Monday, December 12, 2016

Baha’is should start teaching in Israel.

Why not Baha'is ?
The rule that Baha’is do not teach their Faith in Israel goes back to the time of Baha’u’llah, and was confirmed by Abdu’l-Baha. There is a short paper by Dr. Kavian Milani, in Persian, that quotes Baha’u’llah’s words, forbidding teaching in “Sham” (the Ottoman province of Syria which includes present-day Israel and Palestinian territories). (link updated August 2015)
  1. However there is not a clear reason for the prohibition from the quotes. Nobody understands it. Baha’is obey only because Baha’u’llah said so. It seems to be a permanent rule, only the boundaries of the area around the Baha’i World Centre where there is no Baha’i teaching activity have changed, as governments have come and gone.
  2. Nevertheless people did become Baha’is in Palestine at that time, and there were small Baha’i communities in various towns and villages in the north. However in the 1940’s, as the Israel/ Palestine conflict developed, Shoghi Effendi asked the whole Baha’i community to emigrate. To this day, there are only a minimum staff serving at the Baha’i shrines and gardens and in the offices there, there is no “Israeli Baha’i community” as such. People who do become Baha’is are asked to leave. Again, so far as we know the reason has not been stated.
  3. The Baha’i teachings hardly favor the idea of a state that is designed primarily for people of one ethnic and religious identity. Baha’is favor unity in diversity and the abandonment of prejudices of all kinds. Perhaps Shoghi Effendi’s decision was a quiet expression of disapproval for the Zionist foundations of Israel (which I recognize today is much more diverse than just a Zionist project).
  4. As a sidelight on this, at one time in the 1920’s there were rumors of plans to bury a leading Zionist on Mount Carmel, and Shoghi Effendi was engaged in raising funds to buy land around the Baha’i shrines to prevent it (See Ruhiyyih Khanum, The Priceless Pearl, p. 97)

Israeli Penal code

Regarding teaching other religions in Israel, from what we have read, as recent as 2015, the Israeli penal code, enacted in 1977, bans only missionary activity that involves any “material benefit,” or is aimed at minors. Tourists to Israel (one third are now Christian evangelicals who are largely very pro Israel politically) are also legally permitted to share their religion with Israelis.

The issue with the Mormons in 1984 over the building of a campus in Jerusalem was ultimately resolved with them agreeing formally not to engage in missionary activities. Many or most other American Christian organizations have followed this practice.

While the Jewish ultra-Orthodox sects are said to “completely ignore these prohibitions in their own missionary activity”, the Jewish Messianic (which converts Jews to Christian faith, e.g. Jews for Jesus) who are very publicly active in Israel, and legally so. Conservative estimates of their number is 20,000 individuals in more than 100 congregations. During Prime Minister Netanyahu’s last government, Yad L’Achim unsuccessfully pushed to have the law amended to ban such missionary activity.

So if Christian evangelicals, Mormons, Jewish ultra-Orthodox, Jewish Messianic etc can be publicly active then why not the Baha’is who are trying to reform the youths and children of the society for betterment and advancement of the society.

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Shimon Peres writes about Baha'i Faith

In his book "The Imaginary Voyage: With Theodor Herzl in Israel"
Shimon Peres writes about Baha'i Faith
Used as he was to Vienna’s parks, Herzl felt right at home here, where the sacred and secular sit side by side. Elijah’s mountain is above all a mecca of spirituality. The world headquarters of the Carmelite order is here, as is the Baha’i Shrine, with its dome of twelve thousand gold tiles. Set in the midst of the sumptuous Persian Gardens, it is without doubt Haifa’s most beautiful building. The shrine houses the remains of the founder of that religion, the Bab (meaning “the Gate”), whose full name was Mirza Ali Mohammed. In the mid-nineteenth century, this Muslim of Persian origin preached a new, universal message, offering a syncretist view of the world in which brotherhood, love, and charity are joined to the notion that all monotheistic religions are basically the same; only in their dogma do they differ. Thus the Bab viewed Babism as a normal progression of earlier monotheistic faiths. Persecuted in his native Persia, the Bab was arrested and martyred in Tabriz, upon order of the Shah, in 1850. At the time of his death, Babism counted some twenty thousand adherents. For more than half a century his followers kept his remains hidden. In the early years of the twentieth century, they purchased this plot of land on Mount Carmel as a suitably majestic place for his permanent burial.

