Spread Peace

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Gaza Musicians and the Struggle to be Heard

I’m a 23-year-old rapper, music producer and filmmaker living in the world’s largest open air prison.

I’m also a multimedia student at university. I’ve worked with many other young artists on creative projects, but unfortunately these projects never see the light of day, because no matter how hard we try, our dreams are constantly crushed by the tyranny of the limitations we face.

This article is my attempt to reach out to the world to share a different perspective on life in Gaza for musicians and rappers, to vent some of the frustrations we feel and to explain the obstacles we face. I hope to spark a discussion that could lead to change.

Of the many barriers artists and performers in Gaza face, the biggest of all is Israel’s ongoing siege and repeated wars and bombing raids. But we face many other challenges from the ground up.

Read Full Article

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Gaza teacher challenges stigma of Down syndrome

The children counted in unison. One to ten. Their teacher, by way of encouragement, applauded in appreciation when they had finished.

It might have been any class in any primary school in Gaza except for one thing: the teacher and students all had Down syndrome.

Hiba al-Shurafa, 26, seemed confident and relaxed. Her manner was friendly and keen and her students responded during this recent class at the Right To Live Association in the eastern part of Gaza City.

The Right to Live Society is Gaza’s chapter of Down Syndrome International, an organization for those born with the condition.

It is here that al-Shurafa was trained to become the first Down syndrome teacher in Gaza.

Read Full

Friday, February 26, 2016

Migrant Crisis in Europe

Schengen will ‘break down’ in 10 days if no solution to migrant crisis found – EU commissioner.

There are only ten days left for European Union officials to significantly reduce the flow of migrants and asylum-seekers into the EU from Turkey, or the Schengen system is at risk of total collapse, according to the EU’s migration commissioner.
“In the next 10 days, we need tangible and clear results on the ground. Otherwise there is a risk that the whole system will completely break down,” Dimitris Avramopoulos, EU Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship, told the media on Thursday.

The senior EU official's warning came after a Thursday meeting of EU justice and home affairs ministers in Brussels, where the officials had gathered to once again try to find a solution to the current migrant crisis. Read Full

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Perfect Religious Knowledge

 The patterns set in motion by biblical religion make the question of religious knowledge of the utmost importance. In essence, mortals have been brought into a state of potential. Everything has been primed in advance: human beings can collaborate with God, to match human actions with God's intention. It is possible to feel the momentum of this idea building; in the biblical outlook individuals can make the decision to let their wills act in unison with that of God, they can stand ready to live in accordance with the whole purpose of history. But how do they do so? How do they know if their actions are correct? How do they know what God's intentions are?

       In trying to answer these questions, the biblical approach begins with a word of caution: no one is ever able to know God completely. No mortal can "become God" in the same sense as can the mystic. No one can claim, "I am God." At best, a human being can only gather information about God, collect insights into the workings of God in history, and on this basis construct what is believed to be a close approximation to God's will. But there is always room for error. Humankind is fallible; anyone can make honest mistakes, they can misjudge. There are, however, two things working in one’s favor: God's steadfast nature and desire to have that fellowship brought about. There is no method that guarantees perfect religious knowledge; individuals must act on trust. Consequently, the first step to such knowledge is the sincere desire and decision to understand God, no matter how imperfect that understanding may be.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Sojourn in Baghdád

A twenty-year-old Faith had just begun to recover from a series of successive blows when a crisis of the first magnitude overtook it and shook it to its roots. Neither the tragic martyrdom of the Báb nor the ignominious attempt on the life of the sovereign, nor its bloody aftermath, nor Bahá'u'lláh's humiliating banishment from His native land, nor even His two-year withdrawal to Kurdistán, devastating though they were in their consequences, could compare in gravity with this first major internal convulsion which seized a newly rearisen community, and which threatened to cause an irreparable breach in the ranks of its members. 
More odious than the unrelenting hostility which Abú-Jahl, the uncle of Muhammad, had exhibited, more shameful than the betrayal of Jesus Christ by His disciple, Judas Iscariot, more perfidious than the conduct of the sons of Jacob towards Joseph their brother, more abhorrent than the deed committed by one of the sons of Noah, more infamous than even the criminal act perpetrated by Cain against Abel, the monstrous behavior of Mírzá Yahyá, one of the half-brothers of Bahá'u'lláh, the nominee of the Báb, and recognized chief of the Bábí community, brought in its wake a period of travail which left its mark on the fortunes of the Faith for no less than half a century. 
This supreme crisis Bahá'u'lláh Himself designated as the AyyÁM-i-Shidád (Days of Stress), during which "the most grievous veil" was torn asunder, and the "most great separation" was irrevocably effected. It immensely gratified and emboldened its external enemies, both civil and ecclesiastical, played into their hands, and evoked their unconcealed derision. It perplexed and confused the friends and supporters of Bahá'u'lláh, and seriously damaged the prestige of the Faith in the eyes of its western admirers. 
It had been brewing ever since the early days of Bahá'u'lláh's sojourn in Baghdád, was temporarily suppressed by the creative forces which, under His as yet unproclaimed leadership, reanimated a disintegrating community, and finally broke out, in all its violence, in the years immediately preceding the proclamation of His Message. It brought incalculable sorrow to Bahá'u'lláh, (Source)

