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Montreal, November 26, 2022- A large number of the Bahá’ís and their friends from all over Montreal gathered at the Bahá’í Centre to celebrate the Day of the Covenant. This is the first time since the confinement from Covid that the friends gathered in such great number at the Centre.

The Day of the Covenant is the day when Baháʼís celebrate the appointment of ʻAbdu'l-Bahá as the Centre of Baha'u'llah's Covenant.  In accordance with Bahá’í calendar, it occurs yearly on the 4th day of Speech (Qawl) which coincides with either November 25 or 26 depending on when Naw Ruz (Bahá’í New Year) falls on that year. 

ʻAbdu'l-Bahá had stated that since May 23 was also the day that the Báb, the Herald of the Bahá’í Faith, declared his mission, and should be exclusively associated with him, that that day should under no circumstances be celebrated as his day of birth. However, as the Baháʼís begged for a day to be celebrated as ʻAbdu'l-Bahá's birthday, he gave them November 26, 181 days after the ascension of Baháʼu'lláh, to be observed as the day of the appointment of the Centre of the Covenant. The holiday was originally known as the Jashn-i-Aʻzam in Persian (The Greatest Festival), because ʻAbdu'l-Bahá was known as the Greatest Branch; in the West, the holy day became known as the Day of the Covenant.

On November 28, 2022, the commemoration of 'Abdu'l-Bahá's death was held by teleconference in the presence of several friends of the community. Here is the account of his death as told by Shoghi-Effendi, the Guardian of the Faith:

A month before His death (which occurred in the 78th year of His age, in the early hours of the 28th of November, 1921) He had referred expressly to it in some words of cheer and comfort that He addressed to a believer who was mourning the loss of his brother. And about two weeks before His passing He had spoken to His faithful gardener in a manner that clearly indicated He knew His end to be nigh. "I am so fatigued," He observed to him, "the hour is come when I must leave everything and take My flight. I am too weary to walk." He added: "It was during the closing days of the Blessed Beauty, when I was engaged in gathering together His papers which were strewn over the sofa in His writing chamber in Bahji, that He turned to Me and said: 'It is of no use to gather them, I must leave them and flee away.' I also have finished My work. I can do nothing more. Therefore must I leave it, and take My departure."

Till the very last day of His earthly life `Abdu'l-Bahá continued to shower that same love upon high and low alike, to extend that same assistance to the poor and the down-trodden, and to carry out those same duties in the service of His Father's Faith, as had been His wont from the days of His boyhood. On the Friday before His passing, despite great fatigue, He attended the noonday prayer at the mosque, and distributed afterwards alms, as was His custom, among the poor; dictated some Tablets -- the last ones He revealed -- ; blessed the marriage of a trusted servant, which He had insisted should take place that day; attended the usual meeting of the friends in His home; felt feverish the next day, and being unable to leave the house on the following Sunday, sent all the believers to the Tomb of The Báb to attend a feast which a Parsi pilgrim was offering on the occasion of the anniversary of the Declaration of the Covenant; received with His unfailing courtesy and kindness that same afternoon, and despite growing weariness, the Mufti of Haifa, the Mayor and the Head of the Police; and inquired that night -- the last of His life -- before He retired after the health of every member of His household, of the pilgrims and of the friends in Haifa.

 At 1:15 A.M. He arose, and, walking to a table in His room, drank some water, and returned to bed. Later on, He asked one of His two daughters who had remained awake to care for Him, to lift up the net curtains, complaining that He had difficulty in breathing. Some rose-water was brought to Him, of which He drank, after which He again lay down, and when offered food, distinctly remarked: "You wish Me to take some food, and I am going?" A minute later His spirit had winged its flight to its eternal abode, to be gathered, at long last, to the glory of His beloved Father, and taste the joy of everlasting reunion with Him.

The news of His passing, so sudden, so unexpected, spread like wildfire throughout the town, and was flashed instantly over the wires to distant parts of the globe, stunning with grief the community of the followers of Bahá'u'lláh in East and West. Messages from far and near, from high and low alike, through cablegrams and letters, poured in conveying to the members of a sorrow-stricken and disconsolate family expressions of praise, of devotion, of anguish and of sympathy. 

Reference: Shoghi-Effendi, God Passes By

Photos: Archives BWC – Room in his home in Haifa where ‘Abdu’l-Bahá passed away.

  • Funeral of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in Haïfa, Israël.
  • Image of the opening pages of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá's Will and Testament.

