August 17, 2017

December 1892: Second Baha’i arrives in the United States

Ibrahim Kheiralla was a Syrian Christian who declared his Baha'i allegiance in 1890, and quickly convinced his friend and business partner, Anton Haddad, to declare as well. In search of ways to promote their inventions and business, the two left Cairo, Egypt, in 1892. Haddad went directly to the United States, arriving in the summer of 1892 as the first Baha'i in the New World; Kheiralla joined him in December of the same year. Following unsuccessful business endeavours, they moved on, eventually arriving in Chicago, the "Windy City." (Contrary to popular opinion, the "Windy City" derives its name from its boasts of industrial and commercial accomplishments, Will C. van den Hoonaard, p. 25) Chicago exercised a magnetic attraction for other reformers. In the 1880s it was the fastest growing city in America (D. Smith, 1981:88). In the 1830s there were 100 people living in the middle of a "stinking wild onion swamp," but by 1880 half a million could already be found in the city, growing by some 50,000 every year. The high percentage of those with foreign parentage (80%) illustrates the far-reaching magnetism of the city.

August 16, 2017

Munirih Khanum (future wife of ‘Abdu’l-Baha) leaves Isfahan, Persia, for the Holy Land

Soon after the transfer of the exiles from the barracks to houses in the city, there was renewed concern in the Holy Family for the twenty-seven-year-old 'Abbas, 'Abdu'l-Baha, that it was timely for Him to marry. Not long thereafter, a girl from a distinguished family" of Isfahan, Fatimih Khanum, was called by the Blessed Beauty to the Holy Land. In Shavval 1288 (December 1871-January 1872), she travelled with her brother Siyyid Yahya and the courier Shaykh Salman via Shiraz, where she was privileged to be often with the wife of the Báb during a two-weeks' stay; then by steamer to Jiddah and on to Mecca for pilgrimage, to conceal their real destination; next, to Alexandria; and finally, when it was prudent, they were directed by Baha'u'llah to come by boat to 'Akka. Upon arrival in 'Akka, they were met by 'Abdu'l-Ahad, Aqay-i-Kalim (Mirza Musa, Baha’u’llah’s brother)) and Ilyas 'Abbud, and the very next day she attained the presence of Baha'u'llah. Fatimih Khanum lived for some five months in the house of Aqay-i-Kalim, during which time the Blessed Beauty often received her. He Himself bestowed upon her the name of Munirih (The Illumined One). 
- David Ruhe  (‘Door of Hope’)

December 1844: The Báb arrives in Mecca as a pilgrim, accompanied by Quddus and His Ethiopian servant

The Báb “embarked from Bushihr on the 19th of Ramadan (October, 1844) on a sailing vessel, accompanied by Quddus whom He was assiduously preparing for the assumption of his future office. Landing at Jaddih after a stormy voyage of over a month's duration, He donned the pilgrim's garb, mounted a camel, and set out for Mecca, arriving on the first of Dhi'l-Hajjih (December 12). Quddus, holding the bridle in his hands, accompanied his Master on foot to that holy Shrine. On the day of Arafih, the Prophet-pilgrim of Shiraz, His chronicler relates, devoted His whole time to prayer. On the day of Nahr He proceeded to Muna, where He sacrificed according to custom nineteen lambs, nine in His own name, seven in the name of Quddus, and three in the name of the Ethiopian servant who attended Him. He afterwards, in company with the other pilgrims, encompassed the Kaaba and performed the rites prescribed for the pilgrimage.” 
- Shoghi Effendi  (‘God Passes By’)

August 14, 2017

Exceptionally cold weather during which Baha’u’llah and His Family were exiled to Adrianople

