March 8, 2019

1984: Baha'i membership in eleven countries reached or surpassed 1% of total population

Baha'i membership in eleven countries, all in the Third World and nine of them island communities, have reached or surpassed one per cent of the total population. 
- The Universal House of Justice, Ridvan 1984 message; ‘Messages from the Universal House of Justice 1963-1986’)

March 1, 2019

Baha’u’llah describes what He observed upon returning to Baghdad from Kurdistan

What pen can recount the things We beheld upon Our return! Two years have elapsed during which Our enemies have ceaselessly and assiduously contrived to exterminate Us, whereunto all witness. Nevertheless, none amongst the faithful hath risen to render Us any assistance, nor did any one feel inclined to help in Our deliverance. Nay, instead of assisting Us, what showers of continuous sorrows, their words and deeds have caused to rain upon Our soul! Amidst them all, We stand, life in hand, wholly resigned to His will; that perchance, through God’s loving kindness and His grace, this revealed and manifest Letter may lay down His life as a sacrifice in the path of the Primal Point, the most exalted Word. By Him at Whose bidding the Spirit hath spoken, but for this yearning of Our soul, We would not, for one moment, have tarried any longer in this city. “Sufficient Witness is God unto Us.” We conclude Our argument with the words: “There is no power nor strength but in God alone.” “We are God’s, and to Him shall we return.” 
- Baha’u’llah  (The Kitab-i-Iqan’)

February 13, 2019

1984: Two new Baha’i radio stations: - in Bolivia & United States

Two new radio stations will make their inaugural broadcasts this year, namely Radio Baha'i of Bolivia, at Caracollo, and WLGI, the Baha'i radio station at the Louis Gregory Institute, in the United States. 
- The Universal House of Justice  (Ridvan 1984 message; ‘Messages from the Universal House of Justice 1963-1986’)

February 8, 2019

1983: National Spiritual Assemblies of St. Lucia and Dominica were formed

Immediately following the International Convention last Ridvan, two new National Spiritual Assemblies were formed -- in St. Lucia and Dominica. 
- The Universal House of Justice  (Ridvan 1984 message; ‘Messages from the Universal House of Justice 1963-1986’)

February 3, 2019

1984: Universal House of Justice announces “a term of five years' service” for Auxiliary Board members starting in November of 1986

To develop further this vital organ of the Administrative Order, it has been decided to establish a term of five years' service for those appointed to the Auxiliary Boards, commencing 26 November 1986. 
- The Universal House of Justice  (Ridvan 1984 message; ‘Messages from the Universal House of Justice 1963-1986’)

January 28, 2019

Worldwide emergence of the Faith from obscurity during 1979-1984

The emergence from obscurity, which has been so marked a feature of the Cause of God during the first five years of the Seven Year Plan [1979-1986], has been attended by changes, both external and internal, affecting the Baha'i world community.  Externally, there are signs of a crystallization of a public image of the Cause -- largely uninformed, however friendly -- while internally growing maturity and confidence are indicated by increased administrative ability, a desire for Baha'i communities to render service to the larger body of mankind and a deepening understanding of the relevance of the divine Message to modern problems. Both these aspects of change must be taken into consideration as we enter the third and final phase of the Seven Year Plan. 
- The Universal House of Justice  (Ridvan 1984; ‘Messages from the Universal House of Justice 1983-1986’)

January 21, 2019

1983: The Universal House of Justice announces the establishment of an Office of Social and Economic Development at the World Centre

…after all the years of constant teaching activity, the Community of the Greatest Name has grown to the stage at which the processes of this development must be incorporated into its regular pursuits; particularly is action compelled by the expansion of the Faith in Third World countries where the vast majority of its adherents reside. The steps to be taken must necessarily begin in the Baha'i Community itself, with the friends endeavouring, through their application of spiritual principles, their rectitude of conduct and the practice of the art of consultation, to uplift themselves and thus become self-sufficient and self-reliant.  Moreover, these exertions will conduce to the preservation of human honour so desired by Baha'u'llah. In the process and as a consequence, the friends will undoubtedly extend the benefits of their efforts to society as a whole, until all mankind achieves the progress intended by the Lord of the Age.

It is indeed propitious that systematic attention be given to this vital sphere of Baha'i endeavour. We are happy, therefore, to announce the establishment at the World Centre of the Office of Social and Economic Development, which is to assist the Universal House of Justice to promote and co-ordinate the activities of the friends throughout the world in this new field.

