Glossary of Bahá'í terms
Sultan of Turkey, 1861-76. He was responsible for Bahá'u'lláh's banishments to Constantinople, to Adrianople, and to the prison-fortress of 'Akka, Palestine. Wilful and headstrong, 'Abdu'l-'Aziz was known for his lavish expenditures. Bahá'u'lláh stigmatized him in the Kitáb-i-Aqdas as occupying the "throne of tyranny". His fall was prophesied in a Tablet (circa 1869) addressed to Fu'ad Pasha, Ottoman Foreign Minister while Bahá'u'lláh was imprisoned in 'Akka. As a result of public discontent, heightened by a crop failure in 1873 and a mounting public debt, he was deposed by his ministers on 30 May 1876.
Servant of Bahá: the title assumed by Abbas Effendi (23 May 1844-28 November 1921), eldest son and appointed successor of Bahá'u'lláh and the Centre of His Covenant. Upon Bahá'u'lláh's ascension in 1892, 'Abdu'l-Bahá became Head of the Bahá'í Faith in accordance with provisions revealed by Bahá'u'lláh in the Kitáb-i-Aqdas and the Book of the Covenant. Author of some 27,000 writings (mostly letters) which Bahá'ís consider scripture; he is considered the infallible interpreter of his father's writings, and a perfect example of how to live a Bahá'í life. Among the titles by which He is known are the Centre of the Covenant, the Mystery of God, the Master, and the Perfect Exemplar of Bahá'u'lláh's teachings. See Tablets of the Divine Plan and the Will and Testament of 'Abdu'l-Bahá.
Sultan of the Ottoman Empire, 1876-1909. He and his uncle, Sultan 'Abdu'l-'Aziz, who preceded him, were responsible for forty-six of 'Abdu'l-Bahá's fifty-six years of imprisonment and exile and for Bahá'u'lláh's banishments to Constantinople, Adrianople, and 'Akka. The Young Turks Rebellion in 1908 forced 'Abdu'l-Hamid to reinstate the constitution he had suspended and to free all political and religious prisoners. As a result, 'Abdu'l-Bahá was released from house arrest in September 1908. 'Abdu'l-Hamid was deposed the following year.
A translation of Jamal-i-Abhá, a title of Bahá'u'lláh.
"Most Glorious" Kingdom: the spiritual world beyond this world.
The ancient Arabic system of allocating a numerical value to letters of the alphabet, so that numbers may be represented by letters and vice versa. Thus every word has both a literal meaning and a numerical value.
The international system for the administration of the affairs of the Bahá'í community. Ordained by Bahá'u'lláh, it is the agency through which the spirit of His revelation is to exercise its transforming effects on humanity and through which the Bahá'í World Commonwealth will be ushered in. Its twin, crowning institutions are the Guardianship and the Universal House of Justice. The institutions that make it up and the principles by which it operates are set forth in the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh and 'Abdu'l-Bahá. Its structure was further clarified and raised up by Shoghi Effendi during his ministry as Guardian of the Faith (1921-57). This process of elucidation continues through guidance from the Universal House of Justice, the supreme governing and legislative body of the Bahá'í Faith, which is supported by National and Local Spiritual Assemblies elected by members of the Bahá'í community. These local and national bodies are invested with the authority to direct the Bahá'í community's affairs and to uphold Bahá'í laws and standards. They are also responsible for the education, guidance, and protection of the community. The Administrative Order also comprises the institutions of the Hands of the Cause of God, the International Teaching Centre, and the Continental Boards of Counsellors and their Auxiliary Boards and assistants, who bear particular responsibility for the protection and propagation of the Faith and share with the Spiritual Assemblies the functions of educating, counselling, and advising members of the Bahá'í community. Other institutions of the Administrative Order include Huqúqu'lláh, the Bahá'í Fund, the Mashriqu'l-Adhkár, and the Nineteen Day Feast. The present Bahá'í Administrative Order is the precursor of the World Order of Bahá'u'lláh and is described by Shoghi Effendi as its "nucleus" and "pattern".
A city in European Turkey to which Bahá'u'lláh was exiled from Constantinople (Istanbul) in 1863 and where He lived for five years. While in Adrianople He proclaimed His message to the kings and rulers of the earth, and it was there He suffered the rebellion of Mrza Yahya. Among the many Tablets Bahá'u'lláh revealed in Adrianople are the Suriy-i-Muluk, the Lawh-i-Sultan, the Suriy-i-Ghusn, both the Arabic and the Persian Tablet of Ahmad and the prayers for fasting. Of the revelations He received in Adrianople Bahá'u'lláh has written: 'In those days the equivalent of all that hath been sent down aforetime unto the Prophets hath been revealed.'
"Twigs": the Báb's kindred; specifically, descendants of His three maternal uncles and His wife's two brothers.
The Bahá'í Dispensation is divided into three Ages: the Heroic, Formative, and Golden Ages. The Heroic Age, also called the Apostolic or Primitive Age, began in 1844 with the Declaration of the Báb and spanned the Ministries of the Báb (1844-53), Bahá'u'lláh (1852-92), and 'Abdu'l-Bahá (1892-1921). The transitional event most often identified with the end of the Heroic Age and the beginning of the Formative Age is the passing of 'Abdu'l-Bahá in 1921. The Formative Age, also known as the Age of Transition or the Iron Age, began in 1921 when Shoghi Effendi, according to instructions in 'Abdu'l-Bahá's Will and Testament, became the Guardian of the Cause of God and began to build Bahá'u'lláh's Administrative Order. The Formative Age is the second and current Age; it is to be followed by the third and final Age, the Golden Age destined to witness the proclamation of the Most Great Peace and the establishment of the Bahá'í World Commonwealth. "The emergence of a world community, the consciousness of world citizenship, the founding of a world civilization and culture," Shoghi Effendi wrote, " — all of which must synchronize with the initial stages in the unfoldment of the Golden Age of the Bahá'í Era — should, by their very nature, be regarded, as far as this planetary life is concerned, as the furthermost limits in the organization of human society, though man, as an individual, will, nay must indeed as a result of such a consummation, continue indefinitely to progress and develop." For a discussion of the significance of the Formative Age, see message no. 95; for an explanation of the epochs of the Formative Age, see message no. 451. See Dispensation, Epochs, Bahá'í World Commonwealth.
Singular "Ghusn." "Branches," the sons and male descendants of Bahá'u'lláh.
AHMAD, TABLET OF
Bahá'u'lláh revealed two Tablets known by this name. The most well known is the Arabic Tablet of Ahmad, which was revealed around 1865 for a faithful believer from Yazd. A simple, pure and truthful man, Ahmad travelled throughout Persia telling the Babis about the coming of Bahá'u'lláh. He would carry with him the original Tablet in Bahá'u'lláh's handwriting and in old age he 'spent most of his time reading the Holy Writings, especially his own Tablet which he chanted very often.' The Tablet of Ahmad is often read in times of trouble. In it, Bahá'u'lláh promises that 'Should one who is in affliction or grief read this Tablet with absolute sincerity, God will dispel his sadness, solve his difficulties and remove his afflictions.'
A second, more lengthy, Tablet of Ahmad was revealed by Bahá'u'lláh in Persian for Haji Mirza Ahmad of Kashan 'in order to guide him to the path of faith and belief'. However, Haji Mirza Ahmad was unfaithful to Bahá'u'lláh, who eventually expelled him from His presence. Almost two-thirds of this Tablet have been translated into English by Shoghi Effendi and appear in Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh.
A four-thousand-year-old seaport and prison city in northern Israel surrounded by fortress-like walls facing the sea. In the mid-1800s 'Akka became a penal colony to which the worst criminals of the Ottoman Empire were sent. In 1868 Bahá'u'lláh and His family and companions were banished to 'Akka by Sultan 'Abdu'l-'Aziz. Bahá'u'lláh was incarcerated within its barracks for two years, two months, and five days. Restrictions were gradually relaxed, and He lived in a series of houses within 'Akka until June 1877, when He moved outside the city walls to the Mansion of Mazra'ih. Bahá'u'lláh named it "the Most Great Prison".
The Arabic word for "loftiness" and the name of the Bahá'í month of fasting (2-20 March).
'ALÍ PASHA, MUHAMMAD AMIN (1815-71)
Grand Vizier of Turkey who helped bring about Bahá'u'lláh's banishment from Baghdad to Constantinople (Istanbul) and thence to Adrianople (Edirne) and eventually to 'Akka. Bahá'u'lláh addressed the Suriy-i-Ra'is and Lawh-i-Ra'is to 'Ali Pasha, rebuking him for his cruelty.
"God is Most Glorious": the Greatest Name, adopted as a greeting among Bahá'ís during the period of Bahá'u'lláh's exile in Adrianople (1863-68). See Abhá.
Nee Mary Maxwell (b. 1910), also called Ruhiyyih Rabbani; daughter of May Bolles Maxwell and Sutherland Maxwell of Montreal, and wife of Shoghi Effendi, the Guardian of the Bahá'í Faith. On 26 March 1952, succeeding her illustrious father, she was appointed a Hand of the Cause of God residing in the Holy Land. Ruhiyyih (meaning "spiritual") is a name given to her by Shoghi Effendi on their marriage. Khanum is a Persian title meaning "lady", "Madame", or "Mrs". The title Amatu'l-Bahá (meaning "Maidservant of Bahá") was used by the Guardian in a cable to a conference in Chicago in 1953. Rabbani is a surname given to Shoghi Effendi by 'Abdu'l-Bahá.
A translation of Jamal-i-Qadim, a name of God that is also used as a title of Bahá'u'lláh, Who is the latest Manifestation of God to humankind. One cannot always say categorically in any passage whether the reference is to God, to Bahá'u'lláh, or to both. See Bahá'u'lláh.
"Most Holy". See Kitáb-i-Aqdas.
The line of a curved path laid out by Shoghi Effendi on Mount Carmel, stretching across the Bahá'í properties near the Shrine of the Báb and centred on the Monument Gardens. On this Arc the seats of the "world-shaking, world-embracing, world-directing administrative institutions" of the World Order of Bahá'u'lláh are to be located (MA, pp. 32-33). Within the Arc are the resting-places of the Greatest Holy Leaf; her brother, the Purest Branch; and her mother, the Most Exalted Leaf. Edifices already constructed on the Arc include the International Bahá'í Archives building (completed in 1957), which is to be extended, and the Seat of the Universal House of Justice (completed in 1982 and occupied in 1983). Buildings yet to be completed include the International Bahá'í Library and the seats for the International Teaching Centre and the Centre for the Study of the Texts.
In the Tablet of Carmel, Bahá'u'lláh, addressing Carmel, proclaimed, 'Ere long will God sail His Ark upon Thee, and will manifest the people of Baha who have been mentioned in the Book of Names.' Shoghi Effendi interpreted this not only symbolically but literally to mean that the various institutions associated with the development of the Faith would actually have a physical presence on Mount Carmel.
Shoghi Effendi began the construction of the Administrative Centre of the Faith, to comprise five buildings in a harmonious style of architecture, standing on a far-flung Arc centering on the Monuments of the Greatest Holy Leaf, her Mother and Brother. The first of these five buildings, the International Archives, was completed in the beloved Guardian's lifetime. The second, the Seat of the Universal House of Justice, now stands at the apex of the Arc. In 1987 the Universal House of Justice called for the erection of the remaining three buildings: the Seat of the International Teaching Centre, the Centre for the Study of the Sacred Texts; and the International Bahá'í Library, along with an extension to the International Archives Building and the creation of nineteen monumental terraces surrounding the nearby Shrine of the Bab. The completion of the buildings on the Arc is linked to the beginning of the Lesser Peace. See Administrative Order, World Order of Bahá'u'lláh.
