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Thoughtful Ayyám-i-Há Gifts

Jan 31, 2023
Group of friends at Afropunk Festival, Commodore Barry Park Baseball Field, United States

Photo by Vonecia Carswell on Unsplash

by Christine Muller

What is meaningful gift giving? Most of us have grown up in a society steeped in materialism and consumerism. How can we avoid letting them contaminate the lofty Days of Há? Baha’u’llah wrote: 

It behooveth the people of Bahá, throughout these days, to provide good cheer for themselves, their kindred and, beyond them, the poor and needy, …

The Kitáb-i-Aqdas

Ayyám-i-Há is certainly a special time to remember people who are less advantaged and to share material resources with them, but providing cheer can happen in many ways: By showing love and fellowship, by cooking a meal, or by visiting an old or ailing friend or stranger. 

Of course, we like to give presents to our children, but there is no need to fall into the trap of consumerism. We can give handmade presents or an experiential gift such as a ticket to a concert or a play. How about providing the opportunity for a pottery class? Perhaps children most appreciate the gift of time, of having a whole afternoon with parents playing board games or doing arts or crafts together.

Sometimes, it is very meaningful to give material things, especially when they are needed. Then we may consider local stores and items that were made in a socially responsible and environmentally sustainable way.


Christine Muller, Teacher of Music and the Environment

Board Secretary, International Environment Forum

I was interested in environmental issues already at a young age and became a Bahá’í when I was 17, which was the beginning of a life-long study of the Bahá’í Faith. As the environmental crisis was worsening, I began to systematically study climate change at a time when not much information was easily available. I also searched the Bahá’í teachings for a spiritual solution to the climate crisis. At that time, climate change was not known to most people and there were no educational materials available. That’s why I wrote Scientific and Spiritual Dimensions of Climate Change – an Interfaith Study Course, which the International Environment Forum posted in 2009. I joined the Wilmette Institute as support faculty for its Sustainable Development course in 2011 and created its Climate Change course the following year. I also teach a course on climate change for the Environmental Sciences Department of the Baha’i Institute of Higher Education (BIHE) in Iran. I have served on the board of RI Interfaith Power&Light for more than a decade. In recent years, much of my time is spent serving the Bahá’í-inspired International Environment Forum ( as its secretary.  My formal academic background is in music, and I enjoy part-time piano teaching, playing and - when there is time - composing music. A recent composition is Humans on Earth – a Ballad of Our Time for two singers, string orchestra, piano, and percussion. Its lyrics include quotations from scientific sources and the Bahá’í Writings. Christine’s articles on BahaiTeachings.orgSee Faculty Bio


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