A new version of the Bahá’í Reference Library is now available. This ‘old version’ of the Bahá’í Reference Library will be replaced at a later date.

The new version of the Bahá’i Reference Library can be accessed here »

Bahá’í Administration

  • Author:
  • Shoghi Effendi

  • Source:
  • US Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1974 edition
  • Pages:
  • 196
Go to printed page GO
Pages 171-175

Progress in Persia

In Persia, where, unlike its ill-fated sister nation Afghánistán, the pace of reform has been wisely regulated, the salutary effects of the progressive regime established by its enlightened ruler are not only reacting upon the social and economic structure of its society, but are being increasingly felt by the mass of the followers of Bahá’u’lláh in that land. The welter of controversy into which the drastic reforms of a determined government, aiming at the gradual secularization of the State, has plunged a revolting clergy, has afforded our Persian brethren their long-desired opportunity to pursue untrammelled the course of their spiritual and humanitarian activities. The deportation of a considerable number of Muslim ecclesiastical officials, amongst them the heir of that notorious and bloodthirsty Mujtahid of Iṣfahán, “the Son of the Wolf,” has served to clear the ground for the extension and consolidation of Bahá’í institutions. Already, as reported from an outlying center in the province of Yazd, a leading but fair-minded Mulláh has, upon the discovery of the specific prophecy of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá regarding the forced abandonment of the traditional headdress of Muslim clericals, acknowledged the Divine origin of the Bahá’í Faith, embraced its truth, and openly enlisted as an active supporter of its institutions.
Moreover, it is stated that in various quarters, and among responsible sections of the community the matter of the codification and introduction of a western civil code, and its universal application to all the different communities is being freely discussed, and its desirability increasingly emphasized. As a preliminary measure, however, to the introduction of such a far-reaching reform, certain changes of policy have been lately initiated, not in the form of hastily conceived dictatorial edicts, but as a result of the mature deliberations and with the sanction of the national representatives of the people. The systematization of the laws of marriage and contract; the establishment of a Land Registry wholly independent of ecclesiastical control; the distribution of birth certificates of a purely undenominational character; the increasing prominence accorded to the social rights of womanhood; the close attention paid by State authorities to the education of Persian youth in the Universities of 172 Europe; the banning of all Muslim Passion Plays throughout the territory of the Sháh: the bold and various schemes that have been launched for the embellishment of the Persian Capital—all are welcome signs of the approaching era which is to witness the spiritual and material ascendency of Persia among the people and nations of the world.
In this ever-improving environment and witnessing on every side the downfall of those institutions that have crippled their struggling Faith, the believers in Persia are joyously seizing every opportunity to demonstrate the redeeming power of the Cause of Bahá’u’lláh. An illuminating report, submitted by one of the most capable and trusted itinerant teachers of the Cause in Persia, has lately reached the Holy Land. In it the writer sets forth in graphic and accurate language the many evidences of the increasing vitality displayed by the Faith in different parts of Persia. Summoned by the Persian National Spiritual Assembly to interrupt his travels in the vicinity of the town of Mashhad in order to devote immediate attention to a situation that had unexpectedly arisen in Iṣfahán, our indefatigable teacher and brother was surprised upon his arrival in that province to note in the various towns and villages he visited a ten-fold increase in the number of the adherents of the Faith since his last visit to those regions. He was moreover startled at the hospitality which he received at the hands of those persons who six years ago had been instrumental in expelling him from their localities, and who now had freely enlisted under the banner of Bahá’u’lláh. He was furthermore highly elated to learn that the prestige, the integrity and ability of the local Bahá’í Assemblies in that province had of late stood so high that non-Bahá’ís, exasperated by the corruption and incompetence of their own judges, had more than once freely submitted cases of dispute to the judgment of the elected representatives of the Bahá’í community in their locality.
Only a close and unbiased observer of the manner and habits of the Persian people, already familiar with the prevailing tendencies of different sections of the population, such as their apathy and indolence, the absence of a sense of public duty and of loyalty to principle, the lack of concerted effort and constancy in action, the habit of secrecy and blind surrender to the capricious will of an ignorant and fanatical clergy, can truly estimate the immensity of 173 the task that faces every conscientious believer in that land. He will moreover readily testify to the high standard already attained by the Bahá’ís of Persia in their efforts to inculcate in the minds of their fellow-countrymen the principles of the Divine Civilization ushered in by Bahá’u’lláh.
