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Montreal, October 6, 2018 – Family and friends gathered at the Montreal Bahá’í Centre to celebrate the life of a devoted human being who passed away on September 7, 2018 in Tehran. Dr. Esmail Ghadirian was one of the founders of the Bahá’í Institute of Higher Education (BIHE), a scientist, a teacher with a lifelong service to humanity.

Esmail Ghadirian was born in 1927 in a Bahá’í family of seven children, in Sangsar, Semnan province of northern Iran. Devastating for his mother, his first twin brothers passed away in their infancy because of smallpox. Esmail had also three younger brothers (Abdu’l-Missagh, Parviz and Esfandiar) and an older sister, Ziba Khánum.  Their mother who was a teacher herself, made sure that the children received a thorough education. At a time when learning institutions were rare in Iran, this remarkable lady founded her own school for girls, both for Bahá’ís and Muslims.  All four brothers completed their doctorate degrees and all were (and still are) devoted, active believers.

Dr. Esmail Ghadirian studied first at Tehran University where he was awarded a Ph.D. in Veterinary Medicine in 1954.  Nine years later he received a Master’s degree in Microbiology and Immunology from “Institut Pasteur” and later a Ph.D. from the Faculty of Science at the Sorbonne, in France, in 1968.  Dr. Ghadirian taught at Tehran University, became a Professor Emeritus and engaged in research, specializing in Malariology. His area of research was not only in the southern part of Iran but also in the Balkans and the territories of the former Yugoslavia, Macedonia, Greece and France.  He was admitted as an expert collaborator into the World Health Organization (WHO) for the eradication of malaria, a global scourge.  He spent many years among Persian tribal populations in remote rural areas caring for the poor who were afflicted by malaria.

Dr. Ghadirian and his family lived in Montreal during 1974 to 1976.  He was involved in scientific research in the Department of Microbiology and Parasitology of the Faculty of Medicine at McGill University. During this period, his wife Fereshteh earned also a Master’s Degree in Microbiology. Their return to Iran coincided with the Islamic Revolution and consequently Dr. Ghadirian was dismissed from his employment at Tehran University due to his religious belief in the Bahá’í Faith.  Like other Bahá’í professors, he refused to deny his belief in his belief.  He was arrested and sent to Evin prison where he was blindfolded, interrogated, insulted and humiliated in an attempt to crush his determination to remain a Bahá’í.  Finally, he was released from prison in condition that he pays back his 27 years of salary for his teaching and research work at the university.  Despite all cruelty he endured, Dr. Ghadirian remained in Iran. Finally, in 1985 both he and his wife, were offered jobs working in an advanced laboratory which belonged to one of his former Muslim students. He stayed in this employment until his retirement in 2011.

During that difficult time for the Bahá’ís in Iran and prior to the formal establishment of BIHE, Dr. Ghadirian served on a five-member Board of Trustees accredited by Indiana University.  The Board started a Distance Learning Department in collaboration with that university to enable Bahá’í students who had been deprived of university education in Iran to continue their training in their field of studies.  After BIHE was founded in 1987, Dr. Ghadirian served as a member of the Medical Sciences Board in that institution. In later years, he served on the Governing Board, taught various courses in Microbiology and Immunology for almost three decades.  He and Fereshteh held many of these courses in their living room in Tehran in order to provide students with a superior quality education for the advancement of their careers. 

Many of Dr. Ghadirian’s former students are now working in the field of Microbiology or related fields in Iran or abroad.  In a letter addressed to Dr. Abdu’l-Missagh Ghadirian after the passing of his brother, Esmail, one of his former students who is currently an Associate Professor at an American university (Dr. Mina Yazdani), expressed her deep gratitude to Dr. Esmail Ghadirian and four other professors who had made it possible for her to attain her highest goal to continue her studies at Indiana University.  As students of Dr. Ghadirian, two of them who presently live in Montreal (Tolou Golkar and Mona Hashemi) spoke movingly at the commemoration; a reminiscence of his kindness, his humility and his dedication. At his funeral in Tehran, many of his former students, Muslims and Bahá’ís, paid hommage to his distinguished character, knowledge and invaluable contributions Esmail made in their lives and the life of the society in general. So great was their love for him that they insisted on carrying his casket to its resting place.

