Monday, July 9, 2018

Peter Terry is a Baha'i of Jewish Background

Peter Terry is an independent religious scholar, musician and educator. He is the author of A Prophet in Modern Times (a biography of the Bab); In His Own Words (an autobiography of Baha'u'llah); Proofs of the Prophets (a compilation and commentary on 40 proofs of prophethood); Companion to Proofs of the Prophets; Proofs of the Prophets--Lord Krishna; and Proofs of the Prophets--Baha'u'llah.
Scholarly works by Peter Terry on Baha'i Library

Peter's website

The Gardens at Bahji

FOR quite some time Shoghi Effendi had desired to acquire more land adjacent to the Sepulchre of Bahá'u'lláh and the Mansion, in order to beautify the grounds of the true Qiblih of the Faith - the most majestic and dignified centre for all the followers of Bahá'u'lláh, as he personally related to me - but this had been impossible because of the interference of some ill-willed meddlers, until the opportunity came again right after the creation of the new State of Israel. The reader may remember the difficulties experienced in his efforts to restore the Mansion to its original condition, after the utter neglect into which it had fallen after the ascension of Bahá'u'lláh, and to obtain from the Mandate authorities the custodianship of this historic building, which for many decades had been the stronghold of an ignoble band of the breakers of His Covenant, who were entrenched in the precincts of the Most Holy Shrine of the Bahá'í world. This situation had grieved 'Abdu'l-Bahá beyond any capacity of endurance. On that particular night, previously mentioned [see page 17], during which the beloved Guardian spoke to me alone for many hours, he related all the suffering and the anguish of so many years of evil plotting first against 'Abdu'l-Bahá, and after His passing, against himself. He went into the details of the provocations, the fiendish machinations, the defiant and open hostility, backed at times by, and in alliance with, sworn external enemies of the Cause for the express purpose of destroying the Divine Covenant, a spiritual madness which had contaminated almost all the surviving members of the family of Bahá'u'lláh. Once the evacuation of the occupants of the Mansion and its restoration had been achieved, Shoghi Effendi immediately began to direct his efforts to beautification of the little land available and particularly of the small plot to the north and west of the Shrine, and of the strip enclosed between the wall of the Mansion's garden and the east side of the Shrine and the building used as an early pilgrim house. Araucaria and tangerine trees were first planted there, with a few cypress and orange trees in front of the Shrine. It was in this small garden that the commemoration I have mentioned in the previous chapter took place. The rest of the grounds, a few metres away and all around the building, was a sea of sand, in some places actually dunes, while at about one hundred and thirty metres' distance, opposite the door of the Sepulchre, there was a large deep pit, possibly excavated a long time before to obtain sand for building purposes. On the west side, and at the rear of the Shrine, there were some olive trees, a few eucalyptus trees, and some ancient pines, which at the time of Bahá'u'lláh's residence in the Mansion were the only source of shade and coolness, during the torrid heat of the long Palestinian summers. This was the condition of the grounds around that Blessed Spot when I first saw it.

On the occasion of my first pilgrimage, Shoghi Effendi spoke to me at length of the plans he had for expansion of the gardens and beautification of the Shrine - one of the goals he had already set for the Ten Year Crusade. He commissioned me to secure, on my return to Italy, drawings and estimates of costs. Of this I shall give more details later on.

