[PROVISIONAL TRANSLATION FROM PERSIAN]
[Translator’s notes appear in square brackets]
[Personal information has been redacted.]
The Government of Iran Had Wanted This …
The government of Iran exiled Baha’u’llah from His native homeland. Baha’u’llah was stationed in Baghdad. After a few years, the government of Iran did not see fit for Him to continue living there, and insistently forced the Ottoman government authorities to take another action and move Baha’u’llah farther from Iran. This insistence continued until finally Baha’u’llah was taken from Baghdad to Istanbul. They sent Him from Istanbul to Edirne [Adrianople] and from Edirne to Acre [Akka]. In that city, they put Him in a fort [used as a prison] and prohibited Him from leaving the city. They kept Him in that condition for so long that, after enduring forty years of exile, He passed away in the City of Akka and was buried in that city.
Abdu’l-Baha lived with His Father throughout this forty-year period, and shared His suffering, hardship and captivity. After the passing of His Father, He singlehandedly endured many years of exile and threat, until He finally left this world in that same land and His body was laid to rest in the City of Haifa.
By the order of the Iranian government, the Bab was executed in His early youth by a firing squad. The believers did not dare to bury His body in Iran. They hid the body for fifty years. They moved it from one city to another, from one street to another and from one house to another until they finally removed this trust from the borders of this country out of fear of the government and the nation, and buried Him in the City of Haifa, where Abdu’l-Baha lived.
Thus, it can be clearly seen how Akka and Haifa became the resting place for the bodies of the Bab, Baha’u’llah and Abdu’l-Baha. This was done by the action of the Iranian government and by the order of the Ottoman caliph, with compulsion, insistence and coercion. The Baha’is did not want this and did not provide the means at their own will. Rather, they found themselves deprived due to the separation they were afflicted with and tearfully accepted the decreed destiny.
Akka and Haifa were part of the Sham Province at that time. That province was part of the Ottoman Islamic Caliphate. During the last years of Abdu’l-Baha’s life, [that area] became part of the country of Palestine due to the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire, and more than half a century after His ascension, it became part of a country that took the name of Israel.
The only reason the Baha’is pay attention to that land is that Baha’u’llah, the Bab and Abdu’l-Baha are buried in Akka and Haifa, and Akka and Haifa are situated in that land. The residence of these great men in that land happened by the will of the Iranian government and by the order of the Ottoman Islamic Caliphate more than one hundred years ago. This residence was forced by exile and with prohibition from leaving the land.
When Christians view that land with reverence, it is because it is the place of the birth, resurrection and ascension of Jesus. When Muslims of the world hold that land dear, it is because it is the seat of the Al-Aqsa Mosque, the primary point of adoration of Islam and the path of the ascension of Muhammad. When Baha’is pay attention to that land, it is because Baha’u’llah, the Bab and Abdu’l-Baha are buried there according to the wishes of the Iranian government, and naturally it is not fair to consider Christians, Muslims or Baha’is connected to the government of Israel because of this conscientious, religious and spiritual consideration.
Shrines built on the resting places of religious figures inevitably cause religious affairs to be concentrated around those shrines, and that concentration has nothing to do with the government that rules the lands situated around those shrines. The City of Najaf is the resting place of Imam Ali. If that beloved city is the religious centre and the theological school for the Shiites of the world for this same reason, there is no doubt, and no one can be so bold as to consider that concentration, for example, as a reason for the political connection of the Iranian Shiites with the government of Iraq. The Holy City of Medina is the burial place of Prophet Mohammad. If, for this reason, that noble city is holy and blessed in the eyes of the Muslims from all corners of the world, it is unfair to assume that this reverence and sanctification is a sign of the obedience of Muslims from other countries to the policies of the government of Saudi Arabia. By the same token, Akka and Haifa are the resting places of the Holy Figures of the Baha’i Faith, and if these two cities are the spiritual and religious centres of Baha’is, it is very unjust to consider this as an indication of the connection of the Baha’is to the government of Israel, and oppress this sorely wronged group in their homeland to this extent.
The shrines of religious figures should be taken care of as a matter of sincerity and faith. This care requires expenses; these expenses are provided through the charity and contributions of the believers. They are spent under the supervision of some of them; they make the restoration and protection of those places possible; they provide an opportunity for pilgrimages to continue, and, of course, this has nothing to do with the government of the country where these shrines are located. For example, contributions sent from all over the Islamic world, particularly from Arab countries to a country now called Israel, are just to take care of the Al-Aqsa Mosque; is it possible to be so oppressive as to consider the Arab world as a supporter of the Israeli government or a defender of its interests? And if this cannot be said of the Muslims, how is it permissible to accuse the Baha’is of aiding the Israeli government―because, in the past, some of them have sent funds to Akka and Haifa to be spent on the Holy Shrines of the Bab, Baha’u’llah and Abdu’l-Baha and to purchase lands around the shrines and to protect and restore them under the supervision of some of the Baha’is themselves―and to attack them so [harshly] in some of the newspapers in the country or other unknown documents?
Of course, if the Iranian government had allowed Baha’u’llah and Abdu’l-Baha to remain in their homeland, if the Iranian nation had wanted the body of the Bab to be buried in this same country, the attention of Baha’is in more than 90,000 localities in the world would now have turned to Iran. This pure land would have become the place of pilgrimage for people of 1,640 races, ethnicities and tribes in 130 countries, and the Baha’i of Iran would have performed their religious rites in their own homeland and would not have sent even a penny out of their country for charity and contribution. This is to the extent where the attention of the Baha’is in every corner of the world is on the birthplace and the place of the martyrdom of the Bab in Iran, the homeland and abode of Baha’u’llah in this pure land, and the resting places of thousands of martyrs in every corner of this country, and there will be increasing caravans of pilgrims to visit this country if the government agrees.
In short, the Baha’is can do nothing but submit to fate and accept, with sincerity and longing, what has been done in the past by the order of the government and sincerely pray for the removal of misunderstandings about their intentions, actions and attitudes.
The National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’is of Iran
(This is specifically for the Baha’i Community)