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In its capacity as heir and trustee of the sacred history of the Dispensation of the
and the early years of the
Dispensation of Bahá’u’llah, the Assembly of Iran began some years ago, under the Guardian’s direction, to acquire,
restore and maintain properties associated with the Persons of the
CURRENT BAHA’t ACTIVITIES
Faith and its important historical events.
This subject receives due emphasis in the
Assembly’s report covering the present
“Of especial interest is the steady acquisition by the Bahâ’is of places sacred in the history of the Cause. A letter from the Guardian
defines these sacred areas as follows: ‘All places which were adorned by the footsteps of the Báb, Bahá’u’lláh and
‘Abdu’l-Bahá. The burial-places of companions and saints; the places where martyrs met their death; prisons and places of banishment
of the heroes of the Cause; fortresses which in the early days of the Manifestation were the refuge and center of the defense measures
of the companions; buildings and places which were the sanctuary of prisoners and exiles; and the homes and birth-places of the great
and the renowned of the companions in the dispensation of the Bayãn and the day of the Bahá’is.’
The sites acquired since the previous issue of THE BAHA’i WORLD appeared include:
Public bath in the Street of the SwordMaker, Shirãx.
Caravansary of the Maymandis in Bfishihr.
Nineteen burial places of martyrs at Manshád.
All Bahá’i historic properties at Kirmán.
Three of the gardens of Badasht.
House of the Beloved of Martyrs, I1fáhán.
House of IIáj Mirza Jáni, Káshán.
Burial place of 1-Iáji ‘Arab, ‘Iraq.
House of Mini Husayn-’Ali Nir, Tihrán.
House of E[áj Ahmad-i-Miláni, Milan.
House of the mayor of Tihrán.
Burial place of Quddfls, Bábul.
House in Najafábád.
House of Mullá Nasru’lláh, Shahmirzád.
“Exact restoration of the House of Bahá’u’lláh in Tákur, as directed by the Guardian some years ago is, through the
devoted efforts of Siyyid Mulsin Asási, almost completed; the exterior and iuterior ornamentation is soon to be done.
Aqãy-i-Asási has also had a well-constructed dam built across the village water-course and the Hizãr River, to protect
the building against threatened floods.”
THE PASSING OF MAY MAXWELL
BDU’L-BAHA’S beloved handmaid, (the) distinguished disciple, May Maxwell, (is) gathered (into the) glory (of
the) Abha Kingdom” the Bahá’is learned in a cablegram received from Shoghi Effendi on March 3,
Mrs. Maxwell passed from this life while engaged in teaching in the great new field of Latin America. She died at
Buenos Aires. A monument commemorating this Bahá’i martyr is to be placed at the grave in that city. “Southern
outpost (of) Faith,” the cable continued, “(has been) greatly enriched through association (with) her historic resting
place, (which is) destined (to) remain (a) poignant reminder (of the) resistless march (of the) triumphant army (of)
Bahâ’is throughout North and South America joined in memorial gatherings on Friday evening, April
meeting being held at Temple Foundation Hall, Wilmette, Illinois, during the Annual Convention of that year. The
believers of both
the Americas thus united for the first time in one action, the observance of gratitude and reverence for the sacrifice
consecrating their mutual effort to serve the Cause.
The events of her rich and varied career as a Bahá’i are set forth in the tribute paid her by Marion Holley elsewhere in
the present volume. Here we may recall certain events and accomplishments in her life which combined to make her
such a distinguished figure in the community.
Mrs. Maxwell accompanied the first party of pilgrims who traveled from North America to visit ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in ‘Akka
and learn of Bahá’u’lláh’s Revelation. She was a pioneer believer and teacher of the Cause in Canada, in many cities of
the United States and in the city of Paris. She made pilgrimage to the Holy Land a few years after the Ascension of
‘Abdu’l-Bahá to visit the Guardian. Mrs. Maxwell served also in the capacity of member of the American National
Spiritual Assembly. Her daughter, neé Miss Mary Maxwell, is Ruhiyyih
The house of Siyyid Yahyã Dáráhi, surnamed Vahid, which has recently been acquired by the Bahá’is
of Iran as an historical site in the town of Nayriz.
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CURRENT BAHA’I ACTIVITIES
Khánum, the Guardian’s wife. Despite illness and arising above the burden of advancing years, May Maxwell responded immediately
and whole-heartedly to the call for pioneer teachers resounded by Shoghi Effendi in launching the Seven Year Plan as climax to the
first Bahá’i Century.
In publishing the Guardian’s cablegram, the National Spiritual Assembly added a few words, some of which are cited here:
“There are events in a spiritual Cause which have the special characteristic that they seem luminous with the light of inner
significance. They shine through the twilight of our ignorance and incapacity. They are revealing of the vital importance of intention
as well as of truth.
“Such an event has now transpired in the Bahá’i community of America. Let us endeavor to rise above the inevitable human feeling of
grief and seek to apprehend it through the higher understanding that comes to us from the Manifestation and
from those whose mission was created by Him.
“Concerning those who leave their country to teach in foreign lands, Bahâ’u’llãh has said: ‘They that have forsaken their country for
the purpose of teaching Our Cause— these shall the Faithful Spirit strengthen through its power
. . .
How great the blessedness that
awaiteth him that hath attained the honor of serving the Almighty.’
“Again, we have these gemlike words from ‘Abdu’l-Bahá: ‘If you plant a seed in the ground a tree will become manifest from that
seed. The seed sacrifices itself to the tree that will come from it.’
The culmination of her unusual gifts, capacities and blessings, martyrdom in the city which must constitute a strong pillar of the future
Bahi’i community of South America, has been the planting of the seed, and from this sacrifice the souls of the believers have been
inspired for more ardent service.
