February 29, 2020

The “distinct gradation in the character of the opposition” the Faith encountered during 1844-1944

We can discover a no less distinct gradation in the character of the opposition it has had to encounter—an opposition, at first kindled in the bosom of Shi‘ah Islám, which, at a later stage, gathered momentum with the banishment of Bahá’u’lláh to the domains of the Turkish Sulṭán and the consequent hostility of the more powerful Sunní hierarchy and its Caliph, the head of the vast majority of the followers of Muhammad—an opposition which, now, through the rise of a divinely appointed Order in the Christian West, and its initial impact on civil and ecclesiastical institutions, bids fair to include among its supporters established governments and systems associated with the most ancient, the most deeply entrenched sacerdotal hierarchies in Christendom. We can, at the same time, recognize, through the haze of an ever-widening hostility, the progress, painful yet persistent, of certain communities within its pale through the stages of obscurity, of proscription, of emancipation, and of recognition—stages that must needs culminate in the course of succeeding centuries, in the establishment of the Faith, and the founding, in the plenitude of its power and authority, of the world-embracing Bahá’í Commonwealth. 
- Shoghi Effendi  (‘Preface to God Passes By’)

February 25, 2020

Following Mullá Husay’s recognition of the Báb, “the enrollment of the seventeen remaining Letters of the Living” commenced after forty days

With this historic Declaration the dawn of an Age that signalizes the consummation of all ages had broken. The first impulse of a momentous Revelation had been communicated to the one “but for whom,” according to the testimony of the Kitáb-i-Íqán, “God would not have been established upon the seat of His mercy, nor ascended the throne of eternal glory.” Not until forty days had elapsed, however, did the enrollment of the seventeen remaining Letters of the Living commence. Gradually, spontaneously, some in sleep, others while awake, some through fasting and prayer, others through dreams and visions, they discovered the Object of their quest, and were enlisted under the banner of the new-born Faith. 
- Shoghi Effendi  (‘God Passes By)

February 12, 2020

circa 1920s: View of Bahji at beginning of Shoghi Effendi's ministry

Left to right: House occupied by Covenant-breakers, Balcony of the Mansion, Entrance to Baha'u'llah's Tomb, Pilgrim House. 
(The Baha'i World 1954-1963)

February 8, 2020

The “apparent evolution in the scope” of the teachings of the Faith during 1844-1944

We perceive a no less apparent evolution in the scope of its teachings, at first designedly rigid, complex and severe, subsequently recast, expanded, and liberalized under the succeeding Dispensation, later expounded, reaffirmed and amplified by an appointed Interpreter, and lastly systematized and universally applied to both individuals and institutions. 
- Shoghi Effendi  (‘Preface to God Passes By’)

February 5, 2020

“no less than half” of Nabil’s narrative is devoted to the first nine years of Baha’i Era

Little wonder that the immortal chronicler of the events associated with the birth and rise of the Bahá’í Revelation has seen fit to devote no less than half of his moving narrative to the description of those happenings that have during such a brief space of time so greatly enriched, through their tragedy and heroism, the religious annals of mankind.
- Shoghi Effendi  (‘God Passes By’)

February 1, 2020

October 1848: Mulla Husayn and his companions enter the Shrine of Shaykh Tabarsi

Mulla Husayn and his companions entered the Shrine of Shaykh Tabarsi and were attacked that night by a body of horsemen from Qadi-Kula.
- Moojan Momen  (The Baha’i World, vol. 18)

January 27, 2020

The gradual increase in Baha’i literature during 1844-1944

We notice a similar development in the extent of its literature—a literature which, restricted at first to the narrow range of hurriedly transcribed, often corrupted, secretly circulated, manuscripts, so furtively perused, so frequently effaced, and at times even eaten by the terrorized members of a proscribed sect, has, within the space of a century, swelled into innumerable editions, comprising tens of thousands of printed volumes, in diverse scripts, and in no less than forty languages, some elaborately reproduced, others profusely illustrated, all methodically and vigorously disseminated through the agency of world-wide, properly constituted and specially organized committees and Assemblies. 
- Shoghi Effendi  (‘Preface to God Passes By’)

January 24, 2020

The Báb’s “arch-enemy”

