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
In honour of the anniversary of the Birth of the Bab, we thought we’d showcase all of our Baha’i Blog Studio Sessions whose lyrics are based on His Writings. There are only seven, but they are mighty and powerful nevertheless! This short list both begins and ends with different melodies to one of my favourite prayers revealed by the Bab that begins “I adjure Thee by Thy might, O my God!” Continue reading
The Bab and Baha’u’llah were Twin Manifestations in a spiritual sense, as they both unfurled the Baha’i Dispensation, but also in a temporal sense, due to the closeness of their ages and birthdays. The anniversaries of their birthdays fall on consecutive days; this year, they occur on Saturday, October 21 (the Birth of the Bab), and Sunday, October 22 (the Birth of Baha’u’llah). The Twin Birthdays are always commemorated as Holy Days, anniversaries when Baha’is are asked to suspend work in honor of the occasion’s sanctity.
Early last year, Baha’is around the world were reminded by the Universal House of Justice, the international Baha’i administrative body, that two bicentennial anniversaries were approaching: the 200th birthday of Baha’u’llah, born in 1817 in Tehran, Iran, and the 200th birthday of the Bab, born in 1819 in Shiraz, Iran. Baha’is around the world are taking the opportunity afforded by this year’s Bicentenary to reflect on how our communities can share the teachings of the Bab and Baha’u’llah. Continue reading
The Shrine of the Bab (photo credit: Baha'i World Centre)
The significance of the Bab’s station and of His martyrdom is beyond what my mind can grasp. Shoghi Effendi tells us that this event can “be rightly acclaimed as unparalleled in the annals of the lives of all the Founders of the world’s existing religious systems.”
In an attempt to study and meditate on the station of the Bab and the historical meaning of His execution, I found myself thinking of Anis Zunuzi, the youth who shared the crown of Martyrdom with the Bab on July 9th, 1850. Reflecting on Anis’ life and his deeds, as someone intoxicated with love for the Bab, may help me understand and better commemorate the Bab’s life.
Anis’ story is recounted in several places. For example, you can read about it in Shoghi Effendi’s translation of Nabil’s The Dawn-Breakers, Hasan Balyuzi’s The Bab, and William Sears’ Release the Sun – an excellent book, particularly for youth or younger readers. The retelling of Anis’ story is included in Midsummer Noon: A Narrative of the Life of the Bab, a dramatic audio recording produced by Jack Lenz (and available for purchase or download from 9StarMedia) which never fails to bring tears to my eyes. The details of his story are few, but here are some key points worth reflecting on. Continue reading
They say if you want to remember a particular moment in your life, you should listen to a piece of music. Melodies help us recall the very shape and form of an experience or moment in time. The same can be said about fragrance. Wear one type of perfume for a set period and you will always associate that scent with that same period in your life.
During her last month of volunteer service in the Holy Land, my sister-in-law listened to one selection of music only. Upon her return home and whenever she heard those specific melodies, she would immediately be carried away to Israel where the memories of her last few weeks in paradise replayed vividly in her heart, mind and soul.
The Writings of the Faith have a very similar effect on one’s senses. They are a melody, a fragrance, and they have the power to transport you to a different time or place – conjuring up memories, feelings and emotions of times gone by. Continue reading
Every year Baha’is from all over the world and of all cultural backgrounds celebrate Naw-Ruz on the day of the vernal equinox in the Northern Hemisphere, with Tihran, the birthplace of Baha’u’llah, as its standard.
Naw-Ruz has its origins as a Zoroastrian observance in ancient Iran and, to this day, is celebrated as a cultural festival by Iranians of all religious backgrounds. In addition to being celebrated by Iranians and members of the Iranian diaspora, the observance of Naw-Ruz has also spread to many other parts of the world, and is celebrated as a cultural holiday in India, Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Iraqi Kurdistan, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan.
Naw-Ruz, which means “New Day”, is celebrated at the vernal equinox, on the first day of spring. It is a time of joy and celebration, with the darkness of winter coming to an end and the reappearance of light, warmth and the beauty of spring’s flowers. It is a day of new beginnings, of change and hope.
