Saturday 4 November 2023
Saturday 24 June 2023
I have a question regarding Baha'i inheritance laws. My uncle, a fellow Baha'i, recently passed away, and his property is being divided among his close relatives. I took care of him extensively before my marriage, even though he had daughters. Do the Baha'i laws entitle me to any share of his inheritance? I reached out to the LSA for help, but they were unable to assist me. Can you provide any guidance on this matter?
Wednesday 2 March 2022
GRIEVED PASSING SHIRIN FOZDAR, DEDICATED MAIDSERVANT BAHA’U’LLAH. HER INDEFATIGABLE SPIRIT, ABIDING DEVOTION, PERSISTENT AUDACITY, UNTIRING EFFORTS SERVICE BELOVED CAUSE SPANNING OVER SEVEN DECADES IN FIELD TEACHING, PROCLAMATION, ADMINISTRATION, EDUCATION, EMBRACING MANY COUNTRIES, PARTICULARLY INDIAN SUBCONTINENT AND SOUTHEAST ASIA, HAVE EARNED HER WORTHY POSITION AMONG IMMORTAL FIGURES HISTORY FAITH FORMATIVE AGE BAHA’I DISPENSATION. HER ACTIVITIES INTERNATIONAL FIELDS, PARTICULARLY RELATED STATUS WOMEN, HAVE OPENED NEW DOORS REACHING HIGHER STRATA SOCIETY. TO LAST BREATH HER PRECIOUS LIFE SHE CONSCIOUSLY STROVE RENDER SERVICE FAITH.
Extract of the message dated 3 February 1992 from The Universal House of Justice to our National Spiritual Assembly on the passing of Mrs Shirin Fozdar.
The diminutive, sari-clad Shirin Fozdar is best remembered for having spoken up time and again for women’s rights, despite threats of assassination for speaking on a sensitive issue.
Born in Bombay of Persian parents, Mrs Fozdar’s dedicated efforts in Singapore started as soon as she migrated here with her doctor husband in 1950 to help set up a Baha’i community. Her attempts to improve the status of women were remarkable considering the political and social backdrop of Singapore at that time. Communist agents were active, and there was social unrest, unemployment and labour strikes, and few dared to speak out against the establishment for fear of being branded a communist.
This oft-described “champion of Asian women” co-founded the Singapore Council of Women (SCW) in 1952 with the goal of improving the lot of Singapore women. As honorary secretary and spokesperson of the SCW throughout the 50s, she sent strongly-worded letters to government officials in Singapore and to the colonial affairs office in London pressing for a monogamous marriage law. An eloquent speaker, she also gave numerous talks and lobbied for reforms.
Her persistent efforts combined with those of other women leaders helped Singapore women attain a major victory—the Women’s Charter. Mrs Fozdar, a mother of five children, also tried to help women through education. She spearheaded Singapore’s first girls’ club at Joo Chiat Welfare Centre in 1953 where subjects like English and arithmetic were taught.
Her fight for equality had started when she was a teenager in India. In 1934, she represented the All Asian Women’s Conference executive committee at the League of Nations in Geneva making a case for women’s rights. A decade later, she set up women’s groups in India to help impoverished women.
She once told the press that she was compelled to fight for women because of her Bahá’í Faith which teaches that men and women are equal. “I believe if women all over the world will make common cause in obtaining due rights for their sex, their efforts will be crowned with success.”
Recognized in several countries for her active promotion of equality, she was often invited abroad to give her views. In 1959, she was invited by the American government to speak on women’s rights and colour prejudice. She also led delegations to overseas conferences to discuss women’s rights and issues. In 1961, Mrs Fozdar went to rural northeast Thailand to set up a school for girls and returned to Singapore 14 years later when her work was completed. From then onwards up till her death in February 1992 at age 87, she traveled tirelessly all over the Asia-Pacific region attending conferences and meeting with civic and religious leaders, politicians and women activists.