Towards the end of 1950, Shoghi Effendi had initiated negotiations with the government of the State of Israel for the acquisition of additional land around the Shrine and the Mansion. The opportunity to obtain such land came when that government, having decided that no alien could reside in the vicinity of the borders of the new nation, became willing to exchange some farm land belonging to Bahá'ís of Persian nationality, [The two brothers Hasan and Farid and their sister, children of Dhikru'llah and grandchildren of Mirza Muhammad Quli, the faithful half-brother of Bahá'u'lláh and His companion in exile, spontaneously offered their farms for the exchange, and the Guardian compensated them for their loss to enable them to purchase other workable land in another location. The brothers were expert agriculturists and enjoyed a great reputation in the Jordan Valley.] located near the border of Jordan, for the same acreage around the Qiblih of our Faith. When the door of pilgrimage was opened again at the end of 1951, one of the first Western pilgrims was an American believer from Wisconsin, Mr. Lawrence Hautz, who made himself useful in carrying on the preliminary negotiations for the exchange of this land. They were difficult and protracted negotiations which, when completed, had lasted two years. The efforts made by Mr. Hautz and by Mr. Leroy Ioas, who, in March 1952, had assumed the General Secretariat of the International Bahá'í Council and taken over the negotiations, were acknowledged publicly by Shoghi Effendi in a message sent to the Bahá'í world the following November, after signature of the agreement had taken place.[See MBW pp.45-6] In the spring of that year definite assurance of the exchange had been given, with the perfecting of the legal instruments of ownership to follow, an intelligence which highly encouraged the Guardian to proceed with his plans.

At about the same time, a great victory over the Covenant-breakers, who had instituted legal proceedings against the Guardian to prevent him from starting his beautification programme, resulted with a decision by the Israeli Government, who granted to the Guardian, as the sole Custodian of the Bahá'í Holy Sites, authorization to demolish the dilapidated buildings cluttering the Sacred Precincts. On more than one occasion Shoghi Effendi had spoken to me of the condition into which the surroundings of the Shrine of Bahá'u'lláh had deteriorated for decades, even to the indignity of allowing a blacksmith shop near the entrance to the Shrine - an incredible effrontery to the sacredness of the Most Holy Shrine of the Bahá'í world. His words of condemnation, broken by the emotion of his repressed deep sorrow and contempt, are still ringing in my ears, as the desecration of the Holy of Holies, for such a long time, had filled his heart with an anguish that those who were close to him felt he could no longer bear. I was utterly disconsolate, particularly during the period of the above-mentioned legal proceedings against him, when he passed through one of the most desolate periods of his life, with his health considerably impaired by the heart-felt grief.

On the occasion of this legal trial, he had summoned me to Haifa to assist him as much as possible and I was therefore an eyewitness to the shameful behaviour of the Covenant-breakers, the agonizing sufferings of the Guardian, and the ultimate victory of the cause of justice.

After my arrival in Haifa, Shoghi Effendi had often spoken of another task he would entrust to me, a task which he defined as 'spiritual'. It concerned the erection of the Most Holy Shrine of the Bahá'í world: 'The Shrine of Bahá'u'lláh, the One Who had sent down the Prophets'.

Because of the enthusiasm and the vigour with which he spoke of this subject, there was no doubt that he had a tentative plan for the beautification of the precincts of the Holy Shrine. He had a unique manner of asking questions, that at times could appear unrelated, but the answers he received were in his brilliant mind put in the proper place and sequence, to construct by his power of visualization the reality of things to come. For several nights he inquired about types of statuary marble - his preference was white Carrara, about methods of producing columns of very large dimensions, about triumphal monuments erected in ancient and in modern times to honour individuals or which were dedicated to faiths, cults or the arts, and the possibility of having an architectural plan and then of the project itself being carried out in the shortest possible time.

These conversations took place a little more than five years before his passing, and although the idea of his death, even at some time in the distant future, never crossed my mind, I was constantly under the apprehension that there was an impelling force that urged him to accomplish as much as he could while he was on earth. His manifold and far-sighted plans, which embraced a multitude of activities at the World Centre and throughout all the continents of the globe, bore eloquent testimony to this. Later on I shall give a brief description of his idea for the Shrine of Bahá'u'lláh, 'only an embellishment', he would say, 'as the great Shrine, of untold magnificence, would be erected in future decades.' After he verbally revealed to me the project he had in mind, and charged me with securing drawings and estimates of cost, the opportunity, for which he had long waited, to beautify the grounds around the existing Shrine, arrived in the late days of April 1952.

