The Universal CyclesIscander Micael Tinto
Question. – What is the real explanation of the cycles which occur in the world of existence? Answer.–Each one of the luminous bodies in this limitless firmament has a cycle of revolution which is of a different duration, and every one revolves in its own orbit, and again begins a new cycle. So the earth, every three hundred and sixty-five days, five hours, forty-eight minutes and a fraction, completes a revolution; and then it begins a new cycle–that is to say, the first cycle is again renewed. In the same way, for the whole universe, whether for the heavens or for men, there are cycles of great events, of important facts and occurrences. When a cycle is ended, a new cycle begins; and the old one, on account of the great events which take place, is completely forgotten, and not a trace or record of it will remain. As you see, we have no records of twenty thousand years ago, although we have before proved by argument that life on this earth is very ancient. It is not one hundred thousand, or two hundred thousand, or one million or two million years old; it is very ancient, and the ancient records and traces are entirely obliterated. Each of the Divine Manifestations has likewise a cycle, and during the cycle His laws and commandments prevail and are performed. When His cycle is completed by the appearance of a new Manifestation, a new cycle begins. In this way cycles begin, end and are renewed, until a universal cycle is completed in the world, when important events and great occurrences will take place which entirely efface every trace and every record of the past; then a new universal cycle begins in the world, for this universe has no beginning. We have before stated proofs and evidences concerning this subject; there is no need of repetition. Briefly, we say a universal cycle in the world of existence signifies a long duration of time, and innumerable and incalculable periods and epochs. In such a cycle the Manifestations appear with splendor in the realm of the visible until a great and supreme Manifestation makes the world the center of His radiance. His appearance causes the world to attain to maturity, and the extension of His cycle is very great. Afterward, other Manifestations will arise under His shadow, Who according to the needs of the time will renew certain commandments relating to material questions and affairs, while remaining under His shadow. We are in the cycle which began with Adam, and its supreme Manifestation is Bahá’u’lláh. (Abdu’l-Baha’, Some Answered Questions, pp.160-161)
THE UNIVERSAL CYCLE OF BAHA’U’LLAH (500.000 YEARS)
…a Dispensation which, as the Author of the Faith has Himself categorically asserted, must extend over a period of no less than one thousand years, and which will constitute the first stage in a series of Dispensations, to be established by future Manifestations, all deriving their inspiration from the Author of the Bahá’í Revelation, and destined to last, in their aggregate, no less than five thousand centuries. (Shoghi Effendi, Citadel of Faith p.5)
THE FIRST PART OF THE MAJESTIC PROCESS (4000 B.C.)
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. (Shoghi Effendi, Messages to the Baha’i World, p.154, see also Citadel of Faith p.82)
BEGINNING OF THE ADAMIC OR PROPHETIC CYCLE
The Faith of Bahá’u’lláh should indeed be regarded, if we wish to be faithful to the tremendous implications of its message, as the culmination of a cycle, the final stage in a series of successive, of preliminary and progressive revelations. These, beginning with Adam and ending with the Báb, have paved the way and anticipated with an ever-increasing emphasis the advent of that Day of Days in which He Who is the Promise of All Ages should be made manifest. (Shoghi Effendi, World Order of Baha’u’llah, p.103) It is evident that every age in which a Manifestation of God hath lived is divinely-ordained, and may, in a sense, be characterized as God’s appointed Day. This Day, however, is unique, and is to be distinguished from those that have preceded it. The designation `Seal of the Prophets’ fully revealeth its high station. The Prophetic Cycle hath verily ended. The Eternal Truth is now come. He hath lifted up the ensign of power, and is now shedding upon the world the unclouded splendor of His Revelation. (Baha’u’llah, cited in World Order p.167)
SHAYKH AHMAD AND SIYYID KAZIM: TWIN RESPLENDENT LIGHTS
Likewise, there appeared on earth Ahmad and Kázim, those twin resplendent lights–may God sanctify their resting-place! (Baha’u’llah, Kitab-i-Iqan p.65)
THE DISPENSATION OF BAHA’U’LLAH (1.000 YEARS)
Briefly, we say a universal cycle in the world of existence signifies a long duration of time, and innumerable and incalculable periods and epochs. In such a cycle the Manifestations appear with splendor in the realm of the visible until a great and supreme Manifestation makes the world the center of His radiance. His appearance causes the world to attain to maturity, and the extension of His cycle is very great. Afterward, other Manifestations will arise under His shadow, Who according to the needs of the time will renew certain commandments relating to material questions and affairs, while remaining under His shadow. We are in the cycle which began with Adam, and its supreme Manifestation is Bahá’u’lláh. (Abdu’l-Baha’, Some Answered Questions, pp.160-161)
THE COMING OF AGE OF THE ENTIRE HUMAN RACE
The Revelation of Bahá’u’lláh, whose supreme mission is none other but the achievement of this organic and spiritual unity of the whole body of nations, should, if we be faithful to its implications, be regarded as signalizing through its advent the coming of age of the entire human race. (Shoghi Effendi, World Order of Baha’u’llah p.163)
FOUR PROGRESSIVE STAGES IN A SINGLE EVOLUTIONARY PROCESS
The first period (1844-1853), centers around the gentle, the youthful and irresistible person of the Báb, matchless in His meekness, imperturbable in His serenity, magnetic in His utterance, unrivaled in the dramatic episodes of His swift and tragic ministry. It begins with the Declaration of His Mission, culminates in His martyrdom, and ends in a véritable orgy of religious massacre revolting in its hideousness. It is characterized by nine years of fierce and relentless contest, whose theatre was the whole of Persia, in which above ten thousand heroes laid down their lives, in which two sovereigns of the Qájár dynasty and their wicked ministers participated, and which was supported by the entire Shí’ah ecclesiastical hierarchy, by the military resources of the state, and by the implacable hostility of the masses. The second period (1853-1892) derives its inspiration from the august figure of Bahá’u’lláh, preeminent in holiness, awesome in the majesty of His strength and power, unapproachable in the transcendent brightness of His glory. It opens with the first stirrings, in the soul of Bahá’u’lláh while in the Síyáh-Chál of Tihrán, of the Revelation anticipated by the Báb, attains its plenitude in the proclamation of that Revelation to the kings and ecclesiastical leaders of the earth, and terminates in the ascension of its Author in the vicinity of the prison-town of Akká. It extends over thirty-nine years of continuous, of unprecedented and overpowering Revelation, is marked by the propagation of the Faith to the neighboring territories of Turkey, of Russia, of Iraq, of Syria, of Egypt and of India, and is distinguished by a corresponding aggravation of hostility, represented by the united attacks launched by the Sháh of Persia and the Sultán of Turkey, the two admittedly most powerful potentates of the East, as well as by the opposition of the twin sacerdotal orders of Shí’ah and Sunní Islám. The third period (1892-1921) revolves around the vibrant personality of `Abdu’l-Bahá, mysterious in His essence, unique in His station, astoundingly potent in both the charm and strength of His character. It commences with the announcement of the Covenant of Bahá’u’lláh, a document without parallel in the history of any earlier Dispensation, attains its climax in the emphatic assertion by the Center of that Covenant, in the City of the Covenant, of the unique character and far-reaching implications of that Document, and closes with His passing and the interment of His remains on Mt. Carmel. It will go down in history as a period of almost thirty years’ duration, in which tragedies and triumphs have been so intertwined as to eclipse at one time the Orb of the Covenant, and at another time to pour forth its light over the continent of Europe, and as far as Australasia, the Far East and the North American continent. The fourth period (1921-1944) is motivated by the forces radiating from the Will and Testament of `Abdu’l-Bahá, that Charter of Bahá’u’lláh’s New World Order, the offspring resulting from the mystic intercourse between Him Who is the Source of the Law of God and the mind of the One Who is the vehicle and interpreter of that Law. The inception of this fourth, this last period of the first Bahá’í century synchronizes with the birth of the Formative Age of the Bahá’í Era, with the founding of the Administrative Order of the Faith of Bahá’u’lláh–a system which is at once the harbinger, the nucleus and pattern of His World Order. This period, covering the first twenty-three years of this Formative Age, has already been distinguished by an outburst of further hostility, of a different character, accelerating on the one hand the diffusion of the Faith over a still wider area in each of the five continents of the globe, and resulting on the other in the emancipation and the recognition of the independent status of several communities within its pale. These four periods are to be regarded not only as the component, the inseparable parts of one stupendous whole, but as progressive stages in a single evolutionary process, vast, steady and irresistible. (Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By pp.xiv-xv)
THE HEROIC AGE (Citadel of Faith p.4) THE APOSTOLIC AGE (Citadel of Faith p.4) THE PRIMITIVE AGE (Citadel of Faith p.5) FIRST AND CREATIVE AGE (World Order p.143, God Passes By p.xiii) FIRST EPOCH OF THE HEROIC AGE (9 YEARS) (Citadel of Faith p.5)
23 MAY 1844 THE DECLARATION OF THE BAB’S MISSION
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 Shíráz. (Shoghi Effendi, Messages to the Baha’i World p.154) The embryonic Faith, maturing three years after His martyrdom, traversing the period of infancy in the course of the Heroic Age of the Faith is now steadily progressing towards maturity in the present Formative Age, destined to attain full stature in the Golden Age of the Bahá’í Dispensation. (Shoghi Effendi, Citadel of Faith p.82) 9 JULY 1850 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 Tabríz. (Shoghi Effendi, Messages to the Baha’i World p.154)
SEVEN STAGES OF BAHA’I DEVELOPMENT
…to enable a sore-tried Faith to pass through the successive stages of unmitigated obscurity, of active repression, and of complete emancipation, leading in turn to its being acknowledged as an independent Faith, enjoying the status of full equality with its sister religions, to be followed by its establishment and recognition as a State religion, which in turn must give way to its assumption of the rights and prerogatives associated with the Bahá’í state, functioning in the plenitude of its powers, a stage which must ultimately culminate in the emergence of the worldwide Bahá’í Commonwealth, animated wholly by the spirit, and operating solely in direct conformity with the laws and principles of Bahá’u’lláh. (Shoghi Effendi, The Advent of Divine Justice, p.15) This present Crusade, on the threshold of which we now stand, will, moreover, by virtue of the dynamic forces it will release and its wide repercussions over the entire surface of the globe, contribute effectually to the acceleration of yet another process of tremendous significance which will carry the steadily evolving Faith of Bahá’u’lláh through its present stages of obscurity, of repression, of emancipation and of recognition–stages one or another of which Bahá’í national communities in various parts of the world now find themselves in–to the stage of establishment, the stage at which the Faith of Bahá’u’lláh will be recognized by the civil authorities as the state religion, similar to that which Christianity entered in the years following the death of the Emperor Constantine, a stage which must later be followed by the emergence of the Bahá’í state itself, functioning, in all religious and civil matters, in strict accordance with the laws and ordinances of the Kitáb-i-Aqdas, the Most Holy, the Mother-Book of the Bahá’í Revelation, a stage which, in the fullness of time, will culminate in the establishment of the World Bahá’í Commonwealth, functioning in the plenitude of its powers, and which will signalize the long-awaited advent of the Christ-promised Kingdom of God on earth–the Kingdom of Bahá’u’lláh–mirroring however faintly upon this humble handful of dust the glories of the Abhá Kingdom. (Shoghi Effendi, Messages to the Baha’i World p.155)
SEVEN STAGES OF BAHA’I DEVELOPMENT: A SUMMARY
OCTOBER – DECEMBER 1852
The fourth part was the ignition of this oil by the hand of Providence in the depths and amidst the darkness of the Síyáh-Chál of Tihrán a hundred years ago. (Shoghi Effendi, Messages to the Baha’i World p.154)
21 APRIL 1863
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 Baghdád. (Shoghi Effendi, Messages to the Baha’i World p.154) 1864 – 1892 The sixth, was the spread of the radiance of that light, shining with added brilliancy in its crystal globe in Adrianople, and later on in the fortress town of Akká, to thirteen countries in the Asiatic and African continents. (Shoghi Effendi, Messages to the Baha’i World p.154) “Light is like a niche in which is a lamp – the lamp encased in glass – the glass, as it were, a glistering star. From a blessed tree it is lighted, the olive neither of the East nor of the West, whose oil would well nigh shine out, even though fire touched it not.” (Qur’an 24:35)
1873 REVELATION OF THE KITAB-I-AQDAS
It is with that self-same Order that the Founder of the promised Revelation, twenty years later–incorporating that same term in His Kitáb-i-Aqdas–identified the System envisaged in that Book, affirming that “this most great Order” had deranged the world’s equilibrium, and revolutionized mankind’s ordered life. It is the features of that self-same Order which, at a later stage in the evolution of the Faith, the Center of Bahá’u’lláh’s Covenant and the appointed Interpreter of His teachings, delineated through the provisions of His Will and Testament. It is the structural basis of that self-same Order which, in the Formative Age of that same Faith, the stewards of that same Covenant, the elected representatives of the world-wide Bahá’í community, are now laboriously and unitedly establishing. It is the superstructure of that self-same Order, attaining its full stature through the emergence of the Bahá’í World Commonwealth–the Kingdom of God on earth–which the Golden Age of that same Dispensation must, in the fullness of time, ultimately witness. (Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By, pp.25-26) Unique and stupendous as was this Proclamation, it proved to be but a prelude to a still mightier revelation of the creative power of its Author, and to what may well rank as the most signal act of His ministry–the promulgation of the Kitáb-i-Aqdas. Alluded to in the Kitáb-i-Iqán; the principal repository of that Law which the Prophet Isaiah had anticipated, and which the writer of the Apocalypse had described as the “new heaven” and the “new earth,” as “the Tabernacle of God,” as the “Holy City,” as the “Bride,” the “New Jerusalem coming down from God,” this “Most Holy Book,” whose provisions must remain inviolate for no less than a thousand years, and whose system will embrace the entire planet, may well be regarded as the brightest emanation of the mind of Bahá’u’lláh, as the Mother Book of His Dispensation, and the Charter of His New World Order. (Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By, p.213) Upon the answer given to these challenging questions will, in a great measure, depend the success of the efforts which believers in every land are now exerting for the establishment of God’s kingdom upon the earth. Few will fail to recognize that the Spirit breathed by Bahá’u’lláh upon the world, and which is manifesting itself with varying degrees of intensity through the efforts consciously displayed by His avowed supporters and indirectly through certain humanitarian organizations, can never permeate and exercise an abiding influence upon mankind unless and until it incarnates itself in a visible Order, which would bear His name, wholly identify itself with His principles, and function in conformity with His laws. That Bahá’u’lláh in His Book of Aqdas, and later `Abdu’l-Bahá in His Will–a document which confirms, supplements, and correlates the provisions of the Aqdas–have set forth in their entirety those essential elements for the constitution of the world Bahá’í Commonwealth, no one who has read them will deny. According to these divinely-ordained administrative principles, the Dispensation of Bahá’u’lláh–the Ark of human salvation–must needs be modeled. From them, all future blessings must flow, and upon them its inviolable authority must ultimately rest. (Shoghi Effendi, The World Order of Baha’u’llah p.19)
1890 THREE CHARTERS: THREE DISTINCT PROCESSES
