A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

Internet

A mechanism of world inter-communication will be devised, embracing the whole planet, freed from national hindrances and restrictions, and functioning with marvellous swiftness and perfect regularity.
(Shoghi Effendi, The World Order of Bahá’u’lláh, p. 203)


‘Abdu’l-Bahá writes that “trustworthiness is the bedrock” of the Faith and “the
foundation of all virtues and perfections.” What is true for individuals is also true for
Internet sites, online video presentations, blogs and podcasts. If people don’t trust a site,
its utility as a vehicle for drawing individuals to the Revelation is compromised. There
are several ways to demonstrate trustworthiness in the Internet context. The first is to
make sure that information is accurate. Users are often sensitive to the feeling that they
are being manipulated. Second, any factual information that is presented should be
supported by authoritative sources wherever possible. Third, if any user information is
collected, the site needs to have a clear statement of how such information will be used.
Finally, tone and approach serve to transmit something of the spirit of the Cause.
(Bahá’í Internet Agency, Bahá’í Participation on the Internet: Some Reflections, 2006)


According to guidance received from the Bahá’í Internet Agency, although the friends are free to register domain names with the word Bahá’í in them for non-commercial individual initiatives on the internet (such as Bahá’í-devotions.org), offering materials for sale at such sites is inappropriate. We realize that you were probably not aware of this, (and that we need to better educate the community about it), but trust in the near future that you will be able to adjust accordingly your websites [with the word Bahá’í in them]. While you are free to continue using the sites for non-commercial purposes, as personal blogs, sharing perspectives [from the Bahá’í Faith], they should not offer commercial services. Instead, perhaps you could provide a link on these sites to [another domain without the word Bahá’í in it], and the excellent publications and services that you have made available for purchase there. In addition, you might consider creating a section of the site (such as XXX.com/Bahái) where resources and information gathered more specifically for members of the Faith could be found. This would still include the word “Bahá’í” in the domain but would not give the impression that the site was an official one authorized by a Bahá’í institution.
(USA-NSA to an individual, 6 January 2011)


Adhering to key Bahá’í principles will ensure that our Internet initiatives will combine the necessary features of flexibility, creativity and respect for the Internet user.
(Bahá’í Internet Agency, Bahá’í Participation on the Internet: Some Reflections, 2006)


As existing institutions and social practices disintegrate around us, the Bahá’í teachings indicate that there is a parallel process at work of creating new structures and tools that enable unifying patterns of collective life to emerge. The Internet appears to be playing a catalytic role in breaking down longstanding geographic, cultural and institutional barriers while facilitating the formation of new communities of interaction that are increasingly global in nature.
(Bahá’í Internet Agency, Bahá’í Participation on the Internet: Some Reflections, 2006)


At a time when the world is suffering from polarized patterns of thought and behavior,
the Faith’s ability to demonstrate that diversity can exist in a harmonious framework can
serve as a major source of attraction. There are multiple ways to reflect this principle.
The most obvious is to highlight the Bahá’í community’s concrete commitment to
diversity of culture, perspective and action. It should also be kept in mind that disabled
individuals heavily use the Internet, that large portions of Internet users do not have fast,
broadband access, and that some seekers may be illiterate.
(Bahá’í Internet Agency, Bahá’í Participation on the Internet: Some Reflections, 2006)


Bahá’ís around the globe have made promising strides toward utilizing the Internet as a
new means for proclamation and teaching. There are excellent introductory materials
available on the Internet in English and many other languages including sites such as
bahai.org, sites sponsored by National Assemblies or specialized sites created by
individuals. There is an increasing demand for multilingual materials as the Internet
penetrates a broader cross-section of countries and cultures. New opportunities for the
systematic teaching of the Bahá’í Faith on the Internet are also emerging in both text
based and non-text based media.
(Bahá’í Internet Agency, Bahá’í Participation on the Internet: Some Reflections, 2006)


