Centenary of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s passing: Films and media productions honor herald of peace
BAHÁ’Í WORLD CENTRE — Recent stories of the News Service have reported on a surge in artistic works and publications in the lead up to worldwide commemorations of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s passing later this month.
As efforts to mark this historic occasion have continued to intensify, this period has also seen the release of many films and documentaries, TV and radio programs, podcasts, and websites that cast light on ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s life of unremitting service to humanity.
Films and documentaries
Below are some of the films and documentaries that have been produced in honor of this occasion.
In this short film from Bahrain, stories from the life of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá are narrated while an artist illustrates parts of the story through sand painting. This film was recorded live at a national event on coexistence, which was held by the Bahá’ís of that country in to mark the centenary of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s passing.
In the United States, a film explores the impact that ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s words had on the discourse on race in that country. It particularly looks at how His ideas have contributed to the race amity movement. A significant contribution of the Bahá’í community to that movement was a conference it held at the request of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá one hundred years ago last May. In a message to the conference, He stated:
“Say to this convention that never since the beginning of time has one more important been held. This convention stands for the oneness of humanity; it will become the cause of the enlightenment of America. It will, if wisely managed and continued, check the deadly struggle between these races which otherwise will inevitably break out.”
A series of short films made in the United Kingdom explores issues of equality between women and men, hope for the future, and the role of young people in contributing to social progress. In each video, children recount different talks given by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in London during His tour of Europe and North America from 1911 to 1913. Some of these short films are set in places that ‘Abdu’l-Bahá visited or gave public talks.
In one of His talks while in London, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá was asked, “By what process will [peace] on earth be established? Will it come at once after a universal declaration of the Truth?” He responded:
“No, it will come about gradually. A plant that grows too quickly lasts but a short time. … If a family lives in unison, great results are obtained. Widen the circle; when a city lives in intimate accord greater results will follow, and a continent that is fully united will likewise unite all other continents. Then will be the time of the greatest results, for all the inhabitants of the earth belong to one native land.”
A behind-the-scenes look at a film being produced in Kyrgyzstan in which people of all ages speak about the impact of ‘Abdu’l-Baha’s words on their lives.
This short documentary produced in Turkey provides a brief historical account of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s life and explores how His example of selfless service to humanity continues to inspire people, young and old, to action.
A film being produced by Bahá’ís from Iran looks at ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s tireless efforts to promote spiritual principles, such as unity, oneness, and justice, and His call to all the peoples of the world to apply these principles to humanity’s social progress.
During His ten-day visit to Montreal, Canada, in 1912, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá stayed in the home of May and William Sutherland Maxwell for four days where He gave three talks to public audiences on the themes of spiritual education and the human soul. This film recounts the story of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s visit to that city and explains the significance of this home.
This documentary produced in the United States explores ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s contributions to the contemporary issues of His time that persist today, such as structural inequities, racial prejudice, and the extremes of wealth and poverty.
A series of stories told by different people in Delhi, India, recall moments from ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s life.
TV broadcasts, podcasts, and radio programs
Recent weeks have seen many programs on different broadcast mediums honoring this historic occasion, including the following sampling.
In Mali, representatives of the Bahá’í community gave a nationally televised press conference about ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s work as a herald of peace and the efforts of the Malian Bahá’í community to contribute to the well-being of their society. In his opening remarks, the Secretary of the Bahá’í National Spiritual Assembly of that country spoke about the important role of religion in contributing to social transformation, quoting the following well-known passage from the Bahá’í writings:
“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. He Who is the Daystar of Truth beareth Me witness! So powerful is the light of unity that it can illuminate the whole earth.”
In the United Kingdom, an upcoming TV program on the BBC will be tracing ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s steps on His visit to London, going to places where He gave public talks, such as the City Temple and the Church of St. John the Divine. (Photo credit: Wei-I Chen)
Inspired by a passage from the writings of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, which likens women and men to the wings of a bird, the Bahá’ís of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) co-produced a nationally televised program on gender equality.
A series of radio programs in Jamaica have been presenting stories from the life of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, sharing passages from His writings, and exploring the teachings of the Bahá’í Faith.
A soon to be released nine-part podcast series produced in the United States, titled “Ambassador to Humanity,” will look at ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s contributions to the prevalent discourses of His time. This series will feature accounts of ‘Abdu’l-Baha’s life written by His contemporaries and will include interviews with historians.
Two audiobooks of stories for children about moral and spiritual themes have been released in the United Kingdom in honor of the centenary of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s passing. These stories describe how ‘Abdu’l-Bahá always sacrificed His own comfort to serve others, promoting love and oneness.
