Sen's daily

September 1, 2017

Battambang House of Worship opened


Bahai World News Service, September 1, 2017.

Some 2,500 people have gathered this morning at a conference to mark the historic dedication of the local Baha’i House of Worship in Battambang, Cambodia. The program also included remarks by several officials from the national and provincial governments as well as the architect and representatives of the Baha’i community.

The Universal House of Justice addressed a letter to those assembled for the opening. The opening of a new House of Worship intended to serve a local community “is a historic occasion, prefiguring the appearance of many more local as well as national Mashriqu’l-Adhkars (Houses of Worship), in obedience to Baha’u’llah’s commandment … “Build ye houses of worship throughout the lands in the name of Him Who is the Lord of all religions.””

Full story: BWNS

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May 25, 2016

House of Justice letter on pioneering

Editorial, May 25, 2016.

The Universal House of Justice has released a letter on the role of international and home-front pioneering in the 5-year Plan that has just begun. It begins by saying, “it is our hope that the friends will continue to consider entering the international arena, whenever their circumstances allow.” In the coming five years, the International Teaching Centre will identify areas that would benefit from international pioneers, “with the expectation that … by the end of the Plan there will be at least one well-advanced intensive programme of growth in every country in the world where external conditions allow …”

As regards home-front pioneers, the House of Justice writes, “Whatever assistance they are able to provide to further the work of the Plan is, of course, most welcome; nevertheless, their efforts will have an even greater effect if, guided by the institutions, their capabilities are directed towards specific needs in clusters where the friends are labouring to intensify the growth process.” Thus, in contrast to pioneering to establish a Baha’i presence, however small, in every town and area across the globe, the emphasis now is on pioneers as assistants to growth programmes in established communities. This also means that those who can stay in an area for only a short period, even “as little as three months” are considered valuable pioneers. “Such friends can kindle a spirit of selfless service and transmit valuable experience from stronger clusters to emerging ones. In time, they return to their communities much inspired and enriched…”

I have placed a plain text version of the message, with paragraph numbers added, in the documents archive of my Bahai Studies blog.

Short link: http://wp.me/pNMoJ-2Dg

Older items can be found in the archive, here. Even older news is here.

December 13, 2015

Message to the Bahais in Iran, on behalf of the House of Justice

A’en-e Baha’i, December 13 (?), 2015.

The Secretariat at the Bahai World Centre has published a letter in Persian that is of interest to the Bahais in Iran. It responds to a number of questions about collective efforts and teaching the Faith in Iran, and advises the questioner that the answers will be found through consultation with the local friends. It also urges the friends not to be critical of one-another, but to support and encourage one another, most especially during the difficult period when the Bahai Administration is not operating in Iran. I have placed the Persian text in the “Documents Archive” of my Bahai Studies blog.

July 11, 2014

Decisions affecting the implementation of the Badi` calendar as of Ridvan 2015

Editorial, July 10

The Universal House of Justice, the international governing body of the Bahai community, has released a letter detailing three decisions that will allow for the uniform implementation of the Bahai calendar (known as the Badi` calendar) in countries that have solar and lunar calendars, with effect from March 21, 2015.

The first decision is that Tehran “will be the spot on the earth that will serve as the standard for determining, … the moment of the vernal equinox in the northern hemisphere and thereby the day of Naw-Ruz for the Baha’i world.” The equinox occurs when the planet, in its orbit around the sun, reaches the point at which its poles incline neither towards nor away from the sun, with the result that the northern and southern hemispheres are equally illuminated. At that precise moment, the time of day or night differs around the globe (as at any astronomical moment). It may be noon in one country, and past nightfall in another country. In the Kitab-e Aqdas, Baha’u’llah states that “The Festival of Naw-Ruz falleth on the day that the sun entereth the sign of Aries [that is, at the moment of the equinox], even should this occur no more than one minute before sunset.” The ruling of the House of Justice means that if the astronomical moment of equinox occurs before sunset in Tehran, on March 20, Bahais around the world will celebrate Naw Ruz on March 20. If the equinox occurs when the sun has already set in Tehran, they will celebrate Naw Ruz on March 21, and so on.

