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The Bahá'ís of Ottawa come from a variety of backgrounds, brought together by a common belief in the oneness of humanity and the unity of religion. We work alongside others to become a force of positive change by applying insights from the Bahá'í teachings to bring about a more just, peaceful and unified community.
The Bahá'í Faith from A to Z

Week No. 2: "B"
View all weeks here.

    The woman is indeed of the greater importance to the race. She has the greater burden and the greater work. The woman has greater moral courage than the man; she also has special gifts which enable her to govern in moments of danger and crisis.

In addition to personal prayer and meditation, Bahá'í communities hold regular devotional gatherings for collective worship. These gatherings unite people in prayer and awaken their spiritual susceptibilities. more...

Study circles bring groups of people together to deepen their understanding of the Bahá'í teachings through systematic study. This involves structured group discussion of passages from the Bahá'í writings that encourage reflection on one’s moral purpose and capacities for service. more...

Bahá'í children’s classes are offered to all children between 6 and 10 years old for their spiritual education and moral development. The aim of these classes is to inspire in each child a love for our diverse human family and to cultivate a praiseworthy character. They are guided by the Bahá'í belief that children are noble beings with great potential to develop into upright and active participants in their community. more...

Junior youth – or those between 11 and 14 years – are at a crucial stage in their lives when they are defining their identity and values. Junior youth groups offered by the Bahá'í community address the needs of these young people by helping them to develop a strong moral identity and to empower them to contribute to the well-being of their communities. more...

July 7, 2020

Statement on racial prejudice spurs vital conversation in the US

CHICAGO — A public statement from the Baha’i National Spiritual Assembly of the United States on racial prejudice and spiritual principles essential for progress toward peace released days ago has already stimulated critical reflection across the country.

The statement comes at a moment when recent tragedies and long history have intersected to bring anti-Black racism and other forms of prejudice to the forefront of public consciousness in the United States and across the world.

The message reads in part: “To create a just society begins with recognition of the fundamental truth that humanity is one. But it is not enough simply to believe this in our hearts. It creates the moral imperative to act, and to view all aspects of our personal, social, and institutional lives through the lens of justice. It implies a reordering of our society more profound than anything we have yet achieved. And it requires the participation of Americans of every race and background, for it is only through such inclusive participation that new moral and social directions can emerge.”

The statement was released on 19 June, a date traditionally dedicated to commemorating the end of slavery in the United States. Initially published in the Chicago Tribune, it has also appeared in dozens of other publications, reaching a wide range of people.

Youth across the country have been examining how the statement can assist them in their efforts to contribute to greater harmony and understanding among their fellow compatriots. Participants in a recent national forum on race unity drew on ideas from the statement to illuminate their discussions.

The message voiced by the National Assembly is one of hope, speaking about what is required to address the root causes of racism: sustained and concerted effort guided by the recognition of the fundamental truth that the human family is one.

This view is informed by the experience of a national Baha’i community in which, since its inception at the turn of the 20th century, people of African and European descent and eventually of all origins have joined hands to labor towards the elimination of racial prejudice.

May Lample of the country’s Baha’i Office of Public Affairs says that this message addresses profound questions that people are raising. “Americans are asking who we are as a society. What do we believe, and what will we tolerate? How much longer will we allow suffering to continue before we take action to make substantive change?”

P.J. Andrews, also of the Office, says: “In the culture of ‘othering’ in which we’re embedded, diversity can be seen as a source of weakness. But in truth diversity is a source of wealth. Unity in diversity is something that strengthens us spiritually as a society.”

Speaking about current circumstances, Anthony Vance, Director of the Office of Public Affairs, states: “It is remarkable that in just a short span of weeks, demands for racial justice have not only been strongly renewed but are made with a much broader base of support throughout the US population. With smart phones everywhere to record events, injustices that the Black community has spoken about for generations have become indisputable fact. Large segments of society have become conscious of this reality to a degree where inaction becomes untenable. In seizing this opportunity to act, Baha’is seek to undertake or expand activities, learn, think systematically, and, perhaps most importantly, persist over the long term to make a lasting advance toward justice and unity.”

