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When I grew up, in a family that belonged to the Baha’i Faith, we would always look forward to the 19-Day Baha’i Feast. Baha’i Feasts are regular community gatherings, occurring...
The post How the Baha’i Faith Develops the Power of Community Service appeared first on BahaiTeachings.org.
From the earliest times in our history prophets have called humanity to God. We call them prophets because they prophesied of future events and a future state of reality. We...
On the occasion of the Twin Holy Days, the Universal House of Justice has joyously announced that the Office of Social and Economic Development at the Baha’i World Centre has blossomed into a new global institution: the Baha’i International Development Organization. This organization will assist development work occurring and emerging around the planet.
You can read this exciting letter in its entirely on the Baha’i Reference Library here, and for ease of reference, we’ve also included the letter below:
9 November 2018
To the Baha’is of the World
Dearly loved Friends,
As the process of the disintegration of a lamentably defective world order gathers momentum in all parts of the planet, engendering hopelessness, confusion, hostility, and insecurity, the hearts of the friends everywhere must be assured, their eyes clear-sighted, their feet firm, as they work patiently and sacrificially to raise a new order in its stead. The guidance of Baha’u’llah is the foundation upon which you build. His instruction is clear: “This servant appealeth to every diligent and enterprising soul to exert his utmost endeavor and arise to rehabilitate the conditions in all regions and to quicken the dead with the living waters of wisdom and utterance, by virtue of the love he cherisheth for God, the One, the Peerless, the Almighty, the Beneficent.” His divine remedy has been prescribed: “God, the True One, beareth Me witness, and every atom in existence is moved to testify that such means as lead to the elevation, the advancement, the education, the protection and the regeneration of the peoples of the earth have been clearly set forth by Us and are revealed in the Holy Books and Tablets by the Pen of Glory.” And His assurance is engraved on every faithful heart: “The betterment of the world can be accomplished through pure and goodly deeds, through commendable and seemly conduct.”
During the ministries of Abdu’l-Baha and Shoghi Effendi, the first community of sufficient size that could begin to systematically apply Baha’u’llah’s teachings to unite material and spiritual progress was that of the believers in the Cradle of the Faith. The steady flow of guidance from the Holy Land enabled the Baha’is of Iran to make tremendous strides in but one or two generations and to contribute a distinctive share to the progress of their nation. A network of schools that provided moral and academic education, including for girls, flourished. Illiteracy was virtually eliminated in the Baha’i community. Philanthropic enterprises were created. Prejudices among ethnic and religious groups, aflame in the wider society, were extinguished within the community’s loving embrace. Villages became distinguished for their cleanliness, order, and progress. And believers from that land were instrumental in raising in another land the first Mashriqu’l-Adhkar with its dependencies designed to “afford relief to the suffering, sustenance to the poor, shelter to the wayfarer, solace to the bereaved, and education to the ignorant.” Over time, such efforts were augmented by scattered initiatives of other Baha’i communities in various parts of the world. However, as Shoghi Effendi remarked to one community, the number of believers was as yet too small to effect a notable change in the wider society, and for more than the first half century of the Formative Age the believers were encouraged to concentrate their energies on the propagation of the Faith, since this was work that only Baha’is could do—indeed their primary spiritual obligation—and it would prepare them for the time when they could address the problems of humanity more directly.
Thirty-five years ago, circumstances within and outside the community combined to create new possibilities for greater involvement in the life of society. The Faith had developed to the stage at which the processes of social and economic development needed to be incorporated into its regular pursuits, and in October 1983 we called upon the Baha’is of the world to enter this new field of endeavor. The Office of Social and Economic Development was established at the Baha’i World Centre to assist us in promoting and coordinating the activities of the friends worldwide. Baha’i activities for social and economic development, at whatever level of complexity, were at that time counted in the hundreds. Today they number in the tens of thousands, including hundreds of sustained projects such as schools and scores of development organizations. The broad range of current activities spans efforts from villages and neighborhoods to regions and nations, addressing an array of challenges, including education from preschool to university, literacy, health, the environment, support for refugees, advancement of women, empowerment of junior youth, elimination of racial prejudice, agriculture, local economies, and village development. The society-building power of Baha’u’llah’s Cause has begun to be more systematically expressed in the collective life of the friends as a result of the acceleration of the process of expansion and consolidation, especially in advanced clusters. Beyond this, of course, countless believers, through their professional and voluntary efforts, contribute their energies and insights to projects and organizations established for the common good.
