Rejoice at evidences of continued vigorous activity. Renew plea to believers possessing independent means to volunteer for European pioneer field, both settlers and itinerant teachers. Eagerly awaiting response to Convention message. Praying for placing of Temple contract before termination of current year. Ardently supplicating unprecedented blessings for manifold, meritorious, magnificent services. Deepest love.
Greatly welcome evidences of a notable expansion of activities and increased intensification of efforts for publicity. I urge believers and local assemblies to redouble their efforts in support of vital National Fund. Praying ardently for realization of your highest hopes. Appreciate action for preservation of Keith’s grave. Do not advise you to transmit further funds to Persia for the grave. I appeal to North American believers to exert their utmost to insure the formation of required number of assemblies by next April. Further sacrifices demanded, rich reward assured. May entire body of American believers arise to fulfill their glorious destiny.
The steadily deepening crisis which mankind is traversing, on the morrow of the severest ordeal it has yet suffered, and the attendant tribulations and commotions which a travailing age must necessarily experience, as a prelude to the birth of the new World Order, destined to rise upon the ruins of a tottering civilization, must, as they intensify, increasingly influence the course, and, in some cases, retard the progress, of the collective enterprises successively launched in the opening years of the second Bahá’í century, and in almost every continent of the globe, by the world-wide community of the organized followers of the Faith of Bahá’u’lláh. In the land of its birth long-standing political rivalries, combined with a steady decline in the authority and influence exercised by the central government, are contributing to the reemergence of reactionary forces, represented by an as yet influential and fanatical priesthood, to a recrudescence of the persecution, and a multiplication of the disabilities, to which a still unemancipated Faith has been so cruelly subjected for more than a century. In the heart of the continent of Europe, still fiercer political rivalries, as well as the clash of conflicting ideologies, have prevented the unification, indefinitely retarded the national revival, multiplied the vicissitudes and rendered more desperate the plight, of a nation comprising within its frontiers the largest community of the adherents of the Faith on that continent—a community destined, as prophesied by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, to play a major role in the spiritual awakening and the ultimate conversion of the European peoples and races to His Father’s Faith. In the subcontinent of India recent political developments of a momentous character have plunged its divers castes, races and denominations into grave turmoil, brought in their wake riots, bloodshed, misery and confusion, fanned into flame religious animosities, and well-nigh disrupted its economic life. In the Nile Valley the outbreak of a widespread and virulent epidemic, following closely upon the political unrest and the severe economic crisis already afflicting its inhabitants, threatens to disorganize the life of the nation and to bring in its wake afflictions of an even more serious character. In the Holy Land itself, the heart and nerve-center of the far-flung and firmly knit community of the followers of Bahá’u’lláh, and the repository of its holiest shrines, already gravely disturbed by the chronic instability of its political life, the religious dissensions of its inhabitants, and the ten-year-long strain and danger to which its people have been subjected and exposed, fresh perils are looming on its horizon, menacing it, on the one hand with the ravages of an epidemic that has already taken so heavy a toll of the lives of the people beyond its southern frontier, and threatening it, on the other, with a civil war of extreme severity and unpredictable in its consequences. Subject to the same fundamental causes which have deranged the equilibrium of present-day society and corroded its life are to be regarded the privations, the restrictions and crisis which, to a lesser degree, are oppressing the peoples of Central and Southeastern Europe, of the British Isles and of certain republics of Central and South America.
In all these territories, whether in the Eastern or Western Hemisphere, the nascent institutions of a struggling Faith, though subjected in varying degrees to the stress and strain associated with the decline and dissolution of time-honored institutions, with fratricidal strife, economic upheavals, financial crises, outbreaks of epidemics and political revolutions, have thus far, through the interpositions of a merciful Providence, been graciously enabled to follow their charted course, undeflected by the cross-currents and the tempestuous winds which must of necessity increasingly agitate human society ere the hour of its ultimate redemption approaches.
In contrast to these sorely tried countries on the European, the Asiatic and the African continents, unlike her sister republics in either Central or South America, the great republic of the West—the homeland of that mother community which, fostered through the tender care of an ever-solicitous Master, has already proved itself capable of rearing in its turn such splendid progeny among the divers communities of Latin America, which bids fair to multiply its daughter communities in a continent of mightier potentialities—such a republic has been, to a peculiar degree and over a long and uninterrupted period, relatively free from the chronic disorders, the political disturbances, the economic convulsions, the communal riots, the epidemics, the religious persecutions, the privations and loss of life which, during successive generations, have in one way or another afflicted so many peoples in almost every part of the globe.
