I have been thinking of replacing my Baha’i ringstone ring which flew into the English Channel with an oyster that I threw back into the sea, from Brighton Beach, many years ago. Noting that 95 Gems, who are on Facebook, were about to have a sale I searched for Baha’i Jewellers online to find the best designs and prices available. The list of sites is shared in this note for anybody else who may be interested in Baha’i Jewellery.
As a guide to prices I have included the prices of gents (or unisex) ringstone rings as a guideline of cost. Prices are in British Pounds and exclude delivery.
9 Star Jewelry, £21 to £24, https://www.navinbalan.com/
95 Gems, £21 to £47, http://www.95gems.com/
Baha’i Jewellers, £200 to £467, http://www.bahaijewellers.com/
BahaiJewelry.com, £265 to £703, http://bahaijewelry.com/
Edith, £144 to £368, http://www.edith-haifa.com/
Forlora, £34 to £40 (not gents), http://www.forlora.com/baje.html
Koorosh and Valencia, £31 to £575, http://www.kooroshandvalencia.com
Perhaps the images don’t do them justice but the cheaper rings at 95 Gems did not look as high quality as the ones at New Era and 9 Star Jewelry. The Qreation offering is interesting, it has a break in reverse of the ring circumference but looks reasonably good quality. Forlora has some rather grand looking designs for the prices, but they are made of Rhodium with optional gold plating, rather than real gold or silver. Where a company only has prices below £50 they do not offer any gold rings.
I was not looking for burial rings but I noticed that many only offer them in English, I think I might prefer to have the inscription in the original Arabic if I had a choice.
This post will interest only a very few people, but for those it helps it will be most welcome.
Being without my main broadband connnection for two weeks I have got myself a T-Mobile mobile broadband dongle, I had previously used a Vodafone one but coverage is poor where I am on Vodafone and so the speed was very low. The T-Mobile mobile broadband flies by comparison but it does not work with everything, Windows Live Messenger is blocked, some web pages simply don’t work properly, and most notably images are very heavily compressed. Sometimes a key combination of “Shift + R” will decompress an image but often this doesn’t work. There are occasions where image compression may be useful, especially if the broadband speed drops, but for any site where the images are important the comprression level is far too high, resulting in very grainy images, and so I searched the Intnernet for a way to bypass this.
Last year I traded in three old mobile phones that had been sitting in a drawer “as spares”. Television advertisements kept telling me that I could help save the planet by recycling my old phones, and earn a fortune in the process, so I visited the website of one of the most frequent advertisers and, carrying out the simple instructions, I swapped my phones for a grand total of £15.00, not quite the fortune the adverts had implied, but at least the drawer is less cluttered.
Back then I was unaware of sellmymobile.com, the phone trade in site that compares what different sites will offer for your phone, I may well have got more than double the money for my phones if I had used it.
As for saving the world, how does phone recycling actually help? Why is an old (or even broken) phone worth something to these companies? Essentially it comes down to minimizing hazardous waste and avoiding unnecessary manufacturing of phones and parts when plentiful supplies are stored in the drawers of us western consumers.
Mobile phones, like many electrical devices, contain materials considered dangerous to the environment, such as cadmium, mercury and lead, and therefore should not be disposed of as general waste but rather through an authorised waste management company, many phone retailers will dispose of – or recycle – your old phone for you if you do not want to make any money from it.
Working phones acquired by “cash for your mobile” companies are typically shipped to, and sold in, a developing or emerging country in Africa, South America, the Middle East or Asia. Phones of poorer quality will more probably be broken down into component parts which are suitable for selling and, beyond that, any remaining phones or parts are then recycled or disposed of in an appropriate manner.
To get the best value for a phone it is also worth seeing what similar models are selling for on eBay, selling phones there is more complicated than filling out a form and popping your phone into the post in a pre-paid envelope, but if you wanted to get the best price for something like an iPhone it would be wise to check eBay as well as sellmymobile.com
At the end of the day the money may not be much, but the habit of recycling things we no longer use is a good one, both for the economy and for the environment.
Mark Zuckerberg introduces the new messaging concept
Earlier today, at a press conference in San Fransisco, Mark Zuckerberg and his team announced the latest big feature on offer from Facebook, a new messaging service that integrates with email. Facebook users will be able exchange messages with people who are not on Facebook with an @facebook.com email address which comes directly to their Facebook inbox, but this is not intended to simply be a new email platform.
