Read: Lights of Guidance


LIGHTS OF GUIDANCE

A Baha'i Reference File

Compiled by Helen Hornby

© 1994 National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of Ecuador

First Edition, 1983

Second revised and enlarged edition, 1988

Third Revised Edition 1994



I. ADMINISTRATIVE ORDER



A. Administrative Order


[1] 1. Established First in America—Not American Production

"The Administrative Order of the Cause, though first established in America, copied as a model by other national Baha'i communities, is not an American production, but is a universal system based on the teachings of Baha'u'llah. It is not simply by coincidence however that it was first initiated and perfected by the American believers."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, October 29, 1938: Dawn of a New Day, p. 202)


2. Cannot Be Identified with Principles of Present-Day Democracies

"...The administrative order which lies embedded in the Teachings of Baha'u'llah, and which the American believers have championed and are now establishing, should, under no circumstances, be identified with the principles underlying present-day democracies. Nor is it identical with any purely aristocratic or autocratic form of government. The objectionable features inherent in each of these political systems are entirely avoided. It blends, as no system of human polity has as yet achieved, those salutary truths and beneficial elements which constitute the valuable contributions which each of these forms of government have made to society in the past...."

(Postscript written by the Guardian to a letter written on his behalf to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, November 18, 1933: The National Spiritual Assembly, p. 26)



B. Baha'i Administration


3. The Ideal Instrument to Make Spiritual Laws Function Properly

"He hopes you will devote as much of your spare time as possible to the work of the Cause, especially in impressing upon the believers the importance of the Administration and helping them to really understand its purpose and all it can achieve once they get it to function properly. In other words it is a perfect form which must be animated by the spirit of the Cause. It is the ideal instrument to make spiritual laws function properly in the material affairs of this world."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, June 16, 1945)


4. Purpose of Administration

"Your letter of October 19, 1973 giving a comprehensive survey of developments throughout Australia is of great interest and we commend you on your manifold efforts to promote the Faith throughout that vast continent.


[2] "We urge you ever to bear in mind that the purpose of Baha'i administration is primarily to lend strength and directive to the teaching work and to promote the establishment of the Faith. It should never be regarded as an end in itself but purely as a means to canalize and make effective a spiritual vitality generated by the Word of God in the hearts of the believers.


"The dedication and zeal with which you promote the Cause of God are highly commendable and we will pray at the Sacred Threshold that the process of expansion and consolidation will be greatly intensified as a result of your efforts."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Australia, November 12, 1973)


5. Social Order of Baha'u'llah

"...To accept the Cause without the administration is like to accept the teachings without acknowledging the divine station of Baha'u'llah. To be a Baha'i is to accept the Cause in its entirety. To take exception to one basic principle is to deny the authority and sovereignty of Baha'u'llah, and therefore is to deny the Cause. The administration is the social order of Baha'u'llah. Without it all the principles of the Cause will remain abortive. To take exception to this, therefore, is to take exception to the fabric that Baha'u'llah has prescribed; it is to disobey His law."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, May 30, 1930: Baha'i News, No. 43, August 1930, p. 3)


6. Relationship of the Cause to the Administration

"Regarding the relationship of the Cause to the Administration: The Baha'i Faith, as the Guardian himself has repeatedly and emphatically stated, cannot be confined to a mere system of organization, however elaborate in its features and universal in its scope it may be. Organization is only a means to the realization of its aims and ideals, and not an end in itself. To divorce the two, however, would be to mutilate the Cause itself, as they stand inseparably bound to each other, in very much the same relationship existing between the soul and body in the world of human existence."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, April 19, 1939)



C. Baha'i Local Spiritual Assemblies


7. Assemblies Ordained by Baha'u'llah

"Addressing the nations, the Ancient Beauty ordaineth that in every city in the world a house be established in the name of justice wherein shall gather pure and steadfast souls to the number of the Most Great Name (9). At this meeting they should feel as if they were entering the Presence of God, inasmuch as this binding command hath flowed from the Pen of Him Who is the Ancient of Days. The glances of God are directed towards this Assembly."

(Baha'u'llah: from a newly translated Tablet cited in The Local Spiritual Assembly, p. 6, compiled by the Universal House of Justice)


8. Established in Every City—Counsellors to the Number of Baha (9)

"The Lord hath ordained that in every city a House of Justice be established [3] wherein shall gather counsellors to the number of Baha (9), and should it exceed this number it does not matter...."

(Baha'u'llah: Kitab-i-Aqdas, K 30, p. 29)


9. Purpose of Spiritual Assemblies

"...These bodies have the sacred obligation to help, advise, protect and guide the believers in every way within their power when appealed to—indeed they were established just for the purpose of keeping order and unity and obedience to the law of God amongst the believers.

"You should go to them as a child would to its parents...."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, September 28, 1941: The Local Spiritual Assembly, compiled by the Universal House of Justice)


10. Their Defender is 'Abdu'l-Baha

"These Spiritual Assemblies are aided by the Spirit of God. Their defender is 'Abdu'l-Baha. Over them He spreadeth His wings. What bounty is there greater than this?... These Spiritual Assemblies are shining lamps and heavenly gardens, from which the fragrances of holiness are diffused over all regions, and the lights of knowledge are shed abroad over all created things. From them the spirit of life streameth in every direction. They, indeed, are the potent sources of the progress of man, at all times and under all conditions."

('Abdu'l-Baha: God Passes By, p. 332 and The Local Spiritual Assembly, pp. 6-7)


11. Assemblies Styled Differently in Future

"...Not only will the present-day Spiritual Assemblies be styled differently in future, but will be enabled also to add to their present functions those powers, duties, and prerogatives necessitated by the recognition of the Faith of Baha'u'llah, not merely as one of the recognized religious systems of the world, but as the State Religion of an independent and Sovereign Power...."

(Shoghi Effendi: The Baha'i World, Vol. III, p. 108)


12. Assembly Operates at First Levels of Human Society

"The divinely ordained institution of the Local Spiritual Assembly operates at the first levels of human society and is the basic administrative unit of Baha'u'llah's World Order. It is concerned with individuals and families whom it must constantly encourage to unite in a distinctive Baha'i society, vitalized and guarded by the laws, ordinances and principles of Baha'u'llah's Revelation. It protects the Cause of God; it acts as the loving shepherd of the Baha'i flock."

(Message from the Universal House of Justice to the Baha'is of the World, Naw-Ruz 1974, paragraph 13)


13. Strengthening of Local Spiritual Assemblies—Nerve Centres of Communities*

"Great attention should be paid to the strengthening of Local Spiritual Assemblies which must act as the nerve centres of the Baha'i communities in the towns and villages, promote Baha'i education of the youth and children, and increase cooperation and participation of the believers in Baha'i community life. Travelling teachers and all who are actively engaged in spreading the Message should rededicate themselves to their vital work and set out with [4] renewed enthusiasm. They should aim at assisting as large a number as possible of Baha'i communities to stand on their own feet and become capable of carrying out the thrilling tasks which they are called upon to discharge in the Vineyard of God in this Day."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of India, February 8, 1972)

___________________

*(See also: No. 1988)


14. Primary Purpose to Promote Teaching Work

"And since the primary purpose for which Local Spiritual Assemblies are established is to promote the teaching work, it is clear that every National Spiritual Assembly must give careful consideration to ways and means to encourage each Local Assembly under its jurisdiction to fulfil its principal obligation ... it is important that Local Assemblies share with the local friends stories of successes achieved by some of them, descriptions of effective presentations found useful by them, examples of various ways that a Baha'i subject could be introduced to inquirers, or illustrations of methods which would enable the believer to relate the needs of society to our teachings. Such information and suggestions could be offered to the friends at Nineteen Day Feasts, through a local newsletter, or by any means open to each Local Assembly. In all these contacts with the believers, each Local Spiritual Assembly should impress upon the friends the unique and irreplaceable role the individual plays in the prosecution of any Baha'i undertaking...."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to all National Spiritual Assemblies, March 3, 1977)


15. Areas Under Jurisdiction of Local Spiritual Assemblies—National Spiritual Assembly Must Study

"The matter of the areas under the jurisdiction of a Local Spiritual Assembly is one which the National Assembly must study, and apply the principles laid down by the Guardian; namely, that within a municipal area, where the people resident in the area pay taxes and vote, the Assembly can be elected, and holds jurisdiction. Anyone living outside of that area is not a member of that Community, and cannot enjoy the administrative privileges of that Community. Although this will affect your Assembly roll, it will place the work of the Faith on a much sounder basis, and increase the number of Centres where Baha'is reside... It will challenge the friends to work harder to create new Assemblies and make up for those dissolved...."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of Australia and New Zealand, June 13, 1956: Letters from the Guardian to Australia and New Zealand, pp. 130-131)


16. Local Spiritual Assemblies—Created by Baha'u'llah in His Kitab-i-Aqdas

"As to your query about the Local Spiritual Assembly, it is indeed a divine institution, created by Baha'u'llah in His Kitab-i-Aqdas as the Local House of Justice. 'Abdu'l-Baha has clearly set out its provenance, authority and duties and has explained the differences between it and other administrative institutions, whether of the past or the present. We refer you to the book 'Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Baha', sections 37, 38 and 40.


[5] "It is clear that while Local Spiritual Assemblies must supervise all Baha'i matters in their areas, including arrangements for the Nineteen Day Feast, the observance of the Holy Days, the election of the members of the Assembly, promoting the teaching work, caring for the spiritual welfare and Baha'i education of the friends and children, etc., they and the friends themselves must at the same time be good citizens and loyal to the civil government, whether it be a Tribal Council, a Cacique or a municipal authority."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Brazil, April 13, 1983)



D. Formation of Local Spiritual Assemblies


17. Forming Local Assemblies—Obligation to Establish

"Shoghi Effendi feels that in any locality where the number of adult believers reaches nine, a Local Assembly should be established. He feels this to be an obligation rather than a purely voluntary act. Only in exceptional cases has the National Spiritual Assembly the right to postpone the formation of an Assembly if it feels that the situation does not warrant such a formation. This right, however, should be exercised if the situation absolutely demands it. As to the principle according to which the area of jurisdiction of a Local Assembly is to be determined, he feels, this is to be the function of the National Spiritual Assembly; whatever principle they uphold should be fairly applied to all localities without any distinction whatever."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, April 11, 1931: Baha'i News, No. 55, September 1931, p. 1)


18. A Community of Nine Adult Believers Must Form an Assembly by Joint Declaration

"In reply to your letter of 28 October 1980 we are instructed to make the following points:

(1) There is nothing in the directives of the beloved Guardian or in the by-laws of Local Spiritual Assemblies to require that the joint declaration of a new Local Spiritual Assembly be signed. The way the declaration is made is within the discretion of the National Spiritual Assembly to determine, and it may or may not require signatures.

(2) Wherever at Ridvan there are nine or more adult believers resident in an area properly qualified for the establishment of a Local Spiritual Assembly, the Assembly must be formed at Ridvan.

(3) If the number of adult resident believers is exactly nine the Local Spiritual Assembly must be formed by joint declaration in a manner acceptable to the National Spiritual Assembly and the secretary of the National Spiritual Assembly will record the formation of the Local Assembly.

(4) When the Spiritual Assembly is to be formed for the first time and one or more of the adult believers refuses to join in the declaration, the Spiritual Assembly cannot be formed."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Iceland, December 2, 1980)


[6] 19. Duty of Every Baha'i to Take Part in Joint Declaration

"The statement that it is a condition to the formation of a Local Spiritual Assembly that there be at least nine adult believers who are ready, willing and able to serve on the Local Assembly, should not be construed as giving any Baha'i the right to refuse to take part in the formation of the Assembly. It is merely a statement of a factual condition. The National Baha'i Constitution specifies: 'When ... the number of Baha'is in any authorized civil area is exactly nine, these shall on April 21st of any year, or in successive years, constitute themselves the Local Spiritual Assembly by joint declaration. Upon the recording of such declaration by the Secretary of the National Spiritual Assembly, said body of nine shall become established with the rights, privileges and duties of a Local Spiritual Assembly...'. It can therefore be seen that it is the duty of every Baha'i in such a situation to take part in the joint declaration. If a Baha'i, however, refuses to do so he should be helped to realize that he has committed a grave dereliction of his Baha'i duty. In this stage of the development of the Cause a National Spiritual Assembly should not, generally, deprive a believer of his voting rights for such an offence, but should lovingly and patiently educate the friends in the importance of their responsibilities."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of New Zealand, October 12, 1969)


20. Believer Must Be "a Resident" to Participate in the Formation of a Spiritual Assembly—Unusual Cases as Exceptions

"To count as a member of a local Baha'i community for the purpose of forming or maintaining the Local Spiritual Assembly, a believer must be resident in that area of jurisdiction on the First Day of Ridvan. This is the principle. What constitutes 'residence' is a secondary matter for each National Spiritual Assembly to decide, but there is no exception to the principle that a believer must be resident in order to participate in the formation of the Spiritual Assembly.


"You will see from the above instruction that it is not possible for believers living outside the civil limits of a locality to count as members of that community. There are, of course, many unusual cases. For example, it may be that a university student spends some six months of the year in the town where his university is, and the other half-year in the home of his parents. In such a case it is normal to permit him to choose which of the two places is to count as his residence for Baha'i purposes; one cannot count as being 'resident' in two places at once. It is, moreover, not essential for a person to be physically present to be resident. There are many instances of a sailor or salesman who spends most of his time moving from place to place but who is indisputably resident in the town where his family lives. All such matters must be decided by the National Spiritual Assembly in the light of the circumstances of each case within the general framework of the definition of 'residence' that it adopts. Such a definition must, of course, be a reasonable one, otherwise the principle would be nullified."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of France, September 18, 1985)


21. Re-Formation by Election or Joint Declaration—Refusal of a Believer to Participate Does Not Prevent Re-Forming Assembly

"In subsequent years the Assembly must be re-formed each Ridvan, either by [7] election, if the number of voting believers exceeds nine, or by joint declaration if the number is exactly nine. The failure or refusal of a believer to take part in the joint declaration would not be a bar to the re-formation of the Assembly.


"Where the number of voting believers resident in a community falls below nine during the course of a year, the Local Spiritual Assembly is not automatically dissolved; it can continue in existence so long as the National Spiritual Assembly has the hope and expectation of being able to restore the number, by enrolment or pioneers. If, however, the number is not restored by the following Ridvan, the Assembly will lapse."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Canada, July 22, 1981)


22. Circumstances Under which an Assembly Should Not Be Immediately Dissolved

"He feels that where the dissolution of an Assembly is in question each case should be treated separately in this sense, that if a member moves away permanently, leaving less than 9 to function, the Spiritual Assembly should not immediately be dissolved if they, its members, see an immediate remedy in view; in other words if they are going to confirm soon, or receive within a reasonable length of time, someone to take the person's place, they need not give up Assembly status. If they do, for insurmountable reason, fall below Assembly status, then they can only be reconstituted on April 21st. Also if certain members temporarily absent themselves from meetings there is no need to dissolve the Assembly; on the contrary the reluctant ones should be educated and encouraged to reassume their spiritual obligations as believers. A Spiritual Assembly is not based on 9 people being available for every single meeting but on 9 resident Baha'is doing their best to discharge their duty to the Spiritual Assembly when they are not prevented by illness or absence or some legitimate reason for doing so."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, March 31, 1945)


23. Members of Lapsed Assembly Are Responsible to Notify National Secretary

"...any Assembly which is dissolved must immediately report to the national secretary, who must always keep an up-to-date list of Assemblies. Any dissolved Assembly cannot be reconstituted until the time of election in April...."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, April 13, 1944: The Covenant and Administration, p. 62)


24. Spiritual Assembly Jurisdictions Changes As Civil Units Are Modified

"The general principle is that Local Spiritual Assemblies may be formed in the smallest civil administrative units of the country. If these areas are enlarged or reduced in size by the Government the area of jurisdiction of the Local Spiritual Assembly should likewise be changed."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Zambia, June 8, 1978)


25. Assemblies Cannot Be Formed in Prison

"...the Hands of the Cause residing in the Holy Land have shared with us [8] a portion of the February 3rd letter of ... referring to teaching in the prison in ... and to the formation of Local Assemblies in cell blocks. While this teaching work is commendable those who accept Baha'u'llah under these conditions cannot undertake administrative responsibilities, nor can Local Assemblies be formed in prisons. However, they may observe Nineteen Day Feasts, Baha'i Holy Days, and other Baha'i events. When they return to their own communities they may participate in administrative affairs as well."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Ecuador, February 9, 1972: Extract from a letter written to another National Spiritual Assembly, June 11, 1964)


26. Qualifications of Assembly Members—Subject to Human Limitations

"With reference to your next question concerning the qualifications of the members of the Spiritual Assembly: There is a distinction of fundamental importance which should be always remembered in this connection, and this is between the Spiritual Assembly as an institution, and the persons who compose it. These are by no means supposed to be perfect, nor can they be considered as being inherently superior to the rest of their fellow believers. It is precisely because they are subject to the same human limitations that characterize the other members of the community that they have to be elected every year. The existence of elections is a sufficient indication that Assembly members, though forming part of an institution that is divine and perfect, are nevertheless themselves imperfect. But this does not necessarily imply that their judgment is defective."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, November 15, 1935)


27. Qualifications Outlined Applicable to Anyone Elected

"In regard to your question about qualifications of delegates and Assembly members: The qualifications which he outlines are really applicable to anyone we elect to a Baha'i office, whatever its nature. But these are only an indication, they do not mean people who don't fulfill them cannot be elected to office. We must aim as high as we can."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of the British Isles, October 24, 1947: The Spiritual Character of Baha'i Elections, p. 3)


28. Auxiliary Board Members, Eligibility of

"All adult Baha'is, including members of the Auxiliary Board, are eligible to vote in elections for delegates or in elections for members of the Local Spiritual Assembly."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Uganda and Central Africa, April 10, 1966)


29. Board Members May Serve on Assembly Temporarily*

"In all three areas of election, Auxiliary Board members are eligible to be elected. Therefore, a ballot should not be invalidated because it contains the name of a member of an Auxiliary Board. The basic principle involved is that the Board member himself must decide whether or not to accept his election. As you have stated in your letter, if the membership in a Baha'i community drops to nine, including the Auxiliary Board member resident there, the Auxiliary [9] Board member may serve temporarily as a member of the Assembly to preserve its Assembly status."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, March 25, 1966, cited in the compilation, Auxiliary Board Members)

___________________

*(See also: Nos. 91-92)


30. Annual Elections Provide Opportunity to Remedy Defects the Assembly May Suffer

"For as 'Abdu'l-Baha has repeatedly emphasized Baha'i Assemblies are under the guidance and protection of God. The elections, specially when annual, give the community a good opportunity to remedy any defect or imperfection from which the Assembly may suffer as a result of the actions of its members. Thus a safe method has been established whereby the quality of membership in Baha'i Assemblies can be continually raised and improved. But, as already stated, the institution of the Spiritual Assembly should under no circumstances be identified with, or be estimated merely through, the personal qualifications of the members that compose it."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, November 15, 1935)


31. Absence of Nomination in Baha'i Elections—A Distinguishing Feature

"As to the practice of nomination in Baha'i elections, this the Guardian firmly believes to be in fundamental disaccord with the spirit which should animate and direct all elections held by the Baha'is, be they of a local or national character and importance. It is, indeed, the absence of such a practice that constitutes the distinguishing feature and the marked superiority of the Baha'i electoral methods over those commonly associated with political parties and factions. The practice of nomination being thus contrary to the spirit of Baha'i Administration should be totally discarded by all the friends. For otherwise the freedom of the Baha'i elector in choosing the members of any Baha'i Assembly will be seriously endangered, leaving the way open for the domination of personalities. Not only that, but the mere act of nomination leads eventually to the formation of parties—a thing which is totally alien to the spirit of the Cause."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, February 4, 1935)


32. Baha'i Electoral Procedures Develop Spirit of Responsibility

"In addition to these serious dangers, the practice of nomination has the great disadvantage of killing in the believer the spirit of initiative, and of self-development. Baha'i electoral procedures and methods have, indeed, for one of their essential purposes the development in every believer of the spirit of responsibility. By emphasizing the necessity of maintaining his full freedom in the elections, they make it incumbent upon him to become an active and well-informed member of the Baha'i community in which he lives."

(Ibid.)


33. Freedom of Believers to Choose—Should Be Choicest, Most Varied Elements

"...I do not feel it to be in keeping with the spirit of the Cause to impose any limitation upon the freedom of the believers to choose those of any race, [10] nationality or temperament, who best combine the essential qualifications for membership of administrative institutions. They should disregard personalities and concentrate their attention on the qualities and requirements of office, without prejudice, passion or partiality. The Assembly should be representative of the choicest and most varied and capable elements in every Baha'i community."

(From a letter of the Guardian to an individual believer, August 11, 1933: The Spiritual Character of Baha'i Elections, p. 3)


34. Believers Should Become Intelligent, Well-Informed and Responsible Electors*

"To be able to make a wise choice at the election time, it is necessary for him to be in close and continued contact with all of his fellow-believers, to keep in touch with all local activities, be they teaching, administrative or otherwise, and to fully and whole-heartedly participate in the affairs of the local as well as national committees and assemblies in his country. It is only in this way that a believer can develop a true social consciousness, and acquire a true sense of responsibility in matters affecting the interests of the Cause. Baha'i community life thus makes it a duty for every loyal and faithful believer to become an intelligent, well-informed and responsible elector, and also gives him the opportunity of raising himself to such a station. And since the practice of nomination hinders the development of such qualities in the believer, and in addition leads to corruption and partisanship, it has to be entirely discarded in all Baha'i elections."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, February 4, 1935)

___________________

*(See also: No. 68)


35. Canvassing is Deprecated

"The strength and progress of the Baha'i Community depend upon the election of pure, faithful and active souls.... Canvassing is deprecated....

"Baha'i elections of the Community are ... sanctified from all traces of canvassing and plotting that characterize the activities of the perfidious."

(From a letter of Shoghi Effendi to the friends in Persia, April 9, 1932: The Spiritual Character of Baha'i Elections, p. 3)


36. Reference to Personalities Before Election

"I feel that reference to personalities before the election would give rise to misunderstanding and differences. What the friends should do is to get thoroughly acquainted with one another, to exchange views, to mix freely and discuss among themselves the requirements and qualifications for such a membership without reference or application, however indirect, to particular individuals, but should stress the necessity of getting fully acquainted with the qualifications of membership referred to in our Beloved's Tablets and of learning more about one another through direct, personal experience rather than through the reports and opinions of our friends."

(From a letter of Shoghi Effendi to the Spiritual Assembly of Akron, Ohio, May 14, 1927: Principles of Baha'i Administration, p. 46)


37. Avoid Intrigues

"Beware, beware lest the foul odour of the parties and peoples of foreign lands in the west, and their pernicious methods, such as intrigues, party politics and [11] propaganda—practices which are abhorrent even in name—should ever reach the Baha'i Community, exert any influence whatsoever upon the friends, and thus bring all spirituality to naught. The friends should, through their devotion, love, loyalty and altruism, abolish these evil practices, not imitate them. It is only after the friends completely ignore and sanctify themselves from these evils, that the spirit of God can penetrate and operate in the body of humanity, and in the Baha'i Community."

(From a letter of the Guardian to the friends in Persia, January 30, 1923: The Spiritual Character of Baha'i Elections, p. 1)


38. Election Day

"On the election day the friends must whole-heartedly participate in the elections, in unity and amity, turning their hearts to God, detached from all things but Him, seeking His guidance and supplicating His aid and bounty."

(From a letter of the Guardian to the friends in Persia, February 27, 1923: The Spiritual Character of Baha'i Elections, p. 1)


39. Prayer and Reflection Before Voting

"...the elector ... is called upon to vote for none but those whom prayer and reflection have inspired him to uphold. Moreover, the practice of nomination, so detrimental to the atmosphere of a silent and prayerful election, is viewed with mistrust, inasmuch as it gives the right ... to deny that God-given right of every elector to vote only in favour of those who he is conscientiously convinced are the most worthy candidates."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, May 27, 1927: Baha'i Administration, p. 136)


"...in the time of election, the friends should be in the mood of prayer, disinterestedness and detachment from worldly motives. Then they will be inspired to elect the proper members to the assemblies."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, June 7, 1924)


40. Procedure for Voting by Mail

"The same procedure in voting should be followed, namely, the ballot should be placed and sealed in an unmarked inner envelope and that envelope placed in an outer envelope marked with the name of the voter..."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to all National Spiritual Assemblies, January 21, 1973)


41. No Quorum Required for Election of an Assembly

"No quorum is required in the holding of an election for a Local Spiritual Assembly. This rule also applies in the case of by-elections. The mere fact that less than nine vote for the members of the Local Spiritual Assembly does not invalidate the election.


"As you know, the National Assembly can always look into the circumstances surrounding a Local Spiritual Assembly election and use its discretion in determining whether, considering all circumstances, the existence of the Local Spiritual Assembly should be recognized."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Ecuador, April 16, 1969)


[12] 42. Baha'i Elections for Spiritual Assemblies—Cast Nine Votes, Neither More nor Less*

"Concerning the question you have asked as to whether in elections for Spiritual Assemblies the electors should cast exactly nine votes, or may cast less than this number. Inasmuch as Spiritual Assembly membership, according to the principles of Baha'i Administration, has been limited for the present to nine members, it follows that no electoral vote can be effective unless it is cast for exactly that number. It is, therefore, the sacred duty of every Baha'i elector to cast nine votes, neither more nor less, except under special circumstances so as to insure that the results of the elections for the Spiritual Assembly will be effective and on as wide a basis of representation as possible."

(From a letter dated March 27, 1940 written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of the British Isles)

___________________

*(See also: Nos. 80-95)


43. Believer Has Right to Vote for Himself

"A believer has the right to vote for himself during the election time, if he conscientiously feels the urge to do so. This does not necessarily imply that he is ambitious or selfish. For he might conscientiously believe that his qualifications entitle him to membership in a Baha'i administrative body, and he might be right. The essential, however, is that he should be sincere in his belief, and should act according to the dictates of his conscience. Moreover, membership in an assembly or committee is a form of service, and should not be looked upon as a mark of inherent superiority or a means for self-praise."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of India, Pakistan and Burma, March 27, 1938: Dawn of a New Day, pp. 200-201)


44. Votes Confidential

"One's vote should be kept confidential. It is not permissible to make any reference whatsoever to individual names. The friends must avoid the evil methods and detestable practices of the politicians. They must turn completely to God, and with a purity of motive, a freedom of spirit and a sanctity of heart, participate in the elections; otherwise the outcome will be chaos and confusion, serious difficulties will ensue, mischief will abound and the confirmation of God will be cut off."

(From a letter of the Guardian to the friends in Persia, January 16, 1932: The Spiritual Character of Baha'i Elections, p. 2)


45. Secret Ballot

"Let them exercise the utmost vigilance so that the elections are carried out freely, universally and by secret ballot. Any form of intrigue, deception, collusion and compulsion must be stopped and is forbidden."

(From a letter of the Guardian to the friends in Persia, January 16, 1932: The Spiritual Character of Baha'i Elections, p. 2)


46. Results of Election Should Be Accepted

"...Once Assembly elections are over, the results should be conscientiously and [13] unquestionably accepted by the entire body of the believers, not necessarily because they represent the voice of truth or the will of Baha'u'llah, but for the supreme purpose of maintaining unity and harmony in the Community. Besides, the acceptance of majority vote is the only effective and practical way of settling deadlocks in elections. No other solution is indeed possible."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, July 10, 1939)


47. Breaking of Tie Votes

"Regarding your question about the breaking of tie votes, a balloting to break such a tie vote for members of a Spiritual Assembly may be held after the first day of Ridvan if necessary, but obviously the day of balloting should not be delayed too long."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of El Salvador, July 4, 1972)


48. If Enrolled Believer Withdraws—Subsequently Elected to Spiritual Assembly

"Regarding your last question, if, prior to local elections an enrolled believer withdraws from the Faith and this leads to the removal of his name from Baha'i membership, and yet he is subsequently elected to the Local Assembly, such votes as have been cast in his name are disregarded without invalidating the remaining votes on the ballots. If, however, the process of withdrawal has not taken place, that is, the believer refuses on the day of election to participate and expresses then his desire to withdraw from the community, and yet he is subsequently elected to the Assembly, since his withdrawal is generally unknown to the friends, in such a case the remaining eight elected members should meet, consider the withdrawal, and if his name has to be removed from Baha'i membership, a by-election should be held to fill the vacancy."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Ecuador, December 11, 1979)


49. Mass Migrations

"Local Assemblies cannot be formed any time during the year, unless it is for the first time. The House of Justice fully understands the problems you face each year in forming the ... Assemblies due to the mass migration of the friends during the pine nuts harvest. However, the Assemblies in that area cannot be elected before January 15 or after May 15, as you have suggested. We have noted from your letter that not all of the ... friends may migrate to the higher regions during the Ridvan period, which means that those remaining at home may hold elections. Those Baha'is who leave their homes and are absent during the Ridvan period may leave their votes with those believers remaining behind, who will on the First Day of Ridvan count the ballots and report the results of the election to the National Spiritual Assembly or its representative.


"If all the friends from one Spiritual Assembly jurisdiction go away to work at different locations and there is nobody left in the village to receive their votes, they may write out their ballots before dispersing and send them to the National Assembly or to any committee appointed by that body, who at Ridvan will open and count the votes and inform the Baha'is when they return home of those elected to the Local Assembly.


[14] "When the entire Baha'i population of a village moves away together to a new location and is absent during the Ridvan period, they may elect their Assembly at Ridvan and function as a Local Assembly when they return home."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Chile, January 1, 1984)


50. When Conditions Beyond Human Control Prevent Election of Assembly at Ridvan

"Local Spiritual Assemblies which have not been re-elected during the Ridvan period must be considered as groups. However, there may be cases when conditions beyond the control of the local believers exist, such as, as you have said, the Baha'is had left the community because of flooding, or extremely inclement weather conditions made it impossible to hold the election. In such cases which, by their very nature, should be rare, the National Spiritual Assembly may use its discretion in recognizing the Local Spiritual Assembly, considering it a group, or decide to hold the election of such Local Spiritual Assemblies at a later date when the friends have returned to their communities."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Ecuador, September 5, 1983)


51. Should Guide Believers During Year in Proper Administrative Procedures

"The conditions of limited manpower, of difficulties in travelling and of illiteracy among the local people are found in varying degrees in other countries of the world, and we have always and everywhere urged the National Spiritual Assemblies concerned to guide and teach the friends in proper Baha'i administrative procedures, not only during the weeks immediately preceding local elections but indeed throughout the year, so that the friends would await the advent of Ridvan with anticipation and determine to observe and uphold correct principles of Baha'i administration."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly, September 24, 1973)



E. Annual Conventions


52. The Functions of the National Convention

"The assembled delegates at a National Convention have two basic functions—to elect and to recommend...."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, June 8, 1967)


"...The function of the Convention is purely advisory and though the advice it gives is not binding in its effects on those on whom rest the final decision in purely administrative matters, yet, the utmost caution and care should be exercised lest anything should hamper the delegates in the full and free exercise of their functions. In discharging this sacred function no influence whatever, no pressure from any quarter, even though it be from the National Assembly, should under any circumstances affect their views or restrict their freedom. The delegates must be wholly independent of any administrative agency, must [15] approach their task with absolute detachment and must concentrate their attention on the most important and pressing issues."

(From letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, August 18, 1933: The National Spiritual Assembly, pp. 23-24)


53. Election of Delegates to National Conventions

"As you are aware, some national communities elect their delegates to the National Convention on the basis of areas which have Local Spiritual Assemblies, while in other, larger, national communities delegates are elected on the basis of electoral units in which all adult believers have the vote.


"In view of the growth of the Faith and the developing life of the Baha'i communities, the Universal House of Justice has decided that, notwithstanding that in some countries the number of believers and of Local Spiritual Assemblies is still small, the time has come for delegates to National Conventions everywhere to be elected on the basis of electoral units, but with the option of introducing certain differences from the procedures followed to date. These differences are explained below and are designed to make the system adaptable to the variations in the make-up of the many Baha'i communities and in the geography of the lands in which they are situated.


"When establishing the electoral unit basis for the election of delegates, a National Spiritual Assembly should divide the territory under its jurisdiction into electoral units, based on the number of adult Baha'is in each area, in such a way that each unit will be responsible for electing preferably one delegate only.


"In addition to the voting, the opportunity for consultation with the delegates is important. Hitherto this has been achieved by calling a convention in each unit to which all the believers in that electoral unit are invited. The voting for delegates has then taken place at the unit conventions with provision for voting by mail for those who do not attend. In some areas these meetings have been very fruitful and have helped to foster collaboration among the believers in the unit. However, in other areas, no doubt for a number of reasons, attendance at unit conventions has been very low, as has been the voting by mail, and this has meant that the delegates have been elected by a relatively small proportion of the electorate. National Assemblies are free to call unit conventions if they find they are successful, but if they find problems of attendance they may follow the alternative method described below.


"Where holding unit conventions has proved ineffective, or does not seem to be a viable procedure, a National Assembly may divide each electoral unit into sub-units of a convenient size. A meeting could then be held in each sub-unit to which all the adult believers residing therein would be invited. This should result in the participation of a large number of the believers. It is important to remember, however, that the delegate to be elected represents the entire unit and therefore, although the voting may be carried out in sub-units, each voter has all the adult believers resident in the entire unit to choose from in voting for the delegate.

"In some countries, it may even be too difficult to expect the believers throughout a sub-unit to gather together at a certain time, and so it would not be practical to hold sub-unit meetings. In such places a central point in each sub-unit could be chosen for the establishment of a polling station to which the friends would come to leave their ballots on the voting day as and when they can do so.


[16] "Each National Spiritual Assembly should study and master the broad outlines of this system. All matters of detail should be decided by the National Assembly which should ensure that the friends are fully informed and thoroughly understand what they are expected to do. The help and advice of the Counsellors and their Auxiliary Board members and assistants could be sought in working out these details and in educating the friends. It may also be desirable for the National Assembly to appoint a special national committee to organize the elections and to oversee them through unit or sub-unit committees or representatives. Such matters of detail could include the following:


—The number of delegates to be allocated to each unit. Although one for each unit is preferable, this may not be practicable in certain instances, such as in a unit which contains one or more very large local communities. In such cases it may be necessary to make the unit large enough to be the electoral base for two or possibly three delegates.


— The number and size of sub-units. These could be as many as there are Local Spiritual Assemblies in a unit, the boundaries being so delineated as to include the surrounding isolated believers and Baha'i groups. It may even be necessary in some remote areas to have sub-units in which there are no Local Spiritual Assemblies.


— The body to be responsible for organizing a unit convention or sub-unit meeting or for establishing and supervising a polling station. This could be a centrally located, firmly established Local Spiritual Assembly or a committee.


— The day or days on which the elections should take place. Elections could be carried out in different sub-units on different days, extended over a reasonable period of time, if this is felt to be desirable.


— The manner in which ballots are to be cast, collected, counted, and consolidated with other ballots from the same unit.


— Procedures to be followed in consultation, if the procedure chosen allows for consultation.


— A method for monitoring the balloting to ensure that proper Baha'i procedures are followed, that the ballots are safeguarded, and that a Baha'i voter cannot cast more than one ballot.


— The procedure for holding a second ballot should there be a tie-vote for the delegate.


— The means for announcing to the friends in all units the names of their elected delegates.


"It is the hope of the Universal House of Justice that the implementation of these instructions this year and thereafter will promote Baha'i solidarity, broaden the basis of representation at the National Conventions and that thereby the work of the Faith in each country will be characterized by greater efficiency and enhanced harmony."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to all National Spiritual Assemblies, July 21, 1985)


54. Area of Assembly Jurisdiction Not to be Subdivided for Electoral Districts

"The Universal House of Justice has received your letter of 14 April 1986 and [17] has instructed us to confirm the principle that the area of jurisdiction of a Local Spiritual Assembly should not be sub-divided by boundaries of districts for the election of delegates to the National Convention. We are asked to explain the policy in more detail, as follows.

"The basic guideline for the fixing of the boundaries of electoral districts which was given in the letter of 21 July 1985 was that a National Spiritual Assembly should divide the territory under its jurisdiction into electoral units, based on the number of adult Baha'is in each area, in such a way that each unit will be responsible for electing preferably one delegate only. Later in the letter it was further clarified that although one delegate for each unit is preferable, this may not be practicable in certain instances, such as in a unit which contains one or more very large local communities. In such cases it may be necessary to make the unit large enough to be the electoral base for two or possibly three delegates.

"In some national Baha'i communities which are comparatively small numerically in relation to the number of delegates allocated for their National Conventions, it may be found that, to avoid sub-dividing localities (i.e., the areas of jurisdiction for Local Spiritual Assemblies), it will be necessary to have some electoral districts elect more than three delegates. This does not matter, as long as the principle of proportionality is followed as closely as possible."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of France, June 3, 1986)


55. Delegates Assigned According to Numerical Strength

"Delegates must be assigned according to the numerical strength of a Baha'i community uniformly in all parts of the country. The question as to whether the friends are active or not is not to be taken into consideration; all persons accepted by you as Baha'is must be included on the voting list. Of course, if some of the believers cannot be found after reasonable efforts have been made to locate them, they need not be counted on the voting list."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of French Guiana, January 20, 1987)


56. Inactivity Does Not Justify Removing Name from Voting List

"Mere inactivity on the part of a believer does not justify removing his name from the voting list. Neither is it in accordance with Baha'i principles to take into account the degree of activity in allocating delegates. Believers whose whereabouts are unknown should be considered quite separately from those who are inactive, and a distinction is to be made between those who are interested in the Faith but remain inactive and those whose inactivity indicates complete lack of interest to the extent that they no longer consider themselves to be Baha'is."

(Ibid.)


57. Replacement of Delegates

"There is no provision in the National Baha'i Constitution for replacement of a delegate and this is, therefore, a matter left to the decision of each National Spiritual Assembly. In general, one of the following procedures is followed. If a delegate dies or becomes unable to serve before Convention, the believer polling the next highest number of votes may replace him, or another election may be [18] held. If a delegate ceases to be able to serve after the Convention and there is need for a by-election to the National Spiritual Assembly, you may decide whether or not the delegate should be replaced, and if so, how. In the event of an elected delegate removing to another place, either before or after Convention, you may decide whether to replace him or allow him to continue as an elected delegate. Whatever procedure is adopted should be uniformly followed in all such cases."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Argentina, July 3, 1973)


58. National Spiritual Assembly Determines Timing in Respect to Unit Conventions

"...all matters of detail concerning Unit Conventions are left to the discretion of the National Spiritual Assembly and this includes the timing of the allocation of delegates and the holding of the Unit Conventions. The House of Justice points out, however, that the allocation of delegates should be left as late as possible so that the National Assembly will be able to take into consideration any increases in membership which would affect the number of delegates assigned."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Kenya, March 29, 1987)


59. Consultation Between Delegates and the National Spiritual Assembly

"I fear this letter will reach you after the closing of the convention, but I hope that it will serve to assure you of the necessity of adopting for future conventions the essential method of a full, frank and unhampered consultation between the National Assembly and the assembled delegates. It is the vital duty of the delegates to unburden their hearts, state their grievances, disclose their views, and explain their motives. It is the duty of the National Assembly to give earnest, prompt and prayerful consideration to the views of the delegates, weigh carefully their arguments and ponder their considered judgements, before they resort to voting and undertake to arrive at a decision according to the dictates of their conscience. They should explain their motives and not dictate; seek information and invite discussion."

(From a postscript to a letter dated April 13, 1927, written by the Guardian to the Spiritual Assembly of Montreal, Canada: Extracted in Baha'i News, No. 18, June 1927, p. 3)


60. Status of Members of the National Spiritual Assembly at the National Convention

"Concerning the status of members of the N.S.A. at Convention sessions, the Guardian feels that the members of both the incoming and the outgoing assemblies should be given the full right to participate in the Convention discussions. Those members of the N.S.A. who have been elected delegates will, in addition to the right of participation, be entitled to vote. The Guardian wishes thereby to render more effective the deliberations and the recommendations of the national representatives. He feels that the exercise of such a right by the members of the N.S.A. will enable them to consult more fully with the assembled delegates, to exchange fully and frankly with them their views, and to consider collectively [19] the interests, needs and requirements of the Cause. This, he believes, is one of the primary functions of the Convention."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, December 25, 1933)


61. Preferably Delegates Attend Convention in Person

"...It should, however, be made clear to every elected delegate—who should be continually reminded—that it is a sacred responsibility and admittedly preferable to attend if possible in person the sessions of the Convention, to take an active part in all its proceedings, and to acquaint his fellow-workers on his return with the accomplishments, the decisions and the aspirations of the assembled representatives of the ... believers."

(From a letter written by the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, October 24, 1925: Baha'i Administration, pp. 91-92)


62. If Delegate Cannot Pay Own Expenses

"...In the matter of attendance of delegates at Conventions, the desirability of the friends themselves being self-supporting should be pointed out by the National Assembly. If a delegate cannot pay his own expenses in attending the Convention, the Local Assembly or the believers in the electoral unit from which the delegate comes should be encouraged by the National Assembly to defray such expenses, so that only when funds are unavailable from those sources, the National Assembly is approached to consider offering financial assistance. The same principle holds true about other activities, such as attendance at Institutes, Conferences and Summer Schools."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to a number of National Spiritual Assemblies, February 9, 1967)


63. New Blood Adds to Energy of the Group

"Shoghi Effendi has never said that the members of the National Assembly have to be renewed partially every year. The important thing is that they should be properly elected. It would be nice if there should be new members elected, for new blood always adds to the energy of the group and will keep up their spirit. But this depends entirely upon the will of the delegates as represented in the result of their voting."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, April 27, 1932: Baha'i News, No. 67, October 1932, p. 4)


64. Election of New Members on the National Spiritual Assembly—Duty of Friends to Acquaint Themselves with Fellow Believers

"As regards the election of new members on the National Assembly, Shoghi Effendi finds no other practical method that is in conformity with the spirit of the teachings, except through better acquaintance of the friends during the annual conventions and summer schools. It is the duty of the individual friends to come to know one another and find out who are the persons best fitted to become members of that body. This is a slow process but surely the best one and gives the greatest amount of freedom of choice to the electors. It is the duty of the friends individually to become more intelligent voters and vote only after studying the situation conscientiously."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, March 16, 1933)


[20] 65. Consultation Among Delegates of a Region Prior to Convention—No Objection, if the Baha'is Are Mature Enough

"The House of Justice sees no objection to consultation among the delegates of a region prior to the Convention, if they wish to undertake this. Indeed, one of the important functions of a Regional Convention, at which the delegates are elected, is for the delegates to consult with the believers present so that they may be familiar with their views and interests in preparation for their own participation in the National Convention. As you know, any believer at the National Convention can request a delegate to put forward a point for him, and the delegate is free to do this if he so wishes; likewise, there would be no objection to one delegate's speaking on behalf of all the delegates from his region to save time, if they and he agree. On the other hand, one must remember that the National Convention is a national Baha'i institution, and that every delegate should have in the forefront of his mind the interests and needs of the Cause throughout the nation, not merely those of the region from which he happens to have been elected. All these details are secondary matters, not covered in the National Baha'i Constitution, and therefore it is for the National Spiritual Assembly to make decisions where they are called for. In one country the delegates may be mature enough to have prior consultation in regional groups; in another it might indeed lead to 'caucusing' or other undesirable developments. The National Spiritual Assembly must ensure that not merely the letter but also the spirit of Baha'i elections and consultation is upheld."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, October 26, 1983)


66. National Spiritual Assembly Present as an Institution at the National Convention

"The National Spiritual Assembly is present at the Convention as an institution, and its members are present as individual participants in the consultations. These two facts are not incompatible. All the delegates and the members of the National Spiritual Assembly should take part in the Convention in the spirit of free, frank, loving Baha'i consultation. Most Baha'is perform many different functions in their lives. Very often a member of the National Assembly is also a delegate, a member of a Local Assembly, a member of one or more committees, and possibly also an assistant to an Auxiliary Board member. These multiple functions should not prevent him from expressing his views frankly and courteously in any consultation."

(Ibid.)


67. Only Delegates May Vote in the National Convention

"Only the delegates may vote at the National Convention, whether it be in the election of the National Spiritual Assembly or in arriving at decisions. Some decisions at the Convention can be implemented immediately, such as a decision to send a cable of news or greetings to the World Centre or to another Baha'i body, but most are decisions on whether or not to make a specific recommendation to the National Spiritual Assembly."

(Ibid.)


[21] 68. Each Voter Must Vote for the Nine Best Suited for Election—Not Betray Sacred Trust*

"It is a basic principle of elections for Baha'i Spiritual Assemblies that each voter must vote for the nine people who, in his or her opinion, are best suited to serve. He may have a low opinion of all those who are eligible, but his duty is to vote for those nine from among them who, in his estimation, best meet the standards for service on a Spiritual Assembly. This is how it is possible to vote for exactly nine names. Since the membership of an Assembly is nine, it would give rise to a number of statistical anomalies if voters were permitted to record votes for fewer or more than nine names. In any one election there are not usually many cases where a voter accidentally makes a mistake and includes a name of an ineligible person, so the statistical effect is slight, and there is no need to invalidate his whole ballot. As you point out, a believer who does not wish to vote for nine, may achieve his end by purposely including the names of those who are ineligible, but this would be a betrayal of the trust placed in him as a Baha'i voter. One cannot control such actions, but like any action contrary to the spirit of the Faith, they are detrimental and should be strongly discouraged."

(Ibid.)

___________________

*(See also: No. 34)


69. National Convention Must Be Convened During Ridvan

"Concerning the dates of your National Convention, the Convention must begin, and the election of the National Assembly must take place, before sundown on 2nd May. It is permissible to extend the Convention beyond May 2nd, as long as it is convened during Ridvan."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Paraguay, June 22, 1986)


70. Election of National Spiritual Assembly to be Held at Midpoint in the Convention

"It was noted that although you held a Convention of two days' duration, the election of the new National Spiritual Assembly was scheduled to take place immediately after the election of Convention officers; that is very early in the program. You should know that Shoghi Effendi stated that the election of the National Spiritual Assembly should be held as nearly as possible at the midway point of Convention."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Chile, July 17, 1983)


71. National Teaching Conference and National Convention Should Not Be Held at the Same Time

"In response to your letter of 25th June 1982 asking whether or not it would be permissible to hold a national teaching conference either simultaneously with the National Convention or in the days immediately before or following the Convention, we have been asked by the Universal House of Justice to inform you that the National Convention, for whatever number of days it is arranged, should be independent of a national teaching conference. They should not be [22] held simultaneously, but whether the conference is held before or after the Convention is left to your discretion."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Ecuador, July 22, 1982)


72. Attendance Record of National Spiritual Assembly Members May Be Provided to Convention Delegates

"In the matter of reporting to the delegates to the National Convention on the attendance record of the outgoing National Spiritual Assembly, the House of Justice confirms that this is entirely within the discretion of your National Assembly. You could, if you wish to do so, include this information in the National Assembly report to the Convention. The same guidance applies to providing information to the believers in a local community about the attendance record of the members of the outgoing Local Spiritual Assembly."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Mexico, July 26, 1981)


73. Workshops During National Convention Not Suitable

"He does not feel that workshops are suitable at the National Convention, the time at the disposal of the delegates is short, and the whole purpose of delegates to a Convention is that as a body they should take up the affairs of the Cause presented for discussion and air ideas and make recommendations. No doubt the workshop itself is a good technique and should be used at summer schools and even if found desirable, at Conferences, but for the Convention it is out of place."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, August 25, 1949: Baha'i News, No. 226, December 1949, p. 2)


74. Delegates Have Specific Administrative Duties

"The delegates have specific administrative duties to perform as a body and to divide them into smaller groups to consult upon matters which are the business of the Convention as a whole is not correct, particularly as the time of the delegates is limited."

(Ibid.)


75. Non-Delegate Can Be Permitted to Address Convention—Permissiveness Not to be Abused

"If a suggestion that a non-delegate be permitted to address the Convention is approved by the delegates, this is in order. The National Assembly, however, should be careful that such a permissiveness is not abused, as it will defeat the original purpose of stimulating the delegates and deprive them of the limited time at their disposal to engage in their vital deliberations. The delegates should bear in mind that they have business to attend to, and in all such cases the benefits of the Convention should be considered."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Argentina, September 18, 1968)


76. Auxiliary Board Members Present at National Convention

"Auxiliary Board members present at a National Convention do not have the [23] privilege of the floor unless deputized by the Continental Board of Counsellors or given the privilege of the floor by the Convention."

(To all Continental Boards of Counsellors from the Universal House of Justice, March 25, 1969)


77. Desirable Auxiliary Board Members Be Left Free from Administrative Duties

"National Assemblies in whose areas of jurisdiction Board Members reside, should point out to the delegates at Convention that whilst teaching and administrative duties are not mutually exclusive, it is desirable that Auxiliary Board Members, whether for teaching or protection, be left free to concentrate on the work allotted to them.... The following extract from the Guardian's letter, written through his secretary, could be shared with the delegates for their guidance when casting their votes:


"'Teachers of the Cause can surely become members of any Assembly or Committee. There should be no incapacity attached to them. But, Shoghi Effendi would just prefer to see them devote all their time to teaching and leave the administrative functions for those who cannot serve as teachers.' (Baha'i News, October 1932)"

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to all National Spiritual Assemblies, November 25, 1963)


78. Hands of the Cause and Counsellors' Participation in Conventions

"We ask you to extend a cordial invitation to the Continental Board of Counsellors of your area to attend each of your Annual Conventions. All Counsellors present at a Convention should be accorded the same freedom of the Convention as is given to the Hands of the Cause. If no Counsellors can attend a Convention, they may appoint for that Convention one or two Auxiliary Board Members to act as their special deputies, who should be warmly welcomed and given the courtesy of taking part in the Convention as representatives of the Board of Counsellors."

(Ibid., March 25, 1969)


79. Counsellors Ineligible for Membership on Administrative Bodies

"The members of these Boards of Counsellors will serve for a term, or terms, the length of which will be determined and announced at a later date, and while serving in this capacity will not be eligible for membership on national or local administrative bodies...."

(The Universal House of Justice: Wellspring of Guidance, pp. 141-142)



F. Instruction of Tellers, Priority of Minorities Approval of Outgoing Assembly*


80. Tellers Should Be Given Guidelines—Recording of Identical Names

"It is for your National Assembly to determine how to properly instruct the delegates beforehand in the recording of identical names on ballots and to give the tellers guidelines for handling these questions when they arise in the counting of the ballots. Thereafter, it is for the tellers to make the decision and give the results to the Convention or Assembly....


Q. [24] In the case of a tie between five persons for three vacancies should the names of the five be read for the delegates vote?


A. Yes.


Q. In voting for officers is it permissible to read the names of those persons who have tied?


A. When voting for officers of an Assembly a result is only reached when one member receives five or more votes. Until that result is reached all members are eligible for the office in question and the results of all inconclusive ballots should be made known to the meeting."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Jamaica, July 29, 1971)

____________________

*(See also: Nos. 31-41)


81. Convention Procedure in Connection with Tellers' Report

"Normal Convention procedure would call for a tellers' report announcing the names of the nine believers elected to the National Spiritual Assembly plus statistical information as to the balance of the votes cast. However, if the Convention votes to have the complete report of the tellers, or any part of it, the Convention is entitled to have the information which will thereupon be presented by the tellers in accordance with the vote of the Convention."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, December 16, 1965)


82. Under Certain Conditions One or More Names May Be Invalidated*

"Under certain conditions an entire ballot may be declared invalid. These are: (1) More than nine names on ballot paper; (2) Less than nine names on ballot paper; (3) Duplication of names. Under other conditions, because of specified irregularities, one or more of the names may be invalidated but the rest of the ballot would be considered valid. These irregularities are: (1) A name not identifiable, or illegible; (2) The name of an ineligible person, such as a youth or person not resident in the jurisdiction of the voting area, provided of course that each ballot contains no more or less than nine names and no name has been duplicated."

(From a letter dated July 29, 1971 from the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Jamaica)

___________________

*Ballot should not be invalidated because it contains name of Auxiliary Board Member (See Nos. 28-29)


83. Minority Accorded Priority Without Question

"Since the Guardian's instruction on this point is unequivocal where it is obvious that one of the persons involved represents a minority, that person should be accorded the priority without question. Where there is doubt further balloting will allow every voter present to participate.

"With reference to the provision in Article V of the National By-laws governing the situation where two or more members have received the same highest number of votes, if one of those members represents a minority that individual should be given priority as if selected by lot."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, January 25, 1967)


[25] 84. Definition of Minority and Majority at Discretion of the National Spiritual Assembly

"...the definition of a minority in any locality is in the discretion of the National Spiritual Assembly. It is clear that pioneers from other lands should not be regarded as belonging to a minority, neither do the categories quoted by the Guardian in 'The Advent of Divine Justice', namely, 'faith, race, class or nation', include sex. The overriding principle is always that if there is any doubt as to whether the minority principle should be invoked, then a further ballot should be taken."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United Kingdom, March 5, 1986)


85. Results Reported to National Assembly for Acceptance and Instruction to Tellers About Re-Voting

"In answer to your question about who should decide this matter, the House of Justice states that it is the duty of the tellers to report the entire result of the voting to the National Spiritual Assembly which has a duty of accepting the tellers' report before it is presented to the Convention. If the National Assembly sees that the ninth place is tied and that one of the persons tied is a member of a minority, it would instruct the tellers to report the results on this basis without calling for a re-vote. If, however, there is any doubt at all as to whether a minority is involved, the Assembly should resolve the matter by instructing that a re-vote for the ninth place should be held."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Switzerland, April 13, 1975)


86. Only Names of Those Tied Appear on Subsequent Ballots

"Following the voting in an election of an Assembly, Local or National, results of the balloting should be announced, including the names of those tied for ninth place. A new ballot must then be cast to decide between those who have received the same number of votes for ninth place. Only those who are tied to be voted for on that ballot, and the tie may be broken by the delegates present at the Convention."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of The Bahamas, May 18, 1982)


87. How to Report a Tie

"It is not correct to show that Senorita ... received 13 votes. If she is to be listed among those receiving votes on the first ballot it should be shown that she was tied for ninth place with 6 votes and that on the second ballot she received 13 of the votes cast."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Colombia, June 16, 1964)


88. First, New Assembly Must Consider Whether to Accept Resignation

"...your Assembly should first have considered whether to accept Miss ... resignation, and then, if the Assembly had accepted her resignation, the vacancy should have been filled by a by-election in which all ... delegates should have been given an opportunity to vote. It is only a tie vote that may be broken [26] by a vote of those delegates present at Convention, not a by-election unless, of course, all delegates are present."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly, July 6, 1981)


89. By-Election Can Be Held During Convention Only if All Delegates Are Present

"If a by-election is necessary, however, all delegates must be given an opportunity to vote. If all delegates are present at the Convention, the by-election can of course take place at one of the sessions. If there are absent delegates, the by-election can still be arranged so that the delegates present may cast their ballots before the Convention disbands, and ballots from absent delegates be received at a later date."

(Ibid., May 18, 1981)


90. Tie for Ninth Member of the National Spiritual Assembly

"In the case of a tie for the ninth member of a National Spiritual Assembly, a vote can be held immediately at the Convention among the delegates present, to break the tie. However, if a vacancy is declared at the Convention because a resignation of one of the members of the newly elected National Assembly is accepted, a by-election must be called, i.e., all delegates must be given an opportunity to vote for someone to fill the vacancy."

(Ibid., June 13, 1976)


91. Duty of Auxiliary Board Member to Advise Assembly, Not Delegates, that He Will Not Serve

"The Auxiliary Board member ... should have been listed as elected and given the opportunity to decide whether to continue to serve on the Board or to resign and accept the election to the administrative body. It is his duty to advise the National Assembly itself and not the delegates or the Convention. If he decides to remain on the Board, and the National Assembly declares a vacancy while Convention is still in session, a by-election could be arranged before the Convention disbands."

(Ibid., June 26, 1978)


92. Board Members Should Not Resign Before a Tie-Breaking Vote is Cast

"A Board Member should not be given the opportunity to resign before a tie-breaking vote is cast since there are other factors involved and it is possible that he may not be elected. However, if he is elected, he should advise the National Assembly of his decision to accept the elected post or continue his role as an Auxiliary Board member. If he resigns from the Assembly, then that body declares a vacancy and arranges for a by-election."

(Ibid.)


93. Preservation of Ballots

"In the minutes of your meetings of ..., the Universal House of Justice noted the items about 'Ballots of the Third National Assembly Election' and your instruction to the Secretary to destroy the ballots. We are directed to convey the following to you for your guidance.

"While it is within the discretion of a National Spiritual Assembly to determine what to do about preservation of the ballots following the annual election, the [27] House of Justice points out that should any question concerning the balloting arise during the year following the election, it would be helpful if the ballots were available for National Spiritual Assembly scrutiny. Obviously, after the next following election, such need to preserve the ballots cast in the previous year's election would no longer exist."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly, July 22, 1980)


94. Assembly Has Right to Examine Ballots

"He considers that the National Spiritual Assembly has every right to examine the ballots if there is some doubt as to the election having been properly conducted. By 'preservation' of the ballots is meant that they are preserved in the National files."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of Australia and New Zealand, March 14, 1947)


95. Delegates Should Be Given Opportunity to Report to the Community

"A Convention delegate should certainly be given an opportunity to report to the Community his or her experiences at Convention and impressions!"

(Ibid.)



G. Officers of Local and National Assemblies


96. If All Members Present, Permanent Officers Should Be Elected Immediately

"While it is certainly true that the permanent officers of an Assembly should be elected immediately following the election of that Assembly, it is equally important, as stated in Article IV of the By-laws of the National Assembly, that 'The officers shall be elected by a majority vote of the entire membership of the Assembly taken by secret ballot.' That is all members of the Assembly must be properly notified and given an opportunity to vote, and in cases of unavoidable absence it does not contravene the spirit of the By-laws if the absent member should cast his ballot by mail or even by telephone.


"Temporary officers may be elected until all nine are properly notified of the election."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly, July 27, 1981)


97. Assembly or Committee Members May Excuse Themselves from Being Elected as Officers

"We have also been asked to point out that although it is the obligation of a Baha'i to serve on an Assembly, either Local or National, when elected, on several occasions the beloved Guardian pointed out that before the election of officers, if any member had a good reason in his own opinion why he should not be elected to one of the offices of the Assembly, he was free to suggest that he should not be so elected. The House of Justice also feels that as the work of the Faith expands and the duties of officers, particularly on National Spiritual Assemblies, acquire more importance, it is permissible and at times advisable to discuss the duties incumbent upon and required of each officer before ballots are cast."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, February 9, 1987)


[28] 98. It is Preferable that a Person Hold No More Than One Office

"...we are asked to say it is preferable that a person hold no more than one office, but it is within the discretion of your Assembly to permit a member to hold two offices.


"Regarding the specific instance you have cited, you should consider carefully whether one person can effectively perform as both Chairman and Secretary, given the requirements of each office."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Togo, July 4, 1984)


99. Complete Results of Each Vote Must Be Known to All Members of the Assembly Present

"The complete results of each vote should be known to all members of the Assembly. Therefore, the names and tally should be given by the tellers, and if no member has received the required majority, the members should proceed to vote again. Voting should not be confined to those receiving the highest number of votes."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, August 4, 1981: cited in a letter to the National Spiritual Assembly of Mexico, September 2, 1981)


100. The Integrity of the Elector Must Be Relied Upon

"You will note in the above extract that the tellers should report both names and tally. The House of Justice suggests that we must rely on the integrity of the elector to consider dispassionately those names he lists on his ballot, irrespective of the results of the previous balloting."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Mexico, September 2, 1981)


101. Any Officer Elected Must Have Received at Least Five Votes

"Any officer elected must have received at least five votes, even if only five members are present. The ballots of any absentee members cannot be counted if re-voting is necessary. If for any reason no member receives five votes, then the Assembly must in consultation appoint one or more temporary officers to function until the next meeting, and must call another meeting as soon as possible to elect permanent officers."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the Local Spiritual Assembly of Guaynabo, Puerto Rico, September 26, 1983)


102. The Chairman of the Assembly

"Concerning the duties of the Chairman of the Local Spiritual Assembly or the National Spiritual Assembly: He is supposed to share, freely and fully, in the discussions of all subjects under the consideration of these bodies, and to register his vote regarding each one of them. The duty of a Baha'i Chairman is not only to guide the course of the discussion, but also to express his own viewpoint without any reservation whatever. He is entitled to exercise both of these functions."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, October 10, 1936)


[29] 103. The Vice-Chairman

"The Universal House of Justice has asked us to advise you that the appropriate procedure would be for the Vice-Chairman of the Assembly to chair the meetings in the absence of the Chairman. If the Vice-Chairman happens to be also absent, then the Assembly should decide who among the members present should chair the meeting."

(From a letter on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Ciskei, February 10, 1987)


104. Duties of the National Secretary

"The proper growth of a community is possible only when the National Spiritual Assembly, through its office and secretary, is able to maintain a steady flow of communication to the believers in its jurisdiction, offering guidance and encouragement to them. Every effort should be made to enable the National Assembly secretary to discharge his or her duties without being hampered by too many administrative regulations. The manner in which this is done, of course, is left to the discretion of each National Spiritual Assembly.


"A key factor in determining how much responsibility is to be placed on the secretary is trust. When there is trust and love among the members of the Assembly, many problems will be avoided. The National Assembly secretary should be empowered to take the initiative in matters of a routine nature. It is not normally necessary for the secretary's letters to be scrutinized by other members of the Assembly although they may always have access to such correspondence."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Bangladesh, September 21, 1983)


105. The Secretary of the National Spiritual Assembly is Its Chief Executive Officer

"Whatever the personal circumstances of the believer employed, the National Assembly should realize that its Secretary is its chief executive officer, and as such acts not only as liaison with the national committees, the Local Spiritual Assemblies and all the friends, but generally represents the National Spiritual Assembly and the Faith itself to the non-Baha'i world, a duty becoming ever more important as the Cause becomes more widely known."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Italy, January 23, 1981)


106. Full-Time Services of Secretary May Require Remuneration, about which the Agreement Should Be Duly Recorded

"A national Baha'i community which reaches that stage of development where the work of its National Spiritual Assembly requires the full-time services of its Secretary, faces many difficult, and sometimes delicate, considerations. It is generally a thought-provoking occasion to the community itself, which has become used to the work of the Cause being discharged by voluntary, dedicated, part-time and often amateur service; and the realization that the Cause has reached the point where its work and public image—so important to future progress—can no [30] longer be maintained in the old way, may be disturbing at first. The friends, however, quickly respond to the new capacity for leadership and guidance and the increased status which its National Assembly acquires by establishing a sounder foundation for its operations, and are encouraged by the advancement of the Cause.


"The specific remuneration and conditions of service of the national Secretary must obviously be the result of consultation, and when agreement has been reached the result should be recorded, not necessarily in a contract, but certainly in a Minute of the Assembly and/or an exchange of letters."

(Ibid.)


107. Secretary's Helper Can Be Non-Member of Assembly

"In reply to your letter of November 7th, 1973 there is no objection whatsoever to a non-member of the National Spiritual Assembly typing your Minutes or such other confidential reports. Many National Spiritual Assemblies employ typists in their national offices who are intimately connected with all the work of the National Spiritual Assembly. Of course, the person so employed should enjoy the confidence of the National Spiritual Assembly."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Gilbert and Ellice Islands, November 20, 1973)


108. Secretariat Should Be Situated in the Capital City

"He was sorry that he felt it necessary to insist that the secretary of your Assembly must be located in Buenos Aires so that the Secretariat can be located in the Headquarters of this region; this is a general principle which he has insisted the friends adhere to everywhere...."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, Paraguay and Bolivia, July 29, 1957: The National Spiritual Assembly, p. 43)


109. National Secretary Should Keep in Close Touch with Local Assemblies

"Shoghi Effendi firmly believes that consultation must be maintained between the N.S.A. and the entire body of the believers and that such a consultation, when the Convention is not in session, can best be maintained through the agency of the local assemblies, one of whose essential functions is to act as intermediaries between the local communities and their national representatives."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi: Principles of Baha'i Administration, pp. 67-68)


110. Contents of Minutes

"The content of some of the minutes we receive could be improved, and we therefore offer the following suggestions: The purpose of the minutes is to record the action of the Assembly with sufficient background information so that one reading the minutes will understand the reason for the action. National Assemblies may find it helpful if the background and the action are separated and not typed together. On the other hand, minutes should not be a verbatim report of the National Assembly meeting, and it is not the purpose of the minutes to record the views of individual members. Names of individuals making motions need not be recorded. Names should be included, however, whenever required to [31] make clear the assignments of persons responsible for actions. Each set of minutes should reflect the time and place of the next meeting."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to all National Spiritual Assemblies, May 27, 1970)


111. Secretary Should Be Careful to Convey Majority Decision

"Generally speaking the Secretary of an Assembly must be careful to convey exactly what the majority decision or advice of the body was. There can surely be no objection to his putting it in proper terms and clarifying the matter according to the decisions or instruction of the Assembly. But he should of course not introduce his personal views unless endorsed by the Assembly."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, October 19, 1947)


112. Treasurer of the Spiritual Assembly Receives All Donations and Contributions

"And as the progress and execution of spiritual activities is dependent and conditioned upon material means, it is of absolute necessity that immediately after the establishment of local as well as National Spiritual Assemblies, a Baha'i Fund be established, to be placed under the exclusive control of the Spiritual Assembly. All donations and contributions should be offered to the Treasurer of the Assembly, for the express purpose of promoting the interests of the Cause, throughout that locality or country. It is the sacred obligation of every conscientious and faithful servant of Baha'u'llah who desires to see His Cause advance, to contribute freely and generously for the increase of that Fund...."

(From a letter of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, dated March 12, 1923: Baha'i Administration, pp. 41-42)


113. Handling of Funds*

"As to your question: The friends can give their contributions to the treasurer, or, if they wish to remain anonymous and give small sums, a receptacle can be provided. The Local Assembly can decide this matter."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, September 29, 1951: Baha'i Funds and Contributions, a compilation of extracts from the Guardian's letters on the subject dated January 1970, from the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assemblies of the World)

___________________

*(See also: XXI. C. 857-866)


114. Obligation of a Baha'i Who is Elected to an Office which Requires Full-Time Service

"The Universal House of Justice has received your letter mailed 23rd January, 1987 concerning the obligation of a Baha'i who is elected to an office which requires full-time service. We are asked to share with you an excerpt of a letter dated 7th August 1980 written on behalf of the House of Justice addressed to an individual believer facing a problem similar to the one you pose.


'The delicate balance between the claims of the Cause of God and the claims of one's profession is an intensely personal matter which can only be resolved eventually in the heart and soul of each individual. Many Baha'is have become, and are, distinguished in their professions and at the same time have rendered and are rendering great services to the Cause and it is obviously possible to [32] achieve distinction in one's profession and calling and to serve the Cause of God at the same time. The House of Justice realizes, however, that circumstances can conspire, at critical times in the fortunes of the Faith, to require individuals to make the heart-searching decision of sacrificing one's own prospects for the apparent good of the Cause. Here again, the history of the Cause provides many examples of believers who have willingly foregone promotion in, or even the continued practice of, their professions in order to meet the needs of the Faith. As in all difficult decisions facing individual believers, the God-given process of consultation is available to them, and every individual may consult either one of the institutions of the Faith or an individual officer, such as a Counsellor or Board member, or even one or two friends of his own choosing. Even then, however, the eventual decisions rests with the individual himself.'"

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, February 9, 1987)


115. Those Elected to an Assembly Should Consider It a Privilege and a Responsibility to Serve

"...those who have been elected to such membership should consider it a privilege and also a responsibility to serve in that body, and should therefore refrain from any resignation, even though they may disagree with the majority of the members. Obedience to the considered views and policies of the majority should be whole-hearted, for it implies obedience and loyalty to the Administrative Order itself."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, May 8, 1939)


116. Procedure for Assemblies When Dissatisfied with Officers

"As regards the question of what procedure the Baha'i Assemblies should adopt when dissatisfied with the services of any of their officers. Should such dissatisfaction involve the loyalty of an Assembly officer to the Faith, he should, following a majority vote, be dismissed. But in case the dissatisfaction is due to the incompetence of a member, or simply to a neglect on his part to discharge his duties, this does not constitute sufficient justification to force his resignation or dismissal from the Assembly. He should be kept in office until new elections are held."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of the British Isles, November 22, 1940: The National Spiritual Assembly, p. 42)



H. Local and National Administrators


117. Functions and Duties of Elected Representatives

"...Their function is not to dictate, but to consult, and consult not only among themselves, but as much as possible with the friends whom they represent. They must regard themselves in no other light but that of chosen instruments for a more efficient and dignified presentation of the Cause of God. They should never be led to suppose that they are the central ornaments of the body of the Cause, intrinsically superior to others in capacity or merit, and sole promoters of its teachings and principles. They should approach their task with extreme humility, and endeavour by their open-mindedness, their high sense of justice and duty, [33] their candour, their modesty, their entire devotion to the welfare and interests of the friends, the Cause, and humanity, to win not only the confidence and the genuine support and respect of those whom they serve, but also their esteem and real affection. They must, at all times, avoid the spirit of exclusiveness, the atmosphere of secrecy, free themselves from a domineering attitude, and banish all forms of prejudice and passion from their deliberations."

(From a letter of the Guardian to the Baha'is of America, February 23, 1924: Baha'i Administration, p. 64)


118. They Must Uphold the Standard of Justice

"In all cases submitted for its consideration the Assembly must uphold the standard of justice in delivering its verdict, and in all its dealings with the community and the outside world it must strive to evince the qualities of leadership. The following quotation from a letter of the Guardian summarizes in simple terms the immediate goal every Assembly should set for itself in its efforts to pursue the exalted standard of perfection inculcated in our writings:


'The first quality for leadership both among individuals and Assemblies is the capacity to use the energy and competence that exists in the rank and file of its followers. Otherwise the more competent members of the group will go at a tangent and try to find elsewhere a field of work and where they could use their energy. 'Shoghi Effendi hopes that the Assemblies will do their utmost in planning such teaching activities that every single soul will be kept busy'. 


"(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, dated August 30, 1930)"

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Bolivia, July 30, 1972)


119. Administrators of Faith Like Shepherds

"The administrators of the Faith of God must be like unto shepherds. Their aim should be to dispel all the doubts, misunderstandings and harmful differences which may arise in the community of the believers. And this they can adequately achieve provided they are motivated by a true sense of love for their fellow-brethren coupled with firm determination to act with justice in all cases which are submitted to them for their consideration."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, March 9, 1934: The Local Spiritual Assembly, p. 23)


120. The Ones in Real Authority Known by Humility and Self-Sacrifice

"The ones in real authority are known by their humility and self-sacrifice and show no attitude of superiority over the friends. Some time ago a tablet was written stating that none are appointed to any authority to do anything but to serve the Cause as true servants of the friends—and for this no tablet is necessary; such service when true and unselfish, requires no announcement, nor following, nor written document. Let the servant be known by his deeds, by his life! To be approved of God alone should be one's aim."

('Abdu'l-Baha in the Holy Land answers questions of Dr. Edward C. Getsinger and recorded by Dr. Getsinger at the time (1905): Star of the West, Vol. VI, No. 6, p. 43)


[34] 121. Keynote of Cause of God Not Dictatorial Authority

"Let us also bear in mind that the keynote of the Cause of God is not dictatorial authority but humble fellowship, not arbitrary power, but the spirit of frank and loving consultation. Nothing short of the spirit of a true Baha'i can hope to reconcile the principles of mercy and justice, of freedom and submission, of the sanctity of the right of the individual and of self-surrender, of vigilance, discretion, and prudence on the one hand, and fellowship, candor, and courage on the other."

(Shoghi Effendi: Baha'i Administration, pp. 63-64)


122. Assemblies Should Influence Believers to Confidently Present Their Problems

"...You are no doubt aware of the exhortations of the beloved Guardian concerning the attitude that National Assemblies must endeavour to maintain in their dealings with the friends under their jurisdiction. He indicated that a National Assembly should be like a loving parent, watching over and helping its children, and not like a stern judge, waiting for an opportunity to display his judicial powers.

"Shoghi Effendi has pointed out the National Assemblies must assume such a role as to influence the believers to confidently take their problems to the Assembly, and to respect and unhesitatingly obey its wishes and decrees. The Assemblies should evidence not even the least trace of dictatorial assertiveness, but should remember that most of the sins of the believers are the sins of immaturity. These friends should be nursed and assisted into a fuller understanding of their responsibilities as Baha'is and encouraged to conduct themselves in a Baha'i manner."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Venezuela, June 3, 1979)


123. Breach of Trust by Assembly Members Will Destroy Confidence of Believers

"...regarding the extent to which confidential information about believers may be shared with other believers for their protection, and we offer in reply the following considerations:

1. Any information which comes to the notice of an Assembly member, solely by reason of his membership on that Assembly must not be divulged by that member, even though the Assembly itself may later decide to share it.


2. The Assembly must itself carefully consider which information should rightly fall in the category of confidential information and which should not be shared with others, and which information may be divulged under special circumstances, and how such information may be divulged. Should confidential matters regarding personal problems be freely shared with others, upon application, the confidence of the believers in the Assembly and its members will obviously be destroyed.


3. It must be remembered that individuals can reform, and a reprehensible past does not necessarily disqualify a believer from building a better future.


"Within the general framework of these principles, we feel you should be able [35] to handle each case as it may come to your attention. No hard and fast rule should be laid down in such cases, as each case requires careful handling, sound judgement and utmost discretion."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, September 18, 1968)


124. Administrative Efficiency Should Be Accompanied by an Equal Amount of Love

"Administrative efficiency and order should always be accompanied by an equal degree of love, of devotion and of spiritual development. Both of them are essential and to attempt to dissociate one from the other is to deaden the body of the Cause. In these days, when the Faith is still in its infancy, great care must be taken lest mere administrative routine stifles the spirit which must feed the body of the Administration itself. That spirit is its propelling force and the motivating power of its very life.


"But as already emphasized, both the spirit and the form, are essential to the safe and speedy development of the Administration. To maintain full balance between them is the main and unique responsibility of the administrators of the Cause."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, December 10, 1933)


125. Administrators Should Consider Themselves as Mere Channels Whereby God Protects and Guides His Faith

"The Cause ... is a divine institution whose responsible administrators should consider themselves as mere channels whereby God protects and guides His Faith. The Administration should never be allowed to become a bone of contention between individuals and groups. It stands above human personalities and transcends the scope of their limited and inevitably selfish ideas. Its custodians should continually purge themselves of every trace of personal desire or interest and become wholly imbued with the spirit of love, of cooperation and of genuine self-sacrifice."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, August 8, 1933)


126. National Spiritual Assembly is Supreme Authority, Mainspring of Activities, Sole

"I wish to reaffirm, in clear and categorical language, the principle already enunciated upholding the supreme authority of the National Assembly in all matters that affect the interests of the Faith in that land. There can be no conflict of authority, no duality under any form or circumstances in any sphere of Baha'i jurisdiction whether local, national or international. The National Assembly, however, although the sole interpreter of its Declaration of Trust and by-laws, is directly and morally responsible if it allows any body or institution within its jurisdiction to abuse its privileges or to decline in the exercise of its rights and prerogatives. It is the trusted guardian and the mainspring of the manifold activities and interests of every national community in the Baha'i world. It [36] constitutes the sole

(Postscript by Shoghi Effendi to a letter written on his behalf to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, June 11, 1934)


127. Obedience to the National Spiritual Assembly is the Basis for Unity

"...the Guardian wishes me to again affirm his view that the authority of the National Spiritual Assembly is undivided and unchallengeable in all matters pertaining to the administration of the Faith ... and that, therefore, the obedience of individual Baha'is, delegates, groups, and assemblies to that authority is imperative, and should be whole-hearted and unqualified. He is convinced that the unreserved acceptance and complete application of this vital provision of the Administration is essential to the maintenance of the highest degree of unity among the believers, and is indispensable to the effective working of the administrative machinery of the Faith in every country."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, June 11, 1934)


128. The National Spiritual Assembly is the Head and the Local Spiritual Assemblies Are the Various Organs

"...the best way to insure and consolidate the organic unity of the Faith is to strengthen the authority of the Local Assemblies and to bring them within the full orbit of the National Assembly's jurisdiction. The National Assembly is the head, and the Local Assemblies are the various organs of the body of the Cause. To insure full cooperation between these various parts is to safeguard the best interests of the Faith by enabling it to counteract those forces which threaten to create a breach within the ranks of the faithful. This is the delicate and highly significant mission with which the Guardian wishes to entrust you. Not only to teach the outsiders, through public lecturing, but in addition to that, and in view of making your efforts more varied and successful, to acquaint the friends with the essentials of the Administration, upon the full understanding of which the future progress of the Cause greatly depends."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, September 20, 1933)


129. Vital Function of National Spiritual Assembly

"...It is one of the vital functions of the National Spiritual Assembly to be always in touch with local conditions in every community and to endeavour through personal contacts and by means of regular correspondence, to guide the friends, individually and collectively, in all their activities."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, January 30, 1938: The National Spiritual Assembly, p. 33)


130. Authority and Influence of Assemblies Must Be Strengthened

"...the steady progress and consolidation of the Cause of God on the one hand and progressive disintegration of a moribund world on the other—will undoubtedly impose upon us new tasks, the obligation of devising new approaches to teaching, of demonstrating more clearly to a disillusioned world the Baha'i way of life and making more effective the administrative institutions of the Faith. The authority [37] and influence of National and Local Spiritual Assemblies will have to be strengthened in order to deal with larger Baha'i communities...."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the Baha'is of the World, Ridvan, 1971: Messages from the Universal House of Justice, 1968-1973, p. 72)


131. A "Best" Assembly

"...The best Assembly is the one that capitalizes the talents of all the members of the group and keeps them busy in some form of active participation in serving the Cause and spreading the Message."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, August 1932: Baha'i News, No. 68, November 1932, p. 3)


132. Centralization of Authority Made Manifest in Master's Will

"The need for the centralization of authority in the National Spiritual Assembly, and the concentration of power in the various local Assemblies, is made manifest when we reflect that the Cause of Baha'u'llah is still in its age of tender growth and in a stage of transition; when we remember that the full significance of the Master's world-wide instructions, as laid down in His Will, are as yet not fully grasped, and the whole Movement has not sufficiently crystallized in the eyes of the world."

(Shoghi Effendi: Baha'i Administration, p. 42)


133. Fundamentals of Baha'i Administration Must Be Adhered to

"The fundamentals laid down in the Baha'i Administration must, of course, be adhered to, but there is a tendency for Assemblies to constantly issue detailed procedures and rules to the friends, and he considers this hampers the work of the Cause, and is entirely premature. As far as is possible cases which come up should be dealt with and settled as they arise, and not a blanket ruling be laid down to cover all possible similar cases. This preserves the elasticity of the Administrative Order and prevents red tape from developing and hampering the work of the Cause... Uniformity in fundamentals is essential but not in every detail. On the contrary, diversity, the solving of the local situation in the right way, is important."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of Canada, November 4, 1948: Messages to Canada, pp. 8-9)


134. Tendency of All National Assemblies to Over-Administer

"Your Assembly must be very careful not to over-load the Baha'is with rules and regulations, circulars and directions. The purpose of the Administration at this time is to blow on the fire newly kindled in the hearts of these people who have accepted the Faith, to create in them the desire and capacity to teach, to facilitate the pioneer and teaching work, and help deepen the knowledge and understanding of the friends. The beloved Guardian issues this word of warning, as long experience has shown that it is a tendency on the part of all N.S.A.'s to over-administer. In their enthusiasm they forget that they only have a handful of inexperienced souls to guide, and attempt to deal with their work as if they had a large population to regulate! This then stifles the spirit of the friends and the teaching work suffers."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of North East Asia, July 15, 1957: Japan Will Turn Ablaze!, p. 67)


[38] 135. It is Not Necessary to Anticipate Situations

"...It is not necessary for your Assembly to anticipate situations which have not arisen, and to lay down general rules and regulations to meet them. It would be wiser to consider every case individually as it arises, and then to resolve the problem connected with it in the most suitable and practical manner...."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, November 27, 1937: The National Spiritual Assembly, p. 49)


136. Over-Administration Worse than Under-Administration

"...Over-administration can be even worse for the Faith at this time than under-administration. The believers are, for the most part, young in the Cause, and if they make mistakes it is not half as important as if their spirit is crushed by being told all the time—do this and don't do that! The new National Body should be like a loving parent, watching over and helping its children, and not like a stern judge, waiting for an opportunity to display his judicial powers. The reason he points this out to you is that constantly, for the past twenty years and more, he has been pointing this out to the old and tried National Assemblies, and he does not want the younger bodies to make the same mistakes. Individual cases should be dealt with as they arise, according to the Teachings, of which the believers have quite sufficient available to handle all of their problems at this time, and no more additional rules and regulations need be introduced."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of Alaska, June 30, 1957: The National Spiritual Assembly, p. 52)


137. National Spiritual Assemblies Should Be Uncompromising in Principle But Flexible in Procedures

"In the Baha'i Faith there are matters of principle affecting the operation of Baha'i institutions, which are outlined in the writings of the Faith as well as in the Constitutions of National and Local Spiritual Assemblies. Obviously, National Assemblies will face situations and problems which have to be resolved but are not fully covered by these texts. In such matters the National Assembly should adopt its own procedures suited to the conditions and requirements of its own national community. It may be found useful to adopt a procedure followed by another National Spiritual Assembly; certainly there is no objection to such a course of action, provided it is clear that in the final analysis such issues are left to the discretion of the National Assembly itself.


