Many Baha’is are familiar with the events described in the book The Dawnbreakers, where followers of the Bab were under attack and siege by the Persian army, but aside from these descriptions in the Dawnbreakers, very little is known about the many events which took place during this turbulent period of our Faith’s early history. That is why the new book Awakening: A History of the Babi and Baha’i Faiths in Nayriz by Dr. Hussein Ahdieh and Hillary Chapman is so important.
Now for the first time, many of the gaps in the history of our Faith during that period have been filled, as one of Dr. Ahdieh’s ancestors, a young boy named Shafi, was one of the few male survivors who had witnessed the horrific events which took place around him in the Persian town of Nayriz. At the request of Baha’u’llah, Shafi documented these events in his diary, and it is this diary which played an important role in the research for this book.
Besides being a Baha’i Historian and an author, Dr. Hussein Ahdieh is also a good friend of mine and I was able to spend some time with him while I was visiting New York recently. We spoke about this wonderful new book and he agreed to tell me and our Baha’i Blog readers more about Awakening. Continue reading
After being exiled and imprisoned from the age of eight, Abdu’l-Baha at the age of 67 set sail in 1911 and travelled to Europe and North America to visit the Baha’i communities and to share the teachings of Baha’u’llah with others.
Abdu’l-Baha spent a good portion of this trip traveling from coast to coast in North America – 239 days to be exact – sharing the message of peace and unity amongst the thousands of people He met, including President Theodore Roosevelt, inventor Alexander Graham Bell, explorer Admiral Peary, reformer W.E.B. DuBois, and poet Kahlil Gibran.
This important chapter in America’s history has now been brought to the screen by Tim and Anne Perry in a wonderful two and a half-hour documentary film titled: Luminous Journey: Abdu’l-Baha in America, 1912.
Aimed at general audiences, Luminous Journey brings to light the events which took place and the people Abdu’l-Baha encountered during His visit to the US and Canada. After watching the film, one of the viewers Roland Maddela wrote: “It was like I was travelling, too, with the Master and felt the excitement on His arrival in every city and the sadness when He left. The settings and costumes captured the spirit of the 1900s. The music and the narrations are superb.”
I managed to get a hold of Anne and Tim Perry to find out more about this important and inspiring documentary: Continue reading
I recently had the opportunity to attend the 37th Annual Association for Baha’i Studies Conference in Irvine, California, and during the conference I was able to meet J.A. McLean, the author of A Celestial Burning.
This recently published work is a comprehensive study of selected writings of Shoghi Effendi, and the book won the Association for Baha’i Studies 2013 “distinguished scholarship” award in the book category, and according to the Academic Director of the Association, Dr. Pierre-Yves Mocquais, the award was a unanimous decision by the judges.
J.A. McLean spent over a decade working on A Celestial Burning, and there’s no doubt that readers will develop a deeper appreciation for the writings of the Guardian through this book.
I decided to catch-up with J.A. McLean to find out more about the book and his experience in taking on this important work: Continue reading
Holy Recollections is a new film by young Californian Baha’i Ian Huang, and some of you may recognize him from his part in Mohsen Makhmalbaf’s recent film about the Faith called The Gardener.
Ian Huang’s film is a very personal documentary where he shares with the audience his reflections on the time he spent as a volunteer in the Baha’i Holy places in Israel, and his narrative is interwoven with the beautiful images of the Baha’i gardens and Holy Places.
I decided to catch up with Ian to find out more about Holy Recollections and his experiences in the Holy Land: Continue reading
The National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’is of the United States released a wonderful video entitled Done Made My Vow to the Lord: The Baha’i Black Men’s Gathering 1987–2011. The Baha’i Black Men’s Gathering started over 20 years ago when a group of 12 American men of African descent gathered in a hotel lobby in Greensboro, North Carolina. They came from different parts of the United States, and they came after being invited by Billy Roberts, an Auxiliary Board Member at the time who had noticed that there were very few black males serving on institutions in the Baha’i community of the US. Billy Roberts was also concerned about the state of the black man in North America, as there was a tremendous discourse going on at the time in the US especially, about how black men were an endangered species.
You can read Baha’i Blog’s post about the documentary here.
