave them there. The past is the past. You have to move on. You know Bahá’u’lláh says over and over again that God is the most merciful, the most forgiving God. [e.g: O Thou Provider, O Thou Forgiver! Grant us Thy grace and loving-kindness, Thy gifts and Thy bestowals, and sustain us, that we may attain our goal. Thou art the Powerful, the Able, the Knower, the Seer; and, verily, Thou art the Generous, and, verily, Thou art the All-Merciful, and, verily, Thou art the Ever-Forgiving, He to Whom repentance is due, He Who forgiveth even the most grievous of sins.] Friends, we have to trust that this is the case and move on to serve the Cause, assuming that our past is forgiven. This is one purpose of pilgrimage. But it is God who forgives. We should not play God. We should not think I cannot forgive myself for this or that. Or think how can I arise to do this or that knowing what I have done? God forgives. Move on. Serve the Cause. (Note: Mr. Dunbar was very strong on this point and I am sure helped many).

March 18, 2010

Teaching Problems – A Message from Hand of the Cause Ruhiyyih Khanum, March 18, 1949, Haifa, Israel

We often wonder why it is that when we have the remedy for all the ills of the world, the world won't take it. Sometimes it is very disheartening. We feel we are like a man standing at a fork in the road, voluntarily inconveniencing himself by acting as a signpost. He points right with a sign that reads "Safety This Way" and left is marked "Danger, Precipice", but he finds most people rush the high road to the precipice and very, very few take the little unattractive path to safety. And we Baha'is, always trying to offer our priceless gift, many of us out in strange places as pioneers, many more traveling around as teachers or working hard and eagerly on National, Regional or Local Teaching Committees and allied Committees, wonder what on earth is the matter. Are the people all blind or is there something wrong with us?

The Ills of Mankind

The answer, of course, is, that broadly speaking, the human race today is certainly distracted, and, compared to an absolute standard of normalcy, somewhat demented, and we ourselves are far from being what we should be. The combination of mass disobedience to the Laws of God, and our own incomplete adherence to them, acts as a brake on the success of our labors.

February 23, 2010

Horace Holley – A talk at the Los Angeles Baha'i Center October 23, 1948

[We Owe it to ‘Abdu’l-Baha; The Temple as a Powerful, Silent Teacher]

(Stenographic notes)

The human race is immersed in the ocean of the spirit. Baha'u'llah is universal, and He has surrounded humanity with all the blessings of the Day of God. You and I are aware of the fact that we are immersed in the ocean of the spirit, but the majority of the people are not yet aware, and when we are not aware of the spirit that surrounds and penetrates us, and tries to act upon a reluctant heart and a mind that is full of the shadows of the past, the individual encased in this unawareness is fearful of the spirit because the spirit, to him, is something that threatens what he thinks is the basis of his human personality. It is as though he were constantly being threatened by death-not physical death-but the extinction of what he considers to be his security. Those who are aware of the spirit, and know it can do nothing but bless those who become aware of it, have laid upon themselves the mission of the ages, to remove the obstacles from human personality which shut people out from the Spirit of Baha'u'llah.

In this great Day of God there is no one way to free all souls. The number of ways which are necessary to learn is exactly the number of the Baha'is themselves, which means that every Baha'i has a mission, and if any of us fail to do our part in the quickening of souls, it means we have left certain people in the prison of their human personality, because we have thrown away the keys that would open the doors and make them Baha'is.

February 11, 2010

Ruhiyyih Khanum’s Message to First Canadian National Convention - 1948

To the Delegates and Friends attending the First Canadian National Baha'i Convention.

Dear Friends:

What a blessing and privilege to be allowed to raise my voice on this historic occasion, even though from across two seas, and address these words to you in my own home. You who are gathered here see this room, these walls and doors clearly, but I assure you they rise up before my eyes dimmed by the passing years, sanctified by memory and longing, and what comes to my mind is a nostalgic co-mingling of the past and the future.
Strangely enough the most vivid picture is one neither I—nor probably one of you -- can remember as an eye witness: 'Abdu'l Baha addressing in this very room, a group of believers and guests. The strong, sad, wise face; the silvery hair; the beautiful, understanding blue eyes that swa the reality of things, the reality of evil, the reality of error, of failure and deviation, and yet looked upon all men with a loving and gentle spirit and filled them with hope, -- this is the first and most vivid imprint of all, which surely clings to this house so blessed by His presence. And what He said on that occasion must have for you, I feel, now gathered here to carry on His work at such an important juncture in Canadian history, a special message and a special significance. He opened his speech with these words:

"An hour ago a Young man came here and we discussed together whether nature is perfect or imperfect, light or darkness. I wish now to complete that conversation. Nature--that is, generally speaking, the physical world, the world of nature, if we observe it carefully and seek to probe its mysteries, -- this world of nature is seen to be imperfect, to be dark. Consider carefully: if we leave a plot of earth in its natural state it will remain a field of thistles, it will grow useless weeds; if we leave the hills to themselves the trees will remain fruitless, it is a jungle with no harvest, no order. Therefore, this world of nature is dark, it must be illumined. In what will its illumination lie?"

