February 21, 2018

December 1843: The passing of Siyyid Kazim-i-Rashti - a forerunner of the Báb

He was a disciple and the chosen successor of Shaykh Ahmad, who together were referred to by Baha’u’llah as the “twin resplendent lights” ('Kitab-i-Iqan') – both were forerunner of the Báb.

Siyyid Kazim was born in Rasht, Iran, in 1793, and as a boy showed great intellect and spirituality. At the age of twenty-two he went to Yazd, became a disciple of a Shaykh Ahmad and was designated to succeed him and continue the work of preparing his disciples to recognize the Promised Qa'im. After Shaykh Ahmad's death, the tide of opposition to Shayhi doctrines rose and Siyyid Kazim was attacked and denounced by the 'ulama.

Siyyid Kazim knew the identity of the Promised One and alluded to it clearly when Siyyid 'Ali-Muhammad (the Báb) attended his lecture one day in Karbila. Seeing Him, Siyyid Kazim fell silent. When asked to continue his discourse he said: 'What more shall I say? . . . Lo, the Truth is more manifest than the ray of light that has fallen upon that lap!" But none understood his meaning.

Towards the end of his life, feeling that the advent of the Qa'im was at hand, he charged his disciples to scatter and search for the Promised One. One of those who arose in response was Mulla Husayn, the first to find the Báb. Siyyid Kazim died on 31 December 1843, less than six months before the Declaration of the Báb. (Adapted from ‘A Basic Baha’i Dictionary’ by Wendi Momen)

February 20, 2018

Three of the Letters of the Living were family members

Mullá Husayn Bushrú’í (c. 1814–49): the first to declare his belief in the Báb (in Shiraz on 23 May 1844). He was given the title Bábu’l-Báb (Gate of the Gate) by the Báb. He was killed on 2 February 1849 at Fort Tabarsi.

Mullá Husayn’s younger brother, Mírzá Muhammad Hasan Bushrú’í (d. 1849). He accompanied Mullá Husayn on his travels and became badly wounded in Fort Tabarsi at the same time that his brother was killed. According to some accounts, he then served as leader of the Bábí forces and was subsequently killed at Shaykh Tabarsí.

Mulla Husay’s nephew, Mírzá Muhammad Báqir Bushrú’í (d. 1849). He is reported to have led the forces at Shaykh Tabarsí after his uncle Mullá Mírzá Muhammad Hasan was wounded. He was subsequently killed at Shaykh Tabarsí. 

February 19, 2018

1898: Birth of Hand of the Cause Dorothy Beecher Baker

Dorothy Baker with her family
July 1923
Born in Newark, New Jersey, 21 December 1898, Dorothy was the granddaughter of Mother Beecher, herself a Baha'i, who took her to see 'Abdu'l-Baha in New York in 1912. Dorothy was too shy to speak during that meeting, although she wrote afterward to Him stating that she wished to serve the Cause. 'Abdu'l-Baha responded that He would pray that God would grant her desire. She developed into a most eloquent, persuasive, and convincing teacher and in addition to an inimitable charm she had a sincerity that was with her always -- she was an ardent Baha'i first, last, and at all times.

As a public speaker she was much in demand, traveled throughout the United States and Canada, and became well known for her interracial concerns -- during one year alone she lectured in 90 colleges throughout the South proclaiming fearlessly the principle of the oneness of mankind. She was called upon by Shoghi Effendi to travel in Central and South America, which she toured on several occasions, as well as visiting Europe. She was also a most competent administrator and served as a member of the United States National Spiritual Assembly for 16 years (chairperson for four of those years). After being appointed a Hand of the Cause her service intensified, and she was present with other Hands at the series of four International Teaching Conferences called for 1953, the first one in Kampala, Uganda, which she attended immediately following her long-awaited pilgrimage to the Holy Land. During this conference some of the Hands met each other for the first time.

