April 10, 2023

The grandeur of the House of Justice – by Hand of the Cause William Sears, 1981

[A letter from the Hand of the Cause of God William Sears to members of the Continental Board of Counsellors and National Spiritual Assemblies in Africa.]

"The National Spiritual Assemblies, like unto pillars will be gradually and firmly established in every country on the strong and fortified foundations of the Local Assemblies. On these pillars, the mighty Edifice, the Universal House of Justice, will be erected, raising high its noble frame above the world of existence. The unity of the followers of Bahá’u’lláh will thus be realized and fulfilled from one end of the earth to the other… and the living waters of everlasting life will stream forth from that fountain-head of God’s World Order upon all the warring nations and peoples of the world, to wash away the evils and iniquities of the realm of dust, and heal man‘s age-old ills and ailments.

"Then will all our cherished hopes and aspirations be realized, the tree of our endeavours bear fruit, ... and the hidden powers of the Cause of our Lord and God be fully manifested. Then will be unveiled to our eyes the in- auguration of an era the like of which has never been witnessed in past ages." — Shoghi Effendi

August 4, 1981

Beloved Friends, Colleagues, and fellow Bahá’is:

On my second visit to the Holy Land this year on a special project, I was once again made keenly aware of the majesty and grandeur of our Supreme Universal House of Justice. Each time I am with them the joy and wonder of those days in the presence of our beloved Guardian come rushing back upon me, and I say to myself: "I have made another pilgrimage!"

How often every Bahá’í has said. What a blessing it would have been if only we had seen the Precious Báb, or been in the presence of the Blessed Beauty, Bahá’u’lláh, or could have visited the Holy Land when the Beloved Master was there. Many of us have looked upon the face of the beloved Guardian. Still more, however, have been deprived of all these past bounties and blessings.

Suddenly I realized that each one of these great blessings was ours all over again! Little by little it became clear to me that there were no such days as these very days we are living in now! These are the very days which the Báb, Bahá’u’lláh, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá and our beloved Guardian had sacrificed their lives to bring to reality. These days!

I said to myself, do we really understand and appreciate who it is that sends that Book, that Compilation, that Letter to us from the side of the Mountain of God? I vowed to myself that the next time I received a Letter or a Message from the Universal House of Justice, I would look upon it with new eyes, and listen to their words of guidance and instruction with new ears.

‘Thrilled to my fingertips’

January 11, 2023

The Case of the Bahá’í Minority in Iran: – a 1993 review of the history of the persecution of Baha’is in Iran and the success the community has had in using the U. N. system in their defense - by Douglas Martin

The experience of the Baha'is of Iran is a classic case of the violation of human rights, produced by religious intolerance. Prior to the Islamic revolution a deep-seated prejudice against the Baha’is and their religion characterized not only Iran’s Islamic clergy and the illiterate masses, but also many among the country's educated elite and middle class. The prejudice was widespread and communicated itself to many Western observers. Michael Fischer, a generally sympathetic commentator on the revolution notes, for example, that even the exercise of routine civil functions by Baha’is was seen as proof of a “Baha’i conspiracy.”[1] Richard W. Cottam, author of Nationalism in Iran, pointed out the problem of even discussing the subject of the Baha’i Faith in a country in which the word “Bábí” has long been freely used as an epithet, along with such words as “infidel,” to describe anyone to whom the speaker is strongly opposed.[2] This prejudice is probably the most important point to grasp for an observer wishing to understand the situation of the Baha'is in modern Iran. The second point is that, in the land of the Baha’i Faith’s origin, the prejudice is, paradoxically, combined with an almost universal ignorance of the religion’s nature, teachings, and history. For over a century a curtain of silence has surrounded the subject. The Baha'i community has consistently been denied the use of any means of communication with the general public: radio, television, newspapers, films, the distribution of literature, or public lectures. The academic community in Iran has studiously ignored the existence of the worldwide Faith founded there; the subject has never been treated in any university courses or textbooks. Indeed, census figures which provided statistics on all of the other religious and ethnic minorities in Iran have consistently been omitted for the Baha'i community, the largest religious minority of all.[3] Coupled with this calculated general neglect, the public mind has been subjected, for decades, to abusive propaganda from the Shi’ah Muslim clergy, in which the role of the Baha’i community in Iran, its size, its beliefs, and its objectives have been grossly misrepresented.

Both the ignorance and the prejudice are connected with the tragic events that surrounded the beginning of the Bábí and Baha'i Faiths in nineteenth-century Persia. It may help in clarifying the events of the past decade if this background is briefly reviewed.

Historical Background

The Baha'i Faith came into existence through the teachings of two successive Founders. The first, a young Persian merchant known to history as the Báb, announced in Shiraz, in May 1844, that He was the bearer of a Revelation from God, whom the Shi'ah branch of Islam had long expected under the title “the Twelfth Imam."[4] The world stood, He said, on the threshold of an era that would witness the restructuring of all aspects of life. The challenge to humanity was to embrace these changes by undertaking a transformation of its moral and spiritual character. Central to the Báb's teaching was the announcement of the imminent appearance of yet a second Divine Messenger, one who would address all the peoples of the world.[5] During the course of widespread attacks on His followers, incited by the Muslim clergy, the Báb was executed in the city of Tabriz, in 1850. There followed throughout Persia a horrific series of massacres of followers of the new religion. These pogroms aroused the revulsion of Western diplomats and scholars, and deeply scarred the Persian psyche, inspiring an effort to justify the killing of thousands of innocent people by excoriating the victims' beliefs and intentions.