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Montreal, November 26, 2018 - Friends of Outremont-Petite Patrie sponsored the beautiful celebration of the Day of the Covenant at the Montreal Bahá'í Center. Children of the community played an important role in preparation and presentation of the program.

'Abdu'l-Bahá, the Center of the Covenant of Bahá'u'lláh, was born on May 23, 1844, the day of the declaration of the mission of the Báb, the Herald of the Bahá'í Faith. `Abdu’l-Bahá had stated that since May 23 was also the day that the Báb declared his mission, and should be exclusively associated with him, that that day should under no circumstances be celebrated as 'Abdu'l-Bahá’s day of birth. However, as the Bahá’ís begged for a day to be celebrated as `Abdu’l-Bahá’s birthday, he gave them November 26, 181 days after the ascension of Bahá’u’lláh, to be observed as the day of the appointment of the Centre of the Covenant. The holiday was originally known as the Jashn-i-A’zam in Persian (The Greatest Festival), because `Abdu’l-Bahá was known as the Greatest Branch; in the West, the holy day became known as the Day of the Covenant. The day is one of two Bahá’í holy days where work does not need to be suspended.

Throughout the East and the West, 'Abdu'l-Bahá had earned a reputation as an ambassador for peace, a champion of justice, and the chief interpreter of a new Faith. During his travels in North America and Europe, he had proclaimed by word and deed, with force and persuasion, the essential principles of his father's religion. Addressing the great as well as the humble and all who crossed his path, he affirmed that "love is the greatest law,"that it is the foundation of "true civilization,"and that "what humanity urgently needs is, cooperation and reciprocity among all its peoples”.

The problem of succession has been crucial in all religions. The fact that it could not be solved inevitably engendered acrimony and divisions. The ambiguity surrounding the true successors of Jesus and Muhammad, for example, has led to divergent interpretations of the scriptures and a deep antagonism both within Christianity and Islam. Bahá'u'lláh, for his part, knew how to preserve his faith of schisms and built for himself impregnable foundations thanks to the provisions of his testament, the “Book of my Covenant".When the ocean of My presence hath ebbed and the Book of My Revelation is ended, turn your faces toward Him Whom God hath purposed, Who hath branched from this Ancient Root”. … “The object of this sacred verse is none other except the Most Mighty Branch [Abdu'l-Bahá]”.

By appointing 'Abdu'l-Bahá to succeed him, Bahá'u'lláh gives him the means to spread his message of hope and universal peace to the four corners of the planet, in order to realize the essential unity of all peoples. "May the glory of God be upon thee, and upon all who serve thee and circle around thee,"Bahá'u'lláh writes, referring to his son, "Woe, great misfortune to whom opposed thee and made thee wrong! ". To summarize, 'Abdu'l-Bahá is the center of the Bahá'u'lláh’s Covenant, the intercessor trustee for ensuring the unity of the Bahá'í community and preserving the integrity of its teachings.

As the authoritative interpreter of these teachings, 'Abdu'l-Bahá thus became "the mouthpiece of the Book, the interpreter of the Word". Without him, the enormous creative power of Bahá'u'lláh's revelation could not have been disseminated to mankind, nor could it be fully understood. He was able to elucidate the teachings of his father's faith, to develop doctrines, and to define the essential aspects of his administrative institutions. He served as an infallible guide and architect to a rapidly expanding Bahá'í community. Bahá'u'lláh had endowed him with "the virtues of perfection in his social and personal behavior so that mankind might see in him a lasting example to follow". As a perfect model of his father's teachings, and as a pivot of his covenant, 'Abdu'l-Bahá would become "the incorruptible intermediary to put the Word into action and to build a new civilization."

It seems obvious, in retrospection, that Bahá'u'lláh had carefully prepared his son to succeed him. Born on May 23, 1844, the same night that the Báb had inaugurated the beginning of a new religious cycle, 'Abdu'l-Bahá had already, as a child, shared the sufferings of his father at the time of the persecutions against the Bábís. He was eight years old when Bahá'u'lláh was thrown into prison for the first time, for being one of the main spokesmen and defenders of the Bábí Faith. He had not left his father during the endless exile that had led them from Persia to the capital of the Ottoman Empire, and finally to Palestine. Growing up, 'Abdu'l-Bahá became Bahá'u'lláh's most intimate companion, his delegate, his refuge, and his principal representative to the political and religious authorities of that time. His extraordinary ascendancy, knowledge and service earned the exiled Bahá'í community great prestige. Also, in the aftermath of Bahá'u'lláh's death in May 1892, 'Abdu'l-Bahá took the reins of the Bahá'í Faith to safeguard its unity.

Montreal, November 19, 2017 – The plural is chosen for the theme "our futures" is far from a coincidence, since the diversity of forms, themes, graphic creations to contemplate the future for youth have been widely denoted!

