Northern Illinois Bahá'ís

Bahá'í Blogs

Should Children Inherit their Parents’ Religion?

Baha'i Teachings.org - Wed, 10/02/2019 - 8:00am

Should children inherit their parents’ religion? This fraught, emotionally-loaded question, so sensitive to so many people, brings up a major controversy raging around the world today. To gather some factual...

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Categories: Bahá'í Blogs

Don’t Hesitate to Be Kind

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

Do you believe, as I do, what Anne Frank said in her diary during the dark days her family hid from the Nazis during World War II? She wrote “In...

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Categories: Bahá'í Blogs

Message from the Universal House of Justice Marking the Bicentenary of the Birth of the Bab

Baha'i Blog - Tue, 10/01/2019 - 9:30am

The Universal House of Justice has just released a message marking the occasion of the bicentenary of the Birth of the Bab, Prophet-herald of the Baha’i Faith.

The letter can be found on the Baha’i International Community’s website dedicated to the bicentenary of the Birth of the Bab and is available in several languages: bicentenary.bahai.org

Here is the message from the Universal House of Justice in English: Message from the Universal House of Justice Marking the Bicentenary of the Birth of the Bab

We have also included the message in full below:

 

October 2019

 

To all who have come to honour the Herald of a new Dawn

 

Dearly loved Friends,

 

Consider with us. Whenever a divine Educator appears in the world, a Figure Whose teachings will come to shape human thought and action for centuries thereafter—at such a dramatic, seismic moment, what would we expect?

 

The appearance of every such Educator, as recorded in the Sacred Texts of the world’s great faiths, is a pivotal event that propels the advancement of civilization. The spiritual stimulus each has provided throughout history has enabled the radius of human cooperation to extend from the clan, to the tribe, to the city-state, and to the nation. And each of these great Teachers promised that, in time, another divine Figure would appear, Whose advent should be anticipated and Whose influence would reform the world. No wonder, then, that the coming of the Bab, Whose Birth two centuries ago we now honour, gave rise to unprecedented ferment in the country where He was born. The moment of His appearance, like the appearance of all such Figures, precipitated the release of powerful spiritual forces—but there was no accompanying spectacle. There was instead a late evening conversation, in a modest Persian dwelling, between a student of religion and his youthful Host, during which that Host revealed that He was the Promised One, the divine Educator His guest had been seeking. “Observe attentively,” He remarked, “Might not the Person intended … be none other than I?” It is this Youth, the Bab, that we acclaim as the One Whose coming—after an interval of a thousand years—shed the light of divine guidance once again upon the human world.

 

From this first moment unfolded all that has since come to pass. The Bab’s Writings flowed profusely from His pen, disclosing profound truths, dismissing superstitions that held sway in His day, urging the people to recognize the significance of the times, castigating the hypocrisy of their leaders, and summoning the world to an exalted standard of conduct. “O peoples of the earth!” He declares in one of His major works, “Verily the resplendent Light of God hath appeared in your midst … that ye may be guided aright to the ways of peace and, by the leave of God, step out of the darkness into the light and onto this far-extended Path of Truth.” His influence spread with extraordinary rapidity, reaching beyond the limits of Persia. Observers were astonished alike by the fast-swelling numbers of His followers and by their deeds of unsurpassed bravery and devotion. Accounts of the Bab’s life—the swift arc it traced and the tragic drama that ended it—induced curious souls to travel to Persia and investigate further, and inspired a range of artistic tributes to His Person.

 

The brilliance of the light of the Bab seems the more dazzling when set against the darkness of the social milieu in which He appeared. Nineteenth-century Persia was far removed from its glory days when its civilization was the envy of the world. Ignorance now prevailed; senseless dogmas went unchallenged; inequality was fuelled by rampant corruption. Religion, the foundation of Persia’s former prosperity, had become a body devoid of its animating spirit. Each succeeding year offered the subjugated masses only disillusionment and hopelessness. Oppression was complete. Then, like a spring storm, the Bab came to purge and purify, to uproot the withered and spent customs of a wayward age, and to wash away the obscuring dust from the eyes of those blinded by illusion. But the Bab had a special object in view. He sought to prepare people for the imminent appearance of Baha’u’llah—the second of the Twin Luminaries destined to bring new light to humankind. This was His most insistent theme. “When the Daystar of Baha will shine resplendent above the horizon of eternity”, He instructed His followers, “it is incumbent upon you to present yourselves before His Throne.”

