Shoghi Effendi’s Call for Racial Justice

In The Advent of Divine Justice, Shoghi Effendi laid out a path for the U.S. and Canadian Baha’i communities to contribute to the transformation of their societies, as summarized in introduction to the Advent of Divine Justice. Addressing the United States in particular, he identified “racial prejudice” as “the most vital and challenging issue confronting the Baha’i community,” for this issue permeated the entire nation, which he called “a prey to one of the most virulent and long-standing forms of racial prejudice.”

Though this message was penned in 1938, I believe it remains highly relevant today because the “cancerous growth of racial prejudice” continues to eat into the body politic. “Black Lives Matter”: this basic assertion of human value, proclaimed by the protestors who are filling the streets of U.S. cities, responds to the routine, systematic treatment of People of Color* as disposable. Racism remains “the most vital and challenging issue.” I wish to share with you Shoghi Effendi’s guidance on deconstructing it, along with my reflections as a white person living in the United States. Continue reading

The Advent of Divine Justice: An Introduction

Baha’u’llah proclaimed to humanity that “these great oppressions that have befallen the world are preparing it for the advent of the Most Great Justice.” His teachings lay out a blueprint for establishing a just world civilization founded on international cooperation, and the paramount task of His successors has been to give people around the world access to this blueprint.

To that end, Shoghi Effendi worked tirelessly to build the capacity of Baha’is around the world to share Baha’u’llah’s message. The crucial channel for his guidance was letters to individuals and national bodies alike. The Advent of Divine Justice is one such letter—a particularly powerful one in its rallying cry for Baha’is to engage in a double crusade of improving the self and improving society. Though addressed to the Baha’is in the United States and Canada and written in 1938, its guidance applies to the life of every Baha’i and maintains its relevance today. This article seeks to aid your study of this significant message by commenting on its significance, reviewing its history, and summarizing some of its major themes. Continue reading

175 Years of Persecution: A Book About the History of the Babis & Baha’is of Iran

Oneworld Publications has released a book detailing the persecution of the Baha’is called 175 Years of Persecution: A History of the Babis & Baha’is of Iran by Fereydun Vahman. The book recounts how Iran’s largest religious minority has been persecuted by the state since its inception to the present and such a comprehensive study has never been published before. Baha’is and Babis have been made scapegoats for the nation’s ills, branded enemies of Islam and denounced as foreign agents. Since the Islamic Revolution of 1979 Baha’is have been barred from entering the nation’s universities, more than two hundred have been executed, and hundreds more imprisoned and tortured.

Fereydun Vahman writes that Iran is now at a turning point. A new generation has begun to question how the Baha’is have been portrayed by the government and the clergy, and are calling for them to be given equal rights as fellow citizens. Continue reading

An Interview with Masud Olufani, Host of ‘America’s Most Challenging Issue’ Podcast

Masud Olufani is an African-American multidisciplinary artist, actor and writer currently based in Atlanta, and you may have seen some of his incredible work featured on Baha’i Blog over the years. For instance you may recognize him from his 2018 ABS presentation “The Residue of Memory & The Clarion Call of Truth: Healing Through Reclamation and Art” or his BahaiTeachings.org talk Freeing Ourselves from the the Stain of Racism. He was also featured on their Cloud9 podcast series, and the episode is called Masud Olufani: An Artist Rooted in Justice and Unity.

More recently, Masud teamed up with our friends at BahaiTeachings.org to host a new podcast series called ‘America’s Most Challenging Issue’, and it tackles the subject of racism. As its host, Masud interviews Baha’is throughout the United States who are actively building racial unity by building community.

We reached out to Masud to hear more about the America’s Most Challenging Issue podcast, and here’s what he shared with us: Continue reading

Ellsworth Blackwell and His Commitment to Justice

Ellsworth Blackwell (August 1, 1902 – April 17, 1978). Photo courtesy of the Baha'i International Community. Source: Baha'i World, Vol. 17.

Ellsworth Blackwell (1902 – 1978) was an African-American Baha’i who was dedicated to sharing the principles of the Baha’i Faith in America, Haiti, Madagascar, and Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of the Congo). In this article I would like to share a challenge he faced when confronted with racism within the Baha’i community, and how his commitment to justice, combined with wholehearted co-operation with the governing or administrative bodies of the Baha’i Faith, allowed this instance of prejudice to be resolved while maintaining a unified spirit.

Ellsworth became a Baha’i in 1934, and in 1937 he decided to serve at the Wilmette House of Worship (the Temple was not entirely completed until the 1950s, but it was open to visitors and Baha’is volunteered as tour guides). He had the capacity to be a tour guide, but was informed that it was “policy” that African-Americans could not be tour guides. This example of discrimination was of course not in keeping with the Baha’i teachings on the elimination of prejudice. This quotation from Abdu’l-Baha amply elucidates the Baha’i view:

… as to religious, racial, national and political bias: all these prejudices strike at the very root of human life; one and all they beget bloodshed, and the ruination of the world.

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31 Resources Featured on Baha’i Blog Related to Racism

We wanted to bring together some of the content found on Baha’i Blog related to racism, both materials that the team here at Baha’i Blog has created, and resources put together by others that we’ve featured in our video or audio sections. These resources include articles, interviews, books, talks and presentations that approach racism from a variety of perspectives. Continue reading

Celebrating 5 Years of Baha’i Blog’s YouTube Channel

Baha’i Blog’s Youtube channel just turned five years old, and there’s a lot to celebrate!

We started the Baha’i Blog YouTube channel in order to create high-quality Baha’i-inspired video content, and we’ve been charging ahead ever since! Fast forward five years, and we now have about 600 videos with over five million views and counting! (Woohoo!!!)

If you haven’t done so already, it would be great if you could subscribe to Baha’i Blog’s YouTube channel, and click on the little bell symbol to be notified every time we publish a new video!
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Experience the Baha’i Gardens and the Shrines of the Bab and Baha’u’llah from Home

The gardens surrounding the Shrines of the Bab and Baha’u’llah in Israel are open to the public at designated times and they are visited by more than one million guests every year! In 2008, these unique structures and gardens were inscribed on the UNESCO’s World Heritage List in recognition of their “outstanding universal value” as holy places and places of pilgrimage for followers of the Baha’i Faith.

As a precautionary measure and in compliance with health regulations regarding the coronavirus, the Shrines and their surrounding gardens have been closed. However, www.ganbahai.org.il, which is the official public website for visitor information to these holy places has just launched a new gallery of images and videos, including historical ones, so you can visit these special places from home. You can see them all here: http://gallery.ganbahai.org.il/

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