 

Montreal, October 26, 2022 - Bahá'ís around the world and believers in the various neighbourhoods of Montreal are celebrating these two joyous events on October 25 and 26 this year. These two celebrations are intimately linked because the life and message of the Báb centred on the imminent appearance of another divine messenger: Bahá'u'lláh.

Each year, the anniversaries of the birth of the Báb and that of Bahá'u'lláh are observed as twin holy days, since they followed each other within a day, according to the calendar in use in Persia at that time.

The life and teachings of the Báb mark a turning point in human history. Born Siyyid Ali-Muhammad in 1819, he took the name Báb, which means "the Gate" in Arabic. His public mission, from 1844 to 1850, represented a spiritual revolution that overturned the prevailing social, political, and religious order in Persia, opening the door to the new unifying vision of Bahá'u'lláh.

The Báb was a messenger of God in the succession of divine teachers who have come down through the centuries, including Abraham, Krishna, Zoroaster, Moses, Buddha, Jesus and Muhammad. The Báb appeared at a time in history when the cultures and peoples of the world were coming together as never before. The nineteenth century witnessed a series of changes in the economic, political, scientific, and cultural spheres so profound that one prominent historian has called it the century of "world transformation."

When he was only 25 years old, the Báb heralded the end of one religious era and the beginning of another. He inaugurated an independent religion with its own laws and sacred texts, including the Persian Bayán. In a short time, he attracted thousands of followers among the Persians. His public mission, which lasted only six short years, had far-reaching consequences.

On such occasions, it is customary to take a retrospective look at Bahá’u’lláh's life and work. The highlights of this retrospective focus on the major moments in Bahá’u’lláh's life - his birth on November 12, 1817 in Tehran, his life as a young prince before he took over the leadership of the Bábi movement, and the four-decade-long road of exile, imprisonment, and persecution, during which he revealed himself to his followers as the promised one foretold by the scriptures.

Bahá’u’lláh was born in Tehran on November 12, 1817, into a wealthy and distinguished family, a descendant of the Sassanid dynasty (a Persian dynasty, originally from Fars, which at the time constituted a vast empire stretching from Persia to Mesopotamia).

Although he did not attend any school, he showed astonishing wisdom and knowledge from his childhood. At the age of 13 he was clarifying religious questions that were totally obscure to the theologians of his time.

When he was 22, his father died. He was offered the high position at court that was customary in those days. He refused this honour and devoted himself to the poor and needy of society.

The Prime Minister of the time said that he could not understand him, but that he was destined for some high mission.

In 1844, at the age of 27, Bahá’u’lláh boldly embraced the new faith proclaimed by the Báb. It is noteworthy that these two great educators, though living at the same time, never met.

After imprisonment and banishment, Bahá’u’lláh openly announced his prophetic mission in 1863 in Baghdad. During his exile, Bahá’u’lláh wrote, dictating day and night, writings, tablets and prayers, keeping several secretaries busy transcribing everything.

Bahá’u’lláh ended his life in the Holy Land having bequeathed to humanity a new spiritual revelation. His life, work, and influence are comparable to those of the great messengers of God, such as Abraham, Krishna, Moses, Buddha, Christ, and Muhammad. For Bahá'ís, Bahá’u’lláh is the last of the messengers of God in this succession.

Photos: Bahá'í World Centre Archives, the Báb's Birthplace in Shiraz (top) and Bahá'u'lláh's Birthplace in Tehran.

Montreal, May 29, 2022 – The World Bahá’í Community as well as several Bahá’í Communities on Montreal Island commemorated the Ascension of Bahá’u’lláh, the Prophet founder of the Bahá’í Faith which occurred on this day in 1892.

The commemoration of His passing is called the Ascension of Bahá’u’lláh, and Bahá’ís throughout the world pay their respects with prayers and selected Bahá’í Writings. It is also one of nine days in the Bahá’í calendar year where work should be suspended.

For almost 40 years Bahá’u’lláh suffered imprisonment and banishment, originally from His birthplace in Persia (present-day Iran), to Baghdad, and then to the Ottoman cities of Constantinople, Adrianople, and then finally to the infamous prison city of Akka (in present-day Israel), where He was held in a cold and damp cell for almost two years.

During the last years of His life, Bahá’u’lláh was held under house arrest in the Mansion of Bahji, outside Akka.

The Shrine of Bahá’u’lláh is located within the precincts of the Mansion of Bahji, and is considered to be the most sacred and holiest spot on earth for Bahá’ís.

