December 27, 2018

Baha’u’llah explains to Nasiri’d-Din Shah circumstances in Iraq resulting in His and His companions’ application for Ottoman citizenship

By the leave and permission of the King of the Age, this Servant journeyed from the Seat of Sovereignty [Tihran] to ‘Iráq, and dwelt for twelve years in that land.  Throughout the entire course of this period no account of Our condition was submitted to the court of thy presence, and no representation ever made to foreign powers. Placing Our whole trust in God, We resided in that land until there came to ‘Iráq a certain official [1] who, upon his arrival, undertook to harass this poor company of exiles. Day after day, at the instigation of some of the outwardly learned and of other individuals, he would stir up trouble for these servants, although they had at no time committed any act detrimental to the state and its people or contrary to the rules and customs of the citizens of the realm.

Fearing lest the actions of these transgressors should produce some outcome at variance with thy world-adorning judgement, this Servant despatched a brief account of the matter to Mírzá Sa‘íd Khán [2] at the Foreign Ministry, so that he might submit it to the royal presence and that whatever thou shouldst please to decree in this respect might be obeyed. A long while elapsed, and no decree was issued. Finally matters came to such a pass that there loomed the threat of imminent strife and bloodshed. Of necessity, therefore, and for the protection of the servants of God, a few of them appealed to the Governor of ‘Iráq. [3]

December 20, 2018

1907: Two Baha'is from America visit Baha'is in Haifa

Thornton Chase and Arthur Agnew in the home of Mirza Assadu'llah 
('In Galilee', by Thornton Chase)

December 16, 2018

1949: Third South American Teaching Congress, Sao Paulo, Brazil

Baha’is representing seven participating South American countries and the United States gathered at the site of the Third South American Teaching Congress, January 1949, Sao Paulo, Brazil.
(The Baha'i World 1946-1950)

December 10, 2018

1925: First Dutch Baha’i arrived at the World Center

Yesterday a Dutchman arrived here from Port Said, the first Dutch Bahá’í, so far as we know. He has been a sincere and earnest truth-seeker for years. About 9 months ago he left his home at the Hague and walked on foot through Belgium, France and Italy. Then he felt some inward urge to go to Egypt, and travelled thither by a Dutch Cargo Steamer. When the steamer arrived at Port Said Mahmood Effendi, one of the Port Said Bahá’ís came on board and was introduced to Mesdag (the Dutchman). They struck up a friendship at once and after 2 days Mesdag went to live in Mahmood’s house. There he met Martha Root, Mr. Schopflocher and various other Bahá’ís, read my book [Dr. Esslemont’s: ‘Baha’u’llah and the New Era’] and became thoroughly interested and seems now already a firm believer. He has already, since his arrival yesterday morning, translated our 8-page folder into Dutch and we hope he will be able to do much to make the Cause known in Holland and win adherents there. 
- Shoghi Effendi  (From a letter dated May 9, 1925, written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer; ‘Arohanui: Letter from Shoghi Effendi to New Zealand’)

December 4, 2018

‘Abdu’l-Baha provides some ancient historical information about a portion of the planet

If one travel in the central desert of Asia, he will observe how many cities as great and populous as Paris or London have been ruined. From the Caspian Sea to the River Oxus naught is to be seen save forlorn and deserted prairies and deserts. The Russian railway (the Trans-Caspian R. R.) takes two days and two nights to traverse the ruined cities and destroyed villages of that desert. There was a time when that land was very populous and in the highest state of civilization and development; science and knowledge were wide spread, the arts and professions established, commerce and agriculture were in the utmost state of perfection, and civil government and politics well organized.

Now, all this great region is the habitation of desolation and shelters only the' nomadic Turkoman tribes and the wandering beasts of prey. The cities of that land, as Gorgan, Tassa, Abiavard and Shahrastan, were once famous in the world for sciences, knowledge, professions, wonders, wealth, greatness, happiness and virtue. Now, no voice or murmur is to be heard in all that land save the roar of ferocious brutes, and naught to be seen save the wandering wolves.

This ruin and destruction was occasioned by the battles and murders of the wars between Iran (Persia) and Turkan… 
- ‘Abdu’l-Baha  (From a Tablet; ‘Star of the West, vol. 6, no. 9, August 20, 1915)

November 28, 2018

The Báb sent two messengers to Muhammad Shah, the King of Persia – one messenger with “a truly resplendent Tablet”, and another with “epistles” revealed by Him

This is an Epistle from Him Who is the true, the undoubted Leader. Herein is revealed the law of all things for those who fain would heed His Call or wish to be reckoned among them that are guided aright. Herein is enshrined the law of all things for such as would bear witness to the Revelation of thy Lord in accordance with this clear balance. Verily the ordinances of God concerning all things were formerly set forth in eloquent Arabic. Indeed those whose souls have been created through the splendor of the light of thy Lord recognize the Truth and are numbered with such as faithfully obey the One True God and are well assured.…

O Muhammad! The Decree of thy Lord was fulfilled four years ago; and ever since the inception of the Cause of thy Lord I have warned thee to fear God and not to be of the ignorant. I dispatched a messenger unto thee with a truly resplendent Tablet, but the followers of the devil turned him away disdainfully and interposed themselves between him and thee. They expelled him from the land whereof thou art the undisputed sovereign. Thus hath the good of this world and of the next escaped thee, unless thou submit to the commandment ordained by God and be of them that are rightly guided.