"In matters of principle, therefore, there should be uniformity, while in matters of detail and procedure not only is diversity permitted, it is also encouraged. As conditions vary from country to country and, indeed, can vary from community to community within the country, Shoghi Effendi repeatedly advised the friends that they should be uncompromising in principle but flexible in subsidiary details."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Burundi, October 22, 1986)


138. National Assembly is Guardian of the Welfare of the Faith

"The National Assembly is the guardian of the welfare of the Faith, a most sacred and heavy responsibility and one which is inescapable. They must be ever vigilant, ever on the lookout, ever ready to take action, and, on all matters [39] of fundamental principle, refuse to compromise for an instant. Only in this way can the body of the Faith be free of disease."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of Germany and Austria, August 14, 1957: The National Spiritual Assembly, p. 61)


139. Tendency of Late-Comers to Belittle Work Done

"...So often ... situations arise because there is a tendency, very human but not very kind, for late-comers to belittle the work done by the first believers and hurt their feelings. Those responsible therefore, for carrying on the work, must be extremely tactful and loving in their efforts to prevent a rift from occurring. It is very difficult for the administrators of the Cause to learn to be absolutely impartial, patient and wise, and very difficult for the believers to learn to give up personal will to the will of the majority! But this is Baha'u'llah's standard, and they must all constantly strive to attain it."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the Inter-America Committee, March 28, 1950)


140. Each Believer Should Have Access to Communications from World Centre of His Faith

"The importance of communicating the progress of the Faith to every individual believer can hardly be over-emphasized. Learning of the victories achieved by the valiant souls who have arisen to serve Baha'u'llah can inspire others and can create a sense of world perspective which raises one's sights above his own petty pre-occupations and makes being a Baha'i more meaningful and purposeful.


"Each believer should have access, for example, to the communications from the World Centre of his Faith—the Messages from the Universal House of Justice and the Hands of the Cause as well as news emanating from the World Centre."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to National Spiritual Assemblies in Latin America, Africa and the South Pacific, August 28, 1965)


141. Legal Standing for Spiritual Assemblies*

"It is surely very important to give to the Local Assemblies some legal standing for as the Cause progresses and its adherents increase, they will be confronted with duties they cannot even imagine at present. Not only will they have to make contracts for acquiring halls for their meeting place, but also they will be obliged to create new institutions to care for their sick, poor and aged people. We hope that before long the Baha'is will even afford to have schools that would provide the children the intellectual and spiritual education as prescribed in the Writings of Baha'u'llah and the Master."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, December 25, 1931: Principles of Baha'i Administration, p. 47)

___________________

*(See also: I.G., Nos. 224-231)


142. Local Assemblies Should Give Teachers Every Encouragement

"Regarding the principle that the Cause must not be allowed to centre around any Baha'i personality, the Guardian wishes to make it clear that it was never intended that well qualified individual teachers should not receive from Local Assemblies every encouragement and facilities to address the public. What the [40] Guardian meant was that the personality and popularity of such a speaker should never be allowed to eclipse the authority, or detract from the influence of the body of the elected representatives in every local community. Such an individual should not only seek the approval, advice, and assistance of the body that represents the Cause in his locality, but should strive to attribute any credit he may obtain to the collective wisdom and capacity of the Assembly under whose jurisdiction he performs his services. Assemblies and not individuals constitute the bedrock on which the Administration is built. Everything else must be subordinated to, and be made to serve and advance the best interests of these elected custodians and promoters of the Laws of Baha'u'llah."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, August 12, 1933: Principles of Baha'i Administration, p. 19)


143. Class Consciousness Contrary to Actual Teachings of Faith

"...although it is essential for the believers to maintain always a clear distinction between teaching and administrative duties and functions, yet they should be careful not to be led to think that these two types of Baha'i activity are mutually exclusive in their nature, and as such cannot be exercised by one and the same person. As a matter of fact, the friends should be encouraged to serve in both the teaching and administrative fields of Baha'i service. But as there are always some who are more specially gifted along one of these two lines of activity it would seem more desirable that they should concentrate their efforts in acquiring the full training for that type of work for which they are best suited by nature. Such a specialization has the advantage of saving time, and of leading to greater efficiency, particularly at this early stage of our development.


"The great danger, however, lies in that by doing so the friends may tend to develop a sort of class consciousness which is fundamentally contrary to both the spirit and actual teachings of the Faith.


"It is precisely in order to overcome such a danger that the Guardian thinks it advisable that the friends should be encouraged to serve from time to time in both the teaching and the administrative spheres of Baha'i work, but only whenever they feel fit to do so."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, July 29, 1935: Ibid., p. 3)


144. Extension Teaching Goals, Local Assemblies Should Assume Responsibility for

"The time has come, we believe, when increasing numbers of Local Spiritual Assemblies should assume responsibility for helping the teaching work of groups, isolated believers, and other Spiritual Assemblies in their neighbourhood. Such extension teaching goals should be assigned by the National Spiritual Assembly or one of its teaching committees, or can be spontaneously adopted by Local Spiritual Assemblies, and should be carried out within the framework of the overall teaching plans of the country. It should also be made clear that by being given such goals a Spiritual Assembly is not being given any jurisdiction over believers outside its area, still less over other Local Spiritual Assemblies, but is being called upon to collaborate with them in their work."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to all National Spiritual Assemblies, Naw-Ruz 1974)


[41] 145. Plans of the Assemblies Should Be Known to Counsellors and Auxiliary Board Members

"It is the Spiritual Assemblies who plan and direct the work, but these plans should be well known to the Counsellors and Auxiliary Board members, because one of the ways in which they can assist the Assemblies is by urging the believers continually to support the plans of the Assemblies. If a National Spiritual Assembly has adopted one goal as preeminent in a year, the Auxiliary Board members should bear this in mind in all their contacts with the believers and should direct their attention to the plans of the National Assembly, and stimulate them to enthusiastically support them."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to all National Spiritual Assemblies, October 1, 1969: Messages from The Universal House of Justice, 1968-1973, pp. 32-33)


146. Local Spiritual Assemblies' Relations with Auxiliary Board

"It is at this local level of Baha'i community life, the very foundation of the administrative structure of the Faith, that we so often find lack of adequate strength and efficiency. It is at this same level that our beloved Guardian urged Auxiliary Board members to establish contact with Local Spiritual Assemblies, groups, isolated centres and the individual believers, and through periodic and systematic visits to localities as well as by correspondence help in promoting the interests of the Plan, assist in the efficient and prompt execution of the goals, watch over the security of the Faith, stimulate and strengthen the teaching and pioneer work, impress upon the friends the importance of individual effort, initiative and sacrifice, and encourage them to participate in Baha'i activities and be unified under all circumstances."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to all Continental Boards of Counsellors, November 17, 1971)


147. All Local Spiritual Assemblies Should Collaborate with Auxiliary Board Members and Their Assistants

"When a Local Spiritual Assembly begins to function properly, it does not mean it can dispense with the service and work of Auxiliary Board members and their assistants, who can and should continue to provide stimulation and inspiration not only generally to the Assembly and local Baha'i activities, but to individual believers as well."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, June 9, 1980)


148. When Local Spiritual Assemblies Are Truly Effective

"Such a firmly-founded, busy and happy community life as is envisioned when Local Spiritual Assemblies are truly effective, will provide a firm home foundation from which the friends may derive courage and strength and loving support in bearing the Divine Message to their fellowmen and conforming their lives to its benevolent rule."

(From the Naw-Ruz Message of the Universal House of Justice to the Baha'is of the World, 1974)


149. A Functioning Local Spiritual Assembly—Salient Objectives to be Attained

"In reply to your letter of July 14th asking guidance as to what is a functioning Local Spiritual Assembly, we offer you the following comments:


[42] "Local Spiritual Assemblies are at the present newly-born institutions, struggling for the most part to establish themselves both in the Baha'i community and in the world. They are as yet only embryos of the majestic institutions ordained by Baha'u'llah in His Writings. This is also true of National Spiritual Assemblies. In the following passage written by the Secretary of the Guardian on his behalf this point is elucidated:


'The Baha'i administration is only the first shaping of what in future will come to be the social life and laws of community living. As yet the believers are only first beginning to grasp and practice it properly. So we must have patience if at times it seems a little self-conscious and rigid in its workings. It is because we are learning something very difficult but very wonderful—how to live together as a community of Baha'is, according to the glorious teachings.' 

(From a letter dated October 14, 1941 to an individual believer)


"What we find expounded in the writings of our Faith is the lofty station Local Spiritual Assemblies must attain in their gradual and at times painful development. In encouraging these assemblies to attain this aim, there is no harm in the National Spiritual Assembly mentioning certain minimum requirements from time to time, provided it is clear that non-attainment of such standards, which by their very nature must be continuously revised with changing conditions, do not justify the withdrawal of recognition from any weak Assemblies. It would not be profitable therefore for the Universal House of Justice to lay down universal minimum standards for properly-functioning Local Spiritual Assemblies, as these must necessarily differ from country to country, and even from district to district within the same country in the process of the evolution of these Assemblies into Houses of Justice, as envisaged by Baha'u'llah.


"Among the more salient objectives to be attained by the Local Spiritual Assembly in its process of development to full maturity are to act as a loving shepherd to the Baha'i flock, promote unity and concord among the friends, direct the teaching work, protect the Cause of God, arrange for Feasts, Anniversaries and regular meetings of the community, familiarize the Baha'is with its plans, invite the community to offer its recommendations, promote the welfare of youth and children, and participate, as circumstances permit, in humanitarian activities. In its relationship to the individual believer, the Assembly should continuously invite and encourage him to study the Faith, to deliver its glorious message, to live in accordance with its teachings, to contribute freely and regularly to the Fund, to participate in community activities, and to seek refuge in the Assembly for advice and help, when needed."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Bolivia, July 30, 1972)


150. Prominent People, Foster Cordial Relations with

"A very important activity which has been pursued effectively in all too few countries, is the undertaking by the National Spiritual Assembly of a sustained, planned effort to foster cordial relations with prominent people and responsible government officials and to familiarize them personally with the basic tenets and the teachings of the Faith. Such an activity must be carried out with wisdom and discretion, and requires the constant attention of a responsible committee as well as periodic review by the National Spiritual Assembly itself. Where successful it can effectively forestall opposition [43] to the Faith and smooth the way for many essential aspects of the development of the Baha'i community."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to all National Spiritual Assemblies, Naw-Ruz, 1974)


151. Public Figures

"To approach such well-known and important persons is always an extremely delicate matter, since it requires a good deal of wisdom, courage and ability. But those friends who really feel the urge to do so, and possess the necessary qualifications, should cultivate such friendships which, if properly done, can be of an immense benefit to the Cause. In any case, however, the assistance and help of either the local or the National Assembly is not only useful but necessary if important contacts of this sort are to be fruitful and promising. The principle of consultation, which constitutes one of the basic laws of the Administration, should be applied to all Baha'i activities which affect the collective interests of the Faith, for it is through cooperation and continued exchange of thoughts and views that the Cause can best safeguard and foster its interests. Individual initiative, personal ability and resourcefulness, though indispensable, are, unless supported and enriched by the collective experiences and wisdom of the group, utterly incapable of achieving such a tremendous task."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, August 30, 1933: Baha'i News, No. 79, pp. 3-4, November 1933)


152. Individual Members of the Local Spiritual Assembly Should Deepen

"Only as individual members of Local Spiritual Assemblies deepen themselves in the fundamental verities of the Faith and in the proper application of the principles governing the operation of the Assembly will this Institution grow and develop toward its full potential."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to all National Spiritual Assemblies, August 11, 1970)


153. Members of Spiritual Assembly Must Face Responsibilities

"All over the world the Guardian is constantly encouraging and enjoining the believers to learn to function according to Baha'i laws and principles; members of Spiritual Assemblies must learn to face their responsibilities; individuals must learn to turn to them and abide by their decisions. When we realize that all marriages, divorces, disposal of inheritance, etc., are now handled in Egypt and Persia solely through the Assemblies and that the believers abide by their decisions, we see that in Western countries the friends still have a long way to go—the sooner they start the better for themselves and for the Faith."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, October 17, 1944)



I. Meetings of Baha'i Assemblies, Attendance, Resignations


154. Obligation of Assembly Members to Meet and Discharge Sacred Responsibilities

"After the formation of the National Spiritual Assembly, laxity and negligence in the holding of its meetings, in the coming together of its nine members, and in the [44] discharge of its sacred responsibilities, will have undesirable repercussions in the community, will weaken and disgrace the Cause, will create chaos and confusion, and will cause the Faith to decline and retrogress."

(From a letter written by Shoghi Effendi to the Central Spiritual Assembly of Persia, April 22, 1930: Meetings of the National Spiritual Assembly, A Compilation, p. 1, October 1980)


155. Membership in Baha'i Assembly or Committee is a Sacred Obligation—Should Endeavor to Attend All Meetings

"...The Guardian wishes you to make clear to all the believers that membership in a Baha'i Assembly or Committee is a sacred obligation which should be gladly and confidently accepted by every loyal and conscientious member of the Community, no matter how humble and inexperienced. Once elected to serve in a given Assembly a believer's duty is to do his utmost to attend all assembly meetings, and cooperate with his fellow-members, unless, however, he is prevented from doing so by some major reason such as illness, and even then he should notify the Assembly to this effect. The N.S.A.'s duty is to urge, and also facilitate attendance at assembly meetings. If a member has no valid reason to justify his repeated absence from assembly meetings, he should be advised, and even warned, and if such warning is deliberately ignored by him, the Assembly will then have the right to suspend his rights as a voting member of the Community. Such administrative sanction would seem to be absolutely imperative and necessary, and while not tantamount to a complete expulsion of such member from the Cause, deprives him of any real participation in its administrative functions and affairs, and is thus a most effective corrective measure which the Assembly can use against all such half-hearted and irresponsible individuals in the Community."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of India and Burma, July 2, 1939: Ibid., p. 2)


156. Teaching Must Be Accorded Precedence When in Session

"When in session it behooveth them to converse, on behalf of the servants of God, on matters dealing with the affairs and interests of the public. For instance, teaching the Cause of God must be accorded precedence, inasmuch as it is a matter of paramount importance, so that thereby all men may enter the pavilion of unity and all the peoples of the earth be regarded even as a single body...


"Should these souls comply with the prescribed conditions, they shall, indeed, be aided through His invisible bestowals. This is truly a matter whose benefits will be conferred on all men...."

(Baha'u'llah: The Local Spiritual Assembly, p. 11)


157. All Meetings Must Revolve Around One Focal Center—Teach

"If the meetings or Spiritual Assembly has any other occupation, the time is spent in futility. All the deliberations, all consultation, all the talks and addresses must revolve around one focal center and that is: Teach the Cause! Teach! Teach! Convey the Message! Awaken the souls!


"Nothing else will be useful, today... The interests of such a Glorious Cause will not advance without undivided attention. While we are carrying this load we cannot carry any other load!"

('Abdu'l-Baha: Baha'i Meetings and the Nineteen Day Feast, p. 9)


[45] 158. Principle on which to Conduct the Work of an Assembly

"There is only one principle on which to conduct the work of an Assembly, and that is the supremacy of the will of the majority. The majority decisions must be courageously adopted and carried out by the Assembly, quite regardless of the opinionated adherence to their own views which any minority may cling to."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, November 20, 1941: The Local Spiritual Assembly, p. 19)


159. Why Some Local Assemblies Do Not Meet

"Many Local Spiritual Assemblies do not meet, because they do not know or see what they should meet about. A compilation on the functions of a Local Spiritual Assembly, or the By-Laws of a Local Assembly will not usually provide the impetus to the members to meet. One of the stipulations of the Five Year Plan is the desirability for each Local Assembly to have local goals. Just as there are international and national goals, there should be local goals for each Local Assembly and throughout the Baha'i world. These goals, as indicated in our Naw-Ruz 1974 Message, can either be adopted spontaneously by the Local Assemblies, or assigned to them by the National Spiritual Assembly. The adoption of a local plan by the Local Assembly can exert a far-reaching influence on its work and on the life of the community."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly of Africa, December 24, 1975)


160. How Often to Meet—The Spiritual Assembly Must Decide

"The Spiritual Assembly must decide how often it should meet in order to properly handle the affairs of the Cause under its jurisdiction. Twice a week or twice a month is not the point, the point is that it should be alert and carry on the work adequately."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, October 23, 1949: Baha'i News, August 1951, p. 2)


161. Baha'u'llah's Promise

"Baha'u'llah has given the promise that in every Assembly where unity and harmony prevail, there His glorious spirit will not only be present, but will animate, sustain and guide all the friends in all their deliberations."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the Evanston and Wilmette Spiritual Assemblies, November 17, 1933: The Local Spiritual Assembly, p. 16)


162. Not Possible to Have Non-Assembly Member in National Spiritual Assembly Meeting

"...in the light of the Master's statement that the deliberations of Assemblies must be secret and confidential, it is not possible to have a non-Assembly member in the National Spiritual Assembly meeting. You must always remember that, in matters of principle, there can be no deviation;... Highly personal subjects, damaging to the honor and happiness of others, are often taken up by National Assemblies, and the danger that confidence will be betrayed is already great enough with the 9 chosen representatives of the whole community, let alone introducing non-Assembly members. You will just have to make your minutes a little more compact and [46] sacrifice, if necessary, a certain amount of efficiency in order to follow this very important principle."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, July 5, 1950: The National Spiritual Assembly, p. 19)


163. Distribution of Minutes of Meetings

"We have your letter ..., regarding distribution of the minutes of your National Assembly meetings to members of the National Assembly.

"Two principles apply, namely:


1. Every member of the National Spiritual Assembly is entitled to have access to the minutes of the National Assembly meetings.


2. The National Assembly must take measures to safeguard the confidential nature of many matters referred to in the minutes.


"It is within the discretion of your National Spiritual Assembly to decide what should be done to give effect to these two principles."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of North East Asia, March 25, 1971)


164. Access to Records of the Spiritual Assembly

"In reply to your letter of May 13th, 1976, the Universal House of Justice instructs us to say that all members of the Spiritual Assembly are equal and should have access to the files and minutes of the Assembly of which they are members. It is, however, within the discretion of any Spiritual Assembly to so organize its files and records that certain items could be listed as 'confidential' and access to those so classified could only be had by a specific decision of the Assembly itself."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Ireland, June 8, 1976)


165. Business Can Be Conducted with a Quorum

"...It is, as you say, highly desirable for all nine members of a Spiritual Assembly to be present but business can be conducted with a quorum of five, provided that all have been properly notified of the meeting."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Ecuador, June 14, 1972)


166. Assembly Quorum

"We have your letter of July 20, 1967 asking for clarification of Article VIII, Section 1 of the By-Laws of a Local Spiritual Assembly which appears on Page 19 of the Declaration of Trust.


"A majority of the members present and constituting a quorum is sufficient to carry a motion. Thus, if only five members of the Assembly are present at a meeting, a majority vote of three is sufficient.


"However, Assemblies should take into account the last clause of the first sentence of Section 1 of Article VIII reading as follows:


'...and with due regard to the principle of unity and cordial fellowship involved in the institution of a Spiritual Assembly.'


"In other words, members of a Spiritual Assembly should not take advantage of a quorum as an expedient to pass a motion which would violate the spirit of the above quoted passage.


[47] "As your National Assembly has stated, it is desirable that all nine members of a Local Spiritual Assembly be present at every meeting, and we hope that you will be able to educate members of Assemblies to assume their responsibilities in this regard."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, August 6, 1967)


167. Duties of Assembly Members

"In its own meetings it must endeavour to develop skill in the difficult but highly rewarding art of Baha'i consultation, a process which will require great self-discipline on the part of all members and complete reliance on the power of Baha'u'llah. It should hold regular meetings and ensure that all its members are currently informed of the activities of the Assembly, that its Secretary carries out his duties, and its Treasurer holds and disburses the funds of the Faith to its satisfaction, keeping proper accounts and issuing receipts for all contributions. Many Assemblies find that some of their activities such as teaching, observance of Feasts and Anniversaries, solution of personal problems, and other duties are best dealt with by committees appointed by the Assembly and responsible to it...."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Bolivia, July 30, 1972)


168. Abstaining Does Not Arise in Baha'i Voting

"It is important to realize that the spirit of Baha'i consultation is very different from that current in the decision-making processes of non-Baha'i bodies.


"The ideal of Baha'i consultation is to arrive at a unanimous decision. When this is not possible a vote must be taken. In the words of the beloved Guardian: '...when they are called upon to arrive at a certain decision, they should, after dispassionate, anxious and cordial consultation, turn to God in prayer, and with earnestness and conviction and courage record their vote and abide by the voice of the majority, which we are told by the Master to be the voice of truth, never to be challenged, and always to be whole-heartedly enforced.'


"As soon as a decision is reached it becomes the decision of the whole Assembly, not merely of those members who happened to be among the majority.


"When it is proposed to put a matter to the vote, a member of the Assembly may feel that there are additional facts or views which must be sought before he can make up his mind and intelligently vote on the proposition. He should express this feeling to the Assembly, and it is for the Assembly to decide whether or not further consultation is needed before voting.


"Whenever it is decided to vote on a proposition all that is required is to ascertain how many of the members are in favour of it; if this is a majority of those present, the motion is carried; if it is a minority, the motion is defeated. Thus the whole question of 'abstaining' does not arise in Baha'i voting. A member who does not vote in favour of a proposition is, in effect, voting against it, even if at that moment he himself feels that he has been unable to make up his mind on the matter."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Canada, March 6, 1970: Consultation: A Compilation, p. 12, February 1978)


169. Baha'is Not Required to Vote Against Consciences

"Baha'is are not required to vote on an assembly against their consciences. It is [48] better if they submit to the majority view and make it unanimous. But they are not forced to. What they must do, however, is to abide by the majority decision, as this is what becomes effective. They must not go around undermining the assembly by saying they disagreed with the majority. In other words, they must put the Cause first and not their own opinions. He (a Spiritual Assembly member) can ask the assembly to reconsider a matter, but he has no right to force them or create inharmony because they won't change. Unanimous votes are preferable, but certainly cannot be forced upon assembly members by artificial methods such as are used by other societies."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, October 19, 1947)


170. Only Under Special Circumstances is It Permissible to Resign from the Spiritual Assembly

"With reference to your question whether it would be permissible for a believer to resign from the Local Assembly; under special circumstances, such as illness, one may do so, but only after, and never before one has been elected to the membership of the Assembly. Personal differences and disagreements among Assembly members surely afford no sufficient ground for such resignation, and certainly can not justify absence from Assembly meetings. Through the clash of personal opinions, as 'Abdu'l-Baha has stated, the spark of truth is often ignited, and Divine guidance revealed. The friends should therefore not feel discouraged at the differences of opinion that may prevail among the members of an Assembly, for these, as experience has shown, and as the Master's words attest, fulfil a valuable function in all Assembly deliberations. But once the opinion of the majority has been ascertained, all the members should automatically and unreservedly obey it, and faithfully carry it out. Patience and restraint, however, should at all times characterize the discussions and deliberations of the elected representatives of the local community, and no fruitless and hair-splitting discussions indulged in, under any circumstances."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, April 18, 1939)


171. Differences of Opinion Should Not Deter One from Performing His Baha'i Activities

"Needless to say how much he was afflicted to learn that you both had offered your resignation from the ... Spiritual Assembly. For he is convinced that your action in this matter will have a bad effect on the rest of the believers, and in this way cause great injury to the Cause. Differences of opinion, specially when they arise in connection with personalities, should under no circumstances lead any believer to turn his attention from his major Baha'i activities. And what activity can be said to be more vital, and hence of a more weighty responsibility than to serve in an Assembly, and specially in the capacity of a Vice-Chairman. Your responsibilities, in this connection, are indeed manifold, and it would be a pity, therefore, if you fail in the least to carry them out to the fullest possible extent.


"Besides, you can easily realize that by resigning from the Assembly you would be encouraging, quite unintentionally but through the mere effect of example, your fellow-members to take a similar action in the future if necessary. This, of course, cannot but lead eventually to the disruption of your Assembly, and would in the meantime greatly detract from the authority and prestige of that body in the eyes of the public.


[49] "In view of all these, the Guardian would specially appeal to you, to exert your utmost in order to retain your membership in the ... Assembly, and thus put a good example before the friends. Should you act in this way, Baha'u'llah would undoubtedly assist and strengthen you in overcoming the obstacles which, at present, so sadly retard the effective working and progress of your Assembly."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, January 28, 1935)


172. There Should Be a Valid Reason for Resignation

"Although it is highly desirable that all members of the National Assembly attend every meeting of the Assembly, the fact that a member is prevented by business or other circumstances from having a good attendance record is not a ground upon which a resignation can be accepted. It is not justified to accept a resignation or otherwise declare a vacancy on the National Assembly without a valid reason such as in the case of prolonged absence or serious illness which prevents one from discharging his duties as a member of the National Assembly."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, November 27, 1968)


173. Should National Assembly Members Be Relieved of Local Assembly Service?

"We have your letter of April 28, 1970 raising the question as to whether believers elected to both a Local Spiritual Assembly and the National Spiritual Assembly may resign their membership in the Local Assembly and dedicate their full efforts to the work of the National Assembly.


"Normally those elected to a Local Assembly and the National Assembly should make every effort to serve on both bodies, whatever the personal sacrifices may be. If it is too much of a burden and impractical for an individual member to assume the responsibilities of serving on both the National and Local Assembly, he should present his case to both bodies, and seek consultation. Each case should be considered separately, depending on the circumstances of each member. It may be found that if a National Assembly member is an officer of the Local Spiritual Assembly, his resignation as officer of the Assembly, instead of the membership of that Assembly, may solve the problem for that individual."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of North East Africa, May 7, 1970: Malaysian Baha'i News, Vol. 8, No. 4, December 1972 to February 1973, p. 28)


174. Not Appropriate to Elect a Temporary Assembly Member

"As regards electing a temporary member to replace one who is absent, the present practice of Baha'i Administration is not in favor of this but prefers to ascertain the duration of the absence of any member who has to be away. Should this period of time be excessive it is within the discretion of the Assembly to recognize a vacancy and call for a by-election. However this should not be lightly decided and the members declared elected at the Convention should remain in office unless there are insuperable difficulties which prevent it."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Malaysia, December 10, 1970: Meetings of the National Spiritual Assembly, p. 3, October 1980)


175. Non-Attendance of Assembly Members—No Time Limit Fixed

"...it is establishing a dangerous precedent to allow Assemblies to put a time limit [50] on non-attendance of their members at meetings of the Spiritual Assembly beyond which that person is automatically dropped from the Assembly and a vacancy declared... There should be no time limit fixed by Assemblies beyond which a person is dropped. Every case of prolonged absence from the sessions of the Assembly should be considered separately by that Assembly, and if the person is seen to not want to attend meetings, or to be held away from them indefinitely because of illness or travel, then a vacancy could legitimately be declared and a new member be elected."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer: Baha'i News, No. 208, June 1948)


176. Repeated, Unjustified Absence Cause for Suspension of Voting Rights

"...The National Spiritual Assembly's duty is to urge, and also facilitate attendance at assembly meetings. If a member has no valid reason to justify his repeated absence from assembly meetings, he should be advised, and even warned, and if such warning is deliberately ignored by him the Assembly will then have the right to suspend his rights as a voting member of the Community. Such administrative sanction would seem to be absolutely imperative and necessary, and while not tantamount to a complete expulsion of such a member from the Cause, deprives him of any real participation in its administrative functions and affairs, and is thus a most effective corrective measure which the Assembly can use against all such half-hearted and irresponsible individuals in the Community."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of India and Burma, July 2, 1939: Dawn of a New Day, p. 79)


177. Criticism, Opposition, Confusion Do Not Provide Grounds for Resignation—Sanction May Be Necessary

"Concerning the question of refusal by certain believers to accept election to an administrative post: The Guardian strongly feels that criticism, opposition, or confusion, do not provide sufficient grounds for either refusal or resignation. Only cases of physical or mental incapacity, which, by their very nature, are extremely rare, constitute valid reasons for such an act. The difficulties and tests involved in the acceptance of administrative posts, far from inducing the believers to disassociate themselves from the work of the Cause, should spur them on to greater exertions and to a more active participation in the privileged task of resolving the problems that confront the Baha'i community. Only in cases where individual believers, without any valid reason, deliberately refuse the repeated exhortations, pleas, and warnings addressed to them by their Assemblies, should action be taken in removing them from the voting list. This is a measure designed to sustain the institutions of the Faith at the present time, and to insure that the abilities and talents of its, as yet, limited number of supporters are properly consecrated to its service...."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, January 15, 1942: Baha'i News, No. 152, p. 2, April 1942)



J. Administrative Rights, Sanctions, Dissimulation


178. Basis for Deprivation of Voting Rights

"The general basis for the deprivation of voting rights is of course gross [51] immorality and open opposition to the administrative functions of the Faith, and disregard for the laws of personal status; and even then it is the duty of the National Assembly, before exercising this sanction, to confer with the individuals involved in a loving manner to help them overcome the problem; second, to warn them that they must desist; third, to issue further warnings if the original warnings are not followed; and finally, if there seems no other way to handle the matter, then a person may be deprived of voting rights.


"The Guardian however, wishes the National Assemblies to be very cautious in using this sanction, because it might be abused, and then lose its efficacy. It should be used only when there seems no other way to solve the problem.


"Answering specifically the questions you raise, if a person is deprived of his voting rights, he may not contribute to the Local or National Funds; he may not attend Nineteen Day Feasts. Of course, not attending the Nineteen Day Feasts, he can take no part in consultation. While it is not forbidden for the friends to associate with the individual, yet their association should be on a formal basis.


"So far as the individual who has been deprived of his voting rights, teaching the Cause, he is of course free to do this, as every individual has been encouraged by Baha'u'llah to teach the Cause."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of South America, March 7, 1955)


179. Assembly Should Not Deprive Believer of Rights Unless the Matter is Very Grave

"As he already told you in a previous communication he feels that your Assembly should not deprive people of their voting rights unless the matter is really very grave; this is a very heavy sanction, and can embitter the heart if lightly imposed, and also make people think we unduly resort to pressure of a strong nature. The friends must be nursed and assisted, for they are still mostly immature spiritually, and their 'sins' are those of immaturity! Their hearts are loyal to the Cause, and this is the most important thing."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of India and Burma, August 2, 1946)


180. No Baha'i Can Swear to Bring Up His Children in Another Religion nor be Married in Church as a Christian

"...As the Guardian pointed out ..., no Baha'i can conscientiously swear to bring up his children in another religion; and of course he has no right to lie; therefore it becomes impossible for him to make such a promise on his marriage to a non-Baha'i. Any Baha'i doing this should be deprived of his voting rights; and, as he has already made plain before, Baha'is who go to the church and are married as Christians must also of necessity be deprived of their voting rights."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the European Teaching Committee, May 13, 1936)


181. Alcoholic Beverages—Those Who Continue to Drink

"In the case of a believer who continues to take alcoholic drinks, the Assembly should decide whether the offence is flagrant, and, if it is, should try to help him to understand the importance of obeying the Baha'i law. If he does not respond he must be repeatedly warned and, if this is unsuccessful, he is subject to loss of his voting rights. In the [52] case of an alcoholic who is trying to overcome his weakness the Assembly must show especial patience, and may have to suggest professional counselling and assistance. If the offence is not flagrant, the Assembly need take no action at all."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly, September 26, 1978)


182. Divorce

"...no sanctions should be imposed merely because the believer has commenced a civil action for divorce before the expiration of the year of patience. However, the believer will be subject to sanctions if he should marry a third party within the year of patience, not only because it is a violation of the year of patience itself, but also because even though a civil divorce has been granted, the Baha'i divorce cannot be granted until the end of the year of patience. For this reason no marriage is possible during the running of the year of patience unless the parties to the divorce re-marry each other again in a civil ceremony."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Alaska, March 29, 1966)


183. Ecclesiastical and Political Associations

"...The same sanction (deprivation of voting right) should apply to those who persistently refuse to dissociate themselves from political and ecclesiastical activities. This is a general principle which is being maintained throughout the Baha'i world, and the believers throughout the East are already aware of the absolute necessity of refusing any political or Moslem ecclesiastical office."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, January 15, 1942)


184. Politics, Participation in

"Your understanding and attitude regarding participation in politics is correct, namely, you immediately warn and quickly remove the voting rights, as such prompt action is necessary to protect the interests of the Faith."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of South and West Africa, November 12, 1965)


185. Homosexual Acts Condemned by Baha'u'llah*

"Regarding the question you asked him about one of the believers who seems to be flagrantly a homosexual—although to a certain extent we must be forbearing in the matter of people's moral conduct because of the terrible deterioration in society in general, this does not mean that we can put up indefinitely with conduct which is disgracing the Cause. This person should have it brought to his attention that such acts are condemned by Baha'u'llah, and that he must mend his ways, if necessary consult doctors, and make efforts to overcome this affliction, which is corruptive for him and bad for the Cause. If after a period of probation you do not see an improvement, he should have his voting rights taken away. The Guardian does not think, however, that a Baha'i body should take it upon itself to denounce him to the Authorities unless his conduct borders on insanity."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of Canada: Messages to Canada, p. 39)

___________________

*(See also: Nos. 1221-1230)


[53] 186. Immorality, Blatant Acts of

"Any blatant acts of immorality on the part of the Baha'is should be strongly censured; the friends should be urged to abandon such relationships immediately, straighten out their affairs, and conduct themselves as Baha'is; if they refuse to do this, in spite of the warnings of the Assembly, they should be punished through being deprived of their voting rights. The N.S.A. is empowered to settle such cases of flagrant immorality without referring them to the Guardian."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, July 20, 1946: Principles of Baha'i Administration, p. 85)


187. Criminal Offences, Believers Charged with

"We have carefully reviewed your letter of April 18, 1967 inquiring about the attitude to be adopted by your National Assembly regarding believers who have been charged with criminal offences, suspected to have committed such offences, or convicted by the court. The principle to bear in mind is that each case falling in any of the aforementioned categories should be considered separately and on its own merits. No hard and fast rule should be applied.


"If the believer's actions conspicuously disgrace the Faith and such actions seriously injure its reputation, the National Assembly may in its discretion apply the sanction of deprivation of voting rights.


"We feel that the Assembly should exercise its utmost wisdom when depriving believers of their administrative privileges, each case should be considered on its individual merits, and it should be realized that the application of Baha'i sanctions is not an automatic action in response to a verdict of the court."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of South and West Africa, May 3, 1967: Guidelines for Local Spiritual Assemblies, p. 81)


188. Should Be Given Chance to Improve—A Lesser Sanction May Be Applied

"Regarding those whose conduct is immoral, the matter should first be referred to the Local Spiritual Assembly. Whether the believer is a member of the Local Assembly or not, he should be first lovingly exhorted, then warned and required to rectify his conduct. If the conduct of the believer does not improve and continues to be a disgrace to the Faith, the National Spiritual Assembly may decide merely to remove him from the membership of the Local Assembly, if he is a member of it, or to apply the full sanction of depriving him of his voting rights, depending upon the circumstances in each case. It is impossible and unwise to lay down a general ruling to cover all circumstances."

(From a letter on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Italy, January 14, 1966)


189. One Offence of Immorality Not Enough to Incur Heavy Penalty

"In case of immoral conduct one offence is generally not enough to incur this heavy penalty, but only after patient counselling and in the face of flagrantly immoral conduct or blatant misbehaviour should it be invoked."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Vietnam, January 11, 1967)


190. Civil Marriage Ceremony Only

"...if a Baha'i has a civil marriage ceremony only, he is subject to loss of his [54] voting rights. If the Assembly is satisfied that such a couple is repentant, their voting rights may be restored on condition that they have the Baha'i ceremony."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Peru, June 23, 1969)


191. Parents' Voting Rights Can Be Suspended if Consent is Given Contrary to Baha'i Law

"In connection with your question regarding the case of Mr. Mrs. ... and their daughter, the Guardian considers that your Assembly did quite right to deprive all three of their voting rights. Their conduct in carrying out a Moslem marriage in the circumstances set forth by you in your letter, and contrary to Baha'i law, are most reprehensible, to say the least, and if such actions are not strongly censured by the Baha'is, other friends may be encouraged in moments of weakness, to err."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of India, Pakistan and Burma, March 10, 1951)


192. Baha'i Membership in Masonic, Theosophical, Rosicrucian, and Similar Societies*

"The following two principles should help to guide your Assembly in dealing with the problems of Baha'i membership in Masonic, Theosophical, Rosicrucian, and similar societies:


(1) Formal affiliation with and acceptance of membership in organizations whose programs or policies are not wholly reconcilable with the Teachings is not permissible to the friends.


(2) The friends should not become members of secret societies.


"Your Assembly is advised to carefully inform the friends of these principles and to deepen them in their understanding and appreciation of them. Having made certain that all friends, especially those directly concerned, have been so deepened, your Assembly should then set a time limit by which the friends must obey your directive to withdraw their membership in the organizations. Each case will have to be considered on its own merits. Some of the friends may have to fulfill certain commitments as officers before they can withdraw with honor. The time limit should make allowance in such cases.


"Whereas persistence in membership in these and in similar organizations is ample ground for deprivation of voting rights, your Assembly is advised to give sufficient time for each of the friends to be thoroughly deepened, and to comply with the principles before any disciplinary action is taken."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Colombia, December 26, 1963)

___________________

*(See also: XXXV, 1384-1400)


193. Mental Illness

"Regarding persons whose condition (i.e., mental condition) has not been defined by the civil authorities after medical diagnosis, the Assembly on the spot must investigate every case that arises and, after consultation with experts, deliver its verdict. Such a verdict however, should, in important cases, be preceded by consultation with the National Spiritual Assembly. No doubt, the power of prayer is very great, yet consultation with experts is enjoined by Baha'u'llah. [55] Should these experts believe that an abnormal case exists, the with-holding of voting rights is justified."

(From a letter of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, May 30, 1936: Baha'i News, No. 153, June 1942, p. 12)


194. Mental Unfitness

"Regarding the interpretation of mental unfitness, this is not the same as being physically incapacitated. By the latter is meant a condition much more serious than any temperamental deficiency or disinclination to conform to the principle of majority rule. Only in rare cases when a person is actually unbalanced, and is admittedly proved to be so, should the right of membership be denied him. The greatest care and restraint should be exercised in this matter."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, May 15, 1940: Baha'i Procedure, p. 20)


195. Withdrawal of Administrative Rights from One Mentally Ill is Not a Sanction

"The withdrawal of administrative rights from a person who is suffering from a mental illness is not a sanction, but merely a recognition of the fact that the believer's condition renders him incapable of exercising those rights. From this you will see that the mental incapacity must be very serious for this step to be taken, and would normally be dependent upon a certification of insanity by medical authorities or confinement in a mental hospital. Again, depending upon the kind of mental illness, such suspension of voting rights may or may not involve non-receipt of Baha'i newsletters, inability to attend Nineteen Day Feasts, etc."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Austria, May 12, 1982)


196. National Assembly Can Debar an Individual from Serving on a Local Assembly Without Removing Voting Rights

"It is also quite permissible for a National Spiritual Assembly to debar an individual believer from serving on a Local Spiritual Assembly without removing his or her voting rights and they may also debar a believer from attending the consultative part of a Nineteen Day Feast. You may also debar a believer from voting in elections without imposing all the other administrative sanctions involved in administrative expulsion."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Panama, January 31, 1972)


197. Voting Rights, Only National Assembly Can Deprive Believers of

"In the Minutes of your meeting of March 13, 1971 we have noted an item on which we wish to comment.


"It concerns your decision to inform the Spiritual Assembly of ... that they can deprive a believer of his administrative rights if they feel that the believer's actions merit this. For the present only the National Assembly may deprive a believer of his administrative rights and this authority should not be given to Local Spiritual Assemblies."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Honduras, April 18, 1971)


[56] 198. Status of Those Who Lose Voting Rights

"Concerning your question as to the status of those individuals whom the Local Assembly or the National Spiritual Assembly have considered it necessary to deprive of the voting right and to suspend from local meetings and gatherings: Such action which Local and National Assemblies have been empowered to take against such recalcitrant members, however justified and no matter how severe, should under no circumstances be considered as implying the complete expulsion of the individuals affected from the Cause. The suspension of voting and other administrative rights of an individual believer, always conditional and therefore temporary, can never have such far-reaching implications, since it constitutes merely an administrative sanction; whereas his expulsion or ex-communication from the Faith, which can be effected by the Guardian* alone in his capacity as the supreme spiritual head of the Community, has far-reaching spiritual implications affecting the very soul of that believer.


"The former as already stated, is an administrative sanction, whereas the latter is essentially spiritual, involving not only the particular administrative relationship of a believer to his Local or National Assembly, but his very spiritual existence in the Cause. It follows, therefore, that a believer can continue calling himself a Baha'i even though he may cease to be a voting member of the community. But in case he is excluded from the body of the Cause by an act of the Guardian he ceases to become a believer and cannot possibly identify himself even nominally with the Faith."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, May 8, 1939)

___________________

*The function of expulsion or ex-communication from the Faith is now effected by the Universal House of Justice "as supreme spiritual head of the Community."


199. No Baha'i Marriage if One is Deprived of Voting Rights—A Baha'i in Good Standing Cannot Marry One So Deprived

"A Baha'i deprived of his voting rights cannot be married in a Baha'i marriage ceremony; a Baha'i in good standing cannot marry a Baha'i who has lost his voting rights; the marriage of a Baha'i who has lost his voting rights does not fall within the jurisdiction of a Baha'i administrative institution.


"In other words, Baha'is who have lost their voting rights cannot be constrained to Baha'i administrative requirements although their consciences should lead them to act as closely to the standards and ordinances of Baha'i life as possible."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly, February 25, 1976, cited by the International Teaching Center)


200. Heaviest Sanction We Possess—Deprivation of Voting Rights

"...he feels that all National Spiritual Assemblies should bear in mind that this is the heaviest sanction we possess at present in the Faith, short of ex-communication, which lies within the powers of the Guardian alone, and is consequently a very weighty weapon to wield.

"He considers that under no circumstances should any Baha'i ever be suspended from the voting list and deprived of his administrative privileges for a matter which is not of the utmost gravity. By that he means breaking of laws, [57] such as the consent of parents to marriage, etc., or acts of such an immoral character as to damage the good name of the Faith."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of Canada, March 3, 1955: Messages to Canada, p. 51)


201. Before Anyone Deprived of Voting Rights Must Be Given Repeated Warnings

"He has informed, some years ago, the American National Spiritual Assembly that, before anyone is deprived of their voting rights, they should be consulted with and lovingly admonished at first, given repeated warnings if they do not mend their immoral ways, or whatever other extremely serious misdemeanor they are committing, and finally, after these repeated warnings, be deprived of their voting rights."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of Canada, March 3, 1955: Messages to Canada, pp. 51-52)


202. No Justification Suspension of Voting Rights Pending Investigation

"There is no justification for the suspension of a believer's administrative rights pending investigation and review of the facts of the matter in which he is involved. As we have repeatedly stated, the application of sanctions is a very serious action and should be imposed only in extreme cases. Furthermore, any decision involving a believer's administrative rights is to be made by action of the Assembly itself.


"While the Assembly should always be concerned about matters which might affect the good name of the Faith, it should be remembered that a believer involved in such matters is entitled to the understanding of the Assembly and may need its guidance and assistance both before and after any decision regarding sanctions is made."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, July 16, 1969)


203. Believer Cannot Escape Expulsion by Resignation in Order to Break Law with Impunity

"As you know, a believer cannot escape administrative expulsion by the ruse of resigning from the Faith in order to break its law with impunity. However, the Assembly should be satisfied that there was indeed such an ulterior motive behind the withdrawal. A believer's record of inactivity and his general attitude to the Faith may well lead the Assembly to conclude that his withdrawal was bona fide, even though immediately succeeded by marriage, and in such a case the withdrawal may be accepted."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, May 20, 1971)


204. Dissimulation is Not Withdrawal

"To deny that one is a Baha'i while one still believes in Baha'u'llah is not withdrawal, it is dissimulation of one's faith, and Baha'i law does not countenance the dissimulation of a believer's faith for the purpose of breaking the law.


"If a believer who did not like a particular law were to be permitted to leave the community to break the law, and then rejoin with impunity, this would make a mockery of the Law of God... It is abundantly clear from his letters that he has [58] continually believed in Baha'u'llah, that he knew the law that marriage is conditioned on the consent of parents, that he dissimulated his faith in order to be able to break this law with impunity. He must, therefore, be regarded as a Baha'i without administrative rights...."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, May 15, 1967)


205. Ignorance of the Law

"In all matters concerning the deprivation of voting rights your Assembly should bear in mind that at the present time, when Baha'i laws are being progressively applied and when a large proportion of the community consists of newly declared believers, you may accept ignorance of the Baha'i law as a valid excuse if your Assembly is fully convinced that such ignorance existed."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, October 11, 1965)


206. Child Out of Wedlock

"Generally, administrative rights should not be suspended because of the birth of a child out of wedlock. The questions to be considered are whether the party is guilty of blatant and flagrant immorality, whether such conduct is harming the Faith, and whether the believer has refused or neglected to improve her conduct despite repeated warnings.


"As you no doubt know, deprivation of administrative rights is a very serious sanction, and the beloved Guardian repeatedly cautioned that it should be exercised only in extreme situations. In a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to another National Spiritual Assembly which asked similar questions, it was pointed out that it was the task of the institutions to provide both counsel and education for the believers, and thereafter it is for the individual Baha'i to determine his course of conduct in relation to the situations of his daily life."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, March 23, 1983)


207. Loss of Voting Rights—Is to be Administratively Expelled

"A Baha'i who has lost his administrative rights is administratively expelled from the community and therefore is not subject to the jurisdiction of the Spiritual Assembly in the matter of laws of personal status, such as divorce, unless, of course, he is involved in such a matter through having a Baha'i spouse in good standing from whom the divorce is taking place. His observance of such laws is a matter of conscience and he would not be subject to further sanctions for non-observance of Baha'i laws during the period he is without voting rights."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, April 6, 1982)


208. Cases Involving Only Civil Ceremony

"We have your letter of October 9, 1971 informing us of your action to deprive ... of his voting rights for violation of Baha'i marriage law in that he married without having consent of all living parents. It is noted that he had a civil ceremony and a Catholic ceremony. The question you have asked deals with possible restoration of his voting rights.


"In cases involving only the civil ceremony, voting rights may be restored if [59] the Assembly feels that the believer is truly repentant and wishes to comply with the Baha'i law previously broken. The civil marriage ceremony itself is not contrary to Baha'i law, and therefore the dissolution of the civil marriage is not a prerequisite to restoration of voting rights. In such cases the Baha'i marriage ceremony may take place if the parents now give their consent to the marriage and the Assembly is satisfied that the consent has been genuinely and freely given and is not conditioned by the fact that the parties have already had a civil ceremony. In such cases the Assembly would restore voting rights immediately before the Baha'i ceremony on the condition that it be performed.


"Should ... apply for restoration of his voting rights, and should your Assembly feel that he is truly repentant, you should offer assistance in arranging the other details including helping him to obtain the consents of parents."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Ecuador, November 18, 1971)


209. Voting Rights Removed Mistakenly or Justifiably

"When believers who have been deprived of their voting rights have moved into the area of jurisdiction of another National Spiritual Assembly they are under the jurisdiction of that Assembly. When they apply for the restoration of their voting rights that Assembly should correspond with the National Assembly which applied the sanction in order to obtain the full particulars of the case and also any views the Assembly may have on the matter of restoration. It is then for the National Assembly in whose jurisdiction the believers are living to decide the matter and take action accordingly.


"In answer to the second question in your letter of 17th May 1976, no hard and fast rule can be laid down. It can happen, for example, that voting rights are removed mistakenly and the incorrect action of the Assembly is the basis for the believer's application for their restoration. If the voting rights have been removed justifiably it is generally sufficient for the believer to take the necessary actions to have them restored; his application for restoration and compliance with the requirements of Baha'i law are sufficient evidence of repentance. However, if the Assembly sees that the believer does not understand the reason for the deprivation and has a rebellious attitude it should endeavour to make the matter clear to him. If his attitude is one of contempt for the Baha'i law and his actions have been in serious violation of its requirements, the Assembly may even be justified in extending the period of deprivation beyond the time of the rectification of the situation—but such cases, by their nature, are very rare."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Peru, September 21, 1976)


210. Youth, Disciplinary Action Against

"With reference to the question in your second letter as to what disciplinary action can be taken against youth who are not of voting age, it must be remembered that the removal of his voting rights is administrative expulsion. In addition to being deprived of his right to vote, the believer cannot attend Feasts or other meetings for Baha'is only; cannot contribute to the Fund; or, cannot have a Baha'i marriage ceremony. The restrictions against voting would become operative when the young offender reaches voting age."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Canada, April 14, 1965)


[60] 211. If Acts of Immorality Are Not Generally Known—Gossip

"We feel that each and every case should be reviewed on its own merits. In some cases it is clear that there is no alternative to the removal of voting rights as in the case of marriage without the consent of parents. In other cases, such as those involving flagrant immorality, the removal of voting rights should be resorted to only in rare cases. If the acts of immorality are not generally known and are discoverable only on investigation, a serious question is raised as to whether this immorality is 'flagrant'.


"We realize that a great problem is presented by gossip when it occurs in Baha'i communities, and the poison it can instill into the relationship between the friends. However, deprivation of voting rights is usually of little help in such circumstances and should be resorted to only after other remedies have been tried and failed.


"We think it would be much better for the National Assembly to provide for the proper deepening of the friends and in a loving and patient manner attempt to instill in them a respect for Baha'i laws. Rash action can dampen the zeal of the community, and this must be avoided at all costs."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice written to the National Spiritual Assembly of South and West Africa, August 20, 1969)


212. Community Attitude Toward Those Who Are Deprived of Voting Rights

"The degree to which a community should be active or passive towards a believer who is deprived of his voting rights depends upon the circumstances in each individual case. Obviously, it is desirable that such a person should come to see the error of his ways and rectify his condition. In some cases friendly approaches by the Baha'is may help to attain this; in other cases the individual may react more favourably if left to his own devices for a time."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly, November 1, 1973)


213. The Assemblies Should Be Like the Master and the "Good Shepherd"

"As regards the admittance of new members into the different groups as declared Baha'is, and the expulsion of any from the Community: Shoghi Effendi believes that the Assemblies should not act hurriedly. They should be wise and most considerate, otherwise they can do much harm to the body of the Cause. They should see to it that the new-comer is truly conversant with the teachings, and when he expresses his beliefs in the revelation of Baha'u'llah, knows what he is saying and what are the duties he undertakes.


"On the other hand when any person is expelled, the Assembly should not act hurriedly. There is a great spiritual responsibility attached to the act. The Assemblies do not have only rights against the individuals, they have great duties also. They should act like the good Shepherd whom Christ mentions in His well-known parable. We also have the example of the Master before us. The individual Baha'is were organic parts of His spiritual being. What befell the least one of the friends brought deep affliction and sorrow to Him also. If by chance one of them erred He counselled him and increased His love and affection for him. Only after months of constant attention, if the Master saw that that friend was still stubbornly refusing to reform his ways, and that his being among the other Baha'is endangered the spiritual life of the rest, then He would expel him from the group. This should [61] be the attitude of the Assemblies towards the individuals. The best criterion whereby you can measure the spiritual attainment of an Assembly is the extent its members feel themselves responsible for the welfare of the group. And perchance they feel forced to deprive a person from his vote it should be only to safeguard the rest and not merely to inflict punishment."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, April 11, 1933)


214. The Believer So Deprived Who Makes an Effort to Mend His Ways Should Be Helped

"The deprivation of a person's voting rights should only be restored to when absolutely necessary, and a National Spiritual Assembly should always feel reluctant to impose this very heavy sanction which is a severe punishment. Of course sometimes, to protect the Cause, it must be done, but he feels that if the believer so deprived makes an effort to mend his ways, rectifies his mistakes, or sincerely seeks forgiveness, every effort should be made to help him and enable him to reestablish himself in the Community as a member in good standing."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, May 18, 1948)


215. Baha'is Must Not Dissimulate Their Faith Under Any Circumstances

"The Beloved Guardian has directed me to write you concerning information which he has just received of your having indicated in your application for permanent residence in ..., that you were Protestants—and you did not indicate in any way that you were Baha'is.


"The Guardian has instructed me to inform you that he is shocked and surprised to receive this news, and this action meets with his disapproval. He said that if advance information had been given that such action must not be taken under any circumstances; then there would be only one thing he could do and that would be removal of voting rights.

"Certainly such action in the future would result in immediate removal of voting rights.


"In Persia, even during the period of persecution, when life was in danger, and complete freedom offered to those who indicated they were Muslims and not Baha'is, the Guardian not only deprived anyone who did not openly declare his Faith of his voting rights, but even indicated they were Covenant breakers.


"Thus you will see that it is completely inconsistent for a Baha'i under any circumstances whatsoever, to indicate they are anything but a Baha'i, regardless of what the result may be."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to two believers, April 30, 1957)


216. Summary of the Extent of Deprivation of Voting Rights

"...One who has lost his voting rights is considered to be a Baha'i but not one in good standing. The following restrictions and limitations apply to such a believer:

He cannot attend Nineteen Day Feasts or other meetings for Baha'is only, including International Conferences, and therefore cannot take part in consultation on the affairs of the community.


He cannot contribute to the Baha'i Fund.


[62] He cannot receive newsletters and other bulletins whose circulation is restricted to Baha'is.


He cannot have a Baha'i marriage ceremony and therefore is not able to marry a Baha'i.


He may not have a Baha'i pilgrimage.


Although he is free to teach the Faith on his own behalf, he should not be used as a teacher or speaker in programs sponsored by Baha'is.


He is debarred from participating in administrative matters, including the right to vote in Baha'i elections.


He cannot hold office or be appointed to a committee.


He should not be given credentials (which imply that he is a Baha'i in good standing)."

(From an attachment to a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Netherlands, December 9, 1985)


217. Summary of the Rights and Privileges Not Deprived

"...Although generally speaking a believer deprived of his voting rights is not restricted except as stated above, the following privileges have been expressly stipulated as not denied:

He may attend the observances of the nine Holy Days.


He may attend any Baha'i function open to non-Baha'is.


He may receive any publication available to non-Baha'is.


He is free to teach the Faith as every individual believer has been 

enjoined by Baha'u'llah to teach.


Association with other believers is not forbidden.


He may have the Baha'i burial service if he or his family requests it, and he may be buried in a Baha'i cemetery.


Baha'i charity should not be denied him on the ground that he has lost his voting rights.


Baha'i institutions may employ him, but should use discretion as to the type of work he is to perform.


He should have access to the Spiritual Assembly."

(Ibid.)



K. Appeals


218. Right to and Procedure for Appeal

"When the Local Assembly has given its decision in the matter, you then have the right to appeal, if you wish, to the National Spiritual Assembly for further consideration of your case. But before taking such an action it is your duty as a loyal and steadfast believer to whole-heartedly and unreservedly accept the National Spiritual Assembly's request to enter into joint conference with your Local Assembly. You should have confidence that in obeying the orders of your National Assembly you will not only succeed in solving your own personal problems with the friends, but will in addition set a noble example before them."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, October 2, 1935: The National Spiritual Assembly, p. 55)


219. Appeal from Local Assembly's Decision to the National Assembly

"Appeal can be made from the Local Assembly's decision to the National Assembly, [63] and from the National Assembly's decision to the Guardian.* But the principle of authority invested in our elected bodies must be upheld. This is not something which can be learned without trial and test."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of Germany and Austria, June 30, 1949)

___________________

*(Now to the Universal House of Justice) 


220. Infringement of Baha'i Rights

"...whenever there is any infringement of Baha'i rights, or lapse in the proper procedure, the friends should take the matter up with the Assembly concerned, and if not satisfied, then with the National Spiritual Assembly. This is both their privilege and their duty."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, July 10, 1942: The National Spiritual Assembly, p. 55)


221. Every Baha'i May Write Directly to the Universal House of Justice, But Appeals Should Be Submitted Through the National Spiritual Assembly

"It would seem that your National Assembly has misunderstood the procedure for submitting appeals. Mr. and Mrs. ... were quite correct in sending the appeal to your Assembly and you should have then forwarded it to the Universal House of Justice together with your comments on the case.


"It is true, as you state in your letter of 26th May 1975, that every Baha'i may write direct to the Universal House of Justice but this does not apply in the case of appeals which should be submitted through the National Spiritual Assembly. Only if the Assembly fails to forward the appeal within a reasonable time should the appellant take the case directly to the Universal House of Justice. This process is explained in Article XVIII of the Constitution of the Universal House of Justice."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Germany, June 17, 1975)


222. The Appellant's Request for Referral of Appeal to the Universal House of Justice Cannot Be Refused

"The House of Justice understands and appreciates your motive in striving to contain matters at the national level, and agrees that every effort should be made to resolve them without recourse to the World Centre. At the same time, if an appeal is turned down by the National Spiritual Assembly, the appellant's request for referral to the Universal House of Justice cannot be refused, nor should the referral be unduly delayed."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, July 17, 1979)


223. Committees Should Take Up Their Problems with the National Spiritual Assembly

"Committees should first take up their problems with the National Spiritual Assembly and seek to solve them satisfactorily; if they are dissatisfied they have the right to appeal to the Guardian* himself. The Guardian will then decide whether it is a [64] matter for him to pronounce upon, or if he will refer it back to the National body."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, March 28, 1943)

___________________

*(Now the Universal House of Justice)


"In the event of a committee member disagreeing with the rest of his fellow-members on a particular issue, he has no right to appeal to the Assembly, but must follow the majority."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, November 26, 1938)



L. By-Laws


224. Purpose of By-Laws

"The purpose of the By-Laws is to clarify and strengthen the administrative legal functions of a Baha'i community."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, July 5, 1950: Baha'i News, No. 236, October 1950, pp. 2-3)


225. A Baby Can Be Considered a Baha'i—Declaration Age 15 for Protection

"...As a believer of 15 cannot vote he (Shoghi Effendi) sees no reason for including a statement regarding the age of 15 in the By-Laws. A baby can be considered a Baha'i; 15 is merely the age of maturity for fasting, marriage, etc., and in the case of America, a declaration at that age is invited from the youth in order to protect them, at a future date, from being forced to do active military service."

(Ibid.)


226. New York Version of By-Laws More Correct

"...The original New York By-Laws are more correct, because they differentiate clearly between all members of the Community and voting members who are 21 years of age or more. In other words children under 15 are Baha'is according to the New York version, which is correct, but according to your version only people over 15 years are Baha'is which is not correct.... The declaration of faith by children when they reach the age of 15 in the United States is in order to enable the American Youth to apply for exemption, under the American laws, from active military service. It has no other purpose, but in that country is expedient. It is not necessary to add such a clause to your By-Laws.


"He wishes the essentials to be maintained as per the New York By-Laws, but not amplified and added to, as this will gradually lead, all over the Baha'i world, to a steady addition of unessential rules and restrict the freedom and plasticity of the Cause. As he has repeatedly told the American and other National Assemblies, it is much better to deal with situations and new requirements as they arise, and not to have it all down in black and white and rigid before hand."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of Australia and New Zealand, August 22, 1949: Letters from the Guardian to Australia and New Zealand, p. 77)


227. Matter of Belief in Baha'u'llah Not of Availability for Participation

"...all declarants of the age of 15 years or older who qualify are accepted by your [65] Assembly under the provision of your By-Laws are Baha'is and should be so registered in local communities or in your National office. It is a matter of declaration of belief in Baha'u'llah and not necessarily of availability for participation with fellow believers in their community activities."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, May 18, 1967: National Baha'i Review, February 1968, No. 2, p. 3)


228. The National Spiritual Assembly Must Defend and Uphold Provisions of By-Laws and Declaration of Trust

"...The National Assembly ... must at all times vigilantly uphold, defend, justify and enforce the provisions of the Declaration of Trust and By-Laws which are binding on the Convention no less than on themselves. The National Spiritual Assembly has the right to lay down, enforce and interpret the National Constitution of the Baha'is in that land. It cannot, if it wishes to remain faithful to that Constitution, lay down any regulations, however secondary in character, that would in the least hamper the unrestricted liberty of the delegates to advise and elect those whom they feel best combine the necessary qualifications for membership of so exalted a body."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, August 18, 1933)


229. International Uniformity in the Essentials is to be Maintained—The Local By-Laws

"The Guardian is striving to build up uniformity in essentials all over the Baha'i World, and this frequently involves a small measure of delay in achieving our various goals set locally. But he considers it sufficiently important to warrant the sacrifices it sometimes involves.


"In this connection he would like to mention your Local By-Laws: He feels that they should conform much more closely to the original one of the New York Assembly. What is absolutely essential was incorporated in those, and all other Local Assemblies being incorporated should follow this pattern as closely as local legal technicalities permit. This again is in order to maintain international uniformity in essentials. It is not a question here of whether the By-Laws drawn up by your Legal Committee are not more up-to-date and do not represent the last word, undoubtedly they are and do, but if every country, when drawing up its local By-Laws, continues this process of elaboration, in the end uniformity will be lost. The Eastern Assemblies have adhered to the original By-Laws so carefully that they have practically translated them word for word and adopted them."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of Australia and New Zealand, December 30, 1948)


230. Decisions of Local and National Assemblies Subject to Review by Higher Body—No Contradiction in By-Laws

"...Mr. ... explained that it was felt that there is a seeming contradiction between the right of appeal to the Universal House of Justice and the right of a National Spiritual Assembly to make 'final' decisions on certain matters as stated in the National Baha'i Constitution.


"The House of Justice instructs us to explain that wherever 'final' jurisdiction is given to the Local or National Spiritual Assembly in its constitution there is a balancing provision. For example:


[66] "Article IV of the Local Assembly By-Laws states: 'while retaining the sacred right of final decision in all matters pertaining to the Baha'i community, the Spiritual Assembly shall ever seek the advice and consultation of all members of the community, keep the community informed of all its affairs, and invite full and free discussion on the part of the community in all matters affecting the Faith.' Yet, Article III of those same Local By-Laws states: 'The Spiritual Assembly, however, shall recognize the authority and right of the National Spiritual Assembly to declare at any time what activities and affairs of the Baha'i community of ... are national in scope and hence subject to the jurisdiction of the National Assembly.' And in Article II is stated: '...the Spiritual Assembly shall act in conformity with the functions of a Local Spiritual Assembly as defined in the By-Laws adopted by the National Spiritual Assembly...'

"With respect to those articles that accord final jurisdiction to the National Spiritual Assembly, there is the overriding provision of Article IX of the National By-Laws: 'Where the National Spiritual Assembly has been given in these By-Laws exclusive and final jurisdiction, and paramount executive authority, in all matters pertaining to the activities and affairs of the Baha'i Cause in ..., it is understood that any decision made or action taken upon such matters shall be subject in every instance to ultimate review and approval by the Universal House of Justice.'


"It is clear, therefore, that the word 'final' is not used in an absolute sense. It is, rather, an indication of the principle enunciated by 'Abdu'l-Baha that the believers should whole-heartedly and loyally support their Assemblies and abide by their decisions, even if they see them to be in error. At the same time, the Assemblies have the duty to lovingly and frankly consult with those who are under their jurisdiction and, if a believer (or Local Assembly) feels that a serious injustice is being committed or the interests of the Faith are being adversely affected, he has the right of appeal. When an appeal is made, the Assembly whose decision is being questioned should lovingly collaborate in the process and join with the appellant in submitting all relevant information to the higher body for decision.


"The whole matter of appeals is clearly summarized in Articles VII and VIII of the By-Laws of the Universal House of Justice."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Spain, March 24, 1982)


231. Incorporation is Not Necessarily Lost by the Temporary Dissolution of the Local Spiritual Assembly

"The problem posed by an Assembly's being incorporated varies from country to country with differences in the civil law. However, the House of Justice asks us to draw to your attention that in many countries it is only changes in the membership or officers of an incorporated body that have to be reported to the authorities, and therefore it is not always necessary to report the full membership each year. There have even been instances where an Assembly has had to be dissolved for a period but the corporation continued to exist as far as the civil law was concerned."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Canada, July 22, 1981)



M. New Believers


[67] 232. The Cause of God Has Room for All

"The Cause of God has room for all. It would, indeed, not be the Cause of God if it did not take in and welcome everyone—poor and rich, educated and ignorant, the unknown and the prominent—God surely wants them all, as He created them all."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to two individual believers, December 10, 1942: The Individual and Teaching, p. 25)


233. 'Abdu'l-Baha's Example—Nurse New Believer Patiently

"...Let him remember the example set by 'Abdu'l-Baha, and His constant admonition to shower such kindness upon the seeker, and exemplify to such a degree the spirit of the teachings he hopes to instill into him, that the recipient will be spontaneously impelled to identify himself with the Cause embodying such teachings. Let him refrain, at the outset from insisting on such laws and observances as might impose too severe a strain on the seeker's newly-awakened faith, and endeavour to nurse him, patiently, tactfully, and yet determinedly, into full maturity, and aid him to proclaim his unqualified acceptance of whatever has been ordained by Baha'u'llah. Let him, as soon as that stage has been attained, introduce him to the body of his fellow-believers, and seek, through constant fellowship and active participation in the local activities of his community... Let him not be content until he has infused into his spiritual child so deep a longing as to impel him to arise independently, in his turn, and devote his energies to the quickening of other souls, and the upholding of the laws and principles laid down by his newly-adopted Faith."

(Shoghi Effendi: The Advent of Divine Justice, p. 52)


234. The Two Extremes in Bringing in New Baha'is

"The believers must discriminate between the two extremes of bringing people into the Cause before they have fully grasped its fundamentals and making it too hard for them, expecting too much of them, before they accept them. This requires truly keen judgment, as it is unfair to people to allow them to embrace a movement the true meaning of which they have not fully grasped. It is equally unfair to expect them to be perfect Baha'is before they can enter the Faith. Many teaching problems arise out of these two extremes."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, November 22, 1941: Baha'i News, No. 241, p. 2, March 1951)


235. No Obstacles Should Be Placed Before Any Soul

"No obstacle should be placed before any soul which might prevent it from finding the truth. Baha'u'llah revealed His directions, teachings and laws, so that souls might know God, and not that any utterance might become an obstacle in their way."

('Abdu'l-Baha in the Holy Land answers questions of Dr. Edward C. Getsinger in 1915: Star of the West, Vol. 6, No. 6, p. 43)


236. Enrollments, New—Those Responsible for

"...Therefore, those responsible for accepting new enrollments must just be sure [68] of one thing—that the heart of the applicant has been touched with the spirit of the Faith. Everything else can be built on this foundation gradually."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of Central and East Africa, August 8, 1957: A Special Measure of Love, p. 21)


237. The Process of Becoming a Baha'i is an Evolutionary One

"The Guardian fully shares your view that it would be most unwise, and unfair to those who apply for membership in the Community to require that they should at first accept all the laws of the Faith. Such a requirement would be impossible to carry out as there are many laws in the 'Aqdas' with which even the well-confirmed and long-standing believers are not yet familiar. As you rightly point out the process of becoming a Baha'i is an evolutionary one, and requires considerable time, and sustained effort on the part of the new believer. Such questions as the withdrawal from Church membership and that of abstention from alcoholic liquors should not be thrust upon the newcomer, but explained to him gradually, so that he himself may be convinced of the truth underlying these ordinances of the Cause."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, February 17, 1938)


238. Admittance Into the Faith—Essential Prerequisites

"Indeed, the essential prerequisites of admittance into the Baha'i fold of Jews, Zoroastrians, Hindus, Buddhists, and the followers of other ancient Faiths, as well as of agnostics and even atheists, is the whole-hearted and unqualified acceptance by them all of the Divine origin of both Islam and Christianity, of the Prophetic functions of both Muhammad and Jesus Christ, of the legitimacy of the institution of the Imamate, and of the primacy of St. Peter, the Prince of the Apostles. Such are the central, the solid, the incontrovertible principles that constitute the bedrock of Baha'i belief which the Faith of Baha'u'llah is proud to acknowledge, which its teachers proclaim, which its apologists defend, which its literature disseminates, which its summer schools expound, and which the rank and file of its followers attest by both word and deed."

(Shoghi Effendi: The Promised Day is Come, p. 114)


239. On Becoming a Baha'i

"When a person becomes a Baha'i, he gives up the past only in the sense that he is a part of this new and living Faith of God, and must seek to pattern himself, in act and thought, along the lines laid down by Baha'u'llah. The fact that he is by origin a Jew or a Christian, a black man or a white man, is not important anymore, but, as you say, lends color and charm to the Baha'i community in that it demonstrates unity in diversity."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, March 12, 1949: Baha'i News, No. 251, p. 2, January 1952)


240. Warning to Every Beginner in the Faith

"I consider it my duty to warn every beginner in the Faith that the promised glories of the Sovereignty which the Baha'i teachings foreshadow, can be revealed only in the fulness of time, that the implications of the Aqdas and the Will of 'Abdu'l-Baha, as the twin repositories of the constituent elements of that Sovereignty, are too far-reaching for this generation to grasp and fully [69] appreciate. I cannot refrain from appealing to them who stand identified with the Faith to disregard the prevailing notions and the fleeting fashions of the day, and to realize as never before that the exploded theories and the tottering institutions of present-day civilization must needs appear in sharp contrast with those God-given institutions which are destined to arise upon their ruin."

(Shoghi Effendi: The World Order of Baha'u'llah, p. 16)


241. Not Sufficient to Accept Some Aspects of Teachings and Reject Others

"...The believers, and particularly those who have not had sufficient experience in teaching, should be very careful in the way they present the teachings of the Cause. Sincerity, devotion and faith are not the sole conditions of successful teaching. Tactfulness, extreme caution and wisdom are equally important. We should not be in a hurry when we announce the message to the public and we should be careful to present the teachings in their entirety and not to alter them for the sake of others. Allegiance to the Faith cannot be partial and half-hearted. Either we should accept the Cause without any qualification whatever, or cease calling ourselves Baha'is. The new believers should be made to realize that it is not sufficient for them to accept some aspects of the teachings and reject those which cannot suit their mentality in order to become fully recognized and active followers of the Faith. In this way all sorts of misunderstandings will vanish and the organic unity of the Cause will be preserved."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, June 12, 1933: Baha'i News, No. 80, p. 5, January 1934)


242. When Enrolling New Believers, Must Be Wise and Gentle

"When enrolling new believers, we must be wise and gentle, and not place so many obstacles in their way that they feel it impossible to accept the Faith. On the other hand, once accorded membership in the Community of the followers of Baha'u'llah, it must be brought home to them that they are expected to live up to His Teachings, and to show forth the signs of a noble character in conformity with His Laws. This can often be done gradually, after the new believer is enrolled."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the British National Spiritual Assembly, June 25, 1953: Teaching the Masses, p. 6)


243. If Requirements to Enroll Made Too Rigorous, Will Cool Off Initial Enthusiasm

"...If we make the requirements too rigorous, we will cool off the initial enthusiasm, rebuff the hearts and cease to expand rapidly. The essential thing is that the candidate for enrollment should believe in his heart in the truth of Baha'u'llah. Whether he is literate or illiterate, informed of all the Teachings or not, is beside the point entirely. When the spark of faith exists the essential Message is there, and gradually everything else can be added unto it..."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of South and West Africa, July 9, 1957: Teaching the Masses, p. 12)


244. A Baha'i Must Be Wholly a Baha'i; Must Not Be Insular

"...the very essence of the reason a person has accepted Baha'u'llah is that he has decided this Way alone is the solution to the absolutely hopeless problems facing humanity. A Baha'i must be wholly a Baha'i, concentrate on the work of the Cause, [70] and put aside from his mind the distracting influences that scream at him from every newspaper these days. Naturally, this does not mean he must be insular, it means he must concentrate more consciously on doing the work of the Cause!"

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, November 23, 1951: United States Supplement to Baha'i News, No. 82, p. 5, December 1964)


245. A True Baha'i Should Justify His Claim to be a Baha'i

"They should justify their claim to be Baha'is by deeds and not by name...

"He is a true Baha'i who strives by day and by night to progress along the path of human endeavor, whose cherished desire is so to live and act as to enrich and illumine the world; whose source of inspiration is the essence of Divine Perfection, whose aim in life is to conduct himself so as to be the cause of infinite progress. Only when he attains unto such perfect gifts can it be said of him that he is a Baha'i."

('Abdu'l-Baha: Baha'i Revelation, p. 285)


246. The Primary Reason for Becoming a Baha'i

"The primary reason for anyone becoming a Baha'i must of course be because he has come to believe the doctrines, the teachings and the Order of Baha'u'llah are the correct thing for this stage in the world's evolution. The Baha'is themselves as a body have one great advantage: They are sincerely convinced Baha'u'llah is right; they have a plan; and they are trying to follow it. But to pretend they are perfect, that the Baha'is of the future will not be a hundred times more mature, better balanced, more exemplary in their conduct, would be foolish."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, July 5, 1947: Teaching Work Among the Masses, p. 2)


247. Ploughing Up the Soil of the Heart

"When a person becomes a Baha'i, actually what takes place is that the seed of the spirit starts to grow in the human soul. This seed must be watered by the outpourings of the Holy Spirit. These gifts of the spirit are received through prayer, meditation, study of the Holy Utterances and service to the Cause of God. The fact of the matter is that service in the Cause is like the plough which ploughs the physical soil when seeds are sown. It is necessary that the soil be ploughed up, so that it can be enriched, and thus cause a stronger growth of the seed. In exactly the same way the evolution of the spirit takes place through ploughing up the soil of the heart so that it is a constant reflection of the Holy Spirit. In this way the human spirit grows and develops by leaps and bounds.

"Naturally there will be periods of distress and difficulty, and even severe tests; but if that person turns firmly toward the divine Manifestation, studies carefully His spiritual teachings and receives the blessings of the Holy Spirit, he will find that in reality these tests and difficulties have been the gifts of God to enable him to grow and develop."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, October 6, 1954: Living the Life, pp. 18-19)


248. New Believers Must Not Be Left to Their Own Devices

"After declaration, the new believers must not be left to their own devices. [71] Through correspondence and dispatch of visitors, through conferences and training courses, these friends must be patiently strengthened and lovingly helped to develop into full Baha'i maturity. The beloved Guardian referring to the duties of Baha'i Assemblies in assisting the newly declared believer has written: '...the members of each and every Assembly should endeavour, by their patience, their love, their tact and wisdom, to nurse, subsequent to his admission, the newcomer into Baha'i maturity, and win him over gradually to the unreserved acceptance of whatever has been ordained in the Teachings.'"

(From a letter written by the Universal House of Justice to all National Spiritual Assemblies, July 13, 1964: Wellspring of Guidance, pp. 32-33)


249. Deepening the Spiritual Life of the Individual Believers

"Above all, the duty of deepening the spiritual life of your newly-enrolled co-workers is paramount, for the fate of the entire community depends upon the individual believers. Without the whole-hearted support of each and every one of the friends, every measure adopted, no matter how well thought out, is fore-doomed to failure. It is the individual believers who must maintain the Local Assemblies, and the centres already won at the cost of such great sacrifice. It is they who must, afire with the love of Baha'u'llah, go forth to further broaden the base of administrative activity by forming new Assemblies and implanting the standard of Baha'u'llah in new localities; who must arise in response to the call to travel to the remote outposts of the Faith and push back the frontiers; and who must, through your wise and loving guidance, become your collaborators in carrying out your God-given mission."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, August 14, 1968: National Baha'i Review, No. 10, p. 1, 10/68: Messages from The Universal House of Justice, 1968-1973, p. 16)


250. Assemblies and Committees Must Enable Believers to Carry Forth Message of God

"Now that they have erected the administrative machinery of the Cause they must put it to its real use—serving only as an instrument to facilitate the flow of the spirit of the Faith out into the world. Just as the muscles enable the body to carry out the will of the individual, all Assemblies and Committees must enable the believers to carry forth the message of God to the waiting public, the love of Baha'u'llah, and the healing laws and principles of the Faith to all men."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, July 6, 1942)


251. If One Desires to Become a Baha'i, His Past Should Not Be Held Against Him

"The Guardian does not feel that, if a person has approached this Cause and desires to become a Baha'i, and is determined to change his way of life, his past should be held against him. Where would forgiveness be if every prospective Baha'i was judged by his past? But once a Baha'i, a change of life is expected and hoped for, and the friends must help people to change."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, June 29, 1951)


"Also there is no reason why a prisoner should not be accepted as a declared believer on the same basis as anybody else. They are now expiating their crime [72] against society, and, if their hearts have changed, and they accept the Cause, there is no reason why they should be excluded from membership."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the Spiritual Assembly of Honolulu, April 23, 1955)


252. Convert Advised Not to Become Alienated from Parents

"It made him very happy to know of the recent confirmation of your young Jewish friend, and of her earnest desire to serve and promote the Faith. He will certainly pray on her behalf that she may, notwithstanding the opposition of her parents and relatives, increasingly gain in knowledge and in understanding of the Teachings, and become animated with such a zeal as to arise, and bring into the Cause a large number of her former co-religionists.


"Under no circumstances, however, should she allow her parents to become completely alienated from her, but it is her bounden duty to strive, through patient, continued and loving effort, to win their sympathy for the Faith, and even perhaps, to bring about their confirmation, however deep-rooted their attachment to the Jewish Faith may be."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, July 6, 1938)


253. Assembly Should Not Prevent Enrollment of Persons With Questionable Morals—When Accepted New Enrollees Should Henceforth Conduct Themselves As Baha'is

"The young lady in question should be advised by you or the believer with whom she has been studying that the decision as to whether or not she wishes to enroll in the Faith rests with her and her alone. Your Assembly should not prevent her from enrolling should she so decide, but if she does apply for membership in the community, she obviously should understand that she will be expected to conduct herself as a Baha'i by adjusting her relationship to the man with whom she is presently living. This means that either they must become legally married or she should sever the existing relationship between them.


"Your Local Spiritual Assembly is responsible to guide and assist this young lady, including helping her to obtain whatever welfare and legal assistance may be available from State or Federal sources."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to a Local Spiritual Assembly, April 4, 1977)


254. May Be Occasions When Enrollment Must Be Postponed

"There may be occasions when an enrollment must be postponed, as in the case of someone holding a political post, unless that person is able and can, in good conscience, resign from such a post immediately. Other cases may permit acceptance but indicate a need for fixing a time when the individual will be required to conform to certain laws, such as membership in the Masonic Order, church, or other ecclesiastical organizations. Still other times an individual may be encouraged to become better acquainted with the spirit, laws, and principles of the Faith before submitting his application. However, the Guardian has cautioned us not to be too rigid in our requirements for accepting new believers or to place hindrances in their way. The question of conforming one's character and the pattern of one's life to the standards of conduct upheld in the Baha'i way of life is a matter which should [73] be inculcated in the new believer in the course of his spiritual education and deepening."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, May 13, 1979)


255. Qualifications of a Believer

"Regarding the very delicate and complex question of ascertaining the qualifications of a true believer, I cannot in this connection emphasize too strongly the supreme necessity for the exercise of the utmost discretion, caution and tact, whether it be in deciding for ourselves as to who may be regarded a true believer or in disclosing to the outside world such considerations as may serve as a basis for such a decision. I would only venture to state very briefly and as adequately as present circumstances permit the principal factors that must be taken into consideration before deciding whether a person may be regarded a true believer or not. Full recognition of the station of the Forerunner, the Author, and the True Exemplar of the Baha'i Cause, as set forth in 'Abdu'l-Baha's Testament; unreserved acceptance of, and submission to, whatsoever has been revealed by their Pen; loyal and steadfast adherence to every clause of our Beloved's sacred Will; and close association with the spirit as well as the form of the present day Baha'i administration throughout the world—these I conceive to be the fundamental and primary considerations that must be fairly, discreetly and thoughtfully ascertained before reaching such a vital decision...."

(Shoghi Effendi: Baha'i Administration, p. 90)


256. The Process of Acceptance Varies—Stage of Conviction Important

"The process by which a new believer reaches this stage of acceptance varies according to his individual capacity. In some societies, for example, most believers must go through all sorts of intellectual processes and a re-orientation of their thinking before coming to this acceptance. In a primitive society the new believer may reach this stage of conviction quite easily and directly. The stage of conviction is the important thing, and not the method by which he arrives at this conviction."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly, November 9, 1963)


257. Declarants Need Not Know All the Proofs—Spark of Faith

"...Those who declare themselves as Baha'is should become enchanted with the beauty of the Teachings, and touched by the love of Baha'u'llah. The declarants need not know all the proofs, history, laws, and principles of the Faith, but in the process of declaring themselves they must, in addition to catching the spark of faith, become basically informed about the Central Figures of the Faith, as well as the existence of laws they must follow and an administration they must obey."

(From a message from the Universal House of Justice to all National Spiritual Assemblies, July 13, 1964: Teaching the Masses, p. 2)


258. Acceptance of New Believers Left to Discretion of Assembly

"As regards the accepting of new believers, it is for the National Spiritual Assembly to decide the appropriate procedure to be followed. Naturally, when there is a firmly established Local Spiritual Assembly, as in Bombay, the National Assembly will normally endorse the Local Assembly's decision unless there is a particular reason to query it in any specific case. However, in the case of declarations from an area [74] where there is no Local Assembly, or where the Assembly is having difficulty in functioning, the National Spiritual Assembly itself will have to decide whether to accept them, basing its decision on the views of such teaching committee, individuals or neighbouring Local Spiritual Assembly, as it may feel necessary.