The word "ark" means, literally, a boat or ship, something that affords protection and safety, or a chest or box. It is used in two senses in the Bible. In the first sense it refers to the Ark of Noah, which He was bidden to build of gopher wood to preserve life during the Flood. In the second sense it refers to the Ark of the Covenant, the sacred chest representing to the Hebrews God's presence among them. It was constructed to hold the Tablets of the Law in Moses' time and was later placed in the Holy of Holies in the Temple of Jerusalem. The Ark, as a symbol of God's Law and the Divine Covenant that is the salvation of the people in every age and Dispensation, appears in various ways in the Bahá'í writings. Bahá'u'lláh refers to His faithful followers as "the denizens of the Crimson Ark"; He refers to the Ark of the Cause and also to the Ark of His Laws. A well-known passage in which this term is used appears in the Tablet of Carmel: "Ere long will God sail His Ark upon thee, and will manifest the people of Baha who have been mentioned in the Book of Names." Shoghi Effendi explains that the Ark in this passage refers to the Bahá'í Administrative Centre on Mount Carmel and that the dwellers of the Ark are the members of the Universal House of Justice.
Generally, the Bahá'í community, but more particularly the "heavenly armies" — "those souls", according to 'Abdu'l-Bahá, "who are entirely freed from the human world, transformed into celestial spirits and have become divine angels. Such souls are the rays of the Sun of Reality who will illumine all the continents" (TDP 8.2).
Navvab (an honorific implying "Grace" or "Highness"); the Most Exalted Leaf — wife of Bahá'u'lláh and mother of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, Bahiyyih Khanum, and Mirza Mihdi. She was married to Bahá'u'lláh in 1835, accompanied Him in His exiles, and died in 1886. Bahá'u'lláh named her His "perpetual consort in all the worlds of God". Her resting-place is in the Monument Gardens on Mount Carmel, next to the tomb of Mirza Mihdi and near that of the Greatest Holy Leaf. Author of the Bahá'í Revelation Bahá'u'lláh.
An institution established by Shoghi Effendi in 1954 to act as "deputies, assistants and advisers" to the Hands of the Cause of God as they carry out their twin duties of protection and propagation. With the formation of the Continental Boards of Counsellors in 1968, the Hands of the Cause of God were freed of responsibility for appointing, supervising, and co-ordinating the work of the Auxiliary Boards, and these functions were transferred by the Universal House of Justice to the Continental Boards of Counsellors. There are two Auxiliary Boards, one for protection and one for propagation; members serve on one of the two boards. In a letter dated 7 October 1973 (see message no. 137) the Universal House of Justice authorized the appointment of assistants to Auxiliary Board members.
AUXILIARY BOARD MEMBERS (ABMs)
Individuals appointed by the Universal House of Justice, on the advice of the Counselors, to advise, assist, and instruct Bahá'ís, Bahá'í communities, and Bahá'í institutions. They are appointed to five-year terms and serve in specific regions under the guidance of the Counselors. They in turn can appoint assistants.
The "Gate": title assumed by Siyyid 'Ali Muhammad (20 October 1819 — 9 July 1850) after declaring His mission in Shiraz in 1844. The Báb's station is twofold: He is a Manifestation of God and the Founder of the Bábi Faith, and He is the Herald of Bahá'u'lláh. A detailed, moving, and authoritative work titled The Dawn-Breakers (written by Nabil-i-Zarandi and translated by Shoghi Effendi) recounts the Báb's life and His followers' exploits. See Balyuzi, The Báb.
Followers of the Báb.
The "Bábi place or the centre of the Bábis": a house in Mashhad, Iran, that served as a residence for Mulla Husayn (the first of the Letters of the Living) and Quddus (also a Letter of the Living, whose rank was second only to that of the Báb) and as a place to which inquirers came to learn about the Bábi Faith. The Bahá'í historian Nabil writes that "A steady stream of visitors, whom the energy and zeal of Mulla Husayn had prepared for the acceptance of the Faith, poured into the presence of Quddus, acknowledged the claim of the Cause, and willingly enlisted under its banner. The all-observing vigilance with which Mulla Husayn laboured to diffuse the knowledge of the new Revelation, and the masterly manner in which Quddus edified its ever-increasing number of adherents, gave rise to a wave of enthusiasm which swept over the entire city of Mashhad, and the effects of which spread rapidly beyond the confines of Khurasan. The house of Bábiyyih was soon converted into a rallying centre for a multitude of devotees who were fired with an inflexible resolve to demonstrate, by every means in their power, the great inherent energies of their Faith." (DB, p. 267)
BADI' (Unique, wonderful)
The title given by Bahá'u'lláh to Aqa Buzurg-i-Níshápúrí, the 17-year-old youth who carried the Lawh-i-Sultan to Nasiri'd-Din Shah.
Though he had been known as a rebellious youth, Aqa Buzurg was touched when Nabil related to him verses in which Bahá'u'lláh described His sufferings. He walked from Mosul to 'Akka to see Bahá'u'lláh, arriving in 1869. His two audiences with Bahá'u'lláh completely transformed the young man: Though many had sought the honour of carrying Bahá'u'lláh's Tablet to the Shah, Bahá'u'lláh entrusted it to Aqa Buzurg, whom Bahá'u'lláh named Badí'. When Badí' returned to Persia and delivered the Tablet to the Shah, he was tortured by bastinado and branding and finally put to death. Bahá'u'lláh often extolled his heroism, stating in a Tablet that Badí's station was so high that it was beyond description and giving him the title Fakhru'sh-Shuhadá' (Pride of Martyrs). Shoghi Effendi named him an Apostle of Bahá'u'lláh.
The city in Iraq to which Bahá'u'lláh went when he was exiled from Persia in 1853 and where He lived until 1863, except for the period between 1854 and 1856 which He spent in the mountains of Sulaymaniyyih. It was just before His departure from Baghdad, during the period now celebrated as the Festival of Ridvan (21 April-2 May), that Bahá'u'lláh declared Himself to be the One promised by the Bab. Among the Tablets and Books revealed by Bahá'u'lláh in Baghdad are The Hidden Words, the Kitab-i-Iqan, The Seven Valleys, The Four Valleys and the Tablet of the Holy Mariner.
Bahá means "Glory." It is the Greatest Name of God and a title by which Bahá'u'lláh is designated. Also, the name of the first month of the Bahá'í year and of the first day of each Bahá'í month. See also Abhá, "Most Glorious".
Literally "one of Glory" or "follower of Bahá'u'lláh." Also used as an adjective. (Usage thus is similar to the word "Christian," which can refer either to the religion or an adherent of it.)
An international body made up of Bahá'í institutions, local and national, continental and international, all closely interrelated, and comprising the world-wide membership of the Bahá'í Faith. Since 1948 the Bahá'í International Community has been affiliated with the United Nations' Office of Public Information. In 1967 the Universal House of Justice assumed the function (shouldered for many years by the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the United States) of representing the Bahá'í International Community in its capacity as a non-governmental organization at the United Nations. In 1970 the Bahá'í International Community was granted consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), and in 1976 it became affiliated with the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF, formerly named the United Nations Children's Emergency Fund). It is also affiliated with the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP). In its work with the United Nations, the Bahá'í International Community participates in meetings of United Nations bodies concerned with such issues as human rights, social development, the status of women, the environment, human settlement, food, science and technology, population, the law of the sea, crime prevention, substance abuse, youth, children, the family, disarmament, and the United Nations University.
The world spiritual and administrative centres of the Bahá'í Faith located in the twin cities of 'Akka and Haifa in Israel. See Arc, Administrative Order.
The future Bahá'í community of nations, Shoghi Effendi explains, that will operate "solely in direct conformity with the laws and principles of Bahá'u'lláh" and will be animated wholly by His spirit. Its "supreme organ" will be the Universal House of Justice functioning in "the plenitude of its power". Its advent will "signalize the long-awaited advent of the Christ-promised Kingdom of God on earth." It will serve as both "the instrument and the guardian of the Most Great Peace." Within the Bahá'í World Commonwealth "all nations, races, creeds and classes" will be "closely and permanently united," and "the autonomy of its state members and the personal freedom and initiative of the individuals that compose them" will be "definitely and completely safeguarded. This commonwealth must, as far as we can visualize it, consist of a world legislature, whose members will, as the trustees of the whole of mankind, ultimately control the entire resources of all the component nations, and will enact such laws as shall be required to regulate the life, satisfy the needs and adjust the relationships of all races and peoples. A world executive, backed by an international Force, will carry out the decisions arrived at, and apply the laws enacted by, this world legislature, and will safeguard the organic unity of the whole commonwealth. A world tribunal will adjudicate and deliver its compulsory and final verdict in all and any disputes that may arise between the various elements constituting this universal system. … A world metropolis will act as the nerve centre …, the focus towards which the unifying forces of life will converge and from which its energizing influences will radiate." The world commonwealth will include a system of international communication; an international auxiliary language; a world script and literature; a uniform and universal system of currency, weights, and measures; and an integrated economic system with co-ordinated markets and regulated channels of distribution. See World Order of Bahá'u'lláh.
A term sometimes used for the Bahá'í Faith, it is avoided by English-speaking Bahá'ís, for it has come to be seen as disrespectful.
"The Glory of God": title of Mirza Husayn-'Ali Nuri (12 November 1817- 29 May 1892), Founder of the Bahá'í Faith. For accounts of His life, see Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By; Nabil, Dawn-Breakers; and Balyuzi, Bahá'u'lláh: The King of Glory. In spite of a life of imprisonment and persecution, Bahá'u'lláh wrote thousands of letters and other documents, about 15,000 of which are extant. Bahá'u'lláh is referred to by a variety of titles, including the Promised One of All Ages, the Blessed Beauty, the Blessed Perfection, the Morn of Truth, the Abha Luminary, the Dayspring of the Most Divine Essence, the Ancient Beauty, the Ancient Root, the Ancient of Days, the Author of the Bahá'í Revelation, the Mystic Dove, the Sovereign Revealer, the Judge, the Redeemer, the Divine Physician, the Prince of Peace, the Pen of Glory, the Pen of the Most High, the Supreme Pen, the Lord of Hosts, and the Lord of the Age. See Book of the Covenant, Hidden Words, Kitab-i-Aqdas.
(1846-1932) The Greatest Holy Leaf; the Most Exalted Leaf saintly daughter of Bahá'u'lláh and outstanding heroine of the Bahá'í Dispensation. Her death in 1932 marked the final end of the Heroic Age of the Bahá'í Faith, which had drawn to a close with the passing of 'Abdu'l-Bahá in 1921. A monument erected in her memory symbolizes the Bahá'í World Order; its location is Mount Carmel, within the Arc and in close proximity to the resting-places of her brother, Mirza Mihdi; her mother, Asiyih Khanum; and the wife of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, Munirih Khanum. Her station as "foremost woman of the Bahá'í Dispensation" and her rank among women are paralleled only by such heroines of previous Dispensations as Sarah, Asiyih, the Virgin Mary; Fatimih, and Tahirih. For a compilation of Bahá'í Writings about Bahiyyih Khanum and for some of her own letters, see Bahiyyih Khanum: The Greatest Holy Leaf (1982).
("Delight, gladness, joy") The site on the plain of 'Akka which gives its name to the Mansion which was the last residence of Bahá'u'lláh, who lived there from 1880 until His ascension in 1892. Originally built by 'Abdu'llah Pasha in 1821, it was later restored and expanded by 'Udí Khammar, who completed it in 1870. The Mansion of Bahjí became empty in 1879 when the Khammar family fled an epidemic disease, probably bubonic plague. Bahá'u'lláh took up residence in the Mansion in 1879 and while living there revealed His final major volume, Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, as well as the Tablets of Ishraqat, Bisharat, Tarazat, Tajállíyat, Kalimat-i-Firdawsíyyih, Lawh-i-Aqdas, Lawh-i-Dunya, and Lawh-i-Maqsud, writings which Shoghi Effendi described as 'among the choicest fruits which His mind has yielded [and which] mark the consummation of His forty-year-long ministry'.
It was in the Mansion of Bahjí in 1890 that Bahá'u'lláh received the Cambridge orientalist E. G. Browne. On 29 May 1892 Bahá'u'lláh passed away and was interred in the small house adjacent to the Mansion. This small house became His Shrine, the holiest spot on earth, and the Qiblih of the Baha' Faith.
However, in the years that followed, the Mansion was occupied by Covenant-breakers and allowed to decay. In 1929 Shoghi Effendi regained custody of the building and started the work of restoration. These extensive gardens created by Shoghi Effendi were expanded by the Universal House of Justice. The Shrine of Bahá'u'lláh at Bahji is the Qiblih of the Bahá'í world.