Singled out by the Almighty for such a unique measure of favor, suffered to evolve, untrammelled and unperturbed, within the shell of its God-given Administrative Order, distinguished from its sister communities through the revelation of a Plan emanating directly from the mind and pen of its Founder, enriched already by so many trophies, each an eloquent testimony to its missionary zeal and valor in distant fields and amidst divers peoples, the Community of the Most Great Name in the North American continent must, sensible of the abounding grace vouchsafed to it by Bahá’u’lláh, resolve, as it has never resolved before, to carry out, however much it may be buffeted by future circumstances and the unforeseen ordeals which a heedless and chaotic world may still further experience, the mission confidently entrusted to its hands by an all-wise and loving Master.
Already in the newly opened European field, where the first stage of its transatlantic missionary enterprise is now unfolding, the success which the vanguard of its army of pioneers has already achieved in several leading capitals of that continent is truly heart-warming and evokes intense admiration. The broad outlines of the primary institutions heralding the erection of the administrative framework of the Faith of Bahá’u’lláh in no less than ten sovereign states of Europe can already be discerned—a powerful and signal reinforcement of the organized and progressive efforts exerted by the British and German communities on the northwestern limits of that continent and in its very heart. In the Latin American field, where the structural basis of a rising Administrative Order has already been established, through the formation of firmly grounded assemblies in each of the republics of Central and South America, the stage is being set for the erection of those institutions which are to be regarded as the harbingers of the secondary Houses of Justice which, in each of these republics, must act as pillars, and assist in sustaining the weight, of the final unit designed to consummate the institutions of that order. On the northern portion of that same hemisphere the stage is already set for the impending emergence of an institution which, however circumscribed its basis, must ultimately, directly participate in the measures preliminary to the constitution of the Universal House of Justice.
A community now in the process of marshalling and directing, in such vast territories, in such outlying regions, amidst such a diversity of peoples, at so precarious a stage in the fortunes of mankind, forces of such incalculable potency, to serve purposes so meritorious and lofty, cannot afford to falter for a moment or retrace its steps on the path it now travels. Its commitments, so vast, so challenging, so rich in their potentialities, in the North American continent, must, whatever betide it, be carried out, in their entirety and without the slightest reservation or hesitation. The pledge to multiply the local administrative institutions, throughout the length and breadth of this continent must be honored, and the placing of the contract for the interior ornamentation of the holiest House of Worship ever to be erected to the glory of Bahá’u’lláh expedited. Above all a prodigious effort, nationwide, sustained and wholly unprecedented in the annals of a richly endowed and spiritually blessed community, aiming at the immediate increase of the financial resources required for the effective prosecution of its manifold and pressing tasks, is required.
The triple campaign, conducted in two hemispheres, comprising within the scope of its operation the entire territory of the North American republic, the Dominion of Canada, twenty republics of Latin America, and no less than ten sovereign states of the European continent, is indeed of critical importance. Every phase of this threefold crusade, undertaken at the dawn of the second Bahá’í century by the executors of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s Will and the custodians of His Plan, must be accorded its due measure of consideration and its needs simultaneously and vigorously fulfilled. The allurements of the glorious adventure in the Latin American field, the glittering prizes already won and the new ones within reach, must, at no time, obscure the issues, or retard the task confronting the prosecutors of the Plan in their homeland, or allow the interests of its assemblies, for the most part new and struggling, to be either neglected or forgotten. Nor must the glamor of the still more recent and glorious adventure embarked upon across the Atlantic, within a turbulent, politically convulsed, economically disrupted and spiritually depleted continent, dim, in however small a measure, the radiance, or detract from the urgency, of the magnificent enterprises, whose first fruits in Latin America are only beginning to mature, in direct consequence of the initial operation of the Plan bequeathed by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá to the American believers.
