March 31, 2017

Some historical facts about ‘Akka - by Hand of the Cause Mr. Furutan

…I would like to mention some of the historical facts connected with this ancient city. The Master related to pilgrims that 'Acco (Accho, later Acre or 'Akka or 'Akko) was first built by Phoenicians. (‘Acco in Phoenician means 'curved triangle'.) Egyptian inscriptions of the fifteenth to thirteenth centuries BC indicate that 'Acco was a part of the ancient Egyptian Empire. It is also mentioned in Judges I:31.

Afterwards Assyrians and then Persians conquered this area. They were followed by Alexander the Great, the Seleucids of Syria and the Armenian king, Tigranes the Great, who, one after the other, took over this region until the Roman Empire became its ruler.

In 636 AD it was conquered by the Arabs, in 969 by the Fatimid caliphs of Egypt, in 1079 by the Seljuks, and in 1099 by the Crusaders, who ruled Acre (as the Christians called it) with only brief interruption for two centuries.

Baldwin I seized Acre in 1104 and it became a part of the Christian Kingdom of Jerusalem. In 1187 Saladin raised the banner of Islam on the towers of Acre, but it was soon recovered for the Christians in the Third Crusade and remained their capital until the Mamluks of Egypt conquered and destroyed the city in 1291.

March 28, 2017

1889 Persia: Qajar Kings maintained the threefold functions of government, legislative, executive, and judicial – observations by Lord George Curzon during his six-month travels in Persia

Painting of Fath-Ali Shah and his sons
“In theory the king may do what he pleases; his word is law. The saying that ‘The law of the Medes and Persians altereth not’ was merely an ancient periphrasis for the absolutism of the sovereign. He appoints and he may dismiss all ministers, officers, officials, and judges. Over his own family and household, and over the civil or military functionaries in his employ, he has power of life and death without reference to any tribunal. The property of any such individual, if disgraced or executed, reverts to him. The right to take life in any case is vested in him alone, but can be delegated to governors or deputies. All property, not previously granted by the crown or purchased—all property, in fact, to which a legal title cannot be established—belongs to him, and can be disposed of at his pleasure. All rights or privileges, such as the making of public works, the working of mines, the institution of telegraphs, roads, railroads, tramways, etc., the exploitation, in fact, of any of the resources of the country, are vested in him, and must be purchased from him before they can be assumed by others. In his person are fused the threefold functions of government, legislative, executive, and judicial. No obligation is imposed upon him beyond the outward observance of the forms of the national religion. He is the pivot upon which turns the entire machinery of public life.

March 23, 2017

circa 1848: Shaykh Sálih, an Arab resident of Karbilá, became the “first to shed his blood in the path of the Faith, in Tihrán”

Among the men who in Karbilá eagerly embraced, through the efforts of Táhirih, the Cause of the Báb, was a certain Shaykh Sálih, an Arab resident of that city who was the first to shed his blood in the path of the Faith, in Tihrán. She was so profuse in her praise of Shaykh Sálih that a few suspected him of being equal in rank to Quddús. 
- Nabil  (‘The Daw-Breakers’, translated and edited by Shoghi Effendi)

March 21, 2017

November 1980: The Universal House of Justice announces the zones of the Continental Boards of Counsellors and the start of their five-year terms

In June 1979 we were moved to announce that the duration of the terms of office of Continental Counsellors would be five years, to start on the Day of the Covenant of this year. As this date approaches, we have decided that the time is ripe for a further step in the development of the institution itself that will, at one and the same time, accord greater discretion and freedom of action to the Continental Boards of Counsellors in the carrying out of their duties, and widen the scope of each Board to embrace an entire continent. In accordance with this decision, the zones of the Continental Boards of Counsellors will, from the Day of the Covenant of the year 137 (26 November 1980), be as follows:

