‘Arise’ Video for the Baha’i Twin Holy Days

You are invited to watch and share ‘Arise’, a short choral piece composed specially for the Festival of the Twin Holy Days that commemorates the anniversaries of the Birth of Baha’u’llah and of The Bab. The words to ‘Arise’ are taken from a newly-translated Tablet of Baha’u’llah concerning the Birth of Baha’u’llah to be published in the forthcoming volume “Days of Remembrance.”

“O people of Bahá! Soar upon the wings of detachment into the atmosphere of the love of your Lord, the All-Merciful. Arise then to render Him victorious…” -Baha’u’llah

The video features the Shrine of  Baha’u’llah near Akka in Israel, the holiest spot on earth for Baha’is.

Vocals and composition: Elika Mahony

The song is available as a music gift download at: http://music.elikamahony.com/track/arise-com

‘Who is Baha’u’llah?’ Trailer: film to be used in schools across the United Kingdom

“200 years ago a Child was born in Iran.”

In honor of the bi-centennial year of the Birth of Baha’u’llah, the National Spiritual Assembly of the United Kingdom has commissioned a short film on the Personage of Baha’u’llah and His Teachings, that is to be used in schools across the country.

It is envisaged that this film will not only inform, but also inspire young people from a variety of diverse settings and backgrounds to examine their own lives and capacities for service to humanity.

The film will be available for the September 2017 term and the Religious Education Task Force is currently creating lesson plans and educational materials to accompany the film.

Watch the stunning teaser here:

Baha’is To Observe 200th Birthday of Baha’u’llah

The Baha’is of Huntsville are preparing to mark the 200th anniversary of the birth of Bahá’u’lláh, the Founder of the Bahá’í Faith, on October 22, 2017.

Bahá’u’lláh (1817-1892) was a spiritual teacher Who announced in 1863 that He was the bearer of a new revelation from God. His teachings have spread around the world, forming the basis of a process of social transformation and community building which is unique in its global scope and the diversity of participants.

The observance of 200th anniversary is a celebration of the transformative impact of Bahá’u’lláh’s teachings on the lives of families, neighborhoods and communities around the country and the world. Bahá’u’lláh’s vision of the oneness of humanity is an antidote to the racial prejudice and materialism that are corroding American society.

The build up to the observance is not a singular event but a series of activities that reinforce Bahá’u’lláh’s vision of the oneness of humanity and empower participants to contribute. Activities will include drama, music, art exhibits, storytelling, service projects, prayer and devotional programs.

At the national level, the Bahá’í House of Worship in Wilmette, IL will host a nine-week series of programs beginning in early September on themes applying the principle of the oneness of humanity to contemporary challenges, including environmental justice, race relations, indigenous peoples, human rights, and the harmony science and religion.

Who is Bahá’u’lláh?

Bahá’u’lláh (1817-1892), whose name means “The Glory of God,” is considered by millions around the world as the Divine Educator for this age, Whose coming was foretold by all of the Divine Messengers of the past. In His writings, Bahá’u’lláh outlines a framework for the development of a global civilization which takes into account both the spiritual and material dimensions of human life. His teachings, centered around the recognition of the oneness of humanity, offer a compelling vision of a future world united in justice, peace, and prosperity.

Bahá’u’lláh’s coming was heralded by the Báb (1819-1850), meaning “the Gate.” The Báb declared His Divine Mission in 1844, which is considered the beginning of the Bahá’í Era–a new cycle of human history and social evolution.

What did Bahá’u’lláh teach?

One God

Called by different names throughout the ages, the eternal God, the Creator of the universe, is limitless, all-knowing, all-powerful, and all-loving. God is one. The reality of God is beyond human understanding, though we may find expressions of God’s attributes in every created thing. “The peoples of the world, of whatever race or religion, derive their inspiration from one heavenly Source, and are the subjects of one God.” –Bahá’u’lláh

One Human Family

Beyond all differences of culture, class or ethnicity, regardless of differences in customs, opinions or temperaments, every individual is a member of one gloriously diverse human family. Each unique soul has a role to play in carrying forward an ever-advancing material and spiritual civilization. “Ye are the fruits of one tree, and the leaves of one branch. Deal ye one with another with the utmost love and harmony, with friendliness and fellowship…” –Bahá’u’lláh

One Unfolding Religion

Humanity’s spiritual, intellectual and moral capacities have been cultivated by the successive Founders of the world’s religions–the Manifestations of God—among them Abraham, Krishna, Zoroaster, Moses, Buddha, Jesus Christ, Muhammad, and most recently, the Báb and Bahá’u’lláh. Each religion originates from God and is suited to the age and place in which it is revealed. In essence, the religion of God is one and is progressively unfolding. “This is the changeless Faith of God, eternal in the past, eternal in the future.”–Bahá’u’lláh

Origins

The Bahá’í Faith originated in Iran in the mid-19th century. In less than 200 years it has become a universal faith present in every country in the world with adherents from virtually every national, ethnic, religious and tribal background.

