BAHA’I WORLD CENTRE — New features complementing the recently produced documentary film A Widening Embrace were made available online today.
Three short films highlight aspects of the community building endeavors of Baha’is and like-minded friends around the world. Totaling about 32 minutes, the new features cover three themes: nurturing younger generations, exploring the empowerment of junior youth, and communities learning to advance together.
A Widening Embrace, released in April on Bahai.org, tells the story of the transformation of communities unfolding throughout the world by featuring the process in 24 communities representing different realities and contexts. The 77-minute film and its new features were produced in an innovative way, drawing on footage recorded by local teams who documented the efforts of their own communities to effect constructive change.
SANA’A, Yemen — Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthi authorities have, in a court hearing Saturday, targeted some 20 Baha’is with a string of baseless charges. This action comes at a time when the leader of the Houthis has incited the population to violence against Baha’is and other religious minorities.
These absurd charges—which include espionage and apostasy—have been primarily leveled against individuals who hold administrative roles in the Baha’i community, but extend to other Yemeni Baha’is including a teenage girl.
Saturday’s hearing began with only the judge, the prosecutor, and other court officials present; neither the Baha’is being charged nor their lawyers were informed of the announcement. The next hearing is scheduled for 29 September in Sana’a, to which the judge has summoned those absent from the first court session.
“These charges are extremely alarming and mark a severe intensification of pressure at a time when the Baha’i community is already being threatened and the general humanitarian crisis in the country requires urgent attention,” said Bani Dugal, Principal Representative of the Baha’i International Community to the United Nations.
“We have every reason to be concerned about the safety of the Baha’i community in Yemen. We urge the international community to call upon the authorities in Sana’a to immediately drop these absurd, false, and baseless accusations against these innocent individuals, who have been maliciously charged simply because they have been practicing their Faith.”
The religiously motivated accusations by Houthi authorities in Yemen’s capital city, Sana’a, at Saturday’s court hearing come amid a systematic effort to oppress Yemeni Baha’is, including through hate speech, arrests, imprisonment, and a death sentence.
“We urge the international community to call upon the authorities in Sana’a to immediately drop these absurd, false, and baseless accusations…”
– Bani Dugal
“The manner in which the Houthis are targeting the Baha’i community in Yemen is eerily reminiscent of the persecution of Baha’is in Iran in the 1980s, during which the leaders of the Baha’i community were rounded up and killed,” Ms. Dugal added.
Within days of his speech, several Yemeni news sites reiterated these attacks, and a prominent Houthi writer and strategist commented on social media that “we will butcher every Baha’i”. Similar sentiments were expressed by religious authorities in Sana’a, including the Mufti of Yemen, Shams al-Din Muhammad Sharaf al-Din, who was educated in Iran and was appointed by the Houthis last year.
Currently, six Baha’is are imprisoned for their beliefs. Among them, Hamed bin Haydara, detained since 2013, was sentenced in January to public execution for his faith following a protracted and unjust trial. Abdu Ismail Hassan Rajeh, the same judge who presided over Mr. Haydara’s farcical case, is overseeing the trial of the recently charged Baha’is.
The Baha’i World News Service is publishing a series of podcasts about the 150th anniversary of Baha’u’llah’s arrival in the Holy Land. This article is the introduction to the third of the podcast episodes. Listen to part 1 in the series hereand part 2 here.
BAHA’I WORLD CENTRE — A century and a half ago, Baha’u’llah arrived in the Holy Land as a prisoner in the most harrowing of conditions. Despite His great suffering, He penned a series of extraordinary writings addressing the kings and rulers of His time.
Those historic works called upon humanity, through its leaders, to work for the building of a just world civilization founded on the oneness of humankind. He urged the rulers of His time to set aside their differences, establish a system of collective security and move toward disarmament, to champion the cause of justice, to show the utmost care and consideration for the well-being and rights of the poor, and to work toward a lasting peace. He praised the system of representative government and the abolishment of slavery.
The third and final podcast episode on the 150th anniversary of Baha’u’llah’s arrival in the Holy Land contains interviews that explore these historic messages. The vision in these works is relevant not only to the world of the 19th century and today, but far beyond this generation, foreseeing the reorganization and transformation of the entire planet and the emergence of a global civilization that is spiritually and materially coherent.
“It is remarkable how Baha’u’llah’s vision from 150 years ago addresses our current situation,” says Bani Dugal, Principal Representative of the Baha’i International Community, anticipating the gathering of world leaders next week in New York for the 73rd session of the United Nations General Assembly.
“The issues these leaders face today are formidable: peace and security, nuclear disarmament, climate change, the widening gap between the rich and the poor, human trafficking, migration, and the list goes on,” continues Ms. Dugal. “The need for international cooperation is greater now than ever.”
