This December marks the 100th anniversary of Abdu’l-Baha’s Tablet to the Central Organisation for a Durable Peace, better known as the Tablet to The Hague (you can read it online in its entirety on the Baha’i Reference Library here). In His letter Abdu’l-Baha places the attainment of international peace within the context of the need for wider political, economic and cultural change.
But what do we know about this Tablet? What was this Central Organisation? Why is this tablet also know as ‘Tablet to The Hague’? Why ‘The Hague’? When and why was this letter written? Who delivered it? Who received this letter and what was their response? In fact, there are two Tablets to The Hague. While the first letter is generally referred to as the Tablet of The Hague, what about the second one?
To answers some of these questions, a father-son duo have created a special webpage which you can see here. It is an English page on a Dutch website, called bahaigeschiedenis.nl, about the history of the Baha’i community in the Netherlands.
Its makers, Jelle and Adib, graciously agreed to tell us about their work, and here’s what they shared:
Baha’i Blog: Can you tell us a little about yourselves?
Thank you for having us. My father is a medical doctor. In 2002 he gained a PhD-degree with his book: The Babi Question You Mentioned… The Origins of the Baha’i Community of the Netherlands 1844 -1962. He is an ophthalmic surgeon with a good insight in the Dutch Baha’i history.
Adib is a 4th generation Baha’i, an economist and business analyst with an interest in design and marketing. He is also…
Miaow. Meet Coco, our cat.
Baha’i Blog: Could you tell us very briefly about the first Tablet to The Hague?
The Tablet is like a wake-up call, a roadmap, a summary… Wait … an excellent question for my father.
The Tablet to The Hague is a comprehensive letter from Abdu’l-Baha to the Central Organisation for a Durable Peace, a large international organization of peace activists during the First World War, that had its secretariat in The Hague, the Netherlands. Hence its name. Yes, I agree … the Tablet is both a summary of the Baha’i vision, a kind of blueprint, and an appeal for a global ethics.
Baha’i Blog: What makes this Tablet very meaningful to you?
I was first drawn to this letter of Abdu’l-Baha because of its name. We live near The Hague and are often in that city. So I felt addressed. But of course the Tablet speaks to a much wider audience than the inhabitants of that particular city, although they include the royal family, the members of parliament and many foreign diplomats. The Tablet taught me that peace is much more than the signing of a treaty. It means above all, solidarity. Injustices like excessive economic inequality, religious violence or the suppression of women are expressions of a lack of solidarity.
For me the project – The journey of Abdu’l-Baha’s Tablet to The Hague – is special because of its connection with Holland. Walking in the footsteps, literally, of Mr. Yazdani and Hand-of-Cause Ibn-i-Asdaq in Rotterdam, The Hague, Zaandam … We have visited all these places. And we left no Dutch archive untouched.
Baha’i Blog: Can you tell us a little about the special website you’ve created?
Two years ago, in virtually every part of the world individuals and communities were celebrating the 200th anniversary of the Birth of Baha’u’llah. And I also had the desire to do something special. So in March 2018, I launched a website that was to give a bird’s eye view on the history of the Baha’i community.
Some years ago Mr. Ali Nakhjavani, a former member of the Universal House of Justice, suggested that the circumstances of Abdu’l-Baha’s Tablet to The Hague should be investigated and recorded. And in 2015 the National Spiritual Assembly of the Netherlands requested me to make a chronology of the events related to its delivery. As detailed as possible. So it happened that two projects merged into one.
Baha’i Blog: What was the process like of creating it?
Oh, the process of making a beautiful website was a rather long and chaotic one. Adib designed and developed it all. He learned by trial and error; a true autodidact.
Designing, testing, failure, sleepless nights … You must remember that your problems are not unique. Others have the same troubles and often have found the solution you are looking for. Meanwhile never forget the words of Baha’u’llah: ‘Be not grieved if thou performest it thyself alone.’
Baha’i Blog: What’s something that you learned while creating this site or photo chronology?
At least two things. First, that a website is a wonderful medium. For it is very flexible. In contrast to a book, its content can be enlarged, changed and corrected very easily.
And it gives you whole new opportunities, like film, music, animations, reading on your mobile.
Second, limiting yourself to a chronology is much easier than writing a comprehensive history. We just collected the most appropriate and beautiful photos we could find or make, wrote short captions and arranged them chronologically; like a stamp collection in the old days. Every time you learn about a new or better ‘stamp’ the only thing you have to do, is to put it in the right place.
Baha’i Blog: Who is your target audience?
The main goal of the website is to inspire a Dutch-speaking audience. All visitors: students, journalists, scholars… are invited to get to know the Baha’i World through its history. Baha’u’llah once wrote: ‘The past is the mirror of the future. Gaze ye therein and be apprised thereof; perchance ye may be aided thereby to recognize the Friend.’
Yes, the English webpage is an exception. But the story of the journey of Abdu’l-Baha’s letter to The Hague gives some context to a message that was directed to an international readership in the first place. That’s why we also made an English version.
We also have a question for you: did we succeed in our mission?
Baha’i Blog: I definitely believe so!
Thank you so much for sharing, Adib and Jelle. We are so grateful to you for telling us how the website came together and about this important anniversary.
Be sure to check out the website here: bahaigeschiedenis.nl/abdul-baha-tablet-to-the-hague