Numerous accolades have been showered on Mrs Fozdar. In 1988, she was the first woman singled out for a tribute by the Singapore Council of Women’s Organizations. Ms Lena Lim, who read the tribute, said: “We want to salute her for having spoken on unspeakable subjects, for daring to venture into areas others feared to tread.”
Mr S. Rajaratnam, Singapore’s former Minister for Foreign Affairs, voiced a common opinion when he wrote in a commemorative brochure: “I have known … of the single-minded way in which she struggled to promote and safeguard the rights of women and to enhance the status of women in our country...I would like to join with others in recognition of her services to promote justice for women in Asia.”
In May 1993, the Association of Women for Action and Research launched The Shirin Fozdar Trust Fund. The fund, to be used for the advancement of women in Singapore, keeps alive the memory of this well-loved woman leader and carries on her vision of a world where men and women are equal.
(Voices & Choices, The Women’s Movement in Singapore, Pg 146-147)
Tuesday 22 February 2022
CANVASSING AT THE NSA ELECTION IN 1968, AS A RESULT OF WHICH THE UHJ DISSOLVED THE NSA AND REQUESTED A NEW ELECTION
The process of Baha'i elections, as we all know, is completely different from the methodology and practices of elections in other political systems. At least, it is what the Baha'i authorities usually explain. The Baha'i Guardian has stated that if politicians' election methods are followed, misunderstandings and divisions would occur, turmoil and confusion will result, mischief will prevail, and God's confirmations will be shut off from that Baha'i community. Given these dire warnings, wouldn't a devout Baha'i go to great lengths to ensure that the purity and spiritual integrity of Baha'i elections be preserved? But, regrettably, we view things differently. Although we see these things occurring in the Baha'i community with every year with every other election, the only difference is that measures are done just once in a while.
Former counsellor explained that somewhere in early 70’s there was a huge canvassing in NSA election. UHJ wrote to counsellors that they should, decide on the problem right away. Because of the gravity of the situation, it was decided that all of the Counsellors should travel to India. The five Counselors met with India's National Spiritual Assembly to assess the tragedy's impact and organize the next Convention's convocation.
The news was then relayed to the public, culminating in the announcement of the Supreme Body’s penalty against Dr. Bhargava, Mr. Vadji, Mr. Lad, and Mr. Tripathy. It was the clear instruction from the Supreme Body that the reasons for reconvocation of the National Convention and the re—election of the NSA should be defined and the delegates to the Convention should be told of the sanctions imposed on them. Mr. Rahmani and Dr. Salmanpour also joined the meeting and the matter was fully explained after the inspection was done. It was wrote to the Supreme Body that indeed there was ‘corruption’ and ‘collision’ of monetary machinations in India, it has a direct link to Mr. Vadji and his utter humiliation.
The absent delegates' ballots were one of the major elements publicly recognized by NSA members. The Centre of canvassing is the area where the majority of delegates are illiterate, either completely or partially. Traveling instructors are frequently hired to accept ballots, and it is here that electioneering, canvassing, and other nefarious activities take place. If a lot of delegates from the south of India want to attend the Convention, they will have to travel three days by train to New Delhi, necessitating at least a week to travel and remain in Delhi. For laborers, growers, and low-wage staff, this is exorbitant. Despite the fact that the NSA covers all expenses and lodging, the delegates from the South will have a difficult time attending the Convention. Bhopal and Gwalior are home to the majority of the delegates. They are greeted by visiting teachers. Unfortunately, there are a few illiterates within this group. Electioneering's multifaceted ramifications may clearly be sensed in various areas. It was also thought that Mr. Lad would initiate entangling activities and contemplate to gain accomplice in his vesture. And Dr. Bhargava would recede presently but finally he would join Mr. Lad, and create ge trouble particularly in regions of such as Bihar and Gwalior. It was also said that looking at the potential of these two members there should be consideration and tact, so that these members do not react. So where was the spirit of Bahai Election it shows “Mighty wins the Race.”
