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ABDU'L-KARIM EWING-BOYD: The Baha’i calendar, it’s a solar calendar with 19 months of 19 days and then four intercalary days between the penultimate and last month of the calendar year. The month of Ala, the month of highness, the month of holiness is a period of time for fasting. It’s for preparation for the beginning of the New Year. So it’s a time for prayer. It’s a time for meditation. It’s a time for really refocusing and concentrating on the spiritual life.

The rules for the fast are laid out in the Kitáb-i-Aqdas, which is the most holy book. It’s one of the books that was revealed by Bahaullah while he was in the prison city of ‘Akká and then there are several clarifications that show up at an appendix called questions and answers, which is, as it sounds, a list of questions that was presented to the prophet that he answered about the rules for the fast. So from sunrise to sunset Baha’is above the age of 15 are to refrain from eating and drinking. The fast is a time for me to remind myself, to reclaim myself, to be in charge of my body and not simply respond to random physical promptings. This is just something that I look forward to more and more every year and it gives me more time to recognize my strength in prayer.

Shoghi Effendi, the guardian of the Baha’i faith, he was the great grandson of the prophet Bahaullah and he had, he was assigned the authority of interpretation. That his interpretation of the writings of the prophets and of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá is binding and final and one of the things that he made very clear to the Baha’i community is that there are nearly no rituals in the Baha’i community. There’s no clergy in the Baha’i community and there are very few rituals. There are vows that are to be said at marriage. There’s a prayer that’s to be said at a funeral. There are certain things that have to be done while on pilgrimage and Baha’is are required to say their obligatory prayer daily and to say The Greatest Name of God Alláh-u-Abhá, 95 times each day.

One of my favorite writings is it says Oh son of man, obey me that I may make thee like unto myself. I say be and it is and thou shalt say be and it shall be and when I was younger I was captivated by the concept that I might be able to have the power of the creative word. I was caught up in the idea that if I say be, it is and that’d be, how powerful I’d be. And as I got older I started to realize that that says something completely different. It says obey and I shall make thee like unto myself. I say be and it is and thou shalt say be and it shall be and what I realize is that in that last phrase it’s not that I’m saying anything new. God says be and it is and I shall say be and it shall be because I’m only saying what God said and what could possibly stand in my way if I am moving along and with and by the will of God? How could I possibly go wrong if I am moving in obedience? And that’s what I started to realize, when it says obey and I shall make thee like unto myself he’s saying if you do what I tell you to do, I will bring you to what you can be. I will move you towards perfection as you follow what I say to do and the closer you get to that, the more you’ll be moving in my will.

Abdu’l Karim Ewing-Boyd Extended Interview

Watch more of our interview with Abdu’l Karim Ewing-Boyd about the nineteen-day period of fasting leading up to the Baha’i new year.