Decade of unjust imprisonment ends for Mahvash Sabet

SabetBIC NEW YORK — After enduring ten years of unjust imprisonment and harsh treatment, Mahvash Sabet’s sentence has come to an end. She is one of the seven members of the former leadership group of the Baha’is in Iran known as the Yaran, who were jailed on false and baseless charges.

During her confinement in Iran’s notorious Evin and Raja’i Shahr prisons, Mrs. Sabet distinguished herself by the loving care and kindness she extended to her fellow prisoners. Journalist Roxana Saberi, who shared a cell in Evin with Mrs. Sabet and fellow Yaran member Fariba Kamalabadi, has written about how their compassion touched the lives of other inmates, as well as a touching recollection of how they cared for her during her hunger strike.

While in prison, Mrs. Sabet, a former teacher and school principal who also worked with the National Literacy Committee of Iran, found solace in writing poetry. Her remarkable compositions were collected and adapted into English, published in a volume entitled Prison Poems in 2013 that was widely praised for its literary quality and profound subject matter.

As has occurred with prisoners of conscience, writers, thought-leaders, and poets who have been wrongly imprisoned throughout history, the power of Mrs. Sabet’s ideas and beliefs was only amplified by her persecution.

The plight of its author attracted attention to this deeply moving collection of poetry, inspiring PEN International to feature Mrs. Sabet in a campaign to defend persecuted writers. Her poems also inspired a musical composition by award-winning composer Lasse Thoresen, performed at an international music festival in Oslo earlier this year.

Mrs. Sabet, now 64 years old, was arrested in March 2008. The six other members of the Yaran were imprisoned in May of the same year. All seven members were held without communication with the outside for weeks, were subjected to solitary confinement, and suffered appalling treatment and deprivations, including psychological and physical hardships.

“Although Mrs. Sabet is being freed from prison, she will still not achieve full freedom,” said Bani Dugal, the Principal Representative of the Baha’i International Community to the United Nations in New York. “She will return to a society where Baha’i youth are deprived of access to higher education and public jobs, where attacks on small Baha’i-owned shops are increasing, cemeteries are being desecrated, Baha’is are vilified in state sponsored media on a daily basis and where they are arbitrarily arrested and imprisoned for their beliefs.”

The other imprisoned members of the Yaran are also expected to complete their sentences in the coming months. They include Mrs. Fariba Kamalabadi, 55; Mr. Jamalodin Khanjani, 83; Mr. Afif Naeimi, 55; Mr. Saeid Rezai, 59; Mr. Behrooz Tavakkoli, 65; and Mr. Vahid Tizfahm, 43.

“We hope that their release will start a new chapter for the treatment of the Baha’is in Iran and that the government will begin to remove the obstacles in its way to abide by the promise it has made of ‘creating justice for all Iranians equally,'” said Ms. Dugal.

Join us for prayers, and a study of The Advent of Divine Justice

Join us tomorrow, Sept. 17, 11 a.m. at the Baha’i Center , 3209 Pulaski Pike, Huntsville, for prayers, and then stay as we begin a study of an important literally masterpiece from the Baha’i Writings, The Advent of Divine Justice.
Members of all faith traditions are welcome to the devotions, AND for the study sessions!
Study of The Advent of Divine Justice is considered a priority of every Bahá’í. Composed in 1938,  it is one of most important of the Bahá’í writings to understand. It is addressed to the Bahá’ís of the United States and Canada, whose community it extols as the “chief remaining citadel” of the Faith. Much of the book addresses the “faults, habits, and tendencies which they have inherited from their own nation” that they must “weed” out, and addresses the “distinctive qualities and characteristics” of the Faith they must “patiently and prayerfully” cultivate. The study sessions identify the “most vital and challenging issue confronting the Bahá’í community,” defines a “chaste and holy life,” and delineates the “spiritual prerequisites of success” in teaching. The themes are especially addressed to the Bahá’í youth and places all the actions of the American Bahá’ís in the context of the destiny of America. Understanding and living by the standards set in The Advent of Divine Justice are fundamental to building an inclusive community based on virtue and holiness and to fostering the process leading to entry by troops.”

