Drawing Closer to the Bab in the Bicentenary Year of His Birth: Some Personal Thoughts

I was speaking recently with a cute five-year old, and our conversation turned from the TV show Paw Patrol to the bicentenary of the Birth of the Bab. I asked him his thoughts on how we could celebrate the 200th anniversary of the Birth of the Bab, and he said: “We should make a nice card for His birthday and tell Him that He is the best Bab we have ever had!”

Aside from being amusing, from the perspective of the theology of the Islamic Dispensation, I thought he was kind of right; from what I’ve learned there actually have been several “babs”, or “gates” (in Shiite Islam it is believed that several historical figures called “gates” acted as intermediaries to the Promised One). So, in this special year, how can we draw closer to the Bab who was the “King of the Messengers”, “the Primal Point round Whom the realities of all the Prophets circle in adoration”, the “Founder of the Dispensation marking the culmination of the six thousand year old Adamic Cycle, Inaugurator of the five thousand century Baha’i Cycle”, “The Primal Point from which have been generated all created things”? Continue reading

‘Stories From the Dawn-Breakers’ by William Sears Is Available Again

I grew up listening to William Sears read some of the stories from The Dawn-Breakers for children and I am delighted that I can now share that same recording with my own kids. Zoe Meyer originally wrote Stories from the Dawn-Breakers and William Sears’ reading of it is warm, captivating and charming — which makes it a fantastic resource for children and junior youth.

Restored and remastered in honor of the upcoming bicentenary of the Birth of the Bab, the US Baha’i Book Distribution Service now has the four disc set available for purchase.

If you’d like to read more about The Dawn-Breakers, we shared an article that introduces that priceless historical text here on Baha’i BlogContinue reading

Louis Venters’s Book About the History of the Baha’i Faith in South Carolina

Louis Venters is a historian and historic preservationist with a particular interest in the histories of race, religion, and social change in the United States. He has just released a new book titled A History of the Baha’i Faith in South Carolina and it features some incredible photographs.

I first met Louis in West Africa when I was a junior youth — many more years ago than I’d care to admit! My family was pioneering in Benin and he was completing a year of service in Togo and Benin. I learned some valuable lessons from Louis about speaking truthfully, lovingly and at times courageously, about being a Baha’i. I feel really honoured that our paths have crossed again, and I am grateful for the opportunity to learn from his experiences once more. Here’s what he shared about his new book:

Baha’i Blog: Can you tell us a little about yourself?

I was born and raised in South Carolina, and I became a Baha’i in the late 1980s when I was a junior youth. In fact I first heard about the Faith on Radio Baha’i WLGI, the station that broadcasts from the Louis G. Gregory Baha’i Institute, so in that sense I’m a product of the large-scale growth that made South Carolina such an important part of the American Baha’i community in the 1970s and 1980s. I teach African and African diaspora history, U.S. history, and public history at Francis Marion University, a small public institution in Florence, South Carolina. I also do some public history work, especially through Preservation South Carolina and the state’s African American Heritage Commission. One of the public history projects I’m proudest of is the Green Book of South Carolina, a new mobile travel guide to African American heritage sites across the state. When I’m not being a historian, more often than not it’s my wife and me trying to keep up with our two little boys and serve in our cluster. Otherwise, I’m either at the gym lifting weights or outside running or working in our garden.

Continue reading

Hasten Baha’i Women – A New Resource-Rich Website

A new website appeared on the horizon a few months ago that caught my eye with its beautiful graphics and elevated purpose. Hasten Baha’i Women is full of resources: questions to ponder based on the Baha’i Writings, stories of Baha’i women both historical and contemporary, music, free printables, videos, recipes, and much more! Once you start exploring the site, it’s easy to get lost in the sea of elevated and helpful content!

