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Messages to the Bahá’í World: 1950–1957

  • Author:
  • Shoghi Effendi

  • Source:
  • US Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1971 edition
  • Pages:
  • 175
Go to printed page GO
Pages 146-156

All-America Intercontinental Conference—Second Message

On the occasion of the launching of an epochal, global, spiritual, decade-long crusade, constituting the high-water mark of the festivities 147 commemorating the centenary of the birth of the Mission of Bahá’u’lláh, coinciding with the ninetieth anniversary of the declaration of that same Mission in the Garden of Riḍván, and synchronizing with both the convocation of the All-American Intercontinental Teaching Conference in Chicago, and the fiftieth anniversary of the inception of the holiest Mashriqu’l-Adhkár of the Bahá’í world and its dedication to public worship—on such a solemn and historic occasion I invite His followers, the world over, to contemplate with me the glorious and manifold evidences of the onward march of His Faith and of the steady unfoldment of its embryonic World Order both in the Holy Land and in the five continents of the globe.
This infinitely precious Faith, despite eleven decades of uninterrupted persecution, on the part of governments and ecclesiastics, involving the martyrdom of its Prophet-Herald, the four banishments and forty-year-long exile suffered by its Founder, the forty years of incarceration inflicted upon its Exemplar, and the sacrifice of no less than twenty thousand of its followers, has succeeded in firmly establishing itself in all the continents of the globe, and is irresistibly forging ahead, with accelerating momentum, bidding fair to envelop, at the close of the coming decade, the whole planet with the radiance of its splendor.
Confined within the lifetime of its Martyr-Prophet to two countries, reaching during the period of the ministry of its Author thirteen other lands, planting its banner in the course of the ministry of the Center of the Covenant in twenty additional sovereign states and dependencies in both hemispheres, this Faith has spread, since the ascension of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, to ninety-four countries, raising the total number of the territories within its pale to one hundred twenty-nine, no less than eighteen of which were added in a single year, while fifty-one were opened in the course of the nine-year interval separating the first from the second Bahá’í Jubilee. The number of eastern and western languages into which its literature has been translated and printed, or is in the process of translation, and which reached forty-one a decade ago, is now ninety-one, including thirteen African and twenty-five Indian and Burmese languages. The number of settlements in Greenland provided with Bahá’í scriptures in the Greenlandic tongue has been raised to forty-eight, including Thule beyond the Arctic Circle and Etah near the 80th latitude, whilst Bahá’í literature in that same language has been dispatched as far north as the radio station at Brondlunsfjord, Pearyland, 82nd latitude, the northernmost outpost of the world. Representatives of thirty-one races and of twenty-four 148 African tribes have been enrolled in the Bahá’í World Community. Contact has been established with the following seventeen minority groups and races: the Eskimos of Alaska and Greenland, the Lapps of Scandinavia, the Maoris of New Zealand, the Sea-Dayaks of Sarawak, the Polynesians of the Fiji Islands, the Cree Indians of Prairie Provinces, Canada, the Cherokee Indians in North Carolina, the Oneida Indians in Wisconsin, the Omaha Indians in Nebraska, the Seminole Indians in Florida, the Mexican Indians in Mexico, the Indians of the San Blas Islands, the Indians of Chichicastenango in Guatemala, the Mayans in Yucatan, the Patagonian Indians in Argentina, the Indians of La Paz in Bolivia and the Inca Indians in Peru.