World Religion Day - 1967

The Day was observed in foundation Hall of the House of Worship in Wilmette, Illinois with a public
meeting designed to appeal especially to people from Jewish and Christian backgrounds. Mrs. Clarice Weil of Clayton, Missouri, a Bahia'i of Jewish background, explained how the moral laws of Moses were similar to the spiritual teachings of Baha'u'llah Who was the "Lord of Hosts" and "King of Glory" referred to in the Jewish writings. The 614 Mosaic social laws, she said, were abrogated, reinforced or replaced with new ones to solve today's more complex social problems. Mr. David Kellum, a Baha'i and former Christian from Chicago reviewed the history of Christianity to show
that it is not able to cope with today's needs for a peaceful world community. He showed how Baha'u'llah's teachings provide for today's living which demands the recognition of the oneness of mankind under one universal Faith. The gathering concluded with refreshments and a social hour when m any of the 130 who attended could ask questions and meet the speakers.

The Boston and Cambridge Communities coordinated activities for the commemoration which included an ecumenical program of prayers for world peace with thirteen participants (twelve of whom were non-Baha'is). The Boston and Cambridge observance also included a half hour television presentation of the Baha'i Faith on the program: "Our Believing World," on WBZ-TV on the same day.

The friends of St. Paul, Minnesota, observed this event over a two-day period which included a news
conference (the first for St. Paul) on January 14, a panel program, and a public meeting on January 15, with Dr. David S. Ruhe participating in all three. Three television stations responded to the news conference by including the interview on their respective evening broadcasts. The panel program was co-sponsored with the North Central Voters League and was held in their headquarters in the heart of the Negro community in St. Paul.

Alameda, Hayward and Oakland, California communities sponsored a very successful observance. The program consisted of an Inter-Faith panel that answered the question, "Has Modern Man Outgrown Religion?" 200 were in attendance - the largest single attendance reported for this year's commemoration. Publicity included coverage by the newspapers, nineteen radio stations, television spot announcements and a fifteen-minute personal interview on television.

Saturday, July 7, 2018

Ashkan Azizi is a Baha'i of Jewish Background

Account of the Conversion to the Faith of Jinab-i-Aziz'u'llah Azizi from Judaism

First photograph of Jinab-i-Azizi in his youth with a friend,
Jinab-i-Mard Khayeshu'a, father of Jinab-i-Habibo'llah Nahaie.
Among these youth, who were my close friends, with whom we found our way to this sacred threshold, were Jinab-i-Arastu Khan Hakim, Dr. Ayyub Khan, Aziz Eliahu (paternal uncle of Jinab-i-Mirza Abd'u'llah Abrishami), myself and a number of other Jewish youth, who did not have the bounty and honour of accepting the Faith. Most of the time, I would take my younger brother Aqa Murtida with me to these firesides. Each of the youth would ask a question and Jinab-i-Furughi would respond with utmost love and kindness.

At certain meetings, a most radiant elderly man named Mulla Muhammad Rida-Yazdi, was present. He had much regard for the youth and his sincerity attracted them so that they would not waste a moment's effort to strive and seek after the truth. Other youth were hesitant and suspicious of his attention and love towards them and feared this was but a trick to lure them into the Faith.

We continued to gather together often, until at one point, we found our way to the home of Haji Mulla Ali Akbar Shahmirzadi, Hand of the Cause, who was residing near the Jewish ghetto. This honourable and knowledgeable gentleman was very kind to us. Through his powerful and thought-provoking discourses, he would answer our objections and misunderstandings. Due to the persuasive power of his proofs, the truth of the Faith became evident to me and one could say that I was half-converted. Yet the type of faith and conviction which consumes heart and soul, the kind of faith which leaves no room for doubt or questioning, the type of faith which renders one intoxicated and in a state of wonderment, to the extent that one would sacrifice life and wealth, had not yet arisen in me.