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Women and Peace

Women are the worst affected by conflict. They bear the brunt of it because when war comes, they often become targets of sexual violence, their husbands and children may be killed – leaving them without support, and they are themselves the majority of casualties of war. Women make up 80% of those who have to flee their homes. In DR Congo, more than 200,000 women have been raped in a decade of conflict.

But women are not only victims, they can be central in the fight for peace. The award of the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize to three women from Liberia and Yemen recognised this vital role. When the men of fighting age have disappeared to war, women become the heads of household, conservers of the community and rebuilders of the economy.

Women’s perspectives are invaluable – they can make a unique contribution by offering their perspectives and taking advantage of the roles expected of them. While international bodies have urged greater participation of women in peace building work, our local peace builders show that women are already often at the forefront of the mission for a lasting peace. source

Thursday, December 17, 2015

The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali

4.1 Psychic powers arise by birth, drugs, incantations, purificatory acts or concentrated insight.
4.2 Transformation into another state is by the directed flow of creative nature.
4.3 Creative nature is not moved into action by any incidental cause, but by the removal of obstacles, as in the case of a farmer clearing his field of stones for irrigation.
4.4 Created minds arise from egoism alone.
4.5 There being difference of interest, one mind is the director of many minds.
4.6 Of these, the mind born of concentrated insight is free from the impressions.
4.7 The impressions of unitive cognition are neither good nor bad. In the case of the others, there are three kinds of impressions.
4.8 From them proceed the development of the tendencies which bring about the fruition of actions.
4.9 Because of the magnetic qualities of habitual mental patterns and memory, a relationship of cause and effect clings even though there may be a change of embodiment by class, space and time.
4.10 The desire to live is eternal, and the thought-clusters prompting a sense of identity are beginningless.
4.11 Being held together by cause and effect, substratum and object- the tendencies themselves disappear on the dissolution of these bases.
4.12 The past and the future exist in the object itself as form and expression, there being difference in the conditions of the properties.
4.13 Whether manifested or unmanifested they are of the nature of the attributes.
4.14 Things assume reality because of the unity maintained within that modification.
4.15 Even though the external object is the same, there is a difference of cognition in regard to the object because of the difference in mentality.
4.16 And if an object known only to a single mind were not cognized by that mind, would it then exist?
4.17 An object is known or not known by the mind, depending on whether or not the mind is colored by the object.
4.18 The mutations of awareness are always known on account of the changelessness of its Lord, the indweller.
4.19 Nor is the mind self-luminous, as it can be known.
4.20 It is not possible for the mind to be both the perceived and the perceiver simultaneously.
4.21 In the case of cognition of one mind by another, we would have to assume cognition of cognition, and there would be confusion of memories.
4.22 Consciousness appears to the mind itself as intellect when in that form in which it does not pass from place to place.
4.23 The mind is said to perceive when it reflects both the indweller (the knower) and the objects of perception (the known).
4.24 Though variegated by innumerable tendencies, the mind acts not for itself but for another, for the mind is of compound substance.
4.25 For one who sees the distinction, there is no further confusing of the mind with the self.
4.26 Then the awareness begins to discriminate, and gravitates towards liberation.
4.27 Distractions arise from habitual thought patterns when practice is intermittent.
4.28 The removal of the habitual thought patterns is similar to that of the afflictions already described.
4.29 To one who remains undistracted in even the highest intellection there comes the equalminded realization known as The Cloud of Virtue. This is a result of discriminative discernment.
4.30 From this there follows freedom from cause and effect and afflictions.
4.31 The infinity of knowledge available to such a mind freed of all obscuration and property makes the universe of sensory perception seem small.
4.32 Then the sequence of change in the three attributes comes to an end, for they have fulfilled their function.
4.33 The sequence of mutation occurs in every second, yet is comprehensible only at the end of a series.
4.34 When the attributes cease mutative association with awarenessness, they resolve into dormancy in Nature, and the indweller shines forth as pure consciousness. This is absolute freedom.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Who Have Broken the Covenant

Calligraphic arrangement of part of the opening sentence of the Will and Testament of 'Abdu'l-Baha

Some of the writings, prayers and verses of the Blessed Beauty will be mentioned in which association with the violators is forbidden. In the Iranian Commune, He says:

"Protect this Servant from the doubts of the persons who have turned away from Thee and are deprived of the sea of Thy knowledge. O God! O God! Protect this Servant through Thy bounty and generosity from the evil of Thine enemies who have broken Thy Covenant and Testament."

