Cover, Baha'i World, 1925-1926
‘Abdu’l-Bahá ‘Abbás
Greatest Name
(Formerly: BAHÁ’Í YEAR BOOK)
A Biennial International Record
Prepared under the supervision of the National Spiritual Assembly
of the Bahá’ís of the United States and Canada
with the approval of Shoghi Effendi.
Volume II
APRIL 1926 — APRIL 1928
Bahá’í Publishing Committee
P. O. Box 348, Grand Central Station,
New York City, U. S. A.
Copyright, 1928, by National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís
of the United States and Canada.
NOTE: The spelling of the Oriental words and proper
names used in this issue of The Bahá’í World is according
to the system of transliteration established at one of the
International Oriental Congresses.
“0 Army of Life!”—Words of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá xvi
A Statement of the Purpose and Principles of the Bahá’í Faith and
Outline of Bahá’í History
The Passing of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá 7
Survey of Current Bahá’í Activities in the East and West 19
Excerpts from Bahá’í Sacred Writings 49
Soul, Mind, Spirit and the Essence of Divinity 64
A Statement on Present-Day Administration of the Bahá’í Cause 69
Excerpts from the Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá 81
The Spirit and Form of Bahá’í Administration 89
Declaration of Trust 90
By-Laws of the National Spiritual Assembly 92
Excerpts from Letters of Shoghi Effendi 99
Bahá’í Calendar and Festivals 109
Bahá’í Feasts, Anniversaries and Days of Fasting 110
The Mashriqu’l-Adhkar 113
Address of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá delivered at Bahá’í Convention,
Chicago, 1912
The Structure of the Bahá’í Temple 116
Address delivered by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá at the Dedication of the
Mashriqu’l-Adhkar Grounds, May 1912
The Mashriqu’l-Adhkar of ‘Ishqábád 121
Impressions of Haifa 125
Haifa, ‘Akká and Bahjí 129
Kunjangoon-The Village of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá 141
Through India and Burma 145
Green Acre and the Ideal of World Unity 151
References to the Bahá’í Faith 159
Queen Marie of Rumania pays tribute to the beauty and nobility
of the Bahá’í Teachings
Bahá’í Directory, 1928 181-191
Bahá’í National Spiritual Assemblies 181
Bahá’í Spiritual Assemblies 182
Bahá’í Groups with names and addresses of correspondents 185
Bahá’í Directory, 1928—Continued— Page
Bahá’í Groups 187
Bahá’í Administrative Divisions in Persia 187
Bahá’í Periodicals 190
Bahá’í Bibliography 193-211
Section One —List One: Bahá’í Publications of America 193
Section Two —List Two: Bahá’í Publications of England 197
—List Three: Bahá’í Literature in French 198
—List Four: Bahá’í Literature in German 198
—List Five: Partial List of Bahá’í Literature in
Oriental Languages
Section Three—Alphabetical List of Bahá’í books and pamphlets 201
Section Four—References to the Bahá’í Movement in
non-Bahá’í works
Section Five—References to the Bahá’í Movement in Magazines 210
Transliteration of Oriental Terms frequently used in Bahá’í Literature 213
Guide to the transliteration and pronunciation of the Persian Alphabet 214
Introduction to The Promulgation of Universal Peace 219
Poem—“A Prayer” 224
The Bahá’í Religion—Papers read at the Conference of Some Living
Religions Within the British Empire, 1924
Paper I—By Horace Holley 227
Paper II—By Rúḥí Effendi Afnán 239
Living Religions and the Bahá’í Movement 243
The Bahá’í Attitude Towards Muḥammad 251
A Modern Interpretation of Muḥammadanism 253
The World-Wide Influence of Quarratu’l-‘Ayn 257
Souvenir Feast of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá 263
The Bahá’í Cause at the Universal Esperanto Congresses at Edinburgh
and Danzig
On the Borders of Lake Leman 271
Translation of a Letter from the Israelitish Assembly of Bahá’ís of
Ṭihrán, Persia
Inter-Racial Amity 281
Appendix—Tablet to America revealed by Bahá’u’lláh 285
Bahá’í Persecutions in Persia—An Appeal to His Imperial Majesty
Reza Sháh Pahlavi
Appendix One—Summary of Bahá’í Teachings 294
Appendix Two—Excerpts from Letters of Bahá’u’lláh to the
Sultán of Turkey and the Sháh of Persia
Appendix Three—Words of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá concerning Persia 299
Contents of Volume I, Bahá’í Year Book 303
‘Abdu’l-Bahá ‘Abbás Frontispiece
The Fortress of Mákú where the Báb was incarcerated 2
The Sacred Tomb of Bahá’u’lláh showing part of the Mansion of Bahjí 6
The Sacred Tomb of the Báb and ‘Abdu’l-Bahá on Mt. Carmel. 12
Reception in honor of Rúḥí Effendi Afnán 20
Program of first Convention for Amity between the Colored and
White Races in America
Feast celebrating the seventieth anniversary of the birthday of
John D. Bosch, California
Hillside amphitheatre on the Griffith property, California 25
Pioneer group of Occidental Bahá’ís in Paris, France 29
Bahá’ís of Melbourne, Australia, and Miss Martha Root 29
A group of Bahá’ís at Baghdád, ‘Iráq 35
Delegates to the Annual Bahá’í Convention in Egypt 35
Dr. Susan I. Moody and Miss Elizabeth Stewart 36
Center of New Zealand and City of Nelson 41
First Bahá’í Feast held in Auckland, New Zealand, and Mr. and Mrs. Dunn 41
Bahá’í Japanese children 45
His honor Mírzá Abu’l-Faḍl, author of Bahá’í books 48
Bahá’í children of Karachi, India, and Madam Shírází, teacher 60
Ḥájí Maḥmúd Qassábchí, President of the Baghdád, ‘Iráq,
Spiritual Assembly
Interior of the Ḥazíratu’l-Quds, Baghdád, ‘Iráq 72
Bahá’ís of Alexandria, Egypt, at the Feast of Ridván 76
‘Abdu’l-Bahá when a young man 80
Facsimile of excerpt from the Will and Testament of Bahá’u’lláh 80
The Greatest Holy Leaf, Sister of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá 83
The Purest Branch, Brother of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá 83
Delegates and friends attending the Eighteenth Annual Convention of the
Bahá’ís of the United States and Canada, at San Francisco, California, 1926
Delegates and friends attending the Nineteenth Annual Convention of the
Bahá’ís of the United States and Canada, at Montreal, Canada, 1927
Entrance to the Garden of Ridván where Bahá’u’lláh declared His
Mission to the world
Views of the riverside of the Garden of Ridván, Baghdád, ‘Iráq 111
The Mashriqu’l-Adhkár—the first Bahá’í House of Worship in America 112
‘Abdu’l-Bahá on the Mashriqu’l-Adhkár Grounds, May I, 1912 120
The resting-place of two Bahá’ís representative of East and West: Mírzá
Nakílu’d-Dawlih and Dr. J. E. Esslemont
Bird’s-eye view of Haifa from the slopes of Mt. Carmel 124
Looking up the slope of Mt. Carmel 126
View of Sacred Shrine as seen from the main street of Haifa 126
View of the Holy Tomb of Bahá’u’lláh seen through the trees under which
He used to walk
Barracks at ‘Akká, Palestine, where Bahá’u’lláh was incarcerated in 1868 128
The Mansion of Bahjí. 131
Bahá’ís of Diadanow Kalozoo, Burma 140
Representative Bahá’ís of India 144
Bahá’í women of Burma 149
Bahá’í men of Burma 149
‘Abdu’l-Bahá at Green Acre, Maine, 1912 150
A group of Bahá’ís of Ṭihrán, Persia 158
Bahá’ís of Moscow (Soviet Russia) 166
Bahá’ís of Persia 170
Group of Bahá’í children of Aleppo, Syria 177
Delegates and friends attending the Twentieth Annual Convention of the
Bahá’ís of the United States and Canada, in the foundation hall of
the Temple at Wilmette, a suburb of Chicago, 1928
A group of Bahá’ís of Ṭihrán, Persia 188
Map showing Travels of the Báb and Bahá’u’lláh 192
Lincoln Hall, University of Illinois, where Bahá’í lectures are held 205
Urbana (Illinois) Bahá’í group 205
Bahá’í students of the American University of Beirut, Syria, 1927 212
Bahá’ís of Tunis 215
Howard MacNutt, prominent Bahá’í teacher, at the grave of Thornton Chase 218
Delegates and friends attending the Conference of Living Religions Within
the British Empire, at a reception given by Lady B1omfield, at
London, England, in the autumn of 1924
A Bahá’í class in Caucasus, Russia 238
Representative Bahá’ís of Caucasus 245
Teaching Committee of the Bahá’ís of Hamadán, Persia 250
Bahá’í ladies of Persia 256
Mme. Hainisch, mother of the President of Austria, interviewed by
Miss Martha Root
Bahá’í Feast, June 1926, commemorating Feast given by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá at
West Englewood, New Jersey, in 1912
Bahá’ís of Táshkand, Turkistán, in Central Asia 274
Convention for Amity between the White and Colored Races in America at
Springfield, Massachusetts, 1921
Bahá’í family martyred some years ago in Persia 286
IN 1924 the suggestion made to Shoghi Effendi, Guardian of the Bahá’í Cause, that an annual reference book be published on Bahá’í activities, found acceptance and fulfillment in the publication of Volume I of the Bahá’í Year Book.
It was believed that if the record of all the work of the Bahá’ís could be gathered together each year and the vital parts of such a record published, the result would be to assist the adherents of the Faith to more unified thought and action as well as disclose to others something of the significance of the world-wide Movement called into being by the Forerunner the Báb, the Founder Bahá’u’lláh, and the Exemplar and Interpreter ‘Abdu’l-Bahá.
The editors of Volume I expressed regret for the unavoidable emphasis placed upon the activities of the Bahá’ís of the United States and Canada. Likewise, the editors of Volume II feel that unavoidable emphasis is placed upon the activities of the Bahá’ís of the West in comparison with those of other countries.
Since the publication of Volume I in 1926, the name of the book has been changed according to the wish of Shoghi Effendi. Volume II bears the title: “ The Bahá’í World: A Biennial International Record,” and is dated April 1926-April 1928.
The articles and illustrations appearing in Volume II were passed upon by Shoghi Effendi, with the exception of the Survey of Current Activities and the Green Acre articles which were written at his request. In addition to the unique advantage of his Editorship, the manuscript was arranged by him in the order published. This means a book prepared under the personal supervision of the Guardian and Head of the Bahá’í Cause, who is a scholar of both Persian and English, having attended Oxford University.
Volume II should therefore prove of inestimable value to students of the Bahá’í Movement. Shoghi Effendi says of it: “I trust it will serve to awaken widespread and unprecedented interest in our beloved Cause . . . and that nothing will interfere with the speedy publication of a Book which the friends in many lands await eagerly.” The following excerpt from a letter from the Guardian to the Editorial Committee, through his secretary, emphasizes the importance he attaches to this publication:
Haifa, January 8, 1928.
. . . I feel I must express the true value which Shoghi Effendi has always attached to your deeply and generally appreciated labors in connection with the compilation and publication of the Bahá’í Year Book. Your work has been difficult and delicate, . . . but your resourcefulness, your industry and your devotion to the work you had taken up, has helped you in the past to produce a work which the Bahá’í world can very well be proud of and which has helped to encourage and sustain our beloved Guardian in the mighty task he shoulders. What you will do in future and how far-reaching the product of your labors will be in its influence and effect it is impossible to estimate. The field is endlessly wide, the opportunities incalculable, and the material promising and inexhaustible, but he feels sure that the strengthening power of faith, the unending activity of thoughtful enthusiasm and the unfailing blessings of His Grace will make you equal to the task and will crown your efforts with success.
Soheil Afnan.
The following was added to Soheil Afnán’s letter by Shoghi Effendi:
My very dear co-workers:
I trust that the matters explained on my behalf and at my request are clear and plain to you and that the alterations and additions I have suggested will be incorporated without any difficulty in Volume II. . . . I would also remind you of the absolute necessity of adhering faithfully throughout the pages of the Book to the correct system of transliteration, which if consistently adopted and followed will facilitate the pronunciation of Oriental terms with which the friends in the West are to be closely and increasingly associated in future. The Year Book should prove a model and help to them all. I fully and whole-heartedly approve of the idea of having the American National Assembly authorize the Year Book Committee to invite the co-operation and active participation of competent representative believers outside the United States and Canada for the strengthening of the very valuable work you are doing for our beloved Cause.
Your true and grateful brother,
Complying with the wishes of the Guardian, the Editorial Committee urge all National Spiritual Assemblies, throughout the Baha'i world to co-operate with them in sending material suitable for Volume III. Photographs and articles of interest should be sent as soon as possible. Reports to be incorporated in the Survey of Current Activities, should be in the hands of the Committee by November 1929. We believe the contents of Volume II will suggest the various materials desired for such a publication as The Bahá’í World. Especially valuable are articles and photographs that show the present progress of the Cause as well as a record of past events. Suggestions for the improvement of the Book will be heartily welcomed.
The Editorial Committee are grateful for the splendid photographs sent in for Volume II. A study of the faces reveals the vitalizing power of the Word of Bahá’u’lláh, especially in the Orient, and will be a source of great inspiration to the Bahá’ís of the world.
Correspondence should be addressed to The Bahá’í World, care of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of the United States and Canada, P. O. Box 89, Wall Street Station, New York City, N . Y., United States of America.
Horace Holley, Mariam Haney, Albert Windust, Editorial Secretary,
Victoria Bedikian (Photograph Editor).
Great Britain—
George P. Simpson.
Hippolyte Drefus-Barney.
Dr. Hermann Grossmann.
Jean Stannard.
Soheil Afnán.
‘Abdu’l Hossein Dekhan.
India and Burma—
Martha Root.
Guardian of the Bahá’í Cause
this work is dedicated
in the hope that it will assist
his efforts to promote
that spiritual unity
underlying and anticipating
the “Most Great Peace”
I.“0 Army of Life!”—Words of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá.
II.A Statement of the Purposes and Principles
of the Bahá’í Faith and Outline of Bahá’í
III.The Passing of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá.
IV. Survey of Current Bahá’í Activities in the
East and West.
O ARMY OF LIFE! East and West have joined to worship stars of faded splendor and have turned in prayer unto darkened horizons. Both have utterly neglected the broad foundation of God’s sacred laws, and have grown unmindful of the merits and virtues of His religion. They have regarded certain customs and conventions as the immutable basis of the Divine Faith, and have firmly established themselves therein. They have imagined themselves as having attained the glorious pinnacle of achievement and prosperity when in reality they have touched the innermost depths of heedlessness and deprived themselves wholly of God’s bountiful gifts.
The corner-stone of the Religion of God is the acquisition of the Divine perfections and the sharing in His manifold bestowals. The essential purpose of Faith and Belief is to ennoble the inner being of man with the outpourings of grace from on high. If this be not attained, it is indeed deprivation itself. It is the torment of infernal fire.
Wherefore it is incumbent upon all Bahá’ís to ponder this very delicate and vital matter in their hearts, that, unlike other religions, they may not content themselves with the noise, the clamor, the hollowness of religious doctrine. Nay, rather they should exemplify in every aspect of their lives those attributes and virtues that are born of God and should arise to distinguish themselves by their goodly behavior. They should justify their claim to be Bahá’ís by deeds and not by name.
He is a true Bahá’í who strives by day and by night to progress and advance along the path of human endeavor, whose most cherished desire is so to live and act as to enrich and illuminate the world, whose source of inspiration is the Essence of Divine Virtue, whose aim in life is so to conduct himself as to be the cause of infinite progress. Only when he attains unto such perfect gifts can it be said of him that he is a true Bahá’í. For in this holy Dispensation, the crowning glory of bygone ages and cycles, true Faith is no mere acknowledgment of the Unity of God, but rather the living of a life that will manifest all the perfections and virtues implied in such belief.
“The root of all learning is the knowledge of God—Exalted be His glory!—and this cannot be attained save through the knowledge of His divine Manifestation.” —Bahá’u’lláh: Words of Wisdom.
FOR more than eighty years, the Bahá’í Cause has been steadfastly presented to the world as the expression for this age of the same universal Spirit which in other ages spoke through Zoroaster, Muḥammad, the Buddha, Moses, Christ, one divine utterance and continuous purpose, giving forth one and the same message, albeit adapted to the conditions and human capacities of each time. In Bahá’u’lláh, according to His explicit text, the Message of God has been revealed to mankind in its fullness and universality, and the Bahá’í Cause accordingly represents the fulfillment of that which was but partially revealed in previous dispensations.
The objects of the Bahá’í Cause are identical with the true objects of all revealed religion: to raise man from the earthly to the heavenly condition; to substitute spiritual laws and realities for natural laws and realities operating in the darkness of unfaith; to initiate a new age and era of progress and attainment in the world of mind; to transform civilization into the glory of the Kingdom—but what has been partially revealed is now made complete and what has been cherished as the secret experience of a few souls is now established as the determining power molding the life of the world.
To achieve these objects, Bahá’u’lláh bestowed upon humanity a perfect model and criterion of truth, first, in His own life, then in His written teachings. The life of Bahá’u’lláh shows forth the same providential destiny as the lives of those Manifestations who arose in ancient and later times. It was the same victory of the Spirit beset by ignorance and hate; the same sacrifice, the same glory. But Bahá’u’lláh was not slain nor prevented from giving His full message. The written text surviving Him guides the faithful followers into all truth.
The utterances of Bahá’u’lláh convey the spirit of religion throughout the circle of the experiences of life. They enlarge the area of religion to include reality in all its forms. From them we derive science, philosophy and teachings on economic and governmental problems, as well as ethics and methods of spiritual purification and attainment.
“Baha'u'llah taught,” writes Dr. J. E. Esslemont, “that the Prophet, or ‘Manifestation of God,’ is the Light-bringer of the spiritual world, as the sun is the light-bringer of the natural world. Just as the material sun shines over the earth and causes the growth and development of material organisms, so also, through the divine Manifestation, the Sun of Truth shines upon the world of heart and soul, and educates the thoughts, morals and characters of men. And just as the rays of the natural sun have an influence which penetrates into the darkest
The Fortress of Mákú where the Báb was incarcerated
The Fortress of Mákú where the Báb was incarcerated
and shadiest corners of the world, giving warmth and life even to creatures that have never seen the sun itself; so also, the outpouring of the Holy Spirit through the Manifestation of God influences the lives of all, and inspires receptive minds even in places and among peoples where the name of the Prophet is quite unknown. The advent of the Manifestation is like the coming of the Spring. It is a day of resurrection in which the spiritually dead are raised to new life, in which the Reality of the Divine Religions is renewed and re-established, in which appear ‘new heavens and a new earth.’
“But, in the world of nature, the Spring brings about not only the growth and awakening of new life, but also the destruction and removal of the old and effete; for the same sun, that makes the flowers to spring and the trees to bud, causes also the decay and disintegration of what is dead and useless; it loosens the ice and melts the snow of winter, and sets free the flood and the storm that cleanse and purify the earth. So it is also in the spiritual world. The spiritual sunshine causes similar commotion and change. Thus the Day of Resurrection is also the Day of Judgment, in which corruptions and imitations of the truth and outworn ideas and customs are discarded and destroyed, in which the ice and snow of prejudice and superstition, which accumulated during the season of winter, are melted and transformed, and energies long frozen and pent up are released to flood and renovate the world.”
Religion renews the spirit of faith and confirms the ideals of the previous Prophets and Messengers; but Religion also progresses and in each cycle discloses a new aspect of truth. That which the Bahá’í Cause contains not revealed in any existing religion is the principle of the Oneness of Mankind.
It is in the light of this principle that all the Bahá’í writings are to be viewed and the purpose of this Movement considered. That a spiritual Power has been breathed into the soul of humanity in this age which shall remove all causes of difference, misunderstanding, discord and disagreement—causes resident in customs and institutions as well as in personal opinions and emotions—and establish the means and methods as well as the desire of unity—is of the essence of the Bahá’í teaching and faith. The rapidly altering character of human life throughout the world is one of the proofs of the mission of Bahá’u’lláh.
The principle of oneness involves so many readjustments, mental, social and spiritual, that the wars and strifes of these latter times have been inevitable. In the life and writings of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá we have the supreme effort to prepare humanity for the understanding of Bahá’u’lláh and the power manifest in Him. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá gave to Bahá’u’lláh’s message an interpretation directly and immediately applying to the nature of those readjustments. The interpretation is one with the message, as the sunlight is one with the sun. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá has revealed the significance of the Bahá’í Cause in setting forth the following Principles:
1.Unfettered search after truth and the abandonment of all superstition and prejudice.
2.The Oneness of Mankind: all are “leaves of one tree, flowers in one garden.”
3.Religion must be the cause of love and harmony, else it is no religion.
4.All religions are one in their fundamental principles.
5.Religion must conform with science. Faith and reason must be in full accord.
6.Universal Peace: the establishment of a universal League of Nations, of international arbitration and an International Parliament.
7.The adoption of an auxiliary international language which shall be taught in all the schools of the world.
8.Compulsory education especially for girls, who will be the mothers and the first educators of the next generation.
9.Equal opportunities of development and equal rights and privileges for both sexes.
10.Work for all: no idle rich and no idle poor. “Work in the spirit of service is worship.”
11.Abolition of extremes of poverty and wealth: care for the needy.
12.Recognition of the Unity of God and obedience to His commands as revealed through His divine Manifestations.
The history of the Bahá’í Cause, mirroring as it does the spiritual history of modern times, confirms these principles and shows how they have permeated the minds and hearts of its followers throughout the world.
Outline of Bahá’í History
The history of the past eighty years makes a startling record of momentous events, radical changes and new world issues emerging apparently without definite order and meaning, capable of many conflicting interpretations. But if one observes how action is expressive of thought, how thought is moved by will and desire, and how will and desire are formed by the quality of the personal or group understanding, it will become evident that an era so profoundly active in all directions and on all planes can only be accounted for by the presence of some Influence felt in the very soul of the world.
The history of the Bahá’í Cause is the explanation of this Influence—its swift movement and penetration from the heights to the depths of humanity. The Bahá’í Cause is more than an incident in history;—it is a clear Light illuminating the spiritual powers to which peoples, consciously or unconsciously, now respond. Apart from the Bahá’í Cause, modern world movements and tendencies seem sinister anarchy; but from within the Cause they assume perfect order and fullness of meaning.
The day will surely come when historians, working in the Light of the life and teachings of Bahá’u’lláh, will produce the true and complete narrative of these significant years, a narrative co-ordinating the visible events with their subtler causes, and bringing into unity the mental and moral as well as social issues involved. Meanwhile, the simplest statement recording the conditions under which the Bahá’í Movement was born and developed will be deeply moving to those who would know life as the path- way to God.
To read this record aright, one must discern the fruit latent in the seed and shaping in the bud. Without Bahá’u’lláh, the episode of the Báb has no lasting result or outcome; without ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, the influence of Baha'u'llah has no adequate instrument; without the application of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s final instructions His sacrifice would not serve to unify and renovate the world.
The first significant Bahá’í date is May 23, 1844.
At that time evidences of the dawn of a new Day were visible on every hand. Witnesses to this dawn arose in all countries and among all peoples, testifying in the name of poetry, art, science, philosophy and religion to the presence of a new, transforming Spirit. Materialists worked in hope to reform the body of society, while mystics felt the nearness of their Lord. From farthest East to farthest West the surfaces of habit and tradition broke asunder, and people tended to center around new and higher ideals.
The supreme expression of this universal awakening revealed itself in the heart of a radiant Youth of Persia known now as the Báb (i. e., Gate or Door) . To this Youth came the clear realization of His mission to proclaim the coming of a mighty Educator, the One longed for by all peoples, who would quicken the souls, illumine the minds, unify the consciences and remold the customs of mankind. The life of the Báb from May 23, 1844, to July 9, 1850, exemplified the pure spiritual destiny of the Prophets and Messengers of old. Through Him a large portion of the Muslim population of Persia became imbued with true faith, but against Him gathered the fanatic hatred of the Muslim clergy and the desperate fear of the civil rulers, and by their combined ef-
forts and influence the Báb was soon confined in prison, and on July 9, 1850, publicly martyred in Tabríz.
Those who lament that this is an age of dominant materialism may well ponder the results of the Bab’s mission in the heroic sacrifice of His faithful followers, many thousands of whom were tortured and slain with incredible brutality. Because these events took place in a Muslim land, and in a land peculiarly remote from European and American experience, little attention was paid to the Bábí movement in the West.
The motive animating the faith of the Bab’s followers was that His being and mission fulfilled the spirit of their own religious prophecy.
With Bahá’u’lláh, whose advent the Báb had foretold, the new Movement left behind its particular Muslim aspect and assumed a world-wide purpose and meaning. Bahá’u’lláh arose after the death of the Báb, took upon Himself full responsibility for leading a Movement proscribed by the government, and became the target for all the bitterness engendered by failure to extinguish the new light of faith . Bahá’u’lláh was imprisoned in Ṭihrán with murderers and criminals, bastinadoed, condemned to death, exiled to Baghdád, then to Constantinople and Adrianople, and finally confined for life in the desolate barracks of ‘Akká, a Turkish penal colony, facing Mount Carmel in the Holy Land.
On April 21, 1863, in a garden outside Baghdád, Bahá’u’lláh made known to a few followers that He was the One proclaimed and promised by the Bab. This announcement was made in His famous Epistles in Adrianople previous to the journey to ‘Akká, in 1868.
By this event the Bábí Movement was fulfilled in the Cause of Bahá’u’lláh (i. e., Glory of God), and the streams of Christian and Jewish prophecy united with the inner reality of the Muslim religion.
Bahá’u’lláh gave the glad-tidings to East and West that the Day of God had dawned, that the power of the Holy Spirit encompassed humanity in its time of greatest need, that a new and universal cycle had been established—the age of brotherhood, of peace, of the knowledge of God. This message was inscribed in Tablets or Epistles, written during His forty years of exile and imprisonment, to kings and rulers, to representatives of the several religions, to His own followers in response to questions they had addressed to Him, and in a great number of books containing the essence of universal religion, science and philosophy. In the annals of the world, no spiritual revelation has been so complete, nor made under such conditions of personal oppression and hardship.
The effect of Bahá’u’lláh Himself upon His followers, even upon His enemies, was unique and indescribable. About Him emanated a majesty that glorified every suffering, an awe that penetrated to the rudest soul, a consecrated love that portrayed man in his ultimate perfection.
Voluntarily sharing these fateful ordeals from very childhood was the son of Bahá’u’lláh, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá (i. e., Servant of Bahá) , whose confinement at ‘Akká, lasting forty years, was terminated at last in 1908 by the overthrow of the old regime by the Young Turks.
Bahá’u’lláh ascended (i. e., passed from this world) in 1892, leaving a Testament naming ‘Abdu’l-Bahá as the Head of His Cause, the Interpreter of His Teachings, and the Promulgator of His Faith. The providential spirit guiding and protecting the Bahá’í Cause from its beginning, centered thereafter in ‘Abdu’l-Bahá.
‘Abdu’l-Bahá served as the witness and proof of Bahá’u’lláh from 1892 until November 28, 1921. By His singleness of devotion, purity of life, tireless effort, humanitarian love and unfailing wisdom, the Bahá’í Message slowly but surely spread to all parts of the world. From 1911 to 1913, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá journeyed through Europe and America, unfolding before numerous audiences the spirit of the age. His addresses explore the fundamental problems of religion as an attitude toward God reflected in life. In these addresses we find the message of Bahá’u’lláh developed in relation to the needs of
civilization, and an organic harmony is created between religion, science, economics and the social order. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá expanded the religion of spirit to include all the functions of life, destroying forever the antagonism between "religious" and "secular" matters. But this religion of spirit bears little resemblance to institutional creeds.
In these addresses also we find vivid and inspiring pictures of the latent possibilities of the human soul and the new civilization which shall arise from the influence of the Holy Spirit. The adaptability of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá to the particular audience or individual inquirer produced a true unity between groups and interests never reconciled before. No such source of education in the whole meaning of the word exists in the modern world outside the writings of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. In these writings the ideals of Christian, Jew and other religionists, of philosopher and scientist, of economist and reformer are abundantly realized.
At the time of the passing of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, The Bahá’ís existed in many countries of the East and West. To these He left explicit instructions explaining and applying the teachings of Bahá’u’lláh, concerning the method of unifying the believers and administering the work of the Cause. He appointed in His Will and Testament His eldest grandson, Shoghi Effendi, as first Guardian of the Cause, and left directions for the election of an International Council (Baytu’l-‘Ahd’l, ·i. e., House of Justice) based on the universal suffrage of the believers, which should in conjunction with him guide the development of the Movement and co-ordinate the activities of its followers in accordance with the principles laid down by Bahá’u’lláh.
The Sacred Tomb of Bahá’u’lláh showing part of the Mansion of Bahjí
The Sacred Tomb of Bahá’u’lláh showing part of the Mansion of Bahjí
Excerpts from compilation prepared in January, 1922
Lady Blomfield and Shoghi Effendi
IT is well known that the loved ones of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, in every part of the world, are anxiously waiting to receive some details of the closing events of His unique and wonderful life. For this reason the present account is being written.
We have now come to realize that the Master, (i. e., ‘Abdu’l-Bahá) knew the day and hour when, His mission on earth being finished, He would return to the shelter of heaven. He was, however, careful that His family should not have any premonition of the coming sorrow. It seemed as though their eyes were veiled by Him, with His ever-loving consideration for His dear ones, that they should not see the significance of certain dreams and other signs of the culminating event. This they now realize was His thought for them, in order that their strength might be preserved to face the great ordeal when it should arrive, that they should not be devitalized by anguish of mind in its anticipation.
Out of the many signs of the approach of the hour when He could say of His work on earth, “It is finished,” the following two dreams seem remarkable. Less than eight weeks before His passing the Master related this to His family:
“I seemed to be standing within a great temple, in the inmost shrine, facing the east, in the place of the leader himself. I became aware that a large number of people were flocking into the temple; more and yet more crowded in, taking their places in rows behind me, until there was a vast multitude. As I stood I raised loudly the ‘Call to Prayer.’ Suddenly the thought came to me to go forth from the temple. When I found myself outside I said within myself, ‘For what reason came I forth, not having led the prayer? But it matters not; now that I have uttered the call to prayer, the vast multitude will of themselves chant the prayer.”
When the Master had passed away, His family pondered over this dream and interpreted it thus:
He had called that same vast multiude—all peoples, all religions, all races, all nations and all kingdoms-to unity and peace, to universal love and brotherhood; and having called them, He returned to God the Beloved, at whose command He had raised the majestic call, had given the divine message. This same multitude—the peoples, religions, races, nations and kingdoms—would continue the work to which ‘Abdu’l-Bahá had called them and would of themselves press forward to its accomplishment.
A few weeks after the preceding dream the Master came in from the solitary room in the garden, which He had occupied of late, and said:
“I dreamed a dream and behold the Blessed Beauty, (i. e., Bahá’u’lláh) came and said unto me, ‘Destroy this room!’ ”
The family, who had been wishing that He would come and sleep in the house, not being happy that He should be alone at night, exclaimed, “Yes, Master, we think your dream means that you should leave that room and come into the house.” When He heard this from us, He smiled meaningly as though not agree-
ing with our interpretation. Afterwards we understood that by the “room” was meant the temple of His body.
In the same week He revealed a Tablet to America, in which is the following prayer:
“Yá-Bahá’u’l-Abhá! (O Thou the glory of glories) I have renounced the world and the people thereof, and am heartbroken and sorely afllicted because of the unfaithful. In the cage of this world I flutter even as a frightened bird, and yearn every day to take my flight unto Thy kingdom. Yá-Bahá’u’l-Abhá! Make me to drink of the cup of sacrifice and set me free. Relieve me from these woes and trials, from these afllictions and troubles. Thou art He that aideth, that succoureth, that protecteth, that stretcheth forth the hand of help.”
After lunch He dictated some Tablets, His last ones, to Rúḥí Effendi. When He had rested He walked in the garden. He seemed to be in a deep reverie.
His good and faithful servant Ismá’íl Áqá, relates the following:
“Some time, about twenty days before my Master passed away, I was near the garden when I heard Him summon an old believer saying: ‘Come with me that we may admire together the beauty of the garden. Behold, what the spirit of devotion is able to achieve! This flourishing place was, a few years ago, but a heap of stones, and now it is verdant with foliage and flowers. My desire is that after I am gone the loved ones may all arise to serve the divine Cause and, please God, so it shall be. Ere long men will arise who shall bring life to the world.’
"Three days before His ascension whilst seated in the garden, He called me and said, ‘I am sick with fatigue. Bring two of your oranges for me that I may eat them for your sake.’ This I did, and He having eaten them turned to me saying, ‘Have you any of your sweet lemons?’ He bade me fetch a few . Whilst I was plucking them, He came over to the tree, saying, ‘Nay, but I must gather them with my own hands.’ Having eaten of the fruit He turned to me and asked, ‘Do you desire anything more?’ Then with a pathetic gesture of His hands, He touchingly, emphatically and deliberately said, ‘Now it is finished, it is finished!
“These significant words penetrated my very soul. I felt each time He uttered them as if a knife were struck into my heart. I understood His meaning but never dreamed His end was so nigh.”
It was Ismá’íl Áqá who had been the Master’s gardener for well-nigh thirty years and who, in the first week after his bereavement, driven by hopeless grief, quietly disposed of all his belongings, made his will, went to the Master’s sister and craved her pardon for any misdeeds he had committed. He then delivered the key of the garden to a trusted servant of the household and, taking with him means whereby to end his life at his beloved Master’s tomb, walked up the mountain to that sacred place, three times circled round it and would have succeeded in taking his life had it not been for the opportune arrival of a friend, who reached him in time to prevent the accomplishment of his tragic intention.
During the evening of Friday, November 25th, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá attended the usual meeting of the friends in His own audience chamber.
In the morning of Saturday, November 26th, He arose early, came to the tea room and had some tea. He asked for he fur-lined coat which had belonged to Bahá’u’lláh. He often put on this coat when He was cold or did not feel well, He so loved it. He then withdrew to His room, lay down on His bed and said, “Cover me up. I am very cold. Last night I did not sleep well, I felt cold. This is serious, it is the beginning.”
After more blankets had been put on, He asked for the fur coat He had taken off to be placed over Him. That day He was rather feverish. In the evening His temperature rose still higher, but during the night the fever left Him. After midnight, He asked for some tea.
On Sunday morning, November 27th. He said: “I am quite well and will get up as usual and have tea with you in the
tea room.” After He had dressed He was persuaded to remain on the sofa in His room.
In the afternoon He sent all the friends to the tomb of the Báb, where on the occasion of the anniversary of the declaration of the Covenant a feast was being held, offered by a Parsí pilgrim who had lately arrived from India.
At four in the afternoon being on the sofa in His room He said: “Ask my sister and all the family to come and have tea with me.”
His four sons-in-law and Rúḥí Effendi came to Him after returning from the gathering on the mountain. They said to Him: “The giver of the feast was unhappy because you were not there.” He said unto them: “But I was there, though my body was absent, my spirit was there in your midst. I was present with the friends at the tomb. The friends must not attach any importance to the absence of my body. In spirit I am, and shall always be, with the friends, even though I be far away.”
The same evening He asked after the health of every member of the household, of the pilgrims and of the friends in Haifa. “Very good, very good,” He said when told that none were ill. This was His very last utterance concerning His friends.
At eight in the evening He retired to bed after taking a little nourishment, saying, “I am quite well.”
He told all the family to go to bed and rest. Two of His daughters however stayed with Him. That night the Master had gone to sleep very calmly, quite free from fever.
He awoke about 1.15 a. m., got up and walked across to a table where He drank some water. He took off an outer night garment, saying, “I am too warm.” He went back to bed and when His daughter Rúḥá Khánum, later on, approached, she found Him lying peacefully and, as He looked into her face, He asked her to lift up the net curtains, saying, “I have dif- ficulty in breathing, give me more air.”
Some rose-water was brought of which He drank, sitting up in bed to do so, without any help. He again lay down, and as some food was offered Him, He remarked in a clear and distinct voice: “You wish me to take some food, and I am going?”
He gave them a beautiful look. His face was so calm, His expression so serene, they thought Him asleep.
He had gone from the gaze of His loved ones!
The eyes that had always looked out with loving-kindness upon humanity, whether friends or foes, were now closed. The hands that had ever been stretched forth to give alms to the poor and the needy, the halt and the maimed, the blind, the orphan and the widow, had now finished their labor. The feet that, with untiring zeal, had gone upon the ceaseless errands of the Lord of compassion were now at rest. The lips that had so eloquently championed the cause of the suffering sons of men, were now hushed in silence. The heart that had so powerfully throbbed with wondrous love for the children of God was now stilled. His glorious spirit had passed from the life of earth, from the persecutions of the enemies of righteousness, from the storm and stress of well-nigh eighty years of indefatigable toil for the good of others.
His long martyrdom was ended!
Early on Monday morning, November 28th, the news of this sudden calamity had spread over the city, causing an unprecedented stir and tumult, and filling all hearts with unutterable grief.
The next morning, Tuesday, November 29th, the funeral took place; a funeral the like of which Haifa, nay Palestine itself, had surely never seen; so deep was the feeling that brought so many thousands of mourners together, representative of so many religions, races and tongues.
The High Commissioner of Palestine, Sir Herbert Samuel, the Governor of Jerusalem, the Governor of Phoenicia, the chief officials of the government, the consuls of the various countries, resident in Haifa, the heads of the various religi-
ous communities, the notables of Palestine, Jews, Christians, Muslims, Druses, Egyptians, Greeks, Turks, Kurds, and a host of his American, European and native friends, men, women and children, both of high and low degree, all, about ten thousand in number, mourning the loss of their beloved one.
This impressive, triumphal procession was headed by a guard of honor, consisting of the City Constabulary Force, followed by the Boy Scouts of the Moslem and Christian communities holding aloft their banners, a company of Moslem choristers chanting their verses from the Qur’án, the chiefs of the Muslim community headed by the Muftí, a number of Christian priests, Latin, Greek and Anglican, all preceding the sacred coffin, upraised on the shoulders of His loved ones. Immediately behind it came the members of His family, next to them walked the British High Commissioner, the Governor of Jerusalem, and the Governor of Phoenicia. After them came the consuls and the notables of the land, followed by the vast multitude of those who reverenced and loved Him.
On this day there was no cloud in the sky, nor any sound in all the town and surrounding country through which they went, save only the soft, slow, rythmic chanting of Islám in the call to prayer, or the convulsed sobbing moan of those helpless ones, bewailing the loss of their one friend, who had protected them in all their difficulties and sorrows, whose generous bounty had saved them and their little ones from starvation through the terrible years of the “Great Woe.” (i. e., the World War).
“0 God, my God!” the people wailed with one accord, “Our father has left us, our father has left us!”
O the wonder of that great throng! Peoples of every religion and race and color, united in heart through the manifestation of servitude in the life-long work of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá!
As they slowly wended their way up Mount Carmel, the Vineyard of God, the casket appeared in the distance to be borne aloft by invisible hands, so high above the heads of the people was it carried. After two hours walking, they reached the garden of the tomb of the Báb. Tenderly was the sacred coffin placed upon a plain table covered with a fair white linen cloth. As the vast concourse pressed around the tabernacle of His body, waiting to be laid in its resting place, within the vault, next to that of the Báb, representatives of the various denominations, Muslims, Christians and Jews, all hearts being ablaze with fervent love of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, some on the impulse of the moment, others prepared, raised their voices in eulogy and regret, paying their last homage of farewell to their loved one. So united were they in their acclamation of Him, as the wise educator and reconciler of the human race in this perplexed and sorrowful age, that there seemed to be nothing left for the Bahá’ís to say.
The following are extracts from some of the speeches delivered on that memorable occasion.
The Muslim voicing the sentiments of his co-religionists spoke as follows:
“O concourse of Arabians and Persians! Whom are ye bewailing? Is it He who but yesterday was great in this life and is today in His death greater still? Shed no tears for the one that hath departed to the world of eternity, but weep over the passing of virtue and wisdom, of knowledge and generosity. Lament for yourselves, for yours is the loss, whilst He, your lost one, is but a revered wayfarer, stepping from your mortal world into the everlasting home. Weep one hour for the sake of Him who, for well nigh eighty years, hath wept for you! Look to your right, look to your left, look East and look West and behold, what glory and greatness have vanished! What a pillar of peace hath crumbled! What eloquent lips are hushed! Alas! In this tribulation there is no heart but aches with anguish, no eye but is filled with tears. Woe unto the poor, for lo! goodness hath departed from them, woe unto the orphans, for their loving father is no more with them! Could the life of Sir
‘Abdu’l-Bahá-Abbás have been redeemed by the sacrifices of many a precious soul, they of a certainty would gladly have offered up their lives for His life. But fate hath otherwise ordained. Every destiny is predetermined and none can change the divine decree. What am I to set forth the achievements of this leader of mankind? They are too glorious to be praised, too many to recount. Suffice it to say, that He has left in every heart the most profound impression, on every tongue most wondrous praise. And He that leaveth a memory so lovely, so imperishable, He indeed, is not dead. Be solaced then, 0 ye people of Bahá! Endure and be patient; for no man, be he of the East or of the West, can ever comfort you, nay he himself is even in greater need of consolation.”
The Christian then came forward and spoke thus:
“I weep for the world, in that my Lord hath died; others there are who like unto me, weep the death of the Lord . . . . O bitter is the anguish caused by this heart-rending calamity! It is not only our country’s loss but a world affliction. . . . He hath lived for well-nigh eighty years the life of the messengers and apostles of God. He hath educated the souls of men, hath been benevolent unto them, hath led them to the way of Truth. Thus he raised his people to the pinnacle of glory, and great shall be his reward from God, the reward of the righteous! Hear me 0 people! ‘Abbás is not dead, neither hath the light of Bahá been extinguished! Nay, nay! this light shall shine with everlasting splendor. The Lamp of Bahá, ’Abbás, hath lived goodly life, hath manifested in him self the true life of the Spirit. And now He is gathered to glory, a pure angel, richly robed in benevolent deeds, noble in His precious virtues. Fellow Christians! Truly ye are bearing the mortal remains of this ever lamented one to His last resting place, yet know of a certainty that your ’Abbás will live forever in spirit amongst you, through His deeds, His words, His virtues and all the essence of His life. We say farewell to the material body of our ‘Abbás and His material body vanisheth from our gaze, but His reality, our spiritual ‘Abbás, will never leave our minds, our thoughts, our hearts, our tongues.
“O great revered Sleeper! Thou hast been good to us, Thou hast guided us, Thou hast taught us, Thou hast lived amongst us greatly, with the full meaning of greatness, Thou hast made us proud of Thy deeds and of Thy words. Thou hast raised the Orient to the summit of glory, hast shown loving kindness to the people, trained them in righteousness, and hast striven to the end, till Thou hast won the crown of glory. Rest Thou happily under the shadow of the mercy of the Lord Thy God, and He verily, shall well reward Thee.”
Yet another Muslim, the Muftí of Haifa, spoke as follows:
“I do not wish to exaggerate in my eulogy of this great one, for His ready and helping hand in the service of mankind and the beautiful and wondrous story of His life, spent in doing that which is right and good, none can deny, save him whose heart is blinded. . . .
“O Thou revered voyager! Thou hast lived greatly and hast died greatly! This great funeral procession is but a glorious proof of Thy greatness in Thy life and in Thy death. But O, Thou whom we have lost! Thou leader of men, generous and benevolent! To whom shall the poor now look? Who shall care for the hungry and the desolate, the widow and the orphan?
“May the Lord inspire all Thy household and Thy kindred with patience in this grievous calamity, and immerse Thee in the ocean of His grace and mercy! He verily, is the prayer-hearing, prayer-answering God."
The Jew when his turn came, paid his tribute in these words:
“Dans un siècle de positivisme exagéré et de matérialisme effréné, il est étonnant et rare de trouver un philosophe de grande envergure tel que le regretté ‘Abdu’l-Bahá ‘Abbás parler à notre coeur, à nos sentiments et surtout chercher à éduquer notre âme en nous inculquant les principes les plus beaux, reconnus comme étant
The Sacred Tomb of the Báb and ‘Abdu’l-Bahá on Mount Carmel
The Sacred Tomb of the Báb and ‘Abdu’l-Bahá on Mount Carmel
la base de toute religion et de toute mo-rale pure. Par ses écrits, par sa parole, par ses entretiens familiers comme par ses colloques célèbres avec les plus cultivés et les fervents adeptes des théories sectaires, il a su persuader, il a pu tou-jours convaincre. Les exemples vivantssont d’un autre pouvoir. Sa vie privée et publique était un exemple de dévouement et d’oubli de soi pour le bonheurdes autres . . .
“Sa philosophie est simple, direz vous, mais elle est grande par cette même simplicité, étant conforme au caractère humain qui perd de sa beauté lorsqu’il se trouve faussé par les préjugés et les superstitions ... . ‘Abbás est mort à Caiffa, en Palestine, la Terre Sacrée qui aproduit les prophêtes. Devenue stérileet abandonnée depuis tant de siècles e1leressucite de nouveau et commence à reprendre son rang, et sa renommée primitive. Nous ne sommes pas les seuls à pleurer ce prophète, nous ne sommes pasles seuls à le glorifier. En Europe, en Amérique, que dis-je, dans tout pays habité par des hommes conscients de leur mission dans ce bas monde assoiffé de justice sociale, de fraternité, on le pleu-rera aussi. Il est mort après avoir souffert du despotisme, du fanatisme et de l’intolérance. Acre, la Bastille turque, lui a servi de prison pendant des dizaines d’années. Bagdad, la capitale Abbasside, a été aussi sa prison et celie de son père. La Perse, ancien berceau de la philosophie douce et divine, a chassé ses enfants qui ont concu leurs idées chez elle. Ne voiton pas là une volonté divine et une préfèrence marquee pour la Terre Promise qui était et sera le berceau de toutes les idées généreuses et nobles? Celui qui laisse après lui un passé aussi glorieux n’est pas mort. Celui qui a écrit d’aussi beaux principes a agrandi sa famille parmi tous ses lecteurs et a passé à la posterité, couronné par l’immortalité.”
The nine speakers having delivered their funeral orations, then came the moment when the casket which held the pearl of loving-servitude, passed slowly and triumphantly into its simple, hallowed resting-place.
O the infinite pathos! that the beloved feet should no longer tread this earth! That the presence which inspired such devotion and reverence should be withdrawn!
Of the many and diverse journals that throughout the East and West have given in their columns accounts of this momentous event, the following stand as foremost among them:
Le Temps, the leading French paper, in its issue of December 19, 1921, under the title "Un Conciliateur" (A Peace Maker), portrays graphically the life of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, the following being some of its excerpts : “Un prophéte vient de mourir en Palestine. Il se nommait Abdoul Bahá, et il était fils de Baháou’lláh, qui créa le bahaisme, religion ‘unifiée’ qui n’est autre que le babisme qu’avait observé le Comte de Gobineau. Le Báb, Messie du Babisme, se proposait modestement de régénerer la Perse, ce qui lui couta la vie, en 1850. Baháou’lláh et son fils Abdoul Bahá, ‘L’esclave de son père’, n’ambitionnaient pas moins que la régéneration du monde. Paris a connu Abdoul Bahá. Ce viellard magnifique et débonnaire répandit parmi nous la parole sainte il y a quelque dix ans. Il était vêtu d’une simple robe vert olive et coffé d’un turban blanc. . . . Sa parole était douce et berceuse, comme une litanie. On l’écoutait avec un plaisir recueilli, encore qu’on ne le comprit point; car il parlait en persan . . . . Le bahaisme, c’est en somme la religion de la charité et da la simplicité. C’est en même temps, amalgamé, le judaisme, le christianisme, le protestantisme, et la libre pensée. Abdoul Bahá se réclamait de Zoroastre, de Moise, de Mahomet et de Jésus. Peut-être jugerez vous que cette unification est la à la fois trop nombreuse et confuse. C’est qu’on ne comprend rien aux choses sacrées si l’on n’est inspiré par la foi . . . . Sous le turban blanc ses yeux reflétaient l’intelligence et la bonté. Il était paternal, effectueux et simple. Son pouvoir, semblait-il, lui venait de ce qu’il savait aimer
less hommes et savait se faire aimer d’eux. Appelé à témoigner de l’excellence de cette religion naive et pure, nous pûmes honnêtement confesser notre foi par cette formule: ‘Que les religions sont belles quand elles ne sont pas encore’.”
The London Morning Post, two days after His passing, among other highly favorable comments, concluded its report of the Movement in the following words: “The venerated Bahá’u’lláh died in 1892 and the mantle of his religious insight fell on his son ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, when, after forty years of prison life, Turkish constitutional changes permitted him to visit England, France and America. His persistent messages as to the divine origin and unity of mankind were as impressive as the Messenger himself. He possessed singular courtesy. At his table Buddhist and Muḥammadan, Hindu and Zoroastrian, Jew and Christian, sat in amity. ‘Creatures,’ he said, ‘were created through love; let them live in peace and amity’.”
Nearly all representative American newspapers devoted attention to the passing of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá.
The New York World of December 1, 1921, published the following: “Never before ‘Abdu’l-Bahá did the leader of an Oriental religious movement visit the United States ... As recently as June of this year a special correspondent of the World who visited this seer thus described him: ‘Having once looked upon ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, his personality is indelibly impressed upon the mind: the majestic venerable figure clad in the flowing abá, his head crowned with a turban white as his head and hair; the piercing deep set eyes whose glances shake the heart; the smile that pours its sweetness over all.’ ...
“Even in the twilight of his life ‘Abdu’l-Bahá took the liveliest interest in world affairs. When General Allenby swept up the coast from Egypt he went for counsel first to ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. When Zionists arrived in their Promised Land they sought ‘Abdu’l-Bahá for advice. For Palestine he had the brightest hopes. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá believed that Bolshevism would prove an admonition to the irreligious world. He taught the equality of man and woman, saying: ‘The world of humanity has two wings, man and woman. If one wing is weak, then the bird cannot fly.’” ...
The Evening Telegram, New York, December 4, 1921, found in the international peace movement a complete vindication for the Bahá’í ideals. “In all countries of the world today can be found mourners of the prophet ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. . . . Churches of all denominations in New York City and Chicago were thrown open to him for, unlike the leaders of many cults, he preached not the errors of present religions but their sameness.”
The New York Tribune on December 2nd carried an editorial entitled, “ ‘Abdu’l-Bahá: A prophet, as his followers believe, and the son of a prophet, was ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, who is now at rest with all prophetic souls bygone. He lived to see a remarkable expansion of the quietest cult of which he was the head . ... Bahá’u’lláh over sixty years ago set forth a peace plan not dissimilar to the aspirations of today.”
The magazine Unity, published in Chicago, included an article on the Master in its issue of December 22nd. “‘Abdu’l-Bahá voiced and made eloquent the sacred aspiration that yearns dumbly in the hearts of men. He embodied in glorious, triumphant maturity that ideal which in others lies imprisoned behind the veil. Men and women of every race, creed, class and color are united in devotion to ‘Abdu’l-Bahá because ‘Abdu’l-Bahá has been a pure, selfless mirror reflecting only the noblest qualities of each.”
The Sphinx of Cairo, Egypt, on De- cember 17th, described ‘Abdu’l-Bahá as a great leader of men. “In his personality and influence ‘Abdu’l-Bahá embodied all that is highest and most striking in both the Christian and Muslim faiths; living a life of pure altruism, he preached and worked for inter-racial and inter-religious unity. . . When in the presence of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá thoughtful inquirers soon realized that they were speaking to a man of unique personality, one endowed with
a love and wisdom that had in it the divine quality.”
The Times of India, in its issue of January 1922, opens one of its editorial aricles as follows: “In more normal times than the present the death of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, which was sorrowfully referred to at the Bahá’í Conference in Bombay, would have stirred the feelings of many, who, without belonging to the Bahá’í brotherhood, sympathize with its tenets and admire the life-work of those who founded it. As it is we have learned almost by chance of this great religious leader’s death, but that fact need not prevent our turning aside from politics and the turmoil of current events to consider what this man did and what he aimed at.” Sketching then in brief an account of the history of the Movement it concludes as follows: “It is not for us now to judge whether the purity, the mysticism and the exalted ideas of Bahá’ísm will continue unchanged after the loss of the great leader, or to speculate on whether Bahá’ísm will some day become a force in the world as great or greater than Christianity or Islám; but we would pay a tribute to the memory of a man who wielded a vast influence for good, and who, if he was destined to see many of his ideas seemingly shattered in the world war, remained true to his convictions and to his belief in the possibility of a reign of peace and love, and who, far more effectively than Tolstoi, showed the West that religion is a vital force that can never be disregarded.”
Out of the vast number of telegrams and cables of condolence that have poured in, these may be mentioned:
His Britannic Majesty’s Secretary of State for the Colonies, Mr. Winston Churchill, telegraphing to His Excellency the High Commissioner for Palestine, desires him to convey to the Bahá’í community, on behalf of His Majesty’s Government, their sympathy and condolence on the death of Sir ‘Abdu’l-Bahá ‘Abbás, K.B.E.
On behalf of the Executive Board of the Bahá’í American Convention, this message of condolence has been received:
“He doeth whatsoever He willeth. Hearts weep at most great tribulation. American friends send through Unity Board radiant love, boundless sympathy, devotion. Standing steadfast, conscious of His unceasing presence and nearness.”
Viscount Allenby, the High Commissioner for Egypt, has wired the following message, through the intermediary of His Excellency the High Commissioner for Palestine, dated November 29, 1921: “Please convey to the relatives of the late Sir ‘Abdu’l-Bahá ‘Abbás Effendi and to the Bahá’í community my sincere sympathy in the loss of their revered leader.”
The loved ones in Germany assure the Greatest Holy Leaf (Sister of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá) of their fidelity in these terms: “All believers deeply moved by irrevocable loss of our Master’s precious life. We pray for heavenly protection of Holy Cause and promise faithfulness and obedience to Center of Covenant.”
An official message forwarded by the Council of Ministers in Baghdád, and dated December 8, 1921, reads as follows: “His Highness Siyyid ‘Abdurrahman, the Prime Minister, desires to extend his sympathy to the family of His Holiness ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in their bereavement.”
The Commander-in-Chief of the Egyptian Expeditionary Force sent through His Excellency the High Commissioner for Palestine these words of sympathy: “General Congreve begs that you will convey his deepest sympathy to the fam- ily of the late Sir ‘Abbás al-Bahá’í.”
The Theosophical Society in London communicated as follows with one of the followers of the Faith in Haifa: “For the Holy Family, Theosophical Society send affectionate thoughts.”
The thousands of Bahá’ís in Ṭihrán the capital of Persia, remembering their Western brethren and sisters in London and New York assure them of their steadfast faith in these words: “Light of Covenant transferred from eye to heart. Day of teaching, of union, of self-sacrifice.”
And lastly, one of the distinguished figures in the academic life of the Uni-
versity of Oxford, a renowned professor and an accomplished scholar, whose knowledge of the Cause stands foremost among that of his colleagues, in the message of condolence written on behalf of himself and wife, expresses himself as follows: “The passing beyond the veil into fuller life must be specially wonderful and blessed for one, who has always fixed his thoughts on high and striven to lead an exalted life here below.”
On the seventh day after the passing of the Master, corn was distributed in His name to about a thousand poor of Haifa, irrespective of race or religion, to whom He had always been a friend and a protector. Their grief at losing the “Father of the Poor” was extremely pathetic. In the first seven days also from fifty to a hundred poor were daily fed at the Master’s house, in the very place where it had been His custom to give alms to them.
On the fortieth day there was a memorial feast, given to over six hundred of the people of Haifa, ‘Akká and the surrounding parts of Palestine and Syria, people of various religions, races and color. More than a hundred of the poor were also fed on this day. The Governor of Phoenicia, many other officials and some Europeans were present.
The feast was entirely arranged by the members of the Master’s household. The long tables were decorated with trailing branches of bougainvillaea. Its lovely purple blooms mingled with the white narcissus, and with the large dishes of golden oranges out of the beloved Master’s garden made a picture of loveliness in those spacious lofty rooms, whose only other decoration was the gorgeous yet subdued coloring of rare Persian rugs. No useless trivial ornaments marred the extreme dignity of simplicity.
The guests received, each and all, the same welcome. There were no “chief places.” Here as always in the Master’s home, there was no respecting of persons.
After the luncheon the guests came into the large central hall, this also bare of ornament, save only for the portrait of Him they had assembled to honor and some antique Persian tapestries hung upon one wall. Before this was placed a platform from which the speeches were made to the rapt and silent throng, whose very hearts were listening.
The Governor of Phoenicia, in the course of his address, spoke the following: “Most of us here have, I think, a clear picture of Sir ‘Abdu’l-Bahá ‘Abbás, of His dignified figure walking thoughtfully in our streets, of His courteous and gracious manner, of His kindness, of His love for little children and flowers, of His generosity and care for the poor and suffering. So gentle was He, and so simple that, in His presence, one almost forgot that He was also a great teacher and that His writings and His conversations have been a solace and an inspiration to hundreds and thousands of people in the East and the West.”
His detailed and powerfully written Will and Testament reveals the following words of general counsel to all His friends:
“O ye beloved of the Lord! In this sacred Dispensation, conflict and contention are in no wise permitted. Every aggressor deprives himself of God’s grace. It is incumbent upon everyone to show the utmost love, rectitude of conduct, straightforwardness and sincere kindliness unto all the peoples and kindreds of the world, be they friends or strangers. So intense must be the spirit of love and loving-kindness that the stranger may find himself a friend, the enemy a true brother, no difference whatsoever existing between them.
“For universality is of God and all limitations are earthly.
“Thus man must strive that his reality may manifest virtues and perfections, the light whereof may shine upon everyone. The light of the sun shineth upon all the world and the merciful showers of divine providence fall upon all peoples. The vivifying breeze reviveth every living creature, and all beings endued with life
obtain their share and portion at His heavenly board. In like manner the affections and loving-kindness of the servants of the one true God must be bountifully and universally extended to all mankind. Regarding this, restrictions and limitations are in nowise permitted.
“Wherefore, O my loving friends! Consort with all the peoples, kindreds and religions of the world with the utmost truthfulness, uprightness, faithfulness, kindliness, good-will and friendliness; that all the world of being may be filled with the holy ecstasy of the grace of Bahá; that ignorance, enmity, hate and rancor may vanish from the world, and the darkness of estrangement amidst the peoples and kindreds of the world may give way to the light of unity. Should other peoples and nations be unfaithful to you, show your fidelity unto them; should they be unjust towards you, show justice towards them; should they keep aloof from you, attract them to yourselves; should they show their enmity. be friendly towards them; should they poison your lives, sweeten their souls; should they inflict a wound upon you, be a salve to their sores. Such are the attributes of the sincere! Such are the attributes of the truthful!
“O ye beloved of the Lord! Strive with all your heart to shield the Cause of God from the onslaught of the insincere, for such souls as these cause the straight to become crooked and all benevolent efforts to produce contrary results.”
He prays for the protection of His friends:
“O Lord, my God! Assist Thy loved ones to be firm in Thy faith, to walk in Thy ways, to be steadfast in Thy Cause. Give them Thy grace to withstand the onslaught of self and passion, to follow the light of divine guidance. Thou art the Powerful, the Gracious, the Self-subsisting, the Bestower, the Compassionate, the Almighty, the All-bountiful!”
For His enemies this is His prayer:
“I call upon Thee, O Lord, my God! With my tongue and with all my heart, not to requite them for their cruelty and their wrong deeds, their craft and their mischief, for they are foolish and ignoble, and know not what they do. They discern not good from evil, neither do they distinguish right from wrong, nor justice from injustice. They fol!ow their own desires and walk in the footsteps of the most imperfect and foolish amongst them. O my Lord! Have mercy upon them, shield them from all afflictions in these troubled times, and grant that all trials and hardships may be the lot of this, Thy servant, that has fallen into this darksome pit. Single me out for every woe and make me a sacrifice for all Thy loved ones! O Lord, Most High! May my soul, my life, my being, my spirit, my all, be offered up for them! O God, my God, lowly, suppliant and fallen upon my face, I beseech Thee, with all the ardor of my invocation, to pardon whosoever hath hurt me, to forgive him that hath conspired against me and offended me, and to wash away the misdeeds of them that hath wrought injustice upon me. Vouchsafe unto them Thy goodly gifts; give them joy, relieve them from sorrow, grant them peace and prosperity; give them Thy bliss and pour upon them Thy bounty. Thou art the Powerful, the Gracious, the Help in peril, the Self-subsisting.”
And now, what appeal more direct, more moving, with which to close this sad yet stirring account of His last days, than these His most touching, most inspiring words?
“Friends! The time is coming when I shall be no longer with you. I have done all that could be done. I have served the Cause of Bahá’u’lláh to the utmost of my ability. I have labored night and day, all the years of my life. O how I long to see the loved ones taking upon themselves the responsibilities of the Cause! Now is the time to proclaim the Kingdom of Bahá! Now is the hour of love and union! This is the day of the spiritual harmony of the loved ones of God! All the resources of my physical strength I
have exhausted, and the spirit of my life is the welcome tidings of the unity of the people of Bahá. I am straining my ears toward the East and toward the West, toward the North and toward the South that haply I may hear the songs of love and fellowship chanted in the meetings of the faithful. My days are numbered, and, but for this, there is no joy left unto me. O how I yearn to see the friends united even as a string of gleaming pearls, as the brilliant Pleiades, as the rays of the sun, as the gazelles of one meadow!
“The mystic nightingale is warbling for them all; will they not listen? The bird of paradise is singing; will they not heed? The angel of Abhá is calling to them; will they not hearken? The herald of the Covenant is pleading; will they not obey?
“Ah me, I am waiting, waiting, to hear the joyful tidings that the believers are the very embodiment of sincerity and truthfulness, the incarnation of love and amity, the living symbols of unity and concord. Will they not gladden my heart? Will they not satisfy my yearning? Will they not manifest my wish? Will they not fulfill my heart’s desire? Will they not give ear to my call?
“I am waiting, I am patiently waiting.”
THE following pages represent the first attempt to bring into a single perspective the many diversified current activities of the International Bahá’í Community. For the non-Bahá’í reader to appreciate the special nature of this task, it is necessary to remark that the activities expressing the vital spirit of a religion in its early days are essentially different from those manifested by a religion during the stage of its mature influence and established material power. To be precise, the activities considered important by a fully developed religious community are those which exert most influence from a social, economic or political point of view, whereas the significant events taking place among believers imbued with a new and dynamic faith are to a very great extent concerned with the unseen realities of inner experience. Moreover, as a religion reaches its final stage of social predominance, it invariably possesses a trained professional administrative mechanism capable of concentrating its material resources in a manner and to a degree impossible in the case of a spiritual movement whose resources are more evenly diffused throughout the entire fellowship of its adherents.
From the point of view of any essentially religious experience, the very existence of so many Bahá’í centers both in the East and in the West reveals a quality of action not paralleled in any other religion today. Maintained as they are by believers loyal not merely to one system of teachings, and responsive to a single administrative direction, but by the very character of their faith endeavoring also to rise above existing prejudices of race, nation, class and creed, these centers merit special consideration by students of religion from the fact that each of them provides a training school actively inculcating an entirely new outlook upon humanity and its gravest present-day problems. Thus, while it might fail to impress the casual non-Bahá’í observer, the single factor of inter-Assembly Bahá’í correspondence brings to the believer himself a most significant and deeply cherished experience of increasing moral solidarity, emotional sympathy, and intellectual understanding with fellow believers in all parts of the world, whom he has not or in all probability will never personally know, but with whom he feels himself inseparably identified as the result of mutual faith. To an American believer particularly, because he lives in a population using but one language, there is something infinitely appealing in the receipt of communications conveying a most intimate spirit of fellowship and common understanding but written in unfamiliar languages and dialects from the four quarters of the globe. These and other experiences normally encountered by all Bahá’ís, impress the believer himself with a sense of privilege and a conviction of significance it is impossible to share with those who have no direct personal relationship with a Movement founded to overcome the inveterate and multifarious differences separating the minds and hearts of men.
Reception in honor of Rúḥí Effendi Afnán (center of group) at the home of Dr. and Mrs. Charles Thompson, Chicago. About fifty Chicagoans, prominent among the colored and white residents of the city, were present, many of whom are well-known Bahá’ís.
This introductory statement would be incomplete without reference to one more essential characteristic of present-day Bahá’í activities. This factor consists in the powerfully unifying effect of certain conditions which have been forced upon the world-wide Bahá’í community by its enemies in the East. Referred to in greater detail later on, the continuance of the cruel and relentless persecutions of Persian Bahá’ís, the seizure of Bahá’í sacred shrines in Baghdád, and the official action of the Muslim Ecclesiastical Court of Egypt in pronouncing as heretics all Bahá’ís in Muḥammadan lands, combine to establish a sense of international, inter-racial and inter-religious solidarity among the Bahá’ís of the East and West which has greatly accelerated the manifestations of those forces of unity inherent in the teachings of Bahá’u’lláh. The very fact that this sense of solidarity emanates from spiritual loyalties raised high above those political, economic or sectarian interests making for a partial and incomplete internationalism in other organized bodies reveals, as clearly as any other factor which might be named, the universality of the Bahá’í Religion. As the Bahá’ís of all countries feel themselves profoundly stirred by the tragedies enacted in Persia, and as they combine ever more closely their collective forces in order to regain the religious property taken from them in Baghdád, the inevitable result is to produce a truly international type of character relying upon moral power to attain its ends because it realizes the inherent limitations of governments and other organized bodies to serve spiritual interests. In this phase of Bahá’í activity we therefore are witness to a collective experience and a discipline whose full effects will not be revealed in the present generation but which nevertheless are creating the only moral foundation upon which can be raised the nobler civilization to come. In connection with this fact should be considered also the nature of the discipline exerted by the relations of Bahá’ís to their local and national Assemblies referred to in a separate article in the present volume.
The considerations advanced in this brief preliminary statement are meantime sufficient, the editors believe, to justify the conviction sustaining the Bahá’ís that the source of the importance to be attributed to their current activities lies not in the realm of material power, social influence or brilliant personality, but in the providential character of the Movement itself.
THE religious freedom and the spirit of initiative found in America have given the development of the Bahá’í Cause certain definite trends permitting the expression of aspects still latent in Europe and the Orient. As might have been anticipated, the administrative form has been more thoroughly established in America than elsewhere, the two countries of the United States and Canada being regarded as one administrative unit.
An activity directly benefiting by this intimate association of local groups through an elected National body has been the publication of all Bahá’í literature already translated into the English language.
Since the preparation of the previous volume (Bahá’í Year Book, 1925-1926) of the present work (The Bahá’í World, 1926-1928), the following titles have been added to the list published by American Bahá’ís : The Spiritual Opportunity of the Bahá’ís of the United States and Canada; Esperanto, Russian, Spanish, Hebrew and Albanian editions of the No. 9 Compilation; The Spirit of World Unity; The Oneness of Mankind; Tablets to Japanese; Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, and Bahá’í Administration. Detailed references to these works will be found in the Bibliography supplied in another section of the present book.
The most vigorous and effective assertion of the Bahá’í teachings made in North America during this period of time has been the series of public meetings de-
voted to Inter-Racial Amity, particularly to amity between the white and colored races.
Founded upon the principle of spiritual oneness revealed by Bahá’u’lláh as the underlying social law of this cycle, the meetings for Inter-Racial Amity have endeavored to meet the problem without compromise, asserting and demonstrating the possibility of justice and fellowship between these long opposed branches of
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the human family. Meetings of this character have been held in Washington, D. c.; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Dayton, Ohio; Green Acre, Eliot, Maine; Brooklyn, New York; Boston, Massachusetts; Chicago, Illinois; Montreal, Canada; New York, New York; Seattle, Washington, and Portland, Oregon. In most of these centers the inter-racial work has been made continuous through committees composed of members of both races.
The racial problem, in fact, was declared by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá to be the most serious menace to American civilization, capable of producing widespread devastation, with international difficulties, unless solved by the power of true religion. These statements were given such emphasis by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá toward the end of His life that the Bahá’ís of America have come to regard the matter of interracial amity as one of their primary re-
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sponsibilities. The program of the first Conference dedicated to this ideal is reproduced above.
In addition to the teachings on this subject found in the writings of Bahá’u’lláh and ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, the American Bahá’ís have the following exhortation by Shoghi Effendi uttered in his letter to the National Spiritual Assembly dated April 12, 1927:
"As this problem, in the inevitable course of events, grows in acuteness and
complexity, and as the number of the faithful from both races multiplies, it will become increasingly evident that the future growth and prestige of the Cause are bound to be influenced to a very considerable degree by the manner in which the adherents of the Bahá’í Faith carry out, first among themselves and in their relations with their fellow-men, those high standards of inter-racial amity so widely proclaimed and so fearlessly ex-
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emplified to the American people by our Master, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá.
“I direct my appeal with all the earnestness and urgency that this pressing problem calls for to every conscientious upholder of the universal principles of Bahá’u’lláh to face this extremely delicate situation with the boldness, the decisiveness and wisdom it demands. I cannot believe that those whose hearts have been touched by the regenerating influence of God’s creative Faith in His day will find it difficult to cleanse their souls from every lingering trace of racial animosity so subversive of the Faith they profess. How can hearts that throb with the love of God fail to respond to all the implications of this supreme injunction of Bahá’u’lláh, the unreserved acceptance of which, under the circumstances now prevailing in America, constitutes the hallmark of a true Bahá’í character?
“Let every believer, desirous to witness
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the swift and healthy progress of the Cause of God, realize the two-fold nature of his task. Let him first turn his eyes inwardly and search his own heart and satisfy himself that in his relations with his fellow-believers, irrespective of color and class, he is proving himself increasingly loyal to the spirit of his beloved Faith. Assured and content that he is exerting his utmost in a conscious effort to approach nearer every day the lofty station to which his gracious Master sum-
mons him, let him turn to his second task, and, with befitting confidence and vigor, assail the devastating power of those forces which in his own heart he has already succeeded in subduing. Fully alive to the unfailing efficacy of the power of Bahá’u’lláh, and armed with the essential weapons of wise restraint and inflexible resolve, let him wage a constant fight against the inherited tendencies, the corruptive instincts, the fluctuating fashions, the false pretenses of the society in which he lives and moves.
“In their relations amongst themselves as fellow-believers, let them not be content with the mere exchange of cold and empty formalities often connected with the organizing of banquets, receptions, consultative assemblies, and lecture-halls. Let them rather, as equal co-sharers in the spiritual benefits conferred upon them by Bahá’u’lláh, arise and, with the aid and counsel of their local and national representatives, supplement these official functions with those opportunities which only a close and intimate social intercourse can adequately provide. In their homes, in their hours of relaxation and leisure, in the daily contact of business transactions, in the association of their children, whether in their study-classes, their play-grounds, and club-rooms, in short, under all possible circumstances, however insignificant they appear, the community of the followers of Bahá’u’lláh should safisfy themselves that in the eyes of the world at large and in the sight of their vigilant Master they are the living witnesses of those truths which He fondly cherished and tirelessly championed to the very end of His days. If we relax in our purpose, if we falter in our faith, if we neglect the varied opportunities given us from time to time by an all-wise and gracious Master, we are not merely failing in what is our most vital and conspicuous obligation, but are thereby insensibly retarding the flow of those quickening energies which can alone insure the vigorous and speedy development of God’s struggling Faith.”
During the period since the Congress of Religions held in connection with the Columbian Exposition at Chicago in 1893, on which occasion the first reference was made to the Bahá’í Movement in America, three pieces of property have come under the control of the American Bahá’ís. The most recent of these consists of an especially beautiful tract of pine grove situated on the hills at Geyserville, California, commanding a wide view over the Russian River. This grove is a portion of the estate of Mr. and Mrs. John Bosch, dedicated by them to Bahá’í service as the site of a summer school. By this gift, there has been created for the Pacific Coast a Bahá’í center capable of development along the same lines as Green Acre at Eliot, Maine, described in a separate article in the present volume.
The Bahá’í summer school at Geyserville was formally opened on August 1, 1927, with an attendance of nearly one hundred and fifty Bahá’ís from many cities in California, Oregon, Washington and also British Columbia. Daily classes were conducted during the month of August and the work of the summer school was permanently established. The second season will open on August 1, 1928.
For some years also, another spot of unique beauty in the same county has been hospitably offered to Bahá’ís and other groups promoting universal principles. This land is a natural glen on the Griffith property which has been landscapedin the Japanese manner and developed with an open-air theatre and auditorium. The ideal which the Griffiths have expressed through this land has been to combine the spirit of hospitality with the inspiring effect of unspoiled natural beauty. Their estate has in consequence become a center making for genuine friendliness among liberal groups of Sonoma County, California.
At the other end of the country at West Englewood, New Jersey, a similar center has been in existence since 1912. During ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s visit to New York City in that year, He invited the Bahá’ís of Greater New York to a feast in the pine
Bahá’í Feast August 2, 1925, celebrating the seventieth birthday of Mr. John D. Bosch at Geyserville, California. Mr. Bosch is the gentleman with white beard seated to right of center.
Bahá’í Feast August 2, 1925, celebrating the seventieth birthday of Mr. John
D. Bosch at Geyserville, California. Mr. Bosch is the gentleman with
white beard seated to right of center.
Hillside amphitheatre on the Griffith property in Sonoma County, California, in which Bahá’í meetings are held.
