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As you know, dear Reader, I'm trying to write a story a week in remembrance of the upcoming 200th anniversary of the birth of the Bab. And in doing so, I am hoping to not only share some of my favorite stories, but show how they are relevant to us at this time in human history. In other words, what can we learn from them that is applicable today?
Well, Shaykh Hasan-i-Zunuzi, as you may recall, had that marvelous beverage with both his teacher, Siyyid Kazim, and a strange Youth.
It was only a few days later that he found himself back at Siyyid Kazim's lecture when he noticed that same Youth enter the room, quietly, humbly. He sat down as Siyyid Kazim continued his discourse, completely focused on the talk.
But as soon as Siyyid Kazim noticed Him, he suddenly fell silent.
As you can imagine, this puzzled some of the students. I mean, just imagine that you are at a university lecture listening to your amazing teacher. This is probably one of your favorite teachers, even though you don't quite understand all that he is saying, And then, suddenly, out of the blue, he just stops talking. Possibly in the middle of a sentence.
Can't you just imagine the reaction? "Professor", you might hear someone ask, "are you ok?"
Well, that's exactly what happened. Some of the students encouraged him to continue his talk.
But Siyyid Kazim merely asked, "What more shall I say? ...The Truth is more manifest than the ray of light that has fallen upon that lap." And with that, he indicated a ray of sunlight was illuminating the lap of that same Youth.
Shaykh Hasan was very puzzled by this.
At that moment, though, one of the students asked Siyyid Kazim why he wouldn't just tell them Who the promised One was, if it was so obvious. Now, he probably didn't say with any sort of rudeness. He was likely very humble and sincere in his tone, but even then, Siyyid Kazim merely pointed to his own throat, indicating that were he to do so, they would both be put to death.
This confused Shaykh Hasan even more.
He himself had heard Siyyid Kazim lament the perversity of his generation, saying that even were he to point to the promised One and say, "He indeed is the Beloved, the Desire of your hearts and mine", they would still fail to recognize Him. And there, in that very room, Shaykh Hasan had seen him point to that ray of light that had fallen on that lap, and none understood his meaning. Even Shaykh Hasan didn't understand it at that time. He was convinced that the young Siyyid, for that Youth was wearing the turban indicating His descent from the Prophet Muhammad, could never be the promised One. But he was certain that a mystery lay concealed in the person of that Youth.
Later on, Shaykh Hasan tried to approach the Bab and understand that mystery, but every time he did, he found he was unable to do so. Instead, he watched Him. When the Bab would go to the shrine of the Imam Husayn, Shaykh Hasan would watch. He saw the depth of love with which the Bab prayed, witnessed the tears that fell from His eyes, and heard those words of devotion and praise that surpassed even the Qur'an in power and beauty. How many times did he hear the Bab utter those words, "O God, my God, my Beloved, my heart's Desire"?
But all he could learn about Him was that He was a merchant from Shiraz. He knew that His uncles were admirers of Shaykh Ahmad and Siyyid Kazim, but that was about it.
When the Bab eventually went to Najaf, on His way back to Shiraz, Shayh Hasan was haunted by His memory.
It is no wonder that when he heard the Call from Shiraz, that he immediately became a Babi.
So what does this have to do with us today?
Well, as usual, I'm not really sure, but I have my own thoughts on it.
Today, what with computers and the internet, we expect things to happen immediately. If we have a question, we just type it into our phone and, bam, we have an answer.
But this doesn't happen with the deep questions, the important things in life. This is mostly good only for trivia.
Shaykh Hasan had to wrestle with his questions for months, possibly even a couple of years. And even that is not too long a time.
A second point, for me, is that we often overlook the completely obvious. Or, to be more fair, we often laugh at others who overlook the obvious. This story is blindingly evident to us, we who have the luxury of hindsight. But would I have recognized the Bab at that moment? Would I even have recalled such an event a few years later? Probably not. So, for me, the fact that Shaykh Hasan recognized the Bab later, and still put it together with this story, is little short of a miracle.
A third point has to do with the previous story, the one with the silver cup. There is a level of trust there that I find admirable. Drinking from this cup was forbidden, but when Siyyid Kazim was offered it by the hand of the Bab Himself, he understood that "He doeth as He willeth". Anything that the Bab offered him was, by its very nature, allowed.
Shaykh Hasan, however, didn't recognize the Bab at that time. Why did he drink from a forbidden vessel? Because he trusted his teacher. This was not a blind trust, though. Siyyid Kazim had earned the trust of his student, and this is something that I think we often overlook. We have learned, in our modern age, to question authority, but we often fail to discern when that trust is warranted. Shaykh Hasan gives us a good example of knowing when to trust.
Today, we seem to have forgotten patience in our search for Truth, and we have also forgotten to take the time needed to come to understanding. In addition to this, it seems that we often forget to allow others that same time that is needed for them to arrive at their own understanding, too. Many people in society laugh when they see someone trusting someone else, and that, too, is a sad thing that we need to learn to overcome. Patience, compassion, discernment, trust: these are only some of the virtues I see in these stories of Shaykh Hasan-i-Zunuzi.