The Bab did not proclaim himself the messiah but the herald of such a one who would be called Baha’Allah. Thirteen years later, Baha’Allah announced that he was the Promised One foretold by the Bab, and renamed the faith Baha'i. For all intents and purposes, the two faiths are one and the same.

The Baha’i movement enjoyed a spectacular growth over the century and a half since his death, and today counts roughly four million adherents worldwide.

“What made the Bab’s followers choose Haifa?” Herzl asked.

“Some people say quite by chance,” I replied, “but I believe it was because Baha’Allah was kept under house arrest in Acre by the Ottoman authorities. He lived there until 1892, and after his death his son, taking advantage of the climate of tolerance under the British mandate, established the International Baha’i Center on Mount Carmel in the 1930s... ”

“... of which the shrine, which I must say is stunning, is the crowning achievement,” Herzl finished.

“After 1948,” I went on, “the new Jewish state committed to honor the Baha’i Center. There are some three thousand Baha’i faithful who live here in Haifa today, alongside Jews, Christians, and Muslims.”

“In peace and harmony,” I thought I heard Herzl murmur. I couldn’t tell whether it was a question or a comment. Assuming it was the former, I assented, “Yes, in peace and harmony. Unfortunately, I can’t say the same for Jerusalem.”

I thought Herzl would also be interested to learn that, because of that peaceful coexistence in Haifa, the city also is subject to a special statute concerning the Sabbath, which was instituted under the British mandate and still applied today: in contrast to the other cities of Israel, buses in Haifa run all day Saturday, except in certain areas, and theaters, movie houses, restaurants, and discotheques remain open on the Sabbath, unless the owners chose to close for their own religious reasons. All of which makes the city a lively place seven days a week.

UHJ pays tribute to Shimon Peres, attends funeral service.

Mr. Ian Semple describes the policy of UHJ with regards to attending the funeral of Israeli Presidents.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Hakím Masíh, the First Jewish Believer


The first believer converted to the Faith from the Jewish
community of Persia

The first of the Jewish community to recognize the truth of the Mission of Bahá'u'lláh in Persia was a notable physician named Masíh (Messiah) referred to as Hakím Masíh.* Being highly skilled in his profession, he was appointed as a physician to the court of Muhammad Sháh, and when the Sháh made a journey to 'Iráq, Hakím Masíh accompanied him. When in Baghdád, he learnt that Táhirih was staying in the home of one of the early believers, and was holding discussions with the divines in the city. He went there to see what was being said. No sooner


* The title of Hakím was given to people who were skilled physicians and were endowed with wisdom and divine knowledge.

had he heard the utterances of Táhirih addressed to the company of divines, and witnessed their helplessness to refute her proofs in support of her newly found Faith, than he was captivated by her powerful arguments and sheer personality. Although he was not allowed to enter into any discussions, Hakím Masíh was very curious to find out how Táhirih had acquired such eloquence and powers which bordered on the supernatural.

Shaykh Kázim-i-Samandar* has recorded the following in his memoirs:

I met Hakím Masíh who was of Jewish descent. He was the first among the Jews to enter the community of the friends (i.e. Bahá'ís). It surprised me when I discovered that he was friendly, faithful, full of enthusiasm and love; and so said to him, 'There is a large gap between the Faith of Moses and this great Cause, how did you make this long and glorious journey and arrive at this abode?' He said, 'My visit to Baghdád coincided with the time that Táhirih was in that city. Through some circumstances I was present at some of the meetings where she conversed with the divines. I was astonished and awestruck by the way she talked, by the manner in which she conducted her conversations, and by the power of her utterances. I became attracted and began to meditate and decided to investigate this Cause and deepen my knowledge of it. I made some enquiries in Baghdád and later in other places, until I attained my heart's desire.7

Some years after meeting Táhirih in Baghdád, Hakím Masíh met Ismu'lláhu'l-Asdaq, a meeting brought about by Providence. The Ismu'lláh had been arrested because of his allegiance to the Faith, put in chains and brought to Tihrán under escort. This cruel act was carried out by order of the Governor of Khurásán who was enforcing an edict issued by no less than eighteen divines of Islám in that province. The Ismu'lláh was forced to take with him his youngest son, Ibn-i-Asdaq, who was a mere child at the time. Two other believers


* see pp. 88, 257.
7. Táríkh-i-Samandar, p. 348.

were also chained and taken to Tihrán with him.

