“O Lord! These souls have tasted bitter agony in this earthly life and have, as a sign of their love for the shining beauty of Thy countenance and in their eagerness to attain Thy celestial kingdom, tolerated every gross indignity that the people of tyranny have inflicted upon them.”
To mark the five year anniversary of the wrongful imprisonment of the seven Iranian Baha’i leaders, the Baha’i International Community is launching a campaign to call for their immediate release – and to draw attention to the deteriorating human rights situation in Iran.
“On 14 May, the seven innocent Baha’i leaders will have been behind bars for five full years, unjustly imprisoned solely because of their religious beliefs,” said Bani Dugal, the principal representative of the Baha’i International Community to the United Nations.
“We are asking people of good will around the world to raise their voices in an effort to win their freedom and the freedom of other innocent prisoners of conscience in Iran,” she said.
The campaign will run from 5 May through 15 May, under the title “Five Years Too Many.” Around the world, Baha’i communities and other groups are planning public events that focus on the plight of the seven, who face 15 more years in prison, and whose 20-year sentences are the longest of any current prisoners of conscience in Iran.
On Sunday, May 12th, 2013, the Arlington Baha’i community will host an interfaith prayer meeting in support of the 7 wrongly imprisoned Baha’i leaders in the cradle of the Baha’i Faith. The Prayer Station is open to anyone to wishes to raise their voice for the voiceless and pray for the speedy delivery of the Yaran. Please contact the host if you would like to participate and need directions.
A wonderful evening on Monday of sharing friendship and views on faith and unity with a terrific group of Mormons at the LDS church in Arlington and members of the Arlington Baha’i community.
The wonderful hospitality of the youth congregation of the Latter Day Saints church in Arlington created such a warm environment where we had a chance to talk about the history of the Baha’i Faith, its teachings and the way we strive to live Baha’i life. The questions our generous hosts raised were sincere, friendly and truly thought-provoking. And, we Baha’is learned that we share so many important values with Mormons. It was a great night of interfaith dialogue and true friendship!
Celebrating the 150th Anniversary of Baha’u'llah’s Declaration
Former Washington, D.C. resident, Shastri Purushotma, offered the following thoughts on April 8, on Huffington Post about the upcoming 150th anniversary of Ridván, the 12-day celebration of Bahá’u'lláh’s Announcement of His Revelation.
“On April 21 this year, the Baha’i community will celebrate the 150th anniversary of the day when Baha’u'llah, the founder of the Baha’i Faith, first publicly announced His mission in a garden in Baghdad, thus beginning the Baha’i community that today comprises virtually all the races of humankind in more than 200 countries and territories.
“In a sense, the global festivities involving people of thousands of ethnic backgrounds is representative of the key message of the Baha’i Faith: that a time of happiness has arrived for the entire human race as it gradually moves from a state of collective adolescence to a stage of maturity and wholeness. “We desire the good of the world and the happiness of the nations,” said Baha’u'llah to Edward Granville Browne, the Cambridge University scholar who interviewed Him in 1890, “that the bonds of affection and unity between the sons of men should be strengthened … what harm is there in this? … these fruitless strifes, these ruinous wars shall pass away, and the ‘Most Great Peace’ shall come.” These words provide an outline of the aim of Baha’u'llah’s teachings and the work of the Baha’i community today.
“On April 21, 1863, as He was about to be exiled from Baghdad to Constantinople, Baha’u'llah stayed for 12 days in a garden in Baghdad known as the “Ridvan (Paradise) Garden” and it was here that He let members of the Babi community gathered know that He was the promised one they were expecting.
“This was a time of great joy for the Babis, who had experienced in the preceding years the execution of the Founder of their religion (known as “The Bab”) and the slaughter of more than 20,000 members of their community. One of those present in the Ridvan garden left an account of the scene that gives a sense of the occasion:
“Every day, ere the hour of dawn, the gardeners would pick the roses which lined the four avenues of the garden, and would pile them in the center of the floor of His (Baha’u'llah’s) tent. So great would be the heap that when His companions gathered to drink their morning tea in His presence, they would be unable to see each other across it.”
