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The Bahai Revelation
The Bahai (Glorious) Revelation proclaims the time of Universal Peace and provides the base for the Universal Religion—the hope of the ages. It points the way and supplies the means for the unity of mankind in the knowledge and love of Truth under the high banners of Justice and Mercy.
It is divine in origin, human in presentation, sane, practical and applicable to life in its every phase. In belief it inculcates naught but Truth; in action, naught but Good; in human relations, naught but loving Service.
For the information of those who know little or nothing of the Bahai Revelation, we quote the following account translated from the (French) Encyclopaedia of Larousse:
BAHAISM: the religion of the disciples of BAHA'O'LLAH, an outcome of Babism.—Mirza Husain Ali Nuri BAHA'O'LLAH was born at Teheran in 1817 A. D. From 1844 he was one of the first adherents of the Bab, and devoted himself to the pacific propagation of his doctrine in Persia. After the death of the Bab he was, with the principal Babis, exiled to Baghdad, and later to Constantinople and Adrianople, under the surveillance of the Ottoman Government. It was in the latter city that he openly declared his mission. He was "He-whom-God-would-make-manifest," whom the Bab had announced in his writings, the great Manifestation of God, promised for the last days; and in his letters to the principal Rulers of the States of Europe he invited them to join him in establishing religion and universal peace. From this time, the Babis who acknowledged him became Bahais. The Sultan then exiled him (1868 A. D.) to Acca in Palestine, where he composed the greater part of his doctrinal works, and where he died in 1892 A. D. (May 29). He had confided to his son, Abbas Effendi Abdul-Baha, the work of spreading the religion and continuing the connection between the Bahais of all parts of the world. In point of fact, there are Bahais everywhere, not only in Mohammedan countries, but also in all the countries of Europe, as well as in the United States, Canada, Japan, India, etc. This is because BAHA'O'LLAH has known how to transform Babism into a universal religion, which is presented as the fulfillment and completion of all the ancient faiths. The Jews await the Messiah, the Christians the return of Christ, the Moslems the Mahdi, the Buddhists the fifth Buddha, the Zoroastrians Shah Bahram, the Hindoos the reincarnation of Krishna, and the Atheists—a better social organization! BAHA'O'LLAH represents all these, and thus destroys the rivalries and the enmities of the different religions; reconciles them in their primitive purity, and frees them from the corruption of dogmas and rites. For Bahaism has no clergy, no religious ceremonial, no public prayers; its only dogma is belief in God and in his Manifestations (Zoroaster, Moses, Jesus, et al., BAHA'O'LLAH). The principal works of are the Kitab-ul-Ighan, the Kitab-ul-Akdas, the Kitab-ul-Ahd, and numerous letters or tablets addressed to sovereigns or to private individuals. Ritual holds no place in the religion, which must be expressed in all the actions of life, and accomplished in neighborly love. Every one must have an occupation. The education of children is enjoined and regulated. No one has the power to receive confession of sins, or to give absolution. The priests of the existing religions should renounce celibacy, and should preach by their example, mingling in the life of the people. Monogamy is universally recommended, etc. Questions not treated of are left to the civil law of each country, and to the decisions of the Bait-ul-Adl, or House of Justice, instituted by BAHA'O'LLAH. Respect toward the Head of the State is a part of respect toward God. A universal language, and the creation of tribunals of arbitration between nations, are to suppress wars. "You are all leaves of the same tree, and drops of the same sea," BAHA'O'LLAH has said. Briefly, it is not so much a new religion, as Religion renewed and unified, which is directed today by Abdul-Baha.—Nouveau Larousse Illustre, supplement, p. 60.
ANNOUNCEMENT Extra copies of this Mashrak-el-Azkar edition of STAR OF THE WEST may be had by applying to Bahai Temple Unity, Harlan F. Ober, Secretary, 114 State Street, Boston, Mass.
STAR OF THE WEST
"We desire but the good of the world and the happiness of the nations; that all nations shall become one in faith and all men as brothers; that the bonds of affection and unity between the sons of men shall be strengthened; that diversity of religion shall cease and differences of race be annulled. So it shall be; these fruitless strifes, these ruinous wars shall pass away, and the 'Most Great Peace' shall come."—BAHA'O'LLAH.
