The Journey West Podcast: ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s Travels to Europe and North America

Produced by a group of Bahá’ís in 2012 for the centenary commemoration of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s travels westward, The Journey West is a 27-episode podcast that explores ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s journey to Europe and North America in 1911-1913: a mission not only to spread the teachings of His Father, Bahá’u’lláh, but also to exemplify what it means to be a Bahá’í.

Each episode is about half an hour long and is divided into three parts. The first part features a story about ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, often with artfully re-enacted accounts of those who personally met Him as they describe their impressions of their encounters. The stories are brought to life with ambient sound effects of the time: the clopping of a horse’s hooves, train whistles and other sounds that set the various scenes of the early 1900s. The story is then followed by a relevant and reverent recitation of a portion of one of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s many talks given at a variety of venues during His journey. To wrap up the episode, a roundtable discussion of the theme presented by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in His talk explores how ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s masterful articulation of His Father’s teachings guides us on a personal level, provides healing to our communities, and unites humankind.

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A Year of Remembering ‘Abdu’l-Bahá

The following article is from bahai.us. Image: Graphic rendering of the Shrine of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Copyright © Bahá’í International Community


Ridvan 178-179 BE (April 20, 2021 to 2022) is the Centenary year of remembering ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, a year described by the Universal House of Justice as one of “profound reflection on the life of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá and the strength of the Covenant of which He was the Centre, as the community prepares to commemorate the centenary of His Ascension”.

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An Introduction to The Promulgation of Universal Peace

The following article, authored by Matthew Brand, is from Baha’i Blog. Photo: ‘Abdu’l-Bahá addressing a large gathering at the Plymouth Congregational Church, Chicago, Illinois, 5 May 1912 © Bahá’í International Community

On April 11, 1912 in New York City, Abdu’l-Baha commenced 239 unforgettable days traversing the North American continent with this warm greeting: “How are you? Welcome! Welcome!” How typical it was of His generosity of spirit that He should be welcoming His devotees as His own guests!

After arriving today, although weary with travel, I had the utmost longing and yearning to see you and could not resist this meeting. Now that I have met you, all my weariness has vanished, for your meeting is the cause of spiritual happiness.1

This long voyage will prove how great is my love for you. There were many troubles and vicissitudes, but, in the thought of meeting you, all these things vanished and were forgotten.2

Abdu’l-Baha’s loving words of encouragement and guidance continue to ring out more than a century later, inviting readers today to follow in His footsteps through the pages of The Promulgation of Universal Peace, the indispensable collection of talks and discourses He gave during His North American sojourn.

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The Significance of the Declaration of the Báb within the Context of Progressive Revelation

The following is a partial transcript from an 11-part lecture series given by Professor Nader Saiedi called “Text and Context in the Baha’i Heroic Age”. From Talk 1, it begins at 3:31. See bottom of post for audio of the full lecture series.


Now, the Bahá’í Faith begins with a particular event, as you all know, that was May 23, 1844. A young scholar of the Shaykhí school called Mullá Husayn… meets the Báb in Shiraz and he’s invited to the house of the Báb, and they have conversation and interactions. And through this interaction, of course, the first major work of the Báb after the Declaration is beginning to be revealed, and that’s the Commentary on the Súrih of Joseph, which I’m sure I’ll talk about in one of these sessions.

But I want you to pay attention to this historic event. This is the moment of the inception of the Bahá’í Faith. But something is happening here which is very, very important – and very crucial – and that is the fact that the beginning of the Bahá’í Faith, which according to the Báb, that night was the beginning of the Day of Resurrection, the Day of Judgement. It’s a historic night. That day, which becomes the beginning of the … Bábi/Bahá’í calendar, is not the day in which a new relation emerges between the Báb and God … It has nothing to do with the relation of the Báb and God. What defines that particular night, is that that night defines a particular relation between God – through the Báb – and a particular human being. Namely Mullá Husayn.

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Historical Consciousness and the Divine Plan: A Series of 8 Talks by Mr. Douglas Martin

The following content is from Baha’i Blog.


IN THIS SERIES OF EIGHT TALKS, historian Douglas Martin discusses the evolution of religion in the context of our capacity to respond to the requirements of the Divine Plan.

Douglas Martin was born in 1927 in Ontario, Canada. He held a Bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of Western Ontario and a Master’s degree in history from the University of Waterloo, Ontario.

