Tag Archives: Baha’i related

Google Earth Locations 3D

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
Bahai House of Worship in Wilmette on Google EarthBaha’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.

Bahai House of Worship, Lotus Temple, New Delhi on Google Earth

2 hours and 11 minutes

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).

Link: The Declaration of The Báb

Two new members elected to Universal House of Justice

[BWNS: http://news.bahai.org/story/762]

20 March 2010

HAIFA, Israel — The Universal House of Justice has announced the results of a by-election for two of its nine members.

The new members are Stephen Birkland and Stephen Hall, elected in balloting in which members of national Baha’i governing bodies around the world serve as electors. The voting was done by mail, and results were conveyed today to all Baha’i National Spiritual Assemblies.

The Universal House of Justice is the head of the Baha’i Faith. Its permanent seat is at the Baha’i World Centre in Haifa, and all members reside here for the duration of their service.

The regular election of the nine members of the House of Justice occurs every five years at an international convention, held in Haifa. The most recent election was in 2008.

The by-election was necessary to fill two vacancies created when the House of Justice approved the request of two members, Mr. Hooper Dunbar and Dr. Peter Khan, to relinquish their positions owing to their advanced age and the heavy burden of work involved in membership.

nineteen days, book release

We are half way through the Baha’i Fast, where Baha’is abstain from food and drink between sunrise and sunset for 19 days in favour of spiritual nourishment such as meditation or prayer.

For the third year running a group of Baha’i photographers are posting photographs taken at the beginning and end of each fasting day, accompanied with Baha’i quotes and their own thoughts on the website nineteen days.

The site’s authors have also compiled a book to accompany the project, selling as a limited edition run of 250 copies for just US$15.99, it is available from here while stocks last.


Trial of seven Baha’i “leaders” in Iran.

I have been closely watching the news relating to the trial of seven innocent members of the Baha’i Faith who were arrested and held for one year before any charges were made against them.

The Yaran

Referred to as leaders for ease of reference, the seven Baha’is served on an ad-hoc committee dealing with the basic administrative needs of the community, such as marriage. The more official National Spiritual Assembly had been voluntarily disbanded some time earlier when it was ruled by the state, which refuses to recognise the Baha’i Faith as a religion, that it was illegal.

Having been in prison since the first half of 2008, and having had a few trial dates set this year then postponed indefinitely, Monday 12th January finally saw the start of the trial. No observers were allowed into the court. A film crew was seen going into the court with interrogators from the Ministry of Intelligence but, it is reported, even the lawyers for the Baha’is – who had virtually no access to their clients over the last two years – had to argue their way into the court. The families of those arrested had also been promised a chance to meet their loved ones, this was also denied, but another meeting was arranged for this on Thursday and this did, I understand, take place.

In the court on Monday the charges against the seven Baha’is were read out, they are espionage, “propaganda activities against the Islamic order,” the establishment of an illegal administration, cooperation with Israel, the sending of secret documents outside the country, acting against the security of the country, and “corruption on earth.” The last charge carries the death sentence.

These are all baseless allegations which, for the most part, are often made against the Baha’is. It is generally recognised by institutions and human rights organisations around the world – who have again raised their voices in support this week (including Muslim groups) – that Baha’is are arrested for no reason other than their Faith which the Islamic regime in Iran does not approve of. Iranian media reports have accused the Baha’is of being behind recent protests in Iran, along side Western governments and political activists, and of disseminating images around the world of the protests on the streets. They also suggest that it is obvious that Baha’is are spies for “zionist” Israel because we have a Shrine and gardens taking up a large area of Mount Carmel in Haifa and our world-wide administrative base is there.

Baha’is, and friends of the Baha’is around the world have been keeping these seven Baha’is in their prayers and I have no doubt that the power of these prayers was felt and gave strength to the seven as they stood in the court room to hear the charges.

Unfortunately there has been no date set for the continuation of the trial and the seven “leaders” remain in prison indefinitely, awaiting what is expected to be a show trial with a pre-determined conclusion. There has, meanwhile, been an increase in the arrests and harassment of Baha’is as the media play an increasing role in spreading allegations and misinformation about the Baha’i Faith and its Iranian community.

Link: Baha’i World News Service, Iran Update

When is Naw-Ruz?

20th March at Sunset vs  Spring Equinox

Praised be Thou, O my God, that Thou hast ordained Naw-Ruz as a festival unto those who have observed the fast for love of Thee and abstained from all that is abhorrent unto Thee.”

For Baha’is in the west, the festival of Naw-Ruz is always March 21st (from sunset on the 20th), in Iran the new year celebration of Naw-Ruz starts at whatever time the Spring (Vernal) Equinox occurs, which will be at 3:14pm in Tehran tomorrow (or 11:44 GMT).

The Baha’i calendar also places Naw-Ruz at the same time as the Spring Equinox in the northern hemisphere, but rather than beginning at the time of the equinox, the Baha’i Naw-Ruz celebration is intended to be celebrated on the Baha’i day (sunset to sunset) during which this occurs.

“The Festival of Naw-Ruz falleth on the day that the sun entereth the sign of Aries, even should this occur no more than one minute before sunset.”

