Strive is the debut album from two 12-year-old brothers from New Zealand, Michael and Anthony Zemke, who got together with singer and producer Sonbol to record an album for young listeners and to help raise money for the Chilean Baha’i Temple Fund.
I decided to catch up with Michael and Anthony to hear what they had to say about this exciting initiative.
Image by mrehan (Flickr)
One of the first Baha’is I ever met exalted in his faith, claiming enthusiastically: “It’s the complete package!”
I now know what he means.
At the centre is a towering spiritual figure, Baha’u’llah. Then there are inspiring teachings that seem so clearly the remedy for this age and blueprint for the future. And don’t let me forget– there are astoundingly beautiful holy places.
Then there are the prayers. Oh, the prayers. They are like the bow that ties together the complete package.
Here are some excerpts to illustrate what I mean.
For the past decade I’ve had the pleasure of working with the music group MANA, who’ve recently finished recording their fifth album. Many of my friends and the Bahá’ís I’ve met while travelling have asked about MANA and why this project in particular is so important to me.
Well, before I answer that and start going on and on about MANA (which, trust me, I can do for hours), for those of you who haven’t heard of them, here’s a quick introduction.
MANA, which means “inner power” or “strength of spirit” in many of the Polynesian languages, is a musical and cultural performance group made up of young Pacific Island Bahá’ís who are mainly based in Sydney, Australia. MANA’s albums are all based on the passages from the Writings which are studied in the sequence of Ruhi books. Although these albums are predominantly in English, most of their songs are infused with the languages, chants and rhythms of the Pacific Islands. The group has released four albums so far – one album for each of the first four books of the Ruhi sequence – and is currently preparing their fifth album (based on Book 6 of the Ruhi sequence of books) for release.
MANA’s albums have been incredibly well-received around the world, but the MANA project (as we like to call it) is far more than being just about making music and selling CDs. Personally, I have always found MANA to be such a powerful and incredibly inspiring initiative because of the way it exemplifies many of the concepts and ideas discussed by the Universal House of Justice in relation to the Institute Process and the various Plans. To me, MANA represents many of the aspects of the new and exciting culture taking shape in the Bahá’í community. Continue reading
The Mansion of Bahji, in Acre, Israel, where Baha’u’llah passed away on May 29, 1892. (Photo by Kamran Granfar courtesy of Baha'i Media Bank)
In the early hours of the morning of 29 May, 1892, Baha’u’llah, the founder of the Baha’i Faith passed away.
The commemoration of His passing is called ‘The Ascension of Baha’u’llah’, and Baha’is throughout the world pay their respects with prayers and selected Baha’i Writings. It is also one of nine days in the Baha’i calendar year, where work should be suspended.
For almost 40 years Baha’u’llah suffered imprisonment and banishment, originally from His birthplace in Persia (present-day Iran), to Baghdad, and then to the Ottoman cities of Constantinople, Adrianople, and then finally to the infamous prison city of Acre (in present-day Israel), where He was held in a cold and damp cell. Continue reading
Parenting is a huge weighty responsibility and as Baha’i parents it’s important that we nurture and nourish our children spiritually. Since I am the very lucky and rather proud father of a nine-month old, I’ve been on the lookout for Baha’i materials for children. So I was very pleased to come across a gorgeous children’s prayer book called Tiny Seeds by mixed media artist Misha Blaise.
Tiny Seeds is a book of prayers and writings from the Baha’i Faith and comes with a 10 page colouring book on CD (so you can print it out over and over again!) It’s got some very bright and cute illustrations and is perfect for little ones the world over!
