Leopold II, King of the Belgians, operated the colony as a private preserve for some three decades (1877–1908). The atrocities carried out under his misrule aroused international protest, and in 1908 he was compelled to surrender the territory to the administration of the Belgian government.
The processes that brought about these changes are reviewed in some detail by A. N. Wilson, et al., God’s Funeral (London: John Murray, 1999). In 1872, a book published by Winwood Reade under the title The Martyrdom of Man (London: Pemberton Publishing, 1968), which became something of a secular “Bible” in the early decades of the twentieth century, expressed the confidence that “finally, men will master the forces of Nature. They will become themselves architects of systems, manufacturers of worlds. Man will then be perfect; he will then be a creator; he will therefore be what the vulgar worship as a god.” Cited by Anne Glyn-Jones, Holding up a Mirror: How Civilizations Decline (London: Century, 1996), pp. 371–372.
“The outermost circle in this vast system, the visible counterpart of the pivotal position conferred on the Herald of our Faith, is none other than the entire planet. Within the heart of this planet lies the ‘Most Holy Land,’ acclaimed by ‘Abdu’l‑Bahá as ‘the Nest of the Prophets’ and which must be regarded as the center of the world and the Qiblih of the nations. Within this Most Holy Land rises the Mountain of God of immemorial sanctity, the Vineyard of the Lord, the Retreat of Elijah, Whose return the Báb Himself symbolizes. Reposing on the breast of this holy mountain are the extensive properties permanently dedicated to, and constituting the sacred precincts of, the Báb’s holy Sepulcher. In the midst of these properties, recognized as the international endowments of the Faith, is situated the most holy court, an enclosure comprising gardens and terraces which at once embellish, and lend a peculiar charm to, these sacred precincts. Embosomed in these lovely and verdant surroundings stands in all its exquisite beauty the mausoleum of the Báb, the shell designed to preserve and adorn the original structure raised by ‘Abdu’l‑Bahá as the tomb of the Martyr-Herald of our Faith. Within this shell is enshrined that Pearl of Great Price, the holy of holies, those chambers which constitute the tomb itself, and which were constructed by ‘Abdu’l‑Bahá. Within the heart of this holy of holies is the tabernacle, the vault wherein reposes the most holy casket. Within this vault rests the alabaster sarcophagus in which is deposited that inestimable jewel, the Báb’s holy dust.” Shoghi Effendi, Citadel of Faith (Wilmette: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1995), pp. 95–96.
Edward R. Kantowicz, The Rage of Nations (Cambridge: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1999), p. 138. Kantowicz adds that the total population loss for Europe was 48 million, including 15 million “swept away” because their run down health made them vulnerable to the post-war influenza epidemic, and because of the reduction caused by the steep drop in the birth rate consequent on these disasters. Hobsbawm estimates that France lost almost twenty percent of its men of military age, Britain lost one quarter of its Oxford and Cambridge graduates who served in the army during the war, while German losses reached 1.8 million or thirteen percent of their military age population. (See Eric Hobsbawm, Age of Extremes: The Short Twentieth Century, 1914–1991, op. cit., p. 26)
President Wilson has been the subject of many biographies over the years since his death. Three relatively recent biographies are Louis Auchincloss, Woodrow Wilson (New York: Viking Penguin, 2000); A. Clements Kendrick, Woodrow Wilson: World Statesman (Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1987); Thomas J. Knock, To End All Wars: Woodrow Wilson and the Quest for a New World Order (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1992).
As finally adopted, Article X of the Covenant of the League did not require collective military intervention in cases of aggression but merely stated that “…the Council shall advise upon the means by which this obligation shall be fulfilled.”
The citation made reference to the value of the Master’s “advice” to the British military authorities who were attempting to restore civil life following the overthrow of the Turkish regime in the area, adding that “all his influence has been for good”. See Moojan Momen, ed., The Bábí and Bahá’í Religions, 1844–1944: Some Contemporary Western Accounts (Oxford: George Ronald, 1981), p. 344.