Pursuant to the peremptory orders issued for the immediate departure of the already twice banished exiles, Bahá'u'lláh, His family, and His companions, some riding in wagons, others mounted on pack animals, with their belongings piled in carts drawn by oxen, set out, accompanied by Turkish officers, on a cold December morning, amidst the weeping of the friends they were leaving behind, on their twelve-day journey, across a bleak and windswept country, to a city characterized by Bahá'u'lláh as "the place which none entereth except such as have rebelled against the authority of the sovereign." "They expelled Us," is His own testimony in the Suriy-i-Mulúk, "from thy city (Constantinople) with an abasement with which no abasement on earth can compare." "Neither My family, nor those who accompanied Me," He further states, "had the necessary raiment to protect them from the cold in that freezing weather." And again: "The eyes of Our enemies wept over Us, and beyond them those of every discerning person." "A banishment," laments Nabil, "endured with such meekness that the pen sheddeth tears when recounting it, and the page is ashamed to bear its description." "A cold of such intensity," that same chronicler records, "prevailed that year, that nonagenarians could not recall its like. In some regions, in both Turkey and Persia, animals succumbed to its severity and perished in the snows. The upper reaches of the Euphrates, in Ma'dan-Nuqrih, were covered with ice for several days -- an unprecedented phenomenon -- while in Diyar-Bakr the river froze over for no less than forty days." "To obtain water from the springs," one of the exiles of Adrianople recounts, "a great fire had to be lighted in their immediate neighborhood, and kept burning for a couple of hours before they thawed out."

Traveling through rain and storm, at times even making night marches, the weary travelers, after brief halts at Kuchik-Chakmachih, Buyuk-Chakmachih, Salvari, Birkas, and Baba-Iski, arrived at their destination, on the first of Rajab 1280 A.H. (December 12, 1863)

- Shoghi Effendi  (‘God Passes By’)

August 13, 2017

Baha’u’llah Reveals the Station of ‘Abdu’l-Baha – the Suriy-i-Ghusn (Surih of the Branch)

It was in Adrianople that Bahá'u'lláh revealed a Tablet the significance of which cannot be over-estimated. That Tablet was the Suriy-i-Ghusn (Surih of the Branch) addressed to Mirza 'Ali-Riday-i-Mustawfi, a Bahá'í of Khurasan --that province in eastern Persia famed in the Bábí Dispensation and to which some momentous prophecies of Bahá'u'lláh specifically apply. Mirza 'Ali-Rida was a high-ranking official in the service of the government, and his brother, Mirza Muhammad-Rida …also a follower of Bahá'u'lláh, was the Vizier of Khurasan. In the Suriy-i-Ghusn, Bahá'u'lláh thus extols His eldest Son:

August 12, 2017

1927 - First time Baha’i delegates from nine leading provinces of Persia convened a conference

With their traditional fidelity and characteristic vigor, notwithstanding the unimaginable hindrances they have to face, they have convened their first historic representative conference of various delegates from the nine leading provinces of Persia, have evolved plans for holding every year as fully representative a convention of Bahá'í delegates in Persia as circumstances permit, and modelled after the method pursued by their brethren in the United States and Canada.
- Shoghi Effendi  (From a letter dated October 18, 1927; printed in 'Baha'i Administration')

August 11, 2017

Nov. 27, 1924 -- The Guardian approved suggestion by Horace Holley to create Baha’i Year Books

The suggestion made by my dear and able friend, Mr. Horace Holley, as to the compilation of an annual " Bahá'í Year Book" is extremely valuable and timely. I am much impressed by it, and feel that an immediate start should be made. I believe it can best be now undertaken under the direction and supervision of your Assembly until the time should come for the friends in the East and particularly Persia to participate effectually in its development. I trust you will send me a copy of the skeleton of the material you propose to include, and I shall here attempt to fill up any gap and render any assistance I can to make it as comprehensive, as attractive, and as authoritative as possible. 
- Shoghi Effendi  ('Baha'i Administration')

August 10, 2017

circa May 1922 – Shoghi Effendi left for a time the affairs of the Cause both at home and abroad in the hands of Bahiyyih Khanum

In the Name of God

This servant, after that grievous event and great calamity, the ascension of His Holiness 'Abdu'l-Bahá to the Abha Kingdom, has been so stricken with grief and pain and so entangled in the troubles (created) by the enemies of the Cause of God, that I consider that my presence here, at such a time and in such an atmosphere, is not in accordance with the fulfilment of my important and sacred duties.

For this reason, unable to do otherwise, I have left for a time the affairs of the Cause both at home and abroad, under the supervision of the Holy Family and the headship of the Greatest Holy Leaf [Bahiyyih Khanum, sister of 'Abdu'l-Bahá] until, by the Grace of God, having gained health, strength, self-confidence and spiritual energy, and having taken into my hands, in accordance with my aim and desire, entirely and regularly the work of service I shall attain to my utmost spiritual hope and aspiration.