Vol. VI Mulk 1, 71 (February 7, 1916) No. 18
The Mashrak-el-Azkar of Ishkabad
By CHARLES MASON REMEY
Washington, D. C.,
October 12, 1908.
To the House of Spirituality of Bahais, Chicago, Ill.
Brothers in the service of Abha:—
As you have arisen for the construction of the first Mashrak-el-Azkar in America, and, as I have recently visited Ishkabad and seen there the great Mashrak-el-Azkar of the east, of which we in the west have heard so much, I take it upon myself to write to you a description of this edifice, hoping to share with you the great blessing of meeting with the friends in those parts and of beholding this Temple which is a testimony of their sacrifice and unity.
As you know, Ishkabad is in Russian Turkestan, just north of the Elbruz mountains, which separate the desert plain of western Turkestan, on the north, from Persia on the south. The city itself lies on the plain a short distance from the mountains, which here are quite rugged and rocky. The town is quite modern in aspect, being laid off with gardens and broad streets, which meet at right angles. Rows of trees along the sidewalks remind one of a western city, while the buildings and the waterways, which flank the streets and are fed with water coming from the nearby mountains, are strikingly oriental.
I could hardly believe that this city had sprung up almost entirely during the past half-century. It was but a huddle of mud huts, when Baha'o'llah first directed some of his followers to settle there. Now this is replaced by a large and prosperous city of buildings of brick and stone.
The Mashrak-el-Azkar stands in the center of the city, surrounded by a large garden, which is bounded by four streets. It rises high above the surrounding buildings and trees, its dome being visible for miles, as the traveller approaches the city over the plain. The building in plan is a regular polygon of nine sides. One large doorway and portico, flanked by turrets, facing the direction of the Holy City [Akka], forms the principal motive of the façade, while the dome dominates the whole composition.
The walls of the Temple are of brick covered with a firm and hard stucco,
which in that climate resists quite well the action of the elements, while the floors are concrete supported by iron or steel beams.
In plan the building is composed of three sections: the central rotunda, the aisle or ambulatory which surrounds it,
--PHOTO-- Temple at Ishkabad, Russia
and the loggia which surrounds the entire building.
The interior of the rotunda is five stories in height. The first or main floor story consists of nine arches, supported by piers, which separate the ambulatory from the rotunda proper. The second story consists of a similar treatment of arches and piers and balustrades, which separate the triforium gallery (which is directly above the ambulatory) from the wall of the rotunda. The third story is decorated with nine flank arcades, between which is a shield upon which is inscribed, in Persian characters, "Ya-Baha-el-Abha." The fourth story contains
nine large windows, while the wall of the fifth story, which is not as high as the others, is pierced by eighteen bull's-eye windows.
Above, there is the dome which is hemispherical in shape. The rotunda from the floor to the top of the dome is elaborately decorated with fret work and other designs, all in relief. We were
told that the ultimate aim was that color and gilding should be added to this interior decoration.
The inner dome is of iron or steel and concrete, while the outer dome or roof is entirely of metal—the intention is that this shall be gilded.
The main portico of the temple is two stories in the clear, while the loggias, which surround the building, are on two floors, the lower being on the main floor level, while the upper one is on the level of the triforium gallery. This upper loggia is reached by two stair-cases, one to the right and one to the left of the main entrance, and the gallery is entered from the loggia.
On the main floor the principal entrance is through the large doorway, but there are also several inner doors, which connect the ambulatory with the loggia. An abundance of light is admitted through the windows in the upper part of the rotunda, as well as through the windows of the upper gallery and ambulatory, which open upon the loggias.
The Persian style of architecture has been used in treating the details and decorations of the buildings.
At present the stucco work is not quite completed. The interior of the rotunda is finished, but the decoration of the loggias and gallery and ambulatory is only done in part. However, the work is continuing and it will not be long before all will be complete.
From what I saw and heard in Ishkabad, I found that those believers who superintended the building of the Temple were competent business men and that, although they had undertaken a large enterprise, every possible economy was made, yet at the same time no expense seemed to be spared when necessary for the beauty and solidity of the building.
The layout of the garden is not yet complete. Nine avenues of approach lead to the Temple. The main avenue of the nine, leading to the entrance portico, will be entered from the street by a monumental gateway. Last July they were completing the plans for this principal gateway of the grounds.