The same practices are still rampant but with the knowledge of the Supreme Body who sees that if the desired members are elected on the NSA they overlook it but if undesired elements are elected then they ask for his resignation citing malpractices.
Mr. Oliya was being elected on NSA for many years with all the above-mentioned malpractices but still he was allowed to continue but Dr. Ahmed Ansari was undesired member so was asked to quit.
Mrs. Farideh Vahidi and Dr. Moghbelpour were undesired member and hence were too asked to quit
It should be mentioned that the preceding occurrence occurred about 50 years ago, and no such action has been taken since then. If you ask any Baha'i, they will tell you that similar things are still happening around them throughout the election season, but no one is doing anything about it. When you observe certain inexperienced or immature Baha'is participate in electioneering, whether publicly or surreptitiously, it is job of the Counsellor present to stand up and aid in the eradication of such inclinations and the purification of the Baha'i community from such bad influences. Rather than being drawn to mimic them, you should resolve to help in the eradication of such inclinations and the purifying of the Baha'i community from such bad influences by right administrative means. Only then will we be able to cleanse our system of such atrocities as Baha'is.
-Former Member of NSA OF INDIA
Thursday 2 December 2021
Dear Bahai Readers,
We have been always told that the Bahai Faith is a universal religion for the present age and that a manifestation of God comes after every 1000 years to revive the word of God and keep the spirit of faith fresh by aligning laws tuned with the times. However, it seems that UHJ has taken over to change the commandment and issue ordinances to keep in tune with changing times within 100 years itself (without any manifestation appearing)!!
UHJ in its pursuit of popular support has thus put ethics and morality on the back-burner. As a humble devoted Bahai, I find a number of instances of lack of proper governance and conduct on part of UHJ. Hence with the sole purpose of rectification of the Faith highest body, I have embarked to bring to the attention of the community such instances through a series of articles. The first of the series of articles is titled ’All is fair in love…’
Background: It is reported that youngsters deciding their own life partners is becoming common. Very often they elope with their lovers and enter into a civil marriage. In an official communication to the NSA of Burma in 2011, the UHJ has taken an unexpected liberal stand on the issue and in fact reprimanded the NSA for its tough stand. An interesting analysis is presented on related issues as a comparison of what should be the response in line with Eqaan & Aqdas and what was the response of today's UHJ for the benefit of readers: UHJ justifies immoral character behind the barricades of love of the administrative body and innocence of the culprit. Then why do not UHJ says that while taking a declaration one should check how much one knows about the laws of the Faith. This is just justification Saying Bahais you do whatever you like but increase the Bahai number.
The ruling of Eqaan & Aqdas
The ruling of UHJ of 21st Century
Disregard for Baha'i law by community members
Should not be tolerated at any cost
Develop a warm and loving relationship with the believers in its community. (this approach has resulted in more love relationships by Bahai youth)
Violation of Bahai Laws
Should not be accepted under any circumstances
Should be considered on a case-by-case basis. Assembly should examine the specific circumstances of each situation, taking into account factors such
as the extent of a believer's prior understanding of the law …...
(means that UHJ feels laws are outdated individuals are more important)
Violation of rule: Is there a concept of chance?
Violation is a violation and there is no difference in the first and second time. A Bahai is supposed to be a responsible member of the community and humanity.
Only in extreme circumstances, where a person, ignoring all admonishments from the Assembly, persists in his actions and knowingly and flagrantly violates a law, would it be necessary for the Assembly to consider a partial or full suspension of administrative rights. (in reality, there are no admonishments only goody-goody behaviour)
How the assembly should be regarded
As a point for reference by the locals. Word of assembly is final, as its authority is from UHJ.
This is a harshly judgemental and punitive approach.
The Assembly should aspire to be regarded by the members of the community as a loving parent, wise in its understanding of the varying degrees of maturity of those entrusted to its care, compassionate in dealing with the problems which arise as a result of any shortcomings, ever prepared to guide them to the correct path, and very patient as they strive to effect the necessary changes in their behaviour. (read: be compromising in approach, strive to be popular rather than correct)
Laws relating to chastity, marriage and divorce.