The International Teaching Centre and, through it, the Continental Boards of Counsellors are poised for the special responsibilities which devolve upon them to be alert to possibilities for extending the development of social and economic life both within and outside the Baha'i Community, and to advise and encourage the Assemblies and friends in their strivings. 
- The Universal House of Justice  (From a letter dated 20 October 1983; ‘Messages from the Universal House of Justice 1963-1986’)

January 15, 2019

1951: First time women were elected to Baha'i Assemblies in Egypt

Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of Alexandria, Egypt
Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of Cairo, Egypt
(The Baha'i World 1950-1954)

January 10, 2019

First National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of Central America, Mexico and the Antilles, elected April 1951

Seated, left to right: Dr. David Escalante (San Salvador), James V. Facey (Colon), Miss Elena Marsella (Ciudad Trujillo), Artemus Lamb (San Jose). Standing, left to right: Mrs. Louise Caswell (Tegucigalpa), Zenayda Jurado C. (Mexico City), Mrs. Cora H. Oliver (Colon), Sra. Raquel J. Francois de Constante (Panama City), Natalia A. Chavez (Tegucigalpa) 
(The Baha’i World 1950-1954)

January 6, 2019

1868: Siyah-Chal (the Black Pit) was filled-in and a center for royal mourning for Imam Husayn was built over it.

Siyah-Chall’s original corridor leading to the entrance. The dungeon was filled-in in 1868 and the Takyih Dowlat, a canvas-covered center for royal mourning for Imam Husayn, was built over it. (Baha’i News, March 1976)
A reproduction of a painting of the Takyih Dowlat showing a ceremony for Imam Husayn. The ground floor accommodated 4,000 women. The surrounding rooms were for the Shah, his family, and dignitaries. (Baha’i News, March 1976)
The site [Takyih Dowlat] was used in 1925 for a convocation of national representatives (Majlis-i-Mu’assisan) at which the fall of the Qajar dynasty was announced. The officers of that historic gathering are shown in this photo. A Baha'i, 'Izzatu'llah Bakhshayish, shown fifth from left in front row, was the chief stenographer recording the event. Thus the downfall of the Qajar dynasty was announced through the will of the promised Husayn (Baha'u'llah) at the very site of His prison. It was known among the believers at the time that the Exalted Báb had predicted that the Qajar dynasty would fall 1,000 (lunar) months from time of His Revelation. However, research must be made to find the source. 
(Baha’i News, March 1976)

December 27, 2018

Baha’u’llah explains to Nasiri’d-Din Shah circumstances in Iraq resulting in His and His companions’ application for Ottoman citizenship

By the leave and permission of the King of the Age, this Servant journeyed from the Seat of Sovereignty [Tihran] to ‘Iráq, and dwelt for twelve years in that land.  Throughout the entire course of this period no account of Our condition was submitted to the court of thy presence, and no representation ever made to foreign powers. Placing Our whole trust in God, We resided in that land until there came to ‘Iráq a certain official [1] who, upon his arrival, undertook to harass this poor company of exiles. Day after day, at the instigation of some of the outwardly learned and of other individuals, he would stir up trouble for these servants, although they had at no time committed any act detrimental to the state and its people or contrary to the rules and customs of the citizens of the realm.

Fearing lest the actions of these transgressors should produce some outcome at variance with thy world-adorning judgement, this Servant despatched a brief account of the matter to Mírzá Sa‘íd Khán [2] at the Foreign Ministry, so that he might submit it to the royal presence and that whatever thou shouldst please to decree in this respect might be obeyed. A long while elapsed, and no decree was issued. Finally matters came to such a pass that there loomed the threat of imminent strife and bloodshed. Of necessity, therefore, and for the protection of the servants of God, a few of them appealed to the Governor of ‘Iráq. [3]

December 20, 2018

1907: Two Baha'is from America visit Baha'is in Haifa

Thornton Chase and Arthur Agnew in the home of Mirza Assadu'llah 
('In Galilee', by Thornton Chase)

December 16, 2018

1949: Third South American Teaching Congress, Sao Paulo, Brazil


Baha’is representing seven participating South American countries and the United States gathered at the site of the Third South American Teaching Congress, January 1949, Sao Paulo, Brazil.
(The Baha'i World 1946-1950)

