Northern Illinois Bahá'ís

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How to Find Real Pleasure

Baha'i Teachings.org - 8 hours 19 min ago

From birth, human beings instinctually try to satisfy our physical needs and wants like the animals do – for food, water, shelter, and procreation so the species can survive. Is...

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Categories: Bahá'í Blogs

The Legend of the Eastern Algonquian Holy Man Gluskap

Baha'i Teachings.org - 10 hours 20 min ago

Preserving indigenous languages goes hand-in-hand with preserving indigenous cultures and sacred traditions. If that doesn’t happen, humanity will lose much of its rich spiritual heritage forever. To examine those preservation...

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Categories: Bahá'í Blogs

Where Do Baha’is Worship and Meet?

Baha'i Teachings.org - Wed, 12/04/2019 - 10:02am

My quest to understand the Baha’i Faith – and to understand whether I wanted to actually become a Baha’i – followed me from California’s Mojave Desert to forests of Europe....

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Categories: Bahá'í Blogs

One Good Deed Pays Big Dividends

Baha'i Teachings.org - Wed, 12/04/2019 - 8:00am

One February day in 2018, Evoni Williams worked another shift at a Texas Waffle House – and one good deed changed the life of this 18-year-old high school graduate trying...

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Categories: Bahá'í Blogs

Biography of Hand of the Cause of God, Mr. Ali-Akbar Furutan

Baha'i Blog - Wed, 12/04/2019 - 12:35am

Iran Furutan Muhajir has written a biography of her beloved father Hand of the Cause of God Ali-Akbar Furutan. The US Baha’i Publishing Trust writes that to read this book, “is to read the story of the Baha’i Faith in the twentieth century and to catch a glimpse of a man who devoted himself wholly and selflessly to the service of humanity.” From his years as a youth and secretary of the first National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’is of Iran, to the loving manner in which he served as a Hand of the Cause, this book “is not merely the definitive biography of a beloved figure but a gift to the Baha’is of the world.”

It is our esteemed pleasure to share with you what Iran Furutan Muhajir told us about this book, titled Hand of the Cause of God Furutan.

Here’s our conversation:

Baha’i Blog: Can you tell us a little bit about the book and why you decided to write it?

My father, Hand of the Cause of God Mr Furutan, was reluctant to write anything about himself. Years ago he had written a short version of his biography called Hikayate Del, The Story of My Heart, which was translated into English from Farsi. However it did not reflect the vast scope of his service in Iran while serving for more than twenty years as the Secretary of the National Spiritual Assembly from the first day of its inception. For years I asked him to write a little more about his life. After his passing to the Abha Kingdom, I found a seventy page note book in his handwriting in Farsi about some of his events of his life. He had put a note on it that it should go to me after his passing and had given me permission to do what I wanted with it. It took me about three years to research about his life of service and then I sat to write his biography and translated and included his memoirs in it.

Baha’i Blog: What was the experience of writing this book for you like personally?

I had written the biography of my husband, Hand of the Cause of God Dr. Muhajir, and thought with that experience it should be easier to write about my father. However, it was not so.

Author Iran Furutan Muhajir

Baha’i Blog: What were some of the challenges in writing this book?

The years of his service in Iran was so full of tragic events for the Baha’i community and also great triumphs, that I had to pick and choose. Otherwise his biography would need several volumes. I had to set aside many confidential events. Letters of the beloved Guardian to him had to be translated from Farsi and be approved by the Universal House of Justice.

Baha’i Blog: What do you hope readers walk away with after reading the book?

My father was such a loved person in the Baha’i world that I do not believe my meager effort has shown the extent of his personality, his humility, his humor and his love for the Baha’i friends. My hope is that this book will open a small window into his life and could be a remembrance of him in the homes of the Baha’i friends.

One day he told me, “If in future you write something about me, do not extoll me too much!” I laughed and replied, “You do not allow me to write anything about you in your lifetime. Once you are in the Abha Kingdom you will not even look down on me. So why would you care?” He smiled his wonderful smile and sighed and said, “Alright, do what you want. But do not exaggerate!”

I am sure in future more skilled writers than I will produce books about the Hands of the Cause of God. I just tried to gather a few instances of his life of service. I loved him with all my heart and hope he is not dissatisfied with my humble effort.

Baha’i Blog: We are really grateful to you for taking the time to do this interview, and thank you so much for sharing this with us.