In a letter dated September 20, 2018 written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice about the passing of Dr. Esmail Ghadirian, it is stated: “Rest assured of the supplications of the House of Justice at the Sacred Threshold for the progress of his soul throughout the worlds of God.  Prayers will also be offered for his family members and other loved ones that they may find comfort and strength at this time of bereavement.”

Montreal, October 5, 2018- The last of a five series lectures on Islám was attended by a number of friends and researchers on the subject, at the newly renovated Montreal Bahá’í Centre. This fourth annual series of lectures were held in memory of Raymond Flournoy who spent over forty years teaching and studying the Bahá’í Faith in his home in Montreal. Many accepted the Faith by attending his weekly Firesides, some without even knowing English!

The purpose of these lectures on Islám, as it has been mentioned over and over by professor Todd Lawson, is to create an awareness amongst the general public that the real image of Islám is not what we see in the 21stcentury media. Exhilarated by the Writings of the Bahá’í Faith on Islám, Todd prepared these courses very carefully and, generously put them at our disposal.

This was the story of Muhammad, a genuine world spiritual hero, the least known outside His own community! During the course of these lectures, the general outline of Muhammad’s remarkable life and profile of His heroism were discussed and supported by His own revealed Holy Book, the Qurán as well as the Bahá’í Writings. The major accomplishments of His work, His knowledge and His exceptional humanity were brought to our attention. It is remarkable to notice the volume of writings, poetry and drama composed throughout centuries, elucidating, celebrating and glorifying this simple man of Arabia who introduced a unique world civilization to mankind. Arts and sciences, poetry and drama, music and opera – all flourished under the banner of the Prophet of Arabia- Almost unknown in the Western world.

It seems that ‘Abdu’l-Bahá was the first Eastern visitor who introduced Islám to the West during his three years visit to the two continents of Europe and North America in 1912. He spoke in many churches, synagogues, groups and meetings about the truth of Islám. It is heartening to realize that we can now appreciate greatly this unique Being, Muhammad, His mission, His sufferings, His compassion and His legacy through the Writings of the Founders of Bahá’í Faith.

Bahá’u’lláh in His Book “Gems of Divine Mysteries” speaks of Muhammad in following terms: “Know then that when Muhammad, the Point of the Qur'an and the Light of the All-Glorious, came with perspicuous verses and luminous proofs manifested in such signs as are beyond the power of all existence to produce, He bade all men follow this lofty and outstretched Path in accordance with the precepts that He had brought from God. Whoso acknowledged Him, recognized the signs of God in His inmost Being, and saw in His beauty the changeless beauty of God, the decree of "resurrection", "ingathering", "life", and "paradise" was passed upon him. For he who had believed in God and in the Manifestation of His beauty was raised from the grave of heedlessness, gathered together in the sacred ground of the heart, quickened to the life of faith and certitude, and admitted into the paradise of the divine presence. What paradise can be loftier than this, what ingathering mightier, and what resurrection greater? Indeed, should a soul be acquainted with these mysteries, he would grasp that which none other hath fathomed.”

The bahaimontreal.orgis happy to announce that a new page will be added to this website devoted to the Writings of the Central Figures of the Bahá’í Faith in regard to Muhammad, a Messenger of God and the object of reverence of millions of people throughout the world!

The Emeritus Professor of Islamic Thought at the University of Toronto, Todd Lawson, has thought in the field of Islamic Studies for over forty years and published numerous books and articles in Qur’ánic studies and related topics. He is also an enthusiastic lecturer on the above subject and has travelled vastly in Europe, United-States and the Middle East. His recent book on the Qur’án published by Oneworld Academic 2017, received enthusiastic reviews by a great number of scholars in this field.   

Portrait de 'Abdu'l-Bahá par Juliet TomsonMontreal, August 31, 2018 - After five months in the United States the Master was coming to Montreal, despite His friends' forebodings, and late on the night of August 30, 1912, the Maxwells and Louise Bosch met His train from Boston. He went directly to their home, for four days lavishing His presence before moving to the Hotel Windsor. The columns of the Montreal Daily Star had for a week been heralding this great event, and during those memorable days the best publicity of His American stay, He said, ensured a permanent record of His words. In hours of grave concern to Canada, of threatening conflict and burdensome armaments, the predictions of this "Apostle of Peace . . . (of) An Appalling War" were headlined to the city.