At the four corners of the garden are four buildings. One is a school. One is a house, where traveling Bahais are entertained. One is to be used as a hospital, and the other is for workmen, storage, etc. Much of the property in the immediate vicinity of this enclosure belongs to Bahais, so the Mashrak-el-Azkar is the center of the community materially, as well as spiritually.
That which impressed me more than all else, as I stood before this Mashrak-el-Azkar, was the fact that the Bahais of the east had all worked with one accord and had given freely toward its erection.
The Temple in America can be accomplished only as we give up self and unite in this service. The beloved in the east made their offerings and left them with all personal desires upon the altar of sacrifice. Now we in this country must do likewise. We need something more than money for the Temple. It must be built of the material of sacrifice and cemented together by the spirit of unity.
In the building of the Temple, every one must lay before God his material offering together with his ideas, desires and aspirations—give them to the Lord completely, and then, as we come together to construct the material building, we will find that we have ample means for the work in hand.
Each one of us has sufficient means, both material and spiritual, for the work which God has given us to perform. We need not trouble thinking that we may not have enough means, but we should seek to apply to the best advantage the means which God has given us.
Faithfully, your brother in the service of Abdul-Baha,
Charles Mason Remey.
STAR OF THE WEST
PUBLISHED NINETEEN TIMES A YEAR
By the BAHAI NEWS SERVICE, 515 South Dearborn Street, Chicago, Ill., U. S. A.
Entered as second-class matter April 9, 1911, at the post office at Chicago, Illinois, under the Act of March 3, 1879.
Editorial Staff: ALBERT R. WINDUST — GERTRUDE BUIKEMA — DR. ZIA M. BAGDADI
Honorary Member: MIRZA AHMAD SOHRAB
Terms: $1.50 per year; 10 cents per copy.
Note—Until further notice, distribution in the Orient is through Agents.
Make Money Orders payable to BAHAI NEWS SERVICE, P. O. Box 283, Chicago, Ill., U. S. A.
To personal checks please add sufficient to cover the bank exchange.
Address all communications to BAHAI NEWS SERVICE, P. O. Box 283, Chicago, Ill., U.S.A.
TABLET FROM ABDUL-BAHA.
HE IS GOD!
O thou Star of the West!
Be thou happy! Be thou happy! Shouldst thou continue to remain firm and eternal, ere long, thou shalt become the Star of the East and shalt spread in every country and clime. Thou art the first paper of the Bahais which is organized in the country of America. Although for the present thy subscribers are limited, thy form is small and thy voice weak, yet shouldst thou stand unshakable, become the object of the attention of the friends and the center of the generosity of the leaders of the faith who are firm in the Covenant, in the future thy subscribers will become hosts after hosts like unto the waves of the sea; thy volume will increase, thy arena will become vast and spacious and thy voice and fame will be raised and become world-wide—and at last thou shalt become the first paper of the world of humanity. Yet all these depend upon firmness, firmness, firmness!
(Signed) ABDUL-BAHA ABBAS.
Aga-Seyed-Taki, the Great Afnan
By CHARLES MASON REMEY
January 1, 1916.
Mrs. Corinne True, Chicago.
My dear friend:
You have asked me for some information regarding the life of the venerable Afnan, or the great Afnan, as he was sometimes called in the orient, under whose service of direction, the Mashrak-el-Azkar was built in Ishkabad, Russia.
Afnan, you know, is the term which has been applied to the blood relatives of the "First Point"—the Bab. Aga-Seyed-Taki was the name of the Afnan of whom I write. In the orient, he is known also as Jenab-Afnan-Vakil-Dowleh, the title bestowed upon him for public services rendered to his country, Persia.
Aga-Seyed-Taki-Afnan was first cousin of the Bab. He was the son of Hadji-Mirza-Seyed-Mohammad, the brother of the Bab's mother. It was this same Hadji-Mirza-Seyed-Mohammed, to whom Baha'o'llah revealed, while in Baghdad, the Kitab-el-Ighan or Book of Assurance. So far as I have been able to ascertain, Aga-Seyed-Taki-Afnan was six or seven years younger than the Bab, and they were intimately associated in Baghdad. The friends in Akka and Haifa have told interesting incidents of the youth of the Bab, as described by the Afnan, who recalled vividly the holy personality and spiritual charm of the "First Point."