One of the most befitting descriptions relating to the Ascension of Bahá’u’lláh was written by Shoghi Effendi in God Passes By:

Already nine months before His ascension Bahá’u’lláh, as attested by Abdu’l-Baha, had voiced His desire to depart from this world. From that time onward it became increasingly evident, from the tone of His remarks to those who attained His presence, that the close of His earthly life was approaching, though He refrained from mentioning it openly to any one. On the night preceding the eleventh of Shavval 1309 A.H. (May 8, 1892) He contracted a slight fever which, though it mounted the following day, soon after subsided. He continued to grant interviews to certain of the friends and pilgrims, but it soon became evident that He was not well. His fever returned in a more acute form than before, His general condition grew steadily worse, complications ensued which at last culminated in His ascension, at the hour of dawn, on the 2nd of Dhi’l-Qadih 1309 A.H. (May 29, 1892), eight hours after sunset, in the 75th year of His age. His spirit, at long last released from the toils of a life crowded with tribulations, had winged its flight to His “  other dominions,”   dominions “  whereon the eyes of the people of names have never fallen,”   and to which the “  Luminous Maid,”   “  clad in white,”   had bidden Him hasten, as described by Himself in the Lawḥ-i-Ru’ya (Tablet of the Vision), revealed nineteen years previously, on the anniversary of the birth of His Forerunner.

Six days before He passed away He summoned to His presence, as He lay in bed leaning against one of His sons, the entire company of believers, including several pilgrims, who had assembled in the Mansion, for what proved to be their last audience with Him. “  I am well pleased with you all,”   He gently and affectionately addressed the weeping crowd that gathered about Him. “  Ye have rendered many services, and been very assiduous in your labors. Ye have come here every morning and every evening. May God assist you to remain united. May He aid you to exalt the Cause of the Lord of being.”   To the women, including members of His own family, gathered at His bedside, He addressed similar words of encouragement, definitely assuring them that in a document entrusted by Him to the Most Great Branch He had commended them all to His care.

The news of His ascension was instantly communicated to Sulṭan Abdu’l-Ḥamid in a telegram which began with the words “  the Sun of Baha has set”   and in which the monarch was advised of the intention of interring the sacred remains within the precincts of the Mansion, an arrangement to which he readily assented. Bahá’u’lláh was accordingly laid to rest in the northernmost room of the house which served as a dwelling-place for His son-in-law, the most northerly of the three houses lying to the west of, and adjacent to, the Mansion. His interment took place shortly after sunset, on the very day of His ascension.

The inconsolable Nabil, who had had the privilege of a private audience with Bahá’u’lláh during the days of His illness; whom ‘Abdu’l-Bahá had chosen to select those passages which constitute the text of the Tablet of Visitation now recited in the Most Holy Tomb; and who, in his uncontrollable grief, drowned himself in the sea shortly after the passing of his Beloved, thus describes the agony of those days: “  Methinks, the spiritual commotion set up in the world of dust had caused all the worlds of God to tremble…. My inner and outer tongue are powerless to portray the condition we were in…. In the midst of the prevailing confusion a multitude of the inhabitants of Akka and of the neighboring villages, that had thronged the fields surrounding the Mansion, could be seen weeping, beating upon their heads, and crying aloud their grief.”   

For a full week a vast number of mourners, rich and poor alike, tarried to grieve with the bereaved family, partaking day and night of the food that was lavishly dispensed by its members. Notables, among whom were numbered Shí’ahs, Sunnis, Christians, Jews and Druzes, as well as poets, ‘ulamas and government officials, all joined 223 in lamenting the loss, and in magnifying the virtues and greatness of Bahá’u’lláh, many of them paying to Him their written tributes, in verse and in prose, in both Arabic and Turkish. From cities as far afield as Damascus, Aleppo, Beirut and Cairo similar tributes were received. These glowing testimonials were, without exception, submitted to ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Who now represented the Cause of the departed Leader, and Whose praises were often mingled in these eulogies with the homage paid to His Father.

Montreal, September 21, 2022 - An inspiring and promising ceremony was held at the stroke of noon in Beaudet Park, also known as "Peace Park" to mark the International Day of Peace. Bringing together key players from the borough, including members of Council, the Acting Mayor, the MNA for Saint-Laurent, representatives of some 15 community organizations, as well as some 60 young people of all ages, this celebration was organized in partnership with the borough of Saint-Laurent, the Intercultural Committee of the Saint-Laurent Social Agencies Committee, and the Bahá'í Community of Montreal.

Saint-Laurent is known for the peaceful cohabitation of its many cultural communities, and this was an excellent opportunity to celebrate the peace and social harmony that has prevailed there for many years. 

