June 18, 2023 will mark 40 years since 10 Baha’i women were hanged in Shiraz. Their only ‘crime’ was their refusal to renounce their beliefs in a faith that promotes the principles of gender equality, unity, justice, and truthfulness. This collection highlights Baha’i Blog content relating to the ongoing persecution of Baha’is in Iran.
The month of Dominion is the second to last month of the Baha’i calendar. Dominion means to have absolute ruling or controlling power. In our physical world it is often used to refer to absolute power over things of limited duration—countries, people, cities…but in the Baha’i Writings, Dominion is used to refer to spiritual power, and the domain of this power is the human heart. Baha’u’llah says:
He hath refused to reserve for Himself any share whatever of this world’s dominion. To this He Who is Himself the Eternal Truth will testify. The things He hath reserved for Himself are the cities of men’s hearts, that He may cleanse them from all earthly defilements, and enable them to draw nigh unto the hallowed Spot which the hands of the infidel can never profane. Open, O people, the city of the human heart with the key of your utterance. 1
The Dominion of God has no end because unlike cities and countries, the human soul’s life is not confined to the physical realm, but continues to progress for all eternity, even after the body has been laid to rest. It is a power that is at once so immense that it is far beyond our capacity to truly comprehend it, and somehow simultaneously uplifting and reassuring in the inviolable truth of its existence. The Bab tells us that “His celestial dominion is exalted far above every other dominion.” 2 Celestial is not a word paired with dominion very often because it means heavenly, which is associated with beauty, light and love. And yet Baha’u’llah’s vision for humanity imbues words of earthly power with new meaning and purpose—increasing the magnitude of its potential influence by aligning it with the virtues of justice and loving-kindness, prayerfulness and unquestioned devotion.
The month of Dominion calls upon us to remember that our true power comes not from us but from absolute faith and trust in Him. Baha’u’llah says in His Hidden Words, “Thou art My dominion and My dominion perisheth not; wherefore fearest thou thy perishing?” We are constantly reminded in the Baha’i Writings that all the limitations we perceive to exist in our lives are in fact of our own construction. If we place our trust in God as the Holy Books of the world’s religions have been telling us since the beginning of time, we can accomplish things far beyond what we can imagine.
Were it not for the Baha’i Writings, Dominion would be a state to which I personally would never aspire; it is a station of God and His Manifestations, and possibly of kings and presidents, but not of ordinary human beings. And yet I recently came across a few passages that imply that Dominion is a place or state of being, and not a static station. Baha’u’llah says:
O My Name! The Daystar of utterance, shining resplendent from the dayspring of divine Revelation, hath so illumined the Scrolls and Tablets that the kingdom of utterance and the exalted dominion of understanding vibrate with joy and ecstasy and shine forth with the splendor of His light, yet the generality of mankind comprehend not. 3
That there is a place called the “dominion of understanding” tells me that it is somewhere, something we can all attain, if we strive to gain the spiritual characteristics that define those souls who inhabit it. But in order to reach this place—this “dominion of understanding,” sacrifice is necessary. We must make an effort in our daily choices. In his book, Citadel of Faith, Shoghi Effendi says:
It is…imperative for the individual…believer, and particularly for the affluent, the independent, the comfort-loving and those obsessed by material pursuits, to step forward, and dedicate their resources, their time, their very lives to a Cause of such transcendence that no human eye can even dimly perceive its glory. Let them resolve, instantly and unhesitatingly, to place, each according to his circumstances, his share on the altar of Baha’i sacrifice…
Now if ever is the time to tread the path which the dawn-breakers of a previous age have so magnificently trodden. Now is the time to carry out, in the spirit and in the letter, the fervent wish so pathetically voiced by Abdu’l-Baha, Who longed, as attested in the Tablets of the Divine Plan, to “travel though on foot and in the utmost poverty” and raise “in cities, villages, mountains, deserts and oceans” “the call of Ya-Baha’u’l-Abha!”
Then, and only then, can the members of this community hasten the advent of the day when, as prophesied by His pen, “heavenly illumination” will “stream” from their country “to all the peoples of the world.” Then, and only then will they find themselves “securely established upon the throne of an everlasting dominion.” 4
It is a lofty goal, but it sounds to me as though Shoghi Effendi is telling us that not only are we capable of attaining everlasting dominion—a celestial dominion built upon true understanding and reliance upon God, and not upon self-serving intentions — but that his grandfather, Abdu’l-Baha, who Baha’is consider to be the perfect exemplar, is in fact urging us to take up the challenge to selflessly serve humanity and spread this message of change and transformation. And, if we do, He does not say that we may attain the day in which humanity can finally “attain the throne of an everlasting dominion” 5— He says that we will. If that isn’t a promise of guaranteed success, I don’t know what is.
Ariana Salvo was born in the United States, and spent sixteen years of her childhood on the Mediterranean island of Cyprus. She moved to Prince Edward Island to do her master’s degree in Island Studies, fell in love with the tightly knit community, and has never left. When not writing, she can be found exploring art at galleries around the world, flower farming, traveling to remote islands, hiking and taking photos of the wild natural landscapes of Canada’s eastern shore, teaching English to international students and reading historical fiction with a good cup of tea.
Such a beautiful post! Thank you so much. I’m not familiar with Baha’i writings and this was a wonderful interaction. Inspiring.
Kaz (February 2, 2022 at 11:01 PM)
Thanks so much for taking the time to read and leave a comment. Very happy to hear that it was a positive first experience.
Ariana (February 2, 2022 at 12:35 AM)
Love the connection between sacrifice and attaining the dominion of understanding! A thought-provoking article that captures the heart and enables the reader to ponder further.
Pamela (February 2, 2022 at 1:10 PM)