ELEVEN PILLARS OF THE UNIVERSAL HOUSE OF JUSTICE RAISE CENTERS TO 2500

The national plans, formulated and vigorously and systematically prosecuted, in the course of the concluding years of the first, and the opening years of the second, epoch of the Formative Age of the Faith, by the Bahá’í communities in the United States, in Persia, in the British Isles, in Latin America, in Canada, in India, Pákistán and Burma, in ‘Iráq, in Australia and New Zealand, in Germany and Austria, in Egypt and the Súdán, have raised the number of Bahá’í centers established in both hemispheres to two thousand five hundred maintained by representatives of the white, the black, the yellow, the red and the brown races of mankind, comprising ten in the Arabian Peninsula, over thirty in Egypt and the Súdán, over forty in the recently opened European goal countries, over fifty in the British Isles, over sixty in Australia, New Zealand and Tasmania, over seventy in Germany and Austria, over ninety in Canada, over ninety in India, Pákistán and Burma, over one hundred in Central and South America, over six hundred in Persia and over one thousand two hundred in the United States of America. The superstructure of the Sepulcher of the Martyr-Herald of the Faith—a three-quarters of a million dollar enterprise—is nearing completion, on the slopes of the Mountain of God, within the heart of the Holy Land, the nest of the Prophets, and the divinely chosen Spiritual and Administrative Center of the Bahá’í world. The preliminary measures, heralding the unfoldment of the institution of Guardianship, the pivot of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s Will and Testament, have been adopted, through the appointment of the first two contingents of the Hands of the Cause, numbering nineteen, recruited from the five continents of the globe, representative in their extraction of the three principal religions of mankind, and constituting 149 the nucleus of that august institution invested with such weighty and sacred functions by the Center of Bahá’u’lláh’s Covenant. The International Bahá’í Council, comprising eight members, charged with assisting in the manifold activities attendant upon the rise of the World Administrative Center of the Faith, which must pave the way for the formation of a Bahá’í International Court and the eventual emergence of the Universal House of Justice, the supreme legislative body of the future Bahá’í Commonwealth, has been established, enlarged, and the functions of its members defined. The number of the pillars of the Universal House of Justice has been raised to twelve through the successive formation of the Canadian, the Central American, the South American and the Italo-Swiss National Spiritual Assemblies. The stupendous process of the rise and consolidation of the World Administrative Center of the Faith has been accelerated through the acquisition, in the Plain of ‘Akká, of a one hundred and sixty thousand square meter area, surrounding the Qiblih of the Bahá’í world, permitting of the extension of the Outer Sanctuary of the Most Holy Tomb—to be designated henceforth the Ḥaram-i-Aqdas—through the initiation, at the inception of the Holy Year, of the landscaping and embellishment of a tenth of the acquired area, and through the adoption of measures for the extensive illumination of the entire Sanctuary and the erection of stately portals constituting a befitting tribute to the memory of the Author of the Faith, within the sacred precincts of His Sepulcher, on the occasion of the celebration of the greatest festival of the year commemorating the Centenary of the birth of His Mission. The fifty-year-old enterprise, involving the purchase of land for the construction, the exterior and interior ornamentation, and the landscaping of the grounds of the holiest House of Worship ever to be reared to the glory of the Most Great Name, the Mother Temple of the West, and involving the expenditure of over two and a half million dollars, has been consummated, in time for its dedication to public worship during the Riḍván period of this Holy Year coinciding with both the fiftieth anniversary of the inception of this enterprise and the one-hundredth anniversary of the birth of Bahá’u’lláh’s ministry. The design for the Mashriqu’l-Adhkár on Mt. Carmel, conceived by the architect appointed by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, has been completed, and a model constructed, which is soon to be unveiled at the All-America Intercontinental Teaching Conference, in anticipation of the selection and the purchase of its future site, and of its ultimate construction in the neighborhood of the Báb’s Sepulcher. The total area of Bahá’í international endowments, 150 surrounding and permanently dedicated to the Tomb of the Báb has been raised, through recent successive purchases of extensive plots, overlooking that hallowed spot, to almost one-quarter of a million square meters. The estimated value of the Bahá’í international endowments and holy places at the World Center of the Faith, in the twin cities of ‘Akká and Haifa, has passed the four million dollar mark. The Bahá’í national endowments in the United States of America now exceed three million dollars. The area of land purchased on the slopes of the Elburz Mountains, overlooking the city of Ṭihrán, in anticipation of the construction of the first Mashriqu’l-Adhkár of Persia, has reached approximately four million square meters. The area of land dedicated to the Shrine of Bahá’u’lláh, in the vicinity of the confines of the Holy Land, exceeds two million three hundred thousand square meters. The area of land dedicated to the Shrine of the Báb and registered in the name of the Israel branch of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of the United States of America, is more than one hundred thousand square meters. Over one hundred and fifty thousand square meters of land have been dedicated to the Faith in the Antipodes, eighty thousand square meters in the Territory of Alaska, whilst the lands contributed in Latin America for a similar purpose approximate one-half of a million square meters, ninety thousand of which have been set aside near Santiago, Chile, for the first Mashriqu’l-Adhkár of South America. The estimated value of the national Bahá’í administrative headquarters established in Ṭihrán, in Wilmette, Illinois, in Baghdád, in Cairo, in New Delhi, in Sydney, in Frankfurt and in Toronto, exceeds one and three-quarters of a million dollars. The Bahá’í spiritual assemblies now incorporated number one hundred and fourteen, of which nine are national and the rest local assemblies, fifty-six of which are in the United States of America, sixteen in India, eleven in South America, six in Central America, three each in Pákistán, in Burma and in Canada, two in Australia and one each in Germany, in Balúchistán, in New Zealand, in the Philippine Islands and in Malaya. The Bahá’í marriage certificate has been recognized by the Israel civil authorities, as well as by twenty-one federal districts and states of the United States of America. The Bahá’í holy days have been recognized by the Ministry of Education of the State of Israel, in the British Isles, by the state of Victoria in Australia, in Anchorage, Alaska, in Washington, D.C. and in seven states of the American Union. National Bahá’í conferences have been held in recent years in Bern, Zurich, Basel, Rome; national Bahá’í women’s conventions and youth 151 conferences have convened in Ṭihrán, whilst regional teaching conferences have been organized in Buenos Aires, in Panama City, in Scandinavia, in the Iberian Peninsula, and in the Benelux countries. European international teaching conferences have been convened successively in Geneva, in Brussels, in Copenhagen, in Scheveningen and in Luxembourg City, paving the way for the convocation of four successive Intercontinental Teaching Conferences, the first of which has recently been held in Kampala, in the heart of the African continent, the rest to be successively convened in Wilmette, Illinois, in Stockholm and in New Delhi—Conferences which, God willing, will be the forerunners of the World Bahá’í Congress, to be convened in the city of Baghdád, on the occasion of the centenary of the formal assumption by Bahá’u’lláh of His prophetic office. Recognition has been extended to the Faith by the United Nations as an international non-governmental organization enabling the Bahá’í International Community to appoint accredited representatives, who have already attended, in their capacity as observers, the Conference on Human Rights held in Geneva and the United Nations General Assembly held in Paris and participated in United Nations regional non-governmental conferences, held in localities as far apart as New York, Santiago, Manila, Istanbul, Den Passar, Paris, Managua, Geneva and Montevideo.

