Tuesday, February 2, 2010


[Ref: Baha’i World Volume XII (1950-1954) page: 42]

One of the most astounding and miraculous developments at the World Center of the Faith has been the acquisition and embellishment of the land surrounding the Shrine of Baha'u'llah at Bahji, on the plain outside of 'Akka. After two-year-long negotiations the Guardian announced on November 12, 1952, that a contract had been signed whereby about one hundred sixty thousand square meters of land (forty acres) in the immediate area of the Shrine were to be transferred by the Israeli Government to Baha'i ownership. Thus the Guardian was able to begin carrying out his longing to beautify the entire surroundings of the Tomb of the Founder of the Baha'i Faith.

This property, equal in extent almost to "the entire Baha'i international endowments purchased in the course of sixty years in the vicinity of the Bab's Sepulcher," had come into the hands of the Israeli Government because of the precipitate flight of the former Arab owners. The Government of Israel was willing to arrange for its exchange for property which was located in a strategic area, owned by Baha'is who offered to donate their property for the purpose of the exchange. The dramatic event was heightened by the fact that the property in the Bahji area now being acquired by the Baha'is had formerly been owned by Arab supporters of old Covenant-breakers and descendents of the notorious enemy of 'Abdu'l-Baha who had placed his residence at the disposal of the Turkish Committee of Investigation sent to interrogate 'Abdu'l-Baha just prior to overthrow of the Caliphate in 1908. The area donated for exchange, on the other hand, was property belonging to the grandchildren of Mirza Muhammad-Quli, Baha'u'llah's faithful half-brother and companion in exile.

The Guardian's cable announced that the contract was signed on the one hundred thirty-fifth anniversary of the birth of Baha'u'llah. Transfer of the Bahji property was arranged by the Development Authority of Israel to be registered under the name of the Israel Branch of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of the United States of America.

The International Council wrote: "The magnitude of this historic event is difficult to understand at this time."

Immediately the Guardian began laying out gardens to beautify the area around the Sepulcher of Baha'u'llah, "the Qiblih of the Baha'i world." Laid out in the form of a semi-circle around the Shrine, with a radius.