We have only to glance at the soul-stirring written assurances of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in order to realize the magnitude and exalted character of the mission entrusted by Him to the adherents of the Faith in Bahá’u’lláh’s native land. By the faithful application of the spiritual principles which their present administration is endeavoring to propagate; by the character of those indissoluble bonds of Bahá’í fellowship that cement the union of the mass of the believers with their elected councillors; by the distinctiveness of their future contributions in the domain of art, of science and of trade, of education and of industry—by these and by still other convincing manifestations of the quickening vitality of their Faith, our Persian brethren are destined to demonstrate to the ruling powers on earth the majesty, the enduring stability and the unfailing efficacy of the Government of Bahá’u’lláh.
The following passage from the Tablet of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, revealed more than thirty years ago, while incarcerated within the walls of the prison-city of ‘Akká, and addressed to the Bahá’ís of Khurásán, will undoubtedly stimulate those energetic friends of the West who long to contribute by every means in their power to the rehabilitation of their Master’s native land:—
“Erelong will your brethren from Europe and America journey to Persia. There they will promote to an unprecedented degree the interests of art and industry. There they will rear the institutions of true civilization, promote the development of husbandry and trade, and assist in the spread of education…. Assuredly they will come; assuredly they will contribute in making of the land of Írán the envy and the admiration of the peoples and nations of the world.”
And as we ponder these words of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in our hearts, let us also remember the prophetic utterances of Bahá’u’lláh, which reveal not only the merciless cruelty of the ecclesiastical leaders of Islám but also the measure of Divine retribution which now afflicts the oppressors of God’s holy Faith:—
“O people of the Qur’án! Verily the prophet of God, Muḥammad, 174 sheddeth tears at the sight of your cruelty. Ye have assuredly followed your evil and corrupt desires and turned away your face from the light of guidance. Erelong will ye witness the result of your deeds; for the Lord My God lieth in wait and is watchful of your behavior…. Erelong He will raise in every city the standard of His sovereignty, and will wipe away the traces of them that have denied Him on the day of His return…. O concourse of Muslim divines! By your deeds the exalted station of the nation hath been abased, the standard of Islám hath been reversed and its mighty throne hath fallen. Whenever the Divine Reformer has sought to ennoble the rank of the people, ye have tumultuously risen against Him and prevented Him from executing His purpose, wherefore the realm hath remained in grievous loss.”
And in conclusion, I wish, in a few words, to pay a tribute, however inadequate, to the magnificent services rendered by that exemplary and indefatigable teacher of the Cause, our dearly-beloved sister, Miss Martha Root. Her international travels on behalf of the Bahá’í Faith, so wide in their range, so extensive in their duration, so inspiring in their results, will adorn and enrich the annals of God’s immortal Faith. Her earliest journeys to the southernmost limits of the American continent, to India and to South Africa, to the eastern confines of Asia, to the islands of the Southern Seas and the Scandinavian countries of the North; her more recent contact with the rulers and crowned heads of Europe and the impression which her undaunted spirit created in royal circles in the Balkan countries; her close affiliation with international organizations, peace societies, humanitarian movements and Esperantist circles; and her latest victories in the university circles of Germany—all constitute a compelling evidence of what the power of Bahá’u’lláh can achieve. These historic labors, pursued single-handed and in circumstances of financial stringency and ill-health, have been characterized throughout by a spirit of fidelity, of self-effacement, of thoroughness and vigor that none has excelled.
I appeal to individual believers and Bahá’í Assemblies alike to reinforce by every possible means the earnest strivings of such a precious soul, to respond speedily and entirely to every request that from time to time she feels moved to address to her fellow-workers in every land, to strive to attain the high standard of stewardship 175 that she has set, and to pray from the very depths of their hearts for the uninterrupted continuance of her noble endeavors.
Your true brother,
Haifa, Palestine,
February 12, 1929.