Events, of a startling character and of the utmost significance to the Faith of Bahá’u’lláh, have recently transpired throughout the Near and Middle East in such rapid succession, that I feel moved to write about them to those who, in distant lands and with eager hearts, are waiting to witness the fulfillment of the prophecies of Bahá’u’lláh. You will, I am certain, rejoice with me to learn that the quickening forces of internal reform are swiftly awakening from their age-long slumber of negligence those lands which, trodden by the feet of Bahá’u’lláh and wherein are enshrined the memorable scenes of His birth, His ministry, His exiles, His banishments, His suffering and His ascension, are destined in the fulness of time to play a pre-eminent role in the regeneration of the East—nay of all mankind.
From Persia, the cradle of our Faith and the object of our tenderest affections, there breaks upon us the news of the first stirrings of that social and political Reformation which, as we firmly believe, is but the direct and unavoidable consequence of that great spiritual Revival ushered in by the Revelation of Bahá’u’lláh. These social and political forces now released by the Source of such a tremendous Revival are bound in their turn to demolish one by one the barriers that have so long impeded its flow, sapped its vitality and obscured its radiance.
From a communication addressed to me recently by the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of Persia, as well as from reliable reports submitted by the local representatives of the Persian believers, and confirmed by the vivid narrative of visiting pilgrims, it is becoming increasingly manifest that the glowing promises so many times uttered by our departed Master are, with extraordinary exactitude and remarkable swiftness, being successively fulfilled. Reforms of a revolutionary character are, without bloodshed and with negligible resistance, gradually transforming the very basis and structure of Persia’s primitive society. The essentials of public security and order are being energetically provided throughout the length and breadth of the Sháh’s domain, and are hailed with particular gratification by that much harassed section of the population—our long-suffering brethren of that land. The rapidity, the incredible ease, with which the enlightened proposals of its government, in matters of education, trade and finance, means of transportation and travel, and the development of the country’s internal resources, are receiving the unqualified sanction of a hitherto reactionary Legislature, and are overcoming the resistance and apathy of the masses, have undoubtedly tended to hasten the emancipation of our Persian brethren from the remaining fetters of a once despotic and blood-stained regime. The severely repressive and humiliating measures undertaken on the initiative of progressive provincial Governors, and with the connivance of State officials in the Capital, aiming at the scattering and ultimate extinction of a rapidly waning clergy, such as degradation, detainment, deportation and in some cases pitiless execution, are paving the way for the entire removal of the shackles imposed by an ignorant and fanatical priesthood upon the administration of State affairs. In matters of dress; in the obligatory enforcement of a uniform style of national head-gear; in the strict limitation of the number, the rights and the prerogatives of high ecclesiastical officials; in the growing unpopularity of the veil among almost every section of society; in the marked distinction which unofficially and in various phases of public life is being made by an enlightened and pressing minority between the tottering forms of a discredited Ecclesiasticism and the civil rights and duties of civilized society; in the general laxity in religious observances and ceremonies; in the slow and hidden process of secularization invading many a government department under the courageous guidance of the Governors of outlying provinces—in all of these a discerning eye can easily discover the symptoms that augur well for a future that is sure to witness the formal and complete separation of Church and State.
To this uplifting movement, various external factors are being added that are tending to hasten and stimulate this process of internal regeneration so significant in the life of renascent Persia. The multiplicity and increasing facilities in the means of transportation and travel; the State visit of energetic and enlightened reformers to Persia’s capital; the forthcoming and widely-advertised journey of the Sháh himself to the progressive capitals of Western Europe; the repercussion of Turkey’s astounding reforms among an essentially sensitive and receptive people; the loud and persistent clamor of a revolting order in Russia against the evil domination and dark plottings of all forms of religious sectarianism; the relentless vigor with which Afghanistan’s ambitious Ruler, reinforced by the example of his gracious Consort, is pursuing his campaign of repression against a similar order of a corrupted clergy at home—all tend to lend their force in fostering and fashioning that public opinion which can alone provide an enduring basis for the reform Movement destined to usher in that golden Era craved for by the followers of the Faith in Bahá’u’lláh’s native land.
