Tag Archives Early Baha’is

How to Be a Heroic Baha’i Today

A youth studying the spiritual empowerment of junior youth in Montero, Bolivia. (Photo: Baha'i Media Bank)

Oftentimes, I find myself reading chronicles from early Baha’is, immersing myself in their stories of complete selflessness, utter sacrifice, and staunch devotion to the Cause of God.

I find myself thinking that my humble undertakings serving the Baha’i Faith pale in comparison to what they endured in a bid to spread the Message of Baha’u’llah.

Abdu’l-Baha writes:

…ye must in this matter—that is, the serving of humankind—lay down your very lives, and as ye yield yourselves, rejoice.

But what does it mean to lay down our lives? I think that this is one of many metaphorical references found in the Baha’i Writings to giving up one’s life and it makes me ask myself, what does it symbolically look like for me to give up my life to the beliefs I hold dear? And how can I do so rejoicingly?

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

How Isolation Can Help Us Draw Parallels to Events in Baha’i History

As the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic put the world at a standstill, it seems like life was paused in order to allow us some time to reflect on the current conditions of the world and to reevaluate what is important to us. Even though this time is very challenging, it is also rich in opportunities that we are yet to discover. As a Baha’i, I try to make sense of this uncertain time by looking at it through the lens of spiritual and historical perspectives. Continue reading

The Primal Point: A New Book of Tributes to the Bab and His Followers

The Primal Point is a significant and timely paperback volume recently published by George Ronald that contains testimonials and tributes to the Bab and some of His early followers. The anthology was put together in honor of the bicentennial anniversary of the Birth of the Bab and rather than capture a comprehensive chronological account of His life, it focuses on the importance of His station and the impact of His Revelation. In its preface, the book’s compiler, Rob Weinberg, writes that it is particularly hoped that the book will inspire Baha’i youth, “who follow so conscientiously with such ardour in the footsteps of their God-intoxicated spiritual forebears.”

The book begins with excerpts from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, Abdu’l-Baha, and Shoghi Effendi about the Station of the Bab and His Revelation. You’ll also find extracts from Babi and Baha’i authors that discuss some of the events of His life and their significance. Many of the writers quoted may be familiar to Baha’is; authors such as Hasan Balyuzi, Horace Holley, Nabil, and Lady Blomfield are included. These writers and their works are priceless in their own right but it’s valuable to see selections of pieces that pertain to the Bab collected all in one place.  Continue reading

An Introduction to ‘The Dawn-Breakers: Nabil’s Narrative’

Many Baha’is have a copy of The Dawn-Breakers: Nabil’s Narrative of the Early Days of the Baha’i Revelation on their bookshelf. What is this book, and what is its purpose? Why is it important to Baha’is? Who was Nabil? When did he write his narrative, and when was it translated into English? This article provides basic answers to these questions, drawing primarily from Shoghi Effendi’s introduction to the English translation.  Continue reading

Remembering Clara Dunn

Clara Dunn 12 May, 1869 – 18 Nov, 1960 (Photo: Baha’i Media Bank)

“Oh what an enormous duck! Oh what a wonderful duck! How splendid was this great big glorious duck!”

Clara Dunn was present on the occasion that Abdu’l-Baha recounted a story of a person who spoke in such a manner.

Her humility and spiritual receptivity, combined with the fact that the Master was looking directly at her throughout the story, lead her to understand that the Master was counseling her to refrain from exaggeration and to speak with honesty and accuracy.

Clearly she learnt this spiritual lesson well, and many more, for in 1939 Shoghi Effendi gifted a copy of The Advent of Divine Justice to Clara Dunn and her husband Hyde Dunn, accompanied by a personal letter written by his secretary:

The tribute so abundantly and yet so deservedly paid by the Guardian in this unique epistle to your magnificent teaching services is assuredly destined to transmit to future Baha’i generations, and in particular to the Baha’i teachers & pioneers of succeeding centuries, such measure of inspiration and such example of the pioneer service as cannot but inspire and guide them to follow in your footsteps and emulate your noble example.

When Abdu’l-Baha asked the Baha’is of North America to travel to remote climes to spread the Faith of Baha’u’llah, Clara and Hyde Dunn’s response was immediate. On 10 April 1920, Clara and Hyde Dunn arrived in Australia with the single purpose of establishing the Baha’i Faith in an area explicitly mentioned by the Master in the Tablets of the Divine Plan. So determined were they to go despite their age and lack of funds, that when challenged on the wisdom of their decision Hyde replied that “he would sooner die than not respond to Abdu’l-Baha’s call”. Continue reading