A Movement of Personal and Social Transformation

The international Bahá’í community, numbering more than five million, is quite possibly the most diverse organized body of people on the planet.  United by their belief in Bahá’u’lláh, and inspired by His teachings, members strive to live out the twofold moral purpose of transforming their own characters while simultaneously contributing to the advancement of society. Bahá’u’lláh taught that religion is a cohesive force in society and a system of knowledge that has, together with science, propelled the advancement of civilizations

Sacred Writings

The writings of the Báb and Bahá’u’lláh are considered by Bahá’ís to have been revealed by God. As the creative Word of God, these sacred writings have the power to touch the deepest recesses of our hearts and transform us and the world around us. The Bahá’í writings address the needs of the age and offer inspiration for individuals working to better themselves and their communities. Bahá’u’lláh enjoined His followers to read daily from the Sacred Texts, “Immerse yourselves in the ocean of My words, that ye may unravel its secrets, and discover all the pearls of wisdom that lie hid in its depths.”

Worship

Bahá’ís consider work done in the spirit of service to humanity as the highest form of worship. Prayer, offered both in private and in the company of others, is regarded as essential spiritual nourishment, providing inspiration for positive personal and social change. Individuals pray daily and observe an annual period of fasting.The Bahá’í Faith has no clergy or sacraments, and has very simple practices for life transitions such as marriage and funerals.

Administration

The affairs of the Bahá’í community are administered, without clergy, through institutions established by Bahá’u’lláh to foster universal participation and to diffuse knowledge, love, and unity. This administrative order includes both elected and appointed institutions at local, national, and international levels. Non-partisan elections and collective decision-making are hallmarks of Bahá’í administration. These and other principles constitute a model of just and unified global governance.

For more information, write: hsvlsa9@gmail.com

Forced migration calls for faith in action

MADRID — In a stirring display of solidarity and good will, some 300 representatives of religious communities and civil society organizations gathered for a conference in Madrid on an issue of acute concern—forced migration. The event was held at the Iglesia de Jesus Church in Madrid on 20 June 2017, the International Day for Refugees.

A poignant presentation by Reuters photographer Juan Medina captured the urgency of the refugee issue in Europe through a collection of his photographs and a videodocumenting the journey of refugees into Europe.

“It’s important to show these images, however shocking, time and again—as many times as necessary,” said Mr. Medina. “Some say you can become desensitized by so many pictures of suffering, and they will have less of an effect. I think it’s important to tell their story, and remember the sufferings of those who had to leave their country.”

“These photos show the harsh reality of what it means to be an immigrant. There is a sharp contrast between the exhausted refugees that are swept in by the shore, struggling to remain alive and locals strolling along the beach.”

In 2015, the Spanish government pledged to the European Union to receive over 17,000 refugees. To date, 1,200 have arrived, prompting a growing discussion in the country.

In recent years, the Baha’i community in Spain has recognized the necessity for a more substantial and profound dialogue on migration and the implications of having greater awareness of the issue. Its efforts have rested on the conviction that religion has a critical role to play in cultivating a common sense of humanity as well as in mobilizing communities to contribute to social harmony and peace.

The gathering was enriched with artistic presentations, including a performance of indigenous music from Latin America.

Together with a group of other civil society and faith-based organizations, the Baha’i community of Spain convened the recent conference, where diverse participants shared their experiences and renewed their commitment to take action in welcoming and supporting refugees. The event was also a forum through which participants sought to speak to the conscience of their people and kindle the light of compassion in Spanish society.

“The purpose of this event is to underline the important role religious communities are playing in the reception and integration of refugees into their own communities and to give voice to the varied experiences and knowledge acquired through their contributions to society,” said Leila Sant Massarat, who chaired the gathering and represented the Baha’i community of Spain.

“Regardless of the language we speak, our skin tone or place of birth, we are all human beings and share the same primary identity.”

The conference highlighted the efforts of various faith-based groups in Spain to play a constructive role with the rising number of refugees arriving into the country. The representative from the Sant’Egidio community, a Christian organization, described an initiative taken by his community to encourage kindness and understanding by reading the names of all the newly arrived refugees. “We can sometimes forget that refugees have an identity and a name,” he said.

