December 31, 2012

Birthplace of the New Revelation

Persia, the birthplace of the Bahá’í Revelation, has occupied a unique place in the history of the world. In the days of her early greatness she was a veritable queen among nations, unrivaled in civilization, in power and in splendor. She gave to the world great kings and statesmen, prophets and poets, philosophers and artists. Zoroaster, Cyrus and Darius, Háfiz and Firdawsí, Sa’dí and ‘Umar Khayyam are but a few of her many famous sons. Her craftsmen were unsurpassed in skill; her carpets were matchless, her steel blades unequaled, her pottery world famous. In all parts of the Near and Middle East she has left traces of her former greatness.

December 27, 2012

1938: Martha Root tours India and Burma

The Baha'i Youth Committee of Bombay, India, taken with Martha Root on the occasion of her tour of India and Burma during 1938. (The Baha'i World 1938-1940)

December 14, 2012

After the "Association of Baha'is" was officially registered in Mongolia in 1993 the way was opened for election of Mongolia's first National Spiritual Assembly in the spring of 1994

In Mongolia, the "Association of Baha'is" was officially registered as a "public organization" in June 1993, effecting formal registration at the highest level provided under Mongol Law. As a result, the Mongolian Baha'i community gained the right to own property and to issue invitations to foreign visitors, and the way was opened for election of Mongolia's first National Spiritual Assembly in the spring of 1994. (The Baha’i World 1993-1994)

December 3, 2012

The dire afflictions that the Babis endured at Fort Tabarsi – depicted by ‘Abdu’l-Baha

Think, for example, how the enemy had completely hemmed in the Fort, and were endlessly pouring in cannon balls from their siege guns. The believers, among them Ismu’lláh, [Hand of the Cause Ismu’lláhu’l-Asdaq] went eighteen days without food. They lived on the leather of their shoes. This too was soon consumed, and they had nothing left but water. They drank a mouthful every morning, and lay famished and exhausted in their Fort. When attacked, however, they would instantly spring to their feet, and manifest in the face of the enemy a magnificent courage and astonishing resistance, and drive the army back from their walls. The hunger lasted eighteen days. It was a terrible ordeal. To begin with, they were far from home, surrounded and cut off by the foe; again, they were starving; and then there were the army’s sudden onslaughts and the bombshells raining down and bursting in the heart of the Fort. Under such circumstances to maintain an unwavering faith and patience is extremely difficult, and to endure such dire afflictions a rare phenomenon. (‘Abdu’l-Baha, ‘Memorials of the Faithful’)

November 12, 2012

November 1933: LSA of Teaneck, New Jersey is incorporated

Certificate of Incorporation, the Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of Teaneck, New Jersey, USA (The Baha'i World 1932-1934)

October 17, 2012

The Masjid in Amul, Mazindaran, Persia, where Baha'u'llah was confined and bastinadoed

The Masjid in Amul, Mazindaran, Persia, where Baha'u'llah was confined and bastinadoed. (The Baha'i World 1932-1934)

October 10, 2012

April 27, 1910: Baha'is invoking the Greatest Name at Chicago Temple grounds

Baha'is assembled at the geometrical center of the Temple grounds near Chicago, and invoking the Greatest Name as their faces are turned towards Akka, April 27, 1910. (The Baha'i World 1932-1934)

October 1, 2012

First National Spiritual Assembly of Congo and Gabon

Hand of the Cause Dr. Ali-Muhammad Varqa (front row, second right) and members of the first National Spiritual Assembly of Congo and Gabon, 1971. (Baha'i World News Service)

September 25, 2012

1936: First Baha'i Summer School in the Southern Hemisphere,

Friends present at the laying of the cornerstone of the first Baha'i Summer School in the Southern Hemisphere, at Yerrinbool, New South Wales, Australia, on October 11, 1936. (The Baha'i World 1936-1938)

September 10, 2012

The fate of the first person who arose to ill-treat the Báb

Husayn Khán, the governor of Shíráz, stigmatized as a “wine-bibber” and a “tyrant,” the first who arose to ill-treat the Báb, who publicly rebuked Him and bade his attendant strike Him violently in the face, was compelled not only to endure the dreadful calamity that so suddenly befell him, his family, his city and his province, but afterwards to witness the undoing of all his labors, and to lead in obscurity the remaining days of his life, till he tottered to his grave abandoned alike by his friends and his enemies. (Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By)

September 1, 2012

1936: First Baha'i Youth Group of Lyons, France

First Baha'i Youth Group of Lyons, France, photographed in the garden of Mr. Yazdi, Lyons, France, June 14, 1936 (The Baha'i World 1936-1938)

August 25, 2012

The Báb explains to Muhammad Shah some of the indignities that He experienced during the first four years of His Ministry before being sent to the Fortress of MáKu

I swear by God! Shouldst thou know the things which in the space of these four years have befallen Me at the hands of thy people and thine army, thou wouldst hold thy breath from fear of God, unless thou wouldst rise to obey the Cause of Him Who is the Testimony of God and make amends for thy shortcomings and failure.

While I was in Shíráz the indignities which befell Me at the hands of its wicked and depraved Governor waxed so grievous that if thou wert acquainted with but a tithe thereof, thou wouldst deal him retributive justice. For as a result of his unmitigated oppression, thy royal court hath become, until the Day of Resurrection, the object of the wrath of God. Moreover, his indulgence in alcohol had grown so excessive that he was never sober enough to make a sound judgement. Therefore, disquieted, I was obliged to set out from Shíráz with the aim of attaining the enlightened and exalted court of Your Majesty. The Mu’tamídu’d-Dawlih [the Governor of Isfahan who became an admirer of the Báb] then became aware of the truth of the Cause and manifested exemplary servitude and devotion to His chosen ones. When some of the ignorant people in his city arose to stir up sedition, he defended the divine Truth by affording Me protection for a while in the privacy of the Governor’s residence. At length, having attained the good-pleasure of God, he repaired to his habitation in the all-highest Paradise. May God reward him graciously...

