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Our Sacred Duties

In addition to teaching every believer can pray. Every believer can strive to make his “own inner life and private character mirror forth in their manifold aspects the splendour of those eternal principles proclaimed by Bahá’u’lláh. Every believer can contribute to the Fund. Not all believers can give public talks, not all are called upon to serve on administrative institutions. But all can pray, fight their own spiritual battles, and contribute to the Fund. If every believer will carry out these sacred duties, we shall be astonished at the accession of power which will result to the whole body, and which in its turn will give rise to further growth and the showering of greater blessings on all of us.  (The Universal House of Justice, Messages 1963 to 1986, p. 43)

As I get older and less able to take on all the responsibilities, I was able to carry out when I was younger, I frequently feel inadequate in my teaching and service as a homefront pioneer in an inactive cluster, especially when the needs of the Faith are so urgent.  I judge myself harshly and mercilessly because of it, and then beat myself up for that too.  When I came across this reading, I found it both timely and very comforting.  Thank you, God, for giving me exactly what I need, when I need it most!

I’m grateful the House of Justice acknowledges that not all of us can give public talks or serve on administrative institutions. But I can pray.  I can fight my own spiritual battles, and I can contribute to the Fund, especially to deputize those who are on the forefront of the community building process.

Knowing that doing these simple things will give rise to further growth and shower greater blessings on all of us, I am grateful!.

What jumped out for you as you read today’s meditation?  I’d love it if you would share so we can all expand our knowledge of the Writings!

If you liked this meditation, you might also like my book Strengthening Your Relationship with God

 

If You Like What You Read, Please Help Keep This Site Alive

 

Newsletter – on the Baha’i Fund

Welcome to the Month of Light 172

In this issue – The Fund

Articles

A Life of Generous Giving

Bahá’í Funds and Contributions – a Compilation from Shoghi Effendi

Bahá’í Treasurer – Bahá’í Fund Writings

Priority of Bahá’í Funds

The Bahá’í Funds

 Videos

An Introduction to the Baha’i Funds – Slide Presentation with Transcript

Fund Education – Slide Presentation with Transcript

The Bahá’í Fund – Lifeblood of the Cause

The Bahá’í Fund Song with music, chords and lyrics, by Jim Styan

  Featured Stories:

‘Abdu’l-Baha and Sacrificial Donations to the Fund

All the Bahá’ís in Iran loved and respected Haji Amin, and many wonderful stories are told about his sincerity and devotion. Once, when he was about to set off for the Holy Land, a very poor woman gave him a small coin to take with him. Haji Amin thanked her and put it in his pocket. As soon as he arrived at the home of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, he presented to Him the donations he had collected, as he always did. The Master would usually thank him and praise him for his untiring labours. Haji Amin’s integrity was not to be questioned, and he had never made a mistake in his calculations. Indeed, it was not difficult for him to keep his accounts as he never had any money of his own. This time, however, to his utter astonishment, when ‘Abdu’l-Bahá was presented with the money, He looked at Haji Amin kindly and said something was missing from the amount. Haji Amin left the Master’s presences with much sadness, unable to understand what could have happened. He went to his room in tears and prostrated himself in prayer. As he did so, he felt a hard piece of metal under his knee. It was the small coin the poor woman had given him to take to the Holy Land as he was leaving. The coin had slipped through a hole in his pocket into the lining of his long coat. Haji Amin immediately took the coin and went to ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. The Master showered His praises on him . He kissed the coin and said this was worth more than all the other donations because it had been given with the greatest sacrifice.
(Gloria Faizi, Stories about Bahá’í Funds, p. 47-48)

“Then there’s the story of the man who learned about the Baha’i Faith and considered the principles so admirable that… he made a substantial donation, only to have it returned to him with a note saying that only Baha’is may contribute to the Baha’i funds. So, he became a Baha’i!” (What’s in it For Me – Personal Stories)

Featured Prayer:

 For the Fund

All the friends of God … should contribute to the extent possible, however modest their offering may be. God doth not burden a soul beyond its capacity. Such contributions must come from all centers and all believers. … O Friends of God! Be ye assured that in place of these contributions, your agriculture, your industry, and your commerce will be blessed by manifold increases, with goodly gifts and bestowals. He who cometh with one goodly deed will receive a tenfold reward. There is no doubt that the living Lord will abundantly confirm those who expend their wealth in His path.
O God, my God! Illumine the brows of Thy true lovers, and support them with angelic hosts of certain triumph. Set firm their feet on Thy straight path, and out of Thine ancient bounty open before them the portals of Thy blessings; for they are expending on Thy pathway what Thou hast bestowed upon them, safeguarding Thy Faith, putting their trust in their remembrance of Thee, offering up their hearts for love of Thee, and withholding not what they possess in adoration for Thy Beauty and in their search for ways to please Thee. O my Lord! Ordain for them a plenteous share, a destined recompense and sure reward. Verily, Thou art the Sustainer, the Helper, the Generous, the Bountiful, the Ever-Bestowing. (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Bahá’í Prayers, p. 83)