PRELUDE TO PRODIGIOUS EXPANSION

So glorious a record of accomplishments in the service of the Faith of Bahá’u’lláh, whether local, national or international, in both the teaching and administrative spheres of Bahá’í activity, can be regarded in no other light than as a prelude to a period of prodigious expansion and consolidation to be inaugurated by the launching of a global spiritual crusade, on the threshold of which the Bahá’í world now stands. This crusade extending through ten years will involve the simultaneous prosecution of twelve national plans, will necessitate the active and sustained participation of each of the twelve existing national spiritual assemblies representing no less than thirty-six nations and will demand the utmost exertion, consecration and heroism. It aims at the broadening and the reinforcement of the foundations of the Faith in each of the twelve areas that are to serve as operational bases for the prosecution of these twelve national plans; the opening of one hundred and thirty-one territories to the Faith; the consolidation of one hundred and eighteen territories; the translation and printing of literature in ninety-one languages; the construction 152 of two Mashriqu’l-Adhkárs; the acquisition of sites for the future construction of eleven Temples; the formation of forty-eight national spiritual assemblies; the founding of forty-seven national Hazíratu’l-Quds; the incorporation of fifty national spiritual assemblies; the framing of Bahá’í national constitutions and the establishment of Bahá’í national endowments by each of these national assemblies; the adoption of preliminary measures for the construction of Bahá’u’lláh’s Sepulcher; the erection of the first dependency of the first Mashriqu’l-Adhkár of the western world; the development of the institution of the Hands of the Cause; the transformation of the International Bahá’í Council into an international Bahá’í court; the codification of the laws and ordinances of the Kitáb-i-Aqdas; the establishment of six national Bahá’í Courts in the chief cities of the Islamic East; the extension of international Bahá’í endowments in the Plain of ‘Akká and on the slopes of Mt. Carmel; the construction of the International Bahá’í Archives in the neighborhood of the Báb’s Sepulcher; the construction of the tomb of the Báb’s wife in Shíráz; the identification of the resting-places of Bahá’u’lláh’s father, of the Báb’s mother and of His cousin and their reburial in the neighborhood of the Most Great House; the acquisition of the Garden of Riḍván in Baghdád, and of the sites of the Síyáh-Chál in Ṭihrán, of the Báb’s martyrdom in Tabríz and of His incarceration in Chihríq; the establishment of six Bahá’í national publishing trusts; the formation of seven Israel branches of Bahá’í national spiritual assemblies; the participation of women in the membership of Bahá’í local and national spiritual assemblies in Persia; the establishment of a Bahá’í national printing-press in Ṭihrán; the reinforcement of the ties binding the Bahá’í World Community with the United Nations; the opening to the Faith, circumstances permitting, of eleven republics comprised in the Soviet Union, as well as two Soviet-controlled European states—all, please God, culminating in the convocation of a World Bahá’í Congress, in the vicinity of the Garden of Riḍván, in the third holiest city of the Bahá’í world, on the occasion of the world-wide celebrations commemorating the centenary of the formal assumption by Bahá’u’lláh of His prophetic office.