The arch-enemy who repudiated His claim, challenged His authority, persecuted His Cause, succeeded in almost quenching His light, and who eventually became disintegrated under the impact of His Revelation was the Shí‘ah priesthood. Fiercely fanatic, unspeakably corrupt, enjoying unlimited ascendancy over the masses, jealous of their position, and irreconcilably opposed to all liberal ideas, the members of this caste had for one thousand years invoked the name of the Hidden Imám, their breasts had glowed with the expectation of His advent, their pulpits had rung with the praises of His world-embracing dominion, their lips were still devoutly and perpetually murmuring prayers for the hastening of His coming. 
- Shoghi Effendi (‘God Passes By’)

January 20, 2020

The people among whom the Báb appeared

The people among whom He appeared were the most decadent race in the civilized world, grossly ignorant, savage, cruel, steeped in prejudice, servile in their submission to an almost deified hierarchy, recalling in their abjectness the Israelites of Egypt in the days of Moses, in their fanaticism the Jews in the days of Jesus, and in their perversity the idolators of Arabia in the days of Muhammad. 
- Shoghi Effendi  (‘God Passes By’)

January 12, 2020

1954: The first Baha'is in the British Cameroons

Enoch Olinga, pionner from East Africa (top left, dark suit) carried the Faith to this goal country of the Ten-Year Plan. 
(The Baha'i World 1950-1954)

January 11, 2020

The sufferings of Baha’u’llah: “No torment was there left that His sacred form was not subjected to.” - ‘Abdu’l-Baha explains

The Abhá Beauty Himself—may the spirit of all existence be offered up for His loved ones—bore all manner of ordeals, and willingly accepted for Himself intense afflictions. No torment was there left that His sacred form was not subjected to, no suffering that did not descend upon Him. How many a night, when He was chained, did He go sleepless because of the weight of His iron collar; how many a day the burning pain of the stocks and fetters gave Him no moment’s peace. From Níyávarán to Ṭihrán they made Him run—He, that embodied spirit, He Who had been accustomed to repose against cushions of ornamented silk—chained, shoeless, His head bared; and down under the earth, in the thick darkness of that narrow dungeon, they shut Him up with murderers, rebels and thieves. Ever and again they assailed Him with a new torment, and all were certain that from one moment to the next He would suffer a martyr’s death. After some time they banished Him from His native land, and sent Him to countries alien and far away. During many a year in ‘Iráq, no moment passed but the arrow of a new anguish struck His holy heart; with every breath a sword came down upon that sacred body, and He could hope for no moment of security and rest. From every side His enemies mounted their attack with unrelenting hate; and singly and alone He withstood them all. After all these tribulations, these body blows, they flung Him out of ‘Iráq in the continent of Asia, to the continent of Europe, and in that place of bitter exile, of wretched hardships, to the wrongs that were heaped upon Him by the people of the Qur’án were now added the virulent persecutions, the powerful attacks, the plottings, the slanders, the continual hostilities, the hate and malice, of the people of the Bayán. My pen is powerless to tell it all; but ye have surely been informed of it. Then, after twenty-four years in this, the Most Great Prison, in agony and sore affliction, His days drew to a close.

To sum it up, the Ancient Beauty was ever, during His sojourn in this transitory world, either a captive bound with chains, or living under a sword, or subjected to extreme suffering and torment, or held in the Most Great Prison. Because of His physical weakness, brought on by His afflictions, His blessed body was worn away to a breath; it was light as a cobweb from long grieving. 
- ‘Abdu’l-Baha  (‘Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Baha’)

January 7, 2020

Baha’u’llah describes the incident in Adrianople when soldiers were posted round His house and His followers were told to prepare for their departure from Adrianople

Know thou, O servant, that one day, upon awakening, We found the beloved of God at the mercy of Our adversaries. Sentinels were posted at every gate and no one was permitted to enter or leave. Indeed, they perpetrated a sore injustice, for the loved ones of God and His kindred were left on the first night without food. Such was the fate of those for whose sake the world and all that is therein have been created. Woe betide the perpetrators and those who led them into such evil!  Erelong will God consume their souls in the fire. He, verily, is the fiercest of avengers.

The people surrounded the house, and Muslims and Christians wept over Us, and the voice of lamentation was upraised between earth and heaven by reason of what the hands of the oppressors had wrought. We perceived that the weeping of the people of the Son exceeded the weeping of others—a sign for such as ponder.