To the vital requirements of this Plan, at so critical a juncture, both in the fortunes of mankind in general, and of the Plan itself, to which detailed reference has been made in a previous communication, I need not again refer. All I desire to emphasize is my fervent plea, addressed to both the administrators who, as the elected representatives of the community must devise the plans, coordinate the activities, and direct the agencies of a continually expanding community, and to those whose privilege it is to labor, at home and abroad, to insure the effective prosecution of these sacred tasks, to realize the propitiousness of the present hour, recognize its urgency, meet its challenge and appreciate its unique potentialities. As the international situation worsens, as the fortunes of mankind sink to a still lower ebb, the momentum of the Plan must be further accelerated, and the concerted exertions of the community responsible for its execution rise to still higher levels of consecration and heroism. As the fabric of present-day society heaves and cracks under the strain and stress of portentous events and calamities, as the fissures, accentuating the cleavage separating nation from nation, class from class, race from race, and creed from creed, multiply, the prosecutors of the Plan must evince a still greater cohesion in their spiritual lives and administrative activities, and demonstrate a higher standard of concerted effort, of mutual assistance, and of harmonious development in their collective enterprises.
Then, and only then, will the reaction to the stupendous forces, released through the operation of a divinely conceived, divinely impelled Plan, be made apparent, and the fairest fruit of the weightiest spiritual enterprise launched in recorded history under the aegis of the Center of the Covenant of Bahá’u’lláh be garnered.
Highly gratified at unceasing, compelling evidences of exalted spirit of Bahá’í stewardship animating American Bahá’í Community, as attested by the alacrity of its national representatives in executing the first Temple contract, their promptitude in extending effective assistance to their Persian brethren, their vigilance in safeguarding integrity of the Faith in the City of the Covenant and their vigor in prosecuting the national campaign of publicity.
In recognition of preeminent services continually enriching the record of achievements associated with preeminent community of the Bahá’í world, I am arranging transfer of extensive, valuable property acquired in precincts of Shrines on Mount Carmel to name of Palestine Branch of American Assembly.
Happy to announce completion of plans and specifications for erection of arcade surrounding the Báb’s Sepulcher, constituting the first step in the process destined to culminate in construction of the dome anticipated by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá and marking consummation of enterprise initiated by Him fifty years ago according to instructions given Him by Bahá’u’lláh.
I am deeply concerned at critical stage of task confronting North American Teaching Committee, constituting at this juncture the paramount objective of present Plan. Owing to urgent, overriding importance of Committee’s responsibility and to swiftly approaching time limit fixed for attainment of the goal of one hundred seventy-five assemblies, emergency measures carefully, promptly devised by national representatives of the community and wholeheartedly supported by entire mass of the believers of the North American continent, designed to safeguard the existing assemblies and rapidly multiply their number, are imperative. The placing of further contract for Temple, the reinforcement of basis of forthcoming Canadian National Spiritual Assembly, the additional consolidation of the institutions of the Faith in Latin America, the wider proclamation of its message to the masses, even the multiplication of pioneers in the European field, should be unhesitatingly subordinated to demands of the one disconcerting aspect of an otherwise successfully conducted Plan. I address this last-minute appeal to every single member of the community, the champion warriors in the army of Bahá’u’lláh, which since launching the Plan formulated by the Center of His Covenant never succumbed to defeat nor was thwarted in its purpose, to arise resolutely, volunteer instantly to fill the gap in the main defenses of the home front and register total victory ere the termination of the second year of the Second Seven Year Plan. Fervently praying for instantaneous, decisive response.
The gravity of the emergency facing the North American believers is unprecedented since the initiation of the Divine Plan and unparalleled in the history of the American Bahá’í Community since ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s passing. No obstacle is insuperable, no sacrifice too great for attainment of supremely important objective. The eyes of her sister communities in every continent of the globe and of her daughter communities of Latin America, handicapped by a variety of adverse circumstances, are fixed upon the community of followers of Bahá’u’lláh in North American continent who are enjoying the blessings of internal peace, adequate resources, administrative experience and organizing ability for their divinely appointed mission, expecting them to arise and avert the reverse which would mar the splendor of their record of unexampled stewardship. I am moved to plead, at this eleventh hour, that the rank and file of the community, particularly the members resident in long-established leading strongholds of the Faith—New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Washington—issue forth unhesitatingly, determinedly, sacrifice every interest, assume positions in the forefront of the struggle and emulate in the course of the first decade of second Bahá’í century, opening years of the second epoch of Formative Age of the Faith, exploits of their spiritual progenitors, the dawn-breakers of the Heroic Age, which immortalized the dawn of the first Bahá’í century. The immediate fortunes of the Plan are precariously hanging in the balance. The three months’ interval is swiftly running out. My heart aches at contemplation of the possibility of failure of the stalwart community to rise to the heights of the occasion. I refuse to believe that its members, invested with unique apostolic mission of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, will shrink from meeting the most challenging requirement of the present hour.