November 20, 2018

circa 1847:The Báb challenged the King of Persia, Muhammad Shah, to summon all the divines so He could prove the truth of His Mission

Muhammad Shah
If thou art not apprehensive that the truth might be revealed and the works of the ungodly be brought to naught, why summonest thou not the divines of the land, and then summon Me, so that I may confound them forthwith, even as those disbelievers whom I have previously confounded? This is My sure testimony unto thee and unto them, if they speak the truth. Summon thou all of them. Should they then be able to utter words like unto this, thou wouldst know that their cause is worthy of attention. Nay, by the righteousness of My Lord! They are bereft of power, nor are they endued with perception. They professed faith in the past without understanding its significance, then later they repudiated the Truth; for they are devoid of discernment. 
- The Báb  (From an Epistle to Muhammad Shad; ‘Selections from the Writings of the Báb)

November 8, 2018

1946: First South American Baha'i Congress, Buenos Aires, Argentina

Delegates and representatives at Press Conference, Continental Hotel, November 7, 1946. First South American Baha'i Congress, Buenos Aires, Argentina. (The Baha’i World 1946-1950)

October 28, 2018

1972: Number of worldwide localities where Baha’is reside reached 56,645

14 February 1972
To all National Spiritual Assemblies


(Messages from the Universal House of Justice, 1963-1986’)

October 23, 2018

The “conclusion of the Primitive, the Apostolic Age of the Faith of Baha'u'llah”

With 'Abdu'l-Baha's ascension, and more particularly with the passing of His well-beloved and illustrious sister the Most Exalted Leaf -- the last survivor of a glorious and heroic age -- there draws to a close the first and most moving chapter of Baha'i history, marking the conclusion of the Primitive, the Apostolic Age of the Faith of Baha'u'llah. It was 'Abdu'l-Baha Who, through the provisions of His weighty Will and Testament, has forged the vital link which must for ever connect the age that has just expired with the one we now live in -- the Transitional and Formative period of the Faith -- a stage that must in the fullness of time reach its blossom and yield its fruit in the exploits and triumphs that are to herald the Golden Age of the Revelation of Baha'u'llah. 
- Shoghi Effendi  (From a message dated 8 February 1934, printed as ‘The Dispensation of Baha'u'llah’ in ‘The World Order of Baha'u'llah’)

October 10, 2018

Delivery of Epistles to "the several rulers and crowned heads of the world" – Baha’u’llah explains

From Our Most Great Prison We were moved to address to the several rulers and crowned heads of the world Epistles in which We summoned them to arise and embrace the Cause of God. To the Shah of Persia We sent Our messenger Badi', into whose hands We entrusted the Tablet. It was he who raised it aloft before the eyes of the multitude and, with uplifted voice, appealed to his sovereign to heed the words that Tablet contained. The rest of the Epistles likewise reached their destination. To the Tablet We addressed to the Emperor of France, an answer was received from his minister, the original of which is now in the possession of the Most Great Branch. To him We addressed these words: 'Bid the high priest, O Monarch of France, to cease ringing his bells, for, lo! the Most Great Bell, which the hands of the will of the Lord thy God are ringing, is made manifest in the person of His chosen One.' The Epistle We addressed to the Czar of Russia, alone failed to reach its destination. Other Tablets, however, have reached him, and that Epistle will eventually be delivered into his hands. 
- Baha’u’llah  (Quoted by Nabil in ‘The Dawn-Breakers’, translated and edited by Shoghi Effendi)

October 1, 2018

Persia: September 1848 – First time that the combined forces of the civil and ecclesiastical powers started a systematic campaign against the Bábís

One of Tehran's gates, circa 1920s
This fierce, nation-wide controversy had assumed alarming proportions when Muhammad Sháh finally succumbed to his illness, precipitating by his death the downfall of his favorite and all-powerful minister, Ḥájí Mírzá Aqásí, who, soon stripped of the treasures he had amassed, fell into disgrace, was expelled from the capital, and sought refuge in Karbilá. The seventeen year old Náṣiri’d-Dín Mírzá ascended the throne, leaving the direction of affairs to the obdurate, the iron-hearted Amír-Nizám, Mírzá Taqí Khán, who, without consulting his fellow-ministers, decreed that immediate and condign punishment be inflicted on the hapless Bábís. Governors, magistrates and civil servants, throughout the provinces, instigated by the monstrous campaign of vilification conducted by the clergy, and prompted by their lust for pecuniary rewards, vied in their respective spheres with each other in hounding and heaping indignities on the adherents of an outlawed Faith. For the first time in the Faith’s history a systematic campaign in which the civil and ecclesiastical powers were banded together was being launched against it, a campaign that was to culminate in the horrors experienced by Bahá’u’lláh in the Síyáh-Chál of Ṭihrán and His subsequent banishment to ‘Iráq. Government, clergy and people arose, as one man, to assault and exterminate their common enemy. In remote and isolated centers the scattered disciples of a persecuted community were pitilessly struck down by the sword of their foes, while in centers where large numbers had congregated measures were taken in self-defense, which, misconstrued by a cunning and deceitful adversary, served in their turn to inflame still further the hostility of the authorities, and multiply the outrages perpetrated by the oppressor. In the East at Shaykh Tabarsí, in the south in Nayríz, in the west in Zanján, and in the capital itself, massacres, upheavals, demonstrations, engagements, sieges, acts of treachery proclaimed, in rapid succession, the violence of the storm which had broken out, and exposed the bankruptcy, and blackened the annals, of a proud yet degenerate people. 
- Shoghi Effendi  (‘God Passes By’)

September 16, 2018

1934: Last day of Tarbiyat school and the shocking effect of its closure on 1500 students – excerpt from a letter by Clara and Adelaide Sharp from Tehran

The closing of the school was a great shock although we had expected that it might happen. The Bab’s Martyrdom in this country is kept by the Arabic calendar and came this year on December 6. ... Saturday afternoon a policeman came with an order from the Board of Education to close the schools. They said Tarbiyat had been closed for no reason Thursday and the license for Tarbiyat School existed no longer. The order came after school had been dismissed and there was no time to tell all the children, so Adelaide and her assistant went to school the next morning at 6:30 A.M., before the policeman could get there, and as the children came to enter the school they had to be turned back. This was very hard as many of the little ones did not understand and called to Adelaide to tell the policeman to let them in, and many cried. ... The Baha’i children have not gone to other schools. ... The Muhammadan children of course went to other schools but they are not satisfied and happy. Tarbiyat School was far ahead of the other Persian schools, in their text books, character training and everything else. All the schools say this. The educated Muhammadans are with the Baha’is. One important Muhammadan said he knew it was a Baha’i School when he sent his children there and said that was no reason for closing the school. ... We had many of the best families in town sending their children and they are feeling very badly about it. There were nearly 1500 pupils in both schools and about 50 teachers. ... This has advertised the school and called attention to the Cause and what they are working for more than anything else that could have happened. ... Shoghi Effendi has written for us to be patient and not make any disturbance but persevere and keep trying to gain religious liberty, that the school will again open and things will be better than ever. 
(Baha’i News, no. 96, December 1935)