In another place He says: "O My God and the Aim of My Life! Protect this weak one with Thy Mighty hand from the voice of the Naegh."

Also He says: "Ye have taken one whom I hate to be thy beloved, and My enemy to be thy friend."

Also He says: "The company of the wicked ones increaseth sorrow, and the association with the pious ones removeth rust from the heart. The one who desires to associate with God, let him associate with His friends; the one who wishes to hear the Words of God, let him hear the words of His chosen ones."

Also He says: "Do not associate with the wicked, because the company of the wicked changeth the light of life into the fire of remorse. If thou asketh for the bounties of the Holy Spirit, associate with the pure ones, because they have quaffed the eternal chalice from the hands of the Cupbearer of eternity."

Also He says: "The greatest of degradation is to leave the Shadow of God and enter under the shadow of Satan."

Also He says: "O ye servants! There is nothing in this heart save the effulgences of the splendor of the morn of Meeting, and it does not speak but the absolute truth from your Lord. Therefore, do not follow self; break not God's Covenant and violate not His Testament. Proceed with perfect steadfastness, and with heart, soul and tongue, turn unto Him, and be not of the thoughtless."

And still He says: "You have forgotten God's Covenant and violated His Testament."  435 

And again He says: "If anyone comes to you with the book of the wicked, put him behind you."

"Among the people are those who have broken the Covenant, and among them are those who have followed what was ordained by the All-Knower, the All-Wise. My affliction is not from My imprisonment and persecution, or from what comes to Me from My rebellious servants, -- but from the actions of those who attribute themselves to this persecuted One and commit among the people that which is degrading to the honor of God. Verily, they are of the seditious."

Likewise speaking for the violators, He says: "Thou hast made the pulpits for Thy mention, the proclamation of Thy Word and the manifestation of Thy Cause, and we have ascended them to proclaim the breaking of Thy Covenant and Testament."

Likewise, He says: "Take what has been ordained for you and follow not those who have broken God's Covenant and Testament, for lo! they are the people of error."

Again He says: "Those who have broken the Covenant of God, notwithstanding His Commands, and have turned away, they are the people of error before the most Opulent, the Exalted."

And He says: "Those who have been faithful to God's Covenant are of the highest ones in the sight of the exalted Lord. Those who have become negligent are of the people of fire in the sight of Thy Lord, the Beloved, the Independent."

Likewise He says: "Blessed is the servant or maid-servant who believes, and woe to the polytheists who have violated the Covenant of God and His Testament, and deviated from My Right Path."

Likewise He says: "I implore of Thee not to deprive me of what Thou possessest or what Thou hast ordained for Thy chosen ones who have not broken Thy Covenant and Testament. Say! Die with your hatred! Verily, He is come by Whom the pillars of the world have been shaken and because of Whom the feet have stumbled -- save those who have not broken the Covenant, but have followed what God revealed in His Book."

Likewise He says: "The Supreme Concourse will pray for the one who is adorned with the garment of faithfulness between  436  heaven and earth; but he who breaks the Covenant is cursed by heaven and earth."

Likewise He says: "Take hold of what has been revealed unto you, with a power superior to that of the hands of the unbelievers who have violated the Covenant of God and His Testament, and have turned from the Face."

Also He says: "O Yahya! Verily the Book has come! Take it with a power from Us and do not follow those who have broken the Covenant of God and His Testament, and have denied what has been revealed from the Powerful, the All-Knower."

Likewise He says: "I awoke this morning, O My God, under the shadow of Thy great bounty and have taken, with Thy power, the pen to mention Thee with such mention as shall be a light unto the pure, and fire unto the wicked who have violated Thy Covenant, denied Thy Verses and put aside the Kawther of life which appeared by Thy command and was revealed by the finger of Thy will."

(Abdu'l-Baha, Baha'i World Faith - Abdu'l-Baha Section, p. 433)

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

What is Religious Freedom?

Religious freedom means that an individual or group can:
Without oppression, believe, worship and witness (or practice freedom from belief, worship and witness), as they wish;
Change their beliefs or their religion at any time; and
Associate with others to express their beliefs.