THE BAHA’i FAITH IN THE BRITISH ISLES
BRITISH Bahá’is in the period 193 8-1940, were the only Bahá’i community possessing administrative
institutions and permitted to function by the civil authorities which has endured the psychological and material damage
of war. Bahâ’is there were in other warring countries but lacking the institutions of the Bahá’i community or prevented
by the state from exercising the duties of their religion.
Their collective experience has thus been deeply significant of the power of the Bahá’i Faith to maintain confidence of
spirit and endow a community with social attitudes which open doors to a future be— yond the onslaught of any human
Four items appear to stand out as most important in the available records and reports.
First, the incorporation of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahâ’is of the British Isles. This notable document is
reproduced elsewhere in the present volume. Concerning the nature of the legal status acquired, the British Assembly
itself writes as follows:
“The effect of this document will be to give the National Spiritual Assembly legal personality and rights. It may enter
contracts, receive bequests, hold property under certain restrictions, and exercise all the rights and privileges accorded
by law. In addition its constitution has been defined exactly according to Bahã’i Administration; the principles
governing its operation according to the explicit commands of Bahã’u’lláh and ‘Abdu’l-Bahá have been written into the
memorandum; and its powers in relation to local Spiritual Assemblies and to the Faith in the British Isles have been
defined. The method of Bahá’i elections has been preserved and provision made for the annual Convention. The
enterprise is non-profit making and has no share capital. Liability is accepted by the individual members of the N. S. A.
in equal proportions, and provision has been made for the transferring of this liability when new members are elected.
“This is undoubtedly one of the most important steps in the history of the Faith in the British Isles, and in spite of the
primary disappointment, will, we know, delight the heart of our beloved Guardian, whose con-
THE BAHA’i WORLD
tinual encouragement has lightened the task.”
Second, the establishing of a Publishing Trust as a powerful organ of teaching. Its record of activity, as reported by the
British Assembly, has been impressive:
“The Publishing Trust is now established as the chief subsidiary of the N. S. A. and its right hand in teaching. It was
started with the sum of £234 Os. 8d. specially contributed for that purpose, and in addition has taken possession of all
books and literature previously held by the N. S. A. It acts as distributor for all Bahá’i literature, and publishes
whatever the N. S. A. requires. The chief publications this year have been a revised edition of Dr. Esslemont’s
pamphlet BahcI’u’lldh and His Message and a brief life of Bahá’u’lláh by H. M. Balyuzi. Both these publications have
been purchased abroad and have made a good impression. In addition a small calendar, showing the Bahá’i Feasts and
Anniversaries, has been printed.”
“The establishment of the Publishing Trust has proven to be a sound and invaluable undertaking. It must surely be
included in ‘the unassailable foundation’ of which the Guardian speaks. With the incorporation of the N. S. A., the
three original Trustees resigned their office, and the N. S. A. became Trustee. The chief work this year has been the
“A new edition of Bahd’u’lljh and the New Era, Dr. Esslemont’s standard work on the Faith. With the permission of
Mrs. Esslemont a few alterations and some slight additions were made.
“The Ba/ba?! Faith. Five thousand more copies of the penny pamphlet, which every Bahá’i needs frequently.
“New World Order. A reproduction, with a few alterations, of the December number of the N. S. A.’s periodical New
“In addition the publication of Lady
The Chosen Highway,
is well advanced and copies should be available by the end of June.”
“First and foremost of our activities has been Teaching. At the last Convention it was recommended that we should concentrate on
five cities with a view to establishing communities there whenever possible. The National Spiritual Assembly adopted this plan but
only two of the cities mentioned by the delegates, Leeds and Bournemouth, were included in the list. Other places, Nottingham and
Brighton, presented better opportunities through the presence of resident believers, so these were included. One city, Newcastle, where
there are no Bahá’is at all, has been given special attention.
“In Leeds the Bradford Spiritual Assembly has continued teaching work throughout the year, and there is every prospect of success
here. Mr. and Mrs. Peter Wilkinson have made their home there, bringing the number of resident believers up to four. Meetings have
been held, and the Military Tribunal there granted the application of a Bahá’i for exemption from combatant service, which resulted in
“Th believers have moved to Bournemouth and the Group there now numbers ten. The Feasts and Anniversaries are observed and it is
hoped to have a Center as the chief aid to a teaching campaign.
“In Nottingham excellent work has been done through the efforts of the resident believer, Esther Richardson. She has arranged
meetings with the Esperantists and the Theosophists which have been addressed by visiting teachers, and has gathered together a
number of her friends and aroused their keen interest. It is expected that a few of them will come to Summer School.”
“New ground has been broken in Newcastle and much interest aroused. A teacher spent five weeks there before Christmas, and three
months after Christmas. Many clubs and societies were addressed, and a series of public lectures given from the platform of the
Theosophical Society. Contacts were made in the University, a number of study meetings were held, a good deal of literature
CURRENT BAHA’I ACTIVITIES
has been purchased by interested inquirers and it is hoped that some of them will come to Summer School.”
“At its first meeting the National Spiritual Assembly considered this matter and pledged itself to carry out the Guardian’s wish,
determining that all activities should be considered in the light of teaching. Bradford and Torquay were selected as the two most
promising places for the establishment of new Assemblies. The believers in those centers were consulted and plans of campaign
mapped out. We are happy to report that owing to the persistent efforts of the resident believers, to the work of visiting teachers, to the
sacrifices of all who have contributed to the Fund, and to the unfailing assistance of the Holy Spirit, Spiritual Assemblies were elected
in both places on April 21st. Both communities are represented by delegates at this Convention. We take this opportunity of
conveying, through them, our welcome and sincere congratulations.”