The second decision is that the birthdays of the Bab and Baha’u’llah will be celebrated on the “first and the second day following the occurrence of the eighth new moon after Naw-Ruz.” The Bab was born on 1 Muharram in 1819, and Baha’u’llah on 2 Muharram 1817, with the result that in countries that use the Islamic lunar calendar, the two Bahai holidays followed one another. In the past, Bahais in other countries have celebrated these holy days on October 20 and November 12. Henceforth, the “twin holy days” will be celebrated on two successive days, as a ‘movable feast,’ falling anywhere from mid-October to mid-November according to the Gregorian calendar. Next year, the two Holy Days will fall on November 13 and 14 (10 Qudrat and 11 Qudrat).

The third decision is to fix the dates for all remaining holy days in accordance with the Badi` calendar, rather than the Gregorian calendar. This follows from the first decision described above, but it also means that various historical questions, such as whether the Bab was in fact executed on July 8 or July 9, have been set aside. Whatever the findings of historians on such points may be, they will not affect the day on which the holy day is celebrated.

The full text of the letter from the Universal House of Justice is available in the documents archive of my Bahai Studies blog.

Short link: http://wp.me/pNMoJ-22i

Older items can be found in the archive, here. Even older news is here.

April 21, 2014

Ridvan message released

Editorial, April 21, 2014

The 2014 Ridvan message from the Universal House of Justice is available in English at the official website. High points of the 3-page message include a report on the way the planned construction of a local Mashriqu’l-Adhkar (House of Worship) on the island of Tanna in Vanuatu has energised the Bahais and engaged the wider community. It is reported that a third of the island’s 30,000 inhabitants have participated in conversations about the significance of the House of Worship. “The friends are actively exploring, with the rest of the island’s inhabitants, what it means for a Mashriqu’l-Adhkar, a “collective centre for men’s souls”, to be raised up in their midst. With the active support of traditional leaders, Tanna islanders have offered no less than a hundred design ideas for the Temple…

For more information on the role of devotional meetings and the local House of Worship in Bahai communites, see the compilation “Exploring the Mashriqu’l-Adhkar” at the Bahai Library Online.

Short link: http://wp.me/pNMoJ-1YV

Older items can be found in the archive, here. Even older news is here.

January 30, 2014

Universal House of Justice writes to Bahai youth in Iran

Editorial, January 30, 2014

A year after a chain of Bahai youth conferences were held around the world — in which the Bahai youth in Iran could not participate — the Universal House of Justice has released a message to Bahai youth living in Iran (English text here).

I have also placed the Persian text in the documents archive of my Bahai studies blog, as text and in PDF format. The PDF may not display correctly in Firefox, but works in Explorer.

[پیام بیت العدل اعظم الهی خطاب به جوانان بهائی ایران]

~ Sen
Short link: http://wp.me/pNMoJ-1Wb

Older items can be found in the archive, here. Even older news is here.

May 16, 2013

Appointment of members to the International Teaching Centre

Universal House of Justice, May 15,

The members of the International Teaching Centre for the five-year term beginning 23 May 2013 are:

Uransaikhan Baatar: female, re-appointed
Ramchand Coonjul: male, he was appointed Counsellor (Africa) in 2010
Antonella Demonte: female, she was appointed Counsellor (Europe) in 2010
Andrej Donoval: male, he was appointed Counsellor (Europe) in 2010
Praveen Mallik: male, re-appointed
Alison Milston: female, she was appointed Counsellor (Americas) in 2008

Juan Mora: male, re-appointed
Rachel Ndegwa: female, re-appointed
Mehranguiz Farid Tehrani: female, she was appointed Counsellor (Asia) in 2005

[Thanks to Steve Marshall for the biographical research. Please use the comments section below for additions and corrections ~Sen]

Former members Joan Lincoln, Zenaida Ramirez and Penelope Walker are thanked for their services. Former members Chuungu Malitonga, and Ayman Rouhani are now serving on the Universal House of Justice.