The intention was to execute them in the capital city. Instead, the Government ordered that they be imprisoned in the Síyáh-Chál. Father and child were chained together and kept in that terrible dungeon for about two years and four months.

The hardships of prison life took their toll and the young child became seriously ill. The chief gaoler, a certain Mashhadí 'Alí, was a kind person and he sent for a physician. But no physician could be found who would be willing to treat a patient who was a Bábí. In desperation he called on Hakím Masíh who was Jewish. He accepted and immediately went to the prison.

For a period of two months he regularly attended the child until he recovered from his illness. At the same time, having been so deeply impressed by Táhirih, this gave him the opportunity to learn about the Faith from an illustrious believer. Even after his patient had fully recovered he used to spend hours in the prison, sitting at the Ismu'lláh's feet and learning about the Faith. Soon after, he became a believer fully aware that the Promised One of the Old Testament, the 'Everlasting Father', the Lord of Hosts, had manifested Himself. When Bahá'u'lláh was informed of His conversion, He revealed an exalted Tablet in his honour. He has revealed other Tablets for him too, but unfortunately most of these were destroyed. This is because in those days the believers used to protect their Bahá'í materials by hiding them underground or inside the walls, so that they might not fall into the hands of the enemy. Sadly, when unearthed, the Tablets of Hakím Masíh were found to have been destroyed by moisture.

In one of these Tablets,8 Bahá'u'lláh urges Hakím Masíh to be steadfast in the Cause of God so that he may not be shaken by the winds of opposition which were blowing from the direction of the enemies. He states that the people were following the dictates of their passions and corrupt desires,


8. Unpublished.

and directs him to counsel such people to abandon their evil ways and turn to their God. Bahá'u'lláh, in this Tablet, showers His favours upon Hakím Masíh and affirms that He has bestowed upon him a great station. Hakím Masíh taught the Faith to his family who became ardent believers. Notable among his descendants was Dr Lutfu'lláh Hakím, his youngest grandson, who served the Master and Shoghi Effendi with exemplary devotion and was elected to the Universal House of Justice in 1963 when that Supreme Body of the Faith came into being for the first time.

The light of the new Faith of God which shone forth in the heart of Hakím Masíh illumined many more among his coreligionists in Persia. At first, a few embraced the Cause of Bahá'u'lláh in Hamadán and Káshán and soon great numbers from the Jewish community joined the Faith and swelled the ranks of the believers in Persia. There are many Tablets revealed by Bahá'u'lláh in honour of the believers of Jewish background.

Baha'u'llah's proclamation to the Jewish Leadership

From Revelation of Baha'u'llah, Vol 3
By Adib Taherzadeh

A Bahá'í of Jewish origin who was directed by Bahá'u'lláh to proclaim the Faith to Baron Rothschild
A survey of Baha'u'llah's letters to the leaders of the world indicates that all the nations and major religions of the world were given the opportunity to hear of His coming. Probably one exception was the Jewish people as they did not belong to a particular state at the time. One year before His passing, Baha'u'llah had made a remark concerning His proclamation to the rulers of the world. He is reported to have said that by then He had fully proclaimed His Mission to the crowned heads of the world, but He desired to convey the Message of God to Baron Rothschild[1] who could be considered as the leader of the Jewish people at the time. This remark was addressed to a believer of Jewish descent, Mirza 'Azizu'llah-i-Jadhdhab who had gone to 'Akka to attain the presence of Baha'u'llah for the third time in the year AH 1308 (AD 1891). Baha'u'llah directed him to write to Baron Rothschild and proclaim the Faith to him and if possible pay him a visit.

[1 Probably Baron Nathaniel Mayer, Lord Rothschild of London (1840-1915), then considered the lay head of world Jewry; or else Baron Edmond de Rothschild of Paris (1845-1934), the great benefactor of thousands of Jews then settling in Palestine.] 