In the early 1950s, with the acquisition of surrounding land, Shoghi Effendi began a programme of beautification including the setting out of extensive gardens surrounding the Mansion. The northwestern quadrant which encloses the Shrine of Bahá'u'lláh itself is called the Haram-i-Aqdas (Most Holy Sanctuary or Precincts).
The Bayán ("Exposition, explanation, lucidity, eloquence, utterance") is the title given by The Bab to two of His major works, one in Persian, the other in Arabic, His Books of Laws. It is also used sometimes to denote the entire body of His Writings. The Persian Bayán is the major doctrinal work and principal repository of the laws ordained by the Báb. The Arabic Bayán is parallel in content but smaller and less weighty. References in the annotations to subjects found in both the Persian Bayán and the Arabic Bayán are identified by use of the term "Bayán" without further qualification.
Bahá'í Era: denotes the nineteen-month Badi' calendar, which is reckoned from 21 March 1844, the year of the Báb's declaration of His mission.
A Tablet of Bahá'u'lláh revealed in Akka, composed in the 1870s or 1880s, containing fifteen passages on subjects including the abolition of ordinances and practices of the past such as holy war, monastic seclusion, and the confession of sins; statements on the establishment of a universal auxiliary language and the Lesser Peace; work as worship; the role of the House of Justice; and the 'majesty of kingship'.
A translation of Jamal-i-Mubarak, a title of Bahá'u'lláh. See Bahá'u'lláh.
See Mount Carmel.
A title of 'Abdu'l-Bahá referring to His appointment by Bahá'u'lláh as the successor to whom all must turn after Bahá'u'lláh's passing. See Covenant, Book of the Covenant.
A collective reference to Bahá'u'lláh, the Founder of the Bahá'í Faith; the Báb, Forerunner of Bahá'u'lláh and Founder of the Bábi Faith; and 'Abdu'l-Bahá, authorized Interpreter of the Bahá'í Writings.
The Bahá'í community. See Greatest Name.
The consultative meetings of the entire body of the Hands of the Cause of God. Following Shoghi Effendi's death in 1957, the meetings were held over a period of several days each autumn from 1957 through 1962, when the Hands were responsible for maintaining the unity of the Bahá'í community and for completing the goals of the Ten Year World Crusade. Conclaves continued to be held for a number of years after the election of the Universal House of Justice and were the occasion of consultations between the House of Justice and the body of the Hands on many matters of great significance for the Bahá'í Faith.
The company of holy souls of the spiritual world.
A document adopted by the Universal House of Justice on 26 November 1972. It Consists of two parts: the Declaration of Trust, which sets forth the origins and duties of the Universal House of Justice, and the By-Laws, which specify the terms under which the Universal House of Justice operates and define its relationship to other institutions of the Bahá'í Administrative Order.
In Bahá'í usage, a technical term referring to the process of collective decision-making. The aim of Bahá'í consultation is to arrive at the best solution or to uncover the truth of a matter. Among the requisites for consultation that are set out in the Bahá'í Writings are love, harmony, purity of motive, humility, lowliness, patience, and long-suffering. Individuals not only have the right to express their views, but they are expected to express them fully and with the utmost devotion, courtesy, dignity, care, and moderation. If unanimity is not achieved, decisions are arrived at by majority vote. Once a decision is reached, all parties, having had the opportunity to express their views fully, are to work together wholeheartedly to implement it. If the decision is wrong, 'Abdu'l-Bahá says, through unity the truth will become evident and "the wrong made right".
An institution of the Bahá'í Administrative Order established by the Universal House of Justice in 1968 to extend into the future the functions of protection and propagation of the Faith assigned to the Hands of the Cause of God by 'Abdu'l-Bahá in His Will and Testament. Its members are appointed to five- year terms by the Universal House of Justice and serve in five zones — Africa, the Americas, Asia, Australasia, and Europe. The International Teaching Centre co- ordinates the work of the Continental Boards of Counsellors, who are assisted in their work by Auxiliary Board members, whom they appoint and supervise. See Auxiliary Boards, Hands of the Cause of God, International Teaching Centre.
Responsible for gathering and supplying information for and about pioneers and international travelling teachers. Their work complements the functions of the Continental Boards of Counsellors and National Spiritual Assemblies. There are five such committees: one each for Africa, the Americas, Asia, Australasia, and Europe. Members are appointed by the Universal House of Justice; their work is directed by the International Teaching Centre.
An individual appointed by the Universal House of Justice to advise, assist, and instruct Bahá'ís, Bahá'í communities, and Bahá'í institutions. Counselors have no formal authority but are highly respected. They are appointed to five-year terms. They oversee the activities of the Auxiliary Board members, who have similar responsibilities, but for smaller regions.
Generally, an agreement or contract between two or more people, usually formal, solemn, and binding. The Universal House of Justice explains, in a letter dated 23 March 1975, that a religious covenant is "a binding agreement between God and man, whereby God requires of man certain behaviour in return for which He guarantees certain blessings, or whereby He gives man certain bounties in return for which He takes from those who accept them an undertaking to behave in a certain way." The Universal House of Justice also explains that there are two types of religious covenant: "There is … the Greater Covenant which every Manifestation of God makes with His followers, promising that in the fullness of time a new Manifestation will be sent, and taking from them the undertaking to accept Him when this occurs. There is also the Lesser Covenant that a Manifestation of God makes with His followers that they will accept His appointed successor after Him. If they do so, the Faith can remain united and pure. If not, the Faith becomes divided and its force spent." In the Bahá'í Dispensation the Greater Covenant refers to the renewal of God's ancient Covenant through the appearance of the twin Manifestations of God, the Báb and Bahá'u'lláh, and the promise of another Manifestation to come in the future after the passage of at least one thousand years. The Lesser Covenant, in this case, refers to Bahá'u'lláh's Covenant with His followers, which establishes 'Abdu'l-Bahá as the Centre of the Covenant. It confers upon 'Abdu'l-Bahá the authority to interpret Bahá'u'lláh's Writings in order "to perpetuate the influence" of the Faith and to "insure its integrity, safeguard it from schism, and stimulate its world-wide expansion." The Lesser Covenant also establishes the Guardianship and the Universal House of Justice as the twin successors of Bahá'u'lláh and 'Abdu'l-Bahá.
COVENANT OF BAHA'U'LLAH
The divinely-ordained 'instrument' provided by Bahá'u'lláh 'to direct and canalize these forces let loose by this Heaven-sent process [the Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh], and to ensure their harmonious and continuous operation after His ascension.' In His Will and Testament, the Kitab-i-'Ahdí (The Book of My Covenant), Bahá'u'lláh clearly appointed 'Abdu'l-Bahá as His successor, identifying Him as 'Him Whom God hath purposed', to whom all should turn after Bahá'u'lláh's passing. 'Abdu'l-Bahá is the Centre of the Covenant.
The intention of the Covenant is the protection of the unity of the Baha' Faith: 'The purpose of the Blessed Beauty in entering into this Covenant and Testament was to gather all existent beings around one point so that the thoughtless souls, who in every cycle and generation have been the cause of dissension, may not undermine the Cause.'
'Abdu'l-Bahá has called the appointment of the Centre of the Covenant 'the most great characteristic of the revelation of Bahá'u'lláh.' 'By this appointment and provision He has safeguarded and protected the religion of God against differences and schisms, making it impossible for anyone to create a new sect or faction of belief. To ensure unity and agreement He has entered into a Covenant with all the people of the world, including the interpreter and explainer of His teachings, so that no one may interpret or explain the religion of God according to his own view or opinion and thus create a sect founded upon his individual understanding of the divine Words.'
The Covenant of Bahá'u'lláh is unique in religious history: 'So firm and mighty is this Covenant that from the beginning of time until the present day no religious Dispensation hath produced its like.'
Further, the Covenant provides the basis for the primary social teaching of the Baha' Revelation: 'It is indubitably clear that the pivot of the oneness of mankind is nothing else but the power of the Covenant.'
A Bahá'í who attempts to disrupt the unity of the Faith by defying and opposing the authority of Bahá'u'lláh as the Manifestation of God for this Age, or His appointed successor, 'Abdu'l-Bahá, or after Him, the Guardian and the Universal House of Justice. Bahá'ís who continue, despite remonstrances, to violate the Covenant are expelled from the Faith by the Universal House of Justice. This provision preserves the unity of the Faith, which is essential to achieving its cardinal purpose of uniting humankind. It also preserves the purity of Bahá'u'lláh's teachings from the disruptive influence of egoistic individuals who, in past Dispensations, have been responsible for dividing every religion into sects, disrupting its mission, and frustrating to a large degree the intention of its Founder. See Covenant.
Irán, the homeland of the Bábi and Bahá'í Faiths and of Bahá'u'lláh, the Báb, and 'Abdu'l-Bahá.
The international teaching plan inaugurated by Shoghi Effendi in 1953 and completed in 1963, some six years after his death. It was the first global plan in which all national Bahá'í communities pursued their respective goals in one co-ordinated effort. It culminated with the first election of the Universal House of Justice at Ridvan 1963.
A unit of time comprising the Dispensations of numerous consecutive Manifestations of God. For example, the Adamic, or Prophetic, Cycle began with Adam and ended with the Dispensation of Muhammad. The Bahá'í Cycle began with the Báb and is to last at least five hundred thousand years.
The prophecy contained in Daniel 12:12: "Blessed is he that waiteth, and cometh to the thousand three hundred and five and thirty days." 'Abdu'l- Baha comments in a Tablet to a Kurdish Bahá'í, "Now concerning the verse in Daniel, the interpretation whereof thou didst ask. … These days must be reckoned as solar and not lunar years. For according to this calculation a century will have elapsed from the dawn of the Sun of Truth, then will the teachings of God be firmly established upon the earth, and the Divine Light shall flood the world from the East even unto the West. Then, on this day, will the faithful rejoice!" 'Abdu'l-Bahá further explains in the same Tablet that the 1,335 years must be reckoned from AD 622, the year of Muhammad's flight from Mecca to Medina. Shoghi Effendi associates Daniel's reference to the 1,335 days and 'Abdu'l-Bahá's statements about the prophecy with the centenary of Bahá'u'lláh's declaration of His mission in 1863 and with the world-wide triumph of the Faith. He stressed that the prophecy refers to occurrences within the Bahá'í community, rather than to events in the outside world. While Shoghi Effendi clearly allied the Faith's triumph with the successful completion of the third teaching plan to be undertaken by the Bahá'ís, in his letters and in those written on his behalf, four specific dates are mentioned as marking the fulfilment of Daniel's prophecy: 1953, 1957, 1960, and 1963.
Regarding the year 1960 (derived by a lunar reckoning), Shoghi Effendi anticipated, in God Passes By, p. 151, and in a number of his letters, the successful completion of a third Seven Year Plan that was to be inaugurated. Had there been a third Seven Year Plan, it would have concluded in 1960, one hundred lunar years after Bahá'u'lláh's declaration. When the Ten Year Crusade (1953-63) was announced in 1952, Shoghi Effendi linked its completion with the fulfilment of Daniel's prophecy. There are also several references in letters written on Shoghi Effendi's behalf that give 1957 as the date of the prophecy's fulfilment. In still other letters Shoghi Effendi allies the "hundred lunar years" after Bahá'u'lláh's declaration with the year 1953, although the significance of this hundred years is unclear. Thus it seems the prophecy is not fulfilled by a single date but, rather, by a process that extended over a period of time. A letter dated 7 March 1955 written on Shoghi Effendi's behalf says, "In the Ten Year Crusade, we are actually fulfilling the prophecy of Daniel, because with the completion of the Ten Year Crusade in 1963 we will have established the Faith in every part of the globe." Thus the fulfilment of the prophecy coincided with the period of the Ten Year Crusade, a span of time that included 1953, 1957, 1960, and 1963.
The Bábis and early Bahá'ís, many of whom gave their lives as martyrs.
An account of the life of the Báb and the development of the Bábí religion by Nabíl-i-Zarandí, a companion of Bahá'u'lláh. It was edited and translated into English by Shoghi Effendi in 1932.
