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Montreal, May 24, 2018 - Some 150 friends and members of the Montreal community gathered at the Bahá’í Center to celebrate the anniversary of the mission of the Báb, the Herald of the Faith. This event, which took place in a modest house in Shiráz 174 years ago, denotes the beginning of the Bahá’í Era and the New Era in World Civilization. Special prayers accompanied by music and historical texts about the events of the Báb's Declaration were presented by the Bahá'í friends of Heart of the East, Montreal, with the help of the children and youth of the community.

 The Bahá’í era dates from May 23, 1844 when, in the Iranian City of Shiraz, the Báb declared His mission. On that occasion, He spoke these words to Mulla Husayn, the first person to recognize that mission: "Verily I say, I am the Báb, the Gate of God.... This night, this very hour will, in the days to come, be celebrated as one of the greatest and most significant of all festivals."

Bahá’u’lláh refers to the Báb as ‘My former manifestation’. Following his declaration, the Báb sent Mulla Husayn to Teheran to seek out Baha’u’llah, who instantly accepted the Bab’s message, and summoned all those around him to do the same. Thus from the earliest days of the Baha’i Faith the Báb and Bahá’u’lláh were united in spirit.

We can better understand the meaning of this Baha’i holy day, characterized as this ‘greatest and most significant of all festivals’ if we reflect on how, since that period, the world has utterly changed. Baha’is believe that the Báb and Bahá’u’lláh released a creative energy that is transforming everything about human life.

Bahá’u’lláh wrote. “A new life is, in this age, stirring within all the peoples of the earth; and yet none hath discovered its cause or perceived its motive. This new life is apparent in such things as the explosion of human knowledge, in steps that reflect a growing consciousness of the oneness of the human family, the establishment of the United Nations, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, world-wide undertakings to improve agriculture and hygiene, and medical care, efforts to elevate international standards and laws, and a recognition of the need to advance the status of women and girls.

Beginnings are always special – a wedding, the birth of a baby, the appearance of some wonderful new invention or process. How much more special, then, is the anniversary of the Declaration of the Báb, which was the moment of birth for a new religious community. Now a community of approximately 5 million established throughout the world, Baha’is work hand in hand with other communities, well-wishers, partners and collaborators to fulfill the promises of the Bab and Baha’u’llah that will see humanity living together in peace and prosperity.

Montréal, May 16, 2018 - Secondary 1 students at the Collège de Montréal visited the Bahá'í Shrine, the former home of Montréal architect William Sutherland Maxwell, on Wednesday, May 16. This house, the only sacred place in North America, was blessed by Abdu'l-Bahá's stay in Montreal in 1912.

The 25 students were accompanied by their animator for spiritual life and community involvement at the Collège de Montréal. Indeed, the college offers a course of ethics and religious culture that allows students to know the major religions of the world. Throughout the year, students explore how different religions in Quebec and elsewhere have influenced our lives, our traditions and our way of understanding our society.

The Collège de Montréal has a diverse community of students from many countries around the world. Through this activity, it is desirable for students to interact with people from different religious traditions, which will allow for a better dialogue between them and the people they live with every day. Thus, the students develop their knowledge as well as increase their horizons.

This year, the fourth year since students of the Collège visited the Shrine, we received 25 students accompanied by two teachers. During the one-and-a-half hour visit, an excerpt from the "Light of the World" video was presented and information about the history and principles of the Bahá'í Faith was shared with the students. They received pamphlets on the Bicentennial of Bahá'u'lláh's birth and the repertoire of Bahá'í Holy days and Calendar. Each student had the task to complete a questionnaire about their experience during the visit and write about the main topics they have learned. A period was allocated to questions and discussion to help them to complete this task.

The students were very respectful when visiting the Shrine. They asked many questions about the decorative objects displayed in different rooms of the Maxwell Home and their significance. They expressed their joy at having the opportunity to visit this sacred place in Montreal.