September 6, 2018

Progressive unfoldment of the Bábi Revelation

[in 1844] the Author of the Bábí Revelation had declared His mission to Mullá Ḥusayn in the privacy of His home in Shíráz. Three years after that Declaration, within the walls of the prison-fortress of Máh-Kú, He was dictating to His amanuensis the fundamental and distinguishing precepts of His Dispensation. A year later, His followers, under the actual leadership of Bahá’u’lláh, their fellow-disciple, were themselves, in the hamlet of Badasht, abrogating the Qur’ánic Law, repudiating both the divinely-ordained and man-made precepts of the Faith of Muḥammad, and shaking off the shackles of its antiquated system. Almost immediately after, the Báb Himself, still a prisoner, was vindicating the acts of His disciples by asserting, formally and unreservedly, His claim to be the promised Qá’im, in the presence of the Heir to the Throne, the leading exponents of the Shaykhí community, and the most illustrious ecclesiastical dignitaries assembled in the capital of Ádhirbayján. 
- Shoghi Effendi  (‘God Passes By’)

September 5, 2018

circa 1935: Mount Carmel

View taken by Miss Effie Baker to show the general area of land surrounding the Shrine which has come under Baha’i ownership and control. 
(Baha’i News, no. 97, January 1936)

September 3, 2018

On closing of Tarbiyat schools in 1934 by government – the Guardian explains

With regard to the closing of the Tarbiyat Schools: the school authorities have, in enforcing the observance of Baha’i anniversaries, acted on the advice and direction of the Guardian. These Schools, being independent and official Baha’i institutions, could not very well ignore, much less violate the express provisions and laws of the Aqdas. Had they any connection with government institutions, or had their ownership and control been shared by non-Baha’is, the situation would have been different. This distinction between institutions that are under full or partial Baha’i control is of a fundamental importance. Institutions that are entirely managed by Baha’is are, for reasons that are only too obvious, under the obligation of enforcing all the laws and ordinances of the Faith, especially those whose observance constitutes a matter of conscience. There is no reason, no justification whatever, that they should act otherwise, and any restriction should also take into consideration the rights and interests of their non-Baha’i partners and associates, and not to force these to stop working when they are under no moral or religious obligation to do so.

August 28, 2018

Total number of National Spiritual Assemblies as of Ridvan 1983 --> 135

Among the outstanding features of the teaching and consolidation work are the continuing effective results of the participation of more than sixteen thousand believers from all parts of the world in the five International Conferences; intensive teaching campaigns carried out with the active support of all levels of the community and drawing upon the enthusiasm and capacity of Baha'i youth; the establishment of a second radio station in South America; the re-formation of the National Spiritual Assemblies of Uganda and Nepal, and the establishment of nine new National Spiritual Assemblies, two of which will be elected during the month of May this year, bringing the total of these secondary Houses of Justice to 135. 
- The Universal House of Justice  (Ridvan 1983 message of the Universal House of Justice)

August 25, 2018

1979-1982: Passing of five Hands of the Cause

Enoch Olinga (1979), Rahmatu'llah Muhajir (1979), Hasan A Balyuzi (1980), Abu'l-Qasim Faizi (1980), Adelbert Muehlschlegel (1980), and Paul Haney (1982).
(Adapted from explanatory notes included in ‘Messages from the Universal House of Justice 1963-1986’)

August 20, 2018

July 1957: Establishment of “a spiritual axis, extending from the Antipodes to the northern islands of the Pacific Ocean”

...The emergence of a new Regional Spiritual Assembly in the North Pacific Area [1], with its seat fixed in the capital city of a country which by reason of its innate capacity and the spiritual receptivity it has acquired, in consequence of the severe and prolonged ordeal its entire population has providentially experienced, is destined to have a preponderating share in awakening the peoples and races inhabiting the entire Pacific area, to the Message of Bahá'u'lláh, and to act as the Vanguard of His hosts in their future spiritual conquest of the main body of the yellow race on the Chinese mainland -- the emergence of such an assembly may be said to have, at long last established a spiritual axis, extending from the Antipodes to the northern islands of the Pacific Ocean -- an axis whose northern and southern poles will act as powerful magnets, endowed with exceptional spiritual potency, and towards which younger and less experienced communities will tend for some time to gravitate. 
- Shoghi Effendi  (From a message dated 19 July 1957 to the National Spiritual Assembly of Australia; ‘Letters from the Guardian to Australia and New Zealand’)
[1] National Spiritual Assembly of North East Asia, with its seat in Tokyo, Japan.]

August 14, 2018

Some dates associated with three Baha’i Houses of Worship: Ishqabad, India, and Australia

Construction of the first Baha'i House of Worship in 'Ishqabad, Russia, began in 1902 and was completed circa 1921. The House of Worship in India is near New Delhi; it was dedicated 23-27 December 1986. The House of Worship in Australasia, outside of Sydney in Ingleside, was dedicated on 16 September 1961. 
(Explanatory notes included in ‘Messages from the Universal House of Justice 1963-1986’)

August 12, 2018

February 12-18, 1953: Hands of the Cause attending the First intercontinental Baha'i Conference in Kampala, Uganda, Africa

Left to right: Musa Banani, Valiyu'llah Varqa, Shu'a'u'llah 'Ala’i, Mason Remey, Horace Holley, Tarazu'llah Samandari, Dhikru'llah Khadem, Leroy Ioas, Dorothy Baker, 'Ali-Akbar Furutan. The Kampala Haziratu'I-Quds is in the background. 
(The Baha’i World 1950-1954)

August 8, 2018

April 1934: First National Baha’i Convention in Iran - First National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’is of Iran

This Ridvan will go down in the history of Baha’i Persia because during the feast days the first national Baha’i Convention met in Tihran and elected the first National Assembly of Persia, with 84 delegates present from all over the country. Friends in the West will appreciate what achievement such a gathering represents in a country where travel is still a considerable adventure and where even a brief stay in the capital entails a long absence from home.

