How to Build a Fast, Free Website For Your Baha’i Group, Community or Event

Maybe it’s because I’m a web designer, but people often ask me how they can get a website up. It used to be that to do this you needed to either really enjoy tinkering with things like HTML and domain names, or you’d have to go and hire a web designer. But it’s 2011 and now there are plenty of really easy to use services that will get you up and running in no time.

Of course if you have a very specific or complex specification of how you want your site to work or look then you are probably going to end up needing a professional still. But if you just need a website to provide information or a blog then that’s a piece of cake! Continue reading

Common Questions: What Proof Is There That God Exists?

Image be floridapfe (Flickr)

Ever so often, we’ll be putting up posts for our ‘Common Questions Series’. As the name suggests, these are questions about the Faith that we often get. You know those ones – where you kinda, sorta, maybe know the answer but aren’t sure if you know enough to give the asker a full response? Yeah, those ones. Baha’i Blog has decided to make a collection of those questions, which will hopefully be as helpful to you, our readers, as it is to us!

The question of God’s existence is fundamental to a number of life’s bigger questions. Where do we come from? What is the purpose of life? What happens when we die? Belief in some sort of spiritual realm has been present in human societies from about 130,000 years ago and has persisted through the ages in all human cultures.

Different religious teachings have presented us with different understandings of God. In Christianity, God is understood as the ‘Heavenly Father’. In Judaism, God’s attributes as a life-giver, authority figure and protector are emphasised. In Zoroastrianism, God is understood as the omniscient creator of truth and guardian of justice. In some understandings of Hinduism, there are many different personal gods, all representing a different attribute of one supreme, universal Spirit.

In modern times, however, growing scientific knowledge about our universe and its origins, along with the clash of religious beliefs and growing religious fanaticism, have seen a renewed questioning of the existence of God. Traditional religious explanations of the origin of our life and the purpose of our existence no longer satisfy people as these ideas are increasingly scrutinised in the context of our modern societies. Where we formerly lacked scientific knowledge and used God to “fill the gaps”, science is now beginning to replace religion as a source of answers. Many people are now turning wholly to science, and not religion, to understand the nature of our reality.
Continue reading

Writing a Baha’i Will

Photo by Sean M Scully

It might feel a little morbid thinking about your will but it turns out that writing one is something every Baha’i must do in their lifetime. I discovered this recently when the birth of my first son inspired me to think about the future a little more than I normally do. I discovered that writing a will is in fact a law from the Kitab-i-Aqdas.

It’s a good thing too, because apparently here in Australia if you have no will in certain circumstances everything you own will go back to the state! Yikes!

Because a will is a legal document, it’s important to remember to seek some proper legal advice before drawing one up. You can buy templated will kits, but for me it was nice to have someone qualified doing the work rather than bungling it up myself accidentally – not that I’d ever know!

Continue reading

The Martyrdom of the Bab and Jesus Christ

Photo: Courtesy of the Baha'i International Community

As Baha’is, we believe that the foundation of all the divine religions is one. Ever so often, we’ll be putting up posts for our ‘Changeless Faith Series’, in which we look closer at some of the similarities between the divine religions, in an attempt to more fully understand what Baha’u’llah meant when he said “This is the changeless Faith of God, eternal in the past, eternal in the future”.

Why do the Prophets of God go through hardships and, in some cases, even martyrdom? Perhaps the real question is: why has humanity persecuted every single Manifestation or Prophet of God throughout history? As a history major with a keen interest in both religion and history, these are two questions that have always fascinated me to the point of utter wonderment.

There are only two Manifestations that we know of in recorded history who have suffered martyrdom: Jesus Christ and the Bab. Apart from this one very important similarity between Jesus Christ and the Bab, there are numerous other similarities between them, with regards to their lives, their ministries and the events surrounding their Martyrdom.

Continue reading

Designing the Faith: Architecture

Creative design has an important part to play in the Faith. There’s a small army of creative Baha’is who labour hard to communicate the message of the Faith on screen and paper. The Designing the Faith series showcases some of their ingenious work in film, fashion, the internet, architecture and more.

In the second part of the series, we look at architecture.

Armed with pencils, paper and AutoCAD, Baha’i architects set out to design buildings that are not merely spaces for interaction with friends, institutions and God, but also seek to embody spiritual principles.

The designs of the Baha’i Houses of Worship reflect local cultural influences. The House of Worship in Germany blends the Bauhaus and European post-war styles. The Samoan House of Worship captures the simplicity of life in the tropics. The Wilmette Temple displays symbols of Native American traditions alongside the star of David and the cross.

Beyond the Houses of Worship, however, are numerous lesser-known gems of Baha’i architecture.

Continue reading

Blogging about Children’s Classes: An Interview with Leyla Neilsen

Image from bahaichildrensclass.wordpress.com

At Baha’i Blog, we like our blogs. You’ve heard us wax lyrical about the importance of encouraging Baha’i blogging. A few months ago, we featured Blog The Faith, a fantastic resource for Baha’is who want to use blogs as a form of social discourse. In addition to its very helpful Baha’i Blogging 101, with tips for those new to blogging, the website also features examples of 8 great Baha’i Blogs to inspire you and get you started on your own.