 

Thus did the Bab and, with even greater splendour, Baha’u’llah illuminate a society and an age shrouded in darkness. They inaugurated a new stage in social evolution: the stage of the unification of the entire human family. The spiritual energies They released into the world infused a new life into every sphere of endeavour, the results of which are evident in the transformation that has occurred. Material civilization has advanced immeasurably; astounding breakthroughs in science and technology have been achieved; the gates to the accumulated knowledge of humanity have been flung open. And principles set out by Baha’u’llah for the upliftment and progress of society and for ending systems of domination and exclusion have come to be widely accepted. Consider His teaching that humanity is one people, or that women are equal with men, or that education must be universal, or that rational investigation of the truth must prevail over fanciful theories and prejudices. Across all nations, a large segment of the world’s people now agrees with these fundamental values.

 

Nevertheless, arguments against these values, previously confined to the margins of serious thought, are also resurgent in society—a reminder that ideals require the force of spiritual commitment to cement them. For it is one thing to acknowledge something in principle; it is quite another to embrace it with all of one’s heart, and harder still to refashion society in ways that give collective expression to it. Yet this is the aim of communities emerging across the globe that are patterned on Baha’u’llah’s teachings. These communities are striving to focus the light of those teachings on the chronic problems that afflict the societies around them; they are devising programmes of practical action centred on spiritual precepts. These are communities that champion the education of both girls and boys under all circumstances; that subscribe to an expanded conception of worship which includes work carried out in the spirit of service; that look to spiritual aspirations, rather than self-interest, as the ever-flowing springs of motivation; and that inculcate a resolve to advance individual and social transformation. They seek to bring about spiritual, social, and material progress simultaneously. Above all, these are communities that define themselves by their commitment to the oneness of humanity. They value the rich diversity represented by all the world’s kindreds, while maintaining that one’s identity as a member of the human race has precedence before other identities and associations. They affirm the need for a global consciousness, arising from a shared concern for the well-being of humankind, and they count all the peoples of the earth as spiritual brothers and sisters. Not content with simply belonging to such communities, Baha’u’llah’s followers are making constant effort to invite like-minded souls to join them in learning how to put His teachings into effect.

 

This brings us to the crux of our case. The matter at hand is a challenging one, and requires candour. There are many noble and admirable causes in the world, and they arise from particular perspectives, each with its own merit. Is the Cause of Baha’u’llah merely one amongst them? Or is it universal, embodying the highest ideals of all humanity? After all, a Cause that is to be the wellspring of enduring justice and peace—not for one place or one people, but for all places and all peoples—must be inexhaustible, must possess a heavenly vitality that allows it to transcend all limitations and encompass every dimension of the life of humanity. Ultimately, it must have the power to transform the human heart. Then let us, like the Bab’s guest, observe attentively. Does not the Cause of Baha’u’llah possess these very qualities?

 

If the teachings brought by Baha’u’llah are what will enable humanity to advance to the highest levels of unity, then one must search the soul for the right response. The multitudes who recognized the Bab were summoned to heroism, and their magnificent response is recorded by history. Let every one who is awake to the condition of the world, and to the persistent evils that warp the lives of its inhabitants, heed Baha’u’llah’s call to selfless and steadfast service—heroism for the present age. What else will rescue the world but the efforts of countless souls who each make the welfare of humanity their principal, their dominating concern?

 

– The Universal House of Justice

 

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Categories: Bahá'í Blogs

Does Your Online Presence Mirror Your Values?

Baha'i Teachings.org - Tue, 10/01/2019 - 8:00am

If you’re an adult, try to imagine the life of a young person right now. Do you think growing up in today’s culture would be harder than growing up in...