Hope is welling up in my anxious, overburdened heart that the North American Bahá’í Community may yet emerge triumphant over the prevailing crisis, demonstrate its capacity to preserve its hard-won prizes and redeem its pledges through a further display of its qualities of unconquerable faith, unbreakable solidarity, dauntless valor and heroic self-sacrifice, and vindicate its right to primacy in the world community of the followers of Bahá’u’lláh. High water mark is still unattained notwithstanding the mounting tide of enthusiastic response displayed by an aroused community. Dangerous passage now forded in this eleventh-hour campaign. I am fervently praying that further intensification of effort, sustained, coordinated, consecrated and unanimously exerted, will sweep its members on crest of the wave to total victory. I feel assured that cumulative efforts of participants in emergency campaign launched by entire community will increasingly attract the promised inflowing grace of the holy Author of its destinies, will demonstrate afresh its worthiness of the paternal care of its divine Founder, will win added commendation from its sister communities of the Eastern Hemisphere, deepen the admiration and inspire the emulation of its daughter communities in Latin America and the European continent, and strengthen the attachment and reinforce the brotherly affection of its Guardian.
Greatly encouraged by the splendid progress of the tremendous drive initiated in response to my appeal. The zero hour is inexorably approaching. Nineteen additional settlers can and must be provided. Praying with increasing fervor for total success, complete victory.
I am moved to share with assembled delegates of the fortieth American Bahá’í Convention the following facts and figures testifying to the present status of the World Faith of Bahá’u’lláh and disclosing the marvelous acceleration in the double process of the extension of its range and the consolidation of the institutions of its Administrative Order in the Eastern and Western Hemispheres in the course of the first four years of the second Bahá’í century.
The number of countries opened to the Faith total ninety-one. Bahá’í literature is translated and printed in fifty-one languages. Representatives of thirty-one races are enrolled in the Bahá’í World Community. Eighty-eight assemblies, national and local, are incorporated. The number of localities where Bahá’ís have established residence has been raised to over thirty in Australasia, to over forty in Germany and Austria, over sixty in the Dominion of Canada, over eighty in the Indian subcontinent and Burma, over one hundred in Latin America, over seven hundred in Persia and to over twelve hundred in the United States of America.
The value of international Bahá’í endowments in the Holy Land and the Jordan Valley is estimated at over six hundred thousand pounds. National Bahá’í endowments on the North American continent are valued at over two million dollars. The area of land dedicated to the Mashriqu’l-Adhkár in Persia is approximately four million square meters. The value of the national Hazíratu’l-Quds in the capitals of India and Persia respectively is six hundred thousand rupees and fifty thousand pounds. The area of land dedicated to the first Mashriqu’l-Adhkár in South America is ninety thousand square meters. The number of pieces of Bahá’í literature sold and distributed in the course of one year in North America is over eighty thousand pieces. The record of the number of visitors to the Mashriqu’l-Adhkár in America in one year is over seventeen thousand and the total number of visitors since its erection is over one quarter of a million. The number of states in the American Union formally recognizing Bahá’í marriage certificates is now eight. The number of national assemblies functioning in the Bahá’í world is raised to nine through the formation of the first Canadian National Assembly, to be shortly reinforced through the constitution of two additional assemblies in South and Central America and the West Indies.
The second seven-year, the six-year, the four and one-half year, the six-year, the three-year, the five-year and forty-five month plans respectively launched by the American, British, Indian, Australasian, Iráqí, Canadian, and Persian National Spiritual Assemblies, some culminating at the first Centennial of the birth of Bahá’u’lláh’s mission, others the Hundredth Anniversary of the Báb’s Martyrdom, are aiming at the establishment of three national assemblies in Canada and Latin America, the completion of the interior ornamentation of the Mother Temple of the West, the formation of spiritual assemblies in ten sovereign states of the European continent, the constitution of nineteen assemblies in the British Isles, doubling the number of assemblies in India, Pakistan and Burma, the reconstitution of the dissolved assemblies and the establishment of ninety-five new centers in Persia, the conversion of groups in Bahrein, the Ḥijáz and Afghánistán into assemblies, the formation of administrative nuclei in the Arabian territories of Yemen, Oman, Hasa and Kuweit; the formation of thirty-one groups and seven assemblies in Australia, New Zealand and Tasmania; the multiplication of centers in the provinces of ‘Iráq, including the district of Shattu’l-Arab; the incorporation of the Canadian National Assembly; doubling the number of assemblies and raising to one hundred the centers in the Dominion of Canada; the constitution of nuclei in Newfoundland and Greenland and the participation of Eskimos and Red Indians in the local institutions of the Administrative Order.