Once again, then, we find that forces inside and outside the Faith have made possible a new stage in the work of social and economic development in the Baha’i world. Therefore, on this sacred occasion of the Festivals of the Twin Birthdays, we are pleased to announce that the Office of Social and Economic Development now effloresces into a new world-embracing institution established at the World Centre, the Baha’i International Development Organization. In addition, a Baha’i Development Fund will be inaugurated, from which the new organization will draw to assist both long-standing and emerging development efforts worldwide; it will be supported by the House of Justice, and individuals and institutions may contribute to it.
A five-member board of directors will be appointed which will function as a consultative body to promote and coordinate the efforts of the worldwide community in social and economic development. The directors will serve for a term of five years beginning on the Day of the Covenant. Operating at the spiritual and administrative centre of the Faith, the board will consult with the Universal House of Justice and the International Teaching Centre to ensure that the development work is coherent with the many endeavors of the Baha’i world. The new institution will begin by assuming the functions and mandate previously carried out by the Office of Social and Economic Development and then gradually grow in capacity to discharge them on an expanding scale and at higher levels of complexity. It will reinforce the efforts of Baha’i individuals, communities, and institutions worldwide to extend and consolidate the range of their activities. It will help to strengthen institutional capacity for social and economic development in national communities, including through the creation of new agencies and the emergence of advanced development organizations. It will promote, on an international scale, approaches to development and methodologies that have proven effective. It will keep abreast of findings in the development field and explore their application in consonance with spiritual principles with assistance from Baha’is with relevant training. It will form networks of resource persons and such institutional arrangements across continents as are necessary for carrying out its various lines of action. Above all, like the Office of Social and Economic Development before it, its primary purpose will be to facilitate learning about development by fostering and supporting action, reflection on action, study, consultation, the gathering and systematization of experience, conceptualization, and training—all carried out in the light of the Teachings of the Faith.
Upon the Arc on Mount Carmel that surrounds the resting places of members of the Holy Family, Shoghi Effendi anticipated both the raising of edifices and the establishment of international institutions—administrative, scientific, and social—that would flourish under the auspices of the Faith of Baha’u’llah. This new institution for social and economic development will grow and evolve over the decades and centuries ahead according to the needs of humanity and under the direction of the House of Justice until the material and spiritual civilization anticipated by Baha’u’llah is realized in this contingent world.
Ultimately, of course, the work of Baha’i social and economic development rests in the hands of the friends everywhere. To take full advantage of the opportunities emerging, one need look no further for encouragement and insight than to the perfect Exemplar of the Baha’i teachings. Consider His words: “We should continually be establishing new bases for human happiness and creating and promoting new instrumentalities toward this end. How excellent, how honorable is man if he arises to fulfill his responsibilities; how wretched and contemptible, if he shuts his eyes to the welfare of society and wastes his precious life in pursuing his own selfish interests and personal advantages. Supreme happiness is man’s, and he beholds the signs of God in the world and in the human soul, if he urges on the steed of high endeavor in the arena of civilization and justice.”
– The Universal House of JusticeThis letter, along with countless others, can be found on the Baha’i Reference Library. You can also find information on the Universal House of Justice on their official website.
People of faith often pray for their leaders and their governments—that is, for good governance. This venerable practice dates back to King Solomon’s prayer for his own good governance in...
Every year the world commemorates November 11th as Armistice Day, Remembrance Day or Veterans Day, on a date in history that marks the ending of the First World War. ...
We’re in the political season, when campaigns and campaigners become heated, and when Baha’is inevitably hear this question: Why don’t Baha’is get involved in politics? Baha’is vote, get involved in...