May Maxwell’s share was strenuous in this historic sojourn, for she made the major part of His arrangements. He accorded her immortal praise in the Tablet to Canada. “He found that through the effort of the maidservant of God, Mrs. Maxwell a number of the sons and daughters of the Kingdom in that Dominion, were gathered together and associated with each other, increasing this joyous exhilaration day by day. The time of sojourn was limited to a number of days, but the results in the future are inexhaustible.”

While there were at the time only about fourteen Bahá’ís living in Montréal, such abbreviations in numbers did not deter the Master in His praise both of the city, itself, and the potentials He found within those souls that impressed Him, beginning with that of May Maxwell:

“When a farmer comes into the possession of a virgin soil, in a short time he will bring under cultivation a large field. Therefore I hope that in the future Montreal may become so stirred, that the melody of the Kingdom may travel to all parts of the world from that Dominion and the breaths of the Holy Spirit may spread from that center to the East and the West of America…”

In her journal of the Master’s stay in Montreal, May Maxwell wrote, in a poetic phrase, that ‘Abdu’l-Bahá arrived on the evening of August 30, 1912 at her home, on the flank of Mount Royal, under “the full brightness of a summer moon.” He came on the train from Boston and arrived late. The Master was met eagerly at the Windsor train station on Peel Street at 8:00 p.m. by Sutherland Maxwell with two carriages. (Scheduled to arrive at 8:40 pm but it apparently arrived towards midnight). ‘Abdu’l-Bahá was accompanied on this occasion by only two members from his retinue: Mahmúd-i-Zarqání, who chronicled the Master’s visit to North America and his interpreter, Ahmad Sohrab.

Maxwell HomeThe believers and their friends living in Montreal had well prepared the ground for the Master’s arrival. In fact, their advanced preparation may be taken as an example of efficient media and public relations. When ‘Abdu’l-Bahá arrived at 716 Pine Avenue West (later 1548) on the evening of August 30th, He was met by a group of friends and reporters that included John Lewis, editor of the Montreal Daily Star. It is likely that editor Lewis was a Bahá’í because in Amine De Mille’s eye-witness account of the visit, he is included in the list of names of “first servants to arise through the teaching of Sutherland and May Maxwell” and mentioned among “these earliest friends of the Faith in Montreal.”

The considerable publicity and the magnetic, irresistible personality  of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá brought such a flow of inquirers to 716 Pine Avenue West that the Maxwell home could not accommodate them all.

In 1912 ‘Abdu’l-Bahá was 68 years old, and his was a "commanding presence," we are told. Time and again we read that people coming into his presence for the first time left describing feelings of awe at the meeting. At the same time he seemed "intensely approachable." He had, after all, approved an advertisement in The Montreal Star which gave the Maxwell’s telephone number (Uptown 3015) and urged "any Montrealers who want to make an appointment with him" to do so.

Windsor Train Station This brief visit to Montreal was to accomplish exactly what ‘Abdu'l-Bahá had hoped. It gave the few scattered individuals in Canada who called themselves Bahá’ís an awareness of themselves as a “community,” and gave them as well a better understanding of the Faith. His visit attracted a lot of attention, particularly in Montreal, where more than 2,500 people heard him on nine days and where all the newspapers English and French reported extensively on his visit and his views

Abdu’l-Bahá gave eight public addresses and seven informal presentations, totalling fifteen, for which six transcripts are extant. This does not include newspaper articles, private interviews and the pilgrim’s notes recorded in Mahmúd’s Diary. Three talks were given in the Maxwell home and two in the churches.

Photos : Portrait of 'Abdu'l-Bahá painted by Juliet Thompson 1912, House of William and May Maxwell where the Master stayed, Windsor Train Station - The arrival point of 'Abdul-Bahá to Montreal

Montreal, September 20, 2018 - "Let's Spread Happiness; encourage coexistence; sow the seeds of mutual support! "

In front of an audience of 150 people, these words were voiced by a young girl of Iranian origin whose fellow citizens were the cause of various conflicts across the Middle East! This 19-year-old girl is deeply involved in volunteer work and service to humanity in Montreal. Thus, the world is transformed in a constructive way, one heart at a time! She was delighted to see the Bahá’ís were involved in community activities and expressed the desire to participate in the the projects initiated by the community!