Hillside amphitheatre on the Griffith property in Sonoma County, California,
in which Bahá’í meetings are held.
grove on the estate of Mr. Roy C. Wilhelm and since that date Mr. Wilhelm has celebrated the event by an annual meeting which has become widely known throughout northern New Jersey and Greater New York. The large log cabin which Mr. Wilhelm has constructed, with a living-room and broad porches accommodating two hundred people, is frequently visited by architects and those interested in the possibilities of this unusual type of construction. These annual meetings have accomplished great good by spreading more liberal religious and social ideals throughout the environment.
A word might be said here on the subject of the newspaper and magazine publicity which has been received by the Bahá’í Cause in the United States and Canada since the publication of the first volume of this reference work. An impressive list of references to the Cause compiled by Mr. Bishop Brown of Boston, appears under the section entitled Bibliography. Through the services of a committee appointed by the National Assembly, information concerning the tragic events in Persia as well as subjects of more local interest has been supplied to the public press and liberally used. Feature articles such as that which appeared during 1927 in the San Francisco Examiner are becoming gratifyingly more frequent. The fact remains that the full weight of the Bahá’í ideals and teachings has not yet been perceived by editors and journalists, who, doubtless, have fallen into the attitude of regarding the Cause in the same light as those so-called "Oriental religions" which have entered America as not always desirable spiritual immigrants during the last generation. Special reference should be made to a letter written by one of the American Bahá’ís published in the Atlantic Monthly during the spring of 1927.
The first member of the family of Bahá’u’lláh to visit America since ‘Abdu’l-Bahá spent nearly nine months in that country during 1912, was the great-grandson of Bahá’u’lláh and cousin of Shoghi Effendi, Rúḥí Effendi Afnán—a graduate of the American College at Beirut and for two years a post graduate student at the University of London. Rúḥí Afnán has brought a youthful freshness and vital enthusiasm which have been a clear proof of the continuing spiritual power of the Cause of Bahá’u’lláh. During a visit which at this moment of writing has now been about ten months, Rúḥí Afnán visited about thirty of the largest cities of the United States and Canada and in nearly every case delivered a series of lectures under the auspices of the local Spiritual Assembly. The interest in these lectures, which were devoted more particularly to the social significance of the Bahá’í teachings, has been especially strong in colleges and universities, many of which extended him an invitation to speak.
In addition to the notable public meetings held by such American believers as Mr. Albert R. Vail and Mr. Louis G. Gregory, the results of Rúḥí Afnán’s services have been to diffuse ever more widely a true appreciation of the fact that the Bahá’í Cause alone can fully satisfy every aspect of the need for an authentic, world-wide religious re-birth. In this connection it should be pointed out that the younger generation, which had apparently denied the reality of religious experience, is studying the Bahá’í teachings with a directness of vision and a potential loyalty that is worthy of the highest commendation. The significance of the extent to which tradition has been swept away in the case of the new generation, although frequently lamented, has not yet been thoroughly appreciated, but the condition is increasingly favorable to the penetration of the Bahá’í Faith.
In 1919 a Baha'i teacher from the United States, Miss Martha Root, who had determined to visit every country in the world as a Bahá’í teacher, visited all the most important cities of South America. Without literature in Portuguese, and but a small booklet in Spanish, although
she had no knowledge of either language, Miss Root nevertheless succeeded in giving the fundamental principles of the Bahá’í teaching of peace and brotherhood to many thousands of souls attuned to the universal spirit with which our age is blessed. Miss Root’s journey was the first Bahá’í influence to reach South America and she was unable to remain more than a few days in any city, but the results of this all too brief teaching journey have been incalculable. Through the aid of translators Miss Root gave many public lectures, wrote innumerable articles for the newspapers, and a group of Brazilians were so attracted that they undertook the translation of a Bahá’í booklet into the Portuguese language.
About a year later this group was of great assistance to another American Bahá’í who took up her residence in their city. This Bahá’í teacher, Miss Leonora Stirling Holsapple, took up permanent residence in Bahia and was soon able to address large public gatherings in Portuguese. Later she visited eleven other South American cities, speaking to Theosophists, Spiritualists, Masons and other liberal groups and everywhere found receptive minds eagerly seeking a saner and more logical presentation of religious truth. Miss Holsapple met with the most gratifying success in carrying on the work started by Miss Martha Root. She accomplished these results in spite of the materialism apparently increasing throughout Southern Brazil as the result of European influence, and of the religious intolerance prevalent in the more conservative North. By laying special emphasis upon the importance of a liberal education for women, Miss Holsapple has found an open door for carrying the Bahá’í message to the people of Brazil. The spirit of inter-racial amity which exists in South America has a strongeand more spontaneous influence than in the United States, this also being a condition which she has found extremely favorable.
In the year 1924 a permanent Bahá’í center was established in the city of Bahia and this has become widely known as a meeting-place of the different races, nationalities and classes, and as a center offering true hospitality to members of both the Catholic and Protestant faiths as well as to Spiritualists, Theosophists, Socialists and agnostics. As the result of this step, the group of workers found it possible to establish a Bahá’í publication in the Portuguese tongue, La Nova Era. This publication has been developed into a sixteen-page magazine and has appeared monthly for two years. The broad, constructive principles of the Bahá’í Move- ment have been carried by this medium to every city of the state of Bahia and to the more important cities of all other Brazilian states and even to Portugal itself.
A leaflet recently translated into Spanish and distributed to Theosophical centers throughout South and Central America and also in Spain, has brought many letters of appreciation and requests for more Bahá’í literature in Spanish.
Miss Holsapple’s work at Bahia was suspended for several months during the summer and autumn of 1927, to enable her to make a brief visit in the United States. On her return, however, she took the opportunity of making visits to different cities throughout the West Indies and Central America. Between September 9th and December 2nd, 1927, she made effective contacts with liberal individuals and groups and also with the local press at Port-au-Prince, Haiti; Curacao, Danish West Indies; Puerto, Colombia; Cartagena, Colombia; Puerto Cabello, Colombia; Caracus, Venezuela; Port of Spain, Trinidad; Parob-Maribo, Dutch Guiana; Georgetown, British Guiana; Barbados, British West Indies; and finally, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
At present it may be asserted that knowledge of the Bahá’í Cause has been thoroughly established in South America, and those who have been responsible for this tremendous task have carried on their work without adequate material means or any of the social resources usually con-
sidered necessary to insure success in educational work of this scope.
Up to the present time the editorial staff of The Bahá’í World have been unable to make a suitable survey of Bahá’í activities throughout Europe prepared from one single perspective, but much material has been received from the National Assemblies of England and Germany as well as from local Bahá’í centers.
An item of Bahá’í interest which received only brief reference in the Bahá’í Year Book, 1925-1926, was the conference held at London in September, 1924, on Some Living Religions Within the British Empire. This conference was arranged by a joint executive committee representative of the School of Oriental Studies and the Sociological Society. On invitation of the joint committee, the Bahá’í Cause was represented by papers read by Mr. Mountfort Mills and Rúḥí Effendi Afnán. The chairman during this session of the conference was the Reverend Walter Walsh, the minister of the Free Religious Movement, who on Sunday, September 28th, delivered an address on the Bahá’í Movement reprinted elsewhere in this volume of The Bahá’í World
Public Bahá’í meetings are regularly held in London and also Manchester, and an interesting phase of the Movement in London consists in the frequent visits of Bahá’ís from many countries of the Orient and also Australia and New Zealand. Among the conservative people of Great Britain the Movement has developed more slowly than in Germany or the United States, but on the other hand the teachings themselves have been accepted by a number of influential authors, ministers and scientists, the results of whose active interest will count increasingly in future years. It was a member of the National Assembly of England, Dr. J. E. Esslemont, M. B., Ch. B., F. B. E . A ., who wrote the most satisfactory general introduction to Bahá’í history and teachings which has yet appeared. Dr. Esslemont spent the last two years of his life assisting Shoghi Effendi at Haifa, and his letters to individuals and groups throughout English speaking countries were most gratifying and helpful.
For many years the cosmopolitan center of Paris has maintained Bahá’í meeting-places conducted in both the French and English languages. Many of the most important works of Bahá’í scholarship in the West have emanated from Paris, due to the proficiency of M. Hippolyte Dreyfus-Barney in the Oriental languages and his life-long devotion to the Cause. Many of the workers responsible for the development of the Movement in the United States and Canada were first attracted to the Cause and acquainted with its teachings in Paris.
The Paris center, like that of London, is also cosmopolitan and several societies such as the Alliance Spirituelle Universelle and the United Association for the Federation of Churches, realizing that their ideals are contained in the message of Bahá’u’lláh, have drawn ever closer to the Bahá’ís.
Through the courtesy of Dr. Hermann Grossmann, associate editor of The Bahá’í World, a detailed report of Bahá’í activities in Germany, too extensive to reproduce verbatim in these pages, has recently been received.
It is evident from the data furnished by Dr. Grossmann that while knowledge of the Bahá’í Cause in Germany a few years ago was limited to a few local centers and a limited number of people, during the past two years public attention has been called to the Teaching in ever increasing measure through the daily press and also articles contributed to current publications. Another factor in the growth of interest throughout Germany has been the recognition on the part of Esperantists that the ideal of a universal language requires for its eventual complete success a social environment far different from that which exists today everywhere in the world; and that the pronouncement made by Bahá’u’lláh
Pioneer group of Occidental Bahá’ís in Paris, France, about the year 1900. Many are now known internationally.
Pioneer group of Occidental Bahá’ís in Paris, France, about the year 1900.
Many are now known internationally.
Bahá’ís of Melbourne, Australia. Miss Martha Root of America in center front row.
Bahá’ís of Melbourne, Australia. Miss Martha Root of America in
center front row.
over sixty years ago in favor of a universal language, uttered as it was in connection with other equally important social principles, offers a foundation upon which the spiritual side of the Esperantist Movement can safely rest.
An important step recently taken by the National Assembly of the Bahá’ís of Germany has been to establish a special committee, the function of which is to create contacts of mutually helpful cooperation between Bahá’ís and other liberal groups. The country has been divided into different districts, each placed under the jurisdiction of members of the committee, and the preliminary survey proved the essential need of additional Bahá’í literature in the German language. Among the booklets issued for use by this committee, the following titles have been especially helpful: Dr. Esslemont’s What Is the Bahá’í Movement? published by the Bahá’í group in Vienna; The Way to Peace, reprinted from Dr. Esslemont’s book, Bahá’u’lláh and the New Era, by the Spiritual Assembly of Esslingen; and the introductory article on the Cause entitled The Bahá’í Movement, Its History, Teaching and Significance, by Dr. Hermann Grossmann, published by the believers of Hamburg.
For several years the German Bahá’ís have published a monthly magazine entitled Die Sonne der Wahrheit, in addition to which since March, 1926, the German National Assembly has published an insert entitled Bahá’í Nachrichten, to give the more intimate news of the Cause. Special mention should be made of the publication of Dr. Auguste Forel’s The True Socialism of the Future, by the German Workers’ Abstinence Organization in Berlin; and Present Day Medicine in Self-Expression also by Dr. Forel. The 1927 Year Book of the Esperanto Movement and Palestine by General von Schoenaich are among the German works mentioning the Bahá’í Cause.
An attack on the educational work carried on by the believers of Esslingen, written by F. W. Forester in Die Menscheit, brought forth an effective reply by Dr. Forel.
As is natural, the possibilities of the German Youth Movement have been thoroughly appreciated by the Bahá’ís of that country, and many interesting contacts have been made with leaders of that movement.
Under the direction of Mrs. J. Stannard, an International Bahá’í Bureau has been maintained in Geneva, Switzerland, for two years, providing a meeting-place for Bahá’ís coming to Geneva through their interest in the activities of the League of Nations and of other international bodies centered in Geneva. An international Bahá’í magazine published by the Bureau has rendered signal service by assembling important references to the Bahá’í Cause in the works of European authors and in the European press. This magazine has been printed in German, French and English and the few numbers already brought out have been greatly appreciated by Bahá’ís in all countries.
A number of individual Bahá’ís reside in Italy and are actively distributing literature but conditions in that country make it impossible to publish any formal report.
The countries of northern Europe—Sweden, Denmark and Finland—were visited by Miss Martha Root during 1926 and 1927, and her experience and tireless energy greatly extended the boundaries of Bahá’í interest.. Her visit also proved a great stimulus to the Bahá’ís already resident in those countries, and the work of translating and distributing the literature is now going forward very rapidly.
From the Bahá’í point of view, conditions in Russia are extremely significant. Refraining from any political activities, as they are compelled to do by the Bahá’í teachings, the believers in Leningrad and Moscow have been recognized by the government and their religious meetings so far tolerated.
In southern Russia the existence of the Mashriqu’l-Adhkár at ‘Ishqábád. referred to separately in this volume, has
been for many years a potent factor in the promotion of the Cause. The Bahá’í communities of ‘Ishqábád and other cities in southern Russia number thousands of active workers, and they have brought their administration of the activities to a high degree of perfection through well-organized committees, many of which are concentrating upon the education of women.
The scope of the activities maintained by the ‘Ishqábád believers can be briefly indicated by the fact that in addition to publishing a monthly magazine they have a printing press entirely devoted to the publication of Bahá’í literature; and that within the past two years the Spiritual Assembly of ‘Ishqábád prepared a statement on the objects and purposes of the Bahá’í Cause which was presented to the heads of the Soviet Government in Moscow by a personal representative. Although their collective activities are officially tolerated and a fanatic who assassinated a Bahá’í in the city of Marv was severely punished, nevertheless the large reference library founded by the ‘Ishqábád believers cannot yet contain Baha'i works.
In mentioning current Bahá’í activities in the Balkan States the name of Miss Martha Root again appears as the principal factor. During a visit of several months in 1926, repeated in the early months of 1928, Miss Root has not only aroused a real interest in the Bahá’í teachings among members of the royal family of Rumania but also among leading editors and educators. Mrs. Louise Gregory, to take advantage of these opportunities, traveled from the United States to reside for some months in Bulgaria early in 1928. At the time of writing, no reports had yet been received concerning her activities.
The analysis of the religious situation in the Balkan countries made by all the Bahá’ís who have first-hand knowledge of that region, indicate clearly that the intolerable burden of economic, political and social oppression, which for so many centuries has stunted the collective life of those peoples, is now being lifted by an ever increasing demand among the people themselves for a more dynamic and useful spiritual experience. From some points of view it would appear that no part of the world offers better possibilities for universal religious quickening than the Balkan States.
The development of Bahá’í activities in Egypt has been overshadowed by a recent occurence, the importance of which is not confined to Egypt alone but is being felt throughout the whole of Islám and will eventually bear results in other countries as well. This event, consisting in a formal pronouncement by the Muslim Ecclesiastical Court of Egypt in an appeal affecting the religious status of Egyptian Bahá’ís, was the outcome of a series of anti-Bahá’í disturbances instigated by Muḥammadan elements especially active in the remoter villages. In certain localities, pressure was brought to bear against the Bahá’ís by invoking the Islámic law which asserts that the marriage relationship cannot be entered into or maintained by heretics. The attempt to carry out this law produced the greatest hardship among many Bahá’í families and appeal was made, jurisdiction of which was eventually taken by the highest ecclesiastical authorities of the land.
Writing to the Bahá’ís of Europe and America on this subject, Shoghi Effendi made the following statement on February 12, 1927:
“Of all the diverse issues which today are gradually tending to consolidate and extend the bounds of the Revelation of Bahá’u’lláh, the decision of Egypt’s religious tribunal regarding the Bahá’ís under its jurisdiction appears at the present moment to be the most powerful in its challenge, the most startling in its character, and the most perplexing in the consequences it may entail. I have already alluded in my letter of January 10, 1926, addressed to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of the United States
and Canada, to a particular feature of this momentous verdict, which after mature deliberation has obtained the sanction of Egypt’s highest ecclesiastical authorities, has been communicated and printed, and is regarded as final and binding. I have stressed in my last reference to this far-reaching pronouncement the negative aspect of this document which condemns in most unequivocal and emphatic language the followers of Bahá’u’lláh as the believers in a heresy, offensive and injurious to Islám, and wholly incompatible with the accepted doctrines and practice of its orthodox adherents.
“A closer study of the text of the decision will however reveal the fact that coupled with this strong denunciation is the positive assertion of a truth which the recognized opponents of the Bahá’í Faith in other Muḥammadan countries have up to the present time either sedulously ignored or maliciously endeavored to disprove. Not content with this harsh and unjustifiable repudiation of the so-called menacing and heretical doctrines of the adherents of the Bahá’í Faith, they proceed in a formal manner to declare in the text of that very decision their belief that the Bahá’í Faith is a ’new religion’, ’entirely independent’, and by reason of the magnitude of its claim and the character of its ’laws, principles and beliefs’, worthy to be reckoned as one of the established religious systems of the world . Quoting various passages judiciously gleaned from a number of Bahá’í sacred books as an evidence to their splendid testimony, they proceed in a notable statement to deduce the fact that henceforth it shall be regarded as impossible for the followers of such a Faith to be designated as Muslim, just as it would be incorrect and erroneous to call a Muḥammadan either Christian or Jew.
“It cannot be denied that in the course of the inevitable developments of this present situation the resident Bahá’ís of Egypt, originally belonging to the Muslim Faith, will be placed in a most humiliating and embarrassing position. They however cannot but rejoice in the knowledge that whereas in various Muḥammadan countries and particularly in Persia the overwhelming majority of the leaders of Islám are utterly opposed to any form of declaration that would facilitate the universal recognition of the Cause, the authorized heads of their co-religionists in one of the most advanced communities in the Muḥammadan world have, of their own initiative, published to the world a document that may justly be termed as the first charter of liberty emancipating the Bahá’í Faith from the fetters of orthodox Islám.”
The foregoing decision, which further lays down “in unmistakable terms the condition that under no circumstances can the marriage of those Bahá’ís who have been required to divorce their Muslim wives be renewed by the Muslim Court unless and until the husbands formally recant their faith by solemnly declaring that the Qur’án is the ‘last’ book of God revealed to man, that no law can abrogate the Prophet’s law, no faith can succeed His faith, no revelation can claim to fulfill His revelation”, logically silences once and for all those ill-considered assertions so frequently made by Christian missionaries that the Bahá’í Cause is nothing more than a form of Islám attempting to extend Muḥammadan influence throughout the West. Christianity was not more completely repudiated by the Sanhedrin, nor more bitterly assailed by the officials of the Roman Empire, than the religion of Bahá’u’lláh under the combined attack of ecclesiastical and civil authorities in Persia from its early days.
The report of current activities furnished by the Spiritual Assembly of Baghdád conveys the information that during the autumn of 1927 the local Bahá’ís took possession of a house which had been purchased for dedication and use as a Mashriqu’l-Adhkár. A group of three buildings nearby will also be acquired in the near future, and devoted to the application of those social ideals which so vitally relate the Mashriqu’l-Adhkár to the needs of the present age.
The Baghdád believers are also taking steps to secure photographs of the cave in the Sargul Mountain near Sulimaniyye where Bahá’u’lláh spent two years in solitude during the time He and His followers were banished by the Persian Government to Baghdád. It was this period of voluntary seclusion, following shortly after the execution of the Báb in 1850, which bequeathed to history irrevocable proof that Bahá’u’lláh and not His half-brother, Subhi-Ezel, was in reality the one celebrated by the Báb and for whom the Bábí Movement was the spiritual preparation. For by this act of voluntary retirement, Bahá’u’lláh gave Subhi-Ezel unhampered opportunity to exercise the spiritual leadership over the Bábís which the latter claimed as his right. The result, however, demonstrated Subhi-Ezel’s utter incapacity to maintain unity among the Bábís, inspire them with faith and confidence sufficient to meet their many difficulties and guide them along lines of true future progress. Nothing but the return of Bahá’u’lláh could re-quicken the flames of their ardor or supply them with the more universal principles of conduct and faith required to transform the Bábí Movement into a world religion.
At Baghdád, as in Egypt, an incident of utmost importance to all Bahá’ís has taken place. A house occupied by Bahá’u’lláh during His exile at Baghdád and indicated by Him to be a permanent Bahá’í Shrine and a center of pilgrimage commemorating the gloomiest days and bitterest experiences of the Cause, some years ago was seized from its Bahá’í custodians by the local mullas and placed under Muslim jurisdiction. In connection with this episode, the American National Spiritual Assembly received the following statement written by the Guardian of the Cause on November 6, 1925:
“The sad and sudden crisis that has arisen in connection with the ownership of Bahá’u’lláh’s sacred house in Baghdád has sent a thrill of indignation and dismay throughout the whole of the Bahá’í world. Houses that have been occupied by Baha'u'llah for well-nigh the whole period of His exile in ‘Iráq; ordained by Him as the chosen and sanctified object of Bahá’í pilgrimage in future; magnified and extolled in countless Tablets and Epistles as the sacred center round which shall circle all peoples and kindreds of the earth—lie now, due to fierce intrigue and ceaseless fanatical opposition, at the mercy of the declared enemies of the Cause .. . .
“Conscious of the fact that this property has been occupied by Bahá’í authorized representatives for an uninterrupted period of not less than thirty years, and having successfully won their case at the Justice of Peace and the Court of First Instance, the Bahá’ís the world over cannot believe that the high sense of honor and fairness which inspires the British Administration of ‘Iráq will ever tolerate such grave miscarriage of justice. They confidently appeal to the public opinion of the world for the defense and protection of their legitimate rights now sorely trampled under the feet of relentless enemies.”
Aroused by this unjustifiable seizure, the National and Local Spiritual Assemblies of all countries instantly communicated an appeal to the local authorities at Baghdád and also to the British Colonial Office. It may be of interest here to quote a few passages from the letter addressed to King Feisal by the American National Spiritual Assembly:
“We are prepared to recognize that the case must, for the present at least, be considered from the point of view of public policy rather than of simple equity, since the fanatical minority hostile to the Bahá’í Religion—those responsible for the seizure—have so little title to the property that their action can only be regarded as one more evidence of their desire to persecute the Bahá’ís. And where this spirit of religious intolerance is fanned to flame, matters of simple equity are all too frequently lost sight of in the graver public issues involved.
“Therefore we urge your Majesty to appreciate our feeling of special rever-
ence for the habitation occupied by Bahá’u’lláh during the period of His exile in Baghdád, our deep spiritual devotion for this scene of His loving sacrifice in behalf of universal truth, our whole-hearted resolution to assert the rights of the Bahá’ís in every legitimate way at our command, an attitude fully shared by our fellow believers in all lands. The case cannot be considered as merely local in significance, nor as a merely temporary and unimportant issue between Muslim leaders on the one hand and Bahá’í heretics on the other, nor as a dispute which can be measured in terms of the value of the property as real estate. The Cause of Bahá’u’lláh transcends the limits of ‘Iráq or Persia. It is no movement of heresy or reform contained within the boundaries of the Muslim Faith. The teachings of Bahá’u’lláh, and the glorious influence of His son, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, have penetrated to the West as to the East, and the Cause stands ever more visibly as an independent Religion whose object is to promote the unity of mankind.
“If any of those opposing the Bahá’ís in ‘Iráq should protest that, as between Muslim leaders and the Bahá’ís the former deserve the support of the civil authorities because of their loyalty to the Religion of Muḥammad, it can be asked by the Bahá’ís what Muslim leader ever inspired thousands of Christians with true reverence for Muḥammad as a Messenger of God? Yet this superhuman task has been accomplished by Bahá’u’lláh and ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, whose writings on this subject have been published and broadcast throughout Europe and America, as we can make evident if required ...
“But perhaps there are those who will admit these facts, yet insist that the rights of the Bahá’ís to these shrines need not be observed for the reason that the religion founded by Bahá’u’lláh is feeble and unimportant, lacking accumulated treasures, impressive edifices, public influence and famous names. If this view should be advanced, the answer of the Bahá’ís is no less sufficient and clear. We need but point out how, while a prisoner and an exile, Bahá’u’lláh revealed certain spiritual messages to many rulers and kings—to the Sháh of Persia, the Sulṭán of Turkey, to Queen Victoria, Napoleon III, the Czar of Russia, the King of Prussia and to the Emperor of Austria-Hungary. A similar message was sent also to the President of the United States. In these letters Bahá’u’lláh established the ideal of universal peace, invoking the powerful rulers to observe this ideal, and prophesying the utter ruin of those who continued injustice toward their subjects and neglect of the religion of God. Has this not all come to pass? Have not the tyrannical thrones been overturned, while the ideal of universal peace now rules the hearts of men? By this and similar events too numerous to mention, the power which spoke through Bahá’u’lláh has been made manifest and the degradation of injustice been upheld for the whole world to behold. As between spiritual power and material force, surely they are blinded who weigh the importance and success of a religion in the scales of wealth, property and even numbers of adherents alone.”
The determination of the Bahá’ís to spare no efforts until these shrines have been restored, can be measured by the following reference to them in the words of Bahá’u’lláh:
“Remember that which hath been revealed unto Our servant Mihdí in the first year of Our exile in the Land of Mystery (Adrianople) . Therein We have predicted that which will befall the house in the days to come, lest he be grieved over that which hath been wrought by the robber and aggressor in days past. Verily, the Lord thy God knoweth all that is in heaven and earth. We thus dec1ared: Know thou in truth, this is not the first humiliation suffered by My house, for in days gone by the hand of the oppressor abased and dishonored it. In truth I declare it shall be so abased in the days to come as to cause tears to flow from every discerning eye. Thus have We unfolded to thine eyes that which lieth hidden beyond the veil, inscrutable to all
A group of Bahá’ís at Baghdád, ‘Iráq.
A group of Bahá’ís at Baghdád, ‘Iráq.
Delegates to the Annual Bahá’í Convention in Egypt
Delegates to the Annual Bahá’í Convention in Egypt
Left, Dr. Susan I. Moody; right, Miss Elizabeth Stewart, the faithful Bahá’í nurse who served with Dr. Moody in Ṭihrán, Persia, and died recently in Philadelphia.
Left, Dr. Susan I. Moody; right, Miss Elizabeth Stewart, the faithful
Bahá’í nurse who served with Dr. Moody in Ṭihrán, Persia, and died
recently in Philadelphia.
but God, the Almighty, the All-praised, and in the fullness of time, shall the Lord by the power of truth exalt it in the eyes of all the world, cause it to become the mighty standard of His dominion, the Shrine round which shall circle the concourse of the faithful. Thus hath spoken the Lord thy God ere the day of lamentation is at hand. We have revealed it unto thee in this Our sacred epistle, lest thou shouldst sorrow at that which hath befallen the house through the assaults of the enemy. All praise to God, the All-knowing, the All-wise."
It would be impossible adequately to report current Bahá’í activities throughout Persia without taking into consideration the larger factors represented by the general civil condition of the country. The interval of over eighty years since the declaration of the Báb has been for Persia an ever more rapid transition from medieval autocracy in church and state to representative government and to western ideals of education and progress. In effect, the rise of the Bahá’í Cause and its gradual penetration of Persia has paralleled the penetration of early Christianity throughout the Roman Empire, undergoing the dissolution of long established forms of civil authority and religious belief. It is a matter of the most intense interest to study in detail how the Bahá’ís of each country adapt the same teachings to conform to a different social and spiritual environment. The development of the Cause in Persia has necessarily been in the direction of a collective unity reproducing on the voluntary plane, all the elements of a civilization. What the country has lacked from the modern civil point of view, the Bahá’ís have been compelled to supply by their own endeavors. Thus, the Persian Bahá’ís have instituted a comprehensive educational program not at all required in countries of Europe and America where educational facilities have been made available to all. The dissolution of Persia has been economic as well as political, and the Persian Bahá’ís consequently have also drawn together to a certain extent for mutual co-operation in industry and trade.
While public recognition of the degree to which the Persian Bahá’ís are sustaining the responsibilities of civilization, is officially withheld, the fact remains that any progressive measures undertaken to re-habilitate Persia along the lines of modern liberalism and progress, would have to be based upon the Bahá’í community of that land for the same reasons compelling Constantine to base his public policies upon the Christian elements of his Empire.
It is the Persian Bahá’ís who have most ardently sought out and developed the advantages of modern education, including instruction in technical subjects; it is the Persian Bahá’ís who have psychologically overcome the traditional discrimination against women; and it is the Persian Bahá’ís finally, who, of all citizens, have cultivated the simple virtues of honesty, good-will and co-operation which are the vital elements in any democracy worthy the name.
Even by Bahá’ís, Persia is the least traveled of countries today. Practically the only eye witnesses of the numerical importance of the adherents in Persia have been Dr. Susan I. Moody, the much beloved and venerated American who for many years served at the Tarbíyat School for Girls in Ṭihrán, and by Mrs. Florence Evelyn Schopflocher of Montreal, Quebec, who has made journeys in the interior not duplicated by any other western woman.
In another part of this volume of The Bahá’í World is reprinted the letter written by the American National Assembly to the Sháh of Persia in July, 1926, to plead for justice in behalf of the persecuted Bahá’ís of that country, which throws some light upon the tragic conditions confronting the Persian believers almost continuously since the first public activities of the Bab in 1844.
While it is gratifying to record at this time some improvement in the official attitude of the Persian Government with respect to these local outrages, the civil
control of the population is by no means as complete as in the case of western nations and consequently on March 21, 1928, the American National Assembly addressed another letter on this same subject to the heads of the Islámic Religion in Ṭihrán, passages of which are quoted below:
“Honored spiritual brothers:
“Although human custom has not yet established the practice of friendly and helpful communication between the different religious bodies of the East and the West, nevertheless we address this letter to the honored chiefs of Islám in confidence that it will be received in the same spirit of courtesy and brotherhood with which it is written, and with equal recognition of the fact that the conditions and needs of the present age make religious separation undesirable and in fact impossible.
“We hold firmly to the truth that the greatest gift of God to this enlightened age is the knowledge of the oneness of mankind, which knowledge it must be the supreme privilege of all who hold positions of religious authority to spread throughout the world. It is this truth which encourages us to write to the chiefs of Islám in Persia, Turkey, Egypt and India, despite the long centuries of misunderstanding which have prevented spiritual intercourse and co-operation between followers of one Prophet and followers of another. No wise and just person will fail to admit that religious teachings are the source of all human ideals, and the motive for all human action. If the teachings of religion at any time appear to justify separation and strife in the realm of belief, then history proves that separation and strife invariably follow in the realm of action. On the other hand, whenever religion upholds the ideal of fellowship and love, warfare and strife tend to disappear.
“Such a universal and divine truth could not be understood during previous ages, when humanity was grievously separated by language, custom, tradition and phvsical barriers of land and sea, but today its light dawns upon the East and the West, when the peoples of the different nations are drawn ever closer together through the new bonds of travel, education and communication by telegraph and radio. Does not this unbreakable material bond place upon the leaders of religion a new responsibility to emphasize those teachings which produce an unbreakable spiritual bond? Does not the overwhelming disaster of modern warfare inspire all people devoted to the victory of true religion to increase their efforts to inculcate the ideal of peace?
“First and foremost, then, our purpose in addressing this letter to you is to plead for peace in the realm of religion, that there may be peace among the nations of East and West. How can there be peace among the nations, unless there be the spirit of peace among the religions?
“We feel that it is right and proper for us to discuss this vital point with those who hold the reins of power in the Religion of Islám, since the Bahá’ís alone, among the great population of the West, recognize that Muḥammad was a divine Prophet and true Messenger of God. We gratefully acknowledge His mighty accomplishments in spreading spiritual ideals of brotherhood among millions of people in the East, and we appreciate the fact that the West itself still enjoys many blessings originally received from the noble and enlightened civilization which arose as the result of Muḥammad’s influence and which proved the power of His Word. There is no doubt in our minds but that the period of progress known to our historians as the Renaissance was inspired by the enlightenment of the Saracen world. But while these truths are universally accepted by the Bahá’ís, they are far from being prevalent among the Christians of Europe and America, and on many occasions the Bahá’ís of those regions have been reproached and even bitterly assailed for accepting Muḥammad as a Prophet of God ....
“The gratitude of the chiefs of Islám is surely due to Bahá’u’lláh for His success in removing from His Christian fol-
lowers all hostility for Muḥammad and replacing this feeling with one of understanding and reverence. We still recall, with indelible memory, those occasions when ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, the eldest son of Bahá’u’lláh and His most eminent servant and follower, publicly proclaimed to large and distinguished audiences in this country the verity of the Prophethood of Muḥammad.
“These are His words, spoken at the Jewish Synagogue, Congregation Emmanu-El, in the city of San Francisco, October 12, 1912:
“‘Consider that His Holiness Muḥammad was born among the savage and barbarous tribes of Arabia, lived among them and was outwardly illiterate and uninformed of the Holy Books of God. The Arabian people were in the utmost ignorance and barbarism. They buried their infant daughters alive, considering this to be an evidence of a valorous and lofty nature. They lived in bondage and serfdom under the Persian and Roman governments and were scattered throughout the desert engaged in continual strife and bloodshed.
“‘When the light of Muḥammad dawned, the darkness of ignorance was dispelled from the deserts of Arabia. In a short period of time those barbarous peoples attained a superlative degree of civilization which with Baghdád as its center extended as far westward as Spain and afterward influenced the greater part of Europe. What proof of Prophethood could be greater than this, unless we close our eyes to justice and remain obstinately opposed to reason?
“‘Today the Christians are believers in Moses, accept Him as a Prophet of God and praise Him most highly. The Muḥammadans are likewise believers in Moses, accept the validity of His Prophethood, at the same time believing in Christ. Could it be said that the acceptance of Moses by the Christians and Muḥammadans has been harmful and detrimental to those people? On the contrary it has been beneficial to them, proving that they have been fair minded and just. What harm could result to the Jewish people then if in return they should accept His Holiness Christ and acknowledge the validity of the prophethood of His Holiness Muḥammad? By this acceptance and praiseworthy attitude the enmity and hatred which have afflicted mankind so many centuries would be dispelled, fanaticism and bloodshed pass away and the world be blessed by unity and agreement.’
“Unfortunately, even while this example of spiritual love and wisdom was being set by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in the United States, the followers of Muḥammad in Persia, misunderstanding the motives and teachings of Bahá’u’lláh, were resisting the Persian Bahá’ís with every means at their command, persecuting them bitterly, and inflicting agony and death.
“It is not our purpose to pass spiritual judgment upon the authors of these shameful deeds, for judgment is of God. We refer to such matters only in order to state our grounds for uttering this appeal to the chiefs of Islám in behalf of our religious brothers and sisters in Persia today. For alas, the cup of martyrdom in the path of Bahá’u’lláh has not yet been drained. Even this year, in the village of Ardibíl, in the province of Ádharbáyján, an innocent and blameless Bahá’í was murdered for no other reason than that he had refused to abjure his loyalty to the teachings of Bahá’u’lláh, and the criminal was led to commit this damnable act by the instigation of the local mullás, who consequently share the guilt of the crime .....
“It should be made known to you, we feel, that a year ago, moved profoundly by the atrocious murder of eight Bahá’ís in the town of Jahrum, we addressed a respectful supplication to His Majesty Sháh Pahlaví, imploring him to exercise justice in behalf of the oppressed Persian Bahá’ís, who had never departed from loyalty to the government of their land, and whose teachings in fact solemnly declare that loyalty to just government is loyalty to God. But our appeal brought no response, and the oppression continues unchecked.
“Now we make a similar appeal to the heads of the religion of Islám, not to complain of the government, but to invoke those spiritual powers which have greater influence than civil rule over the thoughts and motives of the heart. Our plea is that you heed the wrongs committed by followers and teachers of Islám in the name of religion. Can anyone still believe that a religion will prosper by drinking the blood of innocent men and women? Do not wise persons in all countries understand that when evil passions are aroused against the alleged enemies of any religion, they invariably, in the providence of God, return to their source and rend the religion itself in twain? Thus it would be a true service to Islám, as well as to humanity, if the chiefs of the religion of Muḥammad should now counsel mercy and give forth teachings of peace.”
Several small Bahá’í communities have been founded among the Islámic populations of the Mediterranean countries of North Africa through the efforts of the Bahá’ís of Egypt. In South Africa the Cause is well established in Capetown, the first believer being a man who received the message from 'Abdu'l-Baha during 1912 in New York City. The first Bahá’í teacher to visit South Africa was Miss Fanny Knobloch, who arrived in 1920 and for two years journeyed to many parts of South Africa. Miss Knobloch is preparing to return to this field with the intention of devoting the rest of her life to the development of the Movement in South Africa.
A notable event in the history of the Cause in Capetown was the brief visit paid by Miss Martha Root during her world tour in 1924. At that time Miss Root was enabled to hold many large public meetings in Capetown, and radio as well as newspaper facilities were placed at her disposal.
The message of Bahá’u’lláh was brought to Australia, New Zealand, Tasmania, Norfolk Islands and other islands of the Antipodes by Mr. and Mrs. Hyde Dunn, two believers formerly resident in the United States.
By combining his teaching work with a business occupation which caused him to travel throughout the islands, Mr. Dunn in a few years’ time was enabled to lay foundations of interest which have since eventuated in the election of several local Spiritual Assemblies. The believers of Australia and New Zealand at present expect to be able to elect a National Spiritual Assembly within the next two years.
The Australian friends gratefully acknowledge the remarkable help given them by Miss Martha Root in 1924 and by Mr. Siegfried Schopflocher of Montreal, Quebec, in 1927. The believers of Australia and New Zealand publish a quarterly Bahá’í magazine entitled Herald of the South. It is a matter of interesting record to refer to the success with which the Australian believers have combined the Bahá’í teachings with their promotion of Esperanto.
Lacking late reports of activities in India and Burma, it is possible at this time only to make the briefest reference to the Bahá’í work in that country. The Cause has made steady progress in India and Burma, and a National Spiritual Assembly has been elected annually for many years. The special racial and religious difficulties of India provide increasingly a fertile field for the Bahá’í message of religious unity, and the Hindu and Muḥammadan believers by their example of sympathy and co-operation have created a nucleus of religious unity which is beginning, especially in educational centers, to produce far-reaching results. A monthly magazine is published by the believers of India in three languages, Persian, English and Burmese. One example of the penetration of the Bahá’í message in India was published some months ago in the Bahá’í magazine, Star of the West:
Marked spot on hilltop indicates center of New Zealand, where the sand from the Holy Land was placed by Bahá’ís. The city of Nelson in the valley below.
Marked spot on hilltop indicates center of New Zealand, where the sand from
the Holy Land was placed by Bahá’ís. The city of Nelson in the valley below.
First Bahá’í Feast held in Auckland , New Zealand, January, 1923. Mr. and Mrs. Dunn in center standing.
First Bahá’í Feast held in Auckland , New Zealand, January, 1923.
Mr. and Mrs. Dunn in center standing.
“One of the tangible results of the visit of Shaykh ‘Abdur Rehman Hindi of Damascus was that the Arya Samaj of Agra invited Mírzá Maḥmúd and Shaykh Muhyeddin Sabri to address the Arya Samaj congregation when they visited Agra, and their meetings are now open to all Bahá’í visitors; western tourists inclined to lecture should please make special note of this.
“The Arya Samajists liked these lectures so much that they extended the invitation to their centenary at Muttra at once to us and besought Mírzá Maḥmúd to attend the function. He accepted the invitation on behalf of the Bahá’í Community and assured them that if he were unable to come some representative would surely come.
“The Arya Samaj are a protestant movement in Hinduism who are trying to reform Hindu society and bring it up-to-date without reference to the orthodox interpretation of the Hindu scriptures; although as far as possible they try to read their interpretations into the ancient texts.
“This was their hundredth anniversary of the birth of their regenerator, Dayananda Sarasvati, and extensive preparations had been made to celebrate it all over India in addition to the huge celebrations organized to be held at Muttra, thirty miles north of Agra.
“The celebrations lasted more than a week and it was said that more than 2,000,000 visitors were taking part. There were huge pendals and extensive camps put up, the main pendal itself being 225x225 feet. The platform accommodated about 2,000 persons and when full the pendal must have contained 25,000 squatters, as there was only one single chair for the president, all others sitting down on the ground.
“Prof. and Mrs. Pritam Singh, with a number of students from the Cawnpore, Siyyid Maḥfoozu’l Haq, the editor of Kaukeb-e Hind from Delhi, Siyyid Abid Husayn, Saiduddin Baruney and the writer from Agra were the Bahá’í delegates to the Centenary, ten in all.
“The management were kind enough to allot a camp to the Bahá’í delegates adjacent to the main pendal and the camp manager’s tent on a raised platform to the north, where in gold letters on red ground ‘Bahá’í Camp’ was displayed to all passers-by and attracted a large number of enquirers. The Bahá’í delegates were engaged from early in the morning till late in the evening answering questions, especially after the address on the Bahá’í Movement had been read. One question that almost everyone asked us was, ‘Why have we not heard of the Bahá’í Movement before today?’ and ‘Why do you not come out into the public more Often?’ The next most persistent ques- tion was, ‘Where can we get books on this Movement in Hindu or English?’ or ‘Have you books in Hindu or English?’ The more enthusiastic would exclaim that this is the Movement that India needs today, and the more sober ones would say, ‘We, as Arya Samajist, can agree with everything that the Bahá’í Movement says.’ Some even went so far as to ask whether their leaders had conferred with us.
“In short, the representative spent five unforgettable days at the ancient city of Muttra, distributing about 5,000 booklets to eager recipients, being the only non-Arya body who were permitted to distribute their literature within the camp.”
From Miss Agnes B. Alexander has been received the following account of Bahá’í activities in Japan:
“The Bahá’í Message of the coming of Bahá’u’lláh and the dawn of a new age was first taken to Japan during the life of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá by Bahá’í travelers who visited that country. It was not until 1914, though, that two Bahá’ís, through instructions from ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, went to reside in Japan for the sake of spreading these teachings. Residents of Honolulu, they had been prepared there, where the tide moving eastward meets the tide moving westward, for this work in Japan.
“The first of these teachers arrived in Japan in May, 1914, while the writer, proceeding from war stricken Europe,
reached that country in November of the same year. A weekly Bahá’í meeting was then started in Tokyo, which continued for many years. To these meetings came earnest young students who were seekers of truth. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá wrote in 1916 of these meetings, ‘Consider thou, what great favor God has bestowed that such spiritual meetings are being held in Tokyo and such heavenly gifts are being distributed.’
“One or both of these teachers resided at intervals in Japan from 1914 until the great earthquake and fire disaster of September, 1923. A third teacher also came to Japan in November, 1919, remaining there until September, 1923.
“In recent years a great change has come over the youth of Japan. Not satisfied with the old order of spiritual teachings of their forefathers, they are eagerly seeking for a solution of the present-day problems. Shintoism and Buddhism which gave comfort to their fathers does not satisfy them today, and Christianity as taught with many creeds and divisions, does not give the desired satisfaction. In the Bahá’í Message they find a teaching which is the spirit of this age and in harmony with modern problems. It does not require of them to give up the past teachings, but rather explains that the foundation of all religions is one. Thus they are drawn to this universal teaching.
“These youths are ushering in a new order of civilization. One of the principles of Bahá’u’lláh, that of a universal auxiliary language, is ardently promoted by them in the Esperanto Movement. Throughout Japan this movement has spread in schools and universities, where the students form classes and teach their fellow students this universal auxiliary language. This means of communication with peoples of other races and nations has great effect in bringing mutual understanding and love and in the hearts of these youths is born anew the desire for peace and brotherhood. Through the means of the Esperanto Movement, the Bahá’í Message has been given in many important centers in Japan where it has met with keen response without prejudice.
“Besides the students of Japan, some of the leading statesmen of that country have expressed themselves in hearty sympathy with the Bahá’í teachings. Among these was the late Marquis Okuma, the founder of Waseda University, who on hearing of the Movement, told the writer he was very glad she was in his country for the purpose of spreading these teachings.
“During the years 1916 and 1917, a number of translations of the Bahá’í teachings were published in Japanese. Among these were two publications in Japanese braille for the blind. The first was a message to the blind women of Japan. This was followed by a volume of the writings of Bahá’u’lláh and ‘Abdu’l-Bahá entitled, A Message of Light. The translator of this volume was a blind young man. Living in the country where he conducted a school for the blind, he found no one who could read English to him. With the help of his wife only, who knew the letters and could spell the words, he was enabled to transpose the writings into English braille, after which in the same way he was aided in the use of the dictionary in translating the English into Japanese. Through this work of love the Bahá’í Message has spread extensively among the blind of Japan.
“Other publications in Japanese were a booklet addressed to the women of Japan which gave the Bahá’í teachings concerning women; a volume entitled, The Religion of Love, translated by a group of young men in Tokyo; a compilation of the teachings on Peace; a pamphlet entitled, The New Civilization; and words of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in reference to the Bahá’í Temple in Chicago.
“In 1920 the small compiled booklet of these teachings, now translated into many languages, was published in Japanese. The translation was made by two Japanese friends, one a Buddhist priest and the other a former Christian evangelist to whom ‘Abdu’l-Bahá had sent the following message: ‘Convey on my be-
half the utmost love and longing to Mr. . . . . and similarly to Mr. . . . . . My hope is that these two souls may shine like unto two heavenly stars from the horizon of Japan and may be the cause of its enlightenment. That land has acquired material civilization and ephemeral advancement; we hope that it may acquire heavenly civilization.’ ‘Abdu’l-Bahá also wrote of the blind translator and the priest, ‘A blind soul is there, but is in the utmost enkindlement; likewise a priest lives there, endowed with great capacity.’
“For two years during 1920 and 1921, a Bahá’í monthly magazine was published in Japanese entitled, Higashi no Hoshi (Star of the East). The first year of its publication, the editor was a young Japanese girl.
“Through the co-operation of the newspapers, both English and Japanese, the Bahá’í teachings have been widely spread in Japan. Not only have they been published in the newspapers of Tokyo, but in the leading newspapers throughout that country. Many magazines also have pub- lished articles concerning these teachings, especially the Esperanto magazines. In the Japanese architectural monthly appeared the Chicago Bahá’í Temple plans together with the Bahá’í principles which were reproduced by the head of the Department of Architecture in the Imperial University, Tokyo, who recognized in these plans a new form of architecture.
“From Japan the Bahá’í Message was taken to Korea in 1921. There at the capital, Seoul, it received the official sanction of the Japanese government to be spread in Korea. During a month in Seoul, the writer addressed Japanese and Koreans both Buddhist and Christian, and the newspapers, Japanese, Korean and English, published articles and translations of the teachings together with pictures of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá and the Chicago Bahá’í Temple plan . A group of young men who heard the Message for the first time sent ‘Abdu’l-Bahá their expressions of faith in the Korean language of which the following are translations: ‘The Message of Truth which shines all around the universe’; ‘Various streams running into the same ocean’; ‘Found a fountain in the mountain’; ‘The same origin from the first’; ‘Just now I found the brilliant light of Bahá’; ‘The newest voice of Truth’; ‘The universal supreme mountain of Truth’; ‘Long life to the Bahá’í, the fair and impartial’; ‘O freedom! O Bahá’í!’
“Between the years 1916 and His passing in 1921, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá addressed nineteen Tablets to residents of Japan, including one to the new friends in Korea which was dated November 5, 1921. Seven of these Tablets were addressed to girl students of Tokyo, the only women of the Far East to receive messages from Him. The other Tablets, with two exceptions, were addressed to young men, and five of these were to blind young men. The following are extracts from these Tablets: ‘At present the Sun of Truth has dawned upon the land of Japan and the hope is that it may be illumined by heavenly teachings’ (December 27, 1918). ‘The teachings of His Holiness Bahá’u’lláh, like unto the rays of the sun, illumine the East as well as the West, vivify the dead and unite the various religions. They prove the Oneness of God, for they gather all communities of the world under the pavilion of the Oneness of the world of mankind’ (December 17, 1919). To a group of young Japanese men, who had sent greetings to ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, He replied: ‘I was very much gratified at your feelings and at the fact that such a tie exists now between East and West; such friendship between different nations’ (August 19, 1920).”
The complete text of the Tablets written by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá to Japanese and to Americans resident in Japan, with a foreword by Miss Alexander, was published by the Bahá’í Publishing Committee of New York in April, 1928.
No organized Bahá’í communities have as yet been established in China but largely due to the efforts of Miss Martha Root who spent several months in China during 1924, the Bahá’í teachings have
been brought to the attention of newspaper editors and college educators in the coast cities. The American Bahá’ís have published a Chinese translation of one of the booklets, and this has received wide distribution. It has been brought to the attention of the editors that a Chinese translation of the Esslemont volume was undertaken by a group of native students some years ago.
Bahá’í Japanese children.
Bahá’í Japanese children.
I.Excerpts from Bahá’í Sacred Writings.
II.A Statement of Present-Day Administration
of the Bahá’í Cause.
III.Bahá’í Calendar and Festivals.
IV.The Mashriqu’l-Adhkár.
V.Impressions of Haifa.
VI.Haifa, ‘Akká and Bahjí.
VII.Kunjangoon—The Village of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá.
VIII.Through India and Burma.
IX.Green Acre and the Ideal of World Unity.
X. References to the Bahá’í Faith.
XI.Queen Marie of Rumania Pays Tribute to the Baha'i Teachings.
His Honor Mírzá Abu’l-Faḍl Author of The Bahá’í Proofs and The Brilliant Proof
His Honor Mírzá Abu’l-Faḍl
Author of The Bahá’í Proofs and The Brilliant Proof
Translated by
Shoghi Effendi
TRUE civilization will unfurl its banner in the midmost heart of the world whenever a certain number of distinguished sovereigns of lofty aims — the shining exemplars of devotion and determination — shall, for the good and happiness of all mankind, arise with a firm resolve and clear vision to establish the cause of Universal Peace. They must make the cause of Peace the object of universal consultation, and seek by every means in their power to convene a conference of the governments of the world. They must conclude a firm treaty, and establish a covenant the provision of which shall be sound, clear and definite. They must promulgate it to the world, and cause it to be ratified by the unanimous decision of the whole human race.
This great and noble undertaking—the real source of the tranquillity of all the world — should be regarded as sacred by all who dwell on earth. All peoples and nations should bend their efforts to insure the stability and permanence of this supreme Covenant. In this universal treaty the limits and frontiers of all nations should be definitely fixed, the principles underlying the relations of governments expressly stated, and all inter-governmental agreements, relationships and obligations ascertained and clearly set forth.
In like manner, the size of the armaments of every government should be strictly limited, for if the preparation for war and the fighting forces of any government advance and increase, the suspicions of other governments will be aroused. The fundamental principle underlying this solemn Agreement should be so fixed that if one of the governments of the world should later violate any one of its provisions, all the governments on earth would arise to reduce it to utter submission, nay the human race as a whole should resolve with every power at its disposal to destroy that government. Should this greatest of all remedies be applied to the sick body of the world, humanity will assuredly recover from its ills and will remain safe and secure for all time . . . .
A few, unaware how much man can do if he will but try, regard this matter as really impracticable, and even beyond the range of human ability. Such is not the case, however. On the contrary, thanks to the unfailing grace of the Lord, to the loving-kindness of the favored of God, to the extraordinary endeavors of wise and capable souls, and to the thoughts and ideas of the peerless leaders of the times, nothing whatsoever can be regarded as unattainable. Nothing short of the highest endeavor and the firmest determination can possibly achieve this end. Many a cause, which past ages have regarded as a mere dream and fiction of the fancy has proved in these days to be practicable and easy of achievement. How then can this most great and lofty cause — the
day-star in the firmament of true civilization and the cause of the glory, the advancement, the well-being and the success of all humanity—be regarded as an impossibility? Of a surety, the day will come when its beauteous light shall illuminate the assemblage of man.
(‘Abdu’l-Bahá: The Secret of Divine
. . . Know thou of a certainty that Love is the secret of God’s holy Dispensation, the manifestation of the All-merciful, the fountain of spiritual outpourings. Love is heaven’s kindly light, the Holy Spirit’s eternal breath that vivifies the human soul. Love is the cause of God’s revelation unto man, the vital bond inherent, according to Divine creation, in the realities of things. Love is the one means that insures true felicity both in this world and the next. Love is the light that guideth in darkness, the living link that uniteth God with man, that assureth the progress of every illumined soul. Love is the most great Law that ruleth this mighty and heavenly cycle, the unique power that bindeth together the divers elements of this material world, the supreme magnetic force that directs the movements of the spheres in the celestial realms. Love revealeth with unfailing and limitless power the mysteries latent in the universe. Love is the spirit of life unto the adorned body of mankind, the establisher of true civilization in this mortal world, and the shedder of imperishable glory upon every high-aiming race and nation.
Whatsoever people is graciously favored therewith by God, its name shall surely be magnified and extolled by the Concourse from on high, by the company of angels, and the denizens of the Abha Kingdom. And whatsoever people turneth its heart away from this Divine Love—the revelation of the Merciful—shall err grievously, shall fall in despair, and be utterly destroyed. That people shall be denied all refuge, shall become even as the vilest creatures of the earth, victims of degradation and shame.
O ye beloved of the Lord! Strive to become the manifestations of the love of God, the lamps of Divine guidance shining amongst the kindreds of the earth with the light of love and concord.
All-hail to the revealers of this glorious light!
(Epistles of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá)
The Prophets of God one and all, Christ Himself, as well as the Blessed Beauty (Bahá’u’lláh), have all appeared and raised the call with the one purpose of transforming the world of man into the Kingdom of God. Their common aim was to turn the earthly into heavenly, darkness into light, things that are satanic into things Divine. They strove to establish the reign of harmony and love amongst the children of men, to unfold to their eyes the fundamental unity of all mankind, to demolish the foundations of differences in the world, and to confer upon it the imperishable blessings of eternal life.
O thou honored one! Ponder in thine heart the world of being. Association, harmony and union are the source of life, whilst difference and division are the cause of ultimate destruction. Shouldst thou reflect on all created things, thou wilt observe that the existence of every being dependeth upon the association and combination of divers elements the disintegration of which will terminate the existence of that being.
O esteemed one! In cycles gone by, though harmony was established, yet, owing to the absence of means, the unity of all mankind was not achieved. Continents remained sundered and divided, nay even among the peoples of one and the same continent association and interchange of thought were well-nigh impossible. Consequently intercourse, understanding and unity amongst all the peoples and kindreds of the earth were unattainable. In this day, however, means of communication have multiplied, and the five continents of the earth have virtually merged into one. For every individual travels in every land, intercourse
with all nations and exchange of thought with all sorts and conditions of men are rendered most easy, so much so that every person, through the medium of world publications, is enabled to acquaint himself with the conditions, the faiths and the thoughts of all the peoples and nations of the world. In like manner, all the members of the human family, whether peoples or governments, cities or villages, stand in need one of the other. For none, is absolute independence henceforth possible, inasmuch as political ties unite all peoples and nations, and the bonds of trade and industry, of agriculture and education are being strengthened every day. Hence the unity of all mankind can in this day be achieved. Verily this is none other but one of the marvels of this wondrous age, this glorious century. Of this past ages have been deprived, for this century—the century of light—has been endowed with unique and unprecedented glory, power and illumination. Hence the miraculous unfolding of a fresh marvel every day. Eventually it will be seen how bright its candles will burn in the assemblage of man.
Behold how even as the dawning light of the morn this century is casting illumination upon the world’s darkened horizon. The first candle is unity in the political world the early glimmerings of which can now be discerned. The second candle is unity of thought in world undertakings, the consummation of which will ere long be witnessed. The third candle is unity in freedom which will surely come to pass. The fourth candle is unity of religion which is the cornerstone of the foundation itself, and which, by the power of God, will be revealed in all its splendor. The fifth candle is national unity which in this century will be securely established, causing all the peoples and nations of the world to regard themselves the citizens of one common fatherland. The sixth candle is racial unity making of all that dwell on earth peoples and kindreds of one race. The seventh candle is unity of language, i. e., the choice of a universal tongue in which all peoples will be instructed and converse. All that hath been mentioned will inevitably come to pass for the power of heaven will aid and assist in their realization.
Consider how great and unexampled have been the diversity of race, the antagonism of faiths and the conflict of opinions in Persia. In this day, however, the fragrance of holiness has produced so complete a fusion of the divers elements in that land that its varied peoples, its opposing sects and hostile races have become even as one soul. Reflect how great is their (Bahá’ís) love one for the other, how firm their union, how unified their interests, how close their association and intercourse. Christian, Jew, Zoroastrian and Muslim, having all banished every trace of estrangement and difference from their midst, have all gathered together in perfect harmony and understanding, with all affection, happiness and freedom.
Ponder in thine heart what the power of the Most Great Name (Bahá’u’lláh) hath wrought!
(Epistles of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá)
Religion is the greatest of all means for the establishment of order in the world and the peaceful contentment of all that dwell therein. The weakening of the pillars of Religion hath strengthened the hands of the foolish and made them bold and arrogant. Verily I say, whatsoever hath lowered the lofty station of religion hath increased the waywardness of the wicked, and the result cannot be but anarchy. . . .
Consider the civilization of the West, how it hath agitated and alarmed the peoples of the world. An infernal engine hath been devised, and hath proved so cruel a weapon of destruction that its like none hath ever witnessed or heard. The purging of such deeply-rooted and overwhelming corruptions cannot be effected unless the peoples of the world
unite in the pursuit of one common aim and embrace one universal faith.
(Bahá’u’lláh: Words of Paradise)
. . . Consider how it has been unmistakably demonstrated that the establishment of present-day Parliamentary institutions in some foreign lands has caused the spirit of restlessness to spread amongst the peoples, and those humanitarian reforms have led to harmful results. True, the institution of representative government and the establishment of consultative assemblies constitute the sure and solid foundation of the political edifice, but for this structure to be firmly founded, the following requisites must be fulfilled: First, the elected members of these assemblies must be pious and God-fearing, high-minded and chaste. Second, they must be fully acquainted with every minute detail of the Divine Ordinances, must be well-versed in principles that are lofty, sanctioned and recognized, must be skillful in internal administration and the conduct of foreign relations, must be conversant with profitable social sciences and content with their own financial standing. . . . But if the members of these assemblies, contrary to the aforementioned principles, be low-minded and ignorant, unfamiliar with the laws of government and wise statesmanship, slack, devoid of all sense of responsibility, foolish, negligent and self-seeking, no abiding results can possibly be achieved. Whereas in former times the poor and needy, in order to insure the vindication of their rights, had to offer gifts to a single individual, today they have to satisfy all the members of the assembly; otherwise their rights will never be secured. Should any man reflect, it will be made evident and manifest that the fundamental cause of oppression, corruption, injustice and maladministration lies in the neglect of true religion and the lack of sufficient knowledge on the part of the mass of the people.
. . . An upright character is of all things the most praiseworthy in the sight of God, in the eyes of His chosen ones, and of all men of understanding; provided its directing force be wisdom and knowledge, and its standard true moderation.
. . . In short, in this tumultuous sea of unbridled passions all the peoples and kindreds of Europe, with all their accomplishments, with all their fame, are lost and submerged. Hence the outcome of their civilization is null and void. Let no man wonder or question the truth of this saying, inasmuch as the essential purpose of the promulgation of fundamental laws and the fixing of men’s standards and principles should be the promotion of the common weal; and the true felicity of the human race lies in man’s nearness to God, and in the welfare and happiness of all the members of human society, both high and low.
. . . Were man to reflect, it will surely be made manifest unto him that in the world of being, whether inwardly or outwardly, Religion is the most enduring foundation, the noblest and mightiest edifice that transcends all the world of creation, that insures the attainment of spiritual perfection and human virtues, that ushers in the reign of true felicity and civilization for all the human race. A few of the shallow-minded, however, who have refused to make a serious and profound study of the origins and purpose of Divine Revelation and have taken as their standard the conduct of the false professors of the true faith of God, have concluded that Religion is a hindrance to true progress, nay the very establisher of strife and conflict, and the source of deep-seated hatreds and enmity amongst the divers communities of the world. How grievously they have failed to realize that the basis of the religion of God can in nowise be measured by the actions of them that claim to be its exponents, inasmuch as every good thing in the world, no matter how unique in its character, is liable to be misrepresented and misused! For instance, a shining lamp, if delivered into the hands of the foolish, the erring and the immature, will cease
to shed its radiance, will fail to dispel the gathering darkness, nay it will set on fire its holder and be itself consumed. Can it then be said that the lamp is to be condemned? By the graciousness of God! The lamp leadeth the way, and is the giver of light unto him that understandeth. How sad, therefore, is the plight of the blind !
. . . It is evident and manifest that the greatest of all means for the progress and advancement of all peoples, and the mightiest instrument for the establishment of true civilization in the world, is perfect love, concord and unity amongst the children of men. Nothing whatsoever in this world can be either conceived or achieved save through the power of unity, of harmony and concord; and the most perfect means thereunto is the true faith of God.
. . . Consider how the power of real union latent in the mission of the Prophets of God hath, both outwardly and inwardly, gathered together the hostile peoples and kindreds of the earth under the shadow of the one Word of God . . . Whenever true religion—the cause of the civilization, the glory, the happiness, the honor, the enlightenment and the advancement of backward, enslaved and ignorant peoples—falls into the hands of the foolish and fanatical divines, it is so sorely misused that its great light is turned into utter darkness . . . By the one true God! The minute elements of material civilization owe their existence to the bountiful grace of the Prophets of God. What utility can ever be conceived in this world which is not, either expressly or tacitly, mentioned in the Holy Scriptures? But of what avail is this? So long as the weapon is in the hand of the coward, neither life nor property is secure; nay, on the contrary, the power and strength of the robber is thereby increased.
(‘Abdu’l-Bahá: The Secret of Divine
O people of God! Behold in this day the aimless wanderings of the peoples of the world, their whims and fanciful desires, their notions, their principles, their pursuits. Of all the divers communities of the earth, this community, the followers of the Most Great Name, stands detached from every worldly desire, shorn from every ignoble thought and motive. Its intention is pure, its hopes undimmed, its endeavors to promote the Divine Teachings devoted and earnest. Its aim is to turn the face of the earth into a paradise, cause it to mirror forth the splendors of the eternal realm, make of the world another world, and inculcate in man the highest principles of education and human conduct.
Exert yourselves, O ye people of God! that through the gracious assistance and favor of the Blessed Beauty—May my life be a sacrifice unto His loved ones—your conduct and behavior, may even as the sun, shine forth in the world and cause you to be distinguished from the rest of mankind. It behooveth everyone of you so to live and act that when entering a city ye may be universally hailed and recognized by the beauty of your character, by your straightforwardness and loyalty, your trustworthiness and love, your piety and kindliness; that all the dwellers of the city may confidently bear witness to your being a true Bahá’í, and witness in you the essential characteristics of the Bahá’í faith. Not until ye attain this station, can ye claim loyalty to the Covenant and Testament of the Lord, to whom in accordance with His explicit utterances we stand pledged to abide by His will, His injuctions, His admonitions, His teachings and His behests.
O people of God! The hour hath surely come when the signs and perfections of the Most Great Name should in this wondrous age be unfolded to the eyes of all mankind, that all may with their hearts and minds testify that this age is the age of the Blessed Beauty (i. e., Bahá’u’lláh)—the most distinguished of all past generations and cycles ....
O people of God! Praised be the Lord that the Blessed Beauty hath loosened
the bonds of man, and burst his captive chains asunder. He thus proclaimed: Of one tree are all ye the fruit, and of one bough the leaves. Be kind unto every one, show affection unto all peoples. Treat the stranger as a friend, the foreigner as a loving companion. . . . Be a shelter to the distressed, comfort the disconsolate, assist the helpless, enrich the needy, heal the sick, relieve the suffering, dedicate yourselves to the service of the cause of conciliation and peace, and endeavor to become the true establishers of amity and truthfulness, of godliness and harmony in this mortal world.
O people of God! Make an effort, perchance the world of man may become illumined, and this mortal dust reflect the glory of the Abha Kingdom; for lo! humanity is wrapt in darkness, and the forces of violence and brutality reign supreme. The earth hath become an arena for the perpetrators of savage cruelties, and a field for the furthering of the designs of the ignorant and foolish. The children of men, but for a few whose noble aim is to promote the tranquillity and welfare of all mankind, have become either ravening as the wolves or senseless as the beast; either deadly as the poison, or worthless as the weed. Yours is the duty to consecrate your lives to the service of mankind, and to rejoice and glory therein.
Take heed lest ye offend any soul, or sadden and vilify your fellow-men, be they friend or foe; nay rather let your prayers be offered for them all, and supplicate for everyone of them the favors and tender mercies of the Most High. Beware, beware, lest ye cherish revenge in your hearts, though the offender be your deadly enemy. Beware, beware, lest ye be the cause of grief unto your neighbor, even though he be of the malicious and wicked. Look not at the creature, fix your gaze upon the almighty Creator. Regard not the wickedness of the froward, turn your eyes to the Lord, the source of compassion and power. Heed not the lowly dust, behold the radiance of the Orb that shineth from on high . . .
O Thou Divine and Loving Providence ! This servant of Thy sacred threshold yearneth to behold the friends of the East holding in their loving embrace the friends of the West, and all the children of men united even as the members of one body, the drops of one ocean, the birds of one garden, the pearls of one sea, the leaves of one branch, and the rays of one orb.
Verily Thou art the All-powerful, the Almighty, the Gracious, the All-knowing. . . .
(Epistles of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá)
Should anyone contend that true and enduring unity can in nowise be realized in this world, inasmuch as its peoples widely differ in their manners and habits, their tastes, their temperament and character, their thoughts and their views, to this we make reply that differences are of two kinds: the one is the cause of destruction, as exemplified by the spirit of contention and strife which animates mutually conflicting and antagonistic peoples and nations, whilst the other is the sign of diversity, the symbol and secret of perfection, and the revealer of the bounties of the All-glorious.
. . . Consider the flowers of the garden: though differing in kind, color, form and shape, yet, inasmuch as they are refreshed by the waters of one spring, revived by the breath of one wind, invigorated by the rays of one sun, this diversity increaseth their charm and addeth unto their beauty. How unpleasing to the eye if all the flowers and plants, the leaves and blossoms, the fruit, the branches, and the trees of the garden were all of the same shape and color ! Diversity of color, form and shape enricheth and adorneth the garden, and heighteneth the effect thereof. In like manner, when divers shades of thought, temperament and character, are brought together under the power and influence
of one central agency, the beauty and glory of human perfection will be revealed and made manifest. Nought but the celestial potency of the Word of God, which ruleth and transcendeth the realities of all things, is capable of harmonizing the divergent thoughts, sentiments, ideas and convictions of the children of men.
. . . Education can never transform the nature of the individual, yet its influence is unquestionably profound and far-reaching. Its pervading power unfoldeth such capacities and potentialities as are inherent in the reality of man. Though human minds differ in their essence and nature, yet the part played by education is highly significant, and its power admittedly effective. Hence the Divine injunction, recorded in the sacred writings of this wondrous Dispensation, making the cause of education, hitherto regarded as optional, binding upon all peoples. Education, irrespective of sex, has been enjoined upon all. If this matter be observed with care and detachment, it will be made evident that the education of the girl is of greater importance than that of the boy, inasmuch as the daughters of the present will become the mothers of the future, upon whom will devolve the primary education of their children, whose future life and character are shaped in accordance with the early training derived from maternal care and love.
(Epistles of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá)
We exhort mankind in these days when the countenance of Justice is soiled with dust, when the flames of unbelief are burning high and the robe of wisdom rent asunder, when tranquillity and faithfulness have ebbed away and trials and tribulations waxed severe, when covenants are broken and ties are severed, when no man knoweth how to discern light and darkness or to distinguish guidance from error:
O peoples of the world! Forsake all evil, hold fast that which is good. Strive to be shining examples unto all mankind, and true reminders of the virtues of God amidst men. He that riseth to serve My Cause should manifest My wisdom, and bend every effort to banish ignorance from the earth. Be united in counsel, be one in thought. Let each morn be better than its eve, each morrow richer than its yesterday. Man’s merit lies in service and virtue and not in the pageantry of wealth and riches. Take heed that your words be purged from idle fancies and worldly desires and your deeds be cleansed from craftiness and suspicion. Dissipate not the wealth of your precious lives in the pursuit of evil and corrupt affection, nor let your endeavors be spent in promoting your personal interest. Bestow in your days of plenty, be patient in the hour of loss. Adversity is followed by success, and rejoicings follow woe. Guard against idleness and sloth, and cling unto that which profiteth mankind, whether young or old, whether high or low. Beware lest ye sow tares of dissension among men or plant the thorns of doubt in pure and radiant hearts.
O ye beloved of the Lord! Commit not that which defileth the limpid stream of love or destroyeth the sweet fragrance of friendship. By the righteousness of the Lord! ye were created to show love one to another and not perversity and rancor. Take pride not in love for yourselves but in love for your fellow-creatures. Glory not in love for your country but in love for all mankind . . . . Let your eye be chaste, your hand trustworthy, your tongue sincere and your heart heedful. . . . Set your reliance on the army of justice, put on the armor of wisdom, let your adorning be forgiveness and mercy. . . . Regard not the children of the world and all their doings but fix your gaze upon God and His never-ending dominion. . . . Endeavor to the uttermost of your powers to establish the word of truth with eloquence and wisdom and to dispel falsehood from the face of the earth. . . .
( Bahá’u’lláh: Lawḥ-i-Hikmat )
The purpose of every Divine Revelation is the knowledge of God and the promotion of amity and concord amidst men; yet behold how in these days the law of God hath been made the cause of perversity and hate! Many, alas, have clung to their own ways and remained oblivious and unmindful of the way of God . . . .
O people of Baha! Gird up the loins of endeavor, haply sectarian contention and strife may be removed, nay utterly banished from the face of the earth. Arise in the love of God and of His servants for the triumph of this mighty Cause. Religious enmity and hate are a world-consuming fire the flames whereof are hard to quench. What but the Hand of Divine Power can save the peoples of the world from this devastating calamity? Beware lest ye be shedders of blood; unsheath the sword of your tongue from the scabbard of utterance for therewith ye shall conquer the citadels of men's hearts. We have annulled the command to slay men for unbelief; verily His mercy hath encompassed all created things could ye but perceive . . . . Kindle not discord on earth, shed not the blood of any soul, consume not the substance of your neighbor and be not the follower of every command and clamorous seducer. . . . As the pillars of Religion have tottered, so hath the power of the foolish, their temerity and arrogance waxed great. Whatsoever doth lower the exalted station of Religion will surely increase the heedlessness of the ungodly, and this in the end can lead but to confusion and chaos. Give ear, O discerning ones; and ye that perceive, take heed. . . . Hold fast unto chastity, cling ye to trustworthiness and faith. Show the utmost regard to the true interests of humanity, and seek not to gratify your personal desire.
O ye who follow Him whom the world hath wronged! Ye are the shepherds of mankind; protect the fold from the wolves of evil and selfish desires and adorn it with the fear of God. . . . By the righteousness of the Lord, the sword of virtue and goodly behavior is keener than blades of steel.
The sovereigns of the world—May the Lord assist them with His grace—must with one accord hold fast unto the Most Great Peace—the greatest of all means for the protection of mankind. Our hope is that they will arise to promote that which is conducive to the tranquillity of all peoples. It is incumbent upon them to convene a universal assembly, to attend it in person or delegate their ministers, to enforce such measures as will secure the establishment of unity and concord, and to turn from destructive armaments to the betterment of mankind. Should one sovereign rise against another, let all the rest arise to withstand him. In this manner will armies and instruments of war be rendered unnecessary save in such measure as is needful for national security. If the sovereigns of the world attain unto this most great boon, the peoples of every nation will joyfully and in peace engage in the pursuit of their own affairs and the lamentations and wailing of the many will thereby cease. We beseech God that He may graciously assist them to do that which is His will and pleasure, and He verily is the Lord of the throne above and of the dust beneath, the King of this world and the next. It is better and preferable that the honored sovereigns attend this assembly in person and lay down such measures as are necessary. Whoever among them doth arise to fulfiIl this command, he verily is the prince of sovereigns in the sight of God. Happy and blessed is he.
O peoples of the world! Verily, verily I declare: This wronged One hath not sought neither doth He seek leadership. His one purpose hath ever been to banish that which causeth difference among the kindreds of the earth and leadeth to the separation of peoples; that all may have peace and freedom to pursue that which profiteth them. We entreat our friends not to defile the purity of the Cause with the dust of falsehood, nor abase its exalted and sanctified station by recount-
ing marvels and miracles of which they may hear. Gracious God! This is the day when the wise should seek the counsel of this wronged One and supplicate the Almighty to grant them that which is the cause of abiding tranquillity and glory. Yet behold! how on the contrary they have striven with all their power to extinguish this brilliant and shining light. . . . In the face of all they have spoken We have remained patient at all times. We have left them in the hands of God.
(Bahá’u’lláh: Epistle to the Son of
  Shaykh Báqir.)
The Luminary of true understanding adorns this day the firmament of knowledge; well is it with him that beholds and turns thereunto. All that hath been foretold is made manifest in this day. Say, O friends ! choose not to stay afar from the ocean of God’s forgiveness, for lo! He is so nigh unto you. He who was hidden from sight is come and now appears in all His glory. In one hand He bears the water of life, in the other He brings the message of true liberty. Lay down and hold fast: lay down all that pertains to this earth, hold fast unto that which His generous hand doth bestow. He, the like of whom the eyes of the world have not seen, is now come. O friends! hasten, hasten unto Him; hearken, hearken to His call. The doings of the divines have turned the people away from God, and in the place of pious devotion malice reigns. They have strayed from God’s holy way; they have erred grievously and still claim to lead the way. We have instructed those leaders, called upon them to bear witness unto this day, and lead the servants unto God, the Most Holy. Say, 0 ye divines! Awake from your slumber, shake off your heedlessness, and be straightway mindful.
(Bahá’u’lláh: Epistle to Mihrabán)
The world is in turmoil and its agitation waxeth day by day. Its face is turned toward waywardness and irreligion. So grievous shall be its plight that to disclose it now would not be meet and seemly. Many a day shall pass ere it be relieved from its sore travail. And in the fullness of time there shall appear all of a sudden that which will cast terror into the very heart of mankind; then and only then will the Divine Standard be unfurled, then will the Nightingale of Holiness warble its melody upon the Tree of Life.
