- Ayyam-i-Ha is a Baha’i festival that is joyously celebrated in countries and territories all over the world. It is a time of hospitality, generosity, and caring for the needy. This year Ayyam-i-Ha runs from February 26-29.
When my husband and I married eight years ago we were given a print of an illumined prayer of Abdu’l-Baha’s. The prayer, found in Star of the West, reads:
My home is the home of peace. My home is the home of joy and delight. My home is the home of laughter and exultation. Whomsoever enters through the portals of this home, must go out with gladsome heart. 
How to create a home of peace is a subject of a lifetime’s study and meditation but these are my meager thoughts to date.
It goes without saying that a tranquil dwelling depends upon spiritual qualities: unity, consultation on all matters, kindness and consideration, a lack of backbiting, loyalty and chastity between marriage partners, respect, gratitude and obedience on the part of children, and patience, humility and generosity on the part of the parents. And the list goes on. However, I think there are also tangible elements to creating a home of peace: beauty, a space for prayer and hospitality.
When my younger brother returned home after his service at the World Centre I noticed that he cared a lot more about the beauty of his surroundings and about having aesthetically pleasing objects around him – nothing lavish, just small lovely tokens to look at. The Holy Places and their gardens in Haifa and Akka are powerful examples of beautiful environments thus created to both reflect the importance of the space they beautify, but also to affect their visitors’ souls. The pages of Baha’i history also teach us about beauty. For example, the following was recorded about the Bab:
Even His clothing and the furnishings of His simple house were marked by a degree of refinement that seemed to reflect the inner spiritual beauty that so powerfully attracted His visitors. 
In the Persian Bayan, the Bab said that refinement is so important that if you were to build a house and you didn’t make it as perfect as possible, angels would be tormented because we bear the responsibility of bringing this world to perfection. 
Everyone’s sense of beauty is different, as are our material means with which we beautify our homes. But whether our style is mid-century modern or we own no decorative objects to speak of, one universal means to beauty is cleanliness and tidiness. Abdu’l-Baha exhorted one couple to make their home “orderly and well organized” and with those qualities comes an inherent refinement. 
2. A Space for Prayer
By its very nature, a home is a material place with material things. In a letter to an individual believer, the Guardian wrote:
The task of bringing up a Baha’i child, as emphasized time and again in the Baha’i writings, is the chief responsibility of the mother, whose unique privilege is indeed to create in her home such conditions as would be most conducive to both his material and spiritual welfare and advancement. 
Ensuring a child’s material welfare is pretty straightforward: is there food to eat? Is there shelter from the elements? Clothing for our bodies? Ensuring that a home is conducive to spiritual advancement is a different kettle of fish.
Did you ever read Brilliant Stars magazine as a child? I loved it and I remember in one issue they encouraged their readers to create a prayer corner in their bedrooms. Which I did… but it didn’t last in our many subsequent moves. The concept of creating a space to pray, however, has stuck with me. A good friend of mine, for example, has a photograph of the Shrine of Baha’u’llah in her home. It is placed in the direction of the Qiblih so that everyone is reminded in a beautiful but subtle way of which direction to turn to when saying their obligatory prayers. My husband’s parents keeps prayer books lined up on the mantelpiece of their family room so that they are easily accessible whenever the occasion for devotions arises. Abdu’l-Baha said,
Know thou of a certainly that every house wherein the anthem of praise is raised to the Realm of Glory in celebration of the Name of God is indeed a heavenly home, and one of the gardens of delight in the Paradise of God. 
When we were first married, I was pretty excited to host people and to have dinner parties. But I think my truest hospitality has service to the Faith as its cornerstone. Whether it is providing a space for study circles, devotionals, junior youth groups, Spiritual Assemblies or committees to meet or whether it is providing a place to sleep for out-of-town believers who are attending regional conferences, or whether it is opening our door to musicians and artists to create art within the walls of our home – this is when I have felt truly hospitable (even though one of our “coffee houses” had no coffee to speak of!). I am reminded of these words of Baha’u’llah:
Blessed is the house that hath attained unto My tender mercy, wherein my remembrance is celebrated, and which is ennobled by the presence of My loved ones, who have proclaimed My praise, cleaved fast to the cord of My grace and been honoured by chanting My verses. Verily they are the exalted servants whom God hath extolled in the Quyyum-l-Asma and other scriptures. Verily He is the All-Hearing, the Answerer, He who perceiveth all things. 
With service as its hallmark, true hospitality is also welcoming friends into your home and having elevated conversations or sharing a prayer with them.
These thoughts are all at the forefront of my mind as this week, my husband and I moved into a new home. As I unpack boxes and decide where to place our sentimental tokens, I pray that the Master’s words on that wedding gift will be manifested. What do you think makes a home of peace?
 Star of the West, vol. 9, no. 3, 28 April 1918, p. 40
 Martin, Douglas. “The Mission of the Bab: Retrospective 1844-1944”. The Baha’i World: 1994-95. P.240
 Gate of the Heart, Nader Saiedi, p. 317
 Family Life, compiled by the Research Department of the Universal House of Justice, p. 23
 Ibid, p. 33
 Ibid, p. 14
 Ibid, p. 2
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