DAWNING PLACE OF REVELATION
A title of Bahá'u'lláh, or of any Manifestation of God.
DAY OF THE COVENANT
26 November, the day 'Abdu'l-Bahá selected for commemorating the inauguration of Bahá'u'lláh's Covenant. The Bahá'ís wished to celebrate 'Abdu'l-Bahá's birthday, but He did not want this because it coincides with the anniversary of the Declaration of the Báb (23 May), when all attention should be given to that sacred event. He gave them instead the Day of the Covenant to celebrate, choosing a date that is six Gregorian months away from the commemoration of Bahá'u'lláh's Ascension. See Covenant.
DAY OF GOD
An expression used variously, according to context, to refer to the appearance of a Manifestation of God , to the duration of His life on earth, or to the duration of His Dispensation. It is also used to refer specifically to the advent of Bahá'u'lláh.
DAY OF JUDGEMENT
The time of the appearance of the Manifestation of God, when the true character of souls is judged according to their response to His Revelation. Also known as the Day of Resurrection.
DAYSPRING OF DIVINE GUIDANCE
A meeting held to discuss a Bahá'í book or teaching at an advanced level.
The period of time during which the laws and teachings of a Prophet of God have spiritual authority. For example, the Dispensation of Jesus Christ lasted until the beginning of the Islamic Dispensation, usually fixed at the year AD 622, the year Muhammad emigrated from Mecca to Medina. The Islamic Dispensation lasted until the advent of the Báb in 1844. The Dispensation of the Báb ended when Bahá'u'lláh experienced the intimation of His mission in the Siyah-Chal, the subterranean dungeon in Tihran in which He was imprisoned between August and December 1852. The Dispensation of Bahá'u'lláh will last until the advent of the next Manifestation of God, which Bahá'u'lláh asserts will occur in no less than one thousand years.
The Plan for the dissemination of the Faith of Bahá'u'lláh throughout the world, conceived by 'Abdu'l-Bahá and entrusted to the Bahá'ís of North America in fourteen letters called the Tablets of the Divine Plan. The Divine Plan was implemented by Shoghi Effendi and is pursued today under the guidance of the Universal House of Justice. Teaching Plans undertaken within the framework of the Divine Plan include the first Seven Year Plan (1937-44); the second Seven Year Plan (1946-53) pursued at first by the Bahá'ís of the United States and Canada and extended by supplementary plans adopted with the approval or at the behest of Shoghi Effendi by the British Isles, Egypt and the Sudan, Germany, India, Iran, and 'Iraq; and the Ten Year World Crusade (1953- 63), all of which were inaugurated by Shoghi Effendi, and the Nine, Five, Seven, Six, Three, and Four Year Plans launched by the Universal House of Justice. The Divine Plan is divided into epochs. The first epoch included the years 1937-63. We continue to be in the second epoch. The epochs of the Divine Plan are different from those of the Formative Age. See Crusade, Ten Year World, Epochs, Plans, Tablets of the Divine Plan.
See Sacred Threshold.
Elections conducted according to Bahá'í principles to select individuals to serve as members of Local and National Spiritual Assemblies and the Universal House of Justice. Elections for Local Spiritual Assemblies are generally held on 21 April, the first day of the Ridvan Festival (21 April-2 May), but in certain circumstances can be held on any day during Ridvan. Elections for National Spiritual Assemblies are held annually during Ridvan. Elections for the Universal House of Justice are held every five years. All adult members in good standing in a Bahá'í community may vote for the members of their Local Spiritual Assembly; Bahá'ís in an electoral unit elect one or more delegates who, in turn, elect the members of the National Spiritual Assembly at the national convention. The members of the National Spiritual Assemblies elect the members of the Universal House of Justice at an international convention. Shoghi Effendi advises electors "to consider without the least trace of passion and prejudice, and irrespective of any material consideration, the names of only those who can best combine the necessary qualities of unquestioned loyalty, of selfless devotion, of a well-trained mind, of recognized ability and mature experience." There are no nominations. Campaigning and electioneering are forbidden. Ballots are cast in a prayerful atmosphere, and the nine persons receiving the most votes are considered chosen by God. Members of a minority race or group are given preference when tied for the ninth position; otherwise, ballots are cast to break the tie. A unique and significant aspect of all Bahá'í elections is the fact that voters elect with the understanding that they are free to choose whomever their consciences prompt them to select, and they freely accept the authority of the outcome.
A formal or elegant letter or treatise; a composition in the form of a letter. In Bahá'í usage it refers to certain Writings of Bahá'u'lláh — for example, Epistle to the Son of the Wolf.
EPISTLE TO THE SON OF THE WOLF (Lawh-i-Ibn-i-Dhib)
The last volume revealed by Baha'ullah, in 1891 in Bahji. It was addressed to Shaykh Muhammed-Taqi, the son of an enemy of the Bahá'í Faith whom Bahá'u'lláh had named 'The Wolf'. In this Epistle, Baha'ullah calls upon Shaykh Muhammad-Taqi to repent his evil deeds, quotes selected passages from His own writings and describes the deeds of the Covenant-breakers in Constantinople. See Son of the Wolf.
Major units of time used to mark the unfoldment of the Divine Plan and the Formative Age. The first epoch of the Divine Plan included the years 1937-63, for whose execution the machinery of the Administrative Order was erected (1921-37) and during which the Faith was expanded throughout the Western Hemisphere (1937- 1944/46) and then extended beyond the Western Hemisphere and Europe to the rest of the world. We are now in the second epoch of the Divine Plan. The first epoch of the Formative Age (1921-46) began with the passing of 'Abdu'l- Baha in 1921 and ended with the conclusion of the first Seven Year Plan pursued by the Bahá'ís of North America under Shoghi Effendi's direction. The second epoch of the Formative Age (1946-63) began with the launching of the second Seven Year Plan and the adoption of similar plans by other national communities throughout the Bahá'í world and ended with the conclusion of the Ten Year Crusade and the election of the Universal House of Justice. The third epoch of the Formative Age (1963-86) included the Nine, Five, and Seven Year Plans formulated by the Universal House of Justice. The fourth and current epoch of the Formative Age began in 1986. Its inception was marked by the participation of National Spiritual Assemblies in formulating their own goals for the Six Year Plan (1986-92). For more information on the epochs of the Formative Age, see message no. 451. See Ages.
A nineteen-day period (2-21 March, the Bahá'í month of 'Ala', or Loftiness) of spiritual renewal and development during which Bahá'ís abstain from food and drink from sunrise to sunset. A symbol of self-restraint, the Fast is a time of meditation, prayer, and spiritual recuperation and readjustment.
A crucial element in Bahá'í devotional life, it involves abstaining from all eating, drinking, and smoking from sunrise to sunset from 2 March to 20 March inclusive. Exempt from the fast are children under the age of 15; senior citizens over the age of 70; persons who are sick, traveling, or performing heavy labor; and women who are pregnant, menstruating, or nursing.
See Nineteen Day Feast.
An informal Bahá'í gathering held for the purpose of discussing the Bahá'í Faith and sharing its teachings. A meeting, usually held in a person's home, for the purpose of discussing the Bahá'í Faith at an introductory level, it is attended by Bahá'ís and non-Bahá'ís and usually includes hospitality.
FOLLOWERS OF THE GREATEST NAME
Bahá'ís; followers of Bahá'u'lláh. See Greatest Name.
The institution of the Bahá'í Fund, of which there are four main funds, operates on the international, continental, national, and local levels. The Bahá'í International Fund is administered by the Universal House of Justice and is used to support the work of the Faith at the Bahá'í World Centre and to sustain national communities unable to meet their own expenses. The International Deputization Fund, a subsidiary of the Bahá'í International Fund, supports the work of pioneers and travelling teachers and is administered by the International Teaching Centre. The Persian Relief Fund, originally established by the National Spiritual Assembly of Iran to assist victims of persecution by the Islamic Republic, is also a subsidiary of the Bahá'í International Fund and is administered by the Universal House of Justice.
The Continental Bahá'í Fund supports the work of the Continental Boards of Counsellors and the work of their Auxiliary Boards. Each National Spiritual Assembly and Local Spiritual Assembly administers its own National and Local Fund, respectively.
The funds of the Bahá'í Faith are managed according to principles laid down by Bahá'u'lláh, 'Abdu'l-Bahá, and Shoghi Effendi. Foremost among the principles are:
(1) Except for the portion of the Bahá'í Funds devoted exclusively to charitable, philanthropic, or humanitarian purposes, contributions are accepted only from those who have identified themselves with the Bahá'í Faith and are regarded as its avowed and unreserved supporters.
(2) Contributing to the Funds is both a spiritual privilege and a responsibility.
(3) All contributions to the Bahá'í Funds are voluntary.
(4) The degree of sacrifice and love of the contributor is more important than the amount given.
(5) Appeals for donations must be dignified and general in character.
(6) Confidentiality of contributions is to be strictly preserved.
(7) Receipts are to be issued.
Shoghi Effendi referred to the Funds as "the life-blood" of the Bahá'í institutions. See also Huqúqu'lláh.
GREATEST HOLY LEAF
See Bahiyyih Khanum.
The name Bahá'u'lláh ("the Glory of God") and its derivatives, such as Alláh-u-Abhá ("God is Most Glorious"), Bahá ("glory", "splendour", or "light"), and Ya Bahá'u'l-Abhá ("O Thou the Glory of the Most Glorious!"). Also referred to as the Most Great Name.
Some Islamic popular traditions hold that God has one hundred names or attributes of God; ninety-nine are known; and that the hundredth or Greatest Name would be revealed on the Day of Judgment. Bahá'u'lláh maintained that the Greatest Name was bahá, "glory," and its superlative abhá, "most glorious." Bahá'ís use various forms of the two as a prayer and a greeting.
The institution, anticipated by Bahá'u'lláh in the Kitab-i-Aqdas and established by 'Abdu'l-Bahá in His Will and Testament, to which Shoghi Effendi was appointed. Shoghi Effendi explains that the Guardianship and the Universal House of Justice constitute the twin pillars of the World Order of Bahá'u'lláh and are the twin successors of Bahá'u'lláh and 'Abdu'l-Bahá. The Guardian's chief functions are to interpret the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh, the Báb, and 'Abdu'l-Bahá and to be the permanent head of the Universal House of Justice. Shoghi Effendi was the first and only Guardian of the Bahá'í Faith.
Town in the north of Israel on a large bay, four times visited by Bahá'u'lláh. The area of Haifa was assigned by Jacob and Joshua to the Tribe of Zebulon. In the late 1869s and 1870s a German sect from Wurttemberg, the Temple Society, settled in Haifa. The town continued to expand in the twentieth century with the opening of a railroad between Haifa and Damascus and the Hijaz in 1905 coupled with the decision of the British to make Haifa their principal Middle Eastern naval and oil port. Today Haifa is a major commercial city and port.
Bahá'u'lláh first landed in Haifa on 31 August 1868 after His journey of eleven days from Gallipoli by steamer. He and His companions were transferred from the steamer to a sailing vessel which carried them to 'Akka. Bahá'u'lláh visited Haifa three more times: in August 1883, in April 1890, and in the summer of 1891 for about three months. It was during this last visit that He revealed the Tablet of Carmel and pointed out to 'Abdu'l-Bahá 'the site which was to serve as the permanent resting-place of the Bab, and on which a befitting mausoleum was later to be erected'.
'Abdu'l-Bahá made this prophecy about Haifa: 'In the future the distance between 'Akka and Haifa will be built up, and the two cities will join and clasp hands, becoming the two terminal sections of one mighty metropolis ... The mountain and the plain will be dotted with the most modern buildings and palaces. Industries will be established and various institutions of philanthropic nature will be founded. The flowers of civilization and culture from all nations will be brought here to blend their fragrances together and blaze the way for the brotherhood of man. Wonderful gardens, orchards, groves and parks will be laid out on all sides. At night the great city will be lighted by electricity. The entire harbour from 'Akka to Haifa will be one path of illumination. Powerful searchlights will be placed on both sides of Mount Carmel to guide the steamers. Mount Carmel itself, from top to bottom, will be submerged in a sea of lights. A person standing on the summit of Mount Carmel, and the passengers of the steamers coming to it, will look upon the most sublime and majestic spectacle of the whole world.'
