December 31, 2013

‘Abdu’l-Bahá's description of Tahirih

And amongst them [“certain persons (that) appeared amongst the Bábís who had a strange ascendancy and appearance in the eyes of this sect”] was she who was entitled Qurratu’l-‘Ayn [Tahirih] the daughter of Hájí Sálih, the sage of Qazvín, the erudite doctor. She, according to what is related, was skilled in diverse arts, amazed the understandings and thoughts of the most eminent masters by her eloquent dissertations on the exegesis and tradition of the Perspicuous Book, and was a mighty sign in the doctrines of the glorious Shaykh of Ahsá. At the Supreme Shrines she borrowed light on matters divine from the lamp of Kázim, and freely sacrificed her life in the way of the Báb. She discussed and disputed with the doctors and sages, loosing her tongue to establish her doctrine. Such fame did she acquire that most people who were scholars or mystics sought to hear her speech and were eager to become acquainted with her powers of speculation and deduction. She had a brain full of tumultuous ideas, and thoughts vehement and restless. In many places she triumphed over the contentious, expounding the most subtle questions. When she was imprisoned in the house of [Mahmúd] the Kalantar of Tihrán, and the festivities and rejoicings of a wedding were going on, the wives of the city magnates who were present as guests were so charmed with the beauty of her speech that, forgetting the festivities, they gathered round her, diverted by listening to her words from listening to the melodies, and rendered indifferent by witnessing her marvels to the contemplation of the pleasant and novel sights which are incidental to a wedding. In short in elocution she was the calamity of the age, and in ratiocination the trouble of the world. Of fear or timidity there was no trace in her heart, nor had the admonitions of the kindly-disposed any profit or fruit for her. Although she was of [such as are] damsels [meet] for the bridal bower, yet she wrested preeminence from stalwart men, and continued to strain the feet of steadfastness until she yielded up her life at the sentence of the mighty doctors in Tihrán. But were we to occupy ourselves with these details the matter would end in prolixity. (‘Abdu’l-Baha, ‘A Traveler’s Narrative’)

December 26, 2013

May 1971 – countries and islands of the Caribbean: 2,500 localities, 500 Local Spiritual Assemblies, and 16 National Spiritual Assemblies

Now Bahá'ís are to be found in over 2,500 localities, more than 500 Local Assemblies and 16 National Spiritual Assemblies have been formed, and there have been hundreds of concrete achievements which have brought about our recognition as an independent Faith. (The Universal House of Justice, excerpt from a message dated May 1971, to the Friends of God gathered in the Caribbean Conference; Messages from the Universal House of Justice, 1963-1986) (To read the entire message please visit Messages to the Baha’i World Community – by the Universal House of Justice)

December 14, 2013

April 22, 1863: Baha’u’lláh enters the Najíbíyyih Garden in Baghdad -- “subsequently designated by His followers the Garden of Ridván”

Twenty-seven days after that mournful Tablet[“Tablet of the Holy Mariner”] had been so unexpectedly revealed by Bahá’u’lláh, and the fateful communication, presaging His departure to Constantinople had been delivered into His hands, on a Wednesday afternoon (April 22, 1863), thirty-one days after Naw-Rúz, on the third of Dhi’l-Qádih, 1279 A.H., He set forth on the first stage of His four months’ journey to the capital of the Ottoman Empire. That historic day, forever after designated as the first day of the Ridván Festival, the culmination of innumerable farewell visits which friends and acquaintances of every class and denomination, had been paying him, was one the like of which the inhabitants of Baghdád had rarely beheld. A concourse of people of both sexes and of every age, comprising friends and strangers Arabs, Kurds and Persians, notables and clerics, officials and merchants, as well as many of the lower classes, the poor, the orphaned, the outcast, some surprised, others heartbroken, many tearful and apprehensive, a few impelled by curiosity or secret satisfaction, thronged the approaches of His house, eager to catch a final glimpse of One Who, for a decade, had, through precept and example, exercised so potent an influence on so large a number of the heterogeneous inhabitants of their city.

