A Father's Dream

Mirza Abbas Buzurg, Bahá’u’lláh’s father, was a prominent minister of the Persian government. In 1817, in the ancient city of…

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To the Rulers of Society: the Summons of the Lord of Hosts

kings and rulers napoleon III and bismark

A number of articles have already noted that Bahá’u’lláh wrote to the rulers of society.  For example, the Suriy-i-Haykal – the Tablet of the Temple; articles such as the article on justice; Against Persecution of Minorities, and the Sultan’s Puppet Show.  Many of these letters are collected in a book entitled The Summons of the Lord of Hosts. There are…

The Resignation of Captain von Goumoens

captain von goumoens

When the Austrian Captain Alfred von Goumoens obtained a posting as a military attache to Persia. It was the kind of appointment that is the making of a career and the height of adventure. The country was thought of by Europeans as “oriental” and far away. It was a time when European military technology and know-how was in demand in…

Bahá’u’lláh: Against Persecution of Minorities

persecution of Jewish women during world war II

In the world as we know it today – and through much of historical time – to be identified by a society as a member of a minority is to be vulnerable. Repeatedly in history we see terrible outbreaks of persecution, violence and oppression against minorities. No part of the world and no culture is exempt. Of course such persecution…

A Father’s Dream

fish

Mirza Abbas Buzurg, Bahá’u’lláh’s father, was a prominent minister of the Persian government. In 1817, in the ancient city of Tehran, his wife Khadijah Khanum gave birth to Bahá’u’lláh; their third child. One night, when Bahá’u’lláh was still a child, night Mirza Buzurg had a dream. In the dream he saw his son in an ocean – a vast ocean…

Beyond Congregational Prayer – O God My God My Beloved My Heart’s Desire

ridvan garden

We are so used to the idea that a religious leader stands in front of a congregation delivering a sermon or carrying out religious rituals, that it is difficult to imagine what religion might be without these things. As we have seen previously, Bahá’u’lláh abolishes all forms of clergy in the Baha’i Faith.  Among the reforms Bahá’u’lláh introduces is the…

The Secret Mission of Sulayman Khan

sulayman khan - gates of tabriz

The terrible news that the Bab was to be executed in Tabriz had reached Bahá’u’lláh in Tehran. He knew just the man for a daring mission to rescue the Bab: Sulayman Khan. Courageous and strong and himself a leading native of Tabriz, if anyone could rescue the Bab, it would be Sulayman Khan. Doors would open to him that would…

Sacrifice

sacrifice

The concept of sacrifice is integral to religion. Like other religious concepts it has undergone transformation over the ages. The concept of sacrifice was integrally connected with religious ritual.  For example, animal sacrifices were widespread in ancient times. The practice gave way in Judaism (after destruction of the Temple) and in Christianity and other faiths to new ritual practices. For…

Healing

healing

Healing has a deep connection with the work of the messengers of God. We may, for example, think of the many stories and parables of healing that are recounted in the Gospels. However, while the healing of the individual – physical or spiritual – can be involved, it goes far beyond that. The individual can only truly be whole and…

Trees of Meaning

trees

Trees are a recurring metaphor in Bahá’u’lláh’s writings and the Baha’i writings more generally. Here are a few examples. Trees are a metaphor for transformation of the human heart. Incline your hearts, O people of God, unto the counsels of your true, your incomparable Friend. The Word of God may be likened unto a sapling, whose roots have been implanted…

Effie Baker – Photographer of the Birth of a World Faith

effie baker

What if photography had existed 2000 years ago and St Paul or St Peter had commissioned a woman to travel to Palestine to compile a photographic archive of all the sites associated with the birth of Christianity?  What would our understanding of Jesus be like? In the 1930’s, a task very like this fell to a diminutive Australian woman: Effie…

The Fire Tablet

fire tablet

The Fire Tablet, written by Bahá’u’lláh, begins as a lament. Its name is echoed in its opening verses: … the hearts of the sincere are consumed in the fire of separation: Where is the gleaming of the light of Thy Countenance, O Beloved of the worlds? The Fire Tablet was written towards the end of 1871 when Bahá’u’lláh and his…

The Execution of the Bab

execution of the Bab

The Bab was in a cell in the barracks of Tabriz. He had already been condemned to death by the Amir Kabir, Persia’s highest official. The death sentence was sanctioned by the religious authority of high clergy. Now it just remained for the sentence to be carried out. Although death approached, the Bab was dictating a letter to one of…