The delegates made their headquarters at the Haziratu’l-Quds, where the Central Assembly and the Service Committee had made the necessary arrangements for their reception; all kinds of furniture, beds, tables and the like had been requisitioned from Baha’is throughout town, and the fact that the delegates were in a sense the house guests of the Tihran friends added to the pleasure of the Convention. Many of the local friends entertained the delegates, both at the Haziratu’-l-Quds and at their homes; the social aspects of the Convention were highly important because the Persian friends of different centres cannot communicate with one another with the frequency enjoyed in the West. A significant event of this Convention was the sending of representatives by the four women’s committees to report to the delegates and submit their program for the coming year.

The members of the National Assembly are as follows:
Jenabi Fazel Mazandarani.
Haji Ghulam Reza Amin Amin.
Mirza Valiullah Khan Varqa.
Dr. Yunis Khan Afrukhtih.
Mirza Shuaullah Khan Alai.
Mirza Ahmed Khan Yazdani.
Mirza Ali Akbar Khan Froutan.
Mirza Mahmud Khan Badiyi.
Mirza Enayatullah Ahmed Poor.
(Baha’i News, no. 86, August 1934)

August 6, 2018

Teachers sent to America by ‘Abdu’l-Baha

The following is the list of the four teachers whom the Master sent to America in order to spread the Cause.... Their names are as follows: ‘Abdu’l-Karim, Haji Mirza Hasan, Mirza ‘Abdu’l-Fadl and Mirza Asadu’llah.
- Shoghi Effendi  (From a letter dated December 14, 1933, written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the NSA of the United States and Canada; Baha’i News, no. 81, February 1934; also a note in Baha'i News, no. 83, May 1934)

August 1, 2018

Countries Opened to the Faith of Baha'u'liah from 1844 to 1921 – by Shoghi Effendi

Listed alphabetically:

Period of the Báb's Ministry (1844-1853)
  • Iraq 
  • Persia
Period of Bahá'u'lláh's Ministry (1853-1892)
  • Adhirbayjan
  • Armenia
  • Burma
  • Egypt
  • Georgia 
  • India
  •  Israel
  • Lebanon
  •  Pakistan
  • Sudan
  • Syria
  • Turkey
  • Turkmenistan
Period of 'Abdu'l-Bahá's Ministry (1892-1921)

July 28, 2018

July 24, 2018

The Báb orally assured some of His followers that they would personally meet Baha’u’llah

Some of His disciples the Báb assiduously prepared to expect the imminent Revelation. Others He orally assured would live to see its day. To Mulla Baqir, one of the Letters of the Living, He actually prophesied, in a Tablet addressed to him, that he would meet the Promised One face to face. To Sayyah, another disciple, He gave verbally a similar assurance. Mulla Husayn He directed to Tihran, assuring him that in that city was enshrined a Mystery Whose light neither Hijaz nor Shiraz could rival. Quddus, on the eve of his final separation from Him, was promised that he would attain the presence of the One Who was the sole Object of their adoration and love. To Shaykh Hasan-i-Zunuzi He declared while in Mah-Ku that he would behold in Karbila the countenance of the promised Husayn. On Dayyan He conferred the title of "the third Letter to believe in Him Whom God shall make manifest," while to Azim He divulged, in the Kitáb-i-Panj-Sha'n, the name, and announced the approaching advent, of Him Who was to consummate His own Revelation. 
- Shoghi Effendi  (‘God Passes By’)

June 24, 2018

First Baha’i in Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Dorothy Sheets was the first Bahá’í to declare her belief in Bahá’u’lláh in Calgary. She later pioneered to Regina, Saskatchewan and to Newfoundland. Dorothy passed away in 1997. 
(Adapted from the Footnotes included in ‘Messages to Canada’)

June 19, 2018

1923: First election of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’is of England

The first meeting of the elected “National Spiritual Assembly” took place in London on 13 October 1923. 
(Footnote to a message from Shoghi Effendi to 'The beloved of the Lord and the handmaids of the Merciful throughout London, Manchester and Bournemouth, care of the members of the National Spiritual Assembly, 17 February, 1923'; ‘Unfolding Destiny’)

June 15, 2018

1939: First pioneer to Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Doris Skinner, a Bahá’í from Vancouver, was the first pioneer to Calgary in 1939, until 1949, when she pioneered to Newfoundland. 
(Adapted from the Footnotes included in ‘Messages to Canada’)

June 12, 2018

Siyah-Chal (The Black Pit) of Tehran – a depiction

Upon Our arrival We were first conducted along a pitch-black corridor, from whence We descended three steep flights of stairs to the place of confinement assigned to Us. 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! 
- Baha'u'llah  (‘Epistle to the Son of the Wolf’)

June 10, 2018

1939: First pioneer to Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada

Beulah S. Proctor, an American believer, was the first pioneer, with her daughter, to Halifax in 1939. She died 1958. 
(Adapted from the Footnotes in ‘Messages to Canada’)