“The local communities have maintained fireside and other teaching meetings. A series of regular study meetings was held in
Altrincham during the summer by the Manchester Spiritual Assembly, and a successful meeting was arranged with the Rover Scout
Crew by Miss Ada Williams, when the interest of about twenty young men was aroused. The first extension work of the Torquay
Spiritual Assembly was in Exeter when Mrs. Stevens addressed the Psychology Club.”
“The Bahá’i Summer School is the most important institution in England for teaching the Cause of Bahá’u’lláh. More ambitious in
every way than the three previous ones, the fourth Summer School brought correspondingly greater and more encouraging results.
More than a hundred people visited it, indicating its steadily increasing interest to both believers and enquirers. The spirit of real
friendship, sympathy, and understanding engendered amongst such a widely diverse group of individuals, was convincing proof of the
unifying power of the Teachings of Bahá’u’lláh.
“The School was opened by Lady Blomfield, who, as always, brought the spirit of the Master close to each one of us by her
vivid and beautiful descriptions of many of the precious incidents which occurred during His stay in her house in
London. A cable was then sent to our beloved Guardian, to which he sent an inspiring reply.
“The lectures were of high standard and though comprehensive, followed an orderly course, beginning with a survey of
the nature of the present world struggle, then tracing the growth and development of man as an individual and mankind
as a collective body, presenting the main problems confronting the world today and offering the solutions of
Bahâ’u’lláh, outlining the Bahá’i vision of a New World Order and culminating in the presentation of the Word of
Bahá’u’lláh as the focus of all power.
“Bahá’u’lláh and ‘Abdu’l-Bahá have emphasised the importance of art in the life of man. Bahá’u’lláh tells us that the
sanctified and detached souls “constitute the animating force through which the arts and wonders of the world are made
manifest,” and ‘Abdu’l-Bahá tells us that the Sun of Truth, shining on the mind of the artist, is mirrored forth in great
works of art. Therefore an experiment was made this year in inviting a larger number of nonBahá’i speakers than
previously, to lecture on their own specialized branches of art— the dance, drama, music and the crafts. The result was
strikingly significant. At least four different lecturers came to the conclusion that in their particular field art had
reached a standstill owing to the poverty of human creativeness—a convincing proof that the artistic spirit needs the
new creative impulse of Bahá’u’lláh.
“The peak of Summer School was reached at bank holiday week-end, August 5-7, when the greatest attendance was
recorded and the radiance of the gathering was so apparent as to arouse comment. It was during this week-end that the
National Spiritual Assembly received its Incorporation Certificate. Archdeacon Townshend’s challenging book The
Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’is of India and Burma, Mr. W.
Grant, late editor of the Rangoon Times and a proven
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of the Faith, Chief Jono Kenyatta of Kenya, the eminent anthropologist, were among the distinguished visitors. Mr. Kenneth Christian
and Miss Virginia Setz were welcome visitors from America. Mr. Christian gave an interesting description of the Summer Schools in
“The setting of School was most delightful. Beautiful spacious grounds, with ample facilities for games, in the heart of a lovely
countryside; an ideal place for relaxation and for study.
“Most of those present must have been conscious of the nearness of the final stages of the world struggle. They must have had too,
intimations of the greatness of the privilege, and of the responsibility, of being identified with a nascent world faith in an age of doubt
and fear. Summer School is a growing, consolidating institution, becoming established in a rapidly crumbling world. It has provided
once again an incentive to activity and cooperation among the Bahá’i communities. We shall make efforts to maintain it.”
EXEMPTION FROM COMBAvANT SERVICE
“Increasing tension in world affairs made it necessary for the N. S. A. to define the attitude of Bahá’is to the various military measures
being undertaken by the country. The Guardian’s instruction was obtained and published in Bahã’i
It was to the effect that
while we should do everything to obtain exemption from active combatant service, we should volunteer for all services of a
humanitarian nature, such as Red Cross, A. R. P., stretcher-bearing, etc. Within the last three days Conscription has been introduced
by the Government, and it is recommended that the incoming N. S. A. should consider the position of Bahá’i Youth in relation to
“Shortly after the outbreak of war, a young believer from Bradford, Philip Hams- worth, having registered in accordance with the N.
S. A.’s request, was summoned to appear before a tribunal in Leeds. The following is an account of the proceedings as accurately as 1
remember them; it was written down shortly after leaving the Court.
“Peter Wilkinson and Mr. Hurst were there and we heard the proceedings in about
a dozen cases. Hardly any of the applicants were clear or definite as to what their consciences demanded, and certainly had very little
conception of their relationship to society. When Philip was called the Judge asked me to step up, and who and what I was. I said
secretary of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahi’is of the British Isles. A minute or two were spent in writing it down correctly
and spelling ‘Bahá’i.’ They had never heard of it.
‘What is Bahã’i?
‘It’s a world religion sir.
‘Is it Christian?
‘We believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.
‘Then it is Christian?
‘We believe that all the revealed religions are the Word of God.
‘What do you think of Buddha?
‘His Revelation is the Word of God.
‘A very wise man.
‘He is the Prophet of God.
‘It’s a sort of comprehensive omnibus. (slightly amused but kindly).
‘No sir. An independent world religion. Its central theme is the oneness of mankind.
‘When was it founded?
‘The original declaration was made in
‘Is this name Indian?
‘No sir; Persian.
‘Is it a Persian religion?
‘No sir, it’s a world religion for all mankind.
‘The Founder was Persian?
‘What do you object to?