One after the other, Laurentian personalities took the stage to give their testimony and their vision of a world free of racism and racial discrimination. Young people also took an active part in this ceremony. Forty students from the École internationale des Appendants and fifteen from the Centre Communautaire Bon Courage Place Benoît delivered their very touching message on racism and peace through poems, slams, drawings and crafts and ended with a fashion show! A duet of a piano student from Cégep de Saint-Laurent accompanied by the violin of a high caliber musician, Jacques Proulx, accompanied the participants throughout the ceremony.

Since 2021, we have chosen to propose a perennial and mobilizing theme that encourages people to think and act," says the Saint-Laurent borough communications officer. If we want to "Act for Equality", we must first name and recognize the issues, problems and constraints that exacerbate inequalities, and then propose and implement concrete initiatives.

In her address, the representative of the Montreal Bahá'í Community, Gigi Vidal, mentioned that the United Nations is proposing that in 2022 we put an end to racism and build a lasting peace. To achieve this, "we need to create a world in which people are treated equally, regardless of their race.... We all have a role to play in promoting peace.  And fighting racism is a significant way to do that." 

She emphasized, "We will continue to raise the banner of Unity in Diversity." "World peace is not only possible, it is inevitable." Furthermore, she made an appeal to young people: "You are our ambassadors and builders of peace! Together we can change the world!"

To conclude, the participants gathered for a minute of silence to think about the victims of war and injustice in the world.

It was a very touching and memorable ceremony.

Montreal, May 23, 2022 – On this day, all over Montreal clusters as well as over one hundred thousand localities throughout the world, various Bahá’í Communities celebrate the Declaration of the Mission of the Báb, the Herald of this universal Faith.

‘Abdu’l-Bahá, the son of the Founder of the Bahá’í Faith who visited Montreal in 1912 and was the guest of the well-known architect William Sutherland Maxwell, was born in this very night. The following is a narrative from what ‘Abdu’l-Bahá says about the Báb:

 As for the Báb*—may my soul be His sacrifice! — it was at a young age, that is, in the twenty-fifth year of His blessed life, that He arose to proclaim His Cause. Among the Shí‘ihs it is universally acknowledged that He never studied in any school, nor acquired learning from any teacher. To this the people of Shíráz, each and all, bear witness. Nevertheless, He suddenly appeared before the people, endowed with consummate knowledge, and though but a merchant, confounded all the divines of Persia. Alone, He undertook a task that can scarcely be conceived, for the Persians are known throughout the world for their religious fanaticism. This illustrious Being arose with such power as to shake the foundations of the religious laws, customs, manners, morals, and habits of Persia, and instituted a new law, faith, and religion. Though the eminent men of the State, the majority of the people, and the leaders of religion arose one and all to destroy and annihilate Him, He single-handedly withstood them and set all of Persia in motion. How numerous the divines, the leaders, and the inhabitants of that land who with perfect joy and gladness offered up their lives in His path and hastened to the field of martyrdom!

The government, the nation, the clergy, and prominent leaders sought to extinguish His light, but to no avail. At last His moon rose, His star shone forth, His foundation was secured, and His horizon was flooded with light. He trained a large multitude through divine education and exerted a marvellous influence upon the thoughts, customs, morals, and manners of the Persians. He proclaimed the glad-tidings of the manifestation of the Sun of Bahá to all His followers and readied them for faith and certitude.

The manifestation of such marvellous signs and mighty undertakings, the influence exerted upon the thoughts and minds of the people, the laying of the foundations of progress, and the establishment of the prerequisites of success and prosperity by a young merchant constitute the greatest proof that He was a universal Educator—a fact that no fair-minded person would ever hesitate to acknowledge.

 

*‘Abdu’l-Bahá refers to the Báb by His title Hadrat-i-A‘lá—His Holiness the Exalted One—but He will be designated here by the name under which He is known in the West.

Photo: Golgasht Mossafai - The pulpit from which the Báb proclaimed His mission publicly at the Vakil Mosque in Shiráz.

Montreal, September 10, 2022 - St. James Methodist Church was the venue par excellence for a grandiose concert in honour of 'Abdu'l-Bahá who had stayed in our city 110 years ago!

An audience of several hundred from Montreal and all over Quebec, dignitaries such as the Mayor of Saint-Lambert Mrs. Pascale Mongrain, Tom et Catherine Mulcair, representatives of several inter-religious organizations, men, women, children and youth, gathered at this church, to pay homage to the unique example of service to humanity, the one who chose the name of "Servant of Glory", 'Abdu'l-Bahá!