Featured Video:

Serving the Faith and Humanity through the Baha’i Fund – a thought-provoking video that contrasts the material use of money vs. the spiritual. It looks at where individuals and society spends their money; and compares it with the way Bahá’ís spend their money. It’s well worth the 22 minutes it takes to watch it. You’ll want to show it to your communities; and your friends!

 

 

Another series that could easily be shown to the community is a series of films made in the fall of 2005, when members at the Treasurer’s Office at the Bahá’i National Centre in the United States, approached several young film-makers and asked them to produce a short film about young people and their relationship to contributing to the funds of the Bahá’i Faith. In the following series of videos, we see the results of that collaboration. The series takes about 35 minutes; so it would be a perfect presentation at Feast!

 

Lifeblood: Young Baha’is and the Fund Intro part 1

 

Lifeblood: Young Baha’is and the Fund Intro part 1.5

 

Lifeblood: Young Baha’is and the Fund Intro part 2

 

 

Lifeblood: Young Baha’is and the Fund Intro part 3

 

 

Lifeblood: Young Baha’is and the Fund Intro part 4

 

Lifeblood: Young Baha’is and the Fund Intro part 5

 

 

Featured Books:

 

Stories about Bahá’í Funds by Gloria Faizi is a collection of poignant, humorous, inspiring and touching stories of the sacrificial donations of believers from around the world. These accounts will help you connect with the hearts and minds of those who are embodiments of faith and sacrifice as they contribute to the life-blood of the Bahá’i Faith.

I love this little book; and often read stories from it to inspire the friends at the Feast; as part of a Fund Education program.

To get your copy, now on sale for only $3.95 

 

 

 

 

 

The Feelings of L-B-F by Heidi Lakshman.  This high quality book introduces young Bahá’í children to “The Feelings of L-B-F a young “Local Bahá’í Fund” which is depicted as a smiling heart with a lot of personality. The needs of the fund are explained in a very personal way from the perspective of the Fund itself. It laughs, it cries, it goes hungry, and it wants to be treated like a member of your family!

The straight-forward educational message about the importance of giving to the Fund is buffered by the engaging pictures which can be colored by the children after you read them the story. An activity in the back encourages monthly awareness of the need to pray and contribute, and helps in memorizing the names of Bahá’í Months.

You’ll want to get one for every young member of your community and see what happens. You may discover that your children come to understand the fund better than the adults!

On a personal note, I love to promote this book, because it was written by one of my heroes and a former member of our cluster. Heidi, like Stephen Hawking, has lived with Lou Gehrig’s disease (ALS) for over 20 years. She contracted the disease while serving at the Bahá’í World Centre, and was asked by the House of Justice to return to Canada for medical treatment. Instead of going to a large city, where she would have easy access to the best doctors, she chose to pioneer to several small towns in Ontario, where she could best serve the needs of the Faith.

Her illness has left her without the use of her arms; and although she’s been able to live in her own apartment, she relies on home-health care aids to help with absolutely everything. Despite all that, I’ve never heard her complain!

She wrote this book, as well as New Heaven, New Earth, (which I had the bounty and privilege of helping to edit) and several other books, by positioning her body in such a way that her fingers could press down on the keys of her laptop, one painstaking letter at a time.

She once told me two things that really stuck with me:

  • We must really need patience in the next world, because we receive more tests that require it in this world. Surely her patience has been tested more than most people’s!
  • I must have contracted this disease and lived with it so long so that I could write these books, as I never would have had the time to work on them before.  Indeed, most people with ALS only live 2-5 years from the time of diagnosis and only about 5 percent of people with ALS live longer than 10 years.

I hope you’ll give it a read; and pass it on to all the children and grandchildren in your life!

To order

 

Featured Coach:

Julie Walker is an intuitive with a specialty in medical issues.  You can ask all types of questions about health and wellbeing, but also anything that is on your mind about your life, family, or work. She can help discover what is going on in your body, even when the doctors are baffled. It’s vital to prepare ahead of time by writing down clear questions that you have about your physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual wellbeing. She stays very booked, so it often takes weeks to get an appointment. If you have an urgent need, be sure to communicate that when you contact Karen and request to be fit into any cancellation that happens. To make an appt, call her assistant Karen Bermann-Mazibuko, 773-517-4637, or email kbermannmazibuko@ gmail.com.   You may want a bit of rest and reflection time right after the appointment, so try not to schedule your life too tightly up against it.