December 10, 2018

1925: First Dutch Baha’i arrived at the World Center

Yesterday a Dutchman arrived here from Port Said, the first Dutch Bahá’í, so far as we know. He has been a sincere and earnest truth-seeker for years. About 9 months ago he left his home at the Hague and walked on foot through Belgium, France and Italy. Then he felt some inward urge to go to Egypt, and travelled thither by a Dutch Cargo Steamer. When the steamer arrived at Port Said Mahmood Effendi, one of the Port Said Bahá’ís came on board and was introduced to Mesdag (the Dutchman). They struck up a friendship at once and after 2 days Mesdag went to live in Mahmood’s house. There he met Martha Root, Mr. Schopflocher and various other Bahá’ís, read my book [Dr. Esslemont’s: ‘Baha’u’llah and the New Era’] and became thoroughly interested and seems now already a firm believer. He has already, since his arrival yesterday morning, translated our 8-page folder into Dutch and we hope he will be able to do much to make the Cause known in Holland and win adherents there. 
- Shoghi Effendi  (From a letter dated May 9, 1925, written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer; ‘Arohanui: Letter from Shoghi Effendi to New Zealand’)

December 4, 2018

‘Abdu’l-Baha provides some ancient historical information about a portion of the planet

If one travel in the central desert of Asia, he will observe how many cities as great and populous as Paris or London have been ruined. From the Caspian Sea to the River Oxus naught is to be seen save forlorn and deserted prairies and deserts. The Russian railway (the Trans-Caspian R. R.) takes two days and two nights to traverse the ruined cities and destroyed villages of that desert. There was a time when that land was very populous and in the highest state of civilization and development; science and knowledge were wide spread, the arts and professions established, commerce and agriculture were in the utmost state of perfection, and civil government and politics well organized.

Now, all this great region is the habitation of desolation and shelters only the' nomadic Turkoman tribes and the wandering beasts of prey. The cities of that land, as Gorgan, Tassa, Abiavard and Shahrastan, were once famous in the world for sciences, knowledge, professions, wonders, wealth, greatness, happiness and virtue. Now, no voice or murmur is to be heard in all that land save the roar of ferocious brutes, and naught to be seen save the wandering wolves.

This ruin and destruction was occasioned by the battles and murders of the wars between Iran (Persia) and Turkan… 
- ‘Abdu’l-Baha  (From a Tablet; ‘Star of the West, vol. 6, no. 9, August 20, 1915)

November 28, 2018

The Báb sent two messengers to Muhammad Shah, the King of Persia – one messenger with “a truly resplendent Tablet”, and another with “epistles” revealed by Him

This is an Epistle from Him Who is the true, the undoubted Leader. Herein is revealed the law of all things for those who fain would heed His Call or wish to be reckoned among them that are guided aright. Herein is enshrined the law of all things for such as would bear witness to the Revelation of thy Lord in accordance with this clear balance. Verily the ordinances of God concerning all things were formerly set forth in eloquent Arabic. Indeed those whose souls have been created through the splendor of the light of thy Lord recognize the Truth and are numbered with such as faithfully obey the One True God and are well assured.…

O Muhammad! The Decree of thy Lord was fulfilled four years ago; and ever since the inception of the Cause of thy Lord I have warned thee to fear God and not to be of the ignorant. I dispatched a messenger unto thee with a truly resplendent Tablet, but the followers of the devil turned him away disdainfully and interposed themselves between him and thee. They expelled him from the land whereof thou art the undisputed sovereign. Thus hath the good of this world and of the next escaped thee, unless thou submit to the commandment ordained by God and be of them that are rightly guided.

November 20, 2018

circa 1847:The Báb challenged the King of Persia, Muhammad Shah, to summon all the divines so He could prove the truth of His Mission

Muhammad Shah
If thou art not apprehensive that the truth might be revealed and the works of the ungodly be brought to naught, why summonest thou not the divines of the land, and then summon Me, so that I may confound them forthwith, even as those disbelievers whom I have previously confounded? This is My sure testimony unto thee and unto them, if they speak the truth. Summon thou all of them. Should they then be able to utter words like unto this, thou wouldst know that their cause is worthy of attention. Nay, by the righteousness of My Lord! They are bereft of power, nor are they endued with perception. They professed faith in the past without understanding its significance, then later they repudiated the Truth; for they are devoid of discernment. 
- The Báb  (From an Epistle to Muhammad Shad; ‘Selections from the Writings of the Báb)

November 8, 2018

1946: First South American Baha'i Congress, Buenos Aires, Argentina

Delegates and representatives at Press Conference, Continental Hotel, November 7, 1946. First South American Baha'i Congress, Buenos Aires, Argentina. (The Baha’i World 1946-1950)