It is indeed my fervent and constant prayer that the members of this firmly-knit, intensely alive, world-embracing Community, spurred on by the triple impulse generated through the revelation of the Tablet of Carmel by Bahá’u’lláh and the Will and Testament as well as the Tablets of the Divine Plan bequeathed by the Center of His Covenant–the three Charters which have set in motion three distinct processes, the first operating in the Holy Land for the development of the institutions of the Faith at its World Center and the other two, throughout the rest of the Bahá’í world, for its propagation and the establishment of its Administrative Order– may advance from strength to strength and victory to victory. May they hasten, by their present exertions, the advent of that blissful consummation when the shackles hampering the growth of their beloved Faith will have been finally burst asunder, when its independent status will have been officially and universally recognized, when it will have ascended the throne and wielded the scepter of spiritual and temporal authority, when the brightness of its glory will have illuminated the whole earth, and its dominion will have been established over the entire planet. (Shoghi Effendi, Messages to the Baha’i World pp.84-85)
REVELATION OF THE KITAB-I-AHD
To direct and canalize these forces let loose by this Heaven-sent process, and to insure their harmonious and continuous operation after His ascension, an instrument divinely ordained, invested with indisputable authority, organically linked with the Author of the Revelation Himself, was clearly indispensable. That instrument Bahá’u’lláh had expressly provided through the institution of the Covenant, an institution which He had firmly established prior to His ascension. This same Covenant He had anticipated in His Kitáb-i-Aqdas, had alluded to it as He bade His last farewell to the members of His family, who had been summoned to His bed-side, in the days immediately preceding His ascension, and had incorporated it in a special document which He designated as “the Book of My Covenant,” and which He entrusted, during His last illness, to His eldest son `Abdu’l-Bahá. Written entirely in His own hand; unsealed, on the ninth day after His ascension in the presence of nine witnesses chosen from amongst His companions and members of His Family; read subsequently, on the afternoon of that same day, before a large company assembled in His Most Holy Tomb, including His sons, some of the Báb’s kinsmen, pilgrims and resident believers, this unique and epoch-making Document, designated by Bahá’u’lláh as His “Most Great Tablet,” and alluded to by Him as the “Crimson Book” in His “Epistle to the Son of the Wolf,” can find no parallel in the Scriptures of any previous Dispensation, not excluding that of the Báb Himself. For nowhere in the books pertaining to any of the world’s religious systems, not even among the writings of the Author of the Bábí Revelation, do we find any single document establishing a Covenant endowed with an authority comparable to the Covenant which Bahá’u’lláh had Himself instituted. (Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By pp.237-238)
29 MAY 1892: THE ASCENSION OF BAHA’U’LLAH
Already nine months before His ascension Bahá’u’lláh, as attested by `Abdu’l-Bahá, had voiced His desire to depart from this world. From that time onward it became increasingly evident, from the tone of His remarks to those who attained His presence, that the close of His earthly life was approaching, though He refrained from mentioning it openly to any one. On the night preceding the eleventh of Shavval 1309 A.H. (May 8, 1892) He contracted a slight fever which, though it mounted the following day, soon after subsided. He continued to grant interviews to certain of the friends and pilgrims, but it soon became evident that He was not well. His fever returned in a more acute form than before, His general condition grew steadily worse, complications ensued which at last culminated in His ascension, at the hour of dawn, on the 2nd of Dhi’l-Qádih 1309 A.H. (May 29, 1892), eight hours after sunset, in the 75th year of His age. His spirit, at long last released from the toils of a life crowded with tribulations, had winged its flight to His “other dominions,” dominions “whereon the eyes of the people of names have never fallen,” and to which the “Luminous Maid,” “clad in white,” had bidden Him hasten, as described by Himself in the Lawh-i-Ru’yá (Tablet of the Vision), revealed nineteen years previously, on the anniversary of the birth of His Forerunner. (Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By p.221)
MINISTRY OF ABDU’L-BAHA: 1892-1921
The seventh was its projection, from the Most Great Prison, in the course of the ministry of the Center of the Covenant, across the seas and the shedding of its illumination upon twenty sovereign states and dependencies in the American, the European, and Australian continents. (Shoghi Effendi, Messages to the Baha’i World p.154)
ENTOMBMENT OF THE BAB’S REMAINS ON MOUNT CARMEL
`Abdu’l-Bahá’s unexpected and dramatic release from His forty-year confinement dealt a blow to the ambitions cherished by the Covenant-breakers as devastating as that which, a decade before, had shattered their hopes of undermining His authority and of ousting Him from His God-given position. Now, on the very morrow of His triumphant liberation a third blow befell them as stunning as those which preceded it and hardly less spectacular than they. Within a few months of the historic decree which set Him free, in the very year that witnessed the downfall of Sultán `Abdu’l-Hamíd, that same power from on high which had enabled `Abdu’l-Bahá to preserve inviolate the rights divinely conferred on Him, to establish His Father’s Faith in the North American continent, and to triumph over His royal oppressor, enabled Him to achieve one of the most signal acts of His ministry: the removal of the Báb’s remains from their place of concealment in Tihrán to Mt. Carmel. He Himself testified, on more than one occasion, that the safe transfer of these remains, the construction of a befitting mausoleum to receive them, and their final interment with His own hands in their permanent resting-place constituted one of the three principal objectives which, ever since the inception of His mission, He had conceived it His paramount duty to achieve. This act indeed deserves to rank as one of the outstanding events in the first Bahá’í century. As observed in a previous chapter the mangled bodies of the Báb and His fellow-martyr, Mírzá Muhammad-`Alí, were removed, in the middle of the second night following their execution, through the pious intervention of Hájí Sulaymán Khán, from the edge of the moat where they had been cast to a silk factory owned by one of the believers of Milán, and were laid the next day in a wooden casket, and thence carried to a place of safety. Subsequently, according to Bahá’u’lláh’s instructions, they were transported to Tihrán and placed in the shrine of Imám-Zádih Hasan. They were later removed to the residence of Hájí Sulaymán Khán himself in the Sar-Chashmih quarter of the city, and from his house were taken to the shrine of Imám-Zádih Ma’súm, where they remained concealed until the year 1284 A.H. (1867-1868), when a Tablet, revealed by Bahá’u’lláh in Adrianople, directed Mullá `Alí-Akbar-i-Sháhmírzádí and Jamál-i-Burújirdí to transfer them without delay to some other spot, an instruction which, in view of the subsequent reconstruction of that shrine, proved to have been providential. Unable to find a suitable place in the suburb of Sháh `Abdu’l-`Azím, Mullá `Alí-Akbar and his companion continued their search until, on the road leading to Chashmih-`Alí, they came upon the abandoned and dilapidated Masjid-i-Mashá’u’lláh, where they deposited, within one of its walls, after dark, their precious burden, having first re-wrapt the remains in a silken shroud brought by them for that purpose. Finding the next day to their consternation that the hiding-place had been discovered, they clandestinely carried the casket through the gate of the capital direct to the house of Mírzá Hasan-i-Vazír, a believer and son-in-law of Hájí Mírzá Siyyid Alíy-i-Tafríshí, the Majdu’l-Ashraf, where it remained for no less than fourteen months. The long-guarded secret of its whereabouts becoming known to the believers, they began to visit the house in such numbers that a communication had to be addressed by Mullá `Alí-Akbar to Bahá’u’lláh, begging for guidance in the matter. Hájí Sháh Muhammad-i-Manshadí, surnamed Amínu’l-Bayán, was accordingly commissioned to receive the Trust from him, and bidden to exercise the utmost secrecy as to its disposal. Assisted by another believer, Hájí Sháh Muhammad buried the casket beneath the floor of the inner sanctuary of the shrine of Imám-Zádih Zayd, where it lay undetected until Mírzá Asadu’lláh-i-Isfahání was informed of its exact location through a chart forwarded to him by Bahá’u’lláh. Instructed by Bahá’u’lláh to conceal it elsewhere, he first removed the remains to his own house in Tihrán, after which they were deposited in several other localities such as the house of Husayn-`Alíy-i-Isfahání and that of Muhammad-Karím-i-`Attár, where they remained hidden until the year 1316 (1899) A.H., when, in pursuance of directions issued by `Abdu’l-Bahá, this same Mírzá Asadu’lláh, together with a number of other believers, transported them by way of Isfahán, Kirmansháh, Baghdád and Damascus, to Beirut and thence by sea to Akká, arriving at their destination on the 19th of the month of Ramadán 1316 A.H. (January 31, 1899), fifty lunar years after the Báb’s execution in Tabríz. In the same year that this precious Trust reached the shores of the Holy Land and was delivered into the hands of `Abdu’l-Bahá, He, accompanied by Dr. Ibráhím Khayru’lláh, whom He had already honored with the titles of “Bahá’s Peter,” “The Second Columbus” and “Conqueror of America,” drove to the recently purchased site which had been blessed and selected by Bahá’u’lláh on Mt. Carmel, and there laid, with His own hands, the foundation-stone of the edifice, the construction of which He, a few months later, was to commence. About that same time, the marble sarcophagus, designed to receive the body of the Báb, an offering of love from the Bahá’ís of Rangoon, had, at `Abdu’l-Bahá’s suggestion, been completed and shipped to Haifa. No need to dwell on the manifold problems and preoccupations which, for almost a decade, continued to beset `Abdu’l-Bahá until the victorious hour when He was able to bring to a final consummation the historic task entrusted to Him by His Father. The risks and perils with which Bahá’u’lláh and later His Son had been confronted in their efforts to insure, during half a century, the protection of those remains were but a prelude to the grave dangers which, at a later period, the Center of the Covenant Himself had to face in the course of the construction of the edifice designed to receive them, and indeed until the hour of His final release from His incarceration. The long-drawn out negotiations with the shrewd and calculating owner of the building-site of the holy Edifice, who, under the influence of the Covenant-breakers, refused for a long time to sell; the exorbitant price at first demanded for the opening of a road leading to that site and indispensable to the work of construction; the interminable objections raised by officials, high and low, whose easily aroused suspicions had to be allayed by repeated explanations and assurances given by `Abdu’l-Bahá Himself; the dangerous situation created by the monstrous accusations brought by Mírzá Muhammad-`Alí and his associates regarding the character and purpose of that building; the delays and complications caused by `Abdu’l-Bahá’s prolonged and enforced absence from Haifa, and His consequent inability to supervise in person the vast undertaking He had initiated–all these were among the principal obstacles which He, at so critical a period in His ministry, had to face and surmount ere He could execute in its entirety the Plan, the outline of which Bahá’u’lláh had communicated to Him on the occasion of one of His visits to Mt. Carmel. “Every stone of that building, every stone of the road leading to it,” He, many a time was heard to remark, “I have with infinite tears and at tremendous cost, raised and placed in position.” “One night,” He, according to an eye-witness, once observed, “I was so hemmed in by My anxieties that I had no other recourse than to recite and repeat over and over again a prayer of the Báb which I had in My possession, the recital of which greatly calmed Me. The next morning the owner of the plot himself came to Me, apologized and begged Me to purchase his property.” Finally, in the very year His royal adversary lost his throne, and at the time of the opening of the first American Bahá’í Convention, convened in Chicago for the purpose of creating a permanent national organization for the construction of the Mashriqu’l-Adhkár, `Abdu’l-Bahá brought His undertaking to a successful conclusion, in spite of the incessant machinations of enemies both within and without. On the 28th of the month of Safar 1327 A.H., the day of the first Naw-Rúz (1909), which He celebrated after His release from His confinement, `Abdu’l-Bahá had the marble sarcophagus transported with great labor to the vault prepared for it, and in the evening, by the light of a single lamp, He laid within it, with His own hands–in the presence of believers from the East and from the West and in circumstances at once solemn and moving–the wooden casket containing the sacred remains of the Báb and His companion. When all was finished, and the earthly remains of the Martyr-Prophet of Shíráz were, at long last, safely deposited for their everlasting rest in the bosom of God’s holy mountain, `Abdu’l-Bahá, Who had cast aside His turban, removed His shoes and thrown off His cloak, bent low over the still open sarcophagus, His silver hair waving about His head and His face transfigured and luminous, rested His forehead on the border of the wooden casket, and, sobbing aloud, wept with such a weeping that all those who were present wept with Him. That night He could not sleep, so overwhelmed was He with emotion. “The most joyful tidings is this,” He wrote later in a Tablet announcing to His followers the news of this glorious victory, “that the holy, the luminous body of the Báb … after having for sixty years been transferred from place to place, by reason of the ascendancy of the enemy, and from fear of the malevolent, and having known neither rest nor tranquillity has, through the mercy of the Abhá Beauty, been ceremoniously deposited, on the day of Naw-Rúz, within the sacred casket, in the exalted Shrine on Mt. Carmel… By a strange coincidence, on that same day of Naw-Rúz, a cablegram was received from Chicago, announcing that the believers in each of the American centers had elected a delegate and sent to that city … and definitely decided on the site and construction of the Mashriqu’l-Adhkár.” With the transference of the remains of the Báb–Whose advent marks the return of the Prophet Elijah–to Mt. Carmel, and their interment in that holy mountain, not far from the cave of that Prophet Himself, the Plan so gloriously envisaged by Bahá’u’lláh, in the evening of His life, had been at last executed, and the arduous labors associated with the early and tumultuous years of the ministry of the appointed Center of His Covenant crowned with immortal success. A focal center of Divine illumination and power, the very dust of which `Abdu’l-Bahá averred had inspired Him, yielding in sacredness to no other shrine throughout the Bahá’í world except the Sepulcher of the Author of the Bahá’í Revelation Himself, had been permanently established on that mountain, regarded from time immemorial as sacred. A structure, at once massive, simple and imposing; nestling in the heart of Carmel, the “Vineyard of God”; flanked by the Cave of Elijah on the west, and by the hills of Galilee on the east; backed by the plain of Sharon, and facing the silver-city of Akká, and beyond it the Most Holy Tomb, the Heart and Qiblih of the Bahá’í world; overshadowing the colony of German Templars who, in anticipation of the “coming of the Lord,” had forsaken their homes and foregathered at the foot of that mountain, in the very year of Bahá’u’lláh’s Declaration in Baghdád (1863), the mausoleum of the Báb had now, with heroic effort and in impregnable strength been established as “the Spot round which the Concourse on high circle in adoration.” Events have already demonstrated through the extension of the Edifice itself, through the embellishment of its surroundings, through the acquisition of extensive endowments in its neighborhood, and through its proximity to the resting-places of the wife, the son and daughter of Bahá’u’lláh Himself, that it was destined to acquire with the passing of the years a measure of fame and glory commensurate with the high purpose that had prompted its founding. Nor will it, as the years go by, and the institutions revolving around the World Administrative Center of the future Bahá’í Commonwealth are gradually established, cease to manifest the latent potentialities with which that same immutable purpose has endowed it. Resistlessly will this Divine institution flourish and expand, however fierce the animosity which its future enemies may evince, until the full measure of its splendor will have been disclosed before the eyes of all mankind. “Haste thee, O Carmel!” Bahá’u’lláh, significantly addressing that holy mountain, has written, “for lo, the light of the Countenance of God … hath been lifted upon thee… Rejoice, for God hath, in this Day, established upon thee His throne, hath made thee the dawning-place of His signs and the dayspring of the evidences of His Revelation. Well is it with him that circleth around thee, that proclaimeth the revelation of thy glory, and recounteth that which the bounty of the Lord thy God hath showered upon thee.” “Call out to Zion, O Carmel!” He, furthermore, has revealed in that same Tablet, “and announce the joyful tidings: He that was hidden from mortal eyes is come! His all-conquering sovereignty is manifest; His all-encompassing splendor is revealed. Beware lest thou hesitate or halt. Hasten forth and circumambulate the City of God that hath descended from heaven, the celestial Kaaba round which have circled in adoration the favored of God, the pure in heart, and the company of the most exalted angels.” (Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By pp.273-78)