This year, it is on this theme "our futures" that the Book Fair as well as the Youth Publications have chosen to lead the programming of this literary festival. Meetings, workshops and exhibitions have highlighted the many representations made by the creators of children's literature.

Whatever the plurality of its genres and forms, literary creation for youth has the capacity to capture the subject of the future with an infinite range of thematic and graphic possibilities.


The 40th edition of the Montreal Book Fair has been magical with six captivating days of book discoveries, rich exchanges and dynamic activities for all tastes. 120,000 visitors were welcomed, 3,000 authors, 450 exhibitors as well as more than 880 publishing houses were present. The Bahá'í booth received hundreds of visitors including journalists and regular annual visitors of the Salon. Four ministers and five provincial deputies, one federal minister and a former prime minister of Canada were also among the visitors.

This year, Bahá'í Publishing Trust offered visitors a theme related to "SERVICE, the highest expression of human nature". Throughout the exhibition, from November 14 to 19, dozens of young people engaged in deep conversations about the principles that could change society. Three large multicolored posters including Bahá'í principles adorned the walls of the booth, with a design of great beauty.

The 41st edition of the Montreal Book Fair was again marked by an overwhelming amount of varied activities for readers of all ages and for all tastes! The visitors were dazzled by the beauty of decorative panels of the Bahá'í Booth designed by a talented artist from the Montreal community, Elham Paiendeh.

Eighteen thousand young people were welcomed with their teachers during the three days reserved for them. A host of activities have been designed to draw their curiosity and increase their reading pleasure! Adolescents are more likely to read than we can think, and the Bahá'í Booth has given them a place to express their impressions.

The experience of these six days of celebration makes it undeniable that the Montreal Book Fair remains an essential showcase for books and culture, as well as a place of exchange, discovery and listening. Pleased with the success of this 41stedition, the organizing Committee would like to warmly thank all of our collaborators, volunteers, illustrators, editors, readers and the media that supported us during this annual event!

Montreal, September 20, 2018 - "Let's Spread Happiness; encourage coexistence; sow the seeds of mutual support! "

In front of an audience of 150 people, these words were voiced by a young girl of Iranian origin whose fellow citizens were the cause of various conflicts across the Middle East! This 19-year-old girl is deeply involved in volunteer work and service to humanity in Montreal. Thus, the world is transformed in a constructive way, one heart at a time! She was delighted to see the Bahá’ís were involved in community activities and expressed the desire to participate in the the projects initiated by the community!

Since 1981, the year of the declaration of the International Day of Peace, the Bahá’í community of Montreal in association with the municipality of Saint-Laurent celebrate this day in Beaudet Park, now called the Peace Park. The celebration took place at noon in the presence of the acting mayor of Saint-Laurent, Mr. Francesco Miele, the municipal counsellors, the community affairs Officer for the Bahá’í Community, the municipal police, the representatives of the Lion club, the students of the several schools of the district as well as some hundred residents of this borough.

In his address, the acting mayor of the borough emphasized the ongoing work of the Bahá’í community for the establishment of world peace for 170 years of existence of the Faith and the work of many volunteers in the locality. In her address, Community Affairs Officer for the Baha'i Community of Montreal, Gigi Vidal, highlighted the borough's ongoing collaboration in building harmony among the people for several decades. The borough of Saint-Laurent is composed of close to a hundred ethnic and linguistic variety, a perfect example of unity in diversity throughout Quebec.

Several spaces were reserved for the participants, children or adults, to express themselves through drawings or writings, their ideas to improve our harmonious relationship with our neighborhoods and the way we can create a service oriented community! Students from the schools in the borough participated in this very interesting exercise! The musical entertainment was provided by our friend Gustavo, (called otherwise one man orchestra!), with songs and rhythm of his Djembe!

On September 6, 1912, the Montreal Gazette published an article following a speech delivered by 'Abdu'l-Bahá the evening before, in the Unitarian Church of St. James regarding world peace: 'Abdu'l- Bahá also spoke of the compelling need for education, and the destructive madness of racial and patriotic conflicts. As in His other speeches, He was extremely worried about the arms race in which all European nations were now engaged and reached a level previously unknown. At the time, no one suspected that this situation would worsen and give birth to the Great War, a disaster that, as we know today, will have killed 9,000,000 people among the countries at war, and caused terrible suffering around the world.

Later, in the last talk He gave aboard the RMS Cedric on His way back to the East, he declared: "... God created men to love one another but, rather, they kill each other cruelly and shed each other’s blood. God created humanity to cooperate and meet in harmony; instead, they ravage, plunder and destroy each other in the midst of bloody battles. God created them to bring happiness and peace; instead, discord, groans, and anguish spring from the hearts of the innocent and the afflicted.

After a minute of silence and meditation for peace, 125 cake balls were offered to participants on the occasion of the 125th anniversary of the founding of the Borough of Saint-Laurent.