Mark Zuckerberg started by referring to a conversation he had had with some high school students in which he was told that email is too slow, on questioning this and thinking more about why they felt this to be the case he decided that it was the process of writing the email address, the subject and the usual formalities of a letter that made email feel slow compared to other messaging systems, such as SMS text messaging and Facebook.
Currently about 350 million people use the messaging features of Facebook, sending over 4 billion messages to each other each day. In allowing Facebook users to integrate their communication with non-Facebook users by using email, they wanted a seamless messaging service that converges messaging between SMS, email and Instant messaging.
The new system will not be based upon subject lines, rather each group or person will have one conversation history, similar to Instant Messaging.
Facebook’s new system combats email overload with a “social inbox”, the settings for which allow users to choose which messages come through to it in typical Facebook style, allow messages from friends, or friends of friends etc – adding specific senders to the filters where they are not on Facebook. Meanwhile other messages all go through to a separate inbox that can be checked as desired. The plan is that contacts can easily be moved between the social inbox and the “other” folder. A separate spam folder is also to be offered. Facebook will also allow users to choose settings that will simply allow or disallow senders from messaging them at all.
As for the email address itself, on June 13th Facebook made it possible for their users to choose a username on the system that would be used as part of the profile address, my profile address for example is http://www.facebook.com/james.herbert. Now, once activated (the service is optional), this same username can used as part of a standard email address, giving me email@example.com. A degree of email integration was quietly launched a short while back with the new improved Facebook Groups feature, allowing group administrators to choose an @groups.facebook.com address with which they could post content directly to the groups wall by email.
The announcement stated that the new service will start to be rolled out slowly as of today using an invite system, it is expected to take a few months to roll out completely across Facebook.
In the early hours of 29th May, 1892, Baha’u'llah, the prophet founder of the Bahá’í Faith, passed away. At 3am each year (4am with clocks adjusted for British summer time) Bahá’ís around the globe commemorate this event. In North-East England we have a tradition of doing so near St Mary’s Lighthouse along the coastline at Whitley Bay. This allows us, weather permitting, to witness the sun rising over the North Sea shortly after our programme of commemoration.
For a short photographic journey through the life of Bahá’u'lláh I recommend this site. Bahá’u'lláh had implied that His passing was close for some time prior to Him contracting a fever on the evening of 7th May 1892. During the weeks of resting that began, Bahá’u'lláh received several guests and encouraged His followers to be hold fast to unity and be steadfast in their obedience to the Light of God’s Laws.
Shortly into the third week of His fever, while speaking to an assemblage of guests gathered around His bed in the Mansion House of Bahji (pictured above), Bahá’u'lláh quoted the following two verses from the Kitáb-i-Aqdas (The Most Holy Book):
“Say: Let not your hearts be perturbed, O people, when the glory of My Presence is withdrawn, and the ocean of My utterance is stilled. In My presence amongst you there is a wisdom, and in My absence there is yet another, inscrutable to all but God, the Incomparable, the All-Knowing. Verily, We behold you from Our realm of glory, and shall aid whosoever will arise for the triumph of Our Cause with the hosts of the Concourse on high and a company of Our favoured angels.”
“Be not dismayed, O peoples of the world, when the day-star of My beauty is set, and the heaven of My tabernacle is concealed from your eyes. Arise to further My Cause, and to exalt My Word amongst men. We are with you at all times, and shall strengthen you through the power of truth. We are truly almighty. Whoso hath recognized Me will arise and serve Me with such determination that the powers of earth and heaven shall be unable to defeat his purpose.”
It was clear that Bahá’u'lláh was expecting His earthly life to come to an end. On the 21st day of His fever, at the age of 75, on the 29th May, eight hours after sunset, Bahá’u'lláh passed away. Bahá’ís refer to this event as the Ascension of Bahá’u'lláh, the moment His reality ascended to the worlds of the Spirit.
Baháu’lláh’s remains are still buried next to the Mansion House of Bahji, in the shrine shown below. This Shrine is a place of pilgrimage for Bahá’ís and we also face toward it when saying a particular daily prayer. In order that the community may remain united Bahá’u'lláh made it clear in a tablet that His son, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, was to be the central guiding figure for the Bahá’ís after His own passing.