He was a member of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’is of Canada from 1960-85, serving as its general secretary from 1965-85. From 1985-93 he was director-general of the Baha’i International Community’s Office of Public Information at the Baha’i World Centre in Haifa.

Mr. Douglas Martin was also a former member of the Universal House of Justice, the governing body of the Baha’i International Community (for more information, please visit: universalhouseofjustice.bahai.org).

Mr. Martin passed away on 28 September 2020 in Toronto, Canada. You can read a tribute to him by the Universal House of Justice on the Baha’i World News Service: news.bahai.org/story/1455/

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The Bahá’í Response to Racial Injustice and Pursuit of Racial Unity: Part 1 (1912-1996)

The following excerpted article is from bahaiworld.bahai.org. Content ©2021 Bahá’í International Community.
Photo: The second Bahá’í race amity convention in America, held in the auditorium of Central High School, Springfield, Massachusetts, 5-6 December 1921

BY RICHARD THOMAS


This is the first of two articles focusing on the American Bahá’í community’s efforts to bring about racial unity. This first article is a historical survey of nine decades of earnest striving and struggle in the cause of justice. A second article, to be published in the future, will focus on the profound developments in the Bahá’í world over the past twenty-five years, beginning with 1996, and explore their implications for addressing racial injustice today and in the years to come.

* * *

Once again, as the United States finds itself embroiled in racial conflicts and decades-old struggles for racial justice and racial unity, the Bahá’í community of the United States stands ready to contribute its share to the healing of the nation’s racial wounds. Neither the current racial crisis nor the current awakening is unique. Sadly, the United States has been here before.1 The American people have learned many lessons but have also forgotten other lessons about how best to solve the underlying problems facing their racially polarized society. For decades the country has seen countless efforts by brave and courageous individuals and dedicated organizations and institutions to hold back the relentless tide of racism. Many of these efforts have achieved great outcomes, but the tide has repeatedly rushed back in to test the resolve of every generation after the fall of Reconstruction, the Civil Rights Movement, and the historic election of the first African American president.2

During some of America’s worst racial crises, the Bahá’í community has joined the gallant struggle not only to hold back the tide of racism but also to build a multiracial community based on the recognition of the organic unity of the human race. Inspired by this spiritual and moral principle, the Bahá’í community, though relatively small in number and resources, has, for well over a century, sought ways to contribute to the nation’s efforts to achieve racial justice and racial unity. This has been a work in progress, humbly shared with others. It is an ongoing endeavor, one the Bahá’í community recognizes as “a long and thorny path beset with pitfalls.”3

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For the Betterment of the World: A publication that highlights fundamental concepts that guide Bahá’í efforts in social action

All images on this page ©2021 Bahá’í International Community.


About the publication

The following description is from BahaiBookstore.com.

For the Betterment of the World, prepared by the Office of Social and Economic Development* at the Bahá’í World Centre, highlights fundamental concepts that guide Bahá’í efforts in social action.

Much of the publication is dedicated to providing practical examples of projects undertaken in diverse parts of the world. It describes a sampling of Bahá’í development endeavors across a broad spectrum, ranging from grassroots efforts of limited duration undertaken by individuals or small groups, to sophisticated programs of social and economic development implemented by Bahá’í-inspired nongovernmental organizations. The publication also explains how, most often, development endeavors emerge and advance within localities that have a pronounced sense of community and a growing collective consciousness.

Bahá’í social and economic development initiatives address various aspects of community life, and the publication explores some of these, such as education, health, agriculture, the economic life of communities, arts and media, and the advancement of women. Regardless of the specific nature or scale of an initiative, Bahá’í endeavors for social and economic development operate on the principle that populations should be the protagonists of their own material, spiritual, and intellectual advancement, not just recipients of aid or mere participants. All Bahá’í-inspired initiatives are motivated by a desire to serve humanity and seek to promote the social and material well-being of all people.

Visit BahaiBookstore.com to download a free PDF, or purchase a printed copy of the publication.

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“Recreating Ourselves in the Image of the Master”: A series of talks by Tom Price on ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, the Perfect Exemplar

Photo: ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in Dublin, New Hampshire, 26 July 1912 © 2020 Bahá’í International Community


NEXT YEAR, IN 2021, Bahá’ís around the world will be commemorating the centenary of the Ascension of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá.