June 7, 2018

19th Century Persia: System used for surnames

In times past the people of Persia had no surnames, but in many instances they were known by the name of the district, city, town, or even the village from which they came: for example, Khurasani, Mazindarani, Tihrani, Isfahani, and Shirazi. There were also various honorific prefixes and suffixes by which a person was distinguished. A descendant of the Prophet Muhammad had (and has) the prefix of 'Siyyid'. At times, 'Mirza' took the place of 'Siyyid', and at times the two were used together. 'Mirza' by itself did not denote any particular ancestry, except when placed after a proper name to mark royal descent. The suffix 'Khan' served at one time as a title, but with passing years, it became merely honorific, even meaningless, and at no time was it a surname. The prefix 'Haji' or 'Haj' indicated then, as now, one who had made the pilgrimage to Mecca. Mashhadi and Karbila'i, as prefixes, marked pilgrimage to Mashhad or Karbila, but as suffixes pointed out nativity. There were also innumerable titles conferred by the sovereign in Iran, consisting of diverse combinations, sometimes ludicrous, sometimes grammatically impossible. Occasionally they indicated a definite rank and profession. As time passed, these titles multiplied absurdly, until they were swept away by legislation in the 1920's. Finally, a person was often distinguished from others by a combination of prefixes and suffixes attached to his name which, if omitted, might cause him to be taken for another Person. 
- H.M. Balyuzi  (‘The Bab The Herald of the Day of Days’)

June 1, 2018

1982: Commemorating the fiftieth anniversary of the passing of the Greatest Holy Leaf - The five international conferences of the Seven Year Plan

The five international conferences of the Seven Year Plan were called to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of the passing of the Greatest Holy Leaf, to discuss anew the present condition of the Faith in a turbulent world society, to examine the great opportunities for its future growth and development, and to focus attention on the unfulfilled goals of the Plan. We are certain that the contemplation of the gathered friends on the sterling qualities which distinguished the heroic life of the Greatest Holy Leaf will help them to persevere in their noble endeavours. 
- The Universal House of Justice  (From a message to the International Conference in Canberra, Australia, 2, September 1982; ‘Messages from the Universal House of justice 1963-1986’)

May 22, 2018

2001 - The Inauguration of the International Teaching Center Building on Mount Carmel, Haifa, Israel

14 January 2001

To the Conference Marking the Inauguration of the International Teaching Center Building

Dearly loved Friends,

We are filled with a sense of triumph as we reflect on the significance of the occupation by the International Teaching Center of its permanent seat on the Mountain of the Lord. This occasion marks the beginning of what future generations will regard as a splendid chapter in the annals of our Faith.

What joy that the Hands of the Cause of God ‘Alí-Akbar Furútan and ‘Alí-Muḥammad Varqá are able to participate in these proceedings! We acknowledge the great debt of gratitude owed to them and to the departed ones of their exalted rank for so much of what we have come to celebrate.

And how fitting it is that the Continental Counselors and their deputies from the five continents are here to witness such an auspicious beginning! The attendance of the Auxiliary Board members is so unusual a feature of the gathering that we are impelled to address our remarks particularly to them. Indeed, on no occasion in the past have the major constituents of the institution of the Counselors ever assembled in the Holy Land.

April 26, 2018

1932: The first Local Spiritual Assembly of Baha’is in North America becomes incorporated

Under date of February 16, 1932, incorporation papers were filed with the Recorder of Deeds of Cook County, Illinois, to meet the requirements of the Illinois State laws for religious organizations. We quote the following paragraph which was used as an introduction to the Articles of Incorporation and By-Laws:

“The Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’is of Chicago adopts this form of corporate association in order to supply proper legal status to its conduct of the affairs of a religious community, which has had continuous existence for thirty-six years, and continuous organized existence since 1901 A.D., in the City of Chicago, County of Cook, and State of Illinois, being the first local Baha’i community established in North America. During the period from 1901 to the present date the Spiritual Assembly has been recognized, encouraged and instructed in nineteen Tablets and letters addressed to it by ’Abdu’l-Baha. This first Local Spiritual Assembly of Baha’is in North America was vested with the responsibility of founding the first Baha’i Temple -- Mashriqu’l-Adhkar -- in the Western Hemisphere, until the organization of a National Body in 1909 A.D. The Spiritual Assembly was visited by ‘Abdu’l-Baha three times in the year 1912, during His sojourn in North America. The Spiritual Assembly has been recognized since the Ascension of ’Abdu’l-Baha in letters addressed to it by the Guardian of the Baha’i Faith. The Chicago Baha’i community has been continuously and uninterruptedly represented by delegates in the Annual Meetings held by the recognized National Baha’i body of North America, since the foundation of that body in 1909 A.D. The Spiritual Assembly is at present enrolled in the list of Local Spiritual Assemblies recognized by the National Spiritual Assembly.

“The members of the Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’is of Chicago have taken this action in full unanimity and agreement. They acknowledge for themselves and on behalf of their successors the sacred meaning and universal purpose of the Baha’i Faith, the teachings and principles of which fulfill the divine promise of all former religions.” 
(Baha’i News, no. 60, March 1932)

April 17, 2018

Lawh-i-Hawdaj (Tablet of the Howdah) – possibly the first Tablet revealed by Baha’u’llah after He left Baghdad

Bahá'u'lláh on many occasions had warned His companions of their fate and of the calamities which would befall them in future. Now He predicted dire afflictions in the Lawh-i-Hawdaj (Tablet of the Howdah) revealed in Arabic in the port of Samsun on His way to Constantinople. At the request of His amanuensis, Mirza Aqa Jan, He revealed this Tablet as He sighted the Black Sea from His howdah. As far as we know this was the first Tablet revealed by Bahá'u'lláh after He left Baghdad. In it He referred to the forthcoming voyage by sea and stated that it had been foreshadowed in the Tablet of the Holy Mariner. Thus he linked the Tablet of Hawdaj with the Holy Mariner and mentioned that the study of these two Tablets would enable the believers to understand the mysteries of the Cause of God and become strong in faith. The dire predictions already foreshadowed in the Tablet of the Holy Mariner would come to pass, He affirmed, and He further warned His companions of the 'grievous and tormenting mischief' which would assail them from every direction, and would act as a divine touchstone through which the faith of every one would be severely tested and truth separated from falsehood.

Probably few among His companions realized that this 'grievous and tormenting mischief' would emanate from Bahá'u'lláh's own half-brother Mirza Yahya, precipitating a crisis of enormous proportions within the community, or that he would become the embodiment of man's rebelliousness, the centre of all the forces of darkness, who would arise to battle with the light of God's Supreme Manifestation.
- Adib Taherzadeh  (‘The Revelation of Baha'u'llah vol. 2’)

April 16, 2018

1931: Tablet of the Báb Found in British Museum

I think the friends will be interested in hearing of our finding the Star Tablet of the Báb.