'Abdu'l-Bahá built the Shrine of the Bab on the site pointed out to Him by Bahá'u'lláh, and the remains of the Bab were interred there on Naw-Ruz 1909. Shoghi Effendi later embellished the shrine with the golden-domed superstructure. Shoghi Effendi also began the construction of the arc, around which the administrative offices of the Faith are being built. Haifa thus serves both as a spiritual centre and point of pilgrimage and as the international administrative centre of the Baha'í Faith.
Eminent Bahá'ís appointed by Bahá'u'lláh to stimulate the propagation and ensure the protection of the Faith. 'Abdu'l-Bahá in His Will and Testament conferred authority on the Guardian to appoint Hands of the Cause and specified their duties. Shoghi Effendi, in a message dated October 1957 to the Bahá'í world, called the Hands of the Cause of God "the Chief Stewards of Bahá'u'lláh's embryonic World Commonwealth." After his death on 4 November 1957 the Hands of the Cause of God assumed responsibility for preserving the unity of the Bahá'í Faith and for guiding the Bahá'í world community to the victorious completion of the Ten Year World Crusade planned by Shoghi Effendi. They also called for the election of the Universal House of Justice in 1963 and requested the friends not to elect them, leaving them free to discharge their own specific responsibilities. Following the formation of the Universal House of Justice, five Hands of the Cause of God were selected by fellow Hands of the Cause to serve at the Bahá'í World Centre, while the rest continued their continental responsibilities, which included overseeing the work of the Auxiliary Board members. Finding itself unable to appoint or legislate in order to appoint additional Hands of the Cause of God, the Universal House of Justice, in a cable dated 21 June 1968 and a letter dated 24 June 1968, announced the establishment of the institution of the Continental Boards of Counsellors to extend the functions of the Hands of the Cause of God into the future. The Hands of the Cause of God were then freed of responsibility for directing the work of Auxiliary Board members and were all given world-wide responsibilities. See also Auxiliary Boards; Conclave; Continental Boards of Counsellors; International Teaching Centre.
"The Most Holy Court": a designation Shoghi Effendi gave to the north-western quadrant of the gardens surrounding the Shrine of Bahá'u'lláh in Bahji. It lies immediately outside the entrance to Bahá'u'lláh's tomb.
"The Sacred Fold"; official title designating the headquarters of Bahá'í administrative activity in a particular country or region.
Bahá'u'lláh's most important ethical work. Revealed circa 1858. It consists of Arabic and Persian halves with seventy-one and eighty-two paragraph-sized sections respectively. Described by Shoghi Effendi as a "marvellous collection of gem-like utterances … with which Bahá'u'lláh was inspired, as He paced, wrapped in His meditations, the banks of the Tigris." Originally designated "The Hidden Book of Fatimih", the title of this work is an allusion to the Muslim tradition that the Angel Gabriel revealed a Book to Fatimih to console her following the death of the Prophet Muhammad, her Father, and that this Book remained hidden in the spiritual worlds thereafter. The 'Hidden Book of Fatimih' is thought to be in the possession of the awaited Qá'im, and by revealing it Bahá'u'lláh was reinforcing his claim to be the Qa'im.
A day commemorating a significant Bahá'í anniversary or feast. The nine Bahá'í holy days on which work should be suspended include:
The Feast of Naw-Ruz (New Year), 21 March
The first day of Ridvan, 21 April
The ninth day of Ridvan, 29 April
The twelfth day of Ridvan, 2 May
The anniversary of the Declaration of the Báb, 23 May
The anniversary of the Ascension of Bahá'u'lláh, 29 May
The anniversary of the Martyrdom of the Báb, 9 July
The anniversary of the Birth of the Báb, 20 October
The anniversary of the Birth of Bahá'u'lláh, 12 November
The Day of the Covenant, 26 November, and the Ascension of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, 28 November, are commemorated annually but are not days on which work is to be suspended.
HOLY MARINER, TABLET OF THE
A Tablet revealed by Bahá'u'lláh on the fifth day after Naw-Ruz 1863, not long before leaving Baghdad for Constantinople. In it Bahá'u'lláh prophesied 'the severe afflictions' that were to befall Him. Its 'gloomy prognostications ... aroused the grave apprehensions of His Companions ...': 'Oceans of sorrow surged in the hearts of the listeners when the Tablet of the Holy Mariner was read aloud to them.'
Sites in Iran, 'Iraq, Turkey, and Israel that are associated with significant events in the lives of Bahá'u'lláh, the Báb, and 'Abdu'l-Bahá. See Shrines.
'Abdu'l-Bahá explains that "The blessed Person of the Promised One [Bahá'u'lláh] is interpreted in the Holy Book as the Lord of Hosts-the heavenly armies. By heavenly armies those souls are intended who are entirely freed from the human world, transformed into celestial spirits and have become divine angels. Such souls are the rays of the Sun of Reality who will illumine all the continents" (TDP 8.2).
See Maid of Heaven.
HOUSE OF 'ABDU'LLÁH PASHA
The house in 'Akka that 'Abdu'l-Bahá rented in 1896 and that served as His residence until He moved to Haifa in 1910. For a discussion of the historical significance of the House, see message no. 157.
HOUSE OF JUSTICE
The governing council of a local or national Bahá'í community in the future, and of the Bahá'í world today. Local and national houses of justice are temporarily styled "spiritual assemblies."
HOUSES OF WORSHIP
A seat or covered pavilion accommodating two persons, carried by a mule, camel or other animal.
Bahá'u'lláh travelled in a howdah for much of the caravan journey of His exile from Baghdad to Constantinople. On the last day of the ten-day land journey, as they approached the Black Sea, Mírza Aqa Jan asked Bahá'u'lláh to reveal a Tablet on the occasion. From inside His howdah, Bahá'u'lláh revealed the Tablet known as the Tablet of the Howdah. In it He warned of tests ahead, which would come from Mírza Yahya.
"The Right of God": one of the fundamental Bahá'í ordinances of the Bahá'í Faith, it is a great law and a sacred institution laid down by Bahá'u'lláh in the Kitab-i-Aqdas. It is one of the key instruments for constructing the foundation and supporting the structure of the World Order of Bahá'u'lláh. Its far-reaching ramifications extend from enabling individuals to express their devotion to God in a private act of conscience that attracts divine blessings and bounties for the individual, promotes the common good, and directly connects individuals with the Central Institution of the Faith, to buttressing the authority and extending the activity of the Head of the Faith. The law prescribes that each Bahá'í shall pay a certain portion of his accumulated savings after the deduction of all expenses and of certain exempt properties such as one's residence. These payments provide a fund at the disposition of the Head of the Faith for carrying out beneficent activities. Huqúqu'lláh is administered by the Universal House of Justice, and payments are made to trustees appointed by the Universal House of Justice in every country or region. In providing a regular and systematic source of revenue for the Central Institution of the Cause, Bahá'u'lláh has assured the means for the independence and decisive functioning of the World Centre of His Faith. The fundamentals of the law of Huqúqu'lláh are promulgated in the Kitáb-i-Aqdas. Further elaborations of its features are found in other Writings of Bahá'u'lláh and in those of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, Shoghi Effendi, and the Universal House of Justice. The law was codified in 1987 and made universally applicable as of Ridvan 1992 to all who profess belief in Bahá'u'lláh.
INTERNATIONAL BAHÁ'Í ARCHIVES
An institution at the Bahá'í World Centre that preserves the writings and sacred relics of the Central Figures of the Faith and Shoghi Effendi as well as other historical documents and items. The International Archives Building, completed in 1957, was the first of five buildings on the Arc on Mount Carmel to be constructed.
INTERNATIONAL BAHÁ'Í CONVENTION
An event held every five years in Haifa, Israel, at which members of National Spiritual Assemblies from around the world gather to elect the members of the Universal House of Justice. International Bahá'í Council A nine-member body that served as the precursor of the Universal House of Justice and was first appointed by Shoghi Effendi in the closing months of 1950 and announced to the Bahá'í world in 1951. After the Guardian's passing, it was elected in 1961 by members of National Spiritual Assemblies. Its threefold function, assigned by Shoghi Effendi, was to forge links with the state of Israel, to assist the Guardian in erecting the superstructure of the Shrine of the Báb, and to negotiate with civil authorities about the application of the Bahá'í laws of personal status for Bahá'ís residing in the Holy Land. After Shoghi Effendi's passing, the International Bahá'í Council, at the request of the Hands of the Cause of God, took responsibility for helping to maintain the World Centre properties and helping to establish the Universal House of Justice. Those whom Shoghi Effendi appointed to the International Bahá'í Council were Amatu'l-Bahá Ruhiyyih Khanum, Charles Mason Remey, Amelia Collins, Ugo Giachery, and Leroy Ioas, who were all subsequently appointed Hands of the Cause of God, as well as Jessie Revell, Ethel Revell, Lutfu'llah Hakim, and Sylvia Ioas. Members elected in 1961 by the National Spiritual Assemblies were Jessie Revell, 'Ali Nakhjavani, Lutfu'llah Hakim, Ethel Revell, Charles Wolcott, Sylvia Ioas, Mildred Mottahedeh, Ian Semple, and Borrah Kavelin. The International Bahá'í Council ceased to exist upon the election of the Universal House of Justice in 1963.
An institution established by the Universal House of Justice in 1973, the members of which are the Hands of the Cause of God and Counsellors appointed by the Universal House of Justice to serve at the Bahá'í World Centre. Among the institutions many responsibilities are making reports and recommendations to the Universal House of Justice, co-ordinating and directing the work of the Continental Boards of Counsellors, being fully informed of the Faiths condition throughout the world, watching over the security and ensuring the protection of the Faith, and being alert to possibilities for extending the teaching work and for developing social and economic life both inside and outside the Bahá'í community.
ISHRÁQÁT (Splendors), Tablet of
One of Bahá'u'lláh's works on social ethics, composed in response to questions by a prominent Persian Bahá'í in the 1870s or 1880s. The tablet was addressed to Jalil-i-Khu'i, a coppersmith, revealed in answer to his questions, particularly those on the subject of supreme infallibility.
KALIMAT-I-FIRDAWSÍYYIH (Words of Paradise)
A Tablet revealed by Bahá'u'lláh in honour of Hají Mirza Haydar-'Alí. It contains eleven passages called 'Leaves of the Most Exalted Paradise' which include exhortations to the rulers, the peoples of the world and the believers to show justice, wisdom, unity and moderation, and to abandon ascetic practices. In it Bahá'u'lláh instructs the House of Justice to 'take counsel together regarding those things which have not outwardly been revealed in the Book, and to enforce that which is agreeable to them', assuring that 'God will verily inspire them with whatsoever He willeth'.
In this Tablet, Bahá'u'lláh warns against weapons of destruction, adding: 'Strange and astonishing things exist in the earth but they are hidden from the minds and the understanding of men. These things are capable of changing the whole atmosphere of the earth and their contamination would prove lethal.'
KING OF GLORY
Bahá'u'lláh's Will and Testament, written entirely in His own hand, and entrusted, shortly before His passing, to His eldest son, 'Abdu'l-Bahá. It was the last Tablet revealed before His passing and unsealed on the ninth day after. Referred to by Him as the 'Most Great Tablet' and 'the Crimson Book', it introduces the Covenant and designates 'Abdu'l-Bahá as Bahá'u'lláh's successor and the one to whom all should turn for guidance after Bahá'u'lláh's death. As a written covenant clearly stating the succession of authority by a Manifestation of God, this document is unique in religious scripture, providing for the continuation of divine authority over the affairs of the Faith in the future. The Will and Testament of Bahá'u'lláh, Shoghi Effendi has written, together with the Kitab-i-Aqdas and those Tablets describing the station of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, 'constitute the chief buttresses designed by the Lord of the Covenant Himself to shield and support, after His ascension, the appointed Centre of His Faith and the Delineator of its future institutions'.