The story of the life of Mirza 'Azizu'llah and his services to the Cause of God are interesting and inspiring indeed. He was of Jewish descent. His father, living in the city of Mashhad, was a learned man and well versed in the Old Testament and other religious books. He used to teach the Old Testament to the Jewish youth. Pure-hearted and with great insight into religious matters, he recognized the truth of the Faith of Islam and secretly declared his conversion to the Muslim authorities. With the exception of his wife, no other members of the Jewish community, not even his own children, were aware of his conversion to Islam. This was about sixteen years before the birth of the Babi Faith. In particular, he advised his family to watch for the coming of the Lord of Hosts, as he had discovered according to the Holy Books that His advent was at hand.

A few years later, in 1838, some tragic incident resulted in the massacre of about thirty-five Jews in the city of Mashhad by the Muslims. All the surviving Jews took refuge in the homes of Muslim clergy and in order to save their lives, agreed to accept the Faith of Islam. They were officially converted by the clergy, but, of course, in secret they practised the Jewish Faith. Although their lives had been saved, the Jews newly converted to Islam continued to live in a separate quarter of the city and were not fully integrated with the Muslim community. They were referred to as the 'newcomers' and were still persecuted by the Muslims.

Mirza 'Azizu'llah lived in this community. He went to a Muslim school as a child, but soon left it. Instead, he learnt the Old Testament, became fully acquainted with the Jewish Faith, and practised it in secret. Although his education was elementary, he became a successful merchant and emerged as a man of ability and enterprise.

The first time he heard the word 'Baha'u'llah' was when one of his brothers, who had become a Baha'i, mentioned the story of the martyrdom of Badi' to him. But Mirza 'Azizu'llah, being very staunch in the Jewish Faith, did not show any interest, and the brother did not pursue the matter any further.

Some time passed and the two brothers had to undertake a series of journeys together on business. In the course of these journeys Mirza 'Azizu'llah decided to polish up his elementary knowledge of reading and writing Persian. Being a talented man, it did not take him very long to become proficient as a reader.

One day when his brother was out he took a Baha'i book and began to read it. He was moved by what he read, but discounted the whole idea of a new Faith. Then one night he had a dream, of which he has written this account in his memoirs:

In my dream, I heard the announcement that the Lord of Hosts, the Promised One of all ages, had appeared, and that He was inspecting the company of the Prophets and all their followers. I went along immediately to the appointed place. I saw a vast place on which multitudes of people were assembled in lines. Each prophet along with his followers was seated facing the Qiblih.[1] I was surprised by the extraordinary light and vision which was given to my eyes, as I could easily see all the people lined up in that vast area.

[1 Literally: point of adoration. A point to which the faithful turn at the time of prayer.]

Opposite the multitudes and facing them, a venerable figure was seated upon a chair uttering some words. I was standing at the end of a line. His blessed Person was over fifty years of age, had a long black beard and was wearing a green Taj[1] sewn with green silk thread. With His blessed hand He signalled me to go to Him. With my hands I gesticulated to say, how can I come with all these crowds in front of me? He waved His hands to the multitudes and they all prostrated themselves on the ground. He then beckoned me to go forward. I was not sure at this point whether it was to me or someone else that He was signalling. He then repeated His command. This time I went forward immediately, stepping on the backs of people who lay prostrate in front of me, until I reached Him. I prostrated myself at His feet and kissed them. He then helped me up to my feet with His hand and recited the verse of the Qur'an: 'Blessed be God, the most excellent Creator.(23)
[1 Head-dress similar to the one that Baha'u'llah used to wear.]

Although this dream made a great impression on Mirza 'Azizu'llah, he still remained steadfast in his Jewish faith until some time later when he was converted to the Faith of Baha'u'llah by Haji 'Abdu'l-Majid, the father of Badi'. Soon after embracing the Faith, Mirza 'Azizu'llah and his brother journeyed to 'Akka to attain the presence of Baha'u'llah. This was in the year 1876, his first pilgrimage to the Holy Land. When the appointed time arrived, Mirza 'Azizu'llah was ushered into the room of Baha'u'llah in 'Akka. As soon as his eyes saw the person of Baha'u'llah he was awestruck to find himself in the presence of the One whom he had seen some years before in that memorable dream, wearing the same clothes and the same green head-dress. With all the devotion and love in his heart Mirza 'Azizu'llah promptly prostrated himself at the feet of his Lord. Baha'u'llah bent down, helped him up to his feet and recited the verse of the Qur'an: 'Blessed be God, the most excellent Creator!'

