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May 3, 2011 > Baha'I celebrate Ridvan

Baha'I celebrate Ridvan

Submitted By Ahva Afnani

From April 21 to May 2, the Fremont Baha'i community celebrated the Festival of Ridvan ("paradise"), the holiest period of the Baha'i calendar, commemorating the Baha'i Founder's 1863 declaration as God's messenger for today.

Baha'i communities across the United States held gatherings for fellowship and devotions, as well as annual elections for the faith's leadership at the national and local levels.

Muin Afnani, a Fremont resident, represented the Baha'i electoral unit of Alameda County. Along with 170 other delegates from around the country, Muin Afnani attended the 103rd National Convention at the Baha'i House of Worship in Wilmette, Ill., from April 28 to May 1, 2011 to elect the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of the United States. Muin Afnani has been elected to the National Spiritual Assembly (a body of nine members) each year since 2007.

In Fremont, Ridvan [pronounced RIZ-von] the annual election for the Local Spiritual Assembly of Fremont took place on April 20th. Similar gatherings to elect Baha'i Local Spiritual Assemblies have taken place in more than 1,000 American towns and cities.

Baha'u'llah, the Founder of the Baha'i Faith, announced in 1863 that He was God's Messenger for today and the Promised One of all earlier religions. Baha'u'llah declared His mission to a small group of followers on an island on the Tigris river in Baghdad where He pitched His tent for 12 days. The first (April 21), ninth (April 29) and twelfth (May 2) days of Ridvan are considered holy days on which Baha'is suspend work. After His declaration, Baha'u'llah was sentenced to perpetual confinement in the prison-city of Akka (now in Israel) where He passed away in 1892.

Baha'u'llah taught that in an age of universal education, there's no longer a need for clergy. Instead, he provided an administrative framework of elected, nine-member councils at the local, national and international levels. All Baha'i elections occur by secret ballot and plurality vote, without candidacies, nominations or campaigning. There are more than 180 National Spiritual Assemblies and 11,000 Local Spiritual Assemblies around the world. Baha'is 21 years of age or older are eligible to vote and be elected to serve on spiritual assemblies.

The Baha'i Faith is the youngest of the world's independent monotheistic religions and one of the fastest-growing with about 170,000 members throughout the United States. Baha'is view the world's major religions as part of a single, progressive process through which God reveals His will to humanity. Major Baha'i tenets include the oneness of humanity, equality of men and women, eradication of prejudice, harmony of science and religion, universal education and world peace.

To learn more about the Baha'i Faith in America, visit www.bahai.us.

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