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Religion Library: Baha'i

Sacred Time

Written by: Moojan Momen

For Baha'is, time is both linear and cyclical. It is linear in the sense that a person's life proceeds from beginning to end and humanity also develops and progresses socially. It is cyclical because for the individual, the religious year is a cycle of episodes of sacred time, while for humanity, religions go through a cycle of spring, summer, autumn, and winter before a new religion arises to repeat the cycle. For Baha'is, human history has been a long slow progressive unfolding of the potentialities inherent in the human race under the guidance of successive Manifestations of God. Perhaps the combination of the linear and the cyclical in an ascending spiral would be the best representation. The present day is of particular significance because it represents the fulfillment of the prophecies of all of the world religions and is the time when humanity achieves its collective maturity.

The Baha'i Faith has its own calendar and starts the year with the equinox (spring for the northern hemisphere and autumn for the southern, i.e., March 21). The first year of this calendar began on March 21, 1844. There are nineteen months of nineteen days each and either four or five intercalary days before the last month to make the year comply with the solar cycle. The names of the days and of the months are all names and attributes of God.

The Cycle of Religion; from a talk of 'Abdu'l-Baha at the Church of the Divine Paternity, New York, New York, May 1912

The divine religions are like the progression of the seasons of the year. When the earth becomes dead and desolate and because of frost and cold no trace of vanished spring remains, the springtime dawns again and clothes everything with a new garment of life. The meadows become fresh and green, the trees are adorned with verdure and fruits appear upon them. Then the winter comes again, and all the traces of spring disappear. This is the continuous cycle of the seasons -- spring, winter, then the return of spring. But though the calendar changes and the years move forward, each springtime that comes is the return of the springtime that has gone; this spring is the renewal of the former spring. Springtime is springtime, no matter when or how often it comes. The divine Prophets are as the coming of spring, each renewing and quickening the teachings of the Prophet Who came before Him. Just as all seasons of spring are essentially one as to newness of life, vernal showers and beauty, so the essence of the mission and accomplishment of all the Prophets is one and the same. Now the people of religion have lost sight of the essential reality of the spiritual springtime. They have held tenaciously to ancestral forms and imitations, and because of this there is variance, strife and altercation among them. ('Abdu'l-Baha, Promulgation of Universal Peace, pp. 126-7)

Baha'i monthTranslationBegins
BaháSplendour21 March
JalálGlory9 April
JamálBeauty28 April
'AzamatGrandeur17 May
NúrLight5 June
RahmatMercy24 June
KalimátWords13 July
KamálPerfection1 August
Asmá'Names20 August
'IzzatMight8 September
MashíyyatWill27 September
'IlmKnowledge16 October
QudratPower4 November
QawlSpeech23 November
Masá'ilQuestions12 December
SharafHonour31 December
SultánSovereignty19 January
MulkDominion7 February
'Alá'Loftiness2 March

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