‘I seek exemption from combatant military service, as it is inconsistent with the teaching of Bahá’u’lláh to kill my fellow men.
‘Do you recognize any duty to the State?
‘Yes, of course. We are commanded to obey our governments.
‘Well, this seems an opportunity of obeying by accepting military service.
‘I’m obeying the government by registering as a conscientious objector.
CURRENT BAHA’I ACTIVITIES
‘Supposing you were in Germany?
‘There are Bahá’is in Germany. They are suppressed and some of rhem are in the army.
‘There you are then.
‘The Government allows me to apply for exemption.
‘Have you a branch in Bradford? ‘Yes sir.
‘How many members?
‘Your Faith recognizes civil authority? ‘Yes.
‘It asks you to obey the law?
‘It does not ask you to refuse military service?
‘It asks us to uphold certain principles.
‘One of these is to refrain from killing our fellow men by seeking exemption from combatant military service. We are
ready to serve in any non-combatant capacity.
‘Suppose exemption is refused?
‘Then we are in the same position as anyone else.
‘Do you believe in transmigration?
‘Are your parents of the same religion as you?
‘You hope they will be.
‘Yes, they are very interested.
‘IH[ow long have you known about this?
‘Just over a year.
‘What have you done about it?
‘I investigated the teachings, declared myself a Bahá’i, and am trying to propagate the Faith. I was an absolute pacifist before.
‘You were absolute?’ (with some astonishment)
‘Yes. I had to give up many of my ideas to conform with Bahá’i teaching.’
“The tribunal were unanimous in granting exemption from combatant service, and made the applicant liable for non-combatant
“The local newspapers contained various accounts, one having a large headline which read:
—Report by DAvJD HOFMAN.
CONSOLIDATION OF THE FAITH IN EGYPT
OVER a number of years the Bahi’i
munity of Egypt has been the instrument through which the independent status of the Bahã’i Faith has been estabhshed in relation to
the prevailing and official religion of Islam. In previous volumes the origin and development of this remarkable historic process has
been described. Between 1938 and 1940 the irresistible power of the Faith of Bahá’u’lláh has been further demonstrated.
Lands were purchased for the construction of a Haziratu’l-Quds, a national Bahá’i center for administrative activities and meeting
place for Bahá’i gatherings. In a number of countries during recent years the National and local Assemblies have taken steps to
provide such centers, which strengthen and coordinate the direction of activities and symbolize the existence of the Faith as
community and not merely as doctrine. “The N. S. A. has finally decided to buy a
plot of land in one of the most important quarters of Cairo quite near Maleka Nazli Street,” it was reported in the Egyptian
of March-April, 1940, after consideration had been given to the fact that on account of war conditions it might be preferable to
purchase a house rather than construct one. A fund was then instituted for the cost of construction, contributions to which have been
made by Bahá’i Assemblies in other countries.
After further difficulty with the Muslim clergy, the National Spiritual Assembly obtained authorization from the government to
establish a Bahá”i cemetery in Cairo, Alexandria and Port Said.
A Fatwa (a judgment made by a Mushm judge in a religious matter on the basis of doctrine or custom derived from the Qur’an) issued
by a Grand Mufti decreed that Bahá’is could no longer be permitted burial in a Muslim cemetery. After submit-
THE BAHA’J WORLD
ting full information to the government, the Bahã’i authorities were granted the necessary permission to proceed with
their own independent burial places and the observance of their own burial rites. Since cemeteries in Egypt are public
property not subject to sale or transfer, the government set aside a plot of land just outside Cairo for use as a Bahá’j
place of burial.
Such an episode has great significance in a Muslim country, where the lack of a civil code surrounds every religious
transaction with an official atmosphere and a ceremonial importance not felt in western lands since feudal days. Indeed,
public violence has been manifested against the Bahá’is in Egypt in connection with their effort to give proper Bahá’i
burial to their own dead. The publication of the government’s action in the public press made a powerful impression.
HE services rendered by the Bahá’is of ‘Iraq during this period are not to be measured by the information available in
the form of bulletins and reports. We know, however, that their achievement has been great from the fact that the
National Spiritual Assembly of the believers of that country was able to construct a large Haziratu’l-Quds, or
headquarters, in a modern suburb of Baghdad. Behind efforts of such scope stand a great many contributing factors,
unity and sacrifice for the Cause, coordination of effort, vigorous teaching work and administrative efficiency.
From reports on hand the following citations are of particular interest:
“The most vital activity of the ‘Iraq Bahá’is during these two years has been the construction of the new Haziratu’l-
Quds. Where the former center was located in the dark, winding alleys of old Baghdad, the new edifice stands in its
own beautiful gardens in a modern suburb. Total expenditures on the building alone have amounted to 3,500 pounds,
while the whole property, that is, the building and the site of land (40 m. x 60 m.), is now estimated at 6,000 pounds.”
“It is with great pleasure and overflowing joy that we report the completion of build-
A notable service to the entire Arabic- speaking world has been rendered by the Bahá’is of Egypt through their action
in translating The Dawn-Breakers: Nabil’s Narrative of the Early Days of the Bahd’I Revelation into the Arabic
language. The translation was made by Judge Abdul Jalil Saad, and the printed work contains over six hundred pages,
with many illustrations.
The Assembly itself has made only modest references to the teaching work carried on in Egypt during the current
period, feeling that most of its energies have been expended in carrying out the important matters already mentioned. In
the Sudan, however, the progress of the teaching work has been very satisfactory, and this area has become an
important part of the Bahá’i community whose affairs are administered by the National Spiritual Assembly.
ing operations on the new Uniratu’l-Quds of Baghdad, which have been proceeding during the last thirteen months.