February 18, 2018

1896: Chicago has 30 Baha’is

By December 1896 there were about 30 Baha’is in Chicago. Their membership, however, increased to 225 by the end of January 1898. 
(Adapted from ‘The Baha’i Faith in America’, vol. 1, by Robert Stockman)

February 17, 2018

1951: First contingent of the Hands of the Cause are appointed

The Guardian appoints the first contingent of the Hands of the Cause on December 24, 1951:
Dorothy B. Baker (1898-1954)
Amelia E. Collins (1873-1962)
‘Ali-Akbar Furutan (1905-2004)
Ugo Giachery (1896-1989)
Hermann Grossmann (1899-1968)
Horace Holley (1887-1960)
Leroy Ioas (1896-1965)
William Sutherland Maxwell (1874-1952)
Charles Mason Remey (1874-1974)
Tarazu’llah Samandari (I874-1968)
George Townshend (1876-1957)
Valiyu’llah Varqa (1884-1955)
(Adapted from ‘A Basic Baha’i Dictionary’, by Wendi Momen, and from ‘A Concise Encyclopedia of the Baha’i Faith’, by Peter Smith)

February 15, 2018

Feb. 1970: First American National Baha'i Education Conference

First National Baha'i Education Conference in America was held in Wilmette, Illinois, between February 20-22, 1970 
(Baha'i News April 1970)

February 14, 2018

Mullá Yúsuf Ardibílí (d. 1849), a Letter of the Living, and the cousin and brother-in-law of Táhirih

He was the cousin and brother-in-law of Táhirih and the son of a famious mujtahid (i.e., a preeminent religious scholar) in Qazvin by the name of Mullá ‘Abdu’l-Vahháb. He was closely associated with Tahirih while both were in Karbala Tahirih entrusted him with a sealed letter and a verbal message to be delivered to the Promised One whom they both sought. He was present at the Conference of Badasht and was later killed at Shaykh Tabarsí. 

February 13, 2018

1912: A group of Baha'is in London

Standing, left to right: Yu'hanna Davud, Beatrice Platt, unknown, Arthur Cuthbert, Lutfu'llah Hakim, Mr. Jenner. Seated at the center is Ethel Rosenberg, and to her left is Lady Bloomfiled

February 12, 2018

February 11, 2018

Some facts about the Báb’s first disciples: The Letters of the Living

Within approximately two months following the private Declaration of the Báb to Mulla Husayn, His first believer, sixteen men and one woman found themselves drawn to Him and became His first followers. Each of the eighteen recognized Him independently, gave Him allegiance, and agreed not to reveal His identity until the appointed time. The Báb gave each of these first disciples the title "Letter of the Living":
  • They were seventeen men and one woman.
  • The first to believe in the Báb was Mulla Husayn Bushrú’í.
  • The second to believe in the Báb was Mulla Ali Bastamí.
  • Two of them were brothers, a third a nephew of them.
  • Two were cousins.
  • Ten of them were Muslim clerics before becoming Bábis.
  • One of them was referred to by the Báb, in allegorical language, as the return of the Imam Ali.
  • One of them was instrumental in bringing the news of the Advent of the Báb to the attention of Tahirih who was in Karbala, Iraq at the time – before she became a Babi.
  • One of them didn’t personally meet the Báb .
  • One of them became known as the First Babi martyr.
  • One of them was the son of a famous Persian mujtahid (a prominent religious scholar).

February 10, 2018

Mullá ‘Alí Bastamí (d. 1846): The second person to recognize the Báb

According to Nabil, twelve of his companions, each independently, also recognized the Báb soon after him and became among the Letters of the Living. The Báb gave Mullá ‘Alí the title "the Second Who Believed" and identified him in His Persian Bayan, in allegorical language, as the return of the Imam Ali – indicative of his high station. Mulla ‘Ali was directed by the Báb to go to the twin cities of Najaf and Karbala in Iraq and announce the Advent of the Promised One. Tahirih (the Pure One), then known as Fátimih Umm-Salamih Baraghání, was in Karbala at that time and therefore heard about the claims of the Báb from Mulla ‘Ali. Mulla ‘Ali was subsequently arrested and tried in Baghdad in January 1845 and later sentenced to work for life in the imperial naval docks, where he died in an Istanbul prison. He is known to be the first Bábí martyr. 