"We have noted that you have advised the Local Spiritual Assemblies to meet new believers at the time of their enrollment in the Faith. While it would be desirable for new believers to become acquainted with the elected members of their community, this should not be a requirement for acceptance of the new believer in the community.


"It is entirely within the discretion of your National Assembly to set up proper procedures for enrolling believers in accordance with the requirements of the areas under your jurisdiction, bearing in mind that where there are local Assemblies it would be preferable to enroll new believers in their area of jurisdiction through the Local Assembly."

(Extracts from letters written by the Universal House of Justice on this subject cited in a letter to an individual believer, dated February 28, 1973)


259. Mental Instability Has No Bearing Upon Acceptance of an Enrollment

"In response to your letter of 11 March 1981, conveying the question of one of your Local Spiritual Assemblies about the enrollment of individuals who are mentally incompetent, drug users, alcoholics, etc., the Universal House of Justice asks us to convey the following.


"The acceptance of a person into the Baha'i community should be based not on whether he is leading an exemplary life, but on whether the Assembly is reasonably certain that he is sincere in his declaration of faith in Baha'u'llah and that he knows of the laws which would affect his personal conduct, so that he does not enter the community under a misapprehension. The question of mental instability has no bearing upon the acceptance of an enrollment unless it is of such a nature that it affects the ability of the declarant to judge whether or not he believes in Baha'u'llah."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Hawaiian Islands, April 19, 1981)


260. In These Special Cases, Steps Should Be Taken to Deepen Their Understanding

"Concerning the acceptance into the Faith of individuals who have mental problems or are drug addicts, etc., the House of Justice instructs us to say that if the Assembly is satisfied that the person is sufficiently in command of his faculties to understand what his declaration of faith implies, he may be accepted as a believer. In other words you should apply the normal guidelines of acceptance of new believers. In such cases, however, you may have to ensure that special steps are taken to deepen the understanding of the new Baha'i. A drug addict or alcoholic should, of course, be told that the taking of drugs and alcohol is strictly forbidden in Baha'i law, and he will have to do whatever is necessary to break himself of the addiction. You may find it necessary and helpful to put him in touch with organizations which specialize in helping such cases. If a case is severe you may have to warn the person that if he does not overcome this problem within a reasonable time you may have to consider depriving him of his voting rights."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Austria, May 12, 1982)


[75] 261. Declaration of Faith Normally Accepted from Those Living in Immoral Situation or from Member of an Organization Not Permissible—To Be Given Time to Rectify Situation

"In the case of people who accept the Faith while living in a situation which is not morally acceptable, or while being a member of an organization to which it is not permissible for a Baha'i to belong, the normal procedure is for the Assembly to accept the declaration of faith so that the new believer may become a member of the Baha'i community and his newly-born belief in Baha'u'llah can be nurtured, and at the same time for the Assembly to explain that his situation is one that he must change within a reasonable time. If the believer does not rectify his situation as a result of the Assembly's exhortations and assistance, and following due warnings when the time limit expires, the Assembly would have to consider depriving him of his administrative rights. It may well be, however, that in a particular case, it is preferable to explain the matter to the individual concerned and advise the postponement of the registration of his acceptance of the Faith until such time as he has been able to rectify his situation. This has happened, for example, in some countries where a person who holds a prominent political post has accepted the Faith and needs to complete his term of office before being able to withdraw honourably from politics."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, June 18, 1985)


262. Children Are Accepted as Baha'is Regardless of Age

"...if the non-Baha'i parents of a youth under fifteen permit their child to be a Baha'i, we have no objection whatsoever from the point of view of our Teachings to permitting such a youth to declare as a Baha'i, regardless of age. When he declares his faith in Baha'u'llah, he will then be accepted in the community and be treated as other Baha'i children."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of El Salvador, December 14, 1970)


263. Prisoners, Declarations from

"We have your letter of 16th November, 1969 inquiring about the status of Baha'is who are imprisoned and whether it is permissible to enroll prisoners who wish to join the Faith.


"You are free to accept declarations of faith from inmates of a prison, but their participation as voting believers can take place only after they have been discharged from prison. The fact of having been in prison does not deprive a Baha'i from exercising his voting rights when he is released and there is no need for a probationary period. However, if there is some other factor which would indicate to the National Assembly that in a particular case the voting rights should be suspended, the National Assembly may then exercise its discretion."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the South Pacific Ocean, December 8, 1969)


264. Signature on Card is to Satisfy Administrative Requirements—There is a Difference Between Character and Faith

"You have asked if the mere declaration of faith by a newcomer suffices to recognize him as a Baha'i, and whether living the Baha'i life should not be [76] regarded as the basis of admission into the Faith. You should bear in mind that the signature on a card, in the sense that it represents a record of the date of the declaration and data about the declarant, is to satisfy administrative requirements enabling the enrollment of the new believer in the community. The deeper implications of the act of declaration of faith are between the individual and God. Shoghi Effendi has made several statements on this important subject, and we have been asked to share with you the following two excerpts from letters written on his behalf to individual believers:


'There is a difference between character and faith; it is often very hard to accept this fact and put up with it, but the fact remains that a person may believe in and love the Cause—even to being ready to die for it—and yet not have a good personal character, or possess traits at variance with the teachings. We should try to change, to let the Power of God help recreate us and make us true Baha'is in deed as well as in belief. But sometimes the process is slow, sometimes it never happens because the individual does not try hard enough. But these things cause us suffering and are a test to us in our fellow-believers, most especially if we love them and have been their teacher!'


'The process of becoming a Baha'i is necessarily slow and gradual. The essential is not that the beginner should have a full and detailed knowledge of the Cause, a thing which is obviously impossible in the vast majority of cases, but that he should, by an act of his own will, be willing to uphold and follow the truth and guidance set forth in the Teachings, and thus open his heart and mind to the reality of the Manifestation.'"

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, June 7, 1974: Baha'i News of India, p. 2, July/August, 1974)


265. Enrolment Card—Not a Universal Requirement

"There is no requirement in Baha'i administration for a new believer to sign an enrolment card. It is for each National Spiritual Assembly to decide, in the light of conditions in the territory under its jurisdiction, how it wishes a declaration of faith to be made. For a number of reasons it has been found in most countries that an enrolment card is a simple and useful way of registering new believers, but this is not a universal requirement...."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Germany, October 28, 1975)


266. Duty of Assembly to Newly Enrolled Believer

"Above all, the utmost endeavour should be exerted by your Assembly to familiarize the newly enrolled believers with the fundamental and spiritual verities of the Faith, and with the origins, the aims and purposes, as well as the processes of a divinely appointed Administrative Order, to acquaint them more fully with the history of the Faith, to instil in them a deeper understanding of the Covenants of both Baha'u'llah and of 'Abdu'l-Baha, to enrich their spiritual life, to rouse them to a greater effort and a closer participation in both the teaching of the Faith and the administration of its activities, and to inspire them to make the necessary sacrifices for the furtherance of its vital interests. For as the body of the avowed supporters of the Faith is enlarged, and the basis of the structure of its Administrative Order is broadened, and the fame [77] of the rising community spreads far and wide, a parallel progress must be achieved, if the fruits already garnered are to endure in the spiritual quickening of its members and the deepening of their inner life."

(Postscript by the Guardian to a letter written on his behalf to the National Spiritual Assembly of Canada, June 26, 1956: Messages to Canada, pp. 61-62)



N. The Believers' Relationship with the Assemblies


267. Being a Baha'i Essentially an Inner Thing

"It is good for the Baha'is to learn that being a Baha'i is essentially an inner thing, or way of life, and not dependent on fixed patterns. Important as our organized institutions are, they are not the Faith itself. The strength of the Cause grows no matter how much disrupted its activities may temporarily be. This we see over and over again, in lands where the Faith has been temporarily banned; at times when the believers are persecuted and even killed; where they are serving all alone or scattered and isolated...."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the Program Committee of Geyserville, November 11, 1951: Baha'i News, No. 257, p. 4, July 1952)


268. Should Have Respect for National and Local Assemblies

"We should respect the National Spiritual Assembly and the Local Spiritual Assembly because they are institutions founded by Baha'u'llah. It has nothing to do with personality, but is far above it. It will be a great day when the friends, on and off the Assemblies, come to fully grasp the fact that it is not the individuals on an Assembly which is important, but the Assembly as an institution."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, July 7, 1949: The National Spiritual Assembly, p. 19)


269. This Great Prize, This Gift of God—Local Spiritual Assembly

"...The friends are called upon to give their whole-hearted support and cooperation to the Local Spiritual Assembly, first by voting for the membership and then by energetically pursuing its plans and programmes, by turning to it in time of trouble or difficulty, by praying for its success and taking delight in its rise to influence and honour. This great prize, this gift of God within each community must be cherished, nurtured, loved, assisted, obeyed and prayed for."

(From the Naw-Ruz Message of the Universal House of Justice to the Baha'is of the World, 1974)


270. Assembly is a Nascent House of Justice—Individuals Toward Each Other Governed by Love, Unity, etc.

"...There is a tendency to mix up the functions of the Administration and try to apply it in individual relationships, which is abortive, because the Assembly is a nascent House of Justice and is supposed to administer, according to the Teachings, the affairs of the community. But individuals toward each other are governed by love, unity, forgiveness and a sin-covering eye. Once the friends grasp this they will get along much better, but they keep playing Spiritual Assembly to each other and expect the Assembly to behave like an individual...."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, October 5, 1950: Living the Life, p. 17)


[78] 271. Two Kinds of Baha'is

"There are two kinds of Baha'is, one might say: those whose religion is Baha'i and those who live for the Faith. Needless to say if one can belong to the latter category, if one can be in the vanguard of heroes, martyrs and saints, it is more praiseworthy in the sight of God."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, April 16, 1950: Living the Life, p. 16)


272. Spiritual Children Should Not Cling to Misconceptions of Their Teachers

"As to your question about the spiritual children of people who enter the Cause with some old ideas still clinging to them: Everyone should study the Faith for himself, and just because a person's Baha'i teacher has some concept not strictly Baha'i it does not stand to reason that the new believer must be saddled with it; old believers, as well as new, should constantly endeavour to grow more fully into the Baha'i pattern of thought and of life. Each soul receives the gift of faith for himself, and from then on is a Baha'i in his own right, independent of his teacher."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, July 17, 1945)


273. Assemblies Should Inspire Confidence in Individual Believers

"...the Local Assemblies should inspire confidence in the individual believers, and these in their turn should express their readiness to fully abide by the decisions and directions of the Local Assembly; the two must learn to co-operate, and to realize that only through such a co-operation can the institutions of the Cause effectively and permanently function. While obedience to the Local Assembly should be unqualified and whole-hearted, yet that body should enforce its directions in such a way as to avoid giving the impression that it is animated by dictatorial motives. The spirit of the Cause is one of mutual co-operation, and not that of a dictatorship."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, October 28, 1935: The Local Spiritual Assembly, p. 23)


274. Buckets-Full of Administrative Information: Putting Out the First Sparks

"...The process of educating people of different customs and backgrounds must be done with the greatest patience and understanding, and rules and regulations not imposed upon them, except where a rock-bottom essential is in question. He feels sure that your Assembly is capable of carrying on its work in this spirit, and of fanning the hearts to flame through the fire of the love of God, rather than putting out the first sparks with buckets-full of administrative information and regulations."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of South and West Africa, July 9, 1957: Ibid.)


275. Look to the Teachings

"...You should, under no circumstances, feel discouraged, and allow such difficulties, even though they may have resulted from the misconduct, or the lack of capacity and vision of certain members of the Community, to make you waver in your faith and basic loyalty to the Cause. Surely, the believers, no matter how [79] qualified they may be, whether as teachers or administrators, and however high their intellectual and spiritual merits, should never be looked upon as a standard whereby to evaluate and measure the divine authority and mission of the Faith. It is to the Teachings themselves, and to the lives of the Founders of the Cause that the believers should look for their guidance and inspiration, and only by keeping strictly to such true attitude can they hope to establish their loyalty to Baha'u'llah upon an enduring and unassailable basis. You should take heart, therefore, and with unrelaxing vigilance and unremitting effort endeavour to play your full share in the gradual unfoldment of this Divine World Order."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, August 23, 1939: Living the Life, p. 7)


276. Two Principles to Follow: Doctrinal and Administrative Unity

"There are two main principles which the Guardian wishes the friends to always bear in mind and to conscientiously and faithfully follow. First is the principle of unqualified and wholehearted loyalty to the revealed Word. The believers should be careful not to deviate, even a hair-breadth, from the Teachings. Their supreme consideration should be to safeguard the purity of the principles, tenets and laws of the Faith. It is only by this means that they can hope to maintain the organic unity of the Cause. There can and should be no liberal or conservatives, no moderates or extremes in the Cause. For they are all subject to the one and the same law which is the Law of God. This Law transcends all differences, all personal or local tendencies, moods and aspirations.


"Next is the principle of complete and immediate obedience to the Assemblies, both Local and National. It is the responsibility of these Baha'i administrative bodies to enable the community to acquire, and increasingly deepen in, the knowledge and understanding of the Cause. Doctrinal unity and administrative unity, these are the two chief pillars that sustain the edifice of the Cause, and protect it from the storms of opposition which so severely rage against it."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of India and Burma, September 5, 1936: Dawn of a New Day, p. 61)


277. Baha'i Administration—Instrument of Spirit of the Faith

"The friends must never mistake the Baha'i administration for an end in itself. It is merely the instrument of the spirit of the Faith. This Cause is a Cause which God has revealed to humanity as a whole. It is designed to benefit the entire human race, and the only way it can do this is to reform the community life of mankind, as well as seeking to regenerate the individual. The Baha'i administration is only the first shaping of what in future will come to be the social life and laws of community living. As yet the believers are only first beginning to grasp and practice it properly. So we must have patience if at times it seems a little self conscious and rigid in its workings. It is because we are learning something very difficult but very wonderful—how to live together as a community of Baha'is, according to the glorious teachings."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, October 14, 1941: The Local Spiritual Assembly, pp. 28-29)


278. Baha'i World Community Develops New Cells, New Organs

"In the human body, every cell, every organ, every nerve has its part to play. [80] When all do so the body is healthy, vigorous, radiant, ready for every call made upon it. No cell, however humble, lives apart from the body, whether in serving it or receiving from it. This is true of the body of mankind in which God 'has endowed each humble being with ability and talent', and is supremely true of the body of the Baha'i World Community, for this body is already an organism, united in its aspirations, unified in its methods, seeking assistance and confirmation from the same Source, and illumined with the conscious knowledge of its unity... The Baha'i World Community, growing like a healthy new body, develops new cells, new organs, new functions and powers as it presses on to its maturity, when every soul, living for the Cause of God, will receive from that Cause, health, assurance, and the overflowing bounties of Baha'u'llah which are diffused through His divinely ordained Order."

(Message from the Universal House of Justice to the Baha'is of the World, September 1964: Wellspring of Guidance, pp. 37-38)


279. Believers Should Turn to Assemblies for Advice and Help

"The believers should learn to turn more often to their Assemblies for advice and help and at an earlier date, and the Assemblies, on the other hand, should act with more vigilance and a greater sense of community responsibility towards every situation that may damage the prestige of the Faith in the eyes of the public. When decisions have been reached by the Assembly, they must be carried out loyally and willingly, by all concerned."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, March 13, 1944: The Local Spiritual Assembly, p. 26)


280. Mission of Baha'u'llah, Friends Are Trustees of

"The friends have a great duty, first towards the Cause and then towards society at large. Baha'u'llah has come to the world with a divine Message and devoted all His life and withstood all forms of persecution in the hope of establishing it firmly. We are now the trustees of that Mission. It is for us to bring that task begun by Baha'u'llah to a final consummation. Should we fail, we have been untrue to our Lord and also remained deaf to the cry of humanity seeking salvation."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, November 15, 1931: Baha'i News, No. 71, p. 2, February 1933)


281. Believers Should Have Confidence in Assembly

"The believers should have confidence in the directions and orders of their Assembly, even though they may not be convinced of their justice or right. Once the Assembly, through a majority vote of its members, comes to a decision the friends should readily obey it. Specially those dissenting members within the Assembly whose opinion is contrary to that of the majority of their fellow-members should set a good example before the community by sacrificing their personal views for the sake of obeying the principle of majority vote that underlies the functioning of all Baha'i Assemblies."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, October 28, 1935: The Local Spiritual Assembly, p. 26)


282. If Assembly Makes Ill-Advised Decision It Must Be Upheld

"One of the fundamentals involved in our Administrative Order, which we must [81] remember will become the pattern for our World Order, is that even if an Assembly makes an ill-advised decision it must be upheld in order to preserve the unity of the community. Appeal can be made from the Local Assembly's decision to the National Assembly... But the principle of authority invested in our elected bodies must be upheld. This is not something which can be learned without trial and test...."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of Germany and Austria, June 30, 1949: Ibid.)


283. If Assembly Makes a Mistake—God Will Right the Wrongs Done

"The Assembly may make a mistake, but, as the Master pointed out, if the Community does not abide by its decisions, or the individual Baha'i, the result is worse, as it undermines the very institution which must be strengthened in order to uphold the principles and laws of the Faith. He tells us God will right the wrongs done. We must have confidence in this and obey our Assemblies. He therefore strongly urges you to work directly under your Baha'i Assembly, to accept your responsibilities as a voting member, and do your utmost to create harmony within the community."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer in 1949: Ibid., p. 27)


284. Obedience, Patience and Restraint

"The friends should therefore not feel discouraged at the differences of opinion that may prevail among the members of an Assembly for these, as experience has shown, and as the Master's words attest, fulfil a valuable function in all Assembly deliberations. But once the opinion of the majority has been ascertained, all the members should automatically and unreservedly obey it, and faithfully carry it out. Patience and restraint, however, should at all times characterize the discussions and deliberations of the elected representatives of the local community, and no fruitless and hair-splitting discussions indulged in, under any circumstances."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, April 18, 1939: Ibid., pp. 18-19)


285. Criticism to Assemblies—Baha'is Can Freely Air Their Views

"The Baha'is are fully entitled to address criticisms to their Assemblies; they can freely air their views about policies or individual members of elected bodies to the Assembly, Local or National, but then they must whole-heartedly accept the advice or decision of the Assembly, according to the principles already laid down for such matters in Baha'i administration."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of Australia and New Zealand, May 13, 1945: Letters from the Guardian to Australia and New Zealand, p. 55)


286. No Protection for Faith Unless Friends Submit to Administrative Bodies

"...There can be no protection for the Faith unless the friends are willing to submit to their administrative bodies, especially when these are acting in good faith; the individual believers are not in a position to judge their National Body. If any wrong has been done, we must leave it in the hands of God, knowing, as [82] 'Abdu'l-Baha said, that He will right it, and in the meantime not disrupt the Cause of God by constantly harping on these matters."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, February 3, 1957: The National Spiritual Assembly, p. 37)


287. If Baha'is Undermine Leaders

"The Guardian believes that a great deal of the difficulties from which the believers ... feel themselves to be suffering are caused by their neither correctly understanding nor putting into practice the administration. They seem—many of them—to be prone to continually challenging and criticizing the decisions of their Assemblies. If the Baha'is undermine the very leaders which are, however immaturely, seeking to coordinate Baha'i activities and administer Baha'i affairs, if they continually criticize their acts and challenge or belittle their decisions, they not only prevent any real rapid progress in the Faith's development from taking place, but they repel outsiders who quite rightly may ask how we ever expect to unite the whole world when we are so disunited among ourselves!"

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, October 26, 1943: Ibid., pp. 34-35)


288. Believers Have the Right to Express Their Criticism Action of Assembly, But Not in a Way to Undermine Its Authority

"...with reference to your ... letter in which you ... asked whether the believers have the right to openly express their criticism of any Assembly action or policy: It is not only the right, but the vital responsibility of every loyal and intelligent member of the Community to offer fully and frankly, but with due respect and consideration to the authority of the Assembly, any suggestion, recommendation or criticism he conscientiously feels he should in order to improve and remedy certain existing conditions or trends in his local community, and it is the duty of the Assembly also to give careful consideration to any such views submitted to them by any one of the believers. The best occasion chosen for this purpose is the Nineteen Day Feast which, besides its social and spiritual aspects, fulfils various administrative needs and requirements of the Community, chief among them being the need for open and constructive criticism and deliberation regarding the state of affairs within the local Baha'i Community.


"But again it should be stressed that all criticism and discussions of a negative character which may result in undermining the authority of the Assembly as a body should be strictly avoided. For otherwise the order of the Cause itself will be endangered, and confusion and discord will reign in the Community."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, December 13, 1939)


289. Obedience to the Decisions of the Local Assembly Should Be Unqualified and Whole-Hearted

"The most vital matter on which the Guardian wishes you to fully concentrate is that of consolidating the foundations of the Administration. Not until your group learns to work efficiently through obedience to the Local Assembly and under its guidance can there be any hope for future expansion. The friends must all realize the necessity of internal discipline and order which only a properly elected and efficiently functioning body such as the Local Assembly can effectively maintain. Obedience to the decisions of the Local Assembly should be unqualified and [83] whole-hearted, as by this means alone can the community work as a united body and achieve something constructive and enduring."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the Baha'is of Vienna, April 5, 1936)


290. Local Assembly Should Not Criticize Policy of National Assembly

"As to the problem which has arisen in connection with the Newsletter published and circulated by the ... Assembly, the Guardian has already written about it to your National Spiritual Assembly, expressing the view that under no circumstances should any Local Assembly be given the right to criticize, and much less oppose, the policy duly adopted and approved by the National Spiritual Assembly. It is his hope that henceforth the problem of the relationship between the National Spiritual Assembly and the Local Spiritual Assemblies in matters of this nature will, in the light of his instructions, be carefully understood by individuals and Assemblies alike."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, May 19, 1934)


291. Only One Remedy—Study the Administration

"There is only one remedy for this: To study the administration, to obey the Assemblies, and each believer seek to perfect his own character as a Baha'i. We can never exert the influence over others which we can exert over ourselves. If we are better, if we show love, patience, and understanding of the weakness of others, if we seek to never criticize but rather encourage, others will do likewise, and we can really help the Cause through our example and spiritual strength. The Baha'is everywhere, when the administration is first established, find it very difficult to adjust themselves. They have to learn to obey, even when the Assembly may be wrong, for the sake of unity. They have to sacrifice their personalities, to a certain extent, in order that the Community life may grow and develop as a whole. These things are difficult, but we must realize that they will lead us to a very much greater, more perfect way of life when the Faith is properly established according to the administration."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, October 26, 1943: The National Spiritual Assembly, p. 35)


292. On Individual Believer Depends Fate of Community

"This challenge, so severe and insistent, and yet so glorious, faces no doubt primarily the individual believer on whom, in the last resort, depends the fate of the entire community. He it is who constitutes the warp and woof on which the quality and pattern of the whole fabric must depend. He it is who acts as one of the countless

(Shoghi Effendi: Citadel of Faith, pp. 130-131)



O. Inactive Believers


293. Voting List, Names Should Not Be Removed from

"Your Assembly should not remove the names of Baha'is from the voting list just because they do not attend meetings or just because their addresses are unknown. It is hard to make Baha'is; and you must try and help them and reactivate them, and find those whose addresses are unknown if you can."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Assembly of Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Paraguay and Uruguay, September 26, 1957)


294. Removal of Names from Voting List

"People who for years have ceased to either attend meetings or show the slightest interest in the Cause can be dropped from the voting list; but any who are unable to attend meetings, but still consider themselves to be Baha'is and are desirous of keeping up their contact with the Faith, should naturally be kept on the voting list."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of the British Isles, May 29, 1946)


295. Inactive and Unresponsive Believers Often Need Encouragement

"He feels that people who are inactive should not automatically be removed from the voting list; each individual, in such matters, must be considered as an individual case. He is constantly trying to avoid the needless multiplication of rules and procedures, and that is why he urges the friends, and responsible bodies, to use patience, good judgement, and tact in handling such cases, and not just start a new rule of thumb to solve the question en masse.


"When accepting new believers we must certainly not hold their past against them, but hope that the faith they have in Baha'u'llah will help them to change their characters and ways of living—as we know so often happens. We must not add any conditions for Baha'i membership beyond those already outlined by the Guardian himself as absolutely necessary.

"It is very discouraging to find inactive and unresponsive believers; on the other hand we must always realize that some souls are weak and immature and not capable of carrying on an active administrative burden. They need encouragement, the love of their fellow Baha'is, and assistance. To blame them for not doing more for the Cause is useless, and they may actually have a very firm belief in Baha'u'llah which with care could be fanned into flame.


"If some of these isolated and inactive people gradually turn to other work than the Cause we should not always blame them—they probably needed more help, more stimulating, more teaching and Baha'i comradeship than they received."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, April 25, 1947)


296. Inactive Believers—Names Removed Only When Clearly Stated No Longer Believe in Baha'u'llah

"Further guidance might be welcome and we share portions of a letter written by [85] the Universal House of Justice to another National Spiritual Assembly on 4 September 1966: '...Whilst it is embarrassing to leave names of inactive believers on a membership list, inactivity and lack of attendance at Baha'i meetings are not the bases for removing names of believers from the membership roster. A name should be removed only when the person clearly states that he no longer believes in Baha'u'llah and wishes his name to be removed from Baha'i membership. If the believer's whereabouts are unknown, his name should still not be removed from membership, but kept in a special list of believers whose addresses are unknown, and who obviously are not counted in determining the allocation of delegates.'"

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Malaysia, September 25, 1973: Malaysian Baha'i News, Vol. 9, Nos. 2 3, June/November 1973)


297. Reasons for Inactivity Should Be Ascertained

"Concerning your question about inactive believers, the Universal House of Justice feels that it would be somewhat abrupt to drop them from the roster simply because they have been absent from meetings or otherwise inactive. They should be approached and the reasons for their absence or inactivity ascertained, and only when such investigation leads you to the conclusion that the believer concerned no longer believes in Baha'u'llah should this definitely be recognized. Every case of inactivity should be investigated and the believers lovingly encouraged to become active. A distinction is to be made between those who are interested in the Faith but remain inactive and those whose inactivity indicates complete lack of interest in the Faith to the extent that they have in fact ceased to be Baha'is. In this latter instance removal from the list is simply recognition of this fact."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the North West Pacific Ocean, December 18, 1974)


298. Meetings Should Be Made So Interesting as to Attract the Old Believers

"You mentioned in one of your letters that some of the old believers who for many years had kept away are now coming back and attending the meetings. How wonderful it would be if all such persons together with all those who met the Master and whose life was changed through His influence would come along and help us in spreading these divine teachings! Perhaps the friends should take the initiative and make their meetings so inspiring and their activities so interesting and far reaching in importance that they would of their own accord come forward and lend us their help. Anyhow they would be a large army!"

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, March 9, 1932)


299. Must Aid Those with Unbecoming Conduct to Mend Their Ways

"As to certain of your voting members who have long been inactive, and whose conduct you disapprove of, he suggests you make an effort to find out if they still believe in the Faith, and if they do, and wish to be members of it, then they should be helped to mend their ways. If this patient and loving method does not [86] prove successful and they refuse to identify themselves with the Faith, they should be removed from the voting list."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of the British Isles, May 8, 1947)


300. If Person Does Not Wish to be Considered Member

"...If a person makes it quite clear that they do not wish to be considered an active member of the Baha'i Community and be affiliated with it and exert their voting right, then their name should be removed from the voting list; but if a person considers himself or herself a Baha'i, and for various reasons is not able to be active in the affairs of the Community, then they should certainly not be removed from our voting list...."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of Germany and Austria, March 2, 1951: The Nineteen Day Feast, p. 8)


301. The Personal Situation of a Baha'i May Preclude Activity

"The House of Justice has asked us to point out that normally once a person has declared his belief in Baha'u'llah and this declaration has been accepted by the Assembly it should be assumed that he continues to be a Baha'i until he states the contrary. If believers become inactive it is naturally desirable that the Local Spiritual Assemblies attempt to maintain contact with them and encourage them to become active unless, of course, it is obvious that their personal situation precludes such activity. For example, a Baha'i who is married to a non-Baha'i may well have to limit his activities to some degree in order to maintain the unity of his family. If during this process of encouragement it becomes apparent that the Baha'i in question has in fact ceased to believe in Baha'u'llah and wishes not to be a member of the Baha'i community, the Assembly would be fully justified in accepting his withdrawal."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Spain, May 7, 1975)


302. Those Who No Longer Believe in Baha'u'llah...

"Basically it is for your National Spiritual Assembly to decide who should be retained on the voting lists, but guidelines have been given by the beloved Guardian and by the Universal House of Justice. Obviously, people who do not believe in Baha'u'llah and those who have become inactive to the extent that they do not show the slightest interest in the Faith can be dropped from the voting list. On the other hand, people who are inactive should not automatically be removed from that list. Each case should be considered on its own merits. In some cases a spark of faith may be found which with care may be fanned into flame. Patience and good judgement are called for."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, July 10, 1975)


303. Believers Whose Whereabouts Are Unknown

"Where a believer has been sought and his whereabouts and address are not known, the believer's name can be held in a suspended file against possible reappearance in another community, and need not be counted in delegate [87] assignments. You are correct in acknowledging that such believers retain their full administrative rights. However, a category can be added to the voting list for those individuals whose addresses are unknown. While this category need not be included in allocation of delegates, it can be included in such lists as total number of believers, semi-annual reports, etc."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Paraguay, April 22, 1982)



II. BACKBITING, CRITICISM, FAULT-FINDING, GOSSIP, LIES, SLANDER, ETC.


[88] 304. The Hidden Words of Baha'u'llah

"Breathe not the sins of others so long as thou art thyself a sinner. Shouldst thou transgress this command, accursed wouldst thou be, and to this I bear witness."

(Baha'u'llah: The Hidden Words, Arabic No. 27)


305. Backbiting Defined

"As regards backbiting, i.e., discussing the faults of others in their absence, the teachings are very emphatic. In a Tablet to an American friend the Master wrote: 'The worst human quality and the most great sin is backbiting, more especially when it emanates from the tongues of the believers of God. If some means were devised so that the doors of backbiting were shut eternally and each one of the believers unsealed his lips in praise of others, then the teachings of His Holiness Baha'u'llah would spread, the hearts be illumined, the spirits glorified, and the human world would attain to everlasting felicity.' (Quoted in Star of West, Vol. IV. p. 192) Baha'u'llah says in the Hidden Words: 'Breathe not the sins of others so long as thou art a sinner. Shouldst thou transgress this command ACCURSED ART THOU.' The condemnation of backbiting could hardly be couched in stronger language than in these passages, and it is obviously one of the foremost obligations for Baha'is to set their faces against this practice. Even if what is said against another person be true, the mentioning of his faults to others still comes under the category of backbiting, and is forbidden."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of the British Isles, February 11, 1925)


306. Abstain from Fault-Finding and Backbiting

"On no subject are the Baha'i teachings more emphatic than on the necessity to abstain from fault-finding and backbiting while being ever eager to discover and root out our own faults and overcome our own failings.


"If we profess loyalty to Baha'u'llah, to our Beloved Master and our dear Guardian, then we must show our love by obedience to these explicit teachings. Deeds not words are what they demand, and no amount of fervour in the use of expressions of loyalty and adulation will compensate for failure to live in the spirit of the teachings."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, May 12, 1925: Living the Life, p. 3)


307. Jealousy or Petty Attitudes Can Only Be Overcome by Love and Tact

"...he suggests you write the National Spiritual Assembly in a loving spirit, and [89] point out to them how it distresses you to think that, after so many years of service, statements about you which you consider unjustified should be preserved. But even if these are not taken from the records it still does not make them either true or false. Many things are preserved in records as matters of opinion; no one has given a verdict on this matter!


"The only way jealousy or petty attitudes can be overcome is by the love and tact of the teacher; these are not things that can be solved by a 'ruling'."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, July 30, 1946)


308. Dealing with Baha'is Who Act in Ways Detrimental to the Cause

"The question of dealing with those who call themselves Baha'is but who act in ways which we believe to be detrimental to the interests of the Cause is a very difficult one. If we think we can help matters by a frank and friendly talk with the individual concerned, refraining from judging or condemning, but pointing out in as kind a manner as possible the way in which, as it seems to us, the sort of conduct in question is harmful to the Cause or of a nature forbidden by the teachings, then it seems well to try that method before resorting to the more formidable method of bringing the matter before the Spiritual Assembly. But if that fails or if we feel that it is hopeless to try and deal with the matter in that way, while at the same time the case is so serious that the interests of the Cause require that it should be firmly dealt with, then the proper course is to bring the matter before the Spiritual Assembly ... and have it frankly and fully discussed, calling such evidence as is necessary for the elucidation of the matter. After full consideration, the Spiritual Assembly should take such action as it deems advisable, and it is incumbent upon all members of the group to be loyal to whatever decision is arrived at by the Spiritual Assembly. There is, of course the right of appeal from the Local to the National Assembly, and from that to Shoghi Effendi,* but the matter ought to be dealt with, in the first instance, by the Local Spiritual Assembly.


"...When a difficulty is brought out into the daylight and freely discussed by a duly authorised and responsible group of people who are sincerely desirous of finding the best solution and are free from prejudice or personal motive, then there is a good chance of overcoming it, but discussion of the faults of others behind their backs by unauthorised people who have no authority to take action in the matter, is surely one of the most fertile causes—probably THE most fertile cause—of disunity, and the importance of putting an end to this practice should be impressed on all Baha'is."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of the British Isles, followed by an extract from the Guardian's postscript, February 11, 1925)

___________________

*(Now the Universal House of Justice)


309. Learning Not to Concern Ourselves with the Faults of Others

"As to backbiting, the House of Justice points out that learning not to concern oneself with the faults of others seems to be one of the most difficult lessons for people to master, and that failing in this is a fertile cause of disputes among Baha'is as it is among men and women in general. In 'Star of the West', Volume 8, No. 10, on page 138, there is a record of a reply given by 'Abdu'l-Baha in a private interview in Paris in 1913. He was asked 'How shall I overcome seeing the faults of others—recognizing the wrong in others?', and He replied:


[90] 'I will tell you. Whenever you recognize the fault of another, think of yourself! What are my imperfections?—and try to remove them. Do this whenever you are tried through the words or deeds of others. Thus you will grow, become more perfect. You will overcome self, you will not even have time to think of the faults of others...'


"You are quite correct in your understanding of the importance of avoiding backbiting; such conduct strikes at the very unity of the Baha'i community. In a letter written to an individual believer on behalf of the Guardian it is stated:


'If we are better, if we show love, patience, and understanding of the weakness of others, if we seek to never criticize but rather encourage, others will do likewise, and we can really help the Cause through our example and spiritual strength.'"

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, August 13, 1980)


310. The Believers Need More Peace-Makers Circulating Among Them—A Function of the Older and the More Mature Baha'is

"What the believers need is not only, as you state, to really study the teachings, but also to have more peace-makers circulating among them. Unfortunately, not only average people, but average Baha'is, are very immature; gossip, trouble-making, criticism, seem easier than the putting into practice of love, constructive words and cooperation. It is one of the functions of the older and the more mature Baha'is to help the weaker ones to iron out their difficulties and learn to really function and live like true believers!"

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, January 11, 1950)


311. To Be Forbearing, Patient, Merciful, Rather Than Succumbing to Backbiting and Criticism

"You ask in your letter for guidance on the implications of the prohibition on backbiting and more specifically whether, in moments of anger or depression, the believer is permitted to turn to his friends to unburden his soul and discuss his problem in human relations. Normally, it is possible to describe the situation surrounding a problem and seek help and advice in resolving it, without necessarily mentioning names. The individual believer should seek to do this, whether he is consulting a friend, Baha'i or non-Baha'i, or whether the friend is consulting him.


"Abdu'l-Baha does not permit adverse criticism of individuals by name in discussion among the friends, even if the one criticizing believes that he is doing so to protect the interests of the Cause. If the situation is of such gravity as to endanger the interests of the Faith, the complaint, as your National Spiritual Assembly has indicated, should be submitted to the Local Spiritual Assembly, or as you state to a representative of the institution of the Counsellors, for consideration and action. In such cases, of course, the name of the person or persons involved will have to be mentioned.


"You also ask what one should do to 'handle depression and anger with someone' one feels 'very positively about'. The Universal House of Justice suggests that you call to mind the admonitions found in our Writings on the need to overlook the shortcomings of others, to forgive and conceal their misdeeds, not to expose their bad qualities, but to search for and affirm their praiseworthy [91] ones, and endeavour to be always forbearing, patient, and merciful. Such passages as the following extract from one of the letters written on behalf of the beloved Guardian by his secretary will also be helpful:


'Each of us is responsible for one life only, and that is our own. Each of us is immeasurably far from being "perfect as our Heavenly Father is perfect" and the task of perfecting our own life and character is one that requires all our attention, our will-power and energy.... On no subject are the Baha'i teachings more emphatic than on the necessity to abstain from fault-finding and backbiting, while being ever eager to discover and root out our own faults and overcome our own failings.'"

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, September 23, 1975)


312. Backbiting—The Most Great Sin

"...Thou hast written regarding aims. How blessed are these aims, especially the prevention of backbiting! I hope that you may become confirmed therein, because the worst human quality and the most great sin is backbiting; more especially when it emanates from the tongues of the believers of God. If some means were devised so that the doors of backbiting could be shut eternally and each one of the believers of God unsealed his tongue in the praise of the other, then the teachings of His Holiness Baha'o'llah (Baha'u'llah) would be spread, the hearts illuminated, the spirits glorified and the human world would attain to everlasting felicity.


"I hope that the believers of God will shun completely backbiting, each one praising the other cordially and believe that backbiting is the cause of Divine wrath, to such an extent that if a person backbites to the extent of one word, he may become dishonored among all the people, because the most hateful characteristic of man is fault-finding. One must expose the praiseworthy qualities of the souls and not their evil attributes. The friends must overlook their shortcomings and faults and speak only of their virtues and not their defects.


"It is related that His Holiness Christ—May my life be a sacrifice to Him!—one day, accompanied by His apostles, passed by the corpse of a dead animal. One of them said: 'How putrid has this animal become!' The other exclaimed: 'How it is deformed!' A third cried out: 'What a stench! How cadaverous looking!' But His Holiness Christ said: 'Look at its teeth! How white they are!' Consider, that He did not look at all at the defects of that animal; nay, rather, He searched well until He found the beautiful white teeth. He observed only the whiteness of the teeth and overlooked entirely the deformity of the body, the dissolution of its organs and the bad odour.


"This is the attribute of the children of the Kingdom. This is the conduct and the manner of the real Bahais (Baha'is). I hope that all the believers will attain to this lofty station."

('Abdu'l-Baha: Tablet to Dr. M. G. Skinner, August 12, 1913: Star of the West, Vol. IV, No. 11, p. 192)


313. Backbiting "Quencheth the Light of the Heart"

"...Backbiting quencheth the light of the heart, and extinguisheth the life of the soul."

(Baha'u'llah: The Kitab-i-Iqan, p. 193)


[92] 314. Criticism a Calamity

"...Vicious criticism is indeed a calamity. But its root is lack of faith in the system of Baha'u'llah, i.e., the Administrative Order—and lack of obedience to Him—for He has forbidden it! If the Baha'is would follow the Baha'i laws in voting, in electing, in serving and in abiding by Assembly decisions, all this waste of strength through criticising others could be diverted into cooperation and achieving the Plan...."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, December 18, 1949: Baha'i News, No. 233, p. 2, July 1950)


315. Suppress Every Critical Thought and Every Harsh Word

"When we see the condition the world is in today, we must surely forget these utterly insignificant internal disturbances, and rush, unitedly, to the rescue of humanity. You should urge your fellow-Baha'is to take this point of view, and to support you in a strong effort to suppress every critical thought and every harsh word, in order to let the spirit of Baha'u'llah flow into the entire community, and unite it in His love and in His service."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, February 16, 1951: Living the Life, p. 17)


316. An Unwise Act or Statement

"...an unwise act or statement by a Baha'i in one country could result in a grave set-back for the Faith there or elsewhere—and even loss of the lives of fellow believers."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, December 8, 1967: Wellspring of Guidance, p. 131)


317. Personal Differences and Petty Pre-Occupations

"He feels that you should do your utmost to call the attention of the friends to these large things, and real triumphs, and away from their personal differences and petty pre-occupations. Now is certainly not the time for any man to think of himself, or busy himself with the weaknesses of his brother; but, rather each and every Baha'i must concentrate on the tasks ahead and be reborn in the service of Baha'u'llah."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the Area National Teaching Committee (U.S.A.), July 17, 1950: Baha'i News, October 1970, p. 3)


318. Like Ploughmen Each Has His Team to Manage

"...Each of us is responsible for one life only, and that is our own. Each of us is immeasurably far from being 'perfect as our heavenly Father is perfect' and the task of perfecting our own life and character is one that requires all our attention, our will-power and energy. If we allow our attention and energy to be taken up in efforts to keep others right and remedy their faults, we are wasting precious time. We are like ploughmen each of whom has his team to manage and his plough to direct, and in order to keep his furrow straight he must keep his eye on his goal and concentrate on his own task. If he looks to this side and that to see how Tom and Harry are getting on and to criticise their ploughing, then his own furrow will assuredly become crooked."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, May 12, 1925: Living the Life, pp. 2-3)


[93] 319. Be a Friend to the Whole Human Race

"One must see in every human being only that which is worthy of praise. When this is done, one can be a friend to the whole human race. If, however, we look at people from the standpoint of their faults, then being a friend to them is a formidable task."

('Abdu'l-Baha: Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Baha, p. 169)


320. Baha'is Must Be Distinguished

"I desire distinction for you. The Baha'is must be distinguished from others of humanity. But this distinction must not depend upon wealth—that they should become more affluent than other people. I do not desire for you financial distinction. It is not an ordinary distinction I desire: not scientific, commercial, industrial distinction. For you I desire spiritual distinction; that is, you must become eminent and distinguished in morals. In the love of God you must become distinguished from all else. You must become distinguished for loving humanity; for unity and accord; for love and justice. In brief, you must become distinguished in all the virtues of the human world; for faithfulness and steadfastness; for philanthropic deeds and service to the human world; for love toward every human being; for unity and accord with all people; for removing prejudices and promoting international peace. Finally, you must become distinguished for heavenly illumination and acquiring the bestowals of God. I desire this distinction for you. This must be the point of distinction among you."

('Abdu'l-Baha: Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 190)


321. Believers Should Draw on Each Other's Love

"Indeed the believers have not yet fully learned to draw on each other's love for strength and consolation in time of need. The Cause of God is endowed with tremendous powers, and the reason the believers do not gain more from it is because they have not learned to draw fully on these mighty forces of love and strength and harmony generated by the Faith."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, May 8, 1942: Living the Life, p. 8)


322. Worst Enemies of the Cause Are in the Cause

"The worst enemies of the Cause are in the Cause and mention the Name of God. We need not fear the enemies on the outside for such can be easily dealt with. But the enemies who call themselves friends and who persistently violate every fundamental law of love and unity, are difficult to be dealt with in this day, for the mercy of God is still great. But ere long this merciful door will be closed and such enemies will be attacked with a madness...."

('Abdu'l-Baha answers questions asked by Dr. E. C. Getsinger in the Holy Land: Star of the West, Vol. VI, No. 6, p. 45)


323. Backbiting is Divisive

"...If any soul speak ill of an absent one, the only result will clearly be this: he will dampen the zeal of the friends and tend to make them indifferent. For backbiting is divisive, it is the leading cause among the friends of a disposition to withdraw. If any individual should speak ill of one who is absent, it is incumbent on his hearers, in a spiritual and friendly manner, to stop him, and say in effect: [94] would this detraction serve any useful purpose? Would it please the Blessed Beauty, contribute to the lasting honour of the friends, promote the holy Faith, support the Covenant, or be of any possible benefit to any soul? No, never! On the contrary, it would make the dust to settle so thickly on the heart that the ears would hear no more, and the eyes would no longer behold the light of truth."

('Abdu'l-Baha: Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Baha, pp. 230-31)


324. When Criticism and Harsh Words Arise

"When criticism and harsh words arise within a Baha'i community, there is no remedy except to put the past behind one, and persuade all concerned to turn over a new leaf, and for the sake of God and His Faith refrain from mentioning the subjects which have led to misunderstanding and inharmony. The more the friends argue back and forth and maintain, each side, that their point of view is the right one, the worse the whole situation becomes."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, February 16, 1951: Living the Life, p. 12)


325. If We Listen, We Are Guilty of Complicity

"It is obvious that if we listen to those who complain to us about the faults of others we are guilty of complicity in their backbiting. We should therefore, as tactfully as possible, but yet firmly, do our utmost to prevent others from making accusations or complaints against others in our presence."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of the British Isles, February 11, 1925)



III. BAHA'I



A. Baha'i Archives


[95] 326. Baha'u'llah Admonishes Care in Preservation of the Tablets

"...The people of God should do all that lieth within their power to protect and preserve the Tablets. In the Land of Ta whatever there was in the homes of the friends was taken and fell into the hands of the heedless. We have commanded all to safeguard that which hath proceeded from the Pen of the Most High. We ask God to aid them to act in accordance with His wish and desire, and to draw them nigh to Him. He, verily, is the Almighty, the Powerful."


"We have commanded all to observe wisdom, but from the friends we see heedlessness and negligence. They should guard the Tablets as they guard their eyes, nay with greater vigilance, if they be of them that comprehend."


"Truly, none must be careless in the matter of safeguarding the divine Tablets. In former times, when plans were laid to seize some of the friends, before all else it was the writings that fell into the hands of the enemy. This is not permissible. The friends should designate a strong, secure place for storing the divine verses so that they may not be exposed to the touch of unworthy hands, even though these verses are, and shall always be, such as 'none shall touch but the purified'*."

(Baha'u'llah: From three previously unpublished Tablets, The Importance of Collecting and Safeguarding the Baha'i Writings, p. 1, October 1986)

___________________

*Quotation from the Qur'an, 79:56 


327. Tablets and Verses to be Gathered into the Archives

"In one of the Tablets, the Pen of the Most High, referring to this foundation,* which provides the best and surest, the soundest and most perfect means of collecting, safeguarding and classifying the scattered, but growing body, of Sacred Writings and relics, states: 


"It is the concern of the True One to reveal, and the concern of men to spread what hath been revealed. He will, verily, promulgate His Cause by the hands of His scattering and well-favoured angels. Spiritual souls will assuredly emerge from behind the veil of divine protection who will gather together the tokens and verses of God and put them into the most excellent order. This is His sure and irrevocable decree."

(Shoghi Effendi's 1954 Naw-Ruz Message to the Baha'is of the East, translated from the Persian: Ibid., p. 2)

____________________

*The International Archives Building


328. Baha'i Archives, Institution of

"The importance of the institution of Baha'i Archives is not due only to the [96] many teaching facilities it procures, but is essentially to be found in the vast amount of historical data and information it offers both to the present day administrators of the Cause, and to the Baha'i historians of the future. The institution of Baha'i Archives is indeed a most valuable storehouse of information regarding all aspects of the Faith, historical, administrative as well as doctrinal."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, September 25, 1936)


329. Future Generations Will Appreciate Archives

"...Future generations of believers will be surely in a better position than we are to truly and adequately appreciate the many advantages and facilities which the institution of the Archives offers to individual believers and also to the community at large."

(Ibid.)


330. All Assembly Members Should Have Access to the Files—Certain Items Can Be Listed as "Confidential"

"In reply to your letter of May 13th, 1976 the Universal House of Justice instructs us to say that all members of the Spiritual Assembly are equal and should have access to the files and minutes of the Assembly of which they are members. It is, however, within the discretion of any Spiritual Assembly to so organize its files and records that certain items could be listed as 'confidential' and access to those so classified could only be had by a specific decision of the Assembly itself."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Assembly of Ireland, June 8, 1976)


331. Every Believer Has Responsibility to Assist with Preservation of Sacred Relics

"...has suggested to the Guardian that he should ask your N.S.A. to address an appeal to the ... believers urging them to co-operate with the National and Local Baha'i Archives ... in their efforts for the collection of Baha'i sacred relics, and specially the Tablets, and their safe preservation.


"As this is undoubtedly one of the most urgent tasks facing the believers at present, he strongly feels it advisable that your N.S.A. should once more impress upon the friends the necessity of their giving full and continued support to the truly valuable work which the National as well as the Local Archives Committees are accomplishing for our beloved Faith...


"Now that the Cause is rapidly passing through so many different phases of its evolution is the time for the friends to exert their utmost in order to preserve as much as they can of the sacred relics and various other precious objects that are associated with the lives of the Founders of the Faith, and particularly the Tablets They have revealed.


"Every believer should realize that he has a definite responsibility to shoulder in this matter, and to help, to whatever extent he can, in rendering successful [97] the valuable work which National and Local Baha'i Archives Committees are so devotedly accomplishing for the Faith in...."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, 25 September 1936: The Importance of Collecting and Safeguarding the Baha'i Writings, A Compilation, p. 4)


332. Baha'i Archives to be Established in Each Baha'i Administrative Centre

"Another necessary and highly commendable undertaking is the founding of a Baha'i Archives in each of the Baha'i provincial administrative centres. ...Anyone who, spontaneously and of his own free will, donates material to the Archives of his National Spiritual Assembly—whether this be Tablets, books, pictures, objects or the like—and especially if his inheritors are not accounted of the people of Baha, or are not considered by him as trustworthy or reliable, will have performed a highly meritorious act in the sight of God, and his name will be perpetuated in the records of the Spiritual Assemblies and his memory enshrined in the Archives for ever."

(From a letter of Shoghi Effendi to the Baha'is of the East, July 1925, translated from the Persian: Ibid., p. 2)


333. Documents of Historical Value Should Not Be Destroyed

"The Universal House of Justice has received your letter of 13th November, 1975 asking about the policy to be followed for keeping correspondence and we have been asked to reply as follows:

"While it is within the jurisdiction of the National Spiritual Assembly to decide which papers in its files are not of long-term value and to have them destroyed you should always bear in mind the historical value of your files. Letters which at this time seem to be of little value could prove to be of great interest to future historians of the development of the Cause of Baha'u'llah in the... We suggest that when your secretary has sorted out from among your files the papers which she feels could be destroyed, you should appoint a committee composed of members of your National Assembly to go over them with their historical value in mind and submit a recommendation to your National Assembly. Obviously, those records or letters needed for legal purposes should be retained."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Gilbert and Ellice Islands, November 26, 1975)



B. Baha'i Arts and Drama*


334. Three Central Figures Cannot Be Portrayed

"...the Faith can certainly be dramatized, but two things must be remembered: no personal presentation of the Bab, Baha'u'llah or the Master, only Their words can be used, but no figure must represent Them; great dignity must be the keynote."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, August 19, 1951)

___________________

*(See also: Nos. 1360-1371)


335. Dramatic Works

"With reference to your question whether the Figures of the Bab and Baha'u'llah should be made to appear as characters in dramatic works written by the believers, [98] Shoghi Effendi's opinion is that such an attempt to dramatize the Manifestations would be highly disrespectful, and hence should be avoided by the friends, even in the case of the Master. Besides it would be practically impossible to carry out such a plan faithfully, and in a dignified and befitting manner."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, January 27, 1935)


336. Dancers Must Be Decently Clad

"Dancers may appear, but great care should be used that they are not indecently clad or the dances vulgar in any way. Naturally, there should be no dancers at regular Baha'i meetings. Vocal soloists, of course, may appear."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, August 19, 1951)


337. The Artistic Presentation of the Faith Will Attract a Certain Type of Individual

"Lighting, sound, floral decorations, etc.; the House of Worship, too, may all be used, but the point to remember is that real beauty and dignity must be achieved, and all impression of our being in any remote sense a cult, or a group of 'artistes' be avoided.


"It is always good to remember that this more artistic presentation of the Cause will attract only a certain type—and, fortunately, a type hitherto ignored in our approach to the public—of person; other methods must also be used to attract other types, such as the intellectual and more reserved type."

(Ibid.)


338. Art Can Better Awaken Noble Sentiments

"Shoghi Effendi was very much interested to learn of the success of the 'Pageant of Nations' you reproduced...


"It is through such presentations that we can arouse the interest of the greatest number of peoples in the spirit of the Cause. That day will the Cause spread like wild fire when its spirit and teachings will be presented on the stage or in art and literature as a whole. Art can better awaken such noble sentiments than cold rationalizing especially among the mass of the people.


"We have to wait only a few years to see how the spirit breathed by Baha'u'llah will find expression in the work of the artists. What you and some other Baha'is are attempting are only faint rays that precede the effulgent light of a glorious morn. We cannot yet value the part the Cause is destined to play in the life of society. We have to give it time. The material this spirit has to mould is too crude and unworthy, but it will at last give way and the Cause of Baha'u'llah will reveal itself in its full splendour."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, October 10, 1932)


339. Taking Part in Dramas—Dancing

"In the teachings there is nothing against dancing, but the friends should remember that the standard of Baha'u'llah is modesty and chastity. The atmosphere of modern dance halls, where so much smoking and drinking and promiscuity goes on, is very bad, but decent dances are not harmful in themselves. There is certainly no harm in classical dancing or learning dancing in school. There is also no harm in taking part in dramas. Likewise in cinema acting. The harmful thing, nowadays, is not [99] the art itself but the unfortunate corruption which often surrounds these arts. As Baha'is we need to avoid none of the arts, but acts and the atmosphere that sometimes go with these professions we should avoid."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of India, June 30, 1952: Dawn of a New Day, p. 153)


340. Film Companies

"With regard to your question relative to the advisability of having Baha'is join film companies. Although on principle there is no objection if any believer wishes to become a cinema actor, yet in view of the excessive corruption that now prevails along such a line of occupation, the Guardian would not advise any believer to choose this kind of profession, unless he finds this to be the only means of earning his livelihood."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, September 4, 1935)


341. Movies

"With reference to ... question whether it is permissible for the Baha'is to see pictures: There is nothing in the Teachings that would forbid such a practice."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of India, December 14, 1940: Dawn of a New Day, p. 85)


342. Dramatizing Historic Episodes of the Faith

"As to your question concerning the advisability of dramatizing Baha'i historic episodes: The Guardian would certainly approve, and even encourage that the friends should engage in such literary pursuits which, no doubt, can be of an immense teaching value. What he wishes the believers to avoid is to dramatize the Personages of the Bab, Baha'u'llah and 'Abdu'l-Baha, that is to say to treat Them as dramatic figures, as characters appearing on the stage. This, as already pointed out, he feels would be quite disrespectful. The mere fact that They appear on the scene constitutes an act of discourtesy which can in no way be reconciled with Their highly exalted station. Their message, or actual Words, should be preferably reported and conveyed by Their disciples appearing on the stage."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, July 25, 1936)


343. If Light Suggests Personification of the Manifestation, It Should Not Be Used

"The use of light, either of great intensity or in different colours, needs your careful consideration. If the use of light in any way at all suggests a personification of the Manifestation of God it should not be used, but if it can be done without in any way giving the impression that the Prophet is being represented or personified then there is no objection to its use."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, August 12, 1975)


344. Prohibition on Representing Manifestations of God in Paintings or Drawings Applies to All Manifestations

"The prohibition on representing the Manifestation of God in paintings and drawings or in dramatic presentations applies to all the Manifestations of God. There are, of course, great and wonderful works of art of past Dispensations, many of which portrayed the Manifestations of God in a spirit of reverence and love. In this [100] Dispensation however the greater maturity of mankind and the greater awareness of the relationship between the Supreme Manifestation and His servants enable us to realize the impossibility of representing, in any human form, whether pictorially, in sculpture or in dramatic representation, the Person of God's Manifestations. In stating the Baha'i prohibition, the beloved Guardian pointed out this impossibility."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, March 9, 1977)


345. Need for Skill to Produce an Effective Film about History of the Faith

"As you are no doubt aware, it is not permissible to portray the Manifestations of God in dramatic works and it can be understood that great skill will be needed to produce an effective film about the history of the Faith in which neither the Bab nor Baha'u'llah could actually appear. Because of the overwhelming significance of the Baha'i message and the Baha'i Revelation, any such film produced under the aegis of the Baha'i community would have to be of the very highest quality in all respects."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly, September 24, 1978)



C. Baha'i Authors/Writers


346. Baha'i Authors Should Write in Such Manner as to Attract the Souls

"...Whatever is written should not transgress the bounds of tact and wisdom, and in the words used there should lie hid the property of milk, so that the children of the world may be nurtured therewith, and attain maturity. We have said in the past that one word hath the influence of spring and causeth hearts to become fresh and verdant, while another is like unto blight which causeth the blossoms and flowers to wither. God grant that authors among the friends will write in such a way as would be acceptable to fair-minded souls, and not lead to cavilling by the people."

(Baha'u'llah: Extracts from the Baha'i Writings on the Subject of Writers and Writing, A Compilation, p. 3, July 1980)


347. Baha'i Writers Should Have Their Works Approved for Publication by National Assembly of Country Where Published

"It is not the practice of the World Centre to review the writings of individual Baha'is intended for publication. As you know, Baha'i authors, writing about the Faith, are requested to have their work approved for publication by the National Spiritual Assembly of the country where such work is published. There is no objection whatever, to your submitting your manuscript to a non-Baha'i firm, provided that the approval of the manuscript by the National Assembly is first obtained."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, December 10, 1981)


348. Baha'i Authors/Writers Should Welcome Review of Their Works

"Baha'i authors should welcome review of their works, and can greatly assist [101] promptness in review by supplying a sufficient number of copies of the manuscript for each member of the Reviewing Committee to have one.


"Baha'i authors may submit their works for review to any National Spiritual Assembly, and may send their works, once approved, to any publisher they like, Baha'i or non-Baha'i, at home or abroad. It should be remembered, however, that the approval should be given by the National Spiritual Assembly of the country where the work is to be first published. And in the case of a non-Baha'i publisher the author should insist on use of the system of transliteration at present used by the Faith for languages employing the Roman alphabet.


"It is hoped that Baha'i authors will provide a constant stream of new works. Introductory books, commentaries, dissertations on various aspects of the Revelation, text books, histories, reviews, audio-visual material are all needed to stimulate study of the Faith and to promote the vital teaching work."

(The Universal House of Justice: from Memorandum on Baha'i Publishing, Ridvan 1971)


349. Review of Magazine Articles Written by Individual Believers

"In the Feb. 'Baha'i News', page 3, it mentions that magazine articles about the Cause ... 'written by individual believers as their personal understanding of the teachings' ... need not be reviewed officially. He feels this is unwise, in view of the Master's own instructions that articles about the Cause should not be published by individuals without proper approval of some responsible body.


"The Guardian says the Local Assemblies can pass upon such articles; it is not necessary to refer them to a National Committee.


"So often persons can be carried away by their enthusiasm and express something detrimental to the Faith. Therefore they must either refer their articles to their Local Spiritual Assembly or the National Reviewing Committee."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, April 13, 1946)


350. The Reviewing Committee

"It is recommended that Reviewing Committees be small, composed of two or three believers with adequate education and knowledge of the Cause. It is essential that works submitted be dealt with promptly. The standards to be upheld by reviewers are the following: (a) conformity with the Teachings, (b) accuracy, (c) dignity in presentation. The Spiritual Assembly, on the basis of its Reviewing Committee's report, gives or withholds approval of the work.


"...In general the function of a reviewing committee is to say whether the work submitted gives an acceptable presentation of the Cause or not. Reviewers may win the gratitude and good will of authors by calling attention to such things as occasional grammatical or spelling errors, but approval should not be refused on such grounds; all such details are editorial matters for agreement between author and publisher."

(The Universal House of Justice: Memorandum on Baha'i Publishing, Ridvan 1971, March 28, 1971 to the National Spiritual Assemblies of the Baha'i world, pp. 1-2)


351. Obligation of Baha'is to Present the Faith in Dignified Manner

"We approve your action in writing to the Public Information Department and in publishing a statement instructing Baha'is who are authors not to attempt or be persuaded to write articles on the Faith for unsavoury publications.


[102] "It is an obligation of all Baha'is to present the Faith in a dignified manner and therefore when writing articles about the Faith they should take into consideration the type of magazine or other publication in which the article is to appear. Should there be any question about its character they should consult with the National Spiritual Assembly. In addition, all authors should bear in mind that anything written about the Faith for publication is subject to review before submission to the publishers."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice written to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, September 15, 1968)


352. The Function and Purpose of Reviewing

"The function of reviewing is, essentially, to check the Author's exposition of the Baha'i Faith and its teachings, which may include verification of any quotations from Baha'i writings. This function should not be confused with evaluation of the literary merit of a work or of its value as a publication, which are normally the prerogative of the publisher...."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the British Isles, March 11, 1965)


353. Purpose of Review

"...The purpose of review is to protect the Faith against misrepresentation by its own followers at this early stage of its existence when comparatively few people have any knowledge of it. An erroneous presentation of the Teachings by a Baha'i who is accounted a scholar, in a scholarly journal, would by that very fact, do far more harm than an erroneous presentation made by an obscure Baha'i author with no pretensions to scholarship."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, October 8, 1980)


354. No Objection to Baha'is Writing Novels Portraying Historical Events

"There is no objection to Baha'is writing novels portraying historical events and figures of the Faith. However, in view of the impossibility of ever portraying adequately the Manifestation of God as a character in a novel, and of the disrespect implicit in such an attempt, the House of Justice feels that no such portrayal should be attempted. Of course, His sayings and the events of His life may be recounted, but in this case care should be taken to quote His exact words as we have them in authorized translations, and events in Baha'i history should not be distorted.


"Generally speaking, works of fiction which the writers hope will help to promote knowledge of the Cause of God will fulfill this purpose better if they are set against the background of particular events or developing processes in the Cause of God, and not used to portray the actual historical events themselves and the figures taking part in them. The reality of the actual events and the actual personages is so much more convincing than any fictional account. In this connection the Guardian's secretary wrote on his behalf:


'He would not recommend fiction as a means of teaching; the condition of the world is too acute to permit of delay in giving them the direct teachings associated with the name of Baha'u'llah. But any suitable [103] approach to the Faith, which appeals to this or that group, is certainly worthy of effort, as we wish to bring the Cause to all men, in all walks of life, of all mentalities.'"

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, September 23, 1980)


355. Journalists

"There is no objection to your being a journalist as long as you try to keep off political issues; especially the big East-West issues. You have a talent for writing, and it might be of help to you financially and in making contacts for the Faith."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, November 30, 1950)


356. Sciences that Begin and End with Words—Baha'u'llah Never Meant to Include Story Writing Under this Category

"What Baha'u'llah meant primarily with 'sciences that begin and end in words' are those theological treatises and commentaries that encumber the human mind rather than help it to attain the truth. The students would devote their life to their study but still attain no where. Baha'u'llah surely never meant to include story writing under such a category; and shorthand and typewriting are both most useful talents very necessary in our present social and economic life.


"What you could do, and should do, is to use your stories to become a source of inspiration and guidance for those who read them. With such a means at your disposal you can spread the spirit and teachings of the Cause; you can show the evils that exist in society, as well as the way they can be remedied. If you possess a real talent in writing you should consider it as given by God and exert your efforts to use it for the betterment of society."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, November 30, 1932: Extracts from the Baha'i Writings on the Subject of Writers and Writing, A Compilation, July 1980, p. 6)


357. The Faith Needs Baha'i Authors

"Regarding the advice you asked him for, he feels that to devote all one's studies with the object of becoming a Baha'i author is rather risky. We need Baha'i authors badly, but you have to be assured that you have the talent to earn your living in that field, and also serve the Faith in it.

"He feels that the best thing for you to do is to devote your studies to acquiring a sound education, if you like along literary lines, and then see what develops."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, May 14, 1957)


358. Doctoral Theses and Similar Treatises

"It has been decided that doctoral theses and similar treatises submitted to institutions of learning for the obtaining of a degree are not subject to Baha'i review unless they are to be published more widely than is required for the degree in question."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, May 11, 1982)


[104] 359. No Publisher Has the Right to Alter Author's Manuscript

"A publishing trust has the right to refuse publication of any particular title, and a National Assembly has the right to review any proposed Baha'i publication for accuracy and propriety. But no publisher has the right to alter or change an author's manuscript without his knowledge and consent."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice written to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, July 28, 1966)



D. Baha'i Publication, Translation, Review and Copyright


360. Baha'i Newsletters and Bulletins—Why Circulation is Restricted to "Baha'is Only"

"In reply to your inquiry of 18th November 1982 about Baha'i newsletters and bulletins being for Baha'is only, we are asked by the Universal House of Justice to quote below from letters written by the Universal House of Justice or at its instruction to other National Assemblies which have asked similar questions.


"With reference to your letter of October 31st asking why the circulation of Baha'i News should be restricted to Baha'is we wish to point out that the same reasons that make it necessary to restrict the attendance at a Nineteen Day Feast to Baha'is only apply also to the circulation of Baha'i Newsletters.


"A Baha'i news bulletin assumes that the reader is a Baha'i and it would therefore normally contain items which are purely of a domestic nature of no interest to the general public and which, in some cases, may give the wrong impression to those not familiar with the Baha'i teachings. However, there is no objection to the friends showing their newsletters to non-Baha'is if they so wish or find it useful at times. Furthermore, if the words 'For Baha'is Only' which appear on some newsletters are found to be offensive to the non-Baha'i, there is no requirement for these words to appear on every copy of the newsletter.


"In answer to your query concerning the policy of keeping 'Baha'i News' for Baha'is only, the House of Justice instructs us to explain that the circulation of Baha'i Newsletters is restricted to Baha'is because they are vehicles of news that is primarily of internal interest to the friends and the Assembly should be able to write freely to the believers without having to so word the information that it would be easily understandable to a non-Baha'i reader. In other words, a Baha'i newsletter is not secret but is an internal journal intended for an informed readership."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Mexico, December 19, 1982)


361. Usage in Spanish Texts of Accents on Persian and Arabic Words

"The question as to whether or not the accents on the word Baha'i (and indeed on other words transliterated from the Persian and Arabic) should be used when the word is printed entirely in capital letters is one that should be uniform in usage throughout the Spanish-speaking world unless usage varies significantly from country to country. It is suggested, therefore, that you refer this question to the two Baha'i Publishing Trusts in Spain and Argentina for their comments. The guiding [105] consideration should not be the usage in relation to accents on Spanish words, but the usage in Spanish texts of accents on capital letters on foreign words appearing in Spanish texts, such as the German umlaut, etc. It should be borne in mind that, whereas the accent in Spanish indicates merely a presence of stress, in the transliteration of Persian words it indicates a difference in articulation of the vowel. For example, the words 'VAHID' and 'VAHID'* are two words with different meanings and different pronunciations."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Mexico, July 22, 1984)

___________________

*This word has an accent mark over the "I". The first word "VAHID" does not.—ARCHIVE Editor


362. Publications from World Centre—No Restriction on Use of Quotations

"There is no restriction on Baha'i authors, institutions and publishing agencies using quotations from the publications of the World Centre, and permission to do so need not be sought. This freedom to quote likewise applies to compilations of the World Centre which have been published.

"Permission to quote from publications of Publishing Trusts should be sought from the Trust concerned except in cases where the Trust has merely printed a compilation issued by the World Centre.

"Of course, Baha'i authors should seek review of their works by the National Assembly of the country in which it will be printed."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, December 11, 1980)


363. Copyright Clearance on Sacred Writings Not Necessary for Assemblies and Baha'i Believers

"The Universal House of Justice has been concerned of late to note an apparently growing impression among Spiritual Assemblies and individual believers in many parts of the world, that they must obtain copyright clearance before they may quote from the Sacred Texts of the Faith in any publication. It has now instructed us to make it clear that the Spiritual Assemblies and individual believers are free to quote in their publications from any of the Writings of the three Central Figures of the Faith or from the writings of the beloved Guardian, whether in the original language or in translation, without obtaining clearance from the copyright holder, unless the copyright holder in the case of a translation is an individual or is a non-Baha'i institution. It is recognized that this ruling may endanger copyrights, but we feel that this is a risk that must be taken.


"The ruling is made to ensure that the Sacred Scriptures of our Faith and the writings of the beloved Guardian may be freely used by the believers; it does not change the existing requirements for individual believers to submit their works on the Faith for review before publication, neither does it relieve Spiritual Assemblies of their responsibility to protect the dignity of the Faith and uphold the proper standard of reverence in the use of its Sacred Scriptures. Thus, if any Assembly sees that one of the friends is making use of any of the Holy Texts in an unbefitting manner, it should remonstrate with him and, if necessary, require him to stop doing so."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, September 4, 1981)


364. Capitalizing Pronouns in English

"The Guardian wishes your Committee to capitalize all pronouns when referring [106] to Baha'u'llah, the Bab and the Master, even though the newspapers do not use them."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the Baha'i News Service Committee, February 5, 1938)


"In regard to your question about capitalizing the pronouns: The Guardian realizes this looks a little strange to non-Baha'is, but he feels we, being believers, and having the full sense of the Stations of the Central figures of our Faith, should do this as a sign of respect under all circumstances."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, November 22, 1949)


365. Capitalizing Pronouns in Other Languages

"He is interested in accomplishing two things—he would like in the European languages to have as much uniformity with the English translations as possible; he does not wish the Baha'i translations to be in any way a flagrant violation of the rules of the language into which our literature is being translated.


"Your Committee must conscientiously study this question, and then do the best you can to have the Baha'i literature in French meet the high standards of the French language and grammar.


"If the possessive and demonstrative adjectives and pronouns in French are never capitalized where they stand for 'God', then this should not be done in the Baha'i literature. If there is a precedent for doing so in the French language, however, they should be. The same is true of the attributes of God."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Translation and Publication Committee of France, February 15, 1957)


366. Quotation Marks—Must Uphold Rigid Standard Inculcated by the Cause

"Also the Guardian feels it is absolutely essential that in all releases issued by your Committee quotation marks be used when passages from Baha'i Sacred Writings are quoted. The friends should be careful to uphold under all circumstances the rigid standard inculcated by the Cause, and not to compromise easily with the common and accepted standards of the time."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the Baha'i News Service Committee, February 5, 1938)


367. National Spiritual Assembly Authorizes Translations Through a Committee of Baha'i Translators—The Guardian's Method of Transliteration Should Be Used

"The National Spiritual Assembly which undertakes the translation, usually through a committee of Baha'i translators, is the body which 'authorizes' the translation, if it is approved. In some instances, if there are no Baha'i translators available, there is no objection, in principle, to employing non-Baha'is for this purpose. It is usual for the National Spiritual Assembly to appoint a Reviewing Committee, or establish some means of providing review of the completed translation. You will note from the enclosed memorandum that, with the exceptions enumerated therein, new translations of the Sacred Text into languages other than English must be made from the Guardian's English translation where it exists; and when no such translation exists, advice should be sought from the Universal House of Justice. In the case of Spanish, to avoid [107] duplication of effort and to achieve the highest standard of accuracy, the National Assembly concerned should feel free to consult EBILA and/or the National Spiritual Assembly of Spain, and indeed the House of Justice encourages the closest co-operation between all administrative bodies and publishing trusts responsible for the production of literature in Spanish.

"Regarding the transliteration of Persian and Arabic words the House of Justice requests that the method adopted by the beloved Guardian, and which is described in the various volumes of 'The Baha'i World', be followed, as it permits all languages which use the Roman alphabet to transliterate such terms in the same way throughout the Baha'i world."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Panama, July 16, 1979)


368. Guidelines for the Translation of Baha'i Sacred Writings

"Translations into languages other than those akin to Persian and Arabic should normally be made from approved English translations rather than from the original Persian and Arabic. In such cases it is an advantage if it is also possible for the translator(s) to check with the original.

"All new translations into English, and all revisions of earlier translations in that language must be checked at the World Centre and officially approved before publication.


"Any believer is free to translate for his own use anything he wishes, but dissemination or publication of such translation is dependent upon their approval by the appropriate National Spiritual Assembly or, in the case of translations into English, by the World Centre.


a) If an individual Baha'i spontaneously makes his own translation of a passage he may willingly make it available to a Spiritual Assembly but he cannot be compelled to do so.


b) If a translation made spontaneously by an individual is approved and published, he retains the copyright of his translation unless, of course, he wishes to surrender it.


"When a Spiritual Assembly wishes to have a translation made it should, if possible have the task undertaken by a committee rather than by individuals, as is explained by 'Abdu'l-Baha.


a) The members of such a committee need not all be Baha'is.


b) Translations made by a committee are the property of the Assembly appointing the committee, and not of the members of the committee.


c) Except for translations into English, a translation made by a committee does not have to be checked unless the Assembly deems it advisable.


d) In accordance with the instructions of Shoghi Effendi the name of the committee should appear in the book as the translator, but the names of the members must not so appear."

(Guidelines for the Translation of Baha'i Sacred Writings attached to a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Assembly of Panama, July 16, 1979)


369. An Individual Can Be Commissioned to Make Translations—Translations Become Property of the Assembly

"If it is not feasible to form a translation committee, translations must, perforce, be made by individuals. [108] 


a) When an individual is commissioned by an Assembly to make a translation for it the translation should become the property of the Assembly, not of the individual, even if the work is done without remuneration. It is advisable to have this and other matters agreed in writing before the work is undertaken so that there may be no ground for subsequent misunderstandings.


b) A translation made by an individual should be checked before being published, if possible, and such checking should be done by a committee rather than by an individual, if this is feasible.


c) When a translation made by an individual is published, his name may appear as translator if he so wishes.


"Normally credit for translation should appear on all complete works and compilations that are published, as well as on books that quote translated passages.


a) Credit for translation should not appear in the case of passages quoted in communications from Baha'i institutions, even when these are published.


b) Credit for translation need not appear on published leaflets and pamphlets unless there is a legal requirement that it do so."

(Ibid.)


370. Translation of Baha'i Literature into Everyday Language—Simplifications and Paraphrasing Not to be Published as Scripture

"The Universal House of Justice, in response to your letter of 20 April concerning translations into French or Creole using simpler words than the original text, has requested us to send the following three quotations. These make it clear that a quotation in English may be rendered into simple English in order to facilitate its translation into another language or dialect. However, it is not permissible to publish simplifications and paraphrased extracts of Baha'i Writings as Baha'i Scripture.


'We have noticed a tendency in a number of countries to attempt to translate Baha'i literature into the current, easy, everyday language of the country. This, however, should not be an overriding consideration. Many of the Tablets of Baha'u'llah and 'Abdu'l-Baha are in exalted and highly poetic language in the original Persian and Arabic and you will see, for example, that when translating Baha'u'llah's Writings into English the beloved Guardian did not use present-day colloquial English but evolved a highly poetic and beautiful style, using numbers of archaic expressions reminiscent of the translations of the Bible.' 

(From a letter dated 7 October 1973 written by the Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly)


'Obviously teaching literature and books about the Faith can be written in simple English. However, we feel that when the Sacred Writings are published the standard English translation should be used, but there would be no objection to printing alongside it the translation into simple English which should be described as a paraphrase of the Holy Word. Thus, for the people of ... who have difficulty in comprehending standard English, the simple English version would be in the nature of an explanation of the Writings which they could understand. In the case of teaching literature in which quotations from the Writings appear, [109] these could either be paraphrased or a simple English version could be used with the standard version printed as a footnote. This method would also provide a means whereby the people of ... could improve their knowledge and understanding of the English language.' 

(From a letter dated 20 September 1973 written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly)


'It is, of course, permissible to translate Baha'i Writings into other languages and dialects of languages. It is also possible to simplify or paraphrase the Baha'i Writings in order to facilitate their translation into languages and dialects having small vocabularies. However, it is not permissible to publish simplifications and paraphrases of Baha'i Writings as Baha'i Scripture.'" 

(From a letter dated 13 March 1969 written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly)

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the Spiritual Assembly of Guadeloupe, May 13, 1986)


371. Translators Should Utilize Most Recent Editions of Books

"The Universal House of Justice has requested us to advise you to base your translations on current editions of all the books referred to, if translation is involved. In each instance you should consult the original publisher and obtain a copy of the latest printing or edition to ensure that all approved corrections are embodied in your translation."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Taiwan, May 22, 1984)



E. Miscellaneous Subjects


372. Friday is Day of Rest in Baha'i Calendar

"Abdu'l-Baha gives no reason whatever why Friday has been chosen as the day of rest in the Baha'i calendar. He just affirms it."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, July 10, 1939: Baha'i News, No. 162, April 1943, p. 5)


373. Use of Baha'i Dates

"It is advisable to use both the Baha'i dates, according to the Baha'i Calendar, and the usual Gregorian dates as well. The friends at present are free to do as they please."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, December 24, 1943: Baha'i News, No. 173, February 1945, p. 11)


374. Baha'i Faith, Designation of

"In reply to your letter of January 26th, we realize that there are occasions on which the use of the term 'Baha'i World Faith' may be justified and useful. However, it is our hope that the friends will gradually lose the habit of using this term as widely as they do now. The designation 'The Baha'i Faith' is more dignified and preferable. Any adjective added to this name tends to a diminution of its stature and might be taken to mean that there are other 'Baha'i Faiths'."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the British Isles, February 5, 1967: Copies to various National Spiritual Assemblies)


[110] 375. Symbol of Baha'i Faith—Five-Pointed Star

"...Strictly speaking the five-pointed star is the symbol of our Faith, as used by the Bab and explained by Him. But the Guardian does not feel it is wise or necessary to complicate our explanation of the Temple by adding this."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, October 28, 1949: U.S. Supplement to Baha'i News, No. 50, p. 4, April 1962)



IV. BAHA'I LIFE, EGO, SACRIFICE, SELF AND SERVICE



A. Baha'i Life


[111] 376. The Great Thing is to "Live the Life"

"The great thing is to 'Live the Life'—to have our lives so saturated with the Divine teachings and the Baha'i Spirit that people cannot fail to see a joy, a power, a love, a purity, a radiance, an efficiency in our character and work that will distinguish us from worldly-minded people and make people wonder what is the secret of this new life in us. We must become entirely selfless and devoted to God so that every day and every moment we seek to do only what God would have us do and in the way He would have us do it. If we do this sincerely then we shall have perfect unity and harmony with each other. Where there is want of harmony there is lack of the true Baha'i Spirit. Unless we can show this transformation in our lives, this new power, this mutual love and harmony, then the Baha'i teachings are but a name to us."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, February 2, 1925)


377. If Health is Spent in Sensual Desires, Death Preferable to Such a Life

"If the health and well-being of the body be expended in the path of the Kingdom, this is very acceptable and praiseworthy; and if it be expended to the benefit of the human world in general—even though it be to their material (or bodily) benefit—and be a means of doing good, that is also acceptable. But if the health and welfare of man be spent in sensual desires, in a life on the animal plane, and in devilish pursuits—then disease were better than such health, nay, death itself were preferable to such a life. If thou art desirous of health, wish thou health for serving the Kingdom...."

('Abdu'l-Baha: From a Tablet to the Baha'is of Washington: Baha'u'llah and the New Era, pp. 114-115)


378. To Attract the Hearts of Others It is Necessary to Live Up to the Teachings

"Indeed if the friends could seek, and exert themselves, to become 100 percent Baha'is they would see how greatly their influence over others would be increased, and how rapidly the Cause would spread. The world is seeking not a compromise but the embodiment of a high and shining ideal. The more the friends live up to our teachings in every aspect of their lives, in their homes, in business, in their social relationships, the greater will be the attraction they exercise over the hearts of others.

"He is pleased to see you have naturally, with conviction and good will towards all, been mingling with and teaching the colored people. When the [112] Baha'is live up to their teachings as they should, although it may arouse the opposition of some it will arouse still more the admiration of fair-minded people."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, January 23, 1945)


379. Baha'is Must Cling to Their Faith and to Each Other

"In these days when the forces of inharmony and disunity are rampant throughout the world, the Baha'is must cling to their Faith and to each other and, in spite of every difficulty and suffering, protect the unity of the Cause. Often the first efforts at getting the administration of the Faith to work harmoniously are painful because the individual must learn to subject his will to the whole—but these are all minor details, and the friends must all concentrate on constructive work for the Cause."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to a group of believers, May 7, 1941)


380. The Advertisements for the Faith Are Love, Hospitality, Understanding and the Will to Help

"He is very pleased to see with what love and devotion you have accepted our beloved Faith and long to serve it.


"Not all of us are capable of serving in the same way, but the one way every Baha'i can spread the Faith is by example. This moves the hearts of people far more deeply than words ever can.


"The love we show others, the hospitality and understanding, the willingness to help them, these are the very best advertisements of the Faith. They will want to hear about it when they see these things in our lives.