A year ago, while in London, Wanden La Farge and I went every day to the British Museum to compile a list of original Baha’i manuscripts. Each morning at ten o’clock we knocked on the little hidden door of the Oriental room. An iron bar was pulled back from within and we found ourselves in the midst of impressive Oriental scholars completely absorbed in poring over ancient manuscripts. So deep and profound was the silence that, to ask for what was necessary, one was obliged to lower the voice to a shadowy whisper. After several days of cataloging and not being able to find any trace of the Tablet to Queen Victoria, the head of the department suggested that we might ask for an interview with the Curator of the Museum. This was a special privilege which was granted, the Director receiving us with the utmost cordiality and showed a lively interest in our quest. He assured us that the Tablet we so specially sought had never been in the British Museum, but that, after the death of Prof. E.G. Brown, his heirs had sent one original Baha’i manuscript to the Museum. This, however, was not written by either Baha’u’llah or ‘Abdu’l-Baha so it might not be of value to us at this time. This news was a great disappointment until he added, “It is in the hand of ‘Ali Muhammad, the Báb.” At this unexpected and wonderful news we asked if it was possible to see it. It is too valuable to be on view, he replied, but I will send for it. It proved to be a single sheet of heavy vellum inscribed in the delicate handwriting of the Báb, illuminated in exquisite colors and so written as to form a star.

April 12, 2018

Johanna Sorensen – The first Baha’i in Denmark

“The Danish people are fine in calibre and have some new and very good ideas about education and culture for the masses,” writes Miss Martha Root, who reached Copenhagen, Denmark, on April 28, 1927. Miss Johanna Sorensen, a beautiful Baha’i and the first believer in Denmark, had arranged a splendid program of events. April twenty-eighth, the two Baha’is visited the three largest newspapers and explained about the Cause to the editors and gave them literature. Miss Sorensen had translated into Danish and published “What is the Baha’i Movement” and “Baha’u’llah and His Message,” both by Dr. Esslemont and these attractive booklets were a great help. English books were also given and a photograph of ‘Abdu’l-Baha. Three articles appeared during the week, a woman writer came to the hotel and next day published an interview. Books were placed in the Royal Library which is Denmark’s greatest library. A letter was written to the King and Queen and Crown Prince of Denmark and left with three Baha’i books at the palace. Their Majesties were not in Denmark at this time. 
(Baha’i News, no. 19, August 1927)

April 8, 2018

Dr. August Forel – how he heard about the Faith

Yesterday, I [Martha Root] spent the day with our glorious Baha’i brother, Dr. August Forel, the European scientist, at his home in Yvorne. You cannot imagine the importance of his influence in Europe and in other continents! Though he is now such an invalid, still he is always thinking of the Baha’i Cause and doing something to promote it. I was astonished at what he thought of yesterday and he actually wrote it and sent it! Still, the rest of us may find courage in the fact that Dr. August Forel first heard of the Teachings from his son-in-law Dr. Arthur Brauns who first knew of the Cause from a Baha’i lecture which Mr. William Herrigel, I think, gave in Carlsruhe, Germany. If we faithfully keep on “giving the Message”, this truth of Baha’u’llah will illumine the world. It was Peter and James and John’s faithfulness which brought the divine civilization of Christianity to the western world. 
- Martha Root  (Baha’i News, no. 32, May 1929)

April 5, 2018

1927: First Baha’i Funeral Service in the East

From Miss Effie Baker, at the American Pilgrim House, Haifa, we learn the significant fact that the services held to observe the passing of Mirza Mohsen Afnan were entirely Baha’i without admixture of Moslem elements -- the first entirely Baha’i funeral service to be held in a Moslem environment. Thus slowly but surely the Cause asserts itself as an independent Religion founded upon new laws and teachings and giving rise to new customs and observances not reflecting superstition and man-made tradition. 
(Baha’i News, no. 19, August 1927)

March 26, 2018

Milosh Wurm – The first Baha’i in Czechoslovakia

…Milosh Wurm, the first to become a Baha’i in Czechoslovakia, the first to publish a Baha’i book in Czech language and the first to promote these Teachings in his country. 
(Martha Root, Baha’i News, no. 32, May 1929)

March 20, 2018

1927: Baha’i books were presented to the President of German Republic and other officials during a visit by Martha Root

A letter dated February 20, 1927, from Martha L. Root states that she has visited and given public lectures in sixteen cities in Germany. Shoghi Effendi had told her if she could visit all the Baha’i centres in Germany it would be very good… She was one of the speakers at a Peace Society meeting when five hundred people were present.

“The Promulgation of Universal Peace” was presented to President von Hindenburg of the German Republic. The following letter of thanks was received: 

“The President of the German Republic tenders his best thanks for the book The Promulgation of Universal Peace, which was presented to him. The President has had the book forwarded to the library of the Foreign Office.”

Other Baha’i books were presented to Dr. Gustav Stresemann, chief of the Foreign Office; Dr. Loebe, President of the Reichstag, and books were sent to Mr. Bronislaw Huberman, the great violinist. Mr. Huberman wrote that he would study them.

