April, 2009

Come Celebrate the 9th Day of Ridván!


” Arise, and proclaim unto the entire creation the tidings that He Who is the All-Merciful hath directed His steps towards the Ridván and entered it. Guide, then, the people unto the garden of delight which God hath made the Throne of His Paradise.”

      ~ Bahá’u’lláh


The Arlington Bahá’í community will be celebrating the 9th day of Ridván at 4:00pm on April 29th. We will tell the story of Bahá’u’lláh’s declaration in the Garden of Ridván 146 years ago, and reflect on that most auspicious event! There will be a tent and roses as well as activities for children. Everyone is welcome to attend, please contact us for more information.

Happy Ridván!

RidvanRidván is the most sacred of all Bahá’í festivals and it commemorates Bahá’u’lláh’s declaration of His Mission. After spending 10 years in exile in Baghdad, the Ottoman Empire determined to exile Him further. Therefore before they left for Constantinople, for 12 days Bahá’u’lláh and His companions camped in the Najibiyyih Garden on the outskirts of Baghdad. It was in this garden in April 1863 that Bahá’u’lláh announced to his followers and to the world that He was the Promised One for which humanity had been waiting. The garden where this momentous proclamation was made became known as “Ridván” which means “paradise”, and the festival commemorating this historic event is also known as Ridván. Bahá’u’lláh referred to this twelve day period as “the King of Festivals” and Bahá’ís suspend work on the first, ninth and twelfth day. These days commemorate His arrival to the garden, the arrival of His family, and His departure from the garden respectively.

This festival is not only a time for Bahá’ís to contemplate on the historic significance, but also to reflect on His Mission that was revealed. Bahá’u’lláh has explained that His Mission is the unification of mankind. “’The fundamental purpose animating the Faith of God and His Religion is to safeguard the interests and promote the unity of the human race…” And He warns, “The well-being of mankind, its peace and security, are unattainable unless and until its unity is firmly established.” Please contact us to find out more about what the Bahá’ís in Arlington are doing to help bring about unity.

Arlington Bahá’ís Elect Local Spiritual Assembly

Bahá’ís in Arlington and across the world are preparing for the election of their Local Spiritual Assembly (LSA). In every locality where 9 or more Bahá’í adults live, on the April 20th the Local Spiritual Assembly is elected. The only communities where Local Spiritual Assemblies will not be elected are in Iran, since the government of Iran in 1983 called for the dismantling of the Bahá’í administrative structure. Therefore in 1983 the National Spiritual Assembly of Iran dissolved itself and the rest of the Bahá’í administrative structure in the country as a demonstration of goodwill towards the government.

There is no clergy in the Bahá’í Faith, rather the LSA is the elected administrative body that provides pastoral care and coordinates the affairs of the community at the local level. The institutions of a National Spiritual Assembly (NSA) and the Universal House of Justice coordinate the affairs of the Bahá’í community at a national and the international level respectively. Therefore the Local Spiritual Assembly in addition to providing guidance for the Bahá’í community at a local level, is the grassroots centerpiece of a democratic local, national, and international election processes.

The secret ballot election takes place in a prayerful atmosphere, void of nominations or campaigning. All Bahá’ís over the age of 21 who reside with in the particular geographic jurisdiction are eligible to vote and to be elected to serve. Individual elected members have no special authority, status, or power outside the Assembly itself.

To find out more about the Bahá’í electoral process please read this article or watch this video on YouTube.

History of the Bahá’í Faith in DC

On April 4th, a group of Bahá’ís from Arlington and DC and their friends got together for a bus tour of some of the places that ‘Abdu’l-Bahá visited on his trip to the United States in 1912. `Abdu’l-Bahá made three visits to Washington, DC in 1912: from April 20 to 28, from May 8 to 11, and from November 6 to 11. There are other tours being planned for May and November of this year, so if you are interested please contact Lex Musta at 202-253-6899 for more details or to reserve a seat on the bus for those trips.

Below are a list of the places we visited:

  • The Metropolitan African Methodists Episcopal Church (the AME Church) located on M street NW. It was here that ‘Abdu’l-Bahá spoke to the Bethel Literary Society. You can read the entire speech here. The Bethel Literary and Historical Society was established in 1881, and was the first national association of Africa-American intellectual leaders. Frederick Douglass spoke on a variety of occasion to this group, and past presidents of this society include Mary Church Terrell and Louis Gregory.
  • Arlington National Cemetery. While ‘Abdu’l-Bahá was in DC, he went with Agnes Parsons to pray at the grave of her father William B Royall. Mrs. Parsons is best known for organizing the first Race Amity Conference in 1921. She was a member of the national Race Amity Committees from 1924 through 1930, and was the chair from 1925 – 1928.
  • 1832 26th St, NW. This is currently a private residence owned by Mr. and Mrs. Boyle. In 1912 it was the home of Mírzá Ali-Kuli Khan and Madame Khan. Mr. Khan, a Bahá’í, was at that time Charge d’Affaires of the Persian Legation, and he hosted a luncheon for ‘Abdu’l-Bahá at this townhome. Louis Gregory had been speaking with ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, but left before the luncheon began, as it was still uncommon to have interracial gatherings in DC in 1912. When ‘Abdu’l-Bahá learned he had left, he sent for Mr. Gregory immediately and gave him the seat of honor on his right.
  • Mr. James Ryan of the Esperanto Society of Washington spoke to our group in front of the German Marshall Fund Building. In 1912 this was the home of Mr. and Mrs. Parsons, and ‘Abdu’l-Bahá gave many talks here including to the Theosophical Society and the Esperantists.