HARDSHI]?5 OF THE FRIENDS 5N ‘I5HQABAD AND THE CAUCASUS
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HARDSHI]?5 OF THE FRIENDS 5N ‘I5HQABAD AND THE CAUCASUS
(Continued from last year’s report)
On the eve of February
1938, all the members of the Local Spiritual Assembly of ‘Ishqábád, 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, Bahá’i records
and other articles were confiscated. Some of the women, more active than the rest in Bahá’i administrative affairs, were also led
away to prison.
According to those who have been freed from prison and have emigrated to Iran, 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
THE BAHA’I WORLD
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 Iran, 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 recommendations 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 Iran, and God wilhng 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-Adhkar became part of
the Government properties, it was rented free to the Bahá’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. Tn 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 ‘Ishqábad made an inquiry as to the status and tenants of the
Mashriqu’l-Adhkár. This investigation proved beneficial, and for some time the complaints and fault-finding of the authorities were
modified. Then, in 1936, the Government stirred up further difficulties, and imposed heavy and unnecessary repairs, thinking the
Bahá’i community would be utterly unable to comply with the requirements and a legal means would thus be furnished to take the
Temple away from the Bahá’is. The Assembly, however, asked for aid from the believers throughout Turkistmn 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
hbrary, 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-
CURRENT BAHA’i ACTIVITIES
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.
“Taxes on the Temple amounted to some 7,500 manát, and insurance to 500, a total of 8,000 manát which was paid
yearly in two instalments in March and April. This was paid regularly, and in 1938, although the Assembly members
and many of the community were in prison, the few who were left got the money together and paid
it. If the taxes are in arrears, a heavy sum is added for every day’s delay, which may soon amount to more than the
taxes themselves. In addition to taxes and insurance, 2,000 manãt were due for other expenses, such as electric hghts
and maintenance of the grounds. Obviously it is not only on account of the taxes that the authorities would take over
the Temple, since they do not need that sum and could seize the Temple on any pretext were it not contrary to their
pohcy. 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-Adhkár.”
According to recently received informa tion
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 Bahá’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 Uv4ratu’l-Quds
have been taken over. Only in Bákfl is there a Spiritual Assembly, and the Haziratu’l-Quds there is in the hands of the
Friends. The membership of the Bãkü 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.
In accord with the wishes of the Guardian, the sending of a suitable Bahá’i teacher to Afg}ánistán has been the constant
aim of this Assembly. When, therefore, it became possible for ‘All-Muhammad Nabili—who is a spiritual young man,
well-informed, and who acquired his education in India in the English language—to go to Afghánistán for purposes of
commerce, this Assembly was delighted and has extended to him all possible aid. Although up to now the Cause has
not penetrated Afghánistán, and there was no way of spreading the Faith there, we now hope and pray that this young
man will guide many and establish there the oneness of mankind.
Upon learning of the severe earthquake in Turkey, this Assembly wrote to the Turkish ambassador in Tihran, enclosing
10,000 riyáls as aid to the Turkish sufferers. The correspondence, signed respectively by the National Assembly
Secretary and the Ambassador, follows;
THE BAHA’I WORLD
“The National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’is of Iran is deeply grieved over the severe calamity of the earthquake in Turkey and
the great loss of lives and property, which has pained the hearts of all who wish for the happiness of humankind. It desires to express
the sympathy and fellow-feeling of all the Bahá’is of Iran in this great affliction, and begs God in His bounty to heal the wounds of the
honored people of Turkey
and console the survivors.
“The sum of 10,000 riyáls is enclosed from the Assembly fund by way of sharing in the aid to the sufferers, and it is requested that in
spite of the small amount you will be so good as to accept and forward it.”
“To the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’is of Iran: Your esteemed letter of 13-10-18
. . .
enclosing 10,000 riyáls as aid to the
victims of the calamitous occurrence in Turkey has been duly received.
“In the name of my people and my Government, and in my own, I send you heartfelt thanks for the sympathy you have expressed on
behalf of all the Bahá’is of Iran
and the aid you have extended to the earthquake victims
. . .
and I ask God to grant, in increasing measure, His confirmation to that
sanctified Assembly and esteemed community in their service to humankind and their binding of the wounds of the afflicted.”
Háj Muhammad-Ibráhim Vá’iz-i-Quazvini passed away on the eve of 26-6-18 at Qazvin. He had suffered long hardships for the Cause
and although he was blind spent all his time in Bahá’i activity. A memorial for him was held in Tihran.
Mirzá Asliaq-i-Tlaqiqi, one of the early Bahá’is, who in recent times was caretaker of the land of the Tihran Mashriqu’l-Adhkár
(Uadiqih and Ihtisábiyyih), passed away on Mashiyyat
The Guardian wrote of his many virtues and important services, and of
the reward awaiting him, and sent words of consolation to his widow.
