I’m excited to introduce Baha’i Blog’s readers to Shidan Toloui-Wallace, one of the most admired contemporary Persian and Arabic chanters in the Baha’i world. Now ‘chanting’ is not to be confused with singing – although Shidan does that beautifully as well – but as she explained to me, chanting is a form of improvised singing usually based on Holy Scriptures or poetry, and a person chanting may chant the same piece of scripture differently every time.
Shidan Toloui-Wallace recently released her second album titled Phoenix of Love, which features Baha’i prayers and poems chanted in Persian and Arabic, as well as English collaborations with her daughter Shadi Toloui-Wallace, whom we interviewed here on Baha’i Blog as well.
Shidan’s reputation was established during the time she was a volunteer at the Baha’i World Centre in Haifa, Israel from 1991–1997. She was regularly asked to chant on special occasions such as Holy Day observances, and it was during her time in Haifa that she recorded her first album entitled The Call of Carmel with her dear friend Taraneh Rafati, and Shidan’s uncle, the late Masood Missaghian played the Persian Santoor (also called a Hammer Dulcimer) on the album.
Some 15 years later in late 2012, Shidan decided to record Phoenix of Love, and so I thought it would be great to catch-up with Shidan to find out more about this wonderful album, which although it is predominantly in Persian and Arabic, also includes wonderful musical fusions of East and West . Continue reading
Although many of us are going online nowadays to find out more information about something we’d like to know more about, there’s still a lot of non-accurate and misleading information about the Baha’i Faith online, and I still get asked by friends whether I can suggest or lend them an introductory book about the Faith.
So for those of us who still like to read books or get asked to suggest an introductory book about the Baha’i Faith, I thought it may be useful to list some for you to read or share with your friends. I’ve purposefully left out books which only focus on the Baha’i Faith and a specific religion (such as Thief In The Night by William Sears, which is a wonderful book, but is focused on the Baha’i Faith from a Catholic perspective) and I’ve tried to keep my choices general, but I’d love to hear about any other introductory books on the Faith you’d recommend and if any of these in particular have resonated with you.
Here are the ten introductory books about the Baha’i Faith in no particular order: Continue reading
In the Persian city of Shiraz on May 22, 1844, The Bab declared His mission to a young man named Mulla Husayn, who had been searching tirelessly with his companions for the coming of the Promised One. The Bab explained that He was the predecessor of another Messenger of God (Baha’u’llah) who would come soon after Him, and that His role was to prepare others for the coming of this new Messenger whose divine revelation would unite the world of humanity. Mulla Husayn became the first disciple of the Bab, and the events of this day mark the beginnings of the Baha’i Faith.
Baha’u’llah ordained that The Declaration of the Bab is one of two “Most Great Festivals” (the other being Ridvan) and it is celebrated by Baha’is around the world as a Holy Day on the 8th of Azamat, according to the Baha’i calendar.
In The World Order of Baha’u’llah Shoghi Effendi emphatically explains the station of the Bab and the significance of His Declaration, and so I thought it befitting to leave you with a selection of excerpts from this book. Continue reading
As I sit in a comfortable chair and write this, I am well aware of the fact that I’m fortunate to live in a country where I’m able to enjoy the freedom to practice my religious beliefs as a Baha’i – and even run a blog about my faith – without the fear of being whisked away in the middle of the night by a group of armed men.
Unfortunately however, the luxury of religious freedom is not shared by Baha’is everywhere, and in Iran, the birthplace of our Faith, Baha’is (as well as other religious minorities) continue to face discrimination and persecution.
It has now been five years that seven Baha’is were imprisoned by the Iranian authorities, and they are serving a 20 year sentence. Yes, a 20 year sentence!
Five years behind bars is a long time, in fact it’s five years too many, especially, when you consider that these individuals were arrested and imprisoned simply because of their religious beliefs.
