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This outline is a personal interpretation of Century of Light. The chapter headings have been added for ease of reference, and are not part of the authorized edition.

Century of Light:

by Arjen Bolhuis





1 Two processes: the changes of the world during the twentieth century, and the emergence of the Bahá'í Faith from obscurity.
2 Century of Light reviews these two processes and the relationship between them.


1 Humanity’s hopes for a better future.
2 Only if humanity understands the implications of what occurred in the twentieth century, will it be able to meet the challenges that lie ahead.
3 What made this insight possible.

I   The world during the first decade

1 1 The horrors of the twentieth century.
2 ‘A tempest, unprecedented in its violence…’
2 3 Europe, the United States and imperialism.
4 The peace movement, relations between European royal families.
3 5 China, India, Mexico, Russia and Congo.
4 6 Colonialism.
7 Technological development.
5 8 Scientific development.
9 Philosophical development.
10 Spiritual development (secularization).

II   The Bahá'í world during the first decade

7 1 'Abdu'l-Bahá.
8 2 His contact with officials, the Secret of Divine Civilization and knowledge.
3 His Tablets to the Persian believers. His Tablet to the village of Kishih.
9 4 The call for a new level of understanding, commitment and action.
10 5 He shaped the consciousness and collective life of the Persian Bahá'í community.
6 The first consultative bodies of Persia.
11 7 Bahá'í schools, medical facilities, Esperanto classes, a postal service, the abandoning of the use of public baths in Persia.
8 The driving force: a moral transformation.
9 The political situation and the role of the Bahá'ís.
12 10 Persian pilgrims to the Holy Land, and their influence.
11 Travel-teaching in India, Burma and China.The first Bahá'í House of Worship in the world, in ‘Ishqábád.
13 12 The result: a diversity of racial, religious and national backgrounds.
13 The construction of the Shrine of the Báb.
14 The significance of the construction.
14 15 1908: freedom for 'Abdu'l-Bahá.
16 1910: 'Abdu'l-Bahá in Egypt.
15 17 His contacts with intellectuals in Egypt.
18 The role of Western diplomats and officials.

III   'Abdu'l-Bahá and World War I

17 1 Introduction.
2 'Abdu'l-Bahá’s approach to Western audiences.
18 3 The spiritual greatness of the early Western Bahá'í’s.
4 The first Western Bahá'í pilgrims to ‘Akká.
19 'Abdu'l-Bahá’s Tablets to the Western Bahá'í’s.
5 His journeys to Europe and North America (three years).
20 6 London.
7 Paris and North America.
21 8 The principles He proclaimed.
9 The coming of age of humankind and a global civilization.
22 10 Volition and action are necessary.
11 'Abdu'l-Bahá’s actions.
23 12 Deepening the believers.Laying the cornerstone of the first Bahá'í House of Worship of the West.
13 The creative power of the Western trips.
24 14 Oneness of the human race and new capacities.
15 The relationship between the individual and the community.
25 16 The interracial marriage between Louis Gregory and Louise Matthew.
17 Practical expression to the principles.The necessity of a revolutionary change in the structure of society.
18 'Abdu'l-Bahá is the Center of the Covenant.
26 19 New York City is the City of the Covenant.'Abdu'l-Bahá is the Covenant.
20 Covenant-breaking activities in the Holy Land and Persia.
27 21 Covenant-breaking activities in North America: Ibrahim Khayru’lláh.
22 'Abdu'l-Bahá foresaw a ‘winter of unprecedented severity’ – both for the Faith and for the world.
23 Covenant-breakers in North America and Persia.
28 24 'Abdu'l-Bahá’s warning about World War I.
25 'Abdu'l-Bahá in London and Paris.
29 26 His return to Haifa.