ABDU’L-BAHA TRAVELS TO THE WEST: ONE OF HIS GREATEST TRIUMPH
The importance of so momentous a development in the evolution of the Faith of Bahá’u’lláh–the establishment of His Cause in the North American continent–at a time when `Abdu’l-Bahá had just inaugurated His Mission, and was still in the throes of the most grievous crisis with which He was ever confronted, can in no wise be overestimated. As far back as the year which witnessed the birth of the Faith in Shíráz the Báb had, in the Qayyúmu’l-Asmá, after having warned in a memorable passage the peoples of both the Orient and the Occident, directly addressed the “peoples of the West,” and significantly bidden them “issue forth” from their “cities” to aid God, and “become as brethren” in His “one and indivisible religion.” “In the East,” Bahá’u’lláh Himself had, in anticipation of this development, written, “the light of His Revelation hath broken; in the West the signs of His dominion have appeared.” “Should they attempt,” He, moreover, had predicted, “to conceal its light on the continent, it will assuredly rear its head in the midmost heart of the ocean, and, raising its voice, proclaim: `I am the lifegiver of the world!'” “Had this Cause been revealed in the West,” He, shortly before His ascension, is reported by Nabíl in his narrative to have stated, “had Our verses been sent from the West to Persia and other countries of the East, it would have become evident how the people of the Occident would have embraced Our Cause. The people of Persia, however, have failed to appreciate it.” (Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By p.253)
THE TABLETS OF THE DIVINE PLAN: ABDU’L-BAHA’S MANDATE TO AMERICA, MARCH 1916-1917
And lastly, in the evening of His life, He had through the revelation of the Tablets of the Divine Plan issued His mandate to the community which He Himself had raised up, trained and nurtured, a Plan that must in the years to come enable its members to diffuse the light, and erect the administrative fabric, of the Faith throughout the five continents of the globe. (Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By p.324)
MOST POTENT AGENCY FOR THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE ADMINISTRATIVE ORDER
As the Plan bequeathed by `Abdu’l-Bahá unfolds, through successive decades of the present century, its measureless potentialities, and gathers within the field of its operations nation after nation in successive continents of the globe, it will be increasingly recognized not only as the most potent agency for the development of the world Administrative System, but also as a primary factor in the birth and efflorescence of the World Order itself in both the East and the West. (Shoghi Effendi, Messages to America p.97) During this Formative Age of the Faith, and in the course of present and succeeding epochs, the last and crowning stage in the erection of the framework of the Administrative Order of the Faith of Bahá’u’lláh–the election of the Universal House of Justice–will have been completed, the Kitáb-i-Aqdas, the Mother-Book of His Revelation, will have been codified and its laws promulgated, the Lesser Peace will have been established, the unity of mankind will have been achieved and its maturity attained, the Plan conceived by `Abdu’l-Bahá will have been executed, the emancipation of the Faith from the fetters of religious orthodoxy will have been effected, and its independent religious status will have been universally recognized, whilst in the course of the Golden Age, destined to consummate the Dispensation itself, the banner of the Most Great Peace, promised by its Author, will have been unfurled, the World Bahá’í Commonwealth will have emerged in the plenitude of its power and splendor, and the birth and efflorescence of a world civilization, the child of that Peace, will have conferred its inestimable blessings upon all mankind. (Shoghi Effendi, Citadel of Faith p.6) One of these processes is associated with the mission of the American Bahá’í Community, the other with the destiny of the American nation. The one serves directly the interests of the Administrative Order of the Faith of Bahá’u’lláh, the other promotes indirectly the institutions that are to be associated with the establishment of His World Order. The first process dates back to the revelation of those stupendous Tablets constituting the Charter of `Abdu’l-Bahá’s Divine Plan. It was held in abeyance for well-nigh twenty years while the fabric of an indispensable Administrative Order, designed as a divinely appointed agency for the operation of that Plan, was being constructed. It registered its initial success with the triumphant conclusion of the first stage of its operation in the republics of the Western Hemisphere. It signalized the opening of the second phase of its development through the inauguration of the present teaching campaign in the European continent. It must pass into the third stage of its evolution with the initiation of the third Seven Year Plan, designed to culminate in the establishment of the structure of the Administrative Order in all the remaining sovereign states and chief dependencies of the globe. It must reach the end of the first epoch in its evolution with the fulfillment of the prophecy mentioned by Daniel in the last chapter of His Book, related to the year 1335, and associated by `Abdu’l-Bahá with the world triumph of the Faith of His Father. It will be consummated through the emergence of the Bahá’í World Commonwealth in the Golden Age of the Bahá’í Dispensation. (Shoghi Effendi, Citadel of Faith p.32)
28 NOVEMBER 1921: PASSING OF ABDU’L-BAHA. THE WILL AND TESTAMENT OF ABDU’L-BAHA
The creative energies released by the Law of Bahá’u’lláh, permeating and evolving within the mind of `Abdu’l-Bahá, have, by their very impact and close interaction, given birth to an Instrument which may be viewed as the Charter of the New World Order which is at once the glory and the promise of this most great Dispensation. The Will may thus be acclaimed as the inevitable offspring resulting from that mystic intercourse between Him Who communicated the generating influence of His divine Purpose and the One Who was its vehicle and chosen recipient. Being the Child of the Covenant–the Heir of both the Originator and the Interpreter of the Law of God–the Will and Testament of `Abdu’l-Bahá can no more be divorced from Him Who supplied the original and motivating impulse than from the One Who ultimately conceived it. Bahá’u’lláh’s inscrutable purpose, we must ever bear in mind, has been so thoroughly infused into the conduct of `Abdu’l-Bahá, and their motives have been so closely wedded together, that the mere attempt to dissociate the teachings of the former from any system which the ideal Exemplar of those same teachings has established would amount to a repudiation of one of the most sacred and basic truths of the Faith. The Administrative Order, which ever since `Abdu’l-Bahá’s ascension has evolved and is taking shape under our very eyes in no fewer than forty countries of the world, may be considered as the framework of the Will itself, the inviolable stronghold wherein this new-born child is being nurtured and developed. This Administrative Order, as it expands and consolidates itself, will no doubt manifest the potentialities and reveal the full implications of this momentous Document–this most remarkable expression of the Will of One of the most remarkable Figures of the Dispensation of Bahá’u’lláh. It will, as its component parts, its organic institutions, begin to function with efficiency and vigor, assert its claim and demonstrate its capacity to be regarded not only as the nucleus but the very pattern of the New World Order destined to embrace in the fullness of time the whole of mankind. (Shoghi Effendi, World Order of Baha’u’llah, p.144)
THE FORMATIVE, TRANSITIONAL, IRON AGE (GPB xiii)
It is not my purpose to call to mind, much less to attempt a detailed analysis of, the spiritual struggles that have ensued, or to note the victories that have redounded to the glory of the Faith of Bahá’u’lláh since the day of its foundation. My chief concern is not with the happenings that have distinguished the First, the Apostolic Age of the Bahá’í Dispensation, but rather with the outstanding events that are transpiring in, and the tendencies which characterize, the formative period of its development, this Age of Transition, whose tribulations are the precursors of that Era of blissful felicity which is to incarnate God’s ultimate purpose for all mankind. To the catastrophic fall of mighty kingdoms and empires, on the eve of `Abdu’l-Bahá’s departure, Whose passing may be said to have ushered in the opening phase of the Age of Transition in which we now live, I have, in a previous communication, briefly alluded. The dissolution of the German Empire, the humiliating defeat inflicted upon its ruler, the successor and lineal descendant of the Prussian King and Emperor to whom Bahá’u’lláh had addressed His solemn and historic warning, together with the extinction of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy, the remnant of the once-great Holy Roman Empire, were both precipitated by a war whose outbreak signalized the opening of the Age of Frustration destined to precede the establishment of the World Order of Bahá’u’lláh. Both of these momentous events may be viewed as the earliest occurrences of that turbulent Age, into the outer fringes of whose darkest phase we are now beginning to enter. (Shoghi Effendi, World Order of Baha’u’llah, p.171)
DIFFUSION OF THE LIGHT
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, 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 Baha’i 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 Baha’u’llah’s Mission. (Shoghi Effendi, Messages to the Baha’i World, p.154)
HALLMARK IS THE RISE AND ESTABLISHMENT OF THE ADMINISTRATIVE ORDER
A word more in conclusion. The rise and establishment of this Administrative Order — the shell that shields and enshrines so precious a gem — constitutes the hall-mark of this second and formative age of the Baha’i era. It will come to be regarded, as it recedes farther and farther from our eyes, as the chief agency empowered to usher in the concluding phase, the consummation of this glorious Dispensation. (Shoghi Effendi, World Order of Baha’u’llah, p.156)
THE NUCLEUS AND PATTERN OF THE NEW ADMINISTRATIVE ORDER
The Administrative Order, which ever since Abdu’l-Baha’s ascension has evolved and is taking shape under our very eyes in no fewer than forty countries of the world, may be considered as the framework of the Will itself, the inviolable stronghold wherein this new-born child is being nurtured and developed. This Administrative Order, as it expands and consolidates itself, will no doubt manifest the potentialities and reveal the full implications of this momentous Document — this most remarkable expression of the Will of One of the most remarkable Figures of the Dispensation of Baha’u’llah. It will, as its component parts, its organic institutions, begin to function with efficiency and vigor, assert its claim and demonstrate its capacity to be regarded not only as the nucleus but the very pattern of the New World Order destined to embrace in the fullness of time the whole of mankind. (Shoghi Effendi, World Order of Baha’u’llah, p.144) We are now entering the second epoch of the second Age of the first of these Dispensations. The first epoch witnessed the birth and the primary stages in the erection of the framework of the Administrative Order of the Faith — the nucleus and pattern of its World Order — according to the precepts laid down in Abdu’l-Baha’s Will and Testament, as well as the launching of the initial phase of the world-encompassing Plan bequeathed by Him to the American Baha’i Community. That epoch was characterized by a twofold process aiming at the consolidation of the administrative structure of the Faith and the extension of the range of its institutions. It witnessed on the one hand, the emergence and the laying of the groundwork of that embryonic World Order whose advent was announced by the Bab in the Bayan, whose laws were revealed by Baha’u’llah in the Kitab-i-Aqdas, and whose features were delineated by Abdu’l-Baha in His Will and Testament. It was marked on the other hand by the launching, in the Western Hemisphere, of the first stage of a Plan whose original impulse was communicated by the Herald of our Faith in His Qayyumu’l-Asma’, to whose implications the Author of the Baha’i Revelation alluded in His Tablets, and whose Charter was revealed by the Center of His Covenant in the evening of His life. (Shoghi Effendi, Citadel of Faith, p.5)
SHAPING, CONSOLIDATION, DEVELOPMENT OF THE INSTITUTIONS
The Formative Period, the Iron Age, of that Dispensation was now beginning, the Age in which the institutions, local, national and international, of the Faith of Baha’u’llah were to take shape, develop and become fully consolidated, in anticipation of the third, the last, the Golden Age destined to witness the emergence of a world-embracing Order enshrining the ultimate fruit of God’s latest Revelation to mankind, a fruit whose maturity must signalize the establishment of a world civilization and the formal inauguration of the Kingdom of the Father upon earth as promised by Jesus Christ Himself. (Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By, p.324)
LISTING OF WHAT WILL BE ACCOMPLISHED IN THE FORMATIVE AGE
During this Formative Age of the Faith, and in the course of present and succeeding epochs, the last and crowning stage in the erection of the framework of the Administrative Order of the Faith of Baha’u’llah — the election of the Universal House of Justice — will have been completed, the Kitab- i-Aqdas, the Mother-Book of His Revelation, will have been codified and its laws promulgated, the Lesser Peace will have been established, the unity of mankind will have been achieved and its maturity attained, the Plan conceived by Abdu’l-Baha will have been executed, the emancipation of the Faith from the fetters of religious orthodoxy will have been effected, and its independent religious status will have been universally recognized, whilst in the course of the Golden Age, destined to consummate the Dispensation itself, the banner of the Most Great Peace, promised by its Author, will have been unfurled, the World Baha’i Commonwealth will have emerged in the plenitude of its power and splendor, and the birth and efflorescence of a world civilization, the child of that Peace, will have conferred its inestimable blessings upon all mankind. (Shoghi Effendi, Citadel of Faith, p.6)
TASKS THAT MUST BE ACCOMPLISHED IN THE FORMATIVE AGE
Mighty indeed have been the tasks accomplished and the victories achieved by this sorely-tried yet undefeatable Faith within the space of a century! Its unfinished tasks, its future victories, as it stands on the threshold of the second Baha’i century, are greater still. In the brief space of the first hundred years of its existence it has succeeded in diffusing its light over five continents, in erecting its outposts in the furthermost corners of the earth, in establishing, on an impregnable basis its Covenant with all mankind, in rearing the fabric of its world-encompassing Administrative Order, in casting off many of the shackles hindering its total emancipation and world-wide recognition, in registering its initial victories over royal, political and ecclesiastical adversaries, and in launching the first of its systematic crusades for the spiritual conquest of the whole planet. The institution, however, which is to constitute the last stage in the erection of the framework of its world Administrative Order, functioning in close proximity to its world spiritual center, is as yet unestablished. The full emancipation of the Faith itself from the fetters of religious orthodoxy, the essential prerequisite of its universal recognition and of the emergence of its World Order, is still unachieved. The successive campaigns, designed to extend the beneficent influence of its System, according to Abdu’l-Baha’s Plan, to every country and island where the structural basis of its Administrative Order has not been erected, still remain to be launched. The banner of Ya Baha’u’l-Abha which, as foretold by Him, must float from the pinnacles of the foremost seat of learning in the Islamic world is still unhoisted. The Most Great House, ordained as a center of pilgrimage by Baha’u’llah in His Kitab-i-Aqdas, is as yet unliberated. The third Mashriqu’l-Adhkar to be raised to His glory, the site of which has recently been acquired, as well as the Dependencies of the two Houses of Worship already erected in East and West, are as yet unbuilt. The dome, the final unit which, as anticipated by Abdu’l-Baha, is to crown the Sepulcher of the Bab is as yet unreared. The codification of the Kitab-i-Aqdas, the Mother-Book of the Baha’i Revelation, and the systematic promulgation of its laws and ordinances, are as yet unbegun. The preliminary measures for the institution of Baha’i courts, invested with the legal right to apply and execute those laws and ordinances, still remain to be undertaken. The restitution of the first Mashriqu’l-Adhkar of the Baha’i world and the recreation of the community that so devotedly reared it, have yet to be accomplished. The sovereign who, as foreshadowed in Baha’u’llah’s Most Holy Book, must adorn the throne of His native land, and cast the shadow of royal protection over His long-persecuted followers, is as yet undiscovered. The contest that must ensue as a result of the concerted onslaughts which, as prophesied by Abdu’l-Baha, are to be delivered by the leaders of religions as yet indifferent to the advance of the Faith, is as yet unfought. The Golden Age of the Faith itself that must witness the unification of all the peoples and nations of the world, the establishment of the Most Great Peace, the inauguration of the Kingdom of the Father upon earth, the coming of age of the entire human race and the birth of a world civilization, inspired and directed by the creative energies released by Baha’u’llah’s World Order, shining in its meridian splendor, is still unborn and its glories unsuspected. Whatever may befall this infant Faith of God in future decades or in succeeding centuries, whatever the sorrows, dangers and tribulations which the next stage in its world-wide development may engender, from whatever quarter the assaults to be launched by its present or future adversaries may be unleashed against it, however great the reverses and setbacks it may suffer, we, who have been privileged to apprehend, to the degree our finite minds can fathom, the significance of these marvelous phenomena associated with its rise and establishment, can harbor no doubt that what it has already achieved in the first hundred years of its life provides sufficient guarantee that it will continue to forge ahead, capturing loftier heights, tearing down every obstacle, opening up new horizons and winning still mightier victories until its glorious mission, stretching into the dim ranges of time that lie ahead, is totally fulfilled. (Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By, p.410, 411, 412)