Need to be respected and strictly observed and implemented
Be flexible and liberal in approach. With this approach, the Faith members would voluntarily accept. (what wishful thinking!!!)
Dear Readers, it is clear that the drift of UHJ would dilute the Faith Principles in no time. We need not wait for a new manifestation. We are already having a dynamic manifestation in form of UHJ who is ever keen to change with times. Wonder how many such out-of-wedlock relations exist in the UHJ? It is high time the UHJ becomes more quality conscious and avoid dancing to the public tune, else the fabric of Faith would be destroyed. Are Bahais in Iran giving so much sacrifice for this? Is Bahai blood so cheap? How long will the hypocrisy continue?
From a chip of the old block
ORIGINAL LETTER OF UNIVERSAL HOUSE OF JUSTICE.
(Courtesy: The National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of the Union of Myanmar)
13 January 2011
Transmitted by email: email@example.com
The National Spiritual Assembly of
the Baha'is of the Union of Myanmar
Dear Baha'i Friends,
The Universal House of Justice has received your email letter dated 15 November 2010 regarding the prevalence of elopement among Baha'i youth. It is understood that this is an issue which your community has faced for many years despite sanctions being placed on believers who show disregard for Baha'i law. To assist you in your ongoing deliberations on this serious matter, we have been asked to provide you with the following comments, which address the general topic as well as the specific issue you raise.
The aim of any Spiritual Assembly should be to develop a warm and loving relationship with the believers in its community so that it can most effectively nurture and encourage them in the acquisition of a deeper understanding of the Teachings and can assist them to follow the Baha'i principles in their personal conduct. The Assembly should aspire to be regarded by the members of the community as a loving parent, wise in its understanding of the varying degrees of maturity of those entrusted to its care, compassionate in dealing with the problems which arise as a result of any shortcomings, ever prepared to guide them to the correct path, and very patient as they strive to effect the necessary changes in their behaviour. Such an approach is far removed from the harshly judgemental and punitive approach which so often characterizes the administration of law in the wider society.
The House of Justice feels that violations of Baha'i law, even when they involve blatant disregard for fundamental verities of the Faith, should be considered on a case-by-case basis. This means that an Assembly should examine the specific circumstances of each situation, taking into account factors such as the extent of a believer's prior understanding of the law in question and whether he is willing to rectify the error quickly. Only in extreme circumstances, where a person, ignoring all admonishments from the Assembly, persists in his actions and knowingly and flagrantly violates a law, would it be necessary for the Assembly to consider a partial or full suspension of administrative rights. In this regard, it may be helpful to consider the following, stated in a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi.
The general basis for the deprivation of voting rights is of course gross immorality and open opposition to the administrative functions of the Faith, and disregard for the laws of personal status; and even then it is the duty of the National Assembly, before exercising this sanction, to confer with the individuals involved in a loving manner to help them overcome the problem; second, to warn them that they must desist; three, to issue further warnings if the original warnings are not followed; and finally, if there seems no other way to handle the matter, then a person may be deprived of voting rights.
The circumstances you describe in your community demonstrate the kinds of judgement that an Assembly must exercise in upholding the laws of the Faith in its jurisdiction. The first requirement lies in having a sound approach for the general education of the believers in the laws of the Faith, among which are the laws relating to chastity, marriage and divorce. This is important because there is such a widespread attitude in non-Baha'i society that accords little respect to the formalities of marriage. Any attempt to educate the community in the laws of the Faith, however, will need to be set in the context of the greater purpose of the Revelation to carry forward an ever-advancing civilization. Baha'is should understand not only what it is they should do, but why these actions are important for the spiritual and moral health both of individuals and of society. While this approach--necessarily gradual and long-term--proceeds, Assemblies must use good judgement in applying the laws, bearing in mind their responsibility to lovingly and patiently educate new believers and younger generations within the Faith.