Even so, Jinab-i-Aqa Jan Bolbol, Mirza Aqa Jan Gilavani, known as Majzub, Mirza Khalil (father of Mr. Arjomand), and Mirza Ibrahim Khayyat all declared, were very steadfast in their faith, and would observe all the principles of the Baha'i Faith.

Mirza Khalil was one of the respected and confident members of Jewish society, and therefore, his conversion to the Cause of the Blessed Beauty created much commotion. One day, Haji Eliahu, as I have mentioned, was taking refuge in the home of Nur-Mahmud out of fear of his enemies, and in the meantime was secretly teaching the Faith to Mirza Mahmud’s son-in-law, Mirza Ayyub. After embracing the Faith, Mirza Khalil, who had a very modest home in the Ghetto, put his house in the service of Baha'i teachers and many would frequent his house. For instance, one day Jinab-i-Haji Mirza Haydar 'Ali and Jinab-i-Varqa-i-Shahid entered that home where I met them as I also visited this place often for deepening.

Jinab-i-Varqa had recently returned from the Holy Land and Mirza Khalil had invited a group of Jews and Rabbis to benefit from his teaching and to ask whatever questions they had and present any concerns. We ourselves sat quietly in a corner and were witnessing the discussion taking place. Unfortunately, instead of deriving benefit and learning some truths, they were busy arguing and would often change the subject. Out of prejudice and the habit of clinging to their old beliefs, they were not really ready to listen to any truthful fact whatever. Such was the case until Jinab-i-Varqa stated, "There is a verse from His Holiness Joshua, to this effect: 'Eye to eye, see that they will bring the Lord back to Zion".  (a verse of Joshua). And then he said, "I saw this with my own eyes."

The Rabbis, who could not bear to hear things like this, began to insult him. Disregarding manners and courtesy, they said, "If you saw God, may both your eyes be blinded if you lie." This contemptuous attitude from them, in contrast to the gracious and courteous manner of Jinab-i-Varqa, who so eloquently marshalled proofs and cited verses from the Torah, moved me to the extent that I recognised the truth, and realized that in every age, the chief source of denial has ever been this kind of unjust, stubborn, and proud people. At any rate, this baseless response from Jewish religious leaders to the powerful and persuasive discourses of Jinab-i-Varqa stirred me to such depths that I surrendered my will right then and there. My faith was confirmed, and I took on the path of service to Baha'u'llah.

Following this event, other instances like this took place in the home of Mirza Khalil, and the situation there became so difficult and troublesome for him, that he was forced to leave the Jewish ghetto. So, he sold his house and moved to Qasvin Gate, but he would not put an end to his teaching efforts. Every night he invited gifted and receptive youth to his home, and on occasion, Jinab-i-Shaykh Muhammad 'Ali Qaini, went to his house and read aloud tablets of Baha'u'llah.

As a result of frequenting this house, and socializing with the friends there, especially with individuals like Jinab-i-Haji Mulla Ali Akbar Shahmirzadi (Hand of the Cause), Shaykh Muhammad Ali, Haji Muhammad Allaqiband Yazdi, Nayyer and Sina, Aqa Muhammad Rida and his son along with Haji Abul-Hasan Ardekani (Haji Amin) and Fayzeh Khanum - I forged strong friendships. Beyond what benefits I derived from socializing and interacting with these individuals, I compared what I heard from them with what I knew from the Torah.

Especially on Fridays and holidays I would go with them to various gardens throughout the suburbs of Tehran, and I was always on the alert to learn and add to my knowledge. It was then that Yunis Khan Afrouhteh - who later became known as Dr. Yunis Khan - along with Dr. Arastu Khan Hakim (Father of Mr. Gholam Husayn Khan and Prof. Manucher Hakim) were summoned to the Holy Land. Since Mirza Arastu Khan was a very sincere and kind friend of mine, I called upon him to act as my go-between and to ask that I too might be given permission for pilgrimage.