With the arrival of the new millennium, religious freedom seems to be gradually changing its meaning. When it is discussed in the media today, it often refers to the freedom for an individual, clergy person, or denomination to express condemnation, spread misinformation or disinformation, exclude, denigrate, oppress, refuse to deal with others, and/or express hatred towards other individuals or groups. Often, the right to restrict the civil rights of the targeted groups is included. Most frequently, women and sexual minorities are the victims; the latter are commonly referred to as the LGBT community, made up of lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgender persons and transsexuals.

In brief:
Religious freedom used to mean freedom of belief and practice.
In recent decades, the definition has been changing.
It is becoming: the use of religious belief to justify hatred of others, to legitimate discrimination against them, and/or to urge that their civil rights be limited.
That is, religious freedom used to mean freedom to express one's faith. It is becoming the freedom to denigrate others, oppress others, or withhold services from others for religious reasons. A very common expression of this new form of religious freedom and liberty is found in conscience clauses governing behavior in the workplace. 

Monday, November 30, 2015

Rising Place of Rememberance

Mashriqu'l-Adhkar means 'rising place of rememberance', where 'rising place' has connotations of the East and thus of the dawn, and 'remembrance' connotes dhikr and more broadly acts of worship which change our consciousness and being. So the same word is applied appropriately to the radiant heart, the physical building, and meetings for worship, particularly at dawn. Many western communities try in a disultory manner to organize dawn prayers, but few seem able to carry it through consistently. 

From the experience in our own community (South Limburg) it appears that it is difficult to sustain the dawn prayers as simply one activity among all those worthy activities that go with 'being Bahá'í', and that it becomes rather easier when they are understood as one form of the Mashriqu'l-Adhkar and thus as a response to the Aqdas' command:
 "Build ye houses of worship throughout the lands in the name of Him Who is the Lord of all religions" and an integral part - in fact, the central part - of the whole structure of the community. Various kinds of Mashriq meeting are possible: community meetings for prayers and meditation, more experimental liturgies with chanting and the recitation of dhikr, 'firesides' which consist primarily of meditation and chanting and include the answering of questions as these arise, dawn prayers and after-work moments of silence, short lunchtime meetings to say the shorter obligatory prayer and share a smile and some fellowship, longer evening gatherings for the heavy meditation and the long obligatory prayer (see Jackson's book, and also a tablet of Abdu'l-Bahá to the Spiritual Assembly of Bushruyih in Ganjinih Hudud va Ahkam p. 230), 

The meetings of orders of Bahá'í dervishes using particular devotional arts (Memorials of the Faithful p. 38), or meetings for particular liturgical forms (Gregorian morning song, Vespers with 3-part harmony, Arabic chanting, African drumming). Each of these can be called a 'rising place' for praise and thus a Mashriqul-Adhkar, though perhaps the daily morning prayers have a particular priority in relation to the way in which the inspiration derived in the Mashriq is expressed in action during the day (God Passes By, pp. 339-340) and because they are specifically endorsed by Bahá'u'lláh in the Aqdas para 11 5:

Sunday, November 29, 2015

The Immortal Heroine

Marion Jack, "immortal heroine," "shining example to pioneers," passed from this life on March 25, 1954, in Sofia, Bulgaria, where she had been living for twenty-four years as a pioneer of the Baha'i Faith. Her remains are buried in the British cemetery there. The Guardian's tribute, expressed in his cablegram of March 29, attests the high station which this "triumphant soul" has attained.

Marion Jack's services in the Baha'i Faith began early in the new century. Born in Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada, on December 1, 1866, of a prominent family, she received much of her education in England and particularly in France, where she studied art. Landscape painting was her special field. Some of her paintings are preserved in the Holy Land at the World Center of the Faith.

She first learned of the Faith at a social gathering during her student days in Paris. Second guardian, Charles Mason Remey writes of this first introduction :
"My first remembrance of Marion Jack was when we were students in the Latin Quarter in Paris. She was studying painting, I, architecture, and I used to see her in the 'Quarter' along the boulevard on Mont Parnasse. In the Quarter lived a Mme. Philippe who kept a Pension where a number of girl students lived. Mme. Philippe gave dancing parties at infrequent intervals. It was at one of these affairs, a fancy dress dance, that I met Marion. She was dressed in a fiery red costume that she had made herself of crinkled tissue paper topped off by an enormous 'Merry Widow' hat decorated with large yellow paper flowers . . . It was as we danced and sat out between dances that I told Marion of the Baha'I Faith. She was, as many were in those early days, afire with the Faith then and there, all at once. Marion met the Baha'is, came to meetings in my studio and elsewhere, and that was the beginning of her belief." Source

Monday, November 23, 2015

Guardian of the Cause of God

O ye the faithful loved ones of ‘Abdu’l-Baha! It is incumbent upon you to take the greatest care of Shoghi Effendi, the twig that hath branched from and the fruit given forth by the two hallowed and Divine Lote-Trees, that no dust of despondency and sorrow may stain his radiant nature, that day by day he may wax greater in happiness, in joy and spirituality, and may grow to become even as a fruitful tree.