One of My companions offered up his life, cutting his throat with his own hands for the love of God, an act unheard of in bygone centuries and which God hath set apart for this Revelation as an evidence of the power of His might. [1] He, verily, is the Unconstrained, the All-Subduing. As for the one who thus slew himself in ‘Iráq, [2] he truly is the King and Beloved of Martyrs, and that which he evinced was a testimony from God unto the peoples of the earth. Such souls have been influenced by the Word of God, have tasted the sweetness of His remembrance, and are so transported by the breezes of reunion that they have detached themselves from all that dwell on earth and turned unto the Divine Countenance with faces beaming with light. And though they have committed an act which God hath forbidden, He hath nevertheless forgiven them as a token of His mercy. He, verily, is the Ever-Forgiving, the Most Compassionate. So enraptured were these souls by Him Who is the All-Compelling that the reins of volition slipped from their grasp, until at last they ascended to the dwelling of the Unseen and entered the presence of God, the Almighty, the All-Knowing. 
- Baha’u’llah  (Súriy-i-Ra’ís, addressed to ‘Álí Páshá, the Ottoman Prime Minister; ‘The Summons of the Lord of Hosts’)
[1] Hájí Ja‘far-i-Tabrízí; he was prevented in time from ending his life
[2] Siyyid Ismá‘íl of Zavárih

December 31, 2019

The gradual increase in the diversity of the followers of the Faith during 1844-1944

We witness a corresponding increase in the diversity of the elements within its fellowship, which from being confined, in the first period of its history, to an obscure body of followers chiefly recruited from the ranks of the masses in Shi‘ah Persia, has expanded into a fraternity representative of the leading religious systems of the world, of almost every caste and color, from the humblest worker and peasant to royalty itself. 
- Shoghi Effendi  (‘Preface to God Passes By’)

December 22, 2019

The gradual spread of the Faith during 1844-1944

We watch, through these periods, the infant light of the Faith diffuse itself from its cradle, eastward to India and the Far East, westward to the neighboring territories of ‘Iráq, of Turkey, of Russia, and of Egypt, travel as far as the North American continent, illuminate subsequently the major countries of Europe, envelop with its radiance, at a later stage, the Antipodes, brighten the fringes of the Arctic, and finally set aglow the Central and South American horizons. 
- Shoghi Effendi  (‘Preface to God Passes By’)

December 17, 2019

High-level features of the Faith during 1921 to 1944

The fourth period (1921–1944) is motivated by the forces radiating from the Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’lBahá, that Charter of Bahá’ulláh’s New World Order, the offspring resulting from the mystic intercourse between Him Who is the Source of the Law of God and the mind of the One Who is the vehicle and interpreter of that Law. The inception of this fourth, this last period of the first Bahá’í century synchronizes with the birth of the Formative Age of the Bahá’í Era, with the founding of the Administrative Order of the Faith of Bahá’u’lláh—a system which is at once the harbinger, the nucleus and pattern of His World Order. This period, covering the first twenty-three years of this Formative Age, has already been distinguished by an outburst of further hostility, of a different character, accelerating on the one hand the diffusion of the Faith over a still wider area in each of the five continents of the globe, and resulting on the other in the emancipation and the recognition of the independent status of several communities within its pale. 
- Shoghi Effendi  (‘Preface to ‘God Passes By)

December 10, 2019

1892-1921: High-level features with respect to the Faith

The third period (1892–1921) revolves around the vibrant personality of ‘Abdu’l‑Bahá, mysterious in His essence, unique in His station, astoundingly potent in both the charm and strength of His character. It commences with the announcement of the Covenant of Bahá’u’lláh, a document without parallel in the history of any earlier Dispensation, attains its climax in the emphatic assertion by the Center of that Covenant, in the City of the Covenant, of the unique character and far-reaching implications of that Document, and closes with His passing and the interment of His remains on Mt. Carmel. It will go down in history as a period of almost thirty years’ duration, in which tragedies and triumphs have been so intertwined as to eclipse at one time the Orb of the Covenant, and at another time to pour forth its light over the continent of Europe, and as far as Australasia, the Far East and the North American continent. 
- Shoghi Effendi  (‘Preface to 'God Passes By’)