Taken from the Memoirs of a Jewish Baha'i Mr. Aziz'u'llah Azizi, download from here

How a Jewish wineseller became a Baha'i?

Close to 60 years ago, around the year of 1272 A.H. (1890 A.D.), a man known as Haji Eliahu returned from the Holy Land and was secretly socializing with the Jews, in order to teach the Cause of God. Orthodox Jews, aware of his activities, would call him names in public and would insult this man of God in the streets and marketplace. Children, encouraged by their parents, would throw stones at him. This opposition was especially strong from my father, Rabbi Daniel, who was one of the most prejudiced and influential of the Jewish spiritual leaders. The matter came to a head one day when a group of men felt agitated by his wisdom and reason. As is the way of ill-intentioned men, they caught him by surprise in one of the alleys of the ghetto and beat him relentlessly probably with the intention to kill him. A goodhearted man was passing by and immediately reported the incident to Mirza Aqa Jan Gilavani (later known as Majzub) who was related to my father. He was told that one of his relatives was being beaten to death. Mirza' Aqa Jan Gilavani Majzub, went straightaway to save him and delivered him from their hands. He took him to the house he rented (which was owned by Mirza Aqa Jan Bolbol), where he provided a bed for him in one room and began to attend to him to help him recover.

Mirza Aqa Jan Bolbol, before accepting the Faith, was a wine seller. This job was customary at that time and involved making wine at home. As he came home in order to pick-up and deliver some wine for his customers, he learned that Haji Eliahu had been brought to his home. He became extremely upset. (Mirza Aqa Jan Bolbol told me repeatedly). Mirza Aqa Jan Bolbol, flew into a rage and exclaimed, "I have just heard that Haji Eliahu--who has turned against his own religion and become an atheist--has been brought to my house?" The homeowner later said, "My knees suddenly weakened and somewhat paralysed. I grew pale and felt so ill, that I could not keep my balance. So, I sat down on the porch stairs in the yard outside, and as I began to regain my senses, I shouted out, "How dare you bring this infidel and apostate into my house?" In the end, I was reduced to tears of frustration and under my breath I was muttering that my entire wine supply was turned impure. Then I turned to Mirza Aqa Jan Gilavani (Majzub) and threw insults and screams at him."

Anyway, this disturbance continued well into the day until Mirza Aqa Jan Bolbol calmed down. Mirza Aqa Jan Gilavani went to him and apologized, and in the end, convinced the homeowner to visit Haji Eliahu to hear what kind of nonsense he was saying. Haji's words were so unimportant to them both, that they considered whatever he would have to say as having no value. So at the insistence of Mirza Aqa Jan Gilavani, Mirza Aqa Jan Bolbol reluctantly went with him to visit Haji Eliahu.

To their surprise, they found the Haji talking in a calm and kind manner, in spite of the abuse, insults and physical beating he had just suffered. The Haji had also been quite aware of the yelling and cursing of the landlord. The Haji’s remarks were full of truth and sincerity; he would mention nothing apart from faith and God. Whatever the Haji would say, he would back up with verses of the Torah, directing all his remarks to the landlord and his tenant. Both calmed down and were drawn to the Haji' s kindliness and sweetness of speech.

