unchecked, under the beneficent influence of a sympathetic regime, into channels designed to disclose to the world at large the potencies with which that Plan had been endowed. The interment of `Abdu'l-Bahá Himself within a vault of the Báb's mausoleum, enhancing still further the sacredness of that mountain; the installment of an electric plant, the first of its kind established in the city of Haifa, flooding with illumination the Grave of One Who, in His own words, had been denied even "a lighted lamp" in His fortress-prison in Ádhirbayján; the construction of three additional chambers adjoining His sepulcher, thereby completing `Abdu'l-Bahá's plan for the first unit of that Edifice; the vast extension, despite the machinations of the Covenant-breakers, of the properties surrounding that resting-place, sweeping from the ridge of Carmel down to the Templar colony nestling at its foot, and representing assets estimated at no less than four hundred thousand pounds, together with the acquisition of four tracts of land, dedicated to the Bahá'í Shrines, and situated in the plain of Akká to the north, in the district of Beersheba to the south, and in the valley of the Jordan to the east, amounting to approximately six hundred acres; the opening of a series of terraces which, as designed by `Abdu'l-Bahá, are to provide a direct approach to the Báb's Tomb from the city lying under its shadow; the beautification of its precincts through the laying out of parks and gardens, open daily to the public, and attracting tourists and residents alike to its gates--these may be regarded as the initial evidences of the marvelous expansion of the international institutions and endowments of the Faith at its world center. Of particular significance, moreover, has been the exemption granted by the Palestine High Commissioner to the entire area of land surrounding and dedicated to the Shrine of the Báb, to the school property and the archives in its vicinity, to the Western pilgrim-house situated in its neighborhood, and to such historic sites as the Mansion in Bahjí, the House of Bahá'u'lláh in Akká, and the garden of Ridván to the east of that city; the establishment, as a result of two formal applications submitted to the civil authorities, of the Palestine Branches of the American and Indian National Spiritual Assemblies, as recognized religious societies in Palestine (to be followed, for purposes of internal consolidation, by a similar incorporation of the branches of other National Spiritual Assemblies throughout the Bahá'í world); and the transfer to the Branch of the American National Spiritual Assembly, through a series of no less than thirty transactions, of properties dedicated to the Tomb of the Báb, and approximating in their aggregate fifty thousand square meters, the majority of the title-deeds
of which bear the signature of the son of the Arch-breaker of Bahá'u'lláh's Covenant in his capacity as Registrar of lands in Haifa.
Equally significant has been the founding on Mt. Carmel of two international Archives, the one adjoining the shrine of the Báb, the other in the immediate vicinity of the resting-place of the Greatest Holy Leaf, where, for the first time in Bahá'í history, priceless treasures, hitherto scattered and often hidden for safekeeping, have been collected and are now displayed to visiting pilgrims. These treasures include portraits of both the Báb and Bahá'u'lláh; personal relics such as the hair, the dust and garments of the Báb; the locks and blood of Bahá'u'lláh and such articles as His pen-case, His garments, His brocaded tájes (head dresses), the kashkúl of His Sulaymáníyyih days, His watch and His Qur'án; manuscripts and Tablets of inestimable value, some of them illuminated, such as part of the Hidden Words written in Bahá'u'lláh's own hand, the Persian Bayán, in the handwriting of Siyyid Husayn, the Báb's amanuensis, the original Tablets to the Letters of the Living penned by the Báb, and the manuscript of "Some Answered Questions." This precious collection, moreover, includes objects and effects associated with `Abdu'l-Bahá; the blood-stained garment of the Purest Branch, the ring of Quddús, the sword of Mullá Husayn, the seals of the Vazír, the father of Bahá'u'lláh, the brooch presented by the Queen of Rumania to Martha Root, the originals of the Queen's letters to her and to others, and of her tributes to the Faith, as well as no less than twenty volumes of prayers and Tablets revealed by the Founders of the Faith, authenticated and transcribed by Bahá'í Assemblies throughout the Orient, and supplementing the vast collection of their published writings.