A copy of the letter announcing these changes has been placed in the documents archive of my Bahai Studies blog.

Short link: http://wp.me/pNMoJ-1IB

Older items can be found in the archive, here. Even older news is here.


May 3, 2013

Ridvan message, 2013

The “Ridvan message” for 2013 is now available in English (click here).

This message of the Universal House of Justice, addressed to the Bahais of the world, is released every year during the festival of Ridvan, when Bahais celebrate the twelve days that Baha’u’llah spent in the garden of Ridvan, on the outskirts of Baghdad, in 1863. The message has an important role in setting the focus and tone of Bahai activities around the world in the following year, and is sometimes used to announce significant developments.

I have placed the English message in text format in the documents archive on my Bahai studies blog. I will follow with translations in other languages as these become available.

Persian translation / ترجمه فارسی

Short link: http://wp.me/pNMoJ-1HQ

Older items can be found in the archive, here. Even older news is here.


April 30, 2013

Universal House of Justice elected

Bahai World News Service, April 30

The results of the election of the nine members of the Universal House of Justice have been announced. Those elected for the next five-year term are Paul Lample, Firaydoun Javaheri, Payman Mohajer, Gustavo Correa, Shahriar Razavi, Stephen Birkland, Stephen Hall, Chuungu Malitonga, and Ayman Rouhani. Of these, Chuungu Malitonga, and Ayman Rouhani are new members: both are Counsellors serving at the International Teaching Centre. This means that, as in previous years, all members of the Universal House of Justice are drawn from the corps of Counsellors at the ITC.

Short link: http://wp.me/pNMoJ-1HM

Older items can be found in the archive, here. Even older news is here.


March 23, 2013

“Without reference to individuals” : the Bahai community prepares to elect the Universal House of Justice

Pope-Benedict-XVI From the moment Pope Benedict announced his retirement, the names of possible successors were being discussed, along with ideas about the right kind of Pope to lead the Church in the years to come. A South American? An African? … It all makes for good press. Bahai elections, even the forthcoming election of the Universal House of Justice, are not so newsworthy.

The Bahai community has no clergy, in the sense of qualified religious experts who lead a religious community. Its affairs are administered by elected local and national “spiritual assemblies.” The members of the National Spiritual Assemblies administer the affairs of the community in their countries, and every five years they cast their votes for the members of the Universal (or International) House of Justice, which administers the global affairs of the Bahai community. They will do so again in April, 2013, at an international convention in Haifa, Israel.

At the local, national and international levels, the elections are conducted without candidates, or even any reference to particular individuals. The qualifications for electability in all these elections are well known:

… it is incumbent upon the chosen delegates to consider … 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…
(Shoghi Effendi, letter of June 3, 1925, printed in Directives from the Guardian, p. 24)

On the face of it, we can tell the Press to move along, there’s nothing to see here. No personalities to dissect, nothing to discuss. If it was really that dull, I wouldn’t be writing about it either. But there’s more to the story. Shoghi Effendi has also said that, prior to an election to a Bahai institution, the friends should “discuss among themselves the requirements and qualifications for such a membership without reference or application, however indirect, to particular individuals.” (Letter to the Spiritual Assembly of Akron, Ohio, dated May 14, 1927).

But we know the qualifications for membership don’t we? And we are not to make references to particular individuals, who may or may not meet those requirements. So why does Shoghi Effendi call all the Bahais (not just the convention delegates) to discuss the requirements and qualifications for membership? Could he have forgotten that he had told us the qualifications, just two years earlier? That would be uncharacteristic, for he was systematic and meticulous by nature.

The answer I think is that, while he has told us the general qualifications which electors should always look for, in any situation, (unquestioned loyalty, selfless devotion, a well-trained mind, recognized ability and mature experience…), he was also aware that every national community has particular needs, and that the needs of one year may not be those of the following year, or of ten years later. What Shoghi Effendi asks us all to discuss must be the requirements of the hour.

