Tag Archives: Baha’i related

Ridvan 163BE

Happy Ridvan!

The Ridvan festival (21st April-2nd May) is the most sacred time of the year, and the holiest of all Baha’i festivals.


The word Ridvan is an Arabic word that broadly means “Paradise”. It commemorates the twelve days Baha’u’llah spent in a garden in Baghdad while preparing to leave for Constantinople (the capital of Turkey, now Istanbul), wishing farewell to its residents. It was then that He first told people of His station as a Manifestation of God.

There are no exact details on how this happened. It is generally believed that Baha’u’llah probably chose to tell just a few close companions , first hand accounts come from His son and daughter, Abdu’l-Baha and Bahiyyih Khanum and it seems He asked them to keep it a secret at this stage, in order to introduce people gradually to the reality of His station.

It had been ten years since Baha’u’llah’s first banishment from Tehran in Persia to Baghdad in modern-day Iraq. In that time He had, in the face of immense challenges, succeeded in uniting the Babi community as well as winning the respect and admiration of the local government and populace. While in Baghdad almost all of the surviving leaders of the Babi Faith went to visit Baha’u’llah and endorsed Him as the (unofficial) leader of their community.

When the officials of the Persian government exiled Baha’u’llah to Baghdad, it was to stamp out his growing popularity. After ten years, they realised this wasn’t working, and pressured the Ottoman government to move Him much further away to Istanbul (then known as Constantinople) the capital of the Ottoman Empire. Baha’u’llah had become a very highly respected figure in Baghdad society, and the summons had to be offered as a polite invitation.

Baha’u’llah pitched His tent in a garden outside the city, over the river Tigris, on 21st April, so He could bid farewell to visitors in a place other than His house so it was easier for His family to pack. The next day He left His House in Baghdad for the last time a day later and travelled to the garden. A crowd had gathered to see Baha’u’llah leave – Babi and non-Babi alike – and lined the streets as He walked. There was a tumultuous display of grief from the gathered crowd with people crying and chanting. Once camped in the garden he received a constant throng of visitors and well-wishers. The roses were in bloom and each morning, hundreds of fresh-picked roses would lie in piles in the tents, and the visitors would be given these roses as gifts.

Most Baha’i elections are held during Ridvan, a practice which started in Abdu’l-Baha’s lifetime. You might well be in a community electing its Local Spiritual Assembly round about now, for instance. The National Spiritual Assembly is also elected in Ridvan, at National Convention, and so is the Universal House of Justice, every five years. The House of Justice writes a letter to the Baha’i World every Ridvan, summarising the year’s progress and setting future challenges.

Gregorian Dates of special Bahá’í days in coming years. Click to enlarge.

Egypt ruling recognising Bahai rights

CAIRO, 6 Apr 2006 (IRIN) – Human rights activists have welcomed a landmark ruling by the Administrative Court recognising the right of Egyptian Bahais to have their religion acknowledged on official documents.

The decision, announced on 4 April, “sent a strong message that it is the right of every Egyptian citizen to adopt the religion of their choice”, said Hossam Bahgat, director of the Egyptian Initiative for Private Rights (EIPR).

The ruling is the result of a lawsuit filed by a married Bahai couple against Interior Minister Habib al-Adly in June 2004. According to an EIPR statement, officials from the Civil Status Department (CSD) confiscated the couple’s official documentation because it cited their religious affiliation as Bahai, a creed founded by Baha’u’llah in Iran in the 19th century which is unrecognised in this majority Sunni Muslim country. “The CSD refused to issue new identification documents unless the family agreed to identify themselves as Muslim,” the EIPR statement reads.

According to activists, the ruling in favour of the family was partly a result of intense lobbying efforts by rights groups. “This is a landmark case. We feel our efforts have paid off,” said Gamal Eid, director of the Arab Network for Human Rights Information. “The authorities felt so threatened with exposure that they backed down and ruled in favour of the Bahais’ inherent rights.”