Different levels of maturity require different ethics. Remember, as a child, when your greatest ethical challenge involved minding your mom by keeping your hand out of the cookie jar? If...
Kevin Locke (Tokeya Inajin is his Lakota name, meaning “The First to Arise”), the famed Lakota and Anishinaabe Native hoop dancer, flute player and folk storyteller, has shared his spiritual...
The post First to Arise: Kevin Locke’s Spiritual Quest to the Baha’i Faith appeared first on BahaiTeachings.org.
When you think about how religions celebrate the birth of their founders, Christmas or Mawlid or Vesak might come to mind. But what about the Baha’i Faith and Baha’u’llah? Baha’u’llah’s...
In honor of the Birth of Baha’u’llah, I thought it would be a perfect time to share and reflect on these newly translated prayers, and for ease of access, I’ve included them below. You can also find them, and others by Abdu’l-Baha, on the Baha’i Reference Library.
Pure and sanctified art Thou, O my God! How can the pen move and the ink flow after the breezes of loving-kindness have ceased, and the signs of bounty have vanished, when the sun of abasement hath risen, and the swords of calamity are drawn, when the heavens of sorrow have been upraised, and the darts of affliction and the lances of vengeance have rained from the clouds of power — in such wise that the signs of joy have departed from all hearts, and the tokens of gladness have been erased from every horizon, the gates of hope have been shut, the mercy of the supernal breeze hath ceased to waft over the rose-garden of faithfulness, and the whirlwind of extinction hath struck the tree of existence. The pen is groaning, and the ink bewaileth its plight, and the tablet is awestruck at this cry. The mind is in turmoil from the taste of this pain and sorrow, and the divine Nightingale calleth: “Alas! Alas! for all that hath been made to appear”. And this, O my God, is from naught but Thy hidden bounties. – Baha’u’llah
O Thou Who holdest within Thy grasp the Kingdom of names and the Empire of all things, Thou seest how I have become a stranger from my land on account of my love for Thee. I beg of Thee, by the beauty of Thy countenance, to make my remoteness from home a means whereby Thy servants may be drawn nigh unto the Fountain-head of Thy Cause and the Dayspring of Thy Revelation. O God, I call on Thee with a tongue that hath spoken no word of disobedience against Thee, imploring Thee, by Thy sovereignty and might, to keep me safe in the shelter of Thy mercy and to grant me strength to serve Thee and to serve my father and mother. Thou, verily, art the Almighty, the Help in Peril, the Self-Subsisting. – Baha’u’llah
In the Name of our Lord, the Most Holy, the Most Great, the Exalted, the Most Glorious!
Glory be to Thee, O Thou Who art the Lord of all beings and the Ultimate Aim of all creation! I testify with the tongue of both mine inner and outer being that Thou hast revealed and manifested Thyself, that Thou hast sent down Thy verses and demonstrated Thy proofs, and that Thou art independent of anyone besides Thee and sanctified above all else except Thyself. I ask Thee, by the glory of Thy Cause and the power of Thy Word, graciously to assist them that have arisen to discharge what hath been enjoined upon them in Thy Book, and to perform that whereby the fragrance of Thine acceptance may be shed abroad. Thou, verily, art the Powerful, the Gracious, the Forgiving, the Bountiful. – Baha’u’llah
In the Name of our Lord, the Most Holy, the Most Great, the Exalted, the Most Glorious!
O God, my God! Thou seest how Thy servant hath set his face towards Thee and desired to be honoured by performing that whereunto he hath been bidden in Thy Book. Do Thou ordain for him through Thy Most Exalted Pen that which shall draw him nigh unto the Most Sublime Summit. Thou, verily, art the Educator of the world and the Lord of the nations, and Thou, verily, art the Potent, the All-Subduing, the Almighty. – Baha’u’llah
O God, my God! Glory be to Thee for having guided me unto the horizon of Thy Revelation, illumined me with the splendours of the light of Thy grace and mercy, caused me to speak forth Thy praise, and given me to behold that which hath been revealed by Thy Pen.
