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Pages 301-305

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miles to the travelers as they approach the town. It is in the center of a garden bounded by four streets. In the four corners of this enclosure are four buildings: one is the Bahá'í school; one is the traveler's house, where pilgrims and wayfarers are lodged; one is for the keepers, while the fourth one is to be used as a hospital. Nine radial avenues approach the Temple from the several parts of the grounds, one of which, the principal approach to the building, leads from the main gateway of the grounds to the principal portal of the Temple." "In plan," he further adds, "the building is composed of three sections; namely, the central rotunda, the aisle or ambulatory which surrounds it, and the loggia which surrounds the entire building. It is built on the plan of a regular polygon of nine sides. One side is occupied by the monumental main entrance, flanked by minarets--a high arched portico extending two stories in height recalling in arrangement the architecture of the world famous Taj Mahal at Agra in India, the delight of the world to travelers, many of whom pronounce it to be the most beautiful temple in the world. Thus the principal doorway opens toward the direction of the Holy land. The entire building is surrounded by two series of loggias-- one upper and one lower--which opens out upon the garden giving a very beautiful architectural effect in harmony with the luxuriant semi-tropical vegetation which fills the garden... The interior walls of the rotunda are treated in five distinct stories. First, a series of nine arches and piers which separate the rotunda from the ambulatory. Second, a similar treatment with balustrades which separate the triforium gallery (which is above the ambulatory and is reached by two staircases in the loggias placed one on either side of the main entrance) from the well of the rotunda. Third, a series of nine blank arches filled with fretwork, between which are escutcheons bearing the Greatest Name. Fourth, a series of nine large arched windows. Fifth, a series of eighteen bull's eye windows. Above and resting on a cornice surmounting this last story rises the inner hemispherical shell of the dome. The interior is elaborately decorated in plaster relief work... The whole structure impresses one by its mass and strength."

Nor should mention be omitted of the two schools for boys and girls which were established in that city, of the pilgrim house instituted in the close vicinity of the Temple, of the Spiritual Assembly and its auxiliary bodies formed to administer the affairs of a growing community, and of the new centers of activity inaugurated in various towns and cities in the province of Turkistán--all testifying to the

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vitality which the Faith had displayed ever since its inception in that land.

A parallel if less spectacular development could be observed in the Caucasus. After the establishment of the first center and the formation of an Assembly in Bák, a city which Bahá'í pilgrims, traveling in increasing numbers from Persia to the Holy Land via Turkey, invariably visited, new groups began to be organized, and, evolving later into well-established communities, cooperated in increasing measure with their brethren both in Turkistán and Persia.

In Egypt a steady increase in the number of the adherents of the Faith was accompanied by a general expansion in its activities. The establishments of new centers; the consolidation of the chief center established in Cairo; the conversion, largely through the indefatigable efforts of the learned Mírzá Abu'l-Fadl, of several prominent students and teachers of the Azhar University--premonitory symptoms foreshadowing the advent of the promised day on which, according to `Abdu'l-Bahá, the standard and emblem of the Faith would be implanted in the heart of that time-honored Islámic seat of learning; the translation into Arabic and the dissemination of some of the most important writings of Bahá'u'lláh revealed in Persian, together with other Bahá'í literature; the printing of books, treatises and pamphlets by Bahá'í authors and scholars; the publication of articles in the Press written in defense of the Faith and for the purpose of broadcasting its message; the formation of rudimentary administrative institutions in the capital as well as in nearby centers; the enrichment of the life of the community through the addition of converts of Kurdish, Coptic, and Armenian origin--these may be regarded as the first fruits garnered in a country which, blessed by the footsteps of `Abdu'l-Bahá, was, in later years, to play a historic part in the emancipation of the Faith, and which, by virtue of its unique position as the intellectual center of both the Arab and Islámic worlds, must inevitably assume a notable and decisive share of responsibility in the final establishment of that Faith throughout the East.

Even more remarkable was the expansion of Bahá'í activity in India and Burma, where a steadily growing community, now including among its members representatives of the Zoroastrian, the Islamic, the Hindu and the Buddhist Faiths, as well as members of the Sikh community, succeeded in establishing its outposts, as far as Mandalay and the village of Daidanaw Kalazoo, in the Hanthawaddy district of Burma, at which latter place no less than eight hundred Bahá'ís resided, possessing a school, a court, and a hospital of their own, as

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well as land for community cultivation, the proceeds of which they devoted to the furtherance of the interests of their Faith.

In Iraq, where the House occupied by Bahá'u'lláh was entirely restored and renovated, and where a small yet intrepid community struggled in the face of constant opposition to regulate and administer its affairs; in Constantinople, where a Bahá'í center was established; in Tunis where the foundations of a local community were firmly laid; in Japan, in China, and in Honolulu to which Bahá'í teachers traveled, and where they settled and taught--in all of these places the manifold evidences of the guiding hand of `Abdu'l-Bahá and the tangible effects of His sleepless vigilance and unfailing care could be clearly perceived.

Nor did the nascent communities established in France, England, Germany and the United States cease to receive, after His memorable visits to those countries, further tokens of His special interest in, and solicitude for, their welfare and spiritual advancement. It was in consequence of His directions and the unceasing flow of His Tablets, addressed to the members of these communities, as well as His constant encouragement of the efforts they were exerting, that Bahá'í centers steadily multiplied, that public meetings were organized, that new periodicals were published, that translations of some of the best known works of Bahá'u'lláh and of the Tablets of `Abdu'l-Bahá were printed and circulated in the English, the French, and German languages, and that the initial attempts to organize the affairs, and consolidate the foundations, of these newly established communities were undertaken.