Bre Vader and Jaleh Mostaghim are the sister-duo behind the site and I’m so grateful they agreed to tell us about it: Continue reading

Linking Motherhood, Service, and Happiness

Motherhood is described in the Baha’i Writings as a vital and elevated role. Being a mother is a noble aspiration and undertaking. Abdu’l-Baha tells us:

O ye loving mothers, know ye that in God’s sight, the best of all ways to worship Him is to educate the children and train them in all the perfections of humankind; and no nobler deed than this can be imagined.

In honor of Mother’s Day in North America, and based on an online course called “Embracing a Spiritual Identity of Motherhood” we recently gave through the Wilmette Institute, we’ve been reflecting on the role of motherhood and its links to service and true happiness.  Continue reading

Baha’i Prayerbook for Children Created by Englisi Farsi

Englisi Farsi is a wonderful resource for parents who wish to teach their children Persian (Farsi), the language of Iran, even if they can’t read or write the language themselves. Using the familiar phonetics of the English alphabet, the learning aid includes a series of lively e-books with an interactive audio and pronunciation guide, giving anyone who reads and speaks English a entryway to the rich and lyrical language that is Farsi. Created by Mona Kiani, Englisi Farsi includes colorful books for young children about animals, virtues, fruits and vegetables. They also have a Baha’i prayer book as well! Mona shared with us how she created these books and about the process of putting together the prayer book. Here’s our conversation:

Baha’i Blog: Hi Mona! Could you please tell us a little about yourself and Englisi Farsi?

I am an English-speaking Australian of Iranian descent with a Singaporean spouse of mixed ethnicity. We are currently speaking Persian and Mandarin to our son. While I could converse fluently in Farsi, I was not fully acquainted with the Persian written word. That is, untiI I started this journey!

I knew in my heart that I wanted my son to know Farsi. My language defines who I am and, in turn, who he is or will be. I wanted my son to have a good start. But I couldn’t find any resource that didn’t require me to master the Persian alphabet. After a period of futile searching, I decided to develop my own teaching tools in Pinglish/Finglish (Farsi in English) for my son — and my husband as well as the English-speaking wives of my Persian brothers.

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The European Baha’i Choral Festival

Participants of the 2017 European Baha'i Choral Festival gather outside the European Baha'i House of Worship in Germany. (Photo: Zarrin Munusamy)

In a few weeks (May 29-June 2), participants from across Europe will come together at the European Baha’i House of Worship in Germany, to join voices and take part in the European Baha’i Choral Festival! This is the second year the event is taking place, and besides the singing and sharing of glorious music with others, the event aims to strengthen the bonds of fellowship and harmony amongst Baha’is and their friends across Europe.

I caught up with the festival’s musical director, Ameli Dziemba, to find out more about the event and to hear about her experiences: Continue reading

Who Were the Letters of the Living?

The Letters of the Living is the title given by the Bab to His first 18 followers. The Bab was a merchant from Shiraz, Persia. His name was Siyyid Ali-Muhammad Shirazi, but He is known to the world as the Bab, which means “the Gate” in Arabic, and Baha’is believe that He was the symbolic gate between past ages of prophecy and a new age of fulfilment for humanity. When the Bab was 25, He proclaimed to be both a new Prophet, and the herald to “Him Whom God Shall Make Manifest”, Baha’u’llah. Continue reading

Filming the Opening of the Baha’i Temple in Colombia: An Interview with Laura and Kyle

The film team for the dedication of the Baha'i House of Worship in Norte del Cauca, Colombia. From left to right are Kyle Schmalenberg, Nabil Sami Silva, Laura Friedmann, Raul Cavalcanti Spinassé, and Naim Sadeghian.

Like all Baha’i Blog team members, Laura Friedmann and Kyle Schmalenberg wear many hats and serve their communities in a variety of capacities. Owing to their wealth of media experience, they were invited, along with a few others, to document the opening of the House of Worship in Norte del Cauca, Colombia. You may remember this short film about the preparations that were made, this video of the opening ceremony, or this aerial footage of the gorgeous Temple.

Kyle and Laura shared some of their experiences and impressions about working on this project and we thought you’d be as uplifted by the conversation as we were!  Continue reading