(Bahá’u’lláh : Prophetic Utterance   Revealed in 1878 A. D.)
O Son of Man ! If thou lovest Me turn away from thyself, and if thou seekest My pleasure regard not thine own; that thou mayest die in Me and I eternally live in thee.
O Son of Being ! My love is My stronghold; he that entereth therein is safe and secure, and he that turneth away shall surely stray and perish.
O Son of Spirit ! I created thee rich, why dost thou impoverish thyself? Noble I made thee, wherewith dost thou abase thyself? Out of the essence of knowledge I manifested thee, why seekest thou enlightenment from anyone beside Me? Of the clay of love I moulded thee, how dost thou busy thyself with another? Turn thy sight unto thyself that thou mayest find Me abiding in thee, mighty, powerful and self-subsisting.
O Son of Spirit! Vaunt not thyself over the poor for I lead him on his way and behold thee in thine evil plight and confound thee evermore.
O Son of Being! How couldest thou forget thine own faults and busy thyself with the faults of others? Who doeth this is accursed of Me.
O Son of Man! Breathe not the sins of others so long as thou art a sinner. Shouldst thou transgress this command accursed art thou and to this I testify.
O Son of Man ! My calamity is My providence; outwardly it is fire and vengeance but inwardly it is light and mercy. Hasten thereunto that thou mayest become an eternal light and an immortal
spirit. This is My command unto thee, do thou observe it.
O Son of Being! Busy not thyself with this world for with fire We test the gold and with gold We test Our servants.
O Son of Man! Bestow My wealth upon My poor, that in heaven thou mayest draw from spheres of unfading splendor and treasures of imperishable glory. But by My life! to offer up thy soul is a more glorious thing couldst thou but see with Mine eye.
O Children of Men! Know ye not why We created you from one clay? That no one should exalt himself over the other. Ponder at all times in your hearts how ye were created. Since We created you all from one same substance it behooveth you to be even as one soul, to walk with the same feet, eat with the same mouth and dwell in the same land; that from your inmost being, by your deeds and actions, the signs of oneness and the essence of detachment may be made manifest. This is My counsel unto you, O Concourse of light! Heed ye this counsel that ye may obtain the fruit of holiness from the tree of wondrous glory.
O Son of Dust! Verily I say unto thee, of all men the most negligent is he that disputeth idly and seeketh to advance himself over his brother. Say: O Brethren! Let deeds, not words, be your adorning.
O Sons of Earth! Know verily the heart wherein lingers the least trace of envy shall never attain My everlasting Dominion, nor inhale the fragrance of sanctity breathing from My holy Kingdom.
O Living Dust! I am in communion with thee, yet thou wouldst have no trust in Me. The sword of rebelliousness hath cut down the tree of thy hope. I am at all times near unto thee but thou art ever far from Me. Imperishable glory have I chosen for thee, yet boundless degradation hast thou chosen for thyself. While there is yet time return and lose not thy chance.
O Ye That are Foolish Yet Have a Name to be Wise! Wherefore wear ye the guise of the shepherd yet inwardly are but wolves intent upon My fold? Ye are even as the star that preceedeth the dawn which appeareth radiant and luminous yet leadeth the wayfarers of My city astray into paths of perdition.
O Fair in Semblance Yet Inwardly Foul! Ye are even as clear yet bitter water which to outward seeming is crystal pure but when proved by the Divine Assayer not a drop thereof shall be accepted. Yea, the sunbeam falleth alike upon the mirror and the dust, yet differ they in reflection even as doth the star from the earth, nay immeasurable is the difference!
O Son of Dust! All that is in heaven and on earth I have destined for thee except the hearts of men which I have made the habitation of My beauty and glory; yet thou didst give My home and dwelling to another than Me. And whensoever the manifestation of My holiness repaired unto His abode a stranger found He there, and, homeless, hastened unto the sanctuary of the Beloved. Notwithstanding, I revealed not thy secret and desired not thy shame.
O Children of Dust! Tell the rich of the midnight sighing of the poor lest negligence lead them unto destruction and deprive them of their share of the tree of wealth. Bounty and generosity are attributes of Mine; well is it with him that adorneth himself with My attributes.
O Rich Ones of the Earth! The poor among you are My trust; guard ye My trust, and be not wholly occupied with your own ease.
O My Friend! Thou art the day-star of the heavens of My holiness, let not the defilement of the world eclipse thy splendor. Rend asunder the veil of negligence, that from behind the clouds thou mayest emerge resplendent and adorn all beings with the robe of Life.
O Children of Negligence! Set not your affections on mortal sovereignty and
rejoice not therein. Ye are even as the heedless bird that with entire abandon warbleth upon the bough, when of a sudden the fowler Death doth hurl it upon the dust. Then will no trace remain of its melody, its form or color. Wherefore, take heed, O bond-slaves of passion!
O My Servants! Ye are the trees of My garden; ye must bring forth goodly and wondrous fruits, that ye yourselves and others may profit therefrom. Thus it is encumbent upon everyone to engage in crafts and professions, for therein lies the secret of wealth, O men of understanding! . . . Trees that yield no fruit have been and will ever be fit for fire.
O My Servant! The basest of men are they that yield no fruit upon the earth. They are counted as dead; nay better are the dead in the sight of God than these idle and worthless souls.
(Bahá’u’lláh: Hidden Words)
The source of all good is trust in God, submission unto His command, and contentment with His holy will and pleasure . . . .
True reliance consists in pursuing one’s calling and profession in this world, holding fast unto God and seeking naught but His grace, inasmuch as in His hands is the destiny of His servants. . . .
True courage and power is to promote the Word of God and stand steadfast in His love . . . .
The source of true wealth is love for Me; whoso loveth Me is the possessor of all things, and he that loveth Me not is indeed of the poor and needy. . . .
The essence of faith is fewness of words and abundance of deeds; he whose words exceed his deeds, know verily his death is better than his life. . . .
The root of all learning is the knowledge of God, exalted be His glory, and this can never be attained save through the knowledge of His Divine Manifestation . . . .
The essence of all that We have revealed for thee is Justice—to free one’s self from idle fancy and imitation, to discern with the eye of oneness His glorious handiwork, and look into all things with a searching eye. . . .
(Bahá’u’lláh: Words of Wisdom)
Consider man even as a mine that holdeth stones of precious beauty. Education alone can reveal its treasures and bestow its benefit upon mankind. . . . .
The Lord, exalted be His glory, hath desired naught for Himself. The allegiance of mankind profiteth Him not, neither doth its disobedience bring Him loss. At every moment doth the Bird of the realm of utterance voice the call: “All things have I desired for thee, and thee for thine own self.” Should the worldly-wisemen of the day suffer the peoples of the world to inhale the fragrance of love and unity, then will men of understanding learn the meaning of true liberty and attain unto perfect tranquillity and peace. . . .
Would to God that His grace and bounty may be vouchsafed unto the peoples of the world, that He may guide the kindreds of the earth and direct their steps to the path of His good-pleasure. Behold! Years have passed away and neither the world nor they that dwell therein have yet attained to peace and quiet. At one time they are in the throes of war, at another they fall victims to unforseen afflictions. Woes and tribulations have encompassed the world, and yet no one doth perceive the cause. And if the true Counselor utter a word, they deem Him a stirrer of strife and reject His counsel. Man is bewildered and knoweth not what to think and say. . . .
It is incumbent upon the leaders of the world to observe moderation in all things, and whatsoever exceedeth this will be rendered void of value. Consider: liberty, civilization and the like, though acclaimed by men of learning, will if carried to excess result in the utmost harm. . . .
(Bahá’u’lláh: Epistle to Maqsúd)
Bahá’í children of Karachi, India. Madam Shírází, Teacher.
Bahá’í children of Karachi, India. Madam Shírází, Teacher.
When the Day-star of Wisdom rose above the horizon of God’s Holy Dispensation it voiced this all-glorious utterance: They that are possessed of wealth and invested with authority and power must show the profoundest regard for Religion. In truth, Religion is a radiant light and an impregnable stronghold for the protection and welfare of the peoples of the world, for the fear of God impelleth man to hold fast to that which is good and shun all evil. Should the lamp of Religion be obscured, chaos and confusion will ensue, and the lights of fairness and justice, of tranquillity and peace cease to shine. Unto this will bear witness every man of true understanding . . .
We have enjoined upon all mankind the Most Great Peace—the surest of all means for the protection of humanity. The sovereigns of the world should with one accord hold fast thereunto, for this is the supreme instrument that can insure the security and welfare of all peoples and nations. They verily are the manifestations of the power of God and the day-springs of His authority. We beseech the Almighty that He may graciously assist them in that which leadeth to the well-being of their subjects. . . .
It is incumbent upon everyone to observe God’s holy commandments inasmuch as they are the well-spring of life unto the world. The firmament of Divine Wisdom is illumined with the twin orbs of Counsel and Compassion, and the canopy of world order is upraised upon the two pillars of Reward and Punishment. . . .
The triumphant hosts of this Divine Dispensation are laudable deeds and praiseworthy character, and the leader and marshal thereof is the fear of God. Verily this comprehendeth and ruleth all things . . . .
Governments should fully acquaint themselves with the conditions of those they govern, and confer upon them positions according to desert and merit. It is enjoined upon every ruler and sovereign to consider this matter with the utmost care that the traitor may not usurp the position of the faithful nor the despoiler rule in the place of the trustworthy. . . .
From the beginning of time the light of unity hath shed its Divine Radiance upon the world, and the greatest means for the promotion of that unity is for the peoples of the world to understand one another’s writing and speech. In former Epistles We have enjoined upon the Trustees of the House of Justice either to choose one language from among those now existing or to adopt a new one, and in like manner to select a common script, both of which should be taught in all the schools of the world. Thus will the earth be regarded as one country and one home. The most glorious fruit of the Tree of Knowledge is this exalted Word: “Of one tree are all ye the fruit, and of one bough the leaves.” “Let not man glory in this that he loves his country, let him rather glory in this that he loves his kind.” . . .
The Pen of Glory counseleth every one regarding the instruction and education of children. . . It is enjoined upon every father to provide for the instruction of his sons and daughters in the art of learning and writing and in that which hath been prescribed in My Epistles. He that neglecteth that whereunto he is bidden, if he be wealthy, the Trustees are to take from him that which is required for their education, and if he be poor, the matter shall devolve upon the House of Justice—verily, have We made it a shelter for the poor and a refuge for the needy. He that bringeth up his own son or the son of another, it is as though he had brought up a child of Mine own; upon him rest My glory, My loving-kindness and My mercy that encompasseth all mankind . . . .
(Bahá’u’lláh: Ishráqát)
The Lord hath ordained that in every city a House of Justice be established, wherein shall gather counselors to the number of Bahá (9), and should this number be exceeded it shall not matter. When gathered together they should remember the Presence of God in their midst. It behooveth them to be the trusted
ones of the Merciful amongst men and the ministers of God to all that dwell on earth. It is incumbent upon them to take counsel together and care for the interests of the servants of God, for His sake, even as they care for their own and to choose that which God hath chosen. . . .
O servants of the Merciful! Arise to serve the Cause of God in such wise that cares and sorrows caused by them that have disbelieved in the Day-spring of the signs of God may not afflict you. . . . Lament not in your hours of trial, neither rejoice therein; seek ye the middle way which is remembrance of Me in your afflictions and meditate on that which may hereafter befall you. . . .
True liberty lies in observing My commandments, did ye but know. Were men to follow that which We have revealed unto them from the heaven of Revelation, they would of a certainty attain unto absolute freedom. Well is it with him that hath known the purpose of God in that which hath been revealed from the heaven of His will that transcendeth an mankind. Say: the liberty that profiteth you is to be found only in servitude to God, the True One, and whoso hath tasted the sweetness thereof will never barter it for all the dominion of heaven and earth. . .
(Bahá’u’lláh: Kitáb-i-Aqdas.)
O people of Bahá! Be as the cloud that from you may be showered that which will refresh and animate the earth . . . .
Ponder God in your heart, reflect on His Manifestations, and be not of them that are devoid of understanding. . . .
I came not to proclaim that which ye already possess. Verily, verily, this day is a new day; He that hath come is the Wondrous, and His bidding the wonder of all that is in heaven and on earth . . . .
We have desired naught for ourselves, but desired for you that which will profit you in the Kingdom of God, the Gracious, the All-bountiful. . . .
Glory is not his that proclaimeth his faith, but glory is his that doeth that which the All-merciful hath revealed in His wondrous Book. . . .
O people of the world! Hearken to the call of the Lord, the King of eternity. He biddeth you to follow righteousness, to do that which giveth you peace and exalteth your station. He verily is the faithful Counselor. . . .
Regard not the world and its fleeting shadows, but fix your gaze upon God and His signs that have encompassed all creation . . . .
Detachment is as the sun; in whatsoever heart it doth shine it quencheth the fire of covetousness and self. He whose sight is illumined with the light of understanding will assuredly detach himself from the world and the vanities thereof .. . .
Let not the world and its vileness grieve you. Happy is he whom riches fill not with vain-glory, nor poverty with sorrow . . . .
O concourse of rulers! Turn unto the poor; verily God hath created them and you from the selfsame substance. Let a portion of your wealth be shared by them. This is that which will profit you throughout all times and ages. Bestow a part of that which God in His grace hath given you; for thereby will your wealth be increased. . . .
Unfaithful is the world. Were it worthy of regard or acceptable in the sight of God, they that were the Manifestations of Justice would not have fallen victims to the talons of tyranny. What greater proof of the baseness of the world and its degradation in the eyes of the Almighty! . . .
Exalted is the station of man, if he be adorned with the true attributes of humanity; otherwise he is counted as the basest of all creatures. . . .
O My loved ones ! Ye are the world’s spiritual physicians. It is incumbent upon you, through the power and might of God, to heal by the sovereign remedy of the Most Great Name the soul-sickness of the kindreds of the earth and clarify the vision of all mankind. . . .
Give ear to the voice of the Ancient Beauty calling you aloud from this Most Great Prison: Forsake oppression and cruelty, cling to the fear of God. Purge yourselves from satanic deeds, be adorned with the virtues of God. Verily, strife and sedition beseem not the people of God. Eschew wicked works, and walk in the ways of holiness, of resignation and contentment. . . .
Be calm and self-dependent in your relations with your fellow-men, and deal with them in fairness and justice. Turn treachery to trust, slander to brotherly counsel, oppression to justice, heedlessness to the remembrance of God. . . .
It behooveth him that desireth to teach the Cause of his Lord to adorn his head with the crown of detachment and the temple of his body with the fear of God . . . .
Happy are the righteous that have attained unto the most great truth; happy are the wise that have recognized the straight path of God and turned unto His Kingdom; happy are the glad and sincere, the lamps of whose hearts burn with the knowledge of the All-merciful and are protected by self-abnegation from the rough winds of test and sorrows; happy are the brave whose hearts the power of the oppressor cannot daunt; happy are the clear-sighted that have learned to distinguish the transitory from the eternal, that have turned their faces to the Imperishable and are named among the Immortals in the realm of power and glory. . . .
O friends! The thief and the traitor are lying in wait; beware lest ye be heedless, O bearers of God’s trust! Protect from the robber’s hand the pearls of the love of God . . . .
In this day, whosoever rendeth not asunder the veil of his idle imaginings will assuredly fail to hear the Voice of God. Well is it with them that with the aid of the power of God have shattered the idols of their fancies and, with ears attentive to His call, have risen from the dead . . . .
Words must be followed by deeds; words without deeds are as bees that yield no honey, as trees that bear no fruit . . . .
Regard not the Cause of God as child’s play, neither be unmindful of His all-embracing, all-discerning wisdom. Distinguish yourselves one and all among mankind by the radiance of your countenance, the sincerity of your speech, the purity of your heart, the steadfastness of your purpose, the trustworthiness of your conduct, the sanctity of your soul, the blamelessness of your life. . . .
(Bahá’u’lláh: Excerpts from Epistles.)
O ye beloved of the Lord! In this sacred Dispensation conflict and contention are in no wise permitted. Every aggressor deprives himself of God’s grace. It is incumbent upon everyone to show the utmost love, righteousness, straightforwardness and heartfelt kindliness unto all the peoples and kindreds of the world, be they friends or strangers. Nay, the spirit of affection and lovingkindness must so prevail that the stranger may find himself a friend, the enemy a true companion, and every least trace of difference be removed. For universality is of God and all limitations earthly. Hence man must strive to show forth such virtues and perfections as may illumine all mankind. The light of the sun shineth upon all the world and the merciful showers of Providence fall upon all peoples. The life-giving breeze reviveth every soul and all living creatures obtain their share and portion at His heavenly board. In like manner the affections and loving-kindness of the servants of the One True God must be bountifully and universally extended to all mankind. Regarding this, restrictions and limitations are in no wise permitted.
Wherefore, O my loving friends! Consort with an the peoples and kindreds and religions of the world with the utmost truthfulness, uprightness, faithfulness, kindliness, good-will and friendliness; that all the world of being may be filled
with the holy ecstasy of the grace of Bahá, that ignorance, enmity, hate and malice may vanish from the world and the darkness of estrangement amidst the peoples and kindreds of the world may be turned into the light of unity. Should other peoples and nations be unfaithful, show fidelity unto them; should they be unjust, be just unto them; should they avoid you, attract them; should they show enmity, be friendly; should they poison you, sweeten their lives; should they inflict a wound upon you, be a salve to their sores. Such are the attributes of the sincere! Such are the attributes of the truthful! . . .
The disciples of Christ forgot themselves and all earthly things, forsook all their cares and belongings, purged themselves of self and passion, and with absolute detachment scattered far and wide, and engaged in calling the peoples of the world to the Light of Guidance, till at last they made the world another world, illumined the surface of the earth, and even to their last hour proved self-sacrificing in the pathway of that beloved One of God. Finally in various lands, they suffered glorious martyrdom. Let them that are men of action follow in their footsteps!
(‘Abdu’l-Bahá: Will and Testament.)
Excerpts from a Tablet from ‘Abdu’l-Bahá to Dr. August Forel,
European Scientist and Scholar.
MENTAL faculties are in truth of the inherent properties of the soul, even as the radiation of light is the essential property of the sun. The rays of the sun are renewed but the sun itself is ever the same and unchanged. Consider how the human intellect develops and weakens, and may at times come to naught, whereas the soul changes not. For the mind to manifest itself, the human body must be whole; and a sound mind cannot be but in a sound body, whereas the soul depends not upon the body. It is through the power of the soul that the mind comprehends, imagines and exerts its influence, while the soul is a power that is free. The mind comprehends the abstract by the aid of the concrete, but the soul has limitless manifestations of its own. The mind is circumscribed, the soul limitless. It is by the aid of such senses as those of sight, hearing, taste, smell and touch, that the mind comprehends, whereas the soul is free from all agencies. The soul, as you observe, whether it be in sleep or waking, is in motion and ever active. Possibly it may, while in a dream, unravel an intricate problem, incapable of solution in the waking state. The mind, moreover, understands not while the senses have ceased to function, and in the embryonic stage and in early infancy the reasoning power is totally absent, whereas the soul is ever endowed with full strength. In short, the proofs are many that go to show that despite the loss of reason, the power of the soul would still continue to exist. The spirit, however, possesses various grades and stations.
As to the existence of spirit in the mineral: it is indubitable that minerals are endowed with a spirit and life according to the requirements of that stage. This unknown secret, too, has become known unto the materialists who now maintain that all beings are endowed with life, even as He said in the Qur’án, “All things are living.”
In the vegetable world too, there is the power of growth, and that power of growth is the spirit. In the animal world there is the sense of feeling, but in the human world there is an all-embracing power. In all the preceding stages the power of reason is absent, but the soul exists and reveals itself. The sense of
feeling understands not the soul, whereas the reasoning power of the mind proves the existence thereof.
In like manner the mind proves the existence of an unseen Reality that embraces all beings, and that exists and reveals itself in all stages, the essence whereof is beyond the grasp of the mind. Thus the mineral world understands neither the nature nor the perfections of the vegetable world; the vegetable world understands not the nature of the animal world, neither the animal world the nature of the reality of man that discovers and embraces all things. . . .
In fine, that inner faculty in man, unseen of the eye, wrests the sword from the hands of nature, and gives it a grievous blow. All other beings however great, are bereft of such perfections. Man has the powers of will and understanding, but nature has them not. Nature is constrained, man is free. Nature is bereft of understanding, man understands. Nature is unaware of past events, but man is aware of them. Nature forecasts not the future; man by his discerning power sees that which is to come. Nature has no consciousness of itself, man knows about all things.
Should anyone suppose that man is but a part of the world of nature, and he being endowed with these perfections, these being but manifestations of the world of nature, and thus nature the originator of these perfections and not deprived of them, to him we make reply and say :-the part depends upon the whole; the part cannot possess perfections whereof the whole is deprived.
By nature is meant those inherent properties and necessary relations derived from the realities of things. And these realities of things, though in the utmost diversity, are yet intimately connected one with the other. For these diverse realities an all-unifying agency is needed that shall link them all one to the other. For instance, the various organs and members, the parts and elements, that constitute the body of man, though at variance, are yet all connected one with the other by that all-unifying agency known as the human soul, that causes them to function in perfect harmony and with absolute regularity, thus making the continuation of life possible. The human body, however, is utterly unconscious of that all-unifying agency, and yet acts with regularity and discharges its functions according to its will. . . .
Now concerning the Essence of Divinity: In truth, it is on no account determined by anything apart from its own nature, and can in nowise be comprehended. For whatsoever can be conceived by man is a reality that has limitations and is not unlimited; it is circumscribed, not all-embracing; it can be comprehended by man, and is controlled by him. Similarly, it is certain that all human conceptions are contingent, not absolute; that they have a mental existence, not a material one. Moreover, differentiation of stages in the contingent world is an obstacle to understanding. How then can the contingent conceive the reality of the Absolute? As previously mentioned, differentiation of the stages in the contingent plane is an obstacle to understanding. Minerals, plants and animals are bereft of the mental faculties of man that discover the realities of all things, but man himself comprehends all the stages beneath him. Every superior stage comprehends that which is inferior and discovers the reality thereof, but the inferior one is unaware of that which is superior and cannot comprehend it.
Thus man cannot grasp the Essence of Divinity, but can by his reasoning power, by observation, by his intuitive faculties and the revealing power of his faith, believe in God and discover the bounties of His grace. He becomes certain that though the Divine Essence is unseen of the eye, and the existence of the Deity is intangible, yet conclusive spiritual proofs assert the existence of that unseen Reality. The Divine Essence as it is in itself is, however, beyond all description. For instance, the nature of ether is unknown but that it exists is certain by the effects it produces—heat, light and electricity
being its waves. By these waves the existence of ether is thus proved. And as we consider the outpourings of Divine Grace we are assured of the existence of God. For instance, we observe that the existence of beings is conditioned upon the coming together of various elements and their non-existence upon the decomposition of their constituent elements. For decomposition causes the dissociation of the various elements. Thus, as we observe that the coming together of elements gives rise to the existence of beings, and knowing that beings are infinite, they being the effect, how can the Cause be finite?
Now, formation is of three kinds and of three kinds only: accidental, compulsory, and voluntary. The coming together of the various constituent elements of beings cannot be accidental, for unto every effect there must be a cause. It cannot be compulsory, for then the formation must be an inherent property of the constituent parts and the inherent property of a thing can in nowise be dissociated from it, such as light that is the revealer of things, heat that causes the expansion of elements and the (solar) rays which are the essential property of the sun. Thus under such circumstances the decomposition of any formation would be impossible, for the inherent properties of a thing cannot be separated from it. The third formation remains and that is the voluntary one, that is, an unseen force described as the Ancient Power, causes these elements to come together, every formation giving rise to a distinct being.
As to the attributes and perfections such as will, knowledge, power and other ancient attributes that we ascribe to that Divine Reality, these are the signs that reflect the existence of beings in the visible plane and not the absolute perfections of the Divine Essence that cannot be comprehended. For instance, as we consider created things we observe infinite perfections, and the created things being in the utmost regularity and perfection we infer that the Ancient Power on whom depends the existence of these things, cannot be ignorant: thus we say He is All-knowing. It is certain that it is not impotent, it must be the All-powerful; it is not poor, it must be All-possessing; it is not non-existent, it must be Ever-living. The purpose is to show that these attributes and perfections that we recount for that universal Reality are only in order to deny imperfections, rather than to assert the perfections that human mind can conceive. Thus we say His attributes are unknowable.
In fine, that universal Reality with all its qualities and attributes that we recount is holy and exalted above all minds and understandings. As we, however, reflect with broad minds upon this infinite universe, we observe that motion without a motive force, and an effect without a cause are both impossible; that every being has come to exist under numerous influences and continually undergoes reaction. These influences too are formed under the action of still other influences. For instance, plants grow and flourish through the outpourings of vernal showers, while the cloud itself is formed under various other agencies and these agencies in their turn are reacted upon by still other agencies. For example, plants and animals grow and develop under the influence of what the philosophers of our day designate as hydrogen and oxygen and are reacted upon by the effects of these two elements; and these in turn are formed under still other influences. The same can be said of other beings whether they affect other things or are affected. Such process of causation goes on, and to maintain that this process goes on indefinitely is manifestly absurd. Thus such a chain of causation must of necessity lead eventually to Him who is the Ever-living, the All-powerful, who is Self-dependent and the ultimate Cause. This universal Reality cannot be sensed, it cannot be seen. It must be so of necessity, for it is All-embracing, not circumscribed, and such attributes qualify the effect and not the Cause. ...
Now regarding the question whether the faculties of the mind and the human
soul are one and the same: These faculties are but the inherent properties of the soul, such as the power of imagination, of thought, of understanding; powers that are the essential requisites of the reality of man, even as the solar ray is the inherent property of the sun. The temple of man is like unto a mirror, his soul is as the sun, and his mental faculties even as the rays that emanate from that source of light. The ray may cease to fall upon the mirror, but it can in no wise be dissociated from the sun.
In short, the point is this that the world of man appears supernatural in its relation to the vegetable kingdom, though in reality it is not so. Relatively to the plant, the reality of man, his power of hearing and sight, are all supernatural, and for the plant to comprehend that reality and the nature of the powers of man’s mind is impossible. In like manner for man to comprehend the Divine Essence and the nature of the great hereafter is in no wise possible. The merciful outpourings of that Divine Essence, however, are vouchsafed unto all beings and it is incumbent upon man to ponder in his heart upon the effusions of the Divine Grace, the soul of man being counted as one sign of it, rather than upon the Divine Essence itself. This is the utmost limit for human understanding. As it has previously been mentioned, these attributes and perfections that we recount of the Divine Essence, these we have derived from the existence and observation of beings, and it is not that we have comprehended the Essence and Perfection of God. When we say that the Divine Essence understands and is free, we do not mean that we have discovered the Divine Will and Purpose, but rather that we have acquired knowledge of them through the Divine Grace revealed and manifested in the realities of things.
In conclusion, these few words are written, and unto everyone they will be a clear and conclusive evidence of the truth. Ponder them in your heart: The will of every sovereign prevails during his reign, the will of every philosopher finds expression in a handful of disciples during his lifetime, but the power of the Holy Spirit shines radiantly in the realities of the Messengers of God, and strengthens their will in such wise as to influence a great nation for thousands of years and to regenerate the human soul and revive mankind. Consider how great is this Power ! It is an extraordinary Power, an all-sufficient proof of the truth of the mission of the Prophets of God, and a conclusive evidence of the Power of Divine Inspiration.
Haji Maḥmúd Qassábchí - President of the Baghdád, ‘Iráq, Spiritual Assembly for the past four years. He volunteered his services to undertake the reconstruction of the Sacred House of His Holiness Bahá’u’lláh, as desired by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, and worked with great zeal to accomplish it. Besides his personal labor he contributed to this fund about half of the total expenditure. He owns the buildings surrounding the House and contemplates presenting them to the Cause.
Haji Maḥmúd Qassábchí
President of the Baghdád, ‘Iráq, Spiritual Assembly for the past four years. He volunteered his services to undertake the reconstruction of the Sacred House of His Holiness Bahá’u’lláh, as desired by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, and worked with great zeal to accomplish it. Besides his personal labor he contributed to this fund about half of the total expenditure. He owns the buildings surrounding the House and contemplates presenting them to the Cause.
This Compilation, beginning with a Statement by Horace Holley, includes “Excerpts from the Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá”; “The Spirit and Form of Bahá’í Administration,” “Declaration of Trust,” and “Excerpts from the Letters of Shoghi Effendi.”
IT has been the general characteristic of religion that organization marks the interruption of the true spiritual influence and serves to prevent the original impulse from being carried into the world. The organization has invariably become a substitute for religion rather than a method or an instrument used to give the religion effect. The separation of peoples into different traditions unbridged by any peaceful or constructive intercourse has made this inevitable. Up to the present time in fact, no Founder of a revealed religion has explicitly laid down the principles that should guide the administrative machinery of the Faith He has established.
In the Bahá’í Cause, the principles of world administration were expressed by Bahá’u’lláh, and these principles were developed in the writings of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, more especially in His Will and Testament.
The purpose of this organization is to make possible a true and lasting unity among people of different races, classes, interests, characters, and inherited creeds. A close and sympathetic study of this aspect of the Bahá’í Cause will show that the purpose and method of Bahá’í administration is so perfectly adapted to the fundamental spirit of the Revelation that it bears to it the same relationship as body to soul. In character, the principles of Bahá’í administration represent the science of co-operation; in application, they provide for a new and higher type of morality world-wide in scope. In the clash and confusion of sectarian prejudice, the Bahá’í Movement is impartial and sympathetic, offering a foundation upon which reconciliation can be firmly based. Amid the complex interrelations of governments, the Movement stands absolutely neutral as to political purposes and entirely obedient to all recognized authority. It will not be overlooked by the student that Bahá’u’lláh is the only religious teacher making obedience to just governments and rulers a definite spiritual command.
In this brief analysis of the several features of the Bahá’í system of administration the purpose is rather to place in the hands of the believers themselves a convenient summary of the available instructions than to clarify this aspect of the Movement to the non-Bahá’í. Until one has made contact with the spirit of the Bahá’í teachings and desires to cooperate whole-heartedly with their purpose, the administrative phase of the Movement can have little real meaning or appeal.
At the time of the passing of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, the organization was fully defined but not yet established among His followers. The responsibility for carrying out the instructions was placed by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá upon His grandson, Shoghi Effendi, to whom was assigned the function of “Guardian of the Cause.” Obedience to the authority of the Guardian was definitely enjoined upon all Bahá’ís by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, but this authority carries with it nothing of an arbitrary or per-
sonal character, being limited as to purpose and method by the writings of Bahá’u’lláh and ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. The Guardian unifies the efforts to bring into complete application those principles of world administration already clearly defined.
To assist the Guardian in his manifold responsibilities and duties and particularly in the promotion of the teaching work, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá provided for the appointment of a group of co-workers to be known as “The Hands of the Cause of God.” The appointment of this body is a function of the Guardian, and these from their own number are to elect nine persons who will be closely associated with the Guardian in the discharge of his duties. It is the function of the Guardian also to appoint his own successor, this appointment to be ratified by the nine Hands of the Cause.
It is the genius of the Bahá’í Cause that the principle underlying the administration of its affairs aims to improve the life and upbuild the character of the individual believer in his own local community, wherever it may be, and not to enhance the prestige of those relatively few who, by election or appointment, hold positions of higher authority. Bahá’í authority is measured by self-sacrifice and not by arbitrary power. This fundamental aim can be seen clearly on studying the significant emphasis which ‘Abdu’l-Bahá placed upon the local Bahá’í community. The local group, involving as it does men and women in all the normal activities and relations of life, is the foundation upon which rests the entire evolution of the Cause. The local Bahá’í community is given official recognition only after its number of adult declared believers has become nine or more. Up to this point, the community exists as a voluntary group of workers and students of the Cause.
In this connection, the word “community” is not used in the sense of any locality, exclusively Bahá’í in membership, nor of any manner of living differing outwardly from the general environment, such as has been attempted by religionists and also members of philosophic and economic movements in the past. A Bahá’í community is a unity of minds and hearts, an association of people entirely voluntary in character, established upon a common experience of devotion to the universal aims of Bahá’u’lláh and agreement as to the methods by which these aims can be advanced.
A Bahá’í community differs from other voluntary gatherings in that its foundation is so deeply laid and broadly extended that it can include any sincere soul. Whereas other associations are exclusive, in effect if not in intention, and from method if not from ideal, Bahá’í association is inclusive, shutting the gates of fellowship to no sincere soul. In every gathering there is latent or developed some basis of selection. In religion this basis is a creed limited by the historical nature of its origin; in politics this is party or platform; in economics this is a mutual misfortune or mutual power; in the arts and sciences this basis consists of special training or activity or interest. In all these matters, the more exclusive the basis of selection, the stronger the movement—a condition diametrically opposed to that existing in the Bahá’í Cause. Hence the Cause, for all its spirit of growth and progress, develops slowly as regards the numbers of its active adherents. For people are accustomed to exclusiveness and division in all affairs. The important sanctions have ever been warrants and justifications of division. To enter the Bahá’í Movement is to leave these sanctions behind — an experience which at first invariably exposes one to new trials and sufferings, as the human ego revolts against the supreme sanction of universal love. The scientific must associate with the simple and unlearned, the rich with the poor, the white with the colored, the mystic with the literalist, the Christian with the Jew, the Muslim with the Parsee: and on terms removing the advantage of long established presumptions and privileges.
But for this difficult experience there
are glorious compensations. Let us remember that art grows sterile as it turns away from the common humanity, that philosophy likewise loses its vision when developed in solitude, and that politics and religion never succeed apart from the general needs of mankind. Human nature is not yet known, for we have all lived in a state of mental, moral, emotional or social defense, and the psychology of defense is the psychology of inhibition. But the love of God removes fear; the removal of fear establishes the latent powers, and association with others in spiritual love brings these powers into vital, positive expression. A Bahá’í community is a gathering where this process can take place in this age, slowly at first, as the new impetus gathers force, more rapidly as the members become conscious of the powers unfolding the flower of unity among men.
Where the community is small and insignificant, in comparison with the population of the city or town, the first condition of growth is understanding of the Manifestation of Bahá’u’lláh, and the next condition is that of true humility. If these two conditions exist, the weakest soul becomes endowed with effective power in service to the Cause. The result of unity, in fact, is to share the powers and faculties of all with each.
The responsibility for and supervision of local Bahá’í affairs is vested in a body known as the Spiritual Assembly. This body (limited to nine members) is elected annually on April 21st, the first day of Ridván (The Festival commemorating the declaration of Bahá’u’lláh) by the adult declared believers of the community, the voting list being drawn up by the outgoing Spiritual Assembly. Concerning the character and functions of this body, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá has written as follows:
“It is incumbent upon everyone (every believer) not to take any step (of Bahá’í activity) without consulting the Spiritual Assembly, and they must assuredly obey with heart and soul its bidding and be submissive unto it, that things may be properly ordered and well arranged. Otherwise every person will act independently and after his own judgment, will follow his own desire, and do harm to the Cause.
“The prime requisites for them that take counsel together are purity of motive, radiance of spirit, detachment from all else save God, attraction to His divine fragrances, humility and lowliness amongst His loved ones, patience and long-suffering in difficulties and servitude to His exalted Threshold. Should they be graciously aided to acquire these attributes, victory from the unseen Kingdom of Bahá shall be vouchsafed to them. In this day, Assemblies of consultation are of the greatest importance and a vital necessity. Obedience unto them is essential and obligatory. The members thereof must take counsel together in such wise that no occasion for ill-feeling or discord may arise. This can be attained when every member expresses with absolute freedom his own opinion and setteth forth his argument. Should anyone oppose, he must on no account feel hurt, for not until matters are fully discussed can the right way be revealed. The shining spark of truth cometh forth only after the clash of differing opinions. If after discussion a decision be carried unanimously, well and good; but if, the Lord forbid, differences of opinion should arise, a majority of voices must prevail.
“The first condition is absolute love and harmony amongst the members of the Assembly. They must be wholly free from estrangement and must manifest in themselves the Unity of God, for they are the waves of one sea, the drops of one river, the stars of one heaven, the rays of one sun, the trees of one orchard, the flowers of one garden. Should harmony of thought and absolute unity be non-existent, that gathering shall be dispersed and that Assembly be brought to naught.
“The second condition: They must when coming together turn their faces to
Interior of the Ḥazíratu’l-Quds which has been purchased by the Bahá’ís of Baghdád, ‘Iráq, to serve as devotional and administrative center for the Bahá’ís of ‘Iráq.
Interior of the Ḥazíratu’l-Quds which has been purchased by the Bahá’ís
of Baghdád, ‘Iráq, to serve as devotional and administrative center for
the Bahá’ís of ‘Iráq.
the Kingdom on high and ask aid from the realm of Glory. . . . Discussions must all be confined to spiritual matters that pertain to the training of souls, the instruction of children, the relief of the poor, the help of the feeble throughout all classes in the world, kindness to all peoples, the diffusion of the fragrances of God and the exaltation of His holy Word. Should they endeavor to fulfill these conditions the grace of the Holy Spirit shall be vouchsafed unto them, and that Assembly shall become the center of the divine blessings, the hosts of divine confirmation shall come to their aid, and they shall day by day receive a new effusion of spirit.”
The letters of Shoghi Effendi quote the fundamental instructions contained in the writings of Bahá’u’lláh and ‘Abdu’l-Bahá on the character of Bahá’í administration, and give them definite application: “A careful study of Bahá’u’lláh’s and ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s Tablets will reveal that other duties (besides teaching the Cause), no less vital to the interests of the Cause, devolve upon the elected representatives of the friends in every locality.
“They must endeavor to promote amity and concord amongst the friends and secure an active and whole-hearted cooperation for the service of the Cause.
“They must do their utmost to extend at all times the helping hand to the poor, the sick, the disabled, the orphan, the widow, irrespective of color, caste and creed.
“They must promote by every means in their power the material as well as spiritual enlightenment of youth, the means for the education of children; institute, whenever possible, Bahá’í educational institutions; organize and supervise their work, and provide the best means for their progress and development.
“They must make an effort to maintain official, regular and frequent correspondence with the various Bahá’í centers throughout the world, report to them their activities, and share the glad-tidings they receive with all their fellow-workers in the Cause.
“They must bend every effort to promote the interests of the Mashriqu’l-Adhkár (i.e., House of Worship)*, and hasten the day when the work of this glorious Edifice† will have been consummated.
“They must encourage and stimulate by every means at their command, through subscriptions, reports and articles, the development of the various Bahá’í magazines.
“They must undertake the arrangement of the regular meetings of the friends, the feasts and anniversaries, as well as the special gatherings designed to serve and promote the social, intellectual and spiritual interests of their fellowmen.
“They must supervise in these days when the Cause is still in its infancy all Bahá’í publications and translations, and provide in general for a dignified and accurate presentation of all Bahá’í literature and its distribution to the general public.
“These rank among the most outstanding obligations of the members of every Spiritual Assembly. In whatever locality the Cause has sufficiently expanded, and in order to insure efficiency and avoid confusion, each of these manifold functions will have to be referred to a special Committee, responsible to that Assembly, elected by it from among the friends in that locality, and upon whose work the Assembly will have to exercise constant and general supervision.
“In every locality, be it city or hamlet, where the number of adult declared believers exceed nine, a local Spiritual Assembly must be forthwith established.
“As the progress and extension of spiritual activities is dependent and conditioned upon material means, it is of absolute necessity that immediately after the establishment of local as well as national Spiritual Assemblies, a Bahá’í Fund
*Referring particularly to Spiritual Assemblies in America.
†On the shore of Lake Michigan.
be established, to be placed under the exclusive control of the Spiritual Assembly. All donations and contributions should be offered to the Treasurer of the Assembly, for the express purpose of promoting the interests of the Cause throughout that locality or country. It is the sacred obligation of every conscientious and faithful servant of Bahá’u’lláh, who desires to see His Cause advance, to contribute freely and generously for the increase of that Fund. The members of the Spiritual Assembly will at their own discretion expend it to promote the teaching campaign, to help the needy, to establish educational Bahá’í institutions, to extend in every way their sphere of service.
“Nothing whatever should be given to the public by any individual among the friends, unless fully considered and approved by the Spiritual Assembly in his locality; and if this (as is undoubtedly the case) is a matter that pertains to the general interests of the Cause in that land, then it is incumbent upon the Spiritual Assembly to submit it to the consideration and approval of the National Body representing all the various local Assemblies. Not only with regard to publication, but all matters without any exception whatsoever, regarding the interests of the Cause in that locality, individually or collectively, should be referred exclusively to the Spiritual Assembly in that locality, which shall decide upon it, unless it be a matter of national interest, in which case it shall be referred to the National (Bahá’í) Body. With this National Body also will rest the decision whether a given question is of local or national interest. (By national affairs is not meant matters that are political in their character, for the friends of God the world over are strictly forbidden to meddle with political affairs in any way whatever, but rather things that affect the spiritual activities of the body of the friends in that land.)
“Full harmony, however, as well as co-operation among the various local Assemblies and the members themselves. and particularly between each Assembly and the National Body is of the utmost importance, for upon it depends the unity of the Cause of God, the solidarity of the friends, the full, speedy and efficient working of the spiritual activities of His loved ones.
“The various Assemblies, local and national, constitute today the bedrock upon the strength of which the Universal House (of Justice) is in future to be firmly established and raised. Not until these function vigorously and harmoniously can the hope for the termination of this period of transition be realized. . . . Bear in mind that the keynote of the Cause of God is not dictatorial authority, but humble fellowship; not arbitrary power, but the spirit of frank and loving consultation. Nothing short of the spirit of a true Bahá’í can hope to reconcile the principles of mercy and justice, of freedom and submission, of the sanctity of the right of the individual and of selfsurrender, of vigilance, discretion and prudence on the one hand, and fellowship, candor, and courage on the other.”
Experience in the life of a Bahá’í community and participation in the details of its several activities impresses one with the fact that Bahá’í unity has in it new elements which work powerfully to expand one’s area of sympathy, deepen one’s insight, develop one’s character and bring order and stability into all of one’s affairs. There can be no higher privilege than the experience of attempting to serve faithfully upon a Spiritual Assembly, conscious as its members are of the unique standard upheld by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá and bringing as it does the opportunity of dealing with a large range and diversity of human problems from an impersonal point of view. It is inevitable that the nine elected members shall exemplify diverse interests and types of character, with the result that unity of heart and conscience with the other eight members is a direct training to enter into spiritual unity with the larger body of mankind. No such schools of discipline and inspira-
tion exist on earth today, for one must bear in mind that a Bahá’í community can never be an exclusive group nor a closed circle of interests but, on the contrary, its fundamental purpose is to unify and co-operate with every possible element in the surrounding population.
The local Spiritual Assembly after election organizes by electing from its own number a chairman, corresponding secretary, recording secretary and treasurer. It should appoint from its own members or from the local Bahá’í community working committees responsible for the various permanent activities of the Cause.
Since a Spiritual Assembly is established upon a new and higher ideal, the character, knowledge and purity of its members is essential to success. Wherever personal ambition, narrowness or impurity enters a Spiritual Assembly, the results are invariably to check the growth of the Cause and, if these conditions are prolonged, to destroy the foundation already laid. The careful student of the teachings will accept this result as one more vindication of the all-surrounding spirit protecting this Faith. The elimination of an unworthy group from the Bahá’í Cause would be a bitter disappointment but not an evidence that the Cause had failed. On the contrary, the Cause could only be declared a failure if personal ambition, pride, narrowness and impurity should so prevail as to build a world-wide organization able to pervert the original purpose.
The local Spiritual Assemblies of a country are linked together and co-ordinated through another elected body of nine members, the National Spiritual Assembly. This body comes into being by means of an annual election held by elected delegates representing the local Bahá’í communities. The delegates are elected by all the adult declared believers of a community in which a Spiritual Assembly exists. The National Convention in which the delegates are gathered together is composed of an elective body based upon the principle of proportional representation. The total number of delegates is fixed by Shoghi Effendi for each country, and this number is fulfilled by assigning to each local community the number of delegates called for by its relative numerical strength. These National Conventions are preferably held during the period of Ridván, the twelve days beginning April 21st which commemorate the Declaration made by Bahá’u’lláh in the Garden of Ridván near Baghdád. The recognition of delegates is vested in the out-going National Spiritual Assembly.
A National Convention is an occasion for deepening one’s understanding of Bahá’í activities and of sharing reports of national and local activities for the period of the elapsed year. It has been the custom to hold a public Bahá’í Congress in connection with the Convention. The function of a Bahá’í delegate is not limited to attendance at the National Convention and participation in the election of the new National Spiritual Assembly. While gathered together, the delegates are a consultative and advisory body whose recommendations are to be carefully considered by the members of the elected National Spiritual Assembly. Even after the Convention, this consultative function continues throughout the year, and by the close and intimate association of the deliberations of the National Spiritual Assembly with the delegates, the National Body is enabled to be more representative of the entire Bahá’í community of the land. Delegates unable to attend the Convention in person are permitted to vote for the new National Spiritual Assembly by mail.
The relation of the National Spiritual Assembly to the local Spiritual Assemblies and to the body of the believers in the country is thus defined in the letters of the Guardian of the Cause:
“Regarding the establishment of National Assemblies, it is of vital importance that in every country, where the conditions are favorable and the number of the
Bahá’ís of Alexandria, Egypt, at the Feast of Ridván, 1927.
friends has grown and reached a considerable size—that a National Spiritual Assembly be immediately established, representative of the friends throughout that country.
“Its immediate purpose is to stimulate, unify and co-ordinate, by frequent personal consultations, the manifold activities of the friends as well as the local Assemblies; and by keeping in close and constant touch with the Holy Land, initiate measures, and direct in general the affairs of the Cause in that country.
“It serves also another purpose, no less essential than the first, as in the course of time it shall evolve into the National House of Justice (referred to in ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s Will as the ‘Secondary House of Justice’) which according to the explicit text of the Testament will have, in conjunction with the other National Assemblies throughout the Bahá’í world, to elect directly the members of the International or Universal House of Justice, that Supreme Council that will guide, organize and unify the affairs of the Movement throughout the world.
“This National Spiritual Assembly which, pending the establishment of the Universal House of Justice, will have to be re-elected once a year, obviously assumes grave responsibilities for it has to exercise full authority over all the local Assemblies in its province, and will have to direct the activities of the friends; guard vigilantly the Cause of God, and control and supervise the affairs of the Movement in general.
“Vital issues, affecting the interests of the Cause in that country, such as the matter o( translation and publication, the Ma shriqu’l-Adhkár, the teaching work, and other similar matters that stand distinct from strictly local affairs, must be under the full jurisdiction of the National Assembly.
“It will have to refer each of these questions, even as the local Assemblies, to a special committee, to be elected by the members of the National Spiritual Assembly from among all the friends in that country, which will bear to it the same relations as the local committees bear to their respective local Assemblies.
“With it, too, rests the decision whether a certain point at issue is strictly local in its nature, and should be reserved for the consideration and decision of the local Assembly, or whether it should fall under its own province and be a matter which ought to receive its special attention.
“It is the bounden duty, in the interest of the Cause we all love and serve, of the members of the incoming National Assembly, once elected by the delegates at Convention time, to seek and have the utmost regard, individually as well as collectively, for the advice, the considered opinion and the true sentiments of the assembled delegates. Banishing every vestige of secrecy, of undue reticence, of dictatorial aloofness from their midst they should radiantly and abundantly unfold to the eyes of the delegates by whom they were elected, their plans, their hopes and their cares. They should familiarize the delegates with the various matters that will have to be considered in the current year, and calmly and conscientiously study and weigh the opinions and judgments of the delegates. The newly elected National Assembly, during the few days when the Convention is in session, and after the dispersion of the delegates, should seek ways and means to cultivate understanding, facilitate and maintain the exchange of views, deepen confidence, and vindicate by every tangible evidence their one desire to serve and advance the common weal.
“The National Spiritual Assembly, however, in view of the unavoidable limitations imposed upon the convening of frequent and long-standing sessions of the Convention, will have to retain in its hands the final decision on all matters that affect the interests of the Cause—such as the right to decide whether any local Assembly is functioning in accordance with the principles laid down for the conduct and the advancement of the Cause.
“The seating of delegates to the Convention (i. e., the right to decide upon the
validity of the credentials of the delegates at a given Convention), is vested in the outgoing NationalAssembly, and the right to decide who has the voting privilege is also ultimately placed in the hands of the National Spiritual Assembly, either when a local Spiritual Assembly is for the first time being formed in a given locality, or when differences arise between a new applicant and an already established local Assembly.
“Were the National Spiritual Assembly to decide, after mature deliberation, to omit the holding of the Bahá’í Convention and Congress in a given year, then they could, only in such a case, devise ways and means to insure that the annual election of the National Spiritual Assembly should be held by mail, provided it can be conducted with sufficient thoroughness, efficiency and dispatch. It would also appear to me unobjectionable to enable and even to require in the last resort such delegates as cannot possibly undertake the journey to the seat of the Bahá’í Convention to send their votes, for the election of the National Spiritual Assembly only, by mail to the National Secretary.”
Concerning the matter of drawing up the voting list to be used at the annual local Bahá’í elections, the responsibility for this is placed upon each local Spiritual Assembly, and as a guidance in the matter the Guardian has written the following:
“To state very briefly and as adequately as present circumstances permit, the principal factors that must be taken into consideration before deciding whether a person may be regarded a true believer or not: Full recognition of the station of the Forerunner, the Author and the True Exemplar of the Bahá’í Cause, as set forth in ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s Will and Testament; unreserved acceptance of and submission to whatsoever has been revealed by their Pen; loyal and steadfast adherence to every clause of our Beloved’s sacred Will; and close association with the spirit as well as the form of the present-day Bahá’í administration—these, I conceive, to be the fundamental and primary considerations that must be fairly, discreetly and thoughtfully ascertained before reaching such a vital decision.”
‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s instructions provide for the further development of Bahá’í organization through an International Spiritual Assembly to be elected by the members of the National Spiritual Assemblies. This international body has not yet come into existence, but its special character has been clearly defined:
“And now, concerning the Assembly (Baytu’l-‘Adl: i. e., House of Justice) which God hath ordained as the source of all good and freed from all error, it must be elected by universal suffrage, that is, by the believers. Its members must be manifestations of the fear of God, and day-springs of knowledge and understanding, must be steadfast in God’s Faith, and the well-wishers of all mankind. By this Assembly is meant the Universal Assembly: that is, in each country a secondary Assembly must be instituted, and these secondary Assemblies must elect the members of the Universal one.
“Unto this body all things must be referred. It enacteth all ordinances and regulations that are not to be found in the explicit Holy Text. By this body all the difficult problems are to be resolved, and the Guardian of the Cause is its sacred head and the distinguished member, for life, of that body. Should he not attend in person its deliberations, he must appoint one to represent him. . . This Assembly enacteth the laws and the executive enforceth them. The legislative body must reinforce the executive, the executive must aid and assist the legislative body, so that, through the close union and harmony of these two forces, the foundation of fairness and justice may become firm and strong, that all the regions of the world may become even as Paradise itself.
“Unto the Most Holy Book everyone must turn, and all that is not expressly recorded therein must be referred to the
Universal Assembly. That which this body, either unanimously or by a majority, doth carry, that is verily the truth and the purpose of God Himself. Whoso doth deviate therefrom is verily of them that love discord, hath shown forth malice and turned away from the Lord of the Covenant.”
Even at the present time, the Bahá’ís in all parts of the world maintain an intimate and cordial association by means of regular correspondence and individual visits. This contact of members of different races, nationalities and religious traditions is concrete proof that the burden of prejudice and the historical factors of division can be entirely overcome through the spirit of oneness established by Bahá’u’lláh.
The general student of religion will not fail to note four essential characteristics of Bahá’í administration. The first is its completely successful reconciliation of the usually opposed claims of democratic freedom and unanswerable authority. The second is the entire absence from the Bahá’í Cause of anything approaching the institution of a salaried professional clergy. The Bahá’í conception of religion is one which combines mysticism, which is a sacred personal experience, with practical morality, which is a useful contact between the individual and his fellow man. In the nature of things, some souls are more advanced than others, and the function of spiritual teaching is given special importance in the writings of Bahá’u’lláh and ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. The Bahá’í teacher, however, has no authority over the individual conscience. The individual conscience must be subordinated to the decisions of a duly elected Spiritual Assembly, but this relationship is entirely different in character and results from the relationship of an individual with minister or priest.
The third characteristic is the absence of internal factionalism, that bane of all organized effort, and the sure sign of the presence of spiritual disease. The predominant spirit of unity which distinguishes the Bahá’í Cause in its relation to the world, making its followers strive for reconciliation rather than partisan victory, creates an internal condition, unlike that which exists in movements which accept partisan victory, in one or another form, as their very reason for being. Such movements can but disintegrate from within; the Bahá’í Movement can but grow.
Significant also is the fourth characteristic, namely that the Bahá’í Cause has within it an inherent necessity operating slowly but surely to bring its administration into the hands of those truly fitted for the nature of the work. The lesser vision gives way invariably for the larger vision, itself replaced by the still larger vision in due time. The result is an inevitable improvement in the qualities placed at the service of the Cause, until the highest attributes of humanity will be enrolled. In the Bahá’í Cause we are actually witnessing the fulfillment of that strange and cryptic saying: “The meek shall inherit the earth.”
That the administrative machinery is not an end in itself but merely the means to spread everywhere the light of faith and brotherhood, is frequently expressed by the Guardian in his general letters, and this brief survey may well close with one of those passages:
“Not by the force of numbers, not by the mere exposition of a set of new and noble principles, not by an organized campaign of teaching—no matter how world-wide and elaborate in its character—not even by the staunchness of our faith or the exaltation of our enthusiasm, can we ultimately hope to vindicate in the eyes of a critical and skeptical age the supreme clatm of the Abhá Revelation. One thing and only one thing will unfailingly and alone secure the undoubted triumph of this sacred Cause, namely the extent to which our own inner life and private character mirror forth in their manifold aspects the splendor of those eternal principles proclaimed by Bahá’u’lláh”—Shoghi.
The script is an excerpt from the Will and Testament of Bahá’u’lláh regarding ‘Abdu’l-Bahá—the section beginning with the Words: “The Test of God is this: Aghsán, Afnán and kindred should all turn to the Most Great Branch,” and ending with “I am the Gracious, the Bountiful.”
The script is an excerpt from the Will and Testament of Bahá’u’lláh regarding ‘Abdu’l-Bahá—the section beginning with the Words: “The Test of God is this: Aghsán, Afnán and kindred should all turn to the Most Great Branch,” and ending with “I am the Gracious, the Bountiful.”
IT IS significant of the completeness of the Revelation of Bahá’u’lláh that the text of His Book provided for every emergency confronting human souls in this age. The supreme test of the Bahá’í Faith had in fact already been successfully met during the days which followed the ascension of Bahá’u’lláh in 1892. By the appointment of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá as the Center of His Covenant, Bahá’u’lláh prolonged His own ministry for well-nigh thirty years, a period coinciding with an entire generation and therefore sufficient to withstand the onslaughts of those ambitious persons who arose to overthrow or pervert the Faith from within and without its ranks. For the words of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, according to the text of this appointment, have equal rank and spiritual validity with those of the Manifestation (i. e., Bahá’u’lláh).
Thus, during the ministry of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, the Cause of Baha'u'llah was not only safeguarded from confusion and division, it was vastly extended into Europe, America and the Far East, and the fundamental literature of the Faith wa samplified by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s public addresses and Tablets, many of which were directed to the administrative side of Bahá’í service. By 1921, the outer form of this community had been fairly defined in many localities and impressed upon the habits as well as thoughts of the believers.
Despite this fact, it is more than doubtful, it is positively certain, that the world-wide Baha'i community could not have survived the shock of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s passing, and perpetuated its complex unity into the future, had He not made definite provision for a point of unity acceptable to all the believers and a continuance of that administrative authority which is the body of the soul of faith.
These provisions were made in the Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, excerpts from which follow. By the appointment of a Guardian of the Bahá’í Cause. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá created an executive head and center possessing unquestioned consecration and capacity for the tremendous task of inspiring the world-wide Bahá’í community to develop along the path of human service marked out for it in the Religion of Bahá’u’lláh.
ALL-PRAISE to Him who, by the Shield of His Covenant, hath guarded the Temple of His Cause from the darts of doubtfulness, who by the Hosts of His Testament hath preserved the Sanctuary of His Most Beneficent Law and protected His Straight and Luminous Path, staying thereby the onslaught of the company of Covenant-breakers, that have threatened to subvert His Divine Edifice; who hath watched over His Mighty Stronghold and All-glorious Faith, through the aid of men whom the slander of the slanderer affects not, whom no earthly calling, glory and power can turn aside from the Covenant of God and His Testament, established firmly by His clear and manifest words, writ and revealed by His All-glorious Pen and recorded in the Preserved Tablet.
Salutation and praise, blessing and glory rest upon that primal branch of the Divine and Sacred Lote-Tree, grown out, blest, tender, verdant and flourishing from the Twin Holy Trees; the most wondrous, unique and priceless pearl that doth gleam from out the twin surging seas; upon the offshoots of the Tree of Holiness, the twigs of the Celestial Tree, they that in the Day of the Great Dividing have stood fast and firm in the Covenant; upon the Hands (pillars) of the
Cause of God that have diffused widely the divine Fragrances, declared His Proofs, proclaimed His Faith, published abroad His Law, detached themselves from all things but Him, stood for righteousness in this world, and kindled the Fire of the Love of God in the very hearts and souls of His servants; upon them that have believed, rested assured, stood steadfast in His Covenant and followed the Light that after My passing shineth from the Day-spring of divine Guidance—for behold! he is the blest and sacred bough that hath branched out from the Twin Holy Trees. Well is it with him that seeketh the shelter of his shade that shadoweth all mankind.
O ye beloved of the Lord! The greatest of all things is the protection of the True Faith of God, the preservation of His Law, the safeguarding of His Cause and service unto His Word. Ten thousand souls have shed streams of their sacred blood in this path, their precious lives they offered in sacrifice unto Him, hastened wrapt in holy ecstasy unto the glorious field of martyrdom, upraised the Standard of God’s Faith and writ with their life-blood upon the Tablet of the world the verses of His divine Unity. The sacred breast of His Holiness, the Exalted One—May my life be a sacrifice unto Him—was made a target to many a dart of woe, and in Mázindarán, the Blessed feet of the Abhá Beauty—May my life be offered up for His loved ones—were so grievously scourged as to bleed and be sore wounded. His neck also was put into captive chains and His feet made fast in the stocks. In every hour, for a period of fifty years, a new trial and calamity befell Him and fresh afflictions and cares beset Him. One of them: after having suffered intense vicissitudes, He was made homeless and a wanderer and fell a victim to still new vexations and troubles. In ‘Iráq, the Day-star of the world was so exposed to the wiles of the people of malice as to be eclipsed in splendor. Later on He was sent an exile to the Great City (Constantinople) and thence to the Land of Mystery (Adrianople), whence, grievously wronged, He was eventually transferred to the Most Great Prison (‘Akká). He whom the world hath wronged—May my life be offered up for His loved ones—was four times banished from city to city, till at last condemned to perpetual confinement, He was incarcerated in this Prison, the prison of highway robbers, of brigands and of manslayers. All this is but one of the trials that have afflicted the Blessed Beauty, the rest being even as grievous as this.
According to the direct and sacred command of God we are forbidden to utter slander, are commanded to show forth peace and amity, are exhorted to rectitude of conduct, straightforwardness and harmony with all the kindreds and peoples of the world. We must obey and be the well-wishers of the governments of the land, regard disloyalty unto a just king as disloyalty to God Himself and wishing evil to the government a transgression of the Cause of God.
O God, my God! Thou seest this wronged servant of Thine, held fast in the talons of ferocious lions, of ravening wolves, of bloodthirsty beasts. Graciously assist me, through my love for Thee, that I may drink deep of the chalice that brimmeth over with faithfulness to Thee and is filled with Thy bountiful Grace; so that, fallen upon the dust, I may sink prostrate and senseless whilst my vesture is dyed crimson with my blood. This is my wish, my heart’s desire, my hope, my pride, my glory. Grant, O Lord my God, and my Refuge, that in my last hour, my end, may even as musk shed its fragrance of glory! Is there a bounty greater than this? Nay, by Thy Glory! I call Thee to witness that no day passeth but that I quaff my fill from this cup, so grievous are the misdeeds wrought by them that have broken the Covenant, kindled discord, showed their malice, stirred sedition in the land and dishonored Thee amidst Thy servants. Lord! Shield Thou from these Covenant-breakers the mighty
The Greatest Holy Leaf, Sister of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá
The Greatest Holy Leaf, Sister of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá
The Purest Branch, Brother of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá
The Purest Branch, Brother of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá
Stronghold of Thy Faith and protect Thy secret Sanctuary from the onslaught of the ungodly. Thou art in truth the Mighty, the Powerful, the Gracious, the Strong.
O God, my God! Shield Thy trusted servants from the evils of self and passion, protect them with the watchful eye of Thy loving-kindness from all rancor, hate and envy, shelter them in the impregnable stronghold of Thy Cause and, safe from the darts of doubtfulness, make them the manifestations of Thy glorious Signs, illumine their faces with the effulgent rays shed from the Day-spring of Thy divine Unity, gladden their hearts with the verses revealed from Thy holy Kingdom, strengthen their loins by Thy all-swaying power that cometh from Thy Realm of Glory. Thou art the All-bountiful, the Protector, the Almighty, the Gracious.
O ye that stand fast in the Covenant! When the hour cometh that this wronged and broken-winged bird will have taken its flight unto the Celestial Concourse, when it will have hastened to the Realm of the Unseen and its mortal frame will have been either lost or hidden neath the dust, it is incumbent upon the Afnán, that are steadfast in the Covenant of God, and have branched from the Tree of Holiness; the Hands (pillars) of the Cause of God, —The glory of the Lord rest upon them—and all the friends and loved ones, one and all to bestir themselves and arise with heart and soul and in one accord, to diffuse the sweet savors of God, to teach His Cause and to promote His Faith. It behooveth them not to rest for a moment, neither to seek repose. They must disperse themselves in every land, pass by every clime and travel throughout all regions. Bestirred, without rest and steadfast to the end they must raise in every land the triumphal cry “O Thou the Glory of Glories!” (Yá-Bahá’u’l-Abhá), must achieve renown in the world wherever they go, must burn brightly even as a candle in every meeting and must kindle the flame of divine love in every assembly; that the light of truth may rise resplendent in the midmost heart of the world, that throughout the East and throughout the West a vast concourse may gather under the shadow of the Word of God, that the sweet savors of holiness may be diffused, that faces may shine radiantly, hearts be filled with the divine spirit and souls be made heavenly.
In these days, the most important of all things is the guidance of the nations and peoples of the world. Teaching the Cause is of utmost importance for it is the head corner-stone of the foundation itself. This wronged servant has spent his days and nights in promoting the Cause and urging the peoples to service. He rested not a moment, till the fame of the Cause of God was noised abroad in the world and the celestial strains from the Abhá Kingdom roused the East and the West. The beloved of God must also follow the same example. This is the secret of faithfulness, this is the requirement of servitude to the Threshold of Bahá!
The disciples of Christ forgot themselves and all earthly things, forsook all their cares and belongings, purged themselves of self and passion and with absolute detachment scattered far and wide and engaged in calling the peoples of the world to the divine Guidance, till at last they made the world another world, illumined the surface of the earth and even to their last hour proved self-sacrificing in the pathway of that Beloved One of God. Finally in various lands they suffered glorious martyrdom. Let them that are men of action follow in their footsteps!
O my loving friends! After the passing away of this wronged one, it is incumbent upon the Aghṣán (Branches), the Afnán (Twigs) of the Sacred Lote-Tree, the Hands (pillars) of the Cause of God and the loved ones of the Abhá Beauty to turn unto Shoghi Effendi—the youthful branch branched from the two hallowed and sacred Lote-Trees and the fruit grown from the union of the two offshoots of the Tree of Holiness,—as he is the sign of God, the chosen branch, the guar-
dian of the Cause of God, he unto whom all the Aghṣán, the Afnán, the Hands of the Cause of God and His loved ones must turn. He is the expounder of the words of God and after him will succeed the first-born of his lineal descendants.
The sacred and youthful branch, the guardian of the Cause of God, as well as the Universal House of Justice, to be universally elected and established, are both under the care and protection of the Abhá Beauty, under the shelter and unerring guidance of His Holiness, the Exalted One—May my life be offered up for them both. Whatsoever they decide is of God. Whoso obeyeth him not, neither obeyeth them, hath not obeyed God; whoso rebelleth against him and against them hath rebelled against God; whoso opposeth him hath opposed God; whoso contendeth with them hath contended with God; whoso disputeth with him hath disputed with God; whoso denieth him hath denied God; whoso disbelieveth in him hath disbelieved in God; whoso deviateth, separateth himself and turneth aside from him, hath in truth deviated, separated himself and turned aside from God—May the wrath, the fierce indignation, the vengeance of God rest upon him! The mighty stronghold shall remain impregnable and safe through obedience to him who is the guardian of the Cause of God. It is incumbent upon the members of the House of Justice, upon all the Aghṣán, the Afnán, the Hands of the Cause of God to show their obedience, submissiveness and subordination unto the guardian of the Cause of God, to turn unto him and be lowly before him. He that opposeth him hath opposed the True One, will make a breach in the Cause of God, will subvert His word and will become a manifestation of the Center of Sedition. Beware, beware, lest the days after the ascension (of Bahá’u’lláh) be repeated when the Center of Sedition waxed haughty and rebellious and with divine Unity for his excuse deprived himself and perturbed and poisoned others. No doubt every vain-glorious one that purposeth dissension and discord will not openly declare his evil purposes, nay rather, even as impure gold, would he seize upon divers measures and various pretexts that he may separate the gathering of the people of Bahá. My object is to show that the Hands of the Cause of God must be ever watchful and so soon as they find anyone beginning to oppose and protest against the guardian of the Cause of God, cast him out from the congregation of the people of Bahá and in no wise accept any excuse from him. How often hath grievous error been disguised in the garb of truth, that it might sow the seeds of doubt in the hearts of men!
O ye beloved of the Lord! It is incumbent upon the guardian of the Cause of God to appoint in his own lifetime him that shall become his successor, that differences may not arise after his passing. He that is appointed must manifest in himself detachment from all worldly things, must be the essence of purity, must show in himself the fear of God, knowledge, wisdom and learning. Thus, should the first-born of the guardian of the Cause of God not manifest in himself the truth of the words :—“The child is the secret essence of its sire,” that is, should he not inherit of the spiritual within him (the guardian of the Cause of God) and his glorious lineage not be matched with a goodly character, then must he (the guardian of the Cause of God) choose another branch to succeed him.
The Hands of the Cause of God must elect from their own number nine persons that shall at all times be occupied in the important services in the work of the guardian of the Cause of God. The election of these nine must be carried either unanimously or by majority from the company of the Hands of the Cause of God and these, whether unanimously or by a majority vote, must give their assent to the choice of the one whom the guardian of the Cause of God hath chosen as his successor. This assent must be given in such wise as the assenting and dissenting voices may not be distinguished (i.e., secret ballot).
O friends! The Hands of the Cause of God must be nominated and appointed by the guardian of the Cause of God. Almust be under his shadow and obey his command. Should any, within or without the company of the Hands of the Cause of God disobey and seek division the wrath of God and His vengeance will be upon him, for he will have caused a breach in the true Faith of God.
The obligations of the Hands of the Cause of God are to diffuse the Divine Fragrances, to edify the souls of men, to promote learning, to improve the character of all men and to be, at all times and under all conditions, sanctified and detached from earthly things. They must manifest the fear of God by their conduct, their manners, their deeds and their words.
This body of the Hands of the Cause of God is under the direction of the guardian of the Cause of God. He must continually urge them to strive and endeavor to the utmost of their ability to diffuse the sweet savors of God, and to guide all the peoples of the world, for it is the Light of Divine Guidance that causeth all the universe to be illumined. To disregard, though it be for a moment, this absolute command which is binding upon everyone, is in nowise permitted, that the existent world may become even as the Abhá Paradise, that the surface of the earth may become heavenly, that contention and conflict amidst peoples, kindreds, nations and governments may disappear, that all the dwellers on earth may become one people and one race, that the world may become even as one home. Should differences arise they shall be amicably and conclusively settled by the Supreme Tribunal, that shall include members from all the governments and peoples of the world.
O ye beloved of the Lord! In this sacred Dispensation, conflict and contention are in nowise permitted. Every aggressor deprives himself of God’s grace. It is incumbent upon everyone to show the utmost love, rectitude of conduct, straightforwardness and sincere kindliness unto all the peoples and kindreds of the world, be they friends or strangers. So intense must be the spirit of love and lovingkindness, that the stranger may find himself a friend, the enemy a true brother, no difference whatsoever existing between them. For universality is of God and all limitations earthly. Thus man must strive that his reality may manifest virtues and perfections, the light whereof may shine upon everyone. The light of the sun shineth upon all the world and the merciful showers of Divine Providence fall upon all peoples. The vivifying breeze reviveth every living creature and all beings endued with life obtain their share and portion at His heavenly board. In like manner, the affections and loving-kindness of the servants of the One True God must be bountifully and universally extended to all mankind. Regarding this, restrictions and limitations are in nowise permitted.
Wherefore, O my loving friends! Consort with all the peoples, kindreds and religions of the world with the utmost truthfulness, uprightness, faithfulness, kindliness, good-will and friendliness; that all the world of being may be filled with the holy ecstasy of the grace of Bahá, that ignorance, enmity, hate and rancor may vanish from the world and the darkness of estrangement amidst the peoples and kindreds of the world may give way to the Light of Unity. Should other peoples and nations be unfaithful to you show your fidelity unto them, should they be unjust toward you show justice towards them, should they keep aloof from you attract them to yourself, should they show their enmity be friendly towards them, should they poison your lives sweeten their souls, should they inflict a wound upon you be a salve to their sores. Such are the attributes of the sincere! Such are the attributes of the truthful.
And now, concerning the House of Justice which God hath ordained as the source of all good and freed from all error, it must be elected by universal suffrage, that is, by the believers. Its members must be manifestations of the fear of God and day-springs of knowledge
and understanding, must be steadfast in God's Faith and the well-wishers of all mankind. By this House is meant the Universal House of Justice; that is, in all countries, a secondary House of Justice must be instituted, and these secondary Houses of Justice must elect the members of the Universal one. Unto this body all things must be referred. It enacteth all ordinances and regulations that are not to be found in the explicit Holy Text. By this body all the difficult problems are to be resolved and the guardian of the Cause of God is its sacred head and the distinguished member for life of that body. Should he not attend in person its deliberations, he must appoint one to represent him. Should any of the members commit a sin, injurious to the common weal, the guardian of the Cause of God hath at his own discretion the right to expel him, whereupon the people must elect another one in h!s stead.
O ye beloved of the Lord! It is incumbent upon you to be submissive to all monarchs that are just and show your fidelity to every righteous king. Serve ye the sovereigns of the world with utmost truthfulness and loyalty. Show obedience unto them and be their well-wishers. Without their leave and permission do not meddle with political affairs, for disloyalty to the just sovereign is disloyalty to God Himself.
This is my counsel and the commandment of God unto you. Well is it with them that act accordingly.
By the Ancient Beauty! This wronged one hath in nowise borne nor doth He bear a grudge against anyone; towards none doth He entertain any ill-feeling and uttereth no word save for the good of the world. My supreme obligation, however, of necessity, prompteth Me to guard and preserve the Cause of God. Thus, with the greatest regret, I counsel you saying: “Guard ye the Cause of God, protect His law and have the utmost fear of discord. This is the foundation of the belief of the people of Bahá—May my life be offered up for them. His Holiness, the Exalted One (the Bab), is the Manifestation of the Unity and Oneness of God and the Forerunner of the Ancient Beauty. His Holiness the Abhá Beauty —May my life be a sacrifice for His steadfast friends—is the Supreme Manifestation of God and the Day-spring of His Most Divine Essence. All others are servants unto Him and do His bidding.” Unto the Most Holy Book everyone must turn and all that is not expressly recorded therein must be referred to the Universal House of Justice. That which this body, whether unanimously or by a majority doth carry, that is verily the Truth and the Purpose of God Himself. Whoso doth deviate therefrom is verily of them that love discord, hath shown forth malice and turned away from the Lord of the Covenant. By this House is meant that Universal House of Justice which is to be elected from all countries—that is, from those parts in the East and West where the loved ones are to be found—after the manner of the customary elections in western countries, such as those of England.
O ye beloved of the Lord! Strive with all your heart to shield the Cause of God from the onslaught of the insincere, for souls such as these cause the straight to become crooked and all benevolent efforts to produce contrary results.
O God, my God! I call Thee, Thy Prophets and Thy Messengers, Thy Saints and Thy Holy Ones, to witness that I have declared conclusively Thy Proofs unto Thy loved ones and set forth clearly all things unto them, that they may watch over Thy Faith, guard Thy Straight Path and protect Thy Resplendent Law. Thou art, verily the All-knowing, the All-wise!
Whosoever, and whatsoever meeting, becometh a hindrance to the diffusion of the Light of Faith, let the loved ones give them counsel and say: “Of all the gifts of God the greatest is the gift of Teaching. It draweth unto us the Grace of God and is our first obligation. Of such a gift how can we deprive ourselves? Nay our lives, our goods, our comforts, our rest,
Delegates and friends attending the Eightheenth Annual Convention of Bahá’ís of the United States and Canada at San Francisco, California, May, 1926
we offer them all as a sacrifice for the Abhá Beauty and teach the Cause of God.” Caution and prudence, however, must be observed even as recorded in the Book. The veil must in no wise be suddenly rent asunder.