The meeting for the inauguration of this edifice took place on Saturday afternoon, September 23, 1939, and was
attended by believers representing almost every Bahá’i community in this country. Deeply impressed by the imposing
grandeur, and with hearts cherishing the fondest hopes for the future of our beloved Faith in this blessed land the
friends joyously offered thanks and praise to Bahá’u’llfh, Who has graciously confirmed and assisted them in the
discharge of their glorious task.
“The meeting opened with the chanting of a Tablet. Then Munir Wakil, chairman of the N. S. A., delivered the opening
speech in which he summarized the various stages and developments that accompanied the construction of the edifice,
and made a brief statement showing roughly the total expenditures, the debts incurred, and the contributions received to
“At the close of the inaugural meeting, which ended with the chanting of another Tablet of Bahá’u’llIh, the N. S. A.
met and approved the sending immediately of the following telegram to the Beloved
BAHA’i ACTIVITIES TN ‘IRAQ
CURRENT BAHA’I ACTIVITIES
‘Bahã’is assembled now occasion inauguration k1airatu’l-Quds express deepest gratitude divine confirmation
completion building. Supplicate continuation prayers.’”
“Much as has already been done, there still remains as much to be achieved. The spacious assembly hall together with
the adjoining guest-house, which constitute no less essential parts of the plan already approved by the Guardian, now
await construction. In fact, the full beauty of this Bahá’i Center and the effective functioning of the various Bahá’i
administrative bodies cannot reach their climax and reveal their full beneficent effect until the two remaining
component parts are built and completed. The Guardian, lovingly assuring us of his ‘fervent, unceasing prayers,’ now
directs and urges us to make ‘sustained, united, unremitting efforts’ so that ‘this vitally-urgent, divinely-appointed task’
may be successfully carried forward to a glorious consummation.’
“It is worthy to note that this noble undertaking has not only been responsible for enhancing the dignity and the good
reputation of the Cause in ‘Iraq but has proved a powerful factor in reinforcing the spiritu a
ties and genuine love uniting the members of the Bahá’i community. In fact, this kla4ratu’l-Quds can rightly be
regarded as the sign of our unity and the center of our cooperation and sacrifice in our attempt to carry out the guiding
instructions of our beloved Guardian.”
“From Shoghi Effendi, through his secretary, the following message was received:
‘The region of ‘Iraq will be an arena where lights will shine, and the first connecting link between Iran, which is the
cradle of the Faith, and the Holy Land, the Point of Adoration of the people of Bahá. This momentous institution,
therefore, is to be regarded as the first of the great preliminaries and glorious institutions which will be established in
that blessed land, culminating in the recovery of the House of God, the hoisting of the Banner of His Faith, and the
proclamation of His Dispensation in that region. It is, therefore, incumbent upon you to double your perseverance,
steadfastness, vigor, tenacity, cooperation and mutual assistance, that thereby may become manifest what our Lord has,
both in secret and openly, promised us in His wondrous Book.’”
PERSECUTION AND DEPORTATION OF THE BAHA’IS OF CAUCASUS AND
HE construction of the first Bahã’i House of Worship in ‘Ishqábád, Southern Russia, nearly forty years ago, may be realized as the
first portentous symbol of the power of BahI’u’lláh’s Dispensation in Europe. Its spiritual meaning and implication could not but
present a challenge to the forces of darkness existing in that land. It was not until after
however, that the flourishing Bahã’i
community centered around the Mashriqu’l-Adhkár in Ishqãbád felt the weight of official persecution.
In previous issues of THE BAHA’i WORLD successive chapters of this tragic but glorious story have been told. Now there remains to
recount the final chapter of dispersal, deportation and internment of the Bahá’is by the Soviet authorities, and their seizure of the holy
House of Worship as the extreme actions of a materialistic civiliza tio
approaching the hour of its own destined punishment.
The available information no longer comes to us from the BahI’i community of Southern Russia but from their fellow- believers of
Iran with whom the survivors of persecution found refuge. The full report will be found in the Report of the National Spiritual
Assembly of the Bahá’is of Iran published at the end of this international review. Excerpts from that Report follow:
“On the eve of February
1938, all the members of the Local Spiritual Assembly of ‘Ishqabad, and a great number of the Friends
were arrested by order of the authorities and that same night the houses of the Friends were searched, and all Tablets, Bahã’i records
and other articles were confiscated. Some of the women, more active than the rest in
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Bahá’i administrative affairs, were also led away to prison.
“According to those who have been freed from prison and have emigrated to I ran, the officials treated the prisoners with extreme
harshness, and all Bahá’is were condemned by the Government on political grounds, it being openly said to them: ‘On Soviet land you
are, and have been, working to the advantage of foreigners.’ A written charge to this effect was made out for each prisoner and each
was ordered to sign it. When the Friends, innocent, denied the charge, they were subjected to every type of persecution. Some were
even obliged, more than once, to dig graves for themselves, it being told them that they were to be killed on the spot; then, hoping to
acquire the signed document, the authorities would defer their sentence.
“Wives and children of the captives lived meanwhile in the greatest wretchedness. A woman believer wrote to her sister from
‘Ishqábád: ‘Here many young men believers die in the prison. No one knows of what sickness they died, or what they asked for in
their last agony, or in what place their bodies are laid. One of the women believers, because of her grieving and anguish and the sight
of her orphaned children, set fire to herself and after sixteen days in the hospital she passed away.’
