Baha’i Faith on Climate Change

Please join us tomorrow, April 23, 2017, 11 a.m. for a special devotional on
Climate Change.

The devotional is part of the local response to the National Spiritual Assembly’s encouragement of the 2017 “Faith in Action on Climate Change”, the national Interfaith Power and Light effort to educate religious groups on this subject.

Ominous wave of Yemen arrests raises alarm

Yemen-Baha'is

A group of Baha’is in Yemen including Mr. Walid Ayyash (far-left) and Mr. Kaiwan Qaderi (far-right), who are presently detained by the authorities in Yemen.

NEW YORK — Orders for the arrest of at least 25 Baha’is have been issued by certain authorities in Sana’a who are harassing the Yemeni Baha’is and pressuring them to recant their faith.

The baseless and nonsensical accusations levelled against the Baha’is include showing kindness and displaying rectitude of conduct in order to attract people to their Faith. These accusations bear a striking resemblance to those encountered by the Baha’is in Iran, and in fact, reports indicate the influence of Iranian authorities behind incidents transpiring in Yemen.

Recent events constitute disturbing developments in a series of assaults heaped upon the Yemeni Baha’i community. These include the 2013 arrest and ongoing court case of Mr. Hamed bin Haydara, as well as the mass arrest of over 60 participants, half of whom were Baha’is, at an educational gathering in 2016. Mr. Kaiwan Qaderi, who was among those arrested, was detained for over eight months. Just weeks ago, an employee of the Red Cross who is a Baha’i was arrested on 5 April in Sana’a simply because of his faith.

“We call upon the international community to unitedly denounce these alarming and ominous actions undertaken by specific authorities in Yemen, including the National Security and the Prosecutor’s Office and demand that they stop this recent wave of arrests and release the Baha’is in prison, who are in grave danger,” said Bani Dugal, principal representative of the Baha’i International Community to the United Nations.

“Let us not,” was her strong plea, “stand by and allow a case of tyranny and injustice against a religious community to unfold.”

Mr. Badi’u’llah Sana’i, a prominent civil engineer in Sana’a Yemen, recently arrested for being a Baha’i.

Immediately preceding the call for their arrest, on Monday 17 April, dozens of Baha’is received telephone calls between 10:30 p.m. and midnight and were told that they should appear in court the following morning. Aware of recent efforts to persecute the Baha’is and given that no official court order had been presented to them, the Baha’is agreed to send several lawyers in their stead.

However, one Baha’i, Mr. Badi’u’llah Sana’i, a prominent civil engineer in Yemen followed the advice given to him at his workplace and appeared at court on 18 April. He was immediately arrested, confirming the suspicion that the request for Baha’is to appear at court was a ploy for their arrest.

On 19 April, two additional Baha’is, including Mr. Walid Ayyash, a member of a prominent Yemeni tribe, were arrested by authorities as they were driving from the city of Ibb on route to Hudaydah. Their whereabouts are presently unknown and concerns are mounting as to their safety.

Many Baha’i families in Sana’a had to leave their homes in order to avoid being unjustly detained, including Mr. Haydara’s wife, who has been fighting for his release for over three years while caring for their three daughters and is now herself on the list of those to be arrested.

During a turbulent period of civil conflict in Yemen in recent years, the members of the Baha’i community there have refused to side with one group or another and have instead endeavored to serve all people, placing particular emphasis on a youthful generation eager to dedicate its energies to the regeneration of their society.

Many Yemeni leaders from various factions have already expressed sympathy with the Baha’i community. Even amongst the Houthi authorities in Sana’a within whose jurisdiction these persecutions are taking place, some key figures, including a minister, have expressed dissatisfaction with the continuous persecution of the Baha’is, and some have even condemned these recent attacks through social media.

“We are confident in the support of many more fair-minded people of Yemen of whatever group or strata, who surely agree that the Baha’i community should be permitted to live alongside others and contribute to the betterment of their society, especially during such a difficult time for their country,” said Ms. Dugal.

Election of a new Local Spiritual Assembly

The Baha’i Community of Huntsville joined in a prayerful and confident atmosphere last evening and took part in a precious and sacred duty in electing the Local Spiritual Assembly of Huntsville.

The new Assembly members are:
Mona Foroughi
Navid Foroughi
Diana Foroughi
Maria Mock
Helen Keniston Oney
Rosana Tyson
Tim Tyson
Carolyn Wolfe
Nathan Wolfe

The Assembly is charged with administering the affairs of the local Baha’i Community

Join Us For Our Ridvan Celebration!

