Book Reviews

Steadfastness in the Covenant : Responding to Tests and Tribulations

The emergence of the World Order of Bahá’u’lláh and its implications for the progress of civilization coincides with accelerated crises in the world.  These calamities, with their associated suffering and confusion, herald the advent of a transformation in the consciousness of people and their receptivity – whether positive or negative – to the teachings of the Bahá’í Faith. No wonder, then, that Bahá’ís have been encouraged to study the Covenant and to acquire steadfastness in it. But what are the requirements of faithfulness to the Covenant?  The Bahá’í Writings tell us that persecution and trials will occur and intensify as the Cause emerges from obscurity to full recognition. 

* Dr. Abdu’l-Missagh Ghadirian is an author, researcher and Emeritus Professor at McGill University, Faculty of Medicine in Montreal. He has spoken in numerous public, professional and university venues around the world.

He has done extensive research including over180 articles published mostly in scientific journals and other professional media in the field of social science and psychiatry. He is the author of fourteen books, including “In Search of Nirvana”, “Ageing: Challenges and Opportunities”, “Environment and Psychopathology” and “Alcohol and Drug Abuse: a Psychosocial and Spiritual Approach to Prevention” and “Creative Dimensions of Suffering”.

In recent years he has published the books “Steadfastness in the Covenant” 2014, “Alzheimer’s Disease: An Eclipse before Sunset” 2016 (second edition) and “Materialism – Moral and Social Consequences 2017 (second edition).  The latter received the Distinguished Scholarship Award from the Association for Baha’i Studies in 2011.  Some of his works have been translated and published in several languages.As a Baha’i, he has researched and published on spirituality in medicine and the application of Baha’i principles to current societal problems and the persecution of the Baha’is of Iran. He served as a member of the Continental Board of Counsellors in the Americas (1995-2005) and as a member of the Board of Trustees of Huququ’llah in Canada for many years.

Alzheimer’s Disease: An Eclipse before Sunset

We live in a world where the number of individuals who are over sixty years old is rapidly on the rise.  According to the World Health Organization (WHO) it is estimated that the proportion of the global population who are over sixty will double between 2000 and 2050 (from 650 million to 2 billion people).  In fact we live in a world in which the number of those over 60 surpasses the number of children.

Alzheimer’s disease is a serious and destructive neurological condition, the incidence of which has been on the rise in the aged population worldwide.  Millions of people who hope for a long and prosperous journey through life succumb to an illness which causes loss of memory and all that they have learned during this journey of life.

Despite extensive scientific endeavours and research to find a cure there is no effective treatment for this illness.  What are the warning signs of this disease?  Is the illness preventable?  What are the important risk factors?  What are the protective ways to mitigate the appearance of Alzheimer’s?  What is the role of the family or other caregivers and how can they cope with the stress of care-giving?  Scientific, psychological and spiritual aspects relating to the mind, body and soul are discussed in this book.

“Alzheimer’s Disease is unique to the literature on this condition because Dr. Ghadirian draws from spiritual writings, which shine light on the nature of illness in general. For example, in Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh, the soul of man is likened to the sun’s rays, which can sometimes be obscured by clouds, but     “[n]either the presence of the cloud nor its absence can in any way affect the inherent splendor of the sun” (155). The reader is reassured that the essence of the person remains unaffected by the disease and it is to that essence that family and friends can remain connected.”        From the book review of Dr. Brian Kirsh for the Journal of t Baha’i Studies.

Please see the review link below:

For further information please also see the following link:

The French and Persian booklets of Alzheimer’s are also available in the Montreal Baha’i bookstore


Materialism: Moral and Social Consequences

This new edition (2017) explores the materialistic concept of life and its devastating impact on the well-being of the individuals and societies throughout the world.  Material philosophy maintains that matter has priority over mind and spirit. Based on such a concept, human mind, consciousness and spirit are byproducts of matter and those who believe the contrary are viewed as “idealists”.  Baha’i teachings advocate a reasonable and moderate balance between the spiritual and material aspects of life as two pillars of an equitable civilization.

This book, which received the Distinguished Scholarship award of the Association for Bahá’í Studies,provides analyses of the deplorable extremes of wealth and poverty and disregard for the social and economic injustices.  It offers valuable insights on the impact of materialism on mental health. Materialism also influences the rise of consumerism, climate change and environmental degradation, and the spread of corruption, egotism and indifference to the plight of millions who die each year from starvation and disease.      

Review:“Dr. Ghadirian has clearly described cutting-edge research showing how a personal focus on money, possessions, and status undermines both our own and other people's well-being. His book also takes past critiques of consumerism two important steps forward. First, he extends the empirical work into some of the crucial moral and social dilemmas facing our world today by describing how people's focus on the accumulation of consumer goods is relevant to endemic poverty and ecological destruction. Second, he has done a fine job in the difficult task of integrating insights from science with that of a spiritual faith tradition, demonstrating how both call for a reduction in materialistic strivings and a focus on other, more healthy aims in order to improve the state of our lives and our world. To my knowledge, this is the first book to systematically connect the empirical work on materialism with the teachings of a particular faith.”
-- Tim Kasser, Ph.D., Professor & Chair of Psychology, Knox College, Galesburg, Illinois, USA.

