Every single one of the world’s seven (soon to be eight) Baha’i Houses of Worship is unique – unique in history, in design and in surroundings. But the one thing they all share in common is that they are The Dawning Places of the Mention of God.
I have always wanted to visit the Wilmette Temple. I don’t think photos can do justice to its utmost majesty, its intricate ornamentation, and the feeling of awe one must feel when standing in its presence.
American author Bruce Whitmore’s work The Dawning Place explores the very wonders of this House of Worship, providing a chronological account of events from before the Temple’s construction through to the present day. We spoke to Bruce to find out about him and his book, which is now in its second edition. Continue reading
There are countless heroes and heroines in the Baha’i Faith, all who devoted their very lives for the progress of the Cause. Luckily, we have access to innumerable works of literature which profile these heroic figures and provide inspiration for us to serve the Cause in our own way. One such work, Champions of Oneness: Louis Gregory and His Shining Circle, does just that.
Written by American author Janet Ruhe-Schoen, the book focuses on the years between 1898 and 1921 and portrays the lives of a handful of Baha’i pioneers of race amity in the United States. At great personal sacrifice, these early Baha’is traveled extensively to share the teachings of their newfound Faith, even if it meant facing severe challenges from those resistant to change.
We caught up with Janet to find out more about her work and the inspiration behind her latest book. Continue reading
In the corner of our lounge room sits an elderly woman knitting and smiling but rarely talking as the discussion on spiritual matters swirls around the room.
Then, in one of those silences that develop as people gather their thoughts, she stands up, walks over with the scarf she has knitted and gently places it around a woman’s neck and gives her a hug.
Everybody laughs with joy because love was shown by deeds not words.
What few of them knew, until they were told later, was that the knitter has played an historic role in the history of the Baha’i Faith. She was once a custodian of a holy place, the House of the Bab in Bushehr, Iran.
With the assistance of her daughter, Fereshteh Hooshmand, Manijeh Saatchi, 84, now of Brisbane, Australia, has produced a book that tells of her experiences in a way that shows how the human spirit, elevated by love and faith, can prevail against the forces of religious persecution.
In an introduction to Manijeh: Not Only a Change of Name, a former member of the Universal House of Justice, the late Dr. Peter Khan, wrote that the book “conveys a message of hope and optimism for all who value truth and who yearn for justice to prevail”. Continue reading
Shut your eyes to estrangement, then fix your gaze upon unity… This span of earth is but one homeland and one habitation. -Baha’u’llah (1817-1892)
What possible connection could a Persian prisoner in a culturally stunted corner of the 19th century mideast have with the progressive spirit of our age? The spirit of a beaten mankind arising, phoenix-like, from the ashes of pride and prejudice to the glory of unity and brotherhood. Well, everything.
Biased though I may be, as a Baha’i I also embrace wholeheartedly the inspiration of every visionary that has called for a wider appreciation of humanity. Thoreau, Tolstoy, Gandhi and Dr. King come readily to mind. Today Baha’is everywhere gather to commemorate the 196th anniversary of the birth of Baha’u’llah. It would be only befitting to pause and glance at the quiet revolution of human consciousness brought about by this serene child prodigy born on 12 November, 1817 to one Khadijih Khanum and Mirza Buzurg. Continue reading
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
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