Every year, Baha’is the world over gather in their local communities on the first day of Ridvan to elect the nine members of their Local Spiritual Assembly. Every adult Baha’i at the age of 21 is eligible to be voted for, and they have the responsibility to participate and vote for these nine members of the community who will volunteer their time to run the administrative affairs and assist in the spiritual well-being of their respective local communities for the year ahead.
When one thinks of elections, perhaps for many of us what immediately comes to mind are political parties and candidates, expensive campaigns, televised debates, the digging up of dirt on the opposing party, and copious amounts of campaign flyers and confetti.
This is not the case however with Baha’i elections. There are no political parties or independent candidates. Rather than debates, there is community consultation. Rather than smear campaigns, there is encouragement and accompaniment. Rather than campaign flyers and confetti, there are prayers and personal meditation. Continue reading
Grab your video camera because the Tony Blair Faith Foundation has announced its call for entries to all young filmmakers for this year’s Faith Shorts film competition!
Faith Shorts is a global film competition that provides young people with the opportunity to express their faith through film, and anyone between the ages of 14 and 27 can submit a short film showing how faith impacts their life and the lives of those around them.
Last year young Canadian Baha’is Blair Cameron and Nadim Merrikh won the competition with their rap video about the importance of young people being agents of social change. Continue reading
100 years ago, ‘Abdu’l-Baha arrived in America. It was a turbulent time in American history – an election, the struggle for civil rights, American soldiers on foreign soil.
When ‘Abdul-Baha arrived in America, newspapers called him the “Apostle of Peace.”
He “will surely unite the East and West,” the president of Stanford University remarked, “for he treads the mystic way with practical feet.” “There is no doubt, among thinking people,” a famous columnist wrote, “that this man represents, in great degree, the growing and evolving spirit of our times.” “Let him visit any bank, factory, office building, church, and everything is laid aside, and eyes bulge and ears listen until he takes his departure.” 239 Days in America
Now, thanks to a fantastic social media documentary called 239 Days in America, you can feel like you were right there during this fascinating period of history and witnessing it with your own eyes and ears!
239 Days in America follows ‘Abdu’l-Baha’s 1912 journey across North America in real time (but exactly 100 years later), essentially reconstructing this little-known period in history hour-by-hour, for the entire 239 days of ‘Abdu’l Baha’s travels in America. It describes how ‘Abdu’l-Baha reached across political, religious, racial, class and gender divisions within American society with a bold vision of unity. Continue reading
Over the past week, Christians have been commemorating Easter (which fell on 8 April this year) and Jews have been commemorating Passover (which goes from 6 to 14 April this year). Just as Easter is of great theological significance to Christians, Passover is of deep spiritual and historical significance to Jews. Passover commemorates the story of the Exodus, in which the ancient Israelites were freed from slavery. For Christians, Easter is about the resurrection of Jesus three days after his crucifixion.
The repeated overlap of Easter and Passover, however, has historically been a source of tension among some Christians and Jews. Interfaith Family calls this the “Passover Predicament”:
For Jews, Easter crystallizes the religious differences between them and Christians. The week leading up to Easter is filled with important historical events from Jesus’ life. From the commemoration of the Last Supper on Thursday, through observance of the crucifixion on Good Friday, to celebration of the resurrection on Easter Sunday, Christians reflect on the foundation of their beliefs — beliefs that separate them from Jews. Moreover, the legacy of anti-Semitism, rooted in beliefs of some Christians that Jews were responsible for Jesus’ death, can make Easter a particularly difficult holiday for Jews.
While people very often do prefer to focus on the beliefs that distinguish them from followers of other religions, the truth is that these religions have an incredible amount in common – more than most people realise!
Additionally, a careful study of the various traditions and commemorations which seemingly serve to highlight differences in beliefs – such as in the case of Passover and Easter – can actually, in my opinion, be a starting point to reflect on the shared heritage that all religions share.
Here at Baha’i Blog we are big believers in the power of social and online media as a way to connect and engage with people around the world on Baha’i topics and themes. That’s really the whole reason this blog exists, and why we update Facebook so regularly.