For he is, after ‘Abdu’l-Baha, the Guardian of the Cause of God, the Afnan, the Hands (pillars) of the Cause and the beloved of the Lord must obey him and turn unto him. He that obeyeth him not, hath not obeyed God; he that turneth away from him, hath turned away from God and he that denieth him, hath denied the True One. Beware lest anyone falsely interpret these words, and like unto them that have broken the Covenant after the Day of Ascension (of Baha’u’llah) advance a pretext, raise the standard of revolt, wax stubborn and open wide the door of false interpretation. To none is given the right to put forth his own opinion or express his particular conviction. All must seek guidance and turn unto the Center of the Cause and the House of Justice. And he that turneth unto whatsoever else is indeed in grievous error.
‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Will and Testament of `Abdu’l-Bahá, paragraph 54-55

Friday, November 20, 2015

Signet Ring of Abdul Baha

Signet Ring of the Bab
One of those ‘unspiritual people’ was at that moment a member of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s party, Dr. Amin Fareed, who had already tried to fraudulently get money out of her [Phoebe Hearst]. It was probably during ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s stay at the Hearst residence that His signet ring disappeared. That theft and some of other activities of Dr. Fareed were described by Marzieh Gail in her book, “Arches of the Years": 

‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s signet ring disappeared during his Western journey. The Master had confided His loss to Florence and Khan, and named the thief but He did not wish them to speak of it. We in the family always thought that it took place during his stay at the Hacienda … Thereafter the Master signed all his tablets instead of using a seal, capitalizing neither abdu’l nor abbas but only Bahá.

Fareed’s efforts to destroy the Master (who had seen to his education from childhood) make a page of triple darkness … Fareed was capable of whispering to the rich in the United States that although ‘Abdu’l-Bahá needed funds He would not openly accept them, but if they would pass over the money to him, Fareed, he would deliver it to the Master … After returning to the Holy Land ‘Abdu’l-Bahá sent Dr. Baghdadi a Tablet, and directed that copies be distributed to every community so that all could read it. 

The Master wrote here that during His stay in America He had forgiven a certain member of His suite four times, but that He would forgive the man’s misdeeds no longer. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá returned to Haifa, He proceeded directly to the room with 
His wife, Munirih Khanum, and said in a feeble voice, “Dr. Fareed has ground me down!”

(Earl Redman, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in Their Midst, p. 228)

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Amatu'l-Baha Ruhiyyih Khanum

Nee Mary Maxwell (1910-2000), also called Ruhyyih Rabbani; daughter of May Bolles Maxwell and Sutherland Maxwell of Montreal, Canada, and wife of Shoghi Effendi, the Guardian of the Baha’i Faith. She served as the Guardian's secretary during his lifetime. 

On 26 March 1952, succeeding her illustrious father, she was appointed a Hand of the Cause of God residing in the Holy Land. Ruhiyyih (meaning "spiritual") is a name given to her by Shoghl Effendi on their marriage. Khanum is a Persian title meaning "lady," "Madame," or "Mrs." The title Amatu’l-Baha (meaning "Maidservant of Bahá”) was used by the Guardian in a cable to a conference in Chicago in 1953. 

Rabbani is a surname given to Shoghi Effendi by 'Abdu'l-Baha After Shoghi Effendi's passing in 1957, she traveled extensively to teach the Baha'i Faith, consolidate Baha'i communities, and serve as a representative of the Universal House of Justice at major events.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Mizra Muhammad-Ali, the Arch-Breaker of the Covenant

[The] arch-breaker of the Covenant of Bahá’u'lláh is Mirza Muhammad-’Ali, the eldest son of Bahá’u'lláh’s second wife Mahd-i-’Ulya. He was born in Baghdad in the first year of Bahá’u'lláh’s arrival there. From the early days of his youth, he found that he could not rise to the level of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, who was nine years his senior. He lacked those spiritual qualities which distinguished his eldest brother, who became known as the Master from the early days in Baghdad.

The most essential prerequisites for the spiritual survival of all those who were close to Bahá’u'lláh were humility, self-effacement and utter nothingness in His presence. If these qualities were missing in an individual, he would be in great danger of spiritual downfall and eventual extinction.

While ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, the Greatest Holy Leaf, the Purest Branch, and their illustrious mother were all embodiments of servitude and selflessness, Muhammad-’Ali, his brothers and sister, together with their mother, were the opposite. Although the latter group were all sheltered beneath Bahá’u'lláh’s protection, and flourished through the outpouring of His favours, in reality they were the victims of selfish desires and worldly ambitions. During Bahá’u'lláh’s lifetime they were subdued by His authority and kept under control through His admonitions. At the same time, Mirza Muhammad-’Ali and his brothers were the recipients of a great many favours from the believers who, because of their love for Bahá’u'lláh, honoured and revered them too. Thus these three sons acquired an undeserved prestige and basked in the sunshine of their Father’s glory and majesty.

Inwardly, Mirza Muhammad-’Ali was a faithless person, and he led his two younger brothers in the same direction. But outwardly he utilized the power of the Faith and the resources of the community to bolster up his own image in the eyes of the followers of Bahá’u'lláh. He emerged as an important person in the service of his Father by transcribing some of His Tablets and by the use of calligraphy of which he was a master. From the days of his youth he entertained the ambition to occupy a position of eminence within the Faith, a position similar to that of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, who, from early on, had distinguished Himself among the entire family.

In Muhammad-’Ali’s childhood Bahá’u'lláh conferred upon him the power of utterance, and this became obvious as he grew up. But instead of utilizing this gift to promote the Cause of God, he embarked on a career which hastened his downfall. When he was in his early teens in Adrianople, he composed a series of passages in Arabic and without Bahá’u'lláh’s permission disseminated them among some of the Persian Bahá’ís, introducing them as verses of God which, he claimed, were revealed to him. He intimated to the believers that he was a partner with Bahá’u'lláh in divine Revelation. Several believers in Qazvin were influenced by him and drawn to him.

…In his writings, which are of considerable length, the teen-age Muhammad-’Ali refers to himself, among other things, as ‘the King of the spirit’, calls on the believers to ‘hear the voice of him who has been manifested to man’, admonishes those who deny his verses revealed in his childhood, declares his revelation to be ‘the greatest of God’s revelations’, asserts that ‘all have been created through a word from him’, considers himself to be ‘the greatest divine luminary before whose radiance all other suns pale into insignificance’, and proclaims himself to be ‘the sovereign ruler of all who are in heaven and on earth’.

Such preposterous claims, such a display of personal ambition, evoked the wrath of Bahá’u'lláh, who rebuked him vehemently and chastised him with His own hands.”
Adib Taherzadeh, The Covenant of Baha’u'llah, p. 125

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Paris Talks - 1

Addresses Given by ‘Abdu’l Bahá in 1911

Table of Contents:
                           Part - 1

1.The Duty of Kindness and Sympathy towards Strangers and Foreigners
2.The Power and Value of True Thought Depend upon Its Manifestation in Action
3.God Is the Great Compassionate Physician Who Alone Gives True Healing
4.The Need for Union between the Peoples of the East and West
5.God Comprehends All; He Cannot Be Comprehended
6.The Pitiful Causes of War, and the Duty of Everyone to Strive for Peace
7.The Sun of Truth
8.The Light of Truth Is Now Shining upon the East and the West
9.The Universal Love
10.The Imprisonment of ‘Abdu’lBahá
11.God’s Greatest Gift to Man
12.The Clouds That Obscure the Sun of Truth
13.Religious Prejudices
14.The Benefits of God to Man
15.Beauty and Harmony in Diversity
16.The True Meaning of the Prophecies Concerning the Coming of Christ
17.The Holy Spirit, the Intermediary Power between God and Man
18.The Two Natures in Man
19.Material and Spiritual Progress
20.The Evolution of Matter and Development of the Soul
21.The Spiritual Meetings in Paris
22.The Two Kinds of Light
23.Spiritual Aspiration in the West
24.Lecture Given at a Studio in Paris
26.Good Ideas Must Be Carried into Action
27.The True Meaning of Baptism by Water and Fire
28.Discourse at “l’Alliance Spiritualiste”
29.The Evolution of the Spirit
30.The Desires and Prayers of ‘Abdu’lBahá
31.Concerning Body, Soul and Spirit
32.The Bahá’ís Must Work with Heart and Soul to Bring About a Better Condition in the World
33.On Calumny
34.There Can Be No True Happiness and Progress without Spirituality
35.Pain and Sorrow
36.The Perfect Human Sentiments and Virtues
37.The Cruel Indifference of People towards the Suffering of Foreign Races
38.We Must Not Be Discouraged by the Smallness of Our Numbers

39.Words Spoken by ‘Abdu’lBahá in Pastor Wagner’s Church (Foyer de l’Ame) in Paris

Friday, November 13, 2015

Ocean Of The Covenant

From the early days of creation down to the present time, throughout all the divine dispensations, such a firm and explicit Covenant hath not been entered upon. 