However, for Baha’is, Naw-Ruz also has deep spiritual significance. Naw-Ruz marks the end of the 19-day Baha’i Fast, which is a period of reflection and profound spiritual reinvigoration for Baha’is. Naw-Ruz was ordained by Baha’u’llah as a celebration of humanity’s “spiritual springtime”: the Baha’i dispensation.
Attending church with my family as a child was for me, as a kid with the attention span of a fly, a weekly three-hour long ordeal. I remember sitting in the pews observing the same elaborate ceremonies every week and not understanding why we were doing any of it. I was not alone either. My friends, just as bored and disgruntled, would complain about the length and repetition of the rituals, challenging our parents to show us where in the bible Jesus makes mention of any these rituals.
Our parents would smile patiently and urge us to see the beauty in our traditions. It’s the way things have always been done, was the common refrain. Not at all a satisfactory answer for a child. Tradition for tradition’s sake! I would exclaim impatiently.
As an adult, however, I am finally able to look back at those very practices and see the beauty in each of those practices. As a child, I considered the solemn chants in Latin to be a earsore, but now, hearing those same chants help me feel more reverent. As a child, I used to make a point of coughing obnoxiously to make my distaste for incense known, but know I understand that incense represents an offering to God borne out of love and devotion. As a child, sitting through those long services each week were a test of my very will to live, but it is only now that I understand the theological significance behind the order of service.
I remember being intrigued, when I first became a Baha’i, by what then seemed like a complete lack of ritual in the Baha’i Faith. Our post last month, “What Christmas means to Baha’is” generated a lot of comments which have got me thinking about the Baha’i approach to rituals and tradition.
Abdu’l-Baha returning to his home on Haparsim Street in Haifa, Israel. (Image courtesy of Baha’i Media Bank)
Abdu’l-Baha was a global revolutionary.
In the Middle East, He led a household that practiced equality between women and men. In Europe, He spoke in churches about the oneness of all the religions. And in America, He emphatically practiced and preached about racial unity.
How one man, in a lifetime lived mostly in exile and imprisonment, managed to affect so many lives around him and lead a nascent faith to spread from one corner of the globe to become a world religion, is a remarkable expression of the mystery of Abdu’l-Baha.
Born the eldest son of Baha’u’llah, Abdu’l-Baha was not a prophet, and did not have any type of ‘mystic unity’ with Baha’u’llah. But He did perfectly reflect the teachings of His father – so much so that He was titled the Mystery of God.
In Abdu’l-Baha, the ‘incompatible characteristics of a human nature and a superhuman knowledge and perfection’ were blended and ‘completely harmonised’. There are endless accounts of Abdu’l-Baha’s magnetic personage, approachability, kindliness and love that personify His mystery.
One of the early American Baha’is said it is through the heart that we best glimpse Abdu’l-Baha’s special nature. So here I’ve given my personal top 5 reasons, from the heart, as to why Abdu’l-Baha was a mystery. Continue reading
The Shrine of the Bab located on Mt. Carmel in Haifa, Israel. (Photo: Baha'i World Centre)
The Bab was born in Shiraz, Persia (Iran) on October 20, 1819. He was born into a middle class family of merchants and tradesmen who were known for their fairness and piety.
There are very few details known about the circumstances surrounding the birth of the Bab.
Photo: Courtesy of the Baha'i International Community
As Baha’is, we believe that the foundation of all the divine religions is one. Ever so often, we’ll be putting up posts for our ‘Changeless Faith Series’, in which we look closer at some of the similarities between the divine religions, in an attempt to more fully understand what Baha’u’llah meant when he said “This is the changeless Faith of God, eternal in the past, eternal in the future”.
Why do the Prophets of God go through hardships and, in some cases, even martyrdom? Perhaps the real question is: why has humanity persecuted every single Manifestation or Prophet of God throughout history? As a history major with a keen interest in both religion and history, these are two questions that have always fascinated me to the point of utter wonderment.
There are only two Manifestations that we know of in recorded history who have suffered martyrdom: Jesus Christ and the Bab. Apart from this one very important similarity between Jesus Christ and the Bab, there are numerous other similarities between them, with regards to their lives, their ministries and the events surrounding their Martyrdom.