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Categories: Bahá'í Blogs

Ageism and the International Day of Older Persons

Baha'i Teachings.org - Mon, 09/30/2019 - 10:00am

In a few weeks, I will turn 71, so I feel like an expert on what it’s like to be an “older person”—but I learned more than I ever expected...

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Categories: Bahá'í Blogs

An Activist’s First Step: Stop Passively Consuming Material Goods

Baha'i Teachings.org - Mon, 09/30/2019 - 8:00am

In the first “valley” you’ll travel through on your way to a meaningful, hopeful life engaging with the world, you’ll encounter a fire-breathing dragon: materialism. This first valley will seem...

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Categories: Bahá'í Blogs

What’s the Best Way to Serve Humanity?

Baha'i Teachings.org - Sun, 09/29/2019 - 10:30am

When we consider how best to serve others, it helps to remember that we can rise to the level we set for ourselves—that whatever service we render ought to be...

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Categories: Bahá'í Blogs

Baha’u’llah and the Navajo Talking God

Baha'i Teachings.org - Sun, 09/29/2019 - 9:30am

The Baha’i teachings say that the Bab and Baha’u’llah, the twin holy messengers who heralded and founded the Baha’i Faith, represent the return of the prophets of the past: Contemplate...

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Categories: Bahá'í Blogs

With Oars and Compass – A Novel by Hamed Javaheri About Life’s Purpose

Baha'i Blog - Sat, 09/28/2019 - 7:20pm

With Oars and Compass is a book I wish I had read many years ago. Written by Hamed Javaheri, it frames an exploration of the meaning and purpose of life in a narrative that is philosophical, romantic, and mysterious. We meet Jane Luwi Flynn and get to eavesdrop on the meaningful conversations she has with her friends, her growing friendship and attraction to Xavier, and her recurring dreams. The story pulls the reader along and the conversations among its characters make you pause and think. Compelling, informative, engaging, light-hearted, humorous and thought-provoking, With Oars and Compass would have been a book that I read cover to cover as a teenager and young adult when I was asking myself the same questions Jane asks. But really, it’s a novel for anyone and anytime.

Hamed graciously agreed to share what inspired him to write the novel. Here is our conversation:

Baha’i Blog: Can you tell us a little about yourself?

I was born and raised in Zambia, Southern Africa, and have lived here for most of my life, with the exception of a brief period in Montreal, Canada, where I pursued my university education. My wife and I married when we were young, and we have three children—the first of which is about to venture off for his year of service before he enters university.

As a Baha’i, I am privileged to witness the impact of the Teachings on the human mind—and on youth in particular—as they come to recognize the potential they have to contribute to the wellbeing of their communities, and to the betterment of the world.

Baha’i Blog: What inspired you to write this novel and to tackle such a big question like the purpose and meaning of life?

Author Hamed Javaheri (left) and his family

We live in a world where our sense of purpose seems to be increasingly lost to us. We are preoccupied with our studies, our jobs, our friends, our social circles, and bombarded with advertising, social media, etc. These often end up defining who we are and can leave us feeling a little disenchanted with life, fumbling through daily routines as we continue to look for a sign of what it might all be about.

The inspiration we receive from the Baha’i Writings, and in particular the direction we get from the guidance of the Universal House of Justice, provide us with tools to recognize the distracting forces around us, and paint a different picture of what the world can be like. It gives us a vision to work towards. And when this vision is founded on core principles that are well understood, we are able to take action and see personal and social change.

This book is an effort to share these thoughts, but to try and do it in an accessible and easy way. It is written in novel form, telling the story of a few friends who begin to explore these questions. The hope is that this will make the subject more approachable, and allow for more people to reflect on the question of purpose.

Baha’i Blog: What was the process like to put this book together?


This project started many years ago. As a young adult, I started to explore the question of ‘transformation’, and what it means at a personal and collective level. I found a wealth of guidance in the Writings of the Baha’i Faith, as well as the letters of the Universal House of Justice. As the research continued, a manuscript began to emerge. But it took on a very academic tone.

