Tag Archives Baha’i Holy Days

Abdu’l-Baha: Unique

Baha'i Abdu’l-Baha Unique

Abdu’l-Baha (23 May 1844 – 28 November 1921). On November 28, members of the Baha’i Faith throughout the world commemorate the passing of Abdu’l-Baha, the eldest son and successor of Baha’u’llah, the Prophet founder of the Baha’i Faith. Abdu’l-Baha passed away in His home in Haifa, Israel at the age of 77 and there are no prescribed ceremonies but gatherings usually involve prayers and devotional readings. (Photo: Baha’i Media Bank)

One of the most common mistakes in English usage is the term “very unique,” and its close cousins, “most unique” and “so unique” — as in, “that is a very unique painting” or “that is one of the most unique songs I have ever heard.” We all commit this error from time to time because we mistake the word “unique” for the word “unusual.” In fact, “unique” means there is nothing else like it in existence. Like pregnancy, something either is unique or it is not; there are no degrees of uniqueness, as there are with unusualness.

Tonight, on the anniversary of His passage from this world to the next, we turn our thoughts and hearts toward Abdu’l-Baha, one who actually was in fact unique. Baha’u’llah wrote:

When the ocean of My presence hath ebbed and the Book of My Revelation is ended, turn your faces towards Him Whom God hath purposed, Who hath branched from this Ancient Root.

And again:

…refer ye whatsoever ye understand not in the Book to Him Who hath branched from this mighty Stock.

Abdu’l-Baha Himself wrote,

In accordance with the explicit text of the Kitab-i-Aqdas Baha’u’llah hath made the Center of the Covenant the Interpreter of His Word—a Covenant so firm and mighty that from the beginning of time until the present day no religious Dispensation hath produced its like.

Though there is no greater love on earth than that of a father for his son, the rapturous feeling that Baha’u’llah held for His eldest son far surpassed even that, as we read in this extraordinary passage from a letter from Baha’u’llah while Abdu’l-Baha was away from Akka on a visit to Beirut: Continue reading

The Birth of Baha’u’llah and the Spirit of the Age

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

150 Years of Ridvan and Counting: Celebrating Like a Baha’i

“Going anywhere special for The Festival this year?”

“Usually we spend Paradise at home, but this year we’re going on a 12-day luxury cruise to Baghdad.”

“Really? Oh, I’m jealous. My husband just can’t miss the Ridvan golf junket in Las Vegas, so it’s going to be more reading and pomegranate tea by the pool for me…”

No, I haven’t heard many conversations like this at devotionals or reflection meetings, either! (And aren’t we lucky? Our Holy Days still focus on the holy part.) Still, it is the Most Great Festival, and who knows what it will be in futures that more or less distantly shine in our imaginations? As with the 19 Day Feast, so with Ridvan: we have only the barest notion of how to celebrate them. As with everything, we’re learning, and nothing stops our education more quickly than the thought that we know how to celebrate our festivals and nineteen-day spiritual gatherings. They will be “unimaginably glorious”, as the Guardian might have said, but for now we do the best we can. Continue reading

The Birth of Baha’u’llah

Tehran, Iran, the Birthplace of Baha’u’llah, the Founder of the Baha’i Faith. (Photo taken by Effie Baker in 1930. Courtesy: Baha’i Media Bank)

194 years ago, on 12 November 1817 in Tehran, Baha’u’llah was born.

As followers of Baha’u’llah’s faith, we are familiar with the profound wisdom of His writings and the dramatic events of His life. But there is a mystery that remains around His early years.

This is true of all other Manifestations of God too. I often marvel at the images of “baby Jesus” that we see in the ubiquitous nativity scenes every Christmas. It’s difficult to imagine that the Manifestations of God, who revealed teachings that revitalised entire human civilizations and who suffered the greatest tribulations while demonstrating the qualities of God, were once children!

Continue reading