As a direct consequence of the birth of this new consciousness in the life of the nation, as evidenced by these early stirrings in the minds of the people, both high and low, meetings of an elaborate character, unprecedented in the number of their attendants, in the tone of the public addresses, in the undisturbed atmosphere of their proceedings, and the general impressiveness of their organization, have been publicly held in Ṭihrán, under the auspices of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of Persia. Particularly significant and impressive were those that were held in the Hazíratu’l-Quds, the administrative and spiritual center of the Faith in the Capital, on the occasion of the twin Festivals commemorating the declaration of the Báb and the birth of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, at the chief of which no less than two thousand representative Bahá’ís and non-Bahá’ís, leaders of public opinion, State officials and foreign representatives were officially invited. The addresses stressing the universality of the Teachings of the Cause, the formal and ordered character of the proceedings so unusual a feature to a gathering of such proportions, the mingling of the Bahá’ís with the recognized representatives of progressive thought in the Capital who, by virtue of their high office and stately appearance, lent color and weight to the concourse of attending believers, have all contributed to enhance the brilliance and spiritual significance of that gathering on that memorable occasion.
Moreover, reports of a highly encouraging nature, are being continually received from local Assemblies and individual believers, giving the names and stating the number of influential Persians who, hitherto reluctant to declare openly their faith in Bahá’u’lláh, are as a result of this reassuring and promising state of affairs emerging from the obscurity of their concealment and enlisting under the erected banner of Bahá’u’lláh. This has served to embolden the followers of the Faith to take the necessary steps, under the direction of their local Assemblies, for the institution of Bahá’í schools, for the holding of public gatherings, for the establishment of Bahá’í hostels, libraries and public baths, for the construction of official headquarters for their administrative work, and for the gradual execution among themselves, within the limits imposed upon them by the State, of the laws and ordinances revealed in the Kitáb-i-Aqdas. Words fail me to describe the feelings of those patiently suffering brethren of ours in that land who, with eyes dim with tears and hearts overflowing with thanksgiving and praise, are witnessing on every side and with increasing force the unfoldment of a Faith which they have served so well and love so dearly. Accounts pathetic and inspiring in their tone are being received from that steadfast and cheerful band of exultant believers, and are being shared with the resident friends in the Holy Land who, having had the privilege of close and continued association with the person of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, cannot but marvel at the range, the potency and accuracy of the prophecies of their departed Master.
From Turkey, on whose soil, for well nigh three score years and ten, were enacted some of the sublimest and most tragic scenes in the annals of the Cause; Turkey, under whose rule Bahá’u’lláh twice proclaimed Himself, was thrice exiled and banished, and finally ascended to the Abhá Kingdom, and where ‘Abdu’l-Bahá spent more than fifty years of His Life, in incarceration and suffering; has of late been rudely awakened to a Call which it has so long obstinately despised and ignored. Following on the overthrow of that effete theocracy, resting on the twin institutions of the Caliphate and Sultanate—those two sinister forces that have combined to inflict the deadliest blows to our beloved Faith in the earliest stages of its infancy and growth—an uncompromising policy aiming at the secularization of the State and the disestablishment of Islám was initiated and carried out with exemplary vigor. Religious institutions and monastic orders which under the guise of religious propaganda were converted into hot-beds of political intrigue and sedition were peremptorily closed, their adherents scattered and banished, their funds confiscated, their privileges and prerogatives abolished. None, save the little band of Bahá’u’lláh’s devoted followers, escaped the trenchant ax of the pitiless reformer; all, without fear or favor, had to submit to his searching investigations, his dictatorial edicts, his severe and irrevocable judgment. Lately, however, the Turkish Government, faithful to its policy of ceaseless vigilance, and fearful of the growing activities of the Bahá’ís under its rule, decided to order the Police in the town of Smyrna to conduct a close investigation into the purpose, the character and the effects of Bahá’í activity in that town. No sooner were the representative Bahá’ís in that locality arrested and conducted to the Law Courts for purposes of investigation, than the President of the Bahá’í Spiritual Assembly of Constantinople who, having read in the morning papers the report of the Smyrna incident, had resolved unsummoned to offer the necessary explanations to the authorities concerned, was in his turn arrested and taken to the Police Headquarters where he soon afterwards was joined by the other members of the Assembly. The official searching of their homes, the seizure of whatever Bahá’í literature they had in their possession, their twenty-four hours detention at the Police station, the searching severity of the cross-examination to which they were subjected—all proved powerless to alarm and shake the faith of those intrepid champions of the Cause, or to evince anything detrimental to the best interests of the State. On the contrary, they served to deeply impress upon the minds and hearts of the officials concerned the sublimity, the innocence, and the dynamic force of the Faith of Bahá’u’lláh. So much so that their books were returned, a genuine desire to deepen their knowledge of the Cause was expressed by their examiners, and widespread publicity, as reflected in the articles of about a dozen leading newspapers of Turkey, was accorded by the Government, proclaiming the innocence of the Cause and lifting up the ban that now so oppressively weighs upon religious institutions in Turkey.