A PLANETARY SPIRITUAL CRUSADE

Let there be no mistake. The avowed, the primary aim of this Spiritual Crusade is none other than the conquest of the citadels of men’s hearts. The theater of its operations is the entire planet. Its 153 duration a whole decade. Its commencement synchronizes with the centenary of the birth of Bahá’u’lláh’s Mission. Its culmination will coincide with the centenary of the declaration of that same Mission. The agencies assisting in its conduct are the nascent administrative institutions of a steadily evolving divinely appointed order. Its driving force is the energizing influence generated by the Revelation heralded by the Báb and proclaimed by Bahá’u’lláh. Its Marshal is none other than the Author of the Divine Plan. Its standard-bearers are the Hands of the Cause of God appointed in every continent of the globe. Its generals are the twelve national spiritual assemblies participating in the execution of its design. Its vanguard is the chief executors of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s master plan, their allies and associates. Its legions are the rank and file of believers standing behind these same twelve national assemblies and sharing in the global task embracing the American, the European, the African, the Asiatic and Australian fronts. The charter directing its course is the immortal Tablets that have flowed from the pen of the Center of the Covenant Himself. The armor with which its onrushing hosts have been invested is the glad tidings of God’s own message in this day, the principles underlying the order proclaimed by His Messenger, and the laws and ordinances governing His Dispensation. The battle cry animating its heroes and heroines is the cry of Yá-Bahá’u’l-Abhá, Yá ‘Alíyyu’l-A‘lá.
So vast, so momentous and challenging a crusade that will, God willing, illuminate the annals of the second epoch of the Formative Age of the Faith of Bahá’u’lláh, and immortalize the second decade of the second Bahá’í century, and the termination of which will mark the closing of the first epoch in the evolution of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s Divine Plan, will, in itself, pave the way for, and constitute the prelude to, the initiation of the laborious and tremendously long process of establishing in the course of subsequent crusades in all the newly opened sovereign states, dependencies and islands of the planet, as well as in all the remaining territories of the globe, the framework of the Administrative Order of the Faith, with all its attendant agencies, and of eventually erecting in these territories still more pillars to share in sustaining the weight and in broadening the foundation of the Universal House of Justice.

