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Our youngest daughter is just a step away from adolescence, on the cusp of entering a new—and sometimes problematic—stage of life. Like many parents of kids this age, we worry...
Addressing a crowd of 10,000 in Helsinki, Finland’s capital, on a Saturday in October, 15-year-old Greta Thurnberg called on all humanity to change. She said: Today we use 100 million...
The post Finding the Spiritual Courage to Take on Climate Change appeared first on BahaiTeachings.org.
You will notice, of course, that some names will come up over and over again. This is not just because we are dealing with a limited number of people, but also because they are the ones that inspire me the most.
One of these souls who inspires me is Shaykh Hasan-i-Zunuzi.
When he was a student of Siyyid Kazim, that great forerunner of the Bab, a number of interesting things happened to him.
As you probably know, most of Siyyid Kazim's teachings revolved around the coming of the Promised One, and this great promise attracted many seekers. Shaykh Hasan was one of them.
He was very aware of the imminent arrival of the Promised One, and given all that Siyyid Kazim had taught regarding how difficult it would be during His days, Shaykh Hasan was extremely concerned that he might not be considered worthy to recognize Him. He spent many nights unable to fall asleep, so great was his concern.
One morning, around the hour of dawn, he was awakened by one of Siyyid Kazim's close attendants. They went to the great Siyyid's home, and found him fully dressed and ready to leave.
"A highly esteemed and distinguished Person has arrived", he said, "and I feel it incumbent upon us both to visit Him." As you can imagine, this was most unusual, but Shaykh Hasan readily agreed to join him.
They walked through the streets of Karbila and soon found themselves at the home of a young Hashemite, a descendant of Muhammad. He was standing by the door, wearing His tell-tale green turban, which spoke of His ancestry, as if expecting them. Of course, this was before cell phones or even telephones, so it was extremely odd for anyone to be expecting them like that, especially at such an early hour of the day. The Youth, though, welcomed them with an expression of both humility and kindness which Shaykh Hasan was unable to later describe, except to say that it made a very deep impression upon him. The Youth approached them and lovingly embraced Siyyid Kazim. Shaykh Hasan later said that he was also struck by the contrast between the loving greeting of the Youth and the profound reverence of his teacher. Speechless, and with bowed head, Siyyid Kazim quietly received all the expressions of esteem and affection with which the Youth greeted him.
They went inside the home and were shown to a room decorated with flowers and scented with perfume. They were so overpowered with a sense of delight that Shaykh Hasan later said that they were unaware of what seats they actually used.
In the centre of the room they noticed a silver cup, the use of which was forbidden to the followers of Islam. The Youth filled the cup to overflowing and handed it to Siyyid Kazim, while quoting the Qur'an, saying, "A drink of pure beverage shall their Lord give them." Siyyid Kazim, without the least hesitation, took the cup in both hands and drank.
The cup was then handed to Shaykh Hasan, who also drank.
Soon after that, they were shown back to the door of the home, and they left.
That was all that occurred on that memorable occasion, but it made a lasting impression on Shaykh Hasan.
Before I talk about how this story is relevant to us today, I will share another story of Shaykh Hasan next week.
In the meantime, if there is relevance in this story to you, I would love to read about it in the comments below.
The popular evolutionary belief declares that we have been created like all other animals and have evolved to become human beings. From a Baha’i perspective, though, that scientific conclusion doesn’t...
The post Evolution: The Human Race, Maturing Past Materialism appeared first on BahaiTeachings.org.
Bipolar disorder. Schizophrenia. Obsessive-compulsive disorder. Anorexia. Major depressive disorder. Be totally honest, now: how do these psychiatric diagnoses make you feel? All in all, how comfortable are you with the...
Baha’is pray every morning and evening, recite an obligatory prayer at least once a day, and generally strive to maintain a prayerful attitude. Like most things people do, culture and...
The International Tree Foundation is in the midst of an ambitious plan—plant 20 million trees in and around Kenya’s highland forests by 2024, the organization’s centenary. That goal is one...
The post Man of the Trees: Pioneering Environmentalist Remembered appeared first on BahaiTeachings.org.
The body is great at telling us when something isn’t functioning. Aches, pains, rashes, lumps… all of these tell us that something is wrong with the body and we need to find out what it is. The symptoms are signs leading to a deeper underlying problem. But we don’t just have a body; we also have a soul. In fact, we are souls living with a body. So, if there are signs in the body of good and bad health, are there similar signs in the soul?
The perplexing thing about the soul is that it is so elusive and mysterious. We cannot see or touch it. Baha’u’llah says of the soul:
Verily I say, the human soul is exalted above all egress and regress. It is still, and yet it soareth; it moveth, and yet it is still. ((Baha’u’llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p.161))
He also explains that the soul is not affected by physical sickness:
Know thou that the soul of man is exalted above, and is independent of all infirmities of body or mind. That a sick person showeth signs of weakness is due to the hindrances that interpose themselves between his soul and his body, for the soul itself remaineth unaffected by any bodily ailments.
