2. THE FIFTH INTERNATIONAL
CONVENTION FOR THE ELECTION OF
THE UNIVERSAL HOUSE OF JUSTICE
It is a time for rejoicing. The Sun of Bahá`u'lláh is mounting the heavens, bringing into ever clearer light the contrast between the gloom, the despair, the frustrations and bewilderment of the world, and the radiance, confidence, joy and certitude of His lovers. Lift up your hearts. The Day of God is here.
HESE concluding words of the Ridván message of the Universal House of Justice to the Bahá`ís of the world was read by Amatu'l-Bahá Rúhíyyih Kh
ánum when she opened the first consultative session of the fifth International Bahá`í Convention on Saturday, 30 April 1983. Simultaneously translated into Spanish and French through headphones which had been made available to the delegates, the message infused the deliberations with an observable tone of optimism.
The initial session was held the previous day at 9:00 a.m. on Friday, 29 April, in the permanent Seat of the Universal House of Justice. The reception concourse was filled to capacity with five hundred and ninety delegates from one hundred and nineteen National Spiritual Assemblies. Also present were eight Hands of the Cause of God--Amatu'l-Bahá Rúhíyyih Kh
ánum, Dr. Ugo Giachery, `Alí-Akbar Furútan, Dh
hádem, Dr. `Alí-Muhammad Varqá, William Sears, John Robarts and Collis Featherstone--the members of the Universal House of Justice, and fifty-seven Counsellors including the four Counsellor members of the International Teaching Centre. A temporary dais had been constructed at the base of the lower steps of the main staircase to accommodate the balloting procedure. An enormous urn filled with hundreds of red and white spring flowers graced the dais. The programme for the day provided for the election of the Universal House of Justice, the taking of the official Convention photograph and the celebration of the Ninth Day of Ridván. In the evening there was screened an audio-visual presentation on the progress of the Seven Year Plan.
The Hand of the Cause Amatu'l-Bahá Rúhíyyih Kh
ánum presided, opening the session with a newly-translated prayer of `Abdu'l-Bahá's which had been distributed throughout the Bahá`í world in order that it might be recited on 28 April on behalf of the Iranian believers in special gatherings held in all communities.1
After additional prayers in French, Spanish and Persian had been read or chanted, delegates representing one hundred and thirty-three National Spiritual Assemblies participated, either in person or by mail, in electing the nine members of the Universal House of Justice who will serve for the next five years. The members elected were: Mr. `Alí Nakh
javání, Mr. Hushmand Fatheazam, Mr. Ian Semple, Dr. David S. Ruhe, Mr. Glenford Mitchell, Mr. David Hofman, Mr. Borrah Kavelin, Mr. Charles Wolcott and Mr. Hugh E. Chance.
Powerful emotions stirred the believers when the name of the National Spiritual Assembly of Írán was announced. The entire assemblage arose as one body and stood with dignity and reverence while the first Chief Teller, Judge Dorothy Nelson, called out the names of the members of the Spiritual Assembly of Írán and the ballots which they had mailed were cast. All remained standing for a further minute of silent tribute.The National Spiritual Assembly of Írán had sent one hundred and thirty-three red roses as its gift to its sister National Assemblies, and one rose was presented to each delegation as they left the dais.
Out of the one thousand one hundred and
1 The text of this prayer appears on p. 290.
Caption of First Picture: Delegates to the International Convention from Benin.
Caption of Second Picture: Delegates to the International Convention from New Caledonia.
Caption of Third Picture: Delegates to the International Convention from Bophuthatswana and Gambia.
Caption of Fourth Picture: Delegates to the International Convention from Thailand.
twenty-nine ballots cast, only three were invalid. The nine members of the Universal House of Justice were elected by over seven thousand out of the ten thousand one hundred and thirty-four individual votes cast.
For three days--from 30 April to 2 May--plenary sessions of the Convention were held in the Haifa Auditorium. Each session was presided over by a Hand of the Cause of God and was marked by the obvious joy of the delegates in being present at this significant event in the history of the Faith of Bahá`u'lláh. The Hands of the Cause suffused the proceedings with humour, fervour and spiritual vitality. The subjects discussed during these general meetings included ways and means to acquaint governments, media, leaders of thought and the general public with the aims and purposes of the Faith; the need to assist and stimulate the Bahá`ís to attain new and higher levels of spiritual understanding and devotion; the growing importance of expansion, consolidation and proclamation of the Faith through a greater variety and a larger volume of Bahá`í literature, and a wider and more effective use of the media, particularly of radio, in broadcasting the divine message; what the institutions of the Cause can do to assist and encourage the development of the economic and social life of the countries of the third world despite the limited resources of the Bahá`í community; and identifying the challenging needs and opportunities of the Faith during the remaining and concluding years of the century.