But how about you, dear Reader? What truths do you glean from these last couple of stories?
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In these precious hours between the Day of the Covenant and the Ascension of Abdu’l-Baha, when our hearts and our minds are turning towards Him, the Baha’i world has been gifted with a letter from the Universal House of Justice (this letter can be read in full or downloaded from the Baha’i Reference Library here). For ease of reference, we have quoted it in full below:
26 November 2018
To the Baha’is of the World
Dearly loved Friends,
In this season, from the Day of the Covenant to the commemoration of the Ascension of Abdu’l-Baha, every Baha’i heart is stirred by remembrance of Him Who is the Mystery of God, the Centre of Baha’u’llah’s impregnable Covenant, the Mainspring of the Oneness of Humanity, the embodiment of every Baha’i ideal, the Most Mighty Branch of God whereunder all can find shelter. May His boundless love and tender solicitude give you reassurance and sustenance as you strive to fulfill the trust He bestowed upon you in His Testament and His Divine Plan. At night in that hallowed room in His home where He departed this life for reunion with His beloved Lord, we will testify to your fidelity to His call, evident in your tireless labors to create a refuge for humanity at this moment of increasing injustice and affliction.
Three brief years remain until the centenary of the Master’s passing, when Baha’is the world over will gather and take account of the distance traversed over the first century of the Formative Age. May His loved ones, individually and collectively, little by little and day by day, increasingly embody His counsels: to be united in the Cause and firm in the Covenant; to avoid calumny and never speak ill of others; to see no strangers but regard all as members of one family; to set aside divergent theories and conflicting views and pursue a single purpose and common goal; to ensure that the love of Baha’u’llah has so mastered every organ, part, and limb as to leave no effect from the promptings of the human world; to arise with heart and soul and in one accord to teach the Cause; to march in serried lines, pressed together, each supporting the others; to cultivate good character, perseverance, strength, and determination; to know the value of this precious Faith, obey its teachings, walk in this road that is drawn straight, and show this way to the people.
That you may fulfill His highest expectations, we pray for each of you.
– The Universal House of Justice
You can download this message, and many others, from the Baha’i Reference Library here: www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/the-universal-house-of-justice/messages
The post New Letter from the Universal House of Justice About Abdu’l-Baha appeared first on Bahai Arts, Stories, Media & Bahai Religion.
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In honor of the Day of the Covenant (the day when Baha’is celebrate the appointment of Abdu’l-Baha as the Centre of Baha’u’llah’s Covenant), we thought it would be a perfect time to bring our readers’ attention the exciting news of the newly translated prayers, tablets, extracts and talks by Abdu’l-Baha, recently made available on the Baha’i Reference Library.
These new English translations consist of 19 new prayers, and 26 new tablets, extracts and talks by Abdu’l-Baha, covering a diverse range of topics including things like Tahirih and the Conference of Badasht, fasting, prophecy, and the Declaration of Baha’u’llah.
You can either access them online, and/or download a PDF document containing all of these newly translated prayers, tablets, extracts and talks using the links below:
We hope you find these new translations as exciting as we do!
You can find out more about Abdu’l-Baha here on Bahai.org, and you may also enjoy this collection of 19 Beautiful Quotations of Abdu’l-Baha on Instagram.
Also, in case you missed it, there are also Newly Translated Prayers Revealed by Baha’u’llah.
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While I was visiting Green Acre Baha’i School in the US a couple of years ago, a young man came over to chat with me and to thank the Baha’i Blog team for all the work we had done in the online space, and to especially thank us for our dedication to encouraging Baha’i-inspired musicians. Little did I know that the young man was Jose Maria Fierro, a voice I had heard on numerous Baha’i-inspired songs over the years with the likes of artists such as Colby Jeffers, Karim Rushdy and Bass Adjustment. As fate would have it, about a year later, I was temporarily living in Phoenix, Arizona, and Jose Maria helped organize some Baha’i Blog Studio Sessions there. We even recorded one of his songs called ‘In Thy Hands‘.
I’m excited to let everyone know that Jose Maria has just released an exciting new double album called Rooftops and Sidewalks so I decided to find out more about the album and his inspiration behind it:Baha’i Blog: Can you tell us a little bit about the album and what it’s about?
The album is a double album called Rooftops & Sidewalks. The first CD, Rooftops, is predominantly Baha’i quotes set to music. It was made to have a real/communal vibe, so it gives off a very live and acoustic feel with real instruments and is made in a way that all ages can sing along and enjoy. The second CD, Sidewalks, is more focused on the hip-hop and RnB style of music and tries to take spiritual concepts and put them into songs that provoke thought and sound more like what’s currently playing on the radio. I love both sides equally and I feel like they’re both representative of me, just different parts of me. The name Rooftops & Sidewalks comes from two quotes from the Baha’i Writings. The first talks about the call to prayer that comes from the minarets of mosques. I really liked the visual of someone singing from up high, so I called the devotional album Rooftops. The second quote speaks to the idea that spiritual battles will be won on street corners and in school hallways, which sparked the idea for Sidewalks. The album moves from the rooftops to the sidewalks to symbolize that it’s great to praise and proclaim, but real work has to be done in order to see our communities progress and advance.Baha’i Blog: Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and why you decided to do the album?