Moreover, as a further testimony to the majestic unfoldment and progressive consolidation of the stupendous undertaking launched by Bahá'u'lláh on that holy mountain, may be mentioned the selection of a portion of the school property situated in the precincts of the Shrine of the Báb as a permanent resting-place for the Greatest Holy Leaf, the "well-beloved" sister of `Abdu'l-Bahá, the "Leaf that hath sprung" from the "Pre-existent Root," the "fragrance" of Bahá'u'lláh's "shining robe," elevated by Him to a "station such as none other woman hath surpassed," and comparable in rank to those immortal heroines such as Sarah, Ásíyih, the Virgin Mary, Fátimih and Táhirih, each of whom has outshone every member of her sex in previous Dispensations. And lastly, there should be mentioned, as a further evidence of the blessings flowing from the Divine Plan, the transfer, a few years later, to that same hallowed spot, after a separation in death of above half a
century, and notwithstanding the protests voiced by the brother and lieutenant of the arch-breaker of Bahá'u'lláh's Covenant, of the remains of the Purest Branch, the martyred son of Bahá'u'lláh, "created of the light of Bahá," the "Trust of God" and His "Treasure" in the Holy Land, and offered up by his Father as a "ransom" for the regeneration of the world and the unification of its peoples. To this same burial-ground, and on the same day the remains of the Purest Branch were interred, was transferred the body of his mother, the saintly Navváb, she to whose dire afflictions, as attested by `Abdu'l-Bahá in a Tablet, the 54th chapter of the Book of Isaiah has, in its entirety, borne witness, whose "Husband," in the words of that Prophet, is "the Lord of Hosts," whose "seed shall inherit the Gentiles," and whom Bahá'u'lláh in His Tablet, has destined to be "His consort in every one of His worlds."
The conjunction of these three resting-places, under the shadow of the Báb's own Tomb, embosomed in the heart of Carmel, facing the snow-white city across the bay of Akká, the Qiblih of the Bahá'í world, set in a garden of exquisite beauty, reinforces, if we would correctly estimate its significance, the spiritual potencies of a spot, designated by Bahá'u'lláh Himself the seat of God's throne. It marks, too, a further milestone in the road leading eventually to the establishment of that permanent world Administrative Center of the future Bahá'í Commonwealth, destined never to be separated from, and to function in the proximity of, the Spiritual Center of that Faith, in a land already revered and held sacred alike by the adherents of three of the world's outstanding religious systems.
Scarcely less significant has been the erection of the superstructure and the completion of the exterior ornamentation of the first Mashriqu'l-Adhkár of the West, the noblest of the exploits which have immortalized the services of the American Bahá'í community to the Cause of Bahá'u'lláh. Consummated through the agency of an efficiently functioning and newly established Administrative Order, this enterprise has itself immensely enhanced the prestige, consolidated the strength and expanded the subsidiary institutions of the community that made its building possible.
Conceived forty-one years ago; originating with the petition spontaneously addressed, in March 1903 to `Abdu'l-Bahá by the "House of Spirituality" of the Bahá'ís of Chicago--the first Bahá'í center established in the Western world--the members of which, inspired by the example set by the builders of the Mashriqu'l-Adhkár of Ishqábád, had appealed for permission to construct a similar Temple in
America; blessed by His approval and high commendation in a Tablet revealed by Him in June of that same year; launched by the delegates of various American Assemblies, assembled in Chicago in November, 1907, for the purpose of choosing the site of the Temple; established on a national basis through a religious corporation known as the "Bahá'í Temple Unity," which was incorporated shortly after the first American Bahá'í Convention held in that same city in March, 1909; honored through the dedication ceremony presided over by `Abdu'l-Bahá Himself when visiting that site in May, 1912, this enterprise--the crowning achievement of the Administrative Order of the Faith of Bahá'u'lláh in the first Bahá'í century--had, ever since that memorable occasion, been progressing intermittently until the time when the foundations of that Order having been firmly laid in the North American continent the American Bahá'í community was in a position to utilize the instruments which it had forged for the efficient prosecution of its task.