Here in the North-East around 20 of us gathered near St. Mary’s Lighthouse shortly before 3:45am to say some prayers, read some of Bahá’u'lláh’s Writings and remind ourselves ofsome of the detail surrounding the event in 1892. We came from as far south away as Durham and Chester-le-Street for the event. In Newcastle we have a Baha’i Centre but we cannot use it for public events at 4am so we encourage people to attend this coastal commemoration. Many Baha’i prefer to stay at home, of course, and remember the event in privacy, and warmth.
St. Mary’s Lighthouse was itself decommissioned in 1984, so the dim dawning light of the sun was all that was lighting us when our programme started. We started with The Tablet of Visitation, a fairly long prayer generally reserved for special occasions, read in Polish by our enthusiastic Polish Baha’i, Pawel. We ended with the English version about 20 minutes later, by which time the sky was beginning to herald the start of a new day and the dawn light was stronger than the light of a cloudy day.
Regular and very much appreciated attendees of these occasions are a couple called Ladan and Jeff who, along with their children, usually come with their campervan and a bar-b-que and then very kindly offer drinks and breakfast to everybody. Their bar-b-que is almost as welcome for the heat it gives off as it is for the food it cooks!After the programme it is almost a tradition for some of us to wander down to the lighthouse and quietly walk around the rocks there, but access to the lighthouse is conditional on the tides and this year the tide was high and the path to lighthouse was underwater.
Below are a few more pictures of Baháí’ís and their friends or family at the event (the people are small silhouettes in the top one).
Back in 2006 I posted this article giving the locations of various Baha’i sites for anybody wanting to zoom in on them in Google Maps or Google Earth. Back then a couple of the buildings were obscured by clouds, those clouds are now gone and, if you have 3D Buildings turned on, you can now fly around 3D models of the exteriors to most of the buildings.
The Shrine of Baha’u’llah: 32°56’36.86″N, 35° 5’30.38″E The Shrine of The Bab: 32°48’52.49″N, 34°59’13.91″E Baha’i House of Worship, America:
42°04’27.92″N, 87°41’03.71″W Baha’i House of Worship, Australia:
33°41’07.52″S, 151°15’31.32″E Baha’i House of Worship, Germany:
50°06’47.23″N, 8°23’47.93″E Baha’i House of Worship, India:
28°33’12.11″N, 77°15’30.97″E Baha’i House of Worship, Panama:
9° 3′ 34.90″ N 79° 31′ 13.75″ W Baha’i House of Worship, Uganda:
0°21’51.96″N, 32°35’19.06″E Baha’i House of Worship, W. Samoa:
13° 54′ 9.37″ S 171° 46′ 34.45″ W The Guardian’s Resting Place (not 3D): 51°37’21.85″N, 0°08’35.57″W
Above is the Baha’i House of Worship in Illinois, USA, below is the House of Worship in New Delhi, India. You can appear to fly inside the buildings using Google Earth but the interior has not been recreated.
23rd May is the anniversary of the event that marks the starting year of the Baha’i Calendar, the Declaration of The Báb, the moment that the fore-runner of Bahá’ú’llah first revealed His station to somebody. It took place approximately 2 hours and 11 minutes after sunset on 22nd May 1844. As with many episodes from the history of the Bahá’i and Bábí faiths, the story of the events leading up to that moment makes good reading. I will not say much more here, rather I shall link to this much fuller article I posted here some years back
I always like to pause and savour the moment, or reflect, on anniversaries -including those from other Faiths and significant past events – when I am aware of them. I find it particularly potent to do so when these events have a time associated with them. Interestingly, while with most events in the world we take the anniversary as being the time that corresponds to when it happened in the place that it happened, Bahá’í anniversaries tend to be remembered at the local time that matches what the local time was in the place it happened. The result of this is that, rather than everyone in the world marking the moment at the same time, there is a 24 hour wave of events and inidividual remembrance that circles the planet with the sun (or with the time zones).
While it may have been about 2 hours and 11 minutes after sunset that The Báb declared Himself to be a Prophet, the whole day is considered to be the anniversary (the Bahá’í day being from sunrise to sunset) and so many Bahá’í communities hold their celebration at a time that isn’t so late at night. As Newcastle community has a Bahá’í Centre adjoined to residential property we have to hold our event early the following evening (so ours is at 6:30 tonight).