I consider myself a socially and spiritually focused artist, and I’m currently based in Phoenix, Arizona. I use my faith, family, and life experiences as inspiration for my songs, and apart from creating music, I’m also involved in many community building activities and other forms of social action and service. I love teaching others and am an instructor at ‘The Rap Camp’, a foundation which focuses on creating welcoming and encouraging spaces where youth can express themselves through music, dance, theater, and of course, rap. In this way, I strive to make the arts a part of everything I do. It’s my hope that through my music and conversation, I can inspire people to work for change.
I believe that we are a product of what we consume. If we listen to certain messages day after day for hours on end, we will start to internalize those concepts, either consciously or subconsciously. So given that the current messages in popular music are ones that are centered around misogyny, complacency, and materialism, I feel that there should be an alternative to those messages that doesn’t sacrifice the quality of the sound. When I looked around, I found very few artists that were creating music with that elevated standard, so I decided to make some myself for anyone else that might be searching.Baha’i Blog: What do you hope listeners will take away from the album after they’ve listened to it?
I feel like a lot of times there’s certain stigma or prejudice around religion and God, but the overarching idea of this album is basically being unashamed in the fact that we are people that have a relationship with God and are trying to create change in the world. I hope that the people that listen to this album will experience that feeling and hopefully be inspired to share more about that side of their lives.Baha’i Blog: What was the process of working on the album like? Are there any lessons learned that you can share?
The process of working on the album was very intense. It was my first time recording a serious project and I kind of learned as I went. I recorded all 19 songs in only three days at the studio, and then edited them and did preliminary mixing before shooting them off to the very talented engineer who mixed and mastered the tracks for the album. In the moment though, coordinating multiple people and trying to organize everything into one coherent project was very difficult. Additionally, this project contains songs spanning from all the way back from six years ago to a song written the last day in the studio right before recording, so the album has many different styles and levels of professionalism/polish. Looking back, there were a lot of things I could have changed or done differently, but I am happy with how the project turned out. I think it’s very diverse and unique. I am, however, definitely going to take those learnings from this album and apply them to my next project.
Probably the most important thing that I’ve learned through this album and the collaborations is that the process of creating a song varies so widely from artist to artist, and there is no “right” way to make it happen. Some people want to create and collaborate from the beginning to the end, others will send you a finished song and ask you to just write a small verse about the theme of the song. Some people want to work in the same physical space, and some people live halfway across the world. Whatever the situation, the music that comes out is unique and special, and I really appreciate that. It was very interesting working with so many artists though. It was definitely a nice surprise seeing how many artists and friends came together to help create this project. Most of the songs on this project have guest verses and features from artists that I’ve looked up to as well as friends that I’ve known since I was young, and I think that really encapsulates what this album is about: a community of people coming together to discuss, praise, create, and share with others.Baha’i Blog: What message do you have to other musicians and artists out there?
The only message that I would have for other musicians and artists is to not let fear paralyze you. For a long time I was afraid to put any of my music out because it requires such an intense level of detachment and vulnerability. I was also a perfectionist and I wanted everything to sound good. I wanted to get better instruments or rerecord to make it “worthy”. In fact, I was still nervous and hesitant about releasing this album, but I realized that it’s a step in my journey as an artist. I will keep creating and getting better and this gives me a stepping stone to build off of. So I would say that if an artist is creating and wants to put something out, to create something they like and are proud of, but to also not let themselves get in the way. Additionally, something that I learned throughout this project was that you don’t always have to release everything that you create.Baha’i Blog: Is there anything else you’d like to share?
I would just like to express gratitude to my parents, my siblings, my community, and everyone that made this album possible. This journey has really served as a catalyst for my music creation. In fact, I’m already working on my second album as well as a collaboration album with some of my mentors and artists that helped me get into music creation. There are big things on the way so stay tuned.Baha’i Blog: How can people find out, listen and purchase about the album?
The simplest way to connect with me for updates, purchases, or inquiries is through my website (www.josemariafierro.com). For more frequent updates or a closer glimpse into the creation and performance aspects of my music, social media would also be a great way to connect. I’m on Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, Facebook, and Youtube as “JMFMusic19.”
If anyone is interested in listening to or purchasing the album, I’d suggest going to this link:
Thank you so much for letting me share my story and give you a glimpse into the new album. I really appreciate it. Much love!Baha’i Blog: Thank you so much for taking the time to do this interview Jose Maria, and congratulations again on your new album! I’m loving it!
You can watch the music video to the song ‘Dawn Breaks (ft. Karim Rushdy)’ from his Rooftops and Sidewalks album, plus watch his song ‘In Thy Hands’ on Baha’i Blog’s Studio Sessions below:Jose Maria Fierro – Dawn Breaks (ft. Karim Rushdy) [Official Music Video] Baha’i Blog Studio Sessions: ‘In Thy Hands’ by Jose Maria Fierro
The post Rooftops and Sidewalks: An Album by Jose Maria Fierro appeared first on Bahai Arts, Stories, Media & Bahai Religion.
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