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Baha’i Blog Quiz: Abdu’l-Baha’s Travels to the West

This year marks the centenary of Abdu’l-Bahá’s travels from Palestine to the West, where after a life of imprisonment, He arose to share Baha’u’llah’s message of peace and unity to the people of Europe and North America.

In Bahá’í Blog’s second Quiz, you can find out just how much you know about Abdu’l-Bahá’s travels to the West, and don’t forget to share the quiz with your friends, and let us know what you think in the comments section.

Good luck!

5 Easy Ways to Involve Children in Community Activities

Lubumbashi, Democratic Republic of the Congo (Photo: Baha'i World Centre)

Lubumbashi, Democratic Republic of the Congo (Photo: Baha’i World Centre)

In the 2000 Ridvan Message, the House of Justice said the following of children:

Children are the most precious treasure a community can possess, for in them are the promise and the guarantee of the future. Message from the Universal House of Justice (2000)

While reflecting on this quote recently, I was inspired to think of ways we could engage the children of our community more in our activities. These are some of the thoughts that came to mind. Some are from past experiences; others are from stories I’ve heard.

1. Change the time of events

Many families with young children often find it hard to attend evening programs. A simple change in the starting time of regular community events (e.g. 7 pm instead of 7:30 pm) can go a great way in encouraging participation of young families (and hence their children) in these events. I’ve seen, in a neighbouring community, how even just a 30-minute adjustment can make all the difference!

In addition to this, any Holy Days or Feasts that fall on a weekend could be held during the day where possible, perhaps with a barbeque, picnic or big spread of kid-friendly food and activities to celebrate.

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The Bow and the Arrow: Parenting and Love

Photo Courtesy: jarnah.com

Eleven weeks, one day, eight hours and three minutes ago my life changed forever. With the birth of our first child, I went from being an independent individual – responsible for nobody but myself – to a mother.This new task of motherhood is both difficult and precious as, all at once, I have been given the opportunity – and the challenge – to shape and raise a human being.

Abdu’l-Baha says that ‘…mothers are the first educators of mankind; if they be imperfect, alas for the condition and future of the race.’ Uh oh! And as the first educators of the young, our task as mothers is to free them ‘from human imperfections and to acquire the divine perfections latent in the heart of man.’ Ah, that’s a fairly lofty goal. How and when do I rise to meet this challenge?

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Education: A Right for Everyone

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The recent arrests of some Baha’i’s in Iran for running the Baha’i Institute for Higher Education (BIHE) has been met with outrage across the world.

Iran’s attack on Bahá’í educators has also struck a strong chord with me for a number of reasons.

The BIHE is an online university and it was established in 1987 for Bahá’ís in Iran.  Bahá’ís in Iran have repeatedly been denied access to a higher education ever since the 1979 Iranian Revolution.  A leaked confidential Iran memo in 2006 (from Iran’s Ministry of Science, Research and Technology) exposes a government-level policy to deny Bahá’í students university education.

I’m a Bahá’í, and I’ve had the opportunity to go to university, graduate, and now specialise in adult education – but hey, I don’t live in Iran. To be honest, I never thought going to university was such a big deal. I just saw it as a natural continuation from my schooling years.  My only source of stress during my university years was waiting to see if my marks were good enough to get into the course of my choice, as well as some of the last minute study cramming I used to do for my exams.  In fact, my years at university were some of the best years of my life, so far! This is why I find it confusing and unthinkable that Bahá’í students in Iran are repeatedly denied the opportunity to pursue a further education, and even be arrested for trying!  Continue reading

Designing the Faith: Photography

Creative design has an important part to play in the Faith. There’s a small army of creative Baha’is who labour hard to communicate the message of the Faith on screen and paper. The Designing the Faithseries showcases some of their ingenious work in film, fashion, the internet, architecture and more.

In the third part of the series, we showcase the work of Baha’is who spend their days behind a lens. Armed with Japanese and Korean machinery, they capture moments of devotion, community life, and the Holy Places, letting the world catch a glimpse thereof.

Photo by Marco Abrar

 

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What Makes a Person Great: A Tribute to Dr. Peter Khan

Dr. Peter Khan 1936 - 2011

When a person of the caliber of Dr Peter Khan passes away, it is not only a time to grieve but also a time to reflect on what makes a person “great”.

In this context we are not using the word “great” as often applied to a sporting star, musician or actor. In such cases, the assessment is usually based on a limited range of unusually developed attributes. Nor are we talking about the merely famous. Journalists, friends and family know that these folk often have feet of clay.