December 1, 2013

Secretaries of Shoghi Effendi

Shoghi Effendi had difficulty in securing suitable secretarial support. At some times family members assisted, while at others, Western Baha’is served as secretaries during extended periods spent in Haifa. They included 'Azizu’llláh S. Bahádur (19241), Soheil Afnán (1924-1930), Rúhí Afnán (1926-1933), H. Rabbáni (1931-1940), Mehrenguiz Rabbáni (1932), J.E. Esslemont (1925), and Ethel J. Rosenberg (1927). Later, secretarial support was given the Guardian by Rúhíyyih Khánum, and in the 1950s, Amelia Collins (1951), Leroy Ioas (1952-1957), and Jessie Revell (1953). 
(Prepared by Graham Hassall, Preface to ‘Messages to the Antipodes, Communications from Shoghi Effendi to the Baha’i Communities of Australasia’)

November 26, 2013

November 12, 2013

Location of the entrance to Siyah-Chal (Black Pit) and its close vicinity to the Shah's palace

The area marked "X" shows the location of the entrance to Siyyah-Chal (Black Pit) in Tihran and its close vicinity to the Shah's palace (in the background)

November 7, 2013

1939: National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of the United States and Canada

Members of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of the United States and Canada, for the years 1939-1940 (The Baha'i World 1938-1940)

November 1, 2013

1953-1963: The Cause of God “took firm root” in the Caribbean by the settlement of 27 Knights of Baha’u’llah during the Ten Year Crusade

Yet it was not until the successive Plans of the beloved Guardian, culminating in the Ten Year Crusade, when 27 Knights of Bahá'u'lláh settled throughout this vast area, that the Cause took firm root. By 1963 the countries and islands of the Caribbean claimed less than 400 localities and only 147 Local Spiritual Assemblies. (The Universal House of Justice, excerpt from a message dated May 1971, to the Friends of God gathered in the Caribbean Conference; Messages from the Universal House of Justice, 1963-1986) (To read the entire message please visit Messages to the Baha’i World Community – by the Universal House of Justice)

October 27, 2013

There were 101 National Spiritual Assemblies in the world as of Ridvan 1971

The Nine Year Plan is well advanced, and this Ridvan will witness the establishment of seven more National Spiritual Assemblies, five in Africa, one in South America and one in the Pacific, bringing the total number of these exalted bodies to 101. (The Universal House of Justice, Ridvan 1971 message to the Baha’i World; ‘Messages from the Universal House of Justice, 1963-1986’) (To read the entire message please visit Messages to the Baha’iWorld Community – by the Universal House of Justice)

October 20, 2013

November 1981: Inauguration of Radio Baha’i in Peru


October 13, 2013

November 1, 1845: Probably the first European newspaper reference to the Báb and the persecution of the Bábis

The Times (London), November 1, 1845

We have been favored with the following letter, dated Bushire, August 10:

A Persian merchant, who has lately returned from a pilgrimage to Mecca, had been for some time endeavoring here to prove that he was one of the successors of Mahomet, and there had a right to demand of all true Mussulmans to mention him as such in their profession of faith; he had already collected a good number of followers, who secretly aided him in forwarding his views. On the evening of the 23d of June last, I have been informed from a creditable source, four persons being heard at Shiraz repeating their profession of faith according to the form prescribed by the new impostor were apprehended, tried, and found guilty of unpardonable blasphemy. They were sentence to lose their beards by fire being set to them. The sentence was put into execution with all the zeal and fanaticism becoming a true believer in Mahomet. Not deeming the loss of beards a sufficient punishment for the believers in the impostor, they were further sentenced on the next day to have their faces blacked and exposed throughout the city. Each of them was led by a Mirgazah (executioner), who had made a hole in his nose and passed through it a string, which he sometimes pulled with such violence that the unfortunate fellows cried out alternatively for mercy from the executioner and for vengeance from Heaven. It is custom in Persia on such occasions for the executioners to collect money from the spectators, and particularly from the shopkeepers in the bazaar. In the evening, when the pockets of the executioners were well filled with money, they led the unfortunate fellows to the city gage, and there told them

"The world was all before them where to choose
Their place of rest, and Providence their guide."

