Latest volume of The Bahá'í World features articles on global terrorism and United Nations Millennium events
The Bahá'í World 2000-01 is the ninth volume in an annual series prepared by the Bahá'í International Community's Office of Public Information. Written both for a general audience and Bahá'í readers, the volumes present a yearly record of the Community's activities and perspectives. This volume covers the period from April 21 2000 to April 21 2001.
"Our aim is to provide an authoritative and comprehensive survey of the worldwide Bahá'í community's activities during a given year," said Ann Boyles, senior editor of the series. "Our hope is that it will serve as a valuable reference work for both Bahá'ís and the general reader, as well as scholars, journalists and others who may be researching the Bahá'í Faith and its development."
More specifically, this year's volume includes reports on the inauguration of the International Teaching Centre Building at the Bahá'í World Centre in January 2001; the Colloquium on Science, Religion, and Development, sponsored by the Bahá'í International Community's Institute for Studies in Global Prosperity in New Delhi in November 2000; and the First International Conference on Modern Religions held at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in December 2000.
Also included are essays that give Bahá'í perspectives on contemporary topics and trends. An essay by Robert Atkinson entitled "Culture and the Evolution of Consciousness" discusses the relationship between the development of culture and humanity's growing awareness of its essential oneness. "Symbols of Transformation: The Gardens and Terraces on Mount Carmel," by Elham Afnan describes the religious significance of the recently completed garden terraces on Mount Carmel. And a profile of the Barli Development Institute for Rural Women in India looks at how one Bahá'í-inspired non-governmental organization is promoting the advancement of women through programs that combine practical training and moral education.
Of special interest this year, however, is the World Watch article by Dr. Boyles on global terrorism. Researched and written largely before the terrorist attacks in New York on 11 September 2001, the article discusses the general rise in terrorist activity, summarizes prevailing prescriptions, and offers a Bahá'í point of view for establishing a "universal framework that can bring real, enduring stability" to the world.
"Collaboration in the gathering of accurate information through intelligence, the signing of international treaties and protocols, and the application of various kinds of sanctions undoubtedly represent forward movement in efforts to combat terrorism," writes Dr. Boyles.
"However, addressing problems such as terrorism in isolation from the many other issues that disrupt and destabilize society will ultimately prove a futile exercise. Nations must look beyond simply responding separately to disparate problems and move towards the building of a comprehensive international order based on social justice and collective security, in which all can live in dignity. This will be the most decisive factor in the creation of enduring change."
The volume's report on the Millennium Summit covers not only the Community's involvement in the September 2000 Summit at the United Nations itself, but also its participation in lead-up events. Specifically, the Community played a significant role in supporting the Millennium Forum for non-governmental organizations, held in May 2000, and Millennium World Peace Summit of Religious and Spiritual Leaders, held in August of that year.
"It is significant, for example, that a representative of the Bahá'í International Community was one of the co-chairs of the Millennium Forum in May of 2000, and then went on to represent non-governmental organizations before the world leaders gathered at the Millennium Summit in September," said Dr. Boyles. "Our report gives insights into behind-the-scenes activities at all of these events."
The book's recurring sections include a basic introduction to the Bahá'í community; selections of Bahá'í sacred writings; highlights from messages of the Universal House of Justice and statements of the Bahá'í International Community released during the year; the "Year in Review," chronicling the worldwide activities of the Bahá'í community; an update of the situation of the Bahá'ís in Iran; a progress report on the Mount Carmel Projects at the Bahá'í World Centre; obituaries of prominent Bahá'ís; statistics of the Bahá'í community; a directory of Bahá'í agencies; and a bibliography of selected new publications.
As the book's editors describe, distilling the activities of an entire religious community into a single volume every year is not easy, and the sheer breadth of information prevents it from being comprehensive.
"We gather information from more than 180 national bodies to present this snapshot of the Bahá'í activities," said Dr. Boyles. "We know that we're not going to have everything in it, but the goal is to show trends or representative activities - to provide a record of the pattern of growth of the Bahá'í community."
That "pattern of growth" is demonstrated in a Bahá'í community which was only 100,000 people when the book was first published in 1926 but now numbers more than five million people in 245 nations and dependent territories around the world.
The book was originally prepared under the supervision of Shoghi Effendi, who led the Bahá'í Faith from 1921 to 1957. The book was issued biennially until 1940, but limited resources allowed for only sporadic publication after that. In 1992, the Universal House of Justice, the international governing body of the Bahá'í community, directed that the format be revamped, so that "the availability of a well-written, liberally illustrated, attractively designed annual record of Bahá'í activities will facilitate the efforts of the friends and Spiritual Assemblies to present …current information" about the Bahá'í community.
"The Universal House of Justice felt that the time had come for it to reevaluate the publication," said Dr. Boyles, "and to refocus on the initial goals established for it by Shoghi Effendi when he initiated the volumes in the 1920s… Now there is a record of what the Bahá'í community is doing and that will be a valuable record for people in the future."
The book is 320 pages in length, contains numerous color photographs, and is available for US$25.95 in hard cover or US$13.95 in soft cover. It can be ordered from World Centre Publications through the United States Bahá'í Distribution Service, 4703 Fulton Industrial Boulevard Atlanta, GA 30336-2017, USA (telephone: (800) 999-9019; email: email@example.com).
©Copyright 2002, Baha'i World News Service