In view of this fact is it possible for this foam to remain on the surface of the ocean of the Covenant? No, by God! The violators are trampling upon their own dignity, are uprooting their own foundations and are proud at being upheld by flatterers who exert a great effort to shake the faith of feeble souls. 

But this action of theirs is of no consequence; it is a mirage and not water, foam and not the sea, mist and not a cloud, illusion and not reality. 
All this ye shall soon see.                                            Abdul Baha

Friday, November 6, 2015


`ABBÁS EFFENDI (A.H. 1260–1340 [1844–1921 C.E.]): Known as `Abdu'l-Bahá, he is the eldest son of Mírzá Husayn-`Alí Núrí, known as Bahá'u'lláh. The birth of `Abdu'l-Bahá took place on the night of the fifth of Jamádíyu'l-Avval of the year A.H. 1260, corresponding to 1844 C.E., in the Arab neighborhood of Tehran in the personal residence of Bahá'u'lláh.[5] His mother was the first wife of Bahá'u'lláh, known as Navvábih and titled Ummu'l-Ká'inát; `Abbás Effendi himself was styled the Most Great Branch.

From his first wife, namely, Navvábih, another son was also born to Bahá'u'lláh, named Mírzá Mihdí and designated the Purest Branch. He passed away in Acre during the lifetime of his Father, Bahá'u'lláh, in A.H. 1286 [1870 C.E.] at the age of nineteen.[6]
The second wife of Bahá'u'lláh, who was known or titled Mahd-`Ulyá, bore Bahá'u'lláh three sons: first, Mírzá Muhammad-`Alí, titled the Greater Branch; second, Mírzá Badí`u'lláh; and third, Mírzá Ḑíyá'u'lláh.[7] After the passing of their father, a fierce disagreement took place among these three brothers and their fourth brother, `Abbás Effendi, over the matter of successorship. The followers of `Abbás Effendi were called Thábitín [the steadfast] and the partisans of the other three brothers Náqiḍín [the Covenant-breakers].

The third wife of Bahá'u'lláh, known as Gawhar Khánum, was commonly referred to as the Haram-i-Káshí [the Káshí wife]. She bore Bahá'u'lláh a daughter named Furúghíyyih.
In mid-1908, when a revolt took place in the Ottoman Empire and Sultan `Abdu'l-Hamíd was dismissed from the throne, all prisoners and exiles other than common-law criminals were freed, including `Abbás Effendi, who during Ramaḍán A.H. 1328 (1910 C.E.) left the city of Acre and began traveling to various parts [of the world]. He first went to Egypt, from there to Switzerland, and thence to London and Paris, returning to Egypt. From there, at the beginning of the year 1912 C.E., he journeyed to North America, arriving in New York in the middle of the year. After traveling and speaking in many North American cities, he returned at the end of that same year to Europe, arriving on 14 December in Liverpool. From there, in 1913, he traveled to many other European countries, including Germany, Austria, and Hungary, and by the middle of the year returned to Egypt and from there went to Haifa. From that date forward he selected Haifa as opposed to Acre as his headquarters. In sum, the travels of `Abdu'l-Bahá, which began at Ramadán A.H. 1329 [1911 C.E.] when he first went from Palestine to Egypt and then to Europe and America, until Muharram A.H. 1332 [December 1913 C.E.] when he returned to Palestine took a total of two years, three months, and some days. The passing of `Abbás Effendi took place in Haifa on 27 Rabi`u'l-Avval A.H. 1340, corresponding to 28 November 1921 C.E., at the age of seventy-eight according to solar reckoning and eighty based on lunar years. He was interred next to the resting place of the Báb on Mount Carmel overlooking the city of Haifa.[8]

After the passing of `Abbás Effendi — as both his sons had passed away in childhood, and he was not survived by a male descendant — his successor in leading the Bahá'ís in accordance with his own Will and Testament was a grandson, Shoghi Effendi, a son of Ḑiyá'íyyih Khánum, daughter of `Abdu'l-Bahá and the wife of Áqá Mírzá Hádí, son of Áqá Siyyid Husayn, the son of Hájí Mírzá `Abu'l-Qásim (who was a brother-in-law of the Báb). Shoghi Effendi was a graduate of Oxford University in England.[9] He was born in A.H. 1314 [1897 C.E.]. At the time of `Abdu'l-Bahá's passing he was still at Oxford. His family urgently requested him to return at once to Haifa, but due to distance he arrived a month after `Abdu'l-Bahá's passing. Therefore, if we have correctly recorded the date of his birth, at present — that is, Esfand of 1327 Sh. [Islamic solar year; March 1949], he must be fifty-four years old [fifty-two solar years]. source