By creating an online presence, a local community or cluster can reinforce its existing
teaching and consolidation efforts, particularly those engaged in intensive programs of
growth. An online service could include a calendar of community activities, interactive
mechanisms for responding to questions from interested inquirers who find out about the
Faith from outreach or advertising campaigns, and materials tailored to the interests of
receptive populations. An internal community blog could facilitate the sharing of
experiences and information related to the core activities as well as the tracking of cluster
goals, thereby improving how the community’s human resources are utilized and
deployed. Each community can best determine the combination of Internet and in-person
activities that will best serve its objectives.
(Bahá’í Internet Agency, Bahá’í Participation on the Internet: Some Reflections, 2006)


Educators have known for a long time that within a group, individuals will respond
differently to each learning methodology. Some individuals learn best through reading,
others through audio formats, and yet others by doing. There is no single right answer on
how to best present a subject. At present, we primarily serve the traditional text-based
learner. Audio, video and other multimedia elements are some ways to add diversity to
our offerings. The arts allow us to introduce another form of diversity that can contain
more tangible devotional or inspirational elements. The Universal House of Justice has
pointed out that “the graphic and performing arts and literature have played, and can play,
a major role in extending the influence of the Cause.” The Internet is well suited to
distribute many of these art forms that have up to now been restricted to in-person
presentations.
(Bahá’í Internet Agency, Bahá’í Participation on the Internet: Some Reflections, 2006)


Furthermore, communication and discovery are limited by the laws of nature to short distances, whereas man, through that inner power of his that discovereth the reality of all things, connecteth the East with the West. This, too, is interfering with the laws of nature.
(‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Bahá’í World Faith, p. 338)


Given that service to others is the primary goal of any Bahá’í activity, the question of how Internet sites can maximize their service to society is very relevant to design and content creation. The essential question to ask is what are the needs or interests of the audience we wish to serve? Service can take many forms. Having the information that people want and making it clear how to find it are perhaps the most important things that sites can provide. In addition to the existence of information we must consider how people can access it. Are we putting unnecessary barriers between the user and the content they want to have? Is the content in the form that the user would prefer? While Bahá’í sites should not be solely defined by what our visitors want, we should take into consideration why they are coming. Certainly not all visitors are the same. Some visitors will represent the media. They may have no personal interest in the Faith other than to write a story on it as part of their work. Others may come out of a profound inclination to find meaning. We want to serve as many audiences as possible, and when a trade-off is required, we should prioritize the potential benefits.
(Bahá’í Internet Agency, Bahá’í Participation on the Internet: Some Reflections, 2006)


In 2004, the Bahá’í Internet Agency was established by the Universal House of Justice and operates under the guidance of the International Teaching Center, to “[assist] the global Bahá’í community in its use of the internet, [provide] technical support to Bahá’í institutions and [support] promising initiatives of individuals.” For information regarding websites and individual use on the internet, visit the Bahái Internet Agency’s website, www.bcca.org/bia or contact the Office of Communications at communications@usbnc.org.
(USA- NSA, Guidelines for Local Spiritual Assemblies, Chapter 14, p. 26)


In a communication to the Bahá’í Internet Agency, the International Teaching Centre
anticipates the creation of an expanding range of quality content about the Bahá’í Faith
"through the flourishing of Web sites, blogs, podcasts, and other appropriate formats, in a
range of key languages.” The Teaching Centre indicates that “the major and most
dynamic thrust is envisaged through the stimulation and support of individual initiatives,
particularly amongst the youth.” Such a process entails fostering creativity and a spirit of
enterprise, as well as learning through trial and error.
(Bahá’í Internet Agency, Individual Initiative on the Internet, 2007)


Internet initiatives by Bahá’ís should therefore aim to broaden vision concerning challenging spiritual and social questions, shape discourse in a unifying way, and
emphasize the potentialities and promise of the present moment in human affairs. When harnessed in this way, the Internet can become a vehicle for promoting mutual
understanding and learning, serving others, instilling hope about the human condition, and demonstrating rectitude of conduct.
(Bahá’í Internet Agency, Responding to Criticism and Opposition on the Internet, 2009)