After which the Mollahs at Shiraz sent men to Bushire with power to seize the impostor, and take him to Shriaz, where, on being tried, he very wisely denied the charge of apostasy laid against him, and this escaped from punishment. (The Times (London), November 1, 1845)

October 10, 2013

1971: The “imposition of disabilities” to “outright oppression” that a number of Baha’i communities experienced

Restrictive measures, directed against the Faith, and varying in severity from outright oppression to imposition of disabilities make virtually impossible the achievement of the goals of the Nine Year Plan in a number of countries, particularly in the Middle East, in North West Africa, along the fringes of East Africa and certain areas in South East Asia. (The Universal House of Justice, Ridvan 1971 message to the Baha’i World; ‘Messages from the Universal House of Justice, 1963-1986’) (To read the entire message please visit Messages to the Baha’i World Community – by the Universal House ofJustice)

September 24, 2013

April 1938: Sacramento's first Spiritual Assembly is established

The Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of Sacramento, California, USA, 1938 (The Baha'i World 1938-1940)

September 1, 2013

1938: A Local Spiritual Assembly is formed in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, USA

The first Local Spiritual Assembly of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, USA, 1938 (The Baha'i World 1938-1940)

August 22, 2013

1939: First Baha'i Summer School in Iran

Views of the first Baha'i Summer School in Iran, held in the vicinity of Tihran, in 1939 (The Baha'i World 1938-1940)

August 16, 2013

1939: Certificate of Incorporation of the Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of the City of Vancouver, Canada

Certificate of Incorporation of the Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of the City of Vancouver, Canada, 1939 (The Baha'i World 1938-1940)

August 10, 2013

The amazing growth of the Faith during the first 50 years of the Formative Age – 1921 to 1971

That first half-century of the Formative Age has seen the Bahá'í Community grow from a few hundred centres in 35 countries in 1921, to over 46,000 centres in 135 independent states and 182 significant territories and islands at the present day, has been marked by the raising throughout the world of the framework of the Administrative Order, which in its turn has brought recognition of the Faith by many governments and civil authorities and accreditation in consultative status to the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations, and has witnessed the spread to many parts of the world of that "entry by troops" promised by the Master and so long and so eagerly anticipated by the friends. (The Universal House of Justice, Ridvan 1971 message to the Baha’i World; ‘Messages from the Universal House of Justice, 1963-1986’) (To read the entire message please visit Messages to the Baha’i WorldCommunity – by the Universal House of Justice)

August 1, 2013

A late 19th Century prison in Iran

A late 19th Century prison in Iran. The person forth from the left marked 'X' was a well-known Baha'i teacher (The Baha'i World 1936-1938)

July 19, 2013

1890: Baha’u’llah’s tent was raised on Mount Carmel

In that same year[1890] Bahá’u’lláh’s tent, the “Tabernacle of Glory,” was raised on Mt. Carmel, “the Hill of God and His Vineyard,” the home of Elijah, extolled by Isaiah as the “mountain of the Lord,” to which “all nations shall flow.” Four times He visited Haifa, His last visit being no less than three months long. In the course of one of these visits, when His tent was pitched in the vicinity of the Carmelite Monastery, He, the “Lord of the Vineyard,” revealed the Tablet of Carmel, remarkable for its allusions and prophecies. On another occasion He pointed out Himself to ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, as He stood on the slopes of that mountain, the site which was to serve as the permanent resting-place of the Báb, and on which a befitting mausoleum was later to be erected. (Shoghi Effendi, ‘God Passes By’)

July 9, 2013

A major earthquake took place in Shiraz after the martyrdom of the Báb – reference made in the Book of Revelations

“And the same hour there was a great earthquake, and the tenth part of the city fell, and in the earthquake were slain of men seven thousand.” [Rev. 11:13]

This earthquake occurred in Shíráz after the martyrdom of the Báb. The city was in a turmoil, and many people were destroyed. Great agitation also took place through diseases, cholera, dearth, scarcity, famine and afflictions, the like of which had never been known.