During his stay in 'Akka, Mirza 'Azizu'llah attained the presence of Baha'u'llah and 'Abdu'l-Baha many times. As a result, he became endowed with a new spirit of faith and assurance. The first time that he attained the presence of Baha'u'llah, he witnessed the revelation of Baha'u'llah's Tablets and heard His voice as He revealed them. This experience left an abiding impression upon him. The only regret he had was that he could not read Arabic and hence was unable to fully appreciate the Holy Writings. This was because he had left school so young and had missed the opportunity to learn Arabic. He felt remorseful over this. Someone in 'Akka volunteered to teach him Arabic, but he declined the offer as he had no time or patience to learn a language so vast in vocabulary and so complex in grammar.

The next day when he attained the presence of Baha'u'llah, he approached Him by way of the heart and begged that through His bountiful favours, He might enable him to understand Arabic without going through the usual method of learning the language. His wish was granted, and Mirza 'Azizu'llah one day became very excited when he found himself reading and understanding the Qur'an and the Tablets of Baha'u'llah in Arabic.

Many early believers were uneducated but they were endowed by Baha'u'llah with a knowledge which men of learning but devoid of faith did not possess. Earlier on[1] we have described this form of knowledge, a knowledge which wells out of the heart and is not dependent on learning. [1 pp. 94-5.] Concerning the special mission given him during his last pilgrimage to 'Akka, to proclaim the Faith to Baron Rothschild, Mirza 'Azizu'llah has recorded the following in his memoirs:

After leaving the Holy Land,[1] I arrived in Istanbul. There I knew a certain broker who had the knowledge of the French language. I asked him if he would teach me a little French every day, so that on my journey to meet Rothschild I would be able to converse a little in that language. In the meantime, I composed a letter to Rothschild which was rendered into French. In this communication I informed him of the coming of Baha'u'llah and of the fulfilment of the prophecies of the Old Testament concerning the advent of the Lord of Hosts who had revealed Himself on Mount Carmel at this time. I explained that the followers of Baha'u'llah were inviting us to embrace His Cause, adducing proofs and demonstrating that prophecies have been fulfilled. I reminded him that he was considered as the head of the Jewish People. Therefore, I asked him to refer this matter to the Jewish divines in Jerusalem so that they might respond to this question. I explained further that either one had to nullify the proofs and the prophecies of the Old Testament or to accept this blessed Cause. After sending this communication I began to learn French. In those days, Aqa Siyyid Ahmad-i-Afnan[2] was in Istanbul. He was very curious to find out the reason for my learning French at this time in my life, and for what purpose I was thinking of going to Paris and London. But since the visit to Rothschild was a confidential matter I did not disclose it...(24)

[1 This was in 1891. (A.T.)]
[2 A member of the Afnan family who ran a business in Istanbul.]

Unfortunately the memoirs of Mirza 'Azizu'llah are not conclusive in that there is no mention of whether he succeeded in meeting the Baron or not.

Another interesting mission which Mirza 'Azizu'llah undertook during 'Abdu'l-Baha's ministry was to visit Leo Tolstoy, the famous Russian philosopher and writer. Tolstoy was already informed of the Revelations of the Bab and Baha'u'llah, and had praised Their teachings. Mirza 'Azizu'llah succeeded in meeting him in September 1902 and in the course of an interview spoke to him at length on the history and the teachings of the Faith and explained the station of Baha'u'llah as the Promised One of all ages. The detailed discussions, questions and answers in this interview and the favourable response of Tolstoy, who believed that the Cause of Baha'u'llah would spread throughout the world are all recorded in his memoirs.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Baha'i Gardens attracting Jewish people to the Baha'i Faith

Born and raised in Haifa, Israel, Mordecai Schreiber spent six years in Latin America and is equally at home in Hebrew, Spanish, and English. He has served congregations in the U.S. and Central America, and has worked as an editor, translator, and publisher, with over 50 books authored under his name and under the pen name Morry Sofer.
For the past ten years I have been studying the prayers and meditations of the world’s major religions.

I have also traveled during that time, as a cruise ship clergyperson, to over 100 countries and islands. In all my travels I have been fascinated by the fervor of people everywhere whom I saw praying and meditating either alone, or in small groups, as well as in very large numbers. I have learned some important lessons about the power of prayer and its universality. In countries like Russia and China, where religion was suppressed for decades, I found large numbers of people attending Russian Orthodox churches and Buddhist temples, respectively. It became clear to me that human spiritual needs run much deeper than political ideologies. Most importantly, I became aware of the commonality of all forms of spiritual experience and devotion. While outwardly it seems that religions differ greatly from one another, in reality the differences come more from form than from substance.