Following his ascension to the eternal Kingdom, the vicious Gurgín, resorting to all manner of treachery, false oaths and coercion, sent Me away from isfáhán with an escort of five guards on a journey which lasted seven days, without providing the barest necessities for My travel (Alas! Alas! for the things which have touched Me!), until eventually Your Majesty’s order came, instructing Me to proceed to Mákú... (The Báb, extracts from an Epistle to Muhammad Shah, ‘Selections from the Writings of the Báb)

August 20, 2012

1937: First Baha'i Youth Group in America to be recognized as an official University activity

Baha'i Youth of the University of Illinois, 1937: The first Baha'i Youth Group in America to be recognized as an official University activity. (The Baha'i World 1936-1938)

August 12, 2012

17 July 1982: The first gathering held in the Permanent Seat of the Universal House of Justice on Mount Carmel

The first gathering ever held in the Permanent Seat of the Universal House of Justice on Mount Carmel was a seminar on the life of the Greatest Holy Leaf, held on 17 July 1982. Though not entirely ready for occupancy, the Seat was the venue for a memorable programme which, together with the midnight commemoration at the tomb, constituted the World Centre's observance of the fiftieth anniversary of the passing of Bahiyyih Khinum. (The Baha’i World 1979-1983)

August 8, 2012

September 1916: Four of the Fourteen Tablets of the Divine Plan were first published in the Star of the West magazine

Fourteen Tablets revealed by 'Abdu'l-Baha during the First World War, addressed to the Baha'is in North America and received by them in 1919, which Shoghi Effendi has called the 'mandate' and 'the supreme charter for teaching'. They are addressed either to the Baha'is of the United States and Canada as one body or to one of five regional areas of North America.

The 'mandate' was to carry the 'fame of the Cause of God' to the East and to the West and to spread the Glad Tidings of the coming of Baha'u'llah throughout the five continents of the world. In all, 'Abdu'l-Baha mentioned some 120 territories and islands to which the message of Baha'u'llah was to be carried.

The first eight Tablets were revealed between 26 March and 22 April 1916, and the final six between 2 February and 8 March 1917. Of the first group, five Tablets reached America and were published in the 8 September 1916 issue of Star of the West. After that, communication with the Holy Land was cut off and the rest of the Tablets remained in the vault under the Shrine of the Báb until the end of the war. They were dispatched to America and unveiled in a ceremony during the 'Convention of the Covenant' held at the Hotel McAlpin in New York in April 1919.

An immediate response to the Tablets was made by Martha Root who began her world travels, and by Mr. and Mrs. Hyde Dunn, who arose to move to Australia. However, it was not until 1837 when Shoghi Effendi gave the American believers the First Seven Year Plan that the Divine Plan began to be generally implemented. (Wendi Momen, A Basic Baha’i Dictionary)

August 3, 2012

Spring of 1938: First group of Baha'i pilgrims travel by air to Iran

The first group of pilgrims traveling by air to Iran via Baghdad in the spring of 1938. Taken at the Haifa Aerodrome with members of the Baha'i community. The trip from Tihran to 'Akka which took four months in the days of Baha'u'llah is now accomplished in seven hours' flying time. (The Baha'i World 1936-1938)

July 17, 2012

April 1969: The Universal House of Justice announces the formation of twelve more National Spiritual Assemblies

As a result of the accelerated pace of expansion and consolidation which has been initiated, and which, if fostered and fed, will become a full tide of victorious achievement, we joyfully announce the formation of twelve more National Spiritual Assemblies, two during Ridvan 1969: the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of Burundi and Rwanda with its seat in Bujumbura and the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of Papua and New Guinea with its seat in Lae, and ten during Ridvan 1970: six in Africa, the National Spiritual Assemblies of the Bahá'ís of the Congo Republic (Kinshasa); Ghana; Dahomey, Togo and Niger; Malawi; Botswana; and Gambia, Senegal, Portuguese Guinea and the Cape Verde Islands; one in the Americas, the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the Guianas; one in Asia, the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the Near East; and two in Australasia, the National Spiritual Assemblies of the Bahá'ís of Tonga and the Cook Islands; and Samoa. Thus at Ridvan 1970 the number of National Spiritual Assemblies will be raised to ninety-three. (From Ridvan 1969 message of the Universal House of Justice) (To read the entire message please visit Messages to the Baha’i World Community – by the Universal House of Justice)

July 14, 2012

1968-1969: A special edition of the book ‘The Proclamation of Bahá'u'lláh’ was presented to Heads of States

The Bahá'í World Centre published Bahá'u'lláh's messages to the kings, rulers, religious leaders, and peoples of the world under the title ‘The Proclamation of Bahá'u'lláh’; a special edition was presented to heads of state. In their Ridvan 1969 message the Universal House of Justice indicated that “Already one hundred and twenty-two Heads of State have been presented with the special edition of The Proclamation of Bahá'u'lláh, and copies have been received by thousands more officials and leaders.” 
(From Ridvan 1969 message of the Universal House of Justice) 
(To read the entire message please visit Messages to the Baha’i World Community – by the Universal House of Justice)

July 10, 2012

September 1988: Maxwell Baha’i School, the first full-time academic Baha’i school in North America, began classes for grades 7-9

Well over a year of hard work and careful preparation was culminated September 19 when the Maxwell Baha’i School in Shawnigan Lake, British Columbia, Canada, the first full-time academic Baha’i school in North America, began classes for grades 7-9. The following report from the school recounts some of the history of its development and discusses its plans for the future.

Maxwell’s first-ever group of students represents a variety of nations and cultural backgrounds -- Japan, Samoa, Papua New Guinea, Tanzania, South Africa, New Zealand, Canada, United States, Native American, Persian, and black American -- expressing one of the fondest hopes for Maxwell. As one looked around the dining hall at students and staff gathered for their first meals as the “Maxwell School family,” one truly had an opportunity to “consider the flowers of the garden: though differing in kind, color, form, and shape, yet ... invigorated by the rays of one sun, this diversity increased their charm, and addeth to their beauty.” (‘Abdu’l-Baha)

As the school develops, it is hoped that students from all nations will attend. Dr. Ray Johnson, the principal, has invited local and national Baha’i communities to consider funding scholarship programs to enable an ever-increasing number and diversity of students to attend Maxwell. “We remember the Master’s statement,” says Dr. Johnson, “that one of the purposes of education is ‘to bring those who have been excluded into the circle of intimate friends,’ and we deeply hope that Maxwell may be such a place.”