The Most Holy Book (Kitáb means "book"; Aqdas means "Most Holy"): the chief repository of Bahá'u'lláh's laws and the Mother Book of His revelation, revealed in 'Akka in 1873 and termed by Shoghi Effendi "the Charter of the future world civilization." For a summary of its contents, see GPB, pp. 214-15.
KITAB-I-IQAN (Book of Certitude)
Volume revealed by Bahá'u'lláh in 1862 in Baghdad, two years before His declaration. It was written in answer to questions posed to Him by an uncle of the Bab, Haji Mírza Siyyid Muhammad, who was not convinced as yet that his nephew fulfilled all the prophecies concerning the Promised Qa'im. It consists of interpretation of biblical and quranic terms, images, and prophecies, as well as containing many ethical and spiritual exhortations.
In the Kitab-i-Iqan, which was written in two days and two nights, Bahá'u'lláh proclaims the oneness of God, the station of His manifestations as 'mirrors' through whom alone man can obtain knowledge of God, and the essential unity of their teachings. He describes how the prophets of the past faced opposition and denial through the blindness and greed of religious leaders and presents the essential qualities of the 'true seeker' after religious truth. Bahá'u'lláh further explains the spiritual meaning of prophecies about the return of Christ, the coming of the Qa'im and such terms as 'resurrection', 'return' and 'day of judgement'. He presents proofs of the divine character of the Bab's revelation and alludes to His own revelation, anticipating the opposition He Himself would face.
Shoghi Effendi described the Kitab-i-Iqan as the 'foremost among the priceless treasures cast forth from the billowing ocean of Bahá'u'lláh's Revelation,' and stated that it fulfilled the Bab's prophecy that the Promised One would complete the text of the Persian Bayan. It 'occupies a position unequalled by any work in the entire range of Bahá'í literature, except the Kitab-i-Aqdas'.
'Well may it be claimed that of all the books revealed by the Author of the Bahá'í Revelation, this Book alone, by sweeping away the agelong barriers that have so insurmountably separated the great religions of the world, has laid down a broad and unassailable foundation for the complete and permanent reconciliation of their followers.'
KNIGHTS OF BAHÁ'U'LLÁH
The title given by Shoghi Effendi to Bahá'ís who settled in the goal countries enumerated at the outset of the Ten Year World Crusade as having no Bahá'ís living in them. All those who settled in such territories during the Holy Year October 1952 - October 1953 and, thereafter, the first to settle in the remaining territories were designated Knights of Bahá'u'lláh. The names of the Knights of Bahá'u'lláh are inscribed on a scroll that was laid beneath the floor inside the entrance door of the Shrine of Bahá'u'lláh in May 1992 during the Holy Year commemorating the centenary of Bahá'u'lláh's ascension.
The first of two major stages in which Bahá'ís believe peace will be established. The Lesser Peace will come about through a binding treaty among the nations for the political unification of the world. It will involve fixing every nation's boundaries, strictly limiting the size of armaments, laying down the principles underlying the relations among governments, and ascertaining all international agreements and obligations. Its inception will synchronize with two processes operating within the Bahá'í Faith — the maturation of local and national Bahá'í institutions and the completion of specified buildings around the Arc on Mount Carmel and will portend the coming of the Most Great Peace.
LETTERS OF THE LIVING
A translation of Huruf-i-Hayy. The first eighteen people who independently recognized and believed in the Báb. Together with Him, they form the first Vahid ("Unit") of the Bábi Dispensation. The word Hayy, which is the Name of God "The Living", has the numerical value of eighteen in the abjad system of notation in which each letter of the Arabic alphabet is assigned a specific numerical value. The word "Vahid" has the numerical value of nineteen.
LIFEBLOOD OF THE CAUSE
The Bahá'í Fund.
LOCAL SPIRITUAL ASSEMBLY
The nine-member governing body of the Bahá'ís in a locality, elected annually by secret ballot by all the local adult Bahá'ís.
LORD OF HOSTS
A title of Bahá'u'lláh. 'Abdu'l-Bahá explains that "what is meant in the prophecies by the 'Lord of Hosts' and the 'Promised Christ' is the Blessed Perfection [Bahá'u'lláh] and His holiness the Exalted One [the Báb]." See Hosts.
LORD OF THE AGE
A designation of the Manifestation of God in each Dispensation. In Islam it was a title given to the promised Qa'im and, therefore, is applied in Bahá'í terminology particularly to the Báb.
A houri, according to Islam, is one of the maidens dwelling in Paradise who would consort with the souls of the blessed.
In Bahá'u'lláh's writings the houri, often described as clothed in white, is used as a symbol of the Spirit of God, a personification of the Spirit which descended upon Bahá'u'lláh. It was in the Siyah-Chal prison in Tihran that the Holy Spirit first appeared to Him in the form of a maiden.
God's plan for humanity that is tumultuous and mysterious in its progress. Its purpose in this cycle is to unite the human race and to establish the Kingdom of God on earth. See Minor Plan of God, Plans.
MANIFESTATION OF GOD
Designation of a Prophet "endowed with constancy" Who is the Founder of a religious Dispensation, inasmuch as in His words, His person, and His actions He manifests the nature and purpose of God in accordance with the capacity and needs of the people to whom He comes.
A Bahá'í term for the founders of the major world religions, who are seen as mouthpieces of divine revelation and examples of a divine life. Bahá'í scripture clearly identifies ten historic individuals as Manifestations: the founder of the Sabaean religion, mentioned in the Qur'án; Abraham; Moses; Jesus Christ; Muhammad; Krishna; Zoroaster; Buddha; the Báb; and Bahá'u'lláh.
"The Dawning Place of the Praise of God": a title designating a Bahá'í House of Worship or Temple. Houses of Worship have been constructed in Wilmette, near Chicago, Illinois; Kampala, Uganda; Ingleside, near Sydney, Australia; Langenhain, near Frankfurt am Main, Germany; Panama City, Panama; Apia, Western Samoa; and New Delhi, India. The first Bahá'í House of Worship, built in 1902 in 'Ishqabad, Turkmenistan, was damaged by an earthquake in 1948 and, following heavy rains, had to be razed in 1963. For a full description of the institution of the Mashriqu'l-Adhkár, see BW 18:568-88.
A title of 'Abdu'l-Bahá referring to the virtues He manifested and to His role as an enduring model for humanity to emulate. Translation of the Arabic word áqá.
MAZRA'IH (literally, farm)
The country house or summer mansion at Mazra'ih, four miles north of the prison city of 'Akka and about a half-mile from the Mediterranean Sea. The mansion looks eastward to the hills of Galilee and has a pool and gardens. It once belonged to 'Abdu'llah Pasha, which 'Abdu'l-Bahá rented and prepared for Bahá'u'lláh. It took the repeated pleadings of Shaykh 'Alíy-i-Mírí, the Muftí of 'Akka, to persuade Bahá'u'lláh, who was still technically a prisoner in the city of 'Akka, to take up residence at Mazra'ih in June 1877. Bahá'u'lláh lived there for two years after leaving 'Akka in 1877, after which He moved to the Mansion of Bahji.
The holy city of Islam, the birthplace of Muhammad (AD 570). In Mecca, the principal place of pilgrimage of the Muslim world, stands the Great Mosque surrounding the Ka'bih (Kaaba), the ancient cubical temple believed to have been built by Abraham and Ishmael, which is the Muslim Qiblih.
The Purest Branch: a son of Bahá'u'lláh and brother of 'Abdu'l-Bahá. He died at the age of twenty-two in 1870 when he fell through a skylight while rapt in prayer on the roof of the prison barracks in 'Akka. He asked Bahá'u'lláh to accept his life as a ransom so that pilgrims prevented from attaining Bahá'u'lláh's presence would be enabled to do so. Bahá'u'lláh, in a prayer, made this astounding proclamation: "Glorified art Thou, O Lord my God! Thou seest Me in the hands of Mine enemies, and My son blood-stained before Thy face, O Thou in Whose hands is the kingdom of all names. I have, O My Lord, offered up that which Thou hast given Me, that Thy servants may be quickened and all that dwell on earth be united."
The part of God's Plan that is revealed by Bahá'u'lláh to His followers and is laid out for them in detailed instructions and successive plans by 'Abdu'l-Bahá, Shoghi Effendi, and the Universal House of Justice. In contrast to the Major Plan of God, it proceeds in a methodical, ordered way, disseminating His teachings and raising up the structure of a united world society. See Major Plan, Plans.
A unit of weight, equivalent to a little over 3 1/2 grammes, used in the Kitáb-i-Aqdas with reference to quantities of gold or silver for various purposes, usually in amounts of 9, 19 or 95 mithqáls. The equivalents of these in the metric system and in troy ounces (which are used in the measurement of precious metals), are as follows:
9 mithqáls = 32.775 grammes = 1.05374 troy ouncesThis computation is based on the guidance of Shoghi Effendi, conveyed in a letter written on his behalf, which states "one mithqál consists of nineteen nakhuds. The weight of twenty-four nakhuds equals four and three-fifths grammes. Calculations may be made on this basis." The mithqál traditionally used in the Middle East had consisted of 24 nakhuds but in the Bayán this was changed to 19 nakhuds and Bahá'u'lláh confirmed this as the size of the mithqál referred to in the Bahá'í laws (Q&A #23).
MOST EXALTED LEAF
MOST GREAT FESTIVAL
MOST GREAT NAME
See Greatest Name.
The centenary of the declaration of Bahá'u'lláh's prophetic mission in the Garden of Ridvan in Baghdad, 22 April - 3 May 1863. It was commemorated by the first Bahá'í World Congress, held in Royal Albert Hall, London, during the Ridvan Festival (28 April - 2 May) 1963. The Most Great Jubilee coincided with the victorious completion of the Ten Year World Crusade Shoghi Effendi launched in April 1953 (fulfilling the prophecy of Daniel 12:12 regarding the spread of the Bahá'í Faith throughout the world) and the establishment of the Universal House of Justice elected a few days earlier in Haifa, Israel. See Daniel's prophecy.
MOST GREAT PEACE
The second of two major stages in which Bahá'ís believe peace will be established. The Most Great Peace will be the practical consequence of the spiritualization of the world and the fusion of all its races, creeds, classes, and nations. It will rest on the foundation of, and be preserved by, the ordinances of God. See Lesser Peace.
MOST GREAT PRISON
The prison city of 'Akka in which Bahá'u'lláh, His family, and companions were confined from 31 August 1868 until June 1877.
MOST HOLY BOOK
MOST HOLY SHRINE
Refers to the first Bahá'í House of Worship to be built in a hemisphere or continent. For example, the Bahá'í House of Worship outside of Frankfurt am Main, Germany, is known as the Mother Temple of Europe; the House of Worship in Wilmette, Illinois, the Mother Temple of the West.
A mountain in Israel on which the Shrine of the Báb and the Bahá'í World Centre are located. The home of the prophet Elijah, it is referred to by Bahá'u'lláh as "the Hill of God and His Vineyard" and was extolled by Isaiah as the "mountain of the Lord" to which "all nations shall flow". On it Bahá'u'lláh pitched His tent and revealed the Tablet of Carmel, the charter of the world spiritual and administrative centres of the Bahá'í Faith. See Arc Bahá'í World Centre.
MUHAMMAD, HAJI MIRZA SIYYID
One of the maternal uncles of the Bab. It was in answer to his questions that Bahá'u'lláh revealed the Kitab-i-Iqan. Hají Mírza Siyyid Muhammad had not been entirely convinced that his nephew was the Promised Qa'im and, during a visit to Baghdad, asked Bahá'u'lláh to clarify how the traditions and prophecies were fulfilled by the Bab. Bahá'u'lláh told him to make a list of his questions. In the next two days and nights Bahá'u'lláh revealed the Kitab-i-Iqan in answer. His doubts were dispelled, and he acknowledged the truth of both the Bab and Bahá'u'lláh.
See Son of the Wolf.
MYSTERY OF GOD
A translation of Sirru'llah, a title Bahá'u'lláh gave to 'Abdu'l-Bahá referring to His unique spiritual station in which the incompatible characteristics of human nature and superhuman knowledge and perfection are blended and completely harmonized.
A unit of weight. See mithqál.