“Baha’u'llah described this occasion as the “Most Great Festival,” the “King of Festivals,” and the “Festival of God.” Baha’is celebrate the first (April 21), the ninth (April 29) and the last (May 2) days of the 12-day Ridvan festival as holy days and where possible take them off work in honor of the occasions. The significance of each is the following: the first day of Ridvan is when Baha’u'llah entered the garden and announced His mission, the ninth is when His family joined Him, and the 12th was His departure from the garden and the continuation of the journey of exile to Constantinople.
“It is always beneficial for people of any or no religious background to learn more about the Founders of the world’s religious systems, as such knowledge helps one better understand his or her own beliefs as well as connect with others. Readers will find that learning about Baha’u'llah is particularly fascinating because, in addition to restating the essential moral teachings of all the world’s great religions, He also wrote about current and future global and societal issues such as statesmanship, collective security, the role of the news media, international language, economic issues, life elsewhere in the universe, medicine, dreams, the environment, energy, global governance, agriculture, education and many others.
“If you haven’t read Baha’u'llah’s writings before, perhaps you might find that one very enjoyable way to spend the beautiful spring days between April 21 to May 2 this year is to sip some morning tea (or cappuccino, or any morning drink of your choice) with a pile of roses nearby and some of Baha’u'llah’s works and see what that group in Baghdad 150 years ago was so excited about.”
A group of Baha’is from Arlington recently carpooled to Maryland to donate a few hours on a Saturday packing sweet potatoes from North Carolina and cabbage in banana cartons to be delivered to people in need in the Washington, DC, area.
The Arlington Baha’is were joined by a diverse group of others volunteers — a multilingual group of Mormons who had travelled on missions as far as Japan and Madagascar, a young Muslim lady from Somalia, a Mandarin-speaking Voice of America broadcaster, a woman from the central valley of California who spoke with others in her native Cantonese, Catholics, and a Protestant mother of three who spoke only English but with the deepest appreciation for its flexibility and inclusiveness.
As they all gathered around the full crates of produce for a group photo at the end of a productive morning, they discussed the act of picking up the best of what has been left after the harvest, not unlike the way Jesus and His disciples did while roaming the Holy Land.
Many of the Baha’is were reminded of the words of Bahá’u’lláh, founder of the Faith, who said:
Be generous in prosperity, and thankful in adversity. Be worthy of the trust of thy neighbor, and look upon him with a bright and friendly face. Be a treasure to the poor, an admonisher to the rich, an answerer of the cry of the needy, a preserver of the sanctity of thy pledge. Be fair in thy judgment, and guarded in thy speech. Be unjust to no man, and show all meekness to all men. Be as a lamp unto them that walk in darkness, a joy to the sorrowful, a sea for the thirsty, a haven for the distressed, an upholder and defender of the victim of oppression. Let integrity and uprightness distinguish all thine acts. Be a home for the stranger, a balm to the suffering, a tower of strength for the fugitive. Be eyes to the blind, and a guiding light unto the feet of the erring. Be an ornament to the countenance of truth, a crown to the brow of fidelity, a pillar of the temple of righteousness, a breath of life to the body of mankind, an ensign of the hosts of justice, a luminary above the horizon of virtue, a dew to the soil of the human heart, an ark on the ocean of knowledge, a sun in the heaven of bounty, a gem on the diadem of wisdom, a shining light in the firmament of thy generation, a fruit upon the tree of humility.
For a personal reflection of one of the participants you can read his blog … click here.
Bahá’ís in Arlington will observe their new year, called Naw Rúz, on the first day of Spring, March 21. They will gather after sunset on March 20, ending the 19-day Fast, during which they have not had food or drink between sunrise and sunset, and have set aside time for prayer and meditation.
They will have a party at which family and friends celebrate the beginning of a new year as well as the end of the Baha’i month of fasting.
People who may be interested in learning more about the party, or details about attending, may write to the Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of Arlington. Please click “Contact” above and fill out the form.