However, this aspect of the calendar has not been implemented yet and was left for the Universal House of Justice to implement. Shoghi Effendi, Guardian of the Baha’i Faith, stated that this would require that a particular spot on earth be chosen as the standard for fixing the time of the spring equinox. Otherwise the festival of Naw-Ruz would fall on different days according to where you lived in the world, for example this year Naw-Ruz would fall on March 20th for Baha’is living in Iran, Europe and the USA but would fall on March 21st for Baha’is living in Australasia.

The Universal House of Justice, aware that Baha’is in Iran use the time of the Spring Equinox to determine the start of Naw-Ruz, have stated that they do not see this as an urgent matter and that, until such a time as this has been decided upon, the Baha’is of the West should observe Naw-Ruz on 21st March (from sunset on the 20th), whatever day the spring equinox may fall upon.

“Grant, O my Lord, that the fire of Thy love and the heat produced by the fast enjoined by Thee may inflame them in Thy Cause, and make them to be occupied with Thy praise and with remembrance of Thee.”

(All quotes from Baha’u’llah, Kitab-i-Aqdas and Baha’i Prayers)

Remembering the Baha’is in Iran

25 years on, sister of executed Bahá’í prays for change
Few incidents in Iran of recent decades have been more shocking than the group execution of ten Bahá’í women in Shiraz on 18 June 1983. Their crime? Teaching children following the government’s ban on Bahá’í pupils from attending schools… (continue reading on Baha’i News UK)

The above article refers to ten young women in Iran, 25 years ago today, who were killed for being Bahá’í. One of them, Shrin Dalvand, was Ladan’s aunt.

Most of Shirin’s family were living in the UK by 1983, when Shirin was arrested a visiting card was issued to a family member to see her in prison before the execution, below is a photo of that visiting card, enlarged is the section where the crime is detailed, in that space it simply has the letter “B”.

Between 1979 and 1998 more than 200 members of the Bahá’í Faith were killed in Iran. The persecution of the Bahá’í, however, did not stop with the last execution. Two years ago the Bahá’í community found evidence that a systematic campaign was under way to identify members of the Bahá’í Faith and monitor their activities. Bahá’í youth, who had earlier been permitted to return to education when universities sopped asking a person’s religion upon enrolment, are again being denied access to, or continuation of, higher education at the point where it becomes known that they are Bahá’í.

Most recently, seven individuals who formed an ad-hoc coordinating committee for the Bahá’í in Iran , were arrested and are being held incommunicado.

Mrs. Fariba Kamalabadi, Mr. Jamaloddin Khanjani, Mr. Afif Naeimi, Mr. Saeid Rezaie, Mr. Behrouz Tavakkoli, and Mr. Vahid Tizfahm were arrested in Tehran on 14th may, Mrs. Mahvash Sabet was arrested in Mashhad on 5th March.

The Bahá’í community, around the world, are seriously concerned for their safety in this escalation which is reminiscent of similar events in the early 80’s when members of two national governing bodies of the Iranian Bahá’í either went missing or were executed.

More on this story can be read here

Memorial for Dr. ‘Ali-Muhammad Varqa

“In the early hours of last night, revered, greatly admired, well-loved Hand of the Cause of God Dr. ‘Ali-Muhammad Varqa departed this earthly plane after a period of outstanding, consecrated service to the Blessed Beauty that spanned many decades.”

[The Universal House of Justice, 23rd September 2007]

On Sunday afternoon (25th November) I attended the United Kingdom’s national memorial service for Hand of the Cause of God Dr. ‘Ali-Muhammad Varqa. By my count there were about six hundred people present at Ealing Town Hall to mark the end of both a life of devoted service on the part of Dr. Varqa and the end of the institution (for want of a better word) of the Hands of the Cause of God, of whom Dr. Varqa was the last surviving member.

The programme for the event looked like this…


Ealing Town Hall, Sunday 25 November 2007

Music – Tomaso Albioni, Adagio in G minor

Welcome from the National Spiritual Assembly
of the Baha’is of the United Kingdom

Message to the Baha’is of the World from the Universal House of Justice,
23 September 2007

Prayer of ‘Abdu’l-Baha, Bisharatu’n-Nur, p.411

Prayer of Baha’u’llah, “He is God, exalted is He…”

Persian Chant – the voice of Mrs Rawhaniyyih Varqa

Music – “Porporo” from the soundtrack Farinelli

Prayer of Baha’u’llah, “Create in me a pure heart…”

From a Tablet of Baha’u’llah, “Know thou of a truth…”, Gleanings, pp.161-2

Music – Christoph Willibald Gluck, “Dance of the Blessed Spirits”

Prayer of Baha’u’llah on Huquq’u’llah, , Baha’i Prayers, pp.287-8

Prayer of ‘Abdu’l-Baha, Majmu’iyyih Munajatha Hadrat-i’Abdu’l-Baha, pp.276-8

Music – From the Stabat Mater by Antonio Bononcini

Prayer of ‘Abdu’l-Baha, “O my God! O my God! Verily, thy servant…”