The study material is available here

 

Leaders continue to honor bicentenary

BAHA’I WORLD CENTRE — Tributes in honor of the bicentenary of the birth of Bahá’u’lláh from local and national leaders from diverse parts of the world continue to be received by Bahá’í communities, most recently from Australasia, Central Asia, and South America.

Australian Prime MinisterIn New Zealand, Prime Minister Bill English has addressed a message to the Bahá’í community of his country. New Zealand Message“Many in New Zealand and around the world will be celebrating this very special anniversary, and I hope you enjoy the festivities with your family and friends,” he states in his letter.

Earlier in the year, in his message to the Bahá’í community of Australia on the occasion of Ridvan, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull wrote an uplifting tribute, acknowledging this special bicentenary year.

“Australia’s Bahá’ís are a community of warmth and welcome; a community of music and charity; a community that rejoices in its identity and yet extends its counsel of respect and equality to all,” wrote Prime Minister Turnbull in April. “We are truly citizens of the world and our shared commitment to friendship, inclusion and harmony is what lies at the heart of our success.”

In Kazakhstan, the Deputy Minister for Religious Affairs and Civil Society, Berik Aryn, addressed a letter to the Bahá’í community there, writing:Kazak Message

“We hope that the followers of the Bahá’í Faith will, through their spiritual service, promote the further consolidation of the strong relationship between government entities and religious groups, as well as between the different faith groups in Kazakhstan.”

In Argentina, a number of local and regional officials in the province of Santa Fe have sent video greetings to the Universal House of Justice and to the city of Haifa.

Other gestures from officials in Rosario, Argentina, have included a number of municipal and provincial decrees, radio interviews, a flag-raising celebration, and messages of greeting.

The bicentenary of the birth of Bahá’u’lláh will be observed by the Huntsville Bahá’í community Saturday evening, Oct. 21, 2017.

Nations and governments join in honoring bicentenary anniversary

As the two hundred year anniversary of Bahá’u’lláh‘s birth approaches on October 21, leaders around the world from the international to local level are honoring the momentous occasion with special tributes.

SingaporeRecently, Singapore’s Prime Minister, Lee Hsien Loong, addressed a message to the Bahá’í  community of his country:

“Bahá’u’lláh’s teachings of unity and peace are cherished values in our multi-racial and multi-religious society,” stated the message, dated 31 July 2017. “I am heartened that the Bahá’í  community is active in inter-faith engagements, and continues to promote understanding, dialogue and interaction among people from different religions.”

“Your efforts will go a long way in enhancing mutual respect in a multi-faith society and strengthening Singapore’s social harmony,” it continues.

The Prime Minister’s tribute is among a number that have already been received by Bahá’í communities around the world. In Vietnam, in honor of the upcoming bicentenary celebrations, senior government officials, including Vice President of the Vietnam Fatherland Front Central Committee, met with representatives of the Bahá’í community and expressed appreciation for the community’s contributions towards the country’s development through activities that are improving living conditions and promoting education.

Germany

The Government of Germany issued a stamp in honor of Bahá’u’lláh’s  200th birthday anniversary.

Since the message from the President of India earlier this year, similar tributes have now been received from the Vice President and several other high-ranking members of the national government, as well as the Chief Minister of one of the states of India and other officials.

At the local level, the City Council of Rosario, Argentina, passed a government resolution honoring the bicentenary anniversary and recognizing Haifa as its sister city. In the United States, the city governments across the nation have or will be passing proclamations and resolutions calling attention to the Bicentenary, urging its citizens to work for the realization of peace, justice, and solidarity, and calling to mind the service by the Bahá’ís in local communities in honor of the birth of Bahá’u’lláh.

New edition of The Baha’is published this month

The Baha'isBAHA’I WORLD CENTRE — A new edition of The Baha’is publication, with entirely new content and vibrant imagery and design, is scheduled to be released on 14 September 2017.