‘Abdu’l-Baha then went on to answer His own question and point out that cultivation and training in the world of nature has converted the wilderness into harvest-bearing fields, and that just as the physical world would, if left untended, revert to a state of nature which is dark, wild, and fruitless, so men, if abandoned to themselves, if left uneducated, revert to a state resembling that of animals -- nay, even worse than animals, for they can become like the cannibals of Africa, their human qualities of mind and soul remaining wholly undeveloped. Through one simile after another he pointed out that the physical world must be redeemed from its gross state of imperfection through training.

January 27, 2010

The Constitution of the Universal House of Justice - by Ali Nakhjavani

(Transcript of a talk as part of six talks given during a week-long course in February of 2004 on the “World Order of Baha'u'llah”. The event was sponsored by the NSA of Italy. The notes also include questions raised by the participants and Mr. Nakhjavani’s answers. This text, excluding the quotations section, was published in 2005 under the title "Towards World Order". A chapter on “The Covenant” was added in the 2007 edition.)

On October 18th 1927, referring to the Declaration of Trust and By-Laws of the National Spiritual Assembly, Shoghi Effendi wrote the following addressing that National Assembly: "You can but faintly imagine how comforting a stimulant and how helpful a guide its publication and circulation will be to those patient and toiling workers in Eastern lands... You can hardly realise how substantially it would contribute to pave the way for the elaboration of the beginnings of the constitution of the worldwide Bahá'í Community that will form the permanent basis upon which the blest and sanctified edifice of the first International House of Justice will securely rest and flourish."- (BA p.143). In a letter referring to the same subject, addressed to the Bahá'ís in Iran, Shoghi Effendi referred to the need for the Persian National Assembly to have its own constitution, and pointed out that the constitution of National Assemblies is the Greater Law of God's Holy Faith, while the constitution of the Universal House of Justice is its Most Great Law. In 1934, when he wrote his "Dispensation", Shoghi Effendi once again referred to the future constitution of the Supreme Body of the Faith.

When the Universal House of Justice was formed in 1963, it was able to launch its first teaching and consolidation Plan in April 1964, which was the Nine-Year Plan. One of the goals of that Plan, set aside as an objective of the World Centre, was to draft the Constitution governing the operation of the House of Justice, as well as the affairs of the worldwide Bahá'í Community. In view of the mounting cares and responsibilities of the Universal House of Justice, and the meticulous concentration required to produce such a vitally important document, it took most of the nine years under this first Plan to bring this project to conclusion.

January 7, 2010

In the Days of the Guardian – a Talk by Hand of the Cause of God Leroy Ioas in Johannesburg, South Africa, 1958

Dearly beloved friends it’s a very great pleasure for Mrs. Ioas and myself to be in South Africa in the city of Johannesburg to meet the friends here and to have an opportunity to talk with them about the Bahá’í Faith, and particularly this evening about our beloved Guardian, Shoghi Effendi.

If the establishment of the Bahá’í Faith in South Africa, in this difficult area, and it’s very difficult, the very fact that it is difficult will bring about great results in the future, and will produce great Bahá’í teachers and great Bahá’í workers.

Teaching the Cause is disseminating the power of the Holy Spirit, and when you become a teacher of the Cause you become a channel through which the Holy Spirit descends into the world and goes out to those to whom you teach. So actually, the teacher secures greater benefit than the one whom he teaches, because he is then in contact with the power of the Holy Spirit.

In the Holy Land where we, Mrs. Ioas and I, had the privilege of serving the beloved Guardian for six years, you learned a little bit of what it meant to be in contact with the Holy Spirit directly, because you were continuously in the presence of the beloved Guardian, and, as you know, he was like a generator of spiritual power. When you met the Guardian, you could just feel his spiritual power, this penetrating light through your very being, and to move continuously in that power, in that force, is not an easy thing. It was something to aspire to, but I don’t think very many of us actually achieved, very much in the way of nearness to his spirit. The power of the emanating guidance of God descended upon Shoghi Effendi at all times, and in all things he did, and in all of his ways and his actions and deeds, you could see the supreme guidance which he was receiving in the carrying on of Bahá’í work.