A copy of the book Hand of the Cause of God Furutan can be purchssed here from the US Baha’i book distribution service.

If you’d like to know more about the Hands of the Cause, you might find this introductory article on Baha’i Blog of interest: Who Were the Hands of the Cause?

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Categories: Bahá'í Blogs

Growing Little Champions of Justice – via True Children’s Stories

Baha'i Teachings.org - Tue, 12/03/2019 - 10:50am

When the creators of First Valley Books saw a lack of diversity and empowering content on their children’s bookshelves, they decided to take matters into their own hands. They began...

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Categories: Bahá'í Blogs

What If a New Religion Began to Emerge?

Baha'i Teachings.org - Tue, 12/03/2019 - 8:00am

“I know I have good motives—that love forms my personal ideology—but your ideology is based on hatred”—that’s the underlying assumption of the bias called motive attribution asymmetry, or MAA. If...

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Categories: Bahá'í Blogs

Milestone for Vanuatu Temple Uplifts, Galvanizes Island

Baha'i Teachings.org - Mon, 12/02/2019 - 10:00am

A unifying and festive ceremony marked the groundbreaking of the local Baha’i House of Worship for the island of Tanna in Vanuatu.  About 2,000 people were joined by representatives of...

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Categories: Bahá'í Blogs

The Spiritual Symbolism of the Sun

Baha'i Teachings.org - Mon, 12/02/2019 - 8:00am

I love the sun, the way it shapeshifts as it moves throughout the sky, the way it warms my community’s mood and lightens the entire world. Mention of the sun...

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Categories: Bahá'í Blogs

How the World Beyond Influences this World

Baha'i Teachings.org - Sun, 12/01/2019 - 10:00am

Let’s take a look at the idea of dynamic interactions between this world and the next by reversing the perspective and asking this question: “Does the world beyond have any...

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Categories: Bahá'í Blogs

Why I Waited to Become a Baha’i

Baha'i Teachings.org - Sun, 12/01/2019 - 8:00am

Baha’u’llah, my mother and I learned when we began hearing about the Baha’i Faith, brought a new set of teachings which held the answers to the modern world’s problems.  Eventually,...

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Categories: Bahá'í Blogs

Overcoming Violence with Love

Baha'i Teachings.org - Sat, 11/30/2019 - 10:00am

We humans have a dual nature – we can act more savagely than the most voracious predator, or we can evince a caring, compassionate aspect that goes back more than...

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Categories: Bahá'í Blogs

Thinkers Challenge Social Structures, Link Women’s Empowerment to Peace And Progress

Baha'i Teachings.org - Sat, 11/30/2019 - 8:00am

In a recent conference held by the Baha’i Chair for World Peace, academics and practitioners from diverse fields examined the inseparable relationship between the advancement of women and the creation of...

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Categories: Bahá'í Blogs

Being Light – Even When Life Gets Heavy

Baha'i Teachings.org - Fri, 11/29/2019 - 8:00pm

The rocking chair is delicate and low to the ground, made of warm brown wood, twisted on a spindle. The “nursing rocker,” Dad and I call it.  My mother sat...

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Categories: Bahá'í Blogs

Charting a Steady Course through the Turbulent Waters of Racism

Baha'i Teachings.org - Fri, 11/29/2019 - 10:00am

Several years ago, while traveling in Panama, I found myself in a small motor boat en route to a tiny island near the seaside town of Portobelo.   Just after sunset...

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Categories: Bahá'í Blogs

Gate of Heaven: An Album Dedicated to the Bicentenary of the Birth of the Bab by Luke Slott

Baha'i Blog - Fri, 11/29/2019 - 8:04am

Over the last two years, Baha’is and their friends around the world have been celebrating two landmark occasions: firstly, the bicentenary anniversary of the Birth of Baha’u’llah in 2017, and now in 2019, the bicentenary anniversary of the Birth of the Bab. In relation to these two special anniversaries, the Universal House of Justice wrote that “At the heart of these festivities must be a concerted effort to convey a sense of what it means for humanity that these two Luminaries rose successively above the horizon of the world. Of course, this will take different forms in different contexts, extending to a myriad artistic and cultural expressions, including songs, audio-visual presentations, publications and books.”