BEGIN NINTH PART OF MAJESTIC PROCESS

Then, and only then, will the vast, the majestic process, set in motion at the dawn of the Adamic cycle, attain its consummation—a 154 process which commenced six thousand years ago, with the planting, in the soil of the divine will, of the tree of divine revelation, and which has already passed through certain stages and must needs pass through still others ere it attains its final consummation. The first part of this process was the slow and steady growth of this tree of divine revelation, successively putting forth its branches, shoots and offshoots, and revealing its leaves, buds and blossoms, as a direct consequence of the light and warmth imparted to it by a series of progressive dispensations associated with Moses, Zoroaster, Buddha, Jesus, Muḥammad and other Prophets, and of the vernal showers of blood shed by countless martyrs in their path. The second part of this process was the fruition of this tree, “that belongeth neither to the East nor to the West,” when the Báb appeared as the perfect fruit and declared His mission in the Year Sixty in the city of Shíráz. The third part was the grinding of this sacred seed, of infinite preciousness and potency, in the mill of adversity, causing it to yield its oil, six years later, in the city of Tabríz. The fourth part was the ignition of this oil by the hand of Providence in the depths and amidst the darkness of the Síyáh-Chál of Ṭihrán a hundred years ago. The fifth, was the clothing of that flickering light, which had scarcely penetrated the adjoining territory of ‘Iráq, in the lamp of revelation, after an eclipse lasting no less than ten years, in the city of Baghdád. The sixth, was the spread of the radiance of that light, shining with added brilliancy in its crystal globe in Adrianople, and later on in the fortress town of ‘Akká, to thirteen countries in the Asiatic and African continents. The seventh was its projection, from the Most Great Prison, in the course of the ministry of the Center of the Covenant, across the seas and the shedding of its illumination upon twenty sovereign states and dependencies in the American, the European, and Australian continents. The eighth part of that process was the diffusion of that same light in the course of the first, and the opening years of the second, epoch of the Formative Age of the Faith, over ninety-four sovereign states, dependencies and islands of the planet, as a result of the prosecution of a series of national plans, initiated by eleven national spiritual assemblies throughout the Bahá’í world, utilizing the agencies of a newly emerged, divinely appointed Administrative Order, and which has now culminated in the one hundredth anniversary of the birth of Bahá’u’lláh’s Mission. The ninth part of this process—the stage we are now entering—is the further diffusion of that same light over one hundred and thirty-one additional territories and islands 155 in both the Eastern and Western Hemispheres, through the operation of a decade-long world spiritual crusade whose termination will, God willing, coincide with the Most Great Jubilee commemorating the centenary of the declaration of Bahá’u’lláh in Baghdád. And finally the tenth part of this mighty process must be the penetration of that light, in the course of numerous crusades and of successive epochs of both the Formative and Golden Ages of the Faith, into all the remaining territories of the globe through the erection of the entire machinery of Bahá’u’lláh’s Administrative Order in all territories, both East and West, the stage at which the light of God’s triumphant Faith shining in all its power and glory will have suffused and enveloped the entire planet.
This present Crusade, on the threshold of which we now stand, will, moreover, by virtue of the dynamic forces it will release and its wide repercussions over the entire surface of the globe, contribute effectually to the acceleration of yet another process of tremendous significance which will carry the steadily evolving Faith of Bahá’u’lláh through its present stages of obscurity, of repression, of emancipation and of recognition—stages one or another of which Bahá’í national communities in various parts of the world now find themselves in—to the stage of establishment, the stage at which the Faith of Bahá’u’lláh will be recognized by the civil authorities as the state religion, similar to that which Christianity entered in the years following the death of the Emperor Constantine, a stage which must later be followed by the emergence of the Bahá’í state itself, functioning, in all religious and civil matters, in strict accordance with the laws and ordinances of the Kitáb-i-Aqdas, the Most Holy, the Mother-Book of the Bahá’í Revelation, a stage which, in the fullness of time, will culminate in the establishment of the World Bahá’í Commonwealth, functioning in the plenitude of its powers, and which will signalize the long-awaited advent of the Christ-promised Kingdom of God on earth—the Kingdom of Bahá’u’lláh—mirroring however faintly upon this humble handful of dust the glories of the Abhá Kingdom.
This final and crowning stage in the evolution of the plan wrought by God Himself for humanity will, in turn, prove to be the signal for the birth of a world civilization, incomparable in its range, its character and potency, in the history of mankind—a civilization which posterity will, with one voice, acclaim as the fairest fruit of the Golden Age of the Dispensation of Bahá’u’lláh, and whose rich 156 harvest will be garnered during future dispensations destined to succeed one another in the course of the five thousand century Bahá’í Cycle.

[May 4, 1953]