"The Guardian will pray that Baha'u'llah will aid you and strengthen you to teach His Cause to many souls."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, October 14, 1943)


381. How to Acquire Peace of Mind

"...Peace of mind is gained by the centering of the spiritual consciousness on the Prophet of God; therefore you should study the spiritual Teachings, and receive the Water of Life from the Holy Utterances. Then by translating these high ideals into action, your entire character will be changed, and your mind will not only find peace, but your entire being will find joy and enthusiasm."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, October 15, 1952)


382. One Should Not Give the Impression of Being Fanatic—Seek to be Many-Sided, Normal and Well-Balanced

"You ask about 'spiritual indigestion': Baha'is should seek to be many-sided, normal and well-balanced, mentally and spiritually. We must not give the impression of being fanatics but at the same time we must live up to our principles."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, March 12, 1946: Living the Life)


[113] 383. The Inner Life of the Spirit is What Counts

"If people only realized it, the inner life of the spirit is that which counts, but they are so blinded by desires and so misled that they have brought upon themselves all the suffering we see at present in the world. The Baha'is seek to lead people back to a knowledge of their true selves and the purpose for which they were created, and thus to their greatest happiness and highest good."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, July 24, 1943)


384. Through Deep Study and Living the Life to Become Like Firm Rocks

"He hopes that these receptive souls you have succeeded to attract into the movement will through deep study and living the life become like firm rocks upon which the Cause can build its future spiritual temple—the temple of the hearts. In one of His very beautiful and stirring poems written in the early days of His Mission Baha'u'llah bids us stay away and not become an encumbrance if we desire to live and have our well-being. In case, however, we are ready to sacrifice our all in the path of God then we should hasten to Him and follow His way.


"What the Cause needs is such ardent and self-sacrificing servants and not lukewarm followers who are ready to reap the fruit but unwilling to take a part in winning that victory. Shoghi Effendi, therefore, hopes that you will endeavour to make of your spiritual children of the type Baha'u'llah sought to have and create not passive admirers but active servants of the new world order."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, November 6, 1932)


385. Evolution of the Soul

"Regarding your questions concerning the condition of the soul during illness. The passages in the 'Gleanings' make it quite clear that physical ailments, no matter how severe, cannot bring any change in the inherent condition of the soul. As Baha'u'llah says: 'The spirit is permanent and steadfast in its station'. The veil or hindrance that interposes between soul and body during physical disease is sickness itself. Sickness reveals a lack of balance in human organism, an absence of equilibrium in the forces essential for the normal functioning of the human body."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, March 8, 1936)



B. Ego—Self


386. The Meaning of Self

"Regarding the questions you asked: Self has really two meanings, or is used in two senses, in the Baha'i writings: one is self, the identity of the individual created by God. This is the self mentioned in such passages as 'he hath known God who hath known himself etc.'. The other self is the ego, the dark, animalistic heritage each one of us has, the lower nature that can develop into a monster of selfishness, brutality, lust and so on. It is this self we must struggle against, or this side of our natures, in order to strengthen and free the spirit within us and help it to attain perfection.


[114] "Self-sacrifice means to subordinate this lower nature and its desires to the more godly and noble side of ourselves. Ultimately, in its highest sense, self-sacrifice means to give our will and our all to God to do with as He pleases. Then He purifies and glorifies our true self until it becomes a shining and wonderful reality."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, December 10, 1947)


387. The Ego is the Animal Within Us

"The ego is the animal in us, the heritage of the flesh which is full of selfish desires. By obeying the laws of God, seeking to live the life laid down in our teachings, and prayer and struggle, we can subdue our egos. We call people 'saints' who have achieved the highest degree of mastery over their ego.


"There is no contradiction between Gleanings P 66 and P 262. In one place He says the mirror will never be free from dross, in the other He says it will be 'so cleansed as to be able' etc. It is a relative thing; perfection will never be reached, but great, and ever greater, progress can be made."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, January 8, 1949)


388. Life is a Constant Struggle Against Forces Around Us and Our Own "Egos"

"Life is a constant struggle, not only against forces around us, but above all against our own 'ego'. We can never afford to rest on our oars, for if we do, we soon see ourselves carried down stream again. Many of those who drift away from the Cause do so for the reason that they had ceased to go on developing. They became complacent, or indifferent, and consequently ceased to draw the spiritual strength and vitality from the Cause which they should have. Sometimes, of course, people fail because of a test they just do not meet, and often our severest tests come from each other. Certainly the believers should try to avert such things, and if they happen, remedy them through love. Generally speaking nine-tenths of the friends' troubles are because they don't do the Baha'i thing, in relation to each other, to the administrative bodies or in their personal lives."

(Ibid.)


389. The Prophets Are the Only Ones Free of the "Dross of Self"

"Regarding the questions you asked in your letter: The only people who are truly free of the 'dross of self' are the Prophets, for to be free of one's ego is a hall-mark of perfection. We humans are never going to become perfect, for perfection belongs to a realm we are not destined to enter. However, we must constantly mount higher, seek to be more perfect."

(Ibid.)


390. Self Mastery, Key to

"Today the confirmations of the Kingdom of Abha are with those who renounce themselves, forget their own opinions, cast aside personalities and are thinking of the welfare of others... Whosoever is occupied with himself is wandering in [115] the desert of heedlessness and regret. The 'Master Key' to self-mastery is self-forgetting. The road to the palace of life is through the path of renunciation."

('Abdu'l-Baha: Star of the West, Vol. XVII, p. 348)


391. Through the Search for God, We Become Acquainted with Ourselves

"The more we search for ourselves, the less likely we are to find ourselves; and the more we search for God, and to serve our fellow-men, the more profoundly will we become acquainted with ourselves, and the more inwardly assured. This is one of the great spiritual laws of life."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, February 18, 1954)


392. Becoming Conscious of Self is a Gradual Process

"You have asked as to what point in man's evolution he becomes conscious of self. This consciousness of self in man is a gradual process, and does not start at a definite point. It grows in him in this world and continues to do so in the future spiritual world.

"Man can certainly recall past experiences in his evolution, and even when his soul leaves this world it will still remember its past."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, November 20, 1937)


393. Man's Evolution is Both Individual and Collective

"Man's evolution is both individual and collective, because of his twofold relationship to himself and to the society in which he lives. Individual evolution starts with the early stages of one's existence. Consciousness too grows with this evolution."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, January 14, 1938)


394. The Cause Has the Spiritual Power to Re-Create Us

"The believers, as we all know, should endeavour to set such an example in their personal lives and conduct that others will feel impelled to embrace a Faith which reforms human character. However, unfortunately, not everyone achieves easily and rapidly the victory over self. What every believer, new or old, should realize is that the Cause has the spiritual power to re-create us if we make the effort to let that power influence us, and the greatest help in this respect is prayer. We must supplicate Baha'u'llah to assist us to overcome the failings in our own characters, and also exert our own will power in mastering ourselves.


"He will certainly pray for the work of the beloved Cause there and especially that new souls may be attracted and embrace the Faith. He will also pray that the believers may, for the sake of God, draw close to each other and not permit each other's short-comings to be a source of disunity and consequently a means of depriving thirsty souls of this life-giving Message! The world is full of evil and dark forces and the friends must not permit these forces to get hold of them by thinking and feeling negatively towards each other."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, January 27, 1945)


[116] 395. Our Thoughts Should Be Turned Determinedly, Intelligently and Unemotionally to God

"He was very sorry to hear of the condition of your dear sister. He would advise her to turn her thoughts determinedly and intelligently—by that I mean unemotionally—to God, realising that He is forgiving, that in one moment He can, through His blessed mercy, take away our sense of failure and help us to do better in the future—if we sincerely wish to; to turn to Him in prayer and seek to draw closer to Him; and to accept His Will and submit her own desires and opinions to His wish and plan for her.

"There is a tremendous darkness in the world today, the darkness caused by mankind's going against the Laws of God and giving way to the animal side of human nature. People must recognize this fact, and consciously struggle against pessimism and depression."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, July 14, 1945)


396. We Should Focus on the Glory of the Cause and Not on Our Failures

"Regarding your own condition: He strongly urges you not to dwell on yourself. Each one of us, if we look into our failures, is sure to feel unworthy and despondent, and this feeling only frustrates our constructive efforts and wastes time. The thing for us to focus on is the glory of the Cause and the Power of Baha'u'llah which can make of a mere drop a surging sea! You certainly have no right to feel negative; you have embraced this glorious Faith and arisen with devotion to serve it, and your labours are greatly appreciated by both the Guardian and your fellow-Baha'is. With something as positive as the Faith and all it teaches behind you, you should be a veritable lion of confidence, and he will pray that you may become so.


"There is, unfortunately, no way that one can force his own good upon a man. The elements of free will is there, and all we believers—and even the Manifestation of God Himself—can do is to offer the truth to mankind. If the people of the world persist, as they seem to be doing, in their blind materialism, they must bear the consequences in a prolongation of their present condition, and even a worsening of it. Our duty as Baha'is is to build up such a love and unity within our own ranks that the people will be attracted by this example to the Cause. We also must teach all we can and strengthen the Baha'i Community in the administration. But more we cannot do to avert the great sufferings which seemingly still lie ahead of the world in its present evil state."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, October 13, 1947)


397. Do Not Dwell on Others' Thoughts and Attitudes

"We must never dwell too much on the attitudes and feelings of our fellow-believers towards us. What is most important is to foster love and harmony and ignore any rebuffs we may receive; in this way the weakness of human nature and the peculiarity or attitude of any particular person is not magnified, but pales into insignificance in comparison with our joint service to the Faith we all love."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, September 19, 1948)



C. Self-Defense


[117] 398. Baha'i Justified in Defending His Life in Emergency

"Regarding the question you raised: In an emergency, when there is no legal source at hand to appeal to, a Baha'i is perfectly justified in defending his life."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, July 24, 1943)


399. Self-Defense

"From the texts you already have available it is clear that Baha'u'llah has stated that it is preferable to be killed in the path of God's good-pleasure than to kill, and that organized religious attack against Baha'is should never turn into any kind of warfare, as this is strictly prohibited in our Writings.


"The House of Justice does not wish at the present time to go beyond the guidelines given in the above-mentioned statements. The question is basically a matter of conscience, and in each case the Baha'i involved must use his judgment in determining when to stop in self-defense lest his action deteriorate into retaliation.


"Of course the above principles apply also in cases when a Baha'i finds himself involved in situations of civil disorder. We have, however, advised the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States that under the present circumstances in that country it is preferable that Baha'is do not buy nor own arms for their protection or the protection of their families."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Canada, May 26, 1969: Messages from the Universal House of Justice, 1968-1973, p. 26)


400. Pioneer Living in a Remote Area Lacking Protection: Circumstances Under which a Baha'i is Justified in Defending Self

"We have your letter of March 2, 1972 asking if ... a pioneer couple living in a remote area lacking police protection may have a weapon in their possession for defending themselves as thieves have broken into their house twice and robbed them.


"A hitherto untranslated Tablet from 'Abdu'l-Baha points out that in the case of attack by robbers and highwaymen, a Baha'i should not surrender himself, but should try, as far as circumstances permit, to defend himself, and later on lodge a complaint with the government authorities. A statement in a letter written on behalf of the Guardian indicates that in an emergency when there is no legal force at hand to appeal to a Baha'i is justified in defending his life. Although we have advised certain National Assemblies in countries facing increasing civil disorder that it is preferable that Baha'is do not buy or own arms for their protection or the protection of their families, we feel that in the circumstances you have outlined in your letter it would be permissible for the pioneer family to keep a weapon in the house, provided the law permits."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Honduras, March 20, 1972)



D. Self-Sacrifice and Service


401. The Mystery of Sacrifice

"O maid-servant of God! The mystery of sacrifice is that man should sacrifice all [118] his conditions for the divine station of God. The station of God is mercy, kindness, forgiveness, sacrifice, favour, grace and giving-life to the spirits and lighting the fire of His love in the hearts and arteries. I asked God to make thee a sign of mercy, the banner of kindness among His maid-servants."

('Abdu'l-Baha: Tablets of 'Abdu'l-Baha, Vol. I, p. 65)


402. Self-Sacrifice, Meaning of

"Self-sacrifice means to subordinate this lower nature and its desires to the more godly and noble side of ourselves. Ultimately, in its highest sense, self-sacrifice means to give our will and our all to God to do with as He pleases. Then He purifies and glorifies our true self until it becomes a shining and wonderful reality."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, December 10, 1947: Living the Life, p. 14)


403. To What Extent Should We Sacrifice Our Lives for the Interest of the Cause?

"The problem of to what extent we should sacrifice our time for the interest of the Cause depends for its solution upon individual means and circumstances. It is a personal problem that we ought to settle individually. One person may give all his time to teaching and rely upon small personal income and another may find himself more fitted to business and give his share of service in the form of financial assistance."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, December 18, 1930)


404. Accepting to Suffer for Each Other's Sake

"With reference to your question as to whether individuals can help each other by accepting to suffer for each other's sake. Surely such sacrifice for our fellow-humans can have helpful results. This law of sacrifice operates in our own lives, as well as in the lives of the Divine Manifestations."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, March 31, 1938)


405. Service as Magnet for Divine Confirmation

"...There is nothing that brings success in the Faith like service. Service is the magnet which draws the divine confirmations. Thus, when a person is active, they are blessed by the Holy Spirit. When they are inactive, the Holy Spirit cannot find a repository in their being, and thus they are deprived of its healing and quickening rays."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, July 12, 1952: Living the Life, p. 18)


406. Assistance of Hosts of Divine Concourse

"...An individual must center his whole heart and mind on service to the Cause, in accordance with the high standards set by Baha'u'llah. When this is done, the hosts of the Supreme Concourse will come to the assistance of the individual, and every difficulty and trial will gradually be overcome."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, October 6, 1954: Ibid., p. 19)


[119] 407. An Irresistible Urge to Serve—Do Not Look at Your Shortcomings

"...This irresistible urge to serve which you feel and which has prompted you to offer yourself for work in the teaching field is itself a clear indication that you are being guided by the Almighty to attain your highest and noblest goal in this life. For what a greater destiny can you hope to seek except that which Baha'u'llah has traced for every one of His loyal believers, namely to consecrate one's all to the service and glorification of His Faith! This assurance should indeed fortify your hopes, and enable you to banish every sense of dissatisfaction, and of unworthiness which may linger in your heart, and which may deter you from participating joyously and actively in serving the Cause. You should not look at your limitations, but derive full confidence at the thought that, however limited your resources and capacities may be, your efforts will be reinforced by Divine confirmations, provided you do your share and discharge your obligations as a believer, fully and conscientiously. Your perseverance will, even as a magnet, draw upon you the favours and blessings of Baha'u'llah. Do feel happy and confident, therefore, and fortified by such an assurance arise to contribute all that is in your power towards the furtherance and promulgation of our beloved Cause."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, January 30, 1939)


408. There is No Rule or Standard Requiring a Believer to Serve in One Field at the Exclusion of Others

"Whatever the particular field of service you may choose, whether teaching or administrative, the essential is for you to persevere, and not to allow any consciousness of your limitations to dampen your zeal, much less to deter you from serving joyously and actively.


"There is no general rule, or any particular standard requiring a believer to serve in one field at the exclusion of others. Every believer is to choose for himself any avenue of work in which he conscientiously feels he can render the greatest amount of service to the Cause. He can seek the advice of his Assembly, and of his fellow-believers before taking such a step, but there is no obligation requiring him to do so."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, February 6, 1939)



V. BEGGING, CHARITIES AND THE POOR



A. Begging


[120] 409. Begging is Forbidden—House of Justice to Provide for Disabled

"We have been asked to share with you the following extract from one of the Tablets of 'Abdu'l-Baha on the subject of begging:

'By the sacred verse: "Begging is forbidden, and it is also prohibited to dispense alms to a beggar" is meant that mendicancy is forbidden and that giving charity to people who take up begging as their profession is also prohibited. The object is to wipe out mendicancy altogether. However, if a person is disabled, striken by dire poverty or becomes helpless, then it is incumbent upon the rich or the trustees to provide him with a monthly allowance for his subsistence. When the House of Justice comes into being it will set up homes for the incapacitated. Thus no one will be obliged to beg, even as the supplementary part of the blessed verse denotes: "It is enjoined upon everyone to earn his livelihood"; then He says: "As to those who are disabled, it devolveth upon the trustees and the rich to make adequate provision for them." By "trustees" is meant the representatives of the people, that is to say the members of the House of Justice.'


"The Universal House of Justice does not wish to go beyond the elucidation given by the Master in the above passage and wishes, for the time being, to leave any matter not entirely covered by this text to the conscience of individual believers."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, August 13, 1974)


410. Beggars—Most Despised of Men in the Sight of God

"The most despised of men in the sight of God are those who sit idly and beg. Hold ye fast unto the cord of material means, placing your whole trust in God, the Provider of all means. When anyone occupieth himself in a craft or trade, such occupation itself is regarded in the estimation of God as an act of worship; and this is naught but a token of His infinite and all-pervasive bounty."

(Baha'u'llah: Tablets of Baha'u'llah revealed after the Kitab-i-Aqdas, p. 26)



B. Charity


411. Charity is the Very Essence of the Teachings

"This Baha'i teaching of human fellowship and kindness implies that we must be always ready to extend every assistance and help we can to those who are in distress and suffering. Baha'i charity is of the very essence of the Teachings, and should [121] therefore be developed in every Baha'i community. Charitable institutions such as orphanages, free schools and hospitals for the poor, constitute an indispensable part of the Mashriqu'l-Adhkar. It is the responsibility of every local Baha'i community to insure the welfare of its poor and needy members, through whatever means possible.


"But, of course, this extension of assistance to the poor, in whatever form should under no circumstances be allowed to seriously interfere with the major collective interests of the Baha'i Community, as distinguished from the purely personal interests of its members. The demands of the Cause transcend those of the individual, and should therefore be given precedence. But these two phases of Baha'i social life, though not of equal importance, are by no means contradictory. Both of them are essential, and should be fostered, but each according to its own degree of importance. It is the responsibility of Baha'i Assemblies to decide when individual interests should be subordinated to those affecting the collective welfare of the community. But, as already stated, the interest of the individual should always be safeguarded within certain limits, and provided they do not seriously affect the welfare of the group as a whole."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, June 26, 1936)


412. Contributions to Charity by Assemblies and Individuals

"First there is the principle that any believer may sell personal services or property to anyone and do with the proceeds as he wishes, including giving any or all of them to Baha'i purposes. Thus if a Baha'i concert artist gives a concert to which admission is charged, he is free, if he so wishes, to give the money so earned to the Fund or to any charity of his choice. In giving the concert, however, he should not represent to non-Baha'is that the concert is for the benefit of the Baha'i Fund or is given on behalf of Baha'is for a charity, which brings us to the second principle: That it is improper for Baha'is to solicit funds from non-Baha'is in the name of the Faith for any purpose. If a non-Baha'i insists on making a monetary contribution it may be accepted with the express understanding that it will be used only for charitable or philanthropic purposes, but such contributions should be discouraged, not encouraged.


"The third principle concerns contributions made to charity by Baha'is themselves. Spiritual Assemblies are, of course, permitted to make contributions to charity—indeed care of the poor and needy is one of the duties assigned to them in the Baha'i Writings—but they must weigh their responsibilities very carefully and remember that in a highly organised country like the United Kingdom the poor are helped by a multitude of agencies, both governmental and private, whereas only the Baha'is can contribute towards the building of the Kingdom of God on earth. This, clearly, is a matter for wise moderation. Assemblies, moreover, should perform their charitable works with a pure motive, and not with the thought of propagandizing for the Faith.


"An individual Baha'i is, of course, free to contribute to charity from his own resources if he wishes, but as a Baha'i he should bear in mind the needs of the Baha'i Fund, which only believers can support."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to a Local Spiritual Assembly, March 19, 1973)


413. Surest Way of Lifting Once and for All Burden of Hunger and Misery

"...in the first place every believer is free to follow the dictates of his own [122] conscience as regards the manner in which to spend his own money. Secondly, we must always bear in mind that there are so few Baha'is in the world, relative to the world's population, and so many people in need, that even if all of us gave all we had, it would not alleviate more than an infinitesimal amount of suffering. This does not mean we must not help the needy, we should; but our contributions to the Faith are the surest way of lifting once and for all time the burden of hunger and misery from mankind, for it is only through the system of Baha'u'llah—Divine in origin—that the world can be gotten on its feet and want, fear, hunger, war, etc., be eliminated. Non-Baha'is cannot contribute to our work or do it for us; so really our first obligation is to support our own teaching work, as this will lead to the healing of the nations."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, December 8, 1947: Lifeblood of the Cause, 1970, London, pp. 12-13)


414. There Are Many Ways that Help Can Be Rendered to Suffering Fellow-Men

"It is understandable that Baha'is who witness the miserable conditions under which so many human beings have to live, or who hear of a sudden disaster that has struck a certain area of the world, are moved to do something practical to ameliorate those conditions and to help their suffering fellow-mortals.


"There are many ways in which help can be rendered. Every Baha'i has the duty to acquire a trade or profession through which he will earn that wherewith he can support himself and his family; in the choice of such work he can seek those activities which are of benefit to his fellow-men and not merely those which promote his personal interests, still less those whose effects are actually harmful.


"There are also the situations in which an individual Baha'i or a Spiritual Assembly is confronted with an urgent need which neither justice nor compassion could allow to go unheeded and unhelped. How many are the stories told of 'Abdu'l-Baha in such situations, when He would even take off a garment He was wearing and give it to a shivering man in rags.


"But in our concern for such immediate obvious calls upon our succour we must not allow ourselves to forget the continuing, appalling burden of suffering under which millions of human beings are always groaning—a burden which they have bourne for century upon century and which it is the mission of Baha'u'llah to lift at last. The principal cause of this suffering, which one can witness wherever one turns, is the corrupton of human morals and the prevalence of prejudice, suspicion, hatred, untrustworthiness, selfishness and tyranny among men. It is not merely material well-being that people need. What they desperately need is to know how to live their lives—they need to know who they are, to what purpose they exist, and how they should act towards one another; and, once they know the answers to these questions they need to be helped to gradually apply these answers to every-day behaviour. It is to the solution of this basic problem of mankind that the greater part of all our energy and resources should be directed...."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Italy, November 19, 1974)


415. Baha'is Have the Divinely-Given Remedy for the Ills of Mankind

"...There are mighty agencies in this world, governments, foundations, institutions of many kinds with tremendous financial resources which are working to [123] improve the material lot of human beings. Anything we Baha'is could add to such resources in the way of special funds or contributions would be a negligible drop in the ocean. However, alone among men we have the divinely-given remedy for the real ills of mankind; no one else is doing or can do this most important work, and if we divert our energy and our funds into fields in which others are already doing more than we can hope to do, we shall be delaying the diffusion of the Divine Message which is the most important task of all.


"Because of such an attitude, as also because of our refusal to become involved in politics, Baha'is are often accused of holding aloof from the 'real problems' of their fellow-men. But when we hear this accusation let us not forget that those who make it are usually idealistic materialists to whom material good is the only 'real' good, whereas we know that the working of the material world is merely a reflection of spiritual conditions and until the spiritual conditions can be changed there can be no lasting change for the better in material affairs.


"We should also remember that most people have no clear concept of the sort of world they wish to build, nor how to go about building it. Even those who are concerned to improve conditions are therefore reduced to combatting every apparent evil that takes their attention. Willingness to fight against evils, whether in the form of conditions or embodied in evil men, has thus become for most people the touchstone by which they judge a person's moral worth. Baha'is, on the other hand, know the goal they are working towards and know what they must do, step by step, to attain it. Their whole energy is directed towards the building of the good, a good which has such a positive strength that in the face of it the multitude of evils—which are in essence negative—will fade away and be no more. To enter into the quixotic tournament of demolishing one by one the evils in the world is, to a Baha'i, a vain waste of time and effort. His whole life is directed towards proclaiming the Message of Baha'u'llah, reviving the spiritual life of his fellow-men, uniting them in a divinely-created World Order, and then, as that Order grows in strength and influence, he will see the power of that Message transforming the whole of human society and progressively solving the problems and removing the injustices which have so long bedevilled the world."

(Ibid.)


416. When a Baha'i Finds It Essential to Seek the Help of Others

"When a Baha'i finds it essential to seek the help of others, and after his own efforts and those of his family and close friends have proved inadequate, he may certainly turn to his Local Spiritual Assembly, which will consult on his problem, extend a helping hand to him, if the conditions of the Local Fund permit, and even more importantly, will counsel and advise him on what opportunities are open to him, and what steps he might take to seek a solution to his problem. If the Local Assembly feels that the help or guidance of the National Assembly should be sought, it will no doubt refer the matter to the National Assembly."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, September 1, 1980: Giving to the Poor, A Compilation of the Universal House of Justice)


417. Local Spiritual Assembly Should Extend Helping Hand to the Poor

"They (Local Spiritual Assemblies) must do their utmost to extend at all times the helping hand to the poor, the sick, the disabled, the orphan, the widow, irrespective of colour, caste and creed.


[124] "They must promote by every means in their power the material as well as the spiritual enlightenment of youth, the means for the education of children, institute, whenever possible, Baha'i educational institutions, organize and supervise their work and provide the best means for their progress and development."

(Shoghi Effendi: Baha'i Administration, p. 38)


418. How a Baha'i May Help His Fellow-Believer Through the Institutions

"In our dealings with the believers, however, apart from the need to give priority to the needs of the Faith, one has to bear in mind, as you point out in your letter, such considerations as wisdom as well as the importance of avoiding actions that may jeopardize our cordial relationships with the believers. If the individual believer is unable personally and prayerfully to resolve such a problem, he should, as each case may indicate, either himself refer to the Spiritual Assembly for guidance, or refer the believers to that institution. A Baha'i who wishes to help his needy fellow-believer may do so by extending his assistance either personally, or impersonally through the Spiritual Assembly if he feels that this method will provide the means to objectively assess the real needs involved, or will maintain and preserve better relations between him and the believer concerned.


"This is just one more reason why we should endeavour to support, strengthen the foundations, and foster the development of Local Spiritual Assemblies so that they may become rallying points of the friends and the true shepherds of the divine flock."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, April 9, 1973)



C. The Poor


419. Those Possessed of Riches Must Have the Utmost Regard for the Poor

"They who are possessed of riches, however, must have the utmost regard for the poor, for great is the honor destined by God for those poor who are steadfast in patience. By My Life! There is no honor, except what God may please to bestow, that can compare to this honor. Great is the blessedness awaiting the poor that endure patiently and conceal their sufferings, and well is it with the rich who bestow their riches on the needy and prefer them before themselves.


"Please God, the poor may exert themselves and strive to earn the means of livelihood. This is a duty which, in this most great Revelation, hath been prescribed unto every one, and is accounted in the sight of God as a goodly deed. Whoso observeth this duty, the help of the invisible One shall most certainly aid him. He can enrich, through His grace, whomsoever He pleaseth. He, verily, hath power over all things...."

(Baha'u'llah: Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah, pp. 202-203)


420. The Greatest Gift We Can Give to the Poor

"Regarding your question concerning helping the poor: The Baha'is should not go so far as to refrain from extending charity to the needy, if they are able and willing to do so. However, in this, as in many other things, they should exert moderation. The greatest gift that we can give to the poor and the down-trodden [125] is to aid to build up the divine institutions inaugurated in this day by Baha'u'llah as these institutions, and this World Order when established, will eliminate the causes of poverty and the injustices which afflict the poor. We should, therefore, do both, support our Baha'i Fund, and also be kind and generous to the needy."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, March 11, 1942)


421. Do Not Grieve for Being Poor—Some Great Souls Were of the Poorest in the World

"Do not grieve, dear brother, for being poor, for you are rich instead in faith and in spirit. This is a divine wealth for which the richest of the world will crave for in vain. True we must work hard, earn money and keep our family in happiness and prosperity, but we must always realize that our lives must be devoted to things higher and more sublime. We must remember what great souls, whose lives still inspire hundreds and thousands, were of the poorest in the world."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, May 18, 1927)



VI. CALAMITIES AND CRISES


[126] 422. The World is in Travail

"The world is in travail and its agitation waxeth day by day. Its face is turned toward waywardness and unbelief. Such shall be its plight that to disclose it now would not be meet and seemly. Its perversity will long continue. And when the appointed hour is come, there shall suddenly appear that which shall cause the limbs of mankind to quake. Then, and only then, will the Divine Standard be unfurled, and the Nightingale of Paradise warble its melody."

(Baha'u'llah: Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah, Wilmette, 1983, p. 118)


423. Powerful Forces Are Operating to Bring to a Climax this Portentous Century

"...Both within and without the Cause of God, powerful forces are operating to bring to a climax the twin tendencies of this portentous century. Among the many evidences which reveal this process may be cited, on the one hand, the continual increase of lawlessness, terrorism, economic confusion, immorality and the growing danger from the proliferation of weapons of destruction, and on the other, the world-wide, divinely propelled expansion, consolidation and rapid emergence into the limelight of world affairs of the Cause itself, a process crowned by the wonderful efflorescence of Mount Carmel, the mountain of God, whose Divine springtime is now so magnificently burgeoning."

(From a message of the Universal House of Justice to the Baha'is of the world, Ridvan 1983)


424. The People of Baha Are Assured of Divine Guidance

"...the Pen of the Centre of the Covenant has repeatedly prophesied the intolerable calamities which must beset this wayward humanity ere it heeds the life-giving Teachings of Baha'u'llah.


'Chaos and confusion are daily increasing in the world. They will attain such intensity as to render the frame of mankind unable to bear them. Then will men be awakened and become aware that religion is the impregnable stronghold and the manifest light of the world, and its laws, exhortations and teachings the source of life on earth.'


"Every discerning eye clearly sees that the early stages of this chaos have daily manifestations affecting the structure of human society; its destructive forces are uprooting time-honoured institutions which were a haven and refuge for the inhabitants of the earth in bygone days and centuries, and around which revolved all human affairs. The same destructive forces are also deranging the political, economic, scientific, literary, and moral equilibrium of the world and are destroying the fairest fruits of the present civilization. Political machinations of those in authority have placed the seal of obsolescence upon the root-principles of the world's order. Greed and passion, deceit, hypocrisy, tyranny, and pride are dominating features afflicting human relations. Discoveries and inventions, which are the fruit of scientific and [127] technological advancements, have become the means and tools of mass extermination and destruction and are in the hands of the ungodly. Even music, art, and literature, which are to represent and inspire the noblest sentiments and highest aspirations and should be a source of comfort and tranquility for troubled souls, have strayed from the straight path and are now the mirrors of the soiled hearts of this confused, unprincipled and disordered age. Perversions such as these shall result in the ordeals which have been prophesied by the Blessed Beauty in the following words: 'Every day a new calamity will seize the earth and a fresh tormenting trial will appear'. 'The day is approaching when its (civilization's) flame will devour the cities.'


"In such an afflicted time, when mankind is bewildered and the wisest of men are perplexed as to the remedy, the people of Baha, who have confidence in His unfailing grace and divine guidance, are assured that each of these tormenting trials has a cause, a purpose, and a definite result, and all are essential instruments for the establishment of the immutable Will of God on earth. In other words, on the one hand humanity is struck by the scourge of His chastisement which will inevitably bring together the scattered and vanquished tribes of the earth; and on the other, the weak few whom He has nurtured under the protection of His loving guidance are, in this formative age and period of transition, continuing to build amidst these tumultuous waves an impregnable stronghold which will be the sole remaining refuge for those lost multitudes. Therefore, the dear friends of God who have such a broad and clear vision before them are not perturbed by such events, nor are they panic-stricken by such thundering sounds, nor will they face such convulsions with fear and trepidation, nor will they be deterred, even for a moment, from fulfilling their sacred responsibilities.


"One of their sacred responsibilities is to exemplify in their lives those attributes which are acceptable at His Sacred Threshold."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the Iranian believers resident in various countries throughout the world, February 10, 1980)


425. If Baha'is Fail They Are Partly Responsible for Agony of Mankind

"There is so much suffering, such a great and desperate need for a true remedy and the Baha'is should realize their sacred obligation is to deliver the Message to their fellowmen at once, and on as large a scale as possible. If they fail to do so, they are really partly responsible for prolonging the agony of humanity."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, December 18, 1943)


426. The World Will Experience Travails and Testing as Never Before

"We are instructed to say that although there is every reason to expect that the world will experience travails and testing as never before, we do not know what form these upheavals will take, when exactly they will come, how severe they will be, nor how long they will last. The Faith itself as it emerges from obscurity will suffer severe trials. Sensitive souls such as yourself are particularly aware of these impending developments. However, Baha'u'llah has given us the Administrative Order which is the channel through which the spirit and guidance flow to the Baha'is and to mankind. The beloved Guardian spent his entire lifetime unfolding and explaining the pattern, and it is this administrative machinery that we should seek to support [128] and strengthen. As weak and fragile as it is in these formative years of the Faith, it is still the haven and protection of the Baha'is and of the world. You are therefore encouraged to expend your energies and your many-faceted talents in teaching and consolidating the Baha'i communities under the direction of the National Spiritual Assembly and its agencies."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, March 19, 1981)


427. Calamities Will Continue Until Mankind is Chastened Sufficiently...

"You make reference to calamities and request specific answers if there are any as to when they may occur and with what magnitude. The House of Justice noted your comments that you have read what Baha'u'llah had to say about the collapse of the old world order and the coming of the new, and that in recent times friends returning from their pilgrimages spoke of meetings with Hands of the Cause and members of the House of Justice in which the coming of great world upheavals was related to a time 'around the end of the Five Year Plan and afterwards'. The House of Justice points out that calamities have been and are occurring and will continue to happen until mankind has been chastened sufficiently to accept the Manifestation for this day. 'Abdu'l-Baha anticipated that the Lesser Peace could be established before the end of the twentieth century. However, Baha'is should not be diverted from the work of the Cause by the fear of catastrophes but should try to understand why they occur. The beloved Guardian, in innumerable places, has explained the reasons for these occurrences, and since they happen from time to time as explained above we should not be concerned as to when they occur."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, April 15, 1976)


428. Baha'is Should Not Waste Time Speculating on the Coming Calamity

"The House of Justice points out that Baha'u'llah in no uncertain terms has said: 'O ye peoples of the world! Know, verily, that an unforeseen calamity followeth you, and grievous retribution awaiteth you. Think not that which ye have committed hath been effaced in My sight.' Therefore it considers that it would be fruitless to attempt to foresee the time or the nature of a calamity which Baha'u'llah Himself said was 'unforeseen'. No doubt the remarkable progress being made in scientific endeavour holds true in the study by experts of geological upheavals. But we cannot be certain that predictions of earthquakes, volcanic eruptions or tidal waves caused by such phenomena can be identified as the cataclysmic events to which Baha'u'llah refers.


"In letters to other believers who have asked questions similar to yours, the House of Justice has emphasized that the friends should not waste their time and energies in fruitless speculations on this question. Rather, they should concentrate every ounce of energy on the winning of the goals of the Five Year Plan, which they have clearly before them, confident in the knowledge that whatever may happen in the world, however calamitous it may outwardly appear, will promote God's unalterable purpose for the unification of mankind."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, June 20, 1976)


[129] 429. It is Important that Baha'is Have Correct Attitude Regarding Pending Catastrophe

"The important aspect for the Baha'is is that their attitude and actions and response to the pending catastrophe be correct. We all know that the Cause of Baha'u'llah is the world's only salvation, and that our duty is to actively teach receptive souls, and to do our utmost to help in the consolidation of the institutions of the Faith. Only in this way can we contribute our share of servitude at His Threshold, and we should then leave the rest to Him."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, November 18, 1980)


430. Should Baha'is Be Cut Off from World Centre or from One Another, They Will Be Guided by Spiritual Assemblies, Led by Counsellors, Auxiliary Board Members

"Every institution of this divinely created Order is one more refuge for a distraught populace; every soul illumined by the light of the sacred Message is one more

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the Baha'is of the world, November 3, 1980)


431. Baha'is Can Help to Mitigate Suffering of Mankind

"No doubt to the degree we Baha'is the world over—strive to spread the Cause and live up to its teachings, there will be some mitigation to the suffering of the peoples of the world. But it seems apparent that the great failure to respond to Baha'u'llah's instructions, appeals and warnings issued in the 19th Century, has now sent the world along a path, and released forces, which must culminate in a still more violent upheaval and agony. The thing is out of hand, so to speak, and it is too late to avert catastrophic trials."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, January 8, 1949)


432. The People of Today Are Suffering for Their Own Sins of Omission and Commission

"You should not consider yourself unfeeling because you see in this world agony the birth of a new and better world. This is just what the Baha'is should believe and should teach to others. However much pity and sympathy we may have for humanity, we nevertheless realize that people today are suffering for their own sins of omission and commission. We must help them to see this and to turn their thoughts and acts into the channels divinely prescribed by Baha'u'llah."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, July 14, 1943)


433. We Must Put the Faith First for Our Eternal Security and Happiness

"We do not know what form the immediate future will take, anywhere. Because the passions of mankind are so unregenerate, and it is so deaf to the voice of Baha'u'llah, no doubt great suffering will be experienced. What we do know, however, is that [130] we are Baha'is and that our salvation lies in this God-sent Faith. As we give to God, as we serve Him and love Him, so will He vouchsafe to us His mercy, guidance and protection. We must, at all times, put the Faith first and our personal desires and comfort second. Having this Faith we have eternal security and happiness which nothing can take away from us ever, no matter what afflictions may befall a faithless world. The Cause of God is our security, and confidence in Baha'u'llah our protection."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, November 5, 1949)


434. We Do Not Know How Far-Reaching the Catastrophe Will Be

"Shoghi Effendi has never stated how far-reaching the effects of a future war will be, or what other catastrophes may accompany it or follow it. From our teachings we know humanity can and must be welded into some form of political unity—such as a World Federal State—through suffering as it seems only intense suffering is capable of rousing men to the spiritual efforts required. It seems clear to any thinking person that war will be the main cause of this degree of suffering."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, September 5, 1954)


435. The Unification of Mankind

"...Whatever our shortcomings may be, and however formidable the forces of darkness which besiege us to-day, the unification of mankind as outlined and insured by the World Order of Baha'u'llah will in the fullness of time be firmly and permanently established. This is Baha'u'llah's promise, and no power on earth can in the long run prevent or even retard its adequate realization. The friends should, therefore, not lose hope, but fully conscious of their power and their role they should persevere in their mighty efforts for the extension and the consolidation of Baha'u'llah's universal dominion on earth."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, November 6, 1933)


436. The Crisis is Serving a Great Purpose

"The crisis that exists in the world is not confined to the farmers. Its effects have reached every means of livelihood. The farmers are in a sense better off because they at least have food to eat. But on the whole the crisis is serving a great purpose. It is broadening the outlook of man, teaching him to think internationally, forcing him to take into consideration the welfare of his neighbours if he wishes to improve his own condition. In short it is forcing humanity to appreciate the significance and follow the precepts laid by Baha'u'llah. The present and perhaps the near future is dark, but we have the wonderful promises of the Master before us and they shall all become true...."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, February 3, 1932)


437. The Guardian Does Not Think that God Will Permit Man to Annihilate Himself...

"In regard to your questions: The degree of rapidity with which human beings are to advance certainly depends on their own efforts; but he does not think God will permit man to annihilate himself. Too much evolution is behind him and too much before him for that! We should certainly not procrastinate for a moment. For almost a hundred years now the warnings of Baha'u'llah have been ringing in men's ears, and we have every reason to believe terrible things may still befall mankind, if they [131] do not listen to the divine solution proposed by God's Manifestation for this day. In this connection he is constantly pointing out to the Baha'is that their direct Baha'i work—teaching, perfecting the administration, propagating the Cause of God is their job and of immediate importance because, it is, so to speak, spiritually organic. What they are doing will release forces which will combat the terrible disintegration of society which we witness today in every field, political, economic or otherwise...."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, July 5, 1947)


438. Hardship and Privation, Frustration and Despair Shall Encompass the People...

"Know thou that hardship and privation shall increase day by day, and the people shall thereby be afflicted. The doors of joy and happiness shall be closed on all sides, and terrible wars shall occur. Frustration and despair shall encompass the people until they are forced to turn to the One True God. Then will the light of most joyful tidings so illumine the horizons that the cry of 'Ya Baha'u'l-Abha' will be raised from every direction. This shall come to pass."

('Abdu'l-Baha: from a Tablet to Isabella D. Brittingham, Baha'u'llah and the New Era, p. 248, Wilmette 1980, corrected in a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to all National Spiritual Assemblies, January 16, 1984)


439. Apocalyptic Upheaval

"He advises you to go ahead and plan your college education. We have no indication of exactly what nature the apocalyptic upheaval will be: it might be another war ... but as students of our Baha'i writings it is clear that the longer the 'Divine Physician' (i.e., Baha'u'llah) is withheld from healing the ills of the world, the more severe will be the crises, and the more terrible the sufferings of the patient."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, November 21, 1949)


440. World Condition Bringing Many Issues to a Head

"...the condition that the world is in is bringing many issues to a head. It would be perhaps impossible to find a nation or people not in a state of crisis today. The materialism, the lack of true religion and the consequent baser forces in human nature which are being released, have brought the whole world to the brink of probably the greatest crisis it has ever faced or will have to face. The Baha'is are a part of the world. They too feel the great pressures which are brought to bear upon all people today, whoever and wherever they may be. On the other hand, the Divine Plan, which is the direct method of working toward the establishment of peace and World Order, has perforce reached an important and challenging point in its unfoldment; because of the desperate needs of the world, the Baha'is find themselves, even though so limited in numbers, in financial strength and in prestige, called upon to fulfill a great responsibility."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, July 19, 1956: Baha'i News, No. 307, September 1956, pp. 1-2)


441. Calamities and Crises

"As humanity plunges deeper into that condition of which Baha'u'llah wrote, 'to [132] disclose it now would not be meet and seemly', so must the believers increasingly stand out as assured, oriented, and fundamentally happy beings, conforming to a standard which, in direct contrast to the ignoble and amoral attitudes of modern society, is the source of their honour, strength, and maturity. It is this marked contrast between the vigour, unity, and discipline of the Baha'i community on the one hand, and the increasing confusion, despair, and feverish tempo of a doomed society on the other, which, during the turbulent years ahead, will draw the eyes of humanity to the sanctuary of Baha'u'llah's world-redeeming Faith."

(From a message of the Universal House of Justice to the Baha'is of the World, Ridvan 1966: Wellspring of Guidance, pp. 79-80)


442. Internal Disintegration and External Chaos Being Accelerated

"...Pregnant indeed are the years looming ahead of us all. The twin processes of internal disintegration and external chaos are being accelerated and every day are inexorably moving towards a climax. The rumblings that must precede the eruption of those forces that must cause 'the limbs of humanity to quake' can already be heard. 'The time of the end', 'the latter years', as foretold in the Scriptures, are at long last upon us. The Pen of Baha'u'llah, the voice of 'Abdu'l-Baha, have time and again, insistently and in terms unmistakable, warned an unheeding humanity of impending disaster. The Community of the Most Great Name, the leaven that must leaven the lump, the chosen remnant that must survive the rolling up of the old, discredited, tottering order, and assist in the unfoldment of a new one in its stead, is standing ready, alert, clear-visioned, and resolute..."

(From a letter of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, July 5, 1938: Messages to America, 1932-1946, pp. 13-14)


443. Worsening World Situation—Many Stand Aside and Wring Their Hands

"In the worsening world situation, fraught with pain of war, violence and the sudden uprooting of long-established institutions, can be seen the fulfillment of the prophecies of Baha'u'llah and the oft-repeated warnings of the Master and the beloved Guardian about the inevitable fate of a lamentably defective social system, an unenlightened leadership and a rebellious and unbelieving humanity. Governments and peoples of both the developed and developing nations, and other human institutions, secular and religious, finding themselves helpless to reverse the trend of the catastrophic events of the day, stand bewildered and overpowered by the magnitude and complexity of the problems facing them. At this fateful hour in human history many, unfortunately, seem content to stand aside and wring their hands in despair or else join in the babel of shouting and protestation which loudly objects, but offers no solution to the woes and afflictions plaguing our age.


"Nevertheless a greater and greater number of thoughtful and fair-minded men and women are recognizing in the clamour of contention, grief and destruction, now reaching such horrendous proportions, the evidences of Divine chastisement, and, turning their faces towards God, are becoming increasingly receptive to His Word. Doubtless the present circumstances, though tragic and awful in their [133] immediate consequences, are serving to sharpen the focus on the indispensability of the Teachings of Baha'u'llah to the needs of the present age, and will provide many opportunities to reach countless waiting souls, hungry and thirsty for Divine guidance."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the Baha'is of the World, November 16, 1969: Messages from the Universal House of Justice, pp. 33-34)


444. A Yawning Gulf Threatens

"...Every system, short of the unification of the human race, has been tried, repeatedly tried, and been found wanting. Wars again and again have been fought, and conferences without number have met and deliberated. Treaties, pacts and covenants have been painstakingly negotiated, concluded and revised. Systems of government have been patiently tested, have been continually recast and superseded. Economic plans of reconstruction have been carefully devised, and meticulously executed. And yet crisis has succeeded crisis, and the rapidity with which a perilously unstable world is declining has been correspondingly accelerated. A yawning gulf threatens to involve in one common disaster both the satisfied and dissatisfied nations, democracies and dictatorships, capitalists and wage-earners, Europeans and Asiatics, Jew and Gentile, white and coloured. An angry Providence, the cynic might well observe, has abandoned a hapless planet to its fate, and fixed irrevocably its doom. Sore-tried and disillusioned, humanity has no doubt lost its orientation, and would seem to have lost as well its faith and hope. It is hovering, unshepherded and visionless, on the brink of disaster. A sense of fatality seems to pervade it. An ever-deepening gloom is settling on its fortunes as she recedes further and further from the outer fringes of the darkest zone of its agitated life and penetrates its very heart."

(Shoghi Effendi: The World Order of Baha'u'llah, p. 190)


445. Forces of a World Catastrophe—The Fire of Ordeal

"...That the forces of a world catastrophe can alone precipitate such a new phase of human thought is, alas, becoming increasingly apparent. That nothing short of the fire of a severe ordeal, unparalleled in its intensity, can fuse and weld the discordant entities that constitute the elements of present-day civilization, into the integral components of the world commonwealth of the future, is a truth which future events will increasingly demonstrate.


"...Nothing but a fiery ordeal, out of which humanity will emerge, chastened and prepared, can succeed in implanting that sense of responsibility which the leaders of a newborn age must arise to shoulder."

(Ibid., p. 46)


446. When Crisis Sweeps Over the World, Baha'is Should Not Let Hardships Weaken Their Hope in the Future

"...When such a crisis sweeps over the world no person should hope to remain intact. We belong to an organic unit and when one part of the organism suffers all the rest of the body will feel its consequence. This is in fact the reason why Baha'u'llah calls our attention to the unity of mankind. But as Baha'is we should not let such hardship weaken our hope in the future...."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to a Baha'i family, April 14, 1932)


[134] 447. Stage of Purgation is Indispensable—Baha'is Should Not Hope to Remain Unaffected

"...You seem to complain about the calamities that have befallen humanity. In the spiritual development of man a stage of purgation is indispensable, for it is while passing through it that the over-rated material needs are made to appear in their proper light. Unless society learns to attribute more importance to spiritual matters, it would never be fit to enter the golden era foretold by Baha'u'llah. The present calamities are parts of this process of purgation, through them alone will man learn his lesson. They are to teach the nations, that they have to view things internationally, they are to make the individual attribute more importance to his moral than his material welfare.


"In such a process of purgation, when all humanity is in the throes of dire suffering, the Baha'is should not hope to remain unaffected. Should we consider the beam that is in our own eye, we would immediately find that these sufferings are also meant for ourselves, who claimed to have attained. Such world crisis is necessary to awaken us to the importance of our duty and the carrying on of our task. Suffering will increase our energy in setting before humanity the road to salvation, it will move us from our repose for we are far from doing our best in teaching the Cause and conveying the Message with which we have been entrusted...."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer in reply to a letter dated October 14, 1931: Baha'i News, No. 58, January 1932, p. 1)


448. Dangers Facing America

"He has been told that some of the friends are disturbed over reports brought back by the pilgrims concerning the dangers facing America in the future whenever another world conflagration breaks out.


"He does not feel that the Baha'is should waste time dwelling on the dark side of things. Any intelligent person can understand from the experiences of the last world war, and keeping abreast of what modern science has developed in the way of weapons for any future war, that big cities all over the world are going to be in tremendous danger. This is what the Guardian has said to the pilgrims.


"Entirely aside from this, he has urged the Baha'is, for the sake of serving the Faith, to go out from these centers of intense materialism, where life nowadays is so hurried and grinding and, dispersing to towns and villages, carry the Message far and wide throughout the cities of the American Union. He strongly believes that the field outside the big cities is more fertile, that the Baha'is in the end will be happier for having made this move, and that, in case of an outbreak of war, it stands to reason they will be safer, just the way any other person living in the country, or away from the big industrial areas, is safer.


"It is remarks such as these that the pilgrims have carried back in their notes. He sees no cause for alarm, but he certainly believes that the Baha'is should weigh these thoughts, and take action for the sake of spreading the Faith of Baha'u'llah, and for their own ultimate happiness as well. Indeed the two things go together."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, June 20, 1954: Baha'i News, No. 283, September 1954, p. 2)


449. Man's Outlook on Life Too Crude and Materialistic

"Indeed, the chief reason for the evils now rampant in society is the lack of [135] spirituality. The materialistic civilization of our age has so much absorbed the energy and interest of mankind that people in general do no longer feel the necessity of raising themselves above the forces and conditions of their daily material existence. There is not sufficient demand for things that we should call spiritual to differentiate them from the needs and requirements of our physical existence.


"The universal crisis affecting mankind is, therefore, essentially spiritual in its causes. The spirit of the age, taken on the whole, is irreligious. Man's outlook on life is too crude and materialistic to enable him to elevate himself into the higher realms of the spirit.


"It is this condition, so sadly morbid, into which society has fallen, that religion seeks to improve and transform...."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, December 8, 1935)


450. Mental Tests to be Suffered by Believers in the West

"And yet, how often we seem to forget the clear and repeated warnings of our beloved Master, who in particular during the concluding years of His mission on earth, laid stress on the severe mental tests that would inevitably sweep over His loved ones of the West ... tests that would purge, purify and prepare them for their noble mission in life.


"Ours then is the duty and privilege to labour, by day, by night, amidst the storm and stress of these troublous days, that we may quicken the zeal of our fellow-man, rekindle their hopes, stimulate their interests, open their eyes to the true Faith of God and enlist their active support in the carrying out of our common task for the peace and regeneration of the world."

(From a letter written by Shoghi Effendi to the believers in Australia and New Zealand, December 2, 1923: Letters from the Guardian to Australia and New Zealand, 1923-1957, pp. 1-2)


451. A Civilization Torn by Strife

"In the midst of a civilization torn by strifes and enfeebled by materialism, the people of Baha are building a new world. We face at this time opportunities and responsibilities of vast magnitude and great urgency. Let each believer in his inmost heart resolve not to be seduced by the ephemeral allurements of the society around him, nor to be drawn into its feuds and short-lived enthusiasms, but instead to transfer all he can from the old world to that new one which is the vision of his longing and will be the fruit of his labours."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the Baha'is of the East and West, December 18, 1963)


452. Fierce and Manifold Will Be Assaults Faith to Suffer

"...The generality of mankind, blind and enslaved, is wholly unaware of the healing power with which this community has been endowed, nor can it as yet suspect the role which this same community is destined to play in its redemption. Fierce and manifold will be the assaults with which governments, races, classes and religions, jealous of its rising prestige and fearful of its consolidating strength, will seek to silence its voice and sap its foundations. Unmoved by the relative obscurity that surrounds it at the present time, and undaunted by the forces that will be arrayed against it in the future, this community, I cannot but feel confident, will, no matter how afflictive the agonies of a travailing age, pursue its destiny, undeflected in [136] its course, undimmed in its serenity, unyielding in its resolve, unshaken in its convictions."

(Shoghi Effendi: Messages to America, p. 14)


453. Our Duty to Redeem Fellow Men

"...It is our duty to redeem as many of our fellow men as we possibly can, whose hearts are enlightened, before some great catastrophe overtakes them, in which they will either be hopelessly swallowed up or come out purified and strengthened, and ready to serve. The more believers there are to stand forth as beacons in the darkness whenever that time does come, the better; hence the supreme importance of the teaching work at this time...."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of South and West Africa, July 9, 1957: Teaching the Masses, p. 11)


454. Baha'is Are the Leaven of God, the Chosen People of God

"...The Baha'is are the leaven of God, which must leaven the lump of their nation. In direct ratio to their success will be the protection vouchsafed, not only to them but to their country. These are the immutable laws of God, from which there is no escape: 'For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required.'


"They cannot be the chosen people of God,—the ones who have received the bounty of accepting Him in His Day, the recipients of the Master's Divine Plan—and do nothing about it. The obligation to teach is the obligation of every Baha'i, and particularly, the obligations of the American Baha'is towards humanity are great and inescapable. To the degree to which they discharge them will they be blessed and protected, happy and satisfied."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, September 21, 1957: Baha'i News, November 1957)


455. Eyes of the World Focussed on Us

"...The eyes of the people of the world are beginning to be focussed on us, and as humanity's plight goes from bad to worse, we will be watched ever more intently by non-Baha'is, to see whether we do uphold our own institutions wholeheartedly; whether we are the people of the new creation or not; whether we live up to our beliefs, principles and laws in deed as well as word. We cannot be too careful. We cannot be too exemplary."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of the British Isles, August 5, 1955: Canadian Baha'i News, Special Section, March 1973, p. 6)


456. Baha'is Have Task of Cleansing Humanity by Precept and Example

"In many letters and on many occasions the beloved Guardian warned that the disintegrating process will penetrate deeper and deeper into the very core of human society and that much suffering is in store ere mankind is fused by the fires of universal affliction into one organic commonwealth. Even when universal suffrage and all other rights presently sought by civil rights movements are fully attained, there still remains for the Baha'is the unaccomplished task of cleansing humanity, by precept and example, of every trace of racial prejudice. Nothing but the Faith of God can accomplish this."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, March 30, 1965: United States Supplement to Baha'i News, No. 90, August 1965, p. 2)


[137] 457. Chosen Ones of God Should Not Be Content with Relative Distinction and Excellence

"The chosen ones of God ... should not look at the depraved conditions of the society in which they live, nor at the evidences of moral degradation and frivolous conduct which the people around them display. They should not content themselves merely with relative distinction and excellence. Rather they should fix their gaze upon nobler heights by setting the counsels and exhortations of the Pen of Glory as their supreme goal. Then it will be readily realized how numerous are the stages that still remain to be traversed and how far off the desired goal lies—a goal which is none other than exemplifying heavenly morals and virtues."

(From a letter of Shoghi Effendi to the Local Spiritual Assembly of Tihran, October 30, 1924: Living the Life, p. 2)


458. Obstacles that Stand in the Path

"The gross materialism that engulfs the entire nation at the present hour; the attachment to worldly things that enshrouds the souls of men; the fear and anxieties that distract their minds; the pleasure and dissipations that fill their time, the prejudices and animosities that darken their outlook, the apathy and lethargy that paralyze their spiritual faculties—these are among the formidable obstacles that stand in the path of every would-be warrior in the service of Baha'u'llah, obstacles which he must battle against and surmount in his crusade for the redemption of his own countrymen."

(Shoghi Effendi: Citadel of Faith, p. 149)


459. Civilization Undergoing Severe and Unparalleled Tests

"Let us pray to God that in these days of world-encircling gloom, when the dark forces of nature, of hate, rebellion, anarchy and reaction are threatening the very stability of human society, when the most precious fruits of civilization are undergoing severe and unparalleled tests, we may all realize, more profoundly than ever, that though but a mere handful amidst the seething masses of the world, we are in this day the chosen instruments of God's grace, that our mission is most urgent and vital to the fate of humanity, and, fortified by these sentiments, arise to achieve God's holy purpose for mankind."

(Shoghi Effendi: Baha'i Administration, p. 35)



VII. CEREMONIES


[138] 460. Not Accurate to State that Baha'i Faith Has No Ceremonies

"It is not accurate to state that the Baha'i Faith has no ceremonies. The marriage ceremony and the funeral service are examples of such observances in our teachings.


"It would be correct, however, to state that the Faith has certain basic laws and simple rites prescribed by Baha'u'llah and that its teachings warn against developing these into a system of uniform and rigid rituals by introducing into them man-made forms and practices. Rituals in other religions usually consist of elaborate ceremonial practices, such as those of the Catholic Church in the celebration of the Mass and the administration of the sacraments, which are performed by a member of the clergy.


"In carrying out the basic laws of our Faith the friends should always maintain a standard of utmost simplicity and observe flexibility in all matters of detail."

(From a letter to the National Spiritual Assembly of Colombia from the Universal House of Justice, August 31, 1967)


461. Naming Ceremonies

"We have your letter of August 22, 1966 inquiring whether 'naming ceremonies' for children should be encouraged as a community activity. In a letter to an individual believer, dated December 20, 1938, the beloved Guardian said:


'Regarding your question whether there is any special ceremony which the believers should perform when they wish to 'name' a baby: The Teachings do not provide for any ceremony whatever on such occasions. We have no 'baptismal service' in the Cause, such as the Christians have. There could be no objection, however, for the friends to come together on such happy occasions, provided they do not hold an official public ceremony, and provided also they strictly avoid any uniformity and rigidity in all such practices...'


"We feel that this activity should be left to the discretion of the parents."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, September 7, 1966: American Baha'i, December 1970, p. 10)


462. Spiritual Baptism of Children

"Thou hast asked regarding the naming of children: When thou wishest to name a babe, prepare a meeting therefore; chant the verses and communes, and supplicate and implore the Threshold of Oneness and beg the attainment of guidance for the babe and wish confirmated firmness and constancy; then give the name and enjoy beverage and sweet-meat. This is spiritual baptism."

('Abdu'l-Baha: Tablets of 'Abdu'l-Baha, Vol. I, pp. 149-150)


463. Baptism of Child

"We have your letter of September 14th inquiring about the baptism of a child where [139] one of the partners to the marriage is a Christian and the other is a Baha'i.


"Obviously, if both parties are Baha'is they cannot baptize their child, however, in the case of a non-Baha'i spouse insisting upon the baptism of the children, we said in a letter to the National Assembly of Spain on 18 February 1965:


'The Baha'i parent may attend the ceremony with the understanding that he will not undertake any commitment or vow which is contrary to the principles of his Faith.'"

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, September 21, 1966)


464. Baha'is May and Should Participate in Harmless Cultural, Traditional Observances

"In deciding whether or not to participate in such traditional activities, the Baha'is must guard against two extremes. The one is to disassociate themselves needlessly from harmless cultural observances and thus alienate themselves from their non-Baha'i families and friends; the other is to continue the practice of abrogated observances of previous dispensations and thus undermine the independence of the Baha'i Faith and create undesirable distinctions between themselves and their fellow-Baha'is...."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Malaysia, May 26, 1982)


465. There Are Some Religious Ceremonies in which Baha'is Should Not Participate

"There are some exclusive religious ceremonies in which Baha'is should not participate, in order to safeguard the independence of the Faith. In this regard, the beloved Guardian has given the following advice to another National Assembly: 'In these days the friends should, as much as possible, demonstrate through their deeds the independence of the Holy Faith of God, and its freedom from the customs, rituals and practices of a discredited and abrogated past.' In observing this principle, the House of Justice advises the Baha'is to maintain a balance between their adherence to the Cause and obedience to its laws on the one hand, and their role in society on the other. When an individual becomes a Baha'i he acquires, as you are aware, a wider loyalty to the Manifestations of God. Having found this new way of life, he should be careful not to isolate himself from his family and his people, and he should show respect for his former religion. The Baha'is should, of course, avoid performing any acts which could be considered as implying their membership in another religion or which are contrary to Baha'i principles. There is a clear distinction between participating in festive and cultural events, as opposed to performing religious ceremonies and rituals.


"It should also be remembered that the weaning away of the Baha'is from customs and traditions, which have been established among communities for centuries, takes time and is a gradual process. Therefore, while the National Assembly should avoid rigidity in these matters, it should also not compromise when the interests of the Faith and its integrity and independence are at stake."

(Ibid.)


[140] 466. Baha'i Parent May Attend Baptismal Ceremony, but Cannot Make Any Commitment or Vow

"In reply to your letter of 5 September 1984 saying that a ... believer will soon marry a member of the Roman Catholic Church and asking whether it is permissible for their children to be baptized, the Universal House of Justice has instructed us to convey its guidance.


"Children of such a union may be baptized if the Christian parent so wishes; from the Baha'i point of view the baptism has no effect. It must be emphasized, however, that the Baha'i parent, while perfectly free to attend the baptismal ceremony, should not undertake any commitment or vow contrary to Baha'i law and should not surrender her parental right to impart the Baha'i teachings to her child."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Switzerland, September 20, 1984)



VIII. CHILDREN



A. Adopted Children and Orphans


[141] 467. "He that Bringeth Up His Son or the Son of Another..."

"...He that bringeth up his son or the son of another, it is as though he hath brought up a son of Mine; upon him rest My Glory, My loving-kindness, My Mercy, that have compassed the world."

(Baha'u'llah: The Kitab-i-Aqdas, K. 48, p. 37)


468. Baha'u'llah and 'Abdu'l-Baha Laud Those Who Adopt Children

"It was a pleasure to Shoghi Effendi to receive your letter of May 26th and to hear about your adopted children. This is a truly Baha'i act especially as it was often lauded both by Baha'u'llah and 'Abdu'l-Baha, and the Guardian trusts that they will grow to become Baha'i workers, and thus repay your kind generosity."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, June 20, 1931)


469. Adopted Child and Its Natural Parents*

"It is clear that the separation of a child from its natural parents is a tragedy that society must do its best to prevent or mitigate. It is also clear that in certain cases the actual separation may be better for the child than to continue living with a parent whose conduct and character make him unworthy of this sacred function, for the Guardian has explicitly stated that the severing of family ties and renunciation of responsibilities between parents and the children is, in certain cases, permissible under the law of God, but that the Universal House of Justice has to make the law governing such matters.


"Whenever the law of the land or the agreement of adoption prohibits future contact between an adopted child and its natural parents, the Baha'i law does not require the child to seek the consent of those parents to its marriage.


"In the situation, however, where contact with the natural parent is permitted, it should be a matter of wise discretion at what stage contact, in cases where it has been broken, should be re-established. Just as love for one person need not reduce the love one bears to another, so unity with the adoptive parents need not destroy or reduce the unity a child has with its natural parents, or vice versa. The characters and attitudes of the individuals concerned will have an effect upon this...."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, February 17, 1971)

___________________

*(See also: VIII. J. 1. Laws of Marriage, Parental Consent, 1231-1254)


470. A Baha'i Cannot Take Vow to Educate Adopted Child in Another Religion

"A Baha'i may not undertake a vow which commits him to any action contrary to the principles of the Faith. In other words, Mrs. ... cannot agree to rear a child in the Catholic Faith.


[142] "Furthermore, if it is necessary to go through the Catholic marriage ceremony for the sake of the adoption, Mrs. ... must make it clear to the church authorities that she is a Baha'i, intends to remain a Baha'i, and that she cannot undertake any vow which is contrary to the laws and principles of her Faith."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, November 26, 1964)


471. A Baha'i Who Swears to Rear His Children in Another Faith is Subject to Administrative Sanction

"...no Baha'i can conscientiously swear to bring up his children in another religion; and of course he has no right to lie; therefore it becomes impossible for him to make such a promise on his marriage to a non-Baha'i. Any Baha'i doing this should be deprived of his voting rights; and, as he has already made plain before, Baha'is who go to the church and are married as Christians must also of necessity be deprived of their voting rights."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the European Teaching Committee, May 13, 1956)


472. Duty Towards Orphans

"In this holy Cause the question of orphans hath the utmost importance. The greatest consideration must be shown towards orphans; they must be taught, trained and educated. The Teachings of Baha'u'llah, especially, must by all means be given to them as far as possible.


"I supplicate God that thou mayest become a kind parent to orphaned children, quickening them with the fragrances of the Holy Spirit, so that they will attain the age of maturity as true servants of the world of humanity and as bright candles in the assemblage of mankind."

('Abdu'l-Baha: Baha'i Education, p. 46)



B. Godparents or Co-Parenthood


473. Baha'is Serving as Godparents

"In answer to your letter of 28 September 1984 on the above subject, the Universal House of Justice has instructed us to send you the following guidelines.


"The position of 'godparent' varies considerably from country to country, and from one Christian denomination to another.


"In many cases it involves the godparent in participation in a religious service as a member of the church in question, and in assumption of the obligation to bring the child up in the teachings of that church. It is clearly impossible for a Baha'i to become a godparent in such circumstances. However, where individuals have undertaken vows as godparents prior to becoming Baha'is, the Faith does not require them to disavow their promise, but the new Baha'i should inform the parents of his change in religion so that they may make a change in godparents if they so desire.


"In some countries a godfather or godmother is regarded by most people simply as a good friend of the family who sends gifts to the child annually. If that were all, there would, of course, be no objection to a Baha'i's accepting [143] to be a godfather or godmother. However, even in such countries it is likely that, beyond assuming this responsibility, the godparent would have to take part in the baptismal ceremony of the infant and, although many nominal Christians may treat such matters very lightly, a Baha'i should be aware of the solemnity with which the church regards the rite and should not assume an undertaking which he cannot fulfil or do anything which would imply a denial of his faith."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Switzerland, November 4, 1984)


474. Baha'i Couple Should Not Have Their Child Baptized

"The House of Justice has noted your strong emphasis upon the social and economic aspects of co-parenthood in your country, and your mention of the religious basis for the custom. While the diminution of Christian fervor among the rank and file of Dominicans may be great, nevertheless the baptismal origin and other religious aspects of godparenthood cannot be minimized, particularly for rural people who may well be under pressure from parish priests. Your Assembly understands that a conscientious Baha'i couple must not have their children baptized, nor should Baha'is ordinarily participate as godparents in a baptismal ceremony for this also may seem to imply their affiliation with the church...."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Dominican Republic, February 17, 1980)


475. A Baha'i May Become Godparent of a Non-Baha'i Child if Conditions Are Clear

"You ask whether a Baha'i may 'become the godparent of the child of a non-Baha'i if he made it clear that he is a Baha'i, cannot promise to bring up the child in the Catholic religion, is not affiliated with the Church...'. He may do so, for in such a case all concerned are informed of his beliefs. If called for, an agreement may be drawn up, through the Local Assembly or a lawyer, which would define the social elements of the co-parental relationship while omitting the religious ones."

(Ibid.)


476. Those Who Took Vows as Godparents Prior to Becoming Baha'is

"You ask about those who have undertaken vows as godparents prior to becoming Baha'is. Trustworthiness is one of the great qualities which must characterize Baha'is, and the new believer therefore, far from repudiating any commitments entered into before becoming a Baha'i, must be ever more conscientious in discharging them. However there are certain actions which would violate Baha'i principles and from which the believer must abstain. Others would be incompatible with his allegiance to the Faith, such as the promise made by a godparent to bring up the godchild in the teachings of the Catholic church. In such a case the new believer could suggest to the parents that because of his new understanding of Christianity they would probably prefer to cancel that part of the agreement, at the same time explaining his willingness to continue to discharge the social and economic functions of the godparenthood. The whole matter should be dealt with in a gentle and conciliatory manner, in the hope of retaining the friendship and trust of all concerned."

(Ibid.)


[144] 477. Non-Baha'i Godparents of Baha'i Children

"In the case of non-Baha'is who are godparents of Baha'i children, the changed obligations of their roles may be quietly discussed with them by the Baha'i parents, who would point out that they may now wish to be freed of their commitments, and that in any case the religious aspects of the relationship are no longer in effect."

(Ibid.)


478. Two Baha'is May Enter into a Co-Parental Agreement

"You have asked about the possibility of two Baha'is entering into a co-parental agreement within the Faith, there is no objection to this."

(Ibid.)



C. Education and Training of Children


479. Must First Train Children in Principles of Religion

"...Schools must first train the children in the principles of religion, so that the Promise and the Threat recorded in the Books of God may prevent them from the things forbidden and adorn them with the mantle of the commandments; but this in such a measure that it may not injure the children by resulting in ignorant fanaticism and bigotry."

(Baha'u'llah: Tablets of Baha'u'llah, p. 68)


480. Encourage the Children from Early Childhood

"Encourage the children from their earliest years to master every kind of learning, and make them eager to become skilled in every art—the aim being that through the favouring grace of God, the heart of each one may become even as a mirror disclosing the secrets of the universe, penetrating the innermost reality of all things; and that each may earn worldwide fame in all branches of knowledge, science and the arts.

"Certainly, certainly neglect not the education of the children. Rear them to be possessed of spiritual qualities, and be assured of the gifts and favours of the Lord."

('Abdu'l-Baha: Baha'i Education, pp. 27-28)


481. Incumbent Upon Baha'i Children to Surpass Other Children

"It is incumbent upon Baha'i children to surpass other children in the acquisition of sciences and arts, for they have been cradled in the grace of God.


"Whatever other children learn in a year, let Baha'i children learn in a month. The heart of 'Abdu'l-Baha longeth, in its love, to find that Baha'i young people, each and all, are known throughout the world for their intellectual attainments. There is no question but that they will exert all their efforts, their energies, their sense of pride, to acquire the sciences and arts."

('Abdu'l-Baha: Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Baha, p. 141)


482. Parents Held Responsible to God for Education of Children

"It is for this reason that, in this new cycle, education and training are recorded [145] in the Book of God as obligatory and not voluntary. That is, it is enjoined upon the father and mother, as a duty, to strive with all effort to train the daughter and the son, to nurse them from the breast of knowledge and to rear them in the bosom of sciences and arts. Should they neglect this matter, they shall be held responsible and worthy of reproach in the presence of the stern Lord."

('Abdu'l-Baha: Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Baha, 1982, pp. 126-127)


483. Teachers of Children Serving Baha'u'llah

"...this teaching of the children is a service to the Blessed Perfection. Whosoever serves the world of humanity in this or any other way is serving His Holiness Baha'u'llah. Your heavenly reward is with Him. The education of children is one of the most great services. All these children are mine. If they are educated and illumined, it is as though my own children were so characterized..."

(Talk of 'Abdu'l-Baha in the Holy Land: Star of the West, Vol. XIII, No. 6, p. 172)


484. Failure to Educate Child is an Unpardonable Sin

"This is a sin unpardonable, for they have made that poor babe a wanderer in the Sahara of ignorance, unfortunate and tormented: to remain during a lifetime a captive of ignorance and pride, negligent and without discernment. Verily, if that babe depart from this world at the age of infancy, it is sweeter and better. In this sense, death is better than life; deprivation than salvation; non-existence lovelier than existence; the grave better than the palace; the narrow, dingy tomb better than the spacious, regal home; for in the sight of mankind that child is abased and degraded and in the sight of God weak and defective. In gatherings it is ashamed and humiliated and in the arena of examination subdued and defeated by young and old. What a mistake is this! What an everlasting humiliation!"

('Abdu'l-Baha: Tablets of 'Abdu'l-Baha, Vol. III, p. 579)


485. Child Left in Natural State Grows Up in Ignorance...

"If a child is left in its natural state and deprived of education, there is no doubt that it will grow up in ignorance and illiteracy, its mental faculties dulled and dimmed; in fact it will become like an animal..."

('Abdu'l-Baha: Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 311, 1982 ed.)


486. If Babe Did Not Live at All, Better Than to Grow Ignorant

"Therefore the beloved of God and maid-servant of the Merciful must train their children with life and heart and teach them in the school of virtue and perfection. They must not be lax in this matter; they must not be inefficient. Truly, if a babe did not live at all it were better than to let it grow ignorant, for that innocent babe, in later life, would become afflicted with innumerable defects, responsible to and questioned by God, reproached and rejected by the people. What a sin this would be and what an omission!

"Beware! Beware! that ye fail not in this matter. Endeavour with heart, with life, to train your children, especially the daughters. No excuse is acceptable in this matter."

('Abdu'l-Baha: Tablets of 'Abdu'l-Baha, Vol. III, p. 579)


[146] 487. Training in Morals and Good Conduct is Far More Important Than Book Learning

"Training in morals and good conduct is far more important than book learning. A child that is cleanly, agreeable, of good character, well-behaved—even though he be ignorant—is preferable to a child that is rude, unwashed, ill-natured, and yet becoming deeply versed in all the sciences and arts. The reason for this is that the child who conducts himself well, even though he be ignorant, is of benefit to others, while an ill-natured, ill-behaved child is corrupted and harmful to others, even though he be learned. If, however, the child be trained to be both learned and good, the result is light upon light."

('Abdu'l-Baha: Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Baha, pp. 135-136)


488. Pupil Must Be Encouraged*

"If a pupil is told that his intelligence is less than his fellow-pupils, it is a very great drawback and handicap to his progress. He must be encouraged to advance, by the statement, 'You are most capable and if you endeavour you will attain the highest degree.'"

('Abdu'l-Baha: Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 77)

___________________

*(See also: VIII. C. Education and Training of Children)


489. Station of Those Who Serve and Teach Children

"O thou teacher of the children of the Kingdom!


"Thou hast arisen to perform a service which would justly entitle thee to vaunt thyself over all the teachers on earth. For the teachers of this world make use of human education to develop the powers, whether spiritual or material, of humankind, whilst thou art training these young plants in the gardens of God according to the education of Heaven, and art giving them the lessons of the Kingdom.


"The result of this kind of teaching will be that it will attract the blessings of God, and make manifest the perfections of man.


"Hold thou fast to this kind of teaching, for the fruits of it will be very great. The children must, from their infancy, be raised to be spiritual and godly Baha'is. If such be their training, they will remain safe from every test."

('Abdu'l-Baha: Baha'i Education, p. 34)


490. Methods of Teaching Children

"Among these children many blessed souls will arise, if they be trained according to the Baha'i Teachings. If a plant is carefully nurtured by a gardener, it will become good, and produce better fruit. These children must be given a good training from their earliest childhood. They must be given a systematic training which will further their development from day to day, in order that they may receive greater insight, so that their spiritual receptivity be broadened. Beginning in childhood they must receive instruction. They cannot be taught through books. Many elementary sciences must be made clear to them in the nursery; they must learn them in play, in amusement. Most ideas must be taught them through speech, not by book learning. One child must question the other concerning these things, and the other child must give the answer. In this way, they will make great progress. For example, mathematical problems must also be taught in the form [147] of questions and answers. One of the children asks a question and the other must give the answer. Later on, the children will of their own accord speak with each other concerning these same subjects. The children who are at the head of the class must receive premiums. They must be encouraged and when any one of them shows good advancement, for the further development they must be praised and encouraged therein. Even so in godlike affairs. Oral questions must be asked and the answers must be given orally. They must discuss with each other in this manner."

(Talks of 'Abdu'l-Baha: The Baha'i World, Vol. IX, p. 543; Baha'i Education, p. 73)


491. A Wise Schoolmaster

"A wise schoolmaster should send his scholars out to play or to practice gymnastics for an hour, so that their minds and bodies may be refreshed, and during the hour of the lesson they may learn it better. If the teacher proves that his scholars are advancing, no on-looker has a right to object to his system, or to question his wisdom and say he wastes the boys' time. If a wise father plays with his children, who has a right to say it is not good for them? He calls them to come to him as the hen calls her chicks; he knows that they are little and must be coaxed along—coaxed along because they are young and tiny."

(Words of 'Abdu'l-Baha: Star of the West, Vol. IX, No. 8, p. 91)


492. Curriculum of Study: Must Follow Same Curriculum for Daughters and Sons

"He promulgated the adoption of the same course of education for man and woman. Daughters and sons must follow the same curriculum of study, thereby promoting unity of the sexes. When all mankind shall receive the same opportunity of education and the equality of men and women be realized, the foundations of war will be utterly destroyed. Without equality this will be impossible because all differences and distinction are conducive to discord and strife. Equality between men and women is conducive to the abolition of warfare for the reason that women will never be willing to sanction it. Mothers will not give their sons as sacrifices upon the battle-field after twenty years of anxiety and loving devotion in rearing them from infancy, no matter what cause they are called upon to defend. There is no doubt that when women obtain equality of rights war will entirely cease among mankind."

('Abdu'l-Baha: The Promulgation of Universal Peace, pp. 174-175)


493. Beginning of Formal Education

"...From the age of five their formal education must begin. That is, during the daytime they should be looked after in a place where there are teachers, and should learn good conduct.


"Here they should be taught, in play, some letters and words and a little reading—as is done in certain countries where they fashion letters and words out of sweets and give them to the child. For example, they make an 'a' out of candy and say its name is 'a', or make a candy 'b' and call it 'b', and so on with the rest of the alphabet, giving these to the young child. In this way children will soon learn their letters...


"When the children are ready for bed, let the mother read or sing them the Odes of the Blessed Beauty, so that from their earliest years they will be educated by these verses of guidance."

('Abdu'l-Baha: Baha'i Education, pp. 39-40)


[148] 494. Subjects to be Taught in Children's Classes

"The subjects to be taught in children's schools are many, and for lack of time We can touch on only a few: First and most important is training in behaviour and good character; the rectification of qualities; arousing the desire to become accomplished and acquire perfections, and to cleave unto the religion of God and stand firm in His Laws; to accord total obedience to every just government, to show forth loyalty and trustworthiness to the ruler of the time, to be well wishers of mankind, to be kind to all.


"And further, as well as in the ideals of character, instruction in such arts and sciences as are of benefit, and in foreign tongues. Also, the repeating of prayers for the well-being of ruler and ruled; and the avoidance of materialistic works that are current among those who see only natural causation, and tales of love, and books that arouse the passions.


"To sum up, let all the lessons be entirely devoted to the acquisition of human perfections."

('Abdu'l-Baha: from a Tablet published in The Baha'i World, Vol. XVI, p. 37)


495. Formal Education Must Begin at the Age of Five

"The Tablet of 'Abdu'l-Baha concerning the education of children refers particularly to their formal education which He says must begin at the age of five. The Master makes it clear that during the daytime children of that age and older should be looked after in a place where there are teachers. They should learn good conduct and be taught how to spell and to read and He indicates that spelling and reading can be learned by the use of simple games. Children of all ages can benefit from the guidance given to mothers by 'Abdu'l-Baha in which He advises that when the children are ready for bed their mothers should read or sing to them verses of Baha'u'llah so that from their earliest years the children will be educated by these words of the Blessed Beauty. The House of Justice adds that you should feel free to hold classes for children under the age of five provided you keep in mind that their attention span is relatively short and so the duration of their class periods should be measured accordingly."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the Spiritual Assembly of Newton, Kansas, March 24, 1976)


496. Nothing in Teachings States Child Must Not Be Separated from Parents for First Five Years

"There is nothing in the teachings specifically to state that a child must not be separated from its parents and its home for the first five years of its life. In a Tablet, however, 'Abdu'l-Baha points out that formal education at school begins when the child is five years old. Shoghi Effendi has indicated in one of his letters that the formulation of a system of education based on the teachings can only be gradually undertaken, and has to be accomplished by Baha'i scholars and educationalists of the future...."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, March 10, 1975)


497. Mother Has Chief Responsibility for Bringing Up Child

"The task of bringing up a Baha'i child, as emphasized time and again in Baha'i writings, is the chief responsibility of the mother, whose unique privilege is indeed to create in her home such conditions as would be most conducive to both his material [149] and spiritual welfare and advancement. The training which the child first receives through his mother constitutes the strongest foundation for his future development...."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer in India, November 16, 1939: Dawn of a New Day, p. 202)


498. Mothers Ordained Primary Trainers of Children and Infants

"...It is incumbent upon you to train the children from their earliest babyhood!... It is incumbent upon you to attend to them under all aspects and circumstances, inasmuch as God—glorified and exalted is He!—hath ordained mothers to be the primary trainers of children and infants. This is a great and important affair and a high and exalted position, and it is not allowable to slacken therein at all!"

('Abdu'l-Baha: Tablets of 'Abdu'l-Baha, Vol. III, p. 606)


499. Training of Children in Case One of Parents is Non-Baha'i

"The question of the training and education of children in case one of the parents is a non-Baha'i is one which solely concerns the parents themselves, who should decide about it the way they find best and most conducive to the maintenance of the unity of their family, and to the future welfare of their children. Once the child comes of age, however, he should be given full freedom to choose his religion, irrespective of the wishes and desires of his parents."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of India, December 14, 1940: Dawn of a New Day, p. 86)


500. Greatest of All Services Rendered by Man to Almighty God—Teach Children to Deliver Speeches of High Quality

"Among the greatest of all services that can possibly be rendered by man to Almighty God is the education and training of children...


"It is, however, very difficult to undertake this service, even harder to succeed in it. I hope that thou wilt acquit thyself well in this most important of tasks, and successfully carry the day, and become an ensign of God's abounding grace; that these children, reared one and all in the holy Teachings, will develop natures like unto the sweet airs that blow across the gardens of the All-Glorious, and will waft their fragrance around the world.


"Ye should consider the question of goodly character as of the first importance. It is incumbent upon every father and mother to counsel their children over a long period, and guide them unto those things which lead to everlasting honour.


"Encourage ye the school children, from their earliest years, to deliver speeches of high quality, so that in their leisure time they will engage in giving cogent and effective talks, expressing themselves with clarity and eloquence."

('Abdu'l-Baha: Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Baha, pp. 133-134)


501. Preferable that Child Should Receive First Training at Home Under Mother Instead of in the Nursery

"With reference to the question of the training of children: Given the emphasis placed by Baha'u'llah and 'Abdu'l-Baha on the necessity for the parents to train their children while still in their tender age, it would seem preferable that they should receive their first training at home at the hand of their mother, rather than be sent to a nursery. [150] Should circumstances, however, compel a Baha'i mother to adopt the latter course, there can be no objection."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, November 13, 1940)


502. Spiritual Assemblies Should Provide Mothers with Well-Planned Programme

"So long as the mother faileth to train her children, and start them on a proper way of life, the training which they receive later on will not take its full effect. It is incumbent upon the Spiritual Assemblies to provide the mothers with a well-planned programme for the education of children, showing how, from infancy, the child must be watched over and taught. These instructions must be given to every mother to serve her as a guide, so that each will train and nurture her children in accordance with the Teachings."