From Constantinople in European Turkey to the eastern confines of Anatolia, on the banks of the river Euphrates, where a small and flourishing Bahá’í Community has been recently established, a wave of public interest, criticism and inquiry has been sweeping over the surface of the land, as witnessed by the character and number of the leading articles, the illustrations and caricatures that have appeared in the most prominent newspapers of the capital and the provincial towns of Asiatic Turkey. Not only Turkey, but its neighboring countries of the East and the West, have lifted up their voice in the vindication of the Bahá’í truth. From information thus far gathered we learn that in Hungary, in ‘Iráq, Egypt and Syria, and as far west as France and England, newspapers have, of their own accord, with varying degree of accuracy, and in more or less detail, reported this incident in their columns, and have given, unasked and unaware, such publicity to our beloved Faith which no campaign of teaching, however elaborately organized by the believers themselves, could ever hope to achieve at the present time. Surely the invincible arm of Bahá’u’lláh, working through strange and mysterious ways, will continue to guard and uphold, to steer the course, to consolidate, and eventually to achieve the world-wide recognition and triumph of His holy Faith.
And while the East, through suffering and turmoil, is moving on in its slow and toilsome march towards the acceptance of God’s holy Faith, let us turn for a moment our gaze to the Western Hemisphere, and particularly to the American continent, and attempt to visualize the possibilities of the future spread of the Cause, and to estimate afresh those golden yet swiftly passing opportunities which Bahá’u’lláh in those far-away lands has accorded to His chosen people. I feel thoroughly convinced, and am moved to share this firm conviction within me with that great company of western believers, that in the speedy resumption of the sorely-neglected construction of the Mashriqu’l-Adhkár at Wilmette lies our undoubted privilege, our primary obligation, our most vital opportunity to lend an unprecedented impetus to the advancement of the Cause, not only throughout the West but in every country of the world. I would not stress at this moment the prestige and good name of the Cause, much as they are involved in this most pressing issue, I would not dwell upon the eager expectancy with which the unnumbered followers of the Faith as well as the vast number of the non-believers in almost every section of society throughout the East are awaiting to behold that noble structure rear its head in the heart of that far-western continent; nor would I expatiate on the ineffable beauty of this holy Edifice, its towering glory, its artistic design, its unique character, or its functions in the organic life of the Bahá’í community of the future. But I would with all the strength of my conviction emphasize the immeasurable spiritual significance of an Edifice, so beauteous, so holy, erected solely by the concerted efforts, strained to the utmost degree of self-sacrifice, of the entire body of the believers who are fully conscious of the significance of the Revelation of Bahá’u’lláh. In this vast endeavor, unparalleled in modern times, its world-wide range, its spontaneity, its heroic and holy character, the American believers, on the soil of whose country Bahá’u’lláh’s first universal House of Worship is to be built, must, if they be faithful to their trust, claim and fulfill a pre-eminent share in the collective contributions offered by the Bahá’ís of the world.