The presentation of the choir, the small orchestra which accompanied it, are worthy of praise! the monologues of the actor’s reciting texts pronounced by 'Abdu'l-Bahá in this very church, transported us in the world of 1912 when in Montreal, there were only two lines of tramway, North-South and East-West! There were few cars, but more horse-drawn carriages! And an electric board in front of the church announcing that the "Prophet of the East" would deliver an address on the principles of the Bahá'í Faith and "the salvation of humanity. This title troubled 'Abdu'l-Bahá, and he expressed concern at the habit of people calling him a "prophet. In his speech, he corrected this error, pointing out that he was not a prophet, but simply 'Abdu'l-Bahá, which loosely translates as "Servant of Glory.

The pastor of Saint James, the Reverend Alain John Bonner, gave a very moving address saying that since 'Abdu'l-Bahá's time in this church, Methodists have been following his advice regarding service to humanity! As far back as 1912, this church was forward-thinking in admitting people of colour into its congregation! In fact, on the night that 'Abdu'l-Bahá gave his speech in this church, a large part of the audience was composed of people of colour!

On the same platform where 'Abdu'l-Bahá gave His speech on September 5, 1912, there were 40 choir members of multiple ethnic backgrounds, the actors who recited the monologues from His speech, and an orchestra of string quartet, flute, and piano that accompanied the choir.

The words of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, wonderfully composed by Lucie Dubé in ten songs, transported the audience to a world of peace and joy where no injurious thoughts can exist! A world where finally the human being will be able to have an experience of harmony in diversity like a garden filled with flowers of all beauty!

'Abdu'l-Bahá's last moving words to the people of Canada came in his closing address, in which he expressed his gratitude and admiration for the justice and friendship enjoyed by the North American peoples. He expressed the wish that the governments of America would play a leading role in the establishment of a world court that would bring all nations together and would prove to be a very important day for the establishment of universal and permanent peace throughout the world. His words were:

"Praise be to God! I see that these two great nations are highly competent and very advanced in all matters of progress and civilisation. These governments are just and equitable. The motives and goals of these people are noble and inspiring."

Photos: Saint James Church and the group of friends from across Quebec.

Montreal, 24 March 2022 - The 23rd edition of Action Week Against Racism and for Equal Opportunities (AWARE 2022), which is celebrated by the United Nations every year on 21 March, has as its theme this year "Welcoming Refugees and Migrants in Quebec". As part of these activities, the Bahá'í Community of Saint-Laurent organized a round table on racism and racial prejudice in the form of a common meeting to reflect and exchange on possible solutions to eliminate the causes of racial prejudice. This virtual meeting took place in the presence of about forty people coming from all walks of Laurentian society and elsewhere in Montreal. The two guest speakers were Ms. Éliane Gabbay and Ms. Carmelle Rukiza.

Mr. DeSousa, Mayor of St. Laurent, Vana Nazarian, City Councillor and member of the Côte-de-Lièsse District Borough Council were among the dignitaries present at the meeting.

Two musical performances were included in the program: the video of “O Peoples of the World!” composed by Lucie Dubé and her choir which brought together 40 choral voices on the Unity of Humanity - text extracted from the Bahá'í writings and at the end, the presentation of another extract from the Bahá'í writings on Racial Harmony read by Janie and accompanied by guitar by her sister Oréanne Cardinal-Fernandez.

The mayor of Saint-Laurent, as usual, began the meeting with his inspiring and encouraging words for those who work in the path of unity of humanity, especially racial harmony. He gave the example of the St. Laurent neighborhood, a highly multicultural and multiracial community representing 53.5% of visible minorities, different ethnicities and languages that have been living in harmony on the territory for a long time.

Despite the current conflicts in the world, says the mayor, we must never be discouraged because ultimately we have no choice but to learn to live in peace! We think a lot about the people who are suffering now because of the situation in Ukraine, continued Mr. de Sousa, and we hope that, after tonight's discussion, we can come to a conclusion and think about ways to eliminate the conflicts! 

Our first speaker, Ms. Eliane Gabbay, was a partnership advisor at the Ministère de l'Immigration et des Communautés Culturelles, now known as MIFI (Ministère de l'Immigration, de la Francisation et de l'Intégration) and sat on the Board of Directors of CARI Saint-Laurent for many years.  She is currently a project manager at the Centre d'appui aux communautés immigrantes de Bordeaux Cartierville (CACI).

She has done a detailed analysis of the causes of unconscious prejudice, integration of immigrants, the role of the media in reinforcing prejudice, the role of parents and educational institutions and finally the role that history has played in justifying this action. From the age of three, Ms. Gabbay said, children begin to have prejudices because of the influence of family and surroundings. 