('Abdu'l-Baha: Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Baha, p. 138)


503. Difficult to Teach and Refine Character Once Puberty is Passed

"It is extremely difficult to teach the individual and refine his character once puberty is passed. By then, as experience hath shown, even if every effort be exerted to modify some tendency of his, it all availeth nothing. He may, perhaps, improve somewhat today; but let a few days pass and he forgetteth, and turneth backward to his habitual condition and accustomed ways. Therefore it is in early childhood that a firm foundation must be laid. While the branch is green and tender it can easily be made straight.


"Our meaning is that qualities of the spirit are the basic and divine foundation, and adorn the true essence of man; and knowledge is the cause of human progress. The beloved of God must attach great importance to this matter, and carry it forward with enthusiasm and zeal."

('Abdu'l-Baha: Baha'i Education, pp. 24-25)


504. Should Train Children to Memorize Prayers and Tablets*

"He is very glad to know that you attach importance to the training of the children, for whatever they learn in that early stage of their development will leave its traces upon their whole life. It becomes part of their nature.


"The Master used to attach much importance to the learning by heart of the Tablets of Baha'u'llah and the Bab. During His days it was a usual work of the children of the household to learn Tablets by heart; now, however, those children are grown up and do not have time for such a thing. But the practice is most useful to implant the ideas and spirit those words contain into the mind of the children.


"With 'the Dawn-Breakers' in your possession you could also arrange interesting stories about the early days of the Movement which the children would like to hear. There are also stories about the life of Christ, Muhammad and the other Prophets which if told to the children will break down any religious prejudice they may have learned from older people of little understanding."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the Spiritual Assembly of West Englewood, October 19, 1932)

___________________

*(See also: No. 1516)


[151] 505. Sacred Duty of Children Towards Their Parents

"...The fruits that best befit the tree of human life are trustworthiness and godliness, truthfulness and sincerity; but greater than all, after recognition of the unity of God, praised and glorified be He, is regard for the rights that are due one's parents. This teaching hath been mentioned in all the Books of God, and reaffirmed by the Most Exalted Pen...."

(Baha'u'llah: The Kitab-i-Aqdas, Questions and Answers, Q. 106, p. 139)


"There are also certain sacred duties of children toward parents, which duties are written in the Book of God, as belonging to God. The (children's) prosperity in this world and the Kingdom depends upon the good pleasure of parents, and without this they will be in manifest loss."

('Abdu'l-Baha: Baha'i Education, p. 50)


506. Children Should Be Trained to Understand Spiritual Significance of Baha'i Meetings

"The Universal House of Justice has received your letter of 14th September 1982 concerning the role of Local Spiritual Assemblies in guiding parents and children in standards of behaviour for children at community gatherings, such as Nineteen Day Feasts and Baha'i Holy Day observances.


"Further to the letter we wrote on its behalf on 28th June 1977, the House of Justice has instructed us to say that children should be trained to understand the spiritual significance of the gatherings of the followers of the Blessed Beauty, and to appreciate the honour and bounty of being able to take part in them, whatever their outward form may be. It is realized that some Baha'i observances are lengthy and it is difficult for very small children to remain quiet for so long. In such cases one or other of the parents may have to miss part of the meeting in order to care for the child. The Spiritual Assembly can also perhaps help the parents by providing for a children's observance, suited to their capacities, in a separate room during part of the community's observance. Attendance at the whole of the adult celebration thus becomes a sign of growing maturity and a distinction to be earned by good behaviour.


"In any case, the House of Justice points out that parents are responsible for their children and should make them behave when they attend Baha'i meetings. If children persist in creating a disturbance they should be taken out of the meeting. This is not merely necessary to ensure the properly dignified conduct of Baha'i meetings but is an aspect of the training of children in courtesy, consideration for others, reverence, and obedience to their parents."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Canada, October 14, 1982)


507. Few Children Are Really Bad

"He is sorry to hear your little boy is not developing satisfactorily; very few children are really bad. They do, however, sometimes have complicated personalities and need very wise handling to enable them to grow into normal, moral, happy adults. If you feel convinced your son will really benefit from going to ...'s school you could send him there. But in general we should certainly always avoid sending Baha'i children to orthodox religious schools, especially Catholic, as the children receive the imprint of religious beliefs we as believers know are out-dated and no longer for this age. He will especially pray for the solution of this problem."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, May 30, 1947)


[152] 508. Children Fighting

"Regarding your question about children fighting: The statement of the Master, not to strike back, should not be taken so extremely literally that Baha'i children must accept to be bullied and thrashed. If they can manage to show a better way of settling disputes than by active self-defence, they should naturally do so."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, May 11, 1945)


509. Physical Punishment

"As to your question about the use of physical punishment in child training, although there is a Tablet of the Master which considers beating as not permissible, this does not necessarily include every form of corporal punishment. In order to have a full grasp of the Master's attitude towards punishment, one has to study all His Tablets in this respect. For the time being no hard and fast rule can be laid down, and parents must use their own wise discretion in these matters until the time is ripe for the principles of Baha'i education of children to be more clearly elucidated and applied."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, August 12, 1975)


510. Problem Child: Discipline of Some Sort Indispensable

"With regard to the statement attributed to 'Abdu'l-Baha and which you have quoted in your letter regarding a 'problem child': These statements of the Master, however true in their substance, should never be given a literal interpretation. 'Abdu'l-Baha could have never meant that a child should be left to himself, entirely free. In fact Baha'i education, just like any other system of education is based on the assumption that there are certain natural deficiencies in every child, no matter how gifted, which his educators, whether his parents, school masters, or his spiritual guides and preceptors should endeavour to remedy. Discipline of some sort, whether physical, moral or intellectual, is indeed indispensable, and no training can be said to be complete and fruitful if it disregards this element. The child when born is far from being perfect. It is not only helpless, but actually is imperfect, and even is naturally inclined towards evil. He should be trained, his natural inclinations harmonized, adjusted and controlled, and if necessary suppressed or regulated, so as to insure his healthy physical and moral development. Baha'i parents cannot simply adopt an attitude of non-resistance towards their children, particularly those who are unruly and violent by nature. It is not even sufficient that they should pray on their behalf. Rather they should endeavour to inculcate, gently and patiently, into their youthful minds such principles of moral conduct and initiate them into the principles and teachings of the Cause with such tactful and loving care as would enable them to become 'true sons of God' and develop into loyal and intelligent citizens of His Kingdom. This is the high purpose which Baha'u'llah Himself has clearly defined as the chief goal of every education."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, July 9, 1939: Baha'i Education, pp. 65-66)


511. It is Not Permissible to Strike a Child

"Let the mothers consider that whatever concerneth the education of children [153] is of the first importance. Let them put forth every effort in this regard, for when the bough is green and tender it will grow in whatever way ye train it. Therefore is it incumbent upon the mothers to rear their little ones even as a gardener tendeth his young plants. Let them strive by day and by night to establish within their children faith and certitude, the fear of God, the love of the Beloved of the worlds, and all good qualities and traits. Whensoever a mother seeth that her child hath done well, let her praise and applaud him and cheer his heart; and if the slightest undesirable trait should manifest itself, let her counsel the child and punish him, and use means based on reason, even a slight verbal chastisement should this be necessary. It is not, however, permissible to strike a child, or vilify him, for the child's character will be totally perverted if he be subjected to blows or verbal abuse."

('Abdu'l-Baha: Baha'i Education, pp. 49-50)



E. Registration of Children


512. Baha'i Children Do Not Automatically Inherit Faith of Parents

"In letters replying to questions on the registration of children and youth the Universal House of Justice has attempted to avoid laying down rulings that are universally applicable. However, for the assistance of National Spiritual Assemblies it is now providing the following summary of guidelines and elucidations that have been given. We are to emphasize that no hard and fast lines should be drawn, and procedural matters must never be allowed to eclipse the spiritual reality of belief, which is an intensely personal relationship between the soul and its Creator.


"Unlike the children of some other religions, Baha'i children do not automatically inherit the Faith of their parents. However, the parents are responsible for the upbringing and spiritual welfare of their children, and Spiritual Assemblies have the duty to assist parents, if necessary, in fulfilling these obligations, so that the children will be reared in the light of the Revelation of Baha'u'llah and from their earliest years will learn to love God and His Manifestations and to walk in the way of God's Law. It is natural, therefore, to regard the children of Baha'is as Baha'is unless there is a reason to conclude the contrary. It is quite wrong to think of Baha'i children as existing in some sort of spiritual limbo until the age of fifteen at which point they can 'become' Baha'is. In the light of this one can conclude the following:

"Children born to a Baha'i couple are regarded as Baha'is from the beginning of their lives, and their births should be registered by the Spiritual Assembly.


"The birth of a child to a couple, one of whom is a Baha'i, should also be registered unless the non-Baha'i parent objects.


"A Spiritual Assembly may accept the declaration of faith of a child of non-Baha'i parents, and register him as Baha'i child, provided the parents give their consent."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United Kingdom, July 19, 1982)


513. Children Whose Parents Become Baha'is

"In the cases of children whose parents become Baha'is, much depends upon the ages and reactions of the children concerned. They will require great love and [154] understanding, and each case must be judged on its own merits. This applies to an added degree, of course, if only one of the parents has accepted the Faith, in which case the attitude of the other parent is an important factor; the aim of the Baha'is should be to foster family unity. The important thing is that the children, whether registered as Baha'is or not, should be made to feel welcome at Baha'i children's classes and other community gatherings."

(Ibid.)


514. Status of Children Under the Age of 15*

"We have your letter of 18th August 1971 concerning the status of children under the age of 15 years who wish to become Baha'is. We share with you an extract of a letter on the subject written on behalf of the beloved Guardian by his secretary:

'Up to the age of 15 years, children are under the direction of their parents. At the age of 15, they may declare their Faith as a conviction, and be registered as Baha'i youth, whether the parents are Baha'is or not. Children under the age of 15 of Baha'i parents who wish to attend meetings and associate with the friends as Baha'is may do so. If non-Baha'i parents permit a child of less than 15 to attend Baha'i meetings, and in fact, to be a Baha'i, this is likewise permissible.' (To the National Spiritual Assembly of Germany, dated July 23, 1954)"

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Australia, August 29, 1971: Australian Baha'i Bulletin, No. 205, September 1971, p. 14))

____________________

*(See also: No. 262)


515. Age 15 Relates to Spiritual Functions and Obligations

"Regarding the age of fifteen fixed by Baha'u'llah: This relates only to purely spiritual functions and obligations and is not related to the degree of administrative capacity which is a totally different thing, and is, for the present, fixed at twenty-one."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, May 15, 1940: Baha'i News, No. 138, p. 1, September 1940)


516. Children Under 15 Cannot Marry

"QUESTION: In a treatise in Persian on various questions, the age of maturity hath been set at fifteen; is marriage likewise conditional upon reaching maturity, or is it permissible before that time?


"ANSWER: Since the consent of both parties is required in the Book of God, and since, before maturity, their consent or lack of it cannot be ascertained, marriage is therefore conditional upon reaching maturity, and is not permissible before that time.

(Baha'u'llah: The Kitab-i-Aqdas, Questions and Answers, Q. 92, pp. 133-134)


517. Children Are of Age at 15 as Far as Keeping Laws of Aqdas

"Regarding children: At fifteen a Baha'i is of age as far as keeping the laws of the Aqdas is concerned—prayer, fasting, etc. But children under fifteen should certainly observe the Baha'i Holy Days, and not go to school, if this can be arranged on these nine days."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, October 25, 1947)


[155] 518. Children of Baha'i Parents Considered as Baha'is

"Although the children of Baha'i parents are considered to be Baha'is, there is no objection at the present time, for purposes of keeping a correct census, and also ascertaining whether the young people are, sincerely, believers, and willing to do their share in service to the Faith, to asking them to make a declaration of their intention, at the age of fifteen or so. Originally the Guardian understands this was adopted in America to enable young Baha'i men to make certain arrangements in connection with their application for non-combatant status, upon their attaining the age of military service. There is really nothing about it in the Teachings or in the Administration. Your Assembly is free to do as it pleases in this matter."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of the British Isles, June 17, 1954: From a compilation of the Universal House of Justice, Extracts from letters written on behalf of the Guardian on various aspects of age and obligations)


519. Registering Children Upon Attaining Age 15

"...the way in which Baha'i children should be registered upon reaching the age 15 is within the discretion of each National Spiritual Assembly; there is no objection to using for this purpose the general enrolment card, if such a card is adopted, or a new and separate one specially for Baha'i children attaining the age of fifteen. It is important, however, that whatever method of enrolment is used or card adopted, it is clear to such children that they had been Baha'is up to that time, and that on attaining the age of spiritual maturity they are reaffirming their belief in Baha'u'llah.


"The form and wording of an enrolment or registration card is also within the discretion of a National Spiritual Assembly."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Germany, October 28, 1975: From a compilation of letters written on behalf of the Guardian and the Universal House of Justice regarding enrolment of children. Included in a letter from the House of Justice to the National Assembly of Ecuador, August 9, 1979)


520. Upon Attainment of Age 15 Child Must Reaffirm His Faith

"...Both children of Baha'i parents, and children who, with their non-Baha'i parents' consent, declare their faith in Baha'u'llah before they are fifteen years old, are regarded as Baha'is and it is within a Spiritual Assembly's discretion to request such children to undertake work of which they are capable in the service of the Faith, such as service on suitable committees. However, upon attaining the age of fifteen a child becomes spiritually mature and is responsible for stating on his own behalf whether or not he wishes to remain a member of the Baha'i community. If he does not then reaffirm his faith, he must be treated, administratively, as a non-Baha'i."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Brazil, December 12, 1975: Ibid.)


521. Registration of Children of Baha'i Parents

"In answer to your letter ... concerning the registration of children of Baha'i parents the Universal House of Justice has instructed us to say that at the present time it prefers to leave the details of such matters to the discretion of each National Spiritual Assembly. One National Assembly, for example, sends a very nice letter [156] to each Baha'i child in its community on the occasion of its fifteenth birthday (unless, of course, it has reason to doubt that the child in question is a Baha'i), explaining the meaning of attaining the age of maturity, and extending the good wishes of the Assembly for his or her future services to the Cause. This does not require an active response from every child but does provide each with an opportunity to make his or her position clear if desired.


"The House of Justice points out that the Assembly must wisely steer a course between seeming to doubt the faith of a child who has been brought up as a devout Baha'i on the one hand, and seeming to compel a child to be a member of the Baha'i community against his will, on the other."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Germany, October 5, 1978: Ibid.)


522. May Be Circumstances in which Children Should Not Be Registered

"It is within the discretion of your National Spiritual Assembly to determine whether children should be registered as Baha'is in cases where one parent is not a Baha'i, although children of Baha'i parents under age 15, are generally considered Baha'is, there may be circumstances in which they should not be registered as such, and this is also left to your discretion. Local Spiritual Assemblies should help by advising the parents to consider it one of their primary obligations to raise their children in a spirit of love and dedication towards the Faith."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Ecuador, October 13, 1976)



F. Miscellaneous Topics in Reference to Children


523. Children Should Be Free to Choose Their Own Religion

"Shoghi Effendi wishes me to acknowledge the receipt of your letter ... which you wrote concerning Catholic marriage and the promise that any resulting children should be Catholic.


"The basic principle of the Cause is independent investigation of truth. This applies to us as much as to our children. They should be free to choose for themselves any religion they wish. To promise that they will belong to a certain Faith and not to another is therefore not only contrary to our precepts, but is also a futile promise to give. How can we make the future generation think as we do or follow our dictates. God has made them free. All that we can do is to open their eyes and tell them of what we think to be the truth."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, March 3, 1931)


524. Teach Child to Say Greatest Name in Moments of Crisis

"He thinks you are wise in not separating yourself from your child; and he will pray that he may grow out of this condition, and gain in physical and spiritual strength. It would be a great advantage to him if you could teach him to say the Greatest Name, when he is himself going through a moment of crisis and suffering."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to a Baha'i couple, December 4, 1954)


525. Criticizing the Faith in Front of Children

"Regarding the question you asked about the attitude of criticizing the Faith in [157] front of children in a Baha'i family: The Guardian feels that this is not something that one can lay down a general rule for. A great deal would depend on the age of the children, and whether they are able to think for themselves, and whether one of the parents has sufficient influence over them to offset the effect of the criticism of the other parent. It would seem that if the children are very young, and torn between the influences of both parents, it would be wiser to avoid discussing the Faith in front of them; but only encourage them when the staunch Baha'i is alone with them, to revere and uphold the Faith."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, April 16, 1951)


526. The Real Object of Life—The Guardian Prays for Children

"The Guardian will pray that each of you may become a brilliant light in this dark world, and in due time, lead many seeking souls to the Splendor of the Cause of God. This is the real object of life, and he hopes all your training, will be a means of training your characters, and enriching your spirits, so you may teach the Faith, and become strong supporters of its institutions."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the Baha'i children of Kenosha, Wisconsin, December 28, 1956)


527. Teach Children to be Kind to Animals

"Train your children from their earliest days to be infinitely tender and loving to animals. If an animal be sick, let the children try to heal it, if it be hungry, let them feed it, if thirsty, let them quench its thirst, if weary, let them see that it rests.


"Most human beings are sinners, but the beasts are innocent. Surely those without sin should receive the most kindness and love—all except animals which are harmful, such as bloodthirsty wolves, such as poisonous snakes, and similar pernicious creatures, the reason being that kindness to these is an injustice to human beings and to other animals as well... Tenderness and loving-kindness are basic principles of God's heavenly Kingdom. Ye should most carefully bear this matter in mind."

('Abdu'l-Baha: Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Baha, pp. 159-60)


528. Baha'i Children Can Give to the Fund—Non-Baha'i Children, No Ruling Made; Teacher to Solve Problem

"Any Baha'i can give to the Cause's Funds, adult or child. No statement is required on this subject. Baha'i children have always given to the Cause, everywhere. Whatever situation may arise in a class which non-Baha'i children attend is for the teacher of the class to solve. No ruling should be made to cover such things."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, February 12, 1949: Lifeblood of the Cause, p. 18)


529. The Universal House of Justice Responds to Children's Questions Regarding the Catastrophe

"The heart-warming messages from the children attending the Indiana District Convention forwarded with your recent letter brought much joy to the Universal [158] House of Justice, and the House of Justice asks if you will kindly relay to these dear ones its comments on the several questions posed by the children.


"When telling about the Faith to people who disagree with what you are saying, don't argue with them. Try to find a point of agreement and if you can't, then leave them alone. You have done what you can by speaking of the Faith. Now leave them to Baha'u'llah.


"Regarding the sad plight of the Baha'is in Iran and what children can do about it, the House of Justice suggests that you remember these dear friends in your daily prayers, and encourage your parents to support the efforts of their Local Spiritual Assemblies and National Spiritual Assembly to bring this terrible situation to the attention of the media and the authorities.


"One of the children asks, 'Why did they call it the Universal House of Justice?' In the Most Holy Book the Kitab-i-Aqdas, Baha'u'llah has written, 'The Lord hath ordained that in every city a House of Justice shall be established...'; we know them by the name Local Spiritual Assemblies. 'Abdu'l-Baha, in His Will and Testament, has stated 'and now concerning the House of Justice which God hath ordained as the source of all good and freed from error, it must be elected by universal suffrage, that is, by the believers... By this House is meant the Universal House of Justice, that is, in all countries, a secondary House of Justice (National Spiritual Assembly) must be instituted, and these secondary Houses of Justice must elect the members of the Universal one.' When you study the wonderful Writings of Baha'u'llah and 'Abdu'l-Baha, and the explanations of Shoghi Effendi, you will find many references to this supreme administrative institution which will help you to understand why it is called the Universal House of Justice.


"Two of the questions are, in a way, interrelated: 'Will the sun die on us pretty soon?' and 'Will the world end if there is a nuclear war?' No doubt both are prompted by the current wave of rumors about impending calamities that are circulating amongst adults and which are overheard by the children.


"Without minimizing the serious situation facing a world heedless of Baha'u'llah's admonitions, it must be remembered that He also refers to the Golden Age of civilization to come. The House of Justice hopes that Baha'i teachers and parents will do their utmost to encourage the children to study the explanations of the beloved Guardian about the twin processes at work in the world—the steady growth of the Faith, and the devastating forces of disintegration assailing the outworn institutions of present-day society.


"We are asked to assure you that the House of Justice will remember you and the children of your class at the Holy Threshold."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, December 29, 1981)



IX. CHURCHES


[159] 530. Baha'is Must Have No Affiliation with Churches

"...we, as Baha'is, must not have any affiliations with churches or political parties. But he feels certain that when you meditate on this matter you yourselves will see the wisdom of it. We, as Baha'is, can never be known as hypocrites or as people insincere in their protestations and because of this we cannot subscribe to both the Faith of Baha'u'llah and ordinary church dogma. The churches are waiting for the coming of Jesus Christ; we believe He has come again in the Glory of the Father. The churches teach doctrines—various ones in various creeds—which we as Baha'is do not accept; such as the bodily Resurrection, confession, or, in some creeds, the denial of the Immaculate Conception. In other words, there is no Christian church today whose dogmas we, as Baha'is, can truthfully say we accept in their entirety—therefore to remain a member of the Church is not proper for us, for we do so under false pretences. We should, therefore, withdraw from our churches but continue to associate, if we wish to, with the church members and ministers.


"Our belief in Christ, as Baha'is, is so firm, so unshakeable and so exalted in nature that very few Christians are to be found now-a-days who love Him and reverence Him and have the faith in Him that we have. It is only from the dogmas and creeds of the churches that we dissociate ourselves; not from the spirit of Christianity."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the Baha'is of Vienna, June 24, 1947)


531. We Must Have the Courage of Our Convictions

"...No Baha'i can any longer dissimulate his faith and practise the laws and ordinances of a previous dispensation and call himself at the same time a believer. No compromise, no vacillation can any longer be tolerated. We must have the courage of our convictions and preserve the integrity of our glorious Cause...."

(Postscript by the Guardian to a letter written on his behalf to an individual believer, May 21, 1933)


532. On Becoming a Baha'i Should Withdraw from Church

"If a person is registered as a member of a church or similar religious organization he should withdraw from it on becoming a Baha'i.

"In the case of new believers, it should be made clear to them in the course of teaching them the Faith that one cannot be a Baha'i and also a member of another religious organization. This is simply a matter of straight-forwardness and honesty. A great part of the teaching of Jesus Christ concerned His Second Coming and the preparation of His followers to be ready for it. The Baha'is believe He has come. No Christian Church believes this; on the contrary, they either look for Him still, or have ceased to believe that He will come. For a [160] Baha'i to be a member of a community which holds such beliefs is disloyalty to Christ and hypocrisy towards the Christians.


"You should not formalize the method by which the withdrawal from the church is to be made, and certainly nothing should be added to a declaration form, if you use one. It should be left to the Local Spiritual Assembly which is accepting the declaration to satisfy itself, as it deems best in each case, that the new believer has already resigned from the church, or does so within a reasonable time of his declaration.


"In regard to the old believers, your Assembly should tactfully, and in a kindly way, make the Baha'i position clear to them and gently persuade them to resign from their former churches. This is a matter for great tact and discretion. If such a believer remains adamant you will have to consider depriving him of his voting rights."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Switzerland, November 21, 1968: Canadian Baha'i News, Special Section, March 1973, p. 6)


533. Baha'is Are Ardent Believers in Christ

"The friends should by all means be encouraged to withdraw from church membership and be made to realize that, though we as Baha'is are ardent believers in Christ, we do not and cannot support, church institutions and doctrines when Christ has come again and brought new laws for the world today and its present needs; to adhere to forms, mostly man-made, and now out-moded and no longer needed, is meaningless. This does not mean they should no longer associate with the church members; they should cease to be registered members of it."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, May 5, 1943)


534. Ministers Who Consider Themselves Baha'is Should Withdraw from Church Membership

"As he has already informed you, the Guardian feels that the time has now come to ask any ministers still affiliated with churches, but who consider themselves practising Baha'is, to withdraw from the church openly. This is following the example of the Hand of the Cause, former Archdeacon Townshend, who courageously defied the opinion of his fellow-clergymen, his relatives and the public, and stepped forth from his high office as a Baha'i. When the friends realize that many of the first to accept the Bab were priests and suffered martyrdom for their act, it does not seem to be asking much that they should rally openly to the Kingdom of the Father which they believe in and for whose advent they cannot very well go on encouraging people in their churches to pray."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, July 19, 1956)


535. Membership in Jewish Synagogue

"Concerning the membership of Mr. ... in the synagogue: As this concerns his non-Baha'i Jewish wife and means a great deal to her—even involving the place of her burial—the Guardian does not feel it is right to request him to take a step which would deprive her of her own religious rights. On the other [161] hand, he sees no reason why Mr. ... should not write a letter to the appropriate authority in this synagogue, explaining that he is a practising Baha'i, but is keeping his synagogue membership for the benefit of his wife and children..."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of the British Isles, May 8, 1947)


536. Withdrawal of Baha'i Youth from Church Membership

"Your letter of 25th October has been received and we fully appreciate the problem posed in the case of youth who accept Baha'u'llah but whose parents strongly oppose their withdrawal from the Church. In such cases where the parents oppose their withdrawal and insistence upon it by the youth would undermine the unity of the family it is permissible for the withdrawal to be postponed until the youth attain the age of 21. This would not, of course, in any way affect his acceptance into the Baha'i community. As you mention, this is the very time at which such a newly-declared believer needs all the deepening and confirmation he can receive."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Germany, November 6, 1972)


537. For Sake of Family Unity Concession Made for Youth

"In reply to your letter of January 26th, we feel that while it is important to be flexible in requesting new believers, particularly youth who may encounter parental opposition, to withdraw from membership of other religious organizations, such flexibility cannot be allowed to extend to compromising Baha'i law. Two Baha'is, when getting married, cannot have the religious ceremony of another Faith.


"As to the age of maturity, voting rights in the Baha'i Administrative Order are acquired when a believer becomes 21 and you might well make that point the period for severance of those religious ties which members of the Baha'i community cannot maintain. The main point is that while, for the sake of family unity, the concession has been made to youth on the matter of withdrawal from church membership, every effort should be made to encourage all believers, as well as Baha'i youth, to observe requirements of Baha'i membership even at the cost of some hardship or inconvenience."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United Kingdom, February 11, 1973)


538. Baha'i Attitude Toward the Church

"Regarding church matters: The article of Dr. Townshend should be widely circulated and used. No matter what the attitude of people towards the churches in general may be, it has nothing to do with our Baha'i attitude, and Townshend has courageously stated this, and it has weight, in view of his former position in the church."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, August 18, 1949: Baha'i News, No. 226, December 1949, p. 2) (This letter is in reference to Dr. Townshend's article, The Old Churches and the New World Faith, which is published as a pamphlet)


[162] 539. On Being Expelled from Church

"...Thou has written that they have expelled thee from the church and thy friends are manifesting aversion towards thee. This is the beginning of thy trials. There are greater trials than these. Therefore, be not sad, nay rather, be thou happy and full of glad-tidings. There is no harm done if they have expelled thee from the church.... Thou hast entered into the Heavenly Jerusalem and discovered the Way to the Holy of Holies of the Kingdom. That church is of stone and cement, whereas this Holy of Holies is of overwhelming Light.


"But the more the tormenting friends shun thee, go thou the nearer to them. The more they deride and blame thee, show thou forth the greater love and affection. Do not look upon their shortcomings. Look thou upon all of them as the people of God and endeavour thou in right-doing and well-meaning. Ignorant are they; understand they do not. Therefore they are avoiding, criticizing and scorning thee."

('Abdu'l-Baha: Tablets of 'Abdu'l-Baha, Vol. III, p. 504)


540. Paying Church Tax

"...as regards paying the church tax. If there is a law in ... requiring citizens to pay such a tax, the believers should obey the law and do so. If there is no law covering this matter, but it is a question of a voluntary act and left to the individual they should not pay it.


"In case there is no law, and the Baha'is consequently stop paying this contribution to church upkeep, new contacts and believers should not be tactlessly told they must stop doing this, but first confirmed, and strengthened in their faith and then the wisdom and necessity of this step be brought home to them. Certainly no publicity should be given to such a delicate question. In other words, we as Baha'is must first clearly define the issue involved, set our goal before us, and work wisely, persistently and patiently towards its accomplishment.


"If, in connection with this church tax matter delicate situations arise, such a school teacher's position, it is for the Assembly to go into the matter and try and find the right solution, bearing in mind the goal towards which the friends are working: the right to be citizens in good standing, but not church members."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the European Teaching Committee, October 26, 1949)


541. Contributions to a Church

"The first case is that of the elderly Catholic woman who is suffering from severe heart disease and is thus liable to die at any time. In this case, as also in that of suffering believers, the Assemblies, whether Local or National, should act tactfully, patiently, and in a friendly and kindly spirit. Knowing how painful and dangerous it is for such believers to repudiate their former allegiances and friendships they should try to gradually persuade them of the wisdom and necessity of such an action, and instead of thrusting upon them a new principle to make them accept it inwardly, and out of pure conviction and desire. Too severe and immediate action in such cases is not only fruitless, but actually harmful. It alienates people instead of winning them to the Cause.


[163] "The other point concerns the advisability of contributing to a church. In this case also the friends must realise that contributions to a church, specially when not regular, do not necessarily entail affiliation. The believers can make such offerings occasionally provided they are certain that while doing so they are not counted as members of any church. There should be no confusion between the terms affiliation and association. While affiliation with ecclesiastical organizations is not permissible, association with them should not only be tolerated but even encouraged. There is no better way to demonstrate the universality of the Cause than this. Baha'u'llah indeed, urges His followers to consort with all religions and nations with utmost friendliness and love. This constitutes the very spirit of His message to mankind."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, December 11, 1935)


542. History of the Early Church

"...There is certainly an element of truth at the basis of the organization of the Christian Church. For instance, the primacy of Peter and his right to succession after Jesus have been established by the latter, though only orally and not in an explicit and definite language. The real reason why Christ did not make some explicit statement regarding His succession is not known, and cannot be known. For how can we, poor humans, claim to unravel the mysteries of God's mind and purpose, and to grasp the inscrutable dispensations of His providence. The utmost we can do is to give some explanations, but these must necessarily fail to give the fundamental reason to the problem we seek to solve."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, December 28, 1936)



X. COMMITTEES



A. Appointing Committees


[164] 543. Freedom to Appoint Any Baha'i Qualified for the Work

"In going over the minutes of your recent N.S.A. meeting he noticed that you had decided to try as far as possible to eliminate National Spiritual Assembly members from the National Committees. Although he fully realizes your reasons for taking this decision, he feels it infringes on one of the fundamental principles of our administrative order which is freedom of choice—freedom of electors to elect anyone they please to Local or National bodies, and freedom of the members of these bodies to appoint any Baha'i, who seems best qualified for the work, to function on Committees.


"The first consideration must always be the person best qualified for a job, and National Assembly members should in such matters not be either discriminated against, or in favour of, because of the position they occupy on the National body."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, June 16, 1947: Baha'i News, No. 198, August 1947, p. 3)


544. Continuity of Committee Personnel

"Although National Assemblies and Local Assemblies may provide for continuity of Committee personnel by re-appointment of members each year, Assemblies should not appoint members of Committees for a term of more than one year."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, December 20, 1966)


545. Preferable Some Qualified Native Believers Serve on Committee

"There is no objection to a National Spiritual Assembly member serving on the National Teaching Committee, but if National Spiritual Assembly members were to predominate on the Committee the purpose of appointing it, which is to relieve the National Assembly of the details of the work, would be defeated. It is also preferable for some qualified native believers to serve on the National Teaching Committee so that they may thus be trained to carry on with the work.


"...the beloved Guardian paid great attention to the administrative arrangements for teaching and was highly in favour of one central National Teaching Committee with Regional Committees responsible to it. He once pointed out that absorption of the petty details of Baha'i administration by the personnel of the National Spiritual Assembly is manifestly injurious to efficiency and an expert discharge of Baha'i duties."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Brazil, June 23, 1971)


[165] 546. Desirability of Easy Meeting of National Teaching Committee—If Possible, Not to be Burdened with Other Duties

"...we ... suggest that for future consideration you should bear in mind the desirability of easy meetings of this important committee which would, of course, be facilitated by members being in the same vicinity. It is also desirable that the members of this vital right arm of the National Spiritual Assembly should, as far as possible, not be burdened with other duties. It has been found that the most effective arrangement is to have a strong, centrally located Teaching Committee—although not necessarily at the National Headquarters—with its members free to devote all their efforts and energies to the work of that committee. The Regional Teaching Committees are in a sense the executive agents of the National Teaching Committee and while there is no harm in members of the Regional Committees being also on the National Teaching Committee it is generally better for them to concentrate on the work in their own particular areas."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Colombia, June 23, 1971)


547. Committees Can Be Constituted with Eye for Improvement and Change

"...He feels that it would be good to infuse more new life—by using different believers of capacity—into National Committees. ...more young people and more people who are capable professional or business people in their private lives are now in the Faith than ever before, and such material should be tapped and exploited so that all Committees possess a certain amount of new blood and get an infusion of fresh ideas. As elections are by secret ballot only the education of the electorate can bring about changes on Assemblies which often stagnate from lack of fresh blood—but Committees appointed as they are by Spiritual Assemblies—can be constituted with an eye for improvement and change."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, March 31, 1945)


548. Assembly Should Use Discretion When Appointing Committee Members—Incompatible Personalities on Committees

"We are asked by the Universal House of Justice to acknowledge your letter ... in which you ask for guidelines on the following questions:


"a. What attitude should a National Spiritual Assembly take when believers accept appointment to a committee but do not attend its meetings because of what you term incompatible personalities or lack of unity with other members of the committee, and yet they do not resign from the committee?


"As you are already aware, in your choice of members for committees, you must use careful judgement and discretion, with the aim of appointing a membership, which, from the outset, has good prospects of operating with full force. If, despite your efforts to do this, there is disharmony among the committee members, the following extract from a letter of 13 May 1945 written on behalf of the beloved Guardian may be helpful to you.


'Regarding the matter of ... and the inharmony that seems to exist among certain of the friends...: When Baha'is permit the dark forces of the world to enter into their own relationships within the Faith they gravely jeopardize its progress; it is the paramount duty of the believers, the Local Assemblies, [166] and particularly the N.S.A. to foster harmony, understanding and love amongst the friends. All should be ready and willing to set aside every personal sense of grievance—justified or unjustified—for the good of the Cause, because the people will never embrace it until they see in its community life mirrored what is so conspicuously lacking in the world: love and unity.'"

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Bolivia, August 19, 1985)


549. National Committees Ordinarily Appointed by and Responsible to the National Spiritual Assembly

"National Committees are ordinarily appointed by and responsible to the National Spiritual Assembly, but within the limits of wise discretion the National Spiritual Assembly may authorize a particular Committee to appoint a sub-committee or to ask individuals to assist it in carrying out its assigned functions.


"In calling these principles to the attention of the believers, however, care must be exercised not to dampen the enthusiasm or initiative of the friends."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the North West Pacific Ocean, September 5, 1974)


550. Non-Members of Assemblies Should Be Given the Opportunity to Develop Administrative Skills

"In the list of national committees for 1983-84, it was noted that eight members of the National Assembly had been appointed to serve. Indeed, your treasurer will be on three committees, and your secretary on two. While it is understandable that those elected to a National Spiritual Assembly generally have great capacity to assume manifold duties, the House of Justice points out that the opportunity for non-members of Assemblies to develop administrative skills is lost when members of a National Assembly serve on a large number of national committees."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly, December 28, 1983)


551. Not Necessary that Committee Appointments Expire at Ridvan

"As regards the appointment of committees on a yearly basis, we refer to the Guardian's instructions on page 141 of Baha'i Administration that '...the renewal, the membership, and functions ... should be reconsidered separately each year by the incoming National Assembly....' Individuals appointed to committees should identify themselves with functions and objectives which normally extend beyond the term of their appointment. Just as members of the National Assembly relate themselves to goals of the Nine Year Plan, members of Local Assemblies and committees should do likewise, so that a single dynamic spirit may animate the important work for which each Assembly or committee is responsible.


"It is not necessary, however, that the term of committee appointments expire at Ridvan. It may be advisable, in order to provide continuity, to begin the committee year in June or July. Furthermore, the fact that, generally speaking, there are few radical changes in committee personnel should also make for continuity of thought and action."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of the United States, January 23, 1967)



B. Election of Committee Officers


[167] 552. All Committee Members Must Be Given Opportunity to Cast Ballot—Election of Officers by Majority, Not Plurality*

"Concerning the question of the election of committee officers, the House of Justice has instructed us to explain that provided all members of the committee have been given the opportunity to be present at the meeting or to send their ballots by mail, the election of the committee's officers is valid, even if a member does not avail himself of the opportunity to vote. Of course, as you are no doubt aware, election of officers must be by majority vote, not plurality. The House of Justice also points out that it is preferable to have an odd number of members appointed to a committee. This would lessen the chance of a tie vote result."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Mexico, September 2, 1981)

___________________

*(See also: No. 101. Any Officer Elected Must Have Received at least Five Votes)


553. If Member Has a Good Reason, He is Free to Suggest He Should Not Be Elected to Office

"...With regard to your question whether members of an Assembly and/or a committee may excuse themselves from being elected to serve as an officer:


"On several occasions the beloved Guardian pointed out that before the election of officers, if any member had a good reason in his own opinion why he should not be elected to one of the offices of the Assembly, he was free to suggest that he should not be so elected. The House of Justice also feels that as the work of the Faith expands and the duties of officers, particularly on National Spiritual Assemblies, acquire more importance, it is permissible and at times advisable to discuss the duties incumbent upon and required of each officer before ballots are cast."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Bolivia, August 18, 1985)



C. Structure and Function of National Committees


554. An Efficient Teaching Structure Must Be Adopted by the National Spiritual Assembly

"The teaching committee structure that each National Assembly may adopt to ensure best results in the extension of its teaching work is a matter left entirely to its discretion, but an efficient teaching structure there must be, so that the tasks are carried out with dispatch and in accordance with the administrative principles of our Faith. From among the believers native to each country, competent travelling teachers must be selected and teaching projects worked out. In the words of our beloved Guardian, commenting upon the teaching work in Latin America: 'strong and sustained support should be given to the vitally needed and meritorious activities started by the native ... travelling teachers, ... who, as the mighty task progresses, must increasingly bear the brunt of responsibility for the propagation of the Faith in their homelands.'"

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to all National Spiritual Assemblies engaged in Mass Teaching Work, February 2, 1966)


[168] 555. Function of the National Teaching Committee

"The function of a National Teaching Committee is to take charge, under the direction of the National Spiritual Assembly, of the entire teaching program of the country. It should be given its terms of reference which will specifically define the general objectives and methods of the teaching on the homefront; it should be provided with a budget and be required to submit to the National Spiritual Assembly an overall plan for the accomplishment of its tasks. Once this plan has been approved, the Committee should be allowed to carry out its work, although of course you should receive regular reports of its progress and of its financial position.


"One of the great benefits deriving from such an arrangement is that the National Spiritual Assembly is freed from the day-to-day details of the teaching work and while retaining supervision of this most important method in its own hand, has an executive arm in its National Teaching Committee, which should be given the full confidence and support of the National Spiritual Assembly."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Trinidad and Tobago, November 12, 1971)


556. National Committees Constituted to Serve Needs of Local Assemblies

"He feels that the Local Assemblies should be encouraged to realize that National Committees are constituted to serve their needs, not to dictate arbitrarily to them and to unify the work of the Cause... The Committees in question should be very tactful in dealing with a young Assembly which is beginning to 'feel its oats' as this spirit of independence, if properly handled, can lead it to be strong and independent rather than weak and always relying on other bodies to carry it forward. Assemblies, however, should certainly cooperate with National Committees and not refuse their assistance."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of the British Isles, November 5, 1948: The National Spiritual Assembly, p. 48)


557. National Assembly Should Issue Instructions to National Teaching Committee to Avoid Confusion

"To avoid confusion and follow the proper procedure the National Spiritual Assembly should issue its instructions to the National Teaching Committee who would then transmit them to the Regional Committee. Regional Committees, though appointed by the N.S.A., are the auxiliaries of the National Teaching Committee. The Guardian does not feel he should go into the details of this matter, as they should be arranged by the National Spiritual Assembly itself. He merely lays down the principle to be adhered to."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, March 28, 1943)


558. Some Committees Need Larger Membership

"The Universal House of Justice has noted in the minutes of your meeting of 1st May 1985 that ... you have adopted a pattern of restricting the membership of each committee to three.

"While the House of Justice appreciates that some committees dealing with technical matters, such as the National Haziratu'l-Quds Committee, could very well have only three members, nevertheless there are some very important [169] committees, such as the National Teaching and Deepening Committee, the Youth Committee and the Committee for Women and Education of Children, and so on, to which are assigned responsibility for significant aspects of Baha'i community life, which should have a larger membership to enable consultation to take place more effectively."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Senegal, August 26, 1985)



D. Special Committees

(Administrative, Ad Hoc, Emergency—National and Regional Teaching Committees)


559. Administrative Committees Have Authority Only as Given Them by National Spiritual Assembly

"Your letter of 24 May, 1985 to the Universal House of Justice has been received and we are asked to convey its response to your question concerning the role of administrative committees in dealing with personal problems.


"Your caution in clarifying the functions of appointed administrative committees is commendable, for such committees have authority and responsibilities only through the authority and duties given them by the National Assembly appointment. Personal problems arising in communities under activation by such committees should be referred, as you have suggested, to your Assembly for consultation and advice. Should you, knowing its membership, see fit to request a committee to assist in resolving a specific problem, it may do so with your authority; similarly you are free to authorize consultation on a personal problem by an individual having the expertise needed."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Leeward Islands, July 7, 1985)


560. Ad Hoc Committees Can Be Appointed to Deal with Personal Problems

"Regarding your letter of 19 September, 1984 addressed to the Universal House of Justice, we have been directed to convey the following with reference to the three points that you make.


"The first concerns cases of a personal nature which apparently have been on the increase and are consuming a great deal of the time of your Assembly during its meetings. In a letter addressed to your Assembly, dated 30th August 1971, advice was given by the House of Justice to you on this same point. However, for ease of reference, that portion is quoted:


'Personal problems are often best dealt with by the Local Spiritual Assembly or Assemblies concerned. There is no objection to the National Assembly's appointing a committee or committees to deal with such problems as come before it, provided that the final decision remains in the hands of the Assembly itself.'


"In addition to the foregoing, we have been instructed to quote the following passage from a letter addressed to another National Assembly:


'In reply to your letter of February 4th asking whether you may assign personal problems which a Local Spiritual Assembly is unable to deal with [170] to a nearby Local Spiritual Assembly, we feel that in such cases it would be better for your National Spiritual Assembly to appoint an ad hoc committee for each case, the membership of which could be drawn from one or two nearby communities as well as the community where the particular problem exists.'"

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of El Salvador, October 22, 1984)


561. When an Assembly Lapses, Administrative Committee Can Be Named from Adult Believers of Community

"Your Assembly is empowered to name an administrative committee for the ... community. Such a committee should be viewed as being a temporary expedient for maintaining the life and vigour of the community until such time as the Local Assembly can be re-formed; it is not a replacement for the divine institution of the Local Spiritual Assembly.


"With reference to your specific questions, the Administrative Committee for ... can be named from among the adult believers of the community, without regard for their election or non-election to the now-lapsed Local Assembly. The single active youth can be called upon by the Committee for whatever duties he may be able to undertake. The Committee can continue the Local Baha'i Fund and also will maintain the incorporation of the Local Assembly.


"The National Spiritual Assembly has the authority to call for a by-election for a Local Assembly in the absence of a quorum of local believers."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly, November 8, 1983)


562. Scope of the Functions of the Emergency Committee

"It is entirely appropriate to appoint an emergency committee and to authorize it to take action between National Spiritual Assembly meetings. Your Assembly can also authorize such a committee to deal with routine matters in the interim between your Assembly meetings. In both cases full reports of such committee meetings should be made to all members of the Assembly and all decisions arrived at should be confirmed, or otherwise, at the next meeting of the National Assembly.


"You may decide on the number of the members of the National Assembly to compose such a committee. However, valid meetings of this committee can take place only when all its appointed members are duly notified. The House of Justice feels that giving notice by public service announcements on radio is not a satisfactory means of ensuring that all members have been notified. Finally, you are advised to have regular meetings of your National Assembly and not to allow the arrangement for routine and/or emergency actions to take the place of such meetings."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Liberia and Guinea, June 15, 1977)


563. Latitude of Actions that May Be Taken by an Emergency Committee

"The latitude of actions that may be taken by an emergency committee of your National Assembly in any matter it deals with must be within the framework of guidance and authority given to it by your body.


[171] "This same principle would apply to the actions in which two members of an emergency committee of three feel they have the right to take upon any matter before it."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Ecuador, December 2, 1982)


564. National Assembly Defines Limits Placed on Emergency Committee—Decisions of Committee Are Subject to Subsequent Approval of Assembly as a Whole

"...it is for your Assembly to define the limits placed upon an emergency committee appointed by you from among your own membership to take action when absolutely necessary on emergencies which arise between meetings. Decisions of the committee of course always are subject to the subsequent approval of the National Assembly as a whole and you should assure yourselves that you are adequately informed of all its actions taken in your name."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Barbados and Windward Islands, July 2, 1971)


565. Quorum of Emergency Committee Members

"With regard to the question as to whether a quorum of the Emergency Committee members may act, there are no standard rulings and conditions for Emergency Committees. Every National Spiritual Assembly must work out its own procedures in these matters. It may also provide procedures governing the attendance of members of the National Spiritual Assembly who are not also members of the Emergency Committee."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Jamaica, October 24, 1971)


566. Special Committee Can Be Named to Assume Responsibility for Consolidation

"If a National Spiritual Assembly finds that its National Teaching Committee cannot devote sufficient attention to the work of consolidation, it should not hesitate to appoint, in addition, special committees whose tasks would be the conduct of the various activities which are essential for consolidation. Activities falling within this category include the organization of circuits of travelling teachers skilled in consolidation work; the holding of summer and winter schools, weekend institutes and conferences; the initiation and operation of tutorial schools; the dissemination of Baha'i literature and the encouragement of its study by the friends; and the organization of special courses and institutes for Local Spiritual Assembly members."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to all National Spiritual Assemblies, April 17, 1981)


567. Not Necessary for National Committees to be Centred at National Headquarters*

"It is not necessary, of course, that the National Teaching Committee be centred at National Headquarters and it need not be a large committee. It is essential, however, that the members appointed be so situated that they can meet frequently during the year and that they be dedicated, active, knowledgeable, creative and reliable. As the National Teaching Committee has high priority in your [172] administrative responsibilities, you should consider, if necessary, the possibility of relieving its members of other committee responsibilities, in order that they may devote their fullest possible time and energy to the work of the Teaching Committee. Preferably at least one of the members should have secretarial skills and be capable of carrying the heavy burden of correspondence which results when plans are being implemented."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Trinidad and Tobago, November 12, 1971)

___________________

*(See also: No. 546 Desirability of Easy Meetings of National Teaching Committee)


568. Regional Committees—Sub-Committees of National Teaching Committee

"...the Guardian has ... re-emphasized the necessity of avoiding overcentralization in the conduct of the affairs of the Cause, thereby relieving your Assembly of an unmanageable amount of detail and routine work, which would interfere with its clear and paramount duty of maintaining a thorough and vigilant supervision over the work of the Cause as a whole. Excessive de-centralization, on the other hand, would tend to nullify the principle which places ultimate authority and responsibility in the hands of the National Spiritual Assembly. His recent instruction regarding the relationship of the Regional Teaching Committees to the National Teaching Committee safeguards this principle which lies at the very basis of the Administrative Order. The Regional Committees, although appointed by the N.S.A., should, unlike all other Committees, be viewed as special adjuncts created specifically for the purpose of helping directly the National Teaching Committee in its all-important task of stimulating the teaching activities of the Faith.... In a sense they are sub-Committees of the National Teaching Committee, to whom their reports and all details of National Teaching activity should be constantly and directly referred."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, May 25, 1941)


569. Too Many Committees Confuse Rather Than Clarify the Work

"A National Teaching Committee, with the regional ones under it, will, he believes, run the work much better. Too many committees, like too many circulars, confuse rather than clarify the work."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, June 30, 1952)


570. Relationship of National Teaching Committee to Regional Teaching Committees

"Regarding the question of the relationship of the National Teaching Committee to the Regional Teaching Committees which you had raised in your last two letters: The Guardian has carefully noted your views on the subject, and while he feels that, as a matter of principle, the appointment of the Regional Committees should be entrusted to the N.S.A., their immediate supervision and control, he believes, directly concern the National Teaching Committee, which body is solely responsible for the organization and conduct of the teaching [173] campaign throughout the U.S.A. and Canada. The N.S.A. has certainly ultimate jurisdiction over all these Committees, whether national or regional, but should, in view of the ever-expanding teaching activities of the Cause ..., leave to the N.T.C. the task of supervising and coordinating the teaching work of the Regional Committees. The immediate responsibility of these Committees is thus to the N.T.C., which in turn is directly and solely responsible to the N.S.A."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, January 28, 1941)


571. Auxiliary Board Member Can Serve on Certain Special Committees

"The House of Justice feels that committees such as the administrative committee of the Baha'i International Health Agency, or committees responsible for aspects of social and economic development, which require professional expertise in their members, fall in a different category from other Baha'i committees. Believers who have the necessary professional skills are often in short supply, and therefore the House of Justice has no objection to Auxiliary Board members' serving on such committees at the present time—indeed it is often highly desirable that they do so—provided, of course, that such service does not so occupy their time and energies that they are unable to carry out their highly important services for the Auxiliary Board."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Canada, September 9, 1984)


572. Collaboration Between Auxiliary Board Members and National and Regional Teaching Committees

"It has become apparent that in some areas the progress of the teaching work requires closer collaboration between Auxiliary Board members and National or Regional Teaching Committees than heretofore. Following consultation with the International Teaching Centre on the matter, we have concluded that the possibilities provided by the present policy are adequate and that where a lack of collaboration has been felt it has arisen from an insufficiently full and frequent exchange of information between the institutions.


"While the members of the Auxiliary Boards and their assistants should never attempt to direct the work of committees or become involved in the administrative work associated with the committees' functions, it is absolutely vital that they be kept fully informed of the committees' activities and plans and their hopes for the work in the area. Only then can the members of the Auxiliary Boards be confident that the services to which they are exhorting the believers and the projects in which they are encouraging them are in harmony with the overall plans and objectives of the National Spiritual Assembly and its committees.


"The existing policy and the reasons for it were conveyed to the Continental Boards of Counsellors and all National Spiritual Assemblies in our letter of 1 October 1969, a copy of which is attached. It should be noted that under this policy it is permissible and highly desirable to have a direct and regular exchange of information between the committees and the Auxiliary Board members. Moreover, at the outset of the work of the year or at times during the year when new plans are being evolved, it is often helpful to arrange for consultations to be held between the Auxiliary Board members and the National or Regional Teaching Committees before such plans are finalized.


[174] "We are confident that a greater awareness of the importance of close collaboration between the two arms of the Administrative Order and of the ways available to achieve this will lead to a much-needed intensification of the teaching work in every land."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to all National Spiritual Assemblies, July 6, 1977)


573. National Youth Committee

"...if we say that no older person should take part in the organization of the youth it will be depriving them of the necessary experience needed to have a permanent and working institution.


"Shoghi Effendi believes that the best solution is to have some reasonable age limit for the actual membership of the body of the organization so that only the young people may take part in the different activities and have no older person usurp the floor or deprive them from their chances to train themselves, and express their ideas. At the same time the National Assembly could appoint on the National Committee that is to supervise their work some older and experienced persons who could co-operate with them and guide them in their activities. The National Committee should be composed of both people within the age limit and also older people."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, October 27, 1932)


574. Young Baha'is Under 21 May Serve on Committees

"The question of young Baha'is being permitted to serve on Committees other than the Youth Committee has been raised in a number of letters recently, and in considering the matter he felt that Baha'i young people under 21 should not be denied the privilege of Committee work. Though they cannot be voting members of Baha'i Communities (or exercise the electoral vote at all until they reach that age), and though they cannot, likewise, be elected to Assemblies, there is no reason why they should not serve the Cause on various Committees, as all Committees, National or Local, are subordinate to Assemblies, and their members are not elected but appointed, and appointed by Assemblies. We have many devoted and talented young believers who can be of great assistance to the Cause even though not yet legally of age."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, February 28, 1945)


575. Local Committees

"...regarding local Baha'i committees: These, though different in their functions enjoy equal rights, and are subject to responsibilities and obligations which, although varying in degree, are equally binding on them all.


"These local committees, being appointed by the Local Spiritual Assembly itself, are responsible to that body alone, and they can be dissolved, and their membership altered by it at any time. The local committees are the hands of the Spiritual Assembly that has appointed them ..., and as such are subject to its rulings."The Local Spiritual Assembly cannot delegate to any one of the local [175] committees the authority to exercise any control or supervision over any other committee or body which it has itself appointed. All local committees are directly and solely responsible to the Local Assembly which alone can exercise the power of supervision over them."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, February 16, 1939)


576. Structure of National and Regional Teaching Committees

"...Whether it be the body of their elected national representatives, or its chief auxiliary institution, the National Teaching Committee, or its subsidiary organs, the regional teaching committees, or the local Spiritual Assemblies and their respective teaching committees, they who labor for the spread of the Cause of Baha'u'llah should, through constant interchange of ideas, through letters, circulars, reports, bulletins and other means of communication with these established instruments designed for the propagation of the Faith, insure the smooth and speedy functioning of the teaching machinery of their Administrative Order. Confusion, delay, duplication of efforts, dissipation of energy will, thereby, be completely avoided, and the mighty flood of the grace of Baha'u'llah, flowing abundantly and without the least obstruction through these essential channels will so inundate the hearts and souls of men as to enable them to bring forth the harvest repeatedly predicted by 'Abdu'l-Baha."

(Shoghi Effendi: The Advent of Divine Justice, pp. 52-53, 1984 ed.)



XI. CONSULTATION


[176] 577. No Welfare, Well-Being Can Be Attained Except Through Consultation

"...Say: No man can attain his true station except through his justice. No power can exist except through unity. No welfare and no well-being can be attained except through consultation."

(Baha'u'llah: Consultation: A Compilation, p. 3, from a previously untranslated Tablet)


578. Consultation and Compassion

"...The heaven of divine wisdom is illumined with the two luminaries of consultation and compassion...."

(Baha'u'llah: Tablets of Baha'u'llah revealed after the Kitab-i-Aqdas, p. 126)


579. Consultation, Frank and Unfettered

"...Consultation, frank and unfettered, is the bedrock of this unique order. Authority is concentrated in the hands of the elected members of the National Assembly. Power and initiative are primarily vested in the entire body of the believers acting through their local representatives."

(From a postscript by the Guardian to a letter written on his behalf to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, November 18, 1933)


580. The Purpose of Consultation—Should the People of a Village Consult One Another...

"The purpose of consultation is to show that the views of several individuals are assuredly preferable to one man, even as the power of a number of men is of course greater than the power of one man. Thus consultation is acceptable in the presence of the Almighty, and hath been enjoined upon the believers, so that they may confer upon ordinary and personal matters, as well as on affairs which are general in nature and universal.


"For instance, when a man hath a project to accomplish, should he consult with some of his brethren, that which is agreeable will of course be investigated and unveiled to his eyes, and the truth will be disclosed. Likewise on a higher level, should the people of a village consult one another about their affairs, the right solution will certainly be revealed. In like manner, the members of each profession, such as in industry, should consult, and those in commerce should similarly consult on business affairs. In short, consultation is desirable and acceptable in all things and on all issues."

('Abdu'l-Baha: Consultation: A Compilation, quoted in the Guardian's letter to the National Spiritual Assembly of Persia, February 15, 1922, p. 8, Wilmette 1980 ed.)


581. Each Bosom Must Be a Telegraph Station

"Each bosom must be a telegraph station—one terminus of the wire attached to the soul, the other, fixed in the Supreme Concourse—so that inspiration may [177] descend from the Kingdom of Abha and questions of reality be discussed. Then opinions will coincide with truth; day by day there will be progression and the meetings become more radiant and spiritual. The attainment is conditioned upon unity and agreement. The more perfect the love and agreement, the more the divine confirmations and assistance of the Blessed Perfection will descend... In discussions look toward the reality without being self-opinionated. Let no one assert and insist upon his own mere opinion; nay, rather, let each investigate the reality with the greatest love and fellowship. Consult upon every matter and when one presents the point of view of the reality itself, that shall be acceptable to all. Then will spiritual unity increase among you, individual illumination will be greater, happiness more abundant and you will draw nearer and nearer to the Kingdom of God."

('Abdu'l-Baha: The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 183)


582. Any Person Can Refer a Matter to the Assembly

"Regarding consultation: Any person can refer a matter to the Assembly for consultation whether the other party wishes to or not. In matters which affect the Cause the Assembly should, if it deems it necessary, intervene even if both sides don't want it to, because the whole purpose of the Assemblies is to protect the Faith, the Communities and the individual Baha'is as well."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, October 17, 1944)


583. Every Member to Express Freely and Openly His Views

"But before the majority of the Assembly comes to a decision, it is not only the right but the sacred obligation of every member to express freely and openly his views, without being afraid of displeasing or alienating any of his fellow-members. In view of this important administrative principle of frank and open consultation, the Guardian would advise you to give up the method of asking other members to voice your opinion and suggestions. This indirect way of expressing your views to the Assembly not only creates an atmosphere of secrecy which is most alien to the spirit of the Cause, but would also lead to many misunderstandings and complications. The Assembly members must have the courage of their convictions, but must also express whole-hearted and unqualified obedience to the well-considered judgment and directions of the majority of their fellow-members."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, October 28, 1935 )


584. Abstaining Does Not Arise in Baha'i Voting

"It is important to realize that the spirit of Baha'i consultation is very different from that current in the decision-making processes of non-Baha'i bodies.


"The ideal of Baha'i consultation is to arrive at a unanimous decision. When this is not possible a vote must be taken. In the words of the beloved Guardian: '...when they are called upon to arrive at a certain decision, they should, after dispassionate, anxious and cordial consultation, turn to God in prayer, and with earnestness and conviction and courage record their vote and abide by the voice of majority, which we are told by the Master to be the voice of truth, never to be challenged, and always to be whole-heartedly enforced.'


[178] "As soon as a decision is reached it becomes the decision of the whole Assembly, not merely of those members who happened to be among the majority.


"When it is proposed to put a matter to the vote, a member of the Assembly may feel that there are additional facts or views which must be sought before he can make up his mind and intelligently vote on the proposition. He should express this feeling to the Assembly, and it is for the Assembly to decide whether or not further consultation is needed before voting.


"Whenever it is decided to vote on a proposition all that is required is to ascertain how many of the members are in favour of it; if this is a majority of those present, the motion is carried; if it is a minority, the motion is defeated. Thus the whole question of 'abstaining' does not arise in Baha'i voting. A member who does not vote in favour of a proposition is, in effect, voting against it, even if at the moment he himself feels that he has been unable to make up his mind on the matter."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Canada, March 6, 1970: Consultation: A Compilation, p. 12, February 1978)


585. Majority Decisions—Instances When Assembly May Decide that All Nine Members Must Be Present

"Concerning a majority decision, ordinarily, the majority referred to is the majority of those present at a particular Assembly meeting. In any event, the Assembly can take no action unless at least a quorum of the members is present. There may be instances, however, in which the Assembly may specify that before voting on particularly important questions all nine members of the Assembly should be present and participate in the consultation and voting. This is within the discretion of the Assembly to decide."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Mexico, July 22, 1984)


586. No Dissenting Votes in the Cause

"There are no dissenting votes in the Cause. When the majority of an Assembly decides a matter the minority, we are told by the Master, should accept this. To insist on having one's dissenting vote recorded is not good, and achieves no constructive end. We must learn to look upon the laws of the Cause and administrative principles and not the shortcomings of the individual members of an Assembly."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, March 19, 1950)


587. Suspend Consultation when Enmity and Threats Occur

"The honoured members of the Spiritual Assembly should exert their efforts so that no differences may occur, and if such differences do occur, they should not reach the point of causing conflict, hatred and antagonism, which lead to threats. When you notice that a stage has been reached when enmity and threats are about to occur, you should immediately postpone discussion of the subject, until wranglings, disputations, and loud talk vanish, and a propitious time is at hand."

('Abdu'l-Baha: Consultation: A Compilation, from a previously untranslated Tablet)


[179] 588. Take No Important Step in Personal Affairs Without Consultation

"Settle all things, both great and small, by consultation. Without prior consultation, take no important step in your own personal affairs. Concern yourselves with one another. Help along one another's projects and plans. Grieve over one another. Let none in the whole country go in need. Befriend one another until ye become as a single body, one and all...."

('Abdu'l-Baha: Ibid.)


589. When a Believer Has a Problem Several Courses Open to Him

"Your letter of 14th February 1973 enquiring about the uses of Baha'i consultation has been received.


"This is, of course, a matter in which rigidity should be avoided.


"When a believer has a problem concerning which he must make a decision, he has several courses open to him. If it is a matter that affects the interests of the Faith he should consult with the appropriate Assembly or committee, but individuals have many problems which are purely personal and there is no obligation upon them to take such problems to the institutions of the Faith; indeed, when the needs of the teaching work are of such urgency it is better if the friends will not burden their Assemblies with personal problems that they can solve by themselves.


"A Baha'i who has a problem may wish to make his own decision upon it after prayer and after weighing all the aspects of it in his own mind; he may prefer to seek the counsel of individual friends or of professional counsellors such as his doctor or lawyer so that he can consider such advice when making his decision; or in a case where several people are involved, such as a family situation, he may want to gather together those who are affected so that they may arrive at a collective decision. There is also no objection whatever to a Baha'i asking a group of people to consult together on a problem facing him.


"It should be borne in mind that all consultation is aimed at arriving at a solution to a problem and is quite different from the sort of group baring of the soul that is popular in some circles these days and which borders on the kind of confession that is forbidden in the Faith. On the subject of confession the Guardian's secretary wrote on his behalf to an individual believer: 'We are forbidden to confess to any person, as do the Catholics to their priests, our sins and shortcomings, or to do so in public, as some religious sects do. However, if we spontaneously desire to acknowledge we have been wrong in something, or that we have some fault of character, and ask another person's forgiveness or pardon, we are quite free to do so. The Guardian wants to point out, however, that we are not obliged to do so. It rests entirely with the individual.'"

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Canada, March 19, 1973: Consultation: A Compilation, pp. 12-13)


590. Assembly Cannot Require a Member to Absent Himself from Consultation

"In your letter of 4 April you enquire further about the principles governing the presence of a member of the National Assembly when a matter concerning him or her personally is being discussed.


"The first principle to bear in mind is that every member of an Assembly has an absolute and incontrovertible right to be present at every meeting of that [180] body and to be fully informed of every matter coming before it.


"The second principle is that of detachment in consultation. The members of an Assembly must learn to express their views frankly, calmly, without passion or rancour. They must also learn to listen to the opinions of their fellow members without taking offence or belittling the views of another. Baha'i consultation is not an easy process. It requires love, kindliness, moral courage and humility. Thus no member should ever allow himself to be prevented from expressing frankly his view because it may offend a fellow member; and, realizing this, no member should take offence at another member's statements.


"The third principle is that if a believer feels that he has been done an injustice by the Assembly, he should appeal the decision in the normal way."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Italy, August 26, 1965)


591. A Member May Wish to Absent Himself While Own Situation Being Discussed

"We note that ... left the room while the National Assembly discussed ways and means of helping her. Naturally, if one wishes to absent himself while his own situation is being discussed by the National Assembly, there is no objection. The National Assembly cannot require a member to remove himself from the consultation, and he is fully entitled to remain."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Italy, February 23, 1965)


"It should also be understood that a member may wish to absent himself from a meeting at which subjects in which he is personally involved are to be discussed. In such cases he may do so unless the Assembly requires him to be present."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the International Teaching Centre, January 22, 1975)


592. Frank, Full, Unprejudiced Consultation Must Govern Work

"There cannot be in our Faith any room for the political maneuverings so common to the outside world. Frankness, full unprejudiced consultation, must govern all Assembly and committee work, and anything less than this is not only unworthy of a Baha'i, but a direct disobedience to the Master's instructions and a sign of lack of faith."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, November 29, 1948)



XII. THE COVENANT



A. Baha'i Covenant


[181] 593. The Baha'i Covenant

"As regards the meaning of the Baha'i Covenant: The Guardian considers the existence of two forms of Covenant both of which are explicitly mentioned in the literature of the Cause. First is the covenant that every Prophet makes with humanity or, more definitely, with His people that they will accept and follow the coming Manifestation Who will be the reappearance of His reality. The second form of covenant is such as the one Baha'u'llah made with His people that they should accept the Master. This is merely to establish and strengthen the succession of the series of Lights that appear after every Manifestation. Under the same category falls the covenant the Master made with the Baha'is that they should accept His administration after Him..."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual, October 21, 1921)


"The Most Great Covenant is different from the Everlasting Covenant."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, November 19, 1945: Baha'i News, No. 210, August 1948 p. 3)


594. Firmness in the Covenant—"Be He an Insignificant Ant..."

"...Rest ye assured that if a soul ariseth in the utmost perseverance and raiseth the Call of the Kingdom and resolutely promulgateth the Covenant, be he an insignificant ant he shall be enabled to drive away the formidable elephant from the arena, and if he be a feeble moth he shall cut to pieces the plumage of the rapacious vulture."

('Abdu'l-Baha: Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Baha, p. 209)


595. The Crimson Book

"...what Baha'u'llah did not elaborate but what He meant by the 'word' recorded in the Crimson Book was the power of the Covenant.

"The Crimson Book refers to the Book of His Covenant, and the reference above means the power for unity which the Covenant possesses and radiates. On page 238 of God Passes By you will find the cross-reference to the Crimson Book and the Epistle to the Son of the Wolf."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, January 5, 1948: Baha'i News, No. 210, August 1948, p. 3)


596. Regarding Covenant Entered into on Mount Paran

"As for the reference in The Hidden Words regarding the Covenant entered into on Mount Paran, this signifieth that in the sight of God the past, the present and the future are all one and the same—whereas, relative to man, the past is gone and forgotten, the present is fleeting, and the future is within the realm [182] of hope. And it is a basic principle of the Law of God that in every Prophetic Mission, He entereth into a Covenant with all believers—a Covenant that endureth until the end of that Mission, until the promised day when the Personage stipulated at the outset of the Mission is made manifest. Consider Moses, He Who conversed with God. Verily, upon Mount Sinai, Moses entered into a Covenant regarding the Messiah, with all those souls who would live in the day of the Messiah. And those souls, although they appeared many centuries after Moses, were nevertheless—so far as the Covenant, which is outside time, was concerned—present there with Moses. The Jews, however, were heedless of this and remembered it not, and thus they suffered a great and clear loss."

('Abdu'l-Baha: Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Baha, p. 207)


597. To Withstand Tests Believers Need to be Deepened in the Covenant

"...the believers need to be deepened in their knowledge and appreciation of the Covenants of both Baha'u'llah and 'Abdu'l-Baha. This is the stronghold of the faith of every Baha'i, and that which enables him to withstand every test and the attacks of the enemies outside the Faith, and the far more dangerous, insidious, lukewarm people inside the Faith who have no real attachment to the Covenant, and consequently uphold the intellectual aspect of the teachings while at the same time undermining the spiritual foundation upon which the whole Cause of God rests.

"He feels you and your dear family should do all you can to teach the believers the Will and Testament and to strengthen their understanding of its important provisions; for all the authority of the administrative bodies, as well as of the Guardian himself, is mainly derived from this tremendous document."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, April 15, 1949)


598. The Will and Testament of 'Abdu'l-Baha—Needs a Century to Comprehend

"The contents of the Will of the Master is far too much for the present generation to comprehend. It needs at least a century of actual working before the treasures of wisdom hidden in it can be revealed. How can we at this stage and with our limited understanding denounce its spirit and purport."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, March 25, 1930)


599. The Will and Testament Safeguards the Unity of the Cause

"What he considers, however, to be now of the utmost importance is for the believers, each and all, to cling firmly to the provisions of our beloved Master's Will and Testament, as by this means alone the unity of the Cause, and its safe and speedy growth can be maintained, safeguarded and insured. Such an absolute and unwavering fidelity to 'Abdu'l-Baha's Will, and firm adherence to the principles of the Administrative Order is indeed incumbent upon every one of the friends, without any distinction whatever. Upon this basis alone the Faith can be safeguarded and flourish."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, July 18, 1938)


[183] 600. Speaking Against the Covenant

"My purpose is to explain to you that it is your duty to guard the religion of God so that none shall be able to assail it outwardly or inwardly. If you find harmful teachings are being set forth by some individual no matter who that individual be, even though he should be my own son, know verily that I am completely severed from him. If anyone speaks against the Covenant, even though he be my own son, know that I am opposed to him. Those who speak falsehoods, who covet worldly things and seek to accumulate the riches of this earth are not of me. But when you find a person living up to the teachings of Baha'u'llah, following the precepts of the Hidden Words, know that he belongs to Baha'u'llah and verily I proclaim that he is of me..."

('Abdu'l-Baha: The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 456-457)



B. Covenant-Breakers—Expulsion


601. Covenant-Breakers, Defined

"People who have withdrawn from the Cause because they no longer feel that they can support its Teachings and Institutions sincerely, are not Covenant-breakers—they are non-Baha'is and should just be treated as such. Only those who ally themselves actively with known enemies of the Faith who are Covenant-breakers, and who attack the Faith in the same spirit as these people, can be considered, themselves, to be Covenant-breakers. As you know, up to the present time, no one has been permitted to pronounce anybody a Covenant-breaker but the Guardian* himself."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of Canada, March 30, 1957)

___________________

*(Now the Universal House of Justice)


602. Covenant-Breaking is a Spiritual Disease

"...Covenant-breaking is truly a spiritual disease, and the whole view-point and attitude of a Covenant-breaker is so poisonous that the Master likened it to leprosy, and warned the friends to breathe the same air was dangerous. This should not be taken literally; He meant when you are close enough to breathe the same air you are close enough to contact their corrupting influence. Your sister should never imagine she, loyal and devoted, has become a 'carrier'."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, July 29, 1946)


603. Covenant-Breaking Like Contagious Consumption and Cancer

"...Thou hadst asked some questions; that why the blessed and spiritual souls, who are firm and steadfast, shun the company of degenerate persons. This is because, that just as the bodily diseases like consumption and cancer are contagious, likewise the spiritual diseases are also infectious. If a consumptive should associate with a thousand safe and healthy persons, the safety and health of these thousand persons would not affect the consumptive and would not cure him of his consumption. But when this consumptive associates with those [184] thousand souls, in a short time the disease of consumption will infect a number of those healthy persons. This is a clear and self-evident question."

('Abdu'l-Baha: Tablet to an individual believer, October 1921: Star of the West, Vol. XII, No. 14, p. 233)


604. Afflicted with Contagious Spiritual Disease

"Regarding Mr. ... question about the Covenant-breakers, Baha'u'llah and the Master in many places and very emphatically have told us to shun entirely all Covenant-breakers as they are afflicted with what we might try and define as a contagious spiritual disease; they have also told us, however, to pray for them. These souls are not lost forever. In the Aqdas, Baha'u'llah says that God will forgive Mirza Yahya if he repents. It follows, therefore, that God will forgive any soul if he repents. Most of them don't want to repent, unfortunately. If the leaders can be forgiven it goes without saying that their followers can also be forgiven.


"Also, it has nothing to do with unity in the Cause; if a man cuts a cancer out of his body to preserve his health and very life, no one would suggest that for the sake of unity it should be reintroduced into the otherwise healthy organism. On the contrary, what was once a part of him has so radically changed as to have become a poison."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, November 30, 1944: Principles of Baha'i Administration, pp. 22-23)


605. Association with Non-Baha'is Who Are in Association with Covenant-Breakers

"We have your letter of 14th March 1970 asking whether it is forbidden for the friends to associate with non-Baha'is who are in close association with Covenant-Breakers.


"There are no hard and fast rules about such things. Under some conditions the involvement of the non-Baha'i party may be superficial and harmless, in which case no action should be taken. For example, Baha'is have at times used non-Baha'is, such as lawyers, to contact Covenant-breakers in certain matters of business.


"If, however, the Covenant-breaker is using the non-Baha'i party to spread his ideas among the friends, the matter should be reported to the Continental Board of Counsellors, and whatever they decide in such cases in consultation with the National Spiritual Assemblies concerned should be unreservedly accepted by the friends."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Ecuador, April 2, 1970)


606. Enemies of the Faith

"Now some of the mischief-makers, with many stratagems, are seeking leadership, and in order to reach this position they instill doubts among the friends that they may cause differences, and that these differences may result in their drawing a party to themselves. But the friends of God must be awake and must know that the scattering of these doubts hath as its motive personal desires and the achievement of leadership."

('Abdu'l-Baha: Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Baha, p. 214)



C. Believers Forbidden to Associate with Covenant-Breakers


[185] 607. Ex-Communication

"Ex-communication is a spiritual thing.... Only actual enemies of the Cause are ex-communicated. On the other hand, those who conspicuously disgrace the Faith or refuse to abide by its laws can be deprived, as a punishment, of their voting rights; this in itself is a severe action, and he therefore always urges all National Assemblies (who can take such action) to first warn and repeatedly warn the evil-doer before taking the step of depriving him of his voting rights. He feels your Assembly must act with the greatest wisdom in such matters, and only impose this sanction if a believer is seriously injuring the Faith in the eyes of the public through his conduct or flagrantly breaking the laws of God. If such a sanction were lightly used the friends would come to attach no importance to it, or to feel the N.S.A. used it every time they got angry with some individual's disobedience to them. We must always remember that, sad and often childish as it seems, some of those who make the worst nuisances of themselves to their National Bodies are often very loyal believers, who think they are protecting the true interests of their Faith by attacking N.S.A. decisions!"

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of India, May 8, 1948)


608. No One Has the Right to See Covenant-Breakers Without Permission

"No one has any right to see the Covenant-Breakers without the permission of the N.S.A., and Mrs. ... in doing so should realize she is putting herself in contact with a dangerous, contagious, spiritual disease, as the Master pointed out over and over again! She is also disobeying express instructions of the Master and the Guardian by contacting Covenant-Breakers."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to two individual believers, May 5, 1947)


609. Baha'is Cannot Associate with Those Who Have Left the Cause and Are Associating with Covenant-Breakers

"There is no excuse for believers continuing to associate with ... and those who, knowing everything, still insist on doing so, should be shunned by their fellow-Baha'is. The same applies to people who have left the Cause and associate with.... The point is that if the believers know and meet with people who are acquainted with Covenant-breakers there is no harm in this, for such individuals are not Baha'is and have nothing to do with the issues concerned. But those who have left the Cause, knowing all about such matters, and deliberately associate with Covenant-breakers, are well aware of what they do, and we must not associate with them at all. It is for the Local Assembly, guided by the N.S.A., to enforce such decisions and protect the Cause in its area of jurisdiction.


"The friends should, without too much dwelling on these negative things, be made to understand that some people are spiritually sick and that their disease is, alas, contagious. Some recover from it, as did Mr. ... whose heart could not rest till he returned to the fold; others do not. The Master and Baha'u'llah have taught us that associating with these souls is not likely to heal them at [186] all, but on the contrary exposes one to grave danger of contagion. The history of the Faith has proved this over and over again. The only way we can prove to such people that they are wrong is to censure their conduct; if we sympathise with them we only fortify their perversity and waywardness."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, January 23, 1945)


610. Baha'i May Remain at Non-Baha'i Meeting if Covenant-Breaker Appears

"With regard to avoiding association with declared Covenant-breakers. Shoghi Effendi says that this does not mean that if one or more of these attends a non-Baha'i meeting any Baha'is present should feel compelled to leave the meeting or to refuse to take part in the meeting, especially if that part has been prearranged. Also if in the course of some business transaction it should become necessary to negotiate with one of these people, in order to clear up the business, that is permissible, provided the association is confined to the matter of the business in hand. It is different if one of these people should come to Baha'i meeting. Then it would become necessary to ask him in a most tactful and dignified way to leave the meeting as Baha'is are forbidden to associate with him."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, May 16, 1925)


611. Personal Relations with Covenant-Breakers

"To read the writings of Covenant-breakers is not forbidden to the believers and does not constitute in itself an act of Covenant-breaking. Indeed, some of the Baha'is have the unpleasant duty to read such literature as part of their responsibilities for protecting the Cause of Baha'u'llah. However, the friends are warned in the strongest terms against reading such literature because Covenant-breaking is a spiritual poison and the calumnies and distortions of the truth which the Covenant-breakers give out are such that they can undermine the faith of the believer and plant the seeds of doubt unless he is forearmed with an unshakable belief in Baha'u'llah and His Covenant and a knowledge of the true facts.


"Personal relations with Covenant-breakers, however, such as personal contact or entering into correspondence with one is strictly forbidden. In this connection, however, it is important to remember two qualifications:


"First, the civil rights of Covenant-breakers must be scrupulously upheld. For example, if a Baha'i owes a debt to a person who breaks the Covenant he must be sure that it is repaid and that his obligations are met.


"Secondly, although the believers are required to avoid, if possible, all contact with Covenant-breakers it sometimes happens that contact on business matters cannot be avoided. For example, in one city the head of the rate collection department was a Covenant-breaker. In such situations the believers should restrict their contact with the Covenant-breaker to a purely formal business level and to an absolute minimum."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly, October 29, 1974)


[187] 612. All Covenant-Breakers Regardless of Nature of Disobedience Must Be Treated in Exactly the Same Manner

"Reference is made to your letter of April 8th in which you ask: 'Does a disciplinary action for disobedience to the Guardian carry the same implications as Covenant-breaking of an ideological order?' There is no distinction between the two concepts. All Covenant-breakers, regardless of the nature of their disobedience to the Covenant should be treated in exactly the same manner."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, July 19, 1964)


613. Opposition Due to Ignorance or Lack of Proper Training is Not Covenant-Breaking

"Whenever we find a person who opposes some fundamental of our Faith, such as the Institution of the Guardianship, we must first be sure this is not due to ignorance or lack of proper training, before we take action. We must not suppose immediately that that person is necessarily tainted by the spirit of the Covenant-Breakers. If, however, this should prove to be the case, then strong action must be taken by the Assembly."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, June 24, 1948)


614. Role of Auxiliary Board Member for Protection*

"The need to protect the Faith from the attacks of its enemies, both within and outside the Faith, is not generally appreciated by the friends, particularly in the West where such attacks have so far been intermittent. One of the vital functions of the Protection Boards is the deepening of the friends' knowledge of the Covenant and increasing their love and loyalty to it, and fostering the spirit of love and unity within the Baha'i community."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Venezuela, October 1, 1979)

___________________

*(See also: No. 1112)


615. God's Mercy Exceeds His Justice

"...we believe that God's Mercy exceeds His Justice, and that through the repentance of a soul, the prayers and supplications of other souls, and the goodness of God, even a person who has passed away in great spiritual darkness can be forgiven, educated spiritually in the next world and progress.