Music – Baha’u’llah, From the Lawh-i-Dunya,
“Light and glory, greeting and praise”

Audio-Visual Presentations

Eulogies – Dr Faraneh Vargha-Khadem and Mr ‘Ali Nakhjavani

Prayer of ‘Abdu’l-Baha, Bisharatu’n-Nur, p.491


This programme, which started just after 3pm, called on us to reflect upon the life of man who was destined, from birth, to become a devoted servant of Baha’u’llah. His name was given to him by ‘Abdu’l-Baha in memory of his grandfather who was a Baha’i martyr (executed for his beliefs) and he was appointed to the station of Hand of the Cause by Shoghi Effendi following the passing of his father in 1955. His father, Valiyu’llah Varqa, was also a Hand of the Cause of God.

Born in January 1912, Dr. Ali-Muhammad Varqa studied economics and history in Tehran and got married in 1935 to Rawhaniyyih Muhtadi, whose voice was heard chanting a prayer during the memorial meeting. Together they had three daughters, Elahe, Nadieh and Faraneh, the latter of whom shared some moving words about her father, on the families behalf toward the end of the programme.

In the late 1940’s Dr Varqa was given a grant to study in Paris and he was awarded a doctorate from the Sorbonne in 1950. After this he returned to Iran to work as a professor and was a very active figure in the Baha’i community there. He also helped his father with his work as the Trustee of the fund of Huququ’llah, a form of voluntary tax to which Baha’is should give 19% of their profits, after necessary expenses, once they amount to a certain sum. When his father passed away in 1955 the role of Trustee of that fund also fell to Dr Varqa, a role in which he served longer than anybody else to date.

Mr. ‘Ali Nakhjavani, a former member of the Universal House of Justice who spoke about the life and service of Dr. ‘Ali-Muhammad Varqa at the end of the memorial programme, shared some thoughts on the special relationship that Dr. Varqa had with some of the countries that he visited, including many French speaking ones, which he was often asked to visit because of his good command of the French language. Dr Varqa was present at the formation of the first National Spiritual Assembly of several countries around the world, and maintained a close, father-like fondness and communication with them. Below is a photo of him present at the formation of the first National Spiritual Assembly of Congo and Gabon in 1971.

The Audio-Visual content of the programme included photographs and video footage from the memorial gathering in the Holy Land and of his funeral procession and burial in the Baha’i cemetery in Haifa. It also contained extracts from a video in which Amatu’l-Baha Ruhiyyih Khanum, ‘Ali Akbar Furutan and Dr. ‘Ali-Muhammad Varqa (who were the last three surviving Hands of the Cause), shared some memories together.

The programme was very good. The only slight shame was that the audio visual presentation included a lot of the information that Mr. ‘Ali Nakhjavani had also prepared to share with us, which took a little of the shine of his presentation, especially with his eulogy coming at the end of a fairly long programme, but it was still a privilege to hear from somebody who had known and served alongside Dr. Varqa in a distinguished role. Mr. Nakhjavani finished his eulogy with a new provisional translation he had managed to acquire of a very beautiful prayer by ‘Abdu’l-Baha, before the official closing prayer ended official proceedings a little under three hours after they had started.

Below is te full text of the message sent by the Univeral House of Justice to the Baha’is of the world following the passing of Dr. Varqa:

23 September 2007

To the Baha’is of the World

In the early hours of last night, revered, greatly admired, well-loved Hand of the Cause of God Dr. ‘Ali-Muhammad Varqa departed this earthly plane after a period of outstanding, consecrated service to the Blessed Beauty that spanned many decades.

With grieving hearts we bid farewell to the last of that noble company, the Chief Stewards of Baha’u’llah’s embryonic World Commonwealth, into which he is now gathered in realms of deathless delight and joy. The fervor of his love for the teaching work inspired countless believers across the globe, whether at the events he attended as the representative of the Guardian or of the Universal House of Justice, or in his extensive travels to promote the goals of the Master’s Divine Plan. In such activities he contributed mightily to the progress of the Ten Year Crusade and subsequent global teaching plans. Until his final days, he was leonine in his determination to protect the Faith. He wore with marked distinction the mantle of Trustee of Huququ’llah that fell to him from the shoulders of his illustrious father, impressing a record of imperishable achievement on the annals of the Formative Age — achievement which has set a pattern that secures important features for the operation into the future of that divinely ordained institution. Throughout the many years of his valiant endeavor to maintain the integrity of the two offices of so high a rank to which he was simultaneously elevated, his manner was imbued with a luminous gentleness, a genuine kindliness and a natural dignity which combined to reflect the character of a saintly personality. For these exemplary traits he will ever be remembered. Our heartfelt sympathy reaches out to the members of his dear family in their sad loss, which is shared by the entire Baha’i community. With deeply held trust in the bounties of the Graciou s Lord, we pray at the Sacred Threshold for the progress of his resplendent soul throughout the divine worlds.

We advise the friends in all lands to commemorate his passing and request befitting memorial services in his honor at all Houses of Worship.

The Universal House of Justice

(photos copyright of the Baha’i International Community)