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: http://bahaisacredrelics.blogspot.com/)

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.