HUMANITY WILL PROGRESS TOWARD MATURITY IN THE FORMATIVE AGE
The embryonic Faith, maturing three years after His martyrdom, traversing the period of infancy in the course of the Heroic Age of the Faith is now steadily progressing towards maturity in the present Formative Age, destined to attain full stature in the Golden Age of the Baha’i Dispensation. (Shoghi Effendi, Citadel of Faith, p.82)
TEMPLE DEPENDENCIES WILL SPRING INTO EXISTENCE
And yet, how trifling in comparison with the self-immolation of the most distinguished, the most precious heroes and saints of the Primitive Age of our glorious Faith! An outpouring of treasure, no less copious than the blood shed so lavishly in the Apostolic Age of the Faith by those who in the heart of the Asiatic continent proclaimed its birth to the world, can befit their spiritual descendants, who, in the present Formative Age of the Baha’i Dispensation, have championed the Cause, and assumed so preponderating a share in the erection of its Administrative Order, and are now engaged in the final stage of the building of the House that incarnates the soul of that Faith in the American continent. No sacrifice can be deemed too great to insure the completion of such an edifice — the most holy House of Worship ever to be associated with the Faith of the Most Great Name — an edifice whose inception has shed such a luster on the closing years of the Heroic Age of the Baha’i Dispensation, which has assumed a concrete shape in the present Formative stage in the evolution of our beloved Faith, whose dependencies must spring into existence in the course of successive epochs of this same Age, and whose fairest fruits will be garnered in the Age that is to come, the last, the Golden Age of the initial and brightest Dispensation of the five-thousand-century Baha’i Cycle. (Shoghi Effendi, Citadel of Faith, p.69)
1920: DAWN OF THE MOST GREAT PEACE
The ideals that fired the imagination of America’s tragically unappreciated President, whose high endeavours, however much nullified by a visionless generation, Abdu’l-Baha, through His own pen, acclaimed as signalizing the dawn of the Most Great Peace, though now lying in the dust, bitterly reproach a heedless generation for having so cruelly abandoned them. (Shoghi Effendi, The Advent of Divine Justice, p.88)
1932: PASSING OF THE GREATEST HOLY LEAF; MORE PARTICULAR CONCLUSION OF THE HEROIC AGE; LAST SURVIVOR OF THE HEROIC AGE
With Abdu’l-Baha’s ascension, and more particularly with the passing of His well-beloved and illustrious sister the Most Exalted Leaf — the last survivor of a glorious and heroic age — there draws to a close the first and most moving chapter of Baha’i history, marking the conclusion of the Primitive, the Apostolic Age of the Faith of Baha’u’llah. It was Abdu’l-Baha Who, through the provisions of His weighty Will and Testament, has forged the vital link which must for ever connect the age that has just expired with the one we now live in — the Transitional and Formative period of the Faith — a stage that must in the fullness of time reach its blossom and yield its fruit in the exploits and triumphs that are to herald the Golden Age of the Revelation of Baha’u’llah. Dearly-beloved friends! The onrushing forces so miraculously released through the agency of two independent and swiftly successive Manifestations are now under our very eyes and through the care of the chosen stewards of a far-flung Faith being gradually mustered and disciplined. They are slowly crystallizing into institutions that will come to be regarded as the hall-mark and glory of the age we are called upon to establish and by our deeds immortalize. For upon our present-day efforts, and above all upon the extent to which we strive to remodel our lives after the pattern of sublime heroism associated with those gone before us, must depend the efficacy of the instruments we now fashion — instruments that must erect the structure of that blissful Commonwealth which must signalize the Golden Age of our Faith. It is not my purpose, as I look back upon these crowded years of heroic deeds, to attempt even a cursory review of the mighty events that have transpired since 1844 until the present day. Nor have I any intention to undertake an analysis of the forces that have precipitated them, or to evaluate their influence upon peoples and institutions in almost every continent of the globe. The authentic record of the lives of the first believers of the primitive period of our Faith, together with the assiduous research which competent Baha’i historians will in the future undertake, will combine to transmit to posterity such masterly exposition of the history of that age as my own efforts can never hope to accomplish. (Shoghi Effendi, The World Order of Baha’u’llah, p.98)
APRIL 1937: BEGINNING OF THE FIRST EPOCH OF THE PROSECUTION OF THE TABLETS OF THE DIVINE PLAN
The Divine Plan of Abdu’l-Bahà is divided into epochs. The first Seven Year Plan constituted the first stage of the first epoch… (January 18, 1953 Letter on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, Baha’i News, 265, p. 4)
1937-1944: FIRST SEVEN YEAR PLAN TO THE AMERICAN BAHA’I COMMUNITY. TWO GIFTS
First, prosecute uninterruptedly teaching campaign inaugurated at last Convention in accordance with Divine Plan. Second, resume with inflexible determination exterior ornamentation of entire structure of Temple. (Shoghi Effendi, Messages to America, p.9)
23 MAY 1944: BEGINNING OF THE SECOND BAHA’I CENTURY LISTING OF ACHIEVEMENTS FALLING WITHIN THE FIRST CENTURY
Mighty indeed have been the tasks accomplished and the victories achieved by this sorely-tried yet undefeatable Faith within the space of a century! Its unfinished tasks, its future victories, as it stands on the threshold of the second Baha’i century, are greater still. In the brief space of the first hundred years of its existence it has succeeded in diffusing its light over five continents, in erecting its outposts in the furthermost corners of the earth, in establishing, on an impregnable basis its Covenant with all mankind, in rearing the fabric of its world-encompassing Administrative Order, in casting off many of the shackles hindering its total emancipation and world-wide recognition, in registering its initial victories over royal, political and ecclesiastical adversaries, and in launching the first of its systematic crusades for the spiritual conquest of the whole planet. (Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By, p.410-11)
ACHIEVEMENTS OF THE SECOND CENTURY
The opening years of the second century of the Baha’i Era, synchronizing with concluding stage of the memorable quarter-century elapsed since the termination of the Heroic Age of the Faith, have been distinguished by a compelling demonstration by the entire body of believers, headed by the valorous American Baha’i Community, of solidarity, resolve and self-sacrifice as well as by a magnificent record of systematic, world-wide achievements. The three years since the celebration of the Centenary have been characterized by a simultaneous process of internal consolidation and steady enlargement of the orbit of a fast-evolving Administrative Order. These years witnessed, first, the astounding resurgence of a war-devastated Baha’i community of Central Europe, the rehabilitation of the communities in Southeast Asia, the Pacific Islands and the Far East; second, the inauguration of a new Seven Year Plan by the American Baha’i Community destined to culminate with the Centenary of the Birth of Baha’u’llah’s Prophetic Mission, aiming at the formation of three national assemblies in Latin America and the Dominion of Canada, at completion of the holiest House of Worship in the Baha’i world, and at the erection of the structure of the Administrative Order in ten sovereign states of the European continent; and third, the formulation by the British, the Indian and the Persian National Assemblies of Six Year, Four and One-Half Year, and Forty-Five Month Plans respectively, culminating with the Centenary of the Bab’s Martyrdom and pledged to establish nineteen spiritual assemblies in the British Isles, double the number of assemblies in the Indian subcontinent, establish ninety-five new centers of the Faith in Persia, convert the groups in Bahrein, Mecca and Kabul into assemblies and plant the banner of the Faith in the Arabian territories of Yemen, Oman, Ahsa and Kuweit. (Shoghi Effendi, Citadel of Faith, p.2-3)
1946: THE SECOND SEVEN YEAR PLAN
Not ours, however, to un-riddle the workings of a distant future, or to dwell upon the promised glories of a God-impelled and unimaginably potent Revelation. Ours, rather, the task to cast our eyes upon, and bend our energies to meet, the challenging requirements of the present hour. Labors, of an urgent and sacred character, claim insistently our undivided attention during the opening years of this new epoch which we have entered. The Second Seven Year Plan, intended to carry a stage further the mission conceived by Abdu’l-Baha for the American Baha’i Community, is now entering its second year, and must, as it operates in three continents, be productive of results outshining any as yet achieved since the Divine Plan itself was set in motion during the concluding years of the first Baha’i century. (Shoghi Effendi, Citadel of Faith, p.6-7)
1946: THE SECOND PHASE OF THE FIRST EPOCH OF THE TABLETS OF THE DIVINE PLAN
The Divine Plan of Abdu’l-Bahà is divided into epochs. The first Seven Year Plan constituted the first stage of the first epoch; the second Seven Year Plan constitutes the second stage; while the Ten Year Crusade will constitute the third stage of the first epoch of the Divine Plan. The first epoch of the Divine Plan will conclude with the conclusion of the Ten Year Crusade. (January 18, 1953 Letter on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, Baha’i News, 265, p. 4)
1953: HOLY YEAR – CENTENARY OF THE REVELATION OF BAHA’U’LLAH
Supplicating God’s bountiful blessings on each and every national enterprise, the triumphant consummation of which will be regarded by posterity as a befitting tribute paid by their participants to the immortal memory of the unexampled heroism of the dawn-breakers of the Apostolic Age of the Dispensation of Baha’u’llah and will crown the festivities commemorating the centenary of the birth of His Mission and will constitute a worthy prelude to the launching of the global spiritual crusade destined to culminate in the one hundredth anniversary of the formal assumption by the Author of the Baha’i Revelation of His Prophetic Office, and to diffuse the radiance of His Faith over the face of the entire planet. (Shoghi Effendi, Messages to the Baha’i World, p.40) Hail, with feelings of humble thankfulness and unbounded joy, opening of the Holy Year commemorating the centenary of the rise of the Orb of Baha’u’llah’s most sublime Revelation marking the consummation of the six thousand year cycle ushered in by Adam, glorified by all past prophets and sealed with the blood of the Author of the Babi Dispensation. (Shoghi Effendi, Messages to the Baha’i World, p.40)
1953: THE TEN YEAR WORLD CRUSADE
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 Baha’u’llah in Baghdad. (Shoghi Effendi, Messages to the Baha’i World, p.154-55)
END OF THE FIRST STAGE IN THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE INSTITUTIONS OF THE WORLD CENTRE THE QIBLIH OF A WORLD COMMUNITY
In the Holy Land — the Qiblih of a world community, the heart from which the energizing influences of a vivifying Faith continually stream, and the seat and center around which the diversified activities of a divinely appointed Administrative Order revolve — following upon the termination of the construction of the Bab’s holy Sepulcher, marking the closing of the first chapter in the history of the evolution of the central institutions of a world Faith, a marked progress in the rise and establishment of these institutions has been clearly noticeable. The remaining twenty-two pillars of the International Baha’i Archives — the initial Edifice heralding the establishment of the Baha’i World Administrative Center on Mt. Carmel — have been erected. The last half of the nine hundred tons of stone, ordered in Italy for its construction, have reached their destination, enabling the exterior of the building to be completed, while the forty-four tons of glazed green tiles, manufactured in Utrecht, to cover the five hundred square meters of roof, have been placed in position, the whole contributing, to an unprecedented degree, through its colorfulness, its classic style and graceful proportions, and in conjunction with the stately, golden-crowned Mausoleum rising beyond it, to the unfolding glory of the central institutions of a World Faith nestling in the heart of God’s holy mountain. Simultaneous with this striking development, the plan designed to insure the extension and completion of the arc serving as a base for the erection of future edifices constituting the World Baha’i Administrative Center, has been successfully carried out. The dilapidated house, situated in the close neighborhood of Baha’u’llah’s Shrine, recently acquired from the Development Authority of the State of Israel, because of its historic associations, has been restored. Negotiations, moreover, have been initiated with that same Authority for the acquisition of two plots to the north and south of the Shrine, for the purpose of safeguarding its precincts from a further extension of the new settlements springing up rapidly in the plain of Akka. Steps have also been taken to register the title- deeds of a centrally located plot, originally owned by a Covenant-breaker, and abutting on the International Archives, in the name of the Israel Branch of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’is of the British Isles. A further blow has been struck at the remnants of the implacable enemies of Abdu’l-Baha, the breakers of His Father’s Covenant, still living in the immediate vicinity of the holiest shrine of the Baha’i world, through the destruction of a row of ruinous sheds which had been under their control, through orders issued by the Municipal Authorities of Akka. And, lastly, an expropriation order has been published in the Israel Official Gazette by the Treasury Department of Israel related to buildings enclosed within the Haram-i-Aqdas, aiming at the eviction of these same enemies from the outer Sanctuary of Baha’u’llah’s Sepulcher, following upon the evacuation by them of the Mansion at Bahji after two score years of occupancy, and which, when carried out, will mark the final cleansing, after more than sixty-five years, of the immediate surroundings of the holiest Spot in the Baha’i world. Nor can I dismiss this subject related to the progress achieved in the development of Baha’i international institutions in the Holy Land without a special reference to the continual extension and embellishment of the international endowments of the Faith in the plain of Akka and on the slopes of Mt. Carmel, the value of which now exceeds five million two hundred thousand dollars, as well as to the ever-swelling crowds of visitors flocking to the Baha’i Shrines in both of these places, and particularly to the number of those entering the Tomb of the Bab which, during a single day, in a three-hour period, has exceeded a thousand. (Shoghi Effendi, Messages to the Baha’i World, p.108-09)
1963:ESTABLISHMENT OF THE UNIVERSAL HOUSE OF JUSTICE
“Blessed is he that waiteth, and cometh to the thousand three hundred and five and thirty days.” (Daniel 12:12)
SECOND EPOCH OF THE PROSECUTION OF THE TABLET OF THE DIVINE PLAN
Beloved friends, we enter the second epoch of the Divine Plan blessed beyond compare, riding the crest of a great wave of victory produced for us by our beloved Guardian. The Cause of God is now firmly rooted in the world. Forward then, confident in the power and protection of the Lord of Hosts, Who will, through storm and trial, toil and jubilee, use His devoted followers to bring to a despairing humanity the life-giving waters of His supreme Revelation. (The Universal House of Justice, Wellspring of Guidance, p. 8)
RELATED TO THE YEAR 1335 SPOKEN OF BY DANIEL
