First Baha'i House of Worship: Ishqabad

Jun 2006
4,319
California
#1


Ground breaking...A photograph of the Bahá'ís of Ishqabad, in Russian Turkistan, carrying material for the construction of the world's first Bahá'í House of Worship.

The laying of the cornerstone of this edifice at a ceremony attended by the delegate of the Czar -- the Governor-general of Turkistan -- and the initial steps taken to raise this first House of Worship of the Bahá'í World, inspired the friends in America, who, in 1903, eager to demonstrate the quality of their faith, petitioned 'Abdu'l-Bahá for permission to erect the first Mashriqu'l-Adhkar of the West.
 
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Jun 2006
4,319
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#2


Completed..

The Temple had two schools, one for boys and one for girls, and a pilgrim house was later built. The local community, and the activities of the friends throughout the provinces of Turkistan expanded and developed in stature until 1928, when the law expropriating religious edifices was applied to this Temple. However, under the terms of two five-year leases, the Bahá'í community was permitted to continue to use the building as a house of worship. In 1938 the Temple was completely expropriated and converted into an art gallery.

In 1948 violent earthquakes shook the whole town causing devastation and ruin.

Source:

http://bahaihistoricalfacts.blogspot.com/2010/11/mashriqul-adhkar-in-ishqabad.html
 
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Jun 2006
4,319
California
#6
Turbulent history of the first Temple...

the Bahá'í House of Worship was expropriated by the Soviet authorities in 1928 and leased back to the Bahá'ís until 1938 when it was fully secularized by the communist government and turned into an art gallery. However the records of events shows an increasing hostility to the Bahá'is between 1928 and 1938.[17] From 1928 free rent was set for 5 years and the Bahá'ís were asked to make certain repairs which they did. But in 1933 before the 5 year rent agreement was expired the government suddenly decided expensive renovations would be required. These unexpected requirements were accomplished but in 1934 complaints about the condition of the building were again laid. However inquires from abroad silenced the complaints. But in 1936 escalated demands of were made beyond the resources of the local community. However the Bahá'ís of Turkistan and the Caucasus rallied and were able to sustain the construction requested. Then the government made moves to confiscate the main gardens of the property to provide for a playground of a school (the school itself being confiscated from the Bahá'ís originally) which would wall off the grounds from the Bahá'ís leaving only and entrance to the temple through a side entrance rather than the main entrance facing the front of the property. Protests lead to the abandonment of this plan but then in 1938 all pretexts came to an end.[17] The 1948 Ashgabat earthquake seriously damaged the building and rendered it unsafe; the heavy rains of the following years weakened the structure, and it was demolished in 1963 and the site converted into a public park.[13] With the Soviet ban on religion, the Bahá'ís, strictly adhering to their principle of obedience to legal government, abandoned its administration and its properties were nationalized.[18] By 1938, with the NKVD (Soviet secret police) and the policy of religious oppression most Bahá'ís were sent to prisons and camps or sent abroad; Bahá'í communities in 38 cities ceased to exist. In the case of Ashgabat Bahá'í sources indicate[17] on February 5 the members of the assembly, leaders of the community and some general members of the community to a total of 500 people were arrested, homes were searched and all records and literature were confiscated claiming they were working for the advantage of foreigners and sometimes forced to dig their own graves as part of the interrogation. It is believed one woman set fire to her self and died later in a hospital. The women and children were largely exiled back to Iran.Source:

Bahá'í Faith in Turkmenistan - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
 
Jun 2006
4,319
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#7
History of Baha'is in Russia:

Baha'is in Russia. From about 1884, Iranian Baha'is began to migrate to the Russian territories immediately north of Iran, to Ashkhabad and Baku in particular. Here they found a freedom of worship and a freedom to build the institutions of their Faith which was denied to them in Iran (see "Central Asia" and "Azerbaijan"). A small Baha'i community sprang up in Russia itself as well. One of the first Baha'is was Izabella Grinevskaia (q.v.), although it is difficult to be certain when she first considered herself a Baha'i. She met `Abdu'l-Baha in 1910 in Egypt and published plays and essays about the new religion. She was a resident of St. Petersburg. There were also a number of Iranian Baha'i students and merchants in Moscow. Count Leo Tolstoy, the renowned author, was very interested in the Baha'i Faith and met and corresponded with Baha'is. However due to the strict control on religion in Russia, the Baha'is were not able to teach the Baha'i Faith openly there.

For the first few years after the Bolshevik revolution, the Baha'is, although attacked in the government press (BW 2:35), benefited from the easing of some restrictions and were able to convert a few Russians to the Baha'i Faith. Local spiritual assemblies were formed in Moscow and Leningrad (St. Petersburg) and a few other small communities arose in such places as Oriyol (?Auriol, Iryul, Uryul, ??XXX) near Moscow, where Hasan Bayk of Burda` in Russian Azerbaijan taught the Baha'i Faith and succeeded in converting eight families.