Photos : - Some 150 people representing various associations as well as City counsellors attended the celebration.

 -Deputy Mayor of Saint-Laurent with the Officer for Community Affaires of the Bahá'í Community as well as Lions Club members and various Associations of the borough.

-Sample of drawings to express Peace and 125 cake balls to represent 125th anniversary of Saint-Laurent Borough.

 



Montreal, November 9, 2018 – The Bahá’í Communities in various boroughs of Montreal celebrated the Birthdays of the Báb and Bahá’u’lláh, the Twin Manifestations of God for our age. The birthday of the Báb, this year, corresponded with November 9, 1819 and that of Bahá’u’lláh on November 10, 1817.

*The Baha’i community of Baie-d'Urfé celebrated this happy occasion by showing the recently-made documentary, “The Gate”. Before the film, the MC gave a brief background about the filmmaker, a “new Bahá’í”, and the difficulties he faced in making this film without ever being able to depict the “main Character”. After viewing the film, a period of question and answer was followed by refreshments and informal conversations. The unanimous consensus of the approximately 25 attendees – many of whom were friends of the Faith – was that the film was very moving, instructive, and well-made.

*In the NDG borough, a crowd of friends attended the celebration which was held at the Community Centre. There were a few presentations by individuals and groups of various ages, offered in English and French. Performances were included the story of the Báb as a child, songs by youths, a speech by two Junior Youths about their experiences in children's classes and their own activities in Junior Youths program. An arts and crafts table for the children were the center of attention as well as a display of food from various cultures. Music and dancing ended a memorable evening. 

*In the borough of Saint-Laurent, some 25 members of the Community as well as their friends gathered to view the new video-documentary about the life of the Báb entitled “The Gate”. Following the projection, a period of questions and answers about the life of the Herald of the Faith, the Báb, was followed. Prayers in French and English were chanted by the indefatigable Sabih-Vidal family who are always ready to help the Community with their art and music.

A display of food from various cultures was a delight to the eyes! The display did not remain on the table for long! Everybody enjoyed the dishes tremendously with happiness and laughter.

*At “The Heart of Montreal East” there was a very beautiful celebration although it was organized at the last minute! There were more than 20 people who came to the celebration. This is a huge number for a relatively small community! Some friends were supporters of the Faith, others were new believers and many were believers forever! People from all over were present and that was the most extraordinary gathering one can imagine. The spirit that animated this celebration was rich and authentic.

*The celebration of Bahá'u'lláh's birthday in Verdun took place with a dozen friends and several children and young people. A rich program of prayers, songs, visual preparation and dancing was prepared by the friends of this community. A video selection "The Light of the World" on the life of Bahá'u'lláh was screened and appreciated by the friends present.

A brief history of the life of the Báb -The Báb "Door" or "Gate", was born in Shiráz, southern Iran, in 1819. Raised by his uncle as a merchant, the Báb was known for His gentleness, His compassion and his scrupulous honesty. In Persia at that time, as it was simultaneously occurring throughout the world, religious scholars had become convinced that all of the promises of past revelations had been fulfilled and they were convinced that the year 1260 of the local calendar (1844), a date which also figures prominently in Biblical prophecy, would witness the arrival of the advent of the Promised Day.

On the evening of May 23, 1844, the same day that the message, "What hath God wrought?" was immortalized as the first telegraph message in history, the Báb declared His Mission as the Herald of the Bahá’í Faith. 

It was during the earliest days of His ministry that the Báb and Bahá'u'lláh (the Messenger of God for today), who were never destined to meet, became aware of each other's station. At that time Bahá'u'lláh became a prominent proponent of the Cause of the Báb. Eventually the Báb was incarcerated in an abandoned fortress, where he continued to reveal the letters and treatises that would constitute the scriptures of his Faith. Finally, through the intrigues of the clergy, the Báb was executed on July 9, 1850 in Tabriz. 

Over the subsequent decades, the sacred remains of the Báb were secretly transported in many stages to the Holy Land when, in 1909, shortly before His historic visit to the West, 'Abdu'l-Bahá, the Son of Bahá'u'lláh, laid them to rest in a shrine He had constructed on Mount Carmel. This shrine, which was later enclosed beneath a golden dome and surrounded by a marble arcade, is the most prominent feature on the slopes of Carmel in the city of Haifa, Israel.