Since 1981, the year of the declaration of the International Day of Peace, the Bahá’í community of Montreal in association with the municipality of Saint-Laurent celebrate this day in Beaudet Park, now called the Peace Park. The celebration took place at noon in the presence of the acting mayor of Saint-Laurent, Mr. Francesco Miele, the municipal counsellors, the community affairs Officer for the Bahá’í Community, the municipal police, the representatives of the Lion club, the students of the several schools of the district as well as some hundred residents of this borough.

In his address, the acting mayor of the borough emphasized the ongoing work of the Bahá’í community for the establishment of world peace for 170 years of existence of the Faith and the work of many volunteers in the locality. In her address, Community Affairs Officer for the Baha'i Community of Montreal, Gigi Vidal, highlighted the borough's ongoing collaboration in building harmony among the people for several decades. The borough of Saint-Laurent is composed of close to a hundred ethnic and linguistic variety, a perfect example of unity in diversity throughout Quebec.

Several spaces were reserved for the participants, children or adults, to express themselves through drawings or writings, their ideas to improve our harmonious relationship with our neighborhoods and the way we can create a service oriented community! Students from the schools in the borough participated in this very interesting exercise! The musical entertainment was provided by our friend Gustavo, (called otherwise one man orchestra!), with songs and rhythm of his Djembe!

On September 6, 1912, the Montreal Gazette published an article following a speech delivered by 'Abdu'l-Bahá the evening before, in the Unitarian Church of St. James regarding world peace: 'Abdu'l- Bahá also spoke of the compelling need for education, and the destructive madness of racial and patriotic conflicts. As in His other speeches, He was extremely worried about the arms race in which all European nations were now engaged and reached a level previously unknown. At the time, no one suspected that this situation would worsen and give birth to the Great War, a disaster that, as we know today, will have killed 9,000,000 people among the countries at war, and caused terrible suffering around the world.

Later, in the last talk He gave aboard the RMS Cedric on His way back to the East, he declared: "... God created men to love one another but, rather, they kill each other cruelly and shed each other’s blood. God created humanity to cooperate and meet in harmony; instead, they ravage, plunder and destroy each other in the midst of bloody battles. God created them to bring happiness and peace; instead, discord, groans, and anguish spring from the hearts of the innocent and the afflicted.

After a minute of silence and meditation for peace, 125 cake balls were offered to participants on the occasion of the 125th anniversary of the founding of the Borough of Saint-Laurent.

Photos : - Some 150 people representing various associations as well as City counsellors attended the celebration.

 -Deputy Mayor of Saint-Laurent with the Officer for Community Affaires of the Bahá'í Community as well as Lions Club members and various Associations of the borough.

-Sample of drawings to express Peace and 125 cake balls to represent 125th anniversary of Saint-Laurent Borough.

 



Montreal, July 30, 2018 – There is a home in NDG area which is a haven of peace for anyone who knocks at its door! This beautiful location hosted a fascinating couple, Roger and Doris Rasmussen of Desert Rose Bahá’í Institute, Eloy, AZ. who travelled all the way to come and visit the Bahá’í Communities of East Coast of Canada! They brought with themselves a gift of sharing the stories of early believers of the United States and Canada through a dramatic reading.

The characters which we had the pleasure to withhold through the first part of the presentation were none other than an outstanding couple - Howard Colby Ives and his beloved wife, Mabel Rice-Wray Ives – who met ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in America in 1912. They were both ardent and devoted teachers of the Faith until the last breath of their lives. Howard has recorded the experience of his encounter with ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in his well-known book “Portals to Freedom” which is incidentally translated into several languages.

Mabel Ives was an accomplished teacher of the Faith for many years even after her husband passed away and she was bedridden for ten days before she too joined her remarkable spouse in 1943.

The roles were played by Roger and Doris Rasmussen who portrayed Howard and Mable splendidly! They had few cute little props of their own to emphasis the dramatic beauty of those outstanding lives which was well appreciated by some fifty members of audience.

In a cable addressed to the United States Community, the Guardian of the Bahá’í Faith Shoghi-Effendi, eulogizes Mable Ives as: “self-sacrificing, distinguished teacher of the Faith…outstanding, memorable and highly meritorious services…” she rendered to the Cause of God.

Howard was a Unitarian Minister and he met ‘Abdu’l-Bahá for the first time in 1912 in New York. The Master saw him, singled him out of all the c

rowd, beckoned to him and Howard felt a breeze from a Divine morning had touched his brow! He devoted his life to teach the Faith until his passing to the World beyond in 1941, exactly two years before his wife Mable passed away.