So I’m excited to let you know we have now set up a Baha’i Blog Pinterest account. We’re kicking off with four boards, you can follow any one of them, or follow the whole account and you’ll get updates from all. The four boards we currently have going are:
This is where we’ll be posting images and photos of quotes and prayers. Continue reading
Image by Juliana Coutinho via Flickr
I remember stepping off the airplane into my new home, my pioneering post, thousands of miles away from all that was easy and familiar to me and from all that was loved and precious in my life. It was exciting. It was also scary.
The sun stayed hidden for days, the heat was heavy, and the air was thick with smog and exhaust. I had never seen the apartment where I would be living for the next year (part of my package with the university that had hired me) and when I arrived, the first thing I noticed was the stench of cigarettes. The second was the half bathroom. The third was that there was no kitchen.
It should have been a long, scary night full of questions and doubt. Actually, it was a long, scary night full of questions and doubt.
But it was surmountable because I was being accompanied.
As the proud parent of a very active, very cute, and rather loud one year old, I’m all of a sudden much more interested in everything to do with raising children. So I was particularly excited to see a wonderful new Baha’i blog that’s been running for the last few months now called Enable Me to Grow. It’s run by two Baha’i mums collecting resources for other mothers to ‘intentionally cultivate their own spiritual growth as well as nourish the spirits of their little ones’.
There are already quite a lot of posts on the site as the pair have been blogging with a vengeance. My personal favourite so far is the activity based “Write Your Spiritual Bucket List” which is super pertinent with Baha’i new year just past! Definitely a time to use your new fast-induced spiritual powers to map out new year’s resolutions! Continue reading
Photo courtesy: Morris Salahifar
As most of you already know, Bahá’ís and their friends around the world participate in what is known as study circles, and these study circles use a sequence of books which are mainly based on the Bahá’í Writings, and they were developed by the Ruhi Institute in Colombia, so the books are often referred to as Ruhi books.
I often get asked by a lot of friends about different ideas or resources they can use for their study circle, and there’s no doubt that there are a bunch of great initiatives and resources out there for us all to use.
Using different ideas and accompanying resources is encouraged, and it’s a great way to enhance the study circle experience and really bring the Ruhi books to life, so I thought it would be a good idea to share five of them with you so you can benefit from them too.
Baha’i Blog has just turned one, and we’d like to say a big THANK YOU to everyone from around the world for their wonderful and continued support during our first year!
It’s been an exciting year for Baha’i Blog, as we’ve had over 60,000 visits from 191 different countries (out of 195 in the world) so that’s pretty AWESOME!
The top countries were mostly the English speaking ones (this blog is in English after all!) but places like Malaysia, Germany and Romania were in the top 20!
Some 16,000 visits came from Google with people searching for things like “bahai test and difficulties”, “2011 baha’i conference”, “bahai jewelry” and “baha’i music”.
Our biggest source of traffic however was our Facebook page, which makes sense since we have almost 1,800 followers there now! Twitter also sent a couple thousand visits, and blogs like bahaithought.com and designthefaith.com also sent over some small doses of traffic.
Over 600 people stopped in to read our page on “What is the Baha’i Faith“. Over 5000 visited the directory and calendar facilities, where we’ve added 110 items to our Resource Directory and 28 events to our Calendar of Events, and our mailing list reaches over 430 people so far, so sign on if you want to be notified of our new posts.
Every year Baha’is from all over the world and of all cultural backgrounds celebrate Naw-Ruz on the day of the vernal equinox in the Northern Hemisphere, with Tihran, the birthplace of Baha’u’llah, as its standard.
Naw-Ruz has its origins as a Zoroastrian observance in ancient Iran and, to this day, is celebrated as a cultural festival by Iranians of all religious backgrounds. In addition to being celebrated by Iranians and members of the Iranian diaspora, the observance of Naw-Ruz has also spread to many other parts of the world, and is celebrated as a cultural holiday in India, Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Iraqi Kurdistan, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan.
Naw-Ruz, which means “New Day”, is celebrated at the vernal equinox, on the first day of spring. It is a time of joy and celebration, with the darkness of winter coming to an end and the reappearance of light, warmth and the beauty of spring’s flowers. It is a day of new beginnings, of change and hope.
However, for Baha’is, Naw-Ruz also has deep spiritual significance. Naw-Ruz marks the end of the 19-day Baha’i Fast, which is a period of reflection and profound spiritual reinvigoration for Baha’is. Naw-Ruz was ordained by Baha’u’llah as a celebration of humanity’s “spiritual springtime”: the Baha’i dispensation.