February 9, 2018

April 1967: First time a woman was elected to LSA of Karachi, Pakistan, since its formation in 1929

History was made when for the first time a woman was elected to the Local Spiritual Assembly of Karachi, Pakistan since its formation thirty-eight years ago. Mrs. Pervin Yazamaidi is shown in center. 
(Baha'i News, February 1968)

February 8, 2018

1970: First National Convention of the Baha'is of Malawi

The first National Convention of the Baha'is of Malawi, May 1-3, 1970. Hand of the Cause Paul Haney (second row center) represented the Universal House of Justice.

February 6, 2018

Nettie Tobin & the "corner stone" for Chicago Temple

Nettie Tobin kneeling by the stone which she carried as her contribution to the Chicago Temple in the very early days. Abdu'l-Baha chose it as the "corner stone" when He visited the site in 1912. The stone is now incorporated into the building, and serves as a special place for prayer and meditation. 
(The Baha'i World 1932-1934)

February 5, 2018

1923: The Guardian's first letter to Canada

The beloved of the Lord and the handmaids of the Merciful throughout Canada.

Care of the members of the Spiritual Assembly in Montreal

Dear Friends,

It is a great pleasure and privilege to me to enter into direct, and I trust, permanent correspondence with those faithful friends of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, who though few in number and scattered over that vast and flourishing country, will I trust act as a powerful leaven to the mass of that spiritually-minded people.

Though its people be firmly entrenched in their religious sectarianism and strongly attached to their religious doctrines and traditions, yet who can doubt that with courage and persistence, kindliness and wisdom, the all-conquering words of Bahá'u'lláh can fail to break down all these barriers of prejudice and religious exclusiveness and conquer this longstanding stronghold of sectarian belief!

Surely the efficacy of the universal Teachings of Bahá'u'lláh as applied to the cherished and time-honoured religious traditions of the East, has been sufficiently demonstrated to justify at present our confident hopes for the future and speedy re-awakening of that land.

February 4, 2018

The Master arrives in America! Oh day of days! -- by Juliet Thompson

I was wakened this morning [April 11, 1912] while it was yet dark by something shining into my eyes. It was a ray from the moon, its waning crescent framed low in my windowpane.

Symbol of the Covenant, was my first thought. How perfectly beautiful to be wakened today by it!  But at once I remembered another time when I had seen the waning moon hanging, then, above palm trees. I was on the roof of the House in ‘Akká with the Master and Munavvar Khánum. The Master was pointing to the moon. “The East. The moon. No!”  He said.  “I am the Sun of the West.”

At dawn, kneeling at my window, I prayed in the swelling light for all this land, now sleeping, that it would wake to received its Lord; conscious, as I prayed, of an overshadowing Sacred Presence:  a great, glorious, burning Presence—the Sun of Love rising. This fiery dawn was but a pale symbol of such a rising.

Between seven and eight I went to the pier with Marjorie Morten and Rhoda Nichols. The morning was crystal clear, sparkling. I had a sense of its being Easter:  of lilies, almost seen, blooming at my feet.

All the believers of New York had gathered at the pier to meet the Master’s ship.  Marjorie and I had suggested to them that the Master might not want this public demonstration, but their eagerness was too great to be influenced by just two, and so we had gone along with them—only too glad to do so, to tell the truth.

February 3, 2018

April 1970: First Baha'i National Convention of the Samoan Islands

First Baha'i National Convention of the Samoan Islands in front of the Haziratu'l-Quds, Apia, Western Samoa. Hand of the Cause Collis Featherstone is in the second row from the back, second to the right of the Greatest Name symbol. 
(Baha'i News, August 1970)