We’d like to share with you a little about a book titled Mirza Mihdi: The Purest Branch in honor of the 150th anniversary of his passing. Written by Boris Handal, this biography tells the dramatic story of Mirza Mihdi, the beloved son of Baha’u’llah, who fell from a skylight in the roof of the prison where he, his family and many other Baha’is were imprisoned. He was severely and mortally injured. When Baha’u’llah offered to save his life, Mirza Mihdi chose instead to sacrifice it so that the doors of the prison might open and those who longed to see Baha’u’llah could attain their hearts’ desire.
During their imprisonment in Akka (in present-day Israel), Mirza Mihdi often spent his evenings on the roof top, immersed in prayer and meditation, where one could breathe cleaner air, as well as watch and listen to the sound of the waves crashing in the bay. After twilight, Mirza Mihdi would count his steps in order to avoid the open skylight but one evening he was so enraptured by his prayers that he stumbled, lost his balance and fell onto a wooden crate on the floor below.
In the last hours of his life, Mirza Mihdi spoke with Baha’u’llah in private. And while we do not know everything that was said, we do know that Baha’u’llah offered to save him. However Mirza Mihdi wished that pilgrims might be able to attain Baha’u’llah’s presence. At that time, many of the Baha’i pilgrims who travelled on foot to see Baha’u’llah had to content themselves with the sight of His hand waving a handkerchief from the prison’s window.
At the tender age of 22, Mirza Mihdi passed away on 23 June, 1870 — 150 years ago to this day. Continue reading
Baha’u’llah proclaimed to humanity that “these great oppressions that have befallen the world are preparing it for the advent of the Most Great Justice.” His teachings lay out a blueprint for establishing a just world civilization founded on international cooperation, and the paramount task of His successors has been to give people around the world access to this blueprint.
To that end, Shoghi Effendi worked tirelessly to build the capacity of Baha’is around the world to share Baha’u’llah’s message. The crucial channel for his guidance was letters to individuals and national bodies alike. The Advent of Divine Justice is one such letter—a particularly powerful one in its rallying cry for Baha’is to engage in a double crusade of improving the self and improving society. Though addressed to the Baha’is in the United States and Canada and written in 1938, its guidance applies to the life of every Baha’i and maintains its relevance today. This article seeks to aid your study of this significant message by commenting on its significance, reviewing its history, and summarizing some of its major themes. Continue reading
Oneworld Publications has released a book detailing the persecution of the Baha’is called 175 Years of Persecution: A History of the Babis & Baha’is of Iran by Fereydun Vahman. The book recounts how Iran’s largest religious minority has been persecuted by the state since its inception to the present and such a comprehensive study has never been published before. Baha’is and Babis have been made scapegoats for the nation’s ills, branded enemies of Islam and denounced as foreign agents. Since the Islamic Revolution of 1979 Baha’is have been barred from entering the nation’s universities, more than two hundred have been executed, and hundreds more imprisoned and tortured.
Fereydun Vahman writes that Iran is now at a turning point. A new generation has begun to question how the Baha’is have been portrayed by the government and the clergy, and are calling for them to be given equal rights as fellow citizens. Continue reading
We are living in exceptional times, not solely because of the global health crisis that has gripped the planet. We live in the shadow of 19th century forces that structure modern society, forces that Baha’u’llah and Abdu’l-Baha addressed. If you’re curious to know more about the age in which we live, Stephen Beede has authored a fascinating book that you might be interested in. It’s called Baha’u’llah, the West, and the Birth of Modernity: An Essay on the Awakening of Humanity. We asked Stephen about his new book and here’s what he shared with us:
Baha’i Blog: Can you tell us a little about yourself?
I am a plant breeder by trade, which means that I use the vast genetic diversity in my crop of choice to develop new varieties that serve both farmers and consumers. I work on edible or common beans, which you may know better in their form as navy beans, black beans or kidney beans. I started this track in my graduate training at the University of Wisconsin, where my major professor steered me toward the tropics. I have spent the rest of my life in an international research institute in Colombia, South America. Having grown up on a family farm in Iowa, I have always felt a certain empathy for small farmers around the world, as our program seeks to serve bean producers in Central and South America, the Caribbean, and East and southern Africa.
Alhan Rahimi is the author of Mulla Husayn: The Story of the Declaration of the Bab for Young Children and Ridvan Garden: The Story of the Festival of Ridvan for Young Children and she has also penned and published The Moon Was There: Glimpses of the Bab’s Childhood for Young Children. As a parent of little ones, I am so grateful to Alhan for creating these materials. Here’s what she shared with us about her book about the childhood of the Bab:
Baha’i Blog: What inspired you to write this book?
Baha’i Blog: What inspired you to make the moon your main character?
Not being able to have any illustrations of the Manifestation of God was the main reason for thinking of a some other way to illustrate the story. And why the moon? Well, I think it’s special that the moon, which can be seen from everywhere on this planet, is the same moon that witnessed the Bab’s childhood!