She also mentioned the importance of the role of the family and the education given to children. It is desirable that parents promote the integration of races and colours in the life and education of children. Having friendly relationships with other cultural communities and encouraging frank conversations to build bridges and collaboration between people are essential.

In her speech, Ms. Gabbay was asked to answer the following questions:

a.         Unconscious racial prejudice and the ways in which the causes of racial prejudice can be eliminated.

b.         The role of society, especially the family and the environment in the fight against racism and prejudice in order to build a dynamic, just and inclusive community.

Carmelle Rukiza, our second speaker who considers herself a global citizen and believes in the unity of humanity, spoke on "How can individuals and institutions work together to strengthen racial equity in our communities?"

Inspired by the Bahá'í teachings, she shared the belief that young people can make meaningful contributions to the betterment of the world.  Living in Paris, she is the facilitator of a spiritual empowerment program for pre-teens aged 11 to 15 that aims to strengthen the development of intellectual and moral skills, develop their talents and qualities to plan and carry out a wide variety of service projects in their community (e.g. visiting the elderly, tending a community garden, etc.) This group of young people has given themselves the name: "The Happy Helpers"!

During the questions and comments period with Ms. Gabbay and the participants many themes on prejudice were discussed. Mr. Mayor commented that one of the reasons for prejudice is lack of knowledge of others. Being anchored in one's homogeneous environment and isolating oneself from others gives us certain prejudices. To solve this challenge, in Saint-Laurent, public spaces have been created to promote multicultural and multiethnic get together. These spaces give musicians and artisans of all trades, including the culinary arts, the opportunity to share their talents with others and to break down some of the barriers that cause prejudice.

The presentations of the two speakers were very enriching. They gave us the opportunity to reflect together on racism, discrimination and racial prejudice which is one of the afflictions of our society! These ideas on how to move our community towards a vision of racial unity to build together a more just, equitable and inclusive world, so that we can live better together, encourage us to be proud of our Unity in Diversity!

 

Montreal, July 10, 2022 – In Montreal as well as all over the world, the Bahá’ís commemorated a tragic event, unprecedented in the religious history of humankind! The execution of a Messenger of God by firing squad, the first such execution in Iran!

On the evening of the very day of The Báb's execution, which fell on the ninth of July 1850, during the thirty-first year of His age and the seventh of His ministry, the mangled bodies (of the Báb and His companion, Anis) were transferred from the courtyard of the barracks to the edge of the moat outside the gate of the city.

Before the trogic execution of the Báb two highly significant incidents occurred, incidents that cast an illuminating light on the mysterious circumstances surrounding the opening phase of His martyrdom. The farrash-bashi had abruptly interrupted the last conversation which The Báb was confidentially having in one of the rooms of the barracks with His amanuensis Siyyid Husayn, and was drawing the latter aside, and severely rebuking him, when he was thus addressed by his Prisoner: "Not until I have said to him all those things that I wish to say can any earthly power silence Me. Though all the world be armed against Me, yet shall it be powerless to deter Me from fulfilling, to the last word, My intention." To the Christian Sam Khan -- the colonel of the Armenian regiment ordered to carry out the execution -- who, seized with fear lest his act should provoke the wrath of God, had begged to be released from the duty imposed upon him, The Báb gave the following assurance: "Follow your instructions, and if your intention be sincere, the Almighty is surely able to relieve you of your perplexity."

Sam Khan accordingly set out to discharge his duty. A spike was driven into a pillar which separated two rooms of the barracks facing the square. Two ropes were fastened to it from which The Báb and one of his disciples, the youthful and devout Mirza Muhammad-'Ali-i-Zunuzi, surnamed Anis, who had previously flung himself at the feet of his Master and implored that under no circumstances he be sent away from Him, were separately suspended. The firing squad ranged itself in three files, each of two hundred and fifty men. Each file in turn opened fire until the whole detachment had discharged its bullets. So dense was the smoke from the seven hundred and fifty rifles that the sky was darkened. As soon as the smoke had cleared away the astounded multitude of about ten thousand souls, who had crowded onto the roof of the barracks, as well as the tops of the adjoining houses, beheld a scene which their eyes could scarcely believe.