Baha’u’llah’s letters to the leaders of His time are translated into English and published in The Summons of the Lord of Hosts. The most momentous of these writings, according to Shoghi Effendi, is the Surih-i-Muluk, or Surih of Kings, revealed in Edirne, Turkey. In this tablet, Baha’u’llah addresses rulers of the East and West, religious leaders, philosophers, lawmakers, and more. He sets forth the character of His mission and the standards of justice that must govern the behavior of leaders. A uniquely powerful and visionary work, the Surih-i-Haykal, or Surih of the Temple, includes individual letters to five leaders: Pope Pius IX, Napoleon III of France, Russia’s Czar Alexander II, Queen Victoria, and Nasiri’d-Din Shah of Iran.
BAHA’I WORLD CENTRE — The sailboat drifted slowly across the bay under the brutal summer sun, delivering Baha’u’llah and His fellow prisoners to Akka. It was 31 August 1868, 150 years ago Friday.
Akka did not have proper landing facilities, so the boat stopped in the shallow waters outside the city. As the prisoners waded in the water to the sea gate, they encountered a hostile and jeering crowd.
Baha’u’llah was taken from the sea gate, through the city’s narrow and winding alleys, to the barracks, used at the time as a prison.
The Baha’i World News Service is publishing a series of podcasts about the 150th anniversary of Baha’u’llah’s arrival in the Holy Land. This brief article is the introduction to the first of the podcast episodes.
BAHA’I WORLD CENTRE — This week marks the 150th anniversary of the arrival of Baha’u’llah in the Holy Land, the last banishment in a series of exiles decreed by two monarchs. The Akka/Haifa area has since become the spiritual and administrative center of the Baha’i world, home to the community’s holiest sites.
“This exile was an act of oppression and injustice and persecution, but Baha’u’llah turned this act of oppression into a journey of humanity toward spirituality and freedom,” explains Nader Saiedi, Professor of Iranian Studies at University of California, Los Angeles. “This time becomes the main turning point in the mission of Baha’u’llah and, in a sense, a turning point in the cultural history of humanity.”
Baha’u’llah was banished from his homeland of Persia in 1853, initiating a series of exiles. The Persian and Ottoman governments thought that by sending Baha’u’llah to a far-off prison, they would extinguish the light of His religion.
On 12 August 1868, Ottoman troops surrounded Baha’u’llah’s house in Edirne, known at that time as Adrianople, and authorities told Him he was banished again. To where, they would not say. It was almost two weeks later, after Baha’u’llah and His companions had begun their journey, that they learned their destination: Akka, an ancient prison city in Ottoman Palestine, known also as Acre.
“Acre became for the Ottomans a place where, first of all, they had a prison for criminals, and then, a place for exile of all kinds of people who they thought should be watched over. The Baha’is were of that category,” explains Professor David Kushner, a historian who specializes in the Ottoman Empire.
Akka was a historic city that had passed through the hands of several civilizations and was once a prominent center in Ottoman Palestine. By 1868, however, the Ottomans used it as a prison colony, a desolate city where Baha’u’llah was sent to be forgotten.
Now, thousands of Baha’is visit the Akka/Haifa area every year for pilgrimage, an act of devotion to the life and teachings of Baha’u’llah.
The Huntsville Baha’i Community is pleased to host on Sunday August 19, 2018:
~Alicia Tyson, a PhD student examining the intersection between natural and social system resiliency and management of natural resources in Puerto Rico
~Amelia Tyson, a MFA candidate exploring, through film, constructive approaches to building collaborative relationships to address water resource management issues in Alabama.
JOIN US FOR A LIGHT BRUNCH AT 9:30 AM.
Brunch is provided, including vegetarian, gluten free, & dairy free friendly offerings.
PROGRAM BEGINS PROMPTLY AT 10AM.
Children’s activities are available.
The presentations and discussions will explore ways in which the Revelation of Baha’u’llah sheds light on the evolution of methodological approaches within two diverse professional arenas seeking to address and examine societal and community needs. As society looks to deal with ever greater challenges to its oneness, integration of the Teachings of the Bahá’í Faith to the very fabric of our daily professional and personal lives is needed like never before.
“Is not the object of every Revelation,” Bahá’u’lláh proclaims, “to effect a transformation in the whole character of mankind, a transformation that shall manifest itself, both outwardly and inwardly, that shall affect both its inner life and external conditions?”
BAHA’I WORLD CENTRE — During a conference at the Baha’i World Centre, groups of Continental Counsellors joined in conversations that were recorded by the Baha’i World News Service for a series of podcasts on community building, spiritual transformation, and social change.
“After we had the Temple,” Ms. Reth explains. “We could see that people gained more understanding of prayer, about the meaning of prayer, and the power of prayer. They feel that when they come as a whole family, it helps the family to become closer to each other and much more united.”
Also, Mark Sisson from the United States and Taraz Nadarajah from Australia discuss family life, community, and race. They draw especially on experiences in Sydney, Australia, and San Diego, United States. In their conversation, they explore both how social forces are effecting society and how Baha’i communities are learning about transcending those forces to build new patterns of community life based on the oneness of humankind.