Universal House of Justice Elected

The members of the Universal House of Justice are, from left to right, Paul Lample, Chuungu Malitonga, Payman Mohajer, Shahriar Razavi, Stephen Hall, Ayman Rouhani, Stephen Birkland, Juan Mora, and Praveen Mallik. The House of Justice was elected by delegates to the 12th International Baha’i Convention in Haifa.

Yesterday, delegates to the 12th International Baha’i Convention cast ballots to elect the House of Justice.

The elected members are Paul Lample, Chuungu Malitonga, Payman Mohajer, Shahriar Razavi, Stephen Hall, Ayman Rouhani, Stephen Birkland, Juan Francisco Mora, and Praveen Mallik.

Members are elected for five-year terms.

Worldwide representatives gather for 12th International Convention

Delegates arriving at the International Baha’i Convention

Some 1,300 delegates representing more than 160 countries have arrived in Haifa to participate in the 12th International Baha’i Convention.

The International Convention is a unique gathering held every five years in Haifa, the administrative and spiritual center of the Baha’i world community. Delegates hail from virtually every nation. Over the course of the convention, they participate in a series of consultative sessions and elect the Faith’s international governing body, the Universal House of Justice.

The consultations at International Convention are generally concerned with the development of the Baha’i Faith and the contributions of Baha’i communities to the progress of society. One of the primary areas of discussion is how Baha’u’llah’s teachings—such as the oneness of humankind, the equality of women and men, the harmony of science and religion, and the independent investigation of truth—are finding expression in a vast array of social settings, from the remotest of villages to large urban centers, and across diverse cultural realities.

The delegates attending this year’s International Convention are members of the annually-elected governing Baha’i councils of their countries. Referred to as National Spiritual Assemblies, these institutions guide and support the activities of the Baha’i community within their respective jurisdictions.

On 29 April, the delegates will gather to elect the nine members of the Universal House of Justice, a task that is undertaken as both a sacred duty and a privilege.

Delegates have a period of spiritual preparation before participating in the Convention. This entails time to pray and meditate in the Sacred Shrines in Haifa and Akka as well as to visit historical Baha’i holy places.

A slideshow on the convention is available at Baha’i World News Service.

Screening of the film: “Light to the World”

The film produced on the life of Bahá’u’lláh and how the teachings He brought have transformed the lives of diverse nations will be screened on 25 November at Wollongong Bahá’í Centre of Learning, 7:30 pm. Everyone is welcome to attend.

The film portrays a story that is unfolding. It is a story of humanity’s progress through history, propelled by the teachings of Messengers of God Who have guided humanity through its stages of development, and now to the dawn of its maturity.

Two hundred years ago, such a prophetic Figure appeared: Bahá’u’lláh. He brought teachings for this age that represent an end to division and otherness, through which––at long last––the oneness of humankind can be realized.

Discover more through accounts of people from diverse nations whose lives have been transformed by the light that Bahá’u’lláh brought to the world.

The film will be shown on big screen at Wollongong Bahá’í Centre of Learning on 25 November at 7:30 pm. There will be time for questions and discussion after the film followed by refreshments. The entry is free and all are welcome.

The film can be also downloaded and watched privately. Please visit  “Light to the World”.

 

Celebrating the 200th Anniversary of the Birth of Bahá’u’lláh in Wollongong

Shrine of Bahá’u’lláh and surrounding gardens

This October, Bahá’ís in Wollongong, together with their sister communities around the world will be celebrating the 200th anniversary of the Birth of Baha’u’llah. Celebrations planned will commemorate Baha’u’llah’s extraordinary life, His teachings and vision for a materially and spiritually prosperous world.  Bahá’u’lláh delivered a new revelation from God. His mission was to spiritually re-awaken humanity and unite all the peoples of the world. Bahá’u’lláh’s teachings form the basis of the Bahá’í Faith and offer a vision of infinite hope and healing. “My object is none other than the betterment of the world and the tranquillity of its peoples,” wrote Bahá’u’lláh. For this noble purpose, He endured a life of persecution, imprisonment, torture, and exile.

According to the recent message from the Universal House of Justice, the supreme governing institution of the Bahá’í Faith: “Bahá’u’lláh’s teachings testify to the nobility of the human spirit.   The society He envisions is one worthy of that nobility and founded on principles that guard and reinforce it. The oneness of the human family He places at the core of collective life; the equality of women and men He unequivocally asserts.  He reconciles the seemingly counteracting forces of our own age-science and religion, unity and diversity, freedom and order, individual rights and social responsibilities. And among His greatest gifts is justice, manifested in institutions whose concern is for the progress and development of all peoples.”[1]

Bahá’u’lláh (1817-92) is the latest in the series of Divine Messengers who founded the world religions as part of the progressive revelation of God’s guidance to humanity. Bahá’u’lláh (“The Glory of God”) is the One promised in the scriptures of the world’s great faith traditions. Born on 12 November 1817 in Tehran, Bahá’u’lláh was the son of a wealthy nobleman and government minister. He devoted Himself to the care of the poor and became a follower of the Báb (1819-1850), His spiritual forerunner. After receiving His revelation in 1852, Bahá’u’lláh was exiled, eventually to the Ottoman-ruled Holy Land (now Israel). He remained a prisoner for the rest of His life. His voluminous writings include many beautiful prayers, passages of spiritual upliftment, guidance for the spiritual life of the individual and society, and proclamation to the most powerful rulers of His time. Bahá’u’lláh passed away near Acre in the Holy Land where His shrine is now set amid beautiful gardens and attracts pilgrims and visitors from around the world.

While some Bahá’ís are celebrating this momentous occasion with their families, friends, neighbours and colleagues in their homes, the formal celebration in Wollongong will take place on 21st of October in building 67 room 207, University of Wollongong, 7:30 pm. For your personal invitation to this event, please write to gongbahais@gmail.com

For the news of Celebration of the Bicentenary Birth of Bahá’u’lláh from around the globe, please visit https://bicentenary.bahai.org/.

[1]          The message of the Universal House of Justice, October 2017.

Forum: “Bahá’u’lláh’s Promise of Universal Peace”

Bahá’u’lláh’s room in Bahji , where He met Professor Brown in 1890
Source: Bahá’í International Community

The theme, “Bahá’u’lláh’s Promise of Universal Peace” will be the focus of a forum planned for 30 September at Wollongong Bahá’í Centre of Learning, 7:30 pm. Everyone is welcome to attend.

In April 1890, Professor Edward Granville Browne of Cambridge University met Bahá’u’lláh in four successive interviews. During the first meeting, Bahá’u’lláh underlined the significant changes that would take place in the world as the result of the forces released through His revelation: “… That all nations should become one in faith and all men as brothers; that the bonds of affection and unity between the sons of men should be strengthened; that diversity of religion should cease, and differences of race be annulled.” He then questioned Professor Brown: “What harm is there in this? …” Bahá’u’lláh continued His utterances by promising that “… Yet so it shall be; these fruitless strifes, these ruinous wars shall pass away, and the ‘Most Great Peace’ shall come.… Let not a man glory in this, that he loves his country; let him rather glory in this, that he loves his kind.”[1]

The “Most Great Peace” promised by Bahá’u’lláh is the Universal Peace or the peace between the nations that has proved quite elusive in the world today, though desired by everyone. The teachings of Bahá’u’lláh explain that the  “Universal Peace” is a spiritual phenomenon that occurs when some other requirements are fulfilled, the ultimate of which is the acceptance of the unity of mankind. In this regard, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá  explains, “But the wise souls who are aware of the essential relationships emanating from the realities of things consider that one single matter cannot, by itself, influence the human reality as it ought and should, for until the minds of men become united, no important matter can be accomplished. At present universal peace is a matter of great importance, but unity of conscience is essential, so that the foundation of this matter may become secure, its establishment firm and its edifice strong.”[2] 

In a forum planned for 30 September, 7.30 pm at Wollongong Bahá’í Centre of Learning this topic will be explored in details. Everyone is welcome to attend.

[1]           J.E. Esslemont — Bahá’u’lláh and the New Era, Page 39-40

[2]           ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Selections from the writings of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá

Forum: “Baha’u’llah’s teachings: a response to the challenges of a turbulent world”

The theme, “Baha’u’llah’s teachings: a response to the challenges of a turbulent world” will be the focus of a forum planned for 26 August at Wollongong Bahá’í Centre of Learning, 7:30 pm. Everyone is welcome to attend.

In one of His works written more than 150 years ago,Bahá’u’lláh underlined some of the social challenges faced by humanity through a number of questions:   “How long will humanity persist in its waywardness? How long will injustice continue? How long is chaos and confusion to reign amongst men? How long will discord agitate the face of society?” He then warns humanity: “… The winds of despair are, alas, blowing from every direction, and the strife that divideth and afflicteth the human race is daily increasing. The signs of impending convulsions and chaos can now be discerned, inasmuch as the prevailing order appeareth to be lamentably defective.[1]

The questions asked by Bahá’u’lláh at that time are more pertinent now and the convulsions and chaos foreseen by Him are currently the prevalent characteristics of our societies in every corner of the planet. The long-established traditions, values and norms that governed human civilisation for thousands of years are no longer adequate and applicable to a world what has radically shrunk to a global village through mass communication, mass transportation and mass migration. This has brought about a global awareness and consciousness that struggles for its prevalence against old established prejudices, assumptions, and standards.

In response to such crises, Bahá’u’lláh has offered a new order  in His teachings to address the challenges faced by humanity. Referring to His revealed paradigm as “new World Order” He states: “The world’s equilibrium hath been upset through the vibrating influence of this most great, this new World Order. Mankind’s ordered life hath been revolutionized through the agency of this unique, this wondrous System — the like of which mortal eyes have never witnessed.[2]

In a forum planned for 26 August, 7.30 pm at Wollongong Bahá’í Centre of Learning this topic will be explored in details. Everyone is welcome to attend.

[1]           Bahá’u’lláh, Gleanings from Writings of Bahá’u’lláh, p. 215.

[2]           Bahá’u’lláh, Gleanings from Writings of Bahá’u’lláh, p. 136.

Local Bahá’í Talks at the Launch of Ink of Light

Negar Sabet in front of a calligraphic written piece on the wall of the gallery

Negar Sabet, a local Bahá’í in Wollongong was one of the speakers at the launch of the Ink of Light Exhibition on Saturday 5 August 2017.

Ink of Light art exhibition is an artistic quest by five artists with concerns for human rights. Work created by artists highlight our common humanity in reflective and meditative ways. The exhibition charts a journey exploring constructive resilience and spiritual freedom in the face of persecution. The artists are Negin Chahoud a painter and printmaker, Shadi Eshragi a painter and digital artist, Monir Rowshan a ceramic and mosaic artist, Kath Podger an installation artist, sculptor and painter, and Mehrzad Mumtahan ceramic sculptor and digital video artist.

The exhibition is a commemoration of the seven Bahá’í leaders in their home country, Iran. The seven prisoners are Fariba Kamalabadi, Jamaloddin Khanjani, Affif Naeimi, Saeid Rezaie, Mahvash Sabet, Behruouz Tavakoli and Vahid Tizfaham.

Negar is the daughter of Mahavash Sabet, who currently lives in Wollongong and studies at University of Wollongong. In her talk, Negar highlighted the innocence of her mother and the other six prisoners as well as their dignity, nobility and peaceful response to prolonged incarceration. She concluded her talk by reading one of the poems of her mother published as a book titled Prison Poems.

The Ink of Light art exhibition is held at Articulate Project Space, 497 Parramatta Rd, Leichhardt until 19 August. The opening times are 11 am-5 pm Friday-to Sunday.