This year, the Collège de Montréal celebrates the 250th year of its founding. It was founded in 1767 by the Sulpician Jean-Baptiste Curatteau of the Blaiserie, the Collège moved then into the enlarged presbytery of the parish of St. Francis of Assisi of Longue Pointe, east of the Island of Montreal, 125 years after the founding of this city and 100 years before Canadian Confederation.

This annual visit to the Collège de Montréal has not been possible without the support of a small team of friends, dedicated to community service.

Montreal, March 21, 2018 - The Bahá'í Community of Montreal celebrated the New Year on this spring day at Centre communautaire et aquatique (CAA), Côte-St-Luc. Over a hundred of different nationalities, ethnicities, cultures and languages ​​participated in this annual event. Celebrated around the world, this holiday is also a joyful occasion for Parsees (Zoroastrians), Iranians and other nationalities across the Asia and Middle East.

 This day also coincides with the official launch of Action Week Against Racism. This event was celebrated at the Montréal City Hall in the presence of guests, partners and representatives of various levels of government, as well as at Saint-Laurent City Hall and several other neighborhoods of the city.

 “This sacred day when the sun illumines equally the whole earth is called the equinox and the equinox is the symbol of the divine messenger. The sun of truth rises on the horizon of divine mercy and sends forth its rays on all.”  

(‘Abdu'l-Bahá, Divine Philosophy)

 "Naw Rúz" [or Now-Rouz] is the feast celebrated by Bahá'ís around the world on the occasion of the beginning of the calendar and the Bahá'í year: March 21st, the first Spring day, the beginning of the awakening of nature, the blossoming of buds and flowers!

 What's more logical and more natural, indeed, than to start the year that day. Also, the Báb (the Herald of the Bahá'í Faith), who instituted the new calendar of the New Era, chose this date (March 21st) as New Year's Day, a choice ratified later by Bahá'u'lláh. This day has already been celebrated since centuries before Christ as a feast and was called "Naw Rúz". This is how it was kept for our Bahá'í New Year celebration.

 What did it represent in ancient Persia, since this festival is at least three millennia and probably more than 25 centuries old?

 "Now Rouz" (transliterated: Naw Rúz and pronounced No(w) Rouz, means in Persian: New Day. In Iranian mythology it is said that the Supreme God created the universe in six days: successively; Heaven, Earth, water, plants, animals and, on the sixth day, the Man ... A celebration for each of these creations: that of the appearance of the Man was called "Naw Rúz" !

 Until the year 538 BC, "Naw Rúz" was only the festival of Creation (of Man). From this date on ward, the Iranians will make coincide the New Year's Day with the first day of Spring. This change of date was made under the reign of the Persian Emperor Cyrus the Great who released the Children of Israel from the yoke of the Babylonians and was commissioned by God to rebuild the Temple of Jerusalem. Cyrus [of Mazdean religion (Zoroastrianism)] has an important rank since not only is he known as the first "promulgator" of a charter of human rights ensuring in particular religious freedom, but especially because he is called in the Bible: "the shepherd, the anointed of the Lord"!

 For more than 2,500 years, apart from those of Iran,  some inhabitants of Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, India, Pakistan, Caucasia , Turkey and Iraq are also celebrating "Naw Rúz".

 For the Iranian calendar (which is completely different from the Islamic calendar and which would be one of the few to start on the first day of Spring), it represents, in addition of the New Year which is celebrated for 12 days - a 13th day during which one must leave the house for a joyful communion with nature.

 Despite the invasion of this region by Alexander of Macedon, the armies of Islam, the hordes of Genghis Khan and Tamerlane, and despite the vicissitudes of the times, this festival persisted and, being a common point, even served to unite culturally the peoples of the Iranian Plateau ...

In mythology, tradition and Iranian culture, "Naw Rúz" is considered the Feast of the Creator, the appearance of Man, the Feast of Nature, Fecundity, Hope and Peace . It is also the Feast of the Family, Respect towards the head of the family and the elderly, Friendship, Generosity, Joy and Children ...

