November, 2008

Ascension of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá

On November 28 at 1:00am, members of the Baha’i Faith throughout the world will commemorate the passing of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, the eldest son of Bahá’u’lláh. He was born on May 23, 1844 in Tehran and given the name `Abbás. Yet the name that he preferred was ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’ which means ‘Servant of Bahá’. As a young child he accompanied his Father in exile and was a prisoner for most of his life. In 1908, as a result of the Turkish revolution, all political and religious prisoners of the Ottoman Empire including ‘Abdu’l-Bahá were released. In 1911 and 1912 he traveled to Europe and North America to spread his Father’s teachings concerning the coming of a new day and the unity of all mankind. He was knighted by Queen Victoria for his humanitarian services and spent his life caring for the sick and the needy.

Before Bahá’u’lláh passed away in 1892 He appointed ‘Abdu’l-Bahá as the Center of His Covanent and the sole interpreter of His writings. Abdu’l-Bahá died in his house in Haifa (pictured) on November 28, 1921 at the age of 77. Over 10,000 mourners, representing every class, religion and race in Palestine attended his funeral. Excerpts of some of the speeches given at his funeral by the various religious leaders can be read here.

We invite you to join us here in Arlington as we commemorate his passing. Starting at 9:00pm on Thursday November 27th, we will be showing two films, including the new full-length documentary “The Promised One of All Ages.” The commemoration with prayers and devotional readings will be at 1 am. Please contact us for more information or for directions to this commemoration. Some of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s writings are available here.

The Day of the Covenant

A covenant is a binding agreement between two parties. In the religious sense a covenant is an agreement between God and man, whereby God requires of man to behave in a certain way in return for which He guarantees certain blessings. Bahá’ís recognize two kinds of covenants, a Greater Covenant and a Lesser Covenant.
The Universal House of Justice, the supreme governing body of the Bahá’í Faith, describes the two covenants in the following manner:

“There is, for example, the Greater Covenant which every Manifestation of God makes with His followers, promising that in the fullness of time a new Manifestation will be sent, and taking from them the undertaking to accept Him when this occurs. There is also the Lesser Covenant that a Manifestation of God makes with His followers that they will accept His appointed successor after Him. If they do so, the Faith can remain united and pure. If not, the Faith becomes divided and its force spent. “

Bahá’ís believe that Bahá’u’lláh is the latest Messenger of God, and through Him, God’s promise to mankind, His Greater Covenant is renewed. When Bahá’u’lláh passed away on May 29, 1892, in His will and testament He appointed His eldest son `Abdu’l-Bahá as the center of His covenant and the sole interpreter of His writings. In addition to being the center of his Father’s covenant, `Abdu’l-Bahá was the embodiment of every Bahá’í ideal, the incarnation of every Bahá’í virtue and provide a perfect example of how to live according to the Bahá’í teachings. Therefore every year on November 26th, Bahá’ís all over the world celebrate The Day of the Covenant. This is a day for us to celebrate the life of `Abdu’l-Bahá as well as the Covenant of Bahá’u’lláh which has ensured the unity of the Bahá’í Faith.

Local Author Speaking Today!

Local Arlingtonian Aaron Emmel will be discussing his book “Taking Action in a Changing World” at the DC Bahá’í Center today, Sunday November 23rd. As Kathleen Kettler Lehman said in her review of the book:

“Everybody should read this book, right now! This book is for everyone who has struggled to get their community involved. This book is for everyone who has looked at social projects being carried out elsewhere and wondered “why can’t we do something like that here?”

“Aaron Emmel’s Taking Action in a Changing World (published by George Ronald) takes a broad view of socioeconomic projects, and explores what must be done to set up efficient agencies of action. His book is written in short chapters, with an eye toward group reading and discussion.”

You can read the full review here or an interview with Mr. Emmel here. But the best way to find out about this book is to come to the discussion at the DC Bahá’í center located at 5713 16th Street, NW. There will be devotions at 11:00 and then the talk will follow. Everyone is invited to attend.

Faith in Action

The Bahá’í International Community has made available on its website 500 photographs from all around the world of Bahá’ís and their friends together studying the Word of God, teaching their children virtues and spiritual values, and raising up young people to serve their communities. You can access the site here.