“And the remnant was affrighted and gave glory to the God of heaven.” [Rev. 11:13]

When the earthquake took place in Fárs, all the remnant lamented and cried day and night, and were occupied in glorifying and praying to God. They were so troubled and affrighted that they had no sleep nor rest at night. (‘Abdu’l-Baha, ‘Some Answered Questions’)

July 6, 2013

Quddús was twenty-two years old when he recognized the Báb

The last, but in rank the first, of these Letters to be inscribed on the Preserved Tablet was the erudite, the twenty-two year old Quddús, a direct descendant of the Imám Hasan and the most esteemed disciple of Siyyid Kázim. (Shoghi Effendi, ‘God Passes By’)

July 5, 2013

A Tablet from the Báb before His declaration to Mulla Husayn

Known as “Fi’s-Sulúk I” (On the Virtuous Journey I), this very early work was written before the declaration of the Báb and even before the death of Siyyid Kázim. A short text, it was most likely written for Mullá Hasan and is mentioned in the Kitábu’l-Fihrist. In the text the Báb refers to a work by Siyyid Kázim with a similar title. Unlike Siyyid Kázim’s work, the Báb’s focuses on the inner and mystical meanings of religious law, turning ritual action into a spiritual journey. The mediating category is love for the four layers of the divine covenant in the Islamic Dispensation. (Nader Saiedi, ‘Gate of the Heart – Understanding the Writings of the Báb’)

July 2, 2013

The “progressive stages in the tumultuous and tragic ministry" of the Báb – the “One Whose age inaugurated the consummation of all ages, and Whose Revelation fulfilled the promise of all Revelations.”

The Báb—“the Point,” as affirmed by Bahá’u’lláh, “round Whom the realities of the Prophets and Messengers revolve”—was the One first swept into the maelstrom which engulfed His supporters. Sudden arrest and confinement in the very first year of His short and spectacular career; public affront deliberately inflicted in the presence of the ecclesiastical dignitaries of Shíráz; strict and prolonged incarceration in the bleak fastnesses of the mountains of Ádhirbayján; a contemptuous disregard and a cowardly jealousy evinced respectively by the Chief Magistrate of the realm and the foremost minister of his government; the carefully staged and farcical interrogatory sustained in the presence of the heir to the Throne and the distinguished divines of Tabríz; the shameful infliction of the bastinado in the prayer house, and at the hands of the Shaykhu’l-Islám of that city; and finally suspension in the barrack-square of Tabríz and the discharge of a volley of above seven hundred bullets at His youthful breast under the eyes of a callous multitude of about ten thousand people, culminating in the ignominious exposure of His mangled remains on the edge of the moat without the city gate—these were the progressive stages in the tumultuous and tragic ministry of One Whose age inaugurated the consummation of all ages, and Whose Revelation fulfilled the promise of all Revelations. (Shoghi Effendi, from a letter dated 28 March 1941; ‘The Promised Day Is Come’)

June 25, 2013

April 2013: The newly elected members of the Universal House of Justice

The newly elected members of the Universal House of Justice are (left to right) Paul Lample, Firaydoun Javaheri, Payman Mohajer, Gustavo Correa, Shahriar Razavi, Stephen Birkland, Stephen Hall, Chuungu Malitonga, and Ayman Rouhani (The American Baha'i May-June 2013)

June 20, 2013

The shop used by the Bab during His days in Bushihr, Persia

The shop which was used by the Bab during His days in Bushihr, Persia. (The Baha'i World 1938-1940)