Shoghi Effendi, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s eldest grandson and appointed Guardian of the Bahá’í Faith, said that ‘Abdu’l-Bahá should be regarded “first and foremost, as the Center and Pivot of Bahá’u’lláh’s peerless and all-enfolding Covenant, His most exalted handiwork, the stainless Mirror of His light, the perfect Exemplar of His teachings, the unerring Interpreter of His Word…”

‘Abdu’l-Bahá accomplished many achievements during His life, but “the most outstanding achievement that will forever be associated with ‘Abdu’l‑Bahá’s ministry,” according to Shoghi Effendi, is “the establishment of the Faith of Bahá’u’lláh in the Western Hemisphere.”

In 2012, Tom Price, a Bahá’í songwriter, conductor, musical director and public speaker, gave a series of talks at the Tennessee Bahá’í School as part of a commemoration of the 100th anniversary of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s travels to the West. He opens the first discussion by recalling an August 2010 message from the Universal House of Justice which articulates that this is a time for more than just commemoration. The message states: “The words uttered by ‘Abdu’l‑Bahá during His travels, and the deeds He undertook with such consummate wisdom and love, offer an abundance of inspiration and manifold insights from which the body of the believers can today draw, whether in their efforts to embrace receptive souls, to raise capacity for service, to build local communities, to strengthen institutions, or to exploit opportunities emerging to engage in social action and contribute to public discourse.”

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Spatial Strategies for Racial Unity

The following is from bahaiworld.bahai.org. Content ©2020 Bahá’í International Community. Photo by Ivan Bandura

BY JUNE MANNING THOMAS


A few portions of this paper were previously published by the author in “Race, Place, and Clusters: Current Visions and Possible Strategies,” The Journal of Bahá’í Studies 27, no. 3 (2017): 85-124.

* * *

Lack of unity among people of various races, ethnicities, and classes is a major problem for human society. Many nations face such disunity, which can cause social conflict, lack of empathy for “others,” discrimination, and exploitation. Bahá’ís think of such problems as symptoms; the illness is absence of the unity of the human race. One subset of the unity that is necessary is racial unity. As the term is used here, racial unity focuses on unity among various racial and ethnic groups.

Eliminating individual prejudice is a necessary, but insufficient, part of promoting racial unity. Human beings have embedded racial disunity within geographic space, where it is hard to change and is reinforced by political, economic, and social boundaries. Thus, individual people may believe themselves free of racial prejudice, but they may face no or weak testing of this belief if they are isolated in geographic circumstances that solidify racial disunity. Spatial geography can reinforce systemic racial discrimination.

This is a difficult problem, but throughout its history the Bahá’í Faith has always championed racial unity, even in difficult circumstances. Direct guidance from the Head of the Faith, in each period of Bahá’í history, has consistently counseled the Bahá’ís to abandon prejudice against different races, religions, ethnicities, and nationalities. In addition, the Bahá’í community has purposefully aimed to increase diversity within its own religious community by inviting people of diverse races, ethnicities, and nationalities into its ranks. The approach that the worldwide Bahá’í community now uses builds on these historic principles and strategies, while extending beyond them to offer lasting social transformation for all people in a community. It offers the world a process that can help promote racial unity, even in situations of geographic disunity. Considering how to accomplish this requires strategic thinking.

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Community and Collective Action

The following is from bahaiworld.bahai.org. Content and photo © 2020 Bahá’í International Community

BY GUSTAVO CORREA


Adapted from a talk given at the Bahá’í World Centre in 2015

In neighborhoods and villages around the world, tens, hundreds, and in some places, thousands of people, inspired by the teachings of Bahá’u’lláh, are engaged in activities that aim to “build community.” In their efforts, we can already see signs of the emergence of new patterns of collective life: a village coming together regularly at the hour of dawn to summon divine assistance before the day’s work; a group of people combining skills and knowledge to carry out a reforestation project; neighbors consulting on ways to establish classes for the spiritual education of their children; a population beginning to shed age-old prejudices and build new patterns of interaction based on justice and unity; young adults, in rural and urban settings, initiating small-scale agricultural projects to support their communities—examples like these and many more are springing up from every continent and multiplying.

The current global crisis has raised awareness about the importance of human solidarity and collective action. Within this context, it seems timely to ask ourselves: What is the place of community in our modern world and what is the kind of community towards which we aspire?

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