Baha’i Blog: Who is the book’s target audience?
Children under the age of 5. However, anyone can enjoy reading it!
Angelina Diliberto Allen has written a vivid and striking biography of John David Bosch, an early American Baha’i. Based on her extensive research, we learn about how John discovered and embraced the Baha’i Faith under the tutelage of Helen Goodall, and his deep and lasting friendships with such luminaries as Thornton Chase, Hands of the Cause Amelia Collins, Roy Wilhelm, and Louis Gregory. We learn about how, along with his wife, Louise, he helped establish a Baha’i school in northern California. We hear about his encounters and his letters to Abdu’l-Baha. And we learn what it was like to be in Haifa in the hours and days following the passing of Abdu’l-Baha. Baha’i history comes to life in the pages of this book and it’s called John David Bosch: In the Vanguard of Heroes, Martyrs, and Saints. Angelina graciously agreed to tell us about her book and how it all came together:
Baha’i Blog: Can you tell us a little about yourself?
I was raised in a Baha’i family—and, like most Baha’is in America, I can trace my Baha’i ancestry back to the time when Abdu’l-Baha came to America in 1912. I guess that means that we can all trace our Baha’i ancestry, in one way or another, directly to Baha’u’llah! When I was a child, my family pioneered to Argentina and to several countries in Central America. As an adult, I pioneered to Southern Africa—mainly Swaziland and Botswana. I currently live in California where I have been a public high school English teacher for over 30 years. When I think about who I really am, I think I am like any Baha’i who has a longing for others to know this Cause. We all have moments when we wonder about how we could more effectively convey to our friends and neighbors the miracle of this Day and the bounties of becoming a Baha’i. Many of our friends wonder what it means when a person becomes a Baha’i: What’s different about it? What does “being a Baha’i” really look like? What happens? So, I wrote this book as a way to explain the extraordinary thing that can happen when an ordinary person becomes a Baha’i.
Alhan Rahimi, who you may remember from her children’s book about the Declaration of the Bab or her book about the Birth of the Bab, has just released a new work for little ones related to Baha’i history and its holy days. Her latest book, illustrated by Alina Onipchenko, is called Garden of Ridvan: The Story of the Festival of Ridvan for Young Children and it’s a fantastic resource.
Told from the perspective of one of the garden’s nightingales, this book features soft colorful images and repetition. Written with children around 5 years old or younger in mind, this book is sure to help foster an understanding of the beauty and significance of the Festival of Ridvan. Continue reading
Two dear friends of mine, Edit Kalman, a photographer, and Tom Mann, a graphic designer, have teamed up to create a special compilation of the Baha’i Writings in light of the exceptional circumstances the people of the world find themselves in right now with the spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, but also to be used, and inspiration derived from it, at any time.
Edit and Tom have created a compilation in both English and Hungarian, and have made it available for free download by anyone who would like to use it. You can download it here.
I was excited to touch base with Edit and Tom to learn more about this touching initiative, and here’s what they shared with me:
Baha’i Blog: Hi Edit and Tom! Can you first tell us a little bit about this initiative?
Well, we wanted to distribute, in a non-printed format, a set of positive Baha’i Writings that address some of the current issues we are facing right now in relation to the global health crisis.
As humanity is facing heavy challenges and the light of unity is shining more brightly, we have created a compilation as a gift to those souls who are searching for answers, solace and love today. Please feel free to share the booklet with your friends and loved ones. Continue reading
Roshan Danesh is a lawyer, conflict resolution innovator, and educator who has devoted his career to the study of law, particularly Baha’i law. His work, as it is expressed in academic articles or essays, has been pulled together in a newly-published book called Dimensions of Baha’i Law. In recent years the Universal House of Justice has called on the Baha’is to participate in the discourses of society. An anthology such as this one, that collects essays that were published elsewhere in the wider academic sphere, is excellent for anyone interested enriching their understanding of this subject and its wider discourse. Dimensions of Baha’i Law was also recently awarded the 2019 Association for Baha’i Studies Award for Distinguished Scholarship.
Roshan shared with us a little about his book. Here’s a look at our conversation:
Baha’i Blog: Can you tell us a little about yourself?
I was born and raised in Canada. My mother’s parents, an Orthodox Jew and midwestern Catholic, were shunned by both sides of their families after they married. They became Baha’is later in life and passed away before I was born. Continue reading
I have never personally met Elaheh Bos but I am so grateful for the materials and resources she creates and produces for children. Her latest: a story book, During Ayyam-i-Ha: How We Celebrate, and an activity book, Ayyam-i-Ha Crafts. (Not sure what Ayyam-i-Ha is? Here’s a Baha’i Blog article called “An Introduction to Ayyam-i-Ha” that might help!)
With the multiple-day Baha’i festival just around the corner, I am thrilled Elaheh was able to share a little bit about her new books. Here’s what she said: Continue reading