Not long ago, I participated in a Naw-Rúz celebration with many friends of the faith attending. Needless to say, that required an introductory talk to both the Faith and Naw-Rúz. The talk takes about 10 minutes and is based on the presentation of the Faith introduced in Ruhi book 6. It also briefly introduces Naw Rúz. Might this introduction be of use for other friends around the world?

Introducing Naw-Rúz

This is a special day for Bahá’ís. Let us begin with a brief introduction to the Bahá’í Faith is and why we celebrate this day which we call Naw-Rúz.

The Bahá’í Faith is a world religion whose purpose and goals is to establish the oneness of mankind. As you know, the traditions of almost every people include the promise of a future when peace and harmony will be established on earth and humankind will live in prosperity. We believe that this future that so many have longed for, is within our reach. As Bahá’ís, we believe that the Teachings of Bahá’u’lláh’ Teachings is the key to realize this age long dream

One of the foremost Teachings of Bahá’u’lláh is about God and our relationship to God. Bahá’u’lláh teaches us that God is unknowable in His Essence. No matter how much we try, we will never understand God. The more we try, the more entangled we get in our own imaginings, which are limited by our own thoughts and understandings. Bahá’u’lláh says

To every discerning and illuminated heart it is evident that God, …, is immensely exalted beyond every human attribute, such as corporeal existence, ascent and descent, egress and regress.

To whatever heights the mind of the most exalted of men may soar, however great the depths which the detached and understanding heart can penetrate, such mind and heart can never transcend that which is the creature of their own conceptions and the product of their own thoughts. The meditations of the profoundest thinker, the devotions of the holiest of saints, the highest expressions of praise from either human pen or tongue, are but a reflection of that which hath been created within themselves, through the revelation of the Lord, their God.

God is the creator. In general, that which has been created cannot understand its creator. For instance, a table cannot under­stand the nature of the carpenter who made it. The carpenter’s existence is totally incomprehensible to the objects he makes.

The reason behind our creation is, as we are told by Bahá’u’lláh, love. He says:

O Son of Man! I loved thy creation, hence I created thee. Wherefore, do thou love Me, that I may name thy name and fill thy soul with the spirit of life.”

So, despite the fact that God’s existence is beyond our understanding, His love touches our lives and our beings ceaselessly. The way this love flows to us is through His Eternal Covenant. According to this Eternal Covenant, God never leaves us alone and without guidance. Whenever humanity moves away from Him and forgets His Teach­ings, a Manifestation of God appears and makes His Will and Purpose known to us.

The word “manifest” means to reveal, to bring forth something that was not known before. The Manifestations of God are those special Beings Who reveal to humanity the Word and the Will of God; thus, when we listen to Them, we are responding to the Call of God.

There is an example from the physical world that helps us to understand the concept of “Manifestation” as taught by Bahá’u’lláh. In this world, the sun is the source of all warmth and light, without which life would not exist on the planet. Yet the sun itself does not descend to earth, and if we tried to approach it, we would be totally consumed.

But suppose we take a well-polished mirror and point it towards the sun. In it we will see the image of the sun, and the more perfectly polished he mirror, the more perfect the image will be. The Manifestations of God are like perfect Mirrors that reflect the Light of God in all its Splendour. And all these Mirrors reflect the same Light. While God is beyond our reach, these perfect Beings come to us from time to time, live among us, give us guidance, and fill us with the energy we need to progress, materially and spiritually.

Know thou assuredly that the essence of all the Prophets of God is one and the same. Their unity is absolute. God, the Creator, saith: There is no distinction whatsoever among the Bearers of My Message. They all have but one purpose; their secret is the same secret. To prefer one in honor to another, to exalt certain ones above the rest, is in no wise to be permitted.  … The measure of the revelation of the Prophets of God in this world, however, must differ. Each and every one of them hath been the Bearer of a distinct Message, and hath been commissioned to reveal Himself through specific acts. It is for this reason that they appear to vary in their greatness. Their Revelation may be likened unto the light of the moon that sheddeth its radiance upon the earth. Though every time it appeareth, it revealeth a fresh measure of its brightness, yet its inherent splendor can never diminish, nor can its light suffer extinction. It is clear and evident, therefore, that any apparent variation in the intensity of their light is not inherent in the light itself, but should rather be attributed to the varying receptivity of an ever-changing world. Every Prophet Whom the Almighty and Peerless Creator hath purposed to send to the peoples of the earth hath been entrusted with a Message, and charged to act in a manner that would best meet the requirements of the age in which He appeared. … This is the changeless Faith of God, eternal in the past, eternal in the future.