 

Montreal, April 22, 2018 – A delegation from the Bahá'í Community and dozens of other community organizations were invited by the Borough of Saint-Laurent to Centre des loisirs on the occasion of Volunteer Appreciation Brunch 2018. During the past three decades, a number of individuals in this community have been actively involved in the events of various organizations in the Borough, such as the YMCA, COSSEL and the International Day of Peace. 

During the appreciation ceremony, a slideshow of the activities of the youth and children of the Bahá'í Community as well as the Bicentenary celebration was presented to participants on a giant screen! The purpose of our undertakings which is to improve the conditions of the present society through youth empowerment and service were also highlighted in the Slide-show. 

The Volunteer Appreciation Brunch highlights the many initiatives that community organizations have undertaken over the past years. 

At the 26th Volunteer Brunch, the Mayor Alan DeSousa and Councilors paid tribute to all those who help make Saint-Laurent a dynamic community through their dedication and commitment to various organizations. Centre des loisirs hosted more than 300 volunteers representing some 70 organizations in Saint-Laurent. The Mayor, in his speech, emphasized the importance of community work and its influence on peace and tranquility that reigns in this borough thanks to our dedicated volunteers.

The borough of Saint-Laurent embraces the largest ethnic diversity in Montreal, some 70 varieties, speaking over a hundred languages and dialects. 53% of the population of this borough is composed of immigrants! More than half of the residents in this municipality can carry a conversation in both French and English (59%). French remains however the language mostly used at home, although English and Arabic are also spoken daily by a large number of people.

This neighborhood has many community-based organizations working in various spheres of activity: employment, education, housing, food security, etc. 

The Volunteer Appreciation Brunch is a special time to gather around a meal, celebrate the many achievements and recognize all the work accomplished throughout the past year.

Montreal, February 25, 2018 – Some thirty friends from different parts of the city gathered at the Bahá'í center to celebrate the first day of the "intercalary days".

The intercalaryst inclusive, constitute a period of preparation for fasting. They are dedicated to hospitality, charity and the exchange of gifts. The intercalary days have the merit of being associated with "the letter Há". The numerical value of this letter in the Arabic numerical system "abjad" is five, which corresponds to the potential number of intercalary days. In the Holy Writings, the letter "Há" has received several spiritual meanings, including that of a symbol of the essence of God.

The Bahá'í calendar was created by the Báb "Herald of the New Era" in 1844, the year that marks the beginning of this universal religion. Based on the solar year, it starts on March 21st, with the spring equinox and is divided into 19 months of 19 days, plus four intercalary days which bring to the count of one year. Each new day begins at sunset. Every four years, a fifth day plays the role of February 29 in the Gregorian calendar. The Báb named the months according to the qualification of the attributes of God.

During these days, the Bahá'ís receive or visit their friends and help the needy. The day of the Bahá'í year, like that of ancient Persia, is defined by astronomy; it begins at the spring equinox (March 21), and the Bahá'í era begins with the declaration of the Bab (1844 AD - 1260 after the Hegira).

The Báb had not fixed a specific place for the intercalary days in the new calendar. The Kitáb-i-Aqdas "The Most Holy Book" solves this question by assigning to the "surplus" days a fixed place in the calendar, immediately preceding the month of 'Ala', the period of fasting.

"... those days of generosity that precede the period of restraint, ..." Bahá'u'lláh enjoined his followers to dedicate these days to feasting, rejoicing, and charity. In a letter written by Shoghi Effendi (the Guardian of the Bahá'í Faith), it is explained that "the intercalary days are specially reserved for hospitality, gifts of presents, etc. ".

Montreal, April 21, 2018 – The Montreal Bahá’í Community elected its 96th Administrative Body (the first Local Administrative Body was formed in 1922) at its newly renovated Centre on 177 avenue des Pins Est.