The Glory of Glories rest upon you!
O ye the faithful loved ones of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá! It is incumbent upon you to take the greatest care of Shoghi Effendi, the twig that hath branched from the fruit given forth by the two hallowed and Divine Lote-Trees, that no dust of despondency and sorrow may stain his radiant nature, that day by day he may wax greater in happiness, in joy and spirituality, and may grow to become even as a fruitful tree.
For he is, after ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, the Guardian of the Cause of God. The Afnán, the Hands (pillars) of the Cause and the beloved of the Lord must obey him and turn unto him. He that obeyeth him not, hath not obeyed God; he that turneth away from him, hath turned away from God and he that denieth him, hath denied the True One. Beware lest anyone falsely interpret these words, and like unto them that have broken the Covenant after the Day of Ascension (of Bahá’u’lláh), advance a pretext, raise the standard of revolt, wax stubborn and open wide the door of false interpretation. To none is given the right to put forth his own opinion or express his particular convictions. All must seek guidance and turn unto the Center of the Cause and the House of Justice. And he that turneth unto whatsoever else is indeed in grievous error.
The Glory of Glories rest upon you!
“And now as I look into the future, I hope to see the friends at all times, in every land, and of every shade of thought and character, voluntarily and joyously rallying round their local and in particular their national centres of activity, upholding and promoting their interests with complete unanimity and contentment, with perfect understanding, genuine enthusiasm, and sustained vigor. This indeed is the one joy and yearning of my life, for it is the fountain-head from which all future blessings will flow, the broad foundation upon which the security of the Divine Edifice must ultimately rest.”—Shoghi.
THE 1926-1927 National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada completed a task which, while pertaining to the outer and more material aspects of the Cause, nevertheless has a special significance for its spirit and inward, sacred purpose. This task consisted in creating a legal form which gives proper substance and substantial character to the administrative processes embodied in the Bahá’í Teachings. The form adopted was that known as a Voluntary Trust, a species of corporation recognized under the common law and possessing a long and interesting history. The famous Covenant adopted by the Pilgrim Fathers on the Mayflower, the first legal document in American history, is of the same nature as the Declaration of Trust voted by the National Spiritual Assembly. This Declaration of Trust, with its attendant By-Laws, is published for the information of the Bahá’ís of the world. Careful examination of the Declaration and its By-Laws will reveal the fact that this document contains no arbitrary elements nor features new to the Bahá’í Cause. On the contrary, it represents a most con-
scientious effort to reflect those very administrative principles and elements already set forth in the letters of the Guardian, Shoghi Effendi, and already determining the methods and relationships of Bahá’í collective association. The provision both in the Declaration and in the By-Laws for amendments in the future will permit any National Spiritual Assembly to adapt this document to such new administrative elements or principles as the Guardian may at any time give forth. The Declaration, in fact, is nothing more or less than a legal parallel of those moral and spiritual laws of unity inherent in the fullness of the Bahá’í Revelation and making it the fulfillment of the ideal of Religion in the social as well as spiritual realm. Because in the Bahá’í Faith this perfect correspondence exists between spiritual and social laws, the Bahá’ís believe that administrative success, is identical with moral success; and that nothing less than the true Bahá’í spirit of devotion and sacrifice can inspire with effective power the world-wide body of unity, revealed by Bahá’u’lláh. Therefore it has seemed fitting and proper to accompany the Declaration of Trust with excerpts from the letters of Shoghi Effendi which furnished the source whence the provisions of the Declaration were drawn, and which furthermore give due emphasis to that essential spirit without which any and every social or religious form is but a dead and soulless body.—Editors.
By the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís
of the United States and Canada
WE, Allen B. McDaniel of Washington, D. C., Horace Holley of New York City, N. Y., Carl Scheffler of Evanston, Ill., Roy C. Wilhelm of West Englewood, N. J., Florence Morton of Worcester, Mass., Amelia Collins of Princeton, Mass., ‘Ali-Kulí Khán of New York City, N. Y., Mountfort Mills of New York City, N. Y., and Siegfried Schopflocher of Montreal, Quebec, Canada, duly chosen by the representatives of the Bahá’ís of the United States and Canada at the Annual Meeting held at San Francisco, Calif., on April 29, April 30, May 1, and May 2, 1926, to be the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of the United States and Canada, with full power to establish a Trust as hereinafter set forth, hereby declare that from this date the powers, responsibilities, rights, privileges and obligations reposed in said National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of the United States and Canada by Bahá’u’lláh, Founder of the Bahá’í Faith, by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, its Interpreter and Exemplar, and by Shoghi Effendi, its Guardian, shall be exercised, administered and carried on by the above-named National Spiritual Assembly and their duly qualified successors under this Declaration of Trust.
The National Spiritual Assembly in adopting this form of association, union and fellowship, and in selecting for itself the designation of Trustees of the Bahá’ís of the United States and Canada, does so as the administrative body of a religious community which has had continuous existence and responsibility for over eighteen years. In consequence of these activities the National Spiritual Assembly is called upon to administer such an ever-increasing diversity and volume of affairs and properties for the Bahá’ís of the United States and Canada, that we, its members, now feel it both desirable and necessary to give our collective functions more definite legal form. This action is taken in complete unanimity and with full recognition of the sacred relationship thereby created. We acknowledge in behalf of ourselves and our successors in this Trust the exalted religious standard established by Bahá’u’lláh for Bahá’í administrative bodies in the
utterance: “Be ye Trustees of the Merciful One among men”; and seek the help of God and His guidance in order to fulfill that exhortation.
Article I
The name of said Trust shall be theNational Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of the United States and Canada.
Article II
Sharing the ideals and assisting the efforts of our fellow Bahá’ís to establish, uphold and promote the spiritual, educaional and humanitarian teachings of human brotherhood, radiant faith, exalted character and selfless love revealed in the ives and utterances of all the Prophets and Messengers of God, Founders of the world’s revealed religions — and given renewed creative energy and universal application to the conditions of this age in the life and utterances of Bahá’u’lláh — we declare the purposes and objects of his Trust to be to administer the affairs of the Cause of Bahá’u’lláh for the benefit of the Bahá’ís of the United States and Canada according to the principles of Bahá’í affiliation and administration created and established by Bahá’u’lláh, defined and explained by 'Abdu'l-Baha, and amplified and applied by Shoghi Effendi and his duly constituted successor and successors under the provision of the Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá.
These purposes are to be realized by means of devotional meetings; by public meetings and conferences of an educational, humanitarian and spiritual character; by the publication of books, magazines and newspapers; by the construction of temples of universal worship and of other institutions and edifices for humanitarian service; by supervising, unifying, promoting and generally administering the activities of the Bahá’ís of the United States and Canada in the fulfillment of their religious offices, duties and ideals; and by any other means appropriate to these ends, or any of them.
Other purposes and objects of this Trust are:
a.The right to enter into, make, perform and carry out contracts of every sort and kind for the furtherance of the objects of this Trust with any person, firm, association, corporation, private, public or municipal or body politic, or any state, territory or colony thereof, or any foreign government; and in this connection, and in all transactions under the terms of this Trust, to do any and all things which a co-partnership or natural person could do or exercise, and which now or hereafter may be authorized by law.
b.To hold and be named as beneficiary under any trust established by law or otherwise or under any will or other testamentary instrument in connection with any gift, devise, or bequest in which a trust or trusts is or are established in any part of the world as well as in the United States and Canada; to receive gifts, devises or bequests of money or other property.
c.All and whatsoever the several purposes and objects set forth in the written utterances of Bahá’u’lláh, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá and Shoghi Effendi, under which certain jurisdiction, powers and rights are granted to National Spiritual Assemblies.
d.Generally to do all things and acts which in the judgment of said Trustees, i.e., the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of the United States and Canada, are necessary, proper and advantageous to promote the complete and successful administration of this Trust.
Article III
Section I. All persons, firms, corporations and associations extending credit to, contracting with or having any claim against the Trustees, i.e., the National Spiritual Assembly, and the members thereof, of any character whatsoever,
whether legal or equitable and whether arising out of contract or tort, shall look solely to the funds of the Trust and to the property of the Trust estate for payment or indemnity, or for the payment of any debt, damage, judgment or decree or any money that may otherwise become due or payable from the Trustees, so that neither the Trustees nor any of them, nor any of their officers or agents appointed by them hereunder, nor any beneficiary or beneficiaries herein named shall be personally liable therefor.
Section 2.Every note, bond, proposal, obligation or contract in writing or other agreement or instrument made or given under this Trust shall be explicitly executed by the National Spiritual Assembly, as Trustees by their duly authorized officers or agents.
Article IV
The Trustees, i.e., the National Spiritual Assembly, shall adopt for the conduct of the affairs entrusted to them under this Declaration of Trust, such by-laws, rules of procedure or regulations as are required to define and carry on its own administrative functions and those of the several local and other elements composing the body of the Bahá’ís of the United States and Canada, not inconsistent with the terms of this instrument and all in accordance with the explicit instructions given us to date by Shoghi Effendi, Guardian of the Cause of Bahá’u’lláh, which instructions are already known to the Bahá’ís of the United States and Canada and accepted by them in the government and practice of their religious affairs.
Article V
The central office of this Trust shall be located in the City of New York, State of New York, United States of America.
Article VI
The seal of this Trust shall be circular in form, bearing the following description:
National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of the United States and Canada. Declaration of Trust, 1927.
Article VII
This Declaration of Trust may be amended by majority vote of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of the United States and Canada at any special meeting duly called for that purpose, provided that at least thirty (30) days prior to the date fixed for said meeting a copy of the proposed amendment or amendments is mailed to each member of the Assembly by the Secretary.
Article I
THE National Spiritual Assembly, in the fulfillment of its sacred duties under this Trust,shall have exclusive jurisdiction and authority over all the activities and affairs of the Bahá’í Cause throughout the United States and Canada, including paramount authority in the administration of this Trust. It shall endeavor to stimulate, unify and co-ordinate the manifold activities of the local Spiritual Assemblies (hereinafter defined) and of individual Bahá’ís in the United States and Canada and by all possible means assist them to promote the oneness of mankind. It shall be charged with the recognition of such local Assemblies, the scrutiny of local membership rolls, the calling of the Annual Meeting or special meetings and the seating of delegates to the Annual Meeting and their apportionment among the various local Bahá’í communities. It shall appoint all national Bahá’í committees and shall supervise the publication and distribution of Bahá’í literature, the reviewing of all writings pertaining to the Bahá’í Cause, the construction and administration of the Mashriqu’l-Adhkár and its accessory activities, and the collection and disbursement of all funds for the carrying on of this Trust. It shall de-
cide whether any matter lies within its own jurisdiction or within the jurisdiction of any local Spiritual Assembly. It shall in such cases as it considers suitable and necessary, entertain appeals from the decisions of local Spiritual Assemblies and shall have the right of final decision in all cases where the qualification of an individual or group for continued voting rights and membership in the Bahá’í body is in question. It shall furthermore represent the Bahá’ís of the United States and Canada in all their co-operative and spiritual activities with the Bahá’ís of other lands, and shall constitute the sole electoral body of the United States and Canada in the formation of the Universal House of Justice provided for in the Sacred Writings of the Bahá’í Cause. Above all, the National Spiritual Assembly shall ever seek to attain that station of unity in devotion to the Revelation of Bahá’u’lláh which will attract the confirmations of the Holy Spirit and enable the Assembly to serve the founding of the Most Great Peace. In all its deliberation and action the National Assembly shall have constantly before it as Divine guide and standard the utterance of Bahá’u’lláh:
“It behooveth them (i.e., Spiritual As- semblies) to be the trusted ones of the Merciful among men and to consider themselves as the guardians appointed of God for all that dwell on earth. It is incumbent upon them to take counsel together and to have regard for the interests of the servants of God, for His sake, even as they regard their own interests, and to choose that which is meet and seemly.”
Article II
The Bahá’ís of the United States and Canada, for whose benefit this Trust has been established, shall consist of all persons resident in the United States and Canada who are recognized by the National Spiritual Assembly as having fulfilled the requirements of voting membership in a local Baha'i community. To become a voting member of a Bahá’í community a person shall—
a.Be a resident of the locality defined by the area of jurisdiction of the local Spiritual Assembly, as provided by Article VII, Section 12, of this instrument.
b.Have attained the age of 21 years.
c. Have established to the satisfaction of the local Spiritual Assembly, subject to the approval of the National Assembly, that he possesses the qualifications of Bahá’í faith and practice, required under the following standard: Full recognition of the station of the Forerunner (the Báb), the Author (Bahá’u’lláh) , and ‘Abdu’l-Bahá the True Exemplar of the Bahá’í Cause: unreserved acceptance of, and submission to, whatsoever has been revealed by their Pen; loyal and steadfast adherence to every clause of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s sacred Will; and close association with the spirit as well as the form of present-day Bahá’í administration throughout the world.
Article III
The National Assembly shall consist of nine members chosen from among the Bahá’ís of the United States and Canada, who shall be elected by the said Bahá’ís in manner hereinafter provided, and who shall continue in office for the period of one year, or until their successors shall be elected.
Article IV
The officers of the National Spiritual Assembly shall consist of a Chairman, Vice-Chairman, Secretary and Treasurer, and such other officers as may be found necessary for the proper conduct of its affairs. The officers shall be elected by a majority vote of the entire membership of the Assembly taken by secret ballot,
Article V
The first meeting of a newly-elected National Assembly shall be called by the member elected to membership by the highest number of votes or, in case two or more members have received the same said highest number of votes, then by the member selected by lot from among those members; and this member shall preside until the permanent Chairman shall be chosen. All subsequent meetings shall be called by the Secretary of the Assembly at the request of the Chairman or, in his absence or incapacity, of the Vice-Chairman, or of any three members of the Assembly; provided, however, that the Annual Meeting of the Assembly shall be held at a time and place to be fixed by a majority vote of the Assembly, as hereinafter provided.
Article VI
Five members of the National Assembly present at a meeting shall constitute a quorum, and a majority vote of those present and constituting a quorum shall be sufficient for the conduct of business, except as otherwise provided in these By-Laws, and with due regard to the principle of unity and cordial fellowship involved in the institution of a Spiritual Assembly. The transactions and decisions of the National Assembly shall be recorded at each meeting by the Secretary, who shall supply copies of the minutes to the Assembly members after each meeting, and preserve the minutes in the official records of the Assembly.
Article VII
Whenever in any locality of the United States and Canada, be it city, town or village, the number of Bahá’ís resident therein recognized by the National Spiritual Assembly exceeds nine, these may on April 21st of any year convene and elect by plurality vote a local administrative body of nine members, to be known as the Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of that community. Every such Spiritual Assembly shall be elected annually thereafter upon each successive 21st day of April. The members shall hold office for the term of one year and until their successors are elected and qualified.
When, however, the number of Bahá’ís in any community is exactly nine, these may on April 21st of any year, or in successive years, constitute themselves the local Spiritual Assembly by joint declaration. Upon the recording of such declaration by the Secretary of the National Spiritual Assembly, said body of nine shall become established with the rights, privileges and duties of a local Spiritual Assembly as set forth in this instrument.
Section I.Each newly-elected local Spiritual Assembly shall at once proceed in the manner indicated in Articles IV and V of these By-Laws to the election of its officers, who shall consist of a Chairman, Vice-Chairman, Secretary and Treasurer, and such other officers as the Assembly finds necessary for the conduct of its business and the fulfillment of its spiritual duties. Immediately thereafter the Secretary chosen shall transmit to the Secretary of the National Assembly the names of the members of the newly-elected Assembly and a list of its officers.
Section 2.The general powers and duties of a local Spiritual Assembly shall be as set forth in the writings of Bahá’u’lláh, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá and Shoghi Effendi.
Section 3.Among its more specific duties, a local Spiritual Assembly shall have full jurisdiction of all Bahá’í activities and affairs within the local community, subject, however, to the exclusive and paramount authority of the National Spiritual Assembly as defined herein.
Section 4.Vacancies in the membership of a local Spiritual Assembly shall be filled by election at a special meeting of the local Bahá’í community duly called for that purpose by the Assembly. In the event that the number of vacancies exceeds four, making a quorum of the local Assembly impossible, the election shall be held under the supervision of the National Spiritual Assembly.
Section 5.The business of the local Assembly shall be conducted in like manner as provided for the deliberations of the National Assembly in Article VI above.
Section 6.The local Assembly shall pass upon and approve the qualifications of each member of the Bahá’í community before such members shall be admitted to voting membership; but where an individual is dissatisfied with the ruling of the local Spiritual Assembly upon his Bahá’í qualifications, such individual may appeal from the ruling to the National Assembly, which shall thereupon take jurisdiction of and finally decide the case.
Section 7.On or before the 1st day of February of each year the Secretary of each local Assembly shall send to the Secretary of the National Assembly a duly certified list of the voting members of the local Bahá’í community for the information and approval of the National Assembly.
Section 8.All matters arising within a local Bahá’í community which are of purely local interest and do not affect the national interests of the Cause shall be under the primary jurisdiction of the Spiritual Assembly of that locality; but decision whether a particular matter involves the interest and welfare of the national Bahá’í body shall rest with the National Spiritual Assembly.
Section 9.Any member of a local Bahá’í community may appeal from a decision of his Spiritual Assembly to the National Assembly, which shall determine whether it shall take jurisdiction of the matter or leave it to the local Spiritual Assembly for reconsideration. In the event that the National Assembly assumes jurisdiction of the matter, its finding shall be final.
Section 10.Where any dissension exists within a local Bahá’í community of such a character that it cannot be remedied by the efforts of the local Spiritual Assembly, this condition shall be referred by the Spiritual Assembly for consideration to the National Spiritual Assembly, whose action in the matter shall be final.
Section 11.All questions arising between two or more local Spiritual Assemblies, or between members of different Bahá’í communities, shall be submitted in the first instance to the National Assembly, which shall have original and final jurisdiction in all such matters.
Section 12.The sphere of jurisdiction of a local Spiritual Assembly, with respect to residential qualification of membership, and voting rights of a believer in any Bahá’í community, shall be the locality included within the civil limits of the city, town or village, but Bahá’ís who reside in adjacent, outlying or suburban districts and can regularly attend the meetings of the local Bahá’í community, may be enrolled on the membership list of the adjacent Spiritual Assembly and enjoy full voting rights pending the establishment of a local Spiritual Assembly in their home community.
All differences of opinion concerning the sphere of jurisdiction of any local Spiritual Assembly or concerning the affiliation of any Bahá’í or group of Bahá’ís in the United States and Canada shall be referred to the National Spiritual Assembly, whose decision in the matter shall be final.
Article VIII
The Annual Meeting of the National Spiritual Assembly at which its members shall be elected shall be known as the National Convention of the Bahá’ís of the United States and Canada, and shall be held at a time and place to be fixed by the National Assembly, which shall give sixty days’ notice of the meeting to each local Bahá’í community through its Spiritual Assembly. The National Assembly shall at the same time inform each Spiritual Assembly of the number of delegates to the Convention it has assigned to the local Bahá’í community in accordance with the principle of proportionate representa-
tion in such manner that the entire number of delegates composing the National Convention shall be ninety-five. Upon receipt of this notice each local Spiritual Assembly shall, within a convenient period and after giving due and sufficient notice thereof, call a meeting of the voting members on its rolls for the purpose of electing their delegate or delegates to the National Convention ; and, not later than thirty days before the date of the Convention, the Secretary of each local Spiritual Assembly shall certify to the Secretary of the National Spiritual Assembly the names and addresses of the delegates so elected.
Section 1.All delegates to the Convention shall be elected by plurality vote of those present at their election.
Section 2.All delegates to be seated at the Convention must be enrolled as voting members of the Bahá’í community represented by them.
Section 3.The rights and privileges of a delegate may not be assigned nor may they be exercised by proxy.
Section 4.The recognition and seating of delegates to the National Convention shall be vested in the National Spiritual Assembly.
Section 5.Delegates unable to be present in person at the Convention shall have the right to vote for members of the National Spiritual Assembly by mail or telegram under such conditions as may be indicated by the National Assembly.
Section 6.If in any year the National Spiritual Assembly shall consider that it is impracticable or unwise to assemble together the delegates to the National Convention, the National Spiritual Assembly shall provide ways and means by which the business of the Convention may be conducted by correspondence or telegram. Any action taken under such circumstances shall be by a majority vote of all the delegates.
Section 7.The presiding officer of the National Spiritual Assembly present at the National Convention shall call to order the delegates, who shall then proceed to the permanent organization of the meeting, electing a presiding officer, a Secretary and such other officers as are necessary for the proper conduct of the business of the Convention.
Section 8.The principal business of the National Convention shall be the election of the nine members of the incoming National Spiritual Assembly, the consideration of the reports of the financial and other activities of the outgoing National Assembly and its various committees, and deliberation upon the affairs of the Bahá’í Cause in general, it being understood, however, in accordance with the principles of Bahá’í administration defined by the Guardian that all deliberation and action of the delegates at the National Convention, other than the election of the members of the incoming National Spiritual Assembly, shall constitute merely advice and recommendation for consideration by the said Assembly, final decision on all matters concerning the affairs of the Bahá’í Cause in the United States and Canada being vested solely in that body.
Section 9.The general order of business to be taken up at the National Convention shall be prepared by the National Spiritual Assembly, but any and all matters pertaining to the Cause introduced by any of the delegates may upon motion and vote be taken up as part of the deliberations of the Convention.
Section 1O.The election of the members of the National Spiritual Assembly shall be by plurality vote of the delegates recognized by the outgoing National Spiritual Assembly, i. e., the members elected shall be the nine persons receiving the greatest number of votes on the first ballot cast by delegates present at the Convention and delegates whose ballot has been transmitted to the Secretary of
the National Spiritual Assembly by mail or telegram. In case by reason of a tie vote or votes the full membership is not determined on the first ballot, then one or more additional ballots shall be taken until all nine members are elected.
Section 11.All official business transacted at the National Convention shall be recorded and preserved in the records of the National Assembly.
Section 12.After the termination of the National Convention and until the next such Annual Meeting has been called in session, the delegates shall continue as a consultative body capable of rendering a distinctive service to the work of the Cause, and they shall make every effort to contribute to the unified spirit, information and useful action of the National Spiritual Assembly throughout the year.
Section 13.Vacancies in the membership of the National Spiritual Assembly shall be filled by a plurality vote of the delegates composing the Convention which elected the Assembly, the ballot to be taken by correspondence or in any other manner decided upon by the National Spiritual Assembly.
Article VIX
Where the National Spiritual Assembly has been given in these By-Laws exclusive and final jurisdiction, and paramount executive authority, in an matters pertaining to the activities and affairs of the Bahá’í Cause in the United States and Canada, it is understood that any decision made or action taken upon such matters shan be subject in every instance to ultimate review and approval by the Guardian of the Cause or the Universal House of Justice.
Article X
Whatever functions and powers are not specifically attributed to local Spiritual Assemblies in these By-Laws shall be considered vested in the National Spiritual Assembly, which body is authorized to delegate such discretionary functions and powers as it deems necessary and advisable to the local Spiritual Assemblies within its jurisdiction.
Article XI
In order to preserve the spiritual character and purpose of Bahá’í elections, the practice of nominations or any other electoral method detrimental to a silent and prayerful election shall not prevail, so that each elector may vote for none but those whom prayer and reflection have inspired him to uphold.
Among the most outstanding and sacred duties incumbent upon those who have been called upon to initiate, direct and co-ordinate the affairs of the Cause as members of local or national Spiritual Assemblies are:
To win by every means in their power the confidence and affection of those whom it is their privilege to serve; to investigate and acquaint themselves with the considered views, the prevailing sentiments and the personal convictions of those whose welfare it is their solemn obligation to promote; to purge their deliberations and the general conduct of their affairs of self-contained aloofness, the suspicion of secrecy, the stifling atmosphere of dictatorial assertiveness and of every word and deed that may savor of partiality, self-centeredness and prejudice; and while retaining the sacred right of final decision in their hands, to invite discussion, ventilate grievances, welcome advice, and foster the sense of inter-dependence and co-partnership, of understanding and mutual confidence between themselves and all other Bahá’ís.
Article XII
These: By-Laws may be amended by majority vote of the National Spiritual Assembly at any of its regular or special meetings, provided that at least fourteen days prior to the date fixed for the said meeting a copy of the proposed amendment or amendments is mailed to each member of the Assembly by the Secretary.
Delegates and friends attending the Nineteenth Annual Convention of Bahá’ís of United States and Canada, at Montreal, Quebec, April 29-May 3, 1927
Addressed to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of the United States
and Canada, which furnished the source whence the
Declaration of Trust was drawn
AT this grave and momentous period through which the Cause of God, in conformity with the divine wisdom is passing, it is the sacred duty of everyone of us to endeavor to realize the full significance of this hour of transition, and then to make a supreme resolve to arise steadfastly for the fulfillment of our sacred obligations.
A perusal of some of the words of Bahá’u’lláh and ‘Abdu’l-Bahá on the duties and functions of the Spiritual Assemblies in every land (later to be designated as the local Houses of Justice), emphatical1y reveals the sacredness of their nature, the wide scope of their activity, and the grave responsibility which rests upon them.
Addressing the members of the Spiritual Assembly in Chicago, the Master reveals the following: “Whenever ye enter the council chamber, recite this prayer with a heart throbbing with the love of God and a tongue purified from all but His remembrance, that the All-powerful may graciously aid you to achieve supreme victory: ‘O God, my God! We are servants of Thine who have turned with devotion to Thy Holy Face, who have detached ourselves from all beside Thee in this glorious Day. We have gathered in this spiritual assembly, united in our views and thoughts, with our purposes harmonized to exalt Thy Word amidst mankind. O Lord, our God! Make us the signs of Thy Divine Guidance, the standards of Thy Exalted Faith amongst men, servants to Thy Mighty Covenant, O Thou, our Lord Most High! Manifestations of Thy Divine Unity in Thine Abhá Kingdom, and resplendent stars shining upon all regions. Lord! Aid us to become seas surging with the billows of Thy Wondrous Grace, streams flowing from Thy All-glorious Heights, goodly fruits upon the Tree of Thy Heavenly Cause, trees waving through the breezes of Thy Bounty in Thy Celestial Vineyard. O God! Make our souls dependent upon the Verses of Thy Divine Unity, our hearts cheered with the outpourings of Thy Grace, that we may unite even as the waves of one sea and become merged together as the rays of Thine Effulgent Light; that our thoughts, our views, our feelings may become as one reality, manifesting the spirit of union throughout the world. Thou art the Gracious, the Bountiful, the Bestower, the Almighty, the Merciful, the Compassionate.’”
Furthermore, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá reveals the fol!owing: “It is incumbent upon everyone not to take any step without consulting the Spiritual Assembly, and they must assuredly obey with heart and soul its bidding and be submissive unto it, that things may be properly ordered and well arranged. Otherwise every person will act independently and after his own judgment, will follow his own desire, and do harm to the Cause.
“The prime requisites for them that take counsel together are purity of motive, radiance of spirit, detachment from all else save God, attraction to His Divine Fragrances, humility and lowliness amongst His loved ones, patience and long-suffering in difficulties and servitude to His exalted Threshold. Should they be graciously aided to acquire these attributes, victory from the unseen Kingdom of Bahá shall be vouchsafed to them. In this day, assemblies of consultation are of the greatest importance and a vital necessity. Obedience to them is essential and obligatory. The members thereof must take counsel together in such wise that no occasion for ill-feeling or discord may arise. This can be attained
when every member expresseth with absolute freedom his own opinion and setteth forth his argument. Should anyone oppose, he must on no account feel hurt for not until matters are fully discussed can the right way be revealed. The shining spark of truth cometh forth only after the clash of differing opinions. If after discussion a decision be carried unanimously, well and good; but if, the Lord forbid, differences of opinion should arise, a majority of voices must prevail.”
Enumerating the obligations incumbent upon the members of consulting councils, the Beloved reveals the following : “The first condition is absolute love and harmony amongst the members of the Assembly. They must be wholly free from estrangement and must manifest in themselves the Unity of God, for they are the waves of one sea, the drops of one river, the stars of one heaven, the rays of one sun, the trees of one orchard, the flowers of one garden. Should harmony of thought and absolute unity be non-existent, that gathering shall be dispersed and that Assembly be brought to naught. The second condition: They must, when coming together, turn their faces to the Kingdom on high and ask aid from the Realm of Glory. They must then proceed with the utmost devotion, courtesy, dignity, care and moderation to express their views. They must in every matter search out the truth and not insist upon their own opinion, for stubbornness and persistence in one’s views will lead ultimately to discord and wrangling and the truth will remain hidden. The honored members must with all freedom express their own thoughts, and it is in nowise permissible for one to belittle the thoughts of another; nay, he must with moderation set forth the truth, and should differences of opinion arise a majority of voices must prevail, and all must obey and submit to the majority. It is again not permitted that anyone of the honored members object to or censure, whether in or out of the meeting, any decision arrived at previously, though that decision be not right, for such criticism would prevent any decision from being enforced. In short, whatsoever thing is arranged in harmony and with love and purity of motive, its result is light, and should the least trace of estrangement prevail the result shall be darkness upon darkness . . . . If this be so regarded, that Assembly shall be of God, but otherwise it shall lead to coolness and alienation that proceed from the Evil One. Discussions must all be confined to spiritual matters that pertain to the training of souls, the instruction of children, the relief of the poor, the help of the feeble throughout all classes in the world, kindness to all peoples, the diffusion of the fragrances of God and the exaltation of His Holy Word. Should they endeavor to fulfill these conditions the Grace of the Holy Spirit shall be vouchsafed unto them, and that Assembly shall become the center of the divine blessings, the hosts of divine confirmation shall come to their aid, and they shall day by day receive a new effusion of spirit.”
This is indeed a clear indication of the Master’s express desire that nothing whatever should be given to the public by any individual among the friends, unless fully considered and approved by the Spiritual Assembly in his locality; and if this (as is undoubtedly the case) is a matter that pertains to the general interests of the Cause in that land, then it is incumbent upon the Spiritual Assembly to submit it to the consideration and approval of the National body representing all the various local Assemblies. Not only with regard to publication, but all matters without any exception whatsoever, regarding the interests of the Cause in that locality, individually or collectively, should be referred exclusively to the Spiritual Assembly in that locality, which shall decide upon it, unless it be a matter of national interest, in which case it shall be referred to the National (Bahá’í) body. With this National body also will rest the decision whether a given question is of local or national (Bahá’í) interest.
(From letter of March 5, 1922.)
The matter of teaching, its direction, its ways and means, its extension, its consolidation, essential as they are to the interests of the Cause, constitute by no means the only issue which should receive the full attention of these Assemblies. A careful study of Bahá’u’lláh’s and ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s Tablets will reveal that other duties, no less vital to the interests of the Cause, devolve upon the elected representatives of the friends in every locality.
It is incumbent upon them to be vigilant and cautious, discreet and watchful, and protect at all times the Temple of the Cause from the dart of the mischief-maker and the onslaught of the enemy.
They must endeavor to promote amity and concord amongst the friends, efface every lingering trace of distrust, coolness and estrangement from every heart, and secure in its stead an active and wholehearted co-operation for the service of the Cause.
They must do their utmost to extend at all times the helping hand to the poor, the sick, the disabled, the orphan, the widow, irrespective of color, caste or creed.
They must promote by every means in their power the material as well as the spiritual enlightenment of youth, the means for the education of children, institute whenever possible Bahá’í educational institutions, organize and supervise their work, and provide the best means for their progress and development.
They must make an effort to maintain official, regular and frequent correspondence with the various Bahá’í centers throughout the world, report to them their activities, and share the glad-tidings they receive with all their fellow-workers in the Cause.
They must bend every effort to promote the interests of the Mashriqu’l-Adhkár, and hasten the day when the work of this glorious Edifice will have been consummated.
They must encourage and stimulate by every means at their command, through subscriptions, reports and articles, the development of the various Bahá’í magazines.
They must undertake the arrangement of the regular meetings of the friends, the feasts and the anniversaries, as well as the special gatherings designed to serve and promote the social, intellectual and spiritual interests of their fellowmen.
They must supervise in these days when the Cause is still in its infancy all Bahá’í publications and translations, and provide in general for a dignified and accurate presentation of all Bahá’í literature and its distribution to the general public.
These rank among the most outstanding obligations of the members of every Spiritual Assembly. In whatever locality the Cause has sufficiently expanded, and in order to insure efficiency and avoid confusion, each of these manifold functions will have to be referred to a special Committee, responsible to that Assembly, elected by it from among the friends in that locality, and upon whose work the Assembly will have to exercise constant and general supervision.
These local Spiritual Assemblies will have to be elected directly by the friends, and every declared believer of 21 years and above, far from standing aloof and assuming an indifferent or independent attitude, should regard it his sacred duty to take part, conscientiously and diligently, in the election, the consolidation and the efficient working of his own local Assembly.
Regarding the establishment of National Assemblies, it is of vital importance that in every country, where the conditions are favorable and the number of the friends has grown and reached a considerable size, that a National Spiritual Assembly be immediately established. representative of the friends throughout that country.
Its immediate purpose is to stimulate, unify and co-ordinate, by frequent personal consultations, the manifold activities of the friends as well as the local Assemblies; and by keeping in close and constant touch with the Holy Land, ini-
tiate measures, and direct in general the affairs of the Cause in that country.
It serves also another purpose, no less essential than the first, as in the course of time it shall evolve into the National House of Justice (referred to in ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s Will as the Secondary House of Justice) which according to the explicit text of the Testament will have, in conjunction with the other National Assemblies throughout the Bahá’í world, to elect directly the members of the International House of Justice, that Supreme Council that will guide, organize and unify the affairs of the Movement throughout the world.
It is expressly recorded in ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s writings that these National Assemblies must be indirectly elected by the friends; that is, the friends in every country must elect a certain number of delegates, who in their turn will elect from among all the friends in that country the members of the National Spiritual Assembly. In such countries, therefore . . . a fixed number of secondary electors must first be decided upon (95 for America, including the Pacific Islands . . .). The friends then in every locality where the number of adult declared believers exceeds nine must directly elect its quota of secondary electors assigned to it in direct proportion to its numerical strength. These secondary electors will then, either through correspondence, or preferably by gathering together, and first deliberating upon the affairs of the Cause throughout their country (as the delegates to the Convention), then elect from among all the friends in that country nine who will be the members of the National Spiritual Assembly.
This National Spiritual Assembly which, pending the establishment of the Universal House of Justice, will have to be re-elected once a year, obviously assumes grave responsibilities for it has to exercise full authority over all the local Assemblies in its province, and will have to direct the activities of the friends, guard vigilantly the Cause of God, and control and supervise the affairs of the Movement in general.
Vital issues, affecting the interests of the Cause in that country, such as the matter of translation and publication, the Ma shriqu’l-Adhkár, the teaching work, and other similar matters that stand distinct from strictly local affairs, must be under the full jurisdiction of the National Assembly.
It will have to refer each of these questions, even as the local Assemblies, to a special Committee, to be elected by the members of the National Spiritual Assembly from among all the friends in that country, which will bear to it the same relations as the local committees bear to their respective local Assemblies.
With it, too, rests the decision whether a certain point at issue is strictly local in its nature, and should be reserved for the consideration and decision of the local Assembly, or whether it should fall under its own province and be regarded as a matter which ought to receive its special attention. The National Spiritual Assembly will also decide upon such matters which in its opinion should be referred to the Holy Land for consultation and decision.
With these Assemblies, local as well as national, harmoniously, vigorously, and efficiently functioning throughout the Bahá’í world, the only means for the establishment of the Supreme House of Justice will have been assured. And when this Supreme Body will have been properly established, it will have to consider afresh the whole situation, and lay down the principle which shall direct, so long as it deems advisable, the affairs of the Cause.
Pending its establishment, and to insure uniformity throughout the East and throughout the West, all local Assemblies will have to be re-elected once a year, during the first day of Ridvan (April 21), and the result of polling, if possible, be declared on that day.
And as the progress and extension of spiritual activities is dependent and conditioned upon material means, it is of
absolute necessity that immediately afterthe establishment of local as well as National Spiritual Assemblies, a Bahá’í Fund be established, to be placed under the exclusive control of the Spiritual Assembly. All donations and contributions should be offered to the Treasurer of the Assembly, for the express purpose of promoting the interests of the Cause,throughout that locality or country. It is the sacred obligation of every conscientious and faithful servant of Bahá’u’lláh, who desires to see His Cause advance, to contribute freely and generously for the increase of that Fund. The members of the Spiritual Assembly will at their own discretion expend it to promote the teaching campaign, to help the needy, to establish educational Bahá’í institutions, to extend in every way possible their sphere of service. I cherish the hope that all the friends, realizing the necessity of this measure, will bestir themselves and contribute, however modestly at first, towards the speedy establishment and the increase of that Fund.
The need for the centralization of the authority in the National Spiritual Assembly, and the concentration of power in the various local Assemblies, is made manifest when we reflect that the Cause of Bahá’u’lláh is still in its age of tender growth and in a stage of transition; when we remember that the full implications and the exact significance of the Master’s world-wide instructions, as laid down in His Will, are as yet not fully grasped, and the whole Movement has not sufficiently crystallized in the eyes of the world.
(From letter of March 12, 1923.)
As the administrative work of the Cause steadily expands, as its various branches grow in importance and number, it is absolutely necessary that we bear in mind this fundamental fact that all these administrative activities, however harmoniously and efficiently conducted, are but means to an end, and should be regarded as direct instruments for the propagation of the Bahá’í Faith. Let us take heed lest in our great concern for the perfection of the administrative machinery of the Cause, we lose sight of the Divine Purpose for which it has been created. Let us be on our guard lest the growing demand for specialization in the administrative functions of the Cause detain us from joining the ranks of those who in the forefront of battle are gloriously engaged in summoning the multitude to this New Day of God. This indeed should be our primary concern; this is our sacred obligation, our vital and urgent need. Let this cardinal principle be ever borne in mind, for it is the mainspring of all future activities, the remover of every embarrassing obstacle, the fulfillment of our Master’s dearest wish.
(From letter of January 10, 1926.)
The administrative machinery of the Cause having now sufficiently evolved, its aim and object fairly-well grasped and understood, and its method and working made more familiar to every believer, I feel the time is ripe when it should be fully and consciously utilized to further the purpose for which it has been created. It should, I strongly feel, be made to serve a two-fold purpose. On one hand, it should aim at a steady and gradual expansion of the Movement along lines that are at once broad, sound and universal; and on the other it should insure the internal consolidation of the work already achieved. It should both provide the impulse whereby the dynamic forces latent in the Faith can unfold, crystallize, and shape the lives and conduct of men, and serve as a medium for the interchange of thought and the co-ordination of activities among the divers elements that constitute the Bahá’í community.
(From letter of May 11, 1926.)
With this vision clearly set before us, and fortified by the knowledge of the gracious aid of Bahá’u’lláh and the repeated assurance of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, let us first strive to live the life and then arise with one heart, one mind, one voice, to reinforce our numbers and achieve our end. Let us recall, and seek on this sad occa-
sion the comfort of, the last wishes of our departed yet ever-watchful Master :
“It behooveth them not to rest for a moment, neither to seek repose. They must disperse themselves in every land, pass by every clime, and travel throughout all regions. Bestirred, without rest, and steadfast to the end, they must raise n every land the triumphal cry ‘Yá-Bahá’u’l-Abhá’ (0 Thou the Glory of Glories) .... The disciples of Christ forgot themselves and all earthly things, forsook all their cares and belongings, purged themselves of self and passion, and with absolute detachment scattered far and wide and engaged in calling 'the peoples of the world to the divine guidance; till at last they made the world another world, illumined the surface of the earth, and even to their last hour proved self-sacrificing in the pathway of that beloved One of God. Finally in various lands they suffered glorious martyrdom. Let them that are men of action follow in their footsteps !”
Having grasped the significance of these words, having obtained a clear understanding of the true character of our mission, the methods to adopt, the course to pursue, and having attained sufficiently the individual regeneration—the essential requisite of teaching—let us arise to teach His Cause with righteousness, conviction, understanding and vigor. Let this be the paramount and most urgent duty of every Bahá’í. Let us make it the dominating passion of our life. Let us scatter to the uttermost corners of the earth; sacrifice our personal interests, comforts, tastes and pleasures; mingle with the divers kindreds and peoples of the world; familiarize ourselves with their manners, traditions, thoughts and customs; arouse, stimulate and maintain universal interest in the Movement, and at the same time endeavor by all the means in our power, by concentrated and persistent attention, to enlist the unreserved allegiance and the active support of the more hopeful and receptive among our hearers. Let us too bear in mind the example which our beloved Master has clearly set before us. Wise and tactful in His approach, wakeful and attentive in His early intercourse, broad and liberal in all His public utterances, cautious and gradual in the unfolding of the essential verities of the Cause, passionate in His appeal yet sober in argument, confident in tone, unswerving in conviction, dignified in His manner — such were the distinguishing features of our Beloved’s noble presentation of the Cause of Bahá’u’lláh.
(From letter of November 24, 1924.)
It would be impossible at this stage to ignore the indispensability or to overestimate the unique significance of the institution of the National Spiritual Assembly—the pivot round which revolve he activities of the believers throughout the American continent. Supreme is their position, grave their responsibilities, manifold and arduous their duties. How great the privilege, how delicate the task of the assembled delegates whose funcion it is to elect such national represenatives as would by their record of service ennoble and enrich the annals of the Cause! If we but turn our gaze to the high qualifications of the members of Bahá’í Assemblies, as enumerated in ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s Tablets, we are filled with feelings of unworthiness and dismay, and would feel truly disheartened but for the comforting thought that if we rise to play nobly our part every deficiency in our lives will be more than compensated by the all-conquering spirit of His grace and power. Hence it is incumbent upon the chosen delegates to consider without the least trace of passion and prejudice, and irrespective of any material consideration, the names of only those who can best combine the necessary qualities of unquestioned loyalty, of selfless devotion, of a well-trained mind, of recognized ability and mature experience. May the incoming National Spiritual Assembly —the privileged and chosen servants of the Cause—immortalize their term of stewardship by deeds of loving service, deeds that will redound to the honor, the glory and the power of the Most Great Name.
I would also earnestly entreat all the delegates at this coming Convention, and through them I appeal to the larger body of believers whom they represent, to ever bear in mind the supreme injunction of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, to teach unceasingly until the “head cornerstone of the foundation” of the Cause of God is firmly established in every heart. Let those whose time, resources and means allow, travel throughout the length and breadth of that vast continent, let them scatter to the most distant regions of the earth and, fired with enthusiasm and detachment, hand on the torch of God’s undying flame to the waiting multitudes of a sadly-stricken world.
(From letter of June 3, 1925.)
Hitherto the National Convention has been primarily called together for the consideration of the various circumstances attending the election of the National Spiritual Assembly. I feel, however, that in view of the expansion and the growing importance of the administrative sphere of the Cause, the general sentiments and tendencies prevailing among the friends , and the signs of increasing interdependence among the National Spiritual Assemblies throughout the world, the assembled accredited representatives of the American believers should exercise not only the vital and responsible right of electing the National Assembly, but should also fulfill the functions of an enlightened, consultative and co-operative body that will enrich the experience, enhance the prestige, support the authority, and assist the deliberations of the National Spiritual Assembly. It is my firm conviction that it is the bounden duty, in the interest of the Cause we all love and serve, of the members of the incoming National Assembly, once elected by the delegates at Convention time, to seek and have the utmost regard, individually as well as collectively, for the advice, the considered opinion and the true sentiments of the assembled delegates. Banishing every vestage of secrecy, of undue reticence, of dictatorial aloofness, from their midst; they should radiantly and abundantly unfold to the eyes of the delegates, by whom they are elected, their plans, their hopes, and their cares. They should familiarize the delegates with the various matters that will have to be considered in the current year, and calmly and conscientiously study and weigh the opinions and judgments of the delegates. The newly elected National Assembly, during the few days when the Convention is in session and after the dispersal of the delegates, should seek ways and means to cultivate understanding, facilitate and maintain the exchange of views, deepen confidence, and vindicate by every tangible evidence their one desire to serve and advance the common weal. Not infrequently, nay oftentimes, the most lowly, untutored and inexperienced among the friends will, by the sheer inspiring force of selfless and ardent devotion, contribute a distinct and memorable share to a highly involved discussion in any given Assembly. Great must be the regard paid by those whom the delegates call upon to serve in high position to this all-important though inconspicuous manifestation of the revealing power of sincere and earnest devotion.
The National Spiritual Assembly, however, in view of the unavoidable limitations imposed upon the convening of frequent and long-standing sessions of the Convention, will have to retain in its hands the final decision on all matters that affect the interests of the Cause in America, such as the right to decide whether any local Assembly is functioning in accordance with the principles laid down for the conduct and the advancement of the Cause. It is my earnest prayer that they will utilize their highly responsible position, not only for the wise and efficient conduct of the affairs of the Cause, but also for the extension and deepening of the spirit of cordiality and whole-hearted and mutual support in their co-operation with the body of their co-workers throughout the land. The seating of delegates to the Convention, i. e., the right to decide upon the validity of the credentials of the delegates at a given
Convention is vested in the out-going National Assembly, and the right to decide who has the voting privilege is also ultimately placed in the hands of the National Spiritual Assembly, either when a local Spiritual Assembly is for the first time being formed in a given locality, or when differences arise between a new applicant and an already established local Assembly. While the Convention is in session and the accredited delegates have already elected from among the believers throughout the country the members of the National Spiritual Assembly for the current year, it is of infinite value and a supreme necessity that as far as possible all matters requiring immediate decision should be fully and publicly considered, and an endeavor be made to obtain after mature deliberation, unanimity in vital decisions. Indeed it has ever been the cherished desire of our Master, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, that the friends in their councils, local as well as national, should by their candor, their honesty of purpose, their singleness of mind, and the thoroughness of their discussions, achieve unanimity in all things. Should this in certain cases prove impracticable the verdict of the majority should prevail, to which decision the minority must under all circumstances, gladly, spontaneously and continually, submit.
Nothing short of the all-encompassing, all-pervading power of His Guidance and Love can enable this newly-unfolded order to gather strength and flourish amid the storm and stress of a turbulent age, and in the fullness of time vindicate its high claim to be universally recognized as the one Haven of abiding felicity and peace.
(From letter of January 29, 1925.)
Regarding the very delicate and complex question of ascertaining the qualifications of a true believer, I cannot in this connection emphasize too strongly the supreme necessity for the exercise of the utmost discretion, caution and tact, whether it be in deciding for ourselves as to who may be regarded a true believer or in disclosing to the outside world such considerations as may serve as a basis for such a decision. I would only venture to state very briefly and as adequately as present circumstances permit the principal factors that must be taken into consideration before deciding whether a person may be regarded a true believer or not. Full recognition of the station of the Forerunner, the Author, and the True Exemplar of the Bahá’í Cause as set forth in ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s Testament; unreserved acceptance of, and submission to, whatsoever has been revealed by their Pen; loyal and steadfast adherence to every clause of our Beloved’s sacred Will; and close association with the spirit as well as the form of the present-day Bahá’í administration throughout the world—these, I conceive, to be the fundamental and primary considerations that must be fairly, discreetly and thoughtfuny ascertained before reaching such a vital decision. Any attempt at further analysis and elucidation will, I fear, land us in barren discussions and even grave controversies that would prove not only futile but even detrimental to the best interests of a growing Cause. I would therefore strongly urge those who are called upon to make such a decision to approach this highly involved and ever-recurring problem with the spirit of humble prayer, and earnest consultation, and to refrain from drawing rigidly the line of demarcation except on such occasions when the interests of the Cause absolutely demand it.
In connection with the annual holding of the Bahá’í Convention and Congress, I feel that although such a representative body need not be convened necessarily every year, yet it is highly desirable, in view of the unique functions it fulfills in promoting harmony and good-will, in removing misunderstandings and in enhancing the prestige of the Cause, that the National Spiritual Assembly should exert itself to gather together annually the elected representatives of the American believers. It would in some ways be obviouslv convenient and eminently desirable though not absolutely essential, if the National Spiritual Assembly could
arrange that the holding of such a Congress should synchronize with the time at which the national elections are renewed, and that both events should take place, if not on the first of Ridván, at least during the twelve joyous days of what may be justly regarded as the foremost Bahá’í Festival. Apart from the local elections, which universally are to be renewed on the 21st day of April, it is entirely left to the discretion of the National Spiritual Assembly to decide, after having given due consideration to the above mentioned observations, on whatever time and place the Bahá’í Convention as well as the annual elections are to be held. Were the National Spiritual Assembly to decide, after mature deliberation to omit the holding of the Bahá’í Convention and Congress in a given year, then they could, only in such a case, devise ways and means to insure that the annual election of the National Spiritual Assembly should be held by mail, provided it can be conducted with sufficient thoroughness, efficiency and dispatch. It would also appear to me unobjectionable to enable and even to require in the last resort such delegates as cannot possibly undertake the journey to the seat of the Bahá’í Convention to send their votes, for the election of the National Spiritual Assembly only, by mail to the National Secretary, as in my view the advantages of such a procedure outweigh the considerations referred to in your letter. It should, however, be made clear to every elected delegate — who should be continually reminded—that it is a sacred responsibility and admittedly preferable to attend if possible in person the sessions of the Convention, to take an active part in all its proceedings, and to acquaint his fellow-workers on his return with the accomplishments, the decisions and the aspirations of the assembled representatives of the American believers.
[Note : The complete text of the letters written by Shoghi Effendi to the American Bahá’ís to October, 1927, has been published in the volume Bahá’í Administration. See Bahá’í Bibliography, Part One, in the present work.—Editors.]
“Humanity, through suffering and turmoil, is swiftly moving on towards its destiny; if we be loiterers, if we fail to play our part surely others will be called upon to take up our task as ministers to the crying needs of this afflicted world.”
Entrance to the Garden of Riḍván where Bahá’u’lláh declared His Mission to the world and after twelve days departed for Constanmtinople. These twelve days are observed as a Bahá’í Festival (Riḍván) in commemoration of this event. The beauty of this garden is apparent through its service to humanity—that is, it was a hospital then and two successive governments have used it similarly and it is still a center where bodily ailments are healed.
Dr. J. E. Esslemont
( From Bahá’u’lláh and the New Era )
AMONG different peoples and at different times many different methods have been adopted for the measurement of time and fixing of dates, and several different calendars are still in daily use, e. g., the Gregorian in Western Europe, the Julian in many countries of Eastern Europe, the Hebrew among the Jews, and the Muḥammadan in Muslim countries.
The Báb signalized the importance of the dispensation which He came to herald, by inaugurating a new calendar. In this, as in the Gregorian Calendar, the lunar month is abandoned and the solar year is adopted.
The Bahá’í year consists of 19 months of 19 days each (i. e., 361 days), with the addition of certain “intercalary days” (four in ordinary and five in leap years) between the eighteenth and nineteenth months in order to adjust the calendar to the solar year. The Báb named the months after the attributes of God. The Bahá’í New Year, like the ancient Persian New Year, is astronomically fixed, commenc- ing at the March equinox (March 21st), and the Bahá’í era commences with the year of the Báb’s declaration (i. e., 1844 a. d., 1260 a. h.)
In the not far distant future it will be necessary that all peoples in the world agree on a common calendar.
It seems, therefore, fitting that the new age of unity should have a new calendar free from the objections and associations which make each of the older calendars unacceptable to large sections of the world’s population, and it is difficult to see how any other arrangement could exceed in simplicity and convenience that proposed by the Báb.
The months in the Báb’s Calendar are as follows:
Month Arabic Name Translation First Days
1st Bahá Splendor March 21st
2nd Jalál Glory April 9th
3rd Jamál Beauty April 28th
4th ‘Aẓamat Grandeur May 17th
5th Núr Light June 5th
6th Raḥmat Mercy June 24
7th Kalimát Words July 13th
8th Asmá’ Names August 1st
9th Kamál Perfection August 20th
10th ‘Izzat Might September 8th
11th Mashíyyat Will September 27th
12th ‘Ilm Knowledge October 16th
13th Qudrat Power November 4th
14th Qawl Speech November 23rd
15th Masá’il Questions December 12th
16th Sharaf Honor December 31st
17th Sulṭán Sovereignty January 19th
18th Mulk Dominion February 7th
19th ‘Ulá Loftiness March 2nd
Intercalary Days—Feb. 26th to March 1st, inclusive—
four in ordinary and five in leap years.
Feast of Riḍván (Declaration of Bahá’u’lláh),
April 21-May 2, 1863.
Feast of Nawrúz (New Year), March 21.
Declaration of the Báb, May. 23, 1844.
Fête Day of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, November 26.
Birth of Bahá’u’lláh, November 12, 1817.
Birth of the Báb, October 20, 1819.
Birth of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, May 23, 1844.
Ascension of Bahá’u’lláh, May 28, 1892.
Martyrdom of the Báb, July 9, 1850.
Ascension of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, November 28, 1921.
Fasting season lasts 19 days beginning with the
first day of the month of 'Ulá, March 2—
the feast of Nawrúz follows immediately
View of the riverside of the Garden of Riḍván, Baghdád, ‘Iráq, as seen from the right bank of the Tigris.
View of the riverside of the Garden of Riḍván, Baghdád, ‘Iráq, as seen
from the right bank of the Tigris.
View of the Garden of Riḍván as seen from the left bank of the river.
View of the Garden of Riḍván as seen from the left bank of the river.
The Mashriqu’l-Adhkár-the first Bahá’í House of Worship in America—when completed. Its foundation is already laid at Wilmette, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago. Mr. Louis Bourgeois, Architect.
The Mashriqu’l-Adhkár—the first Bahá’í House of Worship in America —when completed. Its foundation is already laid at Wilmette, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago. Mr. Louis Bourgeois, Architect.
(The “Dawning-Place of the Worship of God”)
Visible Embodiment of the Universality of the Cause of Bahá’u’lláh.
A Compilation of Two Addresses by  ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, an Address by
Major Henry J. Burt, a letter by  C. Mason Remey, preceded
by a Foreword by
  Horace Holley.
MANY discerning minds have testified to the profoundly significant change which has taken place during recent years in the character of popular religious thinking. Religion has developed an entirely new emphasis, more especially for the layman, quite independent of the older sectarian divisions.
Instead of considering that religion is a matter of turning toward an abstract creed, the average religionist today is concerned with the practical applications of religion to the problems of human life. Religion, in brief, after having apparently lost its influence in terms of theology, has been restored more powerfully than ever as a spirit of brotherhood, an impulse toward unity, and an ideal making for a more enlightened civilization throughout the world.
Against this background, the institution of the Mashriqu’l-Adhkár stands revealed as the supreme expression of all those modern religious tendencies animated by social ideals which do not repudiate the reality of spiritual experience but seek to transform it into a dynamic striving for unity. The Mashriqu’l-Adhkár, when clearly understood, gives the world its most potent agency for applying mystical vision or idealistic aspiration to the service of humanity. It makes visible and concrete those deeper meanings and wider possibilities of religion which could not be realized until the dawn of this universal age.
The term “Mashriqu’l-Adhkár” means, literally, “Dawning-place of the worship of God.”
To appreciate the significance of this Bahá’í institution, we must lay aside all customary ideas of the churches and cathedrals of the past. The Mashriqu’l-Adhkár fulfills the original intention of religion in each dispensation, before that intention had become altered and veiled by human invention and belief.
In its completed form, the Mashriqu’l-Adhkár consists of a Temple standing in the center of five accessory buildings, the entire group surrounded by landscaped gardens designed in the pattern of nine which gives the Temple its dominant note.
The Mashriqu’l-Adhkár to be erected on the shore of Lake Michigan in the heart of North America, with its foundation already laid at Wilmette, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago, was designed by Mr. Louis Bourgeois. In the original conception, and throughout the myriad details of the mighty structure, a new inspiration is revealed which suggests an architectural order harmonizing and blending the styles developed separately In the East and in the West. Its sym-
metry and organic form derives from the number nine, the number of fulfillment associated with the term “Bahá.” Thus the Temple has nine doors, nine sides on the first story, and nine facets on the towering dome.
The surfaces both without and within are to carry an intricate scheme of decorative carving in which Mr. Bourgeois has translated into mural art the profound significance of ancient religious symbolism and the cosmic pattern created by the orbits of astronomical bodies sweeping through space. The full story of this architectural glory, pregnant with scientific truth yet at the same time as joyously spontaneous in its total effect as a fruitful tree in the sun, must be told at a later time. The purpose of the present brief sketch is confined to an explanation of the Mashriqu’l-Adhkár as an institution bringing religion nearer than ever before into the structural life of society.
The Mashriqu’l-Adhkár is a channel releasing spiritual powers for social regeneration because it fills a different function than that assumed by the sectarian church. Its essential purpose is to provide a community meeting-place for all who are seeking to worship God, and achieves this purpose by interposing no man-made veils between the worshiper and the Supreme. Thus, the Mashriqu’l-Adhkár is freely open to people of all Faiths on equal terms, expressing in this the universality of Bahá’u’lláh who affirmed the oneness of all the Prophets. Moreover, since the Bahá’í Faith has no professional clergy, the worshiper entering the Temple hears no sermon and takes part in no ritual the psychic effect of which is to establish a separate group consciousness. Not even music-only the reading of the text of the Holy Books will condition the experience of free worship and meditation in this edifice dedicated to the unity of mankind.
Integral with the Temple are its accessory buildings, without which the Mashriqu’l-Adhkár would not be a complete social institution. These buildings are to be devoted to such activities as a school for science, a hospice, a hospital, an asylum for orphans. Here the circle of spiritual experience at last joins, as prayer and worship are allied directly to creative service, eliminating the static subjective elements from religion and laying a foundation for a new and higher type of human association.
The establishment of a Mashriqu’l-Adhkár in the community will effect a permanent revolution in its psychology and collective action. Where religion has sanctioned division and difference, the Bahá’í institution sanctions unity, fellowship, co-operation. Like a healing element, it will remove the physical and mental reasons for religious, racial and class prejudice, and uphold a divine standard of reality embracing every member of the community. What has been true and effective in the life of the churches-the educational effect of noble sermons and the esthetic inspiration of beautiful service-will be restored to the creative arts, sciences and crafts, raising all human action and experience to a higher plane by concentrating the force of religion upon the single function of awakening the soul by the power of the Word of God.
A special significance will always be connected with the first Bahá’í Temple to be erected in America, through the fact that its building fund has received contributions from members of this Faith in all parts of the world. Its spiritual sources, like the roots of a majestic tree, penetrate far outside the local community of Wilmette, outside North America, deriving sustenance from the entire fellowship of the followers of Bahá’u’lláh,—Muslim, Jew, Zoroastrian, Hindu and Buddhist, as well as Christian. An inestimable force of self-sacrificing faith has entered into the Mashriqu’l-Adhkár, flowing into America from Europe, Asia and Africa as if imploring for that day when the America people, as ‘Abdu’l-Bahá so clearly foretold, shall firmly establish the true World Peace.
APRIL 30, 1912
(From The Promulgation of Universal Peace)
AMONG the institutes of the Holy Books is that of the foundation of places of worship. That is to say, an edifice or temple is to be built in order that humanity might find a place of meeting and this is to be conducive to unity and fellowship among them. The real temple is the very Word of God; for to it all humanity must turn and it is the center of unity for all mankind. It is the collective center, the cause of accord and communion of hearts, the sign of the solidarity of the human race, the source of life eternal. Temples are the symbols of the divine uniting force, so that when the people gather there in the House of God they may recall the fact that the law has been revealed for them and that the law is to unite them. They will realize that just as this Temple was founded for the unification of mankind, the law preceding and creating it came forth in the manifest Word.
His Holiness Jesus Christ addressing Peter said, “Thou art Peter and upon this rock I wil1 build my church.” This utterance of His Holiness was indicative of the faith of Peter, signifying: This faith of thine, O Peter! is the very cause and message of unity to the nations; it shall be the bond of union between the hearts of men, and the foundation of the oneness of the world of humanity. In brief, the original purpose of temples and houses of worship is simply that of unity; places of meeting where various people, different races and souls in every capacity may come together in order that love and agreement should be manifest between them. That is why His Holiness Bahá’u’lláh has commanded that a place of worship be built for all the religionists of the world; that all religions, races and sects may come together within its universal shelter; that the proclamation of the oneness of mankind shall go forth from its open courts of holiness; the announcement that humanity is the servant of God and that all are submerged in the ocean of His mercy. It is the Mashriqu’l-Adhkár. The world of existence may be likened to this Temple and place of worship; for just as the external world is a place where the people of all races and colors, varying faiths, denominations and conditions come together—just as they are submerged in the same sea of divine favors, so likewise all may meet under the dome of the Mashriqu’l-Adhkár and adore the one God in the same spirit of truth; for the ages of darkness have passed away and the century of light has come. Ignorant prejudices are being dispelled and the light of unity is shining. The differences existing between nations and peoples wil1 soon be annulled and the fundamentals of the divine religions which are no other than the oneness and solidarity of the human race are being established.
For thousands of years the human race has been at war. It is enough. Now let mankind for a time at least, consort in amity and peace. Enmity and hatred have ruled. Let the world for a period, exercise love. For thousands of years the nations have denied each other, considering each other as infidel and inferior. It is sufficient. We must now realize that we are the servants of one God, that we turn to one beneficent Father, live under one divine law, seek one reality, and have one desire. Thus may we live in the utmost friendship and love, and in return the favors and bounties of God shall surround us, the world of humanity will be reformed, mankind enjoy new life. eternal light will illumine and heavenly moralities become manifest.
Then divine policy shall govern the world; for the divine policy is the oneness of humanity. God is just and kind to all. He considers all as His servants. He excludes none and His judgments are correct and true. No matter how complete human policy and foresight may appear, it is imperfect. If we do not seek the counsel of God or if we refuse to follow His dictates it is presumptive evidence that we are knowing and wise whereas God is ignorant; that we are sagacious and God is not. God forbid ! We seek shelter in His mercy for this suggestion! No matter how far the human intelligence may advance, it is still but a drop while Divine Omniscience is the ocean. Shall we say that a drop is imbued or endowed with qualities of which the ocean is devoid? Shall we believe that the policy and plan of this atom of a human soul are superior to the wisdom of the Omniscient? There is no greater ignorance than this. Briefly: some are mere children ; with the utmost love we must educate them to make them wise. Others are sick and ailing; we must tenderly treat them until they recover. Some have unworthy morals; we must train them toward the standard of true morality. Other than this we are all the servants of one God and under the providence and protection of one Father.
These are the institutions of God and the foundations of His Temple the Mashriqu’l-Adhkár. The outer edifice is a symbol of the inner. May the people be admonished thereby !
I pray in your behalf that your hearts may be enlightened with the light of the love of God; that your minds may develop daily; that your spirits may become aglow with the fire and illumination of His Glad-tidings, until these divine foundations may become established throughout the human world. The first of these institutions and foundations is the oneness of humanity and love among mankind. The second is the “Most Great Peace.” Praise be to God! this American democ- racy manifests capacity, showing forth readiness to become the standard-bearer of the “Most Great Peace.” May its hosts be the hosts of the oneness of humanity. May they serve the threshold of God and spread the message of the good-pleasure of God.
O thou kind Lord! This gathering is turning to Thee. These hearts are radiant with Thy love. These minds and spirits are exhilarated by the message of Thy Glad-tidings. O God! Let this American democracy become glorious in spiritual degrees even as it has aspired to material degrees, and render this just government victorious. Confirm this revered nation to upraise the standard of the oneness of humanity, to promulgate the “Most Great Peace,” to become thereby most glorious and praiseworthy among all the nations of the world. O God! This American nation is worthy of Thy favors and is deserving of Thy mercy. Make it precious and near to Thee through Thy bounty and bestowal.
From an Address by Major Henry J. Burt, the Engineer of the
Temple, given before the Wilmette Chapter of the American
Association of Engineers, November 2,1922.
THE Temple in Wilmette will be a beauiful building. It will be rich in decoraion consistently carried out. Its color will be nearly white, which is appropriate for structure of this monumental character. The Temple is being built from plans made by Mr. Louis Bourgeois, an architect of many years’ experience and great artistic ability. The design was selected in a competition among a number of
architects, held in New York City in 1919. All of the competitors were of the Bahá’í Faith, and thus had the inspiration and enthusiasm of their religious belief to aid them in their efforts. In presenting his design Mr. Bourgeois submitted a model of the building which he had molded and carved largely with his own hands—a most painstaking and tedious work. This model was sent to Chicago and exhibited at the Art Institute in May, 1921. As soon as a suitable place is available at the Temple it will be reassembled there. This model was so carefully made that it was closely followed in making full size detail drawings.
The location of the building is in the southeast section of Wilmette. On the east and northeast is Sheridan Road, with an unobstructed outlook upon Lake Michigan. Northeasterly the view is across the Wilmette Harbor and the Lake Front Park of Wilmette. To the west and north-west the property is bounded by the Drainage Channel and across the channel is the park area which was recently contributed to the Wilmette Park Board. By these surroundings the Temple is protected against the encroachment of other buildings on all sides save the south and as this will probably be residence property permanently, there will not be any serious interference. In all other directions no buildings are likely to be erected within a distance of one thousand feet. For the most part the ground is about twenty-five feet above the lake level. There will be a terraced approach to form the base of the Temple. From this terrace steps will lead up to the main floor, nine feet higher.
The portion of the structure which is now inclosed is the basement. The top of the present construction is the first floor level. The top of the terrace will be at the top of the outside wall and the sloping surface from this wall inward is the base for the steps that will encircle the superstructure.
The superstructure, for convenience of description, can be divided into three sections. The first section extends from the main floor to the first gallery, the second section from the first gallery to the second gallery and the third section from the second gallery to the top of the dome.
At each of the balcony levels there are large windows, partially screened by tracery, which would give ample light in daytime and which will stand out in great brilliance when the structure is lighted at night.
The extreme height of the structure from the first floor to the pinnacle of the dome is 161 feet.
The height of the first gallery above the main floor is 36 feet and the distance from the first gallery to the second gallery is 45 feet.
The distance from the second gallery to the base of the dome is 19 feet.
The height of the dome proper, leaving out of account the projecting ribs, is 49 feet.
The minarets guarding the first story of the structure rise to a height of 45 feet above the first floor.
The extreme diameter of the basement is 202 feet.
The diameter at the top of the steps is 152 feet.
The central portion of the building is a single space extending from the main floor up to the inner shell of the dome. Around this are nine rooms extending to the outer wall of the first section. One of these rooms or spaces is assigned to stairway. The others are for use as enclosed rooms. In the basement the central portion is a single room with a domed ceiling having a height of approximately 25 feet from the floor to the crown. Outside of this central area, the space can be divided according to the uses to be made of it and this has not been quite fully developed. In general, however, the space under the steps will be used for the installation of the mechanical apparatus such as the electrical switch board room, and heating
coils and fans for the heating and ventilation system, for plumbing and temporarily for heating plant. The remainder of the space under the steps will be suitable for storage. It is the intention of the architect to preserve in this space all of the models which are required for molding the exterior of the building. The remainder of the basement space will be subdivided for such uses as may be required.
There are a number of interesting structural features in connection with this building. The designer, in attacking a structure of this kind, usually begins at the top and works downward. The crowning feature of the building is, of course, the dome. The masonry of this dome is to be perforated for the purpose of admitting light from the outside during the daytime and for the purpose of throwing out light at night. The masonry is, therefore, only a screen or tracery and not a roof. The area of the perforations is about thirty per cent of the area of the surface. While this masonry could be made self-supporting, it was not considered expedient to do so, so it is supported by a steel framework. This framework consists of a series of ribs, spaced about nine feet apart at the base and coming together at the top with a suitable bracing between the ribs.
This metal skeleton then forms the base for the masonry screen above it. The roof will be made of glass inside of and entirely free from the masonry dome. This will be a difficult piece of work to construct on account of its shape. It will have to be a wire glass set in metal frames. Some of the frames need to be hinged so that they can be opened for ventilation and for cleaning, more particularly for the latter purpose. Lower down comes the inner dome or ceiling. This has an independent steel framework made of arched ribs with the bracing between, similar to the framework of the outer dome. This will support the inner envelope of glass. This inner glass may be in the form of mosaics or ornament. The weight of the dome is supported at nine points. At each of these points is a group of four columns extending from the base of the dome down to the foundations.
Following the structure downward, these columns gradually accumulate the weight of the dome and the floors until in the lowest section they carry a very considerable burden amounting to about one and one-half million pounds at each of the nine points.
In order to have a big central space in the basement, 72 feet in diameter, the ceiling and floor above had to be supported without the use of interior columns. To provide this support it was decided to use a reinforced concrete dome. As the dome is perfectly regular in its outline and uniformly loaded, it was not particularly difficult to design nor was it extremely difficult to construct although the construction offered some difficulties. The shell of the dome is 12 inches thick. It is reinforced with two layers of steel rods, one near the top and one near the bottom. Each of these layers is made up of rods in radial position and others in circumferential position. For its final support, this dome rests on the concrete encasements of the steel columns.
In general the framework of the structure is of reinforced concrete except the supports of the dome, which are structural steel. The structural steel consists principally of the nine groups of four columns each which extend from the basement level to the springing line of the dome and the structural steel dome framing. There are some odd members of structural steel in the first story and, of course, there is structural steel bracing between the columns. The framing of the first story outside of the dome section is of reinforced concrete as is all of the first floor framing and all of the columns other than the main columns just described.
The foundation problem is a somewhat intricate one. There are heavy loads at the nine points which support the main dome. At the other points the loads are comparatively light, carrying as they do
only one floor and a roof together with walls. As a matter of sentiment as well as a matter of safety, it was desired to have the dome supported from bedrock. On this basis the foundations for the dome consist of nine piers extending to rock at a depth of 120 feet below the ground level.
The contract for the basement section, including the pile foundations, was let in August, 1921, to be completed about January 1st, 1922. The basement section has just been completed and, as winter is again at hand, no effort will be made to go ahead with the superstructure until spring.
MAY, 1912.
(From The Promulgation of Universal Peace)
THE power which has gathered you here today notwithstanding the cold and windy weather is indeed mighty and wonderful. It is the power of God, the divine favor of Bahá’u’lláh which has drawn you together. We praise God that through His constraining love human souls are assembled and associated in this way.
Thousands of Mashriqu’l-Adhkár, dawning-points of praise and mentionings of God for all religionists, will be built in the Orient and Occident, but this being the first one erected in the Occident has great importance. In the future there will be many here and elsewhere; in Asia, Europe, even in Africa, New Zealand and Australia; but this edifice in Chicago is of especial significance. It has the same importance as the Mashriqu’l-Adhkár in ‘Ishqábád, Caucasus, Russia, the first one built there. In Persia there are many; some are houses which have been utilized for the purpose, others are homes entirely devoted to the Divine Cause, and in some places temporary structures have been erected.
In all the cities of Persia there are Mashriqu’l-Adhkárs, but the great “dawning-point” was founded in ‘Ishqábád. It possesses superlative importance because it was the first Mashriqu’l-Adhkár built. All the Bahá’í friends agreed and contributed their utmost assistance and effort. His holiness, the Afnán, devoted his wealth, gave all he had to it. From such a mighty and combined effort a beautiful edifice arose. Notwithstanding their contributions to that building, they have assisted the fund here in Chicago as well. The Mashriqu’l-Adhkár in ‘Ishqábád is almost completed. It is centrally located; nine avenues leading into it, nine gardens, nine fountains; all the arrangement and construction is according to the principle and proportion of the number nine. It is like a beautiful bouquet. Imagine a very lofty, imposing edifice surrounded completely by gardens of variegated flowers, with nine avenues leading through them, nine fountains and pools of water. Such is its matchless, beautiful design. Now they are building a hospital, a school for orphans, a home for cripples, a hospice and a large dispensary. God willing when it is fully completed it will be a paradise.
I hope the Mashriqu’l-Adhkár in Chicago will be like this. Endeavor to have the grounds circular in shape. If possible adjust and exchange the plots in order to make the dimensions and boundaries circular. The Mashriqu’l-Adhkár could not be triangular in shape. It must be in the form of a circle.
‘Abdu’l-Bahá on the Mashriqu’l-Adhkár Grounds, May 1, 1912, a few moments before placing stone at center of the site. This dedication, through the personal visit and presence of the Center of the Covenant, makes the first Bahá’í House of Worship in America unique among the Temples of the world.
Excerpts from letter written by Charles Mason Remey, addressed to the House
of Spirituality of Bahá’ís of Chicago, dated Washington, D . C.,
October 12, 1908.
BROTHERS in the service of Abhá:
As you have arisen for the construction of the first Mashriqu’l-Adhkár in America, and, as I have recently visited ‘Ishqábád and seen there the great Mashriqu’l-Adhkár of the East, of which we in the West have heard so much, I take it upon myself to write to you a description of this Edifice, hoping to share with you the great blessing of meeting with the friends in those parts and of beholding this Temple which is a testimony of their sacrifice and unity.
As you know, ‘Ishqábád is in Russia, Turkistan, just north of the Elburz Mountains, which separate the desert plain of western Turkistan, on the north, from Persia on the south. The city itself lies on the plain a short distance from the mountains, which here are very rugged and rocky. The town is quite modern in aspect, being laid off with gardens and broad streets, which meet at right angles. Rows of trees along the sidewalks remind one of a Western city, while the buildings and the waterways, which flank the streets and are fed with water coming from the nearby mountains, are strikingly Oriental.
I could hardly believe that this city had sprung up almost entirely during the past half-century. It was but a huddle of mud huts, when Bahá’u’lláh first directed some of His followers to settle there. Now this is replaced by a large and prosperous city of buildings of brick and stone.
