On the eve of this Ridván Festival marking the opening of the second decade of the second Bahá'í century, and coinciding with the termination of the first year of the World Spiritual Crusade, I hail with feelings of joy and wonder the superb feats of the heroic company of the Knights of the Lord of Hosts in pursuance of their sublime mission for the spiritual conquest of the planet. The first twelve months of this decade-long enterprise unexampled in its scope, significance and potentialities in the world's spiritual history and launched simultaneously, amidst the climax of the world-wide festivities of a memorable Holy Year, in the American, the European, the African, the Asiatic and the Australian continents, have witnessed the hoisting of the banner of the Faith of Bahá'u'lláh in no less than a hundred virgin territories of the globe. The total number of the newly opened sovereign states and dependencies comprising Principalities, Sultanates, Emirates, Sheikhdoms, Protectorates, Trust Territories and Crown Colonies, scattered over the face of the earth, represents almost seven-eighths of all the territories, exclusive of the Soviet Republics and Satellites, destined to be opened in the course of an entire decade. The northern frontiers of a divinely guided, rapidly marching, majestically expanding Faith have been pushed, in consequence of the phenomenal success recently achieved by the vanguard of Bahá'u'lláh's crusaders, beyond the Arctic Circle as far as Arctic Bay, Franklin, 73 degrees latitude. Its southern limits have now reached the Falkland Islands in the neighborhood of Magallanes, the world's southernmost city. Other outlying outposts have been established in places as far apart as Sikkim at the foot of the Himalayas, the Lofoten Islands in the heart of the European Northland, Fezzan on the northern fringe of the Sahara Desert, the Andaman Islands and the Seychelles, the penal colonies in the Indian Ocean, the three Guianas and the leper colonies on the Atlantic Coast, the Faroe and Shetland Islands, the wind-swept and inhospitable archipelagos of the North Sea, Hadhramaut on the sun-baked shores of the Arabian Peninsula, St. Helena isolated in the midst of the South Atlantic Ocean and the Gilbert Islands, the war-devastated, sparsely populated Atolls situated in the heart of the Pacific Ocean.
God's infant Faith, confined during the first nine years of its existence to its birthland and the adjoining territory of Iraq, reaching, in the course of the thirty-nine years of Bahá'u'lláh's Ministry, to thirteen other lands, enlarged, during `Abdu'l-Bahá's twenty-nine year Ministry, through the opening of twenty additional countries, only succeeded, after the lapse of three-quarters of a century, in including within its orbit thirty-five countries within both the Eastern and Western Hemispheres.
The subsequent quarter of a century, constituting the first Epoch of the Formative Age of the Bahá'í Dispensation, witnessed the planting of the banner of the Faith in over forty territories of the globe, raising the number of countries included within its pale, on the eve of the Centenary Celebrations of the Declaration of the Báb's Mission to seventy-eight. The nine-year interval separating the first from the second Bahá'í Jubilee was signalized by the spiritual conquest of no less than fifty countries of the globe, whilst the first year of the Ten Year Plan has been immortalized by the opening of one hundred countries, swelling the number of the sovereign states and dependencies enlisted under the standard of the Cause of God to two hundred and twenty-eight. All territories in North, Central and South America; all sovereign states and principalities on the continent of Europe, excluding the Russian Republics and Satellites; all territories on the Asiatic continent, with the exception of Tibet, of Bhutan and of the Soviet Republics; all the islands of the Mediterranean; all the islands of the North Sea, with the exception of Spitzbergen; all African territories with the exception of Spanish Guinea; all the islands of the North and South Atlantic Ocean except Anticosti and St. Thomas; all the islands of the Pacific Ocean except Comoro Islands, Cocos Island, Nicobar Islands, Hainan Island, Portuguese Timor, Chagos Archipelago, Loyalty Islands, Marshall Islands, Admiralty Islands, Mariana Islands, are now included within the orbit of an irresistibly unfolding, rapidly consolidating, world-girdling Administrative Order.
The number of the European, the African, the Asiatic, and the American-Indian languages, including seven supplementary languages, into which Bahá'í literature has been, and is being translated, is over forty-two, raising the total number of the translations undertaken since the inception of the Faith to one hundred and thirty.