For this reason do I feel impelled to direct by incessant plea in particular to the followers of the Faith in the United States and Canada to arise and play their part, while there is yet time, and not to allow their earnest strivings to be swamped and superseded by the self-sacrificing heroism of the multitude of their brethren in Persia. Again I feel the urge to remind you one and all of the necessity of keeping ever in mind this fundamental verity that the efficacy of the spiritual forces centering in, and radiating from, the first Mashriqu’l-Adhkár in the West will in a great measure depend upon the extent to which we, the pioneer workers in that land will, with clear vision, unquenchable faith, and inflexible determination, resolve to voluntarily abnegate temporal advantages in our support of so meritorious an endeavor. The higher the degree of our renunciation and self-sacrifice, the wider the range of the contributing believers, the more apparent will become the vitalizing forces that are to emanate from this unique and sacred Edifice; and the greater, in consequence, the stimulating effect it will exert upon the propagation of the Faith in the days to come. Not by the abundance of our donations, not even by the spontaneity of our efforts, but rather by the degree of self-abnegation which our contributions will entail, can we effectively promote the speedy realization of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s cherished desire. How great our responsibility, how immense our task, how priceless the advantages that we can reap!
I cannot refrain, however, from giving expression to my gratification and appreciation of the substantial and continued support already accorded, and in particular during the past year by the believers in the United States and Canada, under the wise and judicious direction of their elected national representatives, to the Plan of Unified Action, whose declared purpose is to insure, ere the present Bahá’í year comes to a close, the raising of the funds required for the building of the first Unit of the Mashriqu’l-Adhkár. The vigilance and fidelity with which the National Assembly of the United States and Canada has observed its pledge in connection with the limitation of the current administrative expenses of the Cause, and the zeal and ready response manifested by local Assemblies and individual believers to curtail their local and personal expenditures in order to concentrate on the Temple Fund, are worthy of the highest praise, and will deservedly attract the manifold blessings of a loving and bountiful Master. Much indeed has been accomplished during this past year of concentrated and consecrated self-sacrifice for so glorious a purpose. Much more still remains unachieved if we are to vindicate, in the eyes of an expectant world, the honorable name, the inexhaustible and miraculous vitality of the Revelation of Bahá’u’lláh.
In the mid-watches of the night, commemorating the passing of Him Who with His own hands laid the head-cornerstone of His Father’s House of Worship in that land, seated within the hallowed precincts of His shrine, and keeping vigil in the company of His closest companions, I have more than once in the midst of my devotions prayerfully remembered those chosen ones of God on whose shoulders has fallen so weighty a responsibility, whose destiny is to bring to full fruition so excellent a heritage. I have recalled on that peaceful and moonlit night, with much emotion and gratitude, the inestimable bounties He lavished while on earth upon you. I have revived in my memory the glowing promises that His unfailing guidance and gracious assistance would continue from His station on high to be showered upon you. I have pictured in my mind that beauteous vision of a Cause unfolded in all its glory which in His immortal writings He has revealed unto you. And with my head upon His threshold, I have prayed and prayed again that we may all prove ourselves worthy disciples of so gracious a Master, that we may, when called unto Him, transmit, undiminished and unimpaired, our share of the immeasurably precious heritage bequeathed by Him to us all.
And in closing, dearly-beloved friends, what more appropriate thought with which to conclude my fervent plea than these pregnant words fallen from the lips of Bahá’u’lláh: “O My friends! I bear witness that the Divine Bounty has been vouchsafed unto you, His Argument has been made manifest, His Proof has been revealed, and His Guidance has shone forth upon you. Let it now be seen what your endeavors in the path of renunciation can reveal.”
I desire to convey to you in a few words my impressions of the recently published “Bahá’í World,” copies of which, I understand, have already, thanks to the assiduous care and indefatigable efforts displayed by the Publishing Committee of the American National Spiritual Assembly, been widely distributed among the Bahá’í countries of East and West.