Although the “Christmas truce” involved principally British and German soldiers, French and Belgian troops also participated: BBC News, Online Network Summary of Brown, Malcolm and Shirley Seaton, “Christmas Truce”.
In case after case, the open misbehaviour of Shoghi Effendi’s brothers, sisters and cousins left him finally with no alternative but to advise the Bahá’í world that these individuals had violated the Covenant.
“In Europe at the start of the twentieth century, most people accepted the authority of morality.… [Then] reflective Europeans were also able to believe in moral progress, and to see human viciousness and barbarism as in retreat. At the end of the century, it is hard to be confident either about the moral law or about moral progress”: Jonathon Glover, Humanity: A Moral History of the Twentieth Century (London: Jonathan Cape, 1999), p. 1. Glover’s study concentrates particularly on the rise and influence of twentieth century ideologies.
Women: Extracts from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh, ‘Abdu’l‑Bahá, Shoghi Effendi and the Universal House of Justice, compiled by the Research Department of the Universal House of Justice (Thornhill: Bahá’í Canada Publications, 1986), p. 50.
Lester Bowles Pearson (1897–1972) was awarded the 1957 Nobel prize for peace for his formulation of international policy in the period after World War II, particularly for his plan that led to the establishment of the first United Nations’ emergency force in the Suez Canal in 1956, a response to the crisis created by the invasion of Egypt by British and French military forces, acting in agreement with those of Israel, following the seizure of the Suez Canal by Egypt. The first formal vote of international sanctions against aggression, taken in 1936 by the League of Nations, when Fascist Italy invaded Ethiopia, was hailed by Shoghi Effendi as: “an event without parallel in human history”. (See Shoghi Effendi, The World Order of Bahá’u’lláh, op. cit., p. 191.)
The three United Nations’ Secretaries-General mentioned were, in chronological order, Javier Pérez de Cuellar (1982–1991), Peru; Boutros Boutros-Ghali (1992–96), Egypt; Kofi Annan, (1997–present), Ghana.
Anne Frank (1929–1945)—Jewish youth, victim of Nazi genocide, captured in her family’s hiding place in the Netherlands in August 1944 and sent to the concentration camp at Belsen, where she died a year later. Her diary was published in 1952 under the title The Diary of a Young Girl and subsequently dramatized on the stage and in film. Martin Luther King Jr. (1929–1968)—American clergyman and Nobel laureate, one of the principal leaders of the American civil rights movement, who was assassinated on 4 April 1968 in Memphis, Tennessee. He is commemorated in the United States in a national holiday on the third Monday of January. Paulo Freire (1921–1997)—innovative Brazilian educator, whose pioneer work in adult education won him international fame, but led to two periods of imprisonment in his own country. Kiri Te Kanawa (1944– )—Born in New Zealand of Maori ancestry, and today one of the world’s leading operatic divas. Awarded the Order of Dame Commander of the British Empire by H. M. Queen Elizabeth II, 1982. Gabriel García Marques (1928– )—Colombian writer and novelist, winner of the Nobel prize for literature in 1982, who was compelled to spend the 1960s and 1970s in voluntary exile in Mexico and Spain to escape persecution in his native land. Ravi Shankar (1920– )—Indian composer and sitarist, whose impressive talents and tours of Europe and North America contributed to the awakening of interest in Indian music throughout the West. Andrei Dmitriyevich Sakharov (1921–1989)—Russian nuclear physicist, who abandoned scientific research to become the leading spokesman for civil liberties in the Soviet Union, for which he was awarded the 1975 Nobel Peace Prize, while suffering internal exile in his own land. “Mother Teresa” (Agnes Gonxha Borjaxhiu, 1910–1997)—Albanian born Roman Catholic nun, founder of the Missionaries of Charity, whose self-sacrificing work on behalf of the poor, the homeless and the dying in Calcutta won her the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979. Zhang Yimou (1951– )—A leading director among China’s “Fifth Generation” film makers and winner of many professional awards for his sensitive and visually stunning work.