Plans and specifications have been prepared, and preliminary measures taken, to place contracts for the arcade of the Báb’s Sepulcher. Historic International Bahá’í Congresses held in South and Central America and an inter-European Teaching Conference projected for Geneva paving the way for future World Bahá’í Congress. Recognition extended to the Faith by United Nations as international non-governmental body, enabling appointment of accredited representatives to United Nations conferences, is heralding world recognition for a universal proclamation of the Faith of Bahá’u’lláh.
Joyfully acclaim brilliant achievements transcending fondest hopes and setting the seal of complete victory on the stupendous labors undertaken by American Bahá’í Community in the second year of the Second Seven Year Plan. The constitution of the National Spiritual Assembly of Canada, the heroic feat of raising to almost two hundred the number of spiritual assemblies in the North American continent, the marvelous expansion of the daughter communities in Latin America, the successful conclusion of the preliminary phase of the interior ornamentation of the Mashriqu’l-Adhkár, and the crowning exploit of the formation of no less than seven assemblies in the newly opened transcontinental field, endow with everlasting fame the second epoch of the Formative Age, immeasurably enrich the annals of the opening decade of the second Bahá’í century, and constitute a landmark in the unfoldment of the second stage of the execution of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s Plan.
The primacy of the American Bahá’í Community is reasserted, fully vindicated and completely safeguarded. Recent successive victories proclaim the undiminished strength and exemplary valor of the rank and file of the community whether administrators, teachers or pioneers in three continents regarded as the latest links in the chain of uninterrupted achievements performed by its members in the council, and teaching field for over a quarter of a century. I recall on this joyous occasion with pride, emotion, thankfulness, the resplendent record of stewardship of this dearly loved, richly endowed, unflinchingly resolute community, whose administrators have assumed the preponderating share in perfecting the machinery of the Administrative Order, whose elected representatives have raised the edifice and completed the exterior ornamentation of the Mother Temple of the West, whose trail-blazers opened an overwhelming majority of the ninety-one countries now included within the pale of the Faith, whose pioneers established flourishing communities in twenty republics of Latin America, whose benefactors extended in ample measure assistance in various ways to their sorely pressed brethren in distant fields, whose members scattered themselves to thirteen hundred centers in every state of the American Union, every province of the Dominion of Canada, whose firmest champion succeeded in winning royalty’s allegiance to the Message of Bahá’u’lláh, whose heroes and martyrs laid down their lives in its service in fields as remote as Honolulu, Buenos Aires, Sidney, Iṣfáhán, whose vanguard pushed its outposts to the antipodes on the farthest verge of the South American continent, to the vicinity of the Arctic Circle, to the northern, southern, and western fringes of the European continent, whose ambassadors are now convening, on the soil of one of the newly won territories, its historic first conference designed to consolidate the newly won prizes, whose spokesmen are securing recognition of the institutions of Bahá’u’lláh’s rising World Order in the United Nations.
Appeal to members of the community so privileged, so loved, so valorous, endowed with such potentialities to unitedly press forward however afflictive the trials their countrymen may yet experience, however grievous the tribulations the land of their heart’s desire may yet suffer, however oppressive an anxiety the temporary severance of external communications with the World Center of their Faith may engender, however onerous the tasks still to be accomplished, until every single obligation under the present Plan is honorably fulfilled, enabling them to launch in its appointed time the third crusade destined to bring glorious consummation to the first epoch in the evolution of their divinely appointed world mission, fulfill the prophecy uttered by Daniel over twenty centuries ago, contribute the major share of the world triumph of the Faith of Bahá’u’lláh envisaged by the Center of His Covenant, and hasten the opening of the Golden Age of the Bahá’í Dispensation.
I appeal to entire body of believers to arise and generously support the National Fund in hour of greatest need to insure uninterrupted progress in the ornamentation of the House of Worship which, as foretold by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, is already conferring such benefits upon the community.