The book is up for sale on Etsy, a site where you can also find lots of Baha’i Jewellery and Handcrafted Goodies! If you’ve got a little one in your life or teach a children’s class, head over and Buy a Copy of Tiny Seeds and support this talented artist by buying a copy. Continue reading
The Shrine of the Bab located on Mount Carmel in Haifa, Israel (Photo courtesy of Nancy Wong)
Baha’is around the world celebrate the 22nd of May, 1844 as the day of the Declaration of the Bab, who was the forerunner of Baha’u’llah, the founder of the Baha’i Faith. (The date to commemorate this joyous historic occasion shifts within the Gregorian calendar from year to year but according to the Baha’i calendar, it is always honoured on the 8th of Azamat.)
Baha’is view the Bab as a Messenger of God, who had a role that can be likened to John the Baptist (who told of the coming of Christ) in heralding the coming of the latest Manifestation of God: Baha’u’llah.
The events surrounding the Declaration of the Bab have been told in many ways, but perhaps the most widely read is the account in The Dawn-Breakers: Nabil’s Narrative of the Early Days of the Baha’i Revelation. This book was written by Nabil, and chronicles the early days of the Revelations of the Bab and Baha’u’llah.
The story begins in 1783, when a learned man named Shaykh Ahmad-i-Ahsa’i (1743-1826) began, at the age of 40, to travel through Persia teaching that the advent of a great day was drawing near, the day that would see the advent of the Qa’im, the Promised One of Islam. During this time, there was great discontent in the East as certain prominent clerics practiced disunity and behaved in a way that was damaging Islam. As he spread this message, his knowledge and wisdom impressed many, who were eager to learn from him. Among these was a gifted young man named Siyyid Kazim-i-Rashti (1793-1843), who became Shaykh Ahmad’s favoured pupil and eventual successor. Continue reading
Rarely have I come across photographic work as inspired and stunning as that of Baha’i photographer Shahriar Erfanian. Hailing originally from Ecuador, Shahriar now lives in Vancouver, Canada, where he and his wife run a photography agency. Shahriar has been a participant in the wonderful Baha’i photographic project Nineteen Months and has many of his uniquely vivid photos online over at Flickr and 500px.
Baha’i Blog caught up with Shahriar to ask him if we could showcase some of his beautiful work here on the blog, and to learn a bit more about what inspires this passionate Baha’i photographer. But before we get to his answers, here are some of Shahriar’s photographs to gaze at! Continue reading
Image by seier+seier (Flickr)
The Baha’i Faith is a global religion. It is acknowledged today as one of the most wide-spread religions – present in over 200 countries and territories, with its central texts translated into over 800 languages and its adherents hailing from diverse traditions and cultures. This is something that many of us Baha’is are proud of and see as a testament to our diversity and universal worldview.
However, wherever you may encounter the Baha’i Faith, sooner or later you’re bound to encounter Baha’is from a Persian background. They will vary in their relative “Persian-ness”. Some will be second or third generation immigrants with a strong cultural foundation in their new country, such as my husband who is more Australian than he is Persian. Others will be much more culturally Persian and might tarof with you every chance they get. You’ll also find people like me, who are a good old mix of a lot of different things. (I am one quarter Persian, although most people wouldn’t know it, and often assume my last name is taken from my husband.) There are also those who have no ethnic links to Persia or Iran, but may have Persian names after early heroes of the Faith’s history, like Vahid or Tahirih.
So what is the relationship between the Baha’i Faith and Persian culture?
Tumblr is an online service that lets you create a very trendy minimal sort of blog where you can post up quotes, images, links, video, audio and longer form posts. The service is free to use and wildly popular. In fact if you’ve ever wanted to start your own blog, then a Tumblog is a pretty cool way to do so.
There are already lots of Baha’is on Tumblr, so I went looking for a few Tumblogs to showcase. Much to my delight, I found lots of interesting blogs and became totally engrossed and lost reading them all. Eventually I managed to pull myself back out to finish this post, so I’m happy to present six of the best I came across.
If you’re a Tumblr user you can choose to ‘follow’ these and other Tumblogs, and if you’re just a casual browser like myself, then you can just bookmark them! Either ways I highly recommend supporting them, and if you know of more please do leave a comment and link! Continue reading