The African Campaign, outshining the brilliant success of the enterprise launched in Latin America, throwing into shade the splendor of the victories won in recent years on the European continent, eclipsing all previous collective pioneer undertakings embarked upon in the Asiatic and Australian continents, has almost doubled, in the course of a single year, the number of territories opened since the introduction of the Faith in that continent over eighty years ago. The total number of converts to the Faith belonging to the African race has passed the six hundred mark. The total number of African Bahá'í centers has now been raised to over one hundred and ninety. The total number of the tribes indigenous to the soil of that continent represented in the Faith is now over sixty.
A single territory out of the forty-five territories already opened to the Faith in the African continent, situated in its very heart and which, a little over two years ago did not possess a single Bahá'í, now boasts of over five hundred colored converts, who are settled in over eighty localities, are drawn from thirty tribes, are provided with thirteen local Assemblies, and anticipate the immediate formation of about ten additional Assemblies. This same territory has, moreover, distinguished itself throughout the entire Bahá'í world through the dispatch of nine members of its mother Assembly for the purpose of pioneering in neighboring centers, as well as in territories situated on the eastern and western coasts of the African continent. A number of the newly-won recruits in some of these territories have, moreover, been instrumental in winning the allegiance of some of the members of their race, and have, in their turn, succeeded in opening no less than three neighboring territories in that continent.
Contact has been established with no less than twenty-two American Indian tribes, raising the total number of tribes contacted throughout the Western Hemisphere to thirty-four. The first Greenlandic, the first Pygmy, the first Berber, the first Fijian, Bahá'ís have been enrolled, swelling the number of races represented in the Bahá'í World Community to thirty-five.
The opening year of this World Spiritual Crusade has, moreover, gathered significance through the convocation first of the Stockholm, and later of the New Delhi Intercontinental Teaching Conferences, which, together with the two previous Conferences held during the first part of the Holy Year in Kampala and Wilmette, assembled a total of over thirty-four hundred followers of the Faith from more than eighty countries of both the Eastern and the Western Hemispheres and representing the principal races of mankind.
Within the confines of the Holy Land, "the Heart of the world and the Qiblih of all nations," the erection of the first base stones of the ornamental crown of the Dome of the Báb's Sepulcher which had commenced with Naw-Rúz of the Holy Year, was followed successively by the laying, during the Ridván period, of the first of the twelve thousand gilded tiles destined to cover the two-hundred and fifty square meter area of the Dome and the placing of the stone lantern which marked the consummation of the three quarters of a million dollar enterprise, and coincided with the closing period of the Year associated with the hundredth anniversary of the birth of the Mission of Bahá'u'lláh. The site for the first Mashriqu'l-Adhkár of the Holy Land has been selected--an area of approximately twenty thousand square meters--situated at the head of the Mountain of God, in close proximity to the Spot hallowed by the footsteps of Bahá'u'lláh, near the time-honored Cave of Elijah, and associated with the revelation of the Tablet of Carmel, the Charter of the World Spiritual and Administrative Centers of the Faith on that mountain. Funds totaling one hundred thousand dollars have, moreover, been contributed by one of the Hands of the Cause, residing in the Holy Land, and negotiations have been initiated with the Israeli authorities for the purpose of effecting the immediate purchase of the selected site. Measures have been undertaken and Bahá'í Continental Funds inaugurated in anticipation of the forthcoming appointment by the fifteen Hands residing outside the Holy Land of five Auxiliary Boards, one in each of the continents of the globe, the members of which will act as deputies of the Hands in their respective continents, and will aid and advise them in the effective prosecution of the Ten-Year Plan, and will assist them, at a later period, in the discharge of their dual and sacred task of