The annually elect members of local and national administrative bodies, called Spiritual Assemblies are elected, as all Bahá’í elections occur, through secret ballot and plurality vote, without candidacies, nominations or campaigning. Bahá’u’lláh taught that in an age of universal education, there was no longer a need for a special class of clergy. Instead, he provided a framework for administering the affairs of the Faith through a system of elected councils at the local, national and international levels.

The election in Montreal followed by the Festival of Ridván celebration which commemorates the anniversary of Bahá’u’lláh’s declaration in 1863 that He was the Promised One of all earlier religions. Bahá’u’lláh spent 12 days in a garden in Baghdad visiting with His followers. He named the garden Ridván, which means “Paradise” or “good pleasure” in Arabic.

At this historical event, the Festival of Ridván, Bahá’u’lláh proclaimed and made three announcements: First, He forbade His followers to fight to advance or defend the Faith (religious war had been permitted under past religions); second, He declared there would not be another prophet for at least next 1,000 years; and third, He proclaimed that all the names of God were inherent in all things at that moment.

Bahá’ís suspend work on the holiest days of Ridván—the first, ninth and 12th. These mark the day of Bahá’u’lláh’s arrival in the garden, the arrival of His family and the group’s departure for Constantinople.

The Most Great Festival is, indeed, the King of Festivals. “Call ye to mind, O people, the bounty which God hath conferred upon you. Ye were sunk in slumber, and lo! He aroused you by the reviving breezes of His Revelation, and made known unto you His manifest and undeviating Path.” — Bahá’u’lláh

Throughout Ridván, Bahá’ís gather for devotions and attend social gatherings. In Montreal, the Bahá’ís in various boroughs of the city celebrate the events with their neighbours, youth groups and children.

This year, the Bahá’ís of the world also elect the 12st Universal House of Justice, their World Administrative Body. The supreme governing council of the Bahá’í Faith is entrusted by Bahá’u’lláh in His own writings with exerting a positive influence on the welfare of humankind, promoting education, peace and global prosperity, and safeguarding human honour and the position of religion. It is responsible for applying the Bahá’í teachings to the requirements of an ever-evolving society and legislating on matters not explicitly covered in the Faith's sacred texts.

Montreal, February 4, 2018 - On the occasion of World Week of Interfaith Harmony, the Bahá’í Community of Montreal organized two "Open House" evenings at the Bahá'í Shrine inviting Inter-Faith Organizations to come and visit this sacred place.

The first meeting took place on Sunday February 4th and the second on Wednesday February 7th during the regular schedule of the Shrine.

World Interfaith Harmony Week is an annual event to be observed during the first week of February starting in 2011.

World Interfaith Harmony Week was proclaimed by the General Assembly of the United Nations in resolution A/RES/65/5 adopted on 20 October 2010. In the resolution, the General Assembly, points out that mutual understanding and interreligious dialogue constitute important dimensions of a culture of peace and establishes World Interfaith Harmony Week as a way to promote harmony between all people regardless of their faith.

Recognizing the imperative need for dialogue among different faiths and religions to enhance mutual understanding, harmony and cooperation among people, the General Assembly of the United Nations encourages all States to support during that week the spread of the message of interfaith harmony and goodwill in the world’s churches, mosques, synagogues, temples and other places of worship, on a voluntary basis and according to their own religious traditions or convictions.

Montreal, April 9, 2018 – The auditorium in Vanier College was filled to capacity with students, faculty members and some members of the Bahá’í community to listen to Wahied Wahdat-Hagh  a Past President of the International Human Rights League. He spoke on the topic of Religious Discrimination in Iran, from Antisemitism over Anti-Bahaism to the Persecution of New Christians.

