December 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.

November 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.

October 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.

October 12, 2014

Shoghi Effendi, Expounder of the Word of God – by David Hofman

[This essay was originally presented to the Ninth Annual Conference of the Association of Baha'i Studies. 'The Vision of Shoghi Effendi', November 1984 in Chicago, where it was read on behalf of the author. See proceedings of the conference to be published by the Association in late 1991.]

When, in 1921, Shoghi Effendi acceded to the office of Guardianship of the Baha'i Faith, he was in his second year as a student at Balliol College, Oxford. The traumatic shock of the Master's passing had barely given way to consciousness of unbearable loss, when the second blow fell with the reading of the Will and Testament, and this totally dedicated, modest young man faced the awe‑inspiring, appalling prospect of his appointment. He was overwhelmed. After a brief stay in Haifa he committed the care of the Faith to the Greatest Holy Leaf and retired for eight months to solitude and preparation.

Upon his return to Haifa it quickly became apparent that he had assumed the full responsibilities of his office, while more gradually it was realized that the functions of that office were unique in the history of the world. Present‑day visitors to the World Centre, students of the Revelation and the hosts of new believers now entering the Cause rapidly become aware of his mighty works. They see the magnificent gardens at Bahji and on Carmel, the Shrine of the Báb, the International Archives Building, the great arc which he created on the Mountain of God upon which Baha'u'llah has established His throne; his translations into English of the Sacred Word are the daily food of anglophone believers and the foundation of translations into other languages; one whole generation and more witnessed the rise of the Administrative Order under his direction, responded to his constant call to spread the knowledge and establish the institutions of the Faith throughout the earth, and all stand amazed at the vast range of his achievements and the character of his leadership, a leadership which evoked in a handful of ordinary people powers and capacities which they did not know they possessed and which enabled them to achieve, under his guidance, tasks inconceivable and impossible without his God‑given genius.

September 20, 2014

A Tribute to Shoghi Effendi – a talk by Hand of the Cause Amelia Collins given in July 1958

(The following address was delivered by Amelia Collins, Hand of the Cause, Haifa, Israel, at the Intercontinental Baha'i Conference held in Frankfurt/Main, Germany, July 25-29, 1958, which she attended as the chosen representative of Shoghi Effendi, late Guardian of the Baha'i Faith.)

How can ever find words to bring you what is in my heart about our beloved Guardian! I feel we must each so fill ourselves at this time with his spirit and his wishes that it will carry us through the next five years of the glorious Crusade he initiated and enable us to consummate his every hope and wish. This, the fulfillment of his own Plan, is the living memorial we must build in his memory.

When I first heard of the passing of 'Abdu'l-Baha, I was a very young believer and after the provisions of His will became known, my whole heart and soul turned to that youthful Branch, appointed by Him to watch over and guide the Faith of Baha'u'llah. How I prayed that God would help me to make him happy!

In 1923 I first met our beloved Guardian in Haifa. He was just a young man then, full of determination to carry forward the great work entrusted to his care. He was so spontaneous, so trusting and loving and outgoing in the buoyancy of his beautiful heart. Through the years we all watched with wonder and ever-deepening devotion to him and appreciation of his God-given gifts, the unfoldment of Baha'u'llah's Divine Order which he built up so patiently and wisely all over the world. But, oh friends, at what great cost to himself! 

In 1951, when the beloved Guardian called some of the friends to serve in Haifa, I began to learn of what he had passed through. His face was sad, one could see his very spirit had been heavily oppressed by the agony he went through for years during the period when the family pursued their own desires and finally abandoned the work of the Faith and their Guardian to go their own way. I can truthfully say that for a number of years we who served him at the World Center seldom saw him smile, and very often he poured out to us his woes and confided some of the things he had passed through. I do not know in any great detail the day to day afflictions of Baha'u'llah and 'Abdu'l-Baha, but sometimes I wonder if they could have been any more heartbreaking than those of our beloved Shoghi Effendi. 