NATIONAL SPIRITUAL ASSEMBLIES
The nine-member governing body of the Bahá'ís of a particular country, elected annually by regionally elected delegates. See Spiritual Assemblies.
The institution that elects the members of the National Spiritual Assembly during the annual Ridvan Festival (21 April - 2 May). At unit or "district" conventions, adult Bahá'ís elect delegates who, in turn, attend the National Convention. There the delegates vote to elect the members of the National Spiritual Assembly, consult about the affairs of the Faith, and offer recommendations to the National Spiritual Assembly. See Elections, Bahá'í.
"Children": the name of a Bahá'í-owned commercial investment company founded in 1917 in Iran, through 'Abdu'l-Bahá's encouragement, to help Bahá'í children learn to plan for the future and live thriftily by depositing a portion of their allowances each week. It later became the financial arm of the National Spiritual Assembly of Iran. In 1979 the Nawnahalan Company was seized by Iranian authorities, its assets were confiscated, and its staff were denied their salaries and prevented from working.
"New Day". Bahá'í New Year's Day, the date of the vernal equinox. A Bahá'í holy day on which work is suspended, it is celebrated in the West on 21 March, until such time as the Universal House of Justice fixes the standard for the date throughout the world in accordance with astronomical data.
One of a variety of thrushes known for the sweetness of its nocturnal song. Used in the Bahá'í Writings to symbolize the Manifestation of God, particularly Bahá'u'lláh. See Bahá'u'lláh.
NINE YEAR PLAN
The first teaching plan launched by the Universal House of Justice. It encompassed the years 1964-73. See Plans.
A Bahá'í institution inaugurated by the Báb and confirmed by Bahá'u'lláh in the Kitab-i-Aqdas. It is held on the first day of every Bahá'í month, each consisting of nineteen days and bearing the name of one of the attributes of God. The Feast is the heart of Bahá'í community life at the local level and consists of devotional, consultative, and social elements.
ORDER OF BAHÁ'U'LLÁH
PEN OF GLORY, PEN OF THE MOST HIGH
PEOPLE OF BAHA
Generally, the members of the Bahá'í community. Shoghi Effendi explains that in the Tablet of Carmel "the people of Baha" refers to the members of the Universal House of Justice. See Bahá and Bahá'í.
A journey made with the intention of visiting a shrine or holy place. For Bahá'ís it is both a privilege and an obligation, although it is only obligatory for men who are able to make the journey. In the Kitab-i-Aqdas Bahá'u'lláh specifically ordains pilgrimage to the House of Bahá'u'lláh in Baghdad and to the House of the Báb in Shiraz. On the day of Bahá'u'lláh's ascension, the room where His Holy Dust was laid became a third centre of pilgrimage-the most holy spot and the Qiblih of the Bahá'í world — for at least the next thousand years. Under current conditions, Bahá'ís assume that the obligation of pilgrimage is satisfied by a visit to the Shrine of Bahá'u'lláh and the Shrine of the Báb in the Holy Land.
The first group of Western pilgrims arrived in 'Akka on 10 December 1898 and included Edward and Lua Getsinger; Phoebe Hearst; Mrs Hearst's butler, Robert Turner, who was the first African-American in the West to become a Bahá'í; and Mrs Thornburgh.
A house for visiting pilgrims that Mirza Ja'far Rahmani built, with 'Abdu'l-Bahá's permission, near the Shrine of the Báb. 'Abdu'l-Bahá composed a dedicatory inscription that appears above its entrance: "This is a spiritual Hostel for Pilgrims, and its founder is Mirza Ja'far Rahmani AH 1327. ." It was completed in 1909 and was known as the Eastern or Oriental Pilgrim House. In 1969 the increasing number of pilgrims led the Universal House of Justice to decide that pilgrims should be accommodated in hotels, thereby enabling it to convert the pilgrim house into a reception centre.
A Western Pilgrim House was built across the street from the House of 'Abdu'l-Bahá in Haifa, shortly after His passing, with funds American Bahá'ís had contributed and in accordance with a design 'Abdu'l-Bahá had selected and modified. In 1963 the Universal House of Justice established its offices in the Western Pilgrim House.
In 1983, after the completion of the Seat of the Universal House of Justice, the Western Pilgrim House became the seat of the International Teaching Centre. Another pilgrim house is located at Bahji, near the Shrine of Bahá'u'lláh.
PILLARS OF THE UNIVERSAL HOUSE OF JUSTICE
National Spiritual Assemblies. See Spiritual Assemblies.
Bahá'ís who leave their hometown or country to reside elsewhere for the purpose of teaching the Bahá'í Faith.
Refers to the courses of action devised by Shoghi Effendi and, later, by the Universal House of Justice for expanding and consolidating the Bahá'í Faith within the framework of 'Abdu'l-Bahá's Divine Plan. Teaching Plans launched by Shoghi Effendi include the first Seven Year Plan (1937-44) and the second Seven Year Plan (1946-53) pursued by the Bahá'ís of the United States; a Six Year Plan pursued by the Bahá'ís of the British Isles (1944-50); plans of varying durations separately pursued between 1947- 53 by the National Spiritual Assemblies of Canada, of Central America, of South America, of Australia and New Zealand, of India, Pakistan, and Burma, of Germany and Austria, of Iran, of 'Iraq, and of Egypt and the Sudan; the Two Year Plan for the development of the Faith in Africa; and the Ten Year World Crusade (1953-63) pursued by the world-wide Bahá'í community. The Universal House of Justice has launched the Nine Year Plan (1964-73), the Five Year Plan (1974-79), the Seven Year Plan (1979- 86), the Six Year Plan (1986-92), the Three Year Plan (1993-1996), and the Four Year Plan (1996-2000). See Major Plan of God and Minor Plan of God.
The Bahá'í belief that the major religions have been founded by Manifestations of God and that the Manifestations succeed one another, each bringing a greater measure of divine truth to humanity.
PUREST BRANCH, THE
See Mihdi, Mirza.
The Báb's commentary on the Súrih of Joseph in the Qur'án. Revealed in 1844, this work is characterized by Bahá'u'lláh as "the first, the greatest, and mightiest of all books" in the Bábí Dispensation.
"That which one faces; prayer-direction; point of adoration". the focus to which the faithful turn in prayer. The Qiblih for Muslims is the Ka'bah in Mecca; for Bahá'ís it is the Most Holy Tomb of Bahá'u'lláh at Bahji, "the Heart and Qiblih of the Bahá'í world".
In Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, Bahá'u'lláh addresses the Imam-Jum'ih of Isfahan, Mír Muhammad-Husayn, as Raqshá. He is condemned for his instigation of the martyrdom of the King and Beloved of Martyrs, to whom he owed a sum of money. He died in 1881 of a disease so loathsome that even his family would not touch him.
The city of Adrianople (now Edirne, Turkey), to which Bahá'u'lláh was banished from 12 December 1863 through 12 August 1868. Adrianople is in western Turkey, on its border with Greece and Bulgaria. See Adrianople.
The conveying of truth from God to humanity. The word is used to refer to the process of divine communication from God to His Manifestation and from the Manifestation to His people; to the words and acts of such communication themselves; and to the entire body of teachings given by a Prophet of God.
The Islamic name of the gardener and custodian of Paradise. In Bahá'í terminology the word denotes both "garden", and "paradise"; however, it has also been used to denote God's good-pleasure and His divine acceptance. The Ridván Festival, the holiest and most significant of all Bahá'í festivals, commemorates Bahá'u'lláh's declaration of His mission to His companions in the Garden of Ridván in Baghdad in 1863. It is a twelve-day period celebrated annually, 21 April - 2 May. It is also called the Most Great Festival. During each Ridván Festival Local and National Spiritual Assemblies are elected, and, once every five years, the Universal House of Justice is elected.
RUHIYYIH KHANUM, AMATU'L-BAHÁ
SACRED SCRIPTURES, SACRED TEXTS
The Holy Books of the world's religions. Also refers to the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh, the Báb, and 'Abdu'l-Bahá.
A term used metaphorically and respectfully to denote approach to the Presence of God and, hence, to the precincts of a holy place such as a shrine. It is also sometimes used literally to denote the actual outer or inner threshold of a holy shrine.
SEAL OF THE PROPHETS
A title of Muhammad.
SECRET OF DIVINE CIVILIZATION
A work composed by 'Abdu'l-Bahá in 1875 detailing the social reforms that Iran should undergo in order to become a modern nation. It serves as one of the Bahá'í Faith's major treatises on social reform.
SEVEN VALLEYS AND THE FOUR VALLEYS, THE
Two mystical works revealed by Bahá'u'lláh in Baghdad after He returned from Sulaymaniyyih, between 1856 and 1862. The Seven Valleys was written to answer the questions of Shaykh Muhyí'd-Din, a Súfí It describes the seven stages of the journey of the soul towards God, as set forth by the 12th-century Súfí poet 'Attár in his poem 'Language of the Birds'. Bahá'u'lláh speaks of these stages as the valleys of Search, Love, Knowledge, Unity, Contentment, Wonderment, and True Poverty and Absolute Nothingness.
The Four Valleys was written to Shaykh 'Abdu'r-Rahman of Karkuk who had become an admirer of Bahá'u'lláh in Sulaymaniyyih. This work also describes in mystical language the journey towards the divine goal, in four stages or valleys.
Title of Shoghi Rabbání, great-grandson of Bahá’u’lláh, appointed by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá as Guardian of the Bahá’í Faith. Born in Acre on 1 March 1897, Shoghi Effendi was a student at Oxford at the time of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s passing in 1921. For the next thirty-six years as Head of the Bahá’í Faith, he guided the religion’s worldwide expansion and the evolution of Bahá’í Administration, developed and extended the Bahá’í World Center in the twin cities of Haifa and Acre in the Holy Land, translated many works by Bahá’u’lláh and an important history of the Bábís, and wrote thousands of letters as well as a history of the first hundred years of the Bábí and Bahá’í Faiths. On 4 November 1957 he died during a visit to London, leaving no successor as Guardian, and was buried in the New Southgate Cemetery in north London. The institution of the Hands of the Cause of God, whose membership and role Shoghi Effendi had developed in the five years before his death, assumed the responsibility for guiding the affairs of the Bahá’í Faith from 1957 until the election in 1963 of the Universal House of Justice, the supreme governing council of the Bahá’í administrative order. (This entry provided by The Bahá'í Encyclopedia.)
The original meaning of the word is a casket or case for books, but it later acquired the special meaning of a casket containing sacred relics, and thence a tomb of a saint, a chapel with special associations, or a place hallowed by some memory. It is used to denote the latter in Bahá'í terminology. The term "Holy Shrines", for example, refers to the burial places of Bahá'u'lláh, the Báb, and 'Abdu'l-Bahá. The House associated with the visit of 'Abdu'l-Bahá to Montreal was designated by Shoghi Effendi as a Bahá'í shrine. Also, when referring to the All-American Convention held in 1944 to commemorate the one hundredth anniversary, of the inception of the Bahá'í Faith, the Guardian wrote of the representatives of the American Bahá'í community's being "Gathered within the walls of its national Shrine — the most sacred Temple ever to be reared to the glory of Bahá'u'lláh" (GPB p. 400).
Literally "the Black Pit". The dark, subterranean dungeon in Tihrán where Bahá'u'lláh was imprisoned for four months, August - December 1852. Here, chained in darkness three flights of stairs underground, in the company of his fellow-Bábis and some 150 thieves and assassins, He received the first intimations of His world mission.
Shaykh Muhammad-Taqi, known as Aqa Najafi, the son of Suaykh Muhammad-Baqir, who was stigmatized by Bahá'u'lláh as the 'Wolf'. Aqa Najafi was an opponent of the Cause of Bahá'u'lláh, evil-minded and vicious. He was a notorious divine and an enemy of the Bahá'í Faith who collaborated with his father in the policy of murdering the Bahá'ís, and it was through his instigation that the great upheavals against the Bahá'ís occurred in Isfahan and Yazd. Bahá'u'lláh addressed his last book, Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, to Shaykh Muhammad-Taqi. He died in 1914.
Temporary title 'Abdu'l-Bahá gave houses of justice in 1902, because the latter title could be misunderstood to refer to a political body or an official court.