"Owing to ...'s deliberate choice in leaving the Guardian to join the Covenant-breakers, and in his continuous association with them, it is evident he certainly has a spiritual disease."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, February 7, 1947)


616. To Be the Enemy of the Enemies of God is Good Characteristic

"To be the enemy of the enemies of God is a good characteristic. We are not against them personally, just as any intelligent man is not personally against a man who has a dangerous contagious disease. But he carefully isolates the sick individual so that the contagion will not spread. So we shun the spiritually sick, wishing for their cure, but keeping clear of them. You are right to take a firm stand regarding Orientals. One would think that world events would be opening the eyes of the Americans [188] to certain unreliable and mischievous characteristics of nationals of the Middle East."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, November 22, 1951)


617. It is Better to be Too Vigilant Than to be Too Lax

"The Guardian feels that your attitude of vigilance and intense loyalty is quite right. In such matters as the Covenant it is far better to be too vigilant than too lax. However, he does not feel Mr. ... is lacking in firmness and Faith. Many of the Baha'is, ... while loyal to the Cause and the Guardian, do not fully grasp the implications of the Master's Will and the full station of the Guardians of the Cause. They need to study more deeply the spiritual side of the Teachings and the Will itself. And this he has advised the ... to do."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, July 5, 1949)


618. Possibly No Group Have Softer Tongues Than the Covenant-Breakers

"...It is a pity that some of the Western friends, with remarkable naivete, do not grasp the fact that there is absolutely nothing keeping those who have broken the Covenant, whether Baha'u'llah's or the Master's, out of the Cause of God except their own inner spiritually sick condition. If they were sound, instead of diseased, and wanted to enter the service of our Faith, they would apply direct to the Guardian, and he would be able to adjudge of their sincerity and, if sincere, would welcome them into the ranks of the faithful as he did with Sydney Sprague. Unfortunately a man who is ill is not made well just by asserting there is nothing wrong with him! Facts, actual states, are what count. Probably no group of people in the world have softer tongues, or proclaim more loudly their innocence, than those who in their heart of hearts, and by their every act, are enemies of the Center of the Covenant. The Master well knew this, and that is why He said we must shun their company, but pray for them. If you put a leper in a room with healthy people, he cannot catch their health; on the contrary they are very likely to catch his horrible ailment."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, April 11, 1949)


619. National Assembly Should Consider Itself as Committee of Vigilance

"He feels that your Assembly should redouble its vigilance, in fact he feels that the National Assembly should consider itself, aside from its other duties, as a Committee of Vigilance to watch over the Faith and protect it from its internal enemies, and from the constantly carried on and insidious activities...."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, September 21, 1957)


620. Baha'is Need More Than Anything Else in the World Deeper Understanding Covenants of Baha'u'llah and Master

"The Guardian has been considerably disturbed by the inharmony that has arisen in... He feels that what the ... Baha'is need—and must have—more than anything else in the world is a far deeper understanding of the Covenants of both Baha'u'llah and the Master. This is the rock-foundation without which no [189] sound super-structure can be built. Neither the administration, nor the general teaching work of the Cause ..., will progress, or be able to accomplish anything, unless the believers are truly firm, deep, spiritually convinced Baha'is. An intellectual grasp of the Teachings is purely superficial; with the first real test such believers are shaken from the bough! But once a Baha'i has the profound conviction of the authority from God, vested in the Prophet, passed on to the Master, and by Him, to the Guardians, and which flows out through the Assemblies and creates order based on obedience—once a Baha'i has this, nothing can shake him. He, therefore, urges you, and the other members of the ..., to devote as much time as you possibly can, to educating the believers in the Covenant."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, April 11, 1949)



D. Expulsion and Reinstatement; Protection Responsibilities; Books Written by Enemies of the Faith


621. Expulsion of Covenant-Breakers

"The authority of expulsion and reinstatement will be exercised by the Hands of the Cause of God, subject in each instance to the approval of the Universal House of Justice."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the Continental Board of Counsellors, June 24, 1968)


622. Protection Specific Function of the Hands of the Cause

"...although the Hands of the Cause of God have the specific functions of protection and propagation, and are specialized for these functions, it is also the duty of the Universal House of Justice and the Spiritual Assemblies to protect and teach the Cause—indeed teaching is a sacred obligation placed upon every believer by Baha'u'llah."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, May 27, 1966: Wellspring of Guidance, p. 86)


623. Expulsion and Reinstatement

"Authority for the expulsion and reinstatement of Covenant-breakers remains with the Hands of the Cause of God. All such matters will be investigated locally by the relative Continental Board of Counsellors in consultation with any Hand or Hands who may be in the area. The Continental Board of Counsellors and the Hands concerned will then make their reports to the International Teaching Center where they will be considered. The decision whether or not to expel or reinstate will be made by the Hands of the Cause residing in the Holy Land who will, as at present, submit their decision to the Universal House of Justice for approval."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the Baha'is of the World, June 8, 1973)


624. Accomplishments to be Attained with the Covenant of the Everlasting Father

"The progress of the Cause of God gathers increasing momentum and we may [190] with confidence look forward to the day when this Community, in God's good time, shall have traversed the stages predicated for it by its Guardian, and shall have raised on this tormented planet the fair mansions of God's Own Kingdom wherein humanity may find surcease from its self-induced confusion and chaos and ruin, and the hatreds and violence of this time shall be transmuted into an abiding sense of world brotherhood and peace. All this shall be accomplished within the Covenant of the everlasting Father, the Covenant of Baha'u'llah."

(From the message of the Universal House of Justice to Baha'is of the World, Ridvan 1973)


625. Course on Covenant-Breaking Should Be Included in Summer School Curriculum

"...and your Assembly cannot be too careful or vigilant in watching over the Community seeking out the sources of corruption and protecting the friends. He feels that a course on Covenant-breaking should be included in the Summer School curriculum, so that the friends may understand the nature of this evil, and how it has affected our Faith for one hundred years, and other Faiths in the past. The American Baha'is, aside from the older ones, do not seem to have any concept whatsoever of what a Covenant-breaker is, and the place to educate them in these matters is in the Summer Schools and on other occasions when they meet in large numbers."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, September 21, 1957)


626. Should Not Accept Contributions from Those Who Lose Voting Rights: They Can Be Buried in Baha'i Cemetery, Receive Charity

"...As contributions to Baha'i funds are used to support the administration of the Faith, they should not be accepted from those who are deprived of their voting rights; but such believers, should not be prevented from being buried in a Baha'i cemetery or receiving charity—which we even give to non-Baha'is—if in dire need."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, May 8, 1947 to the National Spiritual Assembly of India: Dawn of a New Day, p. 123)


627. Literature Written by Enemies of the Faith

"In reply to your letter of September 20, 1975, the Universal House of Justice instructs us to say that the friends should be advised to ignore these books and any similar ones which might be written by enemies of the Faith. There should certainly be no attempt made to destroy or remove such books from libraries. On the other hand there is no need at all for the friends to acquire them and, indeed, the best plan is to ignore them entirely."

(Referring to books by Hermann Zimmer and William Miller. Letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Panama, October 2, 1975)


628. Books by Unenlightened Enemies of the Cause

"It is better not to read books by Covenant-breakers because they are haters of the Light, sufferers from a spiritual leprosy, so to speak. But books by well [191] meaning yet unenlightened enemies of the Cause can be read so as to refute their charges."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, March 19, 1945: Guidelines for Local Spiritual Assemblies, pp. 107-108)


629. Obedience to the Center of the Covenant

"...whosoever obeys the Center of the Covenant appointed by Baha'u'llah has obeyed Baha'u'llah, and whosoever disobeys Him has disobeyed Baha'u'llah...."

('Abdu'l-Baha: The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 323)



XIII. DEATH



A. Wills


[192] 630. Every Baha'i is Encouraged to Make a Will and Testament

"In the 'Kitab-i-Aqdas' Baha'u'llah has stated: 'It is incumbent upon everyone to write his testament. It behooveth him to adorn its heading with the Most Great Name, to testify therein to the oneness of God as manifested in the Day-Spring of His revelation and to set forth such good deeds as he may wish to be realized, that these may stand as his testimony in the worlds of Revelation and of Creation and be as a treasure stored up with his Lord, the Protector, the Trusted One.'"

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly, September 4, 1982)


631. By Preparing a Legal Will, the Believer Can Dispose of His Estate as He Chooses, Within Limits of Law

"According to the Teachings of Baha'u'llah, the making of a will is essentially an obligation of the individual Baha'i. Each believer is free to dispose of his estate in whatever manner he chooses, within the limits imposed by civil law and after payment of burial expenses and other debts and obligations. There are several ways a believer can leave instructions regarding his burial; there is no objection for such instructions to be included in the will, if the law permits, and the believer so wishes."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Bolivia, October 1, 1980)


632. Neither National nor Local Assembly Should Be Named Executor, if the Institution So Prefers

"Should a believer express a desire to make a bequest to a National or Local Spiritual Assembly, you may furnish information as to the correct name and address of such institution, and you are free to inform those who ask that neither the National or Local Spiritual Assemblies should be named as executor of a will."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Hawaiian Islands, January 14, 1971)


633. Baha'is Should Make Their Will Specifying the Desire for a Baha'i Funeral—Should Inform the Assembly and the Non-Baha'i Relatives

"The friends should be strongly advised to make wills specifying that they want their funerals to be conducted under the auspices of the Baha'i Faith or at least in conformity with its requirements and they should make this known both to the Local Spiritual Assembly and to their own relatives, while they are still alive. [193] In this way it is quite possible that agreements may be reached with non-Baha'i relatives before death takes place."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of France, August 18, 1972)


634. The Spiritual Assembly Must Carefully Consider Bequest of the Testator—Unreasonable Demands May Be Refused

"In the eyes of Baha'i law a will is sacred and thus, when a testator makes a bequest to a Spiritual Assembly and attaches thereto certain duties and conditions, the Assembly has the responsibility to fulfil them. However, if the will imposes an unreasonable financial burden or a condition which could become an unreasonable financial burden, or if fulfilment of the conditions would be prejudicial to the best interests of the Faith, the Assembly may have no alternative to refusing the bequest, for if it accepts the bequest it is in honour bound to fulfil the conditions."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Germany, January 10, 1978)


635. A Provision in the Will Contrary to Baha'i Law Should Be Declared Null and Void by the Assembly

"On the other hand, if the testator, being a Baha'i, makes a provision in his will that is contrary to Baha'i law (e.g., to bury his remains in a place more than one hour's journey from the place of death), that provision is null and void in Baha'i law and the Assembly must not fulfil it even if failure to do so would cause the bequest to be revoked in civil law. If failure to fulfil such a condition does not cancel the bequest in civil law, the Assembly is not required to refuse the bequest as it would have to do in the case of failure to fulfil a valid condition."

(Ibid.)


636. Baha'is Are Free to Formulate Provisions of Their Wills—We Are Not Permitted to Challenge Provisions of Another's Will

"Shoghi Effendi urged Local Spiritual Assemblies to admonish the friends not to overlook the importance of wills. In letters written on his behalf we find the following important points.


1. The friends are free to formulate the provisions of their wills as they please, and the Spiritual Assembly has the obligation to support and enforce these provisions unless, of course, they are in conflict with the principles of the Faith.


2. While it is appropriate and advisable for the friends to deposit a copy of their wills with the Spiritual Assembly, they should not be required to do so, but should be left free in this matter.


3. It is not necessary for the Spiritual Assembly to publish the text of a 'model' will. Each believer should compose his will according to his own wish.


"Other points to remember are that an individual is entirely free to leave his or her possessions as he wishes, provided all his debts are paid, and provided there are no legal limits on the freedom of individuals to bequeath their property. A person's will is sacred and therefore a Baha'i is not permitted to challenge the provisions of another's will. The civil law in relation to the making of wills is sometimes quite [194] complex. It is, therefore, highly advisable for an individual to consult a lawyer when he makes his will to ensure that his intention is not nullified by some possible breach of the requirements of the law in the drawing up or execution of the will. It is also highly desirable for a Baha'i to take steps during his lifetime to ensure that he will be given a funeral in accordance with Baha'i law and that his remains be not cremated. It may be possible to include such a provision in the will, or some other procedure may need to be followed, depending upon the civil law."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly, September 4, 1986)



B. Burial Laws


637. Forbidden to Carry Body More Than an Hour's Distance

"...It is forbidden you to transport the body of the deceased a greater distance than one hour's journey from the city; rather should it be interred, with radiance and serenity, in a nearby place."

(Baha'u'llah: The Kitab-i-Aqdas, K. 130, p. 66)


"QUESTION: Is the ordinance that the body of the deceased should be carried no greater distance than one hour's journey applicable to transport by both land and sea?


"ANSWER: This command applieth to distances by sea as well as by land, whether it is an hour by steamship or by rail; the intention is the hour's time, whatever the means of transport. The sooner the burial taketh place, however, the more fitting and acceptable will it be."

(Baha'u'llah: The Kitab-i-Aqdas, Questions and Answers, Q. 16, pp. 111-112)


638. Burial Law Binding on Believers in the West

"As to the law of burial, the Universal House of Justice suggests that you confine your statement to the following parts of this law which are now binding on the believers in the West:


(1) That the body must be buried, not cremated.


(2) That the Prayer for the Dead is to be recited for a believer of the age of 15 years or over. This, as you know, is the prayer which appears as number CLXVII in Prayers and Meditations by Baha'u'llah.


(3) That the body not be transported more than an hour's journey from the place of death. The method of transport is not specified, but the journey must not take longer than one hour."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Ecuador, December 3, 1975)


639. Preparation for Burial—Embalming Not Permitted

"Regarding the questions which you ask, concerning Baha'i burials ..., etc. At the present time, the Guardian is not stressing these matters, as their establishment might divert attention to the supreme tasks we have before us. However, the answers are as follows: Under the Baha'i teachings it seems clear that the body is not to be embalmed. The burial should take place within an hour's travel time from the place of death. The preparation for the body for [195] burial is a careful washing, and placing in a shroud of white cloth, silk preferably. There is nothing in the teachings with regard to turning the body over to scientific institutions for scientific research, and therefore the individual may do as he wishes, until such a time as the Universal House of Justice may legislate on this matter, if they ever do. The practice in the Orient, is to bury the person within 24 hours of the time of death; sometimes even sooner; although there is no provision in the teachings as to the time limit."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, April 2, 1955)


640. Baha'i Burial Law—Coffin Should Be of Crystal, Stone or Wood

"In brief, the Baha'i law for the burial of the dead states that it is forbidden to carry the body for more than one hour's journey from the place of death; that the body should be wrapped in a shroud of silk or cotton, and on its finger should be placed a ring bearing the inscription 'I came forth from God, and return unto Him, detached from all save Him, holding fast to His Name, the Merciful, the Compassionate'; and that the coffin should be of crystal, stone or hard fine wood. A specific Prayer for the Dead (see note 10) is ordained, to be said before interment. As affirmed by 'Abdu'l-Baha and the Guardian, this law precludes cremation of the dead. The formal prayer and the ring are meant to be used for those who have attained the age of maturity, i.e., 15 years of age...."

(Baha'u'llah: The Kitab-i-Aqdas, Notes, N. 149, p. 229)


641. Foetus to be Treated With Respect, No Matter How Young

"From a Baha'i point of view, the soul is present from conception and therefore the foetus, no matter how young, should not be treated with disrespect and carelessly discarded into an incinerator, if this can be prevented. The House of Justice knows of nothing in the Writings specifically referring to the burial of embryos, and, in previous instances, has left such details to the discretion of the parents. In one case it was reported to the World Centre that the parents had buried the foetus in a corner of their own garden and had said a few prayers for the progress of their child's soul."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, September 6, 1987)


642. Cremation is Contrary to Baha'i Law—Baha'i Relatives and the Spiritual Assembly Are Responsible

"As was explained to your Assembly in a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice on 10 January 1978, if a Baha'i makes a provision in his will that is contrary to Baha'i law, that provision is null and void in Baha'i law, and neither the Baha'i relatives nor the Spiritual Assembly are permitted to fulfil it. Thus, if a Baha'i states in his will that his remains are to be cremated he should, nevertheless, be buried in accordance with Baha'i law unless there is some element of the civil law would prevent such an occurrence—in which case the civil law would have to be followed, but the Assembly, as indicated above, could take no part in it...."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Germany, December 9, 1984)


[196] 643. In Case of Death at Sea, Maritime Law is Applicable—Burial on Land is Preferable

"The laws of burial as revealed by Baha'u'llah in the Kitab-i-Aqdas do not refer to the occurrence of death at sea. Until such time as the Universal House of Justice legislates on these matters, the friends when faced with such incidents should be guided by whatever civil or maritime law is applicable under the circumstances. Should land be reached, however, obviously the body must be buried on land in the nearest suitable place."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual, quoted in a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of New Zealand, October 20, 1974)


"Baha'i laws of burial do not refer to burial at sea and the House of Justice has not yet legislated on the matter. However, it is preferable that Baha'i burial should take place on land whenever this is possible."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, December 23, 1985)


644. Believer Should Ensure that He Will Be Buried According to Baha'i Law

"The friends should certainly be informed of the Baha'i laws relating to burial and encouraged to do all they can to ensure that after their passing they are buried according to Baha'i law. It is not always possible to ensure this by stating it in a Will and Assemblies should consult upon the matter, taking legal advice if necessary, and make the best arrangements possible to enable the Baha'is in their care to be buried in the Baha'i way."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly, December 31, 1972)


645. Enfolding the Body of the Deceased

"In the Bayan, the Bab specified that the body of the deceased should be wrapped in five sheets of silk or cotton. Baha'u'llah confirmed this provision and added the stipulation that for 'those whose means are limited a single sheet of either fabric will suffice'.

"When asked whether the 'five sheets' mentioned in the law referred to 'five full-length shrouds' or 'five cloths which were hitherto customarily used', Baha'u'llah responded that the intention is the 'use of five cloths.'

"Concerning the way in which the body should be wrapped, there is nothing in the Baha'i Writings to define how the wrapping of the body is to be done, either when 'five cloths' are used or only 'a single sheet'. At present, the Baha'is are free to use their judgement in the matter."

(Baha'u'llah: The Kitab-i-Aqdas, Notes, N. 151, pp. 229-230)


646. Face of the Dead Should Be Turned Toward the Qiblih

"The dead should be buried with their face turned towards the Qiblih. There is also a congregational prayer to be recited. Besides this there is no other ceremony to be performed."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, July 6, 1935)


[197] 647. Hour's Journey May Be Calculated from City Limits

"We have been instructed by the Universal House of Justice to convey its reply to your enquiry of 20th June 1978 about the Baha'i burial law concerning the one hour's travel from the place of death.


"The House of Justice advises that the place of death may be taken to be the city or town in which the believer passes away, and therefore the hour's journey may be calculated from the city limits to the place of burial. However, it should be borne in mind that the spirit of Baha'u'llah's law is to be buried near where one dies."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Ecuador, July 9, 1978)


648. Graveyard More Than an Hour on Foot from a Village

"The Universal House of Justice has received your letter of 10th August 1981 in which you ask for guidance in observing the law for the burial of the dead in cases where the graveyard is more than an hour's journey on foot from a village.


"If alternative means of transport are not available or practicable in cases such as you mention, another possibility is for the Baha'is of such a village to acquire a graveyard nearer to the village so that it can be reached within one hour from the village limits. If no such solution is feasible the believers will just have to do their best for the present to keep the journey as short as possible. In any case the House of Justice presumes that the journey is not likely to greatly exceed the one hour limit."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Panama, September 21, 1981)


649. The Burial Stone

"The placing of the burial stone on the dead has no other significance than to emphasize our profound conviction that our souls come from our Creator and to Him they return, and in Him we believe and trust."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of India, July 29, 1942)


650. Bury the Dead in Silk

"The Bab has told us to bury the dead in silk (if possible) in coffins of crystal. Why? Because the body, though now dust, was once exalted by the immortal soul of man!"

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, November 13, 1944)


651. Should Advise Baha'is in Military Service of Burial Laws

"You should also advise all individual Baha'is who are in service that they should take whatever measures are necessary to see that Baha'i laws regarding burial are observed. Such individuals should also notify their families or next of kin about these laws and of their wish to be buried according to Baha'i law."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, January 11, 1968)



C. Baha'i Cemeteries


[198] 652. Baha'is Are Permitted to Accept Land from the Government for Cemetery

"In response to your question about acquiring land from the Government for the specific purpose of establishing a Baha'i cemetery, the House of Justice advises that it is permissible for Baha'is to be granted by government authorities the ownership or use of land for this purpose."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Brazil, February 20, 1978)


653. Disinterment

"You have stated in your letter that it is a custom there for the body to be disinterred after three years and put in a smaller casket for reburial. Since this is apparently not required by law, it would be best for you to advise the friends to make the necessary arrangements with the cemetery authorities so that disinterment of the body does not take place."

(Ibid.)


654. At Present No Definite Regulations for Baha'i Cemeteries

"At the present time there are no definite regulations for preparing Baha'i cemeteries. However, in a Tablet of the Master's, He emphasizes the need for the cemetery to have a beautiful outward appearance and states that the graves should not be joined together but that each one should have a flower bed around its four sides. He also indicates that it would be pleasing if a pool were located in the center of the cemetery and beautiful trees were planted around it as well as around the cemetery itself."

(Ibid.)


655. Should Not Refuse to Bury Baha'i Who Lost Voting Rights—Assembly May Permit Burial of Non-Baha'is

"The Universal House of Justice has received your letter of 15th June 1984 asking whether it is permissible to bury non-Baha'is in a Baha'i cemetery, and has asked us to convey the following to you.


"It would not be right to refuse to bury in a Baha'i cemetery one who has lost his voting rights. Furthermore, it is quite possible that non-Baha'i relatives of believers or others may be permitted to be buried in a Baha'i cemetery. However, a deciding factor could be whether the area of land chosen for use as a Baha'i cemetery would be large enough to permit burial of non-Baha'is. It is suggested that no hard and fast rules be adopted, but that each case be considered on its own merits."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Brazil, July 12, 1984)


656. The Most Great Name or Ringstone Symbol Not Appropriate on Gravestones

"Normally the building of structures or headstones on graves should be left to the family of the deceased, and all expenses should be covered by them.


[199] "The use of the Most Great Name or the ringstone symbol on gravestones is not appropriate. In a letter dated September 17, 1971 to an individual believer we wrote the following:


'Concerning the questions you ask in your postscript, there is no specific ruling regarding the type of headstone that may be used at a grave site. However, regarding the inscription on a headstone, the beloved Guardian asked the believers not to use any form of the Greatest Name but a nine-pointed star may be used. Or, you may wish to have an appropriate text from the Sacred Writings inscribed on the headstone. The position of the body in the grave should be with the feet pointing toward the Qiblih, which is Bahji in Akka'."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Uganda, May 4, 1972)



D. Funeral Services


657. Official Baha'i Funeral Service for Believers Only

"An official Baha'i funeral service should only be given for a believer, but there is no objection to the reading of Baha'i prayers, or indeed to a Baha'i conducting the funeral service of a non-Baha'i, if this has been requested."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, July 20, 1946)


658. Utmost Simplicity and Flexibility Should Be Observed...

"Regarding the Baha'i funeral service: It is extremely simple, as it consists only of a congregational prayer to be read before burial.... Your National Spiritual Assembly should take great care lest any uniform procedure or ritual in this matter be adopted or imposed upon the friends. The danger in this, as in some other cases regarding Baha'i worship, is that a definite system or rigid rituals and practices be developed among the believers. The utmost simplicity and flexibility should be observed...."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, January 10, 1936)


659. No Objection to Baha'is Attending Non-Baha'i Funeral of Baha'is

"There is no objection to Baha'is attending the non-Baha'i funeral service of a Baha'i whose non-Baha'i relatives have prevented the Baha'i funeral from taking place. The Baha'is should, however, endeavour to offer Baha'i prayers for the progress of the soul of their departed friend, if circumstances permit. If they cannot be offered on the occasion of the funeral they should be offered at another time."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Colombia, May 4, 1966)


660. Obligatory Prayer for the Dead—Permissible to Change Gender

"We have your letter of 23 December 1966 asking whether it is permissible to change the gender of the pronoun in Baha'i prayers for the dead when the deceased person is a woman.

"The prayer for the dead which is obligatory appears on page 260 of 'Prayers and Meditations'. This prayer allows for a change in gender.


[200] "Other prayers for the dead are optional, but if used they are to be used as revealed."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, January 17, 1967)


661. Prayer for the Dead to be Recited by One Believer

"The Prayer for the Dead is the only Baha'i obligatory prayer which is to be recited in congregation; it is to be recited by one believer while all present stand in silence. Baha'u'llah has clarified that the Prayer for the Dead is required only when the deceased is an adult, that the recital should precede the interment of the deceased, and that there is no requirement to face the Qiblih when saying this prayer."

(Baha'u'llah, Kitab-i-Aqdas, Notes, N. 10)


662. Non-Baha'is Can Be Present When Long Prayer for the Dead is Read

"There is no objection whatsoever to non-Baha'is being present when the long prayer for the dead is read, as long as they respect our manner of reading it by rising and standing as the Baha'is do on this occasion. Nor, indeed, is there any objection to non-Baha'is being present during the reading of any Baha'i prayer for the departed."

(From letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, July 20, 1946)


663. Prayer for the Dead—Special Conditions

"The Prayer for the Dead should be recited at the funeral if the deceased is 15 years old or more. If there is no one at the funeral able to read, it is sufficient to say only that part of the Prayer which requires the repetition nineteen times of each of six short verses.


"The body must be placed in the grave in such a position that the feet point towards Akka (the Qiblih)."

(From a statement prepared by a National Spiritual Assembly in Africa and approved by the Universal House of Justice on June 14, 1982)


664. Any Prayer May Be Said for a Woman—Text Must Not Change

"In connection with the question you asked about the prayer for the dead: any of the prayers which were originally revealed for a man or a woman can be said for the opposite sex, but the text must not be changed."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, November 10, 1946)


665. Memorial Gatherings

"As you know, the offering of prayers on behalf of the departed, whether Baha'i or non-Baha'i, is encouraged in our teachings, as such prayers are conducive to the progress of their souls in the world beyond. As to the holding of memorial gatherings at regular intervals, there is nothing in the teachings specifically prohibiting such gatherings, but we find general guidelines in the letters of the beloved Guardian, in which he warns the believers against adhering to the rites and customs of past systems and of former religions, and instead urges them to show forth the Baha'i way of life and demonstrate the independent character of the teachings of the Faith.


"Advertising memorial gatherings by the family is entirely a personal matter for the family to decide. It is left to the discretion of your National Spiritual Assembly [201] whether Local Spiritual Assemblies may permit the use of their Baha'i Centres for such gatherings."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Ghana, May 24, 1974)



E. Cremation


666. Cremation

"He feels that, in view of what 'Abdu'l-Baha has said against cremation, the believers should be strongly urged, as an act of faith, to make provisions against their remains being cremated. Baha'u'llah has laid down as a law, in the Aqdas, the manner of Baha'i burial, and it is so beautiful, befitting and dignified, that no believer should deprive himself of it."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, July 7, 1947)


667. Body Can Be Left to Medical Science, Remains Not to be Cremated

"There is nothing in the teachings against leaving our bodies to medical science. The only thing we should stipulate is that we do not wish to be cremated, as it is against our Baha'i laws.


"As many people make arrangements to leave their bodies to medical science for investigation, he suggests that you inquire, either through some lawyer friend or through some hospital, how you could do this, and then make the necessary provision in your Will, stipulating that you wish your body to be of service to mankind in death, and that, being a Baha'i, you request that your remains not be cremated and not be taken more than an hour's journey from the place of your death.

"The spirit has no more connection with the body after it departs, but as the body was once the temple of the spirit, we Baha'is are taught that it must be treated with respect."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, March 22, 1957)


668. The Inner Temple Beholdeth Its Physical Frame

"As this physical frame is the throne of the inner temple, whatever occurs to the former is felt by the latter. In reality that which takes delight in joy or is saddened by pain is the inner temple of the body, not the body itself. Since this physical body is the throne whereon the inner temple is established, God hath ordained that the body be preserved to the extent possible, so that nothing that causeth repugnance may be experienced. The inner temple beholdeth its physical frame, which is its throne. Thus, if the latter is accorded respect, it is as if the former is the recipient. The converse is likewise true.


"Therefore, it hath been ordained that the dead body should be treated with the utmost honour and respect."

(The Bab: Selections from the Writings of the Bab, p. 95)


669. Body Formed Gradually, Must Decompose Gradually

"Be assured that your letter was not a bother to us. Indeed, we were happy to learn that in the autumn years of your physical life your soul was illumined by the eternal light shed upon the world by Baha'u'llah.


[202] "Concerning your question about cremation, the Baha'i law stipulates burial. The instructions of Baha'u'llah contained in His Most Holy Book make this law clear. Shoghi Effendi, in a letter written on his behalf to an individual believer in 1955, comments that 'Abdu'l-Baha '...also explained that burial is natural and should be followed.' The explanation of the Master referred to by Shoghi Effendi is found in Tablets revealed by Him. One of those was published in Star of the West, Volume XI, No. 19, page 317, from which we quote:


'Thy letter has been received. Due to scarcity of time, I write the answer briefly: The body of man, which has been formed gradually, must similarly be decomposed gradually. This is according to the real and natural order and Divine Law. If it had been better for it to be burned after death, in its very creation it would have been so planned that the body would automatically become ignited after death, be consumed and turned into ashes. But the divine order formulated by the heavenly ordinance is that after death, this body shall be transferred from one stage to another different from the preceding one, so that according to the relations which exist in the world, it may gradually combine and mix other elements, thus going through stages until it arrives in the vegetable kingdom, there turning into plants and flowers, developing into trees of the highest paradise, becoming perfumed and attaining the beauty of color.'


'Cremation suppresses it speedily from attainment to these transformations, the elements becoming so quickly decomposed that transformation to these various stages is checked.'


"When we realize that our physical bodies are composed of elements placed in the earth by their Creator, and which through the orderly processes of His Law are continually being used in the formation of beings, we can better understand the necessity for our physical bodies to be subjected to the gradual process of decomposition. As at the time of death, the real and eternal self of man, his soul, abandons its physical garment to soar in the realms of God, we may compare the body to a vehicle which has been used for the journey through earthly life and no longer needed once the destination has been reached."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, June 6, 1971)


670. Spiritual Assembly Cannot Arrange for the Cremation of the Remains of a Baha'i

"Obviously a Spiritual Assembly cannot itself arrange for the cremation of the remains of a Baha'i even if it was that person's wish that his body be disposed of in this way. Baha'i relatives, likewise, are under the obligation of obeying the Baha'i law and must not agree to the cremation of a Baha'i. Where non-Baha'i relatives of the deceased Baha'i have charge of the body and are proposing to cremate the remains, the responsible Spiritual Assembly should do all it can to explain the Baha'i attitude to the relatives in an effort to prevent the cremation. If these efforts fail, the Assembly can have nothing officially to do with the cremation of the body; the believers, however, are free to do as they wish about attending the funeral and the cremation and they may certainly offer a prayer for the progress of the soul of the deceased. The Assembly could, if it seemed appropriate, arrange a meeting at a time other than the funeral, at which the Prayer for the Dead could be said on behalf of the deceased."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Germany, December 9, 1984)


[203] 671. Word "Baha'i" in Centre of Nine-Pointed Star Can Be Used

"As regards your question: There is no reason why the word 'Baha'i' should not appear in the centre of a nine-pointed star on the tombstone of dear Elsa Vento, but the ring-stone emblem should not be used, nor the Greatest Name."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, September 30, 1955)


672. Can Use Quotations from the Teachings on Tombstones

"In regard to your question regarding the use of the Greatest Name on tombstones of Baha'is or non-Baha'is, the Guardian considers this too sacred to be placed in such a position in general use, and the friends should not use it on their tombstones. They can use quotations from the Teachings, if they wish to, but not the Greatest Name. Naturally, if anyone has already used it, it does not matter."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, June 20, 1954)


673. Possible that Non-Baha'i Relatives Can Be Buried in Baha'i Cemetery

"...it is quite possible that non-Baha'i relatives of believers or others may be permitted to be buried in a Baha'i cemetery."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Ecuador, December 3, 1975)



F. Suicide*


674. Suicide Strongly Condemned in the Teachings

"Regarding the 'In Memoriam' section of 'Baha'i News': Although suicide is so strongly condemned in the teachings, it does not mean that a person has ceased to be a Baha'i because he killed himself; he should, therefore, be mentioned, the same as other believers, in this section."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, March 29, 1945)

___________________

*(See also: No. 1200)


675. The Light Manifested by Baha'u'llah Can Ease Despair of Young People

"It is too bad that young and promising men, who if they remain living can render great services to humanity, should take away their life at a moment of despair.


"The world, especially in these days, is full of woes and sufferings. We should be brave and have a stout heart. Trials and tribulations should arouse in us added vigour and greater determination and not dampen our zeal and kill our spirit."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, March 12, 1933)


676. Baha'is Are Free to Pray for the Dead

"A Baha'i is certainly free to pray for those who have passed on regardless of the cause of their death, using the words of any of the prayers of his choice which have been revealed through the bounty of God. The manner in which the Supreme Being, in His justice as well as in His mercy, will deal with every individual soul is a mystery unknown to us on this earthly plane."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, December 21, 1978)


[204] 677. One Should Put All Thought of Suicide and Death Out of Mind

"In reply to your letter of 1st May 1979, the Universal House of Justice has instructed us to share with you the following excerpt from a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi by his secretary to a believer who asked about suicide.


"'Suicide is forbidden in the Cause. God Who is the Author of all life can alone take it away, and dispose of it in the way He deems best. Whoever commits suicide endangers his soul, and will suffer spiritually as a result in the other Worlds Beyond.'


"The House of Justice admonishes you to put all thought of suicide and death out of your mind and concentrate on prayer and effort to serve the Cause of Baha'u'llah."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, June 7, 1979)


678. Consolation for the Bereaved Parent

"...He was very sad to hear of your sadness and difficulties. Should that be only due to the passing of your son, it is not fully justified, at least in the light of the teachings of Baha'u'llah. He explicitly states that, had we the vision to see the other world, and the mind to conceive its glory, we would not desire to remain here even for a moment. Man is destined by God to undergo a spiritual development that extends throughout eternity. His life upon this earth is only the first stage of that development. When we outgrow our physical form, and are considered by God ready to reap the fruit of our spiritual development, we proceed to the other world. We term it death only because of our shortsightedness. A more proper term would be 'a more abundant life'. It is a forward step we have taken. In the light of the teachings, therefore, the proper attitude for you, is to pray that God may encompass your son with His infinite blessings, that He may enhance his development and give him that felicity which awaits every ... soul.


"...the world is full of suffering. Baha'u'llah tells us that the deeper are the furrows it digs into our very being, the greater will be the fruit of our life and the more enhanced our spiritual development. All the Saints that shine in the history of society had to pass through tribulations. Their form was various but their effect has always been the same, namely, the purification of our heart and soul for receiving the light of God."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, December 9, 1931)



G. Life after Death; the Soul


679. Gifts and Good Deeds in Memory of Those Passed On

"The Master has told us that gifts and good deeds done in memory of those who have passed on, are most helpful to the development of their souls in the realms beyond...."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, December 10, 1952)


680. Man is Destined by God to Develop Spiritually Through Eternity

"With regard to the soul of man. According to the Baha'i Teachings the human soul starts with the formation of the human embryo, and continues to develop and pass through endless stages of existence after its separation from the body. Its progress is thus infinite."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, December 31, 1937)


[205] 681. Regarding Non-Baha'i Traditions

"In regard to your question concerning the truth of the statement that it takes a soul three days to make complete severance from the body, the Guardian wishes me to inform you that there is no specific reference to this point in the Sacred Writings of the Cause. But as to the advisability of praying for the departed for forty days after their passing this is entirely an originally Moslem practice, and constitutes in no way an obligation on any believer. To pray for the dead is very beneficial and helpful and is always a source of comfort and satisfaction. But there is no reason why it should be confined to a definite period of forty days."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, January 9, 1934)


682. The Soul Will Continue to Ascend Through Many Worlds

"Concerning the future life, what Baha'u'llah says is that the soul will continue to ascend through many worlds. What those worlds are and what their nature is we cannot know. The same way that the child in the matrix cannot know this world so we cannot know what the other world is going to be."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, October 18, 1932)


683. We Can Help Every Soul Attain High Station

"Concerning your question whether a soul can receive knowledge of the Truth in the world beyond. Such a knowledge is surely possible, and is but a sign of the loving mercy of the Almighty. We can, through our prayers, help every soul to gradually attain this high station, even if it has failed to reach it in this world. The progress of the soul does not come to an end with death. It rather starts along a new line. Baha'u'llah teaches that great and far-reaching possibilities await the soul in the other world. Spiritual progress in that realm is infinite, and no man, while on this earth, can visualize its full power and extent."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, May 22, 1935)


684. Intercession in the Other World

"The wealth of the other world is nearness to God. Consequently, it is certain that those who are near the Divine Court are allowed to intercede, and this intercession is approved by God. But intercession in the other world is not like intercession in this world. It is another thing, another reality, which cannot be expressed in words."

('Abdu'l-Baha: Some Answered Questions, 1984 ed., p. 231)


685. Bequests to the Poor

"If a wealthy man at the time of his death bequeaths a gift to the poor and miserable, and gives a part of his wealth to be spent for them, perhaps this action may be the cause of his pardon and forgiveness, and of his progress in the divine Kingdom.


"Also a father and mother endure the greatest troubles and hardships for their children; and often when the children have reached the age of maturity, the parents pass on to the other world. Rarely does it happen that a father and mother in this world see the reward of the care and trouble they have undergone for their children. Therefore, children, in return for this care and trouble, must show forth charity and beneficence, and must implore pardon and forgiveness for their parents. So you ought, in return for the love and kindness shown you by your father, to give to the poor [206] for his sake, with greatest submission and humility implore pardon and remission of sins, and ask for the supreme mercy."

(Ibid., pp. 231-232)


686. The Nature of the Soul After Death Can Never Be Described

"...The honor with which the Hand of Mercy will invest the soul is such as no tongue can adequately reveal, nor any other earthly agency describe. Blessed is the soul which, at the hour of its separation from the body, is sanctified from the vain imaginings of the peoples of the world. Such a soul liveth and moveth in accordance with the Will of its Creator, and entereth the all-highest Paradise. The Maids of Heaven, inmates of the loftiest mansions, will circle around it, and the Prophets of God and His chosen ones will seek its companionship. With them that soul will freely converse, and will recount unto them that which it hath been made to endure in the path of God, the Lord of all worlds. If any man be told that which hath been ordained for such a soul in the worlds of God, the Lord of the throne on high and of earth below, his whole being will instantly blaze out in his great longing to attain that most exalted, that sanctified and resplendent station.... The nature of the soul after death can never be described, nor is it meet and permissible to reveal its whole character to the eyes of men...."

(Baha'u'llah: Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah, 1983 ed., p. 156)


687. There Are No Earth-Bound Souls

"There are no earth-bound souls. When the souls that are not good die they go entirely away from this earth and so cannot influence anyone. They are spiritually dead. Their thoughts can have influence only when they are alive on the earth... But the good souls are given eternal life and sometimes God permits their thoughts to reach the earth to help the people."

(Questions answered by 'Abdu'l-Baha in Akka: Daily Lessons, Received at Akka, 1979 ed., pp. 35-36)


688. There is No Power Exercised Over People by Evil Souls that Have Passed Away

"There is no power exercised over the people by those evil souls that have passed away. Good is stronger than evil and even when alive they had very little power. How much less have they after they are dead, and besides they are nowhere near this planet."

(Ibid., pp. 43-44)


689. Soul Mates

"There is no teaching in the Baha'i Faith that 'soul mates' exist. What is meant is that marriage should lead to a profound friendship of spirit, which will endure in the next world, where there is no sex, and no giving and taking in marriage; just the way we should establish with our parents, our children, our brothers and sisters and friends a deep spiritual bond which will be ever-lasting, and not merely physical bonds of human relationship."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, December 4, 1954)


[207] 690. Influence of Holy and Spiritual Souls

"As to the question that the holy and spiritual souls influence, help and guide the creatures after they have cast off this elemental mould—this is an established truth of the Baha'is..."

('Abdu'l-Baha: Tablets of 'Abdu'l-Baha, Vol. III, p. 543)


691. The Soul Acts

"The soul acts in the physical world with the help of the body. When it is detached from the body, it acts without an intermediary...


"...The body is the horse, the soul is the rider, and sometimes the rider moves without a mount. But people who do not reflect say that when the soul has left the body it can no longer act. Spirit has no body. Reflect on this subject."

('Abdu'l-Baha: Divine Philosophy, 1928 ed., p. 127)


692. The Other World is Within This World

"...The answer to the first question: The souls of the children of the Kingdom, after their separation from the body, ascend unto the realm of everlasting life. But if ye ask as to the place, know ye that the world of existence is a single world, although its stations are various and distinct. For example, the mineral life occupieth its own plane, but a mineral entity is without any awareness at all of the vegetable kingdom,...


"As to the second question: The tests and trials of God take place in this world, not in the world of the Kingdom.

"The answer to the third question is this, that in the other world the human reality doth not assume a physical form, rather doth it take on a heavenly form, made up of elements of that heavenly realm.


"And the answer to the fourth question: The centre of the Sun of Truth is in the supernal world—the Kingdom of God. Those souls who are pure and unsullied, upon the dissolution of their elemental frames, hasten away to the world of God, and that world is within this world. The people of this world, however, are unaware of that world, and are even as the mineral and the vegetable that know nothing of the world of the animal and the world of man."

('Abdu'l-Baha: Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Baha, pp. 194-95)


693. The Soul of a Murderer

"As to the question regarding the soul of a murderer, and what his punishment would be. The answer given was that the murderer must expiate his crime; that is, if they put the murderer to death, his death is his atonement for his crime, and following the death, God in His justice will impose no second penalty upon him, for Divine Justice would not allow this."

(Ibid., p. 179)


694. Union in the Next World

"...the possibility of securing union with his beloved in the next world is one which the Baha'i Teachings are quite clear about. According to Baha'u'llah the soul retains its individuality and consciousness after death, and is able to commune with other souls. This communion, however, is purely spiritual in character, and is conditioned upon the disinterested and selfless love of the individuals for each other."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of India, March 10, 1936: Dawn of a New Day, p. 58)


208] 695. Death Can Lose Its Sting

"In His Tablets Baha'u'llah says that were we able to comprehend the facilities that await us in the world to come, death would lose its sting; nay rather we would welcome it as a gate-way to a realm immeasurably higher and nobler than this home of suffering we call our earth. You should therefore think of their blessings and comfort yourself for your momentary separation. In time all of us will join our departed ones and share their joys."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, January 13, 1932)


696. With Vision to See Blessings of Other World, No One Would Care to Remain in This World

"Baha'u'llah says that were we to have the proper vision to see the blessings of the other world we would not bear to endure one more hour of existence upon the earth. The reason why we are deprived of that vision is because otherwise no one would care to remain and the whole fabric of society will be destroyed.


"Shoghi Effendi wishes you therefore to think of her blessings and rejoice in her happiness. Should we have true faith in the words of the prophets we would not fear death nor feel despondent over the passing of our loved ones."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, October 22, 1932)


697. Good Souls Enter a State of Being Far Nobler and More Beautiful...

"...Such earnest souls, when they pass out of this life, enter a state of being far nobler and more beautiful than this one. We fear it only because it is unknown to us and we have little faith in the words of the Prophets who bring a true message of certainty from that realm of the spirit. We should face death with joy especially if our life upon this plane of existence has been full of good deeds."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, December 31, 1932)


698. The Nature of the Soul

"...First concerning the human soul and its true nature. According to the Baha'i conception, the soul of man, or in other words his inner spiritual self or reality, is not dualistic. There is no such thing, as the Zoroastrians believe, as a double reality in man, a definite higher self and a lower self. These two tendencies for good or evil are but manifestations of a single reality or self. The latter is capable of development in either way. All depends fundamentally on the training or education which man receives. Human nature is made up of possibilities both for good and evil. True religion can enable it to soar in the highest realm of the spirit, while its absence can, as we already witness around us, cause it to fall to the lowest depths of degradation and misery."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to Alfred Lunt, May 25, 1936)


699. All Souls Progress Spiritually in the Next World—Relatives of the Believers Will at Least Partially Attain Kingdom

"With reference to Baha'u'llah's Tablet in which He says that all the relatives of believers will reach the Kingdom in the other world: By this is meant only a partial attainment. They can, however, progress indefinitely, as spiritual progress in the other world is limitless, and is not confined to those who have attained unto the knowledge and recognition of the Cause while still in this world."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, April 30, 1940)


[209] 700. Certain Things Remain a Mystery to Us in Our Present Stage of Development

"Regarding your question concerning a deep and profound study of the teachings: Of course the Baha'is can and should meditate upon the significances of the writings, and endeavour to grasp their meaning to the uttermost. There can be no possible objection to this. However certain things are, by their very nature, a mystery to us, at least in our present stage of development. One of these is what the next world, the purely spiritual world, is like."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, January 19, 1942)


701. The Prophets Never Revealed What Happens to Us After Death—Belief in God and His Prophet Elicits Spiritual Growth

"You ask an explanation of what happens to us after we leave this world: This is a question which none of the Prophets have ever answered in detail, for the very simple reason that you cannot convey to a person's mind something entirely different from everything they have ever experienced. 'Abdu'l-Baha gave the wonderful example of the relation of this life to the next life being like the child in the womb; it develops eyes, ears, hands, feet, a tongue, and yet it has nothing to see or hear, it cannot walk or grasp things or speak; all these faculties it is developing for this world. If you tried to explain to an embryo what this world is like it could never understand—but it understands when it is born, and its faculties can be used. So we cannot picture our state in the next world. All we know is that our consciousness, our personality, endures in some new state, and that that world is as much better than this one as this one is better than the dark womb of our mother was....


"Our past is not the thing that matters so much in this world as what we intend to do with our future. The inestimable value of religion is that when a man is vitally connected with it, through a real and living belief in it and in the Prophet Who brought it, he receives a strength greater than his own which helps him to develop his good characteristics and overcome his bad ones. The whole purpose of religion is to change not only our thoughts but our acts; when we believe in God and His Prophet and His Teachings, we find we are growing, even though we perhaps thought ourselves incapable of growth and change!"

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, October 3, 1943)


702. Our Speculations on the Nature of Life After Death Have Little Validity

"The Guardian feels that, while there is no harm in speculation on these abstract matters, one should not attach too much importance to them. Science itself is far from having resolved the question of the nature of matter, and we cannot, in this physical world, grasp the spiritual one more than in a very fragmentary and inadequate manner."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, January 19, 1942)


703. God Can Be Known Only Through His Prophets—Heaven and Hell Are Conditions Within Our Own Beings

"We will have experience of God's spirit through His Prophets in the next world, but God is too great for us to know without this Intermediary. The Prophets know God, but how is more than our human minds can grasp. We believe we may attain [210] in the next world to seeing the Prophets. There is certainly a future life. Heaven and hell are conditions within our own beings."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, November 14, 1947)


704. The Journey of Spiritual Progress is Endless

"As we almost never attain any spiritual goal without seeing the next goal we must attain still beyond our reach, he urges you, who have come so far already on the path of spirituality, not to fret about the distance you still have to cover! It is an indefinite journey, and, no doubt in the next world the soul is privileged to draw closer to God than is possible when bound on this physical plane."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, March 3, 1955)


705. How to "Get to Heaven"—Is Dependent on Two Things

"To 'get to heaven' as you say is dependent on two things—faith in the Manifestation of God in His Day, in other words in this age in Baha'u'llah; and good deeds, in other words living to the best of our ability a noble life and doing unto others as we would be done by. But we must always remember that our existence and everything we have or ever will have is dependent upon the mercy of God and His bounty, and therefore He can accept into His heaven, which is really nearness to Him, even the lowliest if He pleases. We always have the hope of receiving His mercy if we reach out for it."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, January 12, 1957)



XIV. EDUCATION*



A. Academic and Spiritual


[211] 706. Education of Man

"Man is even as steel, the essence of which is hidden: through admonition and explanation, good counsel and education, that essence will be brought to light. If, however, he be allowed to remain in his original condition, the corrosion of lusts and appetites will effectively destroy him."

(Baha'u'llah: Baha'i Education, A Compilation, p. 5)

___________________

*(See also: XLVI. Social and Economic Development, LII. Youth)


707. Education of the Physical and Intellectual, Spiritual and Ethical Aspects of Man

"...Baha'u'llah considered education as one of the most fundamental factors of a true civilization. This education, however, in order to be adequate and fruitful, should be comprehensive in nature and should take into consideration not only the physical and the intellectual side of man but also his spiritual and ethical aspects. This should be the program of the Baha'i youth all over the world."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, July 9, 1931)


708. Man Said to be Greatest Representative of God

"Man is said to be the greatest representative of God, and he is the Book of Creation because all the mysteries of beings exist in him. If he comes under the shadow of the True Educator and is rightly trained, he becomes the essence of essences, the light of lights, the spirit of spirits; he becomes the centre of the divine appearances, the source of spiritual qualities, the rising-place of heavenly lights, and the receptacle of divine inspirations. If he is deprived of this education he becomes the manifestation of satanic qualities, the sum of animal vices, and the source of all dark conditions."

('Abdu'l-Baha: Baha'i World Faith, 1971 ed., p. 332)


709. Modern Education Lacking in Ability to Produce a Mature Mind

"People today indeed do tend to be very superficial in their thinking, and it would seem as if the educational systems in use are sorely lacking in ability to produce a mature mind in a person who has reached supposedly adult life! All the outside influences that surround the individual seem to have an intensely distracting effect, and it is a hard job to get the average person to do any deep thinking or even a little meditation on the problems facing him and the world at large. Over and over again Baha'u'llah cried out against the heedlessness of humanity, and warns of the fate such an attitude must lead to. Did we not know what God plans [212] to do, and will do, with the world in the future, we should certainly be as hopeless as many of the best thinkers of our generation have become."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, September 22, 1948)


710. Each Should Be Educated According to His Needs and Deserts

"Among other teachings and principles Baha'u'llah counsels the education of all members of society. No individual should be denied or deprived of intellectual training although each should receive according to capacity. None must be left in the grades of ignorance, for ignorance is a defect in the human world. All mankind must be given a knowledge of science and philosophy; that is, as much as may be deemed necessary. All cannot be scientists or philosophers but each should be educated according to his needs and deserts."

('Abdu'l-Baha: The Promulgation of Universal Peace, 1982 ed., p. 108)


711. Education Extended to Prisoners

"...Kindness, training and education extended to prisoners is exceedingly important. Therefore as thou has exerted an effort in this, has awakened some of them, and hast been the cause of the turning of their faces to the divine Kingdom, this praiseworthy deed is highly acceptable. Assuredly persevere. Convey on my behalf to the two prisoners in San Quentin the utmost kindness, and tell them: 'That prison in the sight of wise souls is a school of training and development. Ye must strive with heart and soul that ye may become renowned in character and knowledge.'"

('Abdu'l-Baha: Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Baha, pp. 116-117)


712. Humankind Are as Children in School, and Prophets Are Their Teachers

"O true companions! All humankind are as children in a school, and the Dawning-Points of Light, the Sources of divine revelation are the teachers, wondrous and without peer. In the school of realities they educate these sons and daughters, according to teachings from God, and foster them in the bosom of grace, so that they may develop along every line, show forth the excellent gifts and blessing of the Lord, and combine human perfections; that they may advance in all aspects of human endeavour, whether outward or inward, hidden or visible, material or spiritual, until they make of this mortal world a widespread mirror, to reflect that other world which dieth not."

('Abdu'l-Baha: Ibid., p. 128)


713. Learning is the Greatest Bestowal of God

"It is clear that learning is the greatest bestowal of God; that knowledge and the acquirement thereof is a blessing from Heaven. Thus it is incumbent upon the friends of God to exert such an effort and strive with such eagerness to promote divine knowledge, culture and the sciences, that ere long those who are school children today will become the most erudite of all the fraternity of the wise. This is a service rendered unto God Himself, and it is one of His inescapable commandments."

('Abdu'l-Baha: Baha'i Education, A Compilation, Wilmette, 1977 ed., p. 38)



B. Universities and Colleges


[213] 714. The Academic Life

"...The academic life also has its fashions and fads, even though they are of a different nature from the fads of the man on the street.

"These fashions are not permanent; they are bound to change. Today the fad is a materialistic view of life and of the world. A day will soon come when it will become deeply religious and spiritual. In fact, we can discern the beginning of such a change in the writings of some of the most eminent souls and liberal minds. When the pendulum will start its full swing then we shall see all such eminent men turn again to God."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, October 18, 1932)


715. There is No Baha'i Curriculum as Yet

"...there is as yet no such thing as a Baha'i curriculum, and there are no Baha'i publications exclusively devoted to this subject, since the teachings of Baha'u'llah and 'Abdu'l-Baha do not present a definite and detailed educational system, but simply offer certain basic principles and set forth a number of teaching ideals that should guide future Baha'i educationalists in their efforts to formulate an adequate teaching curriculum which would be in full harmony with the spirit of the Baha'i Teachings, and would thus meet the requirements and needs of the modern age.


"These basic principles are available in the sacred writings of the Cause, and should be carefully studied, and gradually incorporated in various college and University programmes. But the task of formulating a system of education which would be officially recognized by the Cause, and enforced as such throughout the Baha'i world, is one which the present-day generation of believers cannot obviously undertake, and which has to be gradually accomplished by Baha'i scholars and educationalists of the future."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, June 7, 1939)


716. Three Cardinal Principles

"First: Whole-hearted service to the cause of education, the unfolding of the mysteries of nature, the extension of the boundaries of pure science, the elimination of the causes of ignorance and social evils, a standard universal system of instruction, and the diffusion of the lights of knowledge and reality.


"Second: Service to the cause of morality, raising the moral tone of the students, inspiring them with the sublimest ideals of ethical refinement, teaching them altruism, inculcating in their lives the beauty of holiness and the excellency of virtue and animating them with the excellences and perfections of the religion of God.


"Third: Service to the oneness of the world of humanity; so that each student may consciously realize that he is a brother to all mankind, irrespective of religion or race. The thoughts of universal peace must be instilled into the minds of all the scholars, in order that they may become the armies of peace, the real servants of the body politic—the world. God is the Father of all. Mankind are His children. This globe is one home. Nations are the members of one [214] family. The mothers in their homes, the teachers in the schools, the professors in the college, the presidents in the universities, must teach these ideals to the young from the cradle up to the age of manhood."

(From notes taken of talks given by 'Abdu'l-Baha, as quoted in: Star of the West, Vol. IX, No. 9, p. 98)


717. Characteristics of Baha'i College Students

"You must become the shining candles of moral precepts and spiritual ideals and be the means of the illumination of others. Clothe your bodies with the robes of virtues. Characterize yourselves with the characteristics of the people of divine morality. Shun all manner of vices as you shun a poisonous snake or a leper. Let the corps of professors and the students be impressed with the purity and holiness of your lives so that they may take you as paragons of worthiness, examples of nobility of nature, observers of the moral laws, holding in subordination the lower element by the higher spirit, the conquerors of self and the masters of wholesome, vital forces in all the avenues of life. Strive always to be at the head of your classes through hard study and true merit. Be always in a prayerful state and appreciate the value of everything. Entertain high ideals and stimulate your intellectual and constructive forces."

(Ibid.)


718. 'Abdu'l-Baha Enjoins Baha'is to Excel All Other Students—Emphasis on Truthfulness

"I hope that while you are studying in this college you may so excel all other students in the various branches of knowledge taught therein that all of them may testify that the Bahai (Baha'i) students have another power, are inspired with another effort, are imbued with a nobler ambition, are stimulated by higher motives and make wider and deeper exertions than others. If you do not surpass the others, then what distinction will there remain for you? Therefore, you must strive to be superior to them, so that everyone may bear testimony to this fact. You are now like the tender plants that are trained according to the knowledge and wisdom of the gardener. From now on, you must strive to beautify the moral aspect of your lives. Advise one another with utmost consideration, watch daily your words and deeds; thus from the very beginning you may characterize yourselves with divine ideals.


"The divine ideals are humility, submissiveness, annihilation of self, perfect evanescence, charity and loving-kindness. You must die to self and live in God. You must be exceedingly compassionate to one another and to all the people of the world. Love and serve mankind just for the sake of God and not for anything else. The foundation of your love toward humanity must be spiritual faith and divine assurance.


"Again: be ye most careful that, God forbid, not one single word contrary to truth issue from your mouths. One falsehood throws man from the highest station of honour to the lowest abyss of disgrace. Always guard yourselves against this enemy so that all you state may correspond with reality. Forever supplicate and entreat at the Court of Majesty and beg confirmation and assistance...."

(Ibid., pp. 98-99)


[215] 719. Challenge to Persian Students

"I hope that through the favor and bounty of the Blessed Beauty, His Holiness the Bab, and the ineffable blessings which hallow this holy Shrine,* the confirmations of the Kingdom of Abha may encircle you, and that you may be characterized with the shining qualities and brilliant attributes of the Baha'i life. May your morality become more defined day by day! May your faith and assurance be increased day by day! May your attraction to the Kingdom of Abha be intensified day by day! May your attainment in sciences and arts become more universal day by day! Perchance, God willing, you may become perfect and accomplished from every standpoint and be the means of the enlightenment of Persia."

(Ibid., pp. 99-100)

___________________

*The students were visiting the Tomb of the Bab)


720. Teaching in Universities and Colleges

"As to teaching work in colleges and universities, this is very important, for students as a whole are open-minded and little influenced by tradition. They would easily enter the Cause if the subject is properly presented and their intellect and sentiments properly satisfied. This, however, should be attempted only by persons who have had university training and are, therefore, acquainted with the mind of the intelligent and educated youth..."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, February 3, 1932)


721. When Studying at School or University

"For any person, whether Baha'i or not, his youthful years are those in which he will make many decisions which will set the course of his life. In these years he is most likely to choose his life's work, complete his education, begin to earn his own living, marry and start to raise his own family. Most important of all, it is during this period that the mind is most questing and that the spiritual values that will guide the person's future behaviour are adopted. These factors present Baha'i youth with their greatest opportunities, their greatest challenges, and their greatest tests—opportunities to truly apprehend the Teachings of their Faith and to give them to their contemporaries, challenges to overcome the pressures of the world and to provide leadership for their and succeeding generations, and tests enabling them to exemplify in their lives the high moral standards set forth in the Baha'i Writings. Indeed the Guardian wrote of the Baha'i youth that it is they 'who can contribute so decisively to the virility, the purity, and the driving force of the life of the Baha'i community, and upon whom must depend the future orientation of its destiny, and the complete unfoldment of the potentialities with which God has endowed it.'


"When studying at school or university Baha'i youth will often find themselves in the unusual and slightly embarrassing position of having a more profound insight into a subject than their instructors. The Teachings of Baha'u'llah throw light on so many aspects of human life and knowledge that a Baha'i must learn, earlier than most, to weigh the information that is given to him rather than to accept it blindly. A Baha'i has the advantage of the divine Revelation for this Age, which shines like a searchlight on so many problems that baffle modern thinkers; he must therefore develop the ability to learn everything from those around him, showing proper humility before his teachers, but always relating what he hears to the Baha'i teachings, for they will enable him to sort out the gold from the dross of human error."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to Baha'i Youth in every land, June 10, 1966)



XV. ENDOWMENTS, LOCAL AND NATIONAL


[216] 722. Endowment Land Used for Site of Haziratu'l-Quds Ceases to be Endowment in the Baha'i Sense*

"The Universal House of Justice acknowledges your letter of July 15 about the use of a local endowment for the site of the local Haziratu'l-Quds, and instructs us to send you the following reply.


"Endowments, whether local or national, are normally pieces of property held in the name of the National or Local Spiritual Assembly as an investment and asset. The Haziratu'l-Quds and the land on which it is built cannot be considered an endowment as this is a separate institution. If, therefore, endowment land is used for the site of a Haziratu'l-Quds, it ceases to be an endowment in the Baha'i sense. Where a parcel of land owned as an endowment is sufficiently large to be subdivided, one part to remain as the endowment and the other to be the site of the Haziratu'l-Quds, it is permissible to do this but a clear demarcation must be made to distinguish clearly what is the endowment and what is the Haziratu'l-Quds. This demarcation, which must be made in the Assembly's records as well as on the site itself, is an internal domestic matter and need not be recorded in the Land Registry."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Alaska, August 11, 1974)

___________________

*(See also: XXIII, Nos. 912-922, Haziratu'l-Quds)


723. National Endowments

"A national endowment should be regarded as an investment in real estate owned by the National Spiritual Assembly. It may be anywhere in the country and can be a small, inexpensive piece of land donated by one of the friends, or else acquired out of the resources of the National Fund."

(From the Naw-Ruz message of the Universal House of Justice to all National Spiritual Assemblies, 1974)


724. Local Endowments

"...A local endowment can be quite a small piece of land; it can be purchased by the Local Spiritual Assembly or more usually the gift of one or more of the believers. If the Local Assembly is incorporated, the endowment should be registered in its name, but if it is not, the endowment can be held by one or more of the believers on behalf of the community. For example, if one of the believers gives a small piece of land he can continue to hold it in his name, but it will be known that he does so on behalf of the Local Spiritual Assembly and that the land will in time be transferred legally to the Assembly when that is possible...."

(Ibid.)


[217] 725. Endowment Land—There is No Objection to Raising a Temporary Structure

"Endowment land cannot, at the same time, be used as another Baha'i institution such as Haziratu'l-Quds or a Teaching Institute. There is no objection to erecting a temporary structure on endowment land for the convenience of the friends who may visit it or have gatherings there provided that if its use becomes of a permanent nature it would be necessary to acquire a new Endowment."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly, August 30, 1971)


726. Endowment Land to be Regarded as an Investment for Local Assemblies

"...The principle involved is that the endowment land should not be used for any other Baha'i purpose, and is to be regarded as an investment for the future advantage and benefit to the Local Spiritual Assembly. If the endowment plot is sufficiently large that not all of it is needed to serve as an endowment, it is permissible to designate a part of it as endowment property and the balance may be transferred to the use of the summer school. In such a case a line of demarcation should be made between the portion to be regarded as endowment and the portion to be used for summer or winter school purposes. This demarcation, which must be made in the Assembly's records, as well as on the site itself, is an internal domestic matter and need not be recorded in the Land Registry."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Colombia, April 15, 1979)


727. Endowment Property May Be Used for Sports Facilities or to Produce Income for the Work of the Faith

"In reply to your letter of 29 August 1985 in which you inquire about endowment property, we are instructed to say that while such property is regarded as an investment for the future benefit of the Baha'i community, and as such should not be used for purposes of summer schools, conferences and other Baha'i events except on a temporary basis, the Universal House of Justice sees no reason why it should not be used for sports facilities. It also might be farmed or otherwise developed to produce income, and such income or proceeds from a capital gain may be used for the general work of the Faith."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Guatemala, September 30, 1985)


728. Summary of Principles which Should Govern Acceptance of Free Land for Baha'i Use

"We are asked by the Universal House of Justice to acknowledge your letter of 20 August 1985 regarding the possibility of obtaining free land from the government in order to build a Haziratu'l-Quds, and to share the following principles which should govern any decision you will make in this regard.


1. The principle of not accepting gifts from non-Baha'is for strictly Baha'i purposes applies to receiving free grants of land from non-Baha'is, whether individuals, institutions or governments. 


2. [218] There is no objection, however, to accepting free plots of land from the government or civic authorities if such plots are used for Baha'i cemeteries or for such institutions as are charitable or humanitarian in nature, such as schools.


3. In countries where the only method to acquire property is to be granted by the authorities' free use of land, there is no objection to receiving such allocation of land (which excludes ownership) for the building of institutions of a strictly Baha'i nature, such as a Haziratu'l-Quds, a Summer School, or a Teaching Institute.


4. If the government offers gifts of land to all religious communities in recognition of their status as a religious entity in the country, Baha'is may accept such properties under the provisions of points 1 and 2 above. They should make it clear to the government that they can embark upon the establishment of institutions of a humanitarian or charitable nature, only when conditions favourable to the establishment of such institutions are present."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly, September 19, 1985)



XVI. THE FAMILY



A. Family Relationships*


[219] 729. Family Ties

"Deep as are family ties, we must always remember that the spiritual ties are far deeper; they are everlasting and survive death, whereas physical ties, unless supported by spiritual bonds, are confined to this life. You should do all in your power, through prayer and example, to open the eyes of your family to the Baha'i Faith, but do not grieve too much over their actions. Turn to your Baha'i brothers and sisters who are living with you in the light of the Kingdom."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, May 8, 1942)


"Do not be satisfied until each one with whom you are concerned is to you as a member of your family ... if you can attain to this, your difficulties will vanish; you will know what to do."

('Abdu'l-Baha: Pattern of Baha'i Life, p. 24)

___________________

*(See also: XVI. D. 762-774. The Relationships Between Parents and Children)


730. The Family: A Special Kind of Community—Each Member Has Rights and Responsibilities

"A family, however, is a very special kind of 'community'. The Research Department has not come across any statements which specifically name the father as responsible for the 'security, progress and unity of the family' as is stated in Bahiyyih Nakhjavani's book, but it can be inferred from a number of the responsibilities placed upon him, that the father can be regarded as the 'head' of the family. The members of a family all have duties and responsibilities towards one another and to the family as a whole, and these duties and responsibilities vary from member to member because of their natural relationships. The parents have the inescapable duty to educate their children—but not vice versa; the children have the duty to obey their parents—the parents do not obey the children; the mother—not the father—bears the children, nurses them in babyhood, and is thus their first educator, hence daughters have a prior right to education over sons and, as the Guardian's secretary has written on his behalf: 'The task of bringing up a Baha'i child, as emphasized time and again in Baha'i Writings, is the chief responsibility of the mother, whose unique privilege is indeed to create in her home such conditions as would be most conducive to both his material and spiritual welfare and advancement. The training which a child first receives through his mother constitutes the strongest foundation for his future development.' A corollary of this responsibility of the mother is her right to be supported by her husband—a husband has no explicit right to be supported by his wife. This principle of the husband's responsibility [220] to provide for and protect the family can be seen applied also in the law of intestacy which provides that the family's dwelling place passes, on the father's death, not to his widow, but to his eldest son; the son at the same time has the responsibility to care for his mother."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of New Zealand, December 28, 1980)


731. The Family Progresses When There is Unity

"Note ye how easily, where unity existeth in a given family, the affairs of that family are conducted; what progress the members of that family make, how they prosper in the world. Their concerns are in order, they enjoy comfort and tranquillity, they are secure, their position is assured, they come to be envied by all. Such a family but added to its stature and its lasting honour, as day succeedeth day...."

('Abdu'l-Baha: Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Baha, p. 279)


"If love and agreement are manifest in a single family, that family will advance, become illumined and spiritual; but if enmity and hatred exist within it destruction and dispersion are inevitable."

('Abdu'l-Baha: The Promulgation of Universal Peace, pp. 144-145, 1982 ed.)


732. Baha'u'llah Provides Way to Remove Hostility and Dissension from the World

"Consider the harmful effect of discord and dissension in a family; then reflect upon the favours and blessings which descend upon that family when unity exists among its various members. What incalculable benefits and blessings would descend upon the great human family if unity and brotherhood were established! In this century when the beneficent results of unity and the ill effects of discord are so clearly apparent, the means for the attainment and accomplishment of human fellowship have appeared in the world. His Holiness Baha'u'llah has proclaimed and provided the way by which hostility and dissension may be removed from the human world. He has left no ground or possibility for strife and disagreement. First he has proclaimed the oneness of mankind and specialized religious teachings for existing human conditions."

('Abdu'l-Baha: Star of the West, Vol. 17, No. 7, p. 232)


733. It is Important for Man to Raise a Family

"It is highly important for man to raise a family. So long as he is young, because of youthful self-complacency, he does not realize its significance, but this will be a source of regret when he grows old... In this glorious Cause the life of a married couple should resemble the life of the angels in heaven—a life full of joy and spiritual delight, a life of unity and concord, a friendship both mental and physical. The home should be orderly and well-organized. Their ideas and thoughts should be like the rays of the sun of truth and the radiance of the brilliant stars in the heavens. Even as two birds they should warble melodies upon the branches of the tree of fellowship and harmony. They should always be elated with joy and gladness and be a source of happiness to the hearts of others. They should set an example to their fellow-men, manifest true and sincere love [221] towards each other and educate their children in such a manner as to blazon the fame and glory of their family."

(From a talk of 'Abdu'l-Baha: Family Life, A Compilation of the Universal House of Justice, p. 13)


734. Keys to Strengthening of Family

"The relationship between husband and wife must be viewed in the context of the Baha'i ideal of family life. Baha'u'llah came to bring unity to the world, and a fundamental unity is that of the family. Therefore, one must believe that the Faith is intended to strengthen the family, not weaken it, and one of the keys to the strengthening of unity is loving consultation. The atmosphere within a Baha'i family as within the community as a whole should express 'the keynote of the Cause of God' which, the beloved Guardian has stated, 'is not dictatorial authority but humble fellowship, not arbitrary power, but the spirit of frank and loving consultation.'"

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice, December 28, 1980 to the National Spiritual Assembly of New Zealand)


735. Mother-in-Law Problem

"Regarding your other question concerning the strained relationship between you and your mother-in-law and what you can do to alleviate the situation, we feel you should, with the help and consultation of your husband, persevere in your efforts to achieve unity in the family. From your description of the unfriendly attitude your mother-in-law displays toward you it is clear that you will not have an easy task. However, the important thing is that you, as a Baha'i, are aware of 'Abdu'l-Baha's admonition to concentrate on an individual's good qualities and that this approach to your mother-in-law can strengthen you in your resolve to achieve unity. And furthermore, perseverance in prayer will give you the strength to continue your efforts."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, September 6, 1970: Family Life, A Compilation of the Universal House of Justice, p. 29)


736. A Truly Baha'i Home—A Fortress Upon which the Cause Can Rely

"A truly Baha'i home is a true fortress upon which the Cause can rely while planning its campaigns. If ... and ... love each other and would like to marry, Shoghi Effendi does not wish them to think that by doing so they are depriving themselves of the privilege of service; in fact such a union will enhance their ability to serve. There is nothing more beautiful than to have young Baha'is marry and found truly Baha'i homes, the type Baha'u'llah wishes them to be...."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, November 6, 1932: Ibid.)


737. The Home is an Institution Baha'u'llah Has Come to Strengthen and Not to Weaken

"Surely Shoghi Effendi would like to see you and the other friends give their whole time and energy to the Cause, for we are in great need for competent workers, but the home is an institution that Baha'u'llah has come to strengthen and not to weaken. Many unfortunate things have happened in Baha'i homes just for neglecting this point. Serve the Cause but also remember your duties towards your home. It is for you to find the balance and see that neither makes [222] you neglect the other. We would have many more husbands in the Cause were the wives more thoughtful and moderate in their Baha'i activities."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, May 14, 1929: Ibid.)


738. Preserve Baha'i Families: Harmony, Unity and Love Highest Ideals in Human Relationships

"Whenever there is a Baha'i family, those concerned should by all means do all they can to preserve it, because divorce is strongly condemned in the Teachings, whereas harmony, unity and love are held up as the highest ideals in human relationships. This must always apply to the Baha'is, whether they are serving in the pioneering field or not."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of Central America, November 9, 1956: Ibid., p. 20)


739. Rights and Prerogatives of Each Member of the Family

"According to the teachings of Baha'u'llah, the family being a human unit, must be educated according to the rules of sanctity. All the virtues must be taught the family. The integrity of the family bond must be constantly considered, and the rights of the individual members must not be transgressed. The rights of the son, the father, the mother—none of them must be transgressed, none of them must be arbitrary. Just as the son has certain obligations to his father, the father likewise has certain obligations to his son. The mother, the sister and other members of the household have their certain prerogatives. All these rights and prerogatives must be conserved, yet the unity of the family must be sustained. The injury of one shall be considered the injury of all; the comfort of each, the comfort of all; the honor of one, the honor of all."

('Abdu'l-Baha: The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 168, 1982 ed.)


740. Violence in the Home

"No statements dealing directly with violence in the family have come to light from the Writings; however, the House of Justice feels that the absence of specific references to the subject should not be construed as implying that we do not have the necessary guidance in the Faith to treat the problems cited in your letter. Acts of violence might properly be regarded as a negation of the persistent emphasis on concord, understanding and unity which are at the heart of the Baha'i Teachings, and the sacred Writings are replete with advice as to how these positive objectives may be attained. In His 'Tablet of the World' Baha'u'llah states,


"'...The distinguishing feature that marketh the pre-eminent character of this Supreme Revelation consisteth in that We have, on the one hand, blotted out from the pages of God's holy Book whatsoever hath been the cause of strife, of malice and mischief amongst the children of men and have, on the other, laid down the essential prerequisites of concord, of understanding, of complete and enduring unity. Well is it with them that keep My statutes.'


"Elsewhere in the same Tablet the 'people of God' are forbidden 'to engage in contention and conflict.' In view of such statements and the stress laid by both Baha'u'llah and 'Abdu'l-Baha on love and harmony as the hallmark of marriage, the law for which Baha'u'llah describes as a 'fortress for well-being and salvation;' and in view of 'Abdu'l-Baha's exhortation that each member of the family must uphold the rights of the others, it becomes obvious that violence in the family is antithetical to the spirit of the Faith and a practice to be condemned.


[223] "If the broad structure of society is to remain intact, resolute efforts, including medical ones, as necessary, should be made to curb acts of aggression within families, particularly their extreme forms of wife beating and child abuse by parents. This is a matter of fundamental importance, for if the friends are not able to maintain harmony within their families, on what other basis do they hope to demonstrate to a skeptical world the efficacy of the preeminent character of the Revelation of Baha'u'llah? What possible influence could they hope to exert on the development of nations and the establishment of world peace? The following statement by the beloved Master sheds illumination on these points:


"'...Compare the nations of the world to the members of a family. A family is a nation in miniature. Simply enlarge the circle of the household, and you have the nation. Enlarge the circle of nations and you have all humanity. The conditions surrounding the family surround the nation. The happenings in the family are the happenings in the life of the nation. Would it add to the progress and advancement of a family if dissensions should arise among its members, all fighting, pillaging each other, jealous and revengeful of injury, seeking selfish advantage? Nay, this would be the cause of the effacement of progress and advancement. So it is in the great family of nations, for nations are but an aggregate of families....'"

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly, September 22, 1983)


741. Love Can Change Vile, Mean Person into Heavenly Soul

"The Guardian ... is very much grieved indeed to learn of the severe opposition which you are encountering from your husband because of your affiliation with the Cause. He can very well realize the terrible condition facing you, but feels confident that Baha'u'llah is guiding you to follow the right way, and is continually assisting and strengthening you in your efforts to solve this most serious and challenging problem of your life. The staunch and unwavering loyalty and devotion which you have thus far so splendidly demonstrated in your attitude to the Faith is truly remarkable and worthy of the highest praise and admiration. The persecutions from which you are now suffering have this one great advantage, namely to deepen your faith in the Cause, and to revive and refresh your energies for its service. You should, therefore, rejoice and welcome those sufferings in so far as they serve to further awaken your consciousness of being a member of the New World Order of Baha'u'llah.


"The Guardian wishes me specially to urge you to remain patient and confident, and above all to show your husband the utmost kindness and love, in return for all the opposition and hatred you receive from him. A conciliatory and friendly attitude in such cases is not only the duty of every Baha'i but is also the most effective way of winning for the Cause the sympathy and admiration of its former foes and enemies. Love is, indeed, a most potent elixir that can transform the vilest and meanest of people into heavenly souls. May your example serve to further confirm the truth of this beautiful teaching of our Faith."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, December 6, 1935)


[224] 742. Believer Must Be Patient with Non-Baha'i Spouse, Attract with Loving Kindness, Wisdom, Tact

"As to your husband who, he is most sorry to hear, seems to be so antagonistic to the Cause, having fallen under the evil influence of Mr. ...: The Guardian wishes you to be patient with him, and to endeavour through loving kindness, wisdom and tact to enlist his consideration and sympathy for the Faith. However unfriendly his present attitude to the Cause may be, and no matter how seriously he may interfere in your activities as a believer, you should never lose hope of winning him to the Faith, nay even of guiding him to openly and actively assist you in your Baha'i activities. With the unfailing help of Baha'u'llah and the example of your own conduct your task will assuredly be made easy and will be crowned with success."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, October 15, 1939)


743. Teaching Relatives

"He would not advise you to in any way force the teachings on your husband, but rather through prayer, love and example attract his heart to what he will be forced to see has not only made you a happier person but a better wife and mother than ever before. It is often most difficult to teach those nearest to us, but the Guardian will earnestly pray that your husband and children will join you in serving this wonderful Cause."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer: High Endeavours, Messages to Alaska, pp. 72-73)


744. Earn Right to Plead on Behalf of Family

"He was sorry to hear that Mrs. ... is in an unhappy state of mind. She should certainly not grieve if she finds that her family are not receptive to the teachings—for not every soul is spiritually enlightened. Indeed, many members of the families of the Prophets themselves have remained unconverted even in face of the example and persuasion of the Manifestation of God; therefore, the friends should not be distressed by such things but rather leave the future of those they love in the hand of God, and by their services and devotion to the Faith, win the right to plead for their ultimate spiritual re-birth."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, March 9, 1942)


745. One Should Not Be Deceptive with Non-Baha'i Spouse or Parents

"It seems to him that just as you leave your husband free to believe or not to believe in whatever pleases him, he should accord you the same rudimentary privilege. Surely the right to worship God in the way one believes to be right is the greatest fundamental freedom in the world? On the other hand no one should force one's own convictions on another and if Mr. ... objects to your Baha'i affiliation you should carry on your activities not secretly, but not in such a way as to force him to be constantly conscious of them. In other words, you should, for his sake, sometimes forgo the pleasure of attending a Feast or meeting if there is something he wants you to do with him.


"The Guardian does not feel your daughter should deceive her father and not let him know she is a Baha'i. She, like you, for his sake should be willing to [225] sacrifice her attendance at meetings sometimes, but he cannot very well force her to not believe and accept what she holds to be the Truth for this Age!


"Every sincere believer in God must inevitably make some sacrifices, and, however heavy these may be, they are insignificant compared to the blessing of accepting Baha'u'llah. This is certainly true of dear Mr. ... who has suffered because of the firmness of his faith. We cannot bow to the blindness of the world; all we can do is to be tactful."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, September 22, 1948)


746. Duty of Believer to Endeavour to Lead Family to the Faith

"...If the believer is the only one of his family who has embraced the Faith, it is his duty to endeavour to lead as many other family members as possible to the light of divine guidance. As soon as a Baha'i family unit emerges, the members should feel responsible for making the collective life of the family a spiritual reality, animated by divine love and inspired by the ennobling principles of the Faith. To achieve this purpose, the reading of the Sacred Writings and prayers should ideally become a daily family activity. As far as the teaching work is concerned, just as individuals are called upon to adopt teaching goals, the family itself could adopt its own goals. In this way the friends could make of their families strong healthy units, bright candles for the diffusion of the light of the Kingdom, and powerful centres to attract the heavenly confirmations."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to all National Spiritual Assemblies, April 17, 1981)


747. If Family Members Are Hostile, Avoid Antagonizing Them, Leave Them to Themselves

"Not every one is ready to receive the Cause, but in every walk of life there are souls longing for this new Divine Outpouring, and sufficiently mature spiritually to accept it. The Baha'is, each according to his own opportunities, must seek out such people.


"The Guardian deeply regrets the hostile attitude of some members of your family towards the Cause you have arisen to serve, and he feels that you should do everything in your power to avoid antagonizing them—short, of course, of giving up your Faith and becoming inactive in it.


"As you cannot induce them to be interested in it, the best thing to do is what the Master always advised in such cases: leave them to themselves, and pray for them. The Guardian, you may be sure, will also pray for their illumination. Many people have, after bitterly opposing the Faith, been eventually won over by the patience, love, tact and prayers of their Baha'i relative or friend."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, October 14, 1943)



B. The Relationship Between Husband and Wife


748. Keys to Strengthening of Family

"The relationship between husband and wife must be viewed in the context of [226] the Baha'i ideal of family life. Baha'u'llah came to bring unity to the world, and a fundamental unity is that of the family. Therefore, one must believe that the Faith is intended to strengthen the family, not weaken it, and one of the keys to the strengthening of unity is loving consultation. The atmosphere within a Baha'i family as within the community as a whole should express 'the keynote of the Cause of God' which, the beloved Guardian has stated, 'is not dictatorial authority but humble fellowship, not arbitrary power, but the spirit of frank and loving consultation.'"

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of New Zealand, December 28, 1980)


749. Honour and Privilege Ordained for Women: Obedience to Husbands

"It is in this context of mutual and complementary duties and responsibilities that one should read the Tablet in which 'Abdu'l-Baha gives the following exhortation:


'O Handmaids of the Self-Sustaining Lord! Exert your efforts so that you may attain the honour and privilege ordained for women. Undoubtedly the greatest glory of women is servitude at His Threshold and submissiveness at His door; it is the possession of a vigilant heart, and praise of the incomparable God; it is heartfelt love towards other handmaids and spotless chastity; it is obedience to and consideration for their husbands and the education and care of their children; and it is tranquillity, and dignity, perseverance in the remembrance of the Lord, and the utmost enkindlement and attraction.'"

(Ibid.)


750. Domination by Husband or Wife Not Right

"This exhortation to the utmost degree of spirituality and self-abnegation should not be read as a legal definition giving the husband absolute authority over his wife, for, in a letter written to an individual believer on 22th July 1943, the beloved Guardian's secretary wrote on his behalf:

'The Guardian, in his remarks ... about parents and children, wives and husbands' relations in America meant that there is a tendency in that country for children to be too independent of the wishes of their parents and lacking in the respect due to them. Also wives, in some cases, have a tendency to exert an unjust degree of domination over their husbands which, of course, is not right, anymore than that the husband should unjustly dominate his wife.'"

(Ibid.)


751. Time When Wife Should Defer to Husband and Time When Husband Should Defer to Wife

"In any group, however loving the consultation, there are nevertheless points on which, from time to time, agreement cannot be reached. In a Spiritual Assembly this dilemma is resolved by a majority vote. There can, however, be no majority where only two parties are involved, as in the case of a husband and wife. There are, therefore, times when a wife should defer to her husband, and times when a husband should defer to his wife, but neither should ever unjustly dominate the other. In short, the relationship between husband and wife [227] should be as held forth in the prayer revealed by 'Abdu'l-Baha which is often read at Baha'i weddings: 'Verily they are married in obedience to Thy command. Cause them to become the signs of harmony and unity until the end of time.*'"

(Ibid.)

___________________

*(Baha'i Prayers, p. 107, 1982 ed.)


752. In Tablet of the World Women and Men Envisaged as Breadwinners

"In the Tablet of the World, Baha'u'llah Himself has envisaged that women as well as men would be breadwinners in stating:


'Everyone, whether man or woman, should hand over to a trusted person a portion of what he or she earneth through trade, agriculture or other occupation, for the training and education of children, to be spent for this purpose with the knowledge of the Trustees of the House of Justice.'