Published by the The Bahá'í World News Service June 24, 2020 © Copyright (c) The Bahá'í World News Service

June 22, 2020


For over a dozen years, Jack McLean[1] served as the Bahá’í contributor to the Ask a Religion Expert in the Ottawa Citizen, which also included Christian, Muslim, Jewish and humanist contributors. In these times when the entire world is battling a pandemic, we thought that many of these universal questions and answers from a Bahá’í point of view would be of interest to our readers.

Question: Does prayer change God’s mind?

Answer: An important supplement to today’s question would be: “Does prayer change our mind?” Prayer has a number of important functions, beyond the well-known “prayer of petition”— asking God for something that we want or need. One of these other functions is to seek guidance for a course of action. Another is completely non-conceptual: to fill our hearts with inspiration, divine light and love. This is the prayer of love, when the believer prays for no other reason than to commune with the object of one’s heart’s desire.

The fatalistic point of view would have it there is no need to pray because God has already ordered the universe according to divine wisdom. But this sort of attitude does not take into account two factors: First, contingency operates in our lives and in the universe; Second, we, as well as others, benefit from this now much neglected spiritual exercise. In other words, the act of supplication itself contributes to the stability and growth of the soul.

The command to pray is surely not given in vain. If prayer did not influence the Divine Will, then why would we be asked to pray? ‘Abdu’l-Bahá (1844-1921), the appointed successor of his father, Bahá’u’lláh, the Prophet-Founder of the Bahá’í Faith, and the interpreter of his teachings, said: “God will answer the prayer of every servant if that prayer is urgent. His mercy is vast, illimitable” (Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 246). However, he goes on to explain that divine wisdom does not sanction every prayer. If we all prayed to be wealthy, were that prayer to be universally answered, world affairs would come to a standstill.

What is the connection between prayer and fate or predestination? Bahá’u’lláh has revealed that the divine will orders two sorts of divine decrees: irrevocable and impending. The irrevocable decree cannot be changed, but he states that “The decree that is impending, however, is such that prayer and entreaty can succeed in averting it” (Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh, p. 133). This statement shows clearly that prayer can influence the Divine Will.
- Jack McLean

[1]Scholar and poet J.A. (Jack) McLean received a BA in French literature and history at the Sorbonne (University of Paris), a BA in French and Religious Studies at the University of Toronto, and later graduated with distinction with an M.A. in the History of Religions from the University of Ottawa. His books include: Dimensions in Spirituality: Reflections on Spiritual Life and Transformation in Light of the Bahá’í Faith; Under the Divine Lote Tree: Essays and Reflections, and; A Celestial Burning: A Selective Study of the Writings of Shoghi Effendi, for which he won the distinguished scholarship award in the book category from the Association of Bahá’í Studies North America. He also won the annual award for creative writing in poetry (1995). His poetry, academic and newspaper articles, book reviews and essays are available at www.jack-mclean.com

Dawn of the Light portrays several individuals from different continents as they relate their own personal search after truth and meaning. They share their discovery that God has sent two Divine Manifestations —the Báb and Bahá’u’lláh. Watch or download the film here.

The Bahá'í world eagerly anticipated the second historic bicentenary in Bahá'í history. October 2019 marked the 200th anniversary of the birth of the Báb, the forerunner and herald of the Bahá'í Faith. Visit the website here.

There is a story unfolding. It is a story of humanity’s progress through history, propelled by the teachings of Messengers of God Who have guided humanity through its stages of development, and now to the dawn of its maturity. Watch or download the film here.

The Bahá'í world eagerly anticipated the second historic bicentenary in Bahá'í history. October 2019 marked the 200th anniversary of the birth of the Báb, the forerunner and herald of the Bahá'í Faith. Follow our special series on the "Life of the Báb Cameo Series". Start the eleven part series here.

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