A brief history of the life of the Bahá'u'lláh -Born in Tehran, Irán on 12 November, 1817, Mirzá Husayn-‘Alí (entitled Bahá’u’lláh – the Glory of God), enjoyed all the advantages conferred by noble birth. From a very early age, He displayed extraordinary knowledge and wisdom.With His acceptance of the religion of the Báb, life permanently changed for the young nobleman and His family. Although They never met in person, from the moment Mirza Husayn-‘Alí heard of the Báb’s message, He declared His wholehearted belief in it and put all of His energy and influence into promoting it. After four months of intense suffering and imprisonment in the prison of Tehran, Bahá’u’lláh—now ill and utterly exhausted—was released and exiled forever from His native Iran. He and His family were sent to Baghdad. He composed three of His most renowned works at this time—the Hidden Words, the Seven Valleys and the Book of Certitude (Kitáb-i-Íqán). While Bahá’u’lláh’s writings alluded to His station, it was not yet the time for a public announcement.

As Bahá’u’lláh’s fame spread, the envy and malice of some of the clergy was rekindled. Representations were made to the Shah of Iran to ask the Ottoman Sultan to remove Bahá’u’lláh further from the Iranian border. Three months after departing Baghdad, Bahá’u’lláh and His fellow exiles reached Constantinople. They remained there for just four months before a further banishment took them to Edirne (Adrianople), a grueling journey undertaken during the coldest of winters. In Adrianople, their accommodation failed to protect them from the bitter temperatures.

Beginning in September 1867, Bahá’u’lláh wrote a series of letters to the leaders and rulers of various nations. In these prescient writings, He openly proclaimed His station, speaking of the dawn of a new age. 

Continued agitation from Bahá’u’lláh’s detractors caused the Ottoman government to banish Him one final time, to its most notorious penal colony. Arriving in the Mediterranean prison city of ‘Akká on 31 August 1868, Bahá’u’lláh was to spend the rest of His life in the fortified city and its environs. Bahá’u’lláh passed away on 29 May, 1892.

In His will, He designated ‘Abdu’l-Bahá as His successor and Head of the Bahá’í Faith — the first time in history that the Founder of a world religion had named his successor in a written irrefutable text. This choice of a successor is a central provision of what is known as the “Covenant of Bahá’u’lláh,” enabling the Bahá’í community to remain united for all time.

 

 

Montreal, September 13, 2018 – The Montreal Bahá’í Community was delighted to welcome Cliff Huxtable, a Knight of Bahá’u’lláh, from St. Helena Island where he and his late wife Catherine have been settled for last fifty two years. This remote volcanic island, is located in South Atlantic Ocean.  It is one of the most remote islands in the world, and was uninhabited when discovered by the Portuguese in 1502. It was an important stopover for ships sailing to Europe from Asia and South Africa for centuries. St. Helena measures about 16 by 8 kilometers (10 by 5 miles) and has a population of 4,534 (2016 census). It was named after Saint Helena of Constantinople.

At a college freshman dance, Cliff Huxtable spotted a lovely young lady sitting across the room. Approaching her to ask for a dance, he saw to his dismay that she sat in a wheelchair. Unsure what to do next, he cut in on a fellow-student who was dancing with one of the lady’s friends. "Come over and meet her,” the friend invited. “She is just like everyone else." The young lady was Catherine Heward, confined to a wheelchair because of muscular dystrophy. Doctors had given her twenty years to live.

Despite her physical limitations and waning strength Catherine developed into a self-reliant young woman of diversified interests. She attracted to her a widening circle of friends who accompanied her to concerts, ballets, theaters, art galleries, and lectures. She became a gifted writer and an accomplished artist in needlepoint. Against all odds, she and Clifford Huxtable got married in 1955, embraced the Bahá’í Faith in 1951, travelled the world during Shoghi Effendi’s great Bahá’í pioneering project of the Ten-Year Crusade, adopted a teenager and have a son, all before Catherine’s death at the age of thirty-five. 

Both Catherine and I were born in 1932, said Cliff, met each other in 1950, joined the Bahá’í Faith in John and Audrey Robarts’ living room, Forest Hill Village, Toronto, served on the Spiritual Assembly of Toronto and then pioneered to Regina end of 1957 – 1959. They continued their services to the Faith and settled in the virgin territory of Canada’s Gulf Islands, tucked inside Vancouver Island, in autumn 1959 – autumn 1965 combined with alternative trips to Anticosti which had proved untenable then, followed by a farewell tour of Bahá’í Communities from Victoria to Montreal.

When the call for pioneers in the Nine-Year Plan was raised in 1965, again the hearts of Catherine and Clifford Huxtable were touched. They volunteered to settle on the lonely volcanic island of St. Helena, final prison and resting place of Napoleon Bonaparte. Arrived on April 1966 where there was only one Bahá’í. On October 25, 1967, just nineteen months after arriving at St. Helena, Catherine passed away. "The end came suddenly after only one day of discomfort," Clifford said. "Her last words were an earnest but not anguished payer, 'I want to die.'"

Quite some time after Catherine passed on, Cliff said, he was surprised to learn that he and Catherine had been both named Knights of Bahá’u’lláh for the Gulf Islands.  Cliff is still living in St. Helena, married to a St. Helenian lady and both serving on its tenuous Spiritual Assembly! There are now nineteen Bahá’ís on the island!