December 1, 2019

1853-1892: High-level summary of events associated with the Faith

The second period (1853–1892) derives its inspiration from the august figure of Bahá’u’lláh, preeminent in holiness, awesome in the majesty of His strength and power, unapproachable in the transcendent brightness of His glory. It opens with the first stirrings, in the soul of Bahá’u’lláh while in the Síyáh-Chál of Tihrán, of the Revelation anticipated by the Báb, attains its plenitude in the proclamation of that Revelation to the kings and ecclesiastical leaders of the earth, and terminates in the ascension of its Author in the vicinity of the prison-town of ‘Akká. It extends over thirty-nine years of continuous, of unprecedented and overpowering Revelation, is marked by the propagation of the Faith to the neighboring territories of Turkey, of Russia, of ‘Iráq, of Syria, of Egypt and of India, and is distinguished by a corresponding aggravation of hostility, represented by the united attacks launched by the Sháh of Persia and the Sultán of Turkey, the two admittedly most powerful potentates of the East, as well as by the opposition of the twin sacerdotal orders of Shi‘ah and Sunní Islám. 
- Shoghi Effendi  (Preface to ‘God Passes By’)

November 27, 2019

1844–1853: High-level summary of events associated with the Faith

The first period (1844–1853), centers around the gentle, the youthful and irresistible person of the Báb, matchless in His meekness, imperturbable in His serenity, magnetic in His utterance, unrivaled in the dramatic episodes of His swift and tragic ministry. It begins with the Declaration of His Mission, culminates in His martyrdom, and ends in a veritable orgy of religious massacre revolting in its hideousness. It is characterized by nine years of fierce and relentless contest, whose theatre was the whole of Persia, in which above ten thousand heroes laid down their lives, in which two sovereigns of the Qájár dynasty and their wicked ministers participated, and which was supported by the entire Shi‘ah ecclesiastical hierarchy, by the military resources of the state, and by the implacable hostility of the masses. 
- Shoghi Effendi  (Preface to ‘God Passes By’)

November 24, 2019

Dr. August Forel and the Baha’i Faith – The Guardian explains

(Wikipedia)
In regard to your father’s spiritual testament, which betrays on the part of the author an inadequate knowledge of the Bahá’í Faith, the Guardian feels that you should make it clear to all the inquirers that the late Dr. Forel, as many other persons who have embraced the Cause, did not have a complete understanding of the fundamentals of the Bahá’í religion. He was particularly interested in the social aspect of the Movement and owing to some psychological reasons he did not lay much emphasis on its doctrinal side. This can be explained by the fact that our lamented doctor being advanced in age at the time of his acquaintance with the Bahá’í teachings was not able to devote all his time to a deep study of the tenets of the Faith.

Shoghi Effendi, however, in his letter addressed personally to your father explained to him that the Bahá’ís should firmly believe in the existence of God and in the immortality of the soul and in many other fundamental teachings which the Bahá’ís share with the adherents of many other religions. Our lamented doctor may have most probably considered it unwise to declare openly that he had rejected all his previous conceptions in regard to the existence of God and such similar ideas and preferred to express in an indirect way the many changes which the knowledge of the Faith had brought in his mind by declaring that he had become a Bahá’í.

November 18, 2019

1844-1944: The “gigantic” and “catastrophic” consequences experienced by various dynasties for rejecting the Divine Summons

What, then—might we not consider—has, in the face of so complete and ignominious a rejection, happened, and is still happening, in the course, and particularly in the closing years, of this, the first Bahá’í century, a century fraught with such tumultuous sufferings and violent outrages for the persecuted Faith of Bahá’u’lláh? Empires fallen in dust, kingdoms subverted, dynasties extinguished, royalty besmirched, kings assassinated, poisoned, driven into exile, subjugated in their own realms, whilst the few remaining thrones are trembling with the repercussions of the fall of their fellows.