October 28, 2018

1972: Number of worldwide localities where Baha’is reside reached 56,645

14 February 1972
To all National Spiritual Assemblies

OVERJOYED ANNOUNCE FRIENDS EVERY LAND NUMBER LOCALITIES NOW 56645 EXCEEDING BY OVER 2500 ORIGINAL GOAL NINE YEAR PLAN. OFFERING PRAYERS THANKSGIVING SACRED THRESHOLD FOR DIVINE BOUNTIES SURROUNDING SACRIFICIAL EFFORTS LOVE-INTOXICATED SUPPORTERS HIS BLESSED NAME.  URGE BELIEVERS THOSE AREAS WHOSE TEACHING GOALS ARE STILL OUTSTANDING EXERT UTMOST EFFORT COURSE SWIFTLY PASSING REMAINING MONTHS PLAN WIN THEIR GOALS ENABLING THEM JOIN RANKS THEIR VICTORIOUS BRETHREN WHO ARE URGED CONTINUE THEIR VIGOROUS BRILLIANT EXPLOITS IN SERVICE GOD'S INFINITELY GLORIOUS CAUSE.

UNIVERSAL HOUSE OF JUSTICE
(Messages from the Universal House of Justice, 1963-1986’)

October 23, 2018

The “conclusion of the Primitive, the Apostolic Age of the Faith of Baha'u'llah”

With 'Abdu'l-Baha's ascension, and more particularly with the passing of His well-beloved and illustrious sister the Most Exalted Leaf -- the last survivor of a glorious and heroic age -- there draws to a close the first and most moving chapter of Baha'i history, marking the conclusion of the Primitive, the Apostolic Age of the Faith of Baha'u'llah. It was 'Abdu'l-Baha Who, through the provisions of His weighty Will and Testament, has forged the vital link which must for ever connect the age that has just expired with the one we now live in -- the Transitional and Formative period of the Faith -- a stage that must in the fullness of time reach its blossom and yield its fruit in the exploits and triumphs that are to herald the Golden Age of the Revelation of Baha'u'llah. 
- Shoghi Effendi  (From a message dated 8 February 1934, printed as ‘The Dispensation of Baha'u'llah’ in ‘The World Order of Baha'u'llah’)

October 10, 2018

Delivery of Epistles to "the several rulers and crowned heads of the world" – Baha’u’llah explains

From Our Most Great Prison We were moved to address to the several rulers and crowned heads of the world Epistles in which We summoned them to arise and embrace the Cause of God. To the Shah of Persia We sent Our messenger Badi', into whose hands We entrusted the Tablet. It was he who raised it aloft before the eyes of the multitude and, with uplifted voice, appealed to his sovereign to heed the words that Tablet contained. The rest of the Epistles likewise reached their destination. To the Tablet We addressed to the Emperor of France, an answer was received from his minister, the original of which is now in the possession of the Most Great Branch. To him We addressed these words: 'Bid the high priest, O Monarch of France, to cease ringing his bells, for, lo! the Most Great Bell, which the hands of the will of the Lord thy God are ringing, is made manifest in the person of His chosen One.' The Epistle We addressed to the Czar of Russia, alone failed to reach its destination. Other Tablets, however, have reached him, and that Epistle will eventually be delivered into his hands. 
- Baha’u’llah  (Quoted by Nabil in ‘The Dawn-Breakers’, translated and edited by Shoghi Effendi)

October 1, 2018

Persia: September 1848 – First time that the combined forces of the civil and ecclesiastical powers started a systematic campaign against the Bábís

One of Tehran's gates, circa 1920s
This fierce, nation-wide controversy had assumed alarming proportions when Muhammad Sháh finally succumbed to his illness, precipitating by his death the downfall of his favorite and all-powerful minister, Ḥájí Mírzá Aqásí, who, soon stripped of the treasures he had amassed, fell into disgrace, was expelled from the capital, and sought refuge in Karbilá. The seventeen year old Náṣiri’d-Dín Mírzá ascended the throne, leaving the direction of affairs to the obdurate, the iron-hearted Amír-Nizám, Mírzá Taqí Khán, who, without consulting his fellow-ministers, decreed that immediate and condign punishment be inflicted on the hapless Bábís. Governors, magistrates and civil servants, throughout the provinces, instigated by the monstrous campaign of vilification conducted by the clergy, and prompted by their lust for pecuniary rewards, vied in their respective spheres with each other in hounding and heaping indignities on the adherents of an outlawed Faith. For the first time in the Faith’s history a systematic campaign in which the civil and ecclesiastical powers were banded together was being launched against it, a campaign that was to culminate in the horrors experienced by Bahá’u’lláh in the Síyáh-Chál of Ṭihrán and His subsequent banishment to ‘Iráq. Government, clergy and people arose, as one man, to assault and exterminate their common enemy. In remote and isolated centers the scattered disciples of a persecuted community were pitilessly struck down by the sword of their foes, while in centers where large numbers had congregated measures were taken in self-defense, which, misconstrued by a cunning and deceitful adversary, served in their turn to inflame still further the hostility of the authorities, and multiply the outrages perpetrated by the oppressor. In the East at Shaykh Tabarsí, in the south in Nayríz, in the west in Zanján, and in the capital itself, massacres, upheavals, demonstrations, engagements, sieges, acts of treachery proclaimed, in rapid succession, the violence of the storm which had broken out, and exposed the bankruptcy, and blackened the annals, of a proud yet degenerate people. 
- Shoghi Effendi  (‘God Passes By’)