My entire life has been a spiritual quest. I was born to secular Jewish parents in the seaport city of Haifa under the British Mandate for Palestine. Yet from a very young age I was fascinated by all the Abrahamic religions which dwelled side by side in my native town. Interestingly, I grew up across the street from the Baha’i temple and gardens in Haifa, and I learned at a young age that the Baha’i Faith embraced all religions.

Now, years later, I have come to fully appreciate the Baha’i belief in the oneness of religion and the progressive nature of revelation. For years, I have been troubled by the rivalry and exclusivism which characterized the way Judaism, Christianity, and Islam approached one another. When I decided to become a rabbi, I chose a progressive branch of Judaism, and after I was ordained I pursued interfaith studies and activities.

The post-Cold War world has now entered a new phase, which some refer to as a cultural and religious “clash of civilizations.” There seems to be a greater need today than ever before to initiate a world dialogue among all religions to harness the universal power of prayer and faith for the common good, rather than continue to work at cross-purposes, which can only exacerbate conflicts around the globe.

In my new book, Why People Pray: The Universal Power of Prayer, I make a case for a new language of prayer which can bring all people together across ideological divides. I point out that the Baha’i teachings are perfectly suited for starting a new phase in the history of human faith, in which the common good of all humanity is recognized as the highest value to be pursued by all cultures and creeds:

This is a new cycle of human power. All the horizons of the world are luminous, and the world will become indeed as a garden and a paradise. It is the hour of unity of the sons of men and of the drawing together of all races and all classes. You are loosed from ancient superstitions which have kept men ignorant, destroying the foundation of true humanity.

The gift of God to this enlightened age is the knowledge of the oneness of mankind and of the fundamental oneness of religion. War shall cease between nations, and by the will of God the Most Great Peace shall come; the world will be seen as a new world, and all men will live as brothers. – Abdu’l-Baha, Abdu’l-Baha in London, pp. 19-20.

In the final analysis, we all live on a planet that keeps getting smaller and ever more interdependent, and the good of one is the good of all.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Persian Jews Embracing Baha'i Religion

Persian Jews - 1900s
December 29, 1930

Jerusalem (Dec. 27)

The upper class Jews of Persia are rapidly embracing the Bahai religion, and the Jewish communities are disintegrating, according to Dr. W. Fishel, lecturer in the Oriental Institute of the Hebrew University, who has just returned from a trip to Persia, Iraq and Kurdistan.

Dr. Fishel stated to a representative of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency that English and American Christian missions are making the most of the disintegration of Jewish communities, establishing missions and schools among the poorer classes as the community leaders turn to Bahaism. “The Persian Jews are not only being converted but are being used as instruments for converting Jews of neighboring countries,” says Dr. Fishel.

He spoke of a “Marrano” community of five thousand families in Meshed, who secretly continued to practice their Judaism, and supported Jewish schools. In many cities, he said, Jews had openly applied to missions to establish schools for their children, as they found the establishments of the Alliance Israelite and of the Anglo-Jewish Association inadequate.

One-third of the Jewish children of Teheran were attending the mission schools, said Dr. Fishel, and the Church of England has decided to open a new school within the ghetto. The same conditions are prevalent in Amadan and Isphahan, he asserted, half the Jews of Amadan having adopted an oriental faith. 

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Holocaust Survivor Tomi Reichental Calls for Protection for Baha’is in Iran

 “As a Holocaust survivor I am calling on the people of Ireland and the international community to protect the Baha’i community in Iran.

On June 8th a UN statement has revealed that their very existence may be under threat.

Two UN experts, Special Rapporteurs Heiner Bielefeldt and Ahmed Shaheed have said that the current state-led incitement to hatred goes beyond even stripping the Iranian Baha’is of their rights and puts them in a very dangerous position. The UN have renewed their call on the Government of Iran to end state-sanctioned discrimination against the Baha’is. It is most important to stress that if members of the government do verbal attacks on a vulnerable community it encourages acts of violence.  That’s what happened in Germany, my native Slovakia and other parts of Europe during the Nazi era. People that we lived with for generations turned against us, betrayed us and in many instances violently attacked us.

