Held on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur on 24 and 25 February 2018, the event commemorated the bicentenary of the birth of Baha’u’llah and welcomed Members of the Malaysian Parliament, the Archbishop of Kuala Lumpur, other religious leaders, and notable members of civil society organizations and governmental agencies.
Guests explored a series of thematic zones that followed the history of the Baha’i Faith and examined its central principles. The flow of ideas in the exhibition was inspired by the October 2017 message from the Universal House of Justice written for the bicentenary.
Datuk Lok Yim Pheng, a Commissioner of the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia, commented on how the efforts of the Baha’i community to build communities at the grassroots were tangible expressions of the principle of the oneness of humankind.
She noted that this was the first time she had seen the concept of the oneness of humankind presented in such a profound manner.
Another Commissioner of the Human Rights Commission, Jerald Joseph, shared that the Baha’i principles of consultation and independent investigation of truth were “important points that came out” from the event.
“Such a brilliant philosophy in religion,” he stated. He went on to say that “the Baha’i Faith emphasizes the sense of inquiry,” in contrast to a dogmatic and doctrinaire approach to truth. “That itself was seen through the journey presented in the exhibition,” Mr. Joseph said.
The arts featured prominently throughout the two days of the exhibition, especially in highlighting how spiritual principles have practical expression for social betterment. In one of the displays, two volunteers performed a short theatrical presentation explaining how, when in harmony, individuals, institutions, and communities can bring about profound constructive change. In another, a short clip from the film Light to the World was shown, followed by some remarks about the inseparable connection between individual and societal transformation.
The Baha’i teachings say:
All art is a gift of the holy spirit. When this light shines through the mind of a musician, it manifests itself in beautiful harmonies. Again, shining through the mind of a poet, it is seen in fine poetry and poetic prose. When the light of the sun of truth inspires the mind of a painter, he produces marvellous pictures. These gifts are fulfilling their highest purpose, when showing forth the praise of God. – Abdu’l-Baha, quoted by Lady Blomfield in The Chosen Highway, p. 167
The exhibition sparked thoughtful reflections on the part of many guests. Executive Committee Member of the Malaysian Youth Council Thai Ming Yeow emphasized the importance of promoting common ground for the betterment of the world.
Many of the over 300 visitors also expressed that they were impressed by the creative approach to the exhibition and how young people played such an important part in the event.
“In Malaysia, with people of diverse backgrounds we find that the arts are an excellent medium to connect hearts and touch souls across cultures and ethnicity,” said Ho Yuet Mee, member of the Baha’i Spiritual Assembly of Malaysia, commenting on the resourcefulness and creativity of the organizers.
“The exhibition was a testament to the power of unity as proclaimed by Baha’u’llah,” explained Dylane Ho, a representative of the Baha’i community of Malaysia. “For many, the conviction that the oneness of humanity is a reality rather than merely an ideal was deeply felt, not only in the presentations on the life of Baha’u’llah and the application of His Teachings, but also in the atmosphere created in the space itself.
“So many hearts have been connected through the forces released in this bicentennial period,” she continued.