Cliff is in Montreal for two weeks to encourage the area Bahá’í friends to consider wintering in lovely St. Helena, befriending its ‘Saints’ and strengthening our bonds with them.  Then he goes to Bromont for a weekend family reunion of 60 relatives from all over North America before returning to his special island by September 29. (He had spent his childhood summers with his grandparents, uncles and aunts in their Eastern Township homes.) 

For information about St. Helena: http://www.sthelenabahai.org

Montreal, October 12, 2018 – Some members of the Bahá’í Community attended a three-day exhibition and workshop dedicated to the life and services of Queen Mary of Romania at the Côte-des-neiges Community Centre. In presence of Consul General of Romania, Ambassador of Republic of Moldovia, Canadian Ambassador to Romania and City Counsellors, the exhibition was officially opened to the public. Writers, university professors, film makers and poets spoke at length about Queen Mary’s influence in the popular history of Romania. Emphasis was made by one of the lecturers on spirituality of Queen Mary and it was mentioned eloquently that she was a member of the Bahá’í Faith, following her own search in many fields relating to spirituality. Both herself and her daughter accepted the Faith in 1922 after almost two decades of friendship with the indefatigable teacher of the Faith and a journalist by profession, Martha Root. Several people in the audience asked about the Queen’s involvement with the Bahá’í activities and received adequate answers from the lecturer who was a historian himself.

The photographic exhibition was mostly focussed on the Queen’s love of beauty and her published 34 books and short stories, both in Romanian and English, during her lifetime. She was known primarily for her talent in horse-riding, writing, painting, sculpting and dancing, as well as for her beauty which were exquisitely reflected in photographs and written narrative accompanying them.

This exhibition was sponsored by the Romanian Ministry of Culture on the occasion of the celebration of centenary of Romanian Great Union with Europe, December first, 1918.

Queen Marie, as it was mentioned by one of the lecturers, was a deeply spiritual person. She was a grand-daughter of Queen Victoria of England who received two tablets from Bahá’u’lláh between 1867 and 1870. In the series of addresses made to the Kings and the Rulers of the earth, Baha’u’llah announced His mission as the founder of the Bahá’íFaith and called on the world’s ecclesiastical and political rulers to abolish injustice, end slavery and oppression, lay down their weapons and come together to establish a lasting peace.

On January 29, 1926, against the advice of the American minister residing in Bucharest, Romania, Martha Root sent a letter to Queen Marie accompanied with the photograph of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá and a copy of the book “Bahá’u’lláh and the New Era”. The next day she met with the Queen at Controceni Palace just outside Bucharest. The night before the interview, the Queen was reading the book sent to her by Martha until 3:00 A.M. During the interview, the Queen was holding the photograph of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in her hands while she was asking questions about the Faith. The friendship between Martha Root and the Queen lasted until the Queen’s death in 1938.

The Queen was a gifted writer and her articles were syndicated in more than 200 newspapers in United States and Canada. Here she made her first public statements on the Bahá’íFaith, inviting readers to examine the teachings that taught love, unity and peace. The first of these statements appeared in May 1926 and others were published soon after. Many of the statements were translated and published in China, Japan, Australasia and other parts of the world.

One of the first articles was published in Toronto Daily Star, May 4, 1926 – a portion of which reads as follows:

“A woman (Martha Root)brought me the other day a Book. I spell it with a capital letter because it is a glorious Book of love and goodness, strength and beauty.

She gave it to me because she had learned I was in grief and sadness and wanted to help…. She put it into my hands saying: "You seem to live up to His teachings." And when I opened the Book I saw it was the word of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, prophet of love and kindness, and of his father the great teacher of international goodwill and understanding—of a religion which links all creeds.

…. It is a wondrous Message that Bahá'u'lláh and his son 'Abdu'l-Bahá have given us. They have not set it up aggressively, knowing that the germ of eternal truth which lies at its core cannot but take root and spread.

There is only one great verity in it: Love, the mainspring of every energy, tolerance toward each other, desire of understanding each other, knowing each other, helping each other, forgiving each other.

…. I commend it to you all. If ever the name of Bahá'u'lláh or 'Abdu'l-Bahá comes to your attention, do not put their writings from you. Search out their Books, and let their glorious, peace-bringing, love-creating words and lessons sink into your hearts as they have into mine.”

There is an appended note from Marth Root on one of the Queen’s letters addressed to her that Her Majesty has given a large order for the Bahá’íbooks at Burnsides Ltd. Publishing company and a few days later, her sixteen-year-old daughter Princess Ileana had also sent for a large order of books!