The dramatic presentation then followed by questions and discussion about the early believers in Canada and the role they played in community building and expansion of the Faith.
Desert Rose Bahá’í Institute began in 1988 in Tucson with the four-day Desert Rose Bahá’í School initiated by Hand of the Cause of God William Sears and his wife, Marguerite, along with a core group of dedicated friends. When Mr. Sears passed away in 1992, Marguerite continued Desert Rose Bahá’í School and expand the four-day school into a permanent Institute. Land near Eloy, Arizona, was purchased in 1996. Desert Rose Bahá’í Institute, Inc. is a non-profit corporation created in 1997.

 

Howard Colby Ives (1867 - 1941)
Mabel Rice-Wray Ives (1878-1943)

Montreal, September 13, 2018 – The Montreal Bahá’í Community was delighted to welcome Cliff Huxtable, a Knight of Bahá’u’lláh, from St. Helena Island where he and his late wife Catherine have been settled for last fifty two years. This remote volcanic island, is located in South Atlantic Ocean.  It is one of the most remote islands in the world, and was uninhabited when discovered by the Portuguese in 1502. It was an important stopover for ships sailing to Europe from Asia and South Africa for centuries. St. Helena measures about 16 by 8 kilometers (10 by 5 miles) and has a population of 4,534 (2016 census). It was named after Saint Helena of Constantinople.

At a college freshman dance, Cliff Huxtable spotted a lovely young lady sitting across the room. Approaching her to ask for a dance, he saw to his dismay that she sat in a wheelchair. Unsure what to do next, he cut in on a fellow-student who was dancing with one of the lady’s friends. "Come over and meet her,” the friend invited. “She is just like everyone else." The young lady was Catherine Heward, confined to a wheelchair because of muscular dystrophy. Doctors had given her twenty years to live.

Despite her physical limitations and waning strength Catherine developed into a self-reliant young woman of diversified interests. She attracted to her a widening circle of friends who accompanied her to concerts, ballets, theaters, art galleries, and lectures. She became a gifted writer and an accomplished artist in needlepoint. Against all odds, she and Clifford Huxtable got married in 1955, embraced the Bahá’í Faith in 1951, travelled the world during Shoghi Effendi’s great Bahá’í pioneering project of the Ten-Year Crusade, adopted a teenager and have a son, all before Catherine’s death at the age of thirty-five. 

Both Catherine and I were born in 1932, said Cliff, met each other in 1950, joined the Bahá’í Faith in John and Audrey Robarts’ living room, Forest Hill Village, Toronto, served on the Spiritual Assembly of Toronto and then pioneered to Regina end of 1957 – 1959. They continued their services to the Faith and settled in the virgin territory of Canada’s Gulf Islands, tucked inside Vancouver Island, in autumn 1959 – autumn 1965 combined with alternative trips to Anticosti which had proved untenable then, followed by a farewell tour of Bahá’í Communities from Victoria to Montreal.

When the call for pioneers in the Nine-Year Plan was raised in 1965, again the hearts of Catherine and Clifford Huxtable were touched. They volunteered to settle on the lonely volcanic island of St. Helena, final prison and resting place of Napoleon Bonaparte. Arrived on April 1966 where there was only one Bahá’í. On October 25, 1967, just nineteen months after arriving at St. Helena, Catherine passed away. "The end came suddenly after only one day of discomfort," Clifford said. "Her last words were an earnest but not anguished payer, 'I want to die.'"

Quite some time after Catherine passed on, Cliff said, he was surprised to learn that he and Catherine had been both named Knights of Bahá’u’lláh for the Gulf Islands.  Cliff is still living in St. Helena, married to a St. Helenian lady and both serving on its tenuous Spiritual Assembly! There are now nineteen Bahá’ís on the island!

Cliff is in Montreal for two weeks to encourage the area Bahá’í friends to consider wintering in lovely St. Helena, befriending its ‘Saints’ and strengthening our bonds with them.  Then he goes to Bromont for a weekend family reunion of 60 relatives from all over North America before returning to his special island by September 29. (He had spent his childhood summers with his grandparents, uncles and aunts in their Eastern Township homes.) 