Director of Public Affairs for the Baha’i community of Spain, Sergio Garcia, noted other contributions of the various faith groups in support of refugees, citing, for example, an initiative of the Muslim community to ensure that food was prepared and available for families in need and the experience of a Jewish group assisting youth in a refugee camp.

“There was a real spirit of solidarity among participants,” said Dr. Garcia. “It was striking how harmoniously these different groups consulted and operated.”

Reflecting the unified spirit that emerged from the gathering, the conference ended with a meal at dusk for everyone to share on the occasion of Ramadan.

Design of Vanuatu Temple unveiled

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The roof of the Temple will be made of reeds and sugar cane leaves, and the walls will be created using stakes and plaited reeds.

TANNA, Vanuatu — In a momentous development for the island of Tanna in Vanuatu, the design for the local Baha’i House of Worship has been unveiled.

The design is captivating in its simple yet striking form, inspired by the coconut and banyan trees of the island and the natural forms of the landscape.

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An interior view of the Temple, which will seat 300 people.

“This structure will be the embodiment of serenity and represent the archipelago’s history and culture,” said Ashkan Mostaghim, the Temple’s architect.

Double-sided roofs made of reeds and sugar-cane leaves rise to a central point, making the Temple appear as a nine-pointed star. The walls of the House of Worship are designed to be created using stakes and plaited reeds, drawing on local architecture of the region.

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The joyful celebration for the unveiling of the design of the local House of Worship included children, youth, and adults.

“The interior space is defined by light,” said Mr. Mostaghim. Throughout the day, light will stream through the open screens and delicate glass oculus. The Temple has space for 300 visitors and a choir to be present—both for community devotions and private meditation and prayer in a space of serenity.

A jubilant celebration in Tanna on 18 June 2017 marked the unveiling of the Temple’s design. The program included readings from different sacred texts, signifying that the Temple is open to all.

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The celebration included prayers and song.

The House of Worship will enhance the vibrant community life on Tanna. A sense of collective ownership of the Temple, even before its design had been unveiled, was already present in the consciousness of the island’s inhabitants. In the early stages of the design process, numerous people from the island, including chiefs and other tribal leaders, submitted ideas for the structure of the central edifice and gathered for meetings to discuss its purpose and implications for their society.

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The jubilant celebration in Tanna included readings from different sacred texts, signifying that the Temple is open to all.

“The design of the House of Worship in Tanna has been inspired by the Baha’i writings, and we have endeavored to portray its principles in the structure,” said the architect. The Temple will uniquely symbolize the unity of all people and the integral connection of worship of God and service to humanity.

African leaders tackle environmental goals

LIBREVILLE, Gabon — When addressing issues of climate change, we need to adopt a holistic perspective, said the Baha’i International Community at a recent meeting on the environment that convened leaders in Africa.

“We have to look at the spiritual and material dimensions. How do we live with nature harmoniously?” asked Solomon Belay, Representative of the BIC Office in Addis Ababa. “We need a coherent view of environmental issues and a plan based on that.”

The meeting in Gabon from 10–11 June 2017 brought together around 45 representatives from United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP), the PanAfrican Climate Justice Alliance, African Union Commission, the African Ministerial Conference on the Environment (AMCEN), and the Pan-African Parliamentarian’s Network on Climate Change, among others.

The BIC has been engaged in a conversation with UNEP about the contribution faith-based organizations can make to the UN’s environmental goals, and this month’s meeting was an opportunity for African leaders to build consensus around environmental issues in preparation for the third meeting of the UN Environmental Assembly at the end of the year.

Participants at the seminar in Gabon discussed innovative environmental solutions that would accelerate the implementation of the UN’s sustainable development goals in Africa. While this meeting signals yet another advance in efforts to protect the environment, the conversation on the environment still remains relatively fragmented, said Dr. Belay.

The Regional Consultation meeting for Africa Major Groups and Stakeholders from 10-11 June 2017 in Libreville, Gabon. BIC Representative Solomon Belay is sitting 3rd from the left.

“The spiritual dimension is almost completely missing,” he commented.

At the meeting, the BIC Office shared its statement, “Shared Vision, Shared Volition: Choosing Our Global Future Together,” which was originally prepared for COP21, the UN Conference on Climate Change, in December 2015.

“Our relationship with nature should be examined at all levels,” said Dr. Belay, drawing attention to portions of the statement that call to individuals, institutions in society, and the community as a whole to embrace responsibility for change.

“Establishing sustainable patterns of individual and collective life will require not only new technologies, but also a new consciousness in human beings, including a new conception of ourselves and our place in the world,” the statement reads.

Following June’s meeting in Gabon, there are plans to hold another gathering with a greater emphasis on the contribution of faith-based organizations to environmental issues.