The Mashriqu’l-Adhkár stands in the center of the city, surrounded by a large garden, which is bounded by four streets. It rises high above the surrounding buildings and trees, its dome being visible for miles as the traveler approaches the city over the plain. The building in plan is a regular polygon of nine sides. One large doorway and portico, flanked by turrets, facing the direction of the Holy City (‘Akká), forms the principal motive of the façade, while the dome dominates the whole composition.
The walls of the Temple are of brick covered with a firm and hard stucco, which in that climate resists quite well the action of the elements, while the floors are concrete supported by iron or steel beams.
In plan the building is composed of three sections: the central rotunda, the aisle or ambulatory which surrounds it, and the loggia which surrounds the entire building.
The interior of the rotunda is five stories in height. The first or main floor story consists of nine arches, supported by piers, which separate the ambulatory from the rotunda proper. The second story consists of a similar treatment of arches and piers and balustrades, which separate the triforium gallery—which is directly above the ambulatory—from the well of the rotunda. The third story is decorated with nine flank arcades, between which is a shield upon which is inscribed in Persian characters, “Yá-Bahá’u’l-Abhá.” The fourth story contains nine large windows, while the wall of the fifth story, which is not as high as the others, is pierced by eighteen bull’s-eye windows.
Above, there is the dome which is hemispherical in shape. The rotunda from the floor to the top of the dome is elaborately decorated with fret work and other designs, all in relief . . . .
The main portico of the Temple is two stories in the clear, while the loggias, which surround the building, are on two floors, the lower being on the main floor level, while the upper one is on the level of the triforium gallery. This upper loggia is reached by two staircases, one to the right and one to the left of the main entrance, and the gallery is entered from the loggia.
On the main floor the principal entrance is through the large doorway, but there are also several inner doors, which connect the ambulatory with the loggia. An abundance of light is admitted through the windows in the upper part of the rotunda, as well as through the windows of the upper gallery and ambulatory, which open upon the loggias.
The Persian style of architecture has been used in treating the details and decorations of the buildings . . ..
From what I saw and heard in ‘Ishqábád, I found that those believers who superintended the building of the Temple were competent business men and that, although they had undertaken a large enterprise, every possible economy was made, yet at the same time no expense seemed to be spared when necessary for the beauty and solidity of the building.
Nine avenues of approach lead to the Temple. The main avenue of the nine, leading to the entrance portico, will be entered from the street by a monumental gateway. Last July they were completing the plans for this principal gateway to the grounds.
At the four corners of the garden are four buildings. One is a school. One is a house, where traveling Bahá’ís are entertained. One is to be used as a hospital, and the other is for workmen, storage, etc. Much of the property in the immediate vicinity of this enclosure belongs to Bahá’ís, so the Mashriqu’l-Adhkár is the center of the community materially, as well as spiritually.
That which impressed me more than all else, as I stood before this Mashriqu’l-Adhkár, was the fact that the Bahá’ís of the East had all worked with one accord and had given freely toward its erection . . . .
Faithfully, your brother in the service of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá,
C. Mason Remey.
The resting-place of two outstanding Bahá’ís, representative of East and West, in the Bahá’í Cemetery at the foot of Mt. Carmel. (Back) The Tomb of Ḥájí Mírzá Vakílu’d-Dawlih, Cousin of the Báb and chief builder of the Mashriqu’l-Adhkár of ‘Ishqábád. (Front) The Tomb of Dr. J. E. Esslemont, noted Bahá’í author and teacher.
The resting-place of two outstanding Bahá’ís, representative of East and West, in the Bahá’í Cemetery at the foot of Mt. Carmel. (Back) The Tomb of Ḥájí Mírzá Vakílu’d-Dawlih, Cousin of the Báb and chief builder of the Mashriqu’l-Adhkár of ‘Ishqábád. (Front) The Tomb of Dr. J. E. Esslemont, noted Bahá’í author and teacher.
Bird’s-eye view of Haifa from the slopes of Mt. Carmel looking across the Bay of ‘Akká. The roof of the Holy Shrine—Tomb of the Báb and ‘Abdu’l-Bahá—is seen immediately behind the clump of tall cypress trees. The gardens in the foreground are part of the beautiful setting surrounding this Sacred Spot.
Alaine Locke, A. B., Ph. D.
WHETHER Bahá’í or non-Bahá’í, Haifa makes pilgrims of all who visit her. The place itself makes mystics of us all, for it shuts out the world of materiality with its own characteristic atmosphere and one instantly feels one’s self in a simple and restful cloistral calm. But it is not the characteristic calm of the monastic cloister; it is not so much a shutting out of the world as an opening up of new vistas. I cannot describe it except to say that its influence lacks the mustiness of ascetism, and blends the joy and naturalness of a nature-cult with the ethical seriousness and purpose of a spiritual religion.
Every thing seems to share the custody of the Message—the place itself is a physical revelation. I shall never forget my first view of it from the terraces of the shrine. Mount Carmel, already casting shadows, was like a dark green curtain behind us and opposite was a gorgeous crescent of hills so glowing with color—gold, sapphire, amethyst as the sunset colors changed—and in between the mottled emerald of the sea, and the gray-toned house-roofs of Haifa. Almost immediately opposite and picking up the sun’s reflection like polished metal were the ramparts of ‘Akká, transformed for a few moments from its shabby decay into a citadel of light and beauty. Most shrines concentrate the view upon themselves—this one turns itself into a panorama of inspiring loveliness. It is a fine symbol for a Faith that wishes to reconcile the supernatural with the natural, beauty and joy with morality. It is an ideal place for the reconciliation of things that have been artificially and wrongfully put asunder.
The shrine chambers of the Báb and ‘Abdu’l-Bahá are both impressive, but in a unique and almost modern way : richly carpeted, but with austerely undecorated walls and ceilings, and flooded with light, the ante-chambers are simply the means of taking away the melancholy and gruesomeness of death and substituting for them the thought of memory, responsibility and reverence. Through the curtained doorways, the tomb-chambers brilliantly lighted create an illusion which defeats even the realization that one is in the presence of a sepulchre. Here without mysticism and supernaturalness, there is dramatically evoked that lesson of the Easter visitation of the tomb, the fine meaning of which Christianity has in such large measure forgotten, “He is not here, He is risen.” That is to say, one is strangely convinced that the death of the greatest teachers is the release of their spirit in the world, and the responsible legacy of their example bequeathed to posterity. Moral ideas find their immortality through the death of their founders.
It was a privilege to see and experience these things. But it was still more of a privilege to stand there with the Guardian of the Cause, and to feel that, accessible and inspiring as it was to all who can come and will come, there was available there for him a constant source of inspiration and vision from which to draw, in the accomplishment of his heavy burdens and responsibilities. That thought of communion with ideas and ideals without
Looking up the slope of Mt. Carmel. The Holy Tomb of the Báb and ‘Abdu’l-Bahá is seen behind the large white building in center.
Looking up the slope of Mt. Carmel. The Holy Tomb of the Báb and ‘Abdu’l-Bahá is seen behind the large white building in center.
Another view of the Sacred Shrine as seen from the main street of Haifa leading up to the terraces below the Tomb.
Another view of the Sacred Shrine as seen from the main street of Haifa leading up to the terraces below the Tomb.
the mediation of symbols, seemed to me the most reassuring and novel feature. For after all the only enlightened symbol of a religious or moral principle is the figure of a personality endowed to perfection with its qualities and necessary attributes. Earnestly renewing this inheritance seemed the constant concern of this gifted personality, and the quiet but insistent lesson of his temperament.
Refreshingly human after this intense experience, was the relaxation of our walk and talk in the gardens. Here the evidences of love, devotion and service were as concrete and as practical and as human as inside the shrines they had been mystical and abstract and super-human. Shoghi Effendi is a master of detail as well as of principle, of executive foresight as well as of projective vision. But I have never heard details so redeemed of their natural triviality as when talking to him of the plans for the beautifying and laying out of the terraces and gardens. They were important because they all were meant to dramatize the emotion of the place and quicken the soul even through the senses. It was night in the quick twilight of the East before we had finished the details of inspecting the gardens, and then by the lantern light, the faithful gardener showed us to the austere retreat of the great Expounder of the teaching. It taught me with what purely simple and meager elements a master workman works. It is after all in Himself that He finds His message and it is Himself that He gives with it to the world.
The household is an industrious beehive of the great work: splendid division of labor but with all-pervading unity of heart. Never have I seen the necessary subordinations of organized service so full of a sense of dignity and essential equality as here. I thought that in the spirit of such devoted co-operation and cheerful self-subordination there was the potential solution of those great problems of class and caste which today so affect society. Labor is dignified through the consciousness of its place and worth to the social scheme, and no Bahá’í worker, however humble, seems unconscious of the dignity and meaning of the whole plan.
Then there was the visit to the Bahjí, the garden-spot of the Faith itself; and to ‘Akká, now a triumphant prison-shell that to me gave quite the impression one gets from the burst cocoon of the butterfly. Vivid as the realization of cruelty and hardships might be, there was always the triumphant realization here that opposite on the heights of Carmel was enshrined the victory that had survived and conquered and now was irrepressible. The Bahjí was truly Oriental, as characteristically so as Mt. Carmel had been Cosmopolitan. Here was the Eastern vision, full of its mysticism, its poetry, its spirituality. Not only was sombreness lacking, but even seriousness seemed converted into poetry. Surely the cure for the ills of Western materialism is here, waiting some more psychological moment for its spread—for its destined mission of uniting in a common mood Western and Oriental minds.
There is a New Light in the world: there must needs come a New Day.
View of the Holy Tomb of Bahá’u’lláh and Mansion of Bahjí through the trees under which He used to walk.
View of the Holy Tomb of Bahá’u’lláh and Mansion of Bahjí through the trees under which He used to walk.
Barracks at ‘Akká, Palestine, where Bahá’u’lláh was incarcerated in 1868.
Barracks at ‘Akká, Palestine, where Bahá’u’lláh was incarcerated in 1868.
Excerpts from the Diary of
Keith Ransom-Kehler
(From Star of the West)
SHIMMERING in the moonlight on a far horizon lie the lights of Haifa. It appears from here like some mysterious floating island that the transported mariner might pursue forever. It is impossible to see at night its attachment to the permanence of Mount Carmel, that rises there out of the sea like the earth’s backbone, insulating the spinal chord of history. The mighty Prophets passed over it like the nerve currents of humanity, quickening those portions whereunto they were directed. Tomorrow I shall climb that mountain to the Shrine of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, another symbol of man’s pilgrimage upward—“not to a tomb ever, but to a meeting-place with the spirit of Divine Beauty for transfiguration.”
Haifa! Five hundred passengers leave the Adriatic here. As I step from the tender with the rest of the throng a cordial voice cries, “Welcome, Mrs. Ransom-Kehler. I am so glad to see you.” In all that mass of humanity Fugeta, who had never seen me before, or my photograph, distinguished the Bahá’í pilgrims.
When ‘Abdu’l-Bahá came to America, H. S. Fugeta was a medical student at the University of Michigan. Like his famous forerunner who was short of stature, he climbed a sycamore tree to see the Master pass by. “Come down, Zachias, for this day I would sup with thee,” called the flute-like voice of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, and Fugeta relinquishing every human tie followed Him back to Mount Carmel to become a helper in the household.
I am greeted first by Fugeta, a child of Nippon, then by Isfendiar from the cradle of the race, and next by Effie Baker, fair, cameo-like, the first person in Australia to embrace this all-inclusive message. On, on, the irresistible tide of fellowship and good-will is carrying the soul of humanity to a new altitude of love, abnegation and service. Effie, with a self-effacement that only the love of God could give, reflects the spirit of the Holy Family in her work at the Pilgrim House. She comes out to embrace me with unaffected cordiality and to knit still closer those intangible bonds that will hold me to this sacred spot forever.
Lady Julian, the Anchoress of Norwich, has given such a stirring account of the curious vision under which she seemed to encounter reality! As I remember it, indistinctly, the universe lay in her hand like a small hazelnut and the overwhelming sense of the presence of God assured her: God loves it; God keeps it. . . . Of course it's ridiculous to say that God inheres in localities; let me put it conversely and say that it is unthinkable to me that any spiritually awakened soul could step on to the plain of ‘Akká without being acutely aware of that intensified exaltation and reverence that I always think of as constituting the “fear of God.” Ever since I had learned that ‘Akká fulfilled the Bible prophecy and become a door of hope for the nations, I had lived for the moment that would initiate me into its mystery.
It is like throwing flowers in the fire to attempt to describe the pilgrimage to
Bahjí (the home of Bahá’u’lláh) or to the Garden of the Ridván connected with it. The pilgrim house at Bahjí is primitive and unforgetable. Opening on a small court-yard with a vivid patch of grass, one graceful lemon tree full of pale fruit, the stable to one side, the kitchen to the other, the doors wide and deep, is the room where we sit at breakfast; and the birds seem to prefer this big room to high heaven, for they are incessantly darting in and out. Horses are evidently too valuable to be put in stables with outside openings. So Soheil Effendi must ride his Arabian stallion through the dining-room each morning to the grassy plain! ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s white donkey and her foal continue the procession. Then breakfast : Yad’u’lláh, the care-taker of the house presiding at his shining samovar, everyone having hot tea, olives cured in oil, goat’s milk cheese, the flat cakes of bread split and toasted, Syrian honey, and for the Occidentals, oranges picked as needed in this vicinity.
Venus is the evening star. I sit solitary on the steps of the quaint old pilgrim house, entranced with her magical beauty: in this latitude and through this atmosphere she is bright enough to cast a shadow and light seems incessantly to brim up and overflow the beaker of her brilliance. The minarets of ‘Akká pierce a rose and saffron sky; the Mediterranean is still a precious blue. Twilight encroaches; the silence is vaster than any sound; something at the base of one’s soul stirs like an unsuspected Titan, buried for centuries beneath mountains of artificiality and compromise—the eternal quest, the divine adventure, the incessant surge of the soul toward something too magnificent for comprehension, too ecstatic for words. Suddenly, with a crash, the dome of silence is shattered by the uncanny laugh of the jackals. Elisha must have heard them here, and the priests of Baal whose prayers were no more effective than this call of wild beasts. Their sudden silence seems to leave a vacuum. A few vagrant stars appear, and silhouetted against the sky the camel caravans move slowly up the coast to Tyre. Now the shepherds on two distant hills start piping to their flocks, a plaintive, poignant testimony, like all Oriental music, to the ineffable home-sickness of the soul. The moon swims up, pale to virginity; no such robust moon as we know in the early evening. Then, and as from the portal of paradise a mystical beautiful chant arises. It is the voice of a woman, broken with sobs, tragic with longing, rich in praise; and as I listen to her heart-breaking, exalting song, it seems to me that it is rising from the lips of every woman in the world: the essence and epitome of all that ever loved and suffered. It is Laila, the cook, who in her humility has not even entered the Shrine, but is kneeling on the garden path outside. Surely in her reverence, her obedience, her lowliness, her longing, she carries up to God, in that beatific wail, something of the desire of our tortured hearts to reach Him. The wide beds of stock begin to loose their fragrance with the coming up of night, mingling with rose and jasmine. Laila passes me alert and smiling, restored completely by her abandonment to the Spirit. This is a sleight-of-hand which men seldom experience.
What soul is ample enough to house both Love and Wisdom? Love a prodigal expenditure of Life’s mysterious energy: Wisdom a discriminating choice of Life’s subtlest values. Just as some creatures are born to burrow underground and others to sing a kindred soul out to the face of the sun, so some beings are predestined by an alchemical pinch of heavenly leaven to this unconquerable yearning that knows no rest so long as one unloving thing is left on earth. It was for this indeed that Bahá’u’lláh released into this world such a rapture that those who have caught but one drop of His Elixir find the universe shrunk to a point too narrow for their wide yearning.
These are the thoughts that shake one as he wanders over the flower-decked
The Mansion of Bahjí. In this building, on the outskirts of ‘Akká, are the apartments His Holiness Bahá’u’lláh last occupied.
The Mansion of Bahjí. In this building, on the outskirts of ‘Akká, are the apartments His Holiness Bahá’u’lláh last occupied.
plains of ‘Akká—to woo the world into the knowledge and love of God—not a gloomy, half-hearted, wistful relationship, but a joy and a glory beyond our brief capacity, which constitutes that endless pursuit by the soul of a Love that never faints, a Beauty that never fades, a Truth that never fails.
The great problem is how to teach the wayward, burning, insatiable heart its discipline and abnegation without changing its quality. To borrow a crude figure from science the question is how to change it from one of those highly unstable elements that is ever seeking com- bination, into a catalyzer, when it has reached this high calling of divine love, that changes those things that come into its presence without itself suffering change.
“It may be when my heart is dull
Having attained its girth
I shall not find so beautiful
The meagre shapes of earth.”
But that abundant life to which the great Prophets call us inheres in the idea that the heart can mature and at the same time never lose its response to life's infinite variety.
The sister and wife and daughters of 'Abdu'l-Bahi are like this—divine catalyzers, as it were. They do not preach to you nor attempt to reform you, but by coming into their presence you—became something; something a little nobler, a little worthier than you had been before. Bahíyyih Khánum, the sister of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, has, from the age of five, lived through experiences and calamities the like of which no Occidental woman could faintly imagine. Exquisite, fragrant, imperturbable, assured, she walks among the fluctuating conditions of the world like a star through its appointed course in the heavens. After one has been stirred by the presence of women like the sister and the wife of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, our curious little evidences of “firmness” are practically meaningless. That self-congratulatory state of the Occidental when he has performed some little service for his Cause is unknown in Haifa. “Leave faith to the faithful and faithlessness to the infidel; one drop of pain in Thy Love is enough for the heart.” Until the heart be eternally bruised by this sweet wound of love we may never hope to shed fragrance, such as these great women shed, about us. Day and night the daughters of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, without stint and without rest, are building up through their deeds of continual kindness those solid barricades against the forces of ignorance, prejudice and malevolence; those outposts of service, love and peace that mark the boundaries of another world. We see in these six women a faith that never waivers, a gift that never varies, a love that never tires—celestial caryatides, it might be, bearing on their heads the structure of the new civilization.
The unique and outstanding figure in the world today is Shoghi Effendi. Unique, because the guardianship of this great Cause is in his hands, and his humility, modesty, economy and self-effacement are monumental. Outstanding because he is the only person, we may safely say, who entrusted with the affairs of millions of souls, has but one thought and one mind—the speedy promulgation of peace and good-will throughout the world. His personal life is absolutely and definitely sacrificed. The poorest boy in America struggling for an education would consider himself hardly used to have no more than those bare necessities which this young man voluntarily chooses for himself. The ladies of the household typify the Cause as Love and Faith. Shoghi Effendi adds to this the elan of the New Day, Action and Progress.
So to comprehend and administer all the relationships in a huge organization that only satisfaction and illumination resuit; never to see anything smaller than the world-wide import of all our movements, no matter how parochial; to clarify with a word the most obscure situations; to release in countless souls the tides of
energy that will sweep the cargoes of these glad-tidings round the world; to remain without one moment's cessation so poised in God as to be completely naturalized into His attributes—these are some of the characteristics that make of Shoghi Effendi the unique and outstanding figure of our time. And this without reference to his surpassing mental capacities that mark this spiritually superb person as a penetrating thinker and brilliant executive. The world, its politics, social relationships, economic situations, schemes, plans, aspirations, programs, defeats, successes, lie under his scrutiny like infusoria beneath a microscope.
Infusoria share with men the dramatic fact that sensory devices and motor devices occur side by side in living things; which means if we don’t like the kind of world we’re living in we can, through the divine reinforcements that Bahá’u’lláh has dispatched to us in this gifted century, make an entirely different world of it, sane, joyous and noble. Shoghi Effendi is the Commander-in-chief of this great new army of faith and strength that is moving forth to vanquish the malevolent forces of life.
Tomorrow is the day of parting. For weeks I have looked forward with a kind of hollow sickness to this moment, wondering what device God might use in order to give me the strength to say goodbye. The moment is here and with it, ecstatic happiness! Through a quiet miracle the situation was saved by that radiant being, lent us from heaven, the Master’s wife (Munírih Khánum). “You should be very happy,” she said, her lovely face aglow with sincerity, “for you have the opportunity to go out into the world and give to others these glad-tidings of the Kingdom of God.” Then a great peace poured into my soul.
It had seemed to me on leaving America that I came to Haifa as a blank page ready to be written upon with the language of the spirit. But one conversation with Shoghi Effendi, casual, impersonal, over the luncheon table, showed me that I was a mountain of dogmas, preconceptions, inflexibilities, and nonsense: In the nine weeks at Haifa, however, the predispositions of a lifetime vanished! I had always had vaulting spiritual ambitions ! I had wanted to see and to know what Frances, Catherine, Theresa saw and knew. But when I knelt in prayer before the Shrine of Bahá’u’lláh, I hadn’t the smallest concern in this earth whether I ever knew anything or saw anything beyond the burning fact that God has kept His Covenant with Us, and that only as human beings grasp this conception and seize this unparalleled opportunity can we enter into the fullness of His Promises. For the first time in my life I was empty—and at peace.
IT IS Ramadan, the month of fasting. From the moment when it is light enough to distinguish a black thread from a white one, the Muslim must abstain from food until the sun has set. A gun booms from the Mosque announcing the official departure of the orb of day.
How gratifying it is to the human heart to be able to find those substitutes for self-effacement and sacrifice, which are the primal command of every great religious Teacher. To repeat set prayers, to fast, to give alms, to wear sack-cloth and tonsure—how man delights to offer these external evidences of devotion while retaining all the scheming privacies of the heart.
Muḥammadan nations follow the lunar calendar, so that there is a continual rotation of anniversaries. (For instance, the martyrdom of the Bab which we always commemorate on the ninth of July, is commemorated in Haifa this year on March thirteenth.) Thus the fast month is continually changing for the Muslim. If it fall in winter, it is not so difficult.
but coming in summer when the sun sets late and rises early it works a real hardship on the devout.
All the year through the Muḥammadans must pray five times a day, and wash before each of these required periods for the commemoration of God. The Prophet advises those sojourning in the desert where water is inaccessible, to wash with sand. The skin can be quite thoroughly cleansed in this way.
Nothing could be more embarrassing to the average Occidental than to be seen praying; except in the cold and meaningless conformity of the average public meeting. To fling himself on his knees, lift his hands to heaven, bend prostrate on his face before any and every passer-by, is incompatible with our egotism and our self-consciousness. Our approach to the Almighty must, whatever its ardor or intensity, be well within the confines of good-form. But the Arab, unconstrained and naif in his appeal to God, kneels by the road-side.
It is interesting to note the reason that we so often see the Arabs at prayer at this particular spot. One of the awful horrors that greeted the family of Bahá’u’lláh when they arrived in ‘Akká was the evidences of strange and disfiguring diseases on all sides. It was said that “a bird could not fly over ‘Akká and live”—so foul was the water, so stagnant the marshes, so prevalent malaria, so damp and hot the atmosphere, so primitive the sanitation.
We see enacted again and again in the drama of life the same recurring episode: a Being arises who utters the Call of the Kingdom of God, and releases in the potency of His Word that irresistible might that draws man back to his spiritual origin. Not only with no prestige (often forcibly shorn of it), no human assist- ance, but against the malicious opposition of organized society, He establishes His authority and revivifies the dead hearts of men.
So when Bahá’u’lláh came to ‘Akká as a prisoner, it was a shift on the part of His persecutors to do away with Him and His followers without actual physical execution. Those in authority had been warned against Him as a most dangerous heretic and traitor; for church and state being one, any act of infidelity to Islám is not only heretical but a political crime as well.
Now behold one of those mysterious miracles that follows in the path of these mighty Beings! In a short time the Governor of ‘Akká is seeking to know what favor he can do for Bahá’u’lláh! “Repair the old Roman aqueduct, and bring an abundant supply of clear fresh water to ‘Akká,” is the reply. Then the moats were drained, and so one by one the malignant things disappear and good things succeed them. And now the opening here in front of Bahjí, in the aqueduct restored to usefulness by the kind jailer, is a favorite place for the Arabs to pray because here they can perform their required ablutions.
Weare sitting under the great oaks between the old Mansion of Bahjí and the sea. The Arabs carry on their devotions as if they were absolutely alone in the middle of a desert impervious to our glances and conversation. A darling old woman from a garden near-by has appeared with a huge clean kerchief full of salted sun-flower seeds. The Oriental ladies lay bare the small white flake of a kernel with perfect ease. For an Occidental to succeed in opening one is not an achievement; it is a career. Farúd brings out bowls of orange juice in which crisp tender leaves of romaine lettuce are rolled and dipped; while the conversation turns on the relative place of Byron and Wordsworth in English literature.
This is the kaleidoscopic East that exercises an ineffaceable spell over the soul of the Westerner. “When you hear the East a-callin’ you won't never ’eed naught else.”
Here comes a troupe of young boys, handsome, care-free fellows, out for a holiday. Nothing could be more depressing than the part played by women in the public life of the Orient. The costume
of the Turkish woman, which prevails here also, is gloomy and sinister to the last degree. Entirely of black with a tight-fitting black cap completely covering the head and ears and a thick black veil making any sight of the face impossible, it gives the impression of a victim just ready for the hangman; this is the costume still tenaciously adhered to by millions of women.
The white costume of the north African provinces with the white veil, revealing the eyes, is charming. The dainty bit of white chiffon worn just under the nose and secured with gold rings about the ears is characteristic of the fashionable Egyptian woman; but this awful shroud of the Turkish and Syrian women is really hideous.
In America where women are so ubiquitous, men have to plan a good deal how to keep away from us; but here comes a troop of gay young boys for an afternoon of frolic—not a woman permitted to be in sight—and their idea of a holiday is to bring a guitar-like instrument and sing poignant love-songs.
Toward sunset when the day is cooler, we walk into ‘Akká to do some errands in the bazaars. It is very late and only one or two are open. As the merchant is showing us his wares the gun that marks the end of his fast is suddenly fired. Quick as a flash his little boy runs to a nearby stall to fetch some dates. There is a tradition that the Prophet broke his fast with dates. Hungrily, greedily, the man stretches out his hand and then with quick courtesy presents them to us saying, "Fadile" (kindly help yourselves). How many Occidentals, who have had no food from daybreak to sunset, would offer it first to total strangers?
It is astonishing to see how the repatriation of the Jews is rapidly changing the whole social structure of Palestine. Men and women (unveiled, naturally) are seen together everywhere. The very fabric of society is giving way before these strange new impacts; and changes that it might otherwise take centuries to accomplish, are rapidly succeeding the old order.
God promised His chosen people millenia ago that they would one day work out their aspirations in this milieu friendly to their objectives. It was to be accomplished in that latter day when good tidings would be published and peace proclaimed. It is indeed significant that the first firman permitting the return of the Jews to Palestine was issued when Bahá’u’lláh was exiled.
The Semite has offered two great gifts to civilization; first a passionate monotheism reiterated after the great teaching of Moses with increased intensity by the Semite Muḥtammad. Second, trade and commerce, which together with the stupendous Occidental contribution of news and communication, are doing more to unify the world than law or education or religion have so far accomplished. We remain perfectly wil1ing to kill those whose opinion on religion or form of government may differ from our own, but the world over, people are becoming more and more hesitant about killing their customers.
A sharp and bitter economic readjustment is going on in Palestine, due to the introduction of Occidental trade usage. The old hit-or-miss barter of the East is going down before the accurately determined price and quality standards of the West. An unsung hero in our historic annals is one A. T. Stewart, the predecessor of John Wanamaker in New York. One bright Monday morning his astonished customers discovered that everything in his shop was marked with a fixed price, and the old romantic habit of letting the soft-voiced woman with charm have her spool of thread a cent or two cheaper than the hard-faced termagant, passed from Western practice.
The Jew, in his repatriation experiment, has brought with him the viewpoint of the Orient and the practice of the Occident. The Germans alone (there is a large colony in Haifa) can offer him com-
petition. The Arab watches in baffled amazement his own countrymen turning as customers to those who are taking his economic life.
That practice honored throughout civilization of keeping things dear and men cheap, is tragicalIy evident here on all sides. Such tattered people! Such degrading labor! My gorge rises as I see men burdened like camels, almost breaking under loads that only a horse would carry in America.
There is the sense that the scene is occurring in its pitiless sordidness and constant reiteration as of two thousand years ago, while that stern Voice of accusation and summons rings athwart the centuries: “For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers. . . . Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.” (Matthew 23 :4-23.) Oh, God, how long—how much longer will it be before we lift ourselves above that moral plane that permits us to live delicately in the midst of the want and of the suffering of our brother man!
I wander into a shop attracted by a Turkish necklace. A very beautiful young man, about the age of one of my own boys, waits on me. I take him to be a Hindu. “What is your nationality?” I ask. “I am a Jew,” he answers. “Oh,” I exclaim with unaffected pleasure, “it always makes me so happy to meet a Jew ! We must never forget that it was you who gave us the noblest conception of the human mind—that of one God the loving Father of all mankind!”
“What, what is this?” he shouts in great excitement, “are you giving away our goods?” With an imperious gesture the boy replies, “Say not a word! This woman is our friend. I will make it all right with you,” and with ill-expressed thanks I hurry away to conceal my emotion. It recalls to me, as such things always do, what a man in prison once said to me: “What all this world is dying for, is a friend!”
In the Shrines this great sense penetrates me—the realization that Bahá’u’lláh and ‘Abdu’l-Bahá are our changeless Friends, common to all and special to each. In moments of strength and hope and enthusiasm, it is our great flair to work under their direction, to spend ourselves, to use our insight and vigor for the accomplishment of their ends. But in those moments when fatigue and disappointment harass us, in those moments that psychology refers to as “collapse,” where can we turn in our doubt and desperation but to those Mighty Beings who shine like majestic Suns along man’s path!
Nothing can ever happen to me now that can thwart me, in imagination, from burying my face in the jasmine-strewn threshold at Bahjí and knowing as a definite part of my spiritual equipment, forever, that “God will assist all those who arise to serve Him.”
TIBERIAS and the Sea of Galilee. “Hearts cannot contain Me, and minds are troubled because of Me.” In these sacred spots of Palestine there is always a figurative straining of weak lungs in rare air; the sense that this exalted atmosphere is too high and fine for the clumsy mechanism of ordinary life. Something Unseen forever moves beside one; a cloud of joyous witnesses and that
little band who followed the Protagonist in the great drama of Christendom, walking after Him down this dusty road that led to the Sea of Galilee—and to everlasting Life. “For this is Life eternal! To know Thee, the only True God,” and the Manifestation “Whom Thou hast sent.”
Here from the hilltop is the first sight of the lapis waters of this gem-like lake. The whir and drift of pinions press nearer; the haunting sense of having passed this way before—not in any gross human fashion but in the lift of the soul to a new level of reverence—and of pain; that never-ending pain due to the realization that even those who know their Lord in His Day so frequently increase His burdens and multiply His Cares. Not so much pain because of Judas, as pain because of Peter, because of those who brought their frailties, their wrangles, their littlenesses into His very presence. Three short years in which to renew again God's Covenant with man, in which to proclaim His imperishable evangel of eternal salvation to a brutal world; three short years in which to outflank the hosts of tyranny, greed and materialism—and not one precious moment to waste in anything personal or less than total dedication to His ends and purposes.
A world to be saved and nobody to save it but frail, selfish, willful, cowardly human beings!
The life of Shoghi Effendi* gives me the real example of what it actually means to devote one’s life to the service of others. “Lift up your heads, O ye gates; and be yet lift up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of Glory shall come in.” (Psalm 24:7.) It is solely through such “gates” and “doors” as the Guardian that the spiritual life of humanity can truly emerge. "The King of Glory" can only come into the world through the release of those qualities, the performance of those personal obligations, the assumption of those attributes that lead us from the beast to the angel.
One of the supreme proofs of the Prophet of God, when He appears in the world, is His unique ability to transform hearts and revolutionize lives. To hear, as we far too frequently hear, that we should not look at the followers of a Great Prophet but look at His teachings, is very much like saying that we should not test the flying power of an airplane but look at its outline. Of what possible advantage is the coming of the Manifestation of God from age to age if His presence is only to amass a certain bulk of literature to be read in leisure moments; to outline a remote Utopian scheme inaccessible to human performance?
The thing to which our gaze is directed in scrutinizing the claim of the Prophet is no more what He teaches than the effect that His teachings produce in human lives.
I often wonder if my estimate of history has been clouded by too intense an expectation; too impracticable a perfectionism as regards myself and my fellows; for as I look back over the contours of history and attempt to heft those strange objects we call institutions, comities, epochs and cycles, they strain my mental muscles as a falling weight rather than dazzle my eyes as an effulgent light. Always the same story: God calling to His impregnable standard the souls of men; always promising that the import of His command shall come to pass, and we, meagre mites, in the mighty sweep of His exhortation proving again and again unequal to the spiritual task that He spreads before us. The spirits of men proving unequal to their high calling, the very stones, the stones of hard hearts and narrow human interests take up the stupendous labor of lifting the inert substance of selfishness into the divine dimension of love and unity.
As we differentiate the historical purpose of the mission of our Lord Jesus, it
*Guardian of the Bahá’í Cause, who resides in Haifa.
seems to have been the releasing of the individual from slavery: physical, political, religious, mental and moral: to establish the rights of the individual, to emphasize the value of the human soul. We may safely say that in the fruition of democracy and of scientific achievement this freedom has been acquired; the irresistible power of God’s Word has executed its divine purpose—but with what a sacrifice of intent, when we view modern man, responsive to the affairs of this world, but skeptical and lethargic with regard to that “Kingdom” that “is not of this world.”
Standing here on the lovely shore of Galilee, the shadow of the cross seeming to stretch before rather than behind me, I can see the multitude straining in His Footsteps, not interested in learning of Him how to put more into life, but interested, then as we are today, in how to get more out of life; begging, not for the opening of that inward eye that is a window set toward heaven; but for the opening of the merely physical eye which in beholding, no matter how fair, the objects of this world can never see beyond its limitations. To lift a man from somatic death—of what value is this? He must but die again. But here in the very presence of Him who in that day alone could confer the ineffable bounty of Unending Life, here they were taking account of a mere span of human days.
Truly it is the nature of Form to receive; but it is also the nature of Spirit to give, and in all those countless multitudes who were partakers in His mercy how few there were who gave back to Him that indispensable allegiance that was necessary to establish His Kingdom on earth.
Human conditions can only be changed by human beings. That curious conception, recrudescent from time to time in theology, that there is a force moving in the world independent of human choice and human effort, which brings to pass a certain predestined pattern that human beings are powerless to assist or to thwart, certainly has no place in the direct teachings of the Founders of any of the Sacred Religions.
This world and its destiny depend too appallingly upon human beings. The call to follow Them is a call to the most intense, vigorous, and unremitting effort. We may see but we cannot enter that Kingdom whose paths are peace, without putting aside our riches of whatever kind, material, mental, personal; without going back to that degree of naivete, faith, and enthusiasm that characterizes our childhood days. The effort of spanning a chasm or leveling a mountain is slight in comparison to allaying our prejudices, and finding our raptures in complete detachment from the experiences of this world. The “superhuman effort” to which ‘Abdu’l-Bahá summons us is this dramatic engaging of all the forces of the soul to combat our petty personalisms and subtle egotistical pretentions.
The beauty and terror of this spot! Where the corpse is, there are the eagles gathered together: then the eagles of the Roman legions; today the eagles on our dollars, a world still steeped in greed and commercialism. Not until the earthquake, the wind, and the fire of our struggles, our brutalities, and our oppressions have passed, shall we be able to hear the still, small voice of God’s changeless command, “Love one another.”
A deep ineffaceable impression comes to me here by the shores of this tiny sea. Again and again ‘Abdu’l-Bahá said, “Look ye at the time of Christ,” warning us that one by one the events of that era would be repeated in this age, in which the great prophecies of Jesus are fulfilled in the coming of Bahá’u’lláh. His warning is to enable us to thwart those tendencies that swept Christianity away from its Founder and established it upon a basis alien to His teachings. The Pauline theology bears no relation, however remote, to the pure teachings of Jesus. His teachings are based upon a dynamic and fundamental change in the life of the individual. In the poignant parable of
the Last Judgment those who win a place on the right hand of the King are those whose lives have been dedicated to the service of others: in Paul’s theology those who are saved are those who believe that Jesus Christ died for them. There is not so much as a germ of likeness in the two ideas, and still it is the teaching of Paul that triumphed in the church: but it was the teaching of Jesus that refusing to die lifted up here and there through the pages of history those mountain-peaks of light that reflected His true meaning to a wistful world. “Why seek ye the living among the dead?” It is the living Christ that lures the soul. This moribund figure of theology no longer intrigues even the mind.
Peter, with his tenacious grip on orthodoxy, attempting to substitute new dogmas for old; Paul's intolerance of old practices for a new age; the historic conflict that made a continent too small to contain them both; Paul’s retirement with his strange assortment of influences from the Greek mysteries, Alexandrian philosophy, Indian belief, Mediterranean cult practice, welding them all with one superb effort of the imagination into an instrument that would conform to Hebraic interpretation ; and then with the irresistible power of a gigantic personality making his followers believe that even if an angel from heaven should say that “my” gospel is not correct they were to place no credence in it. . . . Neither Peter nor Paul near enough to the spirit of their Lord to make it important which won, carrying on a conflict itself utterly contrary to the direct command of Jesus.
The spirit of those disciples, marvelous as it was, was not flame-like enough to melt the solid rocks of men’s hearts and minds into the fire of the love of God. And so God had to lift up stones to serve Him.
To be sure the great purpose for which Jesus came is accomplished. God’s Word does not return void unto Him. But though the Spirit of Freedom has been liberated in the Christian era, with it walks hand in hand rapacity, the barbarous ethics of poverty, crime, corruption, war. If God had had spirits instead of stones to perform His orders what might the world have been today!
There is an irony about such contemplation that strengthens the will and prospers our purposes. Almighty God! grant that in this day no thought, however vague, may obtrude itself beyond the shining dedication of Thy servants, who have beheld Thy Glory and partaken of Thy Power, to cleave the mountains of selfishness, roll back the seas of confusion and doubt, pluck up the isles of division and separateness, and according to Thy mighty prophecy, destroy as with fire all the barriers of the earth; that mankind may be fused through the consuming flame of Thy love, into one kindred and one soul.
There stand, beside this quiet shore the Christian church and the Muḥammadan mosque: the gates of hell have prevailed against both in the centuries that separate them from their Founders. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá walked here to efface the footsteps of those forces and tendencies in life that lead men astray. Only in a church built upon the solidarity and sympathy of the human heart can we adequately worship Him. Let us build forthwith in our harmony, unity and understanding the Temple of the Living God.
Now they are calling me to start upon the homeward journey. But I have written nothing about Tiberias! The Son of Man passed down that road. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá the Beloved of the world, walked this way! What else matters?
Bahá’ís of Diadanow Kalozoo, Burma, India
Bahá’ís of Diadanow Kalozoo, Burma, India
Inez Cook
(From Star of the West)
IN THE heart of the jungle, some forty or fifty miles from Rangoon, lies a little Burmese village—Kunjangoon. Of so little importance is it to natives and Europeans alike that no one seems to have heard of it, and yet one feels confident to say that this small corner of Burma holds so dynamic a force that before long it must make itself felt at a great distance.
This dynamo of spirit is created by eight hundred Bahá’ís living and working as a unit—a thing thrilling to the heart and imagination. Picture this, ifyou can, in a country so steeped in the religious superstitions of the past, and whose people in this quarter still remain so primitive that it would appear almost futile to even carry the great Bahá’í Message of this age to them. To see this is to behold a miracle—for has not ‘Abdu’l-Bahá called it His village?
Seventeen years ago the first seed was planted by Jinabí Siyyid Mustafa Roumie that selfless servant of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, who has seen this wonderful work grow through submitting himself entirely to the Master and reflecting His love to these people.
It is worth while to repeat the story as it was heard, of how the first step was taken, for it shows that if the desire be strong enough to serve the Cause—in no matter how small a degree—we can make no estimate of its ultimate goal.
One day in the streets of Rangoon a man from the jungle was seen running breathlessly along, looking utterly desperate and at the point of exhaustion. A Bahá’í happened to be passing at this moment and was attentive at once to this poor man’s condition. Asking if he might help, and to hear something of the cause of his distress, he was told that the man was in search of a legal adviser and had come in a great hurry to the city—only to find himself at an utter loss.
The jungle-man had been accused of a criminal offense by his sister-in-law, in a passion of jealousy, and shortly afterward convicted by the magistrate, who had received a bribe of two hundred rupees from the sister-in-law. The Bahá’í said that he would lead the man to one who would advise him (i. e., Siyyid Mustafa) and help in any way possible.
On hearing the story Siyyid Mustafa said that he knew this magistrate and they would return together at once to the jungle. By chance on the river-boat they met the magistrate, who was indebted to Siyyid Mustafa for past favors, and when asked why he had convicted this man he said: “But the courts are at your disposal, do with them as you will.” Siyyid Mustafa assured him that only justice was desired and that he himself would plead this man’s case at another trial. This was done and the accused one freed.
After that several families of Kunjangoon came to the city at various times, and were always entertained by Siyyid Mustafa. For two years he was at this service, never during this time mentioning the Cause. Finally they asked him why he took so much trouble for them, saying that they had never met anyone like this before. Then he told them that he was a Bahá’í, and they asked to be taught, so that they might become as he was.
There were ten to be taught at first—and these ten instructed others, and so on. Siyyid Mustafa visited them regularly and helped with all their affairs. A school was started, then a Mashriqu’l-Adhkár, and later ground was given them for community cultivation—the proceeds to be used for the Cause. There are sixty-five acres in all and last year the rice sold from this netted almost one hundred pounds sterling.
We had a great desire to see this Bahá’í village and decided to make the trip, in spite of all the discouragement we received from the English residents of Rangoon. They told us of all the hardships of the trip, which must be made in one day, and assured us that we probably would not return from the jungle alive and they knew nothing of the Bahá’ís and thought we were a lot of quite mad Americans bent on sight-seeing.
Siyyid Mustafa sent a man to Kunjangoon a day ahead of us bearing food, cooking utensils, etc., as these friends are unprepared for visitors or to do our sort of cooking.
We were up before daybreak and on the river by sunrise. The life of the East begins early, so already the little ferry was crowded with natives taking the river journey. They made a picturesque group—squatting amongst their gaily colored robes that rival the sunrise in crimson and blues.
In our tiny, first-class compartment there were already two men, a Burman and an American missionary who had been in the East twenty-one years. Siyyid Mustafa lost no time in giving them the Bahá’í Message, and we wondered how he had contained himself for two years when getting to know and understand the people of Kunjangoon!
Mr. Jones, the missionary, was to meet a co-worker at our stop, Twante, and then proceed to another village by the same boat. But we think ‘Abdu’l-Bahá had this trip in hand, and other things had been planned for this day.
When we landed, the second missionary (Mr. Spear) rushed on board and told Mr. Jones that plans had changed and they were both to go to Kunjangoon. We had met Mr. Spear in one of the shops a few days before, and when he saw us in this out-of-the-way place his amazement was ridiculous. “What,” he said, “are you American ladies doing in this jungle place-it is too curious!”
We asked them to follow in their car and have luncheon with us and see our eight hundred Bahá’ís—a still more unexpected sight.
We were met in a Ford car by two of the friends and driven to the village—twenty-six miles away. What a marvelous sight to see all our Bahá’í sisters and brothers awaiting us, dressed in holiday attire of most colorful materials. Lined up on both sides of the road as we approached, their joyous welcome of “Alláh-u-Abhá” rang forth. Such shining faces and eager curiosity combined would be difficult to picture.
There were four in our party, and before this the only Western Bahá’í they had ever seen was Mrs. Schopflocher. Everyone seemed anxious to be of some service to us, the only one for the moment being to reach for our wraps and parasols. They led us to the schoolhouse (of course, this was a holiday for the one hundred and fourteen children who attended), and grouped themselves about us on the floor—the men and old Bahá’ís taking precedence in front and the women and children in the rear. Then they sang Bahá’í hymns to welcome us—taught them in Persian by Siyyid Mustafa. The rafters rang with the pure joy afloat; and where the chorus was caught up by all the men one could almost see the volume of sound floating through the open doors, on through the sunbaked air to the nearby houses—just as one sees heat vibrations. Or was it just the tumult of my heart, and the mist in my eyes, that made the air seem vibrant?
Mr. Jones and his friend arrived in time for luncheon and seemed astonished to find things just as we had pictured them. They could not believe until they saw it themselves that this work had been
accomplished right in their territory—where years of effort had brought them so little reward by comparison. They appeared to be as interested in taking snapshots of the group as we did, but for what purpose they did not say. However, they left with promises to come again and give talks to our friends, which will be most useful, as the Bahá’ís are diligently studying the Bible.
After luncheon we were shown the village proper—which boasts a court, jail and hospital. Most astonishing of all in this progressive community, they have now a jitney service of Ford cars between Kunjangoon and Twante, twenty-six miles distant. One cannot imagine what this must mean to the villagers, who have had heretofore bullock carts as their only means of transportation.
Then we made our farewells and left, with regret, for the long trip home. It had been made possible to remain this long only by the generous loan of a private steam launch by one of the Bahá’ís of Rangoon, as the last ferry left Twante long before our arrival there.
Mingled with our joy of this day was an undercurrent of sadness which came as we talked to Siyyid Mustafa on the homeward trip. To quote his words as nearly as possible will give the best idea: “I am an old man now and who will carry on my work? Any day I may be called and who will educate these beautiful children? It breaks my heart to come and see them and to be able to do so little—we need teachers and money to help them now. When you leave don't forget my people of Kunjangoon.”
And who having seen Kunjangoon could forget it!
Representative Bahá’ís of India
An American Traveler Visits Bahá’í Communities of the Far East
Florence Evelyn Schopflocher
(From Star of the West)
BOLPUR brings Green Acre* most vividly before my eyes, for here is a similar ideal setting in India’s fertile state of Bengal. At the school of Tagore one witnesses community life in all its stages of development from rug-weaving and many other industries to the finer arts such as music, singing, drawing and painting, and the most appreciated outdoor sports, such as competitions in rope-skipping, dancing, exercises and other games. Spiritual education is not neglected. Yet the poet Tagore puts forth no special creed or teaching other than weekly discourses by himself, and prayers every day at the “House of Prayer.” This philosopher and poet is looked upon here as an idealist who is giving expression to the nobler aspects of life through the drama and fine arts.
Most of his time is spent writing plays and music for the two hundred pupils from distant villages and cities who are boarding here. The Agricultural Department covers chicken raising and introducing the better breeds brought from the West into the surrounding villages; the cultivation of land and gardening. The greatest wish of Rabandrinath Tagore is to draw the graduates of universities who now crowd the cities back to village life. The young Indian principal of the school took his degree at the State Agricultural College of Massachusetts and additional degrees in England. All teachers are well qualified and come from many different countries in Europe. One woman teacher of drawing and painting is from Austria; another teacher is from Holland; one English professor; and two Christian Indian professors.
The Full Moon Festival, which ushers in the first day of Spring in India, has about the same significance as our May-day dancing around the May-pole, celebrated “slightly” differently, for here the Hindu throws colored powder and squirts bright colored water with a kind of water-gun used for the purpose. All join in the holiday spirit, including the teachers, and throw the vivid reds and yellows right square in one’s face and smear it over the body and cloths. By the time evening comes, the people resemble walking flames. Even the hair gets rainbow hued.
Before leaving “the school of the poet” I was asked to give a lecture to the older students and teachers. Everyone to whom I had already spoken seemed to appreciate the principles and teachings of Bahá’u’lláh, but as I have already mentioned they do not specialize here in any religious teaching.
My journey through the south and heart of India was most fruitful, and the leading men and rulers of many different States are now studying the Bahá’í teachings. One of the foremost ministers of the Great Nizam of Hyderabad had heard of the Revelation of Bahá’u’lláh, and weeks before my arrival he was impatiently waiting for books.
*Green Acre is a Bahá’í summer colony in Eliot, Maine.
An official attached to one of India’s greatest princes gave me every assistance in meeting those I most wished to know. When I told him the nature of my work, he exclaimed, “I too am a believer in Bahá’u’lláh, but I have never had the courage to openly admit it as it would mean absolute ruin overnight if it was discovered that I had embraced a new Revelation.”
Another of India’s princes received me with a most inquiring stare. Rather abruptly and in a most unusual manner, he said, “There is something different about you than anyone I have yet known. It is magnetism, but not personal magnetism, rather more of a spiritual quality. What is it you have come to tell me?” Now when one visits these Indian rulers who are so extremely polite, it is not customary to state one’s mission at once, but I came straight to the point and said, “If there is anything spiritual about me it is because I love Bahá’u’lláh the Revealer of the New Revelation.” He replied, “I might have known it. I also believe Bahá’u’lláh has brought a message to the world, but until now I have not looked seriously into His Teachings.”
The beautiful hill stations are the ideal place to teach, for prominent men and women from all parts of India spend the hot months of the plains below up in these hill stations: Professors of the universities, Maharajas and their entourage, and others. Never has a country been nearer to accepting the divine teachings than India is today, and the opportunities for service are without limit.
Mr. Hashmat’u’lláh Koreshí, secretary of the National Bahá’í Spiritual Assembly of India, is a man of marvelous character and great culture. It would be impossible to record in detail the story of the remarkable assistance I received from the hands of this very brilliant spiritual worker in the vineyard of the new creative Word. From eight o'clock in the morning until evening this distinguished and enthusiastic brother invited to visit me at my hotel the most prominent of Calcutta’s thinkers of both sexes, or arranged luncheons, teas and dinners daily. In turn I visited many homes, and carried the Message of Unity into every available place. Many of these very fine families were deeply moved by the narrative of the early life of our beloved Teachers.
A Western Bahá’í believer can always have a sympathetic audience, for since he loves all religionists, his method of approach is constructive and harmonious. There are many so-called dead creeds today in the daily life of the Indian. One can scarcely credit the doings and misunderstandings between the different outstanding religious fanatics. One thing is clear, however, and that is that there are many noble souls and deep thinkers in India who are far above and beyond the illusions of the past.
The cultured Indian is one of the finest types of manhood in the world. My visit to the home of Sir C. P. Bose, the great world-renowned scientist, was a revelation in itself. I walked through the gardens of his home and actually saw the heart-beats of trees as we passed. Marvelous instruments placed near the trees register upon delicate machines the pulse of the tree, and the effect was instantly noticed by a long dash when anything unusual happened such as a person passing suddenly or when some anesthetic was administered. A tree can become intoxicated with certain drugs, and the heartbeat took queer staggers and long swaying movements on the parchment by the needle of these delicate inventions of Sir C. P. Bose, of Calcutta. This was a very eventful afternoon.
Lady Bose is one of the outstanding women in India today. Her untiring efforts along educational and all other lines for the emancipation of her oppressed sisters, classifies her as a great leader in the Feminist Movement. Her “Industrial School for Widows and Married Women” in Bengal is the first institution of its kind to be established in India, and thus her dream of educating the neg-
lected little widows who are bereft of human companionship, has been fulfilled. How refreshing it was to note the immediate and sustained interest of this woman of remarkable character in the great teaching of Bahá’u’lláh, that “material and spiritual education should go hand in hand.”
The Prime Minister of the Maharaja of Mysore was more than kind to me during my visit in the south of India, where I visited the leaders and rulers of several States. The Maharaja of Mysore is one of the greatest of India's princes. He received Bahá’í books with appreciation and extended an invitation to return. When I left the palace I called upon a professor at the college and learned to my surprise that he had once been on the verge of accepting Bahá’u’lláh as the Manifestation of God to the world today, but owing to reports from Persia that the Bahá’í Revelation had entirely died out of the world of existence he had given up the idea of further study. He then inquired as to whether a friend whom he had met twenty years ago in New York was still interested in the Movement, as he had thought it was a fad with this lady.
Promptly I related to him briefly a few stories of the progress of the Bahá’í Cause, its succession of spiritual victories, its world-wide scope. Particularly did I emphasize the superb loyalty of its devotees, their cheerful perseverance and patient struggling to see the New Day of God established on this earth as prophesied by the Divine Messengers. Was I not thinking of the words of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá regarding the “steady progress and universal dimensions of the Cause,” for He hath said, “On account of being a Divine Movement it grew and developed with irresistible spiritual power until in this day wherever you travel east or west and in whatever country you journey you will meet Bahá’í Assemblies and institutions.”
My friend’s immediate response showed a depth of feeling as he requested me to send him the same kind of book I had given the Maharaja, declaring his loyalty to Bahá’u’lláh in future and his desire to help spread the glad-tidings among his countrymen. Last week I received a most joyous letter from this recently morbid man, thanking me in the name of Bahá’u’lláh for the photograph in the little ivory frame of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, saying he kept it before him always, and each day was begun through the inspiration of that wonderful face.
The seeds of the patient work of Mrs. J. Stannard, a Bahá’í teacher, who so faithfully carried on the teaching work in Calcutta, are now bearing fruit. One prominent man, who for months had been suffering from depression and apathy, came suddenly to life after I once again related the story of the progress of the Cause, how it had spread without any propaganda, but entirely through the dynamic spiritual power of the Cause itself, and the efforts of its devoted followers. This man who had been ill and unable to walk even about his own home, arose at the conclusion of our conference (which lasted two hours when I had planned it for thirty minutes) and walked to the stairway with us (two distinguished Bahá’ís had accompanied me). Also before we left a series of Bahá’í meetings were arranged to be held in his spacious attractive home. Thus doth the power of the Spirit of God manifest in hearts suddenly awakened to its all-embracing potency.
And now for a few words about the Bahá’í villages of Burma. Mrs. Inez Greeven (formerly Mrs. Inez Cook of New York) visited the village of Kunjangoon, known as the “Village of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá” because all the inhabitants are Bahá’ís, and wrote an interesting account of this visit [see page 141]. I have already told of my experiences there. But a new village is in the process of evolu-
tion and boasts about twenty young men who decided to openly declare their faith in Bahá’u’lláh regardless of consequences. Muḥammad Eunoos, a blessed old believer, had been expelled by the mulla and told not to return. But when Muḥammad Eunoos learned of my arrival in Mandalay he accompanied me to this village of Kyigon, Burma. We had to ride some miles in an ox-cart, sitting cross-legged on straw matting. News had already reached the village of the visit of a Western believer, so when we arrived the following day the whole place had been polished and not one stroke of work was done that day. The entire population turned out to hear about the new Teachings. I sat up among trees in the most attractive bamboo house built high on stilts, while the audience jostled each other for a place to sit.
The meeting continued through the entire day. During the hot afternoon a mullá arrived and inquired, “What is she talking about up there?” Fortunately the chief official of the village was a Buddhist and very friendly. He had called on us early in the morning and offered a cordial greeting. He told the mullá that the lady was talking about God and that if he remained he would have to be courteous and only ask civil questions after the meeting like the others. He was quite disturbed, but when they said, “The lady is a great friend of the Governor of Burma, Sir Harcourt Butler,” he soon took himself elsewhere and we went on in peace.
Later in the day three young men came forward in the utmost simplicity and knelt at my feet and said, “We accept Bahá’u’lláh as the Prophet of God today.” Others became believers also. It was very touching to see their dear old teacher Muḥammad Eunoos take each by the hand and kiss them on each cheek, and then like an initiation ceremony, kiss each on the forehead, with the look of love in his dear old face. This great teacher once built a Mosque when he was a follower of the Islámic faith, and had it confiscated, together with every bit of property he ever had, when he became a believer in the new Manifestation, Bahá’u’lláh. Now he is happy in his poverty, and in his freedom to uphold the Divine Standards of today.
In conclusion perhaps it will be of interest to Bahá’ís to know that I am writing this article while en-route to visit the Prince who was so splendidly sympathetic to Mrs. Lua Getsinger, Bahá’í teacher and lecturer, when she visited India several years ago. It was not at all surprising to learn that they always refer to Mrs. Getsinger in these parts as “St. Lua.”
Picture me here in this queer village, a way-station, as it were, for those who go on hunting expeditions after tigers! The village is really locked up at night and all passes closed to tigers, but I am told that tigers are always lurking near these barriers and sometimes find an entry. Here I wait for the next eleven hours until the arrival of the main line train which will carry me on to Jhalrapatan, where the Maharaja of Jhalawar has his State.
A tiny lamp flickers over my shoulder from an improvised mantelpiece and two coolie boys alternate in pulling the punka over my head that I may breathe sufficiently to get through the night, for I am experiencing the “boiling heat” of April days and nights in India. The babble of native curiosity is without and many unseen eyes are gazing upon this unusual activity. An Indian night with its native perfume pervades the place and even in desert waste of insecure footing there is a remarkable atmosphere of genuine reality. Possibly this is the reason for my preference for the East and its associations rather than the West with its civilization. Outside of my door is the Muḥammadan upon his tiny prayer-rug in respectful reverence to Muḥammad; the Hindu also near-by looking hopeful that his meditation is being heard by the long-departed Krishna.
Hope and happiness reign supreme in my heart during my unexpected stay in
Bahá’í women of Burma
Bahá’í women of Burma
Bahá’í men of Burma
Bahá’í men of Burma
this, the most primitive and strange place I have thus far visited, hardly on the fringe, even, of human society. At five o’clock in the morning I shall entrain for Jhalrapatan, where an automobile will be waiting to take me thirty miles more on the journey to the Palace of His Highness the Prince, who will once again hear of the Revealed Word of God to man through Bahá’u’lláh and of how that creative Word has taken effect in the hearts of thousands upon thousands the world-over who believe that “the Religion and the law of God has descended from the heaven of the will of the Possessor of Eternity for the purpose alone of harmonizing and bringing into unity the peoples of the world.”
‘Abdu’l-Bahá at Green Acre, Maine, August 17, 1912.
‘Abdu’l-Bahá at Green Acre, Maine, August 17, 1912.
A Focal Center of Devotional and Humanitarian Activity
Horace Holley and Louise Boyle
DURING the past thirty-three years the little tract of land in southern Maine, set apart in trust by Miss Sarah J. Farmer of Eliot for the Green Acre Summer Conferences, has witnessed one of the most significant expressions of practical idealism ever taking place in this country.
Viewed in the perspective of these thirty-three years—that wonderful era of world thought and progress, deepened by world suffering, inaugurated by the Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893 —the spiritual legacy left by Miss Farmer in Green Acre represents a truly astonishing achievement. To this woman of pure New England stock must be credited the glory of founding the first universal platform in America. To Green Acre have come representatives of every race, nation and religion, to mingle in fellowship and contribute each his best to a common end. The roll of speakers who have taken part in the Green Acre Conferences represent well-nigh the flower of modern liberal thought.
“Green Acre,” Miss Farmer declared some years before her death, “was established for the purpose of bringing together all who were looking earnestly toward the New Day which seemed to be breaking over the entire world. The motive was to find the Truth, the Reality, underlying all religious forms, and to make points of contact in order to promote the unity necessary for the ushering in of the coming Day of God.”
Only the older generation can appreciate the courage and magnanimity of this woman at their true value. The note of human solidarity and interdependence has penetrated life at many points during the past twenty years, but Miss Farmer arose as a consecrated pioneer to make a definite and practical application of ideals hitherto existing only in the minds of philosophers and the lives of saints.
The Fruit of New England
Too frequently, students of that marvelous period of aspiring consciousness known as the “Transcendental Movement,” and associated with the greatness of Emerson, Thoreau and their fellows, have traced the continuity of the movement down the many dividing tenuous streams of so-called “New Thought.” This is a fundamental mistake. Great thoughts do not reach fulfillment in a multiplicity of little thoughts—their fruit is in permanently ennobled customs and institutions of daily life.
This significance of Miss Farmer in the history of American progress is that she stands as the actual fulfiller of Emerson in terms of applied influence. Miss Farmer can be considered as the feminine counterpart of Emerson, for she possessed his idealism to the full, but her nature was executive, practical and intensely human, desiring tangible results above abstract formulas and definitions.
Green Acre consequently arose as the effort to live out and apply the great American vision of truth, justice and righteousness, and throughout more than
thirty years of struggle, Green Acre has never lost sight of that essential purpose.
What Is Green Acre!
Physically, Green Acre is a tract of some two hundred acres, situated along the banks of the Piscataqua river in Eliot, Maine, only four miles up from the sea, and opposite the historic city of Portsmouth, New Hampshire. On this tract, and also round about the countryside, are magnificent pine groves; the combination of river, sea, pines and sunswept rolling farm lands making an environment of unsurpassed charm and healthfulness.
The buildings already erected at Green Acre include the Inn, Fellowship House, Arts and Crafts Studio, Little Theatre, Gift Shop, Tea House, cottages and sites for camping parties. All this property is administered under the supervision of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of the United States and Canada. No restrictions exist to limit the attendance at Green Acre beyond basic considerations of character and suitability.
The Green Acre Conferences
The present year 1928 brings the thirty-fourth season of the famous Green Acre Conferences, which have resolutely stressed the independent investigation of reality in all the fundamental issues of human life. Such subjects as Comparative Religion, Religion and Science, The Unity of Mankind, and The Significance of the New Era, have been presented by leaders whose names are known throughout the world. It was typical of Miss Farmer’s large purposes, and also of her capacity to dramatize the ideal in the concrete, that the original ceremony opening Green Acre on July 4, 1894, culminated in raising a flag of World Peace.
Among those who have been associated with the development of Green Acre Conferences are: John Greenleaf Whittier, Edward Everett Hale, Edwin H. Markham, Ralph Waldo Trine, Helen Campbell, William Dean Howells, William Lloyd Garrison, John Fiske, Lester A. Ward, Paul Carus, Booker T. Washington, Edward Martin, Mírzá Abu’l-Faḍl, Edwin Ginn, Myron H. Phelps, Thornton Chase, Edwin D. Mead, C. H. A. Bjerregaard, Jacob Riis, Horatio Dresser, Joseph Jefferson, Anagarika H. Dharmapala, Nathaniel Schmidt, P. Ramanathan and Rabbi Silverman.
The audiences attending these Conferences have more than once had the disinction of hearing, in the form of an intimate address, some theme later to become famous as a public lecture or chapter in a book. For more than a decade, it was at Green Acre that Oriental philosophy and religion found their most hospitable open door into the consciousness of the West.
Green Acre a World-wide Activity
In 1896, two years after the opening of Green Acre, Miss Farmer found her objects and ideals expressed in their purest, most vital form in the Bahá’í Faith. Perceiving that the entire modern liberal movement of the West was but the direct reflection of the Light which dawned in Persia in 1844, and that the heroic lives of the Bahá’í martyrs had established an unshakable basis for every liberal and universal cause, Miss Farmer journeyed to ‘Akká, the prison colony near Mount Carmel, and offered her services to ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. This action brought about no fundamental alterations in the policy or purposes of Green Acre, but related Green Acre to the modern world Movement at its spiritual source.
The Tablets addressed by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá to Miss Farmer during subsequent years expressed His unfailing guidance in all her great work. In some of them He wrote:
“O maid-servant of God! Trust in the grace of thy Lord. He shall surely assist thee with a confirmation whereat the minds will be amazed and the thoughts of the men of learning will be astonished.
Take the cup of the love of God in thy right hand and with thy left hand hoist the banner of universal peace, love and affection among the nations of the earth . . . .
“Verily ‘Abdu’l-Bahá was with you in Green Acre in his spirit, soul and in all his spiritual grades. . . . Verily I beseech God to make Green Acre as the Paradise of El-Abhá, so that the melodies of the nightingales of sanctity may be heard from it and the chanting of the verses of unity may be raised therein. . . .
“Blessed art thou, that thy heart is connected with the callings of the Kingdom of Abhá, so that thou hast dispensed with the telepathic wires of the world, because the terminal of the spiritual wire reached the centre of thy heart and the other is placed in the spiritual centre. . . .
“O thou artery pulsating in the body of the world. . . . I supplicate God to heal thee from all troubles and diseases and make thee a sign of guidance and a standard of the Supreme Concourse in those regions. . . . Verily thou art with me in spirit at all times.”
On August 16,1912, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá Himself visited Green Acre and remained one week. His majestic figure became a familiar outline upon its grassy slopes and His presence a benediction. At this time Miss Farmer was ill at a sanitarium in Portsmouth. She was able, however, to spend a few hours at Green Acre in order to greet ‘Abdu’l-Bahá and extend to Him the hospitality of a spot already dedicated to His Cause.
The two addresses delivered by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá on the day of His arrival at Green Acre were significant of His later instructions regarding this centre. They were masterly discourses upon. “The Investigation of Reality” and “Love.” A divine joy seemed to fill the heart of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá at Green Acre for here were found many souls capable of responding to His message. His time was fully occupied with interviews and addresses.
Upon one occasion ‘Abdu’l-Bahá stood with the friends upon Mount Salvat, the noble elevation dedicated by Miss Farmer as the site for a spiritual university. He spoke of the future realization of this inspired idea—of the erection there of a University of the Higher Sciences—an institution where young men and women would be prepared for lives of true service and trained in the arts and sciences of a new age. Upon another occasion ‘Abdu’l-Bahá invited to a Feast all the residents of Eliot and Green Acre.
While sojourning in Paris, on His return from America en-route to Palestine, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá pictured to some friends interested in Green Acre the ideals on which its future should be built :
“In Green Acre you must concentrate your forces around the one all-important fact—the investigation of reality. Expend all your thought on this that the union of opinions and expressions may be obtained . . . .
“The chief objects of the Green Acre Conferences must be the furtherance of universal peace, investigation of reality, brotherhood, tolerance, sympathy to all mankind, the cultivation of a better understanding between the nations of the world, the elimination of dogmas and superficialities, the illumination of the hearts with the light of truth, mutual assistance and co-operation, social service, the study of the fundamental principles of all the religions and their comparative co-ordination. Green Acre must carry away this palm of victory . . . . ”
In July, 1925, at the invitation of the Green Acre Fellowship and Trustees, the Bahá’ís of the United States and Canada gathered there in their Seventeenth Annual Convention and Congress, and this occasion signalized the visible fulfillment of Miss Farmer's pilgrimage to ‘Akká so many years before. An international touch was given the event by the presence of honorary Bahá’í delegates from France and Persia, and the receipt of messages of fellowship from the Bahá’ís of England, Germany, Caucasus, Egypt, ‘Iráq, South America, India and Burma, Australia and New Zealand.
The “War Period” and After
A development in the methods necessary for attaining the ideal of Green Acre could be noted from year to year under Miss Farmer's guidance, withdrawn forever shortly before the war. This development was away from days filled entirely with lectures and addresses (more than once the program included over fifteen lectures a day) to a more well-balanced program. The “war period” permanently altered the character of these Conferences by abruptly emphasizing reality as the criterion of truth as well as of usefulness. At present the expressed purpose of the Green Acre committee is to concentrate on fewer speakers, but give each one an adequate opportunity to develop his subject and leave premanent influences behind.
A Center—Not An “Institution”
Those who would compare Green Acre with any foundation which began from the material end—that is, with adequate equipment for public lectures, private instruction or even entertainment and general recreation—are unaware of its true spirit. Green Acre began with a vision rather than with a purse. Its appeal has been greatest to those who appreciate the rare opportunity of participating in a living, growing center rather than in a formally institutionalized regime. The material equipment necessary for Miss Farmer’s objectives is being slowly but surely provided, but Green Acre is still inspiringly fluid and informal, responding to every sympathetic and creative thought.
Green Acre, in fact, came into being at just about the time when American life began to create impressive “foundations” in the fields of education, art and science corresponding to the earlier bequests and gifts to churches. These great financial foundations have accomplished invaluable good. None of them, however, occupies the particular niche filled by Green Acre, whose supreme function is not to give opportunities to the exceptionally trained specialist, but to manifest the reality of world unity. Green Acre’s difficulty never has been the raising of funds, but the finding of people capable of remaining true to this vision.
Thus it was inevitable that Green Acre should, for a time at least, lose much of that brilliance characterizing its conferences during the earlier years, for this brilliance reflected the facets of individualism brought into the intense light of a world ideal. As the fruit slowly matures after the passing of the flower, so Green Acre has been learning how to discipline and unify its own workers rather than to attract the few leaders who tarry but for the passing day. More powerful than any financial budget is that foundation consisting of men and women rid at last of secret ambition, false pride and useless sensibilities. When this unity is thoroughly established, brilliance—so often the flickering torch—becomes illumination—the steady glow of dawn.
It is in the roll of Green Acre Fellowship, listing many friends and workers associated with Miss Farmer’s purposes for twenty, even twenty-five or thirty years, that Green Acre’s treasure and wealth must be sought, for their faithfulness has created the only condition wherein can be realized the logical conclusion of these Conferences: “a universal platform for all mankind, irrespective of race, religion or nationality . . . . that the influence of the confederation of religions and sects may permeate to all parts of the world from Green Acre, and Green Acre for future ages and cycles may become the standard-bearer of the oneness of humanity.”
The Green Acre Ideal
Briefly stated, the ideal of Green Acre is to afford a platform for the discussion of fundamental subjects from the point of view of reality—that is, as they affect mankind and not merely one limited group. This universal platform is to be founded on the firm basis of a community of loyal, unified and active work-
ers, some resident at Green Acre the year round, others spending only their summers there; people of different sect, race and class, and of different character and training, but agreeing in their mutual desire to serve one aim and participate in one all-inclusive purpose. As time goes on, the underlying harmony of Green Acre will be evidenced by more and more accessory institutions, each expressing some one phase of physical, mental or soul life. At Green Acre there must be fullness of life and richness of human comradeship—a community whose motive is service, not wealth, but at the same time consciously rejecting all those artificial schemes which promise to solve life’s material problems without relying upon self-sacrifice and spiritual love.
In New England, and throughout the United States, there are today untold thousands of people who know that they are capable of responding to finer enthusiasms and higher motives than touch them in their daily lives. The motive of mere material wealth leaves them cold; they find no true distraction in physical games, no true inspiration in abstract art and science, no profit in the clash of religious doctrines.
Green Acre exists entirely to serve these awakening souls of the new day. Green Acre will serve them first of all by using their capacities at their best, kindled by the vision of what remains to be done in the spot blessed by Miss Farmer’s life and work. Green Acre will draw them out of themselves, teach them the laws and principles of unity and reveal hidden sources of conviction and joy. For a day, for a week, for a season, for a lifetime, Green Acre needs workers— but Green Acre will give more than she takes.
Green Acre Gives Hospitality to Significant Educational Activity—The Institute of World Unity
The summer of 1927 witnessed a true flowering of the purposes and ideals of Green Acre, but partly disclosed in and through the programs of conferences and meetings held during previous years. The founder, Miss Sarah J. Farmer, ever visioned as the crown of attainment for this consecrated center, a University teaching not merely cultural and scientific subjects but inculcating above all the spirit of humanitarian service and brotherly love.
A definite beginning was made in the direction of this noble ideal by the hospitality which Green Acre extended to the Institute of World Unity, an activity of World Unity Foundation, in 1927.
The purpose of the Institute was announced as “an effort to supply a new basis of faith in brotherhood and world unity through the finding of modern science and philosophy.” From August 1 to September 3, five courses were offered, each in charge of a well-known educator. A total of nearly seventy registrations was enrolled, the students coming from many parts of the United States and Canada and representing a wide variety of races and religions. This group displayed such enthusiastic interest in the work of the Institute that its perpetuation and development in future years seems assured.
The natural beauty of Green Acre, and its powerful tradition of universal hospitality, provided a sympathetic environment for the discussion of subjects which necessarily involve a new quality of human association.
Program of Lectures-1927
Prof. Herbert Adams Gibbons,
Ph. D., Lit. D.
Fellow of the Royal Historical Society and of the Ecole Palatine of Avignon.
Awarded the Gold Medal of the Societe de Geographie of Paris.
Member of the French Legion of Honor.
1.— Nationalism before 1789.
2.— Nationalism vs. Internationalism from 1789 to 1815.
3.— Factors in the Development of Nationalism in Europe from 1815 to 1870.
4.— Nationalist Movements in Europe from 1870 to 1914.
5.— Nationalism vs. Internationalism from 1914 to 1919.
6.— The International Movement since the World War.
Prof. John Herman Randall, Jr.
Columbia University.
Assistant Professor of Philosophy, Columbia University.
Author, The Problem of Group Responsibility, The Making of the Modern Mind, etc.
Co-author, Introduction to Reflective Thinking, and Columbia University Studies in the History of Ideas.
8.— The Building of the Christian Tradition.
9.— The Discovery of the Scientific Order of Nature.
10.— -The Romantic Call to a Larger Experience.
11.— The Growth of Faith in Evolutionary Science.
12.— The Adjustment of Religion to the Scientific Faith.
13.— The Emergence of the Ideal of a Functionally Unified World.
Prof. Samuel Lucas Joshi, Ph.D.
Dartmouth College
Professor of Comparative Religion, Dartmouth College.
Professor of English Literature, University of Bombay.
First Indian Graduate of Columbia University.
First Carnegie Exchange Professor from India.
15.— Introductory lecture reviewing the main phases of development among leading religions.
16.— A Survey of the Concepts of God, Prayer and Sacrifice among different religions.
17.— The nature of the Soul and a comparative study of Eschatology among different religions.
18.— India’s contribution to the interpretation of the central problems of religion.
19.— Science and Religion among Western nations in the 19th Century.
20.— Some problems of today and the reigious outlook for tomorrow.
Prof. Kirtley F. Mather, Ph.D.
Harvard University
Chairman of the Department of Geology and Geography, Harvard University.
Lecturer at Radcliffe and Wellesley Colleges.
Geologist, United States Geological Survey.
22.— The New World Revealed by Modern Science.
23.— Survival of Religion in the Struggle for Existence.
24.— Machines, Men, and Mystics.