When three really close friends from California – Bella Blue, Aubrey Wood and Gia Sky – hear about the 114 world-wide Youth Conferences announced by the Universal House of Justice, they decide to get together to see what they could do to support it – oh, and did I mention that they’re all professional musicians!?
What resulted from their get-together was the creation of a music group called The Descendants and the release of a wonderful debut album called A Divine Collaboration.
The lyrics of their songs are all taken directly from the Baha’i Writings, prayers and holy texts, and the group sets them beautifully to uplifting contemporary music.
Since the launch of their album the group has been busy performing, but I managed to get them to squeeze in an interview with Baha’i Blog so we could find out more about the group and their awesome debut album. Continue reading
Nowadays you can find mobile apps for just about anything, and thankfully mobile apps related to the Baha’i Faith are slowly on the rise.
It’s been over a year that we posted about 5 Unique Baha’i Apps for Android and 5 Unique Baha’i Apps for the iPhone, and with iPhone continuing to dominate the mobile app market, we thought it was time to write up another list of some more Baha’i iPhone apps to serve as a resource for all you iPhone wielding Baha’is out there.
If you’re an Android user, no need to fret, as most of these apps can also be found on Android as well.
1. When is the next Feast?
For those of you who, like me, can never remember when the next 19 Day Feast is, this great little app tells you when the next Feast or Holy Day is, and how many days to go. Its built in calendar lets you explore the full calendar of Baha’i special days.
View the ‘When is the next Feast?’ App in iTunes.
Holy Recollections is a short-film by Ian Huang about the spiritual and divine experiences he had when serving in the Baha’i Holy Places in Israel, the Holy Land. The film is narrated from the point of view of Ian who volunteered as a Baha’i gardener for a year.
You can also read Baha’i Blog’s interview with Ian about Holy Recollections here.
Most Baha’is can probably relate to the frustrating fact that so much of the music we hear on the radio and on the charts right now have awesome beats and catchy tunes, but the lyrics are… well, let’s just say that they’re not very good for the soul.
Enter Karim, who’s one half of the popular Baha’i R&B/Hip-Hop duo Nabil & Karim, and he’s trying to change that!
Karim has embarked on a lyrical remix mission. His aim is to create a 10 song remix album aimed at shining new light on some of our favourite songs by recreating and rewriting the lyrics in order to make them more meaningful and ‘elevated’.
By using GoFundMe.com to raise enough money, Karim aims to have the album completed by October this year, and as he works on the tracks, he’s posting some of them on Youtube.
I decided to catch up with Karim once again, to find out more about this initiative. Continue reading
Last week in Los Angeles, I had the opportunity to attend the final screening of The Gardener, a film by multi award-winning Iranian film maker Mohsen Makhmalbaf.
Makhmalbaf has a long list of movies and awards under his belt including films such as Kandahar and The Day I Became A Woman, and his latest film/documentary The Gardener, has been getting a lot of attention as well, especially as it was predominantly filmed in the Baha’i gardens in Haifa and Akko, Israel.
Using the beautiful Baha’i gardens in Israel as a backdrop, from the very beginning of the film Makhmalbaf and his son Maysam set out to learn more about the Baha’i Faith and ask why the Baha’is have been persecuted in the the birthplace of their faith, Iran since the Faith’s inception. Primarily however, the film is not so much about the Baha’i Faith, but more about the power of religion in general, and its role in the world both historically and in the present, and its transformative effect on humanity, and whether we need religion at all.
Using very simple cameras in order to convey a very grassroots and simple effect, Makhmalbaf also uses a lot of symbolism throughout his personal journey of discovery. As with all artistic endeavors, the effects of an artists work on the receiver is inevitably varied, but for me personally, the film struck a certain chord. Perhaps because the main character was a Baha’i volunteer working in the Baha’i gardens from Papua New Guinea (the country where I was raised), but also because it was mainly filmed in the gardens surrounding the Baha’i Holy Places in the Holy Land, (where I’ve had the fortune of spending a number of years and which I miss immensely), but most importantly for me was the fact that I really felt that Makhmalbaf was sincere in his quest to question the purpose of religion, and that he had a sincere concern for the plight of the Baha’is of Iran and the persecution they continue to face, even though he is not a Baha’i himself. Continue reading