(BWNS) On 14 May, the Iranian Bahai leaders enter their third year of imprisonment without having been convicted of any crime. They are, top from left, Behrouz Tavakkoli, Fariba Kamalabadi, Vahid Tizfahm, and Mahvash Sabet; bottom from left, Jamaloddin Khanjani, Saeid Rezaie, and Afif Naeimi.
Tomorrow night the Bahá’í community of Newcastle-upon-Tyne will be having a special prayer meeting for the Bahá’ís in Iran, as the seven sacrificial souls pictured above enter their third year in prison and the Iranian Bahá’í community as a whole face continued persecution.
Referred to as leaders for ease of reference, the prisoners served as an informal body called the Yaran, or “Friends,” and attended to the spiritual and social needs of the Baha’is in Iran. The seven have been held in Tehran’s Evin prison since they were arrested in 2008 - Mrs. Sabet on 5th March and the remainder of them on 14th May.
The Bahá’í World News Service reported on 10th May that:
As seven Baha’i leaders in Iran enter their third year of imprisonment, new details about the harsh conditions of their incarceration have emerged, prompting renewed calls for their immediate release…
“These innocent Baha’is have now been locked up for two full years in Tehran’s notorious Evin prison, under conditions which clearly violate international standards,” said Bani Dugal, the principal representative of the Baha’i International Community to the United Nations. “We call on the Iranian authorities to release them now, and ask the international community to join us in this plea. The dictates of justice demand no less.”
“No court hearing was held until 12 January this year when they appeared in Branch 28 of the Revolutionary Court. Charges including espionage, propaganda activities and “corruption on earth” were all denied. Further appearances took place on 7 February and 12 April.
“In the three trial sessions that have so far taken place, no evidence has been provided whatsoever of wrongdoing – making it all the more obvious that the prisoners are being held only because of their religious belief,” said Ms. Dugal.
“If their freedom is not immediately granted, at the very least they should be released on bail. Steps should be taken to ensure that their trial is expedited and conducted fairly, in accordance with international standards,” she said.
Severe prison conditions
Friday marks the second anniversary of the group’s imprisonment, and details continue to emerge about the severe conditions under which they are being held. It is known, for example, that the two women and five men are confined to two cells which are so small that they restrict adequate movement or rest.
“They have neither beds nor bedding,” said Ms. Dugal.
United4Iran, a human rights network, asked sympathizers around the world to replicate the dimensions of the cells in Evin prison and photograph themselves confined to the space.
The place has a rancid smell, and they are permitted to have fresh air for only two hours each week. They have a light that if turned off during the day makes it impossible for them to see anything.
“Contact with their loved ones is restricted to one 10-minute telephone call a week, or visits which are mostly conducted through a glass barrier,” Ms. Dugal said.
“Such inhumane conditions show no regard for the principles outlined in international agreements for the treatment of prisoners, which provide that no one may be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment,” she said.
“The prisoners’ own requests for modest improvements to their conditions remain unaddressed, and as a consequence their health is suffering.
“These people are innocent, and there is no reason they should be made to suffer like this,” she said.
According to the journalist Roxana Saberi – who shared a cell for three weeks with two of the Baha’i prisoners – the women are confined in a small space. “They roll up a blanket to use as a pillow,” she said. “The floor is cement and covered with only a thin, brown carpet, and prisoners often get backaches and bruises from sleeping on it. … When I was with them, we were allowed into a walled-in cement yard four days a week for 20 to 30 minutes.”
Today, April 10th, is our 6th wedding anniversary, or our “sugar” anniversary according to British tradition. I decided that today I would share a couple of things from our wedding that will give an insight into the Baha’i wedding ceremony.