25.— The Search for God in a Scientific Age.
26.— Miracles and Prayer in a Law-Abiding Universe.
27.— The Present Trend of Science and Religion.
the WEST
Prof. William R. Shepherd
Ph.D., L. H. D.
Columbia University
Seth Low Professor of History, Columbia.
Honorary Professor, University of Chile.
American delegate, Pan-American Scientific Congresses.
Contributing Editor, Journal of International Relations.
Author of a classic Historic Atlas, books on Latin America, a history of New Amsterdam, and various papers on the expansion of Europe.
29.— The Meeting of East and West.
30.— Western Ways in Eastern Lands.
31.— Western Thoughts in Eastern Minds.
1.— Eastern Ways in Western Lands.
2.— Eastern Thoughts in Western Minds.
3.— Two Strong Men Stand Face to Face.
Program of Lectures-1928
Herbert Adams Gibbons, Ph.D.
30.— The Problems of the British Empire.
31.— France and Germany in the New Europe.
1.— The Attitude of Italy and Russia Towards International Co-operation.
2.— Africa and Asia Repudiate the “White Man’s Burden.”
3.— A New Era in Pan-American Relations.
Frank H. Hankins, Ph.D.
Smith College
6.— Races and Nations: Their Meaning and Relations.
7.— Race Pride and Prejudice: Their Basis, Social Role and Modification.
8.— The Question of Racial Equality.
9.— The International Significance of Different Rates of Increase of Races and Nationalities.
10.— Stages and Processes in the Evolution of Social Organization and Integration.
E. A. Burtt, Ph.D.
University of Chicago
13.— The Human Significance of the Notion of Universal Law.
14.— The Empirical Method of Science.
15.— The Hypothetical Character of Scientific Explanation.
16.— Implications of the Scientific Attitude for Philosophy.
17.— Implications of the Scientific Attitude for Religion.
Nathaniel Schmidt, Ph.D.
Cornell University
20.— Early Forms of Religion.
21.— The Rise and Fall of the Gods.
22.— The Function of the Prophet.
23.— Mutations and Survivals in Religion.
24.— The Present Outlook for Religion.
A Group of Bahá’ís of Ṭihrán, Persia
Excerpts from Books and other Publications
I.   By Professor E. G. Browne.
Introduction to Myron H. Phelps’ ‘Abbás Effendi, pages xv-xx: 1903 rev. 1912—
I have often heard wonder expressed by Christian ministers at the extraordinary success of Bábí missionaries, as contrasted with the almost complete failure of their own. “How is it,” they say, “that the Christian doctrine, the highest and the noblest which the world has ever known, though supported by all the resources of Western civilization, can only count its converts in Muḥammadan lands by twos and threes, while Bábíism can reckon them by thousands?” The answer, to my mind, is plain as the sun at midday. Western Christianity, save in the rarest cases, is more Western than Christian, more racial than religious; and by dallying with doctrines plainly incompatible with the obvious meaning of its Founder’s words, such as the theories of “racial supremacy,” “imperial destiny,” “survival of the fittest,” and the like, grows steadily more rather than less material. Did Christ belong to a “dominant race,” or even to a European or “white race?” . . . I am not arguing that the Christian religion is true, but merely that it is in manifest conflict with several other theories of life which practically regulate the conduct of all States and most individuals in the Western world, a world which, on the whole, judges all things, including religions, mainly by material, or to use the more popular term, “practical,” standards. . . . There is, of course, another factor in the success of the Bábí propagandist, as compared with the Christian missionary, in the conversion of Muḥammadans to his faith: namely, that the former admits, while the latter rejects, the Divine inspiration of the Qur’án and the prophetic function of Muḥammad. The Christian missionary must begin by attacking, explicitly or by implication, both these beliefs; too often forgetting that if (as happens but rarely) he succeeds in destroying them, he destroys with them that recognition of former prophetic dispensations (including the Jewish and the Christian) which Muḥammad and the Qur’án proclaim, and converts his Muslim antagonist not to Christianity, but to Skepticism or Atheism. What, indeed, could be more illogical on the part of Christian missionaries to Muḥammadan lands than to devote much time and labor to the composition of controversial works which endeavor to prove, in one and the same breath, first, that the Qur’án is a lying imposture, and, secondly, that it bears witness to the truth of Christ’s mission, as though any value attached to the testimony of one proved a liar! The Bábí (or Bahá’í) propagandist, on the other hand, admits that Muḥammad was the prophet of God and that the Qur’án is the Word of God, denies nothing but their finality, and does not discredit his own witness when he draws from that source arguments to prove his faith. To the Western observer, however, it is the complete sincerity of the Bábís, their fearless disregard of death and torture undergone for the sake of their religion, their certain conviction as to the truth of their faith, their generally admirable conduct towards mankind and especially towards their fellow-believers,
which constitute their strongest claim on his attention.
Introduction to Myron H. Phelps’ ‘Abbás Effendi, pages xii-xiv—
It was under the influence of this enthusiasm that I penned the introduction to my translation of the Traveller’s Narrative. . . . This enthusiasm, condoned, if not shared, by many kindly critics and reviewers, exposed me to a somewhat savage attack in the Oxford Magazine, an attack concluding with the assertion that my Introduction displayed “a personal attitude almost inconceivable in a rational European, and a style unpardonable in a university teacher.” (The review in ques- tion appeared in the Oxford Magazine of May 25, 1892, page 394. . . . “the prominence given to the Báb in this book is an absurd violation of historical perspective; and the translation of the Traveller’s Narrative a waste of the powers and opportunities of a Persian Scholar.”) Increasing age and experience (more's the pity!) are apt enough, even without the assistance of the Oxford Magazine, to modify our enthusiasms; but in this case, at least, time has so far vindicated my judgment against that of my Oxford reviewer that he could scarcely now maintain, as he formerly asserted, that the Bábí religion “had affected the least important part of the Muslim World, and that not deeply.” Everyone who is in the slightest degree conversant with the actual state of things (September 27, 1903), in Persia now recognizes that the number and influence of the Bábís in that country is immensely greater than it was fifteen years ago. . .
A Traveller’s Narrative, page 309—
The appearance of such a woman as Qurratu’l-‘Ayn is in any country and any age a rare phenomenon, but in such a country as Persia it is a prodigy—nay, almost a miracle. Alike in virtue of her marvelous beauty, her rare intellectual gifts, her fervid eloquence, her fearless devotion and her glorious martyrdom, she stands forth incomparable and immortal amidst her countrywomen. Had the Bábí religion no other claim to greatness, this were sufficient—that it produced a heroine like Qurratu’l-‘Ayn.
Introduction to A Traveller’s Narrative, pages ix, x—
Though I dimly suspected whither I was going and whom I was to behold (for no distinct intimation had been given to me), a second or two elapsed ere, with a throb of wonder and awe, I became definitely conscious that the room was not untenanted. In the corner where the divan met the wall sat a wondrous and venerable figure, crowned with a felt headdress of the kind called táj by dervishes (but of unusual height and make), round the base of which was wound a small white turban. The face of him on whom I gazed I can never forget, though I cannot describe it. Those piercing eyes seemed to read one’s very soul; power and authority sat on that ample brow; while the deep lines on the forehead and face implied an age which the jet-black hair and beard flowing down in indistinguishable luxuriance almost to the waist seemed to belie. No need to ask in whose presence I stood, as I bowed myself before one who is the object of a devotion and love which kings might envy and emperors sigh for in vain.
A mild, dignified voice bade me be seated, and then continued: “Praise be to God, that thou hast attained! . . . Thou hast come to see a prisoner and an exile . . . We desire but the good of the world and the happiness of the nations; yet they deem us a stirrer-up of strife and sedition worthy of bondage and banishment . . . That all nations should become one in faith and all men as brothers; that the bonds of affection and unity between the sons of men should be strengthened; that diversity of religion should cease, and differences of race be annulled—what harm is there in this? . . . Yet so it shall be; these fruitless strifes, these ruinous wars
shall pass away, and the ‘Most GreatPeace’ shall come . . . Do not you in Europe need this also? Is not this that which Christ foretold? . . . Yet do we see your kings and rulers lavishing their treasures more freely on means for the destruction of the human race than on that which would conduce to the happiness of mankind . . . These strifes and this bloodshed and discord must cease, and all men be as one kindred and one family . . . Let not a man glory in this that he loves his country; let him rather glory in this, that he loves his kind . ... ”
Such, so far as I can recall them, were the words which, besides many others, I heard from Bahá. Let those who read them consider well with themselves whether such doctrines merit death and bonds, and whether the world is more likely to gain or lose by their diffusion.
Introduction to A Traveller’s Narrative, pages xxxv, xxxvi—
Seldom have I seen one whose appearance impressed me more. A tall, strongly-built man holding himself straight as an arrow, with white turban and raiment, long black locks reaching almost to the shoulder, broad powerful forehead, indicating a strong intellect, combined with an unswerving will, eyes keen as a hawk’s, and strongly marked but pleasing features—such was my first impression of ‘Abbás Effendi, “The Master” (Aghá) as he par excellence is called by the Bábís. Subsequent conversation with him served only to heighten the respect with which his appearance had from the first inspired me. One more eloquent of speech, more ready of argument, more apt of illustration, more intimately acquainted with the sacred books of the Jews, the Christians and the Muḥammadans, could, I should think, be scarcely found even amongst the eloquent, ready and subtle race to which he belongs. These qualities combined with a bearing at once majestic and genial, made me cease to wonder at the influence and esteem which he enjoyed even beyond the circle of his father’s followers. About the greatness of this man and his power no one who had seen him could entertain a doubt.
II.   By Dr. J. Estlin Carpenter.
Excerpts from Comparative Religion, pages 70, 71—
From that subtle race issues the most remarkable movement which modern Muḥammadanism has produced. . . . Disciples gathered round him, and the movement was not checked by his arrest, his imprisonment for nearly six years and his final execution in 1850. . . . It, too, claims to be a universal teaching; it has already its noble army of martyrs and its holy books; has Persia, in the midst of her miseries, given birth to a religion which will go round the world?
III.   By T. K. Cheyne..
Excerpts from The Reconciliation of Races and Religions, (1914)—
There was living quite lately a human being* of such consummate excellence that many think it is both permissible and inevitable even to identify him mystically with the invisible Godhead. . . . His† combination of mildness and power is so rare that we have to place him in a line with supernormal men. . . . We learn that, at great points in his career after he had been in an ecstacy, such radiance of might and majesty streamed from his countenance that none could bear to look upon the effulgence of his glory and beauty. Nor was it an uncommon occurrence for unbelievers involuntarily to bow down in lowly obeisance on beholding His Holiness.
The gentle spirit of the Báb is surely high up in the cycles of eternity. Who can fail, as Professor Browne says, to be attracted by him? “His sorrowful and per-
secuted life; his purity of conduct and youth; his courage and uncomplaining patience under misfortune; his complete self-negation; the dim ideal of a better state of things which can be discerned through the obscure mystic utterances of the Bayán; but most of all, his tragic death, all serve to enlist our sympathies on behalf of the young prophet of Shíráz.”
“Il sentait Ie besoin d’une reforme profonde a introduire dans les moeurs publiques. . . . Il s’est sacrifie pour l’humanitie; pour elle il a donne son corps et son ame, pour elle il a subi les privations, les affronts, les injures, la torture et le martyre.” (Mons. Nicolas.)
If there has been any prophet in recent times,it is to Bahá’u’lláh that we must go. Character is the final judge. Bahá’u’lláh was a man of the highest class—that of prophets. But he was free from the last infirmity of noble minds, and would certainly not have separated himself from others. He would have understood the saying: “Would God all the Lord’s people were prophets!” What he does say, however, is just as fine: “I do not desire lordship over others; I desire all men to be even as I am.”
The day is not far off when the details of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s missionary journeys will be admitted to be of historical importance. How gentle and wise he was, hundreds could testify from personal knowledge, and I, too, could perhaps say something. . . . I will only, however, give here the outward framework of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s life, and of his apostolic journeys, with the help of my friend Lotfulláh . . . .
During his stay in London he visited Oxford (where he and his party—of Persians mainly—were the guests of Professor and Mrs. Cheyne), Edinburgh, Clifton and Woking. It is fitting to notice here that the audience at Oxford, though highly academic, seemed to be deeply interested, and that Dr. Carpenter made an admirable speech. . . .
IV.   By Professor Vambery.
Testimony to the Religion of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. (Translated from the Persian by Mírzá Aḥmad Sohrab. Published in Egyptian Gazette, Sept. 24, 1913, by Mrs. J. Stannard.)—
I forward this humble petition to the sanctified and holy presence of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá ‘Abbás, who is the center of knowledge, famous throughout the world, and loved by all mankind. O thou noble friend who art conferring guidance upon humanity—May my life be a ransom to thee!
The loving epistle which you have condescended to write to this servant, and the rug which you have forwarded, came safely to hand. The time of the meeting with your Excellency, and the memory of the benediction of your presence, recurred to the memory of this servant, and I am longing for the time when I shall meet you again. Although I have traveled through many countries and cities of Islám, yet have I never met so lofty a character and so exalted a personage as your Excellency, and I can bear witness that it is not possible to find such another. On this account, I am hoping that the ideals and accomplishments of your Excellency may be crowned with success and yield results under all conditions; because behind these ideals and deeds I easily discern the eternal welfare and prosperity of the world of humanity.
This servant, in order to gain first-hand information and experience, entered into the ranks of various religions, that is, outwardly, I became a Jew, Christian, Muḥammadan and Zoroastrian. I discovered that the devotees of these various religions do nothing else but hate and anathematize each other, that all their religions have become the instruments of tyranny and oppression in the hands of rulers and governors, and that they are the causes of the destruction of the world of humanity.
Considering those evil results, every person is forced by necessity to enlist himself on the side of your Excellency,
and accept with joy the prospect of a fundamental basis for a universal religion of God, being laid through your efforts.
I have seen the father of your Excellency from afar. I have realized the selfsacrifice and noble courage of his son, and I am lost in admiration.
For the principles and aims of your Excellency, I express the utmost respect and devotion, and if God, the Most High, confers long life, I will be able to serve you under all conditions. I pray and supplicate this from the depths of my heart.
Your servant,
V.   By Harry Charles Lukach.
Quotation from The Fringe of the East, (Macmillan & Co., London, 1913.)—
Bahá’ísm is now estimated to count more than two million adherents, mostly composed of Persian and Indian Shi’ihs, but including also many Sunnís from the Turkish Empire and North Africa, and not a few Brahmans, Buddhists, Taoists, Shintoists and Jews. It possesses even European converts, and has made some headway in the United States. Of all the religions which have been encountered in the course of this journey—the stagnant pools of Oriental Christianity, the strange survivals of sun-worship, and idolatry tinged with Muḥammadanism, the immutable relic of the Sumerians—it is the only one which is alive, which is aggressive, which is extending its frontiers, instead of secluding itself within its ancient haunts. It is a thing which may revivify Islám, and make great changes on the face of the Asiatic world.
VI.   By Valentine Chirol.
Quotations from The Middle Eastern Question or Some Political Problems of Indian Defense,chapter XI, page 116 (The Revival of Bábíism)—
When one has been like Sa’di, a great personage, and then a common soldier, and then a prisoner of a Christian feudal chief; when one has worked as a navvy on the fortifications of the Count of Antioch, and wandered back afoot to Shíráz after infinite pain and labor, he may well be disposed to think that nothing that exists is real, or, at least, has any substantial reality worth clinging to. Today the public peace of Persia is no longer subject to such violent perturbations. At least, as far as we are concerned, the appearances of peace prevail, and few of us care or have occasion to look beyond the appearances. But for the Persians themselves, have the conditions very much changed? Do they not witness one day the sudden rise of this or that favorite of fortune and the next day his sudden fall? Have they not seen the Atabeg-Azam twice hold sway as the Sháh’s all-powerful Vazír. and twice hurled down from that pinnacle by a bolt from the blue? How many other ministers and governors have sat for a time on the seats of the mighty and been swept away by some intrigue as sordid as that to which they owed their own exaltation? And how many in humbler stations have been in the meantime the recipients of their unworthy favors or the victims of their arbitrary oppression? A village ,which but yesterday was fairly prosperous is beggared today by some neighboring landlord higher up the valley, who, having duly propitiated those in authority, diverts for the benefit of his own estates the whole of its slender supply of water. The progress of a governor or royal prince, with all his customary retinue of ravenous hangers-on, eats out the countryside through which it passes more effectually than a flight of locusts. The visitation is as ruinous and as unaccountable. Is it not the absence of all visible moral correlation of cause and effect in these phenomena of daily life that has gone far to produce the stolid fatalism of the masses, the scoffing skepticism of the more educated classes" and from time to time the revolt of some nobler minds? Of such the most recent and perhaps the
noblest of all became the founder of Bábíism.
Chapter XI, page 120—
The Báb was dead, but not Bábíism. He was not the first, and still less the last, of a long line of martyrs who have testified that even in a country gangrened with corruption and atrophied with indifferentism like Persia, the soul of a nation survives, inarticulate, perhaps, and in a way helpless, but still capable of sudden spasms of vitality.
Chapter XI, page 124—
Socially one of the most interesting features of Bábíism is the raising of woman to a much higher plane than she is usually admitted to in the East. The Báb himself had no more devoted a disciple than the beautiful and gifted lady, known as Qurratu’l-‘Ayn, the “Consolation of the Eyes,” who, having shared all the dangers of the first apostolic missions in the north, challenged and suffered death with virile fortitude, as one of the Seven Martyrs of Ṭihrán. No memory is more deeply venerated or kindles greater enthusiasm than hers, and the influence which she yielded in her lifetime still inures to her sex.
VII.   By Albert Vail.
Quotation from Heroic Lives, page 305—
Prof. Jowett of Oxford, Master of Balliol, the translator of Plato, studied the movement and was so impressed thereby that he said: “The Bábite (Bahá’í) movement may not impossibly turn out to have the promise of the future." Dr. J. Estlin Carpenter quotes Prof. Edward Caird, Prof. Jowett’s successor as Master of Balliol, as saying, “He thought Bábíism (as the Bahá’í movement was then called) might prove the most important religious movement since the foundation of Christianity.“ Prof. Carpenter himself gives a sketch of the Bahá’í movement in his recent book on Comparative Religion and asks, “Has Persia, in the midst of her miseries, given birth to a religion that will go around the world?”
VIII.   By Alfred W. Martin.
Excerpts from Comparative Religion and the Religion of the Future, pages 81-91—
Inasmuch as a fellowship of faiths is at once the dearest hope and ultimate goal of the Bahá’í movement, it behooves us to take cognizance of it and its mission .... Today this religious movement has a million and more adherents, including people from all parts of the globe and representing a remarkable variety of race, color, class and creed. It has been given literary expression in a veritable library of Asiatic, European, and American works to which additions are annually made as the movement grows and grapples with the great problems that grow out of its cardinal teachings. It has a long roll of martyrs for the cause for which it stands, twenty thousand in Persia alone, proving it to be a movement worth dying for as well as worth living by.
From its inception it has been identified with Bahá’u’lláh, who paid the price of prolonged exile, imprisonment, bodily suffering, and mental anguish for the faith he cherished — a man of imposing personality as revealed in his writings characterized by intense moral earnestness and profound spirituality, gifted with the selfsame power so conspicuous in the character of Jesus, the power to appreciate people ideally, that is, to see them at the level of their best and to make even the lowest types think well of themselves because of potentialities within them to which he pointed, but of which they were wholly unaware; a prophet whose greatest contribution was not any specific doctrine he proclaimed, but an informing spiritual power breathed into the world through the example of his life and thereby quickening souls into new spiritual activity.
Surely a movement of which all this can be said deserves—nay, compels—our respectful recognition and sincere appreciation.
. . . Taking precedence over all else in its gospel is the message of unity in religion .... It is the crowning glory of the Bahá’í movement that, while deprecating sectarianism in its preaching, it has faithfully practiced what it preached by refraining from becoming itself a sect. . . . Its representatives do not attempt to impose any beliefs upon others, whether by argument or bribery; rather do they seek to put beliefs that have illumined their own lives within the reach of those who feel they need illumination. No, not a sect, not a part of humanity cut off from all the rest, living for itself and aiming to convert all the rest into material for its own growth; no, not that, but a leaven, causing spiritual fermentation in all religions, quickening them with the spirit of catholicity and fraternalism.
. . . Who shall say but that just as the little company of the Mayflower, landing on Plymouth Rock, proved to be the small beginning of a mighty nation, the ideal germ of a democracy which, if true to its principles, shall yet overspread the habitable globe, so the little company of Bahá’ís exiled from their Persian home may yet prove to be the small beginning of a world-wide movement, the ideal germ of democracy in religion, the Universal Church of Mankind?
IX.   By Prof. James Darmester.
Excerpt from Art in “Persia: A Historical and Literary Sketch” (translated by G. K. Nariman), and incorporated in Persia and Parsís, Part I, edited by G. K. Nariman. Published under patronage of the Irán League, Bombay, 1925. (The Marker Literary Series for Persia, No. 2)—
The political reprieve brought about by the Súfís did not result in the regeneration of thought. But the last century which marks the end of Persia has had its revival and twofold revival, literary and religious. The funeral ceremonies by which Persia celebrates every year for centuries—the fatal day of the 10th of Mohorrum, when the son of ‘Alí breathed his last at Karbilá—have developed a popular theatre and produce a sincere poetry, dramatic and human, which is worth all the rhetoric of the poets. During the same times an attempt at religious renovation was made, the religion of Bábíism. Demoralized for centuries by ten foreign conquests, by the yoke of a composite religion in which she believed just enough to persecute, by the enervating influence of a mystical philosophy which disabled men for action and divested life of all aim and objects, Persia has been making unexpected efforts for the last fifty-five years to re-make for herself a virile ideal. Bábíism has little of originality in its dogmas and mythology. Its mystic doctrine takes its rise from Súfísm and the old sects of the Aliides formed around the dogma of divine incarnation. But the morality it inculcates is a revolution. It has the ethics of the West. It suppresses lawful impurities which are a great barrier dividing Islám from Christendom. It denounces polygamy, the fruitful source of Oriental degeneration. It seeks to reconstitute the family and it elevates man and in elevating him exalts woman up to his level. Bábíism, which diffused itself in less than five years from one end of Persia to another, which was bathed in 1852 in the blood of its martyrs, has been silently progressing and propagating itself. If Persia is to be at all regenerate it will be through this new faith.
X.   By Charles Baudouin.
Excerpts from Contemporary Studies, Part III, page 131. (Allan & Unwin, London, 1924.)—
We Westerners are too apt to imagine that the huge continent of Asia is sleeping as soundly as a mummy. We smile at the vanity of the ancient Hebrews, who be-
lieved themselves to be the chosen people. We are amazed at the intolerance of the Greeks and the Romans, who looked upon the members of all races as barbarians. Nevertheless, we ourselves are like the Hebrews, the Greeks and the Romans. As Europeans we believe Europe to be the only world that matters, though from time to time we may turn a paternal eye towards America, regarding our offspring in the New World with mingled feelings of condescension and pride.
Nevertheless, the great cataclysm of 1914 is leading some of us to undertake a critical examination of the inviolable dogma that the European nations are the elect. Has there not been of late years a demonstration of the nullity of modern civilization-the nullity which had already been proclaimed by Rousseau, Carlyle. Ruskin, Tolstoy, and Nietzsche? We are now inclined to listen more attentively to whispers from the East. Our self-complacency has been disturbed by such utterances as that of Rabandrinath Tagore. who, lecturing at the Imperial University of Tokio on June 18, 1916, foretold a great future for Asia. The political civilization of Europe was “carnivorous and cannibalistic in its tendencies.” The East was patient, and could afford to wait till the West, “hurry after the expedient.” had to halt for want of breath. “Europe, while busily speeding to her engagements, disdainfully casts her glance from her carriage window at the reaper reaping his harvest in the field, and in her intoxication of speed, cannot but think him as slow and ever receding backwards. But the speed comes to its end, the engagement loses its meaning, and the hungry heart clamors for food, till at last she comes to the lonely reaper reaping his harvest in the sun. For if the office can not wait, or the buying and selling, or the craving for excitement—love waits, and beauty, and the wisdom of suffering and the fruits of patient devotion and reverent meekness of simple faith. And thus shall wait the East till her time comes.”
Being thus led to turn our eyes towards Asia, we are astonished to find how much we have misunderstood it; and we blush when we realize our previous ignorance of the fact that, towards the middle of the nineteenth century, Asia gave birth to a great religious movement — a movement signalized for its spiritual purity, one which has had thousands of martyrs, one which Tolstoy has described. H. Dreyfus, the French historian of this movement, says that it is not “a new religion,” but “religion renewed,” and that it provides “the only possible basis for a mutual understanding between religion and free thought.” Above all, we are impressed by the fact that, in our own time, such a manifestation can occur, and that the new faith should have undergone a development far more extensive than that undergone in the same space of time nearly two thousand years ago, by budding Christianity.
. . . At the present time, the majority of the inhabitants of Persia have, to a varying extent, accepted the Bábíist faith. In the great towns of Europe, America, and Asia, there are active centers for the propaganda of the liberal ideas and the doctrine of human community, which form the foundations of Bahá’íst teaching.
We shall not grasp the full significance of this tendency until we pass from the description of Bahá’ísm as a theory to that of Bahá’ísm as a practice, for the core of religion is not metaphysics, but morality.
The Bahá’íst ethical code is dominated by the law of love taught by Jesus and by all the prophets. In the thousand and one details of practical life, this law is subject to manifold interpretations. That of Bahá’u’lláh is unquestionably one of the most comprehensive of these, one of the most exalted, one of the most satisfactory to the modern mind. . . .
That is why Bahá’u’lláh is a severe critic of the patriotism which plays so large a part in the national life of our day. Love of our native land is legitimate, but this love must not be exclusive. A man should love his country more than he loves his house (this is the dogma held
by every patriot); but Bahá’u’lláh adds that he should love the divine world more than he loves his country. From this standpoint, patriotism is seen to be an intermediate stage on the road of renunciation, an incomplete and hybrid religion, something we have to get beyond. Throughout his life Bahá’u’lláh regarded the ideal universal peace as one of the most important of his aims. . . .
. . . Bahá’u’lláh is in this respect enunciating a novel and fruitful idea. There is a better way of dealing with social evils than by trying to cure them after they have come to pass. We should try to prevent them by removing their causes, which act on the individual, and especially on the child. Nothing can be more plastic than the nature of the child. The government’s first duty must be to provide for the careful and efficient education of children, remembering that education is something more than instruction. This will be an enormous step towards the solution of the social problem, and to take such a step will be the first task of the Baytu’l‘Ad’l (House of Justice). “It is ordained upon every father to rear his son or his daughter by means of the sciences, the arts, and all the commandments; and if anyone should neglect to do so, then the members of the council, should the offender be a wealthy man, must levy from him the sum necessary for the education of his child. When the neglectful parent is poor, the cost of the necessary education must be borne by the council, which will provide a refuge for the unfortunate.”
The Baytu’l‘Ad’l, likewise, must prepare the way for the establishment of universal peace, doing this by organizing courts of arbitration and by influencing the governments. Long before the Esperantists had begun their campaign, and more than twenty years before Nicholas II had summoned the first Hague congress, Bahá’u’lláh was insisting on the need for a universal language and courts of arbitration. He returns to these matters again and again: “Let all the nations become one in faith, and let all men be brothers, in order that the bonds of affection and unity between the sons of men may be strengthened. . . . What harm can there be in that? . . . It is going to happen. There will be an end to sterile conflicts, to ruinous wars; and the Great Peace will come!” Such were the words of Baha'u'llah in 1890, two years before his death.
While adopting and developing the Christian law of love, Bahá’u’lláh rejected the Christian principle of ascetism. He discountenanced the macerations which were a nightmare of the Middle Ages, and whose evil effects persist even in our own days . . . .
Bahá’ísm, then, is an ethical system, a system of social morality. But it would be a mistake to regard Bahá’íst teaching as a collection of abstract rules imposed from without. Bahá’ísm is permeated with a sane and noble mysticism; nothing could be more firmly rooted in the inner life, more benignly spiritual; nothing could speak more intimately to the soul, in low tones, and as if from within. . . .
Such is the new voice that sounds to us from Asia; such is the new dawn in the East. We should give them our close attention; we should abandon our customary mood of disdainful superiority. Doubtless, Bahá’u’lláh’s teaching is not definitive. The Persian prophet does not offer it to us as such. Nor can we Europeans assimilate all of it; for modern science leads us to make certain claims in matters of thought — claims we cannot relinquish, claims we should not try to forego. But , even though Bahá’u’lláh’s precepts (like those of the Gospels) may not fully satisfy all these inteIlectual demands; they are rarely in conflict with our scientific outlooks. If they are to become our own spiritual food, they must be supplemented, they must be re-lived by the religious spirits of Europe, must be re-thought by minds schooled in the Western mode of thought. But, in its existing form, Bahá’íst teaching may serve, amid our present chaos, to open for us a road leading to solace and to comfort; may restore our confidence in the spiritual destiny of man. It reveals to us how the
human mind is in travail; it gives us an inkling of the fact that the greatest happenings of the day are not the ones we were inclined to regard as the most momentous, not the ones which are making the loudest noise.
XI.   Dr. Henry H. Jessup, D.D.
From the World’s Parliament of Religions; Volume II, 13th Day, under Criticism and Discussion of Missionary Methods, page 1122. At the Columbian Exposition of 1893, at Chicago. Edited by the Rev. John Henry Barrows, D. D. (The Parliament Publishing Company, Chicago, 1893.)—
This, then, is our mission: that we who are made in the image of God should remember that all men are made in God’s image. To this divine knowledge we owe all we are, all we hope for. We are rising gradually toward that image, and we owe to our fellowmen to aid them in returning to it in the Glory of God and the Beauty of Holiness. It is a celestial privilege and with it comes a high responsibility, from which there is no escape.
In the Palace of Bahjí, or Delight, just outside the Fortress of ‘Akká, on the Syrian coast, there died a few months since, a famous Persian sage, the Bábí Saint, named Bahá’u’lláh—the “Glory of God”—the head of that vast reform party of Persian Muslims, who accept the New Testament as the Word of God and Christ as the Deliverer of men, who regard all nations as one, and all men as brothers. Three years ago he was visited by a Cambridge scholar and gave utterance to sentiments so noble, so Christlike, that we repeat them as our closing words:
“That all nations should become one in faith and all men as brothers; that the bonds of affection and unity between the sons of men should be strengthened; that diversity of religions should cease and differences of race be annulled. What harm is there in this? Yet so it shall be. These fruitless strifes, these ruinous wars shall pass away, and the ‘Most Great Peace’ shall come. Do not you in Europe need this also? Let not a man glory in this, that he loves his country; let him rather glory in this, that he loves his kind.”
XII.   By The Right Hon.
The Earl Curzon.
Excerpts from Persia, Vol. I, pages 496-504. (Written in 1892.)—
Beauty and the female sex also lent their consecration to the new creed and the heroism of the lovely but ill-fated poetess of Qazvín, Zerin-Taj (Crown of Gold) or Qurratu’l-‘Ayn (Solace of the Eyes), who, throwing off the veil, carried the missionary torch far and wide, is one of the most affecting episodes in modern history. . . . The lowest estimate places the present number of Bábís in Persia at half a million. I am disposed to think, from conversations with persons well qualified to judge, that the total is nearer one million. They are to be found in every walk of life, from the ministers and nobles of the Court to the scavenger or the groom, not the least arena of their activity being the Mussulman priesthood itself. It will have been noticed that the movement was initiated by Siyyids, Hájís and Mullás, i. e., persons who, either by descent, from pious inclination, or by profession, were intimately concerned with the Muḥammadan creed; and it is among even the professed votaries of the faith that they continue to make their converts. . . . Quite recently the Bábís have had great success in the camp of another enemy, having secured many proselytes among the Jewish populations of the Persian towns. I hear that during the past year (1891) they are reported to have made 150 Jewish converts in Ṭihrán, 100 in Hamadán, 50 in Káshán, and 75 per cent of the Jews at Gulpáyigán. . . . The two victims, whose names were Hájí Mírzá Hassan and Hájí Mírzá Ḥusayn, have been renamed by the Bábís: Sulṭánu’sh-Shuhadá’, or King of Martyrs, and Maḥbúbu’sh-Shuhadá’, or Beloved of
Bahá’ís of Persia
Martyrs—and their naked graves in the cemetery have become places of pilgrimage where many a tear is shed over the fate of the “Martyrs of Iṣfáhán.” . . . It is these little incidents, protruding from time to time their ugly features, that prove Persia to be not as yet quite redeemed, and that somewhat staggers the tall-talkers about Iranian civilization. If one conclusion more than another has been forced upon our notice by the retrospect in which I have indulged, it is that a sublime and murmuring [?] devotion has been inculcated by this new faith, whatever it be. There is, I believe, but one instance of a Bábí having recanted under pressure of menace of suffering, and he reverted to the faith and was executed within two years. Tales of magnificent heroism illumine the bloodstained pages of Bábí history. Ignorant and unlettered as many of its votaries are, and have been, they are yet prepared to die for their religion, and fires of Smithfield did not kindle a nobler courage than has met and defied the more refined torture-mongers of Ṭihrán. Of no small account, then, must be the tenets of a creed that can awaken in its followers so rare and beautiful a spirit of self-sacrifice. From the facts that Bábíism in its earliest years found itself in conflict with the civil powers and that an attempt was made by Bábís upon the life of the Sháh, it has been wrongly inferred that the movement was political in origin and Nihilist in character. It does not appear from a study of the writings either of the Báb or his successors, that there is any foundation for such a suspicion. . . . The charge of immorality seems to have arisen partly from the malignant inventions of opponents, partly from the much greater freedom claimed for women by the Báb, which in the oriental mind is scarcely dissociable from profligacy of conduct. . . . If Bábíism continues to grow at its present rate of progression, a time may conceivably come when it will oust Muḥammadanism from the field in Persia. . . . Since its recruits are won from the best soldiers of the garrison whom it is attacking, there is greater reason to believe that it may ultimately prevail. . . . The pure and suffering life of the Báb, his ignominous death, the heroism and martyrdom of his followers, will appeal to many others who can find no similar phenomena in the contemporaneous records of Islám....
XIII.   By Sir Francis Younghusband.
Excerpts from The Gleam. (1923.—
The story of the Báb, as Mírzá ‘Alí Muḥammad called himself, was the story of spiritual heroism unsurpassed in Svabhava’s experience; and his own adventurous soul was fired by it. That a youth of no social influence and no education should, by the simple power of insight, be able to pierce into the heart of things and see the real truth, and then hold on to it with such firmness of conviction and present it with such suasion that he was able to convince men that he was the Messiah and get them to follow him to death itself, was one of those splendid facts in human history that Svabhava loved to meditate on. This was a true hero whom he would wish to emulate and whose experiences he would profit by. The Báb’s passionate sincerity could not be doubted, for he had given his life for his faith. And that there must be something in his message that appealed to men and satisfied their souls, was witnessed to by the fact that thousands gave their lives in his cause and millions now follow him.
If a young man could, in only six years of ministry, by the sincerity of his purpose and the attraction of his personality, so inspire rich and poor, cultured and illiterate, alike, with belief in himself and his doctrines that they would remain staunch, though hunted down and without trial sentenced to death, sawn asunder, strangled, shot, blown from guns; and if men of high position and culture in Persia, Turkey and Egypt in numbers to this
day adhere to his doctrines, his life must be one of those events in the last hundred years which is really worth study. And that study fortunately has been made by the Frenchman Gobineau and by Professor E. G. Browne, so that we are able to have a faithful representation of its main features . . . .
Thus, in only his thirtieth year, in the year 1850, ended the heroic career of a true God-man. Of the sincerity of his conviction that he was God-appointed, the manner of his death is the amplest possible proof. In the belief that he would thereby save others from the error of their present beliefs he willingly sacrificed his life. And of his power of attaching men to him, the passionate devotion of hundreds and even thousands of men who gave their lives in his cause, is convincing testimony. . . .
He himself was but “a letter out of that most mighty book, a dewdrop from that limitless ocean.” The One to come would reveal all mysteries and all riddles. This was the humility of true insight. And it has had its effect. His movement has grown and expanded, and it has yet a great future before it.
During his six years of ministry, four of which were spent in captivity, he had permeated all Persia with his ideas. And since his death the movement has spread to Turkey, Egypt, India and even into Europe and America. His adherents aren ow numbered by millions. The spirit which pervades them, says Professor Browne, “is such that it cannot fail to affect most powerfully all subject to its influence.”
XIV.   Excerpt from The Christian Commonwealth, January 22, 1913: “‘Abdu’l-Bahá at Oxford”—
‘Abdu’l-Bahá addressed a large and deeply interested audience at Manchester College, Oxford, on December 31. The Persian leader spoke in his native tongue, Mírzá Aḥmad Sohrab interpreting. Principal Estlin Carpenter presided, and introduced the speaker by saying that they owed the honour and pleasure of meeting ‘Abdu’l-Bahá to their revered friend, Dr. Cheyne, who was deeply interested in the Bahá’í teaching. The movement sprung up during the middle of the last century in Persia, with the advent of a young Muḥammadan who took to himself the title of the Báb (meaning door or gate, through which men could arrive at the knowledge or truth of God), and who commenced teaching in Persia in the year 1844. The purity of his character, the nobility of his words, aroused great enthusiasm. He was, however, subjected to great hostility by the authorities, who secured his arrest and imprisonment, and he was finally executed in 1850. But the movement went on, and the writings of the Báb, which had been copious, were widely read. The movement has been brought into India, Europe, and the United States. It does not seek to create a new sect, but to inspire all sects with a deep fundamental love. The late Dr. Jowett once said to him that he had been so deeply impressed with the teachings and character of the Báb that he thought Bábíism, as the present movement was then known, might become the greatest religious movement since the birth of Christ.
“In the bold and repeated testimonies which Her Majesty, Queen Marie of Rumania, has chosen to give to the world, we truly recognize evidences of the irresistible power, the increasing vitality, the strange working of a Faith destined to regenerate the world. Her Majesty’s striking tribute paid to the illuminative power of the Teachings of Bahá’u’lláh and ‘Abdu’l-Bahá is bound to effect an entire transformation in the attitude of many to a Faith the tenets of which have often been misunderstood and sorely neglected. It will serve as a fresh stimulus to the enlightened and cultured to investigate with an open mind the verities of its message, the source of its life-giving principles.”—Shoghi.
YOU have, most of you, I presume, read with thrilling joy in one of the recent issues of the Star of the West that illuminating account given by our beloved sister, Miss Martha Root, wherein she tells with her characteristic directness and modesty the story of her moving interview with Her Majesty Queen Marie of Rumania and of the cordial and ready response which her gentle yet persuasive presentation of the principles of the Bahá’í Faith has evoked in the heart of that honored Queen. One of the visible and potent effects which this historic interview proved capable of achieving was the remarkable appeal in the form of open letters which Her Majesty freely and spontaneously caused to be published to the world at large testifying in a language of exquisite beauty to the power and sublimity of the Message of Bahá’u’lláh . . . .
With bowed heads and grateful hearts we recognize in this glowing tribute which Royalty has thus paid to the Cause of Bahá’u’lláh an epoch-making pronouncement destined to herald those stirring events which, as ‘Abdu’l-Bahá has prophesied, shall in the fullness of time signalize the triumph of God's holy Faith. . . .
Moved by an irresistible impulse, I have addressed to Her Majesty in the name of the Bahá’ís of both the East and the West a written expression of our joyous admiration and gratitude for the queenly tribute which Her Majesty has paid to the beauty and nobility of the Bahá’í Teachings. I have, moreover, assured Her Majesty of the far-reaching effect which her superb testimony will inevitably produce, and of the welcome consolation it has already brought to the silent sufferers in the distracted country of Persia. To my message of appreciation and gratitude there has come lately a written response, penned by Her Majesty, profoundly touching, singularly outspoken, and highly significant in the testimony it bears. From this queenly tribute to a Divine Ideal I quote these penetrating words:
“Indeed a great light came to me with the Message of Bahá’u’lláh and ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. It came as all great messages come at an hour of dire grief and inner con-
flict and distress, so the seed sank deeply. . . . We pass on the Message from mouth to mouth and all those we give it to see a light suddenly lighting before them and much that was obscure and perplexing becomes simple, luminous and full of hope as never before. That my open letter was balm to those suffering for the Cause is indeed a great happiness to me, and I take it as a sign that God accepted my humble tribute. . . . With bowed head I recognize that I too am but an instrument in greater Hands and rejoice in the knowledge . . . .”
(Signed) Shoghi.
Haifa, Palestine,
October 7, 1926.
A WOMAN brought me the other day a Book. I spell it with a capital letter because it is a glorious Book of love and goodness, strength and beauty.
She gave it to me because she had learned I was in grief and sadness and wanted to help. . . . She put it into my hands saying: “You seem to live up to His teachings.” And when I opened the Book I saw it was the word of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, prophet of love and kindness, and of his father the great teacher of international good-will and understanding—of a religion which links all creeds.
Their writings are a great cry toward peace, reaching beyond all limits of frontiers, above all dissension about rites and dogmas. It is a religion based upon the inner spirit of God, upon that great, not-to-be-overcome verity that God is love, meaning just that. It teaches that all hatreds, intrigues, suspicions, evil words, all aggressive patriotism even, are outside the one essential law of God, and that special beliefs are but surface things whereas the heart that beats with divine love knows no tribe nor race.
It is a wondrous Message that Bahá’u’lláh and his son ‘Abdu’l-Bahá have given us. They have not set it up aggressively knowing that the germ of eternal truth which lies at its core cannot but take root and spread.
There is only one great verity in it: Love, the mainspring of every energy, tolerance towards each other, desire of understanding each other, knowing each other, helping each other, forgiving each other.
It is Christ’s Message taken up anew, in the same words almost, but adapted to the thousand years and more difference that lies between the year one and today. No man could fail to be better because of this Book.
I commend it to you all. If ever the name of Bahá’u’lláh or ‘Abdu’l-Bahá comes to your attention, do not put their writings from you. Search out their Books, and let their glorious, peace-bringing, love-creating words and lessons sink into your hearts as they have into mine.
One’s busy day may seem too full for religion. Or one may have a religion that satisfies. But the teachings of these gentle, wise and kindly men are compatible with all religion, and with no religion.
Seek them, and be the happier.
By Marie, Queen of Rumania.
(From the Toronto Daily Star,
May 4, 1926.)
OF course, if you take the stand that creation has no aim, it is easy to dismiss life and death with a shrug and a “that ends it all; nothing comes after.”
But how difficult it is so to dismiss the universe, our world, the animal and vegetable world, and man. How clearly one sees a plan in everything. How unthinkable it is that the miraculous development that has brought man’s body, brain and
spirit to what it is, should cease. Why should it cease? Why is it not logical that it goes on? Not the body, which is only an instrument, but the invisible spark or fire within the body which makes man one with the wider plan of creation.
My words are lame, and why should I grope for meanings when I can quote from one who has said it so much more plainly, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, who I know would sanction the use of his words:
“The whole physical creation is perishable. Material bodies are composed of atoms. When these atoms begin to separate, decomposition sets in. Then comes what we call death.
“This composition of atoms which constitutes the body or mortal element of any created being, is temporary. When the power of attraction which holds these atoms together is withdrawn, the body as such ceases to exist.
“With the soul it is different. The soul is not a combination of elements, is not composed of many atoms, is of one indivisible substance and therefore eternal.
“It is entirely out of the order of physical creation; it is immortal! The soul, being an invisible, indivisible substance, can suffer neither disintegration nor destruction. Therefore there is no reason for its coming to an end.
“Consider the aim of creation: Is it possible that all is created to evolve and develop through countless ages with merely this small goal in view—a few years of man’s life on earth? Is it not unthinkable that this should be the final aim of existence? Does a man cease to exist when he leaves his body? If his life comes to an end, then all previous evolution is useless. All has been for nothing. All those eons of evolution for nothing! Can we imagine that creation had no greater aim than this?
“The very existence of man’s intelligence proves his immortality. His intelligence is the intermediary between his body and his spirit. When man allows his spirit, through his soul, to enlighten his understanding, then does he contain all creation; because man being the culmination of all that went before, and thus superior to all previous evolutions, contains all the lower already-evolved world within himself. Illumined by the spirit through the instrumentality of the soul, man’s radiant intelligence makes him the crowning-point of creation!”
Thus does ‘Abdu’l-Bahá explain to us the soul—the most convincing elucidation I know.
By Marie, Queen of Rumania.
(From the Toronto Daily Star,
September 28, 1926.)
AT first we all conceive of God as something or somebody apart from ourselves. We think He is something or somebody definite, outside of us, whose quality, meaning and so-to-say “personality” we can grasp with our human, finite minds, and express in mere words.
This is not so. We cannot, with our earthly faculties entirely grasp His meaning—no more than we can really understand the meaning of Eternity.
God is certainly not the old Fatherly gentleman with the long beard that in our childhood we saw pictured sitting amongst clouds on the throne of judgment, holding the lightning of vengeance in His hand.
God is something simpler, happier, and yet infinitely more tremendous. God is All, Everything. He is the Power behind all beginnings. He is the inexhaustible source of supply, of love, of good, of progress, of achievement. God is therefore Happiness.
His is the voice within us that shows us good and evil.
But mostly we ignore or misunderstand this voice. Therefore did He choose his Elect to come down amongst us upon earth to make clear His word, His real
meaning. Therefore the Prophets; therefore Christ, Muḥammad, Bahá’u’lláh, for man needs from time to time a voice upon earth to bring God to him, to sharpen the realization of the existence of the true God. Those voices sent to us had to become flesh, so that with our earthly ears we should be able to hear and understand.
Those who read their Bible with “peeled” eyes will find in almost every line some revelation. But it takes long life, suffering or some sudden event to tear all at once the veil from our eyes, so that we can truly see. . . .
Sorrow and suffering are the surest and also the most common instructors, the straightest channel to God—that is to say, to that inner something within each of us which is God.
Happiness beyond all understanding comes with this revelation that God is within us, if we will but listen to His voice. We need not seek Him in the clouds. He is the All-Father whence we came and to whom we shall return when, having done with this earthly body, we pass onward.
If I have repeated myself forgive me. There are so many ways of saying things, but what is important is the Truth which lies in all the many ways of expressing it.
By Marie, Queen of Rumania.
(From the Philadelphia Evening Bulletin,
Monday, September 27, 1926.)
Group of Bahá’í children of Aleppo, Syria
Group of Bahá’í children of Aleppo, Syria
I.Bahá’í National Spiritual Assemblies.
II.Leading Local Bahá’í Centers.
III.Bahá’í Groups.
IV.Bahá’í Administrative Divisions in Persia.
V.Bahá’í Periodicals.
VII.Transliteration of Oriental Terms
Frequently Used in Bahá’í
Delegates and friends attendiung the Twentieth Annual Convention of the Bahá’ís of the United States and Canada—assembled in the Foundation Hall of the Mashriqu’l-Adhkár at Wilmette, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago—April 26-30, 1928.
[This list has been compiled by the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of the United States and Canada for use by local secretaries and committees in their Bahá’í correspondence. Any omission or inaccuracy should be reported at once to Secretary, National Spiritual Assembly, P. O. Box 89, Wall Street Station, New York, N . Y ., U. S. A.—Editors].
National Assembly of the Bahá’ís of Caucasus,
Care of Mr. Ziaolláh Asgharzadeh, 4 Victoria Avenue,
Bishopsgate, London, E. C. 2, England.
National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of Egypt,
Care of Muḥammad Effendi Takí Iṣfáhání, rue Marjoosh, Cairo, Egypt.
National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of Germany,
Care of Frau Consul Schwarz, 3 Alexanderstrasse, Stuttgart, Germany.
National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of Great Britain,
Care of Mr. G. P. Simpson, 58 North End Road, London, N. W. 11, England.
National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of India and Burma,
Care of Hashmatullah, Hawadia, Chakla, Surat, India.
National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of ‘Iráq,
Care of ‘Abdu’l-Razaak ‘Abbás, Customs House, Baghdad, ‘Iráq.
National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of Persia,
Care of Mirzá Ghulam ‘Alí Davachi, Avenue Naserrieh, Ṭihrán, Persia.
National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of Turkistán,
Care of Mr. Ziaolláh Asgharzadeh, 4 Victoria Avenue,
Bishopsgate, London, E. C. 2, England.
National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of the United States and Canada,
Care of Mr. Horace Holley, P. O. Box 89, Wall Street Station, New York, N. Y.,
United States of America.
With Names and Addresses of Secretaries
Corrected to April 30, 1928.
Adelaide: Mrs. Maysie Almond, Box 420, G. P. O., (South Australia).
Brisbane: Mrs. N. Midgley, Hilda Street, Corinda.
Melbourne: Mrs. Amy Thornton, 61 Tivoli Road, South Yarra.
Perth, W. A.: Mrs. M. A. Juleff, 44 Coogee Street, Mt. Hawthorne, Leederville.
Sydney, N. S. W.: Miss M. B. Dixson, Wyrallah Flats, 143 Avoca Street, Randwick.
Brazil, S. A—
Bahia: Miss Leonora Holsapple, Baixa da Graca 25.
Burma (see India and Burma)—
Canada (see United States and Canada)—
Shanghai: Mirzá H. H. Ouskouli, 41 a Kiangse Road.
Port Said: Mohed Mustapha, E. S. Telegraphs.
London: Mr. George P . Simpson, 58 North End Road, N. W. 11.
Manchester: Mrs. Lucy Sugar, 16 Lily Street, Crumpsall.
Manchester: Mr. J. c. Craven, 27 Derby Street, Altrincham, Cheshire.
Dorset: Sister Challis, Ridvan, Blandford Road, Broadstone.
Paris: Mr. Edwin Scott, 17 rue Boissonade.
(See list of local centers on page 187. The names of secretaries and correspondents have not been received in time for publication.)
India and Burma—
P . O. Kunjangoon, (Dist. Hanthawaddy): Bahá’í Assembly, U. Son, Sec’y, V. Daidanaw-Kalazoo.
Mandalay: Bahá’í Assembly No.9, 34th Street.
Rangoon: The Bahá’í Assembly, P. O. Box 299.
Bombay: The Bahá’í Assembly, P. O. Box 470.
Calcutta: The Bahá’í Assembly, P. O. Box 10213.
Camp Karachi: The Bahá’í Assembly, 1059 Elphinstone Street.
Poona: The Bahá’í Assembly, care of National Hotel.
Kobe: Mr. Sanzo Mioawa, 40 Uramachi, Kyoriuchi.
Seoul: The Bahá’ís of Seoul, 112 Kandoug.
New Zealand—
Auckland: Miss Margaret B. Stevenson, Clunie, 3 Cowie Road, Parnell.
Haifa: The Bahá’í Assembly, care of Soheil Afnán, Bahá’í Community.
Hamadán: Care of Hájí Mehdi Yari.
Kirmán: Care of Khodadad Kikhosrow.
shán: Care of Bahman Khoda Murad & Co. (Payman).
Mashhad : Care of Mírzá ‘Abdu’l Hossein Maḥmud Zadeh, Koutche Bagh Anbar.
Sulṭán-Ábád (Aragh): Care of Mírzá ‘Alí Agha Shírází, care of the Imperial Bank of Persia.
Moscow: Care of Kázim Zade Kázim Ruḥání, Moscow, U. R. S. S., care of Postale N 592.
South Africa—
Pretoria: Care of H. Vernon Durose, Pretoria Bahá’í Assembly, 220 Johann Street, Arcadia.
Assembly of Lausanne: Care of Mme. Beck, 3 Caroline.
Alexandretta: Mr. H. Káshání, P. O . Box 25.
Beirut: Care of Zabiholláh Ghorban, American University of Beirut.
Hobart: Care of Miss Greta Lamprill, “Newlands”, Toorak Road.
Constantinople: Care of Noury Sadik Bey, Boite Postale No. 167 Galata.
United States and Canada—
Berkeley: Miss Margaret E. Cooley, care of Bahá’í Library, 1199 Spruce Street.
Geyserville: Mrs. Edith Whitton, Route 1.
Glendale: Mrs. Grace R Lamb, 1131 North Jackson Street.
Los Angeles: Mrs. Sara E. Witt, 2403 South Cochran Avenue.
Oakland: Miss Lottie M. Linfoot, 1419 Harrison Street.
Pasadena: Mrs. S. W. French, 501 Bellefontaine Street.
San Francisco: Miss Elizabeth L. Duffy, 1121 Bush Street.
Visalia: Miss Jane A. Barker, 1501 West Main Street.
Montreal: Bahá’í Assembly, 747 St. Catherine Street, West.
Vancouver, B. C.: Mrs. Evelyn Kemp, 803 Sylvia Court.
Denver: Mrs. Josephine H. Clark, 2136 South Columbine Street.
New Haven: Mrs. Chas. P. Hillhouse, 462 First Avenue, West Haven.
Washington, D. C.—
Miss Elizabeth G. Hopper, 1910 Kalorama Road, N. W.
St. Augustine: Mrs. Anna E. Daniels, 124 Central Avenue.
Honolulu: Honolulu Bahá’í Assembly, 1834 Nuuanu Avenue.
Maui: Mrs. Katherine Brown, Makawao.
Chicago: Mrs. Fannie G. Lesch, 2705 Mildred Avenue.
Peoria: Miss Sarah L. Phelps, 209 North Underhill Street.
Urbana: Mrs. H. A. Harding, 704 W. Nevada Street.
Wilmette: Mr. Edward D. Struven, 112 Linden Avenue.
Eliot: Mr. Philip A. Marangella, Farmer Road.
Baltimore: Mrs. F. W. Hipsley, 2803 Allendale Road.
Boston: Mr. Bishop Brown, 1875 Commonwealth Avenue.
Springfield: Mrs. Mary B. St. Laurent, 90 Elm Street, Westfield.
Worcester: Mrs. Howard Struven, 166 Heard Street.
Detroit: Mrs. Mabelle L. Davis, 4321 Fourth Avenue.
Home where the Bahá’í study class is held every week in Honolulu, Hawaii
Home where the Bahá’í study class is held every week in Honolulu, Hawaii
Michigan—( Continued)
Fruitport: Mrs. Mary Frazer, Box 149.
Lansing: Mr. W. E. Werner, Route 5, Williamston.
Muskegon: Mrs. W. J. Moorman, 1461 Clinton Street.
Minneapolis: Mrs. Rudolph Steinmetz, 1311 West 24th Street.
New Hampshire—
Portsmouth: Mrs. Jessie I. Crockett, 214 Aldrich Road.
New Jersey—
Montclair: Mrs. Victoria Bedikian, P. O. Box 179.
Newark: Mrs. William Witman, 534 Central Avenue, East Orange.
West Englewood: Mr. Albert Walkup, 457 Rutland Avenue.
New York—
Buffalo: Miss N. Grace Bissell, 703 West Ferry Street.
Geneva: Mrs. W. J. McKay, R. D. 2.
Ithaca: Miss Hettey B. Townley, 241 South Cayuga Street.
New York City: Miss Bertha L. Herklotz, Bahá’í Center, 119 West 57th Street.
Yonkers: Mrs. Julia Ross, 196 Martini Avenue.
Akron: Mrs. Alice Bacon, 24 Ambrose Court.
Cincinnati: Miss Hilda Stauss, 3640 Epworth Avenue, Westwood.
Cleveland: Mrs. Dale S. Cole, 3174 Corydon Road.
Portland: Mr. J.W. Latimer, 409 Board of Trade Building.
Philadelphia: Miss Jessie E. Revell, 2531 North 19th Street.
Seattle: Mrs. Ida A. Finch, 217 Bay Building.
Spokane: Mrs. Isabelle M . Campbell, 1427 South Madison Street.
Kenosha: Mr. Louis J . Voelz, 6108 Sheridan Road.
Milwaukee: Miss Beula Brown, 1078 Murray Avenue.
Racine: Mr. Andrew J. Nelson, 2013 Carmel A venue.
With Names and Addresses of Correspondents
Graz: Mr. Adolf Fontana, Kirchengasse, 14.
Vienna: Mr. Franz Pollinger, Grillparzerstrasse, 14.
Vienna: Herr Dr. Hugo Maier, Althanplatz 9/8.
Hongkong: Tswi Pei, Manager, Bank of China.
Copenhagen: Miss Johanna Sorensen, St. Kongensgade 110C.
Alexandria: Dr. M. Basheer, 3 rue Moharrem Bey.
Fiji Islands—
Labasa: Miss Nora Lee, care of Colonial Sugar Refining Co.
Paris: Mons. Hippolyte Dreyfus-Barney,rue Greuze, 15.
Paris: Mme. Gaston Hesse, 27 rue de Ramuset, Auteuil.
Portofino (Mare): (In summer only), Mrs. E. R. Mathews, Villa San Martino.
Florence: Mrs. Emogene Hoagg, care of Thos. Cook & Son.
Kobe: Mr. Susumu Aibara, Yama-Ashiya, Muko-gun.
Tokyo: Kanae Takesita, Higasi Okubo.
Petrinja (Capraz): Mr. Phi P. Opatchitch.
Philippine Islands—
Manila: Mr. Teodoro R. Yangco, 421 Muelle de la Industria.
Leningrad: Isabel Grinerskaya, Prosp. Nahimson, No. 10 Log. 32.
Moscow: M. Zabihulláh Namdar, Petrovka 15, Kv. 24.
Society Islands—
Papeete, Tahiti: Mr. Ernest Marchal.
Boviken: Mrs. Anna Rudd.
Uddevalla: Mr. W. M. Kjellman.
Vand: Dr. A. Forel, Yvorne.
Aleppo: Mejdidden Chelebi Zade, Medrest-ul-Farookie.
Care of Shaykh Muhyiddin, care of M. T. Iṣfáhání, Marjorish Street, Cairo, Egypt.
United States and Canada—
Clear Lake Highlands: Mrs. Flora M. Clark, Box 7.
Santa Barbara: Mrs. Henrietta Wagner, 1115 Anacapa Street.
Stanford University: Miss Marion Holley, 351 Roble Hall.
Miami: Mrs. Olive E. Kretz, 121 South East First Street.
Augusta: Miss Margaret Klebs, Leonard Building.
Atlanta: Dr. J. C. Oakshette, 405 Grand Building.
Belvidere: Dr. Edward Fernald, 414 South State Street.
Springfield: Mrs. Rieke Jurgens, 420 W. Reynolds Street.
Keokuk: Mrs. Glenn Carlson, 1206 Orleans Avenue.
Duluth: Mr. E. Bauers, 624 Arlington Avenue, Duluth Heights.
St. Paul: Miss Estelle E. Barnett, 969 Fairmount Avenue.
Butte: Mrs. Betty Cutts, 829 West Broadway.
Omaha: Mrs. Florence E. Olds, 4015 Hamilton Street.
New Jersey—
Asbury Park: Miss Jane Durand, 1305 Comstock Street.
Jersey City: Mr. F. G. Hale, 258 Woodlawn Avenue.
New York—
Rochester: Miss Elizabeth Brooks, 29 Strathallen Park.
Dayton: Mrs. J. T. McVey, 27 Grafton Avenue.
Sandusky: Mrs. Jennie Field, 1106 Decatur Street.
Pittsburgh: Mr. J. C. Robinson, 66 Main Street, Carrick.
Madison: Mrs. Joel Stebbin,. Observatory Hill.
Baku, Ganjih, Bátúm, Sálíyan, Shiráván, Naftálán, Darband, Petrovki, Erivan, Chíní, Khíllí, Kúgcháy, Burda‘, Shamákhí, Shakkí, Bálá-Khání, Tiflis.
Cairo, Alexandria, Yeddah. Ismá‘ilíyyíh, Assiut, Qawmu’s-Sa‘áyidih, Kufri‘z-Zayyat, Kufri‘d-Dawwar, Ṣaffaṭ‘l-‘Inab, Atyayi’l-Bárúd.
Berlin-Charlottenburg, Berlin-Schoeneberg, Berlin-Schmargendorf, Dresden, Esslingen, Fellbach, Freiburg, Freundenstadt, Gera-Reuss, Gross-Strehlitz, Goppingen, Hamburg, Heilbronn, Jena, Karlsruhe, Krewzweg, Laudan, Leipzig-Gholis, Neuenburg, Reutlingen, Rostock, Schorndorf, Schwerin, Stuttgart, Warnemunde, Zuffenhausen, Gera, Biberach, Coblenz, Gotha, Stettin, Ludwigshafen, Ulm, Geislingen, Frankfurt, Hanover, Weimar.
India and Burma—
V. Daidanaw-Kalazoo, Surat, Haydarabad, Cawnpore, Amritzar, Delhi, Kyigon.
Rome, Florence, Como, Torino, Genoa, Portofino.
Baghdád, ‘Aváshiq, Baṣrih, Huwaydar, Ya‘qúbíyyih, Adhuábih, Násiríyyih.
‘Akká, Yaffa, Jerusalem.
Persia—(See be1ow)—
Geneva, Yvorne (Vaud), Zurich.
Aleppo, Damascus, Birijik, Ainṭab, Marsine.
Adana, Trebizond.
‘Ishqábád, Táshkand, Qahqahih, Charjú, Bukhárá, Samarqand, Takht-i-Bázár, Yúlṭán, Andíján, Gul-Tapih, Aryúl, Marqílán, Ártiq, Birám-‘Alí, Kislavodski, Marv, Tajan.
As fixed by the Delegates to the first Bahá’í Convention
Ṭihrán, May 23, 1927
I.Ṭihrán Division: centre 1. Ṭihrán,
includes: 2. Hasan-Ábád, 3. Ja‘far-Ábád, 4. ‘Alí-Ábád, 5. Díyá-Ábád, 6. Khání-Ábád, 7. Ismá‘íl-Ábád, 8. Yakhshí-Ábád, 9. Kamálíyyih, 10. Jalálíyyih, 11. Sháhzádih-‘Abdu’l-‘Aẓím, 12. Qum, 13. Sangsar, 14. Simnán, 15. Shahmírzád, 16. Sháhrúd, 17. Dámghán, 18. Táliqan, 19. Ávih, 20. Naráq, 21. Jásb, 22. Maḥalláṭ.
II.Ádhirbáyján Division: centre 1. Tabríz,
includes: 2. Míyín-Duíb, 3. Qichlú, 4. Ághchih-Dízaj and Malik-Kandí, 5. Bumáb, 6. Ravasht, 7. Marághih, 8. Shíshván, 9. Gawgán, 10. Mamiqán,
A Group of Bahá’ís of Ṭihrán, Persia
11. Ílkhchí, 12. Uokú and Mílán and Bavíl, 13. Khuy, 14. Pír-Kandí, 15. Iv-Ughlí, 16. Vishlaq, 17. Riḍáíyyih, 18. Marand, 19. Zunúz, 20. Khámnih, 21. Khalkhál, 22. Míyánij, 23. Sísán, 24. Bábá-Kandí, 25. Duznáb, 26. Maṭanih, 27. Ardibíl, 28. Qarih-Shírán, 29. Qara-Dágh, 30. Julfá, 31. Ástará, 32. Sawchiblágh, 33. Saráb.
III.Khurásán Division: centre 1. Mashhad,
includes: 2. Sharíf-Ábád, 3. Ḥusayn-Ábád, 4. Sirakhs, 5. Kalát, 6. Bulán, 7. Chahchahih, 8. Naṣr-Ábád, 9. Bákhizir, 10. Turbat-i-Haydaríyyih, 11. Biṭrú, 12. Závih, 13. Furúgh, 14. Mahnih, 15. Míyándihí, 16. Katih-Talkh, 17. Khayr-Ábád, 18. Marghzár, 19. Ẓáhír-Ábád and Azghand, 20. Dawlat-Ábád, 21. Gul-bú, 22. Rashkhár, 23. Turshíz, 24. Shafí‘-Ábád, 25. Námiq, 26. Kúh-i-Surkh, 27. Kákhk and Gunábád, 28. Ḥiṣár, 29. Qalú, 30. Júymand, 31. Bajistán, 32. Tún-i-Fárán, 33. Bághistán, 34. Basṭáq, 35. Sih-Qál‘ih, 36. Burún, 37. Bushrúyih , 38. Khayru’l-Qurá, 39. Ṭabas, 40. Raqqih, 41. Múrdastán, 42. Hújand, 43. Shahr-i-Bírjand, 44. Qáyin, 45. Khusf, 46. DiraKhsh, 47. Sarcháh, 48. Riḍván, 49. Ásyábán, SO. Khuvaynak, 51. Dastajirdmúd, 52. Zírak, 53. Khuráshád, 54. Nawfirist, 55. Sangard, 56. Síkán, 57. Mihdí-Ábád, 58. Nawqáb, 59. Bágh-i-Sunqur, 60. Kákán, 61. Qal‘ih-Kan, 62. Chashmih, 63. Máhan, 64. Gúgchí, 65. Sang, 66. Bídakht, 67. Ḥusayn-Ábád, 68. Sístán, 69. Duzdáb, 70. Qúchán, 71. Bájgírán, 72. Shíraván, 73. Bujnúrd, 74. Gífán, 75. Jájarm, 76. Muḥammad-Ábád-i-Darijaz, 77. Luṭf-Ábád, 78. Níshábúr, 79. Ma‘múrí, 80. Farrukh, 81. Dastjird, 82. Isḥáq-Ábád, 83. Rúḥ-Ábád, 84. Sar-Viláyat, 85. Ma‘dan, 86. Sabzivár, 87. Sadkhard, 88. Kúshk-i-Bágh, 89. Rubáṭ-i-Gaz, 90. Zarqán, 91. Ṣafí-Ábád, 92. Ja‘far-Ábád, 93. Juvayn, 94. Kúb-Mísh, 95. Dávarzan, 96. Búdbám.
IV.Fars Division: centre 1. Shíráz,
includes: 2. Sarvistán, 3. Jahrum, 4. Nayríz, 5. Qasr-i-Dasht, 6. Shams-Ábád-i-Takht, 7. Sarvistán-i-Bavánát, 8. Ábádih, 9. Himmat-Ábád, 10. Darghúk, 11. Kúshkak, 12. Zarqán, 13. Fárúq, 14. Fasá, 15. Dáráb, 16. Dáryán, 17. Shams-Ábád-Burzú, 18. Fatḥ-Ábád, 19. Qalát, 20. Suryán-i-Bavánát.
V.Kirmán Division: centre 1. Kirmán,
includes: 2. Rafsinján, Bahrám-Ábád, 3. Sírján and Isfand-Ábád, 4. Bam, 5. Anár, 6. Báft, 7. Qaryatu’l-‘Arab, 8. Ḥatrúd, 9. Rávar, 10. Rábur, 11. Ḥasan-Ábád, 12. Himmat-Ábád, 13. Kamál-Ábád, 14. Zarand, 15. Qal‘ih-‘Askar.
VI.Gílán Division: centre 1. Rasht,
includes: 2. Bandar-i-Pahlaví, 3. Láhíján, 4. Langrúd, 5. Síyáhgil-Dílmán, 6. Shahsavár, 7. Sangar, 8. Rúd-i-sar.
VII.Mázindarán Division : centre 1. Sárí,
includes: 2. Bárfurúsh, 3. Bahnmír, 4. ‘Arab-Khayl, 5. Máhfurúzak, 6. Araṭíh, 7. Chálih-Zamín, 8. Kafshgar-Kulá, 9. Chakaknár, 10. Ashraf, 11. Mashhad-Sar, 12. Ámul, 13. Kapúr-Chál, 14. Khár-Kulá, 15. Dári-Kulá, 16. Aḥarsáq, 17. Núr and Tákur, 18. Sárú-Kulá, 19. Shírgáh, 20. Ayúl.
VIII.Astarábád Division centre 1. Bandar-i-Jaz.
IX.Khuzistán Division: centre 1. Ahváz,
includes: 2. Ábádán, 3. Muḥammarih, 4. Hindíján, 5. Shúshtar, 6. Dizfúl.
X.Isfáhán Division: centre 1. Isfáhán,
includes: 2. Najaf-Ábád, 3. Burújan, 4. Qahfarakh, 5. Dih-Gird, 6. Shah-Riḍá, (Qumishih), 7. Diháqán, 8. Jaz, 9. Naḥíyiy-i-Baláy-i-Firaydan, 10. Ardistán, 11. Zavárih, 12. Sardih, 13. Dawlat-Ábád, 14. Linján.
XI.Kirmánsháhán Division: centre 1. Kirmánsháhán,
includes: 2. Qaṣr-i-Shírín, 3. Karand, 4. Saqqiz, 5. Dínvar, 6. Ṣaḥnih, 7. Sanandij, 8. Qaravih, 9. Bíjár, 10. Ṣáyin-Qal‘ih, 11. Kangávar, 12. Sunqur.
XII.Qazvín Division: centre 1. Qazvín,
includes: 2. Ishtihárd, 3. Kulih-Darih, 4. Kakín, 5. Muḥammad-Ábád, 6. Qadím-Ábád, 7. Sarmáyih, 8. Amín-Ábád, 9. Sirás, 10. Bak-Kandí, 11. Naw-dih, 12. Zanján, 13. Abhar.
XIII.Hamadán Division : centre 1. Hamadán,
includes: 2. Amzájird, 3. Bahár, 4. Lálih-Chín, 5. Ḥusayn-Ábád, 6. Ughíchlú, 7. Sárí-Qámísh, 8. Chapiglú, 9. Asad-Ábád, 10. Maláyír, 11. Nahávand, 12. Tuysirkán, 13. Burújird, 14. Khurram-Ábád.
XIV.‘Iráq Division: centre 1. Sulṭán-Ábád,
includes: 2. Sháh-Ábád, 3. Varqá, 4. Khalaj-Ábád, 5. Ámirú, 6. Áshtíyán, 7. Ghurkán, 8. Gulpáyigán, 9. Kirú, 10. Khunsár, 11. Khamsín, 12. Zulf-Ábád.
XV.Yazd Division: centre 1. Yazd,
includes: 2. Ardikán, 3. Ḥusayn-Ábád, 4. Kasnúyih and Muḥammad-Ábád, 5. ‘Izz-Ábád, 6. Maryam-Ábád, 7. Mihdí-Ábád, 8. Qásim-Ábád, 9. Taft, 10. Manshád, 11. Dahaj, 12. Marvast, 13. Isfand-Ábád, 14. Jandaq and Bíyábának, 15. Sístának, 16: Námuk, 17. Aḥmad-Ábád, 18. Búrak, 19. ‘Alí-Ábád and Karím-Ábád, 20. Haydar-Ábád, 21. Bulúk-i-Rustáq and Haydar-Ábád, 22. Mihdí-Ábád-i-Rustáq, 23. Allah-Ábád, 24. Shamsí, 25. Fírúz-Ábád, 26. Nuṣrat-Ábád, 27. Tarsí-Ábád, 28. Kúchih-Bídak, 29. Khurramsháh, 30. Khayr-Ábád, 31. Na‘im-Ábád, 32. Muḥammad-Ábád-i-Cháhak, 33. Khuvaydak, 34. Mazra‘íyíh-Siyyid-Mírzá, 35. Mihríz, 36. Cham and Mubárakih, 37. Khudá-Ábád, 38. Khalíl-Ábád, 39. Dih-Bálá, 40. Hurmuzak, 41. Sakhvíd, 42. Shahr-i-Bábak, 43. Faráqih, 44. Mirzad, 45. Gird-Kúh.
XVI.XVI. Banádir-i-Junúb Division: centre 1. Búshihr,
includes: 2. Burázján, 3. Bandar-i-Langih, 4. Bandar-i-‘Abbás.
XVII.XVII. Káshán Division: centre 1. Káshán,
includes:: 2. Árán, 3. Qamsar, 4. Núsh-Ábád, 5. Kashih, 6. Ṭarq, 7. Ábyánih, 8. Júshiqán, 9. Naṭanz, 10. Bídgil, 11. Ṭár.
Magazines Published by Bahá’í Institutions
The Bahá’í Magazine—Star of the West. Official magazine of the Bahá’ís of the United States and Canada. Founded by Albert Windust and Gertrude Buikema in Chicago, 1910; now in Washington, D. C. Stanwood Cobb, Editor; Mariam Haney, Associate Editor; Margaret McDaniel, Business Mananger. Address: 706 Otis Building, Washington, D .C.
Die Sonne der Wahrheit—Official magazine of the Bahá’ís of Germany. Published at Stuttgart. Frau Alice Schwarz, Editor. Address: Alexanderstrasse 3.
The Dawn—A monthly Bahá’í Journal of Burma. Edited and published by Siyyid Mustafa Roumie. Contents in English, Persian and Burmese. Address: No. 2-B, 41st Street, Rangoon, Burma.
The Herald of the South—The Bahá’í magazine for New Zealand and Australia. Address: “Clunie,” 3 Cowie Road, Parnell, Auckland, New Zealand.
La Nova Tago (The New Day)—The International Bahá’í-Esperanto Magazine, published four times a year by the Esperanto Committee of the Bahá’í Assembly of Hamburg, Germany. Address: Octaviostrasse 21, Wandsbek, Hamburg, Germany.
Balun Weltzemeinschaft — Published quarterly by the Committee on Education of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of Germany.
Bahá’í News Letter—The bulletin of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of the United States and Canada.
Das Rosengaertlein—Published for children by the Committee on Education of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of Germany.
Mitteilungen—The bulletin of the Bahá’í Assembly of Hamburg, Germany.
Khurshid-i-Kávar—Magazine published by the Bahá’í Spiritual Assembly of ‘Ishqábád, Turkistan.
All Bahá’í books in the English language can be obtained from Bahá’í Publishing Committee, P. O. Box 348, Grand Central Station, New York City, N. Y., U. S. A. (Catalogs sent on request.)