Miss Root further wrote that she felt there was no city in the world more important for Baha’i teachers to visit than Berlin. If some very scholarly Baha’i teacher could go and live for one year in Berlin as Mirza ’Abul’ Fazl came to the United States, it might mean that a thousand great teachers would eventually go out from Berlin. 
(Baha’i News, no. 19, August 1927)

March 15, 2018

1927: Third National Baha’i Convention of the Baha’is of the United States and Canada was held in Montreal, Canada

The invitation of the Montreal Spiritual Assembly, extended by them for three successive years, and twice graciously withdrawn in favor of Green Acre and San Francisco, has been gratefully accepted by the National Assembly, and the friends are informed that the Nineteenth Annual Baha’i Convention and Congress will be held in that city during Ridvan. The exact date and other details will be announced at a later time. Meanwhile we should not overlook two significant facts: first, that the forthcoming Convention will be the first held in Canada; and second, that with the fulfilment of the Baha’i number, nineteen, a new spiritual cycle will unfold in the history of the Cause in America. 
(Baha’i News, no. 14. November 1926)

March 13, 2018

Fall of 1925: The first issue of “The Herald of the South” magazine is published for Australia and New Zealand

From Auckland, New Zealand comes the first issue of a newly established Baha’i magazine for Australia and New Zealand. Its title is “The Herald of the South” and this constructive service on the part of our Australian and New Zealand brothers contains every evidence of wide-spread future success. It is issued by Mrs. A.E. Dewing, 5 Aldred Road, Remuera, Auckland. New Zealand. 
(Baha’i News, no. 8, November 1925)

March 9, 2018

Summer of 1849 to summer of 1850: “one of the most glorious chapters ever recorded” in the bloodstained history of the Bábí Faith

The… year from the summer of 1849 to the summer of 1850, witnessed a number of signal events in the ministry of the Báb:
  • May 1849 had marked the termination of the eleven-month-long Mazindaran upheaval at Shaykh Tabarsi and the martyrdom of Quddus, the last Letter of the Living and the foremost disciple of the Báb.
  • Persecution of the Babis erupted with unprecedented ferocity in the opening months of 1850:
    • In Tihran occurred the episode of the Seven Martyrs.
    • In Yazd, Siyyid Yahyay-i-Darabi (Vahid) became embroiled in agitation against the Faith of the Báb and had to leave, but in Nayriz (in the province of Fars in the south of Persia), he and his companions were surrounded, and fell eventually to treachery on the part of his opponents.
    • At Zanjan, in the north, the Shi'ih 'ulama incited the people against the redoubtable Mulla Muhammad Ali (Hujjat), a conflict that was to continue to the end of the year, with an outcome equally tragic.
  • Finally, the Báb, Himself, was martyred in July 1850 in Tabriz. 
(Adapted from ‘Baha’u’llah, the King of Glory’, by Hand of the Cause Hassan Balyuzi)

March 4, 2018

Baha’i community in the United States – as of Sept. 2015

There are about 175,000 Bahá’ís in the United States (less than one percent of the nation’s population), residing in more than 9,000 localities. The makeup of the faith’s adherents is very diverse. The largest communities are in California, Georgia, Illinois, South Carolina, and Texas. There are Bahá’í communities in every state. 
(From ‘Information about the Bahá'í Faith for Funeral Directors’, a document available at US National website)

February 28, 2018

1921 to about 1946: World convulsions synchronized with Plans of the Faith

The series of world convulsions with which the Plans synchronized included World War II, the outbreak of which threatened the security of the World Centre itself. The German Baha'is faced grave danger throughout the Nazi period; their activities as a community were banned, and some of their members were killed. Instances of crises within the Faith were those instigated by the relatives of Shoghi Effendi who rebelled against his authority as Guardian of the Cause of God and were ultimately expelled from the Faith as Covenant-breakers. Also troublesome during the 1930s and 1940s were the activities of a former secretary to 'Abdu'l-Baha, Ahmad Sohrab, who also violated the provisions of Baha'u'llah's Covenant and was expelled from the Faith by Shoghi Effendi. 
(Source: footnote to a message from the Universal House of Justice to the friends gathered at the Baha'i International Conference in Montreal, 5 September 1982; Messages from the Universal House of Justice 1963-1986)

February 25, 2018

Victories by North American Baha’is include…

Foremost among the victories won by the North American Baha'is during the first and second Seven Year Plans (1937-44 and 1946-53) was the establishment of the Administrative Order in Central and South America and Europe. The North American Baha'is have also played a major role in establishing the Administrative Order in Africa, Asia, and Australasia. 
(Source: footnote to a message from the Universal House of Justice to the friends gathered at the Baha'i International Conference in Montreal, 5 September 1982; Messages from the Universal House of Justice 1963-1986)

February 22, 2018

circa 1930: Public Bath in Shiraz

Views of the public bath in Shiraz where the Báb went as a child
(The Dawn-Breakers)

February 17, 2018

Mirzá Muhammad-Báir - the first in Mashhad, Persia, to embrace the Cause of the Báb; - builder of Bábíyyih, the first Baha’i center; designer of structural reinforcement of Fort Tabarsi; lieutenant and trusted counsellor of Quddús

Mírzá Muhammad-Báqir, known as Haratí, though originally a resident of Qayin. He was a close relative of the father of Nabíl-i-Akbar, and was the first in Mashhad to embrace the Cause. It was he who built the Bábíyyih, and who devotedly served Quddús during his sojourn in that city. When Mullá Husayn hoisted the Black Standard, he, together with his child, Mírzá Muhammad-Kázim, eagerly enrolled under his banner and went forth with him to Mázindarán… It was Mírzá Muḥammad-Báqir who acted as the standard-bearer of the company, who designed the plan of the fort, its walls and turrets and the moat which surrounded it, who succeeded Mullá Husayn in organising the forces of his companions and in leading the charge against the enemy, and who acted as the intimate companion, the lieutenant and trusted counsellor of Quddús until the hour when he fell a martyr in the path of the Cause. 
- Nabil  (‘The Dawn-Breakers’; translated and edited by Shoghi Effendi)

February 14, 2018

Mulla Husayn’s brother and nephew were both among the Letters of the Living – they were martyred at Fort Tabarsi

Mírzá Muḥammad-Báqir, the nephew of Mullá Husayn. He, as well as Mírzá Muḥammad-Ḥasan, accompanied Mullá Ḥusayn from Bushrúyih to Karbilá and from thence to Shíráz, where they embraced the Message of the Báb and were enrolled among the Letters of the Living. With the exception of the journey of Mullá Husayn to the castle of Máh-Kú, they continued to be with him until the time they suffered martyrdom in the fort of Tabarsí. 
- Nabil  (‘The Dawn-Breakers’; translated and edited by Shoghi Effendi)