Internet initiatives should of course be carried out in light of Bahá’í principles such as
moderation, courtesy, probity, fairness, dignity, accuracy and wisdom. Promoting mutual
understanding, fellowship and a spirit of cooperation among diverse individuals and
groups is an essential characteristic of all Bahá’í activity. In this respect, the Internet is
yet one more domain in which Bahá’ís should demonstrate “an etiquette of expression
worthy of the approaching maturity of the human race"—a maturity founded on the
"oneness and wholeness of human relationships.”
(Bahá’í Internet Agency, Individual Initiative on the Internet, 2007)



It is important to recognize that virtually all social issues can be viewed through a political lens or perspective. Comments relating to contemporary social questions can be easily misconstrued by readers as being either supportive or critical of particular political ideologies or interests. A letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi underscores this point: “By the principle of non-interference in political matters we should not mean that only corrupt politics and partial and sectarian politics are to be avoided. But that any pronouncement on any current system of politics connected with any government must be shunned. We should not only take side with no political party, group or system actually in use, but we should also refuse to commit ourselves to any statement which may be interpreted as being sympathetic or antagonistic to any existing political organization or philosophy.” Hence, while sharing insights from the Bahá’í teachings concerning the advancement of society, it is best to focus on relevant spiritual principles and practices that can impact processes of social transformation. Even then, we may still have to make it clear that our views represent a multifaceted understanding of social change and not an endorsement of any external group’s position. As always, reliance on quotations from the Writings will serve to underscore the essential spiritual perspective being offered by the Faith.
(Bahá’í Internet Agency, Bahá’í Participation on the Internet: Some Reflections, 2006)


Many Bahá’ís have been active on the Internet from its earliest days. The richness and
variety of the content produced through individual and institutional initiatives have
served to raise awareness of the Bahá’í Faith and its basic beliefs, aims and activities. As
it is evident that new developments on the Internet are giving expressing to key Bahá’í
principles, the possibility of having far greater impact in promoting Bahá’í ideals and
concepts for human well-being lies within reach.
(Bahá’í Internet Agency, Bahá’í Participation on the Internet: Some Reflections, 2006)


Most important of all, as with any exploration by Bahá’ís of the beliefs and practices of
their Faith, electronic discussion will serve the interests of the Cause and its members
only as it is conducted within the framework of the Bahá’í Teachings and the truths they
enshrine. To attempt to discuss the Cause of God apart from or with disdain for the
authoritative guidance inherent in these Teachings would clearly be a logical
contradiction.
(Universal House of Justice, Guidelines For Internet Communication)


One of the hallmarks of the Internet is that user participation is welcomed and is even a
source of value. In fact, the Internet standards that make the Internet technically possible
are the result of consultation. There are many forms of consultation that can be applied to Bahá’í Internet initiatives. Some web sites and blogs will be more amenable to consultative exchange than others. Providing mechanisms of interaction with visitors will add a dynamic element to a site or blog, and can more effectively remove obstacles in recognizing the station of Bahá’u’lláh. It is also desirable to look for ways to incorporate consultation into the design and content creation processes for new web sites.
(Bahá’í Internet Agency, Bahá’í Participation on the Internet: Some Reflections, 2006)


The concept of the equality between the sexes is so well accepted in popular discourse
that, in the main, it has become a basic axiom of social existence. Of course, that does
not mean that equality has been achieved. Visitors to a Bahá’í-inspired site or blog will
observe the subtle clues that demonstrate the Bahá’í commitment to this principle. We
should make sure that not only do our photos of the Bahá’í community have a balance of
genders, but men and women are shown in comparable roles. In addition, interactive
mediums should, wherever possible, adequately give voice to the perspectives of both
sexes.
(Bahá’í Internet Agency, Bahá’í Participation on the Internet: Some Reflections, 2006)


The internet presents powerful and exciting opportunities for creativity, service, and individual initiative, which challenges the Bahá’í community to rise to a higher level of maturity. It demands a heightened level of sensitivity to and awareness of the needs of the global community and of respect for the values and problems of other cultures as Bahá’ís learn to utilize this “mechanism for world inter-communication” in ways that are consistent with the teachings of Bahá’u’lláh and the vision of the Guardian.
(USA- NSA, Guidelines for Local Spiritual Assemblies, Chapter 14, p. 25)


