With high hopes and a joyful heart I acclaim the convocation, in the leading city of the Indian subcontinent, of the fourth and last of the Intercontinental Teaching Conferences of a memorable Holy Year commemorating the centenary of the birth of the prophetic Mission of Bahá'u'lláh.
On this historic occasion, when the members of the National Spiritual Assemblies of the Bahá'ís of the United States of America, of the Dominion of Canada, of Central and South America, of Persia, of the Indian subcontinent and of Burma, of Iraq and of Australasia, as well as representatives of the sovereign states and dependencies of the Asiatic continent, of the republics of North, Central and South America, and of Australia, New Zealand and Tasmania are assembled, and are to deliberate on the needs and requirements of the recently launched triple campaign embracing the Asiatic mainland, the Australian continent and the islands of the Pacific Ocean--a campaign which may well be regarded as the most extensive, the most arduous and the most momentous of all the campaigns of a world-girdling Crusade, and which, in its scope, is unparalleled in the history of the Faith in the entire Eastern Hemisphere-- my thoughts, on such an occasion, go back to the early dawn of our Faith, to those unforgettable scenes of matchless heroism, of dark tragedy, of imperishable glory which heralded its birth, and accompanied the spread of its infant light in the heart of the Asiatic continent.
I vividly recall the meteoric rise of the Faith of the Báb in the provinces of Persia and the stirring episodes associated with His cruel incarceration in the mountain-fastnesses of Adhirbayjan, with the revelation of the laws of His Dispensation, with the proclamation of the independence of His Faith, with the peerless heroism of His disciples, with the fiendish cruelty of His foes--the chief magistrate, the civil authorities, the ecclesiastical dignitaries and the masses of the people of His native land--with the humiliation, the spoliation, the dispersal, the eventual massacre of a vast number of His followers, and, above all, with His own execution in the city of Tabriz.
EARLY STAGES OF Bahá'u'lláh'S FAITH
With a throb of wonder I call to mind the early and sudden fruition of His Dispensation in the capital city of that land, and the dramatic circumstances attending the birth of Bahá'u'lláh's Revelation culminating in His precipitate banishment to Iraq.
I am reminded, moreover, of the initial spread of the light of this revelation, in consequence of the banishment of Bahá'u'lláh, to the adjoining territories of Iraq, and, as far as the western fringes of that continent, to Turkey and the neighboring territories of Lebanon, Jordan and Syria, and, at a later stage, to the Indian subcontinent and China, situated on the southern and eastern extremities of that continent as well as to the Caucasus and Russian Turkistan.
Nor can I fail to remember the series of alternating crises and victories, each constituting a landmark in the evolution of the Faith-- which it has experienced in some of these territories, associated with the distressful withdrawal of its Author to the mountains of &Sulamaniyyih; with the glorious declaration of His Mission in Baghdád; with His second and third banishments to Constantinople and Adrianople; with the grievous rebellion of His half-brother; with the proclamation of His own Mission; with His fourth banishment to the desolate and far-off penal colony of `Akká in Syria; with the revelation of the Kitáb-i-Aqdas, His Most Holy Book; with His ascension in the Holy Land; with the establishment of His Covenant and the inauguration of the ministry of `Abdu'l-Bahá, His son and the Exemplar and authorized Interpreter of His teachings.
These opening stages in the evolution of His Faith in the Asiatic continent were followed, while the first and Apostolic Age of His Dispensation was drawing to a close, by the opening of the islands situated in the Pacific Ocean, Japan in the north, and the Australian continent in the south. To these memorable chapters of Asian Bahá'í history another was soon added, on the morrow of the ascension of the Center of Bahá'u'lláh's Covenant, and during the initial epoch of the Formative Age of the Faith, distinguished by the rise of the Administrative Order and the erection of its pillars in the cradle of that Faith, in Iraq, in India, Pakistan and Burma and in the Antipodes. This memorable episode in its development in that vast continent was succeeded by the initiation, during the second epoch of that same Age, of a series of plans in those same territories in support of `Abdu'l-Bahá's Divine Plan and as a prelude to the opening of the recently launched world-embracing Spiritual Crusade.