Needless to say, that the result of Martha’s contact with Queen Mary of Romania, her and her daughter’s acceptance of the Faith and the public tribute of a reigning monarch were balm to the soul of the Bahá’ís of the world who struggled to be heard, whose martyrs are still dying to bring the Message of Bahá’u’lláh to the public attention. They were a source of unexcelled joy to the heart of the Guardian of the Bahá’í Faith, Shoghi-Effenfi, labouring under the undiminished tribulations of the Guardianship and striving to gain acknowledgment of the Faith as a world religion. In the Bahá’í history, Queen Mary of the Romania is considered as the first Sovereign to accept the Cause of Bahá’u’lláh!

Montreal, September 12, 2018 – Twenty-two students from Kyoto Imperial University of Japan are, at the moment, visiting Montreal as part of their continuing studies to learn about Canadian Culture and languages. The group of four who study Religious Diversity visited the Montreal Bahá’í Shrine accompanied by their tutor. The visit included a presentation about the Faith, Maxwell family and ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s sojourn in Montreal as well as a short history of the Faith in Japan. Numerous questions were asked about the Faith and the relationship of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá with Maxwell family. Questions were also asked about the Administrative System of the Faith and the non-partisan election in the Bahá’í World Community. A gift of literature and relevant information was offered to the students.

The McGill School of Continuing Studies has an international reputation as a leader in continuing education. The instructors are dynamic and engaged, the student body, smart and diverse, bringing with them a wide range of experience from all walks of life. There are over 150 countries represented at McGill University, the most international student body in Canada.

The number of students at McGill’s School of Continuing Studies is 15 000! Career Advancement and Professional Development, Language Learning, Translation and Written Communication, Personal Growth and Lifelong Learning as well as arts, religious diversity and indigenous studies are included in the program.

Kyoto Imperial University in Japan was founded by imperial ordinance on 18 June 1897, the second university to be established in Japan. It has been in partnership with six universities in Canada and with McGill in particular since 2014. One of Asia’s leading research-oriented institutions, Kyoto University is famed for producing world-class researchers, including 17 Nobel Prize laureates, 2 Fields medalists and one Gauss Prize winner.

The Bahá'í Faith in Japan begins after a few mentions of the country by `Abdu'l-Bahá first in 1875. Japanese contact with the religion came from the West when Kanichi Yamamoto was living in Honolulu, Hawaii in 1902 accepted the Faith; the second being Saichiro Fujita. Fujita would serve between the World Wars, first in the household of ‘Abdu'l-Bahá and then of Shoghi Effendi. In 1932, the first Bahá'í Local Spiritual Assembly was elected in Tokyo. In all of Japan there were 19 Bahá'ís then. The Association of Religion Data Archives (relying on World Christian Encyclopedia) estimated some 15 650 Japanese Bahá'ís in 2005 while the CIA World Fact book estimated about 12 000 in 2006.

Montreal, October 6, 2018 – Family and friends gathered at the Montreal Bahá’í Centre to celebrate the life of a devoted human being who passed away on September 7, 2018 in Tehran. Dr. Esmail Ghadirian was one of the founders of the Bahá’í Institute of Higher Education (BIHE), a scientist, a teacher with a lifelong service to humanity.

Esmail Ghadirian was born in 1927 in a Bahá’í family of seven children, in Sangsar, Semnan province of northern Iran. Devastating for his mother, his first twin brothers passed away in their infancy because of smallpox. Esmail had also three younger brothers (Abdu’l-Missagh, Parviz and Esfandiar) and an older sister, Ziba Khánum.  Their mother who was a teacher herself, made sure that the children received a thorough education. At a time when learning institutions were rare in Iran, this remarkable lady founded her own school for girls, both for Bahá’ís and Muslims.  All four brothers completed their doctorate degrees and all were (and still are) devoted, active believers.

Dr. Esmail Ghadirian studied first at Tehran University where he was awarded a Ph.D. in Veterinary Medicine in 1954.  Nine years later he received a Master’s degree in Microbiology and Immunology from “Institut Pasteur” and later a Ph.D. from the Faculty of Science at the Sorbonne, in France, in 1968.  Dr. Ghadirian taught at Tehran University, became a Professor Emeritus and engaged in research, specializing in Malariology. His area of research was not only in the southern part of Iran but also in the Balkans and the territories of the former Yugoslavia, Macedonia, Greece and France.  He was admitted as an expert collaborator into the World Health Organization (WHO) for the eradication of malaria, a global scourge.  He spent many years among Persian tribal populations in remote rural areas caring for the poor who were afflicted by malaria.