Over the course of these two special years, we personally have witnessed a wonderful response of artistic expression from around the world. One of the efforts came from singer-songwriter Luke Slott, who decided early on to honor these two special occasions by releasing two albums: the first is called Year of the Nightingale, to honor Baha’u’llah, and the second and more recent album is called Gate of Heaven, to honor the Bab.

During these special two years, Luke has been touring the world, sharing his music and the teachings of the Bab and Baha’u’llah to audiences both large and small.

We’ve had Luke as a guest on our podcast series called the Baha’i Blogcast with Rainn Wilson, and you can listen to that episode here. A couple of years ago we interviewed him about Year of the Nightingale, but we wanted to hear more about his new album called Gate of Heaven, so we caught with Luke to find out more:

Baha’i Blog: Hi Luke! Can you tell us what is the main idea behind this album and what inspired you to do it?

The main idea of Gate of Heaven is to highlight the significance of the life and teachings of the Bab, particularly during 2019, which marks the 200th anniversary of His birth. All the songs on the album (except Tablet of Ahmad) are based on the Writings and sayings of the Bab.

The album was made possible through a Kickstarter Campaign, which I launched back in 2016 to raise funds for Year of the Nightingale, an album produced in honor of the bicentenary of the Birth of Baha’u’llah (which was celebrated in 2017). That campaign was so abundantly supported that it provided the means to produce both Year of the Nightingale and Gate of Heaven as ’twin albums’ for the Twin Bicentenaries. So the album was largely motivated by the generosity of my Kickstarter backers.

Baha’i Blog: Is there anything about the Bab or His Dispensation which really came to mind and really helped inspire this album?

Writing the new songs gave me an opportunity to spend time with the Bab’s Writings in a way that I never had before. Sitting with His words for long periods and setting them to music gave me a whole new appreciation of who He was and what it might have been like to meet Him. His personality seemed to have an unusual combination of tender-heartedness, humility, and king-like majesty.

The whole recording process was permeated with conversations about Him. Every morning, before we began recording, myself and Kelly (Snook) – the producer and engineer of both Year of the Nightingale and Gate of Heaven – and any of the other musicians who were present, would sit together and read a few pages from Nader Saiedi’s book, Gate of the Heart: Understanding the Writings of the Bab. Our morning reading would then influence our studio work throughout the day.

We were also very fortunate to have Dr. Steven Phelps living just five minutes away from the studio. Having served in the archives of the Baha’i World Centre for many years, Steven had a plethora of insights to share with us about the teachings of the Bab. Between recording sessions, we would often go for tea at Steven’s house or he would visit us in the studio, always willing to share with us some riveting insight from his own studies of the Bab. According to the Bab, everything that exists has its own state of ‘heaven’ and its own state of ‘hell’. To bring something, say, a piece of art, a meal, a relationship, a conversation, to its highest potential is to bring it to its own state of heaven. And to prevent something (or someone) from expressing and developing their higher nature is to imprison that thing or person in their own state of hell. The Bab’s teachings on refinement, the pursuit of excellence in all things, and the importance of the beautification of life, were concepts that had a profound impact on our approach to the album.

Baha’i Blog: What do you hope listeners will walk away with after hearing your music, and this album in particular?

J.S. Bach said, ‘The aim and final end of all music should be none other than the glory of God and the refreshment of the soul.’ I always hope that my music offers strength, solace and spiritual refreshment to its listeners. With this album in particular, I hope it awakens in people a new love for the Writings of the Bab, and a fresh curiosity about His life and teachings, and how those teachings can benefit people’s lives today. If the album inspires someone to pick up The Dawn-Breakers or any other book about the Bab with a desire to learn more about Him, I would feel it has fulfilled a worthwhile purpose.

Baha’i Blog: How was this album different to some of the rest of your albums, and what did you try and focus on when writing it?

We recorded the album at Kelly’s studio at Harmony House in Lake Oswego, Oregon. At Harmony House, we were surrounded by an amazingly supportive family, the Badiyans, and a wonderfully vibrant community with many artistic, social and spiritual activities happening right on the doorstep of the studio. We were also blessed to have a team of outstanding musicians work on the album – Diane Badie, Jasmine Olinga, Emily Alves, Ian and Jason Rafalak, Anwar Marshall, Adam Siegel, Cora Venus Lunny, Eric Dozier and Vyvienne Long seemed like a kind of super-band brought together to enhance the songs.