July 2, 2012

1981: Inaugural meeting of the Continental Board of Counsellors in Asia

Inaugural meeting of the Continental Board of Counsellors in Asia (1981) with the Hand of the Cause Paul Haney. Seated, left to right: Khudarahm Payman, Yan Kee Leong, Shirin Boman, Paul E. Haney, Zena Sorabjee, Dipchand Khianra, Ruhu'llah Mumtazi. Standing, left to right: John Fozdar, Burhani'd-Din Afshin, Manuchihr Salmanpur, S.Nagaratnam, Zabihu'llah Gulmuhamadi, Chellie J.undram, Vicente Samaniego, Hideya Suzuki left the meeting before the photograph was taken. Aydin Guney and Masih Farhangi were unable to attend. Dr. Farhangi, imprisoned at that time in Iran, was executed in June 1981. 
(The Baha'i World 1979-1983)

June 28, 2012

1938: First Baha'i Community and Spiritual Assembly in Latin America

First Baha'i Community in Latin America, 1938. Mexico City has the First Spiritual Assembly to be formed in that part of the world and possesses a newly opened Baha'i Center and a reading room. (The Baha'i World 1938-1940)

June 15, 2012

First Baha'i Spiritual Assembly having representatives of the black, yellow and white races in its membership

The Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of San Francisco, California, 1935. (First Baha'i Spiritual Assembly having representatives of the black, yellow and white races in its membership) (The Baha'i World 1934-1936)

June 13, 2012

April 1990: The Spiritual Assembly of Ishqabad is reformed after 50 years

Pictured are members of the Spiritual Assembly of Ishqabad, Turkmen S.S.R., which has reformed after 50 years. Seated (left to right) Mihrangiz Muhandis Ali-Aqa, A'zamiyyih Nizami, Malikih Naji; standing (left to right) Suhayl Qadimi, Muzaffar Qadimi,Fu'ad Qadim, Mirza 'Ali-Akbar Naji, Hasan Pishraw, Muhandis 'Ali-Aqa. (Baha'i News April 1990)

June 10, 2012

March 1910: The first Bahá’i magazine is published in English

In March, 1910, the first Bahá’i magazine was published in English. This was a small 20-page booklet bearing the name Baha’i News. It was edited by Albert R. Windust and Gertrude Buikema. The editorial page read, in part: “The need for a Baha’i News Service is apparent throughout the Occident. To meet this need this humble publication has stepped forth from nonexistence into the court of existence . . .“ This magazine was published nineteen times a year. During the course of the first year a Persian section was added, in order to make more useful the circulation of the magazine among believers.

The magazine prospered, for the second year it increased in size and was named Star of the West. During this year, the contents included not only news of Baha’i activities, photographs, the Persian section, and translations of Tablets from ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, but also occasional articles on various aspects of the teachings appeared. Volume three is of special historical interest because it chronicles so much of the talks and incidents of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s visit to America. Slowly the Star of the West changed from a magazine designed primarily for Bahá’is to a magazine for the general public as well.

When the National Spiritual Assembly began to publish Baha’i News Letters for all the believers in December, 1924, it was no longer necessary to publish news in the magazine. The name was changed to Baha’i Magazine, with Star of the West as a sub-title. After a few years, however, the sub-title was dropped entirely.

In 1935 the Baha’i Magazine was combined with World Unity magazine to make the present World Order magazine. And in this we find discussions of the relation of the Baha’i Faith to all aspects of modern life and world problems. 
(The Baha’i World 1938-1940)

June 3, 2012

Baha’u’llah visited Haifa four times

The Guardian of the Bahá'í Faith states that Bahá'u'lláh visited Haifa four times. The first visit was of short duration, when He disembarked in 1868 from the Lloyd-Triestino steamer. The second visit was for just a few days, and He stayed in Bayt-i-Fanduq, a house in the German colony, part of which still stands today. There is a dated Tablet, in the handwriting of Mirza Aqa Jan, which indicates that Bahá'u'lláh was in Haifa in August 1883, probably the date of this second visit. The third visit was in 1890, and when Edward Granville Browne reached 'Akká, Bahá'u'lláh was in Haifa. In the course of this visit, He stayed, at first, near Bayt-i-Zahlan, near the town, and then He moved to a house in the German colony which was known as the Oliphant house. His tent was pitched on a piece of land opposite that house. His fourth and last visit was in the year 1891. This sojourn was the longest, and it was here in Haifa that members of the Afnan family met him when they came in July, as described in a later chapter. Bahá'u'lláh was then in Haifa for three months, staying in the house of Ilyas Abyad near the German colony, and His tent stood nearby. 
(Balyuzi, ‘Baha'u'llah - The King of Glory’, pp. 373-374)

May 31, 2012

First time three Mapuche Indians elected to Chile National Spiritual Assembly

The National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of Chile elected in April 1989. For the first time in its 29-year history it includes three Mapuche Indians. From left to right are Antonio Lizama, Felipe Jara (vice-chairman), Elena Velasquez de Reid (chairman), Robert Siegel (corresponding secretary), Doris Millalen, Nelson Sanchez, Fazael Youseffi (treasurer), Paula Seigel, and Roberto Jara (recording secretary) (Baha'i News, August 1989)

May 27, 2012

Radio Baha'i Chile was officially opened on December 20, 1986

This photograph of the main building of Radio Baha’i Chile in Labranzo, Commune of Temuco, was taken in February, 1988, shortly after the celebration of the station's first anniversary. Radio Baha’i operating on 1160 kHz and serving principally the indigenous, population of Mapuche Indian community was officially opened on December 20, 1986.

During February 1988, the group of young Baha’is shown here, from the communities of Las Condes and Temuco, Santiago, volunteered between one and two weeks each to Radio Baha’i Chile. Their project helped fulfill a youth ‘week of service, campaign launched by the National spiritual Assembly as a part of its goals for the Six year Plan directed specifically toward youth.(Baha’i News, October 1988).