1. Africa, comprising the areas of the four present zones of that continent.
2. The Americas, comprising the present zones of North, Central and South America.
3. Asia, comprising the present zones of Western, South Central and South-eastern Asia, together with the present zone of North-eastern Asia without the Hawaiian Islands and Micronesia.
4. Australasia, comprising the present zone of Australasia plus the Hawaiian Islands and Micronesia.
5. Europe.
- The Universal House of Justice  (From a message dated 3 November 1980 to the Baha’is of the World; ‘Messages from the Universal House of Justice 1963-1986’)

March 18, 2017

September 1980: Additional land acquired at Bahji and Mazra’ih

24 September 1980

To the Bahá'ís of the world

WITH HEARTS BRIMMING WITH GRATITUDE FOR BOUNTIFUL CONFIRMATIONS BLESSED BEAUTY ANNOUNCE FOLLOWING RECENT ACCOMPLISHMENTS HOLY LAND:

IN BAHJI JUST ACQUIRED STRIP OF LAND 13,150 SQUARE METRES IN AREA BORDERING DRIVEWAY FROM WESTERN GATE BAHÁ'Í PROPERTY AREA ACQUIRED ADJACENT TO AND SOUTH OF PRESENT BOUNDARY OLIVE GROVE ENABLES SOUTHWEST QUADRANT GARDENS SURROUNDING MOST HOLY SHRINE BE COMPLETED. THIS ACQUISITION WAS MADE POSSIBLE BY EXCHANGE AGAINST PROPERTY ON MAIN ROAD TO NAZARETH DONATED WORLD CENTRE BY DESCENDANTS LATE HUSAYN BAQIR KASHANI.

ALSO PURCHASED NEARLY 50,000 SQUARE METRES AGRICULTURAL LAND ADJACENT TO AND NORTH OF MAZRA'IH PROPERTY AS PROTECTION TO MANSION IN RAPIDLY DEVELOPING AREA.

SHIPMENT OVER 1,000 PIECES COMPRISING 120 CUBIC METRES KATRINA CEDAR WOOD FROM TURKEY JUST CLEARED FROM HAIFA PORT FOR USE RESTORATION HOUSE ABDU'LLAH PASHA IN 'AKKA.

UNIVERSAL HOUSE OF JUSTICE
(‘Messages from the Universal House of Justice, 1963 to 1986’)

March 13, 2017

Fall of 1846 – The Báb revealed in a few hours a commentary on the súrih of Va’l-‘Asr – “verses that equalled in number a third of the Qur’án”

It was at the request of this same prelate [the Imám-Jum’ih of Isfahan] that the Báb, one night, after supper, revealed His well-known commentary on the súrih of Va’l-‘Asr. Writing with astonishing rapidity, He, in a few hours, had devoted to the exposition of the significance of only the first letter of that súrih—a letter which Shaykh Aḥmad-i-Ahsá’í had stressed, and which Bahá’u’lláh refers to in the Kitáb-i-Aqdas—verses that equalled in number a third of the Qur’án, a feat that called forth such an outburst of reverent astonishment from those who witnessed it that they arose and kissed the hem of His robe. 
- Shoghi Effendi  (‘God Passes By’)

March 9, 2017

Summer of 1846: A “providentially designed” event to protect the Báb in Shiraz – the Guardian explains

Husayn Khán, [Governor] vindictive, relentless, exasperated by the reports of his sleepless agents that his Captive’s [The Báb] power and fame were hourly growing, decided to take immediate action. It is even reported that his accomplice, Hájí Mírzá Aqásí, [the Prime Minister] had ordered him to kill secretly the would-be disrupter of the state and the wrecker of its established religion. By order of the governor the chief constable, ‘Abdu’l-Hamíd Khán, scaled, in the dead of night, the wall and entered the house of Hájí Mírzá Siyyid ‘Alí, where the Báb was confined, arrested Him, and confiscated all His books and documents. That very night, however, took place an event which, in its dramatic suddenness, was no doubt providentially designed to confound the schemes of the plotters, and enable the Object of their hatred to prolong His ministry and consummate His Revelation. An outbreak of cholera, devastating in its virulence, had, since midnight, already smitten above a hundred people. The dread of the plague had entered every heart, and the inhabitants of the stricken city were, amid shrieks of pain and grief, fleeing in confusion. Three of the governor’s domestics had already died. Members of his family were lying dangerously ill. In his despair he, leaving the dead unburied, had fled to a garden in the outskirts of the city. ‘Abdu’l-Hamíd Khán, confronted by this unexpected development, decided to conduct the Báb to His own home. He was appalled, upon his arrival, to learn that his son lay in the death-throes of the plague. In his despair he threw himself at the feet of the Báb, begged to be forgiven, adjured Him not to visit upon the son the sins of the father, and pledged his word to resign his post, and never again to accept such a position. Finding that his prayer had been answered, he addressed a plea to the governor begging him to release his Captive, and thereby deflect the fatal course of this dire visitation. Husayn Khán acceded to his request, and released his Prisoner on condition of His quitting the city. 
- Shoghi Effendi  (‘God Passes By’)