This unique record of world-wide Bahá’í activity attempts to present to the general public, as well as to the student and scholar, those historical facts and fundamental principles that constitute the distinguishing features of the Message of Bahá’u’lláh to this age. I have ever since its inception taken a keen and sustained interest in its development, have personally participated in the collection of its material, the arrangement of its contents, and the close scrutiny of whatever data it contains.
I confidently and emphatically recommend it to every thoughtful and eager follower of the Faith, whether in the East or in the West, whose desire is to place in the hands of the critical and intelligent inquirer, of whatever class, creed or color, a work that can truly witness to the high purpose, the moving history, the enduring achievements, the resistless march and infinite prospects of the Revelation of Bahá’u’lláh. Eminently readable and attractive in its features, reliable and authoritative in the material it contains, up-to-date, comprehensive and accurate in the mass of information it gives, concise and persuasive in its treatment of the fundamental aspects of the Cause, thoroughly representative in the illustrations and photographs it reveals:—it stands unexcelled and unapproached by any publication of its kind in the varied literature of our beloved Cause. It will, without the slightest doubt, if generously and vigorously supported, arouse unprecedented interest among all classes of civilized society.
I earnestly request you, dearly-beloved friends, to exert the utmost effort for the prompt and widespread circulation of a book that so faithfully and vividly portrays, in all its essential features, its far-reaching ramifications and most arresting aspects, the all-encompassing Faith of Bahá’u’lláh. Whatever assistance, financial or moral, extended by Bahá’í Spiritual Assemblies and individual believers, to those who have been responsible for such a highly valuable and representative production will, it should be remembered, be directly utilized to advance the interests and reinforce the funds that are being raised in behalf of the Mashriqu’l-Adhkár, and will indirectly serve to exert a most powerful stimulus in removing the malicious misrepresentations and unfortunate misunderstandings that have so long and so grievously clouded the luminous Faith of Bahá’u’lláh.
With feelings of profound sorrow I am moved to address you these few lines mourning the loss which the Cause has undoubtedly sustained by the passing of one who, for many years and in circumstances of exceptional significance, rendered the sacred Threshold distinctive and inestimable services. The hand of Divine Decree has removed, by the death of our talented and dearly-beloved friend, Mr. Hippolyte Dreyfus-Barney, yet another outstanding figure in the Cause of Bahá’u’lláh, who, by his brilliant gifts of mind and heart as well as by the divers achievements of his life, has truly enriched the annals of God’s immortal Faith.
A pioneer of the Cause of Bahá’u’lláh ever since its celestial light first warmed and illuminated the West, he has, by his close association with the person of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, by his contact with all sections of society, by his scholarly presentation of the history and fundamentals of the Faith, and lastly by his unforgettable share in the settlement of the complex and pressing issues that called for expert assistance in the days following ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s passing, achieved a standing which few have as yet attained.
The days of his spiritual communion with ‘Abdu’l-Bahá and His household within the walls of the prison-city of ‘Akká, wherein he imbibed the principles which he later so ably expounded to the peoples of the West; his pre-eminent role on his return to Paris in kindling the torch which is destined to shed eternal illumination upon his native land and its people; the links of abiding fellowship which he forged with our Persian brethren in the course of the historic mission entrusted to his charge by our Beloved; the seeds which he scattered far and wide during his subsequent travels to the heart of Asia, throughout India, beyond the remotest villages of Burma and as far as the eastern confines of Indo-China; the able support he lent in its initial and intermediary stages to the case of Bahá’u’lláh’s house in Baghdád; his unhesitating intervention with State officials in paving the way for the ultimate emancipation of our Egyptian brethren from the yoke of orthodox Islám; the stimulating encouragement his visit caused to the Bahá’í community of Tunis on the northern shores of Africa; and last but not least the ability and diligence with which he applied himself to the solution of the delicate and vexing problems of the Holy Land in the critical years following ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s ascension—all stand out as memorable landmarks in a life that was as varied in its international aspects as it was rich in its spiritual experience.