Friday, May 20, 2016

The Báb – Herald of the Bahá’í Faith (1819-1850)

The Baha’i commemorates May 23, 1844, when the Bab, the herald of the Baha’i Faith, announced in Shiraz, Persia (now Iran), that he was the herald of a new messenger of God.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Baha'i House of Worship to be built on Mount Carmel in the near future.

Bahá'í literature directs that a House of Worship should be built in each city and town, and emphasizes that its doors must be open to all regardless of religion, or any other distinction. The Bahá'í laws emphasize that the spirit of the House of Worship must be a gathering place where people of all religions may worship God without denominational restrictions. The Bahá'í laws also stipulate that only the holy scriptures of the Bahá'í Faith and other religions can be read or chanted inside in any language; while readings and prayers may be set to music by choirs, no musical instruments may be played inside. Furthermore, no sermons may be delivered, and no ritualistic ceremonies practiced.

A site has been selected for a Bahá'í Temple in the vicinity of the Bahá'í World Centre on Mt. Carmel in Haifa, Israel. It is near the spot where Bahá'u'lláh chanted the Tablet of Carmel, the "Charter of the World Spiritual and Administrative Centers of the Faith on that mountain" according to Shoghi Effendi. A design by Mason Remey was approved by Shoghi Effendi. A photo of that model can be found in Baha'i World vol. XII, p. 548. It now stands in the upper hall of the Mansion of Bahji. In August 1971 the Universal House of Justice erected an obelisk on the site, on the side of which is the Greatest Name.

Obelisk marking the site of the future House of Worship. 

“The site for the first Mashriqu’l-Adhkár of the Holy Land has been selected . . . situated at the head of the Mountain of God, in close proximity to the Spot hallowed by the footsteps of Bahá’u’lláh, near the time-honoured Cave of Elijah, and associated with the revelation of the Tablet of Carmel, the Charter of the World Spiritual and Administrative Centres of the Faith on that mountain.”

Shoghi Effendi, Messages to the Bahá’í World, 1950–1957, p. 63.

To all National Spiritual Assemblies



Friday, January 8, 2016

Persecution of Jewish Baha'is by Iranian Jews

Photo Credit :
1894 (A.H.Q. 1312): Hamadan: Haji Yari a Baha'i of Jewish background, arrested and imprisoned.
1897 (A.H.Q. 1315): Hamadan: Homes of several Baha'is looted and ransacked after complaint by Jews of the town against Baha'is of Jewish background.

1903 (A.H.Q. 1321): Kashan: Several Baha'is arrested and imprisoned; Jewish leaders in the town denounced several Baha'is of Jewish background and these were also imprisoned.

Ref. - The Bahai World, Volume 18

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Should Jews Believe in Jesus? The Baha’is Say Yes

If you already believe in one prophet—Buddha, Moses, Christ, Muhammad—can you believe in others?