Delighted at contract for ornamentation, projected reception (i.e., for UN delegates in Geneva), appointment of new committees for consolidation of teaching work and noble determination to pursue unremittingly your God-given task.
The response of the American Bahá’í Community to the urgent call to arise and remedy a critical situation has been such as to excite my highest admiration and exceed the hopes of all those who had waited with anxious hearts for this dangerous corner to be turned at such an important stage in the prosecution of the Second Seven Year Plan.
The rapidity with which the challenge has been met, the strenuous efforts which have been systematically exerted, the zeal and devotion which have been so abundantly demonstrated, the resolution and self-sacrifice which have been so strikingly displayed by the members of a community, burdened with such mighty responsibilities and intent on maintaining its lead among its sister communities in East and West, confer great luster on this latest episode in the history of the prosecution of the Divine Plan. I am moved to offer its high-minded and valiant members my heartfelt congratulations on so conspicuous a victory, and on the preservation of an unblemished record of achievements in the service of the Faith of Bahá’u’lláh.
The formation of the Canadian National Assembly, the conclusion of the preliminary steps for the completion of the interior ornamentation of the Mashriqu’l-Adhkár, the rapid multiplication and consolidation of the institutions of the Faith throughout Latin America, the steady expansion of the activities aiming at the proclamation of the Faith to the masses, the recognition secured, on behalf of the national institutions of a world community, from the United Nations Organization, above all the phenomenal success achieved through the constitution of no less than eight spiritual assemblies in seven of the goal countries selected as targets for the transatlantic operation of the Plan, now crowned by the holding of the first teaching conference on the continent of Europe—all these have served to immortalize the second year of the Second Seven Year Plan and round out the mighty feat accomplished throughout the states and provinces of the North American continent—the base from which the operation of a divinely impelled and constantly expanding Plan are being conducted.
Emboldened by the enduring and momentous successes won, on so many fronts, in such distant fields, among such a diversity of peoples, and in the face of such formidable obstacles, by a community now launched, in both hemispheres, on its world-encircling mission, I direct my appeal to the entire membership of this God-chosen community, to its associates and daughter communities in the Dominion of Canada, in Central and South America, and in the continent of Europe, to proclaim, in the course of this current year, to their sister communities in East and West and by deeds no less resplendent than those of the past, their inflexible resolve to prosecute unremittingly the Plan entrusted to their care, and emblazon on their shields the emblems of new victories in its service.
The placing, with care and promptitude, of the successive contracts, designed to ensure the uninterrupted progress of the interior ornamentation of the Temple, at a time when the international situation is fraught with so many complications and perils; the acceleration of the twofold process designed to preserve the status of the present assemblies throughout the states of the Union and multiply their number; the constant broadening of the bases on which the projected Latin American national assemblies are to be securely founded; the steady expansion of the work initiated to give wider publicity to the Faith in the North American continent and in circles associated with the United Nations; and, last but not least, the constitution of firmly established assemblies in each of the remaining goal countries in Europe and the simultaneous initiation, in the countries already provided with such assemblies, of measures aiming at the formation of several nuclei calculated to reinforce the structural basis of an infant Administrative Order—these stand out as the primary and inescapable duties which the members of your Assembly—the mainspring of the multitudinous activities carried on in your homeland, in the Latin American field, and on the European front—must in this third year of the Second Seven Year Plan, befittingly discharge.
That the launching of one of these fundamental activities to be conducted by your Assembly during the present year—the commencement of the interior ornamentation of the Mother Temple of the West—should have so closely synchronized with the placing of the first two contracts for the completion of the Sepulcher of the Báb, as contemplated by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, is indeed a phenomenon of singular significance. This conjunction of two events of historic importance, linking, in a peculiar degree, the most sacred House of Worship in the American continent with the most hallowed Shrine on the slopes of Mount Carmel, brings vividly to mind the no less remarkable coincidence marking the simultaneous holding, on a Naw-Rúz Day, of the first convention of the American Bahá’í Community and the entombment by the Center of Bahá’u’lláh’s Covenant of the remains of the Báb in the newly constructed vault of His Shrine.1 The simultaneous arrival of those remains in the fortress city of ‘Akká and of the first pilgrims from the continent of America;2 the subsequent association of the founder of the American Bahá’í Community with ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in the laying of the cornerstone of the Báb’s Mausoleum on Mount Carmel; the holding of the Centenary of His Declaration beneath the dome of the recently constructed Mashriqu’l-Adhkár at Wilmette, on which solemn occasion His blessed portrait was unveiled, on western soil, to the eyes of His followers; and the unique distinction now conferred on a member3 of the North American Bahá’í Community of designing the dome, envisaged by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, as the final and essential embellishment of the Báb’s Sepulcher—all these have served to associate the Herald of our Faith and His resting-place with the fortunes of a community which has so nobly responded to His summons addressed to the “peoples of the West” in His Qayyúmu’l-Asmá’.
