New Medical Study on the Baha’i Fast

The team at Baha’i Blog was excited to learn of a new medical study that was conducted specifically on the Baha’i Fast. This mixed methods research project involved specific lab tests and measurements, as well as interviews and questionnaires and it was initiated by Dr. Daniela Koppold and her team in Berlin, Germany. It’s the first time we’ve heard of such a scientific initiative and we were thrilled to find out more!

The Baha’i Writings describe the spiritual benefits of fasting in various passages, but what are the material effects of abstaining from food and drink, from sunrise until sunset, for 19 consecutive days? Dr. Daniela Koppold and her colleagues set out to explore that very question. Here’s what she shared about how they went about their research and what they discovered: Continue reading

26 Prayers Revealed by Abdu’l-Baha Released in Commemoration of the 100th Anniversary of His Passing

We’re excited to share that a selection of 26 prayers prepared by the Research Department of the Universal House of Justice and released in commemoration of the 100th anniversary of Abdu’l-Baha’s passing has just been made available online on the Baha’i Reference Library.

The Baha’i Reference Library offers downloadable and searchable Writings from Baha’u’llah, the Bab, Abdu’l-Baha, Shoghi Effendi, letters and publications of the Universal House of Justice and compilations, such as the recently released compilation on the Universal House of Justice. You can click on “Recent Additions” to see what’s been added to the Baha’i Reference Library.

If you haven’t already, you may wish to subscribe to the Baha’i World News Service, which often reports when new translations are released, as well as documents the activities of the worldwide Baha’i community.
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Standing for the People – A Gospel Album by Win Thompkins

Win Thompkins is a renowned gospel artist who has achieved great success in the music industry. At the tender age of 14, he received his first recording contract with Nashville’s Cross & Crown Records where he and his brothers were discovered by famous country singing star “Zeke Clements”. The rest is history! Since then he has recorded more than 300 songs and ten albums.

The album Standing for the People shares a deeper love for humanity by promoting peace, unity and tolerance through 13 original songs with catchy danceable R&B and inspirational hooks about oneness. His music brings people together. Win’s aspirations and commitment to inspire others and brighten their lives is apparent in the music born of his talents and spiritual qualities.

Win graciously shared with us about his album, his music, and what words of encouragement he might offer others: Continue reading

For the Wellbeing of All: Eliminating the Extremes of Wealth and Poverty – A New Compilation

Bonnie Taylor has compiled a selection of passages on one of the key aims of the Baha’i Faith: the elimination of the extremes of wealth and poverty on a global scale. The excerpts from the Baha’i Writings gathered in her book, titled For the Wellbeing of All: Eliminating the Extremes of Wealth and Poverty, present the vision of a just and unified global civilization that is both materially and spiritually prosperous.

I reached out to Bonnie to hear about her work in compiling this volume, released by the Baha’i Publishing Trust, and I am grateful she took the time to tell us all about it:

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

I grew up in the country in Ohio, and had virtually no contact with people of other races or cultures until I turned 21. That year I signed up to serve as a volunteer under a U.S. government anti-poverty program. This was during the 1960s. As part of our training for service I learned a great deal about the history of slavery in the U.S., the Civil Rights Movement, as well as the history of the Native peoples in this country. I had known very little of this history previously, and it aroused in me an intense aversion to injustice.

After our training, I was stationed on a Native American reserve. It was there that I heard about the Baha’i Faith. I was immediately attracted. I became a Baha’i shortly thereafter, and fell in love with both the content and the eloquence of the Baha’i writings.

My husband and I now live in Northern Illinois. We have a growing multi-racial family that we proudly refer to as “our coat of many colors.”

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Cloud9: Benn Good – From East LA to the Grammys

Cloud9 is a podcast produced by Baha’i Teachings. Its aim is to feature interviews with artists and discuss what inspires them to make a positive contribution to the world. In this episode, Baha’i Teachings’ arts editor Shadi Toloui-Wallace interviews Benn Good or Benny Cassette, who signed to a major record label at the age of 18, has produced music and collaborated with John Legend, Kanye West, Sza, Miguel, Allen Stone, and countless other prominent musicians who dominate the charts today. Continue reading

Why & How Do Baha’is Pray?

Photo courtesy of the Baha'i International Community

Prayer is an integral component of Baha’i life. It is the very foundation upon which our lives as spiritual beings are built. In my opinion, without prayer, we weaken the vessel which acts as our connection to the divine realm and revert to being physical beings living a solely physical life.

There are many different settings in which we can pray as Baha’is. But before we delve into some of these, it is important to explore what prayer is. Continue reading

John Birks “Dizzy” Gillespie: A Man, a Trumpet, and a Journey to Bebop – A Book for Junior Youth & Young Readers

Bellwood Press has created a series of books for junior youth and young readers called the Change Maker series which tells the true stories of individuals who worked to bring about positive social change. So far the series includes three titles: Robert Sengstacke Abbott: A Man, a Paper, and a Parade; John Birks “Dizzy” Gillespie: A Man, a Trumpet, and a Journey to Bebop; and Richard St. Barbe Baker: Child of the Trees.

Susan Engle authored the first two titles, and I wanted to hear more from her about the book about Dizzy Gillespie (you may also remember Susan from when she shared all about her enchanting tiny books). Susan is a delight and I hope you enjoy this conversation:

Baha’i Blog: Can you tell us a little bit about who Dizzy Gillespie was?

If you had lived in his neighborhood when he was a child, you might have heard his family and neighbors calling out, using his first two names as is a southern tradition, “John Birks, sit a spell, why don’t you?” He was constantly on the move. When he was in elementary school, he was provided with a trombone for a small school band. From then on, he channeled most of his energy into playing music. Since his arms were too short to play all the notes on trombone, he would often borrow a neighbor’s trumpet, taking turns with Brother Harrington, practicing for hours at a time. As he grew and became better and better, finally leaving South Carolina for Philadelphia and New York City in his teens, he had years of playing and working out sounds and keys for trumpet tunes under his belt.

Trying out for the Freddie Fairfax Band when he was about 18, one of the band members said, “That dizzy little cat’s from down South.” The nickname “Dizzy” stuck. By the time he had helped bring about a new style of jazz called Bebop, performed for more than one President of the United States, traveled around the world for the State Department, and recorded dozens of records, Dizzy was well-known and loved—not only by many of his fellow musicians, but by jazz fans across the U.S. and around the world. He had many official and unofficial titles, including “King of the Trumpet,” “Ambassador of Jazz,” and “Diz the Wiz.” By the end of his life, he had also received many awards including 14 honorary degrees, a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Grammys, and the Kennedy Center Honors. He even has a star on the Walk of Fame in Hollywood, California.

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John Birks “Dizzy” Gillespie: A Luminous Quality, a Distinguished Life

Dizzy Gillespie (October 21, 1917 – January 6, 1993). Photo courtesy of Roland Godefroy, accessed from Wikimedia Commons.

From childhood, John Birks Gillespie—famously nicknamed “Dizzy” in his teens—stood out: in his school, in his family, among his musical colleagues. According to Mrs. Wilson, his third-grade teacher, she would say to him, “John, do you have your lessons?” He would reply, “‘Yeah, I got it, I got it, Mrs. Wilson, I got it.’ And when the time for recitations came, he would know it. How? I don’t know, because he wouldn’t study.” Continue reading