May 25, 2012

1977: First Spiritual Assembly of the Maksi District, Shajapur (Madhya Pradesh), India

The members of the first Spiritual Assembly of the Maksi District, Shajapur (Madhya Pradesh), India, formed in February 1977 (Baha'i News, February 1987)

May 23, 2012

The International Teaching Center appointed by the Universal House of Justice in May 1988

Pictured with members of the recently appointed International Teaching Centre are the Hands of the Cause of God Amatu'l-Baha Ruhiyyih Khanum and Ali Akbar Furutan (front row, third and fourth from right). In the back row (left to right) are Hartmut Grossmann, Masud Khamsi, Magdalene Carney, Donald Rogers and Farzam Arbab. Others in the front row are (left to right) Joy Stevenson, Lauretta King, Peter Vuyiya and Isabel Sabri. (Baha'i News, September 1988)

May 21, 2012

The first Baha'i secondary school in Africa -- Ruaha Technical Secondary School in Tanzania:

The first Baha'i secondary school in Africa is a dynamic place to visit and to pioneer. The Ruaha Technical Secondary School, which is nestled on some 50 acres along the Ruaha River and several kilometers outside the town of Iringa, Tanzania, at an elevation of about 5,000 feet, was begun a mere three years ago with the laying of the foundation stone on October 29, 1985.

Only 55 days later, when the first classroom building was completed and the school administrators asked permission to open, the government Ministry of Education was astonished, and sent several officers to check the buildings. They were quickly reassured, and classes began on March 27, 1986, with students in Form I, the first year of high school. In its third year of operation, the school had Forms I, II and III with about 300 students. Plans were formulated to continue adding students until Forms I-VI are included; the latter two Forms are above the usual four of high school and will teach the technical subjects -- air conditioning and refrigeration, auto mechanics and electric power production are some of the possibilities.

The school is on property donated by the Town Council of Iringa. All buildings are constructed of brick which is fired right on the property; they include classrooms, a science lab, offices, a canteen and shop for everyday items, a staff room, and teachers' housing. The school is owned by the National Spiritual Assembly of Tanzania and approved by the country's Ministry of Education. (Adapted from the Baha’i News, August 1988)

May 19, 2012

April 29 – May 2, 1988: Six hundred sixty-three delegates participated at the 6th International Baha’i Convention in Haifa, Israel

The Convention was officially opened Friday morning, April 29, with prayers in four languages. Six hundred sixty-three delegates representing 132 of the 148 National Spiritual Assemblies were present in Haifa Auditorium to take part in the election of the Universal House of Justice. In addition, mail ballots were cast by delegates from the 16 countries who were unable to attend. The spectacular array of humanity, many wearing national costumes, colored the atmosphere of solemnity as each delegate stepped forward to cast a ballot.

Also present for the opening session were five of the Hands of the Cause of God, lending a special dignity and the spiritual force of their high office: Amatu’l-Baha Ruhiyyih Khanum, ‘Ali Akbar Furutan, Dr. ‘Ali Muhammad Varqa, William Sears and Collis Featherstone.

A highlight of the balloting was the presence of two delegates from Cuba, which had never before been represented at an International Convention. They were warmly applauded as they crossed the stage to cast their ballots. The results of the voting were announced at noon on Saturday, June 30, by the chief teller, Dr. Firuz Kazemzadeh, vice-chairman of the U.S. National Spiritual Assembly. Of the 1,296 ballots cast, only one was invalid. The members were elected by a total of 7,880 of the 11,655 individual votes cast.

The members of the House of Justice were:

‘Ali Nakhjavani, Glenford Mitchell, Hushmand Fatheazam, Ian Semple, Peter Khan, David Ruhe, Hugh Chance, Hooper Dunbar and Adib Taherzadeh.
(Adapted from Baha’i News, July 1988)

May 17, 2012

November 1985: First Baha'i pre-school and social and economic development project in Belize -- the ‘Garden of the Covenant’ Baha'i Pre-School in Dangriga

After five years of hopes and dreams the first Baha'i pre-school and social and economic development project in Belize became a reality in November of 1985 with the opening of the Garden of the Covenant Baha'i Pre-School in Dangriga.

The Spiritual Assembly of Dangriga had begun thinking about such a school in 1980. The first step was to improve the facilities of the Regional Baha'i Centre in Dangriga to house the school ... When the National Spiritual Assembly of Belize received news that two new pioneers, Mitch and Rita Wagener would be coming to the country in June 1985, and word was passed to the Spiritual Assembly of Dangriga that Rita, a Ugandan, was a trained pre-school teacher, minds began to click and it appeared that the "seed" might soon bear fruit... It was decided that the school would provide "Montessori-type" education and give individualized attention to the children, enrollment would be kept small-never more than I5 students morning and 15 afternoon. 
(Baha’i News, July 1986)

May 13, 2012

1920: The first woman speaker at India’s first Baha’i National Convention

Elizabeth Stewart was the only woman speaker at the first Baha'i Convention in India, in 1920. She was also the only Person at that time who spoke on the equality of men and women. Prior to going to India Elizabeth worked as nurse in Tihran, Persian, for many years, along with Dr. Susan Moody. 
(Adapted from Star of the West, vol. 17, no. 8, November 1926) 
(For a brief account of her life please visit We are Baha’is)

May 10, 2012

Growth of the Baha'i World Community as of January 1988

(Information provided by the Department of Statistics at the Baha’i World Centre)

Localities where Baha'is reside: World Total: (118,626) – Africa (36,621); Americas (26,880); Asia (48,839); Australasia (3,200); Europe (3,086

Isolated Centers: World Total: (33,751) – Africa (12,210); Americas (9,253); Asia (10,438); Australasia (810); Europe (1,040)

Groups with fewer than 9: World Total: (33,751) – Africa (12,210); Americas (9,253); Asia (10,438); Australasia (810); Europe (1,040)

Groups with 9 or more members: World Total: (24,760) – Africa (4,673); Americas (2,912); Asia (16,714); Australasia (432); Europe (28)

Indigenous tribes, races and ethnic groups: World Total: (2,112) – Africa (1,250); Americas (340); Asia (250); Australasia (250); Europe (22)