 

To visit her website

Featured Business:

 

Bahá’í Writings As Art

Glenn Franco Simmons says: “Photography is my passion; flower photography is my art”; and both things are absolutely evident on his site. Glenn’s business, Bahá’í Writings As Art, showcases this beautifully!

Although his site features many incredible pictures of backroads, butterflies, California coast, collector cars, museums, flowers, flower blossoms and much more, my favorite parts of his site include his “Faith” series, with quotes from the different religions, most including beautiful flower pictures:

Baha’i Writings as Art

Dhammapada As Art 

Holy Bible as Art 

Holy Qur’án As Art 

Interfaith as Art 

He also provides commercial products that include cards, posters, mural and canvas art, as well numerous other commercial products that include cups, mugs, mouse pads and more.

While all of his photos are free to download for noncommercial use, he also appreciates your support if you can. Those of us, like myself, who make our materials available online incur huge financial outlays to do so, so anything you can contribute would be welcomed.

You can also contact him for commercial licensing.

To find him on Facebook 

And Google + 

And Twitter  

Our Readers Write:

Susan – I know who “nothintosee” is – since he was in diapers! I don’t know if he wants to remain anonymous or not. If you want to contact him, let me know and I will forward that request to him. (Anja)

My response:

While I did contact Anja I haven’t heard back from her yet, to “nothintosee” still remains incognito!

 Being a new but devoted fan of your work, I am unsure as to which artists you have showcased so forgive me. Have you featured JB Eckl and Eric Dozier either together as Moanin’ Sons or individually? Thank you for all your service to our Beloved! (Carol Campbell)

My response:

Previous editions of the newsletter have featured:

  • Nabil Moghaddam
  • Luke Slott
  • Bryan Weber
  • Amir Haghighi and Amy Stephen
  • MJ Cyr
  • Jumelle
  • Afshin Toufighian
  • Ali Youssefi
  • Smith & Dragoman
  • Roxanne Andrighetti
  • Laurie Early
  • Rowshan
  • Bahareh Khademi
  • Jim Styan
  • James Mohajer
  • Pentatonix
  • Karim Rushdy and Arlen Yanch
  • Shadi Toloui-Wallace
  • Kristine H
  • Paul Lample
  • Dapper Rappers
  • Nothin’ To See

I’ve posted previous editions of the newsletters at my website

As you can see, I haven’t featured JB Eckl or Eric Dozier yet, so I thank you for the suggestions! I’ve long been a fan of their work, and they’re both in my YouTube playlist (but I hadn’t heard of them playing together as Moanin’Sons till now). It’s a great suggestion, and I’ve added them to my suggested musicians for upcoming editions! Stay tuned!

Thanks to all who write in! Your encouragement really keeps me going!

By the way, like Glenn, I too, accept donations! If you like the materials in these newsletters and on my website, please consider making a donation. Your help and feedback is GREATLY appreciated, to defray the costs of making these available to you!!! There’s a PayPal “Donate” Button at the bottom of every page on my website. Thank you!!!

 

 

See you next month!  Hope it’s a month filled with light!

Money Problems in Marriage

 

In this series of articles we’re looking at how the Bahá’í Marriage Vow “We will all verily abide by the Will of God” can help solve the 10 most common marriage problems.  In this article we will explore the topic of money problems in marriage.

Although it’s not required for the people of the west yet, the Kitab-i-Aqdas makes provision for the payment of a dowry prior to marriage.  This is a sum of money paid by the husband to the wife, to provide her with a sum of money which is hers to keep and use as she wishes. The reason is that even if the girl has nothing, she becomes a bride with property of her own.

 No marriage may be contracted without payment of a dowry (KIA#66)  . . . The dowry is to be paid by the bridegroom to the bride. It is fixed at 19 mithqals of pure gold for city-dwellers, and 19 mithqals of silver for village-dwellers (see note 94).

The purpose is to promote the comfort of all, and to bring about concord and union among the people. Therefore, the greater the consideration shown in these matters the better it will be.  (Baha’u’llah, Kitab-i-Aqdas, p. 209)

To calculate a Mithqal, I recommend the Bahá’í Mithqal Calculator

As of July 13, 2012, nineteen mithqals is equal to $3585.88 for city dwellers, and only $54.78 for village dwellers.   Clearly it’s in the woman’s best interest to marry a city dweller!