In my opinion, one requirement for membership which the delegates to the international Bahai convention should weigh very heavily is the desirability that the members of the next Universal House of Justice should have long and fruitful experience as members of National Spiritual Assemblies. In any Bahai election, proven effectiveness on an Assembly is one important sign by which a person’s maturity and wisdom may be known. In the case of the forthcoming election of the Universal House of Justice, four other factors make experience on a National Spiritual Assembly especially important.

one black If the membership of the Universal House of Justice were to be drawn largely from experienced members of the National Spiritual Assemblies, this would strengthen the relationship between the National and International bodies, whose tasks after all lie in the same sphere of the Bahai Administration;

two-black It would provide the Universal House of Justice with members who have experience in implementing, in national communities with diverse patterns of development, the plans and policies which the Universal House of Justice enacts, and that would help to making those plans more relevant and practicable;

three black It would signal a fresh start, in comparison to the present situation in which members of the Universal House of Justice are drawn from the International Teaching Centre rather than from the ranks of national administrative bodies; and

four black It would highlight the natural and fruitful relationship between the elected and appointed arms of the Bahai Administrative Order, a relationship which is obscured if all the members of the Universal House of Justice are drawn from the International Teaching Centre. The ITC then appears to resemble a line up of the papabile cardinals.

~~~

These considerations might also weigh in the minds of the members of the International Teaching Centre. Would it not be better for the development of the Bahai Administrative Order, if they were to ask the convention delegates not to elect them to the Universal House of Justice? There are good precedents for such a request. The first is the example of the Hands of the Cause, who by asking the members of the National Spiritual Assemblies not to vote for them (Ministry of the Custodians, p. 20) gave concrete expression to the separation of the spheres of authority and administration on the one hand, and of guidance and wisdom on the other hand. The separation of these two spheres was outlined by Shoghi Effendi in The Dispensation of Baha’u’llah as follows:

… these twin institutions of the Administrative Order of Baha’u’llah should be regarded as divine in origin, essential in their functions and complementary in their aim and purpose. … Acting in conjunction with each other these two inseparable institutions administer its affairs, coordinate its activities, promote its interests, execute its laws and defend its subsidiary institutions. Severally, each operates within a clearly defined sphere of jurisdiction; each is equipped with … instruments designed for the effective discharge of its particular responsibilities and duties. Each exercises, within the limitations imposed upon it, its powers, its authority, its rights and prerogatives. … Far from being incompatible or mutually destructive, they supplement each other’s authority and functions, and are permanently and fundamentally united in their aims.
(Shoghi Effendi, The World Order of Baha’u’llah, p. 148)

Similarly, the Universal House of Justice has decided that Counsellors, during their terms of office, are not “eligible for membership on national or local administrative bodies… ” (Wellspring of Guidance, pp. 141-142) and it has asked the members of the Auxiliary Boards to suggest to delegates at national convention, that it would not be desirable to elect them to the National Spiritual Assembly:

National Assemblies in whose areas of jurisdiction Board Members reside, should point out to the delegates at Convention that whilst teaching and administrative duties are not mutually exclusive, it is desirable that Auxiliary Board Members, whether for teaching or protection, be left free to concentrate on the work allotted to them… The following extract from the Guardian’s letter, written through his secretary, could be shared with the delegates for their guidance when casting their votes:

“Teachers of the Cause can surely become members of any Assembly or Committee. There should be no incapacity attached to them. But, Shoghi Effendi would just prefer to see them devote all their time to teaching and leave the administrative function for those who cannot serve as teachers. (Bahai News, October, 1932)

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to all National Spiritual Assemblies, November 25, 1963)

It would therefore be both permissible and laudable if the members of the International Teaching Centre were to tell the delegates that it would be preferable to leave them to devote themselves to their own functions, in their own sphere of action.

~~~~~

What do you think?

Without reference to particular individuals, post a comment about what you think are the requirements and qualifications for membership of the Universal House of Justice, in view of the needs of the community today. What House of Justice would you like to see emerge from the International Convention?

