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THE BAHA’I WORLD
ANNUAL REPORT—NATIONAL SPIRITUAL ASSEMBLY OF THE BAHA’iS OF
Bahá’is of ‘Iraq were severely tested recently when authorities in Mosul, northern ‘Iraq, acting on reports that Bahã’is are
communists, arrested accused believers and detained them pending their trial by court- martial.
The friends were held under intolerable prison conditions in the intense summer heat for almost two weeks. Nevertheless, assured of
the help of Bahâ’u’lláh, they remained unperturbed, and were even able to spread the teachings among their fellow-prisoners. After
close investigation, the authorities were convinced that the accused were Bahá’is, not communists, and that the Faith is non-political,
non-subversive, and in no way connected with communism. The National Spiritual Assembly closely followed the proceedings, and,
as had been expected, the arrested believers were declared innocent and promptly released, their faith greatly reinforced by this
tribulation. A letter to the National Spiritual Assembly from Mubammad Tahir Najm, member of the Bahá’i group of Mosul, is in part
“. . .
the police authorities yesterday evening (June 22, 1939) suddenly called at the homes of Mullá Ahmad H. Malláh, Sharif ‘Azix, and
Háshim Muhammad and conducted a careful inspection there. Then, taking whatever Bahá’i books and letters they could find, they
arrested these believers pending their trial by the court-martial, which would also investigate about the Faith. As regards the rest of the
friends, it is rumoured that we, too, shall be arrested today or tomorrow.
. . .
Our attitude toward these events, which we regard as a
propaganda for our dear Cause, is that of perfect joy and happiness. We are fully prepared to sacrifice our lives and precious
possessions for the sake of upholding the Word of God in this land. Would to God we are made a sacrifice for His most great Cause
The most vital activity of the ‘Iraq Bahã’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.
60 m.), is now estimated at 6,000 pounds. Owing to financial difficulties, construction work on the new center had been suspended at
the close of its first stage in the summer of 1937. Early in April 1938, a member of the National Spiritual Assembly returned from
Haifa bearing emphatic instructions from the Guardian relative to the speedy completion of the work—an undertaking described as
“momentous.” With his message the Guardian graciously enclosed 50 pounds as a contribution toward the enterprise. The National
Spiritual Assembly immediately called a number of consultation meetings in which delegates and friends were invited to join; these
resulted in an urgent appeal to the entire Bahã’i community. The response was most encouraging, as a relatively small number of
contributors during the Ridván Feast of 1938 added 500 pounds to the Guardian’s original donation.
Contributions during Riçlvfn 1939 totalled 380 pounds, and it is expected that sums raised this year will at least equal those of 1938.
Construction work was resumed August 23, 1938, and the new Hall, a befitting center for Bahá’i spiritual and administrative purposes,
is expected to be inaugurated in September, 1939. In its Annual Report of 1939 the National Spiritual Assembly stated that this
undertaking had not only enhanced the dignity and good name of the Cause, but had also done much to unify the Bahá’is of ‘Iraq,
necessitating as it did their common effort in carrying out the Guardian’s instructions. A recent letter from the Guardian enclosed a
further donation to the work of 50 pounds. Replying to Naw-Rflz, 1939 greetings of the National Spiritual Assembly, the Guardian
wired, “Loving appreciation. Praying unprecedented victories.”
CURRENT BAHA’I ACTIVITIES
On the tragic occasion of the death in a motor accident of King Gházi, April 4,
the National Spiritual Assembly, sympathizing
with the Royal Family in their deep sorrow, sent the following telegram to H.R.H. Prince ‘Abdu’lláh, just declared Regent: “The
painful tragedy that has so suddenly broken upon this dear Kingdom through the death of its beloved Ruler, His Majesty King Gházi
the First, has caused the hearts of the Bahá’is in ‘Iraq to bleed, who approach your Highness and the Royal Family with their sincere
expression of heartfelt condolence, supplicating the Lord, exalted be He, to inspire all with patience and peace, and to keep his
guarded son, His Majesty King Fayal the Second, the center of the hopes of the afflicted people. (Sgd.)
BAnAl SPIRITUAL ASSEMBLY
The National Spiritual Assembly continues to publish quarterly the BAHA’i NEWS LETTER, which was started in its new form in
December 1937, and is issued in both English and Arabic. Responding to the appeal of the National Spiritual Assembly of Egypt,
requesting cooperation in the sale and distribution of the Arabic translation of the
(now still at press), the National
Spiritual Assembly has thus far transmitted some 60 pounds as advance orders for this important work, which will greatly enrich
Bahã’l literature in Arabic.