The next and following days, they went to see him again and again, till they became intoxicated and entranced by his discourses and solid proofs. This continued until one day they referred these matters to a person more knowledgeable than they: Mirza Ibrahim Khayat (father of Mr. Khojasteh, who had a pharmacy on Nasir Khusraw Avenue). They told him the whole story and sought his advice. Mirza Ibrahim Khayat, responded with sarcasm, but as he found them nevertheless persistent, he started to verbally attack and insult these two. But their insistence paid off, Bolbol and Majzub managed to drag him along to see Haji Eliahu. In the presence of the Haji, Mirza Ibrahim became also drawn to him. Haji Eliahu succeeded in making known to them the love of Jesus, by means of his tenderness and love. Through his teaching, they came to know that Jesus was from God. When later, they became believers in the (Baha'i) Faith through Jinab-i-Haji-Mulla 'Ali Akbar Shahmirzadi, who was a Hand of the Cause of God in the time of Baha'u'llah, they went on to accept Muhammad as the messenger of God and thereafter the Bab and Baha’u’llah. At last these four men began to teach the Faith in the Jewish ghetto: Haji Eliahu was, as it were, the standard bearer, with Mirza Ibrahim Khayat (also a tailor) the torch bearer, Mirza Aqa Jan Bolbol the minstrel of the four, and Mirza Aqa Jan Majzub was the one who would render service to the group as a whole. On many occasions, I would hear Mirza Aqa Jan Bolbol say, with a wistful and emotion-laden voice: "From that moment on, I abandoned wine selling and besought God to forgive my sins."

This group of four knew well that they would meet with no success among the very prejudiced elders there, so they approached the youth, and started to speak to them. They invited them to come and see Mirza Aqa Jan Majzub, acquainting them with the Faith and cultivating a seed of love for it in their hearts.

As a consequence, these activities provoked complaints and eventually continued residence in the ghetto became impossible for them. So Mirza Aqa Jan Majzub left the ghetto and moved to the vicinity of the Qazvin Gate district of Tehran. Thus, the very house that for some time was the hiding place for Jinab-i-Mirza Mahmud Furughi, in fact became a proof of the verse of the Torah:

"Those who were as wolves held lambs in loving embrace, and would protect them with heart and soul from the onslaught of enemies."

(A verse from the Torah.)

I was a very religious Jew, i accepted the Baha'i Faith - Aziz'u'llah Azizi

As a result of the education and upbringing given to me by my father as a youth, I was very religious and even prejudiced, following as I did the teachings and customs of the religion of the Jews. I had no shortcomings with respect to the reading of the Torah or other religious texts. I was quite deepened and would meditate on each verse, looking for its true meaning. It is true that my knowledge of the Torah was well-grounded, and there was no aspect that was beyond my grasp. Indeed, I had memorised most of the verses of the Torah together with their meaning and that made my father deeply proud of me. He was expecting great things of me--a bright future--for the cause of the Jews. He was hoping I would become a rabbi. But I had no desire to become a kind of rabbi and to sit on a spiritual throne.

When during the course of my reading the Torah, I encountered verses concerning the "Day of God." I would read that in that Day, the "Wolf and the Lamb" would drink from the same stream, and injustice and discord would vanish and equality and brotherhood would be established and so forth. It was my utmost wish - indeed the very thought brought me fulfillment - that mankind would soon experience this blessed vision and all these enmities, religious prejudices and inequalities between the sexes might disappear. In short, all these circumstances helped prepare me and make me receptive to the truth and acceptance of divine bestowals, until at last I met and begin to socialize with the Baha’is, as I will explain in detail later…
Download the Memoirs of a Jewish Baha'i Mr. Aziz'u'llah Azizi, here

Sunday, July 1, 2018

Aziz Navidi was a Baha'i of Jewish Background, he was appointed as legal adviser to the Iranian Ministry of the Interior and Defense.

 Dr. Aziz Navidi (1913-1987):
Intrepid Pioneer, Knight of Bahá'u'lláh
by Graham Walker published in Bahá'í News, 682

Dr. Aziz Navidi was a remarkable man, loved and respected by all who knew him. Although in his capacity as an international lawyer he spoke with presidents and kings, he always remained humble and self-effacing. He brought about constitutional changes in many countries to secure freedom of worship for millions and protection for the Bahá'ís in particular. He was a masterful lawyer and a consummate diplomat, and above all he was completely devoted to the Cause.