February 5, 2018

The Dawn-Breakers - the second book the Guardian translated into English

During that same year [1930] the Guardian began work on the second book published during this period, a work that was neither a translation of Bahá'u'lláh's words nor one of Shoghi Effendi's general letters, but which must be considered a literary masterpiece and one of his most priceless gifts for all time. This was the translation of the first part of the narrative compiled by a contemporary follower of both the Báb and Bahá'u'lláh known as Nabil, which was published in 1932 under the title The Dawn-Breakers. If the critic and sceptic should be tempted to dismiss the literature of the Bahá'í Faith as typical of the better class of religious books designed for the initiate only, he could not for a moment so brush aside a volume of the quality of Nabil's Narrative , which deserves to be counted as a classic among epic narratives in the English tongue. Although ostensibly a translation from the original Persian Shoghi Effendi may be said to have re-created it in English, his translation being comparable to Fitzgerald's rendering of Omar Khayyam's Rubaiyat which gave to the world a poem in a foreign language that in many ways far exceeded the merits of the original. The best and most descriptive comments on this masterpiece of the Guardian are to be found in the words of prominent non-Bahá'ís. The playwright Gordon Bottemley wrote: " with it has been one of the salient experiences of a lifetime; but beyond that it was a moving experience both in itself and through the psychological light it throws on the New Testament narrative." The well-known scholar and humanitarian, Dr Alfred W. Martin of the Ethical Culture Society, in his letter of thanks to Shoghi Effendi for sending him Nabil's Narrative wrote: "Your magnificent and monumental work...will be a classic and a standard for all time to come. I marvel beyond measure at your ability to prepare such a work for the press over and above all the activities which your regular professional position devolves upon you." One of his old professors, Bayard Dodge of the American University of Beirut, after receiving the gift of Nabil's Narrative from the Guardian wrote to him: "...The last book - The Dawn-Breakers - is an especially valuable contribution. In congratulate you heartily for publishing it. You must have worked very hard to produce such a splendid translation, with such very interesting notes and photographs."
- Ruhiyyih Khanum  ('The Priceless Pearl')

February 1, 2018

The first book the Guardian translated into English - The Kitáb-i-Iqán (The Book of Certitude)

Concurrent with the period when these first illuminating letters on such major subjects were streaming from the pen of Shoghi Effendi, he undertook the translation of two books. In a letter written on 4 July 1930 Shoghi Effendi says "I feel exceedingly tired after a strenuous year of work, particularly as I have managed to add to my labours the translation of the Íqán, which I have already sent to America." This was the first of his major translations, Bahá'u'lláh's great exposition on the station and role of the Manifestations of God, more particularly in the light of Islamic teachings and prophecies, known as the Kitáb-i-Íqán of Book of Certitude. It was an invaluable adjunct to the western Bahá'ís in their study of the Faith they had embraced and infinitely enriched their understanding of Divine Revelation. 
- Ruhiyyih Khanum  ('The Priceless Pearl')

January 28, 2018

Mulla Husayn – The Báb revealed eulogies and prayers concerning him equivalent to thrice the volume of the Qur’án

Mullá Husayn, surnamed the Bábu’l-Báb, the first to recognise and embrace the new Revelation. At the age of eighteen, he, too, departed from his native town of Bushrúyih in Khurásán for Karbilá, and for a period of nine years remained closely associated with Siyyid Kázim. Four years prior to the Declaration of the Báb, acting according to the instructions of Siyyid Kázim, he met in Isfáhán the learned mujtahid Siyyid Báqir-i-Rashtí and in Mashhad Mírzá Askarí, to both of whom he delivered with dignity and eloquence the messages with which he had been entrusted by his leader. The circumstances attending his martyrdom evoked the Báb’s inexpressible sorrow, a sorrow that found vent in eulogies and prayers of such great number as would be equivalent to thrice the volume of the Qur’án. In one of His visiting Tablets, the Báb asserts that the very dust of the ground where the remains of Mullá Husayn lie buried is endowed with such potency as to bring joy to the disconsolate and healing to the sick. In the Kitáb-i-Íqán, Bahá’u’lláh extols with still greater force the virtues of Mullá Husayn. “But for him,” He writes, “God would not have been established upon the seat of His mercy, nor have ascended the throne of eternal glory!”  
- Nabil  (‘The Dawn-Breakers’, translated and edited by Shoghi Effendi)  

January 25, 2018

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

First and foremost among them [“those who quaffed the cup of martyrdom while defending the fort of Tabarsí”] stands Quddús, upon whom the Báb bestowed the name of Ismu’lláhu’l-Akhar.  He, the Last Letter of the Living and the Báb’s chosen companion on His pilgrimage to Mecca and Medina, was, together with Mullá Ṣádiq and Mullá ‘Alí-Akbar-i-Ardistání, the first to suffer persecution on Persian soil for the sake of the Cause of God. He was only eighteen years of age when he left his native town of Barfurúsh for Karbilá. For about four years he sat at the feet of Siyyid Kázim, and at the age of twenty-two met and recognised his Beloved in Shíráz. Five years later, on the twenty-third day of Jamádiyu’th-Thání in the year 1265 A.H., [May 16, 1849 A.D.] he was destined to fall, in the Sabzih-Maydán of Barfurúsh, a victim of the most refined and wanton barbarity at the hands of the enemy. The Báb and, at a later time, Bahá’u’lláh have mourned in unnumbered Tablets and prayers his loss, and have lavished on him their eulogies. Such was the honour accorded to him by Bahá’u’lláh that in His commentary on the verse of Kullu’t-Tá’am, [Qur’án, 3:93] which He revealed while in Baghdád, He conferred upon him the unrivalled station of the Nuqṭiy-i-Ukhrá, [Literally “The Last Point] a station second to none except that of the Báb Himself. 
- Nabil  (‘The Dawn-Breakers’, translated and edited by Shoghi Effendi)