“At first over five hundred men believers were imprisoned but a great number of these have died. The wives and children of the
victims have gradually been exiled to fran, and dispatched by the Iranian Government to their various birth-places, but here, too, most
of them cannot find peace. The women grieve over their husbands and sons, the children sorrow for their fathers and brothers. Many
of the younger ones, well educated and trained, for lack of recommn. dations and other reasons, are refused work in Government
offices and elsewhere, and pass their days miserably in the little towns where they have been sent.
“This Assembly has, through the efforts of the Friends, given to these sufferers whatever financial aid was possible and up to now a
sum has been collected for their urgent daily needs. In response to the Guardian’s emphatic directions we have done all in our power
to succor these oppressed persons;
nevertheless, their lot has not improved, although they continue thankful, since they are suffering in the path of God. According to
recent information the prisoners have been freed and exiled in small groups to remote corners of Russia. Fortunately they are
permitted to write to their relatives and at times word comes from them. This Assembly has applied to the Imperial Government
seeking their return to fran, and God willing, the desired aim will be realized.
“From a recent communication as to the Mashriqu’l-Adhkar of ‘Ishqábád: ‘From the day when the Mashriqu’l-Adbkar became part of
the Government properties, it was rented free to the Baha’i community for five year periods; every five years the lease was renewed,
and according to separate documents drawn up by the city, necessary repairs were specified to be made during the allotted period. The
Local Assembly would always carry out these repairs and improvements with dispatch, to give the authorities no pretext for
complaint, also regularly renewing the insurance and paying the taxes. In 1933, however, although the specified period had not run
out, certain repairs which were not urgent nor important, and which were very expensive—amounting to some 20,000 manát—were
imposed, and the Government broke the contract and forced the Assembly to renew it and make the repairs. A year had not elapsed
when the Government officials renewed their complaints and it became obvious that their purpose was to create difficulties and oblige
the Friends to relinquish the Temple and give it over to them. Fearing that the holy edifice would be lost, the Assembly communicated
the whole matter to the Guardian. Shortly thereafter, through the Iranian Ministry for Foreign Affairs and the Iranian Embassy in
Moscow, the Iranian Consulate-General in
made an inquiry as to the status and tenants of the Mashriqu’l-Adhkar. This
investigation proved beneficial, and for some time the complaints and fault-finding of the authorities were modified. Then, in 193 6,
the Government stirred up further difficulties, and imposed heavy and unnecessary repairs, thinking the Baha’i community would be
utterly unable to comply with the requirements and a legal means would thus be
CURRENT BAHA’i ACTIVITIES
furnished to take the Temple away from the Bahá’is. The Assembly, however, asked for aid from the believers throughout Turkistân
and the Caucasus, and as a result of their self-sacrifice the repairs were made.’
“The authorities then tried another plan, as follows: Surrounding the Temple, the Friends had established schools for boys and girls, a
library, an office, and Haziratu’lQuds; and a long time since, the authorities had taken over the schools and the library building. Now,
with the excuse that the children had no playground, they sought to appropriate the main section of the Temple gardens, build a wall
around the Temple and leave to the Friends only the Temple building itself and the Haziratu’l-Quds; and they planned to close the
garden gate, which faces the main thoroughfare of the city and has always been opened to believer and non- believer alike, and oblige
all those desiring entry to the Temple to go around by a side street. The Local Assembly remonstrated with the authorities and after
considerable effort persuaded them to abandon their plan and continue on the same basis as before. Finally in 1936 after all sorts of
pretexts and complaints, the Mashriqu’l-Adhkár was given over to the Friends for an unspecified period, on condition that they make
repairs as required by the city and pay the taxes and insurance. During the past six or seven years the Assembly has been constantly
negotiating with the authorities as to the Temple, and through Divine Confirmations has been able to protect it in every way. When the
Friends were imprisoned it became clear to what extent the authorities were displeased with us.”
“According to Soviet law, every religious community which numbers fifty members of both sexes over eighteen years of age, can
petition the authorities for recognition, that is, for the right to have a place of worship and administration. Now, if the number of
Bahá’is in ‘Ishqábád should fall below fifty, the Government can take over the Temple. At present only a few Bahá’is are left, women
and children and a few old men; and even if there are as many as fifty women left there and two or three old men, yet because of their
helplessness and ignorance of the law they will be unable to protect the Mashriqu’l-Adhkãr.”
“According to recently received information, the Soviet Government has taken over the Temple, has turned it into an art gallery, and is
keeping it in its original condition. For there are no longer any BahI’is in ‘Ishqábád.”
“As to the Caucasus, recent news is that throughout all that region Spiritual Assemblies and all administrative institutions have, as a
result of terrific pressure from the Government, been done away with, and the Haziratu’l-Quds has been taken over. Only in Báká is
there a Spiritual Assembly, and the Haziratu’l-Quds there is in the hands of the Friends. The membership of the BIkia Assembly has in
two years been elected three times, for this reason, that the first members were all arrested and exiled to Siberia, whereupon the
Friends elected nine more believers and these too were seized and exiled. The third group to be elected, now serving on the Assembly,
are mostly women. The Friends there are suffering terribly from lack of the means of livelihood and every sort of hardship, and they
assist one another like members of one household.
“The persecuted Bahá’is of ‘Ishqábád and elsewhere who at the Guardian’s direction and in spite of every affliction stood firm in
‘Ishqábád to protect the Bahá’i world’s first Temple, were before the first of the year
by the Soviet Government’s refusal to give
them residence permits, gradually exiled to Iran. In February, 1938, that government imprisoned at least five hundred Bahá’i men
throughout Turkistán, most of whom have been in prison over fifteen months in ‘Ishqábad, Mary, etc., under terrible conditions. Some
have died under torture, from starvation and other effects of prison life. No recent news has reached us and we do not know what
future awaits the survivors.
