As the teachings of the Baha’i Faith encourage everyone to serve others, many Baha’is choose to dedicate a year or more of their lives to full-time volunteering, whether it be by assisting with community-building efforts in a specific neighbourhood or village, or helping at a school, Baha’i temple, or even at the Baha’i World Centre in the Holy Land. This period of time is often referred to as a “year of service”.
My dear friend Nasim, a young Baha’i in Australia, decided to take a year off and spend it serving at the Baha’i World Centre in Haifa, Israel. When she returned to her home in Sydney, she decided to put a book together about her experiences. The book is called A Year of Blessings, and I caught up with Nasim to find out more about it:
Baha’i Blog: Hi Nasim! Can you tell us a little bit about the book and what it’s about?
This book is about my reflections on the spiritual blessings and transformative lessons I experienced during my year of service in the Holy Land (Haifa, Israel) back in 2018-2019. It shares glimpses of the beautiful, sacrificial and rewarding experience of devoting a full year serving at the Baha’i World Centre, and how it strengthened my love, certitude, and devotion to our Beloved Cause. In the book, I share stories about how tests (a.k.a. blessings in disguise) helped me grow and strengthen many spiritual qualities such as patience, resilience, love, wisdom, and steadfastness, to name a few. The book features full-page photographs of Baha’i Holy Places that I had the chance to photograph in the cities of Haifa, Akka, and in Bahji, as well as a compilation of quotations from the Baha’i Writings that inspired me. I hope these will also inspire the readers and encourage them to ponder their meaning as they continue serving in their respective fields.
Participants ascending the terraces at the opening of the Terraces of the Shrine of the Bab, 23 May 2001. Photo courtesy of the Baha'i International Community.
On one glorious evening twenty years ago, people from around the world gathered in person and via television to celebrate the inauguration of a wonder of the world.
They witnessed the spectacularly beautiful ceremony on 22 May, 2001 held to mark the opening of the Terraces of the Shrine of Bab on Mount Carmel in Haifa, Israel. Continue reading
The gardens surrounding the Shrines of the Bab and Baha’u’llah in Israel are open to the public at designated times and they are visited by more than one million guests every year! In 2008, these unique structures and gardens were inscribed on the UNESCO’s World Heritage List in recognition of their “outstanding universal value” as holy places and places of pilgrimage for followers of the Baha’i Faith.
As a precautionary measure and in compliance with health regulations regarding the coronavirus, the Shrines and their surrounding gardens have been closed. However, www.ganbahai.org.il, which is the official public website for visitor information to these holy places has just launched a new gallery of images and videos, including historical ones, so you can visit these special places from home. You can see them all here: http://gallery.ganbahai.org.il/
The Baha’i World News Service just launched a new section to their website dedicated to developments of the construction of the Shrine of Abdu’l-Baha. You’ll find that special section of their website here. Continue reading
As Baha’is around the world prepare to commemorate the Martyrdom of the Bab in a few days, and with the bicentenary of the Birth of the Bab around the corner, I wanted to share that five new video clips of aerial footage of the Shrine of the Bab, located in Haifa, Israel, have recently been added to the Baha’i Media Bank, and from what I can tell, it’s the first time video has been added to the collection. Continue reading
Baha’i Blog celebrates its birthday every year just after Naw-Ruz, and now that we’ve just celebrated our seventh year of Baha’i blogging, it’s time for our annual ‘Top 10’ countdown of Baha’i Blog’s most popular posts.
As you know, Baha’i Blog has an Article section, a Video section, an Audio section, an Image Gallery, a YouTube Channel and a Soundcloud page, but written articles are the first thing we started out with, and they range from news and personal reflections, to interviews and tributes.
We’re also always looking for contributions from new writers here at Baha’i Blog, so whether you’re a seasoned wordsmith or an inexperienced newbie, we would love to have you on board. If you’re interested in trying your hand at blogging about the Baha’i Faith and have an idea for a blog post that you think would fit right in, then have a read of our ‘Write For Us‘ and ‘Editorial Values‘ pages, and then send an email to: [email protected]
Now on with this Top 10 countdown! We’ve listed below, the 10 most read Baha’i Blog articles of the last year (from Naw-Ruz 2017 to Naw-Ruz 2018), based on Google Analytics. So now ladies and gentlemen, here’s the countdown starting from number 10: Continue reading
Pictured to the right is the Seat of the Universal House of Justice and on the left is the International Teaching Centre building. Both are located on Mt. Carmel in Haifa, Israel. (Photo: Iain Simmons via Flickr)
For centuries, the Holy Land has been recognised as sacred for Judaism, Christianity and Islam.