February 27, 2017

December 1912: Professor E. G. Browne visits ‘Abdu’l-Baha in London

Professor Edward Granville Browne visited 'Abdu'l-Bahá on December 18th [1912]. It is certain that they had not met during 'Abdu'l-Bahá's previous visit to England. A letter from 'Abdu'l-Bahá to Edward Browne, preserved in Cambridge University Library, provides the definite evidence. [Mahmud] Zarqani's Diary mentions only two meetings during 'Abdu'l-Bahá's second visit to London, whereas Lady Blomfield writes: 'Professor Edward Granville Browne, who had written much concerning the Bábís and the Bahá'ís, came from time to time, speaking in Persian with the Master, Who was delighted to see him, and talked over many things, especially the momentous occasion when that intrepid Cambridge Orientalist succeeded in obtaining permission to enter the presence of Bahá'u'lláh.' 
-H.M. Balyuzi  (‘Abdu'l-Baha - The Centre of the Covenant’)

As Mirza Mahmud-i-Zarqani -- 'Abdu'l-Bahá's secretary in the course of His travels, and the chronicler of those memorable years in the West -- has recorded, Browne during his… visit wished to broach the subject of his writings in the past and offer apologies, but 'Abdu'l-Bahá drew away from this topic and said: 'Let us talk of other matters which would be conducive to amity' 
-H. M. Balyuzi  (‘Edward Granville Browne and The Baha'i Faith’)

February 23, 2017

December 1848: Baha’u’llah sets out to visit the Bábis at Shaykh Tabarsi

In December 1848, to fulfill His promise to visit Shaykh Tabarsi for a second time, Baha'u'llah set out with a number of the Bábis intending to visit the besieged fortress. Those who went with Him included
  • Haji Mirza Janiy-i-Kashani, [The merchant who had acted as host to the Báb in Kashan, and the first chronicler of His Faith, who was martyred in August 1852]
  • Mulla Baqir-i-Tabrizi (one of the Bab's Letters of the Living),
  • Shaykh Abu-Turab-i-Ishtahardi,
  • Aqa Siyyid Hasan-i-Khu'i,
  • Aqa Siyyid Husayn-i-Turshizi (one of the Seven Martyrs of Tihran),
  • 'Abdu'l-Vahhab Big,
  • Muhammad-Taqi Khan-i-Nuri and
  • Mirza Yahya, Subh-i-Azal.
But Baha'u'llah did not succeed in fulfilling His intention, for He and His companions were arrested and detained when they reached a village some nine miles from Shaykh Tabarsi. 
- Balyuzi  (‘Baha’u’llah the King of Glory’)

February 19, 2017

1926: Green Acre comes under direct supervision of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’is of the United States and Canada

The Green Acre Fellowship at its annual meeting in August voted a special resolution, the result of which will be that Green Acre in August, 1926, will come under the direct supervision of the National Spiritual Assembly, and its unique tradition and splendid resources will be joined to the Baha’i Cause in North America. It is the great significance of Green Acre that it brings an opportunity of applying the Baha’i spirit and principles to the most practical problems of daily life, besides affording a most adequate platform for the spread of the Message in a dignified and universal way. This action on the part of the Fellowship is a truly gratifying indication that a new period of expansion has opened for the Cause.