Dr. Ghadirian and his family lived in Montreal during 1974 to 1976.  He was involved in scientific research in the Department of Microbiology and Parasitology of the Faculty of Medicine at McGill University. During this period, his wife Fereshteh earned also a Master’s Degree in Microbiology. Their return to Iran coincided with the Islamic Revolution and consequently Dr. Ghadirian was dismissed from his employment at Tehran University due to his religious belief in the Bahá’í Faith.  Like other Bahá’í professors, he refused to deny his belief in his belief.  He was arrested and sent to Evin prison where he was blindfolded, interrogated, insulted and humiliated in an attempt to crush his determination to remain a Bahá’í.  Finally, he was released from prison in condition that he pays back his 27 years of salary for his teaching and research work at the university.  Despite all cruelty he endured, Dr. Ghadirian remained in Iran. Finally, in 1985 both he and his wife, were offered jobs working in an advanced laboratory which belonged to one of his former Muslim students. He stayed in this employment until his retirement in 2011.

During that difficult time for the Bahá’ís in Iran and prior to the formal establishment of BIHE, Dr. Ghadirian served on a five-member Board of Trustees accredited by Indiana University.  The Board started a Distance Learning Department in collaboration with that university to enable Bahá’í students who had been deprived of university education in Iran to continue their training in their field of studies.  After BIHE was founded in 1987, Dr. Ghadirian served as a member of the Medical Sciences Board in that institution. In later years, he served on the Governing Board, taught various courses in Microbiology and Immunology for almost three decades.  He and Fereshteh held many of these courses in their living room in Tehran in order to provide students with a superior quality education for the advancement of their careers. 

Many of Dr. Ghadirian’s former students are now working in the field of Microbiology or related fields in Iran or abroad.  In a letter addressed to Dr. Abdu’l-Missagh Ghadirian after the passing of his brother, Esmail, one of his former students who is currently an Associate Professor at an American university (Dr. Mina Yazdani), expressed her deep gratitude to Dr. Esmail Ghadirian and four other professors who had made it possible for her to attain her highest goal to continue her studies at Indiana University.  As students of Dr. Ghadirian, two of them who presently live in Montreal (Tolou Golkar and Mona Hashemi) spoke movingly at the commemoration; a reminiscence of his kindness, his humility and his dedication. At his funeral in Tehran, many of his former students, Muslims and Bahá’ís, paid hommage to his distinguished character, knowledge and invaluable contributions Esmail made in their lives and the life of the society in general. So great was their love for him that they insisted on carrying his casket to its resting place.

In a letter dated September 20, 2018 written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice about the passing of Dr. Esmail Ghadirian, it is stated: “Rest assured of the supplications of the House of Justice at the Sacred Threshold for the progress of his soul throughout the worlds of God.  Prayers will also be offered for his family members and other loved ones that they may find comfort and strength at this time of bereavement.”

Montreal, Septembre 10, 2018 - It was a rainy day that day in 1912 but `Abdu’l-Bahá’s departure for Toronto (en route to Buffalo) was already arranged. `Abdu’l-Bahá’s diarist Mahmoud was asked to take personal charge of his luggage. When, instead, the hotel staff took his luggage, Mahmoud was chastised, for `Abdu’l-Bahá’s luggage contained valuable documents and writings that he intended to present to the “libraries of London and Paris.” At the Grand Trunk Railway station, the chief custom inspector and his assistants cleared the luggage without any inspection, stating that they had no reason to inspect the luggage of the Bahá’ís. When the Master was told this, His face opened up like a rose and He expounded on the stations of truthfulness and trustworthiness, which are the sources of the prosperity and assurance of the people of the world

The influence of `Abdu’l-Bahá’s visit spread beyond the approximately 2500 people in Montreal who heard him speak or had direct personal contact with him. Some 440 000 readers of Montreal’s lively press, in English and in French, also became aware of his visit and teachings.

Among the excitement of the many Bahá’ís and others who had gathered to see him off, at Grand Trunk Railway train (now the Canadian Pacific Railway), the “International Limited,” pulled out of Bonaventure Station at 9:05 am. The Grand Trunk “Moccasin” engine was probably assigned to this run, taking `Abdu’l-Bahá to Toronto. While the Montreal Bahá’ís numbered fourteen souls, the believers were now strong in Faith and more stead fast than before.

It is astonishing to see that `Abdu'l-Bahá does not want any comfort and will not take any rest, even while traveling on the train. When translations of the newspaper articles and letters from the friends were read to Him, He immediately answered and bestowed His bounties upon them. To some He wrote in His own hand. When He was tired of writing, the Master spoke about the coming of Christ from the heaven of holiness: The Gospel expressly records that in His first coming, although Christ was born to Mary, He Himself said that He came from heaven. Thus, the meaning of `heaven' is the greatness of the Cause and eminence and might of the Manifestation of God Who spreads this divine Cause by His heavenly power and divine strength and not through material means.

The train route taking `Abdu’l-Bahá from Montreal to Toronto, and then to Niagara Falls and Buffalo in the United States, passed villages and towns that were home to individuals who would soon thereafter declare their belief in the new revelation: Farran’s Point, Brockville, Belleville, Toronto, Burlington, Hamilton, St. Catherines and Niagara falls. 