27 1914-1918: World War I.
28 Preliminary ‘rumblings’ during the first decade of the century (Japan, Russia, France, Germany and Italy).
29 Conspiracies, resistance groups and separist organizations in the Romanov, Hapsburg and Ottoman Empires.
30 30 The Communist Party.
31 The arms race.
31 32 Technological, economic and social change.
33 The undermining of the authority of religious doctrines and moral standards.
34 World War I: eight million dead and ten million disabled.
32 35 American President Woodrow Wilson.
36 The words of 'Abdu'l-Bahá.
33 37 The peace treaty: unjust and planting the seeds of World War II.
38 Economic problems as a result of war debts.The rise of North American power.
39 The League of Nations.
34 40 Shoghi Effendi’s commentary on this.
41 The defects of the League of Nations.
35 42 Conclusion.
43 'Abdu'l-Bahá’s Tablets of the Divine Plan.
36 44 The Báb and Bahá'u'lláh on North America.
37 45 Knighthood conferred on 'Abdu'l-Bahá.
46 The ascension and burial of 'Abdu'l-Bahá.

IV   The Ascension of 'Abdu'l-Bahá

39 1 The end of the Apostolic Age.
2 The station of 'Abdu'l-Bahá.
40 3 His achievements.
41 4 He provided the means for unity and justice.
5 The nature of unity.
6 The Guardianship and the Universal House of Justice.
42 7 The concept of Guardianship.
8 The transformation caused by 'Abdu'l-Bahá’s Will and Testament.

V   The Bahá'í world and the world (1921-1945)

43 1 The circumstances in which Shoghi Effendi’s mission had to be carried out.
2 Changes after World War I.
44 3 Post-war awakening elsewhere: China, Latin America and India (M.K. Gandhi).
4 Both East and West had ignored Bahá'u'lláh’s message.
45 5 The economic crash of 1929.
6 The challenge facing Shoghi Effendi.
7 The Bahá'í World in 1929.
46 8 The state of Bahá'í Holy Places.
9 Why the Universal House of Justice could not be established at that time.
10 The opposition of Shoghi Effendi’s relatives.
47 11 The effect of this on Shoghi Effendi.
12 Bahíyyih Khánum, the Greatest Holy Leaf.
48 13 Shoghi Effendi’s silence, and eventual exposure, of the situation.
49 14 The challenge of the Covenant.
15 Shoghi Effendi on world unity.
50 16 The adolescence of humanity.
51 17 Shoghi Effendi’s vision of the future.
18 The twin forces of integration and disintegration.
52 19 The future role of the United States as a nation.
53 20 The role of the Bahá'í community in this process.
21 Our urgent and vital mission.
22 Introduction.
54 23 The importance of the Administrative Order.
55 24 The difference between the Bahá'í Faith and former religions in this respect.
25 The Spiritual Assemblies are the forerunners of the local and national ‘Houses of Justice’.
26 The relationship between spiritual truth and social development.
27 The nature of the Formative Age.
56 28 1897: the first Spiritual Assembly (Tehran, Persia).
29 Assemblies in Ishqábád and North America.The first National Spiritual Assemblies.
57 30 Securing recognition (incorporation) of Spiritual Assemblies.
31 Formal incorporation in North America.
58 32 Shoghi Effendi’s translations of the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh and of ’the Dawn-Breakers’.
33 Bahá'í pilgrims in the Holy Land.1925: Egypt’s declaration that the Bahá'í Faith is an independent religion.
34 The weakening of ‘spiritual’ and ‘moral’ forces.
59 35 The world’s religious leaders are responsible for this.
36 Shoghi Effendi’s commentary on this.
60 37 Three false doctrines: Nationalism, Racialism and Communism.
38 Fascism.
61 39 Naziism.
40 Communism.
62 41 The weakness of human nature.
63 42 Acceleration of the process of disintegration.