As I look at a picture of these seven imprisoned Baha’is, I wonder what they are like as individuals – mothers, fathers, sisters and brothers, each with their own likes and dislikes, fears and aspirations, skills and passions, humor and personalities. There’s Fariba, a developmental psychologist and a mother of three; Jamaloddin, a once-successful factory owner who lost his business after the Islamic Revolution because of his belief in the Baha’i Faith; Afif, who ran his father-in-law’s textile factory because as a Baha’i he was unable to pursue his dream of becoming a doctor; Saeid, father of three and an agricultural engineer who was running a successful farming equipment business; Mahvash, mother of two, a teacher and school principal who was dismissed from public education for being a Baha’i; Vahid, a father, an optometrist and the owner of an optical shop; Behrouz, a former social worker who lost his government job in the early 1980s, also because he was a Baha’i. Continue reading
During the 11th International Convention, the Universal House of Justice announced plans to hold an additional 19 Youth Conferences to the already planned 95 Youth Conferences taking place this year worldwide.
In a letter addressed to the Baha’i world on May 1st, 2013, The Universal House of Justice wrote:
“So overwhelming has been the response of the Baha’i youth and their friends―indeed, of Baha’i communities worldwide―to the announcement of 95 conferences to be convened around the world between July and October, that existing arrangements now seem unlikely to accommodate the number of youth wishing to attend, and it is apparent that a further complement of gatherings is therefore required.”
The additional 19 conferences will be held in the following locations: Continue reading
As Baha’is around the world celebrated the last day of Ridvan and the Baha’i world witnessed the election of the Universal House of Justice, the Baha’i World Centre has just released a wonderful new film entitled Frontiers of Learning. Continue reading
The Seat of the Universal House of Justice in Haifa, Israel (Photo courtesy Adib Roy via Flickr).
As Baha’i’s around the world continue to celebrate the 12 days of Ridvan, and local Baha’i communities in cities, towns and villages elect their Local Spiritual Assemblies, an important event, which only takes place once every five years is currently underway in Haifa, Israel: The election of the Universal House of Justice. Continue reading
One of the things I absolutely love discovering is new Baha’i inspired music, and one of the wonderful benefits of running Baha’i Blog is that we get to share these awesome musical discoveries with the rest of the Baha’i world!
A friend of mine recently introduced me to the beautiful music of Natasha Chiang, a new Baha’i artist in Australia who just released her debut album a few weeks ago entitled Kindle.
Kindle was produced and arranged by musical legend Louie Shelton, and the whole album is based on Baha’i prayers.
There are also a couple of tracks where Natasha sings in Mandarin, and it’s really great to hear the Baha’i Writings being sung in Chinese.
I decided to catch up with Natasha Chiang to find out more about her and her music.
Baha’i Blog has just turned two years old (Yippee!) and the team at Baha’i Blog would like to say a big THANK YOU to everyone from around the world for their wonderful and continued support!
Over the last year Baha’i Blog has continued to soar – in fact, with thousands of readers located in 193 countries (we’ve literally had over 100,000 unique visitors!), we’ve been doubling our numbers in every way!
Our Calendar of Events and the Resource Directory also continue to grow, with users adding more and more content every week!
Our Facebook page followers and Mailing List subscribers have also more than doubled, so if you haven’t done so already, follow us on Facebook and join our mailing list if you want to be notified when we post something new.
So far we’ve published 193 original posts written by dozens of authors, and these posts continue to cover a wide variety of topics relating to the Baha’i Faith. We’re also always looking for good writers, so if you’re interested in writing for us, you can find out more about how you can write for us here.
Now, without further ado… (Drum roll please!) …Baha’i Blog is proud to present to you our 10 most popular posts of the year: Continue reading
Australian singer and songwriter Shadi Toloui-Wallace was raised in a musical family, but her own musical journey with the Faith really came to fruition when she recognised the need within the Baha’i community for more contemporary forms of music that are inspired by the teachings of the Baha’u’llah. With the support and encouragement of her family, and the legendary Louie Shelton coming on board to produce the album, Shadi launched her debut album called Leather Bound Book, which quickly took the Baha’i world by storm.
I first met Shadi about four years ago when I had just moved to Melbourne, Australia, and Shadi had just released her debut album. She had come to Melbourne to perform at the Parliament of the World’s Religions, and her captivating music swept the audience right off their feet! Continue reading