His gifts of unfailing sympathy and penetrating insight, his wide knowledge and mature experience, all of which he utilized for the glory and propagation of the Message of Bahá’u’lláh, will be gratefully remembered by future generations who, as the days go by, will better estimate the abiding value of the responsibilities he shouldered for the introduction and consolidation of the Bahá’í Faith in the Western world.
Suffering as he did in his last days from the effects of a slow and painful illness, he bore heroically his share of the afflictions of the world, and is now in the realms of blissful deliverance partaking his full share of the goodly reward which he certainly deserved. To me, and particularly amid the storm and stress that have agitated my life after ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s passing, he was a sustaining and comforting companion, a most valued counsellor, an intimate and trusted friend.
With much emotion and the deepest sense of gratitude I supplicate at the holy Threshold—and request you to join with me in my prayers—for the spiritual advancement in the realms above of a soul who by the sheer merit of the signal services he rendered already deserves to rank highly among the departed faithful.
Whilst the Bahá’ís of Persia, constituting the overwhelming majority of the adherents of the Bahá’í Faith in eastern lands, are tasting the first-fruits of their long-dreamed emancipation, a not inconsiderable section of Bahá’u’lláh’s following in the East, inhabiting the provinces of Caucasus and Turkistan, are being subjected to trials and tribulations not very dissimilar, though inferior in intensity, to the afflictions borne so long and so heroically by their Persian brethren.
In my last communication to you I have attempted to depict the nature and swiftness of those liberating forces which today are being released in Persia by an enlightened regime determined to shake off with unconcealed contempt the odious fetters of a long standing tyranny. And I feel that a description of the very perplexing situation with which our brethren in Russia find themselves confronted at present will serve to complete the picture which responsible believers in the West must bear in mind of the critical and swiftly moving changes that are transforming the face of the East.
Ever since the counter-revolution that proclaimed throughout the length and breadth of Czarist Russia the dictatorship of the Proletariat, and the subsequent incorporation of the semi-independent territories of Caucasus and Turkistan within the orbit of Soviet rule, the varied and numerous Bahá’í institutions established in the past by heroic pioneers of the Faith have been brought into direct and sudden contact with the internal convulsions necessitated by the establishment and maintenance of an order so fundamentally at variance with Russia’s previous regime. The avowed purpose and action of the responsible heads of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics who, within their recognized and legitimate rights, have emphatically proclaimed and vigorously pursued their policy of uncompromising opposition to all forms of organized religious propaganda, have by their very nature created for those whose primary obligation is to labor unremittingly for the spread of the Bahá’í Faith a state of affairs that is highly unfortunate and perplexing. For ten years, however, ever since the promulgation of that policy, by some miraculous interposition of Providence, the Bahá’ís of Soviet Russia have been spared the strict application to their institutions of the central principle that directs and animates the policy of the Soviet state. Although subjected, as all Russian citizens have been, even since the outbreak of the Revolution, to the unfortunate consequences of civil strife and external war, and particularly to the internal commotions that must necessarily accompany far-reaching changes in the structure of society, such as partial expropriation of private property, excessive taxation and the curtailment of the right of personal initiative and enterprise; yet in matters of worship and in the conduct of their administrative and purely non-political activities they have, thanks to the benevolent attitude of their rulers, enjoyed an almost unrestricted freedom in the exercise of their public duties.