Eventually, however, the pressures against the Baha'is and all religions intensified. In 1926, a Baha'i visiting Moscow to give a public lecture was arrested and a printing press used for the publication of Baha'i materials was confiscated. By 1928, there were extensive moves against all the Baha'i communities in the Soviet Union. The Baha'i communities made many representations to the government against these persecutions but to no avail. Publications appeared attacking the Baha'i Faith: I. Darov, Bekhaizm: Novaia Religiia Vostoka (Leningrad: Priboi, 1930); and A. Arsharuni, Bekhaizm (Moscow: Bezbozhnik, 1930); while the Small Soviet Encyclopaedia published in 1933 denounced the Baha'i Faith for camouflaging itself as "socialism" and stated that it was one of the "fashionable religious philosophical systems which the bourgeoisie uses in its fight against the ideas of Socialism and Communism" (Kolarz 472). In 1938, numerous Baha'is were arrested and some of the Baha'is from Ashkhabad and other areas of Central Asia and the Caucasus were exiled to Siberia and elsewhere. All communal Baha'i activity in the Soviet Union ceased from this date, although many of those remaining at home or in exile continued to hold firm in their faith. Another wave of persecutions and imprisonments occurred in 1948.

Encyclopedia Article: Russia
 
Jun 2006
4,319
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#8
"The first individual to erect a Baha'i House of Worship"

"After the ascension of Bahá'u'lláh, the Afnan, (Haji Mirza Muhammad-Taqi, the Afnan), loyal and staunch in the Covenant, rendered even more services than he had before; this in spite of many obstacles, and an overwhelming load of work, and an infinite variety of matters all claiming his attention.

He gave up his comfort, his business, his properties, estates, lands, hastened away to Ishqabad and set about building the Mashriqu'l-Adhkar; this was a service of very great magnitude, for he thus became the first individual to erect a Bahá'í House of Worship, the first builder of a House to unify man.

With the believers in Ishqabad assisting him, he succeeded in carrying off the palm. For a long period in Ishqabad, he had no rest.

Day and night, he urged the believers on. Then they too exerted their efforts, and made sacrifices above and beyond their power; and God's edifice arose, and word of it spread throughout East and West. The Afnan expended everything he possessed to rear this building, except for a trifling sum. This is the way to make a sacrifice. This is what it means to be faithful."

~ Abdu'l-Baha, Memorials of the Faithful, p. 127
 
Jun 2006
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#9
The Guardian regarding the Baha'is in Ishqabad:

In the middle of 1928 the law expropriating religious edifices was applied to the Mashriqu'l-Adhkar of Ishqabad. The use of this edifice as a house of worship, however, was continued, under a five-year lease, which was renewed by the local authorities in 1933, for a similar period.

In 1938 the situation in both Turkistan and the Caucasus rapidly deteriorated, leading to the imprisonment of over five hundred believers -- many of whom died -- as well as a number of women, and the confiscation of their property, followed by the exile of several prominent members of these communities to Siberia, the polar forests and other places in the vicinity of the Arctic Ocean, the subsequent deportation of most of the remnants of these communities to Persia, on account of their Persian nationality, and lastly, the complete expropriation of the Temple itself and its conversion into an art gallery.


~ Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By, p. 361
 
Jun 2006
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#10
Mirza Abul Fadl wrote a fairly extensive piece about the martyrdom of a Baha'i in Ishqabad on September 8, 1899 and how the local authorities responded to that .. a court hearing which occurred in November 1899 and so on..Refer to

"The Martyrdom of Haji Muhammad-Rida"
by Mirza Abu'l-Fadl Gulpaygani

The incident of the slaying of the illustrious martyr, the late Haji Muhammad-Rida - may my spirit be a sacrifice unto the dust of his resting-place - in the city of 'Ishqabad and the just verdict rendered in the course of the subsequent trial by the stalwart and glorious Russian Government - may God prolong her sovereignty on the west, the east, the north and the south - is deserving of a befitting mention in history and is a subject of discussion among the friends in all the cities and regions. I, therefore, thought it was imperative to write of these occurrences for the believers in Isfahan in order that you may read these pages in the gatherings of the friends where all may raise their supplicating voices in prayer so that the life, sovereignty, pomp and glory of His Imperial Majesty Alexander III and the ministers of his all-powerful nation may long endure. These events were particularly important since the exalted Tablets that have been recently received make reference to this issue in words, the gist of which are: In gratitude for the protection which has always surrounded the Cause of the Lord of Creation, this wronged-community must never forget the support and fair treatment it has received from the glorious Government of Russia and should ceaselessly beseech divine confirmations and blessings for her Emperor as well as her kind General [Kamaroff].

Martyrdom of Haji Muhammad-Rida, The
 
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