To be a truly great person, in my opinion, requires a much wider range of qualities, always including those of personal integrity or “goodness”. Such people might include Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, Eleanor Roosevelt and the Dalai Lama.

To call someone “great” should not, however, imply a spiritual judgement. That is not ours to make – nobody has any idea of a person’s spiritual potential or the extent to which they have fulfilled it. However,  the general consensus among those who heard, met or worked with Dr Khan is that he was, unquestionably, a great man who lived an inspiring life.

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The NSA of UK Responds to Unrest in England

 

Photo courtesy Leon Neal/AFP/Getty Images

I don’t know about you, but I lead a fairly easy and luxurious life. My daily challenges rarely go further than deciding what to have for dinner and how not to get angry amongst crowds in small spaces. I rarely need to think about the starving masses or the homeless I walk past on the streets every day.

But now and then, the problems simmering underneath our casual lifestyles come to the surface in dramatic fashion and remind us that all is not well. The recent riots in London remind us that we are witnessing a breakdown in social order and that our commitment to serving our communities is necessary. Continue reading

Living A Life of Service

A female doctor with the International Medical Corps examines a woman patient at a mobile health clinic in Pakistan (Image by UK Department for International Development via Flickr)

A female doctor with the International Medical Corps examines a woman patient at a mobile health clinic in Pakistan (Image by UK Department for International Development via Flickr)

In his beautiful tribute to his father last week, Naysan reflected on his father’s legacy of love and compassion and the way in which his father’s life has shaped his own ideas about service and spirituality. We’ve heard back from many readers who were deeply moved and inspired by that post and it has sparked many conversations about the concept of service.

In line with the theme of service, this post aims to address a question that is commonly asked of Baha’is: what do the Writings say about service and the role it has in our lives?

In today’s fast-paced world, it is often a struggle to aspire to lofty ideals such as service to humanity. As a society, we routinely have a myriad of balls in the air at once – bills to pay, traffic jams to navigate, meetings and appointments to juggle, personal relationships to manage and professional opportunities to pursue. We are all so caught up in our own busy, hectic worlds – it truly is a huge effort to think beyond that!

Service to humanity is an act that springs from a love for all humanity and a recognition of its oneness. It stems directly from the one spiritual principle that is emphasised over all others in every religion: the Golden Rule. Continue reading

In Memory Of My Father: Sirus Naraqi

Sirus Naraqi: 30 Sept, 1942- Aug 18, 2004

Last night marked the 7th anniversary of the passing of my father, Sirus Naraqi.

Since his passing, I have been blessed to constantly meet so many people who knew him and loved him, and share with me how he touched their lives.

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve been able to look back on my parents’ lives and reflect on the experiences they had. It’s interesting how you start to see the human side of a parent as you get older, and realize that they too are ordinary people – much like you and your friends – with their own hopes and dreams, fears and regrets, trials and accomplishments.

My parents were born in Iran and they moved to the United States where they were married in 1969 in front of the Baha’i House of Worship in Wilmette, Illinois. After my father finished specializing in medicine, my parents moved from the suburbs of Chicago to Papua New Guinea (PNG). I remember spending a lot of time with my dad going to the villages and doing both medical work and visiting the Baha’i’s there.

My parents ended up spending 20 years in PNG, and I remember an old colleague of my father from Chicago had written to him asking why he was still in PNG after so long, and what did PNG offer that the US didn’t offer. My dad’s reply was “It’s what PNG does not have that keeps us here.” Continue reading

Heart to Heart: An Interview with Tahereh Etehad

Tahereh Etehad has a love for music and when the call came for Baha’is to help raise money for the Baha’i House of Worship in Chile, she stepped forward and decided to do her part by putting her vocal talents and musical abilities to good use by creating Heart to Heart, and contributing all the proceeds to the Chile Temple Fund.

I decided to catch up with Tahereh to find out more about her album and her thoughts on making music as a Baha’i.

Baha’i Blog: So tell us a little bit about yourself and your passion for music.

From a young age, I knew I was passionate about music. Celine Dion was my idol! When I was 10, I started to learn how to read music. I stopped going for lessons after a few years but continued to teach myself music. I have never been trained vocally but I feel that through my passion, I am able to express myself naturally through music.

When I was 16, I began writing music. When I finished high school, I completed a Bachelor of Popular Music. The Faith has transcended my passion for music to a whole new level. As Baha’u’llah says: “We, verily, have made music as a ladder for your souls, a means whereby they may be lifted up unto the realm on high…” Continue reading

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