Tag Archives Baha’i History

Ellsworth Blackwell and His Commitment to Justice

Ellsworth Blackwell (August 1, 1902 – April 17, 1978). Photo courtesy of the Baha'i International Community. Source: Baha'i World, Vol. 17.

Ellsworth Blackwell (1902 – 1978) was an African-American Baha’i who was dedicated to sharing the principles of the Baha’i Faith in America, Haiti, Madagascar, and Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of the Congo). In this article I would like to share a challenge he faced when confronted with racism within the Baha’i community, and how his commitment to justice, combined with wholehearted co-operation with the governing or administrative bodies of the Baha’i Faith, allowed this instance of prejudice to be resolved while maintaining a unified spirit.

Ellsworth became a Baha’i in 1934, and in 1937 he decided to serve at the Wilmette House of Worship (the Temple was not entirely completed until the 1950’s, but it was open to visitors and Baha’is volunteered as tour guides). He had the capacity to be a tour guide, but was informed that it was “policy” that African-Americans could not be tour guides. This example of discrimination was of course not in keeping with the Baha’i teachings on the elimination of prejudice. This quotation from Abdu’l-Baha amply elucidates the Baha’i view:

… as to religious, racial, national and political bias: all these prejudices strike at the very root of human life; one and all they beget bloodshed, and the ruination of the world.

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The Moon Was There: Glimpses of the Bab’s Childhood for Young Children

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!

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John David Bosch: In the Vanguard of Heroes, Martyrs, and Saints

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.

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A Tribute to Ethel Dawe

Early Australian Baha'i Ethel Dawe (1902-1954) Photo courtesy of the the Australian National Baha'i Archives.

The first generation of Australian and New Zealand Baha’is included a number of extremely capable women, who excelled at sharing the teachings of the Baha’i Faith through public speaking and writing, and who also learnt about the administration of the Baha’i Faith by serving on and establishing Spiritual Assemblies and committees, from local to national levels. They included Hilda Brooks, Margaret Dixson, Emily Axford, Maysie Almond, Dulcie Dive, Thelma Perks, and Gretta Lamprill. In celebration of the centenary of the Baha’i Faith in Australia, this essay reviews the life of yet another of these early heroines, Ethel Dawe.

Ms Dawe was born in Kadina, South Australia on October 17, 1902. She was educated at the Methodist Ladies College, was an accomplished pianist and singer, and her recitations, as well as her participation in Adelaide society, was regularly mentioned in the newspapers’ social columns. In 1931 Ethel heard of the Baha’i teachings from her mother’s aunt, Maysie Almond – who together with her husband Perce had been the first South Australians to accept the Baha’i Faith after hearing Hyde Dunn speak in Adelaide in 1924. Continue reading

“A Letter From God… unto God”: A Reflection on the Declaration of Baha’u’llah and His Connection to the Bab

On a hot April day in 1863 on the outskirts of Baghdad, Baha’u’llah entered the Najibiyyih Garden on the banks of the Tigris River. He spent the following twelve days accepting visitors for the last time before His departure to Constantinople. As this place was blessed with His presence, Baha’is now refer to it as the Ridvan (Paradise) Garden and commemorating these special 12 days is known as the Festival of RidvanContinue reading

Two Awesome 12 Day Ridvan Celebrations Online!

We’ve seen a diverse flourishing of online Baha’i-inspired initiatives in recent days and weeks as more and more people self-isolate due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. As Baha’is and their friends around the world celebrate the 12 days of Ridvan in creative ways that are in keeping with the recommendations of health authorities, we’re especially excited to share two awesome initiatives which are taking place each of the 12 days of Ridvan to celebrate the whole Festival online.  Continue reading

A Tribute to Fred Murray: Retracing the Story of Uncle Fred

Warning: This article features photographs of people who have since passed away. This warning is provided as a courtesy for Aboriginal people and Torres Strait Islanders who may find this distressing.

In honour of the centenary of the Baha’i Faith in Australia, I wanted to share a tribute to one of Australia’s first Aboriginal Baha’is: Fred Murray (1884-1963), who was also known by his tribal name, Birria, and who is warmly remembered by Baha’is around the world as Uncle Fred. He was a stockman, fruit picker, and riverboat man of the Murray River best known for his acceptance of the Baha’i Faith in 1961 and for travelling to the first Baha’i World Congress in London in 1963. Continue reading

Garden of Ridvan: The Story of the Festival of Ridvan for Young Children

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

Mine Rich in Gems: Resources & Activities for Teaching Children & Junior Youth

Mine Rich in Gems is an incredible resource for teaching children and junior youth (from the ages of 2-14). Created by a family team made up of wife and husband, Lili and Wei, along with daughters, Kati and Christi, Mine Rich in Gems offers downloadable Baha’i-inspired activity booklets and materials in support of Feasts, Holy Day celebrations, children’s classes, home visits and other occasions. These resources are jam-packed with stories, games, puzzles and coloring sheets.

I got in touch with the team behind Mine Rich in Gems to find out more about how they came together and what they’re working on. Here’s what they shared with me:  Continue reading

Some Personal Reflections on 100 Years of the Baha’i Faith in Australia

Hands of the Cause of God Hyde Dunn and Clara Dunn with a group of Baha’is in Australia, c. 1940. Photo courtesy of the Baha'i International Community

While reading the Tablets of the Divine Plan, American Baha’i Clara Dunn looked up from her page and voiced a sincere plea to her husband Hyde Dunn:

“Let us go where Abdu’l-Baha wished to go.”

Where had Abdu’l-Baha wished to go? In the Tablets of the Divine Plan He said:

O that I could travel, even though on foot and in the utmost poverty, to these regions, and, raising the call of [Baha’u’llah] in cities, villages, mountains, deserts and oceans, promote the divine teachings! This, alas, I cannot do. How intensely I deplore it! Please God, ye may achieve it.

These tablets, written to the Baha’is of the United States and Canada in 1916 and 1917, set out strategies for ensuring that the Message of Baha’u’llah could be learned about in every corner of the world.

Clara made her plea in 1919, only two short years after she and Hyde Dunn had married. At that time, the couple was almost in a state of poverty. For many, the idea of leaving home at the ages of 52 and 65 respectively, and immigrating to a foreign land without any financial backing would be ludicrous. Hyde Dunn, unhesitatingly, answered with these words:

“Yes, we will go.” Continue reading