April 25, 2010

Baha'i Faith on Singapore's stamps

In commemoration of the fiftieth anniversary of Singapore's Inter-Religious Organization, a body formed to promote peace, understanding and good will among people of different faiths, three specially-designed stamps were issued in January 1999, depicting nine of the major religions in Singapore. The Baha'i Faith was honored through its inclusion. 
(The Baha'i World, 1998-99)

April 24, 2010

The First Baha’i Center in Europe Was Formed in 1898

The first Baha'i center in Europe was established by May Maxwell (nee Bolles). Born in 1870 in the United States, Mrs. Maxwell spent many years resident in Paris with her mother and brother. In February 1899, she was among the first group of western pilgrims to go to Acre (in what was then Palestine) to visit 'Abdu'l-Baha, the son of Baha'u'llah and leader of the Baha’i Faith, who was still being held as a prisoner of the Ottoman Empire On her return to the French capital, she began to tell others of the new religious movement she had discovered. A significant group of Baha'is emerged around her, among them a number of artists and artisans, and believers of various nationalities, including the early English Baha'i Thomas Breakwell. To mark the centenary of these momentous events, the Baha'i community of France held an ambitious conference in Paris from 27 to 29 November 1998. The celebrations began when more than one thousand Baha'is gathered beneath the Eiffel Tower for a photograph, on the same spot where 'Abdu'l-Baha had been photographed during His historic visit to Paris in 1913. Later, the conference opened with the participation of two thousand people, including more than two hundred guests of the Baha'is and six hundred Baha'is from outside France. The structure of the program, which was modeled on the Second Baha'i World Congress held in New York in 1992, included talks, film and video presentations and theatrical and musical segments. A high point of the conference was the colorful public concert "La Nuit de l'espoir" ("The Night of Hope"), held at the Salle de la MutualitC, one of the largest halls in Paris. Before the event, more than two hundred and fifty special guests, including ambassadors, politicians, religious and civil dignitaries, journalists, and representatives of major non-governmental organizations attended a reception and expressed great interest in and admiration for the work of the Baha’i community. Another highlight of the event was a dedication and reception held immediately after the conference at the Paris apartment where ‘Abdu’l-Baha had stayed.
(The Baha’i World, 1998-99, pp. 122-124)

April 18, 2010

Some prominent western non-Baha’is who hosted receptions for ‘Abdu’l-Baha

From 1911 to 1913 'Abdu'l-Baha journeyed through Europe and North America, visiting the local Baha'i communities, addressing public audiences in peace societies, universities, churches, Negro conferences and synagogues, meeting distinguished personages in government, clerical and educational life and promulgating by example and eloquent speech the principles of universal peace. The roster of these distinguished persons is too extensive to include here, but the character of 'Abdu'l-Baha's reception in the West may be indicated by naming, among many others, Archdeacon Wilberforce, Reverend R. J. Campbell, Lord Lamington, Sir Michael Sadler, the Maharajahs of Jalawar and Rajputana, Professor E. G. Browne, and Professor Patrick Geddes, in London; the Persian Minister, the Turkish Ambassador, "Church dignitaries of various branches of the Christian Tree," in Paris; Professor Arminius Vambery, several members of Parliament, Count Albert Apponyi, Prelate Alexander Giesswein and Professor Ignatius Goldziher, in Vienna; and in America, Dr. David Starr Jordan, Rabbi Stephen Wise, Alexander Graham Bell, Hon. Franklin K. Lane, Mrs. William Jennings Bryan, Andrew Carnegie, Hon. Franklin MacVeagh, Admiral Peary, Rabindranath Tagore.
(Horace Holley, Introduction to The Secret of Divine Civilization)
To see some pictures of this historic visit please go to http://abdulbahawest.blogspot.com/

April 8, 2010

Women in Nineteenth-Century Iran

Women in nineteenth-century Iran were regarded as being much inferior to men, both in regard to their intellectual capacity and their spiritual worth. The religiously devout men looked on them with suspicion and disdain as a potential cause of the loss of their religious purity; women were regarded as having been placed on earth to lead men astray. The less religious would merely think of women as a source of sexual pleasure and domestic management. They were not much above chattels and slaves, certainly not worthy of being consulted about family affairs or entrusted with making any decisions for themselves. Indeed, a woman's temperament was felt to be totally unsuitable for any serious deliberation or rational thought.