(Tablets of Baha'u'llah revealed after the Kitab-i-Aqdas, p. 90)


"A very important element in the attainment of such equality is Baha'u'llah's provision that boys and girls must follow essentially the same curriculum in schools."

(Ibid.)


753. Love Between Husband and Wife

"The friends of God must so live and conduct themselves and evince such excellence of character and conduct, as to make others astonished. The love between husband and wife should not be purely physical, nay rather it must be spiritual and heavenly. These two souls should be considered as one soul. How difficult it would be to divide a single soul! Nay, great would be the difficulty!


"In short, the foundation of the Kingdom of God is based upon harmony and love, oneness, relationship and union, not upon differences, especially between husband and wife."

('Abdu'l-Baha: Family Life, A Compilation of the Universal House of Justice)


754. The Institution of Marriage

"The institution of marriage, as established by Baha'u'llah, while giving due importance to the physical aspect of marital union considers it as subordinate to the moral and spiritual purposes and functions with which it has been invested by an all-wise and loving Providence. Only when these different values are given each their due importance, and only on the basis of the subordination of the physical to the moral, and the carnal to the spiritual can such excesses and laxity in marital relations as our decadent age is so sadly witnessing be avoided, and family life be restored to its original purity, and fulfill the true function for which it has been instituted by God."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, May 8, 1939: Ibid.)


755. Husband and Wife as a Single Soul

"...The Lord, peerless is He, hath made woman and man to abide with each other in the closest companionship, and to be even as a single soul. They are two helpmates, two intimate friends, who should be concerned about the welfare of each other.


[228] "If they live thus, they will pass through this world with perfect contentment, bliss, and peace of heart, and become the object of divine grace and favour in the Kingdom of heaven. But if they do other than this, they will live out their lives in great bitterness, longing at every moment for death, and will be shamefaced in the heavenly realm.


"Strive, then, to abide, heart and soul, with each other as two doves in the nest, for this is to be blessed in both worlds."

('Abdu'l-Baha: Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Baha, p. 122)


756. Wife Should Treat Husband with Kindness

"As to thy respected husband: It is incumbent upon thee to treat him with great kindness, to consider his wishes and be conciliatory with him at all times, till he seeth that because thou hast directed thyself toward the Kingdom of God, thy tenderness for him and thy love for God have but increased, as well as thy concern for his wishes under all conditions."

(Ibid., p. 122)


757. Tolerate Cruel Actions, Ill Treatment, Demonstrate Loving Kindness

"Hold thy husband dear and always show forth an amiable temper towards him, no matter how ill-tempered he may be. Even if thy loving kindness maketh him more bitter, manifest thou more kindliness, more tenderness, be more loving and tolerate his cruel actions and ill-treatment."

('Abdu'l-Baha: Family Life, A Compilation of the Universal House of Justice)


758. Pray to Baha'u'llah for Help, Think of 'Abdu'l-Baha as Perfect Example

"He feels you should by all means show your husband the greatest love and sympathy; if we are ever in any doubt as to how we should conduct ourselves as Baha'is we should think of 'Abdu'l-Baha and study His life and ask ourselves what would He have done, for He is our perfect example in every way. And you know how tender He was, and how His affection and kindness shone like sunlight on everyone.


"Your husband and your child have a right to your love, and give you a wonderful opportunity of demonstrating your faith in the Cause.


"Also you should pray to Baha'u'llah to help unite you with your husband and make your home a true and happy home."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, March 9, 1946: Ibid.)


759. Baha'is Should Make Almost a Superhuman Effort to Avoid Divorce*

"He feels that you should by all means make every effort to hold your marriage together, especially for the sake of your children, who, like all children of divorced parents, cannot but suffer from conflicting loyalties, for they are deprived of the blessing of a father and mother in one home, to look after their interests and love them jointly.


"Now that you realize that your husband is ill, you should be able to reconcile yourself to the difficulties you have faced with him emotionally, and not take an unforgiving attitude, however much you may suffer.


"We know that Baha'u'llah has very strongly frowned upon divorce; and it is really incumbent upon the Baha'is to make almost a superhuman effort not to allow a Baha'i marriage to be dissolved."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, March 6, 1953)

___________________

*(See also: XXIX. K. 1302-1338, Divorce.)



C. Ancestors and Descendants


[229] 760. Faith of Believer Attracts God's Mercy to Souls of Parents

"In reference to your questions about ancestors and descendants, we have been directed to say that while there are Tablets from Baha'u'llah stating that faith in the Manifestation of God on the part of a believer attracts God's mercy to the souls of departed parents the House of Justice knows of no text in Baha'i Writings to support the statement that a believer's seven past generations and seven generations to descend from him are blessed when that person becomes a Baha'i. You may also be familiar with the statement of 'Abdu'l-Baha that 'it is permitted to ask for advancement, forgiveness, mercy, beneficence, and blessings for a man after his death.... Therefore children ... must implore pardon and forgiveness for their parents.' (From "Some Answered Questions" pages 268-269)."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, February 23, 1978)


761. True Believer in Better Position to Intercede for Ancestors*

"We cannot take the teaching that if a believer remains steadfast till the end of his life he will be the means of the spiritual awakening of all his ancestors too literally, especially as it is only reported, and not in an authenticated form. However, we can be assured that the true and faithful believer will be in a much better position to intercede for his ancestors, and aid in their development than if he were not spiritually enlightened."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, December 12, 1942)

___________________

*(See also: No. 699)



D. The Relationships Between Parents and Children


762. The Most Important of All Duties After the Recognition of God—Due Regard for Rights of Parents

"The fruits of the tree of existence are trustworthiness, loyalty, truthfulness and purity. After the recognition of the oneness of the Lord, exalted be He, the most important of all duties is to have due regard for the rights of one's parents. This matter hath been mentioned in all the Books of God."

(Baha'u'llah: Family Life, A Compilation of the Universal House of Justice)


763. If Children Do Not Obey Parents—They Will Not Obey God

"The parents must exert every effort to rear their offspring to be religious, for should the children not attain this greatest of adornments, they will not obey their parents, which in a certain sense means that they will not obey God. Indeed, such children will show no consideration to anyone, and will do exactly as they please."

(Ibid.)


[230] 764. The Son Must Serve His Father

"We have enjoined upon every son to serve his father. Thus have We decreed this command in the Book."

(Ibid.)


765. Consultation Between Father and Son

"Regarding thy question about consultation of a father with his son, or a son with his father, in matters of trade and commerce, consultation is one of the fundamental elements of the foundation of the Law of God. Such consultation is assuredly acceptable, whether between father and son, or with others. There is nothing better than this. Man must consult in all things for this will lead him to the depths of each problem and enable him to find the right solution."

('Abdu'l-Baha: Ibid.)


766. Father Must Give Son Advice—Son Must Obey Father

"The father must always endeavour to educate his son and to acquaint him with the heavenly teachings. He must give him advice and exhort him at all times, teach him praiseworthy conduct and character, enable him to receive training at school and to be instructed in such arts and sciences as are deemed useful and necessary. In brief, let him instill into his mind the virtues and perfections of the world of humanity. Above all he should continually call to his mind the remembrance of God so that his throbbing veins and arteries may pulsate with the love of God.


"The son, on the other hand, must show forth the utmost obedience towards his father, and should conduct himself as a humble and a lowly servant. Day and night he should seek diligently to ensure the comfort and welfare of his loving father and to secure his good-pleasure. He must forgo his own rest and enjoyment and constantly strive to bring gladness to the hearts of his father and mother, that thereby he may attain the good-pleasure of the Almighty and be graciously aided by the hosts of the unseen."

(Ibid.)


767. Parents Must Be Respected—Should Not Keep Child Back from Serving the Cause

"If thou wouldst show kindness and consideration to thy parents so that they may feel generally pleased, this would also please Me, for parents must be highly respected and it is essential that they should feel contented, provided they deter thee not from gaining access to the Threshold of the Almighty, nor keep thee back from walking in the way of the Kingdom. Indeed it behoveth them to encourage and spur thee on in this direction."

(Ibid.)


768. If One Must Make Choice Between Service to Baha'u'llah or Service to Parents

"We have caused thee to return to thy home as a token of Our Mercy unto thy mother, inasmuch as We have found her overwhelmed with sorrow. We have enjoined you in the Book 'to worship no one but God and to show kindness to your parents'.* Thus hath the one true God spoken and the decree hath been [231] fulfilled by the Almighty, the All-Wise. Therefore We have caused thee to return unto her and unto thy sister, that your mother's eyes may thereby be cheered, and she may be of the thankful.


"Say, O My people! Show honour to your parents and pay homage to them. This will cause blessings to descend upon you from the clouds of the bounty of your Lord, the Exalted, the Great.


"When We learned of her sadness, We directed thee to return unto her, as a token of mercy unto thee from Our presence, and as an admonishment for others.


"Beware lest ye commit that which would sadden the hearts of your fathers and mothers. Follow ye the path of Truth which indeed is a straight path. Should anyone give you a choice between the opportunity to render a service to Me and a service to them, choose ye to serve them, and let such service be a path leading you to Me. This is My exhortation and command unto thee. Observe therefore that which thy Lord, the Mighty, the Gracious, hath prescribed unto thee."

(Baha'u'llah: Ibid.)

___________________

*(Qur'an 46:15)


769. It is a Privilege to Look After Parents

"In regard to the questions you asked him: He feels sure that, although in some ways you may be a financial burden to your children, it is to them a privilege to look after you; you are their mother and have given them life, and through the bounty of Baha'u'llah they are now attracted to His Faith. Anything they do for you is small recompense for all you have done for them."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, September 20, 1948: Ibid.)


770. Pray for Parents

"It is seemly that the servant should, after each prayer, supplicate God to bestow mercy and forgiveness upon his parents. Thereupon God's call will be raised: 'Thousand upon thousand of what thou hast asked for thy parents shall be thy recompense!' Blessed is he who remembereth his parents when communing with God. There is, verily, no God but Him, the Mighty, the Well-Beloved."

('Abdu'l-Baha: Ibid.))


"O Lord! In this Most Great Dispensation Thou dost accept the intercession of children in behalf of their parents. This is one of the special infinite bestowals of this Dispensation. Therefore, O Thou kind Lord, accept the request of this Thy servant at the threshold of Thy singleness and submerge his father in the ocean of Thy grace, because this son hath arisen to render Thee service and is exerting effort at all times in the pathway of Thy love. Verily, Thou art the Giver, the Forgiver and the Kind!"

('Abdu'l-Baha: Ibid.)


771. Father Who Fails to Educate His Children Forfeits Rights of Fatherhood

"These are all relationships within the family, but there is a much wider sphere of relationships between men and women than in the home, and this too we should consider in the context of Baha'i society, not in that of past or present [232] social norms. For example, although the mother is the first educator of the child, and the most important formative influence in his development, the father also has the responsibility of educating his children, and this responsibility is so weighty that Baha'u'llah has stated that a father who fails to exercise it forfeits his rights of fatherhood...."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of New Zealand, December 28, 1980)


772. Mothers Are Not Necessarily Confined to the Home

"...Similarly, although the primary responsibility for supporting the family financially is placed upon the husband, this does not by any means imply that the place of women is confined to the home. On the contrary, 'Abdu'l-Baha has stated:


'In this Revelation of Baha'u'llah, the women go neck and neck with the men. In no movement will they be left behind. Their rights with men are equal in degree. They will enter all the administrative branches of politics. They will attain in all such a degree as will be considered the very highest station of the world of humanity and will take part in all affairs.' (Paris Talks, p. 182)


"and again:


'So it will come to pass that when women participate fully and equally in the affairs of the world, when they enter confidently and capably the great arena of laws and politics, war will cease;...'" (The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 135)

(Ibid.)


773. Underage Child Needs Parental Consent to Pioneer

"Regarding the Guardian's statement that pioneering is conditioned upon the consent of parents and that it would be necessary for them to concur, you have asked whether this ruling applies equally to children who are of age and those who are not. The Guardian's reply is that the ruling applies only to those who have not yet come of age."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of Iran, January 18, 1943)


774. Parents and Children in the Pioneering Field

"The Universal House of Justice has received your letter of 23 June, 1977 in which you express the ardent desire of yourself and your husband to see your children grow as active supporters of the Faith, and you ask whether, in view of the responsibilities of Baha'i parents in the pioneering field, the seeming sufferings the children bear as the result of their parents' commitments in service to the Cause will somehow be compensated. We have been asked by the Universal House of Justice to convey to you the following points:


"In considering this problem it is important to bear in mind the reality of the unity of the family, and the children's part in its activities. In a talk which 'Abdu'l-Baha gave in America in 1912, He made this significant statement: [233] 'According to the teachings of Baha'u'llah, the family being a human unit must be educated according to the rules of sanctity.... The integrity of the family bond must be constantly considered and the rights of the individual members must not be transgressed, the rights of the son, the father, the mother, none of them must be transgressed, none of them must be arbitrary.... All these rights and prerogatives must be conserved, yet the unity of the family must be sustained.' (Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 168, 1982 ed.)


"It should also be realized that a child, from early life, is a conscious and thinking soul, a member of his family with his own duties towards it, and is able to make his own sacrifices for the Faith in many ways. It is suggested that the children should be made to feel that they are given the privilege and opportunity of participating in the decisions as to the services their parents are able to offer, thus making their own conscious decision to accept those services with consequence for their own lives. Indeed, the children can be led to realize that it is the earnest wish of their parents to undertake such services with their children's whole-hearted support.


"There are many texts included in 'A Compilation on Baha'i Education', from the writings of Baha'u'llah, 'Abdu'l-Baha and the Guardian, which indicate that 'children must, from their infancy, be raised to be spiritual and godly Baha'is. If such be their training, they will remain safe from every test.' ('Abdu'l-Baha, p. 36). Baha'u'llah Himself has written: 'As to the children: We have directed that in the beginning they should be trained in the observances and laws of religion; ... and in deeds that will further the victory of God's Cause...' (p. 8). They should even be trained from an early age to make their own sacrifices for the Faith, as indicated in these words: 'Bring them up to work and strive, and accustom them to hardship. Teach them to dedicate their lives to matters of great import...' ('Abdu'l-Baha, p. 31)."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, August 23, 1977)



XVII. THE FAST


[234] 775. Fasting—Spiritual in Character

"The fasting period, which lasts nineteen days starting as a rule from the second of March every year and ending on the twentieth of the same month, involves complete abstention from food and drink from sunrise till sunset. It is essentially a period of meditation and prayer, of spiritual recuperation, during which the believer must strive to make the necessary readjustments in his inner life, and to refresh and reinvigorate the spiritual forces latent in his soul. Its significance and purpose are, therefore, fundamentally spiritual in character. Fasting is symbolic, and a reminder of abstinence from selfish and carnal desires."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, January 10, 1936)


776. Observance of the Fast is a Universal Obligation—Baha'u'llah Permits Certain Exceptions to Fasting

"Regarding the nineteen-day fast: Its observance has been enjoined by Baha'u'llah upon all the believers, once they attain the age of fifteen and until they reach seventy. Children of all countries, nationalities and classes who are fifteen years old are under this obligation. It matters not whether they mature later in one country than in another. The command of Baha'u'llah is universal, irrespective of any variance in the age of maturity in different countries and among different peoples.


"In the 'Aqdas' Baha'u'llah permits certain exceptions to this general obligation of fasting, among them are included those who do hard work, such as workers in heavy industries.


"But while a universal obligation, the observance of the nineteen day fast has been made by Baha'u'llah the sole responsibility of the individual believer. No Assembly has the right to enforce it on the friends, or to hold anybody responsible for not observing it. The believer is free, however, to ask the advice of his Assembly as to the circumstances that would justify him to conscientiously break such a fast. But he is by no means required to do so."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, March 9, 1937)


777. Fasting has a Salutary Effect Both Physically and Spiritually

"Keeping the Fast is enjoined upon all Baha'is, regardless of nationality; it has a very salutary effect both physically and spiritually, and the friends should realize Baha'u'llah never would have instituted it if it were detrimental to the health."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, May 21, 1946)


778. The Doctor's Advice Should Be Sought if There is a Health Problem

"As to your question regarding the Fast: If there is any doubt in the mind of a person as to whether it will really be bad for that person's health to keep it, the best doctor's advice should be obtained. But generally speaking most people can [235] keep it, anywhere in the world, with no detriment to their health. It is very good for the health and, once one forms the habit, each year it becomes easier to keep, unless one is rundown. No one is obliged to keep it if it really harms them."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, April 14, 1947)


779. The Divine Wisdom in Fasting

"The Divine wisdom in fasting is manifold. Among them is this: As during those days (i.e., the period of fasting which the followers afterward observe) the Manifestation of the Sun of Reality, through Divine inspiration, is engaged in the descent (revealing) of Verses, the instituting of Divine Law and the arrangement of teachings, through excessive occupation and intensive attraction there remains no condition or time for eating and drinking. For example, when His Holiness Moses went to Mount Tur (Sinai) and there engaged in instituting the Law of God, He fasted forty days. For the purpose of awakening and admonishing the people of Israel, fasting was enjoined upon them.


"Likewise, His Holiness Christ, in the beginning of instituting the Spiritual Law, the systematizing of the teachings and the arrangement of counsels, for forty days abstained from eating and drinking. In the beginning the disciples and Christians fasted. Later the assemblages of the chief Christians changed fasting into lenten observances.


"Likewise the Koran having descended in the month of Ramazan, fasting during that month became a duty.


"In like manner His Holiness the Supreme (the Bab), in the beginning of the Manifestation through the excessive effect of descending verses, passed days in which His nourishment was reduced to tea only.


"Likewise, the Blessed Beauty (Baha'o'llah), when busy with instituting the Divine Teachings and during the days when the Verses (The Word of God) descended continuously, through the great effect of the Verses and the throbbing of the heart, took no food except the least amount.


"The purpose is this: In order to follow the Divine Manifestations and for the purpose of admonition and the commemoration of their state, it became incumbent upon the people to fast during those days. For every sincere soul who has a beloved longs to experience that state in which his beloved is. If his beloved is in a state of sorrow, he desires sorrow; if in a state of joy, he desires joy; if in a state of rest, he desires rest; if in a state of trouble, he desires trouble.


"Now, since in this Millennial Day, His Holiness the Supreme (the Bab) fasted many days, and the Blessed Beauty (Baha'o'llah) took but little food or drink, it becomes necessary that the friends should follow that example...."

(From Table Talks by 'Abdu'l-Baha, by Mrs. Corinne True: Star of the West, Vol. IV, No. 18, p. 305)


780. Travellers Are Exempt from Fasting—If One Eats Unconsciously, Fast is Not Broken

"Regarding your question concerning the Fast: Travellers are exempt from fasting, but if they want to fast while they are travelling, they are free to do so. You are exempt the whole period of your travel, not just the hours you [236] are in a train or car, etc. If one eats unconsciously during the fasting hours, this is not breaking the Fast as it is an accident. The age limit is seventy years, but if one desires to fast after the age limit is passed, and is strong enough to, one is free to do so. If during the Fast period a person falls ill and is unable to fast, but recovers before the Fast period is over, he can start to Fast again and continue until the end. Of course the Fast, as you know, can only be kept during the month set aside for that purpose."

(Shoghi Effendi: Principles of Baha'i Administration, pp. 9-10)


781. Fasting in High Latitudes

"It is true that Baha'u'llah has ordained in the Kitab-i-Aqdas that in the high latitudes where the duration of days and nights varies considerably clocks should be relied upon rather than the rising and setting of the sun. However, we feel that Dublin is too far south for the application of this law. You should thus judge the end of each day by the actual sunset."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the British Isles, August 8, 1969)


782. Smoking is a Form of Drinking

"In one of His Tablets 'Abdu'l-Baha, after stating that fasting consists of abstinence from food and drink, categorically says that smoking is a form of 'drink'. (In Arabic the verb 'drink' applies equally to smoking.)

"In the East, therefore, the friends abstain from smoking during the hours of fasting, and friends from the East living in the West do likewise. But, as stated in our letter to the National Spiritual Assembly of New Zealand, this application of the Divine Law has not been extended to the friends in the West for the present, and therefore it should not be made an issue."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, March 15, 1972)


783. Observance of Fast When Attending Military School

"With reference to your son's request for advice regarding the observance of the Baha'i fast: Much as the Guardian realizes the difficulty which a believer of his position, attending a military school, will have to encounter if he wishes to strictly conform to the regulations of the fast, he nevertheless would advise him to make every effort to obtain from the school authorities the necessary permission. In case his request is refused the only alternative for him would be to obey his superiors."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, October 27, 1938)


784. Prayer for the Fast

"O God! as I am fasting from the appetites of the body and not occupied with eating and drinking, even so purify and make holy my heart and my life from aught else save Thy Love, and protect and preserve my soul from self-passions and animal traits. Thus may the spirit associate with the Fragrances of Holiness and fast from everything else save Thy mention."

('Abdu'l-Baha: Star of the West, Vol. IV, No. 18, p. 305)



XVIII. FEAR


[237] 785. Fear of God and Sense of Shame Protect Man from Unseemly Conduct

"...Verily I say: The fear of God hath ever been a sure defence and a safe stronghold for all the peoples of the world. It is the chief cause of the protection of mankind, and the supreme instrument for its preservation. Indeed, there existeth in man a faculty which deterreth him from, and guardeth him against, whatever is unworthy and unseemly, and which is known as his sense of shame. This, however, is confined to but a few; all have not possessed and do not possess it."

(Baha'u'llah: Tablets of Baha'u'llah revealed after the Kitab-i-Aqdas, 1978 ed., p. 63)


786. Teach Children the Fear of God Through Concept of Oneness and the Laws

"That which is of paramount importance for the children, that which must precede all else, is to teach them the oneness of God and the Laws of God. For lacking this the fear of God cannot be inculcated, and lacking the fear of God an infinity of odious and abominable actions will spring up, and sentiments will be uttered that transgress all bounds...."

(Baha'u'llah: Baha'i Education: A Compilation, p. 6, compiled by the Universal House of Justice)


787. The Knowledge which Will Largely Eliminate Fear

"In the treasuries of the knowledge of God there lieth concealed a knowledge which, when applied, will largely, though not wholly, eliminate fear. This knowledge, however, should be taught from childhood, as it will greatly aid in its elimination. Whatever decreaseth fear increaseth courage...."

(Baha'u'llah: Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, p. 32)


788. Lack of Faith in Immortality is a Cause of Fear, Weakened Will Power and Human Degradation

"The conception of annihilation is a factor in human degradation, fear and abjection. It has been conducive to the dispersion and weakening of human thought whereas the realization of existence and continuity has upraised man to sublimity of ideals, established the foundations of human progress and stimulated the development of heavenly virtues; therefore it behoves man to abandon thoughts of non-existence and death, which are absolutely imaginary and see himself ever living, everlasting in the divine purpose of his creation. He must turn away from ideas which degrade the human soul, so that day by day and hour by hour he may advance upward and higher to spiritual perception of the continuity of the human reality. If he dwells on the thought of non-existence he will become utterly incompetent; with weakened will-power his ambition for progress will be lessened and the acquisition of human virtues will cease."

('Abdu'l-Baha: Baha'i World Faith, 1971 ed., p. 265)


[238] 789. Meaning of the Term "Fear of God"

"You have asked the exact meaning of the term 'Fear of God' mentioned in Baha'i Sacred Writings: It often means awe, but has also other connotations such as reverence, terror and fear."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, November 13, 1940)


"We have no way of knowing what science Baha'u'llah meant when He said it would largely eliminate fear; as no further mention of it was ever made in the teachings, the Guardian cannot identify anything with this statement. To do so would depart from his function as interpreter of the teachings; he cannot reveal anything apart from the given teachings."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, August 30, 1952)


790. Explaining Fear of God to Children

"In explaining the fear of God to children, there is no objection to teaching it as 'Abdu'l-Baha so often taught everything, in the form of parables. Also the child should be made to understand that we don't fear God because He is cruel, but we fear Him because He is just, and, if we do wrong and deserve to be punished, then in His justice He may see fit to punish us. We must both love God and fear Him."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, February 15, 1957)


791. Fear Does Not Solve Problems

"He does not feel that fear—for ourselves or for others—solves any problem, or enables us to better meet it if it ever does arise. We do not know what the future holds exactly, or how soon we may all pass through another ordeal worse than the last one.


"But what we do know is that all we can do as Baha'is is to teach and to exemplify the Faith. We cannot bear the burden of suffering of others, and we should not try to. All men are in God's hands, and even if they do get killed we know there is another life beyond this than can hold great hope and happiness for the soul.


"No matter what happens, nothing is as important as our feeling of trust in God, our inner peacefulness and faith that all, in the end, in spite of the severity of the ordeals we may pass through, will come out as Baha'u'llah has promised.


"He urges you to put these dark thoughts from your mind, and remember that if God, the Creator of all men, can bear to see them suffer so, it is not for us to question His wisdom. He can compensate the innocent, in His own way, for the afflictions they bear."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, September 30, 1950)


792. Overcoming Fear

"He will certainly pray that you may entirely overcome your fear-complex. When you concentrate your thoughts on realizing that you now belong to Baha'u'llah, [239] are His servant whom He loves and will always help, if you ask Him to, and that the great spiritual strength of the Cause of God is behind you for you to draw upon, you will soon see your fears melting away."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer: High Endeavors, Messages to Alaska, p. 70)


793. Forget Fears, Teach and Serve the Faith

"The Guardian urges you to forget all your fears, and with a tranquil heart and radiant spirit, to teach and serve the Faith all you can in Yonkers and its vicinity, while depending on God for your guidance and help. The teaching work is of the utmost importance in these days, and whoever engages in it will be reinforced by the Hosts on High."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, July 31, 1953)


794. Fear of God—Human Beings Need Element of Fear

"You ask him about the fear of God: perhaps the friends do not realize that the majority of human beings need the element of fear in order to discipline their conduct? Only a relatively very highly evolved soul would always be disciplined by love alone. Fear of punishment, fear of the anger of God if we do evil, are needed to keep people's feet on the right path. Of course we should love God—but we must fear Him in the sense of a child fearing the righteous anger and chastisement of a parent; not cringe before Him as before a tyrant, but know His mercy exceeds His Justice!"

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, July 26, 1946: Baha'i Education, A Compilation, compiled by the Universal House of Justice)



XIX. THE NINETEEN DAY FEAST



A. Nature and Function


[240] 795. Purpose of the Nineteen Day Feast

"...The main purpose of the Nineteen Day Feasts is to enable individual believers to offer any suggestion to the Local Assembly which in its turn will pass it to the National Spiritual Assembly. The Local Assembly is, therefore, the proper medium through which local Baha'i communities can communicate with the body of the national representatives...."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, November 18, 1933: The Nineteen Day Feast, p. 24, A Compilation from the Universal House of Justice)


796. The Lord's Supper—The Nineteen Day Feast

"You must continue to keep the Nineteen Day Feast. It is very important; it is very good. But when you present yourselves in the meetings, before entering them, free yourselves from all that you have in your heart, free your thoughts and your minds from all else save God, and speak to your heart. That all may make this a gathering of love, make it the cause of illumination, make it a gathering of attraction of the hearts, surround this gathering with the Lights of the Supreme Concourse, so that you may be gathered together with the utmost love.


"Each one of you must think how to make happy and pleased the other members of your Assembly, and each one must consider all those who are present as better and greater than himself, and each one must consider himself less than the rest. Know their station as high, and think of your own station as low."

('Abdu'l-Baha: Star of the West, Vol. IV, No. 7, p. 120)


797. 'Abdu'l-Baha is Present in Heart and Soul

"Make ye an effort in every meeting that the Lord's Supper may become realised and the heavenly food descend. This heavenly food is knowledge, understanding, faith, assurance, love, affinity, kindness, purity of purpose, attraction of hearts and the union of souls.... When the meeting is conducted after this manner, then 'Abdu'l-Baha also is present in heart and soul, though His body may not be with you."

('Abdu'l-Baha: Baha'i World Faith, pp. 407-408)


798. Attendance at Nineteen Day Feasts Not Obligatory

"Attendance at Nineteen Day Feasts is not obligatory but very important, and every believer should consider it a duty and a privilege to be present on such occasions."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, December 15, 1947: Baha'i News, No. 210, p. 3, August 1948)


[241] 799. If Feasts Be Held in Proper Fashion...

"As to the Nineteen Day Feast, it rejoiceth mind and heart. If this feast be held in the proper fashion, the friends will, once in nineteen days, find themselves spiritually restored, and endued with a power that is not of this world."

('Abdu'l-Baha: Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Baha, p. 91)


800. Prophecies About Feasts

"...This is that 'divine table' (or food) of which mention is made in the prophecies: 'On that day they shall gather together at the divine table', and 'people shall come from the East and the West and arrive in His Kingdom'."

('Abdu'l-Baha: Tablets of 'Abdu'l-Baha, Vol. II, p. 422, 1940 ed.)


801. Visitors Can Take Part in Consultation, They Cannot Vote

"As to visitors to a Nineteen Day Feast, Baha'is from anywhere in the world should of course be warmly welcomed, and may take part in consultation. However, only members of the local community can vote on recommendations to the Local Spiritual Assembly."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the British Isles, December 1, 1968)


802. Omit Consultative Part of Feast if Non-Baha'i Appears

"The rule that only Baha'is may take part in Nineteen Day Feasts is not a new one, indeed it was often reiterated by the beloved Guardian. However, when a non-Baha'i does appear at a Feast he should not be asked to leave; rather the Assembly should omit the consultative part of the Feast, and the non-Baha'i should be made welcome. Of course, if the non-Baha'i is well known to the Baha'is and no hurt feelings would be caused, he might be asked to retire during the consultative part. In general, however, it is much better to avoid such problems where possible, and you seem to have taken the wisest course during your friends' last visit by taking them out for the evening, so avoiding the problem.


"During the period of consultation the Baha'is should be able to enjoy perfect freedom to express their views on the work of the Cause, unembarrassed by the feeling that all they are saying is being heard by someone who has not accepted Baha'u'llah and who might, thereby, gain a very distorted picture of the Faith. It would also be very embarrassing for any sensitive non-Baha'i to find himself plunged into the midst of a discussion of the detailed affairs of a Baha'i Community of which he is not a part."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, March 24, 1970)


803. Voting Rights Cannot Be Removed for Failure to Attend Feast

"The Guardian has never heard of any ruling by which a believer who does not attend three consecutive 19 Day Feasts can be deprived of his voting rights. He does not consider that such action is justifiable at all. The whole question is whether a person considers himself a Baha'i or not, and is willing to adhere [242] to the principles of the Faith and accept the authority of the Guardian and the Administration—whether that individual is able, or always in a condition psychologically to attend Feasts and Baha'i meetings is an entirely different subject...."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of Germany and Austria, March 2, 1951)


804. Non-Baha'i Attendance at Nineteen Day Feast

"With regard to the attendance of non-Baha'is at a Nineteen Day Feast, you can explain to ... the essentially domestic, administrative nature of the Nineteen Day Feast.... The Guardian's secretary wrote on his behalf on 21 September, 1946:


'As regards your question concerning Nineteen Day Feasts ... as to non-Baha'is attending, this should by all means be avoided, but if non-believers come to a Nineteen Day Feast, they should not be put out, as this might hurt their feelings.'


"This is why, if a non-Baha'i does appear at a Nineteen Day Feast he should be made to feel welcome, but a Baha'i should certainly not invite a non-Baha'i to attend.


"A non-Baha'i who asks to be invited to a Feast will usually understand if this matter is explained to him."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the British Isles, March 13, 1967)


805. The Nineteen Day Feast for Baha'is Exclusively—No Variation from this Principle Permitted

"The beloved Guardian has instructed me to write you concerning an action recently taken by your National Assembly, as published in your January-February Baha'i News, that non-Baha'is may attend 19 Day Feasts if 'the earnestness of their interest in the Faith' is vouched for by a declared believer.


"The Guardian wishes me to direct your attention to the fact that none of the institutions of the Faith nor its cardinal principles may be changed under any circumstances.


"The 19 Day Feast is an institution of the Cause, first established by the Bab, later confirmed by Baha'u'llah, and now made a prominent part of the administrative order of the Faith. These 19 Day Feasts are for the Baha'is, and the Baha'is exclusively, and no variation from this principle is permitted.


"Thus the Guardian feels you should rescind the action taken by your Assembly in opening the Feasts to 'near Baha'is', as it is not consistent with the spirit of the administrative order for non-Baha'is or near Baha'is to attend the 19 Day Feasts, particularly the administrative portion of the Feast."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of Germany and Austria, May 28, 1954: The Nineteen Day Feast, November 1975)


806. Baha'i Groups, Isolated Believers and Friends Should Observe the Nineteen Day Feast

"In reply to your letter of November 8th we feel that all friends, whatever their circumstances, should be encouraged to observe the Nineteen Day Feast. [243] Obviously it can only be an official administrative occasion where there is a Local Spiritual Assembly to take charge of it, present reports to the friends, and receive their recommendations. But groups, spontaneous gatherings of friends, and even isolated believers should certainly remember the day and say prayers together. In the case of a group it may well hold the Feast in the manner in which a Local Spiritual Assembly would do so, recognizing of course that it has no official administrative standing."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the British Isles, December 1, 1968, Baha'i Journal of the British Isles, No. 190, March-April 1969)


807. Where Nineteen Day Feast Should Be Held

"The matter of where the Nineteen Day Feasts should be held is certainly one for the Spiritual Assembly to decide; but the Haziratu'l-Quds seems the logical place on most occasions. Until the friends have a place of worship ... this building will also be used for devotional meetings, as well as for administrative purposes.


"If under some circumstances, some special Feast is offered in the home of one of the believers, with the approval of the Spiritual Assembly, there can be no objection; but, generally speaking, he feels it is better to use the Haziratu'l-Quds."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, February 18, 1954: The Nineteen Day Feast, p. 31)


808. The Owner of the House Must Personally Serve

"...The owner of the house must personally serve the beloved ones. He must seek after the comfort of all and with the utmost humility he must show forth kindness to every one. If the Feast is arranged in this manner and in the way mentioned, that supper is the 'Lord's Supper', for the result is the same result and the effect is the same effect."

('Abdu'l-Baha: Tablets of 'Abdu'l-Baha, Vol. II, pp. 468-469)


809. Children Up to Age Fifteen Permitted to Attend Feasts

"Up to the age of fifteen, children of Baha'i parents are considered to be Baha'is and are permitted to attend such functions as Feasts. Upon reaching the age of fifteen, however, the child must make his own declaration of faith if he wishes to continue as a Baha'i. Again, the mechanics of enrollment are left to the discretion of the National Spiritual Assembly."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Brazil, March 27, 1968)


810. District Nineteen Day Feasts

"Each city will have its own Spiritual Assembly, not a number of district ones. Naturally, district 19 Day Feasts can be held where there are very many Baha'is in one city."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, March 31, 1949: The Nineteen Day Feast, p. 29)



B. Time for Holding Nineteen Day Feast


[244] 811. Time for Holding the Nineteen Day Feast

"We have your letter of October 12, 1971 concerning the date for the holding of the Nineteen Day Feast. It is preferable that Nineteen Day Feasts be held on the first day of the Baha'i month, but if it should be difficult to do so, it is permissible to hold it on a succeeding day of the Baha'i month. The matter is left to the discretion of the Local Spiritual Assembly."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Teaching Committee of Iceland, October 28, 1971, Australian Baha'i Bulletin, No. 213, May 1972, p. 7)


812. If Feast Clashes with Regular Day for Public Meeting

"The Nineteen Day Feast should be held, preferably, on the first day of the Baha'i month, that is to say the Baha'i day, beginning at sunset. If this is not possible for some good reason, for example that it clashes with the regular day for a public meeting, then it may be held later, but it must fall within that same Baha'i month and should be on the nearest possible date."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the British Isles, August 8, 1969)


813. Feast Should Be Held on Prescribed Day Before Sunset

"Regarding the time for holding of the Nineteen Day Feasts and elections: The Guardian would advise your Assembly to urge the friends to hold such gatherings on the prescribed day before sunset. If impossible, then it is permissible to hold them on the preceding day...."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, December 24, 1939: Baha'i Meetings, The Nineteen Day Feast, p. 28)


814. Feast Can Be Celebrated During Intercalary Days, Also Month of Fasting

"...relative to the last Nineteen Day Feast, Shoghi Effendi sees no objection if the friends choose to celebrate it on one of the intercalary days. They may also celebrate it during the month of fasting, provided they abstain from food."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, August 2, 1929)


815. In High Latitudes Permissible to Go by the Clock

"As to whether the celebrating of the Feasts, Holy Days and the Fast should follow the rising and the setting of sun, in the high latitudes it is permissible to go by the clock."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Teaching Committee of Iceland October 28, 1971: Australian Baha'i Bulletin, No. 213, May 1972, p. 7)


816. "Most Suitable" Day for Celebrations of the Nineteen Day Feast

"...You ask if it is within the discretion of a Local Spiritual Assembly, to schedule the Feasts at times other than the first day of a Baha'i month, and point out that attendance was very low when the Feasts were held in the middle of a week, but that when held on a Saturday many more of the friends were [245] able to attend. It seems obvious, therefore, that the intent of the Local Assembly, in loving consideration of the members of its community, was to make the participation in a Nineteen Day Feast available to as many of the believers as possible. Perhaps the Assembly was basing its decision on 'Abdu'l-Baha's statement, taken from the compilation on the Nineteen Day Feast, that the 'object' of the Feast is 'concord, that through this fellowship hearts may become perfectly united...'


"Other passages from that same compilation are: 


'This Feast is a bringer of joy. It is the groundwork of agreement and unity. 


It is the key to affection and fellowship... 


'The believers of God must assemble and associate with each other in the utmost love, joy and fragrance.'


"On the other hand, since the beloved Guardian expressed a preference, and considered it 'most suitable', for the Feast to be held on the first day of each month, the House of Justice hopes that the friends everywhere will aim at scheduling their Nineteen Day Feasts in this way, and that the friends themselves will arrange their personal affairs to be able to attend.


"As in so many aspects of our beloved Faith, this is a matter of the gradual maturing of the Baha'is and of the institutions. The House of Justice feels that you should lovingly guide the Local Assemblies in this matter, but leave it to their discretion for the time being."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Mexico, October 10, 1985)



C. Programme for the Nineteen Day Feast


817. Devotional Part of Feast

"The question regarding the devotional part of the Feast has been obscured because once he used the term 'devotional' in its strict sense, which of course means prayer, and once loosely, in the sense in which the Baha'is usually understand it, and that is the meeting together and reading from the teachings which precedes the administrative—or consultative—aspect of the 19 Day Feast. The two statements in no way change the method of holding this part of the Feast which, in the East at any rate, is always opened with prayers and afterwards Tablets and excerpts from Baha'u'llah's, or the Master's or the Guardian's writings may be read or, for that matter, the Bible or the Qur'an quoted."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, April 11, 1949: Baha'i Meetings, The Nineteen Day Feast, p. 30)


818. Programme for Devotions Outlined

"Concerning the matter of the devotions at Nineteen Day Feasts. We see no contradiction in the three statements of the beloved Guardian. In essence they all describe exactly the same procedure, namely, that the Feast is opened with devotional readings, that is to say prayers and meditations, from the Writings of Baha'u'llah, the Bab, and the Master. Following these passages may be read from other Tablets, from the Holy Scriptures of previous Dispensations, and from the writings of the Guardian. It is clear, however, that the beloved Guardian would not wish his own words to be read as part of an arranged devotional programme in which they would [246] be interspersed among words of Holy Scripture. In other words, at the Nineteen Day Feast, where words of the Guardian are to be read they should follow any selections from the Scriptures and not be mixed with them. This does not mean, however, that subsequently in the Feast, any of these types of writings may not be read as suitable during the consultation."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the Hands of the Cause of God, August 25, 1965: cited in a letter from the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, October 15, 1972)


819. Writings which Can Be Read in Spiritual Part of Feast

"The Writings of the Bab and Baha'u'llah can certainly be read any time at any place; likewise the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Baha are read freely during the spiritual part of the Feast. The Guardian has instructed that during the spiritual part of the Feast, his own writings should not be read. In other words, during the spiritual part of the Feast, readings should be confined to the Writings of the Bab, Baha'u'llah and to a lesser extent, of the Master; but during that part of the Feast the Guardian's writings should not be read. During the period of administrative discussion of the Feast, then the Guardian's writings may be read. Of course, during the administrative part of the Feast there can be no objection to the reading of the Writings of the Bab, Baha'u'llah or 'Abdu'l-Baha."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, April 27, 1956: Ibid., p. 9)


820. Reading from Writings of the Guardian at Feast in Persia

"Concerning the permissibility of reading selections from the writings of the beloved Guardian at Nineteen Day Feasts in Persia: It is true, as you rightly point out, that the beloved Guardian in a letter to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States stated that only the Writings of Baha'u'llah and 'Abdu'l-Baha should be read during the devotional part of the Nineteen Day Feast....


"...it should be borne in mind that the Persian writings of Shoghi Effendi are unique in nature, and many of them, unlike his English letters and messages addressed to the western believers, are interspersed with supplications, prayers and homilies of a devotional character which are suitable for the spiritual part of Baha'i Feasts."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, October 15, 1972)


821. Advisable to Read from Our Own Holy Writings

"First, he feels that although in principle there is certainly no reason why excerpts from other Sacred Scriptures should not be read in the spiritual part of our Feasts, that as this is particularly an occasion when Baha'is get together to deepen their own spiritual life, it is, generally speaking, advisable for them to read from their own holy Writings in the spiritual part of the Feast."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, February 18, 1954: Baha'i Meetings and the Nineteen Day Feast, p. 31, Wilmette, 1976)


822. Music at Baha'i Feasts

"Music is permitted during the spiritual part—or any part—of the 19 Day Feast."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, June 30, 1952: Ibid.)


[247] 823. Advisable Believers Make Use of Hymns, Poems and Chants

"With regard to your question concerning the use of music in the Nineteen Day Feasts, he wishes you to assure all the friends that not only he approves of such a practice, but thinks it even advisable that the believers should make use, in their meetings, of hymns composed by Baha'is themselves, and also of such hymns, poems and chants as are based on the Holy Words."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, April 7, 1935: Ibid., p. 5)


824. Instrumental Music May Be Used at Feasts

"Instrumental music may be used at the Baha'i Feasts.


"There is no objection to showing appreciation by the clapping of hands.


"If an individual has a teaching appointment on the same evening as a 19 Day Feast, it is left to the individual to judge which is the most important."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, August 20, 1956: Ibid., p. 33)


825. Shoghi Effendi Provided for the Period of Consultation

"...In the Arabic Bayan the Bab called upon His followers to gather together once every nineteen days to show hospitality and fellowship. Baha'u'llah here confirms this and notes the unifying role of such occasions.


"Abdu'l-Baha and Shoghi Effendi after Him have gradually unfolded the institutional significance of this injunction. 'Abdu'l-Baha emphasized the importance of the spiritual and devotional character of these gatherings. Shoghi Effendi, besides further elaborating the devotional and social aspects of the Feast, has developed the administrative element of such gatherings and, in systematically instituting the Feast, has provided for a period of consultation on the affairs of the Baha'i community, including the sharing of news and messages.

(Baha'u'llah: The Kitab-i-Aqdas: N. 82, p. 202)


826. Consultation in the Nineteen Day Feast*

"The Baha'is must learn to forget personalities and to overcome the desire—so natural in people—to take sides and fight about it. They must also learn to really make use of the great principle of consultation. There is a time set aside at the 19 Day Feasts for the community to express its views and make suggestions to its Assembly; the Assembly and the believers should look forward to this happy period of discussion, and neither fear it nor suppress it. Likewise, the Assembly members should fully consult, and in their decisions put the interest of the Cause first and not personalities, the will of the majority prevailing."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of Germany and Austria, June 30, 1949: Baha'i Meetings; The Nineteen Day Feast, p. 30)

___________________

*(See also: No. 288)


827. Selling of Items at the Nineteen Day Feast

"As to the sale of items during the Nineteen Day Feast, we leave this to your discretion, bearing in mind that the principal purpose of holding the Feast should not be diverted and that pressure should not be placed upon the friends to participate in the purchase of articles offered for sale. Neither should it become an habitual thing. It would be better if the sale was not conducted during the Feast itself, but held at a separate time before or after the Feast proper."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Panama, April 1, 1968)



XX. FIRESIDES


[248] 828. Firesides More Effective Than Publicity

"...I would like to comment that it has been found over the entire world that the most effective method of teaching the Faith is the fireside meeting in the home. Every Baha'i as a part of his spiritual birthright, must teach, and the one avenue where he can do this most effectively is by inviting friends into his home once in 19 days, and gradually attracting them to the Cause. After the individuals have confidence in the pioneer, and the pioneer in the individuals, then they can be taught and confirmed in the Faith. This method is far more effective than advertising in newspapers, public lectures etc. The Guardian is encouraging the believers over the world, including those on the home fronts, to engage in this method of teaching."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the Baha'i Group of Key West, Florida, March 31, 1955: Baha'i News, No. 292, pp. 9-10)


829. Must Hold Fireside in Home Once in 19 Days

"The friends must realize their individual responsibility. Each must hold a Fireside in his or her home, once in 19 days, where new people are invited, and where some phase of the Faith is mentioned and discussed. If this is done with the intent of showing Baha'i hospitality and love, then there will be results. People will become interested in 'what' you are interested in, and then be interested in studying. Individual firesides will bring the knowledge of the Faith to more people, under favourable circumstances, and thus constantly enrich its circle of friends, and finally its members. There is no substitute for the teaching work of the individual."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, March 6, 1957: Baha'i News, No. 317, July 1957, p. 4)


830. Service Once Rendered by Priest is the Service a Baha'i is Expected to Render Individually to His Religion

"The believers must be encouraged to teach individually in their own homes. Baha'u'llah has enjoined upon the Baha'is the sacred obligation of teaching. We have no priests, therefore the service once rendered by priests to their religions is the service every single Baha'i is expected to render individually to his religion. He must be the one who enlightens new souls, confirms them, heals the wounded and the weary upon the road of life, gives them to quaff from the chalice of everlasting life—the knowledge of the Manifestation of God in His Day."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Benelux Countries, July 5, 1957)


831. That Home is a Garden of God

"Blessed art thou for having opened the door of thy home unto the people to come and hear of the Kingdom...


[249] "Know that in every home where God is praised and prayed to, and His Kingdom proclaimed, that home is a garden of God and a paradise of His happiness."

('Abdu'l-Baha: Tablets of 'Abdu'l-Baha, Vol. I, p. 68)


832. Fireside in Home is Example of Individual Goal

"...It is now imperative for every Baha'i to set for himself individual teaching goals. The admonition of 'Abdu'l-Baha to lead at least one new soul to the Faith each year and the exhortation of Shoghi Effendi to hold a Baha'i fireside in one's home every Baha'i month are examples of individual goals. Many have capacities to do even more, but this alone will assure final and complete victory for the Plan."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the Baha'is of the World, November 16, 1969: Messages from The Universal House of Justice, 1968-1973, p. 35)


833. Must Aid New Believers to Become "True Baha'is"—Then Introduce Them to the Community

"...One of the best ways to teach is what the Americans call a 'fireside', in other words a little group of your friends in your own home, to whom you can introduce a few believers whom you feel would be congenial and help confirm them. When you have made them true Baha'is, then take them to the community and let them be accepted. In this way they are protected from tests until their faith is really strong."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, March 18, 1950)


834. The Holy Spirit Quickens Friends—Must Become Channels for Its Diffusion

"...The fireside method of teaching seems to produce the greatest results; when each one invites friends into their homes once in 19 days, and introduces them to the Faith. Close association and loving service affects the hearts; and when the heart is affected, then the spirit can enter. It is the Holy Spirit that quickens, and the Friends must become channels for its diffusion."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, January 27, 1957)



XXI. THE BAHA'I FUND



A. Contributions—Responsibility of Baha'is


[250] 835. To Give and to be Generous

"...To give and to be generous are attributes of Mine; well is it with him that adorneth himself with My virtues."

(Baha'u'llah: The Hidden Words, Persian No. 49)


836. God Does Not Ask from Any Soul Except According to His Ability

"...God does not ask from any soul except according to his ability. This contribution must come from all cities and villages from all the believers of God...


"...whosoever comes with one good act, God will give him tenfold. There is no doubt that the living Lord shall assist and confirm the generous soul."

('Abdu'l-Baha to the friends in the East and the West: Star of the West, Vol. VI, No. 17, p. 139)


837. Responsibility of Every Baha'i

"...Every Baha'i, no matter how poor, must realize what a grave responsibility he has to shoulder in this connection, and should have confidence that his spiritual progress as a believer in the World Order of Baha'u'llah will largely depend upon the measure in which he proves, in deeds, his readiness to support materially the Divine institutions of his Faith."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of India, July 17, 1937: Extracts from a compilation of the Guardian's letters on Baha'i Funds and Contributions published in Baha'i Funds: Contributions and Administration, Canada)


838. There Can Be No Limit to One's Contributions

"...There can be no limit to one's contributions to the national fund. The more one can give the better it is, specially when such offerings necessitate the sacrifice of other wants and desires on the part of the donor. The harder the sacrifice the more meritorious will it be, of course, in the sight of God. For after all it is not so much the quantity of one's offerings that matters, but rather the measure of deprivation that such offerings entail...."

(From a letter of the Guardian to an individual believer, December 31, 1935: Life-blood of the Cause, p. 10)


839. Service Every Believer Can Render

"...Contributing to the Fund is a service that every believer can render, be he poor or wealthy; for this is a spiritual responsibility in which the amount given is not important. It is the degree of the sacrifice of the giver, the love with which he makes his gift, and the unity of all the friends in this service which bring spiritual confirmations....


[251] "Much of the present rapid expansion of the Faith is taking place in areas of great poverty where the believers, however much they sacrifice, cannot produce sufficient funds to sustain the work. It is these very areas which are the most fruitful in teaching, and a sum of money spent here will produce ten times—even a hundred times—the results obtainable in other parts of the world. Yet in the past months the Universal House of Justice has had to refuse a number of appeals for assistance from such areas because there just was not enough money in the International Fund.


"It should therefore be the aim of every local and national community to become not only self-supporting, but to expend its funds with such wisdom and economy as to be able to contribute substantially to the Baha'i International Fund, thus enabling the House of Justice to aid the work in fruitful but impoverished areas, to assist new National Assemblies to start their work, to contribute to major international undertakings...."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to Baha'is of the East and West, December 18, 1963: Wellspring of Guidance, pp. 19-20)


840. Commerce, Agriculture and Industries Blessed Many Times

"In brief, O ye friends of God, rest assured that in place of this contribution, your commerce, your agriculture and industries shall be blessed many times...."

('Abdu'l-Baha to the friends in the East and the West: Star of the West, Vol. VI, No. 17, p. 139)


841. Believers Alone Have Bounty of Contributing

"The overwhelming majority of the Baha'is in the world are poor people, but it is to the believers, and to the believers alone, that Baha'u'llah has given the bounty of contributing the material things of this world for the progress of His Faith. It is not the amount of the contribution which is important, but the degree of self-sacrifice that it entails—for it is this that attracts the confirmations of God."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to all National Spiritual Assemblies receiving assistance from the Baha'i International Fund, April 13, 1975)


842. Should Not Incur Debts for Purpose of Contributing to Fund

"Even though Shoghi Effendi would urge every believer to sacrifice as much as possible for the sake of contributing towards the fund of the National Assembly, yet he would discourage the friends to incur debts for that purpose. We are asked to give what we have, not what we do not possess, especially if such an act causes suffering to others. In such matters we should use judgement and wisdom and take into our confidence other devoted Baha'is."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian, dated May 4, 1932, to an individual believer: Baha'i Funds: Contributions and Administration, Canada, p. 7)



B. Those Eligible to Contribute


843. Distinguishing Features of the Cause of God

"One of the distinguishing features of the Cause of God is its principle of non-acceptance of financial contributions for its own purposes from non-Baha'is: support of the Baha'i Fund is a bounty reserved by Baha'u'llah to His declared followers. This bounty imposes full responsibility for financial support of the Faith [252] on the believers alone, every one of whom is called upon to do his utmost to ensure that the constant and liberal outpouring of means is maintained and increased to meet the growing needs of the Cause. Many Baha'i communities are at present dependent on outside help, and for them the aim must be to become self-supporting, confident that the Generous Lord will, as their efforts increase, eventually enable them to offer for the progress of His Faith material wealth as well as their devotion, their energy and love."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the Baha'is of the World, Naw-Ruz 1974)


844. Giving to the Fund is a Spiritual Privilege

"Giving to the Fund, therefore, is a spiritual privilege, not open to those who have not accepted Baha'u'llah, of which no believer should deny himself. It is both a responsibility and a source of bounty. This is an aspect of the Cause which, we feel, is an essential part of the basic teaching and deepening of new believers. The importance of contributing resides in the degree of sacrifice of the giver, the spirit of devotion with which the contribution is made and the unity of the friends in this service; these attract the confirmations of God and enhance the dignity and self-respect of the individuals and the community."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to all National Spiritual Assemblies, August 7, 1985)


845. When a Soul Accepts Baha'u'llah He Becomes a Co-Worker in the Cause of God

"There is a profound aspect to the relationship between a believer and the Fund, which holds true irrespective of his or her economic condition. When a human soul accepts Baha'u'llah as the Manifestation of God for this age and enters into the divine Covenant, that soul should progressively bring his or her whole life into harmony with the divine purpose—he becomes a co-worker in the Cause of God and receives the bounty of being permitted to devote his material possessions, no matter how meagre, to the work of the Faith."

(Ibid.)


846. Those Who Openly Proclaim Recognition of Baha'u'llah Permitted to Contribute

"...Since only those who have openly proclaimed their recognition of Baha'u'llah are permitted to contribute financially to the establishment of His world order, it is apparent that more, much more, is required from the few now so privileged. Our responsibilities in this field are very great, commensurate indeed with the bounty of being the bearers of the Name of God in this Day."

(From the Message of the Universal House of Justice to the Baha'is of the World, Ridvan 1966)


847. They Must Create a Sense of Belonging

"As it has already been pointed out, in various communications to you, it is important for the National Spiritual Assemblies to work out ways and means of creating a sense of belonging in the hearts of the believers. One of the ways this can be done is to bring to their attention the needs of the Fund."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to various National Spiritual Assemblies, February 9, 1967)


[253] 848. Contributions from Children of Non-Baha'is or in Case One Parent is Baha'i

"The Universal House of Justice has received your letter asking whether children of non-Baha'is or children one of whose parents is a Baha'i are allowed to contribute to Baha'i funds, and we have been asked to say that in both cases, if the child wishes to be a Baha'i and his parents do not object, he may be treated as any other Baha'i child. However, if the parents object to their child's being a Baha'i, his contribution may be accepted for charitable purposes, including use for Baha'i schools where both Baha'is and non-Baha'is are accepted as pupils."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of India, August 31, 1975)


849. Selling Items for the Benefit of the Baha'i Fund

"As to the sale of personal items for the benefit of Baha'i funds, we begin with the principle that any believer may sell personal services or goods to anyone and do with the proceeds as he wishes, including giving any or all of them to Baha'i purposes. In doing so, however, he should not represent to non-Baha'is that such a sale is for the benefit of a Baha'i fund as it is also a principle that it is improper to solicit funds from non-Baha'is in the name of the Faith for any purpose. This includes the sale of food and admission to entertainment."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Panama, April 1, 1968)


850. It is Not Proper for a Baha'i Institution to Sponsor a Fund-Raising Sale Open to Public

"...Neither do we think it is proper for a Baha'i institution to sponsor a 'garage sale' of personal items contributed by believers for the benefit of a Baha'i fund. This is not to say that an Assembly may not sell items of property to non-Baha'is for fair market value, but rather that non-Baha'is should not be led to purchase items at a fund-raising sale on the representation that the proceeds are to be used for Baha'i purposes."

(Ibid.)


851. Auctions Among Baha'is—Contributing to the Fund is a Spiritual Responsibility

"There is no objection to the friends' holding an auction among Baha'is for the purpose of contributing the proceeds to the fund, nor is there any objection to Baha'is selling their own property to non-Baha'is for its fair market value and later contributing the proceeds to the fund, although no representation should be made at the sale about the proceeds going to the Baha'i fund. The House of Justice feels, however, that it is important for the friends never to lose sight of the fact that contributing to the funds of the Faith is a spiritual responsibility and privilege of profound significance in the spiritual life of the individual believer, and care must be taken not to trivialize this aspect of Baha'i life or to treat it with a lack of dignity. At the same time, the Assemblies should not dampen the enthusiasm of those friends who, having only slender financial resources, devise imaginative ways of earning money for the work of the Faith.


"As your Assembly is considering sponsoring an auction under its direct auspices, the House of Justice suggests that you should ascertain whether the [254] holding of auctions is legally permissible, since we are informed that in some countries it is legal only if conducted by a licensed auctioneer."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Chile, July 8, 1984)


852. Holding of Raffles

"The holding of raffles has not been specifically mentioned in the Kitab-i-Aqdas, and the Universal House of Justice has not legislated on the matter. However, the House of Justice does not at present consider it desirable for Baha'i institutions to raise funds by this method."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Panama, January 15, 1984)


853. Guidelines Towards Establishing a Business Venture Owned by Baha'is

"The Universal House of Justice has received your letter of 15 February concerning the proposal by a number of Baha'is to establish a private company whose shares would be owned by Baha'is and which would be managed for the financial profit of the friends and of the Faith. We are instructed to transmit its advice.


"Your objective to generate funds for the Faith is, of course, praiseworthy. In the past, as you may assume, similar proposals have been made to the House of Justice, and the following guidelines may be helpful from a letter to an individual:


'Concerning the formation of a company which you and other friends have suggested, the Universal House of Justice ... has decided that the time has not yet come to have the Baha'i institutions involved in a business transaction in the way which was suggested.


'If the friends, however, are willing, spontaneously, to establish a profitable business in order to benefit themselves as well as the other friends it is meritorious and there is no objection.'


"Should such a business venture as you propose be undertaken—and there is nothing wrong with it in principle—it would be well to advise the Baha'is who participate to approach it on the basis of its viability as a business project and they should not underestimate the possibilities of financial loss.


"The House of Justice feels that the institutions of the Faith should neither themselves become involved in nor promote such a private business. The use of national endowments as collateral for such a business is not permissible."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Jamaica, April 5, 1982)


854. Reasons for Not Accepting Donations from Non-Baha'is for Administration of the Faith

"...He wishes me to stress again that under no circumstances the believers should accept any financial help from non-Baha'is for use in connection with specific administrative activities of the Faith such as the Temple construction fund, and other local or national Baha'i administrative funds. The reason for this is twofold: First because the institutions which the Baha'is are gradually building are in the nature of gifts from Baha'u'llah to the world; and secondly the acceptance of funds from non-believers for specific Baha'i use would, sooner [255] or later, involve the Baha'is into unforeseen complications and difficulties with others, and thus cause incalculable harm to the body of the Cause."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, July 12, 1938)


855. Guidelines for Accepting Funds from Governmental and Other Non-Baha'i Sources

"The crucial point in deciding whether or not funds may be accepted from non-Baha'i sources is the purpose for which the funds are to be used. As you know, it is absolutely forbidden in the Faith to accept from non-Baha'is contributions towards the work of the Cause itself. However, in addition to the work of spreading the Faith and establishing its institutions, Spiritual Assemblies also engage in humanitarian activities, and contributions from non-Baha'i sources may be accepted towards such activities. Indeed, although we never ask individual non-Baha'is for funds, it sometimes happens that a person who has a great admiration for the Faith insists on contributing. In such a case the contribution may be accepted, with the express provision that it will be used only for charitable and humanitarian purposes.


"Governments and their agencies occupy a special position because, of course, they are often very willing to assist those who are engaged in humanitarian service. Thus, where a Spiritual Assembly is undertaking a specifically humanitarian activity for which the government normally would supply financial assistance, the Assembly may accept such assistance. The activity that you instance, a meeting being held on behalf of Human Rights Day to advance one of the aims of the United Nations, is a case in point; there would be no objection to your accepting from 'INAC' its offer to pay for the invitation cards on that occasion.


"In relation to schools and other institutions of community service, government assistance is also acceptable, but here the Assembly needs to be aware that the acceptance of government funding often brings with it an obligation to accept a degree of governmental control, and these points must be carefully considered."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Panama, March 6, 1983)


856. Should Recipient of Public Charity Contribute to the Baha'i Fund?

"Concerning your question whether a person is to contribute to the Baha'i Fund when he obtains his means of livelihood through public charity. Practically this is impossible, for a person who is so dependent upon the community cannot be of much help to others. Generally he does not have sufficient even for himself alone. In principle however, this is a secondary issue. Donations to the Cause are free. It is for every person to judge for himself whether he is in a position to contribute and whether he desires to do it; how he has obtained that sum is immaterial. A poor person may be readier than a rich man in sharing with others, and if he does, his sacrifice would be greater. A rich man's gift may not be a sacrifice, but a poor man's is sure to be."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, March 9, 1932)



C. The Treasurer and the Spiritual Assembly


[256] 857. Trustworthiness—A Prime Requisite for Those Responsible for the Funds

"A primary requisite for all who have responsibility for the care of the funds of the Faith is trustworthiness. This, as Baha'u'llah has stressed, is one of the most basic and vital of all human virtues, and its exercise has a direct and profound influence on the willingness of the believers to contribute to the Fund."

(From a Memorandum of Comments and Suggestions attached to a letter from the Universal House of Justice to all National Spiritual Assemblies, August 7, 1985)


858. Great Responsibility of Members of the National Spiritual Assembly—Should Require Two Signatures for Withdrawal of Funds

"In view of the great responsibility placed upon the shoulders of the members of National Assemblies by those who elect them, we have urged National Assemblies to exercise the greatest care in the handling of their National Funds particularly as these funds represent in great part acts of sacrifice on the part of the friends. It is, of course, within your discretion how you delegate the manifold tasks involved in the day-to-day operation of your National Assembly but we earnestly urge you to reconsider the resolutions to which we referred and provide that two signatures be required for the withdrawal of funds, one of which would be that of an office-holder who is a member of your National Assembly."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly, August 26, 1973: The Need for Care in Handling Baha'i Funds, A Compilation of extracts published in Baha'i Funds: Contributions and Administration, Canada)


859. The Treasurer of an Assembly Should Never Commingle His Own Funds and Those of the Faith

"...The Treasurer of a Baha'i Spiritual Assembly, even if momentarily holding Baha'i funds in his own name, must take the greatest care never to commingle his own funds with those of the Faith or to leave the funds of the Faith subject to the vagaries of fortune which can afflict any one of us."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, June 8, 1971: Ibid.)


860. Local Assembly of a Large Community Might Appoint a Committee to Assist Treasurer

"Regarding the local funds, it is suggested that until such time as the friends have developed the habit of contributing regularly and freely, any Local Spiritual Assembly which has a large community might appoint a small committee to assist the local Treasurer in the discharge of his responsibilities. Such committees could be appointed after consultation with the Auxiliary Board member or assistant for the area. Great care must be taken in the appointment of the members of the committees; they must be both trustworthy and conscientious and must be imbued with awareness of the importance of maintaining the confidentiality of contributions to the funds."

(The Universal House of Justice: Development of the Local and National Funds of the Faith: Some Comments and Observations, published in Baha'i Funds: Contributions and Administration, p. 31, Canada)


861. Treasury Committees, Functions of

"...It is envisaged that these Treasury Committees would serve a number of functions:


—[257] To render general assistance to the Treasurer, as needed; for example members of the committee could assist with issuing receipts or keeping accounts.


—To arrange for inspirational talks and discussions at Nineteen Day Feasts or at specially called meetings for the education of the friends in the spiritual and practical importance of contributing to the funds.


—To receive donations of money on behalf of the local Treasurer and transmit these to him.


—To receive gifts of produce and handicrafts. The committee would be responsible for arranging for their sale and for handing over the proceeds to the local Treasurer.


—To receive from the friends written pledges of their hope or intention of making a contribution to the local or national funds, whether in cash or in kind, and to assist in collecting them."

(Ibid.)


862. National Treasury Committee

"As to the national fund, in those areas where there are problems as a result of lack of banking facilities, unreliable mail systems and general difficulties of communication, it would be desirable for the National Spiritual Assembly to appoint a national committee to assist the national Treasurer in a manner similar to that outlined above for Local Spiritual Assemblies. Further, it may even be necessary to subsidize, from the national fund, one or more trusted individuals, depending on the size of the national community, who would travel to rural areas to meet with local Treasury Committees, assist them in the execution of their functions, explain the needs of the national fund, collect the donations to the national fund from the local areas and transmit them to the national Treasurer."

(Ibid.)


863. The Treasurer is Officer in Charge, but All National Spiritual Assembly Members Are Responsible

"The National Spiritual Assembly has the responsibility to ensure that contributions received are properly receipted, and satisfactory accounts kept of all receipts and disbursements. While the Treasurer normally is the officer in charge of such a sacred obligation, this does not mean that other members are thereby relieved of all responsibility, or are deprived of their right of access to details related to the current operation of the Assembly, in all its aspects.


"Such right and responsibility vested in the individual members of the Assembly do not vitiate the confidentiality of Baha'i contributions, since the information made available to the Treasurer or other members of the Assembly is to be treated in strict confidence."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly, January 11, 1977: Compilation of Extracts..., op. cit. No. 858)


864. Teach Trustworthiness Through Writings—Explain to Individuals that They Will Be Held Responsible for Money They Handle

"The distressing problems of the misuse of funds described in your letter can be resolved in the long run only through a process of loving education of the friends. It is through the dissemination among the believers of appropriate texts from the Writings of the Faith, through carefully prepared articles on this subject based on [258] the Holy Texts and published in your newsletter, and through talks at conferences, summer schools and other Baha'i gatherings, as well as discussion of these fundamental issues with the friends at such meetings, that you will be able to gradually attain your objective.


"It is important for your Assembly, in future, to explain to persons who are entrusted with the money of the Faith that in view of the National Assembly's obligation to protect Baha'i funds, the Assembly will hold them responsible for all monies they receive, and they should therefore render proper accounts to the National Spiritual Assembly, be faithful custodians of God's trust, and be assured that such honesty and faithfulness will be richly rewarded from on high."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly, May 18, 1980: Ibid.)


865. The National Spiritual Assembly Should Require Annual Audit of Treasuer's Accounts

"The House of Justice has not established any uniform procedure for Baha'i treasurers, since methods of accounting and the laws governing such matters vary considerably from country to country and from one situation to another. It advises that on such technical questions the National Assembly's Treasurer can seek the advice of a professional accountant. The National Spiritual Assembly should, of course, ensure that its books of account are audited annually and for this there is no objection to utilizing the services of a non-Baha'i firm."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly, July 13, 1981: Ibid.)


866. Some Guidelines for Treasurers

"In general terms, however, the House of Justice feels that there are certain matters to which National Treasurers should give particular attention.


1. There is the relationship between the National Assembly and the individual believers and local communities. Through whatever correspondence he conducts with contributors to the National Fund and with committees which are drawing on the Fund for their work, the National Treasurer can be a powerful influence in establishing


2. The Treasurer must be sure to render regular and accurate financial statements to the National Spiritual Assembly so that it can properly plan its work within the means available to it.


3. It is the Treasurer's responsibility to prepare the annual financial report in time for the National Spiritual Assembly to consider it before presenting it at Convention. He also has to prepare the annual budget for the consideration and approval of the National Assembly.


4. The Treasurer should carefully monitor the use of the Fund so that he can warn the Assembly in good time if there is danger of over-spending.


5. In book-keeping, a system must be adopted to ensure that earmarked funds are kept absolutely distinct from those that are at the free disposition of the Assembly, and there should be safeguards to prevent the inadvertent spending of earmarked funds on matters other than those for which they are intended.


6. In addition to keeping accurate records of income and expenditure, the Treasurer should see that the assets of the Assembly are protected and that both assets and liabilities are carefully recorded.


7. [259] The Treasurer should advise the Assembly to set aside sufficient sums on a regular basis to provide for the repair and maintenance of properties owned by the Faith, so that these can be kept in good condition and so that the normal work of the Cause is not interrupted by sudden requirements of large sums for repairs. Usually the task of maintaining the properties is assigned to a special committee or committees, which should be consulted by the Assembly and can suggest a suitable amount to be set aside annually.


8. While it is within the discretion of a National Spiritual Assembly to require only one signature on cheques drawn on the National Fund, experience has shown that it is better practice to require at least two signatures. This is a protection not only to the Fund itself but also to the Treasurer. The funds of the Faith are a sacred trust, and Assemblies should be meticulous in handling and accounting for them."

(Ibid.)


867. Desirable for Assembly to Maintain Financial Reserve

"Since, in the nature of things, the levels of contributions and expenditures fluctuate, it is most desirable for an Assembly to hold a reserve adequate to bridge periods of relatively high expenditure and low income. This will help it to avoid making too frequent appeals for the friends to meet financial emergencies. Frequently issued appeals—as distinct from the regular giving of information—may tend to lose their effect. At a time of emergency, the Assembly may have to dip deeply into its reserves—an action that your Assembly has just taken—but they will need to be built up again in due course."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of France, February 12, 1987)


868. Duty of the National Assembly Not to Allow National Interests to be Jeopardized by Individual Considerations

"...it should be emphasized and clearly understood by the friends that the national interests and requirements of the Cause take absolute precedence over individual and private needs. It is the duty of the National Spiritual Assembly to so dispose of the national fund as not to allow the national interests of the Faith to be jeopardized by individual considerations that are obviously transient when compared to the lasting interests of the Cause of God. In rare and exceptional cases, when a believer has absolutely no other means of material sustenance, the National Spiritual Assembly may either contribute towards his expenses from the national fund, or make a special appeal to the body of the believers to that effect. It is for the family, the civil community and the Local Assembly to administer to such local and private needs of the individual. But in case none of these sources has the means to do so, the National Spiritual Assembly may, if it is convinced of the gravity, urgency and justice of the case, appropriate a part of its fund for that purpose."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, July 17, 1937)


869. Assembly Should Neither Feel Embarrassed nor Ashamed in Turning to the Friends

"The National Assembly should neither feel embarrassed nor ashamed in turning to the friends, continuously appealing to them to exemplify their faith and devotion to the Cause by sacrificing for it, and pointing out to them that they will grow [260] spiritually through their acts of self-abnegation, that the fear of poverty should not deter them from sacrificing for the Fund, and that the assistance and bounty of the Source of all good and of all wealth are unfailing and assured...."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to selected National Spiritual Assemblies, February 9, 1967)


"A corollary to the sacred obligation of the friends to contribute to the Funds of the Faith, is the direct and unavoidable responsibility of each Local and National Assembly to educate them in the spiritual principles related to Baha'i contributions. Failure to educate the friends in this aspect of the Faith is tantamount to consciously depriving them of the spiritual benefits accruing from giving in the path of God."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to all National Spiritual Assemblies receiving assistance from the Baha'i International Fund, April 13, 1975)


870. The General and National Interests of the Cause Take Precedence Over the Local Ones—But It May Be Expedient to Develop Local Fund First

"The beloved Guardian has explained that the general and national interests of the Cause take precedence over local ones; thus contributions to local funds are secondary to those to national funds. However, the stability of the National Assembly rests on the firmness of the Local Spiritual Assemblies, and in the matter of educating the friends in the importance of the fund, it is often most practical and efficacious to concentrate at first on the development of the local funds and the efficient operation of the Local Spiritual Assemblies. Then, once the friends understand the principle, and learn from experience at a local level, they will then more easily understand the importance of the national fund and the work of the National Spiritual Assembly."

(From the memorandum of comments and suggestions of the Universal House of Justice, op. cit., No. 858, p. 30)


871. Assembly Obligated to Advise Believers of All Funds*—International, Continental, National and Local

"In educating the friends to be conscious of contributing to the fund as a fundamental element of Baha'i life, the Assembly should make them aware of the individual believer's prerogative of contributing directly to all the funds of the Faith: international, continental and national as well as local."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly, February 12, 1987)

___________________

*(See also XXVI. The Institution of the Huququ'llah, Nos. 1031-1044)


872. Contributions Can Be Sent Direct to Haifa

"Would you please remind the believers in your respective communities that in addition to contributing to the International Fund by means of earmarked donations to the National Fund, they can send contributions direct to Haifa. Cheques should be made payable to BAHA'I INTERNATIONAL FUND.


"This continues the policy established by the beloved Guardian who wrote that participation of individuals through 'contributions directly transmitted to the Holy [261] Land' was 'imperative and beyond the scope of the jurisdiction of National and Local Assemblies.'"

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to all National Spiritual Assemblies, December 18, 1963)


873. Continental Fund

"Nor should the believers, individually or in their Assemblies, forget the vitally important Continental Funds which provide for the work of the Hands of the Cause of God and their Auxiliary Boards. This divine institution, so assiduously fostered by the Guardian, and which has already played a unique role in the history of the Faith, is destined to render increasingly important services in the years to come."

(From a message of the Universal House of Justice to the Baha'is of East and West, December 18, 1963)


874. Pledges Can Be a Useful Means of Encouraging Contributions

"Pledges can be useful as a means of encouraging contributions and of bringing the financial needs of the Cause to the attention of the friends. This method can be particularly helpful in a situation where a Spiritual Assembly has a major task to perform, such as the building of a Haziratu'l-Quds or the establishment of a tutorial school, and needs to have some idea in advance of whether the funds for the project will be available. However, it would be entirely contrary to Baha'i principles to bring any pressure to bear when calling for pledges or when endeavouring to collect them. Once a pledge has been given it is permissible to remind the donor, privately, of his expressed intention to contribute and to enquire courteously if it would be possible for him to honour his pledge, but Assemblies must be aware that such pledges are not an obligation in any legal sense; their redemption is entirely a matter of conscience. Lists of those making pledges must not be publicized."

(From the memorandum of comments and suggestions of the Universal House of Justice, op. cit., No. 858, p. 30)


875. Friends in Mass Teaching Areas Should Know Their Blessings and Responsibilities

"...The Assemblies should not hesitate, nor be diffident, in speaking of the Fund to the believers. The friends in the mass teaching areas, however poor or illiterate they may be, are full and equal members of the Baha'i community; they should know their blessings and responsibilities. The mighty ones of this world rejected the call of Baha'u'llah, and it is now upon us ordinary men and women that He has conferred the inestimable bounty of raising up the Kingdom of God on earth. Service to God and His Cause is the heart of the life of every true believer and contributing to the Fund is a vital aspect of such service."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to all National Spiritual Assemblies, December 29, 1970)


876. "Bring and Buy" Meetings

"...In parts of Africa where the poverty of the friends may be similar to the conditions existing in some parts of your country, the Assemblies organized [262] 'Bring and Buy' meetings to which the friends may bring any material gift, such as eggs, fruit, vegetables, other foodstuffs, or local handicraft. These are placed before the friends, who may buy them at very reasonable prices for the benefit of the Funds. The friends must understand that whilst no Assembly or individual may force the friends to give to the Faith, such giving has been considered in our Teachings as a spiritual obligation and an act of sacrifice, which is closely related to the spiritual development of the individual believer."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Ecuador, November 27, 1966)


877. Assembly May Sell Contributions in Kind Through a Professional Auctioneer

"There is clearly no objection to an Assembly's giving contributions in kind to a professional auctioneer to sell and then to use the proceeds for the fund. Whether it would be proper to hold such an 'ordinary auction' among Baha'is would depend upon the Assembly's judgement as to whether a properly dignified atmosphere could be observed and also whether it could be construed as bringing pressure to bear upon the friends to contribute which would, of course, be undesirable. In general the House of Justice prefers not to encourage such auctions for the fund."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly cited in a letter to the National Spiritual Assembly of Malaysia, May 26, 1982)


878. It is Not Permissible to Impose a Tax or an Assessment on Local Spiritual Assemblies

"As to contributions to the National Fund, it is not permissible to impose a tax or an assessment on Local Assemblies, but you may certainly inform Local Assemblies of the needs of the National Fund and may suggest a certain percentage as a guide to them in making contributions. In doing this you may point out that support of the National Fund is an obligation not only of the believers, but of all Local Assemblies as well. It is permissible, however, for a Local Assembly to fix a percentage of its receipts as an amount to be contributed to the National Fund.


"The House of Justice appreciates the difficult task of educating the Local Assemblies and the believers in the importance of contributing regularly and sacrificially to the Fund and it feels sure that you frequently remind them of the principles of universal participation in this, as well as all other aspects of the Faith, possibly drawing on information contained in your file of circular letters sent from time to time by the House of Justice to all National Spiritual Assemblies on the subject of the Fund."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly, November 30, 1977)


879. Local Spiritual Assembly Decides for Itself How to Use Funds—National Spiritual Assembly Can Only Make a Suggestion

"When a donation is given to a Local Assembly, the Assembly itself should decide how the funds are to be used. The National Assembly may wish to suggest to the Local Spiritual Assembly ways in which the money could be more practically spent, but the final decision regarding the use of such funds rests with the local body.


[263] "National Assemblies should avoid instructing their Local Spiritual Assemblies to allocate a certain percentage or portion of their local funds towards specific purposes. They may, however, suggest that the Local Assemblies contribute funds for priority projects at the national level and may also call to their attention national budget and suggest that the communities try to underwrite a part of the national budget. Any National Assembly is, of course, empowered to prevent an institution under its jurisdiction from taking any action regarding the use of funds which would not be to the best interests of the Cause. Such cases, however, are rare...."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, October 17, 1985)


880. Soliciting Funds from Other Countries

"We are asked to tell you that the present policy of the House of Justice discourages National Assemblies from appealing to one another for financial assistance unless such assistance is related to a project which has been defined as a goal of collaboration between the specific Assemblies concerned. If a National Assembly has adopted plans for specific teaching projects and is in genuine need of financial support from an outside source, instead of appealing to other National Assemblies it is encouraged to turn to the Continental Board of Counsellors who will consider the plans and request, and provide assistance to the extent feasible from funds made available to them from the World Centre."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly, September 5, 1982)


881. Individual Baha'is Free to Contribute to Projects in Any Country They Wish

"As regards collection of funds in other countries, the House of Justice does not wish Baha'i institutions of any country to appeal for funds to the Baha'is of another country, unless the National Spiritual Assembly of that country permits it. This does not mean that individuals are not free to contribute to a Baha'i project in any country that they wish. For example, if a Baha'i from another country comes to a conference in ... and he wishes to contribute to your school, there would be no objection. However, an organized and indiscriminate appeal for funds to individuals in other countries should not be made without the consent of the National Assembly of that country."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, June 6, 1985)



D. Earmarked Funds


882. Purpose of Earmarking Funds Should Not Be Defeated

"Care must be taken that the purpose of earmarking is not defeated. Thus the use of earmarked funds to defray the expense of particular items in your budget has the effect of reducing, pro tanto, the amount of general contributions needed to be applied to the budget. In effect, this practice may result in there being no difference between an earmarked contribution and one not earmarked. For example: A friend may earmark a contribution for the Baha'i International Fund. To apply this to the contributions to the Baha'i International funds from your National [264] Fund would be wrong unless the earmarking so specifies. Funds earmarked merely to the Baha'i International Fund should be sent to the World Centre in addition to whatever contribution is made from the National Fund."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly, January 29, 1971: Ibid.)


883. Earmarked Funds for Specific Purchases or Projects

"We have been asked to call your attention to the principle that earmarked funds such as those for the purchase or maintenance of properties, for special teaching projects, etc. should not be used for other purposes, but should be held in a special account until expended for the purpose for which they were given. This is true whether the funds are from the World Centre, from individuals or from other sources. If the project for which the funds have been given is abandoned, the contribution should be returned to the donor unless he agrees that it may be used for other purposes. Strict adherence to the principles regarding the earmarking of funds is extremely important for many reasons, including the maintaining of the confidence of the friends in matters pertaining to the Fund."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly, June 21, 1979)


884. When Earmarked Contribution is Impractical or Unwise...

"1. Although any donor, Assembly or individual, has the right to specify the purpose intended for any contribution of funds or property, if, in the judgement of your National Assembly, such contribution would be impractical or unwise for you to accept, you would be under no obligation to do so.


"2. If after consultation with the donor an agreement is not reached that you deem necessary, or you are unable to have the specified donation assigned to a more practicable purpose, the contribution should be returned to the donor."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly, June 22, 1980: Ibid.)


885. Proceeds from Sale of Property Purchased with Earmarked Funds Retain Same Earmarking

"As to the proceeds from the sale of Baha'i property, if it was acquired by the use of the general funds of the Faith and no earmarking of contributions is involved, the only principle to be applied is that first stated above, namely, that the national community should not be without a Haziratu'l-Quds, endowment or Temple site, as the case may be. If the property was donated or purchased with funds earmarked for that specific purpose, the proceeds of the sale of the property retain the earmarking unless the donor has specifically provided otherwise. If the donor or donors are living, they may, of course, release the earmarking. If the donor or donors are not living, or refuse to release the earmarking, the proceeds should be used for the same purpose. If that purpose has already been fulfilled (i.e., an alternate property has already been acquired), the surplus should be used to the extent possible in a manner having regard for the original intention of the donor or donors, e.g., to maintain or improve the property. In case of doubt, the matter should be referred to the Universal House of Justice."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly, August 21, 1980: Ibid.)


[265] 886. The Proper Accounting for Earmarked Funds is Very Important

"This question of the proper accounting for earmarked funds is very important. The account books of any Assembly should be designed in a way that will always clearly distinguish between earmarked funds and funds freely at the disposition of the Assembly, so that there will be no danger of the Assembly's inadvertently commingling them and spending earmarked funds for the wrong purpose."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly, August 6, 1984: Ibid.)