This process, so gigantic, so catastrophic, may be said to have had its inception on that memorable night when, in an obscure corner of Shíráz, the Báb, in the presence of the First Letter to believe in Him, revealed the first chapter of His celebrated commentary on the Súrih of Joseph (The Qayyúm-i-Asmá), in which He trumpeted His Call to the sovereigns and princes of the earth. It passed from incubation to visible manifestation when Bahá’u’lláh’s prophecies, enshrined for all time in the Súriy-i-Haykal, and uttered before Napoleon III’s dramatic downfall and the self-imposed imprisonment of Pope Pius IX in the Vatican, were fulfilled. It gathered momentum when, in the days of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, the Great War extinguished the Romanov, the Hohenzollern, and Hapsburg dynasties, and converted powerful time-honored monarchies into republics. It was further accelerated, soon after ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s passing, by the demise of the effete Qájár dynasty in Persia, and the stupendous collapse of both the Sultanate and the Caliphate. It is still operating, under our very eyes, as we behold the fate which, in the course of this colossal and ravaging struggle, is successively overtaking the crowned heads of the European continent. Surely, no man, contemplating dispassionately the manifestations of this relentless revolutionizing process, within comparatively so short a time, can escape the conclusion that the last hundred years may well be regarded, in so far as the fortunes of royalty are concerned, as one of the most cataclysmic periods in the annals of mankind. 
- Shoghi Effendi  (‘The Promised Day Is Come’)

November 10, 2019

The reaction of the monarchs who received direct Tablets from Baha’u’llah

Dear friends! Enough has been said to portray the tribulations which, for so long a time, overwhelmed the Founders of so preeminent a Revelation, and which the world has so disastrously ignored. Sufficient attention has also been directed to the Messages addressed to those sovereign rulers who, either in the exercise of their unconditioned authority, have deliberately provoked these sufferings, or could have, in the plenitude of their power, arisen to mitigate their effect or deflect their tragic course. Let us now consider the consequences that have ensued. The reaction of these monarchs was, as already stated, varied and unmistakable and, as the march of events has gradually unfolded, disastrous in its consequences. One of the most outstanding amongst these sovereigns treated the Divine Summons with gross disrespect, dismissing it with a curt and insolent reply, written by one of his ministers. Another laid violent hold on the bearer of the Message, tortured, branded, and brutally slew him. Others preferred to maintain a contemptuous silence. All failed completely in their duty to arise and extend their assistance. Two of them, in particular, prompted by the dual impulse of fear and anger, tightened their grip on the Cause they had jointly resolved to uproot. The one condemned his Divine Prisoner to yet another banishment, to “the most unsightly of cities in appearance, the most detestable in climate, and the foulest in water,” whilst the other, powerless to lay hands on the Prime Mover of a hated Faith, subjected its adherents under his sway to abject and savage cruelties. The recital of Bahá’u’lláh’s sufferings, embodied in those Messages, failed to evoke compassion in their hearts. His appeals, the like of which neither the annals of Christianity nor even those of Islám have recorded, were disdainfully rejected. The dark warnings He uttered were haughtily scorned. The bold challenges He issued were ignored. The chastisements He predicted they derisively brushed aside. 
- Shoghi Effendi  (‘The Promised Day Is Come’)

August 12, 2019

While in Iraq, Baha’u’llah arranged to have the Writings of the Báb collected – to be distributed among the believers in Persia

We especially appointed certain ones to collect the writings of the Primal Point. When this was accomplished, We summoned Mírzá Yahyá and Mírzá Vahháb-i-Khurásání, known as Mírzá Javád, to meet in a certain place. Conforming with Our instructions, they completed the task of transcribing two copies of the works of the Primal Point. I swear by God! This Wronged One, by reason of His constant association with men, hath not looked at these books, nor gazed with outward eyes on these writings. When We departed, these writings were in the possession of these two persons. It was agreed that Mírzá Yahyá should be entrusted with them, and proceed to Persia, and disseminate them throughout that land. This Wronged One proceeded, at the request of the Ministers of the Ottoman Government to their capital. When We arrived in Mosul, We found that Mírzá Yahyá had left before Us for that city, and was awaiting Us there. Briefly, the books and writings were left in Baghdád, while he himself proceeded to Constantinople and joined these servants. God beareth now witness unto the things which have touched this Wronged One, for after We had so arduously striven, he (Mírzá Yahyá) abandoned the writings and joined the exiles. This Wronged One was, for a long period, overwhelmed by infinite sorrows until such time when, in pursuance of measures of which none but the one true God is aware, We despatched the writings unto another place and another country, owing to the fact that in ‘Iráq all documents must every month be carefully examined, lest they rot and perish. God, however, preserved them and sent them unto a place which He had previously ordained. He, verily, is the Protector, the Succorer. 
- Baha’u’llah  (‘Epistle to the Son of the Wolf’)