I beseech Thee, O Thou the Lord of the kingdom of names and Fashioner of earth and heaven, by the rustling of the Divine Lote-Tree and by Thy most sweet utterance which hath enraptured the realities of all created things, to raise me up in Thy Name amidst Thy servants. I am he who hath sought in the daytime and in the night season to stand before the door of Thy bounty and to present himself before the throne of Thy justice. O Lord! Cast not away him who hath clung to the cord of Thy nearness, and deprive not him who hath directed his steps towards Thy most sublime station, the summit of glory, and the supreme objective—that station wherein every atom crieth out in the most eloquent tongue, saying: “Earth and heaven, glory and dominion are God’s, the Almighty, the All-Glorious, the Most Bountiful!” – Baha’u’llah
Praise be to Thee, O Lord my God, for guiding me unto the horizon of Thy Revelation and for causing me to be mentioned by Thy Name. I beseech Thee, by the spreading rays of the Daystar of Thy providence and by the billowing waves of the Ocean of Thy mercy, to grant that my speech may bear a trace of the influence of Thine own exalted Word, attracting thereby the realities of all created things. Powerful art Thou to do what Thou willest through Thy wondrous and incomparable Utterance. – Baha’u’llah
He is the Peerless!
Praise be unto Thee, O Lord my God! I beseech Thee by Thy Most Exalted Name in the Tabernacle of effulgent splendour, and by Thy Most Sublime Word in the Dominion of transcendent glory, to protect this servant, who hath enjoyed companionship with Thee, hearkened unto the accents of Thy voice and recognized Thy proof. Vouchsafe, then, unto him the good of both this world and the next, and grant unto him the station of righteousness in Thy presence, that his feet may not slip from Thine all-glorious and most exalted path. – Baha’u’llah
He is the All-Glorious!
Praise be to Thee, O my God! Thou didst call me, and I answered Thee. Thou didst summon me, and I hastened unto Thee, entering beneath the shade of Thy mercy and seeking shelter at the threshold of the door of Thy grace. Thou hast nurtured me, O Lord, through Thy providence, chosen me for Thee alone, created me for Thy service, and appointed me to stand before Thee. I beseech Thee, by Thine all-glorious Name and by Thy beauty that hath dawned above the horizon of Thy most exalted Essence, to cause me to be related to Thee even as Thou hadst done so aforetime, and not to separate me from Thyself. Cause then to appear from me, O my God, that which is worthy of Thee. Thou art, in truth, powerful over all things. – Baha’u’llah
O my God! O my God! I testify that this is Thy Day which hath been mentioned in Thy Books, Thy Epistles, Thy Psalms and Thy Tablets. In it Thou hast manifested that which was hidden in Thy Knowledge and stored up in the repositories of Thine unfailing protection. I beseech Thee, O Lord of the world, by Thy Most Great Name whereby the limbs of the people were shaken, to assist Thy servants and Thy handmaidens to become steadfast in Thy Cause and to arise in Thy service.
Verily, Thou art potent to do whatsoever Thou willest, and in Thy grasp are the reins of all things. Thou protectest whomsoever Thou willest through Thy Power and Dominion. And verily, Thou art the Almighty, the All-Subduing, the Most Powerful. – Baha’u’llah
In regard to his affairs, let him repeat nineteen times: “Thou seest me, O my God, detached from all save Thee and cleaving unto Thee. Guide me, then, in all mine affairs unto that which profiteth me for the glory of Thy Cause and the loftiness of the station of Thy loved ones.” Let him then reflect upon the matter and undertake whatever cometh to mind. This vehement opposition of the enemies will indeed give way to supreme prosperity. – Baha’u’llah
He is God, exalted is He, the Lord of might and grandeur!
O God, my God! I yield Thee thanks at all times and render Thee praise under all conditions.
In prosperity, all praise is Thine, O Lord of the Worlds, and in its absence, all gratitude is Thine, O Desire of them that have recognized Thee!