In previous dispensations, the dowry was a “bride price” where the woman was purchased, and the money given by the bride’s family to the groom.  In this dispensation, Baha’u’llah makes provision for women to have money of their own.  This is a huge step towards equality, and symbolic of the woman’s right to have money of her own, to spend as she wills.  This is particularly important, since the husband’s role is that of breadwinner, while the wife is the primary educator of the child.  When couples choose to live on one income in order to fulfill this role, the principle of the dowry suggests that women have a right to money of their own which they can spend as they wish.  This can be very empowering if handled correctly!

If the bride later seeks a divorce, she still is entitled to keep the dowry:

Should either party, following the recital of the specifically revealed verse and the payment of the dowry, take a dislike to the other . . . the taking back of the dowry, however, is not permitted.      (Baha’u’llah, Synopsis and Codification of the Kitab-i-Aqdas, p. 40)

Secondly, it’s the will of God for us to give sacrificially to the fund, and when we do, we are promised a tenfold reward.

All the friends of God … should contribute to the extent possible, however modest their offering may be . . . Such contributions must come from all centers and all believers. … O Friends of God! Be ye assured that in place of these contributions, your agriculture, your industry, and your commerce will be blessed by manifold increases, with goodly gifts and bestowals. He who cometh with one goodly deed will receive a tenfold reward. There is no doubt that the living Lord will abundantly confirm those who expend their wealth in His path.  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Baha’i Prayers, p. 83)

This is a much higher interest rate than any bank is currently paying; and with all the corruption surrounding the banking system, it helps to put your money in God’s bank, to protect your savings.

Closely related to this is paying your Right of God (Huqúqu’lláh), because (among other benefits) it averts loss and disaster.

This weighty ordinance, as testified by the Pen of Glory is invested with incalculable benefit and wisdom. It purifies one’s possessions, averts loss and disaster, conduces to prosperity and honour and imparts divine increase and blessing.  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá,  Huqúqu’lláh #100)

Many couples fight about money because they worry about the potential loss that’s following them, knowing that Baha’u’llah has said:

Be not troubled in poverty nor confident in riches, for poverty is followed by riches, and riches are followed by poverty.  (Baha’u’llah, The Persian Hidden Words, #51)

When couples contribute to the Fund, and pay the Right of God, they’re protecting their assets, and can trust that God will provide them with everything they need.  It takes away much of the stress around money.

Moderation and the payment of debts are two other ways to bring our lives into the will of God:

In all circumstances they should conduct themselves with moderation.  (Bahá’u’lláh, Lights of Guidance, p. 294)

Careful study of the writings on materialism and the Right of God will show what moderation might look like when we consider the differences between our needs and wants, but it’s beyond the scope of this article to explore it more fully.

You might find the following articles helpful:

When is Enough Enough

 Does God Want us to be Wealthy?

Why I don’t Want to be Wealthy 

With regards to the payment of debts, it’s a matter of truthfulness.

 In connection with the demands for payment of which thou hast written in thy letter, it is manifestly clear that anyone who hath the ability to settle his debts, and yet neglecteth to do so, hath not acted in accordance with the good pleasure of the one true God. Those who incur debts should strive to settle them with all diligence and application. God’s binding commandments with respect to trustworthiness, uprightness and the honouring of rights have been recorded in clear and perspicuous language in all the sacred Books, Tablets, Scriptures and holy Writings. Well is it with him whom the fleeting vanities of the world have not deprived of a lasting adornment, and whom avarice and negligence have not shut out from the illumination of the sun of trustworthiness. (Bahá’u’lláh, The Compilation of Compilations vol II, p. 336)

I see this in two ways:

  • Is it truthful to spend money I don’t have (using credit cards?)
  • Is it truthful to run the credit cards up so high that you have to declare bankruptcy?

These two questions have helped me pay off all my debts so I am now debt free.