The ruling reaffirms a similar decision on the right of Bahais to identify themselves as such on formal records and certificates, issued in 1983. “However, in 2004, the interior ministry’s CSD reinstated the policy of forcing Bahais to identify as Muslim or Christian,” notes the EIPR statement. The plaintiff in the 1983 case eventually backed down after his daughters were threatened with expulsion from school”

UN Fears for Baha’is in Iran

UNITED NATIONS, 20 March 2006 (BWNS)

Representatives of the Baha’i International Community reacted with alarm today to a United Nations official’s statement about actions of the Iranian government against the Baha’is in Iran.

The United Nations Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief, Asma Jahangir, stated that she was highly concerned and expressed her apprehensions in a press release posted today about “a confidential letter sent on 29 October 2005 by the Chairman of the Command Headquarters of the Armed Forces in Iran to a number of governmental agencies.”

“The letter,” she said, “which is addressed to the Ministry of Information, the Revolutionary Guard and the Police Force, states that the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, had instructed the Command Headquarters to identify persons who adhere to the Baha’i faith and monitor their activities. The letter goes on to request the recipients to, in a highly confidential manner, collect any and all information about members of the Baha’i faith.”

“We are grateful that Ms. Jahangir has brought this activity to light,” said Bani Dugal, the Baha’i International Community’s principal representative to the UN. “We share her concern for the welfare of the Baha’is and shudder to think what this might mean. Because of the unprecedented character of the government’s action, we are addressing a request to the Ambassador of Iran for an explanation.”

Ms. Jahangir also “considers that such monitoring constitutes an impermissible and unacceptable interference with the rights of members of religious minorities.”

“The Special Rapporteur’s concern that such information could be ‘used as a basis for the increased persecution of, and discrimination against, members of the Baha’i faith’ is clearly well-founded,” said Ms. Dugal.

Such actions come in the wake of mounting media attacks on the Baha’is, the nature of which in the past have preceded government-led assaults on the Baha’is in Iran. “Kayhan,” the official Tehran daily newspaper has carried more than 30 articles about the Baha’is and their religion in recent weeks, all defamatory in ways that are meant to create provocation. Radio and television programs have joined in as well with broadcasts condemning the Baha’is and their beliefs. In addition, the rise in influence in Iranian governmental circles of the Anti-Baha’i Society, Hojjatieh, an organization committed to the destruction of the Baha’i Faith, can only heighten the fears for that beleaguered community.

“We well know what hateful propaganda can lead to; recent history offers too many examples of its horrific consequences. We make an urgent appeal to all nations and peoples on behalf of our Iranian coreligionists that they not allow a peace-loving, law-abiding people to face the extremes to which blind hate can lead,” said Ms. Dugal. “The ghastly deeds that grew out of similar circumstances in the past should not now be allowed to happen. Not again.”

Statement by Bani Dugal, Principal Representative of the Baha’i International Community to the United Nations, in the wake of the announcement of the Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief concerning treatment of followers of the Baha’i Faith in Iran
20 March 2006 New York City

The statement of the Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief about recent actions taken by the Government of Iran concerning the Baha’is arouses grave apprehension in the Baha’i International Community about their fate. The Baha’is have been the victims of an unrelenting persecution ever since the revolution of 1979, and one hesitates to think of what horrors could be implied by the combined effort of intelligence, military and police agencies to identify Baha’is and monitor their activities, as has been ordered by the Chairman of the Command Headquarters of the Armed Forces at the direction of the Head of State. We are dreadfully afraid for the lives of our fellow Baha’is in Iran.

Because of the unprecedented character of the Government’s action, we are addressing a request to the Ambassador of Iran for an explanation.

Such actions come in the midst of mounting media attacks on the Baha’is, the nature of which in the past have preceded government-led assaults on them. “Kayhan,” the official Tehran daily newspaper, has carried more than 30 articles about the Baha’is and their religion in recent weeks, all defamatory in ways that are meant to create provocation. Radio and television programs have joined in as well with broadcasts condemning the Baha’is and their beliefs.

