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Bahá’í Administration

  • Author:
  • Shoghi Effendi

  • Source:
  • US Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1974 edition
  • Pages:
  • 196
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Pages 160-162

Persecutions in Russia

Ever since the counter-revolution that proclaimed throughout the length and breadth of Czarist Russia the dictatorship of the Proletariat, and the subsequent incorporation of the semi-independent territories of Caucasus and Turkistan within the orbit of Soviet rule, the varied and numerous Bahá’í institutions established in the past by heroic pioneers of the Faith have been brought into direct and sudden contact with the internal convulsions necessitated by the establishment and maintenance of an order so fundamentally at variance with Russia’s previous regime. The avowed purpose and action of the responsible heads of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics who, within their recognized and legitimate rights, have emphatically proclaimed and vigorously pursued their policy of uncompromising opposition to all forms of organized religious propaganda, have by their very nature created for those whose primary obligation is to labor unremittingly for the spread of the Bahá’í Faith a state of affairs that is highly unfortunate and perplexing. For ten years, however, ever since the promulgation of that policy, by some miraculous interposition of Providence, the Bahá’ís of Soviet Russia have been spared the strict application to their institutions of the central principle that directs and animates the policy of the Soviet state. Although subjected, as all Russian citizens have been, even since the outbreak of the Revolution, to the unfortunate consequences of civil strife and external war, and particularly to the internal commotions that must necessarily accompany far-reaching changes in the structure of society, such as partial expropriation of private property, excessive taxation and the curtailment of the right of personal initiative and enterprise; yet in matters of worship and in the conduct of their administrative and purely non-political activities they have, thanks to the benevolent attitude of their rulers, enjoyed an almost unrestricted freedom in the exercise of their public duties.
Lately, however, due to circumstances wholly beyond their control and without being in the least implicated in political or subversive activity, our Bahá’í brethren in those provinces have had 161 to endure the rigid application of the principles already enunciated by the state authorities and universally enforced with regard to all other religious communities under their sway. Faithful to their policy of expropriating in the interests of the State all edifices and monuments of a religious character, they have a few months ago approached the Bahá’í representatives in Turkistan, and after protracted negotiations with them, decided to claim and enforce their right of ownership and control of that most cherished and universally prized Bahá’í possession, the Mashriqu’l-Adhkár of Ishqábád. The insistent and repeated representations made by the Bahá’ís, dutifully submitted and stressed by their local and national representatives, and duly reinforced by the action of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of Persia, emphasizing the international character and spiritual significance of the Edifice and its close material as well as spiritual connection with the divers Bahá’í communities throughout the East and West, have alas! proved of no avail. The beloved Temple which had been seized and expropriated and for three months closed under the seal of the Municipal authorities was reopened and meetings were allowed to be conducted within its walls only after the acceptance and signature by the Bahá’í Spiritual Assembly of Ishqábád of an elaborate contract drawn by the Soviet authorities and recognizing the right of undisputed ownership by the State of the Mashriqu’l-Adhkár and its dependencies. According to this contract, the Temple is rented by the State for a period of five years to the local Bahá’í community of that town, and in it are stipulated a number of obligations, financial and otherwise, expressly providing for fines and penalties in the event of the evasion or infringement of its provisions.
To these measures which the State, in the free exercise of its legitimate rights, has chosen to enforce, and with which the Bahá’ís, as befits their position as loyal and law-abiding citizens, have complied, others have followed which though of a different character are none the less grievously affecting our beloved Cause. In Baku, the seat of the Soviet Republic of Caucasus, as well as in Ganjih and other neighboring towns, state orders, orally and in writing, have been officially communicated to the Bahá’í Assemblies and individual believers, suspending all meetings, commemoration gatherings and festivals, suppressing the committees of all Bahá’í local and national 162 Spiritual Assemblies, prohibiting the raising of funds and the transmission of financial contributions to any center within or without Soviet jurisdiction, requiring the right of full and frequent inspection of the deliberations, decisions, plans and action of the Bahá’í Assemblies, dissolving young men’s clubs and children’s organizations, imposing a strict censorship on all correspondence to and from Bahá’í Assemblies, directing a minute investigation of Assemblies’ papers and documents, suspending all Bahá’í periodicals, bulletins and magazines, and requiring the deportation of leading personalities in the Cause whether as public teachers and speakers or officers of Bahá’í Assemblies.