Whereas the songs on Year of the Nightingale had been recorded in staggered stages over a period of many years and in many different places, Gate of Heaven was a singularly focused project, recorded almost entirely in the studio at Harmony House. It was a lot of work in a short period of time. Kelly and I often reflected on how the intensity of focus required and the limited time available to make the album seemed somehow appropriate in paying homage to the Bab, who accomplished so much in such a short time. Without the loving support of our spiritual family and community surrounding us, the album could not have been made.

One aspect of the Bab’s teachings that we focused on a lot in the studio was the seemingly infinite layers of symbolic meaning that He would draw out from both His own Writings and other sacred scriptures such as the Quran and the Bible. In the writing and production process, we tried to reflect this element of the Bab’s message through the use of multiple, interweaving layers of sounds, melodies and harmonies.

Baha’i Blog: You’ve been touring a lot over the last two years to share the teachings of the Baha’i Faith through storytelling and music. Can you tell us why these two years are special and what that journey has been like for you personally?

The period of 2017-2019 marks the bicentenaries of the Births of both Baha’u’llah (born in 1817) and the Bab (born in 1819) so it is a special period of worldwide celebration.

Along with recording the two ‘bicentenary’ albums, I really wanted to spend these years doing community-based tours, giving concerts that could acquaint people with the story of Baha’u’llah and the Bab through the vehicle of live music. I’m extremely fortunate to now be in the process of making these community tours sustainable, largely through the Patreon crowdfunding platform. Thanks to the support of my patrons, I have been able to offer these concerts over the last few years in the US, Canada, Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Samoa, and right now, the Middle East.

Being able to collaborate with different communities and to meet Baha’is and their friends of different cultures working together towards a common goal has been personally transformative for me. The work feels like a calling and I am thankful to be doing the thing that is most meaningful in my life. Of course, each tour brings its own unique challenges so I’ve gotten into the habit of typing all my learnings into my phone as I travel. Every time some new lesson comes up, I jot it into my notes app and tag it with the hashtag #learning. Then, at the end of each tour, I can search for that hashtag, review all my learnings, and try to apply them as I move forward. The tours have been personally galvanizing and I am eager to continue developing this work into the future.

Baha’i Blog: Is there anything else you’d like to share with us, Luke?

For the past few years, all my work has revolved primarily around the two bicentenary celebrations. Now that the bicentenary period is coming to end, I’d like to ask my listeners what they would like me to do next. A new phase is beginning and I’m excited at the prospect of exploring new creative avenues. Friends, I would be delighted if you might leave a comment below and let me know what you would like me to work on next!

Baha’i Blog: Thanks so much for taking the time to do this interview, Luke, and it would be great to hear from our readers about what they would like to see you work on next. Congratulations on such a beautiful album, and we’re looking forward to hearing some more of your music in the near future!

You can listen to and get your copy of Gate of Heaven here on Luke Slott’s website.

Also, check out Luke Slott’s ‘Gate of Heaven Video Diary’ below:

The post Gate of Heaven: An Album Dedicated to the Bicentenary of the Birth of the Bab by Luke Slott appeared first on Baha'i Arts, Stories and Media.

Categories: Bahá'í Blogs

Keeping Indigenous Languages – and Adopting a Universal One

Baha'i Teachings.org - Thu, 11/28/2019 - 10:00am

The United Nations officially designated 2019 as the UN International Year of Indigenous Languages – so what does that mean from a Baha’i perspective? In this ongoing conversation about Indigenous...

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Categories: Bahá'í Blogs

So What Did the Bab Teach?

Baha'i Teachings.org - Thu, 11/28/2019 - 8:00am

As I wrote in the first part of this two-part series, I initially learned about the Bab through my storyteller-friend Ross.  While in the early stages of my own path...

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Categories: Bahá'í Blogs

Battling Bias Where it Begins: In Ourselves

Baha'i Teachings.org - Wed, 11/27/2019 - 10:00am

A recent scientific study on biased motives asked a profound question: Why are so many conflicts so intractable when people on both sides could gain from a compromise? You can...

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Categories: Bahá'í Blogs

Love and Grief: the Passing of Abdu’l-Baha

Baha'i Teachings.org - Wed, 11/27/2019 - 8:03am

When someone we love passes away, we can’t help asking ourselves, “Has the love this wonderful person brought into the world departed forever?” Grief works that way. It can leave...

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Categories: Bahá'í Blogs

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