A podcast series being produced in Canada draws on ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s writings and talks on concepts such as equality and justice to explore issues of national concern. The first episode on dialogue and consultation was recently released.
A group of friends and neighbors in Switzerland has produced a podcast, titled “Uplifting Conversations,” in which they discuss themes from ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s talks, such as the harmony between the spiritual and material dimensions of human life and humanity’s need for spiritual, moral, and material education.
In this video released online, a Bahá’í from Yemen chants a prayer composed by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá.
In Oman, a series of video recordings present stories and songs about ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s life and readings of quotations from His writings.
A series of stories about ‘Abdu’l-Bahá recorded in Kazakhstan aim to inspire in children the desire to serve humanity.
This podcast produced by the Bahá’ís of Brazil features stories about ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. Episodes are released every nineteen days, each exploring a different spiritual principle.
In this podcast from India, stories are shared about ‘Abdu’l-Bahá that were previously not available in Hindi and Bengali.
A series of podcasts recounting stories from the life of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá has been created in the Netherlands.
A recent broadcast on national radio in Bahrain honoring the centenary of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s passing invited listeners to “reflect on His great and lofty service to humankind and His efforts to promote love, peace, and oneness throughout the East and the West more than a century ago.”
The announcement continued: “Bahrain is the land of peaceful coexistence among people of all religions, embracing Shia and Sunni Muslims, Bahá’ís, Jews, Christians, and all others.”
A radio station operated by the Bahá’ís of the Philippines has been producing programs featuring stories about the life of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá accompanied by songs that put His writings to music. Coloring sheets illustrating the stories have been produced for children to fill while listening to the program.
A local radio station in South Africa recently aired an interview with a member of that country’s Bahá’í community about ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s contributions toward the betterment of society.
In honor of the centenary of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s passing, a radio station in Brazil has broadcast a program about the history of the Bahá’í Faith and its teachings about the oneness of religion, among other themes.
In Jordan, a short film is being made about ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s critical actions to ease suffering during World War I. The film focuses on a visit He made in July 1917 to a farm in the village of ‘Adasíyyih to secure wheat and barley for the famine-stricken ‘Akká-Haifa area.
Newly launched websites and microsites
Many Bahá’í communities throughout the world have launched websites, microsites, or new sections on existing national websites to mark the centenary of the passing of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá.
A recently launched website in Australia includes a selection of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s writings and features artistic expressions created in recent weeks by people across that country.
The Bahá’ís of France will soon release a microsite about the life of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá and His visit to Paris in 1911. This site will feature excerpts from His writings, including several quotations about the spiritual future of Paris.
A compilation of talks given by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá during His stay in that city can be found in a book titled Paris Talks.
This microsite launched by the Bahá’ís of Canada features articles about ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s visit to Montreal where His talks were attended by thousands of people from diverse faith communities. The site also makes available prayers composed by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, digital booklets of stories for children, and other reading materials.
This newly launched website by the Austrian Bahá’í community presents a rich selection of audio-visual materials about ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s historic visit to Vienna in 1913, where He met with many people and groups, including the theosophical society.
A website titled “Elevate,” produced by the Bahá’ís of the United Kingdom, makes available a series of digital booklets of quotations from ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s writings on such themes as service to society, compassion and forgiveness, and the oneness of humanity. These booklets also include questions for group discussion.
The Bahá’ís of Turkey have created a microsite containing stories from the life of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá and a selection of His works, including talks, prayers, and writings on different spiritual principles.
A new section on the national website of the Bahá’ís of Congo explores the unique station of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá and provides several articles about the efforts of the Bahá’ís of that country to contribute to social transformation.
A new section on the national website of the Bahá’ís of the United States features daily posts about how people across that country are marking this occasion.
A newly launched website by the Bahá’ís of New Zealand brings together digital booklets, videos, articles, and other materials on the life and work of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. The website also shares efforts underway across that country to commemorate this occasion.
The Bahá’í community of Spain has produced this new website, featuring articles and other materials that explore ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s efforts toward social progress. This website will soon feature songs that mark the occasion of the centenary of His passing.
The national website of the Bahá’ís of Bolivia has a new section featuring stories from the life of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá and articles about the different ways that people in that country are undertaking social action in honor of the centenary of His passing.
This newly created section of the national website of the Bahá’ís of Russia features a selection of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s writings and several articles about the history of the Bahá’í Faith.
The Bahá’í community of the DRC has created a new section on its national website, which provides news of how Bahá’ís throughout the vast country are marking this occasion.
A new section dedicated to the centenary commemoration of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s passing has been added to the national website of the Bahá’ís of Argentina, featuring a selection of prayers and writings by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, and a brief history of His life.
A new website on the life of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá has been launched by the Bahá’ís of Italy.