A generous donation of ten copies of the
Vol. Vii, was gratefully received in September, 1939, from. Mr. Siegfried Schopflocher of Montreal, who requested
presentation of these to sympathetic inquirers. The National Spiritual Assembly likewise ordered ten copies of this volume. Our
beloved sister, Miss Martha L. Root, last year presented to Local Assemblies and Groups several copies of her splendid work,
The late Muhammad ‘All Banná Yazdi, a believer who died in Haifa some time ago, willed
one-fourth of his bequest to the General Fund of the ‘Iraq National Spiritual Assembly. This sum, just under 220 pounds, was recently
received through the kindness of the Spiritual Assembly of Haifa.
The Annual Bahá’i Youth World Symposiums are regularly held and enthusiastically celebrated in Baghdad. Young believers and
their non-Bahã’i friends attend these to study various phases of the Cause, and the vital duties that devolve upon youth in the face of
modern world trends.
To sum up, dominant events of the present two-year period have been: the imprisonment of Mosul Bahâ’is on the charge of
communism, and their acquittal; the construction of the new and beautiful Hanratu’l-Quds; the continued expansion and consolidation
of all Bahá’i activities throughout ‘Iraq.
NATIONAL SPIRITUAL ASSEMBLY
BAHA’I S OF ‘IRAQ
JAMIL I. BAGHDADI
THE BAHA’! WORLD
THE years roll by the potency of the Divine Faith of Bahá’u’llãh shows itself in penetrating and spreading
rapidly in different parts of the world. “Truth,” says an old saw, “is one which does not require any aid for its
dissemination.” The Qur’án in one of its arguments says, “Do whatever you like you will have to obey my
commandments whether willingly or unwillingly.” This is exactly the case with the Faith of Bahá’u’llah. Feeble as our
resources are both financially and in trained teachers, we find that our humble efforts are blessed by results which we
never expected nor was there any inkling of achieving them. Surely Bahá’u’lláh beholds those who arise to serve His
Cause from His Realms of glory and aids them with the hosts of the Concourse on high and a company of His favored
The years under review have been years of significant achievements in India and Burma. The Faith has made an all
round progress and firm foundations for solid achievements in future have been laid down. The local Spiritual
Assemblies have shown growing alertness in the discharge of their duties.
The teaching tour undertaken by our beloved sister Miss Martha L. Root from October, 1937, to December, 1938, has
partly been described in the BAHA’i WORLD Vol. VII, and her visit to Northern India universities and colleges is
being reproduced elsewhere in this volume. She travelled from Colombo in the South to Srinagar in the North, and
from Peshawar, the outpost city of the British Empire in the West, to Calcutta and Burma in the East. All the big towns
in India were visited by her and in colleges and universities and in conferences and societies such as the Theosophical
Society, the Brahmo Samaj and the Arya Samaj and before Muslim Institutes, the Message of Bahá’u’llah was
proclaimed and illuminating lectures on subjects like Culture and World Peace and What the Bahd’I Faith Can Do for
Poverty were delivered. In Indian States like Hyderabad (Deccan), Travancore, Jammu and Kashmir,
Rampur, Patiala and Indore were visited and almost every university centre such as Lahore, Delhi, Allahabad, Lucknow, Benares,
Algra, Patna, Calcutta, Madras, Bombay, Mysore and Shantineketan (Tagore’s University) was visited and at some of the lectures
Judges of the High Court, distinguished publicists, Vice-Chancellors of universities, eminent professors, and heads of religious
organizations presided and thousands of students received the Teachings with a sense of joy and gratefulness. The whole of the
intelligentsia of this country heard the Teachings through these lectures and through pamphlet literature and through the leading daily
newspapers (English as well as vernacular) of India and Burma which reached millions of literate people in our country. Thus a great
publicity was given to the Cause during these two years all over India and Burma and well written articles were contributed by able
writers to the well-known Indian Magazines like the
Bombay Sama char,
Karachi Daily News,
Miss Martha L. Root rendered a great service to the Cause by publishing that wonderful book in Karachi, (India) namely,
which was presented to all the libraries in India and Burma and also to some distinguished
personages whom she met in her teaching tours. This book has been very well received all over the country and read with the deepest
interset. It has made indelible impression on some minds as is evidenced from letters that are received from those who have read it.
Among the believers she left an abiding consciousness of duties towards the Great Faith. We need not dilate on her unique and
immensely valuable services as she has most unostentatiously described them in her “Letters Home.” We will, however be failing in
our duty if we do not pay our humble and
ANNUAL REPORT—NATIONAL SPIRITUAL ASSEMBLY OF THE BAHA’IS OF
INDIA AND BURMA—19381940
CURRENT BAHA’i ACTIVITIES
heartfelt thanks to our most beloved sister for the great and glorious work that she has done among us and for the
splendid holy example that she set before us.