This is why the Teachings of Bahá’u’lláh are in full harmony with the Teachings of previous Manifestations of God but they address the condition of humanity today. Bahá’u’lláh clarifies this with the following words;

These principles and laws, these firmly-established and mighty systems, have proceeded from one Source, and are the rays of one Light. That they differ one from another is to be attributed to the varying requirements of the ages in which they were promulgated.

If you think for a moment about the plight of humanity, the time is right for another Manifestation of God to have appeared. It is this that we celebrate today. In the Bahá’í Calendar, Naw-Rúz is the first day of the year. Naw-Rúz literally means “new day” and we celebrate this day because of its symbolic meaning. In the Bahá’í Writings it says:

For just as the night, when it becomes excessively dark, precedes the dawn of a new day, so likewise when the darkness of religious apathy and heedlessness overtakes the world, when human souls become negligent of God, when materialistic ideas overshadow idealism and spirituality, when nations become submerged in the world of matter and forget God — at such a time as this shall the Divine Sun shine forth and the Radiant Morn appear.

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.

This day is in celebration of exactly this. If we give ear to the explanation Bahá’u’lláh offers about the purpose of religion, we see how befitting this is. Bahá’u’lláh says;

God’s purpose in sending His Prophets unto men is twofold. The first is to liberate the children of men from the darkness of ignorance, and guide them to the light of true understanding. The second is to ensure the peace and tranquility of mankind, and provide all the means by which they can be established.

Bahá’u’lláh also says,

The All-Knowing Physician hath His finger on the pulse of mankind. He perceiveth the disease, and prescribeth, in His unerring wisdom, the remedy. Every age hath its own problem, and every soul its particular aspiration. The remedy the world needeth in its present-day afflictions can never be the same as that which a subsequent age may require. Be anxiously concerned with the needs of the age ye live in, and center your deliberations on its exigencies and requirements. 

We can well perceive how the whole human race is encompassed with great, with incalculable afflictions. We see it languishing on its bed of sickness, sore-tried and disillusioned. They that are intoxicated by self-conceit have interposed themselves between it and the Divine and infallible Physician. Witness how they have entangled all men, themselves included, in the mesh of their devices. They can neither discover the cause of the disease, nor have they any knowledge of the remedy. They have conceived the straight to be crooked, and have imagined their friend an enemy.

What mankind urgently need today is oneness and unity. Humanity can he likened to a vast garden in which grow side by side flowers of every form, colour and perfume. The charm and beauty of the garden lie in this diversity. We should not allow the differences that exist among us in our physi­cal characteristics, our temperaments, our backgrounds, our thoughts and opinions to give rise to conflict and strife. We should see the members of the human race as beautiful flowers growing in the garden of humanity find rejoice in be­longing to this garden.  Bahá’u’lláh says;

Ye are the fruits of one tree, and the leaves of one branch. Deal ye one with another with the utmost love and harmony, with friendliness and fellowship. … So powerful is the light of unity that it can illuminate the whole earth. … The earth is but one country, and mankind its citizens.

Although the oneness of humankind is an undeniable truth, the people of earth are so far from it that unifying them is no easy task. If you choose to join the Bahá’í community and it would bring me so much happiness if you would do so you will participate with the rest of us in our efforts to build and maintain unity. We are all striving to bring our thoughts and actions in line with our belief in the oneness of humankind. We are told that, when a thought of war enters our minds, we should immediately replace it with a thought of peace. When a feeling of hate begins to take shape in our hearts, we should immediately replace it with a feeling of love.

Let us together celebrate this first day of the year, with friendship in the spirit of unity. We will have refreshments and I hope there will be many pleasant and meaningful conversations.