(Formerly Bahá’í Year Book)
The biennial international record of current Bahá’í activities, published by the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of the United States and Canada, under the supervision of Shoghi Effendi. Secretary of Editorial Committee, Albert Windust, 610 West Van Buren Street, Chicago, Illinois, U. S. A.
Map showing Travels of the Báb and Bahá’u’lláh. (Designed by J. F. Clevenger, Washington, D. C.)
Map showing Travels of the Báb and Bahá’u’lláh.
(Designed by J. F. Clevenger, Washington, D. C.)
Books and pamphlets published under Bahá’í auspices or approved
by a responsible Bahá’í Body
Published and Distributed by the Publishing Committee of the
National Spiritual Assembly.
Hidden Words, the essence of the teachings of all the Prophets. Translated by Shoghi Effendi. Leather cover, also paper cover.
The Book of Assurance (Book of Iqán), explaining the oneness of all the Prophets and their significance as the expression of the Will of God. Cloth cover. .
Tablets of Bahá’u’lláh (Ṭarázát, The Tablet of the World, Kalimát, Tajallíyát, Bishárát, Ishráqát), social and spiritual principles of the new age. Cloth cover.
Three Tablets of Bahá’u’lláh (Tablet of the Branch, Kitáb-i-‘Ahd, Lawḥ-i-Aqdas), the appointment of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá as the interpreter of the teachings of Bahá’u’lláh, the Testament of Bahá’u’lláh, and His Message to the Christians. Paper cover.
Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, a work written by Bahá’u’lláh in His last years, addressed to the son of a prominent Persian who had been a savage enemy of the Cause. This Tablet recapitulates many teachings Bahá’u’lláh had revealed in earlier works. (Translated by Julie Chanler.) Bound in cloth and parchment.
Seven Valleys, the stages passed by travelers on the path of spiritual progress. Paper cover.
Prayers, containing also Prayers by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. Paper cover.
Tablets of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá (compiled by Albert Windust), intimate letters written in reply to questions addressed by individuals and groups. Volume Two. (Volumes One and Three temporarily out of print). Cloth cover.
The Promulgation of Universal Peace (compiled by Howard MacNutt), public addresses delivered throughout the United States and Canada in 1912. This work contains ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s spiritual message to the American people, whom He summoned to establish the “Most Great Peace,” which is the consummation of the ideals of all religionists, scientists and humanitarians. In two volumes. Cloth cover.
The Wisdom of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá (compiled by Lady Blomfield, and previously published under the title of “Paris Talks”) a brief but comprehensive presentation of His message. Cloth cover, also paper cover.
Some Answered Questions (compiled by Laura Clifford Barney), an exposition of fundamental spiritual and philosophic problems. Cloth cover.
Chapter on Strikes, a supplement to the above.
Mysterious Forces of Civilization, a work addressed to the people of Persia nearly forty years ago to show the way to true progress. Cloth cover.
Divine Philosophy (compiled by Isabel Fraser Chamberlain), selected addresses delivered in Paris on the eve of the Great War.
‘Abdu’l-Bahá in London (compiled by Eric Hammond) , a record of public and private addresses delivered in 1911.
‘Abdu’l-Bahá in New York, containing selected addresses delivered at Columbia University and various churches and public meetings in 1912.
Tablets to Japan, a collection of letters written by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá to Japanese and to Americans serving the Cause in Japan. Foreword by Agnes Alexander.
Tablet to The Hague, a letter written in 1919 to the Central Organization for a Durable Peace.
‘Abdu’l-BaháPrayers and Tablets of , collected and translated by Shoghi Effendi.
Bahá’í Scriptures (compiled by Horace Holley), selected from available writings of Bahá’u’lláh and ‘Abdu’l-Bahá and arranged in nine chapters according to subject; with glossary and index. 576 pages. Cloth cover.
The Divine Art of Living (compiled by Mrs. Mary Rabb), passages from writings of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, selected particularly for their power to inspire the seeking heart. Published by Brentano’s. 191 pages. Cloth cover, also paper cover.
The Foundations of World Unity, selected addresses delivered by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá at Universities, Churches, Synagogues, Peace Societies and similar public meetings during His journey through America in 1912. Paper cover.
No.9 Compilation, available in thirteen languages, 16 pages.
Miniature No.9 Compilation.
Education, a compilation from teachings of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá made by a committee of the National Assembly in 1923. 21 legal-size mimeographed pages.
God and His Manifestations (compiled by Mrs. J. W. Gift), an outline for the study of such Bahá’í topics as the need of a Manifestation, the signs of His appearance, His influence upon civilization, the proofs of His cause, etc. Paper cover.
The Oneness of Mankind (compiled by Louis G. Gregory and Mariam Haney), selections from words of Bahá’u’lláh and ‘Abdu’l-Bahá on inter-racial amity. 64 pages. Paper cover.
The Spirit of World Unity, selections from words of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in America on religious, racial and scientific subjects. 24 pages. Paper cover.
Thoughts that Build, by Rev. J . Storer, (published by Macmillan), a compilation of passages from ancient and modern spiritual writings, arranged with one page for each day throughout the year. Many selections from Bahá’u’lláh and ‘Abdu’l-Bahá are included. With index of authors. Cloth cover.
Spiritual Opportunity of the Bahá’ís of the United States and Canada, reprint of Tablets written by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in 1916 and 1917, with excerpts from words of Bahá’u’lláh, Bahíyyih Khánum and Shoghi Effendi.
Tablets to Japan (compiled by Agnes Alexander), messages of instruction and encouragement written by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá to believers in Japan.
Bahá’í Administration, a work compiled by the National Spiritual Assembly to present the original sources of instruction on the duties and responsibilities of believers, in their relations to the local, national and international bodies
of the Cause. Part One: Excerpts from the Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá; Part Two: Letters from Shoghi Effendi to the American National Spiritual Assembly and the body of believers from January 21, 1922, to October 18, 1927; Part Three: Declaration of Trust by the National Spiritual Assembly; index. 155 pages. Cloth cover.
Bahá’í Year Book, volume one, a record of activities from April, 1925 to April, 1926, with articles on various Bahá’í institutions, newly translated teachings, photographs, etc. 174 pages. Cloth cover.
The Bahá’í World: A biennial international record of Bahá’í activities from April, 1926, to April, 1928 (formerly "Bahá’í Year Book"). Cloth cover.
Episodes in My Life, by Munírih Khánum, wife of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, a witness to the providential spirit directing the Bahá’í Cause in its most trying days.
The Brilliant Proof, by Mírzá Abu’l-Faḍl of Gulpáyigán, a refutation of an attack on the Cause by a Protestant missionary. Contains both English and Persian text. Paper cover.
Bahá’u’lláh and the New Era, by J. E. Esslemont, M. B., Ch. B., F. B. E. A., an authoritative and comprehensive survey of Bahá’í history and teachings as related to present religious, scientific and social conditions in Europe and America, with many quotations from the writings, and a bibliography and index. Leather cover, also paper cover.
Bahá’u’lláh and His Message, by J. E. Esslemont, briefly outlining the spiritual message of the new day.
The Universal Religion, by Hippolyte Dreyfus, an introductory work on the Bahá’í Cause by a French orientalist, who has translated many of the writings of Bahá’u’lláh.
Addresses by Jináb-i-Fádil, a series of lectures by a Persian scholar appointed by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá to teach the principles of the Bahá’í Cause in America. (Nos. 4 and 5 only.)
Lessons in Religion, by Shaykh Muḥammad-‘Alí Qá’iní, prepared especially for children. Translated by Edith Roohie Sanderson.
The Oriental Rose, by Mary Hanford Ford, a vivid presentation of historical aspects of the Bahá’í Movement.
Unity Triumphant, by Elizabeth Herrick, the Revelation of Bahá’u’lláh as the fulfillment of Christianity, with extensive quotations and bibliography.
Universal Consciousness of the Bahá’í Religion, by C. Mason Remey, a new and enlarged edition of the pamphlet previously published under the title of "The New Day." 60 pages.
Twelve Articles Introductory to the Study of the Bahá’í Teachings, by C. Mason Remey, including chapters on the founders of the Movement, the writings, the organization, relation to the Religions of the Orient, worship, etc. 182 pages. Cloth cover.
What is the Bahá’í Movement? a brief explanation by Dr. J. E. Esslemont. Published also in Yiddish, Dutch and Russian.
Bahá’í: The Spirit of the Age, by Horace Holley, presenting the Bahá’í Movement and teachings as the synthesis of all modern movements.
Dawn of Knowledge and The Most Great Peace, by Paul Kingston Dealy, the Bahá’í Cause and ancient prophecy. Paper cover.
The Bahá’í Movement: Its Spiritual Dynamic, by Albert Vail, reprint of a magazine article.
The World of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, by Mary Hanford Ford, conveying ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s vision of social justice.
Martyrdoms in Persia in 1903, by Hájí Mírzá Ḥaydar-‘Alí, relating the circumstances in which seventy Persian Bahá’ís were martyred.
Bird’s-Eye View of the World in the Year 2000, a reprint of article by Orrol Harper in the Bahá’í Magazine.
The Call of God, by George Latimer, the significance of the return of the Messenger.
The Bahá’í Faith, by a Methodist layman, questions and answers suggested by personal experience.
The Bahá’í Religion, a reprint of the two Bahá’í papers presented at the Conference on Some Living Religions Within the British Empire. 24 pages. Paper cover.
‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s First Days in America, intimate and beautiful glimpses of the Master, from the diary of Juliet Thompson. 40 pages. Printed by The Roycrofters.
God’s Heroes, by Laura Clifford Barney, a drama written around the great Bahá’í heroine and martyr, the poetess Qurratu'l-'Ayn. Illuminated in Persian style. 106 pages. Cloth cover.
The Mashriqu’l-Adhkár and the Bahá’í Movement, by Jean Masson, explaining the significance of the Bahá’í House of Worship.
The Dream of God, a poem by Albert Durrant Watson.
Religions of the Empire, edited by W. Loftus Hare (published by Duckworth, London), the addresses delivered by representatives of the several religions invited to participate in the Conference on Some Living Religions Within the British Empire held at the Imperial Institute, London, England, from September 22 to October 3, 1924. Includes the two papers read on the Bahá’í Cause. 519 pages. Cloth cover.
The Reality of Religion, a Tablet of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. 4-page leaflet.
What Went Ye Out For to See? by Thornton Chase, a letter written in reply to an inquiry from a Christian.
The Source of Spiritual Qualities, from words of Bahá’u’lláh. 4-page leaflet.
Bahá’í Persecutions in Persia, reprint of letter written to the Sháh by the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of the United States and Canada in 1926.
The Bahá’í Cause, eight-page pamphlet prepared by the National Teaching Committee for general distribution, with list of Bahá’í Assemblies.
Before Abraham Was, I AM! by Thornton Chase, an explanation of the Station of the Manifestation of God.
Greatest Name, on heavy card stock, suitable for framing.
Photograph of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, photo-engraving on good quality paper suitable for framing.
The Mashriqu’l-Adhkár (Bahá’í House of Worship) colored lithograph of the design by Louis Bourgeois, nine by twelve inches. Also framed under glass.
The Bahá’í Benediction, music and words by Louise R. Waite.
The Mashriqu’l-Adhkár, photo-engraving of design by Louis Bourgeois, on good quality paper suitable for framing.
The Mashriqu’l-Adhkár, colored lithograph of the design by Louis Bourgeois, post card size.
Books and pamphlets published in England, France, Germany, Russia, Egypt
and India, under Baha'i auspices.
THE COMING OF “THE GLORY,” by Florence E. Pinchon—being published by Simpkin, Marshall, Hamilton, Kent & Co., Ltd., London—has been highly endorsed by Shoghi Effendi. Books may also be obtained from the Bahá’í Publishing Committee, P. O. Box 348, Grand Central Station, New York City, N. Y., U. S. A .
Some Answered Questions. (See list one.) Published by Kegan, Paul.
Hidden Words of Bahá’u’lláh. (See list one.)
‘Abdu’l-Bahá in London. Addresses delivered by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá during His visit in London, with description of His life and activities.
Paris Talks. (See list one, “The Wisdom of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá.” Published by G. Bell & Son.
The Mysterious Forces of Civilization. (See list one.)
A Traveller’s Narrative. The Episode of the Báb translated by Prof. E. G. Browne, M. A., F. B. A., M. R. A . S. Cambridge University Press.
Brief Account of the Bahá’í Movement, by Ethel J. Rosenberg. Published by Burnside, Ltd.
The Splendour of God, by Eric Hammond. One of the Wisdom of the East series. Published by John Murray.
The Universal Religion, by Hippolyte Dreyfus, an introductory work on the Bahá’í Cause by a French orientalist who has translated many of the writings of Bahá’u’lláh.
What Is a Bahá’í? by J. E. Esslemont, a reprint of chapter three of his larger work. Published by Burnside, Ltd.
The Bahá’í Faith, by G. Palgrave Simpson.
The Passing of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. (See list one.)
The Reconciliation of Races and Religions, by Thos. Kelly Cheyne, Dr. Lit., D.D.
The Life and Teachings of ‘Abbás Effendi, by Myron H. Phelps. Published by Putnam & Sons. (Out of print.)
God’s Heroes, by Laura Clifford Barney. (See list one.)
Unity Triumphant, by Elizabeth Herrick. The Revelation of Bahá’u’lláh as the fulfillment of Christianity, with extensive quotations and bibliography. Published by Kegan, Paul.
Bahá’í: The Spirit of the Age, by Horace Holley. (See list one.) Published by Kegan, Paul.
Religions of the Empire, edited by W. Loftus Hare. Published by Duckworth (London). Addresses delivered by representatives of the several religions invited to participate in the Conference on Some Living Religions Within the British Empire, held at the Imperial Institute, London, England, from September 22 to October 3, 1924. Includes the two papers read on the Bahá’í Cause. 519 pages. Cloth cover.
Bahá’u’lláh and The New Era, by J. E. Esslemont. (See list one.) Published by George Allen & Unwin, Ltd.
The Modern Social Religion, by Horace Holley. Published by Sidgwick & Jackson. (Out of print.)
Le Beyan Arabe, traduit par A. L. M. Nicolas. Editions Leroux, Paris.
Le Beyan Persan, traduit par A. L. M. Nicolas. Librairie Genthuere, Paris. Quatre volumes.
L’oeuvre de Bahá’u’lláh, traduit par Hippolyte Dreyfus. Editions Leroux, Paris. Deux volumes. (A suivre.)
Essai sur le Behaisme, son histoire, la portee sociale, par Hippolyte Dreyfus. Editions Leroux, Paris.
L’Epitre au Fils du Loup, Bahá’u’lláh, traduction français par Hippolyte Dreyfus. Librarie Champion, Paris.
Le Behaisme, sa mission dans le monde, par Hippolye Dreyfus, Chez Timothei, Paris.
Les Lecons de St. Jean d’Acre, traduction français de “Some Answered Questions” by Laura Clifford Barney. Editions Leroux, Paris.
1. 1m Verlag des deutchen Bahá’í-Bundes. Stuttgart, Hölderlinstr. 35 erschienen—
Bahá’u’lláh: Das heilige Tablet, ein Sendschreiben an die Christenheit. Deutsch von Wilhelm Herrigel.
Bahá’u’lláh: Verborgene Worte. Deutsch von A. Schwarz und W. Herrigel. Nach der englischen Bearbeitung von Shoghi Effendi.
Bahá’u’lláh: Frohe Botschaften, Worte des Paradieses, Tablet Tarasat, Tablet Taschaliat, Tablet Ischrakat. Deutsch von Wilhelm Herrigel.
‘Abdu’l-Bahá: Eine Botschaft an die Juden. Deutsch von Wilhelm Herrigel.
‘Abdu’l-Bahá: Ansprachen über die Bahá’ilehre. (Ansprachen in Paris.) Deutsch von Wilhelm Herrigel.
Thornton Chase: Ehe Abraham war, war Ich. Deutsch von Wilhelm Herrigel.
Thornton Chase: Die Bahá’í-Offenbarung. Ein Lehrbuch. Deutsch von Wilhelm Herrigel.
I. D. Brittingham: Die Offenbarung Bahá’u’lláh’s. Deutsch von Wilhelm Herrigel.
Mírzá Abu’l-Faḍl: Geschichte ulld Wahrheitsbeweise der Bahá’í - religion. Deutsch von Wilhelm Herrigel.
Dr. jur. H. Dreyfus: Einheitsreligion. Ihre Wirkung auf Staat, Erziehung, Sozialpolitik, Frauenrechte und die einzelne Persönlichkeit. Deutsch von W. Herrigel.
Ch. M. Remey: Das neue Zeitalter. Deutsch von Wilhelm Herrigel.
Myron H. Phelps: ‘Abdu’l-Bahá ‘Abbás’ Leben und Lehren. Deutsch von Wilhelm Herrigel.
S. S.: Die Geschichte der Bahá’í-Bewegung. Deutsch von Wilhelm Herrigel.
Wilhelm Herrigel: Die Bahá’í-Bewegung im allgemeinen und ihre grossen Wirkungen in Indien. (enthaltend: S. S.: Ein Jahr unter den Bahá’í in Indien und Birma.)
Alice T. Schwarz: Die universale Weltreligion. Ein Blick in die Bahá’í-Lehre.
Dr. Hermann Grossmann: Die Soziale Frage und ihre Lösung im Sinne der Bahá’ílehre.
Bahá’í-Perlen: Deutsch von Wilhelm Herrigel.
Das Hinscheiden ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s. (The Passing of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá.) Deutsch von Alice T. Schwarz.
2. im Verlage der Weltgemeinschaft Deutscher Zweig, Wansbek, Schiller-str. la, erschienen—
Dr. Hermann Grossmann: Bahá’í-Erziehung (Schriften zur Bahá’í-Erziehung Nr. 1), 1924. Kostenlos.
Jos. der Schäferknabe. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá nacherzählt. (Rosengärtlein-Jugendbücher Nr. 1), 1924. Kostenlos.
Die Geschichte vom kleinen Vogel und andere Erzählungen aus dem Leben ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s. (Rosengärtlein-Jugendbücher Nr. 2, 1925.) Kostenlos.
3. von der Bahá’í-Bewegung Hamburg herausgegeben—
Dr. Hermann Grossmann: Gotteserkenntnis und Gottesbegriff, im Sinne der Bahá’í-Lehre erläutert. 81. Kostenlos.
Was ist Bahá’í-Bewegungf Flugblatt. Kostenlos.
Dro. Hermann Grossmann: Historio, instruoj kaj valoro de la Bahá’í-movado. (Publikajoj de la Esperanto-komitato de la Bahá’í-movado Hamburg Nr. 1.) 81-1925. Kostenlos.
4. sonstige Veröffentlichungen—
Ein Brief von Bahíyyih Khanum. Aus dem Englischen übersetzt von A. Schwarz, Stuttgart, 1924.
Dr. Adelbert Mühlschlegel: Melodrama zum dritten deutschen Bahá’í-Kongress 80. Stuttgart, 1924.
Dr. Adelbert Mühlschlegel: Ridván 81 Festspiel. Stuttgart, 1925.
Dro. Adelbert Mühlschlegel: Parolado en la dua Bahaa-kunveno en Genevo. Flugblatt. Stuttgart, 1925. Kostenlos.
Bahá’í-Congress, Stuttgart, 1924. Stuttgart, 1924.
5. Früher erschienene, jetzt vergriffene Veröffentlichungen—
Bahá’u’lláh: Das Tablet vom Zweig. Aus dem Englischen übersetzt von Fr. Schweizer. Zuffenhausen.
‘Abdu’l-Bahá ‘Abbás: Tablette allgemeiner Belehrung. Deutsche Uebersetzung von Fanny A. Knobloch. 1906.
‘Abdu’l-Bahá: Tablette an die Geliebten Gottes des Abendlandes. Deutsche Uebersetzung von Fanny A. Knobloch. 1906.
Mírzá Abu’l-Faḍl Gulpáyigán: Glänzender Beweis. Aus dem Englischen übersetzt von Friedrich Schweizer, Zuffenhausen.
Wilhelm Herrigel: Universaler Friede, universale Religion. Die Bahá’í-Bewegung, ihr Zweck und Ziel. 2. Auflage Stuttgart, 1915.
Wilhelm Herrigel: Die Zeichen unserer Zeit im Lichte der Bibel und der Bahá’ílehre. Stuttgart, 1916.
Religiose Lichtblicke: Einige Erläuterungen zur Bahá’í-Bewegung. Aus dem Französischen übersetzt von Albert Renftle. Stuttgart, 1916.
Die Bahá’í-Bewegung. Flugblatt. Karlsruhe.
Pastor Dr. Römer: Die Babi-Bahá’í. Verlag der deutschen Orient-mission, 1912. (Gegenschrift.)
Dr. F. C. Andreas: Die Babis in Persien. Ihre Geschichte und Lehre. Leipzig, 1896.
Partial List of Bahá’í Literature in Oriental Languages
The Book of Iqán. Bombay.
The Book of Mubín, Tablets of Bahá’u’lláh. Bombay.
The Book of Iqtidár, Tablets of Bahá’u’lláh. Bombay.
The Book of Aqdas. Bombay.
The Ishráqát, Tarázát, Tajalliát. Bombay.
Tablets from Bahá’u’lláh. Cairo.
The Book of Iqán. Cairo and Bombay.
Tablets and Prayers from Bahá’u’lláh. Cairo.
The Will and Testament of Bahá’u’lláh. Russia.
Some Answered Questions. London.
The Traveller’s Narrative. London.
The Muduniyyeh, by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. Cairo and Bombay.
The Siasiyyeh, by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. Cairo and Bombay.
The Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. Bombay.
The Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, Bahá’u’lláh. Cairo.
Seven Valleys, Four Valleys, and Poetry of Bahá’u’lláh, Cairo.
The Tablets of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Vol. 1. Cairo.
The Tablets of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Vol. 2. Cairo.
The Tablets of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Vol. 3. Cairo.
Some Answered Questions. Cairo.
Al-Fara’id, by Abu’l-Faḍl. Cairo.
Durer’l-Bahíyyih. Abu’l-Faḍl. Cairo.
The Letters of Abu’l-Faḍl. Cairo.
The History of Hájí Muḥammad Tahir. Cairo.
Dala’il-el-‘Irfan, Ḥaydar-‘Alí. Cairo.
Bihjet’l-Sudur, Ḥaydar-‘Alí. Cairo.
Hujaj’l-Bahíyyih, Abu’l-Faḍl. Cairo.
Bahr’l-‘Irfan, by Muḥammad Afshar. Bombay.
The History of Ṭahirih. Cairo.
The Travels of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Vol. 1 and 2, Maḥmúd Zarqani. Bombay.
The Early Tablets of Bahá’u’lláh, compiled by Baron Rosen, St. Petersburg.
Memorials of the Faithful, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. Haifa.
The Translation of Ishráqát, Tajalliát, Tarázát, and Kalimát. Bombay.
The Translation of the Tablet to the World of Bahá’u’lláh. Bombay.
The Seven Valleys. Bombay.
The Hidden Words. Bombay.
The Tablets of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá.
The Ishráqát, Tajalliát, Tarázát, and Kalimát. Cairo.
The Talks of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in Europe and America. Translation anonymous. Cairo.
Some Answered Questions. Instructions of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá.
Alphabetical List of Bahá’í Books and Pamphlets
Compiled by Bishop Brown
Le Beyan Arabe; Le Livre Sacre du Babysme de Seyyed Ali Mohammed Dit le Báb. French translation by A. L. M. Nicolas. Ernest Leroux, Paris, 1905.
Le Beyan Persan. French translation by A. L. M. Nicolas. Paris Librairie. 1 Vol. Paul Geuthner, 1911.
Le Livre des Sept Preuves de la Mission du Báb. French translation by A. L. M. Nicolas. Paris, 1902.
The Book of Assurance (Book of Iqán), Brentano’s, New York, 1925.
Hidden Words from the Arabic and Persian. Translated by Shoghi Effendi. Bahá’í Publishing Committee, New York,1924.
Epistle to the Son of the Wolf (translated by Mrs. Julie Chanler, Bahá’í Publishing Committee, New York, 1928.
Seven Valleys. Translated by ‘Alí-Kulí-Khán. Chicago.
Tablets of Bahá’u’lláh (Tarázát, Tablet of the World, Words of Paradise, Tajalliyát, the Glad Tidings, Ishráqát—The Most Great Infallibility). Translated by ‘Alí-Kulí-Khán. Bahá’í Publishing Society, Chicago, 1906.
Three Tablets of Bahá’u’lláh (The Branch, Kitáb-i-‘Ahd, Lawḥ-i-Aqdas). Translated by ‘Alí-Kulí-Khán. Bahá’í Publishing Society, Chicago, 1918.
Súratu’l-Haykal. Translated from the Arabic by Anton Haddad. Chicago, 1900.
The Source of Spiritual Qualities. Four-page leaflet. Bahá’í Publishing Committee, 1924.
L’Oeuvre de Bahá’u’lláh. 2 Vols. French translation by Hippolyte Dreyfus. Leroux, Paris, 1924.
L’Epitre au Fils du Loup. French translation by Hippolyte Dreyfus. Honore Champion, Paris, 1913.
‘Abdu’l-Bahá on Divine Philosophy (compiled by Isabel Chamberlain). Tudor Press, Boston, 1916.
‘Abdu’l-Bahá in London (compiled by Eric Hammond). Bahá’í Publishing Society, Chicago, 1921.
‘Abdu’l-Bahá in New York. Bahá’í Assembly, New York, 1922.
Letter and Tablet to the Central Organization for a Durable Peace: The Hague. Bahá’í Publishing Society, Chicago, 1920.
Letters to the Friends in Persia. Bahá’í Publishing Society, Chicago, January 21, 1906.
Definition of Love by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. Received at New York, December 7,1902.
Mysterious Forces of Civilization. Translated by Johanna Dawud. Bahá’í Publishing Society, Chicago, 1918.
The Promulgation of Universal Peace, (compiled by Howard MacNutt). 2 Vols. Bahá’í Publishing Society, Chicago, 1922 and 1925.
Tablets of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá (compiled by Albert Windust). 3 Vols. Bahá’í Publishing Society, Chicago, 1909, 1915, 1916.
Tablet to the Beloved of God in America. Translated by ‘Alí-Kulí-Khán. Cambridge, Mass., January 3, 1906.
Tablets by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá Abbás to House of Justice of Chicago, to the Ladies’ Assembly of Teaching, and others. Translated by ‘Alí-Kulí-Khán. Chicago, September 12, 1901.
Tablet to the Beloved of God of the Occident. Translated by Aḥmad Esphahani (Aḥmad Sohrab). Washington, D. C., September 8, 1906.
Tablets to the East and West. Translated by Aḥmad Esphahani (Aḥmad Sohrab) . The Bahá’í Assembly of Washington, D. C., 1908.
Tablets Containing Instructions. Translated by M. A. E. Washington, D. C., August 29, 1906.
Tablets Containing General Instructions. Translated by Aḥmad Esphahani (Aḥmad Sohrab). The Bahá’í Association of Washington, D. C., 1907.
Tablets to Some American Believers in the Year 1900. The Board of Council, New York, 1901.
Prayers and Tablets. 1906.
The Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. National Spiritual Assembly, 1925.
Some Answered Questions. Translated by Laura Clifford Barney. Bahá’í Publishing Society, Chicago, 1918.
Unveiling of the Divine Plan. Translated by Aḥmad Sohrab. Tudor Press, Boston, 1919.
Utterances to Two Young Men. Board of Council, New York, 1901.
Visiting Tablets for Martyrs Who Suffered in Persia. Translated by ‘Alí-Kulí-Khán. Bahá’í Board of Council, New York, 1901.
The Reality of Religion-Tablet of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. Four-page leaflet. Bahá’í Publishing Committee, 1924.
Wisdom of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá (Paris Talks). Edited by Lady Blomfield. Brentano’s, New York, 1924.
Wisdom Talks of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. Chicago. Bahá’í News Service.
Woman’s Great Station. An address given in New York in 1912.
Letters from Shoghi Effendi. Bahá’í Publishing Committee. New York, 1924.
Bahá’í Administration. Bahá’í Publishing Committee, New York, 1928.
Agnew, Arthur S.: Table Talks at ‘Akká. By ‘Abdu’l-Bahá ‘Abbás. Bahá’í Publishing Society, Chicago, 1907.
‘Alí, Ḥájí Mírzá Ḥaydar-: Bahá’í Martyrdoms in Persia in the Year 1903 A. D. Translated by Youness Khán. Bahá’í Publishing Society, Chicago, 1907.
Blomfield, Lady: The Passing of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá.
Brittingham, Isabella D.: The Revelation of Bahá’u’lláh. Bahá’í Publishing Society, Chicago, 1902.
Brittingham, James F.: The Message of the Kingdom of God. 1907.
Campbell, Helen: The Bahá’í Movement in Its Social-Economic Aspect. Bahá’í Publishing Society, Chicago, 1915.
Chase, Thornton: The Bahá’í Revelation. Bahá’í Publishing Society, Chicago, 1909.
Chase, Thornton: What Went Ye Out for to See?
Chase, Thornton, and Agnew, Arthur: In Galilee. Bahá’í Publishing Society, Chicago, 1908.
Dealy, Paul Kingston: The Dawn of Knowledge and the Most Great Peace. Bahá’í Board of Council, New York, 1903.
Dodge, Arthur Pillsbury: The Truth of It. Mutual Publishing Company, New York, 1901.
Dodge, Arthur Pillsbury : Whence? Why? Whither? Man! Things! Other Things! Ariel Press, Westwood, Mass., 1907.
Dreyfus, Hippolyte: The Universal Religion: Bahá’ísm. Bahá’í Publishing Society, London, 1909.
Esslemont, Dr. J. E.: Bahá’u’lláh and the New Era. Brentano’s. New York, 1923. Bahá’í Publishing Committee, New York, 1928.
Esslemont, Dr. J. E.: What Is a Bahá’í? American edition published by Louis Bourgeois, Chicago, 1921.
Faḍl, Abu’l-: Knowing God Through Love. Farewell address. Bahá’í Assembly, Washington.
Faḍl, Abu’l-: The Bahá’í Proofs. Translated by ‘Alí-Kulí-Khán. Bahá’í Publishing Society, Chicago, 1914.
Faḍl, Abu’l-: The Brilliant Proof. Bahá’í News Service, Chicago, 1912.
Fadil, Jinab-i-: Addresses. Booklets. 5 Nos. Translated by Aḥmad Sohrab. Seattle, 1921.
Fitzgerald, Nathan Ward: The New Revelation: Its Marvelous Message. Tacoma, 1905.
Finch, Ida: Rays from the Sun of Truth.
Flowers Culled from the Rose Garden of ‘Akká by Three Pilgrims in 1908.
Ford, Mary Hanford: The Oriental Rose. Bahá’í Publishing Society, 1910.
Fraser-Chamberlain, Isabel: From the World’s Greatest Prisoner to His Prison Friends. Tudor Press, Boston, 1916.
Goodall, Helen S., and Cooper, Ella G.: Daily Lessons Received at ‘Akká—1908. Bahá’í Publishing Society, Chicago, 1908.
Gregory, Louis G.: A Heavenly Vista.
Grundy, Julia M.: Ten Days in the Light of ‘Akká. Bahá’í Publishing Society, Chicago, 1907.
Haddad, Anton: Divine Revelation, the Basis of Civilization. Board of Council, New York, 1902.
Haddad, Anton: Message from ‘Akká.
Haddad, Anton: Maxims of Bahá’ísm. Board of Council, New York.
Haddad, Anton: Station of Manifestation.
Haney, Charles and Mariam: A Heavenly Feast.
Harris, W. Hooper: Lessons on the Bahá’í Revelation.
Holley, Horace, and Rúḥí Afnán: The Bahá’í Religion. Bahá’í Publishing Committee, New York, 1924.
Holley, Horace: Bahá’í—the Spirit of the Age. Brentano’s, New York, 1921.
Holley, Horace: Bahá’ísm—the Modern Social Religion. Mitchell Kennerly, New York, 1913.
Holley, Horace: The Social Principle. Laurence J. Gomme, New York, 1915.
Husayn, Mírzá ‘Abdu’l-: Letter written on behalf of the “Friends” of Isfáhán, Persia, to the American Believers. April 25, 1902.
Karim, ‘Abdu’l-, Effendi: Addresses delivered before the New York and Chicago Assemblies. Translated by Anton Haddad. Bahá’í Publishing Board, Chicago, 1900.
Khánum, Munírih: Episodes in the Life of. Translated by Aḥmad Sohrab. Persian-American Publishing Co., Los Angeles, 1924.
Latimer, George Orr: The Call of God. Bahá’í Publishing Society, Chicago.
Light of the World: By a group of Pilgrims. The Tudor Press, Boston, 1920.
Lucas, Mary L.: A Brief Account of My Visit to ‘Akká. Bahá’í Publishing Society, Chicago, 1905.
MacNutt, Howard: Unity Through Love. Bahá’í Publishing Society, Chicago, 1906.
Maxwell, May: An Early Pilgrimage, 1898. Bahá’í Publishing Society, Chicago, 1917.
Muḥammad, ‘Alí-Alkany-: Lessons in Religion. English translation by Edith Sanderson. Bahá’í Publishing Society, Chicago, 1923.
Peak, Margaret B.: My Visit to ‘Abbás Effendi in 1899. Grier Press, Chicago, 1911.
Phelps, Myron H.: Life and Teachings of ‘Abbás Effendi. G. P. Putnam, New York, 1912.
Prayers, Tablets, Instructions, etc., gathered by American visitors in ‘Akká, 1900.
Remey, Charles Mason: Twelve articles introductory to the study of the Bahá’í teachings.
Remey, Charles Mason: Universal Consciousness of the Bahá’í Religion.
Remey, Charles Mason: Letter from Honolulu. Privately printed. February 17, 1917.
Remey, Charles Mason: The Bahá’í Movement. Washington, D. C., 1912.
Remey, Charles Mason: The Bahá’í Revelation and Reconstruction. Bahá’í Publishing Society, Chicago, 1919.
Remey, Charles Mason: Constructive Principles of the Bahá’í Movement. Bahá’í Publishing Society, Chicago, 1917.
Remey, Charles Mason: Observations of a Bahá’í Traveler. Washington, D. C., 1914.
Remey, Charles Mason: The New Day. Bahá’í Publishing Society, Chicago, 1919.
Remey, Charles Mason: The Peace of the World. Bahá’í Publishing Society, Chicago, 1919.
Remey, Charles Mason: Bahá’í Teachings. (Seven bound pamphlets.) Washington, D. C., 1917.
Remey, Charles Mason: Bahá’í Indexes. Newport, R. I., 1923.
Remey, Charles Mason: Bahá’í Manuscripts. Newport, R. I., 1923.
Remey, Charles Mason: Through Warring Countries to the Mountain of God. Private printing.
Roy and M. J. M.: Knock, and It Shall Be Opened Unto You.
Sassi, M. Gabriel: Martinists’ Report. An address concerning the Bahá’í Religion delivered at the Paris Exposition of 1900.
Table Talks. Regarding Reincarnation and other subjects.
Thompson, Juliet: ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s First Days in America. Roycrofters, East Aurora, N. Y., 1924.
True, Corinne: Notes Taken at ‘Akká. Bahá’í Publishing Society, Chicago, 1907.
Universal Principles of the Bahá’í Movement. Persian-American Bulletin, Washington, D. C., 1912.
Vail, Albert: Bahá’í Movement—Its Spiritual Dynamic.
Vail, Albert: Heroic Lives. Beacon Press, Boston, 1917.
Winterburn, Mr. and Mrs. George: Table Talks with ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. Bahá’í Publishing Society, Chicago, 1908.
Bahá’í Message. Compiled by Horace Holley, Chicago, 1920.
Bahá’í Scriptures. Compiled by Horace Holley, Brentano’s, New York, 1923.
Compilation No.9. Concerning the Most Great Peace. Tudor Press, Boston, 1918.
Compilation No.9. Available in different languages.
Compilation of Utterances from the Pen of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá Regarding His Station. 19 pages. November 26, 1906.
Divine Pearls. Compiled by Victoria Bedikian.
Foundations of World Unity. Compiled by Horace Holley, New York, 1927.
God and His Manifestations. Compiled by Mrs. M. H. Gift.
Oneness of Mankind : A compilation of the utterances of Bahá’u’lláh and ‘Abdu’l-Bahá by Mariam Haney and Louis Gregory, to assist the progress of inter-racial amity, 1927.
Prayers Revealed by Bahá’u’lláh and ‘Abdu’l-Bahá.
Prayers Revealed by Bahá’u’lláh and ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. Translated by Shoghi Effendi. Boston, 1923.
Racial Amity. Compiled by M. H. and M . M. 1924.
Tablets to Japan. Compiled by Agnes Alexander. New York, 1928.
The Most Great Peace. From the utterances of Bahá’u’lláh and ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. Tudor Press, Boston, 1916.
Lincoln Hall, University of Illinois, where Bahá’í lectures are held
Lincoln Hall, University of Illinois, where Bahá’í lectures are held.
Urbana Bahá’í group who hold their meetings in Lincoln Hall, University of Illinois
Urbana Bahá’í group who hold their meetings in Lincoln Hall,
University of Illinois
Bahá’í Cause. Eight-page pamphlet prepared by the National Teaching Committee. Bahá’í Publishing Society, 1924.
Bahá’í Calendars. Daily excerpts from the writings of Bahá’u’lláh and ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. Privately printed in Honolulu, New York and other cities.
Bahá’í Temple. Reprints of press comments and Temple symbolism. Published by Louis Bourgeois, Chicago, 1921.
Barney, Laura Clifford: God’s Heroes. A drama. Lippincott, London and Philadelphia, 1910.
Masson, Jean: The Mashriqu’l-Adhkár and the Bahá’í Movement. Bahá’í Publishing Society, Chicago, 1921.
Remey, Charles Mason: Prospectus of a Series of Five Lectures upon the Bahá’í Movement.
Remey, Charles Mason: Mashriqu’l-Adhkár. Five preliminary sketches. Privately printed.
Remey, Charles Mason: Mashriqu’l-Adhkár. (Bahá’í House of Worship.) Privately printed.
Remey, Charles Mason: Bahá’í House of Worship. Description of the Bahá’í Temple with Illustrations. Bahá’í Publishing Society, Chicago, 1917.
Storer, Rev. J.: Thoughts that Build. Macmillan Co., New York, 1924.
Waite, Louise R.: Bahá’í Hymns and Poems. Bahá’í Publishing Society, Chicago, 1904, New York, 1927.
Waite, Louise R.: Hymns of Peace and Praise. Chicago, 1910.
Watson, Albert Durrant: The Dream of God. A poem. Bahá’í Publishing Society, Chicago, 1922.
Views of Haifa, ‘Akká, Mt. Carmel and other places. Bahá’í Publishing Society, Chicago.
Sonne der Wahrheit.
La Nova Tago (Esperanto).
An-Núru’l-Abhá-Fi-Mufáwadtát ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. Table Talks collected by Laura C. Barney. Kegan, Paul, London, 1908.
Kitáb-i-Nuqtatu’l-Kaf. Jani, Mírzá, of Káshán. Edited from the Unique Paris Ms. by Edward G. Browne. Luzac & Co., London.
Mashriqu’l-Adhkár: Twenty - two - page booklet written in Persian on the Bahá’í Temple. Published by the Bahá’í Assembly of Washington, D. C.
Bahá’í News Letter. The Bulletin of the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada.
The Bahá’í Magazine—Star of the West. (Vol. 1, Bahá’í News.) Vol. 19 with current year 1928.
The Dawn. Burma.
Herald of the East. (Bahá’í News of India).
Sonne der Wahrheit. Germany.
La Nova Tago. (Esperanto), Germany.
The Herald of the South. Australia.
Khurshid-e-Khawar. ‘Ishqábád, Russia.
References to the Bahá’í Movement in non-Bahá’í works, whether favorable or unfavorable.
Compiled by Bishop Brown
Adams, Rev. Isaac: Persia by a Persian, 1900.
Atherton, Gertrude: Julia France and Her Times. Stokes & Co., New York, 1912.
Atkins, Gaius Glenn: Modern Religious Cults and Movements. Fleming Revell. New York, 1923.
Barrows, Rev. John Henry: The World’s Parliament of Religions. 2 Vols. The Parliament Publishing Co., Chicago, 1893.
Baudouin, Charles: Contemporary Studies. Fr. trans., E. and C. Paul. E. P. Dutton, New York, 1925.
Bell, Archie: The Spell of the Holy Land. The Page Co., Boston, 1915.
Benjamin, S. G. W.: Persia and the Persians. Ticknor & Co., Boston, 1886.
Bibesco, Princess G. V.: The Eight Paradises. English translation. E. P. Dutton, New York, 1923.
Ellwood: Reconstruction of Religion.
Gazvini, M. J.: A Brief History of Bahá’u’lláh, the Founder of the Bahá’í Religion. San Diego, Calif., 1914.
Harmon, W. W.: Microcosm, Macrocosm. By the Author, Boston, 1915.
Harry, Myriam: A Springtide in Palestine. Houghton Mifflin, Boston, 1924.
History of the Nineteenth Century Year by Year. 3 Vols. (See page 1131.) P. F. Collier & Son, New York, 1902.
Hoover, W. I. T.: Religionisms and Christianity. The Stratford Co., Boston, 1924.
Jewett, Mary: Reminiscences of My Life in Persia. Torch Press, Cedar Rapids, 1909.
Martin, Alfred W.: Comparative Religion and the Religion of the Future. Appleton Co., New York, 1926.
Matthews, J. B., and Duvall, Sylvanus M.: Conflict or Co-operation, A Study Outline. The American Committee, World Youth Peace Congress. New York,1928.
Pemberton, L. B.: A Modem Pilgrimage to Palestine. Dorrance & Co., Philadelphia, 1925.
Religious Bodies, 1916: Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census. 2 Vols. Washington, D. c., 1919.
Sinclair, Upton: The Profits of Religion. Pasadena, 1918.
Spear, R. E.: Missions and Modern History. 2 Vols.
Todd, A. J.: Theories of Social Progress. Macmillan & Co., New York, 1924.
Tyssul, Rev. J.: A League of Religions. London, 1926.
Wilson, Rev. S. G.: Bahá’ísm and Its Claims. Fleming, Revell Co., New York, 1915.
Wilson, Rev. S. G.: Persian Life and Customs. Fleming, Revell Co., New York, 1895.
Vaughan, John Gaines: Religion, a Comparative Study. Abingdon Press, Cincinnati, 1919.
Zwemer, Samuel M.: Islám, a Challenge to Faith. New York, 1907.
Ashbee, C. R.: A Palestine Note Book. Doubleday-Page, 1923.
Browne, Edward G.: Materials for the Study of the Bábi Religion. Cambridge University Press, 1918.
Browne, Edward G.: History of Persian Literature in Modern Times. Cambridge University Press, 1924.
Browne, Edward G.: Literary History of Persia.
Browne, Edward G.: A Traveller’s Narrative, Written to Illustrate the Episode of the Báb. 2 Vols, one in Persian. Cambridge University Press, 1891.
Browne, Edward G.: A Year Among the Persians. Adam & Black London 1893.
Cheyne, Thomas Kelley: The Reconciliation of Races and Religions. A. & C. Black, London, 1914.
Curzon, George: Persia and the Persian Question. 2 Vols. London, 1892.
Hammond, Eric: The Splendor of God. E. P. Dutton & Co., New York, June, 1919.
Hastings, James: Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics. T. & T. Clark, Edinburgh, 1909.
Herrick, Elizabeth: Unity Triumphant. Kegan, Paul, London, 1923.
Ḥusayn (Mírzá of Hamadán): The Tarik-i-Jadid. English translation by Edward G. Browne. Cambridge University Press, 1893.
Jessup, Henry Harris: Fifty-three Years in Syria. Fleming Revell, New York, 1910.
Jackson, A. V. Williams: Persia, Past and Present. Macmil1an, London, 1906.
Malcolm, Napier : Five Years in a Persian Town. E. P. Dutton, New York, 1907.
Markham, Clements R.: A General Sketch of the History of Persia. Longmans, Green & Co., London, 1874.
Maud, Constance E.: Sparks Among the Stubble. P. Allen & Co., 1924.
Oliphant, Lawrence: Haifa or Life in Modern Palestine. William Blackwood, Edinburgh and London, 1887.
O’Leary, DeLacy: Islám at the Cross Roads. Kegan, Paul, London, 1923.
Pole, W. Tudor-: Private Dowding. John Watkins, London, 1917.
Pole, W. Tudor-: Some Deeper Aspects of the War. Taylor Bros., Bristol.
Religions of the Empire. Edited by William Hare. Duckworth, London, 1925.
Religious Systems of the World. Swan Sonnenschein & Co., London, 1908.
Rice, C. Colliver: Persian Women and Their Ways. Seeley Service, London 1923.
Rosenberg, Ethel J.: A Brief Account of the Bahá’í Movement. Bahá’í Society of London, 1911.
Sheil, Lady: Glimpses of Life and Manners in Persia. John Murray, London, 1856.
Simpson, G. Palgrave: The Bahá’í Faith. London, 1920.
Skrine, Francis H. B.: Bahá’ísm, the Religion of Brotherhood, and Its Place in the Evolution of Creeds. Longmans, Green, London, 1912.
Stannard, Mrs. J.: The Bahá’í Movement. Articles reprinted from the Vedic Magazine of Lahore.
Sykes, Sir Percy: Persia. Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1922.
Ussher, John: Journey from London to Persepolis. London, 1865.
Watson, Albert Durrant: The Poetical Works of. Ryerson Press, Toronto, 1924.
Watson, Robert Grant: History of Persia. Smith Elder, London, 1866.
Wollaston, Arthur N.: The Sword of Islám. John Murray, London, 1905.
Báb, The: Le Livre de Sept Preuves. Traduction par A. L. M. Nicolas, Paris, 1902.
Báb, The: Le Beyan Persan. Traduction française A. L. M. Nicolas. 4 Vols. Paul Geuthner, Paris, 1911.
Báb, The: Le Beyan Arabe. Traduction française A. L. M. Nicolas. Ernest Leroux, Paris, t90S.
Bahá’u’lláh, L’Oeuvre des. Traduction française par Hippolyte Dreyfus. 2 volumes. Ernest Leroux, Paris, 1923.
Bahá’u’lláh, L’Epitre au Fils du Loup. Traduction française par Hippolyte Dreyfus. Honore Champion, Paris, 1913.
Balteau, M. J.: Le Babysme: Lecture faite par M. J. B . . . á la Seance du 22 Mai 1896. Academie Nationale de Reims, Reims, 1897.
Dreyfus, Hippolyte: Essai sur le Béhaisme. Ernest Leroux, Paris, 1909.
Gobineau, Comte de: Les Religions et les Philosophies dans l’Asie Centrale. Paris, 1924.
Huart, M.: La Religion de Báb. Paris, 1889.
Nicolas, A. L. M.: Seyyèd ‘Alí Mohammed dit Le Báb (Dogme), Dujarric & Co., Paris.
Nicolas, A. L. M.: Seyyèd ‘Alí Mohammed dit Le Báb (Histoire). Dujarric & Co., Paris, 1905.
Nicolas, A. L. M.: Essai sur le Chéikhisme. Vol. 1. Chéik Aḥmad Lahçahi. Paul Geuthner, Paris, 1910.
Nicolas, A. L. M.: Essai sur le Chéikhisme. Vol. 2. Seyyèd Kázem Richti. Paul Geuthner, Paris, 1914.
Nicolas, A. L. M.: Essai sur le Chéikhisme. Vol. 3. La Doctrine. Ernest Leroux, Paris, 1911.
Nicolas, A. L. M.: Essai sur le Chéikhisme. Vol. 4. Science de Dieu. Ernest Leroux, Paris, 1911.
Nicolas, A. L. M.: Religions et Societes. Alcan, Paris, 1905.
Tablette de Bahá’u’lláh écrite a Adrianople pour un des croyants de Gazvine.
Trois Lettres a des Persans. Abd-oul-Beha. (Juin-Juillet, 1907.)
Renan, Ernest: Les Apotres. Levy, Paris, 1866.
Serena, Mme. C.: Hommes et Choses en Perse.
Sacy, Gabriel: Du Reane de Dieu et del’Agneau connu sous Ie nom de Babysme; se trouve chez l’Auteur au Claire. June 12, 1902.
‘Abdu’l-Bahá ‘Abbás: Eine Botschaft an die Juden. Deutsch von William Herrigel.
‘Abdu’l-Bahá ‘Abbás: Spiria Kunlige. Trans. by F. E . Pinchon in La Kolpertista, Vol. 1. September, 1925.
‘Abdu’l-Bahá ‘Abbás: Ansprechen über die Bahailehre. Deutch von William Herrigel.
Andreas, Dr. F. C.: Die Babis in Persien. Leipzig, 1896.
Báb’í, Bahá’ísmus: Article in Encyclopedia Meyer, 7th edition, Vol. 1, 1924.
Bahá’í-Perlen: Deutsch von William Herrigel.
Bahá’u’lláh : Das Heilige Tablett. Deutsch von William Herrigel.
Bahá’u’lláh: Verborgene Worte. Deutsch von A. Braun and E. Ruoff.
Bahá’u’lláh: Frohe Botschaften, Worte des Paradieses, Tablett Tarasat, Tablett Taschalliat, Tablett Ischrakat. Deutsch von William Herrigel.
Brittingham, J. D.: Die Offenbarung Bahá’u’lláh’s. Deutsch von William Herrigel.
Chase, Thornton: Die Bahá’í-Offenbarung.
Chase, Thornton: Ehe Abraham War, War Ich. Deutsch von William Herrigel.
Combo, Edouard: Work of the Prophet. The Birth and Propagation of a New Religious Doctrine. The Tribune of Geneva. 47th year, No. 190, August, 1925.
Das Hinscheiden ‘Abdu’l-Bahá.
Dreyfus, Hippolyte: Bahá’ísm in “Vers l’Unite.” Geneva, 3rd year, No. 26, March, 1924.
Dreyfus, Hippolyte: Einheitsreligion. Deutsch von William Herrigel.
Ethé, Dr. Hermann: Essays und Studien. Berlin, 1872.
Faḍl, Mírzá ‘Abu’l-: Geschichte und Wahrheitsbeweise der Bahá’íreligion. Deutsch von William Herrigel.
Forel, Dr. August, in Der Web zur Kultur. Chap. 6, Addenda. Leipzig, Vienna, 1924.
Goldziher, Prof. Ignaz, in Oriental Religions. The Religions of Islám, 6th latest sect. “The Culture of the Present Day.” Published by B. S. Teubner, Leipzig.
Grossman, Dr. H.: Die Soziale Frage und ihre Lösung.
Herrigel, William: Die Bahá’íbewegung im Allgemeinen und ihre grosen Wirkungen in Indien.
History and Meaning of the Bahá’í Movement. In the Sixth Sense, 4th year, Nos. 2 and 3.
Keyserling, Count Hermann: The Travel Diary of a Philosopher. 2 Vol. English trans., J. H. Reace. Harcourt, Brace & Co., New York, 1925.
Kilmer, Baron Alfred von: Geschichte der herrschenden Indeen des Isláms. Leipzig, 1868.
Kremer (V) in the History of Ruling Ideas of Islám. 2nd Chapt. 7, 1868.
Najmajer, Marie von: Gurret-ül-eyn: Ein Bild aus Persians Neuzeit. Vienna, 1894.
Naldike, Prof. T.: Deutsche Rundschau. Vol. XVIII, 1879.
Phelps, Myron H.: ‘Abdu’l-Bahá ‘Abbás, Leben and Lehren. Deutsch von William Herrigel.
Polak, Dr. Jakob E.: Persien. Das Land und Seine Bewohner. 2 Vol. Leipzig, 1865.
Religiose Lichtblicke. Deutsch von Albert Renttle.
Remey, Charles Mason: Das neue Zeitalter.
Roemer, Hermann: Die Babi-Behai; eine Studie zur Religionsgeschichte des Islams. Potsdam, 1911.
Rosen, Baron, in Scientific Collections of the Institute of Oriental Languages. St. Petersburg, Russia, 1877, 1886, 1890.
S. S.: Die Geschichte der Bahá’í-Bewegung. Deutsch von William Herrigel.
Schwarz, Alice T.: Die Univèrsale Weltreligion.
Stuebe, Prof. H.: History of the World Religions. 10th paragraph in the Bábíism in the New Public High School. 1st Vol. Leipzig, 1925.
Thielmann, Lt. Baron Max von: Journey in the Caucasus, Persia and Turkey in Asia. English trans. 2 Vol. London, 1875.
Vambery, Hermann: Meine Wanderungen und Eilbrusse in Persien. Budapest, 1867.
Wright, A. H.: Báb und seine Secte in Persien. Leipzig.
References to the Baha'i Movement in Magazines
Compiled by Bishop Brown
American Journal of Theology, January 1902.
Architectural Record, The, June, 1920.
Art World, March, 1917.
Asia, May, 1924.
Atlantic Monthly, September, 1926.
Bibliotheca Sacra, January, 1915.
Book Buyer, June, 1901.
Contemporary Review, August, 1869.
Contemporary Review, October, 1869.
Contemporary Review, March, 1912.
Contemporary Review Advertiser, December, 1885.
Current History, December, 1925.
Current Literature, July, 1901.
Current Literature, September, 1911.
Current Literature, June, 1912.
Eclectic Magazine, February, 1886.
Eclectic Magazine, September, 1896.
Esoteric Christianity, February, 1915.
Everybody’s, December, 1911.
Everywoman, December, 1915.
Everywoman, December, 1916.
Fortnightly Review, June, 1911.
Fortnightly Review, April,1912.
Fortnightly Review, June, 1913.
Forum, May, 1916.
Forum, August, 1917.
Forum, July, 1925.
Friends’ Intelligencer, September, 1925.
Harper’s Weekly, July, 1912.
Hearst’s Magazine, July, 1912.
Independent, April, 1912.
Independent, July, 1912.
Independent, September, 1912.
Independent, December, 1921.
Indian Review (Madras), August, 1914.
Littel’s Living Age, August, 1869.
Literary Digest, May, 1912.
Literary Digest, August, 1920.
Literary Digest, December, 1921.
Mentor, The, November, 1920.
Missionary Review, October, 1902.
Missionary Review, February, 1904.
Missionary Review, March, 1904.
Missionary Review, May, 1906.
Missionary Review, October, 1911.
Missionary Review, October, 1914.
Missionary Review, August, 1919.
Missionary Review, October, 1921.
Nation (N. Y.), June 21,1866.
National, December, 1908.
National, May, 1922.
Nineteenth Century, July, 1896.
Nineteenth Century, February, 1915.
New Orient, January, 1926.
New York Times, February, 1913.
New York Times Book Review, August 1, 1920.
North American, April, 1901.
North American, June, 1912.
Open Court, June, 1904.
Open Court, August, 1915.
Open Court, October, 1915.
Open Court, November, 1915.
Open Court, August, 1916.
Open Court, October, 1916.
Open Court, November, 1916.
Outlook, June, 1901.
Outlook, June, 1912.
Outlook, December, 1920.
Outlook, December, 1921.
Review of Reviews, February, 1901.
Review of Reviews, June, 1912.
Review of Reviews, February, 1922.
Scientific American, August, 1920.
Spokesman, The (Negro), September, 1925.
Survey, April, 1912.
Unity, February, 1918.
Unity, December, 1921.
Vedic Magazine (Lahore), Vol. 8, No.9.
World’s Work, July, 1912.
World’s Work, July, 1922.
Academy, The, March, 1895.
All the Year Around, July, 1869.
Arena, The, November, 1904.
Asiatic Quarterly Review, April, 1913.
Christian Commonwealth, January 1, 1913.
Christian Commonwealth, January 22, 1913.
Christian Commonwealth, January 29, 1913.
Christian Commonwealth, February 12, 1913.
Clifton Chronicle and Directory, January, 1913.
Edinburgh Evening News, January, 1913.
International Psychic Gazette, Nos. 6 and 7.
London Budget, January, 1913.
Saturday Review, January, 1894.
Scots Pictorial, January, 1913.
Scottish Review, April, 1892.
Spectator, The, April, 1892.
Sunday Herald, Woking, London, January 24, 1913.
L’Anne Philosophique, Vol. III, 1869.
Revue de l’Histoire des Religions, Vol. XVIII.
Revue Critique d’Histoire et de ’Litterature, April 18, 1887.
Journal Asiatique, Vol. II.
Journal Asiatique, Vols. VII, VIII, 1866.
Journal Asiatique, Vol. X.
Revue Moderne, 1865-1866.
Bulletin Melanges Asiatiques, Vol. IV.
Bahá’í students of the American University of Beirut. Syria, 1927
Bahá’í students of the American University of Beirut. Syria, 1927
Arranged Alphabetically




















Arabic alphabet Pronunciation of transliterated characters
Bahá’ís of Tunis.
Bahá’ís of Tunis.
I. Introduction to “The Promulgation of Universal Peace.”
II. Poem-“A Prayer.”
III.The Bahá’í Religion.
IV. Living Religions and the Bahá’í Movement.
V.Bahá’í Attitude Towards Muḥammad.
VI.A Modern Interpretation of Muḥammadanism.
VII.The World-Wide Influence of Qurratu’l-‘Ayn.
VIII.Souvenir Feast of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá.
IX. The Bahá’í Cause at the Universal Esperanto Congresses at Edinburgh and Danzig.
X.On the Borders of Lake Leman.
XI.Letter from the Israelitish Assembly of Bahá’ís of Ṭihrán, Persia.
XII.Inter-Racial Amity.
XIII.Bahá’í Persecutions in Persia.
Howard MacNutt of Brooklyn, N. Y., prominent Bahá’í teacher, who died at Miami, Florida, December 26, 1926. This, his favorite picture, was taken in California. He stands at the grave, in a Los Angeles cemetery, of Thornton Chase, the distinguished early American Bahá’í teacher.
Howard MacNutt of Brooklyn, N. Y., prominent Bahá’í teacher, who died at Miami, Florida, December 26, 1926. This, his favorite picture, was taken in California. He stands at the grave, in a Los Angeles cemetery, of Thornton Chase, the distinguished early American Bahá’í teacher.
Howard McNutt
[The passing from this world of Mr. Howard MacNutt of Brooklyn, N. Y., in December, 1926, has prompted us to reproduce this Introduction to the Addresses of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá delivered in America in 1912 published under the title, “The Promulgation of Universal Peace,” which were compiled and edited by Mr. MacNutt. We do this knowing it is a fitting memorial to him as intended and recorded by the pen of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. In a Tablet dated at Palestine, July 20, 1919, addressed to Albert Windust, Chicago, printer of the book, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá wrote: “Name the book which Mr. MacNutt is compiling, ‘The Promulgation of Universal Peace.’ As to its Introduction, it should be written by Mr. MacNutt himself when in heart he is turning toward the ‘Abhá kingdom, so that he may leave a permanent trace behind him. Send a copy of it to the Holy Land.” The English original was sent to ‘Abdu’l-Bahá for approval. By His direction it was translated into Persian and returned to the printer with instructions that both English and Persian should appear in the publication.—Editors].
Two years before the crash of the world war shook the continents and upheaved oceans ‘Abdu’l-Bahá ‘Abbás visited the United States of America proclaiming the glad-tidings of Universal Peace and the oneness of the world of humanity. In His message He reviewed social, religious and political conditions of the nations, foretold clearly the impending clash and conflict of militarism, summoning mankind to the standard of divine guidance upraised in this cycle of the cycles by the Manifestation and Teachings of Bahá’u’lláh. His visit extending from April to December, 1912, covered an itinerary across the continent and return, involving an extraordinary and incredible expenditure of energy on the part of one who at the threshold of three score years and ten had spent practically His whole lifetime in exile and imprisonment for the cause of God.
This treasury of His words is a compilation of informal talks and extempore discourses delivered in Persian and Arabic, interpreted by proficient linguists who accompanied Him, and taken stenographically in both Oriental and Occidental tongue.
Upon the day of His arrival in New York He said, "It is my purpose to set forth in America the fundamental principles of the Revelation and Teachings of Bahá’u’lláh. It will then become the duty of the Bahá’ís of this country to give these principles unfoldment and applica-
tion in the minds, hearts and lives of the people.” ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s words therefore will be found characterized by a broad clear simplicity and practical basis, marked by an absence of metaphysical flights, philosophical speculation and mere rhetorical eloquence; always reflecting the pure beauty of the Word of God, that primal, essential, eternal foundation upon which rest religion, science and all human advancement.
Everywhere in His journeying throughout the United States ‘Abdu’l-Bahá was received and welcomed in a spirit of love and reverence. Temples and churches of all denominations, synagogues, peace societies, religious and educational institutions, colleges, women's clubs, metaphysical groups and new-thought centers opened their doors, pulpits and platforms willingly and without reservation to His message. He attended peace conferences at Lake Mohonk, visited the open forum at Green Acre on the Piscataqua, addressed large gatherings at Columbia and Leland Stanford Universities, spoke before scientific associations, socialistic bodies, ethical cults, welfare and charitable organizations, attended receptions and banquets in the mansions of the rich, visited the poor and lowly in their humble homes, carried the light of hope and uplift to darkened souls in Bowery Mission; in brief, proclaimed His message and teachings universally to every degree and capacity of humankind, with such pure and sincere motive that all heard Him gladly and without prejudice or antagonism. Furthermore, His beneficent activity in the cause of God and loving service to mankind was without money and without price, for ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in no instance accepted remuneration—a most unusual precedent and a wholesome variation from the money-getting methods of other visitors from the Orient. On the contrary, it was His custom to make liberal donations to needy churches and religious bodies, often assisting by generous gift and contribution, societies and associations devoted to universal principles and ideals. Standing in the doorway of Bowery Mission one night He distributed two hundred dollars in silver to a long line of poor, disconsolate men, speaking words of uplift and encouragement as they passed before Him. Under all circumstances ‘Abdu’l-Bahá refused to accept money for Himself or the cause He represented. When the Bahá’ís of this country received word of His intended visit, the sum of eighteen thousand dollars was subscribed toward the expense of His journey. He was notified of this action and a part of tne money forwarded to Him by cable. He cabled in answer that the funds contributed by His friends could not be accepted, returned the money and instructed them to give their offering to the poor.
Briefly, the visit of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá to the United States was unique and characteristic of His high, holy mission, reflecting an unmistakable altruism of purpose and purity of motive. Philosophers, scientists, agnostics, materialists, professors, diplomats and officials were found in His audiences intently listening, sincerely questioning His presentation of the exalted principles and perfect ideals of the Bahá’í revelation in their application to the education, uplift and unification of mankind. Everywhere in editorial comment and publication of news concerning Him the daily press was reverent and respectful in its tone and statement instinctively recognizing His high purpose and the manifest virtue of His teachings to the world.
An understanding of the mission and significance of this radiant Herald of the New Day would not be complete without vision of the cumulative chain of religious history which extends backward from the time of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s appearance here to a period practically contemporary with the birth of American Independence in 1776. This is of especial importance too in the light of the fact that when Bahá’u’lláh sent epistles to the kings and rulers of the earth in 1868 He addressed one to the republic of the United States in which He said, “O concourse of statesmen! Assist the broken-hearted with the hands of justice and crush the mighty oppressors
with the scourges of the commands of your Lord, the Powerful, the Wise.” A very brief summary will be sufficient to show this spiritual sequence and historical progression of which ‘Abdu’l-Bahá is the apex and consummation.
The earliest dawning rays of the effulgent Sun of Truth, the Word of God which shone forth from the heaven of the divine will upon the horizon of the human world in this luminous cycle were reflected in the pure mirrors of sanctity Shaykh Aḥmad of Aḥsá’í and Hájí Siyyid Kázim of Rasht. As stars of morning precede the coming of the mighty luminary of day, these brilliant souls arose successively in Persia toward the close of the eighteenth century, piercing the sombre shadows of night and proclaiming the splendor of the approaching Manifestation. This mission completed, the lamps of their physical existence were extinguished in 1826 and 1844 respectively.
On May 23, 1844, His Holiness Mírzá ‘Alí Muḥammad the Báb suddenly enkindled the world by declaring in Shiráz, Persia that the Day of God was at hand. For six years as herald and forerunner this winsome messenger of the kingdom sounded His heavenly call, until in 1850 the flaming tongue and pen of His eloquence were stilled in the throes of a glorious martyrdom.
Then the heaven of religion overspread with the brilliant radiance of His Holiness Bahá’u’lláh, Glory of God, the Manifest Word and Sun of Reality which poured its bounty upon the world of mankind forty years, extending to the time of its occultation in 1892. Throughout these years this Glorious Being was subjected to continuous exile, imprisonment and oppression by earthly rulers until after infinite hardships and suffering He ascended from these abject conditions and surroundings of religious and political tyranny to His abode in the supreme world.
But the equation of divine purpose was not yet complete. The coming of Bahá’u’lláh, had fulfilled the prophetic promises of the sacred books of the Jews, Christians, Muḥammadans, Zoroastrians, Hindus, Buddhists and others. Like mighty rivers restricted to their own watersheds these separate systems of religious belief and worship, incapable of mingling in their courses, had found their destined union and confluence in the infinite ocean of Bahá’u’lláh’s utterance. Furthermore, the supreme and ultimate product of divine revelation, the apotheosis of prophecy and the universal outcome in which all the heavenly religions would consummate was that quintessence of the cycles, that “Mystery of God,” a perfected “Servant” in whom the divine and human wills had found complete blending. This sanctified personage was to appear in the great Day of God, that Day of universal splendor when “the glory of the Lord should be revealed and all flesh should see it together.”
In the latter half of the nineteenth century the nations and peoples of the world had become so closely associated and wrought together in their physical existence, so interwoven and interdependent in the necessities and requirements of life that the problems and politics of one government now affected and influenced the conditions of them all. The world had become one vast human family wherein interests were intimately related, responsibilities mutual and problems universal. Therefore the Word of God revealed by Bahá’u’lláh was universal in its provision and remedy for the conditions of mankind; conditions which although they were direct outcomes of human will and making, had been eternally foreseen by the Omniscient eye and spoken by the tongues of Prophets as recorded in all the holy books. Great numbers of brilliant souls throughout the East had accepted and followed this manifest standard of unity and reconciliation. In religious heredity, training and belief they had been diverse, hostile and irreconcilable but under the benign, penetrating influence of the Holy Spirit of the Word made flesh in Bahá’u’lláh they attained
the blessed station of oneness and love in the heaven of the kingdom.
To strengthen, safeguard and increase this unity and love Bahá’u’lláh appointed a successor to whom all should turn for guidance and illumination after His own departure; naming in the Book of the Covenant written by His own blessed hand, His eldest son, the Greatest Branch, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Center of the Covenant in whom Bahá’ís throughout the world recognize the authority of perfect servitude at the threshold of the manifest Word. This is the essence of His title, entity and being, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Servant of Bahá.
The great wisdom of this appointment is shown in many ways. It is particularly evident when we realize that from His earliest childhood ‘Abdu’l-Bahá had been inseparably associated with Bahá’u’lláh. Born in Ṭihrán May 23, 1844, the day and date of the Báb’s declaration, His very birth foretokened the significance of His life and being in the divine processes and consummations of this luminous cycle. At the age of eight years He was one of the little band of exiles who crossed the Persian border into ‘Iráq-‘Arabi, sharing vicissitudes and suffering with heroic strength and subjected with the rest to continuous imprisonments in various cities until they reached the prison-fortress of ‘Akká in Syria, August 31, 1868. Throughout this long and faithful vigil of devotion to Bahá’u’lláh and loyalty to the cause of God, the record of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s life is pure and spotless, wonderful in its exaltation and effulgent with the beauty of holiness. When the tyrannous regime of Sulṭán ‘Abdu’l-Hamíd ended, the gates of ‘Akká were thrown open and ‘Abdu’l-Bahá came forth free upon the fortieth anniversary of His enterance into that neglected and unspeakable place. This was August 31, 1908. In 1911, two years after His release from a living martyrdom of fifty-six years and at the age of sixty-seven He visited Europe, returning to Egypt from whence in 1912 He sailed for America as stated.
Thus far the evidences of divine forces and influences surrounding the life of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá should be sufficient to impress and convince any thoughtful soul that we are viewing an unusual and majestic personality, a world-commanding figure who has appeared for the uplift, unification and peace of mankind. Dark indeed are the world-horizons unless we behold the shining beauty of this Sun of Reality. The human world plunging deeper and deeper with ever-increasing momentum into seas of materialism is crying out in its crucial need and stress for help and remedy—for a new creative spirit of life and regeneration—a power and healing direct from God. And just at this time ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Messenger of Universal Peace and the oneness of the world of humanity, is sounding His call of salvation to the nations of the earth in heavenly words fortified by an impelling dynamic spiritual power and surcharged with the pure breaths of the Holy Spirit.
The divine Covenant outworking its purpose and plan in the history and destiny of mankind has been revealed progressively according to the necessities of the age and the degree of human capacity. In each dispensation of its bounties it has infused a new and spiritual impulse into minds and hearts through channels of religious belief. These irrigating currents have been the source of life to the human world and its only civilizing impetus. The standard of human requirement in every cycle has been obedience to the divine 'vVord and purpose, firmness and steadfastness in the ancient Covenant of God. History shows how invariably and inevitably the people of the Covenant, as in the time of Abraham, Moses, Jesus and Muḥammad became the mightiest civilizing forces and formative influences in human progression, and how through obedience and fidelity to the Messenger of the Covenant the exigencies confronting them in their day were overcome, their difficulties surmounted, their questions answered and uncertainties dispelled, so that ever-widening vistas of nobler attainments and loftier ranges of vision were opened to them in the horizons of human destiny. In reality this evolution and progression
constitute the bounties of the Covenant itself, divine bestowals of higher capacity for development, discovery and advancement. That is to say, in each dispensation, through the gifts and bestowals of the Covenant the people of the Covenant have been quickened by a power which enabled them to overcome the menace of difficulties surrounding them, dominate their environments, make conditions minister to their advancement and growth, purify their lives and laws, strengthen their institutions and uplift themselves to the beatitude of peace, prosperity and unity; whereas those who denied the Covenant and were deprived of its bounties have succumbed to forces and surrounding conditions and have passed into oblivion, incapable of existence and continuance. This is the inner, penetrating power of the pure religion of God, the divine leavening spirit of the Covenant which has manifested itself in every age through an appointed or collective Center whom all were commanded to acknowledge in allegiance and steadfastness lest they become deprived of the outpouring and overflowing bestowals of God.
Inasmuch as this wonderful century, this Day of God is universal in its conditions and requirements, characterized by an inter-relationship and interdependence never before witnessed among the nations of the world, and inasmuch as the Book of the Covenant has been revealed in this day by the tongue and pen of His Holiness Bahá’u’lláh to all races, religions and peoples without preference or favor, naming in holy words and text the one to whom all must turn in obedience and loyalty, it therefore follows that the source of effulgent power and heavenly bestowals, the collective center and point of unity from which the bounties of the Covenant are now overflowing to the world of mankind is ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Servant of Bahá, Center of the Covenant of God. He is the channel of purifying, unifying religious belief, the new impUlse and dynamic, the creative spirit of regeneration, the power and healing direct from God, the irrigating current of life to the world of man, the answerer of questions, the explainer of the Book, the bestower of spiritual capacities, the uplifting impetus of civilization, the Servant of all mankind, the point of agreement and reconciliation for all the divine religions, the Standard-bearer of Universal Peace and Messenger of the Glad-tidings of the Oneness of the World of Humanity.
‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s station of servitude in the divine cause is therefore world-wide and universal, beyond the limitation of race, denomination, creed or nationality; a station supreme in its loftiness, perfect in its humility: Servant of the servants of God. Significant indeed is His visit to the shores of the western world; pregnant indeed are His words to the highly organized material civilizations of the Occident; potent indeed His message of peace and unity of mankind cementing the East and the West in spiritual solidarity, blending the world that is old and the world that is new under the beneficent laws of the heavenly kingdom.
In obedience to the direct command of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, this Introduction has been written by a humble follower of His light and a devoted lover of His beauty. May the glory of God illumine this heart and guide this pen to do His will in this most great responsibility.
In the Name of God!
ONLY beloved! with a heart on fire
And all my longing set in one desire
To make my thoughts a many-stringed lyre
For Thy sweet hand to play,
I bend beneath Thy mercy-seat and pray
That in the strength of perfect love I may
Tread with firm feet the red and mystic way
Whereto my hopes aspire.
I have forgotten all for love of Thee,
And seek no other joy from destiny
Than to be wrapped within Thy unity
And, whatsoe’er befall,
To hear no voice on earth but Thy clear call,
To walk among Thy people as Thy thrall,
And see Thy beauty breathing throughout all
Eternal ecstasy.
Lead me forth, Lord, amid the wide world’s ways
To bear to Thee my witness and to raise
The dawn-song of the breaking day of days.
Make my whole life one flame
Of sacrificial deeds that shall proclaim
The new-born glory of Thy ancient name—
And let my death lift higher yet the same
Triumphant chant of praise.
G. T.
Papers read at the Conference of Some Living Religions
Within the British Empire, 1924
THE British Empire Exhibition at Wembley in 1924 afforded opportunity for holding a number of conferences on many subjects of imperial interest. Amongst these was one on “Some Living Religions Within the British Empire,” organized by the School of Oriental Studies and the Sociological Society, the purpose of which was to render more widely known the Faiths now prevailing in the Eastern and Western Dorpinions of the British Commonwealth. With this object in view it was decided by the Executive Committee of the Conference that the papers to be presented should be contributed by adherents of each religion, who, while touching lightly on creed and dogma, should treat chiefly of the everyday results of the teachings as evidenced in the personal and social life of its followers.