Languages into which Baha'i literature is translated: World Total: (782) – Africa (255); Americas (169); Asia (169); Australasia (111); Europe (78)

Countries where the Faith is established: Independent countries: World Total: (166) – Africa (51); Americas (35); Asia (37); Australasia (11); Europe (32)

Countries where the Faith is established: Dependent territories or overseas departments: World Total: (48) – Africa (6); Americas (16); Asia (3); Australasia (13); Europe (10)

May 9, 2012

First National Convention of the Baha'is of Iran, 1934

First National Convention of the Baha'is of Iran, 1934 (The Baha'i World 1934-1936)  

April 16, 2012

circa 1925: Baha'i Orphanage in Tokyo, Japan

Baha'i Orphanage in Tokyo, Japan, circa 1925 -- earthquake orphans (Star of the West, vol. 16, no. 2, May 1925)

April 13, 2012

Governments Receive Peace Statement

The Bahamas

His Excellency Sir Gerald Cash, the Governor General of the Bahamas (second from right), was presented a copy of the peace statement on October 24, 1985, by a delegation of three members of the Notional Spiritual Assembly of the Bahamas. (Baha'i News, February 1986)


Dr. Rudolf Kirchschlaeger, the President of Austria (second from right),receives the peace statement from a three-member delegation comprised of members of the National Spiritual Assembly of Austria. The presentation was made in October 1985. (Baha’i News, February 1986)


Members of the National Spiritual Assembly of Grenada present the Universal House of Justice's peace statement, 'The Promise of World Peace,' to Sir Paul Scoon (left), the Governor General of Grenada, during a ceremony in October 1985.(Baha’i News, February 1986)


Guatemala's head of state, Gen. Oscar Humberto Mejia V. (third from left),receives a five-member Baha'i delegation who presented him with a special copy of 'The Promise of World Peace.' in October 1985. (Baha’i News, February 1986)

April 10, 2012

April 7, 2012

April 5, 2012

April 1985: First National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of Ciskei

Members of the first National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of Ciskei, elected at Ridvan 1985. (Baha'i News, October 1985)

April 2, 2012

First National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of Mali, April 1985

The members of the first National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of Mali, elected at Ridvan 1985. (Baha'i News, September 1985)

April 1, 2012

Baha’u’llah describes (in a prayer) the extreme hardships of “that terrible journey” from Tihran to Baghdad in 1853 and the “woes and trials” He endured in the Siyah-Chal (just prior to the journey)

In a prayer revealed by Him at that time [during the journey], Bahá'u'lláh, expatiating upon the woes and trials He had endured in the Siyah-Chal, thus bears witness to the hardships undergone in the course of that "terrible journey": "My God, My Master, My Desire!... Thou hast created this atom of dust through the consummate power of Thy might, and nurtured Him with Thine hands which none can chain up.... Thou hast destined for Him trials and tribulations which no tongue can describe, nor any of Thy Tablets adequately recount. The throat Thou didst accustom to the touch of silk Thou hast, in the end, clasped with strong chains, and the body Thou didst ease with brocades and velvets Thou hast at last subjected to the abasement of a dungeon. Thy decree hath shackled Me with unnumbered fetters, and cast about My neck chains that none can sunder. A number of years have passed during which afflictions have, like showers of mercy, rained upon Me.... How many the nights during which the weight of chains and fetters allowed Me no rest, and how numerous the days during which peace and tranquillity were denied Me, by reason of that wherewith the hands and tongues of men have afflicted Me! Both bread and water which Thou hast, through Thy all-embracing mercy, allowed unto the beasts of the field, they have, for a time, forbidden unto this servant, and the things they refused to inflict upon such as have seceded from Thy Cause, the same have they suffered to be inflicted upon Me, until, finally, Thy decree was irrevocably fixed, and Thy behest summoned this servant to depart out of Persia, accompanied by a number of frail-bodied men and children of tender age, at this time when the cold is so intense that one cannot even speak, and ice and snow so abundant that it is impossible to move." (Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By, p. 108)

March 27, 2012

1981: Inaugural meeting of the Continental Board of Counsellors in the Americas

Inaugural meeting of the Continental Board of Counsellors in the Americas (1981) with the Hand of the Cause Amatu'l-Baha Ruhiyyih Khanum. Seated, left to right: Ruth Pingle, Velma Sherrill, Carmen de Burafato, Amatu'l-Baha Ruhiyyih Khanum, Lauretta King, Sarah Pereira. Standing, left to right,: Peter McLaren, Angus Cowan, Farzam Arbab, Artemus Lamb, Hidayatu'llah Ahmadiyyih, Raul Pavon, Lloyd Gardner, Masud Khamsi, Donald Witzel, Athos Costas, Fred Schechter. (The Baha'i World, 1979-1983)

March 24, 2012

‘Abdu’l-Baha explains the circumstances pertaining to His incarceration and final release