At the 1914 American Bahá'í Convention the purchase of the Temple property was completed. The 1920 Convention, held in New York, having been previously directed by `Abdu'l-Bahá to select the design of that Temple, chose from among a number of designs competitively submitted to it that of Louis J. Bourgeois, a French-Canadian architect, a selection that was later confirmed by `Abdu'l-Bahá Himself. The contracts for the sinking of the nine great caissons supporting the central portion of the building, extending to rock at a depth of 120 feet below the ground level, and for the construction of the basement structure, were successively awarded in December, 1920 and August, 1921. In August, 1930, in spite of the prevailing economic crisis, and during a period of unemployment unparalleled in American history, another contract, with twenty-four additional sub-contracts, for the erection of the superstructure was placed, and the work completed by May 1, 1931, on which day the first devotional service in the new structure was celebrated, coinciding with the 19th anniversary of the dedication of the grounds by `Abdu'l-Bahá. The ornamentation of the dome was started in June, 1932 and finished in January, 1934. The ornamentation of the clerestory was completed in July, 1935, and that of the gallery unit below it in November, 1938. The mainstory ornamentation was, despite the outbreak of the present war, undertaken in April, 1940, and completed in July, 1942; whilst the eighteen circular steps were placed in position by December, 1942, seventeen months in advance of the centenary celebration of the Faith, by which time the exterior of the Temple was scheduled to be finished, and forty years
after the petition of the Chicago believers had been submitted to and granted by `Abdu'l-Bahá.
This unique edifice, the first fruit of a slowly maturing Administrative Order, the noblest structure reared in the first Bahá'í century, and the symbol and precursor of a future world civilization, is situated in the heart of the North American continent, on the western shore of Lake Michigan, and is surrounded by its own grounds comprising a little less than seven acres. It has been financed, at cost of over a million dollars, by the American Bahá'í community, assisted at times by voluntary contributions of recognized believers in East and West, of Christian, of Muslim, of Jewish, of Zoroastrian, of Hindu and Buddhist extraction. It has been associated, in its initial phase, with `Abdu'l-Bahá, and in the concluding stages of its construction with the memory of the Greatest Holy Leaf, the Purest Branch, and their mother. The structure itself is a pure white nonagonal building, of original and unique design, rising from a flight of white stairs encircling its base; and surmounted by a majestic and beautifully proportioned dome, bearing nine tapering symmetrically placed ribs of decorative as well as structural significance, which soar to its apex and finally merge into a common unit pointing skyward. Its framework is constructed of structural steel enclosed in concrete, the material of its ornamentation consisting of a combination of crystalline quartz, opaque quartz and white Portland cement, producing a composition clear in texture, hard and enduring as stone, impervious to the elements, and cast into a design as delicate as lace. It soars 191 feet from the floor of its basement to the culmination of the ribs, clasping the hemispherical dome which is forty-nine feet high, with an external diameter of ninety feet, and one-third of the surface of which is perforated to admit light during the day and emit light at night. It is buttressed by pylons forty-five feet in height, and bears above its nine entrances, one of which faces Akká, nine selected quotations from the writings of Bahá'u'lláh, as well as the Greatest Name in the center of each of the arches over its doors. It is consecrated exclusively to worship, devoid of all ceremony and ritual, is provided with an auditorium which can seat 1600 people, and is to be supplemented by accessory institutions of social service to be established in its vicinity, such as an orphanage, a hospital, a dispensary for the poor, a home for the incapacitated, a hostel for travelers and a college for the study of arts and sciences. It had already, long before its construction, evoked, and is now increasingly evoking, though its interior ornamentation is as yet unbegun, such interest and comment, in the public press, in technical journals and in magazines,
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