In adversity, all honour is Thine, O Adored One of all who are in heaven and on earth, and in affliction, all glory is Thine, O Enchanter of the hearts of those who yearn after Thee!
In hardship, all praise is Thine, O Thou the Goal of them that seek after Thee, and in comfort, all thanksgiving is Thine, O Thou whose remembrance is treasured in the hearts of those who are nigh unto Thee!
In wealth, all splendour is Thine, O Lord of them that are devoted to Thee, and in poverty, all command is Thine, O Thou the Hope of them that acknowledge Thy unity!
In joy, all glory is Thine, O Thou besides Whom there is none other God, and in sorrow, all beauty is Thine, O Thou besides Whom there is none other God!
In hunger, all justice is Thine, O Thou besides Whom there is none other God, and in satiety, all grace is Thine, O Thou besides Whom there is none other God!
In my homeland, all bounty is Thine, O Thou besides Whom there is none other God, and in exile, all decree is Thine, O Thou besides Whom there is none other God!
Under the sword, all munificence is Thine, O Thou besides Whom there is none other God, and in the safety of home, all perfection is Thine, O Thou besides Whom there is none other God!
In the lofty mansion, all generosity is Thine, O Thou besides Whom there is none other God, and upon the lowly dust, all favour is Thine, O Thou besides Whom there is none other God!
In prison, all fidelity is Thine, O Thou the Bestower of gifts, and in confinement, all eternity is Thine, O Thou Who art the ever-abiding King!
All bounty is Thine, O Thou Who art the Lord of bounty, and the Sovereign of bounty, and the King of bounty! I bear witness that Thou art to be praised in Thy doings, O Thou Source of bounty, and to be obeyed in Thy behests, O Thou Ocean of bounty, He from Whom all bounty doth proceed, He to Whom all bounty doth return! – Baha’u’llah
Praised be Thou, O Lord my God! Sanctify mine eye, and mine ear, and my tongue, and my spirit, and my heart, and my soul, and my body, and mine entire being from turning unto anyone but Thee. Give me then to drink from the cup that brimmeth with the sealed wine of Thy glory. – Baha’u’llah
Every Faith celebrates the birth of its founder with great joy—but the Baha’is around the world double that joy when they observe the Twin Holy Days. Baha’is celebrate the births...
The post Celebrating the Birthdays of the Bab and Baha’u’llah appeared first on BahaiTeachings.org.
When you hear or read the word “Parliament,”what comes to your mind? Before I got involved in the World Parliament of Religions (WPOR), I thought that word referred to a...
When we make something artfully and with careful craftsmanship, the Baha’i teachings say, God regards it as an act of worship: When anyone occupieth himself in a craft or trade,...
The post The Baha’i Quotes That Inspired a Whimsical World of Hats appeared first on BahaiTeachings.org.
In this series of essays, we’ve discussed how Baha’is worship—but now, in the final essay, we’ve come to the ultimate form of worship: selfless service to humanity. The Baha’i teachings...
The post What is the Best Way to Worship? Selfless Service to Humanity appeared first on BahaiTeachings.org.
We tend to think of happiness as an individual phenomenon—but have you ever contemplated the possibility of global happiness? Baha’is all over the world work toward that goal. Yes, humanity...
Baha’is believe that Baha’u’llah, the prophet and founder of the Baha’i Faith, fulfilled the Christian prophecies. How does Baha’u’llah fulfill the prophecies of Jesus? Here’s Shoghi Effendi’s answer, in a...
Sahar Freemantle, a milliner based in London, wants to spread beauty and inspire creativity with her hats. Sahar specializes in contemporary handcrafted hats for women that are traditionally made, and...
The post How a London Based Milliner Wants to Inspire Creativity with Hats appeared first on BahaiTeachings.org.
When Abdu’l-Baha met someone for the first time, he would often ask: “Are you happy?” When he spoke at a Unitarian Church in Philadelphia in 1912, Abdu’l-Baha greeted the congregation...
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Want to build a bridge across the racial divide? Sometimes that task can seem truly daunting, no matter your skin color, but the Austin Baha’i community has some practical advice....