When the deposed Sultan of the Ottoman Empire, Abdu’l-Hamid, arose in tyranny and oppression, ‘Abdu'l-Baha was incarcerated in the prison of Acca and was surrounded with the utmost surveillance of police, detectives and men of the Secret Service. The door of communication was entirely closed and the means of correspondence was prevented. If any soul approached the house he was searched; nay, rather, threatened with dire persecution. The affairs reached to such a degree that, not being satisfied with these restrictions, the Sultan sent an oppressive investigating Commission, so that with all kinds of wiles, simulations, slander and fabrication of false stories they might fasten some guilt upon ‘Abdul-Baha in order that he might crucify Him, or cast Him into the sea, or banish Him into the heart of the distant and unknown Sahara of Feyzan (Africa) That oppressive investigating Commission exercised its rights with tyranny and passed the sentence that ‘Abdu'l-Baha merited all kinds of persecution. Finally they decided to send Him to Feyzan, and when they cabled this decision to the palace of Abdu’l-Hamid, an answer was received that the matter of Feyzan was approved by the Imperial Order. Then that unjust investigating Commission returned to Constantinople. They were in the midst of the sea when the cannon of God boomed forth before the palace of Abdu’l-Hamid, a charge of dynamite was exploded, a number of people were killed, Abdu’l-Hamid fled into the interior of his residence, difficulties and trials surrounded him, and incidents and events developed rapidly. Therefore he did not find the opportunity to oppress ‘Abdu’l-Baha; public revolution was started, which ended in his deposition, and the Hand of Divine Power released the neck of ‘Abdu’l-Baha from the chains of the prison of Joseph and the fetters and manacles were placed around the unblessed neck of ‘Abdu’l-Hamid. Be ye admonished, O ye people of insight! Now ‘Abdu’l-Baha, with the greatest power, has hastened to the country of Egypt from the land of prison. Praise be to God, that through the Bounty and Providence of the Blessed Perfection, no sooner did he land in Alexandria than the Word of God was promoted and the melody of the Kingdom of Abha was heard. All the newspapers wrote innumerable articles. Some gave the utmost praise; others raised a great cry, saying: "The arrival of this personage in this land will shake the pillars of Religion and will shatter to pieces ancient customs and conventions. He attracts everyone he meets and when he loosens his tongue in any meeting, it creates faith in the hearts of the deniers.'' The papers are still writing detailed articles and will continue to do so. (‘Abdu’l-Baha, from a Tablet addressed to the American believers in 1911, Star of the West, vol.2, no. 4, May 17, 1911)

March 20, 2012

First National Spiritual Assembly of the Andama and Nichobar Islands, April 28, 1984

The Hand of the Cause of God Amatu'l-Baha Ruhiyyih Khanum (fifth from left) is pictured with members of the first National Spiritual Assembly of the Andama and Nichobar Islands, April 28, 1984. (Baha'i News, January 1985)

March 18, 2012

April 11, 1912: 'Abdu’l-Baha’s Arrival in America

(By Wendell Phillips Dodge a reporter for the New York City News Association, who boarded the Cedric at quarantine and interviewed ‘Abdu’l-Baha coming up the bay. It was given to all of the New York newspapers, and, through the Associated Press, was sent, though boiled clown considerably, to newspapers throughout the world.)

‘Abdu’l-Baha, the eminent Persian philosopher and leader of the Baha’i movement for the unification of religions and the establishment of universal peace, arrived April 11th on the steamship Cedric from Alexandria, Egypt. It is his first visit to America, and except for a brief visit to Paris and London last summer and fall, it is the first time in forty years that he has gone beyond the fortification of the 'prison city" of Acre, Syria, to which place he and his father, Baha’u’llah, the founder of the Baha’i movement, were banished by the Turkish government a half century ago.

He comes on a mission of international peace, to attend and address the Peace Conference at Lake Mohonk the latter part of the month, and to address various peace meetings, educational societies, religious organizations etc.

While the ship news reporters boarded the Cedric down the bay, ‘Abdu'l-Baha was found on the upper deck, standing where he could see the pilot, his long, flowing oriental robe flapping in the breeze. He was clothed in a long, black robe open at the front and disclosing another robe of light tan. Upon his head was a pure white turban, such as eastern patriarchs wear.

His face was light itself as he scanned the harbor and greeted the reporters, who had been kept waiting at quarantine for three and a half hours before they could board the ship with the customs officers, owing to a case of smallpox and several cases of typhoid fever in the steerage, which had to be removed to Hoffman Island for isolation, and the ship then fumigated. He is a man of medium height, though at first sight he seemed to be much taller. He is strongly and solidly built, and weighs probably one hundred and sixty five pounds. As he paced the deck, talking with the reporters, he appeared alert and active in every movement, his head thrown back and splendidly poised upon his broad, square shoulders, most of the time. A profusion of iron grey hair bursting out at the sides of the turban and hanging long upon the neck; a large, massive head, full domed and remarkably wide across the forehead and temples, the forehead rising like a great palisade above the eyes, which were very wide apart, their orbits large and deep, looking out from under massive overhanging brows; strong Roman nose, generous ears, decisive yet kindly mouth and chin; a creamy white complexion, beard same color as his hair, worn full over the face and carefully trimmed at almost full length -- this completes an insufficient word picture of this "Wise Man Out of the East."

His first words were about the press, saying:

March 17, 2012

Members of the first National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of Gabon, April 1984

Members of the first National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of Gabon, elected at Ridvan 1984, are shown with Dr. Hushang Ahdieh, a member of the Continental Board of Counsellors for Africa (front row center) who represented the Universal House of Justice at Gabon's National Convention. (Baha'i News, November 1984)

March 12, 2012

Site of the Garden of Ilkhani, Tihran, Persia, where Tahirih suffered martyrdom

Site of the Garden of Ilkhani, Tihran, Persia, where Tahirih suffered martyrdom (The Baha'i World 1932-1934)

March 9, 2012

Canada’s First International Baha’i Youth Conference, London, Ontario, August 25-27, 1984

The Youth Movement and its impact on the Faith in North America was the centerpiece August 25-27 as nearly 2,000 young people from 52 countries gathered at Canada's first International Baha’i Youth Conference to rededicate themselves to securing a resounding victory in the final months of the Seven Year Plan.

The conference, whose theme was "If you only knew ...,” was blessed by the presence of the Hands of the Cause of God 'Ali-Akbar Furutan, John Robarts and 'Ali-Muhammad Varqa.

Registration figures showed that about 800 youth from the U.S. and another 800 from Canada were among the 1,972 participants who also included four youth who traveled all the way from the Philippines, 10 who came from Germany, and six youth from Japan who were members of that country's National Teaching Committee and National Youth Committee. 
(Baha’i News, October 1984)

February 26, 2012

First National Baha'i Convention of French Guiana was held in April 1984

Delegates and guests at the first National Baha'i Convention of French Guiana held April 28-29, 1984, in Montjoly. Hand of the Cause of God 'Ali Muhammad Varqa represented the Universal House of Justice. Dr. Varqa is seated at right in the third row; Eberhard Friedland, A Knight of Baha'u'llah who pioneered to French Guiana in 1953, is at left in the second row. 
(Baha'i News August 1984)

February 22, 2012

April 1984: Frst Baha'i National Convention of the Canary Islands

More than 70 delegates and guests were present April 28-29, 1984,  at the first Baha'i National Convention of the Canary Islands in Santa Cruz de Teneife. Hand of the Cause of God 'Ali Akbar Furutan represented the Universal House of Justice. Dr. Furutan is standing with arms folded in the center of the fifth row. (Baha'i News September 1984)

February 17, 2012

Australia's first National Haziratu'l-Quds

First National Haziratu'l-Quds in Australia: 2 Lang Road, Paddington, Sydney

February 16, 2012

First Government to recognize official status of the Faith

The Bill to incorporate the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of Canada was passed by both Houses of the Canadian Parliament, and given Royal assent on April 30, 1949.