The Baha’is offers a survey of the teachings and history of the Baha’i Faith as well as the efforts of the Baha’i community to contribute to the advancement of society.

Prepared in this special year of the 200th anniversary of Baha’u’llah’s birth, which will be commemorated in thousands of localities throughout the world next month, magazine 1the publication provides a glimpse into the extraordinary life and vision of Baha’u’llah and the influence of His message on the hearts and minds of countless people.

contentsThe Baha’is covers a number of themes including the oneness of humankind, universal peace, the harmony of science and religion, Baha’i endeavors in social and economic development, and the administrative system of the Baha’i Faith.

One of the most critical themes it explores is the role of religion in the contemporary world. “Religion has experienced a resurgence as a social force of global importance,” reads the opening article.

magazine 3“Religion today cannot be exactly what it was in a previous era. Much of what is regarded as religion in the contemporary world must, Baha’is believe, be re-examined in light of the fundamental truths Baha’u’llah has posited: the oneness of God, the oneness of religion, and the oneness of the human family.”

The Baha’is has long been a popular introductory work for people interested in learning more about the Baha’i teachings and the activities of the Baha’i community. The first edition was published in 1992, and a subsequent version was released in 2005.

Copies of The Baha’is can be ordered online at the U.S. Baha’i Distribution Service website.

New Pilgrim Reception Centre opens in Haifa

1188_01BAHA’I WORLD CENTRE, Haifa, Israel — A new Pilgrim Reception Centre has been opened, ready to receive a growing number of pilgrims and visitors at the spiritual and administrative center of the Baha’i Faith.

The three-story stone structure, located immediately to the west of the Shrine of the Bab, will receive the season’s first pilgrim group in October, on the occasion of the 200th anniversary of the birth of Baha’u’llah.

The new Reception Centre makes it possible for several hundred pilgrims to visit the imagesBaha’i World Centre at the same time, expanding the previous capacity.

Every year, several thousand pilgrims and visitors from every corner of the world visit the Baha’i World Centre to pray and meditate at the Shrines of Baha’u’llah and the Bab and the surrounding gardens. Pilgrims are spiritually uplifted and draw inspiration from the time they also spend at historical sites associated with the lives of the central figures of the Faith, as well as visiting the edifices dedicated to its worldwide administration.

1188_06Pilgrims represent the “life-blood” of the centre of their faith—like blood flowing to the heart, pilgrims journey here, bringing with them news of their Baha’i communities at home, and they return to their homes taking back joy, inspiration, and insights.

The first Baha’i pilgrim house in Haifa was built in 1909. For more than a century, several different locations around the city have received the thousands of visitors who have come to undertake pilgrimage to the holiest sites on earth for Baha’is.

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Sacred symbol raised in Cambodia Temple

Symbol.jpgBATTAMBANG, Cambodia — The sacred Baha’i symbol representing the connection between God, His Manifestations, and mankind was raised within the local Baha’i House of Worship in Battambang, Cambodia on Sunday, and installed at the apex of its dome.

The placement of the Greatest Name symbol marks an important milestone. The symbol is a calligraphic rendering of the word “Baha,” meaning glory. The vertical line represents the Holy Spirit proceeding from God through His Manifestations to humanity, and the twin stars represent the Bab and Baha’u’llah.

Representatives and members of the Baha’i community gathered for a small ceremony on Sunday in a spirit of reverence and prayer as the sacred symbol was lifted 11.8 meters above the ground to the apex of the Temple’s dome. After it was affixed in place, everyone at the Temple gathered for devotions.symbol 2.jpg

In the coming days, a small ornamental case, originally purchased by Shoghi Effendi and containing dust from the inner sanctuary of the Shrine of Baha’u’llah, will be placed within the structure of the House of Worship. It will symbolize the profound spiritual connection between the Temple and the center of the Baha’i Faith.

For the global Baha’i community, this first local House of Worship signals a new stage of development. The Temple will be inaugurated on 1 September 2017.