The Winter Solstice, or Shab-e Yalda as it is known in Iran, would normally be a festive time for many Iranians. It is a time for celebrating at home with loved ones as the longest night of the year gives way to light – a symbolic triumph of good over evil. Instead, many families face empty chairs tonight. Iranian authorities have killed hundreds of protestors since peaceful protests erupted across the country three months ago, including dozens of children, and have arrested more than 18,000 people, according to credible human rights organizations. Iran’s leadership has used executions, arbitrary detention, forced disappearances, and sexual violence to stifle peaceful protests by the Iranian people. It appears no act is beneath the Islamic Republic’s leadership in their attempts to silence dissent.
Tonight on Shab-e Yalda, we mourn with the people of Iran, and we reiterate our commitment to the Iranian people: the United States will continue to confront Iranian authorities’ human rights abuses and hold the perpetrators accountable for employing violence against their own population through unilateral and multilateral measures, together with our allies and partners. We will continue to support the Iranian people as they stand up to their government’s state-sponsored violence against women and girls.
The eyes of the world are on Iran. We once again take this opportunity to implore Iran’s leadership to listen to its people rather than violently suppress them.
Here is the original Statement link: https://www.state.gov/on-the-iranian-peoples-observance-of-shab-e-yalda/
“…on this night, the night of Yaldá, the fire of the love of God burneth so fiercely within the friends…”
What follows is my provisional translation (in other words, not official or authorized; see here for more) of a Tablet from ʻAbduʼl-Bahá, the original text of which is published in Muntakhabátí az Makátíb-i-Ḥaḍrat-i-ʻAbduʼl-Bahá, vol. 3, pp. 216–217 (passage no. 294).
O friends of God! Though the Sun of Truth hath been obscured behind the clouds of glory; though these clouds have interposed themselves as veils, and the gloom of estrangement hath enveloped the earth; though every eye be in tears, every heart be afflicted with a burning torment, and every soul be sorely distressed; though the fire of bitter remorse hath flared up, and so consumed the vitals of men that they, for the most part, have grown weary of living, such that they now yearn for the heavenly rose-garden—yet on this night, the night of Yaldá,* the fire of the love of God burneth so fiercely within the friends that its heat hath warmed away the coldness of remoteness, and its flame hath devoured every trace of darkness. The Lord be praised, for the loved ones of God are aglow, even as brightly burning candles, and serve as guiding stars unto every gathering. They have kindled a fervid flame, and ignited a fresh fire. They have succeeded in rendering services at the sacred threshold; blessed are they, and glad tidings be theirs, both in the beginning and in the end.
O friends of God! Cherish with heart and soul this hope, and supplicate the Ever-Forgiving Lord that you may be aided to fulfill it: that you may each become a brilliant star in the firmament of guidance, a fruitful tree in the Most Glorious Paradise, a bright candle in the assemblages of spiritual ones, and an ornament of every gathering devoted to the divine.
O friends of ʻAbduʼl-Bahá! Our days are numbered—our lives destined to end. Should one not strive to exalt the Word of God, unbearable regret would he face in the end, and remoteness and loss would he come to feel. While there is yet life within you, then, you must be cup-bearers who proffer the spiritual wine. Strive with all your might, that you may cause leaves to flourish and fruits to be borne; that you may make buds to blossom and succeed in securing sustenance for yourselves; that the fire of love may enkindle you with a flame that will reach the Concourse on High—a flame that shall cause the denizens of the All-Glorious Kingdom to rejoice with exceeding gladness, move them to great rapture and ecstasy, and rouse them to fervent delight.
Upon you all be salutations and praise.
* It should be noted that shab-i-yaldá can also more figuratively denote a long and darksome night. This may well be the meaning intended here by ʻAbdu’l-Bahá, rather than the literal night of Yaldá.
A typescript of the complete Persian text of this Tablet appears below.
ای ياران الهی، هرچند شمس حقيقت در خلف سحاب جلال متواری گشت و سحاب نقاب شد و کيهان مانند شام غريبان گرديد چشم گريان و دل سوزان و کبد بريان شد آتش حسرت شعله زد و چنان دل و جان را بسوخت که اکثر نفوس از حيات بيزار شدند و آرزوی گلزار آسمان نمودند ولی در اين شب يلدا ياران بنار محبّت اللّه چنان شعله زدند که حرارتش برودت هجران را زائل نمود و شعلهاش ظلمت دهما را محو و فانی کرد. الحمد للّه احبّای الهی مانند شمع روشنند و بمثابۀ ستارۀ هادی انجمن، شعلۀ شديد زدند و نائرۀ جديد بر افروختند و بخدمات آستان مقدّس موفّق گشتند. طوبی لهم بُشری لهم فی المبدأ و المآل
ای ياران الهی، به جان و دل آرزو کنيد و تأييد از ربّ غفور نمائيد که هر يک در افق هدی کوکبی لامع شويد و در جنّت ابهی شجری مثمر گرديد و در انجمن روحانيان شمعی روشن شويد و در محفل رحمانيان زينت جمع و انجمن
ای ياران عبدالبهاء، ايّام سر آيد و حيات نپايد و اگر انسان در اعلاء کلمة اللّه نکوشد عاقبت حسرت اندر حسرت است و هجران و حرمان. پس تا نفخهای از حيات باقی بايد ساقی شد و بادۀ روحانی نوشاند. به جان و دل کوشيد که برگی برآريد و ثمری ببار آريد و شکوفهای نموده و توشهای گيريد و چنان بآتش عشق برافروزيد که شعلهاش بملأ اعلی رسد و اهل ملکوت ابهی را فرح و سرور دهد و جذب و طرب بخشد و به شوق و شعف آرد. و عليکم التّحيّة و الثّناء