My Thoughts on References to Wine and Intoxication in the Baha’i Writings

In this article I aim to explore a question which may have occurred to many when reading the Baha’i Writings: why are the terms “wine” and “intoxication” used if drinking alcohol is strictly forbidden to Baha’is? (If you’d like to read more about this topic, this Baha’i Blog article offers a medical perspective on why Baha’is don’t drink alcohol and this article discusses the social implications of this law.)

My question has actually been clearly and concisely answered in a letter of the Guardian written in 1926:

The wine mentioned in the Tablets has undoubtedly a spiritual meaning for in the book of Aqdas we are definitely forbidden to take not only wine, but every thing that deranges the mind. In poetry as a whole wine is taken to have a different connotation than the ordinary intoxicating liquid. We see it thus used by the Persian Poets such as Sa’di and Umar Khayam and Hafiz to mean that element which nears man to his divine beloved, which makes him forget his material self so as better to seek his spiritual desires. It is very necessary to tell the children what this wine means so that they may not confuse it with the ordinary wine.

Inspired by this quotation, I think an exploration of this answer can be a fruitful exercise. To do this I will attempt to provide some historical context to the terms as used in the Writings (although it must be noted I lack the academic background to provide more than the cursory explanation of a layman), and to look at the symbolic meanings of the terms via some quotations from the Writings themselves. Continue reading

Worlds Within: An Album by Danny Stevenson

Danny Stevenson is a friend I met years ago in Namibia, and some of you may recognize him from his Baha’i Blog Studio Session recorded in the UK called “Crimson Ink”. It’s always great to hear when someone who’s participated in our Studio Sessions series goes on to record their first album, so I was excited when I heard that Danny has released Worlds Within, a devotional album inspired by the Baha’i Writings.

I wanted to find out more about the album and the inspiration behind it, so here’s what Danny shared with me: Continue reading

A is for Allah-u-Abha: A Children’s Alphabet Book by Andrea Hope

Andrea Hope is no stranger to the Baha’i Blog team! In the past, we interviewed her about her spoken word (you can read all about it here). Now she has taken her skills with words to create a book for young children called A is for Allah-u-Abha. Illustrated by Winda Mulyasari, this bright and bold book will help little ones learn spiritual qualities, Baha’i concepts and history such as equality, the Fast, and the station of Abdu’l-Baha as our exemplar.

Andrea lovingly shared how her picture book of poetry came together, the process involved, and what she’s working on now. Here’s our conversation:

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

I publish under the name Andrea Hope, which is my first and middle name. “Hope” comes from my great-grandmother, Virginia Hope Jones, who was the first Baha’i in our family and my spiritual guide. Growing up, I was always quite empathetic toward the plight of humanity. At age 11, I found my first solace in writing poetry with lines like, “If the world were full of blind men what a beautiful sight it would be … we’d be forced to feel, not see.” I remember wondering as a junior youth, “Why would God put me on this earth if there was nothing I could do about suffering?” The Baha’i Faith both relieved and empowered me. I have been working for some time to combine my passion for the arts and children’s education with the needs of the Faith. This has included developing children’s programs for holy days, organizing a theatre performance of the children’s book Rooth Sees a Trooth, creating Baha’i Holy Day memory cards, writing a poetry activity book called I Am & I Can, and now, publishing the picture book A is for Allah-u-Abha. Continue reading

The Ocean of Light International School in Tonga

The Baha’i Teachings stress the importance of universal education, and there are countless Baha’i Writings which emphasize the importance of education. Baha’u’llah Writes:

Arts, crafts and sciences uplift the world of being and are conductive to this exaltation. Knowledge is as wings to a man’s life, and a ladder for his ascent. Its acquisition is incumbent upon everyone.

Regard man as a mine rich in gems of inestimable value. Education can, alone, cause it to reveal its treasures, and enable mankind to benefit therefrom.

It’s no wonder, therefore, that numerous educational institutions have been established by Baha’is around the world, and one of these establishments is a school called the “Ocean of Light International School”, located in the South Pacific nation of Tonga.

I caught up with Soheyla Bolouri, who along with her husband Sohrab, live in Tonga and have been serving on the school’s Board of Trustees since the school’s inception in 1996. Here’s what she had to say: Continue reading

Trust: The Music of Nasim Maani

I recently had the pleasure of catching up with a dear friend named Nasim Maani and her family at the 2019 ABS Conference which took place in Canada. Nasim is a dear friend from when I lived in New Zealand years ago, and although she’s not a professional musician by trade, over the years she decided to channel her passion for music and her passion for the Baha’i Faith into creating Baha’i-inspired music.

We’ve featured some of her music videos here on Baha’i Blog in the past, and I was excited to learn that in honor of the bicentenary of the Birth of the Bab this Baha’i year, she released two versions of a new song called “Trust” to commemorate this special occasion.

I decided to catch up with Nasim to find out more about this new song and her music in general: Continue reading

Songs of the Spirit Volume 2 – An Upbeat Album & Songbook for All-Ages by Diana Howlett

Diana Howlett’s upbeat and catchy melodies remind me of singalongs from the summer schools of my childhood and sing along is exactly what she hopes you’ll do! Diana is equally passionate about producing songbooks as she is with creating albums and she releases them jointly. Her music thus far has consisted of devotional music based on the Writings (these albums are called Intone O my Servant) and those that are Baha’i-inspired in their content (such as Songs of the Spirit). Songs of the Spirit Volume 2 is her latest work featuring music about holy days, the history of the Baha’i Faith and concepts such as love and unity.

Diana shared with us about how it all came together. Here’s what we chatted about: Continue reading

Baha’i Blog Presents “Una Serata con NAIM (An Evening with NAIM)”

Baha’i Blog is excited to share a new music initiative called “Una Serata con NAIM” which is Italian for “An Evening with NAIM”.

In this live concert filmed in his hometown of Genoa, Italy, Italian singer and songwriter NAIM takes us on a musical journey where he shares music from his album Libero, and interweaves principles of the Baha’i Faith and the inspiration behind the songs.

A couple of years ago, the team at Baha’i Blog wanted to experiment in creating a music video series called “Baha’i Blog Presents An Evening with…”, where we would film and record live Baha’i-inspired concerts featuring various Baha’i musicians and bands. I had just interviewed NAIM about his album Libero (which you can read here) and he was organizing a concert based on the album. It was as if the stars aligned. He graciously accepted to be the first to help us try out the idea of filming “An Evening with…” and so “Una Serata con NAIM (An Evening with NAIM)” came to life! Continue reading

Sacrifice: Letting Go of the Lower for the Higher

Sacrifice. It sounds like such a harsh word. But that might just be a sign of the times. These days, sacrifice can be seen as unnecessary self-denial. I’ve been thinking about it lately, and it actually seems to me that anyone who wants to accomplish anything difficult cannot do so without sacrifice, especially when it comes to spirituality.

When we think about sacrifice, the story of Abraham being asked to sacrifice his son Isaac to God often comes to mind. Now, there are a multitude of meanings and interpretations to this story which I won’t go into here. But what seems most basic is that Abraham was called to sacrifice his son out of his devotion to God. And to me, that’s what stands at the heart of true sacrifice. We don’t sacrifice things haphazardly or without a purpose: we renounce things as an act of devotion to something higher. But why do we do this? Because those things stand in our way; they are preventing us from attaining the object of our devotion.  Continue reading