The Significance of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá

The following article is from bahai.org. Photo above: ‘Abdu’l-Bahá walking outside 7 Haparsim Street in Haifa, c. 1919, © 2017 Bahá’í International Community



“SELDOM HAVE I SEEN one whose appearance impressed me more,” said Professor Edward G. Browne of Cambridge University after meeting ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. “About the greatness of this man and his power no one who had seen him could entertain a doubt.”

Yet, however magnetic ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s personality or however penetrating His insights, such tributes cannot adequately capture such a unique character in religious history. The Bahá’í Writings affirm that “in the person of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá the incompatible characteristics of a human nature and superhuman knowledge and perfection have been blended and are completely harmonized.”

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The Equality of Women and Men: The Experience of the Bahá’í Community of Canada

By Deborah K. van den Hoonaard and Will C. van den Hoonard

This book presents a sociological study undertaken by the Baha’is of Canada to examine implementation of the Baha’i tenet of equality between the sexes. It is a very detailed report that looks closely at a variety of communities and their experiences as they attempt to develop and implement a concept central to the Faith, but often not present in the external society. The authors, a married couple, are both sociologists and appear to have followed a rigorous scientific approach, with adherence to sociological and statistical norms typical in a scholarly examination. With a sample group of 119 Baha’is in twelve focus groups, the authors followed discussions over the course of a year.

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Living in a Rapidly Changing Society: Transition to Maturity

This month we are featuring an essay from Bahai.org.



 

As humanity explores elements of the framework for a new process of moral education, some of the first questions that must be asked are: What is the nature of the great transformation that is taking place in human society? What are the basic concepts that can help us to understand the significance of the times in which we live? What are some of the great forces that are operating within society in this crucial stage of human evolution?

This lecture was given by Dr. Farzam Arbab at a national symposium on “A New Framework for Moral Education” in Tirana, Albania, in November 1993. This was an open forum for a public debate on what needs to be done with moral education in a society that is in the process of rapid shift from an established socio-political system to a new system not yet fully defined and articulated.


A very striking feature of our times is the accelerating rate at which change occurs. The magnitude and speed of the changes that humankind has undergone in the past century and a half have been unparalleled in our history. In every area of human endeavour a great deal of new knowledge is being generated, and old practices are being rejected one after another. At this point in history, no one can possibly deny that society, in all its aspects – social, economic, political, religious and cultural – is going through a process of fundamental transformation.

In this past century and a half, every country and region of the world has seen old structures swept away through radical reform or revolution. The ideals motivating these deliberate, sometimes violent, attempts to change society have often been extremely noble and laudable.

Yet, it is now an historical fact that these attempts have, by and large, failed to generate this sense of purpose, the values and the standards of behaviour that are essential for the creation of a new society. As a result, for decades humanity has been living in a state of crisis that seems to deepen almost daily. In the midst of all this crisis, of course, we often hear the voices of traditionalists, of those who romanticize the past and urge us to go back to our old ways. The fact is, however, that return to the standards of the past is not possible, for the forces released during this period have set in motion a process of transformation that is clearly irreversible. The unavoidable conclusion we reach when we examine modern history is that old moral codes and belief systems have proven entirely inadequate when faced with the challenges of an age of transformation. So, as we explore elements of the framework for a new process of moral education, some of the first questions we must ask ourselves are: What is the nature of the great transformation that is taking place in human society? What are the basic concepts that can help us to understand the significance of the times in which we live? What are some of the great forces that are operating within society in this crucial stage of human evolution?

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Me, the “Other”: A documentary film about diversity and co-existing

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

In these exceptional times, we are given the task to turn challenges into opportunities which would positively impact our lives and harmoniously shift the balance of our world.

Me, the “Other” is a documentary film about a group of students living in Washtenaw County in Southeast Michigan with diverse backgrounds (ethnic, racial, religious, gender, age, socio-economic, sexual orientation, disease). The cast includes an African-American athletic coach, a Taiwanese gymnast, a Pakistani student leader, a transgendered 66 year-old woman, an American-Peruvian-Japanese romance, a bisexual Republican, and a Mexican student on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. Through their struggles and accomplishments, we find ourselves in each of them.

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A special presentation: The Story of the Bahá’í Black Men’s Gathering

Please join the Circle of Friends Book Club for a special presentation on the book The Story of the Bahá’í Black Men’s Gathering on Wednesday, July 12th @ 7pm, at the Bahá’í Center of Washtenaw County. Dr. Richard Thomas, one of the book’s co-authors, will lead the discussion. Come and share what promises to be an interesting and enlightening presentation—all are welcome!