The Báb had vanished from their sight! Only his companion remained, alive and unscathed, standing beside the wall on which they had been suspended. The ropes by which they had been hung alone were severed. "The Siyyid-i-Báb has gone from our sight!" cried out the bewildered spectators. A frenzied search immediately ensued. He was found, unhurt and unruffled, in the very room He had occupied the night before, engaged in completing His interrupted conversation with His amanuensis. "I have finished My conversation with Siyyid Husayn" were the words with which the Prisoner, so providentially preserved, greeted the appearance of the farrash-bashi, "Now you may proceed to fulfill your intention." Recalling the bold assertion his Prisoner had previously made, and shaken by so stunning a revelation, the farrash-bashi quitted instantly the scene, and resigned his post.

Sam Khan, likewise, remembering, with feelings of awe and wonder, the reassuring words addressed to him by The Báb, ordered his men to leave the barracks immediately, and swore, as he left the courtyard, never again, even at the cost of his life, to repeat that act. Aqa Jan-i-Khamsih, colonel of the body-guard, volunteered to replace him. On the same wall and in the same manner The Báb and His companion were again suspended, while the new regiment formed in line and opened fire upon them. This time, however, their breasts were riddled with bullets, and their bodies completely dissected, with the exception of their faces which were but little marred. "O wayward generation!" were the last words of The Báb to the gazing multitude, as the regiment prepared to fire its volley, "Had you believed in Me every one of you would have followed the example of this youth, who stood in rank above most of you, and would have willingly sacrificed himself in My path. The day will come when you will have recognized Me; that day I shall have ceased to be with you."

Nor was this all. The very moment the shots were fired a gale of exceptional violence arose and swept over the city. From noon till night a whirlwind of dust obscured the light of the sun, and blinded the eyes of the people. In Shiraz* an "earthquake," foreshadowed in no less weighty a Book than the Revelation of St. John, occurred in 1268 A.H. which threw the whole city into turmoil and wrought havoc amongst its people, a havoc that was greatly aggravated by the outbreak of cholera, by famine and other afflictions. In that same year no less than two hundred and fifty of the firing squad, that had replaced Sam Khan's regiment, met their death, together with their officers, in a terrible earthquake, while the remaining five hundred suffered, three years later, as a punishment for their mutiny, the same fate as that which their hands had inflicted upon The Báb. To insure that none of them had survived, they were riddled with a second volley, after which their bodies, pierced with spears and lances, were exposed to the gaze of the people of Tabriz. The prime instigator of The Báb's death, the implacable Amir-Nizam, together with his brother, his chief accomplice, met their death within two years of that savage act.


*Báb's birthplace in Iran

Source: Shoghi Effendi, GOD PASSES BY

Photo Bahá'į World Center Archives: Sàm Khàn, - Colonel of the Armenian regiment in charge of the execution of the Báb.

Montreal, March 21, 2022 - "The world is in travail, its agitation increasing day by day," wrote Bahá'u'lláh in one of His tablets! Despite all, Bahá'ís around the world celebrated the spring equinox, the Feast of Naw-Rúz, in their respective communities. In Montreal, friends had small celebrations by teleconference except at the Youth Center in Côte-de-Neige where there was a celebration with many young people accompanied by friends and some parents!

"Naw-Rúz" is the holiday celebrated by Bahá'ís around the world on the first day of Spring, the beginning of the Bahá'í calendar and year, on March 21!

What could be more logical and natural, indeed, than to begin the year on that day? So His Holiness the Báb, who instituted the new calendar of the Bahá'í Era, chose this date (March 21) as the day of the New Year, a choice later ratified by Bahá'u'lláh. As in Iran this day was already a festival and carried the name of "Naw-Rúz", it was kept for our Festival of the Bahá'í New Year.

But what did it represent in ancient Persia, since this festival probably dates back at least three millennia?

"Naw-Rúz" means in Persian, word for word: New Day. In Iranian mythology it is said that the Supreme God created the Universe in six days: successively the Sky, the Earth, the water, the plants, the animals and, on the sixth day, Man... The day of each of these creations was celebrated with a festival: the day of the appearance of Man was called "Naw-Rúz".

Until the year 538 BC, "Naw-Rúz" was only the Festival of the Creation (of Man). From this date, the Iranians will make coincide the day of the New Year (celebrated until then at the beginning of the autumn) with this festival celebrated on the first day of Spring.

This change of date was made under the reign of the Persian Emperor Cyrus the Great who freed the Children of Israel from the yoke of the Babylonians and was charged by God to rebuild the Temple of Jerusalem. Cyrus (of Mazdean or Zoroastrian religion) has an important rank since not only is he known as the first "promulgator" of a charter of Human Rights ensuring in particular religious freedom, but especially because he is called in the BIBLE: "the shepherd, the anointed of the Lord"!

For more than 2,500 years, the peoples of this region (including - apart from those of Iran - some inhabitants of Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, India, Pakistan, Caucasus, Turkey and Iraq) have joyfully celebrated this festival of "Naw-Rúz".

Independent and different from any other calendar, it would be one of the few to start on first day of Spring. In addition, on New Year's Day, this event is celebrated for 12 days, plus a 13th day during which one must leave the house for a joyful communion with Nature.

Despite the invasion of this region by Alexander of Macedonia, the armies of Islam, the hordes of Genghis Khan and Tamerlane, and despite the vicissitudes of time, this festival has persisted and, being a common feature, has even served, in a way, to culturally unite the peoples of the Iranian Plateau...

In sum, in Iranian mythology, tradition and culture, "Naw-Rúz" is considered the Festival of the Creator, of the appearance of Man, the Festival of Nature, Fertility, Hope and Peace. It is also the Feast of the Family, of Respect for the head of the family and the elderly, of Friendship, Generosity, Joy and Children...

We can see that the name "Naw-Rúz" is worthy of a Bahá’í New Year!

Here is what the sixth Imam of the Shi'a says about this festival:

"Naw-Rúz is the Day when God made a Covenant with the souls of His servants to acknowledge Him as the One and to follow His Envoys and His proofs. It is the Day when the Sun lit up the world, the breeze rose to fertilize the plants and the earth became green. It is the Day when Noah's Ark finally touched the earth, when the Angel Gabriel brought the Revelation to His Holiness the Prophet, the Day when the latter broke the idols, (...) the Day when the Qá'im (the Promised One) of Muhammad's lineage, that is, His Holiness the Possessor of Creation, will reveal Himself!

N.B. the group photo was taken before the health restrictions!

Montreal, June 19, 2012 – Some 357 participants as well as 89 friends via videoconference, from multiple background and nationality attended a weekend long conference, the third in Montreal area, in large auditorium of Dawson College. They came from all over the city including Montgérégie-Ouest area - Bahá’ís with their friends, neighbours and work colleagues, in order to be an active partner in “Bahá’u’lláh’s Vision for Humanity”.

Visionaries such as Alan DeSousa; who is a City Councillor from Montreal and the Borough Mayor of Saint-Laurent as well as currently vice-chairman in charge of Sustainable Development, the Environment, Parks and green spaces, took an active part in the workshops and plenary sessions of the conference.

Called by the Universal House of Justice, these conferences will give the participants an opportunity to gain greater insight into the nature of the spiritual enterprise in which they are engaged, a sense of the distance traversed thus far, and a deeper understanding of the exigencies of the current stage in the unfoldment of the Divine Plan. They will strive to enhance appreciation of the privilege of being part of a community that has set its gaze upon the spiritual and material transformation of society, and of the bounty of being connected by bonds of love and camaraderie with brothers and sisters in a global effort, each one labouring within the same framework for action, all united under the sheltering shadow of the Covenant.

The first of three Conferences being organized in our cluster of Greater Montreal, especially prepared for Chinese friends, was of great significance. There were 136 participants, the vast majority from the community at large.

It was held at the Sarto-Desnoyers Community Centre in Dorval on May 14th—entirely in Mandarin!

As far as we know, writes Montreal Assembly in a letter addressed to the Community, it’s the first time in Canada that a Bahá’í gathering has taken place in one of the languages of China without translation. Added to the plenary and small group discussions, a lively children’s program made it possible for many families to attend.

Feedback was very good and plans have been made for a variety of activities over the course of the summer with families, youth and junior youth to build on friendships and conversations began at the Conference.

On May 21-22, the Conference for three neighbourhoods of Côte-des-Neiges, Notre-Dame-de-Grâce and Parc Extension began at Collège Bréboeuf with 250 participants, only 50 of which were Bahá’ís and the rest from the wider community. Whole families came, along with 90 Junior Youths. Its plenary and small group discussions were equally accompanied by a well-planned children's and junior youth program.

The Montreal Conference, included friends from Montgérégie-Ouest and all over the island, was held at Dawson College. The program included some 20 workshops with specific themes such as Building Vibrant Communities, Contributing to Social Transformation and Educational Endeavours and Training Institute, were a part of consultation. The youths and children also had their own workshops and themes to work on! They used art as medium par excellence to express their views on How to Make a Better World!

Of the thousand conferences being held worldwide during the next few months, over 80 conferences are being held in Canada. The conferences’ themes are based on Inspiring individuals and communities to release the potential that lies within.

 

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