What are the Ridvan Baha’i Elections?

Every year, Baha’is the world over gather in their local communities on the first day of Ridvan to elect the nine members of their Local Spiritual Assembly. Every adult Baha’i at the age of 21 is eligible to be voted for, and they have the responsibility to participate and vote for these nine members of the community who will volunteer their time to run the administrative affairs and assist in the spiritual well-being of their respective local communities for the year ahead.

When one thinks of elections, perhaps for many of us what immediately comes to mind are political parties and candidates, expensive campaigns, televised debates, the digging up of dirt on the opposing party, and copious amounts of campaign flyers and confetti.

This is not the case however with Baha’i elections. There are no political parties or independent candidates. Rather than debates, there is community consultation. Rather than smear campaigns, there is encouragement and accompaniment. Rather than campaign flyers and confetti, there are prayers and personal meditation. Continue reading

Baha’i Elections: 3 Steps to Becoming an Intelligent and Well-Informed Elector

Over the next few months, Baha’is around the world will attend their unit conventions and elect individuals to serve as delegates at the upcoming National Conventions. These elected representatives will then go on to elect members of each National Spiritual Assembly.

Unique to the Baha’i Faith is its process of electing competent souls to serve in various capacities. It is democratic in every sense of the word: there is no campaigning, voting is conducted by secret ballot, and whether we are electing our unit delegate, the members of our Local Spiritual Assemblies or the members of the Regional Baha’i Councils, the electoral process stays the same all around the world.

Further contributing to the uniqueness of the Baha’i electoral process are the duties required of us as electors before, during and even after the election period. It is quite easy for us to forget these points and fall in the habit of casting our votes on election day without giving enough thought to who we are voting for and why, and without taking a meditative approach.

Based on the writings of the Universal House of Justice and the Guardian, I have split my interpretation of these writings into three steps. Continue reading

Delegates Cast Ballots to Elect Universal House of Justice

This video, produced by the Baha’i World News Service, describes the election process at the heart of the 12th International Baha’i Convention held in Haifa, Israel. In a rarefied and spiritual atmosphere, representatives of more than 160 national Baha’i communities cast their ballots for the election for the international governing body of the worldwide Baha’i community, the Universal House of JusticeContinue reading

Taking the Politics Out of Politics

(Photo courtesy: planolight via Flickr)

pol·i·tics

n.
1. The art or science of government or governing, especially the governing of a political entity, such as a nation, and the administration and control of its internal and external affairs.
2. Intrigue or manoeuvring within a political unit or group in order to gain control or power

The fact that the word “politics” – once used simply to refer to the act of governing – has come to acquire the additional meaning listed above says a lot about the world we live in. This definition reflects the assumption that the act of governance in a country or organisation is inseparable from divisiveness, conflict and the struggle for power and status.

But is that necessarily the case?

Continue reading

International Convention and the Election of the Universal House of Justice

The Seat of the Universal House of Justice in Haifa, Israel (Photo courtesy Adib Roy via Flickr).

As Baha’i’s around the world continue to celebrate the 12 days of Ridvan, and local Baha’i communities in cities, towns and villages elect their Local Spiritual Assemblies, an important event, which only takes place once every five years is currently underway in Haifa, Israel: The election of the Universal House of Justice. Continue reading

Unity: The Promise of Ridvan

Today, Baha’is around the world commemorate the 12th and final day of Ridvan – a period to reflect on the day Baha’u’llah first proclaimed His message of unity to the world.

Ridvan is also the time when Baha’i elections are held. These elections are a time at which Baha’i communities all around the world prayerfully reflect on the spiritual wellbeing of their community. It is also a time to reflect on Baha’u’llah’s vision for unity and for communities to think about the path of service they will tread together over the coming year in their efforts to realise this vision.

What does unity mean, however, in a world in which prejudice and conflict are still widespread? And what role does the Baha’i community have in fostering global unity?

Continue reading

Delegates Celebrate Ridvan Festival in Bahji

This short video produced by the Baha’i World News Service highlights how 2,000 guests from around the world celebrated the ninth day of Ridvan in Bahji, Israel. These guests comprised the delegates from over 160 countries attending the 12th International Baha’i Convention for the election of the Universal House of Justice. Many of the delegates wore the distinctive dress of their country or people, representing the remarkable diversity of the worldwide Baha’i community.  Continue reading

150 Years of Ridvan and Counting: Celebrating Like a Baha’i

“Going anywhere special for The Festival this year?”

“Usually we spend Paradise at home, but this year we’re going on a 12-day luxury cruise to Baghdad.”

“Really? Oh, I’m jealous. My husband just can’t miss the Ridvan golf junket in Las Vegas, so it’s going to be more reading and pomegranate tea by the pool for me…”

No, I haven’t heard many conversations like this at devotionals or reflection meetings, either! (And aren’t we lucky? Our Holy Days still focus on the holy part.) Still, it is the Most Great Festival, and who knows what it will be in futures that more or less distantly shine in our imaginations? As with the 19 Day Feast, so with Ridvan: we have only the barest notion of how to celebrate them. As with everything, we’re learning, and nothing stops our education more quickly than the thought that we know how to celebrate our festivals and nineteen-day spiritual gatherings. They will be “unimaginably glorious”, as the Guardian might have said, but for now we do the best we can. Continue reading

Just Launched: Official Website for the Universal House of Justice

Official Universal House of Justice website
Baha’i Blog is so excited to share the news of the launch of the new official website for the Universal House of Justice, the governing body of the international Baha’i community.

The website provides general information about the Universal House of Justice and it also provides selected statements and letters that have been written by, or prepared under its supervision, such as Who Is Writing the Future? and the 2002 Letter to the World’s Religious Leaders. Continue reading

6 Reasons to Steer Clear of Partisan Politics

In the United States, the conclusion of the summer Olympics also means we’re fast approaching another presidential election. In fact, the way various elections are staggered, we’re never more than a few months away from an election of some kind. Perhaps in your country, you too are blessed to have the freedom to elect your governmental leaders. It’s a precious and hard-won human right that the whole world is destined to exercise.

Democracy is a core value of Baha’i life. The way in which we govern our own affairs is deeply democratic. We elect our leaders from the bottom of the administrative order to the very top. But we do it all without campaigning. We don’t put our own names or those of others up for election, and likewise we don’t engage in negative self-campaigning to remove ourselves from consideration. Baha’is simply and prayerfully vote for a slate of people they believe will best serve the community, and, in the case of Spiritual Assemblies, the nine top vote-getters are elected. Continue reading

The Poems of Ruhiyyih Khanum after the Passing of Shoghi Effendi

In 1995 Ruhiyyih Khanum published poems she had written after the death in 1957 of her husband, Shoghi Effendi, who had been the head of the Baha’i Faith for 36 years.

On the dust jacket of her book, Poems of the Passing, she explains what she wanted to achieve by finally making the verses public.

It is the author’s ardent hope that in sharing them with others they may echo the grief of separation in this world from our loved ones, and the confident hope of reunion with them in an eternal realm of spiritual progress and mercy.

Anybody expecting an easy journey with gentle poems of love and light and describing a calm acceptance of death is in for a big surprise. Amatu’l-Baha Ruhiyyih Khanum, who passed away 15 years ago, was unflinching in her realistic approach to life, and she applied the same approach to these poems.

In emotionally wrenching and spiritually challenging verses, she uses her sublime literary skills to lay bare an incandescent agony caused by the loss of her beloved.

So deep, so harrowing is the raw pain she describes – at one point writing of the “unspeakable poison of grief” — many people may find it difficult to keep on reading despite the great artistic beauty of the poetry. Tears are likely. Continue reading