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Hands of the Cause of God

The Journey Of Mulla Husayn

Mulla Husayn was born in 1813 in Bushruyih in northern Iran. He attended the primary school which was called “maktab” those days. The pupils were taught reading and writing and enough mathematics to know how to add, subtract, and divide. The students also learned how to memorize passages from the Qur’an, in original Arabic, by repetition – without really understanding their meaning and significance. It was considered meritorious to be able to read the words of the Qur’an, especially at the tombs of the dead. 
At the age of twelve, Mulla Husayn finished his studies in his home town of Bushruyih and went to the nearby city of Mashhad, the most prestigious center of religious study in Iran, to pursue his religious studies at a seminary. To be accepted to such religious seminaries one had to show genuine interest and aptitude. These seminaries, known as “madrisih” consisted of some buildings around a courtyard, with pools, wells, and sometimes gardens. Professors and students generally lived at such madrisih’s. There was no fixed course of study. Each professor would teach a subject, while his students would sit on a mat around him. The students would listen, ask questions and discuss their views.
Mulla Husay’s parents, realizing his great spiritual capacities, were happy that their son would follow the path of religion and become a mujtahid,(A Muslim Doctor of Law) thereby honoring the family. But we do not know what was in the mind of the young Mulla Husayn. We do know that, in Mashhad, Mulla Husayn did not bow to the ideas of his professors. Soon he became attracted to the unorthodox ideas of Shaykh Ahmad and became a follower of Shaykh Ahmad’s successor, Siyyid Kazim. He corresponded with the latter, who lived and taught in Iraq, and his desire to meet him grew. Perhaps his heart told him that the Siyyid was more than just a scholar who could teach him the outward laws of religion.
It should be noted that at that time there was much speculation in Iran about the coming of the promised Qa’im – the promised one of the Shi’ih. In towns and villages of Iran, seers and sages called the people to prepare themselves for that great day. There were different expectations as to what things need to happen and how to prepare oneself for that great Advent. Mulla Husayn looked to Siyyid Kazim to unravel this mystery. He decided to journey to Iraq to study with his master.
Since the capital city Tihran is located on the way from Mashhad to Karbala in Iraq, Mulla Husayn stayed there for a while. But while there, he received the news that his father had died in Bushruyih, and he had to return to his native town - now with the responsibility of caring for his four younger sisters and brothers, some of whom were very young. But he would not remain there long as he felt the urge to leave directly for Karbala in Iraq.
While he was preparing to leave, it is reported that Mulla Husayn had a dream. He was in the presence of Muhammad, the Prophet of Islam, who looked at him gently. Muhammad called him to approach and took him in His arms like a kind father. The Prophet then put His lips over those of Mulla Husayn. Suddenly Mulla Husay felt his mouth was filled with so much water that it began to flow out, as if a great ocean had burst forth from his mouth, filling the whole world.
When he awoke, he was perplexed by this dream. But his relatives were certain that it was a sign of great knowledge and attainment in life, that he would obtain the highest rank in the religious hierarchy, would become a great mujtahid (a Muslim Doctor of Law), and would fill the world with his wisdom.
As preparation for departure was underway his family observed a new expression on the face of Mulla Husayn and a mood of rapture about him. The entire family decided to accompany him to Karbala. They sold some of their property in the village and left. Only one of his sisters, Khadijih, who had already married remained at home.
Thus began Mulla Husayn’s journey to Iraq to meet his master Siyyid Kazim, one of the the two forerunners of the Báb. This was 1831 and Mulla Husayn was only 18 years old! 
(Adapted from ‘Mulla Husayn – Disciple at Dawn’, by R. Mehrabkhani)

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

How To Pray?

Abdu’l-Baha, the role model for Baha’is, traveled to New York early in the 20th century. 

One day he invited an eager follower to his quarters to teach the man to pray.  His guest arrived at 6:00 a.m. and found Abdu’l-Baha deep in prayer at his bedside. He knelt opposite Abdu’l-Baha and began to pray. He ticked off every priority on his prayer list, then he became distracted by cracks in the wall, birds outside, and his aching back. 

After two hours, he finally gazed at Abdu’l-Baha’s face and saw it shining with the radiance of deep communion with the divine. He suddenly longed for a prayer “beyond the murmur of syllables and sounds” as the Baha’i prayers describe this state. 

He longed to feel the sense of devotion he had witnessed. He received an immediate answer to his request, and enjoyed a few moments of exquisite prayer, grateful for this sweet lesson on “how to pray.”