Administrative institutions of Bahá'u'lláh's World Order that operate at the local and national levels and are elected according to Bahá'í principles. They are responsible for co-ordinating and directing the affairs of the Bahá'í community in their areas of jurisdiction. The institution of the Local Spiritual Assembly is ordained by Bahá'u'lláh in the Kitab-i-Aqdas (referred to there as the "House of Justice"); the institution of the National Spiritual Assembly is established by 'Abdu'l- Baha in His Will and Testament. The term "Spiritual Assembly" was introduced by 'Abdu'l-Bahá so that, while the Faith is still generally unknown, people will not make the erroneous deduction from the term "House of Justice" that it is a political institution. Regional Spiritual Assemblies have been elected in many areas and are gradually reduced in size and eventually replaced by National Spiritual Assemblies as the Faith expands and consolidates itself. See Elections, Bahá'í.
A town in Kurdish Iraq; it was in the mountains surrounding Sulaymaniyyih that Bahá'u'lláh resided from April 1854 to 1856.
As a result of the dissension among the Babis in Baghdad and the sedition of Mirza Yahya, Bahá'u'lláh had decided to retire to the wilderness and left Baghdad, living in seclusion on a mountain called Sar-Galú. During this period, Aqa Abu'l-Qasim-i-Hamadaní was His only companion. To conceal His identity, Bahá'u'lláh dressed as a dervish and took the name Darvísh Muhammad-i-Iraní. The inhabitants of the area came to revere Him, particularly the local Súfís, who sought Him out for explanations of mystical works. At their request He composed the poem called Qasídiy-i-'Izz-i-Varqa'íyyih, which originally consisted of 2000 couplets, only 127 of which Bahá'u'lláh allowed to be preserved.
SURIH or SURIY
A Tablet of Bahá'u'lláh revealed in Adrianople, addressed to Mirza 'Ali-Riday-i-Mustawfi, a Bahá'í of Khurasan. It describes the station of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, to Whom Bahá'u'lláh had given the title of Most Great Branch (Ghusn-i-A'zam). In this Tablet Bahá'u'lláh writes: 'Verily the Limb of the Law of God hath sprung forth from this Root which God hath firmly implanted in the Ground of His Will, and Whose Branch hath been so uplifted as to encompass the whole of creation ... Whoso turneth towards Him hath turned towards God, and whoso turneth away from Him hath turned away from My Beauty, hath repudiated My Proof, and transgressed against Me ... They who deprive themselves of the shadow of the Branch, are lost in the wilderness of error, are consumed by the heat of worldly desires, and are of those who will assuredly perish."
SURIY-I-MULUK (Tablet to the Kings)
Revealed by Bahá'u'lláh in Arabic while He was in Adrianople, referred to by Shoghi Effendi as "the most momentous Tablet revealed by Bahá'u'lláh." In it Bahá'u'lláh addresses collectively the monarchs of East and West, the Sultan of Turkey, the kings of Christendom, the French and Persian ambassadors to the Ottoman Empire, the Muslim clergy in Constantinople, the people of Persia, and the philosophers of the world. In the Suriy-i-Muluk Bahá'u'lláh unequivocally and forcefully proclaims His station. See Proclamation of Bahá'u'lláh (pp. 7-12, 47-54, 102-03) for passages of the Suriy-i-Muluk that have been translated into English. It proclaims the station of Bahá'u'lláh and puts forward His claims as the Manifestation of God for this age.
The translation of the Arabic word súrih (pronounced soo-RAY) or, more commonly, the word lawh (pronounced loh), used in many of the titles of some of the writings of the Báb, Bahá'u'lláh, and 'Abdu'l-Bahá.
Tablet revealed in Arabic by Bah'u'llah on Mount Carmel in 1890, probably on His fourth visit to that spot in 1891. It is considered to be one of the most momentous revealed during His ministry. The Tablet contains significant allusions to the establishment of the World Centre of the Bahá'í Faith and is stated by Shoghi Effendi to be its charter. The charter of the world spiritual and administrative centres of the Bahá'í Faith. See GWB, pp. 14-17, or TB, pp. 3-5.
Fourteen Tablets revealed by 'Abdu'l-Bahá in 1916 and 1917 and referred to as the charter for propagating the Bahá'í Faith. Addressed to the Bahá'ís of North America, the Tablets convey His mandate for the transmission of the Bahá'í Faith throughout the world. See Divine Plan.
One of Bahá'u'lláh's most important social and ethical works, composed about 1885. Revealed in honour of Ustad 'Ali-Akbar, a martyr of Yazd. The four 'Tajalliyat' it expounds are the knowledge of God, which is attainable only through His Manifestation; steadfastness in the Cause of God through faith in His wisdom; the value of those arts and sciences which profit mankind, 'not those which begin with words and end with words'; and recognition of Divinity in its Manifestation.
One of Bahá'u'lláh's major ethical and social works, composed in the 1870s or 1880s. It contains six passages, each called a 'Taraz', on such subjects as self-knowledge, consorting 'with the followers of all religions in a spirit of friendliness and fellowship', good character, trustworthiness, the appreciation of arts and crafts, truthfulness and accuracy. It includes an injunction to the people of the Bayan and to Hadi Dawlat-Abadi, a mulla of Isfahan who became a Babi but later recanted his faith.
A ten-part process of divine revelation described by Shoghi Effendi. It began with Adam and is to end with the erection of the entire machinery of Bahá'u'lláh's Administrative Order and the suffusion of the light of His Revelation, throughout future epochs of the Formative and Golden Ages of the Faith, over the entire planet.
The process, Shoghi Effendi writes, began "with the planting in the soil of the divine will, of the tree of divine revelation, and which has already passed through certain stages and must needs pass through still others ere it attains its final consummation. The first part of this process was the slow and steady growth of this tree of divine revelation, successively putting forth its branches, shoots and offshoots, and revealing its leaves, buds and blossoms, as a direct consequence of the light and warmth imparted to it by a series of progressive Dispensations associated with Moses, Zoroaster, Buddha, Jesus, Muhammad and other Prophets, and of the vernal showers of blood shed by countless martyrs in their path. The second part of this process was the fruition of this tree, 'that belongeth neither to the East nor to the West,' when the Báb appeared as the perfect fruit and declared His mission in the Year Sixty  in the city of Shiraz. The third part was the grinding of this sacred seed, of infinite preciousness and potency, in the mill of adversity, causing it to yield its oil, six years later, in the city of Tabriz . The fourth part was the ignition of this oil by the hand of Providence in the depths and amidst the darkness of the Siyah-Chal of Tihran a hundred years ago . The fifth, was the clothing of that flickering light, which had scarcely penetrated the adjoining territory of 'Iraq, in the lamp of revelation, after an eclipse lasting no less than ten years, in the city of Baghdad . The sixth, was the spread of the radiance of that light, shining with added brilliancy in its crystal globe in Adrianople [1863- 1868], and later on in the fortress town of 'Akka [1868-1877], to thirteen countries in the Asiatic and African continents. The seventh was its projection, from the Most Great Prison, in the course of the ministry of the Centre of the Covenant [1892-1921], across the seas and the shedding of its illumination upon twenty sovereign states and dependencies in the American, the European, and Australian continents. The eighth part of that process was the diffusion of that same light in the course of the first, and the opening years of the second, epoch of the Formative Age of the Faith [1921-1953], over ninety-four sovereign states, dependencies and islands of the planet, as a result of the prosecution of a series of national plans, initiated by eleven national spiritual assemblies throughout the Bahá'í world, utilizing the agencies of a newly emerged, divinely appointed Administrative Order, and which has now culminated in the one hundredth anniversary of the birth of Bahá'u'lláh's Mission. The ninth part of this process — the stage we are now entering  — is the further diffusion of that same light over one hundred and thirty-one additional territories and islands in both the Eastern and Western Hemispheres, through the operation of a decade-long world spiritual crusade whose termination will, God willing, coincide with the Most Great Jubilee commemorating the centenary of the declaration of Bahá'u'lláh in Baghdad. And finally the tenth part of this mighty process [1963-] must be the penetration of that light, in the course of numerous crusades and of successive epochs of both the Formative and Golden Ages of the Faith, into all the remaining territories of the globe through the erection of the entire machinery of Bahá'u'lláh's Administrative Order in all territories, both East and West, the stage at which the light of God's triumphant Faith shining in all its power and glory will have suffused and enveloped the entire planet" (MBW, pp. 154-55).
TEN YEAR WORLD CRUSADE
TWIN HOLY CITIES
TWIN HOLY SHRINES
The Shrines of Bahá'u'lláh and the Báb.
The Umana ("Trustees") Company was formed in Iran to be the registered owner of all Bahá'í properties, both local and national. Within a few months after the Islamic Republic was established in March 1979, agents of the revolutionary government, acting on the authority of an order from the Office of the Public Prosecutor of the Islamic Republic, seized its assets, properties, and furnishings and dismissed its employees. Among the properties the Umana Company held were holy places, including the House of the Báb in Shiraz, houses of Bahá'u'lláh in Tihran and Takur, a temple site, the national Bahá'í headquarters, Bahá'í cemeteries, and a Bahá'í-operated hospital in Tihran.
UNIVERSAL HOUSE OF JUSTICE
The supreme governing and legislative body of the Bahá'í Faith. The Guardianship and the Universal House of Justice are the twin, crowning institutions of the Bahá'í Administrative Order. It is elected every five years at an international Bahá'í convention when the electors, a body consisting of all current members of Bahá’í governing councils for nations and regions (generally known as National Spiritual Assemblies), convene in Haifa, Israel, and vote for its nine members by casting secret ballots. Vacancies during a term are filled by mail-in ballots. The membership of the Universal House of Justice, which consists of nine individuals who may come from any part of the world, is limited to men for reasons that Bahá’u’lláh and ‘Abdu’l-Bahá did not explain; it is the only Bahá’í institution so restricted. It was first elected in 1963.
The Universal House of Justice gives spiritual guidance to and directs the administrative activities of the world-wide Bahá'í community. It legislates on issues that are not covered in Bahá’í scripture. It is also responsible for the Bahá’í holy places and the administrative functioning of the World Center. It is the institution Bahá'u'lláh ordained as the agency invested with authority to legislate on matters not covered in His writings. In His Will and Testament 'Abdu'l-Bahá elaborates on its functions and affirms that it is infallibly guided.
A state title, meaning deputy or representative of the government, that refers to Muhammad Taqi Afnan, cousin of the Báb and chief builder of the 'Ishqabad Temple.
VICAR OF THE PROPHET OF ISLAM
The Sultan of the Ottoman Empire, alluding to his claim to be the Caliph, or successor of Muhammad within Sunni Islam.
A document that Shoghi Effendi says is "unique in the annals of the world's religious systems", the Will and Testament is the charter of the Administrative Order of the Bahá'í Faith. Written, signed, and sealed by 'Abdu'l-Bahá, the Will and Testament consists of three sections written at three different times between 1901 and the year of His passing. The Will and Testament affirms "the two-fold character of the Mission of the Báb", which was to bring an independent revelation from God and to herald the coming of another, greater revelation through Bahá'u'lláh. It also "discloses the full station of" Bahá'u'lláh as the "supreme Manifestation of God", declares the fundamental beliefs of the Bahá'í Faith, establishes the institution of the Guardianship, and appoints Shoghi Effendi as Guardian. It provides for the election of the Universal House of Justice and defines its scope. It also creates the institution of the National Spiritual Assembly, provides for the appointment of the Hands of the Cause of God and prescribes their obligations, and exposes the conduct of the Covenant-breakers.
See Bahá'í World Centre.
See Most Great Jubilee.
Bahá'u'lláh's "scheme for world-wide solidarity" that is "destined to embrace in the fullness of time the whole of mankind." The current Bahá'í Administrative Order is its nucleus and pattern, providing the "rudiments of the future all-enfolding Bahá'í Commonwealth."
O Thou the Exalted, the Most Exalted! A form of the Báb's name that is used as an invocation.
O Thou the Glory of the Most Glorious! A form of Bahá'u'lláh's name (the Greatest Name) that is used as an invocation. See Bahá.