safeguarding the Faith and of promoting its teaching activities. The international Bahá'í endowments, situated in the heart of Mt. Carmel, and in the plain of `Akká, already extending over an area of over three hundred and fifty thousand square meters, have been enlarged through the acquisition of properties overlooking the Resting Places of the Most Exalted Leaf and of the Purest Branch, which, when added to the plots situated on the ridge of Mt. Carmel, on its western extremity and in the close neighborhood of the Shrine built within its heart--for the acquisition of which negotiations have been set afoot--will constitute an addition of over thirty thousand square meters to the vast area of Bahá'í holdings permanently dedicated to the Shrines of the Founder of the Faith and of its Herald. The embellishment of the Haram-i-Aqdas, the outer Sanctuary of Bahá'u'lláh's Sepulcher, already accomplished in the course of the Holy Year commemorating the centenary of the birth of His prophetic Mission, has been greatly enhanced through the laying out, on both its northern and southern sides, of formal gardens, extending over an area of ten thousand square meters, providing a befitting approach to His Mansion and considerably widening the area stretching in front of His holy Sepulcher. The design of the international Bahá'í Archives, the first stately Edifice destined to usher in the establishment of the World Administrative Center of the Faith on Mt. Carmel--the Ark referred to by Bahá'u'lláh in the closing passages of His Tablet of Carmel--has been completed, and plans and drawings forwarded to Italy for the purpose of securing bids for its construction immediately after the conclusion of the necessary preliminary steps taken in the Holy Land for its forthcoming erection. Israel Branches of the British, the Persian, the Canadian and the Australian Bahá'í National Spiritual Assemblies have been legally established, recognized formally as Religious Societies by the Israeli Civil Authorities, and empowered to hold without restriction title to immovable property in any part of the country on behalf of their parent Assemblies. Contact has moreover been established with the President of Israel, its Prime Minister and five other Cabinet Ministers, as well as with the President of the Knesset, culminating in the establishment of a special Bahá'í Department in the Ministry of Religious Affairs, and in an official statement by the Head of this Ministry to Parliament emphasizing the international scope of the Faith and the importance of its World Center--a series of events that have paved the way for the forthcoming official visit, during the early days of the Ridván period, of the President of Israel, himself, to the Báb's Sepulcher on Mt. Carmel.
The site of the Siyáh-Chál--that pestilential subterranean Pit, the scene of the birth of Bahá'u'lláh's prophetic Mission, and the holiest place in the capital city of His native land--has been recently purchased, together with the surrounding area, involving an expenditure of approximately four hundred thousand dollars contributed by a Persian follower of the Faith, whilst negotiations have been initiated for the acquisition of the site of the Báb's incarceration in the mountains of Adhirbayjan. Full rights have been accorded to Bahá'í women residing in the cradle of the Faith, to participate in the membership of both national and local Bahá'í Spiritual Assemblies, removing thereby the last remaining obstacle to the enjoyment of complete equality of rights in the conduct of the administrative affairs of the Persian Bahá'í Community.
Eleven Temple Funds have been inaugurated, amounting to almost a quarter of a million dollars, for the purchase of land for future Bahá'í Temples in the Western Hemisphere, in the European, the African, the Asiatic and the Australian continents, followed by the purchase of a four-acre plot, commanding an extensive view of the Pacific Ocean and the greater portion of Greater Sydney area, and by the selection of appropriate sites outside the Cities of Frankfurt and of Panama City.
The institutions of Bahá'í National Haziratu'l-Quds in East and West, already reaching an estimated value of over a million and a half dollars, have been enhanced through the purchase and formal opening of the Haziratu'l-Quds of the Bahá'ís of Paris, destined to evolve into the national administrative headquarters of the French Bahá'í Community, and through the inauguration of National Haziratu'l-Quds Funds in Anchorage, Alaska, as well as in the capital cities of Italy and of Switzerland.