We know what hateful propaganda can lead to; recent history offers too many examples of its horrific consequences. We make an urgent plea to all nations and peoples on behalf of our Iranian coreligionists that they not allow a peace-loving, law-abiding people to face the extremes to which blind hate can lead. The ghastly deeds that grew out of similar circumstances in the past should not now be allowed to happen. Not again.


Recent media attacks on the Baha’is in Iran
In recent months, Iranian newspapers and radio stations have been conducting an intensive anti-Baha’i campaign. From September through November 2005 alone, the influential, state-run “Kayhan” newspaper ran nearly three dozen articles defaming the Baha’i Faith with the clear intention of arousing in readers feelings of suspicion, distrust and hatred for the Iranian Baha’i community. The articles engage in a deliberate distortion of history, make use of fake historical documents, and falsely describe Baha’i moral principles in a manner that would be offensive to Muslims.

Before the onset of previous government campaigns of persecution against Baha’is, such as in 1955 and 1979, similarly defamatory articles and radio programs were run against the Baha’is, stirring up animosity and prejudice, apparently to prepare the public for what was to come.

For more information, including copies of the “Kayhan” articles in Persian and summaries in English, please click here.

The Anti-Baha’i Hojjatieh Society
Founded in 1953 as a specifically anti-Baha’i organization by a charismatic Shiite Muslim cleric, the Hojjatieh Society has today reemerged in Iran as an influential if secretive faction that has been linked in news articles and Web blogs with the current Iranian administration.

During the 1979 Iranian revolution, the Society played an important role in stirring animosity against Baha’is. However, in part because of differences in theology — among other things the Hojjatieh believe a truly Islamic state cannot be established until the return of the 12th Imam — the Society fell into disfavor and was banned by the regime in 1984.

Outside observers have connected the Society’s reemergence with the return of hardliners to positions of power in the government, including the president who has frequently stated his expectation that the 12th Imam will return soon.

For more information on the Hojjatieh, please click here.

Hapy Naw Ruz, from the leaders of parliament.

The Baha’i New Year, Naw-Ruz, was celebrated on 21st March. Leaders of the three main political parties in Britain and the First Minister for Scotland have been sent to the Baha’i community to mark the occasion.

A special reception was held at the House of Commons which was attended by over 90 people including MPs, a peer, and officials from a number of departments, as well as members of all the other major faiths in the UK.

From the Prime Minister:

“I am very pleased to be able to send my best wishes to the Baha’i
community on such a special occasion as Naw-Ruz. I am sorry that I
cannot be with you at this festival of hope and celebration.

“I warmly commend all that the Baha’i community does for social
cohesion and better inter-faith relations, which makes such a
valuable contribution to our society. Your commitment to tackling
discrimination and promoting our shared humanity is particularly
important. I hope that this work will become increasingly well-known.

“I trust that all members of the Baha’i community will find in Naw- Ruz a true time of renewal, giving them strength and inspiration for
the year ahead.”

[Signed] Tony Blair

From the Rt. Honourable David Cameron MP, Leader of Her Majesty’s Opposition:

March 2006

Happy Naw-Ruz!

I would like to wish all members of the Baha’i community a very Happy New

There is no doubt that your faith’s belief in the breaking down of barriers
that separate people is a lesson to us all, as we face the national and
international challenges of our day.

The importance you place on principles such as social justice, and the need
to tackle prejudice, has stood the test of time. These principles are as
vital today as they were a century and a half ago.

May I commend also your belief in the value of individual human initiative,
the importance of family life, and the need to strengthen communities and to review and advance society as a whole.

The Naw-Ruz celebration is, itself, an occasion for families and friends to
be brought together. May I once again extend my good wishes to you all at
this time.

[Signed] David Cameron

From Sir Menzies Cambpbell MP, leader of the Liberal Democrat Party:

“On behalf of myself and the Party I now have the honour to
represent, I send all my best wishes to the Baha’i community in the
United Kingdom – and indeed around the world, on this very special
celebration of Naw-Ruz.