What still greater reward could await those who, inspired by the success achieved by the prosecutors of the second Seven Year Plan, will have arisen to carry forward to a triumphant conclusion the third phase of the Mission entrusted to them by Abdu’l-Baha, than that their prodigious labors, having embraced territories far beyond the confines of the continents of Europe and of America, should climax in, and be worthily commemorated through, the world-wide celebrations of the “Most Great Festival,” the “King of Festivals,” the “Festival of God” Himself — the Festival associated with the accession of Him Who is the Lord of the Kingdom to the throne of everlasting glory, and with the formal assumption by Him of His prophetic office? What greater reward than that the consummation of the third Seven Year Plan, marking the close of the first, and signalizing the opening of the second, epoch in the evolution of the Divine Plan, should synchronize with that greatest of all Jubilees, related to the year 1335, mentioned by Daniel in the last Chapter of His Book, and associated by Abdu’l-Baha with the world triumph of His Father’s Faith? What greater glory than that those who have brought this initial epoch in the resistless march of a world- embracing Plan to a triumphant termination should be made to feel that they, and those gone before them, have, through their collective, their sustained, and heroic endeavours, organized through three successive stages, and covering a span of almost a quarter of a century, been vouchsafed by the Almighty the privilege of contributing, more than any other community consciously labouring in the service of the Faith of Baha’u’llah, to this blissful consummation, and to have played a preponderating role in the world triumph of its institutions? (Shoghi Effendi, Messages to America, p.100-1)
1963: HUNDRED YEARS AFTER BAHA’U’LLAH’S DECLARATION
As the Baha’i world enters the third phase of the Nine Year Plan we are called upon to proclaim once again that Divine Message to the leaders and masses of the world, to aid the Faith of God to emerge from obscurity into the arena of public attention, to demonstrate through steadfast adherence to its laws the independent character of its mission, and to brace ourselves in preparation for the attacks that are bound to be directed against its victorious onward march. Upon our efforts depends in very large measure the ,’h fate of humanity. The hundred years’ respite having ended, the struggle between the forces of darkness — man’s lower nature — and the rising sun of the Divine Teachings which draw him on to his true station, intensifies day by day. (The Universal House of Justice, Wellspring of Guidance, p. 120) 1964 And finally the tenth part of this mighty process 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 Baha’u’llah’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. (Shoghi Effendi, Messages to the Baha’i World, p.155)
1964: THE NINE YEAR PLAN
The divinely propelled process, described in such awe-inspiring words by our beloved Guardian, which began six thousand years ago at the dawn of the Adamic Cycle and which is destined to culminate in “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,” is now entering its tenth and last part. The Ten Year Crusade, so recently consummated in a blaze of victory and rejoicing, constituted the entire ninth part of this process. It saw the Cause of God leap forward in one mighty decade-long effort to the point at which the foundations of its Administrative Order were laid throughout the world, thus preparing the way for that awakening of the masses which must characterize the future progress of the Faith. From the beginning of this Dispensation the most urgent summons of the Word of God, voiced successively by the Bab and Baha’u’llah, has been to teach the Cause. ‘Abdu’l-Baha, in His own words, “spent His days and nights in promoting the Cause and urging the peoples to service.” Shoghi Effendi, discharging the sacred mission laid upon him, raised the Administrative Order of the Faith, already enshrined within the Sacred Writings, and forged it into a teaching instrument to accomplish through a succession of plans, national, international, and global, the entire Divine Plan of ‘Abdu’l-Baha, and he clearly foresaw in the “tremendously long” tenth part of the process already referred to a series of plans to be launched by the Universal House of Justice, extending over “successive epochs of both the Formative and Golden Ages of the Faith.” The first of these plans is now before us. Opening at Ridvan 1964, while the memories of the glorious Jubilee of 1963 still surge within our hearts, it must, during its nine-year course, witness a huge expansion of the Cause of God and universal participation by all believers in the life of that Cause.
TASKS AT THE WORLD CENTER
At the World Center of the Faith the tasks of the Plan include: Publication of a synopsis and codification of the Kitab-i-Aqdas, the Most Holy Book; Formulation of the constitution of the Universal House of Justice; Development of the institution of the Hands of the Cause of God, in consultation with the body of the Hands of the Cause, with a view to the extension into the future of its appointed functions of protection and propagation; Continued collation and classification of the Baha’i Sacred Scriptures as well as of the writings of Shoghi Effendi; Continued efforts directed towards the emancipation of the Faith from the fetters of religious orthodoxy and its recognition as an independent religion; The preparation of a plan for the befitting development and beautification of the entire area of Baha’i property surrounding the holy shrines; Extension of the existing gardens on Mount Carmel; Development of the relationship between the Baha’i Community and the United Nations; The holding of oceanic and intercontinental conferences; The coordination of worldwide plans to commemorate, in 1967/68, the centenary of Baha’u’llah’s Proclamation to the kings and rulers which centered round His revelation of the Suriy- i-Muluk in Adrianople.
TASKS FOR THE WORLD COMMUNITY
In the world community the Plan involves: The opening of seventy virgin territories and the resettlement of twenty-four; The raising of the number of national spiritual assemblies, the pillars sustaining the Universal House of Justice, to one hundred and eight, nine times the number which embarked on the first historic World Crusade in 1953; Increasing the number of local spiritual assemblies to over thirteen thousand seven hundred, scattered throughout the territories and islands of the world, at least one thousand seven hundred of them to be incorporated; The raising of the number of localities where Baha’is reside to over fifty-four thousand; The building of two more Mashriqu’l-Adhkars, one in Asia and one in Latin America; The acquisition of: Thirty-two teaching institutes, Fifty-two national Haziratu’l-Quds, Fifty-four national endowments, and Sites for sixty-two future Temples; Wide extension of recognition by civil authorities of the Baha’i holy days and Baha’i marriage certificates; The translation of literature into one hundred and thirty-three more languages, and its enrichment in major languages into which translations have already been made; The establishment of four new Baha’i publishing trusts, and A vast increase in the financial resources of the Faith.
THE ROLE OF THE INDIVIDUAL
The healthy development of the Cause requires that this great expansion be accompanied by the dedicated effort of every believer in teaching, in living the Baha’i life, in contributing to the Fund, and particularly in the persistent effort to understand more and more the significance of Baha’u’llah’s Revelation. In the words of our beloved Guardian, “One thing and only one thing will unfailingly and alone secure the undoubted triumph of this sacred Cause, namely, the extent to which our own inner life and private character mirror forth in their manifold aspects the splendoUr of those eternal principles proclaimed by Baha’u’llah.”
TWIN OBJECTIVES OF THE NINE YEAR PLAN
Expansion and universal participation are the twin objectives of this initial phase of the second epoch of the Divine Plan, and all the goals assigned to the sixty-nine national communities are contributory to them. The process of cooperation between national spiritual assemblies, already initiated by the beloved Guardian, will, during the course of this Plan, apply to over two hundred specific projects and will further strengthen this process which may well assume great importance in future stages of the Formative Age. Once more, dear friends, we enter the battle, but with an incomparably greater array than that which embarked upon the World Crusade in 1953. To that small force Of twelve national communities, now veteran campaigners, have been added fifty-seven new legions, each under the generalship of a national spiritual assembly, each destined to become a veteran of this and future campaigns. That Crusade began with slightly more than six hundred local a spiritual assemblies, the greater part of which were situated in Persia, North America, and-Europe; the home fronts now comprise nearly four thousand six hundred local spiritual assemblies scattered throughout the continents and islands of the world. We begin this Plan with a tremendous momentum, exemplified by the addition, since feast Ridvan, of: over four thousand new centers and thirteen national spiritual assemblies, and by the beginning, in several countries, of that entry by troops into the Cause of God prophesied by ‘Abdu’l-Baha and so eagerly anticipated by Him. The standard bearers of this Nine Year Plan are those same divinely appointed, tried, and victorious souls who bore the standard of the World Crusade, the Hands of the Cause of God, whose advice and consultation have been invaluable in the working out of this Nine Year Plan. Supported by their” deputies, assistants, and advisers,” the members of the Auxiliary Boards, they will inspire and protect the army of God, lead through every breach to the limit of available resources, and sustain those communities struggling over intractable or stony ground, so that by 1973 the celebrations befitting the centenary of the revelation of the Most Holy Book may be undertaken by a victorious, firmly established, organically united world community, dedicated to the service of God and the final triumph of His Cause. Therefore let each of the sixty-nine communities seize its tasks, at once consider how best to accomplish them within the allotted span, raise its band of pioneers, consecrate itself to unremitting labor, and set out on its mission. Now is the golden opportunity. For whatever convulsions the waywardness of a godless and materialistic age may yet precipitate in the world, however grievous may be the effects of the rolling up of the present order on the plans and efforts of the community of the Most Great Name, we must seize the opportunities of the hour and go forward confident that all things are within His mighty grasp and that, if we but play our part, total and unconditional victory will inevitably be ours. (The Universal House of Justice, Wellspring of Guidance, p. 22-27)
ACCOMPLISHED IN THREE PHASES
The splendid achievements in the pioneering and teaching fields, together with the enthusiastic attention given to the preparation of plans for the befitting celebration of the centenary of Baha’u’llah’s Proclamation of His Message to the kings and rulers of the world, have sealed with success the first, and opened the way for the second phase of the Nine Year Plan, a phase in which the Baha’i world must prepare and arm itself for the third phase, beginning in October 1967 when the six intercontinental conferences will sound the “opening notes” of a period of proclamation of the Cause of God extending through the remaining years of the Nine Year Plan to the centenary, in 1973, of the revelation of the Kitab-i-Aqdas. The three-fold purpose of these conferences is to commemorate the centenary of the opening of Baha’u’llah’s own Proclamation of His Mission, to proclaim the Divine Message, and to deliberate upon the tasks of the remaining years of the Nine Year Plan. (The Universal House of Justice, Wellspring of Guidance, p. 73-4) Third Phase of Nine Year Plan Begins Hearts filled profound gratitude rejoice announce inauguration third phase Nine Year Plan through successful consummation six intercontinental conferences attended by 9,200 believers including nearly all Hands Cause large number Board members representatives almost all national assemblies Baha’i world over 140 territories and host Asian African American Indian tribes. Inestimable privilege conferred participants through viewing portrait Abha Beauty. Spirit Holy Land and Adrianople conveyed six distinguished representatives House Justice. First presentations behalf House Justice proclamation book heads of state made before and during conference. Fruitful deliberations held proclamation execution remaining goals Plan Solidarity Baha’i world further evinced through ingenious scheme telephonic exchange greetings all six conferences. Spiritual potencies this new phase reinforced through..f mal laying by Amatu’l-Baha of cornerstone Mother Temple Latin America. Over 230 offers made at conferences join ranks valiant pioneers Cause. Raise suppliant hands Baha’u’llah endow friends every land fresh measure celestial strength enable them pursue with increased vision unabated resolve glorious goals ahead until this new period proclamation yields its share in divinely propelled process establishment Kingdom God hearts men. [Cablegram, October 15,1967] (The Universal House of Justice, Wellspring of Guidance, p. 122)
THE GOALS OF THE NINE YEAR PLAN
On this, the hundredth anniversary of the sounding in Adrianople of the opening notes of Baha’u’llah’s Proclamation to the rulers, leaders, and peoples of the world, we recall with profound emotion the circumstances surrounding the Faith of God at that time. In a land, termed by Him the “Land of Mystery,” the Bearer of God’s Revelation had arisen to carry that Faith a stage further in its divinely ordained destiny. Internally, the infant Cause of God was convulsed by a crisis from whose shadows emerged the majestic figure of Baha’u’llah, the visible Center and Head of a newly established Faith. The first pilgrimages were made to His Residence, a further stage in the transfer of the remains of the Bab was achieved, and above all the first intimations were given of the future station of ‘Abdu’l-Baha as the Center of the Covenant and of the revelation of the new laws for the new Day. Externally, the full significance of the new Revelation was proclaimed-by no one less than its Divine Bearer, His followers began openly to identify themselves with the Most Great Name, the independent character of the Faith became established, and its fearless exponents took up their pens in defence of its fair name. Now, a hundred years later, the friends, gathered in the six intercontinental conferences to commemorate the events of the past, privileged to gaze upon the portrait of their Beloved, must consider the urgent needs of the Cause today. As the Baha’i world enters the third phase of the Nine Year Plan we are called upon to proclaim once again that Divine Message to the leaders and masses of the world, to aid the Faith of God to emerge from obscurity into the arena of public attention, to demonstrate through steadfast adherence to its laws the independent character of its mission, and to brace ourselves in preparation for the attacks that are bound to be directed against its victorious onward march. Upon our efforts depends in very large measure the ,’h fate of humanity. The hundred years’ respite having ended, the struggle between the forces of darkness — man’s lower nature — and the rising sun of the Divine Teachings which draw him on to his true station, intensifies day by day. The centenary campaign has been opened by the Universal House of Justice presenting to 140 heads of state a compilation of Baha’u’llah’s own Proclamation. The friends must now take the Message to the rest of humanity. The time is ripe and the opportunities illimitable. We are not alone nor helpless. Sustained by our love for each other and given power through the Administrative Order — so laboriously erected by our beloved Guardian — the army of Light can achieve such victories as will astonish posterity. We pray at the holy shrines that these intercontinental conferences will be centers of spiritual illumination inspiring the friends to redouble their efforts in further expanding and consolidating the Faith of God, to arise to fill the remaining pioneer goals, to undertake travelling teaching projects, and to offer generously of their substance to the various funds, particularly to the vital project of erecting the Panama Temple, the foundation stone of which is being laid by Amatu’l-Baha Ruhiyyih Khanum during the course of these conferences. As humanity enters the dark heart of this age of transition our course is clear — the achievement of the assigned goals and the proclamation of Baha’u’llah’s healing Message. It is our ardent hope that from these conferences valiant souls may arise with noble resolve and in loving service to ensure the successful and early accomplishment of the sacred tasks that lie ahead. (The Universal House of Justice, Wellspring of Guidance, p. 119-21) Ridvan Message 1973 To the Baha’is of the World Dearly-loved Friends, We announce with joyful and thankful hearts the completion in overwhelming victory of the world- encircling Nine Year Plan. The Army of Light has won its second global campaign; it has surpassed the goals set for expansion and has achieved a truly impressive degree of universal participation, the twin objectives of the Plan. With gratitude and love we testify to the unceasing confirmations which Baha’u’llah has showered upon His servants, enabling each and every one of us to offer Him some part of the labor, the devotion, the sacrifice, the supplication which He has so bountifully rewarded. At this Centenary of the Revelation of the Most Holy Book, the Community of the Most Great Name lays its tribute of victory at His feet, acknowledging that it is He Who has bestowed it. The Cause of God at the end of the Nine Year Plan is immensely more widespread, more firmly founded, and its own international relations more closely knit than in 1964 when the Plan was launched. Ninety-five new territories have been opened to the Faith; the 69 National Spiritual Assemblies which shouldered the world community’s task have become 113, 5 more than called for. These embryonic secondary Houses of Justice are supported by more than 17,000 Local Spiritual Assemblies, 3,000 in excess of the goal and 12,000 more than at the beginning of the Plan. Baha’is reside in 69,500 localities, 15,000 more than called for, and 54,000 more than in 1964. Baha’i literature has been translated into 225 more languages bringing the total number to 571; 63