In consultation, and in light of its potential target audience, a new idea emerged. What if we were to portray these concepts in the form of a novel, where profound principles were conveyed through the medium of storytelling? Would this appeal to a wider circle of youth, demonstrating the impact a clear sense of purpose and direction can have on the life of young adults? The book that emerged tries to learn about this process.

Baha’i Blog: What’s something that you learned while writing this novel?


I actually have very little experience writing, so this has been a very interesting and steep learning curve. It was also fun to try and break down complex concepts in ‘conversations’ between people in a way that makes it easier to understand.

In terms of content, the process of writing the book helped me to really reflect on the core principles that should direct my life, and how these can help to align my thoughts and actions. Living the different characters through the experience of writing the book allowed me to explore this from different angles, and that was also very enjoyable.

Baha’i Blog: What do you hope readers will take away with them, long after they’ve read the last page?


Well, firstly I hope that they will enjoy the read, and get to know Jane Luwi Flynn and her friends, and that they can relate to their lives — living in a big city and trying to figure out the basic questions of life.

But beyond that, I hope that the book will give the reader a sense that life isn’t some winding unpredictable path — a set of random experiences that end up defining who we are. Instead, life is a conscious journey in which we explore reality and understand who we are meant to be — a path along which principles come into sharp focus, shaping our thoughts and actions, and directing us towards a vision of what can be.

Baha’i Blog: Thank you so much, Hamed, for sharing this with us! You can purchase ‘With Oars and Compass’ here on Amazon.

 

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Categories: Bahá'í Blogs

How to Be an Environmentalist—Spiritually

Baha'i Teachings.org - Sat, 09/28/2019 - 10:30am

The climate crisis looming over our heads means if the Earth continues to warm, it will make human life on this planet severely difficult, intensifying many of the other problems...

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Categories: Bahá'í Blogs

Do All the Prophets Sacrifice for Our Redemption?

Baha'i Teachings.org - Sat, 09/28/2019 - 9:30am

If Christ gave his life to redeem the world, I asked myself as a teenager, did other messengers of God do the same? The Baha’i teachings answer that question with...

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Categories: Bahá'í Blogs

Members of Parliament Honor Bicentenary

Baha'i Teachings.org - Fri, 09/27/2019 - 10:00am

Members of the Australian Parliament have honored the historic 200th anniversary of the birth of the Bab, highlighting the contributions of Baha’i communities to the life of their societies.  The...

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Categories: Bahá'í Blogs

Women Are Not Sex Objects

Baha'i Teachings.org - Fri, 09/27/2019 - 8:00am

I wonder what men see when they look at a woman? Do they see a mother, sister, daughter, wife, or friend? Or do they see a sexual object — a...

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Categories: Bahá'í Blogs

Trouble Comes in Threes: Turning Tests into Spiritual Progress

Baha'i Teachings.org - Thu, 09/26/2019 - 10:00am

Do you know the saying “trouble comes in threes”? Does it bring up the memory of a time in your life when everything seemed to go wrong at once? The...

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Categories: Bahá'í Blogs

The Spiritual Forces of Construction and Destruction

Baha'i Teachings.org - Thu, 09/26/2019 - 8:00am

Depending on where you live, you might look around and see a plethora of problems, or you might just learn about the daily disasters in the news while eating your...

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Mulla Husayn: The Unlikely Hero Who Advanced the Cause of Truth

Baha'i Blog - Wed, 09/25/2019 - 7:57pm

You are destined to exhibit such courage, such skill and heroism as shall eclipse the mightiest deeds of the heroes of old. Your daring exploits will win the praise and admiration of the dwellers in the eternal Kingdom. – The Bab to Mulla Husayn in Mahku before His transference to Chihriq

He was frail of form and slender with a fragile frame. 

He appeared before the great clerics and the learned of his time “an insignificant and negligible figure.”

His hand trembled and shook as he wrote.

His childhood friend declared him as one not in possession of strength or bodily endurance.

Contemporary reports indicate he had been sickly as a child and suffered from epilepsy and heart palpitations.

And yet. 

