November 26, 2011

November 26, 1901: The first commemoration of a Baha’i Holy Day in North America

On 26 November 1901 the House and the Women's Assembly of Teaching [of Chicago] sponsored a celebration of 'the Master's Day'. Today this is known as the Day of the Covenant. It was the first definite commemoration in the United States of a Baha’i Holy Day. 'Abdu'l-Baha had asked the Baha'is to hold a commemoration of the Baha'i covenant rather than a celebration of His birthday because He had been born on the same day that the Báb had declared His mission and that day should be devoted to the Báb's anniversary. On 26 November the Chicago House of Justice sent telegrams of greeting to other Baha'i communities but since it had not informed them of the Holy Day ahead of time, no observances are known to have occurred elsewhere. Chicago's festivities represented a harmonious blend of Baha'i and Protestant practices. In the Minutes of the Chicago House of Justice, dated 1 December 1901 we read:

November 23, 2011

First National Convention of Alaska

Delegates and guests at the first National Convention of Alaska in 1957 with the Hand ofthe Cause Paul Haney (back row center) (Baha'i News October 1981)

November 22, 2011

November 1849: The Báb sends His representative to make a pilgrimage on His behalf to the graves of Quddus and Mulla Husayn

"The Báb was heart-broken," His amanuensis, Siyyid Husayn-i-'Aziz, subsequently related, "at the receipt of this unexpected intelligence.[the news of the tragic fate which had befallen the heroes of Tabarsi] He was crushed with grief, a grief that stilled His voice and silenced His pen. For nine days He refused to meet any of His friends. I myself, though His close and constant attendant, was refused admittance. Whatever meat or drink we offered Him, He was disinclined to touch. Tears rained continually from His eyes, and expressions of anguish dropped unceasingly from His lips. I could hear Him, from behind the curtain, give vent to His feelings of sadness as He communed, in the privacy of His cell, with His Beloved. I attempted to jot down the effusions of His sorrow as they poured forth from His wounded heart. Suspecting that I was attempting to preserve the lamentations He uttered, He bade me destroy whatever I had recorded. Nothing remains of the moans and cries with which that heavy-laden heart sought to relieve itself of the pangs that had seized it. For a period of five months He languished, immersed in an ocean of despondency and sorrow."

November 21, 2011

Bermuda's first National Convention, April 1981

Amatu'l-Baha Ruhiyyih Khanum and honored guests at Bermuda's first National Convention, April 1981 (Baha'i News, July 1981)

November 19, 2011

The cornerstone of the Mashriqu’l-Adhkar (House of Worship) of Ishqabad was laid on 26 November, 1902

Laying the foundation stone of the Mashriqu'l-Adhkar of Ishqabad. General Krupatkin is at the center front.
November 1902

“O people of the world! Build ye houses of worship throughout the lands in the name of Him Who is the Lord of all religions. Make them as perfect as is possible in the world of being, and adorn them with that which befitteth them, not with images and effigies. Then, with radiance and joy, celebrate therein the praise of your Lord, the Most Compassionate. Verily, by His remembrance the eye is cheered and the heart is filled with light.” (Baha’u’llah, the Kitab-i-Aqdas)

During the lifetime of Baha'u'llah, obeying this command was impossible because the Middle Eastern Baha'is were persecuted. In order to escape oppression, many Persian Baha'is fled north, to the lands that formed part of the Russian Empire. Situated twenty-five miles from the border of Iran was the town of 'Ishqabad, in the modern Turkmenistan. By the turn of the century a large and prosperous Baha'i community had developed there, protected by the tsarist government from persecution. In the autumn of 1902 the 'Ishqabad Baha'is set out to build the first House of Worship in the Baha'i world.

November 17, 2011

November 13, 1898: ‘Abdu’l-Baha ends the period of mourning for Baha’u’llah by opening His tomb to pilgrims for the first time

This event which took place on 13 November 1898 was in commemoration of the arrival of Ibrahim Kheiralla(Khayru’llah) to Akka on 11 November 1898 – “the same year that this precious Trust [the precious remains of the Báb] reached the shores of the Holy Land and was delivered into the hands of 'Abdu'l-Bahá. He, accompanied by Dr. Ibrahim Khayru'llah, whom He had already honored with the titles of "Baha's Peter," "The Second Columbus" and "Conqueror of America," drove to the recently purchased site which had been blessed and selected by Bahá'u'lláh on Mt. Carmel, and there laid, with His own hands, the foundation-stone of the edifice, the construction of which He, a few months later, was to commence. About that same time, the marble sarcophagus, designed to receive the body of the Báb, an offering of love from the Bahá'ís of Rangoon, had, at 'Abdu'l-Bahá's suggestion, been completed and shipped to Haifa.” (God Passes By, p. 274)

Kheiralla (who later became a Covenant-breaker) and his wife Marion were among of the first group of American pilgrims who left New York on 22 September 1898. Phoebe Hearst, Robert Turner, and Lua and Edward Getsinger were also in that historic group. In Paris they were joined by May Bolles and Hearst’s two relatives.

From Paris Kheiralla went to Egypt in early October, where he had children to visit. His wife went to England to invite her aunt to accompany them to Akka. After twenty-one days in Egypt Ibrahim Keiralla proceeded to Akka and was first to arrive on 11 November 1898. Anxious to reach Akka, Edward and Lua Getsinger left Paris for Cairo in November. About mid-December Phoebe Hearst also arrived in Cairo. Accompanying her were her butler, Robert Turner; her maid, Amalie M. Bachrodt; her little niece, Agnes Lane; her niece's governess, Julia Pearson; another niece, Anne Apperson; and an old friend, Mrs. Thornburgh. All nine Westerners could not visit ‘Abdu’l-Baha simultaneously, for they would stir up too much suspicion. While Hearst and her relatives and employees remained in Egypt, the Gestingers proceeded to Akka. They arrived on 10 December 1898 and were the first North American Baha’is to visit ‘Abdu’l-Baha. 
(Adapted from ‘The Baha’i Faith in America’, vol. 1, by Robert Stockman)

November 14, 2011

The first North American pilgrims

The first North American Baha’is to visit ‘Abdu’l-Baha in Akka were Lua and Edward Getsinger. They arrived on 10 December 1898. 
(The Baha’i Faith in America, vol. 1, Robert Stockman)

November 4, 2011

Number of LSA’s and Groups in USA and Canada in 1925

By the end of 1925 there were 63 Local Spiritual Assemblies and Groups in the United States and Canada. 
(Baha’i News December 1925-January 1926)