VI   The Bahá'í world (1921-1963) and World War II

65 1 Bahá'í teachers in Persia.
2 Bahá'í teachers in the West: women.
66 3 Queen Marie of Romania.
4 The changes brought by the rise of the Administrative Order.
67 5 The two chief instruments of inspiration: Shoghi Effendi’s letters and pilgrims returning from the Holy Land.
6 The spiritual destiny of the North American Bahá'í community.
68 7 The role of the Bahá'ís everywhere.
8 1937-1944: the Seven Year Plan for North America.
69 9 A striking parallel between two developments during this period.
10 The nature of planning in the Bahá'í Faith.
11 The publication of ‘God Passes By’ (1944).
70 12 The importance of the study of history (Ramayana, Odyssey, Aeneid, Nordic Sagas, Shahnameh, Bible, Qur’án)
13 The importance of ‘God Passes By’.
14 World War II was the essential pre-requisite to world unification.
71 15 A fundamental shift in consciousness throughout the world (reference to Qur’án 27:88).
16 The fear of atomic weapons.
17 The United Nations: founded in San Francisco, and seated in New York City (1945).
72 18 Collective security: peacekeeping forces and military interventions.
19 The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948).
73 20 The trials of leading figures of the Nazi regime.
21 Decolonization.
22 The magnitude of the change brought by the establishment of the United Nations.
74 23 Outstanding figures escaping the limits of racial, cultural or religious identity (Anne Frank, Martin Luther King Jr., Paolo Freire, Ravi Shankar, Gabriel Garcia Marques, Kiri Te Kanawa, Andrei Sakharov, Mother Teresa and Zhang Yimou, Nelson Mandela etc).
24 The use and distribution of wealth (IMF, GATT and the World Bank).
75 25 The Marshall Plan.
26 The liberating effect on consciousness in the Far East (innovative products and industrial energy).
76 27 1946-1953: the second Seven Year Plan.
28 The achievements of this Plan.
77 29 1953-1963: the Ten Year Crusade.
78 30 The Plan called for a giant leap forward.
31 The Knights of Bahá'u'lláh and the Roll of Honour.
79 32 Achievements until October 1957.
33 The Hands of the Cause of God.
80 34 Appointment of nineteen Hands of the Cause of God (1951).
35 The creation of five Auxiliary Boards (1952).
36 Eviction of the Covenant-breakers from the Mansion at Bahjí (1957).The number of Hands of the Cause of God is raised to twenty-seven.
81 37 The passing of Shoghi Effendi (4 November 1957).
38 1963: the first election of the Universal House of Justice.
82 39 1951: appointment of the International Council.1961: election of the International Council.
40 1957-1963: the Ministry of the Custodians.

VII   Shoghi Effendi

83 1 The role played by Shoghi Effendi.
2 The implications of the fact that the Universal House of Justice could not come into existence until 1963.
84 3 Shoghi Effendi refrained from legislation.
4 He left the question of his successor(s) in the hands of the Universal House of Justice.
85 5 The vision of Shoghi Effendi.
6 The capacities of Shoghi Effendi.
86 7 The significance of his work.

VIII   The world and world government

87 1 The Cold War.
2 An ever-growing array of weapons of mass destruction.
88 3 Revolutionary struggle for liberation in subject nations.
4 The West encouraged and armed authoritarian regimes.
5 The results of this: political, social and economic crises.
89 6 The emergence of materialism.
7 The collapse of the Soviet Union, the decrease of religious influence, and the change of the academic world.
8 Individualism.
90 9 The current problems of the world cannot be solved without a fundamental change of moral consciousness and behaviour.
10 The significance of the establishment of the Universal House of Justice.
91 11 Past attempts for universal empires.
12 The United Nations Organization.
13 After yet greater suffering and disillusionment the principle of world government will be accepted.
92 14 This is the context of the establishment of the Universal House of Justice.
15 History’s first global democratic election.
16 Bahá'í elections.Daniel’s prophesy about the 1335 days.
93 17 The Guardianship and the Universal House of Justice.
18 The relationship between them.
94 19 The duty of the Bahá'í community at this stage: to encourage and facilitate the establishment of world government.
20 The Bahá'í Faith is an example of the oneness of humankind.
95 21 The principle of justice.