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Light of Unity Festival: Celebrating the 200th Birthday of Bahá’u’lláh

Over 5 million Bahá’ís around the world are preparing for the bicentenary celebrations of the births of Bahá’u’lláh and the Báb. Communities are planning local festivities designed to share and exemplify Bahá’u’lláh’s global message of world unity — and all Bahá’ís are encouraged to reach out to their friends and circles with invitations to join in the celebrations.

In a letter dated May 18, 2016 from the Universal House of Justice:

“These Holy Days should be viewed as special opportunities for the friends to reach out to the widest possible cross-section of society and to all those with whom they share a connection—whether through a family tie or common interest, an occupation or field of study, neighbourly relations or merely chance acquaintance—so that all may rejoice in the appearance, exactly two hundred years before, of One Who was to be the Bearer of a new Message for humankind.”

This year the Festival includes the of Birth of the Báb which will be celebrated on Saturday, October 21st, and culminates with the celebration of 200th Birthday of Bahá’u’lláh on the following day, Sunday, October 22nd. Here in Washtenaw County, planning for the Light of Unity Festival is underway and local events and activities will be announced when finalized. If you are interested in participating, please contact us.

For notifications regarding Light of Unity Festival (and other Baha’i) events, please sign up to receive the monthly Bahá’í Center of Washtenaw County email newsletter here.

The Pupil of the Eye: African Americans in the World Order of Baha’u’llah

Complied by Bonnie J. Taylor

This book is a compilation of quotations about the role of African Americans in the Baha’i Faith, and includes a forward that explains the title and reference to African Americans as “the pupil of the eye”. The author also states that the writings in the compilation describe “their crucial and indispensable role in the Cause of God”. The book is well-organized and contains a wide range of quotations. The author begins with quotations pertaining directly to African Americans, then moves through race, the oneness of mankind, and unity in diversity. She then organizes writings on solutions to racism and teaching the Faith. This progression lends itself well to sequencing learning and understanding, and the order develops naturally for the reader. Ms. Taylor even has organized sections pertaining to the responsibilities of Baha’is of European descent and Baha’is of African descent in the section on racism, which is helpful reading for all.

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Reflections on the Ascension of Baha’u’llah

(The following article is by Matt Giani from bahaiblog.net)



 

On May 29, 1892, shortly before dawn began to break, Baha’u’llah passed on from this mortal life and His spirit was finally “released from the toils of a life crowded with tribulations.”[i] He was surrounded only by family members and a small but loyal band of followers. His body was laid to rest, reverently and without any extravagant ceremony, in one of the buildings of the property in Bahji, outside of Akka, Israel, where He had spent the last twelve years of His life. He died a prisoner, a captive of one of the many governments that had persecuted Him for the past forty years and exiled Him from Tehran to Baghdad to Constanstinople to Adrianople to Akka and finally to Bahji. In fact, of the countless themes which run through Baha’u’llah’s Writings, his imprisonment and suffering is one of the most recurring:

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The Bahá’í Statement on Nature

(Editor’s note: In honor of Earth Day this April 22nd, the following article from Bahai.org offers the Baha’i perspective on our approach and responsibilities to our earthly home.)



 


In September of 1986 the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) launched its Network on Conservation and Religion, bringing religious leaders representing Buddhists, Christians, Hindus, Jews and Muslims together with environmental leaders in Assisi, Italy. Each of the five religions represented there issued a declaration on nature. As of October 1987, the Bahá’ís became the sixth major religion to join this new alliance, and put forward this statement in support of the Network’s objectives.

 

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“Nature in its essence is the embodiment of My Name, the Maker, the Creator. Its manifestations are diversified by varying causes, and in this diversity there are signs for men of discernment. Nature is God’s Will and is its expression in and through the contingent world. It is a dispensation of Providence ordained by the Ordainer, the All-Wise.” ~ Bahá’í Writings

With those words, Bahá’u’lláh, Prophet-Founder of the Bahá’í Faith, outlines the essential relationship between man and the environment: that the grandeur and diversity of the natural world are purposeful reflections of the majesty and bounty of God. For Bahá’ís, there follows an implicit understanding that nature is to be respected and protected, as a divine trust for which we are answerable.

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The Spiritual Design of Creation

The Spiritual Design of Creation: Solving the puzzle of human life and destiny
By Hushidar Hugh Motlagh

In its pages, the author presents his case for understanding the creation and process of our world as a spiritual enterprise. He makes his case with successive chapters employing information from a wide variety of fields of study, including branches of science such as biology, chemistry and physics, mathematics, medical specialties including neurology and physiology, and the humanities and social sciences.

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