His presentation covered a comprehensive background on the rise of Islam and its various schools of thoughts throughout the Middle East. The rise of Hojjatieh Society, which also figured prominently in guiding the thinking of the lay leadership of the 1979 revolution in Iran, was founded as a specifically anti-Bahá’í organization. Wahied Wahdat-Hagh continued his analysis saying: “The Bahá’í Faith was initially seen as a reform movement when it emerged in 1844 in Iran — and its progressive ideals (such as equal rights for women) remain at the center of Iran’s struggle with the modern world. Early opposition to the Bahá’í Faith in Iran was so intense that more than 20,000 followers were killed in the mid-1800s. Since then, Bahá’ís have been used as scapegoats by all sides of the political spectrum in Iran whenever there was a need to divert attention from policy failures in other areas. Such points go far in helping to answer the question: why are Iranian Bahá’ís persecuted so vehemently by the government — despite their commitment to nonviolence, their steadfast noninvolvement in politics, and their long-standing efforts to promote the development of their country?”

The presentation was followed by many questions from the audience on subjects such as the cause of genocide and its prevention in the future society, as well as the incorporation of religious laws into politics to which satisfactory answers were given by the speaker.

For the 26th consecutive year, Vanier College is holding the Annual Symposium on the Holocaust and Genocide, April 9 – 13, 2018. The theme this year is Civic Responsibility: Toward Dialogue.

Through a week of guest speakers, workshops and Holocaust Survivor testimonials, the Symposium aims to alert young people to discrimination, racism, and genocide in their many manifestations, and to encourage historical understanding in order to avoid repeating the mistakes of the past. Eyewitness and first-hand accounts are often the best motivators to spark students’ awareness, concern, and action. One of the main strengths of the Symposium is its capacity to impart important lessons about ethical citizenship and moral courage.

The guest speaker Dr. Wahied Wahdat-Hagh who is a member of the Bahá’í community of Berlin, was born in Ludwigsburg, Germany. In the 1960s, he resided in Tehran, with a one-year interruption in Hamburg. He is a German citizen and has lived in Germany since 1971. He has a Diploma in Sociology, with the subsidiary subjects of Psychology and Education. He has a second Diploma in Political Science, as well as his PhD in Political Science. He was a fellow with Memri and European Foundation for Democracy. Dr. Wahied Wahdat-Hagh is known for exposing some of Iran’s most heinous human rights violations, especially of religious minorities. He is also a sought-after voice for his astute political analysis on Iran amongst European and especially German policymakers. 

Montreal, January 17, 2018 - Some 150 members of the Montreal Bahá’í Community gathered at the newly renovated Bahá’í Centre on 177 Pine Avenue East to celebrate the occasion and the 19 Days Feast. Representing a large variety of ethnic as well as age groups, they were coming together from nine different boroughs of our city.

 Two of the Assembly members in 1983 who were present at the Feast told the friends the story of how the Bahá’í Centre was purchased then. Kay Hopkinson, a member of the Bahá’í Community of Montreal at that time made a simple suggestion at a 19 days Feast to purchase a Place of gathering for the friends. As the procedure goes, the suggestion was forwarded to the Spiritual Assembly, the governing body which administers the affaires of the Community. The Assembly welcomed the suggestion and approved of it. The Montreal Community was relatively small and the Assembly had little money in its Bank account. The island of Montreal had some 15 municipalities with a Bahá’í Administrative Bodies until January 1, 2006 when the municipalities and Montreal joined together as one city.

 In early days of the Faith most meetings were held at the home of Architect Sutherland Maxwell and his wife May Boles where the Montreal Bahá’í Shrine is located now. As the membership of the Community grew, the Bahá’í activities were held at either YWCA downtown or at the home of the friends. Therefore, the expenses were little and the amount of money kept in the bank was also little.  The Assembly came up with a bright idea to organize a fundraising event and collect the necessary funds to purchase a Centre. The event was scheduled at the Negro Community Centre. It happened that an ice storm paralyzed all activities in Montreal and surroundings. There was little hope to have a large gathering and collect a lot of money!

 The Hand of the Cause John Robarts (one of the members of a Body by that name to help expansion and other activities of the Community) who lived in Rawdon, Quebec with his family was scheduled to be present at that fundraising event. His daughter who was supposed to drive him to the event was afraid that the treacherous ice covered roads might cause an accident and there was no way that they would go to the Fundraising. John, nevertheless, was determined to be in Montreal and nothing could stop him to do so! He put on his hat which he had worn while in Haifa visiting Shoghi-Effendi, the late Guardian of the Bahá’í Faith, decided to take a taxi and arrived at the Negro community Centre! He had the intention to auction his hat in order to generate funds for the Montreal Bahá’í Centre.

