Photo: Morris S
Over the last 15 years I’ve had the opportunity to participate, tutor, and be involved to varying degrees in numerous Baha’i study circles in different parts of the world. I’ve experienced very good ones, and ones that could use a little work. Ones that completed the Ruhi book we were working on, and ones that fizzled out before completion. Ones that were run at an extremely intensive and accelerated pace, and ones that took over a year to complete. Ones that brought people into the Faith, and ones that weren’t very well received by some of the participants.
The fact is that no matter what you think about study circles or what your involvement has been with them over the years, study circles have and continue to revolutionize many Baha’i communities worldwide, helping to change the overall culture of the Baha’i community – and I think for the better.
Of course there’s always room for improvement, and we’re all learning through action and reflection while continuously developing and working on improving our ‘posture of learning’, but I thought it would be interesting to look at just six of the ways study circles have helped the Baha’i community, so let’s take a look: Continue reading
A couple of months ago I wrote a post here on Baha’i Blog called 10 Great Introductory Books on the Baha’i Faith and my aim was to showcase some of the books available for those who want to learn more about the Baha’i Faith. The reality though, is that different people learn in different ways and maybe some of those books are not for everyone, or you’re simply looking for new materials to share with your friends, so that’s why I’m happy to introduce an awesome new initiative called WhyUnite?.
WhyUnite? is series of compelling introductory materials about the Baha’i Faith and the aim is to provide individuals with a variety of options to help them in their exploration of the Faith. Based on the idea that each person learns differently, and that every individual has a unique path they must follow in order to find the truth, meaning, and purpose that will help them reach their fullest potential in the world, WhyUnite? offers a choice of books, compilations, video talks, interviews, events, and more to help introduce the Faith.
This initiative has been a labor of love for husband and wife team Nathan and Sarah Thomas, and I managed to catch up with Nathan to find out more about these wonderful new resources. Continue reading
Shoghi Effendi encouraged many of the Baha’is to use the art of storytelling to convey the history and teachings of the Baha’i Faith, and storytelling is also encouraged in the Ruhi sequence of courses as well, so I’m excited to share with everyone a brand new album full of inspiring stories entitled Illumined Youth.
Illumined Youth is a collection of stories and accompanying music about inspiring Baha’is who faced great difficulties in their youth, and how the Faith helped them to grow spiritually. The album includes stories of Shoghi Effendi, Hands of the Cause May Maxwell and Enoch Olinga as well as Ali-Kuli Khan, Zaynab from the Dawn Breakers, and Fred Mortensen.
The stories on this album were written and told by Sarah Perceval, and the accompanying music was written by Rosanna Lea and Caeli Lohr. In light of the 114 Youth Conferences currently taking place around the world, the timing of this album couldn’t be better!
I managed to catch up with storyteller Sarah Perceval to find out more about this wonderful new album. Continue reading
As the number of people getting online to learn more about the Baha’i Faith continues to grow, local Baha’i communities around the world are becoming increasingly aware of the importance and the advantages of having an online presence.
Here at Baha’i Blog we often get asked by our readers if there’s some way we can help them build a website for their local Baha’i community or their Local Spiritual Assembly (LSA), or if we know someone who can help them. Unfortunately we just don’t have the time ourselves, and we’re not always sure who to pass them on to, so we end up pointing them to this Baha’i Blog post about building a fast and free website… but happily now that’s about to change…
(Drum roll please!)
Introducing the Baha’i Web Five Year Plan Project!
I’m super happy to announce the release of MANA’s latest album Teaching the Cause, which is based on the passages found in the sixth book of the Ruhi sequence of books.
MANA is a Baha’i inspired music and cultural performance group made up of young Pacific Islanders (mainly based in Australia), and over the last 10 years they’ve been putting the passages found in the Ruhi sequence of books to music.
Teaching the Cause is MANA’s fifth album, and their catchy tunes make the memorization of the passages easy and fun. As with all of MANA’s albums, the songs are predominantly in English, but they’re infused with various Pacific Island languages, rhythms and chants, something MANA has become well known for.
Over the last 10 years I’ve had the privilege of being heavily involved with the group, and sadly, this will be MANA’s last album, as the members of MANA are busy with other Baha’i initiatives and the group has spread out even more geographically, making it logistically more and more difficult to work on an album. Continue reading
The Shrine of the Bab, located on Mount Carmel in Haifa, Israel, is where the remains of the Bab are buried. Baha'is who are able to go on pilgrimage to the Holy Land have a special opportunity to pay their respects and say prayers at the Shrine. (Photo: BWC)
On July 9th, 1850, the Bab, the forerunner to Baha’u’llah, the Prophet founder of the Baha’i Faith was executed in Tabriz, Persia by a firing squad of 750 men. The Bab, which means ‘the Gate’ in Arabic, was a Messenger of God, whose role can be likened to that of John the Baptist (who told of the coming of Christ) in heralding the coming of the latest Manifestation of God: Baha’u’llah.
Baha’is around the world commemorate the Martyrdom of the Bab as a holy day where work should be suspended, and for those Baha’is who are able to go on pilgrimage to the Holy Land in their lifetime, they have a special opportunity to pay their respects and say prayers at the Shrine of the Bab where His remains are buried. Continue reading
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