For information about St. Helena: http://www.sthelenabahai.org

Montreal, July 29, 2018 – A group of young people from Waterloo community, Ontario, was in Montreal for a three day visit specifically the historic sites associated with the visit ‘Abdu'l-Bahá’s sojourn in this city in 1912.

They were welcomed warmly at the reception centre of the Shrine and, after going through the history of the place and its significance for the Bahá'ís, they continued their visit to the Shrine itself; the former home of Montreal architect Sutherland Maxwell. 'Abdu'l-Bahá, the son and successor of Bahá'u'lláh, Prophet-Founder of the Bahá'í Faith, arrived in Montreal on August 30, 1912 for an initial five-day visit. Force of circumstance, after giving a speech at the Saint James Methodist Church on September 5th, he caught cold which forced him to delay his departure, perhaps an inconvenience for the Master, but a blessing for Montreal.

During this period, he only went to the Maxwell’s home. However, even His health condition did not stop those who wanted to visit him at Windsor Hotel. Nevertheless, as his initial itinerary had already been announced in the newspapers, the frequency of visits decreased somewhat, some believing he had already left. Despite his health, he went to the Maxwell’s home later that day. The weather was cooler and pleasant during that period.

May Maxwell later told her daughter that 'Abdu'l-Bahá said during His stay in their home: “Here, is my home”. She described her guest as someone “serene and calm”, but during the nine days He spent in Montreal, 'Abdu'l-Bahá actually seems to have constantly given talks, interviews, received guests, or visited those He thought were ready to hear His message.

The youth group continued their visit first to Cathedral Mary Queen of the World and then to Windsor Hotel where 'Abdu'l-Bahá and His entourage had stayed for six days. This majestic hotel of the time on Peel Avenue was ravaged by fire in 1957 and the part of the structure where 'Abdu'l-Bahá had probably stayed was destroyed. Today, the CIBC tower replaces the old structure of the hotel but the annex still exists in its original architectural form as it was in the time of ‘Abdu'l-Bahá.

It is interesting to know that the Master stayed at the hotel at the same time as Canadian Prime Minister Sir Robert Borden, who was returning from a successful trip to Britain. The year 1912 marked almost a century of peace between Great Britain and the United States. Following a parade of about two kilometers, with fireworks and fanfares, the prime minister moved to Windsor Hotel. There is no indication that 'Abdu'l-Bahá met him, either accidentally or at one of the sumptuous reception at the hotel given for the prime minister, but it is remarkable that these two personalities stayed at the same hotel at the same time.
The visit to historical sites was completed around 5 pm and the youth continued the day with NDG friends at the Kent Park picnic.

Montreal, September 12, 2018 – Twenty-two students from Kyoto Imperial University of Japan are, at the moment, visiting Montreal as part of their continuing studies to learn about Canadian Culture and languages. The group of four who study Religious Diversity visited the Montreal Bahá’í Shrine accompanied by their tutor. The visit included a presentation about the Faith, Maxwell family and ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s sojourn in Montreal as well as a short history of the Faith in Japan. Numerous questions were asked about the Faith and the relationship of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá with Maxwell family. Questions were also asked about the Administrative System of the Faith and the non-partisan election in the Bahá’í World Community. A gift of literature and relevant information was offered to the students.

The McGill School of Continuing Studies has an international reputation as a leader in continuing education. The instructors are dynamic and engaged, the student body, smart and diverse, bringing with them a wide range of experience from all walks of life. There are over 150 countries represented at McGill University, the most international student body in Canada.

The number of students at McGill’s School of Continuing Studies is 15 000! Career Advancement and Professional Development, Language Learning, Translation and Written Communication, Personal Growth and Lifelong Learning as well as arts, religious diversity and indigenous studies are included in the program.

Kyoto Imperial University in Japan was founded by imperial ordinance on 18 June 1897, the second university to be established in Japan. It has been in partnership with six universities in Canada and with McGill in particular since 2014. One of Asia’s leading research-oriented institutions, Kyoto University is famed for producing world-class researchers, including 17 Nobel Prize laureates, 2 Fields medalists and one Gauss Prize winner.