Thus, the Spiritual Assembly, both national and local, has a vital twofold responsibility. It should aim not only to apply the laws of Baha'u'llah with justice and firmness but to increase the believers' understanding of, and devotion to, these laws and principles and above all to raise their awareness of the significance of the Revelation. In this way, they will obey the laws not through fear of punishment but out of love for Baha'u'llah.
In your deliberations on how to educate believers in the Baha'i law of marriage, you will no doubt wish to consult with Counsellor Myint Zaw Oo, as this is a matter vital to the spiritual health of the community.
With loving Baha'i greetings,
Department of the Secretariat
cc: International Teaching Centre
Board of Counsellors in Asia
Counsellor Myint Zaw Oo
Tuesday 30 November 2021
Today, Humanity is at a critical juncture faced with the unprecedented and unexpected calamity in the form of the Covid-19 Pandemic. In the face of this crisis, Nations, Organisations, communities and even individuals are engaged in selfless service trying to help their fellow human beings’ tide over the devastating effects of this pandemic. Nations are rising over past rivalries and animosities, and people are rising over racism and xenophobia to help each other.
However, in the face of all of this, the “Baha’i Administration” is doing, as usual, NOTHING MEANINGFUL. The “Administration”, as always, in this time of crisis is bent on paying lip service and nothing more. This way of dumb and mute service is the innate nature of the “Baha’i Administration” and is in perfect alignment with the past set precedents of service of the “Administration”.
Allow me to enumerate the various “Powerful” (read: self-serving and futile; Lip Service) steps which the “Administration” will take at this time of crisis
- The various secretaries of the Local Spiritual Assemblies will write flowery reports, elaborating in detail each small action done by the individual Baha’is (branded as the LSA’s effort) while exaggerating the same to appear as a humungous effort on part of the LSA. This is while in reality the individual Baha’is themselves are encouraged to do good not for humanity but for LSA reports where each activity in counted. One LSA report states about their dilemma where the Baha’is are asking them for guidance as to how they should serve the community during these dire times! As if any sane person needs guidance on that!!!
The Secretaries of the LSA’s know very well that promotion in the Baha’i administrative order is very much tied to one’s capacity at writing attractive reports.
- The National Spiritual Assemblies will then collect all of these puff pieces to assemble a massive report which will be nothing but a whole lot of blarney. All NSA’s are supposed to be masters in exaggerating the already exaggerated. The reality here is that the re-election of all of these “serving” members of LSA and NSAs depends on these rubbish reports and exaggerations. The secretary of the NSAs will then forwards these reports to the world centre which will then generate a very holy sounding poetic statement which would sound something like this: –
“In city after city, village after village, we see that a greater consciousness of our common humanity is emerging among many people. This is spurring them on to help others and to transcend traditional barriers and prejudices that keep them apart. The Baha’i communities together with local organizations and institutions are raising awareness about the corona virus disease (COVID-19).”
- The next step in their self-serving Lip Service at this time of crisis would be to send out correspondences to figures of authority in various countries (like the office of the Prime Minister etc). This work comes under the purview of the External Affairs Committee of the NSA and is the most important assignment for all of the NSAs worldwide. In these letters/correspondences the NSAs will express their sympathies and solidarity with the government in this crisis while emphasising that they are all obeying the respective directives given by the said government but without ever explicitly specifying how “they” are going to help.
Because in reality they have no intention of helping and the purpose of sending such a letter is much more sinister. What they in fact desire is a response (which is usually issued to all organisations which write to these august offices) from these figures in authority thanking them for their sympathies which will then be used by the administration to publicise their “Achievement” worldwide – That the Bahai’s have received welcoming and appreciating letters from Heads of States – As if the religion of Baha’u’llah needs validation from them.