“I have enormous respect and admiration for both the philosophy and
culture which the Baha’i faith embraces and represents. Particularly,
I am proud of the work you do in conjunction with my fellow Liberal
Democrat Parliamentarians regarding human rights abroad. I know that
in Iran there is much to do before the Baha’i faith can live without
fear of intimidation or persecution. However, I am confident that
this end will be achieved through our collective effort.

“Please accept my very best wishes for now and the future.”

[Signed] Menzies Campbell

From the First Minister for Scotland, Jack McConnell MSP:

7 March 2006

First Minister of Scotland

Dear Allan,

I am delighted to offer you greetings from Scottish
Ministers for Naw-Ruz, the Baha’i New Year, which
your community will be celebrating on 21 March.

I hope this year will prove to be peaceful for all our
faith communities with a reduction in religious tensions
around the world and at home. In Scotland, we are
committed to addressing such issues by working
closely with our faith communities in an atmosphere
of honesty, inclusion and respect.

We will continue to promote Scotland’s multicultural
and multi-faith society and our Government values the
support of the Baha’i community.

I wish you all a Happy New Year.

Best wishes

[Signed] Jack McConnell

Gregorian Dates of special Bahá’í days in coming years. Click to enlarge.

Guyana Youth try to “Move The World”

GEORGETOWN, Guyana, 9 March 2006 (BWNS)

With an empty Coke bottle for a pint of rum and a white plastic chair the only other prop, the skit performed by five young men and women during a recent meeting of the Future Club here told a story that is unfortunately all too familiar in this vibrant South American country.

A husband drinks too much and beats his wife, shouting and swearing at her for failing to have dinner ready on time. Crying and inconsolably depressed after many such episodes, she decides to take her own life.

However, as performed before an audience of several dozen other young people from every section of this gritty coastal capital one recent day, the young woman’s friends intervene, pleading with her not to take her life.

And so the heroine, played by 16-year-old Rayana Jaundoo, triumphantly throws the poison aside. “I have learned I don’t care what other people do and what other people say,” she says, breaking character and addressing the audience directly. “I can live a positive life.”

Although a little overplayed, it is a happy ending, just the sort encouraged by the young facilitators of an innovative and highly successful youth leadership training program here, known as Youth Can Move the World (YCMTW), which often uses skits, songs and other types of media to drive home its message.

The program focuses on the prevention of alcohol and drug abuse, suicide, HIV/AIDS, and domestic violence. Since its founding in 1997, YCMTW has offered more than 7,000 Guyanese young people strategies aimed at helping them cope with and avoid such problems.

Its success at reaching youth on the margins has been widely recognized, not only by other youth-oriented NGOs but also by the government-run national university, which has given support to YCMTW.

Much of its funding has come from international development agencies and, most recently, researchers at the University of Ulster in Northern Ireland have launched a three-year study on the project’s methods and accomplishments.

“The project in Guyana is quite innovative,” said Roy McConkey, a professor in the health promotion group at the Institute of Nursing Research at the University of Ulster, who is heading up the study. “They manage to do a remarkable amount of work with very little resources.”

Established by the Varqa Foundation, a Baha’i-inspired non-governmental organization based here, YCMTW also emphasizes in its training the importance of — and the possibilities for — personal and community transformation. To do that, the project uses a program of spiritual and moral education produced by the Ruhi Institute of Colombia, which draws quite directly on the Baha’i writings for its motive power.

“From the very beginning of the project, we saw that the only way that genuine change could come about was through community and personal transformation,” said Brian O’Toole, director of YCMTW and chairman of the Varqa Foundation. “We saw that these Baha’i materials were successful around the world.”

Observers say the emphasis on spirituality is an important part of the program.

“The approach of integrating spiritual values, including positive community values, makes it a program with a difference,” said Samuel A. Small, director of the Institute of Distance and Continuing Education at the University of Guyana, which provides end-of-training certification to YCMTW graduates.

“In the [other] youth programs that I know of and have participated in, spiritual values are never part of the core of the curriculum, and personally I believe that because of the tremendous problems that are being brought upon young people today, every effort should be made to help them to see that spiritual values are not taught separately in churches, mosques, temples and so on, but that they are really part and parcel of our every day life skills,” said Mr. Small.