Once truthfulness is firmly in place, the rest is dependent on trusting that the blessings of God will ensure you are able to pay off your debts:

Trust in God and engage in your work and practice economy; the confirmations of God shall descend and you will be enabled to pay off your debts. Be ye occupied always with the mention of Bahá’u’lláh and seek ye no other hope and desire save Him.  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Bahá’í World Faith, p. 375)

Two articles which will further your understanding about the Bahá’í perspective on debt:

5 Things you need to Know about Debt 

How to Save Money During a Recession 

For more information please see:

 Role Confusion 

Sex 

Infidelity 

In-laws and Children

Communication 

Spending Time Together

Love and Effort 

Unresolved Baggage from Childhood

Gossip and Backbiting

For more on this topic, please see:

Introduction to Marriage Vows

We Will All Verily Abide by the Will of God

Sex Before Marriage 

Sex Inside Marriage 

Using the Year of Patience 

 How else does the Will of God help solve money problems in marriage?  Are there principles I’ve missed?  What are your thoughts on what you’ve read?  Post your comments here:

 

 

 

How to Save Money During a Recession

 

Whether you want to admit it or not, there’s a global recession happening, and it’s affecting millions of families. People are being laid off, companies are going under, and even some governments are completely broke.  Let’s face it.  The old world order is collapsing, just as Bahá’u’lláh predicted it would.  Being caught in it, isn’t much fun, though, is it?

Finding ways to cut back on your spending can help you during this difficult economic period. Saving money is always good, but it’s a skill that becomes especially important during a recession.

How can you save money during a recession? It’s all about paying the Right of God first, and then planning, cutting frivolous costs, and changing the way you spend money.

The Baha’i Writings teach:

It is clear and evident that the payment of the Right of God is conducive to prosperity, to blessing, and to honour and divine protection.  (Baha’u’llah, Lights of Guidance, p. 304)

Here are some handy tips you can use to help you save money:

1. Pay important bills first. The mortgage, electricity, water and heat have to be paid no matter what.

2. Save Money on groceries. Groceries are a huge, yet necessary, expense. After the bills are paid, most of the budget will fall into the groceries category.

• Buy generic rather than name brands. They usually taste just as good but cost less.

• Buy non-perishable foods in bulk. Many items can be bought in bulk such as rice, canned foods, and frozen foods.

• Never shop on an empty stomach or during the Bahá’í Fast. Eat before grocery shopping; otherwise, you’ll wind up buying more junk and convenience foods because you’re hungry.

• Make a list of what you need and stick to it. It really is that simple!

• Cut and use coupons. 10 for $10 deals and sale items are your friends. Combining coupons with sales can slash your grocery bill even more.

• Avoid shopping at expensive stores, even if they’re closer to home. Instead, go a few miles out of the way for the discount grocery stores. Most items in the store are exactly the same thing, other than the price tag.

3. Rent movies or borrow them from the library, instead of going out. Have a movie night once a week. Sit down with some popcorn (the kind you pop on the stove) and watch a movie. This is a great way to spend quality family time, without much expense.

4. Put the credit card down. Credit purchases may get your “stuff” now, but you’ll pay double for it later. If you want something, save up and pay cash or wait.  Leave it out of your wallet, so you have to go home and get it, before you can make a purchase.  This will give you a “cooling down” period.

5. Cook at home. If you go out to eat two or three times a week, cut back to once every two weeks or once a month. Instead, learn to cook at home. If you plan ahead and cook in quantities, you’ll save time and money by popping the extra portions into the freezer.

6. Unplug. If there are things in your house plugged into the wall and you aren’t using them, unplug them. Many items, like computers and phone chargers, draw electricity whether they’re on or not. Plug it in when you need it, then unplug it when you’re done.

7. Lower your thermostat. Set your thermostat at a specific temperature and leave it there. 68 to 70 is an energy-saving setting in the winter. If you get chilly, put on a sweater or grab a blanket. You’ll save more than you realize on your heating bills.

These are just some of the many ways to save money and stretch your dollar a bit further during these challenging times. These tips require a change to your habits, which can take some getting used to. In time, however, you’ll adjust and the money you save can make a big difference in your budget.

It’s important to stick with your plan to save money. Making a change for a week won’t do the trick. Committing to changing bad habits for good will reap the greatest benefits in the long run.

Once you’ve paid the bills, don’t forget to pay the Right of God.  It has to be paid before the donations to the Bahá’í Fund, so including it in your regular monthly payments is one way to ensure peace of mind during the recession.

What’s your experience with saving money or paying the Right of God?  Post your comments here:

Debt and Bahá’í-Inspired Life Coaching

 

The topic of debt presents an interesting dilemma for most of us living in a mortgage, loan and credit card dependent society. We’re told that the foundation of our economic life rests on the settlement of our debts. Most of us understand the importance of regular and sacrificial donation to the fund, and are heartened to know that in place of these contributions, we will be rewarded tenfold. And most of us give to the fund. However, we are told that debts should be considered as sacred and take precedence over contributions to the Cause. In addition, we are told that we should pay our Right of God before our contributions to the Cause or before going on pilgrimage. So if we take care of our debts and the Right of God first, how will we have anything left over to give the fund?

What are your thoughts on debt? Post your comments here: