[AUTHORIZED TRANSLATION FROM PERSIAN]
To the friends of God in the sacred land of Iran
At the threshold of the new year and the Festival of Naw-Rúz, we remember you in this luminous and sacred Spot and recall how from the beginning of the appearance of the Sun of Truth, you have, with love and certitude, and with inexhaustible constancy and steadfastness, shone like brilliant stars in the firmament of Iran, and how, in the face of oppression and injustice, you have acted with such sincerity and patience as to become a source of pride and glory for the company of the faithful and an example to all the peoples of the world. Even in the midst of the current health crisis—with the many challenges to livelihoods it has created and the social problems it has caused, entangling the world and its peoples in numerous trials and afflictions—and despite the fact that the persecution and discrimination directed towards your community did not relent in the course of this past year or give you a moment’s respite, you continued with your service, never ceased your endeavours for the good of humanity, and remained a flame of hope and a source of love and friendship for all. How fortunate you are to have added another golden page to the illustrious history of your community and to have won the good pleasure of God.
The Festival of Riḍván this year coincides with the end of the Five Year Plan and the conclusion of the twenty-five-year period during which the Bahá’í world was called upon to make a significant advance in the scope of its activities and human resources. In response to the call to that spiritual enterprise, the followers of Bahá’u’lláh arose in an unprecedented and determined manner such that, notwithstanding natural and inevitable ebbs and flows, their endeavours ultimately resulted in countless advances, effected a profound transformation, brought forth new capacities, and propelled the Bahá’í community to a new stage. To describe the nature of the victories and achievements of the community of the Greatest Name throughout the world in this historic period is beyond the scope of the present discussion, and we will attend to it at another time soon. The focus of our thoughts at this time, however, is the devoted undertakings of the community of the valiant followers of the Ancient Beauty in His sacred homeland who, during the course of this same period and inspired by the framework for action of the Bahá’í world, likewise brought about a significant transformation in their community and who, notwithstanding countless limitations and unfavourable conditions, once again fulfilled the requirements of fidelity. Despite myriad difficulties and problems, each one of which could reduce a mountain to a heap of dust, they raised aloft the banner of firmness and constancy and charged forth in the arena of servitude and built new capacities for service to the world of humanity. The spirit of learning born of action, reflection, and consultation became the axis of endeavours. Systematically and earnestly the younger generation was made the focus of special attention by the community. Children learned virtues and spirituality, and junior youth developed spiritual and moral attributes and eagerness for service. The youth, through the acquisition of a deep appreciation of their spiritual mission and a broad vision of the implications of the divine teachings for this new age, rushed to the fields of service and attained their rightful place in the vanguard of a vibrant and purposeful community. The unity and solidarity of all the members of the community was, through the pulsating force of the Covenant and Testament, increased, and cooperation and mutual support reached a high level. Through profound reflection on the Writings, attention to the guidance, and adherence to the foundational principle of consultation, perspectives became harmonized, the different endeavours of the community became coherent, and the various labours of the believers in the path of service yielded abundant fruit. The outward-looking culture of the community was strengthened to a considerable degree and led to a level of participation, greater than ever before, by the believers in the constructive discourses of their society. The valuable lessons acquired by those much-loved friends in the course of an entire century of determined endeavour in the path of building a dynamic community were with great sincerity shared selflessly with others. The experience gained as a result of efforts to apply Bahá’u’lláh’s teachings in this radiant age for the achievement of the equality of women and men, social justice, the eradication of extremes of wealth and poverty, unity among different ethnicities, the empowerment of younger generations, and the refinement of character was offered to interested individuals without making any claims to perfection or superiority. And the friends, to the extent possible, became involved in consulting and collaborating with their fellow citizens in order to address various social ills. In sum, this significant transformation is worthy of profound admiration and represents a firm and secure foundation for future efforts.
Praised be God that the certain confirmations of the Concourse on high were vouchsafed and developments that at one time could scarcely be imagined came to pass. The widespread and extensive support for the rights of the Bahá’ís of Iran provided by governments and international organizations on behalf of the peoples of the world—which in recent decades has been constantly expressed and which has now reached such a height that the officials of two governments have independently called for the recognition of the Faith in Iran—in the course of the same period, gradually and in different ways, also became apparent on the part of the noble people of that land and was increasingly evident day by day. The veils were removed from the eyes, and through the efforts of scholars and others, and by the aid of new modes of communication, correct and accurate information became more widely available than at any other time. And in the minds and thoughts of many enlightened and unprejudiced souls, the truth of this precious Cause replaced the baseless calumnies of the prejudiced. The community’s rectitude of conduct, long established, gained new recognition, your honesty and truthfulness astounded the world, and your complete innocence, pure intent, and lofty ideals were confirmed and proven in the eyes of countless souls. Such is the testimony of the Supreme Pen: “Absolute meekness yieldeth many a result and beareth many a fruit.” Appreciate, then, this bounty, and look to the future with the eyes of hope.
Dear friends, in our message to the Bahá’ís of the world on the Day of the Covenant we conveyed the glad tidings of the launching of a Nine Year Plan which will begin after the conclusion of the One Year Plan, and we referred to the importance of the year ahead. As you are aware, this year is distinguished by the commemoration of the centenary of the Ascension of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, the Orb of the Covenant, the perfect Exemplar of the people of Bahá. The spiritual inheritance bequeathed by that peerless and distinguished Being, Whose words transformed the hearts and Whose ways magnetized the souls, belongs, of course, to all humanity, yet it holds a special significance and implications for the people of Iran. Although ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in childhood departed for exile in the company of His distinguished Father, He was never forgetful of His sacred and much-loved homeland. Throughout His life, even in the course of His travels to the Western world, He was ever occupied with the thought and mention of His compatriots, that perchance, with the aid of the teachings of God for this new Day and through the promotion of those qualities that are worthy of this age, the essential relationships of society in that land might be transformed, justice and fairness be manifested, the power of the intellect shine forth, learning and education become the principal axis of all affairs and, through the fundamental transformation of morals, every kind of progress and advance be made possible and lead ultimately to the exaltation of Iran. Therefore, through exposition of the divine teachings and encouragement to apply the insights they contain in order to remedy the problems and deficiencies of society, He addressed the people of that country generally, and the Bahá’ís specifically, counselling, advising, and urging them to sacrifice themselves in service to that sacred land, and repeatedly and emphatically assuring everyone of the bright future of Iran.
In one of His blessed Tablets, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá states, “The future of Iran is of the utmost greatness, majesty, and glory, for it is the native land of the Blessed Beauty. All the nations of the earth will turn to and regard Iran with high esteem. Know of a certainty that it will make such progress as to dazzle the eyes of the mighty and the learned throughout the world.” And in another instance He writes, “‘This house of sorrows will become a rose-garden one day; grieve not!’ Exert the utmost effort and sincerity in service to Iran and its people, and sorrow no more.”
We greet every one of you on this blessed day and from the depths of our hearts ardently beseech, at the Threshold of Him Who is the Desire of the world, your health and well-being, your freedom and prosperity, and the descent of limitless confirmations upon you and all your compatriots.
[signed: The Universal House of Justice]
[AUTHORIZED TRANSLATION FROM PERSIAN]
To the sorely tested and steadfast friends of the Divine Beloved in the sacred land of Iran
Every awakened heart is saddened and filled with great pain and anguish at beholding the condition of the world and the ills that afflict its inhabitants. We feel it necessary, at this time and on the occasion of this blessed day, to share, besides the message we have today addressed to all the Bahá’ís of the world, the following words with you who are intimates of the Threshold of the All-Merciful.
In the course of the year now ending, in addition to bearing the numerous difficulties that the peoples of the world and your fellow citizens experienced, you, the wayfarers in the path of faith, whose principal purpose in life is to promote unity and concord and to ameliorate suffering in human society, were once again subject to discrimination, new machinations, and severe tests. “…From time immemorial even unto eternity”, writes Bahá’u’lláh in the Kitáb-i-Íqán, “the Almighty hath tried, and will continue to try, His servants, so that light may be distinguished from darkness, truth from falsehood, right from wrong, guidance from error, happiness from misery, and roses from thorns.” Praised be God that you, roses of the garden of the Ancient Beauty, His compatriots that have been reared by the hands of His bounty, in this year demonstrated yet again your true identity and character. And your adherence to the principles of truthfulness and honesty—foundations of all human virtues—aroused once more the admiration of all.
O friends of the Abhá Beauty! Although the horizon of the world appears dark, and uncertainty and chaos alarm and agitate its people, yet the arrival of the season of spring and of the inexhaustible bounties of God every new year is a reminder of the truth that the cold winds of winter, however severe, are ultimately stilled through the warmth of the vernal sun. The gloom of night is followed by the brightness of day, and autumn dust is washed away by the showers of spring. Therefore, through reliance on the boundless spiritual powers latent within you, strive to become the embodiment of reassurance and hope to family and friends, the essence of confidence to every heart, a healing balm to all who suffer, and a secure torch for the flame of the love of the true Friend. We express our sympathy and fellow feeling for all the people of the world and the noble people of Iran and assure you, our loved ones, of our sincere and heartfelt prayers in the Holy Shrines for removal of the difficulties. With these words of supplication from the pen of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, we beseech the Almighty for the health and well-being, tranquillity and freedom, of every soul: “Open Thou the portals of hope, and from the bounties of heaven bestow upon them a share. Turn this gloomy night into day, and cause the day of Naw-Rúz to become blessed.”
[signed: The Universal House of Justice]
[AUTHORIZED TRANSLATION FROM PERSIAN]
24 October 2019
To the followers of Bahá’u’lláh in the sacred land of Iran
The Bahá’í world is astir and the lovers of God are in a state of joy and excitement. As we draw nearer to the commemoration of the Twin Birthdays of the Manifestations of God, the signs of the unprecedented flourishing of that blessed tree which those two Sacred Beings planted in the world become daily more evident, and the people of the world benefit more and more from its limitless fruits. Hearts are being transformed, thoughts are being illumined, children are learning the lessons of unity and equality, adults are walking the path of service, morals are being refined, deeds are becoming purified, societies are progressing, material life is advancing under the influence of spiritual principles, souls are becoming a new creation, and the call of divine civilization resounds louder at every turn.
Although by now you will have read the message we recently addressed to all those throughout the world who have a share in the celebration of the bicentenary of the Birth of the Báb, we considered this an opportune moment to also address His compatriots and to remind you of the bounty that is yours, for that Sun of Truth dawned in the city of Shiraz, promising the world new illumination, and its morn first stirred up your land, preparing the world for the appearance of Bahá’u’lláh.
The light which the Manifestations of God in every age shed upon the material and spiritual life of humanity discloses truths, whose very conception is impossible before the appearance of those Manifestations. Those Teachers illumine the essential relationships on which the progress of the world and its inhabitants depends and create the instruments for the attainment of that progress. Their appearance makes manifest the treasures hidden in the world of being, and Their teachings bring with them the precious gift of a new stage of unity. They encourage humankind once again to acquire spiritual qualities and to attain human perfections, so that through the confirmations of God and its own endeavours, it can lay the foundations of its own felicity.
The appearance of the Exalted One was an invitation to knowledge and rationality, to generosity and compassion, to truthfulness and social justice. The concepts and ideas that He brought breathed a new spirit into the tired body of the world. He fulfilled the prophecies of old and gave new form to the practices of the past. He discarded superstition and nurtured reason. He began a new stage in the progress and transformation of the world of humanity and, in the first instance, invited His own compatriots to participate in the process of renewal. The gentleness of His Being and the heavenly power of His words instantly attracted those who associated with Him, and the truth of His utterances and the appeal of His teachings led, with miraculous speed, to the awakening and consciousness of the people. In a short while, His Cause spread throughout Iran and the fire of the love of God was kindled within diverse strata of that society. A great many souls from a variety of religious and ethnic backgrounds—men and women, young and old, rich and poor, merchants and traders, thinkers and writers, clerics and even royalty, in cities and in villages—joined the company of His followers and took to heart His call to build a society founded on justice and free from tyranny and oppression. The number of sincere leaders of religion and divines who accepted His Cause and embraced His truth is astounding, and included Vaḥíd, who was among the most learned men of the country and the confidant and representative of the King commissioned to investigate the truth about the new Revelation. According to the scholars and orientalists of the time, large multitudes among the people of Iran became the Báb’s followers and devotees and evinced matchless valour in their commitment to their newfound faith.
The tumult caused by the new Faith shook the pillars of the old order, aroused consternation and envy among the wielders of position and power, and led them to nurse the idle hope that by creating terror they would negate the Báb’s Word and extinguish His light, and so they mercilessly opposed Him. Influential fanatics, one and all, raised aloft the standard of denial and urged the authorities and the populace to commit acts of cruelty on an unprecedented scale. Truly, contemporary history has seldom witnessed the like of the bloodshed and pillage that, at the hands of the rulers or at their instigation, befell the Báb and His followers. Yet, such atrocities, which were often carried out in public, in the street and in the marketplace, so as to become object lessons for others, would time and again, as a result of the steadfastness of those innocent souls, become the cause of the awakening of a new wave of pure-hearted people. In a few instances, when surrounded by the forces of the malevolent and subjected to their ceaseless cruelty, those wronged ones defended themselves valiantly, but they ultimately fell victim to deception and were brutally massacred. The antagonists then endeavoured to obliterate the traces of the new Faith and tried systematically to eradicate from the hearts and minds of Iranians the memory of the astonishing influence of the Báb’s appearance. For a time they banned any mention of Him in the land of His birth, and when that approach proved ineffective, they loosed their tongues in curse and abuse, and began fabricating stories, falsifying history, and denying the truth. The friend they called an enemy, and they depicted events in distorted fashion. The sublime gift they called “the sedition of the Báb”, and they relegated the Exalted Beloved to the lowest depths of silent darkness, thus committing a great injustice against future generations. But they were heedless of the fact that countless Iranian families were in some way related to His movement, and numberless spots in that vast country were reddened by the blood of His persecuted followers. The traces of that spiritual renaissance will forever endure in that land, and its mystic effects will become evident at last.
One of the distinguishing characteristics of the Cause of the Báb was the prominent role of the youth who in an astonishing way entered its vanguard, who demonstrated a profound understanding of the implications of the new era, and who taught everyone the lessons of courage and valour. The Báb Himself was twenty-five when He declared His mission. Quddús was twenty-two when he became adorned with the mantle of faith; Ṭáhirih was in her twenties when she accepted the Cause of her Lord; and Anís was a young man of tender age when he became a believer. Recall the fearless Zaynab, who in the prime of youth became a legend, a heroine in both this world and the next. The names of the Iranian heroes of this new movement are today immortalized throughout the world, and the courage of those deathless souls is an example for all. The young standard-bearers of the community of the Greatest Name in every land serve humanity in memory of those courageous souls and make sacrificial efforts for the betterment of the world and the progress of society, endeavouring to acquire spiritual characteristics and engaging in the education of children and junior youth. In Iran too, despite countless hardships, the apple of our eyes are, with pure hearts free from resentment or enmity, valiantly arising in the discharge of their spiritual obligations, acquiring knowledge and the sciences and arts, earning a livelihood, establishing families, laying the foundations of future society upon the strong pillars of faith, and placing service to humanity at the centre of their lives.
Briefly, after the setting of that resplendent Daystar, His prophecies were eventually fulfilled and the dawn of a new Sun became visible. Bahá’u’lláh appeared and renewed the law of God. He gathered together that scattered and oppressed company and prepared for them—and for all of humanity—the means of everlasting glory. He taught them principles to elevate the government and uplift the people, He categorically forbade conflict and contention, and He raised a new creation throughout the world, drawn from every population and speaking in every tongue, that they might serve humanity with sincerity and love, strengthen the unity of the world, lay the foundations of fellowship, and through collaboration with others in their own society, propagate divine civilization.
Beloved friends: At this moment in time, when the followers of the Greatest Name throughout the world are welcoming friends, acquaintances, neighbours, co-workers, and like-minded souls to the celebration of the Twin Birthdays and are inviting them to consider the meaning of the marvellous anniversary of the Herald and Summoner of this illumined cycle, you must know of a truth that for the people of Iran, the significance and auspiciousness of this occasion is two hundredfold. Assure everyone that the time for the fulfilment of the unfailing promises of those Twin Lights shall come, the turmoil in the world will be eased, permanent peace and harmony among the peoples of the earth will appear, and the unity of humankind will be manifested.
[signed: The Universal House of Justice]
[AUTHORIZED TRANSLATION FROM PERSIAN]
To the followers of Bahá’u’lláh in Iran
Springtime is here once again and the cycle of nature has taken another turn. It is a new and wondrous season, whose essential qualities are the bright light of the sun and vernal showers and breezes, which enable the capacity latent in the earth to be released, the flowers to bloom, the birds to warble, the desert to become verdant, and a fresh spirit to be breathed into the contingent world. This physical spring is reminiscent of the Mystic Spring that arrived once more with the rising of the Sun of Truth above the horizon of the sacred land of Iran, shedding illumination upon east and west. The showers of mercy rained down, the heavenly breezes wafted, the hyacinths of inner meaning sprang forth, and the world of humanity was given life anew and freshness beyond measure. Although this spiritual Springtide is still in the early stages of its effulgence, yet the initial signs of the influence, transformative power, and unifying force of the divine civilization that has been renewed in this wondrous cycle can already be glimpsed throughout the world, especially in those places where the spiritual enterprise has advanced in degrees of progress.
The year ahead of us is most auspicious and blessed, for it coincides with the Bicentenary of the Birth of that distinguished Son of Iran, the Primal Point, the Most Exalted Countenance, the Herald and Harbinger of this spiritual Springtime. This occasion is a time of celebration for everyone throughout the world, but Iranians, who are honoured by being compatriots of the Twin Manifestations in this luminous age, have a special share in these festivities. We greet each and every one of you and the other noble citizens of Iran, wish you joy on the occasion of Naw-Rúz, and offer heartfelt prayers in the Holy Shrines for your increasing success in the path of service to your country and countrymen and for the opening of the gate of justice and equity in that land.
[signed: The Universal House of Justice]