The initial landscaping of the area surrounding the Mother Temple of the West, involving an expenditure of over two hundred and fifty thousand dollars, has been completed and been followed by an appropriation of two hundred and twenty thousand dollars by the United States National Spiritual Assembly for the completion of the entire project. The nature of the first Dependency of the Mashriqu'l-Adhkár of Wilmette has been finally decided upon by the members of that same Assembly, in anticipation of its early establishment within the precincts of the Mother Temple of the West. The Local Spiritual Assemblies of San Diego, Sacramento and Fresno in California, of Tucson in Arizona, and of Oak Park in Illinois have been legally incorporated, raising the number of national and local Bahá'í incorporated Assemblies in the United States of America and in the entire Bahá'í world to sixty-three and one hundred and twenty, respectively. National Bahá'í endowments have been established in Anchorage, Alaska. The Bahá'í Assemblies of Tucson, Arizona and of Sacramento, California have been qualified to conduct legal Bahá'í marriage services. Bahá'í Holy Days have been recognized in Los Angeles, California and Castro Valley, California; Niles Township, Michigan; Seattle, Washington; Newton, Massachusetts; Prince George County, Maryland; Cleveland, Ohio; Kenosha, Wisconsin; Maywood, Illinois.
The spiritual conquest of one hundred territories of the globe, the steady rise of the embryonic World Order of the Faith, and the multiplication and consolidation of its institutions have, in the course of the opening year of this World Spiritual Crusade, been paralleled by a no less startling decline in the fortunes of the enemies of the Faith, as evidenced by the removal, by the Hand of Providence, of its arch-enemy in Persia who, for thirty years, savagely attacked its Founders and its chief Promoter, and tirelessly schemed to extinguish its light, dishonor its name and wreck its institutions, as well as by the death of two others, who, in varying degrees, demonstrated their ingratitude and infidelity to the Center of Bahá'u'lláh's Covenant.
The opening phase of this gigantic, divinely propelled, world-encircling Crusade has been triumphantly concluded. The success crowning the initial stage in its unfoldment has exceeded our fondest expectations. The most vital and spectacular objective of the Ten Year Plan has been virtually attained ere the termination of the first year of this decade-long stupendous enterprise. The second phase, now auspiciously ushered in, must witness, in all the territories of the planet, whether newly opened or not, an upsurge of activity which, in its range and intensity, will excel the exploits which have so greatly enlarged the limits, and noised abroad the fame, of the Cause of God.
The energetic and systematic prosecution of the all important teaching work both at home and abroad, designed to increase rapidly the number of the avowed and active supporters of the Faith; the preservation, at any cost, of the prizes so laboriously won in the far flung, the numerous and newly opened territories of the globe; the maintenance, by every available means, of the status of local Spiritual Assemblies already established throughout the Bahá'í world; the steady multiplication of isolated centers, of groups and of local Assemblies in order to hasten the emergence of no less than forty-eight National Spiritual Assemblies in both the Eastern and Western Hemispheres; the prompt conclusion of negotiations for the purchase of sites for future Bahá'í Temples in the American, the European, the Asiatic and the African continents; the initiation of Funds for the establishment of National Haziratu'l-Quds in the capital cities of the Sovereign States and in the chief cities of the Dependencies specifically mentioned in the Plan; the speedy fulfillment of the task undertaken for the translation and publication of Bahá'í literature in the languages allocated under that same Plan, to various National Spiritual Assemblies; the continued acquisition of Bahá'í Holy Places in Bahá'u'lláh's native land; the adoption of preparatory measures for the construction of the Mashriqu'l-Adhkars of Tihrán and of Frankfurt; the establishment of the first Dependency of the Mashriqu'l-Adhkár in Wilmette; the inauguration of National Bahá'í endowments designed to pave the way for the formation of National Spiritual Assemblies; the lending of a fresh impetus to the incorporation of local Spiritual Assemblies; the establishment of Bahá'í Publishing Trusts --these stand out as the essential objectives of the phase now unfolding before the eyes of the Bahá'í communities in the five continents of the globe.
I direct my fervent plea to all the delegates assembled at the twelve annual Bahá'í Conventions to ponder these objectives in their hearts, to dedicate themselves anew to the tasks now challenging the spirit and combined resources of the entire body of the followers of the Faith, to rouse all the communities they represent to assume a worthy share in the common and gigantic effort that must needs be exerted for the attainment of the aforementioned goals, ensuring thereby the uninterrupted progress and the ultimate consummation of the noblest collective enterprise undertaken by the followers of the Most Great Name for the propagation and the establishment of His Faith over the entire face of the planet.