Several Committees are already engaged in planning for an increase of the activities of Green Acre and details will be published in an early number of the News Letter. 
(Baha’i News Issue no. 7, September 1925)

February 15, 2017

1925: National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’is of the United States and Canada opens a central office at Green Acre - Horace Holley devotes his entire time at central office

Since the establishment of the National Spiritual Assembly by the Guardian of the Cause, the activities of the believers throughout the United States and Canada have centered around that body more and more. The responsibility placed upon the members, already considerable, will increase steadily, with the growth of the Cause itself.

For some time it has been apparent to those in touch with this phase of the work that there is urgent need for a central office with a secretary able to devote all of his time to the correspondence and other duties incumbent upon the National Spiritual Assembly.

The difficulty of finding a person with the necessary qualifications and at the same time so situated that he could enter upon this service with the compensation which could be voted at the present time, has been a serious obstacle to the establishment of this necessary office.

The National Spiritual Assembly is happy to announce that arrangements have been made whereby, early in October, a central office will be opened at Green Acre, South Eliot, Maine.

February 11, 2017

“Bahá’u’lláh’s lengthiest epistle to any single sovereign” -- Lawḥ-i-Sulṭán, (the Tablet to Náṣiri’d-Dín Sháh)

Of the various writings that make up the Súriy-i-Haykal, one requires particular mention. The Lawḥ-i-Sulṭán, the Tablet to Náṣiri’d-Dín Sháh, Bahá’u’lláh’s lengthiest epistle to any single sovereign, was revealed in the weeks immediately preceding His final banishment to ‘Akká. It was eventually delivered to the monarch by Badí‘, a youth of seventeen, who had entreated Bahá’u’lláh for the honour of rendering some service.  His efforts won him the crown of martyrdom and immortalized his name. The Tablet contains the celebrated passage describing the circumstances in which the divine call was communicated to Bahá’u’lláh and the effect it produced.  Here, too, we find His unequivocal offer to meet with the Muslim clergy, in the presence of the Sháh, and to provide whatever proofs of the new Revelation they might consider to be definitive, a test of spiritual integrity significantly failed by those who claimed to be the authoritative trustees of the message of the Qur’án. 
- The Universal House of Justice  (Introduction to ‘The Summons of the Lord of Hosts’)

February 9, 2017

The House of 'Abbúd – some historical background

What is known as the House of 'Abbúd in 'Akká in two parts: the eastern part which was known as "the house of 'Údí Khammár", and the western part, which was the house of 'Abbúd.

The eastern section was so insufficient to the needs of Bahá'u'lláh and His family that no less than thirteen persons of both sexes had to accommodate themselves in one of its rooms.

Bahá'u'lláh had one room of the eastern section to Himself, and it was there that He revealed His Book of Laws, the Kitáb-i-Aqdas (circa 1873). At the time of the wedding of 'Abdu'l-Bahá one room, which is now situated between the two sections of the House, was built by 'Abbúd, and the wedding took place there. Subsequently, 'Abbúd turned over the western part to Bahá'u'lláh. Bahá'u'lláh then gave His room in the eastern part to 'Abdu'l-Bahá, and occupied one of the rooms of the western section, which pilgrims are now able to visit.

February 7, 2017

1912: ‘Abdu’l-Baha’s journey to America

'Abdu'l-Bahá's journey across America was remarkable. He was 68 years old and had been a prisoner most of His life. When He set out from Egypt He was unwell and planned only to travel to the American East coast and to Chicago. However, the American Bahá'ís begged Him to visit their communities and He undertook the strenuous three thousand-mile journey across the continent by train, sitting up most nights in a chair rather than spend money on a sleeping compartment. He spoke at public meetings nearly every day, sometimes three times a day, and gave hundreds of private interviews. His hectic and exhausting schedule is well-documented by Mírzá Mahmúd, who frequently alludes to the anxiety of the Master's companions over His health. Mahmúd's telling references to the simplicity of 'Abdu'l-Bahá's lifestyle -- `For dinner, 'Abdu'l-Bahá ate only a little bread and cheese and went to bed' -- contrast with the opulent lives lived by many of the Americans who visited Him. 
(Preface to 'Mahmud’s Diary', published by George Ronald, 1997)