While not always, often it has also been seen that a whisper campaign is then started to spread malicious news that such and such head of state is now a Baha’i and is hiding his true beliefs fearing public repercussion – proof of which is a polite letter of thanks written by them (simply audacious)
- The NSAs will then start asking for money from the ordinary Baha’is (whom they fondly refer to as sheep) and from other organisations. Of these monies a very small percentage actually makes its way to relief activities (and the NSAs feel no need to publish statistics regarding how many cents to a dollar is actually spent towards relief activities) but not before the “Administration” will very shamefully make it into a photo-op, usually with Government officials involved , for worldwide circulation, to show acceptance of the Baha’i faith.
- And Lastly there is section of the “Administration” called as the Kamalabadi Baha’is who will take great pride in labelling this occasion of misfortune as the revenge of Baha’u’llah on Humanity. They will in fact label all that befalls humanity as the revenge of Baha’u’llah since Humanity has not accepted the message of Baha’u’llah, in their sordid thinking, it is then necessary for Baha’u’llah to take revenge from humanity by involving it in harsh punishments.
This kind of thinking originates from a mind which has suffered years of spiritual rot at the hands of the Administration. Such statements of hate and acting like spokespersons for Baha’u’llah comes naturally to them since they have for long left the true teachings of Baha’u’llah and have adopted false ideas, false systems and false “Administrations” as authorities over them.
I believe that it is the moral responsibility of all true Baha’is to condemn these Kamalabadi Baha’is who find solace in the Misfortune of others (including the many Baha’i who have been affected by this).
Alas, But in these times of tribulations and crisis, it seems that the chosen ones of Baha’u’llah, us Baha’is appear to be the most lost all because of this false “Administration” which does service only when it is self-service and helps only when it needs help in return. And all of this grand charade of service (Lip Service) by the “Administration” at the time of crises is only a means of marking their presence and safeguarding their relevance in our society.
A pained Baha’i
Friday 30 April 2021
Soli Sorabjee, former attorney general of India dies due to COVID-19 at the age of 91 in Delhi, India
Born into a Zoroastrian family, he married Zena Sorabjee, a Baha'i by faith. He did not accept the Baha'i faith for his whole life. The Apex organisation of the Baha'i Faith, the Universal House of Justice was aware of the influence and power which Soli Sorabjee yielded with the Government of India. The House of Justice was aware that a non-Baha'i - Soli Sorabjee, is more helpful to them than a Baha'i one. So, they never insisted on his being converted to the Baha'i Faith. Once he became old, sick and useless, the UHJ asked his wife Zena Sorabjee to resign from the National Spiritual Assembly of India, on which she was duly elected that year.
Soli Sorabjee assisted the Baha'is with major projects like the construction of the Baha'i Lotus Temple in Delhi.
He was also a major point of contact for the Baha'is to get their works done with the Indian government.
His influence was used by the Baha'is to get the huge piece of land from Delhi authorities.
He also helped Lotus temple trustees when they were accused of "document forgery" and "embezzling funds". They have used him in all possible ways for the overall benefit of the Baha'i faith in India.
Soli used to make fun of the Baha'is when he used to hear that there are 3 to 4 million Baha'is in the world! He used to say, "either you say 3 million, or 4 million, or better you say, you don't know the number! You cannot fool the intelligent people."
Today, the UHJ is playing the same game with his daughter Zia Mody. Zia an imminent lawyer is handling all legal matters of the Baha'i organisation, free of cost! She also donates huge amounts to the Baha'i administration, in return she receives a letter from the Universal House of Justice that they will pray at the threshold of the Shrines! All missionary activities of the Baha'is in India is carried out with Zia’s contributions to various Baha'i funds.
What Soli Sorabjee received from the Baha’is?
There will be memorial meetings at the Baha'i Centres in various cities. Soli Sorabjee will be remembered as a friend of the faith, but he will be listed among the influential persons who have converted to the Baha'i Faith!
These kinds of personalities are always regarded as Baha'is after their death! Don't forget the Queen of Romania who remained a devout Christian until her death but is counted among the "influential Baha'is" due to her connection with the Baha'is.
The Baha'i organization is nothing but a group of full-time hypocrites.