But can the soul itself be sick?
One of the fundamental concepts in the Baha’i Teachings is that humans were created in the image of God, which means that we all have qualities of God latent within us, ready to be developed. These Godly-qualities are the array of virtues like kindness, love and forgiveness. And it is by developing these attributes that we draw closer to God. We could say then that these positive qualities are the signs of a healthy soul. Someone who lives an honest, kind and generous life of sincere service has a healthy soul, a soul that is getting in great shape for its coming life in the spiritual world. On the other hand, a person who lies, cheats, and hurts others has an unhealthy soul that is trapped in the world of the self. And the unhappiness that comes from this is a sign that the soul is sick. So, we could say that each virtue has its antithesis: kindness – cruelty, generosity – greed, love – hate.
Not only do these spiritual diseases affect the soul, they also affect the body:
Jealousy consumeth the body and anger doth burn the liver: avoid these two as you would a lion.
One of the problems many people have with modern Western medicine is that it often doesn’t search for the cause but just treats the symptoms. The implications of this are cases where someone is leading a very unhealthy lifestyle and just wants a quick fix to alleviate their symptoms so that they can continue living their chosen lifestyle. But they are neglecting to learn from the symptoms. The symptoms could be there to teach the person that there is something wrong with the way they live and they need to change it. The same, we could say, is true with the soul. When we feel angry, jealous, or unhappy, I believe we are experiencing the symptoms of the soul. Just like physical symptoms, these are not to simply be covered over, or removed without examining if there is a fundamental cause. As with the body, we can deal superficially with the symptoms of the soul with drugs, alcohol, sex, gambling, excessive materialism, backbiting and gossip.
What we need to do is pay attention to these signs of the soul, as unpleasant as they are. This requires a lot of honesty, courage and humility. If we are feeling guilty about something that we did or failed to do, we need to take an honest look at ourselves to determine if it was our failure. But this means being willing to experience the pangs of guilt. And if we do have the courage to feel this guilt, we also have to go the distance and see what this guilt can teach us. When I feel guilty about something, I often find myself trying to rationalise my way out of it, and justify my actions, when in many cases I simply need to admit my mistakes to myself, learn from them, and move on.
I think that we have to be grateful for the way that God has created us in relation to our purpose in life. He created us to draw closer to Him through purifying ourselves: “Rejoice in the gladness of thine heart, that thou mayest be worthy to meet Me and to mirror forth My beauty.” Drawing closer to God is the greatest joy. Whenever we move away from God, we receive feedback or signs telling us that we are drifting from our purpose. But we have to pay attention within ourselves. If we remove ourselves from God and don’t look within ourselves, we may not see these symptoms and so the sickness of our soul will remain hidden. I think that is why daily prayer and reflection are so vital.
The main principle and purpose of the Baha’i Faith is to establish peace and unity among all the peoples of the Earth—and naturally, many of us feel drawn to making...
The post Community Building: A Practical Way to a United World appeared first on BahaiTeachings.org.
“Coming-of-age” has become a trendy catch-phrase these days—films, television, writers of fiction and nonfiction all attract audiences with “coming-of-age” stories. The expression beckons both reader and viewer through psychological intrigue:...
We live in a world where profit-taking has been placed at the heart of our economies, and where unbridled consumerism and individualism has become the norm. That condition has led...
Hate-mongers have targeted their anti-Semitism at Jewish people for a very long time—so what’s the solution? Where do we find the antidote? To answer that question, let’s apply Sir Isaac...
Launching 200 New Personal Reflections on the Baha’i Faith in Honor of the Bicentenary of the Birth of the Bab
The Baha’i Blog team is excited to announce that starting tomorrow, we’ll be launching another 200 new portraits and personal reflections from people around the world as a part of our “Personal Reflections on the Baha’i Faith from Around the World” initiative, and this time it’s in honor of the 200th anniversary of the Birth of the Bab.
Baha’i Blog’s ‘Personal Reflections‘ initiative was first started last year to honor the bicentenary of the Birth of Baha’u’llah, and approximately every 24 hours, we shared one of 200 photographs taken of Baha’is and their friends, each coupled with an extract taken from an interview with them answering questions along the lines of what the Baha’i Faith means to them personally, and how it has touched their lives.
The photographs were taken around the world by volunteers, and we intentionally chose not to use the names and locations of those being photographed so that the focus remained on the person’s face and what they have said, rather than allowing any connotations to arise of where they may be from and who they are because of their name.
To date, the ‘Personal Reflections’ initiative has been extremely well received, and it has been our hope that by sharing these pictures and quotations, we will answer the call from the Universal House of Justice to communicate “a sense of what it means for humanity that these two Luminaries rose successively above the horizon of the world” and we hope that such “initiatives, coupled with widespread celebrations that are both uplifting and reverent, are also sure to spark the curiosity and wonder of many who may as yet be unfamiliar with the names of the Bab and Baha’u’llah.”