The servant of His Threshold,

Haifa, Palestine.
Circa May, 1922 (undated)
('Baha'i Administration')

August 8, 2017

1974: Ruhiyyih Khanum visits the President of India

The Hand of the Cause Ruhiyyih Khanum visits with President V.V.Giri, of India, in the presidential offices in New Delhi, on June 14, 1974. Amatu'l-Baha was in New Delhi to represent the Universal House of Justice at the National Baha'i Convention. 
(Baha'i News, April 1975)

August 6, 2017

Morassa Rawhani - First woman to become a member of the Spiritual Assembly of Alexandria, Egypt

Morassa (Yazdi) Rawhani

Mrs. Morassa (Yazdi) Rawhani was born in 1887 and named Akkawiya (the one who belongs to 'Akka) by 'Abdu'l-Baha. She was the granddaughter of Haji Abderrehim Yazdi, one of the first bearers of the Sacred Standard. Born in the fortress of 'Akka, she grew up in the Sacred Household under the shelter of the Greatest Holy Leaf.

With her mother, she moved to Alexandria, Egypt where for a few months she was in charge of cleaning the private room of 'Abdu'l-Baha and was asked by Him several times to sew some of His clothes. She was entrusted to be the Early Prayer Reader of His private quarters.

Mrs. Rawhani was the first woman to become a member of the Spiritual Assembly of Alexandria, Egypt, and dedicated her time to deepening the women in her locality.

August 5, 2017

1898: The first North American Baha’is to visit ‘Abdu’l-Baha in the Holy Land

Lua and Edward Getsinger arrived in Akka on 10 December 1898 and became the first North American Baha’is to visit ‘Abdu’l-Baha. 
(Adapted from ‘The Baha’i Faith in America’, vol. 1, by Robert Stockman)

August 4, 2017

1845: Article appears in London Times concerning the very initial persecution of the Bábis in Shiraz

The London Times of Wednesday, November 19th 1845, carried this item of news on its third page, taken from the Literary Gazette of the preceding Saturday:
MAHOMETAN SCHISM. -- A new sect has lately set itself up in Persia, at the head of which is a merchant who had returned from a pilgrimage to Mecca, and proclaimed himself a successor of the Prophet. The way they treat such matters at Shiraz appears in the following account (June 23): -- Four persons being heard repeating their profession of faith according to the form prescribed by the impostor, were apprehended, tried, and found guilty of unpardonable blasphemy. They were sentenced to lose their beards by fire being set to them. The sentence was put into execution with all the zeal and fanaticism becoming a true believer in Mahomet. Not deeming the loss of beards a sufficient punishment, they were further sentenced the next day, to have their faces blacked and exposed through the city. Each of them was led by a mirgazah [Mir-Ghadab] (executioner), who had made a hole in his nose and passed through it a string, which he sometimes pulled with such violence that the unfortunate fellows cried out alternately for mercy from the executioner and for vengeance from Heaven. It is the custom in Persia on such occasions for the executioners to collect money from the spectators, and particularly from the shopkeepers in the bazaar. In the evening when the pockets of the executioners were well filled with money, they led the unfortunate fellows to the city gate, and there turned them adrift…. 
- H.M. Balyuzi  (‘The Báb - The Herald of the Day of Days’)

August 3, 2017

1992: Second World Congress

The Second World Congress, called for by the Universal House of Justice, took place in November 1992, during the Holy Year, commemorating the centenary of the Ascension of Baha'u'llah. It was held in the Jacob Javits Convention Center, New York City -- the "City of the Covenant' -- and commemorated the centenary of the Covenant of 'Abdu'l-Baha. Nearly 30,000 Baha'is made it the largest ever Baha'i gathering, and the total number of Baha'is participating was increased enormously by satellite conferences, held simultaneously in Apia, Western Samoa; Buenos Aires, Argentina; Sydney, Australia; New Delhi, India; Nairobi, Kenya; Panama City, Panama; Bucharest, Romania; Moscow, Russia; and Singapore.