Short link: http://wp.me/pNMoJ-1FL

Older items can be found in the archive, here. Even older news is here.


March 6, 2013

Universal House of Justice issues a letter on political engagement

Editorial, March 6

The Universal House of Justice has addressed a letter to the Baha’is of Iran, which has been released in both Persian and English versions. It sets out “the posture held by Baha’is everywhere towards political activity,” within the framework of a vision statement on Baha’i views of the future of humanity. As such it is of interest also to Bahais around the world, and also to the diverse individuals, organisations and religious communities with whom the Bahais join to realize common ideals. I have placed the plain text of the English version in the documents archive section of my Bahai Studies blog.

Older items can be found in the archive, here. Even older news is here.


November 6, 2012

Farzam Arbab and Kiser Barnes to retire

November 6.

In a letter dated November 5, 2012, the Universal House of Justice has announced the resignations of two of its members, Dr. Farzam Arbab and Mr. Kiser Barnes, with effect from the completion of the election of the Universal House of Justice at Ridvan 2013. Dr. Arbab (b. October 27, 1941) was appointed to the International Teaching Centre in 1988 and elected to the Universal House of Justice in 1993, Mr. Barnes (b. January 13, 1943) was appointed to the International Teaching Centre in 1993, and elected to the Universal House of Justice in 2000.

The letter is available as a PDF document in my documents archive.

Short link: http://wp.me/pNMoJ-1xd

Older items can be found in the archive, here. Even older news is here.


April 20, 2011

Ridvan message 2011

The “Ridvan message” for 2011 is now available (click here). A Persian translation is available here. This message of the Universal House of Justice, addressed to the Bahais of the world, is released every year at the beginning of the festival of Ridvan, when Bahais celebrate the twelve days that Baha’u’llah spent in the garden of Ridvan, on the outskirts of Baghdad, in 1863. The Ottoman government had summoned him from Baghdad to Istanbul and, since many visitors wished to say farewell to him, he moved to the garden to receive them, so that his family could complete the packing and preparations at his house in the city.

Julia Gillard, the Prime Minister of Australia, has also released a message to the Bahai community on this festival (click here).

Update April 20 2012: The Persian translation of the Ridvan message for 2012 is available. It announces plans for building two major Houses of Worship, in Congo and in Papua New Guinea, and a number of smaller Houses of Worship Battambang (Cambodia), Bihar Sharif (India), Matunda Soy (Kenya), Norte del Cauca (Colombia), and Tanna (Vanuatu).

Wonderful news, !!

For those who can read it, the text is online here:
http://tinyurl.com/Ridvan2012Farsi

Has anyone spotted the English version?

January 5, 2011

New guidance re. same-sex marriage

The National Spiritual Assembly (governing council) of the Bahais in the United States has released a letter which quotes from new guidance from the Universal House of Justice, dated October 27, 2010. This indicates that Baha’is should eschew all forms of prejudice defend those whose fundamental rights are being denied, but should in their own lives apply the teachings of Baha’u’llah on personal morality (teachings which they do not seek to impose on others). In working for social justice, Baha’is can actively support freedom from discrimination, while neither promoting nor opposing opportunities for civil marriage. The full text (more…)

December 29, 2010

UHJ message to Continental Boards of Counsellors’ conference

Editorial, 29 December

The Continental Boards of Counsellors are having a rare ‘summit’ meeting at present. The Universal House of Justice has produced a theme document for the meeting, which I have put on my Bahai Studies blog. Among the points I noticed are two previews of the next five-year plan, in paragraph 10:

we will call upon the community of the Most Great Name at Ridvan 2011 to raise over the next five years the total number of clusters in which a programme of growth is under way, at whatever level of intensity, to 5,000, approximately one third of all clusters in the world at present.

And in paragraph 17:

There are currently 170 such administrative bodies [Regional Councils] in 45 countries worldwide, and their number is sure to climb during the next Plan.

The short link for the full text is http://tinyurl.com/UHJ28Dec

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