The Bahá'í Faith in Japan begins after a few mentions of the country by `Abdu'l-Bahá first in 1875. Japanese contact with the religion came from the West when Kanichi Yamamoto was living in Honolulu, Hawaii in 1902 accepted the Faith; the second being Saichiro Fujita. Fujita would serve between the World Wars, first in the household of ‘Abdu'l-Bahá and then of Shoghi Effendi. In 1932, the first Bahá'í Local Spiritual Assembly was elected in Tokyo. In all of Japan there were 19 Bahá'ís then. The Association of Religion Data Archives (relying on World Christian Encyclopedia) estimated some 15 650 Japanese Bahá'ís in 2005 while the CIA World Fact book estimated about 12 000 in 2006.

Montreal, July 10, 2018 - The Bahá'í Community of the Island of Montreal was present at a solemn commemoration at the Bahá'í Center on Pine Avenue East. Children, youths, adults, talented musicians, even nature in the form of beautiful roses that decorated the hall; together, commemorated this tragic event occurred in the history of humanity. It took place on July 10, 1850 in a military barracks in Tabriz, a city in northwestern Iran.

A youth of 30 years old, a direct descendant of Muhammad's lineage, carrying a new message of peace and brotherhood of humanity, was tried as an offender of Islamic theology. He proclaimed that He was the Promised one of Islam, the One who should appear at the end of time! The clergy found Him a threat to the church and state. They imprisoned him, persecuted him and finally sentenced him to death. Those among the clergy who had a clear vision and sincerely awaited this miraculous period of history accepted Him without any hesitation. A surprising number of over 400, of the most learned in the country; not only accepted his Message but, almost all, gave their lives for his Cause.

This young man bore the name of the Báb (1819 - 1850), the Door of Knowledge of God, a Saint John the Baptist of Christendom, the Qá'im of Islam, the Herald of the Bahá'í Faith and a Divine Messenger!

During His imprisoned in the fortress of Máh-Ku in northwestern Iran, only one European had a meeting with the Báb. He was Dr. Cormick, an English physician residing in Tabríz who was summoned by the Persian authorities to decide on the Báb’s mental state.
 
“… He only deigned to answer me, writes Dr. Cormick, when I told Him that I was not a Musulman and was willing to know something about his religion, as I might perhaps be inclined to adopt it. He regarded me very intently on my saying this, and replied that he had no doubt of all Europeans coming over to his religion. Our report to the Shah at that time was of a nature to spare his life…

He was a very mild and delicate-looking man, rather small in stature and very fair for a Persian, with a melodious soft voice, which struck me much. Being a Siyyid, he was dressed in the habit of that sect, as were also his two companions. In fact, his whole look and deportment went far to dispose one in his favour. Of his doctrine, I heard nothing from his own lips, although the idea was that there existed in his religion a certain approach to Christianity. He was seen by some Armenian carpenters, who were sent to make some repairs in his prison, reading the Bible, and he took no pains to conceal it, but on the contrary told them of it. Most assuredly the Musulman fanaticism does not exist in his religion, as applied to Christians, nor is there that restraint of females that now exists."
 
The Báb and one of his disciples were hung by ropes against the wall of a military barracks, and a regiment of seven hundred and fifty Christian Armenian soldiers was brought in to form the firing squad. The colonel of the regiment, a certain Sám Khán, was reluctant to execute the received order, fearing that it would draw the wrath of God on his head. It is said that the Báb gave him the following assurance: "Follow your instructions and if your intention be sincere, the Almighty is surely able to relieve you from your perplexity."

Many eyewitnesses testified as follows: The regiment was set up and seven hundred and fifty shots fired. The smoke produced by the muskets, which were filled through the front barrel, obscured the place. When it dissipated, the astonished spectators saw the companion of the Báb standing unharmed in front of the wall; the Báb was gone! The ropes on which the two men were hung had been cut by bullets. A frenzied search ensued and the Báb, still unharmed, was found in the room he had occupied the night before. He was calmly giving his last instructions to his secretary.

The crowd was out of control, and the Armenian regiment refused to participate again in this execution. The colonel of the regiment was threatened by the real possibility that the moody crowd, who had first acclaimed and denounced the Báb, saw in the deliverance of the latter a sign of God and rose for His support. A regiment of Muslims was hastily formed, the Báb and his companion hung once more along the wall, and a second volley was fired at them. This time the bodies of the two prisoners were riddled with bullets.