“Six hundred refugees—women, girls, children and a few old men—have successfully reached Iran. Most of these are now in Mash-
had, while others have dispersed throughout the country. Those who had to travel were given their expenses and a letter of
introduction to the LocalAssembly at their destination.
“Their state is pitiful beyond description. All were substantial citizens in their own country. Then the men were taken prisoner and
they had to sell all they had—houses,
THE BAHA’I WORLD
rugs, furniture. Then, obliged to emigrate, they brought in their last trifling possessions and sold them here for bread,
and are now destitute.”
the lifetime of many still active Bahá’is the entire course of the development of the Cause in Europe, America
and Australia and New Zealand has unrolled. They have witnessed, and contributed to, its growth from the first pioneer
teacher or family through the stages of groups, local communities and finally that of the unified national community
with its National Spiritual Assembly. Those who first set forth carried in their souls the fiery conviction that the Báb
had come to this age as a Manifestation to summon the peoples for acceptance of the Promised One of all religions; that
Bahá’u’llah had come in that mighty Station to unify the races, the nations, the classes and the sects of mankind. Under
the guidance and protection of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá they achieved oneness in their devotion to Him as the Center of
Bahá’u’lláh’s Covenant. Their kind Shepherd led them along the path of unity as rapidly as they could advance. His
Will and Testament, however, disclosed the whole path and its consummation in world institutions, the Guardian and
the House of Justice. Since 1922 the Bahá’js have achieved one of the greatest social adjustments in human history by
their cooperation in the establishment of the pattern of the World Order of Bahá’u’lláh. Nothing short of a miracle
could have raised up such strong foundations for this order in Australia and New Zealand as the result of the labors of
two Bahá’is, themselves Americans and therefore of the generation of those who had learned the Message far from its
Source. Wholly new social attitudes and a new quality of human relationships had to be established before a Bahá’i
community could come into being. Some background of understanding is necessary before one can perceive in every
report of Bahá’i activity a sustained victory for the spirit working through the lives of ordinary men and women.
The following excerpts will convey an
The American Bahá’is made a special contribution for the relief of these unfortunate believers. The friends of Persia,
however, assumed the real burden of relief.
outline at least of what has been accomplished in this great Western Continent geographically located in the East:
“The second convention which was held in Sydney, New South Wales, in April, 1937, marked the beginning of a new
stage of development in the history of the Cause in Australia and New Zealand; so illuminating and instructive were the
addresses given by the delegates and so powerful was the spirit of dedication animating those present, from that time a
deeper realization of the responsibility and mission of the Australian and New Zealand Bahá’i community as a
component part of the world wide Bahá’i community destined in the fullness of time to expand into a glorious new
civilization, the Bahá’i Commonwealth of nations, intensified the zeal and determination of the believers and lent an
impetus to their efforts which has produced gratifying results.
“The teaching field is steadily widening; in all the centers advertised lectures are given regularly; large fireside
meetings are held by the believers in their homes; opportunities to give the Bahá’i Message on other platforms are
courted and a wider circulation for our literature is being obtained.
“In all the centers, increased efforts are being made to gain the attention of the press, and in this we were greatly helped
by Miss Martha Root on the occasion of her teaching tour of Australia and New Zealand during the first half of 1939.
Miss Root obtained more press publicity for the Cause than we had had previously; indeed, she gave a much needed
stimulus to our efforts in this direction and we learned much from her methods.
“The famous Bahá’i teacher arrived in Perth, Western Australia, on January 1 0th, and was given a warm welcome by
the believers there. The Perth Spiritual Assembly had arranged a fine program and from the first the work went with a
swing; many new
THE BAHA’j FAITH IN AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND
CURRENT BAHA’I ACTIVITIES
contacts were made and a great deal of interest was aroused; the Perth believers themselves being greatly stimulated
and uplifted by this soul refreshing season of activity and by Miss Root’s inspiring influence.
“From Perth, Miss Root went to Adelaide, Hobart, Melbourne and Sydney. In Adelaide, in addition to the radio
broadcasts and the lectures arranged for and widely advertised by the Spiritual Assembly, Miss Root spoke to the
Spiritual Mission Church, the Women’s Christian Temperance Union, the Radiant Health Club, the Theosophical
Society, at many informal gatherings and at a reception held at the Hotel Grosvenor.
“Mr. and Mrs. Hawthorne and Miss Hilda Brooks of Adelaide accompanied Miss Root to Tasmania and Melbourne,
and the little group of four traveling to promote the Bahá’i Faith, awakened considerable interest and gained publicity
and press notices for the Cause. Miss Gretta Lamprill, sole believer in Tasmania at that time, and Miss Eloise Jensen,
who became enrolled during the visit, were overjoyed to see them, as never before had there been such a number of
Bahá’is together in Tasmania. Miss Jensen was enrolled at a httle meeting of the Bahá’is held at the hotel where the
party was accommodated. The occasion was celebrated with prayers and joyous thanksgiving; this, it was felt, would be
the turning point of the Cause in Tasmania and the first of many enrollments. That hopes were justified was proved by
the enrollment some weeks later of Miss Kitty Crowder. Now these three capable workers have commenced teaching
activities which are gradually gathering momentum.
“Miss Lamprill had arranged for Miss Root to give several broadcasts and to speak at three High Schools, the
Spiritualistic Church, the Workers’ Education Association, the Lyceum Club, the Theosophical Society, the Esperantist
Association, the Rotary Club, the Bellerive, Sandford Country Women’s Association, and two public meetings in
Hobart and one in Launceston. Great interest was evinced by all who heard the addresses and the little group of
delighted with the result of the teaching campaign in Tasmania.