 As it was expected, not very many people managed to be present at the meeting due to ice storm, nevertheless five thousand Dollars was raised that evening! The Spiritual Assembly appointed a committee to search for a suitable building to purchase and the present location was found. Unfortunately, it was located in residential area and it needed a permit from City Hall in order to be used for public activities. One of the above Committee members contacted the relevant office at the City Hall which denied the request without further discussion.  Another member tried again and managed to get hold of an official at the Mayor’s Office. When this official was informed of the purpose and activities in the Bahá’í Centre, the permission was granted without further question. The major problem was still lack of funds. The price of the property was $100,000 – a lot of money at that time! There were very few Bahá’ís then who owned a property and the late Raymond Flournoy was one of them. He managed to mortgage his own home in order to obtain a second mortgage and enable the Assembly to buy the property. Surprisingly, the anniversary of Raymond’s passing was on this day, November 17! 

 The Assembly was painfully paying the mortgage then coincidentally, the daughter of Architect Sutherland and May Maxwell, known to the Bahá’ís as Rúhíyyih Khánum, came to Montreal for a Conference. She heard that the Montreal Bahá’í Community has purchased a property and asked whether the mortgage has been completely paid? She was told that $20,000 is left to complete the payment! She thought for a moment and said that her mother, May Maxwell, had kept a Bank account in Montreal and she thought that there was exactly $20,000 in it! She generously donated the amount to the Montreal Bahá’í Community thus the mortgage was fully paid.

 The beautifully renovated Bahá’í Centre is open to the public, has a library to purchase Bahá’í Books as well as a reading library accessible during the opening hours of the Centre.

Montreal, March 28, 2018 - As part of the week of action against racism, the Egyptian Bureau of Cultural Affairs in Montreal organized a conference exhibition with guest artist Marlène Luce Tremblay.

The theme of the evening being “Egypt Immuable II”, the photo-painting exhibition represented the influence of this historic country on World Heritage. Among about forty guests representing several cultural organizations of the city, one could distinguish the presence of the cultural attaché of Switzerland, the cultural attaché of Egypt, the secretary of the Egyptian office in Montreal, the journalists, the artists as well as the media director of the Bahá'í Community.

It should be noted that the majority of guests knew the Bahá'í Faith and its principles! Many questions have been asked about the activities of the Faith in Montreal and around the world. Some were even surprised that the Bahá'í Faith existed in the Holy Land before the formation of the State of Israel!

Marlène Luce Tremblay, whose canvases adorned the walls of the Egyptian Cultural Affairs Bureau in Montreal, is a painter and photographer living in Hudson, Quebec. Thanks to her work and following many trips to the Middle East, she offers an "archeology" of the Arab world to the spectators. This artistic endeavor was undertaken by exploring Egypt and presenting exhibitions in Canada and Egypt as part of the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries.

“Egypt Immuable II”, the exhibition is open to the public from April 1 to 30, at the Cultural Affairs Office of Egypt at 1 Place Ville-Marie.

Launched for the first time in March 2000, Action Against Racism Week (SACR) is part of annual events to mark the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, celebrated on March 21.

Complementary and in addition to all the daily events of education, especially with regard to the misdeeds of racism and discrimination, the Action Week Against Racism is a special moment of reflection, exchange and awareness of the democratic values of our society and the importance of intercultural relationship.

The photo shows the cultural attaché of Egypt, coordinator of the festival Vues d'Afrique, Consul General of Egypt in Montreal, Consul General of Switzerland, director of media of Montreal, an Egyptian filmmaker, Marlène Luce Tremblay with a copy of his works on the back wall as well as representatives of other cultural organizations in Montreal.

 

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Bahá'í Center

 

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