Moses and Jesus established their religions there, and Muhammad visited on His night journey and ascension.
But how did this land on the shores of the Mediterranean come to be associated with the Baha’i Faith, a religion born in Persia, more than 1500 kilometers away? Continue reading
The Shrine of the Bab, located on Mount Carmel in Haifa, Israel, is where the remains of the Bab are buried. Baha'is who are able to go on pilgrimage to the Holy Land have a special opportunity to pay their respects and say prayers at the Shrine. (Photo: BWC)
On July 9th, 1850, the Bab, the forerunner to Baha’u’llah, the Prophet founder of the Baha’i Faith was executed in Tabriz, Persia by a firing squad of 750 men. The Bab, which means ‘the Gate’ in Arabic, was a Messenger of God, whose role can be likened to that of John the Baptist (who told of the coming of Christ) in heralding the coming of the latest Manifestation of God: Baha’u’llah.
Baha’is around the world commemorate the Martyrdom of the Bab as a holy day where work should be suspended, and for those Baha’is who are able to go on pilgrimage to the Holy Land in their lifetime, they have a special opportunity to pay their respects and say prayers at the Shrine of the Bab where His remains are buried. Continue reading
On May 29, 1892, shortly before dawn began to break, Baha’u’llah passed on from this mortal life and His spirit was finally “released from the toils of a life crowded with tribulations.”[i] He was surrounded only by family members and a small but loyal band of followers. His body was laid to rest, reverently and without any extravagant ceremony, in one of the buildings of the property in Bahji, outside of Akka, Israel, where He had spent the last twelve years of His life. He died a prisoner, a captive of one of the many governments that had persecuted Him for the past forty years and exiled Him from Tehran to Baghdad to Constanstinople to Adrianople to Akka and finally to Bahji. In fact, of the countless themes which run through Baha’u’llah’s Writings, his imprisonment and suffering is one of the most recurring: Continue reading
The Mansion of Bahji, located in Akka (Acre), Israel, is the home where Bahá’u’lláh, the founder of the Bahá’í Faith died in 1892. The Shrine of Bahá’u’lláh, is located next to this mansion. (Photo courtesy Iain Simmons via Flickr).
From the earliest times, pilgrimage has been a cherished part of human life, be it individual or collective. Whether it was the ancient Greeks making the arduous journey to Delphi to consult the Oracle, or the Frankish knights and their kings making crusade to “free” Jerusalem, Hindus making the journey to Varanasi to immerse themselves in the sacred waters of the Ganges or Buddhists to Kandy in Sri Lanka to revere the sacred tooth relic of Lord Buddha, many and diverse are the reasons for which men and women have undertaken the journey of pilgrimage, with its attendant trials and tests.
In the Bahá’í context, pilgrimage is a law ordained by Bahá’u’lláh in the Most Holy Book, the Kitáb-i-Aqdas. In this Book, Bahá’u’lláh prescribes that all Bahá’ís who are able should strive to make pilgrimage to one of the two Great Houses, i.e. the House of the Báb in Shíráz and the House of Bahá’u’lláh in Baghdád. However, after the passing of Bahá’u’lláh, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá designated the Shrine of Bahá’u’lláh at Bahjí as a place of pilgrimage, and stated that it is “obligatory” to visit these places “if one can afford it and is able to do so, and if no obstacle stands in one’s way”. Today, Bahá’ís make their pilgrimage at the invitation, and as honoured guests, of the Supreme Body of the Bahá’í Faith, the Universal House of Justice. The Shrines and other holy places are located in and around the cities of Haifa and ‘Akká in the Holy Land.
But what, our friends may ask, is the act of pilgrimage itself? What rites or rituals are involved? Before I continue, I should make it clear that each individual experiences their pilgrimage differently, and it is very personal. While sharing my thoughts and experiences in this post, it is not my intention to set certain expectations or a prescription of how people should feel while experiencing pilgrimage. My aim is to simply share some of my own thoughts and experiences in an attempt to answer, as simply as possible, the common question of “What is Baha’i pilgrimage?” Continue reading