On June 19, 1949, the Guardian’s secretary wrote on his behalf:

Your Assembly has much to be congratulated upon for your victories during the past Bahá'í Year have been memorable. The passing, in both Houses, of the Bill relating to the official status of your Assembly was a cause for great rejoicing, as this is the first time in Bahá'í history that any government has taken such action in relation to our Faith's status. He would like, if possible, to receive duplicates of the official Gazette and all publicity given this matter, as the copies you sent were placed in the Mansion at Bahji, but he wishes to have these documents at hand in his personal files as well. 
(Messages to Canada)

February 15, 2012

17 February 1932: Chicago Spiritual Assembly becomes the first local assembly to receive civil recognition

The processes of civil incorporation began with the adoption in 1927 of a Declaration of Trust and By-Laws for the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, which gained civil recognition as a voluntary trust two years later. On 17 February 1932 the first local Bahá'í Assembly, that of Chicago, adopted papers of incorporation which, together with those adopted by that of New York City on 31 March of that year, were to become a pattern for such instruments throughout the world. 
(Century of Light, a statement prepared at the Baha’i World center, commissioned by The Universal House of Justice)

February 11, 2012

The first gathering of Baha'is in Foundation Hall of the House of Worship in Wilmette, Illinois, July 9, 1922

The first gathering of Baha'is in Foundation Hall of the House of Worship in Wilmette, Illinois, July 9, 1922, in commemoration of the anniversary of the martydom of the Bab. Corinne True is in the front row (far right), next to Dr. Zia Baghdadi.

February 9, 2012

The speed in which the religion of the Báb spread in Persia …

Historian Gobineau, writing in the early 1860s and familiar with Persia after a five-year residence there, wrote:

And so, here is a religion presented and promoted by a mere youth. In a very few years, that is to say from 1847 to 1852, this religion had disseminated throughout almost the whole of Persia, and counted within its fold numerous zealous adherents. In five years, a nation of from ten to twelve million people, occupying a territory which in bygone days had supported a population of fifty millions, a nation which does not possess those means of communication considered by us as so indispensable to the spread of ideas, I mean, of course, journals and pamphlets, and which did not have a postal service, nor even a single road fit for carriages in the entire extent of its empire; this nation, I say, had in five years been, in its entirely, penetrated by the doctrine of the Bábís, and the impression produced had been such that these most serious events, which I have recounted above, resulted therefrom. Arid it is not at all the ignorant part of the population that has been touched; it is eminent members of the clergy, the rich and learned classes, the women from the most important families; and lastly, after the Muslims, it is the philosophers, the Sufis in great numbers, and many Jews, who have been conquered by the new revelation... 
(Quoted by Moojan Momen in ‘The Babi and Baha'i Religions 1844-1944’)

February 5, 2012

1981: Inaugural meeting of the Continental Board of Counsellors in Africa

Inaugural meeting of the Continental Board of Counsellors in Africa (1981) with the Hand of the Cause William Sears. Seated, left to right: William Masehla, Friday Ekpe, Thelma Khelghati, William Sears, Bahiyyih Winckler, Isobel Sabri, Peter Vuyiya. Standing, left to right: Shidan Fat’he-Aazam, Mihdi Samandari, Muhammad Kebdani, Oloro Epyeru, Hushang Ahdieh, Zekrollah Kazemi, Kolonario Oule, Husayn Ardekani. 
(The Baha’i World 1979-1983)

February 4, 2012

February 1953: First of the four Intercontinental Conferences of the Holy Year is held in Kampala, Uganda, and the Guardian's Ten Year World Crusade is launched

In February 1953 the first of the four Intercontinental Conferences of the Holy Year that commemorated Baha'u'llah's incarceration in the Siyah-Chal and the Birth of the Baha'i Revelation was held in Kampala, Uganda. There the Guardian's Ten Year World Crusade was launched. Convened by the British National Assembly, Hasan Balyuzi, the Assembly's chairman; John Ferraby, its secretary; and Dorothy Ferraby, a member of the National Assembly and secretary of the Africa Committee, attended that auspicious conference. (The Baha’i World In Memoriam 1992-1997, p. 138)

Video showing the Hands of the Cause and friends attending this very historic conference:


January 29, 2012

1912 and 1922 views of the prison complex where Baha'u'llah and His family were confined

circa 1912: The north-west cornor of the barrack-square of the prison complex, to which Baha'u'llah and His family were taken. Note the now unused fountain in the courtyard.
1922: The north-west building of the prison complex where Baha'u'llah and His family were confined (center). Note the open court on the ground floor and he doorway, in deep shadow, leading to the inner stairway to the upper floor.

January 24, 2012

First church in America honored by the presence of the Master in 1912

The first church in America that was honored by the presence of the Master was the Church of the Ascension in New York City at Fifth Avenue and Tenth Street – Sunday April 14, 1912. He gave His first public address in America there.(Mahmud’s Diary) 
(For a transcript of the talk please visit Talks of 'Abdu'l-Baha)

January 21, 2012

The first Local Spiritual Assembly of Mariental, South West Africa/Namibia

The first Local Spiritual Assembly of Mariental, South West Africa/Namibia, whose members are of five different tribes and speak as many languages -- 14 September 1980 
(The Baha'i World 1979-1983)

January 16, 2012

The First Oceanic Baha’i Conference was held in Palermo, Sicily, in August 1968

The significance of the conference and its location are described in the following excerpt from the message of the House of Justice:

The great sea, on one of whose chief islands you are now gathered, within whose hinterland and islands have flourished the Jewish, the Christian and Islamic civilizations is a befitting scene for the first Oceanic Bahá'í Conference. Two millenniums ago, in this arena, the disciples of Christ performed such deeds of heroism and self-sacrifice as are remembered to this day and are forever enshrined in the annals of His Cause. A thousand years later the lands, bordering the southern and western shores of this sea witnessed the glory of Islam's Golden Age. [The classical age of Islamic civilization, the eighth through thirteenth centuries.]