September 16, 2018

1934: Last day of Tarbiyat school and the shocking effect of its closure on 1500 students – excerpt from a letter by Clara and Adelaide Sharp from Tehran

The closing of the school was a great shock although we had expected that it might happen. The Bab’s Martyrdom in this country is kept by the Arabic calendar and came this year on December 6. ... Saturday afternoon a policeman came with an order from the Board of Education to close the schools. They said Tarbiyat had been closed for no reason Thursday and the license for Tarbiyat School existed no longer. The order came after school had been dismissed and there was no time to tell all the children, so Adelaide and her assistant went to school the next morning at 6:30 A.M., before the policeman could get there, and as the children came to enter the school they had to be turned back. This was very hard as many of the little ones did not understand and called to Adelaide to tell the policeman to let them in, and many cried. ... The Baha’i children have not gone to other schools. ... The Muhammadan children of course went to other schools but they are not satisfied and happy. Tarbiyat School was far ahead of the other Persian schools, in their text books, character training and everything else. All the schools say this. The educated Muhammadans are with the Baha’is. One important Muhammadan said he knew it was a Baha’i School when he sent his children there and said that was no reason for closing the school. ... We had many of the best families in town sending their children and they are feeling very badly about it. There were nearly 1500 pupils in both schools and about 50 teachers. ... This has advertised the school and called attention to the Cause and what they are working for more than anything else that could have happened. ... Shoghi Effendi has written for us to be patient and not make any disturbance but persevere and keep trying to gain religious liberty, that the school will again open and things will be better than ever. 
(Baha’i News, no. 96, December 1935)

September 6, 2018

Progressive unfoldment of the Bábi Revelation

[in 1844] the Author of the Bábí Revelation had declared His mission to Mullá Ḥusayn in the privacy of His home in Shíráz. Three years after that Declaration, within the walls of the prison-fortress of Máh-Kú, He was dictating to His amanuensis the fundamental and distinguishing precepts of His Dispensation. A year later, His followers, under the actual leadership of Bahá’u’lláh, their fellow-disciple, were themselves, in the hamlet of Badasht, abrogating the Qur’ánic Law, repudiating both the divinely-ordained and man-made precepts of the Faith of Muḥammad, and shaking off the shackles of its antiquated system. Almost immediately after, the Báb Himself, still a prisoner, was vindicating the acts of His disciples by asserting, formally and unreservedly, His claim to be the promised Qá’im, in the presence of the Heir to the Throne, the leading exponents of the Shaykhí community, and the most illustrious ecclesiastical dignitaries assembled in the capital of Ádhirbayján. 
- Shoghi Effendi  (‘God Passes By’)

September 5, 2018

circa 1935: Mount Carmel

View taken by Miss Effie Baker to show the general area of land surrounding the Shrine which has come under Baha’i ownership and control. 
(Baha’i News, no. 97, January 1936)

September 3, 2018

On closing of Tarbiyat schools in 1934 by government – the Guardian explains

With regard to the closing of the Tarbiyat Schools: the school authorities have, in enforcing the observance of Baha’i anniversaries, acted on the advice and direction of the Guardian. These Schools, being independent and official Baha’i institutions, could not very well ignore, much less violate the express provisions and laws of the Aqdas. Had they any connection with government institutions, or had their ownership and control been shared by non-Baha’is, the situation would have been different. This distinction between institutions that are under full or partial Baha’i control is of a fundamental importance. Institutions that are entirely managed by Baha’is are, for reasons that are only too obvious, under the obligation of enforcing all the laws and ordinances of the Faith, especially those whose observance constitutes a matter of conscience. There is no reason, no justification whatever, that they should act otherwise, and any restriction should also take into consideration the rights and interests of their non-Baha’i partners and associates, and not to force these to stop working when they are under no moral or religious obligation to do so.