He was the first person to recognise the station of the Bab, which means “the Gate”, the Prophet-herald of the Baha’i Faith, and was given the title Jinab-i Bab’u’l-Bab (Gate of the Gate).

He was the first Letter of the Living appointed by the Bab, a title given by the Bab to His first 18 followers.

He appeared before one of the most formidable and outstanding ecclesiastical dignitaries of Persia at that time in the assemblage of scholars and moved the great Haji Siyyid Muhammad Baqir of Isfahan to tears.

He was the man who with a single stroke of his sword cut across the trunk of a tree, shattering it into six pieces, the barrel of a musket, and the body of his adversary in the battle on the outskirts of Barfurush.

He was the man whose name struck fear and terror in the hearts of his adversaries: “They fled at the mention of him; they trembled at his approach.”

His skill and prowess as an unrivalled warrior in battle made him a legend evoking the enthusiasm of poets across Persia, who lavished praise in tributes of him.

He emerged unscathed and triumphant in each of the four major battles he fought in despite the overwhelming forces arrayed against him, “a period rendered memorable by deeds so heroic that even his bitterest foes felt bowed to confess their wonder.”

He distinguished himself in every encounter with acts of valour, of chivalry, of skill and of strength.

He stunned his comrades who were “mute with wonder” by the “display of his stupendous force, his indomitable will and complete intrepidity.” They said, “We were all convinced that he had ceased to be the Mulla Husayn whom we had known, and that in him resided a spirit which God alone could bestow.”

He was the man whom Baha’u’llah in the Kitab-i-Iqan, personally ascribed with these words:

Among them was Mulla Husayn, who became the recipient of the effulgent glory of the Sun of divine Revelation. But for him, God would not have been established upon the seat of His mercy, nor ascended the throne of eternal glory. 

The first time I properly sat down to read about the person of Mulla Husayn was 10 years ago. I was a young mother going through chemotherapy at that time. I was terrified, weak and bald. To stand at the precipice staring into the abyss of one’s own mortality shook me to the core. And yet as I read about the life of Mulla Husayn, his courage, fearlessness and heroism from 200 years ago reached out to me from the pages of The Dawn-Breakers. This was a young man who, by all accounts, was frail and trembling but lived a life of a warrior.

It is said the Heroic Age of Mulla Husayn is over. But I believe with all my heart that the pattern of his life which made him an unexpected and unlikely hero is not. What was Mulla Husayn’s secret? What transformed this seemingly insignificant youth into one of the greatest legends of our Faith?

The Secret of Stopping

He stopped to prepare himself at the start of his holy quest.

As mind boggling and as counter-intuitive as most of us have been conditioned to live, Mulla Husayn deliberately and purposefully stopped. At every pivotal moment of his life, he stopped.

One of the biggest tasks Mulla Husayn set out to do in obedience to the fervent calls of his beloved teacher Siyyid Kazim before his passing, was to search for the Promised One.

We see that the first thing of great significance that Mulla Husayn did after setting out from Karbila was to stop at the Masjid-i-Kufih to spend “forty days in that place, where he led a life of retirement and prayer.”

So wrapt was he in his devotions and so “immersed in contemplation and prayer” he could neither be interrupted nor distracted during that entire period he had set aside. In The Dawn-Breakers, Nabil writes:

By his fasts and vigils he prepared himself for the holy adventure upon which he was soon to embark.

He stopped even though time was of the essence. He stopped when he was besieged and under fire by fierce some enemies. He stopped to inquire of his Lord. He stopped to receive spiritual guidance. He stopped to nourish his inner life with spiritual sustenance for his mission ahead. He stopped to listen. He stopped to purify himself. He stopped to connect to the Source.

The Secret of Submission

He prayed in the midst of battle.

No matter how pressing or urgent the task before him beckoned, even when his own life was under attack, Mulla Husayn never rushed headlong into battle. He neither succumbed to the pressure of his peers nor the pressing expectations of others to retaliate. He was perturbed by neither the furor to charge ahead in defence, nor the fear to retreat.