The Baha’i teachings answer that question with an emphatic and enthusiastic Yes! In just one example of this primary Baha’i principle, Abdu’l-Baha gave a powerful and controversial 1912 address challenging the Jewish members of Washington, D.C.’s largest synagogue, the Eighth Street Temple, to recognize and acknowledge Jesus Christ. He started his famous address this way:
God is one, the effulgence of God is one, and humanity constitutes the servants of that one God. God is kind to all. He creates and provides for all, and all are under His care and protection. The Sun of Truth, the Word of God, shines upon all mankind; the divine cloud pours down its precious rain; the gentle zephyrs of His mercy blow, and all humanity is submerged in the ocean of His eternal justice and loving-kindness. God has created mankind from the same progeny in order that they may associate in good fellowship, exercise love toward each other and live together in unity and brotherhood.
But we have acted contrary to the will and good pleasure of God. We have been the cause of enmity and disunion. We have separated from each other and risen against each other in opposition and strife. How many have been the wars between peoples and nations! What bloodshed! Numberless are the cities and homes which have been laid waste. All of this has been contrary to the good pleasure of God, for He hath willed love for humanity. – Abdu’l-Baha, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, pp. 402-403.
Abdu’l-Baha told the congregation much of that bloodshed and war was waged over religion:
Most regrettable of all is the state of difference and divergence we have created between each other in the name of religion, imagining that a paramount duty in our religious belief is that of alienation and estrangement, that we should shun each other and consider each other contaminated with error and infidelity. In reality, the foundations of the divine religions are one and the same. The differences which have arisen between us are due to blind imitations of dogmatic beliefs and adherence to ancestral forms of worship. – ibid, p. 403.
Abdu’l-Baha then praised all the prophets for proclaiming teachings of justice, mercy and love:
Even as God is pronounced to be just, man must likewise be just. As God is loving and kind to all men, man must likewise manifest loving-kindness to all humanity. As God is loyal and truthful, man must show forth the same attributes in the human world. Even as God exercises mercy toward all, man must prove himself to be the manifestation of mercy. In a word, the image and likeness of God constitute the virtues of God, and man is intended to become the recipient of the effulgences of divine attributes. This is the essential foundation of all the divine religions, the reality itself, common to all. Abraham promulgated this; Moses proclaimed it. Christ and all the Prophets upheld this standard and aspect of divine religion. – ibid, p. 403.
Then, to the delight of the Jewish congregation, Abdu’l-Baha effusively praised the teachings of Moses:
Inasmuch as Moses through the influence of His great mission was instrumental in releasing the Israelites from a low state of debasement and humiliation, establishing them in a station of prestige and glorification, disciplining and educating them, it is necessary for us to reach a fair and just judgment in regard to such a marvelous Teacher. For in this great accomplishment He stood single and alone. Could He have made such a change and brought about such a condition among these people without the sanction and assistance of a heavenly power? Could He have transformed a people from humiliation to glory without a holy and divine support?
None other than a divine power could have done this. Therein lies the proof of Prophethood because the mission of a Prophet is education of the human race such as this Personage accomplished, proving Him to be a mighty Prophet among the Prophets and His Book the very Book of God. This is a rational, direct and perfect proof. – ibid, p. 406.
Abdu’l-Baha took the audience through a short history of the Jewish people and their struggles, and then said “I now wish you to examine certain facts and statements which are worthy of consideration:”
During the time that the people of Israel were being tossed and afflicted by the conditions I have named, Jesus Christ appeared among them. Jesus of Nazareth was a Jew. He was single and unaided, alone and unique. He had no assistant. The Jews at once pronounced Him to be an enemy of Moses. They declared that He was the destroyer of the Mosaic laws and ordinances. Let us examine the facts as they are, investigate the truth and reality in order to arrive at a true opinion and conclusion. For a completely fair opinion upon this question we must lay aside all we have and investigate independently. This Personage, Jesus Christ, declared Moses to have been the Prophet of God and pronounced all the prophets of Israel as sent from God. He proclaimed the Torah the very Book of God, summoned all to conform to its precepts and follow its teachings… It is evident, then, that Christ was a friend of Moses, that He loved and believed in Moses; otherwise, He would not have commemorated His name and Prophethood. This is self-evident. Therefore, Christians and Jews should have the greatest love for each other because the Founders of these two great religions have been in perfect agreement in Book and teaching. Their followers should be likewise. – ibid, pp. 407-408.
Finally, Abdu’l-Baha asked his Jewish listeners to accept Christ and the subsequent prophets, as well. This caused quite a stir in the synagogue:
Today all Christians admit and believe that Moses was a Prophet of God. They declare that His Book was the Book of God, that the prophets of Israel were true and valid and that the people of Israel constituted the people of God. What harm has come from this? What harm could come from a statement by the Jews that Jesus was also a Manifestation of the Word of God? Have the Christians suffered for their belief in Moses? Have they experienced any loss of religious enthusiasm or witnessed any defeat in their religious belief by declaring that Moses was a Prophet of God, that the Torah was a Book of God and that all the prophets of Israel were prophets of God? It is evident that no loss comes from this. And now it is time for the Jews to declare that Christ was the Word of God, and then this enmity between two great religions will pass away. For two thousand years this enmity and religious prejudice have continued. Blood has been shed, ordeals have been suffered. These few words will remedy the difficulty and unite two great religions. What harm could follow this: that just as the Christians glorify and praise the name of Moses, likewise the Jews should commemorate the name of Christ, declare Him to be the Word of God and consider Him as one of the chosen Messengers of God? – ibid, p. 408.

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David Langness writes and edits for and is a journalist and literary critic for Paste Magazine. He and his wife Teresa live in the Sierra foothills in Northern California.