It was originally intended that the Conference should be held in one of the halls at the Wembley Exhibition, but owing to difficulties which arose with regard to accommodation, it was held at the Imperial Institute, South Kensington, from September 22nd to October 3rd, 1924.
Amongst the twelve or more living religions dealt with, the Bahá’í religion naturally found its place, both because of its own inherent importance and because of its widespread range throughout the Empire, covering as it does not only Eastern but also Western countries.
The Bahá’í paper to be presented to the Conference was written, at the express wish of the Guardian of the Cause (Shoghi Effendi), under the supervision of a committee of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of the United States and Canada, by Mr. Horace Holley—the other members of the committee being Mr. Mountfort Mills and Mrs. Parsons. It was subsequently revised by some members of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of Great Britain, and was read at the meeting on September 25th, 1924, by Mr. Mountfort Mills, the chair being taken by Dr. Walter Walsh, the leader of the Free Religious Movement.
The Assembly came to the conclusion that it would be desirable to bring out more fully the practical results obtained through the teachings of Bahá’u’lláh, and a short supplementary paper was therefore written by Ruḥí Afnán with the direct advice of Shoghi Effendi, and was read by the author at the above mentioned meeting.
These two papers are now published in a separate edition for the benefit of Bahá’ís especially, but they will find their place also in the memorial volume of Transactions of the Conference, issued by the Committee and published by Messrs. Duckworth & Co., Ltd.
National Spiritual Assembly of the
Bahá’ís of Great Britain,
E. J. Rosenberg,
G. P. Simpson,
Joint Secretaries.
Delegates and friends attending the Conference of Some Living Religions Within the British Empire, at a Reception given by Lady Blomfield, at London, England, in the Autumn of 1924.
Horace Holley
Mr. Chairman and Friends:—Before I undertake to present in brief outline those events, persons and principles that combine to produce the significance of the Bahá’í Cause, permit me, in behalf of the Bahá’ís resident outside as well as inside the British Empire, to express a heartfelt and lasting gratitude toward those by whose vision and energy this Conference came into being. For this Conference, both in character and method, expresses that ideal of religious unity so indelibly impressed upon all the members of the Bahá’í Cause, and its very existence, under these conditions of impressive dignity and far-reaching influence, appears to us as the fulfillment of a glorious, long-cherished hope.
It may well be that in this audience there are men and women whose memory still clearly pictures that occasion when, on September 10th, 1911, from the pulpit of the City Temple in London, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá delivered his first public address to the Western world. Summarizing as they do the spirit as well as purpose of the Bahá’í Cause, the words uttered on that day enable me to convey the inmost essence of the universal movement we are now gathered to consider.
‘Abdu’l-Bahá said: “O noble friends, seekers after God! Praise be to God! Today the Light of Truth is shining upon the world in its abundance; the breezes of the heavenly garden are blowing throughout all regions; the call of the Kingdom is heard in all lands, and the breath of the Holy Spirit is felt in all hearts that are faithful. The Spirit of God is giving eternal life. In this wonderful age the East is enlightened, the West is fragrant, and everywhere the soul inhales the holy perfume. The sea of the unity of mankind is lifting up its waves with joy, for there is real communication between the hearts and minds of men. The banner of the Holy Spirit is uplifted, and men see it, and are assured with the knowledge that this is a New Day.
“This is a new cycle of human power. All the horizons of the world are luminous, and the world will become indeed as a garden and a paradise. It is the hour of unity of the sons of men and of the drawing together of all races and all classes. You are loosed from ancient superstitions which have kept men ignorant, destroying the foundations of true humanity.
“The gift of God to this enlightened age is the knowledge of the oneness of mankind and of the fundamental oneness of religion. War shall cease between nations, and by the Will of God the Most Great Peace shall come; the world will be seen as a new world, and all men will live as brothers.
“In the days of old an instinct for warfare was developed in the struggle with wild animals. This is no longer necessary; nay, rather co-operation and mutual understanding are seen to produce the greatest welfare of mankind. Enmity is now the result of prejudice only.
“In the Hidden Words Bahá’u’lláh says: ‘Justice is to be loved above all.’ Praise be to God, in this country the standard of justice has been raised; a great effort is being made to give all souls an equal and a true place. This is the desire of all noble natures; this is today the teaching for the East and for the West; therefore, the East and the West will understand each other and reverence each other, and embrace like long-parted lovers who have found each other.
“There is one God; mankind is one; the foundations of religions are one. Let us worship Him, and give praise for all His great Prophets and Messengers who have manifested His brightness and glory.
“The blessing of the Eternal One be with you in all its richness, that each soul according to his measure may take freely of Him.”
As these words echo now once more in human hearts, so penetrating, so inspiring to our noblest ideals, so quickening to our mutual spiritual faith, so gracious, yet so challenging, there is no need for me, I am sure, to assert to this audience the fact that the Bahá’í Cause seeks no competitive victory among the world’s religions; and lays no additional frontiers among those innumerable boundaries that already divide the body of humanity into different organized creeds.
After eighty years of existence, the particular genius inspiring the Bahá’í Cause, clearly expressed by its Founder and universally accepted by all its adherents, is the ideal of unity consciously binding the hearts of men.
Both as a spiritual doctrine and as a living movement rooted in well-nigh incredible sacrifice and heroism, the Bahá’í Cause can best be presented in the light of the gradual working out of that ideal.
The origin of the Cause itself coincided in point of time with the beginnings of what all thoughtful people discern to be a new era in the development of mankind. Here in the West, the new era manifested itself most visibly through the abrupt industrial revolution produced by the influence of scientific discovery; in the East, less visibly, the same ferment and universal spirit of change also had its effects in the realm of feeling and thought.
It was in that country of the Orient least touched by Western influence—that country, Persia, least known to the people of the West and least significant to them politically, economically or morally—that country most firmly bound to its own separate tradition and to all appearances most incapable of throwing off the fetters of the dead past—that Bahá’u’lláh, Founder of the Bahá’í Cause, arose with a message instinct with the enthusiasm of a New Day.
History, that greatest of romancers, surely never played a drama of human destiny upon a stage so completely in contrast with the players or with the theme! All the machinery of daily life in Persia at that time was devised to resist change; external assistance or accidental reinforcement for the purpose of Bahá’u’lláh there was none; the idea of progress even in the economic aspects of life did not exist; arts, crafts, professions, education, creed and custom all combined to sanctify the excellence of what had been; available only to this pure spirit was the innate influence of His unswerving faith, indomitable courage, singleness of purpose, willingness to sacrifice ease, comfort, honor and life itself upon the path, and a mind able to impress other minds with the integrity of new principles and ideals.
But for the message of Bahá’u’lláh due preparation, in fact, had already been made.
Between May 23rd, 1844, and July 9th, 1850, occurred that remarkable series of events known to history as the “Episode of the Báb.” Within the brief compass of six years a single youth had succeeded in shattering the age-long inertia of the country and animating thousands of people with an intense, all-encompassing expectation of an imminent fulfillment of their profoundest religious belief. The teaching had been quietly spread even before the appearance of the Báb that the time had come for a new spiritual leader—one who should restore the foundations of faith and open the gates to an expression of universal truth. A survey of the religious experience of other peoples would reveal the working of the same influence here and there both in the East and the West at that time.
It was the presence of this quiet yet powerful undercurrent of hope that gave the Báb His commanding position among the people, for His teaching expressed their own inmost thought and gave vital substance to their secret dreams. The martyrdom of the Báb in 1850, consequently, was but the extinguishing of a torch which had already communicated
its flame far and wide. To extinguish the flame itself proved impossible, though the annals of the world’s religions contain no records of deliberate persecution more cruelly imposed, nor suffered voluntarily by so many believers. The figure most generally accepted of Bábí and Bahá’í martyrs is in excess of twenty thousand souls. Such was the price paid for faith in the promise of the Báb—such the spiritual heritage the Báb in passing handed on to Him whom He had heralded, Bahá’u’lláh!
To take up this spiritual heritage—to arouse this vivid expectation in thousands of faithful hearts and to inspire them with permanent principles—to establish a mould of doctrine and new custom for this fluid fire—was, for Bahá’u’lláh, the descent from a position of highest material comfort and authority to the lowest degree of poverty, imprisonment, suffering and exile. All that worldly men cherish and long for, Bahá’u’lláh freely sacrificed in order that His vision of God might be fulfilled and perpetuated in the conscious unity of men.
The teachings which Bahá’u’lláh gave His followers were, in large measure, written teachings — letters or “tablets” sent to individuals and groups in response to questions they were unable to address to Him in person by reason of His exile; messages sent by Bahá’u’lláh from prison to the European and Oriental rulers; or works of devotion, meditation and spiritual interpretation, as well as of scientific and sociological character, dictated to secretaries among those who shared His prison life.
The essential distinction between religion and philosophy is perfectly illustrated by the effects which the words of Bahá’u’lláh had upon His followers. Not as mere images to be admired by the mind’s eye, but as seeds to be planted in the earth of the heart—seeds to be watered with sacrifice and adoration until they produced the flower and the fruit of a new life—such were and are the utterances of Bahá’u’lláh to those who follow Him. From all ranks and stations they came, all types and temperaments, all degrees of training and experience, bringing with them the innate differences of a whole humanity, but moved by a common recognition of one organic, central faith. To produce and maintain unity among these thousands of followers, without offering them hope of material gain or earthly honor and well-being, was in itself a superhuman accomplishment.
Bahá’u’lláh’s teaching reflected no acquired learning — it was an immediate experience in the soul of one who turned wholly and directly to God. “Oneness, in its true significance,” He has said, “means that God alone should be realized as the one power which animates and dominates all things, which are but manifestations of its energy.”
From this fundamental concept — or rather realization—the teachings of Bahá’u’lláh flow forth with single, harmonious essence, like waters from the same spring.
To Bahá’u’lláh, those various standards of truth which sway human society; one standard in religion, another standard in science, a third standard in politics, a fourth standard in industry—this conflict of standards is the source of all the world’s ills, the spiritual ignorance which all the Prophets came to remove. To Bahá’u’lláh, religion is not one of life’s several aspects, but the predominant spirit which expresses itself through all aspects, producing, in its purity, harmony among the diverse elements of will, imagination, feeling and thought. First in order of experience, the realization of God; then the realization of self; last of all, the realization of one’s relation to his fellowmen and the world.
The true meaning of all history, to Bahá’u’lláh, reveals the nearness of men to the realization of God or their remoteness therefrom; He teaches that all the Founders of religion are successive, corelated expressions of the will of God—identical as to purpose and function, separate and diverse only in that each Founder adapted the one divine teaching to the particular needs of His time. The
glory of this age, according to Bahá’u’lláh, is its capacity to understand the oneness of all religions; and His inextinguishable vision of united humanity vitalizes a method of unity based upon that understanding.
This point is essential to any consideration of the Bahá’í Cause. Let us turn to Bahá’u’lláh’s own words: “God, singly and alone, abideth in His place which is holy above space and time, mention and utterance, sign, description and definition, height and depth. God hath been and is everlastingly hidden in His own essence and will be eternally concealed in His identity from the sight of eyes. Nay, there hath not been nor will be any connection or relation between the created beings and His Word.
“Therefore God hath caused brilliant Essences of sanctity to appear from the holy worlds of the spirit, in human bodies, walking among mankind, in accordance with His abundant mercy.
“These Mirrors of sanctity fully reflect that Sun of existence and Essence of desire. Their knowledge expresses His knowledge, their dominion His dominion, their beauty His beauty, their power His power, and their manifestation His manifestation.
“Whosoever is favored by these shining and glorious Lights and hath attained to these luminous, radiant Suns of Truth during every manifestation, hath attained the realization of God, and entered the city of eternal life.
“Those who earnestly endeavor in the way of God, after severance from all else, will become so attached to that city that they will not abandon it for an instant. This city is the revelation of God, renewed everyone thousand years, more or less.”
It is a fair estimate of the teaching of Bahá’u’lláh, I believe, to consider it as being made up almost equally of an interpretation of that which is fundamental and true to all religions alike, and of encouragement and exhortation to respond, with spirit, mind and soul, to the new and greater religious possibilities of this age. “Know that in every age and dispensation all divine ordinances are changed, according to the requirements of the time, except the law of Love which, like unto a fountain, flows always and is never overtaken by change.”
But it is not the experience of one soul alone which establishes a religion; rather is it the sharing of that experience with others under conditions which raise the others to the level of the experience, transmuting them while maintaining the source undefiled. The supreme test of every religion is its power of spiritual continuity after the passing of the Founder Himself.
Bahá’u’lláh departed from this world in 1892, leaving among His papers a Will or Testament appointing His eldest son, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, the executive head of His Cause and the interpreter of His teachings. Whether or not the Bahá’í movement deserves the name “living religion” today is solely dependent upon the administration of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá during the thirty years that intervened between the death of Bahá’u’lláh and His own ascension in 1921.
By 1892 the Cause had spread to India, to Egypt, to Turkistan, to Palestine. Even a sympathetic observer might readily have considered it inherently limited in its appeal to the Oriental character and tradition. But forces were already at work which eventually extended the boundary of the Cause to include adherents in Europe and America as well. A returned missionary, for example, speaking at the Congress of Religions held at the World's Fair in Chicago, during 1893*, made the statement that there had just passed away in ‘Akká one whose spirit was so broad and universal that His teachings might well be studied as a means of restoring true religious faith. A number of people from America shortly afterwards visited ‘Akká in order to investigate the teachings, with the result that in ‘Abdu’l-Bahá they found a living
[*Henry H . Jessup, D. D .. of Beirut. Syria. See page 169.—Editors.]
manifestation of the spirit of universality they were seeking. The return of this group of students to America was, however, not the first point of contact between the Bahá’í Cause and the West. Previous to this event, Edward G. Browne, Orientalist of Cambridge University, had already made his memorable journey to Persia and ‘Akká, described in the introduction of his translation of A Traveller's Narrative written to illustrate the Episode of the Báb; still other European scholars who had studied the Cause being Baron Rosen, of Russia, and Comte de Gobineau, of France.
It was directly to the influence of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, nevertheless, that the Cause of Bahá’u’lláh owes its acceptance by thousands of people in the West. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá Himself was their first and most valid proof that through Bahá’u’lláh a new spiritual force had been revealed to this age; and it has been through the words and writings of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá that the essential principles of the Cause received their direct application to problems peculiar to Western civilization.
Careful comparison of the writings of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá with those of Bahá’u’lláh shows not the slightest divergence of essential principle. One is the Religion; the other the application of the Religion to a new and broader field of life. One is as a sun; the other as the circumferential rays of its light. The statement may be made without reservation that no previous religious teaching ever dealt with the innumerable problems of daily existence with such a degree of purity as ‘Abdu’l-Bahá maintained for the message of Bahá’u’lláh.
What unique claim, one may well ask, has this message upon our attention? What element does it bring not already contained in the older religious systems of the world? How can this new Cause contribute to a solution of those world problems under which humanity staggers today?
“Guidance,” said Bahá’u’lláh, “hath ever been by words, but now it is by deeds.”
True to this counsel, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá first applied to His own life those ordinances and principles He received from the teachings of Bahá’u’lláh. What ‘Abdu’l-Bahá gave to the world in words He had previously given as established facts. Before He announced to any Western audience the principle that the foundation of all religions is one, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá had already created a bond of sympathy and understanding between members of all religions. Before He spoke of the essential harmony of religion and science He had Himself explored the world of spirit and, with inward gaze, found the expression of love imprinted in nature and in man.
Between 1911 and 1913 ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, but recently released from two score years constant imprisonment, journeyed through Europe and America, delivering His Father’s message to audiences representing the Western industrial civilization in every aspect and phase. The principles developed by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá under such conditions may fairly be considered His characteristic solution of the problems of the age.
Let us attempt a brief summary of these principles, bearing in mind, however, the essential fact that, shorn of the spirit of love with which they were uttered, and lacking the will to unity, to which their appeal was made, they must remain inoperative until further suffering has purified the hearts of men.
Foremost among ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s principles is that of the independent investigation of truth.
A key to this principle may be found in ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s use of the word “imitation” where we would use such words as “superstition” or “prejudice” or “ignorance.” Looking upon the minds, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá perceived them as merely imitating one another and the past, like those prisoners who are chained one to another in rows. Few people ever stand apart from their mental and moral environment and test its standards by any universal truth. What most of us consider “thought” is merely an adapting of the common thinking to our personal ad-
vantage. The savage obeys the law of the jungle, and we obey no less blindly the customs of our own day; and consequently, so far as true self-realization is concerned, we are merely that same savage reborn to a jungle of men rather than a jungle of beasts. True independent investigation of reality leads to the investigation of our own inmost being, and makes us realize that severance from the self of passion and desire is the supreme independence.
Another of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s principles is that of the oneness of mankind. All that ‘Abdu’l-Bahá expressed through utterance or action He expressed from the positive and steadfast realization that mankind, in its origin and its end, is one spiritual Man, whose atoms, so to speak, we are. Today, as we see and feel the immediate inter-action of events and conditions throughout the world, and how no portion of humanity is independent of any other portion, we begin to realize something of the significance of this Bahá’í teaching. Thus for the first time one undeviating standard is available for the guidance of religions, governments, industries, education, science and art alike, and that standard is the promotion of the oneness of mankind. Whatever promotes unity is of the universal cause, and will prove fruitful and enduring; but whatever prevents unity is of limited effect, and will be rejected by the Holy Spirit whose action is predominant over all.
Another principle expressed by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá is that the foundation of all religion is one. For by “foundation” ‘Abdu’l-Bahá means the manifestation of the Holy Spirit, from which all the religions originally came. The Holy Spirit is at all times one, though like the spring season it comes and goes, for the Holy Spirit is the expression of the will of God, and God is not divided against Himself, but the people of the world are divided. It is this division of the people which causes differences in the effects of the Holy Spirit from age to age, for the Holy Spirit is perfect and complete in itself, but enters the world of humanity only according to the capacity of the time. It is an inexhaustible ocean, while the people are but small vessels that quickly overflow. Thus Moses, Buddha, Christ, Muḥammad seem different beings and founders of different religions; we see them in the mirror of the world’s division and not in the light of the Holy Spirit. In that light they are one being, one essence, one cause, one power and one foundation; and whatever they uttered is the reality, which we have seized and divided (interpreted) for our own gain, as the soldiers seized and divided the garments of Jesus. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá has said that when representatives of all the world’s religions have gathered for a sincere investigation of the foundation of religion, their oneness will become manifest and all the secondary, man-made features of religion will utterly disappear.
A fourth principle which ‘Abdu’l-Bahá enunciated was that religion must be in accord with science and reason. Now a person who is sick is limited by that sickness both physically and mentally, and he himself cannot overcome those limitations except by attaining health. In the same way there are limitations which fall upon the understanding from sickness of soul. It is spiritual sickness which makes it possible for a man to cling to a religion at variance with science and reason. He may not realize these limitations, but that is part of the disease. These limitations shut out the ray of the spirit, as a wall shuts out the sun. Thus irrational religion does not and cannot become truly predominant in human affairs. Even the fanatic does not follow out his religion in all things, but his self-interest or self-gratification is served in devious ways. Without the Holy Spirit a religion cannot awaken souls, but irrational religion gains influence over material affairs through being itself material.
But this principle is binding upon
science no less than upon religion. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá summorts the man of science to spiritual religion as He summons the man of religion to an appreciation of science. If in a laboratory, by means of certain elements, an important experiment could be carried out and thereby great human benefits obtained, what should we think of the person who, though refusing to enter the laboratory, nevertheless denied the possibility of the experiment? Yet modern science for the most part takes this very attitude towards religion. For the founders of all religions have indicated the elements and principles for the development of spirituality, and the people of science deny the essence of spirituality while refusing to enter the laboratory of the spirit of the infinite in their own souls.
As a matter of fact, while irrational religion and materialistic science seem outwardly opposed, inwardly they are equally conditions of being that manifest the absence of the Holy Spirit. Both are plants confined in darkness, and both are ships deprived of sails. Where the Holy Spirit obtains, all seeming antagonism between science and religion vanishes, for there is but one Reality, though this can be cognized by the several faculties on the several planes.
‘Abdu’l-Bahá has also expressed as an organic, universal principle the equality of man and woman — emphasizing again and again the fact that the solution of our spiritual as well as social problems is dependent on the attainment of this equality.
“Humanity,” He said, “has two wings, man and woman; when one wing only is available the bird cannot fly.”
As to those existing inequalities between the sexes , so deeply rooted in custom and also institutions, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá stated that these were due not to inequalities of capacity but to inequalities of opportunity. Beginning with education, we may anticipate—not only for the West but also for the East — the irresistible progress of woman towards true equality with man, a progress whose milestones will be the abolition of militarism, poverty, ignorance and disease.
“All former religions,” ‘Abdu’l-Bahá stated on one occasion, “gave man a higher station than woman, but Bahá’u’lláh has declared that they are equal in all conditions and degrees.” The importance attributed to this principle in the Bahá’í Cause can be measured by another teaching, to the effect that parents who can afford to educate only one child should give preference to daughter over son, the reason being that mothers are the first educators of the race.
At the very dawn of the feminist movement it was a Bahá’í, in fact, the famous poetess Qurratu’l-‘Ayn, who first threw off the traditional veil of the Oriental woman, and entered that extraordinary career of public teaching which led to her martyrdom by the enemies of Bahá’u’lláh.
Another principle laid down by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá is that of the solution of the economic problem. The solution of the economic problem ‘Abdu’l-Bahá has declared to be a distinctive characteristic of religion in its universal aspect; for no human power or alliance of powers hitherto has been able to work out a solution.
Now, by the fear that is based on the idea of poverty either actual or prospective, the human soul is ever turned downward into nature, where the predominant law is the struggle for existence; and becoming dominated by this law, and captive to it, the soul's struggles only the more heavily burden its own chains. For the struggle for existence sets off the powers of one soul against the powers of another, and this mutual division of powers means mutual defeat. Thus in this day the sciences and inventions which shadow forth a universal order, and dumbly signify the existence of a reality whose law is co-operation, have become, through perversion, the greatest menace to the very existence of mankind.
“The disease which afflicts the body of humanity is lack of love and absence of
altruism,” said ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in New York City twelve years ago. “In the hearts of men no real love is found, and the condition is such that unless their susceptibilities are awakened by some power so that unity, love and accord develop within them, there can be no healing, no relief among mankind.”
A close study of this aspect of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s teaching indicates certain fundamental elements as conditional to the solution of the economic problem. One of these elements is the universal obligation of useful labor. Consider how idleness is condemned by physiologist and psychologist today, no less vigorously than by the moralist and the student of economics. Wealth does not exempt any human being from the consequences of idleness or even misdirected activity. The consequences are ill-health of mind as well as body, and that disordered condition whose end is impotence or insanity. Moreover, in avoiding useful labor, the privileged classes and their parasites have deprived themselves of the very capacity for labor, while that capacity increases in those who cannot or will not avoid work. In this condition we may see perhaps one meaning of Christ’s saying: “The meek shall inherit the earth.”
But ‘Abdu’l-Bahá has also stated that useful labor, performed in the spirit of service, and with the ideal of perfection, is accounted an act of worship and a form of prayer. Now prayer and worship, in their true signification, are not cries for assistance, nor requests for a gift, nor yet taxes paid to a spiritual overseer, but are expressions of love to God and gratitude for the supreme gift of life in the spirit that knows no death. It is this spirit of love and devotion which ‘Abdu’l-Bahá declares should actuate our daily labor. Moreover, work performed in this spirit is creative work, and to create is an attribute of God, so it is the worker who shows forth the divine image and likeness on this material plane. But consider how many changes must take place in the industrial world before this creative sense can be generally expressed, and before labor is surrounded by the conditions which this conception of labor demands! Nevertheless, even this shall be; for the Holy Spirit is destroying mightily all that intervenes between man and his own reality.
Another fundamental element is that of the voluntary sharing of wealth.
Reflect how those who possess other forms of wealth—physical, mental, moral and spiritual—have ever obeyed this universal and wonderful law. Thus those who share their physical strength with the weak; those who strive incessantly to increase the commonwealth of beauty and of truth; those who devote their lives to the realization of greater political justice; and, above all, those who give love to whosoever has it not, fulfill this divine law. All the love, beauty, truth, justice and science we have on earth are the result of a voluntary sharing of wealth—a divine principle whose veils grow darker and darker as we approach the lowest degree of wealth, which is gold. But were we to estimate the sum total of all the taxes paid to any government within the past fifty years, and regard this total as being wealth forcibly rather than voluntarily shared, we can perceive how disastrously extravagant material selfishness is, even on its own plane. For a fraction of that sum total, given in the spirit of unity, would have obviated most of those expenses by which taxes are consumed, while in addition increasing vastly the means of producing more wealth by all and for all.
Yet, far from condemning wealth, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá makes its attainment through useful labor a specific advice; but the object of its possession is the promotion of the unity of mankind. By considering wealth as a talent on the material plane, the principle becomes clear. It is not the inequality of talents or possessions which produces injustice, but the spirit of separateness in the poor as well as the rich, in the ignorant as well as in the learned. Mutual dependence is the essential foundation of love, for no one can stand alone.
Another principle strongly emphasized by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá is the establishment of an international auxiliary language.
As the nervous system is one through out the body, and co-ordinates all the organs and limbs, so the body of humanity requires one universal language and writing to be learned by all people in addition to the mother tongue, which shall serve to interpret its needs, unite its interests and consolidate its purposes; and diversity of tongues engenders the paralysis of the body of mankind. Those who have concern for human welfare and progress will surely give this subject the attention it deserves.
But the principle by which ‘Abdu’l-Bahá is most widely known, and for which He has been most extensively quoted, is that of universal peace. The assurance that this is the century of universal peace, the age of the elimination of warfare, the day of the most mighty surging of the spiritual waves and the full illumination of the Sun of Righteousness—this assurance is ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s steadfast covenant with those who follow Him.
Today the disaster of warfare is a net thrown over the whole of humanity, like the net thrown over a gladiator about to be slain. None can emerge from this net until all emerge. But the very fact that there is no escape for one save through escape for all, and the overwhelming danger of the present situation, brings the consciousness of the oneness of humanity nearer day by day. Therefore this overshadowing calamity feared as a net of death by those who view it with personal eyes, yet is seen to be a garment of divine protection by those who view all things in their spiritual light.
For the effort to avoid universal warfare is binding the minds and hearts of those who have been divided during history’s ten thousand years. It is creating the great agencies and institutions of the future humanity; it is destroying all agencies and institutions whose purpose is to keep humanity divided and enslaved. Consider how the world's two most powerful kings have lately been overthrown and their empires rent asunder, and the full toll of inveterate ambition and greed has not yet been taken.
Therefore the indifferent are becoming mindful, and the activities of all humanitarians are finding a common channel and a unified expression. But peace, perfect peace, must first possess the heart, through the breaths of the Holy Spirit; consequently those among the humanitarians who are wisest, while they strive to produce concrete results and discuss all possible methods, nevertheless have for their great objective the reconciling of the hearts of men. For only that which is established in the heart can ever be established in the world, and peace will never be made real, lasting or secure, until the world has recognized the power of the Holy Spirit which alone can conquer and subdue the rebellious hearts or ingraft one changeless ideal in the restless, ever-divided minds. This is the Most Great Peace; this is the Peace of God.
The arch which these social principles of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, like pillars, are intended to support—the structure which fulfills their purpose and directs their use—is the principle of an international tribunal.
‘Abdu’l-Bahá ever visioned the world federation wherein all men and women have part, and invokes this ideal within the minds of progressive people of all races and nations. Its cement is an international tribunal instituted through democratic selection and given binding authority by mutual agreement and pledge. No portion of the race but will be fairly represented, therefore no portion but will be controlled by its decisions. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá has said that when this tribunal is established, all controversial problems would be brought before it and any government which unjustly instigated war would thus be resisted by all the nations, the chief function of this world arbitration court being to prevent war. This is the firm basis of peace, and no
agreement with reservations can be substituted for it.
lt is an inherent part of all ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s teaching on the subject of tribunals and political progress that the spiritual conditions for real justice have not yet been fulfilled. He regards the function of legislation as a function of illumined minds, severed from all considerations save those of justice and truth. Just as the poet receives his visions, or the scientist his principles, through intense meditation, so will the future legislative body arrive at its structure of civic, national or international law. Order is of the essence of the manifested universe, and that order flows through and inspires the minds that turn to it in unity and for the purpose of manifesting justice. Thus those who are capable of entering this unity and impersonal abstraction are to be selected by the people from their wisest men. The legislator, in fact, is placed by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in a high spiritual station, where the solving of great politicaland economic problems is dependent upon such intense meditation.
Thus, in brief, has the Successor and Interpreter of Bahá’u’lláh established a vital contact for His followers with thefundamental needs of the time—a contact which carries religion into the very heart of life, yet without impairing its essential sanctity and holiness. To produce a world civilization reflecting the oneness of God in the harmony of mankind—a civilization which is not merely the exploitation of nature but rather a fitting environmentfor the soul—such was the ideal of'Abdu'l-Baha, and the purpose inspiring His difficult and arduous journeys of teaching throughout the West. The social aspects of the Bahá’í teaching are supremely important at the present day.
The relationship of social service to the religious life, so strongly emphasized in the Bahá’í teachings, is perfectly symbolized in the form of the Temple, or universal House of Worship, which Bahá’u’lláh established. The Bahá’í Temple, already in process of construction at Wilmette, a suburb of Chicago, on the shores of Lake Michigan in the United States, embodies this conception on a most impressive scale. Open to all men and women without distinction of race, class, creed or color, this institution will, on completion, consist of a central structure devoted to meditation and prayer, surrounded by other edifices used as schools, asylums, hospitals, hostels, and orphanages—the embodiment, in fact, not merely of the relationship of religion to life, but also of soul to body. The first Bahá’í Temple to be constructed was erected at ‘Ishqábád, Turkistán. It is a matter of interesting record that contributions for the Temple at Wilmette have been sent by representatives of every race and creed both in the East and the West. The world contains no purer expression of the new inter-religious, inter-racial and international brotherhood that is coming to fruition in this age.
The wise student of religion, however, seeking for the hidden springs of any faith, examines not merely the documents and individuals which it has produced, but also the characteristic forms devised by its followers in order to perpetuate its existence. Alone among religions the organization of the Bahá’í Cause is evolving through forms laid down by the Founder Himself, forms which manifest the spirit of democracy and directly contribute to the habit of democracy among all who come under their influence.
Beginning with the local community, the administrative details of Bahá’í service and teaching are in the hands of a “Spiritual Assembly” consisting of nine persons elected annually by universal suffrage of the believers. For the nation, in turn, Bahá’í administration is entrusted to a “National Spiritual Assembly” elected by representatives of the local Assemblies. Outside Persia, where the Cause has penetrated to every town and village, nearly two hundred local Assemblies exist at the present time. Of National Assemblies there are now five. In the future the National Assemblies will in the same way, send representatives to
an international Bahá’í conference, who will elect an International Assembly of nine. None of these bodies has authority or power to pass upon matters of doctrine and faith. None can, directly or indirectly, assume to come between the individual soul and God. Their province is confined to the practical affairs of life, corresponding to the function of the legislator and the executive rather than the priest. To the Bahá’ís, the text left by Bahá’u’lláh in writing, together with the commentary of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, likewise in writing, constitutes a religion in its fullness and maturity of expression, giving no opportunity to those superimposed creeds which arbitrarily narrow and control the gates of faith.
This outline of the form along which the Cause is now developing establishes, very obviously, a kind of moral school whose students are voluntarily practicing the elementary lessons of world brotherhood. Small though it is, in comparison with the vast population of the earth, it nevertheless must be regarded as a “working model“ of that unity we all long for, and an evidence of the essential power of the vision of Bahá’u’lláh too concrete to be dismissed. As in the early days of the movement, this present development proceeds without the inducement of material reward, since the strictest injunction is laid upon Bahá’ís to abstain from political activities in or through the Cause.
In conclusion, I ask you to consider one all-important fact: Just as a lighted lamp is to be measured, not by its physical size, but rather by the area covered by its rays, so a living religion should be estimated, not in terms of numbers nor of property, but by the area of human experience it is able to illumine through its innate force of truth. Were we to follow, sympathetically and understandingly, those beams of conscious love that shine so brightly through the teachings of Bahá’u’lláh, never again could we bring ourselves to use the term “religions,“ but rather should we behold successive outpourings of one same Divine Love, undivided and indivisible—infinitely humble, the very spirit of meekness, outwardly soon overthrown, yet returning again and again through the ages, the teacher, the consoler, the reconciler of all mankind. None can claim that he is a follower of Bahá’u’lláh until, in spirit, he is a follower of every Messenger who has brightened earth with the “glad-tidings“ of the victory of God. None can claim that he is a follower of Bahá’u’lláh who conceives any portion or aspect of life as non-religious, non-contributive to the eternal ascent of the soul. None can claim that he is a follower of Bahá’u’lláh whilst secret intolerance separates him from any fellowman. Above all, none can claim that he is a follower of Bahá’u’lláh whose heart remains barren, fearful or indifferent in this present age—the day which is witness to the overthrow of the foundations of materialism, and the kindling of human hearts with the spirit of universal knowledge and love.
Permit me to close this brief, all too-inadequate presentation of the Bahá’í Cause with a prayer uttered by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá:
“Bring thy children together again, O Lord, by the power of Thy Covenant, and gather their dispersion by the might of Thy promise, and unite their hearts by the dominion of Thy love. Make them love one another so that they may sacrifice their spirits, expend their substance and freely devote their lives for each other’s sake.
“O Lord, cause to descend upon them quietness and tranquillity. Shower upon them the clouds of Thy mercy in great abundance, and make them to characterise themselves with the attributes of the Merciful!
“O Lord, make us firm in Thy noble command and bestow upon us Thy gifts through Thy bounty, grace and munificence.
“Verily, Thou art the Generous, the Merciful, the Willer of all good!”
A Bahá’í class in Caucasus, Russia. This very interesting picture shows a group of Bahá’í children receiving instructions in the principles of character building.
Ruḥí Effendi Afnán
THE speaker who preceded me gave you a sketch of the history of the Bahá’í Movement as well as a statement of some of its fundamental principles and teachings. It now rests with me to explain briefly the significance of those principles and teachings and to describe the profound changes they have wrought in the lives of their followers.
At a time when the spirit of materialism was spreading all over Europe, when internal revolutions, diplomatic intrigues, political strife and economic rivalries were darkening the horizon of an agitated and suffering world, Bahá’u’lláh, from the prison city of ‘Akká, addressed a number of Epistles to the monarchs and rulers of the world to whom He declared His teachings and principles.
To the Bahá’ís these teachings stand out as the only remedy for the divers ills of the present age and the only solution of its manifold problems.
Bahá’u’lláh saw the world like the surface of a glacier hopelessly divided by innumerable fissures and dark and deep crevasses. The development of modern science had opened the eyes of men to the bigotry and prejudice that existed in religion and had so alienated them from it that even its pure and fundamental truths seemed, to their minds, to be darkened. The gulf existing between man and God was widening and agnosticism was the fashion of the day.
The spirit of nationalism, embittered by fierce economic and political rivalries, had so widened the chasms separating the nations, that nothing less than a great world war could be foreseen.
Within the individual nations also, new lines of cleavage accentuated the divisions and differences of men, and class hatred and economic unrest were spreading fast over the European continent.
Bahá’u’lláh conceived the glorious vision of the Oneness of Mankind and set before Himself the task of healing, by aid of His fundamental principles, every sore that afflicted the body of humanity. He knew well that unless all the crevasses were bridged over and all the differences removed, unity and universal peace would not prove enduring, nor even attainable.
To bring back man to God and at the same time to enable him to appreciate the advantages which science provides, He declared that true religion and science cannot possibly be antagonistic. For both, in their essence, are truths, and between truths there can be no conflict. Moreover, to reconcile the religious, he laid it down, as a guiding principle, that the purpose of Religion is to provide a social bond, to create a new force in man’s life, to infuse in him the love of his neighbor. If, therefore, a religion, which He likened to a medicine, should aggravate the disease, it is far better to be without it.
In adjusting international difficulties He did not advocate political methods. He knew that war is only the result of a state of mind, a spirit of blind and narrow nationalism inherent in man’s heart. He, therefore, dealt His first blow by declaring that “Glory is not his who loves his country, but glory is his who loves his kind.” All men are the sheep of one fold and God the divine and loving Shepherd. Why, therefore, slay each other?
As one of the sources of misunderstanding is multiplicity of languages, He called upon the members of the International House of Justice, either to create a new auxiliary language or to choose one of those already existing and to have it taught in all the schools of the world, so that ideas might be more easily diffused and the risk of grave misunderstanding lessened. He then laid down the broad lines that should direct the formation of the International House of Justice, a supreme and all-inclusive body whose members shall be fully accredited representa-
tives of all the peoples of the world. They shall assemble, and after mature deliberation, arbitrate on all questions, social, political and economic, which may lead to war.
In order to eliminate the root cause of all forms of class hatred He proclaimed, “Do ye know why We have created you from one clay? That no one should exalt himself over the other. Ponder in your heart how ye were created. It behooveth you, since We have created you all from the same substance, to be even as one soul, in such wise that ye may walk with the same feet, eat with the same mouth and dwell in the same land; that from your inmost being, by your deeds and actions, the signs of oneness and the essence of detachment may be made manifest. This is My counsel unto you, O ye concourse of Light! Heed ye this counsel, that ye may obtain the Fruit of Holiness from the Tree of Wondrous Glory.”
Thus by taking away all the causes of differences Bahá’u’lláh sought to establish the Oneness of Mankind and to abolish definitely international and class war.
Up to the present religion has been static in nature. At the time of its appearance it satisfies the needs of humanity, solves its problems and improves its condition, but being rigid in its laws, fails to keep pace with civilization and slowly falls behind, loses its influence and becomes a drag on development. Bahá’u’lláh, however, has laid down some basic principles which can be applied to all stages of human progress, and then empowered the International House of Justice, which is a purely democratic institution, to amend these laws and mould them to the needs of the time. He says, “Inasmuch as for each time and day a particular law and order is expedient, power is given to the ministers of the House of Justice, so that they may execute that which they deem advisable at the time.” So, according to the Bahá’í ideal religion will become a progressive and dynamic institution and remain a source of inspiration and progress.
During the last two or three decades various progressive movements have appeared with rather similar aims, proclaiming very much the same principles. Yet hardly has anyone of them to my knowledge given such a comprehensive and perfect program of reform. They have each, as a rule, confined themselves to only a few of the vast and varied problems of the age, oblivious of the fact that, so long as one single sore remains neglected, germs may find their way in and endanger the life of humanity. For, how could universal peace be insured when religious and racial differences breed hatred or even when the multiplicity of languages hampers mutual understanding.
The service rendered by these various progressive movements is undeniably great and their efforts are highly valued by all Bahá’ís who on this occasion would like to place on record their sincere and profound appreciation.
In addition to the constant and appalling persecution the Bahá’ís have suffered at the hands of the fanatical elements in Persia, they have been the target of some misleading criticism from various writers of the West. Unable to deny the beauty and potency of the teachings of Bahá’u’lláh, these critics have not ceased to declare that such lofty principles were only inspiring ideals and not practical reforms attainable by mankind. These progressive movements have fortunately opened the eyes of the world not only to the practicability but also to the absolute and urgent need of our present civilization for the League of Nations. They have taught the world that a narrow nationalism was the curse of the present age and the recent past, and that the sooner we accustom ourselves to think super-nationally, the more easy it will become to manage our intricate international affairs.
Those critics imagined that the religions of the world could never be reconciled, but the modern developments of the science of comparative religion, which has come into prominence only in the last three decades, together with conferences similar and leading up to this present one,
will before long prove to the world that the fundamental principles underlying all the religions are one, that their only points of difference are the minor questions that relate to rites, ceremonies and external practices which must be necessarily modified with the changes in human wants and environment. The world has already begun to realize that controversies over such secondary points only serve to alienate those sincere souls to whom the heart of religion is all important and who by nature would be willing rather to hold out the hand of fellowship to all who worship at the Altar of the One Living God, than to wrangle over forms that seem to their minds of only secondary value.
I have tried to give a picture of the high aim that Bahá’u’lláh had set before Him, and now I pray your attention for a few moments more to a brief description of the far-reaching changes brought about in the life of His followers.
In the East, especially in the land of its birth, Persia, where it admittedly stands, amid the chaos and corruption of its heedless inhabitants, as the beacon-light of progress and reform, its achievements have been great. There, under an unceasing storm of persecution, abuse and calumny, the Movement has not only wrought a fundamental revolution in the life of the individuals but has also inaugurated various reforms of which I shall mention only two.
Wherever the number of the Bahá’ís is sufficiently great, and they can afford the means, a school has been established to provide the necessary primary education for girls as well as for boys. As even these schools are under constant threat of being closed, the Bahá’ís have not been able to pursue this course to its desired extent. Only three years ago one of the schools which had been established after immeasurable sacrifices and difficulties, was burned down by the mob and its poor students severely beaten and dispersed.
I need not dwell upon the degrading position of women in such a state as Persia. Not only are they debarred from the smallest measure of freedom and education, but are in many cases considered nothing more than a mere appendage, an indispensable, but utterly servile member of the household. Wherever a Bahá’í community can provide schools for its boys it also institutes one for its girls. In fact, Bahá’u’lláh clearly states that, as the girls will be the mothers of the future generations, they must receive preferential treatment in education. In electing the members of the Spiritual Assemblies, which are the centre of Bahá’í activities, the women are given a position absolutely equal to that of the men. There remains only one more step to take, and that is to discard the veil. This has not yet been done, because we believe that in a backward and immature country such as Persia, the education of both boys and girls should make much greater progress before the adoption of so drastic and daring a reform. The Bahá’í women have, however, organized societies of their own to educate themselves and further their cause. Before long, we all hope, even the veil will be set aside and the women accorded a position in Persia equal to their sisters even in some of the most progressive states of Europe.
In the West, where enlightened and capable governments are continuously enacting laws which provide for the material well-being of the citizens, this field for Bahá’í activity has not been so great. Its influence has been mainly to create the spirit of international brotherhood and wipe out religious, social and economic prejudices. Those who have had the chance of attending a Bahá’í meeting, either in the East or in the West, can appreciate the important and far-reaching influence of the Movement along that line. People of different, and at times conflicting, views assemble and enjoy mutual love and harmony. Even the most illiterate of the Bahá’ís are free from prejudice. To them Christian or Jew, Muḥammadan or Zoroastrian, Eastern or Western, all stand on an equal footing and are considered as brothers in the love of the One God.
Moreover, when I see that it is only since the appearance of Bahá’u’lláh and the declaration of His principles that many movements have been established with the hope of spreading principles similar to His, when I see that it is since then that the conception of a League of Nations and International Brotherhood has come down from the field of mere idealism into common politics, that a movement for a Universal Language has been created, that women have been obtaining a better social and political position, and that the cause of Universal and free Education has been advanced,I cannot but endorse ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s saying that “the spirit of the Cause is pulsating in the arteries of mankind,” that we are undergoing that social and intellectual revival which appeared at the advent of every Prophet and prepared the world for accepting His Teachings.
In conclusion, it will be generally agreed that it would be far from God’s infinite mercy to give His helpless creatures the freedom to tread on dangerous ground, and whilst knowing the solution of their problems to stand aside heedless of their sufferings and deaf to their constant prayers. It is in accordance with His divine attributes to give them guidance when need arises, to send them a Messenger with the necessary laws and commandments to put them on the right path of safety. And now that the social unrest is becoming a real menace to civilization itself, when world problems in their acuteness and mUltiplicity are baffling the minds of men, we, a small yet determined band, fired by the unquenchable enthusiasm of the promise of a New Day, firmly believe that the sea of divine compassion has surged, that the Lord has sent His Messenger with the necessary solution of those intricate problems. The Bahá’ís on their part have tried their utmost, have sacrificed their well-being, their property, their all, to diffuse this spirit far and wide. Is the world willing to answer their call, or at least to deem it worthy of attention?
An address delivered at Steinway Hall, London, England, September 28, 1924,
during the Conference of Some Living Religions Within the British Empire,
held at the Imperial Institute, London, September 22 to October 3, 1924.
Dr. Walter Walsh
“All must adhere to the means which are conducive to love and unity.”
DURING the week which has just ended, more than a dozen of the principal forms of religion—non-Christian and non-Judaic — the forms of religion we were taught to stigmatise as “heathen”—have been expounding their views to one another; and lo! their coming together has been found “conducive to love and unity.” Those who followed the Conference through its various expositions, became conscious of a thought growing more and more into a conviction — the staggering thought and conviction, namely, that, spite of all surface differences, the living Religions are characterized by a fundamental unity. Where one may have expected conflict we find concord; where he anticipated antagonism we have found reconciliation; and where he looked for contraries we have discovered Unities. Throughout these wonderful days, indeed, we have been receiving an object-lesson in the noble science of Comparative Religion. The old presumptions have been shrivelling up before our eyes. Our ears have heard—not the brazen discords of a sectarian jazz band, but the harmonious notes of a spiritual symphony. The note of our age is Reconciliation; and the grand symphony of the Universal has received new expression from the lips of the various exponents of the common faith. It is through the unity of the spirit exemplified in this Conference that the peace of the world will be finally secured.
Of all the notes in the General Evangel, none has sounded sweeter and clearer than that uttered by Bahá’u’lláh and His Successor ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, whose gracious, healing message some of us were privileged to hear from His own lips some years ago. The Bahá’í Movement occupies a foremost place among those new orientations which make for universal harmony and peace. It emphasizes the unity of the spirit of man, the unity of the religions in their essential characteristics and principles, and it prophesies and prepares the way for the final unity of the races.
What constitutes a “living religion?” Mr. Victor Branford, in his illuminating book on the subject, defines a “living religion” as one that has risen from a Nature-religion to a Spirit-religion, and which continues to enrich itself by social adaptations and the growing truths of science. May I add to the description the idea that a “living religion” is one that teaches and inspires men and women to live—to live rationally, unselfishly, and fully. Following the lead of the Conference, it is clear that the trend of every form of religion in the world today is towards three great Unities-the Unity of God, the Unity of Man, and the Unity (or Comm-unity) of
Interests. I further assume that the spirit of religion—like the atmosphere around our bodies—seeks to induce the Peace of God in the heart, and the Peace of the World between nations.
First, take the idea of the Unity of God. History makes it clear that divided Deities imply divided Peoples. The age of Tribal Deities was the age of Tribal wars: Imperial Deities have landed us in Imperial wars. The ascent of Man is traced by his successive advances from the cave to the hut, from the hut to the village, from the village to the city, from the city to the nation, from the nation to the empire, from the empire to Humanity. The last step awaits to be taken. The tribal chiefs were merely super-savages who frequently offered their war captives in sacrifice to their gods. The imperial savages of today are content to penalize their beaten foes by impossible exactions, and by reducing them to industrial helotry. The moral ascent of peoples is marked by successive discoveries that national “rights” are not seldom international “wrongs.” In the extent to which communities cease to attribute their own preferences and passions to the gods—in that degree does brotherhood become possible. When go the hostile gods, away go national hostilities.
To us, the history of the Semites is the most familiar example. Semitic history opens upon a whole catalog of tribal gods—Asshur of the Assyrians, Chemosh of the Moabites, Moloch of the Ammonites, Jehovah of the Hebrews. Monotheism was not yet born, and therefore separation was inevitable. A common religion is the most powerful of bonds, within its own limits, and when the limits are recognized to be no narrower than the Human Race, we get a Bond of Brotherhood that cannot be broken. When the Assyrians invaded Judah, Sennacherib warned the Israelites that they need not think to be protected by their tribal Jehovah; for the gods of Samaria and other nations had been unable to protect their devotees from his—the Assyrian power ; that is, from the Assyrian gods, who were more powerful than those of the Israelites (2 Kings xviii, 32-35). When the Assyrians carried away the Northern tribes of Samaria and repeopled the land with Babylonians, it is curiously stated that the new colonists did not know how to worship “the god of the land,” who therefore became angry and punished them by an invasion of lions, so that they had to bring some of the Samarian priests back to restore the worship of “the god of the land,” who was obviously an indigenous deity, as anthropologists term it—a deity who is limited and confined to the very soil, and unable to cross the border to succour his worshipers (2 Kings xvii, 26). This idea of the indigenous deity—the deity rooted in and confined to the very soil of a country — is curiously exemplified by the story of Naaman the Syrian, who, after being cured of his leprosy by the Hebrew Elisha, begged to carry back to Syria two mule-loads of Palestinian earth—a few spadefuls of Jehovah's land—on which, in Syria, he might build an altar, and offer sacrifice (2 Kings v, 17) . At that primitive stage of theology, the least conception of Humanity was impossible, or of a United Race, or of the General Good.
On this occasion, time forbids me to trace the expansion of theology in the Semitic and other Oriental forms of religion, with their glimmerings of the larger truth and wider internationalism; such as are found, for example in the Hebrew drama of Jonah. To the Greek Stoics belongs the credit of first and definitely affirming the notion of the Brotherhood of Man, from which in turn sprang the idea of Natural Rights; but it was not till the break-up of the Roman empire followed by the conflicts between Emperor and Pope and the appalling wars that accompanied the passing of Feudalism—it was not till then, I say, that the idea of International Law formulated itself in the human mind, was expressed by Grotius the Dutch Jurist, and is now embodied in the International Court of Justice at the Hague.
Representative Bahá’ís of Caucasus.
Representative Bahá’ís of Caucasus.
Theological prejudice involved in the idea of tribal or national Deities bore inevitable sour fruit in the shape of National Prejudice, which, with the possible exception of Sectarian Bigotry, is perhaps the most invincible foe of human progress. Hard to uproot are these hostile traditions! True ideas take long to realize, but the principle of progress is in the idea, and we cannot doubt that the wide acceptance of the Unity of God will be accompanied by a corresponding abatement of racial instincts, suspicions, and fears. The idea that nations are independent entities will yield to that of Human Solidarity. The realization of Human Solidarity will place the fact of Interdependence beyond dispute. Mutuality will take the place of hostility. Cooperation will replace competition. Instead of the false notion that a nation is endangered by the prosperity of its rivals, and that competition to the extent of war is necessary for self-preservation, we shall get the true notion of a Community of Interests, when every commercial tariff will be erased, every trade barrier thrown down; when every Custom House will be turned into an International Club and every Barracks into an International Theatre. With the old gods will pass away the old traditions and the old statesmen, and the human race will have entered definitely on the era of Universal Peace.
For mankind are one in spirit, and an instinct bears along,
Round the earth’s electric circle, the swift flash of right or wrong;
Whether conscious or unconscious, yet Humanity’s vast frame
Through its ocean-sundered fibres feels the gush of joy or shame;—
In the gain or loss of one race all the rest have equal claim.
If I am asked to furnish warrant for these shining expectations, I refer you to the Conference of Living Religions, which clearly intimates that religion is now striving to unite on the things that are fundamental and common to human nature. I have long seen, and frequently pointed out, that the Religions of the Orient were becoming subject to the same liberalizing influences as were those of the West. Criticism, Science, and Sociology are at work upon the Rig-Veda as well as upon the New Testament, and upon the Qur’án as well as upon the Bible. The spirit of the East and the West is evolving a common perception and a common purpose — the perception of the Unity of God, and the purpose of the Unity of Man; the mystical concept of the Kingdom of Heaven striving to realize itself in a Commonwealth of Nations—the grand dream of all the ages, bequeathed to this age to realize in one great, pacific, World-State.
Is it a dream?
Nay, but the lack of it the dream,
And failing it, life's lore and wealth a dream,
And all the world a dream.
(Walt Whitman .)
It is plain that the idea of the Unity of Man follows on that of the Unity of God. This is the rock on which to build the civilization of the future—the Common Nature underlying all differences; while the militaristic civilization based on division and mistrust—“our unsurpassed civilization,” as an affected writer puts it—sinks deeper and deeper into the blood-soaked sands of time.
Let no one, however, suppose that ourtask is done! Let no one exclaim with the Lotos-eaters, “Here will we rest.” Progressive religion has yet stern work to do. It has to despatch the Ecclesiastical Gods to the same limbo as the vanishing Gods of the Tribe. The Externalities of Religion have to be cut away like dead branches, that the inner life, the life of the soul, the Communal Life of the race, may expand and bear its myriad fruits for the healing and enrichment of the peoples. The idea of Divine Favoritism must be banished from every form of
religion—the ideals of special privilege, chosen peoples, exclusive revelations, nationalistic incarnations, salvation limited by sacramental and liturgical conditions,—all these egoistic ideals must be eliminated. A Deity with ecclesiastical prejudices can deliver mankind no more than a Deity with tribal prejudices. The Ecclesiastical Deities have given us divided America and sundered India and distracted Europe. During the war, the Ecclesiastical Deities gave us the spectacle of Protestant Britain, Roman Catholic Belgium, Greek Russia, and Free-thinking France united against Protestant Germany, Roman Catholic Austria, and Muḥammadan Turkey. They fortified the hills around Nazareth with big guns, and surrounded Bethlehem with barbed-wire entanglements. The old Tribal Deities were resurrected “for the duration of the war,” and clothed in the garb of modern ecclesiasticism.
The Ecclesiastical Deities pursue their victims to the bitter end, to the death, as men say. For example, according to newspaper records, five hundred men were drowned, and Mother Nature asked no questions, but buried them in one common ocean-grave. Three of the dead, however, were washed ashore, of whom one proved to be a Roman Catholic, the second a Greek Christian, and the third an Anglican, so they buried them in three separate graveyards! In a letter to ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, the late Arminius Vambéry that great Orientalist and traveler, confessed that he had at different times professed himself a Jew, a Christian, a Muḥammadan, and a Zoroastrian, in order to discover the truth of things for himself, and had found that “all these religions have become the instruments of tyranny and oppression in the hands of rulers and governors, and they are the causes of the destruction of the world of humanity.” For these reasons, Vambéry enlisted himself on the side of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, and accepted with joy the prospect of a fundamental basis for a universal religion of God being laid through His efforts. [See page 162.]
Let us face the hard truth. As we have to get rid of prejudice, pride, patriotism and nationalism in the world of politics, so we have to abolish partisanship, particularism and exclusive claims of truth, messiahship, etc., from religion. Christians have usually stigmatized Muḥammadanism as an intolerant form of religion; but the late Canon Cheyne—Christian scholar and dignitary of the Church—expressly accused Christianity of being “intolerant of other religions,” while, in the same book,* he upholds the Bahá’í Movement (along with the Brahmo Somaj) as making for the Spiritual Unification of all peoples; for which reason he had attached himself to the Movement.
In this way, as it seems, will Community of Interest be reached through the Unity of Man, as that is reached through the Unity of God. While the political leaders of the world—quite sincerely no doubt, for they are all terribly frightened—are striving to substitute for the old war-provoking “Balance of Power” a pacific League or “Concert of Nations,” it is for the religious leaders of mankind to create a Symphony or Sisterhood of Religions. That is the thing which presses. It calls for an early and far more representative Conference of Religions to consider the one vital question of the Peace of the World. I can think of no one better qualified to convene such a World-Conference of Religious Representatives than is the Head of the Bahá’í Movement, Shoghi Effendi.
I hope I shall not die before seeing the completion of that great Mashriqu’l-Adhkár—the Dawning-Place of the Mention of God, on the shore of Lake Michigan—designed to be a vast and hospitable gathering-place for all the religions of the world; a resplendent symbol of the Unity
*The Reconciliation of Races and Religions.
of Man in the Oneness of God; and I might hope also to witness the completion of that similar Centre of Universal Religion, The Hall of All Religions as a great Peace Memorial—now being projected in India, even in the sacred city of Benares itself.
It is a wonderful thing that, in the very life-time of some here present, the great movement set in motion in Persia by the Báb, sanctified by His own blood and the blood of twenty thousand followers—extended and fortified by Bahá’u’lláh through forty years of captivity—and proclaimed to the Western world by the golden tongue of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá—the Chrysostom of the Movement—should be universally acclaimed as expressing the chief Hope of the World. All forms of religion are essentially the same, it teaches—all prophets and teachers of truth are true—all men are brothers—women are equals with men—equal education—equal opportunity—this pure Universalism, this exemplification of clear thinking and noble living, and, I may add, holy dying, is not indeed confined to the Bahá’í Movement; it is proclaimed and followed by some I have already mentioned, and by others, including the Free Religious Movement—but it has been so expressly set forth by the sanctified sagacity of Bahá’u’lláh, proclaimed by the silver eloquence of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, and watered by the blood of twice ten thousand martyrs—that the Bahá’í may by all generous minds be regarded as first among many brethren.
Here is a highly devotional form of religion, offering full encouragement to the spiritual and aspirational side of human nature, but at the same time giving dis-couragement to its superstitious tendencies; a religion disclaiming supernatural sanctions, non-miraculous, ethical, pacifist, humanist, universalist, yet withal profoundly spiritual;—to such a religion the blundering blood-stained world may hopefully look for guidance and inspiration. I was particularly struck by the paragraph in the Bahá’í paper, (read to the Conference by Mr. Mountfort Mills), in which the writer referred to the Economic situation. Amid much reading of Economics, I do not remember to have seen the trouble so clearly diagnosed as in the first sentence I am about to quote or the remedy more clearly set forth than in the last:
Now by the fear that is based on the idea of poverty either actual or prospective, the human soul is ever turned downward into nature, where the predominant law is the struggle for existence .. and becoming dominated by this law, and captive to it, the soul’s struggles only the more heavily burden its own chains. For the struggle for existence sets off the powers of one soul against the powers of another, and this mutual division of powers means mutual defeat. Thus in this day the sciences and inventions which shadow forth a universal order, and dumbly signify the existence of a reality whose law is co-operation, have become, through perversion, the greatest menace to the existence of mankind.”
“The disease which afflicts the body of humanity is lack of love and absence of altruism. In the hearts of men no real love is found, and the condition is such that unless their susceptibilities are awakened by some power so that unity, love and accord develop within them, there can be no healing, no relief among mankind.
This pure Universalism, this great Humanist religion, is fast outrunning both church and synagogue, both mosque and temple, and will speedily cover the earth with the glow of a brighter day. A European Club in China one day gathers Russians, Frenchmen, Germans, Austrians, Britons, Americans; they shake hands all round and sing Burns’ immortal “Auld Lang Syne!” The soldiers at the front could with difficulty be kept from fraternizing—they stopped the fighting and sang Christmas carols in Flanders. Verily there is neither Jew nor Greek, Russian, French, German, Indian, Afri-
can, nor Turk, but all are one in Humanity and Humanity’s God. On the altar of this glorious Universalism let us sacrifice our patriotic pride, our racial antagonisms, our religious antipathies, our theological prepossessions, our church limitations! To this Blessed Gospel of Reconciliation let us dedicate our lives!
We see our way as birds their trackless way,
We shall arrive! what time, what circuit first,
We ask not; but unless God send His hail
Or blinding fireballs, sleet or stifling snow,
In some time, His good time, we shall arrive.
The Teaching Committee of the Bahá’ís of Hamadán, Persia.
The Teaching Committee of the Bahá’ís of Hamadán, Persia.
Excerpts from Chapter on Muḥammad in the book, “Some Answered Questions,”
dictated to Laura Clifford Barney at ‘Akká, Palestine, 1904-1906.
Muḥammad appeared in the desert of Hijaz in the Arabian Peninsula, which was a desolate, sterile wilderness, sandy and uninhabited. Some parts, like Mecca and Madina, are extremely hot; the people are nomads with the manners and customs of the dwellers in the desert, and are entirely destitute of education and science. Muḥammad Himself was illiterate, and the Qur’án was originally written upon the blade bones of sheep, or on palm leaves. These details indicate the condition of the people to whom Muḥammad was sent.
These Arab tribes were in the lowest depths of savagery and barbarism. Muḥammad was reared among these tribes, and after enduring thirteen years of persecution from them, He fled (to Madina). But this people did not cease to oppress; they united to exterminate Him and all His followers. It was under such circumstances that Muḥammad was forced to take up arms.
This is the truth: personally we are not bigoted and do not wish to defend Him, but we are just, and we say what is just. Look at it with justice.
If Christ Himself had been placed in such circumstances among such tyrannical and barbarous tribes, and if for thirteen years He with His disciples had endured all these trials with patience culminating in flight from His native land—if in spite of this these lawless tribes continued to pursue Him, to slaughter the men, to pillage their property, and to capture their women and children, what would have been Christ’s conduct with regard to them? If this oppression had fallen only upon Himself He would have forgiven them, and such an act of forgiveness would have been most praiseworthy; but if He had seen that these cruel and blood-thirsty murderers wished to kill, to pillage and to injure all these oppressed ones, and to take captive the women and children, it is certain He would have protected them, and would have resisted the tyrants. What objection, then, can be taken to Muḥammad’s action?
Muḥammad never fought against the Christians; on the contrary, He treated them kindly and gave them perfect freedom. A community of Christian people lived at Najran who were under His care and protection. Muḥammad said, “If anyone infringes their rights, I myself will be his enemy, and in the presence of God I will bring a charge against him.” In the edicts which He promulgated it is clearly stated that the lives, properties, and laws of the Christians and Jews are under the protection of God.
Briefly, in such a country, and amidst such barbarous tribes, an illiterate man produced a Book in which, in a perfect and eloquent style, He explained the divine attributes and perfections, the prophethood of the Messengers of God, the divine laws, and some scientific facts.
Thus, you know that before the observations of modern times, that is to say, during the first centuries and down to the fifteenth century of the Christian era, all the mathematicians of the world
agreed that the earth was the center of the universe, and that the sun moved. The famous astronomer, Copernicus, who was the protagonist of the new theory, discovered the movement of the earth and the immobility of the sun. Until his time all the astronomers and philosophers of the world followed the Ptolemaic system, and whoever said anything against it was considered ignorant. Though Pythagoras, and Plato during the latter part of his life, adopted the theory that the annual movement of the sun around the Zodiac does not proceed from the sun, but rather from the movement of the earth around the sun; this theory had been entirely forgotten, and the Ptolemaic system was accepted by all mathematicians. But there are some verses revealed in the Qur’án contrary to the theory of the Ptolemaic system. One of them is, “The sun moves in a fixed place” (Sura 36), which shows the fixity of the sun, and its movement around an axis. Again, in another verse, “And each star moves in its own heaven” (Sura 36). Thus is explained the movement of the sun, of the moon, of the earth, and of other bodies. When the Qur’án appeared all the mathematicians ridiculed these statements, and attributed the theory to ignorance. Even the doctors of Islám, when they saw that these verses were contrary to the accepted Ptolemaic system, were obliged to explain them away.
It was not until after the fifteenth century of the Christian era, nearly nine hundred years after Muḥammad, that a famous astronomer, Galileo, made new observations and important discoveries by the aid of the telescope which he had invented. The rotation of the earth, the fixity of the sun, and also its movement around an axis, were discovered. It is thus evident that the verses of the Qur’án agree with existing facts, and that the Ptolemaic system is imaginary.
In short, many Oriental peoples have been reared for thirteen centuries under the shadow of the religion of Muḥammad. During the middle ages, while Europe was in the lowest depths of barbarism, the Arab peoples were superior to the other nations of the earth in learning, in the arts, mathematics, civilization, government, and other sciences. The enlightener and educator of these nomadic tribes, and the founder of the civilization and perfections of humanity among these different races, was an illiterate man, Muḥammad. Was this illustrious man a thorough educator or not? A just judgment is necessary.
The following letter was written to a Clergyman who, in giving a very liberal course
of lectures on the Religions of the World, showed, however, some
apprehension as to Muḥammadanism and its historic growth.
Henrietta C. Wagner
I  HAVE heard your two lectures on Muḥammadanism and rejoice to see the effort that is being made towards appreciation and mutual understanding, in lieu of the old idea that the Muḥammadans were heathen, their religion false, and ours the only true one.
I have been something of a student of Muḥammadanism for many years, and, through contact with people reared in the Muḥammadan faith, I have gained a new angle or point of view. In the first place, as we would not wish Muslims to judge of Christianity by the late spectacle of the Christian nations slaughtering each other, so we should not judge Muslims by the acts of some of their leaders.
To go back to the time of Muḥammad: I think history will bear me out in the statement that Muḥammad did not take up the sword to defend Himself and His followers until it was plain that His enemies meant to exterminate His religion. If their plan had been to kill Him alone, He would doubtless have given up His life joyfully, as Jesus did. But He was dealing with a different class of people, the lawless, bloodthirsty Arab tribes, who made war upon each other and stole their women and children. And, by the way, the custom of veiling the women antedated the time of Muḥammad, when the Arabs veiled their wives and daughters as a protection against their enemies. These people to whom Muḥammad was sent were so vicious that it has been said our American Indians were civilized compared with them. They buried their infant daughters alive, considering the birth of one a disgrace; a man could have a woman by throwing his cloak over her; he could throw her aside on any provocation, and he could have a thousand women if he wished.
Muḥammad finally organized these people into families, limiting them to four wives, and only this number if they were able to support them. It would have been impossible at that time to have made monogamists of these people, and thus the divine wisdom was manifested in leading them gradually into a better life. Today, through the example of a Great Soul in the Orient, who was a monogamist and set the example of a beautiful home life, many thousands of Muḥammadans are becoming monogamists.
Speaking of the sword, we must remember that that day was the day of the sword. Did not Jesus Himself say, “I came not to bring peace, but a sword?” By this He did not mean that He came to make trouble, but that His day, or dispensation, was not the day of peace—that was to come later. His day or dispensation was to be one of warfare, of bloodshed. He gave His peace to His disciples, but not to the world, for the world was against Him, and He knew the awful suffering and turmoil and un-
rest that must transpire before the people of the earth would turn their faces to God. Muḥammad knew the same thing.
I am not one of those who believe that Muḥammad obtained His knowledge of Jesus Christ from any written literature, or even by contacting with Christians, however wise or ignorant they may have been. He has been called the “ignorant camel driver.” It is certain that He was not taught in schools, but received His knowledge from divine inspiration, even as Jesus did, and the very fact that there is the same thread of heavenly wisdom running through the Qur’án as through the Bible and other sacred books of the world, proves that they were all of divine origin, inspired by one and the same God. Muḥammad is spoken of as the “Seal of the Prophets”—that is, the last of the line of Prophets “before the great and awful day of the Lord,” and He speaks of Jesus continually as the “Spirit” or the “Son of God,” and makes, as you know, frequent reference to all the Prophets of God who came before Him.
No, I believe that, even as the Angel Gabriel appeared to Joseph and Mary, he also appeared to Muḥammad, as He said, at various times, and dictated the Qur’án in sections, the original being written upon palm leaves and the dried bones of sheep and camels. As you say, parts of the Qur’án are illuminating, “other parts not so much.” Is this not true of our Bible also? I have heard agnostics say the Bible was not fit to be read, and they would point to certain things that Abraham and Solomon did. We might well say to those people, “Why don't you read the Sermon on the Mount, instead of the passages you refer to?”
We must also remember that, as our Bible is subject to interpretation, so also the Qur’án is subject to interpretation, and it is difficult for a Western mind to grasp, but that may be partly due to faulty translations. Speaking for myself, I have a copy of the Qur’án that I have had for fifteen years. At one time I set myself religiously the task of reading it, chapter by chapter. In this way I have read it over half through, but it was the hardest reading I ever did.*
It may be, as you say, that the Qur’án seems to be fatalistic, but that would seem to be due,also, to the character of the people to whom Muḥammad came and to the methods which it was necessary to take with them. It was necessary to take those vicious people by the heels and hold them over the burning lake of hell fire. He was constantly speaking of the wrath of God and hell fire, the Day of Judgment and the torment that awaited those who disobeyed the commands of God. Of course we know that these terms are only symbols.
In regard to Muḥammad’s attitude towards women, I refer to the oath of Muḥammad, which He required His followers to take. I have not a copy of this oath at hand, but it was to the effect that if a Muḥammadan married a Christian woman, He should treat her with kindness, He was not to interfere with her belief, but allow her to worship as she wished, and when she died her body was to be buried with her people. Also, it has been verified that Muḥammad took into His home many women and girls as a protection, who served in various capacities, and with even some it is said that He even went through a form of marriage, but to those who truly knew the man it was evident that He had one love and that was His beloved wife Kadeesha, the mother of Fatima, who married ‘Alí, His cousin and right-hand man. Through these two holy souls the spiritual descendants of Muḥammad, the twelve Imáms proceeded. These Imáms were mostly, if not all, put to death, and the religion fell into the hands of the corrupt caliphs, who saw an opportunity to propagate the religion for worldly gain, carried it into other countries at the point of the sword, and continued to hold Jeru-
[*No good translation of the Qur’án exists in English. In the French translation one finds the Qur’án much more readable.—Editors.]
salem, the Holy City, until the expiration of the time prophesied in our Bible, twelve hundred and sixty years.
So it is evident that the Western idea of Muḥammadanism is gained from the operations of these corrupt caliphs, not from the remnant of truly holy souls in every dispensation who have not “bowed the knee to Baal.”
I was hoping to hear you speak of the contribution which the Muḥammadans have made to science and art, and of its value, particularly during the “dark ages.” In a little book of excerpts which I have gathered for many years, I find the following. I do not know its origin, but I think it is from an encyclopedia:
“It is well known that many of the sciences and arts enjoyed today were introduced into Europe during the ‘middle ages’ through a Muḥammadan seat of learning, Cordova, Spain.
“The Arabs and Moors were an industrious people and the agriculture of Spain was in a most flourishing condition during their occupation of the country. They introduced plantations of sugar, rice, and cotton.
“The Moors of Spain made the finest paper manufactured in Europe, and their carpets and silks, gold and silver embroidery, manufactures in steel and leather, were long unrivaled.
“We are indebted to the Saracens of Spain for the elements of many of the useful sciences, especially chemistry. They introduced the simple Arabic figures which we use in arithmetic. They taught mathematics, astronomy, philosophy and medicine, and were so superior in knowledge to the Christian nations of Europe that many Christians of all nations went to be educated in the Arabian schools of Cordova.”*
Muḥammad taught that the earth revolved around the sun hundreds of years before the fact was discovered by Copernicus.
Referring again to Muḥammad’s attitude towards women, it is claimed by the Muslim women themselves that the degradation of the past centuries cannot be attributed to Him or His teachings, but rather to the aforesaid corrupt leaders who thus kept the people in subjection. Thank God, a New Day has dawned and our Muslim sisters throughout the Orient are becoming enlightened and educated, are laying aside their veils and breaking away the shackles that have bound them for centuries.
I wish you much success in your work of breaking down the prejudices which have kept God’s people apart. I feel that the dawn is truly breaking and that a New Day of unity, co-operation, mutual understanding and love is being ushered in.
Sincerely yours,
Henrietta C. Wagner
[*Seignobos, in his Histoire de la Civilization devotes many pages to the contributions of Muḥammadan culture to medieval Europe.—Editors.]
Bahá’í ladies of Persia
Stanwood Cobb
(From Star of the West)
“Amongst the women of our own time is Qurratu’l-‘Ayn, the daughter of a Muḥammadan priest. At the time of the appearance of the Báb she showed such tremendous courage and power that all who heard her were astonished. She threw aside her veil, despite the immemorial custom of the Persians, and although it was considered impolite to speak with men, this heroic woman carried on controversies with the most learned men, and in every meeting she vanquished them. When imprisoned she said, ‘You can kill me as soon as you like, but you cannot stop the emancipation of women’.”—‘Abdu’l-Bahá.
THE power of a great life to inspire other lives is vividly typified in the remarkable and dramatic influence of the great Persian feminist and poetess, Qurratu’l-‘Ayn, upon the New Woman Movement in Austria. The relation between this heroine of Persia, one of the greatest women the world has ever produced, and Marianne Hainisch, the greatest pioneer and leader in the Woman Movement of Austria for the last fifty years, is indeed dramatic. It came about in this way:
At the time when Mme. Hainisch, now the mother of the President of Austria, was turning toward work for the emancipation of womanhood, she was in the very closest friendship with Marie von Najmajer, who was also devoting herself to the work of womanhood and of humanity. Marie von Najmajer, the most gifted poetess of Austria in the last generation, never married. It was not that she did not have love for man, or that she had any antagonistic thoughts toward marriage, but because she wished to give her entire life to humanity.
Into the life of this poetess came, about 1870, a great inspiration from reading the career of Qurratu’l-‘Ayn-the story of whose life and martyrdom in the early days of the Bahá’í Movement is well known to the readers of the Bahá’í Magazine, Star of the West. Marie von Najmajer, as the result of this inspiration, did her greatest creative work—a long narrative poem entitled “Qurratu’l-‘Ayn”—based upon the life of this heroine. It is her greatest poem and one of the greatest pieces of poetic work Austria has produced, published in book form in 1874. From this beautiful poem a brief passage may be quoted in translation from the German in order to show both the poetic quality of this author and the character of Qurratu’l-‘Ayn in its power to inspire:
The news of Qurratu’l-‘Ayn’s approach
Was quickly spread to borders of the Caspian Sea,
And to Bedesht came many folk in pilgrimage
To meet her on the coming day.
And so one day upon the forest’s edge,
Where many tents were brightly stretched
Surrounded by gay carpet spread,
There streamed the people in, and lo, Qurratu’l-‘Ayn
Appeared, the people of Mázindarán to greet.
They all expected a haughty woman to see
Masterful, of lordly mien
And of proud glance.
And behold there came she from the forest
Tender-miened and lovely as a sunbeam
Breaking through a crown of foliage green;
In the highest simplicity, like an angel,
Modestly smiling as a beseeching child.
Yet as she, in clear and simple terms, began to speak
She appeared with every word to grow;
And continually by inspiration carried forward
She stood at last before them like a goddess
And cried inflamed, "Now the time is come
When God in spirit shall be worshiped and in truth.