887. Donor Has No Right to Change Earmarked Purpose Unless the Assembly Accepts the Request to Do So

"The beloved Guardian was very emphatic that contributions to Baha'i funds, given for specified purposes, may be used only for those purposes, unless the donor consents to a change. If the Assembly cannot use the contribution for the purpose specified, it may refuse to accept it. Alternatively it could consult the donor and suggest that he release the contribution for general purposes or transfer it to another specified one, but no pressure should be exerted to force his acquiescence. On the other hand, once money has been contributed to an Assembly, it is the property of that Assembly, even though earmarked for a specific purpose, and the donor has no right to change its purpose unilaterally. The Assembly, however, may, at its own discretion, accept his request to do so."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly, December 30, 1984: Ibid.)


888. The Assembly Should Try to Preserve Real Value of Funds in Its Care—Especially True of Earmarked Funds

"The Assembly is the trustee of the funds in its care, and its primary concern in investing such funds should be to try to preserve their real value. Obtaining a good income from such investments is also desirable, but is a secondary consideration and should not be sought if this would endanger the value of the principal. This is especially true in the case of earmarked funds, where the Assembly has a duty to the donor or donors to preserve the value of the fund until such time as it can be used for the designated purpose. In such a case, when the value of the currency is itself depreciating, one method of upholding the real value of the earmarked fund is to add back to the principal all income earned on it, even if the donor has not specifically earmarked the income to be earned on his contribution."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly, March 19, 1985: Ibid.)


889. Often It is Better that the Friends Do Not Restrict Funds

"In general, although it is permitted for the friends to earmark contributions, it is apparent that it is often better that the friends allow the Assembly to use their contributions without restricting them. Furthermore, an Assembly is by no means obligated to accept an earmarked contribution; if it does, however, it is bound to respect the earmarking."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly, August 21, 1980: Ibid.)


[266] 890. Care to be Taken Not to Violate Right of Earmarking—Earmarked Contribution Should Be Over and Above Assembly's Allocation to a Fund

"...care must be taken not to violate for any reason the right of the individual to earmark his contribution.


"The need, therefore, is to make clear to individual believers and Local Spiritual Assemblies how they should express their earmarkings so that the National Assembly can know whether a contribution is intended to be towards any particular segment of the national budget or to be a separate contribution merely passed through the National Assembly. In view of the Guardian's statement one should assume that, unless there is an indication to the contrary, an earmarked contribution is intended to be over and above the allocation made out of the National Fund."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, January 18, 1968)


891. Confidentiality of Believers' Contributions, Earmarked or Otherwise, Must Be Respected

"As a general rule the friends should realize that it is more consistent with the exalted standards expounded in our teachings for them at all times to offer their contributions freely, nobly and generously with the high sense of furthering the Cause of God in whatever form this may be achieved. However, if for some reason they wish to restrict the use of their contributions, or even make such donations known to others, they should not be prevented from carrying out their wish.


"In the light of the above, it would be useful to explain these guidelines to Mr. ... and if he confirms his wish, there is no objection to your placing a plaque in the name of the ... family in the Baha'i Information Centre building in ... which he has donated to you.


"The guidance given in the second paragraph should be conveyed to the Local Spiritual Assembly of ... and they should be told that if they still wish to announce the contribution for their Haziratu'l-Quds at the Nineteen Day Feast they should know that they are not permitted to do so without the permission of the donor, as he is entitled to the confidentiality of his contributions."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly, December 30, 1979)



XXII. THE GREATEST NAME OF GOD



A. The Greatest Name


[267] 892. The Greatest Name is the Name of Comfort, Protection, etc.

"The Greatest Name should be found upon the lips in the first awakening moment of early dawn. It should be fed upon by constant use in daily invocation, in trouble, under opposition, and should be the last word breathed when the head rests upon the pillow at night. It is the name of comfort, protection, happiness, illumination, love and unity.


"I hope that thou mayest become informed of the concealed mystery and recondite symbol of the stone of the Most Great Name... The use of the Greatest Name and dependence upon it, cause the soul to strip itself of the husks of mortality and to step forth freed, reborn, a new creature...."

('Abdu'l-Baha: United States Supplement to Baha'i News, No. 80, p. 2, October 1964)


893. Baha'is May Greet Each Other with "Allah-u-Abha"

"The Baha'is are free to greet each other with Allah-u-Abha when they meet, if they want to, but they should avoid anything which to outsiders, in a western country, might seem like some strange oriental password. We must be very firm on principles and laws, but very normal and natural in our ways, so as to attract strangers!"

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, July 17, 1951)


894. The Greatest Name is the Name of Baha'u'llah

"The Greatest Name is the Name of Baha'u'llah. 'Ya Baha'u'l-Abha' is an invocation meaning: 'O Thou Glory of Glories!' 'Allah-u-Abha' is a greeting which means: 'God the All-Glorious'. Both refer to Baha'u'llah. By 'Greatest Name' is meant that Baha'u'llah has appeared in God's Greatest Name, in other words, that He is the supreme Manifestation of God."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of Australia and New Zealand, December 26, 1941)


895. The Greatest Name is an Invocation and a Symbol of Our Faith

"Concerning your question regarding the 'Greatest Name': The Greatest Name is an invocation which means 'O Thou Glory of Glories!' The word 'Baha', or 'Glory', is a reference to Baha'u'llah. The Greatest Name is a distinctive mark of the Cause and a symbol of our Faith. The term of 'Allah-u-Abha,' on the other hand, is a form of Baha'i greeting, and means 'God the All-Glorious.'"

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, December 8, 1941)


896. Use of Greatest Name Symbol—Not Appropriate on Articles Put to Common Use

"The overriding consideration must always be the proper dignity with which the [268] Greatest Name should be used. Thus it would not be befitting to use it on drinking vessels or ash trays, plates for eating, and the like. There would, however, be no objection to its use on plaques or ornaments, jewellery or similar items which are not normally put to common use. The House of Justice instructs us to say that great care should be given to the accurate representation of the Persian calligraphy, since any deviation from an accepted representation can be distressing to Iranian believers."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Belgium, March 12, 1980)


897. Guidelines on the Use of the Symbols of the Greatest Name on Stationery and in Paintings

"...We are requested by the Universal House of Justice to share with you the following guidelines on the use of the symbols of the Greatest Name.


"The Guardian, in a letter written on his behalf to an individual on 5 August 1949, stated:


'It is better not to encourage the use of this symbol on stationery and in paintings.'


"Likewise, the Universal House of Justice, in its letter to a National Assembly stated:


'We wish to call to your attention the impressions of the Greatest Name on the back of the envelope in which your letter was enclosed. The use of the Greatest Name is not befitting and we ask you to discontinue it.' (16 May 1971)


"In another communication regarding this subject, the following was written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to a National Assembly:


'...we are instructed to say that it would not be appropriate to use the symbol of the Greatest Name on the official stationery of a Local Spiritual Assembly.' (6 November 1984)


"While the House of Justice is reluctant to issue a list of the specific uses of the Greatest Name which should be avoided, the principal thing is for the friends to realize the great sacredness of this symbol, and to use it in ways which are dignified and appropriate...."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Hawaiian Islands, June 3, 1987)


898. Stickers, Use of Not Encouraged

"Regarding the sticker with 'World Fellowship' and the ring-stone symbol on it: He does not encourage the use of this type of thing."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, March 12, 1946: From a compilation of Extracts Concerning Guidance on the Use of the Greatest Name, attached to the above letter to the National Assembly of Hawaiian Islands)


899. Tombstones 

Please Refer to No. 672.


900. Emblems

"We have your letter of June 22, 1967 enclosing sketches of emblems which are intended to be used by Baha'is who wish to place them inside their automobiles.


"The use of such emblems is entirely within the discretion of your National [269] Assembly, but you should not use the Greatest Name on the emblem."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly, August 16, 1967: Ibid.)


901. Believer Can Manufacture and Sell Items Using the Greatest Name

"Although there exists an instruction that the symbol of the Greatest Name should not be used on gravestones, no instruction has been found prohibiting the use of the symbol of the Greatest Name on any other particular item, such as jewellery, books or pamphlets. However, the Greatest Name should not be used in an undignified manner.


"Nothing has been found which would prohibit a believer from manufacturing and selling items using the Greatest Name provided that the manner in which the Greatest Name is used is dignified."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly, March 25, 1975: Ibid.)


902. No Prohibition Against Use of Greatest Name, Names of the Manifestations or Names of Central Figures in Songs

"We have found nothing in the texts forbidding the use of the Greatest Name, the Names of the Manifestations of God or the names of the Central Figures of our Faith in the lyrics of music. However, we feel that when they are used they should be used with reverence and respect, both in the manner in which they are incorporated in the lyrics and in the manner of presentation."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, March 14, 1968)


903. Reproducing Greatest Names on Jewellery Commercially

"When individual Baha'is reproduce on a limited scale the Greatest Name on items such as jewellery, and find ways of selling these items to others, they should normally be left free to engage in such an activity, without interference from Baha'i institutions, except in cases when in the opinion of these institutions the interests of the Faith are being adversely affected.


"However, when the friends intend to produce and sell such items on a large scale they should first seek the permission of the National Assembly, which should generally be well disposed to permit the production and sale of these objects if in their judgement the interests of the Faith are not being prejudiced and the necessary standards of dignity and propriety are being upheld.


"In all cases where the friends wish to use the venue of a Baha'i function or event, conducted under the auspices of a Baha'i institution, in order to display and sell their products, they may engage in this activity only if the institution concerned gives them the permission to do so."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, October 15, 1978)


904. Picture of the Greatest Name May Be Destroyed, if Necessary

"If it becomes necessary to destroy a picture of the Greatest Name, there is no objection to whatever method is used. It is quite proper to wear the ring stone as a pin."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, January 5, 1957)


[270] 905. Reciting the Greatest Name 95 Times Daily*

"The use of the Greatest Name 95 times a day is not absolutely binding. This and other similar matters will be clearly and fully explained when the 'Aqdas' is published. At present, however, the friends should be careful not to lay an undue emphasis upon them.


"When using the Greatest Name the words 'Allah-u-Abha' should be used and not 'Ya Baha'u'l-Abha'."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, October 10, 1936)

___________________

*(See also: Nos. 1538-1539) 


906. The Greatest Name or Picture of 'Abdu'l-Baha Should Be Placed in a Dignified Position

"It is quite important that the Greatest Name or the picture of 'Abdu'l-Baha be placed in a dignified position. They should not be placed on the floor, nor, on the other hand, should they be held above the heads of the people in the photograph. It would seem the proper position would be for them to be held about chest height."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to a National Spiritual Assembly, December 10, 1952)


B. Ringstone Emblem and Jewellery*


907. Ringstone Emblem is Form of the Greatest Name—Use of on Jewelry

"In reply to your letter of November 2nd about the use of the Greatest Name on brooches and other decorations, we quote below the text of a letter which we wrote on this subject in 1964 to another National Spiritual Assembly:


'The ring-stone emblem is one form of the Greatest Name. While the beloved Guardian has called attention to the sacredness of the Greatest Name, and has asked that it should always be placed in a dignified position, we do not find any instruction absolutely prohibiting the use of symbols of the Greatest Name on any particular item such as jewelry, books or pamphlets.


'We feel that the friends should exercise the greatest discrimination and good taste in its use'."


(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the British Isles, November 15, 1967)

___________________

*(See also: Nos. 901 and 903)


908. Baha'is Not Required to Wear Ringstone

"It was kind of you to think of making pins for the Baha'is; but he feels that this is too much like clubs and other organizations. Indeed the Baha'is do not even have to wear a Baha'i ring-stone unless they care to do so. He thinks it is better not to add any other means of identification."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, February 22, 1956)


909. Ringstone Inscription Explained

"The inscription upon the Baha'i ringstone is the symbol of the Greatest Name, Baha, who is the Manifestation of the essence of God. It is also symbolic of the three planes representing the World of God, the World of Revelation and the World of Creation."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, February 28, 1938)


[271] 910. The Significance of the Stars

"Upon the horizon of Eternal Glory two luminous stars have arisen in brilliance: one to the right and one to the left ... this is the mystery of the appearance of the Beauty of Abha and of the Supreme Highness (the Bab). And though these two diagrams at the right and the left have the form of stars, they also represent the body of man, with the head, the two arms and the two legs, since this diagram has five points."

('Abdu'l-Baha: Baha'i Scriptures, p. 479, 1923 ed.)


911. Greatest Name—An Invocation

"He also wishes me to inform you that the symbol of the Greatest Name represents an invocation which can be translated either as 'O Glory of Glories' or 'O Glory of the All-Glorious'. The word glory used in this connection is a translation of the Arabic term 'Baha', the name of Baha'u'llah."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, April 28, 1935: Baha'i News, No. 93, p. 1, July 1935)



XXIII. HAZIRATU'L-QUDS


[272] 912. Haziratu'l-Quds—Its Main Function

"With reference to the use of your Haziratu'l-Quds we wish to point out that its main function is to serve as the National Administrative Headquarters of the Faith in your country, and anything else is secondary to that. If possible and convenient, believers may be accomodated from time to time, but it should not be regarded as a hotel facility. The work of the Cause is the prime matter and nothing should be allowed to interfere with that."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Ecuador, October 23, 1963)


913. Dancing Not Appropriate in Haziratu'l-Quds

"The beloved Guardian has instructed me to answer the questions raised in your recent letter regarding the proper use of the Haziratu'l-Quds.

"As in most cases the Baha'is have no other meeting-place in the city which has a Haziratu'l-Quds, and the Haziratu'l-Quds is a building that has a number of rooms, he sees no objection in allowing the youth to have their meetings there with their non-Baha'i friends, but dancing he does not feel is appropriate. Baha'i weddings and funerals can likewise be conducted in the Haziratu'l-Quds.


"The Haziratu'l-Quds, although Feasts and Holy Days are celebrated in it, must not be confounded with a Temple; it is an administrative headquarters. No doubt in the future it will be used for purely administrative purposes, but for the time being it must fill the role of being a true Centre and rallying-point for the Baha'i Community."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of South America, February 15, 1947)


914. Local and National Haziratu'l-Quds

"The Haziratu'l-Quds is an Institution of the Faith and no distinction should be made between a National or Local Haziratu'l-Quds concerning its use. Other than the Haziratu'l-Quds dances may certainly be allowed at summer schools, etc., and it should be left to the discretion of the committee or Assembly in charge to make whatever arrangements are necessary."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Mexico, June 27, 1970)


915. Principles that Govern Acceptance of Gifts of Land

Please refer to No. 728.


916. National Spiritual Assembly Should Budget Annually for Maintenance of Properties

"Many properties have already been acquired in the course of previous plans. It is important that these properties be properly maintained in good repair. National [273] Spiritual Assemblies should set aside sums annually in their budgets for the maintenance of national properties so that when a repair becomes necessary the funds will be available without creating a sudden crisis for the national fund. As far as possible, local Haziratu'l-Quds and other local properties should be kept up by the local friends themselves.


"It is also important to make full use of the properties of the Faith for the purposes for which they were acquired. Well maintained and regularly used properties will not only be a means of fostering Baha'i community life, but will add to the prestige and dignity of the Faith in the eyes of the non-Baha'i public."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to all National Spiritual Assemblies, Naw-Ruz 1979)


917. Responsibility of National Spiritual Assembly to Maintain and Improve Properties—Individual Baha'is Can Help in Many Ways

"National Spiritual Assemblies throughout the world are required to assume, on a continuing basis, the responsibility of providing for the maintenance and improvement of their own Baha'i properties, and they should instill into the consciousness of the believers the importance of their role in keeping the national headquarters in a representative and attractive condition. There are many ways in which the Baha'is can help to beautify and maintain their National Haziratu'l-Quds, not only by contributing by material means, but also by offering their time and labour to clean, paint, take care of minor repairs, work in the gardens, etc."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Uruguay, June 20, 1979)


918. Purchase and Sale of Haziratu'l-Quds

"The Universal House of Justice has requested us to acknowledge your letter of May 6, 1981 concerning the proposed sale of your National Haziratu'l-Quds and to convey the following.


"The matter is entirely within the discretion of your National Assembly bearing in mind the principle that you should not be without a National Haziratu'l-Quds; that is, you must obtain a new one, or at least have the transactions for obtaining it well advanced and secure, before disposing of the old one.


"In reply to your question about the location of the Secretariat of the National Assembly, we have been asked to say that your Assembly must operate from the National Haziratu'l-Quds, and it is important and desirable that your Secretary reside as near as possible to the National Headquarters in order that the duties of the office may be attended to with dispatch. Enclosed for your consideration are excerpts from recent letters dealing with this subject."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Nicaragua, June 7, 1981)


919. National Haziratu'l-Quds Need Not Serve Needs of Local Spiritual Assembly—Preferable that National Secretary Live in Haziratu'l-Quds

"There is no requirement for the National Haziratu'l-Quds to include within its accommodations a public meeting hall, neither is there a requirement that it be a meeting place for the Local Spiritual Assembly in the city in which it [274] may be located. Its essential function is that it is the seat of the National Spiritual Assembly, and should have adequate facilities for its secretariat. Should there be adequate space and the National Assembly feels it convenient, there would be no objection to its leasing one or two rooms to the Local Spiritual Assembly, but this certainly is not an essential part of the National Haziratu'l-Quds. The facilities you choose to specify as criteria in the search for new quarters are a matter for your own decision.


"While it is not imperative for the National Secretary to live in the National Haziratu'l-Quds, it is the generally preferred arrangement. Should it be impossible for the Secretary to live actually in the Haziratu'l-Quds itself, there would be no objection to his living nearby. The vital thing is that the seat of the National Spiritual Assembly should be the National Haziratu'l-Quds, and that the National Assembly should operate from there."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Virgin Islands, July 22, 1982)


920. The National Spiritual Assembly Must Operate from the National Haziratu'l-Quds—Eventually, Full Time Service Will Be Required of the National Secretary

"The first principle which has been established is that a National Spiritual Assembly must operate from its National Haziratu'l-Quds, which is the official Seat of the National Spiritual Assembly. During the early formative years of the Faith and the building up of the Administrative Order it has been permitted in certain instances for the National Secretary to reside away from the city in which the National Haziratu'l-Quds is located, but in these cases the principle has always been enforced that the National Spiritual Assembly itself operates from its proper address at the National Haziratu'l-Quds.... The aim should be to overcome this anomaly and for the National Secretary to reside close to, if not in, the National Haziratu'l-Quds itself. Inevitably the day will come when it will be necessary for your National Secretary to devote his entire time to the service of the National Spiritual Assembly and it will then be imperative for the Secretary to operate from the Haziratu'l-Quds."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Dominican Republic, February 9, 1976)


921. Preferable Arrangement and Baha'i Norm that the National Secretary Live in the Haziratu'l-Quds—Not to be Considered a "Right of Office"

"While it is not imperative for the National Secretary to live in the National Haziratu'l-Quds, and certainly the believer elected to the important post cannot claim such residence as a right of office, it is the generally preferred arrangement and is, in fact, the norm of Baha'i practice. The vital thing is that the seat of the National Spiritual Assembly should be the National Haziratu'l-Quds and that the National Assembly should operate from there. This obviously requires the constant attendance of the Secretary since all mail for the Assembly should be received at and despatched from the Haziratu'l-Quds, and there are many other considerations of which you are all informed. However, the final decision must rest with your National Spiritual Assembly and should it be impossible for the National Secretary to live actually in the Haziratu'l-Quds itself there [275] would be no objection to the officer living near or within easy reach, particularly if it were on a temporary basis."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United Kingdom, September 22, 1974)


922. A District Haziratu'l-Quds Serves the Local Community as a Gathering Place for Baha'is of Wider Area

"A district Haziratu'l-Quds should be considered as the local Haziratu'l-Quds of the community in which it is situated, but as it is intended also to serve as a central gathering place for friends from a wider area it should be a more substantial structure than normally required for a local Haziratu'l-Quds. In keeping with this concept, such a building can be used for the holding of conferences, teaching institutes, deepening classes, etc., for the larger area.


"Whether someone should live in the district Haziratu'l-Quds is a matter for your Assembly to determine. However, it is usually desirable to have living accommodation available for someone to reside there to act as a caretaker for the property."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Surinam and French Guiana, August 15, 1982)



XXIV. HEALTH, HEALING AND NUTRITION



A. Spiritual and Physical Healing


[276] 923. Consult Competent Physicians When Ill

"Resort ye, in times of sickness, to competent physicians; We have not set aside the use of material means, rather have We confirmed it through this Pen, which God hath made to be the Dawning-place of His shining and glorious Cause."

(Baha'u'llah: Kitab-i-Aqdas, K. 113, p. 60)


924. Prayers for Spiritual and Material Healing

"...The prayers which were written for the purpose of healing are both for the spiritual and material healing. Therefore chant them for the spiritual and material healing. If healing is best for the patient surely it will be granted. For some who are sick, healing for them shall be the cause of other ills. Thus it is that wisdom does not decree the answer to some prayers.


"O maid-servant of God. The Power of the Holy Spirit heals both material and spiritual ills."

('Abdu'l-Baha: Tablet to Ella Goodall Cooper: Daily Lessons Received at Akka, 1976 ed., p. 86)


925. The Greatest Name Influences Both Spiritual and Physical Matters

"That the Most Great Name exerciseth influence over both physical and spiritual matters is sure and certain."

(From a Tablet to an individual believer, by 'Abdu'l-Baha: Selections from Baha'i Writings on Some Aspects of Health, Healing, Nutrition and Related Matters, April 1984, p. 2)


"O maid-servant of God! Continue in healing hearts and bodies and seek healing for sick persons by turning unto the Supreme Kingdom and by setting the heart upon obtaining healing through the power of the Greatest Name and by the spirit of the love of God."

(Tablets of 'Abdu'l-Baha, Vol. III, p. 629)


926. Two Ways of Healing Sickness

"There are two ways of healing sickness, material means and spiritual means. The first is by the treatment of physicians; the second consisteth in prayers offered by the spiritual ones to God and in turning to Him. Both means should be used and practiced.


"Illnesses which occur by reason of physical causes should be treated by doctors with medical remedies; those which are due to spiritual causes disappear through spiritual means. Thus an illness caused by affliction, fear, nervous impressions, [277] will be healed more effectively by spiritual rather than by physical treatment. Hence, both kinds of treatment should be followed; they are not contradictory. Therefore thou shouldst accept physical remedies inasmuch as these too have come from the mercy and favour of God, Who hath revealed and made manifest medical science so that His servants may profit from this kind of treatment also. Thou shouldst give equal attention to spiritual treatments, for they produce marvellous effects.


"Now, if thou wishest to know the true remedy which will heal man from all sickness and will give him the health of the divine kingdom, know that it is the precepts and teachings of God. Focus thine attention upon them."

('Abdu'l-Baha: Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Baha, pp. 151-152)


927. Two Processes of Healing—Prayer Alone Not Sufficient

"As you know Baha'u'llah has ordained that in case of illness we should always consult the most competent physicians. And this is exactly what the Guardian strongly advises you to do. For prayer alone is not sufficient. To render it more effective we have to make use of all the physical and material advantages which God has given us. Healing through purely spiritual forces is undoubtedly as inadequate as that which materialist physicians and thinkers vainly seek to obtain by resorting entirely to mechanical devices and methods. The best result can be obtained by combining the two processes, spiritual and physical."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, March 12, 1934: Extracts from the Guardian's Letters on Spiritualism, Reincarnation and Related Subjects, p. 9)


928. Spiritual and Material Healing Essential and Complementary

"With regard to your question concerning spiritual healing. Such a healing constitutes, indeed, one of the most effective methods of relieving a person from either his mental or physical pains and sufferings. 'Abdu'l-Baha has in His 'Paris Talks' emphasized its importance by stating that it should be used as an essential means for effecting a complete physical cure. Spiritual healing, however, is not and cannot be a substitute for material healing, but it is a most valuable adjunct to it. Both are, indeed, essential and complementary."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, February 16, 1935: Selections from Baha'i Writings on Some Aspects of Health, Healing, Nutrition and Related Matters, April 1984, p. 10)


929. Physical Healing Must Be Reinforced by Spiritual Healing

"With reference to your question concerning spiritual healing. Its importance, as you surely know, has been greatly emphasized by 'Abdu'l-Baha Who considered it, indeed, as an essential part of physical processes of healing. Physical healing cannot be complete and lasting unless it is reinforced by spiritual healing. And this last one can be best obtained through obedience to the laws and commandments of God as revealed to us through His Manifestations. Individual believers, however, can also help by imparting healing to others. But the success of their efforts depends entirely on their strict adherence to the Teachings, and also on the manner in which they impart them to others. According to Baha'u'llah man cannot obtain full guidance directly from God. He must rather seek it through His Prophets. Provided this principle is clearly understood and explained, the Guardian sees no harm that the friends should try to effect spiritual healing on others. Any such cure effected, however, should [278] be done in the name of Baha'u'llah and in accordance with His teachings. For God, and God alone, is the Supreme and Almighty Physician and all else are but instruments in His hands."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, May 23, 1935: Extracts from the Guardian's Letters on Spiritualism, Reincarnation and Related Subjects, p. 8)


930. Healing of Illness—There is No Such Thing as "Baha'i Healers"

"The Guardian knows nothing about your kind of healing, nor would he care to go into the question in detail, as he has no time for such matters. But he can lay down for your guidance certain broad principles: there is no such thing as Baha'i healers or a Baha'i type of healing. In His Most Holy Book (the Aqdas) Baha'u'llah says to consult the best physicians, in other words, doctors who have studied a scientific system of medicine: He never gave us to believe He Himself would heal us through 'healers', but rather through prayer and the assistance of medicine and approved treatments.


"Now, as long as your healing is in no opposition to these principles, as long as you do not try and take the place of a regular doctor in trying to heal others, but only give them your kind of help through constructive suggestion—or whatever it may be—and do not associate this help with being a channel of the direct grace of Baha'u'llah, the Guardian sees no harm in your continuing your assistance to others. But you must conscientiously decide whether in view of the above you are really justified in continuing. He will pray for your guidance and happiness...."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, June 6, 1948: Ibid., p. 8)


931. To Associate Such Things with the Cause Ultimately Injures It

"He feels the attitude taken by you and the Assembly of Caracas towards the remarkable healing powers exhibited by ... has been the right one. To associate such things with the Cause directly would be only to ultimately injure its reputation and misrepresent it, as her powers—which are certainly very hard to find any logical explanation for—are not common to Baha'is, but rather a phenomenon seen among individuals, (rarely) of religious backgrounds.


"As to its being direct inspiration of Baha'u'llah, we certainly cannot say this. We can only be grateful that she has actually been able to help people who direly needed it. She herself being a devoted Baha'i, there is no reason why she should not be known as one. But certainly it should in no way be connected with her healing powers."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian, September 30, 1949, to an individual believer: Ibid., p. 8)


932. Not a Unique Phenomenon

"The Guardian has already heard about ...'s seemingly remarkable powers of healing and he wrote the friends who communicated with him that he feels that she is naturally free to use this power, so far beyond our understanding, but not a unique phenomenon in history by any means, for the good of others, but that it is better not to directly associate it with the Faith.


"In other words this dear soul is a Baha'i, and we are all proud that she is one. But she should not give the impression she is a Baha'i healer, for we have no such [279] thing, but rather that she is a Baha'i by faith, whom God seems to have blessed with this precious bounty individually of being able to often heal others."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, October 26, 1949: Ibid., pp. 8-9)


933. To Be Able to Help Another Soul Who is Suffering

"The Guardian sees no reason why you should not continue to help sick people. As he wrote to some of the believers regarding this matter previously, as long as you do not say you are healing them as a Baha'i, or because you are a Baha'i (because we have no 'healers' in the Cause as such) there can be certainly no objection to your doing it. On the contrary to be able to help another soul who is in suffering is a great bounty from God."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, October 5, 1950: Ibid., p. 9)


934. Try Not to Have the Faith Identified with Such Things

"He thinks your Assembly's decision regarding spiritual healing being demonstrated at a Baha'i meeting was quite sound. We should try not to have the Faith identified with such things in the eyes of the public officially. What the believers do privately, which in no way contravenes the Teachings, is their own affair."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of the British Isles, June 25, 1953: Ibid., p. 9)


935. Should Not Become Healer

"He does not feel that you should try to do anything special about the capacity you feel to help people when they are ill. This does not mean you should not use it, when the occasion arises, such as it did recently. But he means you should not become a 'healer' such as the Christian Scientists have, and we Baha'is do not have."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, December 25, 1949: Ibid., p. 9)


936. Healing by the Holy Spirit

"We have no reason to believe that the healing of the Holy Spirit cannot be attracted by ordinary human beings. But this is rare, a mystery, and a gift of God."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, March 26, 1950: Ibid., p. 9)


937. Visiting the Sick

"We should all visit the sick. When they are in sorrow and suffering, it is a real help and benefit to have a friend come. Happiness is a great healer to those who are ill. In the East it is the custom to call upon the patient often and meet him individually. The people in the East show the utmost kindness and compassion to the sick and suffering. This has greater effect than the remedy itself. You must always have this thought of love and affection when you visit the ailing and afflicted."

('Abdu'l-Baha: The Promulgation of Universal Peace, 1982 ed., p. 204)


[280] 938. However Critical and Hopeless Consult and Follow Treatment of Competent Physician

"As regards Miss ... Shoghi Effendi feels unspeakably grateful for all the kind assistance you have been continually extending to her father in this assuredly heart-rending, nay indeed calamitous situation facing him. You did certainly well, however critical and hopeless his daughter's case may have been considered by the doctors, to advise him to take her to a hospital, and give her the best treatment medical science could possibly offer. In doing so you have acted in full conformity with the counsel so tenderly and repeatedly given by Baha'u'llah that in case of illness one should invariably consult and follow the treatment of competent and conscientious physicians."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, June 18, 1939: Selections from Baha'i Writings on Some Aspects of Health and Healing, June 1974, p. 7)


939. Both Spiritual and Physical Forces Needed to Secure Speedy Recovery

"In the Book of Aqdas Baha'u'llah urges us, that when we obtain any physical ailment we should refer to the doctor and abide by his decision. Physical and spiritual forces have both to be used to secure the speedy recovery of the patients; no partial treatment is sufficient. So you should pray for your son and also be faithful in your obedience to the directions of the physicians who are trying to restore him to health."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, June 1, 1933)


940. Physical Ailments Have No Effect on the Soul

"Regarding your questions concerning the condition of the soul during illness. The passages in the 'Gleanings' make it quite clear that physical ailments, no matter how severe, cannot bring any change in the inherent condition of the soul. As Baha'u'llah says: 'The spirit is permanent and steadfast in its station'. The veil or hindrance that interposes between soul and body during physical disease is sickness itself. Sickness reveals a lack of balance in human organism, an absence of equilibrium in the forces essential for the normal functioning of the human body."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, March 8, 1936)


941. Baha'is Must Avoid Depleting Their Forces and Suffering Breakdowns

"...The Baha'is, in spite of their self-sacrificing desire to give the last drop of their strength to serving the Cause, must guard against utterly depleting their forces and having breakdowns. For this can sometimes do more harm than good, because they are so bound up in the lives of others....


"There is no doubt that there is vicarious atonement for others, and our sufferings sometimes can be in the nature of a sacrifice accepted for others. But where to draw the line is a mystery. If you take better care of your own health, and build up your reserves, it would certainly be better for you and for your work. Then your sensitive, yearning heart, although you may still often suffer for and with others, will be better able to withstand its trials, and you will not get so exhausted, which is certainly no asset to your work for the Cause."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, October 25, 1949)


[281] 942. The Supreme Need of the World Today is for Spiritual Healing—Baha'is Are the Leaven that Must Leaven the Lump

"However much the need may be for physical healing, the supreme need of the world today is for spiritual healing. Life in this world is so relatively short—and at present it is fraught with a thousand difficulties and dangers; whereas life in the true sense is eternal, and for this eternal life people need some preparation in these turbulent times.


"Your work to improve the health of people is a meritorious way of serving mankind, but it can never be compared with the work of illumining the souls and minds of men with the Light of Baha'u'llah. The people of the world are teeming millions, the Baha'is only a handful, yet they are the precious leaven that must leaven the lump."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, May 8, 1942)


943. Some Illnesses Have to Do with the Spiritual Development of the One Affected or of the Loved Ones

"The Beloved Guardian has asked me to assure you and the parents of the dear baby of his prayers for his healing, both material and spiritual.


"It is difficult for us to understand these calamities when they come to us. Those who are firm in the Faith, know that the Hand of God protects them, and if something of this nature comes upon them, it is for some reason, which may have to do with the spiritual development of the one affected, or the spiritual development and welfare of the loved ones; or even for the melting of the hearts of non-Baha'is, who will be affected by the Divine Spirit, through the manner in which the Baha'i meets such an ordeal."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, July 23, 1953)


944. Physical Pain is Necessary to Existence and is Unavoidable—In Every Suffering One Can Find a Meaning and a Wisdom

"As to your question concerning the meaning of physical suffering and its relation to mental and spiritual healing. Physical pain is a necessary accompaniment of all human existence, and as such is unavoidable. As long as there will be life on earth, there will be also suffering, in various forms and degrees. But suffering, although an inescapable reality, can nevertheless be utilised as a means for the attainment of happiness. This is the interpretation given to it by all the prophets and saints who, in the midst of severe tests and trials, felt happy and joyous and experienced what is best and holiest in life. Suffering is both a reminder and a guide. It stimulates us to better adapt ourselves to our environmental conditions, and thus leads the way to self-improvement. In every suffering one can find a meaning and a wisdom. But it is not always easy to find the secret of that wisdom. It is sometimes only when all our suffering has passed that we become aware of its usefulness. What man considers to be evil turns often to be a cause of infinite blessings. And this is due to his desire to know more than he can. God's wisdom is, indeed, inscrutable to us all, and it is no use pushing too far trying to discover that which shall always remain a mystery to our mind."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, May 29, 1935)


[282] 945. Decree of Baha'u'llah Consult Competent Doctor

"According to the explicit decree of Baha'u'llah one must not turn aside from the advice of a competent doctor. It is imperative to consult one even if the patient himself be a well-known and eminent physician. In short, the point is that you should maintain your health by consulting a highly-skilled physician."

('Abdu'l-Baha: Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Baha, p. 156, No. 135)


946. It is the Responsibility of the Believers to Look After the Sick

"O thou servant of God! To look after the sick is one of the greatest duties. For every soul who becomes sick, the other friends should certainly offer their lives (in service) with the utmost kindness."

(Tablets of 'Abdu'l-Baha, Volume I, p. 149: cited in Selections from Baha'i Writings on Some Aspects of Health and Healing, p. 1)



B. Mental Illness


947. Little is Known About the Mind and Its Workings

"Very little is as yet known about the mind and its workings. But one thing is certain: Baha'is can and do receive a very remarkable help and protection in this world, one which often surprises their doctors very much!"

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, April 9, 1948: Extracts from the Guardian's Letters on Spiritualism, Reincarnation and Related Subjects, p. 4)


948. Mental Illness Does Not Affect Our Spirit or Our Inner Relation to God

"It is very hard to be subject to any illness, particularly a mental one. However, we must always remember these illnesses have nothing to do with our spirit or our inner relation to God. It is a great pity that as yet so little is really known of the mind, its workings and illnesses that afflict it; no doubt, as the world becomes more spiritually minded and scientists understand the true nature of man, more humane and permanent cures for mental diseases will be found.


"The Guardian, much as his heart goes out to you in your fear and suffering, cannot tell you whether electric shock treatments should or should not be used, as this is a purely medical question, and there is no reference to such details in our Scriptures. The best scientists must pass upon such methods, not laymen.


"You must always remember, no matter how much you or others may be afflicted with mental troubles and the crushing environment of these State Institutions, that your spirit is healthy, near to our Beloved, and will in the next world enjoy a happy and normal state of soul. Let us hope in the meantime scientists will find better and permanent cures for the mentally afflicted. But in this world such illness is truly a heavy burden to bear!"

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, April 12, 1948: Selections from Baha'i Writings on Some Aspects of Health and Healing, A Compilation of the Universal House of Justice, June 1974)


[283] 949. Disease of Two Kinds—Madness Can Be Cured Through Prayer

"Disease is of two kinds: material and spiritual. Take for instance, a cut hand; if you pray for the cut to be healed and do not stop its bleeding, you will not do much good; a material remedy is needed.


"Sometimes if the nervous system is paralysed through fear, a spiritual remedy is necessary. Madness, incurable otherwise, can be cured through prayer. It often happens that sorrow makes one ill; this can be cured by spiritual means."

('Abdu'l-Baha in London, Addresses and Notes of Conversations, 1982 ed., p. 65)


950. Some Serious Deficiencies, Physical or Mental, Can Incapacitate One to Contract Marriage

"The Baha'i Teachings do not only encourage marital life, considering it the natural and normal way of existence for every sane, healthy and socially-conscious and responsible person, but raise marriage to the status of a divine institution, its chief and sacred purpose being the perpetuation of the human race—which is the very flower of the entire creation—and its elevation to the true station destined for it by God.


"That there should be, however, certain individuals, who, by reason of some serious deficiency, physical or mental, would be incapacitated to contract marriage and enjoy the blessings of an enduring and successful marital life, is only too evident, but these constitute only a very small section of humanity, and are therefore merely an exception, and their condition cannot possibly invalidate what an all-wise and loving Providence has decreed to be the normal way to a fruitful and constructive social existence.


"The exact conditions and circumstances under which such incapacitated individuals should be advised or even prevented perhaps from entering into any sort of marital existence have not been specified in the Baha'i Writings, but will have to be defined later on by the Universal House of Justice. In the meantime, those believers who consider themselves as falling into the above category would do well, before taking any final decision themselves, to consult medical experts, who are both conscientious and competent, and to abide by their recommendation."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, April 15, 1939: Some Aspects of Health, Healing, Nutrition and Related Matters)


951. No Objection to One Seeing a Psychiatrist

"As regards your seeing a psychiatrist: There is no objection to your trying this form of treatment if your physician recommends it, and any intelligent doctor would never be prejudiced against the Faith through the difficulties incurred by a patient due to illness.


"There is no object in over-taxing your will power and strength by forcing yourself to do things for the Cause. You should let your mind rest in the thought of the infinite love, mercy and forgiveness of Baha'u'llah, and cease to fret about whether you are or are not doing your share until you fully recover your health—and evidently you already are on the road to recovery!"

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, March 26, 1945)


[284] 952. Baha'is Should Not Become Healers*

"He does not feel that you should try to do anything special about the capacity you feel to help people when they are ill. This does not mean you should not use it, when the occasion arises, such as it did recently. But he means you should not become a 'healer' such as the Christian Scientists have, and we Baha'is do not have."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, December 25, 1949: Some Aspects of Health, Healing, Nutrition and Related Matters, A Compilation, p. 13)

____________________

*(See also: Nos. 930-934)


953. The Mind Can Be Helped by Professionals, but the Soul is Not Aided by Psychotherapy

"With reference to the broad aspects of your problem of psychological difficulty, the House of Justice has asked us to quote the following passages from the Writings of Baha'u'llah: 'Know thou that the soul of man is exalted above, and is independent of all infirmities of body or mind.... When it (the soul) leaveth the body, however, it will evince such ascendancy, and reveal such influence as no force on earth can equal'. In a letter written on behalf of the beloved Guardian we also find the following passage: 'You must always remember, no matter how much you and others are afflicted with mental troubles ..., that your spirit is healthy, near to your Beloved, and will in the next world enjoy a happy and normal state of soul.' Thus it is that the soul is not aided by psychotherapy. On the other hand, in your understanding of the mental phenomena which distress you, and in your efforts to overcome your problem it is perfectly proper to consult professional experts, as your National Assembly ... advised. In another letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi by his secretary, we read the following: 'As Baha'u'llah has urged us to avail ourselves of the help of good physicians, Baha'is certainly are not only free to turn to psychiatry for assistance but should, when available, do so.' The mind, then, with all its aberrancies, may often favourably be influenced by scientifically trained persons.


"The Universal House of Justice suggests that through daily prayer, and specially by observing the daily obligatory prayers, through study of the Writings, through active participation in teaching efforts and in the activities of the community, and through constant effort to sacrifice for the Faith you love so well, you will provide a spiritual counterpart to the professional help you will receive from the experts. You should also endeavour to engage in some useful occupation, or by training yourself to have such an occupation, as work is itself another means at our disposal, in accordance with our Teachings, to draw nearer to God, and to better grasp His purpose for us in this world."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, April 6, 1976)


954. The Science of the Mind is in Its Relative Infancy—Therapy of Mental Disorders is Advancing

"It is not easy to be burdened with long years of mental illness such as you describe. And plainly you have sought aid from many persons of scientific and non-scientific training backgrounds, apparently to little avail over the years of your prolonged illness.  [285] Possibly you should consider, if it is feasible, consulting the best specialists in a medical centre in one of the major cities, where the most advanced diagnosis and treatment can be obtained. The science of the mind, of normality and of the disabilities from which it may suffer, is in its relative infancy, but much may be possible to aid you to minimize your suffering and make possible an active life. The last ten years in the therapy of mental disorders has seen important advances from which you may well benefit.


"Your discovery of the Faith, of its healing Writings and its great purposes for the individual and for all mankind, have indeed brought to you a powerful force toward a healthy life which will sustain you on a higher level, whatever your ailment may be. The best results for the healing process are to combine the spiritual with the physical, for it should be possible for you to overcome your illness through the combined and sustained power of prayer and of determined effort."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, July 23, 1984)


955. Mental Illness is Not Spiritual

"...mental illness is not spiritual, although its effects may indeed hinder and be a burden in one's striving toward spiritual progress. In a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to a believer there is this further passage: 


'Such hindrances (i.e., illness and outer difficulties), no matter how severe and insuperable they may at first seem, can and should be effectively overcome through the combined and sustained power of prayer and of determined and continued effort.'


"That effort can include the counsel of wise and experienced physicians, including psychiatrists. Working for the Faith, serving others who may need you, and giving of yourself can aid you in your struggle to overcome your sufferings. One helpful activity is, of course, striving to teach the Cause in spite of personal feelings of shortcomings, thus allowing the healing words of the Cause to flood your mind with their grace and positive power."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, June 15, 1982)


956. Baha'is Should Not Take a Defeatist Attitude Toward Mental Illnesses

"In the Baha'i Teachings it is made quite clear that when one is ill, one should seek the best available medical advice. This naturally leaves a person free to choose what they consider good in medical opinion. If you and ...'s mother feel that she is improving under the care of your own doctor, and ... is willing to wait and be patient and see if she goes on making progress, there can surely be no objection to her doing this. There are a great many as you know mental diseases and troubles at present, and the one thing Baha'is must not do is take a defeatist attitude toward them. The power in the Faith is such that it can sustain us on a much higher level in spite of whatever our ailments might be, than other people who are denied it. This however does not mean that we should ignore medical opinion and treatment. On the contrary, we should do our best to procure the opinion of specialists and competent doctors."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, January 12, 1957)


957. Psychiatry

"There is nothing in our teachings about Freud and his method. Psychiatric treatment [286] in general is no doubt an important contribution to medicine, but we must believe it is still a growing rather than a perfected science. As Baha'u'llah has urged us to avail ourselves of the help of good physicians Baha'is are certainly not only free to turn to psychiatry for assistance but should, when advisable, do so. This does not mean psychiatrists are always wise or always right, it means we are free to avail ourselves of the best medicine has to offer us."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of the British Isles, June 15, 1950)



C. Doctors


958. Physician is Blessed Who Heals in the Name of God

"Well is it with the physician who cureth ailments in My hallowed and dearly cherished Name."

(From a Tablet of Baha'u'llah: Selections from Baha'i Writings on Some Aspects of Health, Healing, Nutrition and Related Subjects, op. cit.)


959. To Seek Medical Treatment and Obey the Doctor is a Divine Ordinance

"It is incumbent upon everyone to seek medical treatment and to follow the doctor's instructions, for this is in compliance with the divine ordinance, but, in reality, He Who giveth healing is God."

('Abdu'l-Baha: Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Baha, p. 156)


960. One Must Obey Command of God and Submit to Medical Opinion

"One must obey the command of God and submit to medical opinion. Thou hast undertaken this journey to comply with His command and not for the sake of healing, since healing is in the hand of God, not in the hand of doctors."

(From a Tablet of 'Abdu'l-Baha to an individual believer: Selections from Baha'i Writings on Some Aspects of Health, Healing, Nutrition and Related Subjects, op. cit.)


961. The Science of Medicine is Extremely Useful

"Thou shouldst endeavour to study the science of medicine. It is extremely useful and serveth as the greatest instrument for the dissemination of the Cause. It is absolutely imperative that thou acquire this bounty. Strive day and night that thou mayest become highly qualified in this science. And when thou wishest to dispense treatment, set thy heart toward the Abha Kingdom, entreating divine confirmations."

(From a Tablet of 'Abdu'l-Baha to an individual believer: Ibid.)


962. The Sick Must Refer to a Skilled Doctor

"...thou hast written about thy poor sight. According to the explicit divine text the sick must refer to the doctor. This decree is decisive and everyone is bound to observe it. While thou art there thou shouldst consult the most skilled and the most famed eye specialist."

(From a Tablet of 'Abdu'l-Baha to an individual believer: Ibid.)


963. The Physician Has Two Powers

"O thou distinguished physician!... Praise be to God that thou hast two powers: one to undertake physical healing and the other spiritual healing. Matters related [287] to man's spirit have a great effect on his bodily condition. For instance, thou shouldst impart gladness to thy patient, give him comfort and joy, and bring him to ecstasy and exultation. How often hath it occurred that this hath caused early recovery. Therefore, treat thou the sick with both powers. Spiritual feelings have a surprising effect on healing nervous ailments."

('Abdu'l-Baha: Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Baha, pp. 150-151)


964. When Giving Treatment, Turn to the Blessed Beauty, Baha'u'llah

"When giving medical treatment turn to the Blessed Beauty, then follow the dictates of thy heart. Remedy the sick by means of heavenly joy and spiritual exultation, cure the sorely afflicted by imparting to them blissful glad tidings and heal the wounded through His resplendent bestowals. When at the bedside of a patient, cheer and gladden his heart and enrapture his spirit through celestial power. Indeed, such a heavenly breath quickeneth every mouldering bone and reviveth the spirit of every sick and ailing one."

('Abdu'l-Baha: Ibid., p. 151)


965. It is Imperative to Consult a Doctor Even if One is an Eminent Physician

"According to the explicit decree of Baha'u'llah one must not turn aside from the advice of a competent doctor. It is imperative to consult one even if the patient himself be a well-known and eminent physician. In short, the point is that you should maintain your health by consulting a highly-skilled physician."

('Abdu'l-Baha: Ibid., p. 156)


966. God Alone Has the Power to Give True Healing—Many Men Have Died of the Very Disease of Their Specialty

"All true healing comes from God! There are two causes for sickness, one is material, the other spiritual. If the sickness is of the body, a material remedy is needed, if of the soul, a spiritual remedy.


"If the heavenly benediction be upon us while we are being healed then only can we be made whole, for medicine is but the outward and visible means through which we obtain the heavenly healing. Unless the spirit be healed, the cure of the body is worth nothing. All is in the hands of God, and without Him there can be no health in us!


"There have been many men who have died at last of the very disease of which they have made a special study. Aristotle, for instance, who made a special study of the digestion, died of a gastronomic malady. Avicenna was a specialist of the heart, but he died of heart disease. God is the great compassionate Physician who alone has the power to give true healing."

('Abdu'l-Baha: Paris Talks, 1972 ed., p. 19)


967. Service is Prayer

"This is worship: to serve mankind and to minister to the needs of the people. Service is prayer. A physician ministering to the sick, gently, tenderly, free from prejudice and believing in the solidarity of the human race, he is giving praise."

('Abdu'l-Baha: Ibid., p. 177)


968. Doctors Versed in Medical Science Can Treat Case Better Than Loving Mothers

"...He fully sympathizes with you in this great sorrow that has afflicted you. At [288] such occasions, the true servants of God should be resigned and try to act wisely, using at the same time all available means to help their loved one who is in distress and is suffering from illness.


"Baha'u'llah tells us that in case of disease we should pray but at the same time refer to competent physicians, and abide by their considered decisions. Shoghi Effendi wishes you therefore to find whether your son has really become ill, and if he is, then follow the directions of the doctor. Being versed in the medical sciences they can treat better than even a loving mother can. You can render your assistance by praying for him and at the same time helping the physicians to treat him."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, April 9, 1933: Selections from Baha'i Writings on Some Aspects of Health and Healing, pp. 5-6)


969. Powers Released by Baha'u'llah Destined to Reveal Themselves Through Instrumentality of His Followers

"These investigations you have so painstakingly pursued in the field of medical science, and on a subject which is still puzzling the minds of all the leading scientists in the world, cannot but be of a captivating interest and of a great value to all medical research workers.


"It is significant that you as a believer should have undertaken a work of this nature, as we all know that the powers released by the Manifestation of Baha'u'llah in this day are destined, in the course of time, to reveal themselves through the instrumentality of His followers, and in every conceivable field of human endeavour.


"That you should increasingly prove, through your confirmed researches in the domain of medicine, to be one of those instruments, is the fervent hope of our beloved Guardian."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, November 29, 1938)


970. Doctors Should Not Work on 9 Holy Days

"He thinks it is better for Baha'i doctors not to work on our 9 Holy Days—but, of course, that does not mean they should not attend to very sick people and emergencies on these days."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of India, August 2, 1946: Dawn of a New Day, p. 116)


971. Corrupt Practices

"The Guardian feels that your attitude towards the corrupt practice of accepting commissions from fellow physicians and pharmacists is most admirable. The more upright and noble the Baha'is are in their conduct, the more they will impress the public with the spiritual vitality of the Faith they believe in."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, October 20, 1953: Living the Life, p. 18)



D. Illnesses and Medical Practices


972. Medical Science Will Greatly Improve with the Spiritual Awakening of Man

"Abdu'l-Baha does often state that the medical science will much improve. With [289] the appearance of every Revelation a new insight is created in man and this in turn expresses itself in the growth of science. This has happened in past dispensations and we find its earliest fruits in our present day. What we see however is only the beginning. With the spiritual awakening of man this force will develop and marvelous results will become manifest."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, January 14, 1932: Selections from Baha'i Writings on Some Aspects of Health, Healing, Nutrition and Related Matters, April 1984, p. 10)


973. Surrogate Mothers and Artificial Insemination

"Regarding surrogate mothers and artificial insemination, you will find the following extracts from statements made by the Universal House of Justice relevant to your questions:


'The beloved Guardian, in a letter written on his behalf to an individual believer who enquired on the same subject, said "...there is nothing in our teachings about this, therefore there is no objection to having a baby by means of artificial insemination as long as your husband is the father of it.'


'Artificial insemination is, therefore, permissible to a Baha'i wife provided her husband is the donor.'"

(From a letter dated 11 July 1978 written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer)


"Also, after quoting the above statement of the Guardian, the following comment was made in another letter:


'In view of this, the House of Justice has stated that it would not be proper for a Baha'i to donate semen to a hospital for the artificial insemination of a woman other than his wife.'"

(From a letter dated 25 May 1979 written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Australia)

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the compiler of this compilation, October 27, 1981)


974. Artificial Production of Life

"As to your question regarding the possibility of an artificial production of life by means of an incubator: This is essentially a matter that concerns science, and as such should be investigated and studied by scientists."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, December 31, 1937: Selections From Baha'i Writings on Some Aspects of Health, Healing, Nutrition and Related Subjects, op. cit.)


975. Conception Without Male Sperm

"...As to the possibility of conception without the presence of a male sperm in the future: This is a question which lies entirely within the province of science, and which future scientists will have to investigate."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, February 27, 1938)


976. Hypnotism

"Hypnotism hath a weak influence over bodies, but hath no result. But the [290] power of the kingdom of God is great. If thou canst, endeavor to obtain a share of that power."

(Tablets of 'Abdu'l-Baha, Vol. I, p. 169)


977. Auto-Suggestion or Hypnotism

"What comes under the healing of psychic practices 'Abdu'l-Baha has warned us against; but any form of auto-suggestion or hypnotism which is used by medical science and by properly qualified physicians we are free to take advantage of, if we feel that the doctor using such practices is qualified and will not abuse his rights."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, February 15, 1957: Spiritualism and Psychic Phenomena, February 14, 1974, p. 2)


978. Cancer

"Cancer is such a terrible scourge in the world today! But when the believers are called upon to go through such bitter ordeals they have the Faith to sustain them, the love of their Baha'i friends to comfort them, and the glorious words of Baha'u'llah regarding immortality to give them confidence and courage. Blessed are we, indeed, even, in the midst of our greatest trials."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, September 5, 1949: Baha'i News, No. 231, p. 1, May 1950)


979. Cancer—Not Stated It is a Spiritual Disease

"There is no authority for the statement which is alleged to have been said by 'Abdu'l-Baha to the effect that cancer is a spiritual disease. The saying is quite unauthoritative, and should not be circulated."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, July 10, 1939)


980. Chiropractic

"There is nothing in the Teachings about chiropractic as a method of healing. People are free to turn to it if they please and find help through it."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, February 10, 1951: Some Aspects of Health, Healing, Nutrition and related Matters, April 1984, p. 14)


981. Circumcision

"The beloved Guardian says that the question of circumcision has nothing to do with the Baha'i Teachings; and the believers are free to do as they please in the matter."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, March 27, 1954: Ibid.)


982. Reference to Certain Aspects of Medical Profession Not Found in Sacred Writings

"We were impressed by the spirit of your letter of 15 Sultan seeking guidance concerning certain aspects of the medical profession. Your desire to avoid doing anything in your study of medicine which would be contrary to the Baha'i Teachings is most commendable.


"As you have keenly observed, the Universal House of Justice may consider it untimely to make definitive rulings on certain matters to which no direct [291] reference can be found in the Sacred Text. Among these are euthanasia and certain aspects of birth control and abortion, and until such time as rulings are made, these matters are left to the consciences of those concerned who must weigh the medical advice on the case in the light of general guidance given in the Teachings. Your National Spiritual Assembly has specific references regarding birth control and abortion which might be useful to you."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, March 18, 1975)


983. Heart/Kidney Transplant

"We have your letter of September 13, 1968, making inquiry about instructions which may apply to organ transplants such as the heart or kidney.


"On 18 September, 1968, we wrote to the National Spiritual Assembly of Argentina as follows:


'We have not come across anything specific in the writings on transplants of hearts and other organs or regarding the time of death, and the Universal House of Justice does not wish to make any statements on these points at this time.'"

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, September 23, 1968)


984. Organ Donor for Parts of the Body Including the Eyes

"In reply to your letter of October 1st inquiring about organ transplants and Baha'is acting as donors for parts of the body, we refer you first of all to our letter of March 3rd 1967 in which we quoted to you a passage from one of the beloved Guardian's letters on this subject.


"We are also able to give you the following from a letter of the beloved Guardian by his secretary: 'There is nothing in the teachings which would forbid a Baha'i to bequeath his eyes to another person or for a hospital; on the contrary it seems a noble thing to do.' This passage is from a letter dated September 6th 1946.


"The House of Justice does not wish at the present time to go beyond the elucidation contained in the above statements."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the British Isles, October 16, 1969)


985. Euthanasia (Mercy Killing)

"As to the questions relating to euthanasia ... the House of Justice has asked us to share with you these two statements...


'As to the Baha'i viewpoint on the removal or withholding of life support in medical cases where intervention prolongs life in disabling illnesses, nothing has been found in the Sacred Text specifically on this matter. In such cases decisions must be left to those responsible, including the patient.'

(From a letter dated 31st May 1979 written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer)


'We have received your letter of March 18, 1974 in which you ask for the Baha'i viewpoint on euthanasia and on the removal of life support in medical cases where physiological interventions prolong life in disabling illnesses. In general our teachings indicate that God, the Giver of life, can alone dispose of it as He deems best, and we have found nothing in the Sacred Text on these [292] matters specifically but in a letter to an individual written on behalf of the beloved Guardian by his secretary regarding mercy killings, or legalized euthanasia, it is stated:


"...this is also a matter which the Universal House of Justice will have to legislate."


'Until such time as the Universal House of Justice considers legislation on euthanasia, decisions in the matters to which you refer must be left to the consciences of those responsible.'"

(From a letter dated 17 May 1974 from the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Alaska)

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the compiler, October 27, 1981)


986. When Dissecting Human Body, It Must Be Treated with Respect

"To your fourth question, a Baha'i, when dissecting a human body for the purposes of medical study, should keep in mind that since the body was once the temple of the spirit it must be treated with respect even though there is no further connection between the two."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, March 18, 1975)


987. Life Support

"With reference to your letter of 1 July 1985, we are asked to say that, in general, our Teachings indicate that God, the Giver of life, can alone dispose of it as He deems best. The Universal House of Justice has found nothing in the Sacred Text about the matter of withholding or removing life support in disabling or terminal illnesses where intervention prolongs life. Therefore, until such time as the House of Justice considers legislation on these matters, it is left to the conscience of the individual concerned whether or not to subscribe to a 'living will'."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to a Local Spiritual Assembly, July 23, 1985)


988. Telepathy

"The Teachings bear no reference to the question of telepathy. It is a matter that concerns psychology."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, February 28, 1938: Spiritualism, Reincarnation and Related Subjects, p. 10)


989. Before Serious Operation Consult More Than One Physician

"He is pleased to see that you are feeling better, and will certainly pray for your full recovery. Before having any serious operation, you should consult more than one qualified physician."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, April 8, 1954)


990. Protect Your Health by Sleeping Enough

"Regarding your question: There are very few people who can get along without eight hours sleep. If you are not one of those, you should protect your health by sleeping enough. The Guardian himself finds that it impairs his working capacity if he does not try and get a minimum of seven or eight hours."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to two believers, September 15, 1952)


[293] 991. Take Care of Health as a Necessary Means of Serving the Cause

"You should always bear in mind Baha'u'llah's counsel that we should take the utmost care of our health, surely not because it is an end in itself, but as a necessary means of serving His Cause. In case of illness, He emphatically tells us, we should refer to the most competent physicians.

"Now your father has taken you to the best nerve specialists in ..., and they all recommend that you should suspend all your activities until you are fully recovered. It is now your duty as a Baha'i, and specially as a young believer who has still great services to render the Faith, to make every effort to recover your health, and to be confident that by making such an effort you will be attracting the confirmations of Baha'u'llah, without which no true and lasting healing is possible."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, July 17, 1937)


992. Vaccination

"Regarding your question about vaccination: These are technical matters which have not been specifically mentioned in the teachings, and consequently the Guardian cannot make any statement about them. No doubt medical science will progress tremendously as time goes by, and the treatment of disease become more perfect."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, December 24, 1943: Baha'i News, No. 173, p. 3, February 1945)


993. Vivisection

"As regards the question the Auckland Assembly has asked about vivisection, there is nothing on this subject in the Baha'i teachings. At a future date such matters will no doubt be taken up by the International House of Justice."

(Letters from the Guardian to Australia and New Zealand, 1923-1957, p. 130)


994. Torture of Animals—When the Hearts of Men Change Medical Research Will Eliminate as Much Suffering of Animals as Possible

"The Guardian fully sympathizes with your repulsion against any torture to animals. However, he feels that as there are human beings being tortured much worse than animals all over the world, often physically, and more often mentally, that it is more important for the Baha'is to concentrate on what will free man from the cruelty and injustice which oppress him, rather than animals. Once we change human hearts, there will be no more cruelty to animals, and medical research will be carried out in a way which will eliminate as much suffering in experiments as possible."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, December 27, 1952)


995. During Vivisection Animal Must Be Well Anaesthetized

"The Universal House of Justice has received your letter of 19th January 1978 enquiring the Baha'i point of view on the vivisection of animals. The beloved Guardian was asked a similar question to which his secretary replied on his behalf, on 29 November 1955: 'As there is no definite and conclusive statement on Vivisection in the Baha'i Teachings, this is a matter which the International House of Justice will have to pass upon in the future.'


"The House of Justice does not wish to legislate upon this matter at the present [294] time. It is left to the consciences of the individual friends, who should make their decisions in light of the teachings concerning animals and their treatment.


"In this connection the House of Justice instructs us to say that in a Tablet in which He stresses the need for kindness to animals, 'Abdu'l-Baha states that it would be permissible to perform an operation on a living animal for the purposes of research even if the animal were killed thereby, but that the animal must be well anaesthetized and that the utmost care must be exercised that it does not suffer."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Italy, March 9, 1978: Some Aspects of Health, Healing, Nutrition and Related Matters, April 1984, p. 16)


996. Sins Are Potent Cause of Physical Ailments

"...It is certainly the case that sins are a potent cause of physical ailments. If humankind were free from the defilements of sin and waywardness, and lived according to a natural, inborn equilibrium, without following wherever their passions led, it is undeniable that diseases would no longer take the ascendant, nor diversify with such intensity.


"But man hath perversely continued to serve his lustful appetites, and he would not content himself with simple foods. Rather, he prepared for himself food that was compounded of many ingredients, of substances differing one from the other. With this, and with the perpetrating of vile and ignoble acts, his attention was engrossed, and he abandoned the temperance and moderation of a natural way of life. The result was the engendering of diseases both violent and diverse."

('Abdu'l-Baha: Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Baha, pp. 152-153)



E. Physical Education


997. Material Education

"...education is of three kinds: material, human and spiritual. Material education is concerned with the progress and development of the body, through gaining its sustenance, its material comfort and ease."

('Abdu'l-Baha: Some Answered Questions, 1981 ed., p. 8; cited in A Compilation of Extracts on Physical Education, p. 1, World Centre)


998. The Essentiality of Taking Proper Care of Child from the Early Days of His Life

"Unless the child, in his earliest years, be carefully tended, whether in a material or a spiritual sense, whether as to his physical health or his education, it will prove extremely difficult to effect any changes later on. For example, if a child is not properly cared for at the beginning of life, so that he doth not develop a sound body and his constitution doth not flourish as it ought, his body will remain feeble, and whatever is done afterward will take little effect. This matter of protecting the health of the child is essential, for sound health leadeth to insights and sense perceptions, and then the child, as he learneth sciences, arts, skills, and the civilities of life, will duly develop his powers...."

(From a previously untranslated Tablet by 'Abdu'l-Baha, Ibid., p. 1)


999. Give Them Advantage of Every Useful Kind of Knowledge

"While the children are yet in their infancy feed them from the breast of heavenly [295] grace, foster them in the cradle of all excellence, rear them in the embrace of bounty. Give them the advantage of every useful kind of knowledge. Let them share in every new and rare and wondrous craft and art. Bring them up to work and strive, and accustom them to hardship."

('Abdu'l-Baha: Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Baha, 1982 ed., p. 129: Ibid., p. 1)


1000. Training and Development of Physical Body Ensures Strength and Growth

"...education is of various kinds. There is a training and development of the physical body which ensures strength and growth."

('Abdu'l-Baha: The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 330: Ibid., p. 2)


1001. There Should Be a Program for the Development of Youth All Over the World

"...Baha'u'llah considered education as one of the most fundamental factors of a true civilization. This education, however, in order to be adequate and fruitful, should be comprehensive in nature and should take into consideration not only the physical and the intellectual side of man but also his spiritual and ethical aspects. This should be the program of the Baha'i youth all over the world."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, July 9, 1931: Ibid., p. 2)


1002. Playing Games

"Playing games is not in the least forbidden. It should in fact be encouraged if they are of an athletic nature."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to a National Spiritual Assembly, December 27, 1932: Ibid., p. 2)



F. Diet and Nutrition


1003. Treat Disease Through Diet, but Do Not Neglect Medical Care

"Do not neglect medical treatment when it is necessary, but leave it off when health has been restored. Treat disease through diet, by preference, refraining from the use of drugs; and if you find what is required in a single herb, do not resort to a compounded medicament... Abstain from drugs when the health is good, but administer them when necessary."

('Abdu'l-Baha: Baha'u'llah and the New Era, 1980 ed., p. 106, cited in ... Aspects of Health, Healing, Nutrition and Related Subjects, op. cit.)


1004. One Course Meal More Pleasing in the Sight of God

"In all circumstances they should conduct themselves with moderation; if the meal be only one course this is more pleasing in the sight of God; however, according to their means, they should seek to have this single dish be of good quality."

(Baha'u'llah: Kitab-i-Badi, Ibid.)


1005. Mother's Milk Normally is Best for the Child

"The child must, from the day of his birth, be provided with whatever is conducive to his health; and know ye this: so far as possible, the mother's milk is best for, more [296] agreeable and better suited to, the child, unless she should fall ill or her milk should run entirely dry."

(From a Tablet of 'Abdu'l-Baha to an individual believer: Ibid.)


1006. Abstinence from Eating Animal Flesh

"Regarding the eating of animal flesh and abstinence therefrom, know thou of a certainty that, in the beginning of creation, God determined the food of every living being, and to eat contrary to that determination is not approved. For instance, beasts of prey, such as the wolf, lion and leopard, are endowed with ferocious, tearing instruments, such as hooked talons and claws. From this it is evident that the food of such beasts is meat. If they were to attempt to graze, their teeth would not cut the grass, neither could they chew the cud, for they do not have molars. Likewise, God hath given to the four-footed grazing animals such teeth as reap the grass like a sickle, and from this we understand that the food of these species of animal is vegetable. They cannot chase and hunt down other animals. The falcon hath a hooked beak and sharp talons; the hooked beak preventeth him from grazing, therefore his food is also meat.


"But now coming to man, we see he hath neither hooked teeth nor sharp nails or claws, nor teeth like iron sickles. From this it becometh evident and manifest that the food of man is cereals and fruit. Some of the teeth of man are like millstones to grind the grain, and some are sharp to cut the fruit. Therefore he is not in need of meat, nor is he obliged to eat it. Even without eating meat he would live with the utmost vigour and energy. For example, the community of the Brahmins in India do not eat meat; notwithstanding this they are not inferior to other nations in strength, power, vigour, outward senses or intellectual virtues. Truly, the killing of animals and the eating of their meat is somewhat contrary to pity and compassion, and if one can content oneself with cereals, fruit, oil and nuts, such as pistachios, almonds and so on, it would undoubtedly be better and more pleasing."

(From a Tablet of 'Abdu'l-Baha written to an individual believer: Ibid.)


1007. The Four Canine Teeth in Man

"Thou hast written regarding the four canine teeth in man, saying that these teeth, two in the upper jaw and two in the lower, are for the purpose of eating meat. Know thou that these four teeth are not created for meat-eating, although one can eat meat with them. All the teeth of man are made for eating fruit, cereals and vegetables. These four teeth, however, are designed for breaking hard shells, such as those of almonds. But eating meat is not forbidden or unlawful, nay, the point is this, that it is possible for man to live without eating meat and still be strong. Meat is nourishing and containeth the elements of herbs, seeds and fruits; therefore sometimes it is essential for the sick and for the rehabilitation of health. There is no objection in the Law of God to the eating of meat if it is required. So if thy constitution is rather weak and thou findest meat useful, thou mayest eat it."

(From a Tablet of 'Abdu'l-Baha to an individual believer: Ibid.)


1008. The Bab Has Said that Baha'is Must Develop Medical Science So that Illness May Be Healed by Foods

"...The Bab hath said that the people of Baha must develop the science of medicine to such a high degree that they will heal illnesses by means of foods. The basic reason [297] for this is that if, in some component substance of the human body, an imbalance should occur, altering its correct, relative proportion to the whole, this fact will inevitably result in the onset of disease. If, for example, the starch component should be unduly augmented, or the sugar component decreased, an illness will take control. It is the function of a skilled physician to determine which constituent of his patient's body hath suffered diminution, which hath been augmented. Once he hath discovered this, he must prescribe a food containing the diminished element in considerable amounts, to re-establish the body's essential equilibrium. The patient, once his constitution is again in balance, will be rid of his disease.


"At whatever time highly-skilled physicians shall have developed the healing of illnesses by means of foods, and shall make provision for simple foods, and shall prohibit humankind from living as slaves to their lustful appetites, it is certain that the incidence of chronic and diversified illnesses will abate, and the general health of all mankind will be much improved. This is destined to come about. In the same way, in the character, the conduct and the manners of men, universal modifications will be made."

('Abdu'l-Baha: Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Baha, pp. 152-155)


1009. Medical Science is Only in Its Infancy

"'What will be the food of the future?' 'Fruit and grains. The time will come when meat will no longer be eaten. Medical science is only in its infancy, yet it has shown that our natural diet is that which grows out of the ground. The people will gradually develop up to the condition of this natural food.'"

('Abdu'l-Baha: Ten Days in the Light of Akka, 1979 ed., pp. 8-9)


1010. Should One Kill Animals for Food?

"In regard to the question as to whether people ought to kill animals for food or not, there is no explicit statement in the Baha'i Sacred Scriptures (as far as I know) in favour or against it. It is certain, however, that if man can live on a purely vegetarian diet and thus avoid killing animals, it would be much preferable. This is, however, a very controversial question and the Baha'is are free to express their views on it."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, July 9, 1931)


1011. Many Ailments that Affect Man Also Afflict Animals—Animals Heal Themselves with Food and Aliments

"The majority of the diseases which overtake man also overtake the animal, but the animal is not cured by drugs. In the mountains, as in the wilderness, the animal's physician is the power of taste and smell. The sick animal smells the plants that grow in the wilderness; he eats those that are sweet and fragrant to his smell and taste, and is cured. The cause of his healing is this. When the sugar ingredient has become diminished in his constitution, he begins to long for sweet things; therefore, he eats an herb with a sweet taste, for nature urges and guides him; its smell and taste please him, and he eats it. The sugar ingredient in his nature will be increased, and health will be restored.


"It is, therefore, evident that it is possible to cure by foods, aliments and fruits; but as today the science of medicine is imperfect, this fact is not yet fully grasped. When the science of medicine reaches perfection, treatment will be given by foods, aliments, fragrant fruits and vegetables, and by various waters, hot and cold in temperature."

('Abdu'l-Baha: Some Answered Questions, 1982 ed., pp. 257-259, Ibid.)


[298] 1012. Eating of Pork is Not Forbidden

"The eating of pork is not forbidden in the Baha'i Teachings."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, March 27, 1938: Ibid.)


1013. The Body is Like a Horse that Carries the Personality and Spirit

"...you should not neglect your health, but consider it the means which enables you to serve. It—the body—is like a horse which carries the personality and spirit, and as such should be well cared for so it can do its work! You should certainly safeguard your nerves, and force yourself to take time, and not only for prayer and meditation, but for real rest and relaxation."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, November 23, 1947)


1014. The Prophets of God Are Not Immune from Things which Men Suffer

"...as we suffer these misfortunes we must remember that the Prophets of God Themselves were not immune from these things which men suffer. They knew sorrow, illness and pain too. They rose above these things through Their spirits, and that is what we must try and do too, when afflicted. The troubles of this world pass, and what we have left is what we have made of our souls, so it is to this we must look to becoming more spiritual, drawing nearer to God, no matter what our human minds and bodies go through."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, August 5, 1949: Baha'i News, No. 231, May 1950, p. 1)


1015. No Specific School of Nutrition or Medicine Has Been Associated with the Baha'i Teachings

"No specific school of nutrition or medicine has been associated with the Baha'i teachings. What we have are certain guidelines, indications and principles which will be carefully studied by experts and will, in the years ahead, undoubtedly prove to be invaluable sources of guidance and inspiration in the development of these medical sciences. Moreover, in this connection the Guardian's secretary has stated on his behalf that 'It is premature to try and elaborate on the few general references to health and medicine made in our Holy Scriptures.' The believers must guard against seizing upon any particular text which may appeal to them and which they may only partially or even incorrectly understand....


"In the Kitab-i-Aqdas Baha'u'llah has stated: 'Whenever ye fall ill, refer to competent physicians. Verily, We have not abolished recourse to material means, rather have We affirmed it through this Pen which God hath made the Dawning Place of His luminous and resplendent Cause.' The secretaries of the Guardian have conveyed his guidance on this point in many letters to individual believers in passages such as these: '...refer to competent physicians, and abide by their considered decisions'; '...invariably consult and follow the treatment of competent and conscientious physicians...' and '...consult the best physicians ... doctors who have studied a scientific system of medicine.' Thus the obligation to consult physicians and to distinguish between doctors who are well trained in medical sciences and those who are not is clear, but the Faith should not be associated with any particular school of medical theory or practice. It is left to each believer to decide for himself which doctors he should consult, bearing in mind the principles enunciated above.


[299] "In matters of diet, as in medicine, the Universal House of Justice feels that the believers should be aware that a huge body of scientific knowledge has been accumulated as a guide to our habits and practices. Here too, as in all other things, the believers should be conscious of the two principles of moderation and courtesy in the way they express their opinions and in deciding whether they should refuse food offered to them or request special foods.


"There are, of course, instances where a believer would be fully justified in abstaining from or eating only certain foods for some medical reason, but this is a different matter and would be understood by any reasonable person."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, January 24, 1977)


1016. We Have Guidelines, Indications and Principles which Experts Will Carefully Study in the Future

"In matters of diet, as in medicine, the Universal House of Justice feels that the believers should be aware that a huge body of scientific knowledge has been accumulated as a guide to our habits and practices. But it must be clearly understood that no specific school of nutrition or medicine has been associated with the Baha'i teachings. What we have are certain guidelines, indications and principles which will be carefully studied by experts and will, in the years ahead, undoubtedly prove to be invaluable sources of guidance and inspiration in the development of these medical sciences. Moreover, in this connection the Guardian's secretary has stated on his behalf that 'It is premature to try and elaborate on the few general references to health and medicine made in our Holy Scriptures.' The believers must guard against seizing upon any particular text which may appeal to them and which they may only partially or even incorrectly understand."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, July 11, 1978)


1017. Believers Should Seek Help and Advice of Experts—The Teachings Say Nothing About Eating Meat or Fish

"In matters of health, particularly regarding diet and nutrition, the House of Justice advises the friends to seek the help and advice of experts and doctors. This is what Baha'u'llah has recommended and He does not indicate which school of thought or practice they should belong to. However, as you particularly ask about references in the Old Testament as they relate to meat and fish, the House of Justice has asked us to quote for you the following excerpt taken from a letter written on behalf of the beloved Guardian by his secretary to an individual believer:


'...there is nothing in the teachings about whether people should eat their food cooked or raw; exercise or not exercise; resort to specific therapies or not; nor is it forbidden to eat meat.'"

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, June 19, 1977)



XXV. HOLY DAYS


[300] 1018. Two Holy Days When Work is Not Prohibited—The Significance of the Day of the Covenant Explained

"In response to your letter of 2 December 1984 asking a question about the event commemorated on the Day of the Covenant, the Universal House of Justice has directed us to send you the following extract from a letter written on behalf of the beloved Guardian on this subject:


'The Day of the Covenant Nov. 26th and the Day of the Ascension Nov. 28th, anniversaries of the birth and the Ascension of 'Abdu'l-Baha must be observed by the friends coming together, but work is not prohibited. In other words the friends must regard observance of these two anniversaries as obligatory—but suspension of work not to be regarded as obligatory.'


"The explanation of how 26 November came to be substituted, in relation to the Birthday of 'Abdu'l-Baha, for 23 May is related by the late Hand of the Cause Hasan M. Balyuzi in his book, 'Abdu'l-Baha', on page 523:


'Abdu'l-Baha told the Baha'is that this day was not, under any circumstances, to be celebrated as His day of birth. It was the day of the Declaration of the Bab, exclusively associated with Him. But as the Baha'is begged for a day to be celebrated as His, He gave them November 26th, to be observed as the day of the appointment of the Centre of the Covenant...'


"The House of Justice hopes that this will assist your understanding of the significance of this important date in the Baha'i calendar."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the Administrative Committee for South Zaire, January 23, 1984)


1019. Suspension of Baha'i Administrative Activities on Baha'i Holy Days

"Concerning your question about holding meetings of consultation on Baha'i Holy Days, we have been requested to share with you an excerpt from the translation of a Persian letter from the beloved Guardian dated 3 January 1929 to an individual believer:


'On the Baha'i festivals and solemn commemorations it is preferable for Assemblies, Committees and Baha'i Institutions to suspend their activities. However, final decision in these matters rests with the Universal House of Justice.'


"The Universal House of Justice feels that the above directive of the Guardian is adequate for the time being. It should be clear, however, that should emergencies occur which require the holding of meetings of Baha'i institutions on the nine Holy Days of the Faith, this would be permissible."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Mexico, July 21, 1982)


[301] 1020. Baha'i Radio Should Refrain from Work on Nine Holy Days—Volunteers May Present Special Programs

"The Universal House of Justice has considered your inquiry of 18 April concerning Baha'i Holy Days and the operation of the Radio Baha'i facility in Labranza, and we have been asked to convey its reply.


"As you are well aware, not only should Baha'is refrain from work on the nine Holy Days, but the shops and establishments owned by Baha'is should also be closed on these Days. If government regulations do not require the station to be on the air on a mandatory daily basis, Radio Baha'i should not engage in regular broadcasts on the nine Holy Days. However, to aid the Baha'i Community in its observance of any one of these Days, the station may offer at a particular time a special program suited to such observance. Those wishing to be involved in the production and airing of the program would be rendering a special service.


"You have no doubt noted that since the Baha'i day begins at sunset and ends at the following sunset, no Gregorian day would be fully taken up by the observance of any one of the nine Baha'i Holy Days; thus there is time to broadcast regular programs every day of the Gregorian year. The station naturally will inform its listeners of the meaning of each Holy Day well in advance so that they can appreciate the reason for the station's silence on such a Day.


"The House of Justice feels that this confirmation of the religious character of the station would be a means of teaching, a source of encouragement to the believers and model for their emulation."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Chile, July 6, 1986)


1021. Business Places Owned by Baha'is Must Close During the Nine Holy Days—In the Baha'i Temple Minimal Essential Services May Be Provided

"The beloved Guardian made it absolutely clear that the command to cease work during the nine Holy Days is a matter for conscientious obedience by every individual believer. In the case of businesses and other undertakings entirely under Baha'i control they must also close down during the Baha'i Holy Days, even though non-Baha'is may be members of their staffs.


"It is fully appreciated that the Baha'i Temple must be open for worship on the Holy Days and therefore it is permitted to provide, to the minimum extent possible, essential services. Those necessary tasks, such as cleaning and other preparation of the building, which can be carried out on the previous day should be so done and only those duties which must be performed should be undertaken on the Holy Day. In the case of the Temple it is immaterial whether the workers are Baha'is or non-Baha'is since it is the duty of the Faith to observe, especially in respect of its own institutions, the command to cease work on the Holy Days."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Panama, August 12, 1977)


1022. Exceptions Can Be Made When Contract Demands Service

"Regarding the sale of tea and other refreshments in a cinema under non-Baha'i ownership: Those friends who have hired from the owner of the cinema a stall for the sale of such refreshments should make every effort to obtain permission to close on Baha'i holidays. In case, however, the non-Baha'i owner or partner refuses to grant their request their only alternative is to obey.


[302] "The case is different with a bread bakery owned by a believer. In this case there can be no excuse whatever why the shop should not be closed during Baha'i holidays, as there are always non-Baha'i bakers from whom the public can buy."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, February 28, 1937)


1023. Gift Giving is Not an Integral Part of Any of the Baha'i Holy Days—nor is There a Prohibition

"The exchanging of presents among believers or the giving of gifts to children is not an integral part of any of our nine Baha'i Holy Days. There is no prohibition against it, and it is, as you say, a custom among Persian believers such as the Baha'i to whom you spoke, to exchange gifts at Naw-Ruz.


"The desire of you and your husband to associate the time of gift giving with your children's involvement in the Faith of Baha'u'llah is praiseworthy and it is felt that the following extract from a letter written by the secretary of the beloved Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of Australia and New Zealand on December 26, 1941 will be of value to you: 


'The intercalary days are specifically set aside for hospitality, the giving of gifts, etc. Baha'u'llah Himself specified that they be used this way, but gave no explanation for it.'


"In 'The Baha'i World', Vol. XV, p. 691 we read: 'Baha'u'llah designated those days as the 'Ayyam-i-Ha' and ordained that they should immediately precede the month of Ala, which is the month of fasting. He enjoined upon His followers to devote these days to feasting, rejoicing, and charity.'"

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, January 18, 1982)


1024. Proper Time to Hold Meetings of Commemoration

"...Regarding your question of the proper time to celebrate or hold our meetings of commemoration: The time should be fixed by counting after sunset; the Master passed away one hour after midnight, which falls a certain number of hours after sunset; so His passing should be commemorated according to the sun and regardless of daylight saving time. The same applies to the ascension of Baha'u'llah Who passed away about 8 hours after sunset."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of the British Isles, August 12, 1944)


1025. Naw-Ruz

"...This sacred day, when the sun illumines equally the whole earth, is called the equinox, and the equinox is the symbol of the Manifestation of God. The Sun of Truth rises on the horizon of Divine Mercy and sends forth its rays. This day is consecrated to commemorate it...."

(Talk by 'Abdu'l-Baha, March 21, 1913: Star of the West, Vol. V, No. 1, p. 4)


1026. Naw-Ruz Has Nothing to Do with the Nineteen Day Feast

"He would like to point out that if the believers gather before sundown on a certain date it does not matter if the meeting continues after sunset; it may still be considered as being held on the day they gathered. The Naw-Ruz Feast should be held on March 21 before sunset and has nothing to d