[p. 114] Temple sites, 56 National Haziratu’l-Quds, and 62 National Endowments have been acquired bringing the total numbers of these properties to 98, 112 and 104 respectively; 50 Teaching Institutes and Summer and Winter Schools are playing their part in Baha’i education and 15 Publishing Trusts produce Baha’i literature in major languages of the world. The Mother Temple of Latin America has been built and dedicated. Among those goals whose achievement is dependent on favorable circumstances outside our control are the incorporation of Assemblies and recognition of Baha’i Holy Days. It is gratifying to record that 90 National Spiritual Assemblies and 1,556 Local Spiritual Assemblies — 181 more than the total number called for — are incorporated, while Baha’i Holy Days are recognized in 64 countries and Baha’i certification of marriage in 40. This great expansion of the Faith required an army of international pioneers. Two major calls were raised, for 461 and 733, which together with others for particular posts made an overall total of I, 344. The Community of the Most Great Name responded with 3,553 who actually left their homes, 2,265 of whom are still at their posts. At the World Center of the Faith the collation and classification of the Baha’i Sacred Scriptures and of the writings of Shoghi Effendi have been carried forward in ever increasing volume, a task supported and enriched by the labors of a special committee appointed by the Persian National Spiritual Assembly. The material at the World Center includes some 2,600 original Tablets by Baha’u’llah, 6,000 by ‘Abdu’l-Baha and 2,300 letters of Shoghi Effendi. There are in addition some 18,000 authenticated copies of other such Tablets and letters. All these have been studied, important passages from them excerpted and classified, and the subject matter indexed under 400 general headings. A Synopsis and Codification of the Laws and Ordinances of the Kitab-i-Aqdas — completing the considerable progress made by the beloved Guardian in this task — is being published on the Centenary of the Revelation of the Most Holy Book, which, as already announced, is to be celebrated both in the Holy Land and throughout the Baha’i world during this Ridvan. The Constitution of the Universal House of Justice, hailed by Shoghi Effendi as the Most Great Law of the Faith of Baha’u’llah, has been formulated and published. The gardens in Bahji and on Mount Carmel have been significantly extended and plans have been approved for the befitting development and beautification of the entire area of Baha’i property surrounding the Holy Shrines in Bahji and Haifa. The worldwide proclamation of the Faith, an intensive and long-to-be-sustained process initiated during the third phase of the Plan, opened in October 1967 with the commemoration of the Centenary of Baha’u’llah’s Proclamation to the kings and rulers which had centered around His revelation of the Suriy-i-Muluk in Adrianople. This historic event was commemorated at six Intercontinental Conferences held simultaneously around the planet. A further nine Oceanic and Continental Conferences held during the Plan gave great impetus to this proclamation program. The fifteen Conferences were attended by nearly 17,000 believers and attracted great publicity by press and radio and were made the occasion of acquainting dignitaries and notabilities with the Divine Message. The presentation, on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, to 142 Heads of State, of a specially produced book containing the translation into English of the Tablets and passages of Scripture in which Baha’u’llah, some hundred years before, had issued His mighty Proclamation to mankind, initiated this campaign, which will continue long beyond the end of the Nine Year Plan. The outstanding development in the relationship of the Baha’i International Community to the United Nations was the accreditation of that Community as a nongovernmental organization with consultative status to the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations. The Baha’i International Community now has a permanent representative at United Nations and maintains an office in New York. The loved and revered Hands of the Cause have rendered sacrificial and distinguished service throughout the Nine Year Plan. They have, in all parts of the world, inspired the friends, assisted National Spiritual Assemblies, promoted the teaching work and played a vital part in the success of the Plan. The lagging fortunes of more than one national community have been revolutionized by a visit of a Hand of the Cause; swift and energetic action, inspired by the Hand, has been followed by astonishing results, completely reversing that community’s prospects. They have added distinguished works to the literature of the Faith. The goal of the Plan to develop “The institution of the Hands of the Cause of God, in consultation with the body of the Hands of the Cause, with a view to the extension into the future of its appointed functions of protection and propagation,” was accomplished in stages, leading to the establishment of eleven Continental Boards of Counselors, whose members were appointed by the Universal House of Justice and who assumed responsibility for the Auxiliary Boards for protection and propagation. The beloved Hands no longer remained individually identified with any particular continent except insofar as their residence was concerned — but extended their sphere of action to the whole planet. The Continental Boards of Counselors, advised and guided by the Hands of the Cause of God and working in close collaboration with them, have already, in their brief period of office, performed outstanding and distinguished services. Three highly portentous developments have taken place during the Nine Year Plan, namely, the advance of youth to the forefront of the teaching work, a great increase in the financial resources of the Faith, and an astonishing proliferation of inter-National Assembly assistance projects. The first, the heart-warming upsurge of Baha’i youth, has changed the face of the teaching work; impenetrable barriers have been broken or overpassed by eager teams of young Baha’is, dedicated and prayerful, presenting the Divine Message in ways acceptable to their own generation from which it has spread and is spreading throughout the social structure. The entire Baha’i world has been thrilled by this development. Having rejected the values and standards of the old world, Baha’i youth are eager to learn and adapt themselves to the standards of Baha’u’llah and so to offer the Divine Program to fill the gap left by the abandonment of the old order. The vast increase in the financial resources of the Faith called for under the Plan has evoked a heart- warming response from the entire Baha’i community. Not only the Baha’i International Fund but the local, national and continental Funds of the Faith have been sacrificially supported. This practical proof of the love which the friends bear for the Faith has enabled all the work to go forward — the support of pioneers and travelling teachers, the raising of Mashriqu’l-Adhkars and acquisition of Baha’i properties, the purchase of Holy Places in the Cradle of the Faith and at the World Center, the development of educational institutions and all the multifarious activities of a vigorous, onward- marching, constructive world community. It is of interest that sixty percent of the international funds of the Faith is used to assist the work of National Spiritual Assemblies, to promote the teaching work and to defend the Cause against attacks in many parts of the world. Without such help from the Baha’i world community many National Assemblies would be paralyzed in their efforts
[p. 118] of expansion and deepening. The administration of Huququ’llah has been strengthened in preparation for its extension to other parts of the world. An International Deputization Fund was established at the World Center to assist pioneers and travelling teachers who were ready to serve but unable to provide their own expenses, and this Fund was later extended to the support of projects on national homefronts. Contribution to the Fund is a service which will never cease to be open to all believers; the growth of the Faith and the rise of its Administrative Order require an ever-increasing outpouring of our substance, commensurate in however small a measure with the bounty and liberality of the outpouring confirmations of Baha’u’llah. When the Plan was launched 219 assistance projects were specified whereby national communities would render financial, pioneering or teaching aid to others, generally remote from them geographically. The intention was to strengthen the bonds of unity between distant parts of the Baha’i world with different social, cultural and historical backgrounds. At the end of the Plan more than 600 such projects had been carried out. Intercommunity cooperation has been further developed in the field of publishing Baha’i literature, notably in Spanish and French and the languages of Africa. A vast field of fruitful endeavor lies open in this respect. In some countries due to lack of freedom, to actual repression in others, to legal and physical obstacles in yet others, certain particular goals — mainly those requiring incorporation or recognition — could not be won. Foreseeing this, the Universal House of Justice called upon national communities in lands where there is freedom to practice and promote the Faith, to exceed their own goals and thus ensure that the overall goals would be won. It has proved still impossible to
[p. 119] begin work on the erection of the Mashriqu’l-Adhkar in Tihran, but contracts have been signed for the preparation of detailed drawings, geological surveys are being made, and everything made ready for immediate action whenever the situation in Persia becomes propitious. During the period of the Nine Year Plan a number of important and interesting events, not directly associated with it, have taken place. First and foremost was the commemoration, in the precincts of the Qiblih of the Baha’i world, of the centenary of the arrival at the prison-city of ‘Akka, as foretold in former Scriptures, of the Promised One of all ages. The Mansion of Mazra’ih, often referred to by the beloved Guardian as one of the “twin mansions” in which the Blessed Beauty resided after nine years within the walled prison-city of ‘Akka, and dear to the hearts of the believers by reason of its associations with their Lord, has at last been purchased together with 24,000 square meters of land extending into the plain on its eastward side. The raising of the obelisk, marking the site of the future Mashriqu’l-Adhkar on Mount Carmel, completes a project initiated by the beloved Guardian. The decision has been made and announced to the Baha’i world, and the initial steps have been taken for the erection on Mount Carmel, at a site on the Arc as purposed by Shoghi Effendi, of the building which shall serve as the Seat of the Universal House of Justice. The progress of the Cause of God gathers increasing momentum and we may with confidence look forward to the day when this Community, in God’s good time, shall have traversed the stages predicated for it by its Guardian, and shall have raised on this tormented planet the fair mansions of God’s Own Kingdom wherein humanity may find surcease from its self-induced confusion and chaos and ruin, and the hatreds and violence of this time shall be transmuted into an abiding sense of world brotherhood and peace. All this shall be accomplished within the Covenant of the everlasting Father, the Covenant of Baha’u’llah.
THE UNIVERSAL HOUSE OF JUSTICE (The Universal House of Justice, Messages 1968-1973, p. 113-120)
1974: BEGINNING OF A NINETEEN YEAR PERIOD OF UPHEAVALDearly-loved Friends,
CALAMITIES HAVE BEEN AND ARE OCCURRING
“You make reference to calamities and request specific answers if there are any as to when they may occur and with what magnitude. The House of Justice noted your comments that you have read what Bahá’u’lláh had to say about the collapse of the old world order and the coming of the new, and that in recent times friends returning from their pilgrimages spoke of meeting with Hands of the Cause and members of the House of Justice in which the coming of great world upheavals was related to a time ‘around the end of the Five Year Plan and afterwards’. The House of Justice points out that calamities have been and are occurring and will continue to happen until mankind has been chastened sufficiently to accept the Manifestation for this day. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá anticipated that the Lesser Peace could be established before the end of the twentieth century. However, Bahá’ís should not be diverted from the work of the Cause by the fear of catastrophes but should try to understand why they occur. The beloved Guardian, in innumerable places, has explained the reasons for these occurrences, and since they happen from time to time as explained above we should not be concerned as to when they occur.” (From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, April 15, 1976, Compilations, Lights of Guidance, p. 128)
1979: THE SEVEN YEAR PLANDearly loved Friends,
1 The emergence from obscurity, which has been so marked a feature of the Cause of God during the first five years of the Seven Year Plan, has been attended by changes, both external and internal, affecting the Bahá'í world community. Externally, there are signs of a crystallization of a public image of the Cause---largely uninformed, however friendly ---while internally growing maturity and confidence are indicated by increased administrative ability, a desire for Bahá'í communities to render service to the larger body of mankind and a deepening understanding of the relevance of the divine Message to modern problems. Both these aspects of change must be taken into consideration as we enter the third and final phase of the Seven Year Plan.
2 The year just closing has been overshadowed by the continued persecution of the friends in Iran. They have been forced to disband their administrative structure, they have been harassed, dispossessed, dismissed from employment, made homeless and their children are refused education. Some six hundred men, women and children are now in prison, some denied any contact with their friends and relatives, some subjected to torture and all under pressure to recant their faith. Their heroic and exemplary steadfastness has been the mainspring in bringing the Cause out of obscurity, and it is the consolation of their hearts that their suffering results in unprecedented advances in teaching and proclaiming the divine Message to a world so desperately in need of its healing power. For this they embrace the final service of martyrdom. Our obligation is crystal clear. We cannot fail them now. Sacrificial action in teaching and promoting the Cause of God must follow every new instance of publicity arising from their persecution. Let this be our message to them of love and spiritual union.
3 In the international sphere, the beloved Hands of the Cause, ever growing in our love and admiration, have, whenever their health has permitted, continued to uplift and encourage the friends and to promote the unity and onward march of the army of life. The International Teaching Centre, operating from its world seat, has provided loving and wise leadership and direction to the Boards of Counsellors. Its sphere of service has been immensely extended by the assignment of new responsibilities and by raising the number of its Counsellor members to seven. The dedicated services of the Counsellors in all the continents, ably supported by the Auxiliary Board members, have been invaluable in fostering the spiritual health and integrity of the world wide community. To develop further this vital organ of the Administrative Order, it has been decided to establish a term of five years' service for those appointed to the Auxiliary Boards, commencing November 26, 1986. The work of the Bahá'í International Community in relationship with the United Nations has brought increasing appreciation of our social attitudes and principles, and in some instances---notably the sessions on human rights---the Bahá'í participation has been spectacular, again resulting from the heroism of the Persian friends. The Geneva office has been consolidated and additional staff engaged to deal with its expanding activities. In spite of severe problems the construction of the Indian and Samoan Houses of Worship has progressed satisfactorily, and the latter will be dedicated and opened to public worship between August 30th and September 3rd 1984, when the Universal House of Justice will be represented by the Hand of the Cause Amatu'l-Bahá Rúhíyyih Khánum. Immediately following the International Convention last Ridván, two new National Spiritual Assemblies were formed---in St. Lucia and Dominica. Two new radio stations will make their inaugural broadcasts this year, namely Radio Bahá'í of Bolivia, at Caracallo, and WLGI, the Bahá'í radio station at the Louis Gregory Institute, in the United States. Bahá'í membership in eleven countries, all in the Third World and nine of them island communities, have reached or surpassed one per cent of the total population.
4 During the final months of the second phase of the Seven Year Plan a generous response has been made by believers and institutions alike to an appeal which set out the increasing needs of the International Fund. We are confident that sustained and regular contributions during the final phase of the Plan will enable its aims and objectives to be fully accomplished.