Lately, however, due to circumstances wholly beyond their control and without being in the least implicated in political or subversive activity, our Bahá’í brethren in those provinces have had to endure the rigid application of the principles already enunciated by the state authorities and universally enforced with regard to all other religious communities under their sway. Faithful to their policy of expropriating in the interests of the State all edifices and monuments of a religious character, they have a few months ago approached the Bahá’í representatives in Turkistan, and after protracted negotiations with them, decided to claim and enforce their right of ownership and control of that most cherished and universally prized Bahá’í possession, the Mashriqu’l-Adhkár of Ishqábád. The insistent and repeated representations made by the Bahá’ís, dutifully submitted and stressed by their local and national representatives, and duly reinforced by the action of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of Persia, emphasizing the international character and spiritual significance of the Edifice and its close material as well as spiritual connection with the divers Bahá’í communities throughout the East and West, have alas! proved of no avail. The beloved Temple which had been seized and expropriated and for three months closed under the seal of the Municipal authorities was reopened and meetings were allowed to be conducted within its walls only after the acceptance and signature by the Bahá’í Spiritual Assembly of Ishqábád of an elaborate contract drawn by the Soviet authorities and recognizing the right of undisputed ownership by the State of the Mashriqu’l-Adhkár and its dependencies. According to this contract, the Temple is rented by the State for a period of five years to the local Bahá’í community of that town, and in it are stipulated a number of obligations, financial and otherwise, expressly providing for fines and penalties in the event of the evasion or infringement of its provisions.
To these measures which the State, in the free exercise of its legitimate rights, has chosen to enforce, and with which the Bahá’ís, as befits their position as loyal and law-abiding citizens, have complied, others have followed which though of a different character are none the less grievously affecting our beloved Cause. In Baku, the seat of the Soviet Republic of Caucasus, as well as in Ganjih and other neighboring towns, state orders, orally and in writing, have been officially communicated to the Bahá’í Assemblies and individual believers, suspending all meetings, commemoration gatherings and festivals, suppressing the committees of all Bahá’í local and national Spiritual Assemblies, prohibiting the raising of funds and the transmission of financial contributions to any center within or without Soviet jurisdiction, requiring the right of full and frequent inspection of the deliberations, decisions, plans and action of the Bahá’í Assemblies, dissolving young men’s clubs and children’s organizations, imposing a strict censorship on all correspondence to and from Bahá’í Assemblies, directing a minute investigation of Assemblies’ papers and documents, suspending all Bahá’í periodicals, bulletins and magazines, and requiring the deportation of leading personalities in the Cause whether as public teachers and speakers or officers of Bahá’í Assemblies.
To all these the followers of the Faith of Bahá’u’lláh have with feelings of burning agony and heroic fortitude unanimously and unreservedly submitted, ever mindful of the guiding principles of Bahá’í conduct that in connection with their administrative activities, no matter how grievously interference with them might affect the course of the extension of the Movement, and the suspension of which does not constitute in itself a departure from the principle of loyalty to their Faith, the considered judgment and authoritative decrees issued by their responsible rulers must, if they be faithful to Bahá’u’lláh’s and ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s express injunctions, be thoroughly respected and loyally obeyed. In matters, however, that vitally affect the integrity and honor of the Faith of Bahá’u’lláh, and are tantamount to a recantation of their faith and repudiation of their innermost belief, they are convinced, and are unhesitatingly prepared to vindicate by their life-blood the sincerity of their conviction, that no power on earth, neither the arts of the most insidious adversary nor the bloody weapons of the most tyrannical oppressor, can ever succeed in extorting from them a word or deed that might tend to stifle the voice of their conscience or tarnish the purity of their faith. Clinging with immovable resolution to the inviolable verities of their cherished Faith, our sorely-tried brethren in Caucasus and Turkistan have none the less, as befits law-abiding Bahá’í citizens resolved, after having exhausted every legitimate means for the alleviation of the restrictions imposed upon them, to definitely uphold and conscientiously carry out the considered judgment of their recognized government. They have with a hope that no earthly power can dim, and a resignation that is truly sublime, committed the interests of their Cause to the keeping of that vigilant, that all-powerful Divine Deliverer, who, they feel confident, will in time lift the veil that now obscures the vision of their rulers, and reveal the nobility of aim, the innocence of purpose, the rectitude of conduct, and the humanitarian ideals that characterize the as yet small yet potentially powerful Bahá’í communities in every land and under any government.