The oneness of humanity is a principle that the world is seeking without knowing it—the
"monarch of all aspirations.” Authoritative Bahá’í texts and statements of Bahá’í
institutions address many contemporary issues and how they require global solutions.
Supplementing the presentation of Bahá’í concepts of unity with models and examples of
unity can also greatly enhance an Internet outreach effort. For instance, spotlighting
social and economic development initiatives or the activities of youth engaged in service
can be a compelling way to share information, stories and experiences to inquirers around
the world. We live in an age when many Bahá’í ideals or perspectives are viewed as
na´ve or utopian. Concrete examples can infuse these ideals with meaning and
demonstrate the practicality of the Bahá’í approach to social betterment.
(Bahá’í Internet Agency, Bahá’í Participation on the Internet: Some Reflections, 2006)


The precept of the independent search for truth offers a distinctive point of departure for our Internet efforts. Most religiously oriented web sites and blogs inform the visitor what the truth is according to their doctrines. Exposing inquirers to concepts such as progressive revelation and unity in diversity and that we are there to help them find truth could lead to a transformative experience. While talking about this principle is important, helping the user to carry out their search is equally important. If you are able, provide supporting information in addition to a summary. The Internet has the advantageous characteristic of being able to provide both breadth and depth. Users can choose to read summarized information or can decide to dig deeper into primary sources. One way to do this is to provide links to sources of information on which your site’s content may be based. Perhaps most important of all is to give easy and ready access to the Word of God. Any type of presentation whether in the format of text, audio or video should strive to incorporate verses from the Bahá’í Writings.
(Bahá’í Internet Agency, Bahá’í Participation on the Internet: Some Reflections, 2006)


The principle of the unity of science and religion is a thematic area where the Faith can contribute much to contemporary dialogues. Showing how rational methods and spiritual values can work in concert to address social challenges can potentially highlight a range of distinct Bahá’í approaches to problem solving. The Bahá’í teachings offer perspectives and insights that undoubtedly will be regarded as novel by many and that can be used as a means of attraction. The design of Bahá’í sites and blogs should also
endeavor to highlight the intimate connection between the powers of the human spirit and the application of knowledge.
(Bahá’í Internet Agency, Bahá’í Participation on the Internet: Some Reflections, 2006)


The system, so prophetically foreseen sixty years ago by Shoghi Effendi, builds a sense of shared community among its users that is impatient of either geographic or cultural distances.
(Universal House of Justice, Century of Light, p. 133)


There is an ever increasing use by believers of the internet and other available computer based means of communication. These open unlimited possibilities for continuous proclamation and teaching, bringing the Creative Word and the Sacred Writings as well as the ideas of individual believers to hearts and minds everywhere.
(International Teaching Center, 11 May 1995, Electronic Communication with Covenant-breakers)


Unity in diversity can also relate to the transmission of information. While the web is
clearly a very powerful tool in many parts of the world, it still does not reach the majority
of the world’s population. Opportunities to repurpose Bahá’í-related Internet content to
CD-ROM, MP3 audio files, printed materials and other offline methods should be
explored. Creating good content is difficult; for this reason, Bahá’í materials should be
distributed in as many forms as possible.
(Bahá’í Internet Agency, Bahá’í Participation on the Internet: Some Reflections, 2006)


When concerns come to the attention of Assemblies about use of the internet by believers, they should be handled with care and restraint, in as limited a manner as possible. The Universal House of Justice has often been asked about list servers and the internet usage. Its general approach has been that these are new and experimental media; that like all media for speech, the Bahá’í principles of consultation, not to mention common sense and courtesy, apply; that the medium seems to be self-regulating and that, by and large, self-regulation has been adequate.
(USA- NSA, Guidelines for Local Spiritual Assemblies, Chapter 14, p. 25-26)