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)