The social problems addressed by the project are by no means unique to Guyana — but they are nevertheless serious concerns in this beautiful tropical country situated on the southern edge of the Caribbean basin.

After Haiti, Guyana has the highest HIV/AIDS rate in the Caribbean, which is the world’s second-most afflicted region after Sub-Saharan Africa, according to the World Health Organization. AIDS has become the leading cause of death for people aged 25-44 in Guyana, according to the WHO.

Domestic violence, unemployment, alcohol and drug abuse are also major problems here.

The program, which has received funding from UNICEF, the European Union, and the InterAmerican Development Bank among other agencies, seeks to fight these problems mainly by educating young people about the risks associated with each behavior.

The facilitators’ manual, for example, discusses the short and long term effects of alcohol, ranging from poor judgment and lowered inhibitions to cirrhosis of the liver and dependency. It explains clearly how HIV/AIDS is transmitted and discusses a range of protective measures, from less risky types of sex to condom use to abstinence.

The curriculum also promotes the development of social action — such as the protection of the environment — and positive moral values. The section on domestic violence, for example, explains ways in which qualities like honesty, compromise, and forgiveness can improve a relationship.

Spiritual ideas, such as the Golden Rule, are also emphasized, underpinned by quotations from the major world religions.

“It comes out of a Baha’i framework, but we have enriched it with spiritual insights from Islam, Christianity, and Hinduism,” said Dr. O’Toole, who came to Guyana with his wife, Pamela, 27 years ago from the United Kingdom.

The incorporation of religious quotations has resonated particularly well in Guyana, said Dr. O’Toole, owing to the distinctive religious diversity of Guyanese society, which is about 50 percent Christian, 35 percent Hindu, and 10 percent Muslim. The remaining five percent belong to other religions, including the Baha’i Faith.

Young people who have participated in YCMTW training say the discussion of spirituality is an important part of the program.

Susan Coocharan, 17, said the program’s balance between practical education and the holy writings of various religions has given her new tools to avoid risky behaviors.

“I used to think that guys were the only thing in life that matters,” said Ms. Coocharan, a Christian from Essequibo in the western part of the country, who participated in an intensive two-month YCMTW training program in July and August 2005. “But when I came to this program it helped me to develop spiritual qualities and it made me see that guys are not the only thing in life.”

Dhanpaul Jairam, 31, has been involved in YCMTW since March 2005, when he received training to become a facilitator. A Hindu, he has since established a YCMTW subgroup in his home village of Bath Settlement in the Berbice region of Guyana, where he has reached out to young people from every religious background.

At first, he said, the Hindus didn’t want to mix with the others. “But I talked about all of the religions,” said Mr. Jairam, who works as a radio telephone operator for the Guyana Sugar Corporation. “I do have a Bible and a Qur’an. And Hindu writings.”

Because of the emphasis on all religions, Mr. Jairam said, young people of all backgrounds were willing to participate. “That is why I think YCMTW is doing a great job of encouraging youth of all walks of life to make of themselves somebody,” said Mr. Jairam.

Another key feature of the project is its use of youth, themselves, as agents of change. By encouraging young volunteers to establish YCMTW groups in their own villages and neighborhoods, it has grown organically as young people themselves involve their friends and acquaintances.

Troy Ben

jamin, 19, started a 17-member YCMTW group in his village in the remote North Rupunui Region after attending the intensive training program last summer.

“I was very much interested, because some of the topics mentioned were dealing with alcohol abuse, domestic violence, and such,” said Mr. Benjamin, who is himself of Native American — or “Amerindian” background — as are most of the other 500 residents of his village. “And I knew that those problems were kind of arising, and I was facing it in my community as a whole.”

Prof. McConkey of the University of Ulster said using young people themselves to deliver health promotion messages is one of the key innovations of the project.

“In affluent countries like the United States and Great Britain, we rely on professional educators, who may well have a special training or special expertise,” said Prof. McConkey. “But they may lack a relationship with young people. Hence we sometimes wonder why our health promotion messages don’t come through.

“The model that they are using, in which local groups are built up, in which [young] people in those groups have knowledge about each other and their own behaviors,” said Prof. McConkey. “I think in that setting people are more likely to be open about what they actually do.”

To see this story and photos please go to: http://news.bahai.org

From the Universal House of Justice

On Friday I received a copy of this very beautiful letter sent to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’is of the UK from the Department of the Secretariat of the Universal House of Justice, the international legislative authority of the Baha’i Faith based on Mount Carmel in Israel and in the vicinity of the Holy Shrines of Baha’u’llah, The Bab and ‘Abdu’l-Baha.


10 May 2005

The National Spiritual Assembly of
the Bahá’ís of the United Kingdom

Dear Bahá’í Friends,

The Universal House of Justice received your email letter dated 5 May 2005. You are assured of its prayers in the Holy Shrines on behalf of Mrs. Ladan Herbert that Bahá’u’lláh may enfold her in His tender mercy and healing grace. Prayers will also be offered for the strength and well-being of her husband and family.

With loving Bahá’í greetings,Department of the Secretariat

The Long Healing Prayer Revised

In the Baha’i Faith we have the blessing of many prayers having been penned by the Prophet Founder of the Faith, Baha’u’llah and by His forerunner The Bab and His son ‘Abdu’l-Baha. Among these prayers are a few invested with a special power and potency, one of which is the Long Healing Prayer.

If you say the Long Healing Prayer quite often then it may interest you to know that the latest editions of Baha’i Prayers to be printed in the United States include a correction over most Baha’i prayer books in circulation, both printed and online.

In the uncorrected version of the prayer the refrain “Thou the Sufficing, Thou the Healing, Thou the Abiding, O Thou Abiding One!” appears 40 times, including once after “I call on Thee O Thou Who slayest the Lovers, O God of Grace to the wicked!”, near the end of the prayer. In the corrected version the refrain appears 39 times and its final repetition is in the verse “I call on Thee O Manifest yet Hidden, O Unseen yet Renowned, O Onlooker sought by all! Thou the Sufficing, Thou the Healing, Thou the Abiding, O Thou Abiding One!”

The corrected section of the prayer, therefore, looks like this:


I call on Thee O Manifest yet Hidden, O Unseen yet Renowned, O Onlooker sought by all! Thou the Sufficing, Thou the Healing, Thou the Abiding, O Thou Abiding One!

I call on Thee O Thou Who slayest the Lovers, O God of Grace to the wicked!

O Sufficer, I call on Thee, O Sufficer!
O Healer, I call on Thee, O Healer!
O Abider, I call on Thee, O Abider!
Thou the Ever-Abiding, O Thou Abiding One!

Sanctified art Thou, O my God! …”

My thanks go to Terry J. Cassiday of the U.S. Baha’i Publishing Trust for confirming this for me.

Project Melody, Baha’i prayers set to music

Link: http://www.projectmelody.com

A Bahá’í Composer, Allen Tyrone Johnson, is sharing his music free of charge to “help individuals worldwide grow closer to God”.

Setting Baha’i prayers to music in their translated english form is a considerable challenge, some shorter prayers are very well known in a musical form such as:

“Is there any Remover of difficulties save God? Say:
Praised be God! He is God! All are His servants, and all abide by His bidding.”


“O God, guide me, protect me, illumine the lamp of my heart and make me a brilliant star. Thou art the Mighty and the Powerful.”

Doug Cameron did a particularly good job with the prayer:

“O God! Refresh and gladden my spirit. Purify my heart. Illumine my powers. I lay all my affairs in Thy hand. Thou art my Guide and my Refuge. I will no longer be sorrowful and grieved; I will be a happy and joyful being. O God! I will no longer be full of anxiety, nor will I let trouble harass me. I will not dwell on the unpleasant things of life.
O God! Thou art more friend to me than I am to myself. I dedicate myself to Thee, O Lord. ”

On the whole, however, longer prayers are difficult to set to music and Allen Tyrone Johnson has taken on the challenge with some much longer prayers, including the Long Healing Prayer. There is another version of the Long Healing Prayer set to music in which the last paragraph is spoken, in Allen Tyrone Johnson’s version the entire prayer is sung. The style of the singing is quite well removed from other prayers I have heard sung, sounding somewhere closer to a young Michael Jackson singing a ballad.