Firstly I have a video of our friend Rob Weinberg introducing the ceremony and explaining what marriage means in the Baha’i Faith. Below this I have published the prayers and readings that we chose to have read at our wedding. The only obligatory part of a Baha’i wedding is the wedding vow itself, which is “We will all, verily, abide by the Will of God”, everything else the couple may choose for themselves. The vow itself may seem very simple, but as Rob explains in the video, it has a lot of meaning…
The Bahá’í Wedding Ceremony of Miss Ladan Davarpanah
Mr James Herbert
O God, my God! These are Thy feeble servants; they are Thy loyal bondsmen and Thy handmaidens, who have bowed themselves down before Thine exalted Utterance and humbled themselves at Thy Threshold of light, and borne witness to Thy oneness through which the Sun hath been made to shine in midday splendor. They have listened to the summons Thou didst raise from out Thy hidden Realm, and with hearts quivering with love and rapture, they have responded to Thy call.
O Lord, shower upon them all the outpourings of Thy mercy, rain down upon them all the waters of Thy grace. Make them to grow as beauteous plants in the garden of heaven, and from the full and brimming clouds of Thy bestowals and out of the deep pools of Thine abounding grace make Thou this garden to flower, and keep it ever green and lustrous, ever fresh and shimmering and fair.
Thou art, verily, the Mighty, the Exalted, the Powerful, He Who alone, in the heavens and on the earth, abideth unchanged. There is none other God save Thee, the Lord of manifest tokens and signs.
Know thou of a certainty that Love is the secret of God’s holy Dispensation, the manifestation of the All-Merciful, the fountain of spiritual outpourings. Love is heaven’s kindly light, the Holy Spirit’s eternal breath that vivifieth the human soul. Love is the cause of God’s revelation unto man, the vital bond inherent, in accordance with the divine creation, in the realities of things. Love is the one means that ensureth true felicity both in this world and the next. Love is the light that guideth in darkness, the living link that uniteth God with man, that assureth the progress of every illumined soul. Love is the most great law that ruleth this mighty and heavenly cycle, the unique power that bindeth together the divers elements of this material world, the supreme magnetic force that directeth the movements of the spheres in the celestial realms. Love revealeth with unfailing and limitless power the mysteries latent in the universe. Love is the spirit of life unto the adorned body of mankind, the establisher of true civilization in this mortal world, and the shedder of imperishable glory upon every high-aiming race and nation.
He is God!
O peerless Lord! In Thine almighty wisdom Thou hast enjoined marriage upon the peoples, that the generations of men may succeed one another in this contingent world, and that ever, so long as the world shall last, they may busy themselves at the Threshold of Thy oneness with servitude and worship, with salutation, adoration and praise. “I have not created spirits and men, but that they should worship me.” Wherefore, wed Thou in the heaven of Thy mercy these two birds of the nest of Thy love, and make them the means of attracting perpetual grace; that from the union of these two seas of love a wave of tenderness may surge and cast the pearls of pure and goodly issue on the shore of life. “He hath let loose the two seas, that they meet each other: Between them is a barrier which they overpass not. Which then of the bounties of your Lord will ye deny? From each He bringeth up greater and lesser pearls.”
O Thou kind Lord! Make Thou this marriage to bring forth coral and pearls. Thou art verily the All-Powerful, the Most Great, the Ever-Forgiving.
He is the Bestower, the Bounteous! Praise be to God, the Ancient, the Ever-Abiding, the Changeless, the Eternal! He Who hath testified in His Own Being that verily He is the One, the Single, the Untrammelled, the Exalted. We bear witness that verily there is no God but Him, acknowledging His oneness, confessing His singleness. He hath ever dwelt in unapproachable heights, in the summits of His loftiness, sanctified from the mention of aught save Himself, free from the description of aught but Him.
And when He desired to manifest grace and beneficence to men, and to set the world in order, He revealed observances and created laws; among them He established the law of marriage, made it as a fortress for well-being and salvation, and enjoined it upon us in that which was sent down out of the heaven of sanctity in His Most Holy Book. He saith, great is His glory: “Marry, O people, that from you may appear he who will remember Me amongst My servants; this is one of My commandments unto you; obey it as an assistance to yourselves.”
The Bahá’í Marriage Vows
James: “We will all, verily, abide by the Will of God”
Ladan: “We will all, verily, abide by the Will of God”
This will be chanted in Persian, below is an English translation of the prayer:
O my Lord, O my Lord! These two bright orbs are wedded in Thy love, conjoined in servitude to Thy Holy Threshold, united in ministering to Thy Cause. Make Thou this marriage to be as threading lights of Thine abounding grace, O my Lord, the All-Merciful, and luminous rays of Thy bestowals, O Thou the Beneficent, the Ever-Giving, that there may branch out from this great tree boughs that will grow green and flourishing through the gifts that rain down from Thy clouds of grace.