In addition to the plenary sessions more than one hundred consultative sessions were held in the evening hours between and among delegations that share common problems and interests. These gatherings sometimes lasted until past 11:00 p.m. and involved as many as six or seven national delegations. One evening was devoted to continental meetings, each of the five separate sessions being chaired by a member of the Continental Board of Counsellors.
The opening days of the delegates' stay in Haifa, 26--28 April, were devoted to visits to the Holy Places in `Akká and Haifa and included the first-ever visits to the restored house of `Abdu'lláh Pásh
á where the first pilgrims from the West were received by `Abdu'l-Bahá. The delegates displayed respect and admiration for the meticulous work of restoration and admiration for the scrupulously faithful furnishing which had been accomplished under the careful supervision of Amatu'l-Bahá Rúhíyyih Kh
ánum. A highlight of the three days was a tour of the magnificent new Seat of the Universal House of Justice which stood in the full splendour of the spring gardens covering the Bahá`í properties on Mount Carmel. The Shrine of the Báb, the Seat of the House of Justice, the International Archives building and the Monuments of the Holy Family were each illuminated by night and stood in beautiful contrast against the dark mountain.
Two Holy Days were observed during the Convention period. The Ninth Day of Ridván was celebrated in the courtyard and gardens of the Pilgrim House in the vicinity of the Shrine of the Báb, and the Twelfth Day of Ridván in the Haram-i-Aqdas at Bahjí where Bahá`u'lláh is entombed. Prayers and chants uttered in nine languages included heartfelt supplications on behalf of the suffering Bahá`ís of Írán. On each of the two Holy Days more than nine hundred Bahá`ís circumambulated the Holy Tombs after the respective Tablets of Visitation had been read.
A moving moment occurred at the opening of the observance of the Ninth Day of Ridván when a special message from His Highness Malietoa Tanumafili II, dated 6 April 1983, and read by Amatu'l-Bahá Rúhíyyih Kh
`Precious Members of the Universal House of Justice, Beloved Hands of the Cause, Respected Counsellors, Esteemed Delegates attending the 5th International Bahá`í Convention--
`My dear spiritual Brothers and Sisters,
`While our hearts turn with sorrow and grief to the events engulfing our fellow believers in the cradle of the Faith and witness with profound admiration their exemplary steadfastness and spiritual strength, our grateful hearts turn to Bahá`u'lláh in thanksgiving for the many victories which have come to the Bahá`í World.
`The completion of the magnificent permanent Seat of the Universal House of Justice, the simultaneous rising of the two Houses of Worship in Asia and the Pacific,
the unprecedented support and recognition of the Cause by many distinguished leaders of Governments, are but a few historic milestones our generation has been fortunate to witness.
`A new momentum, a new spirit is felt in this part of the world. In Samoa we witness a new surge of enthusiasm, activity and devotion by the believers and recognition and respect by the friends of our precious Faith. Our grateful appreciation goes to the Universal House of Justice who chose this small nation to be the recipient of that wonderful gift--the first Mashriqu'l-Adhkár of the Pacific. We are equally gratified by the support of the friends of God all over the world, even the smallest and remotest villages in all continents, that are giving for the completion of this enterprise.
`May this historic convention be a source of joy and solace to your hearts. Our most sincere prayers and good wishes are with you during the course of your deliberations.'
Through the spontaneous and devoted efforts of two members of the World Centre staff, the Hands of the Cause and the Counsellors received the gift of a cassette recording of the address of Amatu'l-Bahá Rúhíyyih Kh
ánum which opened, and that of William Sears which closed, the plenary sessions, and were thus able to share with the National Conventions they were scheduled to attend a remembrance from the Holy Land. The address of Mr. Sears was also made available to all National Assemblies in Africa.
The Hands of the Cause, with the exception of Mr. Sears who returned to Canada after addressing the closing session of the Convention, remained in Haifa for another five days to consult with the fifty-three visiting members of the Continental Boards of Counsellors and the International Teaching Centre. The members of the House of Justice participated in the consultations. On the final day the House of Justice entertained the visitors at a farewell luncheon at Mazra`ih.
Picture at Bottom of the Page with the Caption: Friends gathered at Pilgrim House, Haifa, for the observance during the International Convention, 1983, of the Ninth Day of Ridván. Seen seated is Amatu'l-Bahá Rúhíyyih Khánum; standing, the Hand of the Cause Dhikru'lláh Khádem.
3. THE COMPLETION OF CONSTRUCTION OF THE BUILDING
FOR THE SEAT OF THE
UNIVERSAL HOUSE OF JUSTICE
Call out to Zion, O Carmel, and announce the joyful tidings: He that was hidden from mortal eyes is come! His all-conquering sovereignty is manifest; His all-encompassing splendour is revealed. Beware lest thou hesitate or halt ... Verily this is the Day in which both land and sea rejoice at this announcement, the Day for which have been laid up those things which God, through a bounty beyond the ken of mortal mind or heart, hath destined for revelation. Ere long will God sail His Ark upon thee, and will manifest the people of Bahá who have been mentioned in the Book of Names.
