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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Naw-Ruz: Spiritual Springtime

(The following article is by Preethi from bahaiblog.net)


 

Every year, on March 21st, Baha’is from all over the world and of all cultural backgrounds celebrate Naw-Ruz.

Naw Ruz has its origins as a Zoroastrian observance in ancient Iran and, to this day, is celebrated as a cultural festival by Iranians of all religious backgrounds. In addition to being celebrated by Iranians and members of the Iranian diaspora, the observance of Naw Ruz has also spread to many other parts of the world, and is celebrated a a cultural holiday in India, Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Iraqi Kurdistan, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan.

Naw-Ruz, which means “New Day”, is celebrated at the vernal equinox, on the first day of spring. It is a time of joy and celebration, with the darkness of winter coming to an end and the reappearance of light, warmth and the beauty of spring’s flowers. It is a day of new beginnings – of change and hope.

However, for Baha’is, Naw Ruz also has deep spiritual significance. Naw Ruz marks the end of the 19-day Baha’i Fast, which is a period of reflection and profound spiritual reinvigoration for Baha’is. Naw-Ruz was ordained by Baha’u’llah as a celebration of humanity’s “spiritual springtime”: the Baha’i dispensation.

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What Bahá’ís Believe: Love and Knowledge

The following article is from bahai.org.



 

Spiritual qualities flourish as love and knowledge grow within our minds and hearts. In this process, we become better and better able to discern between that which is conducive to loftiness and that which leads to abasement, and we advance in our understanding of the physical universe, the human being, society, and the life of the spirit. Love grows with knowledge and true understanding is enhanced by love.

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One Reality: The Harmony of Science and Religion

Compiled by Bonnie J. Taylor
Introduction by John S. Hatcher

One Reality is a compilation of sacred Baha’i writings on the topic of the unity of science and religion as expressed in the Baha’i faith. The introduction by John S. Hatcher provides context for exploring the writings that follow in the body of the book. Ms. Taylor has arranged the chapters in an order that emphasizes developmental and logical progression in understanding the concepts presented, and the chapters are also sub-divided at times to emphasize individual ideas. The reader is presented with sequential passages that build understanding of the Baha’i perspective, and open understanding of both the concept of unity and the ways we can understand the world around us. Helpful for both personal deepening and understanding for teaching, this book is a valuable addition to any Baha’i bookshelf.

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Circle of Friends Book Club

*** Next bookclub meeting: Wednesday, February 8, 2017 at 7 pm at the Bahá’í Center. All are welcome! ***
The February meeting will be a group reflection/consultation to evaluate the direction the bookclub is taking and fill in our future calendar. Please join us and add your ideas!

The Circle of Friends Book Club is one of the many groups that are meeting at the Bahá’í Center. Dedicated to exploring books of all sorts, the group meets on the second Wednesday of every month from 7-9 pm. Both Baha’is and non-Baha’is are welcome at bookclub. Please join us for lively conversation, new information about books, and exchange of ideas in a comfortable small group atmosphere. Come and enjoy light snacks and lots of laughter too!

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Universal Peace

(The following article is from bahai.org)

The teachings of Baha’u’llah are vast in their scope, exploring as they do such themes as the nature and purpose of Revelation, the inherent nobility of the human being, the cultivation of spiritual qualities, and humanity’s interactions with the natural world. The Bahá’í Writings are also replete with references to universal peace—“the supreme goal of all mankind”—as well as explanations of the social principles with which this peace is associated.

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