We will be publishing one new portrait with its corresponding interview quote on the ‘Personal Reflections’ social media channels on a regular basis, all leading up to and around the time of the Bicentenary of the Birth of the Bab in October 2019.
Be sure to follow Baha’i Blog’s Personal Reflections by following these social media pages:
The website dedicated to this project is: personalreflections.bahaiblog.net
Below are a few examples from the Personal Reflections Instagram page:
I am now home from the World Parliament of Religions (WPOR) in Toronto, trying to reorient myself from that wonderful, uniting, spiritual experience. While getting back to my own daily...
The post How the World Parliament of Religions Inspired Me to Action appeared first on BahaiTeachings.org.
On Thursday, November 8th, the deadliest and most destructive wildfire in California history ignited in a sleepy forest town known—now ironically—as Paradise. Soon after Paradise turned hellish, a devastating inferno...
The post Turning to God During California’s Devastating Wildfires appeared first on BahaiTeachings.org.
Deltin Sejour received his early training in martial arts—but discovered his calling in dance at the age of 13, during a dance battle with his friends. Born into a Baha’i...
The post Exploring Diversity and Building Community through Dance appeared first on BahaiTeachings.org.
Unique in the annals of religious theology, the teachings of the Baha’i Faith contain specific instructions to Americans of African and white descent about the actions necessary to heal the...
The post Racial Healing for White People: Action Steps in the Baha’i Faith appeared first on BahaiTeachings.org.
In our communities, thousands of children and youth are growing up in a world filled with hatred; a world keen on seizing their insecurities and harnessing them for terrible purposes....
The post How Spiritual Empowerment Helps Youth Choose Peace Over Violence appeared first on BahaiTeachings.org.
It is no secret that our society socializes women to fit a specific mold—one designed to comfort men, maintain the status quo, and largely encourage our complacency. As a result...
To start, I would like to share one of my favorite simple stories. It's not a complex one, and in fact, I'm going to tell it even more simply by leaving out many of the names, which could be confusing to some of my readers.
This story is one of Sulayman Khan.
Sulayman Khan was an interesting man. His father was an attendant of Muhammad Shah, the ruler of Persia for a number of years. He, himself, was destined for a life at court, but this court life held no interest for him. He was far more interested in the things of the spirit. And so, at a fairly young age, he left Persia and settled in Karbila in Iraq, to be in the shadow of the Shrine of the Imam Husayn, the great martyred leader of the Shia Muslims.
While Sulayman Khan was living in Karbila, he became attracted to the teachings of Siyyid Kazim, one of the two forerunners of the Babi Faith, as well as the Baha'i Faith. Many people speak of the Bab as the "John the Baptist" of the Baha'i Faith, but this is really not quite correct. The Bab was a Messenger of God in His own right. It was actually Shaykh Ahmad and Siyyid Kazim who more accurately fit that role.
Well, Sulayman Khan was attracted to these teachings, and when he later heard about the advent of the Bab, he became a follower of the Bab almost immediately.
A few years later he had the incredible bounty of actually meeting the Bab while He was incarcerated in the prison in the castle of Chihriq.
A little while later, when he was in Tehran, he heard about the Bab's trial in Tabriz, and decided to try and rescue Him from His oppressors. As he knew many people in Tabriz, he thought that he might have a chance at rescuing his Beloved.
As fate would have it, though, he arrived one day too late. The Bab had been executed, with one of His followers, just a day earlier.
Now if it was me, I would have been completely downcast, shattered. My grief would likely have known no bounds, and I would have turned around in despair.
But not Sulayman Khan.
He knew that the Mullas had decided to throw their bodies on the edge of the moat outside the town, with soldiers on guard to prevent the Babis from retrieving the precious remains and give them a proper burial. The hope was that wild animals would devour the bodies, thus proving that the Bab was not a holy man at all.
Sulayman Khan, a day late, changed his plans and decided to try to rescue the bodies himself. He had decided to try a surprise-attack on the guards that evening, and carry away the bodies. He went to his long-time friend, the mayor of the city, and told him of his plans. The mayor, though, had a better idea. He told Sulayman Khan that he knew someone who might actually be able to secret away the bodies in a much safer and more reliable manner.
And so, that evening, the mayor and Sulayman Khan hired this other man to try and steal away the bodies, which, as you may know, was actually successful.
Sulayman Khan took the remains to a silk factory in Milan, in Persia, not Italy, and had them enshrouded and concealed in a wooden casket. From there, they were moved from location to location until such a time as they were able to make their way to the Holy Land and be interred on Mount Carmel.
It is because of the dedication of Sulayman Khan that today we have the incredible bounty of being able to visit the Shrine of the Bab when we go on Pilgrimage.
So, besides visiting the Shrine, what does this have to do with us today? Well, quite simply, it seems to me a great story to show what can happen when we are flexible in our plans. No matter how great our plans may be, things don't always go our way. But quite often God has greater plans for us, if only we're open to them.
But what relevance does this story hold for you, dear Reader? Please post your comments below. Thanks.