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')