Here again our beloved sister Miss Martha Root’s work stands out as a marvelous example of fortitude and sustained
work. She delivered speeches in all the big halls of the country and her audiences consisted of men from all walks of
life. In some places some individuals tried to put to her some intriguing questions but she always rose to the situation
and mastered it in a manner that resulted in the satisfaction of all concerned. From Srinagar in the North to Colombo
and Kandy in the South she left no town of importance and no individual of prominence where and to whom she did
not convey the Message of Bahã’u’lláh.
Similar work was done by Mrs. Shirin K. Fozdar. She toured South India, that is, Madras, Hyderabad (Deccan) and
Mysore and then went to Burma where she did splendid work. In her second tour she was accompanied by her husband
Dr. K. M. Fozdar and they both joined Miss Martha Root at Madras and travelled with her to Ceylon and Travancore.
Dr. Fozdar returned after some time and the two sisters continued their splendid work in these parts of India as the
Guardian had wished that the N. S. A. of India and Burma should give their attention to the South where there is as yet
Prof. Pritam Singh made his usual tours of the university towns and delivered lectures and answered questions. He is a
well- known figure in these circles and his lectures make good impression upon his hearers. He also toured to Kashmir
to follow up the work of another teacher who had preceded him to that State.
For the first time in the history of the Cause in India, the Indian State of Janimu and Kashmir was opened up at first by
Mr. Isfandiar K. B. Bakhtiari of Karachi in 1937, followed by a visit by Miss Martha L. Root in 1938 and the follow-up
work was done by Prof. Pritam Singh. This valley is visited every summer by thousands of people from all parts of the
world and some Bahá’i
friends are going to settle there, in connection with the Six-Year Plan of Teaching, to continue the teaching work. We
have already a good group of firm believers here which we hope will evolve into an Assembly in the near future.
The local Spiritual Assemblies as usual held public meetings, delivered speeches in public halls and left nothing
undone within their means to spread the Cause of God.
Karachi held public lectures and at the time of each festive Bahá’i anniversary invited the gentry and the notables of the
town to grand tea-parties in the garden of the Haziratu’l-Quds and delivered the Message of Bahá’u’lláh to the guests.
They extend their teaching activities to the neighbouring towns of Hyderabad (Sind) and Shikarpur. It is due to the
efforts of this Assembly that the Divine Faith is known to the people of Sind from the highest to the lowest. A traveller
will find the likeness of the beloved Master hung upon the walls of religious institutions. Sadhu Viswani, whom our
beloved Miss Root describes as “the great writer, the saint, the seer, the sage, the messenger of the New Age” was so
impressed by Miss Martha Root’s direct message that he delivered speeches which may be aptly called the best Bahá’i
speeches. There are many other public men, such as Mr. Jamshed Nusserwanjee Mehta, Mr. Hatim Alvi, Mr. Durga
Dass Advani, all ex-mayors of Karachi, and a host of other notables who never refuse to render any help in the interest
of the Cause that may be asked of them.
Bombay Assembly, in addition to its usual programme, started weekly public meetings in the suburbs of Bombay at the
house of one of the believers of the place visited. This new feaure is evolving into a regular campaign and has not only
added to the number of the Community but has also encouraged and roused the believers to try more and more. The
public activities of the Assembly have brought the Divine Faith to the notice of all public bodies in the town. All the
notables and statesmen of the Province are well aware of the aims and objects of the Divine Faith. Public men such as
Mr. Jamna Dass Mehta, M.L.A., Principal Kashmira Singh, Mr. K. Natranjan, Prof. P. A. Wadia,
THE BAHA’I WORLD
An early picture of the body of a Bahá’i martyr of I ran.
Prof. N. K. Pohagwat, Prof. Rou, Mr. K. F. Nariman, Seth Manjibhoy Govindji, Dr. Mulbagala and Mr. Gyani who presided over the
public meetings called by the Assembly at various occasions gave expression to their glowing appreciation of the Divine Teachings.
The Assembly availed itself of all public functions and turns them into occasions for the propagation of the Divine Faith.
Poona Spiritual Assembly continued in her efforts to serve the Cause in the most efficient way. Public lectures were arranged and the
Bahi’i Holy Days were made occasions for propagating the Divine Faith.
Delhi, Calcutta, Rangoon, Mandalay and Deedanaw Assemblies did their utmost to discharge the duties enjoined upon them by the
Author of their Faith. At Simla a local Spiritual Assembly was formed in 1938 but in 1939
could not be formed owing to its four
members having left the place. A group now meets there. The Lahore group is holding weekly study classes and is gathering strength.