IX   1963-2000: The Bahá'í world

97 1 1963-2000: expansion and consolidation, and a rise of influence in the life of society.
2 The creation of the Continental Boards of Counsellors and the International Teaching Centre.
98 3 An overview of the Plans.All activities originate in the creative impulse of the Revelation itself.
99 4 1960s and 1970s: a greatly increased interest in the message of the Cause.
5 Teaching the masses: tens of thousands of new Bahá'ís in Africa, Asia and Latin America, especially in rural areas.
6 The role of individual teachers and pioneers.
100 7 Collective teaching and proclamation projects: the tens of thousands became hundreds of thousands.
8 The majority of Bábí heroes were youth (the Báb, Anís, Quddús, Zaynab, Shaykh ‘Alí, Muhammad-i-Báqir-Naqsh, and Tahirih).
101 9 Bahá'í Youth.
10 The problem of consolidation.Cultural challenges.
11 The initial rapid rise in enrolment rates slowed markedly in many countries.
102 12 Pioneers and new believers faced questions for which Bahá'í experience offered few answers.
13 Many ways of activities were tried all over the Bahá'í world.
103 14 Social and economic development in Africa, Latin America and parts of Asia.
15 The creation of an Office of Social and Economic Development at the World Centre (1983).
16 Devising development paradigms using the Faith’s unique conception of human potentialities.
104 17 The Indian Bahá'í community (over a million Bahá'í’s).Administrative decentralization: the creation of Regional Bahá'í Councils (1985).
18 The Lotus Temple (1986): over ten thousand visitors every day.
105 19 A symposium on ‘Religion, Science and Development’, hosted by the National Spiritual Assembly of India (2000).
20 The Malaysian Bahá'í community: a spiritual partnership between believers of Chinese and Indian backgrounds.
21 Bahá'í communities who survived war, terror, political oppression and extreme privations: Ethiopia, Zaire, Uganda, Rwanda etc. (stories of heroic struggle).
106 22 Inspiring stories about Cambodian refugee camps and about the Liberian Bahá'í community.
107 23 1992: 27,000 believers at the Bahá'í World Congress in New York; nine auxiliary conferences all over the world.The satellite link with the gathering in Moscow.
24 The rebirth of Bahá'í communities in Eastern Europe and the Soviet bloc.
25 The opening of China to the Faith.
108 26 By 1996 the Bahá'í community had become very different from the one in 1964.
27 The openness of heart and the passivity of the newly enrolled believers.
109 28 The Four Year Plan: advancing the process of entry by troops by developing the capacities of believers.
29 This method has been conceived by 'Abdu'l-Bahá in the Tablets of the Divine Plan.
30 The Ruhi Institute in Columbia: a systematic and sustained programme of education in the Writings.
31 Training institutes and study circles (by 2000: 100.000 believers were involved world-wide).
110 32 The cyclical nature of Bahá'í history.
33 Throughout history, the masses of humanity have been, at best, spectators at the advance of civilization.
34 Bahá'u'lláh has come to free humanity from this long bondage.It entails the involvement of the entire body of humankind in the work of its own spiritual, social and intellectual development.

