Thursday, February 26, 2009

A Unifying Thought

As members of the U.S. Congress deal with budget issues (while well aware that the Nation suffers from a bad economy), it becomes clear that members of the Congress and the public hold many diverse views. In order to reach a decision, the Congress needs to create some sort of unity out of the diversity of options.

Here is what Abdu'l-Baha has said about unity and diversity:

"Thus should it be among the children of men! The diversity in the human family should be the cause of love and harmony, as it is in music where many different notes blend together in the making of a perfect chord. If you meet those of different race and colour from yourself, do not mistrust them and withdraw yourself into your shell of conventionality, but rather be glad and show them kindness. Think of them as different coloured roses growing in the beautiful garden of humanity, and rejoice to be among them." (Abdu'l-Baha, Paris Talks, p. 53)

Monday, February 23, 2009

Prayerful Thoughts

Last week, CNN posted online an article titled "Religious leaders face spying charges in iran." It was about the seven Baha'is who have been imprisoned for more than a year, simply because they have sought to provide Iranian Baha'is with guidance concerning Baha'i ceremonies, such as weddings and funerals.

Earlier I posted a prayer for persecuted Baha'is, a prayer written by Abdu'l-Baha. Today I am going to post part of a prayer written by Baha'u'llah, Abdu'l-Baha's father. Here is the prayer:

"Help them through Thy strengthening grace, I beseech Thee, O my God, to suffer patiently in their love for Thee, and unveil to their eyes what Thou hast decreed for them behind the Tabernacle of Thine unfailing protection, so that they may rush forward to meet what is preordained for them in Thy path, and may vie in hasting after tribulation in their love towards Thee. And if not, do Thou, then, reveal the standards of Thine ascendancy, and make them to be victorious over Thine adversaries, that Thy sovereignty may be manifested unto all the dwellers of Thy realm, and the power of Thy might demonstrated amidst Thy creatures. Powerful art Thou to do what Thou willest. No God is there but Thee, the Omniscient, the All-Wise. "

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Thougts on Race

On Wednesday, February 18, 2009, Eric Holder, the Attorney General for the United States, said that he viewed the American psople as being a "nation of cowards." He challenged Amercians to speak with each other about issues that related to race.

More than 95 years ago, Abdu'l-Baha was not afraid to speak out concerning his views on the racial problems in America. During his visit to the United States in 1912, Abdu'l-Baha presented a talk at the fourth annual meeting of the NAACP. He shared with members of that ground-breaking organization the Baha'i teachings on equality.

Abdu'l-Baha also served as the required spiritual leader at a marriage ceremony, a ceremony that wed one African American male to one Caucasian female. Abdu'l-Baha also invited an African American friend to join him at a dinner, a dinner that was held in Washington, D.C.

Seemingly oblivious of (or uncaring of) the segregation that predominated in the Capital at that time, Abdu'l-Baha signaled that his African American friend should have the seat of honor at Abdu'l-Baha's table. That was not a cowardly act.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Thoughts on Persecution

Two days ago, the U.S. State Deparment issued an announcement regarding the holding of Baha'i prisoners by the Iranian government. You can read that announcement by going to this web address:

Abdu'l-Baha has written a prayer for persecuted Baha'is. Here is that prayer:

"He is the All-Glorious!O God, my God! Verily, Thou seest Thy servants acting with sinceritytoward the whole of mankind, even the ill-disposed enemy. They areserving the entire human race with pure hearts and sanctified breasts andare exposed to grave danger. Darts are aimed at them, arrows directedtowards them. Spears are pointed at them, swords drawn against them.O Lord! They are victims of tyranny, at the mercy of the enemy.They are prisoners in the hands of blood-thirsty wolves and ravenous dogsfrom amongst the wicked. They have no refuge, no haven save thestronghold of Thine all-encompassing protection. Shelter them, O my Lord,with the eye of Thy loving-kindness neath the shadow of Thy shield andprotection and guard them in the shelter of Thy care from the wickeddoersamong Thy people. O Lord! They have no helper except Thee, noprotector besides Thee.Ordain, O my Lord, all manner of affliction for ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. Makeme a target for the darts of men and protect Thy faithful servants from thewickedness of the ignoble. Grant that I may offer up my life for the wholebody of Thy lovers so that my heart may find rest, my soul may be quieted,and my eyes may be solaced in the arena of supreme martyrdom. Verily,Thou art the All-Powerful, the Almighty, the Most Exalted.O ye beloved of the Lord! Be calm and composed."– ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’ (October 1921)* Note: the above is a provisional translation. The original of this prayer may be found in the compilation,Majmú‘ih-yi Munáját-i 6a7rat-i ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’ (Mu’assisih-yi Ma%bú‘át-i Millí-yi Írán), pp. 385-6,

Saturday, February 14, 2009

A Thought for Valentine's Day

I do not know if Abdu'l-Baha ever sent a valentine to any of the women in his life. (He had a sister, a wife and four daughters.) If he ever wanted to send a valentine, he might well have considered sending the message found below.