For further information please also see the following links:

Also available in the Montreal Baha’i bookstore


Steadfastness in the Covenant 

Responding to Tests and Tribulations 

The emergence of the World Order of Bahá’u’lláh and its implications for the progress of civilization coincides with accelerated crises in the world. These calamities, with their associated suffering and confusion, herald the advent of a transformation in the consciousness of people and their receptivity – whether positive or negative – to the teachings of the Bahá’í Faith

No wonder, then, that Bahá’ís have been encouraged to study the Covenant and to acquire steadfastness in it. But what are the requirements of faithfulness to the Covenant?

The Bahá’í Writings tell us that persecution and trials will occur and intensify as the Cause emerges from obscurity to full recognition. A prime example of firmness in the Covenant amidst the fire of ordeals during our time is the Bahá’í community of Iran, to which part of this book is dedicated.

The book also discusses what the Covenant means to the present generation of young Bahá’ís, and what are the challenges in one’s individual and community life in relation to the Covenant of Bahá’u’lláh.

Two chapters discuss issues related to scholarship and the Covenant. What is the meaning of scholarship in the Bahá’í Dispensation? What is the role of these souls in the defence of the Cause and extending our knowledge toward a deeper understanding and application of the Bahá’í teachings in response to questions arising from current issues of society?

The concluding part of the book turns to the life of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá as the Perfect Exemplar and the Centre of the Covenant of the Bahá’í Faith. 

Published by George Ronald,Oxford, England. 256 pages.  For further information you can also visit the following websites through these links to the Publisher or

Also available in the Montreal Baha’i bookstore


Ageing: Challenges and Opportunities

At some point in our lives we all wonder, 'What does the future hold for me?' Some of us worry, 'Will I be able to cope when I am old?' Others are concerned about ageing relatives and ask, 'How can I look after them?' We all get older. Some of us worry about what old age will bring; others look forward to the new opportunities which will arise. “Ageing: Challenges and Opportunities” considers the process of ageing and how it affects different individuals. It looks particularly at:

* the challenges of advancing age
* the opportunities open to the aged
* coping with stress and  developing new creativity
* the possibility of dementia (i.e. Alzheimer's disease)
* the psychological, social and spiritual dimensions and explodes some of the myths about the process of ageing and being old.

 “This is the first book written by a Bahá’í that attempts ‘to address the process of ageing and coping in the light of the Bahá’í Writings…’. It is particularly significant because, as the author points out, there really are no Bahá’í Writings that deal directly with aging…The section on the psychological challenges related to retirement takes into account the different challenges for men and women in this area. There is a particularly good section on the fear of death and spiritual reactions to death…I especially like the section dealing with humor and laughter. The author reminds us that ‘God loves laughter’, provides a now classic example of how Norman Cousins used humor to ‘laugh his illness away’, and ends with ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s exhortation for us to ‘be happy’.” 

From a review by Dr. Deborah Kestin van den Hoonaard  for the Journal of Bahá’í Studies (1994)

Also available in the Montreal Baha’i bookstore





Alcohol and Drug Abuse:  A Psychosocial and Spiritual Approach to Prevention

The pervasive problem of substance abuse and addiction has spread all over the world and created a crisis of apocalyptic proportions in human society.  Today, thousands of adults, youth and even children willing subject their minds and bodies to the non-medical use of drugs and their serious consequences.

Why do people use opioids or other drugs?  What are drugs a substitute for?  Who is most vulnerable to substance abuse?  What is the solution?

 “Alcohol and Drug Abuse: A Psychosocial and Spiritual Approach to Prevention”, taking account of the extensive research on this issue in recent years, attempts to answer these questions. It focuses on primary prevention and explores the roles and responsibilities of individuals, families and society in addressing the worldwide crisis of drug abuse. Both prevention and recovery have profoundly psychological and spiritual dimensions which the book explores in the light of the Bahá’í teachings and social science.

 “Dr Ghadirian effectively outlines the history and scope of drug abuse in this introduction to one of the most difficult and perplexing issues that faces humanity. This is a wide ranging work which touches on various aspects of this topic. The strength of his analysis focuses on the key recognition that we use substances to fill what is essentially a spiritual vacuum…

In combining a discussion of the spiritual nature of human existence and the pervasive scourge of drug abuse, Dr Ghadirian blazes a path that will need to be further explored by health care professionals, policy-makers, and educators. He ends with a proposal of sensible and challenging elements. Its implementation will require a profound change in attitude and orientation.”      Book review by Dr. John Guilfoyle, for The Canadian Journal of Psychiatry. 1, January 2011

This book in Persian is also available in the Montreal Baha’i bookstore



Creative Dimensions of Suffering

This book is an intriguing combination of psychiatry and spirituality that illustrates the power of creativity to overcome suffering. An examination of the lives of many famous artists who suffered - including Van Gogh, Tchaikovsky, and Beethoven – it gives insight into how they dealt with their adversity through creativity. Dr. Ghadirian explores how various conditions such as alcoholism, autism depression, bipolar disorder, and dementia can influence a person's creative impulse and how creativity and spirituality can help a person deal with trauma. He describes the courage of many other well-known figures, such as Helen Keller and Christopher Reeve, who were able to overcome their suffering and emerge victorious over daunting odds. Finally, drawing on principles found in the teachings of the Baha'i Faith, he attempts to explain the meaning of suffering, its place in human society, and how it can lead us to a closer, happier relationship with God, as well as a better relationship with ourselves and with others. Indeed, many of those who have suffered the most have found new meaning through adversity and have emerged victorious.

Also available in the Montreal Baha’i bookstore


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