Papers delivered at the Irfán Colloquium Session #113 (English)
Louhelen Bahá'í School: Davison, Michigan USAOctober 5–8, 2012.
Theme: "Discovering Pearls in the Ocean of His Words"
Child Education and Development: Comparing guidance given by `Abdu'l-Bahá during his North American visit with some academic theories of the time
by Saba Ayman-Nolley
This presentation will systematically examine the guidance and advice that `Abdu’l-Bahá gave to various audiences throughout his talks during His North America travels in 1912. The structure and content of these passages will be analyzed and consolidated to clarify the cohesive approach that `Abdu’l-Bahá offered parents and those working with children. The roles and tasks of the various components of human society in this approach will be examined as well as variations He may have suggested across child developmental lines such as varying approaches to infants, children, or adolescents. In addition there will be a preliminary comparison of `Abdu’l-Bahá’s ideas on education and child development with early 20th century theories of human development and educational psychology.
Collective Security in the Talks of `Abdu'l-Bahá
by Sovaida Ma'ani
The principle of collective security as adumbrated by Bahá'u'lláh and elaborated upon by `Abdu'l-Bahá is a prerequisite for a lasting peace of the kind that has hitherto eluded humanity. Its application requires that the international community take a range of steps, including the gradual creation of an international standing force, agreement on the amount of arms that each nation may hold coupled with a binding agreement that breach of the peace by any one nation will result in collective action by all the others in accordance with pre-determined rules and procedures. In addition there must be a firm agreement on what to do about the development and stockpiling of nuclear weapons. Last, but not least, an effective international court with compulsory jurisdiction and binding judgment must be firmly established. This presentation offers concrete recommendations for the application of these broad principles in a manner that is actionable and politically palatable in today's world.
Concept of Self-Knowledge in Bahá'í Writings: An exploration to discover self in light of current psychological findings
by Habib Riazati
The main objectives of this presentation are the discussions of the significance, meaning, application and the implications of the concept of gaining a true knowledge/insight about one's own self and how it impacts intra/inter personal relationships between an individual and his/her own self, with his/her God and with other human beings.
Correlation of Concept of Spirit with Mathematics, Psycholinguistics, and Science
by Kamran Sedig
David Bohm, one of the most influential scientists and philosophers of the 20th century, believed that the widespread crisis that humanity is experiencing, be it in the scientific, social, psychological, or political spheres of life, is due to how humans view the world through a fragmented lens. In his view, existence is an `undivided whole.' In this presentation, we will explore the fundamental patterns that can be abstracted from the material world. We will then borrow some ideas from mathematics and psycholinguistics to examine if the concept of spirit is a defragmenting lens that allows us to view the world in a holistic, unified fashion.
Eyewitness Account of the Massacre of Bahá'ís in Nayriz on Naw-Ruz 1909
by Baharieh Rouhani Ma'ani
At the turn of the twentieth century the people of Iran, tired of despotic regimes and the inordinate influence of the clergy, demanded changes in the way the country was governed. Their struggles for democratic reform bore fruit when Muzaffiri'd-Din Shah Qajar signed the decree in 1906 for the establishment of parliament and for constitutional monarchy to replace absolute rule by the sovereign. He died shortly after signing the decree. His successor, Muhammad-`Ali Shah dissolved the parliament and tried to reestablish dictatorship. Iranians arose again, dethroned him, and brought to power his underage son, Ahmad Shah. The incessant fighting between the proponents of democracy and their opponents, the entanglement of the government in disputes that ensued, and the rule of self-seeking and inexperienced kings weakened the central government and gave rise to lawlessness. The situation was particularly dire in places further away from the capital, where rebels exploited existing tribal rivalries, unfurled the banner of rebellion against the government, plundered properties, established themselves in the name of Islam, and used their triumph as license to declare holy war on defenseless Bahá'ís. The worst affected area was Nayriz and its surroundings.
Historical Background of Bahá'u'lláh's Súratu'n-Nush (Exhortation)
by Husein Ahdieh
In 1850, Nayriz was a sleepy farm town in the Fars province of Iran. Most people tended their farms by day and mingled with family and friends at night under the dim light of kerosene lamps. Life for the inhabitants of Nayriz was peacefulbut it was a stifling peace without any hope, where the future was merely a continuation of the past. On May 27, 1850, Vahíd, a scholarly representative of the Báb, proclaimed the new Prophet's stirring message from the pulpit of a mosque. And Nayriz would never be the same. The sleepy town had been jolted into the painful throes of awakening.
Kitáb-i-Iqán, From Bábí to Bahá'í Dispensation
by Faris Badii
Even though the "Persian Bayán" is the mother-book of the Bábí Dispensation, the Báb left it incomplete. The Báb prophesied that "Him Whom God Shall Make Manifest" will complete it. The revelation of the Kitáb-i-Iqán fulfilled this prophecy. In this presentation various features of the style of the revelation of the Persian Bayán and the style of the revelation of the Kitáb-i-Iqán are considered. We will show how this "priceless treasure" acted as a bridge arcing the gap between these two Dispensations. Further, the significance of the Kitáb-i-Iqán within the ranks of the writings of Bahá'u'lláh, as well as some if its intrinsic features, will be discussed. The statement of the Guardian that this magnificent book "occupies a position unequalled by any work in the entire range of Bahá'í literature, except the Kitáb-i-Aqdas" will be discussed.
Review of the style, the content and the context of Bahá'u'lláh's Súratu'n-Nush (Exhortation), A
by Afaf A. Stevens
In this session we will examine the style, the content and the context of the Súratul-Nus'h. We will study the intent of its Author, Bahá'u'lláh, as He addresses one of His prominent believers and survivor of the Nayriz Massacare Seyyed Jaa'far Yazdi.
Shared Leadership and Bahá'ís Community Life
by Roya Ayman
Bahá'í Faith presents a new approach to social structure of the community. Today, God has ordained a major paradigm shift in society where no longer an individual may exercise authority and power over others. Bahá'u'lláh has abrogated the position of professional clergy in the Bahá'í community. Furthermore, for the first time, He has separated the function of assuming individual responsibility from exercising individual authority over others. In essence, with the inception of the Bahá'í dispensation, the divine plan revealed a new concept of shared leadership. In this presentation we will review the phenomenon of shared or distributive leadership in contrast to vertical, hierarchical, or heroic leadership. The conditions that allow for shared leadership to function will be explored. Also we will examine the vision of Bahá'u'lláh and 'Abdul-Bahá regarding leadership in the Bahá'í community. We will also discuss how the Bahá'í community in its infancy is preparing for this new structure and how the recent messages from the Universal House of Justice guide the Bahá'í community to be poised to implement shared leadership.
Shoghi Effendi's "Diary Letters": An introduction and overview
by Mehrdad Bashiri
The purpose of this presentation is to provide an introduction and overview of a unique collection of 143 diary letters written by Shoghi Effendi from February to November 1919. This collection of diary letters is written in a critical stage of Shoghi Effendi's life when he was serving as 'Abdu'l-Bahá's secretary and interpreter. The contents of these diary letters vividly reflect various aspects of 'Abdu'l-Bahá's life in the Holy Land after the end of the first World War (Nov. 1918). The diary letters include numerous translations of 'Abdu'l-Bahá's letters along with His talks at the pilgrims gatherings.
Unity and Universality of Education Recommended in the Talks of `Abdu'l-Bahá
by Iraj Ayman
Talks delivered by `Abdu'l-Bahá during his travels in Europe and America include a number of guidelines on various educational subjects. In view of the fact that those talks were essentially aimed at promoting peace and unity and preventing conflict and war in human society, `Abdu'l-Bahá's utterances concerning education were also related to the ways and means of establishment of permanent peace and universal exercise of justice . He recommended a new and comprehensive vision of education that, in many ways, were unprecedented and in some instances contrary to the prevailing systems and practices. Both formal and informal education play major roles in the formation of our thoughts and behavior regarding social and political activities. Therefore, achieving permanent peace and unity in human society requires unity in educational curriculum and universality of access to quality education.
`Abdu'l-Bahá in Chicago
by Arash Zare
This presentation will be a historical account on 'Abdu'l-Bahá's visit to Chicago based on documents, notes and materials published in newspapers and arranged chronologically and thematically. It will focus on the purpose of His visit in various houses of worship, social groups, and private homes. 'Abdu'l-Bahá 's attention to Chicago was unique for several reasons. Chicago, "the heart of America," was the city where the call of the Faith of Bahá'u'lláh was first raised. It was in Chicago that the very first Western Bahá'í House of Worship would be built. His message of peace and equality, though not unique to Chicago, resonated with hundreds of Chicagoans who were involved in various civil right movements. The message of the equality of sexes, the cry of oneness of human race, and fundamental unity of all religions, were among subjects that on many occasions 'Abdu'l-Bahá reiterated. During His visit He met with several prominent Americans who were known for their humanitarian and equal rights efforts. This includes Jane Addams, DeBois who have contributed immensely to the American nation. His focus was not limited to racial or social issues; in addition it centered on moral and ecumenical matters which He announced in churches and theosophical organizations. We shall particularly focus on His visit to the site of the Bahá'í House of Worship in Wilmette, placing its corner stone, and His call to the friends to unite around the common goal of building that "silent teacher."
`Abdu'l-Bahá's First Public Talk in America: Church of Ascension, New York
by Faris Badii
This is one of the first talks delivered by `Abdu'l-Bahá during the first few days after His arrival in New York and the beginning of his travels in North America. This talk is also the first talk that he delivered in a church and to a congregation of Christian audience. This presentation is an attempt to explore the historical background and circumstances leading to this talk and some of the interactions that followed. This talk contains most of the elements of the main message that `Abdu'l-Bahá brought to the West. It starts with describing the message of Jesus Christ and gradually evolves into a presentation of the message of Bahá'u'lláh for present day society and its creative influence.