In that legendary battle on the outskirts of Barfurush, Mulla Husayn and his companions were besieged by enemies whose “savagery rested upon their countenances, and the foulest imprecations fell unceasingly from their lips.”

Faced with such a fierce and angry lot, Mulla Husayn’s companions were quick to unsheathe their swords. He restrained them, despite their very justified pleas to defend themselves in the line of fire that had immediately claimed six lives. He replied not once, but twice, saying, “Not yet” and, “The time is not yet come.”

After a bullet pierced the breast of a companion, a Siyyid from Yazd, Mulla Husayn raised his eyes to heaven and prayed, “Faithful to Thy command, I now arise with my companions to resist the attack which they have launched against us.”

It would seem that the bedrock of Mulla Husayn’s heroism was rooted in the fact that his every movement and stillness was wholly directed by Him. His was a wholehearted submission and yielding to a higher Voice.

The Secret of Lowliness

You are the lowly, of whom God has thus spoken in His Book. And We desire to show favour to those who were brought low in the land, and to make them spiritual leaders among men, and to make them Our heirs. – The Bab, addressing the Letters of the Living

We have come to believe that heroes are mighty and strong. But Mulla Husayn’s brand of heroism rests in the fact that he was lowly. It is such a profound statement that God favours the lowly. That the very qualities the world deems unworthy and unlikely for success are the very things that spiritual leaders are made of. The legacy of Mulla Husayn is rooted in his lowliness.

The Secret of Being Faithful

He set out in complete single-mindedness to finish every task instructed of him.

Scattered liberally across The Dawn-Breakers is this phrase that its author, Nabil Zarandi, keeps repeating in his narration of Mulla Husayn’s journey.

With complete severance and noble resolve, he set out to achieve his end.

Mulla Husayn set forth, as bidden by his Master, on his journey to Mazandaran.

Mulla Husayn set out immediately to carry out the instructions he had received.

Alone and with a heart wholly detached from all else but God, Mulla Husayn set out on his journey to Mashad.

His entire life’s mission was one of faithfully carrying out to completion the instructions he had received. He never deviated either in spirit nor in letter. Neither did he tarry nor delay in carrying to completion the task set before him. He didn’t linger a moment longer when it was not part of the plan to stay despite the many occasions where lavish hospitality and comforts were assured.

Over the course of his young life, Mulla Husayn carried out, with single-minded resolution, what was instructed to him by Siyyid Kazim, the Bab, Baha’u’llah and Quddus up to his last breath.

Until the hour of his martyrdom, Mulla Husayn remained faithful to his pledge.

The life of Mulla Husayn cannot be confined within the pages of a historical narrative because such a light cannot be dimmed nor weakened over the passage of time. This light finds new expressions of heroism over the ages. May we continue to be confounded by the insignificant, the unlikely and the lowly because that is where unexpected hidden seeds of heroism are birthed. 

 

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Categories: Bahá'í Blogs

Why Do We Have an Epidemic of Loneliness?

Baha'i Teachings.org - Wed, 09/25/2019 - 3:00am

A silent epidemic of loneliness is on the rise worldwide, especially in the West. Do you feel lonely? If you do, ironically, you’re not alone. According to the Angus Reid...

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Categories: Bahá'í Blogs

You Still Can’t Buy Happiness

Baha'i Teachings.org - Wed, 09/25/2019 - 1:00am

You’ve heard it, and so have I: “You can’t buy happiness.” It may have come from your parent, a teacher, your mate, a minister or someone else with a piece...

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Dawn of the Light: New Film about the Bab Debuts

Baha'i Teachings.org - Tue, 09/24/2019 - 12:06pm

Around the world, people are searching for answers to life’s most pressing questions. Two hundred years ago, two Manifestations of God, the Bab and Baha’u’llah, came to bring answers to...

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Categories: Bahá'í Blogs

Measuring the Words We Use Online

Baha'i Teachings.org - Tue, 09/24/2019 - 9:03am

The virtual world, with its online spaces now infamous for their aggrieved, angry and even hateful speech, can exert a powerful negative pull on young people. Baha’is recognize that dynamic,...

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Categories: Bahá'í Blogs

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