Tag Archives Baha’i History

A User’s Guide to God Passes By

With a raging war, a frightening pandemic, climate chaos and divided democracies, we need protection against succumbing to anxiety or despair.

One potent preventative–or antidote–is to spend time with God Passes By, which Shoghi Effendi wrote in the perilous days of World War II.

Here is a user’s guide to “the greatest epic of the millennium.”

What is God Passes By?

Published in 1944, the book is the only full-length narrative that Shoghi Effendi wrote, that fact testifying to the importance he saw in its content.

It is a historical survey of the first 100 years of the Baha’i Faith. Its 25 chapters cover the Ministries of the Bab, Baha’u’llah and Abdul-Baha as well as the first 23 years of the Formative Age of the Faith. Continue reading

Unrestrained as the Wind – A New Animation about Abdu’l-Baha and Agriculture

Baha’i Blog is excited to have recently published Unrestrained as the Wind: Abdu’l-Baha and Agriculture on our Youtube channel in both English and Persian, and it’s the fourth collaboration between PersianBMS and filmmaker Flavio Azm Rassekh on the life of Abdu’l-Baha.

This seven minute animation tells the story of how Abdu’l-Baha predicted the First World War during His travels to the West, and how He managed to protect the population of Palestine from starvation as a result of the conflict.

Like his other animations in this series, Flavio decided to focus on an aspect of Abdu’l-Baha’s life, and in this particular case, he sheds some light on the miraculous achievement of saving the lives of so many during a famine due to the First World War, and through the cooperative efforts of farming and agriculture.

I decided to touch base with my dear friend, Flavio, to find out more about this film and some of his thoughts behind it: Continue reading

Infinite Horizons: The Life and Times of Horace Holley – A New Book by Kathryn Hogenson

Although we’ve only spent a few hours in each other’s company, I have a profound respect and love for Kathryn Hogenson. You may know her from her book Lighting the Western Sky or from when she appeared on the Baha’i Blogcast in a special episode dedicated to Abdu’l-Baha (which you can listen to here).

She has penned a new book called Infinite Horizons: The Life and Times of Horace Holley and I’m eager to hear all about it. Here’s what Kathryn graciously shared with us about this book, what she learned in the process of writing it, why biographies of Hands of the Cause are precious, and what reading about Horace Holley’s life can teach us about service to humanity:

Baha’i Blog: Can you tell us a little about yourself?

I am a wife, a mother, a grandmother, a sister, and a Virginian transplanted to Florida. From my earliest years, I was unexplainably religious, so when I heard about the Baha’i Faith for the first time at age 19 at a Seals & Crofts concert in my hometown, Richmond, I immediately responded to it and within less than two months enrolled. That was almost 50 years ago. From that point on, the Faith has become more and more the centre of my life. I am also a lawyer with a lifelong love of history, but even though I have worked in the legal field, most of my career has been spent working for either the Universal House of Justice at the World Centre or for the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States. While in Haifa, I discovered the pleasure of researching Baha’i history and writing what I found as a story. The result was Lighting the Western Sky: The Hearst Pilgrimage and the Establishment of the Baha’i Faith in the West which was published in 2010. It has been a great joy to connect with people from across the globe who have read that book.

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Shirin Behjat Fozdar: “An Example to Womankind”

Shirin Behjat Fozdar (March 1, 1905 - February 2, 1992). Photo courtesy of the Baha'i International Community.

The year is 1922. In Karachi, the Islamic centre of British India, a 17-year-old woman is stepping up to the stage of the Town Hall when the audience rushes forward. Fearing for her safety, she retreats behind a curtain. It takes the mayor to reassure her that the people are simply keen to hear what she has to say. When she returns to begin her lecture, she becomes possibly the first woman to address a public gathering in the East, the first of countless lectures on countless stages around the world at which this courageous woman’s concern for gender equality will win over the hearts and minds of an audience.

The principle of social justice was instilled into Shirin Behjat from the earliest age. She was born into a Persian Baha’i family in Bombay in 1905. At 11 months old, while the family was on pilgrimage, Shirin took her very first steps grasping onto the cloak of Abdu’l-Baha; at six, during her second pilgrimage, she encountered His 14-year old grandson Shoghi Effendi. From that moment on, there would be no turning back from her commitment to the Baha’i Faith, particularly its teachings on the rights of women. “If Eve ate the fruit of the tree of knowledge first,” Shirin often said, “and then induced Adam also to taste of it, did that not prove it was the woman who attained to knowledge first and that the first act of obedience was by man to woman and not the other way around?” Continue reading

Penned by A. Q. Faizi – A New Compilation of Works by Hand of the Cause Abu’l-Qasim Faizi

George Ronald has recently released a compilation of the books, pamphlets, transcripts and essays written by Hand of the Cause of God Abu’l-Qasim Faizi. The compilation is titled Penned by A. Q. Faizi and it was lovingly put together by his son Naysan and his daughter-in-law Zohreh.

I was honoured when Naysan and Zohreh took the time to tell us about this compilation which gives us “an intimate glimpse into the challenges and triumphs of some spiritual heroes and trailblazers from whom we can learn so much.” Here’s what they shared with us:

Baha’i Blog: Can you tell us a little about yourselves?