5 The entrance of the Cause onto the world scene is apparent from a number of public statements in which we have been characterized as "model citizens", "gentle", "law-abiding", "not guilty of any political offence or crime"; all excellent but utterly inadequate insofar as the reality of the Faith and its aims and purposes are concerned. Nevertheless people are willing to hear about the Faith, and the opportunity must be seized. Persistently greater and greater efforts must be made to acquaint the leaders of the world, in all departments of life, with the true nature of Bahá'u'lláh's revelation as the sole hope for the pacification and unification of the world. Simultaneous with such a programme must be unabated, vigorous pursuit of the teaching work, so that we may be seen to be a growing community, while universal observance by the friends of the Bahá'í laws of personal living will assert the fulness of, and arouse a desire to share in, the Bahá'í way of life. By all these means the public image of the Faith will become, gradually but constantly, nearer to its true character.
6 The upsurge of zeal throughout the Bahá'í world for exploration of the new dimension of social and economic development is both heartwarming and uplifting to all our hopes. This energy within the community, carefully and wisely directed, will undoubtedly bring about a new era of consolidation and expansion, which in turn will attract further widespread attention, so that both aspects of change in the Bahá'í world community will be interactive and mutually propelling.
7 A prime element in the careful and wise direction needed is the achievement of victory in the Seven Year Plan, paying great attention to the development and strengthening of Local Assemblies. Great efforts must be made to encourage them to discharge their primary duties of meeting regularly, holding the Nineteen Day Feasts and observing Holy Days, organizing children's classes, encouraging the practice of family prayers, undertaking extension teaching projects, administering the Bahá'í Fund and constantly encouraging and leading their communities in all Bahá'í activities. The equality of men and women is not, at the present time, universally applied. In those areas where traditional inequality still hampers its progress we must take the lead in practising this Bahá'í principle. Bahá'í women and girls must be encouraged to take part in the social, spiritual and administrative activities of their communities. Bahá'í youth, now rendering exemplary and devoted service in the forefront of the army of life, must be encouraged, even while equipping themselves for future service, to devise and execute their own teaching plans among their contemporaries.
8 Now, as we enter the final, two year phase of the Seven Year Plan, we rejoice in the addition of nine new National Spiritual Assemblies; three in Africa, three in the Americas, two in Asia, one in Europe, bringing the total number to 143. Five more are to be established in Ridván 1985. They are Ciskei, Mali and Mozambique in Africa and the Cook Islands and the West Caroline Islands in Australasia. Thus the Plan will end with a minimum of 148 National Spiritual Assemblies. By that time plans must be approved for the completion of the arc around the Monument Gardens on Mount Carmel, including the siting and designs of the three remaining buildings to be constructed around that arc.
9 There can be no doubt that the progress of the Cause from this time onward will be characterized by an ever increasing relationship to the agencies, activities, institutions and leading individuals of the non-Bahá'í world. We shall acquire greater stature at the United Nations, become better known in the deliberations of governments, a familiar figure to the media, a subject of interest to academics, and inevitably the envy of failing establishments. Our preparation for and response to this situation must be a continual deepening of our faith, an unwavering adherence to its principles of abstention from partisan politics and freedom from prejudices, and above all an increasing understanding of its fundamental verities and relevance to the modern world.
10 Accompanying this Ridván message are a call for 298 pioneers to settle in 79 national communities, and specific messages addressed to each of the present 143 national communities. They are the fruit of intensive study and consultation by the Universal House of Justice and the International Teaching Centre, and set out the goals to be won and the objectives to be pursued by each national community so that Ridván 1986 may witness the completion in glorious victory of this highly significant Plan. It will have run its course through a period of unprecedented world confusion, bearing witness to the vitality, the irresistible advance and socially creative power of the Cause of God, standing out in sharp contrast to the accelerating decline in the fortunes of the generality of mankind.
11 Beloved Friends, the bounties and protection with which the Blessed Beauty is nurturing and sheltering the infant organism of His new world order through this violent period of transition and trial, give ample assurance of victories to come if we but follow the path of His guidance. He rewards our humble efforts with effusions of grace which bring not only advancement to the Cause but assurance and happiness to our hearts, so that we may indeed look upon our neighbours with bright and shining faces, confident that from our services now will eventuate that blissful future which our descendants will inherit, glorifying Bahá'u'lláh, the Prince of Peace, the Redeemer of Mankind.
With loving Bahá'í greetings,
The Universal House of JusticeRidvan 1985
1 As we enter the final year of the Seven Year Plan, confidence of victory and a growing sense of the opening of a new stage in the onward march of the Faith must arouse in every Bahá'í heart feelings of gratitude and eager expectation. Victory in the Plan is now within sight, and at its completion the summation of its achievements may well astonish us all. But the great, the historic feature of this period is the emergence of the Faith from obscurity, promoted by the steadfast heroism of the renowned, the indefatigable, dearly-loved Bahá'í community of Bahá'u'lláh's and the Báb's native land.
2 This dramatic change in the status of the Faith of God, occurring at so chaotic a moment in the world's history when statesmen and leaders and governors of human institutions are witnessing, with increasing despair, the bankruptcy and utter ineffectiveness of their best efforts to stay the tide of disruption, forces upon us, the Bahá'ís, the obligation to consider anew and ponder deeply the beloved Guardian's statement that "The principle of the Oneness of Mankind---the pivot round which all the teachings of Bahá'u'lláh revolve---... implies an organic change in the structure of present-day society, a change such as the world has not yet experienced."(1)
3 Intimations in the non-Bahá'í world of a rapidly growing realization that mankind is indeed entering a new stage in its evolution present us with unprecedented opportunities to show that the Bahá'í world community is not only "the nucleus but the very pattern" of that world society which it is the purpose of Bahá'u'lláh to establish and towards which a harassed humanity, albeit largely unconsciously, is striving.
4 The time has come for the Bahá'í community to become more involved in the life of the society around it, without in the least supporting any of the world's moribund and divisive concepts, or slackening its direct teaching efforts, but rather, by association, exerting its influence towards unity, demonstrating its ability to settle differences by consultation rather than by confrontation, violence or schism, and declaring its faith in the divine purpose of human existence.
5 Bahá'í Youth are taking advantage of the United Nations' designation of 1985 as the Year of Youth to launch their own campaign of active co-operation with other youth groups, sharing with them Bahá'í ideals and a vision of what they intend to make of the world. The Bahá'í community will be strongly represented at the culminating event of the United Nations' Decade of Women in this same year. 1986 has been named the Year of Peace, and the Faith will be far from silent or obscure on that issue. Even now the House of Justice is making plans for the presentation of the Bahá'í concepts on peace to the governments and leaders of the world and, through the Bahá'í world community, to its national and local authorities and to all sections of the variegated world society. But it is in the local Bahá'í communities that the most widespread presentation of the Faith can take place. It is here that the real pattern of Bahá'í life can be seen. It is here that the power of Bahá'u'lláh to organize human affairs on a basis of spiritual unity can be most apparent. Every Local Spiritual Assembly which unitedly strives to grow in maturity and efficiency and encourages its community to fulfil its destiny as a foundation stone of Bahá'u'lláh's World Order can add to a growing ground swell of interest in and eventual recognition of the Cause of God as the sole hope for mankind.
6 Such considerations as these are now occupying the earnest attention of the Universal House of Justice. Their specific implementation will form a large part of the next Plan which will follow immediately on the completion of the present one and will be of six years' duration. By winning the Seven Year Plan, by consolidating our local communities, and above all by strengthening and deepening our understanding of the purpose of Bahá'u'lláh's Revelation we shall be preparing ourselves to play our part in bringing about that transformation of human life on this planet which must take place ere it becomes fit to receive the bounties and blessings of God's own Kingdom.
With loving Bahá'í greetings,
The Universal House of Justice1992: END OF THE 18 YEARS PERIOD OF UPHEAVAL SPOKEN OF IN NAW-RUZ 1974 HOLY YEAR – CENTENARY OF THE ASCENSION OF BAHA’U’LLAH
2 January 1986
The Baha’is of the world
Dearly loved friends,
The eager expectation with which we welcomed to the World Centre, on 27 December, sixty-four Counsellors from the five continents to discuss, with the International Teaching Centre, the challenges and opportunities facing the Baha’i world community, has, at the conclusion of their historic conference, been transmuted into feelings of deepest joy, gratitude and love. Graced by the presence of the Hands of the Cause Amatu’l-Baha Ruhiyyih Khanum, Ugo Giachery, ‘Ali-Akbar Furutan, ‘Ali-Muhammad Varqa and Collis Featherstone, the Conference was organized and managed with admirable foresight and efficiency by the International Teaching Centre, whose individual members watched over and served untiringly the needs of the participants and the progress of the Conference itself. Convened in the concourse of the Seat of the Universal House of Justice as the Counsellors of the Baha’i world entered upon their new five-year term of office, within months of the termination of the Seven Year Plan and the opening of the new Six Year Plan, its aura heightened by the spiritual potencies of the Holy Shrines and the euphoric sense of victory and blessing now pervading the entire Baha’i world, the Conference attained such heights of consultative exaltation, spirituality and power as only those serving the Blessed Beauty can enjoy. The organic growth of the Cause of God, indicated by recent significant developments in its life, becomes markedly apparent in the light of the main objectives and expectations of the Six Year Plan: a vast expansion of the numerical and financial resources of the Cause; enlargement of its status in the world; a world-wide increase in the production, distribution and use of Baha’i literature; a firmer and world-wide demonstration of the Baha’i way of life requiring special consideration of the Baha’i education of children and youth, the strengthening of Baha’i family life and attention to universal participation and the spiritual enrichment of individual life; further acceleration in the process of the maturation of local and national Baha’i communities and a dynamic consolidation of the unity of the two arms of the Administrative Order; an extension of the involvement of the Baha’i world community in the needs of the world around it; and the pursuit of social and economic development in well-established Baha’i communities. These are some of the features of the Six Year Plan which will open on 21 April 1986 and terminate on 20 April 1992. Ridvan 1992 will mark the inception of a Holy Year, during which the Centenary of the Ascension of Baha’u’llah will be observed by commemorations around the world and the inauguration of His Covenant will be celebrated, in the City of the Covenant, by the holding of the second Baha’i World Congress. The beloved Counsellors, strengthened and enriched by their experience in the Holy Land, will, as early as possible, consult with all National Spiritual Assemblies on measures to conclude triumphantly the current Plan, and on preparations to launch the Six Year Plan. In anticipation of those consultations, National Spiritual Assemblies will receive the full announcement of the aims and characteristics of that Plan, so that together with the Counsellors they may formulate the national plans which will, for each community, establish its pursuit of the overall objectives. This new process, whereby the national goals of the next Plan are to be largely formulated by National Spiritual Assemblies and Boards of Counsellors, signalizes the inauguration of a new stage in the unfoldment of the Administrative Order. Our beloved Guardian anticipated a succession of epochs during the Formative Age of the Faith; have no hesitation in recognizing that this new development in the maturation of Baha’i institutions marks the inception of the fourth epoch of that Age. Shoghi Effendi perceived in the organic life of the Cause a dialectic of victory and crisis. The unprecedented triumphs, generated by the adamantine steadfastness of the Iranian friends, will inevitably provoke opposition to test and increase our strength. Let every Baha’i in the world be assured that whatever may befall this growing Faith of God is but incontrovertible evidence of the loving care with which the King of Glory and His martyred Herald, through the incomparable Centre of His Covenant and our beloved Guardian, are preparing His humble followers for ultimate and magnificent triumph. Our loving prayers are with you all. The Universal House of Justice Ridvan Message 1986 To the Baha’is of the world Dearly loved friends, The Divine Springtime is fast advancing and all the atoms of the earth are responding to the vibrating influence of Baha’u’llah’s Revelation. The evidences of this new life are clearly apparent in the progress of the Cause of God. As we contemplate, however momentarily, the unfolding pattern of its growth, we can but recognize, with wonder and gratitude, the irresistible power of that Almighty Hand which guides its destinies. Review of Notable Achievements during the Seven Year Plan This progress has accelerated notably during the Seven Year Plan, witnessed by the achievement of many important enterprises throughout the Baha’i world and vital developments at the heart of the Cause itself. The restoration and opening to pilgrimage of the southern wing of the House of ‘Abdu’llah Pasha; the completion and occupation of the Seat of the Universal House of Justice; the approval of detailed plans for the remaining edifices around the Arc; the expansion of the membership and responsibilities of the International Teaching Centre and the Continental Boards of Counsellors; the establishment of the offices of Social and Economic Development, and of Public Information; the dedication of the Mother Temple of the Pacific, and dramatic progress with the building of the Temple in India; the expansion of the teaching work throughout the world, resulting in the formation of twenty-three new National Spiritual Assemblies, nearly 8,000 new Local Spiritual Assemblies, the opening of more than 16,000 new localities and representation within the Baha’i community of 300 new tribes; the issuing of 2,196 new publications, 898 of which are editions of the Holy Text and the enrichment of Baha’i literature by productions in 114 new languages; the initiation of 737 new social and economic development projects; the addition of three radio stations, with three more soon to be inaugurated — these stand out as conspicuous achievements in a Plan which will be remembered as having set the seal on the third epoch of the Formative Age.+F860 Emergence from Obscurity The opening of that Plan coincided with the recrudescence of savage persecution of the Baha’i community in Iran, a deliberate effort to eliminate the Cause of God from the land of its birth. The heroic steadfastness of the Persian friends has been the mainspring of tremendous international attention focused on the Cause, eventually bringing it to the agenda of the General Assembly of the United Nations, and, together with world-wide publicity in all the media, accomplishing its emergence from the obscurity which characterized and sheltered the first period of its life. This dramatic process impelled the Universal House of Justice to address a Statement on Peace to the Peoples of the World and arrange for its delivery to Heads of State and the generality of the rulers. Maturation of the Institutions of the Cause Paralleling these outstanding events has been a remarkable unfoldment of organic growth in the maturity of the institutions of the Cause. The development of capacity and responsibility on their part and the devolution upon them of continually greater autonomy have been fostered by the encouragement of ever closer co-operation between the twin arms of the Administrative Order. This process now takes a large stride forward as the National Spiritual Assemblies and Counsellors consult together to formulate, for the first time, the national goals of an international teaching plan. Together they must carry them out; together they must implement the world objectives of the Six Year Plan as they apply in each country. This significant development is a befitting opening to the fourth epoch of the Formative Age and initiates a process which will undoubtedly characterize that epoch as national communities grow in strength and influence and are able to diffuse within their own countries the spirit of love and social unity which is the hallmark of the Cause of God. World Centre Goals The goals to be achieved at the World Centre include publication of a copiously annotated English translation of the Kitab-i-Aqdas and related texts, education of the Baha’i world in the law of the Huququ’llah, pursuit of plans for the erection of the remaining buildings on the Arc, and the broadening of the basis of the international relations of the Faith. The major world objectives of the Plan have already been sent to National Spiritual Assemblies and Continental Boards of Counsellors for their mutual consultation and implementation. Dear friends, as the world passes through its darkest hour before the dawn, the Cause of God, shining ever more brightly, presses forward to that glorious break of day when the Divine Standard will be unfurled and the Nightingale of Paradise warble its melody. With loving Baha’i greetings, The Universal House of Justice Ridvan 1987 To the Baha’is of the World Dearly-loved Friends, The launching of the Six Year Plan at Ridvan 1986 coincided with the opening of a new epoch — the fourth — in the organic unfoldment of the Formative Age of our Faith. The administrative institutions of this growing Cause of God had already begun to show signs of an increasing maturity, while at the same time emerging from the protective obscurity of their early days into the larger arena of public notice. These twin processes were signalized by a development of far- reaching consequence to the internal life of the Baha’i community and by an outward activity of a magnitude unprecedented in its entire history. The former was a devolution of responsibility whereby all national communities, through their National Spiritual Assemblies, in consultation with Counselors, Local Spiritual Assemblies and the generality of believers, were requested to formulate, for the first time, their own objectives for achievement during the new Plan. This expectation of maturity challenging the national communities was matched by their formulation of national plans submitted to the World Centre for coordination into the world-embracing Six Year Plan. The latter was a united uprising of the entire Baha’i world community to distribute the statement, “The Promise of World Peace,” issued in October 1985, to the peoples of the world. Heads of State, large numbers of the members of national governments, diplomats, teachers, trade unionists, leaders of religion, eminent members of the judiciary, the police, legal, medical and other professions, members of local authorities, clubs and associations, and thousands of