Verily Thou art the Generous, verily Thou art the Almighty, verily Thou art the Compassionate, the All-Merciful.
Glory be unto Thee, O my God! Verily, this thy servant and this Thy maidservant have gathered under the shadow of Thy mercy and they are united through Thy favour and generosity. O Lord! Assist them in this Thy world and Thy kingdom and destine for them every good through Thy bounty and grace. O Lord! Confirm them in Thy servitude and assist them in Thy service. Suffer them to become the signs of Thy Name in Thy world and protect them through Thy bestowals which are inexhaustible in this world and the world to come. O Lord! They are supplicating the kingdom of Thy mercifulness and invoking the realm of Thy singleness. Verily, they are married in obedience to Thy command. Cause them to become the signs of harmony and unity until the end of time. Verily, Thou art the Omnipotent, the Omnipresent and the Almighty!
In this glorious Cause the life of a married couple should resemble the life of the angels in heaven – a life full of joy and spiritual delight, a life of unity and concord, a friendship both mental and physical. The home should be orderly and well- organized. Their ideas and thoughts should be like the rays of the sun of truth and the radiance of the brilliant stars in the heavens. Even as two birds they should warble melodies upon the branches of the tree of fellowship and harmony. They should always be elated with joy and gladness and be a source of happiness to the hearts of others. They should set an example to their fellow-men, manifest a true and sincere love towards each other and educate their children in such a manner as to blazon the fame and glory of their family.
Now you will feel no rain,
For each of you will be shelter to the other.
Now you will feel no cold,
For each of you will be warmth to the other.
Now there is no more loneliness,
For each of you will be companion to the other.
Now you are two bodies,
But there is only one life before you.
Go now to your dwelling place
To enter into the days of your togetherness
And may your days be good and long upon the earth.
At 17:32 GMT tonight (20th March) the sun crossed over the equator into the northern hemisphere. This event, called the vernal equinox, marks the beginning of springtime in the northern hemisphere and, in many traditions, the beginning of the new year.
The Bahá’í new year, starting at sunset on 20th March, is timed to be close to this event. This evening I had the pleasure of getting to our local celebration in Newcastle, a fairly modest affair with a short introduction about Naw-Ruz and the month of fasting that precedes it, followed by a few prayers and then a lot of food, some of which (a cashew nut and almond dhal and two pizzas) I had the joy of preparing and taking along. We share the task of providing food on these occasions, aside from your own dish you have no idea what will be on offer, it’s called a pot-luck dinner. As it happens all of us were expecting many more people than actually showed up, so it’s pizza and dhal for breakfast tomorrow too!
Counting from the date on which The Báb, the fore-runner of Baha’u'llah (who is the prophet founder of the Baha’i Faith), declared His mission in 1844, we have just entered the year 167 B.E. on the Baha’i calendar, and so I take this opportunity to wish all my reader/s a very happy Naw-Ruz, Baha’i or not, may the coming year bring much love, joy and happiness to your heart!
Below is a letter from Prime Minister Gordon Brown to the Baha’is of the United Kingdom:
It gives me great pleasure to send my warm regards to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’is of the United Kingdom on the occasion of your annual reception.
This has been a difficult year for many Baha’is and I was deeply concerned to hear of the trial of the Yaran in January and of the arrest of other Baha’i members during the unrest in Iran during Ashura. Your dignity in the face of such discrimination is admirable and I have the utmost regard for your principles of equality and human rights.
I hope that this year brings both peace and prosperity to you all, and that in the months to come there can be a change for the better in the Iranian authorities’ attitude towards the Baha’i community in Iran.
[Signed: Gordon Brown]
And the following is from Leader of the opposition, David Cameron MP:
I am delighted to send you my best wishes as you celebrate the Baha’i New Year at the reception on 22 March.
The New Year is always a time for spending with friends, family and the wider community, and for looking forward to the months ahead.
It is also a time for considering many of the principles which the Baha’i community hold dear – like social justice, and a concern for the environment – which are of importance to our society today.
May I send my good wishes to you and your families at this time.