After many years of service to the Cause in Persia, the Afnan was chosen by Abdul-Baha to undertake the work of the Mashrak-el-Azkar in Ishkabad, where he lived for some years, held in great esteem by all who knew him. Under his direction, the plans for the building were made and the edifice constructed.
I am sending you some pictures which will be of interest to the friends. One shows Aga-Seyed-Taki-Afnan the center of a multitude, including, as you will see by their uniforms, a number of Russian officials. He is in the act of placing the first stones of the foundation of the
Mashrak-el-Azkar of Ishkabad. Note the decorations he wears. These were received from the Russian government in recognition of service rendered in offices to which he had been appointed. Another picture shows the Mashrak-el-Azkar under construction. I send you
--PHOTO-- The Great Afnan
also a likeness of the Afnan himself with two sons, one upon either side.
In the early summer of 1908, I made a pilgrimage to the Holy Land and Akka. At that time it was not advisable for a westerner to go to the home of Abdul-Baha, so I was entertained for two days in Akka in the home of the Afnan. This was my first acquaintance with him. Again, in the late spring of 1910, when Howard Struven and I were with Abdul-Baha, we had several memorable visits with the venerable Afnan, who was then visiting on Mount Carmel, in the German Colony, not far from the tomb of the Bab. I recall
him as a most patriarchlal figure with his long white beard, green turban and the flowing robes of the orient. Though the physical man showed his many years, his smile was radiantly brilliant, giving a glimpse into the chambers of the soul of the inner—the real spiritual man, which knows no age, for it lives eternally.
Here was Aga-Seyed-Taki-Afnan spending the evening of a long life of service near to Abdul-Baha, on the hallowed slopes of the mountain of God—that spot frequented by the Holy Seers and Prophets of biblical days—that spot from which now, in these latter days, the spiritual religion of God is again being given to the world.
--PHOTO-- Laying of Corner Stone, Bahai Temple, Ishkabad, Russia
The service of the great Afnan in this world was completed in the summer of 1911, when he passed into the realms beyond, at the advanced age of eighty-five years.
While George Latimer and I were on Mount Carmel a year ago last October (1914), we took a walk one day over the mountain, in the direction of the sea, toward the cave of the Prophet Elijah. Below us, on the flat between the foot of the mountain and the shore, was the Bahai cemetery. From where we stood, we could look down into the small enclosure, in the center of which is the simple tomb of Aga-Seyed-Taki, the Afnan. Upon one side towered the mountain of God, with its sacred places, while upon the other side stretched the blue sweep of the "tideless sea," stretching off to the north, where Akka, the New Jerusalem, with its white walls and domes seemed to float like a dove upon the water. We were struck by the symbology
of the dove. In the past the "dove of peace" has always been represented as soaring above the earth, but here, even while the great war raged, we seemed to see the dove calmly resting upon the earth's surface, affording the refuge, in this age, of spiritual peace, protection and shelter!
Could the mortal Aga-Seyed-Taki, the great Afnan, have a more fitting resting place than amid such holy surroundings?
Faithfully yours in the service of the Mashrak-el-Azkar,
Charles Mason Remey.
Letters from the Orient
Received by MISS MARTHA L. ROOT
Tanta, Egypt, Nov. 24, 1915.
Dear Bahai sister, Miss Root:—Yesterday morning I found upon my desk, after the first hour in the morning, a packet of letters, I knew, at a glance, to be from America. I welcomed them, because certainly they came from some friend, otherwise there is no connection between an occidental and an oriental like my poor self, unless it be a spiritual relation. I found printed on the envelopes the name of Miss Root. I felt a great pleasure, a pleasure beyond my expression. I remained the whole day joyous, happy and cheerful.
Yes, my dear sister, I was glad to know that you arrived home again safely, from your spiritual tour around the world, in these dangerous days. I felt that I was with you all the time I was reading your fragrant and spiritual letter. Indeed we still remember the few, but spiritual days, when you adorned our meeting and stirred our spirits. We hope and pray for the blessed days, in which we see an occidental friend among us, be he man or lady. It gives us more strength to see that the differences between us have been removed and that the east and west are being united in one universal brotherhood forever, through the Cause of the Blessed Perfection (Baha'o'llah). The first incident that struck me and worked out my final belief was the sight of some Europeans and Americans among Egyptians showing towards each other kindness and love that was not known among them before. I hope, my dear Bahai sister, and earnestly pray to see new friends from the east and west. Indeed this reminds me of the time, when our beloved Abdul-Baha was in Egypt, where there were many friends from all nationalities—the happiest hours of our lives. I cannot help weeping whenever I think of those glorious days. Oh! How happy, how splendid were those days! I think you all appreciated them when Abdul-Baha, was among you.