“In Melbourne, through the efforts of the indefatigable Secretary, Mrs. Wheeler, doors were magically opened and
warm invitations for Miss Root to address meetings were received. In addition to broadcasts and informal talks, Miss
Root lectured to the ‘Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, the Australian Church, the Writers’
Cultural Club, Trinity Grammar School, Chinese Women’s Society, Esperanto Club, Women’s League of Health,
Journalists’ Luncheon, Kilvington Girls’ School and the Unitarian Church.
“The Sydney friends had been eagerly preparing for Miss Root’s visit and had arranged for broadcasts, receptions,
interviews and public meetings. In addition, Miss Root delivered addresses at the Millions Club, the United
Association, the English Speaking Union, the Board of Social Study and Training, the Women’s League of Health, the
Quota Club, Australian League of Nations, Esperanto Society, the Rotary Club, Journalists’ tea, the Newport W.E.A.
Summer School, the Feminist Club, the Y.M.C.A., the Women’s League of Health, and the Fellowship of Australian
“In Adelaide, South Australia, a Bahá’i youth group has been formed and steady development maintained, the members
are enthusiastic and bring their friends to the meetings to hear the Bahá’i Message. Australian youth are excellent
material for Bahá’i teachers to work upon, for on the whole they are singularly unprejudiced in their outlook and the
Bahá’i teachings make instant appeal to them.
“The Summer School held at ‘Bolton Place,’ Yerrinbool, New South Wales, the summer residence of Mr. and Mrs.
Stanley Bolton of Sydney and lent and dedicated by them for the school sessions, is becoming a source of pride and joy
and high hopes are entertained for its future development and usefulness.
“Arrangements are under the direction of a committee and two successful sessions have already been held, the first in
January, 1938, the second in January, 1939.”
THE BAHA’I WORLD
BAHA’i ACTIVITIES IN INDIA AND BURMA
National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’is of India and Burma has adopted a Six-Year Teaching Plan in order
to intensify and direct the expansion of the Cause in those countries throughout the remainder of the first century of the
Bahá’i Era. Indeed, the whole Bahá’i world has become profoundly conscious of the need to enlarge the scope of its
teaching work and deepen its understanding of the importance of the mission entrusted to the followers of Bahá’u’lláh
if the believers are to fulfil their collective responsibility to God. The inspiration emanating from the Guardian, as
given instruments in such works as The Unfoldment of World Civilization and The Advent of Divine Justice, has
stimulated the Bahá’is and given them clearer realization of the significance of the year 1944 in the evolution of a
Dispensation that is to have effect through successive cycles of future Manifestations for more than four hundred
thousand years. Moreover, the Bahá’is have come to realize that there must be growth in all parts of the worldwide
community, since the future central institutions of the Faith are to rest upon the pillars of the National Spiritual
Assemblies of East and West.
The dear friends of India and Burma are associated with both the East and the West, and from this fact they seem
destined to play a great role in the drama of human unity and universal peace.
To cite some of the important passages in their bulletins and reports:
“It was one year after our American brothers and sisters have launched their Seven-Year Plan of Teaching that the N. S.
A. of India and Burma on a recommendation by the 10th Annual Convention, adopted a Six-Year Plan of Teaching. It
at first aimed at making each local Assembly responsible to establish another Assembly in a nearby town; but later our
beloved Guardian suggested that the chief aim of the Plan should be to find volunteer teachers for settlement in places
where the Divine Faith has not yet been established. These teachers will make these places either their permanent
places of business or they will stay so long as to form a local Spiritual Assembly or at
least a group of confirmed believers who will evolve themselves into an Assembly in due course. In the 11th Convention therefore the
two chief aims of the Plan were clearly defined and a Committee was formed to concentrate their whole energy towards the successful
prosecution of the Plan.
“Ever since the inauguration of the Six- Year Plan of Teaching the band of the Bahá’is of India and Burma concentrated their efforts
to carry out the wishes of their beloved Guardian expressed in almost all his epistles. They have been directing all their energy to the
successful accomphshment of this vital issue. Both the local Spiritual Assemblies and individual believers have been trying their
utmost, and we are sure that in a short time many of the faithful servants of Bahã’u’lláh will leave their homes and go to live in places
where the light of the Beloved Faith has not yet penetrated. The number of such souls no doubt is small but we have full belief in the
might of Bahá’u’lláh, and as the Divine Faith from its very inception has penetrated the world without any material aid, so will it now
give far greater results than the efforts of the friends would vouchsafe. We are giving below some of the efforts that the friends are
making in this connection.
“BoMuAv—An important public meeting was held in the Municipal Hall, Kalyan (an important town in the vicinity), when Mr.
Ganesh Krishna Phadke, B.A., Member Legislative Assembly, presided. The hall was overflowing, the audience including among
others Mr. M. P. Oka, President of the Kalyan Municipality, members of the Legislative Assembly, school teachers, professors and
notables of the town.
“After the opening prayers by Mr. Ilmi and Miss Penn Boman, Mr. H. M. Manji spoke on the
He was followed by
Prof. N. K. Bhagwant, M.A., who spoke on
Mr. M. H. Ilmi gave an explanation of
Mrs. Shirin Fozdar spoke on
The Need of the Present Day.
She said that although many progressive
movements have sprung up, Bahá’u’lláh stands first to initiate the principles of life.
CURRENT BAHA’t ACTIVITIES
Recently purchased site of the prospective Haziratu’l-Quds to be erected in Cairo, Egypt. The X in the upper right side
indicates the actual site.
‘No progressive movement,’ she said, ‘had come into existence before the rise of the Bahi’i Faith in 1844
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