Mirzá ‘Ali-Akbar-i-Milani, son of the well-known Iláj Ahmad-i-Miláni, passed in Milan, Adhirbáyján, in Mihr 1318.
Rabmat ‘Alá’i passed away on the eve of Qawl 11, 96 (11-9-18) in Tihran. The
Guardian telegraphed: “My heart grieves over the passing of beloved ‘Ala’i, faithful, worthy champion of the great Cause. I pray
earnestly in his memory. His services are imperishable. Assure his family of my heartfelt sympathy.”
He was laid to rest in the new Baha’i cemetery, a great number of Bahá’is and leading non-Baha’is being present, and a fitting
memorial was held.1
Háj Qulfm-Ridá Amin-Amin passed away on the eve of Masi’il 12, 96 (Daymah 1, 1318). An almost countless multitude of people
followed his cortege to the Bahá’i cemetery. No such funeral had been seen in Tibran before; observers were astonished at the great
crowds, the dignity and spirituahty of the occasion. A memorial was then held at the home of the departed, visitors coming and going
from early morning till late at night.
The Guardian telegraphed: “Hearts are grieving for loss of the emblem of firmness, the upright man, the strong pillar of the
community of Bahá, and its servant and trusted one and the keeper of its state and the upholder of its flag, whom God has raised to a
station which the hearts of the pure do vehemently yearn for, in the Abha paradise. May God inspire his relatives and helpers and
lovers in that glorious land with seemly patience, and assist them to follow in his footsteps and walk in his way. I truly join you in
their grief and beg for the departed one every good in every world of God’s worlds.
Memorials were held for this departed one throughout Iran. Regarding his successor as custodian of the uqflq, the Guardian sent two
telegrams to Iran, respectively in Arabic and Enghsh, appointing Valiy’ullah KLan Varqã (son of Varqá the martyr) to this office. The
second telegram reads: “Inform Valiy’ullah Varqa as follows: I have chosen you deservedly for the greatly-honored func‘Ralimat
‘Alá’i is the believer who, with his wife
Najmiyyih Khinum, rendered so suany loving setvices ro Keith Ransom-Kehler and later ro Dr. Howard Carpenter. They entertained
both Keith and Howard Carpenter in their home for long periods; nursed both through severe illnesses; were at Keith’s bedside when
she died; and accompanied Howard Carpenter on the difficult journey which he made, invalided, from TibrIn to Haifa. Translator’s
tion of custodian of the Iuqflq. Shoghi Rabhani.”
The Bahá’i teacher and poet, AdharMunir, who had been in the presence of the Master and taught the Cause all his life long, passed on
Masá’il 12, 96 (1-10-18) in Tabriz.
From Bandar-i-Jaz comes this account of the death of Muhammad Sangi, Assembly member. In the night of 26-10-18 (18- 16-96) fIre
hroke out in the warehouse of the Rice Company, close to bazars and private homes. As soon as the alarm sounded, Mul3ammad
Sangi left his bed, and wearing only his sleeping garments, hurried to the scene. Aware of the danger to the entire neighborhood
should the flames spread, he started to tear down an adjacent structure. The crowd, including shopkeepers and householders, fled,
calling to him to come away; he ran out, saw that the fire was spreading afresh, re-entered the flames and smoke and managed to
demolish a further part of the building and stop the fire, but in doing so he was crushed to death. The next day four hundred of the
townspeople out of gratitude for his action, followed his bier and were present at the Bahâ’i burial.
One of the early Bahã’is, Abu’l-Qásim Mufti-Báshi known as Fakhriy-i-Yazdi, passed away on 1sf and 11, 1318 and was buried in the
Tihrán Bahá’i cemetery, a large crowd of believers and others attending. A Tablet from the Master to this departed friend, sent by the
heirs to Haifa, was placed by the Guardian in the International Archives.
Ijlusayn Shaydá, one of the prisoners of Yazd, whose case is reported in section
of this record, died of typhoid fever in the prison at
Tihrán, in the night of Sunday, Bahá 11, 1318. His body, which had been sent from the prison to the town burial- ground, was
transferred to the Bahá’i cemetery and buried with due honor in the presence of a number of Friends. Two memorials were held for
him by the Tihran Feast Committee. The Guardian telegraphed:
“Hearts infinitely saddened at Shaydá’s honored passing. Assure relatives special prayers. Shoghi Rabbani.” The Guardian likewise
wrote: “Although that upright personage, self-sacrificing in the Cause of the mighty
Lord, was afflicted during his latter days, and died in prison, and his blessed body to outward seeming was taken from the prison with
the greatest indignity, yet he is now amongst the Supreme Concourse, throned in everlasting glory, consorting with the near to God
and the holy.