June 10, 2013

1996: The “first step in the acquisition of sites sanctified by the residence of the Master in the cities of Europe”

The National and Regional Spiritual Assemblies in Europe were notified in a letter dated 28 October 1996 of the acquisition of the apartment at 4, Avenue de Camoens in Paris, in which 'Abdu'lBaha stayed during His visit to the city. The House of Justice noted:

“This marks the first step in the acquisition of sites sanctified by the residence of the Master in the cities of Europe during the three visits He made to that continent, between 1911 and 1913, for the purpose of spreading the Message of Baha'u'llah, sites which are second only in holiness to those places in Istanbul and Edirne where the Manifestation of God Himself blessed the soil of the European continent.”
(The Baha’i World 1996-1997)

June 5, 2013

1938: First Baha'i Summer School in India

The First Baha'i Summer School of India held at Simla. In the center is Martha Root, beloved teacher of the Faith throughout East and West, who was touring India and Panama. (The Baha'i World 1938-1940)

May 25, 2013

Inter-Assembly Teaching Conference, Los Angeles, Claifornia, February 26th, 1939

Inter-Assembly Teaching Conference
Held in Los Angeles, California, February 26th, 1939, at the time of the visit of the National Spiritual Assembly (The Baha'i World 1938-1940)

May 22, 2013

April 2013: 11th International Baha'i Convention, Haifa, Israel

A group photograph of the 11th International Baha'i Convention. The bouquet of red roses in the foreground noted the absence of delegates from Iran. (Baha’i World News Service)

May 7, 2013

1953: Hands of the Cause attending first of the four Intercontinental Conferences of the Holy Year in Kampala, Uganda -- The Guardian's Ten Year World Crusade is launched

Left to right: Tarazu’llah Samandari (1874-1968), 'Ali Akbar Furutan (1905-2003), Musa Banani (1886-1971), Dorothy Baker (1898-1954), Shu’a’u’llah ‘Ala’i (1889-1984), Horace Holley (1887-1960), Valiyu'llah Varqa (1884-1955), Leroy Ioas (1896-1965), and Dhikru'llah Khadim (1904-1986). Missing: Mason Remey (1874-1974)

April 21, 2013

April 21, 1863: Baha’u’llah declares His Mission to His companions in the Najibiyyih garden outside the city of Baghdad

The arrival of Baha’u’llah in the Najibiyyih Garden, subsequently designated by His followers as the Garden of Ridvan, signalizes the commencement of what has come to be recognized as the holiest and most significant of all Baha’i festivals, the festival commemorating the Declaration of His Mission to His companions. So momentous a Declaration may well be regarded both as the logical consummation of that revolutionizing process which was initiated by Himself upon His return from Sulaymaniyyih and as a prelude to the final proclamation of that same Minion to the world and its rulers from Adrianople … (Shoghi Effendi, ‘God Passes By’)

February 15, 2013

Entrance to the Siyah-Chal

Entrance to the Siyah-Chal - the Black Pit - the subterranean dungeon in Tihran where Baha'u'llah was chained for four months

February 5, 2013

Tree, near the shrine of Shaykh Tabarsi, from which Mulla Husayn was shot

Tree, near the shrine of Shaykh Tabarsi, from which Mulla Husayn, the Babu'l-Bab, was shot. (The Baha'i World 1932-1934)

January 28, 2013

“God alone knoweth what befell Us in that most foul-smelling and gloomy place!”