ASIA'S HOUR IN THE GLOBAL CRUSADE
The hour has now struck for this continent, on whose soil, more than a century ago, so much sacred blood was shed, in whose very heart deeds of such tragic heroism were performed, and in many of whose territories such brilliant victories have been won, to contribute, in association with its sister continents, to the progress and ultimate triumph of this global Crusade, in a manner befitting its unrivaled position in the entire Bahá'í world.
The various Bahá'í communities dwelling within the borders of this continent and those situated to the south of its shores in the Antipodes, which include the oldest and most venerable among all the communities of the Bahá'í world, and whose members in their aggregate constitute the overwhelming majority of the followers of Bahá'u'lláh, are called upon, in close association with four other Bahá'í communities in the Western Hemisphere, to undertake in the course of the coming decade:
First, the construction of the first Mashriqu'l-Adhkár in Bahá'u'lláh's native land, in the city of Tihrán, surnamed by Bahá'u'lláh "Mother of the World."
Second, the purchase of land for the future construction of three &Mashriqu'l-Adhkars, one in the city of Baghdád, enshrining the "Most Great House," the third holiest city of the Bahá'í world, one in New Delhi, the leading city of the Indian subcontinent, and the third in Sydney, the oldest and foremost Bahá'í center in the Antipodes.
Third, the formation of no less than eleven national spiritual assemblies, one each in Pakistan, Burma and Ceylon, under the aegis of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of India, &Pakistan and Burma; one in Turkey and one in Afghanistan, under the aegis of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of Persia; one in Japan, under the aegis of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the United States of America; one in New Zealand, under the aegis of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of Australia and New Zealand, as well as four regional national spiritual assemblies, one in the Arabian Peninsula, under the aegis of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of Persia; one in southeast Asia, under the aegis of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of India, Pakistan and Burma; a third in the South Pacific, under the aegis of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the United States of America; and a fourth in the Near East, under the aegis of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of Iraq.
Fourth, the opening of the following forty-one virgin territories and islands: Andaman Islands, Bhutan, Daman, Diu, Goa, Karikal, &Mahe, Mariana Islands, Nicobar Islands, Pondicherry, Sikkim, assigned to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of India, &Pakistan and Burma; Caroline Islands, Dutch New Guinea, Hainan Island, Kazakhstan, Macao Island, Sakhalin Island, Tibet, Tonga Islands, assigned to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the United States of America; Brunei, Chagos Archipelago, Kirgizia, Mongolia, Solomon Islands, Tadzhikistan, Uzbekistan, assigned to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of Persia; Admiralty Islands, Cocos Island, Loyalty Islands, Mentawei Islands, New Hebrides Islands, Portuguese Timor, Society Islands, assigned to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of Australia and New Zealand; Gilbert and Ellice Islands, Marshall Islands, Tuamotu Archipelago, assigned to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of Central America; Hadhramaut, Kuria-Muria Islands, assigned to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of &Iraq; Marquesas Islands, Samoa Islands, assigned to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of Canada; Cook Islands, assigned to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of South America.
Fifth, the translation and publication of Bahá'í literature in the following forty languages, to be undertaken by the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of India, Pakistan and Burma, in association with the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of Australia and New Zealand: Abor Miri, Aneityum, Annamese, Balochi, Bentuni, Binandere, Cheremiss, Chungchia, Georgian, Houailou, Javanese, Kado, Kaili, Kopu, Kusaie, Lepcha, Lifu, Manchu, Manipuri, Manus Island, Marquesas, Mentawei, Mongolian, Mordoff, Mwala, Na-Hsi, Nicobarese, Niue, Ossete, Ostiak, Pali, Panjabi, Pashto, Perm, Petats, Samoan, Tho, Tibetan, Tongan, Vogul.