In the North American continent, more particularly, the members of a flourishing community, inspired by the blessings bestowed by `Abdu'l-Bahá, as well as by His example and the acts He performed in the course of His prolonged visit to their country, gave an earnest of the magnificent enterprise they were to carry through in later years. They purchased the twelve remaining lots forming part of the site of their projected Temple, selected, during the sessions of their 1920 Convention, the design of the French Canadian Bahá'í architect, Louis Bourgeois, placed the contract for the excavation and the laying of its foundations, and succeeded soon after in completing the necessary arrangements for the construction of its basement: measures which heralded the stupendous efforts which, after `Abdu'l-Bahá's ascension, culminated in the erection of its superstructure and the completion of its exterior ornamentation.

The war of 1914-18, repeatedly foreshadowed by `Abdu'l-Bahá in

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the dark warnings He uttered in the course of His western travels, and which broke out eight months after His return to the Holy Land, once more cast a shadow of danger over His life, the last that was to darken the years of His agitated yet glorious ministry.

The late entry of the United States of America in that world-convulsing conflict, the neutrality of Persia, the remoteness of India and of the Far East from the theater of operations, insured the protection of the overwhelming majority of His followers, who, though for the most part entirely cut off for a number of years from the spiritual center of their Faith, were still able to conduct their affairs and safeguard the fruits of their recent achievements in comparative safety and freedom.

In the Holy Land, however, though the outcome of that tremendous struggle was to liberate once and for all the Heart and Center of the Faith from the Turkish yoke, a yoke which had imposed for so long upon its Founder and His Successor such oppressive and humiliating restrictions, yet severe privations and grave dangers continued to surround its inhabitants during the major part of that conflict, and renewed, for a time, the perils which had confronted `Abdu'l-Bahá during the years of His incarceration in Akká. The privations inflicted on the inhabitants by the gross incompetence, the shameful neglect, the cruelty and callous indifference of both the civil and military authorities, though greatly alleviated through the bountiful generosity, the foresight and the tender care of `Abdu'l-Bahá, were aggravated by the rigors of a strict blockade. A bombardment of Haifa by the Allies was a constant threat, at one time so real that it necessitated the temporary removal of `Abdu'l-Bahá, His family and members of the local community to the village of Ab-Sínán at the foot of the hills east of Akká. The Turkish Commander-in-Chief, the brutal, the all-powerful and unscrupulous Jamál Páshá, an inveterate enemy of the Faith, through his own ill-founded suspicions and the instigation of its enemies, had already grievously afflicted `Abdu'l-Bahá, and even expressed his intention of crucifying Him and of razing to the ground the Tomb of Bahá'u'lláh. `Abdu'l-Bahá Himself still suffered from the ill-health and exhaustion brought on by the fatigues of His three-year journeys. He felt acutely the virtual stoppage of all communication with most of the Bahá'í centers throughout the world. Agony filled His soul at the spectacle of human slaughter precipitated through humanity's failure to respond to the summons He had issued, or to heed the warnings He had given. Surely sorrow upon sorrow was added to the burden of trials and

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vicissitudes which He, since His boyhood, had borne so heroically for the sake, and in the service, of His Father's Cause.

And yet during these somber days, the darkness of which was reminiscent of the tribulations endured during the most dangerous period of His incarceration in the prison-fortress of Akká, `Abdu'l-Bahá, whilst in the precincts of His Father's Shrine, or when dwelling in the House He occupied in Akká, or under the shadow of the Báb's sepulcher on Mt. Carmel, was moved to confer once again, and for the last time in His life, on the community of His American followers a signal mark of His special favor by investing them, on the eve of the termination of His earthly ministry, through the revelation of the Tablets of the Divine Plan, with a world mission, whose full implications even now, after the lapse of a quarter of a century, still remain undisclosed, and whose unfoldment thus far, though as yet in its initial stages, has so greatly enriched the spiritual as well as the administrative annals of the first Bahá'í century.

The conclusion of this terrible conflict, the first stage in a titanic convulsion long predicted by Bahá'u'lláh, not only marked the extinction of Turkish rule in the Holy Land and sealed the doom of that military despot who had vowed to destroy `Abdu'l-Bahá, but also shattered once and for all the last hopes still entertained by the remnant of Covenant-breakers who, untaught by the severe retribution that had already overtaken them, still aspired to witness the extinction of the light of Bahá'u'lláh's Covenant. Furthermore, it produced those revolutionary changes which, on the one hand, fulfilled the ominous predictions made by Bahá'u'lláh in the Kitáb-i-Aqdas, and enabled, according to Scriptural prophecy, so large an element of the "outcasts of Israel," the "remnant" of the "flock," to "assemble" in the Holy Land, and to be brought back to "their folds" and "their own border," beneath the shadow of the "Incomparable Branch," referred to by `Abdu'l-Bahá in His "Some Answered Questions," and which, on the other hand, gave birth to the institution of the League of Nations, the precursor of that World Tribunal which, as prophesied by that same "Incomparable Branch," the peoples and nations of the earth must needs unitedly establish.

No need to dwell on the energetic steps which the English believers as soon as they had been apprized of the dire peril threatening the life of `Abdu'l-Bahá undertook to insure His security; on the measures independently taken whereby Lord Curzon and others in the British Cabinet were advised as to the critical situation at Haifa;

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