. . .“
Prophesying that the Yazd afflictions will one day be changed to happiness, the Guardian adds, “Varqá has been
directed to send the sum of 200 tumáns to the relatives of that victimized one in Yazd.”
Memorials for Bahá’Is of Other Lands
Regarding the passing of Martha Root, a telegram dated October 18, 1939 was received from the Guardian as follows: “The pure leaf
and renowned teacher, sign of severance torch of love and tenderness, standard of courage and faithfulness, consolation of the eyes of
the people of Bahé, Martha Root, has ascended to the highest summits of paradise. The people of the Supreme Concourse came forth
to meet her with the shout, ‘Welcome to thee, 0 pride of men and women teachers! Well done, well done, thou who hast spent thy
whole being in devotion to the Kingdom of the Lord of signs and utterances! Blessed, a thousandfold blessed art thou within this
shining, proud and lofty station!’ Inform all the Friends of the necessity of calling special meetings in all the provinces for two full
weeks to honor her exalted station. Shoghi Rabbani.”
This Assembly at once communicated its great sorrow to all centers throughout Iran, and directed the holding of fitting memorials in
all locahties for a period of two weeks, for this believer who was the joy and pride of all believers, who had been welcomed with such
extraordinary love and enthusiasm on her journey to Iran, and who is known even to children throughout the Bahi’i world.
Through a letter from London to Dr. Lutfu’lllh Hakim, it was learned that the renowned Lady Blomfield (Sitárih Khánum) had passed
away in that city. A brief biography of the departed was printed in the Iran Bahá’i News and a memorial was held for her in Tihran.
The following telegram was received from the Guardian on the grievous occasion of the
passing of Mrs. May Maxwell: “The severed teacher, brand from the fire of the love of God, and spreader of the
fragrances of God, Mrs. Maxwell, forsook her native land and hastened to the most distant countries out of love for her
Master and yearning to sound the call to the Cause of her Lord and her Inspiration; until she ascended to the highest
summit, attaining the rank of martyrdom in the capital of Argentine, the furthermost boundary. The countenances of
paradise invoke blessings upon her in the glorious apex, saying ‘May she enjoy with healthy relish the cup that is full
and brimming over with the wine of the love of God.’ ‘For the like of this should the travailers travail!’ Inform all the
Friends of the announcement of this mighty victory. Shoghi Rabbani.”
This message was sent out to all Bahá’i centers and everywhere fitting memorials were held, and the great services and
well- loved qualities of her who was a flame of the love of God were brought to mind.
In recent years great numbers of Bahã’is have been forced by the Soviet Government to leave that country and come to
fran. At the Guardian’s direction this National Assembly has taken steps for them, has met the Iranian Minister for
Foreign Affairs and consulted at length as to the release of innocent Bahf’is from Russian prisons. Every legal means
has been used to lift the restrictions on these people, but unfortunately no tangible change has taken place for them in
the year 95, during which all male Bahá’is have, as previously, been kept in the Russian government prisons, and the
women and children exiled to Iran. Except for a few former members of the Iranian consulate in ‘Ishqábád not a single
male Bahi’i is out of prison, nor have any returned to Iran.
This National Assembly with the cooperation of the Local Assemblies has so far as lies in its power given financial aid
to the refugees, and funds have also been supplied to them by the Guardian. The Local Assemblies have done
everything they could to comfort them, prepared homes for them and given them living expenses. In some Assemblies
Bahá’i Refugee Committees have been appointed to take care of them.
Although these persecuted people get some rest and release from worry when they enter
Iran, nevertheless it is very hard to find employment for them, or settled places to live. However in spite of everything they are firm in
their faith and resigned to God’s will, and the Guardian has directed us to make every effort on their behalf.
Mashhad, Tabriz, Rasht, Qazvin, are among the towns to which financial aid has been sent for these refugees; since most of them go
first to Mashhad, that Assembly’s report is given herewith:
The persecuted Bahf’is of ‘Ishqábfd and elsewhere who at the Guardian’s direction and in spite of every affliction stood firm in
‘Ishábád 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 Bahf’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 fran. Most of these are now in Mash-
had, while others have dispersed throughout the country.2 Those who had to travel were given their expenses and a letter of
introduction to the Local Assembly 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, rugs, furniture. Then, obliged to emigrate, they brought in their last trifling possessions and sold them
here for bread, and are now destitute.
Although the Mashhad Assembly has continued its endeavors to find work for the refugees, little result has been obtained, because the
majority are old or burdened with children, and all are distraught as to the condition of their men, and most of them have no trade by
which they might live. Some of the girls could undoubtedly obtain office
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