“This Sublime Shrine has remained unbuilt …,” ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, looking at the Shrine from the steps of His House on an August day in 1915, remarked to some of His companions, at a time when the Báb’s remains had already been placed by Him in the vault of one of the six chambers He had already constructed for that purpose. “God willing, it will be accomplished. We have carried its construction to this stage.”
The initiation in these days of extreme peril in the Holy Land of so great and holy an enterprise, founded by Bahá’u’lláh Himself whilst still a Prisoner in ‘Akká and commenced by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá during the darkest and most perilous days of His ministry, recalls to our minds, furthermore, the construction of the superstructure of the Temple in Wilmette during one of the severest financial crises that has afflicted the United States of America, and the completion of its exterior ornamentation during the dark days of the last World War. Indeed, the tragic and moving story of the transfer of the Báb’s mutilated body from place to place ever since His Martyrdom in Tabríz, its fifty-year concealment in Persia; its perilous and secret journey by way of Ṭihrán, Iṣfáhán, Kirmansháh, Baghdád, Damascus, Beirut and ‘Akká to the Mountain of God, its ultimate resting place; its concealment for a further period of ten years in the Holy Land itself; the vexatious and long-drawn-out negotiations for the purchase of the site chosen by Bahá’u’lláh Himself for its entombment; the threats of ‘Abdu’l-Ḥamíd, the Turkish tyrant, the accusations levelled against its Trustee, the plots devised, and the inspection made, by the scheming members of the notorious Turkish Commission of Inquiry; the perils to which the bloodthirsty Jamál Páshá exposed it; the machinations of the arch-breaker of Bahá’u’lláh’s Covenant, of His brother and of His son, respectively, aiming at the frustration of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s design, at the prevention of the sale of land within the precincts of the Shrine itself, and the multiplication of the measures taken for the preservation and consolidation of the properties purchased in its vicinity and dedicated to it—all these are to be regarded as successive stages in the history of the almost hundred year long process destined to culminate in the consummation of Bahá’u’lláh’s irresistible purpose of erecting a lasting and befitting memorial to His Divine Herald and Co-Founder of His Faith.
As the mission entrusted by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá to the followers of His Faith in the North American continent gathers momentum, unfolds its potentialities, and raises to new heights of heroism and renown its valiant prosecutors, events of still greater significance will, no doubt, transpire, which will serve to enhance the value of the work which the prosecutors of the Plan are carrying out, to widen their vision, to reinforce their exertions, to sustain their spirit, to ennoble their heritage, to noise abroad their fame, to facilitate their assumption of the unique functions distinguishing their stewardship to the Faith, and to hasten the advent of the day, which shall witness, in the Golden Age that is still unborn, their “elevation to the throne of an everlasting dominion,” the day whereon “the whole earth” will “resound with the praises” of their “majesty and greatness.”
Welcome decisions made at recent Assembly meeting. Supplicating blessings for forthcoming conference with committees. Elated by magnificent success achieved at European Conference, development of affiliation with United Nations… Urge you devote special attention in current year to insure rapid progress of Temple construction, maintenance of assembly status and consolidation of newly formed assemblies.
Greatly welcome initiated plans for schools, delighted at progress of Temple work, acceptance of resolutions by UNO Conference, election of Ioas. Urge unrelaxing vigilance in maintenance of status and consolidation of assemblies in North America, to insure steady expansion of manifold activities in Latin America and Europe. Praying for added fervor, speedy realization of high objectives of God-given mission of much-admired American Bahá’í Community.