“We were consigned,” He[Baha’u’llah] wrote in His “Epistle to the Son of the Wolf,” “for four months to a place foul beyond comparison. As to the dungeon in which this Wronged One and others similarly wronged were confined, a dark and narrow pit were preferable.... The dungeon was wrapped in thick darkness, and Our fellow prisoners numbered nearly a hundred and fifty souls: thieves, assassins, and highwaymen. Though crowded, it had no other outlet than the passage by which We entered. No pen can depict that place, nor any tongue describe its loathsome smell. Most of these men had neither clothes nor bedding to lie on. God alone knoweth what befell Us in that most foul-smelling and gloomy place!” “‘Abdu’l-Bahá,” writes Dr. J.E. Esslemont, “tells how one day He was allowed to enter the prison-yard to see His beloved Father when He came out for His daily exercise. Bahá’u’lláh was terribly altered, so ill He could hardly walk. His hair and beard unkempt, His neck galled and swollen from the pressure of a heavy steel collar, His body bent by the weight of His chains.” “For three days and three nights,” Nabíl has recorded in his chronicle, “no manner of food or drink was given to Bahá’u’lláh. Rest and sleep were both impossible to Him. The place was infested with vermin, and the stench of that gloomy abode was enough to crush the very spirits of those who were condemned to suffer its horrors.” “Such was the intensity of His suffering that the marks of that cruelty remained imprinted upon His body all the days of His life.” (Shoghi Effendi, letter dated March 28, 1941 addressed to “the beloved of God and the handmaids of the Merciful throughout the West”; ‘The Promised Day is Come’)

January 20, 2013

“… one of Bahá’u’lláh’s greatest miracles” – ‘Abdu’l-Baha explains

Although the policy of Sultán ‘Abdu’l-Hamíd was harsher than ever; although he constantly insisted on his Captive’s strict confinement—still, the Blessed Beauty now lived, as everyone knows, with all power and glory. Some of the time Bahá’u’lláh would spend at the Mansion, and again, at the farm village of Mazra’ih; for a while He would sojourn in Haifa, and occasionally His tent would be pitched on the heights of Mount Carmel. Friends from everywhere presented themselves and gained an audience. The people and the government authorities witnessed it all, yet no one so much as breathed a word. And this is one of Bahá’u’lláh’s greatest miracles: that He, a captive, surrounded Himself with panoply and He wielded power. The prison changed into a palace, the jail itself became a Garden of Eden. Such a thing has not occurred in history before; no former age has seen its like: that a man confined to a prison should move about with authority and might; that one in chains should carry the fame of the Cause of God to the high heavens, should win splendid victories in both East and West, and should, by His almighty pen, subdue the world. Such is the distinguishing feature of this supreme Theophany. (‘Abdu’l-Baha, ‘Memorials of the Faithful’)

January 15, 2013

January 1971: Baha’i continental conference in Liberia – The Universal House of Justice explains the role of the emerging Baha’i community in alleviating the various ills afflicting the people of Africa

January 1971

To the Friends of God assembled in the Conference in Monrovia, Liberia

Dearly loved friends,

The emergence on the African Continent of a widely spread, numerous, diversified and united Baha'i community, so swiftly after the initiation of organized teaching plans there, is of the utmost significance and a signal evidence of the bounties which God has destined for its peoples in this day.

The great victories in Africa, which brought such joy to the Guardian's heart in the last years of his life, resulted from the self-sacrificing devotion of a handful of pioneers, gradually assisted by the first few native believers, all labouring under the loving shadow of the Hand of the Cause Musa Banani. From their efforts there has been raised up an increasing army of African, teachers, administrators, pioneers and valiant promoters of the Divine Cause, whose main task is to bring to all Africa the bounties conferred by the Word of God, bounties of enlightenment, zeal, devotion and eventually the true civilization of Baha'u'llah's World Order.

January 10, 2013

The number of National Spiritual Assemblies: 56 in 1963, 94 in 1970!

Since 1963 when there were 56 National Spiritual Assemblies, to the present time when there are 94 (soon to be 101), the work of the Cause has expanded so rapidly, both in the teaching field and at the World Centre, that the Universal House of Justice has had to increase more than fourfold the annual international budget of the Cause. (The Universal House of Justice, from a letter dated 29 December 1970, ‘Messages from the Universal House of Justice, 1963-1986’) (To see the entire message please visit Messages to the Baha’i World Community – by the Universal House of Justice)