Sixth, the consolidation of Aden Protectorate, Adhirbayjan, &Afghanistan, Ahsa, Armenia, Bahrein Island, Georgia, Hijaz, Saudi-Arabia, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Yemen, allocated to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of Persia; of Baluchistan, Borneo, Burma, Ceylon, Indo-China, Indonesia, Malaya, Nepal, Pakistan, Sarawak, Siam, allocated to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of India, Pakistan and Burma; of China, Formosa, Japan, Korea, Manchuria, Philippine Islands, allocated to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the United States of America; of Jordan, Kuweit, Lebanon, Qatar, Syria, Trucial Sheikhs, Umman, allocated to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of &Iraq; of Bismarck Archipelago, Fiji, New Caledonia, Australian New Guinea, allocated to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of Australia and New Zealand; of Hong Kong, allocated to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the British Isles.
Seventh, the incorporation of the eleven above-mentioned national spiritual assemblies, as well as those of Persia and Iraq.
Eighth, the establishment by these above-mentioned eleven national spiritual assemblies of national Bahá'í endowments.
Ninth, the establishment of a national Haziratu'l-Quds in the capital cities of each of the countries where national spiritual assemblies are to be established, as well as one in Suva, one in Jakarta, one in Bahrein and one in Beirut.
Tenth, the establishment of a national Bahá'í Court in the capital cities of Persia, of Iraq, of Pakistan and of Afghanistan--the leading Muslim centers in the Asiatic continent.
Eleventh, the establishment of two national Bahá'í Publishing Trusts, one in Tihrán and one in New Delhi.
Twelfth, the formation of Israel branches of the National Spiritual Assemblies of the Bahá'ís of Persia, of Iraq, and of Australia, authorized to hold on behalf of their parent institutions property dedicated to the holy shrines at the World Center of the Faith in the state of Israel.
Thirteenth, the appointment, during Ridván 1954, by the Hands of the Cause in Asia and in Australia of an Auxiliary Board of nine members who will, in conjunction with the eight national spiritual assemblies participating in the Asiatic and Australian campaigns, assist, through periodic and systematic visits to Bahá'í centers, in the efficient and prompt execution of the plans formulated for the prosecution of the teaching campaigns in the continent of Asia and in the Antipodes.
ON THE THRESHOLD OF A NEW SPIRITUAL ERA
The Asiatic continent, the cradle of the principal religions of mankind; the home of so many of the oldest and mightiest civilizations which have flourished on this planet; the crossways of so many kindreds and races; the battleground of so many peoples and nations; above whose horizons, in modern times, the suns of two independent revelations--the promise and consummation of a six thousand year old religious cycle--have successively arisen; where the Authors of both of these revelations suffered banishment and died; within whose confines the Center of a divinely appointed Covenant was born, endured a forty-year incarceration and passed away; on whose western extremity the Qiblih of the Bahá'í world has been definitely established; in whose heart the city proclaimed by Bahá'u'lláh as the "Mother of the World" is enshrined; within whose borders another city regarded as the "cynosure of an adoring world" and the scene of the greatest and most glorious revelation the world has witnessed is embosomed; on whose soil so many saints, heroes and martyrs, associated with both of these revelations, have lived, struggled and died --such a continent, so privileged among its sister continents and yet so long and so sadly tormented, now stands at the hour of the launching of a world-encompassing Crusade, on the threshold of an era that may well recall, in its glory and ultimate repercussions, the great periods of spiritual revival which, from the dawn of recorded history have, at various stages in the revelation of God's purpose for mankind, illuminated the path of the human race.
May this Crusade, launched simultaneously on the Asiatic mainland, its neighboring islands and the Antipodes, under the direction of eight national spiritual assemblies, and through the operation of eight systematic teaching plans, and the concerted efforts of Bahá'í communities in both the East and the West, provide, as it unfolds, an effective antidote to the baneful forces of atheism, nationalism, secularism and materialism that are tearing at the vitals of this turbulent continent, and may it re-enact those scenes of spiritual heroism which, more than any of the secular revolutions which have agitated its face, have left their everlasting imprint on the fortunes of the peoples and nations dwelling within its borders.