The extraordinary circumstances surrounding the death of the Báb aroused a new wave of interest in his Message. The story spread like wildfire, not only among the Persians, but also among the diplomats, merchants, military advisers and journalists who constituted a substantial European community in Persia at that time. The words of a French consular diplomat, A.L.M. Nicolas, give an idea of the impact that this drama had in Persia on educated Westerners:

"It is one of the most magnificent examples of courage ever given to humanity to contemplate, and it is also an admirable proof of the love that our hero bore to his fellow-citizens. He sacrificed himself for humanity; for her he gave his body and soul; for her he suffered privations, insults, torture and martyrdom. He sealed with his blood the pact of universal brotherhood and, like Jesus, he gave his life as a ransom for the announcement of the reign of concord, equity and love of neighbor.
"

Montreal, Septembre 10, 2018 - It was a rainy day that day in 1912 but `Abdu’l-Bahá’s departure for Toronto (en route to Buffalo) was already arranged. `Abdu’l-Bahá’s diarist Mahmoud was asked to take personal charge of his luggage. When, instead, the hotel staff took his luggage, Mahmoud was chastised, for `Abdu’l-Bahá’s luggage contained valuable documents and writings that he intended to present to the “libraries of London and Paris.” At the Grand Trunk Railway station, the chief custom inspector and his assistants cleared the luggage without any inspection, stating that they had no reason to inspect the luggage of the Bahá’ís. When the Master was told this, His face opened up like a rose and He expounded on the stations of truthfulness and trustworthiness, which are the sources of the prosperity and assurance of the people of the world

The influence of `Abdu’l-Bahá’s visit spread beyond the approximately 2500 people in Montreal who heard him speak or had direct personal contact with him. Some 440 000 readers of Montreal’s lively press, in English and in French, also became aware of his visit and teachings.

Among the excitement of the many Bahá’ís and others who had gathered to see him off, at Grand Trunk Railway train (now the Canadian Pacific Railway), the “International Limited,” pulled out of Bonaventure Station at 9:05 am. The Grand Trunk “Moccasin” engine was probably assigned to this run, taking `Abdu’l-Bahá to Toronto. While the Montreal Bahá’ís numbered fourteen souls, the believers were now strong in Faith and more stead fast than before.

It is astonishing to see that `Abdu'l-Bahá does not want any comfort and will not take any rest, even while traveling on the train. When translations of the newspaper articles and letters from the friends were read to Him, He immediately answered and bestowed His bounties upon them. To some He wrote in His own hand. When He was tired of writing, the Master spoke about the coming of Christ from the heaven of holiness: The Gospel expressly records that in His first coming, although Christ was born to Mary, He Himself said that He came from heaven. Thus, the meaning of `heaven' is the greatness of the Cause and eminence and might of the Manifestation of God Who spreads this divine Cause by His heavenly power and divine strength and not through material means.

The train route taking `Abdu’l-Bahá from Montreal to Toronto, and then to Niagara Falls and Buffalo in the United States, passed villages and towns that were home to individuals who would soon thereafter declare their belief in the new revelation: Farran’s Point, Brockville, Belleville, Toronto, Burlington, Hamilton, St. Catherines and Niagara falls. 

On this trip to Oshawa, Ontario, a 4-year-old First Nation child was sitting on a fence watching the train go by. He saw a man wearing a long, elegant white coat waving at him. He was so upset that he lost his balance and fell, but he never forgot what he saw that day. In 1948, thirty-six years later, Jim Loft, the first Native believer in Canada, accepted the Bahá'í faith and he remembered this incident when he saw the picture of 'Abdu'l-Bahá for the first time.

Those nine days which `Abdu’l-Bahá spent in Montreal are, for Canada, among the most significant in our country’s life, because we still have the opportunity to act upon what he said then and to build a country and a world worthy of his words and Baha’u’llah’s vision. When `Abdu'l-Baha left Montreal, he said,

"The time of the sojourn was limited to a number of days, but the results in the future are inexhaustible."

Today, we can only marvel at the example and inspiration of 'Abdu'l-Bahá who chose to include the city of Montreal in His busy itinerary, and the wisdom and efficiency of His decision to accomplish this journey despite His advanced age and His failing physical condition, for the sake of fifteen believers who, before 1912, had taken the initiative to go to the prison-city of 'Akká, thus exposing themselves to all dangers. Only the power of His presence in this world could inspire them to realize what would become the goal of their lives.

 

Photos : Bonaventure Central Station 1912 -  Jim Loft, First Bahá'í believer from First Nations - Bahá'í Group in Montreal circa 1912

 

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