Aziz Navidi was born in Hamadan, Iran, in 1913. He studied law in Tehran and took his doctorate at the Sorbonne in Paris. Soon after completing his military service he was appointed as legal adviser to the Iranian Ministry of the Interior and Defense and soon became one of the most successful advocates in the country.

Recognition and success brought him a great deal of work, but he still found time to defend the poor, for whom he worked without charge. He would receive them early in the morning before going to his office and again upon his return he would often be greeted by a long queue of people anxious to petition him. He often worked late into the night preparing cases for his poorer clients.

In his civil practice he also defended Bahá'ís, sometimes against the most powerful in the land. Many attempts were made on his life, and on one occasion enemies tried to abduct one of his daughters. His friends and colleagues tried to persuade him to drop these contentious cases and to protect himself from the attacks of his enemies, but he continued to fight for justice regardless of the personal risk. He won the respect of everyone around him. On one occasion he had successfully defended a man charged with theft. Outside the court, after his acquittal, the man privately told him that he was in fact guilty. Dr. Navidi did not hesitate for a moment; he marched him straight back into the court, apologized to the judge, and then conducted the prosecution.

In 1953 Aziz and his wife, Shamsi, pioneered to Monte Carlo. Aziz had been offered the post of Consul General in Paris, but being a Bahá'í, he refused it. From his base in Monte Carlo he was sent all over the world to defend the Bahá’ís who were being unjustly treated and persecuted. It was no surprise that the beloved Guardian designated him the “Shield of the Cause of God” and predicted that future historians would study his achievements, although Dr. Navidi himself never spoke of this precious accolade.

He was frequently called upon to be absent from home for six months at a time and Shamsi had accepted to support him in this work and to raise their family almost single-handedly. Their daughter, Guilda, was always a problem at mealtimes, throwing her food over the balcony or surreptitiously putting it into her pockets when no one was looking. She was told on one occasion that if she ate well and gained weight, her father would come home. She secretly inserted two cherries in her cheeks and then asked brightly when he would be coming home.

In 1968 Dr. Navidi became a representative of the Iranian Oil Company for its operations in the Indian Ocean. The family pioneered again, establishing their home in Mauritius. Dr. Navidi then undertook the first of many missions to various African states to secure recognition of the Faith there. He fearlessly visited countries hostile to the Bahá'ís with no protection except his faith and his credentials as official lawyer to the Universal House of Justice with special status at the United Nations. His missions took him to Cameroon, the Central African Republic, Chad, the Congo, Gabon, the Gambia, Kenya, Madagascar, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Zaire and many, many other countries throughout the world. He was successful time and again in persuading democratic governments and dictators alike to alter their laws and constitutions and to officially recognize the Bahá'í Faith. His professional brilliance, his calm perseverance in the face of what often seemed to be insurmountable obstacles, and his unswerving faith in Bahá'u'lláh earned him the esteem and respect of even his fiercest adversaries.

In one African country he had been asked to meet with a certain government minister to try and convince him to change his country's harsh stance toward the Bahá'ís. Every morning he would go to the minister's office and sit in the waiting room all day. They ordered him to wear a suit and tie while they themselves wore light tropical clothing. At the end of the day he would walk back to his hotel drenched with perspiration and completely exhausted. He was forced to take expensive rooms in the hotel in order to maintain the prestige of the Faith. The little food that he was able to secure was extremely expensive — for example, an egg cost $5. Hepatitis and malaria were epidemic, and theft and murder were commonplace. He was completely without friend or contact. He tolerated indignity and intimidation without complaint, but at the end of three months he began to think that perhaps God did not mean for him to achieve his aim. He prayed ardently for guidance, and decided that he would leave the following day. The next morning he was summoned by the minister who was so impressed by his reasoned argument and firm resolve that he granted the Faith official recognition.