Yes, it is a good plan that we should correspond with the different centers of the Bahais in the world. It gives us a new impulse and pushes us forward on the road of the Kingdom. Though we have met and certainly love each other, yet, when I receive a letter from a friend in America whom I had not known before, and in the letter printed tablets, such as I had from our sister, Irene C. Holmes of New York, indeed it is a solid proof of our union in His Greatest Cause.
On the day I received your two letters and the letter of Miss Irene C. Holmes containing tablets and printed notes, and at the same time the STAR OF THE WEST and a card from Miss Hiscox in Cairo, I could not express my joy in receiving them at one time. This attracted the notice of one of our colleagues who happened not to have heard anything about the Bahai Movement; he got interested in the paper of the STAR OF THE WEST and read a great part of an address of Abdul-Baha. He was quite pleased with it. . . .
(Later) Today, November 26th, is the Fête Day of Abdul-Baha. We pray that God may take away this black cloud that darkens the horizons of the world and that people may open their sight and see the glory of Baha'o'llah and Abdul-Baha illumining all regions, that all should become one in faith and that the Most Great Peace should come.
Yesterday, I received a letter from Cairo, from Mohammed Taki Margosh, in which he stated that Mrs. Getsinger went to Alexandria to inquire from the American S. S., that arrived from Syria, about the health and conditions of Abdul-Baha and the friends there. She returned
from Alexandria with the good news of his well being and safety, as well as that of the friends.
My wife and family all remember you and send you their sincere love and greetings.
With Bahai love and greetings, your brother in His Abha Cause,
Mohammed Said Adham.
Bombay, India, Dec. 4, 1915.
Dearest spiritual sister:
I have received two letters from you each dearer than a world to me. Oh, you do not know how we all here remember you. It was indeed very kind of you to send us the Carnegie tablet. We have in India two newspapers the editors of which are very pro-Bahais and a magazine whose editor is a Bahai. One of the pro-Bahai editors is Mr. B. Temple of London, now editor of "The Daily Gazette" at Karachi. You must have read his lecture at the Royal Society of Arts, London, on the Movement, in 1910.
The other who is a Bahai, is the editor of a magazine in Madras. It is called "The New Reformer." His full name is D. Gopal Chetty.
Now I am sure that the Carnegie tablet shall come back to you from India like an echo.
It was indeed a pleasure to read of the many interesting things about the friends in America, and of Carl Hannen, who, I think, is the son of the dear Joseph Hannen. I shall copy your example in future and tell you of little or great events here.
Our brother M. R. Shirazi, who is at Karachi, has come down for a month to Bombay. He missed the opportunity of meeting you, simply because Karachi is a little out of the way. . . .
Hasmatullah has now nearly gathered an assembly in Karachi.
All the sisters here are sending you all their best wishes and prayers and desire that you will pray for their success.
Dear sister, if we are backward in service compared to you, it is because in our childhood we had not the benefit of a good education. Now we hope that our daughters may do better.
Yours very humbly,
Cairo, Egypt, Dec. 5, 1915.
My dear Bahai sister:
Your good letters, of October 9th and 30th, were truly welcome and I have passed them around among the friends and read them to others. All were glad to hear from you and receive your words of love and remembrance. . . . All that you wrote was interesting, concerning your visits to the different assemblies.
This autumn I have especially been working for the education of girls. . . . My Bahai meetings continue with interest and devotion, and we feel the power of the Spirit with us. The chief thing is to keep close to God and to be constant in prayer, then He will be sure to use us in His service, and always there is something to do everywhere. It is blessed to be used by Him to uplift souls.
Mrs. Getsinger is at present stopping in Cairo, so we are joining our forces in our work here and it is good to have her here and the young Bahais are very glad to meet her and hear her speak. Mrs. Stannard left Cairo in the early summer and went to Port Said, where she has been living ever since. She seems to prefer it to Cairo or Alexandria.
The friends all speak of you often and all have such a sweet loving remembrance of you. They would be so happy to see you here again.
Yours ever, in El-Abha,