Of the six prayers available on the web site I listened to four of them and quite liked some of them, most particularly the marriage prayer. The Long Healing Prayer, which rarely takes more than ten to fifteen minutes to read, lasts for thirty five minutes which may be a little long to focus on as an individual prayer but would probably make for a meaningful meditation on the names and attributes that are called upon in the prayer, in fact Allen Tyrone Johnson went travelling with his rendition of this prayer calling it the “Long Healing Prayer Musical Devotional Experience.”

Setting prayers to music is a great service to offer the world, I will always remember “O God” Refresh and gladden my spirit…” thanks to Doug Cameron’s lively musical version of it. Making the fruits of these labours available free for everyone to download on the Internet ensures that almost anybody may have the chance to hear this music and benefit from it.

Thanks to the person who posted a comment elsewhere on my site to bring this to my attention.

Inder Manocha in forthcoming BBC drama

Inder Manocha has a supporting role in an adaptartion of Meera Syal’s book “Life isn’t all Ha Ha Hee Hee”.

Inder, who recently won an EMMA for best comedian and is regularly touring with his highly rated comedy act, will star alongside Laila Rouass, Ayesha Dharker, Meera Syal, Sanjeev Bhaskar and Ace Bhatti as well as the other supporting cast of Lalita Ahmed, Indira Joshi and Rani Singh.

Filming is currently underway and the three part drama should air in the spring.

Link: article: Meera, Laila and Ayesha – the trio to lead BBC1 drama

Link: source: Asians In Media

Bahá’í World Centre Recommended as World Heritage Site

Globes [online] – Haifa municipality recommends Bahai center as World Heritage site

“The Haifa city council last week recommended that the United Nations Education, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) declare the Bahai center and gardens in Haifa a World Heritage site…”

As a Bahá’í myself there is obviously a bias that makes me particularly enthusiastic about this. The immense spiritual force and energy that engulfs me when I am in Haifa has left my heart and soul longing, almost begging every day, to be there time and again. As a young child I had a vivid dream of flying inside the Shrine of the Bab and awoke as, in my dream, I found myself locked within the Shrine and at rest in the ledge of a round window. With no pictures available of the interior of the Shrine it was not until about 8 years later when I made a pilgrimage as a 16 year old youth that I was able to witness that every detail I had vividly remembered was accurate and, when finding myself the bounty of being alone in prayer within the Shrine, felt my soul making the same flight that I had in my dream. I was not locked in after my prayers, but I liked to think that maybe a part of my soul remained there as my body did in my dream.

Since then the Baha’i World Centre has changed a lot and the mountain that surrounds the Shrine of the Bab, which is also the resting place for ‘Abdu’l-Baha’s body, has been beautified with 19 stunning terraces, each one tranquil and peaceful with the sound of trickling waterfalls and fountains drowning out the noise of the city. In essence, and in effect, the beauty that emanates from the Shrine is having its transforming affect on the land around it just as the souls that are moved by the transforming message of the Baha’i Faith have their positive influence on those that see them exemplifying the teachings of Baha’u’llah, whose coming The Bab announced.

Whether moved by the Spirit that animates the community of followers at the Baha’i Word Centre or simply keen to experience a beautiful and peaceful mountain, the terraced gardens with the jewel-like Shrine at their center are a treasure already hailed by many as one of the wonders of the world and, especially as the Baha’i Faith stands so firmly for the unity of people, races and nations, it might be fitting to acknowledge that this centre stands a symbol for the whole of mankind and not just those who have accepted the message of Baha’u’llah.

Link: article, Haifa municipality recommends Bahai center as World Heritage site

Link: source, Globes [online]