July 1, 2014

The Martyrdom of the Báb – by Hand of the Cause William Sears

A wave of violence unprecedented in its cruelty, its persistency, and its breadth swept the face of the entire land. From Khurasan on the eastern border of Persia to Tabriz on the west, from the northern cities of Zanjan and Tihran stretching as far south as Nayriz, the country was enveloped in darkness. Many recalled the prophecy of Shaykh Ahmad who spoke so glowingly of the Twin Revelations that were at hand. He had warned his followers to expect these days of suffering. "Pray God," he told them, "that you may not be present in (1) the day of the coming of the Prophet or (2) the day of His return, as there will be many civil wars. If any of you should be living at that time, he shall see strange things between the years 1844 and 1851." [1] Nicolas in his account of those days says: "The anxious priests, feeling their flock quivering with impatience and ready to escape their control, redoubled their slanders . . .; the grossest lies, the most bloody fictions were spread among the bewildered populace, torn between terror and admiration." [2]

When the news of the death of His beloved uncle reached the Báb, and he heard the moving account of the tragic fate of the "seven martyrs of Tihran," His heart was plunged in sorrow. He wrote a special tribute in their honor which testified to the exalted position they occupied in His eyes. The Báb said that these seven heroes were the "Seven Goats" spoken of in the prophecies of Islam who on the Day of Judgement would "walk in front of the Promised Qa’im [He who shall arise]." [3]

It was at this moment that the Prime Minister, Mirza Taqi Khan, issued the command that brought the Báb out of His prison-cell in Chihriq. The Prime Minister had at last decided to strike at the very head of the Faith. The forces of the Shah and the members of the clergy were suffering humiliating defeats all across the land. Remove the Báb, the Prime Minister told himself, and the old order could be restored. He called his counsellors together and unfolded to them his plan. This was a drastic change from the Prime Minister's original plan. Up to now, Mirza Taqi Khan had felt that the most effective way of destroying the Báb's influence would be to ruin him morally "to bring him out of his retreat in Chiriq where a halo of suffering, holiness, science and eloquence made him radiate like a sun; to show him to the people just as he was . . . a vulgar charlatan, a weak dreamer who did not have courage enough to conceive, still less to direct the daring enterprises" of Tabarsi, Nayriz and Zanjan, "or even take part in them." [4]

February 8, 2014

Manifestations of God – a brief introduction to the lives and teachings of Krishna, Buddha, Moses, Jesus, Muhammad, the Báb, and Bahá’u’lláh – by Hushmand Fatheazam


Krishna was a Messenger of God. His Message was the Message of love. He was born in a prison. This was a sign for us to know that all of us are born in the prison of self, the prison of this world. Krishna miraculously escaped from prison. If we try to be good, if we try to be godly, we too can escape from the prison of self.

Krishna, like all the other Manifestations of God, was confronted with the forces of evil. He fought against evil and became victorious. No matter how powerful evil might be, the power of truth is always victorious.

Krishna became the king of Dwarka - which means the small Gate. He was the gate of the knowledge of God Himself. His teachings were for the good of man. But alas! man has rejected them.

Krishna was sad that the people would not understand Him. He complained that people did not believe in Him because He came in human form. They had their own fancies about God and His Manifestation. Therefore, when Krishna claimed that He manifested God, the people rejected Him. This is what Krishna says in the Gita:

"The deluded despise Me clad in human body not knowing MY high nature as Lord of all existence." (Gita, IX, II)

Even His beloved disciple Arjuna could not understand the Divine Power in Krishna. Arjuna could not believe that the temple of man might become the seat of the Divine Being. They say that Krishna had to transfigure Himself into the Divine Form so that Arjuna could see His power and believe in Him. This means that Krishna helped Arjuna to understand His spiritual majesty and grandeur before Arjuna would find faith in the Lord.