I was born in Bahrain, where my parents had pioneered some 10 years before my birth. I’ve also lived in Pakistan, India, Israel, England and, finally, Australia since 1987.

I was born in Iran, but at the age of three my parents pioneered to Kuwait where I lived until I was 12. England was my next home where I  completed my studies, got married and had our children. We now live in Sydney, Australia.
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Abdu’l-Baha’s Little Brown Cat – A Children’s Book by Carolyn Sparey Fox

I’ve gotten to know Carolyn Sparey Fox through our interviews for Baha’i Blog. Several years ago, she told us about her book The Half of It Was Never Told and then she shared with us some details regarding her book about the German Templars (Seeking a State of Heaven).

It’s a delight to hear from Carolyn again and this time it’s about a children’s book called Abdu’l-Baha’s Little Brown Cat, written in honor of the centenary of His Passing. Here’s what Carolyn graciously shared with us:

Baha’i Blog: Could you please tell us a little about your book?

Abdu’l-Baha’s Little Brown Cat is an illustrated story book for children of all ages, and for adults who like to read to them. It was written in commemoration of the centenary of the passing of Abdu’l-Baha in November 1921, and tells the story of His last years through the eyes and ears of His little brown cat.

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Fires in Many Hearts – A Memoir of Doris McKay

This is the most meaningful interview I have conducted for Baha’i Blog and it’s about a new edition of Fires in Many Hearts, published by George Ronald. This is the memoir of Doris McKay, a spiritual mother to my community on Prince Edward Island, Canada and the creation of this book is deeply tied to my childhood as my parents and many of my spiritual aunts and uncles played a role in its publication.

I am deeply honoured to hear from Paul Vreeland (my father), Ann Boyles (who is like an aunt to me) and from Margaret Tash (a new friend) about a book I will never forget. Paul and Ann were involved in the earlier editions of the memoir, and Margaret helped with this latest edition. Here is what they shared with us about the process of bringing Fires in Many Hearts into the hands of readers: Continue reading

Universal House of Justice Releases Film “Glimpses of a Hundred Years of Endeavour”

The Universal House of Justice has commissioned a feature film called Glimpses of a Hundred Years of Endeavour that reflects on the efforts and learning carried out by a burgeoning Baha’i community since the passing of Abdu’l-Baha in 1921, and it outlines the journey that has led to the community’s current efforts to contribute to the emergence of a world organized around the principle of the oneness of humanity.

The film is available in seven languages and can be streamed or downloaded.

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Abdu’l-Baha in New York – A Book by Hussein Ahdieh & Hillary Chapman

The dynamic duo Hussein Ahdieh and Hillary Chapman have re-released their book Abdu’l-Baha in New York in honor of the centenary of the Passing of Abdu’l-Baha.

Hussein Ahdieh has written about this subject for Baha’i Blog, such as his article “The Spirit of the Age: Abdu’l-Baha, Khalil Gibran & Greenwich Village” and “Juliet Thompson: Champion of the Baha’i Faith in New York City“. This book, however, tells us about the time Abdu’l-Baha spent in New York City in order to bring you closer to this unique figure in spiritual history.

Hussein graciously agreed to tell us about this new edition of his book and here’s what he shared with the Baha’i Blog team:

Baha’i Blog: Could you please tell us a little about your book?

The book is about the beloved Master’s visit to New York during His historic visit to America. The Master spent 85 days in New York, He revealed a prayer for New York beseeching God for the friends here to be kind to one another, and He declared New York City to be the City of the Covenant.

We hope that the book will give readers a deeper understanding of the concepts and principles that Abdu’l-Baha emphasized during His visit to New York and also help readers better understand the social context of the people of New York whom Abdu’l-Baha met during His visit.

The book was extensively researched and includes much detail about people and places along with in-depth background about the Lake Mohonk Peace Conference. It is illustrated with original, contemporary photographs of locations associated with the Master.

The book is 141 pages long and has 20 photographs. Hillary Chapman and I wrote it in a way that it would be of interest to someone who is learning about the Faith and wants to know more about the Master’s connection to the City of the Covenant.

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Voyage of Love – New Edition Released in Honor of the Centenary of the Passing of Abdu’l-Baha

Amy Renshaw wrote a book several years ago about Abdu’l-Baha’s travels. It’s called Voyage of Love and I still remember its attractive and clever cover and the well told stories it contains. As this year commemorates the centenary of Abdu’l-Baha’s passing the US Baha’i Publishing Trust has released a new edition of the book. I was eager to hear from Amy about this new edition and she very graciously agreed to tell us all about it:

Baha’i Blog: To begin, can you tell us a little about yourself?

First of all, thank you so much for reaching out to me. Baha’i Blog is a wonderful resource, and I’m grateful to everyone who makes it happen.

As for me, I’ve always loved books, writing, and learning. I have degrees in English and Sociology, and I work full-time as the Senior Editor at Brilliant Star Magazine and Brilliant Star Online. I’ve been blessed to be part of that team for about 21 years so far.

My free time looks a lot like my work time—I’m usually either reading or writing. I just published my first historical mystery novel, and I hope to write more books. My husband and I live in Wisconsin, where we grew up, and we have two adult children.

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