The three new National Spiritual Assemblies were Canada, which established a National Assembly separate from that of the United States in 1948, and the Regional Assemblies of Central America and the Antilles (1951) and South America (1951).
Under the leadership of two of ‘Abdu’l‑Bahá’s half brothers, Muḥammad ‘Alí and Badí‘u’lláh, together with a cousin, Majdi’d-Dín, the group of Covenant-breakers who had long occupied the Mansion at Bahjí after the death of Bahá’u’lláh carried on an unremitting campaign of attacks and machinations against both the Master and the Guardian. Under the British Mandate, they had been forced to evacuate the Mansion because of the neglect into which they had allowed it to fall, thus permitting the Guardian to restore the building and establish its status in the eyes of the civil authorities as a Holy Place. Subsequently, Shoghi Effendi secured from the newly established Israeli government recognition that the entire property had this privileged character, and an official order was issued, requiring the remaining Covenant-breakers to evacuate the unsightly building that they still occupied next to the Mansion. When their appeal to the Supreme Court against this judgement failed, the eviction order was executed, the building demolished at the Guardian’s instructions, and the last obstacle to the beautification of the property was successfully overcome.
The Institute was created by the Universal House of Justice in 1998 as an agency of the Bahá’í International Community, reporting to the House of Justice through the Office of Public Information. Its mandate describes it as an agency “dedicated to researching both the spiritual and material underpinnings of human knowledge and the processes of social advancement.”.
Beginning in approximately 1904, a learned Iranian believer known as Ṣadru’ṣ-Ṣudúr established the first teacher-training class for Bahá’í youth in Tehran with ‘Abdu’l‑Bahá’s encouragement. The classes met daily, and the graduates, who had been trained in the beliefs of other religions as well as various aspects of the Bahá’í Faith, contributed greatly to the expansion and consolidation of the Cause in their native land.
The model in question is the “Ruhi Institute”, whose materials and methods have been adopted by many Bahá’í communities throughout the world. Its guiding philosophy is an integration of service activities with focused study of the Bahá’í Writings themselves. Organized as a series of levels of study, which form a central “trunk” of basic understanding of the spiritual essentials taught by Bahá’u’lláh, the system allows for the almost infinite development by various user communities of branching subsets that serve particular needs.
The Bahá’í World, vol. III (New York City: Bahá’í Publishing Committee, 1930), pp. 198–206. Contains the text of a formal Petition to the Permanent Mandates Commission of the League from the Bahá’ís of Iraq, that summarizes the history of the case.
The Bahá’í Question, Iran’s Secret Blueprint for the Destruction of a Religious Community, An Examination of the Persecution of the Bahá’ís of Iran (New York: Bahá’í International Community, 1999), prepared by the Bahá’í International Community United Nations’ Office for distribution to members of the United Nations Human Rights Commission.
The Beijing Conference on Women would have permitted fifty out of the two thousand non-governmental organizations involved to present their statements orally. Because the Bahá’í International Community had received this privilege at previous conferences, most notably that in Rio de Janeiro on the environment and that in Copenhagen on social and economic development, the Community’s representatives yielded the slot that had been accorded them, in favour of the Moscow Centre for Gender Studies.
United Nations General Assembly, Fifty-Fourth Session, Agenda Item 49 (b) United Nations Reform Measures and Proposals: the Millennium Assembly of the United Nations, 8 August 2000, (Document no. A/54/959), p. 2.
See Commitment to Global Peace, declaration of the Millennium World Peace Summit of Religious and Spiritual Leaders, presented to UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan on 29 August 2000 during a summit session at the UN General Assembly.
The respective purposes of the three Millennium gatherings, as well as the involvement of the Bahá’í community in these meetings, were summarized in a letter from the Universal House of Justice to all National Spiritual Assemblies dated 24 September 2000.