In 18Exile route63, exactly 31 days after the celebration of New Year (Naw-Ruz), Bahá’u’lláh set forth on the first stage of what would be a four-month journey from Baghdad to Constantinople after being exiled by the governing officials of the city. Bahá’u’lláh left His house and was ferried across the Tigris River before reaching the Najibiyyih Garden, where He would spend the next 12 days farewelling friends and followers before His final departure from Baghdad.
Although the occasion of Baha’u’llah’s departure was one of sorrow, He fore-tellingly declared it the inauguration of a festival of supreme felicity and joy.
******
Please join our celebration of Ridván on Thursday, April 20th at 3:00pm. After our Holy Day program, we will enjoy light refreshments together.
“Rejoice with exceeding gladness, O people of Baha, as ye call to remembrance the Day of supreme felicity, the Day whereon the Tongue of the Ancient of Days hath spoken, as He departed from His House, proceeding to the Spot from which He shed upon the whole of creation the splendors of His name, the All-Merciful.”
Bahá’u’lláh, “Gleanings From the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh”, p.35

Bahá’ís “Spring” Into Action

Members of the Huntsville Bahá’í Community will take part in an annual ‘rite of Spring’, April 19, 7 p.m., at the Bahá’í Center for their annual meeting and election of the Local Spiritual Assembly.

In each locale around the globe where there are nine or more adult Bahá’ís, a Local Spiritual Assembly is elected to administer the affairs of the local Bahá’í community.  Huntsville has had an elected Bahá’í assembly each year since the 1950’s.

“… consider without the least trace of passion and prejudice, and irrespective of any material consideration, the names of only those who can best combine the necessary qualities of unquestioned loyalty, of selfless devotion, of a well-trained mind, of recognized ability and mature experience.” – Bahá’í Writings

Each April, just before the Bahá’í Festival of Ridvan, the local community meets to hear an annual report from the Assembly, consult on items of interest to the community, and elect the nine members of the Assembly.  The elections are unique in that there is no campaigning, no electioneering or nominating. The ballots are cast privately and there are provisions for absentee balloting.

“One’s vote should be kept confidential. … The friends must avoid the evil methods and detestable practices of the politicians. They must turn completely to God, and with a purity of motive, a freedom of spirit and a sanctity of heart, participate in the elections; otherwise the outcome will be chaos and confusion, serious difficulties will ensue, mischief will abound and the confirmation of God will be cut off.” – Bahá’í Writings

The responsibilities of the Local Spiritual Assembly include promoting the spiritual education of children and young people, strengthening the spiritual and social fabric of Bahá’í community life, assessing and utilizing the community’s resources, and ensuring that the energies and talents of community members contribute towards progress. It is also responsible for organizing the Nineteen Day Feast, which is the cornerstone of Bahá’í community life. During the Nineteen Day Feast the friends living in a particular locality gather to pray and consult together, give suggestions to the Local Spiritual Assembly, and receive information from it. In addition, the Assembly is intimately concerned with the well-being of the wider community.

For more information of the Local Spiritual Assembly can be found here.

Gender equality essential for progress

The Baha’i International Community has released a new statement on the advancement of women and the vital relationship between gender equality and true prosperity.

The document was published in preparation for the Commission on the Status of Women to be held at the United Nations next week. The Commission is the UN’s principal annual global forum for the promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of women. It promotes women’s rights and shapes global standards for equality.

The BIC’s statement, “Toward Prosperity: The Role of Women and Men in Building a Flourishing World Civilization”, connects the equality of women and men with the advancement of society in general.

The statement explores a holistic conception of progress, calling for a vision beyond mere economic prosperity. The advancement of women must entail more than economic empowerment, argues the BIC. Women play a pivotal role in social transformation for a more just, peaceful, and equitable world when they are able to meaningfully participate in every sphere of life.

Although there have been substantial strides in gender equality over the decades, far more remains to be accomplished, states the BIC. Access to education and other important areas have greatly increased; however, systematic and structural injustice continues to suppress women’s potential and serves as a major obstacle to progress.

“Until these inequalities are thoroughly uprooted from the fabric of society, humanity will remain mired in the conflict, despair, confusion, and imbalance that have come to define much of modern life,” reads the statement.

Yet the publication describes the path towards prosperity, despite its many obstacles, as paved with hope.

The statement “Toward Prosperity: The Role of Women and Men in Building a Flourishing World Civilization” can be found here.

Construction progresses on Cambodia Temple

BATTAMBANG, Cambodia — Excitement is stirring in Battambang as anticipation builds for the completion of the first local Baha’i House of Worship in this Southeast Asia country. Scores upon scores of inhabitants in the region have been galvanized to offer service to their communities, as well as at the Temple site, where hundreds of shrubs and flowers have been planted since the initiation of this historic endeavor.

Additionally, construction of the central edifice and surrounding buildings has advanced rapidly, and recent aerial video footage captures the beauty of the emerging structure and the surrounding land.

You can see a virtual tour of the House of Worship here.

Some of the most notable recent developments include the completion of a number of auxiliary buildings on the land and the erection of the steel roof structure for the main edifice, which is soon to be followed by cladding and glazing of the roof.