Recently, I came across a fantastic blog by Leyla Neilsen from New Zealand devoted entirely to one of the core activities: children’s classes! It’s a fantastic resource – not just for lots of creative ideas for really great children’s classes, but also as a source of inspiration and motivation for everyone out there who currently runs, or is looking to start, their very own children’s class!

I think Leyla’s blog is a fantastic example of how blogging can support and enhance the service that people are doing all over the world. And so, I caught up with her to have a quick chat about her blog, her children’s classes and her thoughts on blogging the Faith!

Continue reading

The Prayer Book

Image by [email protected] (Flickr)

When I became Baha’i, the concept of prayer wasn’t new to me. I had been raised with the knowledge that prayer is an important component of our spiritual growth and a means of drawing nearer to God. Although I had been taught to say the Lord’s Prayer and reflect on it as the model of prayer that Jesus had revealed, my personal experience of prayer had generally been limited to spontaneous prayer – that is, the act of saying whatever came to mind based on what I felt I needed to ask for, like a child would to a parent.

So when I came across my first Baha’i prayer book, I remember finding the concept of reading prayers that had been revealed (instead of just saying whatever came to mind) to be somewhat foreign and very interesting. The typical Baha’i prayer book consists of a collection of prayers revealed by the Bab, Baha’u’llah and ‘Abdu’l-Baha, and usually categorises them under headings such as “Aid and Assistance”, “Children”, “Detachment” and so forth, depending on the content of the prayers. I remember looking through the categories in my prayer book, somewhat bemused.

Which section should I turn to when I want to pray for a difficult situation with a friend? What about a desperate prayer for help specifically for a person about to sit an exam that she hadn’t studied enough for because she was too busy watching funny videos of cute kittens on Youtube the night before? For someone who had spent her life only really praying in times of need, the prayer book with it’s numerous categories of revealed prayers confused me. It truly was a foreign concept.

Continue reading

Backbiting-free Conversation

Image by d3l (Flickr)

As a new Baha’i, there were many principles of the Faith which I came across which leave me thinking and sometimes lost for words. One of the principles that first left me pondering was the Baha’i prohibition on backbiting. Baha’u’llah says:

Backbiting quencheth the light of the heart, and extinguisheth the life of the soul. Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah

Backbiting can be defined as malicious talk about someone when they are not present. It comes under the same umbrella as gossip, spreading rumours or tittle-tattling. It refers to any word used in a critical and negative manner to undermine a person. Growing up, I was always taught not to speak ill of anyone. We were always instructed by parents or teachers not to backbite.  But in a world where there are entire industries built on the act of backbiting (such as the media), it is easy – as creatures of our environment – to become blinded and think that such behaviour is acceptable. Continue reading

Music with Soul: An Interview with Navid B of Bluebottle Records

Navid Bahmani (AKA Navid B) became a Bahá’í about two years ago, and he recently founded his own record label called Bluebottle Records. I’ve known Navid B for some time now and I’ve been fortunate enough to be on the sidelines of seeing his musical career unfold. Bluebottle has just released their debut album called A New Dawn, so I sat down with Navid B and got him to tell me a little bit about himself and what he’s trying to achieve through his record label:

Baha’i Blog: So tell us a little about yourself and how you got into making music?

I’m from Sydney, Australia and I’m actually a hairdresser by trade, but music has always been my passion. Even though I haven’t been musically trained, a few years back I finally decided to buy a keyboard and to just try and express myself musically, so I started playing around with different tunes and beats and I just started posting it up online. Before I knew it I was contacted by an independent record label in the US asking me to release an album through them. That really gave me the confidence to keep working on my music and I guess I’m still learning a lot and I just try to keep working at it.

Baha’i Blog: So tell us why you started Bluebottle Records and what you hope to achieve with it.

Bluebottle Records aims to create hip-hop, R’n’B and soul music with a conscious twist. I wanted to start a label which would give myself and my friends an avenue to release our music. I wanted to have complete creative control as well as contractual control so our dealings would be fair.

As a label we want to create a movement of consciousness! People of all walks of life today are sucked into materialism, and unfortunately a lot of music often reflects this, so we are trying to put the ‘soul’ back into music! Continue reading

Three Months of Baha’i Blogging!

It’s been three months since Baha’i Blog’s official relaunch and what an amazing three months it has been! We’ve really grown rapidly in a short span of time, thanks to the amazing support of our lovely readers who have given us constant encouragement, some really great feedback and have spread the word by following us on Facebook and telling friends about us.

Everyone at Baha’i Blog is really excited about being involved with the larger efforts to encourage blogging among Baha’is. It’s been incredibly heartening to see the Baha’i Blog team start to grow from just 5 people in Melbourne, Australia to a dynamic and international community of readers and contributors from all over the world!

Continue reading