"The handmaids of God must rise to such a station that they will, by themselves and unaided, comprehend these inner meanings, and be able to expound at full lenght every single word; a station where, out of the truth of their inmost hearts, a spring of wisdom will well up, and jet forth even as a fountain that leapeth from its own original source. "

The above quote was taken from Tablets of Abdu'l-Baha Abbas, vol. 2, pg. 473.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Thoughts on Heroes

This morning Mayor Bloomberg called New York "a city of heroes." He was presenting a key to the City to each member of the flight crew that aided the "miracle on the Hudson," the miracle that took place on the Thursday before Inauguration Day.

Abdu'l-Baha spent a great deal of time in New York City. I like to think of him as a hero. He was not a young man when he traveled to the United States. He was in his late 60s. Moreover, he had to arrive on a boat, since there were no flghts to New York back in 1912.

Why did he make such a difficult trip? He felt that his message was of such importance that he needed to put aside worries about his own comfort. He brought the message of peace an unity to a City that would one day be the location for the United Nations.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Thoughts on Prayer

This morning they had the annual Natioanal Prayer Breakfast in Washington, D.C. The President's presence at that breakfast underlines the importance that he attaches to prayer. If you ara a parent, you should take the time to talk with your children about prayer.

Today I am going to post a short story that is geared towards young children, The following story talks about the value of prayer. Here is a story that I wrote, a story based on actual events in the life of Abdu'l-Baha and his grandson:


Young Shoghi looked out the window at the quiet, azure ocean. He stared at the

Turkish ship sitting in the harbor. Shoghi did not like that ship. That ship had destroyed

the once peaceful setting that Shoghi’s family had created within their home at Bahji.

Ever since that ship had sailed into Acre’s harbor, Shoghi had been concerned about his


Every day Shoghi saw his grandfather walking back and forth in the room that the

family had set aside for the elder man’s use. Shoghi’s great aunt had told her nephew

that commissioners on the ship in the harbor did not like the things that Shoghi’s

grandfather had been teaching. Shoghi imagined all sorts of things that the

commissioners might do to his grandfather. He worried most when he imagined his

grandfather being taken to another city.

One day Shoghi saw the ship sail out of the harbor at Acre and travel across the

bay to Haifa. Shoghi was glad to see the ship leave, but then he noticed that his

grandfather continued to walk back and forth over the same small section of floor.

The six-year old Shoghi asked his great aunt why his grandfather had not stopped his

pacing after the departure of the Turkish ship.

“Because,” said Bahiyya, Shoghi’s great aunt, “The commissioners have gone to

examine the new memorial that your grandfather has begun building on the slopes of

Haifa. The commissioners are not happy with that memorial to a non-Muslim. They

could still come back and take your grandfather away.”

No one told Shoghi that special “spies” had gone to watch for the possible return of

the Turkish ship. Shoghi learned about the spies when one of them burst into the room

where Shoghi was sitting with his mother and his aunts. That messenger and spy came

with news that the ship had left the harbor at Haifa. It appeared to be coming back to


That message frightened young Shoghi. Shoghi loved his grandfather. He did not

want to see his grandfather taken away. Shoghi could sense that the adults also worried

about what might happen to the man who had earned everyone’s love and respect.

Shoghi felt certain that the ship would come back and take his grandfather. Then

another messenger ran up to the house and hurried to the main room. This second

messenger came with good news.

“The ship seems to have changed course. It is now headed for Constantinople.”

That message filled Shoghi’s heart with joy. Shoghi hurried up to his grandfather’s

room so that the two of them could be joyful together. Shoghi’s grandfather had the two

of them kneel on the floor. Shoghi learned on that day that whatever brings great joy

should give rise to a word of thanks. Shoghi and his grandfather kneeled and said a
prayer of thanks for the miracle that had kept the two of them together.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Peraonal Thoughts Confirmed

A member of my online writers' group put this in a recent email:

"it is interesting to contrast Abdu'l-Baha's short biographical treatises on some early believers with other "stories" or even eulogies. "

That writer then made note fo the fact that Abdu'l-Baha always focused on the positive points of a person's character. I was pleased to read that observation. In the short story that was included in the anthology Through the Eyes of Love I displayed Abdu'l-Baha as a man who would look at others with a "sin covering eye."

In my story, Abdu'l-Baha meets two young boys. Those boys are fictional characters. In my story Abdu'l-Baha focuses on the virutes that he sees displayed by those boys. I am pleased to learn that my piece of historical fiction does not stray too far from reality

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Translated Thoughts

Today, I want to share with you the passage from a book by Marzieh Gail. That passage can be found on page 19 of Dawn Over Mount Hira. Here is what she wrote about Abdu'l-Baha and his love for the land at the base of Mount Monadnock:

“He loved Dublin; He said in English: 'Good mountains, good green, good meadow, good plain, good view...' He always responded to green trees. Once on the train, going past trees, He turned to a fellow-passenger and said, 'The green -- the green'! The prison-land around 'Akká had been very barren. "

If you ever travel to New Hampshire, and if you happen to pass by the town of Dublin, NH, then you will be able to seeMt. Monadnock, the mountain that inspired the thoughts and words of Abdu'l-Baha.