During her tour of more than one year, wherever Miss Martha Root went, she enlisted the aid of the Press. She met everywhere the
journalists and editors of news-
papers who very willingly published long and glowing articles about the Divine Teachings. In India, Burma, and
Ceylon there was not a single paper of note that did not devote some considerable space for the Bahã’i articles. It was
the same with the tours of Mrs. Shirin Fozdar, Prof. Pritam Singh and Mr. Isfandiar Bakhtiari.
Pamphlets such as the “Dawn of the New Day,” rBahdI Peace Programme,” ‘World Religion,” eWhat the Bahd’I
Faith Can Do for Poverty” and others were printed in English and many Indian languages and given away gratis at
public lectures of the touring teachers and at local meetings.
The eeworld Order” magazine of America is subscribed to by many in India and arrangements have been made to
place a copy in the libraries of Universities all over India, Burma, and Ceylon. Mr. A. C. Harris of Switzerland presents
this magazine to some of the Universities of these countries. Thus all the university libraries of these three countries
receive this publication of the Divine Faith. Fifty copies of the
Vol. VII, presented to India and Burma
by Mr. Siegfried Schopflocher, are being placed in the university libraries and in other well-known libraries of these
countries. Our own Urdu and Persian monthly, the
has done very good
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CURRENT BAHA’I ACTIVITIES
work among the Urdu- and Persian-knowing Indians and has been instrumental in spreading the Cause far and wide. The Bahi’i
Friends of Burma have also been active in those regions and have done good deal of teaching work in co-operation with Miss Martha
Root and Mrs. Shirin Fozdar assisted by Dr. S. H. ‘Ali of Rangoon.
The Hindi and Sindhi versions of Dr. Esslemont’s
were freely distributed in North India and in
Sind and the Urdu version of
was also published and put on sale. The Sindhi version of
“Bahá’u’lldh and the New Era”
was approved by the Education Department of the Government and was ordered to be placed in
the hbraries of all the public and private schools of that Province.
One of the forward steps that the believers of these parts took during the years under review was the starting of the Summer School.
As India is a vast country and it was not possible to have more than one such school, it was decided by the N.
A. to hold it yearly at
different places. The first school was held at Simla during September, 1938. It was blessed with the presence of our beloved sister
Miss Martha L. Root. The school was a grand all-round success far beyond the expectations of its promoters. A full programme of
study of the Holy Books was carried out. Evening lectures were held in public halls and a day was set apart for an outing. The
presence of beloved Miss Root inspired the youth who had joined the school and they were greatly benefited. A full report of the
school will be found elsewhere in this volume.
The second Bahá”i summer school opened in Karachi during September, 1939, for ten days. Owing to disturbed international situation
the attendance from other Assemblies was very poor but the friends of Karachi, especially the youth of the place evinced great interest
and were greatly benefited. They asked intelligent questions and the discussion that followed each lesson was greatly illuminating.
The Laws of the Aqdas, the Bahá’i Administration and other Bahi’i literature was studied. A course of
lectures on comparative religion was also delivered. Public lectures were delivered in the Theosophical Hall and at Sarnagati Hall. The
school this year was decidedly an improvement on last year’s effort and it is hoped that the institution will in time become the Great
School—the universal nucleus—which will send out trained Bahá’i teachers to spread the Divine Faith of Bahá’u’lláh throughout the
length and breadth of India, Burma and Ceyon.
This was another effort which was crowned with success. Youth groups existed in many centres but there was no organized effort to
co-ordinate their activities. The American BahI’i Youth Movement invited the youth of this country to join them in holding a
Symposium on a certain appointed day in February. This proved an incentive and the youth groups under the guidance of the N. S. A.
organized themselves, held the annual Symposium and drew up plans for a course of study for the whole year. In 1939 the N. S. A.
appointed a sub-committee to consolidate the movement still further. The Committee is now doing its work. The study classes at all
centres are more or less regularly held and public meetings to which the youths and gentry of the towns were invited have been held.
There are at present two schools, one at Deedanaw (Burma) and the other at Poona (India). The former is a government recognized
institution and imparts education in Burmese and English up to the primary standard; while the latter is a private school and is
conducted under the aegis of the local Spiritual Assembly. It too, imparts education in English, Guj rati and Persian up to the primary
standard. The N. S. A. has a scheme in hand planning a central boarding school for all the Bahá’i children to be established in one of
the centres. Owing to financial difficulties the progress in this connection is very slow; but we hope that ere long the scheme will grow
and fructify and we shall have the most up-to-date boarding school conducted on the lines of the British public schools.
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