Bahá`u'lláh, Tablet of Carmel
5 June 1975 the Universal House of Justice announced to all National Spiritual Assemblies throughout the Bahá`í world that `it is now both necessary and possible to initiate construction of a building that will not only serve the practical needs of a steadily consolidating administrative centre but will, for centuries to come, stand as a visible expression of the majesty of the divinely ordained institutions of the Administrative Order of Bahá`u'lláh'. The building, the House of Justice explained, would be faced `with stone from Italy, and surrounded by a stately colonnade of ... Corinthian columns'. It would contain, in addition to the council chamber of the House of Justice, `a library, a concourse for the reception of pilgrims and dignitaries, storage vaults with air-purification for the preservation of original Tablets and other precious documents, accommodation for the secretariat and the many ancillary services that will be required'. The design, classically beautiful and majestic, was that of Mr. Husayn Armánat whose appointment as architect was announced on 18 September 1973.
On 10 January 1977 the House of Justice announced that an agreement had been signed with a general contractor for the erection of the building. `The erection of this building which, comprising five and a half storeys,' the House of Justice wrote, `far surpasses in size and complexity any building at present in existence at the World Centre, presents a major challenge to the Bahá`í community, whose resources are already too meagre in relation to the great tasks that lie before it. But the spirit of sacrifice has been the hallmark of the followers of Bahá`u'lláh in every race and clime and as they unite to raise this second1
of the great edifices of the Administrative Centre of their Faith they will rejoice at having the inestimable privilege of taking part in a "vast and irresistible process" which Shoghi Effendi stated is "unexampled in the spiritual history of mankind" and which 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 plentitude of its power and glory, of the focal Centre of the agencies constituting the World Order of Bahá`u'lláh".'
Excavation of the site on the slopes of Mount Carmel began on 17 June 1975 and construction proceeded without interruption. On 29 April 1978, assisted by the architect and Mr. `Azíz Kh
abípúr, the resident construction engineer, the Hand of the Cause Amatu'l-Bahá Rúhíyyih Kh
ánum, during the fourth International Convention, placed a casket containing Dust from the Holy Shrines of the Faith in a niche above the front entrance of the Seat of the Universal House of Justice, in the outer wall of the council chamber.
Despite the outbreak of the persecution of the Bahá`í community in the cradle of the Faith and the instigation of repressive measures which resulted in virtually crippling the capacity of the believers in Írán to make financial contributions, heroic compensatory sacrifices were made by the followers of Bahá`u'lláh in every land and which enabled the construction of the edifice--the greatest single undertaking of the Five Year Plan--to proceed without halt, and by Ridván 1983 all was in readiness for the fifth International Convention.
1 The first of the majestic edifices constituting this mighty Centre, was the building for the International Archives of the Faith which was completed in the summer of 1957
...' (Universal House of Justice).
page age 466
One Picture with the Caption: The Permanent Seat of the Universal House of Justice being landscaped in April 1983 for the fifth International Bahá`í Convention.
Caption of First Picture: Aerial photograph taken in April 1979.
Caption of Second Picture: Completing entablature; July 1979.
Caption of Third Picture: Placing first pre-cast sections of terrace walls; 16 October 1979
Caption of First Picture: Placing marble sections on dome; 6 December 1979.
Caption of Second Picture: Placing marble steps leading to the front entrance; 13 December 1979.
Caption of Third Picture: Completion of exterior marble; June 1980..
Caption of First Picture: Laying of granite tiles in reception concourse; 25 November 1980.
Caption of Second Picture: Commencement of roof tiling; 2 February 1981.
Caption of Third Picture: View of roof from Mount Carmel, showing tiling in process; 3 February 1981.
Caption of First Picture: The Seat of the House of Justice viewed from the air; 9 May 1981.
Caption of Second Picture: Erection of rubbed walnut balustrades at eastern end of reception concourse; 15 July 1981.
Caption of Third Picture: Completed decorative, domed ceiling of the Council Chamber; 15 July 1981.
Caption of First Picture: The World Centre observance of the fiftieth anniversary of the passing of the Greatest Holy Leaf, during which a seminar on her life was held in the reception concourse, served as a fitting inauguration of the building; 17 July 1982.
Caption of Second Picture: Erection of main gates; December 1982.
Caption of Third Picture: World Centre staff are seen assisting in moving office equipment and files from the temporary seat of the House of Justice, 10 Haparsim Street, Haifa, into the new building; 28 January 1983.
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Caption of First Picture: Reference library with view of banquet hall below; April 1983.
Caption of Second Picture: Seating area off reception concourse with furniture in place; April 1983.
Caption of Third Picture: Smiling delegates to the fifth International Bahá`í Convention are seen leaving the Permanent Seat of the Universal House of Justice after casting their ballots; April 1983.