February 2, 2017

November 1866: An extraordinary event took place in the sky

The spectacular shower of meteors in the early hours of the morning of 14 November 1866 was observed all over Europe. It was an extraordinary event exciting comment from professional astronomers and laymen alike. The following sample account is from The Times Saturday, 17 November 1866:

The Rev. Robert Main, the Radcliffe Observer at Oxford, gives the following account of the meteorological phenomenon of Tuesday night last:  --

'...This great display began about 13h. (or 1 o'clock in the morning), and reached its maximum at about 13h.24m., after which time it gradually began to slacken. The watch, however, was kept up till 18h., though after 15h., there were not many meteors seen. In all there were observed not fewer than 3,000 during the night, of which about 2,000 fell between 13h. and 14h., or between 1 a.m. and 2 a.m. As to the general appearance of the meteors, it was noticed that the majority of them were of a whitish or yellowish colour. Some, however, were reddish or orange-coloured, and one meteor was noticed to be bluish. The brightest left generally a train behind them, which was to be seen for a few seconds after the meteor disappeared.' 
(Adapted from ‘The Revelation of Baha’u’llah', by Adib Taherzadeh, vol. 2)

February 1, 2017

Some Historical Events During the Month of February

From: Baha'i Calendar -- this month in history

January 20, 2017

1925: Floods destroy five hundred houses belonged to Baha’is in Nayriz, Persia

To this sad tale of unbridled cruelty must be added the devastation caused by the recent floods which have destroyed nearly half of Nayriz including five hundred houses which belonged to the Baha’is of that town. 
- Shoghi Effendi  (From a letter dated March 3, 1925 addressed to ‘the beloved of the Lord and the handmaids of the Merciful throughout the West’; Baha’i News, no. 6, July-August 1925)

January 16, 2017

1925: Praiseworthy qualities exhibited by North American believers - the Guardian identifies

  • “Your steadfastness,  
  • your unsparing devotion,
  • your self-sacrifice in upholding and fostering the institutions of the Cause;
  • the notable advance you have achieved in the coordination of your activities;
  • the remarkable solicitude you have shown, and
  • the magnificent response you have made on behalf of the oppressed and needy among your brethren;
  • the measures you have initiated,
  • the hindrances you have removed and
  • the means and methods you have perfected…”

January 10, 2017

Baha’u’llah tells Napoleon III about his conversation with the Czar of Russia, his dream, and the consequences of his disregard of God’s Message

O King! We heard the words thou didst utter in answer to the Czar of Russia, concerning the decision made regarding the war. [1] Thy Lord, verily, knoweth, is informed of all. Thou didst say: “I lay asleep upon my couch, when the cry of the oppressed, who were drowned in the Black Sea, wakened me.” This is what We heard thee say, and, verily, thy Lord is witness unto what I say. We testify that that which wakened thee was not their cry but the promptings of thine own passions, for We tested thee, and found thee wanting. Comprehend the meaning of My words, and be thou of the discerning. It is not Our wish to address thee words of condemnation, out of regard for the dignity We conferred upon thee in this mortal life. We, verily, have chosen courtesy, and made it the true mark of such as are nigh unto Him. Courtesy is, in truth, a raiment which fitteth all men, whether young or old.  Well is it with him that adorneth his temple therewith, and woe unto him who is deprived of this great bounty. Hadst thou been sincere in thy words, thou wouldst have not cast behind thy back the Book of God, when it was sent unto thee by Him Who is the Almighty, the All-Wise. We have proved thee through it, and found thee other than that which thou didst profess. Arise, and make amends for that which escaped thee. Erelong the world and all that thou possessest will perish, and the kingdom will remain unto God, thy Lord and the Lord of thy fathers of old. It behoveth thee not to conduct thine affairs according to the dictates of thy desires. Fear the sighs of this Wronged One, and shield Him from the darts of such as act unjustly.