X   The history of Bahá'í External Affairs

113 1 Bahá'u'lláh’s relationships with government officials.
114 2 'Abdu'l-Bahá’s interest in the creation of a new international order.
3 His relationships with influential persons in North America and Europe.
4 Shoghi Effendi encouraged the establishment of the ‘International Bahá'í Bureau’ in Geneva, seat of the League of Nations (1925).
115 5 The appeal against the seizure of the House of Bahá'u'lláh in Baghdad (1929).
6 - Shoghi Effendi’s statement to the Palestine Committee of the United Nations (1947).- ‘A Bahá'í Declaration on Human Obligations and Rights’, submitted to the United Nations by the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada (1947).- The United Nations accredited the Bahá'í International Community as an international non-governmental organization (1948).
116 7 Shoghi Effendi’s understanding of the relative significance of events unfolding around him.
8 - Consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council (1970).- Formal association with the United Nations Environmental Programme (1974).- Consultative status with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) (1976).- Intervention by the United Nations on behalf of the believers suffering persecution in Iran and Morocco.
117 9 1980: a new stage in the development of external affairs activities.
10 The history of persecutions in Iran.
11 1979: the Islamic revolution and the power of the Mullás.
118 12 The sacrifices of the Iranian Bahá'í community.The emergence of the Faith from obscurity.
119 13 The uniqueness of the situation as compared to other victims of oppression.
14 Twenty years of United Nations resolutions.
120 15 Unprecedented media attention around the world.
16 Iranian Bahá'í refugees (more then ten thousand).
121 17 The benefit of this long struggle for the United Nations’ human rights system.
18 The relevance of the Faith’s activities to society.Public education programmes on the subject of human rights.
122 19 1985: ‘The Promise of World Peace’, a statement of the Universal House of Justice to the generality of humankind.
20 The reputation of the Bahá'í International Community.
123 21 The structure of the Bahá'í International Community.
22 World Summits and related conferences organized by the United Nations (1990-1996).
124 23 Subjects: education, children, environment, human rights, population, social development, women etc.
24 The recognition of the Bahá'í Faith as a religion by Germany’s High Court (1991).
125 25 The special session to pay tribute to Bahá'u'lláh on the Centenary of His ascension by Brazil’s Chamber of Deputies (1992).
26 Bahá'u'lláh’s increasing influence in the life of society.

XI   Unity and the world of today

127 1 The light of unity.
2 ‘The Seven Candle of Unity’ by 'Abdu'l-Bahá.
128 3 - Advances in unity of race, unity of religion, and unity of language.
4 - Unity of thought in world undertakings: vast programmes of social and economic development, humanitarian aid and concern for the environment.- Unity in the political realm: the establishment of the United Nations.- Unity of nations: acceptance of the world as a global homeland.
129 5 Unity in freedom: the extinction of colonialism.
6 The world has been transformed.
7 22-26 May 2001: Non-governmental organizations Summit.
8 28-31 Aug. 2001: Millennium World Peace Summit of Religions and Spiritual Leaders.
130 9 6-8 Sep. 2001: The Millennium Summit.
10 The leaders of the world have the power and responsibility to reach the goals they have defined in these historic meetings.
131 11 The contrast between the historic importance of the Millennium Summit and the lack of enthusiasm it aroused among the people of the world.
12 The collapse of society’s moral foundations.
132 13 Economic globalization.
14 Political, social and cultural globalization.Internet communication.
133 15 The resulting cost effectiveness.
16 Protests against globalization.
134 17 The rapidly widening gap between wealth and poverty.
18 The inseparable principles of unity and justice.
135 19 Today’s ‘Western civilization’ consists of liberal relativism and capitalism.
20 The system is morally and intellectually bankrupt.
21 The forces of materialism.
136 22 The ultimate issues are spiritual.

XII The present and the future

137 1 The appearance of the Manifestations of God.
2 The appearance of Bahá'u'lláh.
138 3 The changes of the twentieth century are irreversible.
4 The goal: spiritualization of human consciousness and a global civilization.This will only be accomplished at the cost of terrible suffering.
139 5 The Faith is a World Religion, destined to become a world-embracing Commonwealth.
6 The Bahá'í community at the end of the century.
140 7 The Kitáb-i-Aqdas.
8 The results of attacks on the Faith.
141 9 The significance of the building project on Mount Carmel.
10 The visible and compelling presence of the Faith on Mount Carmel.
142 11 The unity of the Bahá'í Faith.The spiritual and administrative centres are inseparably on one spot.
12 The passing of Amatu'l-Bahá Rúhíyyih Khánum (2000).
143 13 An appreciation of one of the bounties of Bahá'u'lláh.
14 Material civilization and divine civilization.
15 The urgent need for divine civilization.
144 16 The purpose of the Bahá'í community: to assist the people of the world to open their minds and hearts to Bahá'u'lláh.
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