[p. 46] individuals have been presented with the statement. It is estimated that more than a million copies, in some seventy languages, have so far been distributed. These two activities alone have heavily reinforced the growing strength and maturity of the Baha’i world community and given it a more clearly defined and readily recognizable public image. Other factors have contributed greatly to the rapid entrance of the Faith onto the world stage. Indeed it appears that every activity of the widespread Army of Life is now observed or commented upon by some section of the public, from the General Assembly of the United Nations to small and even remote local communities. The steadfastness of the sorely-tried Persian believers continues to be the mainspring of this world- wide attention increasingly being focused upon the Faith. While the brutal executions of heroic martyrs are now less frequent, the harassment and deprivations, vilification and plundering of the long-persecuted community continue — more than 200 are still in prison — giving the representatives of the Baha’i International Community at the United Nations firm grounds for strong and persistent appeals, which have aroused the concern of the General Assembly itself, and resulted in representations to the Iranian Government on behalf of the defenseless Baha’is by the Commission on Human Rights, and by many powerful nations including the various governments constituting the European Community. All this has kept our beloved Faith under international observation, an interest increased not only by the circulation of the Peace Statement but also by the rapidly expanding activities in the field of economic and social development, ranging from the inauguration and operation of radio stations — of which there are seven now broadcasting — to schools, literacy programs, agricultural assistance and a host of small but valuable undertakings at village level in many parts of the world. National Baha’i communities have organized and successfully conducted inter-religious conferences, peace seminars, symposiums on racism and other subjects on which we have a specific contribution to make, often achieving widespread publicity and the interest of highly-placed leaders of society. Baha’i youth, inspired and uplifted by the vision and idealism of “the new race of men” have, through their many gatherings, attracted large numbers of their compeers and galvanized their own members to direct their lives towards service in the many fields in which a rich harvest awaits the dedicated Baha’i worker. Added to this rapidly burgeoning association of our fellowmen with Baha’i activities, has been one outstanding magnificent achievement, the completion and dedication of the wondrous Baha’i Temple in New Delhi, which received, within the first thirty days of its dedication to the worship of God, more than 120,000 visitors. This symbol of purity, proclaiming the Oneness of God and His Messengers in that land of myriad diverse religious beliefs, befittingly marks the power and grandeur with which these portentous days in the life of God’s Holy Cause have been endowed. The stage is set for universal, rapid and massive growth of the Cause of God. The immediate and basic challenge is pursuit of the goals of the Six Year Plan, the preliminary stages of which have already been initiated. The all-important teaching work must be imaginatively, persistently and sacrificially continued, ensuring the enrolment of ever larger numbers who will provide the energy, the resources and spiritual force to enable the beloved Cause to worthily play its part in the redemption of mankind. To reinforce this process the international goals of the Plan have been adopted, calling for the undertaking of many hundreds of inter-assembly assistance projects, the re- formation of the National Spiritual Assembly of Zaire at Ridvan 1987 and the establishment, in the course of the Plan, of new National Spiritual Assemblies, of which those of Angola, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau and Macau have already been approved. During the first year of the Six Year Plan 338 pioneers, guided by the needs set forth in previous plans, have already arisen and settled in 119 countries. A new appeal is now being prepared, details of which will be announced shortly. The promotion and facilitation of service projects for Baha’i youth in the emergent countries of the world are now called for. National Spiritual Assemblies are asked to arrange, in consultation with each other and with the assistance of the Continental Boards of Counselors, the best means of ensuring the effective service of those who respond. Preparations for the Holy Year 1992, when the 100th Anniversary of the Ascension of the Blessed Beauty and the inception of the Covenant will be commemorated, have already begun. It is fitting, then, that the Covenant of Baha’u’llah, which links the past and the future with the progressive stages towards the fulfillment of God’s ancient Promise, should be the major theme of the Six Year Plan. Concentration on this theme will enable us all to obtain a deeper appreciation of the meaning and purpose of His Revelation — “A Revelation,” in the words of the Guardian, “hailed as the promise and crowning glory of past ages and centuries, as the consummation of all the Dispensations within the Adamic Cycle, inaugurating an era of at least a thousand years’ duration, and a cycle destined to last no less than five thousand centuries, signalizing the end of the Prophetic Era and the beginning of the Era of Fulfillment, unsurpassed alike in the duration of its Author’s ministry
[p. 49] and the fecundity and splendour of His mission…”. The questions that such concentrated study should answer will undoubtedly include the meaning of the Baha’i Covenant, its origin and what should be our attitude towards it. Ever present in our contemplation of these profound questions is the magnetic figure of ‘Abdu’l- Baha, the Centre of the Covenant, the Mystery of God, the perfect Exemplar, Whose unerring interpretation of the Holy Texts and luminous examples of their application to personal conduct shed light on a way of life we must strive diligently to follow. During the course of the Six Year Plan the 75th anniversary of His visit to the West will be observed with befitting celebrations and proclamation activities. Simultaneously, there will be observed the 50th anniversary of the first Seven Year Plan in the Americas, launched in 1937 at the instigation of Shoghi Effendi, and which, in setting in motion the systematic execution of ‘Abdu’l-Baha’s grand design for the spiritual conquest of the planet, marked the opening of the first epoch of the Divine Plan. Great and wonderful tasks challenge us as never before. They demand equally great and wonderful sacrifice, dedication and single-minded devotion from every one of us. At present, the Baha’i International Fund is utterly inadequate to support the tremendous expansion now required in all the multitudinous activities of the Baha’i world community. The record of the Seven Year Plan, just completed, stands witness to our ability to meed the growing demands of the Cause. The heroism of the beloved friends in Iran, the eager response of 3,694 dedicated pioneers to the call raised for this essential service, the unceasing activity of teachers, administrators, local communities and individual believers throughout the entire organism of the embryonic world order, have endowed this growing Army of Life with new strengths and capacities. As we stride forward into the future we may be fully assured of His ever present bounty and the final victory of our efforts to establish His Kingdom in this troubled world. With loving Baha’i greetings, The Universal House of Justice BEGINNING OF THE 21ST: CLOSE OF THE CENTURY=CLOSE OF THE AGE “Now, in the world of being,” He has moreover explained, “the Hand of Divine power hath firmly laid the foundations of this all-highest bounty, and this wondrous gift. Whatsoever is latent in the innermost of this holy Cycle shall gradually appear and be made manifest, for now is but the beginning of its growth, and the dayspring of the revelation of its signs. Ere the close of this century and of this age, it shall be made clear and evident how wondrous was that spring-tide, and how heavenly was that gift.” (Abdu’l-Bahà, The World Order of Baha’u’llah, p. 205) In one of His Tablets Abdu’l-Baha, elucidating further His noble theme, reveals the following: “In cycles gone by, though harmony was established, yet, owing to the absence of means, the unity of all mankind could not have been achieved. Continents remained widely divided, nay even among the peoples of one and the same continent association and interchange of thought were well nigh impossible. Consequently intercourse, understanding and unity amongst all the peoples and kindreds of the earth were unattainable. In this day, however, means of communication have multiplied, and the five continents of the earth have virtually merged into one…. In like manner all the members of the human family, whether peoples or governments, cities or villages, have become increasingly interdependent. For none is self-sufficiency any longer possible, inasmuch as political ties unite all peoples and nations, and the bonds of trade and industry, of agriculture and education, are being strengthened every day. Hence the unity of all mankind can in this day be achieved. Verily this is none other but one of the wonders of this wondrous age, this glorious century. Of this past ages have been deprived, for this century — the century of light — has been endowed with unique and unprecedented glory, power and illumination. Hence the miraculous unfolding of a fresh marvel every day. Eventually it will be seen how bright its candles will burn in the assemblage of man. “Behold how its light is now dawning upon the world’s darkened horizon. The first candle is unity in the political realm, the early glimmerings of which can now be discerned. The second candle is unity of thought in world undertakings, the consummation of which will ere long be witnessed. The third candle is unity in freedom which will surely come to pass. The fourth candle is unity in religion which is the corner-stone of the foundation itself, and which, by the power of God, will be revealed in all its splendor. The fifth candle is the unity of nations — a unity which in this century will be securely established, causing all the peoples of the world to regard themselves as citizens of one common fatherland. The sixth candle is unity of races, making of all that dwell on earth peoples and kindreds of one race. The seventh candle is unity of language, i.e., the choice of a universal tongue in which all peoples will be instructed and converse. Each and every one of these will inevitably come to pass, inasmuch as the power of the Kingdom of God will aid and assist in their realization.” A World Super-State Over sixty years ago, in His Tablet to Queen Victoria, Baha’u’llah, addressing “the concourse of the rulers of the earth,” revealed the following: “Take ye counsel together, and let your concern be only for that which profiteth mankind and bettereth the condition thereof…. Regard the world as the human body which, though created whole and perfect, has been afflicted, through divers causes, with grave ills and maladies. Not for one day did it rest, nay its sicknesses waxed more severe, as it fell under the treatment of unskilled physicians who have spurred on the steed of their worldly desires and have erred grievously. And if at one time, through the care of an able physician, a member of that body was healed, the rest remained afflicted as before. Thus informeth you the All-Knowing, the All-Wise…. That which the Lord hath ordained as the sovereign remedy and mightiest instrument for the healing of all the world is the union of all its peoples in one universal Cause, one common Faith. This can in no wise be achieved except through the power of a skilled, an all-powerful and inspired Physician. This verily is the truth, and all else naught but error.” In a further passage Baha’u’llah adds these words: “We see you adding every year unto your expenditures and laying the burden thereof on the people whom ye rule; this verily is naught but grievous injustice. Fear the sighs and tears of this Wronged One, and burden not your peoples beyond that which they can endure…. Be reconciled among yourselves, that ye may need armaments no more save in a measure to safeguard your territories and dominions. Be united, O concourse of the sovereigns of the world, for thereby will the tempest of discord be stilled amongst you and your peoples find rest. Should any one among you take up arms against another, rise ye all against him, for this is naught but manifest justice.” What else could these weighty words signify if they did not point to the inevitable curtailment of unfettered national sovereignty as an indispensable preliminary to the formation of the future Commonwealth of all the nations of the world? Some form of a world super-state must needs be evolved, in whose favour all the nations of the world will have willingly ceded every claim to make war, certain rights to impose taxation and all rights to maintain armaments, except for purposes of maintaining internal order within their respective dominions. Such a state will have to include within its orbit an international executive adequate to enforce supreme and unchallengeable authority on every recalcitrant member of the commonwealth; a world parliament whose members shall be elected by the people in their respective countries and whose election shall be confirmed by their respective governments; and a supreme tribunal whose judgment will have a binding effect even in such cases where the parties concerned did not voluntarily agree to submit their case to its consideration. A world community in which all economic barriers will have been permanently demolished and the interdependence of Capital and Labour definitely recognized; in which the clamor of religious fanaticism and strife will have been forever stilled; in which the flame of racial animosity will have been finally extinguished; in which a single code of international law — the product of the considered judgment of the world’s federated representatives — shall have as its sanction the instant and coercive intervention of the combined forces of the federated units; and finally a world community in which the fury of a capricious and militant nationalism will have been transmuted into an abiding consciousness of world citizenship — such indeed, appears, in its broadest outline, the Order anticipated by Baha’u’llah, an Order that shall come to be regarded as the fairest fruit of a slowly maturing age. “The Tabernacle of Unity,” Baha’u’llah proclaims in His message to all mankind, “has been raised; regard ye not one another as strangers…. Of one tree are all ye the fruit and of one bough the leaves…. The world is but one country and mankind its citizens…. Let not a man glory in that he loves his country; let him rather glory in this, that he loves his kind.” (Abdu’l-Bahà, The World Order of Baha’u’llah, p. 38-41)
1. ESTABLISHMENT OF THE LESSER PEACE
2. DEVELOPMENT OF THE INSTITUTIONS
3. CONSTRUCTION OF THE ARC
The raising of this Edifice will in turn herald the construction, in the course of successive epochs of the Formative Age of the Faith, of several other structures, which will serve as the administrative seats of such divinely appointed institutions as the Guardianship, the Hands of the Cause, and the Universal House of Justice. These Edifices will, in the shape of a far-flung arc, and following a harmonizing style of architecture, surround the resting-places of the Greatest Holy Leaf, ranking as foremost among the members of her sex in the Baha’i Dispensation, of her Brother, offered up as a ransom by Baha’u’llah for the quickening of the world and its unification, and of their Mother, proclaimed by Him to be His chosen “consort in all the worlds of God.” The ultimate completion of this stupendous undertaking will mark the culmination of the development of a world-wide divinely-appointed Administrative Order whose beginnings may be traced as far back as the concluding years of the Heroic Age of the Faith. This vast and irresistible process, unexampled in the spiritual history of mankind, and which will synchronize with two no less significant developments — the establishment of the Lesser Peace and the evolution of Baha’i national and local institutions — the one outside and the other within the Baha’i world — will attain its final consummation, in the Golden Age of the Faith, through the raising of the standard of the Most Great Peace, and the emergence, in the plenitude of its power and glory, of the focal Center of the agencies constituting the World Order of Baha’u’llah. The final establishment of this seat of the future Baha’i World Commonwealth will signalize at once the proclamation of the sovereignty of the Founder of our Faith and the advent of the Kingdom of the Father repeatedly lauded and promised by Jesus Christ. This World Order will, in turn, in the course of successive Dispensations of the Baha’i Cycle, yield its fairest fruit through the birth and flowering of a civilization, divinely inspired, unique in its features, world-embracing in its scope, and fundamentally spiritual in its character — a civilization destined as it unfolds to derive its initial impulse from the spirit animating the very institutions which, in their embryonic state, are now stirring in the womb of the present Formative Age of the Faith. (Shoghi Effendi, Messages to the Baha’i World, p. 74-5)