When Dr. Navidi returned from these missions he did not speak of the hardships he had suffered, or of the danger, or of the tribulations of the Bahá'ís. He never himself spoke of what he had achieved, nor at what cost. When the Guardian passed away in 1957 the Hands of the Cause called upon his services. When the Universal House of Justice was elected in 1963 they honored him to become their legal adviser in Africa. It was on one such mission to Africa that he became ill, but he could not bring himself to abandon his task and so did not leave until his suffering became unbearable. By that time his illness was beyond control.

He passed away in a London hospital on July 1, 1987. Messages of condolence were received from individuals and institutions all over the world, and 500 friends and family members attended his funeral service. In recognition of the sterling services rendered to the Cause of God by this devoted servant, the National Spiritual Assembly of the United Kingdom arranged a national memorial service which was held September 4 at the Royal Overseas League in London.

Friday, June 22, 2018

"Soon will all of Israel become glorious, and this diaspora be transformed into regathering."

He is God! O God!

In the Books of the Prophets, Thou hast given good news and glad-tidings to (the people of) Israel, and you have given the promise that there would come a day when the despair of Israel would be transformed into hope, and that those in captivity and the downtrodden might at last find eternal glory. That wondrous Tribe shall, under the shadow of the Lord of Hosts, find security and settlement in the Holy Land and, from the far lands abroad, return unto Zion. Those, who were once lowly shall be cherished, and those who were formerly poor are destined to become powerful.

Those, who were forgotten shall find fame and renown and those once detested shall become the beloved of the peoples of the world. Now, praise be to God, that day of tranquillity has arrived, and the means of happiness and joy are now within reach. Soon will all of Israel become glorious, and this diaspora be transformed into regathering.

The Sun of Truth has arisen, and a ray of divine guidance has alighted upon Israel, so that they will enter the Holy Land from far-away routes in the utmost joy.

O God! Fulfil Thy promise, and bring honour upon the progeny of His Holiness Abraham. Thou art the Powerful, the Able, and Thou art the Seer, the Hearer, the All-Wise.

- 'Abdu'l-Baha Abbas
(unauthorized translation)

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

"Many Persian Jews in Tehran have become Baha'is and I have attended some of their meetings."

Bernard Temple, (Editor of The Gazette, Karachi) read a paper before the Royal Society of Arts, London, "Persia and the Regeneration," which was published in that Society's Journal, saying: 
"Sometimes the world has had cause to regret its inattention. Europe, at the present time (1910), is not showing itself regardful of the rise of the new religious movement, called 'Bahaism' of Persia.... Shiah and Sunni Mohammedans in large numbers have been converted. In European Turkey, and more notably in Asiatic Turkey, they are increasing yearly. I conversed with some in Baghdad. In Egypt they are becoming numerous; also Morroco, Algeria, Tunis and Tripoli and the Northern Provinces of India. I have met in Bombay, Karachi, Quetta, Peshawar, Rawalpindi, Lahore, Delhi and Lucknow. Converts from among the Sikhs of Amritsar, and the Brahmans of Benares; among the Buddists of Ceylon, Burma and Siam; amongst the Taoists of China and Shintoists of Japan.
"Many Persian Jews in Tehran have become Bahais and I have attended some of their meetings. In Hamadan, one of the oldest Jewish settlements in the world, at least a third of the Jewish community has openly gone over to the Movement. No Christian missionary to the Jews in any part of the world can boast a triumph equal to this.... A more intellectual form of Bahaism has expanded into Europe, in Russia, Germany, France and England. In Baku I found a large number; in London, Manchester, Liverpool, Edinburgh and Glasgow an appreciable number. The United States of America promises to become a great western stronghold of Bahaism; also Quebec, Montreal and Toronto, in Canada.
"Before going further perhaps I ought to state that I am not a Bahai." All this world-wide spreading While the founders were behind prison walls!
"The followers of Baha'u'llah already include members of the ruling family of Persian Viziers, Deputies, Governors of Provinces and several Mullahs!"

Bernard Temple was himself a Jewish.