On this trip to Oshawa, Ontario, a 4-year-old First Nation child was sitting on a fence watching the train go by. He saw a man wearing a long, elegant white coat waving at him. He was so upset that he lost his balance and fell, but he never forgot what he saw that day. In 1948, thirty-six years later, Jim Loft, the first Native believer in Canada, accepted the Bahá'í faith and he remembered this incident when he saw the picture of 'Abdu'l-Bahá for the first time.

Those nine days which `Abdu’l-Bahá spent in Montreal are, for Canada, among the most significant in our country’s life, because we still have the opportunity to act upon what he said then and to build a country and a world worthy of his words and Baha’u’llah’s vision. When `Abdu'l-Baha left Montreal, he said,

"The time of the sojourn was limited to a number of days, but the results in the future are inexhaustible."

Today, we can only marvel at the example and inspiration of 'Abdu'l-Bahá who chose to include the city of Montreal in His busy itinerary, and the wisdom and efficiency of His decision to accomplish this journey despite His advanced age and His failing physical condition, for the sake of fifteen believers who, before 1912, had taken the initiative to go to the prison-city of 'Akká, thus exposing themselves to all dangers. Only the power of His presence in this world could inspire them to realize what would become the goal of their lives.

 

Photos : Bonaventure Central Station 1912 -  Jim Loft, First Bahá'í believer from First Nations - Bahá'í Group in Montreal circa 1912

Montreal, October 5, 2018- The last of a five series lectures on Islám was attended by a number of friends and researchers on the subject, at the newly renovated Montreal Bahá’í Centre. This fourth annual series of lectures were held in memory of Raymond Flournoy who spent over forty years teaching and studying the Bahá’í Faith in his home in Montreal. Many accepted the Faith by attending his weekly Firesides, some without even knowing English!

The purpose of these lectures on Islám, as it has been mentioned over and over by professor Todd Lawson, is to create an awareness amongst the general public that the real image of Islám is not what we see in the 21stcentury media. Exhilarated by the Writings of the Bahá’í Faith on Islám, Todd prepared these courses very carefully and, generously put them at our disposal.

This was the story of Muhammad, a genuine world spiritual hero, the least known outside His own community! During the course of these lectures, the general outline of Muhammad’s remarkable life and profile of His heroism were discussed and supported by His own revealed Holy Book, the Qurán as well as the Bahá’í Writings. The major accomplishments of His work, His knowledge and His exceptional humanity were brought to our attention. It is remarkable to notice the volume of writings, poetry and drama composed throughout centuries, elucidating, celebrating and glorifying this simple man of Arabia who introduced a unique world civilization to mankind. Arts and sciences, poetry and drama, music and opera – all flourished under the banner of the Prophet of Arabia- Almost unknown in the Western world.

It seems that ‘Abdu’l-Bahá was the first Eastern visitor who introduced Islám to the West during his three years visit to the two continents of Europe and North America in 1912. He spoke in many churches, synagogues, groups and meetings about the truth of Islám. It is heartening to realize that we can now appreciate greatly this unique Being, Muhammad, His mission, His sufferings, His compassion and His legacy through the Writings of the Founders of Bahá’í Faith.

Bahá’u’lláh in His Book “Gems of Divine Mysteries” speaks of Muhammad in following terms: “Know then that when Muhammad, the Point of the Qur'an and the Light of the All-Glorious, came with perspicuous verses and luminous proofs manifested in such signs as are beyond the power of all existence to produce, He bade all men follow this lofty and outstretched Path in accordance with the precepts that He had brought from God. Whoso acknowledged Him, recognized the signs of God in His inmost Being, and saw in His beauty the changeless beauty of God, the decree of "resurrection", "ingathering", "life", and "paradise" was passed upon him. For he who had believed in God and in the Manifestation of His beauty was raised from the grave of heedlessness, gathered together in the sacred ground of the heart, quickened to the life of faith and certitude, and admitted into the paradise of the divine presence. What paradise can be loftier than this, what ingathering mightier, and what resurrection greater? Indeed, should a soul be acquainted with these mysteries, he would grasp that which none other hath fathomed.”

The bahaimontreal.orgis happy to announce that a new page will be added to this website devoted to the Writings of the Central Figures of the Bahá’í Faith in regard to Muhammad, a Messenger of God and the object of reverence of millions of people throughout the world!

The Emeritus Professor of Islamic Thought at the University of Toronto, Todd Lawson, has thought in the field of Islamic Studies for over forty years and published numerous books and articles in Qur’ánic studies and related topics. He is also an enthusiastic lecturer on the above subject and has travelled vastly in Europe, United-States and the Middle East. His recent book on the Qur’án published by Oneworld Academic 2017, received enthusiastic reviews by a great number of scholars in this field.   

 

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