The First World Congress was called to commemorate the centenary of the Declaration of Baha'u'llah (Ridvan 1963), the conclusion of the Ten Year Crusade, and the election of the Universal House of Justice. Shoghi Effendi had hoped that it would be possible to have it in Baghdad, but the situation in 'Iraq was such that the Hands of the Cause of God changed the venue to London and were able to hire the Albert Hall, which was filled to capacity by more than 7,000 Baha'is.

World Congress is a large gathering of Baha’is from all parts of the world called to commemorate special events. 
(Adapted from ‘Historical Dictionary of the Baha’i Faith’ by Hugh Adamson, and from ‘A Basic Baha’i Dictionary’, by Wendi Momen)

August 2, 2017

1907: Representatives from various parts of America meet in Chicago to initiate the “stupendous undertaking” of erecting a House of Worship

 … inspired by the example set by their fellow-disciples in Ishqabad, who had already commenced the construction of the first Mashriqu'l-Adhkar of the Bahá'í world, and afire with the desire to demonstrate, in a tangible and befitting manner, the quality of their faith and devotion, the Bahá'ís of Chicago, having petitioned 'Abdu'l-Bahá for permission to erect a House of Worship,  and secured, in a Tablet revealed in June 1903, His ready and enthusiastic approval, arose, despite the smallness of their numbers and their limited resources, to initiate an enterprise which must rank as the greatest single contribution which the Bahá'ís of America, and indeed of the West, have as yet made to the Cause of Bahá'u'lláh. The subsequent encouragement given them by 'Abdu'l-Bahá, and the contributions raised by various Assemblies decided the members of this Assembly to invite representatives of their fellow-believers in various parts of the country to meet in Chicago for the initiation of the stupendous undertaking they had conceived. On November 26, 1907, the assembled representatives, convened for that purpose, appointed a committee of nine to locate a suitable site for the proposed Temple. 
- Shoghi Effendi  (‘God Passes By’)

August 1, 2017

November 1898: ‘Abdu’l-Baha ends the period of mourning for Baha’u’llah’s passing by opening His tomb to pilgrims for the first time

This event which took place on 13 November 1898 was in commemoration of the arrival of Ibrahim Kheiralla(Khayru’llah) to Akka on 11 November 1898 – “the same year that this precious Trust [the precious remains of the Báb] reached the shores of the Holy Land and was delivered into the hands of 'Abdu'l-Bahá. He, accompanied by Dr. Ibrahim Khayru'llah, whom He had already honored with the titles of "Baha's Peter," "The Second Columbus" and "Conqueror of America," drove to the recently purchased site which had been blessed and selected by Bahá'u'lláh on Mt. Carmel, and there laid, with His own hands, the foundation-stone of the edifice, the construction of which He, a few months later, was to commence. About that same time, the marble sarcophagus, designed to receive the body of the Báb, an offering of love from the Bahá'ís of Rangoon, had, at 'Abdu'l-Bahá's suggestion, been completed and shipped to Haifa.” (Shoghi Effendi, ‘God Passes By’)

Kheiralla (who later became a Covenant-breaker) and his wife Marion were among of the first group of American pilgrims who left New York on 22 September 1898. Phoebe Hearst, Robert Turner, and Lua and Edward Getsinger were also in that historic group. In Paris they were joined by May Bolles and Hearst’s two relatives.

July 31, 2017

September 1867-August 1868: the most momentous Tablet of Baha’u’llah, The Suriy-i-Mulúk (the Surih of the Kings) was revealed in Adrianople

The first full translation of this Tablet is included in the Summons of the Lord of Hosts. In the Introduction section of that book the Universal House of Justice explains that:

Included in this collection, as well, is the first full translation of the Súriy-i-Mulúk or Súrih of the Kings, which Shoghi Effendi described as “the most momentous Tablet revealed by Bahá’u’lláh in which He, for the first time, directs His words collectively to the entire company of the monarchs of East and West”. It sets forth both the character of His mission and the standard of justice that must govern the exercise of their rule in this Day of God:

“Lay not aside the fear of God, O kings of the earth, and beware that ye transgress not the bounds which the Almighty hath fixed. Observe the injunctions laid upon you in His Book, and take good heed not to overstep their limits. Be vigilant, that ye may not do injustice to anyone, be it to the iii extent of a grain of mustard seed. Tread ye the path of justice, for this, verily, is the straight path.” (Baha’u’llah)