Should the present restrictions increase in number and stringency, should a situation arise that would so endanger the position of the Mashriqu’l-Adhkár in Ishqábád as to necessitate the intervention of the Bahá’í world, I will call upon the National and Local Bahá’í Spiritual Assemblies in the East and the West to arise with one accord and lend their moral support to those of their brethren whose particular mission and privilege is to keep watch over that consecrated ground on which already has been erected the central Structure of Bahá’u’lláh’s First Universal House of Worship. I will urge them to take whatever action is deemed advisable in order to demonstrate the solidarity of the followers of Bahá’u’lláh, to dispel whatever doubts and apprehensions may yet linger in the minds of the State officials in that land, and to restore their suspected brethren to the esteem and confidence of their governors. I will specially request them to proclaim in their written representations to the authorities concerned their absolute repudiation of whatever ulterior motive or political design may be imputed to them by their malignant adversaries, and to reaffirm in unmistakable terms the purely humanitarian and spiritual nature of the work in which Bahá’ís in every land and of every race are unitedly engaged. I will moreover ask them to assert the international character of the Bahá’í Edifice in Ishqábád and to stress the close bonds of material interest and spiritual fellowship that bind Bahá’í communities the world over to an Edifice that can rightly claim the distinction of being Bahá’u’lláh’s First Universal House of Worship, of being conceived in its design by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá Himself, constructed and completed in His days and under His direction, and supported by the collective contributions of the believers throughout the world. The hour for such a world-wide and concentrated appeal is not yet come, but it behooves us, while expectantly watching from a distance the moving spectacle of the struggling Faith of Bahá’u’lláh, to seek abiding solace and strength from the reflection that whatever befalls this Cause, however grievous and humiliating the visitations that from time to time may seem to afflict the organic life or interfere with the functions of the administrative machinery of the Bahá’í Faith, such calamities cannot but each eventually prove to be a blessing in disguise designed, by a Wisdom inscrutable to us all, to establish and consolidate the sovereignty of Bahá’u’lláh on this earth.
What we have already witnessed in connection with the latest developments regarding the case of Bahá’u’lláh’s House in Baghdád affords abundant evidence of the truth of the observation that has just been made. In its initial stages appearing to the superficial observer as a petty dispute submitted to an obscure and antiquated Shiite court, the case has gradually evolved into a paramount issue engaging the attention of the highest tribunal of ‘Iráq. In its latest stages, it has gathered such strength, secured such publicity, and received such support from the chancelleries of Europe, as to become a subject fit for the consideration not only of the specific international Commission ultimately responsible for the administration of Mandated Territories but of the leading Signatories of the Covenant of the League of Nations that are represented in the Council of the League itself.
Few if any among those closely associated with the case did at first imagine or expect that dwellings which to outward seeming appeared only as a cluster of humble and decrepit buildings lost amid the obscure and tortuous lanes of old Baghdád could ever obtain such prominence as to become the object of the deliberations of the highest international Tribunal that the hand of man has thus far reared for the amicable settlement of his affairs. Whatever the decision of the world’s highest Tribunal regarding the petition submitted to it by the Bahá’ís of ‘Iráq—and none can deny that should its verdict be in our favor, a triumph unparalleled in its magnitude will have been achieved for our beloved Faith—the work already accomplished is in itself an abundant proof of the sustaining confirmations that are being showered upon the upholders of the case from the realm on high.
I cannot refrain from giving expression in this connection to my feelings of profound appreciation of the ceaseless vigilance and marked distinction with which our precious brother and fellow-worker, Mr. Mountfort Mills, has undertaken and is still shouldering this sacred and historic mission committed to his charge. His unremitting labors, despite ill-health and domestic anxieties and cares, are worthy of the highest praise and will be gratefully recorded in the annals of an immortal Cause.
Surely, if we read the history of this case aright, we cannot but discern the direction which the forces, released by these prophetic utterances of Bahá’u’lláh sixty years ago, are destined to take in the eventual solution of this mighty issue:—
“In truth I declare, it shall be so abased in the days to come as to cause tears to flow from every discerning eye.… And in the fullness of time shall the Lord, by the power of truth, exalt it in the eyes of all the world, cause it to become the mighty standard of His Dominion, the Shrine round which shall circle the concourse of the faithful.”