Welcome Assembly’s high resolve to insure uninterrupted Temple construction. Deeply moved and thankful for continued evidence of the inflexible determination with which the rank and file of the clear-sighted, high-minded, divinely sustained American Bahá’í Community, its representatives, national, local and regional, its pioneers at home and overseas, discharge in distant fields, despite the smallness of their numbers and their limited resources, tasks of such vast dimensions, of so diversified a character, of such great moment, at so significant a stage in the declining fortunes of an imperiled society. I feel convinced that unflinching maintenance of so exalted a standard of stewardship at the threshold of Bahá’u’lláh must release in still greater measure the outpouring of His grace so essential and befitting the consummation of a Divine Plan deriving its authority from the pen of the Center of His Covenant and propelled by agencies created through the generative influence of His Will and Testament.
Appreciate Assembly’s message. Praying for success of plans. Urge special effort to expedite work of Temple, reinforce pioneer endeavor in Europe owing to deteriorating international situation. Appeal to entire community wholeheartedly to persevere irrespective of darkened outlook.
The deepening crisis ominously threatening further to derange the equilibrium of a politically convulsed, economically disrupted, socially subverted, morally decadent and spiritually moribund society is testing the tenacity, taxing the resources and challenging the spirit throughout three continents of the chosen trustees and valiant executors of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s Divine Plan. This present hour, however critical, fraught with uncertainty, cannot and must not retard the unfoldment of the manifold tasks so brilliantly inaugurated, so diligently prosecuted, so dazzling in their prospects.
The record of the Bahá’í community since inception of the Formative Age conclusively demonstrates that accomplishment of signal acts accompanied, or followed upon, periods of acute distress in European and American contemporary history. The machinery of the Administrative Order was established, and preliminary stage of construction of the House of Worship was undertaken, by a grief-stricken community in the anxious years following the sudden removal of its loving, watchful Founder. The superstructure of the Temple was erected amid the strain and stress of an economic depression of an unprecedented severity gripping the North American continent. The first Seven Year Plan, opening stage in the execution of the historic mission entrusted to the American Bahá’í Community, was launched in the face of a gathering storm culminating in the direst conflict yet experienced by mankind. The Tablets of the Divine Plan were revealed amidst the turmoil of the first World War involving great danger to the life of their Author. The remains of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s mother and brother were transferred to site of monuments constituting focus of institutions of future World Administrative Center and erected on the morrow of the outbreak of hostilities while the Holy Land was increasingly exposed to the perils precipitated by the second conflict. The daughter communities of Latin America were called into being and exterior ornamentation of the Temple was consummated while the American mother community was in the throes of the last, most harassing stage of the devastating struggle. The world-wide Centenary celebrations crowning these enterprises were undertaken in such perilous circumstances and carried out despite the formidable obstacles engendered through prolongation of hostilities. National administrative headquarters were established in Ṭihrán, Cairo, Baghdád, Delhi and Sydney, national and international endowments were enriched and assemblies incorporated in countries confronted by growing threat of invasion and encirclement.
The Second Seven Year Plan inaugurating the transatlantic mission embracing Scandinavia, the Low Countries, Switzerland, the Iberian and Italian Peninsulas, was launched on the morrow of the catastrophic upheaval despite the exhaustion, confusion, distress and restrictions afflicting a war-shattered continent. The first fruits of this newly launched Plan were garnered through convocation of first European Teaching Conference and erection of the ninth pillar of the Universal House of Justice in the Dominion of Canada despite premonitory rumblings of a third ordeal threatening to engulf the Eastern and Western Hemispheres. The central structure of the Báb’s Sepulcher was built while the precious life of its builder was hanging perilously in the balance. Plans were drawn, contracts placed and foundations laid for its arcade while the holy places were ravaged by flames of the civil strife burning fiercely in the Holy Land.
Precious years are inexorably slipping by. The world outlook is steadily darkening. The American Community’s most arduous feats still lie ahead. Disasters overtaking Europe and America, more afflictive than any tribulations yet suffered in either continent, may yet attend still more majestic revelations in the unfoldment of concluding stage of the Second Seven Year Plan destined to witness successively the raising of the tenth and eleventh pillars of the Universal House of Justice, and the celebration of the Golden Jubilee of the Mother Temple of the West.
The champion builders of Bahá’u’lláh’s rising World Order must scale nobler heights of heroism as humanity plunges into greater depths of despair, degradation, dissension and distress. Let them forge ahead into the future serenely confident that the hour of their mightiest exertions and the supreme opportunity for their greatest exploits must coincide with the apocalyptic upheaval marking the lowest ebb in mankind’s fast-declining fortunes.