In the day of the Promised One this same sea achieved eternal fame through its association with the Heroic and Formative Ages of His Cause. It bore upon its bosom the King of kings Himself, the Centre of His Covenant crossed and re-crossed it in the course of His epoch-making journeys to the West, during which He left the indelible imprint of His presence upon European and African lands; the Sign of God on earth frequently journeyed upon it. [Bahá'u'lláh sailed upon the Mediterranean Sea in 1868 during His journey from Gallipoli to 'Akká. 'Abdu'l-Bahá, the Centre of Bahá'u'lláh's Covenant, accompanied Bahá'u'lláh on that journey and later sailed upon the Mediterranean in the course of His travels to Egypt, Europe, and North America, 1910-13. Shoghi Effendi, the Sign of God on earth, traversed the Mediterranean in his travels to England to study at Oxford University and in the course of later visits to Europe.] It enshrines within its depths the mortal remains of the Hand of the Cause of God Dorothy Baker and around its shores lies the dust of apostles, martyrs and pioneers. Forty-six Knights of Bahá'u'lláh are identified with seven of its islands and five of its territories. Through such and many other episodes, Mediterranean lands -- ancient home of civilizations -- have been endowed with spiritual potentiality to dissolve the encrustations of those once glorious but now moribund social orders and to radiate once again the light of Divine guidance.

January 14, 2012

1961: Baha'i House of Worship in Kampala, Uganda, is opened to the public --the first African Temple, the first Temple to be completed during the World Crusade, and the third Temple in the world

We should ponder the fact that the people of Africa have attracted the grace of Bahá'u'lláh to such a marked degree that after the construction in Asia -- the continent which has been the Cradle of the Manifestations of God -- of the first Bahá'í Temple to be erected, and the completion in America, the Cradle of the Administrative Order, of the second Bahá'í House of Worship, it was Africa which was singled out for the unique honour of completing the third Mother Temple to be raised in the name and to the glory of the Supreme Manifestation of God for this Day. 
(Excerpt from a message of the Hands of the Cause in the Holy Land to the friends attending the Dedication of the Mother Temple of Africa and the Africa Teaching Conference; Ministry of the Custodians, pp. 250-252) (To read the entire message please visit Baha’i Calendar – this month in history)

January 13, 2012

1981: Baha'u'llah's House in Takur is destroyed

The House of Baha'u'llah in Takur, Iran, which was destroyed in 1981 during anti-Baha'i fervor that followed the Islamic Revolution. (Baha'i News, December 1982)

January 12, 2012

Bahá'u'lláh's Banishments – imposed by Násiri'd-Dín Sháh of Persia and Sultan 'Abdu'l-Aziz of Turkey

  • Tihran, Persia to Baghdad, 'Iraq, January 1853-April 1863
  • Baghdad to Constantinople (now Istanbul), Turkey, August-December 1863
  • Constantinople to Adrianople (now Edirne), Turkey, December 1863-August 1868
  • Adrianople to 'Akká, Palestine, August 1868(Adapted from the Footnotes, Messages from the Universal House of Justice 1963-1986, p. 136)

January 11, 2012

The first Bábi martyr: Mulla ‘Aliy-i-Bastami, one of the Letters of the Living

He was directed by the Báb to go to Iraq to teach among the Shaykhi’s [followers of Shayk Ahmad, a forerunner to the Báb]. His presentation of a copy of the Báb’s Qayyumu'l-Asma' to one of the leading exponents of Shi'ih Islam, Shaykh Muhammad Hasan-i-Najafi, led to a violent debate and eventually to his arrest and transfer to prison in Baghdad. A court of inquiry was held in January 1846 where the Sunnis argued for the death penalty on grounds of heresy while the Shi'ihs argued for banishment or imprisonment. He was eventually transferred to Istanbul where he was apparently sentenced to labour in the docks. He died in prison near the end of 1846, thus making him the first Babi martyr. 
(Adapted from 'A Basic Baha’i Dictionary', by Wendi Momen)

January 9, 2012

The first person to embrace the Babi Faith after the Letters of the Living

Haji Mirza Siyyid ‘Ali was the maternal uncle of the Báb. He brought up the Bab after His father died. He was known as Khál-i--i-A'zam (the Most Great Uncle). Haji Mirza Siyyid 'Ali was a leading merchant of Shiraz and the first, after the Letters of the Living, to embrace the Bábi Faith in that city. He devoted the rest of his life to serving his nephew. After visiting the Báb in Chihriq, he went to Tihran where he was arrested in 1850. With great eloquence he refused to recant his faith, was beheaded, and became known as one of the Seven Martyrs of Tihran. 
(Adapted from ‘A Basic Baha’i Dictionary’, by Weni Momen)

January 5, 2012

The first National Spiritual Assembly to become legally incorporated

The incorporation of the American National Spiritual Assembly as a voluntary Trust, a species of corporation recognized under the common law, enabling it to enter into contract, hold property and receive bequests by virtue of a certificate issued in May, 1929, under the seal of the Department of State in Washington and bearing the signature of the Secretary of State, Henry L. Stimson, was followed by the adoption of similar legal measures resulting in the successive incorporation of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of India and Burma, in January, 1933, in Lahore, in the state of Punjab, according to the provisions of the Societies Registration Act of 1860; of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of Egypt and the Sudan, in December, 1934, as certified by the Mixed Court in Cairo; of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of Australia and New Zealand, in January, 1938, as witnessed by the Deputy Registrar at the General Registry Office for the state of South Australia; and more recently of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the British Isles, in August, 1939, as an unlimited non-profit company, under the Companies Act, 1929, and certified by the Assistant Registrar of Companies in the City of London. 
(Shoghi Effendi, 'God Passes By')